No Solar Eclipses!

It is absolutely bone-chilling cold around here. I can’t stand it. I don’t want to do ANYTHING. Getting in my car for clinical at 5am is quite possibly the most miserable thing ever–it takes a good 10 minutes for the heat to become even remotely warm and then another 20 minutes for my fingers and butt to defrost. It makes me incredibly grumpy. Moreover, it further enforces any excuses I have not to work out. Who the heck wants to run into a gym–freezing–change clothes–freezing–workout–then run to the car all sweaty and 1000x more freezing. A toasty bed/couch, tea and my Mac sound much more appealing these days…

I’m working pretty hard to keep working at my “healthy” goals–being back at school makes it a lot harder (little sleep, studying/work, and plenty of other more appealing activities). I even signed up at a nicer gym to motivate since my university gym sucks. This new one has TVs on all the cardio equipment–if that doesn’t help I’m not sure anything will. But even with this added effort, my car still magically drives right past the gym on my way home from clinical–even though my bag is ready and packed on the seat next to me. Sigh. I’m giving myself some leniency during this adjustment week. I plan on getting back into it ASAP (with warmer clothing). 

Good news is I’ve been sticking to my diet pretty consistently. Lotsaa meat, veggies, nuts, avocado, berries, flax/chia, etc. I’m pretty proud of this because with the lack of sleep that comes with early morning clinicals–sugar and carbs are my go-to. There has been a few minor slip ups–but in general feeling good!

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lotsaaa salad 

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lotsaaa chicken

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‘lil bit raw honey for a taste of sweet= spoonfuls with stressed/tired [DANGER]

My birthday presents came early this year (cause I just needed them soooo badly obviously!). My b-day isn’t for another few weeks but I NEEDED this straightener ASAP–I was beginning to look a little too poodle-ish for my liking. It heats up in 30 seconds, works quickly, and leaves your hair so soft—get it if you suffer from beast hair as I do. Thanks mom!

 And today this bad boy came in the mail from my mom’s boyfriend. This past winter break, I experienced my first green smoothie and now I’m hooked. I really needed a good quality blender for my apartment to keep up with the practice.This thing is powerful–and you don’t have to deal with putting food in little by little because it can handle pretty much anything all at once. I’m so excited!

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My favorite green drink consists of half a green apple, a handful of spinach and a cucumber–it’s so light, refreshing and easy to throw down a few extra servings of veggies. Since I’ve been having these drinks–I honestly do feel more energized and even noticed smoother digestion. Breaking down veggies into a smooth puree makes their nutrients (especially the oxygenizing chlorophyll found in the cell walls) more easily absorbed by the body. 

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Basic green drink: 1 cucumber, large handful spinach, 1/2 green apple (or double recipe as it keeps in fridge for 2 days)

You can really get fancy with this–it’s all trial and error (I’ve had some doozies). Celery, kale, avocado, parsley, mint, small portions of various fruits (berries, mango, etc.). Adding protein powder can give it more staying power and make it more smoothie-like. Also, adding psyllium husk adds a lot of fiber and makes the drink thicker if that’s your thang.

Sometimes I even like to throw this schtuff in for some super foods, antioxidants and vitamins. It has wheat grass (which is gluten free), vegetable and fruit concentrates as well as pre/probiotics and lots of other jazz. The taste is slightly earthy but I enjoy it. It feels–healthy 🙂

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With that, I’d like to share with you the message that came in the box of my blender (you know how if something is a gift–the person sending it can inclose a message). Well this is what I got—

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This spring, I’m going skydiving with my mom’s boyfriend. It’s something we’ve been talking about for a while and I can’t wait! We’re also both trying to help each other get into shape. Our motivation is that we don’t want to cause a solar eclipse when we jump out of the plane. Hopefully all my green drinks will keep me on the right path–cause that would just be so embarrassing! Haha but for real this guy makes me laugh:)

 

Enjoy the day everyone!

