Monthly Favorites: July 2016

Happy August! Eight months of 2016 are over! Finished! Done! This is craziness. August is going to be a very busy month on my end. I’ve got two weeks left of my summer assistantship, then I’ll be heading to New York to visit family, to Boston for the Zac Brown Band concert (SO EXCITED!) and then a week of vacation and calm before a baby shower to finish out the month. Whew! Oh, and my birthday. I’ll be 28 in 3 days and starting my fall semester in 27 days. I have a feeling August will one of those months that flies by. Hopefully we’ll make time for some rest and relaxation before this semester begins!

Backing  up to July – it was a busy month of visits, weddings and lots of travel on Josh’s end. Below are some of my favorites of the month. Comment and let me know what you’ve been loving!:)

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Yoga With Adriene

If I haven’t mentioned Adriene’s channel yet, this is way overdue! I had done her workouts here and there throughout the past few years, but in May I started her 30 day challenge. Having the structure of a yoga session each day and the ease of accessing it online were both just bonus points for an already awesome channel. Adriene’s workouts are catered to all levels with variations throughout, and her personality and honest coaching throughout the videos made her an automatic favorite. I will be incorporating a lot more yoga into my routine, courtesy of her channel!

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Trader Joe’s (Vegan) Dark Chocolate

I assumed chocolate would be off the list of indulgent treats after deciding to eat mostly plant-based, but I was wrong! Trader Joe’s actually offers a number of chocolate bars that are made without dairy, and judging by the taste alone, you’d never guess it. I don’t typically eat a lot of chocolate, but will add in a square every now and then when I’ve got a sweet tooth after dinner.

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Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration – SPF 30

My bottle looks different from this one, but it’s the same formula and I upped the SPF to 30 instead of 15. This spray sunscreen quickly became a favorite because it does exactly what it says it will: it’s hydrating without being sticky, and actually shields your skin from the sun unlike other spray sunscreens that fade quickly.  The tropical smell is the cherry on top! (But it doesn’t smell like cherries…😉 )

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Simply Quinoa

Alyssa’s YouTube channel, Simply Quinoa, is a fantastic resource for plant-based and gluten free recipes. Her  “What I Eat In A Day” videos show super simple, super healthy meals that look amazing, but you’d never think to put together. Her channel has been a huge help in my meal prep the past month and I highly recommend it for anyone looking to eat a more whole foods, plant-based lifestyle!

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Foam Rolling & Tennis Ball Rolling

I used to be able to work out, do some static stretching, and be on my merry way. After I started my personal training, job, however, I realized that being on my feet and moving through workouts all day, that I’d developed plantar fasciitis. When stretching and new shoes still didn’t fully the trick, I started rolling out the tightness with a simple tool: a tennis ball. I’ve used it ever since, and this month it came in especially handy when I needed to roll out tight traps. If you get tight, sore muscles that you can’t seem to find relief for, try this easy, affordable option!

“Spiked” Seltzers

Truth be told, I don’t drink very often, but we’ve had a few special occasions in the month of July, so I found myself celebrating more than usual. My drink of choice? Any seltzer. I’ve tried each of these brands and they’re almost identical, at least when it comes to the lime flavor which is my go-to. I love these because they’re low carb, low sugar, and in any additives and dyes. Most importantly, though, they’re super refreshing so they make a perfect summertime drink!

Monthly Favorites: June 2016

Holy. Moly. This year is more than halfway over. Think about that for a second. It’s cliche, but time really does fly by so much faster the older you get.

Anyway, how was your fourth?:) We spent the long weekend visiting Josh’s parents, hanging out with his brother, and barhopping around the Old Port, playing tourist!

Shipyard changed their brewery tasting layout and it’s no longer free, but you can get a 4 ounce flight of beer for $4. It was well worth it, and I’ve decided that Shipyard makes the best summer / fruity but not sweet beers. I opted for Island Time, Sunfish, Fireberry Tea Brew, and Melon Head. They were all delicious, but Sunfish almost always takes top for me – I’m a sucker for grapefruit beer!

My first summer session ended on Sunday and I started my second session today. I’m really happy with the way I structured my classes and am so glad I opted not to take the entire summer off. By August, I’ll have knocked off an additional 9 credits and be in the zone to head into the fall semester.

