A WEEK OF: Yoga

A Week Of:, Health & Fitness, Lifestyle, missjessamy

After hurting my back at the end of February and it being too painful to do any of my regular gym activities, I wanted something that would keep me active, but that would not put too much strain on my neck, back and shoulder area—giving it time to heal through gentle movement and stretches. 

Yoga has always challenged me as I prefer high-intensity workouts and find it hard to switch off and hold my poses during a session to really ‘feel the energy’. 

Nevertheless, I decided just to do one morning of yoga when I woke up on Sunday, February 23rd super stiff and in pain, but wanting to be still active. And after this one morning, I thought I would set myself a challenge leading to A WEEK OF: Yoga. 

At the start of this week, I began with only stretching yoga sessions that focused on my neck, back and shoulders as I wanted to trigger some further relief after my chiropractor appointment and deep tissue massage. 

The first day I was focused on the pain I was experiencing and was moving slowly, trying my best to breathe through the discomfort. And I couldn’t believe it when my hour session was up, and I felt excellent. 

There were two main youtube channels that I used for my sessions. Predominately I watched Yoga With Adriene who I love. Her videos are so specific that I was able to target my problem areas during my stretching sessions and avoid those areas when I wanted more of a workout. And then I also really enjoyed Boho Beautiful. She has a more high-intensity yoga and pilates videos which were great as my back started to get better towards the end of this week.

So keep reading to follow my week of yoga. 

DAY ONE: Sunday, February 23rd 

After seeing my chiropractor on Friday and getting an intense massage on Saturday, my whole back, shoulder and neck area were quite aggravated. I woke up very stiff and in need of some significant stretching and slow movement. This was where I realised that the gym was OUT OF THE QUESTION and that I should try to give myself some TLC through mindful yoga. I did an hour session on Sunday morning after queueing multiple of Yoga With Adriene’s upper body focused stretching videos. I could not believe how fast my session went! I was super focused the whole time on my muscles and trying to move as mindfully as possible, so I did not further injure myself, and before I knew it, my time was up. 

Admittedly, I was still experiencing a fair bit of pain after my session, but I did feel a LOT better and felt that I could move more freely. I also noticed that I felt calmer and ready for the day. Initially, I was nervous; I would feel more tired after doing such a slow-moving workout early in the morning, but it was quite the opposite. 

I had a jam-packed day on this Sunday with a full shift at work and then an afternoon barbecue. But I feel that this session gave me the relief I needed to get through this day with lessened pain and a clear mindset. 

DAY TWO: Monday, February 24th

This morning I was not feeling well at all. My back was very tight again, and I had been woken up multiple times in the night with neck pain which had lead me to feel fuzzy in the head and nauseous due to lack of sleep. However, being the second day, I was still committed to doing my yoga session to see how I would feel afterwards. I only did about 30 minutes this morning, and I honestly felt so much better after. On this morning, I still did a stretching focused yoga session but thought I would give my back and neck a break and not focus on stretching them the whole time. So, I also stretched out my legs and abs, which felt great as well. I did not realise how tight I was in areas like my hip flexors, lower abs and feet. So this session brought my awareness to my whole body. 

DAY THREE: Tuesday, February 25th

After already beginning to feel the relief and benefits from my first two days, I was looking forward to my session this morning. I felt a lot better in my neck, back and shoulders and attempted to do a more strength-building yoga session. However, I soon learned that I was not ready and just resorted back to a slower session that focused on mindfulness and flexibility. I was starting to love the range of yoga moves and flow sequences that kept reappearing through the different videos. I was beginning to feel more confident in my steps; being able to extend further and become more focused on clearing my mind and breathing deeply through the more intense parts of the session. 

I also felt I was becoming better at zoning in on my movements and the flow; being able to control my thoughts. Although I was not 100% clear-minded, I felt a sense of zen I had not experienced before. 

DAY FOUR: Wednesday, February 26th

Today I felt great! Finally feeling the severe tightness in my back, neck and shoulders release and feeling that my ability to move become freer. At the halfway point of this challenge, I was surprised that I was still feeling committed to this. As I said before, I do high-intensity workouts daily and did not think I would be able to work up a sweat and get my muscles working through these mindful yoga sessions. 

Also, I’ve realised that I have felt a lot more mellow during this experience. Despite starting my day with yoga, I have felt that at the end of the night when it is bedtime, I am finding it more comfortable to wind down and fall asleep straight away.

