Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ketchup & Mustard

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Hi! It's almost Friday! That deserves exclamation points!

Anyway, linking up with Lex, Ashlee, and KTJ for this week's NSVs. There are three:

1) I ran 12 miles on Saturday and it was awesome. Well, as awesome as running for the entire duration of a full-length movie can be, but still. 

2) I bought some awesome red/burgundy pants at Target last weekend in a 12. I've been hoping to get into a 10 lately, but WHATEVER, I thought the 12 fit fine. Brought those bad boys home and wore them yesterday. By late morning they were so stretched out I had to hike 'em up as high as they'd go just to keep them from looking lumpy. Guess mama's going back to get the 10!

Disregard my Ketchup/Mustard color combo.
I realize it's a normal color combination, but for
some reason I can't help thinking ketchup/mustard.
3) Yesterday one of my new coworkers complimented me on my Katniss hair:


And then I felt like this:



What NSVs are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Six Things + Briefly Weighin' In

Briefly, a weigh-in:


Weigh In Wedneday

Previous Weight: 173.0 
Current Weight: 173.6
Change: +.6
Total Loss: 54.4

I mean, it is what it is? After reading numerous blog posts and talking to the lovely Karri @ Babe Before Baby, I fully expect my weight loss to plateau in the next two weeks. And you know what? I'm okay with that. Properly fueling >>> weight loss if I want to be at peak performance on race day.

And more importantly, I had a "I feel awesome" body day the other day. <Shameless selfie alert> Hayyyyy:
PS I'm on Instagram (duh)
Afterwards, though, back to the grind! I already found a gym in Chicago that offers a free week of fitness classes for new members. I know I'm definitely going to need to mix it up with something other than running post-half. More on that to come.

Onward!

One of my favorite blog ladiez is the hilarious Kay from Kay's Best Intentions. She's a fellow midwesterner navigating the weird waters of young adulthood, and obviously I can completely relate. Kay tagged me a few weeks back in a "Six Things You Should Know About Me" post, so, much belated, here are my answers:


1. What's the best piece of advice anyone has given you?
My dad taught me that no job is worth sacrificing family/personal time. He's one of the hardest-working people I know, but he's always made time for the things that really matter to him. 
My 'rents. AREN'T THEY THE CUTEST?!
2. Blogs you're loving right now? Piggy-backing off Kay's answer here, but I can't get enough of Forty Days of Dating! It's about two friends in NYC who decided to date each other for forty days, just to see what would happen. There's a lot of ups and downs, and they're so close to the end, I can't wait to see what happens!



3. What's your biggest struggle in life? I haven't talked about this on the blog before, but I actually struggle with depression and anxiety. I was first diagnosed in the fall of my senior year of college, when I think a number of factors/life events just stacked up and really stretched me beyond my limits. I've typically dealt with stress really well, but this was completely different. No matter what I did, I just felt like I was followed by this black cloud that made me want to completely withdraw from everything/everyone and just watch TV and sleep all the time. Also, the depression prompted frequent anxiety attacks that were mentally draining and made me withdraw even more. I was so far from being my normal self, but I had no idea how to fix it. 

Long story short, I got things under control and finished my senior year out in a much better place than when I started. I can still sometimes feel the symptoms creeping back in every once in awhile when I'm starting to get over-stressed (tiredness, withdrawing socially, etc.), but I've become much better at recognizing when I'm going in the wrong direction and making adjustments before things get out of control. 

College graduation day with my
best friend from high school! (oh, and
about 40lbs heavier than I am now)
4. How did your blog come about? I've been a blogosphere lurker for years (years!). I'd always wanted my own blog, but never had an idea for a blog that I could actually stick with. Now, I know that being Fitnasty for Life is truly important to me, and something where every day gives me something new to write about. Every day is a journey, but I love being part of such a supportive group of bloggers all working toward the same goal: healthiness.

5. Name one good deed you did that went unseen. I found $100 on the ground in a restaurant and turned it in to a manager. I learned shortly after that it had fallen out of one of the server's books. I can't speak for that restaurant, but as a former server that $$ would've come out of my pocket if I had lost it!

6. Tell us something we don't know about you. I have two claims to fame: I was the 3rd place Lincoln Douglas debater in the country as a junior in high school (hashtag nerd alert!). Also, I once won free Bears tickets at trivia for correctly guessing the exact number of rooms in Buckingham Palace. Hint: it's 775. 

