the dairy dilemma. 11.18.14

traveling again this weekend, this time to colorado, i was shocked to land in my frigid cold home state and not experience the one thing that always greets me (other than my sweet family):  P-A-I-N. anyone with injuries knows that the cold just makes it that much more painful. (i’m just now realizing that i’m starting to sound old…wonderful.)

for years now i’ve just become accustomed to having a constant, aching pain in the tush (literally) when the temps drop. feeling no pain in the midst of the frozen tundra was my first realization that maybe, just maybe, this whole 6-week program i’m undergoing might be working. not that i doubt the experts to which i’ve basically given full rein over my bod, but patience is not a virtue that i possess so if i don’t see immediate results, i often bail. so after 3 weeks of not exercising near as hard, and eating completely gluten-free, dairy-free, no sugar, and limited alcohol (okay, except for my stint in nashville, where i got bucked off for a wee bit) – it’s encouraging to see some progress.

but that wasn’t my only ah-ha moment.

nails

settling in at the nail salon to get my french mani, the nail tech removed my blackish-purple vampy polish to reveal my naked little nail beds that sported white spots, common when you’re calcium deficient. now, those are rare for this dairy lover.  like one thing i’ve never had to take is a calcium supplement. only my mom and grandma took those viactiv chewy things (religiously). but when the sweet nail tech commented, i knew i might need to look into this a bit more.  health advice from my nail girl:

“you drink milk? you need drink milk. 1 glass in morning. you need drink milk. good for nail.”

okay, okay! i drink milk. but wait – dairy causes inflammation right? of course i had to dive into this dairy dilemma. note: erica didn’t say i couldn’t ever have dairy again, “elimination diets” just aren’t healthy or extended periods of time, but they are valuable in identifying food sensitivities and seeing how different foods affect your body.  [p.s. this is why we journal food!] and everything i’ve read, dairy does cause inflammation so erica wanted me to avoid it while we’re working to heal this injury.  her point being i was probably overdoing dairy so i’ll be able to re-introduce it, maybe just not quite to the extent as before.  which makes sense, i mean…i love dairy. let me count thy ways:

  1. non-fat milk: low-fat milk is fine for you too, i just prefer the taste of skim…mom called it my “blue milk”.  i do choose to use unsweetened almond milk in my smoothies because it has half the calories, which i don’t need when just adding to a protein shake. but remember: almond milk doesn’t have near the amount of calcium or protein as moo milk!
  2. cream in my coffee: i have just a tad now every now (compared to what i used to), but opt for this over fake creamers.
  3. greek yogurt: i heart my greek yogurt and miss it dearly – it’s such a quick way to get a high-protein snack!  tip: always choose plain with no added sugars.
  4. cottage cheese: not everyone loves ‘curds & whey’ but it’s a fab source of protein, calcium, and contains casein protein which help with muscle growth so it’s a perfect evening snack.
  5. froyo: oh, my beloved (sugar-packed) frozen yogurt…it’s a double no-no on my #optimalbod anti-inflammation eating plan and i haven’t had it in weeks, but as with all things, it’s not bad for you (in moderation).
  6. cheese: i avoid cheese in most restaurants unless i can see them shredding it freshly over my meal – because most cheeses aren’t really cheese at all, but highly-processed. avoid low-fat or fat-free cheese at all costs: they are just packed with chemicals and added sugars and frankly, they aren’t good for you! opt for sharp flavored, aged cheese.

because i have been harped on by my momma my entire life about getting enough calcium, it was only natural for me to quickly research this and get erica’s input on what to do. here’s what i found:

“moderate intake of low-fat dairy can actually guard against inflammation, whole milk or even two-percent is still high in saturated fat and could mean trouble. But a majority of adults have at least some difficulty digesting milk, so overdoing it could trigger a true inflammatory reaction.” [huffington post]

so here’s our 3-part plan of action to solve this dairy dilemma:

