Forget BMI, What’s Your ACE Score?

School was not my favorite place to be. And tests were never a fun thing unless it was an essay test on Pride & Prejudice, AMIRITE?! Just me, eh?

Oh, Lydia.

Well, I recently took another test called the ACE Quiz. ACE stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences, and I scored really high an 8/10. Only, this is one of those tests where you don’t want a high score. At all. A high score on this test can indicate the likelihood of allllll kinds of negative health problems, like COPD and lung cancer, to name a few.

If you aren’t familiar with the ACE Quiz, let me summarize for you. The ACE Quiz (it’s more of a questionnaire) consisted of ten questions about your experiences with traumatic childhood experiences. Your score can indicate your propensity to develop a plethora of adverse health outcomes. To learn more, watch this TED Talk from Dr Nadine Burke Harris. Basically, the study determined that childhood trauma influences your lifelong mental and physical health.

Yeah, of course, it does. I knew that before I took the quiz. What I didn’t know is that I’m three times more at risk for heart disease and lung cancer than someone with an ACE score of zero. It affects mental health, too. People with high scores are TWELVE TIMES more at risk of suicide, and their life expectancy is shortened by twenty years.

What I want you to take away from this post is to take the ACE Quiz for the sake of your kids, and try to take it as if you were your kid, too. I like this one NPR shared because the questions were worded clearly. See if there are things in their environment that you can change for the healthier. Coming from divorced parents gets you one point on the test, so basically, almost everyone in America can claim that adverse childhood experience. Yay us.

I will continue to keep on doing what I’m doing in terms of fitness and nutrition, despite learning this new information. What I can do is try to reverse or mitigate the risks by being as healthy as possible, while still balancing the enjoyment of what makes life fun. Including donuts sometimes.

I also want you to take away how very proud I am of myself for my gif choices in this post.

Bodies are Weird and Stress is Dumb

Okay. I’m just going to say it.

In the past four months, I’ve gained 10 pounds.

Those 10 pounds that I worked to lose a year ago.

I’ve gained 10 pounds and my body doesn’t feel like my own anymore.

Do I think that I am worth less as a human because my body has changed? No. Do I feel that others are better than me because their bodies look different? Not really. Am I frustrated that stress has taken over my life and my cortisol levels have spiked and inflammation is normal? Yes. Very much so.

My last post (like, two months ago?) touched a little bit on my headspace in our new home. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but honestly, not much has improved in that capacity. In fact, things got really seriously REAL before they started to slowly improve. I’m gonna vaguebook hard here, because most of the details aren’t truly mine to share, but the redacted version is that we’ve been on a rollercoaster and dealing with some things we totally weren’t expecting or prepared for. Things are getting better, but as with most things, it’s a slow process with slow progress.

Consequently, my routine has been anything but routine. My workout schedule has been all over the place and lower in intensity, I’ve been traveling, and my diet has been… meh. Not bad, but not consistent. The slow march up the scale has been frustrating, disheartening, and really demotivating.

I spent most of last year dialing in my nutrition and training and my body felt amazing. I felt fit and strong and confident – but mostly I felt comfortable in my own skin. Since the cascade of stress started, it’s felt like my body is foreign, which is super uncomfortable and unsettling. My fitness has suffered, my confidence is low, and it’s harder than ever to find motivation to fix any of these problems.

Psychology Today explains the relationship between stress and weight gain pretty well, primarily discussing hormonal changes the body experiences when in a stressful situation:

When your brain detects the presence of a threat, it triggers the release of a cascade of chemicals, including adrenaline, CRH, and cortisol. Your brain and body prepare to handle the threat by making you feel alert, ready for action and able to withstand an injury. In the short-term, adrenaline helps you feel less hungry as your blood flows away from the internal organs and to your large muscles to prepare for “fight or flight.” However, once the effects of adrenaline wear off, cortisol, known as the “stress hormone,” hangs around and starts signaling the body to replenish your food supply. Fighting off wild animals, like our ancestors did, used up a lot of energy, so their bodies needed more stores of fat and glucose. Today’s human, who sits on the couch worrying about how to pay the bill or works long hours at the computer to make the deadline, does not work off much energy at all dealing with the stressor! Unfortunately, we are stuck with a neuroendocrine system that didn’t get the update, so your brain is still going to tell you to reach for that plate of cookies anyway.

