The Food and Workout tracking experiment – what an AHA-Moment!

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I haven’t tracked any food or workouts for 16 months!

SO WHAT? What’s the big deal?

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It is a huge deal once I tell you that I was bulimic and anorexic, had an obsessive approach to workouts and was tracking every pinch of salt or cinnamon!

That 16 months ago, I hit a wall. I was extremely tired and sick physically, ready to be hospitalized due to extreme bulimia. I seriously couldn’t hold a single meal. All due to the obsessive and distorted vision of my own body and of how I “should” look like to be loved, admired, appreciated and perceived as an amazing trainer or coach!

I tracked every single pinch of spices, salt and measured EVERYTHING obsessively for over 4 years (and when I couldn’t measure, I either didn’t eat or I purged to not track it). I tracked all activities, including workouts, calories burned, including cleaning, sex and who knows what, so I could subtract that from eaten food.

Pretty sick, isn’t it?

How did I manage to break that pattern? In this case, already a mental disorder?

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Imagine the situation when you hit the wall not the first time, but maybe 10th or 50th time and you are simply too tired, too sick and too depressive to keep going. Yet there is that “tiny, little, silent, almost not possible to hear” voice keeping you at the level of “let’s try, one more time, pleaseeeeeee”.
I hit that exact moment!

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In my book “The True Identity” [publishing Summer 2019] I wrote:

“November 2017, a day that started just like any of the others. (…) After yet another purging incident I went to a room where there was a huge mirror. For the last couple of months, I had avoided mirrors, hating what I saw. I didn’t know what made me look on this particular day but the image I saw this time wasn’t the extra small ‘fat’ girl but a person who was full of hatred, more hatred than anyone on this planet should be carrying.

The hate in my eyes was unbelievably huge. Words couldn’t fully express the view I saw.

(…) I have never seen my eyes in such deep darkness. They gazed straight at me and didn’t want to give up until I felt the hurt, they were showing me. They didn’t blink, holding me to the deep darkness of hate they expressed. The lightning coming from them was blinding me. They reminded me of how hateful I was. How ugly of a person I was. How worthless, miserable and pitiful I was.

I wanted to turn my head away from the image I saw. However, I simply couldn’t as someone was holding my head and telling me ‘look at yourself, look at who you have become, think about who you will be if you keep going along this path’.

My body tensed, my hands and fingers squeezing so hard that my knuckles went white. My fingers became impatient, wanting to start scratching my skin. I wanted to hurt myself, feel the pain on the physical side of it. I wanted to rip my skin away and keep scratching until I bled.

On that day the most magical phrase came out of my mouth.

‘I need help. I can’t do this by myself. Please help me’.

I cried as I realized that my stomach hurt. I was still hungry and I kept thinking that I shouldn’t eat anything anymore. I cried because deep inside of me I knew this is not the way it should be. I knew, in my heart, that this was not the true me. Deep inside of me, I knew, I had a mental eating disorder and that I could be cured.

I knew that there was no pill for it. The need for external validation, approval or feeling loved was not being helpful either.

The first thing I needed to do was to decide that enough is enough. Then I needed to ask for help.”

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So, fast forward, 16 months later, after not tracking a single spoon or sip of any food, I pulled up the app and … started again.
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But wait. This time I did it fully conscious, after thinking about it for a few days. I wanted to do it NOT for the sake of restricting my nutrition or putting myself back again in that mental, deprivation, restriction and obsessive mindset!

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I wanted to do that to test – myself, my ability to listen to my body, to see how my inner wisdom is guiding me and how that entire ‘tracking’ thing will make me feel.

**** Don’ take me wrong. I ask and encourage and even start the nutritional coaching with my clients from tracking. For the sake of building the awareness around what kind of food goes into their bodies, what type of foods are in their programs, what to eat and buy, and what foods make them feel bad or energized. It is also a way to create the habit of being aware of healthier food choices. However, I always make sure it is not getting into the obsessive addiction when my clients feel that they ‘need to’ or ‘should’ track because otherwise their worth is diminished. That is not the case and I monitor that closely! ****

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And AHA-MOMENT came with that experiment!

