Kettlebells and Callouses

They’re super simple.  To some, they may look like a weapon or a medieval torture device.

It’s an exercise tool called a kettlebell. My workout buddy. It’s essentially a cannon ball with a thick metal handle on top that you swing and press and use in a variety of moves that challenge you (and torture you- maybe that medieval thing wasn’t so far off!).

For the last 11 months I’ve been throwing these bad boys around, and it has absolutely changed my body.  Never before have I felt so… capable. That may be an odd word to use, but using the kettlebell has required me to push myself beyond my comfortable limit almost daily.  Looking at this 44 lb. ball of metal, my mind never thinks, ‘You can easily pick that up and swing it around!’ Yet that’s exactly what I do every morning.

I have the callouses to prove it.

Want to see a kettlebell workout in action? Check out the segment below of Time Warner Cable’s “Get Fit” featuring my trainer (the only person in the world I get up at 5am to see every morning) Paul Daniels from The Body Warehouse. Part 1 shows more of our workout, Part 2 tells a little of my story.

The Body Warehouse- Part1

The Body Warehouse- Part2

Looking to challenge yourself in a way you never have before and become stronger than you ever thought possible? Contact The Body Warehouse today!

Slaying the Sugar Dragon: Part 1

 Sugar. 
My BFF- Best Foodie Friend. 
We have a long, sordid history mostly centered around any and all forms of chocolate.  And cookies. And frosting. And frozen yogurt. And…you get the picture.  And it’s not a pretty one.
During the Whole30 I completed last October, fruit was my go-to treat.  After my Whole30, sugar started slowly creeping back into my diet.  First, it was Paleo-approved forms like honey and maple syrup. Then a square or two of dark chocolate, then Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips ordered from Amazon and, duh, it’s more economical to order 10 packages than just one. Next thing I knew, milk chocolate Pound Plus bars leapt into my cart (completely on their own, of course with their little yummy chocolate legs) at Trader Joe’s.
It was getting out of control and, not shockingly, the scale stalled. Granted, I am 40 lbs. lighter than I was this time last year, but still not quite where I want to be. Excluding the sugary treats, the rest of my diet was exclusively Paleo and I was still working out like a demon. Frustrating beyond belief.
My thin-spiration friend AJ agreed to embark on a nutritional expedition with me to “The Land With No Sugar.”  We found the 21-Day Sugar Detox (21DSD) from Balanced Bites and picked a go-date.
The 21DSD is pretty strict. It has all the Paleo elements- no grains, dairy, legumes, sugar or alcohol, but takes it a step father by eliminating 99% of fruit and sweet potatoes (you’re allowed 1 serving of either a green-tipped banana or a green apple per day).
At first, I found it odd that any diet would practically eliminate fruit.  The 21DSD outlines how fruit sugar, even though its natural, affects your blood sugar- the very thing you are looking to regulate to eliminate sweet cravings.  Also, it’s so easy to start using fruit as a substitute for traditional “dessert.” And for me, that satiating “something sweet” after a meal was a daily occurrence. It was too easy to progress from fruit to Paleo-ified treats and then straight to dairy-laden chocolate.
Today is Day 4 of my 21DSD, and probably not the best day to be talking about how great this program is because, honestly, today I am crabby and craving.  Which is totally part of the program.  I’m recognizing it, eating my 1 green-tipped banana, and sticking with the eating plan I laid out last weekend.
While I’m looking forward to seeing the scale start to move in the right direction again, what I’m hoping for most is for my energy and emotions to not be tied to my sugar intake.  That a treat will be a treat, and not a vital piece of every meal. And finally, to slay the Sugar Dragon and send him back to his Cave of Evil Deliciousness.
Have you ever tried to cut out sugar? Did the results last?

Can’t vs. Don’t

With more than two months securely under my belt in this new Paleo-diet-lifestyle-change, I’m settling in to this new normal.  I have a few favorite go-to recipes, I can easily find something that fits within my guidelines at most restaurants and I don’t miss most of the foods that used to be daily staples.

