Monday, August 1, 2016

Don't Fall In Love. Rise In It.

I used to think drama in relationships was inevitable.
I used to think relationships were a lot of work.
I used to think I wasn’t deserving of true love.
I used to think I’d never let my walls down long enough to experience love.
And ultimately, I used to think if I ever did meet the right one, I’d fall in love.
I had it all wrong.
I did meet the right one. But instead of falling in love, I rose in love.
This love is easy. In fact, it’s the easiest thing I’ve ever done.
I don’t have to worry. I don’t have to wonder.
I don’t have to fight for my relationship’s success.
I may not always be easy going, but I’m in the calmest place I’ve ever been.
Any time two people come together – be it in a work relationship, a friendship or a passionate relationship – there will be bumps in the road. After all, that’s what happens when two opinions, two thought processes and two egos are brought together. But bumps are merely ways to gain greater understanding of one another. They’re meant to educate us and ultimately bring us closer together.
I’m not writing this to brag about the love I am graced to receive. I am writing this because there were many years of wondering, of worrying, of crying – scared that I would never find it. That I’d never meet someone who loved me and stood by me. That I’d never meet someone I wanted to open the dark corners of myself to.
But here I am. I’m still the same imperfectly perfect someone. It is possible. It’s possible to find someone who loves all the things the people before ran from. It’s possible to find someone who makes being vulnerable not seem so scary. It’s possible to find someone who brings purpose to your life like you never imagined.
I write this in case you – or anyone you know or love – is scared. Scared they’re undeserving. Scared that after too much heartbreak it’s just not possible. I’m here to tell you it is.
Rising in love has humbled me in a way I never imagined. It has woken me up in the middle of my life. It has brought meaning to the most meaningless things. It makes me strive to be softer. To be kinder. To be more tolerant. And for those reasons – and a million more – I will never be the same. And that’s 100% okay by me.
                 


Monday, July 25, 2016

My Latest ClassPass Experiences and Why I Decided to Quit

Before I get to a few reviews of recent ClassPass experiences, let me first say despite cancelling my membership, I am not knocking the service entirely. I think it’s a great option if you’re looking for variety and affordability. However, I feel as though the brand has grown at rapid speed and I have become frustrated at how difficult it is to get a spot in my favorite classes, the fact that I cannot take more than 3 classes per month at favorite studios, and lastly the issue with dramatic increases in their monthly unlimited memberships.
When I initially signed up for ClassPass in 2015, it cost $89 per month for an unlimited membership. Less than 6 months later I received an email stating the price of my membership increased to $120 per month without additional services ($165 per month for new members!). While I was slightly annoyed to receive an email providing no real detail as to why my rate went up, I stuck around because I honestly felt the new price point was still worth it! Since then, I’ve become frustrated that once I fall in love with a studio, I cannot take more than THREE classes per month despite having an “unlimited membership.” I also do not appreciate that most studios don’t open up all of their classes to ClassPass. Working a full time job and having a life to live makes scheduling my workouts at convenient times of utmost importance. The final straw came last week – when I uncovered that my membership was about to skyrocket from $120 to $175 per month ($200 for new members) with again, NO NEW additional services. I've since decided to sign up directly with a CrossFit gym and a barre studio (with the hopes of becomming an instructor there later this year). 

Like I mentioned, if you’re new to town (or new to the fitness world) and need variety and affordability, I say give ClassPass a shot. But if you’ve found a studio (or studios!) you love, call them directly and speak with the owner to figure out an affordable membership option. And treat yo self to a manicure with the $$ you save! 

