Social Media, For Better or For Worse

Mental Health, Stress

Sometimes I get stressed, I lash out at people I love, I talk down on myself, I compare. Sometimes I’m on top of the world, everything is going right, I’m positive and happy 24/7. Sometimes I don’t say what I really think because I’m afraid of what people might think. A lot of times I do things I don’t want to just to please other people. Contrary to many people on this platform, I’m NOT a liberal, NOT a feminist. I believe in working hard, I know I can achieve what I want and I don’t need to protest for that and that’s just what I believe, if you don’t agree that’s fine. That doesn’t mean we don’t have similar interests, hobbies, and viewpoints. And who’s to say that won’t change? I’m a college student, I haven’t lived through enough responsibility to have formulated a real political opinion. I love yoga. I meditate when I can. I need to workout everyday to feel sane. Sometimes I workout too long and study too much. I believe in God. This is who I am, I won’t apologize for that and I don’t believe it’s something I should hide.  Recently I’ve taken a break from social media. I haven’t felt myself, the seasonal depression is kicking in, the anxiety is high. I’ve been thinking a lot about who I want to be and who I want around me. I don’t want this platform to be somewhere I just “show off” my life. I want it to be somewhere I am unapologetically myself. If you don’t agree with my opinions, that’s fine. But we can still be friends. We can agree to disagree and learn from each other. I don’t want to use social media  for followers or to please anyone else. And in all honesty, I don’t want to put off an image of being someone I’m not. Social media is not my job, it’s not where I get my confidence. Sometimes I post everyday, sometimes I go months without it because it’s too much and I have to step away. I can’t promise I’ll only post pictures of food, or yoga, or fitness. Sometimes I go into overly-analyzed deep and thoughtful rants. It’s a work in progress, I’m a work in progress. I’m learning to use social media as a space, a place where I can share my journey, connect with like-minded people, learn and grow from others and share my ideas. I am learning to navigate this form of interaction and find that perfect balance between productivity and enjoyment. Finding community is one of the most important things in life, community lifts us up, gives us a safe place and contributes a great deal to overall wellness. I believe social media can be an amazing means of connecting and finding this community if used in the right way. I’m not saying I have all the answers, and I’m not sure if posting all of this and sharing my journey will even pay off one day. But I believe we can learn something from everything  and if I can help even five people, or connect to a small group of like-minded individuals that make me feel part of a community, that’s enough for me. 

One month. No exercise. Here’s what happened

Uncategorized

Helloooo everyone,

As some of you might know, recently I decided to take a break from the gym. While to some this might not seem like a big deal and maybe even relieving not to HAVE to workout everyday, it was a much different experience for me. I couldn’t tell you the last time I took a B R E A K. Actually, I can it was when I was obsessively working out, not eating enough and needed to stop before my health went plummeting downhill. I’ll save that story for another time. This time was different, this time was because I simply wanted to experience ME. Not the me that depends on the gym everyday, not the me on a high from working out every morning. Simply me, in all my endorphin-less glory. 

So here’s the story- I started feeling super stressed with school and pressed for time to workout everyday. I took a few days off and decided maybe I’ll keep this up for a while, you know stay up a little later (studying, hanging out with friends, reading) and sleep in (meaning 8am HA). The first week was fun really, I didn’t have to wake up and meet my demanding daily 7am appointment. But then something interesting started to happen, I stopped focusing as much on my body and more on the way I felt. I ate when I was hungry and admittedly, I let myself eat “non-clean” food every once in a while. AKA PIZZA. And to be honest it felt great. I truly felt that I was tuning into my true self and not this person constantly masked by the effects of working out (good and bad). I believe there are positives and negatives to just about everything, working out included. As great as it is for the mind, body, metabolism, heart, etc. there IS a point of diminishing return. Meaning the constant pushing, mental and physical stress is doing more harm than good. While I have not been to this extreme in a few years, a break was fully warranted and FULLY beneficial. 

