4 weeks of LowFODMAP

Derek and I have officially hit 4 weeks of eating LowFODMAP.  The first 2 weeks of it were extremely difficult.  Our bodies felt physically terrible.  We were detoxing all the sugars and fermentable foods from our bodies and we felt tired, felt irritable, had stomach pains and experienced some bathroom issues.  I was spending hours a day in the kitchen meal prepping.  I thought I had made enough for a few days but it was amazing how fast we would go through food since we were so limited on what we could have.  It also took extra-long because I had to constantly look up amounts of foods we could have and make sure I wasn’t stacking any FODMAPs together.  I was extremely frustrated and was questioning if doing this diet was worth it. 

Another thing that has been extremely difficult is the social isolation.  I didn’t realize how much of our social life involved going out to eat with friends.  If we went for a Sunday hike we would usually grab lunch after, we would meet friends for dinner and most birthday parties and celebrations involved eating.  It isn’t like we can’t go out, but it is hard to be at dinner with friends and you can’t order anything... so you just sit and watch and get more frustrated.  Since we are a little more housebound than usual, it has caused Derek and I to get on each other’s cases a little bit more.  I find myself getting annoyed if he isn’t cleaning the dishes or helping pick up around the apartment (side note he is doing an amazing job helping).  We are constantly together and not getting out to socialize so you can see where some bickering would arise. 

It was after the 3rd week that we actually started to finally feel better on this diet.  We noticed way less bloating, gas and bathroom trips.  I have gotten used to cooking and I know off hand what I can make and what goes together.  I have started using Amazon Fresh for groceries and saving that time has been a life saver.  Why we got on this diet is finally starting to make sense and that makes us way more positive.

Besides our LowFODMAP journey, the point of this post is more to focus on something surprising that we both have learned.  We learned that we find so much comfort in food, more than either of us realized.  Derek was always someone who said he didn’t care about food, sometimes he would even forget to eat if he was engrossed in work.  (I am certainly not like this; I think about my next meal while I’m still eating my current one.)  What Derek came to realize is that after a long work week, he craves a nice burger, some fries and a beer.  He finds comfort in this food and it is a nice reward for a stressful day.  Now that this comfort has been taken away it makes it so apparent how much he needs that comfort. 

I have realized the same thing.  I care about food and what foods I am putting into my body but I also have my own comfort foods that I turn to.  On a Friday night, you could usually find me curled up on my couch with a pint of Halo Top ice cream.  In the morning if I had a long day ahead I would make a giant smoothie bowl with tons and tons of toppings. On a weekend after a nice hike or a bike ride all I want is a giant plate of sweet potato fries. I never realized how much I relied on these comfort foods until I wasn’t allowed to have them anymore. 

I don’t think it is a bad thing to be comforted by food.  We should feel good eating and find a sense of comfort in the foods that we eat.  After a long week, I feel like I deserve a treat, it makes me happy.  Since our typical comfort foods are currently off limits, I have to be more creative in the kitchen to satisfy our cravings.  There are tons of blogs out there that post LowFODMAP recipes and they have been extremely helpful.  Derek and I both like something sweet at night so I found a great chocolate chip cookie recipe for Derek and I have found that steamed carrots are surprisingly sweet and even better lathered in peanut butter.  We are also getting more creative with our social life.  We now ask friends to meet for later afternoon activities like hikes and walks so that we can eat lunch at home beforehand.  We started planning dream vacations and thinking of our future family and dream home to break up the monotony of sitting around every night.  I have also found some restaurants that have dishes that can be modified to fit our diet so we can at least feel like we are getting a special treat outside of the house.

This diet has been a huge lesson for us.  It has taught us how much food affects us, more than we even thought. Food affects our bodies, our energy, and our mood. It has taught us how much our social life revolves around eating and drinking and that we need to be more creative with our friends and activities.  It has taught us that we each have comfort foods that we rely on.  And the most important thing it has taught us is how strong we are as a couple and how much stronger we are getting by doing this together.  We have been each other’s biggest support systems and I am so grateful to have such an amazing partner on this crazy journey. 

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When your body says rest but your brain says do more

Ever since learning that I have adrenal fatigue, I have been taking a much different approach to my work outs and daily activities.  Basically, since I began working out consistently about 10 years ago, I have been an over doer.  I would push my body to run miles it wasn’t up for. I would double up on yoga classes just because I thought I should be doing more.  When my wedding was quickly approaching, I would some days do 3 workouts.  I was pushing my body way too hard.  I was constantly tired and also my body hit a point where it wasn’t making any forward progress, in fact I was regressing. 

This never really sunk in as a problem until I went to the doctor, got some test results back and actually saw the science of what was going on internally.  My cortisol (stress hormone) levels were crazy and spiking at all the wrong times of the day, the function of my adrenal glands was severely lacking which then caused a lowering of thyroid hormones.  To put it simply, my body was begging me to slow down.

Ever since learning about adrenal fatigue I have been taking supplements and making it a point to slow down.  I have been cancelling scheduled work out classes if I notice the day before I am feeling especially tired.  I am taking more walks and running way less.  I stick to one work out a day and I make it a quality workout not a half ass exhausted workout like I had been doing.  In 2 months, I have noticed significant changes in my energy levels and also the change in my body that I was striving to see.

 This new approach is still a daily struggle for me.  What I find to be the hardest part is that my brain is still used to telling me to do more, to push harder.  I am being more intuitive with what my body needs but my brain tends to have a plan of its own.  A perfect example is over the weekend I went for a lovely hike on Sunday afternoon.  It wasn’t a crazy hard hike but I went for a while and it was exactly what my body needed.  When I got home I was utterly exhausted so I laid down on the couch.  Immediately my brain started firing off, “get up and do something”.  I knew that my body wanted to be still and enjoy the much-deserved rest but my brain was telling me to be productive.  This is the struggle that I have been finding.

I have come up with a few things that have been helping me quiet my mind and take the rest I need.

1.     Meditation- I find that if I am sitting around with not much to focus on that my mind tends to go a little crazy.  I have the head space app that I will use and do a 10-15-minute meditation to calm my thoughts down.  After I do this I usually feel super relaxed and eager to rest more.

2.     Do simple things around the house- if I absolutely can’t sit still I find little chores to do around the house.  Sometimes all I really need is to feel productive and that settles me down.  I will throw in a load of laundry or put away dishes. 

3.     Foam roll- I know this is an activity but it is one that is good for my muscles.  To me, foam rolling is an amazing example of self-care and it helps my body recover.

4.     Take a bath- this is one of my favorite things to do.  I will fill up a nice hot bath tub with some Epsom salt, light a few candles and just close my eyes.

5.     Face mask- there isn’t much else you can do besides lay around with a face mask on.

6.     Face time family- this is a perfect way to reconnect with my loved ones across the country and an hour can go by in no time at all.

The mind is a powerful thing and sometimes it tells us things that are not the best for us.  It is important to really be intuitive with your body and honor how it feels.  Now this is completely different from being lazy, I am not saying you should wake up in the morning and cancel a work out class just because you don’t feel like going.  You should cancel a workout class if your body is telling you it needs to rest; you will know the difference.  

CBD and SLEEP

 

I have talked about this in the past and it is so important that I wanted to talk about it again!  Even if your diet and exercise routine is perfect, if your sleep is lacking you are not going to see the benefits you want and your body will not run efficiently.  Sleep is SO vital to overall health and wellness. When you sleep, your body does all its recovering and rebooting.  You may notice if you only log a couple hours one night that you wake up looking and feeling like hell. 

For the past few years I have had sleep trouble.  What happened to me was a stressful job was causing me anxiety that would keep me up at night.  Fast forward to after the job ended and instead of sleep issues being a symptom of my anxiety, now sleep issues are what caused anxiety.  I get super anxious about not being able to fall asleep that I fall into a terrible cycle of then not sleeping.  My therapist calls it anticipatory sleep anxiety.

I have tried everything you could imagine.  I even gave myself a stomach ulcer because I was taking Advil PM every night for about a month (good job Alex).  I have done every over the counter pill, I have taken every supplement and drank every bedtime tea.  Something may work for a little bit and I get excited and then it doesn’t and I get very discouraged.

