Rock Climbing, Hot Yoga, & Line Dancing

Rock Climbing, Hot Yoga, & Line Dancing

An avid rock climber, coworker, and good friend of mine suggested I go to Vital with her and check it out. I had only been rock climbing once before and I love it! The gym was packed with people of all ages and climbing abilities.

The gym is conveniently located downtown on N State Street. The top level of the gym is a lounge with a fireplace and comfy chairs creating a warm and welcoming environment to enter into. Downstairs is the large climbing area. The climbing walls contain courses of all different levels of difficulty ranging from easy to very difficult based on a color scale. This makes it very easy to understand, test, and challenge your abilities.

My favorite part about this gym is that it is accessible 24/7! Public hours are between 11am and 9pm every day however the gym is accessible to members at all other hours, by typing in a door passcode. Day passes are $12 but monthly memberships are $55.
I had such a great time climbing with Annie and experiencing what Vital has to offer. I look forward testing out a membership in the spring!

Another coworker suggested I attend a hot yoga session at Bikram Yoga with her. Located downtown and right next to Mallard’s Ice Cream, Bikram Yoga is a very warm and welcoming studio. All of the instructors and classmates were friendly and their passion for yoga filled the studio.

Similar to most yoga studios, there are a lot of rules and procedures to follow. Some include not wearing any shoes past a certain point and absolutely no talking as soon as you move from the lobby, into the studio. These rules are great because they keep the studio both clean and peaceful.

Hot yoga is very challenging, especially with an hour and a half session. Bikram Yoga’s instructors are so great at constantly encouraging everyone and reinforcing that it is always ok to listen to your own body and take breaks when necessary.
Although memberships to this studio are a little pricy, they have a great 1st time students deal. For $20 you get 5 days of consecutive classes. This allows one to explore the studio, multiple classes, and instructors before committing for a long period of time.

Although hot yoga isn’t my ideal workout choice, experiencing Bikram Yoga’s studio and having a great time with my coworker was totally worth the burn.

One activity my roommates frequently participate in is line dancing! Ten Mile Grange Hall in Lynden is the home of Western Line Dance. Every Friday night people of all types are invited to pull on their cowboy boots and dance the night away. Class times are based on levels of ability starting with beginners at 6:00pm. After learning the basic moves in the beginner’s class, students are welcome to continue to dance through the intermediate class starting at 7:00pm.

Classes are only $5 a session and are a great way to kick off your Friday nights! After a couple hours of dancing and laughing with friends, you won’t even realize you got a great workout in!

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My New Favorite Eats

My New Favorite Eats

After discovering all the health benefits of quinoa, I started exploring ways to fit it in my diet and make it enjoyable. I tried instant quinoa flakes as a healthier alternative to oatmeal. It was less than unsuccessful. I then tried to become a quinoa cooking expert which turned out to be nearly impossible for me. It was always either too crunchy or too soggy, and always took way too long to cook. Then I discovered that the Food Co-op downtown has precooked quinoa in their premade lunch cold case that is cheap and most importantly, fluffy and delicious! I started getting creative and discovered that it can be used just like pasta. I started mixing all sorts of veggies, dressings, and sauces to create and unlimited amount of options. My favorite is a southwestern style salad made with corn, beans, bell peppers, lime juice, cilantro, cherry tomatoes, and more. I also made a Thai curry inspired dish as well as a Mediterranean one.
My latest health food kick is Shakeology. A meal replacement mix that comes in all different flavors. I chose to test out chocolate and I have not been disappointed. The idea is to replace one shake with one drink a day to not only cut back on caloric intake, but also to make sure your body is receiving all the necessary vitamins and nutrients it needs. Although it is a little pricy upfront, each shake estimates to be around $4. One shake has the nutrients of 3 cups of lettuce, 4 cups raw mushrooms, 1 shot of wheat grass, 1 bowl of exotic fruit, 3 raw onions, 7 raw carrots, 4 cups nonfat yogurt, 4 cups red radishes, 4 cups raw broccoli, 1 cup peas and 10 cups raw cauliflower; all whose combined cost estimates around $41. The drink mix also comes with a recipe book and an assigned Beachbody coach who can give you advice to help you reach your goals or answer any questions you might have. My favorite recipe so far has been the chocolate peanut butter shake, however I am excited to try the espresso one tomorrow. Drinking these shakes has already been so helpful in staying full and on track with my goals while on the run constantly.

