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Good or BEST?

11 May


I read a quote this morning by Steven Covey [you know- the author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People] and the last line of it REALLY REALLY struck me.  Here’s the quote:

“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically – to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside. The enemy of the ‘best’ is often the ‘good.’

 I read the last line over and over: The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.”  and realized how absolutely true it is.  I can’t tell you how many times I have encountered people who are satisfied with being just “good.”  They have come to terms with the (false) belief that they can’t feel their “best”, so they convince themselves that settling for the “good” is okay.  This kind of defeatist attitude is more prevalent than you’d first guess.  Take a minute and think about how many people you encounter that respond to the question “How are you today” with “I’m excellent” or “I feel fabulous” or even “Best I’ve felt in years” 9 times out of 10.  Not many!!!!  Okay, okay it might be a bit cheesy to respond like that but you know what I mean.  Most people have an automatic hum-drum response that indicates they aren’t great but that “good enough” will do.

WAY too many people are okay with being less than their best. WAY too many people are okay with just getting by and being good enough.  WAY too many people are letting days slip by that they will never get back and will never have a chance to re-live.  WAY too many people will go through their entire lifetime in a dysthymic [that’s the clinician in me coming out!] state; never experiencing the full sense of being happy.

  This is really scary to me because if YOU don’t believe that you can be your best, how can you expect anyone else to truly believe it?! I’m not saying you need to wake up every day and have your BEST workout or get a PR.  You don’t need to eat absolutely 100% clean each and every single day.  You definitely do not need to go through life mistake and worry free.  $h!t happens, I sure know that; we are all human and nobody can be their BEST every day.  But we all have to try & reach to FEEL our best every day when we get out of bed.  Waking up and starting anew with a positive mental attitude is what separates the champions from the people who never see the play-offs.  Having the skill to do something is half the battle, but having the focus, drive & mental determination  is what makes goals happen.  Believing that you CAN achieve what you want is going to keep you in the game long after your body thinks its time to give up.

Have you been settling for being “good”?? Or are you someone who is after being the BEST you can be every day??  As we say here at Lucky13Fitness: To BE your best, you gotta BRING your best!!!

Have an AWESOME Friday, everyone!!!!!!


Things to keep in mind…

21 Apr

Once you’ve established a goal- of any kind- your job is to STICK to it, no matter what.  At the start, the goal (as well as the process getting there) always seems new, sexy, and exciting.  However, after things stop being easy, and you are forced outside your comfort zone, many people start to second guess whether or not the goal is worth it.  When it STOPS being easy & it starts being WORK; that’s when results happen; that’s when transformation begins; that’s when faith, patience, trust & commitment are tested.

So read these wise words over and over…. at the start, when it gets a little tougher & most importantly- when you don’t think you can go on any longer.  Read these words and push through!!



Nothing is for Everyone

6 Apr

As you may have read in my previous blog posts, I have been on the Paleo Diet for Lent this year.  I did so because many friends, clients & family members have asked me about it and want to know “Is this a good diet?” and “Should I go on this?”  My answers came from a limited knowledge base, and the more I heard about the buzz of the Paleo Diet, the more I wanted to see about it for myself.  It has been nearly 40 days (the duration of Lent) and I can honestly say that I have never felt better.  It did take a LOT of research, reading, digging, and self-teaching before I realized exactly how this “diet” would work for me.  I learned that the Paleo Diet is simply a blueprint or outline of a lifestyle that aims to mimic that of our caveman (and cavewoman) ancestors.  Just exactly HOW closely each person follows the blueprint is up for their own deciding.  Depending on what a person’s fitness/health goals are, different foods may be included or excluded in their diet.  It took me about a week and a half to get my personal blueprint just right.  Within 2 weeks I’d shed 5lbs [body fat, NOT muscle] and felt leaner, stronger, faster & tighter than ever before.  I was eating nutrient rich foods and felt full even though I was consuming food less often.  My experimentation with the Paleo Diet coincided with the start of my triathlon training.  I was initially somewhat concerned that without starchy carbohydrates I wouldn’t have enough energy to get through my long workouts.  But this was not the case at all.  I simply consumed enough lean animal protein, healthy fats, and fruits/veg that I was fueled up enough to do whatever my workout required.  Another great thing about the Paleo Diet is that I managed to cut WAY down on my caffeine intake.  Instead of 2 cups at home in the morning plus a Starbucks run or two while at work, I have cut down to my 2 cups before I leave the house.  If I get a craving to take a field trip to Starbucks, I get myself a decaf tea.  I discovered that for me, it was more about the routine of taking a break and going to Starbucks than it was actually about getting some more caffeine in my body.  Subsequently, I have been sleeping better.  My body is appropriately tired at the end of my long days and I am able to get to bed at a reasonable hour.  I am getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night which seems to be exactly what my body needs.  On the odd night I get 6-6.5 hours of sleep, I definitely feel it the next day, so I make every effort to avoid this.  I also have become very specific about my alcohol intake.  I do not normally drink a lot at all, but I decided to narrow my choices to tequila (because it comes from the agave plant) and wine (because it comes from grapes).  I have cut out beer (with the exception of my Colorado trip) and all other types of alcohol.  I don’t drink with much regularity, especially now during triathlon training, but I opt for the Paleo friendly choices when I do have a drink.

