#TBBPhotoADay / “Breakfast”

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Tropical Shakeology blended with OJ, a splash of unsweetened almond milk, frozen strawberries and ice.

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Losing weight is easy, right?

So what do you think? Is losing weight easy? 

The one conclusion I have from my years of popular research and personal experience is that the science of weight loss is complicated.

On the one hand, you have the calories in/calories out folks who say weight loss is a matter of math. Burn more calories than you take in over a period of time, and you’ll lose weight. On the fingers of the other hand, you have the folks with fringe beliefs. There are the Paleo and Primal folks that follow a diet based on what our ancestors would have eaten thousands of years ago. Lots of animal protein, fats, non-starchy vegetables, a little fruit, some nuts and dairy, and no grains. You’ve got the vegan crowd. Plant-based foods only. No animal products at all. You’ve got the Weight Watchers followers that subscribe to the ever-evolving WW plan which claims to be based on the latest nutritional science. There’s the South Beach and Akin diets which now seem old school in light of the trendier Dukan diet. We can’t forget the French Women Don’t Get Fat hype, nor the Eat Right for Your Type diet based on our blood type.

Is your head spinning yet? 

Over the years, I’ve done the fad diets. I’ve been a Lifetime member of Weight Watchers, and rejoined a handful of times to help lose weight I’ve regained. I’ve done short jaunts on South Beach. I ate a primarily Primal diet for nearly four months last year. I’ve dabbled in mainly vegetarian eating. With all of these, I’ve lost weight. I’ve regained it. Lost it again. And gained it back again. 

Last year, I decided the yo-yo had to stop. I made the decision to focus on building a healthy, strong body through exercise. I committed to training for a few running races, but I didn’t change my diet. I went from a couch potato to running a half marathon in 6 months. And I didn’t lose a single pound.

Here, let me repeat that for you. I.didn’t.lose.a.single.freaking.pound. 

How does that happen? And what does that tell us about effectively losing weight?

Well, I think this happened to me because I sometimes rewarded myself for my workouts with food. I let myself have the cookie because I was going to run that night. I had the Blizzard or sundae over the weekend because, hey, I just ran 7 miles. I didn’t do this every day, but it was enough to stall any weight loss impact my increased activity could have had.

And ultimately, I think this tells us that exercise alone will not get us to an ideal weight. We need the combination of the right foods to fuel our bodies along with the right activities to strengthen and work them.

For me, I’ve had the most success when I view food as fuel. I think first about fueling my body with the nutrition it needs. This means I’m more apt to choose a salad as the base for my lunch rather than a sandwich because I realize my body needs the vitamins in leafy greens more than the carbs in whole-wheat bread. Similarly, I try to make my snacks work for me, nutrition-wise. Crackers don’t do a whole lot nutritionally. But fruit and some peanut or almond butter, that’s providing me vitamins, minerals, healthy fat, fiber and protein. Also this is why I love Shakeology. It packs a ton of nutrition into an easy-to-make shake that I drink daily for breakfast. (Ask me about Shakeology in the comments if you want more info.)

The other thing I’m striving to do is to “eat clean” when possible. There’s no real definition of clean eating out there, so I’ve kind of made my own. For me, eating clean is avoiding packaged, processed foods. It’s shopping the perimeter of the store and focusing on whole foods. 

Don’t be fooled…I’m not perfect by any means. I struggle with this every day. I cheat and get fast food with my kids on the weekend. Sometimes I eat entirely too much dry cereal in the evenings while watching TV. But no one’s perfect. What matters here is that I’ve found a way of thinking about food that is generally working for me, and one that helps me avoid the fad diet mentality, yo-yo weight loss and emotional eating. (Oh yes, my friend emotional eating. You’ve met her, right? When we use food as a reward, like I did when I started running, that is emotional eating at its finest. Craving chocolate when you’ve had a bad day…that’s emotional eating too. Conquering emotional eating deserves its own post, and I have to say, I don’t have all the answers there.) 

It’s not producing mind-shattering weight loss. (So far, just about 10 lbs over several months.) But I feel good. I can tell my body is getting stronger. I am healthier. And that’s what really matters to me.

3 Day Shakeology Cleanse, Day 1

I’ve been struggling with my diet for a while now. I can pinpoint the exact day that it started too. Super Bowl Sunday. [Can I get an amen from anyone else on that one?] I had a great run that day, and then proceeded to gorge myself on all things cheese — nacho cheese, chili cheese, cheese pizza — and a sinful dessert on top of that. My stomach hurt for days afterward.

While I haven’t gone that food-crazy since then, I have found it harder to resist the sweets in the office [Hello, Girl Scout Cookies!], the cookies from the cafeteria, the bacon on my salads, fast food on the weekends, etc.

I need to get my eating back on track, so I decided to try the 3 Day Shakeology Cleanse as a way to cleanse my body from too much processed food and to reset my mind and body to crave healthy food and resist the junk.

The 3 Day Shakeology Cleanse is pretty simple. You drink three Shakeology shakes made with water and ice per day. You drink 2-3 cups of green tea and loads of water throughout the day. And you eat one meal of a large veggie salad with 3-4 ounces of low-fat poultry or fish and oil/vinegar or light salad dressing. You can snack on fruit if needed as well.