I’ve noticed more acutely this year how centered celebrations are around food. Team holiday lunches, treats at work, meeting friends for meals- each scenario an opportunity where I would pull the “special occasion” card and eat whatever I wanted.  Follow that with feeling guilty, then promising myself I’d be back to being good the next day.  It was honestly a vicious, frustrating cycle where “the next day” never came.

There are three things that have really helped me say no to most of the food-temptations…

1. Knowledge of how that indulgent food affects me.  Dairy makes my throat sore and thick-feeling.  Large amounts of sugar give me headaches.  Gluten takes those headaches and couples them with a lovely stomach ache. I know because I gently tried to reintroduce those items into my diet and the symptoms appeared, then disappeared when I was no longer eating that food.

2. Forethought of what indulgences are really worth it.  Knowing the above doesn’t mean that I’ve been completely Paleo every single meal since the end of my Whole30.  What it does mean is that I am deliberate in my choices.  For example, my mom makes an absolutely killer coffee cake from an old family recipe- it’s something she makes for brunch on every holiday.  Thanksgiving morning, I knew it would be there.  I had pre-planned to have one piece of coffee cake, and stick to my Paleo diet the rest of the time- and I did! The coffee cake was amazing, the slight headache was worth it, and I felt treated enough to stick with my Paleo choices the rest of the day.

3. Changing my vocabulary.  When I’m offered a treat, instead of saying, “I can’t,” like there’s an external force of willingpower disallowing me to partake. I politely say, “I don’t eat XXX, but thank you.” The word “don’t” puts the responsibility on me for my choices. It’s a conscious and willing choice- while I CAN eat bread, I DON’T.  If anyone asks why, I recite my Paleo elevator speech and drop it. This shift has been an empowering wake-up call for me.

A conversation recently with one of my girlfriends led to, “Why do you think I continue to say yes to everything?” I am a habitual over-commiter and want to be able to say yes to everything.  This switch has forced me to rexamine my priorities, and to start learning to say no by saying it to myself. You should hear some of the converstions!

The one thing I encourage you to remember this holiday season- save your treats for things that are truly special.  Mom’s holiday coffee cake- special.  Random bowls of candy around the office full of things you could go buy yourself if you really wanted to- not so special.  If its something I can go buy any day of the week at the store, I skip it.  Be thorough in your choices and only choose the most special thing(s) to enjoy.

From my family to yours, we wish you a very Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Consumption

After completing a Whole30, what I’ve been consuming has been dramatically varied from just a few weeks ago.

I’m not talking only about food, though going from consuming the daily allowance of choclate chips enough for 5 people to elminating sugar has certainly changed me.

What I’m putting in my brain is different, too.  Surrounding myself with Paleo cookbooks and websites, happy quotes and inspiring messages competing on the fridge with my preschooler’s art projects, reading about organic meat and the 400 different ways to use coconut- filling my brain, swirling in my thoughts.  What I’m consuming is consuming me, in a very good way.

This is leading to one very big revelation- something I’d read before but never really understood until I started living it. “Everything you eat either takes you closer to or further from your goal.” That is weighty and belies responsibility. That takes what I’m consuming and puts it into practice with every thoughtful bite.

Three months ago, asking myself “Does this take me closer to my goal?” before every morsel of food would have been overwhelming.  I can see now that I really didn’t want the answer.  That same question is now freeing and encouraging.  I’m consuming the right things, and saying no to poor choices in order to say yes to my ultimate goal: a healthier me.

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79 Days Wrap-Up: I wrote this post on September 16 about how my weight hadn’t changed in the last 79 days.  I vowed that 79 days from then would be different.  Well November 6 has come and gone and my fingers can’t type anything that would do justice to the feeling of accomplishment that I feel from KNOWING that I am markedly different.

