5 Things I’m Doing To Go After My Goals

I’m currently sitting at my local Starbucks at 3:04pm determined to get this Friday 5 post up today, Friday. One of my goals for the month of March is to get out of the house to work at a cafe or something at least once a week. Winning! I also wasn’t sure what my “5” should be for todays Friday 5, so I sat and sipped my latte and started thinking about life lately, and I’ve been working my booty off on several things to get the metaphorical ball rolling down hill towards achieving some major goals in the hopefully not too distant future, so let’s talk about that. Here are 5 things I’m currently doing to truly go after my goals instead of just talking about going after them instead.

1. Embracing Who I Really Am

I recently re-read the book The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin, and this time around it was a game changer. When it comes to personality quizzes, I am one of those people that will sometimes try to answer based on who i want to be instead of what the most truthful answer actually is. After getting completely fed up with how frequently I let myself down when it comes to getting things done and achieving goals, I decided it was time to re-visit this subject and actually be honest about who I am. It turns out that I am an Obliger, aka the type of person that needs external accountability to achieve any goal or task. Once I really thought about it, this made perfect sense.

I’m good at making sure my home is clean, there are always groceries, and I often will get destracted from other work in order to do housewife tasks that I notice should get done. Why? Because I know it will please my hardworking husband to come home to these things being done. I am also very diligent about showing up to the gym whenever I have a Bodypump or pilates class to go to. Why? I feel some weird obligation to the instructors.

Days that I don’t have a class and can go to the gym on my own time are the days I will literally spend hours arguing with myself over if I should actually go or if I can talk myself out of it. I have no one else to keep me accountable, therefore I don’t do what I’m supposed to do. For two months I have had “Diva and the Divine finances” on my to do list. Did I do anything about it? No. Instead, I got them done only when my husband said he needed them becuase he scheduled an appointment with our tax guy. Once someone else needed me to do it, it got done in 2 days.

As frustrating as this trait is to me, I’m starting to embrace it rather than change it, and the results are already starting to show. Finally accepting who I am at my core instead of trying to change my core has helped me use my tendency to my advantage instead of having it be a negative thing. I mean, I’m all about self-acceptance, and I guess this is a part of it I’ve never thought about before. This will be life-changing. Stay tuned for more as I navigate my way through this.

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5 Ways To Boost Your Energy WITHOUT The Help Of Caffeine!

Energy is something that I think at least 95% of us feel we need more of on a regular basis, and we definitely go to some extreme measures to get what we feel we need. Caffeine is the drug of choice for so many of us (myself included) and while the morning cup of coffee is essential, it isn’t long before we are downing 3+ cups just to get us through the workday. Then there’s energy drinks, caffeinated sodas, and even caffeinated gum and foods. Not that I’m personally complaining about the existence of any of these things (well, except maybe soda, but that was never my thing), but thanks to the daily availability and consumption of caffeine in our lives we are starting to become dependant on the stuff to keep ourselves going. This got me thinking…

There has got to be a better way! I will never give up the morning ritual of my hot cup of Joe, but when 2 pm rolls around and I’m itching for a boost, I don’t want to have to depend on coffee to get me through.  I decided to start messing around with other options. Recently, I heard Rachel Hollis say something about how our energy needs to be created, and I realized she was right, so the next time I started to fade, I started to brainstorm alternative options, and I came up with some great ones and have started implementing them into my daily practices. Now, does this mean I no longer reach for a little caffeine boost sometimes? No. I’m only human which means I’m not perfect, however, I have been loving using alternate options only to discover they work just as well as (and sometimes better than) and afternoon cup of coffee.  Here are a few of my favorite ways to boost my energy sans- caffeine.

1. Get Pumped Dance Party

The music lover in me might be biased, but there is something so energizing about turning on one of your favorite energizing songs and dancing around for a bit. Sometimes it’s just bopping around while standing up ( have to get a break from sitting!) and some days it turns into a legit, jumping around, fully choreographed, chasing Gracie around the house dance party. After just a song or two, I notice I start to feel re-energized and a little more clear-headed all at the same time. Below is my current “Get Pumped” playlist.  Don’t judge! You’ve got to find the songs that work for you! 

 

2. Eat For Energy

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September 2018 Goals

A new month means a new set of goals! While I am pumped for September and everything it means (fall, cooler weather, pumpkin spice, and other fall flavors, etc), it also means that we’re entering the last third of the year. This time of year is always crunch time, as I tend to realize just how many of my goals for the year I have yet to achieve. This realization is always a depressing one, but rather than dwell on it, I’m going to move forward and use my focus to make these last 4 months of the year the most productive ones of 2018.

