Monthly Favorites: February 2017

Good afternoon, ladies and gents!

I am well overdue for an updated monthly favorites post. Despite my inactivity, I’ve managed to discover new things here and there, and I’d love to share them with you. As always, let me know what you’re loving in the comments. 🙂

HEALTH & FITNESS

Whitney Simmons

fitwithwit.jpg

If you’re not in the business of watching YouTubers for your daily dose of fitness knowledge, you’re missing out. Double that if you’ve never heard of Whitney Simmons. She’s hilarious, fun to watch, and delivers consistent, engaging content that varies from “What I Eat in A Day” to in-depth bodybuilding workouts, and fantastic, quick videos for those new to the world of fitness. She’s quickly become a favorite, right up there with Nikki Blackketter. If you’re not saying “hot fire flames” as a result, you haven’t watched enough videos. 😉

Becca Bristow

bbristow.jpg

Becca is a Registered Dietitian, newlywed, and dog-mom to this cute little pup, Rosie. She posts informative “The Skinny On…” videos on certain health food categories, What I Eat In A Day posts, for those looking to make easy, healthy, meals, and has recently started to vlog. She also has a great series of videos on her process of wedding planning, and tips and tricks for new brides.

BEAUTY

Essence Brow Gel

49123378.jpg

Like most girls my age, I over plucked my eyebrows into oblivion in high school. Ever since, it’s been a slow and steady process of growing them back. The bad news: I naturally don’t have much hair on the tails of my brows. The good news: I’m getting really good at enhancing what I’ve got! I typically use my NYX microbrow pencil in Espresso to fill in the gaps and define, but this Essence Make Me Brow is an awesome addition – it helps fill in the sparseness and hold my brows in place, and overall gives it a nice, clean look. Also? It’s only $2.99! Sold.

L’Oreal Blend Artist Foundation Blender

Cos49a_3.jpg

I know, I know. Makeup sponges have been getting a lot of attention and I’m late to the game, but hey, I’m here! I always wanted to try the beauty blender but couldn’t justify spending $25+ on a tool I didn’t really have a need for. However, since October I’ve been dealing with either eczema or heat rash around my eyelids, neck and ears, and I’ve been struggling to find a way to blend out my undereye concealer. When I saw a review from RachhLoves on a comparable beauty blender for $6, I decided to give it a go. Best decision ever. It works best when slightly damp, and blends out flawlessly. It’s made my morning routine significantly quicker and less stressful, which alone is well worth the $6.

LIFESTYLE

Passion Planner

passplanner

I’m a busy gal, but scheduling events and assignments on my phone has never worked for me. I’m lucky if I remember to text people back (sorry!), let alone remember to set all the appropriate reminders for each day of the week. What I love most about the passion planner is how concise it is while still leaving room for reflection and creativity. I’m able to look at my week in a snapshot, but also take notes, doodle, and visualize my entire schedule by the half hour. The prompts and mind-mapping are a huge plus, as they help me break down my big goals into smaller, attainable ones. I will absolutely be repurchasing a new one at the end of the year.

Amazon Basics Silpats

silpat

I had heard of silpats before but had always assumed they were for baked goods, not necessarily other baked foods. While they are great non-stick tools for baked goods, they’re also fantastic for people who don’t want to use a lot of oil to bake in general. I use mine mostly for tofu, and sweet potatoes, because it gives them both a perfect crispy – without oil! It also makes cleanup super simple. If you’re constantly baking with aluminum foil, hate washing pans, or just want a healthy alternative to oil, give them a try.

  • What are you loving this month?
  • What’s one kitchen tool you can’t live without?

Monthly Favorites: February 2017

Good afternoon, ladies and gents!

