Mind Your Sugar This Holiday; You’ll Be Glad You Did

December is the time of year when we splurge on delightful deserts a little more than usual. We attend office parties, end-of-year celebrations, family dinners, and banquets. These celebratory events besiege us with sugar-coated treats that have you feeling like a kid in a candy store. But you know what? If the holiday sugar feast isn’t your norm, then it is okay to indulge a little.

This post is not about encouraging you to avoid your holiday favorites. I only want to inspire you to remain mindful while you enjoy the holiday season. How do you live mindfully?

Stay Present.

To remain present means to observe everything that is happening to you. If you are present, you are in the moment; not thinking about tomorrow, what someone else thinks, or grappling about an incident that occurred yesterday. Being mindful means to:

  • Actively listen to the sounds around you. When listening to music, try to pick up on the background instruments.
  • Observe (but don’t judge) the colors, shapes, sizes in detail that is around you.
  • When eating, concentrate on the color, flavor, texture, smell, taste, and temperature of the food.
    • When eating, take smaller bites and avoid multi-tasking (watching TV, reading, surfing the net, etc…). The aftereffect of mindless eating is overindulging.
  • When communicating with others, focus on their words not what your response is going to be.
  • When driving, observe the cars and the roadway.  When was the last time you were driving down a road and the next thing you know, you arrived at your destination and don’t remember passing familiar streets and landmarks?  A wandering mind is reasonable; however, the trick is to catch the thoughts but then reject it and return to your focus.

We are hosting Christmas dinner, so as I began to think about the menu and desserts, I realized that the one common bothersome ingredient comprised of most holiday main course meals, desserts and beverages is sugar.

Sugar is an addiction. The more we eat sugar, the more we crave it. So, as you approach the dessert table, be mindful… How many trips have you made? Are you eating because you’re hungry or are inattentively shoving food in your mouth? Just something for you to think about.

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Image courtesy of Me_living (Instagram)

Eggnog Martini, White Christmas Martini, Santa Clausmopolitan, Jack Frost Cocktail-– Look them up on Pinterest; there are many!   Do I indulge? Absolutely!!  But the solution is to sip consciously.  Drink a glass of water between drinks. Go ahead, enjoy one sweet cocktail but if you decide to take a second drink, order it without the sugar on the rim, or just have your favorite spirit on the rocks.

 

Image: CDC (Center for Disease Control)

 

Even if you don’t consume alcohol, still think about the non-alcoholic eggnog, the punches, sodas, and juices.  When the news reported this week that the current U.S. President drinks 12 cans of diet coke each week, I cringed.  The label on diet coke shows zero “0” sugar, but it does contain aspartame. Too much of anything, especially, a GMO ingredient, is not good for the body.

Sixteen days remain in 2017, and I am still going Vegan strong!  My holiday festivities will undoubtedly include cocktails (mainly cabernet) but will exclude meat and dairy products.  I made it through Thanksgiving, so Christmas and New Year’s should be a breeze.

Happy Holidays!


Yes, I Care About You

“I’ll have an order of hot wings, spicy please and a Coors Light.”

At 25 years old, this was my standard eat after aerobic class. With my workout partner sitting across the table from me, we laughed ridiculously about class, our uncoordinated moves and how fine the instructor was.

We were young, slim and trim, and as far as we were concerned, we were going to stay that way forever.  Lol! When you’re young, you think that way– at least I did.  🙂

Recently I saw a video of “The Stanky Leg Workout” and I laughed so hard. These people are having a blast dancing to a choreographed aerobic workout. The class is getting their cardio in, as well as,  getting their heart-rate up.  🙂

For some reason, the video reminded me of the early 90’s when me and my girl worked out then feasted on the hot wings and beer.

I wondered what the participants in the class ate after their Stanky Leg Workout. I wondered if it mattered to them or if they understood how relevant their post workout meal is to the hard work they put in during class.

