Have you ever felt like a fraud in what you do for a living?
I do. Right now.
Three days ago I had surgery to remove my breast implants that I got when I was 22 years old. I made this decision because I believe they were causing various health problems I’ve been experiencing, and autoimmune issues I’ve been having in the past few years.
Leading up to the surgery I had nothing but positive thoughts. I knew that this was what needed to be done to regain my health. I had visions of how I would feel better, look better, and be completely confident after my surgery… I boasted about how much I’ve changed since the young age of 22, and how now I was so comfortable in my skin, and I loved myself so much, I would never consider getting them in the first place if I were presented with the option today.
I was wrong. So naively wrong.
No, I’m not considering getting implants again… I do 100% believe that they are the root cause for my health problems, but I am not the happy, confident “I don’t give a fuck about how I look… I love myself no matter what” person that I thought I was just four days ago.
I am struggling. Big time.
I don’t know that I’ve had this type of body image issues before. I don’t look how I expected to look. To be honest, I probably don’t look that bad… I probably look like a normal 41 year old with saggy boobs…. saggy boobs with scars… but, for me… this is not my normal.
Body image is such a personal topic. We all try to console each other because we don’t see other’s “flaws” the way that they see themselves. To us, we probably don’t even notice, or if we do, it’s not as big of deal as our own perceived “flaws”. We look at others and think “Oh, you think THAT’S bad… Look at THIS.” When we say these things to each other we minimize the feelings of the other person… No, it may not seem like a big deal to us, but to them… it is.
This is what I’m experiencing right now. I’ve shown a few close friends what I look like now, the doctor and nurse have seen me, and all tell me I look good… I look normal. But, to me… It’s not normal.
I am terrified to ever be intimate with a man again. I’ve never felt that way before in my life. Never. I’m dreading going to work on Monday for fear people will be extra observant of the size of my chest because of my announcement that I had my implants removed. I’m afraid I’ll get a sick feeling in my stomach anytime I look in the mirror for the rest of my life.
None of these fears and emotions are normal to me.
I genuinely believed with every fiber of my being that I truly loved myself enough that what I looked like on the outside had no value in my life… but, that’s not true.
For someone who preaches “Your value is not determined by how you look on the outside… Your value is within – who YOU are”… I feel like a fraud.
On top of feeling the emotions I have about how I look now, I’ve been beating myself up all day for having these thoughts in the first place… I “should” be above this.
But, just like I tell my clients, I need to stop.
I may not be able to control how I feel about how I look right at this moment, but I can control the mental beating I’ve been giving myself for being human.
It’s okay for me to not love how I look right now. I just had freaking surgery three days ago! I still have drains protruding from my chest wall. I’m wrapped up like a mummy in an Ace wrap to keep pressure on everything. Today was the first day I could take a full shower and wash my hair. I drove 6 hours round-trip by myself for my follow-up appointment.
That’s pretty fucking amazing.
I may not love how I look at the moment, but I love how strong and independent I am. I may not love how I look at the moment, but I love myself enough to know that I did the right thing by having them removed. I may not love how I look right now, but I love myself enough to care for myself by eating healthy food, asking for help when I do need it, and for being brave enough to confide these thoughts, emotions, and fears to others… being vulnerable about my insecurities, especially when I’m supposed to be a role model for self love, self care, health, etc. is TREMENDOUS growth on my part. The 22 year old girl who got those implants had so many walls of perfectionism up, SHE didn’t know what was real or fake anymore.
No, I am not the same person I was 18 years ago. No, I am not a fraud for feeling the way I feel right now…
Yes, I may have gone into this with some naivety, but that doesn’t make me fake or a fraud by any means. I only knew what I knew at the time, and I made a decision based on that knowledge. Now I know more, because I’m experiencing it… not just assuming I know how I’ll feel.
None of this makes me a fraud.
This makes me human.
This experience will ultimately help me to understand when my clients express these thoughts, emotions, and fears themselves… I know that. Someday I will be grateful for this experience, because like all difficult experiences I’ve had in my life… this will force me to grow. I will eventually overcome these thoughts, emotions, and fears… and I will be content with myself again.
But, man, it’s a bitch to go through right now.
I have decided to have my breast implants removed, as I do believe they are contributing to my autoimmune issues and declining health.
I’m sure that may come as a shock to some, as most people are unaware that I have implants, as they look natural.
When I was 22, I decided to have breast augmentation surgery. Why? Honestly, I don’t know. I actually didn’t hate my breasts… I hated sooooooooo many things about my body back then – my thighs, my butt, my nose, my hair, my skin, my legs – so many things, but my breasts weren’t one of them. So, why did I get them? The only logical answer I can come up with is… Because the mind will focus on the exterior “flaws”, when it’s trying to avoid the interior pain.
I grew up in a very abusive household. I was made to feel unworthy and not valued in every way possible. I later grew up and found myself in an abusive relationship in my early 20s. I hated myself, and I found someone to verify all of the reasons why I should hate myself. I hated how I looked. I hated how I acted. I felt like everyone hated me too… and that was the narrative that was repeated to me over and over by my boyfriend at the time. It’s so fucked up, but it felt “normal”, so it felt “right”…. even though it was sooooo wrong.
My best friend at the time had breast augmentation herself during that time, and I honestly think that was the first I even considered the notion myself. I started noticing things that were “wrong” with my breasts, such as one was a full B cup, and one was a small C cup… this then became my obsession of something I needed to fix.
My boyfriend thought it was a great idea when I mentioned my sudden contemplation, and he even offered to pay half. (he didn’t) So, I decided to set up a consultation. I went in thinking that we would just talk to the doctor, and I would go home and think about it… I don’t think I really thought I would go through with it, but during the consultation visit it was just assumed by the staff that I would be having the surgery, and all of the sudden I found myself scheduling it.
I remember the day of the surgery I passed out as the doctor was marking me, as I was soooooo nervous.
I wanted to back out so many times, but I had no boundaries… I didn’t have the strength to say “no”…. a common issue that stems from growing up in an abusive household. I also didn’t want to look foolish, as I had told people I was going to do it. Also, I knew that if I did back out right then, I would later have the surgery because of my growing obsession with my “imperfect breasts”. So, I did it.
After my surgery, I jokiningly referred to them as “The Girls”. They took a while to get used to, as they felt very foreign to me. Clothes fit me differently, but over time I forgot I even had them. They became a part of me.
Now that I’m planning on having them removed I’m afraid of losing this part of me… I have so many thoughts going through my head…
What if I go through all of this and I don’t get better? Am really I strong enough to make this decision? What will people think? Will I lose business because of this? What will I look like? Will I be deformed for the rest of my life? Will anybody find me attractive? Could I create further complications by having the explantation surgery? Will I cause more financial burden with this decision? Could I die and orphan my child having this surgery? What will my daughter think when she finds out? What will other people think of me when they find out I have implants? What will people say about me after the surgery? Will people think I’m totally self-obsessed about my looks? Will people think I’m a terrible example for my daughter? What if people no longer think of me as a role model for health because of all of this? What if… What if… What if…
Nothing about this decision is easy. Easy would be keeping them and continue living the status quo that I’ve lived for nearly 2 decades.
The anxiety is real.
It’s hard not to regret the decision to get implants in the first place, as I wonder if I would’ve ever started experiencing these health problems if I hadn’t ever gotten them… but, I can’t change my past, so I have to focus on making my future healthy. All I can do is find purpose in this path I’ve taken. Finding purpose in a difficult situation helps me to make sense of my difficulties. It gives me some peace knowing that God will use my trials to help others… So, I’ve thought about it a lot…
What is the purpose of this?
Is it to warn people about possible negative health effects of breast implants? I don’t think so.
Is it to tell people about autoimmunity and my experience? Maybe…
After much thought and consideration, I feel that the purpose of this is to tell my story. How I came to the decision to have breast augmentation in the first place, and where I am now.
I feel my purpose is to show compassion.
I feel my purpose is to forgive.
