Spark

Spark

I was introduced about 2 years ago, by a friend, to a company called Advocare. She had lost several pounds and swore by this drink she called Spark. It not only gave her energy but her child who had ADHD, she claimed gave him mental clarity and the ability to stay focused. Alright, sometimes I swear I have ADD and I sure could use the energy so I would stop falling asleep at my desk (apparently employers frown upon that)… let’s give it a try. I ordered the Spark energy drink, and a five hour type energy drink called Slam. I still giggle thinking about this, the first day I got my drinks in the mail I was dead tired, I needed a quick fix to stay awake because I knew I was going to be having a meeting later that day so I tried the Slam first. WOWzers! I instantly felt alive I was ready to go take on the world, the time came for our meeting and I crashed…hard! I came down off the “high” that I was on and there was no keeping me awake. I did the head bob the entire meeting and my co-workers to this day just laugh about it. My child had been sick and they knew I was tired and new about the drink I had taken so they luckily weren’t upset!  I quickly ditched the rest of those drinks; I couldn’t afford to be in that situation anymore. But, I still wanted to try the Spark because I spent a decent amount of money on this stuff, so the next day, tired again, time for some Spark.

It surprisingly tasted well, I first tried the Fruit Punch, I have since then tried the Strawberry Mango, Grape, Cherry, Tangerine, and Watermelon, and I have liked all but the Tangerine (but I don’t care for Orange flavor, so that isn’t surprising). I also got the exact amount of energy I was looking for! It didn’t give me a rush of energy like the slam had and I wasn’t jittery or anything, I also didn’t crash afterwards like I had on the other drink. It was the perfect amount of energy for the perfect amount of time. I found if I took it too late in the day I would have trouble sleeping at night so I just made sure not to do that! I was also able to quit drinking pop which was a huge accomplishment for me since I would drink like 3 Mountain Dews a day to try and stay awake! If I wasn’t tired a certain day I just didn’t take the Spark, this truly was my miracle drink! I do still take Spark to this day. As I have been working out I find myself being less tired but there are still days that I need an extra little pick me up and it works wonderfully for that.

Start Spark

So, after taking it for several years, why not wait until now to do a little research on it! Here goes nothing… Retail cost is $1.24 per serving (which is less than a pop these days and if I cut out three pops to my one serving of Spark, I guess I am doing pretty well!). It does contain 120 mg of caffeine but there is no sugar, however, there is sucralose which is a non-caloric sweetener, okay, maybe not so well anymore. Sucralose was initially supposed to be a pesticide but after realizing it was so sweet they switched it to an artificial sweetener, it has been approved by the FDA (which really means nothing these days) but it has gone from a safe rating to “caution”.

Overall, Spark seems to be as sketchy as any other energy drink but there are no real side effects or anything that screams direct danger! After looking into a little bit I don’t find it necessary to quit taking Spark immediately but I do think that I may look into some other natural ways to gain energy, be on the lookout for that blog!

Sparks

Sleeping

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Sleep more, weigh less? Well yes, but just sleeping isn’t going to get you that great figure! There are many reason why sleep is important and your health is a pretty big one. First of all being tired gives us a lot of excuses, like why you can’t exercise or why you needed that extra mountain dew… sound familiar?

Your body also creates more ghrelin when you are sleep deprived. Don’t worry I have never heard of this before either, so what is ghrelin? It’s what signals your brain that it’s time to eat… increase this and your increasing these signals and thinking feed me, feed me that much more! Worse yet, sleep deprivation leads to lower levels of leptin, this hormone says put the fork down, without it…you just keep eating. So more sleep really does lead to better eating habits.

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When we are sleep deprived we are also more inclined to snack on high carb foods and we have a harder time saying no to unhealthy foods because our rewards center is revved up.

