Clean Eating is Key!

We’ve all seen or heard of it. The “What The Health?” documentary on Netflix? Yes, that. All of sudden, so many people were determined to live a vegan lifestyle, cutting meat and dairy completely from their diet and replacing it with plant-based foods. I attempted this myself initially… for five whole days, then I immediately went back to eating my usual foods which consisted of yogurt, cheese, and my favorite…chicken!

I can’t say that I’ll ever be 100% vegan (umm, hello Thanksgiving and Christmas!). However, I am taking some steps to modify my diet in terms of cleaner eating. During the months of January and February, I practiced better eating habits over the weekends which were usually my pig out days. On the fitness side, I completed a minimum of 16 workouts each month (4 per week), which is something I will continue to do.

My main objective in the coming month is to modify my eating habits even more so that it pairs well with my new workout regimen in hopes of dropping a little bit of weight and lowering my body fat percentage.

Last month, I purchased some Gardein products to add some meatless options to my weekly meal prep. Remember when I said I would share some of my favorite meal prep ideas? Well, here goes my first attempt at it. Continue reading

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One month down, 11 to go!

Well, well, well. We’ve made it one month into the New Year. How are those goals going? Has the motivation began to fade away? I sure hope not! As I stated in my first blog post of the year, I’ve decided to break my overall goals into monthly attainable goals. Here’s a recap of my January goals:

  1. Pay off my final credit card bill
  2. Lose 3-4 pounds
  3. Maintain a weekly workout schedule of 2 days cardio and 2-3 days strength training
  4. Eat more fruits and vegetables daily
  5. Reduce carbohydrates and add more lean protein to diet
  6. No eating after 8:30pm (even on weekends!)
  7. Blog more often 😊

I am happy to report that my final credit card bill has been paid off! This was originally a goal I had for 2017 that was just one month delayed, but it still got done either way! This goal coincides with my overall 2018 goal which is to keep my credit card balance at $0. My rule is, if it’s something that can’t be paid off within 30 days…DON’T SWIPE!

It seems as though people only set goals related to their health and fitness in the New Year. Don’t get me wrong. That is definitely a priority. However, it is also important to think about your financial fitness. Do you have an emergency funds account? A savings account? Do you actually deposit money into those accounts on a regular basis? Even if you’re not saving up for something specific, it’s essential to have what they call a “rainy day” fund because you just never know when you might need some extra funds. Or, God forbid, if a crisis were to happen, you would want to have a nice cushion to fall back on.

My main goal at this point when it comes to my finances is to pay off my remaining debt which is all student loans…from two degrees. *insert ugly cry here* Another financial goal of mine is to deposit (at minimum) $100 per month into my savings account. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s better than $0. This is money that I will not be able to touch, under any circumstance. It’s for saving purposes only. As I continue to pay down my debt a little more, then I will be able to increase the amount that I put into my savings account. Hey, baby steps! Continue reading

5 Simple Ways to Boost Your Immune System

…and hopefully avoid getting sick!

In case you haven’t heard, the flu epidemic is running rampant this season, and it seems as though the recommended flu shot hasn’t been the most proven method to avoid it. There are differences in opinions when it comes to the flu shot. Does it really work? Does it inject the virus inside of you and end up making you sick? I don’t have the answers, but I do know that regardless of if you’ve ever gotten a flu shot in the past, or like me, have never had one and don’t plan on getting one, there are still many preventative methods to consider. Please note, the steps listed in this blog are my own personal ways that I attempt to maintain a healthy immune system, not only during flu season, but year-round.

Add Vitamin C to your daily diet.

This can come in the form of a daily multivitamin once a day or naturally from the foods you eat. Some options high in vitamin C include fruits such as oranges, kiwis, strawberries, pineapples, papayas, and mangoes; and vegetables such as kale, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and bell peppers. Read more on this here. I take a regular over-the-counter vitamin C tablet every morning with my breakfast. I tend to switch from a 500mg to a 1000mg during the winter months since germs seem to be more in the forefront during that time. I’ve also incorporated more fruits and vegetables into my diet so that I’m pumping in vitamin C throughout the entire day.

Maintain an exercise routine.

In an article titled, “Why Exercise Boosts the Immune System, it states, “outside of just keeping you in shape and helping you to become healthier over time, exercise can boost your immune system and help your body fight off harmful diseases and even something as simple as the common cold. Though doctors are continuing to do research on the link between exercise and the immune system, they have discovered some simple truths that impact how exercise can help.” So for all of you are jump starting (or maintaining) some form of a workout regimen, this added benefit should be even more motivation to not just make it a phase, but a lifestyle. Continue reading

Focus on Your Physical and Mental Well-Being!