Debate nerd fo life.
I'm passing on the six questions torch to these lovely ladies:
  1. Kate @ Widgeon Nest
  2. Ashlee @ Iseminger Chronicles
  3. Faith @ 'Cause You Gotta Have Faith
  4. Tiff @ The Fit Train
  5. K Wats @ My Life and Other Such Disasters
  6. Shannon @ Tatlock's Truth
And the questions:
  1. If you could eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
  2. What's your greatest accomplishment?
  3. Who inspires you?
  4. Who is/are your blog crush[es]?
  5. What's one thing on your bucket list?
  6. What's something we don't know about you?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Weekly Goals Linkup!

First, a quick recap: I had my 12-mile long run this weekend and it was awesome!




My last two long runs (10 and 11 miles) have definitely been mental/physical challenges, and I was fully expecting this week to be the same. I mentioned on the OSJ Fit Camp discussion board this week that I've felt like I'm hitting the wall in my training. Robin suggested I change up my route (I'm a creature of habit and do the same route every. freaking. time... and usually listen to the same playlist too). So I changed up my route, got a great night of sleep, and woke up at 6am ready to kick ass and take names. It went so well! Mentally and physically I felt great, I barely walked at all, and I had enough energy in the tank for another mile at the end. 

Half Marathon training has definitely been filled with ups and downs, but having this 12-miler under my belt is proof that I'm ready to tackle 13.1. This was my last long run before the race, and I'm hopeful that I'll be ready to kill it come race day :)

Now, as I mentioned last week, I'm super excited to be taking over Jess' weekly goals linkup, along with the help of hot momma Amy from Diary of a Fat Mommy!







If you're new around here, the weekly goals linkup is a way for us to start the week with a fresh set of goals that will keep us focused and on track. The goals can be whatever you want! They can be big or small, food and fitness-related or not. My only advice is to make goals that are measurable and attainable by the end of the week!

Feel free to link up here or on Amy's blog, and check out and comment on the other blogs in the linkup, too!

Without further ado...

1) Strength training 2-3 times. Yeah, unforch I made this goal a few weeks ago and completely blew it. I need to get my booty in gear and work on strength training! Even if it's just for 20 minutes while watching TV, this needs to happen. I'm planning on starting this squat challenge today, too.

2) Focus on hydration. Hydration makes a huge difference in my running, and I know it makes a difference in my eating habits and overall healthiness. With my half marathon officially coming up in less than two weeks (EEEEEK!), I want to make hydration a priority now, instead of just waiting until the days before the race.

3) Breakfast. Since starting the new job, I've been skipping breakfast at least 2x a week. When I'm burning 500+ calories a day on my short runs (and 1400+ on my weekend long run), there's no excuse for skipping breakfast. My body needs the fuel if I want to keep challenging my performance.

What are your goals for the week?




Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Weighin' In

Weigh In Wedneday


I start every Monday with very few after-work plans throughout the week. I'm always optimistic I might finally catch up on my life and—GASP—perhaps even have 5 minutes of free time. 

I kid you not, by the time I left work on Monday night, I had something to do after work every evening this week. Some days more than one thing. Not kidding:

Monday: Celebratory Dinner (my friend just got a job in NYC)
Tuesday: College Roommate Catchup + Trivia (bailed on trivia)
Wednesday: Cubs Game with work
Thursday: Housewarming + Date (oh yeah, I said date. That's another post entirely)
Friday: Freelance Job + Prep for 12-miler

So, all this to say, I've been a bad blogger because life has been chaotic! I try to be optimistic that life will slow down soon, but let's be real. Nothing's going to slow down, I just hope to have to get better at balancing things :)

Speaking of balancing things, here's the NEWS I alluded to yesterday: I'm excited to announce that the wonderful Jess, from Operation Skinny Jeans, is passing on the torch for her Weekly Goals Linkup to Amy from Diary of a Fat Mommy and... yours truly!! I've loved using her linkup to set my week up for accountability and healthy habits, so I'm very excited to take over the linkup with Amy.

With that, here's this week's weigh-in:

Previous Weight: 173.4 
Current Weight: 173.0
Change: -.4
Total Loss: 55



Yeah, my feet look busted. That's what happens when you run 5x a week. Seriously, I think the thing I'm most looking forward to post- half marathon is getting a pedicure! Sorry in advance to whoever has to groom these bad boys.