Looking Back at August

Before we talk about the month ahead, I always like to look back at the previous month and reflect on how I did achieving the goals I set for myself.

Vlogust: 31 videos in 31 days was a lofty goal, and while I didn’t actually succeed (people who upload daily are crazy!), I did upload a whopping 22 videos in 31 days. That’s still almost twice my normal amount.

Declutter: I did end up decluttering my makeup collection (with several videos for your viewing pleasure on my channel), my clothing, and I started on my office. 

2 blog posts per week: Yeah… I published 4 posts all month. Whoops…

Get back on track: In general, August was a great month for this. I went back to tracking Points Plus, rekindled my spark for working out, and have in general been feeling pretty good about all things health and weight loss related. Basically, I’m using August as the month that springboards me into September and hopefully a month full of success. 

September Goals

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Food Sensitivity Testing With EverlyWell | EverlyWell Review

Food sensitivities and intolerances are a hot-button topic right now. People are self-diagnosing left and right and you see all sorts of diets (gluten-free, dairy-free, etc) all over the place. Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t people that legitimately need to avoid these foods, but I also am saying that are probably many people starting elimination type diets simply to be on trend or because they think they have an intolerance to something. 

I’m not going to lie, I’ve often wondered the same thing about my body. I don’t want to be required to live a dairy-free or gluten-free lifestyle, but I can’t help but wonder if I should.  Some of the symptoms of food intolerances are things I experience regularly, like skin issues (major skin issues), fatigue, brain fog, and of course the whole gas and bloating thing.  What originally sparked my interest in food sensitivities was not because I had these symptoms, but because I seemed to get these symptoms at weird and random times. There are some days I wake up and am having a great skin day (some people have good/bad hair days. I pay more attention to good/bad skin days) where my acne and redness seems to be less angry than normal and I feel somewhat confident in my skin. Then there are days where I wake up and my skin thinks I’m 15 again, hormones raging and acne raging right along with it. Breakouts everywhere. I never know if it’s my skincare (not likely) or my diet. If it’s my diet, why do I have good days and bad days?

I also experience the same thing with gas and bloating. As a chronic Weight Watcher and calorie counter, I consider a good day of eating to be when I’m fueling myself with healthy, clean foods and staying within my calorie range. Imagine my surprise when I am fueling my body so well (think lean protein, fruits, and veggies, whole grains, clean, good stuff) and in the evening I still end up extra gassy and feeling bloated despite doing everything “right” and staying away from junk. Then there are days where I feel great and have no issues. What in the world is going on?!

It dawned on me recently that while I don’t have any food allergies, there could always be a possibility of there being foods that my body has a reaction to that could be causing my issues. Ever since I considered this possibility, I wanted to get an official test done. Not an allergy test (I’ve had that done and despite being allergic to plenty of things, I’m not allergic to any foods), but a food sensitivity test. Apparently, this isn’t as easy to find as you’d think.

Until now…

Meet EverlyWell

I can’t remember how I heard of EverlyWell, but I know they were on my radar before they had their big moment on Shark Tank (one of my all-time favorite TV shows). EverlyWell is a company that offers at-home health testing. No doctors appointments, no health insurance. Just collecting a few drops of blood and sending it off to the lab the company works with. Then you can view your results online.  I mean, how can you not want to participate in something that easy?

EverlyWell has a ton of at home tests available, but the highlight for me was knowing there’s a food sensitivity test available. The EverlyWell food sensitivity test measures the body’s IgG immune response to 96 different foods that are most common in western diets. This test is different from a food allergy test. Allergies can be life-threatening, so if you think it’s an allergy you should head to your doctor. Allergies are tested by measuring IgE antibodies, which cannot currently be done at home. 

As I said, food sensitivities can trigger different physical symptoms. Some examples are:

  • Dry and itchy skin
  • Other miscellaneous skin problems (my issue is adult acne)
  • Food intolerance
  • Feeling bloated after eating
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Migraines
  • Headaches
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) distress
  • Stomach pain

Are you intrigued yet? I certainly was. Thankfully, I reached out to EverlyWell and they agreed to let me take the test in exchange for a review about the experience. As you guys know by now, I’m always honest and transparent about things like this, so yes, I got to take the test for free, but my experience and opinions are 100% my own opinions. Okay, now that we’re clear about that, let’s dive into my personal experience with this test. 

