Talking About Skin; updates

For the last few months my skin seemed to take a turn; it went from being completely clear (with just hormonal breakouts) to feeling completely dull, breaking out in certain areas (mainly my left check, forehead, and chin), loosing its natural glow, and constantly felt red and inflamed. At first, I thought it was just the winter months, colder days we have been experiencing this spring and almost felt that it was normal for my skin to feel this way. It wasn’t until about a month ago I was constantly seeing red spots on my face (dry areas or any last lingering blemishes that wouldn’t go away as well as an increase of broken blood vessels (capillaries)) and noticed that I looked wiped out - for lack of better words, just not as healthy; despite eating a pretty clean diet and working out regularly. Frustrating! 

 my go to juice: extra kale, extra spinach, wheatgrass, bee pollen, cayenne, pineapple, cucumber, mint.

my go to juice: extra kale, extra spinach, wheatgrass, bee pollen, cayenne, pineapple, cucumber, mint.

I knew that I hadn’t been the best about washing my face, wiping away the make up I had been wearing after a long day, not allowing my skin to breathe, and consuming too many things that were causing inflammation in my body that I just refused to believe were the culprits. (daily take out for dinner/lunch, pipping hot coffees, and alcohol to name a few) 

Everyone always says that your skin health always starts within; from your gut, so I knew personally that there was something wrong in the way that I was consuming things but also in the way that I was simply taking care of my skin. 

Here, I just want to share a few things that I have put the breaks on, my routine, the supplements that I take daily for skin health, and a few products that I use (less is more).  This is what I have found has worked for me and maybe some of these will work for your skin as well - I have tried a lot and love the ones that I am going to share and all of the supplements that I use do not irritate my already sensitive gut- which is a huge plus for me! 

  1. Face Mapping http://www.cocokind.com/face-mapping/

This is probably one of my favorite things! By understanding where you are breaking out, where your face is dry, inflamed, or uneven you can find the root of the problem. For me, I tend to break out around my chin, forehead and often times my left check. SO, your forehead is related to your digestive system, the left check is all about your absorption of nutrients (liver too!), and the chin; imbalanced hormones (usually during the time of the month for me). You can read about the other areas, but clicking the link! Once I figured out why I might be breaking out in those certain areas continuously I started to look into my diet, my beauty routine, sleeping habits, the products I was or wasn’t using, and how I worked out - I was able to pinpoint what I needed to do! For example, whenever I eat sugary foods, foods loaded with oils and consume alcohol I always break out around my forehead  as well as my left check - so I know that my digestive system isn’t agreeing with the foods that I am putting in my body. 

A few things that I have noticed that help with clearing of my skin is what I am actually putting in my body or what I need to consume more of to get that glow back:

1. WATER! This is a no brainer; and I felt as if I was consuming enough water throughout the day, but during this time I was also dehydrating my body with a large amount of caffeine (coffee) and I was also having an alcoholic drink regularly! My coffee habits ranged from a hot latte in the morning as well as in the afternoon AND I got into a habit of making a drink/wine daily while cooking dinner, having it with my meal or if I was out to dinner. Coffee and alcohol do not necessarily affect my digestion, but they were both affecting the way my skin was feeling and looking. I am definitely not saying that you need to stop both immediately as some people aren’t affected by either, but maybe it is a good idea to pay attention to how your skin feels after a night of drinking or consuming too much coffee, especially hot coffee - for me I am immediately red (broken blood vessels), have a dull appearance, puffy in the face; especially underneath my eyes, and my skin is completely dry (dull). Ironically, I notice that I do better with an iced coffee or anything that isn't extremely hot as it causes my face to turn red/inflamed.

Also; coffee and alcohol were stressing out my liver (forehead / check breakouts, dryness = sign of problem with liver) and unable to remove toxins, clogging my pores and leading to breakouts. Also, I am low key obsessed with lattes which tend to have more sugar than usual so that wasn’t doing my skin any good as well. 

OK, so you are probably thinking how can you survive without your coffee each day? I started to turn to Matcha or simply having a smoothie / green juice first thing in the morning which actually energized me causing me to either cut out caffeine all together that day or reducing it to a half before I was able to cut it out and not be completely dependent on it. Giving my skin a break from coffee as well as cutting back on alcohol has been super positive for me skin. 

Other things I might replace my morning coffee with besides Matcha are:

  1. Turmeric Lattes
  2. Apple Cider Vinegar, Water, 1 lemon, and 1 scoop of either Hum Nutrition Gingersnap Infusion OR WelleCo Super Elixir (more on these later)
  3. Cacao Almond “Latte” (simply 1-2 tbsp cacao powder, nut milk of choice, cinnamon, dash of turmeric, & sweetener of choice) 
  4. A green juice (filled with more veggies than fruits; I mainly stick to ones that are filled with cucumber, kale, spinach, wheatgrass, parsley, etc and if I want it a bit sweet I love bee pollen or pineapple) 
  5. Or simply, working out first thing in the morning - it energizes me throughout the day! 
  6. My go to Blueberry smoothie (Share below)

So I mentioned two major things that I have been avoiding regularly, coffee & alcohol because I already stay away from dairy (allergy) and tend to monitor my gluten consumption. I do not have an intolerance/ allergy to gluten, but I know that if I consume too many bread products my digestive system acts up, causing me to break out.

Other things that I watch are the oils that I am cooking with; I stick with olive oil but know that when I eat out a lot, order take out, or cook with too much oil my face tends to break out slightly and almost immediately. I also do better with seeds/oats vs. nuts as it seems to stress my digestive system. BUT, these aren’t things that I give up, but tend to watch a bit more by not consuming them as much. So, trying not to entire spoonfuls of peanut butter every single day. 

To replace those consider:

  1. Making your own seed/nut milk from time to time
  2. Eat sprouted breads as they are easier to digest 
  3. Add seeds like pumpkin seeds (full of zinc) or hemp seeds (Omega 3s) on top of salads, smoothies, oats, chia puddings or yogurt bowls.  
  4. For me, it isn’t so much as to what I am limiting in my diet or staying away from, but focusing on foods that make me feel good, make my skin glow, and give me energy! I am all about focusing on skin foods:
    1. Avocados, olive oil
    2. Wild salmon, oysters
    3. Collagen (either powder form, bone broth, or organic meat products if you eat them) 
    4. Oatmeal, pumpkin/sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, ground flaxseeds or chia seeds, walnuts, brazil nuts
    5. Dark leafy greens (broccoli, brussels, kale, spinach) 
    6. Cucumbers, pineapples, blueberries (and to think that I was scared of the fruit sugar, yet it is completely helping my skin and gut!), lemons, limes
    7. Turmeric, ginger, sage, thyme, pepper, cacao powder
    8. Reducing sugar and salt intake
    9. Exercise; focusing on ones that reduce stress in body (yoga)  but also if I am taking a hot power yoga class (heated) or any other type of workout that normally causes my face to become red or flushed - I am now being more proactive to drink sips of water during even if I do not feel the need too - this will help stop the continuation of repeated broken blood vessels. 
    10. Eating more cooling foods (cucumbers, zucchini, broccoli, fennel, mint, avocado, watermelon, beets) 
 wild salmon (turmeric, sea salt, pepper, olive oil, ginger, lemon) with zucchini noodles, roasted broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower in sea salt, curry, turmeric, ginger, olive oil) and broccoli sprouts.

wild salmon (turmeric, sea salt, pepper, olive oil, ginger, lemon) with zucchini noodles, roasted broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower in sea salt, curry, turmeric, ginger, olive oil) and broccoli sprouts.

I now focus on foods that are going to be beneficial for my skin. For example:

My go to blueberry smoothie: 
1 cup (or more) almond milk (nut milk/seed milk of choice)
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 frozen banana
Large handful of spinach + kale
1-2 tbsp. cacao powder
1 tbsp. ground flaxseed or hemp seeds
cinnamon
extra add ins: ginger, maca powder, walnuts or cacao nibs, ice. 

My typical lunches are usually filled with cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale) cooked in pink sea salt, turmeric, ginger, pepper and paired with wild salmon or organic chicken. 

Massaged kale salad with my dairy free caesar salad dressing, sprinkled with hemp seeds/pumpkin seeds, walnuts, raw cucumber, half avocado + protein of choice. 

Zucchini noodles with my sunflower seed pad thai sauce, broccoli sprouts and protein of choice 

Blueberry Smoothie! or my Lavender Blueberry Smoothie with Collagen. 