Fast forward a few weeks and everything began to go downhill. A little back story: when I was in middle school (and a litttttle bit in high school) I used to have SEVERE anxiety in classrooms, only at that time I had no idea what anxiety was. I would be in class and when the teacher closed the door I would feel trapped. I would get myself so worked up to the point where I thought I was going to be sick. I remember having to calm myself down and continually reassure myself that I was fine, and everything was fine. The class would be over before I knew it and I would be able to bask in the fresh air of a crowded middle school hallway (not as appealing now if you ask me). Anyway…the point of this is I haven’t had that feeling in YEARS and honestly I completely forgot about those minor panic attacks until recently. Recently because it happened again. About two weeks ago I was sitting in class, I had gotten up that morning walked to Starbucks and studied for a few hours instead of going to the gym. It must have been a combination of the unmatched strength of Starbuck’s caffeine and a lack of my daily endorphin release that sent me over the edge, but it was happening. I felt a lump in my throat, sweaty palms and a sudden feeling of sickness. I couldn’t stop my thoughts. Over and over I kept thinking what is wrong with me? Why do I feel this way? I’m going to be sick. I couldn’t stop the shaking, discomfort and 100000mph thoughts racing through my head. After a mental battle with myself I got the courage to get up. I walked out of the classroom straight to the bathroom where I looked at myself, took a few deep breaths and told myself I WOULD be fine. Needless to say I didn’t learn much in class that day. What’s even worse? It started happening more. Not just in that class but in all my classes. I was constantly having to leave the room, go to the bathroom and give myself a pep talk to make it through a 50 minute lecture. What was wrong with me? As time went on I noticed various changes in my thought process, the way I felt and most apparent, my attention span. 

After worsening anxiety and some contemplation I decided I needed to get back to the gym. What had changed since now and middle school? Well a lot, but one thing I know for sure is my healthy habits, particularly working out. Just a few days after being back in the gym I noticed a change in my attention span. I was able to concentrate for longer periods of time and I didn’t find myself daydreaming as frequently. Most importantly my mood shifted. I was reminded of the empowering endorphin rush I get just after a workout and how beneficial it is for my mental well-being. Not only that but WOW it feels good to sweat. My body was giving me signs that I needed to be back in the gym. I was craving that rush and quite frankly could use some release to tackle my anxiety. While a break was just what I needed at the time, it had run its course and  served its use. Moral of the story- workout addiction is real. It is a problem and there CAN be too much of a good thing. Taking a break has allowed me to come back with a fresh start, a new outlook and new goals to work towards. It has taught me that there are aspects of my workout routine I need to focus on and improve. One of the most important things I have learned is the importance of a break. Taking more days off than anticipated is okay. Staying up late one night to hangout with the people you love is okay. Eating that piece of pizza and having that extra piece of chocolate is okay. If the mind isn’t healthy there is no use in focusing on the body. Working out provides me with confidence, ease, and release. It gives me something to work for and something to indulge in other than studying. The benifits of exercise are immense, any research article will tell you that. But a little time off is important too. Know your body, listen to the signs and honor yourself with whatever your needs of the day might be. 

Ginger Noodles

Food

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Pasta is always a go to throughout the long winter months, the problem is it’s not always the best for our bodies. These miso ginger noodles are perfect for a cold winter night and great for every pallet. You can make them as spicy or creamy as you desire and the ginger and miso offer great healing properties to fight that lingering cold or flu!!

 

Ingredients

1 1/2 lb carrots

2″ square piece of ginger

4 teaspoons coconut oil

4 teaspoons miso

2 cups cashews

water

12oz ramen/udon/noodles of choice

1 large red pepper

1 large yellow pepper

1 cup mushrooms

1 cup spinach

toasted cashews (optional topping)

cilantro (optional topping)

pepper flakes (optional topping)

black sesame seeds (optional topping)

 

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400° F. Cut and peel the carrots and ginger into about 1/2″ pieces (size is not necessary just a general guideline). Toss with coconut oil and spread onto roasting pan. Roast until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.