For the Love of Food

Big change in a year! Nov ’11-Nov ’12.  Read on to find out how!

The excuses were many- they would have to be to justify the extra weight I’ve carried for the last 20 years. And they were varied.  Depending on the day, I could attribute it to two pregnancies, or the poor eating habits I was brought up with, or a much needed afternoon sugar rush.

My favorite excuse, and one that I used quite often… I Just Love Food.

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Deprivation was not part of my repertoire.  Any and every meal was an excuse to celebrate.

Chocolate chip peanut butter toast for breakfast? It’s Monday!

Duck fat fries with a salad for lunch? Yum!

Frozen yogurt for dinner? I’m meeting up with my friends, and it’s less calories than eating dinner and then having yogurt, so I may as well skip dinner!

I eluded to being taught poor eating habits growing up, when in reality what I lacked was moderation and balance. Knowing when to choose a treat and when to say no. Those were difficult lessons to grasp at age 10.  I have a very vivid memory of being in sixth grade, playing soccer during recess and looking around the field and noticing I was the biggest girl out there. Head down, I walked alone back to the classroom before the game was over and vowed that I would never wear shorts again.

That memory hurts my heart, even today.  I want to turn that little girl around, tell her that she has self-worth that extends far beyond the seam of her shorts, and that the power to change her relationship with food would alter the course of the next 20 years.

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Saying that I loved food was easy.  It explained why I constantly thought about what I’d just eaten, what meal was coming next, and what sounded good.  Loving food was uncomplicated and provided little room for judgement. Loving food was excusable.

I held tightly to that excuse over 10 years of focused weight loss efforts.  With some success, followed by relapse and re-gain, food continued to be a source of comfort and guilt.

Then, a revelation.  I sucessfully completed a 30-day program focused on eating solely whole, organic food called the Whole30. It promised to change the way my body dealt with food, improve my sleep, my skin, and curb sugar cravings.

There were quite a few things I didn’t expect.  A 14lb. weight loss for start.  The better sleep and clearer skin actually happened.  I planned every meal and liked brussels sprouts. And most importantly, I actively and thoughtfully and carefully Fell in Love with Real Food.

I fell in love with real food.  With organic meat and sweet potatoes and almond meal and coconut milk. Finding ways to make food that I enjoy whole.  Knowing that almost every meal during the last month was peeled and chopped and warmed from my own hands was powerful and engaging and life-altering.

It’s been four days since my Whole30 0fficially ended, and I’m still planning every meal and keeping my food whole.  It feels good. I feel good.  And I’m finding balance and moderation and falling in love with real food that is loving me back.

Want to learn more about Whole30 and see my before and after pictures? Head on over to my personal blog Get Carried Away.

Whole30

It’s Day 10 of my Whole30.  What’s a Whole30, you ask? I’d LOVE to tell you.

(Side note: I get it.  Another cah-razy diet that “cleanses your body” and “makes you eat like a rabbit.” How many of these are out there? Honestly, I’m sharing this one because for whatever reason, it’s clicked for me.   And I’m purposely going to focus first on what a Whole30 is and what I can eat, rather than list off the things I can’t.  Mostly because I don’t want to scare you off with the “can’t” list, but also because the “can” list is incomplete without the “why.”)

The Whole30 is a 30-day committment to eating whole food. Whole food is food that you know you should be eating, but never crave.  Just kidding! It’s a focus on food that helps your body get to a state of equalibrium, subsides cravings, and promotes weight loss. Or, as the authors of the book WAY more eloquently put it, “Think of it as a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, calm systemic inflammation and put an end to unhealthy cravings, habits, and relationships with food.”

Whole30 food consists of fruits, vegetables, meat, healthy oils and nuts.  Sounds pretty simple, and it is.  Sure, there are complex pieces to it, like the authors encouraging organic, free-range, cage-free pastured meat.  What that really means- animals that were allowed to live as normal a life as possible in turn making their meat INSANELY expensive.  But man alive, the difference between organic pastured ground beef and regular ground beef is astounding.  It’s incredibly more delicious. For serious.