I am well overdue for an updated monthly favorites post. Despite my inactivity, I’ve managed to discover new things here and there, and I’d love to share them with you. As always, let me know what you’re loving in the comments. 🙂

HEALTH & FITNESS

Whitney Simmons

fitwithwit.jpg

If you’re not in the business of watching YouTubers for your daily dose of fitness knowledge, you’re missing out. Double that if you’ve never heard of Whitney Simmons. She’s hilarious, fun to watch, and delivers consistent, engaging content that varies from “What I Eat in A Day” to in-depth bodybuilding workouts, and fantastic, quick videos for those new to the world of fitness. She’s quickly become a favorite, right up there with Nikki Blackketter. If you’re not saying “hot fire flames” as a result, you haven’t watched enough videos. 😉

Becca Bristow

bbristow.jpg

Becca is a Registered Dietitian, newlywed, and dog-mom to this cute little pup, Rosie. She posts informative “The Skinny On…” videos on certain health food categories, What I Eat In A Day posts, for those looking to make easy, healthy, meals, and has recently started to vlog. She also has a great series of videos on her process of wedding planning, and tips and tricks for new brides.

BEAUTY

Essence Brow Gel

49123378.jpg

Like most girls my age, I over plucked my eyebrows into oblivion in high school. Ever since, it’s been a slow and steady process of growing them back. The bad news: I naturally don’t have much hair on the tails of my brows. The good news: I’m getting really good at enhancing what I’ve got! I typically use my NYX microbrow pencil in Espresso to fill in the gaps and define, but this Essence Make Me Brow is an awesome addition – it helps fill in the sparseness and hold my brows in place, and overall gives it a nice, clean look. Also? It’s only $2.99! Sold.

L’Oreal Blend Artist Foundation Blender

Cos49a_3.jpg

I know, I know. Makeup sponges have been getting a lot of attention and I’m late to the game, but hey, I’m here! I always wanted to try the beauty blender but couldn’t justify spending $25+ on a tool I didn’t really have a need for. However, since October I’ve been dealing with either eczema or heat rash around my eyelids, neck and ears, and I’ve been struggling to find a way to blend out my undereye concealer. When I saw a review from RachhLoves on a comparable beauty blender for $6, I decided to give it a go. Best decision ever. It works best when slightly damp, and blends out flawlessly. It’s made my morning routine significantly quicker and less stressful, which alone is well worth the $6.

LIFESTYLE

Passion Planner

passplanner

I’m a busy gal, but scheduling events and assignments on my phone has never worked for me. I’m lucky if I remember to text people back (sorry!), let alone remember to set all the appropriate reminders for each day of the week. What I love most about the passion planner is how concise it is while still leaving room for reflection and creativity. I’m able to look at my week in a snapshot, but also take notes, doodle, and visualize my entire schedule by the half hour. The prompts and mind-mapping are a huge plus, as they help me break down my big goals into smaller, attainable ones. I will absolutely be repurchasing a new one at the end of the year.

Amazon Basics Silpats

silpat

I had heard of silpats before but had always assumed they were for baked goods, not necessarily other baked foods. While they are great non-stick tools for baked goods, they’re also fantastic for people who don’t want to use a lot of oil to bake in general. I use mine mostly for tofu, and sweet potatoes, because it gives them both a perfect crispy – without oil! It also makes cleanup super simple. If you’re constantly baking with aluminum foil, hate washing pans, or just want a healthy alternative to oil, give them a try.

  • What are you loving this month?
  • What’s one kitchen tool you can’t live without?

Change is Good.

If you’re still following this blog, hello!

happy-ele

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. In nearly every previous post I’ve mentioned my hectic schedule with grad school and thanked readers for your patience – this one is no different!

However, I did take some time to think about what I want this little corner of the internet to become. As much as I love fitness and food, (I’m happy to say) they come secondary to other things in my life.

Although I’ll continue to post workouts, recipes, and health-centered content, I want to also build a community around the other things that take up so much of my time and thought: mental health, self-care, and overall wellness. I also love the occasional beauty and lifestyle post, so you’ll find that here, too.

My aim is to not become so personal that it’s no longer helpful or interesting to my readers, but I also want to keep an honest real-life flow in my posts. So while some days I’ll talk about my adventures over the weekend, there will also be days I talk about helpful self-care tactics, workout programs, and food and beauty favorites.

