Thursday, December 31, 2015

5 Super Easy Ways to Keep Those Fitness & Nutrition Resolutions!

Everyone makes resolutions. Not everyone is still working out or watching those calories come February. These 5 tips are incredibly easy ways to set yourself up for success!

1. Don't buy the bad stuff.
If it's not in your pantry, it's unlikely you are going to drag your sweatpant-wearing butt to the store to buy something you know is bad for you. (You might, if it was a really bad day, but it's unlikely.) I always have greek yogurt, tomatoes, Velveeta cups, deli meat, and dark chocolate caramel wedges from Trader Joe's. That way, I mostly eat those. If I always had Cheez-it White Cheddar Grooves, I'd always eat those (that sounds heavenly).

2. Make your goals small and attainable.
We've all started off the year saying, "I'm going to go to the gym EVERY DAY!" But when you miss one (or two, or three), you start to feel discouraged. And eventually, you think, "I might as well just give up and eat these brownies, too." Remember, life is going to get in the way! I wake up every day expecting to get to the gym at 4:45 pm. But some days, I'm stuck at work, or I make last-minute Happy Hour plans, or my dad I go to the movies after work. So, even though I'm ready to go to the gym every day, my goal is to make it 4 days a week. Because I know I can almost always do that. And success makes you feel good, which makes you want to keep going, which makes you more successful. See that cycle?

3. Build in activity throughout your day.
Like a lot of people, I sit at a desk for most of my workday. On the phone, on the computer, hunched over. And like a lot of people, I used to think there was no way around that. And really, there isn't, for me. But I found other ways to build in movement and activity throughout my day. At lunch, I've started jogging to and from the restaurant. I park as far away as I can from my gym doors. I do jumping jacks or lunges while watching TV. I do tricep exercises while I wait for the oven to warm. I know I sound like one of those people I used to find so annoying, but there's really always time to fit it in.

4. Find a support system.
This could be your two best girlfriends. It could be your supportive boyfriend. It could be 300 of your Instagram followers who cheer you in your fitness community. But I firmly believe that this is a tough road to head down alone. Especially if you have a lot of weight to lose, or if you have a lot of emotional baggage tied to your fitness, food, and health. There will be hard days and there will be times when you have almost convinced yourself that this whole fitness thing is silly and you should just go back to being "happy". That's when you need that person who will say, "Hold on, you think THAT was you happy? No way, bro. That was you wishing you were invisible and trying to make your feelings disappear." Involving people in your journey will also hold you accountable!

5. Put your money where your goals are.
I mentioned my favorite ways to make money from your fitness journey here, but I want to mention this again as a great way to motivate yourself. I personally use Pact, which is an app that allows you to make a promise that you will hit the gym X amount of times a week and when you do, you make money! When you don't, you lose money, and that's definitely encouraged me to get in those extra steps on a lazy day! 

Hope these super easy tips help you to keep your goals next year! Check back tomorrow to see my 2016 Resolutions!

xo, Katie

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

10 Things I'm Proud Of In 2015

2015 was a really fantastic year for me. I grew and changed so much; I’m literally unrecognizable from the person I was a year ago. But I don’t feel like a new person, instead I feel like a better version of myself. The person I am today is shaped by the person I was last year, and the year before, and all the iterations I’ve experienced. I don’t wish that I wasn’t that person, but rather I’m thankful I’ve found a way to be the best me I can be right now. I’m leaving 2015 with a sense of accomplishment, pride, and awe at what I can do when I believe in myself.

It's just as important to look back at where you've been as it is to look forward to the future!

xo, Katie

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Honeywell Top Fill Cool Moisture Console Humidifier

So, today...Influenster sent me a complimentary Honeywell Top Fill Cool Moisture Humidifier to try out for testing purposes. Which is perfect, since my boyfriend has been coughing like crazy at night and some quick research on humidifiers has lead me to believe this could really help him. This particular model is designed for multiple/large rooms, which is nice since sometimes we like to hang out in different rooms (couples need alone time, too!!). It also has a run-time of up to 24 hours, so you're not constantly refilling the reservoirs.