SUPPLEMENTS: 

Over the last few months I have started to incorporate a few supplements into my diet that focus on skin health and have really noticed an improvement. I wrote a whole blog post on the supplements that I take, but here is the list again / updated! 

The ones that I have been taking:

  1. HUM Nutrition:
    1. Red Carpet
    2. Daily Cleanse (for help with removing toxins from liver)
    3. OMG! Omega The Great 
    4. Gingersnap Infusion in my daily waters and Mint Chocolate Chip Infusion for smoothies, homemade bites, mixed into chia puddings, oatmeals, really just about anything! 
  2. WelleCo Super Elixir 
    1. I mix 1 scoop in my water, with lemon and apple cider vinegar
  3. Probiotic (Either Silver Fern or Gut Instinct from HUM)

I understand that we can get enough of what we need probably from the foods we are consuming, but I felt that my skin needed extra help and often times I don’t feel as if I am consuming enough of one thing or another. For example, I was following a plant based diet; my body was lacking protein and consuming too much sugar (in the form of fruits, vegetables, and nut milks), once I began to consume fish and more protein I noticed my skin improved tremendously.

My Skin Care Routine:

I used to use 100 different products and even though they were all organic, plant based, non toxic - I think that my skin was reacting negatively to all of the different ingredients in each product. Just in the last few weeks I started to use 1-3 different products (one brand for lotion, face cleansing, exfoliating - a second for make up, and third for treating blemishes) 

My skin tends to be on the dryer side, redder, and I suffer from broken capillaries. This is because my skin is thin, also stems from genetics, and if I take heated workout classes or ingest in something that will cause this (too much caffeine, spicy foods, long exposure to sun or even long hot showers!). I realized this on my own and knew, but also learned the type of skin I have, what it is prone too, and why from when I received a facial a few months ago. 

To be honest, in the morning I simply wash my face with cold/warm water (first thing). Then apply lotion, a face mist. 

At night or post working out is when I use a cleanser, face spray, serums/lotions, a face balm  (my face is extra dry) and often use an exfoliator; but only 2x a week gently since my skin again is thin and dry. 

Mistakes I was making:

  1. Exfoliating too much 
  2. Mix Matching skin products (cleansers from one, serums from other, but using them at the same time)
  3. I also found that my skin was too sensitive for products (especially toners) that have apple cider vinegar - instead of helping clear up any blemishes or red marks it would make it worse.
  4. I now place my eye cream, eye masks in the fridge; as a cooling affect on the face as it will be more beneficial and keeping the skim calm. 
  5. Find a lotion // skin butter (face balm) that worked for my skin and was actually being absorbed instead of just on the surface. 
  6. Not staying hydrated.
  7. Keeping make up on either overnight or during workouts 
  8. Not allowing my skin to breathe and wearing foundation everyday. Sticking to mascara + lip balm for daily. 
  9. Taking extremely hot showers; causing my face to be completely red and inflamed 
  10. Masking too often and then scrubbing my face vigorously thinking the harder that I scrubbed the mask off the cleaner my face would be. 

I will share with you the products that I am currently using that has so far helped my skin; which is also sensitive! 

The two brands that I currently use and seems to be agreeing with my skin positively is: 

  1. Gressa Purifying Cleanser or their Balancing Cleanser. 
  2. Gressa Skin; Purifying Oil (see how I use this below in Make up)
  3. Province Apothecary ‘Clear Skin Advanced Spot Treatment’
  4. Maria Akerberg: 100% organic Swedish Skin brand 
    1. Olive Cleanser
    2. Flower Refresher (spray)
    3. Eye Cream More
    4. Face Balm More
    5. Papaya Peeling (gentle exfoliator)

Routine: 

Mornings warm water. Face spray, lotion, eye cream.  

Post working out: Cleanser immediately, face spray, lotion 

Nighttime: cleanser, face spray, lotion, butter, eye cream

 Exfoliate 2x a week. 

A few things to quickly mention that might be causing breakouts:

  1. Constantly touching your face
  2. Dirty make up brushes 
  3. Ingredients in your make up or skin products
  4. Not washing your face immediately after you workout 
  5. Not allowing your skin to simply breath and be make up free!
  6. Dirty pillows, dirty towels from workout places (I found that I break out more when I use the ones they offer) 
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Once I started to pay more attention foods that are beneficial for your skin and began to incorporate them more into my diet; I noticed that within a few weeks (about a month) my skin was more even toned, less red, and had more of that natural dewy look. Simply by just focusing on skin foods AND making the less common mistakes I was doing before; like not washing my face immediately after working out, touching my face constantly after using weights at the gym, using moisturizers that were extremely greasy, and totally irritating my face with super harsh scrubs. Also, I noticed that I wasn't craving coffee in the mornings, didn't feel the need to have a drink in the evenings, and was switching up my diet so much (adding in a little fruit, more leafy greens, smoothies, eating more food at home vs. out, cooling foods) that my gut health became better as well! 

Of course the change doesn't happen overnight, but I feel that my skin is getting back its natural glow finally just by being more aware, using less and simpler products, and understanding how certain foods make me feel and look! 

It all seems to simple and obvious, but it took awhile for me to realize what I needed to do to and sometimes it helps when it is written out for you! 

Wrap up w/ The Financial Gym; goals & more!

I can’t believe that my follow up post is already here and the first one that I had written was in August! You can read my first blog post here. I don’t know where the time has gone, but it seems just yesterday that I was sitting down and meeting my Financial Trainer, Joy from the Financial Gym to help better prepare me for my future, help me set goals, balance and manage my finances, and just make everything related to finances seem and feel less intimidating. It is actually coming at the perfect time, this post, as we end 2017 and begin a new year just in a matter of weeks. It allows me to reflect on the last year since leaving my full time job in April and starting my own business, seeing how far I have come and what I hope to see in the next year and the years to come. 

Just a quick re-cap, if you are unfamiliar, for the last few months (since August) I have been fortunate enough to work with amazing women from the The Financial Gym and was paired with one of their financial trainers, Joy, to work with one on one who offered me different tools, resources, and her full support to make sure I was always staying on track once she went over my full financial profile. All of our calls were through Skype and lasted anywhere from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours! My financial trainer acted as a mentor and accountability partner, holding me accountable along the way to help me accomplish the goals that I had set forth for myself. We dove deep into my finances, liabilities, my budget, spending habits, retirement plans, personal goals for the future; and everything else in between related to finances. You can read all about my first few meetings here and more about The Financial Gym in general, as well as the entire process!

Blair at Verde and Farma (38 of 64).jpg

Some of my biggest take away since working with Joy have been:

1.     Becoming more mindful of my spending habits

2.     Establishing concrete goals in terms of financing, budgeting, & saving in real time as well as for the future

3.     Becoming more confident in my finances and taking charge! 

4.     Feeling less intimidated about finances in general & having more knowledge of how things work

 

I will admit that my own father is a CPA as well as a financial advisor so previously and to this day, I receive much of my financial advice from him. I am fortunate enough to have someone in my family whom I can trust to handle my money, help me with budgeting, and everything in between. However, working with Joy has allowed me to take more of an initiative with my money and become more involved. Previously, I would just assume and know that everything was being taken care of such as my taxes, money set aside for retirement, and it was simple to be able to speak to my dad about how to handle my money or what I needed to earn each month in order to pay for certain things, save, budget, or just plan for the future; but it was little more hands off on my end. 

With Joy, I was able to set more concrete goals, understand how everything works, take action, become more confident in my own work, and realize certain habits that I was making in terms of spending. She was able to draw conclusions as to how I was spending my money & ways in which I could save, hold me accountable along the way, and check in with me whenever I saw fit which in turn made me more aware of my habits. Joy, also would lay everything out for me through the use of spreadsheets, allowing everything to sink in once again in a very clear, simple way. It was beneficial for me to have someone I didn’t know personally, watching over my habits because it actually made me more aware of what I was doing. Every time I would use my credit card, hit a new goal, missed a goal, or put aside money, I felt proud or felt that I could do better next time. It was almost as if I didn’t want to disappoint Joy and the hard work that she was putting in and I wanted to keep up on my end as well! Our relationship was 50/50 and I needed to also put in the work and the effort just as she was for me! Therefore, it was refreshing working with her and not someone personally as I mentioned before. I held myself more accountable for my actions. 

