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!


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.


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

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!

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. 


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!


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!!


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.