Guest Post: Sheena Johnson

Happy Thursday! Today I want to highlight my friend, Sheena Johnson. She is a sweet mom of two and makes the BEST nut butter in town! Seriously – I would not joke about something like that ;-). If you’re local, you should give it a try! Sheena is so knowledgeable when it comes to fitness and nutrition, and she has so kindly shared some of that knowledge with us today. Please read below for some fantastic facts on listening to your body and avoiding the mainstream restrictive “diets!”

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Guest Blog: Sheena Johnson

It really bothers me how eating restrictively has become characteristic of discipline and will power.  We are told less is better when it comes to calories and every where you look, there is someone telling you that carbs are bad or instructing you to run from fat or that low protein is ideal. We have come to believe that we know what our bodies need more that our bodies do.  The more I have challenged these things in my own life, the more I have become amazed at my body and how God has designed it to work seamlessly.

First, let’s talk about calories.  Your body uses them to do anything and everything: breathe, scratch your nose, eat, run a marathon and load a squat rack, to name a few.  Your metabolism relies on calories to carry out all of the chemical reactions necessary to keep you alive.  When a person restricts calories too much to tries to lose weight (or in the desire to maintain weight), the metabolism WILL adapt in an effort to more efficiently use what energy it IS getting.  Our bodies are so smart. It will decrease the rate at which it consumes energy doing daily activities and exercise leaving you tired and fatigued.  It will even start to eliminate functions that it deems unnecessary for survival (anyone lost a period?).  A few other side effects are loss of bone and hard-earned muscle, foggy thinking, abnormal hormones, and poor sleep.  The body is all about self-preservation, after all.  This metabolism adaptation can explain why you see some people lose and gain weight in cycles.  They overly restrict calories (or over exercise and don’t compensate with nutrition) and their metabolism adapts.  When they hit that “happy weight” and want to think a little less about every calorie, their metabolisms have already slowed drastically and their bodies want to be back at homeostasis.  I don’t know about you, but I prefer to be able to eat as much as possible and have my metabolism going as hard as it can, so I can go as hard as I can. If you think you may be at a calorie level too low for you and your activities or weight loss seems impossible, consider a slow reverse diet.  As you slowly start adding back calories, you may even lose weight as your metabolism amps up whether losing weight is your goal or not.

Now, on a concise elementary level, let’s talk about macronutrients…where we get those calories. Although there are millions of nasty man-made sources to get these nutrients, carbohydrates, fat and protein in themselves are not man made.  They are God-made. God knows what He is doing.  He has programmed our bodies to seek out each for different purposes. I find it fascinating.  I also find it frustrating that there is so much advice out there telling you to eliminate one or the other. While it is true that we are all individuals and some people do better on more carbs or more fat than others, there is not a one size fits all.  I once read that men, in general, do better on carbs than women do which makes me think of our God-given roles.  Hello men, hunter-gatherers, eat some carbs and go wrestle a buffalo for supper!!  Whether that is true or not, we do know that it varies from person to person because we are all different with different daily activities, muscle mass, different goals (muscle gain/fat loss), training methods, etc.  Carbohydrates are most readily used for fuel. You need them for energy production, brain, kidney, and nervous system function, fat metabolism and the list goes on.  Fat helps to cushion the organs, allows absorption of those fat soluble vitamins (think A,D, E and K), maintains core temperature, and is a back up source of energy. Everyone knows that protein is used for building muscle and the growth/repair of tissue, but that is not all they do.  Most enzymes are proteins and some hormones are proteins as well. It is also important for immune function.  As you can see, each macronutrient has a reason for being created by our Father. No matter what specific ratio your body thrives at, it does need some of all of them to work optimally.

