Eureka!!

Remember that 6 week personal challenge I started in April? No me neither…I kid, I kid.  Today’s post is all about the ups and downs of that challenge, and a few pretty big “AH HA” moments that I had.  Some of my experiences were negative, some positive, but all made me just a little stronger and a little more passionate to reach my goals.

I initially decided it was going to be an uber strict fully raw plan to see if I could do it. I enjoy raw foods, and eat a pretty high fruit diet already so I thought it would be easy. However, in order for me to maintain this type of eating, and not feel like a zombie with my workouts, I  need to eat at least 3,000 calories. At first things went great, but then I started to become so exhausted due to work, lack of sleep, and my strenuous fitness goals that felt sick all of the time and couldn’t eat. Let’s just say that backfired. This didn’t really begin to happen until around the 3.5-4 week point, but when it hit, it completely crushed me. I wasn’t sleeping, eating properly, but still forcing myself to workout and I couldn’t take it anymore. I was miserable, exhausted, shaky, and the list goes on. However, I realized that eating cooked food wasn’t BAD just because it wasn’t the initial plan I had created if that meant I’d feel better. I started incorporating chickpeas, sweet potato, and even some crackers and hummus and all of a sudden my tummy didn’t hate me quite so much.

AH HA Moment #1. When I realized that this challenge was just that, a challenge. Sure I had hoped to eat fully raw for 6 weeks, but my body needed other things. I didn’t fail by altering the plan, instead I found what worked for me…for once I started listening to what my body NEEDED.

The main reason I was completely MIA during the last 2 weeks of the challenge was related to 2 things, lack of sleep and stress from work. I wasn’t sleeping even tho I was exhausted, I was stressed because of deadlines, I couldn’t sleep because of deadlines, but I couldn’t focus on deadlines because I was exhausted, and then I stressed more because I was worried about not falling asleep. A fun, fun time. Then one night, I came across a post about stress by Girls Gone Strong  and essentially whether it’s stress from working out super hard, a tough job, too many commitments, etc our body can’t differentiate between the different TYPES of stress and eventually it just gets overwhelmed and starts shutting down. Turns out, when you’re super stressed even when you’re exhausted you can’t sleep, and then you’re not recovering–mentally or physically. So I wasn’t alert at work because my mind didn’t repair, and my body was aching constantly because it didn’t repair either.

AH HA moment #2. When I realized I honestly just had to let go of everything I was allowing to upset me, and focus on making myself HEAL–physically and emotionally. If I screw up my diet, miss a deadline, or skip a workout life will go on.

Instead of setting my alarm for 6:45 on the weekend, I didn’t set my alarm at all and I slept for 14 hours. I ate carbs all day (not cupcakes, but good things like quinoa pasta, sweet potato, etc), I listened to happy music, painted my nails a pretty colour and just let go of everything that was out of my control. Of course there is still stress in my life, but how I handle it now will be different. Also, I won’t stress myself about being PERFECT all the time. If I mess up my diet, I’ll do better tomorrow. Simple as that.

Now that i’ve gotten the “big things” out of the way, here are a few other things I learned.

-I love lifting heavy weights. I discovered body beast and although some days I curse at Sagi, I love feeling my muscles grow. My shoulders and arms are so pumped after a workout and I feel so strong and confident.

-When I’m less regimented with my diet, I actually eat better. Saying “I can’t have any alcohol ever, sugar ever, fries EVER”, only means i’ll think about them all the time. Instead, I have decided to eat clean and allow myself a treat meal each week where I have whatever I want. Lately other than a glass of red, it’s been a bowl of quinoa pasta with lots of roasted veggies, or sweet potato fries with spicy ketchup. Basically, giving myself freedom has allowed me to enjoy clean food and even crave clean food.

-The mind is such a powerful tool. I held a 6.5 minute plank. I was sweating buckets, but it felt so good.

-Yoga and meditation are so good for me. During that hour that I am focused on my breathing I become centered.

-I am stronger than I give myself credit for. I’ve gotten stronger with push ups, weights, planks, yoga poses such as headstands, and even attempted a hollow back pose.