Even though it’s a New Year and the top goal for everyone is to workout more and jumpstart a healthy lifestyle, this is something that should really be a top priority all year-round. I’ve always been one to go to the gym, so for me, although I am happy that people are taking their health seriously (for now), at the same time, I already know that this sudden, massive influx of people crowding all the machines at the gym will most likely fizzle out by mid-February.

Sometimes it takes an internal reality check for people to really make a change…and stick to it. For me, my reality check was when I rejoined a gym last November after a four-month gap, and did a fitness assessment with a trainer. They noted my weight, body measurements, and body fat percentage. Hearing some of those numbers almost made me want to cry, but I knew that I had fallen off the wagon and had no one to point the finger at but myself.

Click image for full size.

For others, they may need an external reality check such as visiting a doctor to get them to take their health seriously. Hims recommends the following checkups to make sure 2018 is your healthiest year yet. This handy chart provides a cheat sheet of when specific age groups need preventative screenings, immunizations, and additional checkups, and the frequency of when they should go. Did you know that 92% of Americans believe it’s important to get a yearly physical, yet only 62% of them actually do? Use this checklist as your guide and don’t wait to schedule those appointments!

In addition to making sure my annual checkups are on schedule, I’m also focusing on my physical and mental well-being throughout the year by implementing the following:

  • Attending Yoga at least once a week
  • Prepping all meals at home and only dining out 1-2 times per week—primarily on weekends
  • Taking time to journal/meditate and write more. It’s my personal form of therapy 😊

What steps do you plan on taking to focus on a healthier you, both physically and mentally?

Need some more motivation? Check out my previous blog post “Get Up and Get Movin’!” for even more tips to help you step into 2018 making sure your health is a top priority and not just a temporary trend.

The Start of Something New

We already know what a New Year means. It’s a reset button. A chance to start anew. An opportunity to establish new habits and a whole new outlook on life. For me, it’s a combination of all those things—along with some rollover of what I’ve already been doing, but just want to enhance.

Every year, a few members of my family and I, create a list of New Year’s Resolutions. We’re pumped up and say we’re really going to make big things happen this year. Then, somehow, all our goals and steps towards those goals just fall into the abyss.

I’ve decided this year, as I did with my 30 Before 30 list, to use this blog to hold myself truly accountable. I’ve already made my list of 10 goals for the year and will do quarterly check-ins with my family to provide status updates along the way. However, for blogging purposes, I’m going to create monthly steps that will help me reach my overall goals. I find that it’s easier to sort things into smaller task items instead of being overwhelmed with a huge goal and not even knowing how you’re going to start chipping away at it.

Without further ado, here are my goals for the month of January:

  1. Pay off my final credit card bill
  2. Lose 3-4 pounds
  3. Maintain a weekly workout schedule of 2 days cardio and 2-3 days strength training
  4. Eat more fruits and vegetables daily
  5. Reduce carbohydrates and add more lean protein to diet
  6. No eating after 8:30pm (even on weekends!)
  7. Blog more often 😊

What are some things you want to accomplish this year? Comment below and let’s hold each other accountable to reach those goals!

Spring Cleaning 101

The time of year has come. A little delayed for some. But either way, this season calls for one of my very favorite things to do…PURGE! Whether old objects that are collecting dust, clothing that you KNOW don’t fit anymore, shoes that are beginning to have an unwanted conversation, and items you’ve been holding on to that would actually be put to use in the possession of someone else — spring cleaning is a wonderful thing!

You can choose to look at it as, “out with the old, in with the new.” But I prefer to look at it as, “poof, be gone!” Clutter is something I despise, so if I see things beginning to pile up on my desk, in the closet, in organizer bins, even in our favorite junk drawer, I feel the urge to start sorting through specific areas one-by-one and then deciding what can be thrown away or what can be merged into another area. A little advice, don’t try to attempt to clean everything in one day, especially if you have a larger space to worry about. Sometimes when you get started, it is hard to stop. However, if you assign different areas for different days, it won’t seem as overwhelming and you’ll have the energy to be even more productive.

I tend to have purges of my own every two to three months. Since my last move, there have been bins in my closet and under my desk that I haven’t opened for over five years! It was a little overwhelming at first, but once I mustered up the energy to get started, I was able to sort through tons of things and even reminisce on things that I completely forget I had.

