Become A Healthier YOU! {Post #4 in the “Taking Back My Health” series}

Welcome back for Post #4 in my “Taking Back My Health” series. I’ve chatted in the first few posts about setting goals, what health challenges I am coming back from, and how to set a strong foundation before you start exercising.

I’ve had a few people ask me about the exercises that I started doing when I first started working out again. So in today’s post I will be sharing those exercises with you and ways that I keep motivated. But first, I wanted to share with you about why I am doing what I am doing. The answer is simple: I want to become a healthier ME. Everybody’s body type, weight and height are different, so our goals for better health may also be very different (weight loss, building lean muscle, etc.). So stop comparing yourself to others around you. Whatever your reason is for wanting to start working out or to get back in shape, I hope that this post encourages you to create your own workout, one that will challenge you to become a healthier YOU.

Getting back into shape has really been a mental challenge for me. I literally have to retrain my brain to think differently about how I spend my time and my effort, how I eat and when (recovering late night chips and dip snacker here!), and I have to battle all of those ridiculous demons that tell me I can’t do this. Here are a few of the things that I do to keep myself motivated daily…

DRESS THE PART
You prepare for work by arriving on time and dressing in uniform, so treat working out the same way. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the same time every day, but be sure to carve out the time in your daily schedule. If I work out in the morning, it helps me to put my workout clothes on right away, even if I’m not working out for another hour.

REVIEW MY GOALS
At the beginning of every month I set a few monthly goals. It’s not a daily thing, but I do review my goals every few days to remind me of why I am doing this and to help me keep track of exactly what I’m doing. I keep a daily journal, logging the specifics of what I do during my workouts (how long I run, how many repetitions and sets I do for strengthening exercises, etc). I just use a basic calendar/planner and I love looking back and seeing my progress.

A MIRROR DOESN’T LIE
It’s not for everyone, but here’s why I workout in front of a mirror. When I’m lifting weights or doing my squats, I constantly check my form and make sure I’m doing it correctly. After all, what’s the point of doing an exercise if you’re not even doing it correctly? In some cases, you can cause injury.

MUSIC, MAESTRO!
I do everything with music, so this is a must for me. Create a few awesome workout playlists for yourself in your Pandora app and get moving! 

music

For the first month that I started working out, my goal was to establish a solid weekly routine of at least 4-5 days. I needed something that was challenging for me as a beginner, but realistic so that I would stick to it. It also needed to be something that could fit into my daily schedule and be something that I could do completely at home. Keep in mind that for some people, using different workout videos is the best and easiest way, and that’s great, too! I chose to put together my own workouts simply because I enjoyed doing it and I liked being able to switch up the specifics of my routines.

Here is the daily routine that I use:

  • Stretch (15 minutes)
  • 200-500 Jumping Jacks, depends on the workout I am doing that day (or jump rope)
  • Run (15-45 mins, depends on workout for the day)
  • Monthly Fit Challenge (For January, it was the 30 day squat challenge; February we are doing two fit challenges for the month- a 30 day plank challenge and 30 day butt challenge
    30dayplankchallenge30daybuttchallenge
  • And the last part of my daily workout routine is an additional workout for areas I wanted to specifically target- arms, butt, legs and abs. I wrote the workouts each on a large index card and would rotate the workouts throughout the week. Below are the exercises I have on my four index cards.

** If you’re not sure about any of the names of these exercises, YouTube is a great place to check out a quick how-to video. **

Arms:
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Abs:
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Legs:
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Butt:
(This is part of the original workout from FitBodyHQ)
Butt Workout

That’s basically it. Then I follow it up with a warm down and stretch. It’s tough to make the time to do these workouts. I’m a stay at home mom of a four-year-old. My days are loaded with family, homeschooling and my daily routine at home. I’ve also recently opened a business and have started working at home. My cup runneth over! 🙂 Some days I do the workout in the morning, other days I have to squeeze it in at night before bed, and there have been a couple of days where I have had to give myself some grace because I passed out in bed before I even got a chance to work out! The most important thing is to stay focused on whatever your goals are!

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In my next post, I will be sharing a way that you can join me in my “90 Day Challenge.” Stay tuned!

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Setting Up A Strong Foundation {Post #3 in the “Taking Back My Health” series}

Welcome back for Part 3 in the “Taking Back My Health” series!

In my first and second posts I shared the fact that I had an honest intention to get my health back on track (Post 1), and also the reasons why my health was on the decline (Post 2). This was not something that happened overnight.

