Sleep Your Troubles Away

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If you’re like me, you probably spend most of your day exhausted and chugging coffee just to function. One bad night of sleep turns into two…and before you know it you’ve barely slept all week. You think to yourself, I’ll catch up on sleep this weekend – but when the weekend comes, family obligations and household errands take the lead and all of a sudden it’s Monday again. Sound familiar? Well, turns out we aren’t alone…but this is a much bigger problem than we all realize.

Studies show that over 40% of Americans get less than the recommended minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night. Sleep is a basic human need, much like eating and drinking, and is crucial to our overall health and well-being. It’s important to every aspect of our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being to get enough sleep.

Getting enough sleep won’t just invigorate you; it could also help control how much you eat. A lack of sleep is linked to overeating—especially the overconsumption of junk food—which can lead to weight gain. It also has an impact on hormonal balance. Two hormones that help regulate hunger—ghrelin and leptin—are affected by sleep. Ghrelin stimulates appetite, while leptin decreases it. When the body is sleep-deprived the level of ghrelin spikes, while the level of leptin falls. This leads to an increase in hunger. Not only does a lack of sleep interfere with hunger signals, but there’s also the problem that less time in bed simply gives you more hours of the day to eat.

In addition to weight/metabolic issues, a lack of sleep also will cause more long-term and serious health problems. Some of the most serious potential problems associated with chronic sleep deprivation are high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure or stroke. Some research has linked a lack of sleep to an increase of the stress hormone, cortisol in the body and it’s now believed that people who experience short-term sleep deprivation are not able to process glucose as efficiently as those who get eight hours of sleep. This means that they have an increased likelihood of developing Type 2 Diabetes.

If a person is lacking rest but has continuous muscular activity, other issues such as cramping arise. Muscle fascia tears, hernias, and other problems usually associated with physical overexertion have also been reported in extreme cases of sleep deprivation.

Besides the many physical consequences of insufficient sleep, perhaps the most important consequences of sleep deprivation are deficits in working memory and attention. Lapses in ordinary day-to-day tasks can cause worrying results; from missing words or sentences while taking notes to omitting important ingredients while cooking. It appears that carrying out these tasks which require attention is in direct correlation to the number of hours the person sleeps each night.

As hard as it may seem, we need to make time for ourselves and for sleep. Doing this will ensure that you lead a much more productive and healthier life.

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Fighting to be Fit…3 Years later!!

 

I’m about a week late but…Happy 3-year Blogiversary to all of us!! Thank you all for your continued support as we Fight to be Fit!

I had big plans for this little blog last year but life had different ideas. 2016 was a rough year for most of us…and I was no exception. I suffered a major setback with my health, in the form of severe chronic fatigue and the reappearance of my PCOS symptoms. On top of that, my shoulder finally gave out on me & I had no choice but to undergo surgery. It’s been a really long road…but I’m finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

For starters, I’m officially 3-months post op! Although I still have pain, I’m 1000% better than I was before. My range of motion isn’t perfect but it’s definitely improved. I’m finally able to raise my arms above my head without pain, which is something I haven’t been able to do in over two years! Despite my progress, I get in my head a lot. I think about how hard I worked and where I was before this injury happened. My workouts have resumed but they are nothing like they once were. It’s a huge adjustment mentally but I’m trying my very best to focus on the positives. I may not be able to lift heavy or do the exercises I once loved, but I will be able to soon. Deep down I know that if I push myself too far too soon, I will only make matters worse…and set myself back even further.

As far as my health goes, I have good and bad days. My chronic fatigue has gotten much better, which I believe is due in large part to a supplement called Adrenal Restore. That shit is magic. I wrote a whole review about it last year…and everything still holds true today. My PCOS symptoms have been horrible. I’ve developed pretty debilitating migraines, which sent me to the ER earlier in the year. All things considered though, that’s been mostly under control and since that episode have rarely happened.

The surgery mixed with my health issues definitely set me back with my weight loss. I gained back a good 20lbs over the last year….and it definitely wasn’t muscle. I went from weighing over 200lbs to getting myself ripped to something in the middle.

I won’t pretend that I’m happy about the setbacks or that I’m proud of where I’m at. However, despite my physical setbacks I learned that mentally I’m stronger than ever. Sure I have bad days like everyone else…but rather than get discouraged by the bad I’m using it as motivation. I know if I keep working hard and stick to a (mostly) clean diet, I will see great results. Hell, I’m already seeing some drastic improvements!

