About Me 2.0 – or – Why am I still blogging?

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

When I started this blog, I was a full time graduate student and was working full time while trying to find balance.  I found that focusing on my fitness and health was the best way to take care of myself during stressful times.  It caused me to create set aside time for self care, whether that was an hour workout or hiking on my (very limited) days off.  I also began learning a ton about nutrition and eating well, which was partly inspired by the heath conscious, farm-to-table values of the city I had just moved to.  Taking the time to focus on my physical health had an incredible effect on my mental health.  When I moved to Portland, I was overweight, anxious and depressed – and I was furthering my education in a field that could perpetuate those problems if I wasn’t consciously looking for ways to combat them.  By the time I finished graduate school in February 2014, I was no longer experiencing depression or anxiety, I was 35 pounds lighter, and I was training for my first marathon!

As I began to change my habits, people started noticing and asked what I was doing.  I started sharing my meals on Instagram and Facebook and told people about new ingredients I was trying.  I would post about when I would squeeze in a workout during an extremely long day.  With the desire to talk more about what I was learning and cooking, I started this blog.  I wanted to show that even though I was swamped with school work and trying to make ends meet financially, I was still able to change my eating and focus on my physical health.  I also wanted to promote a healthy lifestyle as a way to improve mental health.

scottileona.com3

So, now I am done with school.  I work that regular 9-5 and don’t have tons of school work to do when I get home each day.  I have thought about whether the original intent of this blog is still relevant with my new way of life and whether I am still a busy girl getting fit.  After some thought, I have ultimately decided that yes, it is still relevant.  My work is stressful, my days still feel hectic and are often longer than 8 hours.  I am still really busy outside of work too, maintaining my relationship with my partner, family and friends, and finding time to take care of myself.  I am still striving to improve my health and become to best version of me in all areas.  I am still not rolling in the dough so I need health and wellness to fit within a budget.  I am nowhere near perfect.  I eat cupcakes when they are delivered to my work.  I drink lots of wine when hanging out with my girlfriends and some Fridays, Nick and I are just too exhausted to do anything for dinner except order a pizza.  I want fitness, health and wellness to fit into a realistic, “everyday person’s” lifestyle.  And I want to talk about how that can be possible.

In 2015, I am re-committing to this blog and I hope to learn as much as I can about the art of blogging to bring you better posts about recipes and wellness tips.  To start off, I am completing the Blogging 101 training hosted by WordPress (I am already behind on assignments – typical for my learning style!  I’ll always be a procrastinator!).  This year, you will find more posts with:

  • Recipes
  • Tips and tricks on preparing healthy meals for yourself and your family
  • Ways to fit fitness into your everyday life
  • Suggestions on how to create overall balance in your life so you always feel fulfilled
  • Plus some recaps of our adventures in the Pacific Northwest and beyond 🙂

Perfectly imperfect.scottileona.com

I look forward to meeting more people who are interested in similar topics, so please reach out!  My email is scottileona@gmail.com 🙂

Advertisements

My Journey to Healthy and Happy, Part 1

IMG_8676

As I sit in my apartment in Portland, roasting Kabocha squash and cooking quinoa, watching silly TV, and thinking about the details of the marathon I am running in 2 days, I can’t help but reflect on how much my life has changed in the last 4 years.

I had started my career in social work by working and volunteering throughout college and felt I was so lucky to have found a field of work I was passionate about.  What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was the emotional and physical toll I was putting on myself by simply doing too much for others.  I poured myself into my work and left little space for me.  On top of that, I was living in an expensive city and had to work two jobs after college to cover rent.  This left me a depressed, confused, and anxious young lady, not to mention the extra weight I had gained.  When Nick and I moved to Portland, we knew things had to be different in order for both of us to sustain our health and well-being while I attended graduate school for social work and public health.

IMG_8696

We took the opportunity of a new city and the unknown world we were entering to make some big life changes.  After a stressful couple of years, we took a step back and realized we had neglected ourselves, which greatly impacted our health and our relationship.  We had each put on at least 35 pounds and were no longer comfortable in our own skin.  We didn’t know that much about nutrition, but Nick had the Beachbody programs p90x and Insanity.  He did p90x for a while, got into the habit of exercising regularly and started to see some results.  He then started Insanity and I will never forget the day he told me I should start with p90x because he thought Insanity was too intense for me!  I’m the type of person who takes the doubts of others as motivation, so I immediately processed his advice as a challenge.

I started doing p90x work outs and slowly learning about purchasing whole foods and preparing food at home as much as possible.  At first the progress and my focus was slow.  By the summer of 2011, Nick and I were getting the hang of Portland life and I decided to go all in with my health and fitness.  I started Insanity and tried Shakeology for the first time.  I quickly realized how amazing I felt when I spent an hour a day doing something that was only for me.  Not only was I feeling stronger and so accomplished after each work out, but all those extra pounds I had acquired were coming off.  I replaced one meal a day with Shakeology and continued to learn about nutrition and clean eating.  I also started connecting with people who were also doing Beachbody programs and found myself as part of a community FULL of positive people who have the same passion for healthy and learning how to live their best life possible.