Thankfully there is something out there I have found that helps me and it is CBD oil.  There are many different ways to take CBD oil.  There is a liquid you can place under your tongue; you can get an oil pen and you can also eat/drink it.  I have found two amazing products that work and I really enjoy. 

The first product that I have been using is Buddha Teas.  Buddha Teas makes many varieties of teas but the ones I use are the CBD teas.  They have a few different flavors but my favorite is the CBD mint.  They use water soluble CBD which means that the CBD actually ends up in the tea.  Oil based CBD can’t extract into hot water so that is why is water soluble CBD is so important.  I make my tea after dinner around 7PM (I can’t have it too late or I will have to pee all night).  I cozy up under a blanket and enjoy.  I start to get a super calm and relaxed feeling shortly after, it gets me stress free for bed time.

The next product that I love is THERAPEUTIC CBD chocolate because who doesn’t love a little chocolate in their life!  Unfortunately, right now I can’t have it because of the LOWFODMAP diet I am on but before that I was eating it every night.  My favorite thing to do was put a piece in my Halo Top ice cream, perfect nighttime snack.  Each piece/dose has 15mg of CBD, is 90 calories and not that much sugar.  The chocolate is made with Santa Barbara chocolate so it is pretty local which I love.  My favorite flavor is the caramel coconut drizzle.  Each bar is made with real fruits and all natural ingredients. 

So, if you are looking to improve your sleep or just need something to chill out at night I would highly recommend these CBD products.  And don’t worry, CBD does not get you high, it has none of the THC from the plant which is responsible for the high.  It is just the perfect way to unwind, relax and get the much-needed quality sleep!

Week 1 of LOWFODMAP

Week one of the lowfodmap diet has been extremely difficult.  Not only is it a diet change, but it is a lifestyle change.  I never fully realized how much time goes into meal prepping and cooking.  I enjoy cooking, I love following recipes and making new things up.  The problem with the lowfodmap cooking is everything has to be so specific and it gets confusing.  You have to measure your portions out to the last gram and make sure you aren’t “stacking” fodmaps.  I constantly have to check the internet and the app I use to see what can go together, it is exhausting.

Last night I made steak and wanted some vegetable sides.  I cooked green beans (you can only have 12) and also roasted some tomatoes because I thought those would be okay together.  After it was done I did a double check to find that common tomatoes would be okay but I had used roma tomatoes and they contain the same fodmap as green beans.  I had to take the tomatoes away from the meal and save for a later time. This is what makes the cooking so hard.  And don’t even get me started on the number of dishes all the prepping and cooking produces.  I think I run and unload my dishwasher every day and my hands are getting super dry from all the hand washing.  I must throw a shout out to Derek here because he has been extremely helpful with the cleaning, thanks babe.

I used to be someone who loved going to the grocery store, I know weird but I do.  Since I have to spend so much time prepping and cooking (never fully realized how long it takes to peel and chop) I don’t have the time to shop as much anymore.  My saving grace has been Milk and Eggs grocery delivery.  They are a LA and OC based grocery delivery service and they are legit.  The website is so easy to navigate; you just go on fill up your cart and select a delivery day and time.  To make this the most efficient I have to make sure I know what meals I am making for the week in order to have all the ingredients.  This leaves little room for spontaneous craving meals.

Another thing that has been really tough is not being able to go out to eat or order in.  Last Friday I had a super long day and all I wanted to do when I got home was order some UberEats for us and spend the night on the couch.  Since our diet is so restricted it makes it basically impossible to trust what you are getting from restaurants.  We can’t have any garlic or onions which is basically used in everything.  Even when I am super tired or feeling lazy, if I want to eat I need to prepare it.    

Now let’s talk about socializing.  Derek and I went to an awesome event on Saturday called the Brunch Series.  Part of the event was all the amazing product sponsors and also the INCREDIBLE lunch buffet and sadly we could not have any of it.  Standing around and watching people sample products and eat this amazing lunch was torture.  We stood in the corner snacking on fodmap approved bars (sad face).  This diet makes going out with friends really difficult. We can’t eat places and we can’t drink so that basically means we get to hang around and watch our friends with envious looks on our faces. 

Now don’t get me wrong, it isn’t all bad.  I have for sure noticed far less bloat and stomach discomfort.  It really has shown that there is something I am eating that has been causing this and I am excited to figure out what it is.  I really hope it isn’t something I really love, that would be a bummer but at least I would be aware and be able to decide if I want to eat it and feel bad or just avoid all together. 

With one week, down and over 2 months to go I really hope it gets easier along the way.  I think once we get down a cooking system and I am more familiar with the amounts and foods that can go together it won’t feel as overwhelming.  The socializing will stuff be tough, but the company of friends will make it okay.  Oh and one last thing, I miss nightly Halo Top ice-cream more than anything, addiction much??

LOWFODMAP Journey

Today marks the day of the start of our Low FODMAP adventure.  I am calling it an adventure to try to put a positive spin on what is going to be a long couple of months.  Derek and I started seeing an amazing functional medicine doctor at the beginning of the year to really get our health on track.  We went for a variety of reasons, one of them being digestive issues and discomfort.  Without sharing TMI, for the longest time we have been very bloated, gassy, and spending too much time in the bathroom.  After some tests, it turns out we both have SIBO (small intestine bacteria overgrowth).  The treatment for this is 10 days of strong antibiotics and then following a Low FODMAP diet for 3 months.  If you do a quick google search of this diet you will find it is pretty restrictive.  Not only are some foods just totally not allowed, but most have to be precisely measured out and not paired with other FODMAP containing foods.  Some of my absolutely favorite and go to foods are banned (cauliflower, brussel sprouts, broccoli, avocado, onions, garlic).  Thankfully Derek and I will be doing this together which takes away some of the stress.  We won’t really be too much fun in social environments since we can’t eat out but we have a long list of movies to watch. 

My plan is to share this journey with you guys, to share what is easy, what is hard, and tips and tools that help us along the way.  It is going to be a long couple of months.  I have to be very on top of cooking and meal prepping.  I can’t come home on a Friday night and be lazy and order in food.  Something that I have discovered that is already making this process easier is The Gut Program.  The Gut Program is a company that tailors LowFODMAP boxes to people’s needs.  I just received my first box and was blow away by how amazing and helpful it is.  I am so excited to be working with The Gut Program on this “adventure”.

Inside of our box was TONS of approved food items and snacks.  There are some companies that specifically make Low FODMAP foods (I will get more into them later) and also other companies that have products that just happen to work with the diet.  There were bars, chips, popcorn, baking supplies, beverages, snacks, pasta, bread and lots more.  I felt such a spark of hope when opening my box knowing that there are products out there that can help make this easier.

Another thing inside the box was a folder with the best information.  There is a list of all the products in the box, why they are low FODMAP, where you can find them and also a warning if there are other products by the brand that are not approved.  This is so helpful because I could totally see myself being like “oh this is approved let me check out some other flavors.”  The other thing included in the folder was a list of recipes.  Not boring and bland recipes, but hearty, yummy sounding recipes.  There was one for a cinnamon berry crumble, banana and peanut butter ice cream, salmon and peanut stir-fry, and many more.  The recipe instructions are also so simple that I know I can totally handle them (I am not the most skilled in the kitchen).

Yes, this journey is going to be long.  At times, I am going to want to say screw it and stop.  I am going to get lazy and frustrated and not want to spend my weekend meal prepping.  What is going to help me get through it is the support of my husband and also knowing that we are doing something that ultimately is going to make us feel SO much better.  When your body and your gut feel right, this corresponds to so many other areas of your life.  I am excited to feel my absolute best, physically and mentally.  If you want to check The Gut Program out for yourself hit up their website and you can find all the info you need. If you want to order your own box, you can use my link! http://www.thegutprogram.com?aff=6

 Would love to hear any stories or tips from others out there on this same journey.  Let’s do this!

Being forced to break habits

I am back from my trip to Ireland, the trip I was going to use to help me reset and let go of my tightly controlled schedule.  Ireland is a beautiful place, super cold and rainy but still beautiful.  It was amazing to be with my family, squished into a small van driving around the country.  We saw many cute little towns, farms and magnificent castles.  Any time with my family I treasure and this was no exception.