November 2016 >> December 2016


Being on a weight loss journey really teaches you the art of patience…and about yourself. We are all much stronger than we know and it’s not until we are truly put to the test that we realize our full potential. That being said, I won’t make any elusive promises or grand gestures as we go into our 4th year. My goal is simple: continue to inspire all of you reading and give you all hope that no matter how hard life gets or what obstacles you face, it IS possible. After all, nothing worth having comes easy 🙂

Let’s all continue this Fight to be Fit together throughout 2017…& beyond!

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

Gina

 

Fighting to be Fit…at the Bar

Happy Friday!!! I hope you all had a great week!! Since it’s the start of the weekend, I thought it would be the perfect time to touch on another frequently asked topic – drinking. Is it allowed? If so, what is a good cocktail to have??This post will hopefully shed some light on how to balance a fit life…and a social life.

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2013 vs. 2016 at D’Jais in Belmar – Proof that you can still lose weight while still enjoying the life you live 🙂

I want to start out by saying this – I don’t believe in deprivation. If you are looking for long term success, you have to change your lifestyle and make things work for YOU. That being said, if you enjoy having cocktails or beer, then you should continue doing so. You can only avoid it for so long. What if your co-workers suggest happy hour? What if there is a family event, such as a wedding (with an open bar)? You will only end up having more than you should (or more than you normally would) down the line. So what can you have? What are the good options? Let’s get started!

The easiest suggestion that I can make is to have drinks containing clear liquor. This includes vodka, silver tequila, and gin. Clear rum may be clear but it contains a TON of sugar. More so than other liquors. If rum is your drink of choice, have one and be done. If possible, stick with the others.

Now that you have your liquor, you have to make the actual drink. This is where things get sticky. A lot of popular cocktails contain a ton of juice and/or some sort of mixer…aka tons of sugar. Whenever possible, opt for the skinny version. Bars & restaurants have this option readily available. This type of cocktail is made with agave rather than the sugary mess. If that isn’t possible, many drinks can be made “skinny” simply by cutting the juice in half and replacing the other half with club soda. A margarita is a prime example of this. That happens to be my favorite so when I don’t have a bottle of SkinnyGirl around, I make my own version with silver tequila, club soda and a splash of lime juice. I sometimes add the triple sec but I’ve found it tastes just as good without. That’s it…and it does the trick every time. Going back to rum, if you really enjoy a good mojito – this can be altered in a similar way to the margarita. Have them put club soda and half the syrup. You’ll still have the rum and mint flavors…just half the sugar.

Another option? Vodka/club soda. This is usually my drink of choice at a crowded local bar or event. It makes things nice & easy for the bartender, which guarantees you won’t have your drink messed up. I sometimes use a flavored vodka just to get an extra taste to it. Trust me – when it’s crowded and there isn’t a skinny menu, simple is best!

Beer. Man, I love me some beer…but it never loves me back. I don’t care who you are – beer will always make you bloated. After all, the term “beer belly” didn’t come from the clear, blue sky. So, as much as I may love other varieties, I usually opt for a light beer. Miller Lite is one of my favorites. Why? It’s low in calories and almost always really cheap at the bar. If you really can’t bring yourself to drink the light stuff, have one of the good ones and be done.

Wine. As an Italian this has always been a staple on the dinner table…especially during the holidays. So when I go out, it’s honestly the last thing I think to order. I also know that while there have been studies that show it’s health benefits…it’s high in sugar. Sangria, while delicious, is another diet disaster. You can make the wine or sangria into a spritzer by adding club soda. If you prefer not to alter it, I would operate with the same mentality as the others – have a glass (or two if they aren’t huge) and be done.

If you are at the beginning of your weight loss journey, you should definitely limit your alcohol consumption. There is a ton of sugar and/or carbs in alcoholic beverages and quite frankly, there are much better treats that you can allow yourself from time to time. However, if there is a special occasion or you really just want a cocktail or beer, go for it…just make sure to be smart! Whether it’s skinny or not, have two at most and be done. You can babysit that beer or drink while socializing and it will make the whole process so much easier. This will not only help your waistline…it will help your wallet too.

As always, if you have any questions about anything listed in this post or about my nutrition/training packages, feel free to email me at TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com.

Until next time, stay strong & stay in the fight!

-Gina

Exercise & Invisible Illness

 

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Anyone who suffers from an invisible illness can testify to the effect that it has on you, mentally & physically.