After all, when I was 25, I didn’t give a hoot about post workout nutrition. It didn’t matter. I was lean; could not gain weight, did not have any fitness goals, so what I ate did not matter. We worked out because it was fun. Both of us were married and with kids. We enjoyed the hour of “me time” away from work and family.  If this is the case with you; that’s cool–enjoy every minute!  If you workout for additional reasons, this post is for you. 🙂

What are your fitness goals?

lexawrites.com

Fitness goals motivate your behavior.  Fitness goals dictate what you do before, during and after your workout.  Your goals move you to live a certain lifestyle.

lexawrites.com

I am not an expert, a certified nutritionist, a certified personal trainer, or any other fitness pro (yet); however, for over 20 years, I have lived a healthy lifestyle and continue to educate myself in the world of fitness and nutrition.  It just keeps getting better.

I care about myself and…

I care about you!  I don’t have to know you to care about you.

Everyday I see the results of unhealthy lifestyles. I see it in children, parents, and in my family. I have lost family members to cancer, diabetics, and morbid obesity. It’s not pretty.

When I see an obese child, it makes me sad; and I want to cry. I know they’re getting teased in school and, if nothing changes for them (or their parents), they will experience a lifetime of unhappiness– failing to reach their full potential in life– unless a positive change occurs.

By the way, I AM NOT saying that a person cannot be heavy or large and be in shape and live happily. I’m talking about lifestyles that lead to major healthy issues such as, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, strokes, and more.

I want to take the obese child and the parent by the hand and tell them there is a better way. In reality tho, I’d get cussed out, so I stay in my lane.

I receive daily emails, texts, private FB messages, and phone calls from people asking me for help; this inquiries compelled me to write this post.  My advice to you is to sit and decide what your goals are and to write them down.

Don’t generalize: “I want to lose 20 pounds.”  Instead be specific:

To reduce my blood pressure to ______ and to reduce or get off my medication, I want to lose 20 pounds.

Start a food journal.  For three or four days, write down the following:

  1. What you ate/drank
  2. How much ate (estimate don’t measure)
  3. When you eat (time of day)
  4. Why you’re eating (breakfast, lunch, boredom, at a party, etc…)
  5. How you felt after you ate

This may seem time-consuming and cumbersome; however, to get the results, you MUST do the work… inside the gym and outside. There are no quick fixes.

If you don’t understand what you do or why you do it, you cannot make progress.

So what should you do after any workout?

Eat within the hour. If you are not going home immediately after your workout, pack your meal and take it with you to your workout. Eat it in the locker room, in the car, or on the bus, just eat.  After a workout, your body is in recovery and needs fuel to recover.

If you’re into bodybuilding, pre and post meal workouts are more complicated.  This post is more generalized for the average person.. if there’s such a thing.

Eat what?  This will vary greatly depending on your fitness goals.

Generally speaking, avoid:

  • fast food
  • fried foods
  • processed food (such as lunch meat)
  • sugary drinks/soda (including diet sodas)
  • packaged foods
  • frozen foods (unless you froze natural food yourself)
  • can foods

Try eating:

  • green/leafy food (spinach, broccoli, kale, collards, brussels sprouts, asparagus, etc..)
  • lean meat (skinless, boneless chicken, turkey, beef, etc…)
  • fish
  • beans (sometimes I use organic canned beans but I always rinse them well)
  • water
  • brown rice or pasta
  • yams/sweet potatoes
  • whole wheat vs. white
  • yogurt (plain with fresh fruit)

This lists above are general.  Again, depending on your health and fitness goals, your diet will vary.

Before starting any fitness regimen or nutrition plan, you should ALWAYS discuss it with your doctor.

Likewise, if you are being treated by your doctor for any condition, discuss and develop a plan with your doctor.  Safety and overall wellness should always be your first priority.

I hope this helps. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by and have a fabulous day!


My Figure Competition Recap

“Persistence. Perfection. Patience. Power. Prioritize your passion. It keeps you sane.”

― Criss JamiKillosophy

Since last week, I have been trying to sort through and compose all of my fragmented thoughts into a coherent blog post. I’m not sure that I’m quite there yet, but here’s a try.