 

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Final Semester Clinical Begins–NICU

A baby is God’s way of saying the world must go on…

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Feeling so lucky that I get to spend the rest of my time in nursing school with these little ones. How rewarding it must be to help give these babies a chance to simply—begin

 

Until next time 🙂

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6 Reasons Why an Increased Fat & Reduced Carb Diet Can Improve Health

As you know, last week I began a modified diet prescribed by nutritionist in order to reverse my insulin resistance and improve my health. I was told that I would have to reduce my normal carb intake of around 50% to 20% and increase my fats similarly (from 20% to 50%). Not thinking much about the science behind why this would work, I began the meal plan and didn’t focus too much on it. After posting about the changes I was making, I received a comment from a blogger asking how it could possibly be healthy to consume such a large portion of fat–and it made me really question things. All our lives we have been told that a low fat diet rich in  grains, fruits & veggies was the way to go. I mean it makes sense right? The more fatty things we consume–the more our arteries clog, our cholesterol sky rockets and the heavier we get. But maybe it’s not so simple. Maybe everything we’ve been taught–from the FDA food pyramid guidelines to our health classes–is slowly making us sicker. For a while now, research has been suggesting that this plan might be the leading reason behind the ever-increasing rates of diabetes, heart disease and many other life-threatening conditions. After many hours of searching reliable sources on the web and briefing though this book, I have compiled 6 reasons that stood out most to be regarding why going LCHF may be the one prescription we need for a long life absent of the leading killers in the country.

1. Our genetics are wired for it: Consider where we’ve come from and our ancestral heritage. For approximately 3 million years ago to about 10,000 years ago, humans lived off of diets similar to the LCHF. Looking into what comprised the meals of the Hunter Gatherers, meat, eggs, plentiful vegetation, nuts and small amounts of fruits/ starchy root vegetables seem consistent. These people very rarely tasted sweet–other than a few berries or a lick of honey if they could even manage to obtain it. Grains were not consumed because they weren’t edible without the cooking and processing we do today. It wasn’t until the agricultural revolution occurred and grains such as wheat and corn became a thriving industry. These grains provided food that was cheap and abundant. As the industry developed further, processed sugars and sweeteners made the carbs more palatable and addicting–turning into all the the goods we know today. So much money could be made though agriculture farming–it was plentiful and in demand–much cheaper than meat and produce. But science proves that our genetics are still very similar to what they were when we were Hunter Gatherers–10,000 years is not enough time for gene mutations to occur to allow us to be able to handle these grains. Just look around you–how many times a day do you hear about food intolerances, allergies, digestive troubles/diseases and so on. It is all too common–suggesting that we simply aren’t meant to consume the amount of carbs and added sugars that we do now. Furthermore, studies performed by anthropologists express that there was no such thing as heart disease or diabetes in our ancestral history beginning over 10,000 years ago–what does that tell us? 

2. The American trend to follow a low fat diet made us sicker than we’ve ever been: In 1970, a physiologist named Ancel Keys published a study of seven different countries linking their increased fat consumption to a greater prevalence of heart disease, stroke and cholesterol problems. This study greatly influenced the American dietary recommendations for decades following. While everyone was getting on the low-fat band-wagon, research found Keys’ study to be very poor in evidence. As time went on, rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease soared–tripling, even quadrupling every few years. So what’s the culprit behind the skyrocketing rates? Carbs. If one can’t get their energy from carbs, the only other way to get it is from fat (while protein is a major essential nutrient too, it does not have the ability to be used for energy). So less fat=more carbs in order to get fuel. More carbs=USA it’s sickest and heaviest ever.

3. Carbs and the resulting insulin response cause our bodies to store & hold onto fat: Carbohydrates (starches, sugar, etc.) are broken down into glucose and sent into the blood stream. Insulin (the fat-storing hormone) is then secreted so that fat and muscle cells can absorb the sugar for storage. The more carbs consumed, the more sugar there is in the blood and the more insulin that must be secreted from the pancreas to control it. As insulin levels increase, the storing of nutrients in fat cells also increase and the body becomes resistant to giving up the fat (it gets increasingly hard to loose).This excess fat is especially evident around the mid-section. Moreover, when the body is repeatedly exposed to large quantities of insulin, the cells become more resistant to it, called insulin resistance. As a result, more of the hormone must be secreted in order to have the same response–this can ultimately lead to burnout, when the cells no longer respond to insulin, also known as Type II Diabetes. More insulin means increased fat storage. Because the carbs are quickly absorbed into the fat cells, in a few hours the blood will be void of fuel as blood sugar decreases and the body will be hungry again for more food–creating a vicious cycle. When less carbs are consumed, there is a reduced blood sugar response and decrease in insulin secretion. Less insulin secretion means the body can readily release the fat stores and likewise won’t store it as easily to begin with.

