Sunday, November 16, 2014

How I Got Started

Many of you have asked how I got started (and I've actually shared this story on the fabulous blog, Wellness Witness) and I wanted to share, in a very condensed version, on how I decide enough was enough.
The picture on the left is from October 2012 and on the right is April 2014

Since I can remember, I've been overweight and self conscious.  I've always been athletic and loved all things outdoors, but I let my weight get in the way of living my life!  I gained 60 pounds in my 4 years of college.  When I got engaged, I crash dieted and lost that weight for my wedding.  Guess what happened soon after I got married? I gained back that weight and THEN SOME in less that 3 years. I knew that I had to lose weight by eating right and exercising, but it took me many years to get in the right mind set.  I tried every fad diet, pill, and even more extreme ways to try to lose the weight.  It didn't work for me.  My body was ready to lose the weight, but my mind was not ready.  It's a VERY mental process.

After my grandpa died 2 years ago, I heard Jesus speak to me.  People always say that "I found Jesus, but really... Jesus found me (well He was always there, I just needed to listen).  He saw that I was hurting in all aspects of my life (physical, spiritual, mental) and called out to me.  I started going back to church and praying regularly. This is when my life started to just fall into place.  He was showing me THE way and I was going to start doing the work (thank you to my friend Deanna who said that so perfectly).

My whole perspective on life changed and I wanted to be better in all aspects. I knew that my body needed a whole overhaul.  I had bad acne, headaches, stomach issues, back problems, and knee issues. As I was researching online about how to clear acne without antibiotics, I noticed that many sites recommended eliminating certain foods from your diet.  The first suggestion was dairy, sugar and gluten.  I eliminated dairy and immediately my face got better! WHAT?  Food can help my face?  I wonder what in the world else food can do for me.  This started my search on what was ACTUALLY in my food.  Whoa. I was shocked!  I read many articles, blogs, websites, and books.  I researched food and preservatives.  I was appalled! I don't recommend you do this though. It was a *little* overwhelming. Just take baby steps and you'll be fine. HA! {Look at #6 on this list for ideas on websites/articles to read}
*What I learned was that all of my issues with my body could be helped (if not completely healed) by FOOD.  It really does start with food.

This is when my husband and I started to make small changes in our diet to move more towards whole food eating...or like I call it, clean eating.  You can read more about my journey with clean eating {here}.

I saw huge changes just by eliminating dairy and gluten (and we stopped drinking soda).  My stomach wasn't upset all of the time and my acne started to clear up (with a huge help from a holistic skincare regimen).  ALSO, I started to lose weight each week. I started to eat even more clean (no preservatives and lots of fruits/veggies/meat/nuts/seeds).  But I don't shun any food really. I'm not the food police.  I still enjoy a good piece of pizza and cupcake once in a while. I try to just fuel my body with the best food possible without feeling deprived (I make a lot of food swaps- spaghetti squash instead of noodles, etc.).  I was very consistent in my weight loss and it seemed to fall off.  I wasn't really working out too much.

When I lost about 50 pounds, I started to workout with an amazing trainer.  Soon after, she moved and I was left alone.  Luckily, I found Jazzercise!  It's the BEST and recommend it for everyone!   I also lift heavy weights in the gym.  Strength training has really changed my body. I have also started at Orange Theory Fitness.  I love working out now...and believe me,  it's not always been like that.  I used to loathe working out. It also helps that I have many friends and family members who are on this journey with me. I couldn't do it without them.

I've lost over 100 pounds in 2 years. Losing weight is hard.  But you know what else is hard? It's hard to be obese, out of breath, depressed, achy, sleepless, and angry. I choose to live a healthy lifestyle because I want to live a long time.  I want to take care of this body and mind that the Lord has so graciously given me. It's been a hard road, but a road that I will keep trudging on!

My tips for you:
Love your body at every size
Take steps towards eating more whole foods and less processed 
Don't weigh yourself more than once a week (or even at all)
Set SMALL goals (my first goal was to not wear an XXL anymore)
Ask for help (get a trainer and/or nutritionist)
Surround yourself with supporters (I have the best family and cheerleading squad...aka best friends)
Pray and ask for His guidance
Read the book, "It Starts With Food"
Believe in yourself

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Food Judging

A lot of "clean eaters" get pegged as judging others for their food choices. Just like a lot of macro counters get pegged as Pop-Tart addicts.  In my case, there's no judging going on.  I've researched for years with reading, eating, studying... and I've found food that makes ME feel good (not just psychologically, but physically too).  Let me emphasize the fact that I've researched this for ME. I put whole foods in my cupboards because it's what makes ME feel good when I eat it.  Because it works for Rachelle doesn't mean it works for you.  I share my love for clean eating because that's what I know how to do. It doesn't mean you have to do it. There are a lot of ways to get healthy and even more ways to lose weight. Find what works for you. YAY, you!