I feel my purpose is not to preach, but to be an example of all these things.
I don’t blame my boyfriend at the time for this decision, even though he did strongly urge it… it was 100% my decision. Period. But, it wasn’t me – who I am today – that made that decision nearly 2 decades ago.
The decision to alter my body was made by a very troubled girl. A girl that was so silently depressed. A girl that felt no value whatsoever. A girl that felt she needed to “prove” herself. A girl who didn’t really even think she’d be around long enough to need to change out her implants at the recommended 10 year mark. A girl that was so incredibly broken she felt like a shell of a human.
That’s the person who made the decision.
I’m not blaming her either. She didn’t know any better. She wasn’t taught how to love herself. She wasn’t taught she was fearfully and wonderfully made. She wasn’t taught she had value or worth.
She was searching for her value. She was searching for her worth. She was searching for happiness. She was looking for something to control in a life that she felt was consuming her whole. She was searching for something, ANYTHING to fill that void… her looks and her body were something she could control, and for brief moments that made her feel significant… so, she focused on that and how to get more. And just like she learned for many years that people who loved her were allowed to abuse her, neglect her, and mistreat her… that’s exactly what she did to herself.
This is all she ever knew. So, I forgive her…
I have forgiven my abusers of my past because they were just repeating patterns and behaviors they had learned from their pasts… and I have forgiven that girl for doing the same. If I could go back and love her, cherish her, and show her she is valued, I would… but, I know that she wouldn’t have accepted that anyways. She would’ve pushed it away, because it felt wrong.
Today I love her…
I can honestly say that I love myself. I don’t always like myself, and how I look or act, but I always love myself… I love myself for everything I have been through, and how strong it made me. I love myself for stopping the cycle of abuse here. Hopefully my daughter will learn from my mistakes. I don’t have it all figured out, and I don’t really know how to let someone else love me the way I deserve to be loved, but I stopped the cycle of abuse. That’s fucking amazing. I do not want my daughter to see me being abused and think that is okay. I will not let anyone abuse her, demean her, or make her feel unworthy or not valued. I pray everyday that she sees in me that my worth comes from Christ… not how I look, not my accomplishments, not my profession, not a relationship, not anything of this world… my value is in Him. My hope is that she knows her value is in Him, as well.
I wrote this blog months ago when I first decided to explant. My thoughts about it today are much different…. My implants are not a part of me. I am at peace with my decision. Yes, I am nervous about it, as it is a major decision, but I am at peace with my beliefs about it or how others will view it. I know I’m making the right decision for me, and I pray that it will be the answer to the puzzle that is my declining health.
If you, or anyone you know, are dealing with breast implants, or breast implant illness, please reach out. The reason I tell my story is to help others… I know I’m not alone in this, and by talking about it I hope to help others feel less alone in this too. I currently experience 21 of these 42 common symptoms on a regular basis. I’m hoping to reduce that number greatly after I have had a chance to heal from this surgery, and everything that goes along with it. Prayers and good vibes for a quick recovery are appreciated.
Stay healthy, and know that YOU ARE WORTHY… just as you are,
If you’ve ever watched my stories on social media, you’ve probably seen pictures of the food I eat in a day. I realize these stories are not the most exciting thing to watch about my day, and by no means do I feel like anyone really cares what I eat lol… BUT, as a nutritionist/trainer, one of the most frequent questions I am asked is “What should I eat?” or “What do you eat?” So I decided to just start snapping a pic of what I typically eat in a day, from time to time… after all, I practice what I preach when it comes to nutrition and exercise. So, why not be an example… instead of preachy. 😉
My meals mainly consist of organic vegetables, organic grass fed beef & free range chicken and eggs, healthy fats like grass fed butter and avocado, and some slow digesting carbs. My meals are simple to prepare, but they are still delicious – food doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated to taste great. My food pics aren’t as captivating as food bloggers, who make extravagantly beautiful meals, perfectly plated, in the perfect lighting. No, they are pretty basic… but, that’s real life. So, even though the food isn’t always mouthwatering to look at, it tastes delicious, and it’s healthy… which is what matters.
One of the excuses I hear most about healthy eating is “I don’t have time to cook.” Listen, I am a single mom, who works long hours everyday. I’m at work before sunrise, and I usually get home around sunset. If I don’t have healthy, prepared food available for me and my daughter to eat… healthy food does not get eaten. 😉 So, I batch cook proteins and loads of veggies on the weekend. It usually takes me about 90 minutes to prepare all of our cooked foods for the week. Then, throughout the week these foods are heated up as a single serving, and I add healthy fats and spices and seasonings to taste. I’ll also add fruits, and quickly prepped things, like guacamole, as sides throughout the week as well. It takes about 5-10 minutes per meal to heat up, and add any extras (like guac). This method is the only way I have found where I can consistently eat healthy, on a daily basis.
The next most frequent question I get after “What do you eat?” is “Does your kid eat all of those vegetables?”
Yep. She sure does. 🙂
Is this because I was gifted with some super healthy kid, that loves to eat vegetables?
My kid did not grow up eating healthy, like she does today. Nope, she started out on a pretty typical American diet. It wasn’t the worst, unhealthiest foods available. We’ve never really been fast food people, but her diet did consist of it’s fair share or mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, pizza, fries, etc. until she was about 8 or 9 years old.
So, how did I change this?
I quit feeding her that stuff. In fact, I quit buying that stuff altogether…. because it’s not food. Mac and cheese is not food. Cereal is not food. Fruit snacks are not food. Pretty much all of the packaged foods in the middle of the grocery store is not food. It is food-like substances, marketed to us as food. Food is supposed to nourish us. It’s supposed to provide us with not only macronutrients (Calories, carbohydrates, fats, and protein), but also micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc) that keep us healthy. Packaged foods are not designed this way. They are mass produced, at the cheapest cost, to provide the biggest profit. They are Calorie dense, but lacking in the micronutrients that keep us healthy. This is why you can be overweight, but still be deficient in certain vitamins and minerals.
What changed all of this? Well, to be honest it was a change in my diet. A few years ago I started experiencing health problems, which made me change my perspective on food and nutrition. It suddenly wasn’t about Calories, now it was how I could nourish my body so it could heal. Initially I didn’t change my daughter’s diet. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but as I was filling my plate with organic vegetables, I was frequently feeding her Ramen Noodles or other foods that were completely void of nutrition. I was so focused on getting my health back, that I knew I needed to focus on my nutrition… kinda like putting the oxygen mask on myself first. She needed a mom, and I figured “she’s healthy, so it’s not as important for her”. So untrue. In reality, it’s probably MORE important for her to eat healthy than for me. SHE’S the one who is still growing and developing. Her organ systems, including her brain, hormones, etc. aren’t fully developed yet. The body that she is building will be determined by the foods she eats today. She can grow into a healthy, thriving adult… or she can grow into an adult with health problems, weight problems, mental problems and feeling less than optimal.
So, I made the decision for her which path she would take – thriving and healthy, and I changed her eating habits for her. Some would argue that this is cruel or controlling or whatever… but, it’s not. I’m simply teaching her the proper way to eat. I’m teaching her about nutrition. I’m teaching her healthy habits that (hopefully) will last a lifetime. Yes, as an adult she will have the choice of how she wants to live her life, but just like everything else, teaching my kid how to eat healthy is my job as a parent. No one thinks it’s cruel or controlling to teach your kid how to read, or how to do math. No, everyone agrees that these are necessary things to learn to be successful in this world, But, when it comes to food there is a weird stigma around it. I believe part of the reason for this stigma is we, as a society, have completely lost the perspective of what food is – food is fuel for our bodies. Our bodies cannot run indefinitely without it. Food was made to keep us alive, but somewhere along the way we decided that food = pleasure. Now I’m not saying that food is not pleasurable… as we all know it is, myself included. But, that is not the primary reason we have food available on this planet. God provided it to us to nourish us… the fact that He made it pleasurable is just a bonus. (Thank God for that! Literally!) 😉 So, just like with most of the good things God gave us, we’ve gone to the extreme seeking pleasure 100% of the time when it comes to what we put on our plates. This is where dysfunction comes into how we eat. Instead of seeing food for what it is – fuel for our bodies – we see it as something to make us experience pleasure, something to control, something to idolize. These are not the ways I want my kid to grow up looking at food, as I know, first hand, it does not develop a healthy relationship with food or healthy eating habits for life. So, I decided to teach my kid what food is for – to make us healthy. Not everything we eat is for pleasure. Yes, it can all taste good, but it needs to serve a purpose beyond taste. The primary purpose for each meal needs to be to provide our bodies with the nutrients that it needs. It’s okay to OCCASIONALLY eat something purely for pleasure… even I would love to have the brownie instead of the broccoli. I’m human. But, first we focus on health.