-Having someone to talk to, and encourage you really helps. My husband is so supportive of my lifestyle and fitness goals and although he likes to tease me (because he’s bigger and stronger than I am), he likes that this makes me happy.

The most important thing I learned is that it’s great to set goals for yourself, train hard, and always strive to do better but when those goals are controlling your life negatively you need to reassess, take a deep breath, and figure out a better way. I am still working on my abs, my arms, heck my entire body–i’m still focusing on eating a clean diet (check out my instagram/twitter for pics), and i’ll always be creating little personal goals to strive for, the difference is now i’ll not be so focused on the “rules” that I don’t have any fun. Challenges are fun, and great ways to become a better stronger version of yourself, but you have to enjoy what you’re doing or else you’ll be miserable.

So ladies and gentleman. I had a great time doing my  6 week personal challenge, it was tough, there were tears, “Ah Ha” moments, and even a few shifted priorities, but I made some pretty big discoveries and i’m so glad that I did.

Tomorrow is a new day, be grateful for another day to smile, laugh, and feel love. Enjoy every minute, even if some of those minutes involve burpees or Bulgarian split squats. haha.

*Namaste*

Spicy Chipotle Hummus

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As I sit here writing this post, sipping my decaf coffee with cinnamon– little mermaid playing softly in the background–I find myself salivating slightly (okay it’s a lot) thinking about hummus. I am not going to lie, I’m addicted to this stuff…and I have a feeling you will be too!

I feel like it’s my civil duty to mention that I like spicy food, so if you don’t like spice this probably isn’t the recipe for you. I actually typically double the chipotle peppers and chili but i’ve been told that is just ridiculous, so follow the recipe as written unless you’re as crazy as I am! Enjoy!

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Spicy Chipotle Hummus

28 oz Chickpeas

2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce + 1 tbsp adobo sauce

3-4 Tbsp Tahini (mom prefers to use 6 heaping tbsp)

5 cloves of garlic

1 lemon juiced (just under 1/4 cup)

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 pepper

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp cumin

1/4  chili pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

1/3 cup water

It’s pretty simple really, throw everything into a food processor in the order listed and then blend until smooth! I personally like mine light and fluffy so I tend to add a little more water, but my mom said the above measurements were perfect for her (minus the spice which she cuts in half because she doesn’t like spicy food). She also chops the garlic before adding it to the recipe, but I don’t see why. The food processor does all of the work, to me it’s the same as mashing the chickpeas before you put them in the processor…it’s an unnecessary step. But, feel free to chop, mash, or readjust the recipe as you see fit.

Now that you have creamy spicy hummus, you have my permission to slather heaping teaspoons of it on everything you eat until you’re mouth is on fire. Repeat as often as you want EVEN tho I keep reading fitness/nutrition blogs that say any more than 2 tbsp of hummus is over doing it. To those blogs I say “Okay sure” and then have a 3rd, 4th, and 5th TBSP of hummus anyway.

Enjoy!

A girlfriend of mine kindly pointed out that this hummus is reminiscent of a mound of well...i'm sure you can guess, but let's pretend she's wrong since this is the only photo I have.
A girlfriend of mine kindly pointed out that this hummus is reminiscent of a mound of well…i’m sure you can guess, but let’s pretend she’s wrong since this is the only photo I have.

 

Things I’m loving–May Edition!

Welcome to the first edition of “Things I’m loving right now”! These were all items I constantly found myself reaching for, or wishing for during the month. It’s a mix of food, beauty products, fitness items, and even a music video/song! Okay so let’s get started!!

