WIAW: The Little Big Things

The little things become the big things in the middle of the week, like the song that makes you notice the sunrise on your morning run, the yoga magazine  reminding you to express gratitude, the insightful audiobook on your morning commute, or the pancake recipe that came together perfectly from a random assortment of ingredients in your cabinet. It could also be the kindness from the dental hygienist, the sound of your little sister’s voice on the way home from work , or an all caps bolded I-LOVE-YOU message from your cousin out of the blue.

Let’s talk pancakes…Protein Pancakes Ingredients

Craving protein pancakes, the planner in me decided to trust my culinary intuition (post-run at 6:30am in the morning). I pulled 2 Tbsp almond meal, 1/4 cup strawberries & mangos, 2 eggs, a pinch of baking powder, 1 scoop of vanilla whey protein powder and a drop of almond extract from my cabinet. I mixed all the ingredients in a bowl, turned the stove top to medium and coated a  fry pan with coconut oil. Then and a miracle happened…

protein pancakes bake

The starving spontaneous chef got to eat breakfast.

Protein Pancakes

Breakfast: Protein pancakes, mangos, strawberries, and a heaping Tablespoon of peanut butter.

On the way to work, I finally decided to buy the audio version Oprah Winfrey’s book “What I know for Sure”, a memoir collection of life lessons she’s learned with absolute conviction in a column she wrote for years. When I got home later last night, I couldn’t help but turn the question over to myself and I started recording truths I’ve come to know for sure over my 25 short years. The act brings perspective and guidance and I recommend challenging yourself to think about what you know for sure.

Lunchh

Lunch: plain greek yogurt with honey & cinnamon and topped with Cheerios, almonds, mangos and strawberries. Celery, tomatoes, and cauliflower dipped in humus

When I got home from work I made myself a snack while indulging in my new yoga magazine…

yoga snack

 Snack: whole wheat bagel thin topped with an unmeasured amount of peanut butter and 1/2 a banana.

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The magazine followed the actual yoga class. After 90 minutes of heated yoga, I was ready to eat again. I had some cherry tomatoes, my latest go-to while I contemplated what I was in the mood to eat for dinner.
Snack 2

Snack: cherry tomatoes

Post yoga dinner

Dinner:  kale with feta cheese, chocolate protein smoothie (1/2 frozen banana, 1 scoop protein powder, 1 cup soy milk, and ice cubes) topped with Cheerios and almonds.

The night came to a close with dinner, Amos lee on the Pandora, and maybe a small glass of wine. I think the lingering dehydration won out and I decided on a smoothie bowl and a side of greens. I’ll leave you with the tunes of the day…

On the run…

Rachel Platten- Fight Song

Winding down…

Amos Lee – Night Train

 

Post Yoga Sadness

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30-day yoga challenge completed, another check on the bucket list of goals. Instead of feeling joyful and proud,  a chilling a wave of sadness passed over me. Like coming home from a vacation knowing the experience belongs to the past and you can never touch the precious moments again. The chill shouldn’t be such a mystery, most people are happiest when actively striving for goals and with this one in the books, I should naturally feel its absence right?

I’ve been asked before If I’ve experienced sadness after a marathon or half marathon and honestly, I have not. So what then is the difference? What was wrong with me?

The answer wasn’t that obvious. I could continue to take classes as frequently as I wanted, heck I could extend the challenge and try to do a 40 day one, but that didn’t appeal to me. I was exhausted and ready to be done, similar to the bitter-sweet end of a vacation,  you can’t drink one more beer but you’re not ready to face the hangover either.

I stretched my mind to compare the experience of training for a marathon with a 30-day yoga challenge to try to understand my emptiness. That’s when I started to put the pieces together.

When I train for a race it’s something I do alone. Truthfully, I am happier running 20 miles  alone along a beautiful path with endless sun and sky than I am on the race track being cheered on by hundreds of silly signs.