4. A High Carb, Low Fat diet leads to cholesterol problems, inflammation, Heart Disease, Diabetes and many other conditions : One of the forms of cholesterol known to be harmful to us is called low density LDL. It is produced by an amino acid released from the liver in response to a large consumption of carbohydrates. The small, dense particles are sticky and get caught in our blood vessels causing blockages and damage. Inflammation occurs because the body views the particle as foreign and tries to attack and remove it. As the blood vessels continue to transport nutrients through their damaged walls, irritation continues small cuts in the vessel lining occur, recruiting numerous clotting factors to heal the damage. Increased clotting, blockages and vascular resistance caused my inflammation put you straight in the line of fire for a stroke or other cardiovascular event. And that’s just the beginning– I encourage you to read this book to discover why hyperinsulinemia (the result of increased insulin production from excessive carb intake) is also a factor behind cancer, infertility, osteoporosis, degenerative disease and many more conditions. What it comes down to is that our modern lifestyle, rich in carbohydrates, leads to systemic inflammation through a variety of processes. Inflammation is the common ground upon which diseases emerge. 

5. The chemical make-up of grains suggest their not meant for human consumption: While I read about this in a variety of sources, I felt Mark best summed this up: ” In order to survive and spread their genes, a grain uses anti-nutrients to dissuade animals from eating them. While grains represent an easy, cheap source of carbohydrates (which most people simply don’t need), they also contain proteins and lectins and other nutritional factors that impair digestion, perforate the intestinal lining, increase inflammation and can exacerbate or induce auto-immune diseases. Since the purpose of life is to reproduce and that grain has to make it into the ground to germinate, grains don’t want to be eaten, and they use the anti-nutrients to dissuade consumption in lieu of the running, climbing, flying, crawling, biting and stinging that animals use to survive”.  Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/top-8-most-common-reactions-to-your-grain-free-diet-and-how-to-respond/#ixzz2IfUKkbUE

6. A Reduced Carb, Increased Fat diet can provide all the energy we need–in a satisfying way: If one isn’t using carbs as their main energy source, it must come from fat as the body cannot utilize protein for these purposes. After an adaptation period of 2-3 weeks, the body grows accustomed to releasing fat + breaking it down into the blood for a slow, constant energy source. In addition to the carbs one does eat (from starchy veggies, fruits or a portion or so of grain) fuel is produced via the breakdown of fat in amounts more than adequate to support healthy brain and bodily functions. Without the effects of excess insulin that normally holds tightly onto fat, the body is free to fill its energy requirement. What’s more is that the energy is more stably and readably provided–in absence of the roller coaster ride of increasing and plummeting blood sugars that leave you feeling hungry, tired and ready for more carbs. Fat, protein and minimal carbs are nutrient dense and slow digesting–leading to true satiety and an intact leptin-ghrenlin pathway (the hormones that control true hunger and satisfaction–often interrupted by high carb intake). As I briefly explained above and as you’ll find online and in countless studies–an increased fat intake in conduction with a reduced carb intake does not lead to Heart Disease, cholesterol issues, blah blah blah–in fact, it does just the opposite. So don’t be afraid of fat! Be afraid of our modern day, carb-loading society–that’s the culprit! It’s time to make some serious changes!

What to make of all this—-

First off, I’d like to say that this isn’t even a fraction of the information out there supporting this topic. I simply cannot even begin to touch on all of the support behind this movement and encourage you to perform your own research and browse some of the resources posted below. Secondly, I feel it’s important to emphasize that I’m not going crazy and obsessing over the need for a strict LCHF diet. What happened was that I simply investigated the science behind my dietitian’s recommendations to drastically reduce my carbs and costume at least 50% fat daily in order to reverse PCOS/insulin resistance. I initially felt that her recommendation couldn’t possibly be healthy–but my research lead me to understand how much I really didn’t know about nutrition. My newfound understanding has made me excited about the power I have over my health–it’s as simple as what I put into my body. I couldn’t wait to share this understanding with whoever is interested. 

