Ask any one of my closest friends and they'll tell you I've been a little all over the place for the last couple years. Not sure what I want to do, where I want to go, what or who I want to be, taking and leaving the advice and guidence my parents gave to me as a child, making sense of teachers and professors advice, etc.... Mid 20's are quite a challenge sorting through most of this crap, some of it is great and some can be left at the door. There is one thing though that remains a constant and reoccuring theme that I've been learning as I keep trecking on; and that is that life is a tapestry.
A tapestry, for those who don't know, is "a piece of thick textile fabric with pictures or designs formed by weaving colored weft threads or by embroidering on canvas, used as a wall hanging or furniture covering." (Wikipedia) Or we can reference a quilt as well for this blog post.
Let me explain. I've been the kind of person to look for and pursue the BIG moments. Working at Juilliard, conducting musical productions, losing 150lbs. While these are big achievements and have taken a great deal of time, education and persistance, these moments are only one piece of fabric within the whole stitched together with time and doing. They aren't the end-all, be-all, nor should they be.
I was at the gym the other day and was flipping through the basic cable channels; Rachel Ray was on. She was being interviewed about her life and career as a celebrity and well-known TV personality. The interviewer asked her, and I'm powerphrasing, what she would change or do differently about her past if she could. She said she wouldn't change anything, even the things that were a struggle or that, at the time, seemed to be the worst moment of her life. She said that life is like a quilt and that if she were to change one stitch, it could change everything about the course of her life so far. Which reminds me, it's kind of like those time-travel episodes in Family Guy where if one little thing is altered in the past, it causes a chain reaction of events that can make life very different in the present and going forward.
It's not 2017 yet and I'm not a resolution type of guy. I'd rather set 3-5 big goals to work on for the year and achieve them. I keep learning that life is meant to be explored, evolve and unravel from moment to moment without us as human beings messing with the process and trying to control the direction of every stitch and aspect of our quilt/tapestry. Focus on each moment and enjoy the highs, lows, unsure areas, the scary parts, the happy parts, the confusing parts... it ALL makes up the quilt and tapestry of life; to resist these things is to resist what is and to delay putting together a fullfilling and rewarding life, whatever that means for you.
Try new adventures, make new friends, step outside of the box and attempt things and situations that are interesting, fearful, rewarding and exhilerating without hesitation.
I leave you with my favorite quote:
"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever" - Steve jobs
Hello lovely readers!
It has been quite some time since I have been able to actually sit down and come up with something worthwhile to write for this blog... and you can imagine by the title of this one, that I'm still struggling! I've slowly been learning a concept that may seem obvious to most, but for me hasn't sunken in quite yet.
I spent the last few days reading through piles of books lying around the house, talking to friends on the phone, and pitter-pattering on social media websites for entertainment and to find some kind of "answer" to an unknown question lying deep in my subconscious. (I'm getting fancy now...) What I came up with is this: Everyone struggles with something!
You have no idea how profoundly comforting it is to hear that at my ripe ol' age of... twenty-something... To deny this reality only hurts ones self and doesn't allow room for growth as a person. In order to grow, there needs to be a struggle. Think about people who are muscle builders. Muscles need to rip and tear in order for them to grow and become bigger. The same is true with life. The good, bad and confusing situations thrown at us are used as a means for human beings to grow, develop and learn important life-lessons. Even though I do not know the "answer" to my said question, it's perfectly okay to not have an answer for why things happen and to just push through.
How many times does a baby have to fall and hurt itself in order to learn and walk? How many close-call-car-accidents does one person need to endure before he/she learns to slow down and not text and drive? It took Edison over 1,000 tries at the light bulb before he eventually came up with what we all take for granted today. The point is, we need to have struggles in order to grow. Even if the struggle is uncomfortable. Once we overcome a struggle, we grow and eventually look back with different eyes and a clearer picture of who we are and what we are all about (the "answer" to an unknown question).
I was always under the impression, somewhere in the back of my brain, that once I reached my goal weight, I would be done. No more. Finished. Ended. Could check it off my list of things to do. Don't have to think about it anymore. Don't have to work as hard in order to stay fit and healthy... Nothing could be further from the truth for me.
The truth is that I have, and continue to have, struggles within life and shouldn't expect them to ever go away. There is no "end" to them. However, how I choose to handle these struggles as they come, can either hurt, help or do nothing for me; the choice is mine to make!
"Life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it..."
