5 Things to Give Up to Live Your Best Life.

Sunny days in Portland, OR.

Hey all! Long time no Blog. Adjusting to my new life in Portland, OR has been wonderful but also taken some time and energy to feel more fully adjusted to living in the United States more permanently again (after spending the past few years living back and forth between Europe -Spain, then Germany- and the US). I’ll admit, I have had both ups and downs as I’ve adjusted; to a new home, a new city, new career and being more independent again. But with each day I’m feeling more and more at home in this city, all while meeting new people, branching out into new communities, trying new things and trying to establish myself as a Personal Trainer in this active and amazing place.

This new experience, and all my previous experiences of moving and living abroad, have each taught me something new, about myself and what I am capable of. But I will admit, I am an Overthinker and tend to question myself and my abilities, and often care TOO MUCH about what others think of me and what I am doing, which has lead to negative self talk. This is something I am Always actively trying to work past. And though not every day is easy, I am getting better about TRULY Believing in and Loving Myself, and letting go of trying to please everyone.

I have kept this simple, yet profound list as my screen saver on my phone and written out posted on my wall, to remind myself Each & Every Day of these things and help myself live A Better Life. 

5 Things to Give Up:

1.Overthinking. Of all the things on this list, this is perhaps (in my opinion) the most important thing to give up. So may of us tend to question what we are doing and saying, and how those around us are responding. We need to let it go and stop overthinking!

2. Fearing Change. We tend to get comfortable in certain things, which is not necessarily a bad thing. But don’t let that stop you from trying something new! Or branching out to chat with people from different backgrounds, and potentially meet new friends.

3. Living in the Past. We can learn from past experiences or we can let them consume us with “what if’s”, what if I had done that differently? What if I had done this? Done that? But EACH of those experiences brought us here today, helped teach us and shape us into who we are, or maybe taught us what we don’t want to become. I try to view every past experience as some type of learning experience, no matter how painful it may be, and let it all fuel me forward into becoming a better person and leading a better life.

4. Negative Self-Talk. YOU, above everyone else deserves your love and affection and kindness. If we cannot love and talk kindly to ourselves, how do we expect to be able to fully do that for others . My journey has involved a long road to self love and acceptance, and pushing past any type of negative self-talk, whether it was towards myself mentally or my physical appearance.  I’m still working on it everyday, but each day I get a little better at pushing away those negative thoughts and replacing them with loving, positive, empowering words towards myself.

5. Trying to Please Everyone. WHY, why do we even want to please everyone!? Or have their approval? Shouldn’t we be happy that we are unique individuals being who we want to be and not worry? I understand it is easier said than done. During my time in the Social Media Fitness & Health World, I’ve constantly had to remind myself to BE MYSELF. I’ve had to take many breaks to re-evaulate my message, my journey and the way I share things to make sure I am doing so from a place of honesty and truth, NOT just to please and appease everyone. I’ve had to remind myself almost daily to “Be Happy. Be who you want to be. If others don’t like it, then let them be. Happiness is a choice. Life isn’t about pleasing everybody.” and with each day it gets a little easier to do so.

This is just a small list but I encourage you to GIVE THESE THINGS UP, work on Loving and Accepting Yourself, and day by day learn to believe in yourself and your truth a little more.

What is YOUR number one thing to give up to live your best life!?

Much love, Alena ❤

 

 

Healthy Living: Change Your Mindset, Change your Life.

image“To Change your Life, you have to Change Yourself.  To Change Yourself, you have to Change your Mindset.”

Above all, I am aiming to live my life in a healthy and balanced way. For me that has meant creating healthy eating, exercise and everyday habits, and saying goodbye to the things that brought me down. It has also meant surrounding myself with like minded and supportive people. And learning to think about things in a different way. But it is all a constant learning experience and each day I learn something new about what it means for me to Live a Balanced Lifestyle.

Starting around the age of 14, I began drinking alcohol and formed some very unhealthy relationships with my body and food. I was young and impressionable, and wanted so badly to fit in. I had no idea that amount of damage I was doing to my body, or that this beginning would lead to almost 10 years of continued unhealthy habits, and in some ways get much worse. Until the age of 24 I suffered on and off from a variety of eating disorders or at least disordered thinking, that caused me to sometimes skip meals, or binge and purge. I also went though a long stage of partying and drinking excessively. All of which were so harmful to my body and I am so happy and grateful to have moved on and away from these habits.

