Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Natural Skin Cleanser--great for moisturising and deep pore cleansing

Two simple ingredients.

Oil (Safflower oil, olive oil, vegetable oil, etc.)

I used Safflower oil or olive oil and those work great.

Sea Salt


 Sea Salt and Oil Cleanser

Pour a few tablespoons of oil into a glass jar.

Then add a generous amount of sea salt.  A few tablespoons or so as well.

You'll be able to tell if you need a little more once you mix it up a little bit.

Then shake it up in a circular motion, with the lid on and you've got your natural granulated cleanser!
Use this cleanser 3-4 times a week. 

Things Ive noticed while using this cleanser.  I have had large pores for years now and I've noticed that after using this mixture, they've been shrinking and closing up.  Also, what I like to call my occasional "underground pimples" have begun to either surface and clear up or go away on their own.  The sea salt allows for exfoliation and a thorough cleanse deep down in your pores.  The oil smooths and conditions your skin once you've used abrasion and exfoliation.

Note:  While using this cleanser, you will have put in more of an effort to rinse off your face with water and then gently dry your face with a towel, absorbing any excess oil.  The results are very worth it!  Younger, smoother, and dewier looking skin! (:

Costa Rica's Pura Vida; Live a Healthy Pure Life

Over Thanksgiving break, I was in Costa Rica for 8 days with 20 of my family members.  We were there to simply reunite, relax, bond, and enjoy!  We surfed everyday, went zip-lining, visited several different beaches and surfing spots, and just hung out.

It was truly the trip of a lifetime.  Our houses we rented were literally in the jungle and walking distance of the ocean.  The food there was so unprocessed and fresh; it was incredible!  We ate a lot of fish, eggs, chicken, fruits, vegetables, minimal red meats, and things low in sugar.  It felt like such a cleanse.

While eating these foods all week, I felt better and more energized.  It just confirms that we really are what we eat.  If we eat the good stuff, real unprocessed foods, we feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally.

This trip was like a retreat for the heart, body, mind, and soul.  I bonded with many family members whom I don't get to see that often, got to spend quality time with close loved ones, and got to be spiritual and at peace with the world.  I encourage all of you to take time out of your day or week to really be present in the moment with your friends and family and to just live.  Eat real foods; they make you feel better.  And stay active!  Do some sort of activity everyday.

Not everyone gets the luxury of surfing daily or even partaking in hiking and activities like those, but go for a walk, get your heart rate up, and practice yoga. Take time to relax and meditate.  Reflect on all of your blessings and appreciate the things you already have. 

Viva una pura vida!  Choose to be happy.  Happiness looks good on everyone and radiates around you.  People like happy people because it makes them feel happier.  So be happy (:

Monday, November 18, 2013

Find a happy place & make time for yourself. (Finals are around the corner)

Make time for yourself. (This is especially important during times of high-stress, where you feel like you don't have a lot of time). 

I wound up in the ER a couple nights ago because I felt like I was having a heart attack.  Turns out it was Costochondritis, which basically means my chest walls were super inflamed causing major chest discomfort along with other symptoms.  I think it was at least half stress-related.  I've been very busy with my studies and work that I barely had time to breathe.  I suffered the consequences later when I was literally not able to breathe well.  After all of that happened and I was released, I told myself I would start making time for myself, just to download, to relax. 

So on Sunday, I went for a run/power-walk and went to a spot in the forest that I like to go to when I want to just sit and think or not think at all.  I didn't bring my phone so I was disconnected from technology and distractions.  It was a great opportunity for me to reflect on life and meditate.  For me, when I am surrounded by nature, removed from the fast-paced world we live in, I can finally breathe and things start to become much clearer.

I love to sit there and take in all the beauty or sometimes I write poetry, listening to the sounds of the leaves rustling, or the wind blowing through the trees.

Later that evening, I stretched and watched some of my favorite TV shows and began to feel much calmer and at peace with myself. 

I seriously suggest to you all that you take time for yourself to unwind from your busy life and just live.

So even throughout your busy days, take an hour or half hour at least to read a book, take a walk, sit in the forest, dance, work out, stretch, do yoga, meditate, take a bath, light some candles, write, catch up with an old friend you haven't talked to in ages, call or Skype your family, or do whatever makes you happy and relaxed for those moments.

It's amazing how doing these things can really reduce your overall stress level. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Benefits of healthy sleep

I'm currently taking a class called Sleep and Sleep Disorders and was reading a section about sleep in terms of good health and longevity and thought I should share some important advice with you all.

While exercise and diet are extremely important for living a long and healthy life, studies have shown that sleep might actually have a greater effect on longevity than diet and exercise.

There's enough things that we as humans do to take years off of our life that we need all the sleep we can get! If you're in college and have a big exam or project coming up, don't make it a habit to always pull all-nighters.  It's best to do a little bit every day to stay in the school mode as well as get a good night's sleep!  This can be difficult sometimes during finals time, but your performance and mood will suffer if you aren't getting enough sleep.