I can't wait to try it out tonight and report back! And in the meantime...Oliver loves the box!

You can pick one of these up for yourself at Walmart for less than $100, with FREE shipping and FREE in-store pickup!

**And if you've ever wondered what my voice sounds like, here's a shaky video of me unboxing the product!**

Friday, October 2, 2015

If Not Now, Then When?

You know all those things you want to do? Have talked about doing? Wished you could muster the courage to do? Hoped you'd get to do one day?

You should go do them. 

We don't always get the chance to do the things we plan on doing. 
You have a fight with someone and you let it linger. You think, one day, we'll reconnect.

 You put off that dream trip. It's just not the right time.

You want to do something crazy - like get a tattoo, or dye your hair lavender, but you're worried about what people will think.   

You want to start dating again or you know you're not happy in your current relationship. You tell yourself, I don't have space in my life for this stress right now. I'm not ready. 

Life is short. And sometimes we don't get the chance to say the words we want to say. Or do the things we want to do. 

This is really important for those of us are focusing on a healthy lifestyle. "Healthy" doesn't mean restrictive. It doesn't mean always saying no to happy hour or birthday dinners or a glass of wine with your best friend. Including that happiness is such an important part of being healthy, too. 

So, this weekend - make sure you say yes. Make sure you call that old friend and say you're sorry. Make sure you hug your mom and spend the extra 10 minutes snuggling with your furry family. At the end of the day, at the end of your life, that's not what you're going to regret doing. 

xo, Katie

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Why I Break The "Number One Weight Loss Rule"

What is the number one diet/weight loss rule? A quick internet search will yield you tons of results from fitness magazines, diet websites and news aggregates: 

Don't skip breakfast.

But a closer look will show that most of these sites mention "studies", but don't cite their resources and give you any details. These articles claim that skipping breakfast means you eat a bigger lunch and dinner. They also often draw ties between obesity and skipping breakfast. But a recent study shows that this might be a stretch. "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day" has become a cultural cornerstone in the same way that "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" has. But is it based on science? Well, according to a recent paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and detailed further by Huffington Post here, not exactly. The authors determined that the belief (that skipping breakfast leads to obesity) surpassed the strength of the scientific evidence to support it. The bottom line of this paper is that for some people, breakfast is important. And for others, it's not. And that there's a lot of other variables (like income and activity level) that of course, affects a person eating breakfast AND their general "health". 

So, does this mean you SHOULD skip breakfast? Maybe. Which brings us to

Intermittent Fasting
(or IF)

Intermittent Fasting, at its core, is an eating schedule. It's not a diet, per se, because you're not told WHAT to eat, only WHEN to eat. Of course, it's helpful if you make smart decisions on what you're eating, too. There are different Intermittent Fasting schedules, but a common one is Daily - based on a 16 hour fasting window and an 8 hour feeding window (popularized by I play with those time periods slightly, so that they work with my schedule, but the science behind it is based on the following, so it still works.

The science behind Intermittent Fasting:

- You eat.
- Your body digests the food and absorbs the nutrients you gave it. 
- This lasts for 3-5 hours.
- Your insulin levels are very high right now, so you're unlikely to burn fat. 

- It's been 8-12 hours since you last ate.
- Your body is done processing your previous meal. 
- Your insulin levels are low, which means you easily burn fat. 

Think about it: if it takes 12 hours from your last meal to reach a fat-burning state, how often are you there in your normal eating schedule? By using IF, I am putting myself into a low insulin, fat burning state every day, for a few hours.

Note, this is also why I don't snack throughout the day. If you keep pulling your body out of  it's fasted state to process a meal, you're never in an optimal place for fat-burning. Plus, snacking leads to insulin resistance which leads to higher insulin levels which leads to weight gain. Read about it here

Fat burning is a GREAT benefit. But another benefit of IF is that it simplifies my life and makes it easier for me to make good decisions. I've never been successful on a diet because I could never get my head around "You can't eat that." I want to live AND love my life. Don't tell me I can't eat pizza! Or ice cream. Or chocolate. Or wine. Or pasta. Or, you get it. Now, I'm not "on a diet", I'm making it easier to reach my goals!

