Pick your passion and roll with it!

Happy Friday everyone! This post is going to dive into some of my thoughts about physical activity and trends with exercise. I know people can get very passionate about exercise, so just take everything with a grain of salt and hear out my perspective!

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Sometimes we get caught up in trends and forget to pay attention to what we truly enjoy. What makes your heart full and your body happy? Of course this can be related to food, but trends can also effect other parts of your health and well-being.

The main things that come to mind when I think about this topic are work-out trends. I have tried a variety of different exercise regimens or classes from basic work-outs at the gym to yoga or spin. I definitely thank undergrad for that, because I was able to take a variety of classes such as TRX, Pilates, yoga, and cycling all for free. This gave me the opportunity to dive into new things and see what I really liked!

The problem with trends in any aspect of life (exercise, health, dieting, clothing, etc) is that we often get caught up in what is most “popular”. What is everyone else doing? Everyone else likes cross-fit, so shouldn’t I too?

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I am focusing on the exercise aspect because I think that keeping up with trends in exercise can often times be the most discouraging or frustrating. I remember when the cross-fit trend started and I thought to myself, “Am I supposed to try this? It’s so not me or what I enjoy about exercising?” With social-media being a hot way to communicate, we often times get wrapped up in what others are doing and what we think we should try to “get fit” vs really tapping in to what we love and enjoy. I have realized over the years that I continuously go back to running, so I have used this as an opportunity to perfect and really focus on this passion of mine.

When you are looking for a way to stay active, go for what you enjoy, not what is trending on Instagram or Facebook. When you enjoy the type of exercise that you are doing, it often times makes you more willing to continue and push yourself harder. Of course, trying new things can be fun, exciting, and you might find a new way to be active that you really enjoy, BUT don’t feel like you have to love something just because every else does!


How do I stay engaged and interested in running and not burn myself out? I challenge myself by running various races or switching from long-distance runs to quick sprints on the treadmill. I thrive off exercising in group settings. I love pushing myself to be faster and catch up to someone ahead of me, so running a 5k or training for a half marathon is something that really challenges me and pushes me to better myself! When I really do need a break, I go to my other loves — yoga and pure barre. Yoga is very relaxing for me and my body. Pure barre is a total “rock out to awesome music and feel my body shake” type of work out (you know…the ones where you can’t walk the next day?!).With these breaks in between races and an occasional HIIT workout, I have totally found a system that works for me and keeps my interest.

I encourage you to find something you enjoy and really dive into it. Become comfortable with yourself and where you are with exercise and fitness and always remember change takes time!


Why diet and exercise work better together!

I commonly talk about food, eating healthy, and filling your body up with nutrient-dense foods while still taking time to indulge every once and a while. Occasionally, you will catch me talking about exercise or sharing some things that I like to do to keep myself physically active. One thing I want to emphasize a little today is why it is so important to have balance with these two concepts: healthy eating and regular physical activity.

Sometimes I see people fall into the fitness slump where all they are focused on is burning calories. While there are many people that do spend hours upon hours in the gym and have the body to show it, high fitness level doesn’t necessarily equal good health. Also, most people don’t have 2-3 hours to spend at the gym or exercising daily. Many of the people I see on a daily basis struggle with getting in 20 minutes of exercise 2 times per week. In terms of weight loss, physical activity actually doesn’t have as much of an impact on losing weight as does one’s diet. Don’t take this the wrong way… I’m not saying don’t exercise. Exercise is crucial to maintaining not only good health, but it can help regulate your mood, stress levels, and keep you at a weight that you feel comfortable. Exercise is definitely effective in weight maintenance. (If you don’t believe me… look it up! There is actually research done on this topic.)

Let’s switch gears. I am a Registered Dietitian. It is my job to help people connect what they are putting into their bodies with their overall health or health conditions. It is no secret that “eating healthy” is something that people want to do (for the most part). I don’t think anyone wakes up thinking “I really hope the 3 sodas I drink today lead me to have high blood sugars.”

