#fuelyourbetter - Vega Sport Review

Thursday, July 31, 2014

***Disclaimer: The following post is a review for Vega Sport. I was given the opportunity to participate in this review through my Sweat Pink ambassadorship and was provided with a package of pre-workout packets to sample for this review.  I received no other compensation and the opinions expressed in this blog about this product are 100% my own honest, unbiased opinion.***

I'm a firm believer in eating close to the earth and fueling your workouts with wholesome, healthy foods. Even so, as I increase my training schedule and continue to progress in my fitness goals, I have started looking for ways to improve my workouts. I need some energy - especially because, as I've mentioned before, I'm NOT a morning workout person. I fear that med school is going to force me to adopt an early schedule. 

I recently had the opportunity to try the new line of Vega Sport Pre-Workout Enhancement. If you aren't familiar with Vega, they are a company that formulates products that are plant-based and nutrient dense. They strive to minimize contact with common allergens in their products such as gluten, dairy, and soy.

Earlier this year, I also had the opportunity to try out their new line of nutrition bars which I reviewed here. Sometimes you just need to rely on a few quality products in a pinch - we're all so busy! 

 The pre-workout comes in two awesome flavors - acai berry and lemon lime. I tested the acai berry. What I liked most about the pre-workout was that there wasn't an artificial taste or after taste. At 70 calories a packet, I don't rely on the product daily but I found it to be an excellent add-on for early morning workouts or mid-afternoon when I'm energy deficient. 

Unlike many other pre-workout products, Vega Sport didn't make me feel jittery or highly caffeinated. I felt a  boost of energy - just enough to feel amped for my workout but not enough to feel out of control.  The best part? No post-workout crash that accompanies many other products that are loaded with sugar and caffeine. 

There is a little skill required to get the product to fully incorporate into your beverage of choice (I suggest just water). For best use, add to room temperature water and stir, stir, stir! Feel free to add ice after the product has dissolved. Drink it down and get your workout on!

I don't make a habit out of using a pre-workout supplement but I highly recommend Vega Sport if you are in a slump and need a little kick to get going! As a fan of their other products (protein powders and nutrition bars), I was happy to see their commitment to quality shined through in this supplement. 

Weigh In Wednesday: July 30

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Hump Day Blog Hop

Hello everybody! Welcome to Weigh-In Wednesday!
Please go check out my sweet co-hosts!

Ash @ A Step in the Right Direction
Erin @ She's A Big Star

Keeping it short and sweet today! Lots of things on my to-do lists (mostly because I waited until the last two weeks of summer to do things). I'm going to miss my leisurely mornings of watching the news and drinking my coffee/shake.  

No One-derland this week. *Sigh* I knew as soon as I woke up I didn't make it - I feel bloated. And sore. Very sore. It's possible I'm hanging on to some water weight.

Weighing In
Height: 5'8"
SW: 236.2
Last week: 201.2
This week: 201.8
Change: +0.6
Total Loss: -34.4 lbs

I'm chalking this up to lifting. Since I started learning more about strength training, I've realized my goal is less about "weight loss" and more about body composition change. I definitely wouldn't be upset with being at a higher healthy weight if it means being solid muscle with lower body fat. I understand that it's pretty hard/impossible to build muscle and lose fat at the same time - since they are opposite processes (catabolic vs. anabolic). None the less, I going to continue to preserve my muscle tissue by lifting!

{Did you know the beautiful Marilyn Monroe lifted weights? She has a perfect hourglass shape that many women seek - lifting won't make you bulky!}

Growing up, I thought it was all about being "skinny" at all costs - I would starve myself, then binge, then workout excessively to count the binge.  It's an unhealthy cycle and it stops working pretty quick. {For the record, I'm not skinny shaming. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being skinny or wanting to be skinny if that is your goal. Sometimes I think thin people get just as much crap as heavier people.} 

For now I'm going to keep plugging along, sticking to my calculated macros (which means tracking accurately!!!) and my workout schedule. If things don't move in the next two weeks, it will be time to reassess my macros/caloric intake. Whatever program you are following, give it time to work! Do NOT throw in the towel.