Briefly before I wrap this up, I want to provide a real life example of restriction through eating too little or exercising and not nourishing my body adequately.  I started in fitness at age 15 with no goals as to my weight. I was happy where I was but as I started to see muscles develop, I wanted more and decided to incorporate a diet change to the conventional “healthy” diet guidelines.  Not long after these changes I lost the ability to ovulate.  In college, I worked out 2 hours a day 5-7 days a week and spent the rest of my time either in class, training multiple personal training clients a day or teaching spin classes.  I did this on 1500-1800 calories (and less when I was REALLY being “disciplined”) with very little fat intake. I thought that was likely what I needed because I wasn’t losing weight.  After I graduated and started working full time, I continued to eat an average of 1600 calories a day and my weight stayed pretty stable.  It was about 7 years ago that I decided I wanted babies and I needed to increase my body fat percentage in order to regain my cycle that I had not had in years and years. (NOTE: I know now that hypothalamic amenorrhea is not just about body fat.) That is when I changed to a REAL food diet with good fats.  I ate grass milk butter for the first time in years!! Yum! Guess what, I didn’t put on those extra pounds. I lost weight easily and quickly.  This baffled me so I went to a dietician.  As she increased my caloric intake even more, my weight continued to fall.  Now I know that my body was desperate for the food. My metabolism responded by speeding back up to where it needed to be.  It took a while to get to a place where I could gain weight. I recently calculated an old meal plan to see how many calories it was and it took around 2800 for a slow gain.  Did I mention that at that time, I was only working out 1 hour a day (not 2) and the rest of the day I was at a desk job?  I just wanted to share that as an example.  Our bodies really need more than our brains have been programmed to believe.

To sum up my little rant, I just want to say that it is hard and it is a mind game, but make sure you are nourishing your body.  I myself am now breastfeeding and wanting to gain weight and it is HARD to even eat my maintenance calories right now, much less what it would take to gain. However, I want to encourage everyone to eat enough calories to fuel your fit self.  Slowly find your total daily energy expenditure if you think you are at too large of a deficit.  EAT all of those yummy macros. Don’t make any of them the villain. Get them from real foods with lots of micronutrients and healthy benefits. If you don’t eat grains, that is fine. There are plenty of carb choices to choose from.  Yet I personally see no flaw in eating grains in moderation if you have no intolerance and you seek to prepare your grains as healthy as possible.  Eat fat. It won’t make you fat. (I am looking at you fellow nut butter and avocado lovers!!) Get enough protein and don’t go overboard (and if you are pregnant or nursing, I cannot stress that enough! Protein is necessary for growth). Lastly, no one’s body is exactly like your body.  Get to know your needs and where you thrive and ignore the mainstream advice.

Rant over.

S.J.

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Change Your Mindset – Change Your Life!

Do you find yourself saying “I’ll start on Monday” or “After (inset special occasion here), I will get back on track” or even “It’s just too hard to get healthy?”

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Making a lifestyle change does require dedication and effort, but it does not have to be complicated. If you are in a situation where you are overwhelmed with all of the options out there and you just don’t know where to start, I’ve got the solution! Small changes turn into big differences over time. Here are 4 ways that will help you find your rhythm and change your mindset toward living a healthy lifestyle:

Set aside some time to plan

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This is true in many areas of life, but especially when it comes to fitness and nutrition. Life gets busy, and when you have not planned out your meals in advance, you are more tempted to run through the drive-thru on the way home from work. If you need a little help, be sure to contact me  for your FREE meal planning template!
Also, when you plan out your workout calendar in advance, you are making an important appointment with yourself. Block off some time that works for you and write it down. If you treat your workouts like any other appointment, such as the doctor or your hairstylist, you are much more likely to show up and get it done.

Buy the proper equipment (and make it fun!)

When you have the right tools, you just feel more motivated, right? Buying some new workout apparel or new running shoes are fun ways to get you started in the right direction. And if you make an investment in these items, you are more likely to put them to use.

You can also turn this around and use these tools as a reward! Set a goal, whether that be to lose a certain number of pounds or to exercise a certain number of days per week. Once you have reached that goal, reward yourself with that workout tank you’ve had your eye on. These are great ways to keep your motivation up and reward yourself without ruining your progress.

Find a workout you love

Have you ever heard the phrase “the best workout is the one you will actually do?” That could not be more spot-on! Finding a workout that you enjoy and look forward to doing is the best way to ensure that you make it part of your new healthy lifestyle. If you always dread your workouts, you will quickly give up on them. There are thousands of workout plans and programs available today, so it is easier than ever to find the right one for you. If you need help deciding what your “soulmate” workout program is, connect with me HERE to chat about finding the perfect workout for you!

Rise and Shine!

I know, I know…I am not naturally a morning person either! It took me years to finally implement a morning workout routine, but now that I have, I will never go back. Get up, get it done, and move on! I wake up, drink my pre-workout, spend a little quiet time with Jesus, and get my workout in. Plus, getting up and knocking it out in the morning opens up extra time in the afternoons to spend with the ones I love most. Who can argue with that logic??

