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Breanna Woods

Is It Ok To Have Fitness Goals That Are Just Physical?

By | Body Image, Life | One Comment

Hey guys!

So awhile back, I wrote about how you can love your body AND still want to lose weight. The shaming that goes on whenever the topic of weight loss comes up still bothers me, but I really loved reading your discussion on that post. It’s something we NEED to talk about. It’s not a black or white subject.

We need to stop shaming and instead focus on understanding and supporting each other’s goals, even if they’re not the same as our own.

Which brings me to another “touchy” subject I’ve seen a lot of judgment around. Is it okay to have fitness goals that are purely physical?

For example, what if you set out on a fitness journey JUST because you’re dying to grow your booty, or to get your abs crop top ready? Is that okay? Or is that cause for concern?

You know we’re gonna talk about it.

The pros to “physical” workout goals

Let’s start with the positives.

First of all, ANY goal gets you started. It lights the fire under you that so many people struggle to find. I can’t tell you how many people say they are going to start working out just because they “know they should.” That’s their reason. They go in aimlessly, without anything specific to work towards. That often leads to discouragement and giving up completely.

Second, having a physical goal is just more tangible. I think we can all agree that progress that you can physically SEE is one of the best motivators. There’s just nothing like seeing your hard work pay off. It’s a HUGE confidence booster. And when you feel more confident, you’re more willing to finally tackle other goals in your life that you’ve put off due to lack of confidence.

Lastly, the physical goals bring so much more than physical results. If you get the abs you want, you might notice that you stand taller and your back doesn’t hurt anymore. If your arms are more toned, it’s going to be easier to pick up your kids all day long. Your time in the gym might become your time to burn off stress or manage anxiety. Maybe you just needed the time for you. There’s an endless list of things that could stem from one little physical goal.

Yes… there are downsides too 

I’m not gonna pretend like there are no downsides to this.

Because those physical results are so satisfying, it’s also easy for them to become addicting. And sometimes, it gets to a point where it’s never enough. And what happens if your body doesn’t cooperate the way you want it to? What if your body type is just never going to fit what you want?

Dealing with that is hard and can lead to a road of more extreme, dangerous measures.

For some people, there could be issues when they DO get the results they want. This makes me think about my days doing bikini competitions because maintaining those physical goals was basically impossible. The second I’d let off the gas, I’d lose the physique I worked so hard for because my body just wasn’t meant to look that way all the time. My body fat was too low, I was super strict with my diet, working out ALL the time, and I was tired. I realized those goals weren’t serving me.

Of course, most people aren’t doing something as extreme as bodybuilding or bikini competitions. But it’s the same concept. For some, seeing hard work pay off with physical results can grow into an obsession. Just like any reason you might be motivated to workout or eat better, it’s really easy to get carried away or lose yourself in goals that are just unrealistic.

90 day journal blogilates fitness goals motivation

Your “why” is YOURS

If your “why” for working out and eating healthy foods starts out as something physical, that’s okay. Because your “why” is YOURS.

Other people may not understand it, and that’s okay. It’s personal.

What’s important is coming back to your “why” over and over again. Reflect and evaluate if it’s serving you, and keep going. That means if you started going to the gym for abs, it’s possible that after some time you’ll realize that now you want to KEEP going to the gym because working out makes you feel happy. On the other hand, reflecting on your “why” may help you realize that wanting abs has turned into feeling guilty every time you skip the gym. If your why isn’t serving you,  it’s time to take a step back.

My point is, you’re doing this for you. And with that comes the responsibility to take care of YOU.

plants growing in white pots in window

Don’t be surprised if your physical goals turn into more

Just because you set out on a journey for abs doesn’t mean you should ignore all of the other benefits of working out. You might be surprised to find that some of the other benefits of fitness actually impact you more in the end!

Maybe you weren’t working out consistently before, but now that you’re dedicated to a workout routine, you notice that your stress is WAY down. Or maybe you notice you’re sleeping better than you have in years.

Maybe paying attention to your diet for those abs has also given you the gift of more energy and a better mood.

Maybe, those are things you didn’t even realize you needed.

Even if those were never part of your initial “why,” don’t ignore them! Once you achieve your main goal and your abs are shining through, those other things will keep you motivated. When the physical “challenge” is complete, you’ll always have more to work on if you notice all of the little things. That’s the kind of (healthy) addiction I have found on my fitness journey.

Some tips for staying on track and keeping your goals positive

Here’s my advice if you set out on a physical fitness goal. Actually, it’s pretty much the same advice I’d give for ANY goal.

  1. Start small and make sure your goals are realistic and achievable.
  2. Have a secondary goal. If your goal is abs, also set a smaller goal to workout 3 times per week. Your big goal is going to take awhile, so having smaller ones to build on will keep you motivated!
  3. Don’t be hard on yourself, and remember to celebrate the small wins!
  4. Reflect and reevaluate your “why” constantly.
  5. Find a strong support system.

We’re all on our own journey. Let’s support each other!

Before we jump to conclusions about everyone else’s journey, we need to remember that we’re all on the same team.

Especially in this community! Different things work for different people. Wanting abs may seem shallow to you, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be important to someone else. Just like how some people will never understand how running can feel like anything other than torture.

That’s just the cool thing about fitness. There are options, goals, motivators, and benefits for EVERYONE. All types of people. And we’re all going to start somewhere. That “somewhere” shouldn’t be cause for judgment.

Let’s help each other embrace our own unique “why,” and support each other as we build and grow onto that “why.”

A Quick and Effective At-Home Arm Workout – No Equipment Needed!

By | Arms & Upper Body, Workout Index | 4 Comments

Hey guys!