One of the reasons you see people taking "selfies" all the time is to track their progress. At first I felt super awkward doing this but I'm so glad I started. Photos & all the other measures tell a different story about my progress. The scale doesn't tell me if I've lost fat or gained muscle. The scale doesn't tell me if my clothes fit a little better and the scale certainly doesn't tell me that I've taken about 15 more seconds off my mile. Next week when I redo my measurements, the scale might not tell me I've lost those inches either.
These pictures are all 3 weeks apart from each other and represent ~ 2 months of progress (June 6 - July 27). Now I don't know if it's just good angles or lighting or mirrors or who knows what but I feel like there are small changes happening. The funny part? I weigh exactly the same as I did two months ago. Up and down, right? 

Like I said before, I'm still going to weigh in each week until I hit a healthy weight for my height. But as I continue to develop healthier habits, it starts meaning less and less.  

How do you measure your progress? 
How has your view of weight loss/reaching goals changed as you got older?

**Today is Day 10 of Midsummer Shape Up**

Raise your hand if you are still going strong! *raises hand* It's still not too late to join in on the fun. Physical activity 30 days in a row - anything you want! Make sure to CHECK IN via social media with the hashtag #midsummer30for30

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Let's Talk Medicine: Reflecting on My First Year of Medical School

Monday, July 28, 2014

With my summer coming to an end in less than a month, I've been doing a lot of thinking about school - what I learned, what I want to improve on, and how I want to approach my second year of school.

When I started this blog, one of my main reasons for doing so was to document my journey through medical school (maybe even residency some day). I didn't do a very good job of that! On one hand, there really isn't anything too exciting about lectures, study groups, and pouring over notes. On the other, plenty of other cool things happened like standardized patient encounters (pretend to be a doctor), Simulation labs, practical exams, and all my activities outside the classroom that I wish I would've talked about more!

Usually when people ask how school is/was going, my response is pretty simple, "I survived," - and I mean that in every sense of the word. I survived the rigor and the new "balance" in my life. I made it through and I'm so proud of that - it was a tough year but a very fulfilling time as well!

To sum everything up nicely, here are my thoughts on my first year! {Here's my post on my first semester}

We're considered to be an "OMS-I" or Osteopathic Medical Student year 1 (MD counterparts are MS1s). If you're scratching your head asking "What is Osteopathic medicine," click HERE. We receive the same training as MDs with some additional training in manual manipulative techniques to diagnosis and treat patients - basically another tool in our toolbox. Beyond the technique, osteopathic medicine professes a unique philosophy that is easily summed up by the four tenets:
  1. The body is a unit and the person is a unit of mind, body, and spirit.
  2. The body is capable of self-regulation, self-healing, and health maintenance
  3. Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated.
  4. Rational treatment is based upon an understanding of the basic principles of body unity, self-regulation, and the interrelationship of structure and function.
In summary, osteopathic physicians seek to "find health" and support the body's ability to regulate and heal itself. We believe in evaluating and treating our patients holistically - everything from considering their socioeconomic status to their personal attitudes about health and more. Think about it - how helpful is it for me to prescribe a treatment plan for a patient that they are unwilling to follow - maybe they have personal objections to it or maybe they can't afford it. As physicians we need to be in tune with these considerations and get creative! 
I think you will find that allopathic (MD) physicians have been embracing these principles for many years now as well!

For the first two years of school, we spend most of our time learning in a classroom - lectures, small group sessions, anatomy lab, OMM lab, etc.

My school operates on an integrated systems-based curriculum which means the traditional subjects - histology, physiology, pharmacology, biochemistry - are all taught at the same time for a given body system such as Cardiology or Neurology. In addition to our system courses, we always have Introduction to Clinical Medicine and Osteopathic Principles & Practice running.

Traditionally the first year of medical school is spent learning how the body should function normally with the second year devoted to dysfunction and disease. I feel like most programs these days, regardless if they are systems, discipline, or another configuration tend to integrate the information taught in order to make it easier to put it all together in time for boards and clinical rotations. 