*Bonus tip: Create a playlist with all of your favorite songs. Crank it up when you push play for an added boost of energy to keep going!*

Change is not always easy, and habits are hard to break, but I promise that forming a healthy lifestyle is worth it – not only for you, but for your family as well. If you need an extra source of motivation or you are in search of an accountability partner, I would love to chat with you about some of my exciting programs that offer just that. Contact me HERE to schedule your free consult today!

In Him,
Rachel

Guest Blog: Niki Geoghagan

Hi Friends! Today I wanted to highlight one of my dearest friends, Niki. She has been a wonderful motivator, encourager, and supporter in my life for years now. Recently, she introduced me to one of her passions: essential oils. I have to say that although I was a skeptic at first,  it has been a game changer in my life! My immune system has improved, and I am sleeping better at night. Please read below as she shares her heart on this lifestyle and how you can try them out for yourself!

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Guest Blog: Niki Geoghagan

Let me start out by introducing myself and a little about me. My name is Niki Geoghagan, and I am a PROUD child of God, a wife, a mommy, and a full time worker with a side of Lemon Dropper. I am married to the man of my dreams and we have two sons: an eight year old and an (almost) two year old. We also have a pug and a great dane. My house stays pretty chaotic! In case you are not familiar with Young Living Essential Oils, I want to share some information that I hope will help J

I began my oily journey almost four months ago to find a solution to my sleeping arrangement. At the time, my baby was sixteen months old, and he would never sleep through the night. EVER. No matter what I did or how hard I tried, nothing worked. He was a breastfed baby and would wake up two to five times per night just to “comfort feed” (you breastfeeding mamas know what I’m talking about!). It can get frustrating when you are running on little to no sleep. I was desperate and wanted a solution! I kept seeing my sister-in-law post about these essential oils and how amazing they were, so I thought “why not?” It’s worth a shot. I fell in love! John Luke (my baby) slept through the night the very first night I used them and has slept through the night ever since! Ordering these oils was by far the best investment I have made to date!

 

So what are essential oils? Essential Oils are complex fluids that circulate throughout living plants to maintain and sustain their life. They are equivalent to the blood that circulates throughout our bodies to maintain and sustain our lives. Essential oils are the life blood of the plant. That is why they are called, “essential.” They are also called essential because they represent “The Essence” of the plant.

Essential oils come from plants, and are almost all extracted by steam distillation, although a few, like the citrus oils, are cold pressed from the rinds.

Young Living guarantees the quality of their oils with the “Seed to Seal” promise. Young Living is the ONLY essential oil company to own their own farms, and co-farm with a few more. They have complete control over everything from the time the seed is planted, to harvested, to distilling/cold-pressing to being bottled. They are the only company you are allowed to visit any of the farms and see the entire process first hand. For more information, visit www.seedtoseal.com

Now that you know a little about essential oils, I also want to include the fact that they are not only 100% therapeutic and natural, but they do not expire! Young Living has 87 single oils, 85 blends, 5 pre-made roller oils along with tons of supplements like the legendary Ningxia Red, made with wolfberries!

Enough about that stuff…..

How can they help you and your family? Let me share how we use them! Like I mentioned before, my very first use of oils was a combination to provide John Luke with more sleep, but I have since branched out in a wide variety of oily usage. Seasonal stuffiness, muscle tension release, stress management, and a healthier lifestyle are just a few examples.  I get assistance with energy, immune support, and with focusing troubles. My eight year old has a hard time sitting still and focusing on his class work. These oils help him so much! I also make my own diaper rash cream and baby wipes for my youngest so that I know they do not contain any harsh chemicals!

There are so many essential oil companies out there, so how do you choose the correct one for you? Research is key! Young Living proved to me that they have nothing to hide. If I can go to their farms at any time and see the entire process and watch everything, then I know first-hand what I am getting and trust them even more! Young Living is a company that goes above and beyond for the quality of their products! If you would like more information regarding Young Living Essential Oils, I would be happy to help! Feel free to contact me using any of the methods below!

 

Niki24rtr@yahoo.com

https://www.facebook.com/niki.garner1

www.smiledrop.com/Niki_Geoghagan

https://www.youngliving.com/vo/#/signup/new-starter-kits

Friday Favorites: Coconut Butter!

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Happy Friday, friends! Today, I want to share with you one of my newest indulgences (that really isn’t an indulgence at all!). Are you ready for it??

COCONUT BUTTER!

This stuff is legit! It is wonderful blended in smoothies, shakes, and coffee. It is also delicious to use as an “icing” on top of baked goods, pancakes, or waffles!

