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 ❤

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

 

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 

Focus on Progress, not Perfection.

  image   Let’s focus on Progress, not Perfection. Our Strengths, and not our Weaknesses. 
I’ve seen and heard so many people on Instagram and outside life putting themselves down or comparing their progress (in regards to both physical appearance and/or strength) to that of someone else. I’ve done the same, but am learning and trying my best not to compare! To focus on my own progress and strengths and be proud. Because We are ALL so different! Our bodies, our experiences, our genetic make-up, our past and present habits. Some people may be able to loose weight quickly, and get defined abs within weeks while some people may change their habits and find that it takes much longer. Some people may gain strength very quickly, while others may take months to build up the same. There are so many different factors as to why each of our results are so different from one another’s, but that doesn’t make our own results any less amazing! Be proud of what YOU have achieved, keep moving forward and give it Everything you’ve got!

  I made a huge lifestyle change Fall 2013, something completely different than I had every done before. I made a choice to cut out the bad things in my life and start working towards finding My healthy balance in life. I lost a lot of weight very quickly, mostly from just eating right and not drinking, and doing some cardio, then the progress became slower, but it was still progress! In the past 4-5 months, my body has significantly changed in the way it looks, but my weight has only changed by about 6lbs or so and lately it hasn’t changed at all. Most days that doesn’t bother me, because I know I am getting stronger and leaner and I know I am healthy, but there is still that voice in my head sometimes, wondering why the scale isn’t changing anymore. Lately I have been avoiding using the scale all together, as I truly believe that Not ALL Progress depends on the scale! We Are NOT Defined by a Number! We are MORE than a Number!

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October 2013~March 2014~March 2015

   This is a reason I believe it is Soo Important to take Progress Pictures. It’s a great way to track progress and help yourself stay motivated. The scale may not change by much, but side by side pictures can show you even little differences you have accomplished. These are pictures you can keep private or choose to share with the world. But it’s you versus you, when you put a new picture up next to an old. You should Only be comparing Your Progress to Your Own. Whenever I am feeling down about my Short Term Progress, I go look at pictures from last year, from 6 months ago, from 3 months ago and remind myself of how much I have already changed. I remind myself that changes take time, progress will and is happening but I must be patient for more results to happen, while also being proud of what I have already accomplished. I still have goals I am working hard to achieve, and I have dreams about how I hope my body will look one day. But I also know that it will probably never look like any other woman’s body, because it is Mine. It Is Unique. It has Experienced My mixture of Battles and Triumphs. And I can’t and shouldn’t compare it to anyone elses’.

   So instead of Focusing on what Hasn’t changed, why not Focus on what Has!? Physical appearance is one thing, but what about Strength!? Are you Stronger than you were Before? What about Confidence!? Are you more Confident when you go out, go to work, school shopping? What about Health!? Are you eating better and taking care of you Body? There are so many things to be proud of, positive changes that can’t be measured by a scale!

 image Let’s Love our Bodies for what they are and give them the proper appreciation they deserve for all that they do for us. You can still work hard towards your goals, but why not applaud Yourself along the way. You can want to change but still be proud of what you have Already accomplished. I still have goals I am working towards, but I am proud of what I have achieved so far and so excited to see what the future holds!

  Remember that we are all so different! And we will all SEE and FEEL a different kind of progress. It may happen quickly, it may take much longer than most. But as long as you are doing what is right for You and Your Body, and Finding Your own Healthy Balance, Your Choices are the most Important. Do your best on your own journey, take pride in your accomplishments and let others live their own.

Let’s lift up those around us, while not forgetting to lift up ourselves as well! Be Kind to Others and Be Kind to Yourself! ❤ 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

HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training.

