Fitbloggin 2016 Recap

Photo thanks to David’s Twitter account

Those of you that follow me on Twitter or Instagram know that this past weekend I attended Fitbloggin in Indianapolis. Fitbloggin’ is essentially the gathering of those who blog about their fitness journeys, or people who are interested in starting to blog. This was my second time attending Fitbloggin. My first experience was in Savannah, GA in 2014.

Because this year’s Fitbloggin was in Indianapolis, I was lucky enough to only be a few hours drive away, which definitely helped me determine if I would go or not. I arrived on Thursday night, and the only thing on the agenda was registration and appetizers at Scotty’s Brewhouse about half a mile from the hotel. I ended up arriving an hour late, but I happened to walk in at the same time as two girls in attendance on behalf of Sworkit, so they were kind enough to eat with me. Registration was nothing more than picking up or name tags. Not too exciting.

Breakfast both days was provided by Siggi’s yogurt in the form of a parfait bar. While this was quite tasty, the breakfast was not enough to keep me satisfied for long. Thankfully, I brought a strong supply of Quest bars with me.

Friday and Saturday had me attending some awesome sessions that had both blogging and weight loss related topics. I started my education on Friday with a blog themed day of “Being a Consistent Blogger Forever” led by the lovely and knowledgable Nellie of Brooklyn Active Mama, followed by learning some SEO basics (that were really helpful) taught by Jessica Woodbury of Don’t Mind the Mess. Saturday was my weight loss focused day with amazing discussions about falling off (and getting back on) the weight loss wagon led by David from Keep it Up David and weight loss highs and lows (led by Angela Gillis from We Beat Fat). The afternoon led me to a session about overcoming setbacks with Kristin Meekhof, and I topped off my education with a discussion on training your brain, habits, and all that jazz from Steve Carmichael from Run Buzz. All great sessions and amazing people.

Friday also had author of Secrets of A Former Fat Girl, Lisa Delaney, as a keynote speaker who told her story and answered our questions. There was also a panel discussion, and one of the panelists was Dawn Jackson Blatner. I thought she looked familiar to me, but it wasn’t until she uttered the words “Superfood Diet” that I realized why I recognized her. She was the trainer that WON the reality show “My Diet is Better Than Yours.” Since I’m a sucker for weight loss shows, I definitely tuned in to that one. Needless to say, I fangirled for a moment over the fact she was there. She went to the sessions and listened, learned, and participated just like the rest of us. It was pretty neat.

Saturday only had one keynote speaker before conference close, and that was Brooke Randolph. She gave a presentation on emotionally healthy living, and let’s be honest..we all could use a few reminders in that area.

In addition to sessions full of learning and discussion, there are also fitness sessions at Fitbloggin (duh!). There were 4 total, but I attended 2 of them. On Friday I attended a booty burning workout thanks to Sworkit. While I’ve never had any experience with that app before, the amount of soreness I was experiencing on Saturday made it very clear to me that the app works! Saturday was the ever popular Zumba class, led by Margo aka ShesNachoMamma, and Nellie from Brooklyn Active Mama. Zumba was an amazing time!! We danced, laughed, bonded, got sweaty, and felt amazing. Anything that closes with a showtune sung by the great Liza, a kick line, and dance party is amazing in my book!

While the content was awesome, and the attendees were fantastic, I will admit that Fitbloggin 2016 left something to be desired compared to when I attended in 2014. For one, there were zero evening activities planned. I was used to evening receptions with provided meals and more opportunities to mingle, and here I was literally on my own Friday night because I didn’t feel like I had necessarily bonded with anyone enough to seek out dinner plans (my closest Fitbloggin friends all couldn’t attend this year for one reason or another), so I walked to find dinner, brought it back to the room, and hung out by myself. Could I have actively sought out some group to tag along with? Sure, but a chance for us all to be together would have been much more my style. On Saturday, the conference closed at 5:30pm, so I just decided to go home since I was only 3.5 hours away.