  1. eat aged cheese
    your body processes aged cheeses differently than highly processed, non-aged cheeses. bonus: it contains little to no lactose so even if you’re lactose intolerant, you can stomach aged cheese. plus it contains tons of nutrients like calcium (obviously), protein, zinc, vitamins A + B12, enzymes, and probiotics. opt for sharp flavors that have been aged for at least 3 months. try aged gouda, sharp cheddar, parmigiano, goat, and blue cheese.  erica recommends adding in just 1oz of aged cheese per day as i slowly introduce dairy back in.
  2. eat non-dairy calcium-rich foods
    dairy may be the most popular, but it isn’t the only source of calcium.  this list from greatist is healthy guide for a (surprising) dairy-free sources including: white beans, blackstrap molasses, kale, almonds, oranges, seaweed, orange juice (fortified)…and more. (just skip 16-18, not a fan of soy, sorry. #soysorry)
  3. take a supplement
    most women over age 19 need at least 1000mg calcium per day - and my wee little 1 ounce of cheese packs in only 150-200mg, so it’s important to add in a supplement. little known fact: your body can ONLY process 500mg of calcium at a time, so even if you take only a supplement to get your calcium (which i don’t recommend), take 500mg in the morning and 500mg at night. my mom was poppin’ both with her breakfast which was a waste!  split it into 2-500mg doses for maximal absorption into your system.  i like the rainbow light one multi-vitamin (200mg calcium, 100% natural and food-based, dairy-free, gluten-free + added probiotics) but i also like these gummy calcium chews  (500mg calcium) because, well i personally take them because they taste like candy. hey, whatever it takes!

track your calcium intake just for one week when you log your food. are you getting at least 1000mg per day? if not, you might wanna. i mean, i may be complainin’ about my aches & pains now like a little old lady, but i guarantee in another 30 years when my bones are strong and healthy, i’ll be glad i took the time to be healthy now. i am dead-set on being a hot little old lady (hey, a girl can dream), but being hunched over with osteoporosis is oh-so-not-sexy. just sayin’.

now, off to cut some cheese. (ha! i crack myself up.)

angela

dirty south. 11.13.14

howdy, nashville.

ice cream

traveling for business, staying with friends, and being in a very social setting (read: food,adult beverages, more food) disrupted my eating plan. like a lot. to my credit, i still fit in workouts 3 out of 4 days, but upon arriving my first night i knew my gluten-free, no-sugar, dairy-free, anti-alcohol plan was going to be challenging. and actually, darn near impossible.

it all started innocently with a gourmet ice cream at the locally famous jeni’s after dinner for a wee little scoop of homemade organic ice cream.  i adamantly told my friends, “i’m not doing dairy or sugar,” and immediately following my declaration was just these really weird looks, as though that was just unacceptable. alright, fine…twist my arm! so 3 of us shared 4 of the tiniest scoops ever of heavenly flavors like dark cherry goat cheese, amaretto pumpkin pie, bramble berry crumble, and dark chocolate truffle. damage: minimal.  enjoyment: indescribable yumminess.

thank the Lord above, my friend and her hubby are health nuts too, meaning each day started out with 2 eggs over easy + black coffee, followed by a workout.  and it seems as the sun started to set each day in the south, so would my ability to resist the yummy southern cookin’.

food

night number two: gluten-free shrimp n’ grits were a light, healthy choice. but from there the following may or may not have happened in my successful quest for an authentic southern experience : a biscuit bar with a complete selection of homemade jams, fried green tomatoes, moonshine, and, well you get the point.  but can we talk about these biscuits? words can’t describe the warm, buttery flakiness of the gluten-packed, but oh-so-worth every bite o’ biscuits. when in nashville!

oh, nashville. *sigh*i rarely have fun to the extent where i diverge (no, actually veer drastically) from my healthy eating. so one weekend isn’t going to kill me right? what irks me isn’t my choice to do so, but that i’m so hard on myself that i beat myself up after. see i make a living telling y’all to enjoy all things in moderation, yet i don’t think i (mentally) allow myself to do the same.  usually i would (literally) run it off, but since that’s not an option, i am processing these thoughts, these emotions…and the biscuits.