I don't care if you have Ding-Dongs in your cupboards.  Actually, I might just be a little jealous. ;)
I hear this a lot "Oh you would just die if you saw what was in my pantry!"  Would I really die? Probably not.  I really wouldn't care at all.  You're an adult and you can eat whatever you want.  Unless you ask me my opinion and you want me to come and look through your pantry, then I don't really care what you have in there.  Maybe you have some candy and cereal?  Cool beans.

I am not an eating robot and I truly don't believe that clean eating means that I'm supposed to eat whole foods 100% of the time and therefore be "perfect" in my eating choices. There are foods that are nutrient dense and not nutrient dense. There are foods that are processed and not processed. There are not perfect foods.  I do eat a lot of fresh veggies, fruit, meat, eggs, nuts, and seeds. I choose to eat this way because it makes me feel soooo good (think: unicorns and rainbows).  But I also eat cheesecake and have a Reese's Peanut Butter Egg that is the size of my head sometimes. It doesn't make me a hypocrite, it makes me a human.

Let me tell you a little story about one of my sweet friends (name has been excluded to protect the guilty- hahaha)!  We hadn't seen each other in months and we were meeting at the airport.  We saw each other and hugged! I was so excited to see her.  Before even saying hello to me, she just said "Don't judge me, but I have Cheez-Its in my carry-on"!  This brings me to my last point:

In conclusion, I want you to be healthy.  Get there how you want to. I chose clean eating because it works for me. I'll share my clean eating ideas with you because that's what I know about. This doesn't mean I believe it is for everyone. It's not. But it's helped me lose over 100 pounds, cured my acne, eliminated my depression/anxiety, sleep better, and so much more.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

My Life-Changing 30 Days

Many of you know that I did the Whole30 challenge.  It was pretty awesome and today I'm sharing what happened.  Will I tell you how much weight I lost?... no.  I didn't do it to lose weight and you shouldn't either.  It's about changing your life and getting healthier by starting with food.  Losing weight is an added benefit of eating whole foods!

I seriously slept like a baby.  I mean, I’ve always been a good sleeper (not as good as my husband- who I’m sure could sleep through a major earthquake).  But this was different.  I would get tired at 9:00pm sharp and as soon as my head hit the pillow, I was LIGHTS OUT.  I slept from 9:00pm and sometimes I would wake up without my alarm in the morning!  I was just ready to wake up because my body said so.  Which leads me to my next point…

Waking Up:
I woke up a lot easier in the morning.  I felt rested and ready for my morning workout or to get ready for the day. I was always SO hungry when I woke up (the book says that when your hormones are regulated, you SHOULD feel hungry when you wake up). Being hungry when I woke up really got me out of bed a lot faster.  I used to never be hungry for breakfast and I used to drink a protein shake instead of eating. Yuck.  On Whole30, I ate breakfast at the kitchen table every morning and loved having that food as my fuel for my morning of teaching 1st graders.

During the day I had a serious truck-load of energy. This is by far one of the BEST things about Whole30.  I honestly couldn’t believe it.  Sometimes I felt a euphoria-like high. That’s how good I felt. My mind was never fuzzy or forgetful and I could see SO clearly.  I felt like I was riding a unicorn every day. Through rainbows. With angels singing. And glitter...lots of glitter.  I was able to teach my 1st graders all day and head to the gym at night.  Oftentimes, I would go to the gym at 5:00am, teach all day, and go to Jazzercise that night.  I know not everyone has the luxury of going to the gym whenever they want, but hey….I’m taking advantage of that while I can!

This is a FIRST time for me.  My whole system was free and clear and I was as regular as regular could be (do you know what I’m talking about or must I say it….POOP).  IT was the BEST feeling. I know…it’s TMI. But it’s important to me because I probably went to the bathroom once a week before Whole30 and I even took “supplements” to help.  That’s not normal.   I ate ZERO grains on Whole30 and was more regular than I ever have been. Don’t let someone tell you to eat more granola or oatmeal or Fiber One bars to get regular (ain’t nothing regular about what happened after I ate one of those). You can get fiber in fruits and veggies!  And plenty of it… especially when there’s no grains to clog you up. Ok, I’m done. It’s getting too visual in here. ;)

No Food Guilt:
It was lovely to wake up in the morning and feel no guilt for what I ate the night before (I was notorious for binging on even the healthiest of foods).  It was also very nice to eat as much as I wanted!  When you eat the right things and you really listen to your body, you won’t over-eat. I didn’t count calories, weigh my food, or even have to worry about my carb intake. Have I cured my food issues? NOPE! I still struggle with food addiction.  It has definitely opened up my eyes to the real struggle I have with food (#thestruggleisreal) and I am more conscious of the WHEN and WHY I eat, instead of just the WHAT.

