Archive of ‘health & wellness’ category

Mile A Day December

I have learned something about myself this year: I do not exercise on my own unless I have a race I paid for, a gym membership I am paying for, or a tangible goal that I have told a lot of people about. Basically, if my money or my pride are involved, I workout.

After I ran a marathon in January, I decided to give myself a two-week hiatus and then continue running to maintain my mileage up to at least five to six miles. Nothing too intense, but still a solid hour of running. Well it was cold in February and I got lazy in March and since I didn’t have to, I maxed out to three miles at a time and lost the long-distance endurance I had built.

And that’s ok — I gave myself grace. Afterall, I did run a marathon.

But slowly I’ve gotten out of the habit. I still exercise some, taking Leia for walks and running two miles or so, but it’s inconsistent and I am tired of making excuses, especially now that it’s darker and colder.

So here’s a specific tangible goal I’m sharing on here for December, in hopes that if I publicly announce it, I will do it. :) I will keep it small and manageable, because December has a way of getting really intense really fast, and leave the big goals for where they belong (the new year!).

Mile a day

The Rules:
Walk/run for one mile every day in the month of December. Whether it’s walking one mile on your lunch break, or a record-mile run, the point is to get out and move for a mile.

Why December?
Why not December?
- It’s the darkest month of the year, so all of us are Vitamin-D deficient. Getting outside for 10-20 minutes will give much-needed Vitamin D to your body.
- It’s the busiest month of the year, so taking a short time of your day to walk will relieve stress and help collect your thoughts.
- You eat the most unhealthy in December, and studies show that those who exercise even a short period of time each day are more conscious about what they eat than those who don’t. (I’m too lazy to look up the studies, but I think I’ve read at least one once a season in Shape magazine for the last ten years.)

Want to join me?
Yay! Use the hashtag #mileaday if you want to participate via social media. (Update: I just saw that Elise had the same goal! So we’ll all be doing it together.:)

What motivates you to work out? 



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My Standing Desk

One of the things that really surprised me when I entered the working world is how sedentary it is. After years of walking to and from my classes in college, it was a big adjustment to sit in front of a computer for 8+ hours of the day and then come home at the end of it exhausted… only to sit in front of the TV for the remainder of the evening.

There are hundreds of articles out there talking about the benefits of getting up and moving throughout the workday and the benefits of stand up desks — it increases your metabolism, improves your posture, and reduces the health risks of sitting for long periods of time.

Last November I converted to a stand up desk, and absolutely love it. A coworker of mine had one, so I decided to try it out and see if it improved my health and energy.

Would you like a peak into my office to see it? Of course you do. :)

Stand Up Desk

My “standing desk” is really just a simple desk shelf that I keep my mouse, keyboard and notepad on. I like that it’s easy to convert back to a sitting desk without changing the furniture drastically (like a lot of standing desks out there). I don’t think standing desks are for everyone, either because your work environment doesn’t allow it (aka: this would be awkward in a cubicle), or because you can’t be on your feet for long periods of time, but for me it has definitely helped, and I don’t plan on ever going back to a sitting desk.

Here are a few FAQ when I tell people I have a standing desk:

Did it take a while to get used to?
It took me about a week for my body to get used to. The first few days I came home feeling exhausted, like I do after spending a long afternoon of shopping. But by the end of the week, I noticed I had a lot more energy throughout the day, and didn’t even notice pain in my feet or back.

Does your back or your feet hurt at the end of the day?
Honestly, not at all. I’m technically not standing the whole day, but leaning against my desk and occasionally I’ll rest my foot on my chair to help transfer the weight from my feet. That has a lot less impact on my body than just freely standing.

Do you wear heels? 
I work in a corporate office setting, so I try to wear heels at least two or three times a week, and flats the other days. All of my heels are pretty comfortable (that’s one thing I don’t mind spending more money on), so it doesn’t bother me too much standing in them. However, it does start to weigh on your calves by the end of the day, so I keep a pair of cheap black flats under my desk as back-up and slip on my heels when I walk around the office. So far, so good!

Have you seen an improvement in your health?
I have! This was unexpected, but I’ve seen a lot of improvement in my digestive health. For the past few years, I have experienced stomach aches later in the day (read more on that here), and I really think part of the problem was eating lunch fast and then immediately sitting for the rest of the afternoon. Now that I stand, my food seems to digest easier and I have fewer stomach aches. I have also noticed my core and posture are improved.

Do you ever sit?
I sit when I am reading or editing, but try to stand whenever I use the computer. I have at least one or two meetings a day, which are all sitting around conference rooms, so I have a few breaks from standing.

What is your favorite thing about it?
I love that when I come home at the end of the day, I don’t feel guilty relaxing on the couch and putting my feet up.

