It’s Okay To Struggle

I want to be as honest as I can – I struggle. More often than I would like to admit sometimes. I don’t know why but when my life isn’t going the way I envision it or I am piled with stress from every direction, I can’t help but feel a fog come over me. As many of you may know that I used to deal with eating issues, I can gladly say I have that under control completely. I never let my negative feelings interfere with how or what I choose to eat. However, I am one to struggle with overwhelming anxiety and sometimes depressing thoughts…

Today I was sitting in my room and really thought to myself, “my life has no purpose”. I started crying after that because the immense feelings of rejection and loneliness hit me like a bag of cats. Emotional much? Yes. Because I am naturally an introvert, it is so easy for me to spend the entire day by myself without a problem. But when it becomes day after day, I can’t help but feel empty. Now, don’t get me wrong- I become a total extrovert when I am finally around my friends or a group of people, but with a lot of emotional self-image issues I have been dealing with lately, I haven’t even had the motivation to reach out to others.

I do see the problem here- I’m too comfortable being alone. And this is something that I have to change. There is nothing wrong with spending some time with yourself, but there comes a point you have to balance it out, let loose, and be around those that bring you joy.

I have made goals for myself to hang out with my friends at least every other day this week and to even talk to random strangers every day. Sometimes even the smallest conversations with others can make the biggest difference in the course of the day.

I wiped my tears. I will stop feeling sorry for myself. I will not let my negative self-image hold me back from being the REAL me. Because I realize that the more I surround myself with genuine people that make me laugh, all the other stuff becomes quiet. And I can breathe again. My life does indeed have purpose. God does have a plan for me even if I cannot see it yet. I will have faith ❤

“Comfort zones are great places to be, but nothing ever grows there.”

Fuel YOUR Fitness

Do you like lifting heavy things? How about running til your feet hurt? Or how about a spontaneous hike with your friends? All of these wonderful ways of moving your body require something very essential: FUEL.

It isn’t uncommon that I see athletes under-fueling themselves and wondering why they aren’t making the progress they want as fast. That’s because our bodies run primarily on glycogen! And where does that come from exactly? CARBOHYDRATES. And since carbohydrates are the fastest form of energy, they are essential for every living thing. Our brains alone need at LEAST 130g of carbs a day! So can you imagine how much you actually need if you are trying to lift 200 lbs or run to China and back?….A LOT.

When the body doesn’t have enough glycogen stores in the muscles and the liver, the body then turns to fat stores instead.And when there are not enough fat stores, protein from muscles are used as energy which is NOT healthy as it can lead to heart problems and even death. While using up fat stores may seem ideal for an overweight individual to lose weight, I would never recommend a super low-carb diet to anyone. It all comes down to the types of foods you are choosing to fuel your body with. Growing, healthy young adults need not to compare their needs to someone of that context as their needs are going to be different.

For me personally, I like to get my early morning workout in before breakfast or sometime in the morning. I never train fasted because I have found that my energy is way more sustained throughout my workout if I at least have a small snack beforehand.

These are some easy pre-workout snack ideas that I enjoy:

  • 2 rice cake with peanut butter/jelly
  • GoMacro vegan bars, Larabars, RX bars, really any little energy bar 😉
  • 1 slice whole wheat toast with nut butter + banana
  • Dates with nut butter (can you see a trend here, haha, i’m nutty)
  • Protein smoothie with frozen banana, scoop of plant-based protein powder, cinnamon, ground flaxseed, maca powder, and sometimes cacao powder!
  • My almond butter chocolate chip energy balls
  • A few slices of cold cinnamon baked sweet potato that I usually bake the night before and stick in the fridge (aka perfection)
  • Coconut water
  • Cereal + fruit+ almond milk + MRM vegan cinnamon bun protein (right now I am loving Kashi cinnamon crumble cereal, Kashi dark chocolate karma wheat biscuits, Peanut butter puffins, and the ever so classic Cheerios!)