i already miss you. i miss the down home country vibe, the music, the people, the ya’lls and yes ma’aams. and the food. oh, the food. admittedly, i’m glad i was only there  3 1/2 days or i have a feeling the damage that ensued would have been quite expensive investing in new (bigger) britches.

gotta skedaddle now,
angela

the struggle is real. 11.11.14

this whole not exercising  intensely as a way to heal my body sounded like a great idea, in theory. and it may be great for the bod, but it’s brutal on my brain. like driving me crazy.  to say i had a (few) mental breakdown(s) this past week is an understatement.  the entire purpose behind this little 6-week experiment is to heal my body. and i think it’s working.  i’ve felt less pain this week than i have in a long time. fabulous. mission accomplished, kinda.

see the truth is, i’m not sure how to operate without over-exercising. (i feel like i’m in a support group right now: “hi, my name is angela and i exercise too much.”) and until erica, and a few others, pointed this out, i didn’t realize how much it almost defines me. it’s not only about maintaining my weight and looking/feeling good, it’s how i manage stress…it’s my go-to when i need a momentary escape.  whether i like to admit it or not, my workouts are what keep me from spiraling into a stressed out abyss.  so you take that away?   no bueno.

an example: unable to go “all-out” and run on the treadmill in my orangetheory class tuesday morning was mentally torturous.  i opted instead to do the elliptical, knowing full well that it would be impossible to be on the treadmill walking on an incline while someone beside me was doing sprints. smart choice, physically.  mentally? not so much.

the following ranting text to erica ensued:

“i’m freaking out - i swear i’m gaining weight! my body is all funky :-( don’t know what to do – i’m used to working out more!!! guess i need to cut my food intake like crazy…i’m used to burning like 500 calories per workout, so if i don’t cut back on my food i’m afraid i’m going to put on some poundage!”

to which her sweet response was: “seriously just be nice to yourself ;-)”

[disclaimer: the scale hadn't budged a pound.]

so why share this with you? because i know that someone, somewhere struggles with the same exact thoughts i do. we are somewhat defined by how often and intense our workouts are…we are controlled by this deep-seeded fear that if we don’t workout enough we aren’t worth enough…and an intense aversion to the scale going the wrong way. but as erica ever-so-sweetly reminded me: “our goal is to get you better, not weight loss.”

so i’ll admit, i’m not loving this process at all. but i’m choosing to see this experience as a blessing: it’s giving me perspective and empathy for people who are limited on what they can do physically. it’s also teaching me to think of my health in a new and different way. and along the way, i’m learning to give myself grace.

humbly yours,
angela

 

return of the blog: 6 weeks to an #optimalbod 11.03.14

9 months: that’s how long since i’ve given my blog any love. since we launched our app back in february. just as one might plan their triumphant return to any such activity that one has dismissed for far too long, i too have contemplated just how i would leap back into the blogosphere. cape flying behind me in a wonder woman-esque style, i wanted to wow you, to return with a bang…to knock your fit little socks off. and rather, my not-so-triumphant return is much less self-serving, much more humble, and rather than a superhero-like debut, i’m coming back wounded, (literally) limping a little, with my cape tucked beneath my tail rather than flailing in the wind.

okay, i’m fine, exaggerating because that’s what i do. but in all seriousness, the reason for my return to blogging is because after years (read: MANY years) of pushing myself to exhaustion to achieve often times unachievable goals, my body finally went kaput and the resulting injuries are just too painful to push through anymore. i also realized that i may be setting myself up for a few hip replacements and back surgery before i hit 40 if i continue at this rate. and that is no bueno.

so how did i reach this humbling conclusion? when the following things started happening i knew something was up: i was exercising 6-7 days a week, sometimes twice a day, eating clean (most of the time) but always hungry, started having extreme pains that i would just push through (performis, psoas, hips, knees), and even gaining weight unexpectedly. it wasn’t until my dear friend (and fitness guru) erica ziel told me what a lot of people have been telling me for a long time: “you exercise too much.” *gulp*

“who, me? no, no no no. this is what i do…i live life fit!”