It took me a long time to realize that I not only had to change my Habits, but I had to change my Mindset as well. I had to stop thinking about myself in a negative way, and start loving  and taking care of my body. I had to stop viewing food as a comforter and start viewing it as Fuel. I had to stop viewing Alcohol as a means to escape life’s problems, and a confidence booster blanket when socializing and learn to deal with my problems in a different way, I had to learn to be confident in myself, by myself, without the aid of a substance. And once I finally changed my mindset and the way I thought about things, it changed everything. I was able to move forward with my life, and start working towards a healthier and happier version of myself.

I understand it can be hard to change. For years, I always had an excuse in my mind why it was okay to keep living this way,  ‘I’m young, I deserve to live wild and free, my body will recover later.” But there came a point where Enough was Enough. The damage I was doing to my Body was catching up with me, and I could not only feel it physically but mentally as well. I was putting my Body and Mental Well Being in Danger and putting my Family and Loved ones through more than they deserved.image

Until I decided I HAD TO make a Change. It wasn’t a complete 180* in the beginning, but with time I have given up the extreme unhealthy and bad habits. Over the past one and a half years I have worked so hard to get to where I am and I have changed so much, not only physically, but mentally as well. With time, I have given up old unhealthy eating and drinking habits, and learned to find a balance with food and alcohol and taking care of my body and mind. I am in a much better place and more optimistic about the future. But I still have hard days sometimes, days where I am unmotivated, scared about the future and filled with unexplainable sadness. But I now know I can get past those days, and I do not need to turn to food and alcohol for comfort. And nowadays, the good and happy days far outweigh the bad and that is also a huge form of progress for me towards a healthy and balanced life.

While Fitness and proper nutrition have helped me in many ways, changing my outlook on life has truly played a huge part in my healthy journey. I try to start the day with a positive thought, and reflect on the previous day. I try to forgive myself for my mistakes, and set intentions to do better. And when I am feeling down I try to remind myself how truly lucky I am to be alive, with a roof over my head, food to eat and people that love and support me. It puts my “problems” into perspective.

Here is a list of things I try to do each morning before getting out of bed:

  • Express Gratitude.
  • Set my Intentions for the day.
  • Take 5 long deep breaths in and out.
  • Smile for no reason just to flex the muscles.
  • Forgive myself for yesterdays mistakes.

Living this healthy lifestyle and changing my outlook of life and my mindset has helped me in so many ways. I am excited to keep learning and expanding my health and fitness knowledge, helping as many as I can along the way. I am more optimistic about the future, and my place in this world. I am motivated to keep moving forward, progressing towards a better version of myself one day at a time.

To SEE and FEEL Progress, You must be willing to Change something. Your Lifestyle, Your Mindset, Whatever it is that is holding you back, because progress is Impossible without Change. But never give up, because Change is Possible! ❤ Alena

 

Healthy Living: Let Today be the Start of Something New.

imageNew Day, New Month, New Goals. Each day truly is an Opportunity to Change your Life for the Better. So, Let Today be the Start of Something New. 

Each day we have a choice to start something new. You can Start small and decide that Today is the day you will start walking or biking to work instead of taking the car, or the day you start using the stairs instead of the elevator. Today is the day you start adding one spoonful of sugar instead of two, or switching it out all together for a more natural sweetener such as Stevia or Honey. Today is the day you start trading your candy bar for a piece of fruit, your soda or beer for a tea or fruit infused water. Today is the day you will stop skipping breakfast, and start your day right with a fueling and filling meal, firing up your Metabolism. Today is the day you start better organizing your schedule to make sure you have time for your workouts, meal planning/prepping and downtime. Today is the day you Drink More WATER, the Liquid of Life. Today is the day you spend Less time on your cellphone and More time with Loved ones! Check out my Blog Post “Finding a Balance” for more tips on making small changes towards a Healthier Life.