First Semester:
  • Anatomy & Embryology
    • The bread and butter of medical school and our first class ever! Hours spent in the cadaver lab dissecting and then many more hours trying to memorize everything we learned in lab and lecture. That class and I got off to a rough start in the beginning but I worked my butt off to finish strong in the end. 
  • Scientific Foundations of Medicine 
    • Four years worth of basic science (lots of biochem, genetics, micro, etc.) smushed down into about three months. Our first lecture: Water. How appropriate as med school is often described as "trying to drink from a firehose," or "eating a whole elephant." As the name suggests, we covered all the basic science we would need in order to understand our systems courses. Many students major in non-science fields of study so they want to ensure we are all on the same page!
  • Hematology
    • Anything and everything related to blood (except cancer - that's all in another block). I found this course to be really enjoyable and interesting.
  • Skeletal Muscle 
    • This was a short course that was packed into the last two weeks of our fall semester - kind of a catch all to set us up for our Neuro block. We included some musculoskeletal injuries and basic muscular disorders. 
  • Osteopathic Principles & Practice 
    • "Learning to be an osteopathic physician class" - we learn ALL about the musculoskeletal system and how that interacts with all the other body systems -- i.e. a problem you are having with your gut may manifest as referred pain, tenderness, or restriction elsewhere. I actually find OPP to be challenging at times -- learning to use your hands and your eyes to assist your diagnosis and treatment is a lot harder than you might think!
  • Intro. to Clinical Medicine
    • Our "learning to be a doctor class" - taking a history, doing a comprehensive physical, writing SOAP notes, telling patients good/bad news, motivational interviewing, nutrition, reading EKGs, spirometry, case studies, group work, etc. Everything we're learning in our systems course is nicely paired with ICM so we are fortifying our knowledge. The most exciting part of ICM is our standardized patient encounters: a patient/actor plays out a scenario and we perform a history/physical, discuss our findings, and develop a plan. Then we write up our SOAP note - including our orders and plan for the patient. This is probably my favorite class - I enjoy getting to practice my new skills & learning how to put what we've learning into clinical situations.
Second Semester:
  • Neuroscience
    • By far the most challenging course for me, thus far! Neuro doesn't come to me very easily to me (which makes OPP fun too since they rely very heavily on each other).  It was packed into 6 weeks (really 5 after all the snow days). Definitely have to spend extra time with this information for board prep.
  • Cardiology
    • On the flip side - I LOVE LOVE LOVE cardio. I think the heart is the coolest thing ever (and I have a special love in my heart from interpreting EKGs - I love puzzles!). If for some reason I change my mind on specialties, I could totally see myself specializing in a cardio field. Our course director is incredible - I will post his website when I create my Resources blog post. 
  • Pulmonary
    • Lungs. Lots of physics involved, or at least it seemed that way. Blood gases, spirometry, etc. Meh.

  • Renal 
    • A lot can go wrong with those cute little guys. I think it's easy to gloss over the kidneys but they really do a lot more than just make pee :) 
  • Osteopathic Principles & Practice
    • Same as last semester with more emphasis on honing our technique and individualizing our approach to treatment. As our course director says, "there are many ways to skin a cat." As long as we are treating in a safe, effective manner we have a pretty free license to treat according to our strengths (there are a variety of techniques and ways to ennact change.)
  • Intro. to Clinical Medicine
    • As with first semester, we had standardized patient encounters (Objective Standardized Clinical Examination - OSCE) - one for Neuro and one for Cardio/Pulm. We also had an integrated OSCE for OPP. In addition to OSCEs, we started utilizing the SIM lab - we were presented with a clinical scenario while working in teams using real patients or SIM man. Following the encounter, we were given feedback by a faculty clinician. These were usually lower stakes and meant to be a learning opportunity (still received a grade though...).
    • Most weeks we had a lecture related to the systems course material and then a small group discussion of case studies.
Overall, I'm enjoying the systems courses. Our faculty does a fantastic job of integrating all that we've learning in the course AND previous courses so that we a forced to recall old material. Everything in medicine and in the body is interrelated -- I'm hoping this approach will make board studying just a TINY bit easier!

My Two Cents
My tips for your first year of medical school (or really any higher education pursuit) are pretty basic. 

  • First of all, be prepared to make sacrifices. While college may have seemed stressful, nothing will every compare to the daily stress of graduate school. Your free time will vanish and your priorities will shift. You will cherish moments with your family and friends more but you will miss out on things you wouldn't have missed before. 

  • That being said, it is VERY important to create balance in your life. Too many people burn themselves out -- several of my classmates seemed completely miserable throughout the year because they never gave themselves time to relax and breathe. IMHO, school is always a top priority but what good am I to anyone if I'm not taking care of my basic needs? Physical activity, healthy eating, time with loved ones, hobbies, etc. -- it is all still doable! 

