What Is Self Care To You?

I read an interesting, and controversial, article on self care. The author said that it is not all salt baths and eating cake —> Article . I agree with her completely. We should all strive to have a life that we don’t need to escape from. Isn’t that the point? Self care to me used to be having a glass (or four) of wine per night to recover from a hellish job and sad, single existence. But for the past 7 weeks I have been doing crossfit and working out a lot. I made some friends and realized that I can’t workout in the morning if I am hungover… so I no longer drink the night before I exercise.

My job is no longer my top priority, but I am still there. And now I’m sitting in the uncomfortableness with no mental escape. I know I will get to the point where I can no longer take it and will hand in my notice. But until then…

Self Care to me is:

  • Preparing to leave my job by job hunting, saving money and controlling my spending
  • Paying down my loans and credit card debt
  • Continuing to exercise and do Crossfit; push past my limits and challenge myself
  • Not drinking excessively
  • Playing with Pixie, my cat
  • Learning to love and accept myself as I am
  • Getting 7-8 hours of sleep, drinking as much water as possible and eating my veggies
  • Listening to motivational podcasts and reading self help books
  • Putting myself first and surrounding myself with people that make my feel good

Crossfit has kind of taken over my life, but in a good way. I  have no idea what made my sign up for the 6 week challenge. When I went for the “interview”, which was just a facility tour and explanation of the challenge,  I thought it was HIIT. I was in a plateau and saw an ad on Instagram. I went there, signed up, and the rest is history. I have done more exercise in the past 7 weeks than I have in the past 6 months. After my 6 week intro package, my new friends and I signed up for 6 months. I definitely know that it was the right thing to do. My life was a mess and now I have some structure. I have pushed myself harder than I ever thought possible and lifted, safely, more than I thought I ever could. Most importantly, I have cleaned up my life tremendously. Like I mentioned before, I drink a lot less, at most 1 day per week, I’ve been reading more, sleep 7 hours per night and I just feel more balanced and in tune with my body. My self confidence has increased and now I’m trying to improve my self esteem.

I also want to figure out what challenge I can do next.

 

Crossfit

I gained some weight over the holidays due to excessive eating and drinking. I went back to eating better but the weight wasn’t falling like it was before. At 5’3 I have found that the best way for me to lose weight consistently is to exercise but I couldn’t find the motivation to do it. I was instagram and came across this ad for a 6 week crossfit challenge at a gym that was close to my job. So I signed up.

I wanted to be somewhere for 6 weeks in order to get back into the exercise schedule. Even though I want to lose weight, I lack discipline and I often make excuses so this felt like a good solution. And boy was it a solution. Crossfit is the hardest and most challenging thing I’ve ever encountered in regards to exercise. Has anyone tried it? They focus on functional exercises where you are lifting your body weight, kettlebells and barbells. It’s tough. Mondays workout involved 4 rounds of running 400 km, 10 deadlifts and burpees until time. And it was 30 degrees outside. Studies show that the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest. But all the muscle in the world can’t counter a bad diet. I like crossfit because of the community aspect. I already made a friend and everyone that is a newbie like me is always in shock of the next f*ed up thing they are going to have us do. My goal is to make 1-2 more friends and exchange numbers.

After this challenge is done I think I might actually buy some classes from this gym. I like being challenged and I need to lose more weight. I’m going to set up an appointment to see a nutritionist again because if I’m going to be exercising, I want to make sure that I’m eating as clean as possible and getting proper nutrients on this plant based meal plan. I know that I will lose weight quickly if I:

  • exercise consistently
  • drink 8+cups of water per day
  • sleep 7+hours per night
  • limit processed foods and sugar
  • cut off alcohol

If I plan on reaching my goal weight in 6 months, I need to follow these steps. I plan to do a post on discipline in the near future. A lot of the advice is usually “just do it”, use the 5 second rule, or live like the person that you want to be.

