lifestyle

July Check-In

The month is just about halfway done so I thought I’d do a mid-month check-in to see how I’m doing so far in July.

Mental Health

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While I have not been super relaxed so far this summer, my anxiety has had its ups and downs thinking about the future. My dad’s words of “don’t worry about the things you can’t control” are being replayed in my mind but I can’t help but worry sometimes. I think that’s human nature amplified by the effects of living with anxiety. I haven’t had any major breakdowns and my best friends (and my boyfriend, who doubles as a best friend) have been absolutely amazing.

Goals

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I really didn’t set any specific goals this month, which is a bit unlike me. The only goal I had in mind was to enjoy my time not in school, work hard, and take some time to enjoy myself with the company of friends and family. I’d say I have done that so far. I’ve made plans with friends more after work and made more of an effort to check in on friends and see how they’re doing. I have also been reading more books for pleasure. This is often something I complain about not having the time for when I’m busy with school work.

Goals in mind for the upcoming weeks:

  • Less emotional eating – I see myself starting to slip on this. Stress eating chocolate or unhealthy things to cope with certain emotions. I need to nip that early.
  • Practice more gratitude. I fell off the Five Minute Journal train. I stopped practicing daily gratitude. I need to start back up on that to start and end my days on positive notes rather than anxious ones.
  • Do more active things. In Montreal, I went for a walk with my aunt every night I was there. I have started doing more of this here, usually in the evenings when it cools down but it has been great to get out and take a nice 20-30 minute walk in the neighbourhood.
  • Focus more on my weight loss journey. While I haven’t been very strict on food choices in the last few weeks, I may look towards making smarter choices rather than be super restrictive. My work schedule has not been very consistent so far this summer but maybe next week I will get in the groove of when I can go to the gym after work as well. It’s never too late to try again.

In a couple weeks, I will write out my goals for August and share them. HM_press_release_infographic-1001x1024.jpg

 

Low Carb Bagels

Like several people I know, I have hopped on the keto train in attempts to keep myself in check like I did with Whole 30 but be free to eat cheese and yogurt and indulge in the occasional glass of red wine.

I am on Day 5 so far and honestly, it feels very similar to Whole 30. I was tired the first couple of days, had a little brain fog, but those feelings have faded. My eating habits prior to this decision weren’t too bad. I had continued to follow a mainly paleo lifestyle until going to Cuba. I did eat a few more bags of chips than I would have liked but such is life. I have heard really good things about the keto way of life and since it didn’t differ too much from the paleo lifestyle, I figured I’d give it a try.

What’s the Difference? 

Get Healthy U has this great info-graphic to break down the basic differences between the two.

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Why Did I Start?

I have had some underlying suspicions that I may have some sort of gluten sensitivity or intolerance. I removed eating gluten as part of the Whole 30 plan and I didn’t want to eat in such a restrictive way again. With Keto, I am free to eat cheese and cream cheese and yogurt and butter and all that dairy that I love but couldn’t have before. There are a lot of great recipes with stevia and other natural low-carb sugars that I can’t wait to try. For more information on what the ketogenic diet is, here’s a link for you: https://www.ruled.me/guide-keto-diet.

Am I Going to Cheat?

Probably in the future. I mean, everything is good in moderation and it might be a little unrealistic to cut out everything bad forever. I understand it is a way of life for many people, but I am still learning how it fits into my lifestyle. By being strict at the beginning, I hope to create good habits and remember all the lessons I learned from Whole 30 and make better choices at restaurants. After a few weeks, will I have a scoop of ice cream? Absolutely. It’s nearly summertime. If I’m at someone’s house and they’re serving non-keto friendly options, I will probably eat some of the non-compliant options anyways. Will I eat an entire loaf of garlic bread? No. Will I have a glass or 3 of sangria? More than likely. It’s all about making smart cheats and not “eating a whole bag of chips” kind of cheat.

Low-Carb Bagels

Now that I have rambled about my lifestyle changes, let’s talk bagels. I am trying to find easy and quick breakfast options since I usually am up and out the door in the morning. I made some flaxseed cinnamon bun muffins last week and they were delicious. This morning, I tried making low-carb bagels.

I used the recipe from WholesomeYum which can be found here: https://www.wholesomeyum.com/recipes/low-carb-bagels-with-almond-flour-keto-gluten-free-5-ingredients/ 

It was so easy to make and had only 5 ingredients: almond flour, baking powder, mozzarella cheese, cream cheese, and eggs. I added Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel spice to the top and it was perfect. My mom really liked the bagels too. I’m surprised in how quick and easy it was. Kneading the dough was difficult with it being super sticky but it combined well. (See pre-oven photo above).

The recipe makes 6 bagels and each bagel is 360 calories. Carb counts: Total Carbs: 8g | Net Carbs: 5g | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g

An everything bagel at Tim Hortons, in comparison, is 280 calories but has 53g of Carbs.

