Journey to the best health of my life (yes, the journey includes olives)


Whole30 made me feel beautiful

I’ve finished my second round of Whole 30. In fact, I finished a few days ago.  I have been wanting to write a post, but (and I’m being brutally honest here!) I had mixed feelings on the day I finished.  I was extremely proud of myself.  I still am.  I did 30 full days of sticking to the rules.  By the seventh day I noticed that my shirt was feeling loose around my tummy.  By the end of Whole30 my pants were falling off as I ran up the stairs for the train.  My energy was up; my skin was glowing; my system felt clean.  Result!  Why wasn’t I jumping up and down? (aside from the fact I did not want my trousers pants to fall off!)

I had to think long and hard about that question.  Like many of you, I have been struggling for years with my weight.  Even with Whole30 success it did not feel like enough.  I started Whole30 weighing in at 238lbs.  I finished 16lbs lighter at 222lbs.  Before you all go crazy and jump on me – I get it, 16lbs is a GREAT loss.  I’ll be honest – it was not enough for me.  I wanted to lose 100lbs yesterday.

I spent the last few days changing the way I think.  My brain needed to be retrained.  Success is measured in small steps, and not just one big step.  It’s all about the small steps we take on our journey that will turn into that big change we want to see.  That decision I made to not consume something off plan was a small step.  That decision I made to to exercise was a small step.  That decision I made to give 110% to Whole30 was a small step.  Small steps are enough.  Small steps lead to big changes.

My results are enough.  To me, the weight loss is a small step. It’s a small percentage of the long journey ahead of me.  However, it took a lifetime for me to get to where I am today and I cannot expect to lose 100lbs overnight. In addition, I now truly appreciate all the results.  I am on this journey to be the healthiest version of myself that I can be.  I have seen many positive changes while completing Whole30.  They are all small wins.  If I can continue the small wins I will reach my goal.

Whole30 did not just guide me to eating nutritious well-balanced meals. Whole30 challenged my mind.  It led me through a path of emotions that has truly changed my life.   It forced me to open my eyes and now I view my successes differently.  I am going to stop putting myself down and instead celebrate all my successes – big or small!

I looked in the mirror this morning and I felt beautiful.  Beautiful because my body is well-nourished; beautiful because I am taking small steps to improve my health; beautiful because I am true to myself; beautiful because when I smile I’m truly smiling.  My husband tells me all the time that I’m beautiful, but rarely in my life have I truly believed it. Today, I believe it.

I have no affiliation with Whole30 – I just think it’s an amazing FREE program.  Check it out here.  Also, I would strongly recommend reading It Starts With Food.  It’s a fantastic book!  



My favorite exercises – no equipment needed

I’ve been working out regularly since 2008. I worked with a personal trainer for 4 years during that time. He showed me so many different exercises and, although I try to keep my workouts varied, these exercises are always in my routine. I love them because they kick my butt – every. single. time. Also, they are great for people of any level and can be done anywhere, anytime – no excuses!  It is important to move – even a little is better than nothing.  Incorporate exercise into your daily life – it is so important!


Do you have any favorite exercises?  I’m always looking to bring variety to my workout so please share in the comments!



Half squats, full squats, with no weights, with weights, two legs, one leg – this exercise has many challenging levels.  If you want to look good great from behind then you WILL do them!  They are tougher than they look, but they will get you results.


This is an exercise with huge variety. Forward walking, reverse, sideways, jumping (in one area), with a twist, with weights in front, weights above. Two lunges for every step, five for every step.  You can even add kicks and punches to the lunges.  Variety is important and this is one exercise that you can change up so many times.


You feel push-ups all the way to your core.  Push-ups on your knee, full push-up on the ground or on an elevated bar, push-ups with a twist, with one leg, with a clap, with feet elevated, push-ups with a wide grip or narrow grip.  Again, I could go on and on with variations.  There is a style of push-up that you can do, and there will always be a style of push-up that will challenge you.  Do not shy away from this exercise.


Keeping your body in a plank position is probably harder than you ever imagined!  Once you have 10 seconds down you can work on 20, 30, 60 and so on.  You can do it with your arms straight, or rest on your forearms, or even as a side plank on one arm.  Try it on one leg, or alternating legs.  You can also incorporate various movements – legs stepping or jumping out and in,  walking around a medicine ball, shoulder taps, lifting alternate arms, climbers.  You can simply go up and down from straight arms to your forearm and back up to straight arms.  Your body will never bore of this exercise as long as you keep pushing yourself.  Why not try a 30 day plank challenge?

Skipping rope

Ok, so this one technically needs equipment (or imagination!).  It’s simple and effective.  I find it a great way to include this as a quick burst of cardio during a HIIT circuit.  If you don’t have a rope try jumping jacks instead.  This video will give you some idea of the variations in this exercise.

