How I survived a month without alcohol or sugar (and lost a LOT of body fat)

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I know, you’re thinking: “she’s crazy, right?” Well… I might be, but it worked! Yep, I’ve continued to keep this going past the one month mark and had no intention of doing so. After moving back to Seattle, I realized that coming off of a huge 6-month traveling tour took it’s toll on my gut as well as my mood. I’ve spent hours thinking about how food affects my body and mind and I soon realized that it wasn’t about cutting out cheese and butter. After reading a few books outlining the benefits of a diet with no sugar or simple carbs and an increase in healthy fat, I finally decided to commit to it. Just like that…commitment happened.

This new approach to eating began with baby steps. When I started to analyze my habits, I noticed that every time I’d drink wine or any alcohol, the rest of my diet would slightly slip. On nights I omitted the wine, I’d usually eat a delicious salad with hefty vegetables and sugar-free, healthy salad dressing for dinner. But whenever I’d drink even one glass of wine, I’d sit one my couch and start snacking on processed popcorn or ‘healthy’ chips. Then, that jolt of energy would kick-start my cravings for bread, chocolate, parmesan, pasta, pizza and everything else I was trying to avoid. I had never associated the two habits before, but once I paid attention, it made sense.

The first two weeks of cutting out alcohol were easy. My routines continued without issue: working out, lots of decaf tea and plenty of new books. But once social events began to fill the calendar, avoiding alcohol became far more difficult than I thought it would be. My friends and I would go to dinner and everyone would order a glass of something. But rather than sip on a cabernet or merlot, I’d just order boring old water and sip it begrudgingly as the rest of them cheered with wine soaked smiles. To add more to the struggle, I traveled to San Diego on a weekend business trip, which was filled with evening parties, networking events and business dinners. This is where the learning curve made itself even more known. During moments when I’d normally think nothing of a drink or two, I was suddenly glancing around the room like an ugly duckling with no social safety net.

I didn’t drink casually because I necessarily wanted to, but because it is a cultural norm. Conversation flowed more easily, happy buzzed vibes gave me energy and I’d enjoy a night out a whole lot more. When I stopped drinking, there was a constant, uneasy feeling of FOMO, (fear of missing out) on nights where everyone would go out to bars. It just didn’t sound fun to soberly watch drunk people laugh and spill their beers all night. ‘Why don’t we go to the park? How about a picnic? Laser tag anyone?’ I’d think to myself.

Noticing the social expectations of having a drink made me feel somewhat frustrated. I’m not an alcoholic, but it was eye-opening to watch how much of society revolves around drinking alcohol.

Soon though, something interesting and unexpected occurred. Once I set the standard for not drinking, I noticed my friends absorbing my actions. When I’d say, ‘No thanks, I’m not drinking tonight,’ they would say, ‘Oh, yeah I don’t think I want anything either.’ Then, we’d order hot water with lemon instead and guess what… we’d STILL enjoy each other! How incredible!

Kicking alcohol was just the start. The confidence I mustered during those initial thirty days led me into my next challenge: NO SUGAR. Cringe-worthy, right? I didn’t know what shutting out sugar would be like, but I wanted to discover what else I could accomplish.

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Normally, I wouldn’t consider reading food labels because I usually eat whole, unprocessed foods, but once I started paying attention to what contained sugar, my habits again became even more obvious. Initially, I decided to cut all desserts. Yes, this was insanely challenging, but I remained bold and strict. (Even when someone brought Top Pot Doughnuts to work). Now THAT was excruciating. But every time I forced myself to walk away from those sugary foods, it got easier and easier. The first three times I nearly ruined my streak, but soon enough there wasn’t a question of whether I’d eat it or not. I just didn’t.

You’ll find that most items with heavy sugar content also are cakey, starchy, carbo-loaded foods like cookies, coffee cake, pancakes, pasta, etc. So cutting out alcohol led me to cut out sugar, which then naturally became cutting out simple and unhealthy carbs, all by association!

Fast forward to a month and a half later and I feel happier than ever with a clean gut and far less excess body fat. I don’t weigh myself because pounds aren’t important to me, but I still FEEL fifteen pounds lighter, which should be the focus of getting healthier. Throughout this time, I continued my workout plan of exercising five to six times a week, switching off between yoga and weightlifting. Cutting out all this crap has resulted in far more energy, improved mood and lightened spirit, all because I decided to take the plunge and risk being the ugly duckling at a gathering.

In order to give myself some inspiration to continue my alcohol free lifestyle, I tried having a glass of wine while working at a restaurant one night to see how it would make me feel. Immediately, my body spoke loud and clear. One glass of wine after weeks and weeks of a clean liver made me feel foggy, slightly dizzy and again, pushed me to order a cheesy french onion soup that I later regretted.