The yoga challenge is different, I wasn’t in it alone. I was part of something bigger than myself. There was a community of yogi’s signed up, committed and dedicated to their practice. For 30 days, there was a warm contagious energy I unconsciously soaked up into my dilated pores from the familiar faces of yogis on their own personal journey inward. Sure, other runners hit the pavement beside you on race day during a marathon, but you don’t get to see their struggle each and every day for a month. You don’t get to see them race into class 15 minutes late after a rough day of work, or notice them sleep through an entire 26 postures because it took all their energy to simply arrive on the mat or watch them power through 2 classes (3 hours) straight in 105 degrees to catch up to their own goal. The energy was alive and encouraging. Once I realized the direction of the cold front I was at peace with the emptiness.  There is something beautiful in recognizing that a community of people individually challenging themselves can create a warmth and connection powerful enough to evoke emotions in a silent room.

illusion

WIAW: Intuitive Wins

In my last post, I blamed Monday for being tough, but the hike up Tuesday night to mount the hump of Wednesday is its own struggle. St. Paddy’s Day gave me an excuse to crank out a green shirt and a morning smile.

Green shirt

Well, the smile came after…

coffee

 coffee and a mason jar of mango-flavored crystal light.

Yoga kept me up late Monday night, making a morning run out of the question. I replaced sneakers with pillows. In the past, I use to drag myself out of bed at 4 am despite how late I’ve stayed up to get in a morning run. Lately, I’ve learned to listen to my body and allow myself sleep. I’ve found that having more energy throughout the day allows me to make better food decisions, do better at work, and have a stronger evening workout.

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Breakfast was a green smoothie bowl to recognize my slim slice of Irish heritage: 1/2 a frozen banana, 1 cup vanilla soy milk, 1 heaping cup spinach, 3-4 ice cubes, a drop of almond extract, vanilla whey protein powder, and cinnamon. Topped with almonds, cinnamon and honey.

lunch snacks

Lunch was the true highlight of my meeting-packed Tuesday. Fully awake 10:30pm the night before (full of post-yoga energy), I baked chicken to top a strawberry, almond, feta, spinach salad. I paired this with humus and cucumbers (hanging with my morning apple above). Note: one lonely piece of avocado got in there too…

Salad-LunchAs delicious as my salad was I came home starving (hey, it happens). My pre-hot yoga snack is always a struggle. Ideally, I’d be satisfied at lunch so a small apple or some dried fruit and nuts gives me the little boost I need for class. Not this time, my stomach had a different plan for me around 5:00 pm. Trying to practice what I preach and be more intuitive about my eating, I made a more satisfying snack…

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Peanut butter banana toast.

I still had two hours before yoga and felt fine during class.

I wasn’t overly hungry after yoga so I made a plate of veggies and added humus and the last bit of tuna I had gotten over the weekend.

Dinner

Roasted Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, baby carrots, celery, humus, and tuna.

 Intuitive wins: two moments of my day stuck out as steps towards intuitive, mindful eating choices, an older, less  in-tune version of myself would have neglected. The first, (mentioned above) was allowing myself to sleep in. Working out should feel good and give energy to your body not stress, if you are over tried sleep is so much more important and the guilt of missing a workout needs to be replaced with the understanding that you are caring for your body with the extra zzz’s.  The second was allowing myself to have a filling satisfying snack when I was hungry despite what my mind thought “I should eat”. In the past, I may have tried to nibble on fruit or nuts to avoid a larger snack and end up eating more food and feeling bloated during my workout. Listening to hunger signals and committing to fillings snacks leaves your feeling more satisfied.

Mindful Monday: Five Quick Tips

Monday’s are tough and the instinct is to rush through them as quickly as possible to arrive safely at Tuesday to simple get over the hump of Wednesday. This survival mindset will have you miss 156 days out of the year if you’re not careful.  Being mindful throughout the day will not only help you be a more mindful eater but will also help you find more joy in the days you so often wish away. Here are five small steps you can take to be more mindful today.

