Why Do I Blog?

IMG_4091My blog is a bit of a hodge podge. I like food and fitness (like REALLY like food)…..I’m a bit of a self help junkie.. I’m always planning some adventure… & I like to share my little encounters that I think people can benefit from.

For awhile I really struggled to feel a peace of mind. Now that I have attained it, I feel compelled to share my experiences. This includes how I got to where I am, the ways in which I maintain a level head, and how I am working towards my goals to see the world.

For years I off and on dealt with anxiety. I obsessed over the littlest things, and at my lowest point I had felt so poorly about my self worth that I had made myself sick. Technically, I was never diagnosed, but I dealt with a combination of anorexia and bulimia. Even after getting past the worst of it, I still had no confidence or sense of reason. In my mind the stress I had felt overcame my thinking.

In hindsight, I actually had it really great. I had a family who supported me. I had food on the table. I had friends around me. On the outside, my life looked super easy. But my anxiety pushed me into a state internal chaos.

When my family showed concern, I took it as them attacking me, and wanting me to be fat and normal. I despised them for caring almost as much as I despised myself. In my head I felt like I was doing the right thing. Pushing my body to hit the lowest weight possible became a goal that felt right for me. It was the only thing I felt would give me value. I didn’t care about anything else. My state of obsession felt normal.

Eventually I got burnt out of feeling so anxious all of the time though. My unhappiness was beginning to feel overwhelming, and with the help of those around me I slowly developed a sense of self and purpose.

Throughout the past few years, I have gone through a transition in the way that I live my life. My anxiety still flares up every so often, but certainly not to the degree that it used to. I exercise because it makes me feel powerful, not to burn away all of the food I eat.

What helped me the most was developing a sense of mindfulness and purpose. I had to learn to love the world around me and myself. Now, I feel the normal anxiety that life brings, but the good kind, the kind that keeps you motivated, not the kind that paralyzes you.

Now that my mind is at peace, I want to share what I’ve learned. I’d be lying if I said that this was a quick & easy transition for me. It was long and took a lot of falling down and getting back up to get to where I am today, but I don’t want anyone to feel like I did. I want to help anyone who can benefit from my understandings.

Health is so much more than eating well, exercising, and looking good. Being healthful is a state, encompassing all of the aspects of your life including your relationships, your feelings towards yourself, enjoying what you fill your time with, and so much more.

My goal is to share my experiences, knowledge, and little life hacks in the hopes to make a difference in at least one person’s life. 🙂

We all struggle with different things, but the struggle gets a little easier when you’ve got people by your side who can relate.

 

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3 Hacks to Save Money as a Millennial

We’ve all got something to save for. If all works out with school and my job, I’d like to spend a month this summer backpacking Laos. The goal is to save +$3,500 by June. Here are a few little tricks I’ve picked up to help me reach my goal.

  1. Give up your fancy name brands & learn how to thrift shop. By letting go of my inner fashionista, and thrift shopping, I have saved so much money. The Salvation Army, Plato’s Closet, and so many thrift shops carry in season name brand clothes usually in great condition. On top of that, thrift shops have sales too. $4.00 SHIRTS MARKED DOWN TO $2.00 CAN I GET A HECK YEAH? Just be ready to rummage through some racks, it’s a treasure hunt. You won’t die from clothes others have previously worn… i promise. Many stores wash the clothes before they put them on the racks. You’re supposed to wash new clothes before you wear them anyways, so just make sure to do that and.. YOU’RE GOLDEN.
  2. Quit buying food and coffee while you’re out, besides to go out with friends once a week. Even then, keep it cheap. If your friends expect to eat at a Gourmet Restaurant TELL YOUR FRIENDS TO QUIT WASTING THERE MONEY… or make some new friends.. either or… just kidding 🙂 …kinda. If you buy one Starbucks coffee, even a tall black one, it is around $2.00, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you buy coffee 5 days a week, it adds up to approximately $40 a month. If you’re buying lattes and fancy drinks you’re looking at $2.95 just for a tall. A grande or venti can be as much as $5 or $6 for one drink. Thats $100-$120 a month…….. Make your coffee at home, or kick your addiction, your savings account will thank you ❤
  3. Check the expiration date on your supplements/packaged groceries. Most grocery stores/supplement shops I visit will mark down there products around 2-3 months prior to expiration. I keep an eye on certain products that I frequently buy such as my snack bars and protein supplements. If they are approaching their expiration date, I will pop in & check them out every so often until they are marked down.