 

Some of the goals that I established while working with Joy: 

1.     Set aside money to re-do my blog. 

1.     I want to be able to save enough money in order to work with someone on re-designing my blog. I hope that by Jan 1 I have established this goal. I want to be able to have someone in place by the new year and then begin to initiate the goal once the year starts. 

2.     Cut back on spending in certain areas:

1.     Grocery bills

1.     Notice my spending habits, how can I save, how am I wasting food/product, what ways am I overspending each week 

2.     Misc. spending: Little things that tend to add up that you are unaware of such as: eating out, uber, coffee, where you are buying certain household products or items that you could either buy in bulk or cheaper at different places in order to save money. 

3.     Credit cards:

1.     Increase my credit card limit 

2.     Take advantage of more opportunities that are available: example: points / rewards 

4.     Set aside a percentage of money each month or every time I am paid

5.     Goals set for work

1.     Increase the number of events I host for 2018

2.     Blog re-design (mentioned above) 

3.     Establish longer term contract with companies that I work with 

4.     Increase my rate 

5.     Teach more yoga classes 

6.     Become better at handling administrative tasks

1.     Example: I can always reach/hit long term/big goals, but often struggle at meeting smaller deadlines that take up less time because I am looking at the bigger picture. 

1.     One way to overcome this; I’ve decided to set aside 1-2 hours one day every 2 weeks in order to take care of things such as: paying bills, checking in on missed invoices, follow up emails, organizing my calendar, etc.

 

These are just a few of the goals that we had established while working together over the last few months. It has been an extremely positive experience and eye opening especially in my spending habits and little areas that I can save money, which will help in the long run. It might seem like not much now, but a little bit here and there adds up in the long run! Working for myself it is increasingly important that I am aware of this because there is less stability versus have a stable / steady income. However, after spending time with Joy I feel more confident in the direction that my finances are moving and even my work. Just in the last few months I have been able to increase my projects with the companies that I work with, my income, and have completely adjusted my spending habits. It isn’t always perfect, but I am 100% more mindful. 

In terms of the goals that I have set and if I have reached them or the current status; I believe that they are a work in progress. Every day, week, month should be a goal to cut back on spending money and looking for ways to save, but you also have to adjust at certain times due to holidays, financial expenses (bills), and even times spent with friends! I am however, happy to say that I have cut back on spending in areas such as my grocery bills, uber expenses, and even coffee by walking more, making coffee at home, and organizing a grocery list before going to the store so I am better prepared! I have also been able to increase my pay with companies that I work with and establish longer term contracts as well as teach yoga at a second location. For events, last year (2017) I hosted around 5 but this year I wanted to increase that number and so far, I have scheduled 2 with another one in the works. I am still in the process of working on finding the right person to help me re-design my blog as that will be a big financial expense for me and a big decision that I will need to make! It is something that I want to spend time on making sure I do right since it is a huge part of my brand. For the last two weeks, I am proud to say that I have been more organized with smaller tasks and bigger projects at hand. I have been able to focus on one thing at a time and then set aside certain hours to check emails, pay bills, and take care of any miscellaneous tasks. I’ve noticed that I have been able to complete projects before deadlines, stress less, and take on more. I am happy with where I am right now with the goals that I have set and know that I have to work towards a few more, but feel satisfied with the work that I have completed thus far and continue to do!

I believe that it is extremely important to take charge of your finances now in order to better prepare yourself for your future and it shouldn’t be something that feels intimidating. Even if you do not have a 5 year plan or have set long term goals in place, you can still have a sense of how everything works: budgeting, understanding your assets, liabilities, retirement options, credit card options, how much money you are spending for health insurance, rent and how much you are bringing in each month. By working with Joy closely I was able to grasp these terms and then that allowed me to establish better goals for my future; where I see myself with my own career, how much I want to be making, what I need to do in order to save for a family or even purchase a home or a new car, even if a few of these things aren’t in my immediate future. 

My next meeting with Joy will take place after the new year in January and hopefully I will have a few of the set goals above met! I feel that if I wasn’t speaking with Joy or having her watch over my finances, many of these goals wouldn’t have been met or I wouldn’t be as mindful about my spending habits. This isn’t because I lack motivation, it is quite the opposite, it is just that I get caught up in my day to day routine or only look at the month ahead. I often forget to set time aside to take care of things that I personally want to do in order to build my brand because of the day to day tasks or projects that I am working on. With Joy, I was able to establish a few long term goals, set deadlines, and be held accountable for my actions, instead of brushing them off or being afraid to achieve them. Speaking with her also made me excited for the new and the direction that my brand will be going. I have things in mind that I want to take care of and I am excited to implement them! 

Hopefully after reading this and my first post, you too will feel less intimated about taking initiative with your finances and actually feel more confident about handling everything! The women at The Financial Gym certainly make it easier and extremely comfortable to talk to them openly and they have been a great resource! 

It is such a great start! If you want to try it out, they have been so generous to offer a 50% discount code by just simply saying “balance with b” off your first month of service if you get started in September! You can also sign up for a free 15 min consult call here to learn more about the service and get all your questions asked and answered before making a decision to use them or not.

Supplement Routine

I was never rigid about adding any type of supplements into my routine and normally if I did it would last about a solid week and then I would forget one day which would eventually turn into me forgetting for a month and then it would slowly turn into a year. However, I started to pay more attention to how I was feeling after incorporating the supplements into my diet just this past year; for example, how my gut health was slowly improving over time, how my energy levels increased, my complexion became brighter, I was less anxious and so forth. From that, I made more of an effort to stick to this routine as best as I can even though it can be a pain to pop about 10 pills each morning, it is worth it... 

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Here is a look into my routine:
*First, I'll do the best I can to update this with anything new! 
*Second, I am not a doctor and these have either been recommended by my own doctors after consultations or by trial and error from me to see if they have worked for me body, so I would suggest that you talk to your doctor first! 

MORNING ROUTINE

1. Probiotics (Silver Fern) Read my blog post here about it. 
2. Spirulina Capsules (2-4) each morning; Vital Proteins. 
*Detoxes body, energizing, brighter complexion
3. Daily Cleanse, 2 capsules. HUM Nutrition
*Cleanses liver, removes toxins, wastes, keeps me regular
4. Moody Bird, 1 capsule, HUM Nutrition
*Take 2x everyday and alleviates period symptoms. Reduces bloating, cramps, headaches, clears skin.
5. Flatter Me (Digestive Enzyme, with food), HUM Nutrition) 
*Helps me digest, break down, and absorb food/nutrients
6. L-Glutamine Powder; Pure Encapsulations. Read my blog post here
7. SeroPlus; Pure Encapsulations. 2 capsules
*Helps with stress, relaxation, regulates serotonin levels. Similar to a B12 vitamin. I am deficient in.
8. G.I. Fortify, Pure Encapsulations. Read here
*Helps keep you regular, gut health.  

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When I am feeling; sick, run down, inflamed, hurt (pain: exercise, headaches) 

1. Tart Cherry, VitalFit Nutrition: reduces inflammation and oxidative stress; in place of Advil, natural/zero side affects, plant based. Doesn't bother my stomach, no bloating, no cramping, reduces pain quickly, safe to take daily. 2 capsules as needed. 
2. Turmeric capsules
3. Manuka Honey, 1 spoonful 2x (not really a "supplement"), antibacterial
4. Organic Manuka Honey Drops with Ginger & Echinacea
5. Ginger Capsules
6. Vitamin C
7. My Morning Routine pills

NIGHT ROUTINE

1. Magnesium (2 capsules) before bed. 
* I am deficient in this, also helps regulate my migraines, sleep, and control my IBS symptoms. 
2. SeroPlus; Pure Encapsulations. 2 capsules. 

TRAVEL ROUTINE 

1. All of the above, especially if I am sick. The important thing for me is to make sure I keep my gut healthy. 
 

A Day in the Life; Typical Routine!

Full disclosure: I’ve never been a huge fan of “What I Eat in a Day” blog posts or others sharing their typical routine of when they workout, how many days they workout each week, the times that they eat and the meals that they consume. I’ll explain why and then my hopes as to what you get out of this post. 

I receive these questions a lot: 

  1. What foods do I eat?
  2. What does my typical breakfast look like? 
  3. What supplements do I take to help with digestion, clear skin or anxiety? 
  4. What foods I tend to avoid because of leaky gut / SIBO / IBS / Anxiety / Migraines? 
  5. How often do I workout? / What are my typical workouts? 
  6. Do I snack?
  7. How many meals do I eat in a day? 

