Saturday, August 6, 2016

My College Girls Tips & Tricks: Staying Healthy While Away from Home

This one is for all you college goers out there - mainly for the incoming freshman, but also for those who are away and still trying to find there way. Navigating through the dining hall or the college town supermarkets all alone can be very intimidating. I'm here to help you narrow down your options and give you confidence along the way. You could be like me and stock your dorm room with pop tarts, Quaker granola bars and slim fast shakes (yep that was me for a brief moment in time)...OR you can CHOOSE wisely, prepare and stay focused throughout some of the best years of your life!

When it comes to food choices it can get very overwhelming so just don't over think it. Stay simple. Simple from the Earth foods in their natural form (fruit & vegetables), simple ingredients (the less ingredients the better), ingredients you can pronounce and most importantly water, water water!

Some general helpful tips for being away at college:

  • Stay away from soda & energy drinks - they're not good for you and they don't actually give you energy. Drinking water can fuel your body naturally and help you stay focused when caffeine is fogging your brain during late night cram sessions.
  • On that note, invest in a new water bottle. Preferably one that keeps your drink colder, longer such as a Tervis or S'Well. The price might scare you, but you can't beat their shelf life, they're good for the environment and my guess is you're more likely to drink cold water throughout the day if its available. Am I right?
  • Take a daily probiotic. Again, they may seem a little pricey for a college student, but they pay for themselves when you're not having stomach aches or not at the doctors (as many new college students get sick being away from home) getting a prescription med for some air borne illness you contracted - yuck! Probiotics provide healthy bacteria for your gut (aka stomach) to thrive in a not so healthy lifestyle such as college. The more strains in the capsule, the better. Over 20 billion is best but I'm a big believer in that something is better than nothing. So if you take only 1 pill a day (with 10 billion) than you're on the right track.
  • Stock your (mini) fridge wisely. Its not just for beer. Yogurt, water, sparkling water, fruit (bananas, apples, carrots, cucumbers), protein bars (see below), etc. All these quick go-to snacks will be readily accessible when you need them so you don't find yourself eating one more bagel and cream cheese sandwich while running across campus to your morning class after you overslept (guilty!).
  • If you do drink coffee, make it count. Don't order it with milk (milk is NOT good for you beyond popular belief) or added sugars. A simple coconut milk latte or plain black coffee with a splash of almond milk creamer would be a better choice. These won't weigh you down, literally, and the caffeine might help you jump start your day. Any bottled caffeinated drink is a no-no. It will not help you in any way and will come back to bite you in the ass - I promise.
  • Get moving! Get a fit bit, take a walk, join a gym, start spinning, practice yoga. Running is my happy place, my meditative state, my "me-time". Find something that fuels your soul and stick with it. Being away from home can be tough, but finding a place that makes you happy will help you thrive. When you eat well, you feel well. When you feel well, you move well. When you move well, you will be well. Its a beautiful cycle of survival.
  • Remember that it takes while to form a habit, especially good ones. Take your time and know you are already ahead of the game if you're even reading this. Something will stick. No one is perfect, but we can all work together to promote a healthier community.
  • Finally, Call your mom...She misses you!

Some simple suggestful on-the-go snacks:

  • Lara Bars - Cashew Cookie and Blueberry Muffin are perfection.
  • Kind Bars - made with almonds and dried fruit.
  • Almonds - raw is best, but added sea salt is delicious and will do!
  • Cashews - whole and raw are best, but they have many flavored types that are supper yummy. 
  • Popcorn
  • Fruit - whole fruit in its natural form is best. 
  • Veggies - This is a tough one for college students, but if you can throw in spinach once a day on salad or grab carrot sticks on your way to class a few times a week you're on the right track.

Those dreaded (or beloved) dining halls:
First and foremost the portion sizes are out of control. This is not the time in your life to have to eat everything on your plate. Make sure half (or even more than half) of you plate is veggies whether its in salad form or plain steamed vegetables and the other half protein. Don't be scared of carbs, but there are ways to choose the right ones. Whole grains, nuts and seeds are excellent ways to round out your meal and keep you fuller longer. Watch out for the dressings. Creamier isn't always better, but also watch how much you're putting on your plate. 1-2tbsp will do and thats it! Forgo the cheese as well as croutons, won-ton strips, tortilla strips, etc. They're not necessary and you won't even miss them.

