Live Well: DONE With Our Whole 30

graphic via betterbelievefit.com

Well friends, I did it - I finished the Whole 30. How do I feel?

I feel a lot of things.

For one, I feel lighter. In 30 days, I lost two pounds, an inch off my waist, and an inch and a half off my hips. I didn't start this diet in order to lose weight, but it's a side effect that I'm not sad about!

I also feel healthier. We initially committed to doing 30 days without sugar, grains, dairy, etc. because we had been eating so terribly. After 30 days of only putting "whole" foods in my body, I must say I feel really great - there hasn't been one time in the past month where I've felt disgustingly full (that used to be a regular occurrence). Also, my stomach hasn't been upset in the longest time and I just feel better. It's hard to explain.

On the whole, I would highly recommend giving this diet a shot if you're looking for a way to break out of bad eating habits. While I know I'll start adding grains and sweets back into my diet (I'm going out for pizza tonight), I will definitely be adding them back in in much lower quantities than I was taking in before (after this weekend, of course - I'm not holding back on ANYTHING while my siblings are in town!). In a weird way, I'm almost sad that the 30 days are over - it really takes about 30 days to feel like you've got the hang of eating healthy!

I will admit, though - we made some alterations to the diet to make it more workable for a lifestyle where we know we're going to be going out to restaurants, hanging out with friends, and just generally not always in control of how our food is prepared. Here are the allowances we made:

Alcohol: I probably had ~6 glasses of red wine over the course of the diet. All of those were consumed in the company of friends. We just couldn't handle being the awkward ones at the table who refused to drink along with the crowd. So instead we took in a moderate amount, and didn't drink at all if it wasn't a social occasion.

Dairy: I had cheese three times because it was in dishes we ordered and hard to avoid. But I really, really tried to stay away from it as best I could because my body and lactose aren't friends, and I thought taking it out of my diet would be a worthwhile experiment.

Oils/Fats/Cooking conditions, etc: To truly stick to the tenets of the Whole 30, you would need to prepare all of your food yourself. You never know what kinds of oils a restaurant is cooking your food in, so it's safer to make your own. We weren't that stringent. Going out to dinner is one of our greatest pleasures, and we weren't willing to give that up. As a result, I'm sure we took in trace amounts of non-ideal cooking oils...but that's a tradeoff we were okay with making.

All of that said, I didn't ONCE in 30 days eat any kind of dessert. I can't tell you how proud I am of that. My love for dessert is definitely my Achilles heel. When I started this diet, I would crave dark chocolate after meals so badly that it seemed like my whole body hurt. That doesn't happen anymore, and I plan on doing what I can going forward to make sure I don't get hooked again.

So what do you think? Are you tempted to try it? Do you have questions I can answer? Let me know! But first, pizza...

Be Well: Ouch

Image via fitness19.com

I have a confession to make: I haven't worked out in over a month.

Well, I hadn't worked out in over a month until this past Saturday.

Although I've been traveling, and working, and just generally running around in life like crazy lately, it's still not a good excuse for how badly I fell off the workout wagon. But your exercise routine is one of those things that tend to snowball - just like getting on a good streak can mean you're consistently in the gym for weeks (heck, months!), one week off can turn into...five weeks off.

This is where I should be giving you great advice for how to get back on the wagon, but to be honest, I don't have much wisdom to impart. When it comes to that first workout, you pretty much just have to force yourself to do it. It should get easier from there.

It should...but it doesn't. If you work out properly that first time back, you should end up sore. Really sore. And that's where I am right now. My legs are so stiff that walking around my apartment is a challenge. Not a single fiber of my body wants me to work out again, but I know I have to - it's the only way this gets easier (other than giving up altogether, which isn't an option). My advice here: take it slow, but don't be too easy on yourself. On Sunday morning I went to yoga (most painful yoga class of my life) and this morning I went to yoga again. After this, it's going to be a week of running stairs, doing pushups, and generally hoisting myself back up onto that workout wagon. I know I can do it.

If you have any great tips for getting back into the swing of things, I'd love to hear them!

Be Well: Live Well, Live Long

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I could probably write a post a week, each one featuring a new reason why you should exercise, and never run out of things to write about. Seriously. But although the reasons to work out are innumerable, I have never heard an argument more convincing than the strong scientific support that shows that getting regular, vigorous exercise will both lengthen your life and improve your life's quality.

What's crazy to me (and unbelievable to most) is that exercise has been regularly proven to have a more significant impact on your mental acuity than doing logical puzzles, crosswords, or other "brain exercises." It turns out that nothing replaces regular exercise - going on a challenging hike will do a lot more for you than playing a game of Scrabble or reading a book.

Being reminded of exercise's power to improve my life is one of those things that makes me sit up and take notice. I can only derive so much motivation from the promises to feel healthy today, have flatter abs, or have improved self-esteem. In many ways, those results seem very intangible to me (okay, maybe not the abs) and have never served as long-term motivations for me to get up and get moving. But days added to my life? Knowing that I am keeping my body and mind from breaking down? For whatever reason, that is a currency that means something to me. I would much rather live to be 90 than live to be 80. And I'm determined to be the kind of person who hikes and swims until the very end.

Want to know the best part about this? It's never too late to start. Seriously, committing to making a change today will improve your quality of life. It doesn't matter if you're 15 or 65. So put down your phone, get away from your TV, and take a walk around your neighborhood. Or swim a few laps in your pool. Or join an exercise class. Just do something that makes you break a sweat. Oh, and try to find something you like. That's always the #1 thing that will help you stick with it :)

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Completely random topic change: I don't know about you, but I'm a pretty big Tracy Chapman fan. Hours upon hours of listening to her album Telling Stories on a road trip one summer pretty much cemented me as a member of her fanbase. So when I heard a cover of her song Fast Car played when I was at yoga this past weekend, I was immediately intrigued. In fact, right after I left yoga that day I came home and started googling "Fast Car cover." It took me a little while to find, but I finally identified it: it's a duet sung by Boyce Avenue and Kina Grannis. (No idea who they are? Yeah, me either.) ANYWAY, this is the really long way of saying that you should totally listen to this song! Find it here.