My EverlyWell Experience

I received my test in a timely manner, and everything was so organized it’s basically fool-proof. Here’s what came in the box:

  • alcohol wipe
  • bandage
  • gauze
  • 3 lancets
  • sample collection card
  • biohazard bag
  • EverlyWell bandage holder
  • mailing bag
  • registration code
  • instructions

The first thing you do when you have your kit is go to the EverlyWell website and get it all registered. Since all of your results are online, this is very important.  After you get your kit registered it’s time to get your blood sample collected. 

Using your ring or pinky finger (that’s what they suggest anyway) for the sample, all you do is wash your hands under running warm water (they don’t say anything about soap) for 30 seconds, dry, then take the alcohol wipe and clean the area. Use the lancet to prick your skin, then squeeze so you get a complete drop of blood. in a perfect world, you get 5 beautiful drops smack in the center of the circles on the first try, however, we all know things don’t always work out like that. Hence the bonus lancets, just in case you need to prick yourself again. Once your samples are collected let the card air dry for 30 minutes before putting it in the biohazard bag. Then package it back in the box, put it in the already labeled bag and send it off. Easy peasy!

Once the package arrives at the lab they’ll let you know and then it’s about 5 business days until your results are ready. I was super anxious to get them simply because I love knowing what is going on in my body, good, bad, or otherwise, and these results would hopefully give me even more insight into how my body works and how I can aid it in feeling its best.  Finally, 4 days later (yes, earlier than estimated) my results were in!

My EverlyWell Food Sensitivity Test Results

The first thing you see when you log in to your test results is a summary page telling you how many of each of the 96 foods landed in which level of reactivity. Your 4 options are high, moderate, mild, and low reactivities.  Foods clocking in at high and moderate are the ones most likely to be causing any issues and are the place to start when it comes to elimination in your diet. After doing that they suggest trying to eliminate some of the mild reactivity foods and after a period of time adding them back in one by one to see if they cause any of your issues as well. 

Ready to see my results??  Drum roll, please!

Right off the bat, I can rest easy, as there are ZERO foods that I’m highly reactive to. Hallelujah, happy day! However, you can see that I’m not totally in the clear, as I do have a whopping 1 food in the moderate category and 19 in the mild category.  Any guesses as to what my most reactive food is?  I thought for sure I’d be reactive in some way to dairy products, because dairy can cause acne and digestive issues and thanks to my love of protein, which includes yogurt, cheese, and of course all of the whey protein found in Quest products, it would only make sense that dairy is my obvious answer.  Was I right??

This deserves another drumroll…

GRAPES?!

Yup! Apparently, the food I am most reactive to is grapes. Who would have thought? Certainly not me!

Thankfully that’s the only thing that had a high enough reactivity for me to be concerned. I also reacted to 19 foods in the mild area, and the rest were low (meaning nothing to be concerned about) reactivity. See all of my results below. 

 

 

 

The surprises (other than the grapes) were gluten (and everything associated with it) and eggs being reactive and dairy having low enough reactivity where it isn’t an issue. I thought for sure dairy would be something that causes an issue for me, but alas, I was wrong! 

Will this change any of my habits? Maybe..

Grapes aren’t difficult for me to give up, as I don’t consume them much anyway. The biggest sacrifice would be having to give up wine. I don’t drink often at all, so having the occasional glass of wine is totally worth it for me, as I rarely overdo it anyway. Generally, leaving grapes behind will be easy. 

Gluten and eggs were a big shocker, and they’re both things that are in my diet every single day. Will I stop eating them? Probably not, but I will be considerate of the amount I consume in the future. Mindfulness is key here.

If I wanted to properly do an elimination diet, EverlyWell suggests eliminating all reactive foods for 30 days, then slowly re-introducing them one by one until you discover which food is the one causing the problem. While this is something I could do, I don’t immediately feel the need to go through such a serious process. However, if lightning and being mindful of consuming the foods I appear to be reactive to doesn’t solve my problems, then I might consider doing an elimination diet in the future. For now, I’m just going to be aware of what I’m eating and try and focus on more foods with a low reactivity, and peppering in my miles reactivity foods when they really count.

So that was my experience getting a food sensitivity test done from the comfort of my own home. Does this have you intrigued yet? If yes, I’ve got great news for you. The lovely people EverlyWell gave me a special code just for my readers. 

Use code DIVADIVINE for 15% off any EverlyWell test!! Hooray!

