Things I Learned From Sabotaging My Whole30 Plan (and Why I’ll Try It Again)

I tried and failed to complete the Whole30 challenge ¡ª but it’s OK| because the experience has set me up to succeed on my next try. When I received the Whole30 cookbook ($18) in the mail| I was intrigued and inspired to turn my health around with this diet plan of no grains| legumes| sugar| or alcohol. “Paleo on crack|” is what some people even call it. And I stuck to it fervently until day 18. That’s the day I effed it all up and had a glass of Champagne . . . followed by a loaf of bread. And just as the book predicted| once a cheater| always a cheater. The next day I put cream in my coffee. So what did I learn| and why will I try this crazy diet again? Take a look so you can avoid the same mistakes.

Image Source: Walt Disney Studios

Your cravings are temporary. Your pride is forever.

The book claims that your food cravings only last a matter of minutes ¡ª which I found to be true. They even warn you that after several weeks of not consuming alcohol and sugar| you’ll start to see it everywhere| also true. By day 18| I acted like a partially rabid animal around the sight of sugar and Champagne (my favorite beverage of choice). But as soon as I took a sip of the good stuff| it didn’t make me feel good! Why? Because I had broken the agreement I had made to myself of sticking to this diet for 30 days. The thrill of “sinning” didn’t outweigh the shame. OK| I get it now ¡ª submitting to my cravings doesn’t taste as good as “tiger blood” (how you supposedly feel the second half of the program).

Image Source: Comedy Central

Sugar and alcohol are the worst things ever.

Part of the Whole30’s purpose is to discover which foods send your health in a downward spiral (make you bloated| exhausted| break out| etc). Even though I only got through day 18| I discovered alcohol and sugar are my worst enemies. One beer or one chocolate chip cookie is enough to give me a raging headache. As much as I hate to admit it| I have to limit myself on these beloved treats| and I’m appreciative that this diet helped me see that dairy/gluten/legumes aren’t the big dietary issues for me.

Image Source: Walt Disney Studios

If you didn’t make it yourself| chances are it has sugar (or alcohol) (or gluten) (or everything noncompliant).

The book tries to set you up for success when dining out. The problem is| this diet is complicated. I tried to explain to waiters| “It’s gluten-free| sugar-free| alcohol-free ¡ª ghee| but no dairy.” Their eyes glazed after I told them| “No| this isn’t an allergy-related diet.” And you know what? After the exhausting back-and-forth| I’d still end up with a burger with [sugared] pickles or a salad with [sugared] dressing. There’s no avoiding it unless you buy from sources that are Paleo. But even Paleo has different rules| and you may end up with something coated in coconut sugar. It’s exhausting. So| I’m determined to cook 100 percent of my meals next time during a month in which I can commit to eating at home.

Image Source: Little Stranger Films

Get the support of your friends and family.

I tried to do this thing solo ¡ª bad mistake| as most of my family members and friends were enablers| taunting me to cheat on my plan. Even though the Whole30 talks about its supportive forum| nothing beats having a friend| significant other| or family member on board with you. So the next time I try this thing out| I’m enlisting the support of a buddy!

But enough about the fact I only made it to Whole17 1/2. I’m going to try this challenge again and complete it| because I learned so much already from this experience. I did drop a jeans size and five pounds (in addition to sticking to a workout regime)| so the diet does help shed excess weight. I got a glimmer of “tiger blood” as my workouts were way| way stronger| my hips and back pain miraculously stopped| and my menstrual cramps became nonexistent. I also felt like I was much more productive and focused at work| especially since midmeal hunger didn’t send me scrounging around for snacks. There’s too much good stuff to deny that the Whole30 does make a difference. Therefore| I’m telling you all now| world. I’m trying the Whole30 again in Februrary| and I’m sticking to it.

Time For Dessert! Post-Workout Snacks That Satisfy a Sweet Tooth

Time For Dessert! Post-Workout Snacks That Satisfy a Sweet Tooth

You’ve spent 45 minutes working hard to define those muscles| so don’t undo all your work with a stop at the vending machine. Satisfy your sweet tooth with nutritious post-workout snacks that calm sugar cravings while helping you replenish energy and rebuild muscles. Read on for a few of our favorites!

| Peanut Butter Protein Balls

An outer layer of crispy rice cereal on these peanut butter protein balls make the sweet treats an irresistible snack for before or after your workout.

| Strawberry Banana Creams

The fact that an entire bowl of these yogurt-and-banana-stuffed strawberries is under 150 calories makes this sweet snack a healthy-yet-decadent-seeming treat after your workout.

| Black Forest Shake

This chocolate-cherry smoothie from Runner’s World fuels you up before a workout u2014 but has the carbs and protein you need to make a delicious recovery treat as well.

| Vanilla Banana Protein Smoothie

This simple| low-calorie vanilla banana protein smoothie can be enjoyed before or after a workout; protein powder and almond milk help fuel your workout| and adding half a banana to the mix helps keep your electrolytes balanced.