That being said–I believe in the founding principle behind my blog–creating balance. I think a strict diet sucks the joy out of life and prevents you from experiencing things fully. I’m thrilled to be armed with the knowledge behind the changes I’m making and plan to implement them most of the time. I know what’s good for me–so I’ll eat more of that. I know what’s bad for me–so I’ll eat less of that. It’s pretty simple. In the majority of instances, I’ll consume a reduced carb(not low) and increased fat diet. I’m not completely cutting out grains/starches and I’m most certainly going to consume delicious fruits and a Saturday night g-free pizza or sundae here and there. Eating well 80% of the time is sure as heck better than I used to be–and not at the expense of living a miserable, joy-free life!

More to come on this topic in the future as I continue with my research (maybe more specific, I realize I threw a lot of random info in your face). In the mean time, I’d greatly appreciate and welcome any thoughts or opinions that you have on regarding this lifestyle 🙂 thank you!

Check out these sources I found helpful–

Dr. Weil’s Carbs or Fat?

Grain Free Diet 

Everything You Need to Know–In THIS video–watch whenever you find the time!!!! ********

A doctor who has cured her patients of numerous diseases–by going LCHF (video)



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Make a Splash

Just a few more days and I’m off to my final semester at school! ahhhhhh! So much ahead–days in the NICU, senior festivities with friends, crazy studying for boards, numerous ceremonies and lots of FREAKING out. I’m excited, happy, sad and nervous–all at any given time. So basically I’m goin cray cray. Nah for real, I’m feeling good about what’s to come–good and ready.

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Looking forward to reuniting with my ladies 🙂

I came across a quote in Self Magazine at the gym today–it was so perfect that I ripped it out and took it with me–shhhh! It set me up with a positive mindset to head back to campus with:

Be Fearless. If you make only one resolution this year, let it be to live boldly. You control this movement: Rather than cautiously test the water, drive straight into life with free abandon. Imagine the person you want to be and the life you want to live, then simply commit to them. Believe in yourself. Embrace your beauty. Discover a new passion. And whatever you do, wherever you go, don’t be afraid to make a splash.

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Now to a little update with the food switch-up I began on Wednesday. The first day was rough because I was heavily focused on eating low carb and as a result didn’t get much else in to neutralize it all (veggies, some fruits and grains). Instead I ate lots of eggs, bacon, cheese, bacon and bacon. As you can imagine–my stomach was not feelin’ the love. I’m not used to digesting such heavy and fatty foods. And despite what my nutritionist told be about fat not mattering–I do think there’s a limit to all the artery-clogging saturated fat & cholesterol in red meat, dairy and eggs. So I’ve taken a step back and refocused myself a bit–keeping in mind a balanced approach.I’m paying more attention to the quality and variety of my meals while keeping in mind the ratios of nutrients I’m supposed to stick too. I’m finding that lots more veggies and a few low glycemic fruits and grains paired with protein/fat leads to a much comfier gut. 

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The key to blood sugar control is consuming fiber packed complex carbohydrates (brown rice, quinoa, beans) with protein. This will slow the absorption of the sugar (broken down carbs) into your blood stream and thus minimize insulin spiking (the hormone that moves sugar out of your blood and into your cells). It’s pretty simple: meat&potatoes, apples&peanut butter, fruit&protein powder, etc. Remember that this combination will keep you satiated for hours because you won’t experience the blood sugar crash that follows a glucose/insulin surge. Do it!

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I’ve been using this app to see how close my breakdown is to what the nutritionist suggested (50% fat, 30% protein, 20% carb). The above was my first day when I was on my best behavior (and feeling gross after all the bacon). I hope to stay below 30% carbs, allowing for some wiggle room to eat some more nutritious foods like fruit and starchy veggies. And most of the fat should come from monounsaturated sources, which lower bad cholesterol, like in avocados and nuts. To me, that what makes me feel best–as long as I stay smart, limit portions and combine with that Godly protein! 

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Sayonara Sugar!