- Charles R. Swindoll -
Since the start of August 2013, I have been putting myself under unnecessary pressure and setting unrealistic expectations for myself, which in turn has caused me to use food as a way to cope with these feelings. This struggle has not been ideal, but I am coming out stronger and am learning to let go of the expectations I went in with. They make great goals for the future! But right now, they aren't helping my health and wellness.
I've learned, and now am grasping the idea, that any type of weight loss, weight management, health, fitness and wellness is a constant, ongoing process that will carry through all of my life. There is never an "end" to managing and maintaining my health. Being mindful of my lifestyle of health and wellness will be a sure way to keep off, and maintain, my weight for the remainder of my anticipated very long life I plan on living.
I hope you've enjoyed reading my ongoing "Everyone Struggles" saga. I find this all to be part of being a young, twenty-something in the world today. Although, I'm sure many folks who aren't twenty-something can identify with the things I speak of here. Put into practice just going with the flow of things and not react. I find this to be the best thing that works for me at this moment in time.
Have a safe and happy New Year everyone! Bring on the struggle! Until next time...
Creating a vision board is a great way to set your goals, wants and desires to paper. Many people talk and dream about the goals they hope to achieve in life and never fully accomplish or pursue it.
A vision board will give you a perspective and sense of direction for yourself. Here are 3 simple rules to keep in mind when you are creating your vision board:
1. Print photos, logos, slogans or any other media that fits your desires and goals. Don't be shy about dreaming BIG; no idea is too small or silly!
2. Make sure you put a photo of yourself (or a small mirror) towards the center of your poster. This helps you to visualize yourself surrounded by all your dreams and wants in life.
3. Hang your poster where you will see and read it every day. If you put a mirror in the center (which I was supposed to do in the video but never did) it helps even more when you look at your vision board.
I have a friend who created a vision board years ago, and it's funny how it actually worked for her. If you stick to it and don't doubt what you're doing, the possibilities are endless!
I like to think of certain foods as a blank canvas. What do I mean by that? Well, take something really simple like scrambled eggs. The FIRST thing I think of when I'm going to cook some for breakfast is "what can I add to the eggs to make them more nutritious to my body?". Eggs alone contain a great deal of nutritional value to them, but eggs also make for a terrific blank canvas for your imagination to explore and run wild.
Let's stick with the egg. Try adding some spinach, sliced cherry tomatoes and feta cheese for a tasty omelet. Feta adds saltiness and the cherry tomatoes incorporate sweetness so you satisfy the taste buds and aren't depriving yourself of flavor. Chop up fresh basil and toss it in before you serve if you want an even sweeter omelet. There are many ways to cook an egg and you should do what you're comfortable with. The beauty of blank canvas foods is the freedom to experiment and "paint" something fun and delicious that is also healthy and nutritious for your body!
If you're not in the mood for eggs, then try plain oatmeal or a no-sugar-added breakfast cereal. Getting the no-sugar-added, unflavored oatmeal/cereal allows for YOU to control what you're eating and let's you start with that blank canvas. What I do is take oatmeal and add cinnamon, frozen berry medley (they thaw out in the hot oatmeal), slivered raw almonds and a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup. These are all-natural sugars and ingredients that are nutritionally beneficial and add depth to any meal. Mix it up a bit! Try banana and apples in your oatmeal with cinnamon and a few drops of vanilla extract. See!... it's fun and exciting to figure out new ways to create awesome tasting, non-processed and healthy foods to keep you feeling great.
I consider blank canvas foods to be salad, stir-fry, tomato sauce, wraps and sandwiches. There are many things you can do and add to these mediums to improve your overall health. I want to know what you come up with! What do YOU paint with your food?
Healthy food gets a bad reputation for being boring and rigid. Good news is it doesn't have to be! Healthy food is what you make of it. Restricting yourself to foods you don't enjoy will leave you feeling miserable about what you're doing and eventually will give up all together. Create something you will enjoy using the blank canvas foods. I'm interested in learning what you come up with!
Until next time, happy painting!...
I can't live without my iPhone, iPad or MacBook Pro. What makes it worse are the crazy amount of apps that are available. Here are my top 5 free health apps (in no particular order) which I find quite useful and informative.
~ Shop Well ~
Shop Well is an app that takes your nutritional preferences (no sugar, low salt, no preservatives, etc...) and gives you food choices and brands to buy to live a healthy lifestyle. All you do is scan an item with your device, let's say Wheat Thins, and Shop Well gives that specific item a grade based on what you set your nutritional preferences to be. It also gives you the ingredient list, nutritional label and reasons why you should or shouldn't consume a certain product. Shop Well has a team of registered dietitians working to give accurate information to people who use this app. I highly recommend giving it a try!
