Have you ever struggled with the decision to lose weight or eat something delicious? If you enjoy food like most people do, then I’m sure you have more than once. Unless you’re one of those few incredibly lucky people to be gifted with a metabolism that lets you eat whatever you want and look amazing. In that case, please accept my sincere jealousy and move onto one of my recipe posts! But if you’re like me then you know it’s difficult to eat everything you want and stay fit, especially the older we get!
Food has always been about nutrition and enjoyment for me. My parents taught me that food should always taste good and nourish you, otherwise why eat it? With the exception of peas and beets, the two vegetables I hated as a child but was forced to eat anyways! My mom was a complete food snob growing up, so I inherited it from her. They also taught me that if you ate healthy then you could indulge in dessert once in a while, and it was healthy to have a treat.
I watched my parents with their vices, my dad with his milk and cookies and my mom with her coffee ice cream. While now I think they probably ate their sweets after we went to bed, as a child treats were reserved for special occasions or if Mom said so, not every day or whenever we wanted. And a treat was supposed to be a treat – savor it, enjoy it, remember it! And definitely talk about it! How many times my mom talked about how good stuff was, I could never count them all. But, it was not a free for all in the pantry at my house, even though I used to wish it was! I lived for my friends mom’s relaxed rules where Oreos were an every day after school snack with a big glass of milk.
So, growing up I was a healthy kid as it was how my mom raised me. She was strict with what kinds of food we ate – only the best natural butter, only hormone free milk, never anything low fat or fat free as you lost nutrients and it didn’t taste good! We rarely ever got fast food, after school snacks we apples, cheese, and crackers, and my mom cooked all our meals. If we didn’t like what she made, we starved.
This was the way the house worked; I knew it, my dad knew it, and my brother knew it. But when my sister came along is when all the rules went out the window. I don’t know if my mom had just gone soft by then, or if my sister had literally worn her down with her incessant whining, crying, and straight up bitchiness as the baby of the family (which hasn’t changed at all since). But, whatever it was – somehow my sister got my mom to buy all the crap I never could, go figure. Poptarts, Fruit Roll Ups, Kudos bars, Fruit by the Foot, Gushers, Cinnamon Toast Crunch (on the regular and not just sometimes), there was more I’m sure. I was literally shocked sometimes when I opened our pantry!
But I was a teenager by then and didn’t care as much as I would have if I was 7 years old. So, by the time I was in high school, I was living in an entirely different kitchen than the one I grew up in. Yes, Mom still cooked three meals a day that were full of all the major food groups, but our house was now stocked with junk food on the regular. Who were we? Luckily, my eating habits had been engrained in me since birth so my diet didn’t change too much. But I was a teenager and if I wanted a snack, I could definitely find one!
The first time I gained weight was when I stopped playing club volleyball to focus more on snowboarding. My weekly sprints were replaced with chairlift rides and my weekend volleyball tournaments became filled with Vanilla Steamers in the lodge. I remember one night in the kitchen asking my mom how to loose weight because my favorite jeans were feeling tight, like really tight. She told me I should stop eating so many carbs. What’s a carb I asked her, as I popped another cracker into my mouth. And she pointed at the box in my hand. Well shit, I thought, this sucks.
I started running the next morning. And, I actually realized how much I missed it! In Volleyball running was a chore or a punishment, as coach would always threaten us with it. If you don’t nail this drill, take a lap. If you loose the game, suicide sprints afterwards. Oh, you dropped your plank… take a lap. She used running as a punishment, so of course it was never considered fun. But turns out, I did a hell of a lot of running in volleyball practice.
And then I realized, I actually love running! And I’ve been running almost daily ever since the day I found out what a carb was. Yes, I’ve taken a few breaks due to injuries or just switching up my workout, but I always come back to running because I really do love it. I remember my AP English teacher was a runner, and she would tell us in class – writing is like running, if you can run one mile you can run ten. Just like if you can write one word you can write a hundred.