I’m not necessarily reaching for cookies all the time, but I do let the cortisol rule my rational instincts.

My relationship with my body is complicated (what woman’s isn’t?). Thankfully, my relationship with food is still okay. Even if I’m frustrated with my nutrition, I know that a big part of why my body doesn’t feel great is because I haven’t been consistent with the plan I was following for success. I don’t binge on junk food, but I do skip meals and traveling has definitely funked up my routine a whole lot. I just haven’t felt motivated enough to buckle down and plan for it appropriately. Apathy, man, it’s kind of a bitch.

When most of your energy and focus is spent on someone else, self-care is easy to talk about and hard to do. It’s complicated, too, because there’s an insane amount of latent guilt that goes along with it. I feel guilty about taking time and focus away from my partner when engage in anything related to self-care, and I know my partner feels guilty, too, as he doesn’t want to take me away from things that I love or want to do.

Guilt abounds – and while neither of us should be feeling it, it’s just one of those things for which we have to continue working on and giving each other (and ourselves) grace.

As my 30th birthday is right around the corner, and things on the homefront seem to be (finally) looking up, I’m ready to shake off this funk and get back to being myself. I’m sleeping better, I know what my nutrition should look like (balanced, not restrictive, fuel for my body and my fitness), and I have a gym community that I feel good about. No pity parties for me – I’m ready to address my stress in healthy ways and work on feeling comfortable in my body again.

My body is good and strong and capable. I am not my stress.

I. Am. Not. My. Stress.

What to Pack for a Hike

My new hiking pack, something I’ve desperately needed if I’m going to do the #52hikechallenge, arrived this week! I’ve been so excited about it that I’ve spent far too many hours gathering and packing and repacking it with all my gear. Then I realized this is information worth sharing, so here we go with what to pack for a hike!

First, let me give a shout out to a very important list you should refer to if you’re planning your own forays into the backcountry. The National Parks Service has posted this 10 Essentials to pack when you #optoutside.  I don’t quite have everything on this list, but I’m working on it and plan my hikes accordingly.

The spread. It’s very purple-y.

Here’s what I never leave home without:

  • Day Hike Pack – This pack from Camel has a space for a water bladder, has an internal frame, and is intended for day hikes. It’s a bright color (I love any shade of purple) so I can’t mistaken for an animal.
  • Water – In addition to my water bladder, I carry two, 32 oz bottles of water, too. Tip, if you store them upside down, they won’t freeze at the mouthpiece. 
  • Map & Compass – It’s important to know how to use them, too. Many local wilderness rescue groups offer classes on this topic, often for free. Always remember to tell someone where you’re hiking, how far, and when you expect to be back. Check in with that person when you get home.
  • Extra Clothes – Because I’m prone to blisters, I bring a pair of toe socks, as well as an extra pair of dry wool hiking socks. I also pack a down vest, an extra thermal beanie, extra thermal gloves, and a Buff.
  • Survival Gear – A lighter or matches, a headlamp, a basic first aid kit, a knife, some handwarmers, and an emergency whistle are what I keep in my pack at all times. On day trips I keep my survival gear to a minimum because I’m careful to follow the trail and be super aware of my surroundings and map.
  • Personal Gear – Sunscreen, Lip Balm, my asthma inhaler, my TomTom GPS watch, and sport sunglasses are all essential for a comfy hike at high altitude.
  • Snacks – The most important things! I’ve always got a nut based snack and an apple at minimum.
  • Fun Stuff  – A small notebook which is my Trail Journal, a pen, a selfie stick, and my #womenwhohike patch.

I hope that helps you decide what to pack for your hikes!

What gear is essential for you when you #optoutside? 

