I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’ve been embarking on my own “clean eating challenge” of sorts.

I hate the term “dieting” so I choose that wording, but that may be a bad name for it, too. It’s my effort to clean up my act, to stop mindlessly snacking, and to feel really good about the way my clothes fit me.

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Like I said, I was a vacuum cleaner after my surgery. And in my opinion, that’s the healthy way to be. When you’re on pain killers and hardly able to move around, you shouldn’t be counting calories. Your body needs fuel to heal. My recommendation for anyone going through a surgery recovery is to take that time to eat what your body tells you it wants.

Even if it is milkshakes and cookie cake (a.k.a, the best dessert I’ve had in my LIFE. My fellow barre teacher, Christina, made it for me, and I still dream about it on the reg).

Anyway, using MyFitnessPal and the encouragement/advice of Brittany to keep me on track (we’re a team in this), I’ve been tracking what I eat for the past month post-surgery.

I have a rule for myself that I won’t completely cut anything out. That’s where diets fail, IMO — too much focus is placed upon what you can’t have, leaving little room to enjoy making the things you can have delicious.

For how hard I work, I’m won’t feel guilty about indulging (within reason). I run most mornings, and I take barre class several days a week. I can share some not-so-healthy apps with my friends at dinner. I can have a glass of wine while watching the Bachelor with my girlfriends. Because I earned it! And tomorrow, I’m going to have a nice, hearty, healthy day.

Balancing the indulgence with healthy choices, in my mind, is the healthiest way to be.

And now, a story for you.

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My reignited love with morning running has felt so awesome. I feel great going to bed early, getting up early, and getting my workout in/so many steps done before work, actually washing and drying my hair, and feeling really accomplished. Plus, I like that Chloe’s been getting more exercise.

Since upping my cardio dramatically, you may be able to guess what happened.

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The hunger monster happened.

(That hunger monster is totally TMed by my friend Lindsey. She’s amazing, and she gave me permission to use her hunger monster here. I had to use her because it’s the perfect way to illustrate me when I’m hangry).

Honestly, I knew cardio made me hungrier, but I had forgotten how much hungrier. When I’m torching calories, I want all. the. food. And it makes my choices a little unreasonable, especially at night when I’m rummaging through my cabinets for something to eat because “I still have 500 calories left for the day!!!!”

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Kylie usually finds me with my mouth full in the middle of the kitchen with a sheepish look on my face. It’s my natural habitat.

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So, a few weeks ago, this caused a bit of frustration for me. I found myself stressing a little bit as I started to feel “puffy” with my increased water retention and serious hunger.

And then I remembered my original plan.

Why am I doing this? To feel good.

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You LIT-RALLY only live once. Why spend that one life stressing about your size and depriving yourself?

On Wednesdays, I get up at 4:30 a.m. to teach Pure Barre. Then, I take a class, work a full day at the office, then head back to the studio to teach another class at 5:30 p.m. It’s a doozy of a day, and my *favorite* part of every Wednesday is coming home and taking my pants off.

Obviously.

Last Wednesday, we had a special training at work, so we were offered lunch orders. I normally am the most strict at lunchtime. I’ll pack a huge salad with healthy dressing, an apple, and a greek yogurt to have as a snack toward the end of the day.

That day, I said, “You know what? I deserve this.”

I ditched the salad I packed and ordered the turkey avocado sandwich meal without remorse. I slathered on the cranberry sauce that came with it, inhaled a pickle and apple slices, and practically made out with the freshly-baked chocolate chip cookie for a little lunch dessert.

After putting it into MyFitnessPal, I saw that I exceeded my usual lunch calorie intake by about 250 calories. And you know what? I felt great about it.

I’m no professional, but I know that when it comes to nutrition, mental health is just as important as the quality of the things you put into your body. Sometimes, you need to give yourself a break, say “I deserve this,” and eat the delicious cookie. Or the stout beer. Or the pasta. OR THE DONUT.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

Speaking of that, it’s time for my 50th snack of the day. Because it’s Wednesday, and I’ve already been awake for way too many hours. Baaaiiiii.