1. Make Breakfast- Don’t just make breakfast though, make something you love and take the time to sit down and enjoy it. Chances are you will waste at least 10 minutes on social media, chatting, or doing nothing. The time is there so why not take it to do something good for your body.

oats

2. Make your bed- A clean space helps clear the mind. If you can’t clean your entire room, apartment, or house, why not start small by making your bed? Make bed

 

3. Go for a walk- If the weather’s nice out take the time to notice. If you like to run outside do it! If not, just a 10-minute walk adds to your total activity and can help clear the mind and ease stress.

4. Call a friend and ask about their day- We are all subjected to this Monday together, why not call a friend and find out how their day went. Cheering someone else up can do wonders for yourself.

5. Only eat food you enjoy- Funny coming from a dietitian right? I think so often we try to start the week off “healthy” and eat foods that we don’t enjoy that leave us unsatisfied. I’m not saying ignore nutrition all together I’m just saying if you’re deciding between a flavorless soup or a turkey bacon avocado sandwich go with the sandwich.

Enjoy life

Happy Monday :)

Tuning Out the Food Critics

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You open the pantry door and scan the shelves. It’s been around three hours since your last meal and there’s a familiar welcome emptiness in the pit of your stomach. Anticipation builds as your eyes cross over granola bars, Girl Scout cookies, dried mangos, chocolate chips and finally they land on baked pita chips. For just a split moment the old restrictive voice in your head tries to protest but you’ve turned up your inner “Fighter” by Christina Aguilera so loud you can’t hear her.

You proceed to carefully gather three small bowls and fill them with guacamole, hummus, and salsa, your own little sampler complete with carbohydrates, protein, veggies, and fat. You turn off other distractions and are getting ready to savor your carefully prepared snack. The first chip has barely hit the dip when your dad walks by and jests “someone’s letting loose today”. You laugh it off and try to swallow the uneasy feeling with your next bite. If he only knew how far you’ve come. Then your mom comes around the corner and quietly places carrots and cucumbers down next to you. You think, “ God, at least dad’s straight forward with his opinions”. Your mom proceeds to tell you how Dr. Phil taught her to only eat carbohydrates before 12pm. You can’t decide who’s she’s trying to convince. Meanwhile, you’re fighting the urge to grab the entire bag of pita chips and scarf them down in front of both of them like the empty bag will somehow symbolize a victory, only your trophy is feeling ashamed and sick to your stomach. Instead you turn up Drake’s “Over”  in your head and continue to eat the meal you were craving slowly and consciously savoring each bite.

Can you relate to this story at all?

It’s fiction, but I can’t say similar scenarios haven’t occurred in my life. The truth is most of us deal with food critics in our lives whether it be a family member, significant other, friend, or co-worker. Sometimes these individuals have the best of intentions with no clue their tiny remarks are like small needles stabbing at your confidence. Often times when someone continually notices your food choices it’s more a reflection on them than you but the pain and irritation from the sting burns the same. It is important to recognize these comments and learn to let them flow right back into the air undigested. Do what you have to do to channel your inner radio station. Ignore them, move your location, or confront the peanut gallery and let them know they’re opinions are harmful. Food should never make you feel guilty and nobody should make you feel uncomfortable about your choices. Part of a healthy diet is being able to enjoy the foods you love when you are hungry without guilt. One of my favorite dietitians once said “A piece of cake should only make you feel guilty if you stole it” I agree 100%.

approve

Friday Reflections: What I’m Loving Lately

The sun came up this morning and the snow began to melt. I was busy getting ready for work- digging my car out of the snow,  making sure my interns had guidance, trying to get a quick workout in, packing my lunch etc. when the University decided to close and the weekend began. The sudden change in plans wasn’t necessarily an unwelcome one. Starbucks became my office for the day and once I finished some demanding items on my to-do list I started reflecting on the past month. I thought of all my complaints, arguments, and anxiety and let them go.