Slayed the Sugar Dragon:
He’s a fierce SOB.  He comes when you least suspect him.  I had my knife ready to attack and I did!  He never won a battle and I never reached for a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup. Luckily, I never got “carb flu” and started feeling good right away.  My diet was pretty healthy beforehand, but I really needed to fine-tune it.  Before whole30 I was eating a lot of “healthy” foods in excess, craving sugar, and eating SO many grains (allllll the organic tortilla chips in the world).  Once I got rid and detoxed them from my system, I no longer craved them.  It was very strange at the beginning to eat guacamole on my eggs instead of on a tortilla chip.

Sized Down:
I bought my first pair of size 6 shorts this summer...BUT…they were the stretchy kind and they were p-r-e-t-t-y tight.  I have officially moved to a size 6 in all pants/shorts and they are now feeling loose.  I still can’t believe it.  I honestly check the tag on all of my pants and make sure I’m not dreaming.  I’ll be in a size 4 one day.  It’s not really a goal for me, but if it happens I might say HOLY SH*T!  I am now wearing a size small in workout pants and tops.  I had to actually take back the mediums I bought at the mall a few weeks ago.  I was sure a medium would fit, but they were loose right when I put them on at home and ain't nobody doing Jazzercise in pants that fall down. You might get a full moon.  I’ve never been a size small. Not even when I was in elementary school.  My mom called me big boned, but I knew better. ;)

What now?
Binge eat on all the things in the world? Nope. I am currently in the reintroduction phase of Whole30.  My diet is still pretty Whole30 compliant, but now I introduce certain food groups slowly into my diet. It’s up to me to decide if those foods are “worth it” to me to have on occasion.  Let me tell you, legumes are NOT WORTH IT. I felt like CRAP after eating peanut butter on my apple in the morning.  Then, those beans for dinner did a number on my stomach (if ay know what I mean).  It’s just not worth it to me.  After reading “It Starts With Food”, I know what legumes are doing to my stomach and immune system.  See ya later beans…I won’t miss you! As for the rest of the foods that I need to reintroduce…I’m sure there will be some that I’ll have on occasion because they are yummy and “worth it” to me.  Cheese is one of them.  I love me a string cheese and I could eat 10 of them in one sitting (not a good psychological response, I know). So, I’ll see how I feel when I bring dairy back into my diet, but I already know the verdict. I’ll feel like crap. Literally and figuratively.  ;) It also gives me acne, which makes me want to punch a Care Bear.  So, will I have it?  We shall see! And if I do eat it once in a while...oh well! I’m an adult and I make my own decisions and it’s ok. That’s what I’ve learned on Whole30. If I want to eat something, it better be worth it to me.  A piece of candy corn in the office isn’t going to “tempt” me. It ain’t nothing special. I am an adult and a food doesn’t “tempt” me to eat it.  It doesn’t point it’s finger at me and wave me over.  It doesn’t try to seduce me. But, I’m going to eat cake on my birthday and a Reese's on Halloween. I’m going to eat apples...never.  I do what I want because I’m Whole30.

So... you want to know more about what you're eating?  Or maybe you want to figure out those migraines you've been having?  Or tummy aches?

You've got to read the book that goes along with Whole30. It's called "It Starts with Food" and I read it twice in one month.  I still read sections of the book when I need a refresher.

If you're thinking of getting started, I suggest reading this blog post ----> Surviving Whole30 

Ok, now I'm off to "watch" football with my husband!  Have a blessed weekend!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Adult Acne Makes Me Feel Like a Teenager

I'm 27, people...not 14.  So why did I have acne like one?  It was frustrating, embarrassing, and painful. It came on HARD when I was at my heaviest weight...coincidence? I THINK NOT.  It was about my diet and a few other variables.  Nasty food was causing my adult acne.  Is it causing yours?

Sadly this is not the WORST that my face looked.

I tried it all...
*Antibiotics (they worked, but I research just how bad they are for you long-term and it disturbed me )
*Clarisonic Mia
*Clean and Clear

In both of these pictures I ONLY have on mascara. No, I didn't get a face transplant.  I just followed the following 6 tips.

What did I do?

1. Diet
I began to research holistic acne treatments and they ALL said that food can be a huge part of why an adult has acne. I started by cutting out gluten and by limiting grains.  Yup, I jumped on the gluten-free "fad" and I didn't see my skin really clear up as much as I wanted, but I feel SO MUCH BETTER.  I didn't have a stomach ache all of the time and my head wasn't constantly pounding (this could also be from the sugar in the grains). So call it a fad and I'll let you see how awesome I feel and then I'll punch you in the throat. Kidding (not kidding).   Then, I eliminated dairy from my diet and started eating more and more whole foods.  So, I was free of gluten (and most grains), dairy, most sugar, and I ate good  (whole) food. You could say I was starting to eat clean. I saw a HUGE improvement in my skin within 2 weeks and I lost a bunch of weight.  Win-win. I honestly believe the CRAP they put in the food was causing my acne. I have scientific research, but all I need are my before/after pictures. BOOM.