2019 Goals – 52 Hike Challenge

A few weeks ago, my sister texted me a link to the 52 Hike Challenge and asked if I wanted in. Being one to take on huge challenges without much forethought, my first instinct was to immediately reply with a HECK YEAH! For once, I paused and realized this sounds like a hike a week thing, which, if we’re honest, can be hard to accommodate schedule wise. Intrigued nevertheless, I clicked on the link to learn more.

The 52 Hike Challenge is what I suspected, it’s a yearlong challenge to hike 52 times with intention to connect with our environment, and others who share a passion for outdoor sports. This spoke to me because I want to transition from running to hiking in 2019. Running has become monotonous for me, and frankly, I’m horrible at training diligently. Because I’m fortunate to live where I do, there are tons of hiking trails literally at the end of my residential road, and I need/want/should take advantage of them.

All of these trails are an 8 minute drive from my house. I literally have zero excuses.

My biggest question was what do they consider a “hike”? I was happy to learn their definition is lax. To count toward the Challenge, a hike must be at least a mile, and can be done in any setting from urban bike paths and parks to snowshoe hikes and full on mountaineering expeditions. There are three different levels of Challenge depending on fitness level and if you’ve participated in the Challenge before. The tracking is done on an honors system using social media posts and hashtags, and there are different levels of swag you win based on registration level.

I want to see views like this in 2019!

You don’t have to pay to register, but there are three levels of paid participation that get you additional stuff. The “Starter Package” for $11.95 gets you a 52 Hike Challenge Patch, and 4 stickers, as well as access to the resources on their website such as tips finding trails, and the Challenge Guide. The “Standard Package” at 52.00 gets you all their resources plus a Finisher Medal, and the “Ultimate Package” gets you all that plus discounts from their sponsors: REI, Mountain House, Sawyer, and Arc’Teryx.

After mulling it over, I texted my sister back and said I’m in! I’m excited to connect with this community to help me stay motivated to get outside. I’m determined to see more of my beautiful state of Colorado this year, and to strengthen my bond with my sister. All around, this is going to be a win/win for 2019!

On Wednesdays We Do Wellness

Every Wednesday, I tag up with my nutritionist, Dr. Kyle. I’m at the midway point in her six-month wellness program and now is a great time to check in and share what’s working, and what’s been challenging.

The hardest thing so far is a lack of variety in my diet. I’ve always been on the picky side of eating, and veggies were not my favorite things. That’s all still true. If I eat hummus and carrots again for lunch I. Will. Scream. The solution here is to experiment more with new recipes. I admit I’m not a great cook so this one scares me a bit, but onward I must go.

Cutting out sweets has also been hard, but has gotten easier over time. Instead of craving the triple chocolate layer cake, I’m going for pumpkin spice scones. I’ve swapped out ice cream for vanilla honey Greek yogurt. Things like cheesecake and Starbucks drinks are WAY too sweet and I can’t eat them anymore. Sadly, my sweet tooth is still not satisfied and temptation is hard to fight. My solution here is to try my hand at paleo baking and treat-making. Wish me luck!

Part of the Wellness journey with Dr. Kyle is to learn how to do self-care right. Making time for myself has become a priority instead of a luxury. When I make time for self-care, I find I don’t need or crave the bad foods, like baked goods and candy, as much. I’m being fulfilled in other ways, whether that’s reading a book for fun, painting my nails, or taking a bubble bath, my soul is getting time to rejuvenate as opposed to my seeking refuge in sweets only to still feel depleted of energy. I’m loving this new perspective.

This might be my favorite place in my new house.

The best thing by far about this whole journey is the fact that I’ve lost 7 pounds. Once I cut refined sugar and gluten almost completely from my diet, the pounds fell away. My clothes are fitting better, and I’m able to squeeze into pants I wasn’t able to before. It feels great!

The goal with starting this journey was to learn how to eat properly to avoid diabetes. My blood sugar levels were high and I really don’t want diabetes. Since I’ve changed my diet, my sugars have dropped from consistently between 130 – 150 to 95 – 115. While I’m not at my target of 60-90, I’m getting closer and that is a huge win.

I’ve learned tht it’s not an all or ohiotng game, either. I’m shooitng for 80/20 where 20% of my calorie intake a week is sugar and complex carbs. While it seems like a big number on the healthy side, I’m learning it’s totally doable!