Really think about combing a good source of carbohydrates before with a little fat/protein to keep you from having a blood sugar crash mid workout. Having something small like in the list above 30-45 minutes before a workout is just enough time for it to digest a little to power you through!

And of course after, follow the same guidelines of eating a good quality source of carbohydrates with protein for muscle synthesis and a little fat. Personally, I love having a big breakfast to start my day and to keep my energy lasting so I don’t have the “afternoon slump”.

I have learned something about myself over the years of trail and error and that is to not ever compare your needs to someone else’s. Some people can do a fasted workout no problem, however, from what I have researched- the stress hormone, cortisol, is the highest in the morning. Eating in the morning helps lower cortisol levels which can help some who have hormonal imbalances. I strongly believe that healthy hormones play a huge role in the overall well-being of the body and I will do all it takes to keep it that way.

So tell me,

How do YOU fuel your fitness?

I Don’t Need A Label

I’m just going to jump right into this because it’s something I have been wanting to get off my chest. As most of you know I made the change to a completely vegan lifestyle in September 2016. You can read about that here. While I feel like this was exactly what I wanted to do for my body and for animals, I am trying to decide if this is exactly what I need to do right now….

Having recovered from a restrictive eating disorder, I know I am in a place now where I would never put that stress on my body ever again. However, I will admit that sometimes I do still feel restricted from certain things if it’s not 100% vegan. I think back to my life before I went vegan, before my eating disorder, heck even before puberty when I was completely carefree about everything. I want that again. Not saying I have been cutting back on my intake because I actually got myself to gain some weight being vegan, but I did it in ways that was a lot harder to do than if I had eaten some animal products.

I still truly believe a plant-based diet is one of the healthiest ways to live, but I do not want to feel like I have to live up to a certain standard just so I can label myself as “vegan”. Food should not have that much control over anyone…. its just food.

I was nervous about posting this out of fear of judgement from other vegans, but I really don’t care anymore. I do not need a label. I don’t need to live under anyone else’s standards either. If I get judgement from my choice, that doesn’t make you a better person. I just want to be happy. Completely happy. And as a college student it’s sometimes really hard to find a 100% vegan option when out with friends or at a social event. In that case I don’t want to be the only one left hungry and missing out on fun times because I couldn’t eat something that wasn’t completely vegan.

You have to do what is right for you. Doesn’t matter if you choose to be vegan, paleo, gluten free, whatever… we are all still human and food shouldn’t be super stressed out about. I will decide what is right for me. That being said, if something I eat has a little dairy or egg in it, it’s okay. No one should care so much what I choose to do anyways. I still don’t want to eat meat and that’s a personal decision of mine.

Shout out to Jen’s video for inspiring me to speak out ❤ She says it perfectly.

Afterthought, I would one day love to post videos of me talking instead of just blog posts but I find myself so camera awkward that I don’t think I could handle it hahah. But if anyone has any thoughts I am all ears!

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Energy Balls

I just posted the recipe on my Instagram page (@lil.emmy97) this week! I obviously had to make it official and put it on my blog so I never forget it 🙂 

I enjoy having these right before a early morning workout because I’m usually not really hungry first thing in the morning. These are also great after a workout because it has a nice balance of carbs, protein, and healthy fats! With the ground flaxseed, chia seeds, and almonds- these suckers are full of both omega 3’s and 6’s which are both important for a healthy diet. 

Recipe:

  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 60g rolled oats
  • 1 scoop vega vanilla protein & greens protein powder
  • 1/3 cup ground flaxseed 
  • 1 T. chia seeds
  • 3 T. blue agave syrup 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract 
  • 1-2 T. Enjoy life foods dark chocolate chips 
  • Just a little bit of water to loosen- but not too much or else you will lose the thickness!

Just mix all ingredients together in a bowl and form into 15 balls!

