March 10, 2015

Bouncing Back: Thoughts on Overcoming Setbacks and Roadblocks

Happy almost spring all!  Hope you are all enjoying the spring weather that has FINALLY made its appearance.  I apologize for the absence the past month.  But the upside, is that the reason for my absence has created a great opportunity for a blog entry!

Today I wanted to take the time to write to all of you on ways to come back from a setback on your road to better health.  Everyone encounters these.  Things are going great.  You've been eating well, working out regularly, seeing changes in the mirror, and just overall feeling better.  Then WHAM! 

Roadblock.  The equivalent of a gigantic rhino in the middle of the road.

This could come in any form.  Injuries, never ending winter weather, stress, busy schedules, illness, family tragedy, really anything can create a setback for you.  A roadblock really is just defined as something that knocks you off your straight and narrow and into the arms of old habits and addictions.  And the scary thing is they can happen to ANYBODY.

Ok, have I scared you?  Sorry. 

But really there's nothing you can't bounce back from.  Some things can take more time than others, but ultimately as long as the desire to meet your goals is still there... you CAN bounce back.  Here is how I've recently been bouncing back from mine!

Take a Breath:  Ok so you've had a horrible day, week, month, of poor food choices.  You haven't set food in the gym in two weeks.  Your running shoes are collecting dust.  You can't remember the last time you actually went to the grocery store.  The best way to handle these overwhelming realities is simply take a step back and take a breath.  Silence the thoughts that are putting you down and telling you that you just don't have what it takes.  The voice telling you you're just destined to be lazy and unhappy?  Tell it to take a hike.  Breathe. 

Look Back:  Take some time to really focus in on the things you HAVE accomplished.  So you've fallen out of routine?  So you've gained 5-10 lbs the past month?  So what!  Think about what you HAVE done.  What are you most proud of yourself for accomplishing?  Focus on those things.  Hold them close to your heart and picture the way you felt when you accomplished them, and remember you're still the person now as you were then when you did.

Talk to a Friend:  Not just any friend, but preferably someone you really trust, who has either gone through a similar journey or possesses the empathy and wisdom (and maybe a little tough love) to help bring you back to yourself.  Tell them what's been going on.  Be honest.  Talk through the struggles you've been having.  Often times, talking about it and bringing the things you're upset about or even ashamed of into the light can really help you narrow in one why things are going poorly and give you ways to fix them. 

Evaluate:  Now that you're back in a sound headspace evaluate the situation.  What are the things that have knocked you out of sync?  What are ways that you can lessen their impact on your life?  Here are a few examples of ones that I've faced over the past month:
*Weather Blues: Take your vitamin D!  Eat foods that are rich in Vitamin D like salmon, tuna, eggs, or take a supplement.  Other foods that can help beat the winter blues are berries, leafy greens, bananas, and flax seeds!
*Injury:  Talk to your doctor about what activity you CAN do.  Often times if the injury isn't severe, you can find other ways to stay active that won't irritate your injury.
*Food Boredom:  Go to the library and check out some new cookbooks or cooking magazines.  Get on Pinterest and search for meal ideas.  Check out cooking shows on Netflix.  There are lots of ways to get new ideas for healthy meals. 
*Just So Busy:  This one is really tricky.  You'll need to really think about what is taking up so much of your time that you've become unmotivated and stressed out.  What can you eliminate from your schedule?  Are you working too much?  Do you say "yes" to too many activities?  Do your best to try and carve out time in your schedule for YOU.  For me personally, I had to say goodbye to my second job.  I looked at my budget and saw that even though money would be tight until I could find a better paying full time job, I'd be able to get by.  I realized that my health, sanity, and time to spend with people I love were more important for the place I'm in now. 

