Tuesday, May 27, 2014

How to Stay Healthy on Vacation

I just got back from a long weekend trip to Ocean City, Maryland, a beachside party town similar to Pacific Beach, CA, but with fewer waves, more humidity and fist pumping.  Many of you may relate to the guilt that sometimes accompanies vacation.  We usually drink a lot more, eat unhealthy foods, and don’t exercise when we are on vacation.  So how do you stay healthy and limit the post-vacation guilt…?

Well for exercise, you can just pump your fist a little harder.   

And stay out dancing a little later.

And for nutrients, you should try to get plenty of vitamin D.

Add servings of vegetables by starting your morning with bloody marys.

Diversify your cheese intake by enjoying it on top of different types of carbs.

Get creative with this.

Add extra lime to your margaritas to help with digestion and keep your skin soft - oh and also to prevent oral ulcers apparently.

Then ask yourself, how often you get to have weekends like this?  And enjoy every single minute.  I am not saying you should eat until you feel sick, or drink until you black out.  My strategy is to constantly be in tune with my body and what it wants and needs throughout the trip.  The worst thing you can do for it is skip meals - if you listen closely, you don’t have to over-think anything. Anyone else craving a big salad?  See, it all balances out in the end.

But I wouldn't be honest if I told you that it was easy for me.  Each day I choose to step blindly in the right direction, despite the negative voice that likes to whisper in my head.

Do you enjoy vacations without guilt?

Anyone else LOVE Seacrets in OCMD?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Have You Tried Chia Seeds?

I know I have mentioned these little guys before, but I thought I would dedicate an entire post to them because they are just THAT good for you.  I absolutely love chia seeds on my yogurt bowls and in my oatmeal.  I always soak them for about 10-20 minutes in water first because they acquire a gooey spongy texture, often referred to as “chia gel.”  I know it sounds weird, but trust me on this - they are kind of like mini boba tea balls, if any of you were ever into that stuff.

Here are some of the health benefits:
  1. Reduce food cravings by preventing some of the food that you eat from getting absorbed into your system. While they're easily digestible, they work to create a feeling of fullness, keeping you satisfied for longer while also helping you maintain a healthy appetite. To really benefit from their all-round goodness, eat them at the start of your day.
  2. Hydration for athletes: They are also great for athletes because the "chia gel" helps to hydrate the body.
  3. Reduce your blood pressure: There's evidence to suggest they can reduce blood pressure.
  4. Omega-3: They are the richest plant source of Omega-3 (the vital fats that protect against inflammation—such as arthritis—and heart disease). In fact, they contain more Omega-3 than salmon!
  5. Benefits for diabetes: Because chia seeds slow down how fast our bodies convert carbohydrates into simple sugars, studies indicate they can control blood sugar. This leads scientists to believe chia seeds may have great benefits for diabetics.
  6. They are easier to digest than flax seeds, and don't need to be ground up.
  7. They help build muscle: With their ample energy-boosting benefits, high fiber, perfect digestible protein for muscle, and tissue regeneration, chia is the perfect fuel food for fast energy and quick muscle growth.
Source: http://www.nuts.com/cookingbaking/chia-seeds/premium.html

I add them as a topping to my yogurt bowls, overnight oats, and even drop them into smoothie and muffin recipes for some added nutrients.

More fun facts:
  • 5 times the amount of calcium that milk has.
  • 3 times the amount of antioxidants that blueberries have.
  • 3 times the amount of iron in spinach.
  • 2 times the amount of fiber in oatmeal.
  • 2 times the amount of protein of any other bean, seed or grain.
  • 2 times the amount of potassium in a banana.
Source: http://www.wewomen.com/diets/the-new-secret-health-booster-the-10-surprising-benefits-of-chia-seeds-s308091.html

Anyone else have good chia seed recipes?  If so, please share!

Who is convinced to give them a try?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

WIAW: My Trip to the Dietitian


After a lot of internal debate, I recently decided I wanted to consult a registered dietitian to get a nutrition assessment.  As some people close to me know, I have been working to get past some disordered behaviors surrounding food and exercise.  I have managed to make a lot of great positive changes, but was starting to feel stuck in a routine around food and was getting worried about whether or not I was eating too much or not enough food still.  I just needed a little guidance to make sure I was doing this right.  I met with the RD last week and received my full nutrition assessment on Monday.  Being the over-achiever I am, I was dead set on implementing the changes she recommended right away.