Now, on to those ClassPass reviews I promised above…

1)      UFC Gym I came on a Saturday morning for their boxing class, described on their site as: Boxing Conditioning teaches basic boxing skills and techniques, designed to increase muscular strength and cardio endurance -- the perfect class to get shredded! Boxing Conditioning will include cardio calisthenics, shadow boxing, bag work (150lb. bag) and core strengthening exercises. You will sweat like crazy, build a rock solid core and burn hundreds of calories
My ratings:
Instructor: 4 out of 5. Brandon was definitely knowledgeable as a Boxer by trade, however his quick combos without any set up left me with awful flashbacks to my one and only experience at Zumba. Everyone went left, and I went right. Everyone stepped forward, I was walking backwards.
Ability to break a sweat: 4 out of 5. I definitely worked up a sweat throwing around all of those jabs, hooks and crosses. I didn’t, however, love how the smell of sweat permeated everything from the bags, to the mats, to the gloves I had wrapped around my hands.
Chances I’ll return: Unlikely
2)      Trim Fitness Studio It was the day after CrossFit and my body was begging for a day off from lifting weights, so I headed into this studio for a Lagree method pilates-style class. If you’ve never heard of Lagree, the class is described on their site as follows: Lagree Method is a vigorous fitness program that fuses the principles of Pilates with strength training, cardio, resistance & counter-resistance for full body conditioning. Each student enjoys an intense and safe workout while burning between 500-700 calories in a single 45 minute class! The highly motivating, certified instructors combined with the new M3™ Megaformer machine will give you the optimal results you’ve been searching for! This core targeted, high-octane, shirt-drenching workout will strengthen your body, tighten, lengthen & tone your muscles, burn fat, improve endurance plus jump-start your metabolism!
My ratings:
Instructor: 2 out of 5. Kimberly was the only staff member when I arrived at the studio and was very friendly. She explained the megaformer machine to me quickly and before I knew it, shoes were off and class began. For something like pilates on a reformer, I would’ve appreciated a bit more hands on (especially being my first time there) or at least a bit of teacher demonstration. Kimberly shouted out orders so fast, I felt as though I was at Sotheby’s buying a piece of art. Personally, this style of teaching is not effective for me.
Ability to break a sweat: 2 out of 5. I may have sweat a tiny bit here and there, but I spent most of my time looking around trying to discern what I was supposed to be doing. It felt like a game of Twister gone wrong. Right foot here, left hand WHERE?!?
Chances I’ll return: Very unlikely
3)      Full Pshycle I checked out an early morning spin class here with a girlfriend and loved it! I may have initially been intimated when upon check-in was asked if I wanted a pair of ear plugs, but the studio was adorable, the staff friendly and equipment brand new!
My ratings:
Instructor: 4.5 out of 5. UGH I so wish I could give Shelby 5 out of 5, but her constant repetition of the words “OH YEAH!” sort of drove me nutty. Aside from that, she brought an awesome level of energy to the class and even when it was hard to understand her, I loved the class. She even came by to explain the bike to me (the bikes are a bit different than standard studios). She seems to love what she does, which is always what you want to see out of an instructor!
Ability to break a sweat: 5 out of 5. I was basically swimming in my own sweat at the conclusion of our class.
Chances I’ll return: Highly Likely
4)      Xtend Barre It’s been so long since I’ve taken a barre class! I loved teaching classes last year, and was so sad when I chose to walk away from teaching because of how hard it was balancing a full time career and training for my first fitness competition. It was simply too much. Since then, I honestly haven’t taken more than a handful of classes. I’ve recently thought about going back to teaching (for fun) and stumbled upon this studio in my ClassPass app. After reading great reviews, I decided to take a class this past weekend with a girlfriend. For those unfamiliar, here is a description of an Xtend barre class: Xtend Barre is Pilates and Dance Amplified! Xtend Barre is a 55 min multi-level class geared to challenge bodies of any age, gender, or fitness background. You'll get it all in one class! Full body toning, cardio, core and stretches! Sound too good to be true? It's not! All exercises can be modified for beginners, pre and postnatal clients or clients with injuries, but that can also be amplified for advanced clients that are looking for an extreme challenge.
My ratings:
Instructor: 5 out of 5. If I could give Jordan a higher rating, I would. She was amazing – such positive energy and with such grace! She smiled the entire class and I felt her attitude was 100% genuine.
Ability to break a sweat: 5 out of 5. Honestly, I was surprised with how much I sweat during this class. It was intense!! We used props (mainly a small ball and light hand weights – I used 3lbers) and I was sore the next day (particularly in my side-butt region). I loved how hard segments of this workout were. Earlier in the week I crushed a long, intense CrossFit workout – and to come get my butt handed to me in this barre class was a reminder to always vary my types of workouts to ensure I work all my muscles in different ways!
Chances I’ll return: Already signed up for membership :)

What about you? Have you heard of (or tried) ClassPass? What do you think of the model?


Xo,
Jenn


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Healthy and Fit on the Road: It's Possible!

I feel like one of those shitty friends who calls after letting days turn to weeks and weeks turn to months with zero contact. Thankfully I haven’t been MIA because something bad happened, I’ve just been busy adulting over here. Work demands have monopolized quite a bit of my time these days – but I’ve also been busy spending time with friends and the boyfriend, too! Things have been so hectic, in fact, that I’m writing this to you from 35,000 feet. Which brings me to my next thought…

I know I’m not alone in saying it’s hard to balance a hectic life with a healthy life. You feel me?! 

Maybe you’re like me and fly more days in a month than some fly in a year – or maybe you haven’t stepped foot in an airport since  you could picked loved ones up at the gate (ah, the good ol days). Maybe you’re busy juggling work, family demands, squeezing in your workouts all while trying to keep up with all your other obligations. Either way – it’s trickery I tell ya, trickery!

