Don’t compare your chapter 1 to someone’s chapter 20

Everyone has a different journey. We are all unique.  One day may be great – the next may be more difficult. Life is not easy, your path may have bumps – but focus on yourself & not those around you.

Oftentimes, especially when it comes to our fitness journey, it’s easy to compare ourselves to the next person. Social media easily persuades you that Sally & Jennifer have an easy time to losing weight & toning their arms, while you’re struggling to even get 50 ounces of water in for the day.  Though those things may be somewhat true, you don’t know what they are struggling with.  We all have our own difficult circumstances to overcome and conquer.  You will one day rejoice in completing your goals.

We are all human, so it’s a natural tendency to compare yourself to each person around you when it comes to fitness, family, health, money, etc.  It’s easy to feel frustrated or defeated– but remind yourself of all that you are capable of, how far you have come & all the exciting things in your future.  Keep a positive attitude – even when you have to try really hard.  Take it one day at a time – one moment at a time.  Your journey is your journey for a reason – you were given it, because you can handle it, even when you feel that may not be true.

The key is to focus on the things you can control: your zest for bettering yourself, planning a workout each day, making time for the important people in your life, and keeping a positive attitude.  You can overcome, and you will!  You will be successful in your journey. Focus on what you can control, and you’re half way there!  Stay in your own lane, and you will move forward so much faster.

-Sheehan (Ambassador)

Five things we can learn from the Olympics

The end of summer can be pretty depressing. It means the end of pool parties, vacations, road trips and the start of school. However, every four years the Olympics come around and ease the summer blues! Watching the world’s most talented athletes compete is thrilling.

The sense of unity and national pride is almost palatable during this season. It’s such a breath of fresh air as compared to the polarizing talk of politics buzzing around these days. We can all agree that Simon and Phelps are amazing! I love watching the athletes compete and excel. The sporting events are all varied, but the athletes are all similar in their strength, talent, and drive to crush their goals.

Even though we are only participating as bystanders on our couches, there are several things we can learn from these incredible athletes.

1. Commitment to your goals.
The dedication and commitment that these athletes demonstrate is a large reason they are at the Olympics. At some point, they decided they wanted to be the best. In order to reach that goal, they had to focus and practice.  We might not be striving to compete to be the best at a certain sporting event, but we can strive towards our personal fitness goals. Dream big and work hard!

2. Practice doesn’t make perfect.
Yes, you read that correctly. In order to perfect their skills, these athletes had to be willing to fail, take correction and try again. Practice makes perfect is simply not correct. Perfection comes from learning from our mistakes and trying again until we get it right.

3. Our mindset is vital for our performance.
Have you ever seen an athlete make a mistake and not be able to recover? It can mean the difference between victory and defeat. The same is true for us mere mortals. Discouragement and self doubt are crippling.

4. We all need support.
Whenever an athlete wins, one of my favorite parts to watch is the expression of their parents or spouse. I love seeing the overwhelming sense of pride and excitement beaming on their face.  They may not have won, but the sense of accomplish is shared with their athlete.  It reminds me about the power of support. We all need someone in our corner cheering us on and helping us celebrate our victories.

5. It takes a village.
Something that always strikes me is the amount of resources, coaches and support that is behind each athlete. They didn’t arrive to the podium to receive that medal alone. Don’t try to go about your fitness alone either! Work It Out 100 is here for you! We are all on our own fitness journeys and would love to share the knowledge we have learned on the way. A great new resource is the Facebook group for new challengers. So take the challenge, join the group and let’s reach our goals together.

-Krista (Ambassador)

Obstacle Course Racing – Challenge Your Body & Mind

Obstacle Course Racing: a newer industry rapidly expanding across the United States and world. In 2014, approximately 1.5 million people registered for 150 obstacle course racing events in the United States. What is obstacle course racing (OCR)? OCR races are ones in which there’s a combination of running, and obstacles to challenge you to your fullest potential. Each one is different in mileage & obstacles, but they all revolve around team work & pushing you to be your best.

Most recently, I have become a new OCR racer. No 1st or 2nd place ribbons or prize money, but to challenge myself at the next level. The two races I have completed have been fun, tiring, hot, bruised, and have worn me out to extreme muscle failure – but they have always been worth it.

Each race has different obstacles; they test your strength and endurance: climbing 12 ft walls (believe me, there was tons of help from friends & my boyfriend on this one), river crossings, hills, ladders, cargo nets, crawling under barbed wire, jumping over fire, carrying logs & buckets, and more!