Healthy sleep strengthens your immune system, promotes tissue growth, increases vitality and may increase longevity. Sleep deprivation leads to risk for diseases, colds, or the flu, impairs the immune system, and your mood and happiness will be directly affected.

Your body requires 1 hour of sleep for every 2 hours that you're awake.  When you are awake throughout the day, you are acquiring sleep debt.  If you were to get one less hour of sleep than you need for 8 days straight, you have now acquired 8 hours of sleep debt that your biological clock keeps track of.  This needs to be repaid or you'll be hurting your physical, emotional, and mental health and performance. 

The take away: Get a good night's sleep regularly.  Of course there are exceptions, but be sure to repay your sleep debt!!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Delicious salads

I am by all means NOT a huge huge fan of salads, but I've been on a salad kick lately and am learning to love them. 

On this post, I'll show you some great salads that are super delicious.

 Make your own chopped salads!

What to chop:
  • tomatoes
  • lettuce
  • onions
  • cucumbers
  • cheese
  • chicken breast
Add a little dressing and toss it up! 

Try a tomato bean salad!

What's in it:

  • green beans
  • grape tomatoes
  • yellow tomatoes
  • soy beans (edamame 
  • yellow beans
  • a light dressing

Chicken ceasar salad

  • Lettuce
  • chicken breast
  • shredded parmesan cheese
  • ceasar dressing 
 Also really great to put all of these ingredients into a wrap! 

Homemade spinach salad with chicken

  • Baby spinach leaves
  • chicken breast 
  • balsamic vinnaigrette

(Similar to the salad right above this one)

Spinach, mozzarella, chicken salad

  • Baby spinach leaves
  • fresh mozzarella cheese (Bel Gioioso is a great brand)
  • chicken breast 
  • balsamic vinnaigrette 

Very fresh taste!  My boyfriend loved it when I made this salad for him and that's saying a lot since he is all about meats, pastas, etc.  

The Simple spinach salad

Just 3 ingredients + dressing!

  • baby spinach leaves
  • fresh mozzarella
  • chopped roma tomatoes
  • dressing

Tomato, chicken, Spinach salad

  • baby spinach
  • grillen chicken breast
  • tomatoes
  • dressing 
Have fun experimenting with different variations of these healthy salads that taste great! 

This salad is one of my absolute favorites and it's from a restaurant from where I work, Sophia's:

What's in it:

  • Romaine lettuce
  • grilled chicken breast
  • roma tomatoes
  • cucumbers
  • onions
  • almond encrusted goat cheese
  • orange ginger vinnaigrette 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Live carefree and manage your stress (:

Stress causes premature aging and is not good on your health!  Not only can you make yourself physically sick from being too stressed, but also stress does nothing for weight loss.

Some tend to eat too much when stressed while others tend to eat too little when stressed.  Neither of these habits is good for you.  

Stress also can also cause headaches, fatigue, insomnia, and if stress is not managed it can increase your chance of having a heart attack and can contribute to diabetes, weight gain, and high blood pressure. 

Find the balance in your life.  Do what makes you happy and do it often.  Find your passions and indulge them.  Make a summer bucket list and actually set out to do those things!

Take some time off for you.  Read a book, give yourself a manicure or pedicure, take a walk, cook your favorite meal, have a Netflix marathon, spend time with those you love, go for a hike, hit up the pool, or simply sit outside and enjoy the beauty of nature.   

Living a healthy life is not just about being physically healthy, but it's about taking care of your mental and emotional health as well. 

Choose to be happy. 

Some things on my Summer Bucket List so far:

Plan a float trip
Go on nature hikes through caves and cliffs at local State Parks
Go camping
Record another acoustic cover
Stay in shape
Learn how to cook more recipes
Read a more than 2 books
Spend time at the pool and the beach
Do something nice for someone
Make some crafts
Go wake boarding again 
Go boating

Feel free to share any ideas for things to do this summer with everyone in the comments section! 

Friday, May 10, 2013

If you're going to be on campus all day...

Pack healthy snacks or see what the best options around campus are.

 Some student centers or cafeterias have really great food options on campus.  If you are low on cash however, make a wrap or pack some snacks.

Examples of easy to make zip lock bag snacks:
  • thinly sliced apple with orange and lemon squirts on the slices 
  • banana with peanut butter in the middle 
  • granola with raisins and coconut
  • nuts (peanuts, almonds, etc.) 
  • carrots or broccoli and a bit of ranch
  • apples and peanut butter
    • I used to do this all the time in middle school and high school
    • One zip lock bag for the apple slices and one for a couple scoops of peanut butter
Other great things to pack:
  • a banana
  • an orange
  • granola bar (Nature Valley is good or Nutrigrain) 
  • a wrap
Orzo salad (left) and Naked smoothie drinks (right)

Shells and cheese with green beans sauteed in onions and garlic

Other great food options we have available on Mizzou's campus: sushi, salads, fruit cups, veggie salads, etc.

