Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Back to Basics

Wow! I can't believe it's been almost 2 years since I've posted to this page. I've been significantly more active on the Facebook version of this page and in life in general. I was running 5ks & 10Ks and was training for a half marathon until the PF in my feet became unbearable. And then after 15 months of trying I became pregnant, but 3 months later I lost it.  My body is actually still in the process of miscarrying. So while I give my body time to heal on the inside. I've decided to work on making the rest healthier too.

With a new marriage and adjusting to my one and only going to kindergarten (which means new schedules for everyone) and taking graduate classes my discipline more than just faltered. It vanished. And my body has paid the price.

So its time to get back to basics:
1. Doing something is better than nothing.

2. Remembering I eat to fuel my body, What I eat affects how I feel.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Your Body is Designed to MOVE!

The longer I live, the more I learn, the more I experience, the more I realize that taking time to be active every day is not just a weight loss thing. It's not just a physical fitness thing. It's an overall health thing. It's what our body was designed to do. We were not designed to be still.  Your body wants to move, it needs to move, it LOVES to move!

Think about all the things that happen when you are still, all the diseases in which a sedentary lifestyle is a contributing factor, all the thing that develop if you are still for too long. Your body needs to move. Your body is designed to move.

I personally have discovered how much my own body relies on exercise. A few years ago I started having strange and severe pain in my pack along my spine near the bottom of my shoulder blades. The pain would be so uncomfortable I could neither move or lay still without it hurting. The first time this happened resulted in a trip to the emergency room at 3:00 am. They suggested then that it was probably just a muscle spasm. I had other fears, but was relieved that it could be something as simple as that. So they sent me home with some pain meds and muscle relaxers. A few days rest and I was back to my normal self.

I went the better part of a year before I had another one. So, this time I went to see a Chiropractor. He thought he felt a vertebrae in my back slightly out of line so he spent several visits trying to realign my spine. A few days after each visit I would get an even more intense pain in my back that would surround my whole torso and eventually become so severe that I would vomit. When I finally made the connection that these more intense episodes came just a few days after each chiropractor visit I stopped going, not surprisingly  these episodes subsided.

I started working out again. Something I fell out of the habit of doing a few weeks before the the second spasm. I did my usual routine, the routine I had done throughout college, light full body workout, then a half hour on the treadmill or a 3 mile run on the cross country course which ever the weather dictated. (Yes, I am a fair weather runner).  Months went by without any back pain. Throughout my entire weight loss journey I did everything from lifting, running, Insanity, flag football...etc. I even tried out for the Pittsburgh Passion - women's professional football. Not one problem in all that time, but recently, with wedding planning, holidays, and buying a new house I kind of fell off the workout wagon and guess what? I had another back spasm, but this time it happened just before a well check up with my doctor. She did the typical exam, pressing on parts of my back and spine to rule out bulging disks and things of that nature. She told me she believed it to be muscular-skeletal in nature. And guess what she recommended? Specifically light lifting, even more specifically lat pull downs, lat rows, and push ups. Why? because your muscles actually help keep your spine and skeleton in place. This is why as most people grow older and become less active they develop more back and joint problems.

Incidentally, I ran this by my sister who is an Occupational Therapy Assistant and she confirmed that for most physical injuries some sort of physical therapy is often part of the healing process specifically for the reason of your muscles helping to stabilize your body.

So, I have even more motivation to move. Instead of wasting money and time at Chiropractor's offices. I just move.

This got me thinking about all the different diseases and ailments that are out there and how much staying active can help in preventing many of them.

 If an ill patient lays in a hospital bed too long he will develop sores simply from being still for too long. If you stand around all day at your job you develop varicose veins. A lack of movement throughout the day burns less calories which contributes to weight gain. Without moving during the day your heart muscles weaken. The American Diabetes Association lists lack of exercise as a risk factor for diabetes. The American Heart Association suggests that living a healthy lifestyle plays a big role in reducing the risks of Heart Disease - they list getting plenty of physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle.  Blood  failing to flow properly is one of the many factors for developing blood clots that can lead to strokes or heart attacks as can happening during prolonged immobilization according to WebMD.