What’s your favorite self-care activity? DO you have any paleo recipes for me? Extra credit if they are Instant Pot friendly!

You Really Should (read) “Eat Dirt”

I’m back today sharing more stuff from my nutritionist, Dr. Kyle, who is amazing. A few weeks back, she recommended I read a book called “Eat Dirt” by Dr. Josh Axe. I don’t have a lot of time for reading actual paper books, but I was able to download an audio version on Hoopla for free. I can’t recommend this book enough, it’s shifting my whole perspective on food!

 

I know, leaky gut is super gross sounding. It wasn’t a term I’d heard before either. I remembered my chiropractor recently told me he suspected I had this condition and prescribed me supplements or it. After learning more about the the symptoms, I quickly realized that he was likely correct. If you don’t know what it is, let me *try* to summarize in a sentence: leaky gut is a condition of the small intestine where nasty food molecules (sugar, fat, gluten, additives, chemicals) escape the intestine because the  lining is weak, or “leaking”. I know. Gross. But Dr. Axe explains how this can contribute all kinds of diseases including diabetes, MS, heart disease and cancer. It was a wake up call for sure!

Things I’m giving up. ;’-(.

Now, I understand WHY sugar and gluten are bad. I mean, we know at some level these things aren’t great for us, but unless you’re a doctor or nutritionist, most of us don’t understand the negative impacts of these foods at a cellular level. Dr. Axe’s explanations made sense, but I didn’t feel judged or preached at as I listened. Plus, his voice is kinda dreamy, so that helps a lot.

What surprised me the most is how this book is making me gross out on things I used to love. Just knowing what this stuff does to my body is making me not want to eat it. When I do indulge, the knowledge of what I’m doing to myself seeps in, and makes me want that donut even less next time.

I learned that sugar and gluten actually play mind tricks with you and control your emotions around food as well as cravings. I don’t like being controlled by things outside of my…control. This was the key to when I quit smoking, too. I knew that all the extra chemicals tobacco companies add to their product are intended to make me more  addicted. Frankly, that pissed me off! No one controls me! Understanding this is how sugar and gluten control me has made me want to pass on things like pizza, bread, and ice cream. Although I do miss ice cream.

Things I’m trying to eat more of.

Some of it was a little woo-woo for me, but it still made some sense, and seriously can’t hurt me. With Dr. Kyle’s guidance and a new focus on a paleo diet, I’m already feeling so many benefits, most of which are mental. I found my scale while I was unpacking this weekend, and was happy to see I’d lost four pounds by just altering my diet to reduce sugar, carbs, and gluten. I can’t wait to share more recipes over the next few months. Let me see your favorites, too!

 

3 Things I Learned From Food Journaling

What is food journaling? Of course, it’s logging what you eat each day, but I learned recently that it’s so much more than that. Since starting a food journal under the direction of a nutritionist, I’ve learned so much about myself and my psychology around food. Today, I want to share with you why food journaling is so helpful. You might have wondered if you should do it and what makes it a useful tool on the path to a healthy lifestyle.  Here’s what I’ve learned.

Checking in with my Nutritionist, Dr. Kyle, at Alpine Fit

It’s not about the food as much as it is your feelings about food. Not only do I track what I eat, I track my cravings, too. Tracking when I crave sweet things, salty things, crunchy things–basically any craving–gave me insights into what was really triggering the craving. Was it PMS? Sometimes. Was it more about external factors that influence poor food choices? Absolutely! For example the other day, it was as cold as the South Pole in my office because it’s August and office air conditioning.  You know of what I speak. Around the time I noticed the chill, I wanted a cup of tea. Then I asked myself what is it my body needs right now? It actually wasn’t the tea itself, I just wanted to be warm. Previously, I would have just made a cup of tea with 2 tsp of sugar and not given it a thought. Being aware and asking myself to take a deeper look at the craving helped me identify the ingrained food response that doesn’t serve my health goals. Instead of a cup of tea, I put on a sweater. Craving gone!

One pot meals are my secret lover.

