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! 

Why I Run

I get a lot of different responses when I talk about running. Some people think it’s really cool that running is something I do. Often times people get this look on their face like they want to say something rude, but are holding it in really, really well. Most of the time the response is “Oh, I hate running!” to which I always want to reply – “Me too!”

Truth is, I don’t feel that way about running. I actually love running a whole darn lot.

When I was sixteen I joined my high school’s cross country team because a friend wanted me to. The only thing I learned was that I was very bad at running. So bad that it would scar me for years and I wouldn’t even try it again until ten years later.

That time I was training for a 5K with some girls from work. I was at nearly my heaviest weight, but still trying. I never did manage to run a 5K without walking that time, but I still had some fun…I guess.

I feel like, with this story, the third time is the charm. I mentioned a little bit about it in my About Ash page, but I started running after I turned thirty. A couple of my friends and I started the Couch to 5K program and were keeping each other accountable through texts and Facebook. It was slow-going at first, but I remember the first time I was able to run five minutes without stopping. It was amazing. I was so impressed with myself and my body for doing something that I couldn’t even do when I was sixteen!

When the successes starting to pile up I got more excited about running. Being able to run 3.2 miles was a huge success for me and one that I would have proudly stopped at had I not had my friend Michelle pushing me to do more.

It’s not the distance that I love, though. I mostly run alone so I get to pick my distances. During the week I don’t run more than 2-3 miles simply because I’m pretty tired when I get off work. I know that’s a lousy excuse but I really love sleep.

When I’m out there, even if it’s a bad run, I’m still amazed at what my body can do and has already done. To me, running is not only physical, but also a mental sport. There are so many times I’m beating myself up, but also trying to beat myself, if that makes sense.

I love the feeling I get when I know I’ve pushed myself through the miles. I’ve been struggling with my runs lately, but I know that it will get better if I keep going.

I also know that I have to keep going. Honestly, running is good for my sanity! When I’m having a tough day at work and I just need to go– I run. Just me, music, and nature. Sometimes I’ll stop and just stand in nature. (Sometimes I take some really weird picture for Skirt Sports, too.)

The quietness and the peace I feel when running isn’t something I can really put into words. No matter if there are cars buzzing by or if I’m stopping to pet cats in my neighborhood. Not even if I’m struggling with the run and I just want to be home eating snacks…if I just take a deep breath and close my eyes everything goes away for just a moment.

Running keeps me balanced. It keeps me sane. It helps me know that I am capable of amazing things, but also that I’m not always perfect.

I run for me.

Why do you run?

Being a Skirt Sports Ambassador means I’m always on the lookout for secluded spots so strangers don’t see me taking pictures of myself. 😉

Princess Prep Fail

Way back in 2017 I signed up for the Disney Princess Half Marathon. It truly seems like it was so long ago because of how far in advance you have to sign up. As a Disney Annual Passholder I get a couple of weeks’ advance access so, yeah, it feels like it was ages ago.

Flash forward about eight months later and Princess Weekend is this weekend! I’m super excited about it because I love all things Disney. I took the day off from work, my hotel is booked, my outfits are ready…it’s going to be great.

In 2016 I went for a Rapunzel look and I loved it! I’m really excited about my outfit this year!

Only I am really, really unprepared for this race.

On the other hand I am really excited about my outfits for park hours…

When I signed up to do my very first half marathon (also a Disney race) in 2014, I enthusiastically trained for it. The race was in January of 2015- the first time I met Mer and Brooke- and I felt so ready for it. Since that race I’ve done five other half marathons and they’ve all gone well.

Lately, however, training has been difficult. I’m not going to sit here and make excuses, though. I know all the fail has been on my part. I am good at a lot of things, most of the time. Training…not one of those things. Each time a race comes up I try to do better. Sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn’t.

Obviously I’ve known about the Princess Half for a while. I haven’t found it in me to do a long run in the past few weeks. I know that I will probably suffer for that a little bit this weekend. Like a lot of folks, I started this year trying to be more healthy. I even decided to add something “health related” to my daily life for lent. Lately I’m struggling with it, though. I know it takes a while to create a habit, I just know that it this point it’s a little too late.