While I try to help people learn to eat a balanced diet and focus on whole foods rather that processed and packaged foods, I don’t believe that eating healthy and spending the entire day being sedentary is good either. What good is eating salads and lean proteins if you spend the whole day sitting on the couch or at a work desk. I know sometimes it is hard to find balance between eating healthy and getting in the recommended 150 minutes of moderately intense physical activity per week, but this is something I feel is so important to maintaining good health. Whether you are trying to lose a few pounds or just maintain a healthy body, physical activity and making healthy food decisions together can provide optimal success.

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Think about food as fuel to your day AND to your ability to have a good and successful workout. Without proper fuel, your body might not react to your workouts the way you hope. If you spend 30 minutes doing ab work 4 times per week but go home and eat 3 cups of ice cream each night, those abs might not pop the way you want then to! On the other side of the spectrum, think about exercise as a way to keep yourself motivated to make good food choices. I don’t know about you, but after I go on a 3 hour hike, the last thing I am thinking about is sitting down to a burger and french fries. Often times, the more consistently we exercise, the clearer we think and the easier it is to differentiate a healthy food choice from one that maybe isn’t as great!

I hope that this information sparked interest in thinking about the way you look at your own diet and physical activity regimen (or maybe I just babbled for nothing!). I have always been a believer in balance within my life, whether that be balancing diet and exercise or school work with my desire to have a little relaxation time on the weekends. As always, message me with questions if you have them! Happy Tuesday!

 


A peak into my world…Diet, Exercise, and Lifestyle.

Hello everyone! Hope your Monday is flying bye and running smoothly. Because I’ve been so MIA, I thought I’d write something a little personal this week. I always post recipes or recommendations, but I never really dig into my personal life.

Obviously you know a little about me… “I’m a 25 something year-old Registered Dietitian…”; I have a passion for food and fitness; I am a proud graduate of Ohio State University; I’m married to my best friend; and I really, really enjoy making up recipes that I’d consider fairly healthy. So, what else about me? What are my struggles when it comes to food? What works for me to keep me healthy and happy? Well… here we go! I promise I’ll keep it light and bright 🙂

Since moving to Arizona, I’ve learned a few things about myself. The biggest thing I think I’ve learned is that I can’t always be perfect. I think starting out as a young dietitian, I expected myself to be perfect sometimes, to always practice what I preach, to set a good example for family, friends, patients, etc.; but one thing I have noticed is that when I push myself too hard, I crumble and it typically effects my health.

With any type of dietary or lifestyle goal, we push ourselves. We never want to say what we do wrong, or what we may struggle with (or at least I don’t), but sometimes we do need to say those things more often. We are all human, so we all have a little something that makes us tick or puts pressure on us, and it is good to recognize what those things are so you can take the first step in relieving a little of the pressure.

In college, I had my healthy lifestyle down to the T. I would eat, sleep, and breathe nutrition…healthy eating….exercise….all day, every day. I was surrounded by other aspiring dietitians in a city that embraced healthy eating, eating local, providing options and access to those who needed it. I had everything right at my finger tips. Even when I started my first job as an RD, college life and my attitude about food, nutrition, and lifestyle was still well embedded in me. I wanted to eat perfect, I wanted to look what I considered perfect, and I had the time to do it. Boy how one little move can change everything!

I love Arizona….don’t get me wrong. There is great culture, great food, great weather, and I’m with my hub which makes everything 10 x better always, but the challenges of moving, working full time, commuting to work, planning a wedding, traveling often, and just feeling like free time was minimal each day really started to take a tole on me, my energy, my mood, and my body in general. I’m all about balance, and I definitely lost that balance there for a while.

Accepting the realization that it is hard to be perfect was difficult for me. Realizing that I didn’t have time to run 5 miles per day or work out for even an hour each day frustrated me, which made my food choices start to fall a little bit. Not that I was eating poorly by any means, but I was eating to take my mind off of other things and that is just as bad in my eyes. I lost my concept of “eating until full” or “eating to nourish yourself” and I just would eat because I felt like I needed to.

