Summer Life Challenge.

I bet a lot of you from Instagram came over here thinking I was about to announce I am pregnant, thus the no booze for awhile. Well, you are wrong, sorry to disappoint, it's not a pregnancy that's causing me to make this decision, it's just a rededication to good health and wellness.  

Let me back up--a few weeks ago, my good friend Sarah emailed a few of us, asking if we were interested in doing a cleanse with her--she had a program she was interested in trying out, so wanted to know if we'd do the solidarity fist pump with her for 30 days of detox. As much as I wanted to, the cost of the cleanse was out of my budget (let's be honest, most things are out of my budget these days except for food, dog food and the occasional hot pretzel from the Village Baker), and I am also always a little skeptical of cleanses. From everything I've read, your body is actually totally capable of cleansing and detoxing itself, without the need for a total change in lifestyle--as long as you are eating well, exercising regularly and drinking a lot of water, you're in pretty good condition.

So, while I couldn't take part in the cleanse, I did take some time to reassess my own health and wellness.  Being on the road for the past few months, I think we both did a pretty good job of staying healthy.  We worked out most days and ate fairly well considering we were living in 31' of aluminum without an oven. However, now that we're back and stationary for a bit, I think it's time to refocus on health.  

I've also been really inspired by the accomplishments of Joanne Encarnacion--I've mentioned her before--a mom, a photographer and a designer at VSCO, who recently took a 12 week fitness challenge with a trainer and totally transformed her body, but more importantly, her lifestyle.  She is now in the best shape of her life and proudly sharing her story, triumphs and struggles through her Instagram account and her blog.  

One of the things that most inspired me about Joanne is that her quest was not to lose weight, but rather to get strong--and that she did--this woman looks fantastic and it's been really inspiring to watch this journey from day one and see where she is now.  I'm not doing this lifestyle change to lose weight--sure, who wouldn't want to drop a few pound here or there, but more so, I'm doing it because I'm tired of feeling like I'm not rocking my body to it's fullest potential.

I keep hearing that "Strong is the new Skinny" and I believe that--I want to look at my body, though  I know I'm strong, I know I'm pretty fit, I know I eat pretty well...but I want to challenge myself to really see what my body is capable of accomplishing.  In the past I ran marathons to prove this....but a marathon isn't really something that drives me anymore and it was a temporary high--I felt amazing for 12 hours after the race and then I started thinking, "What's next? How do I challenge myself now?"  This time I want to challenge myself to totally change my lifestyle--that sounds scary to write and perhaps even overwhelming to think about, but I have high hopes and no doubt I can do it.  I work really well when I give myself hard and fast rules--I am a cold-turkey or nothing kind of girl.  

Below are my rules for the next 8 weeks:

--No Alcohol:  Truthfully, this is not as hard as it sounds. The first 3 days are the most difficult, and then after that, it's honestly like I'm a new person. Not that I'm pounding the booze hard core (cause I'm not), but not having any alcohol in my system totally clears my head, helps me sleep better and, eventually, helps me drop weight (that's not the point of this health focus, but it's a nice bonus).  I often give up drinking for 3-4 weeks at a time and I am always shocked by how fantastic I feel.  I can't wait to see what 2 months off the sauce does for me.

--60 minutes of yoga a day: I love yoga.  I have for a long time. But truthfully it's something I forget to prioritize, so this is critical to me. I have been setting a timer for 30 minutes or 60 minutes at a time, unrolling my mat on the front porch and taking myself through a self-led Vinyasa practice or putting on an Om on the Range podcast.  Already, in the 4 days I've made an hour of the day for yoga, noticed a huge difference.  My goal for this summer is to be able to a headstand and a handstand, unassisted.  Arm balances, here I come!

--40 miles of running a week:  I already run about 30 miles a week, so upping to 40 isn't a big change, plus when I think about how I was running 80 when I worked at Gazelle a few years ago, 40 is nothing.   It will also help me get back into the 1/2 marathon training routine that I fell out of while traveling. I have 3 half marathons I want to run this summer starting in August, and, since I shoot most weekends, finding a race on an off weekend is a priority and makes sure I stay dedicated to the cause. 

--Oil pulling 2 times a day: I've been oil pulling for almost a year now and I still love it.  I swear it makes my teeth shiny and white and my mouth is so soft (which sounds weird, but trust me, try it for 2 weeks and you'll be hooked)

--More green tea, more water:  I will not give up coffee. I just won't.  I did for a few months years ago and while it was fine, I just like coffee and it's like one little thing I look forward to each day in the morning.  But, I will add more green tea and more water to my routine--I've been making a huge pitcher of green sun tea every 2-3 days and drinking my way through it as well as prioritizing water intake.  Again, in the past 5 days of doing so, I feel like a different person.  

--Deeply reducing processed foods and sugars:  I'm not going to give up carbs 100% or sugar 100% or anything like that, but, being as it is summer, it's so much easier to eat a huge bowl of fruits or vegetables at this time of the year, so I want to be more cognizant of not putting overly processed foods into my body--just stuff that's whole and natural and real seems to be a better way to go about this.  But I'll still eat the occasional slice of pizza or hamburger, for sure. 

--Fish oil and cod liver oil:  I've long read about fish oil and cod liver oil as being great for your heart, eyes, skin, hair and digestive system.  It helps everything stay on track and functioning and while I know I probably have a pretty healthy heart from the amount of exercise I get, I want to make sure it stays that way (heart disease IS the number 1 killer of women, after all), so 1 of each of these pills a day will be a must.

--1 long dog walk a day:  This might seem like a weird one, but stay with me here.  There's all this research that shows people with pets, specifically dogs, are far healthier than those without--a pet provides so much love and affection and the pet is always there for you--it reduces stress (except for those moments when you come home and find that the coonhound has pulled a butcher knife off the counter and then it's sort of like "Welll......") Anyway, we've got two fantastic dogs--Tasha is honestly...well, I won't even start talking about how much I love that dog because it will get weird, and Ruth Ann has really shown herself to be a fantastic member of the family (a hound that doesn't bark? Yeah, that's great), and we live by the Lake, so it seems ridiculous not to take them for long walks.  They come home exhausted and hungry and I come home feeling re-centered and focused.  Walking dogs along the shore of the Lake at sunset is probably the best thing I can imagine, especially after the winter we just survived.


There you have it--my focus for health and wellness in the Summer of 2014.  Most of these are not huge dramatic changes for me--they are things I already do to a certain extent, I just plan to be more intentional about them.  

Like I said earlier, for me, setting hard and fast rules works really well.  If I cheat one day, I know i'll cheat the next and the next and the next, so for me, these need to stay strict--but that's not for everyone, so if you're looking for a way to change up things, maybe it's one step at a time, or on a smaller scale.  

Either way I wanted to put it out there on this blog so that I'm accountable to these changes and to this lifestyle for the next 8 weeks--I full plan to update all of you on my progress and (inevitable) setbacks and I hope you'll throw out ideas, suggestions, comments and thoughts about your own health routines--I love hearing from my readers, so drop me a comment below!