  • Take care of yourself. This goes along with balance but safe guard your health. Make time for physical activity - it will relieve stress and could be a social opportunity. Make time to eat healthy - it's easy to grab-n-go and eat lots of junk when you're studying all night but I promise, with a little prep it can be done! 
    • Get enough sleep! Aim for 7 hours a night - in my opinion, if you are studying actively and working diligently there should be no reason to skimp on sleep. That said, I've pulled some pretty late nights leading up to exams - mostly because I felt unprepared. Do it if you must but don't make it a habit. There will be plenty of time in residency to be sleep deprived!
    • Monitor your mental health. 20-30% of medical students suffer from depression. That is a staggering amount - I don't know the specifics of that statistic (at any one time or collectively through the first two years). The point is, depression and other mental health issues are a VERY real thing. If you start to struggle, seek help from professionals and lean on your support network.
  • Study SMART. I think the biggest difference between college and med school (for me) is that you need to be more efficient with your time (I struggle with this). In college I was involved in several activities, had a job, and was a science/pre-med major - reflecting back, I had SO MUCH FREE TIME. When you study, you should be active and focused. That means set a timer and ditch Facebook, TV, cell phones, etc. If you study well with a group, make sure you pick people with similar learning styles that are also focused. Find out how you study and run with it. Just make the most of your time so you CAN have that life balance! 

  • Remember why you are there. When you sit in a classroom all day, it's very easy to forget that one day you will have the honor of caring for people in their most vulnerable moments. You are studying all of this because you want to be the best physician possible for your patients (not to be number one in the class or get the most scholarships - though I'm sure that helps!). Keep YOUR reasons for pursuing medicine at the forefront of your mind for those times you want to give up, quit, leave, or pursue a new life as an AP Biology teacher named Chastin Carmichael living in Georgia with your 4 beautiful children and successful husband....that's definitely NOT my backup plan ;) *side eye*
  • It gets better. Or worse. It's up to you. Depending on who you talk to, you will either hear positive or negative things about your chosen profession and the future of medicine. I think it's easy to focus on the negative things you hear - even when I was shadowing as a pre-med, doctors would advise me to NOT go into medicine or NOT go into their chosen speciality. Same with medical school. I've heard 2nd year is the worst. 2nd year is the best. 3rd year is the worst. 4th year is the best. And on and on and on...I tend to think it is up to ME whether this all gets better or worse. My attitude will determine if I am miserable (I'm sure I will be at some point) or happy (I'm positive I will be, too). Attitude is everything because there are always 50 things going on that could potentially ruin your day...you choose whether they do.

  • Be kind. Life is hard enough, just be a nice person. Whether you like it or not, medicine is a TEAM sport. Be nice to the nursing students/nurses. Be nice to your fellow classmates. Be nice to anyone you meet! Medicine is a small world and people will take notice of people who a difficult to work with. My classmates are AMAZING - they are dedicated, motivated, highly involved, and also super hilarious and fun! I feel sad for the minority of students who go all "gunner mode" and miss out on establishing lifelong friendships. 

Most of all, be kind to yourself. You might fail a test or a quiz (I did), even if you were the top of the class in college. That doesn't mean YOU are a failure or should move home to live with your momma. That means it's time to reevaluate your study habits, seek out assistance, and move on. Remember, you belong here! 

What's Next?
Second year is a very important time because immediately following the conclusion of our school year, we will take our first set of licensing boards before starting our clinical rotations. As a DO candidate, I have the option to take both the COMLEX (DO boards) & USMLE Step 1 (MD boards). These scores will be used to evaluate my residency applications so they are VERY important - often they are weighed significantly more than your basic science course grades.

In order to keep my options open, I will be taking BOTH sets of boards. I want to give myself every advantage during the Match process. Many DOs disagree with this strategy, saying that if a program values your education and your degree then they should accept your board scores. I'm not willing to risk it. I plan to take USMLE first and then do a week or two of OMM prep, then take COMLEX.

As far as a medical specialty, I'm leaning heavily towards Emergency Medicine or Pediatrics. Originally I was very interested in OB/Gyn but the unpredictable hours don't appeal to me as much -- I want to start a family some day soon! My ultimate goal at this point is the double board in EM/Peds so I can work in both Pediatric and Adult ERs, as well as work as a Pediatric Hospitalist if I choose to (EM is notorious for physician burn out). I'm about 90% sure I do NOT want to enter into private practice - I want to be a hospitalist of some sort. I'm anxious to see if my mind changes as time goes by. For now, I plan to keep a very open mind and just do my best to be a competitive applicant!

My next medical post will be a list of helpful resources for the first two years & finally a Q&A! 
Stay tuned!

