AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge: Our Results

First off, I want people to know that when I signed up to do AdvoCare, I was planning on not blogging about it. While you may be seeing the products mentioned on other blogs, I am not apart of any sort of AdvoCare “blog campaign.” This was a personal decision that my husband and I made. Good? Good!

Okay, where do I even begin?! Part One? I guess I could start by saying that Cory’s weight has never mattered to me. When I met him and fell in love with him, he was at his heaviest; when I married him, he was at his lightest.

 

cory1And I’ve always thought he was the most perfect person on the face of this Earth.

deckSo when he had a serious conversation with me about wanting to lose weight for good, I was listening. I know first hand how even if everyone else thinks you’re perfect, if you’re not happy with yourself, it doesn’t matter.

So I reached out to my friend Kelly after seeing her fantastic weight loss success. We chatted, and she told me all about AdvoCare. How it’s all natural. How it’s safe (she breastfed her son while taking all the supplements.) How it’s helped change her life.

I was intrigued, but also quite skeptical. Like, seriously? Give me a break. 

But, Cory wanted in, and I wanted to support him, so we bought the stuff. All the while I feared that we had just flushed a hefty chunk of change down the toilet.

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But now we’ve reached the end of our 24 Day Challenge and the results are in. But before we even get to the numbers, I just have to say that Kelly was right when she told me this is life changing.

I know you might be thinking: Bravo, Colleen. You were already thin, so who gives a shit that you’re still thin?

Valid point, fellow critic.

To that I’d say: I’ve suffered from terrible, terrible stomach problems for years, and now that’s all gone. No bloating, no diarrhea, no stomach cramps after eating.  Are you kidding me!? That’s nothing short of a miracle in my world.

My energy is sustained throughout the day, and I’m sleeping better at night. My clothes fit perfectly and I’m comfortable. I wish you could feel how awesome I feel! (PS – You CAN.)

pcThat said, here are our stats:

  • I lost 4 pounds
  • I lost 3 inches off my waist, for a combined total of 10 inches off my body.
  • Cory lost 14 pounds pounds
  • Cory lost 3 inches off his waist, for a combined total of 10 inches off his body
  • Cory dropped a pants size.

I was serious about planning on not blogging about this, which is showcased in the fact that our “before” pictures were taken in our underwear. I will not be posting those on the internet. You’re welcome.

 

 

 

Being OKAY with Holiday Weight Gain

Recently, on a website that shall remain nameless, I saw a post about how to avoid holiday weight gain.

I reacted to it the same way I do when I see Facebook statuses about people playing Christmas music before they’ve consumed Thanksgiving dinner.

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While it’s obscenely early, I’ve decided to give myself an early Christmas gift. I’m allowing myself to accept the holiday weight gain and not give a fuck if I’m three pounds heavier come New Years Eve.

I’m a happy eater, and for a long time, I wasn’t true to myself! I love the holidays. I love cookie swaps and hot chocolate and pies and festive cocktails.

I’m not trying to be Pro Fatty, but life is too short. The holidays are a special time and it’s because they’re filled with sugar, and carbs, and family members that make you want to drink.

Also, it’s cold out, so your body needs a little bit more fat than normal, right? ;)

Am I totally off base, or does anyone else agree?

“Shutting Off” Your Mind During Yoga

Ever since I’ve started publicly loving on yoga, I’ve heard the same thing from so many people: I can’t do yoga because my mind just doesn’t stop! 

First off, I am the Busy Body Queen of the Type A folk, so if I can benefit from yoga, anyone can.

The biggest suggestion I have goes for any type of fitness tip: you have to want it. If you think yoga is a waste of time, you won’t benefit. Just like if you went to a Body Pump class and didn’t use enough weights to push yourself, you’d fail to see results.

I had gotten to the point where I needed yoga to work. I wanted yoga to work. I was desperate to find a way to slow down and calm my thoughts while still challenging myself at the same time.

I have come to find that yoga doesn’t require “shutting off” my mind. It simply requires me to focus my thoughts on the present. For me, while practicing yoga, that means focusing on my breath, the way my body feels, and what the instructor is saying.

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It’s taken work, but I have simply had to learn to refocus my mind from worries and distractions to the present.

