We’re just beginning the second quarter of the year. It seems like a good time to check in with your health and fitness goals that you began in the New Year. Are you still working toward them or have you given them up?
It is important to find a lifestyle to live with respect to eating. The reality is that we cannot eat tons of food and processed stuff and maintain great health. We’re setting ourselves up to gain extra weight as well as a poor performing body when it isn’t provided with the nutrients it needs. On the other side of the coin, it is challenging and unrealistic, for most people to eat totally clean, all of the time. The idea is to find a lifestyle that you can live on an ongoing basis.

I propose that you eat clean 6 days a week and have a treat day once a week. On this treat day, enjoy foods with the caveat that you eat only until full. No overeating. Have a glass or two of wine or beer, if that’s what you enjoy. Have a piece of cake at the birthday party. Then the next day get back to your clean eating with sufficient clean protein, preferably grass-fed, if you consume meat. If you do not consume meat, be sure that you are getting sufficient protein via legumes such as lentils and soaked beans. If you use soy products, be sure they are fermented ones such as natto, tempeh, and miso. Clean eating also includes healthful fats such as butter and ghee (clarified butter); coconut oil and MCT oil (modified coconut oil to isolate the medium chain triglycerides); avocados and avocado oil; olives and olive oil; nuts, seeds, and macadamia nut oil; 85% or higher dark chocolate; free-range eggs (including the yolks); grass-fed meat and wild fish (if you consume meat); and full-fat dairy such as goat’s (preferably raw, if you have that available). Moreover, clean eating includes lots of green vegetables (and cauliflower) as well as whole food complex carbohydrates such as carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, beets, etc. If you choose to eat grains, whole grains which are not overly processed, are best such as oats, quinoa, and wild rice. Take into account that some people’s bodies do not like grains, such as mine. I do much better not eating them or having gluten-free ones, on occasion. They cause a great deal of inflammation in the body and we definitely want to stay away from inflammation as it increases the likelihood of autoimmune dis-eases where the body attacks itself.

Another important aspect of clean eating is to consume plenty of water. Our bodies are made up mostly of water and we lose a great deal of it through our normal bodily functions such as breathing, sweating, crying, urinating, etc. each day. Water is needed for our muscles to function effectively; for the nerve impulses to be sent to and from the brain; to maintain the balance of body fluids needed for digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature; helps control calorie intake; creates beautiful skin; helps your kidneys eliminate toxins and waste products; and assists proper bowel function. As a general guideline, it is suggested that we drink about half of our body weight, in pounds, in ounces of water. For simple math, I’ll use a 160 lb person.
160 lb / 2 = 80 ounces of water per day
80 ounces of water / 8 ounce glass = 10 glasses of water per day
10 glasses / 4 = 2.5 litres of water per day

Finally, another important component of clean eating is supplementation. I believe that everyone needs to supplement due to the state of our food. With modern farming practices, pesticide use, soil depletion, early picking, and long travel times, our food just does not have the same nutrient content that it used to even 50 years ago. This means that we need to consume way more food to get the nutrients that our bodies need. If we actually did this, we would gain an excessive amount of weight! When our body does not get the nutrients it needs, it continues to signal that it is hungry. This is why we get cravings for certain things. See the picture below which covers common food cravings, what our body is actually looking for, and better food choices to give your body the nutrients that it requires. Eating local and preferably organic foods helps to combat this nutrient deficiency as the shorter time that a food is off the vine, the more nutrients it has. The best way to combat this nutrient deficiency is to supplement. The supplements that I use and believe in are the Complete Essentials from Isagenix which we covered last month.

This month I would like to focus on the Performance Pak as it includes items that our bodies need such as quality protein via IsaLean Pro, IsaPro, and Amped Protein bars as well as including the Complete Essentials.  The majority of people do not consume enough protein for their bodies to function and repair effectively.  This is especially true of athletes, whether we’re talking about weekend warriors, body builders, sports enthusiasts, or those who just exercise for health.  The Isagenix Performance Pak contains quality whey protein from New Zealand happy cows (if you can tolerate cow’s dairy) or the non-dairy shakes have a combination of rice and pea protein.  These shakes also contain a variety of nutrients and are specifically formulated to include everything that your body needs post workout or exercise session.  They’re also a great way for people who are busy to ensure that they get a clean and healthful meal that is quick and easy.  The Performance Pak also includes pre-workout drinks such as Amped Nitro or Amped Power and e+ shots which ensure that your muscles have the energy they need to perform their best.  Similarly, it contains a post-workout drink, Amped Recover, that ensures that your muscles recover quickly and effectively so you can get back to your next workout or training session more quickly.  Amped Hydrate helps your body have energy and stay hydrated during your workouts.  Amped Fuel is for long distance folks such as marathon runners and triathletes.  Ionix Supreme assists your body in managing stress and also gives you energy when taken during the day and relaxes you just before sleep due to the adaptogenic herbs that it contains.

This is the system of non-dairy products that I used for my transformation for my first bodybuilding fitness competition.  The transformation pictures you see are from October 2016 to May 2017.  During this time frame, I released 32 lbs of body fat and gained lean muscle which can be seen through the over 38 inches that I released.  While 5lbs of fat and 5lbs of muscle weigh the same, the muscle takes up less room than the fat and uses more energy to be maintained than the fat.  This means we can eat more quality calories and maintain our desired weight.

Understand that these pictures were taken on show day and therefore do not reflect what I look like every day nor are they a healthful way to live as I am severely dehydrated so the judges can see my muscles.  That being said, I am no where near where I was at the starting point either.  I have lots of lean muscle with a normal amount of body fat ranging in the 20-25% area.  The stage pictures are below 20% body fat and the before pictures are above 35%.  The front picture is a back stage photo shoot that I did at the competition.  The side picture is the Figure category that I competed in and the back picture is the bikini category that I competed in.  They are all taken on the same day.

