A year and a half ago I would never have thought I could give up dairy and I believed grains were essential to my health. I had a lot of beliefs and behaviors that were different.  I didn’t challenge myself in the gym. I believed I need hours of cardio and that I couldn’t lift heavy.  Wow how things have changed over the past year and a half.

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My whole journey really started when I was hitting 215+ again and I hated it.  My current husband and I had our first break up.  I was devastated and hit an all time high with my weight.  I finally got back into Kempo (Chinese Street Defense – a form of martial arts).  I started to slowly lose the weight. We ended up getting back together and I continued to try to get healthy.  My problem was that I was sabotaging myself and blaming it on my husband.  I would eat fairly decent during the week and then on the weekend undo everything I had done.  I tried weight watcher and that didn’t work. I took fat burner, that didn’t work.  I tried Atkins, I hated that because it made me feel crappy and I thought it was because I wasn’t getting carbs.  Now I know it was because I was detoxing from sugar and processed carbs.  Looking back with what I know now, I can’t believe I did many of the things I did, but I did the best that I could with the information that I had so there was nothing wrong with the choices I made then.

So the weight slowly, very slowly started coming off.  Then in December of 2011 a friend asked me to do a bikini competition and I jumped at the chance.  I was super excited.  I found my coach, Jill Colemen owner of Jillfit.com and started working with her as part of an elite coaching group.  I have to say I am so happy and grateful I found her because not only has she motivated and inspired me, I have also met and become good friends with several other women, who also motivate and inspire me to continue my journey.  When I started working with Jill, I was eating dairy all the time and in fact, I was a cheeseaholic, I would come home and just eat slices of cheese preferably sharp cheddar but almost any cheese would do even fake Kraft cheese.  I believed that grains were essential and I needed to eat 6+ servings of them per day.  Well you can imagine my surprise when I got my first competition diet and dairy was completely gone and the only grains I could have were rice and oat bran and I could only have carbs 2 times per day. I had four choices in carbs though – grapefruit, apple, rice or oat bran.  It was a shock but I did it. I struggled but what I noticed was my body changed in very positive ways, my skin cleared up and I felt more energetic and had a glow about me, well that is how my husband described it.

Since working with my coach, and doing the competition diet & training many things have changed.  I don’t eat dairy every day and right now I am considering completely giving it up.  When I eat cheese, low-fat cottage cheese and plain non-fat greek yogurt and I typically eat the highest quality I can and try to make sure it is organic.  I have given up grains completely at this point and you know what I don’t really miss them, I have found great healthier substitutes that I love and eat just as filling but leave me also feeling lighter at the same time.  I also found that many grains upset my stomach, not all but many of them, especially if I eat too many.  As for fitness, now I do very little cardio (I probably won’t do any really unless I train for another competition).  That doesn’t mean I am not active.  I enjoy doing sprints, walking/hiking, riding my beach cruiser with my hubby and teaching cardio kickboxing.  I am also still actively studying Kempo.  Before I started training with Jill, I was only able to curl 15 pound dumbbells, now I CURL 25 pound Dumbbells. I am looking forward to the day I do 30s – hopefully its around the corner.  I use a rest-based circuit with all my weight training to get my cardio in – go as fast and push as hard as I can until I have to rest and then start again.  It has been serving me well.  I can now also do regular push-ups and I can do a one handed modified push-up – working on doing a one handed regular push-up but that will have to wait until my shoulder is completely healed.  Lastly, I have read so many more books, listened to more podcasts, attended webinars, and read blogs than I ever did before.  All this new knowledge has helped shape my current beliefs about health, nutrition & fitness.  I am continuing to learn more and more each day.

So what can you do?  Well here are 3 things I used to change my life that can help you achieve your goals:

1) Look at your habits, I mean really look at them.  Write things down, be honest with yourself.  Write down how much activity you have, what you do in the gym, at home, or even in the community for fun. Write all the food you ate, how much, when and even why – were you stressed, bored or really hungry.  Do this for a week, yes even on the weekend.  Include how many alcoholic drinks you have, how many times you eat out, if you eat chips or the bread they bring out.  The more information you collect the more data you will have to do a good assessment of why you are struggling.  If you don’t know why you are struggling this will help you figure out where you are struggling.  Keeping track of this helps increase your awareness and once you are aware of your habits, tendencies and behaviors you can start to change them.  If you don’t have awareness of what you are doing, how can you change it?

2)  Write down your beliefs about health and fat loss.  What do you believe, what have your heard, what have you tried?  Write down whether it worked or not?  Did you like it?  This is an important part of your journey, going back to see what works and how your body responded to something helps create more awareness.  Some of my friends have found that when they started running they got fatter.  I also found the same thing.  I didn’t lose any “real” weight, and when I did it was muscle, not the fat I was hoping to lose.  Now I sprint, which is still running but a muscle shorter distance and better for fat loss.  So write down things that helped and didn’t work.  Also write down what type of activity you like.  Do you like dancing, boxing, running or something else?  Remember that being healthy should be something you enjoy and look forward too, not something you dread.

3) Get educated.  Start listening to podcasts about health and fitness (some of my favorites are Smarter Science of Slim, The Underground Wellness Show and Cut the Fat Podcast – both available on itunes for free).  Read blogs – some of my favorites are jillfit.com, metaboliceffect.com, MarksDailyApple.com, smarterscienceofslim.com,  niashanks.com, just to name a few.  And if you want to know who I am following on facebook.com – just check there to see who I am following.  I have also read some great books over the past year including The Metabolic Effect Diet and The Primal Blueprint, as well as The Four Agreements, How Successful People Think, Being Happy and Loving What is, just to name a few.  The important thing is that you get educated.  I have also started learning more about living a Paleo lifestyle and it is something I am moving towards.

What is important is that you figure out where you are and where you have been.  Once you have done that they you can start to learn new things and try them out.  Give it a good go, which is about 30 days.  So if you want to see how your body will react to no dairy – don’t eat it for 30 days.  You want to see what your body does with walking for 30 minutes daily – try it for 30 days.  Once you try it then you can decide if it is something you can continue or need something you need to tweak a little.  JUST TRY ONE THING AT A TIME, for 30 days and see what happens.

Many times we get super motivated and try to do everything at once and it becomes overwhelming and we quit after one or two weeks.  One great way to avoid that is just to do one change at a time.  It could be as simple as adding in a daily walk or not eating sugar/sweets.   The great thing is you control what you choose.  Remember I am always here to support you so please feel free to email me with your struggles at amanda@beautifulufitnessuniversity.com

You have the power to change! ~ Amanda oxox