The Whole 30 reset program, what it is and why is isn’t for me.. Right now.

Well, I made the big announcement on social media that I would be doing the Whole 30, and planned to share my experience throughout the 30 days. But, not even a week into it and I quit, for now. Though I have my reasons! First, I will say that although I am no longer following the Whole 30 program, I do think it is an amazing set of guidelines for those looking to truly restore their health and mental balance with food, and I plan to fully commit to doing it in the future. Even while writing this blog post I had new inspiration to just start it again now, but I know that at the moment I do not have the right mentality. So, I will wait to try it again until I’m feeling more balanced in that way. My partner, Tim, is still primarily following the guidelines, with just a couple minor tweaks to better fit our lifestyle. (his review is below)image

Why we decided to give it a go..

A few weeks ago my partner Tim came home from a ‘Mans Trip’, basically a fun weekend away, just guys, hanging out and drinking on the island of Mallorca (also known as the 17th German state, as it’s pretty much been taken over by German party goers ūüėČ and out of the blue suggested we try the Whole 30 reset program. Granted he had already been thinking it was time to make some dietary changes, more along the lines of my eating, and cut back on treats that we both love (our weakness is chocolate), but it wasn’t until after this trip that he was really ready to commit to making a change.

I had been previously trying to do a type of body reset through eating on my own, to hopefully help discover some food allergies and intolerances but was having a hard time keeping up with it. I thought this could be a great way to try and solve some health issues, and we would be supporting each other through it all and keep any tempting food items away. So, we went on a massive grocery shopping trip and stocked up with the goods, to start the new week strong.

What it is..

The Whole 30 is an eating program was created by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, with the information and guidelines freely shared on their website. The book, which goes more in depth is titled “The Whole 30. The 30 day guide to TOTAL HEALTH and FOOD FREEDOM”.¬†The primary things that you can eat are: vegetables, fruit, health fats, and protein coming from meat and egg sources. You can have no sugar, no alcohol, no grains, no legumes (beans), no soy, no additives (such as MSG), and no healthy treat recreations (such as banana pancakes). They share a variety of free PDFs on the website, including the¬†Whole 30 Shopping List.

There are many reasons why they suggest people give it a go (you can read more on their website here), but two of the mains reasons are:

  1. To help “reset” your body, clear it from toxins, and replenish it with whole foods. It helps to restore your metabolism, balance the immune system and heal the gut. According to Whole 30 testimonials, it has helped many people find relief from a variety of bad health issues, such as skin conditions, chronic fatigue, arthritis, diabetes and so many more. It has also helped many lose weight and/or change their body composition.
  2. To move past and cut the emotional ties with food, and the unhealthy habits and cravings. To readjust the body and mind to see food for what it is, fuel. To learn and gain a new self awareness of what your body truly needs, not just wants and craves.

My reasoning for wanting to try it out stemmed from both of these, wanting to try and solve some health issues that I believed were food related and gain better control of my emotional ties with food and even my body image. Tim’s primary reason was more so the 1st, to reset the body, and potentially change his body composition and give him a fresh start towards healthier eating.

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Salad with cucumber, carrots, cherry tomatoes, olives, celery, hard boiled egg & Avocado balsamic

We started the 1st week strong and made a variety of healthy and delicious meals, using only Whole30 approved ingredients. We made things such as Cauliflower “Rice”, Stirfry, Baked Eggs, salads and tons of fresh fruit, We followed strictly for about 4 days, and during those days we both were a bit more sensitive and emotional than usual (I was at least), and I realised that at least for me, it was too much. It has been a very emotional and difficult past month, for a variety of reasons, and even after just a few days it was putting an even bigger strain on me. Also, as I am allergic to a variety of meats (beef, pork, salmon, tuna) and vegetables (peas, corn and sweet potatoes), this li tied my options and meant my primary protein sources were only chicken and eggs, and let me tell you, there is only so much you can eat. And without the more starchy sweet potato, it was hard to feel satisfied after some of my meals.

