IBS: Diagnosis to Victory, Part III

If you’ve been following my journey, then you know from my March update that I started working with a Nutritionist. Even though I purchased The Complete Low-FODMAP Diet book, and it has been helpful, I wanted the guidance of a professional to help me through the elimination phase. I wanted some type of guidance with regards to where to begin and how long the elimination phase should last before I start re-introducing certain foods. She stated the elimination phase varies per person. For some it could take six weeks for their symptoms to improve; while for others it could take up to a year (Fix it, Jesus!).

At her recommendation, and the recommendation of the GI doctor I spoke with last year, I stopped drinking coffee at the end of March. This actually wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. I realized most of the time, I was drinking coffee to keep warm (#TeamAnemia). So instead I drink hot water and lemon which seems to satisfy my need.

Most of the research I found regarding caffeine and IBS is that it is primarily a trigger for those with IBS-D (diarrhea) since coffee is a stimulant and can make the digestive tract work faster causing lose stool. I haven’t seen much in relation to IBS with constipation. However, I have noticed my movements are starting to become more regular (insert happy dance!). I’m thinking there is a correlation between coffee and my digestive system because when I would drink coffee, I noticed my stomach would make loud gurgling noises. That should have been my signal to stop drinking coffee, but, what can I say? I’m just stubborn like that!

Second Nutritionist Visit

On m second visit, she suggested I finish dinner 1-2 hours before bedtime, because when you lie down it makes it more difficult for your body to properly digest your food.

She gave me a list of probiotic foods, such as Kefir, Kimchi, Sauerkraut, or Yogurt with live active cultures. I probably won’t try yogurt since I had flatulence last time I tried yogurt. Probiotic foods can help improve digestive health. I just need to get over the strong smell of Kimchi!

She provided meal and snack Ideas. Some of the meal combinations I currently eat and some of the other suggestions seem appetizing! But, eating at home isn’t the challenge. What honestly causes me the most anxiety is when I eat away from home, because I can’t be certain how the food is prepared. I feel bad (although I shouldn’t) because I have to ask questions or request that certain foods be removed from the dish so I don’t experience IBS symptoms.

With that said, I have had some pretty good dining out experiences. I don’t eat out much, even before I started the elimination diet. When I have dined out, I tried to order from the Gluten Free Menu options. But….there were times when I assumed something was gluten free or safe to eat and that proved to be the wrong assumption. So I learned the hard way to never assume, ALWAYS ask!!

In addition to dietary changes, there are some medications and supplements that I began taking. The first being Dicyclomine, which helps reduce gas, bloating, and constipation. Magnesium, which is a natural muscle relaxer. The colon is a muscle, so if the muscle is more relaxed that will promote regularity. And I must say that an added benefit is that I have experienced AMAZING sleep since taking magnesium! So if you have challenges with getting better sleep, then definitely try this and you will be lights out!! I also take Miralax, which is a laxative and we all know what those do. Lastly, I take digestive enzymes to help me better digest my foods.

From my research, what was consistent is that it would take a combination of dietary changes and medications/supplements to help improve my symptoms.

After my March Nutritionist visit, she told me I don’t need to see her again unless I started feeling worse or until my symptoms have cleared up and I am ready for the re-introduction phase. Bring on the avocados! Lol

As sweet as she is, she doesn’t appear to be a specialist for this particular diet. Our visits were short (less than 30 minutes) and she didn’t provide a customized meal plan, which I was expecting to receive. She provided documents to me that were more generic. So I will continue to monitor my progress, try to adhere to the list of foods to avoid, read labels, research, take my medications/supplements, and seek help from various Facebook groups.

So, like Dori I’ll “just keep swimming!” 🙂




Getting Back on Track After the Holiday’s

One of the many pleasures from the holiday season was eating yummy food!! One of which was cookies J I had sooooo many cookies! As in…. RIP to ALL the cookies I devoured!!  But, going into the new year, my body definitely let me know I ate in a way it was not accustomed to. I started to beat myself up over it and feel like I failed in promoting a healthy lifestyle. I had to avoid my first instinct which was to be more restrictive with my food choices. But in reality, that wasn’t a solution since that would be a form of punishment. It would be like telling myself “since you over-indulged, you’re in trouble now and you have to make up for it!” When we allow our minds to travel down that path, we we’re setting ourselves up for a vicious cycle of over-eat, repent, under-eat, then the cycle repeats itself. So I decided to push forward and go back to what I was familiar with. I try to practice a lifestyle where I can eat what I enjoy, but in moderation. There is no one size fits all definition of moderation. Moderation looks different for everyone. The main point in practicing moderation is knowing you can have what you want; just not all of it, all the time. We are human and it is OK to enjoy life!

