A food evolution ‘moment’

So I’ve been waiting for that spark to return…y’know the one I’m talking about: that blogging spark. The inspiration to jot down my thoughts on my own little corner of the Internet. Something I haven’t done in over a week. And quite honestly, something I thought might never return: the spark.

But alas — it’s back, after a really, REALLY great break from the plugged-in world, being as present as possible.
…and loving every last second of it.

And it was during that unplugged time that I hit a pretty big breakthrough, personally. A food evolution ‘moment’ of sorts.
…ironically it happened during one of the biggest eating holidays of the year: Thanksgiving.

I’ve made it no secret that I’ve not always had the best relationship with food. I’ve battled my fair share of emotional moments with food, of that up-and-down ‘being good’ during the week only to blow it WAY out of the water on the weekends, because I felt justified after restricting myself all week long. It wasn’t until I started my personal barre n9ne journey last May that things really changed for me. I started logging food (and still do). I started to make that connection between hunger cues versus mindless munching cues. But most of all, I started to gravitate more and more towards fueling foods — lots of whole foods, real, nourishing, naturally grown foods. And it wasn’t until recently that I came to the conclusion that I’d finally learned how to be an intuitive eater. Sort of the be-all-end-all (for me at least) — learning to listen to my body, feeding it when it’s hungry, skipping the munching if it’s not hungry. And learning when to stop eating, what my portions should look (and FEEL) like, etc.

But this weekend I hit on something else: I recognized that my body now fully knows and LOVES the ‘number’ I feed it every single day. It’s become second nature. Even on a huuuuuge eating holiday like Thanksgiving I still managed to feed my body in a way that was still VERY satisfying (hello two kinds of stuffing on Thanksgiving, yes please!! my biggest weakness…), without stuffing (no pun intended) myself silly, or filling it with empty calories (like bread, crackers, fillers like that). I didn’t even have to think about it, or get anxious that there would be too many temptations and I’d never be able to resist, quickly falling back into old habits (i.e. ‘it’s the holidays,  you ‘deserve’ to eat everything in sight’).

The best part though? Not that I stuck to my guns and I’m sitting here patting myself on the back for it, but that after all this time, it finally feels fairly effortless — truly intuitive, and mindful (something my sister just touched on over at the barre n9ne blog, actually). Sure, I COULD have gone for seconds of stuffing, or had a bigger piece of chocolate cake for dessert (you guys, my mom’s boyfriend makes an UNREAL super-stacked chocolate cake with the most delicious vanilla frosting…I had to go for the cake vs. the pie, just HAD to). But I didn’t want to…nor did my body scream: feed meeee. It was satisfied. 

And that’s the big difference here: I’m satisfied — mind, body and soul. No anxiety, no fear that I’ll slide back into old bad habits, no worry that I wasn’t perfect.’ I’m finally at a point where I can ‘just be.’

Even though I view healthy, intuitive eating as a continuous journey through and through — this past weekend was certainly a pretty awesome breakthrough for me and although it took me a few days to process that, I’m celebrating it now. I think we all ought to celebrate our personal journeys and successes even more openly than we all probably do right now. I don’t look at it as showing off or vanity or anything, I view it as a positive reminder to ALL of us that you can do and be whoever you want to be if you want it badly enough. And guess what? You may surprise yourself and realize that who you wanted to be all along was right there the whole time, just itching to peek out if you gave her the right tools to do so.

So go on — celebrate your successes, big or small,  I’m listening. 😉

Foodie Friday — eating like a marathoner (my way)

I thought I’d bring ‘Foodie Friday’ back this week — but in a different format. I’ve been learning a TON about myself so far during marathon training and one of those learnings revolves around food. Now, I’m not gonna lie — some of you might be surprised by what I’ve learned, and I’ll stick a giant caveat on this post — this is just what has been working for me. It may not work for you. But one thing I’ve definitely learned while training is that every body is different! TRUTH!

But back to the point here — the things I’ve learned while eating like a marathoner (my way).