How much sleep you need varies from person to person, but the average person will need from 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

To figure out how much sleep you need, next time you are on vacation go to bed at your normal time and don’t use an alarm clock to wake up, you might initially sleep more to “catch up” but after a few days however many hours you are sleeping is typically how much sleep your body needs. I am one of the unlucky few who needs like 10 hours of sleep to function properly, share your results with us if you already know how much sleep you need!

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We actually burn more calories by sleeping than we do watching television too! So shut off that episode you just couldn’t miss and hit the sack- you will appreciate it tomorrow!

More helpful hints on the correlation of sleep and weight loss can be found at http://www.webmd.com/diet/sleep-and-weight-loss?page=2

Smoking

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Here’s another thing I’ve tried- smoking. I started when I was 15 when my cousin locked me in the changing rooms at our local State Park beach house and said, “It’s cool everybody is doing it!” I know we have all heard that one. I was scared, but I did it, and I hated it- so why did I keep doing it? Who knows, but for 9 years I was a daily smoker. I quit while I was pregnant with my son, but started right back up after I had him. It was my stress reliever; little did I know it was actually adding stress in my life! But when my son got big enough to need to be chased around the house and I could barely breathe going from the kitchen to the living room I decided enough was enough! I went on a cruise in December of 2014 and I didn’t bring any cigarettes with, and I have not had a cigarette since! I quit cold turkey, so I have no miracle workers for you in this department, but I know it was definitely a life changer for me. I was definitely a little touchy for quite some time and old habits are easy to get back into, going out to the bar was the hardest when everybody around you gets up to go outside, it wasn’t that I felt I needed one, I just felt like I should be getting up to go with them! Now I barely even recognize the fact that I used to smoke, and I sure let other people know when they smell like an ash tray!

The best part about this was that it started my healthy living adventure. This one step just escalated into more. I could run now and not be out of breath so I actually wanted to run, if I was running and losing weight I might as well start eating healthy too!

So, you don’t care about running, then why should you quit? Within 20 minutes you will start to see the benefits when your heart rate will drop towards a normal level and within 2 hours it will actually be a normal level. Circulation will also improve so your fingers and toes will start to warm up, but be careful around this time you will start to experience your withdrawals. In 12 hours your carbon monoxide will decrease and your blood oxygen levels will increase- which is good! In just 1 day your risk for a heart attack will drop, and two days in your smell and taste will be enhanced. Oh, it just keeps getting better huh!? Now, the nicotine is completely out of your body but you will start to experience nicotine withdrawals; keep fighting! In just a couple weeks you will perform exercises you never knew you were capable of- this is what got me to keep going (I could play with my son, and actually catch up to him when he tried to run away!). Your lung functions improve and breathing actually gets easier, also at two weeks your withdrawal symptoms start to disappear. In just a month your lungs will actually start to repair the cilia and can help reduce infections. And here we have it, after ONE WHOLE YEAR of being smoke free your risk of heart disease if lowered by 50%. In just five years you are going to be in a category of a non-smoker when it comes to the risk of strokes…and ten years, well your risk of cancer just dropped to half that of a smoker- and why haven’t you quit yet?! Wait, one more thing, after 15 years, you decreased your risk of heart attack, coronary artery disease, arrhythmias, angina, infections of the heart AND conditions of the heart’s beating rhythm! It isn’t easy, but it is worth it, let’s work on extending our life span, what a simple way to do it! Information courtesy of http://www.healthline.com

Looking to get help quitting, check out these sites: http://www.smokefree.gov http://www.lung.org

Or simply google, “Get Help to Quit Smoking” and there will be plenty of options!

Fun Facts:

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When quitting smoking your appeal to the opposite sex could triple!

A single cigarette contains 4,800 chemicals and 69 of these are known to cause cancer.

In the US, it is legal for minors to smoke cigarettes, they just can’t buy them!

The first anti-smoking campaign was led by Hitler.

