My Current Regimen

Workout Jam of the Day

“Freedom” By: Jesus Culture feat. Kim Walker-Smith

What Did I Eat Today?

Breakfast – Restaurant Style Tortilla Chips Dipped In Garden Salsa Mixed w/ Avocado

Lunch Sweet Earth Awesome Veggie Burger (King’s Hawaiian Bun, Sargento’s Ultra Thin Slice Provalone, The Huber Family’s Jalapeno Pepper Spread Jelly)

Snack Belvita Blueberry Almond Protein Bar

Dinner – 2 Quorn Meatless Fillets, Bird’s Eye Roasted Garlic Riced Cauliflower

Gym Journal

Today I want to share what my current lineup at the gym looks like each week. With minimal to no variation, this is what I do 5 days a week. In a month or two when I start to hit my limits with this setup, I may switch things up to continue gaining progress. In a conversation with the trainer at the gym, she recommended that eventually I switch to using the cables. For now, this is what I’m doing…

Monday: 1 Mile on the Treadmill – Full Leg Day – Crunches Laying Back w/ Punches – Planking – Beauty Angel machine (RVT 30 – 10 min Vibra-Shape Program & 12 min Red Light)

Tuesday: 1 Mile on the Treadmill – Full Arm Day – Torso RotationBack Extension – Planking

Wednesday: Rest Day

Thursday: 1 Mile on the Treadmill – Full Leg Day – Crunches Laying Back w/ Punches – Planking – Beauty Angel machine

Friday: 1 Mile on the Treadmill – Full Arm Day – Torso RotationBack Extension – Planking

Saturday: 5K on the Treadmill (Endurance Training) – Ab CoasterAssisted Pull-up – Planking – Beauty Angel machine

Sunday: Rest Day

I did do a 5K today since it’s Saturday, although I wasn’t pushing for a great time. I mostly wanted to walk since I pushed so hard last time. 3.7mph is a comfortable brisk walk and 3.9mph is a good power walk pace for me. Periodically I ran for a couple minutes around 5.3-5.7mph to keep my heart rate up. My main goal in doing this is to improve my endurance. As someone who had asthma attacks until age 11, endurance has been harder for me than anything. I have to admit, though, I love seeing so many calories get burned! It’s solid motivation to keep going when I feel like I’m going to get blisters on my foot. lol

Stat Update #3

Workout Jam of the Day

“Fearless” By: Jasmine Murray

What Did I Eat Today

Breakfast – 3 Scrambled Organic Free Range Eggs w/ Garden Salsa

Lunch Hyvee Veggie Sushi Roll (Avocado, Cucumber, & Cream Cheese)

Snack – Fruit Smoothie (Frozen Cherries, Strawberries, Dole Strawberry Orange Banana Juice, Vanilla Protein Powder)

Dinner Sweet Earth Awesome Veggie Burger (King Hawaiian Bun, Onion, Lettuce, Tomato, Dill Pickle, Organic Ketchup, Olive Oil Mayo) & Watermelon

Gym Journal

The gym was closed from mid March until May 13th. I did my best to eat well and stay active during that time and am pleased to report that I didn’t gain anything back or lose any progress visibly. I did have to reclaim some of my strength and running progress when I came back the first week, but it didn’t take long. Even in those few weeks since the first day they reopened, I have made some awesome strides!

I determined that I need to give more focus to my arms. I am super done with upper arm flab! I spoke with the trainer and she directed me to use the Assisted Pullup and Row machines to target this area. She also recommended using free weights that you lift and lower behind year head with your hands together. Due to four different positions on the pullup machine that target most major arm muscles, I didn’t give as much focus to the other arm machines during this time until it was time for my next status update. Just so you know, the weights on this machine reduce how much you are lifting, so the lower the number, the better. Right now I’m doing it at 175 pounds, but someday I want to do it at 0 pounds and accomplish the first actual unassisted pull-up in my entire life.

Before photos:

As far as planking goes, I stopped pushing for a longer hold time and instead increased the intensity of what I was doing during that minute and a half. I have added doing alternating leg lifts to the beat of “Happy Dance” By: Mercy Me. I love that song!

Initially when I came back I was fighting so hard in my own strength to get back in my groove, and it was leaving me drained and exhausted each time. It was only when I surrendered and it all back to God that progress returned, and my joy over it left me energized and refreshed! A little over a week after I was back, I was near the end of my run and invited God to help me through it, and in a second wind reclaimed my previous best time of 12:29. The next day I invited him before the first step and for the first time ever got my mile time under 12 minutes! The next time after that I hit 11:36, only 3 seconds off from my next micro goal. According to army stats, an 11:33 mile time would put me in the top 50% of women age 33-36 (I will be 34 in August). Additionally I shaved several minutes off of my best 5K (3.11 miles) time. God is good!!!

I love how every major stride I take forward is a God thing. My well is finite, but His is infinite, and His Spirit dwells in me. I can tap into it from the first step or 10 minutes in when my personal well is dry. Either way He’s there all the time. I still had to sweat for it, but as my pastor so eloquently put it recently, the Holy Spirit is your helper, not your doer. You still have to do it, and God will assist, amplify, connect, guide, and support your efforts.