Life can get expensive. The most helpful thing I have done is sat down and decided what is truly worth the money, and what is not. Do you want to spend money on experiences that enrich your life, or a $200 watch? That $30 shirt, or a roadtrip? Materialistic things are temporary. Experiences last forever. When on a budget, we’ve got to decide what matters most. Hope these little life hacks can help y’all budget your money a little better.

Tropical Green Smoothie

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Having a hard time getting your greens? You can’t even tell that there are any vegetables in here.

 

Here’s the recipe to try it for yourself:

1 cup ice

1 cup water

1 scoop vanilla plant based protein powder

1 cup spinach (tightly packed)

1/2 cup fresh pineapple

1/2 of a medium avocado

2 tbs sweetened coconut flakes

optional:

1 tbs ground flax seed

Garden of Life USDA Organic Probiotic Powder (for gut comfort, immune support, weight management, mood balance, etc.)

 

All adjustable to taste.

I plan on prepping all of the ingredients & bagging them to freeze for a quick smoothie when crunched for time.

Leave a comment at the bottom if you try it. 🙂

 

The Truth about Packaged Foods

At the beginning of my fitness journey I had no idea what was healthy and what was not. I’d read soda labels and see that there was “zero calories” and think “well it says it won’t make me fat so it must be healthy”…. yeah no. Not the case at all. Unfortunately, as with all things, you cannot trust just anyone when it comes to diet information. Even well known corporations (sorry to break your heart, but a lot are corrupt). The media makes it seem healthy to eat snack bars and processed foods that say “low sugar” or “low fat” all the time. What they don’t tell you is that these foods contain a lot of excess sodium, excess carbs, unhealthy preservatives, chemicals, thickening agents, sugar alcohols, and so on…. (the list could go on forever). All of these things will not only slow down your metabolism, but will also make you bloat, cause inflammation (in the form of stomach upset, changes in skin, joint pain, slower recovery from injuries) and may be linked to numerous diseases. AHHHHH!

The cruel reality is…. people are trying to make money in any way possible. Now don’t get me wrong, when I go camping, or out for a whole day, i will take the whole foods that are most convenient (veggies, fruits, hard boiled eggs, nuts) in a cooler, but I will also take some protein bars, non gmo jerky, maybe some canned/packaged fish or grains.

To me, this is healthier & cheaper than eating out, or grabbing fast food. The catch to eating like this though, is that when I get back from these trips, I always see at least a couple pound increase in my weight from all of the additives. If I were to eat these foods all of the time, I would definitely store more fat from the processed carbohydrates and feel very bloated from excess water weight. Although eating processed foods can be okay on occasion, there is a limited amount that I believe to be “nutritious” and even of those, they should not be eaten every day if you wish to obtain your ideal body, and feel your best. Eating Whole Foods will give your body the natural fiber it needs, as well as vitamins and minerals critical for bodily functions, while avoiding the extra junk in processed foods. Pictured are a few processed bars that I believe to be okay on occasion:

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All of these bars are free from chemicals, gross preservatives, dairy (causing inflammation) and are much more natural than most “snack” bars. I’ll have these in leu of a meal, or a bigger snack if i don’t get the chance to eat for a few hours. The No Cow bars are my absolute favorite, because they’re low in sugar, sweetened with erythritol, a safer sugar alcohol, but high in protein and fiber.

I think the key to looking and feeling your best is eating whole foods 90% of the time, but when you’re on the go or crunched for time there are a few select packaged snacks you can grab without completely sabotaging your health goals, as long as you return to eating well afterwards. A good rule of thumb for packaged foods is to keep mind of the sugar, protein, and carbohydrate content. It is important to look at the ingredients as well, and stay away from anything that isn’t….well… real foods you can by in your grocery store like dates and nuts.

If you’re in need of more information on eating Whole Foods, check out my blog post titled “Eating Well for Dummies”.

Eating Well for Dummies

Between fad diets and contradictory information constantly being broadcasted, it’s impossible to know what is actually healthy for us and what is not. We’re all diet dummies. What we do know is that our body is in need of many important vitamins and minerals, known as micronutrients. Each individual must also meet a certain amount of macronutrients in order for our body to function properly (3 most important being protein, carbohydrates and fat).

“Carbs are bad”

“Fat is bad for you”

“Meat is bad for you”

Everyone is saying something different. So what the heck are you supposed to eat?

