Friday Fitness week #7 – Superfoods and Super Moves!

Superfood – a nutrient dense food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.

These power punches are rich in compounds such as antioxidants, fiber or fatty acids that increase energy and vitality. Many have been labeled with the ability to regulate cholesterol and blood pressure with the consideration of fighting cancer and other diseases. Wow. Really think about that. Fights cancer and other diseases! We hear that all the time but do you believe it?

Imagine a world full of colorful edibles verses white pills or chemical therapy? The poor pharmaceutical companies (to be said with sarcasm) would go out of business if the symptoms they’re paid to mask are taking care of by clean eating, proper hydration and Superfoods.

I could write several posts on that topic, but I’ll keep it light by inviting you to include more miracle foods in your diet. It’s easier than you think!

List of the 2019 top ranking Superfoods!

Water (It’s my # 1!)

Papaya, Pineapple, Mango

Apples, Kiwi, Grapefruit, Oranges

Black Raspberries, Blueberries, Pomegranate seeds

Broccoli, Carrots, Brussels Sprouts, Sweet Potato

Spinach, Arugula, Kale

Seaweed, Wheatgrass

Garlic, Onion

Ginger

Avocado

Brazil Nuts, Walnuts, Almond milk

Hemp seed

Coconut oil

Brazil Nuts, Walnuts, Almond milk

Hemp seed

Dried Mulberries, Goji Berries

Peppermint, Parsley, Cilantro

Tumeric

Green Tea

Honey

Tart Cherry Juice

Spirulina

Dark Chocolate

Salmon

Sauerkraut

Lentils, Oatmeal, Buckwheat Pasta

Fish oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Yogurt

To get the most benefit of your superfood, combine at least 2 per meal and enjoy daily!

Musíca!

My challenge this week is so much fun! If it be 2-step, hip hop, ballet or just good ol’ clubbin…. turn on some tunes and move!

Dancing does so much for the mind, body and soul! From elevating the heart rate to releasing endorphins that send happy little vibrations throughout our body that say, “Be happy and thrive!”

Many sports and workouts require training for strength and proper technique before fully engaging in the activity. Dancing? Nah. It doesn’t matter if you’re the next contestant on So You Think You Can Dance or the main character in the next clip on America’s Funniest Home Videos, you can still do it… so do it!

I’ve been so fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to dance around the world. Only naming a few would start with nights clubs in Amsterdam, Costa Rica, California, and El Salvador to live shows in Germany, Trinidad and on a boat in Barbados! I was even lucky enough to jam out at a Alicia Keys concert in Japan and at the Foo Fighters in Argentina!

Have more time to read? Interested in info on other nutrition and workout suggestions? There’s 8 weeks of ideas by clicking here or scanning through the right column of this page to find other Fitness Friday posts!

Categories: Edibles!, Fitness, Fitness Friday’s!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fitness Friday week 6 – Mindful Eating!

Lets recap the last 5 weeks of our Fitness Friday’s.

In week 1 I introduced the long forgotten, calorie burning, toosh tightening and heart pumping friend called the stairs. We partnered this with portion control and the beauty in being conscious of how much and what you’re actually eating.

Week 2 brought a game of Pick-Up-Sticks in which we labeled popsicle sticks with different workouts that are placed in a jar. This little set up encourages you to pull one out and get on it! The nutrition thought of that week was to keep your food as close to its original state as possible!

The dirty secret of Aspartame was revealed in Week 3 along with its side effects and my challenge to avoid it for 7 days. Hopefully you felt better! During those 7 days I reminded us of the cheap and easy workout of walking. Go for a long walk or simply park farther from the front door, but get your feet moving!

After attacking the Aspartame challenge, we set out to limit all sugars in Week 4. It’s amazing how sweet whole foods can be when the processed junk is eliminated from our taste buds. For the physical challenge, I linked you to a convenient workout link from Self.com

Week 5 brought attention to something we all have, posture! I truly hope most of you gave a valid try to at least be more aware of how you stand, sit and sleep… it makes a difference! This post was also about food prep, the simple task that makes eating healthy so much easier.

This week I want to discuss hunger. We think we know what it is, where it comes from and how to cure it…. but let’s look into it a bit deeper.

Webster dictionary says hunger is a feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat.

What does hunger feel like? For most of us, you have experienced at least one or all of these symptoms; Fatigue, hunger pangs, nausea, irritability (aka “hangry”), headache, emptiness and difficulty concentrating.

What causes hunger? The obvious answer is lack of food. The deeper answer might get you thinking before you take your next bite. All of our senses can trigger an idea of hunger, some examples:

Sight – “I wasn’t hungry until I saw that crepe!”

Smell – “I know we just ate lunch but that Cinnabon smells so good!”

Sound – “Is that popcorn I hear popping? Scrumptious!”

Taste – “Didn’t think I could eat anymore until I tasted the coconut cream pie!”

Touch – “It’s so hot out, ice cream would be so cold and yummy right now!”

