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!

 

Recipe Box – Paleo Chicken & Mushroom Skillet

Since seeing a nutritionist, I’ve been told to start eating a Paleo diet. While giving up carbs and sugar is the hardest thing I’ve ever quit aside from smoking,  it has forced me to expand my palette which is a great thing.  I’m eating things I never did before! Things like English cucumbers, raw red peppers, and mushrooms. .  Also, the only real method of cooking I have available to me at the moment is my electric skillet. Therefore, meals must be two things: paleo, and able to cook in one pan. So when I stumbled across this recipe for Paleo Chicken and Mushroom Skillet, I was stoked to try it.  We paired it with a Seeds of Change Brown Rice & Quinoa packet, and a fresh, sliced cucumber. We yum-yummed the shiz out of this dish! My husband and I loved it.

 

Photo credit goes to I Breathe, I’m Hungry as I completely forgot to snap photos while I was cooking. Totally typical of me.

 

This recipe comes from the food blog I Breathe, I’m Hungry which offers low carb, keto, paleo, and gluten-free recipes.  I just discovered this blog, but if this recipe is any indication of the yumminess of her cuisine, I’ll be back for sure!

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?

Snaaaaaacks

Hey, I’m Ashley and I love food. This should not come as a surprise to anyone who knows me in real life, follows me on any type of social media, or if you have read any of my other posts.

Crunchy things are my weakness. Ice cream is my soulmate. Pizza is my best friend.

You get the picture, right?

How did the internet get this footage of me?

It’s so easy to sit on the couch and grab a bag of chips or popcorn and just munch away, not worried about portion size or calories. I’m guilty of it, even as I’ve been trying to be on this “healthy lifestyle”. I can often be found sneaky chips and crackers and other delicious things late at night knowing the only person I’m actually hiding from is myself. It’s ridiculous!

Lately I’ve been trying SO HARD to do better with my eating habits. It’s definitely working, but not without a little change in my thinking. This definitely includes snacks.

Instead of grabbing chips or something salty, I’ve been binging on fruits and veggies. Of course, sometimes you need a little bit more to go with those fruits and veggies…because that stuff gets boring real fast.

I’m obsessed with this little cuties. The amount of them I eat might be embarrassing if they weren’t so delicious.

I’ve been toying around with Greek yogurt (yuck) and have found that it’s tolerable when I put a lot of different stuff in it. It might sound crazy, and you’re probably thinking why don’t I just eat stuff I like? Well, I’m trying very hard to stick to my plan, so that means I need to get creative.

These three things and a dash of cinnamon…

…make for a delicious fruit dip!

 

Greek yogurt is a great breakfast food time. Of course, I like to mix in bananas, cocoa powder, and sometimes even a little natural sweetener because it isn’t something I can eat by itself. For veggies, I use the yogurt and a packet of ranch season to make a super light dip. So many things to do with it!

You might be able to guess by now that I also love dips of all kinds. Hummus and carrot sticks, crackers, or cucumbers is always filling… BUT, WAIT.

Did y’all know that chocolate hummus is a thing? Because it is and it ain’t half bad.

Get on this.

These are just a few things that I’m obsessed with right now. Also: mushy bananas because those are the best.

And coffee.

Is coffee a snack?

Anyway, if you have any tips or delicious treats you love, let me know! I’m always on the lookout for new things!

Vacation Motivation

Spring Break, 2018! Woohoo!

Just kidding, I’m old and tired.

Okay, but really. Spring Break is something teachers start counting down to the moment we come back from Winter Break. It’s a time to relax and prep for whatever the rest of the year throws our way.

I’m not good at relaxing, however. I volunteered for a three day tutoring camp for the first part of break and then my family and I are taking a trip to Disney! (As I’m writing this it’s Wednesday night and it’s scheduled to post on Friday. I’m being proactive here.)

So, why am I telling you about my non-existent break? I posted a couple of weeks ago about being on the struggle bus for motivation. I was at a point where I was just feeling…blah. I wasn’t happy with the way I looked in clothes or pictures. I wasn’t feeling good about some things.

Since then I’ve been doing well getting my eating on track and working out. Every. Dang. Day. I’m currently on a ten day streak. (Yay, me.) Even being on Spring Break I’ve managed to workout and eat right-ish. I went out to eat twice and to a movie, so it definitely hasn’t been easy. I just really, really love food!