All in all, I am VERY satisfied with the Paleo Diet.  I plan on continuing this lifestyle even after Lent is over.  For me, it has worked great.  I can honestly say that I feel the fittest, strongest, and BEST I have in my life.  My skin is clear, my energy is up, my workouts are stellar & I’m ready to take on the challenge of triathlon season!!  Now, let me say that the key parts of the above sentence are the words “For me”.  I know that the Paleo Diet works for me because I have tried it and have felt the results.  That being said, I still stand by the notion that nothing is for everyone.  No single workout, diet, approach, plan or lifestyle will work for everybody.  It just won’t.  While the Paleo Diet has been a tremendous success for me, it has turned out to be just the opposite for others.  

My sister, Jessie, has found this out the hard way.  With her sister and boyfriend totally immersed in the Paleo Lifestyle, Jessie gladly jumped on board and tried experimental dinners, snacks, and other Paleo recipes.  She made the switch from skim milk to almond milk, started eating more nuts and fruits for snack, cut back on cereal and bread & was always up for Paleo pizza as a Friday night treat.  What also happened during this time was that Jessie was having stomach issues which grew in severity.  She originally thought she ate something at a party that disagreed with her but the symptoms lingered a little too long.  She couldn’t figure it out; she was hydrated, eating all the same foods I ate, and took her daily vitamins and probiotic pills.  The symptoms continued for a month or so, sometimes getting a bit better but worsening at other times.  Finally, Jessie went to the doctor and had a CT scan of her stomach.  She was diagnosed with Diverticulosis.  Her doctor told her that she must avoid nuts and nut butters [SO much of Paleo Diet has to do with these things] and eat a high-fiber, low-fat diet.  Turns out the Paleo Diet was making her sick; she is a perfect example of someone who does NOT do well on this particular diet.

There are many exceptions such as this for any fitness program, diet or workout there is out there.  Just because it works for your friends, colleagues, family members or the folks you see on TV, does NOT mean it will work similarly for you.  When starting something new- diet, exercise or otherwise- make sure to read, research and educate yourself on it as much as possible.  Talk to your doctor about the changes you are considering, especially if you have a medical history that is significant of anything which might be affected.  When you DO make significant changes to your workout and/or diet, be aware of how your body reacts.  Do you feel ill, run down, bloated, uncomfortable, sluggish, or unfocused?  Or do you feel energetic, strong, and healthy?  Are you able to sleep? Is your skin clear or blemished?  Your body has many ways of telling you whether or not you’re putting the right things into it.  Pay close attention.  And remember: nothing is for everybody; find the blueprint that is right for YOU!

Paleo PLEASE!!

4 Apr

colorado snowboarding

I was in Colorado last week for a bit of snowboarding, a fitness conference, and to visit one of my best friends.  The long weekend trip was planned a while ago- before I started my Paleo challenge- and I built-in an exception for myself for this trip.  I decided that while in Colorado I would allow myself a little Wiggle Room with the Paleo diet; I would allow myself to drink beer and eat a small amount of Paleo Prohibited foods.  And so when I went out there that is exactly what I did.

Since Denver has the highest number of microbreweries per capita of our country, and since I am a HUGE fan of beer, I had a beer or two each day I was out there.  I didn’t consume in excess but tried lots of new brews that were yummy!  I “cheated” in small amounts here and there: a bit of cheese at one meal, some french bread at another.  I didn’t go off the deep end in any respect; I stuck mostly to the Paleo rules, but was definitely much more relaxed about marinades, sauces and the possibility of the wrong oils being used to prepare my food.