The non-dairy Performance Pak is also the pak that I use to maintain my desired body composition in between competitions.

Our bodies are meant to move.  In this current society, we spend an excessive amount of time sitting.  Sitting is the worst thing for your body!  It is a silent and slow killer!  Did you know that sitting places 11X more pressure on your spine than standing or lying down?  Not good for back health and pain reduction!  I’m definitely not suggesting that you lay or stand all the time.  The reality is that we need to sit for certain activities. For example, we definitely need to sit to drive our vehicles with their current design.  People with desk jobs are often required to sit for extended periods of time.  This doesn’t have to be the case with ergonomically designed desks that allow both standing and sitting positions.  If you have the option, request one of these to allow you to change position often throughout the day.  If this is not an option for you, I suggest getting up and moving regularly during your day as well as doing some stretches right at your desk.  Stretching is particularly important for everyone to do each day to help combat this sitting dis-ease that we all have!

Here are a few chair Yoga stretches that can help a great deal in eliminating back pain.  Hold each pose for a slow count of 30 seconds at least.  As we age, our muscles take longer to relax when stretching so 10 seconds is not enough.  If you can, 1 minute would be even better!  If possible, use a timer as 30 seconds is a lot longer than you think and people often rush their counting.

Here is another series of stretching that you can do at your desk each day or while watching TV in the evening, if you choose to do this.  These ones specifically target issues with working on computers and repetitive strain.  I highly recommend that you do them often throughout the day at your desk if you are an office worker.



Seated Spinal Twist

Sit on your chair sideways so that your shoulders and back are perpendicular to the back of the chair. Sit up straight, place your feet on the ground and place your hands on the back of the chair. Using your arms, twist, gently pulling yourself toward the chair while looking backwards. Switch the side of the chair you’re sitting on and repeat. This pose stretches out the spine, chest, and neck. Take approximately 8 to 10 breaths on each side.

Cat/Cow Stretch

Sit up straight, place your feet flat on the floor, and rest the palms of your hands on top of your knees. Inhale, arch your back and look up, pulling your shoulders back as you do so. This will open up the whole front of the torso and neck. When you exhale, round your spine, pull the shoulders toward each other at the front of the body and drop your head toward your chest. This will stretch and open the back, shoulders, and neck. Do approximately 8 to 10 complete rounds.

Forward Bend

Stand up, place your feet flat on the floor, and bend over at the hips, bringing your chest toward or onto your thighs. Let your head drop loose and your arms hang beside you.  If you can touch your toes, bend your arms and hold opposite elbows to ensure a nice stretch in your back.  Take 8 to 10 breaths.

Eagle Arms

While sitting, reach your arms straight out in front of you, keeping them parallel with your shoulders and shoulder-distance apart. Bend the left arm upward and sweep the right arm under it. Wrap your right arm around the left until you are able to grab the outside edge of the left arm or until you are able to clasp your palms together. Lift the elbows away toward the ceiling and pull your hands away from your face. Repeat on the other side. This will stretch the muscles under the shoulder blades, the upper back, shoulders, and neck. Hold each side for approximately 8 to 10 breaths.

Standing Pidgeon Pose

Stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Facing the desk, place your knee and the bottom half of your leg on the desk. Bend your knee and pull your foot toward your body. Your leg should be parallel to your body. With your left leg straight, bend toward your right leg. Hold for approximately 8 to 10 breaths then repeat on the other side.

Chest Opener

Simply interlace your fingers behind you and place your arms on the top of your chair’s backrest, if you can reach that high. If not, reach as high as you can.  Your chest and shoulders will appreciate it. Hold this pose for 8 to 10 breaths.

Seated Number 4 Stretch

Sit up straight in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Cross your left leg over onto your right leg, placing the ankle of the left directly above the right knee. Thread your left hand between your legs and hold onto the back of your right thigh. Lift your legs up–using your right hand as well if you wish–until you feel a stretch in your left hip. Hold for 8 to 10 breaths and then repeat on the other side.

Wrist Stretch

Sitting or standing, extend your left arm straight out in front of you at shoulder height.  Gently pull the bottom of your left fingers back toward your body.  Hold the stretch until you feel the tension release.  Perform the opposite direction by pushing the top of your left fingers back toward your body.  Hold until you feel the tension release.  Repeat on the right side of your body.

Neck Stretch

Sit up straight in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Bring your chin toward your chest and roll the right ear to the right shoulder. To intensify the stretch, place your left hand just above your left ear. Gently apply pressure with the hand on your head and breathe through the stretch. Take approximately 8 to 10 breaths, then switch to the other side.

Chin Tuck Stretch

Sit with your back straight and feet planted on the floor.  Push your chin back while lifting the top of your head up to the ceiling.  This should produce a double chin.  Hold for a count of 8 to 10 breaths.

Besides stretching, it is important to find an activity that you love doing.  For me, this means lifting weights.  I also love to hike, swim, do Yoga, and ride my bike.  When we love doing an activity, it is no longer work.  It is something that we want and enjoy to do.  This assists us in ensuring that we move our body every day.  This is important for health and longevity.

If you’ve dropped your goal that you committed to at the beginning of the year, I invite you to pick it back up and reset your health.  Look for ways that you can eat that are healthful, nutrient-dense, and a lifestyle.  Look for ways that you can move your body every day that you enjoy.

If you enjoyed this article, have questions, or would like to walk with me on a journey of transforming from a mom mess to your version of goddess, contact me at 613-540-4515, email me at tracy@tracyhodge.com, and/or follow me on Instragram @mommesstogoddess or my Facebook pages Tracy West Hodge or Paths For Healing.