There are so many things we do in life that are necessary so we can experience the pleasurable things too. For instance… I love my job, but I don’t want to go there everyday… but, being a responsible adult I still go there on days I don’t want to because I want to pay my bills. I love working out, but I don’t want to everyday… but, because I value my health I make sure to get movement in each day. I don’t always want to eat my vegetables, but I do it everyday so I can be healthy and thrive in every area of my life. We do the things necessary in so many other aspects of our lives, so we can live a full life that includes pleasure, but for some reason, when it comes to food, people feel it is restrictive to primarily focus on health instead of pleasure. But, to be able to show up fully in this life, you have to have your health.
I know this is not a popular opinion, but it’s not even my opinion. In my Dietetics program we had an entire course over childhood nutrition. It was taught to us that a kid will eat the foods that we expose to them. If you want your kid to eat healthy, you have to provide healthy foods to them. It was taught to us that it can take 10 times of exposure for a kid to develop a taste for a vegetable… I can tell you from experience, that is true. Over and over my daughter would turn up her nose at the different vegetables I gave to her, but eventually she has learned to like them…. for the most part… brussel sprouts are still the one thing we argue about, but I still make her try them from time to time… eventually I will win this battle. Eventually. 😉 Now, I offer her multiple vegetable choices at each meal, and I let her choose a couple. Another trick I used in the beginning was I let my daughter cook the vegetables. She felt a sense of pride in cooking them, so she wasn’t about to declare that the food she worked so hard on was gross… nope, she said it was good… then she adapted a taste for them, so now she’ll eat them even when I cook them.
So, just like we (hopefully) teach our kids that they have to work for their success in life, we need to teach our kids to value themselves, and their health, to make healthy decisions in life. Because if you think that your kid will magically grow up and suddenly start eating healthy simply because they’re an adult – wrong. The way they will eat is a learned behavior… just like it’s a learned behavior for us. So, if you are struggling yourself to eat healthy, just know that you’re passing on your struggles to your kid for the rest of their life too… unless, YOU change your behaviors, as well. We all know that kids won’t do what we say, unless we do it ourselves. So, start valuing yourself, and your health, enough to make healthy decisions. It is more important than your waistline… it determines your health, your kid’s health, their kid’s health, and so on… you have the power to stop unhealthy behaviors right now.
It was a process, but today my kid knows she is to eat vegetables at lunch and dinner. (Still working on breakfast) 😉 It took a good 9 months or so of arguing at dinner to make her eat her vegetables, but eventually it became the norm for her. I did not give her any other options. Either she ate what was on her plate, or she didn’t eat. Even the most stubborn kids will eventually give in and eat… BUT, you cannot have the junk available. That crap is not food. It is marketing. A kid does not need mac and cheese to have a good childhood. A kid does not need cereal to have a good childhood. A kid does not need soda to have a good childhood. That is all marketing sold to us to make us as parents feel like we’re providing our kids with love. Food is not love. Food is food.
If you are struggling to get your kids to eat healthy first look at your diet… if you aren’t walking the walk, don’t expect them it from them. They will do as they see. Don’t buy packaged foods. Don’t even bring it into the house. If it is there on hand your kids will eat it… you will eat it. Decide right now to eat REAL FOOD. Leave the junk food for special occasions out. Finally, find the best way for you to prepare your food yourself. Figure out the system that works best for you to always have healthy food on hand… don’t wait until you’re starving to think about preparing healthy food. Batch cook food to have available at all times… and choose to eat it! You health, and your kids’ health, is up to you. You decide with every bite you take whether you are building your body stronger, or tearing it down. Value your health. Value yourself. Teach your kids that they are valuable too, and they deserve to live long, healthy lives.
To you and your family’s health,
A rainy afternoon in, with the kiddo, calls for a sweet treat. 👩👧 We didn’t feel like baking, so we made edible “cookie dough”. Easy to make, yummy, and good for us too. 😋
Edible Collagen Cookie Dough
• 2 Tbsp cashew butter
• 2 scoops collagen (I used Ancient Nutrition vanilla for me and chocolate for the kiddo https://store.draxe.com/products/collagen-protein )
• 1/2 Tbsp coconut flour
• Coconut milk to desired consistency
• 1-2 Tbsp Enjoy Life mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
Chocolate Chip for me, and Double Chocolate Chip for her.
(If you wanted to make it sweeter you could add vanilla stevia, but we liked it just like this.)
That’s it! Super simple. No bake. Kiddo approved. 👍🏻
I debated whether to post this publicly, but I decided to go ahead because I want to be a beacon of hope to anyone who needs it. A few weeks ago I was diagnosed with Lupus. For almost 3 years I have been struggling with chronic pain throughout my entire body, EXTREME fatigue, brain fog, swelling of my face and body, weight gain despite my impeccable diet and consistent exercise, and many other various symptoms. (although I’ve had other symptoms that didn’t seem to be related for decades)
When I was at my worst 2 years ago I sought treatment from holistic doctors whom I knew personally and I trusted, and I’m so glad I did. Receiving care from them changed my perspective on nutrition, fitness, health, and life. Although my formal education is in nutrition and biomedical sciences, it left something to be desired in teaching me how the body works together as a whole. With the guidance of my doctors I have regained my life back. Yes, I still deal with pain, fatigue, and brain fog sometimes, and I’m still struggling with my weight… I’m not going to lie – some days are REALLY fucking hard… but because of the changes in diet, lifestyle, and mindset I’ve made the past 2 years, I continue to improve. This allows me to lead an active and healthy life I love, despite having a chronic disease which I have been told is incurable.
Am I happy that I have Lupus? No. But, my hope is to use this knowledge to inspire and help others. If anything, this will become just one more pillar to my platform of health.
The reality is I’ve had this for a long time, now it simply has a name. Nothing has changed. I was soooooooooo sick 2 years ago when it was at its worst. I actually took out a disability insurance policy because I wasn’t sure how much longer I could work and provide for my daughter. I had people tell me that these things – joint pain, fatigue, brain fog, weight gain, etc – were just part of getting older, and I needed to accept that it’s a part of life. I had people tell me that I was probably just depressed, and needed an antidepressant. I had people think that I was a crazy hypochondriac (I did too tbh), or that I was exaggerating how bad I felt. I had doctors tell me I was probably just eating too much, and that’s why my weight kept going up. NO. I refused to accept any of these things. NONE of this is true. Pain is not normal. Fatigue is not normal. Chronic skin conditions are not normal. GI discomfort is not normal. Brain fog is not normal…. NONE of these things are a “normal” part of getting older. These are signals your body is sending you that something is “off” and needs to be addressed. Do NOT just live with it, or take a medication to mask the symptoms… find the root cause, and fix it. Just because you alleviate a symptom with a medication does not mean you fixed the problem. Whatever is causing that root problem is still causing damage to your DNA even if you’ve lessened the symptom with medication… that underlying damage that is occurring is what will lead to diseases such as autoimmune diseases, cancer, heart disease, dementia, and everything else. I may have been able to prevent the development of this autoimmune disease if I had listened to the signals my body was telling me decades ago… who knows. It doesn’t matter now… what’s done is done, and I can’t dwell on what I “could’ve done” differently. I was doing the best I could with the knowledge I had at the time… I’m just hoping others can learn from my experience.