860440_161950390622535_230954353_o

As I continued through graduate school, I continued to incorporate exercise and healthy eating in my everyday life.  I’m not going to lie, it was tough.  I was working on two Master’s degrees, completing internships for school, AND working full time.  To fit this all in, I had work, school, or internships every day of the week.  There was a time when I would take a vacation day from work so I would get ONE day off in a month.  During my third and final year of grad school, I was working nights on top of completing school.  It was an absurd and unsustainable schedule, but I had to make it work.  In order to keep myself sane and healthy, I kept working out and learning about healthy eating and included those two things in my schedule just like I would a class or work.  I would find those couple of hours that were free each day to squeeze in a work out, cook, and pack meals to bring to work and school.  I kept at it because I could see and feel what exercise and healthy eating was doing not only for my body, but for my mind too!

Since the start of my journey to health and happiness, I have lost 35 pounds.  I have learned SO much about food and nutrition and I am no longer intimidated by farmer’s markets or the unfamiliar foods I may get in my CSA box.  I also don’t feel lost around a yoga mat, a set of dumbbells, or a stability ball.  I have run 8 half marathons and am a few days from completing my first full marathon.  I have been able to tackle longer and longer distances in my running because of the confidence that I have gained by completing work out programs like p90x and Insanity.  I have gained confidence in my body’s ability to endure and take great comfort in the community I have surrounded myself with that supports me wholeheartedly in reaching these goals.  I have literally watched muscles appear on my body.  This confidence transfers into other areas of my life as well, allowing me to feel more comfortable taking risks and making tough decisions at work.  Most importantly, I have learned how to balance my extremely hectic work life with time for myself.  I spend an hour every morning focusing on both my physical and mental strength and when I eat well, I know I am appreciating myself and my body.

Image-1-1

And I have done all of this from the comfort of my own home.  Nick and I now have an arsenal of work out programs and have been steadily building our home gym equipment, despite the tiny size of our apartment!  During the times when we were flat broke and could never have afforded gym memberships, having the option to purchase a complete work out program that we could use over and over again was amazing.  I still love working out at home.  My morning commute from bed to “the gym” is about 15 seconds, leaving zero room for excuses when I’m not feeling up for it.

What started as a challenge to complete that intense program from the infomercials has led to a whole new lifestyle for my partner and me.  We focus on our health, focus on time together and on creating balance between work and our other interests.  I am in a much better state of mind and can recognize when I need to take a break from the city or work life and get to the mountains.  It’s been a difficult, eye-opening, and rewarding journey that I still only see in the beginning stages.  I continue to strive to learn more, love more, and push myself farther.  Thank you to all of you who support me and join me in my journey to happy and healthy ❤

Find Time, Make Time

photo-4

I am often asked how I find time to exercise and prepare and eat healthy foods while I juggle full time work and full time graduate school, which includes 30+ hours/week of work, 16 hours/week of field placement and about 7-10 hours of classroom time (not including reading and homework time!).  My schedule is jam packed, and there is usually at least 1 day per week where I am out of my house for 12+ hours.  Yet, I still make time to exercise 30-90 minutes 4-6 days each week and eat clean and healthy foods.  You may be thinking I am crazy, but I believe you are totally capable of taking care of your body through exercise and nutrition no matter how busy your life gets!

Here are some of the key tactics I use to stay on track!

