December 2016 Health Review: Lessons in Clean Eating and Gentle Movement

I’ve been tracking my meals for just over a month (December 2016). This isn’t the first time I have done meal tracking, but I still am learning. I have adjusting to do, but I feel like I’m getting a handle on it. I have lost about 5-7 lbs and lost an inch off my waist and 1.5 off of my hips. My weight did go up a bit around the holidays and never went down, but the fact I didn’t gain inches leaves me hopeful that it was muscle gain. I also have been tracking my steps with my Fitbit One. I’m hoping to find my Fitbit Charge HR charger so I can get a better read on what I’m burning.

Here are a few of my insights from my first month back to tracking…

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Protein/Fat/Carbs

I have decided to at least temporarily go back to eating a mostly vegan vegetarian lifestyle instead of a 100% vegan lifestyle. I had been doing an entirely vegan diet for the better part of 2016 and I loved it. That said, once I tried to lose weight I was finding I never was reaching my protein goals. Fat and carbs have been surprisingly easy to deal with, but protein has been a challenge.

I honestly was struggling very hard to get enough protein. It is doable and I’m excited to try it again in the future so I wouldn’t want to sway anyone at all away from a 100% vegan lifestyle. There are extremely strong and healthy people that are vegan. For right now I need to at least take a break. While I don’t want to add a lot of dairy back in and I would love to not even have it every day for now I think this is the best choice for me. I don’t think I will have it every day, but sometimes I can’t reach my protein and caloric goals and for right now I think this is the right choice for my body.

My normal grocery store stopped carrying vegan yogurts and that really complicated things. I am also trying to save money and protein powders are pretty expensive. Once I add in a protein shake (vegan or not) it makes a huge difference, but I can’t do that all the time. What I can do though is focus on vegetarian and mostly vegan foods that will help me reach my goals.

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Healthy Snacks

My favorite snacks that I have gotten into eating the past month are:

  • Cuties (Tangerines)
  • Celery or Apple with Peanut Butter
  • Baby Carrots
  • Frozen Berries
  • Vanilla Almond Milk
  • Homemade Air-popped Popcorn
  • Homemade Coffee Drinks with Vanilla Almond Milk
  • Banana with a few nuts

I also tried eating cashews on their own, but I found myself going over my calorie goal a lot whenever I ate them because nuts are so high in calories for so few nuts.

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Restorative Yoga

One of the main reasons I gained weight and have struggled is due to an injury last year. Even yoga felt a bit hard to do and I’d get tired so easily. I have had some times with back and neck discomfort and pain, but I am determined to get over this so in addition to starting to make sure I meet my 10,000+ daily steps I am slowly adding in daily yoga (2 or 3x even better, but at least once). I already am feeling better once I started to add this in.

I miss taking in person classes and look forward to getting back to that, but to be able to do daily yoga I downloaded an app. I hardly ever pay for apps, but I bit the bullet here and I’m so happy I did. It is called Yoga Studio and it turns out it is made by Gaiam (a leader in yoga products). I have only been using it a week, but it has made it super easy to add short yoga in the morning and before bed.

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I read this graphic after doing my first session (in which my kitten ran over my tummy as I did a pose). I’m glad they are pro-kitten! That is one benefit over a studio class.
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Yoga with my kitten! Wow! My adult cat also will enjoy this.

If you want to try it for yourself here is an example class and then you can download Yoga Studio for yourself (kitten not included). I use it on a Kindle Fire, but it is available on all the app stores. I love that it downloads the classes vs. streaming them and yet is small so I can watch it whenever and still have room to download all my favorite shows/movies from Amazon Prime and Netflix.

It isn’t as good as a live class in some ways, but it is a great way to guide you though the moves and make it easier to fit more yoga into the day. You can also build your own playlist. My first attempts have been…okay. I will work on it, but for now I will use all the wonderful combos they have included. I just wish they had one that focused specifically on back and neck pain, but I do my physical therapy too. I have lost a lot of my flexibility and fitness over the past year, but I feel good to be going after it again.