So, I listened to her advice, and I started running less than a mile each day, literally just around my large neighborhood block which was probably only half a mile. But, the main thing for me was I did it every day, no exceptions. Rain, shine, snow storms – I went running. Then when I wasn’t winded or sore, I started running a full mile. This was before smart phones and the Nike running app. So, I used to drive my car on my route to measure my mileage. Then I would continue on that same route until I felt like I could go longer. Then I’d drive a new route to measure it, and stick to that route.
I also stopped eating so many carbs as my mom would say. I realized when I got stoned I would just snack on crackers for no reason other than I love crackers! So I cut that out, pretty easy. This was when I kinda stopped eating snack food. Stuff like chips, crackers, pretzels… I realized these are just empty calories as they’re not providing me any nutrition and I just eat way more than the serving size when I snack because the serving size is so small – like 8 crackers?! Really?! C’mon no one eats only 8 crackers. So, I kinda gave them up for a while. And today I still don’t eat chips, but I’ll occasionally have a few crackers or pretzels if it’s with cheese or hummus so I have protein with them. I don’t just snack on carbs anymore, and I’ve been following this plan for a while.
As my running improved, I stayed steady around 3 miles, but I eventually was strong enough to run 20 in a day! However, I didn’t enjoy the super long runs as often. Sometimes if I had a bad day, or needed to think or focus on something important, I’d go for a longer run. Some of my best ideas or decisions have come to me when running. But, all throughout high school I pretty much ran 3 miles a day. That on top of cutting those extra carbs and that excess weight started to drop right off! And, then I realized I really liked being in shape. I liked the way it made me feel! I felt strong, my clothes felt great, I enjoyed being outside every day, and I liked the time to myself that running gave me.
I also realized that by eating less carbs I could feel how my body performed when it got more protein. I was still eating carbs, don’t get me wrong, but keeping them to my meals (bread, pasta, potatoes, etc.) or a treat like a cookie. Because, cookies were totally worth it! Way more worth it than chips or crackers, in my opinion.
Everyone is different and some people thrive on a plant based diet or a vegetarian diet. But over the years I’ve tried all kinds of eating, and now I know that my body does best when I eat everything and I make sure I have high protein at meals. Sometimes I will eat a vegan breakfast or dinner, but I don’t want to do that every meal. If I end up going all day without protein (for example, bagel for breakfast, peanut butter sandwich for lunch, veggie pizza for dinner) then I just feel sluggish, tired, and bloated. My typical day now is usually eggs and toast for breakfast, a chicken sandwich for lunch, and pizza for dinner. I love pizza (and I worked at a pizza place in high school)! I make my own now, and it always has tons of veggies and usually protein like sausage or chicken. And then of course dessert, obviously!
I also started doing Pilates the same time I started running. I used to read SHAPE Magazine, SELF Magazine, and Women’s Fitness all the time – back in the day when magazines were all the rage! I found an article in SHAPE on how Pilates can help slim your legs, so I tried it out and I really liked it! See, I’m Greek – so we’re known for big butts, big boobs, and thick legs. When my jeans started to not fit, it was my legs that made it so, not my waist. So, I focused my energy on trimming my legs mostly. At this time, I never touched my arms or even did an arm workout, with the exception of push ups or downward dog while doing Pilates.
I stayed on this workout regimen when I moved to California and pretty much all throughout my twenties. It worked for me and made me feel good. And I am the kind of person who likes routine. So, I’d run daily and do Pilates about 3 times a week, or at minimum on my days off. Sometimes I’d skip my run if I was super busy or super hungover (but usually it made me feel better, haha). I also joined a gym during this time, as I had expendable income while working my corporate job. But I used the gym more as a social activity and would go with friends. Or I used it as an escape to get out of my house as I lived with roommates. At the gym, I never ran because I ran outside on the boardwalk in the mornings – why would I run in a gym? I would use the stair master, elliptical, or sometimes take an aerobics or HIIT class.