So how do I make time for working out while ensuring I’m eating nutritious food on the road? With over 11 years of business travel under my belt, I’ve developed a few tips and tricks I’d love to share:

1)      Don’t let yourself get hangry. How many times have you rushed out of the house and thought, “I’ll just grab something when I get to airport”? Your intentions may be good. Perhaps you’ll scour the terminal for a grilled chicken salad or search for a freshly prepared acai bowl – but chances are, you won’t. I’m not being Negative Nelly over here, I’m simply being realistic. Far too many times we run out of the house without eating, fully intending upon “grabbing something” once we get past security and settle in at the terminal before take-off. Chances are by this point, we’re hangry and reach for the first thing we see. And let’s be honest, healthy choices at the airport are not aplenty. This morning I witnessed it firsthand – folks grabbing McDonalds and candy before boarding our 10:30am flight. While I could’ve easily done the same (or bought my ultimate favorite airport indulgence – I mean really, how good are Twizzlers?!?!) – I didn’t. Instead I bought a tall Cold Brew at Starbucks and drank it alongside a baggie of celery and grapes I packed from home. Knowing I’d need a protein boost, I also tossed an RX Bar in my bag (if you haven’t heard of them – go check em out!! They are made with minimal ingredients and are essentially a protein-packed version of a LaraBar). The lesson here is just as the old adage goes – “Fail to plan and plan to fail.” Maybe it’s the night before, or maybe if you’re like me it’s the 5 minutes before your Uber driver arrives - but go ahead and pack those healthy snacks so whether you’re stuck at the gate or trying to get through a long flight, you’ll have healthy, notoriously dense sustenance to keep you going!
2)      Schedule your workouts in advance. I may not be as avid of a CrossFitter as I once was but one of the things I’ve always loved about CrossFit was the community. Whether you’re walking into your neighborhood box or one on the road, you’ll generally always be welcomed with friendly, smiling faces. In fact, “dropping in” on a local CF box has been a longtime favorite of mine – whether I’m traveling for business or pleasure. When I know I have an upcoming trip, I’ll look at boxes close to my meetings or to my hotel – and I’ll reserve a spot for myself. Paying in advance ensures I stay accountable and follow through with my commitment. This way if my coworkers try to convince me to join for happy hour or drinks after dinner, it makes it easier to pass knowing come 6am the next day, I must be ready to lift my little heart out. Which brings me to my next point…
3)      Limit the booze. Gosh, when I think back to my rookie business travel days at 21, I had NO clue how to do it the healthy way. I’d be on my feet in the production studio working 12+ hours days, followed by indulging in a heavy steakhouse meal with my team (I mean, it was FREE!), coupled with copious amounts of wine, followed by “just one drink” at the hotel bar… just to go upstairs, catch a whopping 5 hours of sleep and do it all over again. Not surprisingly, I quickly burnt out and began to dread business travel. Nowadays, my trips look a whole lot different. I never drink alcohol on flights anymore and if I do join colleagues for happy hour or dinner, I limit myself to 1-2 drinks no matter what. Getting in the gym by 5-6 am, followed by brainstorming in a boardroom for 10 hours (or more) leaves me exhausted come the end of the workday. These days the idea of drinking at a bar has zero (maybe less than zero) appeal. I’d rather go back to my room, unwind, talk to my loved ones and hit the hay. And if I’m going to expend the calories on drinks, I’d rather wait until I get home and share a bottle of wine with the boyf anyway J
4)      Bring the comforts of home. In my bag right now (aside from work attire) are my resistance bands, workout clothes, running sneakers, dry shampoo, BCCAs, vitamins, and protein. Sure it’s a pain in the ass to pack it all – but it ensures that even when I’m staying in an unfamiliar place, I still have just some of the comforts of home. And while this isn’t fitness related, I even bring all of my favorite skincare products. Did you know Sephora gives out free samples of any product they sell?? And have you ever asked your facialist or dermatologist for samples of the products they use? This way even if you’re bringing a small carry-on like me, you can still have all your guilty pleasures right at your fingertips!

I could go on and on but the flight attendant just informed me we’re on our final approach and I must shut down the laptop. I hope some (if not all!) of these tips helped you – whether you’re running yourself around the country for business or simply running around your hometown juggling the endless demands of life!

XO,
Jenn


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Bathing in Mustard and Other Random Fitness-Related Faves

Bathing in Mustard. Okay, hear me out. Maybe you body build. Maybe you CrossFit. Maybe you run long distances. Or maybe you work a corporate gig and always feel tight, stiff and achy. Shy of shelling out major bucks on massages every week, what are we supposed to do to alieviate sore muscle pain? If you've tried soaking in Epsom Salt, you've seen nothing in comparison to... you guessed it. Mustard!! I know it sounds so weird - but trust me on this. Found on Amazon or in your local Whole Foods Market, this stuff is the bom dot com (are people saying that anymore?!). Run a hot bath (as hot as you can take it), throw some of this mustard bath in and get ready to be pleasantly surprised at how amazing you'll feel afterwards. I've used this stuff for years - it's helped me through sore muscles due in part to CrossFit comps, training for my fitness comp, after triathlons, even after a long day of work. It even helps open up your sinuses and you'll notice you start sweating out impurities just sitting in the bath (may want to take a quick shower afterwards #justsayin).  

