June 12, 2016

My Favorite Healthy Go To Recipes

I'm always looking for people's tried and true, go-to recipes because sometimes I feel like I've been cooking too much of the same meals. So here's a list for you of some of my go-to healthy recipes. I've done a post like this in the past, so some of these may be repeated.

1. SkinnyTaste Zucchini Lasagna

  • High protein (30-36 g per serving depending on your serving size. She lists hers as 8 servings, I list mine as 10)
  • BOMB leftover
  • Husband and kid friendly (I made this for my 5 year old niece and she loved it)
  • No pasta/refined carbs
  • A great way to get in veggies (tomatoes, onion, garlic, and zucchini)
  • Semi time-consuming and a little messy. That being said, I'm a slow and a messy cook so it might just be me. But if it is, don't tell me. 
  • DO NOT use skim/low fat anything. ever. Gina from SkinnyTaste is my all time favorite recipe blogger, however she still hasn't jumped on the "We actually can eat healthy fats" train. I substitute her "low fat/skim" instructions with regular full fat dairy. If you haven't jumped on the fat train either, you better read up, son. "When you see the words 'low fat' or 'fat free' think of the words 'chemical crap storm.'" Just quoting here, people. 

2. Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps

  • High protein
  • Quick and easy
  • Great as a leftover

  • May not be as popular with kiddos since it has an Asian flavor. In which case I would tell your 3-year-old to stop being so racist. 
  • A little messy to eat (aka not a good first date food, aka who cooks asian lettuce wraps for a first date? aka "aka" doesn't even work the second or third time I used it in this paragraph but it just flowed.)
  • Hoisin sauce (found in the Asian foods aisle) is high in sugar
  • Cut out the rice for a lower carb meal (I typically do this and the flavor is still great)
  • Look for a hoisin without corn syrup
  • Add chopped up peanuts for a delicious crunch
  • Don't eat on the first date
3. Mediterranean Chicken Kebabs

  • High protein (obviously. it's chicken)
  • Quick and easy recipe, minus having to put those suckers on the skewers in which case I would hire a neighborhood child to do the work. jk don't do that. 
  • So good that you'll want to make them ALL THE TIME
  • Your husband will get sick of them because you make them ALL THE TIME
  • Tips: Double or triple the marinade and freeze it for later use
  • Don't leave out the onion because it's delicious
  • This recipe says you can use milk or greek yogurt but I've only tried it with greek yogurt. 

4. Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Soup

  • Slower cooker=very little work and dishes
  • The coconut flavor is life
  • It also has peanut butter, which is more life than coconut
  • Contains vegetables including onion, peas, cilantro, and bell pepper
  • Contains ginger which has an impressive list of health benefits including aiding in digestion, reducing inflammation, and helps with nausea (including morning sickness) and a lot of common sicknesses. I also want to note that the first time I used ginger, I didn't know what it looked like so I had to google it. This is legitimately what popped up. And yes, I did screenshot and save this picture from years ago because that's hilarious.
  • Another asian flavored dish so it's not loved by everyone
  • Use homemade coconut milk (super quick and easy and delicious!) to avoid preservatives, sweeteners, and BPA. If you're not into that sort of thing, then check the ingredients to make sure there's no added sugar and try to avoid one with any preservatives (ideally the ingredients section should only list coconut milk).
  • Use brown instead of white rice
5. Asian Peanut Noodles with Chicken

  • This recipe sort of makes me want to cry it's so good. Seriously. It's SO good.
  • Hidden veggies disguised as noodles and covered in peanut sauce for the picky one
  • Not a super quick meal unless you prep some things ahead of time (I would make the chicken marinade and the sauce the night before to really speed it up)
  • Contains rice noodles which have a high glycemic index and wouldn't be my first choice, but you win some you lose some
  • Don't skip the peanuts. So good
  • This recipe calls for "better'n peanut butter" but I just use my regular old Smart Balance Peanut Butter (or any other PB you use. No hydrogenated oils though!!)
  • I do only use about half the amount of noodles the recipe calls for
  • Make sure you cook the broccoli slaw and carrots so that they're tender. 
  • Try not to eat it all in one sitting because it's that good. 

6. Breakfast Burrito Bowl with Spiced Butternut Squash

  • Quick and easy morning meal with healthy carbs, healthy fats, and protein
  • Such a good and unique flavor to change up your breakfast
  • Litereally zero. 
  • Make the butternut squash ahead of time (the night before) so that all you have to do is heat it up, cook the egg, and add the toppings
  • Add 2 eggs for more protein and healthy fats, or 1 egg and some egg whites
  • Costco sells precut and prepackaged organic butternut squash which makes this recipe even easier
7. Chicken Tikka Masala

  • Quick and easy recipe
  • Contains different flavors than your typical dinner
  • Naan is delicious but I've actually never made it. Let me know if you try it!
  • It's 10:15 PM and I'm running out energy so can we skip this since I can't think of anything?
  • Make the marinade ahead of time, make extra, and freeze it for later use
  • Add extra coconut milk to the top after it's done. So good
  • This is on the spicier side so if you don't like spicy foods then go sit at the kids table. Just kidding but don't try this one if you're not a spicy food person.