The trip was so much fun all around but I found an enormous amount of value in taking those few days to “Cheat” a bit.  What I found was that my body was very sensitive to eating even the slightest bit of bread, potato, or beer.  I definitely enjoyed having some local Denver brews but I could absolutely feel the difference in my body and energy level.  I felt a bit bloated [this tends to happen when I go out to eat anyway] and sluggish.  It didn’t take long for the “tight” feel that became my baseline to escape me.  Truthfully, I was shocked that my body had become so used to the Paleo Diet foods over a few short weeks & was surprised that the re-introduction of some Paleo no-no’s shocked my system so much.

I came home from my trip and was very happy to resume a strict Paleo menu for myself.  It definitely took me a few days, though, to get rid of the cravings for beer and bread.  I hadn’t had any trouble with cravings previously, but I found that once I had just a taste of those forbidden foods, I wanted more.  Scary.  And crazy!  I made sure to keep my promise to myself; when I returned from my Colorado vacation, it was back to strict Paleo, cravings or not!!

With Lent coming to a close at the end of this week, I must say that I’m thankful I tried this Paleo Challenge.  I definitely plan on continuing along with it [I will be doing another blog about this soon] because it makes me feel the best I’ve felt in a LONG time!

Paleo Diet: “What do you eat?!”

13 Mar

For Lent, I decided to try the Paleo Diet and am blogging about my experiences with it.  With a few weeks under my belt, I finally have stabilized my weight and have a good grasp on what foods to eat, and how much of each food works for me.  I have incorporated this all successfully into my daily routine and now Paleo is second nature to me!

A question I have been getting from a lot of people is this: What the heck do you eat?!  As I stated in my first blog post, I have given up all dairy, legumes and grains.  What does that leave me with?  Well, I am eating a lot of lean animal protein, healthy fats, and a ton of fruits and veggies. 


Things like chicken breast, grass- fed beef, fish and eggs are the main sources of my protein.  I have omitted my post-workout protein shake and now simply have some real food after I exercise, if I am feeling hungry.  I make sure to take in plenty of protein to keep myself satiated during the day.


In the absence of any carbohydrates from grains, my body requires healthy fats to burn as fuel.  I include a fat source with every meal.  Nuts, nut butters, avocado, olive oil and almond flour are my primary sources of fat.  This is, in addition, to any fat I get through my meat intake.  Generally, I eat very lean beef and chicken, so the fat source isn’t significant.  I have been using olive oil, primarily, but have read a lot about coconut oil.  I think this week I will buy some and try cooking with it in lieu of olive oil. [Olive oil goes rancid above 400 degrees Farenheit, so I want to try to save olive oil for room temp use, such as salad dressing].


I eat an enormous amount of vegetables and a considerable amount of fruit.  Since I prepare my food each Sunday for the week, I often will prepare a tray or two of roasted veg to have for the week.  Broccoli, asparagus, carrots, mushrooms, and even sweet potato.  [The sweet potato was one of those foods that I decided for myself would stay in my diet.  Some folks choose to omit them when on Paleo.  It’s whatever works best for each individual!]  I also love to sautee kale, baby bella mushrooms & shallots with a bit of oil and white wine on the stove top. 

Salads have always been a staple in my diet, and they continue to be with the Paleo diet.  I jam-pack my salad with things like: baby spinach, tomato, carrots, mushroom, red pepper, avocado, walnuts, chicken, tuna, salmon, etc.  I have made my own dressing out of olive oil, balsamic vinegar & lotsa spices!!!

As for the fruit- I have found that the decision to include or exclude fruit on the Paleo diet is very specific to the individual and her/his goals.  After doing a lot of research and reading from trusted sources, I decided to incorporate fruit into my diet.  This is mainly because I am not trying to drop a considerable amount of body fat and because I am engaging in intense exercise frequently.  Eating a moderate amount of fruit allows my body to get the natural sugars it needs to produce the energy my workouts require.  For other folks who may not be as active and who may be trying to lose body fat, the strategy would be different.  They would limit their fruit intake or omit it altogether.


These two topics were up for debate and personal “tailoring” in many of the articles, blogs, and websites I’ve visited.  I decided that it is not reasonable to cut out 100% of my caffeine intake but I have made strides in reducing it significantly.  I have 2 cups of coffee in the morning with some almond milk, and try to stick to decaf herbal tea for the rest of the day.  In the event I need a caffeine boost mid-day, I opt with caffeinated tea rather than coffee.  I am also limiting my alcohol intake to red wine or Tequila, and am allowing myself to drink on a limited basis.  This is for many reasons- the Paleo diet and triathlon training among them. 