Pinterest has a bunch of great snack and recipe ideas which I'll be posting later on, but click here for the link to my recipes board.

^^ Note: not all the recipes and food ideas in my Recipes board are necessarily healthy and there are a lot of dessert ideas on there too, but regardless I think you guys will enjoy! 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Fat doesn't make you fat, sugar does.

So I recently watched the documentary Hungry for Change, which is on Netflix by the way (I recommend that you watch it), and it preaches what I feel about diets and dieting.  Plus, I learned quite a bit myself. I want to share with you what I learned and the truth about dieting, sugar, diet pills, and eating artificial foods. 

Diets set you up for failure.  Up to two-thirds of people gain more weight after they're off the diet than when they started the diet.  The weight loss is always temporary

You can consume tons of calories in a day and still be starving your cell.  Ironic huh?  Well that's because many foods we eat today have a high caloric weight that provide immediate fats and calories, but lack nutritional value.

Not supplying your body with proper nutrition will create health problems later on. While it's true many Americans are overfed, they are starving inside for nutrients.  Breads and sugars for example, trick your body into thinking that it's full and getting enough nutrients, when in actuality it is not. 

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is in most cereals, tomato-based sauce, ketchups, applesauce, spaghetti sauces, barbeque sauce, soft drinks, fruit drinks, breads, & yogurts (even organic).  Fructose corn syrup is highly addictive and will make you crave more sugar and fructose.  It can change your brain chemistry and attract you to foods that will lead you down a path to obesity. 

Eating corn is fine because it is in its natural state for consumption.  Natural fructose found in fruits, sugars, vegetables, and honey is very different from HFCS.  While these are natural sugars, HFCS is a highly concentrated form of corn syrup.  HFCS adds to glucose levels in the body and increase cholesterol levels.  While both corn syrup and HFCS are both harmful to the body, corn syrup is definitely the lesser of the two. 

I took the liberty to give you some examples of cereal that do not contain high fructose corn syrup in them because I am all about my cereal in the morning.

These do not contain high fructose corn syrup:

  • Cheerios 
  • most Kashi brand cereals 
  • regular Life Cereal and Cinnamon Life cereal
  • most Nature's Pride Organic
  • Shredded Wheat
  •  Dare Vinta Crackers
  • Milton's (most)
  • Nabisco Original Triscuits
  • Pepperidge Farm Goldfish
  • Amana Multi Grain Bread
  • Aunt Millie's Old Fashioned Butter-Top Wheat
  • Brownberry's Arnold Natural Health Nut Bread
  • Country Hearth 12-Grain Bread
  • Dave's Killer Breads
  • Earth Grains 100% Natural 7-Grain Bread
  • Nature's Own 100% Whole Wheat bread (other varieties do contain HFCS, but not this kind)
  • Nature's Pride
  • Open Nature Bread (also contains no trans fat) 
  • Pepperidge Farms 100% Natural Blend
  • Pepperidge Farms Whole Grain Wheat Bread
  • Rudi's Organic Bakery Buns
  • Sara Lee Soft and Smooth 100% Whole Wheat
  • Tandoori Roti/Naan breads
  • Vermont Bread Company breads
  • Wheat Montana bread/rolls
  • Motts All Natural Applesauce
  • Jiff peanut butter
  • Hellman's Mayonnaise 
  • Annie's Natural Organic Honey Mustard
  • Trader Joe's Organic Maple Syrup 
  • Breyer's yogurt
See more varieties of food that does not contain high fructose corn syrup--> Click here.

Another dangerous combination is caffeine and aspartame.  This combo kills brain cells.  Diet Cola is a product that utilizes this chemical combination that causes an immediate feeling of fulfillment and that it's the most fulfilling thing you've ever had.

Foods that contain aspartame:
  • breath mints
  • diet Soda
  • most yogurts
  • many cereals
  • flavored water
  • powdered drinks
  • sweeteners
  • chewing gum
Artificial sweeteners are not as good as you think they are.  These unnatural sweeteners cause carbohydrate cravings and weight gain. "Fluffy" carbohydrates turn into sugar and everyone needs to expand their definition of what is a sugar.  Examples of these fluffy carbohydrates: rice, pasta, waffles, pancakes, breads.  Again, check the labels.

Yes, I know all of the above foods are very hard to avoid, but eating less of them and more of the good stuff will make all the difference! One main thing that Hungry for Change harps on is adding more of the good stuff into your diet versus avoiding all of these foods.  One reason for this is so when you reintroduce some of these foods, your body will gain weight back, but by eating healthy and in moderation while adding more of the good stuff, you'll begin to crave more and more of the healthy stuff.  It will become a lifestyle that you are willing to make.