Re-Commit:  Picture your goal.  Picture where you're headed and make a new promise to yourself to move in that direction.  Even if you have to make that promise to yourself again EVERY morning, do it.  You are worth keeping that promise to.  Think about it.  You are the only you there is.  And that's saying something.  If you made a promise to your mom, your child, your best friend, your spouse that you would do something for them... you wouldn't go back on that promise if it was in your power to keep it, would you?  Obviously not.  Well guess what, this promise to yourself?  It's in YOUR power, and only yours to keep.  And you're worth doing that for. 

If you have any other tips for overcoming roadblocks, please comment below!  I'd love to hear what has helped you in the past!  Have a great week brave ones!

January 30, 2015

Awkward Awesome Friday!


Happy Friday Brave Ones!  Hope you all have a fantastic weekend! Be on the look out.  I've got a notebook full of blog/video ideas that will be up over the next few weeks. 

*The amount of times that my manager at the pool adds new students to my classes and DOESN'T tell me.  That IS something I should know, right?
*Learning how to date when you're in your late twenties. 
*Being approached by the greeter at Meijer last night.  7:15.  I was wearing no make-up, my wet-post-pool hair up in a bun, and sweats.  Clearly, I want to get my groceries, go home and eat dinner.  But the greeter catches sight of my SF badge hanging from my purse and proceeds to sing the State Farm jingle at me.  Then when I give him an awkward, nervous, chuckle, he then walks closer to me, gets in my personal bubble and begins to quote the Jake from State Farm Commercial.

*How happy I've been lately.
*Insanity Max30.  It's kicking my ass and it's AWESOME!
*I get to see my sister in three weeks!!
*I get to go see 2Cellos with Colleen in three weeks in Chicago!!
*I get my first tattoo three weeks from TODAY!
*Getting to know a rather cute horticulturalist over the past three weeks.  ;)
*The things that some of my students say.  Zombie-worms, scuba diving, and having big muscles.
*The way veganism has transformed my hair, nails, and cravings.  #winning

January 20, 2015

Vegan Recipes I'm Loving

Hey Brave Ones!  Hope you are all having a FANTASTIC start to 2015!  I know I am!  I wanted to get back here and share with you some amazing vegan recipes that ANY non-vegan would enjoy!  Oh, did I not mention that?  Ha.  Yes.  As of the new year, I have become a vegan.  "But Haley, why would you do that?"  Oh, I shall explain lovelies... later. 

For now, I just want to share some of the tasty things I've been eating!

Black Bean Tacos w/ Avo Cilantro-Lime Sauce: These are STUPID easy!  And STUPID delicious.  I combined the black beans with a can of Rotel instead of salsa.  The trick with the beans is to heat them up first and they'll smoosh easier. (that's my technical term)

Toasted Cilantro Rice: This stuff is fantastic!  Rice can be tricky to make interesting.  But this stuff is packed with flavor and texture!  Serve it along side seasoned black beans and baked sweet taters: holy yum!

Apple Ginger Cake: This was actually a recipe that I found from a cutie on YouTube!  This apple bread? To die for.  So good, especially warm.  I'll be making this into muffins for my swim team meeting this weekend. 

Low Fat Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies:  You'd never know these don't have butter in them.  There's only a little sugar too!  I used 2 Tbsp of stevia and 4 Tbsp of turbinado sugar.  (Naturally Yours was out of xylitol and I couldn't find coconut sugar) I used walnuts and mini vegan chocolate chips.  I also had to bake them a little longer.  So chewy and tasty! 

One Pan Mexican Quinoa: This is my I-Have-No-Time-to-Cook recipe.  Throw everything in a pan and let it make magic.  So flavorful and filling!  I'd count this one as a crowd pleaser!

Other recipes I'm loving?

Megan Elizabeth's sweet potato pizza
Vegan French Toast
Banana Ice Cream (duh!)

January 7, 2015

Did you know.....

That I have an online store?  Did ya, did ya?!

Well I do!  And the link for it is over there.  Just scroll down!


Or click HERE
I wanted to write up a little post about it because I've recently created some really fun designs that I'm dying to share with you!  And a bonus?  A lot of the shirts I've created are actually on sale right now.  Woop! 