With the elimination of one meal, I give myself so many more options later in the day. And while I've tried to eliminate emotional eating from my life, I'm a real person! And some days, I REALLY want to have a glass of wine, or a piece of chocolate. And because I set up my day in this fashion, I hardly ever feel like I have to tell myself no. Which == success!

But you don't think you can successfully skip breakfast?

It doesn't make sense to think you can't do something if you've never tried. Sounds simple right? If your best friend was like, "I really want to try to learn guitar" you wouldn't say, "Um, you're 30 and you've never played an instrument, so the chances of you succeeding are pretty low! Love ya!" No. You wouldn't say that. So don't say it to yourself!

When I first thought about skipping breakfast, my thoughts were as follows

"I'm one of those people who needs to eat like the second I get up."
"I'm always hungry right away in the morning!"
"I have low blood sugar!"
"I get headaches if I don't eat every few hours."
"I HATE being hungry."

But had I ever tried to skip breakfast? Nope. I woke up "hungry" and I ate. So, I really had no idea how my body would react. Now, you could jump right in and start skipping breakfast. Or, you could work into it, by lowering your morning calorie intake, and eventually skipping it. You have to figure out what makes sense for you. I decided to try to skip cold turkey, but I had a backup plan in case I got hungry - Muscle Milk Light and hard-boiled eggs. They were easy to bring to work (where I eat breakfast) and would fix any hunger pains relatively quickly. 

In my first week of starting IF, I drank the Muscle Milk twice, but the second time, I acknowledged it might have been more out of a need to eat something and not actual hunger. I never had any headaches or low blood sugar symptoms. By the second week, it was totally normal for me to skip breakfast M-F. I don't get "hungry" until about lunchtime. I drink TONS of water in the morning (and occasionally have a Diet Coke), and I firmly believe that the majority of my "hunger" before was thirst and boredom.

Which brings us to another benefit of IF: learning to manage hunger. And really learning what "hungry" feels like. We are so lucky, to eat all the time, really. We constantly feed our kids, teaching them (and ourselves) that we need snacks. We even give snacks to our pets! By changing my eating schedule, I really understand what it's like to feel hungry. If I don't get to eat lunch until 2:30, yeah I'm ravenous. And that feels REALLY different from what I used to associate with "hunger." And when I get home from the gym, I've essentially utilized that lunch as fuel, and I'm hungry again. But in the mornings, I never feel hungry unless I decide to get a lot of exercise in the morning (not my norm). Mostly, I'm really thirsty in the morning - which makes sense - I've had all night to get dehydrated, but I didn't really burn a ton of calories that would make me hungry. 

I wake up at 7, am at work by 8, and eat lunch between 12-2 on weekdays. I work until 4-5, and then workout (45-60 minutes cardio, plus 15-30 minutes weights) until 6:30 most days. I eat dinner between 7-9 and go to sleep between 10-12. This gives me 15-18 hours of fasting and a 6-9 hour feeding window.

If you still think you can't do it, just think about how you probably already have. Have you ever slept in late on a weekend and then gone to brunch? Chances are you last ate prior to 8pm the night before, and maybe didn't get to brunch until about noon the following day? That's 16 hours of fasting right there. See? You didn't die!

**I heavily utilized this website, this website, and this website when I was learning about Intermittent Fasting. **

HUGE Disclaimer: Skipping breakfast is what has worked for me. Please do your research and LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. I am a healthy, adult, female with no medical conditions that might cause problems here. I am not pregnant or breastfeeding. If you have any medical conditions that may mean Intermittent Fasting isn't for you, please check with your doctor first!

xo, Katie

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Healthy Fast Food Options Under 500 Calorie & Tips On How To Make Healthier Choices!

In the past, when I've tried to lose weight, I've had a laundry list of excuses for why it's not going to work. They all seemed insurmountable on their own; so combined, it felt doomed before I even started. 