  • I felt pissed off at first – how come the app and the device tell me what MY body needs and how MY body should eat?
  • Then I felt scattered and little confused as for how the algorithms in these apps are made to create the ‘perfect’ calories in-and-out plan so people can follow it and feel better or.. worthy – that was not what I wanted the app to tell me! That is now what the app’s role is anyways!
  • Additionally, I ignored the app. According to it in the middle of the day, when I was hungry and wanted to give my body healthy foods, the app told me to stop because I was having too much of that and too little of that. Oh well, I turned it off and followed the wiser wizard I have ever known – MY BODY!

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At the end of the day, I know that tracking taught me something and that it’s not anymore my thing.

It taught me:

  • Discipline
  • Awareness around foods and nutrition
  • Consistency
  • Perseverance
  • Commitment
  • Creating a daily habit to journal.

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It is not anymore my thing because:

  • I listen to my body more
  • I feel what my body needs
  • I am aware of my healthy choices
  • I am very tuned in to my body
  • I am aligned and confident with who I am
  • I am confident with my food choices
  • I am into health, not restrictions
  • I know my worth
  • I don’t need an app to tell me all of the above!!!!

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And after you read this blog, all I want YOU to get out of it is that YOU too can live that way.

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Because I believe that restrictions, deprivation, obsessions, dieting, over-training and seeking external validation of self-worth never worked and will never work.

Until one taps within their own bodies and create the lifestyle where the authentic wellbeing, with physical, mental, emotional & spiritual health, is the priority.

No app, no diet, no magic pill, no wrap, no quick fix are the solutions. At least not sustainable.

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Your job is your choice!
My job is to bring awareness to the world and to YOU!

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I talked about that on my beYOUtiful Show episode #22. So worth to listen!
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P.S. I am so grateful for that experiment and that realization!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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The apps for my physical, spiritual and mental health.

It is so weird for me to write this blog just in the middle of digital detox, with hugely limited time on social media. So even using my phone for more than calling or texting is limited as well.

Yet, I can see the power of some apps I have downloaded and I use, and which totally serve their purpose.

That’s why I decided to answer your questions and share with you 9 apps I am using for my mental, physical and spiritual health.

Physical health

MyFitnessPal

https://www.myfitnesspal.com/

I have used that app for over 4 years. Yes, it is amazing at tracking almost everything: food, nutrition, macros, calories, workouts, and your fitness progress. It has a huge database with foods from all over the world – believe me, I am Polish and I eat foods from all over Europe. It can scan also barcode of all foods you buy. It has an extremely easy way to type in your own recipe with giving you the exact breakdown of macros, calories and whatever you wish in the serving size you provide. It helped me in every way on my fitness path to the bodybuilding stage, to the professional racing and beyond. However, I would lie if I wouldn’t say that this type of tracking may be very addictive and obsessive. So please use your own discernment and use it as a tool, not as an indicator of your worth!

Clue

https://helloclue.com/

This is an app to track my menstrual cycle. I simply love it. You can use it to track what the app is suggesting, like emotionality, mental state, pains, temperature, cravings, fitness activity. You can also add many more options to track. It gives me a very clear picture where I am with my cycle, and the data are securely saved in their system so I can log in from any device I want. For those of us who are nerds, a beautiful thing about this app is that the Clue Team does a lot of research (Clue Research Innovation Program) and blogging about actual data and information related to menstrual cycles. By visiting their page, you can read so much more, ask questions and find the help you may need.

Kindara

https://www.kindara.com/

Kindara is the fertility awareness app, used primarily to monitor ovulation and fertile window. It is used as a natural fertility method. You can track as many data as you want, including the most important for its role: cervical discharge and body temperature. I use it mostly as a visual version of the Clue app, to see my body’s physical function. It is so easy to use, and so colorful 😊

Mental health

Spirit Junkie by Gabby Bernstein

https://gabbybernstein.com/shop/spirit-junkie-app/

I love this app. Very simple yet so mentally grounding and reminding me about taking care of the hygiene of my own thoughts. Every day, at 11:11am I get a beautiful mantra which brings me back to the present moment, allows me to take few breaths in, and be grateful for who I am and what I have at that moment. Definitely, a powerful tool to use for your mental self-care.  