~ Chem Cuisine ~
Ever wonder what Xanthan Gum is or why High Fructose Corn Syrup is not healthy for you? Well, Chem Cuisine, short for Chemical Cuisine, is a database of hundreds of food additives and chemicals that are found in processed foods throughout the grocery store. You can look up any ingredient found on your nutrition label and Chem Cuisine gives you the types of products it's found in, whether or not you should stay away from it or consume it moderately, and it backs up the information with research and tons of information. Chem Cuisine is run by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) which has a team of dietitians, nutritionists and researchers who study the chemicals in our food supply. This app has a lot of great information and can be useful to know what it is that is going into our bodies.
~ Map My Walk/Run ~
There are two kinds; map my walk and map my run. Both work the same way and I really don't see a difference between the two. Turn this app on and go for a stroll or sprint miles around your neighborhood. This app uses the GPS in your device to track how many miles you run/walk, how long it takes, how many calories you burn, the incline at which you were running/walking and so many other features. Even if you aren't an avid runner or find much time to go for a long walk. Map My Walk/Run can be left on while you're walking around the mall, grocery store or hiking up a mountain. It's basically like a highly sophisticated pedometer, except it's an app! I don't ever workout without using it. Their online site uploads your run or walk from your phone and you can track your food throughout the day as well. If you don't like this app, Nike also makes a running/walking app as well (http://nikeplus.nike.com/plus/products/gps_app/)
~ MyFitnessPal ~
This is an awesome tool for anyone trying to count calories and log their food throughout the day. MyFitnessPal is a free calorie counter, diet and exercise app. Similar to Map My Walk, it allows you to track your diet and monitor your portion sizes. It even tells you how many calories you should be consuming based on your height, weight and age. This app also offers a slew of other apps which can track your walks, test your pulse and much more. Check out the other apps here http://www.myfitnesspal.com/apps.
~ AnyList ~
Last, but not least, there is AnyList. AnyList is basically just that. You can create a shopping list and check off what you already have in your cart as you shop. The cool thing about this app is that you can share your list across other devices. So if you have a family and need to add things to the weekly shopping list, you can just by using the app. Once one person adds something to the list, it is automatically synced to the rest of the family and it really helps to keep everything in order when you go grocery shopping. Not only that, but you can store your favorite recipes and just add your ingredients from the recipe to the list for a quick and easy-to-use app. I never shop at a grocery store without a list!
I hope you find these as enjoyable and useful as I have. If you have any cool interesting health apps to share, let me know! I love to try new things and open my mind to different views and information. Enjoy!
It takes some thought and work to make healthy choices and it can be expensive/time consuming to prepare your own meals with natural ingredients and whole foods. So how on earth do we make this work? One quick, cost effective and healthy solution is to utilize your freezer and buy frozen vegetables and fruits.
Let's look at the cost benefits of frozen. Take corn, for example. ShopRite sells frozen bags of corn kernels at $1.99 for a 24oz bag. They also sell fresh ears of corn in the produce section at $4.99 for a 4-pack. 1 medium ear of corn yields roughly 6oz of corn kernels, which equates to 4 ears of corn needed to match the 24oz bag of frozen. So, you can either buy:
- 24oz bag of frozen corn at $1.99 OR
- 4 ears (24oz) at $4.99
You save a whopping 3 bucks if you buy the frozen bag. In fact, you can get 48oz of frozen corn for the price of the fresh.
This is true for the corn, and yes ShopRite and other supermarkets have sales that will vary the cost. However, fresh produce goes to waste faster because... well... it's fresh produce. Most people don't use all of what they purchase when it is fresh just for that reason, not to mention, not everybody eats corn everyday.
Cooking with Frozen:
I'm not the professional on, "which is better for you frozen or fresh?" when it comes to produce. From what I've experienced, it makes no difference nutritionally whether you eat frozen or fresh vegetables. I find it so much easier to work with frozen produce as I can take as little or as much as I want with no waste. Not to mention you save money doing it.
There are many ways to work with frozen produce. One way is to put some of your favorite veggies into a microwave safe bowl and add about 1 cup of water. Microwave for a few minutes and drain the water. Now you have thawed, cooked veggies as a side dish without wasting a steam-able bag (which costs a lot of money) or wasting time preparing and washing fresh produce.