Not being at home is the hardest when you’re trying to stick with a plan. What I learned about staying on track while being at work is to be consistent and intentional. I intentionally made my lunches everyday, planning what my meals and snacks were and it worked. The same with keeping up with workouts. My sister went to school to be a personal trainer so on days I didn’t run she came up with some great things for me.

Thursday we’re leaving for a few days in Disney, so I’m planning an AM workout before we leave. In the meantime, I’ve also planned all of my snacks for park days so I don’t end up eating all the Mickey Bars, Mickey Pretzels, churros, popcorn…wait, where was I?

Right. Snacks.

Crunchy snacks on my true love. I also threw in some fruit. Whatever.

We visit parks enough that I know hydration is ALWAYS a key. No matter if the weather is supposed to be cool. I always carry my own water bottle. LOOK, MER – RAVENCLAW.

Aside from being prepared with snacks and water, I’ve also actually packed WORKOUT CLOTHES. I’m being “intentional” with bringing clothes and I really hope that I don’t fail on this part. I know I’m going to walking all the days I’m there so I won’t not be moving, but running and working out have become important to me. I don’t want to let myself down.

 

All the Skirt Sports! (And Stella the kitten, but she can’t go.)

I know I’m not going to have a perfect week, but I can’t resist delicious things. Vacations are for indulging a little, but I know (hopefully) I’m on the right track right now.

One thing I know I’m going to indulge in is a Butterbeer when I get to see Mer at Universal on Sunday.

Okay, and maybe a Mickey Bar.

Back to the Grind

Okay. If you read my post about my Princess training fail and now you’re reading this one you might be thinking that I’m really bad at fitness. And commitment. And also staying on track with things.

Well, you’d be totally right about all of that! Life gets busy and I struggle to stay on track. Every. Single. Day. (As I write this I’m eating my last two Tagalongs.)

Health and fitness have been a huge focus in my life for a few years now. It started with healthy eating: changing habits, making better choices, more fruits and veggies. There are those things we should be doing but often forget to do.

I started running when I turned 30. I’d never been very athletic. I played sports when I was a kid but wasn’t very good at it. In high school I joined the cross country team for a season because a friend wanted me to. I hated running, so I’m not really sure why I thought I’d pick it up fifteen years later.

Running led to other fitness endeavors and I found myself in the best shape I’d been in for a long time.

Until lately, that is.

I’ve been on the struggle bus health and fitness wise since about September. Hurricane Irma caused a lot of problems down here in Southwest Florida, and not all of them were from the weather. I’m a nervous/anxious eater. I eat when I’m bored. Y’all. I just love food, okay? Being off of work and worried about friends and family was not good for me. After the storm things just went downhill from there. The holidays came, stress at work comes and goes, and I am just…tired.

Lately I’ve been looking for some motivation. I started a Facebook group with a few friends to keep us accountable for working out and being healthy because I thought it would help me if I were helping others. It worked for a while, but I’ve been slacking on it.

It’s hard to find the motivation to “get up and go” sometimes. Sometimes the couch is just much more fun than going to the gym, or out for a run or walk. Often times it’s easier to make and unhealthy meal choice than to take the time to cook something good and good for you. I’ve even started a Pinterest board to keep track of some at home workouts I can do. I’m really good at Pinning. Not so good at the working out just yet.

Talking to friends, it feels like we’re all in the same boat. We don’t like how we look in photos, how are clothes fit, and why are we so tired? Because we aren’t taking care of our bodies the way we’re supposed to be! Since becoming a Skirt Sports Ambassador I’ve met (online) so many amazing women. I see their posts every single day and I’m always amazing at what people can do. They motivate me each and every day with their pictures, videos, and words. That’s what I need and want. That’s what I hope to do for others one day.

Excuses are easy to come by, too. I’ve just written a ton of them! I’m definitely ready to get back to it, though. A lot of the times I am awed at the things my body can do, but I’m also always looking at ways to better myself- inside and out. As I write this it’s only Tuesday, but I’m feeling pretty good about this week. It’s already a busy one but I’m on track with eating healthy and working out. I mean, a little bit. Rome wasn’t built in a day, okay?