Also - how much does Kina Grannis sound like Taylor Swift? It's INSANE! I didn't believe it wasn't Taylor Swift until I was presented with indisputable video evidence.

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Have a great Wednesday, y'all.

Live Well: New Year's Revelation

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I was initially hesitant about doing a New Year's resolution post. You've probably already read 100 other blog posts and articles with the title "New Year, New You!" Is there really anything new I can add? However, after surveying what's been offered up so far, I realized there is one key thing missing.

Measurability.

If you've been on Pinterest, watched anyone be interviewed, or read a single magazine so far this year (like, in the past two days) you've probably heard things like "I resolve to eat better! smile more! stress less!" about a billion times. Every time I hear one of those phrases described as a "New Year's resolution," I shudder. How in the world can you either succeed or fail at any of those?

What I mean by that is this: there is absolutely no way for me to measure whether or not I have "stressed less" two weeks from now, six months from now, or when 2015 (good lord, 2015?!) rolls around. By phrasing my "resolution" that way, I've set myself up for certain success or certain failure, depending on what kind of person I am - if I want to make myself feel better, I can say "oh yeah, I was definitely less stressed this year." If I take a more negative view, I can mark "stress less" as yet another resolution that fell by the wayside.

As you've probably noticed in other posts on this blog, I am a HUGE proponent of being organized, being specific, and having a plan. I think New Year's resolutions are one of the best places where those principles should be put into practice. But how can I do that?

I'm so glad you asked!

I want to take a second to brag on my husband - on January 1, 2013, he turned to me and said "one of my resolutions this year is to make the bed every morning." Notice he didn't say "keep our apartment cleaner" or "be more organized." Instead, he picked one specific thing to focus on, and applied a measurable requirement to it. And you know what? He was 100% successful. We made our bed every single day in 2013.

For me, those two pieces are the key to a valuable New Year's resolution - specificity and measurability. Maybe that sounds overly scientific, but if you are serious about improving your life in 2014, I think being specific and measured in how you go about that is the only way to keep yourself honest.

So, I came up with a few specific and measurable personal New Year's resolutions. I plan on revisiting this post one year from now to see how I did - that's probably the best way to keep myself on track!

1) Instead of "exercise more" ...

By the end of the year, be able to run up the Lyon Street steps without stopping

image via

I could not find a photo that does these stairs justice. The Lyon Street steps are a huge set of stairs at the far end of my neighborhood that go from the bottom of the hill closest to my house to the very top. The steps themselves span several blocks (there are ~300+ stairs in total).

Ever since I moved to San Francisco, I've intermittently run these stairs as a workout. However, I have never been able to run their entire length without stopping. I've decided that 2014 is the year where that will change - I'm determined to get to the top.

This leads me into a few sub-goals - like most people, I want to get healthier in 2014. But I want a way to measure whether or not I meet that goal. Resolving to be able to run the stairs will help me stick with my goal to go to Crossfit 3-4 times every week, and yoga once every week. If I stick to that plan, I will undoubtedly be in better shape by 2015 (and will also be queen of the Lyon Street steps).

2) Instead of "read more" ...

Read 18 books by the end of the year

image via

At the end of 2012, one of my acquaintances posted on Facebook about how they had achieved their 2012 New Year's resolution to read 52 books in the course of the year. I was super impressed. That person's post inspired me to start tracking what I read using Goodreads. Last year, I tracked everything I read starting on January 1.

For whatever reason, in January of last year I half-heartedly resolved to read 13 books during the year. I didn't make it - I ended up only getting to 12. While 12 is still respectable, I know I can do better. So, this year I resolve to read at least 18 books during 2014. Hopefully that will mean less Facebook, more regular books for this girl.

3) Instead of "travel more" ...

Take an international trip (and no, our upcoming trip to BVI does not count).

How amazing is this bedding?? Image via Urban Outfitters, which is where this bedspread is available.

This is the goal I'm most nervous about including on this list, because it will be the biggest challenge for me. Not because I dislike international travel (I don't) but because putting in the time to plan a trip is something that I have been incredibly lazy about ever since I became an adult. It was a near-miracle that we even planned our honeymoon.

My husband and I haven't really taken a trip just the two of us since our honeymoon, which I think is a shame. There are so many places I want to see, and I think we should fit in as much as we can before we have children. So, I'm resolving to go on vacation. Internationally. This year. Hopefully saying that here that will kick me into gear.

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I sincerely hope that all of the information above is helpful as you formulate your own goals, whether they be New Year's resolutions, KPIs at work, or a list of things you want to do by the end of the day.

Now for a completely random subject change (and a window into my life lately) - if watching 30 Rock were a New Year's resolution, I would be killing it. My husband and I are not typically binge television watchers, but for the past few days we have been blowing through 30 Rock episodes like we're getting paid to watch them. I'm completely obsessed. Although I've seen most of the episodes before, watching them back-to-back in order has made me appreciate the jokes so much more. The fact that we live in a world where a large segment of the population doesn't understand or like the humor on 30 Rock makes me sad for this country. If you haven't watched it before, what are you doing?! Log onto Netflix NOW and watch away. You won't regret it (at least, I sincerely hope you don't).

Have a wonderful Thursday!