 

Making Moves

On Saturday I taught my first cardio dance class and I can honestly say that it was the best day of my life. To think that I could create an hours worth of choreography and teach it to people in order for them to get in shape is amazing. It really put a lot of things in perspective, including my j-o-b. (I call it a j-o-b because it’s not my career and it finances my life)

My j-o-b eats at my core. The interactions that I have with patients affects me in such a way that it’s not healthy. The conversations stay with me, the complaints, the annoyances. No one is ever happy because they are in pain and I’m tired of dealing with them. All of the office managers in my practice feel the same way, but unlike others I no longer want to push down my emotions. That’s how I got to 234 lbs.  I’m taking some steps to go forward in my health professional journey, this job is bound to limit me by chipping away at my life force. I’m not going to share my plans with a lot of people because I don’t want anyone to talk me out of it. Sometimes when you tell coworkers that you want to leave, they try to convince you because they don’t want to be alone. In August I will have been there for 6 years at a job I dislike. Of course there are good aspects of it, mostly the money and coworkers, but it’s not worth it anymore.

My ideal outcome for 6 months- By August 1

  • Get a new full time j-o-b to pay the bills (hopefully it will be in the health industry so it could be a step towards a career)
  • Continue to improve as a fitness instructor, have a booming class and get Zumba certified
  • Reach my goal weight
  • Get a boyfriend (I had to throw that in there. I can’t be too career focused)
  • Get paid as a health coach by at least 2 clients
  • Start a meetup group

I created a private group on Facebook where I’m going to post motivational posts, diet advice and vegan inspiration. Once I get more posts up I plan to start telling people in my class. I’m REALLY excited about the future and I haven’t felt this way in awhile.

I hope everyone is doing well.

 

 

Vegan Weight Loss and Smoothie Recipe

I’m back with a food prep blog. I went to the gym this morning and went hard. A little too hard and have some tightness in my back, either from a deadlift or clean/press. I work for a back doctor, so I know what is going on and tomorrow will be a rest day for sure. Which is great because I need to start goal setting for next year and figuring out what is next in life. Here is the gym pic…

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Too many weights…

Now I am not a perfect person, but one thing I have perfected, is my breakfast. It is easy to get overwhelmed by choices (and  sugar) so I try to have the same thing everyday. I really do and people think it’s weird, but SO many specialists recommend automating 1-2 meals per day for weight loss because it makes life a little easier. For breakfast, I make a simple smoothie.  Since I am in the process of losing weight, I try to intuitively keep my calories down, without actually counting calories.

For instance, my morning smoothie could easily become a calorie bomb. When I started plant-based eating, I would have 2-3 bananas, 4-6 dates and a cup of berries in my smoothie and believe me, it was DELICIOUS. As someone who loves sweets, dates and bananas are a godsend and as someone that loves caffeine, I was bouncing off the walls from the sugar rush. However, after I met with a nutritionist, I realized it was too much sugar and too many unnecessary calories. When you are trying to lose weight, every calorie counts, even as a vegan.

There is a great article in this month’s Women’s Health magazine titled, “Losing Their Veganity”. Many women become vegan to lose weight yet they end up gaining weight so return to eating meat. One nutritionist quoted in the article said that one of her clients was consuming a smoothie bowl for breakfast that was 700 calories after the calculations. Some of us, myself included, follow these folks that are eating 4-5 bananas in a smoothie, but we go to sedentary jobs while they run and bike all over the city. It doesn’t matter if you are eating meat or not, calories count and do not let anyone fool you. If you are gaining weight, you might want to count for a few days or see a nutritionist. And here is my breakfast smoothie!

Vee’s Breakfast Smoothie -~300 cals*

  • 1.5 cups lemon water (3-10 calories depending on where you look. I just juice a lemon and put it in a mason jar and keep adding filtered water so it maintains its lemony goodness. Discard the lemon at the end of the week.)
  • 1 large banana (120 cals, less if smaller)
  • 2 cups kale (66 cals)
  • ~1 cup mixed berries (70+ cals)

*The lemon water cuts the kale’s bitterness and makes it so I don’t need almond milk, peanut butter or any other calorie additive. I usually have an apple as a snack mid morning and am ready to go for lunch at 12pm. My lunch and dinners are usually substantial (rice bowls or pasta) so saving 200 cals in breakfast helps a lot because I sit most of the day. If your job is more active, you could add chia seeds, peanut butter, or even omit the lemon water and use a milk substitute.