Here are a few things to take into consideration when beginning a massive purge of your own: Continue reading

Mother Nature, May I Have A Word With You?

The forecast the morning of March 11, 2017 :-/

Of all the days available from December 21 to actually feel like winter, Mother Nature decided to select March 11, 2017 as the day to bring it in full force. And as I look out my window at the snow and freezing rain combination just six days shy of spring, I can see that she is truly a procrastinator this time around, waiting until the last minute like, “Oh yeah, it IS winter. Here ya go!

Now, I wouldn’t have been as bothered with her dropping cold weather upon us if I didn’t have to be outdoors for a prolonged period of time – on March 11 specifically. This date has been marked on my calendar since last year as my third half marathon with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Series and my fourth half marathon overall. Training weather during January and February was always shaky in the past, but this year it was perfect due to a rather mild winter. However, on the day that I needed this same type of weather (I would have even settled for 40-45 degrees), Mother Nature declared a high of 36 and a low of 24 degrees – wind chill not included. So basically, the entire race was ran in below freezing temperatures 😦

The start time for the half marathon was moved to 8:30am this year, so luckily the sun was already up and out that morning. It didn’t help immediately as my toes were frozen during the first two miles. By mile three, I was finally able to hit my groove a little until the dreaded mile six hill that ALL runners can sum up in one word – BRUTAL! By far, those last three miles were the hardest as leg cramps and tight calf muscles set in (Note to self: Invest in calf compression sleeves). At that point, all I wanted to do was finish. As the finish line was finally in view, an older African-American woman tapped me on my shoulder and said, “I just want you to know that I’ve followed you this whole time. I just kept looking up and said follow those legs, we got this.” Then we high-fived and congratulated each other as at last, we saw the end of a challenge that we were able to overcome.

I wasn’t completely happy with my time since it was 30 minutes slower than what I’ve done before, however, I had to give myself a pat on the back for even being out there in those conditions. For much of the race I was asking myself, “Yo, WHY am I out here?”, “Who DOES this?”, “Why is it sooooo cold?”, “Why didn’t I just opt to do the 5K instead?” But no, I am glad that I decided to be out there and go through this experience with other runners who were clearly thinking the same thing. Much of the conversations I overheard were runners admitting that it was brutal but the goal was to simply FINISH.

Congratulations to all the runners — whether veterans or first timers — for pushing through. We EARNED that medal! However, Mother Nature, would you mind leaving March 17, 2018 alone? I think you proved your point this year. Challenge Accepted. Challenge Overcame.

Welp, my 2017 #ChasingMedals adventure continues! One down, NINE to go! Next race: The Loudoun 8K on Saturday, April 22 followed by the OhioHealth Capital City Quarter Marathon on Saturday, April 29.

Money-Saving March

I’m all about challenges. Therefore, as it is my goal to slowly crawl out of debt, this month I’ve decided to put a rein around my excess spending and allocate those extra funds towards some of my outstanding debt instead *glaring at you Navient aka Sallie Mae*.

For the month of March, I plan to give myself a $25 weekly allowance (in cash) which is all I’ll be allowed to spend on “social” expenses, primarily on the weekends. My Monday through Friday is like clockwork. I make my coffee in a Keurig at home before work, I always pack a lunch, and then I make dinner for myself in the evenings when I get back home. As you can see, weekdays are not really the issue; it’s Saturday’s and Sunday’s where I tend to go a little crazy – especially when it comes to dining out.

With this allowance and having it in cash, it will help me be more cognizant of my spending and really evaluate whether something is worth it. We tend to mindlessly swipe our credit or debit cards without thinking twice whether something was a necessary purchase or something bought on impulse. Sometimes when the weekend is over, I go through buyer’s remorse and attempt to backtrack where so much of my hard-earned money went that had nothing to do with bills, gas, or groceries. $25 is definitely a difficult challenge but I’ve already started warming up to the idea. Here are a few tips to try to convince you that it is indeed doable:

  1. Go grocery shopping first thing Saturday morning (or Friday after work) to buy foods you can cook at home to limit what you spend dining out. Note: This will not be deducted from your $25 allotment, however, I do recommend putting yourself on some type of budget even with groceries
  2. Look for free activities taking place over the weekend. No one wants to spend the whole weekend in the house, but don’t let your bank account be the victim of your boredom
  3. Explore your town or city by taking a nice walk. You discover so much when taking in the sights on foot rather than in a car. It’s beneficial in three ways – it kills time, you learn about new places, and you get some cardio!
  4. Catch a matinee instead of going to the movies during full price
  5. If you’re going to a happy hour, dinner, or brunch, eat something at home first and then spend money on something inexpensive such as an appetizer or a drink while out with friends