By now you all know — I’m a big-time fan of food logging. I picked it up during the barre n9ne challenge last May and have been a faithful logger ever since. I stick to the same number of calories every day, regardless of what my workout plans may be. Yes — even on long run days. With the exception of the fuel I take during the long runs (which I’ll get to in a minute!), my calorie number stays exactly the same.

And so far? That is totally working for me. I haven’t needed to eat anything more than my body has been needing, calorie-wise, before I started marathon training. However, I will say this: if I get to the point in training where I am faced with hungry horrors and my body truly needs more calories, believe me — I’ll eat an extra snack or mini-meal to satisfy my body’s needs. I’m not in this thing to deprive myself, that’s for sure. I love food way too much for that *and* I know it’ll just have the oppositie effect that I’m looking for. Fuel, fuel, fuel!

What I have noticed? My body craves, craves, craves….protein. Not carbs so much (‘cept for the night prior to a long run…mmmm pizza!), but protein. It’s the one thing that keeps my body feeling energized and truly fueled. I am finding myself gravitating towards proteins in a big, big way lately.

Some examples of what that might look like:

  • egg salad on a flatout wrap — huuuuuuge fan of these lately.
  • chicken salad on a flatout wrap – newfound love affair sparked just this week (picture below…which you’ve seen if you follow me on instagram!)

  • (basically any protein source stuffed into a wrap and I’m a happy camper)
  • cottage cheese (or plain Fage 0% yogurt) with fruit, HEALTHY BITES!, a laughing cow wedge spread on a sliced apple, peanut butter on an english muffin — heavy rotation snacks going on up in here

  • one thing that hasn’t changed; post-run recovery meal: OATMEAL!! Except for last weekend, I went with protein pancakes (see, there’s the protein fix again!) because I had fresh blueberries which just screamed PANCAKES. OMG it was heaven on a plate:

Another oddity — and one I wasn’t expecting — on long run days, I’m not nearly as hungry as I am the day after the long run. My body actually tends to feel less hunger after a long run. I’m still eating appropriately on long run days but I totally expected to want to eat my face off after 15 miles! Instead, it’s the day after — sorta like DOMS that always hurt way worse the second day? Hungry horrors tend to settle in the next day for me. I guess my body takes awhile to catch up to all those miles run. ha. 😉

A final biggie — this one is all about what I’ve learned fueling during my runs. And I KNOW this will sound crazy to any of you who run longer distances, I clearly am in the vast minority here when I say this. But my body tends to run better on less fuel and less water.  I simply cannot take much of anything in my stomach before a long run (we’re talking maybe a couple of crackers or a half a banana while zipping out the door). And during the run — the most I’ve taken for fuel so far has been 5 honey stingers and 3 gummi bears (Scott is loving the fact that he can eat gummi’s as fuel!). Water — Scott and I share an 10 or 22 oz  water bottle (depending on the length of the run). Yes, we share. I can’t stand running with the handheld, but Scott doesn’t mind it (what a guy!). Again — I KNOW that’s not very much water but it’s all my tummy can take. Any sloshing or heavy stomach feelings, and the run goes all downhill for me. Really fast.

So I feel like I’m baring my soul to you guys here but seriously, this is my quirky-but-it-works-for-me approach to eating like a marathoner. The bottom line: I eat as many fueling foods as I can get my hands on, I’ve been limiting alcohol during the week (sad face lol) and hydrating like whoa.

Running, of any physical activity, is suuuuuch a personal journey, it truly is. And this is one journey that I am loving, quirks and all. 😉 A HUGE thank you in advance for sticking by me throughout this ride so far, I know I am blabbing a LOT about marathoning, I promise not all of my posts will be about it for the next few months. I’ll try, anyway. 😉

On hunger vs. habit.

I’ve made it no secret that I keep a food log. I’ve been doing so for over a year now (since the barre n9ne 60-day challenge kicked off last May) and it’s been nothing short of eye-opening. Not just in terms of what I was doing before that was undermining my efforts to get healthier and more fit, but also in terms of what my body truly needs for fuel and how strongly addicted to “patterns” we all are.

And by “patterns” I mean eating out of habit or scheduled “feeding time” versus eating when your body tells you “I’m  hungry.”
…eating out of hunger vs. habit.