A very close friend brought one of my new favorite treats to my attention. Originally blogged about by Monica Matheny, fresh oatmeal smoothies had me very intrigued! Made in mason jars, Monica places oatmeal, milk, chia seeds, yogurt and whatever fruit of flavor combination desired and refrigerates until ready to eat. I tested this treat out to find that I wasn’t too crazy about the soggy oatmeal texture that takes place. I wasn’t ready to give up on this idea though. I decided to take the oatmeal out and instead put more fruit in to make them more flavorful and healthy. Let’s just say I am in love! This is such a great breakfast item, that you can make the night before and take on the go in the morning. They will also be a refreshing treat in the hopefully warm months to come and can be tailored to any palate or craving!

Here is the link to Monica’s original oatmeal smoothie post:

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Unbridled Martial Arts

Unbridled Martial Arts

When Kaylee Nightingale, the director of the Western Faculty and Wellness Program, suggested that I try out a good friend’s mixed martial arts gym, I was very skeptical. I had no experience in kickboxing, self-defense, wrestling, you name it! I decided to try something new and go outside of my comfort zone since that’s what this quarter is all about. It has turned out to be one of the best experiences I have had so far this quarter!

I ended up taking three stand-up fighting classes, one weapons and grappling class, as well as a kettlebell/TRX fitness class. My first class was a stand-up fighting one that focused on punching, kneeing, kicking, and blocking. I came to class early and met the owner Rob, filled out paperwork, learned all about the gym, and how things work. I was fortunate that another student, Kelsie, was just starting the program at the same time and we got to learn the ropes together.
Class started with a 5-10 minute warm up; it did a great job of getting all my muscles stretched out and ready to go. We then went into punching where Rob took Kelsie and I aside and taught us all the basics. I loved that whenever Rob taught something, he not only taught what to do, but also how to do it and ultimately why how to apply it in a real life situation. He often referenced to self-defense and how someone may attack. We wrapped up the class with the basics of kneeing, blocking and my favorite, kicking!

At my first class I was very cautious and my movements felt awkward and weak. After my last class I felt more confidant, coordinated, and powerful. Most importantly, I truly felt as though I could defend myself in a potential encounter, which was an incredible feeling!

The second class I took was the weapons and grappling class. It was so eye opening! I learned very basic weapon fighting and knife self defense which are great skills to have. I also learned how to grapple or ground fight. I always had friends participating in wrestling and never really understood their fascination until I was on the ground and learned all sorts of take down moves. Ground fighting is a key part in self-defense and I’m so glad I was able to incorporate some important moves into my new and expanding knowledge on the subject.

Rob is also a certified CrossFit Kettlebell and TRX instructor and offers a kettlebell/TRX fitness class Saturday mornings, open to all students and their friends. This class was one of my favorite fitness classes I have ever taken! I loved working with the kettlebells and was thankful to be taught a lifelong fitness method by someone that had really knew what they were doing.

Not only were Rob, his teaching methods, and his classes great, his students were amazing! Everyone was so welcoming and nonjudgmental to someone that had never really punched anything in their entire life. I am especially grateful for Brittany and Keri who were so patient and encouraging when working one on one with me. I sincerely recommend Unbridled Martial Arts as a great option for anyone looking to improve self-defense skills, get in shape, and to really just have a great time. Memberships are affordable, and the more classes you attend, the lower your monthly rate ends up being. The gym is also located close to campus and classes are offered multiple times a week to accommodate different schedules. I am so thankful for Rob and his incredible group of students for taking me in for a couple weeks and changing my perspective on the sport completely. The best part about this experience, is knowing that one day, this experience could save my life!

Here is the link to Unbridled Martial Art’s website so you can get all the information needed to get started!

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Synergy Training Studio

Synergy Training Studio

I discovered Synergy Training Studio through a couple of my coworkers who invited me to tag along and check it out. I had no idea what to expect besides knowing it was in a commercial condo and hearing that my coworkers swore a lot during the work out and were insanely sore the next day.  And that’s exactly what I found out to be true!