So, we decided to set our own new personalized guidelines, that would work for each of us differently, while still adapting many of the Whole 30 guidelines. Tim choose to primarily still follow it as a whole, as he felt it was working great for him and he has plenty to choose from and make (he loves his meat). And I decided to add back in Oatmeal and Quinoa, and at least one serving of dairy a day for a different type of protein and calcium source (from either curd or cottage cheese). We also decide to add in one “treat” meal a week, that may or may not include things on the ‘no’ list, and really do our best to stick¬†to that.

Tim’s thoughts on the Whole 30

“I’ve really been liking it because I still feel I can eat so many delicious things. The main thing I miss is cheese! My main meals are eggs with mushrooms and some type of meat in the morning. I prepare apple slices and hard boiled eggs for snacks, and another veggie and meat dish for lunch, which usually include sweet potatoes to help me stay full longer. Dinner is a variety of yummy meals we make together, such as cauliflower rice and veggies, turkey and veggie chilli (minus the beans), veggie and egg bake, so many options. At first my sleep was a bit disrupted and I was having some mood swings, but after a few days, my body adjusted and I began to have more energy after work and avoided the post work slump. And even though I’m not 100% strict on every single rule 24/7, I can see and feel my body composition changing, and my cravings are not as intense.’

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Lettuce wraps with cauliflower rice, veggies & mustard avocado balsamic sauce

Alena’s Whole 30 meal ideas:

As Tim and I eat dinner together every night, I have also been eating Whole 30 meals with him, such as listed above. In general I’ve been making an effort to eat more whole, fresh foods and here are just a few of my current favorite meal and snack ideas which follow the Whole 30 guidelines: large salad topped with sliced carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, hard boiled eggs and a homemade avocado balsamic dressing. Lettuce wraps with cauliflower “rice” and veggies, topped with a homemade avocado mayonnaise. Egg scramble with spinach, avocado, tomato. Sliced banana and apple with almond butter.

As I mentioned above, while rereading the guidelines and the reasons why people do this Whole 30 “reset”, it got me thinking again about the reasons I think it could really help people solve some health issues and restore a balance and healthy relationship with food. And so I do plan to try it again someday, and will share that experience when the time comes.

If you have any questions the Whole 30 website is full of free information. I was also very pleased to see that there is an active and vibrant online community, sharing their love of the #whole30 ,supporting each other and sharing meal ideas, so one would never truly be alone in this journey.

Much love, Alena

One year of BBG ~ Review of Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide

My Year with the Bikini Body Guides

I’ve been trying to find the words to write about my experience over the past year, but when I think back on it there is so much that happened, and so many ways in which I grew, and it has been hard to put it all into words. So this might come across as a ramble, but I want to share my history and experience with the guides.

I first discovered Australian personal trainer, Kayla Itsines’s Instagram account last year, around February/March of 2014, about 6 months after I made my big lifestyle change. I loved what she was promoting, that women should love and take care of their bodies through proper nutrition and fitness. She had recently began featuring her clients transformations and I was so inspired by all these women who had changed their lives around and become stronger healthier versions of themselves. This is one of the reasons I decided to start my own Fitness and Healthy Lifestyle Instagram account (@healthylivingdreams) Summer of 2014, to also share my journey to a healthier life. I began incorporating many of her workout tips, trying Pylometric (jump) training for the first time, and loved her style of training. Her workout videos inspired me to try new exercises and push myself out of my comfort zone. Over the next few months I continued to follow her tips, while also doing my own research and trying different training styles, but I never followed a plan of any kind.