That's all I've got tonight. Almost half of these recipes are from the blog SkinnyTaste which is one of my favorites and a great go-to. ( Just remember to sub out the fat free/low fat for full fat in her recipes).


January 31, 2016

Common Food Misconceptions

One of my goals this year, and in my every day life, is to always be expanding my talents. So for that reason I've been watching a lot of The Bachelor episodes because I think that is a talent that I really have to offer this world.

Just kidding.
If you don't watch the bachelor a) You're missing out b) You are wondering what this chick is doing with her mouth (actually we all wonder that). c) You have not come to know the craziness of one Olivia Caridi, the bachelor villain disguised as a pretty and normal news anchor in episode 1, later to be revealed as the mean crazy chick. There's always gotta be one. 

Anyway. I want to continue to write and be better about doing it regularly. So even though blogs are a thing of 2011 and Instagram is life, I'm back at it kids. I would also like to say that the way I type while blogging has significantly changed since the popularity of emojis in every day text has skyrocketed. It's hard for me to type a sentence without wanting to insert a face, or maybe a dancing person, or maybe even a taco. Currently I want to insert the "I'm kind of scared or in trouble face"… you know, the one with the teeth showing. Yeah I know you know what I'm talking about you little emoji addict.

And with that little intro, here it is.

Obviously you know that health and fitness are a major part of my life. It has been and continues to be a journey. I used to always admire those who lived a healthy and active lifestyle but I never thought that I could be that person. I pretty much thought those people were a special breed of people who were born in a field of kale, and unfortunately I was just born in a regular old hospital. But I've realized that "We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day" (one of my favorite quotes by Richard G. Scott.)

I made this just for you because this quote is THAT GOOD.

I didn't wake up one day and all of a sudden I was the way I am. I continue to learn new things, make changes in my life, and over time those things become a part of my lifestyle. Consistency becomes character.

So I wanted to write about some of the misconceptions about food, health, and fitness that are common but that over time I have learned are false. Some of these I learned fairly quickly, but others it took me a few years to learn or find out so consider this your shortcut to being born in a field of kale. For today's post I'm just going to focus on common food misconceptions and I'll follow up with a post about fitness misconceptions in a later post.

Misconception #1. Eating fats makes you fat.

Why it's wrong: For a long time the FDA (US Food & Drug Administration) told us that fats were the contributors to obesity, diabetes, and many other diseases. Because of that, people turned away from fats and turned towards high amounts of refined carb, processed foods and sugar.  In addition, companies began making low or non fat products that were filled with chemicals to replace the fat that they were getting rid of. Long story short- the FDA was wrong in pointing fingers at fats.

As soon as I started doing research on this and realized that I too was guilty of a fat fear, I began to add fats back into my diet and that was seriously life changing. I have always struggled with low energy that would hit me at random times of the day. Once I started incorporating fats back into my diet, I had so much more energy that lasted all day. In addition, my body leaned out big time (in combination with adding more protein- see #2). Fats keep you fuller for longer, keep your blood sugars stable, contribute greatly to brain function, and so many other great things.

Keep in mind that there are good quality and bad quality fats. Trans fats (found in a lot of baked goods and fast food) are bad. Hydrogenated oils are bad (one of the biggest culprits is peanut butter! So many PBs contain hydrogenated oils, but many don't.  Look at the ingredients. My favorite is the Smart Balance Natural Peanut Butter.) Some examples of good fats are those found in nuts, seeds, avocados, eggs, butter, and even grass fed beef. Did someone say hamburgers? *hamburer emoji, heart eyes emoji*

Initially it's hard to train yourself to see these foods as good because for so long we have been told to avoid them. But over time you will be ok with shoving 3 tablespoons of peanut butter in your face. I don't mind it one bit.

For more information on fats, here is a good article.

Misconception #2. Getting too much protein will make you bulky or gain weight.

Why it's wrong: This one goes hand in hand with the fats portion of this post. Protein and fats lead to satiety, or in everyday terms- they make you feel full and satisfied. This leads to not eating 4 bowls of cereal because 1 bowl leaves you feeling hangry. Don't be a protein skeptic!

When I first started CrossFit I knew I probably needed some sort of protein supplement. I remember researching what proteins or how much will or will not make me bulky or make me gain weight. This is not even an issue. We as women don't have the testosterone to make ourselves bulky simply by drinking protein shakes. In fact, most women get significantly less protein than their bodies need. But again thanks to the trusty FDA, we have been fooled for a long time.

