Tuesday, February 21, 2017

How I got started - for real

When I was in my mid-20's I was in cycle of lean and what I refer to as "soft". Not too heavy, but not toned up either. I'd hit the gym super hard, hit my goal and then quit. A few months later my jeans would feel too tight so I'd hit the gym super hard, hit my goal, then quit. Rinse, repeat. My diet was sketchy.

An old high school friend of mine sent me an email the other day asking me how I got started and looking for a little advice. Specifically they were asking about the Whole 30 and my thoughts/experiences.

Instead of researching and giving them platitudes I decided to be real. I mean, this is someone I've know over 20 years, what did I have to lose? 

And then, I thought, why not be real here, too. So here is my response, raw and unedited:
So - my diet pretty much sucked until I was 30 and actually left southwestern pa. Let's face it - I grew up near Pittsburgh, the land of pierogies, hot sausage sandwiches and beer. I just really got into the veggies in the past couple of years.
I started small & I don't know if any vegetables were really involved in the first few years now that I look back on it. They took me a long time to get used to....I had a protein shake for breakfast every morning, yogurt and fruit or a peanut butter and egg sandwich mid morning for a snack (it's good, don't knock it) and a pretty "normal" dinner like rice or potatoes with pork roast, chicken or fish, tacos with lean (90/10) ground meat.  I probably also ate too much processed stuff - like protein powders, ready to drink shakes and protein bars but that is what worked for me and it was a good start. 
For lunch I had leftovers from the night before or would eat something like a protein bar and yogurt or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a can of tuna & brown rice mixed together with salt and pepper. I ate nothing fried, drank absolutely nothing but water and had absolutely no fast food for about a year with the exception of pizza almost every Friday night and a 6-pack of beer. It was a major cheat night. (some of the never eating out had to do with the fact that I couldn't afford it at that point in my life but it helped tremendously)
I worked out 4-5 mornings a week and I leaned out pretty significantly. It took about 6 months to see a significant change in my body shape and to get used to always feeling at least a little hungry. I used gum and water a lot to keep myself from reaching for snacks. My weight didn't change but I went down 3 sizes in my clothes. (From a 10/12 to a 6, which might not mean anything to a man).
The Whole30 wouldn't have worked for me back then AT ALL. It took me 7 years of eating well to be able to do that successfully. Even now I struggle with veggies. I eat A LOT of eggs. A couple a day, sometimes more. I usually have one salad so it takes care of it all.
I relied heavily on EAS products. You can get them on Amazon or at Target. Or Walmart. Or you don't have to go with them at all; I just happen to like them!  I did a post on protein powders on the blog a while back that you might have seen - but if not it's here: http://kristenlippencott.blogspot.com/2015/12/are-you-getting-enough-protein.html
To sum it all up in menu form, this was my life for about a year. I took comfort in the monotony of it; it made it easy for me to stay in control. This is really just an example to give you an idea of how I cut out calories and unnecessary evils and leaned up. I can try to give you more options if you'd like.
Breakfast (5 a.m. - pre-workout): protein shake - 2 servings of protein powder, 1 banana, 1 cup strawberries, 8 oz 2% milk.Snack (9 a.m.): sandwich - 1 scrambled egg, 2 pieces whole grain toast, 2 TB peanut butter OR ready-to-drink shake + fruit OR yogurt + fruit Lunch (1 p.m.): leftovers OR 1 can tuna + 1 cup brown rice with salt & pepper OR peanut butter & jelly on whole grain bread OR a protein bar + fruit or yogurt Dinner (6 p.m.): white or sweet potatoes with chicken, fish or pork OR pasta with lean ground meat and minimal pasta sauce OR rice with chicken, fish or pork
I feel like this is no where near specific enough in regards to lunch and especially dinner but I hope it helps a little.
And like I told him, if you have more questions or need some advice, let me know. You can always reach me at KristenLippencott@gmail.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kmlippencott

My diet now looks very different than it did when I buckled down in 2009. But it's grown as I have and balanced out as I understand the importance of flexibility when it comes to nutrition, exercise and specific goals as related to those. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Yoga & Stress Relief - Part 4 of 4

If you are just joining in, you may want to take a few minutes to review parts one, two and three of my four-part series on managing stress.

Quickly recapping, this series started when I unveiled my stress management workshop for a company I work with. Word spread quickly and I ended up conducting twenty-five (25) of these 30-minutes workshops throughout the company.

The feedback was so great I thought I would share it here with you in a four-part series.

Yoga, as opposed to meditation and mindfulness, can take a bit more planning and generally a designated time and space. If you are one of few people I’ve known who are willing to move into child’s pose during a stressful meeting, however, have at it!

Some see yoga as a religion, which is not accurate. Yoga is a practical aid, an ancient art based on the harmonizing of the mind, body and spirit. The goal is self-development and self-realization. Studies have shown that practicing yoga has a direct impact on improving and maintaining physical and emotional health.

Yoga triggers the production of gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical made in the brain. The main role of GABA is to have a calming effect on you and your nervous system. Its function is to shut off the brain and it does this by blocking brain signals.

