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

Getting back to it: A personal post.

Hello Everyone!

     This will be a more personal post, as I want to share a bit about my recent experiences and getting back to a good and healthy place. For those that are struggling to get back on track and find motivation, whether you are post vacation or have taken a break from the routine for another reason, check out my post about “Tips for getting back on track” they are my personal tips I use myself and I truly hope they can help you.

     I know I haven’t posted much in the last month or so. I’ve been going through some ups and downs in my life, with both energy and motivation levels. Some days I’ve felt awesome and on top of the world, and others I’ve felt tired, unmotivated and uninspired. I think both my mind and body were burnt out on so many things. Although I do find some joy from my job, it is ultimately not something I am passionate about and that has been taking a toll on me mentally. I was also getting to place where I was starting to put too much pressure on myself both mentally and physically, and getting frustrated with my progress.

     I am sharing this to let you know, we are all human and life is not always a straight and steady road. Life is filled with ups and downs, good and bad days, weeks or months. But learning to get past that – whether it’s from switching up your routine, taking a needed break, or letting go of something that was bringing you down –  it is important. I was extremely lucky to receive a birthday trip from my grandparents, to meet up in Spain and travel with them to England (I am currently living in Germany). Those almost 2 weeks away were much needed and helped me clear my head and reevaluate so much. Since arriving home last week, I have set new goals, and have a new sense of determination and motivation. I have stopped putting so much pressure on myself, with my work, my workouts and social media and feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I am eating better, sleeping better, have more energy both mentally and physically and am so excited about all my new projects coming up.

     As of this week I will start regularly blogging again about a variety of healthy living topics, including fitness, nutrition, workout tips, mental balance, motivation and my experience following Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guides. My hope is that by continuing to share my personal journey and everything that I have learned and will continue to learn along the way, I can help others on their own healthy journey. If you ever have a specific topic you would like me to write about, don’t hesitate to email me or leave the topic in the comments. I want this to also be a place where I can interact with my subscribers and other bloggers. I will also be starting an online Personal Trainer course in the very near future and am so excited to take this next step in my fitness journey and start training and helping others to become stronger, healthier versions of themselves. I have set up a GoFundMe page if you care to check it out and read more.

     I thank you all for being a part of my journey in any and every way. Blogging and writing about these topics and experiences has been so meaningful to me, and I look forward to doing it much more regularly.

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

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