What I love most about these races is that they’re team-oriented. Since I am new in this racing industry, I am still working on upper body strength, and endurance. But, lack of those things won’t stop you if you’re interested in one! Whether you sign up by yourself, or with a group of friends, others around you will help you climb over or under things, and push through each obstacle. They are usually muddy, and tough – but it’s so rewarding to cross the finish line. They generally take place in mountains, hills, state parks, ski resorts, corn fields, trails, or any other venue that will support the race. OCR races range from 3-13+ miles, with 20-40 obstacles, taking 30 minutes – 10 hours to complete.

If you’re interested in training for a race, you’ll definitely want to focus on strength & endurance conditioning – pull ups, burpees, pushups, planks, intervals, sprints, farmer’s carry, hills/ stairmaster, and trail running. Don’t let the extensiveness of the training get in your way, though – you will find yourself improving each race you conquer. Time doesn’t matter – finishing does.

Sign up for a race in your area – search: Obstacle Course Races, Spartan Races, Battlefrog (as most recently seen on ESPN!), Tough Mudder, or Warrior Dash races – I promise it will be the most fun, & muddy race you’ve ever done! Conquer your fears, overcome more than you think you can – it will be worth it! Every muscle will hurt the next day, you’ll find mud in places you didn’t know were possible – but they will be addictive (just think, it’s like a huge playground for adults!)!

-Sheehan (Ambassador)

Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies

As I am rearing up to go camping with my hubby and some family I knew I needed some items to help keep me on track! This is something I am going to throw together in order to help stay on track and get some healthy food in my diet! Keep them for some energy snacks on hiking trails, for a sweet start to my die, late night fire snack, etc.

INGREDIENTS
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
¼ cup honey
1 cup rolled old-fashioned oats
1 cup quick cooking oats
⅔ cup dried cranberries
⅔ cup pumpkin seeds
¼ cup ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs, beaten

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a baking sheet.
In a small bowl warm coconut oil and honey (either microwave, inside preheating oven or on the stove top).
In a large bowl combine both kinds of oats, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, ground flax, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Add pumpkin puree, eggs and warmed coconut oil and honey. Stir until fully combined.
Drop about ¼ cup sized scoops of the mixture onto a cookie sheet and flatten (cookies won’t spread while baking). Bake for about 15-20 minutes until edges are lightly browned.
Let cookies cool on baking sheet before moving to an airtight storage container.

NUTRITION INFORMATION
Serving size: 1 cookie Calories: 221 Fat: 10.8g Saturated fat: 5g Carbohydrates: 27.2gSugar: 10.7g Sodium: 111.6mg Fiber: 3.9g Protein:6.7g Cholesterol: 31mg

Kodiak Attack (Protein Pancakes)

1/2 cup Kodiak cake mix
2 Tablespoons of egg whites
1/2 scoop Blondie, snickerdoodle or chocolate peanut butter pescience protein powder (or any protein powder with casein in it!)
Water
Mix until it’s a pasty texture
Pour on griddle into a pancake
Top with melted peanut butter!
3f 40c 36p (without toppings)

-Bee (Ambassador)

Sleeping your way to weight loss

Sleep is one of the most under-rated keys to weight loss.  Now-a-days, many people in today’s society wear “being tired” and “too busy” as a badge of honor.  Sleep is incredibly important for many reasons, and it is usually the first thing that people forgo when life gets hectic. According to WebMD, 2/3 of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep in the typical week.

Looking back in the last few years in my life, I worked hard, and slept very little.  Work, work, work – living the fast -paced life.  One day, I put a stop on that life when I found myself in the emergency room – temporarily losing my peripheral vision, brain fog, and a general state of confusion of what was going on in my life. I knew I was lacking sleep, and wasn’t taking care of myself. I needed to make a change.

That moment is a “life changing moment” for me, when things started to change for the better.

With the help of #workitout100, I was able to start to establish a healthier lifestyle – a combination of physical activity & healthier food choices.  After finding that Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post had a similar life changing moment, I began to dig deeper in the importance of sleep & weight loss.  In her book, “The Sleep Revolution” there is many interesting pieces of information to back up weight loss & sleep.  “Those with 6 hours of sleep or less a night are 23% more likely to be overweight. Additionally, those will consume, on average, 559 more calories a day.”