The list goes on and on, but this isn’t a bad problem to have and I welcome the questions! I feel that you are all curious for good reasons because I’ve been through a great deal with my digestion, being in and out of the hospital, having to take so much medication and am very open about my past anxiety attacks, the lack of sleep I used to suffer from, and the constant migraines I would get. You’re interested because you are going through the same issues and you can see how I’ve overcome the majority of them through food, working out, a few lifestyle changes, and other things like how I better manage my stress levels so in turn you want to know what might potentially work, in hopes that it might work for you too! 

SO, for this post I want to share things that I do almost every single day in order to feel my best self; little hacks that have improved my digestion, other things that have helped me manage my stress levels, reduced my anxiety attacks, and really allowed me to listen to what my body needs especially in terms of working out; when to back off and when to push myself! Instead of you reading this as, ok she eats breakfast at X time every morning and only eats X number of snacks a day or workouts X times a week & thinking that is what you should be doing to; read the underlining message of how my mindset is towards eating and working out and the things that I am adding into my diet in order to nourish my body so I can sleep better, feel stronger for my workouts, and improve my digestion.  

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In this post I am going to share what I do each morning, when I typically love to workout, what workouts I gravitate towards during times of stress or when I need to bring some energy into my body, the foods my body craves normally, which ones I try to stick to during the winter months, and how adding in a simple hack like collagen from Vital Proteins has truly made a difference in my overall health!

There isn’t a certain “diet” that I follow, but I do stay away from certain foods that tend to aggravate my already sensitive stomach, but this was found through self experimentation. Listening to what others were doing or eating wasn’t necessarily going to help me since we are all different! I more or less used their suggestions as advice, see if it worked for me and if it did then I would continue on but if it didn’t then I would try something new! Focusing on a diet that is full of lean protein, mainly plant based, mostly vegetables, anti-inflammatory, minimal sugar; I feel that I have greatly improved my gut health. Also since incorporating collagen into my routine every single day, I truly believe that I have been able to add back things into my diet that once were forbidden or caused major issues such as severe bloating, cramping, migraines, aggravated my leaky gut, and completely inflamed my body. These were foods such as grains, oats, certain vegetables, and even certain nuts!  I now have more options and more variety when it comes to cooking foods, eating at restaurants, attending social events, anything involving food and because of that my life has changed for the better! There is less stress about what is going in my body, which means a healthier gut and a happier self! 

Here’s how: 

Most mornings, I wake up very early! If I have gotten a great nights sleep, then I love starting my day on the early side; which means getting up around 5/5:30 almost every single morning. 

The first thing I do: 

DRINK: 16oz of room temperature water, 1 lemon, 1-2 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar & 1-2 scoops: Marine Collagen or Vital Proteins beauty water (flavor of choice). 

I drink this before having my coffee and any food. I tend to not be extremely hungry when I wake up so I don’t find this a problem to wait 30 minutes or so to eat. Also, this has completely helped brighten my complexion and tremendously improved my digestion. Apple cider vinegar is full of enzymes and good bacteria, lemon helps balance your blood sugar levels and helps regulate your PH levels and the collagen can help improve your digestion (IBS, leaky gut to name a few), help with hair growth, stronger nails, and make your skin brighter! This drink really activates my digestion and I can 100% notice a difference in my body when I do not drink this in the morning and throughout the day (1-2x) in how I digest food and how my skin looks and feels. In turn, as it helps my digestion, my energy levels have increased. 

With my water, I take 2-4 Spirulina Capsules from Vital Proteins. Within 1 week I noticed that my energy levels tremendously increased, I am now way more productive in the mornings, my skin is brighter, and it is also a great detoxifier for your body. 

COFFEE: I love my morning coffee. I’ve tried to give it up and usually try and “detox” my body from it every once and a while. However, when I do have it, I love adding in the marine collagen. Not only does it add in protein but you will also get amazing health benefits like the ones I listed above! Plus, it makes the coffee so frothy! If you aren’t into coffee, Vital Proteins has a Matcha Collagen mix or you can make a turmeric drink (click for my recipe). They make it so simple to add in the collagen even if you order your coffee out because they have to-go packets! It is so convenient. 

BREAKFAST: A typical breakfast of mine usually is a smoothie, chia pudding, a loaded toast with avocado & maybe an egg, a yogurt bowl, or a few energy bites on the side with any of the options previously mentioned. 

Ex. Yogurt bowl:

Dairy free yogurt, 1-2 scoops marine collagen, cinnamon, ground flaxseeds or chia seeds, a roasted sweet potato or butternut squash, cacao nibs, a scoop of nut butter, handful of granola etc! 

Ex. Smoothie: 

1.5 cups almond milk, handful of spinach, 1/2 cup frozen peas, 1-2 scoops marine collagen, cinnamon, 1 frozen banana, 1-2 scoops cacao powder, 1 scoop peanut butter or nut butter of choice.

I typically workout later in the evenings, but if I am taking a morning class they are usually around 9-9:30. If that is the case, I will stick to the morning water mix, coffee, a few energy bites, and then eat immediately when I get home. 

Working out later in the evenings has allowed me to be more productive during the day, avoid a 3 PM crash, and honestly I enjoy my workouts better! Even though I wake up very early and can make a morning class, my body still hasn’t had time to adjust and when I rush in the mornings, I notice that my digestive system is completely thrown off. Also, I have a hard time relaxing in a morning yoga class or HIIT class because I am thinking about everything that needs to get done for the day. In the evenings, it is a break that I look forward too, I can fully check out, and I know that after my workout is done I can fully relax when I get home. It has also helped me sleep better at night, which I know can be the opposite of others, so you have to figure out what works for you! A 5:45 or 7:30 yoga class, calms down my body, mind, stretches me out, and allows me to unwind from the day! Or a HIIT class can be exactly what I need to release built up tension or stress that I had been facing all day. I figure out what I need that day, how my energy levels are, and what will be the most beneficial for me, my sleep, and mind. I usually sign up for a class the day before or the morning of so I stay a bit more committed to going. 

Working out that late in the evenings, I find myself staying motivated by remembering how I feel when the workout is done! Endorphins are real! Depending on the workout that I have picked I normally feel calm, more balanced, less stressed out, strong, and appreciate all the work that my body just did for the last hour or so. I know that I am doing something good for my body and mind and understand that it will allow for more of a productive day the following day, because I will mentally feel more focused and clear. Also, I never take classes that I don’t like, even if that means I have to go alone sometimes, if all my friends are working out somewhere else. I have found a few that I love and stick to those. That obviously makes it 100x easier to go and I stick to a few of the same instructors. Finding instructors you vibe with, their music, their style can really make all the difference in you going or not. Working out releases stress and keeps my anxiety levels down, which makes for more a healthier gut for me! I tend to hold all of my stress in my gut so not only adding collagen into my diet, but keeping a consistent exercise routine has been very beneficial. 

Throughout the day, I like to continue to drink another 16oz glass of water, collagen, lemon, and apple cider vinegar. I will either keep it the same or switch up the flavor of the beauty water. This keeps my skin hydrated, especially during the winter, keeps me alert instead of reaching for a second coffee, keeps my digestive system active, and hydrated in general so I can have a good workout in the afternoon (or beneficial if you worked out in the morning!) This is probably the one thing that I have noticed that has made a huge difference in my digestion! I make sure to always have this after a night out, if I am tired, if I feel bloated, cramps, or might have eaten something that caused any type of stomach pain or just felt off. It always calms down my stomach, reduces bloating, helps gets things moving, and just makes me feel so much better! 

For lunch there are so many ways to incorporate collagen into your meals and you do not have to stick to just using the collagen, they have a bone broth too, which is great for things such as soups or mixing into salad dressings.  

Here are a few typical lunch recipes that I make ahead for the week that all use collagen! 

LIST RECIPES: 

1. Quinoa Lentil Bites

2. Butternut Squash Soup

3. Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

4. Collagen Sweet Potato Salad w/ a Mustard Vinaigrette Dressing 

You can also do something as simple as make a huge stir fry for the week and add 1-2 scoops of the collagen or the bone broth right into the WOK or sauce plan with the sauce, mix it up and then continue to add in the veggies. I do this a lot, it is simple and just requires one pan and usually lasts me for the majority of the week! 