I’m done with day 1, and I feel good. I even went for my usual 4 mile run after work with no issues. I’ve not gone to the bathroom any more than usual, I’m not gassy or bloated, I don’t have a headache. I just feel like my usual self.

If you’re curious, here’s what my day looked like. I did modify the cleanse a bit to fit my needs. I added a little fruit to my shakes and drank a little coffee. Since I wanted to keep running during the cleanse, I felt it was important to include the fruit for carbs.

7:30 am: Tropical Shakeology blended with water, half a frozen banana and 3 frozen pineapple chunks.
8:15: Half a cup of coffee with splash of half-n-half. (Ideally, you’d not be having coffee during the cleanse. But let’s be real. I’m a working mom with twin 4 year olds, AND we sprung the clocks forward over the weekend. I.Need.Coffee.)
10:00: Green tea
12:15: Chocolate Shakeology shaken with water and ice.
2:00: 2 clementines
4:00: Apple and green tea
5:30: 4 mile run
6:30: Salad with mixed greens, 1/4 of an orange pepper, 2 ounces of tuna, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and vinegar.
7:30: Tropical Shakeology with water and half a banana.

I’ll be posting updates at the end of each day and at the end of the cleanse. I’m hoping for a renewed focus on feeding my body healthy, nutritious, clean foods.

My Fitness Journey

I was a focused, career-driven woman when I graduated from graduate school in 2005. I put my all into my corporate job, my new marriage and my friendships. In 2004, I joined Weight Watchers and went from 138 lbs down to 120 lbs. My high school and college weight was 130-135 and I’ve always been a coach potato, so this was new territory for me. I was thin and fit! I worked out regularly and was very careful to consume nutritious, healthy foods because that made me feel good. And of course, I looked good too.

Then we decided to start a family after I graduated, and it turned out to be a long, hard struggle. I dealt with infertility and miscarriages over several years. It was a very dark time in my life, and I turned to food for comfort. When I finally got pregnant from IVF at the end of 2006, I was over 140 lbs. My twin pregnancy was difficult with lots of aches and pains early on, then serious health problems, and ultimately a period of bed rest due to preterm labor. I never weighed myself at the end of my pregnancy, but I was 180 lbs a week after they were born.

Once we all came home from the hospital, I was on Coumadin for the blood clots I developed while pregnant, and I tired, overweight and out of shape. Within four to five months, I lost most of the “babies” weight just from being a harried mom to infant twins. But then the scale started to creep back up by the time they were 6 months old. I went back to Weight Watchers, my old standby, and got down to 135 lbs. Then when the twins were 12 months old, I made the decision to quit my job and become a stay at home mom. Being a 24/7 mom to toddler twins, at home with ready access to food and plenty of stress, led me to a cycle of yo-yo dieting. I’d gain 10-15 lbs, then turn back to Weight Watchers, South Beach or some other fad diet to lose it. After a few months, I’d go back to my old habits, gain it back, and then start the cycle over.

When the kids were 3.5 years old, I chose to go back to work full time. It took me some time to get into a groove as a working mom, and the first six to nine months were a struggle. I found myself questioning my decision to go back to work, questioning my family size (should we have another baby?), questioning my career and line of work (should I go back to school to do something else?). Needless to say, it did not feel good to feel so unsettled. I felt like I didn’t know who I was or which way was up.

It was during this time that I started to run. Now, I have never been a runner. I’ve never been athletic at all. But I felt like I needed something positive that I could just throw myself into — body and soul — as a way to quiet my mind from all that doubt and questions.

What appealed to me about running was the challenge to do something I’d never thought I could do. At a time when I was feeling so uncertain of myself, so unsettled about what was ahead and so unsure of how to be me, I decided to challenge my long-held belief that I couldn’t run.

In the spring of 2011, I started off slow, walking with short periods of jogging, never going more than a mile or two total. I’m not going to lie; it felt pretty awful at first, but I kept with it. Within a few weeks, my lungs stopped feeling like they were on fire and I could run for longer stretches.

A few months later, I signed up for a training squad for a local race and set myself a goal to run a 15k three months later. I knew it would be hard, but I also knew I could do it. Running had taught me that I was stronger than I realized and that my mind was in control of my body, not the other way around. I completed that 15k, and a half-marathon a month later, and I felt on top of the world. Amazing.

Over the past year, I’ve experienced first-hand how running and other fitness activities help me manage the stress that comes with a dual-career family and improve my emotional and physical health. And I’ve gotten to know, and fall in love, with myself in the process. I now know that I can achieve my goals if I am willing to do the work required.

From this positive place, I decided to give Team Beachbody a try. The positive energy of everyone I knew associated with Beachbody was contagious. I started with Shakeology and TurboJam in November 2011. I quickly realized why everyone raves about Shakeology — I saw improved digestive health and I felt good giving my body the nutrition it needs for my active, busy, often stressful life. I branched out and tried other Beachbody products like P90X, Results & Recovery drink and Energy & Endurance drink. Everything I tried worked just as intended, was extremely high quality, and I have never regretted a purchase.

Because my life has changed for the better, I want to help others change their lives too. I want to help people discover the strength that lies within themselves to live healther and happier lives. This blog and my Beachbody Coaching is a tool for me to accomplish this goal.