That is not to say I am not completely freaked out about what additional changes are going to happen to my body.  But I am trying to let go of my narcissism and trust that she knows best – she came highly recommended, works with athletes, people with eating disorders, and people trying to lose weight, she is well rounded and she knows her stuff.  After reviewing my eating for over a week and talking thought my current activity level, she concluded that I still have not been getting the nutrients and energy I need and also has asked me to cut back on exercise even more.  This should help boost my metabolism, keep me full throughout the day, improve my focus, my workouts, my energy, and balance my hormones.

My new nutrition plan is not based on counting calories, but is based on getting the right combinations of nutrients through three meals, a pre-workout meal, and two snacks during the day.  The goal is to get the right amount of carbohydrates, protein, fruit/vegetables, and healthy fats in each plate throughout the day.   I was baffled by the amount that she wants me to eat, and by the amount of fat she wants me to include.  But I have definitely enjoyed every bite I have had so far and already feel excited about all the new foods I am going to finally “let myself” eat (because she says it’s OK – which is all I really needed).

The entire process is scary and I feel like I am eating way more than society tells me I “should”, but I am going to give this a try.  And what better way to share my experience than a What I Ate Wednesday post!

– I usually eat one homemade banana applesauce muffin, but based on my new plan, I need more.  So I added a tbsp. of peanut butter and a banana.

Workout –
I did a 45 minute spin class followed by some easy stretching and abs.

Breakfast –
A packet of maple brown sugar oatmeal with almond milk, although my meal plan says I should also add some almonds or almond butter but I hadn't been to the store yet, so next time.

Morning Snack –
I have not had a snack between breakfast and lunch in YEARS, but I could feel myself getting a little hungry today around 11am, so I didn’t hold back.  I had carrots and hummus with a hardboiled egg.

Lunch –
I felt really satisfied all morning, but was ready for lunch around 1:15.  So I grabbed my usual turkey wrap with avocado and an apple.  I will start adding on much more avocado to these – another request from my RD (she actually recommends a half of an entire avocado rather than the few slices I am used to - that could get expensive - ha).

Afternoon Snack –
I typically start to get really munchy around 3:00PM and have constant thoughts of food.  But not today!  I started to feel hunger around 4:15 so I had a whole wheat cinnamon raisin English muffin, half spread with almond butter and half with cream cheese.  Plus a nectarine.  SO GOOD, probably the highlight of my meals today.  I think I am just a huge fan of nut butters - because that peanut butter this morning totally hit the spot as well.

*Sidenote - it is really sad that I ate most of these meals at my office desk.

Dinner -
I had to eat an earlier-than normal dinner tonight because I had an appointment at 7.  So I went to Sweetgreen and picked up a salad with broccoli, sweat potato, chickpeas, sprouts, mushrooms, roasted chicken and cucumber yogurt dressing (I actually added the chickpeas at home to save $1.25) ;) 

It is 9pm and I have no munchies or snack cravings like I normally do.  I haven't even thought of food.  I think that means I ate enough, for once, throughout the day and the added fats are keeping me full!  Fingers crossed this gets easier and easier, that my body responds well, and that I start to feel comfortable with this amount of food. 

For the first time in a while, I am really excited about food.  All of the new treats and recipes my RD provided sound delicious and I can't wait to try them.  Just trying to kick the negative thoughts to the curb and stay on track.

Does anyone else eat this much or more food?

Anyone else ever seen a dietician/nutritionist? 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

On Being Enough

Someone said something to me last week that I have thought a lot about.  She asked me why I insist on walking or jogging after I do workout classes at the gym.  I said, "because sometimes the one class isn't enough." She asked me if someone had told me that it wasn't enough and I said, that no, it was me who decided that it wasn't enough.  That I wasn't enough.

