Wednesday, May 14, 2014

NOT a Diet and Fitness Post

I've been neglecting this blog.  Not on purpose really, more out of necessity.  Due to some weird things going on right now, I want to shift gears in the next few posts and talk about a different kind of health.  Spiritual, psychological and emotional health.  I'm not exactly qualified to write about this stuff but I think it's really important for women to discuss.

I read an article a few months ago that spoke to my soul (posted below).  I know how cheesy that sounds, but I'm dead serious.  I had gotten to a place where I felt like many of the things I was doing, I was doing for all the wrong reasons.  I'm not talking about working out or eating right, in fact, those are the things that I was finally doing for the right reasons.  I'm talking more about other stuff.  I knew something was off (I had actually felt that way for a long time), but I couldn't exactly put my finger on why I felt that way.  So I started re-evaluating my life.  Enter mid-life crisis.  It was like a faith crisis plus a motherhood crisis plus a complete paradigm shift regarding my world view.  Yeah, it's been an interesting few months.  I've learned a lot about myself and my surroundings and I think I'm finding a place of peace that will work better for me than where I was before, but it was kind of an ugly process.  It sucks to learn things about yourself that you wish didn't exist.  But the good news is that we really do have control over our lives.  One of my go to phrases regarding diet and fitness is, "own your baggage."  I didn't realize how applicable it was to other parts of my life.   

I've attached the article I mentioned and I'd love to hear your thoughts about it.  Oh, and heads up, the author says "shit" a few times.  Sorry about that.  

I grew up in an Irish Catholic family. To say you did things out of obligation or guilt is an understatement.
It was the only MO I really knew.
And it’s funny–when I first started working with my spiritual coach 3 years ago, we talked a lot about “the victim mindset” and though I never really identified with the desire to blame other people or things “out there,” I was constantly blaming myself. I was always defaulting to: it’s my fault. I’m the one that sucks. I’m no good. I deserve to go without. I’ll just put my own needs aside and suffer in silence.
My coach pointed out that what I was doing was not playing the victim role in the traditional sense, but I was indeed playing it–but dressed up in the guise of A MARTYR. Same manifestation, different outfit. In fact, I had an obsession with being the martyr. It was how I developed my sense of self-worth. I actually LIKED being the one suffering the most!
Yes. Though of course it was never conscious on my part. In fact, I was outwardly COMPLAINING ABOUT IT. I was complaining about something I actually needed in order to feel worthy. Crazy, right?
A good example of this is people who claim to be “so busy” all the time. Really? Like they have no control over their schedule? Really? Let’s face it: in our culture, people wear their ‘busy” like a badge of honor. It’s like saying outwardly, “Omigod! I hate this! I’m soooooo busy! Please feel bad for me!” when inside, we actually LIKE IT. We LIKE to be the one suffering. We hold onto our suffering because it means we get to garner attention and pity from those around us. How many times have you heard people say, “Poor so-and-so, they work so hard!” or “Can you believe so-and-so? They never get any time for themselves, it’s a shame.”

It sucks to admit this, but … receiving condolences for our suffering feels good!

Does it???
Deep down, I think it does.
This isn’t conscious by the way. And of course, sometimes, SOMETIMES it can’t be helped. But it’s worth digging into yourself and asking some questions, like: Is this how I realize my self-worth? Is being the person who’s been done wrong important to me on some level? Does my playing the victim (or martyr) give me a sense of purpose?
There’s no judgment here. This was my MO for 29 years. I needed to suffer in order to feel adequate. No judgement, except that at the end of the day, I was miserable and not reaching my full potential because I was imprisoned by the thought that I needed to do shit I hated to feel worthy.
And frankly, I wouldn’t even consider it a bad thing unless you are unhappy. Because sorry, life is way too short to sit in misery. Life is way too short to do things out of obligation or guilt. Life is way too short to be scared of disappointing others or “stepping out of line.” THIS IS YOUR LIFE. It should be fun, exciting, scary, exhilarating, interesting and above all, a source of joy, not misery.
Smiling's my favorite

