Japan: Embracing All of the Food and Finding Balance

Photo by Dustin Eastment

Two weeks ago packed bags in hand, I headed to the airport for a much anticipated vacation to Japan. In December despite having had time off for the holidays I was still feeling unsatisfied when I happened to stumble upon cheap airfares to Tokyo. Without much of a pause we decided to book the trip for late Feb. From the moment the tickets were purchased I started to get that usual feeling related to vacation, a mix of excitement and anxiety. One might wonder why I would be anxious, its a vacation. Well my anxiousness is not about going somewhere I have never been before, or going to a place where I cant speak the language. Instead it is always related to exercise and how will I maintain my daily routine while traveling. Let’s just say I have a tendency to be a little neurotic when it comes to vacations and fitness. Yes on vacation I will enjoy my time. I eat, drink, relax, but I also make sure I exercise daily in order to keep up with all of the vacation’s pleasures. Now this is not a bad thing and by no means am I saying one should not exercise on vacation or one should only exercise on vacation. What I am saying is vacation is also a time to rest, unwind, and enjoy a moment you do not always get. You need to make sure you are being authentic to yourself, what you need, and finding balance.

I can recall a trip to Portugal a couple of years back where after the 6th day of running in a row piled on top of miles and miles of walking my body ached. It was sore, tired, and hating me. Yet I pushed myself to run everyday until I left, 10 days straight. Why? Because I could not be satisfied with walking being enough for exercise. I was so afraid of being able to enjoy all of the food and drinks unless I did my daily sweat session. I ignored my body and followed my mind. I have struggled for years with embracing rest days. Even though mentally I know we need them as that is when our bodies actually change and physically I can feel when it is needed, but yet I tend to power through regardless.  Over the past 2 years I have been working really hard to find balance in all that I do and I have made huge strides from where I have been.

So where am I going with all of this? I know, I digress. Well after the ticket was purchased, the anxiety bubbled up, I pushed it back down, and I decided this was going to be the trip I find balance with exercise on vacation. I was going to use this time to listen to my body and just enjoy being in an amazing place with my favorite person. But if I am being honest with you all, I think this was also the catalyst and part of the reason I catapulted myself into almost 3 full months of eating Whole 30 and removing booze from my diet. If I could control my food choices prior to my trip it would make me feel better equipped to enjoy my time fully in Japan. See, I am still not perfect 🙂

A surprise at our hotel. A great omen to start the trip!

Now onto the trip! We flew down to LA the night before our direct flight the next morning to Tokyo. We decided spending an extra $80 for a hotel room was worth saving the stress of having to get up at 3:00 am in San Francisco and what a great decision it was. My morning started with a 6 mile run and a 20 minute weight lifting session. One obsession I have before long flights is getting a good run in as I like stretching my legs out before they will be sitting for extended periods of time. I also had been working my body really hard the month leading up to vacation, so after this session I felt fully ready to rest and take the vacation fully on. I pre-packed a ton of food (as per usual) to have healthy options on the plane. We ended up eating everything I brought, plus some, so it was a good use of time and backpack space.

Our AirBnb

The first half of the trip we spent in Tokyo. I took the first 2 days off of working out. My body needed rest, which I had been ignoring for the last month. Plus I wanted to be able to wake up each morning in my bed and enjoy a cup of coffee in sweats with my love. It has been probably 5 years since I have taken 2 days off in a row from working out, so it felt luxurious and empowering. On our first full day in Tokyo we crammed as much in as humanly possible. It started with a trip to the Tsukiji Fish Market, which was by far my favorite experience in Tokyo. There were rows upon rows of stands of food. We tried a bit of it all. Every taste was amazing, eclectic, and different from anything you could find back home. Instead of walking while eating, something we are very accustomed to in the States, you were expected to finish each treat at the stand with where it was purchased. Upon finishing you would say thank you and dispose of your trash. This was just one of the many differences culturally I enjoyed.

As the day progressed we happened to stumble upon the Tokyo Marathon on our way to the Sensoji Temple.  It was an amazing race with various acts of entertainment. You can think of a parade with Geisha’s, dragons, and more. After we had enough of the race we walked through to the temples, obviously trying more snacks from vendors along the way. Our last stop that day was to the Shibuya shopping district with the famous large intersection where thousands upon thousands of people are walking.  For those of you who have watched Lost In Translation this will look very familiar. Seeing the swarms of people was just astonishing and to me this was the iconic image I get in my mind when I think of Tokyo.

Photo by Dustin Eastment

The next day after all of the pure craziness that is Tokyo we decided to do a day trip down to a little coastal town Kamakura to see the Great Buddah among other various temples. The town was quaint and chilly, but worth the trek after the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. We enjoyed the quaintness and charm the town had to offer along with some great shops and cobbled streets.

That evening we came back to Tokyo and went for a drink in the Golden Gai district prior to our reservations at the Robot Restaurant. First let me paint a picture of what the Golden Gai district is. It is all of these narrow, tiny alley ways lined up side by side. If you were to just walk by you would not twice about what was there, but hidden in these small streets are over 250 bars. The bars are small, holding maybe a handful of guests in each, which makes it feel special and private. The best I can equate it to is like finding an entire alleyway built on the premise of speakeasy’s. This was nothing like the neighboring district it was in, which is kind of like the Las Vegas strip. The alley’s were dark and if you did not know what to look for you would completely miss it. We were there on the early side of the evening so most of the bars were still closed, but we did happen to find one open where we enjoyed some sake before heading out to the show at the Robot Restaurant. Now the Robot Restaurant is like stepping foot inside a Las Vegas show, but one that meets neon Anime. When we arrived we grabbed some drinks and were escorted down to our seats to wait for the show to start. The best way to describe the show is being entertained with music, dancing, visual effects, lots of costumes, robotics, and floats. Think if Alice in Wonderland met Dinosaurs met Robots met glitter, and flashing lights. The show was definitely a once in a lifetime experience and worth checking out if you visit. But mind you this is a total tourist attraction.