I would definitely make this recipe again!

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Spinach Dip Stuffed Mushrooms

Do you love spinach dip?

Do you love portobello mushrooms?

Well worlds collided tonight when I made some stuffed mushrooms. A few years ago, one of the local restaurants used to serve them as appetizers and it was my favourite thing to split with my mom but they have taken them off the menu. While grocery shopping the other day, I bought a 4-pack of portobello mushrooms and thought that maybe I would try to replicate them.

 

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Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 4 portobello mushrooms
  • 10 oz of frozen spinach (I bought the packaged stuff)
  • 3/4 tsp of garlic powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 250g package of cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese

Here’s what I did:

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preset the oven to 375.
  2. Remove the stems and gills from the portobello mushrooms. Drizzle olive oil on the mushrooms. Place on the baking sheet and set aside.
  3. Cook the frozen spinach according to the directions on the package, drain excess water, and set aside.
  4. Combine all the cheeses together (except for the mozzarella) with the garlic powder and cayenne pepper and add the spinach.
  5. Stuff the mushrooms with the spinach dip and sprinkle each mushroom with mozzarella cheese.
  6. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

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These recipes were used as a guide in the creation of my mushrooms:

Mid-Month Checkup: March Goals

Here we are at another Monday. January seemed to drag on so slowly and now here we are more half-way through March.

Let’s reflect on how my March Focus goals have been doing so far:

Focus on my work and school work:

  • I downloaded an app called HabitBull to track my good habits. I love it because I’m very data driven and it creates graphs based on your performance!
  • I’ve started breaking down more of my tasks into smaller parts to make them easier to complete. I have completed quite a bit of work on my dissertation so far because I’m made it seem more manageable.
  • I have tried to take on more of an active role at work while also trying not to spread myself too thin. I know when to say no and how to prioritize things a little better.
  • To keep myself engaged in what I’m doing, when I do work at home (school or otherwise), I set a timer for about 30-45 minutes. I work on one task for that time, take a break, and then switch gears to something else. It seems to be working so far.

Focus on my health:

  • Well, if you asked me how my immune system is doing, I’d say not great. But judging by the last three months, I’ve started seeing a pattern of when I start getting sick: the week leading up to my menstrual cycle. In the past few days, I’ve started taking supplements daily to help kick my immune system and overall health into gear: probiotics, Omega 3’s, Vitamin D, Calcium, Magnesium, iron, and a multivitamin.
  • I got a gym membership at a new gym this month and have been twice already and have created a fitness journal and written down workout ideas. I am hoping to start going 2-3 times a week (perhaps more).
  • I started stretching every morning!
  • My skin care routine is great! Feels like a normal part of my morning and evening and it feels so soft.
  • I have written in my Five Minute Journal every day this month so far! Haven’t missed a day. It has been a great, positive way to start and end the day and it has become more of a habit than it was in the past.
  • My anxiety has been up and down this month with a few more down times than I was expecting. Meditating and remembering to stay grounded has helped and I have been looking up other strategies to get through tough moments of panic.

Focus on my relationships with others:

  • I have taken more of an active effort in my friendships – spending more time answering texts, talking to them on the phone, and making plans to see them.
  • I continue to reflect on these friendships and welcome new ones into my life.
  • I am appreciating times with my mom more. She has always been my best friend and my number one support system in my life and as I grow up, I want to return the favour and support her in any way that I can.
  • During this incredibly busy time of year, my boyfriend and I despite distance and responsibilities manage to appreciate the time we do get to talk and spend together even if it’s working on things together, sharing things about our day at the end of the day on the phone, and support one another with all that we do and I am so grateful to have him in my life in such a positive and loving way.

I still have some work to do this month in each of these three aspects, but there is still time to “focus” on them.

Happy Monday, everyone and have a great week!

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March in Like a Lion

Today is the first Monday of a new month March. Can you almost smell spring in the air? Other than the large heaping of snow we received on Friday, I can feel spring coming and I am nothing but excited.

I am looking forward to floral prints, sunny rays, spring flowers, rain boots, and driving around with the windows down.