Even if we’re not in need of more nutrients, the above examples show how we can deceive ourselves into believing so.

Our brain is also a powerful helper in convincing us that we need food, if it be a memory, association, the simple thought of a food or most common… emotions.

To sum up an awesome book I read called Mindful Eating, there are 5 types of hunger. If we can distinguish between them, our relationship with food will become healthy and more clear.

Here are the types of hunger we have all experienced:

Mouth hunger – maybe you call it a sweet tooth or craving, no matter what you title it, this doesn’t mean you’re hungry.

Stomach hunger – notice if you’re stomach is full or not after each bite.

Heart hunger – are you eating from sadness, memories or emotions?

Mind hunger – you KNOW if what you’re about to eat is from hunger or desire, so ask your head, “should I eat this?”

Cellular hunger – to be aware of what the food is doing to your body on a cellular level. The way a brightly colored fresh salad might feel compared to a tan bun with a brown hamburger inside. What it takes to filter a sugary drink compared to the hydration you get from pure water.

Now since you know the different ways our body can be triggered into thinking (or truly being) hungry, here are 3 questions to ask yourself at 3 different times. You’ll ask the following before you take your first bite, again in the middle of your meal and once more at the end.

1. What type of hunger do I have? (Review the 5 types and find the one matching yours. This will better help decide a healthy decision.)

Fun fact: my husband and I will openly say, “I’ve got mouth hunger!” This occurs most often during a Netflix night or a road trip.

2. Will eating help meet my hunger? (Am I full or just continuing to eat for social, emotional or boredom reasons?)

3. What type of food, if any, would best satisfy my hunger? (Is another bite worth it and if so, is this specific bite of food what I need?)

So there you have it friends. Quite a bit of food for thought (pun intended). If this topic intrigues you farther than my blog, please take a look at the book. It’s an easy read that introduces a fresh way of connecting to what fuels your body.The physical challenge for this week is basic but brilliant! Add a set of reps of anything to your daily routine. Make things that don’t usually belong a new part of your habits. Examples:

-10 squats every time you go to the bathroom.

-20 pushups when you get out of bed and 20 more before you go to bed.

-50 jumping jacks before you turn on the TV and 50 more when it goes off.

-Stand on your toes while doing the dishes or brushing your teeth.

-Hold a plank while you’re scanning Facebook.

-Throw in some crunches before every shower.

Those are just a few examples but feel free to fill in your own numbers and actions. You’d be surprised how you’ll feel at the end of the day!

Categories: Edibles!, Fitness, Fitness Friday’s!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fitness Friday week 5 – Get up, stand up!

It’s been 4 weeks! You knew it was coming, another transformation photo! Even if you don’t think there’s a difference, I still encourage you to snap the pic. Sometimes it’s hard for us to see a change but over time it’s apparent. Pregnancy is the perfect example. I never wanted to take the growing belly selfies, but with a gentle push from friends I did and I’m so thankful! Looking back at those weekly shots in the post The Most Selfies I’ve Ever Taken, I now see the progressive changes that I wasn’t recognizing on my own.

If the reason you don’t want to take another photo is that you haven’t been putting forth much effort, then great, let this be a fire under you hiney to get back to it!

This week we’re going to talk about posture.

When your ankles, hips, shoulders, and head are lined up comfortably one above the other, your posture is correct. Your knees should not be locked, but slightly bent and your feet should be shoulder width apart.

I found this clever image that helps identify where you might be falling, or standing rather.

Why is posture so important? If you ask any chiropractor or physical therapist, they’d say “good posture means good health”. It allows your joints to work properly without unnecessary pressure where it doesn’t belong. It maintains muscular strength in the areas that decrease pressure on nerves. The list goes on including simply looking better… healthy and alive!

I’ve been amazed at the difference I’ve felt when focusing on my stance. I did it this past week and I’m actually sore from it! A good ache of course, soreness from contracting muscles to keep my spine straight, especially between my shoulder blades. After being pregnant and now a new mom, I found myself slouching as if I was still carrying pounds of baby in front of me.

It’s harder than it sounds to keep conscious of your posture. Most of you have probably corrected your posture while reading this and a good majority of you will forget about it before the end of this post.

This week I challenge you to be fully aware of your body, head to toe. When you’re cooking, working at a desk, holding your baby, standing in line at the store and even sleeping!

So how we’d do with last weeks challenge? No processed sugar was to be consumed and hopefully forgotten about… ha… ha… ha. I give myself a B+ considering effort, environment and temptations declined. The Sunday after I posted the challenge, we went to a “Candyland” birthday party. What’s funny, is nothing there was my favorite kind of sugar. It wasn’t like there was a Rice Krispie treat cake or chocolate covered nuts, however I still found myself being tempted by the flavors that were offered. I admit I nibbled here and there and regretted every bite that wasn’t worth it, which was all of them! Lesson learned.

Moving on.