My whole family and I loved them so this recipe will for sure be continuously used 😉

What is your favorite little snack?

Vegan Banana Date Bread

The last time I made my vegan pumpkin bread, I received a suggestion from my dad. He thought it would be yummy to add some chopped dates to the bread for extra sweetness. So I found myself bored out of my mind the other day as the weather was gloomy and cold. No motivation to study Chem anymore so naturally I started procrastibaking. But this series of procrastibaking turned into something very productive because this recipe rocked my fuzzy socks off!

I was originally planning to bake the same pumpkin bread as last time but we had a lot of ripe bananas that had to be used so I tried modifying the recipe. Instread of using pumpkin, I subbed extra banana for extra natural sweetness. Keeping my dad’s request in mind, threw in those dates 🙂

Recipe:

  • 1 1/4 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 1/2 T. ground flaxseed
  • 2 large ripe bananas, mashed
  • 4 oz. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 T. agave or maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • dash of ground ginger
  • about 3/4 cup chopped pitted dates

First, mix ground flax into a large bowl and add 4 Tbsp. water and let sit for 5 minutes. Then add mashed banana, applesauce, agave and whisk.

Next, add baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and 1/2 cup water and whisk again.

In another bowl, combine the oat flour, oats and almond meal. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until fully combined. Then throw in the chopped dates and stir.

Pour into a parchment lined loaf pan and bake at 375 F for about 40 minutes and a toothpick comes out clean in the center.

Allow to cool in pan for at least 20 minutes before cutting. Keeps for up to a week in the fridge!

This bread is lightly sweetened because it contains no refined sugar, if you like things really sweet you can try adding any sweetener you would like but I don’t think it needed it!

As you can see, anything can be topped with peanut butter for good measure 😉

 

Vegan Apple Cinnamon Mugcake

Before becoming vegan, I used to eat a lot of those protein packed mugcakes for snacks. But I thought, how could I still make a satisfying mugcake without the whey protein and egg? Actually a lot simpler than you think! I don’t even remember how I came up with this delicious treat but it sure did come out perfectly!

mugcake

You don’t need eggs to make a fluffy mugcake. All you need is a moist substance like mashed banana, ground flaxseed, pumpkin… in this case I used applesauce! Made this mugcake really soft and added a little sweetness too ❤

Recipe:

  • 1/2 cup (50g) oat flour + 2 Tbsp. oats
  • 3 oz. unsweetened applesauce
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • enough almond milk to make a batter (about 3 oz.)
  • *optional: sweetener of choice (I used english toffee liquid stevia)

First, mix together the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Then stir in the wet and mix until well combined. Microwave about one minute until cooked through. Microwave times will vary depending on the size of the bowl. Sometimes, I have to cook a little longer but I actually don’t mind a little mushiness in the middle (preference). Make sure you don’t cook for too long or else it could dry out and you’ll just be sad. I love to top with some kind of nut butter and fruit! You could also add in dates, ground flaxseed, or other mix-ins to the batter and it would still come out nice.

Delicious little snack to have before bed or for a small breakfast! Like eating a pancake in a bowl 😉

If you give it a try, lemme know what you think!

(sorry not sorry for the picture quality, the only one I have haha)

Afraid Of The Unknown

Fear. It’s an  unsatisfying emotion caused by believing that something bad will happen. We as humans are able to tell when there is a threat, whether that be internal or external. But why are certain things more fearful to some  while others may deem no threat at all?

Me, being the totally Type A, plan-it-all-out, perfectionist struggle with fearing the unknown. There are many aspects of my life that I cannot simply write down in stone and plan out. I have no flippin idea where my life will be in 5 years, in 1 year, and not even in 6 months from now. Because change is inevitable and what my life has shown me so far is that things don’t always go according to plan. So, knowing this, why do I stress myself out over the little things?