If you have to eat lunch out a lot, which sometimes that happens to me; I bring the to-go collagen packets and mix them into the salad dressings that I get OR bring my own homemade salad dressings with the collagen already pre-mixed in! If you are getting a smoothie while out, you can mix in the collagen after the smoothie has been made for you! Most places probably will not have collagen on hand, so it is easy to keep a few with you in your bag and Vital Proteins makes it super convenient with their little packets. This way, if you have to eat lunch out the majority of the week, you know you are sneaking in collagen into your meals; keeping your gut happy/healthy, joints and immune system strong, and continuing to brighten your skin and continue to feel amazing. I try and do this a lot, especially when I am eating out because you do not often know all the ingredients in your meals, no matter how healthy a place can be.

After lunch, I continue to work on projects, emails, blog posts, or may have to teach classes. My days are pretty A-typical and usually my days aren’t the same. It is hard to plan so far ahead, because things always pop up, which is why I feel that it is extra important for me to stay healthy and keep my stress levels low. I do that by trying my hardest to follow a healthy diet or making sure I am adding collagen at least a few times a day, keeping my exercise routine consistent (or backing off when I need to and sleep!!), and making sure my gut is healthy. If my body does feel off, it is harder for me to be productive, teach, sleep, and find the motivation to workout and do just about anything! That way, when things come up unexpectedly such as more work, a night out with friends, holiday stress, or I am sick, I know exactly what I need to do in order to get back on track since I am pretty in tune with my body and know what it will need in order to feel better. 

Since I stopped working out in the early mornings, I don’t find myself crashing in the afternoon. However, I do always have a snack since I need to eat something before I work out as my dinners will be later in the evenings. My snacks always consist of my homemade energy bites, yogurt mixed with a scoop or collagen w/ ground flaxseed, nut butters, granola etc or maybe a small smoothie or chia pudding depending on the time I am working out. It is usually a balance between healthy fats, carbs, and protein; something small but substantial that will hold me over until my workout is complete. 

Depending on how I am feeling mentally and physically greatly determines the type of workout that I do in the evenings. I usually stick to do things: yoga or a HIIT type of workout that involves a combination of cardio (running) and weights. Whenever I feel stressed, frustrated, anxious, tired, sore, low energy, or really just any emotion; yoga is the choice. It calms down my anxiety, reduces bloating or the tension that I’ve held in my gut from the stress, relaxes my body, helps clear my mind, allows me to re-appreciate my body, and have a restful night sleep! There are so many poses that help with a good night sleep. A few months ago I wrote a blog post about different suggestions to help with anxiety and getting a restful night sleep, including in yoga poses, foods to it, and personal suggestions. Click here

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If I am feeling pretty energized, stressed out, more social, or just have had a hard/bad day then I usually pick more of an intense workout to blow off steam. Often times, these workouts can keep me awake for a little bit longer because they are high energy and it takes my body a little while to calm down. Because of that, when I come home I do a few things:

Re-stretch my body

Take an Epsom salt bath

Turmeric Drink w/ collagen

Depending on how hungry I am I will either eat dinner before or after, the above. I suggest, eating dinner before, then doing the above. It will be more relaxing, then you can go right to bed after. I only do these workouts about 2x a week in the evenings! One thing that I have found super interesting to note is before, for a while I struggled with doing intense workouts because my body would always feel very inflamed and I felt that I had a hard time recovering from them. I swam competitively my whole life, but since developing digestive issues such as leaky guy and SIBO, intense workouts such as running, only seemed to cause more problems! I remember writing a blog post about it a year ago saying I had to stay away from these "hard on your body" workouts, but now, since taking collagen regularly, I don’t find that to be an issue anymore!! That has been a very big improvement and positive impact! 

My dinners are usually the same as my lunches and tend to be lighter, but I do always have a snack before bed. My lunch meal is the biggest meal of the day because I have found that works better for not only my digestion but the way that I sleep. I have a hard time sleeping on a full stomach.  

Realistically, I try to go to bed around 10 or so most evenings, but that isn't always the case and might stay up later because of work or whatever reason. I do not need a solid 8 hours of sleep to function and actually am better with about 5-6 hours. One thing that I do, do before bed is fill up the 16oz glass with the lemon water, apple cider vinegar and collagen and keep it by my bed or in the fridge. That way, I won't forget to do it in the morning if I get caught up or I can drink it throughout the night if I wake up at different points. 

The biggest take aways from this post, are just ideas as to how simple it can be to start incorporating Vital Proteins Collagen into your everyday routine, with all of the options they have to offer and how this one change has made an impact on my overall health, but more importantly my gut health:

1. Improved digestion

2. Helped improved leaky gut

3. Allowed for more variety of foods, helped with overcoming food intolerances

4. Helped with IBS symptoms; bloating, cramping, etc. 

In turn, since my gut is able to stay more regular, balanced, and healthy my skin is clear, I can think more clearly, my anxiety is reduced, I can better manage my stress levels, and my sleeping patterns are more regular! 

I don't always incorporate collagen into my diet EVERY single time I am eating, but I make sure that I have it in the morning with my drinks and always in the snacks that I make! However, by sharing the recipes that I have, you can see how simple it is to add it into your meals without changing the taste or really anything about the dish at all! 

As you can see there isn't a timeline that I follow every single day as to when I am eating, what time I am working out, and how many times a week that I workout. I don't like to watch the clock to determine when I am hungry, I just listen to when I want to eat or not. Some days I eat more than others because of my activity levels and other weeks I may workout more or less depending on how my body feels, what I have time for, and what I am in the mood for. I almost feel that is how you should base your days/weeks on, set goals as to what you want to do for the week but don't push yourself if things pop up or you can't reach one or two and obviously not fall into the comparison trap of what another person is doing. The more you focus on taking care of what your body needs, the better you will be able to understand what it is asking for. 

Yoga for Winter Months (Heathline Article)

Yoga for Winter! 

I wrote an article for Healthline, that discusses all things health and well-being and shared several ways as to how yoga can help you stay fit, motivated, and keep you calm during the winter months! I also shared 7 different poses that can help with any stress, anxiety or just give you some energy that you might be looking for during the winter! Essentially a way to have a start a home practice or turn your apartment into a mini studio when it becomes challenging to get to a studio during the winter months! Click the link above! 

SPOTLIGHT: WHAT’S IN MY PANTRY

There are always the must have // staples in my pantry and I am embarrassed to admit that this is only 1 of the many that I have. Sometimes I feel that my apartment is actually built like the aisles of the grocery store.  I do like to keep my kitchen stocked at all times with the staples that I use every single day, since I am recipe testing OR just flat out use them so much that I go through each ingredient quickly! 

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In order to save money, or at least try to save as much as I can; I tend to buy in bulk; especially when ordering online, use coupons, order through places such as Amazon or Thrive Market to find the products at a cheaper price, and I almost always buy name brands; especially nuts/seeds and many of my nut butters for example are Whole Foods brands which are almost 8 dollars cheaper than the average or I go to other stores if I can! 

For this post; I wanted to just focus on the ones that I use the absolute most or find to be the most important for my body. These are the ingredients or products that I have on hand 24-7. I am not showing you my cooking oils, my fridge, and my two other cabinets that are filled with my snack type of things, but maybe we can get to those another day! 

Hopefully you find this helpful, useful, and I share a bit as to why I use it or how I incorporate it into my everyday routine. Just remember, this isn't everything seen above, but just a spotlight on some of my favorites and what I think is the most important. If you do search throughout my blog you will see some of the other products used in recipes!

SPICES: 
Cinnamon (naturally sweeten things up, balances blood sugar levels)
Turmeric; if you search my blog I have over 5 recipes with turmeric: smoothie, warming drink, energy bites, cauliflower steak, cookies
Ginger (big one for me: digestion) 
Nutritional Yeast; nutty, cheesy flavor, source of b12/b6; I also buy the one that contains protein, contains selenium, antiviral and antibacterial properties
Sesame Seeds
Pink Himaylan Sea Salt
Misc. ones, but always come in handy: cumin, curry powder, nutmeg, cayenne pepper

PROTEIN POWDERS: I think this is probably one of the questions that I get asked a great deal; especially since I have a dealt with gut issues (read about some of it there) my whole life and I feel that most protein powders on the market can aggravate an already sensitive stomach. You all want to know; which ones to use, stay away from, which ones do I personally use etc. To be honest, I try to get most of my protein from plants, wild caught fish, and nuts/seeds but occasionally (a few times a week) I add in protein powder in my smoothies, yogurts or when I am making my own energy bites. 