It’s been a while since I did a Friday Favorite, and I think I’ve decided to change these posts to be more of a Monthly Favorite for the time being. School is crazy, and I honestly haven’t had the chance to try much new stuff since I started my program! Monthly will allow me to give a wider range of products and more in-depth reviews. Below are some of my June Favorites! Let me know what you’ve been loving in the comments.:)

Rose Hip Oil

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This stuff has done more for my skin than any other product. I first learned about it from Julie at PBFingers, and she’s right on the money. This oil has evened out my skin tone, helped prevent new blemishes, healed years of acne scars, and moisturizes while sinking in pretty quickly. It’s also supposed to help with wrinkle reduction but I don’t have enough wrinkles quite yet to notice a big difference. It only takes me about 4-5 drops for my entire face (less if I’m wearing it under sunscreen during the day) and I can’t say enough good things about it. Considering you can get a huge bottle for only $14 on Amazon, it’s an awesome deal.

Power Smoothie found on Buzzfeed (my version!)

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I love me a solid green smoothie, but have a hard time finding ones that don’t require a ton of fruit to balance out the greens. However, this recipe has been my go to and it is the perfect combination of sweet, green, refreshing and filling. The only changes I make are I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk instead of soy, and add in 3 drops of vanilla stevia to make up for the sweetness. It. Is. SO. Good. I’ve had this nearly every other day for a few months now, sometimes subbing in berries for the pears and kale for the spinach. It’s a delicious, quick breakfast!

Super Cortisol Support

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At my most recent doctor’s appointment, my doctor expressed concern about my stress levels. While stress isn’t something new to me, graduate school, work, and struggles with my thyroid may have been exacerbating it a bit. While this hasn’t necessarily helped with weight loss, it has given me a clearer mind and helped me manage my stress levels a bit better. There is a noticeable difference in my mental clarity when I do not take it, especially around bedtime, so this one will definitely be repurchased.

Bigelow Lemon Ginger Herb Tea with Probiotics

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I’ve mentioned before that I’m a huge kombucha fan – when I have my bad days where I feel absolutely awful, no matter what I eat (or don’t) I typically reach for a kombucha and it helps significantly. However, kombucha is pricey, and I need to keep it to the occasional treat rather than a daily thing. Enter this tea, which has a similar flavor to my favorite kevita drink, and has probiotics as well! Granted, it isn’t as effective as kombucha, it does help settle my stomach. Not to mention, it’s delicious!

Summer Dresses from Old Navy

If you’re in need of comfortable, flattering summer dresses and don’t want to spend much, hit up Old Navy – but wait for a sale. Old Navy is affordable as is, but I scored all three of the above dresses for $7-$20 each. The left one I have in black and pink, both costing me $7. The one on the right, I purchased in black and is a little dressier – would be great to wear to a wedding, or casually. The center one is my favorite, a fitted striped ponte dress that cinches in at the waist. I’m debating wearing it to a wedding this summer but it’s also the perfect dress for work. I’ve bought many Old Navy items and the quality holds up, in my opinion! All of my money goes to school, books and basic living necessities, so it’s nice to still look cute without breaking the bank.:)

Soap & Glory Righteous Body Lotion

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I’ve had the Hand Food lotion from Soap & Glory on and off for years, but only recently tried out their body lotion. I found it on sale at Ulta, and I’m completely obsessed with the smell; clean, semi-sweet and super feminine. While the smell alone sold me, I ended up loving the formula, too. The scent stays put and it packs some serious moisture, staying put until my next shower everyday.

  • What’s your favorite product of the summer so far?
  • Happy July!!

WIAW #41 – Plant-based & Puppy Baths

Good morning! Long time no see😉

My breakfast this morning: 1 slice of Julie’s (from PBfingers.com) baked oatmeal topped with pb and hemp seeds with a green smoothie!

 

I know, I know, this is where I restate my case for being “M.I.A.”, but you guys know the drill by now. Still chugging away at school, chipping away at work, and trying my best to have a life outside of it all. Despite being busy, I’m actually in a really good groove with everything lately. (Hence the post, I suppose!) I’m currently wrapping up my first condensed semester of the summer where I’m taking a multicultural counseling class and a chemical dependency class. I’ve said it once, but I’ll say it again: I love my program. This session ends on July 1st, and I start my second session on the 5th when I’ll be taking a psych measurement and evaluation class. I’m a bit nervous about that class, but the professor teaching it is one of my favorites so I’ think I’ll make it out unscathed.:)

Now that we’re big-picture caught up, let’s chat food and fitness!

