Get physical, 15 minutes at a time, and remember how good you feel!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since I’ve started “getting physical,” it was that every small thing you do adds up. You read on websites that “15 minutes here and there make a difference.” So you add in a 15 minute walk 1 or 2 nights after work. That’s not a bad start, but it’s true that they mean these quick bursts of exercise to happen much more frequently. I aim for 3-4 a day, because that then means I’ve added one hour of physical activity in each day! That’s the kind of time that will make a difference.

Doing my best to remember this, whenever I find myself shunning my workouts, I start adding back in a few minutes here and there of simple movements until I begin craving an actual more intense workout. That’s where I finally got back to today. The winter time is especially hard for me to keep up with working out. It’s not necessarily the cold, it’s more the lack of sunshine. I lose my motivation. I’m not good at being active inside. But I’m going to make an effort. It’s my goal to get my body strong enough and my mind confident enough to bike wherever I need to go in the city by the spring. In fact, it’s supposed to be like 45 degrees tomorrow, so I am promising myself I am going to get a bike tire pump and get on my bike, for at least an hour tomorrow.

There are two things which I think really pushed me over that barrier into saying, “Okay, it’s time to seek out a workout.” First, I’ve been consuming a large fruit smoothie every day this week with a greens powder and almond milk. I haven’t had any fruit in a really long time actually. This was a great boost to my overall well being the last few days, so I’ve been feeling physically ready to do a workout. No fatigue, good digestion, free from aches and pains. The second thing that really got me itching for some endorphins was when I went out to sweep the front porch. Sounds strange right? Well our front porch and stairs and sidewalk all connect, and I kind of started getting carried away. When I went to return the broom to the backyard, I decided the whole thing needed cleaning. So, I went to work. My heart rate definitely picked up and I could feel the muscles in my arms and back working. It felt great.

So, to ride that high, I decided I’d download some Workout of the Day Apps on my phone, and I went through the Arms and Butt one, both the 10 minute versions. They were definitely a good reminder of why I need to get back to working out, haha. But really, even though I was feeling a little shaky, my muscles were almost screaming out with gratitude.

Then I did the 45 minute Crunch: Candlelight Yoga on Netflix Watch Instantly. If you’ve never checked it out, I highly recommend it. It’s very soothing and easy and it’s a great full body stretching workout. It always gets me feeling significantly more limber after just a few days in a row, and you’ll become motivated to maintain this type of stretching in your daily routine. Not to mention, you’ll sleep better and be in a better mood. Or at least, that’s what it does for me. My muscles get so angry at me if I add yoga back in regularly and then take it away. But once you remind yourself the difference it makes in everything from posture and weight loss to digestion and stress management, you won’t deny your muscles the privilege either.

Let me perfectly clear. There are plenty of days that I do not want to work out and there are plenty of weeks that go by that I do not. The same with unhealthy eating, the best way to break it is slowly. Like I talked about at the very beginning of this post, a little bit here and there makes you crave more. It really is exactly the same as the process of incorporating whole, nourishing foods. Give your body a little, and it will ask for much more. It’s a great cycle to be in. The more I continuously exercise, the more my body continues to avoid empty calories, and literally, those foods do not taste as good to me. If you’re taking the time and making the effort to work your body hard, why negate all that? Healthy foods lead to a quicker recovery rate (that means less sore for less time, but still able to work hard!), healthier digestion which aids endurance and overall performance, and it also allows your body to develop muscles and shed fat with more ease (and you’ll have more of a shot maintaining it.)

Everything I’ve said, of course, is just my personal experience. In fact, I’m thrilled that I’m finally writing it all down because when I’m feeling that the last thing I want to do is get off my butt and do 10 squats, it will help motivate me. Eventually, remembering these positive feelings, and embracing the feeling of being strong, limber, and fit, will help me maintain a consistent exercise schedule. At least, the gaps between times when I’m working out consistently and times when I’m spotty are getting shorter in length and less frequent. Victory!

How do you motivate yourself to stay working out or get back on the wagon if you’ve taken a little too much time away? How do you feel when you consistently maintain a workout schedule?

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Green protein smoothie and introduction to coconut oil

After a gross hiatus from exercise, I am getting back on track officially today. That means at least 1 hour of physical activity each day and also a protein smoothie to add nutrition and help build fitness. I got rid of my vehicle lately, which has forced me to start walking everywhere. I have done this before, and every time I’m in a pattern of walking, I tend to get more and more motivated to work out and get stronger and be able to zip around town on my own two feet. I will be biking again soon, but feel not strong enough quite yet. I need to exercise for a week or so and then hop back on. My plan is to gain energy and confidence in myself again before my 1 month vacation in January (heading back to my hometown in California – 29 palms! I’m even doing a 10 day silent meditation retreat, but I’ll have to write about that later.) I do feel pretty good most of the time, but I’m getting a bit squishy after this hiatus from real exercise. So yea, time to step it up again.

Today’s workout was 45 minutes on the Cross Ramp, interval setting, alternating between resistance 1 and 8. I hovered around 115-125 strides per minute. (This is my first attempt at actually tracking progress with speed, resistance, and when it comes to strength training, the weight that I’m using.) I also walked 4 miles total, as it’s 1.5 miles each way to the gym and then another mile to the grocery store.