Another way I like to cook frozen vegetables is to start with your frying pan! Heat your pan on med-high with a serving of olive or safflower oil. Take a bag of frozen onions, mixed vegetables or whatever you plan on adding to your meal and measure out about a handful of each frozen bag. Throw it in the hot pan and let it thaw/cook. Add some brown rice and your favorite lean protein with a little bit of low sodium tomato sauce. Stir it all together and serve! You don't have to waste any time cooking healthy when you're on a time crunch. It's fun to do and helps me to maintain my weight while being busy.
Along with frozen veggies, supermarkets sell frozen fruit as well. I'm not a huge fan of frozen fruit as it's kind of hard to thaw it out unless you have some time to follow the instructions on the bag. Something cool and sweet I enjoy in the summer are frozen mango chucks. I eat them frozen right out of the bag. It is almost like eating an ice pop and has the same texture and consistency when you bite into it. Frozen fruit is also a great smoothie maker. Just take a cup of your favorite fruit blend and throw them into a blender. Add a scoop or two of low/non-fat Greek yogurt, a banana and some spinach and blend it all together. You have a sweet, rich and creamy option that is jam packed with nutrients and tastes divine! Not to mention you save time and money with frozen fruit.
I do enjoy having fresh veggies/fruit when I can afford it and feel like having them. If you're looking for a way to have a quick meal that is cost effective AND healthy, then frozen is definitely the way to go! I have posted some information about fresh vs. frozen below for your perusal:
1. Fresh vs. Frozen
2. Frozen Vegetables are Hot!
During my week, I tend to eat a healthy diet consisting of tons of veggies, fruits, nuts, lean protein and complex carbs. There is, however, that one day during the week that I allow myself to have something a little extra that is outside of my realm of health foods; pizza, cake, chocolate, ice cream, sweets etc... I usually make this day Friday since it's the day I weigh myself.
This is how it goes down:
I usually go out to a diner with some friends and indulge on the one thing, or several things, I have been craving all week. At times, though, I don't feel like getting anything at all, but since it is Friday (my "little something extra"), I tend to order off the menu anyway. I place my order, get my treat and indulge. Depending on what it is (generally nothing remotely close to the bottom of the food pyramid) I don't feel thick or heavy after eating it, but sometimes I do. On Saturday, I usually wake up with stomach pains, bloating, cramps along with other gastrointestinal sounds and what not. These "symptoms" last a day or two and then go away.
As crazy as it may seem, my body was and has been talking to me all along. For me, I find it hard to listen to my body when I am out with a group of friends, family or anything social. Let's face it, eating is fun, enjoyable and just so damn tasty, but the reaction to my body after the Friday night "forgy" (food + orgy) shouldn't go unnoticed. I've been failing to listen to the signals my body has been sending me. It is very important for each of us to listen to our own bodies and what is true for us, not just with food, but in every aspect of our lives.
I've talked in past blogs about becoming mindful and self aware of ones self and feel I have strayed from that a little bit. It's okay though, we are all works in progress and no one is perfect or has all the answers. The answers come from within. I've slowly been learning this mindset and have found several sources in which I find helpful such as www.tinybudda.com. This site has a lot of good, useful, suggestive information that has helped me through some things over the past few months. I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone, even if you aren't Buddhist, it doesn't matter.
So I have made a promise to keep listening, being mindful and aware of what my body/heart is saying to me. Whether it be with food, relationships, family, career choices and friendships... all the answers we seek can only come from listening to ourselves on the inside. Until next time!
I love PBnJ sandwiches, they are creamy and delicious. Though, depending on how it is made, PBnJ can add some unnecessary, unwanted calories to your meal. I came up with a new version in a wrap which packs a lot of nutrition and doesn't lose the tasty, creamy quality of the real thing.
The first question I ask myself when I am making something like this is, "What can I add to it to make it healthier and nutritious?" If you take the classic PBnJ, it really doesn't offer too much nutritionally. Its bread, peanut butter and jelly. We can spice this up a bit by adding some color. I try to eat a variety of colors everyday. To do this, we can add an apple and banana. Let's take it one step further, and healthier, and add cinnamon. Cinnamon is a spice that boosts your metabolism and can aid in weight loss.
1. Start by measuring out 1-2 tablespoons (1 serving) of peanut butter. I like to use all natural peanut butter that has roasted peanuts and oil in the ingredients. No chemicals. And make sure you're not cheating on your measurements! A tablespoon is a tablespoon, no more or less.
2. Measure out 1 serving of jelly. I use all natural with no sugar added and no HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). Concord Grape Jelly is loaded with sugar and HFCS, your body will thank you.
3. Slice up your apple and banana. I like to use a mandolin for the apple because it slices it into stackable slices, the banana will be messy so just use a knife to cut even sized pieces. I enjoy the crisp apples like Macintosh or HoneyCrisp.