DAY FIVE: Thursday, February 27th

I am slowly starting to increase the intensity of my yoga sessions with more weight loss and muscle building yoga sessions than the stretching ones. But I still love how, despite working up a sweat, there is still a sense of mindfulness and simplicity to my sessions. I also feel like I am getting post-workout muscle pain – like I have targeted muscles that I have been missing in my other workouts. I think that moving slower and focusing on my breathing and specific muscles has allowed me to target deeper areas that I often ignore. 

DAY SIX: Friday, February 28th

Today I WAS SORE and was so surprised. If you asked me before I began this challenge what I thought yoga did for your body, I would have said it was purely focused on stretching and mindfulness; but I was wrong. Yesterday’s workout worked my abs and legs, and I can feel it. My obliques and lower abs are quite sore, as well as my glutes. I continued with a more intense yoga session today with two videos from Boho Beautiful, which were an intense ab focused pilates session and a cardio session. 

DAY SEVEN: Saturday, February 29th

The final day of my one-week yoga challenge. Today I was feeling energetic and ready to do another yoga and pilates session that were more intense; as my back felt a lot better. As I workout first thing in my morning, I woke up today looking forward to getting my session started. I was also definitely still feeling like I had worked deep muscles in my previous days’ sessions as I was feeling super strong in my abs and legs.

DAY EIGHT: Sunday, March 1st

Today was my first day back to my regular high-intensity workouts, which felt great. However, I honestly noticed the difference in my mindset when I finished my workout and almost felt ‘not done yet’ when I left my session as I started to crave that mindfulness and stillness that the yoga sessions gave me. I am going to prioritise yoga from now on in my workouts. Because not only did it make me feel great physically, but mentally I felt so in control and ‘zen’. 

As someone who struggles with anxiety and stress along with being the queen of overthinking and fretting about things I really CANNOT control. Starting my day with time for myself that did not involve intense concentration and high-intensity craziness was nice. I did not expect to experience such powerful changes from this challenge. After my yoga sessions, I felt I was able to look at my day with a more calm mindset and felt more productive and happier throughout the day and week. 

Admittedly, I probably will not do yoga every day as I still love my high-intensity sessions, including running and weight lighting. However, I feel this week has taught me how to be more mindful within my body (physically and mentally), and it has shown me the importance of replacing some of my gym sessions with yoga sessions so I can refresh my mind and muscles. 

Do you like yoga? Let me know what benefits you get from yoga and let me know if you are going to try this challenge. 

Have a great day. x

How To Stay Fit and Healthy During Uni.

Health & Fitness, Lifestyle, missjessamy

It’s that time of year when we all head back to Uni (in Australia) and get a step closer to getting a degree. But for a lot of people, heading back to the books means heading back to eating takeout and halting working out because our lives become ‘too busy’. Well, fear not because I have put together five of my personal tried and true tips and tricks to help you stay on track and ace your finals and fitness goals this year.

#1- Start Your Day With Exercise

Now trying to juggle work, university and a social life is hard enough, which is why having to add in regular exercise is too hard for some, me included. Going to bed late and having to wake up early while being constantly tired is something all students deal with, and eliminating factors that make our days longer is ideal. But, exercise is an extremely important part of keeping yourself healthy and also assists in stress control.
My biggest tip for keeping up with your exercise routine in University is to do it first thing in the morning, even if you can only squeeze in 15 minutes before you have to run out the door; you’ll feel the difference in your day.
I used to be an afternoon exerciser, but after my workouts, I never felt overly accomplished and found I struggled to push myself to my limits. So I wanted to mix it up and began working out in the morning after breakfast. Well, this didn’t work either, I was full of food and was trying to jump around (rookie mistake). Instead, I set my alarm that little bit earlier and worked out before I did anything else in the morning, between 30-50 minutes depending on how I felt and how busy I was in the day.
This time change in my workout has honestly changed my life completely (sounds dramatic, but keep reading). I have found my digestion is better throughout the day, I feel more awake, I have more energy, and I feel so accomplished in the morning. It is also a great feeling to finish Uni or Work at 5 pm and know I can just come home a relax.
Now, I understand working out in the morning doesn’t suit everyone, even fitness extraordinaire Kayla Itsines has shared her dislike for working out in the morning. You have to do what suits you but I would highly recommend giving this a go! I only have to wake up 30 minutes earlier in the mornings, and that’s a small price to pay to feel good all day.

Favourite Workout Channels:

Popsugar Fitness

Blogilates 

Boho Beautiful 

Love Sweat Fitness

Yoga With Adriene 

Gabriella Whited

I combine multiple videos from the above channels to tailor workouts to what I want to focus on each day.