Friday Five Things - July 25

Friday, July 25, 2014

1. Fitness
It's Day 5 of our Midsummer Shape Up Challenge - So far I'm going strong! How have you been doing? I'm seeing some great check-ins via social media!

2.7 miles & Leaner Legs

Morning workouts are inevitable once class starts...but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Woof.

...because if you don't workout in the morning, you end up waiting until the end of the day when you're tired and not in the mood. 20 min cardio & shoulders. Meh.

So far, so good. Gotta keep it up this weekend - hoping to get OUTSIDE for a run or two and add in some PiYo or Yoga, too. I'm feeling a little tight which contributes to my desire to sleep in until 8 am.

2. Food
Lots of yummy noms this week.

Zucchini noodles with pesto, veggies, and chicken. I plan to go pick up a vegetable spiralizer today so I can make these noodles with chicken breast and this sauce from Andrea @ A Doctor In The House because I have a ridiculous amount of tomatoes hanging out in the fridge!

A typical dinner of leftovers. We don't do fancy here. Crockpot chicken with Frank's Red Hot, veggies, and boiled potatoes with a little cheese (I had macros leftover so I went for it!)

Dessert because it fit my macros :) Quest Bar heated for 15 seconds with Peanut Butter and a handful of chocolate chips! I think the chocolate brownie is my favorite so far.

My favorite breakfast from this week - toast, Wholly Guacamole, sliced tomato, and an egg. Simply, fresh and delicious!

3. Sleep
My sleep schedule has been off for the past few weeks. I remember during the schedule year I had ZERO problems sleeping - even the night before exams. My brain was so exhausted that sleep was easy. Now, I go to sleep and my brain thinks it's go time! I attribute some of my sleep problems to getting married and sharing a bed for the first time! That's a hard adjustment. It also doesn't help that we are traveling back and forth every weekend, sleeping in different places.

I have to stop with the computer/TV/cell phone before bed and start reading more. Anything to calm my crazy brain down. In that respect, I'm so ready for school :) I love sleep! 

4. Weekend/Marriage
This weekend we have ZERO plans. AHHHHHH! Granted, that means we have a lot of administrative tasks to accomplish - the name changing saga continues, search for bedroom furniture, rearrange our living room, finishing thank you notes, - adult stuff. Life is pretty great!

It just dawned on me that Nick proposed a year ago tomorrow! What a crazy, whirlwind year it has been! The proposal story is HERE.


Thanks Instagram filters. You da bomb!

5. Free Clinic

Last semester I decided to get involved at a local free clinic by volunteering as a clinical assistant. The clinic provides free medical, dental, and social assistance to people in the community. I love their mission and everything they do - EVERY patient deserves to be treated with dignity. We should help as many people in need as we can! 

The clinic is beautiful. I was truly impressed when I first visited. "Free clinic" doesn't generally conjure up mental imagery that would be acceptable to the every day person but I assure you - it looks just like a regular doctor's office (maybe ever better). 

Anyway, in an effort to focus my extracurriculars (I tend to get involved in too many things) I decided to select just a few things this year to be really dedicated to as a supplement to my studies. I decided to run for a position on the Junior Board of the free clinic which is a group of young professionals that help the clinic fundraise and assist in any way they can around the clinic. I really excited to get move involved in the clinic outside of my occasional volunteer shift! 

Working with underserved populations has always been an interest of mine - I think this is one of the reasons I'm drawn to Emergency Medicine. I want to provide care to patients regardless of whether they have insurance or not. Quite frankly, I'd love to see a world where insurance is used as it was intended to be used - for catastrophic illness or disease only. Think of how the price of health care would decrease if we didn't have to file millions of insurance claims, fight with insurance companies to reimburse physicians, pay incredibly high premiums...etc. I think this would be a more realistic, fair way of ensuring everyone has access to care. I'm starting to ramble.

The point is, I'm excited to have this opportunity to get involved in an organization I value and support. You can read more about the clinic on their website

Do you volunteer? What is an issue/cause that is close to your heart?
What are your plans for the weekend?

Weigh In Wednesday: July 23 -- Almost there!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hello everybody! Welcome to Weigh-In Wednesday!
Please go check out my sweet co-hosts!