Another wonderful tip for food choices is to not restrict yourself of anything, but rather continuously add new things to your plate. Our palettes change (aka evolve) as we grow and something you may have shied away from or not even liked a few years back could be one of your new favorite foods at this point. Sometimes all it takes is trying it in new form to fall in love. Take my kids for example, some are great eaters and others are terrible, but I always tell them to at least try it and then if they don't like it they don't have to eat it. Veggies can be cooked in so many ways - raw, steamed, broiled, sauteed, grilled, and so on. Each form tastes a bit different as well as the seasonings you put on them. You need to find YOUR flavor and I promise you'll learn to love veggies for the way that they taste and most certainly for the way they make you feel!
Drinks of Choice:
Water, water water. If you've ever started eating poorly and seen more acne pop up in and around your face it could be a number of things - hormones, too much dairy, lack of sleep, or it could be NOT ENOUGH WATER. We should all be drinking way more water than we think. If you figure it in terms of your body weight (b/c everyone is different) then try to drink your body weight in ounces. For example, a 125lb girl should aim for 125oz of water a day. If you break that down with a 24oz water bottle then you should be drinking about 5 full bottles a day. Very doable and a great challenge for yourself!!

I'm a coffee drinker so I can't fault someone else for being one, but if you're not- do not start. Green tea is where its at. Flavored with lemon you've got your caffeine fix AND you won't be addicted to the #1 drug in the world. Coffee also lures you into the added sugars, syrups, and massive sizes that are unnecessary to sustaining a healthy lifestyle.

If you're of drinking age and are reading this my #1 tip is stay away from fancy cocktail mixers which are loaded with sugar and stick to a clean drink of vodka, club soda + lime/lemon or a light beer. You'll appreciate this advice each Saturday morning when you're not nursing a sugar hangover. Oh, and don't smoke. Its just disgusting and terrible for your health. (My PSA for the day).

OK, so those are just a few of my tips for the day. I hope it helps you in your journey of life and know I'm behind you cheering you on every step of the way!

Monday, April 11, 2016

I'm learning to be tired...and thats ok!

Hi!

Its been a while...so lets chat!! As you can see I basically skipped 2015 - where does the time go?? I've been thinking about you all and even talking to some of you "offline" and everyone seems so great. I'm great too, but just a little bit tired. So there it is. Not sure if it ever goes away and probably takes on different forms throughout our lives, but I took a bit of a "nap" over this past year. All for good reasons!

In my world of one husband, and 8 yr old, 6 yr old, 4 yr old and 6th month old...I'm tired. Period. And yes, you read that correctly, I have a 6th month old baby girl! It's been some time since I've last posted and lots has happened. Good, bad and better 💗. I've missed you!

Ms Taylor Ann was born in October 2015 and completed our family - she's amazing. Weighing in at a whopping 19lbs (at 6 months, not birth) we love every roll and chubby cheek this girl has to offer. She's sleeping like a champ, rolling over, eating food - obviously, and smiles all day long.

So basically I'm learning to embrace being tired instead of trying to fight it. Fight it with that second (or third) cup of coffee, or those dreaded girl scout cookies (and all other sugars in my pantry). My arch enemies. Alcohol still helps... Don't get me wrong. Girls nights and date nights are a necessary and important part of parenting and a cocktail is just what I need sometimes at the end of a hard day. What I would do without them?!? But I wouldn't trade this life for anyone others so why wouldn't I embrace being sleepy every so often. Lie down when I need to (easier said than done) or let the laundry pile up - who cares. My 6 year old wears dirty clothes anyway (thats a whole nother blog post..ugh).



(I wish I could nap like that)

What I'm getting at and why I'm writing this post is that I think sometimes you just have to slow down. It's how we keep ourselves healthy from the inside out. Yoga has done that for me. I've always loved yoga but never been able to implement that much in my life because i've always had a hard time slowing down. I like to run ...that's always my thing. Getting out on a trail and just running to music is something I look forward to each and every day. But with four kids it also can provide me with much unnecessary and unneeded exhaustion. I was waking up at 5/6am at some points to go running before the kids got up. Yoga has been a savior for me. At least once a week now I've been able to take some me time I just slow down and breathe. Its provided me clarity that I don't need to exhaust myself in order to feel better (aka sweat it out). Yoga is my naptime, my downtime, to slow down and take a moment.