~Please keep in mind this article was written based on my personal experience, and my own research and findings. I hope this article will shed some light on what HIIT is and why it is beneficial. NOTE: Before beginning any type of intense training, it is highly recommended to consult your doctor or physician to get cleared for this type of exercise. If you have any questions, please comment ❤ Alena~

For all the women following Kayla Itsines BBG, you will see that HIIT sessions are incorporated from weeks 9 onwards. This means that at least one time a week you should be doing a HIIT workout lasting from 10-15 minutes. But that does NOT mean you should stop doing your LISS session, i.e. Low Intensity Steady State cardio, as there are Still benefits to doing this kind of cardio training. I will do another post about the benefits of LISS cardio training soon.
Cardio, Cardio, Cardio…

Most of us have experienced the Cardio obsession at one point in our lives. I.e. Spending hours on the treadmill or elliptical everyday, hoping to loose weight and see the results we’ve always dreamed of. The truth is steady state cardio alone will only do so much for most people, but to truly see a change in your body, and develop some lean muscle mass, you must incorporate a wider variety of training styles, pylometrics, weight training, and HIIT cardio to name a few. And DIET plays a huge part of course! Not restriction, but eating Wholesome, Healthy and Nourishing foods (but that’s a discussion for a different time..).

In the beginning of my Fitness journey, I was the girl who spent all my time at the gym doing cardio and I rarely ventured away from the Treadmill and Elliptical trainers. But after discovering Aussie Trainer Kayla Itsines’s Instagram account Spring of 2014, I began to realize that there were so many other forms of exercise to incorporate and try, including HIIT. I began incorporating High Intensity Interval Training into my routine around Summer 2014, and I have loved it ever since!

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HIIT aka High Intensity Interval Training is now one of my Favorite forms of exercise. But what Is HIIT?

HIIT is an enhanced form of interval training and form of cardiovascular exercise. It is an exercise strategy with alternating periods of short intense anaerobic exercise (strength or resistance training) and less-intense recovery periods, usually 30 seconds “on/active” time and 30 seconds “off/rest”, lasting between 10-15 minutes. HIIT not only burns more calories during the workout, but also continues after you’ve finished your workout. Because the workout is more strenuous, your body needs more energy to repair and recover, so you actually continue to burn more Fat and Calories in the 24 hours following your HIIT session. Meaning it’s an intense and effective workout done in a very short amount of time!

HIIT is known for improving health, boosting weight and fat loss, promoting HGH (human growth hormone) production, and improving strength and stamina, among other benefits. It can be done in a variety of form of workouts, so long as it alternates between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of low-moderate activity or even complete rest. From my personal experience, I saw a greater fat loss when I started incorporating HIIT style training into my routine in addition to a few low intensity cardio sessions. HIIT is a great way to get in a solid cardiovascular workout in a short amount of time.

There are many different forms of HIIT exercises and different on/off ratios and they all have so many benefits! Sprinting, biking, using a variety of resistance training exercises at a fast pace. My personal favorite form of HIIT is Sprinting on the Treadmill, using the 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off method. Sprinting on the treadmill allows me to see how fast I’m going, see the time in front of me and I can easily hope on and hop off to the side during my rest period. I typically do 15 minutes of 30/30 sprints with a 5 minute warm up and 5 minute cool down period as well, for a total of 25 minutes. After warming up with 5 minutes of fast paced walking or a very light jogging pace, I increase the speed to a moderately high speed, but not my maximum. I do 2-3 rounds of sprints at this speed, then for the remainder I up the speed to 90-100 of my capacity, usually ranging from 16.3-17.0 kpm/.

This is what works best for Me and what I like the most. However, I do occasionally switch up my HIIT routine and do a session of a variety of high intensity exercises in a similar format. By combining a variety of body weight and weighted exercises, you can create your own High Intensity Interval Training routine. The key is to complete them in short 30 second bursts, giving your best effort, then have a short rest period. I encourage you ALL to do some research and find out what works best for you. If you are a newbie to HIIT training, I recommend starting out with 8-10 minutes of HIIT and gradually working your way up to 15 minutes total.

imageNeed IDEAS for HIIT? Check out my friend Mandy & Candy’s awesome Youtube channel for 2 different HIIT videos! A Jump Rope HIIT Video and a complete 15 minute HIIT routine, which incorporates 15 different exercises and a timer, meaning your whole Workout is planned out for you! Awesome right? Here it is:

Need More Ideas? Check out these articles: 7 Minute HIIT sesh, 5 ideas for HIIT, Treadmill training

Now get out there and HIIT It!!! ❤ Alena