“Decide what your highest priorities are, and have the courage and independent willpower to say no–pleasantly, smilingly, and unapologetically–to the things that are less important to you.”—–Stephen R. Covey

God I love that quote–it’s just so simple. Whenever things are all over the place, it’s important to just remind yourself of what really matters to you in the end–once all the small and irrelevant things are pushed away. For me, my highest priorities are my family, my health and my passions. When I remind myself of this during times that i feel lost or disconnected, it really centers me and aids my next move or decision. 

Right now, I really need to focus on my health in order to reverse the effects of PCOS and support a long and healthy life. 50% of women with the syndrome will develop Type II Diabetes by the age of 40, and that is not the life I choose for myself. Since my diagnosis it has taken me a while to get to this point–lots of denial and wishing it away consumed me. I’m now at the point where I’m done with the victim attitude and ready to be victorious over this pesky piece of crap 🙂

Yesterday I had an appointment with a holistic nutritionist who put me on a plan to heal my body and make it more sensitive to insulin again. Being the carb and sugar lovaa that I am–the menu is truly a tragedy. In a nutshell, it consists of 20-30% carbs, 50% fat and 30% protein. To give some perspective, the typical diet and that of the food pyramid is composed of around 50% carbs, 20% protein and 30% fat. The carbs that I consume will come down to about 1 fruit and 2 single portions of starch/grain a day. My beloved ice cream, candy and cookies are out the window in order to make room for plenty of nuts, avocado, eggs, veggies and meat. I will also me taking this supplement with each meal to support healthy blood glucose levels (main active ingredients being chromium and alpha-lipoic-adid).This is gonna be rough…

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What motivates me is the fact that if I am disciplined now, my body really can heal and become more sensitive to insulin again without a low-carb diet and supplementation. Of course, I will always have to be careful with my lifestyle choices, but it won’t always have to be this strict (and expensive!). My nutritionist explained that for about 6-12 months, I will need to be very invested in the program in order to reverse the damage. While that seems like forever, it is nothing compared to what I will be giving myself in exchange. There’s a life ahead of me full of health and abundance and I choose to say no–pleasantly, smilingly, and unapologetically–to the things that will take this away from me.

 

 

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Banana Walnut Cake w/ Cream Cheese Glaze (reduced sugar +carb, GF)

Seriously guys, the BEST gluten free creation I’ve made to date–not to mention it is reduced carb! I’m obsessed, and I know you will be too!

 

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Banana Walnut Cake w/ Cream Cheese Glaze (reduced sugar +carb, GF)

Ingredients (cake part)

1/2 cup canola oil (try 1/4 cup oil + 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce to reduce fat if desired)

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp Domino Light (a sugar stevia blend)

1/4 cup water

2 eggs

2 large, ripe bananas–mashed 

1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup gluten free all-purpose flour (I used Bob’s Redmill)

1/2 cup +1tbsp almond flour/meal (I used Bob’s Redmill)

2 tbsp coconut flour (if you don’t have this just omit and increase almond flour to 1 cup +2 tbsp total)

2 tsp baking powder

1tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup chopped walnuts 

Method

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and spray a round cake pan (9 inches) with cooking spray

2. In a medium bowl, add oil, Domino Light and water and beat on medium speed with electric mixer until light + airy (about 1-2 minutes)

3. Add in the eggs and mix on medium speed until incorporated

4. Add the banana, milk and vanilla and beat until well combined with electric mixer

5. In a separate bowl, whisk different flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices until uniform

6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix with electric mixer on medium speed until well combined

7. Fold in walnuts

8. Pour into pan and bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown on top–always check to make sure tooth pick comes out clean from the center!

9. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan and frosting 

For the Cream Cheese Glaze

Need: 4oz (half block) reduced fat cream cheese, 3 tbsp powdered sugar, 3 tbsp half+half, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix: all ingredients together on medium speed with electric mixer until light and fluffy–refrigerate if not using right away

Put in on: Pour over the center of the banana cake spreading lightly with butter knife until some glaze runs over the sides 

Enjoy: just don’t have half the cake like I basically did-it’s a healthy version, but let’s not go cray!