I prepare the bags on the weekend. I take one out the night before and put it in the fridge that way it defrosts a little. (I find if I blend straight from freezing, the kale doesn’t blend all the way through). You can change up the berries or the fruit for variety (I added peaches and nectarines in the summer). You can even change up the greens. When I get bored of this, I have some oatmeal for a few days and return to this. Try it!

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Lemon Water
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Packing the bags
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Storing it in the freezer

Getting a Punching Bag

One of my goals next year is to deal with stress and frustration in a… healthier manner. One that doesn’t involve me gaining weight, feeling lethargic and having any regrets. So I’m buying a punching bag. Work is super stressful, and so is adulting. The first thing I realized when I became an adult, even before I knew how hard it would be to get a job, was that no one cared how much or how often you drank. As long as you fulfilled your duties, you could buy it at ANY TIME. Which I did! I went to work everyday, socialized, occasionally drank too much at happy hours yet most people liked me. But life isn’t supposed to be about surviving, it’s supposed to be about flourising. To be perfectly honest, and no one knows this, there were full YEARS, when I was still living with a roommate and miserable, that I would go to work, come home and drink beers and cranberry vodkas, get drunk, go to sleep and start over again the next day. Could you imagine?  I had weeks of abstinence, even got help including AA and outpatient rehab treatment, and I somehow got it under control, but I never stopped for longer than 30 days. I think if more people knew that about me, they would understand why I am the way I am… 34, single, introverted and all that jazz. I am probably not someone that should be drinking given my history and that is something that I am eliminating ASAP. But anyway…

I took my second boxing class this week and I realized I love the punching bag. I imagine it’s my boss (I really don’t hate him). I imagine it’s my fears. I imagine it’s all my self-anger and my frustrations and I beat it until I’ m done. Unfortunately in classes they only let you go for 2 sets of 3 mins… so I’m getting my own. That way after work, instead of the occasional, or not so occasional drink that I was having towards the end of this year, I will beat the crap out of it.  And also tone my upper body while I do it. I have some rage in me and I’m tired of complaining all day to coworkers and myself. I don’t want to hear it so I will just beat the bag and call it a night. I really want to be myself and authentic. I feel like alcohol and depression pushes everything down to where you are drinking your sorrows and  pretending everything is OK and then repeating it the next day. I don’t want to bite my tongue anymore. I want to be proud of myself and help others. So here is the bag I bought:

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Fitness Midterms

I found this post in my drafts.  I never hit submit but just reading it, I’m brought back to this night and I can feel the happiness that I felt. It was like the feeling I felt the night of my midterms when I realized I did really well and people liked what I did. It was euphoric.

Old post—

My (“free”) fitness instructor training is mixed with people that want to teach bootcamp, strength training, chair fitness, yoga and dance cardio. Over the past 4 weeks we have been learning only about strength exercises and teaching exercise modifications. So I was shocked to learn that I have a midterm on Tuesday in my genre which is dance fitness! I have been waking up at 5am for the past 2 days,  doing choreography and I have 2 songs finished. The midterm involves teaching our class of 30 for no more than 15 mins, including a warm-up. I plan to create my warm up tonight before I go to a Zumba master class (I’m sleepy), and to create one more routine tomorrow morning. Then over the next 5 days I will work on cueing (saying right instead of left),  making sure that the choreography for the three songs is not repetitive and that I smile and say positive things. I’m also going to do a dress rehearsal on a coworker on Tuesday.

I must say that when I came home last night I was happy. Like truly happy. We broke up into small groups last night and I taught 2 women the dance I created yesterday morning and they were sweating a lot. They said it was good and I felt it was great, of course there were issues with direction, but it wasn’t that bad. I know it’s not brain surgery, but for once in my life I can say, my medical office manager job is not who I am. There is more to me than that and for once, I am starting to see that I have potential apart from working for a doctor and ordering his lunch. I am creative and I am a vault of fitness knowledge, correcting people that were doing the grapevine or squats incorrectly and making suggestions on updating their warmups for better transitions… I literally don’t know what is coming together, but universe, I AM READY!

 

I’m Back!!

Whew… Where have I been? Well I have been a mad woman these past few weeks, literally. Things are looking up, yet staying the same. I’m trying to navigate the waters and trying to decide what is the next step.