Have you been back to the gym yet?! I’m still sticking to my home workouts because:

A. I’m just more comfortable with that for now
B. Not sure how I feel about working out in a mask
C. I’ve kiiiiinda fallen in love with working out at home!

But I know home workouts can be a challenge. It’s harder to stay motivated, and it’s still hard to find equipment. Everything is out of stock!

I’ve got an at-home arm workout for ya that solves all of these problems. It’s short and sweet, but you can do it more than one time through if you want! And it’s a bodyweight-only workout, so no dumbbells required!

Oh, and it’s a BURNER.

Here’s how to do it.

1. Oil Riggers x 20 each side

Such a sneaky move!

Having one leg up really gets the arms burning. Oh, and keep those arms pinned at your side to target those triceps :)

Keep your hips square to the ground and dip your chin to the ground. Use your arms to push back up, and repeat!

2. Side Tricep Push Ups x 15 each side

Another tricep burner!

Lay on your side and stack your hips, feet and shoulders. Place your top hand on the floor or mat, directly in front of your shoulder. Your other hand can be wrapped around your torso. Then, just lower yourself to the ground and push up! The arm with a hand on the mat dodes ALL the work.

3. Up Up, Down Downs x 25

This move adds a sneaky dose of core too ;)

Start in plank position. Then, lower down to forearm plank one arm at a time. Push back up one arm at a time.

Try to alternate your starting arms!

WHEW this one definitely gets my heart pumping!

4. Down Dog Push Ups x 12

This might be my favorite home arm workout move because it strengthens AND stretches! It’s another move that sneaks in a little core work too.

Start in downward dog, and then lower down into a pushup. Keep your arms pinned to your sides – try not to flare your elbows! Also, do your best to lower your whole body instead of dumping your weight into your chest. USE THAT CORE!

Then, push back up into downward dog (again, use your core!). Enjoy the brief stretch and repeat!

Dear Cassey: How do I change my diet without counting calories?

By | Dear Cassey | 16 Comments
Dear Cassey,
How do you go about monitoring what you eat without counting calories? I’m very physically fit, but larger than I’d like to be. I never really struggled with my weight until 4 years ago when I started law school. Stress absolutely played a factor. I lost a lot hair and my period cycle changed as well. Now that I am down, my period has finally regulated, and my hair is coming back to life! However, I’m still heavier than I’d like to be. I only need to lose around 10 lbs, but the problem is, most exercises don’t challenge me. I know the change needs to come from food, but counting calories is not realistic for me because it is kind of a trigger that gets me into an unhealthy mindset. What is another way I can monitor my food?
Thank you,
Working On My Best Self

Hey Working On My Best Self!

I LOVE this question! It’s so common to see recommendations to “avoid calorie counting” and “just focus on eating habits” …. but HOW do we actually do that?!

I think it can look a little different for everyone, but I can definitely give you some tips and places to start based on what I’ve learned to do over time. And that brings me to my first piece of advice: don’t be surprised if figuring this out takes TIME! If you’re used to focusing on the numbers to the point of obsession, then looking at your food without actually having concrete “limits” or data will take a little getting used to.

Think about your goals. You said you want to lose around 10 lbs, but you’re also very active and athletic. So I think your meals and portions would be a great place to start! It’s so easy to become fixated on eating less or eating as little as we can as soon as weight loss is in the picture. But you need to make sure you’re fueling your workouts too. Journaling might help you out here. Then, if you’re feeling sluggish during workouts or hungry all the time between meals, you’ll know that you’re probably not eating enough.

Think “big picture” with meals. So, instead of focusing on the numbers, think about how your plate looks. And then think about how your overall day looks! I try to make all of my meals as heavy on the veggies as I can. Then I make sure I have a good serving of protein, then add healthy fat and maybe an extra carb source if my veggies aren’t cutting it.

So let’s say I’m building a bowl. I’ll roast up some veggies and maybe even throw them on some cauliflower rice or zoodles. Then, I’ll add a lean protein, drizzle on a sauce or dressing made with oil or top with avocado slices, seeds etc. I know that when I build my meals this way, it’s going to be

  1. SO FILLING
  2. Full of nutrients
  3. Probably not crazy high in calories

If I eat out or stray away from my usual meals, I don’t sweat it. I just do my best the rest of the day! Basically, I know that as long as the majority of the foods I eat are whole, unprocessed and simple, I’ll be right on track.

And you know what happened when I finally started eating this way? 

  1. I got creative. I stopped eating the same “safe” meals over and over. I started experimenting with different veggies and cooking methods. New seasonings and fun new foods.
  2. I stopped stressing. I didn’t realize how much counting calories was stressing me out! I would feel guilty every time I went “over” my target, and I’d check restaurant menus for calories before I’d go out to eat. The numbers took up so much of my time and energy.
  3. I started paying attention to my body. I think this was a big part of why my 90 Day Journey was so successful. I let go of calorie counting and I started paying attention! Now I know that I’m not avoiding bread because of calorie guilt. I just don’t eat it as often because my body doesn’t digest it well. I’m not craving chips, etc. constantly because I’m not restricting myself to meet a calorie goal. I’m eating to stay full and satisfied.

So. The takeaway.

It’s going to take some time to navigate a diet change without counting calories, but you can totally do it and it will be WORTH IT. I’d start with a journal – write down what you’re meals typically look like, and how you feel before/during/and after you eat. Then, make small adjustments from there! Can you add more veggies and lean protein to your meals to avoid as many cravings or snacks between meals? Are there any processed foods you’re eating that really aren’t serving you? Start small and work from there!

I hope this advice helps!