Have you ever considered a standing desk?
Do you have this option at your office?
What other questions do you have? :)

PS – You may or may not find me occasionally in the tree pose behind my desk. ;)

Update: I asked my office manager and I am using the Safco Heavy Duty Desk Shelf, for those curious.



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My April Goal: No Processed Food

I only have one goal this month:*

DON’T EAT ANY PROCESSED FOOD.
If it comes out of a bag, box or wrapper, it’s off limits.

No Processed Food Diet

It’s been a long time since I’ve shared much about diet or fitness… which means I haven’t been doing either very well. Because when you’re on a diet, it’s hard to keep quiet. You want other people to know the agony you’re going through. :)

January and February were very disciplined months for me and I felt really good. Looking back it’s a shame it was winter because my legs and arms were more toned then than they have been in years. I had just trained (and ran) a marathon, and was eating a very strict diet to determine any food allergies.

I almost wish the outcome of my fodmaps diet was a severe allergy to all bad foods. Perhaps that would give me incentive to avoid them all together, but seeing as my nutritionist lightly recommended I avoid high fructose corn syrup and gluten and everything else in moderation, I took her recommendation loosely. Between eating too many cadbury eggs and not running my normal 50 miles per week (which, by the way, was crazytown), it’s no surprise that I’ve gained a good 3 to 5 pounds in the past month. And to some of you 5 pounds is not a big deal, but to my 5’3″ frame, it feels like a lot and I am curbing these pounds before that number grows.

So that brings me to my month’s challenge! I am getting back on track by eliminating all processed foods. It’s not going cold turkey because if I want to have sweets, I still can, so long as I bake them from scratch. But no more jelly beans sitting in little dishes around the house or casually picking up caramel cremes in my office break room on my way back from the bathroom. I better not do any unwrapping or eating from a box this month.

I am not going to omit dining out altogether, especially since we will be celebrating our anniversary in a week, but I am going to try and make wise decisions when I do. I want all these pounds off by Memorial Day. More and sooner would be nice, but I’ll take maintaining where I was a month and a half ago fine for now.

As for my fitness goals… I’m not there yet. I am still doing yoga and running a few miles a week, and I dusted off my free-weights to help tone up my arms. But I’m not ready to create any specific fitness goals, and I kind of like it that way. That six-month marathon training really took a mental toll on me, and for now it’s nice just working out when I feel like it and not having the pressure of a schedule dictating me. But we will see how this month’s eating plan goes and see if I need to kick up my fitness up a notch.

There you go! My one and only goal this month.*
How are you doing on your new year resolutions?
Anyone else struggling with their weight?

If you have monthly goals and want to link up, feel free:MyMonthlyGoals

*PS – Actually, I have a lot of goals this month, but most of them have already been mentioned on my spring bucket list (celebrate our anniversary, spend every moment outside, etc.) and the others are basic monthlies (try a new restaurant, stay under budget, cook more, read a book, etc.).

(photo credit)



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Fodmaps Diet Results

my nutrition journey

Guess what! I’m done dieting!

Ron Eating Food Gif

I know. It’s exciting!

Like I have shared before, a few months ago I decided to see a nutritionist for a few digestive issues I was dealing with, and she put me on a Fodmaps diet. Fodmaps are trigger foods that can affect your digestive system negatively. There are five different Fodmaps groups:

The Fodmaps Diet

Basically I couldn’t have bread, lactose, beans specific fruits and vegetables, and anything with high fructose corn syrup. For two weeks I had to eliminate all Fodmaps from my diet; here is an example of what I ate during that time. After the two weeks, my nutritionist gave me a plan for testing which Fodmaps gave me the most trouble. This is what the next month looked like:

Lactose Challenge:
Day 1: Small portion of lactose, including milk, yogurt, cheese
Day 2: Larger portion
Results: I felt fine after both days!

Three days back to the elimination diet.

Fructans Challenge:
Day 1: Small portion of fructans, including bread, onions, garlic
Day 2: Larger portion
Results: Felt fine the first day, didn’t feel great on the second day.

Three days back to the elimination diet.

Excess Fructose Challenge:
Day 1: Small portion of fructose, including apple, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, etc.
Day 2: Larger portion
Results: Didn’t feel great at all; had an immediate reaction both days.

Three days back to the elimination diet.

Polyols Challenge:
Day 1: Small portions of polyols, including artificial sweeteners, sugar-free candy, fruit
Day 2: Larger portion
Results: Didn’t feel great, but no major symptoms.

Three days back to the elimination diet.

Galactans Challenge:
Day 1: Small portions of galactans, including beans and hummus
Day 2: Larger portion
Results: Felt fine!

Three days back to the elimination diet, and go see the nutritionist to discuss the results.

Every day I had to write down everything I ate and closely monitor how I felt. It was very time consuming, but definitely necessarily to pin-point which area was giving me the most reaction.

I met with my nutritionist again and the verdict is:
My body has an adverse reaction to Fructose, Polyols and a mild case of Fructans.