Ash @ A Step in the Right Direction
Erin @ She's A Big Star

The Hump Day Blog Hop
Another Wednesday closer to classes starting again...double woof. I'm ALWAYS excited to go back to school - school supply shopping, getting organized, seeing friends, etc. but sadly I'm just dreading it this year. Who knew being lazy for two months would be so fulfilling? :) That's not to say I sit around doing NOTHING all day, I still have my extracurricular activities in addition the blog, friends, etc. but the relative VAST amount of free time has been beautiful.  

I am looking forward to having some structure back in my life. I thrive most on having a set schedule and admittedly I'm not the best at self-directed motivation. Just tell me what to do and I'll do it! 

Weighing In
Height: 5'8"
SW: 236.2
Last week: 203.6
This week: 201.2
Change: -2.4
Total Loss: -35.0 lbs

This is my MFP journey over the last 3.5 years - I'm about 10 lbs from totally new territory!

So so so close to that magic number! I stayed off the scale all week until Tuesday morning. You know you're addicted to the scale when the impulse to weigh yourself is strong enough to make your irritable and anxious. Whew. I'm happy to be so close to my next goal but I feel like the scale is mocking me. Still though, a 2.4 lb loss after a concert weekend? I'm thrilled. I proved to myself I can have balance -- I can have a few treats as long as I stick to my plan the other 80-90% of the time. It's so liberating! 

One of my friends said something interesting yesterday that I took to heart. She said, "I don't weigh myself. I don't own a scale. I just go by how I feel. If I feel heavier, I go workout and eat healthier. If I feel lighter, I go for ice cream." I LOVE that. Granted, I reckon she is at a healthy weight already but I LOVE hearing from someone that isn't a slave to the scale -- her self-worth isn't determined by a number. I hope to get to that level of intuitive health once I reach a healthy weight for my frame and height. One day, I hope I won't have to count every calorie and log every workout. One day, I just want to operate on the good habits I'm creating now without even thinking about it. 

Happy, happy!

Have you been participating in the Midsummer Shape Up? If not, it's not too late to join us! I'm so proud of everyone that is checking in via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or just private messaging me! 

It's simple - get some physical activity in every day for the next month (ideally 30 minutes or more). Anything you want! Just move.

Before pictures from Sunday. Yikes

I highly recommend taking before/after pictures and measurements if you are participating! I would love to see your progress.

Nick and I already got out workout in for today - we woke up entirely too early and headed to the gym. Once again proved to myself that I'm not a morning gym person (in a concise 5 item list):
  1. Glasses. It's too early to put my contacts in and glasses are incredibly annoying to me, especially with sweat rolling down my face.
  2. Sleep. I don't have the same energy as I do at 8 pm and I'm usually extremely tired after a morning workout - who are these people that feel "energized?"
  3. Bowels. Morning is not a convenient time to be jumping up and down. And that's all I'll say about that.
  4. Gym rats. Apparently the gym is even busier at 5:45 am than it is at 8:00 pm. As an only child who isn't accustomed to "sharing", I'm not a willing participant.
  5. Food. I'm not a big fan of this fasted cardio business and I'm not willing to wake up even earlier to make food and digest it. 
Blah. I guess I'll keep trying. Either that or use the early morning to study/email/blog and then workout later after classes. Maybe it gets better! 

Are you a morning workout person?
Any tips for maximizing the benefits of a morning workout?

Midsummer Shape Up Challenge Starts Today!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Wake up, friends! Today is a very exciting day!!!

The Midsummer Shape Up begins today and I'm very excited that so many of you are up for the challenge!

The "rules" are simple: get your body moving EVERY SINGLE DAY for 30 days. The best part is you can do ANYTHING you want - you just need to move. Yoga, running, walking, lifting, swimming, a bike ride with your kids! There are so many options! Take this opportunity to try something new and really push yourself.

I love this challenge because you have do it in conjunction with any fitness program you are on or any other challenges you are taking part in! I'm doing Skinny Meg's challenge with Val - Fab Chick Gets Fit concurrently. No problem!

Why a workout challenge? Because most Americans have sedentary lifestyles. Many of us sit at desks all day, then we come home and sit on the couch. Research has shown that inactivity leads to many of our most common and alarming health problems - high blood pressure, high cholesterol (more LDL, less HDL -the "good" kind), high body fat (obesity). 

I think of exercise as a gateway to other healthier choices. I am more likely to make smarter food choices after I just kicked my butt in the gym. I am happier when I consistently workout - thanks, endorphins! When I'm happier, I stress less. Less stress means I'm more productive, more enjoyable to be around, and more likely to stay on top of my commitments. It's a win, win! Does anyone else feel like this? I never, ever regret a workout but I sure regret the ones I don't do!

