A Fall Food Review – Or, Hungry at Target – Or, Food-Shamed by a Cashier

It’s been hot hot hot in LA, and I will fully admit I took a trip to Target so that I could spend some quality time in the air conditioning. I was also on a mission to acquire and devour the new apple pie flavor Oreos, because I love me some apple pie. I was NOT planning on loading up on fall food (i.e. pumpkin spice everything) as it was only September 1st … but Target has a way with me. Those tricksters put ALL of the apple pie Oreos in the aisle with the fall food, instead of in the cookie aisle.

Since I logically went to the cookie aisle first, I wound up buying cinnamon donut Chips Ahoy. So purchase #1, I fully blame on Target. Next, I entered the fall food aisle looking for the Oreos, and I happened to enter at the opposite end from where they were located (Target seriously knows how I shop and is using it against me…). As I meandered my way down, I wanted to buy almost everything, but I mustered an ounce of self control and only carted some Hershey’s caramel apple candies (and the Oreos).

Now that I’ve got my Oreos I really should have gotten my butt out of the store, but in an effort to maximize my time in the AC, I decided to continue wandering through the food aisles. This is a decision I have made many times before and it has never served me well. As I made my way past the beer, the candy, the pizza and more without fault, I arrived at the baking aisle. Now, I’ve started a side business baking and decorating cakes, so my trip down this aisle was well-intentioned. Despite that, I carted some pumpkin spice chips and nothing that would actually help me with my business.

At this point I was weak. Partly because my basket was getting very heavy and hard to carry, and partly because I figured I’d come this far, may as well see what else I could discover. As I made my way down the bread aisle I lit up as I saw the english muffins toward the end. I’ve had the pumpkin spice and maple french toast english muffins before and they were amazing, so naturally I got very excited to scoop up some more. I was disappointed that there was zero of either flavor on the shelf, but a new, interesting one was tempting me as a replacement: s’mores. S’mores english muffins. Every other s’mores creation I had ever tried was good to me, so I threw these in my heaping basket without much hesitation. Now, I think it’s safe for me to blame at least 2 of my purchases on the store itself. The others, I suppose I can take responsibility for…

Here’s a break down of what I bought, or was tricked into buying:

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1. Cinnamon Donut Chips Ahoy

I saw these on Instagram the same day I wound up purchasing them. Coincidence? Probably not. Turns out I need to spend less time in Target AND on Instagram. Regardless, these are pretty good. I was food-shamed by the cashier, who questioned “How in the hell is a cookie going to taste like a donut?” and I still don’t have the answer to that, but I do know that Chips Ahoy has the answer. These really did have a donut flavor to them, and they were good overall. I probably won’t buy these again (because now I’m on to you Target!) but if they were offered to me by someone else I might have one. (To clarify, the cashier also said things like “I have to stay away from that stuff, or I’d have no teeth,” and “Man, I don’t know how you eat all that stuff.” INSERT RAGE EMOJI HERE. Please note: I was using the SELF checkout. So this was a SERIOUS intrusion.)

2. Hershey’s Caramel Apple Candies

I ate two of these on my (air-conditioned) ride home, just to be sure. I am now positive that these are bad. The caramel apple flavor is definitely there, but it’s more of a sour apple, which was never meant to be mixed with milk chocolate. The experience was confusing and a bit offensive. I would never buy these again, nor would I eat one if it were offered to me. Gross.

3. Apple Pie Oreos

THE MOMENT WE’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR! Calm down, these were just okay. I had my fingers crossed these would be so much like apple pie that I could eat one and be satisfied, allowing me to turn away from actual, full slices of pie. These are good, no doubt, but they will not keep me away from my mom’s apple pie. These also tasted a bit like the caramel apple Oreos, and that didn’t help their case. (I ate these before the Hershey’s so don’t worry, there was no contamination going on here.) I would not buy these again because I would rather spend money on an apple pie.