4. Construct! Use whole wheat bread or pita/tortillas to make your sandwich or wrap. Make sure to use the bread that doesn't contain HFCS. Start with the peanut butter, then bananas, apple slices, jelly and finally the cinnamon. Consume and enjoy!
This is packed with protein from the peanut butter, potassium from the banana and metabolism boosting spices. You will feel very full from this and it will be delicious.
Eating out is very social, entertaining and fun but can really take a toll on your health if you aren't mindful about what you're consuming. I use to be the kind of eater where I would go out with friends, order whatever sounded good and was cheap, then shovel it all in once it came and leave feeling much worse than when I walked in. This isn't the worst thing you can do. I allow myself room to splurge a bit here and there; we all need to treat ourselves. However, that pattern of eating out can be quite dangerous if you eat out more than 2-3 times per week and are "shoveling it in". Outside food is a problem when it is the majority of what you eat and becomes a staple in your diet.
There are still healthy options that you can find that will not rip a hole through your stomach if you are unable to cook at home and have a job, or school schedule, that doesn't allow for much flexibility. Here are three options for eating out on-the-go:
1. Stop by a supermarket and go to the salad bar. Most supermarkets have them and they offer tons of healthy options. The one thing I warn you of though are the dressing packets that are there. Most of them are loaded with saturated fat, sodium and useless calories. Instead, head to the dressing aisle and find a small sized dressing that is healthy. Most stores now carry salad dressings made from yogurt in the produce section.
2. If salad bars aren't an option, try McDonalds... you can pick your jaw off the floor now... However, food selection is very important here. Try a grilled chicken sandwich with lettuce and tomato (hold the mayo) and get rid of the fries and soft drink. Instead, get apple slices and a water. Not my favorite option but certainly the most healthiest at McDonalds. By the way, if you're wondering about some of the salads at McDonalds you might want to think twice... check out those nutrition labels on their website. (http://nutrition.mcdonalds.com/getnutrition/nutritionfacts.pdf) I'm not a fan of fast food, nor do I promote eating eat. However, I figure I give you a nice alternative for when and if you DO choose to eat it.
3. Sushi! I'm a huge sushi lover and I would eat it everyday if I could, but I'm not that rich! Sushi has tons of health properties. Seaweed (in the sushi) is a good source of iodine, which helps the thyroid and it also can help with arthritis pain. You can really screw up sushi if you get a Philadelphia Roll, which is cream cheese, smoked salmon and cucumber. Try to get healthier rolls like vegetable, California or salmon. I also request brown rice instead of the white along with low sodium soy sauce when I eat sushi.
I can imagine some of you who are reading this thinking, "Who really gives a shit. It doesn't matter if get white rice or brown". You're absolutely right, it doesn't matter... to you. But over time, these little things add up and it doesn't help with weight loss. Brown rice is the better option.
Until next time, enjoy eating out and always be mindful of what you're putting into your body!
Now, some of the information in my blog may seem like no-brainers, but rest assured, there IS a method to my madness.
I'm sure you have heard time and time again that you should eat less of what is on your plate, don't go back for seconds, eat food the size of your fist and so on... well some of that is accurate but I have some little tricks that can help you in addition to those "diet" tidbits of information:
1. Chew your food at least 20 times before you swallow it. Next time you eat something, count the number of times you chew it. You'll be surprised. Most people chew their food 5-8 times before it's down the hatch. Chewing 20+ times allows you to taste what you're eating and it allows time for your stomach to send the signal to your brain that you are full. People who do this tend to eat less and get satisfied quicker, hence eating less calories and in turn losing weight.
2. Use smaller tableware. We eat with our eyes first. If you have a huge plate in which you are putting your food, then you will tend to eat more. As an experiment, make yourself a normal sandwich and put it on the biggest plate that you have in your house. Then take that same sandwich and put it on the smallest plate in your home and see if you notice the difference. Nice trickery huh!? By the way, this goes the same for restaurants... which is a whole different blog topic for another day.
3. Measuring cups are your friend. Make sure you are measuring everything that you are cooking with... don't you DARE eyeball anything, this isn't Rachael Ray's "30 Minute Meals". Measure that EVOO (extra virgin olive oil).
Now... some of you may be like, "but I'm not full after eating what I portioned out". If this is the case, then you should look at the kinds of food you are eating. Try to fill your plate with some whole grains and protein to help fill you up. Brown rice and barley are great for filling you up without over eating.