If you’re a “my mind doesn’t stop” type of person who wants to try yoga, just know that it takes time! Don’t make up your mind after one or two classes. Work at it, and I promise you’ll reap the amazing benefits!

Nuggets of Wisdom

If you’ve been around for a few weeks, you know that lately, I’ve been loving yoga. (Please note that “love yoga” and “am good at yoga” are not synonymous.)

(According to the newest Men’s Health issue, Adam loves yoga, too.)

Before this year, I poo-poo’d yoga. I’ll admit – I didn’t think it was a “real” workout. But since I’ve started, I’ve noticed something: 90% of the yogis I’ve come across are lean and toned. So maybe there is something to this yoga thing…

I’m still keeping up with Body Pump, but the “yogi” status is a new fitness ideal that I’m chasing, and I’m genuinely enjoying the challenge (and savasana ;) )

While I’m loving the physical challenge that is yoga, I’m also enjoying the wonders it’s doing for my mental health. Each practice, the instructor always offers such valuable nuggets of wisdom, and I find myself having constant “ah-ha” moments.

Here’s yesterday’s “nugget” that stuck with me. I hope it resonates with you!

Have a great weekend, my friends!

Dealing with Anxiety

Disclaimer: I like to keep this a happy, funny blog, but I also know I have a pretty solid readership and I like to use this platform to discuss serious things sometimes. I hope you can dig it.

I had been intentional about not posting about my New Year’s goals in January, because honestly, I wasn’t ready. Although many exciting things happened in December, it was personally a very difficult month for me.

I’ve been anxious for as long as I can remember, but it was “normal” for me.

That said, moving is one of the top 10 life stressors, and that alone could have put me over the edge. Add it to filming for a TV show, several family illnesses, and over-filling my Life Plate, I ended up in the ER a week before Christmas.

My stress had morphed itself into a nasty, relentless anxiety that I could not shake. Long story short, one morning while I was at the gym my heart went out of control, and I knew immediately that something was wrong.

I attempted to drive myself home, but soon realized I was too shaky and lightheaded to drive. I pulled over and called 911.

I had never, ever beed so terrified in my entire life.

I ended up in the ER and when I left, I was told to follow up with a cardiologist.

A sonogram of my heart was ordered, and I was hooked up to a 24-hour EKG.

After a slew of tests and doctor’s visits, my cardiologist said: I have one piece of advice for you, and it’s to seriously get your anxiety under control. If you don’t, it will end up getting the best of you – in the worst way. 

What I heard: Stop stressing, or it’ll kill you.

Oh. Great. Thanks. That helps a lot. What’s that? Yes – I would like a paper bag to breathe into. 

I’m a mental health professional. I KNOW what stress and anxiety can do to the body. That’s why I’ve been so frustrated with myself. I help people everyday who experience anxiety, but I had been struggling to help myself.

So now what?

Great question.

I really do believe that everything happens for a reason, but I’ve been grappling with why I was given this lesson of unshakeable anxiety, and as a result, the most terrifying experience of my life.

For me, it’s been a tough lesson to learn (thank God my friends love me), but I can honestly say that, now, I feel really, really good.

 

I’ve seen a therapist, which has been awesome and I highly recommend the service.

I’ve been serious about my yoga practice, which has been amazingly helpful.

And I started taking medication, which has been the BEST DECISION I’VE EVER MADE!!!

The medication is NOT a forever thing, actually it’s quite short term, but it’s helped me think clearly, free of anxiety, for the first time in years.

(If you have something negative to say about medication, please don’t do it here. I’m taking the time to mention it because I’m constantly trying to do my part to help demolish the stigma that “therapy” and “medication” are only for “bad, crazy people.”)

Like I joked about earlier, 2013 is my “Year of Zen” and I’m taking my mental health seriously. I want you to know that I’m not a basket case. I’m not talking to walls or hearing voices. I’m just dealing with stuff.

In my opinion, anxiety is impossible to explain to someone who has never experienced it; But for someone who is familiar with that tight-chest-for-no-reason feeling, I know you understand, and I want you to know that you’re not crazy, and that you’re not the only one.

*As always, if you have questions or need someone to relate to, you can always email me at lunchboxdiaries[at]gmail[dot]com.

The Couple that Namastes Together, Stays Together(?)

Today, Cory and I tried something new and took a yoga class together.