My typical lifestyle choices include drinking plenty of water – usually a gallon a day. Practicing portion control by using a food scale, measuring cups and measuring spoons. Eating clean, whole foods in the form of lean protein, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. I also use MyFitnessPal daily to track my water, meals, and workouts. So the remedy wasn’t to go to the opposite end of the spectrum; but to get back in balance. Get back in touch with myself and my goals. To love myself and give my body what it needs to be healthy to support my goals.

None of us are perfect and we all make choices we aren’t pleased with, but the point is to be kind to yourself and re-focus. You cannot change the past. You can only propel forward and use the past as a lesson. So, yes, when the holiday’s roll around again this year, I plan to enjoy myself. But just be more mindful about what I am eating and how my body will respond.

I am sure I am not the only who needed a fresh start and a system re-set. So I created a 90 Day Wellness Challenge called The Comeback Season! This group will offer support, community, and accountability!! There will be weekly meal plans, weekly workout video’s that can be followed at home or in the gym. There will be live Q & A’s each week led group leaders where you can also receive product information. The group will be facilitated by a certified holistic health coach, a certified personal trainer, and wellness consultants, such as myself.  This is an exclusive VIP Facebook community for people who seriously want change and most importantly, RESULTS!! If you’re interested, we would love to have you! You may email me at sajenkins@live.com. In the Subject Line, please put “The Comeback Season” so I can provide you with more information. This challenge is not a diet, but a foundation you can use to build a healthy lifestyle. Diets are temporary; quick fixes. But, when you make lifestyle changes, you are making changes that are sustainable for you.

Happy New Year!! ( I think I have until January 31st to keep saying that, right?! Lol)



Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Diagnosis to Victory Series, Part I

I can be so stubborn and often get in my own way! I try to handle things myself without asking for help. But asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign that you’re human. About 2 years ago, I started experiencing gas and bloating with no known cause. It didn’t seem to matter what I ate; healthy or otherwise, I would still experience these symptoms. There would be periods where the symptoms would go away and then return. Again, I couldn’t pin point what made the symptoms disappear or what caused them to re-appear. I went about my daily life hoping it would just be something that fixed itself over time. But after experiencing these symptoms for a while, I experimented with different over the counter drug store products for gas and bloating, but none of them proved helpful in alleviating my symptoms.

So finally in December 2015, I was starting to get frustrated all over again, so I went to my doctor and told him about my symptoms. He gave me a prescription for acid reflex. I wasn’t sure that would work considering my symptoms, but I decided to trust him anyway. At a follow-up appointment, I told him there was no relief. So he scheduled a kidney ultrasound. And the results showed….nothing. Sigh. Back to the drawing board, I guess. I researched doctor’s that specialized in digestive issues (gastroenterologist) and asked for a referral. The GI doctor suggested a colonoscopy. Yikes! I thought that was only for people who are a little more “seasoned” in age. But I went through with it, because that was the best way for them to rule out more serious conditions, such as colitis, colon cancer, ulcers, and Chron’s disease. The GI doctor took a biopsy as well. During my follow-up appointment, he confirmed I didn’t have any serious medical conditions (thank you, baby Jesus!!). So based on my symptoms, he diagnosed me with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

I was relieved and frustrated at the same time. I know that may sound strange, but I was relieved I didn’t have a serious, life-threatening condition, but I was also frustrated because there is no cure for IBS. Since it is not clear on what causes IBS, treatment focuses on relieving symptoms so that I can live as normally as possible. There are prescription medications, but either their long-term effectiveness is unknown or they may help with one IBS symptom, yet worsen other symptoms. The condition is best managed through dietary changes, reducing stress, and using medications, such as fiber supplements, laxatives or peppermint oil. My goal is to manage this condition and not allow it to manage me!

So, what is IBS? How is the condition managed?

IBS effects the large intestine (colon) and can cause gas, bloating, cramping, constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Your intestinal walls are lined with muscles that contact and relax in a coordinated rhythm to move food through your intestinal tract to your rectum. If you have IBS, contractions may be stronger, causing diarrhea or the opposite may occur. The contractions may be weak; slowing food passage and causing constipation. I’m experiencing the latter.

It is not known what causes IBS, which is why there is no cure and the condition is challenging to manage. According to the Mayo Clinic, one theory suggests there may be poor coordination between the brain and the intestines. While others suggest food intolerances can cause IBS. Stress also plays a factor in the condition. Stress does not cause IBS, but can worsen symptoms.

My GI Doctor recommended I follow the FOD MAP diet, which is an elimination diet. There are certain carbohydrates found in certain foods that can contribute to IBS symptoms. These carbs are (be prepared for the longest acronym known to man!):

Fermentable, Oligo-saccharides, Di-saccharides, Mono-saccharides and Polyols

There are certain foods that are high on the FOD Map list and fall into one of these categories. Their consumption should be avoided or reduced. For a complete list of low and high FOD MAP foods, check the link below:


The diet seeks to eliminate foods that are difficult to digest. Not all foods will cause the same adverse reaction in all IBS sufferers. So I am going through this process now and trying to eliminate foods that have high FOD Maps, such as broccoli, apples, hot sauce, and onions. I also replaced my oats, bread, and pancake mix with gluten-free versions. It is also suggested, that I not drink coffee. I’m still working on the coffee and the gluten-free recommendation! Lol.

Other changes I’ve made include increasing my water intake. I aim to drink a gallon of water a day while I am at work. Some days are easier than others. Second, I added Psyllium powder to my green smoothies. Psyllium husk is straight fiber! And fiber keeps you regularJ. I realized I may not be getting enough fiber, because when you blend or juice fruits, you’re not eating the fruit in its whole form, so you aren’t getting as much fiber. Also, I went to a local naturopathic clinic and one of the associates was also diagnosed with IBS. She suggested I take digestive enzymes to help my body break down my food. She also gave me magnesium powder to promote regularity.

As far as stress management, I have been trying to focus on taking long, deep breaths when I feel tense or stressed. I also make sure I eat without distractions and avoid eating in a hurry.

So far, I am starting to feel better and I hope I stay on the up and up! I’m not 100%, but feeling better now compared to a couple of months ago.

I encourage you all to be proactive about your health. Don’t be stubborn like I was and wait until you’re fed up before you seek help. You know your body and you know when something is not right. I could have been diagnosed with a serious condition that required treatment. I am so thankful that was not the case! But had I sought help earlier, I could be that much closer to finding a solution to help me manage my symptoms.

I plan to use this diagnosis to create a series of blog posts on what I learn, my experience with an elimination diet, new food finds and anything else that I think would be helpful.
I hope you will come along with me on my journey!

“Irritable bowel syndrome.” Irritable bowel syndrome – Mayo Clinic. N.p., 21 July 2014. Web. 16 Dec. 2016. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome/basics/definition/con-20024578&gt;.

Top Tips for Weight Loss

Between Facebook pages, blogs, email newsletters, YouTube and other sources, it is easy to become overwhelmed trying to sift through so much information in order to find advice that will help you along your journey. All of the resources listed above can be helpful and I do recommend that you seek information from several sources, but don’t feel like you have to try everything that everyone suggests all at once. Choose pieces of advice that you feel will be helpful and sustainable for you. Try them and if they help, continue with them. If they are not helpful, try something else. The key is to find what works for you and be consistent.

Below I compiled a list of tips that helped me lose weight. I am still using these tips to maintain my weight loss. The work continues even after you lose the weight. For me, I don’t call my way of living a diet; this is a lifestyle so that I can live my best life! Your best days are ahead of you if you make the right choices and believe in yourself!

Top 15 Tips

1)      Keep a food journal – Either use traditional pen and paper or use an app such as MyFitnessPal. Tracking your food helps you make sure you are consuming the right amount of calories. Journaling also keeps you accountable and helps you remember you had hat slice of cake earlier in the week J

2)      Drink your water – Start with 8 glasses, then work your way up to half your body weight in ounces. Sometimes we think we’re hungry when in fact our bodies are telling us we’re thirsty

3)      Eat one indulgent meal per week – Notice I said meal and not day. I personally don’t recommend a whole day. You may consume too many calories and that will derail your efforts. It may also be more difficult to get back on track the day after. You don’t want a cheat day to turn into a cheat weekend, then a cheat weak, and cheat month….you get the point. Also eating some of these more indulgent foods may wreak havoc on your digestive system if your body is not used to consuming them on a regular basis

4)      Get moving – Find something that you like and that challenges you. Start incorporating physical activity 3-5 times per week for a least a half hour. Then increase your physical activity from there. But, remember you cannot outwork a bad diet. Just don’t even try it. You will be wasting your time and energy in the gym and you will not see progress. To lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than your body expends. 3,500 calories to be exact. So you need to consume 3,500 fewer calories per week to lose one pound. Just let that sink in! lol

5)      Try new foods – Our bodies are smart and adapt to repetitiveness. Change things up to avoid hitting a weight loss plateau. So, don’t worry, you don’t need to eat chicken breast, brown rice, and broccoli just every day to see results

6)      Take progress pictures – I wish I did this more while I was losing weight. The scale may not move much, but you may notice your clothes fit looser and your body composition changing. I’m starting to take more pictures of myself now. Also, the number on the scale can be deceptive if you’re retaining water from eating salty foods or if you’re on your monthly cycle. And depending on the time of day you weight yourself, your results may not be consistent

7)      Goal clothes – My goal jeans motivated me to keep going! It may be vain, but who cares; it kept me on track. I was determined to fit comfortably into those jeans! I paid $100 for them and was not going to let my hard earned money go to waste.

8)       Research trends – Don’t be so quick to jump on the bandwagon or take everything you read at face value. Research first to see if it is something that will be beneficial to your journey. Do you really need to go gluten free? Should you only consume foods that are fat-free, low-fat, or low-carb?

9)      Review ingredient lists – In addition to looking at the nutritional facts, you also need to know what is in your food. Avoid long ingredient lists that have ingredients you cannot pronounce. Food is fuel. The calorie count may be low, but will that food fuel your body?

10)   Meal prep – Having your meals prepared beforehand leaves you with no room for excuses to make unhealthy choices because you don’t have the energy to cook. All it takes is a few hours one day a week and you’re set for the rest of the week. Trust me, it’s worth it

11)   Have healthy snacks on hand – Keep healthy snacks at home to satisfy you in between meals. If you plan on running a long day of errands, pack a healthy snack to avoid getting so hungry that you make a poor food choice

12)   Weigh yourself – Weigh yourself regularly, but no more than once per week. Yes, you want to measure your progress, but you don’t want to become obsessed with the scale and feel like a failure when it doesn’t give you the number you’re expecting

13)   Subscribe to email newsletters – Daily health and wellness emails help keep you on track by serving as a reminder that you’re on a journey. Newsletters letters also serve as motivation because of the community aspect. They are also great ways to get new recipe ideas

14)   Take a multivitamin – As much as you’re changing your eating habits for the better, no one gets all of the vitamins and minerals their bodies need 365 days a year. Supplements can help us get more of the nutrients our bodies are lacking

15)   Eat 5-6 times per day – Eating one meal a day or something crazy like that will only be counterproductive. Your body will begin to go into starvation mode because it doesn’t know when it will eat again. When you eat more often throughout the day, not only will you be more satisfied, but you will keep your metabolism running optimally. I try to keep my body on a schedule and eat about every 3-4 hours

I hope you find these tips helpful! Feel free to try some or all of them. Whatever tips you choose to take away, please remember to love yourself during the process! So, I guess I have 16 tips! Lol. Just make sure you are not being too hard on yourself if you are giving it your all. You cannot compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.

Top 15 tips picture.jpg


What is Your Why?

“Why are you trying to lose weight? You look fine.” This is the question I received on numerous occasions while trying to lose weight. I appreciated the sentiment behind it, but regardless of how I looked on the outside to others, I didn’t like the way I looked or how I felt on the inside. I didn’t like seeing a double chin or a large tummy. I didn’t like feeling sluggish and heavy. I wanted to have more confidence when I looked in the mirror and I wanted to feel better throughout the day. That was my why; my motivation for wanting to live a healthier lifestyle. I was embarking on this journey for me and no one else. Yes, it was nice to have support along the way, but even if I didn’t have that support, I already made up in my mind that I was going to do this and I was going to succeed!

 As I started to lose weight, I discovered more reasons why this was important and something I had to do. I would read startling health statistics about obesity and did not want to be a statistic. I had so much left to do in life and could not be slowed down by high blood pressure, diabetes, or any other disease that was a result of my poor health. I wanted to be around for my family; to take care of them and I had to be healthy to do this.

 Everyone’s why is different. There is no right or wrong reason as to why you want to be healthier. This journey is personal. Your reason may change along the way, but your end goal should remain the same.

I encourage you to write down your why. Many times visually seeing something reinforces it and further motivates us to reach that end goal. You may even choose to create a vision board with encouraging phrases. Some people like posting a picture of themselves on their refrigerator as motivation. I recall buying an expensive pair of jeans that I could not fit when I purchased them. But I told myself I wanted to one day fit into them comfortably. After remaining consistent and focusing on my why, they became too big and I had to donate them. Whatever it takes to help you visualize your success, I encourage you to do it. Consistency is key to achieving results.

Even after losing weight, I still have to have a why. Why do I continue to eat healthy and workout? Well, because I don’t want to return to the person I was. Knowing my why helps to keep me on track and maintain my weight loss. Why? Because I want to inspire others and share what I’ve learned along the way. What I experienced may encourage someone else who thinks this journey is not possible. Some people think it takes super-human strength to lose weight and it does not. Yes, losing weight will be one of the most challenging things you will ever do; but it will also be one of the most rewarding endeavors you will take if you see it through! Anyone can be successful at weight loss. All it takes is a made-up mind, determination, and consistency!

 What is your why?


Kitchen Essentials: Pantry & Refrigerator Tour

I’m a foodie so I like watching the “What’s in my kitchen” YouTube video’s. So I decided, after a recent trip to the store, to show you items I try to always keep on hand so that I make smart eating choices to prepare healthy meals and snacks that keep me on track. When stocking you fridge and pantry, do not have trigger foods in your home. Trigger foods are those foods that are difficult for you to practice self-control and you tend to over eat them. Foods such as cookies, ice cream and chips are trigger foods for many people. For me, it is peanut butter. I am a peanut butter addict and have been known to take a spoon to a jar and go to town! Sooooo….. peanut butter is not allowed in my home. Lol. Another reason it is key to stock your kitchen with the right foods, is that you have no excuse to stop by your favorite fast food restaurant because you’re tired and don’t have the ingredients on hand to quickly prepare a healthy meal at home. I always make sure to have veggies (frozen or canned), a lean protein (chicken breast, chicken sausage, tuna), and a heathy carbohydrate (quinoa, brown rice, sweet potatoes, or squash) on hand so that I can quickly and easily create a healthy meal at home. So here’s a quick tour of what I had on hand.

Fresh Fruit – Fruit is a convenient grab and go snack. I like to eat fruit to satisfy my sweet tooth. I try to buy what is in season so the fruit is fresh and more affordable. I have a chart that shows in season fruit and veggies by month


Tea – I like to have a variety of flavors on hand. Tea also helps curb late night snacking


Canned Veggies – Canned veggies are inexpensive and easy to prepare since you can cook them on the stovetop or in the microwave

Canned veggies

Dry Goods 1 – Pancake/waffle mix (I like the Kodiak Cakes because they have pretty clean ingredients and they are easy to prepare since you just need to add water). Coconut sugar, single serve tuna packs, Lara Bars, Quest Nutrition protein bars, Quinoa & Brown rice blend, gum, and unsweetened coco powder

Dry goods 1

Dry Goods 2 – Oatmeal, stevia packets, ground flax seeds. I use a variety of flours, such as tapioca starch, coconut flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda

Dry goods 2

Seasonings – Seasoning and sauces add flavor and keep your food interesting. So I have hot sauce, Adobo seasoning (my favorite seasoning I add to almost everything!), Nutritional Yeast (a cheese replacement and source of B12. I sprinkle over veggies, popcorn, and salads), healthy cooking oils and sprays (non-sticky spray for fat free cooking), olive and coconut oil for sautéing and frying. I also use olive oil as a replacement for butter on my bread or on sweet potatoes

Seasonings and oils

 Freezer – Frozen veggies, like canned veggies, are inexpensive and easy to prepare, frozen fruit is used for smoothies and make great toppings for oatmeal and pancakes. When you buy frozen fruit, make sure to check the label to avoid preservatives and added sugar. The only ingredient should be the fruit itself. For my bread, I choose organic, whole grain, and local. The bread I buy usually comes from Washington or Oregon.


Meat/Poultry – After buying a pack of meat, I like to portion it out and place in freezer storage bags. Did you peep that pack of drumsticks on sale for $1.66? Score!

Condiments – I like having a variety of condiments for the same reasons I like having a variety of seasonings and sauces on hand. Regular mustard (add to sandwiches and used to make homemade honey mustard dressing), jalapeno mustard (use on veggies or tuna), chicken broth (use instead of water to add flavor when cooking veggies and quinoa), balsamic vinaigrette (read the label and avoid preservatives, color additives, and added sugar), lemon juice (add flavor to water), cashew milk (great for thickening my smoothies), salsa (make sure there’s no sugar added).


Refrigerator (top shelf) – Eggs, cauliflower crumbles (use to make pizza crust, mashed potato replacement, steam hem, sauté, add volume to oatmeal), deli meat, and fresh veggies. I try to buy fresh veggies whenever possible. But, of course, frozen, and canned are still great options

Frige top shelf

Refrigerator (bottom shelf) – Meat that I was going to use that weekend for meal prep. I portioned out and froze what I did not use, already prepped green beans from earlier that week, and more veggies 🙂

Frige bottom shelf

Crisper – More veggies! I consume lots of leafy, green veggies because of course I like the way they taste, but you can also eat a lot of them for a small number of calories


Mason Jars – Mine are freezer safe and BPA free. I use them for smoothies and to freeze liquids (sauces, soups, and chili) and to store homemade jams and salad dressings

Mason Jars

Protein Powder – I always choose a vanilla flavor. I typically choose a vegan powder, because they tend to have cleaner ingredients and are naturally sweetened with stevia

Protein &amp; ACV

Apple Cider Vinegar – I use it for salad dressings (bonus tip: it can also be used as a facial toner)

Freezer bags – I like to write a description and the date I am storing it

Digital food scale/measuring cups/measuring spoons – No eyeballing it! These take the guess work out of properly portioning out your food.

Scale &amp; Measuring cups, spoons

Plastic items – Sorry for the messy drawer:). Storage containers and plastic water bottles I take with me on the weekends

Plastic containers

Other good items to have on hand – These are other items that are great to have on hand. Coconut milk (use to thicken soups and sauces), nuts (unsalted or lightly salted with sea salt), popcorn (Smart Foods or Skinny Pop brands are great. Avoid buttered popcorn), nut butters (avoid brands with added oil and sugar), coconut aminos (a soy-free alternative to soy sauce), pasta sauce (no sugar added), and Greek yogurt. I know many people love Yoplait, but they are a sugar bomb so I personally avoid that brand and any brand that has added sugars. I really like the Oikos Triple Zero Greek protein yogurt. This yogurt is sweetened with Monk Fruit and Stevia. It is also high in protein and low in fat. Honey or agave nectar (natural sweeteners), string cheese, cottage cheese, and soups (Pacific Foods or Amy’s brands).

Having a well-stocked fridge and panty gives you easy access to heathy food. Make sure you have a variety of foods and seasonings to make your meals interesting and flavorful. Know your trigger foods and keep them out of the house. Use measuring cups, spoons, and a scale to help you portion out your food. Keep your kitchen stocked for success!

What are some of your kitchen essentials?