After a little over a year of adjusting to my new life, my new job, and my new environment, I think I have found a little bit more peace in how I’m maintaining what I consider a healthy lifestyle. Although I may not be perfect in a sense, I am doing what makes me happy, what makes my husband happy, and I can feel myself feeling lighter both emotionally and in my own body. I don’t think my husband would like if I stayed in my “grumpy” attitude for much longer, so getting back to myself in more ways than one feels amazing. Here is what I found has helped me learn to adjust to my new lifestyle and what has been working for me in terms of diet, exercise, and lifestyle. This routine may not work for everyone, but it sure as heck has made me feel a lot better! Thank you for listening to me babble and happy Monday again!

Diet: 

I would never consider myself on a diet, but what I have learned is I need a plan. When I don’t plan or when I go into a day blindly without any set food choices or preparation, I tend to make poor choices or eat more often due to being upset with myself that I didn’t plan in the first place! Because I had adapted to eating large quantities in college due to a lot (and I mean a lot!) of running, I needed a way to get myself back into eating normal portions. I did this through adding more protein to my diet to help satisfy me a little more. I have protein with every meal and every snack (with a few exceptions) and here are my go-to’s:

  • Chicken– Typically with dinner or with lunch; I like to have protein in my salad and chicken is usually the main culprit. If I don’t have leftover chicken I will choose nuts or quinoa as my protein choice with lunch.
  • Greek yogurt– My go-to snack or late night dessert. My husband and I recently got a membership to Cotsco… uh ohh!!! This has been fantastic because we have been buying yogurt in bulk so we always have it on hand. I like the individual cups because they are pre-portioned. I always look for low-sugar versions. No need to taint something already good and yummy!
  • Nuts– Holy nuts! I eat nuts about 3 times/day. I have a bag of mixed almonds and cashews with different types of dried fruit and occasionally yogurt chips as well. Sometimes there will be sunflower seeds or occasionally a different type of nut such as pistachios or walnuts.. it all just depends where I buy them!
  • Nut butters– Unsalted peanut butter from Trader Joe’s is my fav! Great to add to oatmeal, Greek Yogurt, on a piece of whole grain toast. I love it all!
  • Eggs– Eggs give me a break when I’m sick of my normal breakfasts.
  • Protein bars/shakes– Not always my number 1 choice, but they are good for me to switch up my snacks and for traveling. I love Quest bars for a good “sweet” dessert snack and I always have at least 1 protein powder or pre-made shake on hand at home.

Outside of having good protein choices available, I always have a variety of fruits and vegetables available for meals and snacks. Lunch typically consists of my biggest portion of veggies for the day and a serving at dinner helps add bulk to my meal so my plate looks as full as my husbands, but really is majority veg! I tend to eat 3 meals/day and at least 2 snacks. I’ve learned to pack more snacks to have on handy at work so that when the tummy grumbles hit, I’m not heading to the vending machine for something to satisfy me!

Exercise:

I need variety! I tend to burn myself out on things, whether that be food choices or work out routines. I also tend to always go back to running because it is easy for me to do anywhere, but when I get sick of running then I tend to notice my body feeling and looking a little different. If I don’t put effort into my runs, I often am still burning calories but rarely seeing any physical changes because my appetite exceeds the calorie loss.

I learned over the past few months just how important challenging my body is. This is when I notice the biggest change and when I feel the best. My workouts now consist of a mixture of cardio (so I can still get my running fix), circuit training, and occasional yoga or hiking. Yoga is good for mental stability and clearing my mind, so I try to incorporate it whenever I have time or just need a mental break, even if that is only once/month. I started a circuit program through an app on my phone, but recently have adapted this to what I enjoy and what challenges me most. I tend to have 2-3 circuits which I run through after warming up with walking on an incline for 15-30 minutes. I will run through each circuit 2x in a row, rest for a minute, then move on to the next. I like that they are quick yet challenging and incorporate both body weight and weights for strength. I alternate between leg circuits, arms/abs, and full body circuits depending on the day of the week. I do circuit training a minimum of 3 days/week, each session taking anywhere from 30-45 minutes (depending on how long I warm up for!).