IT Band Pain. Gawdddd my IT bands are always in a constant state of torture. My monthly massages consist of me screaming bloody murder from the pain radiating out of my tight and over worked legs. Anyone else feel my pain?! (See what I did there - so punny!) For my fellow fitness enthisuiants constantly fighting IT band issues, I strongly encourage you to start incorporating some stretches post-workout. I've bookmarked this bad boy and plan to incorporate some much needed post-lifting stretches. Thanks Active.com! 
8 Yoga Poses and Stretches for Tight IT Bands

Tumeric Protein Smoothie Bowls. Switching up the beautifully delicious Acai Bowls I've been making lately, I decided to start experimenting with tumeric. I've begun incorporating it into a lot of my meals - and holy yumola. I invented this breakfast - which can literally be throw together in less than 5 minutes and can easily be taken on the go. Simply throw into a blender:

  • 8 ice cubes (the more ice, the thicker it'll be!)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened Cashew Milk (I think this is way creamer and more flavorful than almond milk!)
  • 1 scoop favorite protein (I love the way PEScience Snickerdoodle tastes in this - but anything will do)
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 teaspoon each of: cinnamon, powdered ginger and tumeric
  • Blend!

If you're taking this on the go, you're done. If you're enjoying this at home, I like to pour the mixture into a bowl and top with 1 teaspoon of chia seeds and a 1 teaspoon of Cake Batter Buff Bake (because I'm obsessed and because some healthy fat is great since the bowl is virtually fat free). 



Macros for the bowl (without toppings): 171 Calories, 15 carbs, 2 fat, 25 protein, 8 sugar

I hope you give some of the three things I've been loving lately a shot. And if you do, I'd love to hear what you think!!

XO,
Jenn

*As always, all opinions are my own. I'm not being paid to endorse any products I blog about. 



Friday, June 3, 2016

How I Overcame My Destination Addiction



Are you addicted to the future? Do you tie your happiness to short-term goals? How many times have you associated happiness with the next happy hour, the next orgasm, the next fancy date night out, the next time you get on the scale and realize you’re 5 pounds down?

You say: “I’ll be happy when…” Happy when you find a partner. Happy when you receive a promotion. Happy when you go on vacation. 

Don’t get me wrong – there's nothing wrong with wanting those things. They're all wonderful! But things becomes dicey when we unknowingly place the key to our happiness in the pocket of the future.

It’s frustrating – I get it. If we at all feel like we’re not living the life we imagined, it’s easy to get caught up thinking our happiness resides in the next place. But the hard truth is, until we let go of the notion that happiness lies somewhere else, it will never be where you are.

Great. So Now What?
For me, it all started with the conscious effort to stop making plans. Stop making resolutions. Stop setting goals. I simply decided to stop planning and start living. The shift came to me as the New Year approached. I was racking my brain (like I usually do!) about what lofty goals I should set for myself in 2016.

But the truth was, I was tired of chasing goals. I was tired of keeping my eye out on some future date. So just like that, I decided to live like tomorrow doesn’t exist. I got real honest with myself and asked: “If all I have is this day, will it be enough?”

With that new frame of mind, it just seemed silly to waste hours fantasizing about vacations a year from now. It seemed counter-productive worrying about what could be.

I started living with purpose and found contentment. I started telling those closest to me how much I love them. I stole a few more kisses from my boyfriend. I turned off the tv and cuddled up with Lucy (despite her trying to wrangle her way out of my love grip). I took the time each and every day to look around at my life and realize it was enough. I had enough. I am enough.

And just like that, I started to overcome my destination addiction.

You may be reading this and thinking I’m bat shit crazy. You may be wondering how we’re supposed to live our lives as responsible adults if we don’t plan for the future.
And I hear you. But what’s so different about what I’m proposing versus reality? None of us have a crystal ball. None of us know when our time or the time of our loved ones is up. Don’t get me wrong, I want nothing more than to live a long and full life – surrounded by everyone who makes my heart burst with joy. But WHAT IF we lived like there was no tomorrow? Just think about how powerful that can be.

Okay, I Get It. So How Do I Start Living for Now?
Start with what it is you want. Is your goal to start living an active life? Maybe it’s to spend a bit more time nurturing your friendships and relationships. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to dabble in spirituality or religion. Figure out your WHY – whatever it is that motivates you and brings your happiness. And maybe you don't know what that is yet - and that's okay! Just begin taking small, deliberate steps. Abandon the toxic habits of comparing and complaining, and begin purposely living each day so that what you want out of life eventually becomes your reality.

If you’re never read Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, I highly encourage you to do so. Over 3 million copies have been sold in the States and I think that's because this book truly does help guide us to live in the present moment and avoid overthinking thoughts of the past or future. One of my favorite excerpts is:

It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living. Don’t be one of those people.

