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Life Hacks

How I Navigate Nutrition

I’m going to start out with a disclaimer: what works for me might not work for the next person. I am not for or against any sustainable diet that suits an individual best. This is only what I have learned over time through my own experiences and through the research that I have done. 

I am a former carb cycler and now practice flexible dieting by tracking my macros. I also follow a 80/20 rule of eating whole nutrient dense foods 80% of the time and 20% treat items. This helps me not feel so restricted in my food choices and allows me to enjoy certain foods that I love and crave (cookies:).

I have been “flexible dieting” for years now not with the full intention of losing weight but with the intention of becoming an expert at what I am putting into my body, how certain foods, and certain amounts of food make me feel physically and mentally, and with the intention of not getting hung up on “good” and “bad” foods but having flexibility to eat whatever I want.

This is the mindset that you need to get into when deciding to count and track your macros because it is not a quick fix solution. It can be challenging at times, it can feel obsessive at times, and it requires patience. What it is though is a very good tool to establish and create awareness.

I personally use carbon diet coach, an app for tracking my intake. There are many apps out there and some are free. Sometimes I track my food to a “T”, other days I loosely follow my macro numbers, but what I have learned over the years is to just do the best I can with tracking most days and if I have days where I overeat or lose track, I get over it and start new the next day, no biggie. I realize that every day is a new opportunity to hit those numbers and if you can hit them majority of the time you will be successful!

I am a big advocate for adequate protein in the diet as my experience in personal training and as a nurse, is by far the most important macronutrient for the body.

What I have gained insight more of in the last little while is also the importance of micronutrients as well. While it is great to be non restrictive with your diet, it is also very important to take in adequate nutrients. This results in feeling your best and beneficially over time looking your best as well (weight control, muscle tone, skin health etc). 

This is where my 80/20 rule really shines through. 80% of my diet includes nutrient dense foods including vegetables, fruits/berries, whole grains, legumes, lean meats, and polyunsaturated fats such as extra virgin olive oil.

It is best to get your nutrition from a wide variety of nutrient dense foods so I mix up my vegetables, fruits, and meats to get a wide variety of different nutrients. Alongside consuming lean meats I also have dabbled in vegan dishes with plant based proteins lately and have enjoyed many delicious meals so much that we alternate meat and vegetarian meals every night.

I have been lucky on the front that most foods that I consume don’t cause me discomfort (only when consumed in excess). This is not the case for everyone. There are many people out there who are gluten intolerant, lactose intolerant, require a low FODMAP diet, have multiple allergies. This is where the importance of body awareness comes into play.

Food journals are a great tool to document incidents of low energy, GI symptoms, migraines, aches and pains or feelings of guilt and shame around food as well. Becoming aware of your food choices can help you pinpoint ways to eat better and feel better and become more healthy in general. 

I am in no way saying nutrition can heal all. But if there was a chance your diet could heal an ailment or make you feel more alive and energetic, would you take it?

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Life Hacks

Find The Joy! (and maybe a side hustle along the way)

I haven’t been shy about my decision to cut back on my full time nursing job. Being a nurse is a really hard job. There are times that I absolutely love it, times that it really tests my patience and times it makes me question what I was thinking going into this career. Choosing to do this job part time has been the best decision ever. I find I am excited to go to work and carry out my shifts with way more enthusiasm.

By not working full time I am finding a lot of extra time on my hands. In our day and age it can be challenging to only work part time and make ends meet. I for one do not want to just “make ends meet” either, because I’ve vowed for a life full of greatness. For me, earning more money is not about being able to buy more stuff but more about how can I use extra money for good. Who can I support in there dreams? Who can I help catch a break in life? Who can I inspire?

So naturally I am heading for a side hustle. There is a lot of talk about this “side hustle” and how it might just be essential for our generation. So I’ve been humming and hawing about what exactly I want this side hustle to be!

I’ve been going back a fourth between putting more into personal training, or writing another book, but neither one of these things are really lighting a fire in me. At the end of the day I want to LOVE what I do. Get excited about new projects and enthusiastic about the process and not just the outcome. This is what a growth mindset is all about, focusing on the process, the work you put in, and a deep knowing that you will succeed no matter what as long as your learning.

So I’ve decided I’m just going to follow my joy! What I do love is writing these blog posts, I love to exercise, and spend time outside. I love training and concocting healthy meals for myself. So I’m taking the focus away from what “I think I need to do”, and more finding the little things that “I truly love to do”.