So moving and staying active is about more than vanity. It's about maintaining a high quality of life.

You can read more on the articles referenced in this post by going to the following websites or clicking on the hyperlinked text above:

American Diabetes Association - Diabetes Risk Factors

American Heart Association - Coronary Heart Disease

WebMD - What is a Blood Clot?

Friday, March 29, 2013

Sony Walkman W Klout Perk #FitnessWalkman

Hey Friends and Fans!

As some of you may know I'm on Klout.com. My Klout Score is currently 58. Having Klout can get you some pretty awesome things. The best thing I have earned to date is my most recent Klout Perk: A Sony Walkman W!

You all know I try to stay active and having good music to listen to can serve as great motivation to keep me pumped during your workouts. I have my favorite playlist on my smartphone that automatically plays when I used certain fitness programs. I even have a smart setting that I created to automatically play my favorite workout playlist when I connect my headphones, but I'm really looking forward to receiving my Sony Walkman W because it will allow me to listen to my favorite playlist without the worrying about wires getting in the way!

The Sony Walkman W is a wire-free, hands-free MP3 player that also claims to be super comfortable. It holds 4GBs of memory (That's a lot of playlists!) AND  it has a quick charge feature (which is always great because I usually forget to charge any of my electronic devices until the moment I need them). To find out more  you can visit the Sony Store.

With your help my perk can get even better! My perk will be upgraded to the Waterproof version IF I am among the top 5 influencers receiving this the Sony Walkman W. Which means I can even run in the rain while listening to my favorite playlist! I love running in the rain!

While there's not doubt a wire-free, hands-free MP3 player would be great for an runner like myself. I can't help but day dream about all the other things I could do with my Sony Walkman W. This is where I need some help from you, my loyal fans!

If you are interested, here's what you can do:

1) Share this post, my Facebook Posts, and any Tweets I tweet about this perk from @JJasMyself  that I post with the hashtag #FitnessWalkman

2) Share with me your suggestions for activities and adventures you think I should try with my wireless Sony Walkman W and if I like your idea I'll try it and post pictures and stats about my experience!

Thanks for you help! I can't wait to see what kind of adventures you all come up with for me!

Saturday, February 23, 2013


If you've been following this blog at all then you know that my whole approach to health and fitness is based on three principles. 1) It has to be applicable to the average every day real world working family and because of that it then also has to be 2) affordable and 3) It cannot be depriving or overly restrictive.

While the first two principles should be easy enough to understand the third is one I often have people disagree with me about. There are plenty of well known diets and fads out there that tell you to give up something entirely and you'll lose weight or get healthier or whatever their claim happens to be however, these types of approaches are typically recipes for failure because it's just not very realistic that you can go the rest of your life without eating a certain food group, it's not realistic to expect that wherever you go the people with have the ability to cater to your particular diet, it's not realistic to go the rest of your whole life eating meals that arrive in the mail. It is realistic that you can go the rest of your whole life making better choices at each meal and every where you go. This blog has been based on the idea that you can improve your health by making a series of small better choices in your daily life that will get you to better health and fitness. I am living breathing healthy proof that this approach works and keeps working.

Anything you see on this blog is my own experience. I rarely post anything without trying it first. Which makes this particular post a landmark event because I'm posting about something that I haven't tried in full force yet. Something I even dismissed as unrealistically restrictive at one point, but this is what happens when you continue to make small improvements. Those small improvements go from almost unnoticeable choices to a whole new life style.

The common remark I have gotten from people when I've told them I've gotten to where I am by setting a calorie goal and making sure I workout out for at least 20 minutes at least three days a week is that this approach doesn't work. Or my personal favorite:

"If all you are doing is counting calories you're not going to eat any healthier because you can still eat junk food and stay within your calorie goal."