I just really like naps. 

If you have any tips on how to get motivated drop them below or hit me up on Twitter @thisgirlash_!

No Sugar Challenge Giveaway Winners

Our No Sugar Challenge wrapped up on Monday and so many of you participated! To say thanks, we’re announcing the winners of the giveaway.

Congrats to Jessica J., Krystal L., and Amanda G.! They’ll each get a bottle and a box of Tea Sport Keep Fit Green Tea to help keep up the great habits.

Personally speaking, the Challenge was great! For twenty-one days, I didn’t eat any chocolate, candy, or baked goods. For me, this is a big deal. Even my husband was impressed. I only had one serious moment of temptation, which I overcame like a champ.

The first eight days I didn’t have any sugar at all, and it was trying to say the least. After that, I limited myself to having one teaspoon of sugar in one cup of tea a day. I did this so I could remain married and not be kicked out of my parents’ house because I was getting…testy. Overall, this is a decrease in sugar intake of about 90%. I call that success!

The hardest things for me was feeling constantly hungry the first few days and I got tired of only drinking water. Oddly, that wasn’t a problem during the water challenge. What  learned is that I can live without scones and chocolate it’s not as hard or terrible as I thought. I think this will be the start of a less-sugar lifestyle!

 

Did you participate in the Challenge? How did it go for you? Are you doing other things that serve your health this new year? 

No Sugar Challenge Moment of Triumph!

It’s the last few days of the No Sugar Challenge, and earlier this week, I overcame a MASSIVE craving for everyone’s favorite, cake! Here’s how I did it.

How are you doing with the Challenge? What have been your major obstacle or setbacks? How have YOU overcome the hard things? Let’s life each other up through these last few Challenge days and ROCK. IT OUT.

 

 

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! 

21 Day No Sugar Challenge

Today, we’re kicking off our 21 No Sugar Challenge! I decided to do this for myself when I discovered my glucose levels were wonky after my annual routine blood work. Diabetes doesn’t run in my family, but my addiction to baked goods is likely to blame. I knew it was time to cut back on the processed sugar, and I knew the best way for me personally to do that was to go cold turkey. I’m not doing any sort of program, I’m just going to do my absolute best to cut sugar from my diet for the next 21 days.

Tears are being shed for all the future donuts I will not eat.

I know this is going to be super hard for me. But I also know this is crucial for my health. I’m 41, and it’s now or never to kick my sugar addiction.

Here’s my strategy:

  • Continue drinking more water to help flush my system (thanks, Hydration Challenge!)
  • Drink more hot herbal and green teas that don’t need sweetener
  • Chew sugar free gum when I get a craving
  • Eat more fruit
  • Cut white sugar and white flour food items

Here’s what I hope to gain by day 22:

  • A shift in my taste buds toward less sugar cravings
  • More stamina instead of the crash and burn from glucose energy
  • Overall feeling of increased health and wellness
  • A new perspective on diet
  • Lots of yummy new recipes!

This ain’t gonna be easy, folks. I expect there will be tears. Especially when my severe PMS cravings kick in. Some of the challenges I’m expecting are:

  • Not having my morning tea routine
  • Not eating chocolate in any form
  • Not having scones with my tea
  • Making sure I carefully read all labels

Speaking of Labels…

I know what I’m getting into, and I know my body. I quit smoking thirteen years ago, and to this day that was the hardest thing ever. After years of trying to quit with everything from medications, patches, and gum to sunflower seeds, toothpicks, and learning to knit, I learned that the only thing I really need is motivation and determination. I’ve never been so motivated to change my eating habits as I am now.

Are you motivated too? No matter what your fitness goal is for 2018, it can benefit from eating less sugar. I’d LOVE to have you join me on this journey. It’s free. I’m not selling anything, it’s all about accountability and commiseration. It’s going to be hard and challenging, but fun and oh so worth it. There will be a giveaway at the end, too, and we all love winning stuff! So come along with me on this sugarless trip, and tell me what you’re motivated to change in 2018. Together, we can do it!

To join the challenge, enter our giveaway by clicking the picture above or here and interact with us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. I’m here to support you as you chase your goals, so TELL ME ALL ABOUT THEM. Let’s do this!