The take-away advice: 

So don't treat creating a healthy lifestyle like a diet where you only eat certain foods, eat less, and cut out main food groups completely.  Instead, add more fresh vegetables (filled with tons of chlorophyll that helps cleanse your body) and eat more fruits, lean meats, and watch out for eating too many foods containing HFCS and artificial sweeteners.   

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Squat challenge... Anyone up for doing it with me?

Starting today or whichever day you read this will be day 1 for you.

Here's the plan.  Do sets of squats for three days then take a day of rest.  For the first day, do 50 and each day after that add 5 more squats.  Make sure to not let your knees pass your toes when squatting and keep hydrated!

The breakdown:

Day 1-50 squats
Day 2-55 squats
Day 3-60 squats
Day 4-Rest
Day 5-70 squats
Day 6-75 squats
Day 7-80 squats
Day 8-Rest
Day 9-100 squats
Day 10-105 squats
Day 11-110 squats
Day 12-Rest
Day 13-130 squats
Day 14-135 squats
Day 15- 140 squats
Day 16-Rest
Day 17-150 squats
Day 18- 155 squats
Day 19- 160 squats
Day 20-Rest
Day 21- 180 squats
Day 22- 185 squats
Day 23- 190 squats
Day 24-Rest
Day 25- 220 squats
Day 26- 225 squats
Day 27- 230 squats
Day 28-Rest
Day 29- 240 squats
Day 30- 250 squats

Let's get our booty's in shape for bikini weather! Who's with me?? Feel free to comment below!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

All-fruit smoothies

Smoothies are a great snack to make that is filling, delicious, and gives you that extra boost of energy! For my smoothies, I use all fruit and that's it! Adding a bit of plain yogurt will give it a creamier texture if you prefer and will still make for a healthy smoothie.


Strawberry Banana

You can use 1 banana and 5-6 regular sized strawberries.

Strawberry, Banana, Pineapple

  • Use 2 bananas
  • 4-5 strawberries
  • 3-4 square cuts of the pineapple (they're strong so be careful not to put too many in there)
This will make about a cup (:
+ Mangoes


Mango Strawberry or Mango Banana are other combinations that are awesome as well!
  • Use fairly equal amounts of mangoes and strawberries, and mangoes and bananas.
+ Raspberries 

Try Strawberry, Banana, Raspberry also!
  • Use 1 banana, 4-5 strawberries, and a handful of raspberries.

The "low down" about different types of fats

Everything is okay in moderation, but keep this in mind:
Saturated Fats: These fats clog arteries, increase cholesterol, and tend to lead to health problems.  What types of foods contain saturated fats?
  • animal products: meat, dairy, poultry, etc.
  • cheeseburgers
  • onion rings
  • french fries
  • corn dogs
  • hot dogs
Eating more foods with monounsaturated fats can actually reverse the damage of foods high in saturated fats.  

Foods that contain monounsaturated fats that you should eat more of: 
  • olives, Olive oil
  • avocados
  • peanuts, peanut butter
  • almonds
  • macadamia nuts
  • dark chocolate
These foods, especially nuts are great fitness foods to eat before working out!

Try adding some nuts to your salads or pasta and use avocado in your sandwiches.  They add extra flavor and will help your body to not store as much of the saturated fats from the other foods.

Of course I'm not saying never eat onion rings or french fries, but do so in moderation and not in excess.  Make sure you eat plenty of the other foods to counteract and reverse the fried foods/saturated fat foods' effects.  

Some of the recipes I've already put on here in the "Creating healthy and filling meals..." tab on the March history include avocados and other super healthy foods you should eat more of!  Stay tuned for more recipes that include these types of foods, as well as great smoothies to make that are easy, filling, and fairly cheap to make!

Any questions, concerns, or requests on future post, don't hesitate to comment! I love hearing from you guys and your successes/struggles/suggestions. (=

Monday, April 8, 2013

*Natural* skin care that's cheap (great tips for dry/sensitive skin types)

Over the years, my skin has become much more dry on a day to day basis so it requires different methods of upkeep.

  • wash your face twice a day: morning and night
  • moisturize
  • occasionally exfoliate
  • take your make up off before passing out 
  • be careful of certain products for certain skin types 
Natural, cheap skin care tips that work great! My skin has never looked so dewy and fresh!


Aveeno Soap Bars: It's a great moisturizing cleanser that actually isn't soap! It's hypoallergenic, dye-free, and fragrance-free, made with natural oatmeal for a soft cleanse.  It's all natural and great for dry or sensitive skin! I have both skin types and also deal with rosacea and this has worked great for me.  It's only $2.99 and is worth the money to keep your skin happy.  I suggest also getting a soap holder/container to keep it clean.  (shown in the pic)

Lemon: Instead of using a harsh salicylic acid topical acne treatment, try squeezing a bit of fresh lemon on the pimple region.  Also cut the lemon in half and glide it along your entire face to use as a toner.  Leave on for a few minutes then gently rinse off.  It's amazing how well it works and again, it's all natural and cheap! I'd rather buy a lemon than spend a fortune on topical acne med's that eventually stop working and are not the best for your skin. 