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goes great with some hot tea…I love Chocoate Yerba Mate

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 Slowly but surely, I’ve been getting into strength training. This past weekend, I was able to do lower body on Saturday and upper body on Sunday. I was pooped today (literally could barely lift my shampoo bottle) so I just did an easy 40 minute walk on the treadmill (4.0 mph, 4% incline). Here’s the arm workout I did Sunday–I liked it because it didn’t utilize free weights which often bore me. The workout went back and forth between different types of pushups (on my knees!) and the assisted pull-up graviton machine.

15 regular pushups (I did knees)

12 regular pull-ups on graviton (I put weight at 100lb)

15 wide arm pushups (knees)

12 wide grip pull-ups on graviton

15 diamond hand pushups (knees)

12 triceps dips on graviton

15 regular pushups (knees)

12 inner-grip pull-ups (targets bicep) on graviton

–rest 5 minutes and repeat if you can! You can also repeat w/ half the reps if it is too much. To make more challenging, perform pushups on your toes and reduce the amount of weight on the graviton. 

If you don’t know what a graviton is–it looks like the image below. It’s a great machine that you can adjust to assist you less and less until you are able to perform pull-ups on your own (well, that may happen for some haha, not sure if that’s in my future!” 

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The different hand placements allow you to target different muscle groups:

wide grip= back

regular= shoulders

inner parallel bars= biceps

lower side bars=triceps

 

Now it’s time to focus all of my attention on the Bachelor–I know, my life is rough 😉 Later this week I’ll post about my nutritionist appointment tomorrow to discuss a diet plan to regulate my increasing blood sugar. Since being diagnosed with PCOS this summer, insulin resistance is an issue for me and I’m going to need to make some changes–I’m happy to share whatever tips I get incase someone out there is in need of advice as well. 

Have a good night!

 

 

 

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Learning to meditate–a new, less-boring way!

A friend of my mom’s grew up in Thailand and is now raising her children in the States. She often talks about how, in her country, children grow up learning how to meditate and breathe therapeutically. As a result, kids are able to develop the skills to control stress, anxiety and to be in the present moment. When she left her home, the lady was shocked to learn that people in America grow up without any instruction with these practices. It doesn’t seem coincidental that the  rates of depression, anxiety and premature death are so much higher in the USA than Thailand. As a country  that is constantly about “more more more” I can only imagine what it would be like if we had a foundation similar that of the Thai background. Anyway, this woman brings her kids to a meditation center weekly so they can grow up with these skills ingrained in them, similar to how it would have been back home. The center happened to be free of cost and not too far away from me–so naturally we had to give it a go. I’m really not one to meditate–quite honestly I find it very boring and a huge waste of perfectly good time. I’d rather go workout or take a nap rather than sit for 15 minutes straight trying to “feel” my breath. It’s difficult–and being the impatient person that I am–I wasn’t “captured” enough to put the time in to master it.

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But this practice, called Masasati Meditation, is different. They utilize two fundamental practices–arm movement and walking. I liked it simply because it gives you something to DO. Rather than focusing the breath, there is a set sequence of motions that one makes with their arms. After practicing for a while, the movements become fluid, and you meditate by focusing on this movement alone. You can also perform this meditation while walking–focusing on the step and pausing for a breath before turning. 

After a brief introduction at the center where we were taught the basic motions and meaning behind them, we were allowed to enter the meditation room and put our new skills to use. Not gonna lie–when first entering the room I almost lost it laughing. There were people sitting on pillows. legs folded, performing the motions in an almost robotic manner. Behind them, other people paced slowly back and worth, their faces blank–kind of like they were possessed–I really didn’t think I could do it to be honest. But because they had taken the time to teach us the practice, I covered my smirk and plopped myself down on a pillow. I started doing the arm motions, at first focusing really hard to remember them and still trying to hold back my laughter as I spotted my boyfriend beginning the motions out of the corner of my eye. 

As time went on, the movement because mindless, and I really started to feel relaxed–almost numb. When thoughts would enter my mind (worries, what I would eat for lunch, etc.) I’d bring myself back to my movement–what I was doing in the present. I honestly started to really like it. In that dimly lit, earthy room I felt completely relaxed–for once my mind wasn’t soaring to everything else–I was just there, appreciating that time.