Our AirBnb

On our 3rd morning in Tokyo I woke up with a ton of energy and felt ready for a run. Plus I always like to run in every city I stay in. I did a 5 mile trek around the neighborhood of our AirBnB. It was a chilly 38 degrees out, but felt good once I got up and moving. After my run we packed up and headed down to Kyoto where would spend the rest of our trip. We took the bullet train, which was a really cool experience. Fun fact is the bullet trains can go up to 350+ miles per hour. We found some delicious treats in the station and had a leisurely brunch as we went.

 

Upon arriving in Kyoto we checked out their Niskiki Market, which if you have been to San Francisco is very similar to going to the Ferry Building. Lots of treats and snacks to taste and buy. This was by far one of my favorite parts of the trip (can you tell I love to snack on food). The food was amazing, with samples of everything. It was similar to the market we went to in Tokyo, but inside and with even more amazing food and gifts. Everything was served either on a stick or in a hand size portion.We went hear starving for lunch and although it took us a lot of little bites, we left feeling full and satisfied from the whole experience. Even as I write this I am yearning to go back and relive that market just one more time. I think I may have to go to the Ferry Building this weekend to fulfill my snacking craving.

Photo by Dustin Eastment

The next morning I decided to do a 30 minute at home barre workout mixed with a little cardio prior to us heading out to the Fushimi Inari Shrine. This was my favorite outdoor adventure we had the entire trip and I can see why it is written up year after year as the best attraction in all of Japan. It is famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates. Very iconic and there were so many visitors with selfie sticks trying to get a photo in. Can I just mention I have never seen so many selfie sticks in all of my life!  The hike was about 2-3 hours with the first half all going straight up stairs. By the end of it I felt I had been on the stair master for a good couple of hours. After the hike complete we grabbed a drink and decided our bodies were in need of some TLC, so we went to a traditional Japanese massage house. I already am in love with traditional Thai massages  in San Francisco and the Japanese style was not too far off.  What was different is you laid on your side in more of a fetal position for the entirety of the massage, alternating sides throughout.  When the massage was done I felt amazing and ready to keep going on for the rest of the night. That evening we checked out an amazing cocktail speakeasy bar owned by a French man and operated by an Irish fellow, a Polish lady, and a German. It was fun to chat with all of them and hear what had brought them to Japan. A common theme you might guess, love for a Japanese girl.

Photo by Dustin Eastment

The next day I woke up and repeated my barre/cardio workout, although I made this one a little longer at 40 minutes. My legs felt on fire from the day before, but moving and stretching helped get me ready for the day. Our first adventure for the morning was to head over to a snow monkey park. What was cool about this place is  the monkeys are not caged and roam freely around you. Thus giving you the experience of almost like being in the wild with them. There was a steep 20-30 minute hike up to the top of the hill where they resided. Upon hitting the summit I was nice and sweaty despite the cold weather.

Photo by Dustin Eastment

After a couple of hours frolicking with the monkeys we hiked back down and walked over to the bamboo grove, another top tourist attraction. Pictures do not do the beauty of this place justice. The bamboo towers over you, making you feel small and insignificant. Light would peak through creating unbelievable picturesque moments. Along the way we grabbed a pork bun and sesame bun, which I only mention because it ended up being one of my favorite meals from the whole trip. That afternoon/early evening we decided to go to the sake brewery district and do sake tasting. One aged sake we tried tasted like pure whiskey. With a little buzz on and  having walked 30k+ steps during the day with little food we definitely indulged in a huge meal for dinner. It consisted of a lot of traditional food with our favorite, rice with a raw egg on top. You have to try! We were home and asleep by 8:30. Two crazy kids living it up in the big city.

Photo by Dustin Eastment

The next morning my legs were still exhausted so I took a rest day and also wanted to be ready for the 90 minute hike we had planned up in North Kyoto between two little towns, Kibune and Kurama. We started in Kurama hiking up the steep steps and meandering through the temples before getting on the path to the next town Kibune. The hike was beautiful and it was nice to be outside with nature. The hike took all morning so after we grabbed a quick bite and hiked back down to the bus station to head back to our place in the city. We had read about a craft beer movement starting to spur in Japan with Osaka becoming a central hub. So that afternoon after we decided to take the train down south and test out a few of the breweries. In my true snacking nature we got a little appetizer at each place with the beer. Allowing us to taste a few various things. After we had our fill of delicious beer we headed back to Kyoto.

Once back in Kyoto we ventured to a ramen shop for dinner. Most of our evenings consisted of sake and ramen for dinner as Dustin was obsessed with the dish. On this night we found an awesome spot where you had to order at a vending machine outside and bring your ticket into the restaurant to get served. A very common practice in Tokyo, but challenging when the menu is only in Japanese. Thank god for google translator. The ambiance of this place was on point and the food was amazing. Perfect end to our last night in Kyoto. This was by far our favorite ramen stop on the trip and weeks later Dustin is still talking about it.