Find a functional medicine doctor who listens to you, and works with you on lifestyle changes to restore your health. You may have to pay out of pocket, but there isn’t a price tag on living a long, healthy life. Your life and your health are worth this expense. I have restored my health myself, with the guidance of my team of functional medicine doctors, with the diet, lifestyle and mindset changes I adopted. I do not take any medications. Each year I get better and better. You can too.
I am not opposed to medications btw… I worked in conventional healthcare for 18+ years, but what I’ve learned from that time and going through this experience is… our “healthcare” system is not actually “ health care”… it is sick care. It’s about managing symptoms with medications, but not actually fixing the problem. Lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise, stress management, supplementation, etc. are seen as “alternative” treatments. THAT IS SO WRONG. Disease is caused by underlying inflammation in the body – all disease. Genetics actually have very little to do with it… yes, you may be more susceptible to certain diseases because of gene variants, but just because you have those genes does not mean you are doomed to a life with disease. Those defective genes are “turned on” by our environment- food, external environment, lifestyle, etc. We have the power to control whether we stay healthy or we get sick by what we eat, what we think, and how we live our lives. To truly HEAL you HAVE to stop doing the things that are hurting you. Nutrition and lifestyle should be FIRST LINE treatment for ANY symptom… IF that isn’t enough, THEN other treatments such as supplements should be looked at… then FINALLY medications. *end rant* 😉 lol
Throughout this whole experience the past couple of years, my relationship with God deepened. On my worst days I would sit in my car and pray to God to give me the strength to walk up the stairs to my apartment so I could be “mom” to my kiddo… and He did. God is good. God never leaves us. He is always there… honestly, in my weakest times is when I feel his presence the most, because it forces me to let go of my “stuff” and I allow Him to carry me through, and it gives me peace. I knew He would bring the people into my life that could help me… and He did. I’ve learned so much from them. All along I knew that there was purpose for this. God didn’t give me Lupus… it was many different factors throughout my lifetime that caused it, but God has always used me and my struggles to help others. I know He will continue to do so with this. My hope is that I can inspire others heal. I want to show those who are suffering that they can take their power back. Quit looking outside of yourself for healing. It’s not in a pill. It’s not your doctor that will heal you… it’s you. That’s not to say you don’t need a doctor, but, if your doctor is not listening to you or telling you it’s “all in your head” or nothing can be done – find a new doctor. Be your own health advocate. Research all options. Question everything. Learn. Face the scary things. Do the work necessary to heal. You are worthy of health. You are worthy of feeling well. You are worthy.
If you are in good health – don’t waste it! You never know when it could be taken away. Get off your butt, and move your body. Whatever crazy, wild dream you want to accomplish- DO IT. Now. I’m so thankful that I didn’t choose to waste my health and be sedentary. I’m so thankful I had the courage to take on challenges I was fearful to do for many years – like competing… nothing and no one can ever take those experiences from me. I get to live with the knowledge that I am tough – physically and mentally. These physical and mental challenges I chose to take on over the years have tested my strength, endurance, and resiliency. They have given me confidence to tackle this challenge too. I’m not scared. I know I can do it.
If you are facing a health problem – you CAN overcome it. A diagnosis is not a death sentence. It is possible to live a happy, healthy, and thriving life even if you’re facing this type of challenge… I know, because I am doing it. I still do Tough Mudders. I still exercise regularly. I still do all the things I want to do. My competing days are probably over because I don’t think I can get that lean, and still be healthy… it’s not worth the risk to me… but, I don’t focus on the things that may not be exactly the way I like them. Where you focus your energy is what will flourish in your life. I choose to focus on the good in my life. I choose to focus on every little progress I make in the right direction. I choose take advantage of every capability God has given me to the fullest. I choose be grateful for it all – good and bad. I choose to live my purpose. I choose to thrive.
You can too. ❤️
I had a few ripe bananas that needed to be used, so kiddo and I decided to make banana bread. 😋 🍌
It’s gluten free, with very little added sugar, but it’s super moist and delish! 😁🍌 The topping makes it ooey gooey, as you can see in the next pic.
Banana Walnut Bread with Butter Pecan Crust
For the bread:
3 ripe bananas
3 eggs (I used Happy Egg)
1/4 c cashew butter
2 tbsp coconut sugar
1 tbsp Ceylon cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp pink Himalayan salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 c walnuts, crushed (optional)
For the crust topping:
1/2 c pecans
4 tbsp Kerrygold butter
2 tbsp coconut sugar
1/2 tbsp Ceylon cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Preheat oven 350. Combine all bread ingredients in a mixer, and mix. (Or mix by hand if you want to use those muscles 💪🏻 😉) Coat bread pan with coconut oil spray or butter. Pour in mixture. For the topping: combine all ingredients in a food processor or a blender until smooth. Scoop topping onto top of bread mixture, and spread over the top with spatula. Bake for 40 min.
Let cool, and enjoy! It’s even kiddo approved! 😉 (although she would have preferred I ground the walnuts up finer… next time! 😁)
I am often told I don’t look my age. Most people guess me to be in my late 20s or early 30s when they first meet me. They’re surprised to find out that I am actually the ripe old age of 40. I’m not complaining about this one bit! 🙂 Nope, I’m trying to hold onto my youth just as much as the next person, but I try not to obsess or stress about it too much. I simply do the things that I feel make a big impact on how I look and feel. Because what’s the point of looking youthful if you feel old, right? 😉
So, what do I do to stay looking (and feeling) as young as possible? Well, it’s not what I do on the outside, it’s what I do on the inside that has the biggest bang for my buck. I actually didn’t start using any type of anti-aging serums, creams, or anything like that until I was 39 or so… Until then I was still struggling with acne from food sensitivities and hormonal issues, and anti-aging products just made it worse. So, I didn’t use anything besides an eye cream I liked to help with under eye bags. Nope, almost all of my anti-aging strategies are what I put IN my body… not what I put ON my body.
Our bodies are in a constant state of breaking down and removing old, damaged cells, and replacing them with new cells. This begins from the moment we are born. Aging occurs when the breakdown happens faster than the regeneration.
So, how do we obtain the products necessary regenerate new cells?
The food we eat is broken down into molecules that are used in every metabolic process to keep us alive, and to build new cells to replace the old. We literally are what we eat! It is estimated that every 7 years we have an entirely new body, as the old cells have died off, and have been replaced with new cells. Some organ systems’ cells die off and regenerate very quickly, such as our GI tract which regenerates every 3-5 days, and other systems such as our bones and our brains take longer. Either way, whatever you choose to put into your mouth today will impact the body you have tomorrow, next month, next year and beyond…. it will influence how you feel AND how you look.
Here are my top 8 anti-aging habits:
- Cut out sugar – In my early 30s I switched from being a junk food junkie to a whole food junkie. I cut out the majority of processed foods. I started shopping the perimeter of the grocery store instead of the aisles. I switched from highly refined sugars, such as high fructose corn syrup in packaged foods, to more natural sugars such as pure maple syrup in homemade goodies. Over the last decade I have refined that even more. I now eat lower carbohydrate in general, as all carbs (except fiber) are converted to sugar in the body. Most of my carb sources are high fiber, and have minimal impact on my blood sugar. Now, I rarely use added sugars at all… when I do, I usually cut them in half in recipes. I still use a little bit of pure maple syrup from time to time because I love the taste, and if I do choose to use cane sugar, I use organic, and half the amount. I try to use coconut sugar in baking anytime I can as it has a lower effect on blood sugar than refined cane sugar. I use natural sweeteners that don’t impact blood sugar levels, such as stevia or monk fruit, whenever possible. Why does sugar have an impact on aging? Well, for one, sugar is inflammatory. Inflammation is the precursor to pretty much every disease. As far as our skin goes, sugar binds to proteins in a process called glycation. This is the same process that gives bread it’s crust. So, basically sugar binds to proteins in our cells (and our skin) and causes them to be hard and “crusty”… I don’t know about you, but I hope no one ever describes my skin as “crusty”. lol… By cutting sugar I have allowed new cells to generate over the last decade with a more supple look.