While this is a perfectly true statement those who say this to me tend to think they came up with some major revelations I've never considered of before. As though I eat a double whopper meal each day and tally up the calories and say "Well I've reached my calorie goal, no more eating for me today!"  to which I normally respond, "Well, this is true, but the fact of the matter is I actually do want to be healtheir and I  don't want to walk about feeling hungry all day so I make it a point to look for foods lower in calories so I you can eat more of them. And those foods tend to be the healtheir foods such as fruits, veggies, and lean protiens." (however, I am in the process of amending this approach slighly as I've finally gotten to the point that low calorie/not calorie sweetners are pure evil-more on this later)

I've been doing pretty good with this approach. I've looked up recipes from many different websites and of course my go to recipe book is the Elite Nutrition guide I got with my copy of Insainty, but I feel like the next step is Primal or Paleo oriented because I think the series of small steps I've taken throughout my health and fitness journey have gotten me to a place inwhich I can at least commit to a suedo Paleo lifestyle... at  least at home. That is, I  think I can easily commint to making Paleo/Primal dinners and snacks for my family when I'm at home on the weekends and Breakfasts, Lunches, Dinners, and snacks on the weeknds. I even ordered the Top 100 Fast Paleo ebook to try some recipes out.

I purposely chose the Top 100 Fast Paleo recipes because in order for it to applicable to this blog it had to be applicable to a full time working single mom, so I need easy fast recipes. I have to admit I'm kind of intimidated by some of the ingredients I haven't tried before and the seemingly over abundance of the use of Coconut Flour, but I definitely feel like this is the next step for me. So, I'm going to try some recipes over the next few weeks to see what I can do. If you're looking for more Paleo-oriented recipes check out the Facebook Page: Just Eat Real food. That is the page I've been following for a while now that has inspired this next step and it's also where I was able to order the Top 100 Fast Paleo ebook. I do not know the people who post on that page nor the people who make the Fast Paleo recipes. I do not get any kind of conpensation for writing this blog post nor did they ask me to write a post about it. This is simply just the next step in my health and fitness journey and I thought I'd share it with you.

I'm still learning about the Paleo lifestyle and what the difference is between Paleo and Primal or similar diets so if you have anything to share with me on this topic please comment below!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Better Blog ReNaming

Hello Fellow Fitness Fans.

I've been thinking about changing the name of my blog for quite some time now. It made sense to name it A Better Reflection when I first started blogging about my health and fitness journey, because when I looked in the mirror I hardly recognized myself and I knew my healthier more active self was still in there somewhere I just needed to find her.

Throughout my fitness journey I have improved in many different areas. The one problem I fixed the most was my own self image. As you may have read in posts on My Fitness Pal or in my Facebook Groups, I have lost about 35 lbs and have kept it off for over a year now. My original goal was to lose 50lbs but as I became more fit, and did more research on health and fitness, and learned things along the way. I've come to realized how amazing my body not only because of all the amazing things I have done that I never thought I was capable of doing, but also because of it's unique beauty. I have proven to myself that I am in great shape and my health is at an optimal level. I've learned to love myself and my body throughout this entire process. Which is why I don't think the title of "A Better Reflection" adequately represents what this blog is about.

Adopting a healthier more active lifestyle is not about just looking good. As a matter of fact as time has gone on, how I look has become one of the least motivating reasons for staying healthy and making better choices. My health, a long life, more energy to be a better mom, a better teacher, a better friend, the way I feel, the ability to move with easy, feeling comfortable in my own skin, reducing the costs of health care and clothing. These are the things that motivate me... and yes, it's nice to look "good" too. But I find the folly in wanting to look good is that most people, especially women think they have to look like the girls in magazines, without realizing those girls don't even look like they do on the glossy pages in real life. There are a thousand different ways to be beautiful and being healthy is one of the most beautiful things I've ever discovered. Life is so much more beautiful when you feel good from the insides out.

I also want people to know that when they read my blog it's written by a real woman, who lives and works in the real world, who enjoys the occasional sweet treat along with all array of deliciously healthy fruits, veggies, grains, and proteins this world has to offer. I want them to know that too can feel better and live better without spending extraordinary amounts of money on food or supplements and without sacrificing all the things they enjoy to eat, without denying themselves and entire food group, no matter what their schedules are or how busy they are.