| Chickpea Cookie Dough

This dessert may look like your favorite guilty pleasure| but in reality it’s so much healthier. A serving of chickpea “”cookie dough”” will satisfy your sweet tooth while offering your tired muscles a much needed dose of carbs and protein.

| Recovery Vegan Ice Cream

Yes| you can eat ice cream after a workout. This protein-packed vegan ice cream will cool you off and help you recover after a sweaty workout.

| Coconut-Banana Smoothie

After a sweaty run| you need to refuel and rehydrate fast. Whip up this quick coconut-water recovery smoothie| which is packed with protein from Greek yogurt and almond butter.

| Gluten-Free Molten Lava Cake

Why indulge on empty calories when your dessert can do a little work for you? This high-protein molten lava cake is hiding a muscle-building secret u2014 over 20 grams of protein!

How to Feel Happy When Everything in Life Sucks

The following post was originally featured on Fit Bottomed Girls and written by Alison, who is part of POPSUGAR Select Fitness.

“Happiness is an inside job.”

Some days I can’t help but wonder if Mr. Ward got it wrong when he wrote this quote. I mean, it doesn’t often feel like happiness is something that we’ve got any control over, does it? In fact, most days it feels as though we’re purely at the mercy of the guy who just cut us off, the boss who makes us crazy, or the lady talking loudly on her cell who’s blocking the entire grocery aisle.

But we aren’t really at the mercy of these infuriating folks; it just feels an awful lot like we are. Emotions ¡ª however pleasant or unpleasant ¡ª come from the presence of certain substances in our own brains that are triggered by our individual experiences and personal interactions.

And now this is the part where I pause to tell you that you shouldn’t throw your hands up and say “See, it’s biology! I don’t control my happiness.” On the contrary, we really do have the power to control our emotions . . . and it’s easier than you think!

First, a bit about the chemistry of happiness ¡ª those wonderful feelings of bliss are caused primarily by four hormones and neurotransmitters. Here’s a list along with the quick and dirty on what they do:

Endorphins ¡ª our bodies’ built-in pain reliever

Dopamine ¡ª causes those squeals of delight when we achieve a goal

Oxytocin ¡ª makes us feel loved, supported and bonded with others

Serotonin ¡ª gives us feelings of significance and makes us easier to get along with

Each one of these fabulous compounds can be triggered ¡ª in other words, you can actually give yourself a little jolt from time to time by doing some really easy stuff.

That’s right, friends ¡ª it’s totally possible to create little pockets of happy throughout your day no matter what your circumstances. Here’s how:

How to Be Happy

Feeling anxious or down? Get your butt in gear with a high-intensity workout or watch a funny movie to give yourself a healthy dose of laughter. These ¡ª in addition to the scent of lavender and a few bites of dark chocolate ¡ª have been shown to significantly increase endorphins.

Feeling unmotivated, unproductive or lacking confidence? Set some short-term, realistic and achievable goals for yourself, then celebrate the crap out of those little victories to give yourself a much-needed and well-deserved blast of dopamine ¡ª which BTW will most likely lead you to wanting to set bigger and more satisfying goals . . . and it’s the gift that keeps on giving!

Feeling disconnected and unloved? Grab a hug from someone or better yet curl up with a loved one for some snuggling to trigger the release of oxytocin. Or perhaps you need a reason to treat yo’self to a massage? Do it! That prolonged physical contact can have the same effect.

Feeling lonely and in need of attention? Give yourself a boost by spending 20 minutes outside just soaking up the sun or go for an easy run to promote serotonin production. Another option, take a minute to think about something that you’re grateful for and recall the significance of that person or thing in your life ¡ª happy memories are a great way to trigger these feel-good chemicals.

So the next time everything sucks and you’re having a hard time seeing a silver lining, give one of these simple tricks a go and see what happens. You could even get proactive with it and just decide to do one every morning to get your day started off on a happier note.

And even if you’re still super-skeptical, try it anyway because what’s so bad about snuggling, laughing, eating chocolate, and celebrating?

Image Source: Fit Bottomed Girls

Clean-Eating Plan: Week 2 Shopping List

We’re revving up for the second week of our two-week clean eating plan| and here’s the shopping list for all the groceries you will need. Print it out| take it to the store| and stock up. Be sure to check out the daily rundown of what to prep| make| and save throughout the week.

Click here for a printable PDF of the shopping list.

52 of the Easiest Health Resolutions a Person Can Make and Keep

Every year| losing weight| eating healthy| and getting fit compete for the top spot on Americans’ lists of New Year’s resolutions. And by mid-January| the majority of those high-minded health goals have been abandoned| leaving many soured to the idea of positive change in the process. But it doesn’t have to be this way. The problem is many healthy resolutions are too big and too vague to actually accomplish so aim smaller and go specific. And aim for easy. Like| really easy seriously.