While carrots are cooking begin cashew cream sauce. Puree cashews in food processor adding water as needed until it reaches a creamy light consistency.

Once the carrots are cooled place the cashew cream sauce, carrots, and miso in blender and blend until smooth. Again, add water to reach desired consistency.

Once the sauce is prepared, begin sautéing the remaining vegetables. Slice peppers and place into a pan with spinach and mushrooms with oil. Sauté for about 10 minutes or until peppers have a tint of golden brown and spinach is condensed.

Prepare noodles, following directions on the package.

Once the noodles are cooked and drained, add sauce and vegetables.

Add toppings as desired.

TIP- I used the amount of ginger the recipe calls for but I would recommend adding a bit more if you’re a fan of ginger to reach a stronger flavor. Cilantro and cashews are great options for toppings. The cilantro adds a refreshing kick and the toasted cashews make for a great crunchy mix!

 

Special Asian Salad

Food

If we’re being completely honest, from a nutritional standpoint, I could eat salad three times a day for the rest of my life. While my plate may not always resemble a traditional salad, it’s always there. I eat greens with everything, and I find that when I stray away from them for a day or two I start to feel a little off. Greens are a staple in the nutritional world and should be incorporated into EVERYONE’S diet. That being said, I often get bored with my salads, I find that I have a few staple bowls I always go to and a lot of the time I don’t really think about trying anything out of the ordinary. This year for Christmas I acquired a surplus of cookbooks. I’ve never been one to follow recipes but these new books have me eager to try a few. One that stood out to me was an Asian salad from Plant Based Paleo written by Jenna Zoe. This salad is a take on a traditional kale salad, with an interesting mix of flavors and packed with nutrition. The recipe is made for four but I decided to make it my own, doubling it and adding a few things. The best part about this salad is it STILL tastes good after being refrigerated!! No soggy lettuce or dull flavors.

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Ingredients

2 large heads of kale

6-8 tablespoons black truffle oil

2 teaspoons pink Himalayan salt

2 sprigs fresh mint

2 sprigs fresh cilantro

8 scallions

freshly squeezed juice from 2 limes

2 tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

6 tablespoons nutritional yeast

6 tablespoons hemp seeds

4 carrots

1 cucumber

OPTIONAL avocado

 

 

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Instructions

  1. Wash and dry both heads of kale. Once they are dry chop the kale into fine pieces. In a large bowl massage the kale with truffle oil and Himalayan salt. When evenly coated allow to stand for 10 minutes.
  2. In the meantime thinly slice carrots and cucumber. If the option is available, spiralize the carrots and cucumber.
  3. Add carrots, cucumber, mint, cilantro, scallions, and lime juice to kale mixture.
  4. Toss salad and then add remaining ingredients.
  5. Top with avocado and serve.

Enjoy!!