First of all, personal trainer and owner Lisa Young is incredible! She is so personable yet will push you past your mental limits while encouraging you the whole way. She believes in each individual person, which makes me want to strive to do my absolute best. She will let you do whatever it takes to finish strong, whether that means swearing or screaming, she is right there to push you through the pain.

The gym is located in Bellingham just north of Barkley Village. It is in a commercial condo and is everything that the picture shows with the addition of a bathroom. The gym seems very small but the workouts that Lisa can create in that small space will leave you wanting to lay in bed moaning for a couple hours.

The type of workout we did consisted of timed stations with four different exercises, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds to rest and switch to the next. We did two complete cycles followed by a quick water break and then two more. After two cycles she switched up the exercises and we repeated the process. It doesn’t sound too bad but let me tell you, it’s killer! Some exercises we did were squats with weights, all types of pushups from regular to inclined, burpees, plank on a medicine ball, sit ups with weights, and so many more. After many rounds, we finished with a series of sprints with a medicine ball above our head, jumping jacks, push-ups and finally a one-minute plank with 10lbs on our back.

This isn’t the only type of work out Lisa will have you do. She is constantly switching things up to make the most out of your workout and helps you reach your goals.

My favorite part about Lisa’s program is how flexible she is. You can create whatever schedule you want and can text her at anytime to let her know your availability and set up a time. You can also bring friends and work out together which makes her killer workouts more enjoyable. Sessions are priced incomparable to any other personal training, which is incredible. Plus, I walked away feeling as though every muscle in my body was going to be sore the next day which is the best feeling ever! I hadn’t received a workout with those kinds of results since high school volleyball two-a-days! I felt accomplished and so proud of myself.

I completely recommend both Lisa and her program and can’t wait to continue working out with her and seeing some major results! She is an amazing trainer as well as an amazing person. Here is a link to her Facebook page so you can get started too!

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Fitness Evolution

Fitness Evolution

I checked out Fitness Evolution towards the beginning of the quarter and have been a member for over a month now. I was instantly drawn in by the upscale facility and modern fitness options as well as the seemingly low cost monthly membership.

Fitness evolution seemed like my dream gym. They offer a wide variety of group fitness classes, on site personal training, physical therapy, massage therapy, smoothie bar, tanning, child care, you name it! They seem to have it all.

What sealed the deal for me and put a pen in my hand to sign and initial on the million dotted lines, was the “fitevo cinema”. They have a state of the art cinema room designed with treadmills and bike machines as chairs, to resolve the couch potato in all of us. They have a movie schedule where they play a different movie on repeat every day so you can work out while you enjoy your flick. It looks and feels just like a movie theater that, in theory is great, but after using it a few times I quickly realized its many drawbacks to go with the rest of the gym’s.

The cinema room is very dark which makes using treadmills complicated and dangerous since you can’t see any of the buttons. I tried running fast at one point and when I needed to stop, I couldn’t find the button and tripped and almost fell. They have a monthly movie schedule but very few of them I had ever heard of or was interested in. Once I find one I am interested in, it’s impossible to know when the movie will start because they play on repeat. I find myself always walking in the middle or near the end. To me, the cinema sounded great and got me hooked on becoming a member but isn’t realistic.

I’m not a fan of the gym overall for many reasons. I think it’s great that they offer so many services all at one location however, that comes with a cost. They seem to have a low monthly membership however if you want to add amenities such as group fitness classes, the cinema, tanning, etc., it continues to increase that monthly cost. There is also a yearly membership fee of $39.99 that is charged after just 2 months. Of course then if you want to receive personal training or massage services, you are just looking at ridiculous prices.

The equipment is all fairly new and updated, which is great! The clientele seem young and in shape which can feel a little intimidating at times. The layout of the gym makes me very uncomfortable. The weights are all located on the first floor and the cardio machines overlook this area from the second floor. Everything is open and I find myself naturally looking at people lifting weights when I was on a cardio machine because it’s hard not to when they are right in front of you. Conversely, I feel like I am being looked at when I am in the weight area, which makes me feel self-conscious.

Overall, Fitness Evolution is a high-class gym for a high-class budget. You can get everything you can need and dream of from a gym when you walk through their doors, it’s just not the gym for my budget or me.

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Bellingham Fitness

Bellingham Fitness

One of my main goals this quarter was to check out various gyms, programs, classes and fun ways to get in shape around the Bellingham area. I started by checking out a few local gyms and happened to have found what I believe to be the best gym in town. My incredible experience with Bellingham Fitness was completely unexpected and quite frankly took me by surprise!