These decisions were made by me, for me, with consideration given to my lifestyle, schedule, and realm of what I could expect of myself.  I know it is different for many folks, but for me this feels like a good happy medium.


Through talking with other folks on Paleo and reading blogs/websites, I have come across some Paleo-friendly recipes for treats that have been both yummy and satisfying!

Paleo Muffins
3 eggs
1 cup of pumpkin puree
2 cups of almond flour
1 tsp of baking power
1 tsp of baking soda
1/2 cup of honey
1 tbsp of allspice

Mix all ingredients without the eggs first, then mix in eggs and put in muffin tray.
350 for 20-30 min depending on your oven.   Top with nut butter, or enjoy with a piece of fruit.

“Oatmeal” Minus the Oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 banana, mashed
1 whole egg & 2 egg whites

1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (add more if desired)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk together egg whites and almond milk and then stir in walnuts, ground flax, banana, vanilla extract, and cinnamon; blend well.
In a medium saucepan, warm the mixture on the stove, stirring frequently, until the “oatmeal” reaches the desired consistency; this should only take a few minutes.
Top with berries, nut butter, seeds, or whatever you choose!

I took the Paleo Plunge!!!

5 Mar

If you read my last blog, you know that I decided to take the “Paleo Plunge” for Lent this year.  I committed to adhering to the Paleo Diet for 40 days and am doing so for several reasons. 

[If you are unfamilliar with what the Paleo Diet entails, here it is in a nutshell: omit dairy, legumes, grains, processed foods from the diet.  Eat lean meats and fish, veggies, fruits and nuts.  The pyramid picture above gives a basic visual idea.  For more detailed info about the Paleo Diet, click on the link !]

Many friends and clients have asked me about The Paleo Diet, and what I think about this approach to food.  I have been able to answer them in a limited fashion, based on what I have read about it and what I have experienced second-hand from other folks on this diet.  I wanted to get a deeper understanding of what, exactly, it meant to “go Paleo” and learn more about how it would affect my body.  Another reason I decided to try the Paleo diet is because it was Lent time and I needed a challenge that would not be detrimental to my health/wellness/fitness, as well as something that I might decide to stick with even after Easter Sunday.  Going Paleo seemed like a great idea, so I started my research and as of Ash Wednesday (nearly two weeks ago), I have been Paleo.

I plan on doing regular blog posts which document my progress and journey; I hope that it will spark discussion, answer questions, & create new questions and thoughts.  Whether you are for or against the Paleo diet, have no idea what it entails, or are on the diet yourself, I encourage you to leave your thoughts, ideas and comments below!

My First 2 Weeks on the Paleo Diet

Week 1 on the Paleo Diet was very interesting, to say the least.  While my pre-paleo diet did not differ drastically from what I’m consuming now, I got a lot of education on what IS and ISN’T paleo.  The major changes I’ve made are omitting dairy [skim milk and Greek yoghurt], grains [Ezekiel bread and any crackers, quinoa, pasta, rice] & legumes [beans, hummus].  It might sound like a big adjustment, but truthfully I eat a LOT of the same foods each week and most of them are Paleo-friendly.  What I found to be the most valuable and interesting part of my first week was trying to educate myself on what “is Paleo” and what “isn’t Paleo”.  It seemed that the more articles I read, the more people I spoke with, and the more I dug for information, the more I realized that there was not one straightforward answer. 

At first, it frustrated me because I wanted to make sure I was doing it “right”.  I am a very competitive person and when I commit to something, I want to make sure I do it perfectly.  But I couldn’t figure out whether or not I was “allowed” to have sweet potato, Kombucha, honey, or a small serving of Greek yoghurt.  I had heard of some people who included these things into their Paleo Diet for different reasons.  But on the other hand, others staunchly said NO! 

What I finally learned was that there is not one simple Paleo Blueprint or Bible to follow.  Instead, it’s all about understanding and following the principles of the Paleo Diet as closely as possible and tailoring it to fit your lifestyle.  One thing that stuck with me, which I heard in an interview was “Don’t get caught up in the minutiae.”  This set me at ease because all I need to remember is that sometimes a situation will be out of my total control and all I can do is make the BEST decision possible in the moment.  Since hearing that, my stress about what exactly is on/off-limits for me has decreased tremendously.  I make most of my meals for the week, so I’m able to use the ingredients of my choosing.  But when I dine out, I no longer freak out if my steak tips were cooked in an oil that is not Paleo friendly. 

