Balancing Act

Question: Do you feel that you’re doing everything “right” but still feel run down, bloated, experience flares, and that you are still getting sick?

This one I get A LOT. My answer: All the time. In a perfect world, I would love to be able to completely manage my stress, rid myself of my anxiety attacks, sleep the same number of hours each night, and know what foods worked exactly for my body ALL the time, but I am human and I don’t. I don’t have it balanced ALL of the time, and you should understand and realize, not everyone else does either. HOWEVER, I do have it together more times than I don't, considering how far I have come- where I am today and where I was before- there is a major difference. I juggle my to do lists as well as my commitments every single day to the best of my ability and at the end of the day be as satisfied with it as I can as well as stay positive about what I have accomplished; relinquishing what I can not control. That is key. 

There are a few things that I like to do each week, throughout the day, and before bed that helps make the weeks more successful than others and that also puts my mind at ease.

    1.    Meal prepping. I set aside a few hours one day each week to meal prep. I don’t necessarily prepare a set lunch or dinner Monday through Thursday, wrap it up and label it, but rather prepare different types of sauces, cook a few protein sources, roast vegetables, constantly use a variety of spices, and make different flavored energy bites for the week. I may prepare breakfast by cutting up fruit and veggies to freeze for smoothies and place them in individualized bags so they are ready to go. This way, I can easily throw things together simply and without much thought for each meal. By preparing different spreads (pestos, salad dressings, etc), roasting a variety of veggies, making a few snacks, and making your own nut milks, becoming bored with your meals is less likely to be an issue; you’ll have plenty of options for whatever you are in the mood for in that moment and it gives your stomach a variety, which is so key! Do you know that you can actually become intolerant to certain foods if you eat them over and over again?! It has actually happen to me; I overate carrots, peanut butter, and currently zucchini and my body needs a major break. I would eat the same foods, for all three meals, every single day and never introduce new types of things to my body. My stomach/gut does best when I do not eat the same foods every single day. I also don't look at the clock when I eat my meals, meaning, I don't eat around the clock times. I eat when I am hungry. I don't eat a snack at 3 PM, just because it is 3 PM and we are told to do so.  Some days I eat breakfast at 10 and then lunch at 12 and dinner at 7 other days it might look entirely different. Just get out of that habit and tune into what your body needs and when it needs fuel. 

With meal prepping you can work up until the minute you are hungry and do not have to waste hours each day, prepping food, cleaning, thinking about what you want to eat, or wasting time going somewhere to get food.

  1. Here are my go to's that I typically plan/prepare/buy each week:
    1. Normally I roast a variety of vegetables each week:
      1. Sweet potatoes (fries, wedges, whole: spices: cinnamon, sea salt)
      2. Cauliflower (spices: curry, sea salt, pepper or plain)
      3. Broccoli (spices: sea salt, pepper, nutritional yeast)
      4. Fennel (spices: sea salt, pepper)
      5. Brussels sprouts (spices: sea salt, pepper, a tbsp of mustard, nutritional yeast)
        1. spices I love for the vegetables (cinnamon, sea salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, curry, cumin, rosemary, thyme, lemons - nothing fancy!) 
    2. On hand, I will have:
      1. spinach (fresh and frozen for smoothies)
      2. Kale (massaged with olive oil or an entire avocado)
      3. Romaine lettuce 
      4. pre cooked beets 
      5. sprouts or micro greens (for salads or sandwiches)
      6. tomatoes 
      7. avocados 
    3. Proteins:
      1. Organic chicken (grill, bake, poach, different seasonings each time)
      2. Organic turkey meat (nitrate free)
      3. Wild caught salmon (recipes throughout my blog)
      4. Veggie burgers 
      5. Nuts/Seeds (almonds, cashews, walnuts, pine nuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, ground flaxseeds)
      6. Nut butters: almond butter or cashew butter 
    4. Nut Milks
      1. Homemade almond milk or my recipe here; homemade cashew milk
      2. Nectar & Green Homemade Almond Milk (Boston Local)
      3. Pop & Bottle almond milk  (balancewithb code) 
      4. If you buy, look for minimal ingredients and the fewest gums, unsweetened. 
    5. Oils: Coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil 
    6. "Superfoods" (currently what I am using): maca powder, cacao powder, chlorella, coconut vinegar (similar to apple cider vinegar), bee pollen. This is a very very limited list and I use others, but these are the ones that I use every single day. In part II, you need to heal your body, you can read the others that I generally take weekly.  
    7. Snack-age: 
      1. Granola: Paleo Passion Foods Grainless granola (balance15 code)
      2. Chocolate chip banana oat cookies
      3. I tend to make all of my own energy bites, under "snacks" there are at least 7-10! 
      4. homemade almond flour crackers + hummus (sans chickpeas)
      5. Sprouted crackers & sprouted nuts (easier to digest)
      6. Eating Evolved Chocolates (blairfmt code)
    8. Breads/Oats
      1. Sprouted (always)
      2. Tortilla (Siete family foods) 
      3. Oats, gluten free & sprouted 
    9. Fruits: (always stick to serving size and limit to a few times a week, for ME, due to sugar) 
      1. Berries (blueberries)
      2. Bananas (limit to half if using in smoothies)
      3. Pineapple 
      4. Oranges 
      5. Lemons (all day with water)
    10. Spreads, Sauces, Salad Dressings
      1.  Pesto
        1. There are also a few other pesto recipes, on my blog. 
      2. Tahini 
      3. Dijon Mustard 
      4. DYI: Dairy free caesar dressing: recipe 
      5. Avocado Hummus dip: recipe

