The best thing to do at the end of the day.

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There are few things I’m hoping to accomplish with this blog, but overall my goal here is to inspire healthy and balanced living. Eating the right foods and moving your body are a huge piece of the puzzle, but I think many people overlook the mental aspect of a wholesome lifestyle.

Someone who I’ve grown close to over the past year said to me, “You’re a positive force. You really are such a positive force, Tiffany.” It took me a moment to gather the meaning from those words, especially because they were so unexpected. Ultimately, I think he was telling me that I have impacted him and potentially others in a really positive way, whether that be big or small.

Wracking my brain for specific examples, I came to the conclusion that I just like to laugh. Laughter is contagious. Is it not? On any given day I’ll love my body, hate my body, stress out over nothing or obsess over whether or not I’m getting ahead or falling behind in life or in my career. I believe that’s called being human.

The best thing you can do at the end of the day is just laugh. Release some endorphins, let go. Almost any conversation I have with someone I sneak in a giggle here or there. A smile or a laugh–forced or not–is mirrored in whoever you’re talking to (so are frowns or scowls).

My friend told me I was a positive force. I smiled, and as a result he smiled. IT’S SO SIMPLE!!!

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Smile and laugh to bring peace to yourself, but also to bring a little joy to others (we’re all having a bad day in some way). Misery may love company, but happy people attract a bigger crowd. You’ve got to work at it just like everything else.

Troubles and problems will persist throughout your entire life. My philosophy is that if you attempt to be happy day-to-day it will all add up to something pretty great.

I never knew I was a positive force, but now it’s my goal to continue to be one. Isn’t this how we change the world? One person at a time? Think about it…

:)

TWO-Ingredient Pancakes

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Two ingredients? Hard to believe, I know. Just bananas and eggs! I added a little powdered peanut butter to mine because I’m a peanut butter freak, but you really don’t need it. A little cinnamon would also be a nice touch. But, do you!

Mash

1 large ripe banana

Mix 

Mashed banana and 2 eggs

Optional

Mix in 1 tbsp powdered peanut butter

Coat a skillet with coconut oil and place a spoonful of the mixture onto the pan. Cook on medium heat. Re-coat the pan before cooking a new pancake. 

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Instead of maple syrup, I heated some frozen raspberries on the stove until they became a warm sauce, and then topped it off with some sliced strawberries. Sooooooo good.

Enjoy!

Green Punkin’ Smoothie

grpumpkVery rarely do we ever actually taste true pumpkin. Pumpkin breads, muffins and lattes are all loaded up with sugar (which is of course why they are so freaking good). Real pumpkin is of course a little more earthy on it’s own, and when you’ve adjusted to the flavor it really is quite good.

While pumpkin is full of good-for-you fiber, vitamins and minerals (iron, vitamin A and vitamin E), my favorite benefit is it’s skin-boosting properties. Pumpkin helps fight wrinkles!! I’m overly concerned with my skin because it’s naturally VERY dry. The carotenoids in pumpkin (similar to those in sweet potatoes) neutralize free-radicals, which helps delay signs of aging (aka wrinkles).

Tis the season, so I’ve started experimenting with different pumpkin smoothies. First up…Green Punkin’ !

Blend

1/3 C pumpkin puree (I used 365 Organic canned pumpkin)

1 1/2 frozen bananas

2 large handfuls organic baby spinach

1 tbsp almond butter

pumpkin pie spice to taste

2 tsp stevia

unsweetened vanilla almond or coconut milk

Optional: Top off with a sprinkle of hemp seeds for an added superfood boost.

 

What happened to my body when I stopped counting calories.

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Every single piece of food that passed my lips used to get logged onto my phone. I became a serious calorie counter my senior year of high school, and incidentally that was when I was at my thinnest. Forget it if I indulged and exceeded my allotted 1,400 calories for the day–3 slices of pizza would earn me almost 3 hours at the gym.

The majority of my friends thought I was crazy and obsessive, but hey, they didn’t understand. They were those ‘naturally thin’ girls that can eat whatever they want and not gain a single pound. It was frustrating to say the least.

Between the ages of 17 and 23 my weight has fluctuated A LOT. I’ve gained and lost 20 pounds nearly twice. Finally, however, I feel like I’ve found a balance. It really pains me to say this but I……stopped counting calories(!)

Not counting calories is terrifying. Absolutely terrifying. Not knowing whether I ate 1,500 calories or 2,500 calories in one day is haunting. I do my best to ignore it.