4. S’mores English Muffins

I was at the end of my fall taste test and had already been let down twice, so when I took a bite of these english muffins I was PISSED. These are waaaaaay bad. Like, my mouth almost revolted. If it could have emancipated itself from the rest of my body in order to avoid being subjected to another bite of that muffin, I’m positive it would have. Thankfully, that’s impossible and my mouth is still intact, ready to eat more cinnamon donut Chips Ahoy. In conclusion, DO NOT BUY THESE MUFFINS. Unless you hate your mouth.
Since technically it isn’t fall yet – especially not in SoCal – I’m not going to rule out a “Fall Food Review: Part 2.” If it happens, let’s all pray it’s less disappointing.
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Starting a Plant-Based Diet: The Struggle is Real

I always do this to myself. I watch health documentaries on Netflix and want to give up meat or go vegan or adopt some other extreme diet that makes me feel like a better person. Generally, I feel very strongly about the issues for a few days and then I realize I love food too much to stop eating meat or dairy. This time though, I may have finally seen enough documentaries to make a (small, slow) change.

What the Health

“What the Health” is a new (overtly biased, but still good) documentary on Netflix that’s been gaining in popularity. It’s centered around why we should all adopt a plant-based diet, namely because animal products can cause cancer and other life-threatening conditions like diabetes and heart disease, and the very institutions that exist to educate on and decrease the prevalence of these conditions are taking money from companies like Tyson, and encouraging the population to eat processed meat, red meat and other animal products that have been categorized as carcinogens (or are known to increase the chances of getting certain diseases).

The undeniable health risks and corruption were more than enough to make me rethink my diet. That is, until I realized what it really means to go plant based. (First thought: What about pizza?!)

What is a Plant-Based Diet?

A whole foods, plant-based diet is defined by Forks Over Knives (another great Netflix health documentary) as a diet “centered on whole, unrefined, or minimally refined plants. It’s a diet based on fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains, and legumes; and it excludes or minimizes meat (including chicken and fish), dairy products, and eggs, as well as highly refined foods like bleached flour, refined sugar, and oil.”

THAT MEANS NO CHEESE, PEOPLE.

~ Moment of silence for those living without cheese. ~

Ok, back to the serious stuff.

There are actually a lot of amazing things you can still enjoy on a plant-based diet, but you’ll have to kiss some of your favorites goodbye, too. (There’s no plant based egg replacement that I know of…) This is where my love of food (and my laziness) usually prevents me from seriously committing to a diet like plant based. But, after watching “What the Health,” I felt duped. Knowing that the advice and guidelines top health organizations are feeding us are fueled by bias and corruption made me really want to reconsider how I approach my diet, lifestyle, and general idea of health. By buying processed foods and animal products, I support a lot of companies whose morals – or lack thereof – I disagree with. But I’ve always done it, because it’s easier and I was under the impression it was still fairly healthy. The more documentaries I watch, the more I realize how important it is to put my money into products and companies that are transparent and environmentally/animal friendly.

The Struggle is Real

I’m not totally on board the plant-based diet train yet, though. I know myself well enough to recognize that jumping into a plant-based diet “cold turkey” is not going to work for me. I’m very emotionally attached to food and it’s a huge part of who I am and how I interact with others. So rapidly giving up large food groups and changing my entire thought process for cooking and eating is not going to bring me long-term success. I’m slowly transitioning into a life with minimal or no animal products based on my personal fitness goals and lifestyle. Right now, that means I’m not eating meat, but am still enjoying dairy and processed foods. So yeah, I’m vegetarian now.

What’s the Difference Between Vegan, Vegetarian & Plant Based?

If you’re confused about the difference between popular diets like vegetarianism, veganism and plant based, I do not blame you one bit. Here’s a simple break down:

Vegetarian: People who don’t eat meat. This includes seafood unless you’re a pescatarian and then you don’t eat meat with the exception of fish. Vegetarians still eat animal products like eggs and dairy.

Vegan: Going vegan is a complete lifestyle change. Vegans do not consume animal products or products that were made at the expense of animals (i.e. makeup that has been tested on animals, clothing made from animals, animal food products, etc.). Veganism is commonly thought of as just a diet, but in reality it’s supposed to be much more than that.

Plant Based: A plant-based diet is essentially a vegan diet without the lifestyle change. Going plant based is limited to the food you consume; it does not extend to any other products you may use or buy like Veganism does.

A plant-based diet also requires that all foods come from plants, and therefore excludes things like refined sugar. While certain treats – like Oreos – may be void of animal products and safe for vegans, (Okay, technically Oreo doesn’t promise that their cookies haven’t come into contact with milk, but they don’t actually contain milk, so it’s up to you if you want to eat them.) they aren’t made from all plants, so they don’t belong in a whole foods plant-based diet.