Think about what babies do when they're tired..they take a nap. It's their much-needed rest to wake up smiling and happy again. We need to find what takes us to that place in our own self so we can wake up with wide eyed and be happy. So this past year I was able to take my nap, figuratively speaking. Just taking time for myself and enjoying my family trying to embrace my pregnancy, and delivering a beautiful baby girl this past October! I feel so much more whole and complete. Try not to stress about the small stuff and take each day as it comes. It's really helped me. I don't live up to other people's expectations... Only my own. And so should you! If life gets to be too much or you have to much on your plate remember you can always ask for help or just take your "nap". I promise you'll feel like new again very soon 💗

Monday, September 22, 2014

Art Party: Grace is 7!

So every year as September 19th is approaching I tell myself we're going to do something simple for my little girl's birthday. Well, when you have a daughter like Grace nothing is simple. She is so creative and certainly knows what she wants. Each year she comes up with a theme (in July!!) of what she would like for her birthday. My only leverage is that if I'm able to pull off the party she wants at home - that's what we'll do.

My mom always threw my birthday party at my house growing up and it was one of the best memories I have as a kid. Although I love the ease of having it somewhere else - no prep work, no additional hired help, no clean up, no goody bags, no staying up late to ice cupcakes at 12 am.  It must be something in me I crave, like an upcoming deadline at work (see, I'm a SAHM so this is my job and these are my type of deadlines). One drawback I will mention when having it at home is having to limit the number of friends due to space and help/assistance issues. You never want to bite off more than you can chew and at home you need to make sure you have a good handle on things so no kid is feeling left out. I tried to limit it to 10 kids total, but by the time we including the birthday girl and her siblings we were up to 14...yes, fourteen, Yikes!


Anyway, this year Grace wanted to do something with Art. She loves Art & Horses at this point - her two loves as she would say. So with the help of Google, Pinterest, & the craft store we came up with Grace's Birthday Theme! The kids will paint their own canvas, decorate their own cupcakes, and of course have alot of fun. Genius!





I set up the party in two 1 hour shifts - first shift was Canvas Painting where each girl got a blank canvas and with the help of Crayola Neon Washable Paint was able to make a masterpiece to take home. They seemed to really enjoy creating their own personalized take-a-away. After everyone was done the girls went outside to play (shift change) to play, jump on a moon bounce, and make silly faces in a characterture drawing made with love by myself and my artistic sister, Kelsey (shout out). Must be where Grace gets her crafty side from :)


While the girls were outside tiring themselves out on this gorgeous day I was changing the table into shift #2- Cupcake Decorating. When discussing this idea with mommy friends that I was going to do this I was given a fun idea to use painters palette to serve the cupcakes on. Each girl sat down to their very own cupcake decorating station with endless options of candy, sprinkles, icing, and of course laughter to see who could build the biggest cupcake. It was adorable! One girl even tried to shove the entire thing in her mouth (although not recommended, it was pretty funny). And all mommy cared about was that Grace was having a good time with her friends. And she was!



Alongside a goody bag of silly string and a Crayola Paint Palette, each girl was sent home with their very own canvas - painted by them. Party was a success and Grace felt like a very lucky girl.

Happy birthday sweet girl! You'll always be my first baby and its a blessing to see you grow. I am super proud of you and who you have become. Love you to pieces! xoxo

Thursday, September 4, 2014

True Confessions: How my Blog began?

People ask me all the time how this blog started...and honestly, it was simple. I had a passion for nutrition, life, and my family and I wanted to share it with others. I've tried very hard over the past 10 years to create a happy and healthy life for me and my family. You can always read my very first post which describes a little of how it all begin or read about our family motto. I didn't know where to start, but through trial & error, reading and asking many questions I have found this blog to be a place of comfort. Somewhere I can share a little part of me, with you.

I'm passionate an dedicated to all things health and want others to know eating well does not have to mean you have become vegan or cut out everything you love. We all have our own triggers (gluten, lactose, caffeine intolerance) which we need to recognize. Have you ever heard "listen to your body?"...it might actually be telling you something you NEED to know. Don't ignore it.