However, the big question is: What happened to my body?

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My world as I knew it ended. Rather than scanning the dinner table and calculating a 300 calorie meal, I now look for colors and textures wondering how I can put together a beautiful, balanced plate. Rather than perfectly spacing out my snacks and meals throughout the day, I’ve learned to listen to my body and give it the fuel it needs when it needs it. Being truly mindful of what your body needs versus what your mind wants is not easy.

The greatest outcome of ditching my calorie log has got to be the change my body as experienced. Naturally I have wider hips, fuller legs and broad shoulders. No matter how little I eat I will never be a stick, which is what I prayed for for the longest time. These past few months I’ve watched my body embrace and grow into it’s natural shape. I still have moments where I look in the mirror and grab my waist and think, “If I could just ditch the chocolate for a month and double my workouts…”  However, I honestly am beginning to admire my body’s shape in a whole new way.

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I believe a huge part of it for me has been committing to the balanced lifestyle. Yes, I do make sure to workout throughout the week and I will say no to dessert sometimes (can you believe it?!). I still measure out portions of calorie-dense foods and try to stop eating before I’m stuffed. When you commit to a balanced lifestyle you just feel good, and I really think your physical appearance reflects that.

A rather hard concept to grasp is that your body is not meant to look like anyone else’s. It is your own. You won’t know what it’s capable of until you take care of it and treat it with a little kindness and respect.

One last comment…

While I’m ditching the math, I do believe everyone should try counting calories for a short period of time just to understand portion control. Trust me–a true serving of pasta is depressingly smaller than we all want it to be. I wouldn’t be able to create balanced meals and snacks without knowing proper serving sizes. You don’t need the extra food anyway. A serving is plenty to fuel your body! 

XO

 

Real. Raw. Peanut butter cups.

Peanut Butter Cups

Pass the peanut butter, it’s time to get down to business. We all know how hard it is to resist a Reese’s. Chocolate and peanut butter are truly a heavenly pair. Honestly though, the cleaner I eat the more sensitive my taste buds are to artificial ingredients. I don’t get the same high off of a store-bought peanut butter cup as I used to. The initial bite might be AMAZING, but I’m left with an odd taste in my mouth. Not to mention the guilt of willingly feeding my body absolute garbage!

This morning I tried my hand at homemade raw peanut butter cups. Ooo-wee they’re good, and FULL of superfoods.

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Mix

1/4 c. almond butter

1/2 c. peanut butter

1 tbsp coconut oil, melted

1 tbsp raw honey

**Pour mixture into muffin tins or cupcake wrappers and place in freezer until hardened.

Meanwhile…

Mix 

1/2 c. cacao powder

1/3 c. coconut oil, melted

large handful of chocolate chips or chocolate chunks (I crushed up half of an almond NibMor bar)

1 tbsp raw honey

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Take the hardened peanut butter base out of the freezer and pour the chocolate mixture on top. Place back in the freezer until completely hardened and enjoy!

xo

 

My first acai bowl, baby.

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Isn’t it beautiful? After scrolling through countless photos of bright purple acai bowls on Instagram and Tumblr, and spending way too much money buying them from my favorite juice joints, I finally made my very own. And oh baby…

Yes, I know what you’re thinking–”Does that really taste as good as it looks?” My answer to you is: hell yeah it does!!!

Blend

-1/2 C. frozen organic raspberries

-1 1/2 frozen bananas

-1 tbsp organic cashew butter

-3 Organic Burst Acai Capsules

-a splash of water!

Sprinkle

-coconut flakes

-hemp seeds

-cacao nibs

Enjoy!

 

xo

Getting off-balance

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I like ice cream. Actually, I LOVE ice cream. It’s obviously not the healthiest food out there (not even close), but there’s something about summertime that really kicks my sweet tooth into high gear. Indulgences are a part of a healthy diet in moderation, but what happens when one treat turns into two, and two into….four?

Confession: I had some form of ice cream four times in the past week(!) The world is not ending. I repeat, the world is NOT ending. I’m not going to suddenly gain 15 pounds and I’m not going to go on a fast to punish myself for it either. However, while I enjoyed every last bite of my “Salted Crack Caramel” ice cream and my peanut butter frozen yogurt this week, I realized just how quick my body responds to the kind of food I choose to put into it.

In the hours following my sweets I felt bloated and sluggish. The following day I felt unusually tired, still bloated and just “off”. During the next few days my cravings were through the roof!! Which is probably why I caved and just had more ice cream, digging myself even deeper into a sugar coma.