So thanks for sticking around and let me know: what would you like to see more of?

Monthly Favorites: July 2016

Happy August! Eight months of 2016 are over! Finished! Done! This is craziness. August is going to be a very busy month on my end. I’ve got two weeks left of my summer assistantship, then I’ll be heading to New York to visit family, to Boston for the Zac Brown Band concert (SO EXCITED!) and then a week of vacation and calm before a baby shower to finish out the month. Whew! Oh, and my birthday. I’ll be 28 in 3 days and starting my fall semester in 27 days. I have a feeling August will one of those months that flies by. Hopefully we’ll make time for some rest and relaxation before this semester begins!

Backing  up to July – it was a busy month of visits, weddings and lots of travel on Josh’s end. Below are some of my favorites of the month. Comment and let me know what you’ve been loving! 🙂

adriene

Yoga With Adriene

If I haven’t mentioned Adriene’s channel yet, this is way overdue! I had done her workouts here and there throughout the past few years, but in May I started her 30 day challenge. Having the structure of a yoga session each day and the ease of accessing it online were both just bonus points for an already awesome channel. Adriene’s workouts are catered to all levels with variations throughout, and her personality and honest coaching throughout the videos made her an automatic favorite. I will be incorporating a lot more yoga into my routine, courtesy of her channel!

231959-chocolates-traderjoes-72cacao3packminibars

Trader Joe’s (Vegan) Dark Chocolate

I assumed chocolate would be off the list of indulgent treats after deciding to eat mostly plant-based, but I was wrong! Trader Joe’s actually offers a number of chocolate bars that are made without dairy, and judging by the taste alone, you’d never guess it. I don’t typically eat a lot of chocolate, but will add in a square every now and then when I’ve got a sweet tooth after dinner.

silk-hydration-15-a

Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration – SPF 30

My bottle looks different from this one, but it’s the same formula and I upped the SPF to 30 instead of 15. This spray sunscreen quickly became a favorite because it does exactly what it says it will: it’s hydrating without being sticky, and actually shields your skin from the sun unlike other spray sunscreens that fade quickly.  The tropical smell is the cherry on top! (But it doesn’t smell like cherries… 😉 )

simplyquinoa

Simply Quinoa

Alyssa’s YouTube channel, Simply Quinoa, is a fantastic resource for plant-based and gluten free recipes. Her  “What I Eat In A Day” videos show super simple, super healthy meals that look amazing, but you’d never think to put together. Her channel has been a huge help in my meal prep the past month and I highly recommend it for anyone looking to eat a more whole foods, plant-based lifestyle!

tennis ball

Foam Rolling & Tennis Ball Rolling

I used to be able to work out, do some static stretching, and be on my merry way. After I started my personal training, job, however, I realized that being on my feet and moving through workouts all day, that I’d developed plantar fasciitis. When stretching and new shoes still didn’t fully the trick, I started rolling out the tightness with a simple tool: a tennis ball. I’ve used it ever since, and this month it came in especially handy when I needed to roll out tight traps. If you get tight, sore muscles that you can’t seem to find relief for, try this easy, affordable option!

“Spiked” Seltzers

Truth be told, I don’t drink very often, but we’ve had a few special occasions in the month of July, so I found myself celebrating more than usual. My drink of choice? Any seltzer. I’ve tried each of these brands and they’re almost identical, at least when it comes to the lime flavor which is my go-to. I love these because they’re low carb, low sugar, and in any additives and dyes. Most importantly, though, they’re super refreshing so they make a perfect summertime drink!

Monthly Favorites: June 2016

Holy. Moly. This year is more than halfway over. Think about that for a second. It’s cliche, but time really does fly by so much faster the older you get.

Anyway, how was your fourth? 🙂 We spent the long weekend visiting Josh’s parents, hanging out with his brother, and barhopping around the Old Port, playing tourist!