This week is all about the food prep. No matter what diet you’re on or nutritional plan you follow, being prepared is always helpful. The number one thing I hear when this topic is brought up is time. It’s time consuming to get out the tubberware, chopping block and utensils to dice up your fruit and veggies. And who has spare minutes to cook up your protein and separate it all for the week? You do.

When you want something bad enough, you make it happen!

I personally enjoy it, I guess you could call it my kitchen therapy. I pour a glass of wine, pull my hair back and turn on my favorite music (or if I really want to nerd out, I’ll turn on a health documentary or cooking show). Then I lay out all of my ingredients and all of the storage containers and prep away! I intended on doing this and snapping all the pics from my own kitchen, but then I woke up and it was today, Friday. For the sake of all you that love visuals, me included, here are some beautiful examples I found.

If you’re not up for organizing full meals, start with just preparing a few containers of cleaned cut fruit and veggies. Something you can reach for in a hurry or in a “must snack now!” moment. If you open my fridge you’ll usually find celery sticks, sliced cucumber, other veggies and cleaned fruit ready to be eaten. I don’t know how many times I’ve gone into the fridge with major mind hungry (meaning in my head and not in my gut) ready to devour the first thing I saw. Due to convenience, I’d just grab a veggie bag with maybe some hummus, mashed avocado or bean dip.

What if you don’t eat all of your prepped veggies before they start to turn bad? Throw them in a skillet and you’ve got dinner with rice, roll them up in butterleaf and now you have lettuce wraps, toss them in a little oil and roast them at 400 until they’re crispy.. oh so good! My recent favorite trick is to throw them in a blender after being cooked (in anyway) with some seasoning and nut milk. Heat and eat like soup or dip with crackers. Yum!

This weeks homework:

1. Every moment you consciously think of your posture, fix it! Did you already forget?

2. Make time for one session of treating yourself to stocking the fridge with prepared fresh food. You’re worth it!

3. Take the next transition photo. Deep breath, you can do it!

4. Remember that fun little workout we recorded on week one? Do it again and see if there’s any improvement in your numbers.

Set a timer for 1 minute and count how many pushups you can do. Then again for squats and burpees. Even if you do 4 and the rest for 30 seconds and do 4 more, just keep attempting for the entire 2 minutes. Write it down and store away with that glorious photo you just took.

Wrapping up our lifestyle changes so far:

1. Use the stairs every chance you get!

2. Stick to the single serving amount or less.

3. Play with pop-cycle sticks and actually use them!

4. Consume products that are closest to their original state!

5. Avoid artificial sweeteners found in most sugar free products.

6. Walk as much as you can at every opportunity!

7. Clean out your system of sugar, stick with fruit!

8. Pick 3 workouts a week and give it all you got!

9. Food Prep! Make it easier to make better choices.

10. Keep you posture in mind. Good posture, good health!

Categories: Edibles!, Fitness, Fitness Friday’s!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Well Bless Your Heart

So there I was, Shanti with a full diaper and giving me the hunger cues. Like most airport bathrooms, the line was out the door with a stretch of women holding an impatient fake smile. I squeezed by everyone with hope in finding a spotless changing table with our names on it. Let me prep this with informing you that it would be my first changing-table experience. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it’s obvious when seasoned moms are on their hundredth changing-table routine, one hand here, sanitary wipe there, here a diaper, there a leg, all while balancing the edge of a broken hinge with a knee. I was up for the challenge until I rounded the corner and saw what I was working with. A dirty table with a woman already gagging her way through it with her little one. I could have stepped up and done the same but I’ll have to be honest with you, I wasn’t in the mood to battle it especially with a dozen women standing there watching. Chicken. So at this point, I have no choice but to join the herd in line and comfort Shanti to the best of my ability.

We finally got to the front and I see the size of the claustrophobic mini stalls in which I doubt we’d both fit in with her car seat in hand. I wave the others on as I patiently wait for the only large stall offered. Finally! It opens.

I got to the end and closed the door. I laid out my makeshift sanitation station on the ground and don’t have the guts to lay her there, so on my lap it is. I semi successfully get her clean and in a new diaper when she starts back in with the hunger signs, an excited whimper, not yet a cry and the side mouth reach. Trying to prevent her full on hungry holler, I get out my boob and she latches quickly as if she’d gone days without food. Typical.

Less than a minute into it, I hear a conversation outside the stall. A young woman says, “M’am are you waiting for this one?”, the answer comes from a fragile petite voice directly outside my stall that says, “No, I’m waiting for the large one. I can’t use the toilet without a handrail”. I hopelessly gaze at the handrail I was resting my knee on as Shanti gulps away.

“Are you waiting for my stall M’am?” I ask, selfishly hoping there was another one I wasn’t aware of. “Yes, yes I am”.

So with Shanti still devouring her lunch, I packed up my mess on the floor with one hand and proceeded to shove it under the door with one foot while attempting to cover her head with my free hand (just in case there’d be someone offended by my half breast). I open the door and hip bump it open and smile at the ancient woman waiting for us. She smiled back with the sincerity of someone who had been there, done that and truly appreciated my effort.