Overall I am pleased at even the slightest bit of positive progress in these times. Staying home with my kids during quarantine would have made it super easy to be lazy, eat junk, and gain weight back. The pictures may not look hugely different between update 2 and 3, but man am I happy for every slight difference. A couple pounds down is not 10 pounds up. Hallelujah!

Boosting Immunity

Workout Jam of the Day

“God’s Not Dead” By: Newsboys

What Did I Eat Today

Breakfast – 2 Scrambled Eggs

Lunch – Leftover Matzoh Ball Soup w/ Cooked Green & Purple Cabbage, Diced Tomatoes, Onion, & Carrots

Snack Elevation Dark Chocolate Cashew Cherry Bar

Dinner Gardein Chipotle Georgia Style Chick’n Wings (Vegan) & Brussel Sprouts

Gym Journal

The news has been full of talk about people dying from coronavirus, but they spend little time talking about ways to boost your immune strength to get through it if you get it. Talk of death breeds fear while preparation and knowledge brings us toward love and life with reason.

I’m a believer in preventative maintenance, not just responding to illness that has already taken hold. Your body is designed in a very specific way, and there are plenty of things you can do to improve the strength and quality of your immune system. I would like to share a few things for you to consider. First of all:

🍎 Hippocrates said,”Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” There are plenty of foods with nutrients which support immune function. Incorporate them in your diet! (Garlic is so cool! Study it!)

🏃🏼‍♀️ Your body is designed to be used, and sitting around on your butt the next several weeks will drop your mood and immune system. Find ways to keep active as you’re able. Click here to see an edited down Facebook live I did to encourage you!

🌞Social distancing does not mean you should avoid sunlight and fresh air! They are good for you! You can crack open your windows or step in your front yard and still be more than 6-10 feet away from your neighbor. If someone sneezes or coughs, that is how far it can travel airborne, but it’s not just floating around in the oxygen. It’s transmitted through water particles that left their body in that cough or through touch. Roughly 20 minutes of sun exposure on your skin promotes your body’s ability to produce Vitamin D on it’s own, one of the best antivirals known to man. You should supplement your Vitamin D if you’re not getting enough sunlight. Here’s a great article on the subject: https://medium.com/…/coronavirus-and-the-sun-a-lesson-from-…

💦 Drink your water! (minimum 64 oz a day) I received an email where doctors are suggesting that you drink water at least every 15 minutes to keep your mouth hydrated. If the virus gets in your mouth, water can push it down where your stomach acid can kill it, but if your mouth is dry it can sit and take hold in the respiratory system. Plus, a well hydrated body system operates closer to peak efficiency, and water carries toxins out of your body in urine.

💤 During sleep is when your body does the majority of its healing and repair. That’s part of why doctors always insist on plenty of bed rest when you get sick. Your body has the ability to heal itself when working optimally, so let it.

👍🏻I’m not a doctor, but here are some other immune boosting products to consider:
Elderberry (suggested to help prevent flu virus from attaching to cells, immune boosting)
Probiotics (digestive system is linked to immune system)
Colloidal Silver (throat spray, not the topical gel, it’s antimicrobial)
-High Dose Vitamin C – This one is tough. Vitamin C only stays in your body for roughly 4 hours before you pee it out, but it is really important for certain immune functions. Low dosages and cheap versions with low absorption rates will accomplish next to nothing. Right now I’m taking 1000mg every 4 hours and that is still considered low, but I’m not sick. Too much can also upset the stomach, so do your research on this. Vitamin C is high in citrus fruits, one of the reasons they’re on the immune boosting list.
– I also hear good things about Turmeric, but I’m not knowledgeable about it.

🙏🏼✝️ Prayer and studying the Word is not going to hurt anyone either, though it will certainly help boost your emotional and spiritual immunity in times where people are responding from fear instead of love. I will talk more about mental and emotional health in future articles. They also impact your immune health. Guard your heart. ❤️

Stat Update #2

Workout Jam of the Day

“Radical” By: Disciple

What Did I Eat Today

Breakfast – 3 Scrambled Happy Egg Co Free-est of the Free Range Organic Brown Eggs

Lunch – Restaurant Style Tortilla Chips, 2 Mashed Avocados Mixed w/ Garden Fresh Salsa

Snack Elevation Dark Chocolate Cashew Cherry Bar and Protein2.o +Energy Blueberry Raspberry Water

Dinner – Curried Vegetables (Medium Hot Golden Curry Japanese Curry Mix, Cauliflower, Carrots, Broccoli, Bell Pepper) & White Rice

Gym Journal

Well, it’s definitely been a good minute or two since I wrote an article, and a great deal has happened in that time! There was roughly a week or so after the last article went up where I was still regularly going to the gym, but my schedule was not permitting me to blog. My city started social distancing for Covid-19 Tuesday, March 10th. The last day I went to the gym was Friday the 13th. The gym closed the following Wednesday. While I desperately miss going right now, I understand why they’re closed and am doing my best to get exercise in from home.