I feel GREAT right now. Remember that! Note to self: you feel GREAT right now. I can’t wait to go sweat it out some more.

That’s how it’s really been my entire weight loss journey. I’ll begin by really buckling down and keeping a food log and exercise log. Then eventually I get into the rhythm of how good it feels to maintain health, and I stop tracking it, but then that leads to me cheating here and there and falling a bit off track. My “off track” days used to mean slices of vegan carrot cake and 300 calorie vegan cookies and chocolate bars and salt and pepper potato chips and fried buffalo seitan and popcorn drenched in Earth Balance (all former cravings even after lifestyle change!) I don’t crave most of those things too often now. My cravings tend to centralize around savory foods and not sweet ones. I do have a very fond attachment to Daiya Cheese and like to use it in several dishes. I had been using a lot of Earth Balance and Daiya lately, and that’s my “off track” cheat now. But today? Right now? After hitting the gym and sipping on this smoothie? I don’t feel cravings for ANY of that. I think this really the key in weight loss or any type of struggle really. Remember, make a mental note (or physical – write it down!) about how good you feel, your energy level, your confidence level. If you feel sexy, remember that! It will help motivate you on the days when its a bit harder to get your workout in. And another thing to remember, that food that nourishes, such as this protein smoothie, will taste even better the more your body needs the nutrients to refuel. The more you feed your body the fuel it needs, the more you’ll actually feel like working out. And the more you feed your body nutrient-dense foods, the less you’ll crave empty calories. Your body won’t want that crap anymore, trust me. It’s a positive cycle.

So, I’m going to make a protein smoothie with baby spinach. The reason I specifically start any kind of reset or “back on track” period of time with a smoothie is because of how much nutrition it packs in for not a lot of calories or really energy to digest. It’s already liquid!

OKAY – so what’s in my smoothie today??

  • 2 cups organic unsweetened soymilk
  • 1 large organic banana
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
  • 1 heaping scoop Lifetime Life’s Basics Plant Protein (hemp, chia, rice, and pea)*
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil**

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*This protein is my absolute favorite. It tastes GREAT just even on its own. Even to someone not used to protein powders. It’s soy-free, gluten-free, dairy-free. And it packs a great nutritional punch. Find it on Amazon.com for the best deal. They have a Subscribe & Save program where you can get it on autoship each month (or however often) and you get free shipping and 15% off too. Crazy!

**In a recent post, I explained the benefits of getting healthy fats from whole foods and how I’m a supporter of limiting (or eliminating, ideally) all refined oils. I have never cooked with or consumed coconut oil. I have heard through the grapevine that it is extremely healthy for you, even from people who generally don’t consume extracted oils. (Must be virgin coconut oil – unrefined.) The consensus seems to be that coconut, flax, and hemp seed oils are still very beneficial to our bodies. The big difference being that these oils are often just extracted and not refined. Since they haven’t gone through that processing, many of the healthy fats are still intact and have not been destroyed through heating.

The benefits of coconut oil that I’m interested in gaining include nicer hair and skin, healthier digestion and metabolism, effective weight loss, and increased immune support. Before beginning to consume an oil like this on a regular basis, I want to make sure I understand WHY it is so beneficial. The knowledge behind the healthy benefits of certain foods is really what motivates me to try new things and increase the nutritional density of every meal.

So let’s start with the benefits to hair and skin. I have been using coconut oil externally for approximately 6 months now (on and off) as both a deodorant and moisturizer. What I’ve noticed is that my skin feels smoother for longer, it tends to have a nicer overall hue, and just looks generally more healthy and less blemished. Coconut oil is also antimicrobial. Using it as a deodorant helps kill the bacteria which cause bad body odor. (Of course, body odor is affected by what we eat as well. A clean diet will definitely result in less of a toxic smell from your pits.) And since its moisturizing and antimicrobial, it works great to help heal cuts or skin abrasions or other problems. It also makes sense that if coconut oil has these properties, that consumed internally, it would help boost the immune system in fighting free radicals. Also, the healthy fats will help increase skin elasticity and keep it looking healthy from inside too!

As far as metabolism and weight loss are concerned, it seems to be that coconut oil behaves differently than other oils due to medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). When fat is consumed, the fat is broken down and sent into the bloodstream and directly to the cells. The MCFAs in coconut oil are actually sent to the liver instead, where they convert to energy the same way that carbohydrates would. This quick efficient boost of energy speeds the metabolism, which could help boost weight loss!

Some resources on the benefits of coconut oil: Coconut ConnectionsCoconut Oil CentralLIVESTRONG

And now that I’m way off track… how about a photo of that smoothie I’m sipping on? And then I’m off to work on some sprouted grain breads!

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Approximate Nutrition Facts

Calories: 631

Calories from fat: 211

Total fat: 23.6 g

Saturated fat: 13.7 g

Sodium: 384 mg

Potassium: 1356 mg

Carbohydrates: 67.4 g

Fiber: 13.2 g

Sugar: 36.57 g

Protein: 42.8 g