2. Ditch the Dermatologist
*I do not recommend you "ditch" doctors.  I'm just telling you what I did.
I hated my dermatologist.  He would never even "check" my skin out.  He would simply write me a prescription and beg me to take Accutane (which I refused). So, I found a different dermatologist.  And...what do you know? He was the SAME way.  I did not want to take Accutane for many reasons, but mostly because I've known some people very close to me who felt the EFFECTS of Accutane and it was not something I wanted to put my body and mind through (even if it meant I would be acne-free).  So I ditched the dermatologist and researched holistic skincare.  Luckily I found my saving grace, Celeste and Cheryl at Skincare: Holistic Beaty Care. They gave me an organic skincare regimen and I had facials and extractions done every 4-5 weeks (hurt like hell for a bit, but so worth it). Cheryl makes her own organic creams, cleansing washes, and serums.  And they tailor it to YOUR face and YOUR acne issues.  It is a little piece of heaven.  Hopefully Cheryl will start selling her products online soon (I know it's in the works) and will be able to help my friends outside of Utah.

3.  Laundry Detergent
Celeste noticed that I had more acne on my right side and asked what side I sleep on.  DING! DING! It was the same side I sleep on. I got rid of the Tide (with all those chemicals and fragrances-who wants that anyway?) and I switched to ECOS Free and Clear (I hardly use any in the wash at all and I mix it with vinegar) that you can get from Wal-Mart even:

4. No Touchy
My biggest down-fall when helping my skin was constant picking, scratching, and popping.  Ugh. I picked at my pimples non-stop.  I HAD to stop or I would have acne scars all over.  So.... I'm a work in progress, but I know that if I pick my skin, it takes 2 weeks longer for my spot to heal and I'm at risk for scarring. Stop touching your face, people!

5. Makeup
You get what you pay for, my friends.  I finally stopped buying Wal-Mart makeup and splurged on Jane Iredale.  I bought the pressed powder and BB Cream (a little of that goes a long way). It's the most face-friendly clean makeup I've found out there. My face immediately felt better after I switched to her make-up.  Now that I'm free of acne, I hardly use any make-up at all! It's a good feeling.

6. Water
Seriously...hydrate yo self! Stop the soda and juice.  Drink more water than you think is humanly possible.  Drink as much as you can tolerate and then drink some more. YAY!

I feel so much better! My skin is acne-free.  Well, mostly. I still get a pimple here and there (especially when it's that time of the month), but for the most part...I've zapped those zits!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How did I get started?

Read about how I started this journey {here}! I'm sharing my story...and it's a lengthy one. ;)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Round 2 of 3 Weeks No Cheats

I've been in Las Vegas for SDE's National 1st grade conference and for TeachersPayTeachers first seller conference. It was a great week!  The problem was that only steps away from room 46-711 (at the Venetian) was Godiva Damn Chocolate Store.  Seriously, people.  It ruined me (and my stomach)! Did I gain all of my weight back in a week? NO! Did it ruin all of the hard work I've put into my journey? NO! But, I don't feel at my best when I eat like that....  It is time for 3 Weeks No Cheats. (See below)

On a lighter note...look at these CUTE tanks that my sweet friends surprised me with. I just adore Ruffles with Love!  She sent me my very first cute tank top way back in October!

They were so cute to add this on the back. They always say "What Would Rachelle Do?" and have now started using the hashtag "WWRD".  On the back of their tank it says "THINK #WWRD". HA! They are so clever, amazing, wonderful, and completely SUPPORTIVE. Love you, ladies!

Are you ready for the official round 2 of 3 Weeks No Cheats?

Click {here} to download the day check off list. Print it off and put it on your fridge or pantry door.  Mark off each day that you have no cheats! Try to have 21 days in a row. 

So, what is a cheat?  Well great news! It's up to you! 
 I want to challenge myself and see how far I can push myself.  I'm NOT into depriving myself because it leads to binge eating, but for these 21 days...I'll be ok! We will be just fine and you will be surprised how good you feel.  Let's cheer each other on by taking a pictures and posting them on Instagram using #3weeksnocheats

Here are my "cheats":
*sugar (I will allow a protein shake, a protein bar, and ONE serving of almond butter)
*snacking after dinner (only one allowed)

Here is what I'll add:
*workout 6 times a week
*go up in weights at the gym
*go to yoga once a week
*eat a serving (or two) of veggies with 2/3 meals

Monday, June 9, 2014

Tips For Getting Started Eating Clean

Remember this post from a little while back? You can read more on why I believe in clean eating {here}.

Everyone has a different level of "clean".  They *think* what they are eating is clean, but just because it's found on the health food isle, doesn't make it clean.  BUT, any step toward healthy is a good one... so no judgements here.
Clean eating (to me) is pretty much eating as much FRESH food as you can.  It's not a "clean eating diet".  It is how I live my life! I don't really even use the term "clean eating" anymore.  I think of it as NUTRIENT DENSE food.  It fuels me.  I want to put the best kind of food in my body because I only have one body.  If I had continued to eat Cheetos, Lean Cuisines, and candy bars every day like I did 2 years ago... I'm sure I'd be 350 and barely walking/breathing/living.  You have to make a change because it is your life! You want your life to be long so that you can be there for those you love and so that you can live a full, happy life.
With that said... do I still have a Snickers or donuts sometimes... YES! Is it on the daily though.... NO! I eat food that makes me feel good physically and mentally and sometimes a donut helps my mental well-being, but not my physical. I have to weigh the pros and cons for sure. :)

 Here are my top tips for getting started.