I casually walked in one morning and was greeted by the receptionist. I mentioned my situation briefly, told her about the blog and wanting to see what the gym was about. She was very friendly and had me take a seat to wait for an available trainer to show me around. As I waited I saw many people come and go, some young and in very good shape, others the polar opposite. I was intrigued to see people in all different stages of life, comfortable working out side by side.

After waiting for about ten minutes, the receptionist apologizes, leaves, and returns with one of the owners, Todd. He greets me warmly and starts showing me around. Within the first minute of hearing Todd talk, I could sense his passion and pride. He showed me the equipment, the spa area that includes a hot tub as well as a sauna and steam room, the group fitness room, the children’s center, and finally the personal training area. He asked me a little about myself and why I am writing this blog and after telling him my story, he excused himself and came back handing me a free one month access to the gym and two free personal training sessions so I could fully experience what they have to offer. I was shocked and left the gym feeling cared for and excited to go back!

The main aspects of this gym that I truly fell in love with were the personal training program and the trainers themselves. The program they use is called Thrive and is rated the top training program by Men’s Health Magazine. The main focus is personal safety and wellbeing. The exercises you do are tailored for not only your own goals and needs, but also to make sure you are not hurting yourself in any way. The program also comes with a nutrition plan and cardio program to get the best results possible. It is not a short term, get fit quick gimmick but instead is designed to be carried out for an extended period of time in order to change one’s lifestyle and teach the tools necessary to have a healthy future.

My first training session was with Josh Martensen who is a WWU graduate and just an all around genuine person. He was friendly and made me feel comfortable from the beginning. He started by asking me about my goals, interests and exercise habits. He measured my weight and skinfolds to calculate my percent body fat. He then had me do all sorts of physical tasks such as push-ups and stretches to find out my body’s strengths and weaknesses. After the initial assessment he took me through the Thrive training process that starts with foam rolling and continues through stretching, muscle activation, power exercises, core and strength, and finally a two minute intense cardio workout they refer to as burn. The work out was great and I had definitely worked up a sweat by the end of it. Josh was so awesome and not only instructed me on what to do but educated me on why he was having me do it in the first place.

My second training session was with Nicole Huard who is also a WWU graduate and whose fun and lively personality is absolutely infectious. We went through the same six-step process but she changed up the exercises, which kept the workout new and exciting. Nicole was always there for encouragement and made sure my body was always in the proper alignment so that I would not only get the most out of each exercise, but that I wouldn’t strain any muscles I shouldn’t be.

One of my favorite parts of this personal training environment is that you are exercising around other clients and it’s not just a typical one on one session. Working around others pushed me to go even harder. I also didn’t feel like I was being intensely watched every second yet I was getting advice, corrections and encouragement when needed and wanted.

When the work out was over I was sad to go. I had such a great experience with Bellingham Fitness. If I wasn’t already struggling to pay for life’s expenses, there’s no way I wouldn’t sign up for this amazing program with the best training staff I have ever come across. They are so passionate about what they do and compassionate for the people the do it for. I strongly encourage you all to stop by and meet Josh and Nicole personally and witness the amazing program they have to offer you. I am so grateful for the opportunity I was given and I can’t wait for all of you to experience it as well!

Love you Bellingham Fitness!!

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Coffee and Treats!

Coffee and Treats!

If you are like me and a coffee addict, you constantly find yourself in a coffee shop with one of the hardest decisions you’ll have to make that day; what are you going to drink and will you give into those goodies which are always mouthwatering and tempting? As a barista at Woods Coffee, this struggle occurs for hours a day. Fortunately, being so familiar with the drinks and the treats, I have discovered ways to get the most out of your cravings and caffeine necessities without ruining your entire day.

Let’s start with the drinks. If you are just stopping by for a quick coffee date with a friend or coworker and looking for a drink just because, go straight towards the tea menu. Not only is tea healthier, but it will cut the cost of your date in half. You can get any tea iced or if you chose hot, you can always go back for more free hot water giving you at least two drinks in one. Depending on the tea you can get a caffeine boost or not. If you are looking for more of a foamy latte sensation, try a tea misto. Tea mistos are simply your choice of tea with about 1/3 steamed milk of your choice. This will increase the cost slightly yet is much cheaper then a latte and only 1/3 the milk. Be careful with London Fogs as quite a bit of vanilla syrup is added.