Each day is an Opportunity to Push ourselves and keep working towards our goals. Try a Join a new Fitness class you’ve been thinking about and workout alongside all those other people working towards similar goals, support and push each other. Do some research about healthy meals, and try cooking a new one for yourself, or get more serious about meal planning and prepping (personal goal). Start adding in more Yoga to your normal routine (another personal goal). Venture into the “Guy area” of your Gym and hit the Squat rack! And don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice! Never forget that everyone starts somewhere. Or start the training program you’ve been debating doing! My personal recommendation is Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide, which I have been following for the past 8 months and love, as it has truly pushed me to new Limits and helped me grow and improve in so many ways! (if you are interested in trying the Guide click here for a Free week of Workouts and Here for the Full Guides).

Sometimes it can seem intimidating and overwhelming to make a Change, but that is why you can start small and gradually add in more and more. It is the little things we do that truly add up to Big, Staggering results! So don’t be afraid to start, to change, to try something new. Because today is another day to start/keep working towards your goals, and a healthier and happier version of yourself.

Today is the day to Find, Try and Do something that your Future Self will Thank You for!

If you are feeling lost or unsure of where to start or simply looking for some extra support and guidance on your healthy journey check out my Mentoring/Support Page and send me an email at healthylivingdreams25@gmail.com

❤ Much Love, Alena

Oatmeal: My Favorite Quick and Nutritious Breakfast, Here’s Why.

imageOats, Oats, Oats. So many delicious recipes and possibilities with this little grain! Oatmeal Pancakes, Oatmeal Cookies, Protein Oat Cakes, adding Oats into your Morning Smoothie and of course “plain” old Oatmeal!

Lately I have been on a such an Oatmeal kick! Scroll to the bottom for 2 of my Fav Oatmeal recipes for Breakfast!

After doing some nutritional research this Winter, I decided to change up my eating habits a bit and start incorporating a bigger variety of foods. One of my goals was to switch up my breakfast as well, as my beloved toast with eggs and avocado was getting just a tad boring and taking too much time to prepare in the morning, so much so that sometimes I would skip breakfast before work, or just have a couple of rice cakes. I wanted something easy to prepare, something delicious and something filling and nutritious that would fuel me for the day! That is when I decided to really give Oatmeal a go. Of course I had tried it before, but would eat it very rarely.

So, I began experimenting with different Oatmeal combinations, and quickly discovered that I really DO Love Oatmeal. It is so easy and quick to prepare, you can add so many different delicious things to it and it has some Amazing Health Benefits!!! It’s no wonder it’s one of the health crazes that has stick around! Since switching to Oatmeal for my normal weekday breakfast, I feel I have more energy for the day and I don’t have as many cravings, and those are just the things I can notice! Here are some other benefits as well.

Benefits of adding Oats into your Diet

  • Oats contains important fibers that help you to feel full longer (whereas a breakfast full of sugars and fats can make you feel full for a brief period but you will become hungry again much quicker.) meaning you are likely to eat less later in the day.
  • Fiber helps control blood sugar levels, so you don’t have an energy crash, and helps with digestion.
  • Eating oatmeal can help lower your cholesterol, especially your LDL, or “bad” cholesterol.
  • Oatmeal is low in fat and is a whole grain that is a source of protein, iron, magnesium and B vitamins.
  • Can help protect skin, “The starchiness of oats creates a barrier that allows the skin to hold its moisture, while the rougher fibrous husk of the oat acts as a gentle exfoliant.” -Written by Sara Bonham Click the link to check out her article on Life Hack for even more amazing benefits!

All the Benefits listed above have to do with OATS, and while Oatmeal is of course made from Oats it is Important to be aware of what type of Oats you are actually eating. Generally speaking the larger the Oat, as in rolled oats or steel cut oats, the less processed it will be, the more nutrients it will have and the longer it will take to digest. I tend to buy either Whole or Fine oats, but Never Instant! The majority of the time Instant oats are packed with sugar! You might think those Cinnamon Apple flavor oats are healthy, but check the nutrition label and you will see that many instant oats actually have a lot of added sugar. I always buy completely plain oats and add my own natural sweeteners such as Stevia drops or honey, although generally my fruit toppings give my oats enough sweetness, in my opinion.

Some of my usual (but not all at once) Oatmeal ingredients include: Oats, Eggs, Water, Oat Milk, Strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries (frozen and/or fresh), Ground Flax Seed, Maca Powder, Chocolate Protein Powder, Chia Seeds, Stevia drops, Yogurt (although lately I am avoiding dairy as much as possible).image

Here are my two favorite Oatmeal recipes Can be prepared in the morning, or partially prepped at night. Note: I rarely measure out things but these are the approximations of what I add.