In addition to the lack of even activities, I’ll admit that I was very disappointed in the lack of food. If there’s one thing I know about Fitbloggin attendees it’s that we all love food, and the only food that was provided to us was yogurt parfait bars for breakfast and a few appetizers Thursday (most of us ordered our own food anyway) and at Friday’s expo. Lunches, dinners, and snacks were all provided by myself. Thank goodness for the Starbucks in the hotel lobby and the awesome cafe a short walk away. Maybe it’s just me (okay, I know it’s not just me..), but I feel like having more food provided would have just made sense. It would have been nice anyway.

My last complaint is about the sponsors and the expo. At my last Fitbloggin I felt like there were sponsors that I actually wanted to connect with, and this time around I felt a lot less so. A lot of food sponsors, but not necessarily the kind that would be considered a valuable connection for my blog personally. While I did come home with a bit of swag (mostly food) and a new love for figs (California Figs was a sponsor and we all had the chance to try them. I’d never had a fresh fig before), I just didn’t feel like the expo and sponsors were up to snuff.

While Fitbloggin 16 left me with something to be desired, I did enjoy meeting new people, making connections, and opening my mind to all of the knowledge and experience that was there for me to absorb. Oh, and since I had never been to Indy before, it was my first time seeing the city, and while I only saw a very small bit of it, I loved it. Indianapolis is a beautiful, clean, and very friendly city. Kudos to you for being awesome, Indy.

Foods & Supplements for Strong Bones | Osteoporosis Awareness Month

Foods and Supplements for

May is National Osteoporosis Month, so I wanted to chat a little bit about this problem that effects (or will in the future) so many of us.  Simply put, osteoporosis is a disease that causes weak bones and makes them more likely to break.  Now, broken bones are a bummer as it is, but I feel like it’s even more of a bummer when the breaking can happen at random rather than trying to do some risky stunt on a skateboard or something.  According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation’s website, 1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. 

Now, I’m willing to bet that there are plenty of my readers that are well under the age of 50 and are therefore about ready to click out of this post because it doesn’t apply to you.  Well, my dear friend, you would be wrong.  The best treatment for osteoporosis (as with many other medical conditions, in my opinion) is to prevent all together.  Keep in mind, I am not a doctor or medical professional in any way.  I’m just a woman trying to survive life in the healthiest (most of the time..) way I can.  Read more

I’m in Weight Watchers Magazine!

Weight Watchers Magazine

If any of you get Weight Watchers magazine, you might have seen a familiar face when you turned to page 67.  I was incredibly fortunate to be given the opportunity to participate in an amazing article that was recently released in the May/ June 2016 issue of Weight Watchers magazine called “I Love What My Body Can Do.”

The article tells the stories of 3 different women (myself being one of them) and how we love what our bodies can do right now, even if we aren’t at our desired goal weight.  While it doesn’t seem like a huge thing, so many of us (myself included) put so much of our self worth and focus on the scale that we forget to stop and appreciate all of the things that already does for us right now, at this current weight.  

One day back in January an email pinged in my inbox and it turned out to be from the author of the article asking if I’d be interested in being a part of the issue.  After I did a little research and figured out she wasn’t a scam, I responded saying that I would love to.  A little while later the author and I set up a call and had an interview where I got to tell her my story.  Since the topic was body confidence I decided to discuss the subject of living with CMT and how despite my difficulties having the disease, I went to college for theater and almost graduated with a dance minor.  This topic seemed to be the type of subject she was looking for, so that’s the direction we went.  Shortly thereafter I got an email from someone working for Weight Watchers wanting to set up a photoshoot.

Knowing nothing about the process of putting a magazine together, I was really excited to learn about everything that went into getting this article from concept to print.  Weight Watchers wanted to do an entire photoshoot for me at my location, so they managed to find local photographers, a venue, wardrobe, and hair/makeup for the shoot.  We set a date and all showed up at the location ready for the experience.  I felt like a superstar! I was the only subject to be shot, so I was the total center of attention.  I was beautified by the makeup artist and then wardrobe (which was not one, but two people) helped me dress in dance attire (since that was one of the angles we were going for).  It was crazy because they even helped me get my tights and stuff on, which sounds ridiculous, but one of the pretty regular problems I have with CMT is getting certain types of clothes on and off on my own.  Tights and leotards are definitely not things I wear, so it was nice to have help.  