- Eat the rainbow – If you have followed me on social media for while you have seen the transformation of my meals over the years. Today I eat a sh*t ton of vegetables everyday. (yes, that’s more than a crap ton 😉 lol) I try to have several servings of leafy greens everyday, and I try to incorporate as many colors of vegetables as possible into my day. I also stick to low sugar fruits, with deep, dark colors, such as blueberries and blackberries too. Why does this matter? Polyphenols and antioxidants. Poly-wha??? Polyphenols are compounds in foods such as fruits, vegetables, coffee, tea, and spices. They have been getting more attention in recent years as they are showing promise in disease prevention as well as anti-aging. Antioxidants are a component of polyphenols. They have been researched for decades in their role against fighting off oxidative damage in our cells. Oxidative damage occurs when pollutants and stressors from our environment cause free radicals. A free radical is an oxygen containing moelcule that has one or more unpaired electrons, making it highly reactive with other molecules. The unpaired electron causes a chain reaction of that cell “stealing” an electron from another molecule to become stable. That causes the next molecule to become unstable, and the process continues. Antioxidants we consume in our foods are broken down to a molecular level, and provide electrons to those unstable molecules, thus stopping the chain reaction of damaged cells. Antioxidants such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E (among others) are especially beneficial to our skin. So, why not just take antioxidant supplements? Because you don’t get the full spectrum of polyphenols and antioxidants from a pill that has isolated one small component. All of these compounds work in conjunction to repair damage and build new molecules, which build new cells. By simply supplementing without having a base of a healthy diet, you only get partial benefits… which may not actually benefit at all. Supplementing is fine if you are deficient in something, and unable to achieve optimal levels by food alone, but supplementing won’t replace how foods work together to build our bodies and our health. Aim to eat AT LEAST 5-9 servings of vegetables, and 1-3 servings of fruit per day. Generally the darker, deeper color the fruit or vegetable, the higher level of polyphenols and antioxidants. Coffee, teas, and spices are great sources of polyphenols as well, so drink up and add some flavor to your food!
- Eat fat – Our cells contain lipids. Lipids are the molecules that make up fats. Some of our cells have a LOT of lipids in their makeup. Two types of cells in particular are our brain cells and our skin cells. Our brains are estimated to be approximately 60% fat (yes, we are all fat heads 😉 lol) The majority of the fatty acids in our brains are Omega-3 fats that are found in foods such as salmon and flax seeds. To have a healthy brain you have to have fat in your diet. Our skin is also composed of layers of proteins and fats. So, load up on healthy fat sources such as avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds for healthy looking skin. Another reason to eat fat is hormones. Fat is a building block of our hormones in our bodies. Hormones are a part of every physiological function. They signal from one organ system to another to perform a task, or release another hormone. They determine if we build tissue or break down tissue for survival. Hormones control how we look and feel everyday. Fat in a diet is necessary for healthy hormone function. There are certain fats that are beneficial, and some that are not. Saturated fat got a bad rap for decades because it was thought to cause heart disease. That has been proven to be untrue. Saturated fats such as grass fed butter and coconut oil provide the fatty acids necessary to produce some of our most anti-aging hormones such as testosterone. This doesn’t mean you need to go crazy and eat a stick of butter with each meal, but it does mean you can feel free to add a couple of servings of these fats throughout your day. Getting a balance of Omega-3 to Omega-6 and Omega-9 fatty acids is crucial to health and how we look as well. So, vary your fat sources. An imbalance will cause inflammation, and inflammation leads to cell damage and aging. Most Americans get too much Omega-6 from processed foods, so at the very least incorporate some salmon and flax into your diet, or supplement with a good fish oil or krill oil. Some fats, such as trans fats, Canola oil, corn oil, etc. should be avoided altogether as they are inflammatory and do not build healthy cells.
- Get enough iron – No, I don’t mean a supplement or food in this case. 😉 I mean lift some weight. I always say weight lifting is the fountain of youth. As we get older we lose muscle mass. It’s estimated that we naturally lose 10% or more every decade after the age of 30. Muscle is what gives us that “toned” look instead of sagging skin. Strength training keeps our muscles strong which helps protect our joints. Strength training also boosts hormones such as human growth hormone which is known as the ‘youth hormone’. Human growth hormone, or HGH for short, is the hormone that is produced at high levels in our youth to make us grow. It causes cells to repair quickly. It declines as we age. Testosterone is also boosted from strength training. Testosterone is what helps us preserve and grow muscle mass, as well as affecting our energy levels and sex drive… and women, we need testosterone as well… we just produce it at lower levels, but it’s still necessary to feel and look good.
- Get beauty sleep – To be honest this should probably be number 1 on the list, as it is THAT important. Sleep is one of the most important things we can do to help our bodies repair damaged tissues, as it is when the majority of repair processes happen… but, sleep is not something I have personally been able to conquer completely. (yet!) I have always had insomnia, but it is one of the practices I am focused on for my future. I am much better than I used to be in the sleep department… for many years I touted a “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” mentality. But, now I realize the importance of it, and I do make it a priority… I’m just not that great at it, so I tend to forget about it when I think of my daily practices. lol… But, I absolutely do see a change in my health, and how I look, when I do get optimal sleep. So, make it a priority
- Drink water – To have supple looking skin, you must be properly hydrated. Just like a grape turns into a raisin when it is dehydrated, so does our skin. Water also helps the body detoxify and remove substances that are harmful to our biology. What goes in, must come out, so speed up the process by giving your body water… otherwise you’ll “gunk up” the system. 😉 Proper hydration allows our kidneys to excrete toxins in our urine, it allows us to sweat out toxins, and it prevents constipation. Our excess hormones are excreted in our feces, so if you’re not pooping regularly, you’re likely creating a hormone imbalance. Just like a clock with all of it’s gears, your hormones work together to regulate and repair. Also, dehydration will has an impact on energy levels. Feeling tired? Drink some water. Having optimal energy levels will allow you to do the other things, such as workout, that keep you young and healthy. Aim for at least 3 Liters of water a day.
- Bone up on bone broth – A couple of years ago I began experiencing some health problems including chronic pain, chronic fatigue, acne, weight gain, hair loss, and a whole slew of symptoms of just not feeling well… not feeling like myself. During this time I learned about leaky gut, and how it can cause systemic inflammation, acne, and a bunch of the problems I was experiencing. One of the things I learned could help heal leaky gut was bone broth. So, I started drinking 1-3 cups a day. I have since healed my leaky gut, but I still continue to drink bone broth on the regular. I used to make a big batch of bone broth every week by buying bones from my local farmer at the farmers market, but now I just find it easier to buy bone broth protein powder. I also add collagen to my bone broth. Collagen is in bone broth, but it comes in a higher concentration in supplement form. Collagen is in all of our connective tissues in our body, including our joints and our skin. So, I figure I may as well consume the building blocks that make up my skin and joints to make sure there is enough available to repair any breakdown. I don’t know if drinking bone broth with added collagen has un-aged me, but I can say that I haven’t really seen too many new wrinkles since it became a part of my regular diet. I will say that I believe my cellulite has reduced since consuming it… which makes sense, I guess… thicker skin looks more taught. I will link the bone broth and collagen I use below.