Don't read me wrong on this - I'm not saying "go hard" in the gym 7 days a week with no rest. Mix up your intensity, try a variety of activities, and incorporate more lifestyle related movement in your day - take the stairs, walk after dinner, clean your house, etc. 

I highly encourage you to take before/after photos and measurements! (Even if you aren't trying to lose weight) The scale only tells part of the story. Monitor your progress somehow and you may be amazed at the results. I will be posting mine on WIW!

I CANNOT wait to see you all checking in, inspiring your loved ones, and becoming healthier, happier people! Tag me in your posts and use our hashtag #midsummer30for30.

On another note, we had a great weekend back home in Cincinnati. I really wanted to make sure I made good food choices while I was home so I prepped some meals! (salsa chicken, ground turkey, veggies, and quinoa/brown rice) People kind of poked fun at me for bringing my own food home but oh well...not everyone "understands" this journey or how HARD it is! That's ok. 

We still had a few meals out but it was nice that I was able to indulge purposefully because I made smarter choices earlier in the day. It's all about balance and I did SO MUCH BETTER than weekends home in the past.

On Saturday morning we hit the gym with Nick's parents - I love the rowing machine! I forgot to print off a routine so I just did what I felt like while focusing on the back. 

I set a new goal for myself to be able to do an unassisted pullup. Right now I'm working on the pull up machine but I hope to graduate to a bar and resistance bands soon. Currently I need about 130 lbs to do multiple pull ups - only lifting about 70 lbs of my body weight. Dismal but it's a start!

We found some athletic training tables (I would say manipulation tables) at the gym so I was able to practice a little OMT on my husband - I'm so rusty! His lower back was bothering him a bit so I popped and stretched it using HVLA and soft tissue manipulation -- "A chance to pop is a chance to cure." It's a good feeling knowing I can help someone after only a year of school! Obviously I can't do much but I feel like I've already learned A LOT thanks to my school!

In the evening we headed downtown for the Jason Aldean concert featuring Miranda Lambert, Florida-Georgia Line, & Tyler Farr. Such a good time! You all know I LOVE country music! Now I'm pumped for our next country concert - Luke Bryan - at the end of August in Indy!

The concert was held at Great American Ballpark which was such an improvement to Riverbend where most concerts are held. Regardless, the people watching was prime - one of my favorite activities. Can we talk about the high waisted, butt cheek showing, jean panties girls are wearing these days? Call me old school but I just don't get that trend. I hate sounding judgemental. Stop, Heather.

Our seats were down on the field which was a very, very cool place to be - we're big Cincinnati Reds fans! How awesome is it to stand where our favorite baseball players stand?

Miranda may have been the best part! I just love her and her hair was adorable! I heard she's playing in Indy with my other favorite - Thomas Rhett - but sadly, I have an exam to study for that weekend.

I'm pretty sure my phone was dead by the time Jason Aldean came out but he was also amazing! I forgot how many good songs he and Miranda have.  It was a great night and probably our last planned time in Cincinnati for a while. 

On Sunday morning, we embraced our inner married couple and went to Findlay Market after mass. Findlay Market is an awesome Cincinnati landmark located in Over-the-Rhine & one of the most diverse locations in the city. On weekends they feature a farmer's market in addition to their regular shops and markets. 

We basically did our grocery shopping for the next two weeks - sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peaches, green beans, gold potatoes. YUMMY! We also bought some chicken sausage, bacon, and cottage ham! 

With our new goodies, I'll get my meal planning done for the week - green beans, potatoes, and ham in the crockpot will cover us for a few dinners and lunches this week (with some leftovers from last week). Later in the week we will do a mini shrimp boil with the sausage and potatoes (plus corn) and salad. Next week I'll make a gumbo or jambalya - somehow I'll make it healthier :). We just have to be creative!

Supporting local business and knowing where you food comes from - I love farmer's markets! Can't wait to check out the City Market here in Indy!

Finally, on Sunday evening we hung out with the in-laws for dinner and tried a new place we've never been to (don't remember the name either). I got the zucchini "pasta" dish with tomatoes, onions, peppers, pesto, and grilled chicken! The portion was HUGE so I brought it home to have for lunch today. I would love to make this at home (albeit with less olive oil - it was a little excessive). 

How was your weekend? 

Are you participating in the Midsummer Shape Up? Any suggestions?