When I opened the bakery, I kinda wondered how I’d stay fit being around cookies all the time as I didn’t have fresh baked cookies at home every single day. And people literally ask me this all the time! It is probably one of the top 5 questions I get asked on the regular. How do you stay fit owning a bakery? So for all those people, here it is… The answer is if you truly want to, you just do it! Just like anything, the novelty wears off. Yes, I eat dessert every single day. And yes, I have access to the desserts every single day. But, I’ll share with you my tricks to saying fit.
Tricks to Staying Fit
Eat the best quality dessert, obviously!
If you’re going to indulge, make it worth it! That’s why I opened the bake shop. I was always making my own desserts because I couldn’t find organic ones on the market, and if I was indulging in something, I wanted it to have the best organic ingredients. Organic desserts with real ingredients are way better for you than stuff with artificial colors, additives, and preservatives. Plus, they don't make you feel terrible afterwards. So indulge in the good stuff!
Limit yourself to one dessert a day.
For me this is the easiest way to go, it makes it so simple. For example, if I eat cookies then I cannot have cake. If I have ice cream, I cannot have cookies. It’s one thing!
And for me that means, one slice of cake, one hot chocolate, one piece of pound cake, one ice cream bar, one brownie, and one serving of cookies (which is usually 2 to 3 cookies, as my cookies are small so that you can eat multiples!).
This makes it so easy to not snack on stuff all day, and it makes me pick and choose what I really want to indulge in and actually enjoy. It also allows me to easily keep track of what I ate. Instead of snacking on stuff and then forgetting as we all know that’s super easy to do! A handful of chocolate chips here, one cookie there, a bite of biscotti…it can get out of hand quickly!
Food is money.
And if I’m really having a bad day and want to over indulge, I just think of dessert as money. Because if I’m eating it, I’m not selling it, which means it’s money in my stomach. And you can’t do anything with money that’s in your stomach, and I really like money. While I have the luxury to not literally pay for desserts, I still pay for them in another way. The more I eat, the less money in the bakery bank account. Just like if you buy something and don’t enjoy it, you wasted your money. So save it for when it counts, and you are willing to spend that precious money. Be happy about eating it, so that it was worth it.
I did gain weight the first summer we started selling ice cream at the bakery though. Turns out my body doesn’t like it when I eat ice cream every day. It makes my jeans not fit, like for real not fit. In the summer all my clothes are looser – flowy skirts, flowy dresses, relaxed boyfriend shorts – nothing like my skinny jeans that I wear the rest of the year.
And that first summer we started selling ice cream I was replacing my daily cookies with daily ice cream because it was just so hot. And two scoops of ice cream is way more calories than 2 cookies, this is common knowledge! So when September came around I legit couldn’t fit into any of my jeans, they were tight on my legs and I could not button them! I had to wear skirts all fall while freezing my ass off because I refused to buy new pants. I had to loose 7 pounds! And if you’re a woman, you know that 7 pounds is past your current pant size. But I did it, and I still ate one cookie every day! I stuck with my YiaYia cookies for my one treat each day while I was “dieting”, as they are the smallest! Because, I don't like to “diet” and even if I'm trying to slim down, I am still eating dessert! And man did I learn my lesson about ice cream, for me it’s a once in a while treat. Why? Because I enjoy being fit!
Even as I got into my late twenties and early thirties, running and Pilates stayed strong as my favorite workouts. I would supplement with P90X videos if the weather was bad, and I started doing some weight workout videos as well, but always kinda sporadically and never with as much discipline as my running or Pilates. It was more like I did it for a couple weeks, and then not again for 3 months.