I emphasize the word any test because EverlyWell does more than just the at-home food sensitivity test. You can test your hormone levels, metabolism, and even get STD testing from the comfort of your own home thanks to this company. There’s an entire list of available tests on their website, so head over to EverlyWell to find out what tests are available to you. My code will get you 15% off whatever test you might decide to try. 

Have you ever had a food sensitivity test done? What were your reactions to the results, and did they change your eating habits in any way? Let me know in the comments below.  

7 Days of the Fab 4 Smoothie

 

As a chronic Weight Watcher, I’ve always had a certain way of thinking when it came to various macros. Generally, the rules are protein and fiber = good and fat and sugar = bad, right? Well as our diet culture continues to grow and change (which is a whole topic on its own), the keto diet has become a wildly trendy diet to be following. For those that don’t know, the keto diet is ahigh fat and way low carb way of eating. Think no sugar but all of the bacon and avocado you could ever want.  Now, before you get all in a tizzy, no, I am not going Keto. Simply put, I like sugar and carbs too much to give them up completely. While I’m not team Keto, I have been more and more intrigued by the idea of fat not being a “bad” food, but instead embracing the fat and using it to my diet’s advantage. Enter: Kelly LaVeque.

Kelly is a nutritionist and the author of the book Body Love. I actually heard Kelly speak on two separate podcasts that I love, so once I heard her the second time, I started thinking I should look into her way of eating a bit more. In a nutshell, Kelly’s approach involves creating your meals based on the “Fab 4”

The Fab 4

  • Protein

  • Fat (yes, fat)

  • Fiber

  • Greens

Notice how fat is listed in there? A solid combination of these types of foods will help keep you fuller longer, prevent blood sugar spikes, and help prevent turning your fuel into fat as well as promoting weight loss if that’s your goal.  I could dive in a lot deeper, but basically, that’s what you need to know about Kelly’s way of eating. If you want more information, I highly recommend her book, Body Love.

A cornerstone for Kelly’s Fab 4 lifestyle is the Fab 4 Smoothie. This is basically taking all of the components of a Fab 4 meal, and blending them up into an easy to consume breakfast that is satisfying, healthy, and metabolism-boosting.  Since there are a lot of her clients that start the day like this, I decided I wanted to give it a try, so I challenged myself to an entire week of consuming a Fab 4 smoothie at the start of my day just to see what happened. My start date was last Monday 7/9/18, and now the results are in.

My 7 Day Fab 4 Smoothie Challenge

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You CAN Eat Peanut Butter and Lose Weight! | Healthy Eating All The Time and Go Bars

Peanut butter is something that I have loved all my life, but let’s be honest when you’re on a diet and trying to lose weight peanut butter is basically one of the first things to go. At least this is the case for me. I honestly don’t remember the last time I had a good old fashion peanut butter and jelly sandwich or didn’t eat peanut butter without mourning how many Weight Watchers points and calories the small 2 tbsp serving ended up being. I pretty much resigned myself to a life without peanut butter unless it was powdered PB (While it gets the job done, it in no way compares to the real deal). Sad day.

You guys all know I love my bars. Quest Bars, No Cow Bars, Dive Bars, and everything in between. Especially when I’m pressed for time, there is something wonderful about having my nutrients all packed into one little portable bar. As per usual, when I discover new brands of bars, I have to give them a try. I’ve seen this brand on Instagram for quite some time now, with many Weight Watchers and healthy lifestyle accounts posting photo after photo, raving about this delicious bar. I finally decided I had to give them a try. 

I ended up with the complete Healthy Eating All The Time and Go (which I will from this point forward call HEAT bars for the sake of length) collection, both purchased by me and sent to me by the owner of the company.  Once I sat down and calculated the Points for all of the bars, which ranged from 6-8sp and 4-6pp, I opened up the one that seemed to be the most popular (cranberry peanut butter granola) and took a bite. 

..and then I died and went to a peanut butter filled Heaven.

I’m not even joking. This bar, which is only 4 PP (I’m currently following the old WW plan), was a delicious mouthful of REAL peanut butter flavor. It was the most delicious bar I had ever bitten into, and I’m not exaggerating. 

Wholesome, REAL Ingredients

Let’s talk about the ingredients for just a second. In a world of processed food that contains ingredients that sound anything but natural, the ingredients in HEAT bars are plain and simple: things like oats, natural peanut butter, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, almonds, honey, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried apple, and the occasional 60% cacao chip or whey protein. Clean, whole ingredients that are easy to read and more importantly, are easy on the body. In a world of sugar alcohols and artificial everything, this was a very welcome change.  Read more

Smart Sweets Gummy Bears

 

Gummy Bears are a classic when it comes to candy. These tiny little guys will bring a smile to your face and joy to your taste buds.  However, for those of us trying to lessen our sugar intake, gummy bears aren’t always something we can enjoy. Until now.