“You’ll find it’s necessary to let things go; simply because they are heavy” ~Uknown

Then I started thinking about the things contributing to me happiness lately and that’s inspired me to write. This post is about, what I’m loving lately.

face to the sun

Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole, M.S., R.D. and Elyse Resch, M.S., R.D.: Intuitive Eating, is a book that the majority of my role models and in the dietetics field recommend. Written, by two idols in the field of nutrition, it is a guide that teaches how to reject the diet mentality and follow natural hunger cues and find peace with food. I’ve picked up and put down the book before in the past, but after getting through the intro I became hooked. Not only do I think it will be valuable when counseling in the future, but it encourages me to reflect on my own eating habits to be a better role model.

Intutive eating

Bikram Yoga Challenge: I am half way through a yoga challenge to complete 30 classes in 30 days. I’ve attempted this before without success, but I have a new determination this time around since it may be my last chance to do one for a while. I am already noticing a change in my practice and I’m also learning to trust my determination and commitment to reach goals.

yoga challenge

Learning the Justice System: This month I completed  my civic duty for the first time (jury duty) and all though it came at an inconvenient time the experience was both valuable and interesting. I am proud of America’s ideals and values and I think it’s important for everyone to understand how the system works. If you have the opportunity to be a juror I recommend putting your life aside for a couple days and letting yourself learn and grow through the process.

Dates: I’m talking about the food in this case. I have a new found love for dates. The sweet high fiber fruit is packed with fiber, potassium and healthy carbs. It is the perfect pre-run snack and can be used in so many fun recipes. Like this energy balls with dates, banana, and chocolate chips..oh and sprinkles :)

Dates

Family Time: February hosts the birthday’s of three of my favorite people, my mom, brother and baby cousin Ava. I loved celebrating them this month.

Amos Lee: I can’t enough of his soulful music right now…

….sigh.

Fitbit Challenges: My mom got me a fitbit for Christmas and I have to say my little family and friend challenges have been so fun.

fitbit

Please, note the narration in these. I’d really love to meet the Fitbit brain child behind these funny comments :)

 

 

Granola, Love, and Longing.

Trapped in my apartment by a thick white barricade, I decided to make  granola. There’s something comforting about the smell of warm oats and cinnamon filling my small space and making it a little less painful when stuck inside on a Saturday. Especially a Saturday when your baby cousin is turning one, all 10 teeth and 22 pounds of her, in a secret garden created just for her. If I sound a little resentful, I am. I wanted to be with my family in New Jersey. I wanted to celebrate Ava’s first year, see how she’s grown, soak up her little hugs and kisses, and capture the little person she’s becoming. Expectations can be dangerous. Often times I hear my yoga teacher’s share that we need to learn to live in the moment free from expectations and void of anticipations. Easier said than done. Also, I’m not sure I buy into the philosophy completely. Yes, filled with hope and anticipation, the snow deflated me. Yes, I was  frustrated, disappointed, and sad but it also reminded me how much I love, long, and care for my family. I think anticipation is a part of longing, and longing is a part of loving.

love family

Back to the granola…

I recently made a batch of granola over Valentine’s Day, spreading some pink and white loving to people in my life but it’s never too soon to make granola again…

DSC01218 This time around I had to get creative. I planned to stop at whole foods after yoga yesterday (naturally, fitting a stereotype), but the snow came even sooner than predicted and instead I drove straight home. I didn’t have much in my apartment to add to my creation, BUT I did have some extra ripe bananas, coconut shreds, almonds, dates and white chocolate chips, these would have to do.

I turned the extra ripe bananas in banana chips…it’s simpler and more delicious than Imagined. I set the oven to 275 and baked them with a little lemon juice, salt, and cinnamon for an hour and a half (flipping the bananas halfway through). Pictures don’t do them justice the flavor was bursting with banananess. It tasted natural and potent and beat the sugary oily store-bought version hands down (pictured above).