Then she said the one line that all southerners have said or heard at least one time in their life, “Well bless your heart”.

She went about her business and there I was, my back physically against the back wall with my diaper bag at my feet (half packed and spilling over), her car seat at my other side and her in my arms with no clue of the episode.

I looked up to find every single eye in the room locked in on the free entertainment I had been providing. I’d like to think I gave a confident stunning smile back at the crowd but in reality it must of been a squished eyebrow of wishing I could just disappear. I put my focus back down on Shanti and as I was wrapping up, a kind voice walks by me, leans in and says, “You’re doing a great job momma”. This small sentence gave me the encouragement I needed to gather my things, snap my shirt and waddle to the sinks with baby in arm, diaper bag over the shoulder and the car seat swaying from my lose grip.

Note to all humans: Take time to be kind, you never know how a few words can change an entire day for someone.

Fast forward to the end of the trip. 2 flights, no fits and a journey that’d I claim as a success for a solo parent and a 2 1/2 month old. I fed her on the final landing to help her ears pop and gave myself an imaginary pat on the back knowing she was never in discomfort nor did anyone on the flight know there was even a baby on board.

As I’m leaving the flight we got all kinds of kind comments on her cuteness, my bravery (as if millions of others had never done this) and “such a good baby”! As we walked through the terminal I continued to get smiles, except now they were a little awkward. I was so high on mom mode that I didn’t think into people’s expressions as my final goal was to collect our things and find daddy outside waiting for us. It wasn’t until I sat down to strap her into the car seat that I glanced below and realized what everyone had been smiling at while trying to avoid staring at. Call me genius over here, but I never zipped up the breastfeeding flap on my hoodie! Luckily I had a bra that matched, but hello… it’s still open and goods were hanging out.

To give you a visual, below is the exact sweatshirt I wore on the flight with the same zipper flap open. I’d like to think every mom has a photo like the one below! (Thanks to my mother for snapping this nap time pic).

You can imagine the exhaustion driven laughter I tried to hold back as I zipped up my shirt, tucked her in and moved along. What a day.

Here’s a quick video I shot right before we left the terminal. Our happy little (75 day old) girl after a thousand mile road trip and an entire day of flying. What a champ!

Categories: Baby Talk, Not-so-happy trails, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Friday Fitness week 4 – Carmel fluffa mocha Frapajazz

We’re heading into our 4th week! By now you should be feeling a difference, even if it’s in your head, a shift is always a boost of encouragement… and if you’re just now joining us, welcome!

I’ve been successful at the walking and stair climbs! Our little girl has been growing and becoming more aware of when moms not around so last week I thought, meh, why not take her with me? So at 5am I strapped her in and up we went! Below is the view from the top, that’s something to work for! The selfies are us before and after the climb, clearly she really wore herself out being my workout partner!

This week I challenge you to 3 separate workouts, none of these require a gym, tons of time or much of anything besides a little effort and some motivation. Click here to see your options on the workout page of Self.com. There’s an uncountable amount of choices that range in difficulty and the time needed to complete them. So pick 3 (and actually do them) within the next 6 days! I brought my phone to our little local gym and followed one of the workouts (that I could actually achieve with my kangaroo holding on). Although it’s adorable, I didn’t push myself to the max… next time I’ll leave her with daddy.

Last week I brought up the not-so-secret health risks of Aspartame with the promise to do more research on other competitive artificial sweeteners. After scanning dozens of websites ranging from claimed scientific facts to general public opinions, I fell upon a blogger that said it best. Wellnessmomma has hundreds of health related articles but this one was spot on.

One of her bullet points really struck home with me because I know I’m guilty of falling into the “trick”. She stated, “Studies found that ingesting artificial sweeteners can interfere with the signal loop and can cause over eating. One study found that (in rats) eating foods or drinks that are sweet but contain no calories tricks the brain into thinking that they should keep eating”. Even if you’re consciously aware of this, it doesn’t stop the chemical reaction in your brain. Over time, your natural ability to taste real sugar and know when enough is enough slowly diminishes. Scary but true.

I once did 30 days with no sugar and minimal salt. Limiting myself to only vegetables, beans, grains and nuts with small portions of fruit. By the end of that month, celery was salty to me and a mango was barely edible due to sweetness. I finally understood the people I’ve always been jealous of… those who could have one bite of chocolate and call it good for dessert…. you know the ones, “I don’t really have a sweet tooth” blah blah blah (eyes rolling here).

I’ve come to the conclusion that if you want something sweet, eat the real stuff in moderation. Why not enjoy the pure richness of a true treat rather the gut filling large quantity of a fake one. A scoop of authentic gelato verses a mixing bowl of sugar free ice cream or a piece of your favorite dark chocolate verses an entire sugar free candy-bar. You get it, so try it!

