Life ramblings // fitness + nutrition talk

Hi all! Last week I left you off with how I was going to be testing out one rep max lifts – those went well. I ended up doing more of a three rep max and then calculating from there. With so many resources for online calculation of a one rep max from a lower percentage it’s so simple and much less taxing on the body. I’m not a big fan of 1RM’s just because of how much stress they put on your central nervous system. I think in a competition setting that is another story, but for me I’m just using that number to base my lifts at 80-90% off of so it’s not as big of a concern.

I’m doing a new lifting program which has me lifting heavier first and then moving to a lighter but still moderately heavy weight for the latter sets. I’ve always done more of a loading style in the other direction but have been finding myself warn out by the time I reach my heavy sets that either I struggle to get through them, my recovery blows, and/or my form goes out the window which makes me crazy. I’m really excited to see how this new set up goes and I’ll keep talking about this on the blog as well as it’s entirely new to me.


Insert random bicep picture because my face is absolutely priceless.

Another change I’ve been working on is figuring out what is going on with my digestive system. Yep, we are going to have that talk. Right here, right now. I’ve had GI issues pretty much since I can remember (circa age 5ish). My development and struggle with an eating disorder definitely exacerbated those problems and they have been worse ever since I started recovery and even with being in remission. It’s definitely frustrating because all my doctors kept saying that I would feel so much better as time grew between where I am now and my ED, so as to say the longer I stayed in a good, solid, healthy place. Also that things would improve once I got my period back, which happened two years ago this month (yahoooooo) and is a topic for another day because who doesn’t want an entire post on how to get your period back?! Exciting stuff I tell you. That hasn’t been the case so far though. I’ve talked briefly about this on the blog but I want to get a little more into it.

Recently with an increase in my time in the gym both lifting and doing other things such as running, kickboxing, jump rope, and of course… yoga for balance – I’ve been eating more which is fine and totally good and healthy BUT my gut symptoms have also increased. I’m finding that I do better with more dense food (read: higher calorie) vs less dense because I’m able to get in the nutrients without the bulk. I also have been following a “paleo-ish” approach for about two years now which for a while I did feel better, and I do still feel better than I did when I was a vegetarian and eating things like beans and more fiber-rich foods (don’t get me wrong I still love my veggies), but I’m wanting to experiment a little more in depth.11379149_462226437273669_947037059_n

Case in point on the vegetable lovin’:

Chicken + spring mix + onion + zucchini + sweet potato + tessamae’s (so good).

I think experimenting with our bodies on basic levels such as fitness and nutrition are really important for optimal living because it allows us to question things/habits that we partake in on a regular basis and see what is actually working and what can go out the window. Of course I believe in the motto if it’s not broken don’t fix it, but to be honest my gut has been broken for a while now and it’s time to actually get my act together and fix it. One really big motivator for me here is that my father has Crohn’s disease and seeing him struggle makes me that much more determined to figure out what is not sitting well with my body because I have that ability and am otherwise fairly healthy.

With that being said though I’m not a huge fan of promoting elimination style protocols unless completely necessary and ESPECAILLY hesitant in individuals who have a history of eating concerns because it can be highly triggering. I personally even don’t want to have to focus this much attention onto food but I want to feel good so I’m working with it. On the other hand though I’m in a really good place in terms of my recovery so I’m not concerned about going to a place that would be dangerous if I weren’t as solid. That is definitely an individual thing and something that I felt I really wanted to touch on quickly because it’s important.

I have the unique opportunity to work with an RD through school and because I’m a student it’s covered (by way of mandatory fees of course) which is amazing and I’m super thankful for that. I know a lot about testing my body for what works but clearly not enough because I haven’t figured it out yet! It’s nice to have another brain to pick for information and ask endless questions.

For now I’m actually just changing around things more based off of what I think could be causing problems versus a more “strict” elimination style protocol because I have some inklings of what could be causing problems. One thing I’ve noticed is that my energy is a lot lower lately and my recovery from workouts is also sub-par so I’m initially starting by thinking about what specifically could be causing that because obviously my digestion would be all over the place with those issues alone. I hope that makes sense? I’m starting my adding in more carbohydrate sources and reducing my selection of healthy fats because I’m pretty sure avocados and me don’t agree. I also think that nut butter is a bit of an issue and I’ve noticed I feel sick after eating it straight, so like a spoonful of almond butter ect.


More carbohydrates =

Oatmeal + banana slices + raw honey + sprinkle of chia + spices!