Re-Grounding

Stress

I haven’t slept. Two weeks to be exact, I’ve been bombarded with the stress of finals, followed by excessive “de-stressing,” i.e. family time, late nights, lagging workouts, cheat meals, and Netflix. Yes, I push myself as hard as humanly possible throughout the semester, admittedly depriving myself of enjoyment at times, and this may be the reason for my excessive “de-stressing” as I call it. Throughout the past few weeks I have immersed myself in social media, socializing, and relaxation. While it has been a wonderful break on my drained mind, it has inevitably brought me to a stalemate. I’m stuck, I feel out of it, groggy, irritable, emotional, and malnourished. I find myself longing to just feel normal again and reevaluating what I need to do to get there. My solution; re-grounding. There are various versions of “self help,” “self medicating,” or “me time” if you will, all of which fall under my umbrella term of re-grounding. I consider myself an introverted extrovert, I love being around people and couldn’t survive without the help of my friends and family, but at times I just need some time to MYSELF. I haven’t gotten a lot of this lately, can you tell? The older I get (i.e. the more overloaded with stress I become) the less time I have for self nourishing. Sure, I workout everyday, I eat healthy, and I stick to a fairly regular sleep schedule, but with all of this in place I still need that relaxation time to stay sane. Before the overhaul of school fell into my life I had a lot of this time. I would take a night once a week and just read, or write, maybe take a bath and do some yoga. Recently these days are few and far between and now that I’m caught in this excessive relaxation stage I’m turning to these habits as a solution to the rut. I’m taking a few nights to myself to read, draw, embrace scripture, meditate and simply mindlessly listen to music. I’m turning off my social media, putting down my phone and allowing myself to nourish myself. Getting stuck in these ruts is extremely common for people today, particularly due to the constant “go! go! go!” attitude and persistent pull from social media. We’re constantly caught up in a world that is not our own and sometimes we just need some time to re-establish ourselves, re-connect to our bodies and allow ourselves to fall back into our true nature. For some people this might be a long bath on a Friday night, for others it might be a daily yoga class or picking up an old hobby. Whatever it is, I encourage you to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of this thing we call life and take some time for yourself to reestablish your sanity.

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Less Meat More…Hummus

Food

Recently I’ve been altering my diet a bit in terms of meat consumption. I’m always trying new recipes and adding new staples to my daily routine and the past few weeks i’ve been focusing particularly on eliminating excess meat. With the workouts I do I have always been convinced that I should be consuming meat based protein numerous times a day, in addition to meals. However, I am now coming to the conclusion that such an astounding amount of meat is not necessary and may even be harmful.
While I do still need protein (as does everyone) I have been leaning towards beans and plants significantly more often. I do still consume meat, and as I said in a previous post I do not plan on eliminating it from my diet, but I have found that I feel better when I don’t eat as much.
I have always assumed that the only way to acquire sufficient quantities of protein is through meat. This is not true. Plant based products, particularly beans, lentils, edamame, chickpeas etc. contain up to 18 grams of protein per serving.
Since I eat a big bowl of greens AT LEAST two times a day, I’m already getting a fairly decent amount. I just need a little extra boost to get me where I need to be. This is where I turn to beans and most importantly, HUMMUS. Hummus has always been a love of mine but I have never viewed it as a source of protein. Fortunately, a typical serving contains 8 grams and when combined with beans you’ll have the perfect amount.
Here’s a quick salad I made sans meat (with a few extra goodies).

INGREDIENTS
Mixed Greens
Cucumber
Tomatoes
Onion
Organic Blackberries
ORGANIC Black Beans- when purchasing canned beans ALWAYS buy organic and be sure to rinse them before eating.
Hummus

*I have also tried this recipe without the berries and with salsa instead, great flavor! You could always add some cheese and Greek Yogurt, as a sour cream supplement and turn it into a Mexican bowl!

Little Adventures

Food, Uncategorized

For better or for worse my parents have raised me to be a spoiled rotten foodie. I am always searching for new and unique restaurants (healthy and natural of course) and have been consistently dissatisfied with the typical bar and grill food. This past weekend my boyfriend arrived back in town and we had the opportunity to try a few new places that sparked our interest. seedz_cafe_menu

Recently I’ve been on a raw/natural and semi vegan kick. I found this little cafe in Clayton that may be my new favorite place. It’s called Seedz (a little cheesy but hey-it works). It was just a cute little shop on the corner, not too fancy or in-your-face, thats when you know it’s going to be good.