This week in the nutrition department, I’m going to wrap up the whole sugar/sweetener debate. Personally I’d rather take on the calories from a sweet bite of real food, than challenge my body to the chemically modified, questionable ingredients with the risk of long term illness and side effects. However if you must inch over into the world of sweetness, here’s a simple chart to help your decision.

As a whole, let’s challenge ourselves to simply avoid the sweets all together. Can we survive one week of what it was like before advertised junk even existed? My Grams told me of the days when honey on a biscuit was a rare treat, when you saved your only piece of bubble gum for a special occasion and lemonade was made with lemons, not sugar water!

Imagine what a Carmel fluffa mocha Frapajazz would taste like after drinking straight black coffee for a week!? So this week is fruit, that’s all folks. Are you up for the challenge? I am! I just lied to you. I’m not up for it. Honestly I could go for a homemade cookie and chocolate almond milk as I write this. But if I did everything I wanted to, who knows where my world would be! So, it’s on… let’s do it. Fruit will be my only sugar until we meet again.

This weeks homework:

1. Choose 3 workouts from the link here and dig in!

2. Give your taste buds and organs a break, avoid sugar for 7 days!

Wrapping up our lifestyle changes so far:

1. Use the stairs every chance you get!

2. Stick to the single serving amount or less.

3. Play with pop-cycle sticks and actually use them!

4. Consume products that are closest to their original state!

5. Avoid artificial sweeteners found in most sugar free products.

6. Walk as much as you can at every opportunity!

7. Clean out your system of sugar, stick with fruit!

8. Pick 3 workouts a week and give it all you got!

Categories: Fitness, Fitness Friday’s!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fitness Friday #3 – Dirty Sugar Free

This week starts with a confession. My name is Erika, and I love gum. I have chewed this tasty delight as long as I can remember. I can especially recall an increase in my gum chewing once I started on the “health kick” 10 years ago. If I thought I was hungry when it wasn’t time to eat, after each meal instead of dessert, long car rides where snacking is too easy, at the movie theater where treats are too tempting, at the gym, on a run… the list goes on. Why is this a confession and not a suggestion?

Let’s investigate.

Gum gets it addictive sweet flavor from one of two things, sugar or artificial sweetener. So if you choose the “real” sugar brand like Chiclets or Double Bubble, not only are you asking for cavities (my mom used to work in the dental field, can you tell?) but calories! The average piece of bubble gum has 20 calories, 5 carbs and all 5 of those carbs comes from 5 grams of sugar. Not a horrible choice if you’re used to inhaling a few cookies after lunch, however if you generally stay away from dessert and choose to have a few (or dozen) pieces of gum a day, you’re looking at consuming an extra meal without even swallowing a piece of food! Yikes!

If you choose the ever so popular “sugar free gum” which is 99% of the options you see at gas stations, you’re looking at ingesting a pretty powerful ingredient known to have side effects that most Americans complain about. I properly introduce you to Phenylalanine, the chemical making up 50% of Aspartame which we’ve all heard about.

Check this out…

If you google top side effects from Aspartame and then search for the most common symptoms Americans report, they’re almost identical!

-Headaches/Migraines

-Fatigue

-Inflammation

-Abdominal discomfort

-Insomnia

-Depression

-Anxiety

-Weight gain

Did you see the last one? Weight gain! I suppose that’s one reason I chose this for our topic besides the general (frightening) health risks included. How can a Diet Coke or piece of gum prevent wight loss? Of course, it takes more than a drink to pack on the pounds, but consistent intake of this chemical seems to be proven to mess with more than just our taste buds.

My challenge for is this week is to avoid anything with Aspartame, Phenylalanine, Equal or NutraSweet… None. Zilch. Nada! This will be hard for me since I thoroughly enjoy my gum, but I’m curious to see if I can feel a difference in a quick 7 days.

Some of you little researchers out there (myself included) might be asking, what about Splenda, Stevia, Xylitol and all the others? Challenge accepted! Next week I’ll have further info and my personal opinion. This would be another hard one for me since I consume flavored protein shakes daily and we know powdered vegetables don’t taste like chocolate without some additional sweet lovin’.

Physical challenge! We’ve hit the stairs and picked up sticks, this week we’re bringing it back to the basics, walking! When you park at the store, don’t do laps looking for the closest spot, park far away and embrace the extra calorie burnage! Shoots, if you’re really feeling it, pick up the pace and speed walk! See if you can get your heart rate up before reaching the entrance. Have a friend that lives nearby? Walk to meet in the middle and enjoy a conversation that doesn’t include a “like” button or emojis. If you don’t live close enough, meet at a coffee shop then stroll from there, no excuses.

This weeks homework:

1. Take an update photo. Are you excited about this or dreading it!?

2. Keep reading the labels before opening the box!

3. Walk. Then walk some more and then a little more!

Wrapping up our lifestyle changes so far:

1. Use the stairs every chance you get!

2. Stick to the single serving amount or less.

3. Play with pop-cycle sticks and actually use them!

4. Consume products that are closest to their original state!

5. Avoid artificial sweeteners found in most sugar free products.

6. Walk as much as you can at every opportunity!

Categories: Edibles!, Fitness Friday’s!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Shanti meets more family!