I hyped up this upcoming experience like nobody’s business because yoga at my old gym was totally perfect.

Cory, you’ll feel so relaxed and centered.

Cory, I LOVE YOGA.

Cory, the couple that namastes together, STAYS together. 

Cory. Get ready for your life to be changed. Forever. 

At this point Cory looked through the windows to my soul and told me to namastopit.

So, 5:30 AM came and I was ready and excited to calm the hell down and find my center.

Unfortunately, the instructor was a snobby substitute for the normal instructor. I was hoping for a nice Vinyasa flow, but she was more of a bougie show off than anything else. At one point, she asked the class “Do you guys do (insert random body-twisting pose here)?” And everyone shrugged, as best as the could while in bow pose.

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She replied in a snarky tone, “It really helps if you learn the lingo.”

At this point, I look to Cory, who looks just as hilariously as uncomfortable as I do, and I laugh out loud.

It felt worse than laughing in church during Station of the Cross.

Needless to say, Cory hated it and my words currently hold no weight in this household. I’m hoping to redeem myself soon.

Let’s chat – Do you and your partner workout together? If you’re single, do you have a workout buddy?

I’m Back!

Hello, friends! Oh my gosh, I can’t begin to express how I truly needed that break from blogging and not being fully “plugged in” to approximately 17 social media accounts at all times.

While I stepped away from the blog world, I was still fully existing and functioning in Real Life ;) It’s amazing how much time I had to devote to other people and things when I took blogging off the to-do list.

- Cory and I made the trip up to Alexandria to spend Christmas Eve with my family. And I wasn’t overly concerned about snapping pictures for the blog. 

As a side note, my cousin Lindsay, who I adore, just chopped off all her hair and I couldn’t help but notice that we kind of sort of definitely look like sisters.

Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part.

- Cory and I hosted Christmas dinner at our new home! It was shockingly not stressful at all. While not everything went according to plan, I think we did a good job.

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I even had extra time to dedicate to making the table cuter than I normally would have.

- I started a new hobby as a Stella & Dot stylist. I can’t tell you how much I love this jewelry. Seriously.

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More on this later, but I have to gush about the fact that I’m able to work with ladies who want to host online shows. If you’re interested in hosting a jewelry show on your blog – email me!

- I’ve spent a lot of of down time here.

- I’ve spent time with my bestest friends, which is not something totally out of the ordinary, but I’ve been extra thankful and appreciative lately.

- And, because I dig honesty, I’ve also had a few struggles. We’re been beyond busy and I think I got to the point where I ran myself into the ground. More on that once we get into the New Year!

- Most importantly, I’ve indulged and not worried one single bit. Dessert? Sure! Sweet Frog twice in one week? Absolutely!

I know that I haven’t written a real post (unless you count this one) in almost two weeks, which is like, a year in the blog world. While I enjoyed every minute of my break, I’m ready and excited to be back. So, if you’re still here as a reader, I genuinely appreciate it.

Sleep Hygiene Tips

I tend to think I’m a pretty good sleeper.

As a kid, I was always – always – the first one to fall asleep at slumber parties; in high school, I abided by a self-imposed bedtime; and even as an adult, I’ve been known to fall asleep in the middle of a party.

Like, say, at a bar.

Or, like, in a car.

Sleep happens.

But as of late I’ve had a little trouble sleeping. I toss and turn all night, have the weirdest/most stressful dreams and I wake up tired.

I see clients who have a similar issue, and because the topic was brought up over a dinner conversation last night, I thought, hey – maybe it’s time to write a post about sleep hygiene. 

Here are some tips I suggest to clients, as well as tips I do my best to follow in my personal life.

