Reviewing my goals

Image: Ambro /

What goals? lol.:) I didn’t make any concrete goals for 2012 except to get healthy and sleep better. So far, 12 days in, and I feel like I’m not quite where I should be. However, I’m making progress, baby steps, but that is still forward progress.

I told myself that I wouldn’t worry about the scale, but that is hard to do. I haven’t lost any weight, but I have been fluctuating due to IBS induced bloat AND I feel like I have more muscle. I do FEEL better and less flabby and I need to focus on that, but It would be nice to see the scale go down a smidgen. I’m the type of person that loves to be active, but I also have major couch potato tendencies. If my son want to play Mario Kart Wii, I’ll play right along with him, even though I should be doing a workout video (or laundry). I can spend an entire afternoon playing World of Warcraft. I have made strides in keeping those tendencies at bay, but I still need to work on it.

I have been trying to follow my sleep goals, but last week as not so good, probably because I was on vacation. I’m much better this week. Stopping online usage past 9pm has really helped. I would watch TV while tweeting or checking facebook and I think it was too much mental stimulation. Working out has helped as well, but my workouts are shorter nowadays, so my body isn’t as tired, but I believe that has aided in allowing me to have a steadier sleep pattern lately.

Yesterday’s workout: 25 minute walk + Domino workout

Today’s workout: 25 minute walk + Turbofire HiiT 15 + 25 minutes of vinyasa flow yoga.

Working out at the playground.

As a working mother, multitasking is something that we have to get good at quickly. My son is on winter break from school and I’ve taken vacation from work to hang out with him. One thing I learned quickly is that it’s difficult to work out with him in the house. He critiques (which can be a positive. lol.) and gets under my feet all. the. time. I determined that the best way to kill two birds with one stone, allowing for both me and him to burn energy, was to workout at the playground.

Here is what I did:

I brought a jump rope and used an interval timer to do cardio. If you don’t have an interval timer, Gymboss timers run about $20. If you have a smartphone, you can download either the Gymboss app (free) or the Interval Timer Pro app ($2.99). Both work very well.

I set my timer to 18 rounds of 45/20. That means that I alternated between 45 seconds of jumping rope and 20 seconds of rest. My legs were sore from previous workouts and I needed the 20 second downtime in between sets, but you can shorten that up to 10 or 15 seconds if you want to. This session lasted 20 minutes.

Afterward, I alternated between 10 reps of spiderman planks and assisted pull ups on the monkey bars. I did 16 rounds (8 rounds each) of this session.

The best thing is that I get this workout in while watching my son playing with other kids. 🙂 It’s important to remember that we don’t need an expensive gym membership or workout gadgets to get fit. The best thing you can have is motivation to do your best. You can even shorten up your sessions and play with your kids for a little while – that burn calories too. 🙂 We did a long game of tag, which was tough because my legs were dead tired from jumping rope.

Here are some link to other playground workouts I hope to incorporate soon.

I have also added these links to my Pinterest Workout Board.

My IBS Story

This topic is about poop and bowel movements, just warning if you decide to read on, but it is a subject that has taken over my life for the last couple of months. We have all suffered from gastrointestinal ailments in our lifetime, whether it is a mild upset stomach or a full blown bout of gastroenteritis. I think we can all agree that problems involving your digestive tract are no walk in the park. Well, here is my story.

Shortly after I had my son (5 years ago), I started suffering from constipation. I didn’t think anything of it, just chalked it up to not eating enough fiber and needing to up my fluid intake. I had bouts of queasiness, constipation, diarrhea, you name it, especially during that time of the month. The problem persisted and after a couple of years, I mentioned it to my doctor. She would recite the routine talking points about getting enough exercise, eating fiber and drinking water. That it. I thought it was bullshit because I did all those things and it didn’t help, though my diet wasn’t as good as it should have been. Nevertheless, I became more strict with my diet and exercise routine.I became almost militant, yet despite this, I was gaining weight – all in my belly. I wondered how could have lean muscular legs and arms, yet, have this flabby, bloated middle, but, again, I chalked it up to the “abs are made in the kitchen” mentality (which isn’t untrue). I was unwilling to further refine my diet at this point. I was tired, I was stressed and I was baffled at my new body shape – I never had this body type before, I usually gained in the hips, not in the midsection. My own clothes started fitting differently on my body and it depressed me. Why was this happening? At this point, I had enough and thought all my hard work was a waste of time.

