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

Food is fuel; eat right, not less.

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Bowl full of Nature’s Candy.

First of all, I absolutely Love Food!¬† I love to try new things and experiment in the kitchen, and when I find something I really enjoy, I can eat it for days in a row or even weeks! Over the past few months I have really been getting more serious about fueling my body with the proper nutrients it needs. I have changed my focus from weight loss to fat loss and gaining more lean muscle mass, and have changed my eating habits accordingly. For the majority of my fitness journey, I have eaten intuitively and for the most part this worked out very well for me and my goals. But sometimes our bodies need a change in order to see and feel new progress, and so, as of this month I have been following Kayla Itsines’s H.E.L.P Nutrition Guide. It has already taught me so much more about proper portions and the importance of eating a balanced mixture of all the major Macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins), as well as the less talked about, but equally as important Micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and antioxidants) that are essential for our health.

While there is a minimum amount of food we should be eating, e.g. enough food to keep our metabolism functioning properly and to keep us alive, it’s important to remember that each of us requires a different amount of food to keep our bodies healthy, strong and give us enough energy to get through our respective schedule and day. If you are doing a large amount of strenuous exercise and work, you will need to eat more food than others to keep your body properly energized and functioning, and as your strength and endurance grow, your metabolism will also speed up, meaning you WILL Need More food. As I said, everybody and their lifestyles are different, and ultimately, how much you should eat depends on your body type and your way of living. But whether your goal is to loose or gain weight, tone up or put on muscle, something that is so important to keep in mind is that Food is Fuel and eating less is Not the answer. It’s important to learn to Eat Right for you and your goals, Not less.

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Sandwich of Carbs, Protein & Healthy Fats.

Everyone has different goals and a different way of living. My goals and my daily routine require something different than the next person. I have tried a variety of different eating styles, Vegan, Paleo, No Carbs, etc. but I have found that what works best for me and my body, is a balanced diet of healthy carbohydrates, proteins, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats, including dairy and some meat. I do not cut out a certain type of food, I only am aware of my daily servings from each group. I have some pretty unfortunate food allergies and so have to be very careful to read the ingredients of products before purchasing them, and in restaurants I am the annoying guest that has to ask if the food has ‘this or that’ in it and having the waiters ask the kitchen staff. It makes it challenging to eat out, but it also forces me to cook more at home, which I have really been loving lately! I have found so many amazing recipes through Instagram and different blogs (and my mama I might add!) and have been experimenting a lot in the kitchen. (Recipe posts coming soon!)

I fuel my body with what it needs, what I need, to get me through the day, my workouts and keep me feeling balanced. Overall I have a very good relationship with food and eating, I put good, nutritious things into my body and my body responds well, giving me good energy, helping with my mood and sleeping patterns. But it hasn’t always been this way. It has taken me a long time to find a balance with food, many months of trial and error, ups and downs, but over the past 6 months or so, I have been very happy with my eating habits. I do still struggle from time to time with guilty thoughts after eating something less than healthy, but it is no where near compared to how I was even just two years ago. I am sharing this with honesty, to help others realize that while we can appear to be very strong on the outside, we are all fighting our own battles and should do our best to be supportive of each other.

Keeping it Real with a Treat Meal.

Keeping it Real with a Treat Meal.

During those moments when I do have guilty thoughts after eating something a little unhealthy, I take a mental note of how I feel in that moment, and remind myself of how I felt the next time I’m about to eat something unhealthy. And each time gets easier. Thankfully,¬†I no longer have these thoughts very often, because I eat a balanced diet that makes me feel good. And if I do eat a treat, I try to view it as just that, a special treat, and I do my best to fully enjoy it in that moment and then move on. However, if I do have these guilty thoughts, I get past it, and do not revert to my old ED habits that brought me down physically and mentally for years. I am thankful to say, I have grown up and away from those bad habits, after having done a lot of research of the consequences and will NEVER put my body though that again!¬†I remind myself everyday that overall I eat very healthy, nourishing foods and that I workout regularly, so the occasional less than healthy meal here or there is not going to kill me or hurt my progress. I remind myself that Food is Fuel, and as with so many things in life, it’s about finding a healthy balance that works for you and your body.

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

 

Support and Mentoring Program

My Support and Mentoring program is now available!

Thank you to all my subscribers for your patience with this project.

This first month I will be offering two different types of support and mentoring packages, a shorter 2 week package, for those looking for some initial support and guidance to set some health and fitness goals and get started, and a longer 4 week program, for those looking for more longer term support and guidance.

My main goal is to help and inspire people by promoting a healthy lifestyle, and while I offer free advice and workout tips on my Social media pages, and will continue to do so, this program is designed for those that need some more individualized support. I want to give you the one on one mentoring you need to help you set goals and keep working towards them. So, if you are unsure about where to start on your own Healthy Journey or simply looking for some extra support and guidance I am here to help you!

I am here to Mentor you and Help you start your journey and reach your goals through:

  • Online support through emails
  • Goal setting and planning
  • Check-ins to make sure you are on the right track
  • Motivational messages to keep you moving forward
  • Optional: One on one Skype sessions, instant messaging or phone conversations.

Please visit my main SUPPORT and MENTORING Page for more Information or send me an email directly 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 ‚̧

Mentoring/Support

Starting May 1st, I will be offering Mentoring/Support packages.

Fitness and Nutrition has become a huge passion of mine, and over the past 1.5 years I have learned so much through my own personal experiences and extensive research. I absolutely LOVE helping others, through sharing my story and experiences, and offering support and advice whenever I can.  I want to help people realize their true potential to make a change in their own lives, that it is possible.

My mentoring packages will include:

  • Online support through emails
  • Goal setting and planning
  • Text message/WhatsApp check-ins to make sure you are on the right track
  • (Optional) One on one Skype sessions

If you are interested please send me an Email at healthylivingdreams25@gmail.com

More details coming soon!

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