I’m going to continue to manifest the life that I want to be living, continue to work hard, learn, grow, and know eventually success will follow.

Are you exhausted from working full time? OR do you absolutely love what you do and enjoy going to work everyday?

If your not passionately in love with your day job i’m here to tell you that it is possible to lower your work hours and make it through. You can find a side hustle that you love or work on passion project on the side. You can do anything you desire as long as you keep believing in your dreams and moving forward!

Love

Frecklefit

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Life Hacks

My Fasting Experience

I recently have listened to a couple podcasts on what fasting is and what the health benefits of it are and why it can be effective for weight loss AND for overall improvement of health.

I learned a lot from the last podcast (The School of Greatness with Jason Fung) but I always take both sides to the story before making an informed decision which in this case was “to fast or not too fast”?

To be honest I’ve never considered doing it because what I do right now to stay healthy works for me and my current lifestyle. But this podcast intrigued me so I decided I was going to challenge myself to a 24hr fast.

I started out by digging into “why” am I doing it. I feel like it’s always important to do your research and not just do something because someone tells you “it’s healthy”. So here first are some common misconceptions that were debunked which ultimately intrigued me to give it a try.

  1. It will burn my muscle – This is false. Our bodies historically were built to fast going WAY back to the years with hunters and gatherers. Sometimes there wasn’t enough food so people were forced too fast. Our body mechanisms were designed this way, in which we could ultimately use our excess fat for energy and NOT our muscle. That being said if you are trying to BUILD muscle, fasting will absolutely hinder this process as you need nutrients to build.
  2. I will be hungry ALL day and suffer if I fasted – This was debunked as in the research, the hormone that makes us hungry is called Ghrelin. During a fast at some point ghrelin turns on but it peaks around 2 hours, drops, and doesn’t come back. So this means if I could make it past the 2 hour hunger surge I won’t feel hungry for the rest of the day. I wanted to give this theory a try (more later on this).
  3. If I don’t eat my body will go into starvation mode and my metabolism will slow down – False! There is no such thing as “starvation mode” but rather it is called metabolic adaptation. This happens over a period of time if you change up how many calories you eat, or the exercise you do, your metabolism will adjust. Sometimes when people diet their body gets so used to a very low caloric intake, their metabolisms are slow and if you eat anything above that maintenance level, it will start to store fat. Now this happens over a long period of time and is impossible to happen in just one day.

So now that I knew I wouldn’t lose my muscle or my metabolism in one day and that there may be a chance I won’t be hungry and miserable all day, I decided to try it out.

My why was giving myself a new mental challenge learning more about my body and how my mind works and maybe experiencing some health benefits too.

Some of the benefits described with fasting are:

  1. Body going through a “cleansing or detoxing effect”
  2. Regulation of blood sugar and insulin levels
  3. Reducing inflammation in the body

I first made a game plan and that was what I could consume. Some people choose to have about 500 cals during a 24hr fast but I decided to go hard core. What I allowed myself was:

  1. Black coffee
  2. Green Tea
  3. Herbal tea
  4. Soda waters
  5. BCAAs
  6. Vegetable broth (made from scratch)
  7. Zero cal electrolytes in my water

When I woke up I had a black coffee, went for a run, stretched, and went about my morning and usual activities.

I started to get hungry about four hours into the fast probably later than normal for me because I ate a lot before bed the night before. This was my ghrelin kicking in and it was quite intense for only about 1.5 hours. I distracted myself during this time and went for a light but long hike with the dogs. I found myself VERY thirsty from the hike because I forgot water and it was very clear that this was thirst and not hunger (should have been smarter and brought water).

I will say that I don’t believe the ghrelin did ever return BUT after that hike I was DONE for the rest of the day. I was sooo tired and lethargic, I didn’t want to do anything… I think from feeling so tired I thought that I was hungry because I know sometimes I get that way.

Everything I had such as the BCAAs, the veggie broth, the soda water was SOO good but that feeling didn’t last long enough to satisfy me. By 07:15pm I got CRANKY (poor Blair lol). Still don’t believe I was necessarily hungry but just really tired and cranky and wanted to give up and eat so bad. I made up my mind I’m never doing this shit again haha.