So what does this mean for you? Start small. If you aren’t someone who drinks at all, (good for you), this domino effect system will still work. Starting with something like caffeine, sugar or bread is just as good as alcohol. Test yourself to see what you can truly accomplish. This system especially works when you have a buddy doing it with you. My boyfriend was the one to initially suggest cutting out alcohol to be healthier and his partnership in the adventure helped immensely. In those moments where I was about to give up, I’d think of his dedication and successes, and find the strength to say no. So, to inspire you further, here are three books you MUST read:

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Sugar Crush by Raquel Baldelomar & Dr. Richard Jacoby

Skinny Bitch by Kim Barnouin

Smart Fat by Jonny Bowden and Steven Masley

 

 

 

Eating well and regaining control of your diet takes small, intentional steps and patience. Upwards of 80% of fat loss can be credited to diet. Not only that, but mood and behavior is directly associated to what you put in your mouth. “Your mood comes from your gut,” my mother used to say. Cutting out something that is making your body sick, blended with activity and exercise will shove you into a new mindset, thus giving you the strength you need to be truly heathy and lose excess body fat.

If you need help getting started or some more information about health and wellness, write in the comments below so we can get connected! For more health tips, follow me on Instagram or Twitter !

T.

 

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5 steps to boosting creativity

img_4337Have you ever been caught in a creative lull? Perhaps you’ve been sucked into a negative spiral and can’t seem find your inspiration. Or – maybe you’re usually bustling with creative energy, yet it’s been weeks and you can’t seem to hold onto a good idea? We’ve all been there.

Some days are going to be better than others and we all get that. So how to you jump back on track? Well, it’s certainly different for everyone, but here’s a list to help you find your spark again.

1. Find your spot
I know when I need something to get my mind going, I search tirelessly for the most creative space I can find. Sometimes it’s a park, a library or a wine bar. Most of the time though, it’s a coffee shop with really, really good coffee. Sorry, no Starbucks for me. Getting myself out of my house or office, where I can people watch, daydream, sketch, and simply watch the world from a different perspective, helps fuel my artistic side. It’s the honest truth that I never blog while sitting on my couch; it just doesn’t happen. So find that place in your city or town that exudes good energy, often all you need is just some new vibes.

2. Break the routine

You have a specific routine. Everyone does. So when you desperately need to shift your stale mind, you must think differently and DO something different. What I mean by this is, when you have a go-to for inspiring yourself or a particular thought like,

“Oh, I’ll go read this one book and I know I’ll be inspired.”

Change it up. Rather than doing the expected, go ahead and have a glass of wine and relax. It takes opening our minds to get ideas flowing. You won’t get new ideas by doing the same thing over and over again. So go someplace new, text an old friend and meet up just to talk, or go to an art gallery and observe someone else’s creativity. Trust me, the next time you sit down to start working, you’ll have new images in your mind to work with.

3. Get away from your phone

Our phones are fun and all but our creativity shuts down when we mindlessly flip through other people’s amazing pictures. Not only that, but we tend to feel less confident afterward. You have to get outside and put your phone away to see color again. What I mean by color is the trees, landscape and beauty around you. I know vast landscapes always make me feel unstoppable. That, and a spontaneous road trip.

4. Use your contacts

TALK TO PEOPLE. Don’t be afraid to ask others to bounce ideas around with you. Even if you don’t tell them you’re seeking inspiration, just chat with someone who makes you happy. Matter of fact, find your most hilarious friend. When you laugh, you tend to be the most creative, unless you’re one of those genius melancholy artists who can always bust out something amazing.

5. Music choices

Music is everything for me when I’m working. Whether it be jazz, rap, acoustic, country or something else, each genre creates a different emotion within me, thus inducing completely varying reactions. Sometimes I throw on the Beatles in the car and I’ll have such a strong reaction that I’ll find myself daydreaming about traveling abroad and how I can get there. Then I’ll end up going. When it’s jazz, I feel more mellow and romantic. So think about it next time you throw on some tunes. Be intentional!

I hope this helps you brainstorm a few ways you can bring that fire back into your creative space. If you’re still struggling, this quote always helps me:

“All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning.” — Albert Camus

T.

 

 

 

Staying healthy during the holidays

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The holidays are almost here! As much as we garner joy from this time of year, we also find ourselves dreading some of the hidden habits that we take on from October 31st to January 1st (or 2nd depending on how hungover you are.)

So how do we stay on track? Is it simply impossible? Should we just accept that we’ll fall off the bandwagon and deal with it later?

One of the most important aspects of staying healthy and lean is to not give yourself the option to dive off the deep end. I know that whenever I’m home with family, I’ll crave baking a pie or cooking with as much butter as I can get my hands on. But before I give myself the option to consider opening up that old school cookbook my mom’s had for 30 years, I remember that if the food is there, I’m going to eat it. I can’t handle the temptation. So how do we still enjoy this time of year without quitting our favorites cold turkey? I have one word for you:

SUBSTITUTIONS. 

Substitutions definitely work but take more thoughtfulness. Nowadays, there are so many foods that can help to stop your cravings and make you feel satisfied without having to indulge.

This is what I mean:

Craving sugar? Pie? Cookies? = chia pudding with almond milk, cinnamon, honey, shaved almonds, fruit or a cup of tea sweetened with honey or Stevia. Many times your sugar cravings kick in when you’re dehydrated. Take a minute to down a few glasses of water, wait 10 minutes and see if you still have the craving. I bet you don’t!

