But Really Though, I’m doing Sober October (kind of)

Happy Sober October friends!

If you are not a millennial and have no idea what Sober October is, all you need to know is that people have made a hashtag out of not drinking for the month of October.

The purpose of being sober differs for everyone but the hashtag allows participants to motivate one another and hold themselves accountable. I am unintentionally participating in Sober October because a couple months ago Brenton and I cut back on drinking. We went from drinking on a Friday or Saturday night to grabbing a drink with a friend maybe once a month. We did this because we realized that alcohol wasn’t doing us any good. As much as I love a nice glass of wine (and will still enjoy the occasional glass) cutting back on drinking has benefited me in multiple ways. I wanted to share those benefits with you just in case you needed that extra motivation to take an alcohol break. 

Reduced Anxiety

As someone with generalized anxiety I’ve learned that alcohol (and caffeine) are some of my worst triggers. Having a couple glasses of wine can take me from having a good time to worrying about the wildest things. I recently learned that having enough alcohol to feel like you had a drink the next morning (even if you aren’t hungover) can escalate anxiety for another 7 days. So while we were drinking two glasses of wine once a week I was basically escalating my anxiety and letting it simmer back down just to bring it back up again. Eliminating alcohol has not *fixed* my anxiety by any stretch of the imagination but it has helped reduce triggers. An added bonus is now that I don’t get drunk, I don’t get hangovers which means I no longer get anxiety induced shame-overs (if you don’t know what a shame-over is consider yourself lucky). 

Better Sleep 

I am awful at falling asleep. If I keep my sleep hygiene impeccable I still struggle to fall asleep at night. Adding alcohol to this mix was not helping. The nights we drank we usually stayed up later which caused me to sleep in the next morning breaking my normal bedtime/wake time routine. By cutting out alcohol I’ve been able to get myself in bed WAY before midnight every night and I wake up within an hour or two of my normal weekday wake time. 

Time Management

I honestly did not realize I wasted SO much time drinking and watching TV. We would get stuck in these mindless TV rabbit holes until the early hours of the morning. Now that I am able to keep myself to my weekday wakeup time I’m immensely more productive during the weekend. Eliminating alcohol has changed how I spend my free time and so far that allowed me to tap into my more creative side, work on personal passion projects and be conscious about my veg time. 

*Honorable mention to my skin clearing up. Now I’m not saying I’ll never drink again.

Honestly, I still have the occasional glass of wine or margarita if I feel like it but so far the pros of not drinking outweigh the cons. As someone who doesn’t drink at work events I can promise you that in a healthy work environment no one will care or notice if you decide to skip the booze and go for a soft-drink or water. So, even if you’re a few days late to the party – are you giving Sober October a try? 

I’m Ditching Diet Culture

I’ve made a major fitness mistake; I’ve been actively participating in diet culture.

Dietician Christy Harrison defines diet culture as a system of beliefs that worships thinness, promotes weight loss, demonizes certain foods and oppresses people that don’t match others picture of health. Diet culture is an oppressive fatphobic, food-phobic system. It teaches us that juice cleanses, 1200 calorie diets and excessive macro tracking are the only ways to be happy in your body. Diet culture is a joy thief. 

As someone who loves exercise and the fitness industry, I have fallen hard into the clutches of diet culture. I tried to become a booty builder and eat 1gram of protein per body weight. Then, I followed all the fitspo’s and copied their diets. Debated going vegan just to be part of the vegan body-builder movement. I #mealprepped and yet, none of it ever made me happier. Movement improved my mood but obsessing over what or when I ate never made my life feel full; instead it made eating in to a chore. 

Anti Diet Influencers

I’ve been sitting with this uncomfortable feeling towards diets trying to determine my next move.  It wasn’t until I saw one of my favorite booty builders Madalin Giorgetta go anti-diet culture that I realized I needed to dig deeper into this. Sad to say but it wasn’t until I saw an influencer, who had made most of her fame off of the fitness industry and being conventionally pretty (that I love and follow), throw it all away for this message. Her willingness to shake up her life for this message encouraged me to dismantle diet culture. Through her influence I realized that I have thin privilege. I will never be rejected from a job for being too fat. As someone with this privilege I need to use voice to speak out against diet culture and fatphobia. 

This sounds like a mission so to frame learning experience I’ve tasked myself with answering these questions: 

  • What does health/wellness mean? And why do we associate diets with health?
  • Why are we afraid of “fat”? What does fatphobia look like in our everyday lives?
  • Is body neutrality better than body positivity? 

Want to come on this journey with me? Let me know in the comments. 

But Really Thought Tries – Barry’s Bootcamp

I love to dabble in fitness classes. When I lived in SB I took Barre classes all the time but since the move I haven’t been frequenting the studios. I’m currently opting for a weight lifting gym sessions during the week. I’ve started to get a bit bored so I decided to expand my fitness horizons and take up classes again. Recently, this has taken the form of a tumbling class, which has the added bonus of rekindling my love for gymnastics

The cardio queen in me was feeling a bit underwhelmed by all this lifting and flipping so on Saturday morning, so I dragged B to the hardest cardio I could think of – a Barry’s Bootcamp class.

Barrys Image 1
Cardio Queens Unite 

Barry’s Bootcamp is self-described as a high-intensity interval workout (think HIIT) with “killer music” and “signature red lights”.  Upon arrival, we were eagerly greeted at the front desk, were given a locker and met the instructor. The instructor talked us through the workout split as the class requires specific moves to be performed at specific intervals/timing. We started on the floor with resistance bands and weights, then we moved to the treadmill, then back to the floor for arm, then off to the treadmills we went to finish the class.