I can't tell you exactly how much protein you need because that varies from person to person. Many fitness sources will tell you that 0.5-1.0 grams per pound of body weight is a good range. However that is quite a big and vague range. That would put someone that weighs 130 pound at either having 65 grams of protein or double that- 130 grams of protein. Those are two very different numbers. So I'll tell you what has worked for me and that is 1 to 1.1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. That's a lot of protein and it's a daily struggle to reach that number, but it has worked miracles in toning my body.

Do yourself a big favor and for 3 days track what you eat and then calculate how many grams of protein you are getting. You're most likely going to be surprised at just how little you get! Protein will help you in your fitness journey. I promise! It was absolutely the biggest game changer for me.

And because I get questions about this a lot, I use Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein from either bodybuilding.com or allstarhealth.com. There are 7,312 flavors. at least. You can also buy it from Costco for a great deal, but like anything at Costco it's massive. and they also only carry 1 or 2 flavors (vanilla or chocolate.)

I drink my protein after a workout, for breakfast if I am in a rush, or sometimes throughout the day if I just need to add in some extra protein. Always pair any protein with a source of carbs and a source of fat! For example a scoop of protein mixed with water (or milk), a half a banana, and some peanut butter obvi. I rarely eat a meal or even a snack that doesn't have a good balance of proteins, carbs, and fats (see #4)

Other good go-to sources of protein for me on a daily basis:
Chicken or any kind of meat (cooked in various ways depending on my mood. aka my level of laziness)
Deli meat
Babybel cheese
Premier protein chocolate shakes (such an easy 30 grams of protein. Can also be found at Costco.)
Cottage cheese (I currently can't eat it for health reasons but it's a great source if you're able to eat dairy)

Misconception #3. Counting (and limiting) calories is the best way to lose weight.
Why it's wrong: In my opinion, there are 2 main reasons why counting calories is not the best way to get into shape:

1. 1200 calories a day is neither healthy nor sustainable. This is a typical calorie range for a lot of people who decide they want to lose weight. The ultimate goal is to make your healthy living a lifestyle, not a diet. Restricting your calories results in yo-yo dieting. You lose the weight because you're most likely cutting your calories significantly, but then you're hungry all the time and you get burnt out, so you go back to your regular diet and gain the weight back. This is yo-you dieting and this isn't what we want.

2. Not all calories are created equal. A 1/2 cup of almonds has 260 calories while a twinkie has 270 calories. So technically on this calorie train, I could eat about 5 twinkies a day and stay in my 1200 calorie goal range and be healthy right?

This is why it's important to not get hung up on calories. Much more beneficial, healthy, and sustainable than counting calories is counting your macronutrients.

I'll give you a quick rundown of what this means if you don't already know. The 3 macronutrients your body needs through your diet are proteins, fats, and carbs. There are multiple online calculators that can tell you approximately how much of each of these 3 macros you need per day. This will vary on your height/weight, your level of activity, and your goals (are you trying to lose weight, gain muscle, etc).

For example my current macro goals are 30% Protein, 35% Fats and 35% Carbs. What this means is that on a daily basis, 30% of my food intake should be protein, 35% should be fats, and 35% should be carbs. I input what I eat in the app called MyFitnessPal (it's free!) which then shows me where I'm at in relation to my goal percentages. The goal is to meet those percentage goals at the end of each day. Here is a great resource to show you how to set up with MyFitnessPal. It also has links to a few different macro calculators.

When you first dive into calculating your macros it can be intimidating. But check out the link I gave above (and the additional links she provides as well) and you'll begin to understand it more. I promise that this is so much more beneficial than counting calories! Your macro needs may change over time and this is where listening to your body comes in. Everyone's needs are different. Everyone's body responds differently to food. There's no one size fits all for macros so find your percentages, stick to them for a few weeks, and see how you feel.

Misconception #4. The things you read online are the the bible truths of fitness.

Why it's wrong: The reason we have certain misconceptions about the way we eat is because we listen to what other people tell us about our body more than we listen to our own bodies. As I said before, fitness and health are not a one size fits all approach. It depends on your body, your metabolism, your goals, your genetics- there are so many factors involved! You may find on one website that you should never ever ever eat egg yolks, and then find on another website the exact opposite opinion. The fact of the matter is that there are so many factors involved in the human body and so many factors involved in research. Just because one study came to a certain result and it happened to be published in the media does not necessarily make it true. In fact oftentimes when the results have been the same for the past 40 studies, and then one researcher finds a different result the media goes crazy and publishes the new results as complete truth. It may be, but it may not be. This is where listening to your own body and evaluating different studies for yourself comes in.

I hope you guys found this info somewhat helpful. I love helping people who are lost in the world of health because I've been there (and I'm still learning every day). It can be overwhelming. There's so much conflicting information and sometimes you just don't know where to even start. Start where you are, do what you can (Pretty sure that's another general conference quote. Are you allowed to use those when talking about diet? I hope so. *scared emoji face. again.*) If you have any questions let me know!


November 8, 2015

Faith, Doubt, and the 2 Wolves.