Currently, I have adopted a vegetarian diet. I’m working my way towards plant based, but don’t see myself ever being a true vegan. While I may make a more conscious effort to support brands and companies that don’t abuse or kill animals, I will likely never go vegan.

Why I Can’t Commit to Plant Based Right Now

There’s a few reasons I’m not ready to commit to a plant-based diet right now, one I’ve already mentioned above. In addition to wanting to go slow and set myself up for success, I’m also currently following a diet that makes it extremely difficult to go plant based. I’ve been following a Ketogenic diet for a few months and have a hard enough time staying on track without meat, let alone without all animal products. On a ketogenic diet, you limit your daily carb intake to 50 grams net carbs or less. Since most vegetarian and plant-based protein sources are carb heavy, I haven’t been able to accommodate both diets. (It’s not impossible, just VERY difficult!) Eventually I plan on abandoning the Keto diet in favor of going more plant based and putting on more muscle. In the meantime, I’m getting the majority of my protein from eggs, so I’m just focused on not eating meat.

Why I Can’t Commit to a 100% Plant-Based Diet, Ever

I love food; that’s the honest reason. I don’t believe in depriving myself of things that make me happy, as long as I’m enjoying them in moderation. I know even once I make it to plant based I will still eat animal products occasionally, and I don’t think there’s any shame in that. I’m not perfect and I’m not going to try and be. When I deem it worthwhile to have a slice of pepperoni pizza or a spicy chicken sandwich from Chik fil A, I will eat it, enjoy it, not feel guilty about it, and then return to my diet. For those that actually commit 100% to diets like these, I commend you. I do not however, want to join you.

Is a Plant-Based Diet for You?

Depends.

  • Does it enrage you that there’s evidence dairy causes breast cancer yet the Susan G. Komen foundation is partnered with Yoplait?
  • Does it piss you off to think that your loved ones who have been affected by cancer, diabetes, heart disease, dementia and more could have prevented it if they knew more of the real facts about nutrition and weren’t just told to take a bunch of pills?
  • Does watching documentaries like Food Inc. and seeing footage of animals being abused so already rich corporations can make more money make you sick to your stomach?  (Fun fact: I once threw up in my mouth while watching Food Inc. during a college class.)
  • Could you realistically give up meat?
  • Is it important to you to support companies/organizations that are transparent and socially responsible?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to consider going plant based. I recommend starting with “What the Health” and “Forks and Knives” if you want to learn more about the benefits of a plant-based diet/the corruption in our leading health organizations and government.

 

 

Exactly How I Lost 15 Pounds in 2 Months

I love bread.

I wanted to start out by saying that so there is no confusion throughout this article. I love bread, and pasta, and cookies, and cake and all carbs – bad, good; it doesn’t matter. However, I may love them too much sometimes (like when I eat 14 Oreos in just a few minutes).

Because I’m interested in trying almost any diet at least once, I decided to go low carb right before my 25th birthday. I have been low carb before, but never quite like this. To prep for yet another birthday that reminded me how the previous birthday I said I would get in the best shape of my life by my next birthday (… THIS birthday), I decided I would try to get into and stay in Ketosis (a state where your body burns fat for fuel instead of carbs) for at least 6 weeks.

To get there and stay there, you need to eat 50 grams net carbs OR LESS. 50 grams net carbs is about equal to a banana and a slice of bread, just so you have that for reference. I decided to be an overachiever and eat as little carbs as humanly possible – most days I clocked in at under 30 net grams. I am a rockstar. Please hold your applause until the end.

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At this point you’ve probably written me off as crazy, and I do not disagree. But no one has as much motivation as girl trying to fit into an amazing (and tight) cocktail dress for her birthday. Except maybe brides, but at least they already have someone willing to marry them whereas I am both trying to look good on my birthday AND trying to find a husband. So on second thought, I am the most motivated of all.

How to Follow a Ketogenic Diet

I have to stress that without this motivation – without an intense WHY – you will likely fail at staying in ketosis for a long period of time. I was extremely motivated, but when friends tried to join me and lacked a strong goal, they barely lasted a week. I also worked out twice a day while following this diet, once around 7am for 30-45 minutes and once at 5:30pm for the same length. You can see results from this diet without working out at all, but as with all diets, working out will speed up weight loss. Here are some examples of how I managed to eat so few carbs and not kill anyone:

What I Ate to Get to Ketosis:

Breakfast: 2 eggs scrambled with 2 turkey sausage links and 2 slices full fat bacon*

Lunch: Zucchini noodles with chicken and bruschetta

Snack: Atkins Shake; Celery & PB

Dinner: Greek salad with avocado, pine nuts, cucumber, tomato, red onion and homemade dressing

*To compensate for the lack of carbs and to help your body enter Ketosis, you need to up the amount of fats that you eat. About 60-80% of your calories should be coming from fats while following this diet.