If the coffee taste is what you are craving, then I have many tips for you. One can get very creative with drip coffee in adding all sorts of flavors and cream substitutions. Not only is drip coffee about half the price, but since it is brewed with water it will be much fewer calories as well. Espresso is my favorite and what most people look for with its slightly higher caffeine content and smooth, powerful taste. Flavored lattes and mochas are heavy and can leave one quickly hyped on too much sugar with ones daily calorie allotment quickly diminishing by the sip. Not to mention the homemade whipped cream that most coffee shops make have more calories, sugar, and fat in one dollop then should be legal.

The best coffee shop advice I can give is become best friends with the Americano. Americanos are espresso shots poured on top of water, a close relative to drip coffee. Americanos typically come with an extra shot of espresso when compared to the same size as a latte or mocha and yet cost less! You can always switch up the flavor and add a splash of milk or cream to give a more smooth taste and you can get them hot or iced.

If a latte or mocha is your number one, there is always a way to make it healthier. Ask for ½ the flavor or sugar free syrup instead. Try a whole milk alternative such as nonfat or 1%. At Woods Coffee we have many lactose alternatives such as soy, almond and coconut milk. Almond milk is the healthiest option of the three based on calorie, sugar and fat content. Beware of choosing soymilk as a substitution at both Woods and Starbucks. It is actually vanilla soymilk and is loaded with sugar!

If a blended or frozen drink is what you are craving then the granita is your new best friend. A granita is a blended drink made with milk instead of an ice cream or frappe mix, which are completely packed with sugar, calories, and fat. Granitas come with espresso shots and a flavor of your choice. Steer clear from smoothies made in coffee shops because they are basically just a colored, artificial sugar puree blended with ice.

Let’s talk about those tempting treats! Stay away if you can. All those freshly baked pastries average between 300-500 calories. One cinnamon roll alone can be packed with over 600 calories and that old fashioned donut from Starbucks has 480. Breakfast sandwiches may seem like a good choice but let me assure you they typically aren’t. Breakfast sandwiches from both Woods and Starbucks average around 500 calories with sodium content that is through the roof. They aren’t going to give your body the nutrients it needs to leave you full and satisfied for long. Even the seemingly healthy yogurt and granola parfaits are more sugar than anything. If you find yourself in a situation where you do need to grab a quick bite at one of these shops, stick to natural or fruit and nut oatmeal, fruit cups, Wood’s delicious southwest quinoa salad as well as their mediterranean breakfast sandwich, which is made with egg whites and is about 380 calories.

<3 your newest barista friend,

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Eating Healthy on the Go!

Eating Healthy on the Go!

It seems impossible to eat healthy amidst a crazy schedule. Between work, class, family, going to the gym and running errands, who has the time? I find myself on the go for hours and by the time I can finally eat, I am so hungry that I will eat whatever is in my sight regardless of how unhealthy. I have found a few tricks that make it easy to stay on track and satisfied while on the go.

Prepare and prepack everything! The last thing I want to do in the morning when I’m running out the door is figure out what I’m going to eat that day and have to wash and cut up veggies. Instead, I find time before the week starts to get everything ready and easy to grab and go for the busy days to come. I love to make healthy snack packs so that I always have something to munch on the second my stomach starts to growl. The key is to have a wide variety of options. Packing a large bag of carrots every day can get boring and make you want to quickly grab something tastier. The same goes with apples slices and peanut butter, mix it up once in a while and give your peanut butter some flavor with cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice! I love to explore different grocery stores each week because they all have different products to offer and will keep your taste buds intrigued. I have created a list of healthy snacks that I love to refer to.