Because I have been recently dealing with lots of changes and trying to be less rigid with my schedule, I decided this trip would be the perfect way to embrace these changes and just go with the flow.  I knew this would be tough for me, but sometimes you just have to put yourself into a situation where letting go of control is the only option.  This trip turned out to be just that.

When I arrived in Ireland Sunday morning I was picked up by my family and we immediately were on the go.  This was the first morning in a long time (besides being sick) that didn’t start with a workout.  At first my brain was going crazy, I needed to move.  I had just been on an airplane for 12 hours and my level of restlessness was through the roof.  As these thoughts were racing around my head, I found some new thoughts to focus on.  I was with my family, I was in a new country, I was going to see things I had never seen before and that is what should take precedent.  I asked myself “would you rather be at the hotel alone while your family explores so you can get a quick workout in at the gym?” the answer to that is obviously no.  I had to let go of my typical schedule and just go with it.  Of course, we ended up having a great day and walked around a ton so my body did get the movement it was craving, just in a different way.

Our first dinner in Ireland was also another big step in letting go of control.  If you have been following along with my journey you may know that I was a vegetarian for many years and my doctor recently told me that I really need to be adding way more meat into my diet.  Since that appointment, I have been cooking myself chicken, beef and trying to make fish that is decent.  For dinner that first night we went to a typical Irish pub and the old me would have been horrified by the menu.  Fried fish and chips, cheeseburger and fries, chicken wings, Guinness beef stew, everything screamed unhealthy.  At first I felt a little stressed, not only did I miss my typically scheduled workout but now I was going to have to eat something that would have been considered a “bad food”.  I took a few deep breaths, took in my surroundings and took another look at the menu.  I saw that they had grilled salmon with vegetables and rice and decided that was perfect. This was also my first-time ordering fish at a restaurant.  What helped me through this was acknowledging where I was.  I was in Ireland, in a pub, something super authentic that I should be appreciating.  Putting myself into the present moment was a very helpful tool for me.

The next morning, I woke up and I knew my parents had to go back to the airport to get my final sister to join the trip so I decided to hit the hotel gym.  I had a pretty bad night sleep so I knew a little workout would give me an energy boost.  About half way through my workout I started getting really over it.  My other 2 sisters were upstairs in the room, sure to be waking up soon and I had such a strong desire to be hanging out with them instead.  On previous family vacations, yes I would want to spend as much time with my family as possible, but I always felt I needed to get in an hour of morning workout me time.  This was a whole new feeling for me, I was being drawn away from my norm and to do something different, so I did.

Each morning for the rest of the trip I would get up and evaluate the time I had and how I felt.  Since I usually sleep pretty poorly on trips, I was feeling extra tired.  My mom would let us know our itinerary the night before so I knew what our morning departure times were.  At home and on previous vacations, I always set an alarm so I can wake up and get in a workout.  I decided this trip to not set my alarm for that, but to set it with enough time to get ready for the day.  I naturally wake up early so I did find myself waking before I needed to and the first thing that would pop into my head was “okay workout time.”  Instead of jumping up and following that urge, I took a moment to really notice how I felt.  If I was tired I stayed in bed and if I felt rested I did a little yoga flow or a 20-min workout video in my room. 

My schedule and routine was completely off, not just off, it didn’t really exist.  I didn’t force myself to work out each morning, I didn’t force myself to be super strict with the meals I was eating (honestly healthy meals weren’t really an option anyway) and I didn’t give myself a hard time about it.  Sometimes we try to do things for ourselves that we know we need but then end up beating ourselves up about it.  I would have my inner voice in my head saying “you should have gotten that workout in or you should have picked that salad for dinner.”  This trip I didn’t let that voice have the power.  It still came up each day but instead of worrying and feeling anxious about it, I just let it have a moment and then let it go.  It wasn’t easy and at times I felt down on myself but what helped me through that was taking a moment to stop, look around and appreciate the experience I was having.

This trip was such a huge learning experience for me.  It showed that everything will be okay if nothing is scheduled and planned.  It showed me that I won’t lose all my fitness progress just from taking a few days off. It showed me that I don’t always have to pick the healthiest thing on the menu. This trip showed me that there are much more important things in life than keeping yourself on such a strict routine and for me the most important thing was time with my family. 

Now my goal is to keep this mentality, to keep making progress towards being less of a control freak and more of a go with the flow kind of person.  I want to be more in touch with my body and how it is feeling and what it actually needs over what I think it needs.  I know this is an ongoing journey and some moments will be tougher than others, but in the end I know it is whats best.

Letting go of control

If you are not someone with control issues then this post won’t really make sense to you, you may even think I am a little crazy.  Something I have been really trying to work on is letting go of control.  I am a planner; I like to know what I am doing and when I am going to do it.  I like to lead the charge in planning activities.  If you ask Derek, he would tell you I always make our schedule.  This is just my natural state, how I feel the most comfortable.  I like to be the driver, figuratively and literally (Derek does love having a personal chauffer). 

So, with all the changes I am going through, this is a step that will help me.  I figure if I get more comfortable when I am not in control then it will be easier for me to make the changes I need to make.  Since this is such a tough thing for me I am going with the baby steps approach, small victories every day.  I know if I go at this on a large scale it will just cause me too much anxiety.

Yesterday morning was my first baby step of letting go of control and yes it was super tough for me.  On Tuesday and Thursday mornings Derek and I will go to the Santa Monica stairs.  We like to vary it up, changing how many sets we do, what running we do in between, etc.  If you had to guess who picks the workout we do I am sure you would choose me, and you are correct.  This morning I turned over control to Derek.  We drove down to the stairs, parked and I said “okay babe, tell me what we are doing.” 

This may seem like such a small trivial thing but if you could see the anxiety in my chest you would understand this was hard for me. It isn’t that Derek can’t pick a good workout, he was most likely going to do something harder than we normally do, but the fact of not knowing and not planning was killing me.   I took a deep breath and let him lead. 

I can’t tell you that it went well and I was totally ok with it because that would be a lie.  After about every round I kept saying “well maybe we should do this or maybe we can do this,” to which Derek politely replied, no.  I need to give him a huge shout out for not getting frustrated with me and being supportive. 

We finished the workout (I added a little extra run at the end but mostly because I felt like I could do more) and nothing catastrophic happened.  The sun didn’t burn out, the moon didn’t fall from the sky, nothing bad happened when I wasn’t in control.  I did it, I took my first baby step.  I was really proud of this and I actually felt really good about it.

I know this is something I am going to have to be diligent about.  It is so easy for me to slip back into a routine of scheduling and planning, it is like second nature I don’t even realize it.  Each day I am going to have to make a conscious effort to let go of the reins a little bit.  I can wake up and not have a workout scheduled, just see what my body is feeling.  I can not plan out what I am cooking for dinner and let Derek suggest something for me to make.  I could even switch up my standard meals and snacks that I have daily (even though I really just love them.)

This is going to be a long road.  I have basically had 27 years of a type A personality that drives me to like and need control.  I know I have to be patient with myself, that I am not going to get rid of all the anxiety over night.  I am determined to be more comfortable with letting go of control because I know in the long run it is super beneficial for me.  We want to start a family sometime in the not so distant future and I know once kids come around, plans will get messed up all the time.  I want to be comfortable when that happens.  Every day on this journey is a step in the right direction, taking care of my physical, mental and emotional help.  And thank you Derek for being my biggest support system, I love you.

When vacation serves as the perfect way to reset

I love routine.  I find myself doing the same thing week after week.  I have a workout routine, I have a weekly meal routine, I have a routine of when I go grocery shopping.  For me this routine is comforting, I know what I have planned and I can fit it into my schedule accordingly.  The downside of this is that it takes away the spontaneity of life.  It is hard for me to wake up on a Saturday morning and say “Hey Derek lets go drive to some cool breakfast spot.”  On Saturday morning, I wake up and I go to yoga.  (This also is hard to do because I wake up like 3 hours before Derek does anyway.)  As you can see, I am very predictable and some may even say boring.

Right now is a difficult point in my life because tons of things are changing. I have had to change up my diet, I have changed up my level of physical activity and also my hormones are changing.  Now more than I ever I find myself clinging to the things in my life that I can keep the same.  My day to day schedule can stay the same and I find myself even more resistant to changing it up.  Monday mornings I go to Pilates so no I can’t join a friend for a walk instead.  I know that being this rigid with my schedule isn’t a good thing.  It creates unnecessary anxiety because life isn’t perfect and sometimes your plans have to change.