I don’t know why. I think the wires in my brain got crossed somehow before I was born and I naturally tend to overthink every little thing…. And I need to work on that. I need to continue to work on practicing more of the things I preach to others. Because it can be so easy to give advice and fail to include yourself…..

Besides my future, I will admit that I am afraid of failure. In so many parts of my life that I could go on for longer than I want to make this post….

But what would I do if I wasn’t so afraid?

Well, for starters I would probably be the most stress-free person you would meet. I would  be way more spontaneous. I wouldn’t settle for anything less than what makes me happy. When I compare how I am doing now than to a year ago, I have made tremendous progress. However, little setbacks like to creep in if I am not careful. But that’s okay. It is OKAY to have “mental funks” as long as you can recognize them and respond in the best way possible.

I don’t want to fear anymore. I want to be fearless and conquer all the things I hold back from myself. Because life shouldn’t be lived worrying about things out of your control. It should be spent cherishing every breathing moment because every second of the day is very precious. I don’t want to take my health for granted. There are so many people out there who have it worse. I want to be more spontaneous in my actions every single day and not freak the hell out if something changes. There is a reason why things happen the way they do even if we don’t always have the answers why.

I will always be a person that values structure and a schedule, but there comes a point where I have to learn to balance it and give myself grace some days. Totally wing it and go with the flow of things. Some of my best memories are the ones that weren’t planned.

Here’s to leaving my comfort zone.

So tell me,

Are you a planner or a go-with-the-flow person?

What is your favorite way to de-stress?

 

 

Why I Chose Vegan

I am exposing what I have been hiding for quite sometime. I don’t really know why I was hesitant to tell most people this… judgement? rejection? But I am going to be totally transparent and share what I believe in and why veganism is what I have chosen for myself.

I want to stroke you ^^

Let’s get into the background information as to what lead me to this…

I initially became interested in a plant-based diet ever since I stumbled across the book “How Not To Die” by Michael Greger M.D. also founder of http://nutritionfacts.org/.  Because I am going to school for dietetics, it’s not surprise that I am a total ‘nutrition nerd’ and probably could use a shirt saying so, haha. I am currently still working on finishing it  but after the first few chapters, it opened my eyes. I could not believe some of the things the meat and dairy industry do to animals and to the food they make from them. Along with reading this book I have searched through several articles and scholarly journals, watched a few documentaries, and sought advice from some of my vegan friends.

The answer could not have been more clear to me that this was the lifestyle I wanted to begin.

For the as long as I can remember, dairy has not cooperated with my body. Whenever I would use to eat it, my stomach would bloat the size of a watermelon and I would get really gassy, sometimes causing stomach pain. And I can’t just blame greek yogurt (the worst offender) but all the foods that contain animal products: eggs, cheese, protein bars and powders, some breads, packaged food items, dressings, crackers, you name it.

When I went to the doctors a few months ago I had a high amount of protein in my blood (see post) and I knew something had to change. I first stopped eating protein bars and whey protein powders but I still didn’t always feel too great.  Super full and bloated all the time, low energy, constipation, and I am going to be quite honest that I was eating protein bars just because I thought they were healthy and were doing my body good as to “make muscle gains”…. but little did I know they were not doing me any good. What my body was truly asking for was for REAL FOOD.

I remember having chicken for dinner one day and while I was eating it I realized I actually had no appetite for it. I was just eating it because it was there but so many other things could have been more satisfying for me. The next day I decided to try a vegan diet to test how hard it would be. To my surprise, it was actually super easy.Therefore, I tried it for a week. Let me tell you that by the end of that week I was feeling on top of the world. Could not believe all the energy I had all day and I literally think I pooped 3 times one day… TMI I don’t care, I share 😉 I already loved plant-based foods so making this change was not hard at all.