I live in South Dakota where we still have a very low number of cases. My area is not in lockdown. There is no stay home order, only a mandate to keep gatherings under 10 people, 1 person grocery store trips, non-essential businesses closing, etc. Schools are also closed and my girls are remote learning on Chromebooks until May 1st at a minimum, potentially the rest of the year if things persist. Parks closed starting today.

I refuse to let this stop me from improving my health from every angle, and I am pleased to share my second stat update with you today (stats and recent photos from 3/29)! Considering the fact that I haven’t been to the gym in almost 3 weeks now, I’m impressed with myself to continue seeing improvements rather than lost progress. Just keep in mind most of the stats I track can only be tracked at the gym, so the numbers for weight lifting machines are from the last day I went March 13th, and the rest is current as of the 29th.

Over the next month, articles will be about ways to stay holistically healthy during this pandemic – home workouts, nutrition to boost your immune strength, overcoming fear and anxiety, possible interviews. You get the idea! The mission does not stop due to roadblocks. It only becomes more important so we can successfully overcome those roadblocks. It’s time to get creative, focused, and see this through!

My before and after photos are below. The two on the far left were taken 2/1. The two in the middle were done at my first stat update 2/29. The images on the far right are from 3/29. I’m just behind a couple days getting this post up. You can definitely see the clear difference now, despite the fact that I haven’t lost a full 10 pounds yet. While I’m losing fat, I’m building great muscle and toning, so it definitely shows! My victory today was putting on a super cute pair of size 16 capris I bought several years ago and never wore. I was sorting through my clothes, looking for what I could get rid of, and I finally decided to try out a 16. They fit great!

Thanks for following along in my journey! Stay tuned!

Accidental 5K

Workout Jam of the Day

“Lift Up Your Face” By: Third Day

What Did I Eat Today

Breakfast – 2 Halo Easy Peel Oranges, 1 Organic Banana, 1/2 Bottle Protein2.o +Energy

Lunch – Vegan Steak Fajita Salad (Lettuce & Organic Spinach Topped w/ Gardein Beefless Tips, Onion, Bell Pepper)

Snack – Apple Pie Larabar

Dinner – Fish Tacos (Gardein Fishless Filets, Lettuce, Rotel Diced Tomatoes w/ Lime Juice & Cilantro, Wrapped in Mission Carb Balance Tortilla (Only 4g Net Carbs!)

Gym Journal

I made it to the gym Saturday, but didn’t blog that day. It turned out to be an incredible success! For the first time ever, I unintentionally did my first 5K! My goal had been to just be on the treadmill for one hour alternating between 3.5-5.5mph, walking and jogging as I was able for some good anaerobic calorie burn and endurance building. When I glanced down at the 2.92 miles point, it occurred to me to look up how many miles are in a 5K (it’s 3.107miles). When I saw this, I ran until the 3.11 marker, and the timer said 47:24. As a point of reference, when I hit my goal of a 10 minute mile, if I could maintain that it would produce a 32 minute 5K. If I had been trying to test my 5K time from the start I would have run more, so I was pretty ok with this accomplishment!

Today at the gym was leg day, and it was a challenge. I pushed myself so hard on Saturday that I developed a pretty painful blister on the back of my left heel. It wasn’t fully healed yet, and I didn’t want to make it worse. While I still got things done, I tried not to hurt myself as well. Not every visit to the gym has to be a record breaker, and I’m happy with myself for getting through it when I had an excuse I could have leaned on to skip. I asked the personal trainer if she had tips for getting rid of them. She said her daughter is a ballerina and gets them all the time. She recommended soaking it in baking soda and epsom salt. #funfacts

After I made my way through all the standard leg day machines, I decided I wanted to try some of the abdominal machines I’ve been afraid to try. The Ab Coaster was interesting. Basically you brace your upper body in place while your knees are on a wheely flat pad. You do crunches by rolling your knees up toward your chest. I did several sets of the that. It also rotated so I was able to target left and right obliques.

Then I tried one that I don’t know what it’s called, but you brace your legs in place and lay on your back at a pretty sharp downward angle. Then you do upward crunches and can hit three circle targets with your hands. OMG. I just laughed and laughed the majority of the time I was on this. It is still pretty challenging for me at this angle with how far you have to crunch to reach the circles, but I managed to get through hitting each one twice just to know that I can do it. I think I will continue trying to get better at this one, perhaps without laughing at myself so strongly. Something about being upside down like that just cracks me up I guess. Of course I still wrapped up with some planking when I was done then hit the infrared bed.

Overall it was a good day! To wrap up, I would like to share what I posted in my Peace Is The Road Bible Study group on Facebook Saturday. I was having a profound moment:

“As I was getting out of the car to walk in the gym this morning, I was thinking how much I don’t want to be cold anymore. 🥶 I’m ready for summer, but I also don’t want to be melting hot. 🥵 A middle ground is nice. It’s comfortable. 😌

Then God said to me:
Stop trying to live ‘comfortable’ all the time. It’s when you break the ceiling of your goals or break the walls of strongholds or break the shackles of addictions that you really start living.

Then I was reminded of yesterday when I was on the treadmill thinking about how keeping going was killing me, and He yelled at me “No! It’s giving you LIFE!”. There’s a theme here.