  • Set a schedule – Don’t just stay up as late as possible so your body has no other choice but to collapse on you.  For a lack of a better term, set a “bedtime” and make your best effort to stick to it, give or take 30 minutes. Our bodies like routine, so we might as well give in ;)
  • Don’t make naps a regular thing – Sometimes naps are totally necessary. Like, on Sundays when your husband is watching football. But when you nap regularly, it becomes difficult to stay awake during the day, as well as sleep through the night.
  • Nix the nighttime snacking – I tend to suggest avoiding sugars and carbs 2 – 4 hours before you go to sleep. Simple as that.
  • Turn off the TV. And the computer. And the cell phone. – Let’s be honest, our brains are over-stimulated all day long. “Unplugging” 30 – 60 minutes before bed allows our mind to calm down, resulting in less weird dreams and “thoughts that keep me up at night.”
  • Release the worry – If you’re a worrier like myself, it helps to keep a notepad bedside. Why? Rather than replaying a worry or thought, simply write it down and roll back over. Releasing worries from our mind is essential for a good night’s sleep!
  • Your bed is for two things: sleep and sex – When you make your bed your office, your dining room, and your living room, your body doesn’t recognize it as a place of rest.
  • Avoid alcohol – It’s a common misconception that alcohol aids in sleep, but it actually does just the opposite. Alcohol may make us pass out (like, in a bar, or in a car), but as it metabolizes and leaves our system, it acts as a stimulant.
  • Lastly if you can’t sleep, GET UP – Don’t lay there hoping you’ll fall asleep. Get up, get a drink of milk, or read a book for ten minutes. I like to think of it as “hitting the reset button.”

Let’s chat – Do you have any specific sleep hygiene habits? While I try to abide by all of these tips, the one I won’t compromise is my sleep schedule. If I stay up too late, get up too late, or don’t get 7 – 8 hours, I’m all out of whack! 

So, What Have I Been Up To?

Hello, friends! Oh my goodness, what a busy week it’s been. Has anyone else moved recently? Good God – it’s a task! Don’t get wrong – I’m not complaining – I’m simply trying to give you a valid reason as to why my blog has been on the back burner the past few days. ;)

So, what have I been up to?

Moving, of course. And feeling out all the adjustments that go along with a new home.

Like the random noises in the night that remind me of all the horrific, yet fascinating, Criminal Minds marathons I’ve been scarred by enjoyed.

Or you know, like, the double oven. Yet another example of how domestically challenged I happen to be. I’m glad that my brother’s girlfriend, Erin,  was there to capture my candid confusion. ;) 

Filming for a TV show. So fun. But so exhausting! I now have a new appreciation for the Kardashians. I mean, Kourtney and I are pretty much the same person these days. Right?

I ooze sex appeal.

Joining a new gym. Yesterday ended a 10-day hiatus from working out. I was oddly nervous before I went to our new gym for the first time. It was strange feeling “lost” in a gym, but let’s just, say spin class hurt just as much as last time. #SOREprivates

I have posts coming up on all these separate topics, but they’ll come at a time when my extra curricular activities cease to include unpacking and reorganizing my entire life ;)

Let’s chat – What have YOU been up to?! Tell me everything. I’ve missed hearing from you!

You’re Not Immune to Skin Cancer.

I look thinner with a tan.

I look healthier with a tan. 

I feel ugly and pasty. 

I’m sure most of us have said something along these lines at some point, am I right? I’m also confident that some of us have been more proactive than others in regards to chasing the paleness away.

I tan very easily, but for the past four years or so, I’ve pretty much avoided the sun and become a sunscreen Nazi.

In college, I had a pre-cancerous mole removed on the back of my arm. A mole removal that required two “digs.” (Trust me, it looks much uglier in person.)

Last week, I had a follow-up appointment with my dermatologist, as we’ve been tracking a mole on my back. Surprisingly, the mole on my back had not changed, but two other random freckles had.

A freckle on the side of my right hand:

A freckle on my right shin (and, yes, it’s impossible to shave over stitches):

I know these look harmless, but let me tell you, they hurt like a motherfucker.

I understand that it’s easy to think, So what, Colleen? Get your freckles removed and move on. 

The so what is that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, and each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon (source).

Not enough for you? Think of the five people you adore.

Got ‘em?

At least one of them will develop skin cancer. 

I know one. And if I wasn’t diligent about seeing my dermatologist regularly, I could be one of them, too. We’re normal, careful girls. We also have ugly scars all over our bodies.

I’m not here to be a Debby Downer, but I am here to slap you around with some truth. You are not immune to skin cancer. You are NOT SMART if you spend time in a tanning bed or lay out in the sun sans sunscreen. Tanning is not worth it. Please, next time you just need that “glow” first consider having stitches in your arms, back, hands, legs, and face.

I assume this post will get more eye-rolls and dismissive waves than anything else, but if this motivates one person to call their dermatologist to schedule a full-body scan, I’ll feel good.

Be safe, be smart!