What’s your take on this? When did you last say “I deserve this?” What’s your favorite “cheat” indulgence when you’re still trying to clean up your act?

I have a challenge for you: Next time you do indulge, feel good about it. Maybe even Instagram that sucker with an #ideservethis hashtag.

{ 19 comments }

I’m switching gears to take a breath from my immense excitement over The Bachelorette(s) premier tonight to talk about running. If you’re not a runner and would rather dish about mindless things like reality T.V., weigh in here about the contestants we’re going to meet tonight. I’ll be poppin’ bottles at 8:00 p.m. sharp.

ETA: I mean 9:00 sharp. What the heck, ABC?! Don’t you know my bedtime? Why was Chris Soules’ red carpet a zillion hours long and this one starts at 9?

So. There are some running mistakes we all make. As far as exercise goes, I believe it’s most important to get moving and to enjoy it. However, there are many self-destructive habits runners tend adopt and should try to kick. Below, I’ve compiled a few mistakes I’ve made throughout the years and some advice to run to your best potential.

10 running mistakes you're probably making

1. You don’t vary your training speed.

I definitely don’t do this well. I tend to want to run hard and fast at all times on very run because I‘m a serious overachiever and like getting things done quickly, but I learned from a long battle with shin splints that that was way too much for my body.

Varying runs, planning easy or tough ones throughout the week or your training schedule, is a smart way to avoid injury or burnouts. For me, running my first couple of miles with Chloe really helps, since she dramatically slows me down. I’ll then drop her and continue at a faster pace if it’s a fast run day.

On the flip side, speeding up is also important. Getting out of your comfort zone is imperative for becoming better at… well, just about everything. Running is no exception. If your goal is to become a speedier and stronger runner, plan some tempo and interval runs.

2. You don’t re-lace your shoes for each run.

Another one I’m guilty of! I hate tying shoes, and I’m secretly terrible at it (who am I?). I tend to shove my foot into my shoe and run out the door.

It’s really important to re-lace your shoes for each run to get the benefit of the support they’re built to give your foot. If you’ve ever gone without doing this for a while and then start re-lacing, you’ll notice a big difference as you run.

3. You don’t refuel quickly enough.

One of the only times during the day I’m not hungry is right after a run. However, our gains come from how we fuel after we work out. Pick a snack/meal full of protein and carbs in a 3:1 ratio and eat up within 30 minutes of your run, or you’ll lose the benefits of what you just accomplished.

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4. You don’t unplug.

Have you ever just run out the door, no headphones, no GPS watch, no heart rate monitor? If not, I highly recommend a run with just you, your shoes, and the pavement. I’m definitely a music-driven exerciser, and I don’t do this often, but for random short runs, I really love it. Try it, it will surprisingly refresh you when you’re not worried about the song playing, how fast you’re going, or how many calories you may be burning.

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Unplug and enjoy your surroundings.

5. You don’t take rest days.

Rest days are so important for muscle recovery. If you don’t incorporate them into your week of exercise, you’re putting your body at risk for injury and you’re not letting your body rest and rebuild itself the way it needs to.

If you’re addicted to moving and don’t like rest days, try an active rest day. Go for a walk. Maybe even try some relaxing yoga. Whatever you’re doing, give your muscles a break at least once a week.

6. You don’t pay attention to your stride.

Strides are often overlooked and seldom thought about. It seems as if you’d want to lengthen your strides to cover more ground, but if you shorten your strides, you will have more energy on a long run and you will save your knees. Long strides can lead to heel-striking, which we all know is something runners need to avoid.

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7. You never mixing it up: your route, your mileage, your workout.

I’m a creature of habit, so I find myself falling into a routine I like and sticking to it for a really long time, burning myself out in the process. If you find yourself doing this and dreading your exercise, try mixing it up. Skip a day of running and try a total body workout of some sort. Grab a buddy and do something weird. Just move, and make it fun.

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8. You don’t invest in the right gear.