PS – If you have a burning question you want to ask me, I’m taking questions via text at 510-692-4556. Currently this only works for US and Canada. If you’re outside of those countries, you can leave a question below.

yogurt probiotic gut health

Are Bloating and Weight Issues All Related to Gut Health? This Is What I Learned

By | Diet, Nutrition | 9 Comments

Hey guys!

Bloating. Constipation. Metabolism. Energy. Weight.

Are all of these things influenced by how well we take care of our gut? I keep hearing more and more about gut health, and how it plays a role in all of these things, and MORE (even mental health and immune health).

It seems like scientists are still doing research to understand all of this better, but I’m thinking it could be a really important piece to the puzzle of nutrition and staying healthy.

I have been loooving gastroenterologist Dr. Austin Chiang’s TikTok posts and I’ve learned so much just from watching them. So I decided to reach out and see if he could help me understand a little more about gut health! After speaking with him and doing a little research on my own…I am FASCINATED. There is soo much more to our gut than just digesting what we eat!

Here’s what I learned.

yogurt probiotic gut health

The gut = our “second brain?”

I’ve heard a lot about how our gut acts like our “second brain,” and it can actually affect our immune system, mood and metabolism. Sounds crazy! So I did a little research.

First of all, “gut health” mostly refers to our gut microbiota, which is just the presence and balance of healthy bacteria in our digestive system. Like I said before, the science on all of this is still pretty new, but still really cool.

The “good” bacteria in the gut protects the lining of our intestines and protect against harmful viruses and bacteria. Overall, keeping the balance of bacteria healthy can influence our overall health and help prevent disease. A lot of the research is looking at how good gut health can help prevent obesity, cancer, GI conditions (irritable bowel disease, etc.) and neurological conditions like autism and Alzheimer’s.

As far as mood and metabolism goes…kinda the same thing. Some studies have made connections between gut health and depression, and some suggest that poor gut health could be a factor in inflammation, fat storage and obesity. Fun to read about, but the science isn’t totally solid yet.

When I asked Dr. Chiang about this, he agreed that there needs to be more research. He was actually part of a human trial that “looked at weight loss with fecal transplant from a lean donor, but there was no definitive benefit.”

Of course I asked about bloating!

Even after alllll of my research about bloating, I was still wondering if it’s always a normal thing, or if we need to be concerned about bloating at some point. How much of it can we really control?

According to Dr. Chiang, bloating isn’t usually something to be concerned about, even though it’s SO uncomfortable. However, he did note that “rare instances of something more serious could include intermittent small bowel obstruction or colonic obstruction that warrant further evaluation.” So basically if bloating seems like it’s more than just bloating, probably a good idea to see your doctor.

To control bloating, Dr. Chiang pointed out that “there is a large variation in what kinds of foods may cause bloating.” He mentioned FODMAPs and high-fiber foods here, but also pointed out that just because a food fits these categories, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to make you bloat. He recommends that people with specific conditions like IBS follow a “low FODMAP diet with guided reintroduction. That way, we can better identify what the cause is.”

Basically, he’s saying that everyone is different, and it might take some experimentation to figure out what foods cause bloating for you.

Dr. Chiang also advises that “drinking plenty of water and staying active to promote gut motility is helpful to promote passage of gas.”

He has a couple of fun TikToks on bloating too. Check this one out :) 

@austinchiangmdBloated in the house and in the house bloated? ##bloated♬ original sound – nicoletrimmerr

Annnnnd constipation

Have you ever wondered WHY constipation happens? Do things just get stuck? Ew, but really!

Dr. Chiang had a really good explanation for what’s going on in there when things just aren’t moving well, describing it as “a harder consistency of stool, but it can also refer to problems some people may have with the muscle movement or the gut, or even muscles near the exit.”

To take care of the issue, he said sometimes it’s as easy as things we commonly know about like dietary adjustments, fiber supplements and medications. But he also said that some people actually need pelvic floor physical therapy, or even some kind of procedure to fix the problem!

… and I had to ask about his opinion on “skinny teas”

I think we’ve pretty much established that these teas are bogus, give you diarrhea, and can be dangerous. But I always like to ask the pros what they think.

“Just don’t drink these teas. Laxatives are not a safe or effective way of losing weight and sometimes the laxatives themselves or excessive diarrhea can lead to dangerous electrolyte imbalances.”

So once again… STAY AWAY.

@austinchiangmdDaily reminder that that stuff makes you go. ##FavoriteMemory♬ exile – Taylor Swift

Are probiotics worth the $$$?

So you’ve seen probiotics and prebiotics, and you’ve probably heard about how amazing they are for gut health right? First, let’s talk about the difference:

Probiotics are actual live bacteria that help balance healthy gut bacteria. You can usually find probiotics in foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, tempeh, and kimchi. You can also buy capsules of probiotics.

Prebiotics feed probiotics, helping them flourish in the gut.  They’re found mostly in fruits, veggies, grains and beans.

So is it better to take a probiotic supplement every day for gut health, or should we just make sure we’re eating probiotic foods? I couldn’t really find a clear recommendation for the best probiotic to take as a daily supplement, so I’m still not sure! This TikTok by Dr. Chiang suggests that (as usual), focusing on food is probably the better option for most people.

As always, it’s all about nutrition!

As always, good nutrition is just going to make you feel better and help your body work better overall.

Dr. Chiang agrees, saying “eating food that promotes better overall health may be linked to overall improved mood. Maintaining a generally healthy diet and weight will also optimize your energy level.”

So even if we don’t know all of the details about how gut health is connected to things like disease, inflammation, obesity, mood and metabolism just yet, we DO know that eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and veggies helps with all of these things!

Want to Know More About Dr. Chiang?