Anyway, a small loss, but a loss nonetheless. I promised myself a new jean jacket when I hit 55lbs lost, so you know I'll be hitting up Gap this weekend.

How did your weigh-in Wednesday go?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

News, News

Stopping in quickly to let you know that I will have some exciting news to share in the very near future!

Hope everyone is having a great week so far! More to come :)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cookie Butter and NSVs

First of all, thank you for all of your sweet sweet words yesterday! This community truly keeps me motivated and reminds me to celebrate how far I've come, even when I'm having a bad day.

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Secondly, checking in realllly quick with KTJ, Ashlee and Lex for this week's NSV linkup! Here are the NSVs I've been celebrating lately:

1) I was able to jump back into my Half Marathon training program post-vacation, without too many problems. I think my endurance definitely took a little hit after a full week off (and lots of unhealthy eating and drinking), but I'm focusing on the fact that—despite it being a little more difficult—I've gotten back into it!

2) Today I'm wearing a skirt I haven't fit into since high school! I bought it early in my sophomore year and probably haven't worn it since my junior year (2005?!), but I've been carting it along with me through the years in hopes that one day it'd fit again. Guess what? It's a 12 and borderline too big. Hell to the yeah.

3) Today started with a PR-ed 4-miler (39:07!) followed by Oats in a Jar, Cookie Butter Edition. YOU GUYS, I CAN'T EVEN. JUST MAKE THIS. I used a pre-made oatmeal mix (Quaker's Raisin, Date & Walnut) + about a teaspoon of cookie butter left in the jar. 5PP of absolute perfection. 


What NSV's are you celebrating today?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

New Lows.

Weigh In Wedneday

Previous Weight: 177.6 
Current Weight: 173.4
Change: -4.2
Total Loss: 54.6

HAPPY WEDNESDAY. I'm relieved/excited/thrilled to report that—despite my best efforts on vacation to sabotage my own weight loss—I've reached a new low. Low weight, that is. Yeehaw!

Disclaimer: This is by no means an average weekly weight loss for me, but I was COMPLETELY healthy while doing so. I consistently ate 1200+ calories a day, and worked out four times. This is not a normal number to lose on a weekly basis, nor to I advocate trying to lose more than 2lbs a week. Seacrest out.

Last week's focus was to focus on the cleanup: cleaning up my workout regimen, cleaning up my diet, cleaning up my alcohol intake (which, in Ireland, was basically daily)... and it worked! I missed Sunday's scheduled 4-miler, but otherwise, the week was a homerun. Perhaps I just needed a crazy week of non-stop eating to bust through the small plateau I was dealing with pre-vacation.

In less exciting news, I'm reallllllly trying not to stress about finding balance with the new job. I'm ecstatic about the new job. I love it. It's exactly what I want to be doing. I'm grateful to be employed again, especially in such a great position.

BUT without sounding like an extremely whiney baby... I spent the last 6 weeks essentially focusing on little more than writing cover letters and running whenever I damn well pleased. Now that I'm in the final weeks of my half marathon training (T-25 days!), I can't lessen my focus on the race, so I'm trying to find that delicate balance between work, health, and personal time.  And blog time. Oh, and occasionally trying to have a social life. (HAH!)

I've dealt with stress issues in the past, and—historically—the sleeping issues I'm currently experiencing are a first sign that my body (mentally, physically) is going through an adjustment. So, I'm in the process of getting my annual wellness appointment on the books, and really just focusing on me.

Anyway, to end on a lighter note, I can't fully express how grateful I am for the support of the weight loss community. You are all awesome, and I'm inspired and motivated by so many bloggers on a daily basis. And for anyone who visits my little corner in blogland, thank you!

PS- If I don't reply to your comment via e-mail, it's probably because you're a no-reply blogger. Here's how to fix that.

How did your weigh-in go this week?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Clean Slate

Last week was a crazy week! But in a desperate attempt to adjust back to life as a working girl, I put on my big girl panties and cleaned my room this weekend. Clean room, clean slate.

So, after Ireland, I spend last week trying to detox, and it worked! I actually weighed in this morning around 175, so I'm hoping I'll be back to my pre-vacation weight for this week's weigh-in.