XO,

Jenn

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What I'm Loving Lately: Random Roundup


1) Summer dates - I plan to let this handy list inspire a fun summer of lovin with the boyf! Wineries? Romantic picnics? Yes please!
2) Blake Shelton eating sushi for the FIRST time. How is it even possible people who have never tried sushi still exist?! Either way - I nearly peed my pants at how funny this video is. If you're having a case of the Monday's on this lovely Tuesday morning - stop everything and watch this.
3) Starting the day with a beautifully delicious Acai Bowl. Ever since we came back from Hawaii, I just can't get enough of these. I love mixing in some protein powder and spinach (trust me) and getting uber creative with my toppings!



4) If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know I am legit OBSESSED with Buff Bake - and they really hit it out of the park with the new Cake Batter flavor. Slather that ish on everything from bananas to rice cakes and I'm a happy, happy camper.

5) Summer reads. Normally I love curling up in bed with a great novel - but in my ever long quest to become more and more knowledgeable on living a healthy and balanced life, I ordered and cannot wait to sink my teeth into this read. Written by a physician, this book explains how making simple plant-based choices can help us all live a happier and healthier life. Once I make my way through it all I'll be sure to post a review and share my learnings!



I hope everyone had a happy and safe long holiday weekend!

XO,
Jenn

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Transformations We Cannot See

#TransformationTuesday #fitspo #progress

Show of virtual hands {honor system here, clearly I can't see you!} - how many of you have seen those hashtags on social media? Usually accompanying them are photos of someone {likely in their underwear} posting a side by side comparison of their “before” and after bodies. The before I started some diet, some detox tea, some competition prep, or some {enter magical solution here}.

As someone who wholeheartedly believes in the importance of living a fit, balanced and active life I am all for someone’s commitment to getting healthier and becoming more active. But I can’t help but wonder since when did we begin placing such a disproportionate emphasis on the physical transformation while completely disregarding the blood, sweat and tears that goes into {or SHOULD go into} our emotional and mental transformations?

After seeing yet another girl posting side by side comparisons of her near-naked body along with a caption detailing how she's still struggling to appreciate what she sees in the mirror, it got me wondering...

What if we trained our minds the way we train our bodies?

I recently began attending a weekly meditation course with girlfriends and I've thoroughly enjoyed listening to wonderful nuggets of wisdom. Personally speaking, I feel the last 5 years have been a remarkable transformation for me - inside and out. And while I do my best to take pause and appreciate how far I've come, I never want to settle for "almost there." This course has imparted tons of knowledge, but the top two pieces of wisdom I've been anxious to share with you all are as follows:

1) Happiness comes from within - and the inverse is true as well. Unhappiness also comes from within. Think about it - the promotion you don't get, the coworker who seems to always be making your life unnecessarily difficult - none of them can make you unhappy. It's how you perceive those situations that impact your happiness (or lack thereof).

2) Don't run from difficult people. Listen, I get it. We all have people in our lives who bring us down. They're negative and complain the entire time you're with them. The weather sucks, the election is a mess, their jobs stink, their relationship is falling apart. Instead of rolling your eyes and staring at the clock wondering when its time to spring the door, allow their negativity to teach you a lesson in compassion and tolerance.

So the next time work is grating on your nerves and you're thinking "WHY me?" or you're sitting across the dinner table from a friend who just drones on and on about how awful everything is, I hope you take a moment to determine what the current moment is trying to teach you. What can you learn from less than ideal situations? Every moment is brought to us as a lesson. It's simply our responsibility to learn from it.

XO,
Jenn






Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Monday In Meals & The Importance of Nutrition Timing

Happy Tuesday, friends!

While it’s no secret I love blogging about topics including friendships, love and fitness, it seems as though my nutrition related posts are most popular (THANK YOU to everyone who reads!) I figured why not share a day’s worth of healthy, wholesome meals. So let’s jump in! Here’s what I ate yesterday:

Pre-workout snack {not pictured}
Cup of coffee (black) with 1 salt-free Lundberg brown rice cake topped with 1 teaspoon Buff Bake Cake Batter (my new obsession!). I LOVE these brown rice cakes – they literally have ONE ingredient in them. It doesn't get much better than that!
Macros for this meal: 93 calories, 15g carbs, 3g fat and 3g protein

Breakfast post-workout
Bowl of Cake Batter Zucchini Oats. My oh my this was delicious. And thanks to how voluminous the zuchinni made the oats, I was able to reduce the oats from 1/2 cup to 1/3 cup AND it kept me full until lunch!

Macros for this meal: 374 calories, 36g carbs, 17g fat and 23g protein

Lunch
Turkey tacos! I simply cooked ground turkey breast (the breast, as you might imagine, is much leaner than the dark meat which keeps your overall fat intake down) with ½ chopped onion. I weighed out a 3 ounce portion, and mixed up sriracha with non-fat plain greek yogurt and topped everything with 1 ounce non-fat cheddar cheese. I wrapped it all in a few leaves of butter lettuce. 