So when exactly was my turning point in all of this? I hit my all-time low the last two months of 2013. It was ugly. While I was continuing to experience physical problems, my mind was on overload and mentally I was starting to break down. I found myself experiencing bouts of depression. I knew I had to make a change and that it had to be something extreme. So in the next couple of posts, I’m going to share with you the specific steps that I took to turn things around. 

I know that a lot of people are curious about the actual workout programs that I’ve set up, and how I went about doing that, but before I talk about the workouts (they will be in the next post, I promise!), I want to make sure that I cover some of the most important pieces to my health journey- the important changes that I made to set a strong foundation- along with a few tricks that I’ve done to make these things stick. This same principle applies when you build a home. Do you want your home built on a strong foundation that roots your home, or on a foundation that has cracks, holes and damage in it? I think the answer is pretty obvious that we all want the strong foundation. The also applies to your health. Every step that you take from this point on should be built on top of a strong foundation. So let’s get started!

beginning
source: Pinterest

1. WATER, WATER, AND MORE WATER
Did I mention how much I hate water? Yep, that’s right. HATE. It’s flavorless and, therefore, does not appeal to me. But I also recognize how much my body needs it. For men, generally speaking, about 60% of their bodies are made up of water and for women, it’s about 55% (those figures vary depending on the amounts of muscle and fat in each person’s body).

I was drinking… wait for it… only 1-2 glasses of water every 3 or 4 days. (gasp!) Yeah, that’s pretty bad. I wonder how my body was able to function for so long on so little. So here’s the first major change that I made. I increased my water intake drastically. You can Google information on how to calculate how many ounces of water you should be drinking for your body weight, but a simple principle I came up with for myself is to drink at least one tall glass of water every hour that I am awake. It’s much simpler for me that way. I’m awake an average 12 hours, so now drink at least 12 tall glasses of water a day.

But how, since you could barely choke down one glass every few days before? Here’s how: I use a couple drops of liquid organic Stevia ONLY in the first couple glasses, to help get my water intake started. After the first couple, I’m already on a roll drinking water and I can continue for the rest of the day without it. I will usually do 3-4 drops in my first glass and I will decrease the amount in every glass for the first few glasses, basically weaning myself. I cannot stress this enough- check the label of ingredients when you buy your Stevia. It doesn’t matter that it has organic Stevia if there is a bunch of junk in there with it.

The brand that I use is Sweet Leaf Sweet Drops. Here’s a picture to show you exactly what the listed ingredients are: purified water, organic Stevia leaf extract, natural flavors. It’s just something that I came up with to help me increase how much water I drink, that’s all. I don’t plan on continuing with the organic Stevia once I retrain my mind and body to consume this amount of water daily.

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2. KICK YOUR COFFEE HABIT DOWN A NOTCH
Coffee really does have some health benefits for certain people, but the way that I was drinking my coffee was nowhere close to being healthy. The ratio of actual coffee to Coffee Mate Vanilla creamer was 1:10 in my cup. Yeah. So for me, I really had to kick coffee out entirely, at least until I could get my habits under control.

I’ve shared with a few people on Facebook about how I kicked my coffee habit entirely the next day without any withdrawal symptoms. That was a really big deal for me because my body was so addicted to coffee that I would have severe migraines without it. It’s been 2 & 1/2 months now since I have had coffee in those insane amounts. I have only just recently started to have coffee again, but it’s about 1-2 cups of coffee PER WEEK (and in a much better ratio of coffee to creamer!). I drink this Bragg’s ACV drink 2 times a day, once in the morning and once again at around 2:00 PM when I’m starting to fade a little. When I first started doing this drink, I found that I needed it a third time around 4 or 5:00 PM. But since I’ve been doing it for a couple of months now, my body’s adjusted and I haven’t needed it that much.

So here’s how I did it…

ACV
source: Facebook

I recommend that you use Bragg’s apple cider vinegar. It has “the mother” (the cloudy stuff) in it and that’s where the benefits of ACV are. I also tell everyone that if you use honey, always use raw honey. Again, for the health benefits simply because it’s raw and unrefined. If you want a quick read on the benefits and dangers of raw honey, you can read that —> HERE.

3. LET’S TALK SUPPLEMENTS 
After living most of my life in sunny south Florida, a move up north to first Virginia and then to Ohio has been a shock for my body. I never had to worry about Vitamin D deficiency before. In Virginia, I had my Vitamin D levels checked and I was surprised to learn that after just a short amount of time, my Vitamin D levels were in the danger zone. You can read more about Vitamin D testing and treatment in this informative article —> HERE. As you can see from the chart in that article, my level of 30 was beyond deficient. I started taking Vitamin D3 supplements years ago after getting those results, but I wasn’t diligent about taking them daily. That’s another thing that I have changed. Along with a multi-vitamin, I regularly take D3 supplements.