Hi! My name is Dr. Austin Chiang, MD MPH. I am a triple board certified gastroenterologist (subspecializing in advanced endoscopy), an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Jefferson Health in Philadelphia, the Director of the Endoscopic Weight Loss Program, and the Chief Medical Social Media Officer for the institution. I graduated from medical school at Columbia University and continued my training in Internal Medicine at Columbia as well before pursuing two fellowships in gastroenterology and bariatric endoscopy at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Harvard Medical School) where I also obtained my Masters in Public Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. I then completed my final year of training as an advanced endoscopy fellow at Jefferson Health where I stayed as faculty.

3-Ingredient Fluffy Cloud Bread Recipe

By | Breakfasts, Recipe Index | 22 Comments

Hey guys!

Have you ever heard of cloud bread?! YES, it’s just as dreamy as it sounds.

I’d heard of cloud bread being popular in the low carb community, but the recipes I usually saw were cheesy and savory (which, I DO love) but then a sweeter, prettier recipe started going viral on TikTok. So, you know me. I had to see what the cloud bread hype was about.

The original and popular TikTok recipe is blue and sweet, just like a cloud! I headed into my own personal test kitchen with the goal of trying to make my own version… and you guys. IT WORKED! You only need 3 ingredients to make this recipe, so what are you waiting for?!

Try this Fluffy Cloud Bread Recipe!

Here are the ingredients:

  • 3 Egg Whites
  • 1 Tbsp Monk Fruit Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Tapioca Flour

Annnd make your fluffy cloud bread!

  1. Whip the egg whites with a whisk or mixer until stiff peaks form.
  2. Add the monk fruit sugar and tapioca and whip for a little longer, until combined.
  3. Grease a lined baking sheet. Dollop large spoonfuls of the egg mixture onto the prepared sheet, forming little “clouds.”
  4. Bake at 300F for 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden.

Breaking them open is my favorite part. Can you believe that fluff?!??

This is a super yummy dessert AND it’s high in protein! You could even serve this cloud bread with fresh berries kind of like a strawberry shortcake. YUMMMM.

If you make this recipe, pleeeeease tag me on Instagram or let me know in the comments! I wanna know what you think! And if this inspires you to try more healthy dessert recipes, I’ve gotcha covered with some of my faves :)

mirror on wall with plant

Dear Cassey: I’m unhappy with how I look, but I have no motivation to change

By | Dear Cassey | 38 Comments
Hi Cassey!
I’m hoping for some advice or maybe just some feedback to help me with understanding my current situation and motivation. I’m overweight, and I always have been. I’m unhappy with how I look, and I hate taking pictures because I’ve totally let myself go (worse than I already was). I’m at my heaviest and know I need to do something about it… but for some reason, I don’t have the motivation. I go to the gym and stop workouts early. I start workout videos and sit on my butt instead of doing the moves. I binge eat even though I know how bad it is for me…. if I’m so unhappy, why am I not more driven to do something about it? Where can I find some motivation? Right now I’m just finding all of the motivational accounts I follow UNmotivating and disheartening, because I see others doing it and putting in the effort, and I’m just not. What’s wrong with me?!
Sincerely, 
Unhappy and Unmotivated 
mirror on wall with plant

Dear Unhappy and Unmotivated,

You know what? I’ve been there. And that’s the beautiful thing about these “Dear Cassey” questions – so many of us can relate, and we can really lean on each other.

Let’s go through this question line by line, because there are lot of important points here.

“I’m unhappy with how I look, and I hate taking pictures”

First of all – if you don’t feel like taking pictures, you don’t have to take pictures. That being said, the bigger issue is your unhappiness with how you look. Reading that makes me so sad, because I know how that feels. Looking in the mirror is hard. Pictures are hard. And you know what? It’s okay to feel a little like that.

However, even if you don’t love the way your body LOOKS, you really need to work on finding things about your body that you do love. Accepting your body is key here. Because your body does sooo much more for you than just how you look! Your body gives you so many skills, talents, and other joys. So go inside and find those little things to appreciate. Take the focus away from the vanity of the way your body looks.

“…for some reason, I don’t have motivation?”

Here you talk about KNOWING you need to change, but the motivation just isn’t there. You go to the gym or start a workout, but don’t actually do the work. Again, I’ve been there. After my bikini competition, I was sooo unmotivated to work out that I would find literally any excuse to procrastinate or skip. I realized I was treating my workouts like punishment.

So if you’re that unmotivated to work out, maybe you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. So, let’s reevaluate your WHY. Forcing yourself to work out solely because you want to look different isn’t going to stick. Your motivation can’t be for anyone else, or because society says your body needs to look different. Your “why” has to be FOR YOU. For me, I know working out just makes me feel good. It gives me energy and makes me happy, which is my “why.” So take some time to dig deep and reallllly think about your why. Write it down and come back to it every time your motivation fades.

“I binge eat even though I know how bad it is for me…”

Okay. Story time.

I remember times when I would stand in the pantry, IN THE DARK, just shoveling cereal and other snacks into my mouth. I was literally in food jail, restricting too much and convincing myself that eating bad foods made me a bad person. That led to bingeing.

It’s an unhealthy cycle and an unhealthy relationship to have with food that we need to break. 

The best thing that helped me was just allowing all foods back into my life, without guilt. I focused on allowing myself to eat things that brought me joy, even if that meant dessert or chips. Over time, I normalized what my body needed. I escaped the cycle of bingeing and now I’m able to eat those foods freely without obsessing or feeling guilty about it. Once you do that, you can really focus on finding what foods make you feel good. That was a big part of my 90 Day Journey! Learning what I enjoyed cooking, how certain foods made me feel, and just how to have fun with food and include the things that bring me joy completely changed my relationship with food.

“I’m just finding all of the motivational accounts I follow UNmotivating…”

If those accounts aren’t serving you, UNFOLLOW.