End of August 2014, nearly 6 months after discovering her account, I decided I was finally ready to try out her training program, I was ready to follow a real guide and have more structure to my workouts. So I decided to purchase her guide. But the week I made the final decision, she came out with her 2.0 version, and from what I saw it featured more weights, which I had come to love and so purchased this guide instead. What I didn’t realize at the time, was the 2nd guide really was a continuation of the 1st guide, and was meant to be done after completing the 1st. The first few weeks were great, but towards the end of 2.0 I realized I had not properly built up my strength for some of the exercise combos (especially the arm exercises), and it was a serious challenge to finish the 2.0 guide. But I pushed through and I did my best, and finished end of December 2014. I also repeated a few weeks, as during this period I had a huge life change and had moved to Germany. You can read more about my journey with 2.0 here. ~Note: I Strongly recommend starting with the Bikini Body Guide 1.0, unless you have a very strong strength and endurance Fitness background.~

On January 5th, 2015, I decided to start the BBG 1.0 alongside Thousands of women from around the world, in a joint movement called #thekaylamovement. Literally thousands of women from all around the world came together to start fresh and start strong and work towards healthier versions of themselves. I felt Inspired and so Motivated knowing I was part of such a determined and supportive group of women. We were working towards our own individual goals but also working as a TEAM.

Those next 12 weeks were truly an unforgettable experience. Not just because it was my first time completing the BBG1.0, but also because I connected with some of the most amazing women who were on their own journey towards becoming a healthier version of themselves, and strengthened friendships with others I had known from the beginning of my Instagram journey. During those 12 weeks I pushed myself to new limits, and discovered a physical and mental strength I never knew I possessed. And even though I had to take a week off towards the end due to terrible case of food poisoning (or the flu) I still finished strong and saw and felt amazing results both mentally and physically.

Then began #thek2movement, with a new start date for any women (or man) in the world who wanted to start together, or continue on to the BBG2.0. I continued on, starting my 2nd round of this guide, but much better prepared physically. Overall, I started this with enthusiasm and determination to keep seeing and feeling progress. But as many people experience, I went through some down phases both in my personal and fitness life, and started to become very frustrated with my progress and lost some of my motivation. I stopped doing the extra challenges found in the 2.0 guide and barely finished those last few weeks. I felt unmotivated, frustrated and in a way stuck. I write this with honesty because I want you all to know that it hasn’t always been all uphill, I haven’t always had full on motivation or even loved the guides at all times and there was a point where I considered giving them up all together.

I was so thankful that I had planned a vacation right around the time I would finish up with BBG2.0 for the 2nd time. My body and my mind needed a break from the routine, and those 10 days were an extremely important time of rest and reflection of my journey up to that point. While I was traveling internationally in Spain and then England, the 3rd round of #thekaylamovement began, and I was still unsure of what to do next. But during my time in the U.K. I was so fortunate to attend a BBG Meet-Up in London, a workout session which I lead. Being around these other ladies, in person, pushing ourselves and each other during the workouts reignited my passion and love for these guides. One 35 minute sweat session and an hour or two chatting with other like-minded women was all it took to inspire me to keep going with my BBG journey.

So I came back to Germany and recommitted to giving it another go. Continuing on, jumping into Week 2 to be along side the group, and this time adding in the Nutrition guide for the 1st time, known as the H.E.L.P guide (Healthy Eating Lifestyle Plan). A nutrition and meal plan guide that does not revolve around counting calories, but teaches about minimal intake of each of the Macro and Micro nutrient food groups (grains, dairy, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, liquids, vitamins, etc.). Although I had been eating fairly well and healthy, I hadn’t realized how low my vegetable, protein and calcium intake had been. I followed the servings sizes fairly strictly for the first 7-8 weeks or so (with the occasional treat meal and extra servings on the weekends). It worked well for a time, and taught me a lot, but as I’ve been on my fitness journey for about 1.5 years, my body was craving and needed more food. So, I recently have increased my servings from most of the food groups. I still aim to get in the Minimal servings as suggested in the H.E.L.P guide, but I eat more now. As our metabolisms get better, and our endurance grows, our bodies require more food to function properly and to fuel us in our daily activities.