Barrys Image 2
In my head this is what the red lights looked like…in reality they were just red light bulbs instead of white. 

Highlights included:

  • The treadmill and and the single touch option to switch incline/speed
  • The red lights
  • Full length mirrors to check form

I truly enjoyed the class but it was insanely challenging. I know that fitnesses classes work for me because someone else provides the rules. It’s easier to slack when I pick the pace for my HIIT so having someone tell me what to put the treadmill on and for how long prevents me from cheating myself.

I will definitely be taking another class at Barry’s but I will not be doing their recommended 3-5 classes a week. I love that the class gave me workout inspiration and I can now create a similar workout for myself at the gym (saving me a cool $40 per class).

Have you tried Barry’s? Did you love it or is it not for you?

Invasion of the Sniffles

If a “HHAAA-CHOO!” rings out from another office I will immediately cower at my desk. The germs are coming. There isn’t enough Purell in the world to make me feel safe in this situation.

Cold season is year round when you work in an office setting. It doesn’t matter if it is an office of 15 people or 1,500 someone will always have a virus to share. My first year in the workplace I got so many colds I thought my body was rejecting adult life. I was also a temp and only had 3 paid sick leave days a year. It was rough.

Fortunately, my immune system caught up (around the same time I started working out more often – a coincidence, I think not) but occasionally the sniffles win the battle. On the days that they win and I can’t stay home sick I’ve turned to some homeopathic methods (and some not so natural ones too) to make my days manageable. *Warning! I’m obviously not a doctor or a medicine woman. This is just what works for me.*

  1. When the sniffles come in full force I take something with pseudoephedrine and/or advil. I hate taking medicine, I feel weird about taking things that the pharmacist checks my ID for but when you need to make it through the work day this will save your sick booty. I’m a huge fan of Alka Seltzer cold/flu if the weather is cold but on warm days I stick to something in a capsule.
  2. If the cold is flirting with me but hasn’t kicked in I use Zicam. I have no idea if it actually works but the placebo effect of the nasal swabs is sufficient. At the first sign of a cold or sore throat I buy a pack of these and start using them religiously until the sniffles are subdued.
  3. Once I’m in the thick of the cold, need daytime relief and can’t slather myself in Vick’s Vapo rub, I turn to peppermint essential oils. I love putting a little bit of peppermint on my temples to ease my stuffy sinuses.
  4. When I need immediate relief I attempt a forward fold. It may sound counterintuitive to bring your head between your knees with a headache but it definitely helps.

What are some of the ways you keep the sniffles at bay?

Fitness is Fun? My Relationship with Fitness

My relationship with fitness has been similar to many of my relationships. On and off, with a lot of drama and unnecessary pints of Ben & Jerry’s. We would flirt, I would run a half marathon or go to the gym for a couple months, but I wasn’t ready to really commit myself to my health, or end my drunken late night hook ups with Dominos and Taco Bell.

I’ve come to the conclusion that most of my fitness relationships failed because I jumped in a little too quickly. I went straight to the engagement without going on a first date. My success this round has come from slowly working my way into fitness.

In January of this year, I began with a 30 days of yoga challenge on the YouTube channel “Yoga with Adriene.” If I can be anyone (besides Katie of course) when I grow up I want to be Adriene. Her yoga videos are calming, silly and human. She renounces the yoga robot lifestyle. Her catch phrase is “find what feels good” and makes me feel like yoga is a choice – not a chore.  

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The Hangover Yogi Slayer, Adriene

She is a beautiful and gentle soul. Her videos reminded me of the positives of working out like being flexible, feeling that wonderful muscle shake, and getting stronger. But she also keeps it real — girl has a yoga for hangovers video. It reminds me that even if my alcohol calories will always stand between me and the six pack of my dreams — that’s ok. There is a safe yoga space for me on YouTube.

After completing a month of yoga, I decided it was time to get serious about fitness, but needed a program that was still free just in case I decided later I wanted to back out.

In February I began a blogilates fitness calendar from Cassey Ho. Cassey is the peppiest and most motivating fitness instructor, but damn she goes hard. I “completed” the February workout calendar by doing about half of the videos each day. Luckily, Cassie loved me enough to stick with me through to March.

I realized this relationship with fitness was getting serious around mid March. I began questioning my late night relationship with fast food and I began to call my long time lover Dominos less frequently (I’m sorry, I still love you D). I began to crave healthy food like veggies and chicken. I began asking Katie for fitness advice. I actually did all (read most) of the videos for each day on the March calendar. My body may not have changed much externally but I began to sleep a little better. I felt like maybe I was getting a bit stronger.

At the beginning of April, I bought the ring: PIIT28. PIIT28 consists of pilates and hiit workouts six days a week. My love of just three months, blogilates, had convinced me that Cassie’s new workout program could make me get the results I have been pining after. I purchased the workout program, but not the meal plan since I have so many weird dietary issues already. Like I mentioned earlier, Cassie is INTENSE and this program is no exception. This program had me feeling muscles I haven’t felt since I was doing ballet 6 days a week in high school. By Day 21 I began to notice small changes in my physical appearance (ok so I may have just lost my mind when one of my friend complimented my muscular arms) but more importantly after I finish the workouts I feel like a BEAST.

Lest you think I am all sunshine and rainbows, PIIT28 does have its negatives, which I think I understand well now after a few months of working with the program. I will be sure to post about those soon!

What workout programs have you been loving? Do you use free online programs? Do you also yell obscenities at your online workout coach to make you feel better? LMK!

-Em