So that’s what I’m here to talk about today. Not rehashing the whole “why I log” thing or what I’ve learned from it (I’m thinking I’ll cover that in a future “why I log: revisited” style post in the near future), but what I’ve been noticing lately about my journey towards mindfulintuitive eating. And patterns. 

For me, what’s been so cool lately is to see my body naturally telling me more and more clearly just what it needs, when it needs it, instead of blindly eating just because it’s my normal “lunchtime” or “snack time” or whatever.  And even if I am eating during a ‘planned’ feeding time, what I’m eating is changing.

For instance — I used to be very, very tied to a specific idea for what my PM snack should look like, how many calories it should have and when I should be eating it. Typically, my PM snack time would fall between 3-4pm and would usually be a greek yogurt or something equivalent to about 150-175 calories. And I’d eat it regardless of how hungry I was. I’m finding that lately I’m really questioning myself first before I eat. “Am I hungry? How hungry am I? Do I need more of a snack, less of a snack today?”

I’m basically measuring my hunger by what my body tells me, ignoring previous patterns or habits. <–a huge mindset shift for me

So sometimes my PM snack becomes an iced coffee and a Healthy Bite (courtesy of this girl, who rocks – like whoa), on a day where my lunch was more filling than other days. Or I’m honestly just less hungry than I was the previous day at snack time for whatever reason.

And other times, my snack becomes more substantial — a Chobani yogurt, or cottage cheese with fresh fruit and chia, or an apple with peanut butter.

I’m now eating out of hunger, not out of habitor worse, out of a need to mindlessly munch (my biggest pitfall before).

Another example. Lately,  lunchtime has been my “hungry horrors” time of day. For those of you who follow me on twitter, you’ve seen a lot of #isitlunchtimeyet hashtags from me. 😉 Since that time of day has been my super-hungry time lately, I’m naturally gravitating towards really fueling, energizing lunchtime choices. Which lately have involved lots of wraps — I’m on a huge wrap-with-lots-of-protein-and-other-yummies kick with a side of fresh fruit or veggies.

(my lunch last Friday — a Flatout wrap with tuna made with greek yogurt, chopped cucumber and pickles and a side of mini sweet peppers)

And I’ve been noticing just how filling that option has been for me — when in the past, I would’ve been ready for a snack a couple of hours later, I’m now finding that my lunch has been filling me up really fast and sticking with me for a long, long time.

I’d like to think this is my body telling me how happy it is with the amount (and type) of calories its getting from me on a regular, very consistent basis now.

And now that I’m jotting all of these learnings down here, I’m starting to think that I might finally be at that point where I can call myself an intuitive eater. It’s something I’ve always wanted to get to — the point where I’m learning to eat what I want, when my body needs it, not just when I happen to want to munch – regardless of hunger.

(and it couldn’t come at a better time when I’m diving into marathon training and will *really* need to tune into my body’s fueling cues in a smart, mindful way – vs. allowing myself to fall into the trap of “well I ran 12 miles, I can eat all day if I want to, even if I’m not hungry.” Been there, done that, not doing it again.)

Seeing my body respond the way it has lately has been really, really cool — and to see me listening to my body in that way is a new experience for me (new as in a year long journey), and one that I’m really proud to share with you here. Not just because it’s been a long road to this mindful place, but because it’s something I’d urge you to really think about. Are you eating out of hunger? A pattern? A habit? Nothing at all (i.e. mindless)? 

Reason #4,567 why I heart barre n9ne

I know, I know, *another* post about my ongoing love affair with barre n9ne. Can you even stand me anymore??

But seriously, I just can’t help myself today. Way too much awesome stuff going on for me not to share on this fine, fine Friday morning.

The studio is expandingwith a second location about 25 minutes away from the original location (which is 35 seconds from my house, practically) — and what I love the *most* about that? It just means more and more people can experience the incredible transformation that I’ve personally undergone since joining the studio almost a year ago to the day (May 12 is my one year barre-versary…the one year mark since I kicked off the infamous 60-day challenge. The challenge that ultimately changed my life forever, no lie). <–expect a full recap of the grand opening party next week, the big event is on Saturday, my sis and I have been scheming for the last couple of weeks, snagging some really cool sponsors and things. Can’t wait to share!