Once you have things such as the above prepared, putting together your meals becomes a lot easier! For example, in a bowl, you can throw in some chicken, chopped romaine, almond flour crackers, tomatoes, pesto, extra veggies, with a tahini dressing or wrap everything up in a wrap! Another example, if you love having smoothies in the morning but are pressed for time, add your veggies and fruit in a prepackaged bag in the freezer and on the counter leave out your add ins (chia seeds, nut butters) so in the morning all you have to do is throw everything in, press start and pour! A few hours on a Monday or Sunday saves you so much time during the week, especially if you do not work from home. I work from home and I still meal prep every week! If I don't, I find myself either not eating or picking at things all day long and then feeling sick by the end of the day, having low energy, and trouble sleeping/focusing on work! The majority of the foods that I love to make each week are throughout my blog and what I post every day on my feed! 

Once meal prepping is complete and out of the way, throughout the week there are other things that I also do to put my mind at ease. 

1. Before bed, I like to try to tentatively plan out the next day of things that I would like to accomplish (workouts, emails, projects, scheduled breaks etc). Writing out my to do list for the next day gets rid of the thoughts in my head, so I am not constantly thinking about it while I am trying to fall asleep. In the morning, I like to stick to the routine that I have set up, but obviously allow for wiggle room. I schedule in breaks and workouts during the day, because if I don't then I burn out fast. I also try and focus on one thing at a time. I used to try and multitask, where I would check emails, work on a project, eat, cook food, check Instagram, and text with my friends all at once. Things would get done, but it would take longer. Now, if I am writing a blog post, testing a recipe or checking emails, I have everything else shut off or put out of sight until that is complete. I swear it takes half as long- I am way more efficient this way. Put your phone on do not disturb, silent your text messages, and turn off your social media notifications. 

2. I try and plan for work outs in the morning or during that mid afternoon “slump.” This way, I am waking up, working out, getting my body energized, moving, clearing my head and ready to take on the day feeling super refreshed. For the afternoon workouts, it is usually when I am crashing, mentally so this gives me a chance to walk away from my work and get out of my apartment. If you work in an office, it would be the best time to go take a quick walk outside or around the office. I tend to sit ALL day, which isn’t great for our health in general but for your digestive health as well. You need to move your body to get things and keep things moving! My days are also different every single day, I don’t have the typical 9-5 type of job. Some days I am working until 10 PM and others I end early but may have started at 6 AM. On long days and busy weeks, I prioritize my workouts and sleep, because it helps me both mentally and physically. If there are days that I absolutely can not leave my apartment or I am swamped with work, then I try to at least get outside and walk for 30 minutes or make a conscious effort to walk or workout first thing the next morning. It isn't something to over-stress about, but mentally and physically it helps with my digestion, sleep, my focus, mood, and my productivity levels. If you work the typical 9-5 you are more limited, but working out before a long day of work will allow you to feel refreshed and ready to go. Yes, you will have to wake up extra early, but you won't regret it later in the day. Just think about how good you feel both mentally and physically, when it is over. When I used to work in an office, on days that I wanted to work out I would always bring my yoga clothes with me and head straight to the studio from work so I wouldn't have the chance to sit on the couch and think about not going. It was always the best way to calm down after work. Whenever I have calls or phone meetings, I will take them outside and walk and talk. So many ways to find chances to move your body throughout the week that do not always require going to the gym. If I couldn't go and since I live in the city, I always walked to and from work!