I am going on vacation with my family to Ireland next week.  I am so excited to spend time with them and explore a new place (not super excited about the cold weather).  The problem is my schedule and planning will be thrown out the window.  When you are traveling with a group you have to be flexible, you have to go with the flow.  The thought of this kind of stresses me out.  After thinking it over I realized that this is the perfect opportunity to get out of my routine and get uncomfortable.

I am not going to be able to work out exactly how I want when I want.  I am not going to be able to eat where I want to and when I want to.  I am also not going to be able to go where I want to go at a specific planned time.  And the best part of this is, I am going to be okay.  Nothing terrible is going to happen if my routine is different.  I am going to be in a beautiful place with the people I love the most and make amazing memories. 

The concept of letting go of control is very hard for my type A personality.  I will have a week of an inconsistent schedule and I am going to take that lesson with me when I return.  I want to be more spontaneous, as Derek would say to live a little every once in a while.  I know right now is a special situation because I am going through a lot of change but I don’t want to get so stuck in my ways that it causes me stress. 

My intention when I return back from Ireland is to have less of a routine.  Of course, there are certain aspects of life that need to be planned out and need to be done at certain times but there are way more parts of life that can have some wiggle room.  I want to feel happy about the things I enjoy doing, not trapped by them.  This is all easier said than done but I really want to stick to this intention.  I have thought of a few things that may help me out along the way and can maybe help you if you feel the same way I do.

 

·      If you start to feel anxious stop and breathe

·      If a plan changes, find the positive in the new plan don’t focus on the negative

·      If I get really stressed, take a short walk alone, giving yourself the feeling of control

·      Just have fun, life is way too short and uncertain to not enjoy every moment of it

·      Be open, you may find something you love/enjoy that you didn’t even know

The toughest change to accept, change in your body

Change can be extremely difficult for some people and for me it is.  Once I get into a routine/schedule, I feel very comfortable with it.  I am well aware that change is good and it is a good practice to embrace it but it is still something I struggle with.

As many of you know, I found out some upsetting news about how some of my “healthy” habits have actually been causing me harm.  Little recap, my strict vegetarian diet of 10 years has left my body depleted of essential B vitamins, chronic stress and over exercise have fried my adrenal glands, and years of birth control have negatively impacted my hormones.  After leaving that doctors appointment I knew a ton of change was coming my way and it terrified me.

The first thing I have changed is my diet.  I have been reintroducing meat and trying to incorporate more healthy fats and less restrictions.  When you do things a certain way for many years it becomes second nature.  The way I grocery shop, the way I cook and the way I look at foods all are changing.  Luckily this aspect of change hasn’t been too difficult.  Last week I made a beef chili and I imagined my stomach basically exploding, but of course nothing like that happened.  I actually really enjoyed it.  I am trying to make the best of it and have some fun searching for and trying out new recipes. 

Another change I made was I removed my IUD (hormonal birth control).  My test results showed that my estrogen was way too high and my progesterone was undetectable.  I decided I really wanted to go natural and not have any more synthetic hormones in my body. What led me to get this tested was I was experiencing hormonal breakouts (very uncommon for me), very sore boobs and very emotional PMS.  I am also taking many different supplements to help restore my deficiencies, support my adrenals, and balance out my hormones. 

Now the change that has been really hard on me and continues to be, my body changing.  I am eating differently, working out less, and trying to balance my hormones and my body is different than I am used to.  After doing some research and of course getting sucked into a rabbit hole, I found many stories of woman stopping their birth control and gaining weight.  That phrase, most woman’s worst nightmare, gaining weight.  After seeing that I thought “oh no what have I done?  Maybe I should go on the pill.”  What I keep reminding myself is my body needs to change, it needs to balance out.  Getting dressed in the morning, seeing myself in the mirror and noticing differences the first thing I want to do is go out for a run, to step up my exercise.  This compulsion had been a driving force for so long. I feel like I am living in a different body, I don’t feel like me. I have to constantly remind myself that more is not better.  I did damage to my adrenal glands and my body’s ability to function properly has suffered. 

Accepting this change has been really hard on me.  I have felt down about myself, mad at myself and wanting to go back to old habits.  It is incredibly difficult to silence that little voice in my head that is telling me to fight this change, to go back to how things were.  I know that I need time, that things will balance out when they get back on track but this journey is a struggle.  I am so grateful to have such a supportive husband and also social media community who have been helping me during this time. 

Change is hard, change is scary but change can be the absolute best thing for you.  I am hopeful that I am making the right steps, that I am allowing my body to heal the way it needs to.  If anyone has felt similar I would love to hear what helped you.  And for those of you who are enduring this same struggle, I want you to know that I am here for you. 

When everything seems to be working against you

If you read my blog post from last week you know I got pretty personal and opened up about some things.  I was so touched and blown away by all the comments and messages I got full of love and support.  I wanted to start this blog to make a difference, to help and hopefully inspire others.  I decided it was a great time to go a little deeper into my past and share some other big life moments that have led me to where I am today.

Like I said in my last post, the end of college was a really rough time for me.  I was extremely unhappy and basically isolated myself from everyone around me.  The one thing I had that helped me through was my yoga practice.  I had been going to a Bikram yoga studio in my college town and it was there that I felt okay.  I was surrounded by people who didn’t judge, who didn’t make snide comments, who made me feel safe.  I went pretty much every day and I fell in love with the practice and the community.  This is why after I graduated I decided to move away from the path of becoming a registered dietician and start a new path as a yoga teacher.  If I could give what yoga gave to me to just one person I would feel fulfilled. 

I did a ton of research on different yoga trainings, there are so many.  I knew I wanted to move away from Bikram, I had started doing vinyasa classes and loved this style.  I also knew that if I stayed near home I would probably never leave; I could live in my childhood bedroom until I was 35.  I had been to California a few times and knew that I loved it.  After spending 4 years in the arctic tundra of Vermont I knew I could use some warm weather.  I finally decided on Core Power Yoga in Los Angeles.  I had never been to a Core Power studio and I really didn’t know much about it but something about the program struck me as a good fit.  I contacted the person leading the training and put my deposit down for Oct 2012. 

After I made the payment, I was terrified.  I had never been someone who liked being away from home and I didn’t know anyone in LA.  I couldn’t believe I had made the move to pack up and move across the country.  This is when I had to learn to be open to fail.  What my mom kept telling me was I could always come home.  If I went out there and didn’t enjoy it, I could come home.  No one likes failure, no one wants to set themselves up to fail.  It almost seemed easier to me to not do it at all then to try and not succeed. 

After lots of stress and worry and going back and forth, I did it.  I found a room to rent and I packed up my stuff, shipped my car across the country and flew out to LA.  I had about a month before the teacher training started and since I didn’t know anyone in the area I used that time to explore solo.  I had sent my bike out with me so I spent a ton of time riding my bike around Venice and Santa Monica.  I found a nanny job to do short term to take up some of my time and also earn a little money. 

This is when the real struggle and challenge began, I felt like everything was working against me.  I was so incredibly home sick.  The place I was living didn’t have cable or internet so I spent a lot of time sitting in my room facetiming with my sisters.  I missed them so much.  My one sister would send me letters about how much she missed me, how hard it was having me gone and these broke my heart.  I think I cried at least once a day. 

When I did finally start my training, I was super shy at first.  I was intimidated by the other people who seemed to feel very comfortable and at home at the studio.  It took some time but I began to open up and develop relationships with the other trainees.  Then something huge happened.  During the end of October, Hurricane Sandy wrecked the east coast.  My family was in New Jersey, without power or heat and very limited access to a grocery store for two weeks.  I felt so bad being so far away, so helpless.  I knew there was nothing I could do but just being so far during a tough time was killing me.  I felt like the universe was telling me I needed to be back at home.  My mom urged me to stay put, to continue what I started and that everything was fine.  During the storm my dad had torn his bicep and had to wait for hospitals to reopen before he could have surgery.  He finally was able to go in for surgery and another trying time hit me.  After the surgery, my dad had some sort of reaction to the anesthesia and pain medication.  The doctors didn’t know this at the time, all they knew was his liver wasn’t functioning and they couldn’t figure out why.  When I heard this news, I was beside myself.  How could I be across the country, away from my family while my dad was so sick.  My parents assured me that everything was going to be okay and that I was coming home for Christmas soon and to not give up on my dream. At this point it was really tough for me to believe I was following my dream, it felt like I was abandoning my family when they needed me most.