I know, I know. You’re probably thinking this is CRAZY, but it really isn’t. If you’re the kind of person who may feel obligated to get something while out with friends, I strongly suggest that you preview the menu and see if you can get by on just an appetizer or a beverage. I once pre-ate before a friend’s birthday brunch because there was no way I could bring myself to pay $45 + tax for an unlimited brunch and bottomless mimosas. However, I still showed up and didn’t even feel out of place for not eating. I was there to celebrate my friend either way. I personally just don’t think it’s worth breaking the bank just to be social. There are ways you can still show up without having to dig too deep in your pockets, if at all.

The reason I’m so frugal these days is #1, I live in a rather EXPENSIVE city where cost of living is simply ridiculous! #2, I have long-term goals that make me evaluate what I’m spending money on in the present. #3, I made silly financial decisions in the past that I have learned from and don’t want to backtrack on my success. #4, SALLIE MAE. #5, Navient aka SALLIE MAE!

So, don’t think I’m just being a “Frugal Franny.” I have financial goals that I want to lay the foundation down for now, and want to have the credit score to match those goals. Hence, why I’m limiting my excess spending and trying to create a habit of monitoring and controlling what I do spend my extra funds on. $25 may not seem like a lot, but I definitely know how to stretch a dollar! 😉

Want to get in on the challenge? Give yourself a weekly dollar amount that you feel is realistic for you, then subtract it by $5 to make you work a little harder. Good luck!

Get Up and Get Movin’!

How living a sedentary lifestyle is tied to obesity and other health risks

Numbers don’t lie. Over 50% of the population in the United States are either overweight or obese. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third (36.5%) of U.S. adults have obesity. Also, the prevalence of obesity has remained fairly stable at 17% and affects about 12.7 million children and adolescents (aged 2-19 years).

In a digital age, there has been an increase in the amount of time spent on electronic devices rather than time spent outdoors and engaging in physical activity. For instance, Americans devote more than 10 hours a day to screen time (laptops, desktops, tablets, smartphones, video games, etc.), and the number is steadily growing.

In total, Americans sit an average of 13 hours a day and sleep an average of eight hours resulting in a sedentary lifestyle of around 21 hours a day. Furthermore, 70% of full time American workers hate sitting, yet 86% do it all day, every day. (Source: PRNewswire).

The Washington Post released an infographic in 2014 that broke down the health hazards that come from sitting for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis. The infographic shows the effects that sitting has on your body from head-to-toe and delves into the internal effects that are linked to both long term and even fatal diseases. For those who have no choice but to sit at their respective workplaces, it shows the proper posture to have while doing so, as well as a few stretches that can help loosen your muscles.

Listed below are options to consider incorporating into your day-to-day to increase physical activity: Continue reading

New Year. New Running Goals.

race-medals-current-count

Now that I have a nifty “Magical Miles” medal hanger, it only makes sense to add more to my count 😉 #ChasingMedals

Psst…I’m baaaaack. 🙂 My, oh my, it sure has been a while since my last blog post. But with a new year upon us, what better time than now to get back in the groove and make my comeback. For the past two years, I’ve kicked things off by training for my first race of the year – the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. 2017 won’t be any different, however, I’ve added a little more to my overall race goals this year.

2016 wasn’t my best running year since catching the running bug back in 2013 and completing my first medaled race in 2014. Early last year was the ultimate roller coaster. I was debating on whether I was going back home to Ohio. I was going through career obstacles, life challenges, and not to mention moving TWICE in one year! There was way too much going on to add “sign up and train for this race” to my already complicated task list. Overall, 2016 rewarded me with a whopping three race medals – a half marathon, a 5K, and a 10-miler. Out of all three of those races, I didn’t have a dedicated training plan but still managed to get through them.

Now that 2017 is here and a perfect time to start anew, I’ve decided to task myself with a goal of earning TEN race medals (with three being half marathons), as well as bumping up to the purple run level on the Nike Running Club app (1,552 total miles by the end of the year). 2015 was my best race year where I did my first ever half marathon in March and then was crazy enough to sign up for another one in September. This year, I guess I’ve gone madly insane as I want to do THREE half marathons. (No, I still will never do a full marathon!) Continue reading