Here’s what you really want to know.  What can’t I eat? In short, no legumes (beans), no dairy (yes, that includes cheese and no, I haven’t died of cheese deprivation YET!), no grains (no bread, couscous, quinoa, rice, corn), no sugar, and no alcohol.  A few people I’ve shared this with over the last two weeks said, “but that’s my entire diet!” Well, it was mine too.  And I’m still finding things to eat, and actually enjoying them. There is life beyond bread people, I swear.

Here’s what to expect.  The first week or two will be tough.  You may even feel flu-ish, aka “the carb flu.” The kind of food you’ll be eating will require planning and preparation, and a lot of it.  This is not grab-and-go food, though with enough planning you can make grab-and-go type of meals. And around mid-week, during week two, a little sprinnkle of magic from the Whole30 fairy will rain down, and you’ll start to see the benefits.  Sleeping better. Waking up with energy. Stabilized energy levels during the day.  Better, umm, digestion. And my favorite- pants that fit last week are now too big.

Interested? I certainly was when I first read about the Whole30 from another blogger.  She’s about my size, and finished her Whole30 an amazing 15lbs. lighter and feeling incredible.  I thought, ‘if she can do it, I can do it.  Umm, and I’d like to lose 15 lbs over the next month.’ So I bought the book, read it in two days, and started my Whole30 two days later.  After a trip to a donut store I’ve been wanting to visit.  Just getting it out of my system!

Here are my tips if you’re going to dive in head-first…

-Buy the book, “It Starts With Food” By Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.  Read it with the purpose of preparing yourself for your Whole30.

-Pick a start date a few days away.  You HAVE to plan and prepare to be successful.

-Make a meal plan for at least the next five days, planning every meal.  Shop for only what you need.

-Relegate non-compliant snacks to one spot in your cupboard, far far away from your Whole30 food.

-Before Day 1, sign up for the daily emails from the Whole30 site. They are informative and inspiring, with great tips and recipes, and at the end of each day you get to click that you finished another day Whole30 compliant.

-Dive in!

1000% absolutely totally and completely I would recommend a Whole30 (and not just to have others to commiserate with share recipes and encouragement!). Though I’m only 10 days in, I can already see a difference in my sleep, my skin, my energy level and the fit in my clothes. I feel really great, not only about the results but also about my resolve.  I’ve navigated some tough situations that I’ll share over the coming weeks.

I do have to admit- I cheated once.  I weighed myself after week one.  Whole30 encourages you to take a month off from the scale to focus on how you feel rather than what you weigh. Honestly, I just wanted to be sure all this work was paying off.  And was it ever- I was down 6 lbs in 7 days. Now I’ve decided to be totally Whole30 compliant and have taken the scale out of the bathroom, not to return for 20 more days.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and if anyone has tried a Whole30 before how it went for you!

79 Days

Change is the only constant.

We’ve had lots of change in the Braunalicious house over the last few months- new jobs for me and hubby, starting school for the oldest, and an explosion of words and assertiveness from the toddler.

One thing that hasn’t changed: the scale.  Absolutely no change in either direction.

This sobering revelation occured the other day when I accidentally clicked the “Weight and Measurements” iNote instead of the “Trader Joe’s Shopping List.”  The note opened and I saw my exact current weight staring back at me, hovering just below the note’s creation date of “79 days ago.”

I was woefully unprepared for that moment, though it shouldn’t have been a surprise. I get on the scale almost daily.  I knew exactly what I weighed.  I just didn’t remember that it’s exactly what I weighed 79 days ago.