It’s so true! Pushing past comfortable when I’m running for example is transforming my life right now! When it gets hard to breath and the sweat rolling down my back is suffocating, I focus on deep breathing and the coolness of the fans – I don’t just stop running.

‘Breaks’ aren’t comfortable. They require effort, a little force, forward momentum. Effort isn’t typically comfortable. I always see God testing me by simply seeing if I will try. It took two weeks of consistently coming to the gym before I felt Him give me that supernatural boost of energy and strength to level up. I tried my best, then He met me where I’m at to draw me closer to His plan for my life, just as He always does.

The modern world wants everything to be comfortable, and that’s why we get stuck where we are at instead of growing together. Just try today. Ask God what He wants you to do. Then do it, and ask Him to help you. He will.

(It’s funny, as I was finishing typing this, a song came on the Planet Fitness channel repeating the words “Just give me a try”. On point.)”

First Weigh In! Stat Update

Workout Jam of the Day

“Meant To Live” By: Switchfoot

What Did I Eat Today

Breakfast L’oven Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Round w/ Berryhill Apple Butter, V8+Energy Diet Strawberry Lemonade

Lunch – Protein Smoothie (Organic Banana & Strawberries, Almond Breeze Reduced Sugar Vanilla Almond Milk, Vitality Elevate Vanilla Protein Powder)

Snack – Artichoke, Simply Nature Sea Salt Cauliflower Crackers

Dinner – Spaghetti Squash Boat w/ Ragu Six Cheese Marinara, Onion, Bell Pepper, Mushroom, & Lindsay Naturals Black Olives Topped w/ Sargento Ultra Thin Provalone

Gym Journal

Today’s the day – my very first weigh in and stat update! I’m actually very happy with these results and looking forward to what next month will look like. All the goods will be at the end, but first I have some awesome God moments to share with you!

When I was running on the treadmill today, I prayed for God to help me set a new record. Around the 6 minute mark when I envisioned myself typing the words “pushing through this today killed me” in this blog, it was like God shouted at me – “NO! It gave you life! LIFE!” Ok. Yes Lord. I hear, and I agree. Usually when I see 8 minutes on the timer my mind accepts that I’m almost there and can do it. Things get a little easier. Hitting the 10 minute mark is when I get my second wind or what they call a runner’s high. Knowing I accomplished the main 10 minute goal and every second still running after that is a bonus toward a better mile time, it actually gives me the energy to run faster for every step until it says 1.00 mile on the screen. I did end up setting a new record of a 12:29 mile time!

Again when I went to plank, this is the prayer I said kneeling on the mat:

Today is a day of record breaking, Lord. Give me the strength and ability to push through for your glory and my health. Use it to inspire and motivate those who need to get off the couch or don’t think they can do it. Show them you want us to be healthy and will empower us to get there if we put our trust in you, in Jesus name.

For the last two weeks my ceiling for planking was 1:22. I just couldn’t seem to break it. I kept dropping around 1:10ish and taking a break before doing smaller intervals. The only thing different about today was prayer, and I proceeded to break my record by 8 seconds. In fact, I didn’t even glance at the stopwatch until 0:57 which is unheard of! God is so good! Don’t leave Him out of your physical health!

Ok, so here’s what you need to know about the stats you are about to see!

Any stat related to a gym machine is based on my ability to do 3 full sets of 12 reps at that weight. This is about anaerobic calorie burning and increased strength benefit, not body building. There are a few more machines I could track that I occasionally use, but they strain my elbow injury so I decided to leave them out of the metrics.

You’ll notice I really haven’t lost many pounds (which I explained in the post Let’s Talk Food). In short, while I have lost fat, given the high exercise level involved, I have also gained muscle mass/density which adds pounds. In the first month they sort of cancel each other out. The progress I have made here has surpassed all my best records in my entire life, ones that took me many months to reach previously. The only difference this time is that I am letting God guide and mold me, and He is boosting my efforts.

There is a powerful lesson in these stats. If I was only basing my success on the weight and BMI on the scale, this month would look like a crawling failure. They both say I am extremely obese. Society will say I’m fat, worthless, not pretty, or that without looks I’ll never get anywhere. God says this body does not define what I’m capable of – He does. He says I’m strong and beautiful inside and out, more valuable than the treasures of the world. God wins.

This month I broke records and accomplished things I have never done. (I never ran more than 3 minutes without stopping in my entire life, and now I can run a 12:29 mile after 18 visits to the gym, what?! That’s ALL GOD!) I gained so much strength, clarity, growth, and am more energized in my days. The world cannot tell me who I am. My identity is in Christ, and I love how God sees me and how I see me because of Him. And you can too. If you have been basing your success on the scale alone – STOP – before you miss every other beautiful win God is giving you. See the whole picture!