From Tuesday: This morning was pretty hectic. I took Gracie girl for our usual morning walk, but on our way back she couldn’t help but roll in the grass on our front lawn – I checked and there was nothing there (sometimes she tries to roll in poo!) so I let her have her happy puppy moment. But the second we got inside, I could tell she rolled in something. She had nothing on her, but the smell was horrible! Cue an impromptu puppy bath before I headed off to work!

She’s lucky she’s cute.

I then grabbed the oats I’d prepped before our walk, tossed them in the microwave and ate them on the way.

Looks gross, tastes awesome: 1/2 cup oats with grated zucchini, blueberries and pb swirled in.

For lunch, I had my recent favorite salad: kale massaged with avocado, lemon and sea salt, with spinach, broccoli slaw, cranberries, almonds and the tiniest bit of goat cheese. I also had half a can of Amy’s organic vegetable soup in a mason jar on the side.


Around 3PM, I had some chocolate Sun Warrior vegan protein (good, but the chocolate Sun Warrior PLUS flavor is still my favorite) with a banana and peanut butter. This snack checks all the boxes: carbs, fats, and protein!

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I hit the gym right around 5PM and was excited to see I only had 30 minutes of cardio on the menu for the day. After yesterday’s leg day I wasn’t feeling lifting much anyway. I’m currently following Lee Labrada’s 12 Week Lean Trainer program from Bodybuilding.com and am really enjoying it. After the 5×5 app, I moved toward a push, pull, leg routine and this is similar to that split. I follow the program along on the Bodyspace app, which is super convenient but in all honestly, I wouldn’t recommend that app for anything other than tracking the program as it’s incredibly clunky.

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After the gym, I munched on a clementine before dinner (not pictured) and kept things really simple. Dinner was carrots, cucumber, hummus, and two teriyaki tofu blocks. This flavor is really good and if you’re lazy like me, you don’t have to heat them up!

I finished the night with my favorite flavor of Kevita kombucha. YUM.

You can probably tell, I’m still eating mostly plant-based. Meat hasn’t been sitting well with my digestive system, so I try to limit it. Usually I only have it if Josh and I go to a barbecue or an event where it’s the least processed option. I also occasionally will have eggs and this week tried out some goat cheese because I had a craving for a specific salad. It’s not my goal to be vegetarian or vegan – I’m just trying to find the foods that work best for my body and my digestive system, since my hypothyroidism is determined to throw everything off track.

As far as my hypothyroidism goes, it’s still a work in progress. I’m hoping my doctor will let me try out T3 supplementation when I meet with her for my yearly physical. I have lost a little bit of the extra weight, and my clothes are fitting much better lately. I’ll be sure to post any updates that might be helpful to others if I eventually find my way through all of this!:)

  • What’s your favorite summer salad?
  • Do you use Bodyspace? Yay or nay?

WIAW #40: Bintliff’s, Pancakes & An Abundance of Whole Foods

Good morning and happy hump day!

These past few weeks have been pretty intense for me, but next week is Spring Break, so of course, this week is crawling. However, I’m looking forward to some free time to work on assignments and get my priorities straight before the toughest part of the semester hits.

Since I last posted, Josh turned 27 (Happy Birthday, Love!!) and I wrapped up training at the gym I’d been working at. Other than that, there’s been a ton of stuff going on in my program, but that’s a long, boring stressful post and I’ll spare you the details😉

On another note, Josh and I went to Bintliff’s (now Bayside American Cafe) in Portland. They’re pretty famous for their brunch and Josh wanted to go for his birthday. We both ordered eggs Benedict – mine with the sauce on the side and potatoes, his with the sauce and corned beef hash. It was super delicious, just the right amount of food, and it didn’t sit heavy like a lot of savory brunch food does. Kudos to them for not smothering everything in butter and oil.

The menu

The birthday boy!

The food. Nom nom nom.

In summary: Bintliff’s is worth the wait in the morning and while they serve typical brunch foods, it’s much tastier and lighter than the usual old diner grub.

