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It's a new year which means a fresh start!  A clean slate!  An opportunity to kick into gear and make some healthy changes!

Friends, we are right there with you.  We aspire to hit the "reset" button after indulging over the holidays. We've polished off the bourbon laced fruitcake, chucked the last bits of peppermint bark into the bin and dusted off our running shoes.  It's time to work towards establishing a routine again with clear goals and  discipline.

In review of our plans for the first quarter of 2020, we've been closely following trends in diets, fitness innovations and scientific studies that feature topics like intermittent fasting and the impact of inflammation on the human body.  As the author of this blog, I'll candidly share that I'm age 43 and my goal is to take a pitch fork and stab my hibernating, dreadfully lazy and utterly insubordinate metabolism straight between the eyes.  "Wake up, you JERK, and get to it."  To accomplish this, I'm employing three test strategies to see if I can boost energy and shed a few pounds while not depriving myself to the point where I have a meltdown.  Take delicious meals away and stock my pantry with tasteless protein bars and blah protein shakes, and just you watch what happens.  Tell me I can never again have this or that, and I'm seconds away from throwing an adult temper tantrum which is never very becoming, is it?

So here is my three-prong personal plan, and of course I shall add a disclaimer now that I am not a dietician, nor am I a medical professional.  I'm not here to advise you about anything besides how delicious biltong is.  But I'm willing to share my plan with anyone who's interested.  


1 - FAST.  Five days a week, I'm doing intermittent fasting whereby I consume all calories within an 8-10 hour window (preferably 8).  I've done this for a week now and I do feel more energetic, oddly enough, and most importantly it forces me to be strategic about WHEN I consume something.  If I'm meeting friends at 7pm for a dinner out, I plan to fast most of the next morning and into the early afternoon the following day.  Why does this help?  Because that idea of having a shared dessert at 8:30pm or one more glass of wine at 9pm really makes you mindful.  Is it worth it, I ask myself, to have this now if it means I'll have to push my awake fasting hours to 1pm the next day?  It's easy to fast when you're asleep, dreaming of sugar plum fairies.  But if you start your day around 7am, like I do, that's a long stretch of drinking water and zero calorie teas, especially if you hope to fit in a morning workout.  The bottom line is that this does force you to be strategic and I'll also add that while I'm not really restricting myself on what I can and can't have during my non-fasting period, you'd be surprised at how you can't really go hog-wild in eight hours.  Your stomach naturally shrinks a bit and perhaps there is a psychology there that after working so diligently to stick to the fast, why not reward yourself with something wholesome and nutritious.  In other words, I don't find myself ordering cheeseburgers and hot fudge sundaes and I'm not on an 8-hour marathon to stuff my face with as much food as possible during the hours when I am able to consume calories.  Curiously, this seems to be working for me and astonishingly, I have yet to undermine myself like I normally do with new diets.  Like the time I joined Weight Watchers one day and then elected to plan a whole fondue dinner for that evening, complete with the cheese course, meat course and heavenly melted chocolate situation at the end.  Yeah, here's what I think of your stupid points system, WW.  Or the time I started a cleanse days before going on a girls trip to New Orleans, where cocktails flow freely and bananas foster and beignets are 100% required dietary staples.

2 - BUILD STRENGTH.  I've decided to focus on strength and energy, as opposed to weight loss.  Why?  Because I'm that girl who sits on the spin bike at the gym hating every last second of the entire 45-minutes (that's 2,700 seconds to hate, which is a lot) if I'm doing it in an effort to lose weight.  I'm the liar-liar-padded-pants-on-fire spinner that pretends to turn up the resistance when I'm actually moving the dial one millimeter to the right, at most, when the hyper, amped-up instructor says we are now climbing an imaginary hill.  I'm always thinking to myself, "why in God's green Earth would we invent a hill for ourselves when we could just stay on flat land?"  Overachievers ruin everything for the rest of us.  They suck.  Anyway, the only way for me to change this attitude problem is to refocus my mind on strength, not weight.  So for Christmas this year, I ordered the Tonal.  I told my husband it was a gift for him but it's more like one of those gifts you really wanted for yourself.  It just sounds far less selfish and makes you look like a thoughtful, loving hero of a wife to make it all about your spouse instead.  Now installing the Tonal isn't exactly a cake walk since the thing attaches to a wall and has to be professionally set up.  I've spent at least an hour attempting to complete Tonal's "Installation Survey" which asks questions about wall construction, stud materials and other things that, for the life of me, I don't know anything about.  Do I look like I build houses?  Do I look like I'm the proud owner of a stud finder?  Do I look like I even know what that is?!  While we wait for a team of nerdball engineers to stick the thing to the wall, I am making an effort to practice yoga every day.  Even if I only squeeze in a half an hour of a Vinyasa practice, I feel stronger and my mind calmer, and I'm proud of myself for at least showing up to the mat.  Add a long walk or hike with friends once a week and I feel like I'm on a decent path to increased physical activity on a consistent basis.  If you're a triathlete (overachiever!), good for you and I'm sure my fitness plan sounds incredibly lackluster.  I'm also sure my feet are way prettier than yours, so take that. 

3 - P&P: PLANTS AND PROTEIN.  I never agreed to a restrictive diet, as I've established already.  But I have made a little side deal with myself that while I get to enjoy delicious foods, I will make a concerted effort to load every plate with limitless vegetables and I will enjoy moderate amounts of lean protein.  I know so many people who are having success with the Keto diet, but I personally struggle to count calories or grams of macronutrients.  I can't even be trusted to count Weight Watcher points, clearly, so it's easiest for me to loosely follow a meal plan that mostly focuses on how much nutrition I'm putting into my body, and I do that by loading up on colorful organic fruits and vegetables.  I'm also a carnivore, as much as I wish I could pursue a vegan lifestyle like my sibling.  Let's just say standing between this Texas girl and a table at Bob's Steak and Chop House is a dangerous place to be.  It's like when you're on Safari and they explain that you never want to be the schmuck caught between a hippo and a body of water, or a baby elephant and his protective 8,000 pound mama.  And of course biltong is one of my all time favorite "grab n go" protein snacks on the planet - lean steak with no sugar, carbs or artificial additives.  I also had a dietician once tell me that if you absolutely have to have a glass of wine, that is your carb for that meal.  I find that many instances arise where I absolutely have to have one, or I shall perish.  Like a plant without water, I'll wilt and wither up and die.  Fine, be my carb, you beautiful glass of cab.  This I can live with.  I'll take wine over a slice of bread any day.  In summary, I'm doing my best to honor the foodie within me while making better choices more often than not, and I'm focusing my grocery spending on the produce section of the store.

Well there you have it.  My personal plan to start 2020 off on the right foot.  Will you be seeing me walk the catwalk at the next Victoria's Secret show?  Nope.  Am I going to flaunt my bod in a string bikini come summertime?  That's a no too.  Am I going to be on the cover of a fitness magazine?  Nay.  Do I think I inspired you in any way with my little plan?  I doubt it, though I imagine some of what I shared is at least relatable.  But I am building strength, good habits and a healthy mentality when it comes to taking care of my physical self, so I will give myself a gold star right here and now for at least that.

Here is a link to Tonal, if you're curious.  Once the rocket scientists install it, I'll publish a follow-up entry on what it's like to actually use it.

Signing off for now, friends, and wishing you a wonderful and prosperous 2020!

The Biltong Baroness

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