Pocket Casts

https://www.pocketcasts.com/

That is my iTunes version for Android. I use it to collect all my podcasts I want to listen to. It allows you to download them to your phone to listen to in the off-line situation. As an Android person, I am very loyal to this app. It is easy, very clear and well organized. It is a paid app, but so worth the price.

Spotify

https://www.spotify.com/us/

Shake it, shake it! This is my ‘dance, move and fun’ app. Everyone knows it. It is an app to listen to all the music – worldwide. What I love about it is that you can create your own playlist and then share it with anyone you want. You can send it to your girlfriend so you both can shake that booty, or to your client as a tool for the transformation they are working on. Music is an amazing remedy and energy healer!

BTW, this is one of my favorite playlists:

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2zG8pzvLSrYgY4lfvQdbdW

Spiritual health

Insight Timer

https://insighttimer.com/

I think, in my humble opinion, that this is the best meditation and relaxation app ever. It not only has guided meditations, but also relaxation music of any kind and talks on a wide range of topics in the spirituality field. It offers a variety of courses, tools to relax, ease anxiety or sleep better. The artists are amazing and from all over the world, so the app offers also exposure to different cultures. You can bookmark what you like, rate the experience and even submit questions directly to the artist. I use it for guided meditation or as simple as background music to my own practice or during work. I use it to do my Yoga Nidra routine and for my ceremonies and rituals. This app almost never closes on my phone. Another wonderful fact about it is that you meditate with thousands of other people at the same time and you can let them know about that. Wow, the world is truly getting smaller and smaller. How magical is that! Definitely, worth of your try.

1 Giant Mind

https://www.1giantmind.com/

I downloaded this meditation app to participate on 12-day course on learning how to meditate. After that the app offers another challenge – 30 days. I love the simple way of guiding me through the process. Even though I may be little more advanced, but wow, this 12-day course taught me so much. Well, we are learning all our lives, right? The website offers also podcast and…. the certification program to become a meditation teacher! How cool is that!

Bliss

https://bliss31.com/

This app is a very cool tool for those of you who don’t journal via the classic way, pen-to-paper, but rather want something digital. I used it for a while and I actually adopted a few ideas from the app and transferred them to my written journal. I personally believe that there is real magic, intrapersonal communication, and processing while writing thoughts and reflections on the paper. And I am a true ambassador of that way of journaling. However, I know that not everyone may be able to either carry their journal with them or spend extra time writing. This app is very beautiful, and have many options to bring your attention to the present moment and reflect. Go ahead and try it! You won’t regret!

Hey, that would be it!

I am so curious which apps are you using for your physical, mental and spiritual health? 
Or which one did you download after reading this blog?

I’d love to hear from you, let me know either below in the comment or on my social media here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iskra22

FB Sacred beYOUtiful group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/beYOUtifulbyIzabela/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/beyoutiful_spartanlady/

Nut Butter Breakthrough

Do you live in the reality where you were told that some things in this world are just bad? Do you interact with people who constantly bombard you with judgment and opinions? Do you create your own world around those notions, thoughts, stories and beliefs that you gathered during your life, and that are not necessarily true?

Where am I headed to with those questions? What does that have to do with nut butter?

 

Oh, let me tell you my story.

I have never shared this before.

The entire world believes that being a bodybuilder, looking wonderfully lean and muscular, fit and athletic, is the healthiest thing someone could get involved in. There is no bigger misinterpretation than that. The myth of “healthy” bodybuilding can be easily debunked. I did look awesome, the best ever in my life, that’s true. Have I worked hard? Oh, heck yes, the hardest “job” I have ever done was getting ready for that stage. The limitations, deprivations, rules and what’s good and what’s totally not good or allowed, losing the social life, having no time for anything but gym, are the major “bonuses” to it. Moreover, I consider these even better: insomnia during the night, sleepiness during the day, lack of period, total lack of energy, adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism and extreme food intolerance.

What I found the most incredible during that time is the way to look at the food and the body. Being at 7% body fat on the stage is an indication of your well-done work, and then gaining 2 pounds is considered not good anymore.