Once the shooting started it was 3 hours of constant photo snapping and even more constant moving.  In order to give the photos a true look of movement, I had to move the whole time.  I had put together a playlist of some of my Broadway favorites to sing and dance to so I would be in my natural “habitat,” which worked great, but it was more complex than that. I had to move my arms a lot (they’re the thing I’m most self conscious about), and sometimes I’d do a dance move (I was just goofing off.  None of this was actually choreographed), and one of the photographers would say “Stop!  Do that move you just did like three more times.”  It was exhausting.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved being the center of attention, and I’ll happily sing or be in a show in front of a ton of people, but this was a kind of attention and performance that I wasn’t used to getting or giving, so it was quite the learning experience.  After 5 outfit changes and 3 hours of shooting, we finally wrapped and that was that.  I would have no power over what photo got chosen or anything.  If it wasn’t for the fact I emailed the photographers directly, I probably wouldn’t have seen the shoot at all, but they graciously sent me the gallery to look at since I was dying to see the results of all our hard work.

After the shoot I didn’t hear anything until one day the words of the article showed up in my inbox for fact checking.  There was no layout and no photo.  Just the plain old text for me to read so I could verify everything was accurate.  Once I sent my reply approving the wording of the article that was it.  I didn’t see anything until the magazine was published. 

Anyway, the article turned out great, and I just wanted to say a quick thank you to you, my readers. Without you taking the time to read, comment, and care enough about what I have to say, I wouldn’t have been given this awesome opportunity, so thank you. Whether you’re a reader alone or you also subscribe to my YouTube channel, you played a part in making this happen.  I hope that Diva and the Divine continues to grow as we create a community that can talk about health, weight loss, beauty, and whatever else crosses our minds.  

Weight Loss A-Z

Rules of Weight Loss A-Z

When it comes to weight loss and healthy living, everyone has their own tips and tricks that work for them.  I decided to get a little creative and wanted to come up with something for every letter of the alphabet.  After some thought and creative liberties, here are 26 tips, tricks, or plain old facts of life that I use to find success in my weight loss journey.

A- Attitude

When it comes to losing weight, attitude is everything.  If you come from a negative space about food, fitness, and your body, it’s could be 20 times harder to find the success you’re looking for.  A positive attitude about your body and about the journey you’re on will definitely keep your sprits up and the scale down. 

B- Baby Steps Read more

Smart Points Friendly Snacks On-the-Go |Weight Watchers Beyond the Scale

Weight Watchers friendly snacks for the new Smart Points plan.

If you’ve started following the new Weight Watchers Beyond the Scale program that uses Smart Points instead of points plus, you’ve probably noticed that it’s a lot harder to enjoy some snacks and sweet treats while staying on plan. When Weight Watchers was using Points Plus, I had my snacking down to a science, especially when it came to on-the-go products. It’s taken me a little bit of time, but I finally found a few go to treats that satisfy my sweet tooth without breaking my Smart Points budget for the day. Since I’m sure I’m not the only one who struggled with this low sugar transition, I’ve decided to share a few of my favorites with you.  Many of these options work well with the high-protein, low sugar lifestyle that the beyond the scale plan is encouraging us to live on a daily basis. Read more

Jus By Julie 1 Day Cleanse

A review of the Jus by Julie 1 day cleanse

I am all about trying different healthy living products and letting you know how they make me feel. Recently I was given the opportunity to try out a 1 day juice cleanse by Jus by Julie.  This cleanse consisted of 6 juices to be consumed throughout the day.  The juices arrived right on time (when you order, you schedule the day you want your cleanse to arrive and they ship accordingly), well packaged in cold shipping materials, and ready for use the day after arrival. Each juice in the cleanse has a label on it so you know what order to consume your juice. Here’s a look at the different juices and my review of the process.