There are two on the market that I currently love. One I have been using for many years; Philosophie and then a new one that I just found recently, that is also a plant based protein called; VitalFit Nutrition. Between both, I have found that neither bother my stomach and I can easily digest them without wrecking havoc, causing any abdominal pain, bloating, and they blend in easier into smoothies! Plus they are both filled with a good amount of protein and contain no added sugars, gums, things like inulin or chicory root (which tends to bother me)- which are all things that I look for when picking out protein powders. 

VitalFit Nutrition

  • Free of: gluten, grains, sugar, soy, wheat, and it is dairy free. 
  • Contains digestive enzymes and the base is made from cold pressed pumpkin seeds!
  • **Side note: digestive enzymes can be super helpful for anyone that has IBS, leaky gut, or the like because it can help take off the stress of the GI track and just help you break down protein easier!  You then can absorb more nutrients! Ideally, this is perfect for someone like me! I take a digestive enzyme everyday before my two largest meals, so having digestive enzymes in a protein powder is an added bonus! 
  • I like how this protein powder is made with pumpkin seeds because they are a great source of magnesium and omega 3's which I need a diet that is rich, for obvious reasons, but mainly it also helps with my migraines. I try to eat foods that are plenty rich in magnesium because that release of serotonin from them *can hopefully* relax some of those blood vessels and help reduce some of the inflammation that my head is feeling. 
  • I only use about half a scoop which still gives me over 11 grams of protein (a full scoop gives you 24 grams) and use it in the obvious ways: smoothies, homemade energy bites, yogurts, warm drinks (turmeric lattes; their protein powder is a vanilla flavor, tastes amazing in this drink FYI)
  • I also stick to about half a scoop in my smoothies because it can be on the sweeter side, but in a good way & perfect if you want to stick to a fruitless smoothie! I have found that I now do not need to add in any bananas, dates etc to my smoothies because the protein powder gives it a touch of sweetness, which is perfect for me since I can't always tolerate fruit nor dates. 
  • Bonus!!! It is locally made; in Boston, by two guys who actually care what is being put into our bodies; they work with some of the top trainers here listening to what they are lacking or needing in hopes to constantly evolve their product to deliver what they need in order to train, teach, and reach their own goals, faster and smarter. How cool?! They are also in the process of doing some other pretty innovative things; focusing all on recovery component vs that pre-work out boost and working with local companies in Boston! 

Philosophie: I have been using the protein powders (3 different flavors, Cacao Magic, Green Dream, Berry Bliss), coconut butters, and the honey consistently for many years! This was actually the first brand of protein powders that I used and truly love the ingredients. 

*Spotlight on the Cacao Magic Superfood Protein Blend: No sugar, contains ingredients like cacao, cacao nibs, reishi, mesquite, maca powder, hemp protein, chia seeds, and vanilla. That's it! (All organic). It is high in antioxidants and magnesium. It tastes so good and also provides an energizing, caffeine-free power boost and I do find that I need to add at least 2 servings for a chocolate taste, which then gives you 20 grams of protein! I personally love this one or the Green Dream and stick to just one serving since it is pretty "green" tasting, but so good for you! I love that it contains spirulina! I find it to be detoxifying! You can check out many different recipes on my blog that use the Cacao Magic Superfood just by searching it! 

*I also love the superfood honey because it contains the same ingredients as the protein blends so you are getting additional nutritional bonus including the benefits of honey, alone. I tend to use this solely when I am sick (take a spoonful for its' antibacterial purposes) or will use this as a replacer for anything sweet, if needed. The coconut butters also include the ingredients of the superfood protein blends, sweetened with honey, and full of healthy fats. The green dream and the cacao magic are my favorite. You can use these the same way you would as regular coconut butter, but I love that they have a bit of a flavor and are filled with *superfoods* so you are getting an additional benefit when you are using them besides just healthy fats. 

SUPPLEMENTS:

L-Glutaime:
I have a dedicated blog post coming soon, stay posted! For now, I am mainly taking it to help repair/rebuild my gut/intestines after having leaky gut. It can be very beneficial for anyone that suffers from gastrointestinal health. It is also great for muscle recovery and improving performance; if you train intensely or just looking to optimal recovery from your workouts! More to come. I love the brand Pure Encapsulations. 

VitalFit Nutrition: Tart Cherry: I have a hard time taking advil or any pain medications because of the damage that it presents to my gut; therefore I either totally stay away or need to look into more herbal or holistic approaches. Two of the main functions of these capsules is that it reduces inflammation and oxidative stress. So, you can take it the same way as you would with a pain reliever yet you would feel those nasty side affects on your body; just relieve from soreness, tenderness; or any pain within a few hours! 

SilverFern Probiotics: Read my blog post here

HUM Nutrition: The two that I take are: Daily Cleanse & Flatter Me. The Flatter Me, is actually a digestive enzyme, to help improve your digestion and absorb nutrients more efficiently. The Daily cleanse: helps cleanse your skin, bowels, liver and is made with over 15 detoxifying herbs. These are my favorite two so far and have been taking them for just about 3 months now and started to notice a difference a month in, in a good way! 

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Vital Proteins: 
Marine Collagen: If you are just starting off, I would start here! If you search "collagen" on my blog you can find out so many ways that I have incorporated it into recipes; salad dressings, smoothies, soups, protein bars, breads, just about anything- it can be added to! It has greatly improved my gut health, skin health, helps with any type of joint pain, hair growth (seriously, my hair does not stop growing), and nail strength! The biggest for me, is obviously gut health: helps heal leaky gut and can help with "sealing" the lining of the gastrointestinal track // helps with the absorption of water to help things stay moving. I make sure I have this every single day; at least 1-2 scoops. 

Beauty Water; I also use their beauty water, lavender lemon, and mix it in my apple cider, lemon, water by adding in about 1 tbsp or more. It can easily be mixed into smoothies, see my stress relief smoothie, here! It is subtle taste, but I do like it with other things and prefer it that way vs. on it’s own. I find it to be refreshing and there is no added sugars
Benefits: 
Hydrating for skin, keeps skin firm / improve elasticity & same benefits as the collagen!

Navitas Naturals: These are the three that I tend to stick with and use the most! 

Cacao powder. I use cacao powder every single day.
*No sugar
*Deep rich // chocolate taste (can be bitter)
*Natural boost of energy, contains antioxidants, magnesium, boosts my mood, contains fiber, less processed than cacoa powder, it is raw, 

Cacao nibs: same as above! I love adding these into my homemade energy bites, protein bars, on top of my yogurt, smoothies, oatmeals. They can have more of a bitter taste than sweet! 

Maca powder:
*Use 1 tsp - 1tbsp at a time
*Improve hormones
*Increase energy // stamina
*Improve sexual function
*Everyone is different, so I would just test it out and see if it works for you or not! It is claimed to restore proper hormone balance and elevate that feel good mood endorphins and I try to take it a few times a week by simply adding it into my smoothies! For me personally, it can have a strong taste, so a little goes a long way. Usually during my period I try to increase my intake (the week before and during) hoping that it elevates any symptoms and I have noticed that I don’t experience cramping as often and as much bloating! It is not overly sweet tasting, maca has a natural nutty, slightly sweet quality to it, similar to cinnamon or nutmeg. 

Granola: 
Paleo Passion Foods:
*Ingredients: walnuts, almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, coconut oil (& a few more) making the grain free granola higher in protein than most & more fiber, so you will stay fuller longer. I have three recipes on my blog using the granola! And, the best part, 1 serving size has only 4 grams of sugar. While most other granolas are full of refined sugar, carbohydrates and lower in protein. *Honey/maple Syrup to sweeten: maple syrup is lower on the glycemic level and affects your blood sugar less than white sugar. Both honey and maple syrup have antioxidant properties, help reduce inflammation in your skin, and they make a great alternative for improved digestion. I have actually found that this is one of the only granolas that doesn’t bother my stomach if I ever over do it. 

Nut Butters:
Nuttzo: even though it can be on the pricer side I love this one because each jar contains 10 different nuts/seeds (cashews, chia seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds etc!) High in protein and very little sugar no added oils! 
Georgia Grinders: No added oils, just the nut butter and salt! 11 different flavors! 
Whole Foods 365: I usually always buy the whole foods brand because it is the cheapest! Organic; the nut and salt as the addition.
Sunbutter: Nut-free! Energy bite here, on my blog! 