Ok, my upper-case letters were a little dramatic.  But...clean eating is all about ingredients.  And really, if it's truly "clean", it has one ingredient.  For instance, when I buy strawberries the only ingredient is strawberries. ;)  I know that's not possible to buy only fruit, veggies, and meat- so let me help you with ingredients.  Read the ingredients and if you can't pronounce them, consider not buying it or finding a different option for it.  Instead of buying spaghetti noodles, we buy spaghetti squash (it's yum!).  You won't want to do this with every little thing in your cupboard because it will be too overwhelming.

How about start with 2 staples that you use every week in your cooking?  Take those two items, read the ingredients and if they have crazy ingredients (can you pronounce them?), search for an alternative to that item.  My husband used to always eat macaroni and cheese as a side.  Holy ingredients list!  Now, he uses Annie's macaroni and cheese and it's delicious (made with mostly organic ingredients and NO artificial coloring).

Find some GREAT ideas here!

2. Clean out your fridge and pantry
This goes along with number 1. You don't have to throw everything away that has a huge ingredient list because remember, we are starting small.  But, I would consider getting rid of a few things at first. We started with canned soups (have you ever read the list on those bad about wordy).  We also got rid of all Crystal Light (so many artificial colors and sweeteners and ZERO nutrition). I know it'll hurt your heart to just throw it away, but just do it.  I threw mine away, went and bought some organic soup and donated those to the food bank because I felt so guilty.  I don't want anyone to have to eat that canned soup. EW. One last thing we got rid of in the beginning was cow's milk. We switched to almond milk and have never looked back! I'm hormone and anti-biotic free because of it. ;)

3. Shop on the perimeters of the grocery store as much as possible
You'll find eggs, cheese, fruits, veggies, and fresh meat there! It's where the cool people are anyway.

4. Plan out your meals!
If you aren't all planned out and you come to a day where you just can't think of anything to cook...guess what will happen? You'll eat out!  So, plan them out and make extra.  Those leftovers are perfect for your lunch the next day. Find out more {here}.

5.  Don't deprive
You can find an alternative to almost all junk food out there!  I used to love eating ice cream, but every time I ate it, I got really sick!  So, once I stopped eating dairy I still craved ice cream.  I started making vegan banana ice cream and I've never craved regular since.  It's all about those lateral shifts! Or maybe I just can't stop thinking about Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.  Well hell...I might just have one.  It's OK once in awhile or maybe I'll make {these}.  But for the ice cream, I'll stay away from it because it doesn't agree with my stomach.

Don't deprive yourself of flavor either! Clean eating isn't just chicken and asparagus. It's all about variations, spices, and color!  Be creative and use Pinterest.

6. Start Researching 
By researching I  Read about food! Read studies, blogs, articles, and books.  You only get ONE body so please TAKE CARE OF IT. Here are my favorite sites for clean eating (Now don't go and read their whole website at once because you will feel overwhelmed and probably cry. I recommend taking it all with a grain of salt. Take it slowly.)

Food Renegade
Whole 9
The Gracious Pantry
He and She Eats Clean
JJ Virgin
Food Inc.

7. Listen to your body
One minute the media will say a certain food is a SUPER FOOD and the next minute you see on the news it's the worst thing you can put into your body (hello, soy?). My advice to this is research AND listen to your body.  How do you feel after eating that certain food? When do you feel the best?

Take baby steps if you feel overwhelmed.  Or dive right in if you are just SICK and TIRED!  :)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Rest Day

What is a rest day?  Well...apparently you should do something other than workout on your rest day!  What? That's crazy talk. What do I do with my hands? ;) I feel like all I do is teach 1st graders, plan meals, workout, and dread taking a shower.  I've neglected other things in my life that I love to do (we'll leave my husband out of this....that's just for us and our therapist--TOTALLY kidding!) like reading, blogging, and crafting.

Guess what? Since today is my official REST DAY, I finished a craft project! YAY! I got the chair for $10 at a yard sale + $4 paint + $3 on fabric= $17 chair!

I also started redecorating one of our our guest bathrooms. It's not 100%, but it's coming together. I pretty much got everything at Target, Pottery Barn (Teen online), and Hobby Lobby. It looks a little empty. I couldn't decide where I wanted the pictures....

So... did you have a "rest day"? What did you do?  Certainly you still ate healthy.  Only one more week left of 3 Weeks No Cheats! We can do it!!!!

