Challenge Yourself to Be Better Today

When I began my fitness journey years ago, my main goal was to lose weight. Nothing groundbreaking about that one. How many of us are motivated by the idea of hitting a magic number on the scale? I definitely was.

When I took on weight lifting over a year ago, I had no idea how much I would grow to love it and embrace true physical strength. I moved past weight loss to hitting bigger numbers with a barbell. All I thought was, MORE.

But things changed, and more importantly, I changed.

I found myself on a plateau a few months ago. I made excuses to avoid working out and I didn’t get the same buzz from lifting. My diet changed too. There were fewer rainbows on my plate and it was more likely that I’d go for second helpings on french fries than spinach salad.

This needed to stop. I’d been exactly here before and I know what a slippery slope this can be. The upside is that the hard work I’d put in the last four years meant I was more in tune with my body.

Even though it was getting harder for me to stick to my healthier habits, I felt a strong desire to get past this hump and I had the tools and experience to get there.

My solution? Create new fitness goals.

Hitting a new RM at the gym not cutting it for me this week? That’s okay. Do something else. Find something that keeps you motivated and challenges you to tear down those limits. The trick is to keep experimenting until you figure out what works for you right now.

And so I did.

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I’m not going to be a champion swimmer or break national records at a powerlifting meet. I might never get to balance in crow position or properly do a headstand. That’s not what’s important.

What’s become essential for me on this journey is this: my only goal is to be better than I was yesterday. My only competition is with my inner critic that fights hard to keep me saying, “no, I can’t.”

Between yoga, lifting, high intensity interval training, and now swimming, keeping my nutrition in check has become vital.

So, I’ve dusted off the shaker bottles (and gave them a good soak because yuck) and jumped at the chance to try Vega Sport’s Performance Protein.

It’s fair to say that I’ve tried a broad range of products in an effort to find something that I felt good about putting in my body. I’m a research-aholic which means I’ll spend a long time looking at things from every angle before I give it a green light.

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A lot of the whey-based proteins I’ve tried were decent, but it drove me nuts how many of those products had tons of artificial sweeteners and additives.

Vega Sport Performance Protein is completely plant-based and is gluten & soy-free, which is a great alternative for vegans and those suffering from food allergies. It’s sweetened by Stevia, a healthier alternative to aspartame or other artificial sugars.

What really sold me was the added BCAAs (branch chain amino acids) to help boost muscle repair and recovery between workouts. This is usually a separate supplement, but Vega Sport saves time by adding this to their protein mix. Love it!

I’m more of a protein smoothie kind of gal, but I wouldn’t mind trying a mug cake or these strawberry protein waffles. Post-workout though, it’s straight to the blender for me.

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It was after a swim plus HIIT workout that I got to give this a shot, and it was so worth it.

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One word: YUMMO!

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No need to add any sweeteners here as the banana and protein does that for you. I highly recommend kale for the added health benefits, but if you’re not the biggest fan of this hearty green, then go with spinach.

Kale Blueberry #FuelYourBetter Smoothie

  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ cup of frozen blueberries
  • ½ frozen banana
  • 1 cup of fresh kale, stems removed
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 packet of VegaSport Protein

Throw all ingredients into a blender and puree into smoothie perfection. Note: If you’re using fresh fruit, then be sure to add 4-5 ice cubes. That’ll make it nice and frothy.

You’ve made the choice to start leading a healthier life? Awesome! Keep in mind that this is all a work in progress and success won’t happen overnight. You have to put in the effort every single day.

Ask yourself what feels right to you and align your goals with that vision. Do this often.

What feels right to you today, may not work in a few months or a few years, and that’s alright. Just be honest with yourself.

No matter how I choose to move, it feels amazing to know that I’m getting better every day.

How do you stay motivated to stick to your fitness goals? 

Do you take any sports supplements?

How do you #fuelyourbetter?

Disclaimer: Please note that I was not financially compensated for this review by Vega Sport or any affiliate companies or organizations. My opinions are my own and do not represent an official endorsement of Vega Sport.

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5 Things You Need to Know About Women’s Health

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Ladies, it’s all about you this week!

From diet to pregnancy to oral and mental health, the Office of Women’s Health hosts a week filled with events and education initiatives to get women proactive about their well-being.

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There are many aspects of health to consider when working towards optimal living.  Daily pressures coupled with busy schedules often means that we’re putting our health last on the priority list.

This week offers the perfect opportunity to put a spotlight on your health and well-being, to hopefully learn something new that will inspire you to embrace a healthier lifestyle.