The next morning was my last day in Japan. I woke up with a ton of energy and decided to go for a run. What started off as a quick 5 mile run ended up being 7 miles as my body felt good and it was nice to move it. I ran all around and through the imperial palace, a short jaunt from our place. Next we headed on the bullet train back to Tokyo where I went with Dustin to check into his next AirBnb. I had to be back in San Francisco for work, but Dustin was tagging on a few more days to explore Tokyo. Our last meal together was at a little restaurant I managed to find which had amazing food and was on the oldest gold fish farm in Tokyo. Not bad for a last minute find and a great end to the trip.

Overall our trip was amazing. It consisted of a lot of sake, beer, ramen, markets, outdoor adventures, and a mass amount of walking. When I say a mass amount on average throughout the trip we walked anywhere from 10-16 miles a day, with our average coming in at 12-13 miles. I left feeling in love with the Japanese culture. The way they approach living. Their cities are clean and safe. People ride bikes without locking them up, kids 6 years old take the subway by themselves to school. Everything a big city should be. Their food is fresh. Their people are polite, respectful and I am now constantly thinking about how I can continue to bring a little bit of Japan into my everyday life. If anyone gets the chance I highly recommend checking it out. Also happy to give any tips and tricks I have. Enjoy!

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Topics to Enjoy Over Coffee

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Happy Monday friends! We finally have a break from all of the rain in San Francisco, therefore I am trying to get in every ray of sunshine I can before the rain comes again. It is amazing how you can take something like sunshine for granted till you don’t have it for a few weeks on end. It has brought a whole new appreciation for mother nature, which is just nice to stop and reflect on.

I am officially 44 days into my Whole 30. I keep debating when I am going to stop. I have a little bit of an addictive personality so it makes it hard to give up something when I start. Watching each day pass onto the next and seeing them all add up to a sum total feels like a big accomplishment.  With that said, I am not feeling all of the amazingness I had hoped I would. Maybe it is just me wanting it to be more then it really is?

At the end of the month I will be heading off to Japan for an 8 day vacation!!  I am planning on eating and drinking all of the food and sake to my hearts content. Therefore I decided I may need to start re-introducing foods this week so I don’t defeat part of the whole goal of Whole 30, to see if you have any food sensitivities. I am also trying to pull back on my fruit intake as I have currently been using it as a crutch for my sugar cravings and frankly eat an absurd amount. Yesterday and today I have gone cold turkey, which may not sound like a huge accomplishment, but trust me it is.  Fingers crossed I can keep up withholding. Goal as of now is to try and be fruit and alcohol free till the trip starts. I am starting  dairy for re-introduction as I just miss my greek yogurt. And if I am giving up fruit a girl has to have something to look forward to!  Then I am thinking gluten free grains and maybe soy and legumes. Will keep you all posted!

Interesting People:

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Tim Ferris: A couple of weeks ago a couple of us went to see Tim Ferris speak at the Castro Theater. I was introduced to Tim’s work through my partner Dustin as he is a big fan. Tim is best known for being a national best selling author, with his most note worthy book being “The 4-Hour Work Week.” In addition he is an entrepreneur, a pubic speaker, and has been an angel investor. He saw  potential in some of the top companies within Silcone Valley before anyone else did. For instance Facebook, Uber, and Twitter just to name a few. He hosts a weekly podcast, which I love not only for his content but his voice as well. It is just memorizing. Overall he is an impressive man and constantly pushes himself to the limit for self experimentation. It was an informative and inspiring talk and I highly recommend checking him out!

Valentines Day: Although I am attached and very much in love, I have never been a big fan of Valentines Day. Maybe it was all of the years of being single and having to see happy couples celebrate with flowers and expensive dinners, where I spent many years with girlfriends, over drinking, and sharing in all of our awful dating stories. With that said I thought I would share a couple of articles I found interesting this week. And they are not about being madly in love.

Here’s The Porn People Will Be Watching on Valentine’s Day

These New Burger King “Adult Meals” Come With A Toy — And It’s Exactly What You Think

Shocking Valentine’s Day Stats That Will Make You Rethink Your Marketing

Podcast: How I Built This– A friend shared this podcast with me a couple of months ago and I am obsessed! As the website states “How I Built This is a podcast about innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists, and the stories behind the movements they built. Each episode is a narrative journey marked by triumphs, failures, serendipity and insight — told by the founders of some of the world’s best known companies and brands. If you’ve ever built something from nothing, something you really care about — or even just dream about it.” I highly reccomend checking it out! My favorite ones thus far are the founders of Instagram, Air BnB, and Patagonia.

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Whole 30 Week 3 and Workouts

 

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Wow, I cant believe I am 21 days into my Whole 30. This week was pretty much on cruise control, thank god! Since I was home from traveling I was able to cook  and prep most of my meals, which makes a huge difference. Typically I like to do most of my meal prep for the week on Sundays. It is a life saver to make a big dish so I have something to eat for lunch throughout the week. This past weekend I ended up having lots of time with friends, so my Sunday routine was thrown off. This meant I had to do more cooking at home after work when all I wanted to do was sit and un wind. My other saving grace this week was Whole Foods Hot Bar. It has saved me when I didn’t get my usual veggies roasted and I needed to grab some quick to add to a salad. My only complaint with Whole Foods is they use a lot of Canola Oil in their food, which technically is complaint in the Whole 30, but not encouraged. Oh well, a girl has to make sacrifices and for me that was it.