me+erica

so as i tuck away my cape, i’m humbling myself to heal my body over the next 6 weeks. i’mliterally letting erica tell me exactly what to eat, when and how to exercise, and what to do. and so begins: 6 weeks to an #optimalbod.

and the reason i blog through it is two-fold:

  • sanity: the mental part of this is going to be 10 times hard than the physical. exercising intensely 6 days a week? THAT’S my comfort zone. but reducing exercise? not so much.
  • i’m not alone: in this performance-driven, body-obsessed culture of ours, so many people (myself included) often buy into the “more is more” and so i have a slight feeling i’m not the only one who pushes themselves to exhaustion, asks more of their bodies than they should, and in turn is doing themselves more harm than good. and still not getting the results they want!

erica promises me this: “if you do what i say for 6 weeks you will NOT gain weight, and in fact you will probably lose weight.” now, disclaimer: my goal is not weight-loss, it’s to be pain-free. but i wouldn’t shed a tear if a few of the aforementioned pounds would flee in the process. (hey, i’m just bein’ real.) the philosophy is this: if you exercise too much and don’t eat enough, your body will store those calories as fat and hold onto whatever you feed it, resulting in a slower metabolism and higher body fat. i know this theory to be true; however, somehow i can’t wrap my little brain around it applying to me. so i’m pulling in the pros! and i’m paranoid.

THE PHYSICAL
the goal: cut intense workouts that are causing pain and worsening injury. i’m calling it operation NO’MO [no more over-exercising].

weekly:

  • 30min swim [2x per week]
  • 30min active release work [a.k.a. physical therapy (torture) session with erica’s pointy little elbows]
  • chiropractor [2x per week]
  • 1 hour yoga
  • 1 hour pilates
  • strength training [2x: 1 upper + 1 lower body day, but no heavy weights]
  • orangetheory: high-intensity class i’m obsessed with [she’s letting me continue to do this class...but NO running - incline walking only!]
  • NO running for at least 2 weeks, maybe more depending on how i progress. #notahappygirl #loverunning

daily:

  • release work with foam roller + therapy balls [literally added to my calendar so i remember to do this after dinner!]
  • journal food (duh.)

which leads me to the next part of this little human experiment: she wants me to follow a specific eating plan for the next 6 weeks to reduce inflammation. apparently i’ve got some crazy levels of inflammation in my bod that i swore to her was just pockets of body fat, but she begs to differ and who am i to argue. yeah, um…my booty is “inflamed” – that’s what it is. ha! but she knows her stuff and i’m gonna listen.

THE GRUB
the goal: reduce inflammation in my body by cutting out certain foods just to see how my body responds. also, as i’m cutting back my exercise, it’s important to be even more diligent with watching my food intake.

  • no dairy [except for a little cream in my coffee, thank the Lord!]
  • no added sugars [so naturally occurring sugars like fruit is fine, but even then she wants me to cut this]
  • no WINE! [what? this is not cool erica. ha! but to her point: wine packs in sugar like crazy so she wants me to cut this for a few weeks at least. fine!]
  • no gluten [yep, i’m going gluten-free…but note that doesn’t mean i’ll be just eating gluten-free breads + cookies. remember: gluten-free does not mean calorie-free!]
  • limit grains [even gluten-free grains like brown rice and quinoa…she wants me cut these significantly to 1-2 servings max per day]
  • write everything down [perfect timing as we’re doing a 6-week beta test with fibook lite, so i can journal my way through the tough days…and i’ll be texting her pics of my food log daily. how’s that for accountability? yipes.]

i’m not skeptical, because erica knows her stuff, but i literally was just trying to find some ammo as to why i should be able to drink my wine (in moderation), so i did my research. but the truth is, to heal your body, sometimes you have to go all in to see the results.