Seriously. It’s okay! Sometimes seeing people who are absolutely crushing their goals when you’re just not on that level yet is just hard and disheartening. It’s normal to feel jealous about it, and forcing yourself to see it probably isn’t helping. Plus, comparing your own journey to someone else’s isn’t the only way to motivate yourself! So unfollow and come back to those accounts when (or if) you’re ready.

“What’s wrong with me?”

NOTHING. At all.

All of the things you’re going through are normal and your feelings are valid. You need space to try different things. To think. To find your why. TO BREATHE.

For now, focus on:

  • Unfollowing accounts that don’t motivate you
  • Experimenting with food to find what brings you joy and makes you feel good
  • Finding a workout that is FUN for you – try as many as you can!

Once you find your groove, you’re gonna CRUSH IT. I know it!

I hope this advice helps!

If you have any other advice for Unhappy and Unmotivated, leave it in the comments! 

PS – If you have a burning question you want to ask me, I’m taking questions via text at 510-692-4556. Currently this only works for US and Canada. If you’re outside of those countries, you can leave a question below.

What’s Actually Going On In Your Body When You’re Bloated

By | Body Image, Diet, Nutrition | 20 Comments

Hey guys!

You know the feeling. You eat something delicious like pizza, mayyyybe overdo it a bit…and out of nowhere, your stomach feels like a balloon.

OMG I’ve been there so many times.

We’ve talked a lot about what causes bloat and how to avoid it, but are you ever curious about what is ACTUALLY going on in our body when we’re bloated? Well, I did some research for us!

Are you bloated or just full?

YEP, there’s a difference!

It’s so common to throw around phrases like “ugh I feel so bloated” after eating a big meal. But actually, you’re not technically bloated. You might have just eaten too much! Overeating just makes you uncomfortable because your stomach is full. People tend to treat bloating as a symptom of overeating, like it’s something that is SUPPOSED to happen after a meal.

But it’s not!

Bloating is actually a reaction that causes your abdomen to distend or “balloon,” which brings that discomfort we all dread. It’s usually caused by things OTHER than overeating.

@blogilatesIf u learn what foods ur intolerant to, eat less of those foods! You’ll feel better. ##learnontiktok ##bloating ##bloated ##bloatedstomach ##nutrition♬ Wipe It Down – BMW KENNY

You feel like a balloon when you bloat for a reason

And the reason is…. GAS.

Some foods just produce more gas when you eat them. These are usually foods like:

  • Beans
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Cruciferous veggies (like broccoli and cauliflower)
  • Onions
  • Dairy

Sometimes more gas is produced because the bacteria in your intestines that absorb your food are out of whack. It’s totally normal for these bacteria to produce some gas, but they may produce more if you’ve been on antibiotics or if your gut microbiota is just off for other reasons. A food sensitivity can cause this too!

This is why sugar alcohols can make you bloated too. They get to your intestines pretty much undigested, so the bacteria that breaks them down produces more gas!

Something as simple as taking in excess air could cause a buildup of pressure in your tummy too. That happens when you chew gum, eat too fast, or drink through a straw.

Take a closer look if you’re bloated too often!

It’s definitely not normal to feel uncomfortable on a regular basis. If that’s happening, think about some of the foods you’re eating to see if maybe that’s the culprit. It’s also a good idea to talk to your doctor to get it figured out.

Otherwise, I have a whole post on things that can help prevent bloating, and how to tell the difference between bloat and belly fat here!

glass bowl of french fries

Why Do We Naturally Love and Crave “Bad” Food So Much?!

By | Diet, Nutrition | 31 Comments

Cheese.

Fries.

Ice cream.

Pizza.

OMG are you drooling too?! Why are these foods sooooo appealing even though they don’t give us very much nutrition? What is it about creamy, crunchy, sweet, and sometimes even greasy food that is so comforting? Why do we crave the foods that just make us feel gross and sleepy after we eat them?

As you know, I’ve been obsessed with learning the WHY about things so that I can better understand how our brains and bodies work. And just to clarify – don’t ever feel guilty for eating these foods! I’ve just always been curious why we naturally will get more excited about pizza instead of say, kale 😂  Sooo, this is what I found on why these “bad” foods are so tempting!

glass bowl of french fries

Fat is satisfying! 

Pretty much any type of comfort food, dessert, fried food, etc. is pretty high in fat.

And fat is satisfying.

It’s calorie-dense and makes you feel full. Then, it takes longer to digest so it helps to KEEP you full. It adds a creamy, thick texture to food, and you can’t deny that fat also gives food a ton of flavor! All of these things combined = satisfaction.

HOWEVER. You can get the same satisfaction with healthy fats like avocado and olive or coconut oil. Next time you’re tempted to pile some cheese on your burrito bowl, try avocado instead. It’s surprising just as satisfying and avocado gives you sooo much more in terms of nutrition!

chopped sweet chocolate pieces

Sugar makes you happy 

We’ve discussed this before, but your brain really tends to like sugar. When you eat sugar, your brain literally treats it like a reward and releases a dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel happy.

I guess that’s why it’s so common to crave sweets!

Even though it’s totally fine to give into your sweet cravings every now and then, you can also use fruit in a lot of different ways to add some sweetness to your favorite meals if you’re looking for a nutritional boost.

wooden spoon filled with salt

Salt and sugar = FLAVOR! 

Bland food is boring food.

But food with intense flavor, many times thanks to sugar or salt, is DELICIOUS. Combine that with the extra flavor thanks to fat, and whooaaa your taste buds are excited! Food that is bursting with flavor is just harder to put down. Plus, the memory of that flavor is a serious trigger for cravings.