Health is an overall awareness of yourself, what you're eating and what you're feeding others. Now, with kids, it can be a little tricky, but we've found ways to incorporate the best nutrition with "normal" kid foods and flavors they love. Our family isn't perfect, we love our burgers and ice cream just like everyone else. We just might eat turkey burgers with sweet potato fries or that ice cream I mentioned only on special outings or occasions. That is where my blog began - as a place for people who were interested in how I nourish my family to come and not make me feel like I was preaching to you. I've said before, I'm not a doctor, but I know enough to know what I should/shouldn't be putting into my body. And I'm learning more and more everyday -I love it!

It makes me happy when my girls want to cook with me in the kitchen or grocery shop and want to choose a new veggie or fruit to try. That is what its all about - trying new things together and figuring out what works for you.


My family is the most important component of my life, they come first. Their health and happiness is why I get up in the morning and be the best mom and wife I can each day. This blog is to enhance the well being of our family, not to take away from it. Any gaps you see in my blog posts are due to me taking some time off to spend more time with the kids (typically over the Summer when they're all home or when we have a new baby and life just shifts). Life is good right now, we're all happy & healthy. I count my blessings everyday.

XOXO

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day Book Give-A-Way!!

Happy Labor Day!!!




Choices: Nutrition Life & Love is doing a give-a-way and I want YOU to win! Log onto our Facebook page for more details....  Good luck!

xoxo

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Q & A with Holli Thompson: Discover Your Nutritional Style

Hi There!!

So I recently had the pleasure to interview someone I admire greatly. Her name is Holli Thompson and her guidelines and teachings for a Healthy Lifestyle are ones that anyone can follow or adapt to. They'e simple, easy, and delicious. Below are some of the questions that I had for her that might help all you other mamas out there too! A little food for thought...

Kristen: I can honestly say I could not put this book down - it is so well written and the photographs are insanely beautiful. What can people expect from Discover Your Nutritional Style?

Holli: It’s been called an informative guide, a bedside reference, and also funny. I like the funny part! I believe that this way of eating is a life changer, for many people. There’s a difference between doing something like eating for your Nutritional Style some of the time, and doing it consistently. That’s the big take-a-way. I also advocate for joy, and fun, and some leeway. Stress surrounding our food isn’t healthy either! 

Kristen: I firmly believe that everything and everyone comes into your life for a reason and hopefully teaches us something along the way. What’s the most important lesson you want people to take away from your new book?

Holli: That you need to take care of you. Begin there, and the rest will follow. You’re an individual, and what works for your skinny bff may not be what works best for you. Explore your own path, discover what’s unique about your body, then make it a lifestyle. That’s the key. 

Kristen: On the other hand, what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned through writing this book?

Holli: Writing DYNS allowed me to dive deeply into what I was seeing and hearing in my own practice. It forced me to hone down to what women were really saying and doing with their health; what worked and what did not. It also allowed me to address modern society’s influence on us, and how so many women are pressured to try what’s trendy, without really knowing their own body chemistry. So a huge piece of this is freedom and empowerment; I hope to empower women to forge ahead with knowledge to create their personal Nutritional Style. 

Kristen: I have three young children (ages 2 through 7). How would you guide moms, like me, to easily implement good nutrition into our children’s daily lives?

Holli: I would begin with seeking out organic foods, at all costs. Pesticides, growth hormones and antibiotics used in livestock feed, are all harmful to growing children’s bodies. Emphasize fruits and vegetables, in their whole form. The rule is our house is, fresh produce at every meal. Breakfast might mean fruit in my son’s protein smoothie, or sautéed spinach or fresh salsa with his eggs. Besides that, if your child has chronic infections, or sinus/allergy issues, you might want to look at food intolerances. My book explains how to approach that topic. 

Kristen: You mention in your book how “life is busy, we’re all busy”. What would you tell those who are scared to take that leap of faith - whether it be in life or with their health because they feel there is no time?

Holli: Forming a new habit takes time, but once it’s part of your lifestyle, it becomes routine. Hold onto that. In the same way that I make time to wash my hair, or go to barre class, I make time to pick up organic produce, or learn a few easy meals that will suffice a houseful of boys before I would order pizza. Try to make one change at a time, and be diligent about it. Then move on to your next. 

Kristen: I’ve always believed nutrition is your best medicine. Can you explain why it’s so important that people listen to their own bodies and not just doctor’s orders?

Holli: Depending on what type of doctor you are using, they may or may not know to ask about your food. During years of suffering from inflammatory issues my doctor did not ask me what I was eating. Your food affects everything, and knowing and really getting that is the first step. I’ve seen small changes in food choices create huge improvements in health. 