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DSC01234(Sadly, they will never be the models of the banana world)

Then I turned to an older granola recipe for the amounts of oats, oil, sweeteners, and water.                                       DSC01231

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(toasted granola with white chocolate, dates, almonds, coconut, and banana chips)

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 Making granola was therapeutic, eating food mindlessly to fill a void is unhealthy and unsatisfying. But filling an empty time creating flavors, smells, and warmth to comfort yourself can be soothing and helpful. It’s an important distinction when we talk about food being comforting (just the dietitian coming out).  Yesterday, It was just what I needed on a cold isolated night and now I have lots of the love to share…

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Bikram: Why I Spend 90 Minutes in 105 Degrees.

 

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My eyelids were heavy like they had gained 20 pounds in the last hour.  I drove home from work, mentally and physically exhausted from the day. Nothing but dinner and a nap appealed to my senses, but I knew those wouldn’t be my reality. When I’m lucky, if you call it that, the person I want to become is louder than the tired, cranky, hot-mess that I submit to by 5:00 pm. I got home and changed into my yoga clothes before I allowed myself to devour the energy bar, yogurt, and apple I would consider dinner. Then I teased my sense of relaxation with 10 minutes in my bed while mindlessly looking in the digital window of people’s lives. It’s so easy to look at an edited picture of someone and imagine the life they live like it’s a summer night on a beach in Jamaica all day every day. I somehow leave my computer screen feeling a little less positive than before I laid down, reminding me this wasn’t where I supposed to waste my time. I wait until the last minute and gather my towel, water, and mat and head to the studio that has become my second home.

Late and exhausted, I smile at whichever one of my lovely friends is working the front desk and soak up whatever energy their return response provides me. I lay my mat out in the hot dim room and wait patiently for the teacher’s welcome.  It begins with  breath, the basic reminder that I am lucky to have this moment, this day, and this life.  Filling my lungs with air reminds me that I do have energy as long as I have control over my breath. Then it proceeds into a movement that causes me to forget my thoughts and focus on the placement of my body in this heated, glowing, room.

I’m no longer thinking about the mistake I made at work, the gossip I shouldn’t have contributed to, the way I over-reacted in an argument, or the email I forgot to send. Instead I am focusing on learning to lock out my knee, grip my foot with all ten of my fingers including my thumbs, suck my stomach in, push my out my heel and bend my toes back for standing head-to-knee pose. I mean who could possibly carry another thought with all those instructions? Not to mention the heat had begun creating small droplets of sweat dripping in a steady rhythm down my temple. I trust my breath as it leads my  soaked body through all 26 postures.

I am not overwhelmed when I can’t balance on my right toe in toe stand and I am not frustrated when I fall out of standing bow two times on one leg. Surprisingly, the perfectionist in me has chilled out a bit and I am satisfied working towards goals, I trust that if I keep kicking back  and reaching forward that one day I will straighten my leg high above my head and see my reflection in the mirror. I find comfort in knowing I am exactly where I need to be if I am ever going to balance on my right toe with both hands at my heart and get back up flawlessly.

The thing about yoga  is it allows me to start simple with my breath, focus without distractions on small tiny efforts, that I am sure will one day lead me to success. It blocks out unnecessary distractions and allows me to live in each warm dedicated moment. It reminds me it’s okay to fail. The concentration lets me see hard-fought progress on a strong day and humbles me with failure on my weaker ones. Some days when I am not sure why I pass up wishing I was living someone else’s summer night in Jamaica I remember that yoga is my metaphor to the way I want to lead my life.

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WIAW Accomplished

It’s pitiful the amount of times I have attempted a WIAW (what I ate Wednesday) post and failed. I cannot even give you an exact amount of attempts because counting would involve more effort than I put into the charade. However, today I got it done. I successfully photographed  ALMOST everything I ate. I say almost everything because my co-worker surprised me with a small container (1/3 cup) of homemade asparagus soup with a drop of goat cheese (insert mmmhhhmmm) that I didn’t picture…. it’s a shame because it was probably the best thing I ate today…go figure.