The quickest thing for me to hate my life while running is a sock that falls into the back of my shoe, a headband that slips, a shirt that rides up, or shorts that rub the wrong way. Any annoyance while running will keep you from focusing on the exercise and more on how much you hate whatever is giving you serious pain. Invest in the right kind of clothing and accessories for your runs. It’s so worth it. I swear. And on top of that, take the time to make a playlist to which you’re pumped to run!

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9. You don’t cool down.

Cooling down after a run is important for the function of your heart and blood vessels. Failure to cool down and stretch properly can result in dizziness, an upset stomach, and extra sore muscles post-workout. Be sure to leave some time for a cool-down portion of your run, and stretch out your muscles while they’re still warm.

I used to be pretty bad about stretching after a run because I was too focused on a time crunch of some sort. Now, I actually use my Pure Barre thigh stretch after a run to quickly stretch out all the work I just completed.

10. Remember, you get to run.

There’s nothing quite like remembering that running is a privilege to keep you going mentally. Sometimes, when I’m having a particularly rough run, I think back to silly, short amounts of time when I physically couldn’t run after a surgery or an injury. I’d see other runners exercising and think, “No! Stop that! If I can’t do it, you can’t either! No fair!” If I felt that way for just a few weeks, think about how people who physically cannot run feel on a daily basis. You are blessed with working legs and a working body that can support you to exercise. Be thankful for them. :)

Got anything to add? What mistake here are you most guilty of?

{ 11 comments }

Welp, it’s a good thing some of you voiced your anticipation of Bachelorette(s) posts in the life of blyss reader survey, because I’ve got one for ya today. And to those of you who said they’re not a fan of these, I promise, they won’t be all that’s taking up space here on LOB.

(psst, please take the survey if you haven’t already!)

Here it is: My first impression rose time. It’s like Tinder for the Season 11 Bachelorette contestants, only they will never know if I swiped left or right.

Unless maybe they read blogs, that is. And in that case, automatic swipe left.

The Bachelorettes begins on Monday, and I’m rubbing my hands together with excitement. Remember, there are two bitches standing there as the limos pull up, the guys meet them, and then they choose who gets to stay on as this season’s Bachelorette. Also remember, one girl is awesome, the other sucks.

Come Monday at 10:00 p.m., I’m either going to be a) doing twirls for Kaitlyn or b) screaming at my television and stomping around my house if I have to look at Britt for a few weeks (sorry, Kylie). ‘Cause it’s not like I won’t watch.

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I will say, I much prefer the way the producers do Britt’s makeup over the way she used to (less eyeliner, less obnoxious bright lipstick. Extra snaps for them if they even made her take it off for bed.

Anywho, let’s play a game of superficial “judge you by the way producers had you answer lame questions and styled you for an awkward photo shoot.” I’m so exited!

1. Hello, Ben H.

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If Ben is tall enough, he might have my heart. He’s from Menver, one of my favorite places ever (discovered on my Pure Barre training weekend about a year ago), and… oh wait, they list his height on here. He’s 6’4″. He has my heart, as long as his 26 year old brain has matured enough. It’s also convenient that his last name begins with an H. I’d like to stay toward the middle of the alphabet when I change my name.

2. The less attractive Ben, the one with a “Z.”

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He’s a fitness coach and all his answers to the question prompts make him seem really boring. Something about his face screams “that other Ben [Flajnik] the Bachelor” to me. He does like Wedding Crashers, though, so I could just spend all my time with him running through my favorite Vince Vaughn quips. He gets a B.

3. Bradley, I at least like your name.

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But you’re only 25?! WHEN DID ALL THE CONTESTANTS BECOME YOUNGER THAN ME? Crap, am I old now?

I digress. He’s 6’2″, he’s blonde, and he’s sarcastic. I like all his answers to all these questions. I’ll give you a rose, Bradley. And we can name our firstborn after you. A-!

4. Brady.

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Brady’s that turd who is going to vote for Britt to stay on as Bachelorette. I ain’t buyin’ what you’re sellin’, Brady. No gracias. Fail.