To transform or to convert is to change

Once you whole-heartedly commit to bodybuilding, you experience a shift in your thinking and ultimately your body will transform into another entity.

“Whole-heartedly,” means not just consistently working out inside the gym, but more importantly, taking responsibility for your actions at home in the kitchen, in the grocery store, during your lunch breaks at work, at family and friends homes, the local convenient store, and while sitting at the table dining in restaurants.

It means committing to educate yourself on every aspect of developing and improving your physique.  Want better…Learn better…Do Better… It’s an ongoing and never-ending journey.

Deviation away from the model is, well– less than 100% committed.

There’s no critiquing here– I am simply putting the truth out there.  In terms of fitness goals, you set your own goals.  What you put into it is exactly what you are going to get out of it.  The process is not as complicated as people make it.  Most people want it but are not willing to do what is required to get there and it’s okay if bodybuilding is not for you.

But if you really want to get in shape, the commitment is the same. Forget all the crazy quick fix programs out there, because they are not lifestyle changes.  They’re a band-aid; a temporary fix.  Eventually you will return to your old habits if not worse. Okay.. enough of my tangent.

I brought up the topic of “change” first because I am still flabbergasted by how bodybuilding has sculpted my 49 year-old body.

If you are new to my page, this was my second figure competition.  May 2014 was my first. I swore to myself that I would be a “one and done” competitor; however, I was wrong. My friend, who has and continue to help me reach my fitness goals, told me that I would do it again.  Ha!  She was right.

So this second go around was different from the first show.  After my first show, I continued training. The weight training, particularly, has become an extension of my lifestyle. I have worked out all my life; running, aerobics, martial arts, and CrossFit (which I still love!). Healthy living has always been a part of my life, but weight training has elevated my game.  Lol!  I love the results.

Second Show Musings

My decision to compete came about some time in December ’14 and only after nudging from my friend.  I figured, since I was already training, why not just do the show. The show was close to home and smaller than the Brick show.

The mechanics of how the body changes is an amazing process.  My first show was all about getting stronger so I could lift heavier and build muscle.  I never stopped training after the Brick show last year, so the strength was there and I could lift heavier.

On average, working around my son’s basketball schedule I trained three to four days per week; occasionally hooking up with my friend. The last two months, I worked out more like five days a week.

Seven Days Out

The week before the show, was hell! Yes, I said it!  Lol!

I weighed more going into it this time, which is good.  However, to lean out  I had to make two dramatic changes.

  1. Do cardio training twice a day
  2. Consume a strict diet of greens and proteins

During regular training, my daily caloric intake was 2400-2700.  By the week of the show, my caloric intake reduced to 2200.   Please don’t mimic this.  Every human body is different. What works for one person probably will not work for another.  This regime was completely different from my first show.

So what made the last week so ugly?

  1. Every morning after using the bathroom, I weighed myself, while hoping and praying I dropped at least a pound.  Chile,  this isn’t my normal!  I rarely get on a scale. My clothes pretty much tell me how what I weigh.  If my pants are tight, I gained weight, if they’re lose, I lost weight.   I didn’t like the anxiety that came along with the anticipation of meeting a “weight” goal. Ugh!
  2. I did cardio before work at 4 O’clock in the morning and after work!  “Cardio” consisted of 20 minutes of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).  What’s this?
    1. Something like….   25 jumping jacks; 10-15 push ups; 30 seconds of mountain climbers, planking then repeating the exercises for several rounds.
    2. I also used the treadmill:  Walking on an incline for a minute or two; running for a minute at a speed of 6.0, and then walking with no incline for a minute–then repeat.
    3. To mix it up and keep from getting bored, I incorporated Jacobs ladder and the beast The StairMaster
  3. Everyday I ate the same meal, chicken and spinach, every three hours: 6 a.m., 9 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m., 6 p.m., and 9 p.m.  chicken and spinachI was so darn tired of eating chicken and greens, I actually dreamed, maybe hallucinated, about eating ribs.  Hahaha! And I don’t even eat ribs, but I did in my dreams.  Oh yeah… You wanna know the worst part?  The damn chicken was NOT seasoned; neither was the spinach.  The bland spinach was okay, but the chicken– well you can imagine.  Half way through the week, I squeezed fresh lemon juice on the chicken; that helped a teeny-weeny bit. I don’t mean to gross you out, but when I pooped… that was dark green too!! TMI (too much information).. I know.
  4. I learned that water is a natural diuretic, which is why I drank so much of it. At one point, I was drinking two liters daily, but closer to the end of the week, I slowly decreased my water intake.