Friday, May 16, 2014

3 Weeks NO Cheats!

Are you ready to see just how amazing your body/mind is?  You are capable of SO much!  A great way to test it out is to do this 3 weeks no cheats challenge.  I'm not a "cleanse" kind of girl... And I'm not into depriving myself either. If I'm craving ice cream, I'll make vegan ice cream (frozen banana and almond milk). I have loved to lose weight by eating clean and making it a lifestyle.  But lately I have been what I like to call a "food picker".

I will eat great all day, but there are little glimpses of the day where I will pick at food here and there.  I'll have a bite of my husband's sandwich or sneak a couple Goldfish (YUCK) at snack time with my students.

Each day I've told myself "Self, stop taking little picks here and there" and yet again, I find myself taking one bite of Oreo, 3 chips, and one gulp of juice.  I didn't have a whole Oreo so it doesn't count, right? Oh it does count.  It's manifesting itself on my scale. I'm stuck.  It is so crazy what joining a "challenge" does to help the mental part of weight loss.  It's so motivating!

Are you ready to join me?

Click {here} to download the day check off list. Print it off and put it on your fridge or pantry door.  Mark off each day that you have no cheats! Try to have 21 days in a row. 

So, what is a cheat?  Well great news! It's up to you!  I want to challenge myself and see how far I can push myself. Like I said before, I'm NOT into depriving myself because it leads to binge eating, but for these 21 days...I'll be ok! We will be just fine and you will be surprised how good you feel.  Let's cheer each other on by taking a pictures and posting them on Instagram using #3weeksnocheats

This means that I'll be eating A LOT in order to get in all of my calories (I do not restrict my calories in order to lose weight). When you are eating clean, you can eat A LOT and lose A LOT of weight.  It's all about what you put into your body. Yes, I can eat a 200 calorie candy bar or I can eat 200 calories in chicken. Which do you think my body will like better? ;)

This is MY plan. You can do whatever you want! Some of my friends are just going to consider a cheat having soda. Some are going full on! It just depends on what YOU want to do! Push yourself!

To me cheating is:
*Ice Cream
*Fast Food (I'll allow myself protein style hamburger)
*Anything but water (I'll allow myself some coffee though)
*Food with artificial ingredients
*More than a portion size of almond butter
*More than one protein bar

What I'll eat:
*Bacon (Nitrate Free)
*Chicken/Turkey Sausage (Nitrate Free)
*Fish (Ughhhhh)
*Kind Granola (Gluten Free)
*Quest Protein Bars (try to eat only half a day)
*Fruit (but don't go crazy on this)
*Organic Corn Tortilla Chips
*Gluten Free Crackers (Make sure it's soy free and keep within portion size)
*Homemade Salsa
*Sweet Potatoes
*Nuts (limit to 1/4 cup a day)

Are you in???  I'm starting right now and you can do this anytime!  But... the actual challenge will start on Monday, May 19th. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

My Weight Loss Milestone

It happened!  I stepped on the scale, started to do the math (carry the one, borrow from the 7, etc.) and realized that I had 
lost 100 pounds!

Thank you My Fitness Pal for keeping track of my weight loss. ;) You can follow me @rachelleblake

I mean, I couldn't even grasp what that meant. And then I realized that 100 pounds is the same as...

*A 2 month old horse
*an average super model
*2 bales of hay
*197 bananas
*large goat
*12 gallons of water
*A hellfire missle

I happen to have an amazing friend (NATALIE) who is also a photographer.  We had a blast doing these "100 pounds lost" celebration photos! 

I was so lucky to have some amazing friends that celebrated with me and they sent me a goodie basket of healthy treats and TONS of gift cards so that I could buy a new wardrobe.  Which I have. Ten times over. 

I cannot even believe that I used to wear these jeans.  They are a size 20. Wow. Now I can't believe I just told y'all that.  Sometimes I put those old pants on just to remind myself of how far I've come. And then sometimes I put both legs in one of the legs and try to walk around.  This is real life, people!

It has been a crazy 18 months.  I've cried, laughed, grunted, screamed, smiled, and I've NEVER STOPPED WORKING (although I've had times where I've taken steps backwards). I've had many set backs and tons of critics. BUT, I've also had SO SO much support. My family and friends have been incredible through it all. I tear up thinking about all of the people in my life who motivate me and never criticize me (even when I get HANGRY- thank you to my husband Brian). 
There have been more than a handful of times I went to bed pouting like a child because I wanted to eat ALL THE CANDY IN THE WORLD. There have been more than a handful of times where I actually ate ALL THE CANDY IN THE WORLD. I still have food issues. I still play mental games with myself, but I'm starting to realize that food is fuel and I don't have to live to eat...I need to eat to live. 

Things I've learned:

*The scale doesn't own me
*I can run one mile without crying, but refuse to do more
*I love Jazzercise
*Flexing in the mirror is fun
*Food is fuel
*Healthy food is yummy
*I don't have to feel deprived to live healthy
*I can lift heavy things
*I can make a Jazzercise routine to any song
*Medium is now in my vocabulary
*I hardly ever poop #help #sorrynotsorry
*This journey is my life and I'm never stopping
*If I can do it, ANYONE CAN!