So I need some suggestions. Any ideas?

Monday, December 24, 2012


If you've seen my Fitness Tip of the Day on my Facebook Page: A Better Reflection  posted on December 24, 2012 then you know you need to USE YOUR CORE!.

Your core muscles are an integral part of almost any workout. They help control your balance, protect your back, and provide support for many other activities.Contracting your core appropriately helps you get the most out of your activity and keeps you safe.

As a matter of fact you can get strong tight abs without doing a single sit up if you use your core in a variety of workouts . I'm living proof of that thanks to Insanity. Your core consists of the muscles surrounding your abdomen, upper abs, lower abs, and obliques. Try it! You can help focus your abs by putting your hand on your abs or touching or pointing to your abs as you do a particular workout activity. Taking a few seconding to check your abs in this way during a workout will help your body focus on contracting them and will eventually lead to you automatically doing so without having to check as often. You can check your abs any time you have a free hand in a exercise, even if moving both arms is part of the exercise, such as when doing a jumping jack.

 Let's say you have decided to do as many jumping jacks as you can in a minute. Start your jumping jacks. At a certain point to make sure you are contracting your abs, just put one hand on your abs for a few repetitions to make sure you are tightening your abs when doing this move, meanwhile your legs and other arm keep doing the jumping jack movement. Once your are sure your contracting your abs appropriately return to using both arms as in the a tradition jumping jack. Contracting your core during the jumping jacks protects both your back and your knees! Just remember to keep your knees soft as you land.

Since I started my fitness journey I have heard this bit of advice over an over again in almost every fitness program I've tried from EA Sports Active workouts, workouts suggested in health magazines, to the Beachbody workouts I've tried such as Turbo Jam, Tia Cheng, and Insanity "Use Your Core!" or "Contract Your Abs!" because the fact of the matter is that you use your abs to do almost everything like jumping, kicking, turning, squatting, sprinting, or doing a push up.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

New Years Resolutions & Challenge Packs

The holiday season is in full swing and soon we'll be celebrating the new year. A New Year often means making a resolution to improve your life in some way. If your New Years resolution includes eating healthier, improving your fitness level, losing weight, or adopting a healthier lifestyle altogether Team BeachBody can help! Take the Team Beachbody Challenge. The challenge packs include everything you need to succeed with your health and fitness goals this year. A fitness programs to meet a variety of interests and needs, sound nutrition guides, supplements, and most importantly the motivation and support of ME! Your Independent Team BeachBody Coach! Order your Challenge Pack for fitness program today so you are ready to kick off the New Year! www.BeachBodyCoach.com/JJasMyself

Monday, November 26, 2012

Insanity Review - Why It's the Perfect at Home Program

What do you call 6 feet of space, your own body weight, and something that plays a DVD?
Your personal total body gym!

I'm serious. If you have 6 feet of space and a place to watch a DVD you can get an excellent total body workout that will give you improved strength, cardio, and agility all in just 60 days 40 minutes a day. 

I was never really one for at home workouts. Ever since I was a teenager (many, many moons ago) I would try some at home workout program or another, but would never stick with it for some reason or another. I hated, absolutely hated Aerobic workouts because I just couldn't seem to keep up with the video, just about the time I would get the hang of a certain set of moves, it would change. I felt clumsy and frustrated at best. Because of this I tended to stick to the gym, or running, or more conventional methods of training.

After having my baby it took me a few years to believe that I could ever be the healthy version of myself that I once was. I had gained so much weight over the years just believing I didn't have time for everything I had to do in my life as a homeowner, working full time, being a wife, and mother. So I slowly let my health and fitness slip away from me. A couple years later I was faced with the challenge of being a single mom. I love my baby girl more than anything in the world world and I didn't want to be the out of shape, always tired, version of a mom that I was any more. So, I started hitting the gym again, but progress was slow. Then my dad bought me a workout video game that I tried. I wasn't expecting much to happen as I felt like nothing would work, but slowly and surely I got in better shape. Soon I out worked the fitness video game. I needed something more. That sent me back to the gym to lift and run on the treadmill. Then a friend of mine, who was a Beachbody Coach, told me about the Team Beachbody Insanity Challenge group. So, I thought I'd give it a shot.