*This post was written in July but I never published it. I don't know if I ever really intended to or if I just wrote these things down as a way to journal for myself. However today I felt really impressed to finish and share it.

2015 was the roughest beginning to any year of my life. Clint and I were moving away from Texas and the friendships and life that we had built there. Finding a new place to live, getting school figured out, and everything else that comes with moving of course didn't' make it easier. When we were in Salt Lake City for Christmas right before the move, I got in a pretty awful sledding accident (I should make up a cooler story, but that's legitimately what happened) and believe it or not it left me basically immobile for quite some time.

So yes. I knew coming into 2015 that we were off to a rough start. 

And then my faith was tested even more.

During this time (especially the first couple of months) I couldn't feel the presence of the spirit in my life. Maybe it was because I was too busy wallowing in self pity, or letting my fear of the future replace my faith. But whatever it was I felt completely abandoned. I pleaded for Heavenly Father's help. I cried for it, and begged for strength and to feel his presence. When I didn't feel immediate reassurance or comfort, I began to doubt.

I can honestly say that this is the first time in my life that I ever had a struggle with my faith and I was absolutely torn. I began to question everything that I thought I had known for my entire life. Not only did I start to question my religion, but for a brief moment I began to think that the existence of a God seemed kind of far fetched. And it breaks my heart to even read these words. I felt anger towards myself, and anger towards Heavenly Father. I felt guilt thinking that maybe I had done something wrong that God was punishing me for. I felt sadness and I felt completely alone. 

At some point I realized that I had 2 choices. I could either back out of everything that I knew. I could deny every spiritual experience I had ever had and allow these feelings of doubt to take over my life and my beliefs. Or I could push forward with the little bit of faith that I was clinging to.

I decided to try out the latter. Each day I would just strive to put one foot in front of the other, doing the small things like reading my scriptures, trying to praying sincerely, and going to church. As the months have passed, things have become a little bit easier and I began to feel more and more of the loving and reassuring feelings that I was longing for. I knew that my doubts were unwarranted and that I had allowed bad feelings to build upon each other and fester but I still didn't feel spiritually reassured 100% and the doubt still lingered. 

But today as I attended a baptism, the Spirit spoke to me so strongly that I had made it through this trial and that I had been strengthened by it. The story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son came to mind. Heavenly Father knew that Abraham would do anything that was asked of him, so why would He put Abraham through such an emotionally challenging test? President Hugh B. Brown answered this questions by saying "Perhaps Abraham needed to learn something about Abraham."

This year, Heavenly Father needed me to learn something about me. He needed me to show my faith even when I felt I had absolutely nothing to show. He needed me to know that in times of trial and testing, I couldn't retreat and allow negative feelings to take over. I needed to square up my shoulders and hold to whatever I could. He needed me to "doubt (my) doubt before I doubted my faith".

There's a Cherokee story of 2 wolves. An elderly Cherokee man tells his grandson that there is a battle between 2 wolves that goes on inside us all. One wolf is evil, anger, sorrow, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, false pride, and ego. The other is good, joy, peace, love, hope, humility, truth, compassion and faith. The grandson asks "Which one wins?" The old Cherokee man replied "The one that you feed."

When you come upon doubts or trials ask yourself which wolf you are feeding- the wolf of faith or the wolf of doubt?  Are you surrounding yourself with others who are feeding the same wolf you want to feed?

Borrowing the words from this blog:

"The Wolf of Doubt quickly turns to anger, indignation, public acrimony and discussion. He takes offense, and is quick to share it.  He searches for allies and information to validate his views. He turns to sources that are not enlightened, are not sanctioned by God. He will look to support his doubt…
And he will find it. There are many who are more than happy to feed the Wolf of Doubt.
The Wolf of Faith is quick to restrain his reaction. He turns to sources he knows are endorsed by God. He is not afraid to drop to his knees and seek truth from God through the Spirit before he makes up his mind – and especially before he speaks out. He will look to find that which will support his faith…"
If you're at a point where you have the choice to give up your faith or push forward in faith, I hope that something I have said helps you. Don't turn to people who are feeding the wrong wolf, turn to your Heavenly Father. Lean on what you do know. Lean on the little things which at the end of the day are actually the big things. Lean on the knowledge that when you are going through something hard and you don't know where God is, the teacher is always quiet during the test. 

August 18, 2014

how to make health and fitness a habit.

I think everyone knows what it's like to have a hard time getting and staying motivated to work out. We've all been through those phases where you're pumped to get eating healthy and exercising every day.

This motivation typically occurs during 1 of 3 events:
a) You just watched the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show
b) Summer/a vacation/a big social event is coming up
c) You just ate a whole plate of cookies and then you remembered you had a plan to get abs.
this chick only ate 7. Sometimes I don't even remember until cookie 57.