“Well, at least you haven’t gained anything,” a friend said.  She’s right, but that statement is ignoring what I HAVE done over the last 79 days.  I’ve gotten up 5 mornings a week at 5am to sweat so hard that if I sit all the way back in the seat on the car ride home, it’ll be soaked.  I’ve weekly trudged three miles around a local lake with my fit, police officer sister. Hiking 2.5 miles with the toddler straped to my back is a rest day.

What’s obviously missing from that list is my committment to eating healthy.  I’d like to say that this lack of change is an anomoly since obviously I’ve been consuming glutenfree-paleo-whole-vegan foods in quatities befitting a supermodel.  Not the case.  I’ve been eating with a diet lacking in common sense and self-control, focused more on immediate craving than long-term success.  Which makes all the exercise that much more frusterating- with a moderate diet, think of what could have been accomplished.

It’s an opportunity of forced reflection, a mini crossroads.  I can’t help but notice the correlation between my lack of progress and my lack of blogging.  Not that blogging directly causes weight loss, but the consistent reminder of progress allows for adjustments on a regular basis.

So it’s back to blogging and food journaling.  Time to stop asking, ‘what SOUNDS good?’ in the moment, and plan ahead for what I know is good for my body.  It’ll be a deliberate return to thoughtful eating.

I’m promising myself that 79 days from today, I won’t be able to say that nothing has changed. What November 6 will look like, I don’t know.  One thing I do know- I will be different than today. Better.  Smarter. Fitter.

79 days.

Support

Mr. Braunalicious and I on vacation in May 2012

Mr. Braunalicious.  Husband of five years, lover for 15, weight loss supporter forever.

We met in high school, and I was heavy. We dated while I was at my heaviest and lightest. He stood next to me at our wedding the smallest I’ve been in my adult life. He watched me carry both of our children and gain more than 50 lbs. each time then fight and struggle getting it back off. And he has never, never been anything but loving, patient, thoughtful and encouraging.

He is kind to me when I don’t know how to be kind to myself.

He wanted to write a post for this blog. Not for me, but for you. Because he’s learned a lot in the last 15 years and every pound for me either up or down has been a lesson for him. He’s not a writer by trade or hobby, and I watched him painstakingly type each word over the last few weeks until he felt it was just right.

From Mr. Braunalicious, the man supporting me, I give to you his perspective on women and weight loss…

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So my wife and i agreed some time ago that I would write a post about my perspective on her journey with weight loss.

You need to know about me first. I am 6’3 and 200 pounds. I have a quick metabolism. I eat virtually what ever I want. However if the heathly eating suggestions from the biggest loser or yahoo news feed are easy enough to fit into my lifestyle, i tend to do them (ex: dont eat after 9pm). I come from a family of runners. Mom ran 3 marathons after having 9 kids. While I can go running for the sake of a work out, its is rare, i am lazy and don’t use this gift. The years have made me “softer,” but I know that the stress of weight loss is not something I ever have to bear.

My wife and I have had many conversations about diets, stopping and restarting work out plans and weight loss. I really believe that she handles this part of her life with focus and humility. This is not to say she doesn’t have moments of insanity like thinking that she could become a vegetarian. So for purposes of the bits of wisdom and advice heard here I will assume that most women are sane most of time and only need to be reminded of things in those crazy times.

Here is what you need to remember ALWAYS: most men can really only tell the difference with how happy you are with yourself. The visibility of weight loss is hard for someone who sees you everyday (and in my case isn’t very observant). You receive support in your diet and work out plans not because your husband thinks you need to shed a few, but because when you share with him a little victory, your smile lights up the room.

Extremes are hard for men to deal with. We have little to no idea how hard the diet or exercise regiment is that you have chosen is. So when you decide to go for a dessert, we think you earned it in some way, or you have quit the diet. Because men don’t feel like it isn’t our place to tell you that triple sundae ice cream is probably not in your current diet, assumptions about your level of commitment are made. You always have the right to set the record straight about plan, but it might mean you will be called out for indulging.