This month, I have set my intention as Focus. I will Focus on the following three key areas:

  1. Focus on my work and schoolwork.
    For those who don’t know, I am currently completing my Master’s degree and am in the writing process of my dissertation. To make this task a little more tolerable, this weekend, I broke down what I need to do into smaller steps and will push myself to put my best efforts into my work and get it done quickly and efficiently. IMG_1662.GIF
  2.  Focus on my health.
    February was a rough month for me health-wise. I had that stomach bug at the end of Whole 30 and soon after, I caught the flu and am only now feeling better from it. With being sick, however, my healthy eating habits slipped a bit. I ate unhealthy food and justified it because I was sick – a habit I thought I was doing a good job breaking during Whole 30. Well this month, I’m already back to meal prepping and sticking to an overall paleo lifestyle (with a few exceptions here and there).  Tonight I prepped lasagna stuffed chicken with asparagus for the week. IMG_1732.JPG
  3. Focus on my relationships with others
    I have found myself to be distant from some of the people in my life. Not because I don’t want to spend time with them but because I have been busy, sick, and have spent a lot of time dedicating quality time for myself – something I have failed to do in the past few years. Over the next few weeks, with March Break coming up and Easter at the end of the month, I am hoping to spend more time catching up with friends and family as they too are a priority in my life. I am also going to reflect on how relationships in my life make me feel – am I growing as a person with this person in my life? What do they bring to my life? What do I bring to theirs?

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Happy March and Happy Motivation Monday! I hope you start March off like a fierce and powerful lion!

Morning Routines

How do you start your day?

Do you hit snooze a few times and get up at the last possible moment? Does your alarm list look like this?IMG_1704.jpg

Mine used to. Now, I only have one alarm. And I use all my self control to not press snooze.

Right now, my current routine is as follows:

Wake up

[Usually: Check social media]

Skin care routine

Make my bed

Stretch

Write in my Five Minute Journal

Get dressed and do my makeup

Make a coffee and have breakfast

Leave for work

 

Not too bad? Well, I would like it to look more like this:

Wake up

Stretch or do yoga

Make my bed

Drink water

Write in my Five Minute Journal

Meditate

Read a few pages of a book

Skin care routine

Get dressed and do my makeup

Make a coffee and have breakfast

Leave for work

A few extra steps would make all the difference. I’m hoping to work towards better morning and evening routines in the near future and will blog about it next week to hold myself more accountable.

Let’s do this!

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One Brave Night

Last year, I participated in CAMH’s event One Brave Night. CAMH One Brave Night for Mental Health™ is a Canada-wide challenge to inspire hope for those affected by mental illness. It starts now and continues through to Friday, April 6.

For those who are unfamiliar with CAMH, it is the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. It is the largest mental health and addictions teaching hospital. Their One Brave Night campaign has had the following impact for mental health initiatives:

  • Create three new youth clinics to help address the gap in mental health treatment.
  • Inspire hope through discovery by testing new treatment options for people with severe and treatment-resistant depression.
  • Publish over 500 journal articles, sharing the incredible discoveries made at CAMH.
  • Continue to redevelop CAMH facilities to build treatment, education and research spaces that reflect respect for patients and hope for recovery.
  • Expand effective and timely access to mental health services in remote and underserved communities around the country through technology and access to telepsychiatry.

I am proud to say that I am taking part in it again this year and have set my fundraising goal at $250.

If you are interested in supporting my fundraising efforts, you can donate at this link. If you are interested in joining my fundraising team, you may do so at this link. My Team Name is Stomp Out Stigma.

Happy Motivation Monday!

Fighting the Flu

Well, here we are: we’re on our way to the end of February and the flu is spreading like wildfire at my workplace. And I am currently in recovery day 5 of having the flu.

On Saturday I woke up feeling as though I was hit by a bus – a bus that was on fire. I felt like I was extremely hot and cold at the same time with a mix of fever and chills.

I had the textbook symptoms:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)

All I could think was: could I have avoided this by getting the flu shot like my mother said?

Reports such CNN as say that the flu vaccine is only 36% effective this year. So is it worth getting? I have not gotten the flu shot because I have been on and off sick since winter started, especially working with children. I was going to get the flu shot once I was healthy but I have not found that time. And alas, here we are. I don’t think I’m a credible source for whether or not you should get the flu shot but I will say that if I had gotten the flu shot, perhaps I would not have been hit this hard with the symptoms.

I have a Fitbit and I thought this was interesting (since I’m a huge data nerd) but you can see how being sick has affected my resting heart rate. I woke up sick on the 17th where my resting heart rate jumped from 69 to 72 and today it is 82. I have caught myself in coughing fits where my heart rate has been at 132 bpm. I hope with more rest and relaxation, I can get it back down where it belongs.

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How to Fight the Flu

Sleep
They say sleep is the best thing for you when you’re sick? They’re right. Absolutely right. I attribute getting better quickly to sleeping a lot this weekend and over the past couple of days. I slept last night for 10 hours and I feel a million times better. All I have left is a residual cough.

Hydration
Tea.
Water.
Orange juice.
Soup.
Repeat.

Advil was my saving grace over the past few days to help with the aches and fever. Taking a hot bath with epsom salts also helped ease the aches and pains.

I hope if you’re reading this, you don’t get the flu or fall victim to another form of sickness this winter. Stay cozy, friends!

Whole 30 Round 3 is Complete!