I’d like to start by saying how grateful I am to be surrounded by a loving family, both mine and Matt’s. A group of people that have supported us from the beginning and now eagerly welcome our new addition. In a matter of 2 weeks Shanti met 4 Aunts, 3 uncles, 2 grandmas 2 grandpas, 2 great aunts, a great uncle, a great-great aunt and good bundle amount of cousins (no less than a couple dozen).

It’d take a few posts to gather all of the details, so I chose a handful of pics to show the love this family had to offer.

Below is Matt, his mom and her mother (Maw Maw)… 4 generations!

Following Maw Maw and Paw Paw’s visit, Matt’s brother and his family came to meet our little one. How exciting for her to connect with new cousins Jayden and Harper and her Auntie Erika and Uncle Jake!Just before leaving out of state, Shanti got one more outing with my mom. Can you see Gam Gam walking ahead of us?

If you’ve been following this blog long enough, you’ve seen this family throughout the years. My twin cousin Lana and her husband with 2 kids drove all the way out to Florida to meet Shanti!

After a few days on the beach, they were heading back to the middle of America… so I hitched a ride… again! This time I sat hip side to my little girl on her first road trip!Check out this comparison…

Once we finally made it to Arkansas, Shanti got swarmed with more cousins, hugs and tons of love!

To get from Arkansas to Oklahoma I rented a car and strapped her in. Mother-daughter road trip here we go!

Upon arrival we were greeted with no less than an abundance of more happy attention. Aunties, Uncles, Great Aunts, Great-great Aunts, Pa Pa, Ma Maw and more!

With our cups overflowing with family love, Shanti and I boarded her first flight (other than the 14 flights she took while in my belly) back to Florida!

Success! I took this video once we landed after the final flight… our little traveler!

Back home with daddy and we couldn’t be happier!

Categories: Baby Talk, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Friday fitness – week 2! Pickin’ up sticks

How’d the stairs treat ya… better yet, how did you treat the stairs? Hopefully it got your heart rate up and your legs a little wobbly. More than anything, I would love to know that it kick started the fitness wheel for you and now it’s rolling!

This week I’m introducing one of my favorite tricks to sneak in a few extra moments that burns calories and maintains strength. Like any other activity, it only works if you do it!

I used pop-cycle sticks, you can find these in the art section of any store that has an art section. Note: I don’t suggest going to the freezer aisle and buying a jumbo pack of fudge-cycles to eat and save the sticks, it made me sick.

Feel free to change the number amount of each movement to better suit your fitness level.

There’s 2 ways I find this little dandy works best for me.

1. On a day off around the house or while you’re getting ready for work, set a timer for every 30 (or 15 or 45) minutes. Every time it sounds, grab a stick or 3 and have at it! This dilutes the overwhelming task and doesn’t consume your entire morning or evening.

2. Set a timer for 30 minutes (or 15 or an hour) and plow through as many sticks as you can!

Another idea (that I rarely do but love it when I do) is to partner up! Find a friend and take turns pulling sticks. A bit more entertaining when you’re either wishing for an easy one or watching your partner endure a hard one!

Write this down and prop it up next to your stick jar!

-“everyone works out when they want to, determined people do it even when they don’t want to!

Last week we practiced portion control by being more aware of the nutrition facts and quantity suggested per serving. Continuing on that track, this week start by looking at the ingredients. If there are more than 6 ingredients or anything you can’t pronounce (properly) then don’t even waste your time with the serving size… just put it back and find something else.

Let’s try keeping our food intake as close to its natural state as possible. If you’re in a hurry and starving at a gas station, reach for the bag of nuts or fruit verses the yogurt covered pretzels, “baked” chips or trail mix. Sure those options sound healthier than a Butterfinger, but look at the ingredients, it can be so deceiving!

This weeks homework:

1. Create your collection of sticks with a variety of workouts and use them!

2. Read the ingredients before looking at the nutrition facts. Less is more!

Wrapping up our lifestyle changes so far:

1. Use the stairs every chance you get!

2. Stick to the single serving amount or less.

3. Play with pop-cycle sticks and actually use them!

4. Consume products that are closest to their original state!

Have you taken your original starting picture? I hope so because next week we take another one!

I’ll have to admit this past week has been a struggle for me with family in town and a thousand mile road trip to see more family! Here’s a sneak preview of the love Shanti has been surrounded with! Next post, family adventures!

Categories: Edibles!, Fitness, Fitness Friday’s!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fitness Friday – week 1!

I walked into the gym feeling the way maybe a 30 year old would feel on the first day back to school – collage, teacher, desk, notebook… got it. Gym, treadmill, weights, machines… got it, now what? I’ll have to admit I was ready to post this first workout like a champ from the fitness center, but something changed the moment I walked into the gym. For what it’s worth I laughed when I did an about face. I didn’t even fake like I left something in my car or got a sudden stomach bug, I just laughed like I had lost my mind and walked out.