#2- Fuel Your Body Right

Being on the go all the time, it is easy to slip into the constant ‘eating out’ routine. Coming home on the bus and opening Uber Eats to see what’s nearby or skipping breakfast and grabbing a chocolate bar for a quick pick me up en route to a lecture is not a good way to go about your health.
The easiest way to avoid these diet downfalls is to meal prep or snack prep. When I go to Uni, I am a snacker much more than a meal eater. For me, breakfast is the biggest meal I have for the day, and it’s usually either a smoothie bowl or GF oats with Banana and Protein and everything else throughout my day I keep light and sustainable.
I am not much of a meal prepper, but I do prep snacks. I always have cut up capsicum, carrot, cucumber and cooked sweet potato in my fridge with homemade hummus. And I also always homemake GF, DF, RSF protein balls and bars as well as Fruit and Nut mix, so I can keep myself fuelled in-between classes.
However, if I don’t have time to make the sweet treats, I have a few go-to brands I chuck in my bag including:

Tom and Luke Protein Bars

Golden Day Paleo Bars

Blue Dinosaur Paleo Bars
I also always carry a large water bottle with me around campus with apple cider vinegar, this helps me stay hydrated and helps combat any sweet cravings I might get when I am bored in class (haha).

#3 Find Local Gems

Now, this slightly goes against what I said above about avoiding to eat out, but sometimes it is unavoidable. So my biggest tip for this would be to do your research and find places close to your Uni that provides healthy and yummy snacks and meals. Also, if all your friends want to go to a burger place, just read the menu well and try to opt for the healthiest option. For example, all my friends love Grill’d, so whenever we go I order:
*Veggie Vitality or Zen Hen
*on the Low Carb Super Bun
*and with Sweet Potato Fries (I only order fries if I share or I am particularly hungry)

Now, this is still a treat meal, but it is the healthier option and allows me to stick to my healthy lifestyle, while still being involved in the fun with friends.
Being in my second year now, I have also scoped out places around campus that sell my favourite Coconut Water, Kombucha and Paleo Bars.

#4 Write Down Your Goals

What do you want to achieve with this lifestyle? A more positive life outlook? Increased motivation? Stress relief? Weight loss? Toning up? Whatever it is, write it down! This not only holds you accountable for every positive decision you make towards a better you, but it also helps you visualise your end goal which increases your day to day motivation.
For me, every night before I go to bed I write down my workout plan for the next morning. This both keeps me accountable for my workout, but also allows me to go to bed and wake up motivated, as once it’s on paper, it has to be done. Since commencing this routine in mid-January, I have only missed ONE day, and that was because I woke up with a stiff neck and my doctor recommended I give it a break.

#5 Vitamin It Up

One thing that I think has truly allowed me to properly focus on my health is taking vitamins that help my body seize the day. I am currently taking a Calcium, Mega B, Vitamin C and Horseradish and Evening Primrose to support my health. I have never really been into these approaches, but with feeling the way I do right now, I have no idea why I wasn’t. Now, of course, I am not a healthcare professional, so you should always consult them before adding these supplements to your diet, but I would highly recommend going to them and figuring out what you need. I am calcium deficient, so a Calcium supplement is a must for more. Additionally, I suffer from anxiety and elevated stress levels, so my Mega B supports that and the Evening Primrose helps with my skin and in reducing my serious symptoms of PMS. Finally, the Vitamin C and horseradish is a general wellbeing one that helps with my immune system. When taking vitamins, it’s important to understand what you are taking and why you are taking it.

Despite everything above, you have to do what works for you. It is so important to take care of your health and wellbeing throughout your whole life, but when you have to juggle 100 different things throughout the day, your body needs some help. I hope you at least try one of these tips above and good luck with your studies.

Jess xx

@jessicatathem

Reforming My View On Fitness.

Health & Fitness, missjessamy

In school, I wanted to be skinny; I wanted that Instagram bikini body and I thought the only way to get that was cardio and minimal eating, this is indeed not the case! Focusing on building muscle and strength was not part of my workout routines ever, as I always thought I would bulk out and lose a lean figure.

So in my senior years of school when I began to get more of a routine, I was just doing cardio, and I ate clean. Did I lose weight? Yeah, I did. What I thrilled with how my body looked? No. Why? Because I wasn’t toned and I wasn’t strong at all. I struggled with bad posture, weak knees and a shoulder injury which was in the limbo zone of improvement.

The moment I realised how important strength was for physical health was when I was sitting in a shoulder surgeons office hearing that I would have to get shoulder surgery to fix my right shoulder.