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Well I did it! I survived a January Whole 30. While I have done this with former coworkers in the past, this time it was all me (with the help of some Facebook groups). I survived and I feel great. #TigerBlood

How I’m Feeling

Well it feels weird to be done, to be honest.  January felt like it lasted a lifetime – it just kind of dragged on and on. Today was my first day without Whole 30 and the only non-compliant thing I’ve had today was a spring roll. Otherwise my breakfast, lunch, and dinner options were all compliant. Slowly reintroducing non-compliant foods into my diet. My energy levels continue to be amazing. No mid-day slump for this gal. My digestion is back in working order. I reluctantly stepped on the scale this morning and I have lost 12.3lbs since starting Whole 30. I was thrilled, don’t get me wrong. But it was just a number at the end of the day. My non-scale victories were larger than my scale victory.

What I Learned From Whole 30 This Time

  • I did Whole 30 a year ago or so and I feel like food labels have only gotten worse since then. More additives and preservatives. You’d be surprised to read how many things have corn or soy or sugar, as well.
  • Eating out is next to impossible but can be done strategically. If you forget your homemade salad dressing at home, the roasted veggie side (if there is one) is a good option. Check their oils.
  • It is okay not to turn to food when you are upset. It has been a hard month for me emotionally and mentally. Not grabbing any form of snack (healthy or unhealthy) was something I really tried to work on this time around.
  • I didn’t miss Starbucks as much as I thought I would. I used Coffee Mate in my coffee this morning and poured it out immediately – was wayyyyy too sweet for my tastes. Black coffee with cinnamon is still a winner in my books but maybe next week I’ll start adding milk again.
  • Simple is best. I learned to make a few new things and my favourite recipes were the simplest.
  • Making your own salad dressings and seasonings (taco seasoning, cajun seasoning, etc.) are extremely easy. Like, I still can’t get over how much I love dump ranch. I’m going to make it all the time.
  • It’s okay not to have cake on your birthday.
  • Breakfast was the worst meal of the day for me for the entire month – it’s something I will need to continually work on. I can’t eat as many eggs as Pinterest would like me to.
  • Posting every single day made me accountable to myself and to the others that have followed my blog and instagram page. At times, I really hated being one of those people taking pictures of their food but then I thought, “No, damn it, I’m doing this for me.”

What Comes Next

Well, I’m not going to abandon ship and start eating crappy foods again. I will definitely carry the lessons I have learned with me and continue to bring awareness to the food I eat.

While I don’t think I will do another round of Whole 30 in February, I have been reading Leanne Vogel’s book on her take of The Keto Diet and may give that a try. While there seem to be some aspects that may be challenging (calculating macros, counting all the things, etc.), it will allow me to have dairy in my life again (I have missed cheese). I may not start right away but I will continue to prep my meals in advanced, make healthier choices, and try not to snack. This tiger blood is amazing and I don’t want to give it up. I also don’t want to live in a world of restriction much either.

Then comes the exercise piece. The next step is bridging the two: food and exercise. In February, that is something I will make more of an effort to do. If not at the gym, I will at home with my 21 Day Fix Extreme workout videos.

I will continue to try to keep myself accountable by posting on here. Watch out for more food freedom stories and my stories of body image and the other hurdles in life.

Thank you to everyone who has followed along on this 30 Day Journey and for your words of encouragement and support.

 

 

 

Whole 30 Day 28

How I’m Feeling 

Today. Was. Rough. I was up on and off all night feeling sick. I’m (hopefully) on the tail end of this stomach bug, so I stayed home to give my body some rest and be functionally closer to a bathroom. However, being home all day left me in a house full of food that I wanted to ate and either couldn’t eat because it made me feel sick or because it’s still Whole 30 and chocolate is still noncompliant. While I had seemingly broken the emotional connections to food in average situations (and even upon some anxiety-provoking ones), I (re-) discovered today that when I am sick, I want to eat like crap and that was an emotional connection I couldn’t break … but somehow did today. I didn’t order Chinese food (despite previous conditioning of me being sick = order Chinese food). I didn’t have some chocolate to feel better. I had chicken soup (without noodles) and really not a lot else.

Day 28, according to the Whole 30 Timeline, is a hard day in general. It’s so close to 30…but not quite. They call it “Day 28: 28 is as good as 30…right?” Ugh, it has felt like that. I have worked this hard to stay committed for 30 days and I am staying true to that commitment.

What I Ate

Blah – what a boring section to write today. Literally all I have eaten today is chicken soup without noodles, some vegetable dish my mom made for dinner, and one clementine.  If my stomach could handle more, I would have done more meal prep for today and the rest of the week. But in the meantime, I have leftover cauliflower rice and chicken and veggies in the fridge for lunch and dinners. Not to mention soup!

TWO. MORE. DAYS. 11357260_1667689656793748_1359635908_n.jpg