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Change is a good thing: Whole30 Wrap-Up

Status

I finished the whole30

To change one’s life:

1. Start immediately

2. Do it flamboyantly

3. No exceptions

– William James

This is it, folks. My final report on my Whole30 experience. But, I can guarantee you this will not be my last mention of it, nor will this be my last Whole30. This was an amazing experience that I truly recommend to everyone who wants to learn about their relationship with food.

I’ll cut right to the chase and breakdown how the last 30 days changed me. Some changes are physical, other are deeper and much more important to me. The way I think and feel about food is forever changed.

Reading labels before I buy food or looking up ingredients from my favorite restaurants has become the norm for me. Sure, it takes a little extra time but seeing those franken-gredients help me make the right choice! Reading labels on processed food sure makes me lose my appetite! The best food is the one that has no label to read ūüėČ

Grocery shopping and meal planning has changed. I almost solely shop the perimeter of the store (did ya know that’s where all the good stuff is?!) and I buy harder to find ingredients (like coconut flour) online. Shopping is actually easier! I only have to decide what meats and yummy veggies I want for the week because my list of pantry staples is simpler and I keep it stocked (mainly canned tomatoes, olives, and coconut milk!)¬†The first few weeks on W30 I went to the grocery store armed with my iPhone, ready to look up any questionable items. Now, it’s starting to make sense…it’s starting to become ingrained in me.

My performance in the gym has improved tremendously. I used to struggle to find food that I can tolerate before a work out and lived on protein shakes. Now it is simple– something small like half an avocado and a boiled egg tells my body it’s go-time.

My thinking has changed, too. I am no longer impressed by magazine articles or pins that claim things like “Lose 5 pounds in one week by eating only smoothies!” When I see things like that, I can’t help but think how I was once fooled by those claims. It is so simple now. Eat healthy, real food and you will not only look better but FEEL better, too!

And on to the part you are probably most interested in…

I’m happy to announce that my goal of leaning out while still holding my own was reached! I lost some fat and gained some muscle!

The Whole30 confirmed my suspicions that the headaches and all around cruddy feeling I have been experiencing so often is definitely related to food. The entire month I did not experience any of those awful feelings I have grown so used to!

Though it took a while for things to level out, I got some long-awaited relief from digestive problems. I finally realized that feeling like a blimp after I eat is NOT a normal feeling.

Before the Whole30, sometimes I felt like I was wearing down. I always had some sort of ache here or pain there. Even though I worked out harder than ever I forgot about my usually achy knees and feet.

Unfortunately, the reintroduction did not go as planned. I knew that it would be hard with my first “day off” being Easter weekend. I kept it paleo for the most part, with the exception of a slice of cheese and settled for a gluten-free cider when all I really wanted was a beer.

And I was instantly reminded why I did the Whole30 in the first place. I felt awful. I immediately got a headache from the sugar and my stomach hurt, too.

Then my almost-90-legally-blind amazing grandmother made her peach cobbler for Easter…well, there was no way I was passing that up. This woman makes the most delicious and beautiful peach cobbler I have ever seen.

Grandma's Peach Cobbler

Grandma’s Peach Cobbler

Even though I did not make it through the proper reintroduction phase, I think I did pretty good by not binging on anything and everything in sight. I had a few treats that I¬†consciously¬†decided to eat. I was not too strict, but I was not too laxed, either. Even so, I started experiencing ALL the symptoms I mentioned earlier that had improved while I was on the Whole30. Well, there’s that reinforcement I was looking for!! ¬†Although I don’t know WHAT specifically makes me feel sick, I know that eating like a cavegirl is the right choice for me.

Have I inspired you to give it a try? How did your Whole30 reintro go? Let me know in the comments section!

Coming up next week I’ll share my favorite new food find since starting the Whole30 AND I am going to give one lucky reader a freebie to try!

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Weight a minute!

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Exercise goals vary from person to person. Maybe you want to lose weight, tighten up,¬†maintain¬†your weight, reduce your body fat, build lean muscle… The list goes on. It’s true that different methods are better for different goals. However, I think that if you choose just one, you are missing out. Running endlessly on the treadmill to lose weight is a common example. That is why I am excited to write this post about weight training!

Lifting weights¬†actually¬†burns more calories than cardio alone and of course builds muscle. If you are thinking that sounds too simple, well, you’re right.¬†There are all sorts of other training methods that can give you more “bang for your buck” at the gym. But, for today I will stick to the topic of weight lifting.

As promised, I’ve got a breakdown of the different types of weight training goals and some real basic principles of how to get started. I collected this information over the last year or two, and¬†tweaked it as I learned from other sources. Body Building¬†is one of my go-to resources and has some really great articles! So here we go…

Think of these terms on a continuum: Conditioning, Hypertrophy, Strength, and Power.