What I Ate Once in Ketosis:

Breakfast: 2 eggs scrambled with grilled green pepper and onion, diced ham and pepper jack cheese

Lunch: Tuna lettuce wraps with celery, onions, soy sauce and full fat mayo

Snack: Atkins shake + 2 TBSP PB

Dinner: Grilled chicken and one bag frozen low carb vegetables (like broccoli with cheese sauce)

Signs of Ketosis

I had never attempted a diet like this before, but I figured if Kim Kardashian could do it, so could I. I had no idea how I would know when I was in Ketosis, and technically I guess I’ll never know. I didn’t do any blood or urine tests, but I experienced a number of signs that indicated I made it:

  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Extreme thirst
  • Rapid weightloss
  • Increased energy
  • Increased mental clarity

The symptoms will be different for everyone, and others have reported more and different signs of Ketosis, but as long as you’re eating below 50g net carbs, it’s pretty impossible to not have entered Ketosis after 10 days.

After the first week, where you lose mainly water weight due to decreased carbs, multiple people started to comment on my weightloss. By the end of the 7 weeks I was following this diet, I had lost 15 pounds and felt amazing.

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How Long Should You Follow a Low Carb Diet?

A low-carb diet can be a way of life for some people, especially those with medical issues like diabetes, but Ketosis isn’t a very sustainable way of life, at least not in my opinion. By being so restrictive, you are more likely to snap and fall into binge eating. For quick weight and fat loss, Ketosis is the perfect solution. Increased fats help keep you full while decreasing bloat and promoting actual fat loss. If you’re interested in burning fat for a moderate amount of time, whether it be for a special event or as prep for a bigger goal, like building muscle, I would recommend giving Ketosis a try. And if you want to stay low carb afterwards, you can always follow the Atkins diet.

Making the Shift

I took a few breaks from this diet once my birthday and the 4th of July hit, but I’ll be jumping back into a low carb diet when I start Beachboy’s new program Shift Shop. Shift Shop is a 3 week program that increases in intensity as it decreases starchy carbs. It’s based on cardio, strength and agility moves – the kind of stuff all you athletes out there are used to doing – and it gave the test group users INCREDIBLE results.

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The program launches on July 12th on Beachbody OnDemand and I am really excited about this one. I tried a preview workout and was dying! I can’t wait to see what else I can do/how I can continue to improve following this low carb diet.

Want to do Shift Shop with me and get in the best shape of your life in just 3 weeks? Reach out on my contact page or sign up for Beachbody OnDemand today. What are you waiting for?!

Sweet Potatoes 5 Ways

White potatoes are so 1999. Sweet potatoes are where it’s at now and if you haven’t jumped on this bandwagon yet, what are you waiting for?! I almost never eat a potato that is not a sweet potato so I’ve got a few recipes up my sleeve. I haven’t made sweet potato waffles yet, but they are on my short list. What I have made are these 5 dishes that will definitely bring you over to the sweet potato side if you’re not already there.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

When I started trying to eat healthier I essentially gave up all forms of potatoes. Coming from a family that has a potato dish as a side to almost every dinner, that meant seriously craving mashed potatoes sometimes. Then I learned I could eat sweet potatoes and not derail my diet, so I threw this together as fast as I could and damn I’m glad I did. All you need is 3 ingredients: sweet potatoes, vanilla greek yogurt, and cinnamon.

  1. Peel and chop sweet potatoes (4-5 for about 5 servings)
  2. Boil sweet potatoes and then mash
  3. Add 1/2 C greek yogurt to taste
  4. Add cinnamon to taste

Sweet Potato Chili

For a chili cook-off at my work one year, I decided to try and win over the vegetarians with a 5 ingredient sweet potato black bean chili. It was a major hit, though sadly it couldn’t beat out the chili cheese fry contestant…

In terms of health though, it’s definitely a winner. Follow the recipe from Minimalist Baker!