Turkish get-ups

If you don’t know this exercise then learn the steps and do it.  I typically do it with a light weight in my hand.  I know – I said no equipment, but this exercise is too good to leave off the list!  If you do not have any weights handy, a can or bottle of water will do!  All you need is a floor to lie down on – and then just get up.  Simple, but a challenging and effective full body workout.


I saved the best until last!  This one kills me every time (in a good way!).  I couldn’t do them before.  I look so ungraceful, but exercise is not about being graceful!  I tried and tried again, and I have got better.  I can even do a few in a row (read: big accomplishment!).  One day I will be as light on my feet as this guy:



30 Days of HIIT: DONE!

I’ve been quiet on the blog about 30 Days of HIIT, but I promise that I was completing the daily challenges and am now DONE!  I sweat, I burned, I pushed, I conquered – that’s right: I kicked butt!

A lot of my comments for 30 Days of Cardio Blast spill over into this so I will refrain from repeating myself 🙂

I mentioned the awesome general stopwatch in another post but what I didn’t mention was that each daily workout has its own stopwatch at the bottom of the daily page with beeps to let you know you need to switch exercise.  See here for an example.  This was really useful during 30 days of HIIT because the exercises were based on time, rather than a specific number of reps.  All I had to do was listen out for the beep to move to the next exercise.  On a (technical) side note: the beeps did not work on Firefox for me, but they did work on Chrome.

I enjoyed the HIIT challenge just as much as I enjoyed the Cardio Blast challenge.  Yes, that’s right, I enjoyed it!  When I found it really tough I reminded myself that there was only seconds remaining and that helped me to keep pushing and not give up.  It is a really well thought out 30 days and I did not get bored.  I love that Neila Rey takes away all the thinking!  All I have to do is just do it!  As with my last 30 day challenge I saw noticeable improvements in various exercises.  It is truly amazing what a few minutes of dedication a day can do!

I’m glad I had completed the Cardio Blast challenge before doing the HIIT challenge.  I was already familiar with some movements, and it gave me confidence to try exercises that I was not necessarily comfortable with.  Some of the exercises in the HIIT challenge definitely took me to another level.  I’m completing these challenges while also keeping up with my regular workouts.  I feel like I’m getting stronger at a faster rate because of these challenges.  I see the difference in my regular workouts.

Most importantly, I feel really good.  I set out to complete two 30 day challenges and I’ve done them both!  Did you get that?  I met two goals!  I’m really proud of myself for sticking with it and I know that my dedication will pay off in the long run.  I am feeling very positive about the future – it has been a long time coming.

I’m starting my next 30 day challenge (thank you voters!) this week!




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The results are in! [my next Neila Rey challenge]

Screenshot of the results

Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote.  You are all wonderful!  Neila Rey’s 30 days of strength won by a landslide!  I will complete this next and will keep you updated with my progress.

For those of you wondering, I have finished 30 days of HIIT and will write a summary soon. 🙂


Whole30: Day 1

As promised, my first day is done! Normally the first day is pretty easy right? I prepped on the weekend, and had all my food ready and planned.  I opened my fridge in the morning and it just made me smile.  I have a variety of freshly cut up and ready to eat vegetables which look so good.  I was ready to go!  I had my breakfast (eggs, a small salad, half a grapefruit).  That kept me going until lunch where I had some pork, a large salad and the rest of the grapefruit from the morning.  Then came the challenge.

Day 1 challenge

A few people at work went to get coffees.  Last week I told my colleagues that I was starting a 30 day clean eating challenge on Monday.  One colleague asked if I wanted something from Starbucks.  I said no, and that I was fine.  She came back with a coffee for me – one of the new ones for the season (caramel something?). She insisted I have it.  I reminded her that I just started a clean eating challenge.  She responded saying that I could just make it a ‘cheat day’ – everyone has them.  I’m not even going to get into ‘cheat days’ right now, and how I absolutely hate that term.  I’ll leave that for another post.  And a cheat day on day 1 – or any day for that matter?!  I don’t think so!

So, I thought, what do I do now?  How to I handle someone at work that is trying to sabotage my 30 days of clean eating?  It may be coming from a good place, but she is still trying to sabotage me.  I have real health issues, and may have even more serious health issues if I do not focus on clean eating.  I’ve been vocal about my 30 day challenge and I just wish that everyone respected that.  At the same time I did not want to offend her.  All to often ‘not offending someone’ has led me down a path that away from my health goals.

I decided I was not going to let the Starbucks coffee sabotage day 1.  I poured it down the sink.  I felt terrible because by taking the coffee and not drinking it I was not being honest with my colleague.  Maybe one day I will be able to just say no, and not worry about offending others.  However, when I evaluated my day I felt really good about the decision I had made to not break a promise to myself.