Conditioning is used to increase endurance.¬†With this strategy, you do a high number of reps (some agree 12 or more, others say more than 15) in 3-4 sets, with short rest (30 seconds to 1 minute)¬†in between. At the gym, you will tend to do a higher number of exercises (AKA “volume”) with lower intensity. By intensity, I am referring to the amount of “force” you put behind each rep. Low intensity would mean that you are lifting about half of your max weight. If you are new to weight training this is probably a good place to start. Get a feel for the weights, machines, and focus on your form…then comes…

Hypertrophy is the fun stuff! This is when people start telling you that you have guns (it still counts even if it is right after a workout and your still swollen, right?) Hypertrophy refers to the the increase of muscle. If your goal is to¬†visibly gain muscle (more than just “toning” up) you would decrease the number of reps to about 8-12, but use heavier weights. 3-4 is still appropriate, but increase the rest in between to 60-90 seconds because your muscles need recovery time!¬†You can still do a high number of exercises, but (and here’s the important part) you must lift a weight that is heavy enough to build muscle. Here’s a good rule of thumb: choose a weight that you can lift for at least 6-8 reps, but no more than 12. Think of this as using 70-80% of your maximum weight.

Strength, well, means just that. To achieve this you would do 6-8 reps, but you can decrease your sets to 2-3. Some sources I’ve read say to rest anywhere between 2-4 minutes. Personally, I can’t imagine resting for 4 minutes…I think I would lose my stamina! For strength training, you would want to do a more moderate number of exercises so that you have more time and energy to focus on the muscle groups that you are training. You don’t need to max out on weight for strength training, use about 80-90% intensity.

Power refers to increasing your max strength, in which you go all out and lift 90-100% of your max weight but train with a lower volume. As you can imagine, you would do a low number of reps (1-5) per set (2-4) and need more rest in between.

My training goals fall somewhere in between hypertrophy and strength. I tend to do about 5-6 weight training exercises at the gym–3 sets of 6-8 . I have to really push myself and be mentally focused to use the greater intensity required for strength training. Some exercises I am in the “strength” stage, others I am still building up to. These are just some basic guidelines to give you a quick intro to weight training….do what feels right for you (especially when it comes to figuring out your max weight and rest period needed!)

Is weight training a part of your goals? Let me know in the comments section and use #happilyeverstronger to tweet about your gym adventures this week!  next week as I prep for my Whole30!

And I will leave you with this motivational message I borrowed from PFit Blog (because I desperately need to take some pictures!)

You can set this as your iPhone lock screen for constant motivation! From Bonnie Pfiester at pfitblog.com!

Is it your time?

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Every person’s journey to finding happiness through being healthy is different. Different things propel us to make positive changes in our lives. It’s not necessarily how you get there, but that you make it to that point in your life that matters. It seems that people spend a lot of time thinking about making lifestyle changes before they actually do it. And that’s ok. Part of the process is thinking…that’s where it all starts after all. But there comes a time when you’ve got to be like Nike and just DO it.

This is the part where if it were a few years ago, my need for order and concrete thinking would take over and I would break it down into steps 1-3. First you get an idea, then you set the goal, and then you take action.  That may very well be the case, but sometimes another approach works, too.

If you’re fed up with waiting for the perfect time to start focusing on fitness, waiting for life to slow down, waiting for a less busy time of year, or waiting for the stars to align then you may need to rethink your approach. Sometimes, you’ve got to just fake it till you make it. I don’t mean be a poser or put up a front. In my counseling program, we like to call this “acting as if.” This is probably where I lost you….just go with it…

So how does this apply to living fit?

Well, earlier this year when I learned about the Paleo Diet¬†from my fitness group (more on this later) it immediately appealed to me and I knew that I wanted to try to make this my lifestyle. But, this meant some drastic changes in my eating habits (WHAT? No hummus?!) So while trying to learn about paleo eating and also intermittently using up my stockpile of processed foods and grains, I just acted as if I have eaten that way all my life. While I was still trying to figure it all out, I just pretended that I already had it all figured out. It’s kind of like Jedi-mind tricking yourself! It’s all about attitude; visualize who you WANT to be as if you are already that person. Trying anything new is difficult in the beginning, so to cope with these drastic restrictions on my diet, I didn’t think of them as restrictions at all. Instead of saying I can’t eat that, I said I don’t eat that. When I would slip up and eat a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, or¬†fall to the temptation of the check-out line candy bars, I refused to think of it as a failure.¬†I know that this type of thinking¬†can cause me to sabotage myself and just give up. I thought of it like this– I choose to eat like a caveman, but every now and then I can choose to eat otherwise, end up feeling like crap (physically and emotionally), learn from it, and move on. ¬†From the beginning, I trained my thoughts to be as if I was already an established paleo eater which made it easier for me to stick to it. If I had let the newness of my eating habits get to me, I would have ended up obsessing over the food I chose not to eat anymore.

The same goes for working out. When my brother started training for his Tough Mudder, he went into BEAST MODE. I was jealous. I wanted to be in BEAST MODE…but I just wasn’t there yet…not mentally and certainly not physically. So, as I tried to get back into the swing of things (a new house and plateauing at the gym put a cramp in my workout) I just went ahead and acted as if I was in BEAST MODE already. I can’t really explain it other than I just had a “fierce” attitude at the gym. Pretty soon after that, its like somebody hit the ON switch. I was there. Not only was my mind thinking like a BEAST, but my body was finally training like one!

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So you see, if living a fit life is your goal…start acting as if you’re already fit. Think strong. Think healthy. This way you will be more mindful of your body in¬†the decisions you make. Act as if, and the rest will follow suit. Before you know it you will beyond the talking about it stage and you will be DOING!

I bet some of you have already tried this without realizing what you were doing! Or if not, I challenge you to give it a try this week. Drop me a comment and tell me about your experience!