All this really means is that I should avoid high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and healthy breads (such as rye, bran, and whole wheat since they are high in fructans).

So that’s where I am now! It was so nice to go back to normal and eat without constantly thinking of all the eliments behind it, and I have been able to tell a difference in my body.

My next challenge is to try and get 25-35 grams of fiber in my diet every day naturally (aka: without supplements). Do you know how hard it is to get that high without eating bran? I’m getting creative, though, so as soon as get in a good rhythm with this new eating plan, I’ll be sure to let you guys know an average week’s meal plan. :)

What about you guys? I got a few readers say they had tried this diet or the paleo diet — how has this helped your health? Do you have any food sensitivities? I’d love to hear stories!

PS – I don’t recommend anyone to test this diet without consulting a nutritionist or doctor. This is merely the plan that I was put on!

What do you like about yourself?

You are beautiful

When it comes to our appearances, no one thinks less of yourself than you do. We immediately pin-points our flaws and make lists of things we’d want to change. My nose is too big, I’m too short. I’m too tall. My skin is too oily. My hips are too big. My thighs are too big. My neck is too long, etc., etc.

The prime, sad example is Heidi Montag when she underwent crazy surgeries to alter her body. Why would someone so naturally beautiful want to change? She was adorable, and someone I would want to look like. Now she just looks sickly and sad. God has made each of us unique, and I think He is grieved when we look at His creation and say I don’t like it. 

So I thought today we could talk about what we do like! The things that you love about yourself, that makes you feel beautiful and special.

I’ll go first:
I like my hair color. It is a rich brown that gets natural highlights in the summer and has a red tint to it in the winter. I have wanted to dye it before, mainly because it’s popular, but have always decided against it because I like it just fine the way it is. (Also it saves me hundreds of dollars a year maintaining the color, an added bonus.;)

Now it’s your turn:
What do you like about yourself? What is your favorite feature? If you have a hard time thinking up something, what do most people compliment you on? Maybe you like being tall, or you have pretty blue eyes. Maybe you have great freckles or you tan easily. Maybe you have a high metabolism or have really strong, healthy finger nails.

Whatever it is, leave a comment and share it! (And try, if you can, not to use the word “but” or have any exceptions or say anything self-deprecating. It’s harder than you think.:)

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14

(Photo is from Pinterest. Contact me if you know the original source!)

The Charleston Marathon

Y’all, I did it. I finished the Charleston marathon. I didn’t run very fast, and it took me waaaay longer than I thought it would (over five hours in case you’re wondering), but! it is done, and I did it. I will spare you the boring details of recapping every minute of the race, but let me just share some of the highlights. There are three.

The first 14 miles
The first half was fantastic. It was chilly, sunny, and we ran through the most beautiful parts of Charleston. We ran along the Battery, up King Street, and beside the water. Allison took this picture on mile 6 and we were all smiles at that point.

Allison was pacing a little faster, so we separated from her about mile 10 and Christen and I continued to run at a slower pace. I was feeling up for multitasking, so I took a few of these pics on a pedestrian bridge at one point. It was the perfect running day.

Miles 16, 18 and 22:
Throughout the race, people were scattered in different neighborhoods to cheer the runners on, and I heard a loud bunch coming up at about mile 16. Yay, I thought, I need some encouragement about now.

As Christen and I approached, the group got louder. I thought maybe there was someone behind me that the group knew, when I realized it was me they were shouting for. I saw my little sister first, and then my older sister, and then my mom, (mom!!) and then my dad, and then J with Leia, and then Andrew, my brother in law. What! What were they doing there! They all had signs and were cheering and I stopped for an instant to give everyone a little hug. I started tearing up — I couldn’t believe they spent hours in the car just to watch me run. It was too much.

I saw them again at mile 18, and then again at 22, the best parts of those hours. The last hour was hard. Really, really hard. My ankle started hurting me about two hours in, and every time I stopped to get a drink of water, it was torture starting up my jog again. Christen and I walked a little bit in the last few miles and tried our best to encourage each other. We were so close.

The finish line:
The last mile felt like it was five miles long. We finally reached a stretch of road with volunteers and they told us the end was near — 26 was right around the corner. We picked up our speed and finally passed mile 26. People cheered that there were just two more corners and the finish line was close. We ran faster and saw the white banner a few yards away. I saw everyone I love at the finish line and ran fast. I crossed it, cheering, and nearly collapsed into my mom’s arms, overcome with exhaustion and relief and happiness.

We hung around to take pictures and celebrate with the greatest cheerleaders. We reluctantly said goodbye to my family, who headed back to NC that afternoon. I am still in shock and awe that they came so far, just to see me run. It meant so much. The rest of us walked limped to the car, picked up some pizzas on our way back to Folly Beach, and ate as much as our hearts desired.

It was one of the hardest and happiest days of my life, and one I will never forget.



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