Macros for this meal: 288 calories, 27g carbs, 6g fat and 33g protein!

Dinner
Veggie & Egg “Fried” Rice. This is a weeknight go-to in my house. You simply cook 1/3 package of cauliflower rice (Trader Joe’s is my fave!), 1 cup fresh bok choy topped with one tablespoon of Coconut Aminos (my soy sauce substitute), and ½ cup egg whites and one whole egg. That’s it!

Macros for this meal: 193 calories, 13g carbs, 4g fat, and 24g protein

Post-Dinner Snack
Green Protein Shake. I don’t know about y’all, but I just love something sweet at night. I don’t buy cookies or ice cream because I WILL be tempted to eat them - so I rely on this little treat to satisfy my sweet tooth. Thankfully it’s super quick AND packed with protein. Simply mix in a magic bullet or blender: 5 ice cubes, handful of fresh spinach leaves, ¼ cup frozen banana, one scoop of your fave protein powder (I use PESCience Peanut Butter Cup as it tastes great and is compromised of Whey protein – which is quick to digest - AND Casein protein – which takes longer to digest), 1/3 cup unsweetened cashew milk and a splash of water. Blend and enjoy!

Macros for this meal: 159 calories, 13g carbs, 2g fat and 24g protein

You'll see I started out the day heavier in carbs (as I worked out in the morning) and slowly started tapering off. It's interesting to note even though dinner would appear to be 'carb-free' as the 'rice' was cauliflower - it still contained 13g of carbs as did my protein shake. This is why it's valuable to track your nutrition intake for a bit to see exactly what you're putting into your body at each meal. It's also worth noting I managed to get in 20+g of protein at each meal (minus my pre-workout). It helps to spread our your protein throughout the day to keep you fuller, longer! 

It's worth noting - everyone's nutrition goals are different - and no macro counts are a one-size fits all. For example, my body requires less calories than my boyfriend because I weigh nearly half as much and have less muscle mass than he does. However, I engage in intense exercise 5 days a week, so I may ingest more carbs and calories than another female at the same height/weight as me who happens to be sedentary. There are plenty of macro calculators out there to help - and while I'm NOT a nutritionist, I am more than happy to answer any questions you may have around nutrition to the best of my ability. If you're interested in calculating your own macros, I suggest starting with IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros).

And speaking of. 

Did you know that the timing in which you eat certain foods matters? Let me explain.
  1. Your body benefits most from eating more carbs and less fat in the meals around your workouts. So you'll see I ate a rice cake before and a bowl of oatmeal afterwards. Usually I top my rice cake with non-fat plain greek yogurt BUT that Buff Bake is brand new and called my name. 
  2. I mentioned it earlier, but it's important to spread your protein intake as equally as you can throughout the day to keep you fuller, longer! 
  3. Typically I eat more fat on non-weight lifting days and more carbs on days I lift weights. I've said it before in previous posts, but carbs are NOT the enemy. I repeat - carbs are not the enemy! You need them for energy - so stock up on healthy, nutrient-dense carbs such as sweet potatoes, quinoa, brown rice, old-fashioned oats and more. If you missed my post back in February on the importance of healthy carbs, check it out! 
I know this post contains a ton of information that may be brand new to you - as always, please feel free to contact me or comment on this post and I'm happy to answer any questions I can. Again, I am NOT a nutritionist nor am I a physician but I've been an avid fitness lover for quite some time and after doing quite some metabolic damage to myself after a fitness competition prep, I feel passionate about sharing helpful tips on how to live a healthy and balanced life. 

XO,
Jenn

Monday, May 16, 2016

Cake Batter Zucchini Oats

You guys. I just can't even hide this recipe from you. So I've been seeing tons of people posting on Instragram lately about Zucchini Oats and I just didn't get it. So you want me to grate up veggies and cook them into my breakfast? I was skeptical to say the least.

I am Captain Sweet Tooth over here so the opportunity to transform my breakfast into a mini salad (hey, green veggies count as salad-like, right?!) had me intrigued.

Well, after a kick-ass Monday morning workout, I came home and whipped up a bowl of warm, comforting yumminess. I was completely amazed how you couldn't taste the zucchini AT ALL -- AND it added so much volume that I was glad I dropped my usual 1/2 cup oat serving down to 1/3 cup. And for those of you meal prepping a few times a week, you can easily make a big batch and toss this into mason jars or tupperware for the week. It'll hold up perfectly!

If you only try one thing I've suggested, I say try this! And most importantly - have fun. Toss in whichever fruit you like. Leave off the almond butter. Add more. Take a better picture than mine. Use prettier plates. WHATEVER - just enjoy the blessing of cooking nutritious, healthy and fulfilling meals for yourself and those you love.

Happy Monday all!

