Final stretch!

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I am officially in the final week of the Ballerina Bum Transform Bootcamp challenge! And I just realized that I never really explained why I’m doing this, why I’ve followed through on my commitments, why I entered the contest in the first place. Yes, I talked about wanting to lose weight, get toned, and eat healthier. These are a few reasons I’m doing this, and the first two are indeed pretty vain though perfectly valid desires of mine. The biggest reason I’ve been committed to this transformation and will be committed to continuing it past these initial four weeks is because I know what’s at stake. High cholesterol and high blood pressure run in my family. Presently, I do not have either of these (though I did see a slightly elevated triglyceride level on my most recent blood work), but I am certainly susceptible to them and would think they would manifest a little later in my life. I’m trying to prevent that, and the easiest road to prevention is maintaining regular exercise and eating healthy (and continuing to not smoke). Two actions that are totally within my control; two actions that fit into my schedule when I choose to prioritize them. Though this is the easiest road, I’m not saying it’s easy. It does take purposeful planning and I can see circumstances that may make it harder (a robust travel schedule, kids, school, etc.); but if you’re grounded in what’s at stake, you have a North Star to guide you.

Though I’m years away from having little ones of my own, I do think about how my health already impacts people I care about–my mom, dad, brother, Evan, and rest of my family—and how it will definitely impact my future kids. If I can get a head start and be in the best shape possible and in the best health condition possible before they arrive, I’ll be set up to continue an active and healthy lifestyle with them. Now, friends, don’t go reading too much into this; I am years and years away I promise, but I honestly do think about it. Before I started the Transform Bootcamp, I was getting a decent amount of exercise (less than I would have liked) but I really didn’t think much about what I was eating. These two actions go hand in hand. “Abs are made in the kitchen!” as my brother has reminded me. I am grateful that this has jump started my approach to healthy eating, and I will forever be more conscious of what I am putting into my body. Paired with a more intense yet manageable fitness  regimen, I am completely energized and feeling excellent. (P.S. I first wrote “regime” but caught it. Maybe one day I’ll have a fitness regime…) So thanks to all of you who have encouraged me, checked-in on how it’s going, and read through these long posts. And of course a huge thanks to MaZi and Dr. Mike!

Now for a quick update: if you’ll remember from my last post, I was in Birmingham last week at a TFA conference. The day after my post from Birmingham, the scene was quite different. Birmingham experienced a snowstorm—something that rarely ever happens—and the city essentially shut down because they don’t have the infrastructure to respond to such an emergency. Being from Chicago, it was  a surreal experience, but I am so appreciative of the hotel staff—some of whom slept at the hotel that week—who kept us safe and comfortable. I literally did not step outside between Monday night and Friday morning when I left Birmingham. My team ended up eating more meals within the hotel than planned (there were really no other options) and so it was a bit of a struggle in terms of food options; I think what I mean by that is that I really didn’t have a choice in what to eat since there was a set menu for lunches and dinners.

Boxed lunches meant just eating the meat and cheese on the sandwich and painfully giving away the cookies/brownies that were enclosed. The snack options of fruits and veggies were really helpful to sustaining me; I also thought ahead and brought a container of almonds and cashews. One dinner meant loading up on the meat options, one meant eating the vegetarian option, and another meant my one and only cheat thus far: they somehow managed to get Domino’s to make enough pizzas to feed most of the conference attendees, and because I couldn’t just eat salad (because I knew that wouldn’t be enough for me), I had gluten-free pizza. I don’t feel guilty at all about this cheat (it was pretty good), and it was still gluten-free though likely not grain free. I did fit in my one workout for the trip (only one necessary because I frontloaded my workouts) by doing my MaZi home workout in my hotel room after reconfiguring the furniture so I had enough space. I shared a room with a new TFA friend, and luckily for her she was not there to experience my dances and exercises. It felt so great to get back to MaZi this past weekend, and I’ve been hitting it hard since I’ve been back—gotta finish out strong!

Two recipes to share: The first is not healthy but was a grain-free Super Bowl party friendly option: IMG_20140204_211856bacon wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese. I mean, just delicious. I think dates might be good for you (maybe), but the rest of it is not. I’d recommend the recipe though and perhaps only making it every once in a while. The second comes from my Transform Bootcamp buddy, Lauren, who shared her recipe for grain-free “protein bars” with me. We actually went to Trader Joe’s together, post-MaZi workout, to so she could guide me to the ingredients. These things are SOOO good. Really. And so easy to make as long as you have a food processor. Essentially the recipe is equal parts hazelnuts (or any nuts you may prefer), figs, and Trader Joe’s Golden Berry Blend (raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, and dried blueberries). I did a cup of each and also added in a IMG_20140204_211458tablespoon of flaxseed for good measure. Grind ’em up in a food processor, pour out the contents onto a baking sheet, press down to create sufficiently thick bars, and store them in the refrigerator. So good and so easy. Evan has even requested another batch. Thanks for the recipe, Lauren!

I don’t think I’ll experiment much this week, but I plan to do some more next week. Be on the lookout for an update then!

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