“The only safe cigarette is your last one…” –Duane Alan Hahn

Avoid the Bloat

So my boyfriend is a water freak! If I have a headache, “Drink more water,” sore muscles, “drink more water,” tired, “drink more water”! You get the point… well we are going on vacation the end of February, and of course I’m trying for that swim suit body! I have been working hard to get where I want to be but I just seem to have that extra belly bulge and feel bloated still. Naturally I mention this to my boyfriend his response, “Dehydration!” Saw that one coming… “No,” he says, “you need to quit drinking water and get dehydrated.” Clearly we all know that is not the answer, but it got me thinking about what is the right answer to this!

Cardio exercises and eating healthy can help you get that flat stomach but often people do struggle with bloating. So what helps?! All over google it tells us about these detox drinks where you mix eye of newt, a werewolves fang, ghost sweat, etc… but who seriously has any of those items just laying around to try a detox with?! Not me clearly, so then what every day activities in your life can you change to help?

 Water

Drink MORE water! Yep, that’s right…when you don’t drink enough water your body retains fluid preparing for dehydration, drink more, and bloat less! Water also prevents constipation which can be a crumby bloat factor! *Alcohol causes dehydration; avoid alcohol to avoid water retention.

Reduce your sodium intake- put down that SALT! Also reducing sodium rich foods like cottage cheese, chips, bacon, hot dogs, etc. will help reduce the bloat.

Eat foods that are high in fiber, like berries, whole grains and kiwi. Beans are high in fiber, but these should be limited because they also can cause gas which doesn’t help the bloat! Other gassy foods are pears, broccoli, onions or carbonated drinks; try to avoid any of these.

Bloated

Mix all these healthy eating choices in with a little bit of exercise (which also helps prevent constipation!) and you should be well on your way to beating the bloat!

My Journey

Looking back now, I think I maybe should have started my blog with this! Too late though- so you shall hear it now… this is my journey through life on the weight loss roller coaster!

As a child I was always a little bit bigger, not fat by any means, but I was definitely big boned! It runs in my family, everybody would always just say, “That’s the Schreier in ya!” As I got a little older I progressively got a little bigger. Once I hit high school the pressure of “fitting in” kicked in and I decided I was done with the weight gain. At that point I didn’t know a healthy way to lose weight though, so I just quit eating- that had to work! And it did, I lost weight fast, I never had a serious disorder or anything I would just skip meals, sometimes two meals a day… but I never felt good. I was always tired, and got sick a lot. That didn’t matter though because I was progressively losing weight, however, I still looked at myself as “fat”. Looking back now I realize that I never even knew what fat was! J I would kill to have that stomach again!

Anyways…I got pregnant when I was 19 years old- as hard as this was to accept, I sadly looked at it as, “Good, now I have a reason to be fat!” My eating habits quickly changed because I wanted a healthy pregnancy. Which it was, but towards the end of my pregnancy I got preeclampsia and gained A LOT of weight!! Most of this was water weight and I lost it quickly after having my sweet little boy, but I still had a long way to go. After that I would fluctuate up and down with my weight, never really being too healthy, but never exceeding an unhealthy weight. I also smoked, more details to follow on that nasty habit… but I finally had enough. Enough of the fluctuating, enough of the unhealthy habits, enough of the feeling sorry for myself! Yep, I went there…I’m sure we’ve all been there, but most of us also know that it won’t get us anywhere. You need hard work and dedication if you truly want a lifestyle change, and healthy living is just that a LIFESTYLE CHANGE- and let me tell you, it’s totally worth it! I am currently only 5 pounds away from my ideal weight but the best part is that I look and feel healthy, I don’t look sick and tired- I have muscles in places I didn’t even know muscles existed, and my son couldn’t be more excited when I get outside and actually RUN around with him. I’m still not getting my hopes up for that stomach I had in high school… but right now is the healthiest I have been in my entire life- and that sure says enough for me, way more than washboard abs would (okay maybe the washboard abs would still be nice…)!

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