 Moisturizing Skin Cream: this one is an off brand that works great for me! Look for these specific things on the label: moisturizing, hypoallergenic, and vitamin E.  It really makes the difference and my skin has never felt so dewy and soft.

Apply the cream after washing your face or after you've rinsed off the lemon toner.

If you used the lemon as a spot treatment for pimples that night before going to bed, just moisturize around those areas.  Wash your face again like normal the following morning. 

& try these other natural skin care ideas that work great!
Especially good for dry/sensitive skin types (below)

Greek Yogurt Mask: Use plain Greek yogurt as a facial mask.  It's natural, cheap, and doesn't dry out your skin.  Great for when you are at college.

Avocado or Olive Oil: both of these can be used to help with dryness overnight.  Apply some to the face before going to bed.  


Wash your face twice a day: This helps to keep your pores clean and reduces your likelihood to get pimples.  Avoid cleansers that make your skin feel tight after washing or sulfates.  Use an oil free/oil control to wash. 

Exfoliate: 2 times per week.  Salicyclic acid is an ingredient you want to keep your eyes open for.  This active ingredient helps control acne. 
 Great natural exfoliates:  Sugar, sand. 

Use a toner:  Use the toner all across your face after cleansing. This helps restore your face's natural pH balance. 

Use serum not a moisturizer: Too much moisture will actually make your skin produce more oil.  If you are really oily, use once a day and if you are sorta oily, use serum twice a day.  This will give your skin a nice natural glow. 

Use sunscreen: Things like heat and UV rays especially irritate oily skin.  Speaking of heat, if you have oily skin, never wash with hot hot water.  Try instead a lukewarm temperature. 

Steam:  Steaming your face can be beneficial if done once every to every other week.  It opens up  your pores and cleanses deep into the pores, also releasing excess oil. 

Clay masks: These are really good for people with oily skin.  I've seen and used one that uses clay from the dead sea and it works really well.  My skin used to be really oily and a mask once a week or every other week makes the difference. 

Banana Mask: Mash up one banana, combine with 1 tablespoon of honey, and add a few drops of lemon juice.  Apply to face for 15 minutes and gently take off with a warm or cool washcloth. 

Tomato Mask: Use 2 ripe tomatoes, blend them together and apply to face. (avoid the eyes!) Leave on your face for 15 minutes then rinse with warm water.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Stretching, it really does wonders

Stretching has many benefits.  It reduces stress, helps with the natural flow of your internal systems, helps lengthen your muscles and keep the tissues healthy, helps with flexibility, circulation, balance, as well as helps with lower back pain.

Taking ten to fifteen minutes to stretch every day really helps your body and joints stay limber.  It is also a great way to prevent injury.  In addition, I've found that stretching before and after my workouts has actually helped me not to bulk up from certain exercises.

So take the time to stretch after your workouts, it really pays off and leaves you feeling less sore! There are also stretches that are exercises as well and tone your body like you would not believe! My mom teaches a stretch class where she incorporates ballet floor workouts which both stretch your muscles and create long and lean muscle tone.  I'll post some of these later!

Great stretches to do everyday
  • (on the floor) 
    • reach your arms up and over while reaching for your toes
    • straddle your legs, reach your arms up and over your center keeping your back as straight as possible
      • next, reach up and over to one side aiming your nose to your knee then do the other side
    • lie on your back, hug your knees to your chest and rock side to side
    • on your back again, take one knee, pull it up towards your chest.  Then while keeping your torso facing forward, use your opposing hand to pull your knee over your body and try and get it as close to the ground as possible.  Do the next side the same way
    • Do all of these and you'll be feeling ready for the day!
Also, I used to have fairly bad lower back problems and honestly, between stretching on a daily basis and strengthening both my core and back, I am pain free to this day (that is unless I re-injure it or forgot to stretch after a strenuous workout).  I'll share some of these strengthening exercises that are helpful to cope with lower back pain and problems. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Go for a run!

Start your day by going for a run or a jog!  It is one of the best exercises to stay fit and is great for burning calories!  Did you know that running burns more calories than swimming or rowing?

Even at a lower intensity, one hour of running/jogging can burn between 450-600 calories.  It's different depending on weight- there are calculators for that online.

Benefits of running/jogging:
  • great for the cardiovascular system
  • maintains an overall toned body
  • builds stamina and endurance
  • great exercise for weight loss
  • burns tons of calories
  • reduces stress

Things to keep in mind before/while going for a jog or a run:
  • wear good supportive shoes when running on concrete
    • running along the beach in sand is great too and that can be done barefoot if you prefer
  •  keep hydrated! 
    • if you feel your mouth beginning to dry up, stop and take a few sips of water
  • music always helps pump me up
    • make a playlist and pick a fun, scenic neighborhood to jog through-it's more enjoyable
It was 72 degrees today and slightly overcast so it was the perfect weather to run in, but on colder days, I'll hit up the rec and will use the track.  I get bored with running sometimes so I prefer to go outside somewhere rather than running around a monotonous track with no destination.  On those days, music or a running buddy is a must!