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I’m not going to stop eating ice cream–I love it too much! Though, I will practice better self-control…or at least try my best to. It was kind of remarkable how fast my body was able to identify and react to junky food. I eat relatively clean most of the time (I would guess about 70/30), and I believe that the more consistently you put nourishing foods into your body, the quicker it will be to dismiss less-wholesome foods.

It’s been a few days since my string of ice cream runs, and I’m still trying to regain control of my cravings and self control. It makes me feel a little better knowing that I’m in the same boat as a lot of people (science says we’re programmed to crave sugar)!

I have found a kick-ass alternative, though! Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit in Union Square is seriously amazing. All it is is frozen fruit, water and a little organic cane sugar. Definitely takes the edge off when I’m dying for a frozen dessert. That peanut butter drizzle is no joke. Also, I will definitely be toying with the idea of “nice cream” (a.k.a. banana ice cream) in my upcoming posts as another healthy, at-home alternative.

How have you been able to manage your sweet cravings? What’s your go-to healthy sweet treat? Let me know in the comments below!

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XO

 

What really happens on a wellness retreat

Adam Rosante and morning bootcamp

Photo credit: C9 at Target

This past weekend I took a trip to the Hamptons. It was 48 hours filled with a lot of firsts–the main one being my first wellness retreat! One of the things I love about my job is getting the opportunity to test-run new products, new workouts, and in this case, new experiences. Along with a group of fantastic female journalists, I made my way out to Montauk to Ruschmeyers hotel. It honestly was like an adult camp. Who doesn’t love camp! Maybe not everyone, but still, it was amazing. We stayed in rooms that resembled cabins, and the main garden had hammocks and life-size checkers.

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Besides being transported back to my days as a young camper, I got to spend time with two fitness-leaders: Adam Rosante and Kristin McGee. Kristin lead us through sun salutations as the sun was setting on the beach. In a yoga class instructors often refer to the “oceanic sound” of the breath and encourage you to connect with it. Practicing near the water really amplified that connection for me. Though the view was undeniably beautiful, I spent most of the practice with my eyes closed listening to the waves and breathing in that salty, delicious ocean air. I do have to admit, however, that yoga on the beach is a lot harder than it looks! I sunk down into the sand constantly and was wobbling all over the place. Regardless, I felt restored at the end and was so happy to be a part of the experience.

I’ve learned through my research that wellness retreats come in all shapes and sizes. However, the point of them remains consistent throughout. A humble retreat like this one and even more lavish ones are supposed to bring you back to a greater state of wellness.

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I mentioned earlier that I experienced a few firsts on this trip, another being my first lobster! Can you believe it? It only took me 22 years to crack one open.I had no clue whatsoever what I was doing, but I have to say I quickly became a lobster fan after all that cracking, twisting and pulling. I couldn’t resist a few dips in the melted butter, either! Too good.

We ended the evening with a big bonfire, live music and my absolute favorite dessert in the world–s’mores. It may not have been the healthiest evening, but being well is about balance. Any expert or registered dietitian will stress that. Balance means waking up in the morning and having scrambled eggs and a green smoothie, yes. It also means indulging in an ice cream every now and then, or having a few glasses of wine on occasion.

I ate three s’mores that night, and I don’t regret a single one of them.

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At 8AM the next morning, Adam kicked our butts in a killer bootcamp. My muscles were sore before it even ended. Afterwards we enjoyed a nice breakfast of fresh fruit and avocado toast, followed by a mini spa session. Once the “official” activities ended I broke away from the group to explore the town and beaches on my own.

So, what really happens on a wellness retreat? This may not sound like a groundbreaking 48 hours, but it really helped to reboot my mindset. Living in Manhattan can be incredibly stressful and it feels like you’re moving 100 miles per hour at all times of the day. A wellness retreat reminds you to think of yourself. It gives you the opportunity and excuse to be selfish and assess how you’re feeling. It gives you the chance to slow down.

This may have been my first, but it definitely won’t be my last! If you get an opportunity to go on one yourself I highly recommend it. I’ve heard a lot of people say that you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. I think there’s some truth to that.

Oh, and I was feeling so inspired during this trip that as I was walking along the beach alone I spontaneously just dropped all my belongings and started running. Running in the sand was a lot like yoga in the sand–it was hard as hell, but it felt pretty damn good afterward.

