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 ❤

 

 

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

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 ❤

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