My body was literally under construction.  The cool thing is that everyday I saw subtle changes in my body.  My abs started coming through, and the muscles that I worked so hard to develop became more evident.

Note:  When you see photos online and in magazines of professional body builders, they have leaned out for the sake of the photo shoot.  Most bodybuilders do not walk around perfectly cut everyday.

Five (5) days out I was so wired.  Like hyped!  I don’t know why, but I had trouble focusing at work. I felt like I needed to go for a ten-mile run to settle down.  Lol!  I’m not sure if it was the diet, anxiety, a combination of the two or something else.  Thankfully, by Thursday, I was more settled.  I felt calmer but yet short on patience.  Hubby and B’Dazzle can speak on that.  🙂

Nearly every day, I practiced posing in the fitness room at the gym.

To critique my body positioning, I wore super short shorts and a sports bra.  You’d think I would be comfy with my body, but I was still aware of the guys who walked into the room to do crunches, to hit the bag or something else.  I learned to not care if they were watching. Wearing my ear buds, I’d “turn up and tune out”  turn up the music and tune them out.  Lol!  Occasionally I’d peep folks standing on the outside looking in!

I struggled with song selection. During the show/competition and after “pre-judging” each contestant is given the opportunity to strut their stuff for about 30 seconds. You can get very creative with this segment.  Small props can be used along with your favorite music.

While I had trouble coming up with ideas, my friend gave me a couple of cute ideas, but time and confidence was not in my favor, so I stayed with the basics.

My NEXT show–yup I said, it!  My “next’ show, I’ll do a little somin’-somin’  Heck I couldn’t even decide on one song.  I told my friend, “I’m not a stage performing” kind of girl. Give me a microphone and I will talk, but that’s it.   As a young girl, I wrestled and played football with the boys.  I didn’t take dance, gymnastics, or ballet, so coming up with some “girly” routine doesn’t come natural. I will definitely work on something for the next

Showtime

The day of the show, I woke up refreshed, but guess what?  Since I was only privileged to a “sip” of black coffee with no sugar, I skipped it.  I think I had like two ounces of chicken and a rice cake or two. Then the same thing a few hours later. Haahahahah!  I did talk about commitment right?  Actually, this wasn’t bad.

I was too busy trying to get my belly button re-pierced.  I think my friend hit the roof when I told her that on my way to the competition I was going to the parlor to get it done!  OMG!! Rightfully she was concerned about possible swelling or irritation.  My previous piercing got infected from the spray tan and closed.  I’d been meaning to get it redone, but… well, you know, my time is limited.  Anyways, I got it done.  I just had to have my belly ring for the stage.  Thankfully, I didn’t have any problems.  🙂   If you want something, go for it.

I arrived at the show and we (men and women) were jammed into a small room, where hair, make up, and muscle pumping took place. Although the event is a competition, most competitors are friendly.  I think there’s a deep level of respect because we all put the work in and made similar sacrifices.

Funny, I was the only black chick in this show. The show in Brick, NJ last year, had a hand full.  For whatever reason, we’re few and far between.  It doesn’t both me tho.  The first show I attended, as a audience member, I noticed that that there weren’t any women of color on stage– that is one of two reasons I decided to do it.  The other reason was out of pure curiosity of what I would like after training. Now I know! Hehe!