  • photo-8Make Your Health a Priority:  Just like I make sure I go to class, show up to work on time, and pay my bills, I make exercise and healthy eating a priority in my daily life.  Since making my health a priority, both working out and nutrition have become part of my regular routine and I find myself including them while I prepare my schedule for the upcoming days and weeks.
  • photo-5
  • Plan Ahead: I have a planner where I write down things like all my appointments, classes, assignment deadlines, and when bills are due.  Because I have made exercise a priority, I also find holes where I can schedule a work out.  I check my planner regularly throughout the day, and find it most important to take a look at it in the evening to get an idea of what the following day will bring.  If I know what I have planned for the following day, I can gather the belongings I’ll need, including work out clothes and whatever meals will happen while I’m away from home.
  • photo-7Prepare and Pack Your Meals:  In general, I usually make recipes that feed at least 4 people even though I am only cooking for 2.  This way, there are always left overs that my partner and I can grab over the next couple of days for lunch or dinner, depending on our schedules.  By planning ahead and having an idea of how long my day will be, I know which meals and how many/what kind of snacks to pack.  Many folks in the fitness community prep their meals for the entire week on Sunday or Monday, filling their fridge with containers ready to grab and go each day.  This is an amazing idea that I plan to play around with.  For now, I get a mental idea of what I’ll need the following day and prep a container of dinner, if needed.  Then in the morning, I blend up my Shakeology for lunch and pack snacks.  If the morning is going to be really rushed, I prepare overnight oats the previous night so I can quickly grab breakfast too!  Packing meals is one of the most important ways to make sure I eat healthy all day, saving time, money and calories!
  • photo-6Simplify Your Nutrition:  Keeping my kitchen stocked with whole foods makes it so the only option I have to grab is healthy!  I have figured out my favorite healthy foods, making packing snacks and preparing meals quick when I am short on time.  Of course, I love to experiment with new recipes and try new foods, but in the midst of a packed week, I rely on my tried and trues to keep my lunch box full and my body satisfied.  My go-to snacks include: carrots & raw broccoli with hummus, a piece of fruit with low-fat organic string cheese, Greek yogurt with fruit, cottage cheese with fruit, a rice cake with almond butter or tuna or avocado, a Skout Trailbar, and a piece of fruit with nuts or trail mix.  All of these combinations are quick to pack and easy to carry.  Furthermore, drinking Shakeology at lunch makes that midday meal a no brainer when prepping food for the day.
  • photo-9Make it Social:  Living a healthy lifestyle does not need to be done in isolation!  On the weekends, I love to spend time with friends and family, and I have found ways to be active while having fun.  Lately, I have been bouldering almost every weekend with some friends who share the same hobby.  It is an incredible work out and going so frequently means I have spent more time with these friends than I have in months!  Double awesome!  Luckily, I live in a city full of people who love to run, so there are fun runs throughout the year and I have friends who have joined me in some of them.  I also love to hike, so I recruit friends to come along with me.  Having people over for dinner is another great way to eat healthy foods and not have to worry about what is on the menu at some bar and saves a bunch of money too.  I also love concerts and dancing, both of which are great ways to spend time with friends and are great work outs (bonus!).
  • photo-16Find Time, Make Time:  The bottom line is I have to find and make time in my hectic life for healthy eating and living.  Some days, I find myself squeezing work outs in between meetings or during breaks in class because it is literally the only time I will have to do it, and it is totally worth it as long as I make it count.  Only have 40 minutes?  Run HARD for 25 or do a Jillian Michaels 30 minute work out DVD.  If you are one of those people that can actually get out of bed when your alarm goes off, wake up early to make sure you get that work out in.  Working out in the morning is an amazing way to start your day refreshed.  I hate waking up in the morning so much that I am fine showing up to class super sweaty or spending my hour dinner break in an 8 hour class on a treadmill.  Packing your meals and snacks saves you time as well, since you aren’t going to a restaurant and waiting in line so you can apply that time to getting sweaty.  Spending a little extra time the night before or on Sundays preparing meals for the following day(s) is well worth it.

Find what works for you and make it happen 🙂

Hello, blog world!

Hi!  Thank you for checking out my blog!  I have never done this before, so I’m a bit nervous!  I hope to use this blog as a way to share my journey to fitness and finding balance in a hectic life.

A bit about me:

I am 25 years old and live in Portland, Oregon.  I moved to Portland 2 1/2 years ago to attend graduate school at Portland State University.  I am currently working on a Masters in Public Health and a Masters in Social Work.  Prior to moving to Portland, I lived in Santa Barbara, CA where I attended UCSB, fell in love, and began my career in community health.  It was also where I worked WAY too many hours each week and didn’t work on finding balance between emotionally draining work and self care.  My relationships suffered and so did my body!  Growing up, I was naturally thin and was always involved in physical activities including softball, basketball, cheerleading, and horseback riding.  Once I hit my 20’s and wasn’t focused on taking care of my body, my weight shot up and by the time I moved to Portland, I was overweight, exhausted, and unhappy.  I learned from all of this and began working out regularly, eating clean and healthy, and making sure I find time for loved ones NO MATTER how busy I get.

I have an amazing boyfriend who I have been with for over 5 years and he has stuck with me through it all and has worked on his health right beside me.

DSC01778

I also have a fabulous Shih-Poo dog who is a constant source of laughs and cuddles, and a tortoise who is a feisty little thing.

DSC04531   316298_2007335823594_1249640262_31726745_1959481341_n

I have a wonderful group of girlfriends that get together to laugh hysterically and hold each other up during the toughest of times.  I also have an incredible family and I feel so fortunate to have the type of relationship with my mom that it feels weird when I go more than one day without talking to her.  I love to read, hike, camp, cook, attend concerts and festivals, drink coffee, and help others.

I hope to share recipes, work out tips, health research and tips, and be a source of inspiration through this blog.  I know there are a million other folks sharing their health stories throughout the web and I think the more the merrier!  We all relate to some more than others, so the more connections made, the better we will all be supported.  This is why I’ve decided to add my story to the mix and I hope you will share yours with me.  I’d love to get feedback, share information, and be held accountable by old and new friends.  So, here we go!