I cracked at 08:30 p.m. and had a diet gingerale which wasn’t necessarily “breaking” the fast because it was zero calories but I didn’t want to consume any artificial sweeteners in this fast, so I blew it there which I consciously at that time would rather drink that than ruin the whole thing.

I decided at the 24 hour mark I was going to have a casein protein shake as this is a slow digesting protein just to reintroduce something into my stomach before bed. Because I went to bed around 22:00, this ended up being more of a 32 hour fast with the exception of the protein shake.

I found I wasn’t starving in the morning either but really wanted to be careful of what I reintroduced into my body so had a nice light healthy breakfast to end it all off.

What I learned from this experience is:

  1. I think 16 hour fast to 8 hour feeds are TOTALLY doable if this is a method that works for you. I only got really miserable around the 20 hour mark so if you can push past the ghrelin surge each day than intermittent fasting could be a great option.
  2. How much I love coconut rice… I thought about coconut rice probably every hour on the hour haha At one point Blair and I decided what our last meals would be if we knew we were going to die, I chose butter chicken with coconut rice and naan bread. YUMMMMM! (Don’t suggest talking about this when fasting lol).
  3. The mental warfare that it takes to fast especially if your a foodie like me. It was WAY harder mentally than it was physically.
  4. I get really lazy and tired without fuel. I know they say if your doing a multiple day fast that after that initial day you start to feel great and energized but I don’t think I will ever have the disciple or the will to test out this theory.
  5. The experience of a fast. So if any of my clients want to try it out, now I can inform them of some things they may experience and how important it is to HAVE A PLAN! (Thats what got me through).

If you would like to learn more about fasting and the health benefits follow Dr.Steven Gundry, listen to Lewis Howes School of Greatness podcast with his episode and also the most recent one I listened to (which was endorsed by Dr.Steven Gundry) with Jason Fung.

Any questions or comments feel free to reach out:)

Frecklefit

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Life Hacks

Let’s Make a Christmas Plan!

I often talk a lot about how consistency is the key! It really is the truth and is also not easy to achieve, especially around the holidays!

I am here to tell you now that we ALL need to start making a game plan for Christmas time… Yes I know it’s only November and maybe this Christmas won’t be as heavy on the parties and get togethers, but by god there will be treats!

No COVID can stop us from making cookies, drinking baileys, and cooking up some five star comfort foods! This might actually be one of the hardest Christmas’s yet BECAUSE we are lacking the social stuff and potentially making up for it with the comfort food can bring.

As far as making a game plan for our exercise and nutrition, not everyones plan will look the same. For instance I personally do not do well with calorie cycling as I feel too restricted on days where I shouldn’t be consuming as much. I am not an intermittent faster as psychologically again I can’t deal with the restrictive hours, I’m to stubborn (haha).

But these methodologies may work really well for some and that is great! So let’s find what works best for you and stick to that and stay consistent. I will outline here a few strategies to avoid excessively over eating during the holidays, decide which one best fits your lifestyle and your personality, and start implementing them whenever you start to get into the Christmas fun and yum!

Strategy 1: Intermittent Fasting: The idea of intermittent fasting is picking a window to eat and picking a window too fast. Times can vary some examples being a 12:12, 14:10, 16:8. There is no right or wrong time scheme and will depend again on your lifestyle, your personality and also when you feel the most hungry. VERY important to note that if you choose to intermittent fast make sure you are eating a sufficient amount of protein as fasting can cause a muscle wasting effect. Try to hit 1.2g of protein per kg of weight at minimum. Also continue to drink lots of water even when you are fasting.

Strategy 2: Calorie Cycle: If you are someone who tracks your caloric intake this will be a very doable strategy. Pick two days out of the week where you are going to take in more calories and revolve these around your social events. For example you have a Christmas party on Wednesday and a family get together on Sunday. You will plan to eat more on those days by bringing your total caloric intake up and spreading out the caloric deficit throughout the rest of the days. This can be done easily with the carbon diet coach app. If you don’t use an app then add up your total calories for the week (daily calories x7), decide on your high calorie days and how much you will consume and subtract those two days from the weekly total. Next divide the rest of your calories by 5. VERY important again to try and hit those protein goals everyday despite what other foods you are indulging in or enjoying.