Walking on stage felt so good. I could hear my husband and friends in the audience cheering me on.  Talk about feeling empowered. I did have a hiccup tho.  I brought the wrong CD so I had to walk on a different song.  It wasn’t a big deal because my attitude as it relates to stage presence was in my head not in the music.  With that said, you bet it won’t happen again.

Overall I did well.  I was the only competitor in Master’s (40 years old and older), so I got first place.  I wish the division had others, but that’s for next time.  🙂

I placed second in Figure, Open B.  Due to the number of figure competitors, we were split into Group A and Group B.  I was in Group B and placed 2nd.  The top two winners in Group A & B competed; I placed 3rd in open.

Final Thoughts 

I was shooting for 1st in open.  I would be lying if I didn’t tell say that I was disappointed with my results, however disappointment is good for me.

Disappointment has made me assess all of the photos, mine and my competitors.

I critiqued my poses, my walk,  and my muscles to the T and know exactly what I need to do for the next show.

On the brighter side, I competed with and held my own against women who were much younger than I.  Now that sh** felt good!  Lol!

Equally as awesome is that many of these women are moms with kids.  One gorgeous competitor has five kids! Isn’t that wonderful!!  These women are empowered to care for their family and spouses, but also find time to engage in an activity that is important to them, which is what we all should be doing.

Don’t put your entire life on hold for your family; that’s ridiculous and, in the long run, you won’t be happy.  You think you will, but you won’t.  You’ll find out… maybe years later. Carve time out for yourself.  If you’re a mom and or wife, you will become a better person for doing so.  Life is short.  Yeah I know that’s a cliché, but it’s true.

Find your passion and go for it!  🙂

Back

My favorite picture from the competition.

 


Got Water?

plant

Looking at this picture, it is obvious that my plant is thirsty and dehydrated. Inwardly, the body responds the same way.

While I chug close to a gallon of water every day, I’m not always so kind to my plants. It’s a good thing that I own plants that are hard to kill.  You know, the type that can survive longer than a week without water, but bounce back after being nourished and fed.  I know, shame on me!

Do you drink water daily?  How much?  A glass? An 8 ounce bottle of water?  Well if you are on a weight loss or get in shape journey, a good start is to drink more water.

Experts estimate that water makes up about 60 percent of the body’s composition. The body uses water every day for regular body functions such as breathing, urinating, and more. Our body needs water to maintain balance and for our organs to work properly.

Did you know that drinking water can increase your energy level?  Yup!  It’s true.

Water Helps Energize Muscles. Cells that don’t maintain their balance of fluids and electrolytes shrivel, which can result in muscle fatigue. “When muscle cells don’t have adequate fluids, they don’t work as well and performance can suffer.       –WebMD

To meet your fitness goals, you must quit drinking soda, juices, and other sugar laced beverages and commit to drink more water. By eliminating your sugar intake, you’re going to drastically reduce your sugar and calorie intake. Did you know that…

 A typical 16-ounce bottle of soda has 44 grams sugar, or about 11 teaspoons (or more).

A few of my strategies to drink more water include:

  1. Drink a tall glass of water first thing in the morning.
  2. Add fresh fruit such as a lemon, cucumber slices, or orange slices to your water.
  3. Set goals throughout the day such as 1 liter before work, another liter by lunch time, and another liter before and or after dinner.
  4. Carry a water bottle and drink from it  everywhere you go.
  5. If you feel adventurous and are seriously committed to drinking water, buy a gallon bottle.  Use a marker to show your hourly goals on the jug.
  6. Drink water before each meal; you will eat less.
  7. When you are away from home, strategize so you know where the clean bathrooms are.  Be ready for hourly bathroom visits.
  8. Not to be gross or anything, but the clearer in color your urine, the better.
  9. Drink water before, during, and after every workout.
  10. If you use a journal to track your food intake, include water intake as well.
  11. When you find a system that works for you, stick with it.

Don’t think about the water, just drink it! 🙂

Read More About Water

10 Life-Changing Reasons To Drink More Water

Your Muscles Are Thirsty

12 Unexpected Reasons To Drink More Water This Year

10 Ways to Drink More Water