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Credit: Minimalist Baker

Sweet Potato Fries

Even at restaurants where they aren’t really healthier, I still prefer sweet potato fries (or tots!) to regular potatoes. Naturally, I needed to make them at home so I could have a healthy version, too. Here’s what you do:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Clean and slice 4-5 sweet potatoes, leaving the skin on.
  3. Place foil on a cookie sheet and drizzle with EVOO
  4. Spread fries over the EVOO and drizzle some more on top
  5. Sprinkle with your favorite seasoning (I usually use Mrs. Dash saltless chipotle and chili lime seasonings, but cinnamon is another winner here, too)
  6. Bake for 30-45 minutes depending on how you like your fries
  7. Enjoy!

Baked Stuffed Sweet Potato

Talk about comfort food. This meal will leave you feeling stuffed like you just had a cheat meal but it’s totally good for you. Here’s what you need to make a “Burrito” stuffed sweet potato:

  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 C brown rice
  • Salsa
  • Guacamole
  • Optional: corn
  • Seasonings: cumin, cayenne, chipotle
  1. Bake your sweet potatoes in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until they begin to soften
  2. Remove from oven and add your cooked rice, beans, seasonings and any other optional ingredients
  3. Continue to bake another 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are done
  4. Remove from oven and top with salsa and guacamole

Sweet Potato Cheese Fries

All you have to do here is add in some parmesan and nutritional yeast to the fry recipe above and you’ve got CHEESE FRIES! Sprinkle the cheese on toward the end of your baking time so it doesn’t burn and you’re good to go.

If you’re really grossed out and confused by nutritional yeast, here’s an article explaining it’s awesome health benefits.

The ONE Thing I Do Everyday to Stay Healthy

There are days I don’t workout, days I don’t watch what I eat, and days I straight up eat crap. But the one thing I do every day to stay healthy is drink my FAVORITE shake. I’ve tried quite a few protein and meal replacement shakes over the years and this one is by far the best. A lot of people think it’s too expensive, but it breaks down to less than $5 per serving, which is cheap if you’re using it to replace a full meal. Even when I use it as a snack it still saves me money since I don’t have to buy as many groceries. Plus it tastes amazing and you can get really creative with it!

So what is it?

Shakelology.

Ever heard of it? It’s a Beachbody product that some of your friends on Facebook may have tried to sell you before. If you thought they were crazy, here’s why you thought wrong:

    1. Shakeology is expensive when you think it’s “just a protein shake.” Truth is, it is SO much more than that. It has nutritionist approved “super foods,” probiotics, digestive enzymes, fruits and veggies. Know another shake that has ALL that? Compare ingredients and I think you’ll find that Shakeology always wins. And it’s still less than $5 per serving.
    2. Shakeology tastes GOOD. I’m personally not a fan of the vanilla, but chocolate and cafe latte are amazing. I drink cafe latte EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Plus, sooooo many recipes.
    3. You CAN use Shakeology as a meal replacement but you don’t HAVE to. Some people are really skeptical of meal replacements and think they are scams, but Shakeology is good enough that you totally could use it as a meal replacement, especially in a pinch, but you don’t have to; you can drink it as a snack or have it as a TREAT! (I usually mix it with almond milk and drink it for breakfast.)
    4. Shakeology actually improves the way your body works. With probiotics + digestive enzymes + REAL food, your gut is happier and healthier when you drink Shakeology. If you want increased energy, decreased digestive issues and an overall BETTER feeling all day long, you should start drinking “ShakeO.”
    5. Shakeology can help you lose weight! With all these good, filling ingredients, Shakeology crushes cravings and keeps you from overindulging on things that might ruin your diet or healthy lifestyle. Plus having a healthier gut is linked to weightloss too, so YAY for probiotics and digestive enzymes!

I challenge you to drink Shakeology once a day for 30 days and then STOP drinking it. It won’t be easy! This shake has come through for me so many times I can’t even count, and I know I would have chosen something fast and gross if I hadn’t had it with me. Or I would have had a protein shake and been hungry 45 minutes later!

Want to know the specifics? Read all about Shakeology from Beachbody.

Interested in snagging some of this superfood shake for yourself? Use this handy link.


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The Truth About Detox Baths

This post was originally published on ColeTries.com

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Just the thought of taking a bath disgusts me and sometimes makes me gag, so deciding to take a “detox bath” was very out of character for me. And now that it’s over I can confidently say NOT worth it.