The thing about fad diets is that they’re aimed towards those who want to lose weight quickly, and they’re often not actually that healthy. Do any of you have a fit friend who seems to eat all day, eat out on the weekends, never refuses cake, yet is still in good shape? Are you that friend?

These friends do not have superpowers.

It’s that these friends have learned what works for their bodies and implement it. We all like food. We all like something thats unhealthy. It’s hard to completely cut items out, which is why it’s important we learn to balance our diets. When trying to maintain a healthy weight, it is important that 90% of the food you are consuming is “good for you”. As I try to decide what to eat throughout the day, I follow a few select rules of thumb.

  1. attempt to eat things in the form that they were harvested from the earth. Eat as similar to a caveman as you can. (Try to stay away from processed bars, crackers, cereals, and most breads)
  2. try to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, aim for many colors (more color variance means more micronutrients covered)
  3. attempt to get each macronutrient group into each meal (a portion of protein, carbs, and fats)

Another important thing to keep mind of is that the food you put in your body is essentially energy. How your body metabolizes things determines how much energy you will use, and how much you will store as fat. Certain things, such as simple carbohydrates are easily metabolized, and cause your blood sugar levels to quickly rise and fall. Your body uses what sugar it can for energy, but it stores the excess as fat. Examples of simple carbohydrates are most breads, candy, certain fruits that are low in fiber, and deserts. Complex carbs, such as sweet potatoes, long grain rice, and certain fruits such as raspberries are digested much slower. Due to the slower digestion, your blood sugar maintains a steady level and your body can use most of the carbohydrates you consume.

When it comes to fat, you want to avoid the saturated stuff. Fatty meat, certain cheese’s, and fried food are the prime culprits of saturated fat. Unsaturated fat is actually very beneficial to the body on a cellular level. It comes into play with regulating hormones, and many other bodily functions.

Protein is essential for so many bodily functions, and is crucial for everyone, especially those who are active. Exercising breaks down your muscles & tissues, but protein helps to build them back up.

The last thing I believe that we should be mindful of is portion control. By eating 3 moderately portioned meals, and small snacks in between, you keep your blood sugar elevated at a steady rate, avoiding excess energy being stored as fat. If you are familiar with what your portions should look like, and how much you should eat in a day, snacking every couple hours instead of meals is even better. Personally, I eat 4-5 small meals a day, keeping my blood sugar levels steady.

Knowing what your portions should look like is important. A healthy meal can become unhealthy if you eat too much of it, due to the spike in blood sugar it would cause.

Here are some examples of smart portion sizes:

 

 

Now, I could go on and on about what rules and regulations you could follow, but none of that means jack if you don’t know what healthy foods you actually like.

Here’s a list of a few healthy foods that can be incorporated into your meals.

Breakfast food recommendations:

Protein-

eggs

Nuts

nut butter

organic plant based protein powder

Carbohydrates-

Fruits (especially low net carb fruits such as raspberries and blackberries [net carb= carbohydrates-fiber content. More fiber= less sugar being stored as fat on your body]

Sweet potatoes

Potatoes

Vegetables (if you can palate them in the morning)

oatmeal (On occasion. I’m not a fan because it’s still a grain, but it’s better than pop tarts, or bread)

Fats-

nuts

Nut butter

oils (cook eggs in) such as coconut, olive, and avocado oil

cheese (on occasion, if you must. Dairy causes alot of inflammation and bloating in most people)

*I will often make smoothies in the morning with fruit, spinach, plant based protein, and some sort of nuts to incorporate each macronutrient group

 

Balanced Lunch/Dinner recommendations:

 

-Healthy Tacos:

made with ground turkey instead of beef

Instead of shells use low net carb tortillas (flat-out, tumaros, and la tortilla factory all have good ones) or make taco bowls on a bed of lettuce with long grain rice (long grain takes longer to digest)

&  most taco toppings are healthy (tomatoes, lettuce, salsa, moderate cheese, avocado/guacamole, moderate sour cream)

-Lean Chicken breast/Tofu with long grain rice/potatoes & vegetables: Cook chicken & vegetables in healthy oils, and rice just needs water

-Salads with each macronutrient group (fat, protein, and carbs)

-Healthy Chicken “friend” rice:

Pre cook long grain rice, chicken, and veggies of your choice (cut into small pieces). Combine all in a pan with moderate soy sauce, crack a couple eggs in it, and your golden. (High in sodium, but it’s fine if you’re not eating this every day)

-Healthy “Flat out” pizza:

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Pre bake flat outs in the oven for 2 minutes @ 375

& then cook with toppings an additional 4 minutes

Recommended toppings: organic pizza sauce, feta or mozzarella cheese, precooked chicken in leu of pepperoni’s (less saturated fat, but its not the end of the world if you use pepperoni’s) and all of the veggies your heart desires. I like mushrooms and spinach.