We sometimes get caught up thinking about all that we can do to improve ourselves.  Whether we are in search of a dream job, looking for a relationship, trying to fix a broken relationship, getting in shape, striving for our next promotion...trying to be "better" than we are now.

While I believe it is important to have ambitions, goals, and the drive to make things happen in our lives, there are times when we have to reflect on who we are and accept that we are enough.

For me, it has been that I was not thin enough or in shape enough.  In college, I never felt smart enough. In the workplace I often don't feel qualified enough. There was always more I could do to be better.  No matter how hard I worked out, I could always do more. No matter how many calories I cut, I could always cut more.  No matter how much I studied, I could always study more. No matter how qualified I was, I knew there were others who would know more.

Today I am telling myself that I am enough.  I am enough as I am today.  And so are you.

Accepting ourselves as we are now does not mean that we will never work to achieve our dreams.  It doesn't mean we will lie down and be lazy. 

It only means that we will try every day to love ourselves as we are, and we will see the good in ourselves as we are.  Right now.

Does anyone else every beat themselves up for "not being enough'?

Do you succumb to that toxic voice in your head or do you challenge it?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Date and Oat Energy Bites

Happy Sunday!  Hope you are having a great weekend.  I certainly am.  Spent the day wine tasting yesterday in Virginia for a bacheleorette party, and today soaked up some sun on my apartment's rooftop in an attempt to get slightly less pale in time for upcoming weddings and beach trips.

I also took a much needed day off from exercise yesterday, which left me feeling refreshed and ready for a weights class today at my gym.  I even got Travis to join me - it was his first group fitness class and he really liked it.  He is already feeling sore and it has only been a few hours, but it was fun to workout with him and I think he was impressed with my strength when he saw that we were lifting the same weight ;)

It takes a lot of energy to be bronzed, buff and booze-y all in one weekend....

Enter energy bites!

These are perfect bite-sized treats made with all natural ingredients and no added sugar. They taste like cookies, but are loaded with healthy stuff - perfect as a pre-workout snack or a quick bite when you are feeling snacky.

1 cup of dried pitted dates soaked in water until soft (10-15 mins)
1 cup of oats
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut butter
1/4 cup of roasted almonds
1/2 medium ripe banana
1/4 cup of water
1/2 cup of dried unsweetened coconut

Add everything to a food processor except the coconut and blend until dough-like.  Roll into balls and into a shallow bowl with the coconut.  Chill and store in the refrigerator. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

My Favorite Smoothie

Saturdays are usually the days I get the best workouts in.  I try to take it easy most Friday's so I can really enjoy the day the next morning.  This morning, after about 11 hours of sleep, I ate a big breakfast and headed to the gym to try a new cycle class and cash in on a personal training session.  I threw on my fancy new kicks and was out the door.

The cycle class was great, the instructor played fun music and had a ton of energy, reminded me of a camp instructor during my cheerleading days.

The personal training session was tough following a spin class but I brought a snack to refuel - so that helped a lot.  I learned four strength training routines that combined free weights with moves like jumping jacks and squat jumps in between.  I know I will be sore, so I scheduled a deep tissue massage for tomorrow. Treat yourself, right?!

This weekend is definitely shaping up to be all about taking care of myself, so what better way to continue on that trend than with a nutrient packed kale smoothie.

I have a sweet tooth and usually end up adding agave or splenda to my smoothies, but this one had no need for any added sweetener.  I might even argue that it tasted better than my alltime favorite treat...

Maybe not quite that good, but it came pretty close...

The Sweet Kale Smoothie

1 cup of raw rinsed kale
1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk (I used vanilla)
1/3 cup of frozen blueberries
1/2 of a very large banana (or one small banana)
2 tablespoons of P2B powder*
2 tablespoons of unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup of vanilla Greek yogurt
5 ice cubes

Blend everything together and drink up!  Mine was gone in about 2 minutes.

*If you haven't tried PB2 yet, you should!  It is a lighter version of peanut butter - it is pure roasted peanuts, ground up with sugar and salt. When combined with water, it is basically peanut butter.

Do your body good and try this smoothie asap :)

What is your favorite "strange" ingredient to toss into smoothies?

Are you a fan of sweeter smoothies, or tarter versions?