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I can definitely see how mastery of this practice would be so useful in life. It teaches you to connect your mind with your body–and that’s something difficult for many. Think about it–we’re always doing this that and the other think while thinking about this that and the other thing–the furthest one can be from being present and in sync. This is what leads to all the anxiety, irrational fears and stress. If we can own the ability to control our minds, to learn that emotions and ideas are just that–thoughts we can own the ability to stay calm and stable despite external circumstances. We can simply being aware of the “now”. That being said–I liked doing this for about 15 minutes or so–not a whole hour! But seriously– I would give it a try–especially if you have attempted meditation and struggled with the traditional “breathing” or listening to tranquil music routine. 

Curious? Check out Mahasati Meditation here–keep an open mind, I know it looks boring/pretty stupid–but you have to get past that.

 

Alright now onto something more people will probably care about–food! I recently made this for breakfast and it was hot, filling and delish! Adapted from Natalie Hodson

Protein Oatmeal Soufflé 

1/4 cup gluten free rolled oats (old fashioned, not instant)

1 scoop vanilla protein of choice

1 tbsp ground flax seed

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tbsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsp stevia in the raw (or 2 dropper fuels of liquid stevia) + more to taste

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond)

1 tbsp plain greek yogurt

1/3 cup or 1 small container unsweetened apple sauce

1/2 mashed banana

*Combine all ingredients thoroughly in a single serve-ramkin and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let cool a bit and eat up!

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I stumbled upon this blog and was delighted to find so many creative strength circuit routines. They’re all decently quick, about 30-40 minutes in total to complete–perfect cause I get bored quickly. If I’m going to do strength training, the only way I can possibly stick with it is if I don’t fall into routine and keep it fresh. I did this one a few days ago–it was unique and fast-paced–will do again!

 

 

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The Fastest Way to Cook a Spaghetti Squash

There are many reasons why spaghetti squash rocks my world. The leading is probably that 1 cup of the stuff has about 45 calories and 10g of carbs  compared to a cup of spaghetti noodles which clock in at 220 calories and 43g of carbs. While it’s obviously not a replacement to a beautiful pile of pasta, it is a healthy alternative that you can dress up with different toppings to satisfy a craving. A lot of people don’t utilize this miracle food enough simply because cooking it is so time consuming (it needs to bake around an hour in the oven). And when your hungry, that just won’t cut it. But cry no more, there is a solution–Spaghetti Squash a la Microwave!

This method is fast and simple–and it doesn’t compromise the outcome at all.In about 10-15 minutes, you’re ready to eat🍴

Method

1. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds

2. Fill the middle (where the seeds were) of one of the halves

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3. Put the other half on top

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6. Put squash in a microwaveable dish and put in microwave for 10-15 minutes (time varies based on squash size and microwave wattage)

7.Remove from microwave, open up halves, dump out the water and scrape out squash using a fork to form long strings

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8. Pile it up on a plate and add whatever toppings your heart desires (I stick with the traditional marinara and parmesan cheese)

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For a ‘lil something sweet afterward, I made Simply Sugar and Gluten Free’s  Banana Oat Bars. The sweetness in these dense and chewy treats comes from a banana, dates and just a tablespoon of maple syrup. I definitely recommend!

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Welcome my new favorite ab exercise–the Stability Ball Pike. I’ve seen this in magazines a number of times before but was always afraid to try it. I was certain if I pulled this one at the gym I’d fall on my face. But today the gym was particularly empty so I put myself in a discrete corner and tried it out. I promise it’s not as hard as it looks–especially if you don’t go all the way up onto your toes. I would stop at the bottom of my shins for added stability. I love this move because it’s challenges me in a different way, works the shoulders as well as abs, plus it’s kinda fun!

Stability ball pike

The above form utilizes all of the abdominals with a focus on the uppers

The below focuses more on the lower abs

Swiss ball jackknife

Give it a whirl if you haven’t tried it–let me know what you think!

 

 

 

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Write it on your heart

Looking in my closet today I realized that I still had a few dresses I’d purchased a while ago that I never wore–they still had the tags on. It’s not that I didn’t have outings to which  could have worn them. It’s just that I chose to wear old clothes on those occasions instead, figuring I’d save the new ones for a more special time. I didn’t want to waste them on an ordinary day. Remembering my thinking behind this, I feel pretty stupid. I mean what was I waiting for? 