When you're working out at the gym, try and incorporate running or jogging around the track for 20-30 minutes as a warm up.  Don't forget to stretch!

If you are doing an at home workout, try going for a run a few times a week around your neighborhood to switch it up from the track.  

One more thing for the ladies-

Don't be afraid to sweat! It's great for your skin, so wash off the makeup and break a sweat when running or working out!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Some general fitness tips

In this post, I will share with you all tips about how to maintain a healthy physique.  There is a way to stay fit in college and still go out and have a fun time.
  • Drink a lot of water everyday!! 
  • Aim to work out at least 4-5 times a week for about an hour
    • weight-bearing exercises are great for building healthy muscles, weight loss, and keeping that metabolism up 
      • weights with ab exercises
      • weights with arm reps
        • ladies- you don't need to use more than 10-15 lb weights 
        • it's more about the reps, rather than the lbs
        • the more weight you use may bulk up areas that you wish to keep slim
    • cardio is great for your heart as well as keeping your metabolism going
  • Diet is key! Keep in mind all of the tips and meal ideas I've been posting about
    • I can't stress how important eating a well balanced, healthy diet is for keeping a slim, toned body
  • Eating your meal after you work out is the best because your metabolism is up from the exercise and will begin to burn the food as you eat it 
I will post specific exercises targeting different areas that have worked for both me and my friends so keep checking back with me! Any questions, concerns, comments, or request a topic for me to post about let me know!  

Monday, April 1, 2013

For those of you who are lactose intolerant

I would first like to say,  I feel your pain.  After drinking a bit of the water in Mexico on a spring break trip my junior year of high school, I became lactose intolerant for three years.  I still to this day, struggle with certain pure dairy products.

In this post, I will share with you some alternatives to dairy products and the truth about how much dairy we really should be consuming anyway. 

As far as milk goes, I still cannot drink a glass of 2% milk without minimally getting an upset stomach.  I stick to skim and that seems to work fine after all these years. 

I am a big fan of cheese and I always wondered why sometimes cheese made me sick, while other times I'd be perfectly fine.  This is because certain cheeses are actually naturally lactose-free.  Most hard or aged cheeses like cheddar, swiss, or moneterey jack are lactose free.  Check the labels on these because some contain small amounts of lactose, but there are manufacturers that make lactose-free versions. 

Lactose intolerance can be a funny thing.  It can last for years, months, or a lifetime.  You can pick it up later in life and then grow out of it. 

Good alternatives for milk: where you are still receiving nutrients and vitamins
  • Lactaid brand lactose-free milk 
    • check the labels for vitamin D and other nutritious values
  • Almond milk
    • good option for baking
  • Coconut milk
  • Soy milk
Solution to eating ice cream, cheeses, etc: 

Lactaid pills: allow you to eat dairy after taking one.  Click the link *Lactaid* to see what this stuff looks like.  You can find it over the counter at most local pharmacies, Walgreen's, Wal-mart. 

Check cheese labels.

There are also non-dairy, lactose-free cheeses made from soy that mimic mozzarella, cheddar, and monterey jack cheeses.  You can find these substitutes at organic food stores and places that sell almond and coconut products. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Creating healthy & filling meals for breakfast/lunch (pics)

Below are some healthy meals/recipes for breakfast and lunch on a typical day.  I just recently began photographing certain things that I make.  I will continue to do so to encourage everyone to take the time to cook and create healthy meals.

Just taking the time to cook something for yourself throughout the day is much better than always going out to eat or running out to the local fast food joint for a snack.

Below are some healthy, easy-to-make meals:

Tomato Mozzarella Sandwich

What's in it?
  • fresh tomatoes (any kind will do -my favorites are roma tomatoes and grape tomatoes)
  • fresh mozzarella cheese
  • salt, pepper
  • one thin slice of salami
  • fresh basil leaves 
  • English Muffin Toast

Great lunch idea! Or breakfast, if you do not enjoy typical breakfast foods.  Really easy to make!
Chicken Wrap and Fruit 

What's in the wrap?
  • freshly made chicken breast (cooked with a bit of water in the sauce pan and sometimes a bit of garlic salt on either side.  (no butter needed) 
  • lettuce
  • 1 tsp of Ranch dressing spread out on the wrap
  • cheese
  • one slice of bacon (optional and used occasionally) chopped up 
  • chopped up onions
  • good wraps to choose from: green veggie wraps, flour tortillas, whole wheat wraps, etc.  
    • It's not too big of a deal which wrap you use, sorta just depends on your preference.  
Turkey, Avocado, Tomato Bagel 

What's in it?
  • freshly sliced tomato
  • sliced avocado 
  • two thin slices of peppered turkey
  • cream cheese on half of the bagel 
  • bagel

Triple Salad Lunch 

What are all of these? (from top to bottom right to bottom left)
  • Tomato Mozzarella Salad (homemade)
  • Pesto Tortellini Salad with peas
    • (made at Caputo's) 
  •  Chicken nut Salad (made at Caputo's) 
Very filling and lots of different tastes going to give you the energy you need throughout the day!

