GUEST POST: Sobering Moments of Commitment

 

Sobriety for any defined period of time was a foreign concept for me. I’m a single, thirty-something year old event coordinator living in the heart of Richmond City. Let’s be real. In addition to the fact that I was raised in a family of unabashed drinkers, part of my job is keeping a pulse on local talent and night life. In all fairness, slamming a few cocktails at the local hot spot while scouting the latest band could almost be considered “field research”. You know, par for the course. No really – I’m just that dedicated to my work.

When my friend, Peter, decided to hop on the wagon for 90 days, I was impressed. Impressed by his will power to resist a drink when offered, but also impressed with this idea of making a commitment to himself and seeing it through. When was the last time I fulfilled a commitment to myself? I make and keep promises to others all the time, but when did I last make a promise to myself and actually keep it? The truth is that I’m pretty bad at it. Monday’s declaration to eat healthy and work out for the week would usually end with Friday’s acknowledgement of two days at the gym while I patiently wait for the delivery guy to show up with my pie.

My neighborhood in Richmond, Virginia.

 

No alcohol. Maybe I could do this too. I considered my lifestyle. It wasn’t that I drank every night or that I felt like my drinking had become a problem, but alcohol was always an option. It didn’t always have to be a blurry night of shots and dancing. Disclaimer; those are always super fun. It could just be a glass of wine at dinner or an invitation to happy hour with a group of professionals. Why say no if you don’t have to, right? This wasn’t about depriving myself of something that I felt like I needed. It was about having a goal, defining a period of time, challenging myself and seeing it through. Three months seemed like a bit of a stretch though. (I’m a realist.) I settled on 30 days of no alcohol.

I’m not going to bore you with my own version of the blogs that we’ve all read before – “I stopped drinking alcohol and this is what happened”. Instead, I am just going to give it to you straight. After just two weeks, my skin was glowing, I was sleeping soundly through the night, I had tons of energy during the day, I was feeling svelte in my clothes and I was super focused.

I think the most difficult thing to convey is the comparison of one’s state of mind when alcohol is removed from the equation. I wasn’t an unhappy person before this experiment began, but boy was I feeling on top of the world these days! I always considered myself to be hyper aware of my surroundings, tapping into my natural intuition and easily navigating through intense social situations or conflicts at work. The sober me felt like a superhero! My senses were heightened, my instincts were sharper and finding resolution to conflicts was a walk in the park. Everything was so much clearer! Had I been living in a permanent fog before?

 

Perhaps the biggest take-away was realizing that the very “medicine” that I had used to cope with my anxiety was in fact causing my anxiety or at the very least, making it much worse. Years of suffering with waves of anxiety were often treated with alcohol. Feeling down? Have a drink. Stressed out with work? Have a drink. It’s no secret that this method only offers temporary relief and often makes the symptoms worse the following day. These feelings didn’t stop from surfacing completely, but committing to no alcohol forced me to actually process what was making me anxious and get over it, rather than drowning my feelings out with a swift tilt of a glass. I was resolving my own problems! Simply put, you don’t need alcohol to cope when there’s nothing with which to cope.

My notes from a transformation class I took earlier this year.

As the holidays approach, we are faced with over indulgence and temptation, only to be met with the idea of resolutions and the promise of a new year. We tell ourselves that we’re going to be different. That, this year we’re going to change. I’m going to work out every day. I’m going to eat salads for the next six months. I’m only going to drink on the weekends. These goals that we set for ourselves aren’t always in line with our lifestyles and are often laced with the unrealistic staples of perfection that would be difficult for anyone to attain. It lasts for a little while, but we give up pretty easily. Then, we so effortlessly slip back into the lifestyles that make us comfortable. We make excuses for ourselves so that we don’t have to be accountable. I don’t have time to go to the gym today. Only 20 minutes for lunch, so it will have to be the drive-thru. I was so stressed with work, happy hour turned into ‘last call’. We do this because we need to feel okay about letting ourselves down.