Shipyard changed their brewery tasting layout and it’s no longer free, but you can get a 4 ounce flight of beer for $4. It was well worth it, and I’ve decided that Shipyard makes the best summer / fruity but not sweet beers. I opted for Island Time, Sunfish, Fireberry Tea Brew, and Melon Head. They were all delicious, but Sunfish almost always takes top for me – I’m a sucker for grapefruit beer!

My first summer session ended on Sunday and I started my second session today. I’m really happy with the way I structured my classes and am so glad I opted not to take the entire summer off. By August, I’ll have knocked off an additional 9 credits and be in the zone to head into the fall semester.

It’s been a while since I did a Friday Favorite, and I think I’ve decided to change these posts to be more of a Monthly Favorite for the time being. School is crazy, and I honestly haven’t had the chance to try much new stuff since I started my program! Monthly will allow me to give a wider range of products and more in-depth reviews. Below are some of my June Favorites! Let me know what you’ve been loving in the comments. 🙂

Rose Hip Oil

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This stuff has done more for my skin than any other product. I first learned about it from Julie at PBFingers, and she’s right on the money. This oil has evened out my skin tone, helped prevent new blemishes, healed years of acne scars, and moisturizes while sinking in pretty quickly. It’s also supposed to help with wrinkle reduction but I don’t have enough wrinkles quite yet to notice a big difference. It only takes me about 4-5 drops for my entire face (less if I’m wearing it under sunscreen during the day) and I can’t say enough good things about it. Considering you can get a huge bottle for only $14 on Amazon, it’s an awesome deal.

Power Smoothie found on Buzzfeed (my version!)

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I love me a solid green smoothie, but have a hard time finding ones that don’t require a ton of fruit to balance out the greens. However, this recipe has been my go to and it is the perfect combination of sweet, green, refreshing and filling. The only changes I make are I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk instead of soy, and add in 3 drops of vanilla stevia to make up for the sweetness. It. Is. SO. Good. I’ve had this nearly every other day for a few months now, sometimes subbing in berries for the pears and kale for the spinach. It’s a delicious, quick breakfast!

Super Cortisol Support

supercortisol

At my most recent doctor’s appointment, my doctor expressed concern about my stress levels. While stress isn’t something new to me, graduate school, work, and struggles with my thyroid may have been exacerbating it a bit. While this hasn’t necessarily helped with weight loss, it has given me a clearer mind and helped me manage my stress levels a bit better. There is a noticeable difference in my mental clarity when I do not take it, especially around bedtime, so this one will definitely be repurchased.

Bigelow Lemon Ginger Herb Tea with Probiotics

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I’ve mentioned before that I’m a huge kombucha fan – when I have my bad days where I feel absolutely awful, no matter what I eat (or don’t) I typically reach for a kombucha and it helps significantly. However, kombucha is pricey, and I need to keep it to the occasional treat rather than a daily thing. Enter this tea, which has a similar flavor to my favorite kevita drink, and has probiotics as well! Granted, it isn’t as effective as kombucha, it does help settle my stomach. Not to mention, it’s delicious!

Summer Dresses from Old Navy

If you’re in need of comfortable, flattering summer dresses and don’t want to spend much, hit up Old Navy – but wait for a sale. Old Navy is affordable as is, but I scored all three of the above dresses for $7-$20 each. The left one I have in black and pink, both costing me $7. The one on the right, I purchased in black and is a little dressier – would be great to wear to a wedding, or casually. The center one is my favorite, a fitted striped ponte dress that cinches in at the waist. I’m debating wearing it to a wedding this summer but it’s also the perfect dress for work. I’ve bought many Old Navy items and the quality holds up, in my opinion! All of my money goes to school, books and basic living necessities, so it’s nice to still look cute without breaking the bank. 🙂

Soap & Glory Righteous Body Lotion

soapandglory

I’ve had the Hand Food lotion from Soap & Glory on and off for years, but only recently tried out their body lotion. I found it on sale at Ulta, and I’m completely obsessed with the smell; clean, semi-sweet and super feminine. While the smell alone sold me, I ended up loving the formula, too. The scent stays put and it packs some serious moisture, staying put until my next shower everyday.