Before I jump into this week's goals, I thought I'd recap this weekend's epic 10-miler for Motivation Monday!

Daily Dose of Del Signore

To say my 10-miler yesterday was rough would be an understatement. I tried to mentally pump myself up before the run, but I was just feeling off. I've really been struggling with my sleeping lately (I'll wake up multiple times through the night), so I snoozed my alarm at 6 and didn't end up starting until 9am. It wasn't too hot, but the sun was beating down more than if I had just run at 7am like I wanted to.

After the stomach rumbles I experienced on my 8-miler, I thought I'd try eating something pre-run, so I ate a banana and 3 Shot Bloks about 30 minutes before I left. It sat like a rock in my stomach for the first 30 minutes, and before I even hit the 2-mile mark, I was really questioning whether or not I could complete the run. I pushed through and started to hit my stride around mile 4, when I was finally able to push the negative thoughts out of my head. However, I was pretty freakin' annoyed that RunKeeper skipped about a half mile ahead, so all my pace calculations were off.


Miles 4-8 weren't too bad, though I did stop in a Mickey D's quick for a pee-break. But then I really started to hit a wall. There was a point around mile 8 where I just had to pause RunKeeper and stand on the sidewalk for a few minutes. I wasn't sure if I was going to puke, poop, or pass out, but I just felt a wave of woof. After some deep breaths and a few deep knee bends, the feeling passed and I got my ass in gear for the last push. 



I did have to take two short walk breaks, but I did the damn thing! It's insane to me that 9 months ago, I could barely run half a mile without stopping. And yesterday I ran for almost two full hours. Ten entire miles! And check out that activity point burn-- 23 APs! Suffice to say I housed a Subway footlong when I finally regained my appetite a few hours after running.

A few other scattered thoughts:

  • After I got home and sat down, I legitimately feared that I wouldn't be able to stand up again.
  • My muscles are definitely a little sore, but my feet were hurting when I got home. 
  • I got a blister on my finger from carrying a water bottle. 
  • I'm thinking/hoping my slower pace is a result of taking the week off, not from the distance alone. All of my long runs up to this point were at a 10:15-10:30 pace. 
  • I need a better way of carrying fuel. The butt pocket on my leggings isn't that easy to access on the move. Any fuel belt recos?
Onward and upward, I've got an 11-miler on tap for this week, and look out for a post about my half marathon goal soon :)


As for this week's goals...

Operation Skinny Jeans

Last week the plan was to drink a lot of water, get in all my scheduled runs, and get back to healthy eating. And I did pretty well! Nailed all my runs except Sunday's 4-miler (whoops), and definitely reigned in my eating back to normal.

Here's what I'm working on this week:

1) Strength Training at least 2-3 times. I've been slacking on the strength front, because running alone has done really good things for my legs. But my guns still need some serious toning! 

2) Get back on a regular sleep schedule. I'm a night owl by nature, but I need to get back on a regular sleep schedule so I'm not snoozing through my morning runs. I've just realllllly been struggling with sleep lately, so I'm open to any suggestions!

What goals are you working on this week?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Mind Games

They say running is 90% mental. Most things are. Which is a great saying for motivational t-shirts and Pinterest pins, but when it comes to the real world, I need practical examples to believe this type of mumbo jumbo.

Well, I got the full experience yesterday. And I'm a believer.

For starters, some fool (spoiler alert: it's me) is having a hard time acclimating to a working girl schedule, which means I snoozed the alarm about 2 times too many yesterday morning. Which meant no 6-miler before work. Which meant having to do it after work. Blehhh.

I had run two 4-milers since returning from vacation, and neither of them were pretty. My pace was surprisingly decent, given that I had taken off a week of training, but they didn't feel as "easy" as my 4-milers felt pre-vacation. I even walked during one of them (which I hadn't done in weeks). And I use the term "easy" loosely, because I huff and puff and have struggle moments on nearly every run. Anyway, the difficulty of those 4-milers had me doubting my ability to run 6 miles without dying or taking walk breaks.

So, yesterday at work was non-stop busy. And I was mad at myself for snoozing because I just wanted to get the run over with. But around mid-day, I realized that all was not lost just because I didn't run in the morning. That I still had the change to have a healthy lunch and drink my water and I could kick my 6-miler's ass as soon as I got home. And the whole train ride home, I just mentally pumped myself up about pounding the pavement for an hour, to prove to myself that I could.