Life’s too short to sit in misery

So how to do you break the cycle of doing things you don’t want to do? Here are the 11 truths and insights that helped me take responsibility for my own happiness and let the chips fall in order to feel fulfilled:
1) Realize you are going to disappoint people. My girl Amber Rae said this in our webinar last week: “You can’t move fully into adulthood without disappointing someone, and once you realize that, you have to just come to grips with it, because what’s worse is disappointing yourself by not trying.” Holy shit yes.
2) Quit trying to manage other people’s responses. There’s never going to be enough maneuvering, acquiescing, appeasing or pleasing you can do to control what people will do and say as a result of you just existing. And trying to control how people see you only makes YOU miserable. Quitting your misery is largely about not getting wrapped up in responses, but instead simply doing what’s in your heart. How could you ever regret that?
3) Realize your worthiness is all in your perception. If my perception of the world is that I need to be the business person on the planet to feel deserving, then that’s what I will do. I will hustle and bustle and kill myself to earn that title. BUT instead, if my perception is that I am still worthy AND I can make an impact AND I can still help people when I’m NOT as busy, then I’m okay with being not as busy. I remember Jade saying to me years ago, “I hate when people complain about how busy they are, it seems so self-important. I can’t wait for someone to ask me, ‘How you been? Been busy?’ and I can say, ‘Nah, not busy at all, just relaxing.’” Ha! I love that. And if you follow me on Instagram, you know that I prioritize downtime like crazy because I know the more rest time I take, the more productive I’ll be when I sit down to work. It’s an infallible system. In fact, I like being lazy.
4) Prioritize making a difference over making a living. When you’re passionate and doing the things that bring you joy, you will do whatever it takes to become an expert. You will eat up every piece of knowledge you can get your hands on, you will work tirelessly, you will wake up feeling excited about what you’re doing. And how can someone like that not become an expert? And how can an expert not eventually make a living? Passion first, monetary gain next. Whereas the opposite is not necessarily true. Following a path that will bring in money has no guarantee to bringing happiness. In fact, it usually doesn’t.
5) Find other ways to feel deserving. Seriously. Suffering or being the hardest working person on earth isn’t the only way (nor the recommended way) to realize a sense of worthiness. How about your skills? Your knowledge and intellect? Your education? Your ability to write or express yourself? The fact that you’re an amazing mom? You’re a caring sister, daughter, niece, granddaughter? You’re a loyal friend and a supportive confidante. You’re working hard on your fitness and nutrition. You’re healthy, strong and you kick ass in the gym. Seriously. There are so many other ways to feel good about yourself. Find and internalize those things too :)
6) Ask what message you’re putting out in the world. Sorry, but no one likes (what Jade calls) a “Sad Sack Sammy.” People who are always complaining and blaming bring down everyone around them. They are energy vampires. You know these people! So ask, what kind of energy am I bringing into the world? A good reminder!
7) No one has to approve of your choices except you. Is this your life, or someone else’s? This is hard, right? Because we want those closest to us to approve of our choices. We want them to be proud of us. Of course we do. But I’ve worked with women in their 50s who are still falling all over themselves to make their mothers happy. A noble task which is all fine and good, except when it makes us miserable. Because remember, we are the ones who need to live with the life we’ve created; no one else. This goes back to #1 above. Do you, and see what happens.
8) Never delay joy. I read this on a bumper sticker once and all I could think of was YESSSSSSSS. No shit! I don’t see the value in being miserable anymore. I don’t believe it’s heroic to suffer in silence. In fact, I think it’s a copout. I think it’s a crutch we use to keep us small and scared and safe. It’s a story we tell ourselves about how we “need to be” in order to be valued. And it’s a lie. Delaying joy is not honorable, it’s cowardice. It’s being fearful of realizing our full potential. And while I get that the ramifications can be scary, the idea that we need to suffer to achieve is completely backwards. Ask yourself, do you have the courage to fully realize your bliss?
9) Self-trust is everything. I’ve talked about this a lot. Self-trust is your ability to show up in your life 100% authentically and let the chips fall. It’s the ability to TRUST YOURSELF to handle whatever comes about as a result of your taking action to realize your joy. People will do what they do. They will say what they say. YOUR only job is to follow your path. The path of greatest happiness and personal fulfillment. If you can’t rely on yourself, who can you rely on? Self-trust is the last frontier to realizing your full potential.
10) Go to worst-case scenario. What if you only did things that brought you joy? What if you followed your passion 100%? Would you … run out of money? Get blowback from family and friends? Be thought a lazy, naive dreamer? WHO CARES. When I started JillFit, and began modeling and competing, many people in my life at the time didn’t get it. They thought it was weird/unable to bring in money/a pipe dream/a waste of time, etc, and I heard all of that. And though it hurt and I struggled with it, ultimately I had no choice but to do what I loved, regardless. And wasn’t it funny that the same people who were hating and expressing “concern” months earlier ended up approaching me for help with their eating and exercise 6 months later! Remember, YOU need to believe in you first. And everyone else will come along. Worst case, you have no support. So what. Are you going to let that keep you from moving forward with what you feel compelled to do?
11) Take freaking action. Finally, you have to actually DO. Sitting here and rehearsing the things you’ll say and rationalizing why you do what you do is all fine and well, but the rubber ONLY meets the road when you take action. Of course, awareness and insights are great, but the experiential part–actually ACTING on what you know–is always the hardest. So. Consider this my invitation for you to DO something to start realizing your full potential. Consider this THE BIGASS SIGN you’ve been waiting for to DO what you want. To give up the considerations, expectations and obligations of others and actually do what’s in your heart. Because what’s worse than disappointing others is never taking action to do what you love.