XO,
Jenn

Cake Batter Zucchini Oats
In a small saucepan, add:
1/3 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 grated zucchini
Pumpkin pie spice
Enough water to cover

Bring to a slow boil, then drop down to a simmer. Cook 3 minutes or until most water has evaporated

Stir in 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons egg whites and stir, stir, stir to avoid scrambled eggs in your oatmeal (I’ve forgotten to stir and trust me – they scramble!)

Top your bowl with whatever floats your boat!

Pictured today:
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon(ish) unsweetened coconut shreds
1 teaspoon Buff Bake Cake Batter
2 ounces bloobs

As I’ve mentioned, I am not currently tracking macros, but I did enter this recipe into MyFitnessPal out of curiosity. Here are the macros for those interested:
Calories 374
    Total Fat 17 g     
             Total Carbohydrate 36 g               
           Dietary Fiber 9 g              
         Sugars 9 g           
    Protein 23 g       



Thursday, May 12, 2016

What I'm Loving Lately: Food Edition

Can we just take a moment and discuss the pure disdain I have for salad dressing. Ever since I was a kid, there's just something off putting (okay, disgusting) to me about pouring oil on my food and eating it. Honestly it's not even the unhealthiness as much as it's the taste. Although it's a blessing in disguise I don't like it, considering nearly all salad dressing is fat and calorie laden. You could imagine my delight when I stumbled upon the holy grail of all salad dressing on my last trip to Whole Foods. This bad boy is so flavorful, the ingredient list is short (which I love!) and it has ZERO oil. I repeat - ZERO oil. WOO HOO! 

It contains: Fig Balsamic Vinegar (Grape Must, Wine Vinegar, Fig Must), Filtered Water, Pear Juice Concentrate, Mustard (Vinegar, Mustard Seeds, Salt, Spice, Turmeric), Non-GMO Corn Starch, Xanthan Gum, Black Pepper. 

My fellow food allergy sufferers will be happy to know it's free of gluten, soy, and dairy. I love putting it on kale salads, grilled chicken, and more. Even if you happen to love traditional salad dressings, I say give this one a shot. It comes in at 30 calories for 2 tablespoons (as opposed to 200+ for most dressings), 0 grams of fat and only 40mg sodium (most dressings pack 250mg+).



Ever since returning from Hawaii, the acai bowl craze has hit me hard. Something about the combination of perfectly blended fruit, topped with crunchy granola and raw cacao has my mouth watering as I type this. I hadn't actually ever tried raw cacao nibs until Kauai and now I'm hooked.

These bad boys are organic, kosher, vegan and raw - and happen to contain a naturally rich supply of antioxidants and dietary fiber (yay to healthy colons!). Raw cacoa nibs contain one of the highest dietary sources of magnesium (which is known to increase energy, calm nerves, relieve muscle aches and more). Since they're dried and milled at low temps, all nutritional benefits are maintained (unlike their far-off and not so related relative, the chocolate chip!). 

I love putting a tablespoon on top of protein shakes, acai bowls, and even topping rice cakes with almond butter and a few nibs. DELISH!



After Whole Foods, my go to grocery run goes down at Trader Joes. The two products I want to tell you about are my new faves - and for good reason! Okay, who of you have had the genius idea to rice your own cauliflower? {Hand raise} If you have, you know what a huge, giant, epic pain in the arse it is. Lugging out the food processor. Cutting up all the florets. Picking up said florets when they inevitably fall on the floor. Cleaning the food processor. Opening wine because now you're stressed AF and need to relax. Except now who will cook the cauliflower you just riced? UGH! Have no fear - Trader Joes Organic Riced Cauliflower is here! This little gem can be found in the frozen vegetable section and each bag costs a mere $1.99!!! I LOVE this stuff and use it in so many ways. I've made Beef Bulgolgi Rice Bowls, cauliflower pizza, fried rice and more. 


My other new fave from the frozen section at TJs is their Shrimp Stir Fry. This guy is perfect for a busy weeknight dinner when all you feel like doing is ordering in but want to keep things healthy. Literally, you dump the bag into a hot pan and let it cook up for a few minutes. The end. Sure, I doctor mine up with some coconut aminos, sriracha, toasted sesame seeds and set it atop my cauliflower rice mentioned above. It's full of protein, veggies, and flavor. When I was first diagnosed with a soy allergy I was devastated - my love affair with Chinese food was over. Well, it's been 10 years and I am so grateful the market has come out with options like my beloved coconut aminos and products like these so I can recreate my favorite meals from childhood. I honestly don't even miss the soy - and I doubt you will either. The shrimp stir fry does come with a "gourmet pepper flavor packet" but honestly, I just toss it. I prefer to know exactly what's going into my food and usually seasoning packets contain tons of sodium. Either way, it's a much healthier option than ordering a pizza in. And it tastes great! Win win :)

I hope you get the chance try all (or some) of the items I mention above. And if you do - I'd love to hear what you think. Besides these, do you have any faves everyone should know about?? Please share!!