So what should I be feeling 21 days in? In reading the Whole 30 guidelines by this time I should be in the stage they call Tiger Blood. What is Tiger Blood you ask? Well according to their website it was a phrase they took from the actor Charlie Sheen (which who knows what he was using it for) and then attached their own definition to it. Essentially Tiger Blood is the part of the program where you are passed the biggest hurdles, i.e. the cravings and “hangover” part. From the website, “Your energy is through the roof, you’ve kicked the cravings, you’re experimenting with new, delicious food, and you’ve finally got the time to notice that your clothes fit better, your workouts are stronger, and you are generally more awesome.”

For myself it is not this dramatic transformation I anticipated. However there are definitely some noticeable differences. I would say if you are not looking for them, it could be easy to miss. Let’s start with the more noticeable ones. First my carvings for non Whole 30 Foods is pretty low or non-existent. I dont have any urge right now for anything processed, sugary, bread/grain like, or even alcohol. Which if you know me a glass of wine, bread, and cheese plate are my 3 essentials if I would be trapped on a desert island.  I was also really nervous about not drinking for a month due to the social impact. Instead I have been trying to spend more time with friends outside of happy hour. This has lead to many a coffee, breakfast, or workout class dates. It is a friendly reminder are friends love us regardless of what we put in our mouths.

Next and probably the most impactful is I am sleeping sooooooooo much more soundly. If you can relate, there is nothing worse then waking up all throughout the night. You wake up feeling almost as bad as if you had gone to bed at 2:00am. So to be able to get a full nights sleep night after night is incredible. Just to be fair though, we also did just buy a new King Bed around the same time this started, so that may have something to do with it as well.

My pants are fitting better. This was something I noticed after the first round I did of Whole 30 back in December and was one of the biggest reasons I wanted to continue the program. After years of practically starving myself I just can’t ever go back to that place. So it is nice to feel like I am not depriving myself of any food and I am still able to see an impact. I have also had some other things I started around December 1st that could be attributing, but regardless of what it is I will take it.  I am not sure what this equates to weight wise as we are not allowed to weigh ourselves on the program, which is fine by me as I broke up with my scale over a year and a half ago and have never looked back!

Lastly and the least noticeable is my energy. I wear a fit bit everyday and track my steps. Since starting the Whole 30 I have noticed without even trying I have added an extra 2-4k steps a day. This is huge if you really think about it as it is an extra 1-2 miles a day. Without trying my body has just wanted to move more. I have also found I have energy to do more “life” stuff like go through my closet, pay bills, cook, get together with friends, etc.  If I had not been paying really close attention to this one I may have completely over looked it.

To summarize, I may not be Tiger Blood yet, but I am seeing the Eye of the Tiger for sure.  One week left to go, although I am not going to lie, I might just keep this party going as long as I can. It feels good to feel good, you know?

Workouts:

Sunday: 60 Minute Barre Class at the Bar Method

Monday: 50 minute spinning class at Body Rok

Tuesday: 50 minute Barre Class at Mint Studio, 26 minute 4.15 mile run

Wednesday: 50 minute Spinning Class at Core 40

Thursday: 60 minute training session with personal trainer. Lots of legs and arms! Could hardly walk the next day

Friday: 50 minute spinning class at Body Rok

Saturday: 33 minute 5.15 mile run, 60 minute Barre Class at Pop Physique

Whole 30 Week 2 and Workouts

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Just last week I sat perched in one of my favorite neighborhood coffee shops writing my first Whole30 post feeling inspired. As I sipped on my decaf coffee with my Whole30 approved nutpod creamer, now a staple in my oversized purse, I felt confident, in control, and motivated. Sure I had been ravenous with hunger all week and yes I had been snacking way too much, but I was eating whole nourishing foods, most of which was prepared by my own two hands. I looked forward to the days ahead where if history repeated itself I would be feeling amazing and questioning why I ever ate any other way. As I write today, feeling annoyed and slightly discouraged,  I can’t help but think what a difference a week can make.

What happened in a week you might ask? Two words, Orlando Flordia. Yep, I had my first work trip of the year. Now managing eating healthy while traveling is nothing new to me. Years ago I embraced being “that girl” who had almost an entire carry on bag with homemade meals and snacks to last me through a good chunk of my trip. I am also quite skillful at researching what is around my hotels and typically have my workouts and grocery store lined up in order to prep for the week. Going into this trip I found one of my favorite barre studios along with a Whole Foods half a mile from the Hotel. As I boarded my plane on Monday, bag full of food in hand, I thought this week was going to be a breeze!

The first day was just that, a breeze. I had my  pre-made snacks and found an awesome all veggie salad at the airport from one of my favorite restaurants in the city Plant Organic Cafe.  I dressed the salad with my carry on sized coconut aminos, saving some calories from the high caloric dressing included with the salad. Upon arriving to the hotel I un-packed and headed over to Whole Foods. I walked up and down the islets at the hot food bar reading every items ingredients thoroughly as if I was going to be tested on it later. As I passed by each delicious looking veggie or meat dish I found there was either soy, dairy, or sugar hiding in it. I gradually became more and more annoyed with the fewer and fewer options I had to eat. Must we cook everything in soy or add sugar!  But at last I found some good options and went back to my hotel room to eat, watch Netflix, and prepare for the couple of long days ahead of me.