4. I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT! 
One of the major issues was the extreme exhaustion I talked about in my previous post. From that, stemmed depression and other issues with my mood. I started to research on light therapy, Circadian Rhythm, supplements and the affects on our bodies. My body did not have a handle on the hours of the day. I would be up all night long. And if I by sheer miracle I actually was able to fall asleep, I would still be up periodically throughout the night, unable to get right back to sleep. Years of this had left me completely exhausted during the day. I needed to retrain my mind and body on what hours were daytime and nighttime.

I decided to buy and try out a light therapy box —> (this is the one that I chose for myself). I didn’t know of anyone personally that had ever used this type of thing to combat depression and exhaustion, so I decided to try it out. Guess what… it worked. Here’s how it worked for me. The mornings had always been the worst. I just couldn’t get out of bed. For the first two weeks, I had the light therapy box sitting on my nightstand next to my bed. In the morning, I would roll over, turn the light on, and while still lying in bed, have my face about 16″ away. I would do this for at least 20 minutes every morning. And that thing is bright! I would also do it again for another 20-25 minutes around 2:00 PM when my body started to get sluggish.

After a couple of weeks of using the light therapy box that way, I found that my extreme exhaustion in the morning had almost gone away completely. I went from feeling like I had run marathons overnight and waking up dog tired to feeling more refreshed from sleep, with just a little bit of sleepiness. I decided that my body was starting to adjust and that I no longer needed it first thing in the morning. I moved it into my office area and I have it set up beside my computer. Since then, I have been able to get out of bed right away in the morning and I use the light at my desk while I’m doing my morning routine- reading my Bible, checking emails, doing my work. I have it on for about 45 minutes a day now. It wasn’t just the therapy light. I made a couple of other changes, along with the light therapy and I’m happy to report that the end result is worth it.

What other changes did I make? I started going to sleep at a decent hour, instead of my usual 2:00 AM. I went to bed even if I couldn’t fall asleep right away. I also started doing hot Epsom salt baths and using magnesium oil before bed. Here’s the magnesium oil that I bought. You can buy it from her online store and she also gives you a tutorial on how you can make it yourself. I don’t believe that I would have noticed such a timely change if I didn’t do these things together (get proper rest, therapy light, hot Epsom salt baths before bed, magnesium oil), but that is for me personally. No two people are alike, of course. This is just to give you an idea of how it worked for me.

So here’s a quick rundown of how my days went, while incorporating all of these changes:

  • Before bed, hot Epsom salt bath and put magnesium oil on
  • Go to bed at a decent hour
  • In the morning, light therapy box first thing (while still in bed or while I’m at my desk), along with Bragg’s ACV. With breakfast, I take my multi-vitamin and Vitamin D3.
  • Throughout the day, drink water every hour and more often if you can. Set a timer if you need help remembering.
  • Around 2:00 I will have another Bragg’s ACV and if I need it, another 20 minutes of light therapy.

I still have to keep on myself about getting to bed at a decent hour, which is so difficult for me because I’m a night owl, but I’m getting better and sticking to my plan. And I truly have seen results from doing this, so it does give me the motivation to keep going and if I mess up one day and forget to take my vitamins or forget to get to bed on time, it will be just fine. I can start fresh tomorrow 🙂 Just keep in mind that it’s not a sprint, you’re building a strong foundation and that will take time and effort.

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source: Twitter

I hope that you are able to find something useful in my posts to help you make your own positive changes towards better health. In my next post, I will be sharing the specific exercises that I used to kick off my health journey this year, so be sure to check back as I continue on with the “Taking Back My Health” series. 

If you haven’t already, be sure to head over to MY HOME PAGE and sign up on the right side to receive my posts directly to your email. That way you won’t miss a thing! Thanks for being here!

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Why All Of The Changes?! {Post #2 in the “Taking Back My Health” series}

In our last post, I shared goals that I had set for myself for 2014. When it came time to review them… well, let’s just say that there is a lot of room for improvement on my part, that’s for sure! Today I’m excited to share with you the second part of this little mini-series that I’ve titled “Taking Back My Health.”

For the past year or so, I have shared here and there about a few health issues that I have experienced. My health started to decline after we moved from south Florida in 2011 (significantly less exposure to the sun for Vitamin D can really do that), but, honestly, I haven’t really taken care of my body since I was in high school, if ever. If you know me, you’re probably wondering how that can be. At 5’9″, 145 lbs (at the start of my health journey), and a thin to medium body frame, it would seem that I should be fairly healthy, right? But I wasn’t. In today’s society, “health” is often defined as how thin a person appears. How naive can we, as a society, be?! So what if I was 145 pounds and thin?! I promise you, there was not an inkling of true health in that body! There are many factors that influence our overall health and every person’s body is created uniquely. This is my journey.