An increase in GABA levels is generally tied to a decrease in cortisol. This process, which can be triggered by a consistent yoga practice, is similar to that experienced by Zoloft, Prozac and other anti-depressants prescribed by doctors to treat mood and anxiety disorders.

In addition to lower stress levels and higher GABA levels, yoga practice has been linked to:
  • lower diastolic blood pressure,
  • reduced intensity and frequency of headaches,
  • greater impulse control,
  • greater physical strength, stamina and flexibility,
  • improved blood circulation,
  • enhanced mental clarity,
  • peace of mind and a more positive outlook to life.
If you are interested in yoga but not sure which class might be right for you, look for these key words: 
  • Yin
  • Hatha
  • Restorative
  • Gentle
  • Renew
  • Beginner
  • Fundamentals
For at home practice, Yoga Journal suggests these 16 Yoga Poses to Find Instant Calm and Peace. Let me know if you try them!

As I mentioned the first week the key difference between meditation, mindfulness and yoga and traditional stress relief methods (reading, watching TV, or cocktails with a good friend) is that meditation, yoga and mindfulness encourage the mind-body connection.

Don't believe me? In a recent study  scientists found that brain GABA levels increased increase by 27% after a 60-minute yoga session compared to no increase after a 60-minute reading session.

Instead of focusing on someone else’s story these methods shift your focus inward, eliciting a relaxation response and teaching your body what it feels like to release any stress-triggered tension.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Do you take better care of your car than you do your body?

Sure cars are a necessity in today's society - we need them to get to work, to transport the kids to school and activities, run errands....but we often put them ahead of our own health and wellness.

Let's look at 3 important components of overall wellness and start seeing our bodies as our primary vehicle.

️ Nutrition: Don't have time to eat? Would you leave the house on an empty tank and expect it to last thru an entire day of errands?

️Sleep: Are you often groggy, complaining about how difficult it is for you to fall asleep or stay asleep? Do you reach for your iPad or switch on the TV before bed or during the night? Our bodies need darkness to signal sleep; switching on devices & engaging is like letting your car run in the driveway all night & then being surprised when your car is out of gas in the morning. 

️ Exercise: Cars need to run regularly to run efficiently. Ever try to start up an old truck that hasn't run in awhile? Without regular movement parts get rusty, start to corrode and dry-rot sets in. Important fluids and fuels no longer get around this well-oiled machine. Similarly when we are sedentary we start to get stiff, bones start to get brittle and our organs don't get the blood flow and nutrients they need to function properly.

Try to integrate a few basic requirements into your day and start making YOU your top priority:

     ✔️ 7-8 hours of sleep per night 
     ✔️ A clean, nutrient-rich diet 
     ✔️ 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week 
     ✔️ Smiles 
     ✔️ Sunshine

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Mindfulness & Stress Relief - Part 3 of 4

Welcome to part three of my four part series on managing stress using meditation, mindfulness and yoga.

Last week we tackled meditation; this week, we move on to mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. It is often used as a therapeutic technique.

In other words, we pay attention - to our thoughts, our feelings and our actions. Much like meditation, being mindful allows all of the background noise and distractions to fall away and it turns the focus inward, on one simple task or feeling.

You might remember the inspiration for this series was a workshop I recently conducted to several work groups on relieving stress and tension.

In one of my first sessions a woman raised her hand during our mindfulness discussion and admitted: “believe it or not, washing dishes is the most relaxing part of my day.” When I asked why, she answered: “because I only wash the dishes.”

She continued, “I pick up the glass, I was the glass, I rinse the glass, I set the glass in the drying rack. I pick up the bowl, I wash the bowl, I rinse the bowl, I set the bowl in the drying rack……”

It's really that simple. I tried it that night.

I had read the dish washing example before this, but this is the first time I had heard a real life example. Washing dishes, my friends, is mindfulness in its most perfect form. Other examples of mindful actions include:
  • breathing in and focusing on the smell of your fresh coffee before you take the first sip in the morning,
  • standing or sitting in the hot shower and feeling the warm water as it hits your skin,
  • focusing your attention on a flower or insect that is nearby, visually examining the color, shape or unique characteristics,
  • taking two mindful bites when eating,focusing on the scent, flavor and texture of your food,
  • focusing on your breath as you inhale and exhale fully.
The opportunities for mindfulness are everywhere, and you can practice by finding:
  • A quiet environment. Choose a secluded place in your home, office, or outdoors where you can relax without distractions or interruptions.  
  • A comfortable position. Get comfortable: sit up with your spine straight, either in a chair or on the floor. You can also try a cross-legged or lotus position.  
  • A point of focus. You can practice mindfulness with your eyes closed or open. This point can be internal (a feeling or imaginary scene) or external (an object or meaningful word/phrase). 
  • A noncritical attitude. Don’t worry about any distracting thoughts that go through your mind or about how well you’re doing. If outside thoughts intrude gently turn your attention back to your point of focus. 
  • Patience. Remember, all of these things take practice and patience to master.

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