But where did I lose the main character of this story, nut butter? The cheat meal or carbing up by eating pizza, donuts and the crappiest food on this planet, was considered “good” and “beneficial” for your gains. However, eating healthy, full of good nutrients and good fats, nut butter, was the worst thing you could even think of, totally sabotaging your progress. Having this type of “cheat meal” was making me fat, over night actually, and thanks to it I most likely wouldn’t be able to step on the stage.

Do you follow me? Do you see the story behind it? Do you see the misleading beliefs here?

 

Where am I headed with that now?

Here it is. The bodybuilding world doesn’t talk about, but 85% girls start with it because they either have already underlying eating disorders and body image issues, or they end up with that after pursuing that journey. And I was on both sides. Yes, I am a girl who suffered bulimia and anorexia as a teenager, in mid and late 20s, and of course the “exciting” disorder became more dangerous after competitions. Every single pound is an obsession, every single bite of food is making me fat overnight. Every single spoon of that freaking nut butter is sabotaging all my athletic performance. But wait, what if I eat pizza, or donuts – then I should be fine, right?!

 

Do you see where I am getting to?

The messed-up stories and beliefs someone told me during that time, create the person I am now. And if you are me, you hate your body, you binge, then purge and hate yourself even more. And the vicious cycle is never going to end unless you stop yourself, you literally get yourself into the silent place, remove the worldly distractions and ask yourself the major question: what problem, emotions, pain, feelings, or issue am I trying to numb with food or any other addiction?

The root of that addiction was somewhere deep inside of me. Exactly like the root of my love-hate feelings toward a simple food like nut butter. Why was I loving it and hating it just after I ate it? Why was I craving it, even though I wasn’t hungry, so I could purge afterwards? Why was I even buying it, if it was making me so overly fat?? WHY?

Because the root of that was simple: someone told me that this type of food is making me fat. That nut butter will make me weak. That this food will make me perform bad. That thanks to this food I better stop pursuing whatever athletic and sport goals I had. Because I am going to fail…if I keep eating it. I am not exaggerating this story. It is my real, deep and true story.

 

So, if you still reading, listen: dig deep inside of your soul and heart, allow yourself to feel it, to think, to be in the moments with yourself, your memories – even if they are painful. Pain is the best teacher we could ever have in this world.

Use it wisely!

 

You got this beYOUtiful! ❤

 

 

Step by Step… [The Emotional and Mental Memoir from Ultra Beast Spartan Race]

This is not a recap of an Ultra Beast Race. You can read those elsewhere. This is a mental and emotional piece about somebody’s inner world.

This is not a blog with ideas and tips on how to train. It is not about how to eat and prepare for one of the toughest obstacle endurance races. This is an expression of a soul screaming after facing an unknown field of defeat and disqualification.

The “Ultra Beast Spartan Race” is one of the longest obstacle races in the OCR series. What does that mean for an overachieving athlete like me? It means there is going to be a mental challenge. It inevitably leads to the question of “to be or not be” in the game.

 

Weeks before….

In the weeks leading up to that moment, I often found myself overthinking and over-analyzing the upcoming race. Of course, this would be interspersed with moments of calmness, and times of not thinking about the race at all. As a professional athlete, business owner, and life coach, I have learned firsthand how overthinking will never result in anything good. It only leads to fear, stress and demotivation. Overanalyzing is even worse; it creates an overpowering fear of losing control. I am the last one to predict the weather, the course, the obstacles, and most importantly: to predict my own body’s reaction and feelings.

I find it very relaxing to not think about the race at all. Yes, “spacing out” can irritate the ones who love you most. But guess what? I love spacing out. I bask in the moments when I allow the universe to think on my behalf. I love not knowing what the future may hold. I love to be at peace, doing what I do every day: eat healthy, train hard, stretch, rest, and sleep.

 

The night before….

That day before the Ultra Beast was one of the most serene days of my life. All my work was done. I was up to date on updating my clients’ plans. Everything was taken care of. The trip was planned, I had checked the weather. Even the last-minute gels had been purchased and packed. I was ready.