It’s time to quit doing shit you hate.

You know this, and there’s no excuse for it in. Find workarounds. Look for other options. Ask for help. Reach out and make connections. Decisions that seem so “impossible,” I guarantee you are way more feasible than you ever thought. But first comes your belief that it’s a possibility.

Awesome, right?  I know.  This article inspired me to do some serious soul searching.  That process has led me to a place where I've decided to let go of some things that have literally dictated my life for as long as I can remember.  It has been scary and exhilarating and about a million other things in between but it feels SO good and SO right.

So tell me, what are your thoughts?    

Friday, April 4, 2014

Functional Training

Protein is on it's way out today.  Sorry that it's only taken me 3 weeks to actually send it.  March was a beast.  Anyway, I sent it out to everyone who emailed me their mailing address but I felt like I was missing a few people.  If it doesn't arrive in a few days, let me know.  And if you can't remember if you sent me your address, send it again just to be safe.

I've been thinking about and working a lot on functional training lately.  Before I got back into my heavier weight training I wanted to make sure I worked on core and functional movements to hopefully help prevent future injuries.  I'm normally a get in the gym and work your ass off with the heavy stuff kind of person (I still am.  Don't be thinking I'm done harping on you about lifting heavy).  But I've enjoyed my functional training so much that I think I'm going to focus on it at least one day every week from here on out.  Here's a great explanation from ripped N fit of why functional training is so important.

Functional fitness and functional training are the new talk in every gym. We are told to train our bodies, get fit and strengthen out muscles. All good and well, but are your muscles fit and strong enough to handle everyday tasks like lifting your toddler or picking up a sack of potatoes? Functional training focus on making the body strong and fit in order to handle everyday tasks, and to help the body have the correct posture for support while doing so.

When we train, we normally isolate muscle groups, especially when it comes to weight lifting. The key in functional training is to teach the muscles to work together. For example, when doing bent-over rows: you have to lean over and hold the weight in one hand while the arm is extended downwards. Then you have to pull the weight up, while elbows points towards the ceiling. This exercise works on the back, shoulders, arms and the core. Practically you can compare it to the motion a carpenter would perform while bending over to lift a piece of wood.