When you are sleep deprived, your judgment is off – you’re more likely to make poor decisions when it comes to food choices.  Additionally, you most likely won’t want to work out or do any sort of physical activity. Studies suggest 7-8 hours of sleep a night to be & do your best.   Scientifically speaking, there is a ton more research when it comes to fat loss & sleep – it’s definitely worth checking out.

My suggestion – if you don’t sleep enough: prioritize & be productive.  Find time throughout the day to accomplish the things you need to.  Get a quick workout in, eat nutritious, wholesome, & protein-dense food, and get the recommended amount of sleep.  You’ll be amazed at how great you feel.

Note: the days I didn’t get the recommended amount of sleep, I felt tired, lethargic, made poor food decisions, and wasn’t in the best mood.  Sleep is key!

-Sheehan (Ambassador)

Guest Blogger: New adventure of being dairy free

Growing up five minutes away from the Wisconsin border, it’s safe to say, ‘I LOVE cheese’. Summer nights in a small town were spent picking up a cone at Dairy Queen. My mom’s #1 treat when she was pregnant with me was milk and cookies, so needless to say, milk and cookies flow through my veins.

So what do you do when you figure out you might have to be ‘Dairy Free?’ Talk about a lifestyle change.

Cheese. Pastries. Ice Cream. Smoothies. Yogurt. Coffee drinks. Chocolate.

No more.

A few months back I started noticing that every time I ate something with dairy in it, I would get awful intestinal pains to the point of being nauseous – especially if I ate something really creamy and rich. Even if I just had a little bit of dairy, the bloat was UNBELIEVABLE. Attractive, right? I’ve done the research, and apparently this is something that can come on as an adult. Yay adulting –
I was tired of being in pain and feeling like a cow, no pun intended, so I decided to be dairy free. And I basically went cold turkey.

So what have I had to change? Below are just a FEW things…

Coffee
No more creamer! Regular coffee creamer was not something I thought about it, but it was one of the worst culprits being so creamy and all. And say goodbye to all those fun Starbucks drinks. Really hoping in the fall I can make my PSL dairy free!! This basic can’t live without it.

Have no fear – you can still drink your coffee with a little extra flavor with coffee creamers made with coconut milk, almond milk , and soy milk. My favorite is probably So Delicious Coconut Milk Coffee Creamers. So Delicious makes a TON of delicious dairy free options for other treats too.

cocnut milkCheese
This has by far been the hardest thing for me. My husband used to call me a mouse because I would snack on cheese slices. Beer cheese and crackers was my favorite party appetizer. I ate cheeseburgers, not hamburgers. Mac n Cheese was my guilty pleasure.

I knew there was ‘faux’ cheese out there, but I’ve been nervous to try it. This Wisconsin lover can’t like fake cheese. It’s not right. That was until a few weeks into my cold turkey dairy free experience that I was CRAVING macaroni and cheese. I knew I had to find some dairy free options. I was nervous about the taste – but then I remember that in my college years, when I would be drinking till 3 AM, I’d head to Pick Me Up Café in Wrigleyville and order the Vegan Mac N’ Cheese. And from what I do remember, it tasted pretty darn good.

So I found Amy’s Dairy Free Mac N Cheese. Sure it’s a ‘frozen tv dinner’ but was eating from the Blue Box any better? No. So it’ll be my new guilty pleasure. Amy’s uses Daiya Vegan cheese. Daiya makes a TON of vegan cheese options like cheese slices, shredded cheese, Pizza, cheesecakes, cream cheeses, and yogurts. Basically a LOT. I just haven’t found them all yet to try! But that Amy’s Dairy Free Mac N Cheese is pretty darn good and does remind me of the college glory days – minus the hangover.

Amys mac

Chocolate & Pastries
Okay, maybe this is the hardest thing? Maybe it’s the hardest because it’s the thing you tend to forget. Oh ya, chocolate is made with milk. Oh ya, that pastry is really butter heavy (that’s right, no butter). Luckily, in Chicago, some bakeries do offer Vegan options. For instance I’ve already tried Vegan Donuts from Stan’s Donuts & Sprinkle’s Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes.

And thank God for Pinterest. The amount of recipes out there for dairy free desserts & chocolates is insane. Now I just have to find the time to make them. And when I’m craving just straight chocolate as every woman does, I’ve found that they do make candy bars that are dairy free. I’ve tried Chocolate Dreams Dark Chocolate Bar. Pretty good!

vegan

The thing I’ve found about desserts & pastries, is that you’re probably going to have to make your own as not that many places have dairy free/vegan options. Going to grandma’s house I can no longer eat the dessert that’s served. Time to start bringing my own Ben & Jerry’s Dairy Free Pints.