  • What’s your favorite product of the summer so far?
  • Happy July!!

WIAW #41 – Plant-based & Puppy Baths

Good morning! Long time no see 😉

My breakfast this morning: 1 slice of Julie’s (from PBfingers.com) baked oatmeal topped with pb and hemp seeds with a green smoothie!

 

I know, I know, this is where I restate my case for being “M.I.A.”, but you guys know the drill by now. Still chugging away at school, chipping away at work, and trying my best to have a life outside of it all. Despite being busy, I’m actually in a really good groove with everything lately. (Hence the post, I suppose!) I’m currently wrapping up my first condensed semester of the summer where I’m taking a multicultural counseling class and a chemical dependency class. I’ve said it once, but I’ll say it again: I love my program. This session ends on July 1st, and I start my second session on the 5th when I’ll be taking a psych measurement and evaluation class. I’m a bit nervous about that class, but the professor teaching it is one of my favorites so I’ think I’ll make it out unscathed. 🙂

Now that we’re big-picture caught up, let’s chat food and fitness!

WIAW-New
Thanks to Laura from Sprint2TheTable for hosting!

From Tuesday: This morning was pretty hectic. I took Gracie girl for our usual morning walk, but on our way back she couldn’t help but roll in the grass on our front lawn – I checked and there was nothing there (sometimes she tries to roll in poo!) so I let her have her happy puppy moment. But the second we got inside, I could tell she rolled in something. She had nothing on her, but the smell was horrible! Cue an impromptu puppy bath before I headed off to work!

She’s lucky she’s cute.

I then grabbed the oats I’d prepped before our walk, tossed them in the microwave and ate them on the way.

Looks gross, tastes awesome: 1/2 cup oats with grated zucchini, blueberries and pb swirled in.

For lunch, I had my recent favorite salad: kale massaged with avocado, lemon and sea salt, with spinach, broccoli slaw, cranberries, almonds and the tiniest bit of goat cheese. I also had half a can of Amy’s organic vegetable soup in a mason jar on the side.


Around 3PM, I had some chocolate Sun Warrior vegan protein (good, but the chocolate Sun Warrior PLUS flavor is still my favorite) with a banana and peanut butter. This snack checks all the boxes: carbs, fats, and protein!

sunw

I hit the gym right around 5PM and was excited to see I only had 30 minutes of cardio on the menu for the day. After yesterday’s leg day I wasn’t feeling lifting much anyway. I’m currently following Lee Labrada’s 12 Week Lean Trainer program from Bodybuilding.com and am really enjoying it. After the 5×5 app, I moved toward a push, pull, leg routine and this is similar to that split. I follow the program along on the Bodyspace app, which is super convenient but in all honestly, I wouldn’t recommend that app for anything other than tracking the program as it’s incredibly clunky.

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After the gym, I munched on a clementine before dinner (not pictured) and kept things really simple. Dinner was carrots, cucumber, hummus, and two teriyaki tofu blocks. This flavor is really good and if you’re lazy like me, you don’t have to heat them up!

I finished the night with my favorite flavor of Kevita kombucha. YUM.

You can probably tell, I’m still eating mostly plant-based. Meat hasn’t been sitting well with my digestive system, so I try to limit it. Usually I only have it if Josh and I go to a barbecue or an event where it’s the least processed option. I also occasionally will have eggs and this week tried out some goat cheese because I had a craving for a specific salad. It’s not my goal to be vegetarian or vegan – I’m just trying to find the foods that work best for my body and my digestive system, since my hypothyroidism is determined to throw everything off track.

As far as my hypothyroidism goes, it’s still a work in progress. I’m hoping my doctor will let me try out T3 supplementation when I meet with her for my yearly physical. I have lost a little bit of the extra weight, and my clothes are fitting much better lately. I’ll be sure to post any updates that might be helpful to others if I eventually find my way through all of this! 🙂

  • What’s your favorite summer salad?
  • Do you use Bodyspace? Yay or nay?