Below are some healthy meal options if you are at a restaurant for breakfast/lunch:

Caprese Benedict (Substituted with egg whites)
(University Club in Chicago)

What's in it?  
  • English Muffin
  • beefsteak tomato slices
  • basil
  • buffalo mozzarella
  • egg whites
 Delicious, healthy meal for brunch! 

(All photos taken via my iPhone)
Sicilian Egg White Scrambler (Egg Harbor)

What's in it?
  • Three egg whites scrambled with
    • spinach
    • tomato
    • onion
    • & topped with
      • oregano
      • Parmesan
      • low-fat mozzarella
  •  served with a wheat English Muffin & fruit
Very filling and satisfying! 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Coconut oil & alternatives to butter (for cooking)

Coconut oil has many uses that are beneficial to your health.
  1. Eating a teaspoon before you eat breakfast boosts your metabolism and supports healthy thyroid function  (click here for more uses)
  2. It can also be used on girls with extremely dry hair as a conditioning treatment overnight.  I actually just did this last night on the ends of my hair
  3. Can be used as a chap stick, lotion, facial cleanser, eye make-up remover, soap bar, etc
  4. Can be used to cook and bake with (replacing butter)
*Coconut oil does not store as fat, but gives you a healthy boost of energy to start off your day!

Butter is fine is smaller amounts, but when cooking or baking, there are other healthier alternatives to butter.
  • Canola Oil or Vegetable Oil for cooking and baking
  • Olive oil for pastas, breads, etc.
  • Mashed avocado (for cookies)
Agave nectar can be used as a natural sweetener or syrup and actually tastes delicious!
-The cooks at Rancho La Puerta don't use any sugar in their meals, just agave! You can taste the difference, but once you get used to it, you won't want to go back to sugar.

Questions, comments, feel free to ask them by posting below!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Good eats & not so good eats

Making subtle changes to the way you eat is another step in the right direction toward developing a healthier lifestyle.

I'm not going to sit here and tell you that it's all about eating less or cutting out foods completely because that's just no way to live.  However, I am going to share with you some helpful tips about how food is processed and how often we should really be eating certain things!

Eat lots of these:
  • lean meats
  • poultry (chicken, turkey) 
    • your body digests poultry in a day so this is a good food to eat
  • fish
  • fresh fruits
  • fresh vegetables
  • wraps
    • will include recipes for some really delicious, healthy and easy to make wraps later on
  • salads (boring, I know, but there are ways to make a healthy salad delicious)
    • I will also include some recipes later on with some homemade dressing ideas as well
  •  eggs
    • if you eat a lot of eggs, try taking some of the yolks out
  • oats and whole grains
Eat less of these
  • ice cream
  • red meats 
    • red meats take 3 days to digest, so if you're eating red meat on a daily basis, your system will become clogged and it will be hard to maintain a healthy weight
  •  fried foods and fast foods
    • something I didn't realize and learned the hard way:
      • Ramen noodles are deep fat fried.  Even eating one packet without the seasoning packet is not very good for you
        • There was a time period where I was eating these a lot because it was quick, cheap, and easy to make, but certainly not worth what it did to my body 
  •  bread
    • you don't need to cut it out completely, but if you eat it on a daily basis or every other day basis, make sure it's whole grain, potato bread, honey wheat, or multi-grain, even sourdough is better than bleached white bread
If you've started the water challenge, you'll begin to know when you actually feel hungry.  Keep it up and take this information into consideration when preparing your daily meals.

Breakfast: fill your breakfast with grains, protein, and carbs for energy.  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and starts your metabolism to begin burning calories for the day.

Lunch: protein, fruits, veggies, wraps, etc.  Keeps your body nourished and continues that caloric burn.

Dinner: lean meats (occasionally red), fish, chicken, poultry, fruits, veggies.  Eating past 7/8p.m. is not something you should do on a regular basis.  Your body does not have time to digest all of that food before you go to sleep for the night.  It's healthiest for you to eat before 7p.m.

Feel free to post comments, questions, or anything below! 

Monday, March 25, 2013


Drinking plenty of water everyday is the best way to maintain a great physique, avoid overeating, and keeps your system from becoming clogged.

Drink at least 9-10 glasses of water per day, including one when you first wake up.  It replenishes your body after a long night's sleep and helps with digestion.

Most of us are not aware of how dehydrated we are on a regular basis.  When you are feeling hungry in between meals or an hour or so after a meal, you might just be thirsty.  Instead of reaching for that pop can or bag of chips, drink a glass of water instead and see if that helps.  If you are actually hungry after that, go ahead and make a snack.  Regardless, drinking extra water throughout the day is great for you!