My weight does not define my happiness. But let me tell you... when I was overweight I was also exhausted, depressed, and lazy.  Now I'm happy, have so much energy, WANT to workout everyday, and I think about what I eat instead of shoving cookies down my throat at a moment's notice.
I take each day at a time and I look back and think.... DAMN, I did it!

*You can read more about how I lost 100 pounds {here}

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

How to Not Gain Weight on a Vacation

*Let me just say... what worked for me on my vacation, may not work for you!  These are just TIPS and are certainly not a "cure-all". :)

After a long Utah winter, my husband and I decided that we needed a vacation and a Caribbean cruise would be the perfect selection. As I prepared for my cruise, I knew that I wanted to let go a little and relax.  This included my food choices.  BUT, I did not want to go on a binge and then feel like crap.  I had to be careful and I had to have a PLAN.  

I weighed myself the day we left for our vacation.  That was my "stick with it" number.  We cruised for 7 nights.  After we got home, I waited 4 days to weigh myself (water retention).  Guess what? I did not gain one pound!  I was the same weight as the day I left for my cruise.

How did I do it?  Here's what you need to know (hint- it's not much different from my every day life).

1.  Have a plan

My plan was to have a mostly healthy breakfast AND lunch each day.  If there was something new I wanted to try, I just had a tiny portion.  For dinner, I would splurge and have whatever I wanted as long as I didn't get "sick full".  Once I started to feel full, I put my napkin on my plate and had the waiter take it away.  It worked like a charm.  My husband and I got our own starters, plus we got an extra one to share (we wanted to try it all).  For the main entree, I just had what looked good.  On our last day, I had 3 cheese macaroni and cheese with grilled chicken and bacon. YUM.  For desert, we both ordered our own and then split another desert.  

Breakfast: Egg omelet, bacon, and fruit
Lunch: Salad, grilled chicken, potato salad, small desert
Dinner: Starter (1.5), main course, desert (1.5)

I definitely never felt deprived!

I decided that I would pack my workout clothes just in case I wanted to burn some extra calories.  I didn't put any pressure on myself to workout.  I actually woke up 4 out of the 7 mornings on our vacation and WANTED to workout. I headed to the cruise gym and ran on the treadmill for 20 minutes and lifted weights for 20 minutes. On the other days, we had early morning excursions planned and I wasn't about to wake up before the sun. Now, I get it...not all of you want to go to the gym on your vacation. That's ok!  Just move more.  Go on a walk on the beach, lap swim in the pool, or choose an excursion that requires some walking.  We did the Mayan Ruins and it was amazing.  We walked and walked and in 100 degree weather in Belize, but it was worth it.  Plus, we burned calories and learned a little history at the same time. 

*One tip on a cruise is to always take the stairs.  We were on the 9th deck and we took the stairs up and down to the different decks.  The only time we took the elevator was when I was wearing heels. ;)

Xunantunich Mayan Ruins in Belize

This is PROOF I worked out on the cruise. It's a flex break in our tiny stateroom cabin. 

3. HYDRATE with Water (and avoid soda)
I drank 150 ounces of water every day. It was very hot out and I knew that if I didn't drink enough, I would feel miserable, get bloated, and retain a lot of water.  This is one of my best decisions!  I drank only water (and coffee) on the cruise and I didn't even care.  If I would have wanted to have a lemonade, I would have had one. But, I didn't even want those calories... I wanted my calories in the form of chocolate pie. I didn't drink soda or alcohol while on my cruise, but if you choose to do so... just make sure you limit yourself. Those empty calories can leave you feeling like crap and how can you dress up on "formal night" feeling like that!  

4.  Be Prepared
I wanted to make sure that we brought some extra snacks in case we got the "midnight munchies".  We brought Kind bars with us just in case.  I'm so glad we did! There were times that we were out on the beach and I got hangry (hungry+angry).  I was so glad to grab a Kind bar and feel satisfied until it was time for lunch.  I would also take an extra banana at breakfast to snack on while I was lounging by the pool.  It's the little things that make the biggest difference.  

We did a Carnival Cruise and we loved it (it's our second one).  
Sunday: Port of Galveston
Monday: Day at Sea
Tuesday: Day at Sea
Wednesday: Roatan, Honduras
Thursday: Belize 
Friday: Cozumel, Mexico
Saturday: Day at Sea
Sunday: Port of Galveston

Saturday, March 22, 2014

3 Reasons Why I Believe in Clean Eating

People ask me a lot- "what DIET are you on?"  Well, I'm not on a diet.  I'm doing a healthy lifestyle journey that will never end.  I'm not on a fad diet and I'm not restricting my calories. I fuel my body with fresh food as much as I can.  I don't deprive myself- I just substitute, adjust and find a balance. I try to eat whole-foods the majority of my diet. So.. this means that when you see me eating an Oreo, don't call me out! It's part of my plan. ;) There are so many "clean eating" HATERS out there.  I DO believe in "clean" food and "dirty" food. But what I really mean is nutrient dense and not-so nutrient dense. Clean food fuels my body and makes me feel good during and after I eat it.  Dirty food makes me feel good during, but makes me feel horrible after.