So how did a girl who nearly throws up just thinking about a bath wind up paying $30 for French clay and sitting in a too-small tub? Goop. Yes, Gwyneth Paltrow’s blog, Goop, comes through once again. If you’re ever looking for something weird and expensive to try, just peruse Goop for a minute and you’ll be fine. And also possibly bathing in clay…

Obviously I put this bath off for a bit after it came in the mail because… ew. But after drinking for 8 hours on a Saint Patrick’s Day pub crawl onSaturday, I knew Sunday night needed to be spent in the tub. Which, by the way, was not big enough for me. I felt like Buddy the Elf at the North Pole trying to pretzel myself into a position that allowed for the majority of my body to be submerged. I managed to cross my ankles and get everything under except my kneecaps. I’m thinking this didn’t have a prominent effect on the overall detox but I’m not an expert, and I might have some pretty toxic kneecaps now.

Anyway, I followed the directions as best I could, but I usually manage to mess things like this up. I ran the bath water for what felt like forever until it looked like it was full enough. This might be simple for someone who takes baths often, but I had no clue what I was doing here. Next, I took the salt packet out of the bag and dumped the whole thing in. It dissolved pretty quickly and then it was time to get in and add the clay. I weighed my options for a minute and decided it didn’t make any sense to get in and then add the clay so I dumped it in first. Again, I don’t think this had a prominent effect on the overall detox, but not an expert.

Once I climbed in, which was a big step for me, I quickly realized I was severely lacking in water. Not sure if you’ve ever gotten into a bath with too little water before, but it’s awkward AF, like sitting on the shallow end of a wave pool except you’re naked. So I turned the water back on and sat there feeling very uncomfortable. I also started to get really self-conscious because I was sure my roommates could hear the water running and were judging me for how much I was using. Water in Southern California is a rare commodity, so I apologize to the environment.

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Once I finally had enough water, I turned my Spotify Soft Pop Hits playlist on and set my timer for 20 minutes. Retrospectively, I’m not sure this was the best idea considering the detox I was doing was a “digital detox” meant to cleanse my body of the toxins it absorbs from using my phone all the time, whatever those may be… but I wasn’t about to sit in the tub for 20 minutes with no music, so I used technology. The review I read of this product on Goop said that when I was done I would feel very heavy getting out of the tub and then sleep for a really long time. This is not what happened.

In the bath’s defense, I drank a small iced coffee around 7 p.m., and that’s probably why I didn’t sleep well, but I was hoping the detox would be so intense the coffee wouldn’t matter, especially since I finished this bath around 10:30 p.m. Regardless, I didn’t feel any heavier getting out of the tub than any normal person climbing out of that much water would, so I started to get worried that this was all for nothing.

Afterwards you’re supposed to rinse off but not shower and then wrap yourself in a warm blanket for 30 minutes while you relax/sleep and sweat it all out. I’ll admit I was sweating a bit toward the end of the bath, but once I got in bed I was no longer hot, and I also only had a room temperature blanket handy, so that may have had a bigger effect than I intended. I struggled to fall asleep even though it was now 40 minutes past my bedtime. Yes, I go to bed at 10 p.m. Judge me.

As I lay in bed pissed about not being able to sleep and dreading my 6 a.m. workout alarm, I somehow managed to doze off. Waking up wasn’t as bad as I anticipated but then there was the workout part…

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Being as I was supposed to sweat out the toxins after the bath but that didn’t happen, I think it all started to kick in during my workout. I did not feel right at all and every exercise felt abnormally tough. My stomach wasn’t feeling right and I decided to blame the bath. It could have been a myriad of things, like having an iced coffee for dinner and then working out on an empty stomach, but I am choosing to ignore that and place all blame on the bath. Even after the workout experience though, I do not feel better. I definitely do not feel rid of toxins and I definitely do not have a newfound appreciation for baths.

So what did I get out of this? A clean tub, I suppose, but not from the clay – I wiped that whole thing down with acetone before I got in because again, baths are disgusting.

What I Learned:

  • I do not fit in my tub
  • Baths are stupid
  • I am likely still very toxic (cue Britney Spears sing along)

Why You Need to Strength Train Even If You Don’t Give a Shit About Muscle

If you hate lifting weights and prefer cardio over strength training I have all the praise hands emojis for you.