XO

To track or not to track

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With so many advancements in activity tracking technology, it’s likely that wearable fitness tech has crept into your social media feeds or has become commonplace in your office chatter.

“Have you heard about the new Nike Fuel Band?”
“Should I get a FitBit?”
“Do they even work?”
“Isn’t that a bit obsessive?”

Wherever you land on this skepticism scale–from ‘that’s the biggest waste of money’ to ‘I will never leave home without it’–there’s no denying that being aware of your daily activity and daily food consumption has real, significant benefits to your health.

If I’m being honest–I hate running. I really do. I used to force myself to go running in high school and college to make sure I got in enough cardio. However, treadmills are horribly boring and running outside killed my knees and my hips. I ended up having to go through physical therapy in college because I was running so much.

While this doesn’t mean I’ve sworn off running for good (occasionally I’ll go for a jog through Central Park), I definitely keep it to a minimum. Ever since I moved to New York walking has become my favorite way to be active–which is where my Fitbit comes in.

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I’ve been using the Fitbit Flex for about seven months now and almost never leave home without it on. Activity trackers like this one don’t claim to be 100% accurate and I don’t believe that they are, but since I started using it I’ve noticed a major shift in the way I live my life day to day.

Monday through Friday I spend 8-10 hours sitting at a desk, which has taken a toll on how I feel physically. My muscles and joints are stiffer, I experience back pain on a regular basis, and I seem to be getting less and less flexible (let’s all remember for a second that I’m only 22)!

According to my Fitbit, on average, I walk five to six miles a day. Sometimes I even hit seven to eight. If I skip my morning workout I make a point of walking to a farther subway stop on my way to work and also get off a few stops earlier just so I can fit in more steps. I would have never started doing that if it weren’t for my Fitbit. I’m so aware now of how much I move each day and also of how little I move sometimes.

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Like I said, it isn’t completely accurate, which is OK because I use it as a gauge. I don’t hate myself if I don’t reach my daily goal of five miles per day. The point is that I’m aware of my activity and making an effort in light of that awareness. I also believe that I’ve been able to manage my weight more easily because I’ve been walking so much. Hey, it adds up!

My personal philosophy is that you should try to move your body in some way every single day, and also continuously throughout the day. Instead of eating out for lunch during the workday, I go for a twenty minute walk instead and eat at my desk. It’s all about movement and striving to fit more of it into your day (especially if you have a desk job like me).

A healthy body is one that stays in motion. All you need to do is move. It’s up to you to decide how and when. Every little bit counts. That’s a realistic goal, don’t ya think?

 

Overnight oats with healing cardamom

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Oatmeal for me is like a big bowl of pasta or a nice hefty scoop of ice cream–it’s a comfort food. It’s a comfort food that also happens to be good for you (often not the case). I’ve found that oats can actually be a lot more versatile than you think, and I like to experiment with them regularly to keep them exciting.

Now, I really like the idea of overnight oats. For mornings when I’m running to a workout at 7AM I can just grab the jar from my fridge and bounce. They save me from my sad, unhealthy and pricy breakfast options at work. One morning I was desperate for a healthy breakfast but didn’t have time to make my own, so I went to our cafeteria and got some oatmeal with berries, banana and cinnamon (thinking it would be a decent option). It tasted like the cardboard container it came in–blech. Hence, overnight oats are genius! And so easy.

This particular recipe features a spice called cardamom. Until recently, I had only associated cardamom with the delicious, doughy, sugar and cinnamon-laced bread my mom would buy us for Easter. However, it turns out that cardamom has some powerful healing properties. Traditionally it’s used in Indian cuisine, and is also a staple in Ayurvedic medicine. Its benefits range from aiding in digestion and detoxification to improving blood circulation, protecting against cancer, fighting free radicals and more. It’s also quite tasty.

I’ve come across a bunch of recipes for overnight oats online, and decided that I understand the general idea enough to kind of freestyle my own recipe. Here’s what I came up with:

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Ingredients

1/3 cup organic extra thick rolled oats

1 tbsp chia seeds

3/4 cup almond-coconut milk blend

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla powder (or 1-2 drops vanilla extract if you don’t have the powder)

2 ‘shakes’ of cardamom (more or less depending on how much you like the taste)

2 tsp stevia

1/2 cup mixed berries/fruit (I used frozen blueberries, raspberries and tossed in a few frozen peach slices)

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Directions

1) Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and pour into your favorite glass jar.

2) Let it sit in the fridge overnight, and enjoy in the A.M. <3

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