Strategy 3: Carb Cycling: This is similar to calorie cycling except it is more focused on macros. Because holiday foods and parties seem to be really carb heavy, this can be a great strategy to balance out your macro nutrients with low carb days. Pick 2 or 3 days out of the week where you will do a lower carb day. Make sure these days are NOT the Christmas party or get together days. Often I’ve benefitted from these days being the day AFTER the party to get you back on track of healthy eating. On low carb days you simply keep your protein intake the same, you raise the amounts of fat you are going to intake (preferably unsaturated fat). Simultaneously you lower the amount of carb intake for the day. Try to keep the carbs you do have earlier in the day and stick to a strict low to no carb at night (or last meal of the day).

Strategy 4: Flexible Dieting: This will personally be my strategy this year. Again keep your daily protein intake the same, making sure it’s sufficient. At the beginning of each day PLAN your treats! I always follow an 80/20 rule of eating being 80% whole, nutrient dense foods with 20% treat foods. Around Christmas time I am going to lower my standards to 70/30. Each morning or the day before (whenever you do your meal planning) figure out what kind of deliciousness you are going to consume that day- christmas cookies, pie, hot chocolate and baileys, Christmas Mac and cheese (this is making me hungry lol). ALLOW yourself a treat everyday because it’s fricken Christmas time! Then work your meals around this treat. Plan to have a nice healthy breakfast with lots of fruit, have some veggies for lunch and supper, get those micronutrients in and also… get your protein in:) Then ENJOY those treats everyday and feel the Christmas spirit.

IF YOU SLIP UP, if you overindulge, if you go over your calories, if you under consume protein, FORGIVE YOURSELF! Move on because every morning is a chance to start over and try again. If you wallow in shame or guilt you are more likely to just throw your hands up and say SCREW my health. Your mental health is the biggest priority, your physical health comes in at a close second so don’t give up and find that balance.

As for exercise, now is a great time to make a Christmas exercise schedule or hire a personal trainer to make one for you! If you go hard now and really challenge yourself with your workouts this month you are going to feel a lot better going into the dangerous delicious Christmas season. Mentally you will be better equip to handle the temptations and fight through the binge remorse if it happens. Physically your body will better handle the extra calories and maybe even build a little muscle if you stay consistent with your protein:)

Hope this is encouraging for you all to plan now! It’s almost time to get your Christmas cheer on, it will come sooner than you realize:)

Frecklefit

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Life Hacks

Exercise at Home!

This is exercise at home… me putting my slippers on after my workout to stretch it out! Got to keep those toesies warm.

In all seriousness, right now going to the gym is highly frowned upon and in many areas around the world, banned. There is a lot of body fluids swarming around the gym, even when wearing a mask. Keep yourselves safe and exercise at home!

I know it is hard. When I first started doing it I struggled. I still do struggle but kind of in a different way that I’m finding beneficial. It may not benefit my workout to take extra time between sets to sweep the floor but my house benefits from it! I’m finding though too that I’m burning extra cals between sets doing little chores here and there haha

I’m always about finding the positives in not what is negative about a situation, but what the possibilities may be! For me the possibilities have turned into:

-as mentioned, a clean house

-dance parties between sets

-my partner becoming motivated by seeing me workout

-playing with my dogs in between sets (keeping them entertained)

-wearing whatever I want (no pants dance some days)

-blasting whatever music I like with no headphones

-taking selfies and videos when I get inspiration (without the embarrassment)

-going the extra mile due to extra time (save time on the commute)

I know many of us lack the heavy weights which we loved or utilizing our favourite machines but this also causes us to mix things up, to increase volume, and to try new exercises hitting different muscle groups.

My favourite at home equipment:

-glute band!

-long band

-kettlebell

-good quality yoga matt

-stability ball or bosu ball

Surprisingly you can do a whole lot with just these things. Even better if you can get a good universal set of dumbbells or a barbell with some easy take on, take off, weights.

The most important concept with working out at home is doing the exercises you like, picking the equipment you like to use, and making every workout your own and making it fun!

If you are struggling with what to do or where to go for new workouts that you will enjoy, seek out a personal trainer! A lot of us are highly motivated, right now especially, and committed to put our all into making great programs for our clients especially in this time of crisis.

Hope your making a new at home workout playlist as we speak:)

xoxoxo

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Life Hacks

Follow Your Instincts

It’s crazy how every single little piece of your life can end up linking up somehow. How little details connect and how something that may feel pointless at the time ends up being the just the thing you needed to learn or do.

This has happened to me in such a big way recently with my career, I have come full circle and have a hybrid job of ALL the nursing areas I’ve worked and personal training and related research I have done.