There is always one rest day during my week, and this is very important for me. My body asks for it as well as my mind, and I have learned to listen! If there is one piece of advice I can give when it comes to exercise it is listen to your body! Mild aches and soreness can be good…your body is changing….but extreme aches and pains mean slow down or you are doing something wrong! If you are really into bumping up your exercise routines or tailoring them to what you desire in a workout, I highly recommend you meet with someone at a local gym or a personal trainer before trying things on your own!

Hiking is something I enjoy but can’t always do due to work and weather. I try to fit this in whenever I can!

Lifestyle:

Life isn’t meant to be perfect and neither am I. I’ve learned to listen to my body, to eat what makes me feel best, and to let myself indulge on occasion but not go overboard or let my emotions power my indulgences. My husband and I love to try new things and new restaurants, especially with us being in a fairly new city! We have days where we indulge more than others and that is OK. Have support in the lifestyle you want to live; be sure you surround yourself with people who want you to feel good about yourself and succeed in your goals!


No Time, No Problem

With interning this year full time, I feel like I gained a lot of respect and sympathy for those who work for 8 hours or more each day and really just don’t feel like they have the time to go to the gym or workout, even if they want to. I understand now the feeling of “I’m just too tired to go to the gym” or “After finally getting home and getting a chance to relax, the last thing I want to do is do a tedious 1 hour workout.” This post is all about things that I have done this year to help me stay fit, even while I am working full time as an intern and taking class on my day off. There are also some other general ideas that I have come up with to still get a quick, effective work out in, even with only a minimal amount of time to give. 

Tip 1:

If you get a lunch break and work in an area that is safe to walk around in or near a residential area, take a quick 15-20 minute power walk outside. During the summer months, I would do this all the time. Occasionally, a coworker would come with me, which was even better because we were able to talk and the time flew. Don’t just casually walk; pick up your pace a bit and make it a quick, brisk walk that feels good when you are done but you are not sweaty and out of breath. I also found that this helped me clear my mind and relax a little bit. We all know how stressful some work days can be! I know that when I just sit around after lunch, I often times become lethargic, tired, and the rest of the day seems to move by at a slower pace than in the morning. When I would walk, even if only for 15 minutes, I would feel energized, more awake, and ready to take on the afternoon!

Tip 2:

If you work in a big office (or a small one) and have the ability to call a coworker to ask them questions or communicate… don’t! A lot of times if I needed to communicate with a coworker, I would get up and walk to see them and take the longer route (because the clinic I was in was very small). On the same note, I would make about 2 laps around the clinic on my way back, just to keep myself moving and get in a few extra steps. Once again, this helped me feel more awake during the day and many times I felt I was able to concentrate and get tasks done more timely and efficiently.

Tip 3:

Try yoga! After a long day at work, when you don’t have much time to spare and feel exhausted, yoga can not only help stretch out your muscles and relax, it can also give you a great little 20-30 minute workout (if you do it right at home). There are so many 10-20 minute yoga videos accessible now through the internet. All you have to do is search and pick a few that interest you! I am always surprised how great I feel after doing a quick yoga session at night. I also think it helps me sleep better.

Tip 4: 

Don’t go to the gym hungry! If you do have the energy or dedication to go to the gym after your day at work, good for you! Make sure though that you are not doing this when you are starving. I find that if I go to the gym straight from work when I am already hungry, instead of packing a quick snack such as a granola bar or some nuts, or don’t stop home and take a 15 minute relaxation/snack break before going to the gym, I tend to be so famished by the time I get home after my workout that I eat double what I probably should. I have learned my from mistakes and usually work very hard now to remember to pack a quick snack if I am going to the gym after work!

Tip 5: 

Start your morning off right. If you really find that you just do not have any time during the day to get in a walk or any time after work to head to the gym (or you are just too darn tired), try becoming an early bird, and get a workout in first thing in the morning. If waking up at the crack of dawn to make sure you have enough time to drive to the gym and back sounds absolutely awful, wake up a little later and do your workout right in the comfort of your own home. There are plenty of quick full body workouts or workouts for target areas that are accessible online now. Invest in a yoga mat or a pair of weights and become your own personal trainer. I always think to myself, some type of activity is better than none! So if I only have time for 30 minutes each morning, at least I am trying!