Persist

Workout Jam of the Day

“Higher” By: Creed

What Did I Eat Today

Breakfast – 2 Scrambled Happy Egg Co. Organic Free Range Brown Eggs, V8+Energy Diet Strawberry Lemonade

Lunch – Salad (Lettuce, Organic Baby Spinach, Baby Bella Mushrooms, Lindsay Naturals Black Olives, Roasted Sunflower Seed Kernels, Honey Roasted Almond Slivers, Dried Cranberries, Olive Garden Signature Dressing)

Snack Gardein Beefless Tips w/ A1 Steak Sauce, 1 Avocado

Dinner – Organic Yellow & Green Zucchini, Broccoli, Cauliflower, & Carrots All in Light Cheese Sauce

Gym Journal

(This article is for Thursday.) I’ve been having an emotional couple of days. I don’t know where it came from, but a wave of grief has been trying to take me down and defeat me. I’m beginning to think it must mean I’m about to receive a big blessing, because it feels like the devil is trying to get me to give up – not just on the gym, but on everything. I’m strong in Christ, and I will get through it. However, I have definitely been on the brink of sobbing several times.

One of those times I was driving. As the tear started to fall from my eye I pulled up to stop at a stop light and this was the bumper sticker directly in front of me. I really felt like the Holy Spirit was trying to call my attention to it and give me the emotional support I needed. I will persist. I will thrive, not just survive.

At the gym, I managed to set a new record and ran a 12:38 mile! I was really happy with myself for pushing through when I wanted to stop.

The rest of my visit was spent recording my stats for Friday’s month end stat update/ first weigh in. I am really excited to share it with you! I ended by doing program 4 on the Viber Beat in the infrared bed which says “A mixed frequency cycle targets specific muscle groups in the legs, abs, arms, and glutes to help tone and tighten muscles. This program provides an energizing workout.” I could feel the vibration in my eyeballs, but it felt good. lol

Push

Workout Jam of the Day

“Mess Of Me” By: Switchfoot (great for running!)

What Did I Eat Today

Breakfast – 2 Egg Omelet w/ One Slice Melted Provalone

Lunch – Tortilla Chips Dipped in Mashed Avocado & Garden Salsa Blend

Snack – 1/2 Cup Coleslaw, Protein2.o Wild Cherry Flavored Water

Dinner Lightlife Vegetarian Hot Dog On Fit & Active Multigrain Bread Topped w/ Frank’s Sauerkraut, Organic Baby Carrots w/ Ranch Dressing

Gym Journal

I decided to push myself today. I started like I have been running 10 minutes on the treadmill at 4.8mph and finished the cooldown on 5.5mph. I really had to go to the bathroom when that was done, so I hurried in there. When I came back out, I decided to get back on the treadmill. I only set it for 5 minutes, but I set it to 5.0 to start to push myself to run a little longer.

Round 1
Round 2

Aside from some decent calorie burn, I did this because it occurred to me that where I push myself today it will be easier next time. My muscle memory has been improving, and I really don’t start to feel the intensity of the run until around minute 5-6 now. If I can push myself to run considerably longer, then perhaps on my next visit I won’t feel it until minute 7. The breathing is getting better. I felt air get down to my diaphragm, but it was still a struggle.

The rest of my visit was arm day. I knew that next arm day will be the day I do my monthly status update, so I pushed myself today to see where I’m truly at. It made me feel good when I saw that the super ripped guy who used the Pulldown machine before me was on the 100lb setting, and I have been doing 85lbs. I may not be ripped, but for someone with an “extremly obese” BMI, I feel good when I’m catching up.

Other than that, it was a normal day! I’m looking forward to sharing my official stats Friday. Buckle up for some cool stuff folks!

Let’s Talk Food

Workout Jam of the Day

“Fix My Eyes” By: For King & Country

What Did I Eat Today

Breakfast Good Food Made Simple Cheese & Veggies Breakfast Burrito, V8 + Energy Diet Strawberry Lemonade

Lunch Little Salad Bar Sunflower Chopped Salad (Green Cabbage, Kale, Red Cabbage, Green Leaf Lettuce, Carrots, Italian Cheese, Edamame, Sunflower Seeds, Quinoa Mix, Sweet Onion Vinaigrette)

Snack Fit & Active Strawberry Protein Meal Bar

Dinner Progresso Creamy Mushroom Soup

Gym Journal

Normally I blog about my workout and share spiritual insights, but today I want to dive into why I eat the way I do for those who have enjoyed seeing my food log. First things first, yes I went to the gym. I bumped it up a tenth of a mile per hour to 4.8 and ran the whole 10 minutes plus most of the cooldown. I’m working on more controlled breathing from the diaphragm, something I can easily do while singing but feels impossible while running. The rest of the visit was pushing myself through leg day.

So perhaps you’ve noticed that each time I blog, I share what I ate for the day. This is mostly an accountability tool for me. Knowing I will tell you is a deterrent from cheating. lol That being said, I have been a vegetarian for going on 3 years now, and I am often asked,”Well then, what exactly do you even eat?” This is an opportunity for people who are curious to see behind the curtain. It also serves as a way to share recommendations for anyone looking for something new to try.

Here is what you will notice about my eating habits – I don’t follow a traditional “diet”. They used to preach if you don’t want to be fat, don’t eat fat. Then we realized that wasn’t a healthy approach. Some fats are super healthy for you (like avocados) and some are not. It’s even been suggested healthy fats may be able to help curb diabetes. Now they preach keto and other low carb approaches which all revolve around cutting your carbohydrates as low as possible to put you in a state of ketosis where your body no longer has carbs to burn for energy and turns to burning fat, it’s secondary fuel source. Again, what we are beginning to learn is that while this does provide some impressive health benefits in the short term, it can cause serious heart and other health issues if followed in the long term.