And I did.


Don't get me wrong, there were definitely a few points where I contemplated walking. But otherwise, I felt damn good, and I'm convinced it's because before the run I told myself that it'd feel damn good. That I needed this long run both for my training, and to just leave it all on the pavement. And whaddya know? I did 6.2 miles in just 8 seconds off of my PR time.

This week has certainly been chaotic, but the mind is a powerful thing. And I fully plan on Jedi-mind-tricking myself into having a great 10-miler tomorrow.

How do you fight the running mind games?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Fresh Start

Weigh In Wedneday

Previous Weight: 174 
Current Weight: 177.6
Change: +3.6
Total Loss: 50.4

So, yep, this is the vacation damage. Though, to be fair, I was weighing in at 175 the day I left, so the gain is probably closer to 2.5lbs.

My thoughts? Well, honestly, I'm surprised it wasn't more. What I ate was absolute crap. I was eating on a weird schedule, which sometimes meant missing meals, but what I did eat was pretty unhealthy. We're talking french fries almost every day, bread (with butter!!!) at every meal, fried foods, sausage, baguettes, egg salad, bacon, candy, etc. It's weird because at home, I never eat butter (except maybe on a piece of bread at a restaurant), and I couldn't even tell you the last time I bought candy here. But in Ireland, I ate both of those daily!

Oh, and the day I got home I weighed myself out of morbid curiosity and saw 187 on the scale. YIKES. Granted, I had just eaten literally 2lbs of mexican food (it was my "last supper" of unhealthy eating), but that was a scary moment.

Anyway, I'm excited to get back on plan! I went on a huge grocery shopping run last night and will be making delicious eats all week :)


Speaking of fresh starts, I have a little news I've been holding back since the day I left for Ireland: I have a new job! I'm starting as a freelance social media strategist at an awesome marketing agency downtown, and today is my first day (hence the "first day of school" picture above). Wish me luck!

How did your weigh-in go this week?

Monday, August 5, 2013

I'm Baaaaaaaaaaaack

I've returned from Ireland after an amazing week filled with lots of this:


Me, Sam, and Deirdre (Sam's mom) at the top of
Dun Aonghasa in the Aran Islands

Cliffs of Moher
A whole lotta this:

Why yes, that fish fillet is larger than the plate.

Oh, and of course a little bit of this:

Last night in Ireland!

I spent the week with my best friend Sam and her family, who went to Ireland to visit Nana (Sam's Irish grandmother) for her 80th birthday. After throwing a giant birthday shindig on the night we arrived, we spent two days in Dublin, and then set off to adventure around Ireland. We spent time in Galway, the Aran Islands, and Donegal, with plenty of good craic (Irish for good fun) along the way.

Now, I knew this going in: eating and traveling do not go together unless you do some VERY careful planning. Being in a foreign country, and at the mercy of a lot of travel plans meant that I pretty much just ate whatever, whenever. And that included irish breakfasts (2 eggs, toast with butter, black pudding, white pudding, sausage, rashers, and grilled tomatoes), fish and chips, sandwiches, etc. etc. etc. Basically, fruits and veggies were not easy to come by, and I was definitely feeling it!

That, and my half marathon training was basically a rest week. I got in one run on our first full day in Dublin, but otherwise our late nights/early busses/early plans made it near impossible to work out. 

With that, I bring you:

Operation Skinny Jeans

Time to get back to accountability with Jess' weekly goals linkup!

My mission is simple: detox and back to training! 

1) Get in all scheduled runs. Last week I was supposed to have a 9-miler on the books (didn't do it because of Ireland), which means this week's long run is 10. I've felt pretty good on my last few long runs, so I'm just going to push forward with this week's workouts as scheduled. This means I've gotta get through a three 4-milers, a 6-miler, and a 10-miler this week.

2) Water. Is drinking water all the time really so American? In some ways we're spoiled here to always get water on the side at restaurants-- something that doesn't happen in Ireland! I struggled to stay hydrated in Ireland, so I'm shooting for at least 100oz a day this week.

3) Good eats. I didn't track at all last week, so it's back to basics with my WW and MFP tracking. I've got some exciting things happening this week (more on that soon!), so I'm keeping this simple and going back to the tactics that helped me lose the first 50lbs: stocking my kitchen with healthy foods, making good choices, and sticking to the plan.