Needless to say this lead me to the perfect beginning place, a quiet empty space in which I had nowhere to go but up, literally. The stairwell! We’re currently living in a 19 story high-rise building that has a small gym and also an inviting set of steps that has become my new best friend.

Reasons I love stairs

1. You’re going somewhere (no thanks to you treadmills).

2. It’s super for the legs without destroying your knees or lower back.

3. You can vary the workout! I’ll sprint up one flight for cardio, skip a step with slow movements for a butt burn or stay on my toes for a calf tightening.

4. Nobody is standing there waiting for you to finish so they can do it.

So this week my physical challenge to you is to find stairs. The local school stadium, a nearby hotel, the mall, the park, etc. they’re out there, just look! If you live in a cow town and the only steps you have are the 6 leading up to the library, use them! I’ve also taken every chance to use stairs even when there’s an escalator or elevator available. If you want an extra challenge, incorporate some movements at the bottom or top of the climb. I did this in an airport back in Da Nang, Vietnam (while waiting for my flight to Ho Chi Minh) .

Food, we gotta eat! This subject is tricky since it seems these day there are uncountable amounts of diets, ideas and theories. None of that, too much of this, avoid those, eat that but only if it’s prepared this way…. it’s endless! I’m going to keep it general this week and invite you into the world of portion control. No matter what your diet might be, let’s pay attention to the quantity.

Just because they’re organic, whole grain, sugar free and tasteless (not a typo) doesn’t mean you should eat them by the buckets. If it’s 100 calories per serving and 10 pieces is a serving and there’s 6 servings per container, guess what… if you sit and watch Netflix while finishing the box of your “healthy” snack, you’ve consumed a solid amount of your daily caloric intake. A trainer once told me, “just because it’s a gluten free donut doesn’t mean it’s not a donut”. (This was after I was trying to justify my dairy free frozen treat).

Here’s a prime example – I found an “all natural vanilla” because it appears innocent and sounds like a decent choice (I know ice cream shouldn’t really be in a “diet” but for those of you who like your desserts, this is for you). Let’s look at the label:

Without even analyzing the actual “nutrition facts”, start by looking at the serving size. It’s an itty bitty 1/2 cup. Not a bowl, not even a coffee cup size but a half of a measured cup. If you’re not a baker, go get a real measuring device and see what your serving of ice cream really looks like. Then look at the label again, 12 servings!! So if you finish this dandy container over the weekend, you’ve consumed 1,560 calories – 720 of those are from fat and 168 grams of sugar! Thats 6x the amount of sugar you’re generally supposed to max out at per day… total! (You should gasp in disbelief here).

Point is, be aware of what you’re eating. Put a proper portion (or less) on your plate, then enjoy. Don’t invite the temptation for just a few more. This especially includes eating out. Try ordering your meal with a to-go box. If you feel like a nerd doing this, just remind yourself that whoever is judging you is either A- jealous that they don’t have the willpower or B- impressed that you do. When the dish comes, keep a healthy portion on your plate and put the rest in the box for later. DO NOT go for the doggy bag while in the restaurant, you’re not starving nor will your leftovers dissolve before getting to finish them. You can do it!

This weeks HOMEWORK:

1. Snap a photo of your beautiful self. This will be the “starting” photo of our journey. In a swimsuit, your undies, a mini dress, a speedo, birthday suit, whatever… this is for you!

2. Take 3 minutes of your day (today) and record the following. We will use this as a simple guide to gage improvement. Every 2 weeks, we’ll do it again to see how amazing our endurance can increase with a little effort.

Set a timer for 1 minute and count how many pushups you can do. Then again for squats and burpees. Even if you do 4 and the rest for 30 seconds and do 4 more, just keep attempting for the entire 2 minutes. Write it down and store away with that glorious photo you just took.

3. Embrace full awareness of everything that goes into your mouth… No handfuls, quick bites or food straight from the container. Please measure, save leftovers and consume only what’s needed.

This week I’ll be repeating these two phrases when I feel tempted to either skip a workout or eat just a little more:

-everyone works out when they want to, determined people do it even when they don’t want to!

-a moment on the lips is a month on the hips 😬

Have a super week!

Please note, I am not a doctor, nutritionist, personal trainer, life coach or any other label that would give the idea that I’ve been properly trained in the world of food and fitness. I’m just a girl who loves both subjects that’s willing to share my ideas along the journey.

Categories: Edibles!, Fitness, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

First “Friday Fitness” post!

JOIN ME! I’ll be posting every Friday on our journey to a healthier state of mind, body and reaching personal best! There’ll be realistic weekly goals to challenge ourselves with and tools to help accomplish them! I’ll be sharing my voyage with recipes, workout ideas, struggles, successes and (the dreaded) transitional before/after photos.