Another example, think about doing a squat – squat down and using your leg muscles you come back up. Now think about the movement done to get up off a couch – while you may assist yourself with your arms you’re really pushing off from your legs. So squats would be better for improving functional fitness than leg extensions for example which isolate one muscle group.

The Origin of Functional Training
This training has its origin in rehabilitation and is used every day by Physical and Occupational therapists. They try to develop exercises that will help individuals to perform basic daily activities without being injured.

The benefits of functional training is that you will have better joint mobility as well as stability. The body has the ability to move in six degrees of freedom, which is natural while using a machine restricts to movement of singe plane of motions. Because this single plane of movement is unnatural, the body will be more prone to injury.

Here are some exercises that might help:

  • Medicine ball overhead squats. When lifting your children or groceries, you use your arms, legs and back. This will strengthen your lower back, buttocks, shoulders and legs.

  • Biceps curl while climbing stairs. Stairs will keep your legs toned an in shape. When combined with a bicep curl, you improve the biceps endurance, while increasing the ability to carried things up the stairs. This also helps to improve your cardiovascular endurance because of the energy needed to climb stairs. This is like any activity which requires you to carry heavy items up the stairs such as grocery bags.

  • Diagonal reach using a medicine ball. From time to time you have to reach for something on the tops shelf. Normally the one arm reaches up, lifting the opposite leg slightly to the side. The arms, shoulder and legs are involved.

  • Lunging with a back row. Improving your posture. The muscles in the upper back, mid back, shoulders and arm are strengthened. The legs are also strengthened while improving the hips.

  • Knee Raises with Lateral Shoulder Raises. This is a great combo for improving your balance while strengthening the core and quads as well as building the shoulders. When doing the knee raise, the longer you can hold you knee up, the more it will work your quads.
  • Russian Twists with a Dumbbell. Having a strong core is important for improving health and wellness. Well-trained obliques also help to reduce the risk of lower-back injuries. Hold the weight out in front of you with your abs tight and twist to the left, squeeze, and then twist to the right.

When first trying these exercises, remember to start with just your body weight and as you build strength move on to adding weights.

While functional training will help improve everyday chores, you will not be wasting your time while exercising. Remember, there is no one specific type of training that is better than another. Try to include all types of exercise in your workout routine to give you a strong and well-balanced physique and improve your overall fitness level. You will see results in the practical things you do every day and after a while, this will become a skilled lifestyle while allowing you to enjoy more of the things you love!

Have an awesome weekend!!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Supplements - The Short Answer

So, you're working your butt off, watching your diet, and now seeing results.  It's awesome, right?  But of course, you start thinking, is there anything else I could be doing to optimize my performance/results/strength?  The short answer is yes.  There are supplements you can add to your diet to give yourself even more of an edge.  The problem is that there are SO many on the market that even a seasoned supplement veteran can get overwhelmed.  I'm still new to the world of supplements but honestly, I don't think anything makes a difference unless you have the big guns in place first (diet diet diet).  I can tell you what I've tried and what I feel like made a difference, but supplementing is kind of a trial and error thing.  You really have to figure out what works for you.  I've heard people say that creatine didn't do squat for them and I've heard people say that creatine made a world of difference (I'm in that camp).  So really, nobody can tell you exactly what will work for you.  You just have to figure it out.  

Right now I'm not supplementing with anything except collagen protein.  I wanted to give my body a break from everything for a while.  I'll get back to supplementing sometime in April or early May.  I mean, you know, summer and swimsuits and stuff.  But here's what I've really liked in the past (I'll explain these supplements in detail in a later post).

Creatine: You'll want to research this yourself before you use it.  I've heard people say that they felt bloated and blah while they were using creatine.  I never noticed that.  What I did notice was a serious increase in my muscle strength, tone, and size.  I was initially worried about getting "big and bulky" (ha!  yeah right), but that was never the case.  I just noticed lean muscles developing faster than they were before.  I like to "cycle" creatine use (3 months on, three months off).  I think it's one of the best products on the market, but definitely do your homework before you decide whether or not to put it on your list of things to try.