After dealing with that on and off again relationship with health and fitness, I am happy to say that habit has changed over the past 2 years. The gym has become my favorite time of the day and what I look forward to the most. I can tell you it definitely didn't start out that way though. There's a quote that says "Motivation is what gets you started, habit is what keeps you going." I think for most people, the initial motivation isn't necessarily the hard part, but turning it into a habit sure as heck is. So here are a few things that have both motivated me, and helped me turn my health and fitness into a daily habit:

1) Start a motivation board or collage. If you have one already, change it up. I like to have mine on my fridge so that I remember my goals in the hardest place to stay strong- the kitchen. (hi, I love food).

Here are some of the things I have on my motivation board:

  • The quote "Garbage In, Garbage Out." This is a reminder that what I put in my body will effect my performance at the gym, my mood, and my energy.
  • Pictures of Crossfit women that I admire. Notice that I didn't say bikini models. There's a big difference between having a photoshopped picture of a 6'1" bikini model on your fridge and someone who is a real athlete with a real body. (Also I was joking about the VS fashion show- I don't watch that nonsense for that reason.)
  • My 2014 New Year's Resolutions with very specific goals listed. For example, I listed specific weights of certain lifts I wanted to reach and movements I wanted to master. The beauty in that is that as you do each one, you get the satisfaction of writing in a check mark next to your goals as you complete them (use a red pen, it feels more legit). So it was really cool that I got to check off my 8 pack one bullet point at a time.              That was a joke. But I did a lot of spaces because I wanted you to think for a second that I was serious. 
  • And lastly on my motivation board I have pictures of athletic competitions and races I have done to remind me of what I've accomplished.
2) Following these rules: "Never miss a Monday, never miss 3 days in a row, workout at least 4 times a week." For me, never missing a Monday is a big one because I feel like it sets the tone for the entire week.
3) Remembering that the journey is the reward.

4) When I really just am not feeling it that day, I force myself to go change into my workout clothes. Doing this gets me out the door 999 out of 1,000 times. The other 1 time it leads me to a nap, but I'll take my chances.

5)  A good reminder: a one hour workout is only 4% of your day. (At least that's what a quote I once saw on Pinterest told me. Still haven't actually sat down and calculated that to verify.)

6) If you dread working out, then you need to do find a different form of exercise, a different place to exercise, a new workout routine/video, whatever! Just try something else until you figure out what you enjoy. Working out should be an escape from work, school, and home life and should an hour that you look forward to every day. If that's not the case for you, try something different!

7) Go with friends. Find yourself some swole mates, son. Not only does it make working out more enjoyable but you also have someone to be accountable to.

Also, I feel the need to make it known that I don't use the term swole mates seriously and if I did, I hope you would feel the need to punch me in the face.

8) If you don't like to waste money, this is a good one for you. There's a phone app called "Pact." How it works is you form a pact with a group of people who also have the app. You put in how many times a week you pledge to go to the gym, and the amount you're willing to wager. Whenever you go to the gym, you check in there (it verifies that location is a gym using GPS). If you don't go, then you lose your money for that day. If you do go, and someone else in your pact doesn't, you all split that money. The amount of money can be small or large, but I say go all out to keep you motivated!

9) It all starts with your attitude first thing in the morning. Wake up to a positive message on your alarm, listen to good music, have a nutritional breakfast, and put a motivational quote as the background on your phone. Or maybe even Ryan Gosling if that's your thing. Lay out all of your gym clothes so that you wake up and see them there, and have it in your mind that a killer workout is on the agenda for the day.
10) I'm just going to throw this out there and I think you should try it. Run to slow music. It's my absolute favorite thing to do. My  mind just wanders and before I know it, I've run so far I'm in Mexico and then I can't get back in the US because I don't have any identification.

This is actually a legitimate fear I have when driving so I thought I would be a little dramatic with how far I run. If you want to try this slow music goodness, try the "sleep" station on pandora or stations like John Mayer or Ed Sheeran. You can thank me later. Well I mean, if you don't end up stranded in Mexico with no ID.

11) If you stare at and criticize your body every single day expecting changes, it's going to be a long, long journey. Eat healthy and train hard, and the body will take care of itself.

*But do (!!) take progress pictures every once in a while! This is something I try to do regularly now, but I didn't do when I first started and I wish so badly I would have.

11) This thought is obvious, but sometimes it gets me to the gym: Do I ever regret missing a day of working out? always. Do I ever regret getting up and doing the workout? never ever. (the same can go for eating healthy. I never regret when I do, almost always regret when I don't).

12) If you get off track with your food that day, don't just say "I'll start back up tomorrow." Start with the very next thing you decide to eat (or not to eat).
But with that being said- allow yourself some good food, man. All things in moderation.

13) And if all else fails, go buy new workout clothes. The day new workout clothes don't get me motivated is the day that I am truly a lost cause. Am I right or am I right?

xo Natasha

August 14, 2014

Best Of Beauty.