I decided to go on a walk. I was fully present. I looked up at the sky to see the stars, ever grateful for that precious moment! Silence is the best medicine for me before such a race.

Every professional athlete takes time to just sit with their own thoughts.

I shut down all the voices and all the stress.  This is the best anyone can do the night before a big race!

 

On race day….

Morning brought silence. With a carbed-up breakfast and mental focus, I knew what I wanted most in that moment. I thought: There is nothing else but me.

Me, the way I am now. Completely present, two hours before the start. Me, the most athletic, the best prepared, the healthiest person. I can face the unknown. All will be good, because I will take it step by step.

I did everything within my power, right? I am the strongest I could possibly be, right? I prepared every single detail for this race, right? Yes, I did.

Let’s do this!

 

The Race….

Start, slow start…

I relinquished my inner-will to chase the rest of the competitors. I kept repeating: “Pace yourself”. It soon became my mantra for the race.

“When the breathing peaks up, all I do is pace myself.”

Suddenly, I recalled everything I ever read or heard about the importance of breathing. How successful of a tool it is for stress management. Was I stressed? Not particularly, but I was very focused. I wasn’t going to let any breathing struggles get in my way. “You got this” and “keep going” was mentioned frequently by those passing me.

Yes, my legs keep moving step by step. “There is no other way but forward” my mind exclaims. “You got this, beYOUtiful!” I said to myself, as I approached a steep hill.

Step by step. I removed any thoughts about the obstacles that were ahead of me.

“That is the next step, let me focus on the uphill right now.”

I relinquished all care about the future. I knew that all I had to focus on was my next step. I had brief bursts of energy, helping me refocus, recharge.

Suddenly, I was battling an obstacle. My mind went blank. I swiftly reminded myself that I was moving forward. In my mind, “burpee” became synonymous with “obstacle”. I thought: “I will not allow ‘burpees’ to disturb my stubborn Taurus personality.”

Do you remember saying from the movie, “Dori”?

“Just keep swimming.”

Exactly. Keep moving. Keep swimming. Keep running!

 

Suddenly, my body was telling me something….

Was it a pinch in the knee? I tried to decipher the feeling. “Listen knee, we have a second lap to do. We’ve got this. Just cooperate with me and stop fighting, ok?”

As the miles added up, I felt my body in places I wasn’t expecting. I tried to reassure myself. I had never had issues with my ankles and knees before.

“Let me change the way I run. Let’s try to slow down and let refocus on the course. I know my body, all will be fine.”

As I made it through another obstacle, I thought, “That was easy, which means I’m a badass! Even the cold doesn’t bother me as much as others that I am slowly passing. Wow, I prepared really well.”

I had just finished facing the biggest fear of my life. Swimming didn’t kill me physically, but it broke me mentally.

As I plunged in to the icy water, I tried to my best to have a positive mindset. But, unfortunately, the panic attack was stronger.

“That’s ok, it’s in the past. Let’s do burpees and move on. I’ve got a second lap to do and I need to have a serious conversation with my body parts.”

 

Downhill…

I know the difference between pain and discomfort. I have an incredibly high pain tolerance. But this pain was excruciating.

“Knee, please, please don’t do this to me now. Why are you actually hurting? I’ve been so kind to you. I’ve been pacing myself this entire time.”

My pace began to slow.

Still, I moved on, step by step. But I felt it. No, it wasn’t pain. It was fear, creeping in to my thoughts. I had worked so hard on letting my fear go, just days before the race.

“Go away!!!!”

As I pictured my ligaments tearing and visualized tripping and rolling down this hill, my inner self shouted “NO, NO, NO!!!”

But I’m stubborn. The overachiever, the badass, the winner.

 

I had to decide….

The pain became unbearable. Do you know those pain scales in the hospital, with “1” being the best and “10” being the worst? I was at a 9, maybe 10, and it brought tears to my eyes. It was so intense that I could barely hold my focus as I limped. A fight between my inner-worlds ensued.

“Didn’t you accomplish 12 hours of the brutal Hurricane Heat event? Do you remember what you were telling yourself there? Yes, so keep repeating: step, step, step, step. Don’t think about giving up. Just: step, step, step, step. Shut up and move on. Step, step, step. This is your dream. Step, step, step. This is your life. Step, step, step.”