This sequence of events was making me feel like I wasn’t supposed to be in California, but I was torn because I did love what I was doing.  I had made such close friends; the yoga studio had become my family.  When I did go home for Christmas my dad was home recovering and everything seemed to be back to normal with my family.  After long discussions with my family and lots of tears, I knew that I had to go back and finish what I started.  Taking that chance, pushing myself to continue was the best thing I could have done.  I went back to LA, finished my training and started teaching.  I had made friends in and out of the studio.  I finally felt like I had a life that I loved, I had started over.

Even when life gets hard and it seems the universe is testing you, it is important to follow your dreams. I am so grateful for my family and all the support they gave me during this hard time.  I had opened myself up to the possibility of failure and it led me to true happiness.  Sometimes we have to do things that make us uncomfortable.  We have to do things we wouldn’t normally do and take risks.  It is okay to fail.  If you don’t open yourself up to the possibility of failure, then you are never going to take that leap.  That leap could be exactly what you need.

When your healthy habits are causing you harm

I have sat down a few times to write this post and have found it difficult to put into words how I am feeling.  I recently started seeing a functional medicine doctor to get to the bottom of a few things that have plagued me for a while.  Meeting with this doctor, we sat for two hours going over all my concerns and symptoms.  He sent me home with a huge list of tests to get done (stool samples, urine samples, blood work and a breath test).  I am so thankful for his desire to see the whole picture because it turns out some things I thought were “healthy”, were actually causing my body harm.

I decided to become a vegetarian when I was 17 years old.  At first it was just something I wanted to try, to see if I could.  It was also around that time that I started working out and being more conscious of my eating habits.  I lost some weight, got into better shape and was getting complimented on it so I figured I would stick with my new “healthy” lifestyle.  Soon after I left for college, The University of Vermont, where it was very easy to be a vegetarian.  There is a huge scene of pretty hippy people and the dining halls catered to that.  It was also a great way to keep myself from drunk late night food binges which usually consisted of burgers, breakfast sandwiches and pizza. 

I continued with my vegetarian lifestyle throughout my four years there, getting more and more strict with it.  It was during my last two years that I was also under a tremendous amount of stress.  I was studying dietetics which was kicking my ass and had a falling out with my best friend/roommate which made my living conditions extremely uncomfortable.  It seemed the only thing I had true control over was my diet and exercise.  I was super unhappy, basically depressed, and very stressed.  I told myself to just get through the last year of school and I would be ok.  All of this was taking a toll on my body, more than I even knew.  My weight suffered to the point where friends and family were concerned.  It wasn’t that I wasn’t eating, I was.  I had 3 full meals a day and lots of snacks in between.  The problem was my body was just on overdrive and I was pretty restrictive on what I allowed myself to eat, no cheat days.  I am 5 foot 10 and weighed 107 pounds, not good.

After college, I moved back home for the summer, taught sailing and was back with loved ones and in my happy place.  Things improved and I felt much better.  I decided to move to California to do a yoga teacher training.  I fell in love with LA and that is where I have been ever since.  I was still a vegetarian, still worked out a ton, probably a little too much, but I was happy.

Fast forward to now, to my follow up appointment to go over all my test results.  I met with Dr.Lekkos and he told me we had a lot of work to do.  The first thing he shared was that I am extremely deficient in all my B vitamins.  B vitamins are ones that need to be consumed daily and are found in beef, poultry and fish (things I was definitely not eating).  B vitamins are responsible for keeping our bodies running.  They help our bodies convert food into fuel, giving us the energy we need.  They also play an important role in immunity.  My levels were super low and that explained my fatigue and also why I was getting sick often.  He told me that my body isn’t efficiently using fat as a fuel and that my cell membranes are “rusted”.  Seeing the numbers on paper and how deficient I was really hit me hard.  Here I have been for the past 10 years thinking I was doing something amazing for my body.  I am not saying that a vegetarian diet is bad for everyone, some people can function well on one, but for me that clearly was not the case.  Since that appointment I have been slowly adding meat back into my diet.  I want to give my body the nutrients it needs to be healthy.

Another thing I learned from my test results was that my adrenal glands are fried.  The adrenal glands are active during stress, physical and emotional.  Long term stress causes these glandes to be overworked and they can’t keep up with the demands.  Dr. Lekkos said that my period of high stress in college and my continued intense workouts had flooded my body with cortisol, causing my adrenal fatigue.  This adrenal fatigue has since led to a slowing of my thyroid (slower metabolism and less ability for my body to successfully convert energy). 

It really upset me learning this.  My whole purpose, my brand is health and wellness.  To learn I have been negatively impacting myself made me feel like a failure.  There is so much pressure these days to look and act a certain way.  I had become so concerned with my body image that “junk food” and a rest day didn’t exist for me.  I have been pushing myself too hard, over training and also not giving my body the nutrients it needs to keep up.  This has been a huge eye opening experience for me.  It is now more important than ever to practice what I preach, balance.  I need a balanced diet.  I need more protein. I need more meat. I need more healthy fats.  I need to learn to workout smarter, not harder.  Instead of doing multiple workouts a day, I need to learn to do more efficient workouts that make me feel great and are good for my body.

I am not a lost cause, Dr.Lekkos assured me that with the proper diet and supplements I can repair my body.  It is important to me to do what is necessary to get back on track.  Derek and I want to have kids soon and my body needs to be functioning properly for that to happen.  This is also a huge lesson in self-love.  I need to be easier on myself.  I need to give myself rest days, I need to give myself overindulgent days.  I need to live life and be happy and confident in myself.  Not everything we do is good for us.  It is easy to get trapped into a mindset that your restrictions are healthy.  Balance is the key to life.  It took really harming my body to learn this and it is a lesson I am taking to heart. 

My struggle to be the perfect bride

My wedding day, something I dreamed about as a little girl.  I can specifically remember playing with my Barbie and putting together a dream wedding for Barbie and Ken.  I envisioned a beautiful outdoor venue with all my family and friends, looking like a princess and walking down the aisle to my prince charming.  Fast-forward about 2 decades and I find myself living in LA, engaged to my prince.

I also was under the impression that wedding planning would be fun and pretty easy, but boy was I wrong.  I am not sure if it is the pressure of living in Los Angeles or the pressure of social media (probably a mixture of both) but I felt the need to push myself to look my absolute best (or what I told myself was best).   I was already very happy with myself, with my workout routines and my diet but once you add an upcoming wedding to the equation I felt I needed to go above and beyond. 

I live a pretty active lifestyle.  I walk wherever I can, I teach yoga, take Pilates and enjoy running and hiking.  With my wedding date a little over a year away, something inside me switched and I went into overdrive.  For me, any day wasn’t complete without 3 workouts.  I would wake up in the morning and go for a run.  I would then go to a Pilates class and most days I would also take a yoga class.  None of this was necessary, I already had my dream dress that fit me perfectly but in the back of my mind I kept hearing “you need perfect wedding arms, you need to have the flattest stomach.” 

Between the stress of actually planning the wedding, pushing myself too hard and the sleepless nights I was having while my mind raced over things like table sizes and chair types, I ended up giving myself a stomach ulcer.  This was a huge reality check for me.  I was in tremendous pain and could barely eat.  I was forced to slow down because I couldn’t give my body enough fuel to function at a high level.  This honestly was the best thing that could have happened.  I remember sitting on my couch scrolling through Instagram at all the different wedding accounts I followed and realizing that I was focusing on someone else’s dream, not my own.  The point of getting married and having a wedding is standing up in front of your loved ones and committing yourself to your soul mate for the rest of your life.  I had become obsessed with the idea of looking like the perfect bride that I completely lost sight of the true importance of marriage.

Once I realized this and stopped being so hard on myself the planning process actually became fun.  When the big day came, it was absolutely perfect.  We got married on top of a mountain in Malibu on the most beautiful September day.  My dress could have ripped before the ceremony and it would not have mattered, it was the happiest day of my life.