 

 

Fulfilling my 30 day commitment to not drink alcohol didn’t result in a major lifestyle change and it didn’t magically turn me into a demi-god, but it taught me some fundamental things that can translate to my day-to-day life. I can make a commitment to myself. I value myself enough to see it through. I’m worth it and I can be proud of my accomplishment. If we are culturally predisposed to a cycle of over indulgence and setting unrealistic goals that lead to lies to justify our failures – all just so that we can feel okay – I think it’s paramount to tell you that the benefits of fulfilling this small commitment to myself have made me feel so much better than just okay.

 

 

As we reflect on this year and enter into a new, let’s take a hard look at what we’re really committed to. Are we really committed to the betterment of ourselves? Or are we simply committed to being noncommittal? In this new year, let’s set realistic goals for ourselves. Let’s love ourselves enough to follow through. Let’s compare all of the major personal gains to the small sacrifice that we’ve made. Let’s challenge ourselves to be committed to commitment.

Jo-Elsa Jordan

 

Date Smoothie

Most everyone who reads my blog knows I drink a green smoothie every single morning. Aubrey and I share one and it’s just part of our morning routine. Lately I have been wanting to mix it up and I found the perfect solution in this Date Smoothie from Food52 and AGIRLANDAPIG.

Photo: JAMES RANSOM

 

Sidenote: Food52 is a beautiful, informative, inspiring website you definitely need to add into your rotation. You’re welcome.

I always have everything to make this smoothie and it’s obviously quick, DELICIOUS, and perfect for breakfast, the dreaded 3pm slump and even dessert!

All you need is your preferred non dairy milk, dates, a frozen banana, cinnamon and vanilla. Get the full recipe here.

As the crazy wonderful holiday season approaches, lighten up with this date smoothie in place of a meal or as a healthy snack.

xx.

rachel signature

 

Guest Post on KETO

I was turned on to the keto diet by a short fling, whom I noticed was having weight loss results. When I started noticing my own results, my interest was sustained long past the fling itself.

If you had told me that one day I would find an effective diet where pork rinds and heavy whipping cream were my BFFs, well, you know… I still have trouble believing it.

So, what exactly is the ketogenic diet?

Basically, it is a high fat (>100g per day), medium protein (about 60 to 75g per day), low carb diet (<15-20 g per day). Totally counterintuitive, right? (based on a 1500 calorie diet)

To get started, you deprive yourself of sugar, carbs, and starches.

All carbs, starches, and sugars are processed in your body as sugar. And our bodies are used to using sugar for fuel. When you deprive your body of sugar (and get past the carb withdrawals) your body is forced to convert to burning fat for energy. This is called being in ketosis. You can even buy strips to test your urine, that will tell you whether or not you’re in ketosis!

While your body is converting from burning sugar to burning fat, you will go through “carb withdrawals” or “keto flu,” which can be rather uncomfortable. But once you get through it the results are awesome.

There are definitely times in the journey where you will plateau. That is when it is helpful to try some intermittent fasting or reset your metabolism by briefly reintroducing carbs. Sometimes the scale lies and you only think you’ve plateaued. This is why it is helpful to measure yourself (arms, legs, waist, neck). Often the scale’s number doesn’t go down, but your measurements do! (I recommend buying myotape for measuring yourself)

It is also important to keep track of your “macros” while you are on keto. I recommend using MyFitnessPal to document what you’re eating, so you can make sure that you aren’t going over on your carbs. Remember, there are hidden carbs in a lot of food. Also, you want to watch your protein, because if you eat too much, your body will process it like sugar, which will then kick you out of ketosis.

Once I got in to ketosis I completely stopped craving sugar and carbs (which was the first time in my life I could say that), and I had tons of energy and an improvement in mood.

Not to mention it really simplified my life because I didn’t have to think too hard about what I was going to eat. I lost weight, and I physically felt better. I also started getting compliments on my complexion, people told me I was “glowing.”