L-Glutamine: Initially I started taking this in capsule form, and then I switched to a protein that had L-Glutamine in it.  I'll probably go back to the capsules simply because I want to stick with my collagen protein.  I noticed less muscle soreness and quicker recoveries.

BCAA's (branch chain amino acids): Okay.  This is one that I honestly didn't take long enough to see a difference.  The capsules were so big I just couldn't do it.  Next time I try them I'll get it in powder form.  

Recovery drink:  Yes.  Definitely.  Especially if you are planning to do ANY type of long duration cardio.  It will help to keep your body from burning it's own lean tissue.

Thermogenic Capsules:  I'm hesitant to divulge this one, but honesty is the best policy, right?  Okay.  Do thermogenic products work?  Yes.  Sort of.  Are they a replacement for eating healthy and working your ass off?  No.  And if you try to use them that way you'll be seriously disappointed.  They are NOT a diet pill.  Research any "thermogenic" product before you even think about trying it.  They are very few that are worth the $.

Like I said, you can't out exercise or over-supplement a bad diet and expect results.  It won't happen.  They are SUPPLEMENTS.  They are meant to "supplement" an already sound exercise program and diet.  Only then will they do their thang.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Husband is Gone, Dog is Home, and I Can't Do First Grade Math

You know when your husband has to go to Japan for a week, and you have a diabetic 3 year old to care for all by yourself in addition to the 3 non-diabetic children?  And the same day your husband leaves you pick up your dog that's been at Diabetic Alert Dog boot camp for 2 months and bring her home, and you have to watch her every second to make sure she's picking up on blood sugar changes, and you have to take her EVERYWHERE you go because she's a service dog and she needs to perfect her service dog awesomeness (and let me tell you of her awesomeness - it is so awesome), and then 5 days later after no sleep and no showering which also results in no clothing changes you're all like, working out?  What's that?  And then you realize that there's a very real possibility that it's you that smells like dog crap and not the dog.  Oh OH!  And the best part is that as I was helping my daughter (who's in 1st grade mind you) with her homework tonight, for like 2 minutes I was convinced, CONVINCED that
7-2=4.  I even got mad at her for arguing with me, made her erase her answer, and then busted out the cheerios to show her my smartz.  I was like, if you have 7 cheerios, and you take away 2 cheerios there are....wait, 1 2 3 4......5 cheerios.  Forget working out.  Did I graduate from 1st grade???  Anyway, it's been a rough week.  For those of you who have been expecting collagen protein to arrive on your doorstep, I apologize.  My husband, being the fabulously reliable man that he is (when he feels like being anyway) left me a gigantic box of chews and protein powder for me to send out when he left on Monday.  It's sitting right here next to me actually.  Unfortunately, I haven't gotten to the "sending it out" part.  I almost did.  But then I realized that it would require taking my 3 year old, my still acclimating Diabetic Alert Dog, 2 giant boxes filled with protein packages, my Mary Poppins bag that now houses a small hospital, and a bag of doggie treats, balloons and streamers (Because if she alerts and she's right, we have to have a mega-party ON THE SPOT.  You know, to reinforce the good life-saving behavior we need her to perform.) to the post office.  And seriously, I love you guys enough to do that.  But I'm supposing that simple math could be involved in the process.  And at this point, that could be the linchpin.  So, don't hate me, but I will get them out to you next week.  I promise promise promise.  So far I have 5 people who have requested protein.  If anyone else is interested, don't hesitate to ask.  Next week?  We will be back to our regularly scheduled programming.  And I will try my hardest to not post a gajillion pictures of my doggie (her name is Lottie but I call her Shnuugs).
Seriously, I know.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

No Excuses

I spent the day packing for yet another excursion this weekend.  Tomorrow we're heading to St. George for my little girl's dance competition.  I have such a love/hate relationship with these things.  LOVE the dance part.  HATE the get dolled up like a 7 year old hooker part.  It's quite the conundrum.    