Looking back there are definitely some tips I would have given to myself.

1. Take care of yourself.  Pushing too hard to look a certain way is only going to lead to burn out and injury. 

2. Focus on eating clean, not on restriction.  If you deprive your body of the nutrients and fuel it needs, you are not going to feel good.  You need energy to plan the big day and also to get you through it (it is a long day).  If you want to change up your diet focus on getting the right about of protein, carbs, fats, fruits, and vegetables.  Stay away from fried foods and highly processed foods.  A good trick is to not eat out the few months leading up to the wedding day, cook at home so you know exactly what you are getting.

3. Planning is stressful, meditate.  I started meditating during the first few months of planning and it was the best decision.  With so much stress and things constantly running around in your mind, you need the time to be still and completely present. 

4. Do workouts you love.  If you absolutely hate running don’t try to be a marathon runner.  You are going to be miserable waking up and forcing yourself to pound pavement.  Focus on things that are good for your body but also good for your soul.

5. Skin care is number one.  I started getting monthly facials and being super diligent about sunscreen.  The last thing I wanted was to wake up on my wedding day and have a huge breakout.  Taking care of your skin is super important and helps to keep you looking youthful.

Overall, I definitely made mistakes during my wedding planning process but I also learned a lot.  I learned you should never compare yourself to others and set goals to be like someone else.  Woman face a ton of pressure to look perfect and that desire to do so takes away the true importance of your wedding.  No matter what, on your day you are going to feel like the princess you also imagined.  You get to walk away that day hand in hand with the person you will spend the rest of your life with.  The person you will grow old with, who will hold you when things are tough, who will support you know matter what, and that is truly amazing.

Honeymoon, Part 2

There were so many options of places to visit in Thailand it was hard to decide on what we wanted to do.  We finally decided on visiting Chiang Mai for 6 days during our trip.  We picked Chiang Mai because of the location, the proximity to excursions we wanted to do and also because of the history and culture.  We took a short flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai on Bangkok Air, which was extremely accommodating, and arrived at our first hotel, The Rim Resort.

The first hotel we stayed in was super cute.  They had a beautiful pool in the center courtyard with amazing flowers and vegetation surrounding it.  We decided to venture out the first night to see the city.  What surprised me most about Chiang Mai was how busy and populated it was.  My impression was it would be a smaller, more rural area.  Chiang Mai is a mini bustling city.  The streets are lined with restaurants, coffee shops, retail stores and massage parlors.  There are also a good number of temples mixed in throughout the city.  We found a super cute vegetarian restaurant that night for dinner and took a little walk around.

Our first full day was the excursion I was most excited about, the elephant camp.  The place we went to was called BaanChang Elephant Camp.  All of the elephants there had been rescued from log pulling, circuses and private owners.  The first thing I noticed when we got to interact with the elephants by feeding them was how intelligent they are.  I had bundles of bananas that I was feeding to different elephants and if I was hiding some the elephant I was feeding would not put them into his mouth until I had given them all to him.  He just stood there looking at me like “I know you have more and I want them.”  I know there are tons of people who are against elephant riding and think it is unfair treatment.  The place we went to did allow us to ride them.  At first I wasn’t sure about this but after spending the morning getting to know the animals and seeing them interact I was excited.  These elephants were extremely happy and living in great conditions.  People ride horses every day.  They don’t just ride horses; they push them to their limits.  Elephants are SO much bigger than horses, ours didn’t even seem to notice us sitting on top of him.  The handlers were not aggressive with the elephants; they didn’t control them with a whip or a chain.  We learned a few commands and the elephants responded to us as we rode them.  They are such intelligent animals, if they were uncomfortable in any way we would have known.  After a short ride, we took them to a small lake and gave them a bath.  This was my favorite part.  The elephants were so happy to be playing in the water and loved being washed.  My elephant thought it was funny to suck up water into his trunk and shoot it all over me, I was not as amused.  Overall, it was such an incredible experience and I am so happy we did it.

The next day we had a trekking and river rafting excursion.  We drove up into the mountains and arrived at a base camp where we met our guide.  We set out on a beautiful hike up to a waterfall.  Our guide was so knowledgeable about the surrounding area and the nature of the jungle.  He would randomly stop, grab a piece of bamboo and his machete and make something with it.  He made me a ring and also a coffee mug.  He taught us all about the different plants and insects, our own discovery channel adventure.  After our trek, we went back to the camp for lunch and then set off for rafting.  After a safety chat and demo we were split into groups and assigned rafting leaders.  Derek and I ended up having our raft guide to ourselves.  The rapids weren’t super big and crazy but there were definitely parts that got me a little nervous.  We made it down the river in about 2 hours with no wipeouts.  Our guide was awesome and made me feel very comfortable the whole time.

It is at this point in our journey when things took a little downward spiral.  On our ride back, I was feeling really nauseous.  I thought maybe I was just tired and dehydrated and once we got back I would be okay.  When we arrived back into our hotel I laid down in bed and must have fallen asleep.  The next thing I knew I was sprinting to the bathroom, you all can imagine why.  I seemed to have come down with food poisoning.  The experience was not pleasant.  Being in a strange place and not in your own bed makes sickness feel worse.  The next morning, I was still feeling bad and could tell I had a fever and was super dehydrated.  My loving husband took me to a local hospital down the street.  Our experience there was wonderful.  I was in and out in 40 minutes which is unheard of in the US.  I was sent home with antibiotics, fluids and some other medicines for my symptoms.  The whole visit only cost $60

This day was a transition day to a new hotel which ended up being a good thing because shortly after we arrived at our new hotel, Derek started experiencing symptoms as well.  We spent the next 24 hours in bed trying to keep ourselves hydrated and as fed as possible.  This hotel was a little bit outside the city in a less busy area.  It was called Sibsan Resort and it was also lovely.  The only problem we had there were all the mosquitos at night.  We would spray our door area with bug spray before opening it, trying to prevent them from getting into our room.

Despite the minor sickness setback, couple bonding is what I like to think of it as, we continued to enjoy our time in Chiang Mai.  We explored the city, saw the many temples, tried to eat some of the food and also enjoyed the very inexpensive Thai massages.  We took a private tour to Chiang Rai where we saw the White Temple, one of the coolest things I have ever seen. On this tour, we also took a boat ride to the Golden Triangle where there used to be a huge opium drug trade.  Our guide told us all kinds of stories about the history of Thailand and what daily life is like for many different people there.  What I found so interesting was that he practiced his English by watching American movies with Thai subtitles.  He had quite the movie collection.   After this adventurous part of our trip we were certainly ready for the island life.  Our next stop was Koh Samui and that is coming up next week!

Vital Proteins Collagen Creamer

I love coffee.  I have to start every morning with a cup or I don’t feel complete.  It isn’t even about the caffeine for me, it is about the taste and the ritual.  I love sitting down on my couch with a warm mug in my hand.  It is my happy time and I don’t think I could ever let it go.

There is always something new out there telling you that coffee is bad or coffee is good.  It is hard to know what is true and I think it is highly dependent on the person.  Am I addicted to coffee? I would say yes.  If I don’t drink it, I find myself getting a terrible headache.  Since I don’t see myself kicking my coffee habit anytime soon, I figured it would be best to give my coffee a little boost.  I found the best way to do this is with Vital Proteins Collagen Creamer.

Their collagen creamer is full of MCTs, which are a type of healthy fat found in coconut milk.  Each serving has 10 grams of clean collagen protein (grass fed bovine).  Collagen is proven to help with healthy hair, skin, nails, joints and bones.  This creamer is also free of refined sugars, dairy, gluten and is Whole30 approved.

They have three awesome flavors including coconut, vanilla and gingerbread.  I can say I have not been disappointed by any of them.  You can order a tub of it or in single packets which is great if you get your coffee on the go.  I am always that person at Alfreds (my favorite coffee spot) mixing in my creamer when I get my large Americano with almond milk and yes I do get some looks.  The single packs are also perfect to bring on trips.  Living in LA, you don’t realize that some places haven’t caught on to the dairy free milk trend.  As someone who can’t do dairy and doesn’t love black coffee, collagen creamer adds the perfect flavor for my morning cup.