The truth is God made food as fuel and medicine, and if we get enough diversity in our diets, food can meet all of our nutritional needs. Your food is the color it is due to its nutritional content, so eating the rainbow is good for you! People who are cutting carbs these days often cut fruit out of their diet – some of the most nutritionally dense foods there are – simply because they have carbohydrates in them. What they don’t understand is that there are different kinds of sugar. The kind that is in fruit is a simple carbohydrate that is incredibly easy for your body to break down. Complex carbohydrates like artificial sugars and sweeteners are the real problem, not the naturally occurring ones. In addition, whole grains are good for you, although standard white bread is not. While it’s not an only source for cravings, often nutritional deficiency can cause certain cravings. For example when I’m low in iron I crave potatoes or potassium I crave bananas. Balanced nutrition helps control cravings. (Also quality rest to keep cortisol in check)

I do my level best to eat as many organic non-gmo whole foods as possible. I buy what I can organic (thank you Aldi!) because the pesticides we use are lethal and I don’t want to ingest them in my food if a Hazmat suit is needed to spray them. I buy non-gmo when I’m able (though this is harder to find), because this is not a fully vetted out advancement yet and concerns are starting to be raised regarding them. I buy whole foods as often as possible, because it saves money so I’m not paying a convenience fee for someone to pull the lettuce off the head or chop my onion and because it’s the easiest way to avoid preservatives, additives, sweeteners, and other processed garbage I don’t want. Do you realize they actually dye your olives black? That’s why you see me buying Lindsay’s Naturals black olives, because they don’t dye them. Overall, the way God designed things is the best way, and I try my best to get as close to what I would call the Garden of Eden diet as I can. As a friend of mine says, if it’s of the earth, it’s of the greatest worth.

Notice how meat is not anywhere on this list? 😉

Obviously this can’t always happen. If I go out to eat or a friend feeds me or my budget is too thin for the week’s groceries, I have to make exceptions. I don’t always have time for that level of meal prep, and the kids don’t always want to eat like I do (they act like a brussel sprout would kill them), so sometimes convenience wins. In addition, I have no desire to punish myself toward better health, and I will enjoy a brownie or a bowl of ice cream once in awhile if I so choose. We have to live a little! However, when I do want a tortilla for example, you’ll notice I buy the kind that only have 4g of net carbs, and my loaves of bread are multigrain and only 45 calories per slice. The ice cream I buy is reduced calorie and protein enriched. I still try to find a carb reducing, healthier option when I do this.

In addition, with my body type, rather than cutting carbs for ketosis, I do what is called metabolic confusion (also known as carb cycling). This means that I alternate between high carb days and low carb days to sort of trick my metabolism into doing what I want while still being able to enjoy rich and delicious nutritional diversity. This also establishes a lifestyle I can easily maintain when the weight is gone rather than having to shift in and out of a “diet” plan where you often gain back the weight once you hit your goal and quit the diet.

Given the high level of exercise I have been doing, I know that my weight won’t show much if any change on the scale for the first month. This isn’t because I’m not making progress. It’s actually because while I have lost fat, I have also significantly increased my muscle mass/density and they sort of cancel each other out in the beginning. When my first set of stats goes up at the end of this week, you’ll notice all the incredible improvements, including the drop in my BMI and the shrinking in the before and after photos! The scale is far from the only metric and should not dictate your satisfaction with your progress. That number will drop eventually, but I will not sacrifice my overall health just to make it happen faster. Patience is a virtue!

This is a holistic health journey, not just a weight loss journey.

As far as timing, you may have noticed I eat 4-5 times a day. My ideal goal is to eat at 9am, noon, 3pm, and 6pm which falls within a 10 hour window. Occasionally if I know I’ll be up til close to midnight, I may have a snack at 9pm. Each time I aim to eat roughly 200-400 calories.

One of my biggest previous struggles was that I would not be hungry at breakfast, sometimes even feeling sick to my stomach in the morning. I would eat a small lunch, usually an apple around 3pm, then come home starving after a day of manual labor and overindulge at dinner which would sit heavily on my stomach overnight and perpetuate the cycle. I have to force myself to eat breakfast and spread out my intake.

One of the things you learn studying to be a personal trainer is that eating larger meals once or twice a day can throw your body into a sort of starvation mode where it never knows when you will feed it next, so it stores all those excess calories you can’t immediately use as fat for later emergencies. By breaking down your eating into more frequent, smaller portions, you are giving yourself just enough food to sustain your energy needs without having leftovers to store as fat. Your body knows it will be fed, so no starvation mode.

For beverages, I do my very best to drink a bare minimum of 64 ounces of reverse osmosis clean water a day, although for my body weight that is actually still putting me at being a bit dehydrated if I don’t drink more than that. I rarely drink anything else unless it provides a sincere benefit. For example, almond milk actually has more calcium than regular milk and is also high in magnesium, two things your bones need together to properly gain their benefits. So I will use that in smoothies or cereal. Periodically if I feel I’m not getting enough blue/purple foods in my diet, I will buy juices.