I love reading the "best of" section in a magazine or reading about people's favorite products so I thought I would share some of mine. Here's my Best of Beauty list:

1. Foundation: Bare Minerals. I've been using Bare Minerals for about 5 years now. What I love about it is that it's a powder, but gives you the dewy look of a cream foundation. I love that I can get more or less coverage depending on how my skin is looking, and mostly I love that it doesn't feel heavy.

If you haven't tried Bare Minerals, go to Ulta or Sephora and have them do a little makeover. One container lasts me at least 6 months. You'll be a life long Bare Mineralite like me.

2. Blush: Urban Decay in "Quickie." I bought this blush because it was on sale on Haute Look and I was out of the blush I was previously using. It's a good thing I did, because I absolutely love it. The picture isn't fooling you- the blush looks super bright pink. I was hesitant when I got it, but with it being so bright, you hardly have to apply any at all to get a natural glowing pink look. With the Maybelline "Dream Bouncy" blush I had been using prior to this, I had to keep layering and layering until I got a dark enough look.  I've had this Urban Decay blush for well over a year and the two of us are still going strong. I hear that this stuff is going to be discontinued, so grab some while you can!

*Just a side note that I'm a huge fan of blush, and especially creamy blushes (verses powders). I feel like slightly pink cheeks give you a fresh look, and the cream gives you a dewy glow.

I used to be the drug store beauty product girl, and for a lot of makeup products I still am. This mascara is expensive ($23) BUT it lasts for a long time and I found that I don't have to layer it over and over to get the volumized look that I like. Something that helps me determine if a makeup/beauty product is worth the price is thinking about how long the product lasts me (for this mascara, it's usually about 4 months) and then dividing the cost by that number. The final number you get gives you the cost per month, which for me would be $5.75/month for this mascara. Worth it!

4. Face Lotion: Clinque Dramatically Different Moisturizer. I have normal skin and this moisturizer is the perfect fit to keep my face moisturized but not too oily feeling. I haven't found any other moisturizer that keeps my face feeling moisturized and fresh all day.

5. Body Lotion: EO for Everyone in Coconut and Lemon. I happened to be at Whole Foods when they were giving out samples and having a sale. I instantly fell in love with it. I love the smell, I love that I recognize all of the ingredients in it, and I love the way it makes my skin feel. I just went back to Whole Foods and bought another bottle and it was on sale again for $7.99 for a 32 oz bottle.

I'm one of those people that knows useless information about beauty products and ingredients because I google and research all of that nonsense. So let me enlighten you with my useless knowledge by saying that the second ingredient is vegetable glycerin which is a great product for moisturizing, anti-aging, and my favorite- brightening.

6. Product for Dried Lips: Bag Balm.

I have a thing against any and all regular chapstick (Burt's Bees, Chapstick brand, Carmex, all of it). My theory is that regular chapstick dries out your lips so that you are forced to keep applying it. When you apply it, your lips feel better, but you're really not getting to the root of the problem, you're just putting a "band aid" on the lips. I personally believe this is a government conspiracy. Just kidding. But cue the amazing Bag Balm. My go to. My lifesaver. And it's super cheap. 

Bag Balm was originally made for cow udders. True story. But it is now used for a variety of things including Tosh's once dry lips that are now very rarely dry. It's sold at drug and grocery stores with the skin care items. And also at farm and feed stores, so that's funny and cool. It comes in a huge tin (although I have seen adorable little tins to carry in your purse). I just put mine in an old eye cream jar that I cleaned out. And that little jar and I just travel the world together. 

7. DIY Hair Build Up Remover and Face Toner: Apple cider vinegar

I use a mixture of half distilled water and half apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle to cleanse my hair of all the build up. I do this about once a week. Just spray all over in wet hair before washing, and then let it soak for a couple of minutes, then wash like usual. I also use this mixture as a toner for my face about twice a week. If your face tends to be dry, do more water than ACV or play around with the mixture until it's right for you!

*But guys read this! Apple Cider Vinegar is a catch all miracle product for so many things. However, normal apple cider vinegar typically doesn't work magic like apple cider vinegar "with the mother" does. Seriously- that's what it's called "Apple Cider Vinegar with the Mother." I bought mine at a local grocery store in Texas called HEB. But I have seen it at Wal Mart and at Whole Foods. What's the difference between regular ACV and ACV with the mother? ACV with the mother is organic, raw, and unfiltered- in other words it still has all the good and beneficial "stuff" in it which is why it appears cloudy in the bottle. Read more about ACV with the mother here

8. Vitamin E Oil as a makeup remover, wrinkle preventer, and eyelash grower. Seriously! I originally bought this just to remove my makeup but then I noticed my eyelashes growing. After looking up more uses, I found that it also works well to prevent wrinkles. I bought a little bottle of it in the vitamin section in the pharmacy, but if you can't find a bottle you can buy the capsules and break them open. But don't snort them. Or you can.

