The Three Most Important Changes In My Wellness Journey

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akansha-agrawal-fitness-blogger

I’ve learned a lot about myself ever since I started my health & wellness journey five years ago. Five years ago fitness, nutrition, and mental health were not top of mind. My overall well-being was not a priority.

Luckily, the tables have turned but the changes have not easy nor straightforward.

When I first started exploring the realm of fitness, I discovered influencers in bodybuilding who would lift heavy, count their macros, and “cut” for a few weeks after “bulking” for a few months. I briefly fell into that trap and was told to try competing in a bikini competition (yeah no thanks).

Another example is I when I tried to steer towards a vegan diet: I added more soy-based proteins to help supplement my diet (yikes) and never really felt satisfied. It took me a while to realize that it’s okay to eat (good quality) meat and I should eat what my body craves.

These are just a couple of examples of things that didn’t work for me in the end (but hey it may work for others!). Here are three things that do work:

Meditating: Yes again, I know. How cliche right? But guess what guys, even 5 – 10 minutes of breathing, sitting, and doing nothing has helped me so much with my stress and anxiety. Whenever I fall off from meditation I feel my anxiety creeping back again.

Working with a nutritionist: I didn’t start seeing a nutritionist for what most people would think — losing weight. I actually consulted a nutritionist when my digestive issues became too much to bear. My nutritionist Mary Vance has helped my heal my gut (almost!) and has helped me see nutrition in a different light. I promise to post on this topic soon because there is so much to be said here!

Finding fitness buddies: Having friends or people you can workout with has been life-changer! When I first started I’d almost always workout alone for two reasons: 1. I didn’t know many other people who made it a priority (clearly I wasn’t looking hard enough) and 2. I was afraid others would judge me. Once I got over that fear, my life was changed. I started training with Fleet Feet for half marathons, met girls from the Tone It Up Bay Area community and was also more willing to try different kinds of group fitness classes with friends.

So obviously, this is what works for me and those “a-ha” moments may be different for others. Regardless, I do think there are certain take-aways for all:

-Try meditating with Headspace. It’s only 10 minutes long!
-Pay attention to what you eating. Does it make you feel good? Are you eating mindfully, eating whole foods? A nutritionist can be expensive but if you want some basic guidelines on nutrition, the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan is a good start.
– Find a local running group (Lululemon has one, or check out The November Project), or try different group fitness classes with friends. It’s always easier with a buddy :).

It’s like something finally clicked in my mind when I started doing each one of the three things I mentioned above. I’d love to know what works for you in your own wellness journey.

How I am Making the Tone it Up Bikini Series My Own

 

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This year I’ve finally decided to participate in the Tone It Up Bikini Series: an 8 week fitness challenge hosted by the founders of Tone It Up, Karena & Katrina. It’s a big step for me because I’ve never successfully completed a fitness challenge before.

Some challenges had way too many rules, other’s didn’t speak to me, but other times I just I didn’t believe in myself. Not too long ago, I was still working on improving my relationship with food & exercise. Whoa, I think that’s the first time I’m ever mentioning that online. That’s a big deal for me.

I’d find myself obsessing over my food & body much more than I’d like. I’d compare myself to others far too much and spent too much time criticizing my own flaws. I was aware of my somewhat “unhealthy mindset” and I knew a fitness challenge may make me focus more on the superficial than I should.

It’s taken me a lot of trial and error to get to where I am now but I am at the point where I feel comfortable and happy with my relationship with fitness. I’m ready to give this challenge a shot.

I’m someone who marches to the beat of their own drum so I don’t think I’d be successful if I tried to follow all the rules of the challenge. For example, I’m not exactly following the TIU meals on their nutrition plan nor I am doing all of the TIU workouts. They do, however, serve as helpful guidelines.