Anyway, I know I've talked relentlessly about all the smartz I gained last week in Vegas, but I haven't told you about the person I learned the most from.  I had the chance to meet this guy in person.  I even shook his hand.  Actually, I guess it would make more sense to say that I shook his elbow.  His name is Kyle Maynard.  He is without a doubt the most amazing and inspirational person I've ever met.  He gave the concluding presentation at the conference and it was moving in a way that I don't know how to put into words.  I wish so badly that my kids could have been there to hear it.  His message is one that resonates with literally everyone, because we all have times when we focus on the reasons why we think we can't do something instead of why we can.  He talked a lot about failure and why it's such an important and powerful thing to go through.  I love that.  Because really, our failures are what teach us what we're really made of.  His presentation is called "No Excuses."  He even named his Crossfit gym, No Excuses Crossfit.  And after you watch this short video about his awesomeness, I think that phrase will mean something different to you.

Happy weekend amigos!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

When the Ones You Love Just Don't Get It

I mentioned in my last post that I did a lot of thinking while I was on vacation.  That means you guys are in for a few intense posts.  I've wanted to talk about this for quite awhile but haven't quite been able to figure out how to approach the topic the right way.  So basically, here goes nothin.

Negativity from loved ones.  I think it's one of those things that everyone who embarks on a life-changing journey will encounter.  In a way, it's to be expected.  But when it involves diet, exercise habits, and body image, it can become an extremely sensitive situation.  The reason being that people carry a LOT of baggage related to the way they eat and how they feel about themselves.  I think it's also important to remember that the people you love have probably grown accustomed to having you play a certain role in their lives.  I remember about 7 years ago, when I decided to really get serious about taking my diet to the next level. For weeks my husband seemed constantly irritated with me.  Everything I did with regards to food and meals bothered him.  At the time, I took it personally.  I interpreted his irritation as his way of telling me that he didn't support my efforts to feed my children healthier and to be healthier myself.  I later discovered that it wasn't that at all.  It was that he was worried that we would never hoover another pizza together while watching Lost (we were a little obsessed with that one).  He was worried that our midnight drives to Dairy Queen were as much as over.  In a nutshell, he was worried that the things we loved to do together that involved eating crap would disappear, and therefore alter our relationship.  It took me a long time to be able to wrap my head around this concept.  But once I did, I actually understood why he felt the way he did.  And honestly, he was right.  All of those things did change, and I can't say that I wouldn't have felt the same way if the tables had been turned.  Me changing my ways meant that his life changed too even though I never asked for his permission and he never agreed to it.  That was hard for him.  We eventually realized that we had to find other things to do together that didn't involve eating junk.  Luckily, we worked through it.  And even though it took years (literally YEARS), eventually he got on board with me.  Hell, at this point, our livelihood is based solely on the health and wellness industry, and that was ALL him.  Don't get me wrong. We had a LOT of fights and a LOT of dinner outings that went belly up.  But it was through that process that I figured out how to navigate my life without constantly worrying about people being annoyed with my health conscious decisions.  

An important thing to remember when someone you love makes disapproving or downright unkind comments about your lifestyle is that it's really not about you at all.  It's about them.  You're doing what you're doing for you.  They should do whatever they choose to do for them.  You're not to blame for making healthy changes, and they're not to blame for being uncomfortable with those changes.  It takes time for everyone to adapt.  You have to toughen up and let the negative comments roll off your back.  Because really, part of this whole lifestyle change is to stop worrying so much about what other people think.  Healthy changes wont stick unless you're desire to change is ONLY for you.  Besides, once they realize that you're serious about making healthy changes, odds are, they'll come around.  And even more interesting is that when people see you sticking to your goals and making progress in your life, they sometimes even become interested and will start asking you about it.  Which leads me to my next point.  Try not to dole out advice unless it's asked for.  Preaching about your latest health and wellness discovery at a family party is a recipe for disaster.  Take it from someone who's made that mistake a time or two.  I thought people would be interested and excited to hear about my nutrition and exercise breakthroughs.  But in reality, all it did was make them feel bad.  Again, that wasn't necessarily my problem, but it's worth making the effort to be sensitive to the fact maybe your loved ones haven't reached the point of wanting to change their ways yet.  Remember that most people have intense emotions attached to food, exercise, and their body.  You probably do too, but you've chosen to control them instead of letting them control you.  Leave people to their highest intelligence and let them see you paving the way.  That is the single most powerful thing you can do. 