I will face more challenges over the next 29 days.  I hope I have the strength to make the right decision every single time.

Have you faced challenges like this?  How do you deal with it?  I would appreciate any tips!


Day 1: 30 days of HIIT

I said I was going to start today and I am a woman of my word 🙂 Day 1 is done! I feel great and cannot wait to attack the next 29 days.  This is me right now …

A quick tip – Neila Rey’s stopwatch is AWESOME! I used it during 30 days of cardio blast to monitor my rest time between sets, but I can see it’s going to be even more useful during HIIT.


30 days of cardio blast: DONE!

I’m excited to report that I completed Neila Rey’s 30 Days of Cardio Blast challenge! That’s right, I put my mind to it, I put my heart into it and I DID IT.  It was not easy doing it every day.  One day in particular I felt really low.  I normally would have done nothing that day – I would have curled up in front of the TV and hidden behind the blankets – but on this day I was committed.  It was probably not my most powerful workout, but I still did it – like getting up and brushing my teeth I knew that it had to be done.  It felt just like routine – so it worked!

Is 30 Days of Cardio Blast for you?

YES! No excuses 🙂

“I already workout regularly”

So do I!  I went to the gym on my regular workout days and also completed all 30 days of this challenge.  Sometimes I incorporated the daily workout at the gym, other days I did it at home.

Also, this challenge will give you variety.  It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut.  It remind me of little exercises that I can do between sets at the gym (like active rest), or even when I’m watching TV.  It also reminded me that if I can’t make it to the gym I can still sweat with some quick and interesting workouts.  There really are no excuses!

“I get bored easily”

There is so much variety every day and most workouts seem to go so fast because you’re moving from one exercise to the next.  I loved how every day was different.  The workouts will be over before you know it.

“I don’t think this will be challenging enough for me”

Oh, trust me – it probably will be.  Every workout looked much easier on paper than when I actually did it.  My husband, who is much fitter than me, found it challenging.  In addition there are 3 levels – each level has a higher number of sets.  I did it on level 1 so I know there is definitely room for more challenge for me!

“I can’t do all the exercises in the challenge”

Neither can I!  However, there is a version of those exercises that you can do – so do that.  For example, my friend had difficulty completing the plank jumping jacks.  Instead she stepped in and out.  You’ll also find that you might not be able to something the first time that exercise comes up, but when you do it again in a few days you can suddenly do more than you could the first time. For example, initially my friend couldn’t step in and out.  She just held a plank position.  The same exercise showed up a few days later – and this time she was able to step in and out – progress!

“I don’t have time to do this everyday”

Yes you do – most days it took me 15 minutes or less to complete the workout.  Everyone can find 15 minutes in the day.

“No really, I can’t do this daily”

Ok – well how about you still take on the challenge, but commit to a workout every other day, or even 3 days a week?  For example, day 1 on Monday, day 2 on Wednesday, day 3 on Friday etc.

My friend fell off the challenge wagon during week 3.  She had gone from no regular workout routine to working out daily.  When she was not able to do the workout, or did not feel like doing it, she was feeling bad and beating herself up over it.  She also felt guilty about letting me down.  That’s the opposite impact these 30 days should have!  You should feel good about what you are doing and good about yourself!  That’s when I suggested to her that she could tackle the challenge by having gap days.  That way you are still completing a challenge and you are mentally able to get through it on a positive note.

“But there are no rest days?!”

There are challenge days where you have to complete something throughout the day.  For example, 300 leg raises.  These are effectively rest days.  You can split the exercise out during the day and it’s not as intense as one of the other days.  However, it still gets your blood flowing and helps keep you in the habit of doing exercise.

“15 minutes a day won’t help me see any changes”

I found it helpful to remember that all the small things I was doing everyday were having a positive impact on the bigger picture.   Let’s face it – no one cares about the small changes – they want to see the big change right away.  Well, remember: small change + small change + small change = big changes.  After 30 days I definitely saw improvement.  You have to take small consistent steps to see big results and changes.

“I don’t want to do it”

You have to want to do it.  The resources are there, but if you don’t push yourself then you won’t do it.  It’s much easier to talk yourself out of a workout than talk yourself into one.  Remember why you have thought about working out.  My guess is the number one reason is for your health.  That’s my number one reason.  I want to live a full and long life.  There are no guarantees, but I know that incorporating exercise works in my favor.

What’s next for me?

Another 30 day challenge of course!  I’m going to attack Neila Rey’s 30 days of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) v2.  I plan to start on Sunday – anyone want to join me?!  C’mon – you know you want to!!

Other posts in this series
Neila Rey’s challenge – 30 days of cardio blast
Day 1: 30 days of cardio blast
Week 1: 30 days of cardio blast
Week 2: 30 days of cardio blast