I recently started a new job as a home care nurse which is a whole new field of nursing for me. The learning curve has been quite intense and it has been a bit stressful starting off but I have hit a few moments where I realize this may just be the perfect job for me.

First piece of the puzzle was created when my first nursing job on complex care got turned over by the government to a COPD unit. I was devastated at the time but it ended up pushing me to expand past this unit and to learn new important nursing areas. Working on that COPD unit gave me very valuable knowledge that fits perfectly into my job today.

Part of my home care job includes visiting homes with COPD clients and monitoring there oxygen and breathing, something I wouldn’t have had experience in hadn’t the government strip my first job that I loved away from me. I feel very capable and confident in helping these people today because of it.

Second piece of my puzzle came back when I decided to become a personal trainer I had no clue why I was doing it. I had a full time job as a nurse already, I had a good routine going with my own fitness but something was just telling me to do it and at the time I had found my love for learning again.

I thought maybe I wanted to quit nursing and do personal training full time and I wrote a blog on this experience at the time and how a job opportunity just didn’t work out and that I was meant to be doing what I was doing at the time. I thought maybe I wanted to be an online influencer or life coach and that’s what brought about my instagram and this blog, but in the end I was just doing it out of pure enjoyment.

B another part of my job today includes diabetes education and wound care/healing. Because of all I learned wearing my personal trainer hat I now have the knowledge to teach about nutrition and proper protein intake for wound healing, all things we don’t learn in great detail in nursing school.

I found myself this week with a client who was concerned that her wounds weren’t healing so I discussed in great detail protein and what they could include in their diet.

Another client had a bad shoulder and it had worsened after a stroke and surgery to their carotid artery putting strain on her shoulder. I was able to go through some safe shoulder exercises and pain relieving measures that didn’t include increased narcotic intake both things I don’t think I would have thought of hadn’t it been for my personal training background.

This brings me to my third big piece of my puzzle my palliative care job. I enjoyed floating to this unit initially but never knew I wanted to work there until the opportunity presented itself. I followed my instincts and had an incredible experience there.

My home care job today also includes palliative care. Had I not followed my instincts and taken on this job I wouldn’t have had all the knowledge and skills that I do today to support these people who wish to die in their homes.

I’m not really sure why I applied for this home care company other than my instincts telling me to. I soon discovered that I get to use every single puzzle piece of knowledge that I have gathered over the last five years.

Because of following all my instincts and gathering these pieces of the puzzle I feel like everything has fallen into place perfectly for me during this period of my life.

But not only has my ongoing learning of health and fitness helped me during my career and career changes but it’s given me valuable lessons on taking care of myself and how to destress when times are more stressful or busy in life. I’ve been staying true to my own fitness goals and meditation during these crazy times because I know how important that is and if I will continue to preach these things I better be practicing them right?

I know things/careers/living situations will continue to change and I will continue to grow and learn and my puzzle probably isn’t even half built yet, but I’ve built a level of trust with myself that cannot be broken so I can continue to follow my heart and help and benefit so many people along the way.

So I’m starting to realize that it may be time to take my influencer hat off and go full into my new job. I want to learn all I can and embrace new education opportunities to rock this job as best as I can. I will continue to just ride my instinct waves, practice gratitude, and stay healthy and happy along the amazing journey of life.

I’m very lucky to have the education, knowledge, and opportunities I’ve had to learn and grow and if you have opportunity for growth, to learn something new, and expand your knowledge, take it and run with it. Listen to your instincts because trust me; their never wrong!

xoxoxo

Frecklefit

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Life Hacks

Rethink your meals!

Meal 1: Breakfast
Protein sources: high protein bread, wow butter, egg whites
Meal 2: Second Breakfast
Protein source: nitrite free deli honey ham
Meal 3: Lunch
Protein Source: High protein muffins containing eggs, cottage cheese, quinoa
Meal 4: Supper
Protein source: Chicken breast
Meal 5: Second Supper
Protein source: Higher protein homemade muffin, wow butter

When I was growing up my meals consisted of breakfast, lunch, and supper. Like most families. Sometimes there would be after school snacks or bed time snacks thrown in but meals were meals and snacks were snacks.

Meals were always big. They always were portioned with your carbs, proteins, and sometimes fats (or things were cooked with oil).