Day 2 started fine. I brought breakfast and lunch with me, a combo of groceries from Whole Foods and snacks I had brought with me. Later that evening my team wanted to go out to dinner. I of course wanted to be a good sport and spend time with them, regardless of my dietary needs. I was determined to make it work! At the restaurant I did my do diligence. I asked for the gluten free menu and after reading it thoroughly landed on the chicken lettuce cups with cashew cheese and a couple of sides of steamed veggies. As soon as the waiter laid down the beautiful plate in front of me I took one look at the chicken and knew there was some sort of sauce on it which would not be compliant. I had to be “that girl” and send it back t to be replaced with plain grilled chicken. I left the restaurant feeling proud of myself, I had navigated through my first dining experience out.

Later that evening as I laid in bed my stomach started to feel off. I decided to go online and look at the menu again just to make sure. Apparently the regular menu had more details then the gluten free and right there with the cashew cheese it said peanuts and soy sauce. Um not ok! What if someone who was gluten free also had a peanut allergy, it would have been nice for them to include that information in the regular menu.  Immediately my heart sank. The Whole 30 rules are very strict. You break a rule you start over, no matter what.

I sat there contemplating and debating back and forth on whether I follow the rules or carry on. Starting over meant the last 10 days would have been wasted. The sauce was on the side and I hardly used it, but rules are rules. However this was not a personal slip or from a lack of trying or lack of willpower. I was annoyed, but finally I decided I would just march on as if nothing had happened. I needed to feel motivated to keep going and giving up the last 10 days was not going to do it. Plus I figured at day 30 I could just add one more day. Then after that day, I will add on one more, and so on until hopefully I could make up the extra 10 days.

The rest of the trip and week ended up being smooth, as I just stuck to the meal prep I had. However I started to feel bored with what I was eating and frustrated in how every restaurant prepared food. As the week started to come to a close my emotions started to take a tole. I was now 13 days into the program and not feeling the amazingness I felt by this time on the last go around. Maybe it was the slip up I had, maybe it was the 3 hour time change with the trip, maybe it was the serious sleep deprivation, either way I was not feeling the ease of motivation to continue. Luckily I am pretty determined so once I set my mind to something I will see it through. Although it does make it a hell of a lot easier when you feel like you are getting something out of it. Oh well, now I am just hoping with this next week the tides will change and my body will become the amazing temple I know it can be.

Workouts:

Sunday: Rest Day

Monday: 55 minute spinning class at Uforia Studio.

Tuesday: 40 minute 6 mile Run. Plus LOTS of extra walking today

Wednesday: 60 minute Pure Barre Class. 1 mile run. 20 minute heavy weight set.

Thursday: 60 minute Pure Barre Class. Was going to run, but woke up with my legs extremely tired after walking 13+miles the day before on top of my workout. I am trying to do a better job of listening to my body.

Friday: 55 minute spinning class at Lavation. This studio is not my favorite, but is only a half mile from my house. Proximity just wins sometimes.

Saturday: 60 minute Burn Class. Burn is a mix of cardio ( burpees, mountain climbers, sprints, etc.) plus weights, and a pilates board with bands. Great full body workout

Welcome to December, Let’s Chat!

 

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Happy Friday! I thought it would be fun to share some things I am finding interesting, thought provoking, or just simply fun this week. Enjoy!

I love reading and I love celebrities, so when you have celebrity’s who write books, there is a good chance I am going to read it. Luckily celebrity memoir’s and health/fitness/beauty books have become very trendy so there does not seem to be any lack of content out there. Last night I went to an event by Book Passage to see Anna Kendrick talk about her new book, “Scrappy Little Nobody.” I find it fascinating to watch celebrities in real life. We become so accustomed to the characters they portray on our TV’s or on the big screen and can easily forget that is not who they are as people.  Anna seemed to be exactly what you would expect. Bubbly, confident, full of energy, funny, she was non-stop throwing out zingers and one liners to the audience, however it seemed to be following a well rehearsed “real life” her. I left wondering if there was much authenticity or was it just the version of herself she wanted portrayed. Either way I have yet to read the book, but I imagine it is going to be amusing and filled with lot’s of humor.

Patagonia’s Black Friday sales hit $10 million — and will donate it all–  You know how people have spirit animals? Well for me, Patagonia is my spirit company. I dont know what it is about the brand, especially since I tend to be brand-agnostic, but I have always loved them. My crush started in high school. Anytime I saw anyone was wearing Patagonia I felt like they must be the most adventurous or authentic person out there. In college the admiration continued. I did a whole independent research symposium on outdoor retailers and their efforts on sustainability, which without dating myself was prior to anyone knowing the “Sustainability.” To no surprise Patagonia was leading the pack with all of the efforts. Next I read Yvon Chouinard’s book  “Let My People Go Surfing” right upon it’s release in 2005, fascinated by the man behind the brand. Which if you have not read it I highly recommend! Patagonia continues to impress me as a company. They have a clear cut vision and purpose, which is acted on continuously in their business practices. This year they made headlines by pledging to donate everything they made on Black Friday to help fund over 100 environmentally friendly companies around the world. Now that is something to be inspired about this holiday season!

9 Delicious & Gorgeous Bay Area Cookbooks to Gift This Holiday Season– I love cookbooks! I think there are two types of people when it comes to cookbooks. Those who use them religiously when cooking and try every recipe they can. And then  the second group of people like me who will try maybe a recipe or two, but mainly buy them to look through all of the pretty pictures and keep on a bookshelf to show off. Here is a list of beautiful books for either gifting to yourself or others all from local chefs.