*quick flash back*

In 2015 I was in rehearsals for a show. It was a children’s show, so it was high energy and very physical. When we were doing a warm up, I was distracted, and someone came up and hit my arm upwards (it was part of the game). With the hit, my arm went straight up and around, forcing my shoulder to pull a full 360. And what I found out later was that my shoulder dislocated, pulling my ligaments and then returning to its position. This effects of this incident were worsened by me being double jointed and already having weak joints.

So fast forward to mid-2016, and here I was, being given three months with a Physio to improve my condition or it was under the knife for me. I was determined not to have surgery. It would mean I wouldn’t be able to use my dominant arm for over six months recovery; therefore meaning I’d not be able to work, drive, write or work out. Also, I had an overseas trip planned, in which this surgery would have inhibited me from doing heaps of fun activities while away.

So I began physio, and it was hard and painful, but I slowly got better. And I started to realise that my strength was building and this strength was healing and protecting my weak shoulder. A few months later, I was cleared by the physio for surgery and to this day, by maintaining my strength, my shoulder has gone from 40% to 85% (it’s still not 100% perfect).

But how have I maintained this strength? With Pilates and it has changed my view on fitness and taking care of my body. My mum had been going a local studio for about six months and was enjoying it. So after I graduated high school and had more time on my hands and more money from being able to work more, I thought I’d give it ago. And honestly, after the first session, I was hooked. Within the first few weeks of doing pilates regularly, I noticed I was getting stronger, and I felt great. My shoulder pain was further reduced, and the weight I could handle was increasing.

What I love most about it is that in the 45 minutes you’re in a class for, you get a whole body workout; your legs, abs, arms, back, booty is all taken care of. You honestly will not believe the burn you get and the post workout muscle pain you feel until you try Pilates for yourself. It targets muscles I never knew I had and I leave sweaty after every session; despite their being super cold air conditioning. I have toned up so much since starting pilates, and despite the increase in muscle, I have maintained a lean physique.

Last year, I didn’t enjoy workouts, I did them because I felt obligated to lose weight. But now my mindset has been transformed, and I have fallen in love with being fit, strong and healthy. And I love working out; I look forward to my class. Every session I’m doing a different workout, and I can feel my body getting stronger with every move. I highly recommend trying Pilates for yourself and seeing AND feeling the differences.

Healthy Breakfast Pancake Muffins 

Food, Health & Fitness, missjessamy, Recipes

Meet the new perfect edition to your morning routine. Everything amazing about a blueberry and banana pancake; cooked into deliciously moist and filling muffins (easy to take on the go)! Have one for breakfast, or pack as a ‘pick me up’ snack during your busy day. These muffins are so tasty, and by being GF, DF and RSF they are sure to please everyone. img_5181.jpg

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 large Banana
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ cup Chia Seeds
  • ½ cup Almond Meal
  • 1 tbl Vanilla Protein Powder
  • ¼ cup Almond Milk
  • ¾ cup frozen blueberries
  • ½ teaspoon Bicarb Soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • *optional* Granola (top sprinkle on top)

Makes approx.  12 muffins FullSizeRender

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
  2. Mash banana until smooth in bowl
  3. Add in remaining wet ingredients and mix until all combined
  4. Add in almond meal- mix while adding to avoid clumping
  5. Add in chia seeds, protein powder, bicarb and baking powder, combine all ingredients.
  6. Sprinkle in blueberries, avoid mixing too much to avoid colour mixing of the blueberries and mixture.
  7. Evenly distribute into muffin pan
  8. Sprinkle granola on top before cooking
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes, watch to avoid top burning.
  10. Allow to completely cool and store in the fridge, in an airtight container.

The Paleo Effect

Food, Health & Fitness, missjessamy

Hello Everybody, As I have mentioned in previous posts, I have really tried to eat more healthily. It came to my attention that, what I was eating was making me break out and feel sluggish. This change in lifestyle has been unbelievably beneficial for me even though it is such a simplistic concept. What is this concept you ask? I call it, The Paleo Effect. Paleo meaning older or ancient as in Palaeolithic. In diet terms, the way in which the caveman ate. 

tumblr_mkdusyOcpu1rj9v2oo1_500

I chose this lifestyle as an experiment, wondering if it would change me in any way, and boy did it.

Previously to this wondrous change in lifestyle, I never ate particularly unhealthily, but there were common times I didn’t think before I ate, and therefore commonly ate the wrong things. And, by changing from that to all health food, I was skeptical as to whether it would be an easy change or if I would struggle to not turn to the ‘bad stuff’. SIDE NOTE: I don’t like calling it a diet, because I think eating healthy is a lifestyle change more than anything.