Moving on, let’s get in to the WIAW!

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This picture was from a different day (I didn’t eat a banana or the protein), but here are some of the things I try to start every morning off with: Apple cider vinegar, thyroid energy, vitamin D, and psyllium husks.

Breakfast was the same old staple of 1 egg, whites and oats. (Recycled picture.)

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Oldie but goodie. Can’t go wrong with eggs and oats!

Lunch was a lean turkey burger, diced purple potatoes and a salad consisting of arugula, alfalfa sprouts, avocado and baby cucumber. Topped with Trader Joe’s champagne pear dressing.

Purple potatoes = so yummy.

Mid-afternoon snack happened because I had a heck of a sweet tooth going, and this seemed to be the perfect little combination. Greek yogurt + 5 grams of About Time’s birthday cake protein + stevia + sliced almonds, topped with yes, sprinkles. I used this as a high protein dip for some apple slices and it was amazing.

Don’t let Grace fool you… she begged until she realized her efforts were futile.:)

Workout of the day was my 5×5 StrongLifts workout. I had overhead press, squats, deadlifts, barbell curls, hanging knee raises and pullups that day, and felt really good after. Training wise, I’ve been doing a simpler approach. Instead of doing a body split 6 days a week, I’m using two apps to get in a combination of heavy lifting and cardio: Couch to 10K and 5×5 Strong Lifts.

 

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I lift as heavy as possible on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and follow along my Couch to 10K on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Sundays are left for whatever I feel like – usually the stairmill, elliptical, treadmill and some glute or shoulder work. Unless I take a yoga day or rest day. I love how simplified this is – being able to just alternate an app and follow along. It takes the stress out of planning a workout and I’m really excited to be building endurance and strength simultaneously.

After my workout, dinner was another lean turkey burger with white rice over a side salad of arugula, sprouts and avocado, topped with Trader Joe’s green dragon sauce. (That stuff beats sriracha any day.)

Later on in the evening, my sweet tooth was kicking in, but I wanted to keep it on the light side so I did a variation of my protein pancake (pictured here in all it’s glory, with bananas). The version I had instead, halfed all of the ingredients and replaced the oats with 10 grams of psyllium husk. I also nixed the bananas, because I just wasn’t hungry for a big pancake with all the fixins.:) It hit the spot!

And I want to share this amazingly delicious acai bowl from Maine Squeeze juice cafe with you (I ate it over the weekend, not the same day) because it’s beautiful. :p Also, Josh’s trip to Cali and snaps of delicious acai bowls made me crave one big time!

I need to make these a staple. But my poor wallet just won’t allow it.😉

  • What are some of your favorite eats this week?
  • Have you ever had an acai bowl?
  • Any cool training apps you swear by?

 

WIAW #39: Typical Eats

Happy Hump Day!

I love Wednesdays. They’re busy, but I’m in one place most of the day until I have client sessions at night. Knowing I’m in one place for a while allows me to unpack, both mentally and physically, and focus on what I need to get done.

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I’m getting back into the swing of things with these What I Ate Wednesdays, and I’ll be honest, I forget my phone a lot lately! So, I figured I would give you a glimpse of what a typical day has been looking like lately, but this is not exactly what I had in one day.

On Tuesdays, I typically have a morning client, then my assistantship, then off to class. My client cancelled, however, so I woke up, threw on some workout clothes and took Grace for a long walk around the neighborhood. It was beautiful out and I cannot wait for warmer days to be a consistent thing! Afterwards, I did a quick workout before hopping in the shower to start my day: Melissa Bender’s 20 minute arms and abs session. It was a nice way to wake my body and mind up without overwhelming it. I’ve been making a couple changes to my training lately because I’m not always able to make it to the gym. Melissa Bender’s channel has been my go to!

Breakfast was a sit down meal for the first time in a while. Aside from weekends, I usually eat breakfast in my car on the way to clients. Sitting down and being able to eat slowly and mindfully is pretty nice, I have to say! I had the usual: oatmeal with stevia and cinnamon, and an egg scrambled with egg whites and Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute. I also had a half a serving of low fat mango kefir. I am in love with kefir.

My morning snack was around noon: a gala apple with Greek yogurt and chia seeds. If I don’t go the yogurt route, I’ll usually always have an apple with peanut butter.