What are your goals this week? 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Guest Post from Gwen @ Sky n Surf


Happy Friday!! Kick off your weekend with this awesome guest post by Gwen, who's a sassy 61-year old taking the reigns and dropping those pounds! Gwen blogs over at Sky n Surf. She's got some great tips and tricks that will help you take baby steps toward cleaning up your diet. Check it out:

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Hi everyone! Very excited to be able to guest post for Carolyn while she’s on her amazing vacation!

For those who don’t know me, I’m 61, and went ‘primal’ in early February of this year.  So far, in 2013, I’ve lost 51 pounds!  Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t teach an old dawgette new tricks!  And I’ve never felt better, or more in control of my life.  And I’m a control freak, so that’s important.  Why I spent so many years not being in control of my weight and consequently my health….well, I’d say it was anyone’s guess why, but that isn’t true.  I know why.  It’s because of the precise brain chemistry changes that are caused by wheat, most grains, sugar, processed food.  We are programmed to crave by the food industries, and crave indeed we do. 

Going primal is getting rid of grains, sugars, processed foods.  (dairy is okay.)  Marks Daily Apple is a great resource for more information on that.  Anyhow, here’s a post of Mark’s that gives you concrete ways to slowly step into primal living.  Trust me, thousands have, and thousands are feeling better than they ever have before.  I dare you to give it two weeks!  That’s all I ask!


Here is a post on baby-stepping into a 'primal lifestyle', breaking down the transition into small and very manageable steps.  It might come in handy for anyone considering the change to living 'primal.', or even those of us newly on the path who probably need to fine-tune or even increase our 'primal' opportunities.  Kick back and get brainstorming for your next baby step!



Re-make a meal
Not that a single meal doesn’t count for something, but we actually mean a meal category (or maybe snack) each day. Maybe you want to tackle your least Primal serving of the day first (if you’re still stuck in a carb rut at breakfast, say). On the other hand, perhaps you’re more inclined to take on the simplest meal and work your way up. (Morning snack first? Meat and salad for dinner?) Setting a consistent pattern for a meal each day not only gets you on a solid track; it offers the mental boost of daily accomplishment. Furthermore, it can serve as a template for tackling further food overhauls. Remaking one meal a day gets you in the mode of delving into Primal variety, trying new recipes and eating for health rather than habit.

Drop or swap a vice
Perhaps there’s a particular offender, a persevering and pesky element of your diet that will take special time and energy to ditch. We’re not talking here about an occasional indulgence item but a regular player in the lineup. Whether it’s your favorite creamy stout, morning danish or afternoon microwave popcorn fix, you might find it easier to isolate and conquer before expanding the battle. Some readers have shared stories of choosing “better” but not totally Primal alternatives for their old favorites first and then going back to phase out these “lesser evils” once they had the rest of diet more fully Primalized.

Give up a grain at a time
Those vexing little granules that litter the dinner plates of unsuspecting diners everywhere… We’re only half kidding of course. (You know our shtick on this subject.) Sure, not all grains are created equal. Some, like brown rice, don’t seem to do quite the same number on the intestines as others. Yet, at the end of the day they’re still the same insulin and inflammation inciters. As we’ve said time and again, they add little to a healthy diet and generally fill the space of more nutritious fare. Tick them off the list based on preference or prevalence in your diet. Or work your way through the grain chain with more of a mind to gluten, bidding adieu to wheat and its various derivatives first, then continuing onward through the inventory.

Sample a new vegetable (or other Primal ingredient) each week
Out with the old, in with the new as they say. Your Primal conversion shouldn’t be a story of the incredibly shrinking menu. Take a hint from those middle school food science/home ec journals and explore a veggie a week. Remember the color illustrations, origin histories and recipe lists? Of course, adding more than one new item a week is ideal (especially with the best of summer’s bounty). And there’s nothing wrong with mixing it up either with other new-to-you Primal fare like almond butter or less appreciated cuts of meat. Don’t worry if you have to do some less than ideal adaptations at first like hiding the new item in the midst of other ingredients or incorporating favorite dips or sauces. The idea here is to add, not limit. Your taste buds will adapt with time, and you’ll find yourself with less need for the camouflage or accompaniment strategies.