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How to Calculate Smart Points for Smoothies

How to calculate the Smart Points Value of your Smoothie

One of my favorite things about eating on Weight Watchers is that when I eat fresh fruits and veggies, they don’t count against my daily Smart Points intake.  Yes, there are a few exceptions (I’m looking at you avocados, potatoes, corn, etc.), but in general, that’s the rule..with one HUGE exception: when you blend produce to make smoothies.  I see “How do you track Smart Points for smoothies?” asked all over the place, and since I just learned the easy answer myself, I figured I’d tell you. 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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The Day I Realized Sugar IS the Problem

Sugar Is the problem

You know how sometimes, no matter how many times people tell you something is bad for you, you just need to realize it and come to terms with it on your own before you’re willing to do anything about it?  That bad relationship, smoking, losing weight.. Whatever the thing is, and no matter how many times people warn you or try to help you, in order to truly do something about it for good, you have to decide for yourself.  Then it’s a whole new ball game. 

That’s what happened to me and my relationship with sugar this week.

Sugar is one of the hottest topics in health, fitness, and weight loss at the moment.  There are countless articles about why it is one of the most horrible things for your body.  While sugar is fat free, there are claims that a diet full of fat is better than a diet full of sugar.  I’ve been reading all of these articles (like the one I found this morning) for quite some time knowing that there is plenty of truth to them, but unwilling to admit that I was one of many that had a problem or suffered the consequences of excessive sugar intake. After all, I rocked the Weight Watchers Points Plus program. I knew exactly what foods to eat that kept me in my Points budget and still gave me treats that satisfied my sweet tooth.  I am nowhere near diabetic, and while I have some weight to lose (again), I’m not in any danger health-wise.  This sugar thing didn’t effect me at all… or so I thought.

After quite a physical and emotional struggle for awhile now, the other day I made a Facebook and Instagram post where I basically declared that I had finally gotten my health and fitness groove back.  For 4 or so days I was eating like a rockstar on the new Weight Watchers plan which, for good reason, cracks down on sugar intake. I was eating high protein, whole foods, and even found a few treats that satisfied a sugar craving without containing much sugar at all.  I noticed that I woke up on my own (I don’t usually set an alarm, as I don’t need to be anywhere, and with CMT, sleep is super important) earlier and feeling more energized. I was able to focus and get a lot done, both physically (like a 2.5 hr gym session and cleaning the house) and mentally with less distraction and exhaustion.  I was also able to fall asleep a bit faster AND my skin started to look clearer than it had in ages.  Granted, the skin thing could be thanks to the new skincare products I’m trying out, but you never know.  The last thing I noticed was my mood was also generally better. I felt closer to my husband romantically, and content with life in general, both of which can be challenges in the everyday life of the wife of a traveling businessman.  That topic will eventually get a whole post of it’s own.

Fast forward to two days ago.  **Prepare for some real honest confessions and real-talk here** I went shopping to get stuff for an Easter candy post I’m working on..which meant that the “stuff” was really a variety of Easter candies.  While I worked on photos for my post, I had to open some things to get pictures of the products.  Well, needless to say it was more than a few jellybeans or chocolates that made their way into my mouth. Lack of self control is definitely a big issue of mine.. Not only did I experience immediate regret for what I had consumed (especially after knowing all of the Smart Points values, as they were all written down in my notebook next to me), but a few hours later, my body started to feel a bit off.  

The next day was no better.  First, it was a snow day (winter weather advisory and I had no plans) so I decided to stay in.  I treated myself to the delicious Amish cinnamon roll that my mom had given me the night before.  Hey, I paired it with fruit, and I’m supposed to treat myself once and awhile.  But of course, the cinnamon roll wasn’t the only sugar I ate that day.  I might have tasted a few more types of the Easter candy stash after lunch..  The results of the 2 day sugar “binge” blew my mind, even in the midst of my sugary snacking.

First, it was no secret that even after I had more than enough sugar filled goodness, all I wanted was more! I realized just how insane and dark the sugary rabbit hole really was.  It didn’t matter how full I was or how much sugar I had already consumed, all I could think about was wanting more sugar! There was my lightbulb moment: It really is an addiction.  