If your healthy food isn’t cutting it flavorwise, it’s time to experiment with some spices! My favorites are paprika, chili powder and pretty much any Trader Joe’s seasoning. Yum.

Texture is important too! 

It’s not all about flavor.

Texture is a big factor when it comes to how much we enjoy a food. I mean, think about it. You might hate the stringy texture of something like celery, which makes it really hard to enjoy. On the other hand, maybe you literally crave the texture of warm, melty cheese or a velvety soup.

It also depends on our mood sometimes! There’s just something about a smooth, creamy texture that feels more soothing and comforting. If you’re feeling cozy or you need a little comfort, you might be more likely to crave those types of foods.

If you’re stressed or angry, crunchy foods like chips might be your go-to. Chewing on these foods is actually a form of stress relief for some people!

Drop the mindset that any food is actually “bad”

Unless it’s literally poison, obviously 😉

Yes, some foods give us more nutrition than others. But that doesn’t mean those other foods can’t benefit us in other ways. Food is an important part of our mental health too :) Eating the foods you truly enjoy is just as important as learning how to enjoy healthy foods!

What are some “bad” foods that you crave the most? Tell me in the comments! 

heart shaped pepperoni pizza on white background

Dear Cassey: It’s so hard to be healthy around other people

By | Dear Cassey | 19 Comments
Hey Cassey,
I’ve noticed that I am only able to work out and eat healthy when I am by myself. As soon as I spend a couple of days with my boyfriend or my family I return to bad habits from the past and it gets even harder to start again when I’m alone. How do I change that? I feel like especially with my bf, food has become part of our love language and we constantly treat each other to sweets or fast food. I worry that once we live together I will just stop my fitness journey altogether.
Food Is The Way To My Heart
heart shaped pepperoni pizza on white background

Hey Food Is The Way To My Heart,

I love this question!

It’s really easy to get into the habit of treating food like something that needs to be controlled or even like the enemy. But you know what? Food is also an EXPERIENCE. It’s used for celebration and for comfort. A lot of times, it’s even tied to specific memories we have. Keeping that in mind, try not to feel guilty or like you’re “failing” because you indulge a little when you’re with your loved ones. You’re not necessarily sabotaging your goals just because you choose to enjoy food with your family or boyfriend.

If you feel like it’s happening a little more often than you’d like, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What does your diet look like overall?
  • When you “return to bad habits,” can you physically tell a difference (like you feel more energetic, sleep better, etc.), or do you just feel guilty?

I just think it’s easy to focus on the things we’re doing “wrong,” and totally forget to acknowledge the things we’re doing well! Zooming out and looking at your diet overall might help you see that your diet IS healthy most of the time. And that’s what we want! If it’s not, then zooming out will also make it easier to see where you can make small changes.

But what small changes? Instead of avoiding social situations or completely turning down foods that make you happy, find ways to compromise your love language for food with your healthy goals. It could be as simple as still going out for pizza with your fam but ordering a big salad first.

Here are some other things you could try:

Cook together.

If you want to make food gifting a little more special or based on occasion, you can still fulfill your food as your love language with your boyfriend the rest of the time – maybe with cooking! Get in the kitchen together. Experiment and have fun! If you’re both foodies, then you’re bound to enjoy time in the kitchen. You can recreate simple versions of your favorite meals and treats, or maybe even come up with some new faves. I love doing this when I crave dessert because I can make a smaller portion that perfectly satisfies my craving!

Sometimes it could be more about acts of service.

Maybe part of your love language isn’t literally about the food. Maybe picking up some fast food or something sweet is more about the act. On a busy or stressful day, cooking might not sound very appealing. Your boyfriend or family showing up with food or saying “hey, wanna go out to eat?,” might be EXACTLY what you need to feel taken care of. If that could be the case, that could be a good convo to have with your boyfriend for the future.

Get your goals in check.

Basically, make sure your goals are sustainable! Sometimes, craving or obsessing over “bad” foods is just a sign of too much restriction. Don’t deprive yourself or restrict yourself too much. You want to find the perfect balance and plan that works for you that doesn’t leave you feeling like you’re missing out.

Of course, remember that communication is key.

Sam and I eat completely differently, and our goals are different. But he knows why my eating habits are important to me and he shows his support in little ways like ordering my favorite salad or always trying my healthy recipe experiments ;) Do I sometimes indulge in his favorite foods? OF COURSE. But he knows I feel better if I don’t do it all the time.

Hopefully, this gives you something to think about so you can stick to your goals without sacrificing food as your love language! It’s difficult to balance for sure, but you can do it!!!

PS – If you have a burning question you want to ask me, I’m taking questions via text at 510-692-4556. Currently this only works for US and Canada. If you’re outside of those countries, you can leave a question below.

blogilates 90 day meal plan e-book cover

The Official 90 Day Journey Meal Plan

By | 90 day Journey, Best Of | 55 Comments

It was never just about the weight loss.

I took this photo 4 years ago. During this time in my life, I was dealing with a lot of internal turmoil, untrustworthy people who I let suck the happiness out of my life, and toxic situations that made me question if I was even meant to be doing what I was doing. There were so many times I wanted to quit everything, move away, and just give up. I was so lost. Sometimes I would walk into my own office and have a hard time breathing because I felt so judged. My heart would even beat out of rhythm. The intangible had become tangible, and I was letting it break me down.

Some people will look at my before and after and judge it as a weight loss transformation, which yeah, it is – on the most superficial level. But that extra fat on my body was a metaphor for the extra negativity literally weighing down my body and my life. What you don’t see is how my entire life has changed for the better, from that picture on the left to the picture on the right.