This isn’t really about clothes or new things–it’s about letting days go by without appreciating them fully–not realizing the gifts of the present and “waiting” for something greater in the future. When always looking for the seemingly “next” best thing, we miss the good surrounding us right now, it this moment. Why isn’t today special? You’re alive and you’ re here–that’s something an average of 250,000 people a day can no longer say. So take out the special china you use once a year for dinner tonight, spend some extra time getting ready for no particular reason, take dancing lessons just because–it’s fun. Life is here and now–don’t wait for it to start–it’s been happening all along. 

Write it in your heart

Just something to think about tonight 🙂

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Houston We Have a Problem!

In about 2 weeks, my nursing clinical starts again–and guess what? My scrub pants are way too tight! The holidays (and this whole year, rather) have been way too good to me. While that’s nice and all, I’m not about to go buy myself a new uniform–those pants cost 50 schmacks and I would need two pairs. The solution–really get serious about my New Year’s goal to get fit.  Though I’ve been better, I’m not doing that great–it’s time to stop fooling around. So, I’m setting a short-term goal. I find that short-term goals give a longer journey some focus and make an future destination more attainable. Today is January 8th–by January 23 (clinical orientation day) my butt better be comfortably nestled in those pants–update to come of course!

How am I going to go about this??

1) Focus on eating real, natural and unprocessed foods in single serving sizes–focus on combining complex carbs, healthy fats and lean protein

2) Eating 3 meals and 2 portioned snacks daily–stopping the mindless munchin’ and late night chowin’

3) Doing SOMETHING active 6 days a week–combining gentle cardio, some intense intervals and a little strength training

I feel this is a balanced approach that is do-able yet challenging  due to the poor habits I’ve developed. Ultimately, it’s a lifestyle change that I really want to own and for which I’ll feel good about.  We’ll see where this goes!

Some Recent Healthy Eats:

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1/4 cup gluten-free oats, 2 tbsp. chia seeds, 1 scoop vanilla protein, carob chips & scoop of almond butter

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 summer squash

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tofu sautéed in sesame oil and gluten-free soy sauce (10 minutes each side over medium heat=crispy goodness)

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steak with seasoned shrimp, gruyere sweet potato fries and garlicky brussels

Today’s Workout:

I’m trying to get back into running while minding my hips as they still can get irritated due to my past surgeries. To me, running is one of the most satisfying forms of exercise–it makes me feel powerful and energized (when I’m actually in shape that is–right now it’s terrible haha). I also love it because you don’t have to be in a smelly old gym–you can get outside and appreciate the day.  I did the below walk/run treadmill workout to ease back into jogging. I plan to increase the speed and reduce the walking times as it becomes more comfortable–right now it most definitely was not!

Ease Back Into Running Workout

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*Increase speed and/or reduce walking time as you get more in shape!

I’ll leave you with a healthy and flavorful recipe from last night’s dinner. It’s packed with protein and fiber for lasting satiety.

Cuban-Inspired Chicken & Black Beans w/ Roasted Asparagus

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Ingredients:

1 can blackbeans w/ liquid

4 chicken breasts cut into strips or pieces

1/2 large onion or 1 small, chopped

2 tbsp. olive oil

1/4 tsp red pepper

1 tsp. garlic

3/4 tsp cumin

3/4 tsp oregano

2 tbs. balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp salt +1/2 tsp pepper

1 cup brown rice

Method:

1. Head olive oil, onion, red pepper and garlic in a large pan over medium-high heat.

2. When onions are tender, add chicken and cook through

3. Add black beans, seasonings and balsamic vinegar and combine thoroughly

4. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes uncovered

5. Prepare rice according to package directions

6. Serve chicken&beans over rice

~serves 4

For the Asparagus:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper

Wash and remove the ends from a bunch of fresh asparagus

Place asparagus in a large bowl and season with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic to taste. Mix well

Put asparagus on baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 30 minutes

Anyone watch the Bachelor last night? I know it’s incredibly unrealistic but I simply can’t help myself!

Have a good rest of the day 🙂

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