Snacks were snacky foods. Crackers, cheese, popcorn etc. They were supposed to be small but didn’t always end up that way. I think the term used now is “snackcident”.

I think a lot of us grew up with this framework of eating and grew accustom to it. I eat in a very similar way still but instead my five meals are what I consider “meals”.

Here is my definition of meal:

  1. In a “meal” there should ALWAYS be a source of protein.
  2. It should be portioned in a way that you can have five in a day without over eating
  3. It should completely satiate you (you should feel satisfied after and not “still hungry”)

The reason why I like to refer this eating pattern as meals rather than snacks is that I find snacking can get way out of control. If you throw in a snack here and there I find it either doesn’t fill you up and leaves you really hungry before your next meal and causes over eating. Or secondly you mindlessly munch without portioning and end up eating more snacks and eat more during those snack period sometimes than you would during a meal.

The best way that I find to eat or lay out my day of eating is to aim to eat every three or four hours. This makes for your five meals per day. These meals are planned and portioned so you don’t have any “snackcidents” or overeating incidents.

Every time you start eating your body starts a whole process of releasing certain digestive hormones, secreting insulin to control blood sugars, and inducing protein synthesis. This is important in terms of controlling blood sugars and with building muscle as well.

When you include a protein with every meal and are turning on protein synthesis just by eating. You are aiding in maintaining or building a leaner physique (accompanied by training of course). Not to mention this way of eating is also a lot easier on your digestive system.

Unless you are an intermittent faster and that works and is sustainable for you to do long term. Consider eating five small meals per day. Never let yourself get too hungry and get creative with your meals too.

One great idea that saves some brain work and planning is to plan out to have the same meal twice in one day. Especially if it’s tacos… Each taco here contains just under 500 calories and has 28 grams of protein each. Perfectly portioned each but would be way to much for one meal. Also was super psyched to have this meal twice.

Eating or feeding doesn’t always have to look like breakfast, lunch, and supper. Save yourself from mindlessly snacking all day. Think outside the box and think more about portion sizing and fully satisfying yourself with each and every meal.

Happy Eats!

Frecklefit

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Life Hacks

Isolation Routines

Things have been so different for everybody these days during the world pandemic. Everyone is forced to stay inside most of the day which means doing what you normally would have done in a day has drastically changed. People are forced out of their daily routines and frankly a lot of people have lost routine altogether.

I truly believe that having a daily routine helps to keep you grounded. It helps with anxiety and panic and also helps with productivity and planning. Not only is routine great for adults but especially for kids as well.

Now that were right in the middle (or maybe the beginning) of all this, who knows, we should all be striving to come up with some sort of routine to organize the day and keep yourself from losing sight on your future goals and dreams.

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of not knowing what to do next so I’m going to just watch Netflix all day. Very appealing as well but where is that going to get you when all of this ends?

This pandemic is the PERFECT opportunity for so many to grow. To learn about things you’ve been wanting to learn about. To take that online course you wanted to try out. To read that book you’ve been eyeing up for months now. To start writing the book you always wanted to write. To write some music, poems, journal entries whatever it is. Keep your brain active, follow what your passionate about, and get INSPIRED!

Now that I have finished up my job and am laying low for the next few weeks it took me a few days but I have a great routine in place. It took trial and error but I am now embracing this time to the FULLEST.

Here is an example of my daily routine:

  1. Wake up and meditate
  2. Make a big breakfast and eat on my couch in front of my big window
  3. Make a coffee and write, blog, or read
  4. Mix up some BCAAs and workout
  5. Make lunch and eat
  6. Take the dogs for a nice long walk

That’s it and the rest is open for whatever!

This routine is GREAT for me but all routines should fit your own lifestyle and habits. There are a few non negotiable that should ABSOLUTELY be included in your daily routine.

  1. Meditate or take some quiet time for yourself (ESPECIALLY if you have kids you need that break)
  2. Move your body – doesn’t have to be a big intense work out everyday but a walk/bike ride or a yoga session etc.
  3. Exercise your brain (read or write)

If your stuck on the Netflix wagon try to set some guidelines for yourself. Make yourself read at least one chapter or article BEFORE watching any TV for the day. Or make yourself get your exercise in FIRST. Then you can enjoy your Netflix guilt free.

I know these are trying times for everybody and there is so much uncertainty out there but coming up with a good routine and keeping yourself well mentally and physically is the best thing you can do to come out of this even better!