Here’s a list of 52 extremely easy health resolutions| and we are sure you can master at least one of them. If you don’t like the idea of making resolutions| think of this as a personal health experiment. You’re not really committing yourself to sweeping changes| just dabbling. And when you check one of these resolutions off your list| you’ll feel so much better about yourself. And isn’t that the ultimate goal anyway?

    Drink a glass of water upon waking in the morning aim for eight ounces.When taking an escalator| don’t just ride but walk up those moving steps.Eat more high-quality dark chocolate (aim for 70 percent cacoa) it’s loaded with antioxidants.Read the nutritional labels of the packaged foods you eat for an entire day. Check out the portion sizes| while you’re at it.Make a motivational playlist stacked with all the songs that make you want to move.Get outside for 10 minutes daily.Food journal for a day (or a week) and track what you’re really eating. Those 3 p.m. M&M’s might just be making you crash.Floss before bed. Your dentist will love you for it. Not to mention your own gums will love you for it.Focus on your breath when you feel the stress coming on. Yep| it’s a mini meditation session.Stretch while watching TV.Drink your coffee or tea without sweetener. Just try it once or twice and see. You might like it.Focus on chewing all the food in your mouth before taking another bite.Turn off all electronics 20 minutes before lights out at bedtime.Measure out your food portions before eating. Yep. You will have to read that pesky nutritional label.Walk for 10 minutes three times a week.Stay off of social media for 24 hours and see how you feel not being “connected.”Plan a vacation little or big since the planning makes you feel almost as good as actually getting away.Time how long you are brushing your teeth . . . the ADA recommends two minutes| twice a day.Order your sandwich on whole wheat bread.Write down everything you’re grateful for at the end of the day.Eat some protein at breakfast or at least eat some breakfast. Order brown rice instead of white.When you wear heels| take 30 seconds to stretch your calves at the end of the day. How? Down Dog it. Eat a serving of fruit daily for a week.Find a mantra that works for you for hard times| and then remember to use it. Go vegan for a day. Here’s a high-protein vegan meal plan to give you some ideas.Ditch soda for a day (or a week).Give someone you don’t know a compliment.Try green tea. It’s really good for you!Take lunch to work two times in one week. Too challenging? Then try to brown-bag it once| your choice. We just ask that you set yourself up for success and make good choices.Skip alcohol| wine and beer included| for a week.Read a book ¡ª it’s good for your brain.Plan a fitness date with a friend.Take a compliment by just saying| “Thank you.” And not explaining why you don’t deserve it.Start your day with lemon water.Make your own salad dressing it costs less money| saves calories| and tastes better. Here are our favorite salad dressing recipes. Reconnect with an old friend off of Facebook. Yes| it is possible.Do squats while brushing your teeth make use of those 2 minutes!Sing the ABCs every time you wash your hands to ensure you’re really getting your paws clean.Make overnight oats so you have breakfast waiting for you in the morning.Give yourself an at-home spa day a long bath can make you feel so good.Schedule an at-home workout. Seriously. Put it in your calendar and do it. Get your vision checked those tension headaches could be about your eyes.Get rid of old| unsupportive sports bras and take time to find one that really works for you.Sleep eight hours a night for a week.Take healthy snacks to work; trail mix is easy and requires no cooking.Carry a reusable water bottle with you and stay hydrated all day long.Buy| and more importantly use| a set of medium-weight dumbbells.When you are cold| don’t turn up the heat do 10 push-ups (doing them on your knees is cool with us).Skip the fries and order a salad with your burger.Eat carb free for a day ¡ª do you feel better or just super cranky?Stop eating when you are 3/4 full instead of stuffed.

You might notice that 52 resolutions match up with the number of weeks in a year. You could go crazy and tackle one of these goals weekly for all of 2016. You can do it!

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Benjamin Stone

Day 8 Recipes: Clean-Eating Plan

Breakfast: Cranberry Almond Breakfast Bar

Note: Eat one bar for breakfast; save one bar for breakfast on Day 12. Freeze the remaining bars.

Cranberry Almond Breakfast Bars

C&J Nutrition

Cranberry Almond Breakfast Bars

Homemade Granola Bars: Almond| Chia| Cranberry

Ingredients

1 cup almond butter1/4 cup honey1 teaspoon vanilla extract1/4 teaspoon cinnamon3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats1 cup sliced almonds1/2 cup dried cranberries3 tablespoons chia seeds

Detox Your Body and Mind With This Full-Body Workout

A body-scuplting workout that will wipe the stress out of your day| too ¡ª Shape6 chia seed recipes you will actually want to eat in the morning ¡ª Real Simple3 alternative plank excercises for a stronger core ¡ª Self38 of the best and worst diets out there ¡ª HealthEverything you need to know about water weight ¡ª Women’s HealthQuench the thirst with these flavor-infused waters ¡ª Cooking LightRecover from a run with a healthy pecan pie smoothie ¡ª Women’s RunningHow to waterproof your makeup for the gym ¡ª POPSUGAR Beauty Image Source: Shutterstock