There have been noticeable changes in my weight.  Within the first week alone, and almost through to the 2nd week, I have had consistent weight loss.  I generally weigh in somewhere between 138-141lbs.  After one week of Paleo, I was down to 131-133.  This scared me a bit, as I wondered if I was losing muscle mass and questioned whether or not I was getting enough of the proper nutrients.  I have been keeping very close track of my weight (I usually don’t weigh myself every day, but am now monitoring it) as well as making sure I am taking in enough protein and healthy fats throughout the day.  I have kept my normal workout regimen [and will start Triathlon training this week, YAY!] and it seems that my strength is still there.  I think that as long as my weight stays where it is now- 132/133lbs- and my strength remains the same, I find that acceptable. 

I do feel more lean, cut and much less bloated in my stomach.  I am never overly hungry; I eat when I feel hungry, and stop once I feel satiated.  I have removed protein drinks from my post-workout regimen and have started eating regular food instead.  I think that overall, I’m eating LESS food; I’m eating things that fill me up, so I don’t need to eat as often.  I have also cut back on the amount of caffeine I’m drinking.  I have limited myself to 2 cups of coffee on the Keurig machine in the morning, and then for the rest of the day its tea and water. 

It’s been an interesting journey so far…  Nearly 2 weeks in, and I feel great.  I am certainly learning a lot and am looking forward to reading/learning even more!  I welcome your feedback, questions, and comments!

Lent: to “give up” or not?

21 Feb

A client of mine asked for my input on what she could give up for Lent this year and I told her I’d write a blog post with my response.

Much like New Year’s resolutions, Lent is a very popular time of year for many folks to make big adjustments/resolutions/changes to their lives, and often, their health.  A huge part of the Christian Lenten season is fasting or giving something up for the 40 days duration.  The meaning behind this is a significant one in the Christian faith and goes beyond the scope of this blog.  My focus is on how anyone (religious or not) can use this Wednesday- February 22nd- as a starting point for change in their lives.  I believe it does not have to be limited to abstinence of a single thing; sometimes adding something enriching is just as great.

Here are some helpful tips and things to consider:

1) Think about your overall goals and what you want to accomplish in general.  Then, try to find one small part on which you can focus your Lenten promise.  It is impossible to try to cover everything, so pick a part that is important to you.   For example, if you are aiming to rid your diet of all processed foods and move toward a more clean way of eating, choose ONE food to omit during Lent.

2) Choose to give up OR add something that you will try to maintain even after Lent is over.  Consider which choices are most beneficial to your health and well-being in the long haul, not just 40 days.  For example, don’t give up alcohol for 40 days while stockpiling 6-packs of your favorite beer so you can binge on day 41.  Instead, try making the promise to reduce your alcohol intake from X drinks per week to Y drinks per week, and stick with that beyond Easter Sunday.

3) If you can’t think of something to give up, then DON’T!  I know many folks that struggle with thinking of what to omit from their lives when they actually could benefit a tremendous amount from adding something in.  For example, you could promise to add 1 hour of sleep per night if you feel you’re not getting enough.  Or you could add more water, fruits, veggies, exercise, etc into your daily routine.

4) Do NOT, by any means, give up something good or beneficial for you!!! It is mostly in jest, but people have told me they plan on giving up exercise, fruits or veggies for Lent.  This is an opportunity to build in healthy habits, not get rid of them!!

5) Do not set yourself up for failure.  I’ll give a personal example here: I am a very busy person and need a little caffeine to get through my long days.  While I HAVE successfully given up coffee several times for Lent in previous years, I have never gone so far as to give up caffeine completely.  Without coffee, I turned to green and black tea for my caffeine and consumed these things in small amounts.  I know that trying to give up caffeine, in totality, is probably not a likely option for me.

6) Lastly, here are some of the best Lenten promises I have made in the past, for you to use as inspiration:

Gave up: coffee, swearing, biting my nails, beer, peanut butter (this led to my love affair with almond butter!)

Added: more sleep, more water every day, taking 20 mins each day to write, read more books for pleasure (non school related), call family at least 1x/wk, keep in touch with old friends/colleagues

And this year I am going to start a special Lenten promise: I am going to incorporate the Paleo Diet into my life!  I will be blogging weekly about how this goes, so you can all follow along and ask questions.

I’d love to hear your comments on what you think about “giving up” things for Lent and what you choose to do this year!