Embarking on my 90 Day Journey was the best thing I ever did for myself. It was hard. But hard was exactly what I needed to undo everything that had messed me up so badly. I made a promise to myself to get in the best shape of my life mentally and physically, and I gave myself the time and grace I needed to do it properly. Through feeding my body for the right reasons (instead of using food to fill empty emotional voids to no avail) and through finding joy through fitness again (at that point in my life fitness was work and work was not a happy place) – I was able to find myself again. My 90 Day Journey helped me rediscover my purpose and my happiness, and I am literally the most confident I have EVER been in my entire life, right now.

I want to make one thing clear though. I didn’t lose weight to be happy. It was because I was happy throughout my journey, that I was able to lose the weight.

My 90 Day Journey has positively impacted so many different areas of my life that I didn’t know could be impacted by health and fitness. It’s been SO COOL. And the effects are long lasting. It’s been over a year now, and I’m stronger, more creative, more energetic, so much sharper, so much more confident and so much happier than I have ever been in my entire life! It’s actually crazy!!! But it’s real.

I genuinely want you to experience the magic of your own journey. No, it won’t look exactly like mine. But I’m hoping that the details of my experience will guide you to experience a newfound joy and confidence just like I have.

To make this happen, I worked with my Registered Dietitian, Breanna Woods. For the past several months, we analyzed every note in my journal, every experience I had, and combined it with her expertise to create an Official 90 Day Meal Plan.

And you guys, it’s a meal plan like no other.

blogilates 90 day meal plan e-book cover

The Ultimate 90 Day Journey Meal Plan

Food was a HUGE HUGE part of my journey. I journaled everything I ate and how I felt mentally and physically every single day. What I learned was truly priceless and it’s the reason why the changes I made STUCK. They’re here for good.

Based on your dietary preference, Breanna Woods, RD and I have written 4 different meals plans for you to choose from!

All plans include delicious recipes that are:

  • Grain free
  • Dairy free
  • Added sugar free

I avoided these foods during my own journey for personal reasons (basically, they just don’t agree well with me – more detail on that in the meal plan!) BUT, this will also give you a strong foundation for bloat-free, anti-inflammatory eating.

blogilates omnivore pescatarian vegetarian vegan meal plan

The Goals

I want to help you learn how you fuel your body. I want to give you a foundation for eating whole, nutritious foods that will energize you while eliminating digestive issues and inflammation. I want to give you flexibility and the opportunity to LEARN about yourself so you can make changes that will stick too. I want you to feel your best, FOR LIFE.

My goals for this meal plan don’t revolve around weight loss. Can you use this as a tool to lose weight? Absolutely, if that is YOUR goal. This meal plan is NOT a quick fix or a crash diet.

These were my priorities as we built this plan:

  • To keep you satisfied
  • To diminish your cravings
  • To give you more energy
  • To decrease bloat
  • To shed the excess weight
  • To nourish you with recipes that seriously taste good
  • To teach you how to enjoy healthy cooking and healthy eating
  • To stop crash dieting once and for all
  • To create sustainable and enjoyable eating habits FOR GOOD
blogilates 90 day journey meal plan

It’s so much more than just a meal plan

We’re giving you EVERYTHING you need. With this meal plan, you’ll get:

  • A plan for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks everyday for for 90 days
  • Recipes that are easy for ANY cooking level, using simple, easy-to-find ingredients
  • Weekly grocery lists for 90 days (to take with you to the store)
  • A weekly meal overview for 90 days (great to print out and stick on your fridge)
  • A breakdown of nutrition for each meal and each day

And possibly my favorite part of the whole plan – A VERY in-depth guide for choosing the BEST plan for you, based on YOUR goals. This guide talks about how to calculate your needs, the importance of other factors like sleep, water, and stress maintenance, how to use your 90 Day Journal and the Workout Calendars in conjunction with this meal plan, and other tips to achieve the life-changing, joyous success you’re looking for.

cassey ho blogilates spiralized zucchini noodles on a plate and cutting board

You can customize your plan for YOUR needs

I really REALLY hate meal plans that encourage a one-size-fits-all diet. Breanna agrees, so we made sure this meal plan was FULLY CUSTOMIZABLE.

We created a detailed guide to pick the best plans for your needs, based on your goals and activity level. Yes, there’s some math required but I promise it’s easy!

The meal plan also guides you to journal EVERYTHING and to make adjustments as needed. The 90 Day Journal is the perfect companion to the meal plan.

We NEVER want you to feel deprived or restricted. You have the freedom to make as many changes as you need.

bowls of healthy food zoodles banana oatmeal berries carrots meal prep pad

I want you to experiment

You know when you spend money on something that ends up just not working for you? HOW ANNOYING. This won’t happen here. I finally learned after years and years of meal plans and diets that anything that claims one plan will work for everyone…is WRONG. So with this plan, you have endless options to experiment and adjust.

You’ll have access to 3 different activity level meal plans in your purchase. This means you have the ability to use this meal plan in whatever way works for YOU. Don’t want to commit to 90 day? Just start with the 30 Day Sampler Plan ;)

Experimentation is KEY for your journey, so switch as much as you need!

90 day meal plan banana pancakes stacked on a white plate topped with blueberries

OMG the food is SO GOOD

I am not about to recommend ANY recipe that doesn’t taste good, no matter how healthy it is! I love food wayyy too much to do that.

All of the recipes in this e-book have one very important thing in common: FLAVOR.

🥕 THEY TASTE GOOD.

🥕 THEY WILL ACTUALLY SATISFY YOU.

🥕 THEY ARE PRETTY.

Oh, and every single recipe is suuuuuuper easy to adjust if there’s an ingredient or two that you don’t love. That’s the beauty of simple recipes made with whole foods! YAY!

cassey ho blogilates purple workout outfit

Get ready to change your life

If you’re tired of seeing WHAT to do with little to no guidance on HOW to do it, this is for you.