5. Chris, the dentist, won’t share.

690.1x1-4I’m not even going into details about Chris because his biggest date fear is a girl who tries to eat his food. Game over. I’m not reading anymore about you. #baichris

6. Clint‘s hair product took up 3 suitcases.

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He’s got pretty pearly whites and seemingly nice biceps, but I’m not into long hair nor Chicago weather. Plus, I don’t know how he feels about a 5’8″ girl in heels.

And I really, really hate the name, “Clint.”

7. Corey is either RLY cool or RLY weird.

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There’s something about his face that gives me a “little too friendly dad” vibe. Now just watch, I’m going to say all these mean things and he’s going to turn out to be a total sweetheart.

8. Here’s Cory, no “e”, whose biggest date fear is to “find out she’s really a dude” and would be a younger version of himself if he could be anyone else for a day.

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9. Then there’s Daniel and his derp grin

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Forgive me for not being into men who talk about “sharing beautiful lives together” and can definitely style me better than I can dress myself. Also, that was your pick for a great head shot shirt, fashion designer Dan?

10. Daaaaaviiiiddddd.

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I just want to hug you. And friend zone the crap out of you. You just look like someone I want to drink beer and joke with.

11. Ian wore his Target employee uniform to picture day.

690.1x1-10And I totally get why you said you’d choose Jimmy Kimmel for a lunch date. Name dropping the guy who was a smashing success on the show last season is smart. So what you really want is the one-on-one date (plus Jimmy) at Costco, correct? Also, what badassery left that crazy scar on your arm? Inquiring minds what to know.

12. Meet the fearless Jared

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Who is also a dirty liar or a really dull conversationalist, because no one has ZERO fears. This one reminds me of one of my college boyfriends, so I’m going to try my best to call him the correct name the whole season (as if he’ll stick around long enough).

13. Helloooo, JJ

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I’ll watch baseball with you any day.

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That’s all. You get an A+ because you’re totally my physical type and none of your answers completely turned me off.

14. Joe sells insurance in Kentucky.

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Double nope.

15. Meet Jonathan and his necklace.

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Really, all I want to do is palm the top of his head to see how far up his hair slopes. That’s an interesting hair/head shape.

Honestly, who comes up with the prompts they’re given? This is the third dude to say he wants to be Superman. #original

16. And then there’s Josh, the law student and the exotic dancer.

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Right. That.

He didn’t directly say it, but he’s telling me through this picture that he keeps his law school studying cheat sheet in his eyebrows.

Exotic dancer and law student. Hm. I’d say I’ll believe it when I see it, but… I don’t really want to see it.

And as for the law school boyfriend, well: Been there. Done that.

Next.

17. Meet Joshua, who looks great in purple. Good choice, sir!

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I’m down to get down with this one. I love all his answers to these repetitive questions, from his nod to The Hangover (that’s a gimme, I know), the “nobody likes a Mr. Sniffles” How to Lose a Guy In 10 Days reference, the fact that he believes God created someone tailor-made for him (SIGH), and he likes my buddy, Tom Hanks. Oh, and he’s 6’2″ and 31, which in my book actually translates to “perfect.”

ROSE FOR YOU, JOSHUA! Clapping hands emoji!

18. Thanks to Justin, my Matt Damon has arrived.

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And he wants to open his own fitness studio in 5 years, so, sounds like we’ll have the perfect marriage and business partnership (NO, Ben Z., you’re not invited).

19. This one’s name is… Kupah.

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I pray I’m putting the wrong emphAHsis on the wrong syllAAHble, but if I’m not… his name rhymes with “fupa”, and that’s an automatic zero. No points for Kupah. I’m sorry, Kupah. I hate your earrings, too.

20. Ryan B., and HIS hair.

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I get that you’re trying to sell houses, but a more reasonable haircut will do that for you, too.

…but I cannot *wait* to see what your bedhead looks like when you’re woken up at 2 a.m. for mysterious sunrise dates.

21. Ryan M. is that guy who I’m always going to forget and whose name I will never remember.

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I wonder what one does all day as a junkyard specialist.

22. Shawn B. just gets brownie points for saying 1D is among his top favorite artists.

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I don’t even really care if he’s kidding or not. I can’t decide if I find him attractive or not based on this picture, but I’m good with his prompt answers. I could see this one working well personality-wise with Kaitlyn.