Obviously there are other things that are hiding in my pantry that I use every so often, but the ones above are a few of the things that I tend to use every single day. I can work on creating a PDF guide of everything; fridge and all pantry (snacks, cooking oils, etc from brands to generic) that is downloadable that might be helpful when grocery shopping! A lot of you probably know this information, but It is easier to have it up here written out so I can refer you back here always, instead of it being missed in a post // story. I personally think that some of these are a good place to start and a good investment in your health and you will start to notice a difference in your overall well-being, over time because remember nothing is ever a quick fix! 

Balancing your Finances with The Financial Gym

Talking about money or even just thinking about money can be difficult and really just make you want to bolt to the nearest exit to avoid it at all costs, especially when you are just starting out on your own; maybe you own a business or are learning how to manage your finances. For the last few weeks, I've been fortunate enough to work with amazing women from The Financial Gym to help me to all of this - better prepare me for my future; help me set goals, balance and manage my finances, make all of this feel less intimidating, and present it in a way that was comforting and just easy to understand. Trusting someone to talk over your finances with can be difficult but I felt at complete ease when I was discussing my future plans, where I was at now, and the little information I knew about my money currently with one of the financial trainers. It is almost as if you are talking to a friend; a casual conversation that flowed effortlessly between money, finances, goals, to more personal topics or off conversation topics that naturally found their way into our first Skype sessions. A little background first: can be found here on The Financial Gym website.

For most of us, we leave this magical land of college where our lives were pretty carefree and somewhat tied to your parents (possibly) compared to the reality post graduation looking for a job, apartment, moving to a new city, and the burden of budgeting your paycheck, saving for retirement, a family and maybe even trying to throw a vacation in there! Feeling unprepared we just go through the motions, living our lives and not too concerned as to how we are spending our money. We may be oblivious to the $5 latte or $10 smoothie we buy every day because we are only thinking in that moment, not realizing that it truly does add up; month after month and year after year! For me, it is always out of sight out of mind. When I do not look at my finances in front of me, then I don’t always know what I am spending.

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After leaving my stable job this past April; one where health benefits were covered, I received a paycheck each week guaranteed, I had vacation days, and paid sick time…life was pretty good. Yet, I decided to pursue my true passion, leave that job to start my own business (of blogging, writing, teaching yoga, and anything else that came my way) and knew it was a risk, but it would be worth it. 

Living in the city, with things like high rent cost, blogging and teaching yoga isn’t the most ideal job to have especially when you are first starting out because you are constantly wondering when and where your next paycheck is coming from AND you are working 24-7. Just because Friday comes, does not mean you receive a paycheck, in fact there are some weeks that I do not even get paid! It is a constant struggle to manage your money, balance your spending, while constantly finding new projects for the future as you always need to stay a few steps ahead of the game, while working on current ones, all while staying afloat, manage your stress levels, stay relevant and most importantly, not burn out! 

I wanted to change all of that, now that I have established my own business. It is a goal of mine to be more aware of how I spend and save my money so I can better prepare myself for the future that I hope to have. It is always important to think about goals, what you want in the next few months, next few years, and where you see yourself in the long term future. Speaking with the women from The Financial Gym helped me with all of this! On their website, they have a podcast, "Martinis & Your Money," if you want to tune in where their CEO, Shannon, speaks with 3 clients who go over their process and experience of working with them! So, not only can you read about my experience here, but you can hear from others as well and Shannon! There is also another great article on the blog that talks about the top ten ways to save money! Click here.

In a nutshell, you, have the opportunity to work one on one with one of their financial trainers that offer you tools, resources, and their full support to make sure you stay on track once they have gone over your full financial profile. The best part is you can do all of this online! For me, I was paired with Joy, one of their financial trainers and so far we’ve had two Skype meetings, each lasting about 1.5 hours. During our first conversation I will admit that I wasn’t prepared for the call at all. I was slightly embarrassed but Joy was so easy to speak with, she wasn’t intimidating, and constantly reassured me that it was OK that I wasn’t prepared for the meeting. The first meeting with one of their trainers, is the discovery session and the second is the plan delivery where they give you a financial roadmap! During the first meeting the trainer literally discovers everything about you and during the second meeting they lay it all our for you and act as your accountability partner and money mentor to help you and hold you accountable along the way to accomplishing your goals! 

To summarize, in our first meeting, Joy talked through different points; such as setting goals, mapping out my journey, how their approach is private, judgement free, answering the question: what is the most important to me, and what my current financial situation is now, etc (a total of 8 points). We went through all 8 step by step and it was a real wake up call, but in a good way! It really allowed me to think about my future goals, how I spend my money, what areas I need to be better with spending my money, and most importantly allowed me to think about what I want to be doing in a few years financially or even in general. It didn’t necessarily cause any added stress, yet this first call was a proactive way to begin to think about the ways in which I can prepare now wisely in how I spend my money so I can have the future that I have always dreamed of having. 

The second meeting is a week later and before this meeting, Joy, had sent over a spreadsheet of everything that we had talked about during our first one; my income, assets, liabilities, my goals. It was amazing to see everything put together as I have never taken the time to actually put this type of information down on paper myself. You could tell that she was truly listening during our first conversation and also made notes on the documents, suggestions as to how I can save money, areas in which I can manage my money in order to reach certain goals that I have set for myself. Nothing was out of my reach. Once again, it wasn’t intimating at all, nothing was forced upon me and it was as if I was once again conversing with a friend!

I think my favorite part was, their Financial Gym Training Zone. Here, you link your credit cards, bank accounts etc, and you and your financial trainer (which would be Joy for me) can keep track of your money together, what you are spending, how you are spending it, where etc. This truly does make you more aware of how you are handling your money especially since someone else is watching how you are spending your money too! It almost feels as if you have your parents watching you spend your money on something you shouldn’t be buying!! 

After the first two meetings with one of their financial trainers, the next time you officially speak with your trainer again is in a few months. The reason being, is they want to check in on you then to see if you have essentially done your homework. Have you saved money, have you reached any of the goals you have set for yourself that you discussed, have you changed any of your spending habits and so forth. So for me for example, I am trying to set aside money to re do my blog, I also want to become better at spending money at the market, and I want to begin to save money each money and set it aside for the future.  During this time, you can still email your own personal trainer at any time and use any of their resources, such as the Financial Gym Training Zone or even attend any of their events in you are in the area! 

I am excited to see how far I have come and where my life is at then. Blogging is a different world because it is different every single day, week, and month, for me at least, yet that is what makes it exciting for me. I have set certain goals for myself, yet things are constantly changing and evolving but I am excited to make certain financial changes, be more consistent with my spending and saving, and reach the goals that I have set and discussed with Joy. I can’t wait to continue to share this journey with you all too! 

So far, I think that this has been a really great resource and is especially great for anyone that feels lost or intimidating by handling their finances. It is such a great start! If you want to try it out, they have been so generous to offer a 50% discount code by just simply saying “balance with b” off your first month of service if you get started in September! You can also sign up for a free 15 min consult call here to learn more about the service and get all your questions asked and answered before making a decision to use them or not.

theSkimm, Healthcare, and YOU!

For the month of June, I’ve partnered with theSkimm, for their No Excuses Healthcare Campaign. Ok, two things; first if you aren’t familiar with theSkimm, it is a media company that is changing the way female millennials receive news and information, that was just so happened to be started by two females! You are 100% missing out if you are catching up on the latest news every single morning with them. It has a no BS, super funny, but factual way of delivering the news to you; all before you even wake up. It’s just waiting in your inbox ready for you to open the moment you roll over in your bed and grab your phone in the morning. 

Second, you are probably wondering, what their No Excuses Healthcare campaign is all about. A quick summary: They are engaging their audience on key issues driving the national conversation and challenging US to make ‘No Excuses’ when it comes to being informed. During their last No Excuses campaign, they activated over 1.5 million of their followers across social media to take action. For their campaign around the 2016 Election, they registered over 110,000 people to vote. And for their recent No Excuses immigration campaign, they rallied over 500,000 people to take the citizenship test. They’ve been making huge differences to say the least in getting people involved, spreading the news, having people become more aware, more informed, no matter what political or social stance they take! It doesn’t matter! The goal is just to become informed and to simply care about what is happening in the world. You can read about their No Excuses Health campaign, by clicking here

"Why is this a big deal?