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I get it. I feel the exact same way. How you can top a runner’s high with bench presses? You can’t. But strength training is a necessary evil. Even if you aren’t working out for a goal and don’t care one bit about gaining muscle, you still need to strength train. Here’s why you should suffer with the rest of us:

Your Metabolic Rate is Crucial

When you lose weight, about 20% of it will probably be muscle. The less muscle you have, the lower your metabolic rate (how you burn calories). So as you lose weight, your metabolic rate will decrease and you’ll have to eat less to maintain your new weight, or to keep losing weight. But, if you take your time and lose weight slowly, you may be able to maintain your progress. Strength training more often than doing cardio can help you maintain or build muscle, which can increase your metabolic rate. The more you’re burning, the more you can eat and still reach your goals!

You Can Eat More Food

Muscles need fuel and lots of it. If you’re doing cardio only to lose weight you’ll eventually hit a plateau and either need to add more cardio or eat less calories. Sooner or later it will become unmanageable. There’s only so many hours in a day to workout and you can only cut calories so much. Strength training, as I mentioned above, lets you eat more while still reaching your goals. Even if you don’t care about gaining muscle, you probably care about your long term fitness goals and success, and if you’re just doing cardio, you’ll definitely burn out.

Your Results Will Be Sustainable

If you have to keep increasing cardio and decreasing calories, you’ll cease to exist. That’s how that works long term. But, if you keep increasing your weights, gaining muscle, getting stronger, and eating more, you’ll become a badass. That’s how that works long term. Strength training is more sustainable than cardio alone, and it makes your results sustainable too.

Strength Helps Prevent Injury

Weak bodies get hurt. The more you push yourself to eat less and do more cardio, the more likely you are to get hurt. Granted, doing strength training poorly is a really great way to get injured as well, but that’s another blog post. Strong is the new skinny y’all. Get on board.

So You’re Stuck in a Rut … Here’s How to Get Out

I’ve been in more ruts than I can count, but I’ve never given up on my fitness journey. These are my tried and true ways to get unstuck and back on track!

Do a Workout Because You Love it, Not Because You “Need” it

Working out will naturally feel like a chore sometimes, even if you’re doing something you like. But if you’re stuck in a rut, you obviously need to try something new or get back to the basics.

I know that strength training is good for me and lifting weights will help get me the body I want, but I also LOVE cardio and the high I get from a good run or Soul Cycle class. When I find myself dreading my workouts because I’m bored or feel like I’m just going through the motions, I get out there and do the things I’ve been neglecting. I book a Soul Cycle class; I go for a night run; I swap Netflix for a hike. It never fails to remind me how much I actually love working out. Then I get back to the grind.

Set a New Goal or Find Something to Train For

I do a pretty terrible job when I don’t have something to work for, so when I get stuck I try to set a new goal or find something to train for. Even if it’s superficial, like looking good for an event, it usually does the trick. What are you working toward? Is it motivating enough?

I encourage you to drop a couple hundred bucks on a race like a marathon or triathlon; every time I spend a significant amount of money on something (like a juice cleanse…) I COMMIT. Go buy some new clothes or put a down payment on something you know you’re not quite ready for. Whatever works!

Make it Social

I’m not always a fan of working out with others; I like to do my own thing, I don’t want self conscious feelings to take away from my workout, and I like having space and equipment to myself. But, sometimes you just need a partner or a group of strangers to push you harder.

If you’ve been skipping workouts, booking a class or making plans with friends will hold you accountable. And if you’re competitive, working out with others will push you to be the best in the room. Plus, friends make everything better, so make it social and you’ll enjoy it again in no time.

Top 6 Fitness Mistakes Even I’ve Made

We’re all learning as we go, and fitness isn’t intuitive, so mistakes will be made. If you’re doing any of these terrible things, check yo’self before you wreck yo’self.

1. Not eating enough

Gone are the days when I would eat 1,200 calories and workout too much, but I can’t deny that they happened. Will you lose weight while eating very few calories and doing tons of cardio? Fa sho. Will you lose a lot of other things too, like your sanity? Most definitely. It’s not worth it. Fuel your body so it can do cool, strong, dope shit.

2. Treating all workouts the same

Hmmm, which is better for me: 45 minutes of high intensity cardio plus resistance and strength training at Soul Cycle, or 30 minutes of moderate cardio on the elliptical? Obviously the former. You can’t treat all workouts the same and expect to get or maintain results. Train with a purpose. Push yourself. Rest days are rest days but workout days are work. the. hell. out. days. Be honest with yourself when you know you aren’t doing what you’re capable of.