As of August 25th, I have hit the ONE YEAR mark of my journey with the Bikini Body Guides (48 weeks of actual workouts, as I missed  a few here and there due to moving or being sick). When I started these guides I had no idea how long I would stick to it, or where my journey would lead me. I only knew I was ready to see and feel a change and work towards a Healthier and Stronger version of myself.  And Now One Year later, I am So proud of myself to sticking with it and for developing healthier habits and new found appreciation of my body. It was a completely new experience for me and I learned and grew in so many ways. Not only physically but mentally as well. Sticking to something and truly committing, picking yourself up and continuing to move forward even you feel unmotivated and that progress is slow is a huge mental accomplishment as well.  And knowing I was able to do this, gives me Strength and Confidence as I continue on my journey.

Edit* In just 1 week I will finish my 4th round of doing the guides! Over the past few weeks I have begun to incorporate extra weights, in place of one of the BBG resistance sessions and have been loving it. As I am studying to become a Personal Trainer myself, I have been enjoying coming up with my own weight routines and so will be focusing on developing these during the next part of my journey. The BBG will always hold a special place in my journey,¬† and perhaps I will continue to use it in some ways, as my HIIT workouts, or mix and match with my own. But just as I did prior to starting these guides, I will use my own knowledge to and research to create something that works for me and my individual needs and preferences. I’m ready to set some new goals and challenge myself in new ways, and very excited to see where this next part of my journey takes me.

If you are on the fence about starting the Bikini Body Guides, or your Fitness/Healthy journey in general, please don’t hesitate to email me with any questions you might have ‚̧¬† healthylivingdreams25@gmail.com

¬†¬†¬†¬† Thank you to all who have been apart of my Journey this past year. You have all truly had such a positive impact on my life and my progress and I am forever grateful. ‚̧ Alena

Staying Hydrated in Style: Infruition Fruit Infuser Water Bottles

imageFruit Infuser Water Bottles to get that Essential Daily H2O, Water, Agua your Body needs!

I see Water as an ESSENTIAL part of Life. Something that is¬† not only essential for my well being and survival but also to help me keep working towards my fitness goals. Lucky for me I like to drink water and have never been a soda drinker, but I have to admit, water can get a little boring sometimes and it’s hard to drink enough…

But thanks to these amazing new Fruit Infuser water bottles from Infruition, I have been staying hydrated in style and actually looking forward to drinking more water and trying new flavor combinations! I was fortunate enough to receive these bottles to try and test and have been loving them! They come in 4 different colors and two Bottle styles, a beautiful glass bottle or a Plastic Sport bottle. So I am set whether I’m going to work or hitting the gym!

Water is so important, It hydrates us and aids in detoxification, there are truly so many benefits: “All functions of the body require water; a crucial component of the biological make up of all human cells. Water helps flush out toxins from organs, it enables the liver to metabolize stored fat quicker, giving our overworked kidneys a break. The oxygen in water carried from cell to cell helps build muscle and increase cognitive and nerve functions Drinking water can help lose weight, reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles, and maintain healthy skin and nails.” (source: http://bembu.com) By drinking Infused water, you are not only getting the amazing detoxification benefits from Water, but from the Fruit and/or vegetables and spices as well. Each fruit, vegetable and spice has it’s own beneficial qualities. The great thing about Infusing your water, is that you can mix and match, cut and chop and create combinations or simple one fruit Infusions of your hearts desire.image

Directions: Wash your fruit. Peal if necessary. Slice and dice to better release the flavors. Throw it in the Infruition Fruit chamber, but don’t pack it too full as you want the water to be able to move through the fruit chamber a bit. Fill your bottle with some quality H2O. Lit sit in the fridge overnight or at least 4-6 hours. The longer you leave it in, the stronger the flavor. I love to get the most out of my fruit, so I leave in fridge overnight or for a few hours, drink as desired and then keep refilling the bottle with more water throughout the day.

Thanks to the Crew from Infruition Water I have really been staying on top of my hydration and have been enjoying coming up with New Flavors and Combinations the past few weeks. They are a company based out of London and have the sweetest staff, who have been very gracious and helpful. And they have generously offered my followers a discount. Use my code HLD20 for a 20% discount off your Infruition bottle purchase,¬†http://www.infruition.co.uk/ Happy Hydrating! ‚̧ Alena