Journaling helped me identify destructive food behaviors so I could change them. My Nutritionist is urging me to be more mindful when I eat, to take time to savor and enjoy, to be grateful for and to take pleasure in eating. While food journaling one day, I had a major epiphany about why it’s so hard for me to be mindful when I eat. It goes back to a traumatic experience with my abusive dad when I was about four years old. He thought I was eating too slow, and forced me to get my next bite of food ready on my fork before I’d swallowed what I was chewing. There was yelling and screaming involved, and it was so strongly ingrained in me to shovel food in my mouth as fast as possible that the idea of “mindful eating” was completely foreign to me. Having this realization has allowed me to be aware of the behavior and understand where it originated. That space for recognition helps me allow myself the time to correct myself and slow down  without feeling guilty.

Journaling Helped me recognize when I actually need chocolate versus when I really just need time for selfcare. I’m an introvert, which is becoming a more accepted thing these days. (BIG YAY!!) I’ve always known I needed time alone to refill my cup so I can pour out for others. If I don’t get that time, I get grumpy. Irritable. Easily annoyed. Basically…plain bitchy. But since I’ve been living in a 10 x 12 foot shack with my husband since January, alone time is nearly non-existent. So last week when I was really craving a slice of cheesecake or a brownie, I had another epiphany! I asked myself the golden question; what is it my body actually needs right now? The ah-ha moment was the realization that when I don’t get my alone time for selfcare, I substitute with sweets and carbs. The sugar gives me the endorphin rush to feel good and relax a little, something I would normally get from a nice bath. Instead of eating something I shouldn’t, my nutritionist redirected me to take a five-minute meditation break, do some breathing exercises, or go for a quick walk. I recognize now when I feel that craving coming on that what I really need is 5-10 minutes of selfcare to give my mind what it needs, not what my body *thinks* will help.

I’ve only been food journaling for a month, but I’m excited to keep it going and see what else I learn about myself. I’ts been a big eye-opener!

 

Have you ever journaled your food? What take-aways did you glean from the experience?

A Day in the Life: Kyle

Welcome to the Scootadoot Day in the Life Series!

I’m kicking things off this week – and while the day I chose to document (yesterday) wasn’t a typical day, it gives a pretty good idea of what I’m up to on a day-to-day basis. Read: I have a routine. And I’m boring. Lol.
This is something that happens every day – even weekends, I can’t sleep in… I’m a bad sleeper. I’m also habitually worried about wasting the day, so sleeping in is pretty difficult. I digress. Monday, work day, 5:45am alarm. Wakey wakey! Breakfast miiiiight be my favorite meal of the day, and since my breakfast has to meet certain macros, it’s easiest to give myself time to cook it every day. My go to? Egg white omelette with spinach and a slice of turkey bacon, alongside either a slice of toast or white cheddar rice cakes. Which are the best flavor. Don’t at me.

Also pictured, my required-to-function to-go mug of coffee. Every morning needs caffeine. Welcome to work! I usually roll in around 7am, which is the best because I have the coffee maker all to myself for at least an hour. I purposely sit with my back to my office door so that I can look out the window all day and see the sunshine. Also, the folks who live across the street from our office provide some very entertaining people watching. Like… bruh. Snacks! I’m still doing Renaissance Periodization (hence the breakfast macros), and my second meal of the day is my mid-morning snack. I love mixing blueberries and cinnamon into fat free greek yogurt. Not pictured? The whole green pepper I scarfed down before I took a picture. Oops. I have two cups of veggies with every meal. Typically, green peppers. I love them.Here’s the part of the day that goes off track a bit. Clay was in Florida this weekend visiting his family and his flight got in this morning, so I took a half day to go pick him up and spend some time together before the craziness of his next few weeks starts. These are our happy faces when we finally got home!We ran to the grocery store for what will probably be the first of at least three times this week and then when we got home, Clay wanted to play guitar, so I headed outside to the patio. Lately, whenever I’ve had time, I’ve made more of an effort to enjoy it. We’ve lived in our apartment for three years and I’ve not spent nearly enough time out here. Sitting out here has also helped me work through my reading list for the year. It’s sunny and quiet and there might be mosquitoes, but it’s a nice place to get away from my cat. I mean, relax.