I ordered mine online from Tropical Traditions, but you can also find it at many health food stores.

I know you will love it just as much as I do!

P.S. – Make sure you grab some this weekend because next week I’ll be sharing a yummy recipe that includes coconut butter! 😉

Friday Favorites: Metabolism Booster!

As we all know, metabolism begins to slow down as we age. In addition, not all of us were born with a super fast metabolism (my fiance is an exception…and I am extremely jealous!). Along with eating a well balanced diet, there are several things we can do to help “speed up” our metabolism.  My favorite supplement to use to help this process along is Apple Cider Vinegar!  There are too many health benefits to apple cider vinegar (also known as ACV) to list them all, but here are a few!

  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Detoxes the body
  • Increases potassium, which supports good heart function
  • Aides in digestion
  • Clears sinuses
  • Balances blood sugar
  • Boosts energy
  • Burns fat

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You want to get organic, undistilled, raw apple cider vinegar with what is called the “mother”.  The “mother” is a milky substance found at the bottom of the bottle.  This undistilled variety has all  the nutrients our bodies need.

My favorite kind to use is Bragg Organic ACV. So how do you use it? Take your ACV drink with meals 3 times a day. Mix 1-2 tsps AVC in 6-8 oz of water. You can also add a tiny bit of maple syrup or raw honey if you can’t deal with the bitter taste. Another great option is to add it to your morning shake or smoothie! 🙂

Go grab your bottle and kick start your metabolism today!

Got Excuses??

I just don’t have time. I’m so busy. I’m too tired. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. Any of this ring a bell?
Missing one workout is not the end of the world (hey, life happens!) but unfortunately it often leads to missing two, then three, and the next thing you know, you haven’t worked out in a month or longer. It is never too late for a fresh start! Even if you haven’t worked out in ages, now is the time to make a change! Below are some excuses that I bet you’ve been using to justify not getting that workout in. Do any of these sound familiar?

Excuse: You don’t have the time
Solution: Who said you have to spend hours in the gym to break a good sweat? In fact, higher intensity workouts for shorter periods of time have been proven to be more effective than lower intense workouts that take over an hour to complete. When high-intensity cardio (HIIT) workouts are combined with weight lifting, lean muscle mass is gained causing an increase in metabolism; therefore, increasing the amount of calories burned – even at rest!
So no more excuses that you don’t have the time!

Excuse: You’re just too tired
Solution: Fail to plan, plan to fail. Make sure you make a plan so you can schedule your workout, just like you would any other appointment. Maybe working out in the mornings before work will fit better into your schedule. It took me a long time to become part of the “5 am club,” but once I did, I have never looked back. If I get my workout accomplished first thing in the morning, then I can’t use the “I’m too tired” excuse at the end of the day. If you have a hard time waking up in the mornings, maybe you should invest in a pre-workout drink. I am a big fan of Energize by Beachbody! (Contact me to get your sample!). If mornings just aren’t an option for you, make sure you fuel your body in the afternoon with the fuel it needs for a later workout. Incorporate more protein or nuts into your afternoon for extra energy.

Excuse: You feel awkward at the gym
Solution: Have you ever felt like you didn’t belong in the gym because you weren’t “fit” enough or you weren’t really sure what you should be doing while you were there? It can be one of the most humiliating feelings ever. Have you considered doing your workouts in the comfort of your own home, whenever it fits your schedule, no matter the weather outside, not worrying about fancy workout gear? Not sure what workouts to do? Reach out to me here, and I’ll help!

I know it isn’t always easy to find the time, energy, or motivation to work out, but I can promise you that it is always worth it! Taking care of yourself is always the right decision, and the benefits carry over to all other aspects of your life. I want you to be the best, brightest, happiest version of yourself that you can be. If you need help starting or reaching your fitness goals, please reach out to me today!

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Satisfying Cravings – Once and For All

I am currently going through the book Made to Crave for a study I am going through with some of my clients, and it seems that something new is revealed to me each time I pick it up to read.IMG_9062

For me, food cravings have always been an issue. It did not matter if I was hungry or not: if I had a craving for something, I would eat it anyway. As the years went by and I began my fitness journey, I began to realize that I relied on food more than I relied on God. When something went wrong, I turned to food and emotional eating. When something went right, I turned to food to celebrate inste
ad of praising and thanking God for what He had done for me. It was hard to admit that I was “spiritually malnourished,” as the book describes. But I was indeed.