You may also notice that sometimes I will do the V8 energy drinks or the Protein and energy enriched flavored waters. As a vegetarian I look for every opportunity I can to increase my protein intake. Studies have also shown that 200mg or less of caffeine per day can boost weight loss without harming you, so I will sometimes have a beverage with 70-100mg (NOT COFFEE…yuck) about 30 minutes before I go to the gym to give me a little pep in my step, but I refuse to depend on it.

In general, whether it’s from a protein infused water or food, I will make sure I get at least 15g of protein after a workout at the gym. This is where my plant based meat substitutes come in handy, because they typically load them up with protein. I also have a plant based protein powder I can use and bars I like. Truthfully protein is protein, so whey protein (from dairy) and plant based protein will both get the job done, but plant based proteins offer a bonus of the nutritional benefits plants offer. So I try to lean toward what will give me a little more benefit.

So that is how I eat, and that is how it will stay. I’ve tried just about every other method and learned a multitude of lessons from it. This is the way that satisfies my nutritional needs and helps me feel energized, healthy, and satisfies my taste buds and my soul. Obviously not everyone is the same as me. I saw a study that suggested blood type can be an indicator of whether or not being vegetarian is suited for you, and based on their information I am optimal as a vegetarian. It was a nice little validation to what I was already choosing to do.

However, we do all need that nutritional diversity, and our bodies all operate in a generally same way when it comes to energy needs. Please be sure that any dietary changes you make are what is best for you and not just following a fad. Consult your doctor, dietician, personal trainer, talk with a professional. Even as someone who is getting certified as a Health and Nutrition Coach, I would still recommend that having seen people in my life with allergies to Vitamin A and people who are somehow the most fit on earth eating an entire box of corn dogs in one sitting. Make dietary changes for the right reasons – your total health.

21 Days!

Workout Jam of the Day

“The Victory” By: Third Day

What Did I Eat Today

Breakfast – 1 Kellogg’s Flatbread Breakfast Sandwich – Egg, Spinach, & Cheese Medley

Lunch – 2 Sauteed Portabella Mushroom Caps Seasoned in Cavender’s All Purpose Greek Seasoning, 1 Boiled Artichoke w/ Mayo & Worcestershire Dipping Sauce

Snack – Protein Smoothie (Frozen Black Cherries & Blueberries, Almond Breeze Reduced Sugar Vanilla Almond Milk, Vitality Elevate Vanilla Plant-Based Protein Powder)

Dinner – Cabbage w/ Organic Diced Tomatoes, Carrots, & Onion

Gym Journal

My expectations were low for this day when I walked in sore, but I’m pleased to report I made another positive step forward! I increased the treadmill from 4.5 to 4.7mph for the full 10 minutes, and I still managed to run the whole time without stopping. This wore me out a bit, though, and I walked at 3.5 for the first two minutes of the cooldown only to feel energized enough to do the third minute back at 4.7. Again seeing how close I was to a full mile I kicked it up to 5.5 for roughly the last 15 seconds, but I still came up a few tenths short on the reading. C’est la vie.

From there I went through arm day – Pectoral Fly, Rear Deltoid, Shoulder Press, Row, Pulldown, Tricep Press, Tricep Extension, & Back Extension. I also knocked out my planks. I was able to increase the weight on some of those machines but not all. There wasn’t much truly eventful about today – and that’s the point. Today marked 21 days of consistently visiting the gym!

I stuck with it no matter how easy and tempting it was to quit, and now it is truly a habit that feels like part of my normal routine. I didn’t have to fight myself to come. I just put on my gym clothes, grabbed my bag, and went. I wasn’t thinking about where else I could be or what else I could be doing. I was present in the moment and focusing on positive growth, continuing to push myself further into new territory I felt the Lord calling me to explore.

My conscious awareness of this knowledge about how habits are formed doesn’t weaken or nullify them. In fact, it makes them that much more powerful. 21 days was a micro goal for me, and today I celebrate a victory! In that short time not only have I formed a habit, but I’ve cut over two minutes off my mile time and shattered the ceiling of what I thought I was capable of doing. Being able to step back from myself in the given moment and see each step I’ve taken to climb the mountain is humbling and strengthens my faith to know that God sent me here to claim more of the blessings He has had in store for my life beyond my imagining.

I find it interesting that today of all days is when I discovered the following paper in the cup holder of the treadmill, like God’s sign He’s using this to feed my soul. I got the pictures and put it back in the cup holder for to bless the next person.

I just feel good. The energy in my life is so different right now. I wish I could explain to you how much more energized, driven, and downright joyful I have been or this anticipation in my chest like something big and wonderful is coming. Thank you Lord. I needed this.

Break The Ceiling

Workout Jam of the Day

“Unbreakable” By: Fireflight

This is my planking song every time! So many of the lyrics encourage me to plank a few more seconds and try to break records. Lyrics such as “God I want to dream again, take me where I’ve never been, I want to go there, this time I’m not scared” or “Sometimes it’s hard to just keep going, but faith is moving without knowing”. The words always fall at perfect times when it would be easier to drop instead of hold on for one more second.