My last suggestion is to try to surround yourself with like-minded people.  I don't mean that you should ditch your family or blow off your neighbors.  I just mean that you should make a point to spend a significant amount of time around people who  support you and will even participate with you in making healthy changes.  My workout/fitness palls are so instrumental in helping me stay motivated.  If I take my eye off the ball, they don't hesitate to smack me around a little and remind me to stay focused.  And how's this for ironic?  My husband has become one of them.  He'll even go as far as to literally push me out of bed in the morning if I don't get up at my normal time to workout.  Seriously, I never thought I'd see the day.  It's awesome to have that kind of support.  And I'm telling you, if MY husband was able to accept and become supportive of my efforts, any spouse can.  Believe me.  It wasn't pretty for the first few years.  And now I'm shouting from the rooftops that his hydrolyzed collagen protein powder is the single most amazing supplement on the planet.  If you know us at all, you know what an unlikely scenario this was.  

Stick to your guns my friends.  You'll influence more people than you might think.  It's possible that your harshest critics might end up being you're biggest supporters.  Don't forget that.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Beat the Travel Bloat

While I was out of town last weekend I started thinking about things that pertain to nutrition and traveling.  I made a mental list of all the things that I do differently now than I did several years ago.  Basically that means I have about 10 posts on diet and travel written in my head.  I'm going to try to condense them into one.  But it might turn into two.  Possibly three.  Hang with me while I empty my head into my computer.

I used to dread going on vacation.  I didn't dread the vacation itself, but I dreaded the deviation from my normal eating habits.  Can anyone relate???  A vacation from my every day life used to mean a vacation from my every day diet awareness too.  I hated knowing that I'd most likely come home feeling bloated, disappointed in myself, and unmotivated to get my nutrition back on track.  Seriously, for me, it defeated the purpose of going on a trip.  That was until about 4-5 years ago, when I discovered that there was a better way.  I call it, Plan - Prepare - and Stay Aware.  Catchy right?  Okay, let's break it down.

First of all, you have to plan.  I know it's fun to go to a new location and fly by the seat of your pants.  It's fun to try an exotic restaurant on a whim.  Trust me.  I know.  I get it.  And really, I think it's fine to do that on a vacation.  Maybe once or twice (honestly though, I just don't do it anymore because...situational eating).  But here's the thing, if you want to be able to stick to your eating habits (mostly), you HAVE to make a plan.  Get online and scope out all the cool restaurants in the area.  Then make a list of the ones that offer the kinds of things that will work for you.  But let's be honest.  I don't think there's a restaurant on the entire planet at which you wouldn't be able to order a salad topped with some sort of lean protein and vinaigrette on the side.  In fact, just on this last trip we ended up in a restaurant that didn't have that kind of thing on the menu.  I asked the server if it would be possible for them to make me a big green salad with sliced chicken breast on top.  No problem-O.  I was extra hungry, so I also ordered some roasted pumpkin and apples on the side.  I was more than satisfied with my meal despite the fact that everyone else was having deep fried...everything.  I walked away feeling extremely glad that I resisted the urge to partake of the battered, deep fried goodness.  Blech!  Figure out where you're going to eat and what you plan to order.  It sounds excessive, I know.  But it works.  I know it can get tricky when you're traveling with other people, especially when they all want to go to a restaurant that just doesn't offer what you need.  But here's your chance to exercise a little willpower and set a good example.  You don't have to be a downer or self-rightous about it.  Just figure out a way to hit another restaurant and order something "to go", and then go back and join your posse.  Will it irk some people?  Yeah, probably (and we'll talk about that soon), but that's their problem, not yours.  Do what works for you and let other people do what works for them.