I'm really in love with this little sweatshirt.  The front has an arrow pointing up.  I created it as a reminder that when the wearer looks in the mirror they are reminded to be themselves.


Ummmmm because it's pretty much true!

Who doesn't love a dinosaur shirt that promotes eating fruit and veggies?!

pixie dust
Sweat is actually gross.  But the shirt is cute, right?

I've got a couple other ideas in mind.  So keep a look out for new additions!!

January 6, 2015

On Body Image


 (me.  day old hair in sore need of a trim and color. chipped nail polish. weird and all)

This morning I came across this article ironically the day after a candid converstation about body image with my mother.  The article reports about an online photo project created by a photographer from Lithuania named Neringa Rekasiute.  It's purpose is to empower women to put aside society's view of beauty (which is just as bad in Lithuania as it is here) and embrace what it truly means to be beautiful. 

The conversation I had with my mom revolved mainly on the scars that are left behind on women's bodies when we undergo a big change.  Whether it be extreme weight loss, having children, injuries you've overcome, etc our bodies change.  They grow, they shrink, they are left with marks and scars that remind us of our victories and failures. 

In my case, I have lived my entire life as an overweight child/teen/young adult.  I'm finally entering into a period of my life where I will no longer be overweight.  I am strong.  I am built with muscles.  And, I'm scarred. 

As many are aware, when a person (women especially) undergo a dramatic weightloss, they are left with stretch marks, scars, and skin.  Though the muscles underneath are stronger than they've ever been, the outward appearance is shadowed by the reminders of what was.  When a woman has a baby, she is filled with joy over the new life her body helped to create, but then her body is left with extra weight, stretch marks, and ravaged abdominal muscles.  These things can have a huge effect on our self esteem and self worth. 

But news flash: beauty is so much more than the the appearance of our skin, muscles, and scars.

These scars that we're left with should be seen as badges of honor.  The stretch marks left after pregnancy are tiger stripes earned by doing one of the hardest things our God-given bodies were created to do.  The loose skin left after extreme weightloss is a trophy reminding ourselves of what we accomplished ON OUR OWN!  Though they may not be attractive by society's standards, they truly can be something we can be proud of. 

I am an advocate of body acceptance.  I am an advocate for self love, recovery, and wellness.  I thought I'd take this moment however to mention that I'm not an advocate for promotion of unhealthy plus size images of men and women.  Yes, I believe you MUST love yourself no matter your size and shape.  But you also MUST take care of yourself.  If someone is a size 18, 20, 22 and can come back from the doctor with a clean bill of health, great!  But the honestly, that is rare.  (and I only speak from experience).  There are countless celebrities, writers, bloggers, etc out there that promote being extremely plus size, fat and happy, big and beautiful, whatever.  And that's great to promote self-acceptance.  But, it's NOT great to promote unhealthy living, eating garbage frankenfoods, lethargy, and not giving a flying fart about your health. 

With that.  Accept yourself.  Love yourself.  Love yourself enough to take care of your body.  Appreciate it for all that it does for you by respecting it with the things you put into it and the things you do with it.  Love the badges of honor you've earned.

December 19, 2014

Setting New Years Resolutions

Merry Christmas everyone!!!  Hope you're all enjoying this wonderful time of year!  I myself am so incredibly stoked to spend a few days with family next week!  Following Christmas, is my GOLDEN birthday!  29 on the 29th!  WHAT?!!  (Feel free to make a big deal about it.  I know I will be!) 

I know.  The end of the year is crazy for me!  Because then two days after my birthday is another one of my favorites... New Year's Eve! This New Years will be two years since I started on my path to better health.  On New Years Eve of 2012 I bumped into an old college roommate at Emilie and Dave's party.  She had lost a ton of weight since I had seen her last (weight she had gained because of Grave's disease).  She looked happy, healthy, and I was so motivated from seeing her.  I knew that if she could overcome her struggle, I probably could!  So January 1, 2013 is when I started my weight loss journal, created an exercise plan, and began reading about nutrition and healthy cooking.  Though I've had plateaus and moments of weariness... I've never looked back. 