We decided to keep it light and split a veggie burger and a smoothie. The burger came on a light whole wheat bun, lightly toasted (YUM) with a side of mixed greens a lemon vinaigrette and some tortilla chips. The great thing about these places is that while it may not be a mound of food it is overflowing with quality-filled nutrients and just enough to keep you feeling full and energized. The veggie burger was one of the best i’ve had, it was made with chickpeas and cooked vegetables topped with cashew chipotle cheddar and a generous slice of avocado. I love this because instead of adding rice (more carbs) as most veggie burgers do, they used chickpeas which is much better for you and more flavorful. The burger was oozing with flavor and just the right amount of spice.  IMG_3350If that’s not enough, smoothie was a complete powerhouse as well. Simple yet delicious it contained banana, almonds, maca, Cacao and dates with a sprinkle of coconut flakes on top. I found it interesting that almost all of their smoothies contained dates (this is a rare ingredient for many restaurants). They are packed with preventative and healing properties, a great addition to a smoothie if you’re feeling under the weather or just maintaining a healthy body. The base of the smoothie was made from almond milk and the banana/dates provided a thick and rich flavor that kept me feeling fuller longer.

In addition to the whole and nutritious food the service was admirable. Everyone was extremely sweet and welcoming, providing us with the best experience possible.

This little cafe gives a few of my favorite places a run for their money, I would highly recommend if you ever find yourself in the St. Louis area.
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Monday is for Matcha

Food, Stress

While I do have quite the obsession with tea I have to admit, sometimes it doesn’t cut it when it comes to early mornings and studying. It was not until this past semester that I gave in to the allure of coffee and unfortunately since then it has become a part of my morning routine. Coffee can be a fantastic tool to get moving  but for some of us it has unwanted side effects. I personally struggle with anxiety and even one cup will keep me on my toes for the rest of the day. It’s good in the sense that it gives me that extra boost and helps me to focus early in the morning but there’s just something about that burst of caffeine that sends my anxiety levels through the roof. I’ve been searching for something that will give me the energy boost from coffee along with the calming effects of tea.

My solution-MATCHA.

Matcha is finely ground green tea. Instead of submerging a tea bag into water you are actually drinking the tea leaves themselves. It appears as a light green powder and can be consumed with just about anything. I have been drinking mine as tea and in smoothies but i’m sure it would taste great in a host of different drinks and even food! This green tea is specifically native to Japan and has been used in Japanese tea ceremonies for hundreds of years. Monks are notorious for consuming the leaves to assist in meditation practices. It gives them just the right amount of concentration and relaxation.

After quite a bit of research I have found that matcha has a multitude of health benefits that exceed those of green tea. (It is to my understanding that this is because you are consuming the leaves directly). One cup is equivalent to 10 glasses of regular green tea in terms of nutrition and antioxidants. It is rich in fiber, chlorophyll and vitamins (particularly vitamin C) and has been proven to naturally detoxify the body and enhance metabolism. In addition, matcha contains L-theanine, an amino acid responsible for relaxing the mind. The combination of L-theanine and a high caffeine content results in a sustained calm alertness. You basically get the active and alertness that comes from coffee but without the unwanted jitters. For anyone suffering from anxiety or unable to handle the intense effects of caffeine matcha is a great option. It has a compelling, almost creamy taste followed by a bit of a lingering sweetness. Matcha on it’s own can be strong and overpowering but when mixed with smoothies, milk, pastries etc. it has a more subtle flavor.

Matcha has made a world of a difference for me and I am excited to make it a part of my routine. For some people coffee is a must but there’s no hurt in trying something new, especially when it has a few extra health benefits!!

 

Tip-only purchase organically grown matcha from Japan. Other sources may be contaminated with pesticides and various chemicals. I ordered mine from Mountain Rose Herbs, I found it to be the best price for the amount.

 

 

Simple Eating

Food

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As Americans we have this warped conception that everything needs to happen as quickly and  conveniently as possible, especially when it comes to food. In the world of healthy eating we have been programmed to believe convenience and easy access is simply not possible.

I’m here to tell you that is false.

Yes, I will admit that in order to reap the benefits of a healthy meal normally it takes a little extra time. Fortunately this does not always have to be the case. I am the QUEEN of rushing and moving onto my next task as quickly and efficiently as possible (exhibit A-I made this salad and am writing this post between work shifts) and in doing this I have found loop holes in the healthy eating time trap.