Even though I’m not particularly “prepared” for this half marathon, I know that I’m going to have fun. This will be my fourth runDisney race (my second since November) and they are always a blast. From waiting in the corral at 4AM to crossing the finish line in Epcot. There are cheerleaders, signs, costumes, and park-goers that are there to keep you going. Disney races are always packed with participants and I never feel any pressure to be faster or better than anyone else. I love the camaraderie that you feel when running a Disney race and I’m so excited to see how creative the ladies (and dudes) get with their costumes! It’s my favorite part of a Disney race!

Michelle is my Best Friend/Best Running Friend. We do all our BIG IMPORTANT RACES together.

This will be my second time doing the Princess Half and I am seriously stoked about it, no matter if I’m prepared or not. I’m ready to have fun, to get lots of photos, and to maybe have a celebratory drink in Epcot after. No matter what, I know I’ll be getting that shiny Princess medal!

I’ll be Twittering and Instagramming for Princess Weekend if you want to follow! Also, hit me up if you’re running too! I’d love to meet up!

Stay tuned for my recap sometime next week!

2018 Race Plans

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my goals for 2018. I started laying them out in November, of course, because I love planning.

Give me a planner and I’ll conquer the world.

     My primary goal is one I’ve had for a long time. It’s a total cliché too. You know, it’s that one about finishing your novel. Yeah. That. I’ve wanted to be a writer all my life and I recently had a small success in that a short story of mine placed in a contest and was published. But my main goal is to finish the novel that I’ve been working on for many, many, many, years. So many years I can’t even tell you how many because it’s an embarrassment. So that is my primary goal in 2018, get my novel finished!

I did run the Yellowstone Half last year but it’s the Caldera medal that’s calling my name.  Plus, I fell in love with the Tetons when we drove through the park last summer. These races are back-to-back weekends in June, and my sister and I are taking a road trip there together. We’ll be camping and hiking the two national parks all week together and I’m super excited about it! I could really use a vacation.  Next week marks the start of half training for these races and I’ll keep mixing strength training into my routine as well.

Some of my favorite photos from the Vacations Races I’ve run over the years.

     I’m also doing the Rocky Mountain Elk Double again in August and it will be my fourth year participating. I’m super excited because Meridith is flying out to join me for my favorite race! I am so stoked because she’s bringing her whole family and I get to show them Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park. I openly admit my bias for Colorado, and I love showing off the state that I’m so lucky to live in and proud to be from. Those are my three races for the year and while it doesn’t seem like a lot, the Triple is two half marathons and a 5k in seven days. It will be a great challenge.

     Last week, I took a class at REI about cross-country skiing, and tomorrow, I’m taking another class there about snowshoeing basics. These classes are free, so check out your local REI for their offerings. I could even ice skate if I wanted to because there’s a pond less than a mile from my house that’s frozen solid right now. The variety and choices are endless! I just have to push myself out of my comfort zone and out of the gym and go give it a try. 2018 is the time to be fearless!

If you want to follow my writing pursuits, I have a Twitter and a website and they come with my undying devotion. You can’t pass THAT up. 

January Wellness Challenge

I’m not usually one for resolution-ing in the gym. I have fitness goals for the year, don’t get me wrong, we all know about those. But I don’t typically buy in to the #newyearnewme thing.

This year, however, I decided to jump on board with something that my gym is doing – a month-long wellness challenge. Over the course of four weeks, participants are asked to complete at least four of the listed challenges and each week has a different theme.

What I love most about this particular wellness challenge is how holistic it is. Yes, there are fitness-related items (complete 500 push-ups or pull-ups in the month, row a marathon by the end of the month, etc.), but there are also items related to mindfulness, nutrition, recovery, mobility and even water intake!