I'm all for treating any day like January first when you need to.  If you have an off day or an off week or several off weeks, I'm all about taking the next moment to say, "No, this is what I want.  I deserve it.  I'm doing it."  But you have to admit... there is something about the ACTUAL January first that is so empowering and full of possibilities!  It's the time to make: RESOLUTIONS!  I've come up with a list of ways to make practical resolutions, keep things simple, and stick to the promises you've made to yourself! 

Nutrition Resolutions:

Don't say: "I'm never going to eat sweets again!"  Because honestly, would you be able to do that?!  Of course not.  You're human.  You're going to have times in your life when you need to indulge.
Try this: "I'm going to make better food choices!"  You can keep it simple by creating the goal to make better choices overall.  So if you normally buy whole milk, start buying 2%, skim, or even a non-dairy variety like almond or cashew milk.  If you normally buy white sandwich bread, switch to whole wheat or Ezekiel bread.  Instead of drinking soda with lunch and/or dinner, replace it with lemon water!  When you go out to eat, try a lighter menu item, replace your fries with veggies or fruit, and skip the soda!

Don't say: "I'm going to eat more veggies."  Because this is not a specific enough goal to actually see a difference in how you feel.
Try this: "I'm going to be sure at least half of my plate consists of vegetables at dinner time."  By making a resolution like this, you are being more specific and making a promise.  It will also help you with your meal planning when you know you have to incorporate those veggies. 

Fitness Resolutions:

Don't say: "I'm going to exercise more!"  When it comes to getting in activity, specific goals are good.
Try this:  "I'm going make sure I exercise for at least 30 minutes, three days a week."  By scheduling your workouts and being specific about how much you'll do, you're making a promise to yourself.  You still have wiggle room in case something comes up one day, you can substitute another day.  You also give yourself room to increase the intensity and length of your workouts as you get stronger.

Don't say:  "I'm going to lose X-amount of pounds."  This can create a lot of pressure and will most likely make you a slave to the scale. 
Try this:  "I want to fit into size-X jeans."  This kind of a goal can give you more leeway.  When you start to exercise you will build muscle.  So though the scale may not budge, your clothes may start to feel better or looser.  Water retention can also mess up numbers on the scale, so it's much better to go by the way your clothes fit.  I know this was a big goal of mine.  To get into a size smaller than I was in high school by the time I got to my reunion.  I did it!  And it was a small thing, but such a huge victory!!

Overall, really sit down and think about what kinds of resolutions you want to set for yourself.  Write them down, put them somewhere you'll see them, create a wellness journal!  The most important part of setting resolutions is to think about what YOU WANT.  Two years ago, I got to a place where enough was enough.  I knew I didn't want to keep living the way I was living.  So I set realistic goals for myself that I knew I could accomplish if I stuck to them!  I'm here to tell you that you will NOT achieve your goals if you don't stick to the resolutions you set for yourself.  No one can force you to.  It has to come from within you because it is FOR YOU and you're worth setting goals for.  Make your goals/resolutions a priority and there's nothing you won't be able to accomplish!

Happy New Year brave ones!!

My Resolutions for 2015:

1. Fit into a certain dress that is currently hanging on my wall.
2. Finish my half marathon in April.
3. Complete Big Shoulders 2015 in under 1:30:00
4. Get to One-derland
5. Achieve my healthy goal weight by my 30th birthday.

December 9, 2014

Video Series: Staying Motivated

I don't know about all of you out there, but I've had a hard time staying on the ball during this holiday season.  The days are shorter, the weather is colder, and the temptations to eat unclean foods are through the freakin' roof!  So for the benefit of others who need that kick back into motivation (including yours truly) I put together my tips for staying motivated on your journey to health and happiness. 

December 8, 2014

Educate Yo-self!