We are made up of 70% water, so drinking a ton of water on a daily basis, especially when we first wake up, is vital.  Water is essential to keeping all of our body systems functioning correctly.

Today's challenge: Try drinking a glass of water whenever you first wake up.  Drink 9-10 glasses throughout the day as well, but if you're not an avid water drinker, at least start with the morning glass of water and drink 8 glasses a day!  Once you're used to that, you'll be able to drink a couple more glasses.  I promise you that after several weeks of drinking more water, it seems unnatural not to drink so much and you may even start feeling the effects of dehydration.

 Questions, comments, feel free to ask them by posting below! 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Eat Breakfast!

Want to kick-start your metabolism and boost your energy throughout the day?  There's a simple solution really.  Eat breakfast!

Eating breakfast not only gets your metabolism going, but is also a way to start off your day with a healthy mindset.  If you eat a bowl of Coco Puffs, you'll be less likely to make healthy choices later on in the day.  If you chose to have a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats with freshly sliced strawberries or bananas, you're much more likely to choose healthy lunch and dinner options.

Fill your breakfast with protein or carbohydrates or both!

Great breakfast choices:
  • Bowl of healthy cereal with skim milk (skim milk has the same amount of vitamins as 2%, but less fat.  As you get older and if you drink milk with greater frequency, skim is definitely the way to go!)
    • some cereals that I love:
      • Raisin Nut Bran
      • Toasted Oatmeal Squares
      • Rice Krispies
      • Cheerios
      • Life
      • Honey Bunches of Oats
  • Oatmeal with apples and cinnamon- very filling and delicious
  • Scrambled egg whites with cheese on an English muffin--gives you your protein and carbs
  • Veggie egg white omelet 
    • I like to make mine with freshly chopped onions, cheese, tomatoes, and green peppers
  • Scrambled cheese eggs and onions in a whole grain wrap
 Also, drink a glass of water before breakfast when you get up every morning.  It helps to flush everything out and also aids in starting your metabolism.  After fasting all night, your body needs nourishment, although many of us don't wake up hungry right away.  Drinking that glass of water helps you to feel ready to eat even a small breakfast within 30 minutes or so.

Questions, comments, feel free to ask them by posting below! 

Fresh Foods Vs. Pantry Life Foods

Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is key to eating a healthy, balanced diet.  Let me clarify one thing very early on in this blog.  I do not believe in diets nor do I think they rarely work.  People tend to go on these "diets" and long term cleanses" and eventually fall back into their old habits, gaining twice the weight back.

In order to maintain a healthy weight and a toned physique, one must develop a healthy lifestyle.  Diet plays a huge role in staying fit.  Although, exercise is equally important.  Not just to stay looking good, but exercise allows for your metabolism to work properly and keeps your heart healthy!

When you are grocery shopping, aim to purchase at least 85-90% fresh foods.  By this I mean load up on fruits, veggies, meats, poultry, eggs, yogurts, and fresh cheeses.  Stay away from foods with a long "shelf life" as much as possible.  (i.g. cookies, oreos, chips, fruit snacks, nilla wafers, crackers, chocolate, treats, ritz bitz cheese, etc.)

These are great quick snack foods that can substitute "pantry life snacks":
  • Apple with natural peanut butter
    • Buying Smucker's all natural peanut butter vs. Skippy or Jif makes such a difference and it's the same price!
  • Sliced green pepper with hummus 
    • hummus is made from chick peas and is really good for you
  • Chips and Salsa or Chips and Guacamole
    • An even healthier substitution would be to dip green peppers or vegetables in the salsa or guacamole
  •  Bananas
  • A smoothie made with all fruit and ice if you prefer a more icy and diluted taste
Although there are some foods that have a long shelf life that are great to include in your diet such as oatmeal, granola, cereal, whole wheat pasta, etc.

Stay tuned for some great recipes that are easy and cheap to make, but taste great and are nutritious!

Questions, comments, feel free to ask them by posting below! 

Saturday, March 23, 2013


I cannot express how important it is to develop a healthy lifestyle early on.  I will be sharing my knowledge about eating a balanced diet, tips about staying youthful, exercise tips that are completely doable and will give you the best body for your body, and ways to stay happy overall!

I went to Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico last May and it really got me back on track.  I will post more about this later, but basically it is a health spa vacation spot where many families go to spend a week of wellness, health, fitness, and spiritual reflection.   

I am a college student and wish to encourage other college students and everyone else to dedicate themselves to living better.

For the college students: There is a way to eat right on a "poor college student budget" and still go out and have a good time.  All it takes is desire, a little time management, and commitment, and I will show you how.

I would eventually like to write a book with all of my tips for college students in particular when it comes to maintaining a healthy life and staying fit.

Stay tuned! 

Please feel free to leave comments and ask me questions!