Use this time to your advantage as much as you can and don’t take the extra time at home for granted!

xoxoxo

Frecklefit

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Life Hacks

Sleep and it’s Affects on Weight Loss

My actual sleep position… when Blair isn’t home lol

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about how effective sleep can aide with weight loss and improve your overall health. Of course my curious brain is wondering why and how? So I read a very informative book called Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. Matthew has been researching and studying sleep for over twenty years. Although this book kind of gave me a little bit of anxiety about sleep, it deeply emphasized its importance and inspired this blog.

Before I get into why sleep is important for weight loss I will list a few very interesting points on how sleep can improve your overall general health. But first we have to address exactly how much sleep you actually need. According to this scientific book and all the reattach done the answer is eight to nine hours. Any less than that and you will not be able to perform, think, work, learn, or live at your ABSOLUTE best.

Yes there are times where eight hours is just not plausible due to our busy lives including high work demands or crazy schedules, kids, special events or conferences. Your best bet is to TRY your best at getting the eight hours that you need.

Another important thing to add is that there is no such thing as “catching up on sleep”. I know I know, I was upset to hear this fact too but according to the research it is just not a thing, because your body needs to go through all the stages of the different sleep cycles each night to be at maximal focus and productivity.

One big reason you need the different stages of sleep cycles is due to memory. Sleep plays a big role in memory and your ability to learn. Each specific cycle of sleep effects different types of your memory but mainly effects and enhances what you have recently be learning (short term memory).

Sleep also boosts your immune system preventing different sicknesses, ailments, diseases, and infections. Sleep increases and enhances your telomeres preventing different cancers. Sleep lowers your blood pressure and heart rate protecting your cardiovascular system from strokes or heart attacks. Sleep fine tunes your balance of insulin and circulating glucose preventing diabetes. Sleep increases your creativity. Sleep keeps you emotionally stable preventing mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. Adequate sleep also increases your “sleep spindles” which further enhance athletic performance.

So now let’s talk weight loss. How does sleeping eight hours each night aide in weight loss?

When we don’t sleep enough our body becomes “stingy” about losing fat. In a weight loss study done, each group was monitored closely and provided food which caused them to be in a caloric deficit. One group was only allowed to have 5 1/2 hours or sleep and the other 8 hours. Each group did lose weight but the group with less sleep lost 70% of weight from lean body mass (muscle). The group with adequate sleep only lost 30% of weight from lean body mass. Therefore proving sleep can help maintain lean tissue (the weight you want to keep).

Contrary to what some people believe, if we stay awake longer we do NOT burn more calories as sleep is actually an intensely metabolic state for brain and body. In fact if were lacking sleep were likely to be more sedentary and less willing to exercise.

The more tired we are the more hungry we are as well. Lack of sleep actually makes our hunger hormones irregular (leptin and ghrelin). This makes us think we’re more hungry then we actually are. Throw in there also more time we have in the day to eat if we’re not sleeping.

Sleep enhances and maintains a flourishing microbiome within the gut which helps with proper bodily functions including the digestion process.

Lack of sleep also throws our emotions and rationale out of whack causing us to emotionally eat. You may have heard the term “hangry” before, probably coined from someone who was very tired combined with not eating in a while.

So here are all the factors lined out for you if you have not been getting adequate sleep, which can cause either your body to either resist weight loss or continue to gain weight:

-body is stingy about “fat” loss (can lose muscle rather than fat)

-tired, lazy, more sedentary which equals less calories burned

-increased caloric intakes due to time spent awake

-hunger hormones irregular causing increase in caloric intake

-emotionally labile causing a decrease in impulse control and making more rash food decisions

-decrease in food satisfaction as well causing a bad relationship with food

These are just the summarized key take aways from the book I read and if you wanted more detail on the research you can read the book for yourselves. So what does the book recommend for a better night sleep?

Here is a list of non-pharmalogical ideas to enhance or get a better nights sleep (book highly does NOT recommend sleep aides for a number of different reasons):

-Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption especially after a certain time of day (preferably after noon).

-Limit screen time (phones, computers, TVs, iPads) within an hour or two before bed.

-Dim lights in the evening and sleep in the dark (can utilize sleep mask).

-Have your room cold or cool at night.

-Avoid napping in the evening.

-Mentally decelerate before bed (spend time with loved ones, meditate, read).

-Avoid clock watching or turn clock away once settled into bed.