My go to meal is a salad. I’m talking a big, nutrition packed, stomach filling salad. I have mastered the art of salad making and have the practice down to a tee in terms of time. I do not believe in recipes when making this nutrition packed dish, all it really takes is throwing some of your favorite ingredients on a bed of lettuce and voila! You have yourself a meal. Salads can be made any “theme” if you will. You could be  in the mood for something light and fruity, or maybe something savory with a little spice for that extra kick. The beautiful thing about salads is they are completely your own.

Start with your base-mixed greens, spinach, romaine, and or kale and then decide the flavors you want to go for. Are you feeling sweet or savory? Maybe Mexican or Asian? Once you have an idea in mind you can begin to put together your ingredients. Choose three to five vegetables and then add a few of what I call “extras.” Possibly chopped almonds or walnuts, maybe coconut flakes or some fruit. Finally decide on a form of protein. If you’re  a vegetarian add beans, tofu or even hummus for some extra flavor. If you’re in the mood for meat add some grilled chicken or salmon. Eggs are always a great option as well. Make your salad as big or as small as you like, just ensure you are including healthy ingredients.

Here are a few steps to guide you through the process:

Step 1-CHOOSE YOUR BASE

Romaine

Spinach

Kale

Arugula

Collard

*stay away from ice burg lettuce (the white stuff) it has little to no nutritional value

Step 2-FRUITS/VEGETABLES

Cucumber, Tomato, Onions, Beets, Carrots, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Asparagus, Celery, Corn, Green Beans, Brussels Sprouts, Peppers, Edamame, Mushrooms

Apples, Oranges, Cranberries, Raisins, Mango, Peaches, Pomegranate, Pineapple, Watermelon, Kiwi, Grapefruit, Grapes, Blueberries, Strawberries, Blackberries

Step 3-EXTRAS

Coconut Flakes

Almonds

Walnuts

Chia Seeds

Jalapeños

Salsa

Pesto

Guacamole

Hummus

*try not to add croutons, if you’re looking for something crunchy go for nuts if they are in your diet

Step 4- PROTEIN

Vegetarian-Black Beans, Lentils, Chickpeas, Tofu, Edamame, Fennel

Meat-grilled chicken, salmon, tuna, shrimp, eggs, turkey, ham, beef

DRESSING

When choosing a dressing the first thing you should look at is the sugar content. A lot of store bought dressings tend to claim they are “healthy” yet they fill them with unnecessary sugar. Look for something lighter such as a vinaigrette. There are a lot of different flavored vinaigrettes  if the typical oil and vinegar does not appeal to you. I have recently been using olive oil and a blueberry based balsamic vinegar. I also use lemon or lime juice as well as Apple Cider Vinegar.

 

Salads are perfect for lunch or dinner when you don’t have enough time to prepare a full blown meal, and they can even suffice as a mid day snack you can pack for work or grab at home. Experiment with different types and flavors and allow yourself to enjoy cultivating new and exciting mixtures.

The best advice I can give is to make your salad your own. Keep some fresh fruits and vegetables in the fridge, and ALWAYS make sure you have greens.

INGREDIENTS

-Organic Girl 50/50 Spring Mix

-halved cherry tomatoes

-diced onion

-blackberries

-chopped cucumber

-raw cauliflower

DRESSING

-balsamic glaze

-olive oil

OPTIONAL PROTEIN

-Hummus

-Grilled Chicken

-Hard Boiled Eggs

 

 

 

 

 

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Lunch of the Day

Food

Black Bean Avocado Wrap

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Ingredients 

Whole Wheat Wrap

Cooked Broccoli

White Onions

Tomatoes

Black Beans

Avocado

*Hummus for dipping

Preparation

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Bring stovetop to medium heat, add avocado oil or butter and lightly warm wrap.

 

Add all ingredients except beans and avocado.

Once brought to desired heat add beans followed by the avocado.

Remove from stove and enjoy!

Tip-dip in hummus for extra flavor

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