Why do I believe in clean eating?

1. Because I research and know the ingredients that are in food.

Ignorance is NOT bliss when it comes to your health and the health of your loved ones.  Research ingredients and find out what is in your food and how it's "made". Start with {these} ingredients. The unfortunate thing is that many chemicals are hidden inside the word "natural flavors" on your ingredient list. Do you know that they use a chemical called azodicarbonamide in many breads (including Subway bread)?  Azodicoarbonamide is the same chemical used to make yoga mats. YOGA MATS? How is that even ok? The frustrating thing is that this chemical is banned in the UK and Australia because it is linked to respiratory issues, allergies, and asthma.  My question is why is it banned all over the globe, but not here?

You want to be completely freaked out? Read all the investigations that has done. It scared me and I wanted to just starve to death for a minute.  But then I got hungry. ;) I just decided to not to go extreme and start growing out my armpit hair. My husband and I agreed to just be conscious of what we are eating and try to avoid certain food as much as possible, but not become CRAZY about it. When we go grocery shopping, we don't buy many things that come from a box. If it does, we avoid certain ingredients and make sure we can READ all of the ingredients.

Don't get overwhelmed! I read some great articles that helped me. Start with one of the ingredients below and eliminate it (I'll post more clean-eating tips later):

2. Because this is what happened to my face:

In both pictures I'm not wearing any makeup (just mascara).
Top: May 2013
Bottom: March 2013

So about a year ago I was fed up with my adult acne that was painful, irritating and it honestly wore on any ounce of confidence I had.  When you first meet someone, they look at your face first. I was so embarrassed. I tried so many things to help.  I went to the dermatologist and all he did was SHOVE antibiotics in my face. I asked him if antibiotics were bad for me in the long-term and he said no.  I went home that day and researched it myself and found the answers that I needed.  Antibiotics are NOT good for you long term. Do they clear my face up? YES!  BUT... that wasn't worth it to me.  I wanted to do it holistically (mind, body, spirit).  I tried every cream, oil, and scrub out there. I bought an expensive exfoliator. Nothing worked.

I finally started researching holistic ways to treat acne and many sites were saying that I might have adult acne because of what I'm eating (I eliminated dairy and gluten for 30 days and found that when I started to slowly introduce it, I felt HORRIBLE and I started to break out again).  The culprit, I think, is dairy.  Just about that time I also found Skincare Holistic Beauty Practice.Cheryl and Celeste have provided me with an amazing skin-care regimen with products that are chemical-free and safe.

Clean Eating + Organic Skincare Products and Treatments = Clear Face (and a happy girl)

2. Because it's given me *help* with these results without starving myself:
Obviously I'm wearing the same sweater and pants in this picture.
Top: October 2012
Bottom: March 2014

YOU CAN DO IT!  Just start small. 

Change out one food item (we started with eliminating artificial sweeteners like Crystal Light and Sweet N' Low). 

Start eating "cleaner" one step at a time!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Dinner Meal Planning

Brian and I like to plan out our meals for the week on Sundays.  We also do our grocery shopping on Sundays.  Our goal is to cook fresh food 4 days a week.  We plan only our dinners out because we make an extra amount so that we have enough to bring to work the next day for lunch.  If there isn't enough to bring to work the next day- we bring fresh salads or tuna with avocados or we have some no-bean turkey chili that we have in the freezer.  Breakfast is a whole different post. ;)

Download the meal plan sheets {here}

Of course I use Pinterest for recipes.  But really, my husband is the cook of this house and he's just good at "winging it". I sure love him. You can check out our Pinterest board we just started for Meal Plans.

We follow a very lax Paleo diet right now (but I plan on going back to counting my macros).  I avoid gluten and dairy because I have an intolerance to them (MANY people do... you might too).  Just because it says gluten free, doesn't make it healthy.  We read every single ingredient and hardly buy anything in a box that even has ingredients listed on it.

I don't avoid all carbs...believe me... I get enough of those.  I feel best when I fuel my body with clean, fresh ingredients. I don't deny/restrict myself from any food, but I choose to not eat certain foods because they make me feel yucky. I eat clean 80% of the time because that's what makes me feel good, keeps my skin clear, and helps me lose weight. The other 20% is full of string cheese and chocolate. I never feel good after I eat those though!

If I can do it, you can too! I was the BIGGEST food junky.  I used to eat Dairy Queen, Subway, and Wendy's ALL THE TIME.  I had constant headaches, body aches, and acne (I'm acne free and I'll blog about that later).  You can do it. It's not too late.