Because theSkimm’s mission is to make it easier to live a smarter life. And this time, we’re getting personal. Part of living a smarter life is taking charge of your own health. That doesn’t just mean going to the doctor. It means understanding what health coverage you have, what you want now, what you would want for your children, and how that matches policies being discussed. And we don’t just want to give you the info you need to understand and join the conversation, we want to give you the tools you need to take action."  Link

So why is this important to me? For starters, you all know that health is a big deal to me, a really big deal. Mental health and digestive health is my life and I openly discuss it with you all whether it be on my blog, Instagram, or throughout my stories from time to time. If you’ve been on this health rollercoaster ride with me, you remember that in February of this year (2017) I decided to leave my full time job and unbegntost to me, my health insurance was terminated before the end of the month from my previous place of employment. I had talked about this happening to me and the situation on my stories the moment that it happened, sharing my feelings, thoughts, frustrations, and was taken back at the amount of responses that I had received from you all that had experienced similar situations or had/have issues when it comes to health care coverage. I was under the assumption and was told that I had health care coverage until the end of the month, yet when I had gone to the pharmacy to retrieve my medication, I was unable to due to the lack of insurance and the prices it was going to cost me. I suddenly had no health insurance and the medication was now costing OVER 1,000 dollars for only a 30 day supply. Unfortunately, this medication is something that I need to take currently every single day as it is preventative care for my migraines. I’ve tried to not take it before, but have continuously ended up in the emergency room with severe migraines that are so debilitating that it takes almost 2 weeks to recover. Secondly, money does not grow on trees and I had NO way of paying for this. 

Naturally, I cried and was at a loss as to what to do. Working for yourself and figuring out health plan is the best one is confusing. (Side note, there are a variety of plans out there: HMOs, PPOs, EPOs, POS, HSHPs and so forth…any sound familiar or just confusing you even more?!). Honestly, would you know what to do? Which plan to pick, truly know which one would be the best for you now, fit your needs, your budget, in the future, for emergencies, medications, doctors and anything that might come your way? 

Having no health insurance flooded my mind with thoughts: What if I had a family? What if this was an emergency situation, how would I pay for it? What if I had a child and the child needed this medication ASAP? I couldn’t imagine how stressful this would be. Luckily, I can get by without taking the medication for a few days as I know what I need to do to take care of myself, but after a few days, I need to take the medication, as my system will begin to develop migraines, anxiety and it will soon spiral out of control. 

It ended up taking over 3 months to figure out a health insurance plan that would work best for my situation. The first two weeks of figuring out a plan were extremely stressful. It felt as if I was being passed along from one person to the next and because I take medication and see my doctors a good amount, I needed coverage fast. Therefore, for the first month, I had to go on a plan in which I had to pay a ridiculous amount for the first month. I would say that it was as high as most people’s monthly rent. However, there was no time to figure things out, wait a few weeks, plan ahead, or give it much thought because I needed medication and I needed coverage fast and this was the only thing that I could do. After that month had past, I was able to switch plans, a plan that is much better, the price is much lower and it works for me now and for the future. Even just typing this is giving me flashbacks and headaches! 

I often wonder I had just been more informed from the start, could this situation have been avoided. Would there been a way to have worked with my previous place of employment, my doctors, or anyone else to have figured out what I would have needed to have done in order to make this transition much smoother. If not, then it is up to me to be completely informed about what is available to me. I share this with you, not to cause stress, anxiety, or to freak you out, but because there are real issues that we must face every single day that we often forget about. There are things such as health care, that you need to be informed about; it affects me on a daily basis and my future greatly and while it may not affect you now, it will in the future; if there is an emergency, if you have a child, visit the hospital, anything! Being prepared now, being informed, and educated, only allows you to take care of yourself better today, tomorrow and the future to come. It is especially important, for us, women because we need to be in control of what happens to our bodies and should be the ones making the decisions when it comes to matters such as our reproductive system. We should have a say in how we want to run our bodies, the medications that we want to take, and the plans that fit our needs the best. This link, is a great read by theSkimm, that talks about statistics, facts, and other information regarding women, healthcare, and our systems today. Its quick and to the point, mainly focusing on reproductive care, trust me! 

I wanted to bring awareness to this idea, the importance of healthcare, the importance of being informed, educated and aware of your options, in hopes that you to do the same to others. Even if you are perfectly healthy now, it doesn't mean that it will not affect you later in life.Little did I know that leaving my full time job with benefits and working for myself, would I end up in the predicament that I was in for a few months. It was stressful, expensive, and left me feeling extremely frustrated and only wanted to learn more information about how our system works as well as make sure people are aware as to how important this is. Living in our world today, we should make it a goal to stay current with the issues that we are challenged with daily so we can either, make positive changes, be informed for the sake of it, and most importantly spread awareness. 

These kind of topics can make your head SPIN, I get it! theSkimm can help you understand everything and break it down for you! They’re Skimm’ing everything you need to know, by going here!

The Heart-Healing Exercise That Will Get You Through A Breakup (MindBodyGreen Article)

The Heart-Healing Exercise That Will Get You Through A Breakup

When you are grieving, whether it's from a breakup, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, or whatever it may be, the pain and stress is taxing—not only on the body but on the mind as well. It is extremely hard to endure head on, and the majority of the time we run from the suffering, denying the reality of the situation, overanalyzing every little detail, or begin to foster the worst possible situation that we believe will happen.

Heartache does fade over time, just like physical pain. This is where yoga comes into play, not only during these times of suffering—a daily committed practice is essential to helping you grow and transforms your outlook, self-awareness, and perspective. The breath (pranayama) and the poses (asana) both have proven to be effective in calming nerves, soothing your mind, and helping in treating depression, allowing you to become more flexible and stronger during times of instability.

Yoga teaches you:
1. Self worth
2. Gratitude
3. Focus on the present
4. Go with the flow

I have a committed yoga practice, because of the transformation I have seen it do for my own mental, physical, and spiritual life, but I always turn to yoga during stressful times especially when I feel as if my world is caving in and I am just barely crawling to the surface. The four corners of my mat are where I find solitude, my own rhythm. By focusing on these four points, my perspective shifts from hopelessness and weakness to peace and strength and where I can begin to quiet the chatter in my mind.

Read more of the article that I wrote for MindBodyGreen here! The Heart-Healing Exercise That Will Get You Through A Breakup (MindBodyGreen Article)

Enjoy! xx

Part II: You need to heal your body first

You need to heal your body first. Part I here, incase you missed it.

In the second part I want to focus less on the facts, "the what is" per-say of the digestive health issue someone, aka you, maybe dealing with, and focus on the foods, tips, and offer up suggestions on how to heal and nourish your body from the inside out. I want to take you on a written, tour of my kitchen, my cabinets, fridge, what I keep on hand, always, and let you in on what has helped me overcome these daily struggles and what I do when I am experiencing the worst flares of my life. 

While some of these might not be anything new or groundbreaking to hear, it is just a reminder that self care is so important. It truly affects how you feel, how you carry out your day, and just your overall energy that you put out there. A few of the biggest things that I've learned throughout this whole process, is understand your trigger foods and stay away, seriously, managing stress and finding an outlet to do so is so key, and to not be embarrassed about any of this. Who cares if you bring your own food somewhere, it's better than feeling like complete crap, it's ok to be selfish during this time. 

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Part I: Digestive Health, the what is.

so a lot of you have been messaging me on a daily basis related to questions about certain digestive health issues and how to deal with them when it feel as if you have tried just about everything under the sun and then some, yet nothing works. To be honest, I love these emails and questions the most. I geek out about gut health and read about it all the time, since this is the whole reason as to why I started my blog in the first place and I know what it is like first hand to deal with all of this; leaky gut, IBS, SIBO, distention of the abdomen, you name it, I pretty much have it or have suffered through it. It seems as if more and more people are suffering from these types of problems, yet we are at a loss as to why. What is the root cause? I like to think of these often taboo topics, a silent health issue, because while the person may appear normal on the outside, their insides and mental health is taking a huge hit. 

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Meet: Jeannette of @shutthekaleup

Before we get started, a lot has been happening in my own personal life & I am excited to share just a few of the projects that I have been working on. [I am going to make this short as possible to not take away from Jeannette- more shares to come!} For starters, just as one's personality and life progress, it only seems natural that my blog would reflect this transition as well. Food/recipes of course, will still be of main focus, but so will yoga/wellness/and anything else that life throws at me. To kick things off with this new theme I have decided to do an interview series and what a better way to kick it off with J! [which we will get to the reason as to why I choose her first.] Each month, I want to shine the spotlight on someone that we all love in the community or someone that we might not know too much about. Someone that continues to inspire not only me but others as well each day. Readers would get to see a snapshot of their daily lives plus I think you will enjoy reading each one because I am approaching it with a lighthearted and fun touch.

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