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Next Up Weights, Natural Energy, and Fitness Classes…

My upcoming goals include getting a weight bench for home and some lighter weights. In the meantime I am going to use fitness bands to work on getting my muscles back and especially strengthening my neck and shoulders.

I also am going to continue to work on making sure I get enough caffeine, but not too much. I’ve found it has really helped me and just been enjoyable. I’m going to focus on getting my endurance back up. One way is I am hoping to get back to taking classes in person, but in the meantime my home gym is shaping up and hopefully I am too.

Overall, I feel good. I’m not as strong as I have been in the past, but I’m on the path. I’m happy. Things are good and I believe in myself. Starting over is really hard and slow progress (and lack of progress) are frustrating, but it will all work out.


Some Last Words of Advice

I heard some rotten advice the other day. Someone asked a fitness expert how to stay motivated and they were given the advice to do it with their husband or wife…or a friend. I laughed a bit at how ridiculous that advice seemed to me and I tuned out. The truth is that it is great if you have someone to work out with, but it doesn’t always work out that way and the dirty secret is that no one is motivated all the time.

There is a difference between motivated and dedicated. You aren’t always going to feel like running even if you love it like I do. You aren’t aways going to feel like tracking your food or doing yoga, but you will be glad you had the dedication to do so and it is dedication that will bring you results. Motivation gets you started, but dedication is how you reach your goals.

As much as someone else may love and support you, you are the one that ultimately needs to love yourself enough to have the dedication to be good to yourself and do what is best for your mind, body, and spirit. It is awesome to have a workout buddy, but your goals for your health should not hinge on someone else’s motivation. I have had many a person that I worked out with or tried to encourage and if I gave up when they sometimes did I would never have achieved half of the things I have and to be honest my most successful loved ones didn’t stop working out or eating well when I fell off the wagon (rather they just gently supported and encouraged me to get back to it).

It is wonderful to support one another, but you should never hitch your motivation to someone else’s and you never should think that you need to stay motivated at all times. You need to stay dedicated and try to remember the motivation that got you started in the first place. It is unrealistic to think you will always feel like working out.

So what would my advice have been…

You need to be real with yourself with what is most important to you and what is a valid excuse and what is not. For instance, a friend of mine has nearly the same commute I do and she has gotten into phenomenal shape. I in the meantime have gained a lot of weight over the same time. That said, I also had an injury and she got off a medication that caused weight gain. She was dedicated and got back into her running while I both legitimately and some not took a lot of time to not workout, but rather just give into the aches and pains.

At this point I had to look realistically at my commute and my injury and decide what was valid and what is not. It is not valid for me to not workout at all. I have made huge strides and at times it has all but been healed 100%. I am able to work all day and sometimes I am very tired after my commute, but after relaxing a bit I am actually able to do something. And, I can track my food. I can make smarter choices and be more intentional. I was inspired by her and others, but I’m not going to hinge my health choices on anyone else.

It is not anyone else’s responsibility to keep you moving and eating well. It is great if you have someone to workout with, but if they can’t go then you better not let that be your excuse to skip it.

It is easy to say something like “workout with your husband or wife” but in reality it is not their job to keep you fit. It is fun if you can go together as a team, but at the end of the day that is a benefit to a relationship, not a bandage to your lack of motivation in the long term.

Focus on being real with yourself about what you can and can’t do and what matters the most to you. Motivation won’t always be there, but if you make choices based on what is right for you and not pass the buck to someone else you will find it gets easier to make healthy habits that won’t go away (even if you lose your workout buddy if they stop making healthy choices or are forced to stop due to injury).

It isn’t always easy to stay motivated or excited about the process. I’ve struggled myself with my lack of weight loss the past week or so, but the answer is never look to someone else to depend on. They can help you in your journey, but you need to love yourself first. I love that I have a great support system and it is true that sometimes a loved one can motivate you, but you should never depend on that. You need to find the dedication in yourself to love and care for yourself. How do you do that? You just need to check in with yourself and be honest. For me, gaining weight has been very stressful and demoralizing and I did have good excuses, but I’m not going to let that stop me from taking a breath and moving forward.

❤ Always Jenny

 

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