I know that so many healthy trends come and go but I believe this one is here to stay.  I have seen and also heard of so many benefits of adding collagen protein to your diet.  Anything that is good for digestion, bones, joints and hair and nail strength is good for me.  We push our bodies to do incredible things and we pack our days to be nonstop that it is good to add a little extra nutritional support. 

Yes, the thought of adding collagen from bovine is a little strange, but you would have no idea if you weren’t told.  If you can have something that tastes great AND is giving you so many benefits, why wouldn’t you try it out.  If you are not a coffee drinker, the creamer can also be added to matcha and even baked goods.  Go ahead, give your coffee a boost, the benefits are totally worth it. 

Honeymoon in Thailand, Part 1

Our honeymoon in Thailand, where do I even begin.  Derek and I spent a little over two weeks exploring the amazing country of Thailand.  There is so much to share that I am going to have to break it up into a couple posts.  The first thing I want to share is our first stop, Bangkok. 

We took off on a Wednesday morning for the first leg of our journey which was a 12-hour flight to Tokyo.  We had been saving up miles and were able to use them to upgrade which was amazing.  (I highly suggest doing this when possible for long flights.)  Since we left in the late morning and were going to be arriving in Bangkok at night, we wanted to time our sleep while traveling to help with the jet lag.  We stayed up the first 6 hours of the flight and then tried to sleep the second 6 hours.  After landing in Japan we then had a 7-hour flight to Bangkok.  This flight was very hard to stay awake on since it was bedtime in LA but we powered through. 

By the time we got to our hotel in Bangkok and to our room it was midnight there so we made ourselves go to sleep.

Something I had heard on a podcast about helping with jet lag is you want to normalize your routine as soon as you can.  For me my normal routine is a morning workout so when I got up the next morning I did a quick run in the hotel gym. The jet lag going over was not as bad as I thought it would be.  I think jumping right into a routine was a good way for me to adjust.   After that it was time to explore the city.  I had found a really cool breakfast spot via Instagram in Bangkok called Brekkie.  We went out to find it which proved to be difficult because of the street signs.  Some seemed to be missing or facing the wrong way.  We finally got there, sat down and the menu was heaven for me.  They had smoothie bowls, avocado toast, gluten free pancakes, I was so happy. If you find yourself in Bangkok I would HIGHLY recommend this spot.

After eating way too much (I had two bowls) we continued exploring the city.  Let me say this, I thought LA was crowded and full of traffic, Bangkok is next level.  There are so many cars, taxis, little tuk-tuks and scooters zipping around.  The first thing we explored was this giant mall.  It had like 6 different levels with all kinds of shops and restaurants.  There were a good number of stores that we have in the US like Victoria’s Secret and HM but there were also some really unique stores.  I got my first pair of elephant pants here which are in absolute MUST in Thailand. 

After the mall, we got onto the Bangkok metro line which is a great way to get around the city.  We took it down to the Chao Phraya river where most of the temples are located.  Seeing my first temple was such a cool experience.  They are so large and intricate, just beautiful.  You had to be covered when you went inside, no shorts or tank tops and I kind of loved this rule/tradition.  A place with such significance and importance to the Buddhist people should be respected. 

After our first temple, we had to find some lunch and this is where I first discovered I was going to have a hard time eating.  As I am sure you all can tell by now I am a really healthy eater.  I don’t enjoy fried foods or foods that are drenched in sauce and I absolutely can’t handle spicy food.  What is Thai food, mostly fried, saucy and extremely spicy.  Something else that was troublesome for me was they cook most of their vegetables in oyster sauce.  Having a shellfish allergy, I didn’t want to gamble with that.  Most of the people we encountered spoke some English but the language barrier was still tough and made it hard to ask questions about the foods.  Finally, we found a place that I could get a Thai omelet which is basically an egg omelet with some peppers and onions over white rice. 

We continued on to a few more temples, Wat Pho, the reclining Buddha temple, was my favorite.  It was really interesting to learn about the different representations of Buddha.  When Buddha is seated with the right hand raised and facing outwards, this is the Protection Buddha.  When Buddha has both hands in the lap and the legs are crossed, this is the Meditation/Calming Buddha.  This is for when people are looking for peace and calm in their lives.  The Reclining Buddha depicts Buddha in the last moments of life on earth, prior to the Buddha dying before entering Nirvana. In the Buddhist religion, they believe in an endless cycle of birth-death-rebirth.  Because Buddha had gained enlightenment in his life, he was able to escape the endless cycle. 

Learning about the different culture, religion and practices of Thailand was my favorite part of Bangkok.  It is good to be emerged in something so different than what you are used to.  It is important to see how others live, to experience their day to day life. 

Bangkok was a crazy busy city but I really enjoyed it.  We were only there for a day and a half, I think we fit most of the important sights in but I could have stayed another day or two. 

Care of vitamins

If you ever have ventured down the supplements aisle of your local store I am sure you have felt very overwhelmed.  There are SO many different products out there it is hard to know what you need and also what is good quality.  There are supplements for everything; wellness, joints, cholesterol, insomnia, vitamin deficiencies, energy, digestion and so on.  Not only are there many different supplements but there are also so many different brands.  Unless you are an expert or get exact orders from a doctor, how do you know what to choose?

I was constantly facing this dilemma until care of vitamins came into my life.  Care of offers customized daily vitamin packs.  How it works is you go onto their website and start off by telling them a little bit about yourself.  You take a little quiz which asks questions about your lifestyle, values and your goals. Some of the questions are whether or not you have taken vitamins before, what you are currently taking, your age, where you live, and what your specific goals are like brain, gut, immunity, energy, stress, etc. After you do this, they offer their recommendations to you.  You can go through what they suggest and take out what you don’t want or add anything else you’d like.  Then each month you get a box of customized daily vitamin packs.

What is really great about care of is their promise to give honest guidance.  They don’t say that all supplements are equal just to get you to buy them.  They evaluate all their products based on a review of research.  They look at the number of studies, consistency of results, magnitude of results, and study methodology.  They have a leading team of doctors and nutrition experts who are involved in the recommendation logic.  Another reason why I think care of is so great is the cost.  They don’t mark up their supplements or have to deal with a middle man.  The prices they offer are fantastic and much less than if you went to the store to buy random supplements.

After taking my quiz this is what my daily pack looks like.

Probiotic Blend- supports the immune system

Rhodiola- promotes mental energy and focus

Calcium Plus- supports bone health

Vitamin B12- vegetarians have a higher risk of deficiency

Fish Oil- helps maintain a healthy heart

Digestive Enzymes- supports digestive health

Iron- another thing I have been told I am low in

Care of vitamins are fantastic.  I feel like I finally have answers about what I need in a supplement and I feel great.  The packs are also super cute and have a little daily message on them that I love seeing. Check out their site and see if it would be a good fit for you!

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Acupuncture and Cupping

I am a strong believer in eastern medicine.  There is a reason these ancient techniques have been around so long.  I am also someone who will go to a western doctor when I need to and take medicine if it is necessary.  The thing is, sometimes medicine is not the best answer.

I have a few health things I struggle with that I have seen specialists for and haven’t really gotten any conclusive answers or solutions.  I have made it my intention for 2018 to figure out what is best for my health.  I have heard many amazing things about acupuncture and cupping so I decided to give it a try.

I got a fantastic recommendation from my girl Jordan Younger, thanks Jordan!  She passed along the info for her go to girl, Dr. Kara Moramarco and I immediately made an appointment.  Dr. Moramarco is a doctor of acupuncture and oriental medicine (DAOM), and a board-certified California Licensed Acupuncturist.  She specializes in acupuncture, women’s health, pain and sports injuries and cupping. 

I had gotten acupuncture in the past to help with chronic sinus infections but I didn’t stick with it very long.  This time around I am ready to make the commitment to it and become my very best self.

When I arrived for my appointment I sat down with Kara and discussed all the different issues I was experiencing.  To briefly sum it up, I need help with digestion, sleep, hormones, and a painful left shoulder.  We got very detailed about my symptoms and everyday lifestyle.  She was so knowledgeable and made me feel extremely comfortable. 