3. Self care:
1. Epsom salt baths: I take these baths about 3-4 times a week, sometimes every single night, right before dinner. They are amAZING. Extremely relaxing and I could honestly sit in one all night. Benefits range from: boosting magnesium levels in your body, reducing stress, relaxes your muscles/mind, the sulfates in the salt can help flush out toxins, help with constipation (!!!), reduce inflammation (!!!) and so much more! If anything, make this a daily habit.

2. Face masks, scrubs, body serums: My go to product is Franklin & Whitman (balancewitb code for 20% off). I also love the OSEA products as well. I use these every single day to take care of my skin, keep it hydrated, and protect it. I tend to do a face mask as well as the steam about 3x a week as well. It keeps my skin feeling super refreshed, clear, even toned and honestly just puts you in a better mood! 

3. Yoga, mediation, walking: I consider this self care too! I practice daily and you should find something that you love and stick with it! If it makes you happy, elevates your mood, then make it a priority in your life. Whether it is reading, spinning, swimming, baking or something else. 

4. BE SOCIAL: I am adding this here. Say yes more often to your friends and family. It is good for the soul and your mental state. It makes you appreciate yourself more, life, the people in your life, and totally builds confidence and gives you character.  Once I started working on my own, I knew that I would be spending more time alone and in my apartment. I make it a priority that each week I meet friend(s) 1-2 nights per week and go out at least once on the weekends. This could be meeting for a workout class, attending an event together, dinners, going for walks, or anything! It sounds ridiculous to schedule it time with your friends, but if you don't do it, chances are you actually won't meet them and continue to cancel. 

5. Clean space: For me, a clean working space, apartment, bedroom, kitchen, you name it, is everything. I can not start my day without making my bed. I also am the type to wash the dishes and put them away as I am meal prepping, recipe testing, or just cooking in general. I think that when things are cluttered it has this negative energy.  Every time you walk by a messy space you just get annoyed and it throws off your mood. It always feels good when you have everything organized and cleaned it, giving you the space you need to work, breathe and get things done! 

6. RELAX/ REST: If your body is telling you to rest and relax, please do it. If you are dreading a workout and if a workout you just finished isn't making you feel energized and giving you more life, you are tired and might just need a break. Take a day off, take two days off, give your body exactly what it needs. It is honestly the best thing you can do for it. I know personally speaking, that if I over do it with working out, working in general, staying up late too many nights, my body becomes completely inflamed, I can't sleep, and I can guarantee you that I will have anxiety attacks every single night that will wake me up. When I find that sweet spot, of balancing everything, everything else seems to be in harmony as well. Be kind to your body, it is the only one you have! Don't feel guilty about it, the next day you will feel stronger, more focused, less irritable, well rested, better, and ready to take on the day. 

These are a few of the things that help eliminate daily stress that happens every single day. By now you all know that my gut issues, that I suffer from anxiety attacks daily as well as migraines, and have trouble sleeping. However, when I meal prep, take care of myself by making my health a priority; with the above ideas mentioned I notice that I can have less sleepless nights, my anxiety is under control, I am more focused and I feel less inflamed and overall less stressed out! There is then more room to go with the flow and more room for being flexible for whatever the day throws at you. That is exactly how I like to live my life, just go with the flow, but always being prepared for the bumps in the road. 

Hopefully this post, inspires you to make your own health a priority. Even you have never meal prepped before, start small! Start with breakfast, or always bringing your lunch to work, or making one new snack each week. Once you start somewhere, it will become so routine and part of your life it will become simple and you will actually grow to love it! I am not saying that all of this is easy, but it does make life more simple.