Happy Monday everyone!  Hope you all had a fantastic weekend!  Today I wanted to talk about how important it is to educate yourself on what you are putting into your body.  I've recently become a huge fan of health and wellness documentaries, not only because they are extremely eye opening, but because I truly feel that educating myself on food and nutrition helps me to stay motivated, eat clean, and encourage others. 

So this morning I wanted to share with you the top three nutrition documentaries that I've watched over the past couple of months.  They are powerful and will scare the pants off you.  But for me, they have been so motivating to eat cleaner. All of these can be found on Netflix.

1. Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.
This was one of the first documentaries I ever watched on nutrition and health.  Joe Cross is a successful businessman from Australia who comes to the states to attempt to heal himself of his poor diet, illness, and addiction to bad food.  Along the way not only does he succeed, but he changes the life of a trucker, who in turn pays it forward in his community.  It's a powerful testament to how small changes can impact so many.

2. Forks Over Knives.
This film is powerful.  It opens eyes to the severity and cost of the obesity epidemic sweeping our country.  It advocates for eating fewer animal products, processed food, and more plants!  It emphasizes how important nutrition is for everyone.

3. Hungry for Change.
This documentary is by far, my favorite.  I can even go as far as to say it is LIFE CHANGING.  This documentary pulls together authors and experts to address the issue of diets, chemicals in food, and the cause of the epidemic of obesity and lethargy in our country.  It's powerful and eye opening.

December 7, 2014

Clean Eating Pancakes

If you're anything like me, you sometimes just want a big stack of pancakes.  Actually this recipe was created this morning after reading a message from my dear friend, Heather.  She was stuck at work over night on a big implementation for her project team.  And she sent me and our friends a message stating that all she wanted was a giant stack of pancakes. 

Now pancakes are not a super food.  They are filled with processed flours, sugars, and frankenfoods that you just don't want to put into your body.  So Heather, these are for YOU!

Almond Coconut Pancakes
Clean Eating
6 PPV per serving
Serves 3

1/2 C almond flour
1/2 C oat flour
3/4 C almond milk (plain, unsweetened)
3 egg whites
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp stevia
3 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut

Combine ingredients in a bowl and wisk together.
Heat non stick pan on medium heat.
Let sit for a few minutes while the oat flour absorbs the liquid. (make yourself a smoothie or something!)
Use a 1/3 or 1/2 cup measuring cup to scoop batter onto the hot pan.
Wait until the surface of the pancake bubbles, then flip.

Serve with sliced fruit, real maple syrup, applesauce, or honey!

December 5, 2014

Awkward Awesome Friday!

Good morning Brave Ones!  Happy Friday! Are you all as happy for the weekend as I am?!  
I give you your awkward awesome recap for the week!

*The house with the for sale sign I saw while running in Lombard last weekend while visiting mom.  Not only was the house a strange color of pink and green... but the yard was littered with countless plastic Santas.
*Trying to find time to do all the things I want to do.  I just have too many interests and not enough time to effectively pursue all of them.
*Having to break the news to my floor at work that I am leaving them.  No, you will not be getting a replacement.  No, I don't know why they're changing floor support.  No, I will not miss that job.  But thanks for the concern.
*Blind dates.  It had to be said.  Even if they turn out well, just. so. awkward.   (or maybe I'm just awkward)
*The TV shows I get addicted to.  I hate you Netflix, you ruin people's lives.

*I get to see my BESTIE tonight!! {insert happy dance}
*Getting to know this guy over the past couple weeks.
*My sissy is coming home in February!!!  {insert even more spectacular happy dance}
*I start my new position at work next week.  Good bye lonely boring days by myself!  Hello busy days surrounded by fun people! (oh and I gets a raise...)
*I got to meet this girl finally two weeks ago.  She is even more adorable in person that I'd imagined.  
*My new Ninja baby (high speed blender) that I've been just having way too much fun with.  Thanks Uncle Frank!