I really think that success in weight loss comes from how you see yourself.  This isn’t one of the stupid ‘visualize a skinner you moments,’ it’s different.  I will use Carrie as my example.  Carrie sees herself as an active person, so she maintains a schedule that upholds this value.  The only time I have seen this value be completely erased was pregnancy #1.  She stopped seeing herself as active, and it took a few months for her to really get into an active mindset again.  And now she is brave enough to step into one of my soccer scrimmages and play goalie again.  Yes, she is also a person that likes chocolate, but minimal time in the average week is dedicated to this.

Weight loss is so personal; it can be closely tied to self worth.  If you cannot talk about this part of life with whoever is most significant in you life than I believe that you have placed an obstacle in your journey to a healthier you.   I have seen first hand the ups and downs of my wife’s journey and I believe just by lending a sympathetic ear, she copes with the roller coaster of fluctuations, diet, exercise and dessert cravings with more grace.

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I’m not sure that I could be any more proud of that man.

Favor: he’s now asked me three times if I’ve posted this blog and if there are any comments.  We all remember what it’s like to put that first post out there and refresh until you have some small sign that someone somewhere saw it.  So leave Mr. Braunalicious a little blog love, and tell me who supports you.

The Goldilocks Effect

The year was 2007.  Newly minted Mr. and Mrs. getting ready to sit down for dinner in our shoebox of an apartment.  Mr. mozies over to the table, stops and looks at the two plates of food set before him and asks, “Which one of these is mine?”

‘DUH,’ I think, and stomp over to point out how obviously THAT is his plate because it has man-sized portions and I am a dainty little housewife who eats like a… wait a second.  Both of those plates are piled high.  They look exactly the same. I still remember what I made that evening- chicken breasts with roasted asparagus and wild rice.  Pretty healthy meal, but totally unhealthy portions.

I was eating like a man.

It shoudn’t have been the complete shock that it was.  Living at home through college, I never gained the “freshman 15″ because my habits stayed exactly the same.  In fact, I lived at home until my wedding day.  Not that I never cooked at my parents house, but my mom was always planning meals for the 6 of us and making outrageous trips to Costco to keep the shelves stocked.  Getting married and moving out meant I was now in charge of the feeding and shopping for two people for the first time in my life.

Oh how green I was.  I thought doubling or tripling a recipe was totally normal since that’s how my mom did it.  I forgot to take into consideration that she was doubling a recipe meant for two-four people.  So I’d make a double serving of chicken divan and instead of saving half for later, I’d scoop equal amounts onto two plates and dig in with my new, adorable, thin and blessed-with-a-crazy-high-metabolism husband.

The result: 20 lbs. in 5 months.  A pound a week in the opposite direction than I should have been heading. Then I got pregnant.

It wasn’t until my daughter started truly eating “table food” or smaller versions of what we were eating that the concept came to me.  I’d prepare dinner and get out three plates- two dinner plates for my husband and I, one plastic princess-related tiny plate for her.  I was at least being portion-concious at this point, so my plate wan’t piled as high as his.  But it certainly was still bigger than it should have been.

One night I had just read Goldilocks and the Three Bears to A-girl (our daughter) before dinner, and with the story fresh in my mind I got out three different plates- a large Daddy plate, a medium Mommy plate and a small A-girl plate.  Portions followed accordingly.

The Goldilocks Effect- too big on the left (Daddy's plate), too small in the middle (A-girl plate) and my just-right plate on the right.

This is not a new concept- pick up any health magazine and an itty-bitty nutritionist will perkily admonish you to “eat off a smaller plate!” For me, there’s something about the vision of the “Goldilocks Effect” of big, smaller, smallest.  I’d like for my husband to someday weigh more than me- really for me to weigh less than him.  I want to be the medium, the middle, the just right version of myself.

It’s a simple tip that I remind myself of daily: to eat the type and portion of food to fit who I want to be, not who I currently am.  The Goldilocks Effect helps me do that.