Lunch was an awesome salad: arugula topped with diced cucumbers, red peppers and Florida avocado (also called slimcado? They have a lighter taste and less fat!) along with Trader Joe’s champagne pear dressing. I find lunch the easiest time to get my veggies in so I usually always have a salad, with the contents being the only thing that change.

Dinner is where things are the least consistent. Usually I’ll go for a meal like this one Josh made a few weeks ago: salmon with veggies and mango:

Sometimes we’ll go out for a late lunch that leaves me a ton of leftovers for dinner. Pho, for example, makes 3 meals for me.

And some days, I just don’t feel like cooking much, so I settle for a half a cup of rice with veggies or oatmeal.

One thing I am making an effort to do is to consciously eat more carbs.You’re probably thinking “MORE?!” because everyone likes to tell you that carbs are bad, carbs make you fat and carbs cause weight gain. None of this is true. I still struggle with this sometimes, but the truth is that restricting carbs and over-training did a number on my body and my hormones. I’m trying to reverse the damage I’ve done by feeding my body enough to fuel a typical day and my workouts. THIS article by Robyn Coale of The Real Life RD sums it up amazingly well. I share it because I wish I’d have read it all those years I was limiting myself to a cup of grains a day and spending 1.5 hours in the gym. You can only do that for so long until your body throws a fit and you wind up with a real issue. Long story short, you’ll be seeing more carbs in my WIAWs from here on out!

  • What’s your favorite healthy carb source?

 

Friday Favorites #29

WHOA, is that a Friday Favorites post?! Why, yes it is! I’m back in the game after a long hiatus. If you’re reading this, thanks for sticking with me.😉

As my Monday through Friday workload increases, I am more thankful than ever for Fridays. This weekend Josh and I have plans to grab pho (first time ever, for me) and a couple drinks on Saturday before the North Dakota game. Other than that,  I’ve got quite a bit of studying and paper writing on my plate that I’ll be happy to cross off.

Now that the weekend’s taken care of, let’s get into some of my favorite things lately. As always, share your favorites in the comments!

Kombucha

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I mentioned in my last post that I’ve been feeling really off these past couple weeks, with headaches and stomach issues among other things. I’d had kombucha before this and didn’t fall in love right away,  but I decided to give it another try for health’s sake. It turned out to be one of the only things that didn’t make me feel worse, but actually made me feel better. Maybe it’s a combination of the carbonation and probiotics, but whatever it was it helped. I usually reach for the brand that’s the cheapest where ever I stop, since they are pricey little suckers. I really love the Gingerberry from Synergy brand, and the Blueberry Cherry from Kevita. (If the apple cider vinegar scent is something you can’t get past, lean toward Kevita!)

The Naked Bee Orange Blossom Honey Lotion

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My brother gave my mom, sister and I this lotion for Christmas. My hands and skin have been extremely dry this winter (which is strange considering the weather has been warmer than usual), so I’ve reached for this quite a bit. The scent alone makes me want to bathe in it! It’s hard to describe but it’s sweet, citrusy, but neither too much of either of those things. It’s also really thick, sinks in quickly, and stays absorbed even after washing your hands.

Trader Joe’s Sunflower Seed Butter

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Like peanut butter… but better. Yes, better. I’ve been trying out different types of nut butters over the past few years and have learned I love all of them. This one sits right in the middle, price wise at 4.99. (Natural PB can be about 3.99, and almond butter starts around 7.99!) This is an awesome alternative when you’re looking to switch things up.

That Used To Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back

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How’s that for a lengthy title? This is one of my additional texts for my career counseling course. I ended up buying the audiobook version so I could essentially study while I work out. With election season among us and a million arguments being tossed back and forth about the economy, this book is a stand out compilation of some of America’s biggest areas of improvement, and how important it is for us to start making changes now. It’s really an interesting read and offers a lot of insight into issues that we face now and will face in the future. A little frightening, with a dash of hope – an essential read.