Ditch the deadbeat drinks
Now more than ever Americans get an enormous amount of their calories and sugar from drinks, an easily overlooked food category. (Too many people delude themselves into thinking liquids somehow don’t count!) With the likes of mega sodas, energy drinks, syrup loaded coffee beverages and alcohol, it’s not hard at all to drink your dinner: carbs and calories through the roof, nutrients generally nonexistent. Nixing deadbeat drinks and replacing them with watertea (and a single cup of regular joe for a morning pick-me-up) can mean a major difference in your carb count for the day, not to mention your insulin response and “real” (as opposed to jacked-up) energy level.

Change one workout a week
Whether you’re stuck in the chronic cardio circuit, the heavy lifting mode or a plateau of the same low level activity, consider mixing things up. Exercise outside your comfort zone by venturing into a different part of the gym (yoga studio, free weights?), hitting a different venue (the trails, the pool?) or just slowing it down (you cardio addicts out there). Get up the gumption to try one of Mark’s sprints, join a casual sports league or let your hair down and initiate a game of flag football or Ultimate (Frisbee) with the family.

Add a workout a week
A logical permutation of the previous tip of course… If your situation isn’t characterized so much by too much cardio or an imbalance of lifting and low level activity, you might be looking at the need for simply adding workouts period. (No worries here: everyone starts somewhere.) The idea might be to just get moving. Low level workouts are generally easiest to incorporate. We’d definitely recommend trying to add more than one a week if you find yourself in this boat. If you’re already exercising a few times a week but know you’re capable of or ready for more, throw in a weight training or sprint session. Even adding an additional day of low level work can make a difference and can help up your game later with the time you’ve  learned to set aside.

Start a supplement
Mark has said unequivocally that no supplement can be a stand in for a truly healthy diet and lifestyle. That said, a quality supplement can kick-start and continually enhance the biochemical balance that characterizes good health. As you begin your own efforts in the realms of exercise and nutrition, why not give yourself a leg up? Another benefit? A supplement can help mitigate the disadvantages of less than fully Primal living as you make your transition.

Make the mental – and logistical – commitment
Of course we all have a million excuses for not getting Primal even though we know it makes sense. We care about our health. We want to eat right and be in good shape. Right? But there are all those hours of low level cardio, the sweaty sprints and all that vegetable cutting…. Hmmm. How can I possibly fit in anything extra right now? Living Primally doesn’t require more time than any other active lifestyle. When you consider the lack of chronic cardio prescriptions and the short investments of sprints and targeted weight training sessions, you’ll likely be looking at less time expenditure. As for food, food shopping is generally food shopping. (And if you do the CSA/cowpooling/etc., it’s actually less weekly outlay of time.) Cutting, chopping and cooking might add a few extra minutes, but they’re well worth the extra energy healthy food will give you. Get more done in less time and sleep better when your head hits the pillow.

There are few moments in our lives when we can truly say we don’t have the time to take care of ourselves. The weeks following a death or serious illness of a loved one, the birth of a child maybe. Even in the most difficult times, however, we can make progress even as we give up the ideal of perfection (who ever said anything about being perfect anyway?).

In other busy but regular circumstances, we are able to consider what we want to bring into our lives (e.g. healthy living) and earnestly examine what we’re willing to give up to achieve this. T.V.? Wii? Getting through the whole newspaper in the morning? Ditching the car commute for a daily walk to the bus or a bike ride? Relocating nightly discussions to the kitchen while you put together lunch for the next day? Making family outings or time with the kids more active? It’s generally not an issue of giving up valuable activities or interactions in our lives but instead a challenge/opportunity to remake them into equally fulfilling and life balancing Primal adaptations.

Develop a personal Primal diversion

By all means, remake everyday responsibilities into time-saving Primal activities, but also find a bit of time and energy to initiate something new for yourself. Figure out what will “feed” your spirit in a necessary and vital way. For some it might be a meditation practice. For others it might be a new commitment to play – the enjoyment of a favorite sport or a relaxing, rejuvenating activity that fulfills a need for space, solitude or nature. Whatever your Primal diversion of choice is, enjoy it as a gift to yourself. Use it to recenter and rediscover self-care. The small bit of investment/indulgence will make the rest of your Primal commitment come more naturally. When you believe your overall well-being is worth the time and effort, you’re ready to embrace the steps toward Primal vitality.

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Have a great day, and stay focused on your goals!