I sprained my ankle really bad a few years ago, falling down my stairs. It was horrific, I had my computer bag, my purse, my lunch bag, and I just slipped on my espadrille and toppled with everything down the stairs of our condo. I seriously thought I broke my ankle, and so did Delaney who witnessed the whole thing. I went to the hospital right away, got X-rays and thankfully I just sprained it, really bad. But, sprains can take longer to heal! I couldn’t run for 8+ weeks. That was the longest break I had taken from running. I did Pilates every day and also some weight workouts, and surprisingly I stayed in shape! I was super impressed with myself during that time, as I thought I needed that cardio. But, I was already in good shape, so that long break didn’t put me out of shape. And I think adding the weight workouts, and actually sticking with it for 8 weeks was what really helped! And I was still eating dessert every day, duh. Then I went straight back to running as soon as I could and dropped the weights, haha.
When Otto got sick in January and we finally got the news that he had weeks or months left, I stopped running cold turkey. Why would I spend time running alone, away from him, when he only had minimal time left? I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t spend 30 minutes every day away from him for my own selfish needs. That added up to a lot of time! Time I could be spending with the love of my life.
So, I figured I’d take a short break so I could spend my mornings with him instead. I focused my morning workout on Pilates only as that’s what I usually do along with my running, and Otto likes to lay in his bed right next to my mat and nap. But, it’s been six months now and Otto is still here! Which I am beyond grateful for! But my workout has needed a little more than just Pilates, as I’m still not running. And we went down south in April and I always gain a little weight when we go out of town because we eat out way more than we ever do! And there’s so many good organic restaurants in North County, so I definitely indulge. But usually when I come home, I just run it all off within a week or two. This time, that didn’t happen!
So, after a few weeks of not dropping my vacation pounds I thought, well I’ll hire a personal trainer as I’ve never had one before, and it will be a good way to expand my workouts as I’ve kinda always done the same stuff. Plus, for the first time in my life I noticed my arms were not as toned as they usually were – how could this happen?! I’ve never had to focus on my arms ever. Well, shit – this was like finding out what a carb was all over again. Damn!
So, I talked to some trainers (virtual) and I thought I liked this one woman. She said she was a runner too and she asked me about my current workouts, what I’ve done in the past, and she asked me what I did or didn’t want to do now. Running I told her, I wouldn’t run right now so I could workout with Otto. Okay she said, and then asked if later down the road if I’d run again if I knew how to safely start up again, and I said yes! And then she gave me my first workout – run 2 miles was the first thing. Are you kidding me? Did she not listen to a word I said? She wasn’t even following her own advice, get back into it safely my ass. So yep, I didn’t go with her after that!
She soured my trainer idea, and I also figured I know my body best. So, I looked up a ton of YouTube videos. A ton! And I made myself a plan. I have a stroller for Otto, as he can’t walk super far anymore otherwise his arthritis acts up really bad at night and he can’t walk for the rest of the evening. So, we have to limit his walking so he can live normally all day. When we take him for his morning walk, we bring the stroller. We let him walk as far as he wants until he poops. Then he gets put straight in the stroller, to stroll home. This way, we’re not dragging him back or telling him he’s going to far, or having to carry his 30 pound selfie back! It’s a really solid plan, and it works really well. And he loves his stroller! Sometimes he sits and lounges and sometimes he stands like he’s captioning a ship, it’s hilarious. If you're looking for my stroller, I've linked mine here. Mine holds up to 50 pound dogs and it's pretty amazing, I'd highly recommend it! They also make different sizes.
So, I started walking every single morning with Otto in his stroller, power walking like a mom with a buggy full of babies but I have a stroller with my 14 year old pug in it. The neighbors love seeing me stroll by with a cute little pug, and Otto loves getting outside for even more time than his walk. He knows after his walk every morning he gets into the stroller, and we go cruise for 25 minutes for fresh breezes in his face and air sniffies. I get some cardio in, and I’m still spending all my time with him.