I couldn’t take another.

“Please don’t do that to me! Don’t fade, please. I can go, I can move….”

Having to give away your inner power hurts more than any knee ever could. I had to decide to let my partner continue through the race without me. I felt like I let myself down, and I had never envisioned this would happen!

 

Afterwards….   

I felt empty, I felt lost, I felt disempowered. I had lost myself somewhere on the 15-mile mark.

Someone else must have decided to DNF on my behalf. It was not the Izabela I know. She never gives up. She never whines. She never uses pain as an excuse! The Izabela I know lives by the saying: “be comfortable with uncomfortable”. It was someone other than me that decided to quit. I know I could’ve gone on and finished it!

But no, continuing with that pain wouldn’t have been possible.

The Izabela I know is also caring of herself and others. She is supportive. She inspires and motivates herself and other. She might be unstoppable, but she also knows when it’s time to practice self-care. She may have the strength to break ice, but she also knows how to melt ice with self-love. She knows that dreams do come true. They just come true during the right time, at the right place.

 

Everything happens for a reason.

 

You got this beYOUtiful! ❤

….. step by step ……

12 Weeks Important to Create a Habit of Lifestyle Changes, Healthy Choices and Balanced Emotions

Challenge Up 12-week program: http://beyoutiful.fit/challengeup/. Make sure to sign up before January 4th, 2018. The kick off of the program is on that day!

Wait, 12 weeks is too long? Why not 21 days as everyone believed it should take?

Some people say that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. But according to a research done by Phillipa Lally, a psychology researcher, reveals that it actually takes about 66 days to form a new habit.

The researchers examined the habits of 96 people for a 12-week period. Every person was asked to select one habit to adopt for that period.

They reported each day if they were able to do what they choose and how they felt about it. The habits were things like drinking 2 liters of water every day to running 15 minutes before dinner. After the 12-weeks period elapsed the conclusion was that it takes a minimum of two months to build a new habit.

Why 12 weeks?

12 weeks is adequate to create good habits such as exercising or cutting out junk foods from the diet. Our fitness program gears towards a comprehensive plan that involves customized nutrition plans, personalized coaching and support from a private community.

Our 12-week program will be systematic and help you to make healthy changes one step at a time. Going through this program will boost your self-esteem and make you feel good about yourself and your body once more. You not only get a fit and sexy body but also your emotions are transformed to the better.

Not so perfect but…

The best part is you will still be able to build the habit that you want. It doesn’t matter if you mess up one or two times, you can still pick yourself up and start again. There is no reason to judge yourself that you couldn’t manage to transform yourself in 21 days.

Remember that you don’t have to be perfect. Being human means making mistakes and learning from them. Give yourself a chance to make mistakes and treat failure as a learning experience and develop strategies to get back on track immediately.

 

Embracing your long journey to good health

Remember that you don’t need to rush the process. You need enough time to train and be fit and 12 weeks is perfect. Remember that achieving the body of your dreams is not an event, it is a lifelong process. It took time for you to add weight, and it may take more time to shed the extra weight.

You have developed the unhealthy behaviors over a long period. Therefore, it may take time to replace unhealthy habits with healthy ones. Many people find it difficult when they try to change too much unhealthy behaviors too fast. To ensure that you succeed in your quest, focus on one goal or change at a time. After you have a well-established healthy routine, you can try work on another goal that works toward the overall change you’re striving for.

Nevertheless, you have to embrace the process and commit to it. Understanding this will make it easier for you to manage your expectations. You will commit to small workout plans rather than a high-intensity workout that will cause burnouts and cause you to give up because you expect huge changes that will not take place if you don’t do it right. And the right way is to be patient. Don’t pressure yourself to rush this.

At the end of the day, you have goals that you want to achieve. And it doesn’t matter how long you take, but that you will actually get the results that you want. Habits take a longer time to form and all you need is 12 weeks of personalized coaching and nutrition guidance alongside a support community for support and accountability.

What more will you need? Really.

Sign up for the program and change your life for the better.

 

You got this beYOUtiful! ❤