Next?  You have to prepare.  What I mean by that is be prepared with snacks or quick meals for those times when the plan changes and you have to just roll with it.  Also, unless you have the willpower to skip the pancakes, waffles, and french toast, don't go out to breakfast.  I learned this little trick a loooooong time ago.  I just don't go out to breakfast.  Ever.  If I start the day with a high carb, high sugar, low protein breakfast, I'm doomed.  So I simply don't put myself in a situation where that could happen.  I always always always take my breakfasts with me.  Remember my oatmeal post?  I was dead serious when I told you that I eat it every single morning.  Regardless of where I am, I eat my protein oatmeal.  I call it...Proatmeal.  These are my proatmeals in Ziploc bags.  I just put them in a mug or a bowl and add hot water.  It's quick, easy, and healthy, and it allows me more time to fit in a substantial morning workout when I'm out of town.  And best of all, I avoid the temptation to order that giant stack of pancakes drenched in syrup.

Another important thing to plan is snacks.  I hate having to run into a gas station or gift shop or whatever to try and find a semi-healthy snack.  It's nearly impossible.  Not to mention the fact that you'll have hoards of candy bars and potato chips just begging you to purchase them.  I know that sometimes it's unavoidable, in which case you just do the best you can.  But the better option is to be prepared.  I like to make my own protein bars before I go out of town (let me know if you'd like the recipe).  I just throw a bunch of them in little Ziploc bags so that they're readily available.  Apparently I have a thing for Ziploc bags.  I also take nuts and beef jerky with me, and often times I'll take some clementines and/or dried fruit as well just to have on hand.  And remember those collagen protein chews I mentioned?  I usually take a whole bag of those bad boys as does my husband (we sort of have an unlimited supply).  Prepare prepare prepare.  I can't stress that enough.  Do your best to not get stuck in the gift shop.  Those stores aren't exactly conducive to healthy eating.

My last suggestion is to always be aware.  Be aware of what how you're feeling before you sit down to a meal or reach for a snack.  It's okay to cheat a little, but don't do it on the fly. Make it a conscious decision and then don't worry about it.  Here's a good example.  Last Friday, after an incredibly long day, the hubs and I finally headed out to get dinner.  It was 10:00 pm.  We ended up at a cute little Italian restaurant.  I was fine with that mostly because it was the only place we could find that was relatively quiet.  We were there to eat, but also to celebrate a little.  So, I quickly made a plan in my head that I thought would probably work.  Tomatoes on mozzarella slices as an appetizer, salad with chicken and prosciutto - dressing on the side as an entree, and whatever dessert looked good.  See?  Preemptive cheat.  It was a celebration, so I planned my cheat.  I also planned to only eat 1/2 of my dessert.  And that's exactly what I did.  How?  Well, I made the decision beforehand so I didn't have to grapple over having just one more bite. I made my plan and then I remained aware.  Now, that might seem like it would take the "fun" out of going out to eat, and you know, I guess for some people it might.  But if you are more committed to living healthfully and eating a healthy lean diet than you are to maintaining the "enjoyment" factor of food, it's a no-brainer.  Honesty, it's the perfect happy medium.  You don't have to give up every single indulgence, you just have to plan, and then you can choose your indulgences wisely.  It takes practice, sure, but habits are created by the things that you practice the most.  If you practice controlled indulgences and stay mindful of your actions, you'll be surprised how quickly it becomes a habit.  I have this little list of tips saved as an image on my phone.  I can't tell you how many times I've pulled it up and looked at it while I was traveling.  It's simple, but it works.

You can stay on track with your diet while traveling.  Really, you can.  I have more ideas on the subject (of course) and I'll get to them.  But I'd love to know what you think about this so far.  I'd also love to know some of your strategies for staying on track while you're on vacation.