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Guest post by Manhattan-based fitness and health blogger, Lauren http://lovealwaysla.com/    

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” - Anais Nin

I turn my face to greet the morning sun as flume’s insane fills my ears, and in this moment, I am ready. Ready to share how I arrived at the first step, the one which allowed me to embark on this life-altering weight loss lifestyle journey of becoming the best version of myself and the woman that I am destined to become. How, in ridding my day-to-day of toxicity, unnecessary weight, and exposing my fears for what they truly were, in turn, diminished their power on my life.

Everyone has a breaking point. The key to personal success is how you arrive at this point and what level of grace you handle it with once it presents itself to you. With that said, my point presented itself in February of 2013, the weekend of my 25th birthday. Upon arrival, the pictures began to accumulate, each, worse than the last. Overlooking the Vegas strip, I reached my breaking point. I began to see myself as those who were concerned, viewed me. I had a choice to make. I could greet it with fear and avoid any progression. I could remain in a state of stagnancy, risking not only emotional repercussions, but because I was dangerously overweight for my height, physical ones as well, or. . . I could embody change. Up until this point, I had been fearful of any great shift in my norm.

The idea of free-falling into the unknown was so far out of my realm of consciousness, that it had become easier to remain cocooned within my comfort zone. I was 25 years old and merely existing. I was not only unhealthy in my physical state but somehow along the way, I had taken the passenger seat within my own life. It was then that I came up for air and took the reins to steer myself to a healthier course; emotionally, spirituality, and physically. I returned from Las Vegas, empowered from self-realization. I joined a gym, emptied my apartment of toxic foods and bee-lined it straight to the local farmer’s market for all the vegetables & fruits my little hands could carry. From that moment on, I incorporated health in some form, daily.

As I began to see results, I started to post them on my social media channels. I began to receive messages asking me for tips, workout help, meal plan guidance, etc. It has been the greatest choice I’ve made in years. It has held me accountable. This journey has woken me up and transformed my life. I am finally living a life of purpose and to know that I hold the key, ignites a fire within to challenge myself in new ways. To test and exceed limits that you have personally placed on yourself is an exciting adventure. A few key tips for transformation:  

  • Caloric intake: I lowered my caloric intake to 1000-1100 calories a day. I was probably taking in close to 2000 calories a day prior to my decision to start this process and I certainly paid the consequences.
  • Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate: I drink between 1-2 liters of water a day, as well as 1-2 cups of tea before & after every meal. In drinking this much, it helps flush my system of toxins. Tea 30 minutes before a meal helps digestion and helps curb your hunger so you end up eating less per meal.
  • Working Out: The first 7 months of this journey, I walked to and from work, which is about 1.5 miles and then 1 mile to the gym every day. At the gym I did a warm up of 4-6 miles on the bike, followed by 30 minutes of uphill/speed variations on the eliptical. I would end the workout by 15 minutes of stretching and a 30 minute yoga video. After 7 months however, I hurt my toe and I was unable to keep a closed toe shoe on for long periods of time so I stuck to workout videos in my apartment, such as 30 minutes of yoga, 30 minutes of Pilates, followed by reps of squats, lunges, jumping jacks, burpees, planks, which is what I have been sticking too as of late. My  toe has healed thank goodness so starting next week, my workout routine will be more consistent! It’s important to get your heart rate up and be active at least three times a week which is what I am currently doing. Everyone goes at their own pace. Some exercises that work for me, may not be the best for you, or vice versa, so go at your own pace. Be better than the YOU, yesterday. Don’t focus on what anyone else is doing.
  • Get rid of foods that have processed sugars, partially hydrogenated oils & trans fats. Meal prep before going grocery shopping and that will help guide you to the healthier options whilst there. Stick to foods that will benefit your body in several different ways; vegetables, fruits, whole grains, proteins.
  • Do not pick apart your diet and view it as a “have to cut this out” scenario. First rule for me in this process was to supplement healthier options of what I already knew I loved instead of removing the option completely. For example, I love coffee. Rather than cutting it completely out of my diet, I opted for making it at home with my Keurig or from coffee grounds, adding a dash of skim milk and stevia rather than having a 200-300 calorie coffee with whole milk/syrups/creamer.
  • Keep a daily food log. For me, this blog has been a visual diary of my progress, of my meals, of my emotions surrounding this journey. In keeping track of your food, of your meals, you will help keep yourself on track and possibly adding a weekly reward system not revolving around food but around gifting yourself experience and knowledge in the way of a book or adventure, you will see your success soar.
  • Don’t count calories. Counting calories is tedious, pointless and all around counterproductive to your success.  Fixating on caloric intake creates anxiety and fear of going over daily caloric goals, it creates a false sense of failure if you do go over said goal and I don’t recommend that. Stay in the range of a healthy caloric intake assigned to you by your primary care physician and focus on the positive of how your body is FEELING rather than constricting yourself to numbers.

I have teamed up with the ladies of Balini to guest blog a few articles, so stay tuned for healthy yogi tips, workouts I swear by, motivation fundamentals and more!  Take that step. Get on the road to getting to know the best version of yourselves. You won’t regret it. I’m living proof.   And remember. . . Fear is optional.

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