If you’re sick of feeling discouraged when you look at a meal plan because it’s too hard to “stick” to, this is for you.

Over the next 90 days, you’re going dig deep and really get to know yourself. You’re going to learn about your body like never before. And you’re going to make changes that last for life.

Are you ready?!?!!! WELL I AM READY FOR YOU!!!

GO GET STARTED ON YOUR JOURNEY!

The Blogilates September 2020 Workout Calendar!

By | Calendar | 85 Comments

Hey guys!

August was SO CRAZY around here. We released the BODY By Blogilates app, launched the new POPFLEX Terrain 2.0 and Tie-Dye collections, and we’ve been wrapping up the official 90 Day Meal Plan!

WHEW. So many exciting things!

Anyways, how was the first month with my new app?! I hope it kept you motivated and pushing yourself like never before. We’re constantly in the process of working to improve and add more features for you, so it’s only going to get better!! If you haven’t tried it yet, go download it for Apple or Android devices!

Also, we’ve done some MAJOR changes to BODY by Blogilates – make sure you click the “update” button in your app store to get these changes! Here’s the latest:

  • Added possibility to see other calendar days
  • Added change/forgot password option
  • Added navigation through your challenge days
  • Added Notes from Cassey to your challenge workouts
  • Added search in the workout library
  • Lots of cosmetic improvement

SO. Are you ready for the September Workout Calendar?!?!  

Check the Blogilates Youtube playlists to find all of the videos you need for this month’s calendar!!

OR you can download the BODY by Blogilates app, where you can snag the monthly calendar and all of the videos in one place :)

Here’s an overview of each day of the September Workout Calendar. Basically, we’re gonna zone in on a different muscle group every day!

SUNDAY: Abs & Obliques
MONDAY: Total Body
TUESDAY: Butt
WEDNESDAY: Cardio
THURSDAY: Upper Body
FRIDAY: Stretch & Recovery
SATURDAY: Legs & Thighs

Do each video once (unless otherwise stated) and check off as you go! Each day will be around 45 min of exercise. And YES we’ll still have a new video every Monday! Woohoo!!

REMEMBER! You can also download the new app to have the calendar and workout videos in one place…to make life a little easier :)

If you’re just getting started or want to ease into working out, my Beginner’s Calendar is a great place to start! It’s a free 4-week program to get you stronger so that you can join in on the monthlies when you are ready.

I have a feeling that September is going to be super exciting… and super sweaty ;)

Yes, Women Carry Weight Differently Than Men – Here’s the Amazing Reason Why

By | Diet, Nutrition | 27 Comments

Hey guys!

Losing weight – especially body fat – is HARD.

And I think we can totally agree that it often seems so much harder for women than it is for men! What’s up with that?! Why is the female body more stubborn when it comes to losing fat?!

It’s even more frustrating because at the same time, we’ve been programmed by the media and diet culture to resent our curves. Even the word “fat” leaves a bad taste in our mouths. We’re told it’s unhealthy and unattractive. We’re ashamed of cellulite and every single roll or dimple.

But let’s stop and take a second to think about why women carry weight differently than men. I mean, there must be a reason WHY, right?

Finding the perfect jeans to fit our curves may never be easy. But can we learn and appreciate the nature behind those curves a little more?!!!

I think so. Let’s talk about it.

Yes, it’s normal for women to have more fat than men

It’s true that women tend to have a higher body fat percentage than men. The difference might surprise you! Here’s how the recommendations for body fat differ, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE):

Women Men
Essential Fat 10 – 13% 2 – 5%
Athlete 14 – 20% 6 – 13%
Fitness 21 – 24% 14 – 17%
Acceptable 25 – 31% 18 – 24%
Obesity >32% >25%

I mean, just look at the ESSENTIAL category. This just shows how much more fat women NEED in order to function properly.

It’s all about reproduction

Women need more fat to support the reproductive process. Plain and simple.

It’s pretty amazing when you really think about it!

It takes A LOT of fat to support a healthy pregnancy. I mean, you’re growing a human, and the most important nutrient to develop one of the most important body parts – the brain – is FAT. So yeah, of course our bodies are stingy about getting rid of fat so we can make sure we have enough for a baby, even if a baby isn’t on the radar.

If our diet is too restrictive, our reproductive system literally stops working.  Our period stops. Our hormones are all over the place. It takes a serious toll on our bodies. It’s actually a very real, scary thing for young, female athletes who are exercising intensely with very low body fat. The long-term risks? Psychological issues, reproductive issues down the road and most commonly – low bone density, leading to osteoporosis and bone fractures.

female body silhouette curves

Curves are there for a reason

Women store fat differently than men too! Most of the time, women tend to store more fat in their hips and thighs. Men store extra fat mostly in the abdomen.

First, women just have more adipocytes (fat cells) in their hips and thighs. It goes back to the childbearing thing. We need more fat, and that’s just where our body wants to store it. The rest is pretty much hormonal. Having more estrogen causes more weight gain in this area of the body, whereas men have higher testosterone, which usually leads to weight gain in the belly area.

It’s so much more interesting when we think about this all scientifically, right?! Our bodies are miraculous machines and it’s doing its thing to keep us functioning as efficiently as possible!

Fat ≠ Unhealthy

Fat does not mean unhealthy.

Actually, the right amount of fat is VERY healthy. It gives us energy, it releases hormones to regulate hunger and inflammation, and it’s good for the skin, joints and organs.

And the right amount for women is never going to be the same as it is for men. In fact, it’s never going to be identical from person to person. Healthy looks different for everyone but knowing the science behind why helps us understand how to love and appreciate our bodies so much more.