I ended the day at my favorite place. Nearly every day, I head to Crossfit Kingstowne for a workout with my friends, and end up hanging around for a couple of hours, finishing my lifting and catching up with people.

This day’s workout was:

Rowing Intervals
5 sets:
0:20 ON (Choose a hard, but not ALL OUT pace, as you’ll have to hold it)
1:00 OFF
0:20 ON
0:40 OFF
0:20 ON
0:20 OFF
0:20 ON
*Rest 2:00 after each set
**Must hold that same pace for all 0:20 efforts
and then….
Strength
A) Deadlift. 4×10 (65%)
B) Bench Press. 4×10 (65%)
*Rest as needed between sets

A good little cardio day with some heavy lifting to start the week.

After the gym, I head home, make dinner (alll the carbs, praise), and hang out with the cat and the huz. Clay typically practices guitar, we watch some Netflix, and tryyyy to get to bed by 8:30 – 8:00 if we’re lucky. Sleep is still being made a priority and it helps so much with recovery from the gym. And my general ability to tolerate humans. Sleep is so necessary.

And that, my friends, is a day in my life. Nothing too crazy or exciting, but there is time for family, fitness, and food carved out every day. Because honestly, those are the most important things I’ve got going – and I’m definitely not made about it.

Be Cool, Sodapop

Summer! Don’t you just love it?

Okay, I know it isn’t “technically” summer just yet, but I live in south Florida. It’s the land of perpetual summer. Except when it’s hurricane season.

This week I tried a vlog to talk about how to stay cool and hydrated this summer. Apologies in advance for being super awkward.

 

I love this Cool It skirt!

Leave me some comments about how you stay cool.

Gains and Gratitude

YOU GUYS. How pumped are you that it’s Friday? I am very, very pumped. Friday means rest day (best day!) and it seems like Spring has finally clawed its way here in Virginia. At least for the foreseeable future the weather looks warm and mostly sunny. Let me tell you, I am OVER this whole “winter” thing. 

I really shouldn’t complain, though, because my parents are getting hammered with another snowstorm in Wisconsin this weekend. I guess Winter will leave when it’s good and ready. 🤷🏼‍♀️ 

It’s spring here though, and things are looking brighter. This week has been a great one in the fitness department and I’m excited to be rolling in to summer making strides in the gym. 

On Tuesday, I PR’d my snatch, making a huge jump from 115 to 155. It’s amazing how repetition and accessory strength can help one feel comfortable catching a heavy barbell overhead. Snatching is such a technical lift and truly be an expert at it, it takes years of dedicated practice and drilling. I’m still learning and perfecting my form, but this week the barbell and I got along really well. I’m proud of how far I’ve come with something that until a few months ago I’d never done before. 

Last week, Clay and I retested our 1 rep max back squat and deadlift – and I made big gains there too. Up to 280 for my back squat and 315 for my deadlift. I may not be the fastest in our gym, but I am one of the strongest… I’ll take it where I can get it! (Under a heavy barbell, apparently.)

None of these gains would be possible without support though – and I’m very lucky to have a husband who is just as dedicated to my fitness as he is to his own. I know I always have a lifting partner and someone to suffer through a metcon with – and even when he’s not able to be in the gym with me, he’s still offering feedback and pumping me up (Facebook livestreams are great for that). Clay pushes himself in the gym too, and watching him make progress and improve skills alongside me is so motivating. I’m proud of how far he’s come and the habits he’s building in and out of the gym. Being surrounded by his energy keeps me on track, too. Simply put, he’s the best. 

When Clay isn’t around, I have some of the best peeps in the gym to keep me motivated – and honestly, my progress in the last two months would have been minimal without our little crew. Pushing me to try new skills, lift heavier weights, take new classes, get in extra workouts before class… we learn from each other and challenge each other every day. I’m grateful for all of it.

So, yeah. I’m looking forward to what the next few months bring – if the past few weeks are any indication, spring and summer 2018 will be great. Bring on the sun!