Here are 5 things you need to know about women’s health to start:

  • Nearly 2 out of 3 women 20yrs and older are overweight or obese. Studies with Mexican-American women show that they are 40% more likely to be obese than their white counterparts.
  • Less than half of US women are getting enough aerobic exercise and only 20% are doing muscle-strengthening activity, making women more likely to develop heart disease and cancer (along with contributing to obesity and diabetes). Latinos are 30% less likely to engage in exercise than their white counterparts.
  • Smoking causes 80% of lung cancer deaths among women in the US. On the plus side, Latinas have lower smoking rates comparably, and they’re less likely to smoke during pregnancy.
  • Women are much more likely than men to be diagnosed with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental illnesses. According to the CDC, Latina teens are the most likely group to consider suicide.
  • Heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the US, with over 75% of women 40-60 yrs old having at least one risk factor. On average, Latinas are more likely to develop heart disease 10 years earlier than their white counterparts.

Did any of these facts surprise you?  What will you change to lead a healthier life?

The Office of Women’s Health also put together these great infographics with helpful tips on how to take care of yourself in all aspects of health.

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 Cited:

As always, keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! 🙂

 

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3 Health Benefits of Mindful Eating

3 Benefits of Mindful EatingWhen was the last time you sat down to eat without your phone, tablet or television turned on in front of you? Were you mindful about the foods you ate? How did this impact your health?

In our rush to get from one activity to the next, eating often gets pushed back as a task on a to-do list. We race to get something to eat, to then stuff our faces while our minds are concentrating on anything but the foods on our plates and then we hurry back to our desks to finish checking off things from that never-ending list.

Eating becomes a mechanical act. We bite, we chew, we swallow, barely giving thought to what we’re actually doing.

I had this experience recently with a pear. There I was, reading an article about how healthcare technology is putting patients back in the driver’s seat for their health, and inhaling my pear. Literally, gobbling it down without sparing a thought to the flavor or texture or how it was nourishing my body. I just went through the robotic motions of biting, chewing, and swallowing while my eyes were glued to the screen.

About halfway through my pear, I stopped and realized how awful this was. The irony of what I was doing juxtaposed with what I was reading wasn’t lost on me either. It was mid-morning and I was already starving. The pear was meant to get me past that hump until lunch, but I couldn’t muster the energy to pay attention to what I was doing long enough to feel anything. Instead of feeling satiated, I still felt hungry.

I took that moment to stop and refocus my energy on the pear. The shape, the color, the scent, the taste. I turned off my screen so I would have even fewer distractions. The goal was to engage all my senses in the experience of eating that pear. And it was worth that effort. I actually felt satisfied by the end of the process.

We’ve trained ourselves to fill each moment with more than one activity. Our fear of missing out (#FOMO for the cool kids), keeps us locked in a cycle of constant connectivity and anxiety. Taking the time to focus on just eating almost seems like a luxury. That’s what Europeans do, right? Siestas and long dinners where people are doing nothing but eating and drinking? That can’t be healthy.

eating at work
courtesy hkfbapps.com

Is finishing a large club sandwich in under five minutes healthy?

We’ve lost touch with how the act of eating affects our physical, emotional and mental health. It’s so more than just a biological function.

By applying some of the principles behind mindful meditation to eating, we can explore how increasing our attention to the foods we eat and the process of consumption can positively impact our health.

3 (of many) health benefits of mindful eating:

  • Taking the time to eat mindfully engages all of our senses and encourages self-awareness. By experiencing each part of the process in an unhurried fashion, you can evaluate how your food choices make you feel. Consider the choice between a bag of potato chips and a small green salad. How do the different colors appeal to you? What did the chips feel like on your hands? Did the salty chips taste better than the salad by the end? Keep your mind open to all of these observations.
  • Mindful eating awakens a connection to family, culture, and tradition. Sitting down to enjoy a meal with friends or family forges a bond. This creates new, positive experiences around food that can help build healthier habits over time. It nourishes the soul as much as the body.

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  • If soul nourishing isn’t on your agenda today, then consider how mindful eating can help you lose weight. By giving the brain time to process the physical act of eating, your body can properly digest the necessary nutrients from your meal and signal the brain that it’s actually satisfied. This is metabolism folks. The body was built for this. Forget about foods that speed this up for you. Dedicate each meal time to just eating and you’ll find that you have a better idea of what foods will give you energy and make you feel great, decrease the need for snacking, and keep you from overeating.
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courtesy chibird.tumblr. com

The next time you sit down to a meal, forget about your schedule. Turn off all of your electronic devices. Focus all of your energy on the foods in front of you.

What does it look like?

How does it feel in your hands?

Does the aroma remind you of a happy memory?

Relish in that for a minute before you dig in. As you start to eat, take your time. Everything you need to do will keep for twenty minutes.

awareness checklist
courtesy eatingmindfully.com

Will you give this a shot?

How do you feel about mindful meditation?

How much time do you spend eating each meal?

Please feel free to share your comments below or on FB and Twitter.

As always, keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! 🙂

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