Try it, You’ll Like It

My three-year old is totally into “Arthur” books- you know, the weird little hedgehog-porcupine-mole guy with the glasses.  Her favorite book is “Try It, You’ll Like It” where Arthur’s sister D.W. refuses to try a bundle of new things, only to find out later that she did, in fact, really like them once she tried them.  I love kids stories with morals.

I started a boot camp three weeks ago that requires me to wake up at an ungodly hour.  When I first read the introdutory email, I almost quit before I  started.  Boot camp starts at 5:30am twice a week, and 5 am twice a week.  5 AM.  Meaning I have to BE THERE AT 5 AM.  Out of bed, teeth brushed (most of the time), dressed and prepared for physical pain at 5am.

I’m sure for some people, 5am is a very normal time to be awake.  Exercising, even.  But I’m a die-hard night owl who could witness nightly Cinderella’s stagecoach turning back into a pumpkin, and then stay up for a few more hours.

The first week was terrible.  10pm would roll around and I KNEW that I should be in bed.  I’d mentally countdown, telling myself, ‘If you go to bed now, you’ll get 7 hours of sleep.’  But laundry and blogging and Angry Birds would coax me from my sheets, and I’d end up going to bed entirely too late, waking up miserable and groggy, slogging through the workout and then coming home ready for a 6am nap.

Week 2 was better.  I was actually tired at night, which made my brain go to sleep around the same time as my body.  Another great week 2 revelation: as the new routine became more routine, I noticed that I didn’t have to reset my power button at 3pm, which I would normally do with sugar-ladden coffee or some form of easily grabbable sweet. Not only was my body getting into rhythm, I could feel myself getting stronger.  Physical strength begot mental strength, and both the workouts and diet became easier.

Week 3 rocked.  I think I actually told someone outloud, “I like getting up early!” And I hate to admit it, but it’s true.  Here’s what’s helped me:

-Laying out my workout clothes the night before.  Saves time and ensures that I don’t walk out the door at 5am without pants.

-Setting a bedtime alarm.  I need one to help me wake up, so I’m using one to help me go to bed.  While I don’t run to bed the minute it rings, it gently reminds me to wrap up what I’m doing, and I don’t have that ,”How is it midnight already?” moment.

-Giving myself enough time in the morning.  The first two weeks, I would squeeze every single moment of sleep in, and only give myself like 5 minutes to dress, brush teeth, get water and be out the door.  Unrealistic, and it drove me crazy to be rushing at 4:55am.  Now I give myself 15 minutes.  I’m not rushed, and I don’t miss the extra ten minutes of sleep.

This new normal is settling in beautifully, and I can see a lifetime of becoming an early riser.  What I love most is working out super hard, coming home and being ready for work before my kids are even awake.  When I was trying to exercise at night after work  more often than not I’d get home late, something would come up, or the guilt of leaving the kids again would override my desire.  Now I have no excuses.  No one needs me at 5am.

5am may not be the thing for everyone.  Four weeks ago, I would have never believed how much I appreciate it.  Maybe for you its a new class at the gym, or a vegetable you know is good for you that you just haven’t tried.  Borrowing a quote from D.W., “Try it!  You’ll like it!”  How many times do we tell our kids, “How do you know you don’t like that?  You haven’t even tried it!”  Give yourself that nudge, and get outside your comfort zone.  Even the healthiest and fittest among us have something you can try to step up your game.

I challenge you this week to try something that you haven’t before.  Do it for a week, and see how you feel at the end. And if at the end of a week, you still don’t like it, now you can at least say, “Oh, Zumba?  I tried that for a week.  I felt like a spastic Dancing With the Stars contestant and I don’t like it.”

Tell me below what you’re going to try- maybe your challenge will inspire someone else!

FYI, Arthur is an aardvark.  In fact, he’s the “world’s most famous aardvark.”  Not much competition there, Arthur, but good job.  Message still remains” Try It, You’ll Like It!”