Choco~Peanut Butter~Fruity Oats: 1-1.5 Cup of Oats, 1/2 scoop chocolate protein powder, 1/4 cup frozen Raspberries, 1/2 a Banana, 1 tsp Peanut Butter and Oat Milk.

  • Directions: Mix Dry Ingredients first, then add water so that Oatmeal is completely saturated, add in frozen Berries and put in microwave for about 2-3 minutes on high. Take out and add in Peanut Butter, Fresh Banana and top with Milk of choice.
  • For Overnight Oats, simply follow all steps above except for microwaving. Add all ingredients together and stick in fridge overnight so your breakfast is ready to go in the morning!

Healthy Fats, Protein & Fruity Oats: 1-1.5 Cup Oats, 1 tbsp ground Flax Seed, Chia seeds, 1/4 cup frozen raspberries, 1/4 cup frozen Blueberries, 1 Egg, yogurt or milk of choice (I use Oat milk or Goat yogurt).

  • Directions: Mix dry ingredients first, then add water so oatmeal is covered but not completely soaked. Add in egg and mix well. Add in frozen berries (or fresh if you have them) and stir again. Place on microwave on high for about 2 minutes, stir once, then microwave again for 1-2 minutes. Take out and top with a bit of Milk of your choice or Yogurt. Add a few Stevia drops or honey for bit of added sweetness (although I don’t think it needs it). Enjoy!

 More recipes coming soon! Hope you enjoy!

Much Love, Alena ❤

Tips for Traveling: Food & Fitness

IMG_1572 I absolutely LOVE traveling and try to take little trips whenever I can, but it can sometimes be difficult to stay on track with my normal eating and exercise habits while traveling. I understand how traveling can mess with the normal rhythm and routine. Being away from home without access to your usual food and unable to prepare your own meals can make it hard to stick to an eating plan. And being without access to a gym can make it hard to stay on top of your workouts.

I believe it is Important to truly enjoy yourself when you are on a trip, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make healthy choices while away from home! Such as, choosing water at a meal out instead of soda or beer, choosing whole grains instead of white, packing your own healthy snacks and taking lots of walks while exploring the city or place you are visiting!

It will always depend what kind of trip you are taking, where you are going and for how long, but no matter what you should always do you best to stay active and eat nutritious foods whenever possible. And drink lots of water!! When we are on the go and away from the routine we tend to forget to drink enough water, but keeping your body hydrated is so Important!

As someone who Loves traveling and does so semi frequently, I have had to learn through trial and error some different tricks and tips for staying on track.

Here are a few of my Tips for Traveling (will do another post about this topic again):
~Thinking & Planning Ahead~.
FOOD: Are you able to bring food with you during your travels? And will you have access to healthy snacks and food once you arrive?

If you are traveling by car then you will have many options to pack whatever you want. Even if you think you will have access to a grocery store with healthy options I recommend packing a few essential items just in case. I have made the mistake more than once, thinking I would have immediate access to a grocery store, only to discover it was already closed or was too far a distance to get to the first day during a trip.

If you are traveling by plane it’s a different story of course but I still recommend packing a few essential food items for the actual flight and when you arrive, such as fresh and dried fruit, unsalted nuts, fruit and nut bars, and protein bars. The food on airplanes is also heavily salted and can be very fatty, so be aware of what you are eating. I usually do eat some of the airplane food, as most of the flights I take are usually 12+ hours, but during my layovers I try to only eat fruit and veggies and drink lots of water.

Living here in Germany, the majority of the time I travel by train or bus, as it is the cheaper option and I don’t have a car, and so I make sure to pack a small bag of snacks for the trip.

IMG_6122-2My personal snack and food list for a road trip/train ride include: Homemade sandwiches and smoothies, fresh fruit and veggies such as bananas, oranges, apples and carrots, fruit and nut bars of some kind (beware of extra added sugars!). My favorites in the U.S. are Lara Bars, which are literally made of just fruit and nuts. Here is Germany I have yet to find a good quality, affordable bar. I also love to have a crunchy snack so I pack either whole grain crackers, rice cakes or bean and rice chips (full of fiber and protein). In addition I pack my own Peanut Butter to have with my rice cakes or bread that I buy. And I always bring my liquid Stevia drops with me everywhere to flavor my coffee, as I really try to avoid white sugar.