Amazingly, I have honestly noticed such a change. I have been on this lifestyle change for 13ish weeks, and my energy levels have skyrocketed and may I add, my skin is clearer and the redness has massively decreased. As I said before, my energy has increased, which helps in my motivation going through school with doing my work and everything else. I have also noticed a mood change. I have been happier within myself, and therefore happier when around others. However, as any lifestyle change, there are always slip ups. I personally, don’t care if I have a few slip ups. I am not going to rid myself of the occasional ‘unhealthy’ meal because of my healthy eating regime. I don’t believe in starving myself of life’s delicious and unhealthy foods just to be healthy forever; I find it impossible to live like that. Honestly, I do have the EXTREMELY occasional McDonalds with my friends or home cooked brownies cooked by my sister (etc…) because I enjoy them. I have stages where I am fully Paleo, and other times where I am loosely on the lifestyle. And personally, I think that is fine. I’m a teenager, and admit I go to the movies with my friends and eat bags of Chocolate and Chips. Also, some nights I’ll come home after a long day and eat rubbish. However, overall I commit to the Paleo regime in my common everyday life and within my meals and most snacks.

I am a strong believer in what I put in my body, will show on the outside. And that is why I want to commit to a healthy lifestyle now, so I can get the life long benefits. Wow, what a both reflective and somewhat informative post (hopefully…hehe). If you aren’t interested in the Paleo Effect but you still what to be healthy then go for it. I agree Paleo is somewhat of an intense and sometimes pricey change, but you can just change from maybe a white bread sandwich at lunch to a salad. Any healthy change can be beneficial to you.

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed this post. I know this was a bit of a different post to what I normally have on my blog, but I really wanted to share my experiences with all of you and I hoped you liked hearing them.

Love, Jess xx

I am not a doctor and all experiences are my own. All opinions are my own.

Picture Link: http://www.tumblr.com/search/tropical%20fruit%20salad

Dairy No More..?

Food, Health & Fitness, missjessamy

Hello Everybody,

Recently, I have been absolutely flat out with exams and assingments- so my diet hasn’t been great. However, I recently made a change that I think has really benefited me and that is, cutting our dairy (mainly milk) from my diet.

Personally, I don’t like milk. The only time I would ever drink it was if if was in tea or a Starbucks Frappuccino. I do not like the flavour on its own. A few months ago, I made the switch to Almond Milk- which I really like. As Almonds are one of my favourite foods, the transition was issue-less. So I thought… It turned out that I actually drank a lot more milk then I thought I did. I’d simply forgotten that in these colder months here in Oz, it doesn’t take much to heat up a glass of full cream milk and add some hot chocolate powder in it for a nice toasty drink. But for some reason, whether it be the health benefits or just because I didn’t like normal milk on its own, I real wanted to make a permanent change to this Almond Milk, which I had come to like so much.

If you don’t know or guess. Almond Milk does have a flavour to it, and does flavour what ever it is mixed or put into e.g Smoothies or Hot Chocolates.

Anyways, over the next couple of weeks, I decided to start making a change to replace the drinks I had, that contained full cream milk to now contain almond milk. I started adding it to my smoothies for my breakfast, my hot chocolate or warmed milk with cinnamon at night and honestly, I have noticed a big change. Not only am I less bloated and no more left with a heavy feeling after drinking tea or hot chocolate, my blemishes and redness on my face have decreased dramatically. Now, I will be honest with you all, I didn’t/don’t have badly blemished skin. I am quite lucky in the fact that I only get a few. But still they are a major self-confidence issue for me. Also, I am very pale, so I have lots of redness on my face 24/7. Almond Milk though, has really helped these issues.

Now, if you are reading this and are still sceptical, my best friend (fatlittlefiat.wordpress.com)has had the same results- only better then mine. From her most recent post, ‘Vegan Is Fab’ she comments on the benefits her non dairy life has given her, “Mum assumed it (dairy products) was making my skin bad and I always felt sick after having it so I just gave it up. Now, it’s almond milk in smoothies, coconut based yoghurt and ice-cream and no cheese.” Head over to her blog to read the full post! I can say her skin is amazing now, since coming off dairy.

I’m not saying that everyone in the world, that has blemishes, should come off dairy. I am just saying that if has worked for both myself and my best friend. And, if you are concerned for your skin or find you feel yuck are having milk or any dairy product, I would say give it a go. Remember, I am no doctor or expert, I am just telling you my experiences with the change of dairy consumption.

Talk Soon
Jess xx