My body was extremely worn down. I spent years neglecting and abusing my body- not giving my body the proper nutrition, not exercising, rarely drinking water, only getting about 4-5 hours of sleep a night, and a host of other harmful behaviors. Years of doing this damage to my body were finally starting to surface as I dealt with side effects such as extreme exhaustion and thyroid issues (I strongly suspect this may have led to a miscarriage I had back in 2012).

“Extreme exhaustion” may not sound like much, but let me describe to you how this type of exhaustion affected me. I had very little sleep (anywhere between 2-5 hours a night). I would wake up in the morning and “need”… wait for it… 2-4 cups of strong coffee (not counting the additional 2 cups of coffee I would have in the afternoon!) to even feel remotely awake and able to function. For the next couple of hours, I would be in a fog. Physically- I was sluggish, mentally- I was incoherent. Within just two hours of being awake, I was already exhausted and had to take a nap. This continued throughout the day and was a daily struggle of mine. I barely had enough strength to lift objects. I had a husband, toddler, dogs and a home to care for. Something was about to give.

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source: Twitter

I’m sharing all of this with you not to congratulate myself on my efforts to pull myself out of this mess. Nope. Not even close because I’m still in the very beginning of getting out of this pit. That’s right. It’s been a tough and ugly battle to take back my health and I’m still in the beginning of it all. But this is something that I have to do.

MY MINDSET IS: IT’S DO OR DIE. 

I’m not trying to be theatrical, but honestly, if my health continued to decline any further, something would suffer, something would die. In my life, it would have been quality time with my husband and son. There was no possible way that I could enjoy every precious moment with my family when I could barely keep my eyes open for two hours. There was no way that I could keep up with my active son when I could barely lift and carry him without getting exhausted.

This is my journey towards health. And not just health. My goal is to be in better shape and healthier than I have ever been. I’ve set some pretty extreme short term and long term goals for myself. Someone recently shared something that’s impacted my way of thinking: WE CAN’T GO BIG IF WE PLAY IT SAFE!

I’m going public with my story and my journey to share with others out there because there is someone who is struggling through something very similar. I’m a solid month into my journey towards better health now.  I took the first step– to get up and start my journey. You can, too! Stick with me through the next few posts and I will share with you the very specific goals that I set for myself and also the exercises and specific changes that I made to get started and make sure that my efforts were successful.

If you haven’t already, be sure to head over to MY HOME PAGE  and sign up on the right side to receive my posts directly to your email. That way you won’t miss a thing!

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Homemade Face and Body Scrub

I once heard a saying that beauty products that we use on our skin should be healthy enough to eat.

Why in the world would I want to eat my face scrub?! Well, not that you should, but I said that you can 😉 Many people think that’s unrealistic or just plain weird. Whatever your opinion is, that principle certainly is something to think about. Think about the products that you currently use on your skin. Are they safe enough to eat? Most likely the answer is no. Most beauty products are loaded with chemicals and preservatives. Many of us love the idea of more natural products, but the prices can be jaw-dropping. So for those who are interested in learning how to make your own beauty products at home, I will be sharing with you homemade recipes for a few beauty products.

Today we are going to start with a simple Homemade Face and Body Scrub from Delight Thyself. This recipe is made with four simple ingredients, is fairly inexpensive to make and you may already have some of the ingredients in your pantry.

** 2/12/2014 update- Delight Thyself website is no longer running. She may have moved to another site and I just don’t have her updated information, so unfortunately I had to take the link to her page down. However, I have created a recipe card to share her recipe. You can find that below.

It’s been 2 years since I first tried this homemade recipe and I still make and use this product today! I absolutely love it!** 

Photo Credit: Delight-Thyself

Sugar Scrub recipe card

The great thing about homemade products is that you can adjust the amounts that you use. For example, if you prefer less coconut oil (which I have found to be the case for me), then you can cut back on it or leave it out completely.

Just be sure that when you use this not to scrub the living daylights out of your skin- be gentle! And be sure to use some type of moisturizer after you have washed and dried your skin. Why? It’s my understanding that once you scrub, wash and dry your face, without some type of light moisturizer afterwards, your body will overproduce oils to help moisturize your skin. The alternative to store-bought moisturizers that I use is a little bit of olive oil on a cotton ball. A little bit of it goes a long way, so I literally only use about a dime-sized amount.

I hope this recipe helps to give you a good start on making your own beauty products at home. I will be adding more homemade beauty product recipes soon, so please be sure to check that out.

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