A lot of people ask if I’ve lost any weight doing this. No, I haven’t, but I sure feel a hell of a lot better! And I’m not doing this because I want to, I have to.  And even though I feel better, it’s definitely a burden. Going out to eat isn’t the same as I have to dissect the menu by each ingredient and ask the server questions. Most people don’t get it and think I’m just being picky. Um no, I’ve been forced to do this. Trust me, all I want to do is eat your buttery pastas. Your milky chocolates and your home made custard.

In the end, although I complain, I’m still finding ways to eat my little secret pleasures!

-Courtney (Ambassador)

A little truth about life and fitness

We’ve all had those days. When life becomes crazy and you’re schedule feels like you barely have time to sleep.  Everyone always keeps repeating the quote that says ‘You make time for what you truly want’, which is true.  However, if you are like me, there sometimes doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to incorporate everything I truly want to.  When these days happen, heading to the gym for a workout sadly gets pushed down on my list.

Now yes, I am an ambassador for an online fitness challenge and I am admitting to not going to the gym every single day.  Do I beat myself up for this fact? Absolutely not! I am human and beating myself up for being someone who’s life can become suddenly chaotic each day is not healthy (or necessary).  Because of WorkItOut100 and going through various rounds of the 100 day challenge, my body has gotten used to being active every single day.  And every single day, even on the days when I am not getting my sweat on in the gym, I am active.  I make the conscious decision to walk those extra blocks, to take the stairs instead of the escalator/elevator and to get up to talk to a co-worker instead of sending an email.

The goal of WorkItOut100 is to help create a healthier lifestyle by getting up and moving.  Whatever that type of movement may be, just do it. Don’t beat yourself up for when life gets crazy and you’re not completely drenched in sweat at the gym.  To live a healthy lifestyle, you not only have to strive to be physically healthy, but mentally healthy.

Life happens, and we’re all here to enjoy the ride while we can.

-Brittany (Ambassador)

There is no such thing as “I can’t”

In life, there are no obstacles or challenges that you can’t get around, jump over or walk right through. As soon as you say “I can’t” your mind has already mentally shut off and you have accepted defeat.“

In fitness, we are made stronger by the challenges we face, but we have to decide to face them. If we avoid these opportunities or give up, we will never grow. Once we have decided the challenge is too great, we have already lost. We essentially create the outcome we are trying to avoid.  The same can be true in other areas of our lives. This valuable lesson was taught to me by one of my clients.

As a mental health counselor, I help individuals with disabilities prepare for employment.  This job allows me the privilege to hear many inspiring and heart wrenching stories about struggle and perseverance.  The story of the man who said this quote was one of those amazing stories. He suffered a tragic accident that resulted in the loss of most of his hand.   However, if you had the pleasure of meeting this man, you would instantly know he had decided not to be a victim, but to persevere. He reframed the way he looked as his life and chose to find ways around his challenges, instead of succumbing to despair. If we apply this outlook to other areas of life (fitness, relationships or work) think of what we can accomplish!

From a fitness perspective, I have seen this play out in the weight room. When I’m at the gym my goal is to lift weights and get stronger. But sometimes if I’m honest, I let myself get too comfortable. I look at that heavier dumbbell and I think, “I can’t lift that much.” Even if I attempt to lift heavier, if my mindset is already in “I can’t” mode, I really can’t do it! Amazingly enough, we are capable of much more than we think! Case in point, Sunday I was doing a superset of hip thrusters with leg extensions with the leg extension machine. The weight I was using was significantly more for hip thrusters. Well after doing my hip thrusters set, I forgot to lower the weight and what do you know, I was able to do the leg extension with 20 more pounds on it!

What I hope you take away from this is our mindset matters.  The story we play in our heads about our circumstances has a direct impact on the outcome. So today, remember you can find a way around that obstacle. Keep trying, keep pushing and don’t give into that voice in your head that says you can’t.

Krista (Ambassador)

Peanut butter oatmeal protein smoothie

1 scoop of Vanilla Or Peanut Butter Protein powder
1 banana
1/2 cup almond milk
2 tbsp peanut butter
1/4 cup of oats

Blend until mixed together and enjoy! Who doesn’t love Peanut Butter?!?!

-Nicole (Ambassador)