It’s time. I’ve previously shared about my journey through the health and fitness world primarily through posts about healthy food choices and workouts while traveling. Some of my favorite memories bring me back to a race in Barbados , yoga in Panama, Paddle boarding and a hike in Tobago, and amazing treks of Machu Picchu. These were all incredible times during my peak in fitness and now I’ve come full circle back into a wonderful world of new challenges. Let me quickly explain from the beginning.

I was born a lovable 8 lb ball of happiness and sprouted into a round head balanced on top of a set of thighs.

Fast forward through the adolescent years and I developed into the “healthy” or “big boned” cousin (a term used to describe chunky kids who aren’t built to be naturally thin). Although some thoughts would cross my mind after comments made, I never really concerned myself with the issue. I liked food, especially ice cream, as well as playing outside, giggling with my friends and making a mess with art and crafts. I was a kid.

Teenage years brought boys, school challenges and a variety of other things to distract me from self-image issues. Even though I’d still compare my body to other girls (who didn’t?!) it was nothing of extreme or enough to break my focus of surviving the teen years of school. It’s hard enough just being human with new hormones stuck in a few buildings with a thousand other irrational, emotionally driven pre-adult creatures.

Between 18-21 I truly didn’t feel the shift (captured in the first 3 photos from the collage below). It was like I had the opposite body image than most girls. I was gorgeous! I was also gaining a solid 15 pounds a year without even realizing it. 45 pounds heavier than healthy, I began to take a closer a look at this human suit I had to carry around. It wasn’t so much of how I looked in a swimsuit or what guys would like, as much as it was me needing to change my habits. I had watched a majority of my family members yo-yo diet my entire life and I wasn’t about to follow in their footsteps.

I started to slowly lose weight due to small diet changes and a walk every morning, it felt amazing! This was all done slowly and properly in regards to mainstream options. No diet pills, no eating disorders, no obsessive physical training, just a transition in lifestyle.

Once I achieved a consistent routine, my body settled into its comfort zone, “it’s” comfort zone, not mine. This is when I went to the local gym and spent a portion of my savings to get a trainer. “Teach me everything!”… and so they did. I dove in head first to the length of dedication that Zack, best coach ever, finally suggested I branch out on my own as I’ve exceeded the need for his assistance. And so I did.

Here’s a glimpse at the 40lb transition. Going from 30% fat to 18%

My new life was amazing! I felt unstoppable and ready to take on the world. Ironically, in my own little way, that’s what I did. This is when herhappytrails.com began and my big blue backpack took flight for the first time.

During the 6 year journey around the world my body naturally transformed according to my current behavior. I ranged from super strong while trekking parts of South America I shriveled down to nothing while recovering from a parasite in Malaysia , fluffed back up in Europe during the pints-o-beer at Oktoberfest then lost it all once landing in Japan. Needless to say, I returned to the states and the weight just seemed to fall into place. Some “places” I didn’t enjoy, but it was all necessary.

During my tiny days, my female cycle had completely vanished and I was told by several doctors (both western and homeopathic) that the chances of me ever carrying a child full term, let alone getting pregnant, was slim to none. For 8 years I held this belief with me. To be honest, it didn’t really bother me. I was single, traveling the world, loving life and had no time for things such as marriage and babies.

Enter Matt Stone.

I met my husband on a trip back to the states while visiting my mom. If you’ve been following the blog, you’ve seen that journey unfold. The reason I bring it up is because during this time, I started to involuntarily put on (necessary) fat that produced more estrogen. It started my cycle back up! It was like my body knew what was ahead.

This all brings me to the point of this entire post. First comes love, then comes marriage , then comes baby in the baby carriage! I hope at least half of you have chanted that on a playground somewhere.I was going to be the cutest, most fit and active prego I could be, I’m sure like most of us dream of being, that was until I was put on bed rest. After denial, refusal and my own little pity party, my world switched focus from selfish body image choices to health and protection of me and our unborn baby. No running, no working out, not even a walk beyond the mailbox. I’m still amazed I kept my sanity while losing strength and gaining cushion.

Now we have the little light of our lives and the current reason (excuse) I have adorable love handles with squishy arms to match. No more bedrest! Of course I wouldn’t trade my post prego body for the beautiful addition to our family and bla bla bla… but let’s be real, this fluff has has got to go (as well as this robe I’ve been living in!)

Confession: I’m using this blog and your attention to hold myself accountable while hopefully inspiring one, two or a hundred of you to do the same. If it’s the last 5 pounds you’re after, the first 50 or simply the ability to finally run without sounding like an excited pug, I truly hope you’ll find some encouragement here. I plan to be real, raw and transparent through it all. So authentic that I’m not even going to post a present pic today. So there. Na-ner Na-ner.

Lets ease into this week with your first challenge, JOIN ME! See that cute little button that says “follow” on the bottom of the screen? All you have to do is enter your email… no payments, no rights to your first born, no advertisements, just an address that can be notified when a new post has been published. Then you can comment, ask questions and help me pleasantly plow through this chapter of life. I thank you in advance!

Categories: Baby Talk, Fitness, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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