3. Adding back calories after a workout

I think most of us have tracked our calories at some point, whether on an app or in a journal. But if you added back in the calories you burned during your workout, you did it wrong. You don’t want to eat too little, by all means eat enough to sustain your workout, but don’t undo everything you worked for in the gym by eating an extra 200-400 calories.

4. Skipping meals

When I’d go out in college and eat pizza at 2 a.m. I would try desperately not to eat again until 2 p.m. because I read that you should have 10-12 hours between your dinner and breakfast. Don’t be me in college. Don’t skip meals. Feed your muscles every 3-4 hours regardless of your drunk food. Eat when you’re hungry. Do good, smart things.

5. Not recovering properly

If I could offer one piece of advice to you, it would be to take your recovery seriously. I’m still paying for my mistakes 5 years later and it’s depressing and expensive and time consuming. When you don’t stretch and foam roll and treat your body nicely, it will rebel and let you know who’s really running the show. If you work your muscles, reward your muscles. Treat them like good friends, because when they stop working and you can’t do the things you want to do, you will very much regret all the times you took them for granted. R.I.P. to my running career.

6. Being too strict

Orthorexia is a thing. Balance is a way better thing. I became obsessed with reading labels and would only buy specific items from the store because I had compared them to every other brand and found the “best” one. When the store was out of what I needed, I had no idea what to do or buy or eat. Fun fact: Just because light Progresso soups have like 150 calories doesn’t mean they are good for you. I wasn’t doing it right at all but I was obsessed with the way I was doing it. Eat real foods most of the time and processed (but delicious) foods some of the time. Carbs are not the enemy. Neither is fat. Neither is sugar or dairy or gluten. Trying to be perfect and not letting yourself enjoy the meals you eat is the real enemy.

Baseball Workout: Train Like a World Series Champ

It’s officially baseball season! Baseball is my favorite sport because I can actually follow the game, and because who doesn’t like being at the ball park in summer with a beer and a Chicago style hot dog? But preparing for the beer and the helmet nachos and the cotton candy requires hard work. Here’s a baseball inspired workout to get you in the perfect shape to watch the Cubs beat the Dodgers 😉

Batter Up!

Mimic Kris Bryant’s home run swing with a squat and weighted twist.

Start in a squat position (except point your toes forward unlike me. Fitness modeling is hard.)

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Then twist the weight to the side, working your abs, while keeping your feet and knees pointed forward. Twist 10 times on the right and 10 times on the left.

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Catch a Fly Ball

These single arm jump squats will have you catching like Fowler (before he went to the Cardinals… 😡).

Start in a squat position…

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Then jump up with one arm and catch that figurative fly ball! Do 10 reps with the other arm, 20 reps total.

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Pitch a No Hitter

The best pitchers have a strong core and lots of balance. Get in shape with some single leg deadlifts.

Start in a semi accurate pitching position with weights at your shoulders and your knee at (what should be…) a 90 degree angle. Again, fitness modeling is hard. Please ignore my photographer’s shadow as well.

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Next, extend forward and bring your bent leg behind you, keeping your back in a straight line. Do 10 reps on each side.

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Get on Base

The sprint to first base is always the longest. Build your endurance with some back and forth sprints! 4 seconds in one direction and 4 seconds back. Repeat 4 times.

I blame the terrible sprints in the video below on my lack of proper shoes. But you probably know what a good sprint looks like, so just do that.

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Slide Into Home

Practice scoring runs in style with some sit-throughs. Don’t let your booty touch the ground!

Start in this awesome and somewhat awkward position…

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Then cross your right leg under and lift your left arm up.

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Next, go back to the start position and cross your opposite leg over on the other side, lifting your opposite arm. Do 10 reps on each side, 20 reps total.

Field Some Grounders

If you want to get outs like Baez, you’ve got to be quick on your feet and get your glove down. Shuffle squats with a touch will make sure nothing gets passed you. Shuffle for 1 minute without stopping!

Start in a low squat and then shuffle three times to the right

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End with a touch, then shuffle back on the left!

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Repeat this circuit as many times as you want, with 30 seconds of rest in between, then go enjoy America’s favorite pastime and have a beer for me. Go Cubs go!