I also paid close attention to how I was feeling, from the Easter candy photoshoot and throughout the next day.  I woke up groggy and sleepy, with little desire to do anything but sit on the couch (with sugary snacks) and watch Netflix all day.  At the same time, my mind and body were both racing, hopped up on sugar, but unable to focus on any one task.  It was a miracle I managed to get yesterday’s blog post up at all.  I was unsatisfied and unmotivated, energized (sugar rush) but exhausted at the same time, and my body felt gross; bloated, confused, and just blah. It was horrible.  Why did I let myself do that? Why would anyone let themselves do that??

I went to bed last night seriously reflecting on the past 48 hours and the over sugared hours they had been. It was then that I truly accepted that all I had been reading over the past several months about sugar and how bad really is for the body is TRUE.  It’s not something that should be considered by just some people, but everyone needs to take a look at what they’re eating.  To be honest, I don’t think that my sugar craze would have been such an “ah ha” moment if it wasn’t for how awesome I was feeling in the several days before.  There was clearly a direct connection between how awesome I was feeling when I was eating a healthy, balanced, low sugar diet versus how terrible I was feeling after those 2 days of the complete opposite.  Needless to say I woke up today making a different kind of commitment to myself.  Not only did I want to actually eat the way I was “supposed” to, but after acknowledging just how crappy the sweet stuff makes me feel, I knew I wanted to approach treats differently too.  

Now, for those that know me, I am a chocoholic through and through, so I’m definitely not saying I’m giving up sugar for good.  I personally don’t believe in depriving yourself of any specific food unless it causes a legitimate health issue (like eating peanut butter if you’re highly allergic to peanuts), because feeling deprived can lead to bigger binges and other problems.  However, my approach will definitely be different from here on out.  I am going to continue the trend I had going (until my candy run at Target) which was to have very minimal dessert options at home (which were low sugar to begin with) and treat myself to the “real” desserts every so often, like taking dessert home after a dinner out.  That way, there’s only one serving, and when it’s gone, it’s gone.  I’m sure I’ll have a post on managing a sweet tooth later on.  

I guess my whole point to my really long ramble is this: Friends, what you are reading about sugar is 110% true. I’m not basing that statement on any scientific research whatsoever. I’m simply basing that on my personal experience, and for me, that is enough of a reason to reconsider my relationship with sugar entirely.  Get educated, read the articles you see floating around blogs and Facebook, and believe me when I say that cutting down your sugar intake will impact your body and mind in a positive way. The other day I actually said “I felt like superwoman for a few hours.”  That’s a pretty awesome way to feel.  If cutting back on sugar can make me feel like that for a little while every day, it’s totally worth it.  

What have your experiences with sugar been? Let me know in the comments below! I want to know your story, knowledge, and thoughts on this hot button topic.  

 

Chocolate Overnight Oats |Weight Watchers Friendly, High Protien

Chocolate Overnight Oats

The other day I accidentally made a creation that is certainly going to become a staple in my breakfast routine.  I’ve seen overnight oats on blogs and Instagram photos a ton lately, and they always look so pretty and sound so good.  I was feeling inspired and decided to try my own twist on it.  I went over to Trader Joe’s and found rolled oats at a reasonable price (I’ll be honest, I don’t even know if rolled oats are the  “proper” oats to use) and the adventure began.

Many recipes called for using almond milk and many have things in it that, while healthy, makes the Smart Points values add up quickly.  Since I wanted more protein, I oped to try mixing them in with my fat free Greek yogurt (2 Smart Points) instead.  I used 1/4 C, mixed it up, and let it sit. It turned out to be quite thick, but to the point of dry and not all that awesome.  Back to the drawing board.

Thursday night I had a thought..because you know, I’m always thinking about food and random inspiration can strike at any time..  What if I used almond milk but put my Quest protein powder in it first??  Genius!  Guess what? It worked!  I ended up with the richest, chocolatey-est, dessert-esqe breakfast that only cost me 6 Smart points.  While it might not be the prettiest looking thing, I don’t care, because to me, it tastes awesome.

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