For you, food may not be your issue, but I do ask you to examine your heart. Is there anything in your life that you crave more than God? Is there something that you cannot seem to let go, even though you know that it is hindering or destroying you? Having cravings is not necessarily a bad thing. God wants us to crave more of Him. He desires to have that personal relationship with us. He is the only one that will ever be able to curb the cravings in our lives.

If you are having trouble letting go of that thing that has power over you, just remember that nothing will ever change in our lives until we decide to give our cravings over to the One who can satisfy them for eternity.

 

Friday Favorites: Hair Care!

FullSizeRenderIf you are anything like me, you have too much going on in your life to worry about washing your hair after every single workout. And let’s face it: an intense workout can leave your hair obviously less than stellar 😦

I discovered dry shampoo a couple of years ago, and it has truly been a LIFESAVER! Just spray at the roots, and your hair has new life again! It absorbs the excess oils without leaving a residue on your hair. My favorite brand to use is Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Refreshing Dry Shampoo. It works wonders and is extremely affordable! Most Target locations sell it for $5.00 😉

Fresh hair plus more time in your day: it’s a win-win!

My Story: Learning to Run the Faith Race

IMG_8744 (1)My weight loss journey has not been an easy one. It has been full of twists and turns with several bumps in the road. I’ve climbed hills and mountains, and I had stumbled along the way. However, as I look back over the last few years, I would do it all over again.

I have always been overweight, even as a child. I grew up in the south, where the fried food is abundant and we celebrate everything with casseroles and apple pies. When I graduated from high school, I took a job as a receptionist where I worked long twelve-hour weekend shifts. Most of the time, we would grab pizza and soft drinks to get us through these days. At the same time, I was in college studying for my accounting degree, so every moment I wasn’t at work, I was busy working hard on papers and studying for final exams. I was exhausted, running on very little sleep, and fueling my body with junk food and “emotional” eating. I realized that my clothes were beginning to get snug and I had to go up a few sizes when I went shopping for clothes, but my mind still did not seem to notice that my body had a problem.

One day, I went in for a routine exam at my doctor’s office. She took my blood pressure and noticed that it was elevated. She asked if I had been experiencing any problems, and I told her about the constant headaches I had been having, but always assumed were due to the stress of my college career. She then proceeded to tell me – at the young age of 21 – that I had hypertension and would need to begin taking blood pressure medication. My doctor told me it could be genetics, but this was not acceptable to me. After further research, I discovered that my issues were most likely due to being overweight. 21 years old and already on medication for life? A daily reminder of my bad choices? That was the breaking point when I made the decision to take back control of my life before it got completely out of hand.

I started my weight loss journey by going down the same roads I had tried in the past: counting calories, low carb diets, wraps, diet pills, cleanses, fad diets…and again, I was left frustrated. One day, a Facebook friend posted about a challenge group she was offering that provided accountability and support, and I was very intrigued. I contacted her, and she began to tell me how she had partnered as a coach with Beachbody (the creator of programs like P90X and Insanity) and how these programs had worked for her. I purchased T25 shortly after, and honestly, had low expectations. However, I quickly fell in love with the program. I began to learn about clean eating and how to fuel my body with whole foods. I stopped eating “low fat” and “low carb” and just ate more lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. I also cut our processed foods and artificial sweeteners. I learned how to prep my meals in advance so I would not be tempted to grab fast food in a time crunch. I also learned how to portion my food so that I was not overeating. The community aspect of the group was great because I knew I had other ladies I could depend on to hold me accountable to make good choices. They would check in on me to make sure I made my workouts a priority. I began to realize that before I joined the group, I had not been treating my body as the temple the Lord had given me.

A few months later, I decided to become a coach myself so that I could help others overcome the same hurdles and struggles that I had faced. I am happy to say that I am now down 45 pounds and at a healthy weight. I no longer need blood pressure medicine (or any medication at all). I am so glad thankful for this journey, and I am grateful that the Lord used it to help me discover my true calling – to encourage and support others along their faith and fitness journey. My “why” is about so much more than a number on the scale. It is about my relationship with the Lord – taking care of the precious gift He has given me while using it for His glory. Yes, my journey resulted in a physical transformation, but more importantly, it resulted in a transformation of the heart.

If your story is anything like mine, I would encourage you to really search for your own “why.” Get connected with like-minded individuals that will help you grow and hold you accountable.

If you need help, please contact me about upcoming programs. I would be honored to run the faith race with you!