WIAW #40: Bintliff’s, Pancakes & An Abundance of Whole Foods

Good morning and happy hump day!

These past few weeks have been pretty intense for me, but next week is Spring Break, so of course, this week is crawling. However, I’m looking forward to some free time to work on assignments and get my priorities straight before the toughest part of the semester hits.

Since I last posted, Josh turned 27 (Happy Birthday, Love!!) and I wrapped up training at the gym I’d been working at. Other than that, there’s been a ton of stuff going on in my program, but that’s a long, boring stressful post and I’ll spare you the details 😉

On another note, Josh and I went to Bintliff’s (now Bayside American Cafe) in Portland. They’re pretty famous for their brunch and Josh wanted to go for his birthday. We both ordered eggs Benedict – mine with the sauce on the side and potatoes, his with the sauce and corned beef hash. It was super delicious, just the right amount of food, and it didn’t sit heavy like a lot of savory brunch food does. Kudos to them for not smothering everything in butter and oil.

The menu
The birthday boy!

The food. Nom nom nom.

In summary: Bintliff’s is worth the wait in the morning and while they serve typical brunch foods, it’s much tastier and lighter than the usual old diner grub.

Moving on, let’s get in to the WIAW!

WIAW-New

This picture was from a different day (I didn’t eat a banana or the protein), but here are some of the things I try to start every morning off with: Apple cider vinegar, thyroid energy, vitamin D, and psyllium husks.

Breakfast was the same old staple of 1 egg, whites and oats. (Recycled picture.)

eggoats
Oldie but goodie. Can’t go wrong with eggs and oats!

Lunch was a lean turkey burger, diced purple potatoes and a salad consisting of arugula, alfalfa sprouts, avocado and baby cucumber. Topped with Trader Joe’s champagne pear dressing.

Purple potatoes = so yummy.

Mid-afternoon snack happened because I had a heck of a sweet tooth going, and this seemed to be the perfect little combination. Greek yogurt + 5 grams of About Time’s birthday cake protein + stevia + sliced almonds, topped with yes, sprinkles. I used this as a high protein dip for some apple slices and it was amazing.

Don’t let Grace fool you… she begged until she realized her efforts were futile. 🙂

Workout of the day was my 5×5 StrongLifts workout. I had overhead press, squats, deadlifts, barbell curls, hanging knee raises and pullups that day, and felt really good after. Training wise, I’ve been doing a simpler approach. Instead of doing a body split 6 days a week, I’m using two apps to get in a combination of heavy lifting and cardio: Couch to 10K and 5×5 Strong Lifts.

 

training

I lift as heavy as possible on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and follow along my Couch to 10K on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Sundays are left for whatever I feel like – usually the stairmill, elliptical, treadmill and some glute or shoulder work. Unless I take a yoga day or rest day. I love how simplified this is – being able to just alternate an app and follow along. It takes the stress out of planning a workout and I’m really excited to be building endurance and strength simultaneously.

After my workout, dinner was another lean turkey burger with white rice over a side salad of arugula, sprouts and avocado, topped with Trader Joe’s green dragon sauce. (That stuff beats sriracha any day.)

Later on in the evening, my sweet tooth was kicking in, but I wanted to keep it on the light side so I did a variation of my protein pancake (pictured here in all it’s glory, with bananas). The version I had instead, halfed all of the ingredients and replaced the oats with 10 grams of psyllium husk. I also nixed the bananas, because I just wasn’t hungry for a big pancake with all the fixins. 🙂 It hit the spot!

And I want to share this amazingly delicious acai bowl from Maine Squeeze juice cafe with you (I ate it over the weekend, not the same day) because it’s beautiful. :p Also, Josh’s trip to Cali and snaps of delicious acai bowls made me crave one big time!

I need to make these a staple. But my poor wallet just won’t allow it. 😉

  • What are some of your favorite eats this week?
  • Have you ever had an acai bowl?
  • Any cool training apps you swear by?