  • what is inflammation? “inflammation is the body’s attempt at self-protection; the aim being to remove harmful stimuli, including damaged cells, irritants, or pathogens – and begin the healing process.”
  • why does inflammation cause pain? “inflammation primarily causes pain because the swelling pushes against the sensitive nerve endings, which send pain signals to the brain.”
  • what foods cause inflammation? here’s a list of the 9 worst foods for inflammation, including everything she’s having me eliminate: sugar (#2),  alcohol (#5) milk (#7) and gluten (#9).

dang it. but i can tell you this: i’d rather be pain-free than indulge in a warm piece of bread with a glass of wine (actually that sounds really good about right now)…or have my body functioning optimally than treat myself to froyo (oh man, froyo…dairy and sugar!).

my thoughts/fears/feelings:
i am all or nothing. making this decision to cut back on exercising might be the most difficult  program i’ve ever undergone. because it’s mental. i can do the physical. i can out-work, out-train, out-sweat just about anyone – or at least die trying. heck, i can even give up all those foods – i’ve done it before (circa 2009: figure competition - the sparkly pink bikini days).  but asking me to stop working out like a crazy woman? yeah, not so easy. so, rather than feel sorry for myself, i’m gonna attack this like a bat (woman) outta you-know-where. i’m going after this like a champ and gonna do exactly what i’m told, partly because i’m truly in that much pain and sick of it, but also because i know there are a LOT of people out there just like me: type-a, #cantstopwontstop, over-achievers who kill their bods in the gym and don’t actually take the time to listen to the pain. and the problem with that is at some point you’re actually causing it harm and not setting yourself up for a lifetime of health. at some point there are diminishing returns to scale, and unfortunately this little wonder woman got her cape handed to her.

[read the following in the a monotone, late-night attorney advertisement type voice]

“if you or someone you know is experiencing extreme amounts of pain, is or has been accused of over-exercising, and wants to fight off nasty inflammation, you may be a perfect subject for this class-action 6-week program to get your bod back to optimal performance.”

in closing, this super-heroine-esque endeavor is going to be a bit mentally strenuous, hence the return to the blog. hold me accountable as i blog my thoughts weekly over the next 6 weeks. and if you’ve never read my blog before, welcome to my mini novelettes, short stories if you will. and if you’re a loyal reader, i’m baa-aaack!

wonder-woman in progress,
angela-sig

 

5 steps to creating an app: an entrepreneur’s guide 02.05.14

“fitbook should be an app!”fitbook+ lite app
“have you thought about creating an app?”
“you know what would be a good idea? create an app.

yes, i hear you loud and clear. i’m not ignoring you, i promise. and our app has been in development for over 18 months. we’ve been workin’ on it – until now. it’s here. oh yes, it is. our long-awaited app has arrived.  what took so long? oh i’m so glad you asked.

here’s a little glimpse inside my world of creating an app, step-by-step.

1) identify if you really need an app
our bread n’ butta is fitbook. a brilliantly designed (in my not-so-humble opinion) pen + paper product that 6 years running now has proven to be the driving force behind fitlosophy’s growth.  so why would i create an app that would take away from that? at first glance, my thought was, “uh, no.”  but, i’ve always operated my business on this philosophy: give customers what they want. that said, my mission was to delve deeper and give you something that you maybe didn’t even know you need. so here’s why we moved forward designing an app: i knew that i could create an app that adds value to my existing customers and would simultaneously attract new users; people that have and never will use a tangible fitbook but want our design in a digital format.

app tip:  in business, there are always trends and you have to have a clear picture of which ones you will follow and which ones you will set. part of fitlosophy’s success has been in its ability to buck the trend and go against the flow. i mean, who creates a paper journal in the age of technology?  please head to your nearest Target location and you will find fitbook lining the shelves of all 1790+ stores nationwide. sometimes being different, works.

2) don’t deliver the expected
i didn’t want to create an app just for the sake of creating an app. would creating a replication of fitbook in an app form add value? not really. there are a ton of calorie-counting, workout-tracking apps out there and to create one this late in the game that was more of the same, well that’s just silly. instead, i approached this with one question in mind: “what would help my fitbookers reach their goals?”  when using fitbook, the single factor that affects whether or not someone is successful is two fold: 1) having a very clear, measurable goal and 2) identifying that driving factor and underlying motivation behind wanting to achieve a goal. for me, solving that piece of the puzzle for my existing customers and adding value for those individuals was my key priority.  coming up with a solution for someone who had never used fitbook before would come second.

app tip: figure out how to add value and who you’re adding value for. delivering an app for loyal, paying customers who support your brand should supersede creating a solution for people who aren’t even familiar with who you are. it’s tempting to want to provide all things to all people, but as a small business you have to stay intently focused on who your customer is at all times and keep them happy first and foremost.