- Skin care – Yes, the majority of my anti-aging practices have nothing to do with creams and serums, but I do try to protect my skin as much as possible. If I am going to be out in the sun for an extended period of time I use sunscreen. Although, I don’t typically use it on my body on a day to day basis… I actually try to get a little bit of sun each day to boost my Vitamin D levels (a necessary component to immune function as well as overall health) It’s all about the dosing… too little sun is bad for you, just like too much sun is bad for you. Spending about 20-30 minutes in the sun without sunscreen each day seems to be ideal for most people to achieve optimal health. Use a sunscreen on your face if you feel so inclined, but get some sun on your body, briefly, each day. I also did start using a skin care regimen that has helped even out my skin tone, cleared up my acne, and moisturizes my skin from the outside, giving it a supple, bright appearance… both things associated with youth. I will link all of my skin care products below if you’d like to check them out yourself. I use all natural skin care, as what you put on your skin is absorbed by your body… just like what you eat affects your health and your appearance, what you put on your body affects your health and your appearance. Synthetic skin care products can actually negatively affect hormone levels, so to keep my hormones and health optimal, I stick to natural. I typically use products that follow EU standards, as they have much stricter standards as to what is considered safe than we do here in the U.S. This is just my opinion, but I believe not all chemicals have been thoroughly tested for long-term consequences… I mean, they can’t have been properly tested for long term effects because they haven’t been around long enough to do so. I believe we, as a society, are living the experiment right now, and only after several generations will we actually know if a man-made chemical is safe or not. So, I choose to use the compounds found in Mother Nature… I figured we’ve survived thousands of years as a species living next to these compounds, so they are probably what our bodies need. If I can’t eat it, I don’t put it on my skin.
There you have it. These are my top tips for anti-aging. Honestly, stress reduction should be on the list as well, as chronic stress does age you… but, I’m not that great at it myself to be honest. lol… Although, I am significantly better at it than I used to be! Now I incorporate things such as yoga, meditation, hobbies I enjoy, and “play” into my routine. When I forgo these things, I can tell… I start to look my age. (in my opinion) So, I make them a priority like diet and exercise… they are a key component to living a long, healthy life, and happy life. 🙂
Without makeup… With makeup (and a hair brush). 😉 #nofilters
Here is the bone broth and collagen supplements I use. https://store.draxe.com/collections/proteins/products/bone-broth-protein-chocolate-max
Here are the skin care products I have started using within the last couple of years to help enhance the internal ways I prevent aging. https://store.thespadr.com/collections/the-spa-dr-products/products/daily-essentals-4-step-system?variant=8841104707
Here is a link for $25 off this skin care system if you’d like to try it – http://thespadr.refr.cc/staciem
I order all of these products on autoship, so they are cheaper.
To your health (and youth!), my friends.
As a personal trainer I’m often asked what type of exercise is the best one to do for weight loss. The answer I give is often surprising, as well as somewhat frustrating, to those asking me this question.
So, what is the best type of exercise?
The type of exercise you will stick with.
For a world that wants to be told exactly what to do in black or white, right or wrong, yes or no… this answer doesn’t directly say if you do X then you’ll get Y which will lead to Z. But, the reality is… the key to using exercise as a weight loss tool is consistency. That’s it. Consistently being active will give you results. So, that’s why I answer in this way.
We all have different likes and dislikes. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. We all have different lifestyles. We all have different a biology. We all have different desires as to how we want to look, perform, and feel on a daily basis. So, there is no one right way to achieve physical fitness.
So, when choosing an activity to improve your physical fitness, choose one that gives you some enjoyment. All exercise/activity is hard when we begin attempting to get into shape, so don’t think that it should feel easy… no, to change something about yourself, you will need to challenge yourself. But, even when something is hard, a person can find enjoyment in it. So, choose an activity that you feel that enjoyment either before, during, or after… hopefully all three!
Don’t choose something that you dread, or doesn’t work well for your body. Hate running? Does it make your knees hurt? Does it make you want to throw a tantrum like a tired 2 year old when it’s time to run? Then don’t do it! Go for a walk instead. It’s less stressful on your joints, and it has been shown to have many benefits beyond just Calories burned such as reducing stress hormones (a key component in weight loss and a healthy life), improving insulin sensitivity (another component to weight loss and health, and many more things. Also, choose for performance. You want to run a half marathon? Then you better be hitting the pavement. You want to be strong? Then iron is your new best friend. Is improving flexibility big on your agenda? Then a yoga class may just be the answer.
Now, I will say that whatever you choose, have realistic expectations about how it will affect your physique. The reality is, certain types of exercises will produce certain results. For instance, you want to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger? Then long distance running and yoga ain’t gonna cut it. Want to look like a fitness model? Then strength training is your friend. Do you want to look like a yogi? Then Crossfit probably isn’t the answer.
Now, there are factors such as genetics that do play into how a person’s physique will look… for instance, I am short and naturally muscular… even when I was “skinny” I wasn’t really “skinny”. I gain muscle really easily, but on the flip side I gain fat really easily too, and I have a hard time losing it. For years I tried to fight against my genetics and produce a different body, but I finally learned to embrace it. I hit the weight room, and I focused on bringing up areas of my body that weren’t quite as naturally muscular to balance out what the good Lord gave me. 😉 I have also learned that endurance training has a negative effect on my weight. Running long distance causes me to pack on body fat really quickly – not the result that I want – but, I do set performance goals from time to time that require this type of training, so I do it knowing it won’t make me look the way I want too look. So, for the most part I avoid long bouts of cardio, unless I’m training for a specific event, and I put more time and attention on strength training, as it produces the best results for my physique. This may or may not be true for you… so, experiment with different types of activities to see how it affects you.
Ideally, we would use a combination of multiple types of exercise to achieve a healthy body, as there are physiological benefits to all of them. Strength training increases muscle mass, and has been shown to be anti-aging… Running/cardio is great for your cardiovascular health… Yoga is great for your joints/stress levels. All of these things lead to an overall healthy body and a healthy, happy life. I have begun to incorporate different activities myself. For many years I simply did strength training. I built muscle, but I wasn’t very functionally fit. But, by incorporating walking and yoga into the mix of my strength training over the years, I am now strong and toned, and I keep my muscles loose, and I have a little bit of cardiovascular health so I don’t get winded going up a flight of stairs or during everyday activities. If you’re looking for a general guideline I think most people should perform strength training at least 2x per week, activity such as walking everyday, and at least a few minutes stretching everyday as well. Put more emphasis on the activity that brings you joy, but sprinkle in the others here and there for your health.
Whenever you are choosing an activity for your daily exercise lose the mentality that it has to be extreme or high intensity or long duration… when we have this mindset it creates an all or nothing attitude. We think “Well, I don’t have an hour to go to the gym today, so I guess I won’t workout today” You may not have an hour to go hit the treadmill or the weight room, but you may have a few 15 minute breaks throughout the day to walk, do body weight exercises such as squats and push ups, or to stretch… take advantage of those brief breaks. They add up over time, and you will gain the benefits of health.
Another helpful thing you can do is create accountability. Sign up for a Zumba class. Get a walking buddy. Hire a personal trainer. 😉 Just don’t let others give you an excuse to not do it… if they flake out, that’s on them – it doesn’t influence whether you do it or not… you do it anyways. Accountability is there to help you, not to take away your power. It’s still 100% your choice what you do with your body.
One last thing…. exercise is great for your health, your happiness, your energy levels, and your performance… but, you can’t out exercise a bad diet. If fat loss is your goal, you HAVE to have your diet in order. If you are going to choose one – diet or exercise – I say choose diet… that will give you the most bang for your buck. But, if you aren’t ready to tackle diet yet, get to moving… you will get benefits from being more active, even if the scale doesn’t move. I find that when I’m more active I kinda naturally eat healthier anyways… you may have this same phenomenon. Every little step in the right direction will get you to your goal… eventually. How fast you get there is up to you. Take that one step. Repeat. Eventually you’ll be living a healthy, happy, and thriving life. It starts with one step.
To your health, my friends.
When trying to lose weight, most people simply rely on the scale as a way to track progress. But, the scale is not a very effective way of tracking progress. Body composition (body fat vs lean body mass) is much more important that what the scale says. A reduction in body fat, not body weight, is what you should be focusing on… to track this there are several methods that will tell you if you are actually making progress. Often times the scale will not move, especially if you are working out, but you are actually changing your body composition by reducing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass – which is a good thing!