I suffer from two different invisible illnesses, PCOS & CFS. The PCOS has been under control for many years however I have been experiencing a very bad flare-up…which has caused my CFS to go mad. The combination has caused my workouts to stop, my weight to rise, and my mind to go bonkers. Let’s back up a bit so I can explain better.

Unbeknownst to me, the  (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) began in high school. I would get extremely sick every month and end up sent home from school, doubled over in pain. Soon after my graduation I went for my first ob-gyn appointment, and learned that there was a reason for my misery. I was placed on birth control and, barring some issues along the way, have mostly been fine ever since. Until now. Up until recently, I have not had the insurance to warrant my regular exams or medication. The results have my weight sky rocketing, my sugar cravings going absolutely MAD, my hormones completely out of whack, my skin breaking out like a teenager,  and my lower back in chronic discomfort. The more research I do, the more I realize I have been suffering with various symptoms of this all along but since the pain was gone, I had no idea. It also seems that some of my stomach problems may be linked to this. While there is no concrete evidence, I’m finding that the “PCOS-friendly” diet is actually the diet that helped my stomach most when I followed it a while back. While I do follow the high protein/low carb diet, I have been on sugar overload. Now I may love candy but even I can admit that my cravings have been out of control lately. All of this has my wheels turning and thinking that perhaps PCOS has been the cause of all of my health issues all along…but since it is not a proven fact I will just let that be for now. What I can say is that the PCOS, combined with my insane stress levels, have caused my CFS to run wild.

CFS, or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, is something that is very hard to explain…and even more difficult for people to understand. There are no visible signs. Your body aches as though you have a very high fever or the flu and you get extremely tired and feel this overwhelming sense of fatigue that no amount of sleep seems to cure. Your immune system also gets significantly weakened with CFS. Some days it just feels like my body is fighting a losing battle within itself.

With the combination PCOS & CFS wreaking havoc on my body, my exercise routine has taken a BIG hit. So much so, that my Summertime Shred has been put on hold. It’s been really hard on me mentally but I know it’s for the best. I have been doing my best to follow a very good (PCOS-friendly) diet and exercise whenever possible, but it’s still taking a toll on me.

Often times people who suffer from CFS feel as though they don’t have the energy for simple tasks such as going to work or taking a shower. That’s exactly where I’m at. Lately just getting myself out of bed has been a chore in and of itself. However, seeing how much you can accomplish and improve over time by exercising can be a big motivator and a way to feel better, both physically and mentally. I am doing my best to get some type of exercise in every day, no matter how little it may be.

A common trend that came up in my research for both CFS & PCOS is that of walking & yoga. Both seem to be exercises that are extremely effective and favorable to both illnesses. As the weather gets warmer (HELLOOO SPRING!!), I have been incorporating walks more & more into my daily routine. Despite the fact that I am not the biggest fan of walking, it does make me feel good to get my body moving. Since it seems to be working well for my body, I find myself doing this most often.

I have also found myself stretching a lot more. I’ve tried to take advantage of the foam rollers around me and, while I have never been the biggest yogi, I’ve also been using several yoga poses to help with managing the aches & pains. It has been proven that certain yoga poses promote hormonal balance and deep relaxation, which help to bring the adrenal and cortisol levels of otherwise stressed-out PCOS minds and bodies in check, while assisting in healing from chronic inflammation. The more my lower back hurts, the more I find myself gravitating towards this practice. Right now I’m doing some of the stretches/poses myself however, I may be trying out some yoga classes (or dusting off my old SkinnyGirl dvd) one day very soon.

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If you are like me and have grown accustomed to a structured strength training regimen, having chronic pain & fatigue can be torture. However, I have found that resistance bands, in all their simplistic glory, are quite the amazing resource in such times. The bands are designed to keep your strength training up with as little impact & intensity as possible. Your muscles will feel as though they had a monster workout but you are actually putting in half the effort you normally would.

I have also found in my research…and my own experience…that it is often easier to divide daily exercise into two sessions, to avoid symptom flare-ups. Activity may be alternating and brief, spread throughout the day and/or followed by rest. If you experience a worsening of symptoms, you should return to the most recent manageable level of activity.