The wide variety of benefits of both the Vitamin E Oil as well as the ACV has really got me looking more into natural/home beauty products and remedies. I'm not a hippie, but I definitely like how one natural product can have such a wide range of benefits and I think nature just knows what it's doing. So can I get a holla for nature?!

Tell me this doesn't sound like all your wildest dreams come true: a dry shampoo replacement, eyelash enhancer, and mineral veil using the same (super inexpensive) grocery story food product? I'm talking about my new beauty bff corn starch, and I'll have a post about that coming up, as well as another  in the "Best Of" series.


May 29, 2014

A Response to "Why I don't do Crossfit."

There was an article going around social media this week entitled "Why I don't do Crossfit."

It bothered me, obviously.
Because as you probably know by now I'm a pretty avid crossfit lover.

The author, Erin Simmons, actually gives some potentially valid reasons for why she doesn't do crossfit. They're the reasons I've heard a thousand times before- you'll get hurt, trainers aren't well qualified, crossfitters don't know when to stop...

Like I said, I completely agree that some of these could potentially be valid arguments, but these could be potential arguments for any form of fitness. I guarantee there are many coaches and personal trainers out there who have no idea what they're teaching and if you let your ego get in the way in any physical activity you probably won't stop which can result in an injury.

But instead of arguing with Miss Simmons (who includes in her author bio that she is getting her PhD in fisheries- did you know that's a thing?), I'm going to tell you all the reasons why I do crossfit:

I do Crossfit because I used to be a wimp.
I could probably end right there if I wanted to. Seriously. I had literally never touched a free weight in my life. My hotspot in the gym was the cinema room where I could get two things done at once: watch "Legally Blonde" and run for an hour. I would have never ever considered myself to be an athlete nor did I ever think I would be one. Crossfit has turned me into an athlete. It has taught me to deadlift, squat, clean, snatch, run, pistol, hand stand push up and all of those other wonderfully awesome things. And when I say Crossfit has taught me all of this- I of course mean my amazing, well trained coaches who continue to get certifications and training so that they can teach me in the best and safest way possible. 

I do Crossfit because my body can.
After crossfitting for about a year and a half, it is an understatement to say that I am amazed at what my body can do. Before I go on, I'm not saying any of this to brag about myself, I'm just telling you what Crossfit has done for me that no other form of exercise has done for me. I look at the weights I was lifting even 3 months ago and am in awe of what I have accomplished, and what the human body in general can accomplish. I like knowing that in a lot of workouts, I can hang right along with the guys. I like knowing that because of the training I've put in at Crossfit, I can pick up and run 8 miles when it's been months since my last long distance run. And mostly I like knowing that if I were to be in the Hunger Games, I could maybe hang with Katniss for a bit since I wouldn't be the first person out.  The quote "Most people have no idea how good there body is designed to feel" is so incredibly true. Before Crossfit, I had no idea how good my body was designed to feel, but now that I have a glimpse of that I'm going to keep pushing because I can.
I do Crossfit because it challenges me.
One of the arguments that the author makes in her article is that the Crossfit workouts are too "high intensity." Your mom's too high intensity  

Crossfit is not the first high intensity that has ever been done, people. Your body really can handle it, and you'll be amazed at how far you can push yourself. Erin points out people pushing themselves that hard shouldn't be done. Do you know what I think shouldn't be done? Going weeks, months, or even years without working out. Not wanting to walk into the weight room because you're intimidated. Making excuses. Not bettering yourself and the God-given body that you have. Taking your health for granted. That's what I think shouldn't be done. So if Crossfit or any other form of exercise is going to get someone out of that rut that is so easy to fall into, then who are you to say that it's a "wrong way" of improving their health and life? 

And just a side note- Crossfit style workouts are very common for military personnel and law enforcement agencies. If these high intensity workouts are good enough for them, they're better than good enough for me.

I do Crossfit because it has taught me to embrace my body.
This quote is kind of cheesy but it really is so true to how I feel. When I started Crossfit, it was all about the goals I had for what I wanted my body to look like. Now instead of thinking on a daily basis about my body image, I think more about what I can to better improve my body for it's strength and health, and not necessarily it's image. I eat foods not because they'll help me maintain my weight, I eat them because they'll fuel my body to help me perform better at the gym. Having a mindset like this has been much healthier for me mentally. Your body wasn't given to you simply to be attractive to others. Your body was given to you to be and do. Crossfit has completely changed the way I look at and treat my body. 

"Regardless of what you look like, or what you think you look like, you can feel good about yourself because you are not your appearance. Your body is an instrument you can use for good, not an object to be admired. Believing this is life-changing. Our culture teaches us to constantly picture ourselves from an onlooker's perspective and to gauge our worth based on what we and others think about our looks. This hurts us. This limits our ability to fully experience life and contribute good to a world that needs us – not just a pretty vision of us – but ALL of us. When we learn to recognize the ways a fixation on looks gets in the way of us doing anything more important, we can consciously push back. Want to have positive body image? Experience your body as an instrument instead of an object by using it! Swim, dance, run! Your body is an amazing instrument for your benefit, and not a burden in need of judging and fixing. THAT is Beauty Redefined."  
(This quote comes from one of my favorite organizations "Beauty Redefined.")