For the past 8 weeks I have been on a quest to get closer to my “normal” weight. My entire adult life I have hovered in the mid-130s for my weight. If I creeped up to 140ish it was because I wasn’t working out consistently, and my diet was crap. However, that has not been the case the last 2 years… my diet has been the healthiest it has ever been, and I have consistently worked out. But, despite that, the last 2 1/2 years (since my last competition) I have weighed the most I have ever weighed in my life. I believe my last competition prep, and reducing to my lowest body fat % ever, and the birth control I was on at the time threw my hormones out of whack and caused me to gain 20+ pounds very quickly. At one point I had gained 30 pounds despite watching what I eat and consistently working out… I finally quit gaining weight at an alarming rate, and lost about 8 pounds when I had my IUD removed. That was a relief to finally have some stability, even though I wasn’t back to “normal”.
I have spent the last 2 years attempting to lose the extra weight many times… I would start to make a little progress, but then I would start having low energy, feeling like crap, and massive hunger cravings… my willpower was not strong enough to continue in my weight loss efforts, so I finally decided to just be content remaining at a higher body fat % for the sake of feeling well… even though I wasn’t necessarily happy with how I looked.
My weight finally leveled out in the mid-150s after the removal of my IUD… which is a lot for a 5’3″ female. Yes, I have a lot of muscle mass, but my body fat mass is still higher than what is optimal for me. I look a lot “puffier” than normal. I did gain some muscle over the last 2 1/2 years as well… especially when I was training for a power lifting competition. (I wasn’t able to compete due to health issues) So, I don’t think I’ll be able to get back to the mid-130s and maintain it… so, I think mid-140s is probably more realistic for me now.
Then to make things worse, my endurance training for World’s Toughest Mudder made me gain even more fat this past year. My body does not respond well to endurance training… it jacks up my stress hormones, and causes me to gain body fat like crazy. I did an InBody scan, and in 4 months time I lost 4.2 pounds of muscle, and gained 10.3 pounds of fat despite exercising more and eating the same amount… so frustrating! It was necessary for me to do the endurance training for the event, but I knew I was sacrificing how I desired to look to complete that goal. If you are training for an endurance event like half marathon in an attempt to lose weight – don’t. There is a difference between training for aesthetics vs training for performance… often times you have to sacrifice one for the other. So, train for your goals.
So, after World’s was over I decided to attempt this fat loss thing again… losing muscle and gaining fat caused me to be more “jiggly” than normal, and I didn’t like it! So, I started what I call “Operation Jiggly to Bombdiggety” 1) because I wanted to be focused on my goals, and 2) because I’m a huge dork. 😉 lol So, for 2 months I have been tracking my macros, weighing and measuring all of my food, and focusing on strength training and omitting cardio completely in attempt to lose the extra fat, gain back a little bit of muscle, and hopefully get back into my clothes. This time the hunger, cravings, and my energy have been much better… so, I feel like my body may actually be ready to lose some of this weight.
Going through this process I wanted to share how to properly track progress when it comes to weight loss. Most people simply rely on the scale, which is not the best way to track. Yes, the scale can be helpful… I weigh myself almost everyday because, for me, I am able to track hormonal fluctuations… my weight will jump up 3-5 pounds in a day if I am under stress, not getting enough sleep, or during certain parts of my cycle. So, when this happens I know I need to focus more on recovery and stress reduction instead of pushing myself too hard… after a few days my weight will come back down to normal. If I don’t do this, and I just push through, my weight will continue to climb… so, I’ve learned to listen to my body and give it what it needs.
The scale should not be your only weight loss tracking tool, though. It does not show you changes in lean body mass vs fat mass… which is more important that your actual body weight.
Another tool I like to use to track progress is an InBody scan/scale. This tool will not only tell you what your weight is, but it will tell you how much body fat you have vs lean tissue, and it will show you how your lean mass is distributed on your body. It’s a good tool to track if you’re gaining muscle and losing fat. I plan on having an InBody test every 8 weeks to track progress, so I can determine if my diet and workouts are actually getting the results I want vs just relying on the scale to show weight loss. My most recent InBody scan showed in the last 8 weeks I have gained 0.9 pounds of muscle, and lost 3.9 pounds of fat… and I’m gaining the muscle in the areas I desire to gain muscle. On the scale this only equals 3 pounds total loss in 2 months – that’s only 1.5 pounds per month. Frustratingly slow, but the body composition changes are exactly what I’m aiming for, so I know I’m doing the right things for my body and my desired results. These machines can be found at many gyms, and sometimes doctor’s offices.
Another thing I always recommend to clients is to take progress pictures. No one wants to take them, but I feel they are one of the best tools to track progress. The clients that do take them are always thankful they did, because they are able to see with their own eyes all of the changes in their physique. However, most people do not know how to properly evaluate progress pictures… So, I’m going to post mine here to show you how… I’ll be honest about it, I’m very nervous to post them publicly. I am no where near competition weight, and no one likes to show themselves in an unflattering way… myself included. But, I practice what I preach, so here it goes…
Like I said… this is the heaviest I have ever been, but I feel it’s important 1) to show how to evaluate progress and 2) to show how slow progress really is. We all see these massive weight loss transformations online, but the reality is the progress is very subtle for the day to day, or week to week, or even month to month. Most people give up too soon on their weight loss efforts because they only see a small amount of changes, and think it’s not working. They expect weekly changes to look like multi-month changes. Because the progress along the way isn’t the drastic ‘before and after’ that is revealed. I’ve been guilty of this myself… I would show my ‘before and after’ competition progress pics, but I didn’t show the process progress pics… even my competition progress pics show very subtle progress each week… this progress is even more subtle, because now I am losing weight in a sustainable way.
So, sorry for the long rambling lol… here are my 8 week progress pics. The changes are subtle, but they are there if you look closely. I made notes on them to show how to evaluate progress.
For progress pics you want to take them in the same clothing, standing in the same stance, at the same time of day, in the same lighting each time. Take front, side, and back pics. Compare pics side by side… your mind won’t see the difference if you look at them separately. We are all our own worst critics, so don’t focus on the things you want to “fix”… focus on small changes such as reduced size, more definition, a more tightened and “toned” appearance, how clothing/garments fit or cover better… and things like that.
If you are unable to objectively evaluate pics, then find someone who is.
Another way to track progress is by taking measurements. I have gotten away from doing this because it’s really easy for human error to measure incorrectly. For measurements to be accurate, you have to measure in the exact same spots each time, and that’s really hard to do. If you do decide to measure the areas I recommend are neck, chest, waist, hips, both upper arms and both thighs. Compare numbers each month, and track total inches lost.
There are other methods of tracking as well, such as BodPods and calipers, but these can be time consuming, or can also have human error.
In your weight loss journey, choose 2-3 methods to track progress. Even something as simple as comparing how clothes fit can be helpful. Don’t simply rely on the scale to be your only method. Especially if you are strength training… you will get frustrated by your results, but you may actually be making progress that the scale doesn’t show.
No matter what method you choose… keep going. The key to long term success is to keep putting in the work. Don’t stop when progress plateaus, simply adjust something – either diet or exercise or both… but, keep going. THAT is how you finally get the results you desire.
I will post another update in 8 weeks on my transformation. Hopefully this information helped you to see how to track weight loss progress. Just remember… progress is progress no matter how slow. Progress is happening even if it’s not as quickly as we’d like it to be sometimes, but small changes add up to big results over time.
Keep going, my friends…
Yesterday I woke up at 3:15am… Why? I don’t know. I’ve struggled with insomnia off and on my entire life, so this was just one of those times, I guess. Since I was wide awake I decided to get up and make my coffee. The kiddo is gone this weekend, so I have the place to myself… my Christmas tree is still up, so I enjoyed the silence of the early morning hours with my big cup of magical bean water and my dog, Jake, snuggling up against me on the couch… my happy place.