 3) be on-brand.iphone android fitbook
when i sat down to design this, i literally walked through every single scenario, goal, motivation, and outcome possible.  from writing every single goal that you might have and determining how you measure progress to identifying where you are now and what will motivate you to get where you want to be, i spent hours upon hours configuring just how the app would work so that you got to the end of it and said, “wow.”  i want to wow you.  it was crucial to me to design an app that stays true to our goal-setting methodology and focus on journaling, but also harnesses the power of technology to be able to analyze your goal and tell you if it’s achievable.  yes, it’s that smart!  i designed it so that if you have a goal to lose too much weight too fast or your goal weight isn’t healthy, we give you a big red X.  now that, adds value.   so if you go through the app and feel like you just had a mini coaching session with me, then mission accomplished!

app tip:  creating an app reflects on your brand, so it’s important that the app is a piece of your overall strategy, rather than being your only strategy.  for fitlosophy,  that meant complementing the fitbook user’s experience.  from design elements and verbiage to flow and functionality, the goal is to create a seamless, familiar app experience so they aren’t seen as separate, but as cohesive parts that work together in unison.

4) find your blue ocean.
i was intent on designing a goal-setting app related to your fitness + nutrition; not to design a weight-loss app that helps you set goals.  why? well first off – our mantra is live life fit, meaning we take a lifestyle approach to health.  not everyone’s goal is to lose weight so by creating just (another) weight loss app we alienate a majority of our customers and send the message that weight loss should be your only goal. not true!  plus, we wanted to set ourselves apart by focusing on healthy, achievable goals that can help someone whether they’re looking to lose the baby weight or training for a triathlon.

app tip: if you search in the app store for ‘weight loss’ there are over 2200 apps. but search for ‘goal setting’ – only 72. and of those, only a handful are specific to your fitness and health.  ah, in grad school we call this finding the ‘blue ocean’; an area of opportunity to stand out from the crowd.  and when you’re an itty-bitty company, it’s even more crucial that you are laser-focused on what sets you apart; that should be the nucleus around how you grow the business. for fitlosophy, it’s all about goals. so when faced with a new idea or direction, all you have to ask yourself is, “does this support our key focus?”.

5) just launch it.
go figure, i’m a perfectionist.  truth be told we probably could have launched this maybe 3 months ago, but i wanted to finalize the sharing functionality on the very last screen of the app because i’m adamant that sharing your 12-week goals via social media will help you reach them (because research shows it does, by 76% in fact). then of course we tested and tested and every little teeny tiny bug had to be fixed because the last thing i want is cranky, confused fitbookers! of course i also wanted to launch the upgrade at the same time which allowed you to take that app-generated 12-week goal and then track your progress!  but here’s news for you: technology projects move like at a snail’s pace (especially compared to fitbook: print, ship, boom – done!). so rather than further delay launching the free version of the app just to finalize the upgrade, i decided to just roll with it. launch it, get some feedback, finish up the upgrade, and launch it this summer (God-willing!).  is it ideal? well not in my perfect type-A world, but i’m learning that my perfectionist approach doesn’t always serve me (or my customers) well. 

app tip: whether it’s developing an app or just running a business, nothing ever goes as planned. successful people are those that adjust, adapt, and change.  attempting to force your plan in any situation actually further delays the outcome (trust me).  if this is you, surround yourself with a team who pushes you to move forward even when you don’t want to.

with that, here is the latest + greatest from fitlosophy, introducing:
fitbook+ lite goal-setting app
[now available for free download on iphone + android]

comment below…let me know what you think! i hope we wow you.
appily yours,
angela 

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