Everyone has different goals for the Bikini Series but here are my top 3 I’d like to achieve:

My Goals:

  1. Successfully complete my first challenge. Really all I want is to keep my motivation going for 8 weeks. And I want to make sure I continuously love and accept myself the way I am the entire way through it. One week down already!
  2. Become a morning person: my goal is to wake up by 6:30 at least 4 times a week to either get in a morning workout (aka “Booty Call”) or to take time to write for my blog. Two of those four days I teach, so it’s really only 2 more days I need to get motivated for.
  3. Prep my meals. I’m lucky to be fed both breakfast and lunch at work so I really only need to prepare one healthy snack and dinner for each day. I easily get stressed/overwhelmed by cooking and I want this challenge to make my life easier! I’ll definitely be using the meal plan for inspiration.

I know I wouldn’t be sticking to this challenge without my accountability groups. I’m part of two group threads with other women who are participating in this challenge. We don’t only talk about working out, but literally everything and anything in life. Everyone is so supportive and kind. I’m a bit introverted so I was scared I’d be overwhelmed but it is quite nice I must say :).

Okay that’s all I have to say about the Bikini Series now. I feel even more accountable sharing this online.

Do you have any questions about it? Shall I do another update in a few weeks? Are you doing it as well? Let me know in the comments below!

Tone It Up Bay Area Getaway: Part I

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The Getaway

I’ve been a silent follower of Tone It Up for the last couple of years. I’ve wanted to get involved in the community for so long, but hesitated in the past. I’m a bit of an introvert so I tend to shy away from group activities and do more things independently.

But I still really wanted to get involved…so I finally took a leap of faith and signed up for a retreat with 30 other local TIU members. We rented a house in Marin and spent three days working out, relaxing by the pool, working out some more and then drinking a lot of wine. It was like a weekend with your sorority sisters…but better.

The Tone It Up Getaway wasn’t actually sponsored by Tone It Up or affiliated in anyway with the official Tone It Up Retreat. The trip was actually planned by a few special women who thought it would be fun to do our own mini-retreat at a much more reasonable price.

Here’s Part I of the Getaway… there’s so much to say that I’m going to dedicate Part II to all the food we ate (because it was that freaking good!).

So what do you do at a fitness retreat?

Our first night in the house (Friday evening) we spent time getting to know each other over food, games, and wine. We also received our super cool swag bags that night – I’ve never seen anything like it: great snacks, head bands, water bottles, and other Tone It Up gear.

We kicked off Saturday morning with our Booty Call. For those unfamiliar with Tone It Up workouts, a “booty call” isn’t what you may think; rather it’s short morning workout to start off your day! You can go on a walk, a run, complete a HIIT workout, whatever gets you up and moving in the morning.

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The afternoon was spent relaxing by the pool while drinking sangria & eating Nada Moo ice cream from tub (my new obsession!).

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Later in the afternoon, we welcomed Leila to lead a 90 minute yoga session. We opened the French doors out to the front yard so that we could set some yoga mats in the living room and others out by the pool to create a partially indoor/outdoor yoga experience.

Immediately we knew this practice was going to be different. First, we were at a fitness retreat in a quiet neighborhood where we could see hawks flying, and hear leaves rustling with the wind. But what made the class truly unique was the spirituality aspect Leila had brought. She began the class with a spiritual chant “Sri Ram Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram” while she played the harmonium.

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I’ll be completely honest: I was hesitant to accept the practice due to my personal, internal conflicts with western yoga and Hindu religion (this topic totally deserves it’s own post). However, because she felt so genuine, I was able to fully embrace her style and felt at peace while she chanted. It ended being one of my most memorable yoga practices.

Our final celebrations

You guys, we had our own dance party in the house and it was so much fun! It reminded of house parties we used to have in college, but way less trashy ☺. We converted the living room into a dance & drank copious amounts of wine and tequila, sang our favorite throwback hits, and danced the night away.

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After an intense night, Sunday morning was a bit of a struggle but we were still determined to workout! Our final organized activity was a 5K hike/run – we marched out in our pink Charity Miles tanks to get our sweat on.

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Saying our goodbyes was tough, but luckily the TIU community is very active online. It’s been so easy to stay in touch!

I want to thank Raisa, Lauren, and Kara for planning this unforgettable getaway. They went above and beyond to make this event a success by organizing fun activities, partnering with amazing brands, and by taking every step they could to strengthen our community. You ladies are the best!

Look out for TIU Getaway Part II while I’ll recap all the yummy food we devoured.