It’s important to keep in mind the following when beginning a workout routine, under the stress of any chronic pain/illness:

  • The more gentle the exercise, the better it will likely be for you. It may seem like you are doing nothing (especially at first) however it’s important to ease into a new routine that will suit your current needs.
  • Start slow – It’s not about the ego! I’m guilty of trying to do more than my body will allow but it’s critical to monitor your symptoms and adjust your workouts accordingly.
  • Push yourself to get moving, but don’t push yourself to do more until you know you’re ready. You want to make sure you get your body going…but not overdo it to the point you make a bad situation worse.
  • Expect some setbacks – you’ll need to experiment to find your current level of tolerance.
  • Remember that exertion comes in all forms. Don’t try to exercise on a day that you’re also going to the grocery store or doing something else that’s strenuous.
  • Take breaks when you need them, but don’t give up! The payoff could be less pain, more energy and a better quality of life.

**Note: Many people who suffer from chronic illness/pain are so ill they can barely get out of bed, let alone leave their home. In this instance, there should be a very modified & careful approach to exercise. Hand stretches and picking up/grasping objects may be all that can be managed at first. Gradually increasing activity to the point where you can handle essential activities of daily living such as getting up, personal hygiene and dressing would be the next step. Those in this situation, should focus on improving flexibility and minimizing the impact of deconditioning so they can slowly increase function enough to manage basic activities.

I always struggle with sharing my setbacks on here and on my Instagram but the goal has always been to inspire others by sharing my story…no matter how good or bad it may be. I want you all to see that no matter how hard things get and whatever life throws your way – it IS possible. I have been feeling really defeated lately, especially as I am trying to build a fitness business. However, I know that I work hard and I will get myself back to looking AND feeling good soon enough. As a matter of fact, I have recently obtained insurance and have already begun taking the necessary steps to alleviate this whole mess! I may not be able to crank out my own crazy workouts right now but that doesn’t mean I can’t help others achieve their goals. I know how hard this journey is and I know what it takes to succeed. I have always said that nothing worth having comes easy – and this is by far the biggest test of that. The best advice I can give anyone (including myself) is to take it one day at a time…one step at a time…and above all, just keep going!

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

-Gina

TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com

1st Phorm Product Review: Adrenal Restore

For the last 10 years, I have suffered with Chronic Fatigue. Many symptoms come and go but the fatigue is always present. I’ve taken vitamins, gotten injections, and tried various other remedies but nothing has worked. Until now.

Enter Adrenal Restore, from the awesome people at 1st Phorm. This has truly been my magic pill. I’ve been using it for about three weeks now and it has completely changed my life. I went from barely being able to move out of bed to being back at full speed in the gym, while balancing the rest of my hectic life. I have tested it by using it a few days then taking a few off. Let me tell you – I feel a HUGE difference when I take the pills. The aches and pains are almost non-existent, my energy is insane, and even my sleep has improved.

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Here’s a little background on the pills themselves and how they help you:

From 1st Phorm: “The potent ingredients of Adrenal Restore reduce physical and mental stress, minimize caffeine headaches, reduce cortisol levels to help minimize fat storage and optimize natural energy levels.”

Since beginning these pills, I have drastically cut down my coffee intake – going from a MINIMUM of 4 cups per day down to one. My energy levels have been much higher than it has in months so I haven’t needed that extra caffeine boost. I also notice that while I may not be getting extra hours of sleep, I feel much more rested when I wake up. Best of all, I am able to lead a normal life without the aches & pains wearing me down.

More from 1st Phorm: “Your Adrenal glands play a huge role in your every day function and how well your body operates. They are responsible for some major hormones like DHEA, Cortisol, Progesterone, testosterone, Adrenaline and over 40 others. These hormones can be thrown out of whack due to the strain placed on your adrenal glands through training, stress in life, anxiety patterns, stimulants, and countless external stressors. No matter what gender someone is, they are susceptible to the negative side effects of having there hormones being out of whack. This is where the term adrenal fatigue comes in: being chronically tired, trouble getting up after good sleep, cravings for food, getting sick more easily, not feeling the effects of stimulants like caffeine, feeling over whelmed… and the list goes on. Now, Adrenal Restore is an all-natural product designed to help reduce those side effects and get your adrenal glands back to proper function. This is done with the vitamins and herbs in the capsules. Here is a list of ingredients. You will see that the ingredients listed are proven to be antioxidants, fight fatigue, improve memory, normalizing blood sugar, boosting your immune system, and mood enhancing.”

*As a word of caution: Even though this is a natural supplement, if you are currently on prescription medication you should consult your physician prior to trying these pills.*

I don’t like to promote products for the sake of doing it. This blog is all about sharing my journey to help others facing similar struggles. I truly believe that this pill can help many others who are suffering, just as it helped me. If you are interested in learning more about this product or any others, click here or send me an email at the address below. I would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

Gina

TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com