Beanitos_Bean_Chips

1. Beanitos. I’m not a huge chip person–but I was walking through the organic store I buy most of my gluten free/vegan goodies and saw these BLACK BEAN CHIPS and was instantly intrigued. They are gluten free, vegan, non gmo, free of corn, msg, trans fat, high in fiber, and a source of protein–the list goes on, so I decided to give them a try. I bought the chipotle BBQ flavoured chips and they’re a perfect mix of sweet, smokey, and a little spicy. I love these, and guess what…hubby does too! Double bonus!

banana holder

2. Banana Holder. Okay so this isn’t actually food, but it holds one of my most favourite foods on the planet–BANANAS! I bought this cute little holder because I often throw bananas into my gym back and then end up with well, bruised and smashed fruit and that just isn’t appetizing. So now I can pop a banana into one of these holders and not have to worry if my banana is a)jammed in a sweaty sneaker or worse b)turning into pudding inside of the peel. 😀

Body-Beast
 3. Body Beast. I am currently in my third week of this Beach Body program and I LOVE it. It’s geared toward men who want to “GET HUGE” but let’s get real here for a minute, anything a man can do I can do better. Okay so not quite, but unless it involves anatomy I don’t have, why should I NOT be able to try a program simply because it’s marketed toward men? So girls, before you dismiss this as something that is only going to work for men, I challenge you to give it a try. I think men wanting to gain significant muscle can benefit from this style of workout, but I also think girls–like myself–can  also get great results. This weight lifting program comes with a schedule and easy to follow workouts…note easy to follow, not easy. If you are finding them easy, you’re either not doing them right or not lifting heavy enough. Sagi is hilarious, explains everything so well, and is incredibly easy on the eyes (ie. GORGEOUS…shhh..), that’s triple motivation right there ladies…so pick up those weights and get squatting, lifting, and sweating yourself to a more muscular you!

tennis ball

4. Tennis Balls. Oddly enough, I have not been using these bright yellow balls in the sport for which they are intended. I have been using these tiny little demons to roll along my IT Band. They have been helping me immensely…did I mention they hurt like hell? I can’t always use a foam roller, and this is when they come in. Apparently they’re excellent for rolling on the bottom of the feet…I may try that.

pre workout energizer

5. Vega Pre-Workout Energizer. I don’t even know where to start with this amazing product. I have been lagging in my energy as of late and this has been heaven sent. I don’t use this every day, but on days when I plan to do an intense workout (especially in the morning’s prior to eating) I take it and the results are mind blowing. After only 15-20 minutes I feel alert, stronger, and ready to take on any exercise. Taste and texture, well…it’s rather gritty, and tastes like kool-aid but it gets the job done so who’s complaining?

curl boosting jelly

6. Curls Unleashed Curl boosting Jelly. I have been wearing my hair in twist outs lately (several product reviews to come soon), and this product has been working small miracles in helping my hair hold a style. I love big hair, but if I am going to go through the trouble of flat twisting my hair i’d like it to at least hold up to whatever the day has to throw at it. So far, i’ve used this jelly every time i’ve washed my hair for over a month…that’s a huge accomplishment because I yo-yo with products.
lipstick

7. Bright Lipstick. I have been loving Purple and bright pink as of late. I enjoy playing up my eyes, but sometimes i’ll get in those moods where I only wear mascara and rock a bright lipstick every day. Allergy season has my eyes all watery, puffy, and red so I decided to play up my next favourite feature…my lips! What is your favourite colour? Are you a bright lipstick or a nude lipstick kind of girl?

hummus

8. Chipotle Hummus. Can you guess now which recipe is going to make it’s way to my blog this week? I seriously have eaten an insane amount of spicy hummus over the past 3 weeks. I love it with carrots, cucumber, peppers, and honestly…with a spoon. *swoon*

9. Kanye Workout Plan. Last, but not least…this song has been with me for almost every plank during the 30 day 5 minute plank challenge. It’s terrible…since fitness should be about making YOU happy and not about finding a rich husband, but come on now…it’s funny, and catchy. Don’t pretend like you’re not enjoying it right now…

Well that concludes this edition of things I’m currently loving. I hope you enjoyed them, and maybe even try out a few. It’s off to bed for me…I have a busy day ahead of me.

Take care everyone.

Sweet Dreams.