I love to teach. Really, really, really love to teach. This was all more than solidified for me when I taught those three classes I told you I felt so honored to have the priviledge to teach yesterday. I loved seeing all the shaking at the barre – not once, not twice, but three times…and in two different studios! Everyone continues to work so, so, so hard during class — I love to see that look of satisfaction on their face when they walk out of that studio afterwards. It’s ridiculously rewarding.

I am still not afraid of the scale. This is a big one, friends. Yesterday, before teaching the second class of the day, I saw the scale sitting underneath the reception desk in the studio. And literally without a second thought, I turned it on and hopped on. I haven’t weighed myself since November — my 6 month mark of the challenge. It was that day, 6 months ago, where I proclaimed I was no longer afraid of the scale. And yesterday was no different. I stepped on that scale and was not afraid. At. All. And wouldn’t you know — when I looked down? That number literally stunned me into silence. It was a brand-spankin’ new number, a lower one, and one I have not seen in I can’t even tell you how many years.

Now. I have not intentionally been trying to lose weight since I hit my goal weight in November. I’ve been working hard, yes. Training hard, yes. But weight loss has been far from my mind. Maintenance has been my game plan. Numbers, scales, etc. are seriously not my “thing” as you all know very well, by now.  But to see a lower number was such a surprise. And you know what? I’m not gonna sit here and lie to you guys it felt frickin’ incredible. I am damn proud of myself. Particularly because this lifestyle of mine (that yes, still includes a food log), is truly a lifestyle. One that I believe in so strongly. Because it works. Becaues it’s not about deprivation. It’s not about a diet. It’s not about fits and starts. It’s about consistencyIt’s about loving food — real, wholesome, nutritious (damn tasty) food. And ultimately, it’s about making peace with food. Which I’m proud to say I’ve done (‘cept for an occasional case of OATT  here and there…hey, I never claimed to be perfect!).

So reason #4,567 why I heart barre n9ne?
…because it’s become my happy place. Through and through. ❤

Paying it forward – my way.

A big reason I tend to write with such passion on this blog?

Paying it forward – my way.

Sure, I may not be certified to be your personal trainer. Or offer you RD-approved nutrition tips and tricks for healthy eating. But what I can offer? Personal experiences that have evolved me into the woman I am today: the fit, healthy, strong, happy and confident woman I am today.

This confidence and strength didn’t happen overnight. Don’t let me fool you. It’s taken me years and years to get to a place where I can look in the mirror and say “I like that person smiling back at me, today.” This is my proudest moment to date: the day I stopped being afraid, the day I befriended the mirror, the day I fell in love with myself. A day I never thought I’d ever see — something only dreams could possibly be made of.

So I pay it forward – my way.

On this blog. I write from the heart. I draw from personal experiences alone. I strive to help others in any way, big or small, that I can. And, if something I say on this blog resonates with just one person. Just once. I’ve paid it forward.

Through the weekly barre n9ne rundates my sister and I host at the studio. To help other beautiful, strong, fit women recognize their own inner strength through running. My heart soars every time I hear them talk about building up their run-durance, doing the run/walk thing and sticking to it, feeling proud of every minute they ran vs. walked. It reminds me to always stay humble, to always appreciate and show gratitude for my own ability to walk, to run, to race – 5ks, 5-milers, half marathons, and soon – a full marathon.

In the barre n9ne studio and on the barre n9ne challenge forum – our budding little home for words of encouragement, inspiration and rounds of applause as each woman achieves a new milestone. It could be sticking it out during the shake at the barre; or losing an incredible amount of inches after their own 60-day challenge (like mine); or learning to love their food log for the tool that it is — a tool of empowerment, where food becomes a tool, a fuel-booster, and not something that controls you in any shape or form.

And, as a FitFluential Ambassador – something I haven’t delved into too much just yet on the blog, but let me tell you – in the short time I’ve been a proud member of this community, it has opened my eyes to a whole new world of opportunity to continue to pay it forward.