ModCloth’s First Store Is Exactly What Shopping Should Be– This article appealed to me on a few different levels. The first being I work in eCommerce and daily research articles describing what is moving and happening within the segment. Second Modcloth is partially based in San Francisco, so again I found this interesting as the company is close to home. Lastly I personally found it very easy to relate to based on my own personal experiences. 9 years ago I had my first trip ever to Las Vegas with 2 of my girlfriends. Upon landing and checking into our hotel, we decided to go out shopping and find new outfits to wear out for the evening. My girlfriends became ecstatic when we passed by Betsy Johnson. They ran in, grabbing beautiful dresses off of the rack to try on. My stomach dropped before even entering the store. I knew there was not going to be anything in my size, which at the time was a 12-14.  As my girlfriends came out of the fitting rooms sporting their size 4 figures, they looked at me puzzled. Why was I not trying on dresses? I simply explained nothing was really my style and therefore was just passing. This was a bold faced lie! I loved all of the dresses. They were beautiful and it hurt me to not be able to try them on with my friends. Mod Cloth is looking to create a shopping space where all women can feel confident, sexy, and equal. This is a concept I can get behind. It is these small things that may seem insignificant to some, but can be make or break another someone else.

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A 70lbs Weight Loss Through Pictures

As you all know I started my weight loss journey 5 years ago today with a New Years resolution to lose 20lbs. At the time I never would have imagined this resolution would end up resulting in losing a total  of 70lbs and changing my life in ways words could never explain.  When I look back now at each phase of my weight loss I can remember all of the numerous feelings I went through at every stage and milestone I passed. To this day I am in awe of the dedication, perseverance,  and commitment I had.  With today being my 5 year anniversary from starting the new me, I figured there is no better day to share the journey I went through then today.

Starting Weight

I have pretty much been un-happy with my body since I can remember. In elementary school I recall stepping on the scale with my friends and not understanding why the number I saw below me was so much higher then everyone else’s. Mine was 3 digits, while their’s was just 2. I remember asking myself why did this happen to me? Why was I different then all of my friends? Couldn’t I just be the same? I never quite understood how your body weight worked. I always just assumed being slightly bigger was my destiny, it was in my DNA, and there was nothing I could do about it. I dreamed about being thinner. I would watch movies and idealize the tall slender girls. I would lay in bed fantasizing what it would be like to be one of them. Maybe one day my body would change and I could be like them, I could be like my friends.

As I grew older I went through various stages with my weight. I would lose 10lbs over a few months followed by gaining 15lbs back. This cycle would continue year after year resulting in a net weight gain every year.  After college my body finally found a weight it decided to stay at. This was the weight I would be for the next 5 years. I was in my early to mid twenties and accepted this was where my body wanted to be at. I had a great job, fantastic family & friends, so maybe we just cant have it all. Then on a New Years Eve night 5 years ago I laid in bed crying because I felt too large to go out with friends. It was at that moment that I decided to make a change. Screw what I thought was my destiny. I would make a new body for myself.

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At 15 Lbs Lost

My original goal was to lose 20lbs. The first 15 lbs came off fast, in less then 6 weeks. I was eating 1,200 calories a day and working out 3 times a week. When I hit the first 15lb loss I remember feeling this sense of  amazement with myself. For the first time in my life I felt in control of my body and empowered. Waking up every morning was like Christmas Day. I was so excited to get on the scale to see the progress I was making. The lower the number got, the more it drove me to continue. I felt confident, motivated, and was dedicated to continuing to lose weight.

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At 30 Lbs Lost

When I hit 30lbs down my parents came to visit. I remember picking them up at the airport and my mom looked right at me and then continued to look around for her daughter. When she finally recognized it was me her mouth dropped and she ran to give me a big hug. I felt this pride in myself I had never had before. It made the feeling even better when I saw how proud my parents were of me. It had been 3 months since I had started. At this point I was eating the same amount of calories, which to be honest left a lot of days going to bed still feeling hungry. However that slight hunger was worth what I would get out of it, weight loss. I upped the amount of time I was working out to 4-5 days a week. If I worked out more then the weight would come off just that much faster.

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At 40 Lbs Lost

I went back home to Colorado for the first time. I was so excited to see all of my friends from growing up and college. I was proud of my body for the first time in my life and wanted everyone to see the hard work I was doing. I loved the positive feedback and support I received from everyone, but it was really what I felt for myself that was the most empowering. I had been working hard for 5 months. I was now addicted to fitness. Working out slowly increased to 6-7 days a week. I loved the feeling I had when I was moving. I would lay in bed at night with excitement to wake up and go running the next morning. I wanted to be in constant movement.

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At 50 Lbs Lost

I started to feel like a whole new person. I had never dreamed I would lose 50lbs! It felt so good! I was becoming the girl I had laid in bed at night dreaming of becoming one day. I was confident and secure in ways I had never been before. I was ready to take on the world.

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At 55 Lbs Lost

Feeling like I was a sexy bad ass at 50 lbs down, only meant I felt even more so at 55lbs. The smaller I got the longer it took the weight to come off. However just 5lbs started to make a big difference on my frame. It was at this weight I met the love of my life. For the first time I felt in love with myself, which meant I was open to loving someone else. At this point I was still working out everyday, but had slowly starting to increase my calories. It was really hard for me to start eating more. When you get used to being very restrictive with your food, you start to feel a loss of control when you allow yourself to indulge and enjoy more.