I’ll keep some updates on what I’m finding to work and not work coming but I want to remind you guys who might be reading this with GI issues that every body is different and is unique in it’s requirements and what foods are digested the best to have an optimally functioning digestive system. Don’t copy what I’m eating unless it’s out of ‘oh hey that looks good (which I totally hope it does haha) I want to try that’. Don’t do it expecting to make yourself feel better, perhaps it might, but perhaps it won’t because what works for me might not work for you. Embrace your uniqueness. That is definitely what I keep having to tell myself because this is a really long process. Do what you can with what you have.


“Don’t think about what can happen in a month. Don’t think about what can happen in a year. Just focus on the 24 hours in front of you and do what you can to get closer to where you want to be.” – Eric Thomas


Thinking out loud: 2/5/15

Hola! It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for thinking out loud, aka the unfolding of a solid rambling session. Sounds good, am I right? Who isn’t game for life ramble here and there? I know I’m game, let’s get started.


1. LOVING school. I literally can’t explain to you guys how happy I am to be at a University instead of community college. It’s so much different. I love the campus (expect the mad amounts of snow and freezing my tush off walking to class). It’s nice to see a larger community compared to community college which is all in one building… it felt like high school. My classes are awesome too! Psychobiology is definitely my favorite, it’s an introductory course to cognitive and clinical neuroscience. So cool!

bio psych

2. Acceptance. This is a big one, and something I’ve been working on a lot lately. Accepting that I’m not capable to do every.single.thing all at once. I can’t work a lot with being a full-time student while also pursing my NASM-cpt certification while also living at the gym and trying to blog more and keep a social life. Priorities have been set. They go something like this: 1. health, 2. school + NASM, 3. gym/personal time, 4. work, 5. friends + family, 6. blog. While I would love to blog more than 1-2x a week, it just isn’t feasible. I am more than capable to get two posts out most weeks though with the exception of heavy hitting exam/paper weeks! I would also like to put work higher on the list, while I am still able to do 10 hours a week (which happens to be 8am-6pm every Sunday), it’s not happening. Going from a part-time student to a full-time neuroscience at a new and much larger school is a considerable journey. I have enough money from working my behind off over the summer saved to get my by when needed and well, I live at home so my cost of living is substantially lower. Thankful.


3. Sarah time. When I can, this is the best. Reading, yoga, gym, journaling, meditation. It all helps. It’s the little things. I need the little things and I have to remember to give them the time they deserve and be grateful.


4. This stuff. Which side note, I’m convinced is actually laced. It’s so tasty. I’m sure you’ve seen this on many other blogs as it has become quite a hit all over creation. I’m not surprised either. Do yourself a favor, buy yourself a jar. Eat it by the spoonful. Don’t hate yourself for it. OK, cool?

nuttzo 6. Candles. For secret santa at work this year my co-worker gifted me some candles from a local spot where they hand make them, no dyes, all real stuff. I dig it and they smell amazing. I especially like to have one lit when doing yoga at home or even if I’m working on notes at home. It helps me keep calm.


7. Figuring out my gut. This is a long time coming and I’m still not there. I’ve struggled with digestive issues since childhood and then after years of not taking care of myself my body definitely needs the extra help. I think our bodies are constantly giving us hints whether we choose to accept them or not, about what is going on inside. I try my best to accept them, but I’m not perfect. I drink more coffee than I should. I eat more vegetables than sometimes feel good. I don’t always drink enough water. I’m human. I tried to figure out what I could possibly post a picture of here… probiotics? I just swapped back to this hefty-dose one. Deal with it.


What are you thinking about (or loving) lately?


Make sure you don’t start seeing yourself through the eyes of those who don’t value you. Know your worth even if they don’t.” –Thema Davis

xo, S


On school, health, and listening to your gut

Hi there! Happy Monday. Wow I never thought I would place the words happy and Monday together, first time for everything?

In my last post I briefly told you guys about my school schedule this semester along with some medical happenings. Today’s post is meant to give an update on how things have been going and what my sights are set on for the near future. I told you I was taking chemistry and calculus, well I dropped my calculus course end of last week. After missing my class three times, twice due to doctors appointments and once due to a visit to the ER I found myself more and more confused and lost in the material. I wasn’t learning anything rather just stressing out over how I was going to pull off the grade I need. Right now my stress level is a non-negotiable because I need to keep my health in check. As much as I didn’t want to drop the course, I’m beyond glad I did. A huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. On the other hand my chemistry course is going great and I’m really loving it. Plus my lab partner is awesome which is super helpful.