We then went into the treatment room which was super cute and zen.  I got comfortable on the table and she went to work with her needles.  She put a couple on my face, for my congested sinuses, a few on my left wrist, a couple on my stomach, on my shins and feet and also my neck and top of my head.  She left me in the room for about 40 minutes.  During my time my body felt super relaxed and heavy.  I meditated and also took a little nap, it felt amazing.  She came back, removed the needles and then it was time for cupping.

Cupping is something I have never done before and I was a little bit nervous.  I have seen people in yoga with large circle bruises and it always looked painful.  I was face down and she started placing the cups on my back.  It was such a strange sensation.  It wasn’t painful but it also didn’t feel good.  It was almost like a super strong vacuum was sucking on my skin and also like a deep pressure massage.  She moved the cups around a bit and let them sit in various spots on my back and shoulders.  I actually really enjoyed the experience and thought it felt cool.  She said my back was very blocked up and my circles were very dark, basically I really needed it.  Cupping is a form of deep tissue therapy and is used to help muscle tightness which I absolutely have.  

I didn’t realize what she meant until I got home and took a look in the mirror.  My back looked like I had stood in front of a pitching machine and took fast balls to my body.  I know the darker the spots the more you needed it so let’s just say I should have done this a long time ago.  The spots don’t hurt at all, if anything my back feels more open.  It looks a thousand time worse than it feels. 

I am excited to keep with this, hopefully go once a week to really see the benefits.  My first experience was wonderful so I hope it just gets better and better.  If you are in LA I would definitely recommend seeing Dr. Kara, she’s legit!

Changing things up

I am guilty of being a creature of habit.  I love schedules and routines and consistency.  This applies to all areas of my life, not always for the best.  Something I fall into a habit with often is my workouts.  I find class times, or teachers that I like and it becomes my routine.  I have pilates Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 9 am and yoga at 1030am on Tuesday and Thursday.  I get comfortable with this routine and switching it up is hard for me.  I know that varying your workouts is great for your body and is helpful in achieving fitness goals but it is still hard for me to do.

Times that I have to change my routine are when I am traveling.  I recently went home for 2 weeks over the holidays to spend some much-needed time with my amazing family.  I of course check all the local yoga and pilates studios to see when classes are, I can’t fall off my fitness regimen completely.  Initially I feel off, changing my routine is a hard adjustment for me even though I know I need it.

One of my younger sisters plays rugby at Penn State.  Over winter break she was required to follow a workout schedule.  She asked if I wanted to do some of the workouts with her and I thought ya why not.  The first day I joined her she had to do timed sprints.  She had to sprint 109 meters in 20 seconds, 27 times.  After each sprint, you had a 40 second break and a 2-minute break between sets of 9.  If you have read my previous posts you know I am not the best runner.  I run pretty frequently so I figured I would be fine.  I was so wrong.  The first couple I was fine, although I did realize I was not very good at making my legs move quickly.  After the first set of 9 I was struggling hard.  My legs felt like cement and it was so hard to get myself moving fast.  I pushed myself through all 27 sets, probably not all in the 20 seconds but I was proud of myself.

The next day was a lift day.  I was already so sore from the sprints which surprised me.  I figured since I already ran a bunch that it would basically be the same muscle groups.  My glutes were way more sore than after a typical run. Despite my soreness, I went with Madison to our gym down the street and we went to an area I am not very familiar with, the weights.  I was definitely intimidated by all the people lifting around me, I am from Jersey so you can imagine the gym scene there.  Mads explained to me the different exercises we had to do and we got to work.  Once I got into a groove I blocked out everything else around me and just went for it.  It felt really different to not be pounding away on the treadmill or using the machines that guide you through different weight exercises, but I liked it. Also need to give Madison a shoutout because she totally crushed all of it and I can see why she starts in National Championship games. 

Again, the next day I was super sore in all new areas.  This excited me.  I love the feeling of pushing my body and this proved that I had.  This experience solidified that I need to get out of my routine more and switch things up.  I am adding that to my 2018 intentions.  I want to work on being less of a creature of habit and try new things.  Not only in fitness but other areas of my life as well!  Anyone else want to join?

E3 Live Blue Majjik

Something I was seeing on IG that really caught my eye were these ocean blue smoothie bowls.  I was so intrigued and drawn to the pretty color I had to find out what was making it.  What I discovered was Blue Majik, blue spirulina powder.  Blue Majik is a nutrient dense aquabotanical.  The blue pigment contains phycocyanin (PC), a pigment protein complex that is an accessory pigment to chlorophyll.  What does all this mean?  It means it has tons of health benefits and isn’t just used as a tactic to make your smoothie bowl picture look even better.

Some of the known benefits of blue majik are it acts as a natural pain reliever for cramps, muscle soreness and joint pain, supports healthy inflammation response after exercise, supports healthy joints and fights free radicals.  All of these benefits sounded great so I ordered myself the E3Live Blue Majik powder.  They also offer a 100% money back guarantee on their products so I felt good about spending the money on it.

Once it arrived I was excited to try it out and added it to my morning smoothie.  I got a little too excited and didn’t look at the suggested serving and added WAY too much.  The color was amazing but the taste not so much.  I felt like I was drinking a smoothie I had made with pond water.  When I added the correct serving size to my smoothie the next day, I could barely taste it at all. 

Besides the look and the taste, the most important thing is, did I actually notice any benefits?  Well I can’t see into my body on a cellular level so I am not sure if I was fighting off free radicals, but I can speak to the benefits that I did notice.  The week after I started adding this powder to my daily smoothie I got my period.  Sorry if this is TMI but I usually get pretty bad cramps.  Amazingly, this time around I did not.  I still got them, but they weren’t nearly as bad as usual.  This is enough of a benefit for me to continue to use Blue Majik and I do, every morning in my smoothie (I even brought it to NJ with me for the holidays). 

I am not sure if it was the Blue Majik, the foam rolling or my body just getting used to my workouts but I have noticed my muscles being less sore.  I would be confident in saying part of this is because of adding this beautiful blue powder to my life. 

If you want to add some great health boosting powder to your life and add a brilliant color to your smoothies, order some Blue Majjik :) 

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Liquid IV

With all of my travels, I love having super accessible health products that I can bring on the plane with me.  Since you are pretty limited with what you can buy in the airport, it is important to me to have products I know and trust.  Something I always travel with is Liquid IV.  Liquid IV is a hydration multiplier.  It is an electrolyte drink mix that uses cellular transport to bring hydration to your bloodstream quicker and more efficiently than just plain water alone.  Liquid IV is Non-GMO, vegan, dairy free, made in the US, gluten free, soy free and independently tested.

The reason I love it so much for traveling is because I always feel so dehydrated on airplanes since the air is extremely dry.  It is like I can’t consume enough liquids to keep me feeling hydrated and my skin feels very dry and flaky.  When I use one pack of Liquid IV in a water bottle I feel great. I also find that my jet lag is not as bad when I use Liquid IV.

The science nerd in me needed to know more about the cellular transport technology so I did some research on the Liquid IV website and this is what I found.  CTT uses a ratio of glucose, sodium and potassium to deliver water and other nutrients right to your bloodstream which hydrates you faster than water alone.  The ratio creates an osmotic force that allows water to be absorbed in the upper digestive tract, preventing water and nutrients from being lost along the entire digestive system. 

I don’t know about you but I absolutely love the science behind this stuff!  There are tons of people out there that are dehydrated and don’t even know it.  Small signs of dehydration can be headaches, muscle cramping, brain fog and dizziness.  Something I see a lot is people drinking from large jugs or counting their water bottles to make sure they are getting enough throughout the day.  Adding a pack of Liquid IV to your water bottle is way easier than carrying around a growler of water. 

Some other great benefits of being properly hydrated are increased exercise performance, increased mental clarity, and reduced signs of aging.  These benefits are enough to keep me wanting to consume bottles of Liquid IV.  My favorite flavor is lemon lime.

If you have travel coming up or just feel like you could be a little better hydrated, I would suggest getting your hands on Liquid IV.  You can order online with free shipping in the US or find it at stores like Whole Foods, Rite Aid and CVS. One other amazing benefit of using Liquid IV is that every order placed they donate a serving of Liquid IV to someone in need.  They are on a mission to defeat dehydration globally.  Happy hydrating!