 

EXERCISE: Will you have access to some kind of gym or other area to do your workouts? Are you able to fit your workout gear in your bag?

If yes to both, great! Pack your workout gear and plan to set aside a bit of time for your workouts in the best way that work so for you. Even a half hour to one hour workout will really benefit you! If you are tracking with someone, make a plan for staying active together and then hold each other accountable.

If you will not have access to a gym, no worries! There are so many mini workouts that can be done outside or in a hotel room that require no equipment. My suggestion, search on YouTube for some routines, or check out my Facebook page for some Workout Videos to get ideas of some No Equipment routines! Some other ideas: find a local park and take a jog, or go to a local football stadium and do sprints on the track or up and down the bleachers!image

Sometimes there are places you go where there is no place or option to really workout, and that is where walking comes in. Walking is a great form of exercise!! Even 35-45 minutes of walking is better than nothing, and if you’re like me and love exploring the places you go, chances are you will be walking much more than that! Just remember to stay hydrated and drink water when out and about! And even if you can’t pack your full workout attire, try to pack comfortable walking shoes.

Sometimes our bodies need a break from the routine and a few days or week off can actually be beneficial. But I understand it can be hard to jump to jump back into the routine when you get home, check out my blog post Tips for Getting Back on Track to see my Personal List of what I do to jump back into the routine.

I hope these tips help! Please comment below if you have any questions. I will do another post about this topic again in the future.

Much Love, Alena ❤

The Importance of Stretching

imageFlexibility. Stretching. Movement. Balance.

Stretching is such a vital part of fitness and is not only important and beneficial for the body, but also for the mind.

People often only focus on the strength training and cardiovascular workouts and overlook the importance of stretching. But just as we need to train our bodies to become stronger, we need to stretch our muscles to keep them healthy. Muscles, like other tissues in the body, need good circulation to be healthy, and this means movement.

Here are some of the main benefits of stretching:

  • Stretching has the ability to reduce stress,
  • Helps increase overall flexibility and lengthen muscles,
  • Increases circulation, which not only helps muscles but can help with mood,
  • Increases blood and nutrient supply to muscles, which can help in reducing muscle soreness,
  • Can lead to better posture,
  • Helps to ease lower back pain,
  • Increase range of motion in joints, therefor improving balance.

Stretching can also be a great form of mental therapy, and I believe to be truly healthy requires a balance between mental and physical well being. Stretching and yoga requires a few minutes of calm movements and slower breathing, and even a short amount of time (10-15) minutes can help to calm the mind and give yourself a mental break. A Yoga or Pilates class can also be a great way to unwind both physically and mentally. Stretching can also be a great time for self-reflection or to reflect on your day or the workout you’ve just finished.

I have always loved stretching and working on flexibility, but have only recently begun practicing yoga and am slowly teaching myself. I find it to be calming and a form of therapy for my body and mental well-being, and a challenge as well. My personal recommendation is to make basic stretching or yoga a regular part of your exercise routine, but of course each person is so different so it’s important to learn what your body needs. My current routine: Try to do some light stretching after each workout, focusing on the area of the body which I worked the most during my workout, and dedicate at least one extra full session to stretching/foam rolling.

imageThere is a constant debate as to whether stretching can actually help to prevent injuries, and the opinion will vary from one trainer or doctor to the next. But in my personal experience, I have found that when I do properly warm-up/light stretch before and then properly stretch after a workout it really helps my body and I have not experienced any injuries in the past few months. I also suffered from chronic lower back pain after injuring my lower back in two separate Snowboarding accidents in the past 10 years and stretching has helped strengthen my lower back muscles which has greatly helped to reduce and relieve a lot of this pain.

Remember our bodies are all so different and will require different amounts of rest and different recovery methods. So, I encourage you to find out what works best for you and what your body needs.

Much love, Alena

 

Healthy Living: Tips for getting Back on Track.