Lesson learned: accept limitations. Don’t kill yourself over something that just isn’t going to be worth it in the end. There are other semesters to take this course. It isn’t the end of the world.

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So, what have I been seeing the doctors for? First a brief history… I’ve experienced digestive issues since early childhood, nothing crazy, and nothing that has ever been given a specific diagnosis. My father has Crohn’s disease however and there has always been a question about whether or not that’s the issue, as in whether or not that is where I’m headed per say. While there is absolutely credibility within that theory it also doesn’t completely make sense yet at the same time none of my symptoms really make complete sense – but let’s be honest, what ever does? After my most recent relapse, about two years ago, I’ve been around the circle with different doctors, theories, tests, and still no answer. While I still see a few physicians I’ve definitely taken more of an effort into being my own doctor. Just to lay it all on the table, I think that my last relapse is what has triggered this phenomenon of physiological distress within my body. The consensus of my doctors is: there is an auto-immune process happening however at this time there isn’t an actual diagnosis to be made (of a specific auto-immune disease) but that it’s something to watch and monitor incase things get worse. Well, personally I’d rather not let things get worse and I would like to (read: I am) doing all that is possible to prevent a full-blown attack of my body on itself which for those of you who don’t know much about autoimmunity is probably the most cut and dry way to put what it basically is.

Over this last two-year time span I’ve been scoped twice, had plenty of blood work, a liver biopsy, and been tested for SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) and parasites. What is known with certainty is that there is a presence of auto-antibodies in my blood consistently along with some other abnormalities which I’m not going to get specific on at this time. For those of you interested in medicine they are ANA and ASMA. ANA, which stands for anti-nuclear antibody is a fairly non-specific antibody which can be present or absent in many auto-immune related issues. It can also appear in a healthy individual but usually at a lower titer, which is the scale used to measure the concentration of this antibody in the blood. Essentially it’s a quantitative analysis. ASMA, which stands for anti-smooth muscle antibody is much more specific. Usually a high concentration of this antibody is linked directly with either mono or auto-immune hepatitis (which is the form that is non-infectious but rather the body seeing the liver as foreign and attacking the smooth muscle which it is made up of). Given the presence of this my gastro ordered a liver biopsy to ensure this was not the issue I am dealing with, which thankfully it’s not. That said there is still much confusion around why I have these two antibodies. It could mean something yet it could mean absolutely nothing other than this is my genetic make-up from my parents. What is also known is that there is some issue with my colon. During my first colonoscopy my doctor was unable to get through the splenic flexure (where the transverse colon meets the descending colon) because it was twisted. That is italicized because this is a complex topic and can again mean something or mean nothing and that is something that hasn’t been completely determined yet. More than likely (read: in my opinion) it is something I will just have to “work around” in my life. My second scope was more successful and the attending doctor (a different one than the first scope) told me that while it was quite challenging for him to get through he did and that my colon is floppy and large. OK, cool, what does that even mean? Couldn’t tell ya.

About eight months ago I began to feel better, not super healthy, but better and that was enough. While I wanted to feel great I accepted good. This was until close to two months ago, I began to “flare” again. This is why I’ve been seeing my doctors again and seeing if anything has changed since my last work-up. Somewhat to my surprise yet at that same time not, nothing has changed significantly. Which probably just means that my body is flaring and something has triggered these issues to get worse again. Recently I began seeing a functional medicine practitioner who a friend recommended to me which is been a journey on it’s own. Functional medicine is a whole different ball game than western medicine and I like it. Between seeing this new guy and just this entire journey in and of itself I’ve definitely come up with a few things that do help even though I still have far to go on finding what my body thrives on. I’ll do a follow up post end of the week (after I have my next consult with this doctor) on where I am heading and what has been helping, along with some more specifics into symptoms and thoughts around digestive issues.

If there is one major lesson I’ve learned through all of this: it’s absolutely essential to listen to your gut because nine times out of ten you know what is best for you. The question is whether or not you choose to accept that and honor it. I’m no exception because it has taken me a LONG time in order to accept what works and put it into practice. And on that note I’m not perfect, there are still things which aren’t the best and that I need to work on.

Have you experienced any strange digestive issues that you care to share? Stories fully welcome, no judgment.

Ever worked with a functional practitioner?

What are you currently doing to better take care of YOU?!

Cheers, S ♥