What's Not To Love About Insanity?!

No Equipment Needed
I never would have believed you could really get the kind of results I've been getting with an at home workout. Especially one that requires no extra equipment. Just six feet of space and your body. I'm only starting week 4 of Insanity and I've lost 2 inches around my waist and am seeing some serious definition in my arms and legs. Oh, and I'm making major improvements on my fit tests.

Realistic Expectations
One thing that has always bothered me about at home workout programs was watching all the "perfect bodied" people in the background working out and never once needed to take a break. There was always that cynical part of me with the thought in the back of my head that these workouts weren't meant for the average person. This simply isn't so with Insanity. Yes, Insanity pushes you to be able to do things that you probably never thought your body was capable of doing, but Shaun T reminds you throughout his workouts not to sacrifice form. To take a break if you need it and then get back to it. Even the trained athletes in his videos are seen taking a break when the needed. And like a good coach Shaun T even tells some of the people in his video to take a break when he sees them losing their form. "Take a break if you need it. I'm not trying to hurt you. I'm just trying to make push you and make you stronger." he says at one point in the Pure Cardio workout. I like this, because this alleviates that sense of failure I used to feel when I couldn't keep up withe video. So, I take a break when I need it and get back to it. After four weeks of Insanity I'm taking less breaks and the breaks I do take are shorter. Insanity WORKS.

Delicious & Nutritious Meals in the Elite Nutrition Guide
Insanity doesn't just set itself apart with the genius of Shaun T's fitness program, but with the Elite Nutrition Guide as well! Unlike many of the healthy eating guide's I have tried in the past the majority of the meals in the Elite Nutrition Guide are comprised of everyday easy to prepare foods. THIS to me is key to maintaining a healthy diet. Anyone who has been reading this blog for any length of time knows that I try to present health and fitness from a real world perspective. And in the real world, people are busy, and people don't have much money to throw around. the Elite Nutrition Guide doesn't send you to the grocery store looking for some expensive rare ingredients. Chances are whatever your favorite grocery store happens to be, it will carry what you need for most the meals in the Elite Nutrition Guide. Saving you time and Money and who doesn't want to do that?

The Comfort of Your Own Home
Ok, so this is true about any at home workout program, but the fact that I get the results of Insanity in my own home makes this one seem so awesome! It's almost winter here in South Western PA which means snow, temperatures below freezing, and at times unsafe driving conditions. So, the fact that I can get stronger, faster, and more agile without having to leave my house is a major plus right now.

Results You Can See
When I was workout out with EA Sports Active 2 and tracking my diet on My Fitness Pal I was weighing myself every chance I could get and officially weighing in every week. That was what kept me motivated and kept me focused. Seeing the scale drop. With Insanity I hardly weight myself because I am getting results I can see... actually I'm getting results everyone can see. Whether it's a personal NSV like my clothes fitting better or seeing the definition in my shoulders and biceps or that first set of abs trying to make themselves known.  I'm seeing results almost every day. I'm seeing results on my fit tests every two weeks. And everyone around me is seeing results and commenting on them. Even people I work with every day have been complimenting me on how good I'm looking and how they can tell I'm getting more toned and look firmer. Who needs a scale when you have results you can see and feel?

Ready to  experience this kind of success for yourself. Pick up your copy of Insanity today!


Have any questions or comments about Insanity. Feel free to contact me!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

NSV - The Most Motivating Victory!

You don't have to be in the fitness world for very long before you see three letters pop up in everyone's posts and blogs. NSV.

What do they mean? For most people they mean the have undeniable proof that they are making actual progress toward their health and fitness goals. More motivating than the numbers on the scale and more genuine too!