 Getting Back to the Routine after a Breakimage

    We all have our struggles and strengths when it comes to motivation and determination. When certain aspects of our life force us to take a break from our normal routine, it can be very hard for some and much easier for others to jump back in to the routine. We take vacations, celebrate birthdays, holidays, etc. and sometimes these events can make us stray from our normal routine, be that eating certain foods and cooking for yourself, going to the gym, working, taking a special daily walk, having time for yourself at home, etc. Maybe it’s only for a few days, maybe it’s a few weeks. But whatever the time frame is, I believe it’s important to truly enjoy yourself in that moment and just know that sooner than you realize, you will be back home and one way or another, you will be getting back to your usual routine. Sometimes jumping back into your normal routine can be easy, you know what it feels like and you’re motivated to get back to it. But sometimes it’s not always so easy, as there could be so many different factors as to why you took a break from your routine in the first place.

I understand that it can be difficult to get back to the normal routine, you feel heavier, lazier, have less motivation and energy than normal and keep telling yourself that you’ll get back to it tomorrow. I have experienced this all at different times in my life, but I can honestly say that in the past year and especially the past few months I have learned to deal with these feelings differently, and find the motivation to get back to my routine. Is it always easy for me? Absolutely not. I still have times when I struggle with this. But I have learned so much from trial and error and now have a “routine/list of tips” that I use for planning ahead and getting back on track after a break, holiday or a couple of indulgence days.

     These are little things I have learned to do for myself that help me get back into my routine after a holiday or vacation or when I am lacking motivation. These things may not work for everyone, but this is what works for me, and I truly hope these can help you in some way if you are struggling.image

My Tips for getting back on Track

  • PLAN AHEAD: Have a start/end date for how long you will be away or be unable to stick to your normal routine. Try to make it clear to yourself that this is not to become a long term break from your normal routine, only a vacation or quick pause.
  • Pick a RESTART DATESet a day for restarting your routine, be that cooking your usual healthy food or heading to the gym for a scheduled workout routine. Make sure it is a day you know you would realistically be able to jump back in to your routine. (This step actually is best to do BEFORE you go on Holiday/Vacation/Take a break from your normal routine, but if need be pick a start date anytime.)
  • STICK TO IT! : Stick to your restart date! One of the things I have learned is that it is so important to plan ahead and then keep promises to yourself! It might be hard when that day comes, your energy level might be low and going to the gym sounds terrible, and ordering take out sounds easier than cooking, but once you get past those feelings and actually do it! Workout, Cook, etc. You will feel proud of yourself for overcoming this feeling and you will realize How Strong You Truly Are! And each time will get easier, because you know you have done it before and how great it feels!
  • LOVE What You Do: Try and view the things you are going back to as something you love, because that’s what they should be. Living a Living a Healthy Lifestyle should be something you enjoy because it makes you feel good on the Inside and the Outside.  Eating Healthy Food and Working Out is all very good, but if it feels like a chore to you, something you Have to do, it will be Much more difficult to go back to.
  • Focus on WHY You Love Your Routine: Focus on what you truly Love about your routine and your lifestyle and how it has made you feel both mentally and physically. Focus on the Energy you get after a good workout. And the satisfaction and pride of cooking a healthy meal.  Focus on these things that have made you Love what you do and it will help you get back to your routine.
  • Remember and Appreciate How Much You Have ALREADY CHANGED: Remind yourself of how far you have already come, by making the decision to live a healthier lifestyle and find a balanced routine for yourself, whether it was a few weeks, months or years ago. And When your morale/motivation is extra low and you are feeling stuck and unable to get back to your healthy routine, look at old pictures, read old journal entries or scroll through your posts on Instagram and Facebook. Remind yourself of all the little things that have changed both mentally and physically. Are you Stronger than you were before? Leaner? Do you have more Energy? Do you have a more Positive outlook on Life? 

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    Connect with like-minded people.

  • CONNECT with Like-Minded People: Reach out to people who are in similar situations, working towards becoming better and healthier versions of themselves and make connections. Check-in and stay accountable to them and they to you. Motivate each other to get back on track, inspire each other to keep going and support each other along the way.
  • Believe in YOUrself: Remind Yourself that you are capable of great things. You have goals and dreams and so much more to accomplish. You are strong and determined and you can do this.

I wish each and every one of you all the best!  Love, Alena