 

June is for Lovers! Well technically, Virginia is for lovers…

I apologize for being away for the past 2 weeks and essentially missing the last 2 weeks of my 6 week personal challenge. I didn’t quit the challenge, but it’s a long story so I will write a post specifically focused on that later in the week but for today it’s all about JUNE and what I have planned. (Please note, I’ve literally tried to post this for the past 3 days, but if I include any photos in the post it will fail, so let’s pretend there are photos AND that today is May 31st and not June 2nd…)

June Challenge! My goals for the month:

1. Building Muscle. I’m not sure if I mentioned this in my last post before disappearing for 2 weeks, but I discovered a beach body weight training series called BODY BEAST that I LOVE. I have been doing it consistently for 2 weeks now. So as you can probably guess, I will be continuing this program during the month. The program is 90 days, and i’m 16 days in. There is a long time to go yet, but i’m already noticing a change in my body, and I can’t wait to see myself at the 30, 60, and finally 90 day mark.

2. Focusing on my abs. Planks, Planks, and more planks! I completed the 5 minute plank challenge last month, and i’m aiming for 8 minutes this month! Additionally, i’ll be incorporating good old fashioned clean, nutritious foods (upping protein intake), plenty of ab exercises, and some cardio. I’ll have them popping before you know it.

3. Stretching/Yin Yoga. With all of this added weight training I’ve been a ball of knots. Seriously there have been days that my hip flexors have been SCREAMING at me. I am not forsaking my headstand/inversion love, but for now my focus will be on stretching and rebuilding rather than if I can get into a crazy yoga pose. (Though i’m sure i’ll attempt a few).

4. Eating clean. During my 6 week personal challenge I attempted to eat completely raw and didn’t really consider any alternatives until I HAD to start eating cooked food. This month, I want to eat as clean as possible to fuel my body so it can be the best it can be, but my own rule is NO RESTRICTION. I will eat raw foods, cooked foods, fruit, veggies, beans, etc. and as long as they’re clean ingredients THAT is my main focus.

4. Learn to Relax. Exactly what it sounds like–just going to take time this month to breathe, take long walks, bubble baths, and honestly just enjoy life. With work, my exercise routine, and all the little things life throws our way it’s so easy to let stress take over. Unfortunately for me that is exactly what has been happening the past 2 weeks, it’s started to affect my sleep which is affecting everything else. So, this month, no matter what is thrown my way I am going to take a deep breath, relax, and let it roll off my back like rain droplets. (I have a post coming soon about how stress has been wreaking havoc on me).

5. FOCUS. I tend to be the type of person who wants a million different things at once. I want to walk in 6 inch heels, but not have sore feet, to be a yogi, lift weights like a beast, run a marathon, get another degree, move up at work, travel more, eat better, cook more, read more, learn to roller blade etc. As you can see it’s hard to fit EVERYTHING I want into 1 day, and my problem is I often try. The problem with trying to do everything at once is you’re not really completing anything because it’s taking twice as long since there’s less time to devote to a certain item. This month, i’m choosing a few things and hoping to see better results rather than spreading myself thin among 100 different things.

In case you didn’t notice there is a bit of a trend going on this month– I need to focus my attention on a few things at a time, and learn to relax when I can’t get to everything.

Here is a general idea of what a typical week will look like for the next 30 (technically 28) days.

  1. Exercise: Will focus on  Body Beast workouts 5-6 days per week, 2-3 Insanity workouts each week, and 1 or 2 days of spinning (what can I say, I love spinning), as well as planks, ab work, and restorative yoga.
  2. Food: I’ll be eating lots of veggies, salads, fruit, smoothies, and just doing whatever makes my body feel good. I am also going to add more protein to my diet, I really have noticed how much better i’ve been feeling with extra protein.
  3. And finally the resting phase: This will include foam rolling, yin yoga, chats with my mom and sisters, bubble baths, walks with my husband, and maybe even a few massages. Basically anything that puts my mind at ease.

And before I go, prepare yourself for several blog posts that I am working on for this week.

1. Things I loved in May. (Products, foods, music, etc.) I plan to write one of these at the end of each month just to give a little review of things I fell in love with for the month some new, some oldies but goodies.

2. My 6 week personal challenge recap. What I learned, what I liked, what I didn’t, etc.

3. A recipe. It’s a surprise, so I’m not going to tell you what it is…but if you follow me on instagram you’ll probably be able to guess. Ps. My instagram is @regarae.

Have a wonderful rest of the day, and here’s to a wonderful week and month ahead!

*Namaste*