XO,
Jenn

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Friendships Are Worth Fighting For

Isn't it amazing how much friendships change as we get older? After I graduated high school and moved across the country to attend Arizona State, I fell out of touch with a lot of friends. And after graduating college and moving back to the East Coast (UP and DOWN the East Coast, actually), I also fell out of touch with friends. Our 20s are weird. We're all searching. Searching our souls, searching for jobs, searching for life partners. We're trying to develop our careers and become comfortable in our own skin. 

Personally speaking, my 20s were pure chaos. I moved from Arizona to Florida, New York and Atlanta. I started climbing that corporate ladder and gained exposure in various industries. I became a doggy mommy and bought two houses. I got married and divorced. I made great, new friendships and walked away from a few that weighed me down.
One thing I've realized is true friendships become increasingly more painful to walk away from as we get older. In my 20s, I'd be able to sever ties with a friend for any excuse I deemed valid: We’ve grown apart! She’s so condescending! I’m the only one putting in effort! 
Friendship can often be selfish in that way—as soon as we’re not getting what we want out of it, we can call it quits and simply walk away. 
I have been the friend who leaves and I have been the friend who is left. 
A few years ago, I developed a strong friendship with a girl I met through Crossfit. Shortly after forging our friendship she and her boyfriend (who I also met through our gym) became engaged. I rejoiced in their engagement. I threw her bridal shower, planned her bachelorette party in Savannah, took the day off work to witness them get married at the courthouse before traveling to Mexico to stand in her wedding as a bridesmaid. We supported each other during the hard times, too. We shared plenty of bottles of wine as I droned on and on about my dating woes, as she cried about the challenges of becoming a step mom to two grown children and the complexities of dealing with her future husband's ex wife and the nonsense that came along with it. We both work as Marketing Directors and would frequently bounce ideas off one another. We talked daily and loved working out together.  
Our breakup wasn't a sudden hit to the head. After I felt the chasm between us develop and continue to grow, I reached out to understand why she was avoiding me.
The text I received from her basically stated that we're in different places in our lives - she was recently married and in the process of trying to conceive, and I was single training for my fitness competition - and she just didn't think we could relate to each other any longer.
I took days to respond. Her words (even via text) cut so deep. I tried to understand, I tried to reason,  but I couldn't. I responded telling her that we may be in different chapters in the book of life, but we're the same women. At least I was. So what if I was single? So what if I was eating out of tupperware in restaurants and not drinking? So what! Friends - true ones - are like family. We stand by each other, love each other, and support each other through all of lifes ups and downs. 
And just like that. Years and years of friendship, gone.
I was crushed. How could she give up on our friendship so easily?
It makes me wonder... what if we took an approach to friendships similar to that of a marriage? What if we vowed to love our friends for better and for worse? 
What if we promised our close friends that no argument or simple misunderstanding would rip us apart, letting us crush years of loving memories with the swift click of a text message. 
It's no secret. We're all human. We all mess up. But what if we honor our friendships with the comfort that even when we fuck up, even when we say things we don't mean or mean things we fail to say, that with grace and forgiveness we will move forward together?
What if we stopped giving up on friendship so easily and vowed to fight for those we love?
Let's be clear. I'm fully aware there is a place and time for letting go of toxic relationships. But once you get to the point in your life when you’ve found your inner circle, your people, the ones who visit you in the hospital after giving birth and bring you a cookie when you’re having a shitty day and let you cry over the phone about the hard things, isn’t that worth fighting for?
If you ask me, it sure is. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Let Go of the Oars


Let go of the oars. 

The quote originates from New York Times best-selling author Esther Hicks and for those of you who haven’t heard of her, Hicks’ teachings were the original inspiration for “The Secret” and she’s noted as contributing to a global paradigm shift in consciousness.

Have you ever thought that perhaps everything you want is downstream, not upstream like we assume it to be? In America, particularly those of us working in Corporate America, we are programmed to work hard and rest less. When the going gets tough and life fails to live up to our expectations, we paddle harder and faster. We assume if we try harder, everything will be resolved and our goals can be achieved.

Here’s why I struggle with this philosophy. Life isn’t meant to be hard. We shouldn’t have to constantly be struggling. I like to believe that while it’s never perfect, life is intended to be calm and enjoyable. I wonder – what if we let go of the oars?

Once we do, the boat (our life) will likely turn itself around and allow the current to carry us downstream.

It has taken me years to comprehend the concept that sometimes we need to surrender, relinquish control and just let-go of our beliefs on when or how things should happen in life.

I can recall plenty of hard times when I found myself yelling (to no one in particular) WHY. Why me? Why is this happening? Why am I experiencing such pain. The greatest disappointments come when we cling stubbornly to the ideas of what our lives should look like.

These are the moments when it’s so important that we let go of the oars and let our boat take us downstream.

Stop fighting the current, stop exhausting yourself paddling upstream.

Let it go. Breathe. Have faith. There is a plan for you. Everything will be okay in the end. And if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.

XO,
Jenn