NSV stands for "Non-Scale Victory"

A Non-Scale Victory can be anything that is proof positive that you are achieving your fitness goals. All the time and hard work you put into creating a healthier lifestyle are paying off.

NSVs tend to be more motivating than simply seeing the numbers drop on the scale for two reasons.

1) even when you are making progress the numbers on the scale don't always drop. Sometimes they hold steady and at times you might even seen them climb.... so really, the numbers on the scale are a poor indicator and at times can definitely be a poor motivator of your actually fitness progress.

2) Non-Scale Victories usually take you by surprise. It's that random comment from a co-worker who takes the time to say, "Wow, you're really looking good! Your body looks firmer" or  "your skin is glowing." or that morning you are trudging up that flight of steps to drop your daughter off at day care before work when you get to the top and realize, you're not out of breath! That goes double for when you realize that you've reached the top, you're not out of breath, AND you were carrying your daughter!

It's running a 5K three whole minutes faster than you ran your last one. It's getting through INSANITY: Cardio Power & Resistance the third time around and realizing you didn't have to take a break before the warm ups were over. It's have to cut the sleeves off your t-shirts because your biceps have gotten so big the sleeves are uncomfortable.

But the coolest NSVs I've ever had are the ones you don't really think about until they happen. Like when you pull your winter clothes out of storage and realize not one pair of pants fits without a belt holding them up. Or something as silly as sinking into a bubble bath for the first time in months and realizing there's a whole lot more room in the tub than you remember there being the last time you had the chance to take one!

Yes, Non-Scale Victories are a delight. And can really keep you motivated. So, keep measuring, keep stepping on that scale if you need to, but don't let standard units of measure dictate your feelings about your progress. After all, getting healthy and staying fit isn't about seeing how skinny you can get or about how much weight you can lose. It's about increasing your quality of life. The more you can do today that you couldn't do a week ago, a month ago, a year ago, the better your quality of life is.

So, when you're chasing your little one around the backyard in a game of tag. Take a moment to realize how much more fun it is now that you don't get out of breath after just 5 minutes.

Now that you know what an NSV is I would love for you to share some of yours! What progress have you seen that keeps you motivated to continue doing what you're doing? Let me hear some Non-Scale Victories of your own!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Beachbody Coaching.

For those of your who are my friends or followers on Facebook or Twitter you already know that I've taken on endeavor. I have become and Independent Beach Body Coach.

Why Beachbody? Beachbody makes a full line of products from nutritional supplements, meal plans and workout equipment to highly effective and recognizable home workout programs. If you have ever heard of P90X, INSANITY, Turbo Jam, Brazil Butt Lift, or Body Beast then you've heard of Beachbody.

I was first introduced to Beachbody products when I saw an Infomercial for Turbo Jam back in 2007 I still have and do the Turbo Jam workouts today. As a matter of fact I am in the process of arranging a Turbo Jam Challenge group to kick off  New Year! When I first started doing Turbo Jam I stuck to the included meal plans and made the workouts a part of my daily life and the extra weight just seemed to melt off.

Beachbody sells all the equipment you need to successfully succeed. After a while I felt I needed more of a challenge so I ordered the weight gloves to help increase the intensity of my workout. I love these gloves! I even use them when doing other workouts!

While the programs and equipment are excellent the thing that drew me to Beachbody was the community. The coaches and other Beachbody members are fantastic motivators. As a matter of fact my Beachbody coach was there to motivate and support me even when I was using other programs and products. It is evident that the Coaches of Beachbody are passionate about fitness and helping others on a their journey to health and fitness. That is why I decided to become a Beachbody Coach!

While I wear many hats I my daily life. I love health and fitness. I love sharing in others journeys and motivating each other. Since I have experienced the quality of Beachbody products and their effectiveness I knew it was something I could get behind.

Another product that is synonymous with Beachbody is ShakeOlogy. A meal replacement shake that is packed with nutrition!

To find out more about Beachbody or ShakeOlogy check out these links: