Getting Uncomfortable: Guest Post by Gina Horkey

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I’ve been so busy working on what I’m writing for next month’s blog posts that I have slacked in July! Luckily, I have the wonderful Gina Horkey, who has been published on The Huffington Post and is the author of The Horkey Handbook, to write a guest post for this month. So far, Learning to be Leigh has been focused on getting out of health and fitness comfort zones and this post is no different. Gina is taking a personal approach to let you all see why it’s so great to expand your comfort zones and be the healthiest and best feeling version of YOU! See how Gina got out of her comfort zone and improved her body and lifestyle: Continue reading

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Gluten-free: the bandwagon that you’ll want to jump on.

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In my month of going gluten-free, I have come across many other people who have tried it for multiple reasons. Not a single one of my new gluten-free friends has anything bad to say about their decision and have seen only good things from abstaining from gluten. As for myself, I have noticed that my stomach appears flatter and I feel so much better for being more conscious about what I’m putting in my stomach. With it being the middle of bathing suit season, who doesn’t want to be less bloated and look better at the pool or beach? Raise your hand!

It will be hard to avoid the grains and bread that scientists and the government say you’re “supposed” to eat every day. (I learned a lot about how current nutrition guidelines actually make us sicker from the New York Times bestseller Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis – visit his blog at http://www.wheatbellyblog.com.) You’ll catch yourself with a warm, buttery roll in your hand at the dinner table, wishing you didn’t have self control so that you can shove a plate of pasta in your mouth, and drooling over a massive sandwich…or maybe that’s just me. However, if you can stick with it and feel for yourself how amazing it is to be gluten-free, it will get easier to order a salad or some meat and veggies. It’s not like I’m telling you to give up cheese or frozen yogurt.

Here are some testimonies from some other people who have gone gluten-free and what effects gluten has on them: Continue reading

Is going gluten-free for me?

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This month is taking me wayyyyy out of my comfort zone by going GLUTEN-FREE!

Anyone that has seen me eat knows how hard this challenge will be for me. While I tend to be conscious about what I put into my body, I do enjoy quite a few foods that contain gluten.

After chips and queso, my favorite food is pizza. I eat pasta at least once a week and will sometimes have a quick sandwich on my lunch break. So you’re probably wondering why I’m going to try the gluten-free lifestyle and are hungry after I mentioned all those foods. Continue reading

Make your planks harder…if you dare!

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If you started the 30 Day Plank Challenge with me, then you’re probably as bittersweet about the last day as I am. There were times I had to put my knees on the ground because my core didn’t get as strong as the 30 Day Challenge thought it should be at the end of the month. And if we’re going to be honest with each other, it got really boring holding a plank for more than a couple of minutes. Or maybe I have undiagnosed ADD.

During my journey of planking, I came across a lot of variations of planking that complement and increase the benefits of a regular plank. Learn about these variations at the following link for Women’s Health (a great magazine for women that either want to get in shaper or already are in shape) demonstrating a few ways to switch up your challenge.

(Sorry, but you will have to manually copy and paste this link.) http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/plank-exercise?cm_mmc=Pinterest-_-womenshealth-_-content-fitness-_-makeplanksharder

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This photo from Women’s Health demonstrates a rotating plank. I don’t have the balance for this particular variation,but good luck to you!

If you haven’t started the challenge yet or are still working toward the end of the 30 days, I recommend incorporating some of these variations into your daily planking so that you don’t get as bored as I did. The link will show you ways to do a side plank, and if you’re feeling super athletic, you can do a plank into a push up and go back up into a plank. I tried this one for “fun” and quickly realized how much upper body strength is necessary. If you are trying to get a great upper body, try this!

As a result of the 30 Day Plank Challenge, I do feel that my core is stronger, but I didn’t notice a visible difference. We all want abs of steel, but don’t get discouraged if you haven’t noticed a visible difference either! I promise that your muscles are so much stronger than they were on Day 1 regardless of the lack of a six-pack staring back at you in the mirror. Like I said in my last post, planking works best as an addition to the workouts you’re already doing and you should feel the difference in your posture and other exercises that you do. Maybe you’re walking a little taller? I know I am!

I’m going to continue planking as a part of my workout program and hope you’ll do the same. Let me know what you thought about the 30 Day Plank Challenge or if you’re excited about starting it! I hope you’ll continue to join me as I start a new challenge to get me out of my comfort zone next month!

Drum Roll, Please….

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Hello! If we haven’t met, I’ll tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Leigh, I’m 27 years old, and I’m on an adventure to find out what makes me tick – obviously, certain body organs play a role, but what really gets my blood pumping?

I was the awkwardly shy kid in elementary school who could be found in my room with a book instead of out playing and making friends. I was too shy to talk to strangers and too timid to try anything that I wouldn’t immediately excel at doing.

Now that I’m a fully-functioning adult (for the most part), it is my mission to not have to sit and ponder when people ask what my hobbies or interests are. There are so many intriguing hobbies and interests to be had! That’s why every month I’m going to leave the coziness of my comfort zone and try something NEW to challenge me physically, mentally, or spiritually (or a combination of the three), and keep track of it by using this blog.

My inspiration for this stems from a trip to Costa Rica in 2013. It was the first time I had left the country (unless you count a brief trip to Canada when I was young that I don’t remember and we can all admit that Canada is almost like staying in the United States). During the week I was in Costa Rica, I experienced a language barrier every time my friends and I ventured into town (the Spanish I took in high school only helped me order una más cervesa, por favor), rode my newfound favorite form of transportation- the ATV/4-wheeler, and defied my fear of heights by zip lining from mountain to mountain. I think being in a new atmosphere with a lot of friends also trying these things for the first time helped me tackle my fears and have the best vacation of my life. There are so many other things I’ve always wanted to do and learn like photography, yoga, sailing, and writing my own blog. If they’re anything similar to my experiences in Costa Rica, I’m going to have too many hobbies and interests to list in a couple of years!

Me zip lining hundreds of feet above the river below in Costa Rica!

Me zip lining hundreds of feet above the river below in Costa Rica!

I pulled out my inner-Kentucky and realized how awesome ATVs are - and ate a lot of dirt because I couldn't stop smiling.

I pulled out my inner-Kentucky and realized how awesome ATVs are – and ate a lot of dirt because I couldn’t stop smiling.

I’m so excited that you’re reading this and joining me on a journey that I wish I had started years ago! Hopefully “Learning to be Leigh” will help you realize that it’s never too late to find out what really makes you tick…besides your heart.

I would also love to hear what YOU have done that has pushed you outside of your comfort zone- whether for better or for worse! Please share your story in a comment below.