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At 60 Lbs Lost

I was not intending to lose more weight, but the healthier I became the more I obsessed with having a healthy lifestyle. I cut out all splendia and diet soda, which had been a crutch for me in weight loss. I gave up a lot of processed food and really focused on making sure all of my meals were with whole and real foods. As I made these changes the weight continued to melt away. It was slow now, a 1lb-2lbs a month vs the 10lbs a month when I started. However at this point it was not as much about losing the weight as it was about giving my body the right fuel.

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At 70 Lbs Lost

I never would have dreamed I would have dropped 70lbs. With every pound I dropped the sexier and more confident I felt. For the first time in my life people called me skinny and tiny. The lower the number got on the scale, the more accomplished I felt. I was in love with my new body, something I never dreamed would be possible.

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The last few years I have relatively maintained my weight. There was a time where I got too skinny, yes below the 70lbs weight loss, and there are times like currently where I am a few lbs heavier then I would like to be. However at the end of the day I have been the same pant/dress size for the last 4 years, which to me equals success. Weight loss is not easy and maintenance is even harder, but for anyone who is looking to make a change I hope my story can help motivate, inspire, and prove that you can control your own destiny. You are stronger then you know you are and your body is capable of anything. So if today is the first day of a new healthier you, believe in yourself. You can do it!

Balance, Learning to Bring it to Life

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Balance. Such a simple word, yet a word with so much meaning behind it. What is it to have balance? To live life not in extremes, but in steadiness. Why do some of us struggle to live a balanced life? We all have areas in our life where we find maintaining an equilibrium is hard. For some of us it is with work, where we find ourselves always connected. It is Saturday morning, the first day off from a long work week. You tell yourself you are going to log into work just for a minute to check e-mail really quick, 2 hours later you are still at it. For other’s it may be spending money. The newest tech gadget has launched. You did just buy something similar 6 months ago, but you want the latest and greatest.  Even though you may not have the  money to buy it, you somehow find a way to justify the purchase. For some it is balancing a healthy life with exercise and eating. You find when you are committed to a diet you are on track. You workout everyday, eat right, you have control. Then you miss a day, then another, next thing you know it has been weeks and you are eating everything you want, regardless of your original goal.

Why is balance so hard to not only have but to maintain? Over the last year I have been trying to learn how to balance my healthy lifestyle more. For those of you who know me well it is no surprise to know I have been extreme over the last few years with health and fitness. Actually let’s be more accurate with that statement, obsessed. It was all encompassing in my mind, body, and soul.

From the moment I woke up in the morning it was all about my workout, which was always pre-scheduled the night/week before. There was no deviation from the plan. If this meant getting up at 5:00am on a Saturday morning in order to fit it in, then that is what would happen. I could not miss a day of working out. If I could not workout first thing in the morning then it would be all I would think about during the day. When was I going to get it in? I would not be able to enjoy time with friends or loved ones. I was only thinking about my workout. I needed it, had to get it over with. In  my mind a missed day meant my body would drastically change, fall apart.

After my workout, came food. I fixated on calories, a tool I could not have done my weight loss without, but was it really needed with maintenance? Time spent with friends at restaurants lead me down a dark path of stress. What would I eat? I would not know how foods were prepared and thus the calorie intake. This then lead to me over exercising during the day to be able to preemptively  counteract any food sabotage. A 5 mile run followed by an hour spinning class might just be enough to allow me to enjoy a night out.

Next all of my freetime was spent reading books on food, diet, and nutrition. What were the new diets out there I could try? Maybe I needed to be gluten free or paleo. If I ate a certain way would I feel even better? What knowledge could I gain from others? Learning every last detail I could made me feel empowered, in control.

Now is the part in the story where I am suppossed to come and say through lot’s of hard work I have now found the balance. I no longer obsess about food, working out, and health. I go out to eat with friends and never once worry about the calories because I am listening to my body. I wake up on Saturday morning and decide to skip the gym to spend time with my boyfriend instead. I have found the secret to live a life perfectly balanced.

Well sorry folks, I am still working on it. Like most, finding balance is hard. For me I honestly did not attempt to find balance until I got a wake up call over a year ago on how my intensity was hurting my relationships with the ones I loved. I have also hit a point where my body is tired and it just can’t do what I forced it to do for so many years. Through this I can say I have become way more balanced. I still workout everyday, a schedule pre-planned the week before. I have learned to except there will be days where a long hike or just a barre class is good enough. Although I do have to fight the demons in my head pushing me to work my body more. I still constantly think about the food I eat, but again try to remind myself a glass of wine and a cheese plate with a friend will bring me more pleasure then roasted vegetables at home in my sweat pants. Why work so hard on a body if you are not able to enjoy it? Some days I listen to my own advice, other days I dont.

I love working out and eating healthy. It is now part of my DNA. It brings me joy, self esteem, self love, energy, and overall happiness. However so does being social, resting, relaxation, food, and alcohol. In order to truly be the person I want to be it is continuing to learn how to balance between the two. So for anyone else out there who is struggling with balance, you are not alone. All I can say is keep working on finding that perfect point right in between. Changing behavior and routine is hard, even scary. But just getting a glimpse on how a balanced life can be is all the encouragement I need to keep going.

 

Health & Fitness Articles of the Week – 10/22/15

Crossing the Finish Line 25 Pounds Lighter– I love reading personal stories about health and fitness. The struggles people go through, how they overcome them. There is something so comforting about knowing you are not alone out there. To hear others face similar struggles as yourself just makes you feel connected. This story is just that, a personal struggle with re-finding the inner athlete.