The situation took a turn for the worse in September, on my son’s first day of Kindergarten. My husband and I were rushing around all morning and now it was time for him to go to work. We had approximately 1/2 hour to eat before he had to leave, so we decided on an unhealthy option, McDonald’s. Right before I entered the restaurant, I felt queasy. I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich and it wasn’t sitting well with me at all. I thought it was because I hadn’t eaten fast food in awhile, but deep down, I knew that wasn’t it. When I got home a few minutes later, I was on the toilet. At this point, I was certain I had a bout of the stomach flu that was circulating around my office. Funny thing about this is that this particular “flu” didn’t go away. After a couple of days, my abdomen came very distended and uncomfortable making it hard for me to eat. After a week, I was at the doctor asking what the hell was going on. I got the usual spiel about gastroenteritis and to give it time, which I did, but I was getting progressively worse instead of better. I had pretty severe pain in the left side of my abdomen accompanied by spasm. It almost felt like a baby kicking, but when you know that there isn’t a baby in there…it’s not a warm and fuzzy feeling. I kept my diet bland because if my tummy had to do any work, it was like World War III was taking place in there.

Ultrasounds, CT Scans and numerous blood test didn’t show anything abnormal. That floored me, I was at my wits end. My digestive system was paralyzed. I hadn’t had a bowel movement in 7 days, yet everything was somehow normal. I tried taking probiotics and laxatives, but my stomach would laugh at me. I wasn’t laughing back. My abdomen became even more distended, to the point where no one would question me parking in the “Expectant Mothers” parking. (No, I never did that!) One doctor finally prescribed me a major amount of laxatives. That worked, but the pain persisted and my bowel movements were accompanied by blood (due to hemorrhoids, which most likely became inflamed when I was pregnant, but were now super noticeable under my present condition.)

My doctor finally gave me a blanket diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome with internal hemorrhoids. She said that I needed to reduce my stress level. My reaction to this was “How in the world am I, a working mom, that was to battle a horrible Los Angeles commute, get my son to school, go to work, pick up my son, battle the commute home and then once home have to do EVERYTHING since my husband works most evenings…Just how the heck am I supposed to “reduce my stress level?” Like it’s just that easy. As if! 😉

Well, I had to find a way. My first step was accepting that my situation wasn’t going to change and that I just had to go with the flow. This isn’t always easy, but believe it or not, it helps. My 2nd step was making sure I was taking breaks at work. I now get up every hour, just to stretch. At least twice a day, I’ll go into our quiet room (We are blessed enough to have one) and do 15 minutes of yoga. I also take a 20 minute walk in the afternoon. During these times, I try to focus on my breathing and to make sure I’m really getting into a relaxed zone.

I also changed my outlook on exercise. Working out is something I did to stay healthy and in shape. It wasn’t something I did to actually “relax,” so in essence, my workouts were stressful. I had a slotted amount of time to do a cardio sculpt or zumba class, but in the back of my mind I knew I had to get home to get my son bathed and tucked in to bed. I would hit the beach to play volleyball, but I didn’t allow myself to fully enjoy what I was doing, because I knew I had work waiting for me at home. I have incorporated more yoga into my routine without worrying about what my heart rate monitor is reading and how many calories I’m burning. I also do more workouts from home, so I don’t have to worry about the clock, and having enough time for making dinner. 🙂 Of course, working out at home does provide some challenges and distractions, but it is working for me right now. At this point, I have added a bit more intensity to my routine, through workouts now that I’m feeling a bit more zen.

I also made changes to my diet. The main thing was adding the right balance of fiber to my meals. I aim for at least 30 grams of fiber a day and I try to balance the soluble (rice, squash) and insoluble (beans, berries, raisins) fiber with each meal. At first, I had cut out wheat and dairy, but I didn’t have major issues when introducing them back into my diet, but I eat them sparingly, especially refined breads. I consume a tablespoon of whole psyllium husk in water or a protein shake twice a day. This provides me with more soluable fiber and also regulates my blood sugar, which keeps me satiated throughout the day. I drink 64 ounces, minimum, of water. This was a tough one for me before, but now I’m keeping myself in check. (I’ll get more into diet specifics in another post)

With all these changes, I feel better. However, this is a long recovery process, so I’m not going to worry about how I look or how fast the weight is coming off. I just want to be as healthy as possible on every level – physically, emotionally and spiritually. This whole ordeal has taught me that the stomach/brain connection is no joke, that I don’t have to carry the world on my shoulders, that I need to be aware of my state of consciousness and not get trapped in illusion and toxicity. I need to be me and I need to be happy being me.