Also, the more infatuated I become with this lifestyle, the more I am learning about the keto diet’s ability to prevent (or maybe even reverse) diabetes, certain kinds of cancer, and other chronic physical health conditions, especially in combination with intermittent fasting. If you’re interested in intermittent fasting, check out Dr. Jason Fung.

Even though it simplified my grocery shopping and meal choices, there are tons of fun and delicious keto recipes to try. My favorite is keto lasagna (made with zucchini instead of noodles) and low carb high fat pound cake (the sugar substitute I use is Pyure, which you can find at Walmart or Amazon. Whatever amount of sugar the recipe calls for, you just use half Pyure instead).

If you want a nice treat from Starbucks, order an iced Americano with heavy whipping cream and a couple pumps of sugar free vanilla!

I’m definitely not an expert, but I do think this diet is beneficial, especially for those who have a lot of weight to lose. It seems that what’s wrong with our health and our diets is all the sugar and carbs we are eating. It’ll be interesting to see, as more people exclude or minimize those aspects of their diet, if there will be an improvement in our general well-being. A lot of people are turning their lives around with keto, and there are plenty of keto forums on Facebook you can join and get constant support on this journey, as well as feel inspired daily by other people’s astounding results.

If you’re interested in giving keto a shot, in addition to joining Facebook forums, you can check out this keto start guide, which also includes tips on make it through the dreaded “keto flu”: https://www.tasteaholics.com/the-complete-keto-diet-guide-for-beginners/

Thanks for reading!

Melissa

Links:

Ketone Test Strips

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MCU8NJ6/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&th=1

Myotape: https://www.amazon.com/Measure-Measuring-Myotape-Shipping-Worldwide/dp/B00FYTOFDA/ref=sr_1_8_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1507859536&sr=8-8&keywords=myotape

Keto Lasagna:

https://ketogasm.com/keto-lasagna-zucchini-recipe/

LCHF Pound Cake:
https://fittoservegroup.com/2014/08/01/low-carb-cream-cheese-pound-cake

 

A Day in the Life of…

I was introduced to Mary through a mutual friend and it literally blows my mind how much she fits into one, single day. I can’t believe she found the time to write this piece for BEC but I sure am glad she did. She works hard, works out, STANDS at her desk, and is an inspirational clean eater! Enjoy a glimpse into the life of this busy Richmond corporate professional and fitness trainer.



On a typical weekday, I wake up around 6:30am to Pandora Radio (usually Fleetwood Mac, Phil Collins, Ryan Adams, or Pete Yorn…something mellow). I boil water to make hot water with lemon and use the rest to fill three stainless steel water bottles for the day. I go back to my room, make my bed and read a scripture for the day from a bookmark I bought in a church bookstore years ago called 31 Days to Praise.

I shower, pack my gym clothes, and pack all my meals for the day (except dinner). I try to pick out recipes I want for the following week, then order groceries for pick up through Kroger Clicklist on Friday and Saturday. I pick up specialty items and refill 3 gallon bottles of reverse osmosis water weekly at Ellwood Thompsons. I have a shelf of cookbooks (my favorite chef is Katie Lee) and I’m also a Tone it Up Nutrition plan member and use a lot of their recipes. I cook one main dish per week and try to prep other things like overnight oats or muffins on the weekend. My freezer is full of frozen soup, veggies, bread, and fruit for smoothies.

I usually pick out a thought leader to listen to on YouTube while I’m getting ready. My favorites are: Chase Jarvis, Marie Forleo, Lewis Howes, Tim Ferris, or Tony Robbins. I’m a Tone it Up Girl, so I’ll also watch fitness videos on their new app or in the past any interviews they would post on YouTube. I follow the Jillian Michael’s podcast religiously and also listen to one book on Audible every month (typically a biography). Saturday mornings I like to listen to 70s and 80s playlists on Spotify before I leave to teach yoga at 10:30am.