Fitness Instructor Training– The program was successfully completed this past Tuesday! I had a final last week which included teaching a class and multiple choice test. I was a nervous wreck. Over the past few months, I’ve really learned a lot about myself. I don’t handle stress too well. It affects my sleeping, I drink more and I am constantly on edge, probably due to the drinking and sleeping less. I get it done in the end but everything suffers, including my appearance. I passed the class, so I am officially in a 6 month internship starting in Jan/Feb. I will be teaching a class every Saturday which will be great for me because it will limit Friday night happy hours. I have my playlist down and about 75% done. I need to just fine tune it and clean it up but I still have…

Statistics– Yes. This beast is still on my back and I’m taking the final on Dec 17. I want to get a A- in the class, however to qualify for tuition reimbursement I think I need a C. I’m currently at B level if I get EVERY QUESTION RIGHT on the exam. I started studying. I’m giving myself more time to prepare than the midterm which should be better because I won’t have to prepare an exercise routine that’s due at the same time. It’s just a hard class for me, the theories seem convoluted, the class is online, but I need to focus. This is my last class in my program, I need to pull through and like Tim Gunn says.. Make it Work. Tomorrow is my job’s holiday party. After that, I’m not drinking until after the final so my mind is clear and all the wires are firing at 100%. I’m making cheat sheets as we speak and rereading all of the information.

Weight Loss– I’ve plateaued. I made a friend in my instructor training course and we have been working out a lot. I started taking dance classes, like Samba and belly dancing. I don’t think I’m overcompensating with calories by eating, but I’ve (honestly) increased my alcohol intake which was at zero when I was losing weight the fastest. I also stopped the extra lunch time cardio I was doing during my lunch hour because work became a mess. I just feel burnt out. I constantly feel in a state of mild exhaustion. When I don’t focus, I say stupid things, like the wrong day or that I don’t understand what reproachful means, or I’m smart enough to figure it out from the context.<—– see brains. I know it’s my fault because my self care has gone out the window. I need to focus on getting enough sleep, drinking enough water.

Work– Work, work work. What is there to say. My job is one that I can do and as of right now there is some level of security, but I dislike it a lot. I asked for an increase in bonus and my boss said yes. It was a crazy year with the drama with the hiring and firing of the assistant. This job is just so not what I want to do long term, if at all. I loved being in the instructor training program. Being with folks that cared about fitness, discussing it. I realized that even though I sound like an idiot sometimes at work, when it comes to fitness and exercising I am an encyclopedia. I love making up dances and teaching it and will definitely make that a side job once I get certified. But what about the full time job… I have a wellness job search going and I get notices when positions open up and there are so many great jobs out there. I think once I get my Public health certificate and start teaching, I can put that on my resume. That way employers can see that I am serious about this. The end goal of course is to be a Health Coach and helping people lose weight.

The struggle is real. I won’t even get into dating now. That will be a post for another day…

So my plan until next week to get back track is to

  1. Drink 11 glasses of water per day (it’s recommended that we drink half of our body weight in ounces per day. Since I am 185, that is 92.5 ounces which is 11.56 glasses. I rounded down for sanity purposes).
  2. 7 hours of sleep. At the beginning of the semester I was in bed at 10-10:30. Now it’s 11-12. I need to get up at 6am to have a productive day so I need to start getting ready for bed at 9:45 pm. Have my Epsom salt bath (I will do a post on this soon) at 10 pm, and lights out by 10:30 pm.
  3. Limit TV. Not sure how I found the time, but I’ve made it through 7 seasons of Criminal Minds this semester…. From now on I can only watch TV, movies or frivolous YouTube videos when I am beautifying myself or cooking, because if I’m not multitasking, I’m really wasting time. Plus it might give me some inspiration to paint my nails or twist my hair more often.
  4. Stick to my exercise and food plan. Studies show that deviating from a plan lowers yourself esteem and your ability to follow through in the future. Which is why missing 1 gym class in a week, can lead to missing 4 classes, or is that just me? They say it’s better to aim low and achieve it, than aim high and miss it.

So those are my 4 goals for next week really, but I’m starting now, because I don’t believe in waiting for tomorrow or Monday. I always say, when you decide to start something, start immediately at the next meal or even the next bite!

Happy Friday!!