-If all else fails and sleep is becoming a huge ongoing problem for you consider trying cognitive behavioural therapy.

Happy Sleeping Everybody!

Frecklefit

Categories
Life Hacks

Create more Willpower

Let’s talk willpower. It is something that is learned over time and unfortunately does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of practice and of course the true desire to develop it. People who say they don’t have any willpower probably simultaneously have never tried to develop it or have no true intentions to start. You can complain about it all you want but it is not a force from your inner being that will magically appear, you have to work at it.

Will power is a lot like delaying gratification. Rather than giving yourself a short term reward you delay for a greater long term goal or feeling. Sometimes we often get mixed signals from our body. We start to feel hungry even though we just ate or see something delicious and immediately decide, I need this… like right now! Sometimes our mind takes over complete control rather than receiving and listening to signals from our body.

More and more I’ve come to understand that the majority of the time this is caused by some kind of psychological issue. How many people do you know who stress eat? You probably know a good handful of people if not more and I know personally I used to as well. Because food can be so comforting sometimes and it seems like such a quick fix to make yourself feel better instantly. 

How many people eat out of boredom? This used to be me to a T. And I’ll admit I still do sometimes. Eating is so social and can be an activity at times that fills your day. Sometimes when you just don’t know what to do next, we make a snack. 

So what happens when you get offered something and you feel that the other person may get offended if you don’t eat it? Or may judge you because they have insecurities themselves?

Believe me this situation has occurred in my life SO many times. Because I used to be a people pleaser I would eat it to make THEM feel better… Can anyone else relate?

The key here is to be selfish in this situation. Think about you and nobody else. They will forgive you if you don’t eat the cake they made just for you and life will move on. Quit trying to please other people in ways that don’t serve your own soul.

There are polite ways to refuse. I use my peanut allergy a lot, stating “sorry I have a severe allergy to peanuts and just don’t want to take any risks”. You can state you have any allergy out there or even an intolerance and people won’t push you to eat anything. Another excuse I use is “I just ate and I am really full but thanks for the offer”. If they give you a piece for later take it and give it to someone who would enjoy it.

So the key to developing will power is taking back the control. Control of your body and control of your mind. It all starts with becoming self and body aware. If your someone who wished they had more willpower this is exactly where you start. 

Our bodies can also be little tricksters as well with these mixed signals. Sometimes we cannot decipher hunger from thirst. So we think we’re hungry when really were actually a little dehydrated.

So where do we start?

There are three things I want you to do next time you’re faced with an unplanned food decision (food or snacks besides your regular meals for the day).

Number one is drinking a glass of water. Easy and simple as that. If you feel yourself getting hungry drink one nice big cup of water first then wait a few minutes to see how you feel. If someone offers you a sweet treat and you are torn with the decision to eat it or not, drink a nice big glass of water first.

Next, there are two questions I want you to ask yourself before you eat something. A great question I have used over the years to develop more willpower is “How is this going to make me feel?” Think of the short term feeling then think of the long. If you can think of a longer term better outcome from not having this item right away, it will help create just a little more awareness to guide your decision.

The last question is, “Is this food item going to benefit my performance today?” Good quality nutrition is important to stay productive, active, and mentally sharp. Overeating can cause you to feel sluggish, guilty, and sometimes shame. Especially if you are trying to reach a fitness goal.

If you have already got some proper nutrition in today and know you’re going to hit your protein intake goals for the day then you might be in a better position to have the treat. But if all you’ve eaten is junkie foods and not had any vegetables or protein rich foods, it might be a better decision to hold off and get more quality food in that day.

So whether you gave in and ate the snack or not after asking these questions, it is important to create awareness after the fact as well to assess your feelings on your decision. “How does my energy feel?” “How does my body feel?” and “How do I feel about myself now?”

It is important not to self shame at the same time. Doing these sorts of practices it’s easy to start thinking self deprecating thoughts. These thoughts are going to get you nowhere and may even cause a reverse willpower effect to get back at yourself. So be kind to yourself in the process. Remind yourself it’s not easy to say no or not now, especially when you’ve been accustomed to giving yourself whatever you desire in the moment for so long.

Remember it’s progress over perfection. You are NOT going to be able to just start saying no thanks and delaying gratification right away so get that idea out of your head. It’s all in the little baby steps. Be patient with yourself and give yourself some recognition when you do make a small step towards your goals.

xoxo

Frecklefit