Amazing Grass Green Superfood Powder (in chocolate)pGNC1-9028359t300x300.jpgI also picked up this stuff from Vitamin Shoppe, because I’d heard a lot about it and saw that it was 40% off! I have a greens powder from Trader Joe’s but the taste is borderline unbearable. (I don’t remember it being that bad, so maybe they changed their formula?) Anywho – this stuff is another story altogether! It’s thick, a little earthy tasting, but has a rich chocolate flavor. I always have it for breakfast, and notice when I don’t, I reach for coffee more often. If this can replace a morning coffee, I’d call that a success!

Lenny & Larry’s Complete Cookies

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I’ve been on the go a lot this semester and found these at Vitamin Shoppe after forgetting to pack lunch before class. These cookies are by no means a low calorie option, but they’re ginormous, delicious, thick, soft, dense and super filling. They’re also vegan, and pack a bit of protein into the mix. Are they a health food? No. But in a pinch, are they delicious and not as bad as a regular cookie? Sure. Even despite the “health” appeal, I would choose these cookies over any cookie any day, they’re that good. I’ve tried the Birthday Cake flavor and the Chocolate Chip. They do not disappoint.

  • What are some of your favorites this week?
  • Have you bought anything on this list? Thoughts?

Operation Prioritization

Try saying that 5 times fast!

It’s March. We are three months into this new year. Let that sink in.I remember growing up, everyone always saying that the older you get, the quicker time flies by. They are so, so right. Every day is a fresh start, but there’s something about a new month that seems a little but more exciting than a new day or new week. Each month seems to have a theme and this year the month of March, for me, is prioritization. 

Valentine’s day date with Josh at Portland Patisserie before seeing Deadpool!

February was a tad bit overwhelming. I was going through a rough time trying to juggle work, school and my graduate assistantship. I’ve always been an over-doer, but I think I officially piled way too much onto my plate this time. I’ve been bouncing around, on the go for 14-18 hours a day, M-F. And this time didn’t include any study time. It took me looking over some CPCE exam questions to realize how little time I was able to give to the things that need to be prioritized.

I was also (and still am) struggling with my hypothyroidism. The fatigue has been hitting harder than ever, along with constant headaches, muscle aches and – possibly unrelated to hypothyroidism – my body just outright rejecting any food that wasn’t absolutely clean as can be.  I’m slowly finding my groove with this now, and the headaches have started to dissipate, but it’s rough not knowing when things are going to go south.

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Grace keeping me company on one of my sick days.

If my body, mind, and heart are telling me anything, they’re collectively rebelling and telling me to SLOW DOWN. It’s time I listened. So for the new month ahead, I’ve made some goals to help myself slow down and focus.

  • Make school a priority. This is my future we’re talking about and I need to create the conditions that will allow me to do the best possible job in my program. This is moving incredibly quick and I need to do a better job keeping up by putting it FIRST.
    • Literally scheduling time each day to study.
    • Physically removing myself from distracting environments to do so.
    • Ending my time as a personal trainer at a local gym. This one’s a big one. The schedule is too inconsistent and time-consuming to allow me to develop a routine around my priorities for school. I’m finishing out some client agreements, and then can put my full attention back on school. That being said, I am making online training packages available, so that I can still continue to train because it really is a passion of mine. Online training would allow for flexibility that in-person just doesn’t.
  • Show more love to Josh and Grace. These two are my world. I’m often so stressed out with other, less important things, that when I get home I vent, or I direct all my attention to trying to fix areas of my life instead of spending quality uninterrupted time with both of them. There’s no better way to slow down than to focus on being present with both of them.
    • Make a point to put Gracie girl first, regardless of schedule.
    • Try to vent on paper rather than to Josh all the time.
  • Make time to journal or meditate each day. I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal since the new year started, where I write one line of something I’m grateful for. i often fall behind a few days, and then look back on them and reflect but I’d like to write these more in the present moment, and actually take the time to appreciate them. Meditate in this sense, can even just mean taking time to paint my nails, do yoga, color, anything! Anything that doesn’t have a deadline and doesn’t require stress on my brain or body to get done.
    • Literally scheduling time to do so each week.

Aside from that, I do have physical and training goals, but those all rely on my getting the important parts of my life together. The gym is my last priority right now, though I do make an effort to work out daily when I can. I’ll likely post about the physical / training goals once things start to fall into line! (And yes, those WIAWs and Friday Faves will work their way back into this blog, I promise!)

Your turn:

  • How has 2016 been treating you so far?
  • What are your goals for the month?