Want a big ol’ juicy steak? = often times we crave a burger or steak because we’re low on iron or protein. Our minds are wired to go there because the flavors are most abundant. But, there are so many vegetable dishes that end up satisfying us just like a burger would. I know that sounds crazy and you might be rolling your eyes right now, but give it a try. Here are some decadent vegetable recipes that will help curve that craving while satisfying you on all levels: Dig-in!

Need a buzz? = GO FOR WINE. Don’t slap the bag or chug it at dinner, but wine often helps with digestion. Still, don’t go crazy. Try having a glass of red rather than sugary, syrupy, goopy, Cinnamon Bailey’s, Egg Nog over-the-top holiday craziness.

Overeating = overeating is a common side-effect of the holidays. Everything is just so yummy so why not fill your entire plate twice because it’s so welcoming? Because you’ll die from the expanding digestive tract inside you. THAT’S WHY. Think about this: the day before everyone arrives for Thanksgiving and Christmas, drink as much water as you can. Drink water like it’s your job. The more water you drink, the less pain you’ll feel after the meal. You’ll be slightly full before the meal so you’ll eat less.

So while that turkey looks beautiful and indulging, think about preparing for the massive amounts of food and set yourself up for success. You’ve worked so hard to eat consciously, now keep yourself on track!

T.

 

 

 

 

 

Stop, and turn around

It’s been quite awhile since I last wrote. Maybe because I’ve not felt as inspired or maybe because I’m nervous that what I have to say isn’t interesting enough to share with the world.

But today, I feel like sharing.

I’ve noticed a lot of my friends merge into careers that they maybe wanted, maybe didn’t want…but nonetheless, they seem to be fine. Generally, we go from college to post-grad thinking that we are going to slowly, consistently move upward. Sure, we might get a job that we are using as a stepping stone, that we don’t enjoy immensely but can tolerate… and then a two years go by. So really… we are just falling into the normal routine that is the American tradition…and why is it that I’m having a really hard time being okay with that?

My career path has been unexpectedly different.  It’s taken a rough push backward, a few confusing circles and some small steps to the left and right. I got my dream job right when I graduated. My favorite media company that made a true difference in the world hired ME. Interestingly enough, my dream job wasn’t what I expected. Don’t get me wrong, I was grateful for the position but when I decided it was my dream job to work there, I didn’t know that step one was generic 9 to 5. Probably because I always expect fireworks, bursts of color, magic and inspiration in everything around me. Including my jobs.

I think when we get to a certain age, our “dream job” isn’t actually what we had in mind. This is a cliché however… this is something cynical people have told us over the years, that our dream jobs are going to shift and soon enough we will be driving home at 7pm on a terribly average Thursday to a cold empty house where we’ll have about 3 hours to make dinner alone, (something that tastes mediocre and blends two or three types of ethnic foods from Trader Joe’s) watch two or three episodes of something on Netflix, brush our teeth and go to sleep.

This is what we are supposed to accept? Constantly, people who are secure and in a steady place in life will tell me,

“Well, real life is hard. It’s always going to be hard. You’re going to have to put your time in and do something you don’t enjoy for a couple of years until you have that break into the position you’ve been hoping to get.”

All I hear, is:

“Go give away X amount of years of your life in order for it to be good later.”

Sorry, but I don’t accept that and I don’t have to. That was 1985. 1985 was the 9 to 5 desk jobs concept that our parents created and accepted. Computers brought people into a gigantic space with no color on anything. If I don’t see color I don’t see anything and I just get uncomfortable.

There’s article I stumbled upon a few weeks ago about the most common regret people have on their death beds. It was,

“I didn’t do exactly what I wanted to do. I did what I thought I was supposed to do.” 

This was the first time I’d heard the notion, because I was swept up in the current with everyone else and didn’t think I could do what I wanted to do. I’ve mentioned this to my parents, mentors, peers, but for some reason they’re responses are always, “well that’s really hard to do and doesn’t pay the bills.” Instantly I sink into another heap of disappointment.

Now, I’ve tried to see this concept differently. by understanding that there is a way to balance doing what you want to do and putting in the hard work. There will be late nights that you don’t get paid overtime for, or people you meet who try to put out your light. But I honestly believe that living your life takes more courage than they tell us. If you want to work in a flower shop and not climb the corporate ladder, then work in a flower shop and don’t climb the corporate ladder. We don’t have to do the most impressive things. Impressive things are not the same things as those that make us happy. We don’t have to work at a big company, we don’t have to chase money, we don’t have to work in an office, we don’t have to fatten our resume just to impress other people, we don’t have to accept that paying the bills trumps every dream we ever wanted. Thats not naive, that’s just changing the conversation. We can pay the bills doing anything… look at YouTube stars, look at bloggers, look at people inventing apps, look at those kids choosing to not do what they were told is the only thing they can do to succeed. There isn’t an ONLY WAY. You just have to remind yourself, that no matter what job you choose to do, no matter what career path you give up, or what job you turn down in order to do something less impressive, that you are the type of person that succeeds at anything and everything you do. If you believe that, then those risks you took along the way will pay off, regardless.

So, do exactly what you want to do and don’t apologize. No matter how bold it might seem.

T.