Kristen: I see big things happening for you - you are smart, kind, funny, but most of all relatable. I can see myself through your words and you make health & nutrition seem so accessible. What are your aspirations for this book?

Holli: I want to sell millions of copies, and reach as many people as possible. I believe the book is relatable, and attainable. My message is simple at its’ core, but requires dedication to change, in small, do-able steps. I want my book to influence and help heal. I want to alter mother’s choices, so that kids will grow up with better habits and greater knowledge. I want to give women executives and entrepreneurs more energy and balance, so that they can live happier lives. 

Recent events have taught me; life is short, live it feeling as good as you possibly can. (see more)

Kristen: Who has been your biggest influence in the world of Health & Nutrition? 

Holli: While I am a fan of many health influencers, I have been influenced most by my own learning. That’s the message here, learn the basics, what to avoid, (those bad boys that I outline in my book) and discover what works for you, personally, in an honest way. Influence yourself, and take care of yourself. 

Nobody else knows you, like you!


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Discover Your Nutritional Style: Book Review!!

Discover Your Nutritional Style: 

Your Seasonal Plan to a Healthy, Happy & Delicious Life


Order your copy today! Use Code: CHOICES for 20% off!

I'm in awe..

In a few years everyone is going to know Holli Thompson's name. You cannot possibly read her book and not fall instantly in love. She is highly relatable and her concepts are smart and simple. One of the reasons I started this blog was to share the most amazing things I came across and want to share with all of you. This book is one of those things!!

I think of Holli as my kindred spirit - although she'll describe her path to good nutritional style as a story of raw medical issues and undiscovered intolerances, mine was more of a personal choice to discover better nutrition when I got pregnant with my first child. I didn't grow up with the knowledge of why we eat food, and how it all works together (if chosen wisely).. Holli's book makes me smile because its all I've ever wanted to share with others and yet her extensive knowledge on the topic peaks in my core to learn more. I could not put this book down!

Throughout her book she describes eating for the seasons - seasonal produce which would mean organic and in season to fuel your soul (and tummy, of course). In her seasonal descriptions she made me want to ride a bike in the Spring, wander in fields all Summer, make soup in the Fall and cozy up under a blanket in the Winter. Each season provides us with nature and nutritional leads we can take advantage of if we so choose. The bounty of fruits & vegetables available each season should be your eating guide. I never really thought of that before. Yes, of course I always take advantage of whats in season, but we certainly have our staples. Holli is right, if its not in season and it comes from miles away...is it really still that nutritious for us. The answer is no, not really.

Holli also uses the word "choice" often in her book, which I love for obvious reasons. She reminds you all the way through her Nutritional Style coaching that it ultimately is your choice as to what you eat, how you move, and how you approach this. She is here to guide you all the way through if you allow her...but that is a choice you have to make! Her excitement about food is something I can relate to - from planning my daily meals to searching for new recipes on Pinterest. I can't get enough. She takes you on a year-round journey of health. Even through the dreaded holiday season.

Her Holiday Recovery section will have you encouraged and ready to conquer December gatherings like a true champion...no more winter blues and seasonal depression. You'll take her words of advice and use them as motivation at your next holiday party!

My Review: Must have book of the season! Nutritional Bible, easy read, deliciously descriptive. Not a tell all, but more of a how to. Fall in love with Holli. She'll become your food friend and guide without ever having to leave your home. This book will change you life for the better. I can't wait to share it with my friends and family...you will love her just as much as I do!


No gimmicks, no fads, no diet, just simple eating from the Earth and she'll teach you how Mother Nature is our guide and how to listen to our own bodies. No two digestion systems are alike - we all need to take care of ourselves. For a sweet-tooth like me her Banana Nut Ice Cream recipe is insane and her Famous Creamy Cauliflower Soup is going to be a staple on my dinner table this Fall.

She teaches you about herbs and not only how yummy they can be,but also helpful in fighting diseases and inflammation. And you don't have to be diagnosed with arthritis to have inflammation...most people don't even know they have it until they start taking care of it. I would like to move away from the over the counter anti-inflammatories and aspirins and focus more on proactively taking care of our systems from the inside out.

She gives you recipe ideas, meal plans for your nutritional style, and even all natural beauty regimes you'll want to try!