Did you know there is a gummy bear out there that is fruity, chewy, and delightful that contains only 3g of sugar per serving?? It’s true! They’re called Smart Sweets, and they’re most definitely the smarter way to enjoy gummy bears. 

What Are Smart Sweets?

Smart Sweets gummy bears offer all of the joys of eating this tasty, fun treat without all of the crazy sugar that gummy bears typically come with. While they aren’t completely sugar-free, they contain a whopping 3g of sugar per bag. While this would normally be alarming, fear not! They don’t contain any sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners either! *happy dance*

Smart Sweets are sweetened with plant-based, non-GMO stevia.  This means that there shouldn’t be any icky side effects in your digestive system because of artificial sweeteners. I mean, have you seen the reviews for Haribo sugar-free gummy bears on Amazon? It’s hilarious to read, but absolutely NOT hilarious to experience. You see, those are sweetened with the sugar alcohol maltitol, which can cause major issues for a lot of people. Thankfully, Smart Sweets has nothing like that in their ingredients list, making them an ideal candy substitute. 

Ready for another nutritional bonus of Smart Sweets? 28 g of dietary fiber! Read more

10 Things That Happen When You Eat Healthy

A healthy lifestyle is something that many of us strive to achieve on a regular basis. Year after year, New Years resolutions are made to go to the gym, eat healthier and cleaner, to lose weight, quit smoking, cut processed food, or to somehow change our body’s current competition and situation making life better and healthier. Many of us want to do it, but a lot of us haven’t quite figured out how. In an effort to help inspire some change, I want to tell you about 10 (not-so) crazy things that happened to my body when I’m focused on eating healthy.

Now, does this mean I am 100% on plan all the time? Of course not. Just the other day I enjoyed 2 delicious slices of Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizza, a Chicago classic, and while it’s not healthy, it was delicious and I enjoyed every bite. A healthy lifestyle means you’ve found a balance between eating healthy most of the time and figuring out how to work your indulgences into your plan in moderation. 

That being said, when I’m eating well most of the time, my body tells me, and there are some crazy things that happen when I’m on track.  Read more

Saying Farewell To Freestyle… For Now…

I know. This title is probably shocking to all of you. I’m saying farewell to Weight Watchers Freestyle?  It’s true, and while part of me is a little sad about it, I’m not actually abandoning Weight Watchers, but just the current plan. Allow me to explain. 

I love everything about Freestyle except one little detail: I’m not really losing weight! As an experiment, I took the season of Lent as an opportunity to step away from the scale and to focus on what I’m putting into my body more than the number on the scale. Healthy living is not always about the number, and I needed to regain sight of that. So for 47 days, I didn’t weigh myself. Instead, I focused on eating the right foods and staying on track. I had a few indulgences and a few days where I consumed a little bit more than I would have liked, but I tracked everything and in those 7 weeks I didn’t go over my weekly Smart Points allowance once. Not a single time! This means I stayed on track and balanced throughout the entire Lenten season.  I was really proud of this, and I was certain the scale would reflect my almost 7 weeks of effort and focus. Then I stepped on the scale on Easter morning… Read more

Easter Candy Cheat Sheet |Weight Watchers Smart Points Edition

EasterTitle

Okay friends, here’s the scoop.  As I’m sure you know by now, Weight Watchers launched a new program that completely redefined the values of our Points system.  This means that everything you knew about Points Plus is now irrelevant and Smart Points are the new Weight Watchers tracking system.  With the introduction to Smart Points came the recalculating of everything we had the PP values memorized on.  This, of course, includes our beloved Easter candy.  While I had an entire Easter Candy Cheat Sheet made up with Points Plus values (and it’s still valid for those who chose to stay on that plan), I felt compelled to write up another cheat sheet for the majority of us who transitioned to the Beyond the Scale plan with Smart Points.

Due to the nature of Smart Points, which really cracks down on our sugar intake (and for a good reason), you will notice that the Smart Points values of your favorite Easter goodies have gone up drastically.  While this is in fact a sad thing, don’t shoot the messenger.  I’m just here to tell it like it is.  I didn’t get a hold of every candy out there, but I did pick up some of my personal favorites and I wanted to share the calculations with you.  Without further ado, here’s the Easter Candy Cheat Sheet with Smart Points.

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