Then when we come back, it’s straight into his bed for him and I’m on the mat doing Pilates or a workout video. Sometimes my videos are only 10 minutes and sometimes they are 20 minutes; it just depends on how much time I have that day, but I usually don’t like my total workouts to be more than 45 minutes. So, I will do a 10 to 20 minute video on top of walking. And I’ve been doing arm workouts like crazy! And my arms are finally back to being toned after a month, but I’m still working on them more, as I’m not done. But, I did loose my 3 pounds of vacation weight! Just like when I was running, if I’m super busy I’ll just skip my workout that day or skip half of it. But, I really like routine, so I like to do less every day as opposed to longer workouts less days a week. Which is why I like to keep my workouts under 45 minutes.
My Current Workout Routine
Walk 25 minutes with Otto in the stroller
Arm workout video
Walk 25 minutes with Otto in the stroller
Leg workout video
Walk 25 minutes with Otto in the stroller
Walk 25 minutes with Otto in the stroller
Arm workout video
Walk 25 minutes with Otto in the stroller
Total body workout video
Sometimes I do nothing on Saturdays as it’s the busiest day at the bakery, but sometimes I’ll still walk with Otto or even just do Pilates, it just depends on my day.
Walk 25 minutes with Otto in the strollerPilates
I know YouTube can be super overwhelming and really time consuming to sift through the bad videos in order to find the good ones. Or if you have limited time and you start one and it’s just totally not for you, then you’ve wasted time. Trust me, I know, I’ve been there! This was one of the biggest reasons I wanted a trainer, so I didn’t have to figure out what to do! But, I’ve done the work now. So, I am helping you out by sharing some of the ones I really love.
The links below are my favorite short workout videos that are completely free on YouTube, and the music is decent. Yes, you’ll have to watch a short ad at the beginning of each one, but I’ll do a little warm up during that time like arm punches with my weights or pushups to get started.
My Favorite YouTube Workout Videos
This one I do all the time, I love her! Also love that she always has her dog in the videos! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGrwEPFumnk
This one kicks my ass! I literally do it with 2 pound weights right now, I’m working up to 3 pounds and use those sometimes. But I first did it with 5 pounds and literally couldn’t move my arms for a week! It’s so short, but very difficult! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0CwCvJbGZI
The tricep dips kill me in this one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W58uLI_FwYU
If I’m in a big hurry, I do this one. It’s 6 minutes! Sometimes I do it two times in a row. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qq_KB5z2-os
Total Body Workouts
This one is my fave! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZSM0l8DAno
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dj0bk8TFWdY Love her dog in this one!
To be honest, I still do Pilates workouts from when I was a teenager! I had some Gaiam Pilates videos in high school, they were my favorite, and I have since memorized the routines. I still do them! I usually focus on legs in Pilates, and this video I’ve linked here is most similar to the ones I do. I haven’t found any others on YouTube yet, but if I do, I will update them here.
I’ve learned over the years that eating and working out go hand in hand for me. I truly enjoy both, and I also truly enjoy being in shape. Some people may call it healthy, some people may call it vain, and some people may call it balance. But, it’s your body! So whatever makes you feel the best is what you should do! Whether that’s eat ice cream every day, or go running every day, no one can decide that except you. It could be enjoy dessert every Tuesday and Thursday (like my mom made me do growing up). It could be workout every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Or it could be taking the stairs every day. But, no matter what you eat – you should be moving in some way every day to keep your body healthy.
Staying in shape is hard, and it’s hard for everyone. So you’re not alone. And in shape for everyone is different. Just like there is food everyone likes and food people don't, I think workouts are the same. So, I hope I inspire you to eat well, eat often, and move! Maybe try out a new workout. There's so many I didn't even mention! There's so many I haven't even tried myself yet. I’m always here if you want to chat about organic eating or working out! And if you’re trying to go more organic, I’m always here to help with ways to start.
Did you like this post?
Make sure to check out my post How to Stay Fit on Vacation, which I'm sure you'll love too! And, share it with someone who you think may also like it!