What has been different (and so important this time), is that I've learned it's important to plan ahead. You can't get to a restaurant (starving), and automatically make good choices. I mean, you can, but it's hard. And you're more likely to succeed when you, you know, set yourself up for success. 

So, I created some tools to make healthy decision making easier and I figured I should share it with you. Because I'm a nice person, you know? :)

If you're hitting up a restaurant I don't have listed here (or you don't like my choices *gasp*), here are some tips to cut down the calories on any fast food item. 

I hope you use these tips and meal ideas next time you're looking for a way to make smart choices in a world that just wants you to eat all the foods, all the time.

And if you have any other fast food options, I should add to my list, please comment with them below!

Please note this is NOT a comprehensive list by any means. I gathered these numbers from the websites of their respective companies, so they're as accurate as they can be as the time of publication. 

xo, Katie 

Monday, August 10, 2015

How To Make Money From Your Weight Loss (And What To Spend It On!)

See that jar up there? That's my "too-big-clothes" jar. It lives in my kitchen (ironically, next to a big, dusty pasta cookbook). Every few days, I shove a few more bucks in it and one day, I'll treat myself to something pretty.

How did I fill this jar? Pretty simply!

Sell Your Clothes That No Longer Fit!

Every time I went down a size (or put on pants that I could promptly pull right over my bum), I set them in the "too-big" pile. Whenever my pile got unwieldy, I sold them online! Now, there are tons of ways you can do this and I've probably used them all. 

1. Ebay: This is best for items that are brand-new and still have tags on them, and where you're willing to post them for a low price.

2.  Poshmark, Threadflip, Vinted - these are best for nicer items (think a step above Forever 21 or Old Navy), where you think you can get a higher price (since they usually charge about 20% handling).

3.  Facebook local sale groups - this has been the best method for me. Most cities (large and small) have Facebook groups like these, where people post items for usually very discounted prices, and you can pick up locally. Buyers and sellers save money on shipping and sellers can accept cash in the mailbox or PayPal. Usually, you have to be invited to the group by someone you know in real life, and many people meet at coffee shops or parking lots so they don't have to give out their addresses. 

Use Apps that Reward You For Getting Your Workout On!

There are tons of apps (and websites) that want to help you be successful in your fitness journey. And what better motivation is there than money!?

4. Pact: this app allows you to make a promise that you will hit the gym X amount of times a week and when you do, you make money! When you don't, you lose money, but if you're already hitting the gym a few days a week (or if you want to motivate yourself to get an extra day in there), then this is a no-brainer! For working out 5 days a week, I make $1.05 a week.

5. FitStudio: this website links most devices and apps (Fitbit, UP, Nike+, MyFitnessPal, etc) to your Shop Your Way Rewards account (Sears and Kmart). The more you workout, the more points you accrue. They automatically add to your SYWR account, allowing you to redeem them for discounts and FREE workout clothes (or at least, that's what I'm buying). 

6. EveryMove: this app links with your fitness trackers and gives you points for being active. Those points can be redeemed for rewards that you choose ahead of time and work towards. The rewards range from charity donations to coupons and gift certificates.

Then Decide What You Want To Spend It On!

Once you've got a good chunk of money (I've made over $300 in about 4 months!), you can try to decide what you want to spend it on. I have a few ideas...

If you want to re-invest that money into your workouts and keep the cycle going:
Nike Air Relentless 4 in Cool Grey/Hyper Turquoise
ClassPass Subscription (photo via)
A Fun Workout Tank - Humble With A Hint Of Kanye

If you want to reward yourself with a job well done:
Fossil Curiosity Watch
A Gorgeous Manicure
Oval Sterling Silver Ring

If you want to give yourself something to look forward to:
Take A Trip! See that gorgeous bridge in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, climb the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica, or visit beautiful mosques in Istanbul, Turkey
Get A New Tattoo - This anchor is my new obsession
Buy A Dress For An Upcoming Occasion In A Smaller Size - Looking at this Oasap dress everyday would be very motivating!

Do you have any other ideas on ways to make money from your weight loss?

xo, Katie