My Home Gym: Getting Fit Without a Gym Membership

When I first decided to lose weight, I found the concept of a gym intimidating and was too afraid to purchase a gym membership. I had this idea the gym would be filled with a bunch of really fit people who were going to make fun of the chubby couch potato just starting out. So I decided I wanted to work out in the privacy and comfort of my own home. Even though I wasn’t super into health and fitness, I was still familiar with the name Jillian Michaels and the hit show Biggest Loser, so I decided to buy the Biggest Loser work out DVD. I also found her 30 Day Shred program along with some other work outs On Demand. Once I was comfortable with those work outs, I went to Sears and purchased a treadmill. Running was always a challenge for me and I hated it when we had to run the mile in PE class. I almost always had the slowest time and felt like crap afterwards. But with my treadmill it was a chance to kind of redeem myself (even though I was far removed from high school) and conquer something that always made me feel defeated. So I started off by walking at a brisk pace for a half an hour and then for an hour. From there I would jog as long as I could and then walk when I became tired. Finally, I started running as fast and as long as I could. I thought I was going to die! My chest and calves were burning and I was sweating in places I never sweat before. It was hard, but I didn’t let that stop me. I kept pushing! Eventually I became more comfortable running. I even started running outside sometimes to change things up. So that is how my love of running began :).  To this day, I still run as my main form of cardio. I run about 3.5 miles 5-6 days a week and I love it! There are still times when I think I’m about to die when I decide to change things up and run faster or increase the incline, but I keep going and challenging myself. If something doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you!

My Equipment

  • Treadmill – I still have the same treadmill I originally purchased. I don’t recall how much I paid for it, but good places to shop around are Sears, Walmart, and Fred Meyer
  • Weights – I have various sizes since not all muscle groups are the same size. You need different size weights to challenge those different areas. I have 5, 8, 10, 12, 15, and 20 pounds dumbbells. The ones that are 20 pounds were a Walmart steal for $20. They are adjustable from 5-20 pounds each. The other size weights I purchased from Target or Ross. I don’t recall the prices, but as the size of the weight increases, so does the price
  • Resistance Band – Medium resistance band purchased for $5 at Ross
  • Stability Ball – Purchased from Ross for $5
  • Weighted Jump Rope- Each handle has a 2 pound weight. Purchased from Walmart for about $10
  • Yoga Mat – Free! I attended a local Pop Sugar fitness event and they gave each participant a mat. I mainly used it when I was trying out Hot Yoga
  • Ankle Weights – Each ankle weight is 5 pounds. I purchased them from Walmart for less than $20

Workout clothes

You don’t have to purchase expensive workout clothes either. They just need to be comfortable and durable. I purchased my Nike running shoes from DSW so that I wouldn’t have to pay full price. I purchase clothes from a variety of places, but great choices include Walmart, Ross, Marshalls and Value Village. At Walmart I would stick with items from Danskin. That brand has been around for a while and they have good quality clothing. At Value Village I found workout clothes from Nike that were brand new with tags, along with Under Armor and REI brand clothing.

Free Online Workouts

To supplement my running, I like to incorporate workouts that include strength training, plyometrics, and HIIT cardio. Some of my favorite YouTube channels include Shelly Dose, Relentless Jake, Jessica Smith TV, Sweat Stream, Fitness Blender, and BeFit.


My DVD player broke (booooo), but I started building a collection of workouts that included kick boxing, abs, and Yoga. My favorite DVD’s are from Jeanette Jenkins. I really like her energy!

Outdoor Workouts

During the summer, I like to occasionally take my runs outside. I like using a park bench for pushups and lunges. The beach where I like to run has a couple of hills, so I will run up and down the hill a few times and then continue on the path.

Side note: always remember to be safe when working out outside. Make sure the area is well lit, there are other people around, and that you are aware of your surroundings at all times!

Using Your Own Body Weight

Even if you do not have equipment at home yet, your own body weight is still very effective. You can do lunges, squats, push-ups, sit-ups, tricep dips, high knees, jogging in place, glute bridges, and butt kickers.

House Walking – Inspired by Lisa Lillian of Hungry Girl

House walking is just that. Walking around your house instead of laying on the couch or sitting down. You can house walk during commercials and while you’re talking on the phone. Imagine walking around the house while on that hour long call with your best friend. You could rack up some serious steps and calories! And you don’t have to live in a house to house walk. I live in a one bedroom apartment and still have space to house walk. More about house walking can be found here: http://www.hungry-girl.com/ask-hg-q-and-a/show/housewalking-daily-steps

Though I had an initial aversion to the gym, my views have changed. I believe a gym membership can be effective especially if you are just starting out. You can utilize the trainers and the fitness classes to help you get started. But a gym membership is not essential in order to attain the body you want. You can begin with a few pieces of equipment or DVD’s and build on from there. Whether you choose to workout at home, purchase a gym membership, or do both, just make sure you enjoy what you’re doing, add variety, and challenge yourself.

Do you have a home gym or a gym membership?

Below are pictures of my home gym equipment and some of my DVD’s