I love WIAW posts because they can spark ideas on future meal plans for others. Plus, who doesn’t love looking at food pictures? However, the love I have for reading these themed posts never provided enough encouragement to record each meal and reflect on it.

energy flow

My documenting success today came from a deeper desire to jump on the healthy eating train. Somewhere between a knee injury, the holidays, work-stress, and partying I fell off and I’m trying to get back on. The thing about documenting is it keeps you in touch the reality of your food choices. Taking pictures and being aware can be healthy and keep things in perspective.

honesty

For me, it’s not about sticking to a calorie number but reflecting on food decisions in the larger scope of a day and sharing meal ideas. Counting calories can quickly become an unhealthy obsession or habit that can take the joy away from eating.

My morning started with some pre-run fuel:

Morning things

 

A small apple and some hazelnut coffee from a motivational mug :)

After four easy miles and a warm shower I had breakfast:

Breakfast ingredients breakfast smoothie

A tropical fruit protein smoothie…this was my first time trying the tropical fruit mix and I wasn’t too impressed. I think the blend of all the different fruit prevented any strong distinct flavor…just give me strawberries and I’m a happy girl.

Morning Snack:

eggs

I had 2 hard-boiled eggs around 10am, appetizing pictures I know. I am a fan of hardboiled eggs and high protein snacks because they keep me full until lunch.

Lunch

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This is one of my more ambitious types of lunches.  Grilled chicken, green beans, carrots, and humus.

Dinner

Dinner 2

Dinner was a new soup, light chicken enchilada, with an added chicken sausage and humus toast :)

Add the asparagus soup and about 3 bottles of water and a couple more black coffees with Splenda and that was my day. I feel good and know this was a healthy amount of food for me.

Simple Chocolate Peanut Butter Kinda Day

Every so often I find myself in the perfect simple day. One where I don’t feel rushed, tired, or overwhelmed. A day without big exciting plans but small ones with time to waste. It brings a calm mixture of productivity, enjoyment, interaction, and reflection. Today is something like one of those days.

simple pleasures

The morning began with a long over due orthopedic doctors appointment for my knee. Ever since the Richmond Marathon I haven’t been able to log more than 4 consecutive miles without knee pain. Today I finally saw a doctor and it turns out my personal web MD diagnosis of IT Band syndrome was the doctor’s best guess as well. I’ll follow up with a post on this later (hopefully) but for now that’s one check in the self-care box for me.

self compassion

I took advantage of the day off to get to know my Vitamix, I think it is safe to say the love affair has begun. With a little trial and error, I created a sweet Chocolate Peanut Butter that probably won’t make it through the week in my fridge.

C PB 2 label

Ingredients: 

  • 4 cups of Planters dry roasted peanuts
  • 2 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 2 Tbsp Special dark cocoa powder
  • 1 Tsp vanilla extract

Peanuts

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Directions: 

  • Throw all ingredients in the blender or food processor (Vitamix if your family gifts you with one) and blend until desired consistency.
  • Then eat on a spoon, with your fingers, on bread, in oats, with coconut… really however your little heart desires….

This was my choice….

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After breakfast and some continuing RD education, I got to have lunch with my beautiful preggo friend Britt.  We started to talk plans for her baby shower I’ll be hosting. It’s crazy how fast time goes, it seems like just last week we were sitting in high school math class passing notes and talking about prom plans and now, close to 8 years later, she’s prepping for motherhood. I guess you have to embrace each beautiful moment as it comes.

change

quinoa

After lunch, a delicious lunch of quinoa, kale, chicken, and baby talk, I ran the four miles my legs could withstand and hurried back to write this post for you.

I plan to let this perfectly simple day drift away from me, spending time with myself in yoga and then lost in the pages of a good book.

simple simple