Neurogastronomy 101: The Science of Taste Perception-I loved this article, very fascinating. “This new science, called neurogastronomy, merges the science and culinary worlds by studying the human brain and the behavior that influences how we experience eating and drinking. Essentially, neurogastronomy shakes up how we look at food and taste: Instead of investigating how researchers can alter the taste of food by re-engineering what we eat, this science concentrates on how we can re-wire the brain to perceive food differently.”

How Agriculture Controls Nutrition Guidelines– “For the first time ever, the expert panel had included in its recommendations some mention of sustainability, acknowledging that questions about human nutrition cannot be divorced from the logistics of how this nutrition is procured. It is impossible to keep politics out of nutrition, as long as nutrition is still received via food, and food is still a good that is produced and consumed.”

McDonald’s just committed to 100% cage-free eggs– I came across this article last month and thought it would be a great one to post. Alas life has been a bit busy and because of that I have not posted as many articles as I would like. However I thought this article was still relevant and worthwhile to read. I am a big advocate on big companies making changes.”The super-sized chain announced that it would fully transition its Canadian and American egg supply to cage-free eggs over the next 10 years. The chain attributed the change to consumer preferences.'”

 

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Dailey Fest- A Morning doing Barre in the Sun

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I first started incorporating barre into my fitness routine about 2 years ago after having a lower back stress fracture. Up until then running and body pump had been my two main workouts. Over the years as I started to continue to increase my intensity with these two workouts my body could no longer take all of the excessive pounding and forced a break on me, literally. At the time it was one of the scariest places I had ever been mentally. How would I survive 6 months without running? What if I gained weight? How could I tell people I was a runner if I was not actually running? Like anything in life you learn to survive with what you can control. For me that was finding new ways to keep active without pounding on my body. It was with this break I found my obsession, barre classes.

The first studio I went to in the city was the Dailey Method in the Mission-Castro district. For me it was love at first site. The class was hard, while also being fun. The music was current and up beat,  the teachers were helpful while still providing adjustments. It was a great workout, but one I always looked forward to. I found I never dreaded it like I would some days with running or spinning. I was always excited to go, the more classes in a week the better. For the last couple of years barre has become a huge part of my everyday life. So when I received an e-mail with a barre event in the city I knew I had to attend!

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Last Saturday in celebration of the Dailey Method’s 15 year anniversary Jill Dailey the founder had a barre celebration in the Presido Park. There were several fitness and health vendors there along with various teachers from all of the Dailey Method studios across the bay area. The morning started with Jill Dailey leading a 60 minute mixed class at 10:00 am. I was wondering how the class was going to be structured considering usually a good chunk of the class is done with the barre and several different props. I was impressed with how creative Jill was with the class. For instance when it came to barre work barre work everyone had to team up with their neighbor for stability and use them in place of a barre.

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After the first class was complete there was a 15 minute break before the 45 minute interval class started. The interval class was lead by 5 of the different studio owners taking turns on the microphone. What I liked about the interval class is it was fast paced and really got your heart rate going. This is something I find hard to achieve in barre classes. So when it does, I know it was a good one. I am not going to lie, but the end of the almost 2 hours of barre I was a sweaty mess! All in all it was an amazing morning. I loved being outside in the sun practicing something I love with others, feeling like part of a community.  I had hoped to bring a friend to join me in the festivities, but alas my fellow fitness pals were all busy. I deiced I wanted to go to bad to let going alone stop me. Sometimes it is good to push ourselves, to not let obstacles get in our way, and if you want to do something go do it. I had no regrets on my morning date with myself and the other 100+ barre fanatics in the city.

Health & Fitness Articles of the Week – 09/08/15

What Science Can Teach Us About Flexibility– A friend of mine sent this article over  to me the other week and with how busy life has been I am just now getting around to reading it. It is a rather long and science based article, but has a lot of really good information on stretching and flexibility. “In yoga, “flexibility” is an attitude that invests and transforms the mind as well as the body. But in Western, physiological terms, “flexibility” is just the ability to move muscles and joints through their complete range. It’s an ability we’re born with, but that most of us lose. “Our lives are restricted and sedentary, so our bodies get lazy, muscles atrophy, and our joints settle into a limited range.”

Why Are Millennials So Obsessed With Food?- It is true, my generation loves food. Living in San Francisco it is part of your DNA to have food be a major part of your life. Now I am not just talking about any kind of food. I am talking about organic, natural, flavorful, unique food. We are spoiled to live in a city where there is a million in one amazing places to eat at. Everything is an experience, from the taste to the way a dish is plated. “In a digital-first era, many people latch onto food as something that engages all of the senses and brings people together in physical space.”

5 Ways to Think Yourself Skinny: The Harvard Study That’ll Shock You–  Being mindful is important. It not only helps you to be present, but it helps to make sure you are really in tune with your body. “Your mindset mediates the connection between exercise and health — that you may not be reaping the full mental and physical benefits of the “exercise” you do each day, but that, with some mental practice, you can totally lower your BMI, blood pressure, etc.”

6 Things To STOP Doing If You Want To Lose Weight”– I read this article and throughout it kept thinking to myself, “Yep this is all true and makes perfect sense. Why dont I do more of this?” It is good to check in sometimes with yourself, great tips!

5 Ways to Pack a Better Work Lunch– I bring my breakfast and lunch every day to work, well 95% of the time. It does get tough figuring out ways to spice it up and keep it healthy. Once you get into a routine though it does make it a lot easier. This article has some solid tips in it.

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