…which is what this blog is all about – my “audition” if you will, to pay it forward on a much grander scale. To write for a broader audience than my own – drawing from my personal experiences that have lead me to this place: a place of strength, passion, and conviction.

Because if this blog — EatDrinkBreatheSweat – stands for nothing else – it stands for breath(ing): Breathing in your own inner beauty. And drawing strength from it. Breathing in every moment of your day as if it were your last. And showing gratitude for each day. And, Breathing through those moments in life that become life changers, evolutiondrivers. Much like the moments I’ve described above that brought me to this amazing place I am in today.

Paying it forward – my way.

Why I log

<Editor’s Note: I struggled with drafting this post – mostly because I find I have a much harder time putting into words just how food logging has impacted me in a positive way, so hopefully this post makes sense to you guys when you read it!>

One of the things I’m really digging so far about being a FitFluential Ambassador is the great conversations we can have on Facebook (private group) – it’s opened my eyes to some awesome new perspectives and introduced me to some pretty fab people, I must say.

One of the topics that came up recently was about food logs – where to get started, which apps are best for tracking, etc. One of the questions on that thread was around the “reason” or “motivation” to calorie count – beyond the obvious one: weight loss.

It got me to thinking – why do I log? I’m the one who tends to avoid anything that has to do with numbers (fitness-wise) yet here I am a huge fan of the food log and calorie counting. I’m even hosting a whole Fitblog Chat (Feb 7, mark your calendars!) on the topic of the “numbers game” yet the food log is one where the metrics and tangible aspect of it really works for me.

So, here it is — my (attempted) answer to the question: “Why I log”

The long and short of it? It works for me. And to be honest, I was SO hesitant to return to food logging when I started the barre n9ne 60-day challenge last May. I feared that it would take the “fun” out of eating, that I’d feel too restricted, that I’d lose that balance in my life that I so, SO craved. That I’d lose a part of me.

But what I learned instead? That I was *not* living a very balanced life prior to the start of the challenge (and my subsequent return to food logging), even though I fooled myself into thinking I was. I was way, way, way overdoing it every single weekend — not just a “cheat day” but a “cheat weekend” or “cheat week” were perfectly normal and acceptable to me. I worked my ass off all week at the gym and ate well during the week (albeit probably consuming more calories during the week than I needed, even if it was all healthy foods). But once the weekend hit? No holds barred eating/drinking fest. And I wondered why all the hard work I put in all week, spending hours at the gym, wasn’t resulting in a fitter body.

It wasn’t until I learned to embrace the food log as a tool for a healthier me, that I finally found the balance I thought I had before. And guess what? Food logging doesn‘t steal the joy out of food for me (because I still very much find joy in good food and a good glass of wine) – my biggest fear.

Instead, food logging has empowered me:

…I now have a MUCH better understanding of what my body needs (and doesn’t need), calories-wise (I eat the same number of calories everyday, weekends included, long run days included)
…I’m so much more in tune with my body’s hunger cues (and lack of cues) than ever before.
…I’ve learned to eat until I’m satisfied – and I understand how satisfied “feels” – versus eating until I’m done (two very different things).
…I now know how to plan ahead if I’m going out to dinner (where calories are harder to manage) or to a party or just plain ‘ol want a few glasses of wine during date night. Eating lighter during the day (without starving myself, don’t worry) so I can have a few glasses of wine with Scott later that night, for example.
…I understand how to eat for fuel, particularly during long run days (which will become even more important once I start training for Chicago!) and also how to recover, post-run.
…and most importantly, I still very much enjoy the foods that I love – even the supposedly “unhealthy” ones like my beloved dove chocolates or our famous homemade thick-crust pizza, so I never feel deprived or as though I’m on a diet. Remember – this is my year of no boundaries, right? 😉

Bottom line? I log for me. Was it easy to get here? Of course not. It took adjusting to a consistent number of calories everyday, no wild peaks and valleys. But now that I’m here? It’s helped me to find an incredible sense of balance that I’ve never had before. And I dig that. I also dig that my clothes fit better (um, smaller?) and that I never, ever wake up with a food hangover (worst feeling everrr).

Food doesn’t drive me anymore. I drive me. How empowering is that?