What Did I Eat Today

Breakfast – 2 Scrambled Organic Valley Organic Free Range Large Brown Eggs

Lunch – Salad (Lettuce Off Head Topped w/ Lindsay Naturals Black Olives, Sunflower Seed Kernels, Honey Roasted Almond Slivers, Dried Cranberries, Mushrooms, Organic Spinach, Olive Garden Signature Italian Dressing), Protein2.o +Energy Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored Water

Snack Think Thin Lemon Delight Protein Bar

Dinner Gardein Vegan Chipotle Georgia Style Chick’n Wings, Brussel Sprouts

Gym Journal

Well folks, as it turns out, it wasn’t a fluke! I am so incredibly happy to share that today I ran the full 10 minutes on the treadmill at 4.5mph without stopping for the third time! Beyond that, when that 10 minutes ended and started the 3 minute cooldown, instead of allowing the treadmill to decrease in speed every 60 seconds, I increased the speed to 4.8 through to the end! So I actually ran for 13 minutes without stopping and ran harder at the end rather than giving up! Seriously, I could not be more thrilled! When I told Carl, he said “Way to break the ceiling!”, and man did that feel good.

Today was leg day, so my confidence is not high that I’ll be able to push past that tomorrow. I won’t even be mad at myself if I don’t run the whole time tomorrow; however, my goal is going to be to kick the speed up to 4.7mph and try running the whole time on that setting. Today I touched the very edge of running a 13 minute mile nonstop! During the “cooldown” I saw how close I was and tried to increase the speed a little more in the last seconds to get that extra 0.02 miles on the screen, but it timed out before I got there. I couldn’t button mash fast enough. lol

After my victory on the treadmill, I knocked out the Glute, Hip Abduction, Seated Leg Press, Leg Extension, & Seated Leg Curl machines for leg day, then made my way over to plank. I’ve transitioned into a new phase of planking. I’m making sure that my first plank always crosses the 1 minute mark (usually to around 1:10 or so). Then I drop for roughly 10 seconds and plank for another 30 seconds, etc. I’m doing this until I’ve done at least 2 accumulated minutes of planking or more. After I’ve done this for awhile, I will go back to trying to increase that first plank time, but this felt like a good way to work my way into those longer times.

My grand revelation today was simply that I had been in my own way for a long time. I’m beginning to think I could always run this long without stopping, and it was fear more than the state of my health that was stopping me. I will admit that once I get past the 6 minute mark, the majority of my thoughts are simply convincing myself not to walk. It’s not easy yet, but I was able to keep going. I think I probably could have gone a couple minutes longer if the preset times hadn’t run out. So perhaps God has made me capable of more than I knew possible. That makes me smile. 🙂

Clean Your Mirror

Workout Jam of the Day

“Power” By: We Are Messengers

What Did I Eat Today

Breakfast L’Oven Fresh Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Round w/ Berryhill Apple Butter

Lunch – Mandarin “Chicken” Salad (Lettuce Off Head Topped w/ Lindsay Naturals Black Olives, Sunflower Seed Kernels, Honey Roasted Almond Slivers, Dried Cranberries, & Gardein Vegan Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick’n)

Snack Baby Ruth candy bar (There is no shame in my game.)

Dinner – 2 Quorn Meatless Fillets, Green Giant Riced Cauliflower & Sweet Potato

Gym Journal

Today was much better than yesterday, though not completely better. Today was the second time in my life I ever ran 10 minutes without stopping! Once I can do it a third time, I will increase the speed. I’m super close to a 13 minute mile right now (the last 3 minutes is a cooldown period and is not all running) which is over 2 minutes faster than I started the month doing.

As I walked toward the machines to start arm day, I noticed one of the employees cleaning the wall of mirror, and it got me thinking. When is the last time you cleaned your mirrors? No, I’m not talking about the one in your bathroom. I’m talking about your circle – tribe, friends, whatever you want to call it. When is the last time you stopped to take stock of the people social environment you put yourself in? They say you are your five closest friends, so what you see in them is often a mirror for you to evaluate your own emotional/spiritual reflection in.

I wanted to encourage you to take stock of the influences in your life. Right now every close friend I have is one that supports overall wellness and encourages my goals for better health, often to the point where they will work out with me. For example, Carl came with me again today and intends to join me regularly. I am happy with my circle. I’m not looking for perfect people, just authentic and healthy relationships.

Arm day went well. I was able to increase to the next level of weights for the majority of the machines I used. When I approached the vicious Shoulder Press, it was already set to 40 (I’ve been doing it on 25 in agonizing struggle), so I took that as my sign to give it a go. I’m pleased to report that although the last set was pretty rough, I made it through all 3 sets on the new setting! Hallelujah!

I did my planking and wrapped up using the Hydro massage beds this time. It was nice and relaxing. I almost fell asleep. I think I’m actually looking forward to coming back to the gym on Thursday! I’m so close to finishing my 21 days of forming a habit, and I feel it in everything I do every day. It feels so much better to be active – bonus – all the snow melted from my sidewalk! Spring is close! My energy level creeps up a little higher each day in anticipation of flowers and outdoor playtime. #kidatheart