Clay and I both wanted to get more involved in the community at our gym as well as take the opportunity to improve our overall performance in workouts. We’re more than a week in and so far, so good! I’ll be checking in a couple more times this month to update you on our progress, but here’s a rundown of what we’ve done (or pledged to do) so far:

Week One – Performance

  • Row a marathon (42,000m) in the month
  • Track workouts for a week (we use the myWOD app)
  • Set two performance goals and share with a coach – mine are to improve my overall gymnastics skills with the endgame being to be able to do muscle-ups, and to be able to string together big sets of doubleunders.
  • Partner skill work – Clay and I stayed after class a few times to work on our doubleunders.
  • 500 push-ups in the month. So far, i’ve completed 204/500!

Week Two – Nutrition

  • Eliminate one of the following items for the entire month and keep a journal to describe how are feeling: Alcohol, sugar, soda, dairy, gluten. We chose to eliminate alcohol – and Clay is actually attempting to eliminate it for the whole year. I will probably do the same, as I just don’t feel my best when I drink and my body doesn’t recover well at all.
  • Consume half your body weight in ounces of water per day for the week (e.g. you weigh 150#, you would consume 75 ounces of water.). Do not exceed 100 ounces per day.
  • Prepare or cook all of your meals this week. No fast food or prepared foods.
  • Track and record your food intake for one week and share it with a coach. I use MyFitnessPal regularly, so this one is pretty easy for me. I am trying to be more accurate in my logging, though.

So far, so good! We’re chugging along on our month-long items (we have MANY more meters to row still), and we’ve set our goals. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish in the next couple of weeks!

 

No Sugar Challenge Check-In

I can’t believe it’s day 11, basically the halfway point, of our 21 day no sugar challenge! Let’s check in.

The first week was…rough. My cravings for baked goods was strong and persistent, but somehow I managed to not cry. I don’t know how, but I did it!

I was also STARVING the first week. SO. HUNGRY. Out of hunger, I did break down on Monday and get a bacon cheeseburger because the idea of another salad in winter chilled me to the bone.

I’m still living at my parent’s, waiting for my house to be built (another *challenge* I frequently cry over), and I forgot to tell my mom that I’m doing the sugar challenge. She went grocery shopping, as she does, (wonderful soul), and brought home allllll my favorite things. Like Plain Goldfish (yes, I’m 6), and Nutella, and Ice cream. She also brought home salad and fruit and all kinds of things I can eat, so yay, I’m not starving!!

The best thing that I’ve noticed is that my taste buds are starting to reset. I ate some strawberries the other day and they really did taste like candy. I was great. And seeing, or in this case, experiencing, a noticeable difference like that was encouraging. Eating more fruit will help me get over my cravings, so that’s the plan for the rest of the challenge.

 

Up until Tuesday of this week if you had asked me how I was doing with the no sugar challenge, I would have answered with “Fine, dandy, couldn’t be better!”

And then, I fell hard on the ice (while being a responsible human and taking out the recycling).

We’re big fans of BibRave orange!

As such, my life has been a bit of a slip sliding disaster. On Tuesday night, after I got my cast, I demanded ice cream.
Yesterday I went back to smarter decisions and skipped the cookies that were offered to me. I’m an emotional eater and this has definitely put A BIG OL’ WRENCH in the works. I have more to say but as I am typing this one-handed, I’ll just stop here.

Oh sugar.

I think I’m somewhere along Meri’s line with this. I’ve been doing well, until I found the Christmas chocolate in the pantry yesterday and the PMS whispered in my ear “you NEED this.”
It was right. I needed it.
But, beyond the small snack of chocolate here and there, stepping back from the sweets has been pretty a-okay. I’m fortunate to eat pretty healthy most of the time anyways, and aside from the sneaky chocolate in the pantry, there isn’t any junk in our house to speak of. It’s pretty easy to avoid sugar when you don’t have any crap food around.
We’ll just keep chugging along… only a couple weeks to go!
It’s not to late to join our challenge and giveaway! Click here to enter.
How are you doing with the challenge? Only 10 days left, tell us all about your struggles and triumphs!