I remember I was talking to my trainer Mandi and one of our friends from the gym about bodies and body types. My friend was saying how she was jealous of her sister because she was stick thin, yet she never worked out. Mandi asked her "Yeah, but what can she do?" That was over a year ago and that question really changed my way of thinking. My body is for doing.

And if you're still one of those girls that is convinced that lifting will make you huge (don't worry I used to be one too), you're wrong.

I do Crossfit because I have the best group of friends that do it right along with me.
The term "Crossfit Family" is pretty cheesy but if you know me, I love cheesy and I love people so I'm all about it. I recently told someone that when there are days that I don't have the motivation to go to the gym, the thing that gets me there is that I want to see my friends. So I go, and then I workout, and then I talk a lot. My life story.

There's nothing like the encouragement, friendship and camaraderie you'll find in a Crossfit gym, and Clint and I have met some of our very closest friends because of it.
and working out with this guy isn't too shabby. 

I do Crossfit because I don't care that you don't like it.
I can honestly say Crossfit is one of the greatest things I have ever done for myself, and I think most Crossfitters would say the same thing. We like getting stronger, we like the daily improvement, we like the friendly competition, we like the occasional pain, and we like talking about Crossfit nonstop. Get over it. (I would have said that nicer if I could have. but seriously.)

I don't go writing an entire article bashing other forms of fitness because bettering yourself is bettering yourself- however you choose to do it; running, yoga, at home workout videos, or even bicep curls in the mirror at Gold's Gym for a solid 45 minutes. That's your health and I don't have any place to say you're doing it wrong and neither does anyone else.

So with that, I'm off to Crossfit. Peace out haters.


May 11, 2014

then and now: real life grown up friendships.

A few months into living in Texas, I wrote this post about real life grown up friendships. 

If you haven't read it, just do.
If you have, maybe you want to read it again to remind yourself of my desperation.

To sum the post up, I wrote about how I didn't know the rules of grown up friendships, if/when hugs, sharing clothes, and slumber parties were appropriate, and other concerns about how finding grown up bffs is a lot harder than at age 6 when you would bond over the fact that you had matching pigtails. 

I specifically remember the series of events that made me post about this dilemma. I had met a group of 3 girls at the gym and they were best friends.

This could have turned out "Mean Girls" style but it didn't. so read on.

They were all around my age, had similar interests, and I just knew they were golden. I legitimately remember calling my mom and telling her that I had some potential friendships on the horizon.

Shoutout to my creepiness.

Anyway. That friendship post from over 2 and a half years ago came about as I thought about how I wanted to be friends with these 3 girls. I wasn't quite sure how to go about forming this grown up friendship. I didn't want to intrude on their little group, but at the same time  actually who am I kidding? I totally wanted to. Especially when Gabby came dressed up as Oscar Meyer Bologna to our Halloween workout. That really sealed the deal right there, so thanks Blu. [I also want to take this time to publicly declare that the spelling of bologna freaks me out. As if bologna wasn't creepy enough by itself already.]
Then one day, all my wildest dreams came true when they asked me to hang out. I don't even remember what we did, but I can tell you that I met parts of my heart that day. They're my Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in real life. Actually we're kind of opposite. Life lead us all to each other in this little town, instead of life leading us in opposite directions. We also don't share any pants.

Rebecca our little Philadelphia beach lover is about living in and appreciating that moment in life and I just adore her for better teaching that to me. She's our adventurous soul with killer arms. Jill has the biggest and sweetest heart in the world and loves everyone. She's our little independent French gypsy who is from Maine and doesn't have family here, but stays because she's grown to love and embrace it. Gabby is constantly making us laugh (obvi. Have you seen someone deadlifting in a bologna costume?) and is our tour guide of Texas to show us all the greatest things about this place. Not to mention her amazing parents have adopted us since we are all orphans to Texas with families far away.

It's no coincidence that I've met these beautiful souls. Rebecca and I were talking the other day about how she had prayed that she would find people like us while she was here, and I had done the exact same thing time and time again. It's crazy to think that we are all from different parts of the country, but life lead us here.
Gabby posted this picture a couple of months back. This is us in 2012, 2013, and then 2014. I didn't even realize the top picture existed, or that we stood next to each other for the picture. It's funny to think about what our friendship has become since then. 

There's just something to be said about friendships, and finding the right people wherever you go; about  allowing yourself to open up and find people who love like you do, who share similar values despite growing up in different states, cultures and religions. There's something to be said about bologna costumes, rollerblading, horseback riding and trying new places and things with the very best of people. I've said it before, but there really is such a thing as soulmate friends. ♥