• Persian Cucumbers – Small, sweet and crunchy
• Edamame – Ready to eat soybeans packed with protein
• Tuna and Pretzels – I eat gluten-free pretzels
• 100% Real Fruit Leathers
• Sunflower or Pumpkin Seeds
• Soy Crisps
• Snapea or Inner Peas – Crunchy and better than potato chips
• Assorted Nuts – No salt added, filling and a great source of natural fats
• Nonfat Greek Yogurt and Granola
• Air Popped Popcorn
• Brown Rice Cakes – Lundberg Farms ones are my favorite
• Freeze Dried Fruit – From Trader Joes with no sugar added
• Hummus and Veggies – Try a new type of vegetable each week
• Low Fat String Cheese
• Baked Chickpeas – Flavored anyway you like
• Sliced Turkey
• Cinnamon Almonds – A sweet and crunchy treat

Of course the best snack of all is fruit! I love to eat fruit based on the season so that it is at its peak freshness and packed with the most nutrients. Some fruits that are in season now include pineapple and kiwi as well as year-round fruits including bananas and citrus.

After snacking and eating healthily all day long, I don’t want to ruin my day by grabbing some fast food or heating up a frozen dinner, but sometimes I just don’t feel like cooking! I have solved this problem for myself by having ready to go salad ingredients at my fingertips. I love to precut an assortment of veggies and toppings. Some toppings I enjoy include bell peppers, carrots, avocado, cucumber, broccoli, tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, pepperoncinis, pickles, feta, turkey and salmon. I also buy a variety of dressings so I can constantly change it up and not get tired of the same salad.

I hope I was able to give you a few ideas and I would love to hear some of yours as well as we journey through this quarter together!

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The Journey Begins

The Journey Begins

It took the unhealthiest and worst quarter of my life, to have the fight and passion to make this next quarter the healthiest one I have ever had. I want to share my very personal journey up until this point in hopes that you will follow along, and maybe even take the challenge to make this your healthiest quarter too.

I travelled to Alaska for 3 ½ months this past summer with two of my best friends to work at Mount McKinley Lodge as a barista. From the second I got there I fell in love. I loved the job, the coworkers, the guests and the incredible scenery around me. I made some amazing friends and was having the time of my life for about a month and a half… then I started having some dietary issues.

I am severely gluten intolerant and very few options were offered in the team dining room. Everything had flour in it, from the soup to the pasta dishes, to the fried chicken and pizza. For the first month and a half I was basically eating eggs and bacon for breakfast, and the same salad for lunch and dinner. Working 50-60 hours a week on salad was not giving my body the energy it needed. I began having migraines every day, dropping weight fast, getting dizzy and feeling like I was going to faint, yet there wasn’t much I could do about it. The closest grocery store was over an hour away and I did not have a way to get there.

I talked to management constantly and discussions with the team chef always ended with him not understanding how someone couldn’t eat the most basic ingredient, and thinking I was just complaining about the food. One conversation I had with him on spaghetti night ended in him telling me to “eat a bowl of red sauce.” It took me breaking down and crying in one of the manager’s offices for them to finally hear me and take me seriously. They began offering chicken and beans for the salad bar, and hummus that I could eat with veggies.  

After dropping 14 pounds in 3 weeks alone, my body was done, and my immune system was shot. Everyone kept complimenting me and saying I looked great, and for the first time in my life people were calling me skinny and thin. I had always wanted to be that thin but instead of feeling good about myself, I felt terrible. I hadn’t earned it and was only thin because I was starving. It was a long last month of the season with every hour not spent working, exhausted and sleeping. I finally returned home on a red eye flight and drove straight to Bellingham from Seattle to start my first day of classes. I gave myself an 18-credit quarter to tackle and I was exhausted in every sense.

My eating habits took a complete 180 degree turn when I was finally able to eat what I needed, and went a step further into eating whatever I wanted. I gained the weight back fast and started to feel even worse about myself. As the weight increased my self-worth decreased. I got to the point where I stopped eating in hopes of getting skinny again, and things went downhill from there. I ended up at the doctor’s office with blood work showing I was so dehydrated my liver enzymes were 8 times greater than the normal level. I was so unhealthy, and not just physically.

It took me weeks to get back on my feet but I managed to come out on the other side of the lowest point in my life, and I am challenging myself to make it all worth it. I want to live this quarter in the healthiest way I possibly can, and lose the weight I once did by exercising and eating a balanced and nutritious diet. I want to explore fun ways to stay fit in Bellingham through different fitness classes and gyms. I also want to find places and ways to eat healthy on the go in Bellingham and around campus. I want to research and share all my knowledge about how a gluten free lifestyle can benefit everyone, and where to find the best products. Finally, I want to love myself throughout this quarter and this journey. <3

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