I will be posting many other recipes for balanced meals/snacks. Hopefully this will get you started if you are making a lifestyle transition, or provide you with some new knowledge if already amidst a balanced life.

In summary, be mindful of each item you put into your body. How will it affect your energy levels? Are you eating a lot of processed foods? Do your meals have each macronutrient group? Are you getting your micronutrients? Are you indulging too much? Personally, I don’t refuse a donut unless offered one more than once a week. But I eat well 90% of the time. What works for you? It’s a learning process. It never ends. Let’s figure it out together.

Peace out friends. Keep a look out for my next post on keeping up with your wellness while on a busy schedule.

Positive Friends = Positive Life

“When a flower doesn’t bloom you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.”

Friends, it is absolutely impossible to be a happy person, if you surround yourself with negative people.

This post will be short and sweet, but nevertheless, important.

Put simply, people vibe off of each other.

When you surround yourself with others who are goal oriented, and encourage your decisions, you are far more likely to accomplish your own goals, then if surrounding yourself with people who discourage you, or are indifferent towards your success.

Surrounding yourself with people who have similar goals, is EVEN BETTER.

An example of this would be the friends I have made at the gym.  Those who are there religiously along side me, have a similar goal: To get/stay in shape. We are mutually dedicated to wellness, and thus encouraging positivity in our lives together.

When I first started working out, I would have days where I just didn’t want to workout, because I was craving human interaction. I wanted to be with friends, but most of them did not go to my gym, so I would skip out on my workouts. Now that I have created bonds with people at the gym, it is no longer as much of a task. Going to the gym feels more like hanging out with friends who have similar goals, and encourage mine. We push each other to reach our fullest potential. Woahhhhh double whammy.

Naturally we tend to gravitate towards those similar to us, but it is easy to get lost or lose sight of what we want. If you feel the need to make a change in your life, and work towards what will make you TRULY happy, do not hesitate to gravitate away from people. Gravitate towards those with similar goals and paths. Quit wasting your time with people who do not encourage you.

Moral of the story is that we work better when we have a support system. If you dont feel like you have one, make one. Speak out. Introduce yourself to people. Find ways you can help them, & it will come back to you. Life is about the community. Everything is easier when you’ve got a village to support you.

Positive Friends = Positive Life

Post 1: Cucumber Lemon Mint Water

This drink is by far the most refreshing concoction i have come to know. Great in leu of Soda or Tea. *Can be made with carbonated water as well

Taste Amazing and the health benefits are great.

Mint Leaves:

Antibacterial

Fights inflammation

Control appetite (the aroma of peppermint actually may suppress appetite) 

Relaxation (mint is a natural antispasmodic, meaning it relax’s muscle spasms)

Lemon:

Boosts immune system (high in vitamin C)

Balances pH levels 

Aids in Digestion

Helps clear skin (vitamin C)

Cucumber: 

Helps reduce bad cholesterol

Contains vitamins A, B, C, Magnesium, Potassium, and Silicon

 

…..So pretty much…. Dis shit’s good for you.

Although I work for a supplement shop, I will forever stand by eating raw whole foods. Supplements are meant to SUPPLEMENT an almost complete diet. Nothing compares to getting your nutrients from whole foods, and this refreshing drink can help you fill in some gaps.

What you’ll need:

2 liter pitcher

2 liters of distilled water (can use carbonated water for bubbles)

6 mint leaves

1/2 medium cucumber (seedless)

2 lemons

*All best if organic or locally grown

Mint leaves may be harder to find, but I can find them at most farmers markets and often in the produce section of my grocery store.  I personally grow my own mint, because you get 30X the amount for the price of a small bundle that someone else grew. (and lets be real its exciting watching your plants grow)

Thinly slice the cucumber, lemon, and place them in the dry pitcher. Add the mint leaves to the top. Pour 2 liters of water overtop and leave the pitcher in the fridge for 4 hours. I think it tastes best overnight, but all can be adjusted to your liking! 

That’s all for today folks.

Stay tuned for more wellness tips & tricks by mindbodydonuts