I work 9-5 as an Administrative Assistant at SunTrust Mortgage for the Condo and Appraisal groups. I have a VARI Desk at work and an Eron Chair. I’m over sitting after about 20-30 minutes, so I stand for most of the day. During my break, I go into the wellness room and either work on my group exercise classes, do yoga, Pilates, or a HIIT workout, or lift weights. I have a Woss suspension trainer ($30 version of a TRX) that I keep with me at work along with a yoga mat, free weights, and a lacrosse ball to work out muscle tension. I try to move and stretch as much as I can at my desk while I’m standing. I also listen to a lot of Spotify while I’m working, looking for music for my classes.

Sometimes I’ll eat breakfast at home, but if I’m not hungry yet, I’ll bring it to work. My typical breakfast is overnight oats made with Tone IT Up protein, and fruit (berries or pomegranate). Lunch is often soup and salad. This week I cooked Alicia Silverstone’s sweet potato and lentil soup from her cookbook The Kind Diet. I’ve been into making salads with red and green leaf lettuces for months now. I buy 3-4 heads of lettuce per week and they stay fresh if wrapped in a few paper towels (the non-chlorine bleached ones). I pack olive oil with sea salt and fresh ground pepper and a separate slice of lemon to mix for dressing at lunch. With lunch this week I also had a few slices of Cabot cheddar cheese and some Ciabatta bread from Ellwood Thompson’s warmed up with Earth Balance.

I have a snack around 3pm. I’ve been eating an organic apple in the afternoon since I started shopping at health food stores back in college. Organic apples taste so good that it’s easy to eat one every day. The rest of my snack this week was PaleoKrunch Cinnamon granola (my favorite) and a few tablespoons of almond butter.

On Mondays after work I go to Advanced Wellness Center for a one hour personal training session with a strength and conditioning coach. My workouts include exercises like deadlifts and bench press with heavier weight and my trainer is teaching me some Olympic lifts. This habit makes me feel good about Mondays, challenges me and builds into my life. Tuesday through Thursdays I go straight from work to Crunch gym where I’ll fit in 30 minutes of cardio on the elliptical trainer before teaching classes. I’ll have protein bar in between: usually Go Macro, Squared, Greens, or Tone it Up and some water. Tuesday nights I teach a 30 minute TRX, then a one hour Yoga Body Sculpt.

My yoga classes are a combination of Pilates, vinyasa yoga and fitness, with 10 minutes of relaxation at the end for rest, additional stretching, or a seated meditation. Wednesday nights I teach Barre Boot camp (a pairing of barre exercises and traditional free weight exercises) then Iron Mat (mat Pilates and Pilates free weight exercises). Thursday nights I teach another Yoga Body Sculpt class. I get home around 9pm which is kind of late for dinner, so I’ll make a smoothie during the week. This week’s was avocado, frozen banana, organic mixed power greens, Tone it Up vanilla protein powder and almond milk. Last week’s was: frozen cauliflower, frozen banana, almond butter, vanilla protein powder and almond milk.

I have a major sweet tooth, so I’ll usually pack some dark chocolate, crystallized ginger or a section of a Lenny and Larry’s protein cookie with my meals during the day. If I don’t, I’ll usually have something like that after dinner with some Synergy kombucha tea. My two addictions are Lenny and Larry’s chocolate protein cookies and Synergy Kombuchas.

My current focus is completing a BASI Pilates Comprehensive Teacher Training Course. I’ve travelled up to Balanced Bodies, a studio in Herdon, VA for 3 out of the 4 weekends, then will complete 500 hours (divided between observation, practice teaching, and self-practice) through an apprenticeship this Spring. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for over 10 years, and a key to directing my life and career. I’ll take the teaching evaluation and practical exam next July in Chicago.






Don’t you love peeking into someone else’s day, habits, and goals? I DO! Mary, thank you so much for sharing your life with us. Good luck with your Pilates Training course! And if you live in the Richmond area go take a class with her; your body will hate/thank/love you!

xRachel

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