After enjoying some of this time of pure bliss, I decided I would start working on my goals for 2019. Every year I like to set an intention for the year, as well as personal goals to achieve…. some big, some small.
I decided I am going to write in a journal, everyday, my intention for the day, and goals that I have… to help me keep focused on achieving the goals I have set for myself in the upcoming year. I believe what you focus your energy on is what will manifest in your life, so I will keep my goals front and center and accomplish them all. This year I don’t have any big goals, such as conquering the Tough Mudder Holy Grail, races, or competitions or anything like that in 2019… this year I am focusing more on small, daily goals that will lead to big things in my future.
I had given my daughter a blank journal/daily planner a while back that I didn’t think I wanted/needed… but, in this moment, I decided I actually did want to use it. I was going to go buy another one, but I figured I would save the money and use what I had… plus, she wasn’t using it for anything… so, why not?
I got up off the couch, leaving a half a cup of coffee behind, as I went to look for the journal in her room. I don’t go all the way into her room very often, because it is messy… she loves the mess, it makes her feel secure to be surrounded by clutter… it always has, but for me… it stresses me out! Now I am by no means a neat freak. In fact, organization is NOT a strength of mine… my desk area is evidence of this fact, but the difference between me and her is I can’t stand clutter… so, I keep my disorganization mess contained to my small, little desk area, and the rest of my apartment has a place for everything. (my car is another story… I can only keep that thing clean for like 30 minutes… it defies the laws of physics – junk manifests out of thin air in there 😉 Oh well… lol)
As I entered my daughter’s room completely for the first time in weeks I was confronted with just how messy her room was… it was a freaking disaster! Clothes and trash from Christmas presents all over the floor… junk everywhere. To say I was pissed is an understatement. Suddenly my mood went from thinking about all of the positive things I’m going to accomplish in 2019 to all of the things I’m grounding my kid from in 2019.
I found the journal and went back to my coffee… I told myself I was going to make her clean up that mess… I sat there for about 4 1/2 minutes, fuming, and decided to get up and start throwing her shit away. I couldn’t relax and focus knowing that her room looked like that… Plus, she’s not coming home until Tuesday, so I knew it would stress me out knowing the the remnants of ‘Hurricane Briella’ was in my household for the next 4 days. I grabbed my box of big black trash bags and got to work…
As I cleaned, I eventually calmed down.
Now, I’m going to be honest here… parenting is where I feel like I suck the most in life. The reason why is I compare my situation to others. I compare to the way I was raised. My mom kept the house spotless when I was growing up. I feel guilty for working so much. I get mad at myself when I completely zone out as my daughter is telling me what seems to be a 45 minute story about Minecraft. 😉 lol When I hear other moms talk about how they miss their kids when they go back to school, or if the kids spend the night at their grandparents or with friends or whatever I feel like an asshole because I don’t experience that same phenomenon. I feel guilty that she doesn’t have a father figure in her daily life to show her how a man should treat a woman. I worry that my kid is missing out because she’s not in extracurricular activities because I’m unable to transport her there…. I mean is there any possible way she will grow up to be a normal adult without cheer, dance, soccer, and underwater basket weaving???
Why am I telling you all of this? Because it’s real. Very real. These thoughts used to consume me… I felt like a terrible mother because of all of this. I didn’t like to feel that way, so I would avoid these feelings by doing other things. I’m a workaholic by nature. I’m good at working, and it feels like I’m doing something productive with my time, so that was something I used to use as an escape… the problem with that is then it would increase my guilt for not being around enough. I used to use a glass or two of wine to wind down at the end of a hard day or week because I felt like I “needed” it… the problem with that is it would make me zone out even more when I was with her. (even on days I didn’t drink, it still affected my brain chemistry) I would workout obsessively to focus my attention on changing my body… the problem with that I felt selfish for doing activities like this, but my kid doesn’t participate in any…. the list goes on and on… the more I tried to avoid my feelings of inadequacy as a mother, the worse Mom I actually was.
But, with lots of self improvement work, and counseling, I don’t go into this shame spiral anymore. Now, I’m able to stop and look at things with a more rational view. For instance, now when I beat myself up for not keeping the place spotless like my mom did, I remind myself that my mom stayed at home the majority of the time during my childhood. I remind myself that I’m doing the job of 2 people here – bringing home the bacon, plus cooking it, serving it, and cleaning it up when the meal is over. 😉 I can’t expect my life to look like others who do have a partner to share some of the burdens of parenting. When I zone out during one of the endless Minecraft stories I’m more likely to bring myself back to the present, and listen to the end… because instead of beating myself up for zoning out in the first place, I just take note that it’s happening, and do the actions necessary to move forward. I don’t feel guilt anymore for being a single mom… it’s better that I do raise her on my own than it is to raise her in a dysfuntional or abusive household… which has been the case in the past. To look at the bright side, I know that I’m teaching her by my actions that she does not need to settle for a man that disrespects her and mistreats her. I know that I’m showing her that no matter what life throws her way, she will make it through, and she will learn to fly. Now, I realize that I am with her 99% of the time… and it’s okay that I look forward to alone time on the weekends she’s at her dad’s… it allows me to recharge and be a better mom to her, and it shows her that it’s important to develop a life she loves without relying on the continuous presence of others… we are all responsible for our own happiness… it is no one’s responsibility to make us happy and feel fulfilled in life. There will be a day where she will move out of this household, and I know that my world won’t crumble when she does. I know I won’t put the burden on her of making sure I’m okay on her as she’s finding her way in the world herself.
I used to hate the fact that I am a single mom, but now, I find gratefulness in it. I’m grateful for the relationship she and I have. I know there’s no way we would have the bond that we have if things had worked out any other way. I’m proud of myself for what I have been able to do on my own… build a successful business, while raising a very well-adjusted, loving, beautiful, smart kiddo… even without the cheer, dance, soccer, and underwater basket weaving. 😉 I am truly blessed, and I know it. Yes, I obviously need to do a better job at setting an example of tidiness, lol, but, just because there’s a mess in my house doesn’t mean that my life is a mess… or that I, as a mom, am a mess. I know I’m doing the best I can with the knowledge I have up to this point… now, to improve this messy area, I simply need to find a solution… a better way of doing things to keep her room clean. It doesn’t mean I’m incapable, or she’s incapable. It simply means I/we haven’t learned the most effective way to do this… yet.
Changing my perspective over the years from “I suck” to one of “That didn’t work, so what can I learn from this situation, so I can do it again – better” has changed my life. It made me realize that although things haven’t always gone as planned, doesn’t mean they aren’t good. You cannot make progress for beating yourself for where you are or how you got there. What’s happened in the past is in the past. The only thing you can control is your actions at this very moment, and THAT is what will change the future. When I used to be down on myself for being a terrible mom, I wasn’t the greatest mom to be honest… like I said before, what you focus your energy on is what will manifest in your life. If the story you tell yourself is one of failure or “I can’t” that is the result you will get… I guarantee it. Like Henry Ford famously said… “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.
So, if there is an area of you life that you feel inadequate or like you’re failing. I challenge you to stop. Question yourself… Is this negative belief really true? My bet is that you can find evidence to prove otherwise… even just a small amount. Just like a jury, you must prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are 100% guilty of whatever “crime” you believe yourself to be committing… if there is ANY evidence to the contrary – let yourself off the hook. Then, with your new freedom, use the energy you used to spend focusing on those negative things to learn how to make them optimal. When I started focusing on the ways I am a good mother, I became an even better one… and I realized that my kid thinks I’m pretty awesome too… so, who else’s opinion matters, right? 😉 Now because I know this to be true, I can continue to focus on the goals for our future to become an even better mom, in every stage we go through, together.
Focus on your thoughts and behaviors, because those are the only things you can control. Focus on the good… it’s there. Direct your attention to it – manifest that sh*t, and watch your life change. 😉
Let’s enjoy this messy, magnificent thing we call life, and make it the best it can be. 🙂