Oh, and if you were wondering, he is *also* a personal trainer.

I think I like this one. Not for me, but for… the Bachelorette.

Crap, I forget. Am I judging these guys for me or for her?

23. Shawn E. is an amateur sex coach and I don’t even want to talk about him ANY. MORE.

690.1x1-23I don’t, I can’t. I….

…don’t want him coming near me with that necklace NOR any mention of what he does for a living. The “amateur” part of the description gives me the heebie jeebies even more than that offensive head shot.

Wait, nope, I can’t not mention that he concluded his idea of a perfect date with “embracing and loving until sunrise.”

…I’m done. FTS.

24. Tanner is a bore. Which might be a good thing after the Shawn E. bomb that just got dropped.

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Predictable answers. Boo. I hope you’re more fun on the telly.

25. Tony and Clint can share hair mousse!!!!!

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This guy describes his occupation as “Healer,” so unless he’s got a weird way of saying he’s a doctor, I’m thinking he’ll bring to the table a good dose of hippy dippy weirdness that this show always needs. Good luck, healing, Tony. I hope you’re less creepy in pictures that move.

Aaand that’s it. The limos are empty.

This should be interesting for comparison’s sake once we get to know these dudes. I’ll probably eat my words and adore someone I totally called a creep. Or one of my beloved hunks will turn out to be the biggest loser in the house (not surprising).

For now, my personal faves (for me, not for the ladies, obviously) are Ben, J.J., Joshua, and Justin.

Don’t make fun of me. I’m well aware I have a type.

Okay, your turn.

Your thoughts? Your faves? Your picks for the girls?

{ 18 comments }

Weigh In: Life of Blyss Reader Survey

May 13, 2015

Tell me whatchu want. I recognize this blog has undergone a lot of change through the years. It was a little fledgling space of the internet as I tried to navigate the blogosphere, and after a few years, just as soon as I got a handle on time management and inspiration for posts, I took […]

Read on!

Top Sweet Fragrance Picks for Summer

May 12, 2015

Before we dive into my top picks for sweet, summery fragrances, let’s just note I did some serious damage at Elements last week. As if there was any question I might not, right? And pssst, do you like my new “photography studio?” This was my first photo experimenting with it, and I’m really excited to […]

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The Weekend: Science on Tap, Nectar Sunnies, and Sunshine

May 11, 2015

Seriously, why can’t weekends last at least twice as long? This past Saturday and Sunday were gorgeous days, and all I want to do is be productive around my house and walk around my neighborhood all the time. Chloe and I had a hot, sunny Mother’s Day full of lots of steps. Seriously. Sundays are […]

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My Spring Skincare Wishlist

May 7, 2015

I’ve talked about my skincare routine before, but it’s safe to say my product regimen is getting an overhaul. After learning about the local business about 2 miles from my house, I was excited to give Elements Beauty Shop in Carytown a try. The products Sherry and Jeannie carry in their store are unique, quality, […]

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A #MelanomaMonday Roundup: My Battle with Skin Cancer

May 4, 2015

I’m super lucky that my “battle” with skin cancer has been solely kept to the scalpel removal of my malignant and abnormal skin cells. My arms, back, and chest are pretty scarred up, and although they aren’t pretty, I’ll take that over having to go through any chemotherapy or radiation. And I pray I’ll never […]

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Clean Eating Progress & Meal Ideas

April 27, 2015

Happy Monday! As I’ve been alluding to via Instagram photos and mentions here on my blog, I’ve been skipping through my own little clean eating challenge. Notice I said “skipping.” Not begrudgingly trudging, not crawling, but skipping. I’ve been cleaning up my act, and I’ve been enjoying it. After being sick mostly all winter resulting […]

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My New Favorite App: #MyIdolApp

April 23, 2015

I really, really hope you guys have discovered the My Idol app. And if you haven’t… you need to. I think a picture will do it justice. UNCANNY, RIGHT? This app takes a picture of your face and makes you into a cartoon. A really sassy, caricature-esque cartoon, but I’ll say, it’s the most spot-on […]

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