Shake, Shake, Shake…

I have been trying to watch what I eat lately. I don’t eat much processed junk, but I take a very lax approach to dieting. Usually, if I see a food and it looks delicious, I eat it. The end result is primarily me feeling guilty for eating whole bag of trail mix (major weakness of mine) and working out hard at the end of the day to burn it off. That is *if* I have the time to work out, because sometimes I don’t. More often than not, I have an extra long commute on the 405 freeway with a hungry preschooler in tow wanting to listen to Raffi or other various soul-sucking children’s songs. Once I get home, I just want to hide under the covers due to post-traumatic traffic stress syndrome. At this point,  I begin to I feel extremely guilty, head straight for the mirror, start looking at my behind and asking my husband if it’s too big (It is, it ALWAYS is). 😉

Morning is my problem time for dieting. Cooking is not an option as I am in zombie mode in the AM. Eating brains involve some form of cooking, so unless you want to gamble with your life, it’s a no go for this zombie. Cereal is not filling enough. I wind up hungry right after I consume it, then I look to cookies from the work vending machine…no bueno. Oatmeal works, but I don’t love it. I do have a veggie egg scramble with whole wheat toast at least once a week, but my Dad makes that for me (bless him), so I can’t have that everyday.  A successful weekly breakfast plan for me would consist of oatmeal, veggie scrambles, but what else? I needed something else to add to the mix, so I decided to add a protein shake to my diet regimen.

I went into this with trepidation. A shake for breakfast reminds me of someone desperately trying to lose weight by just drinking sugary Slim Fast all day, then pigging out at night. I wanted a mix that wasn’t sugary and had some form of vitamins and minerals,  so off I went in search of a good mix. The first stop was our local Trader Joe’s. I picked up the vanilla soy protein powder, looked at the label and found it contained a good amount of vitamins and protein, so I decided to give it a try for $10. The next morning, I mixed it with 1% milk and frozen mango, but found the taste a bit chalky. I wasn’t a fan. Sorry Trader Joe’s!

I went googled around a bit and got recommendations to try Isopure’s whey protein and purchased some at a local nutrition store ($40 for a big container). I tried the chocolate and preferred this over the Trader Joe’s brand. It blended really well and did a GREAT job of keeping me satiated in the morning. I didn’t feel starving by 10am and could eat a healthy snack that would keep me going until lunch.  Isopure does not have as many vitamins as the TJ’s brand, but still had 25 grams for protein and tasted better. My only problem is that I only had chocolate flavor at home. One day I’m going to buy the vanilla or Mango Peach…ohhh!!. 🙂

A friend of mine is a Team Beachbody coach and recently sent me a couple of samples of Shakeology to try. I was really excited because I have looked at the nutritional info for Shakeology and it has lots to offer (see nutritional facts at bottom of post). Shakeology has less protein, 17g per serving compared to 25g in the other brands, but includes probiotic and enzyme blends in addition to 3 grams of fiber. It is also very costly in comparison to the other brands at approx. $120 for a 30-day supply. I received a sample of the chocolate and greenberry flavors to try. I opted to try the chocolate first since I was told that the greenberry flavor takes some getting used to. My friend said to blend with lots ice, which I did. The consistency was decent, with a good chocolatey flavor. There was a bit of an after taste that wasn’t too bothersome, so I was able to enjoy my drink on the way to work. The problem that I encountered was that I was hungry within an hour. I found myself staring at the nutter butter cookies sitting at my co-workers desk and started craving a peanut butter and banana sandwich desperately. I finally broke down and had some graham crackers, but was left wondering if I should have doctored up the shake a bit more. Maybe use milk instead of water, or add lots of fruit next time?

Yesterday morning I tried the greenberry, with lots of ice, milk and plenty of frozen mango and blueberries. I was tempted to try the drink straight up without the fruit, but zombie mode was in full effect, so I didn’t try it. The taste was decent, the mango masked the greenberry flavor quite well in my opinion. I thought the added fruit and milk would help curb my hunger, but I was ravenous by 8am. I had played volleyball the night before and was going to go to the gym later that day, so I allowed myself to eat trail mix…which lead to me eating too much trail mix.

I thought, perhaps, I was just extra hungry this week, but this morning I had an Isopure shake and had not dealt with any hunger issues. So as much as I wanted to switch to Shakeology, I don’t think it’s going to work out for me. I do like the extra nutrition, but because of the cost and the fact that I still need to doctor it up to suit my needs, It’s a no go for me. Bummer. 😦

Here is another decent review unbiased review:

Trader Joe's Vanilla Soy Protein Powder


  • Isopure Chocolate Whey Protein