While some of you reading might have your own strong opinion on this topic, your feelings are 100% valid, but let me explain to you further. Yes, I USED to have eating issues. Yes, there are days that I admit are not perfect, I’m human. No, I am not using this to relapse into restrictive behaviors. That is not what a vegan diet is about. It’s about how it makes you feel. Compassion for animals. Doing what I feel is right in my heart. Unless you are going vegan in means to lose weight or avoid foods, a vegan diet is not restrictive. In today’s age, there are sooo many alternatives out there. Vegan ice cream, mac and cheese, pizza, burritos, chocolate, tempeh bacon,  ANYTHING can be made vegan. You can eat an abundance of plant-based foods with this lifestyle. In regards to all the stereotypes, a vegan diet is not eating lettuce all day.

And guess what? I have not lost weight since beginning this. What has happened:

  • increased energy levels
  • more “regularity”
  • doubling/tripling my carbohydrate intake
  • fear of carbs/sugars has diminished
  • my mind is free from obsessing about macros/calories
  • i feel happy and less stressed out
  • discovered my love of dates and bananas (erry day)
  • sleeping much better
  • less bloating/constipation

Do I recommend this for someone recovering from an eating disorder? It’s all in context. Ask yourself WHY you are truly doing this. Everyone is different. Different needs, bodies, mentalities, values, desires… so just because I am choosing this, doesn’t mean you have to. If you ever consider a change like this I highly recommend you a ton of research before even thinking about it. There are a lot of factors to consider and things you must know so you can ensure you are keeping your health in check.

I was thinking about doing a Q&A in the next week or so for people with any questions or concerns about veganism in general. You can literally ask anything you want to. Comment below  or shoot me an email at emlove814@gmail.com. These will be anonymous so I won’t put your name in the Q&A.

Baked Falafels

I remember the first time I saw a falafel, I was totally repulsed and turned off by the idea of a “fried ball of chickpeas”. I was about 6-7 years old and very naive to the fact that falafels are basically PURE MEDITERRANEAN BLISS.


What’s my favorite part about these special, homemade falafels though? For one, they are baked and totally oil-free! Secondly, they literally have 7 ingredients. DAS IT. Literally a monkey could make these, although if you don’t want monkey hair in your falafel ball I recommend making these yourself.

The Goods:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup oat flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 lemon’s juice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp minced garlic

The Process:

In a food processor, add in the parsley, lemon juice, cumin and sea salt and blend until combined.

Then, add in the rest of the ingredients and pulse. You don’t want to blend too much, it should still have some texture to it kind of like fluffy rice. If it looks like a smoothie, ditch it and repeat step one.

Next, form into 4 falafel patties with your hands and try to make them as firm as possible so they don’t fall apart. Place falafels on a foil lined cooking sheet and bake at 375 F for about 30-40 minutes (flipping halfway through) until a little crispy on the outside. If you want them more crisp, you can throw them in a pan and brown them.

It’s that easy!

So much flavaaa they don’t even need a sauce but if you must, I really love adding either hummus, tahini, or tzaziki sauce! Wrap in a pita, serve on a crisp salad, or just as a little snack.

These last up to a week in the fridge and a couple months in the freezer.

Lemme know if you try them out 🙂

 

 

 

Less Protein For MY Health

I have changed quite a bit from last year. Mentally, physically, socially, but my health has changed too. But up until recently when I made a trip to an endocrinologist about my hormones (hypothalamic amenorrhea) and just a general blood test, I discovered something I had no clue existed. For starters let me say that my hormone levels came back normal except for my LH being too low. Hence, no menstrual cycle. While discussing this with my doctor on the phone, he strongly suggested birth control and gaining a little more weight. Of course I happen to be a little frustrated because I told him birth control didn’t work on me and that’s not the way I can get a natural period. Doctors are really one-sided and he continued to tell me it’s the only option.

my response…..

So gaining weight it is! Gotcha doc.

eat-all-of-the-food

But he failed to tell me something that could be very important to my health long-term…

my blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine (not creatine you gym junkies) were HIGH.

Curious little me did some research. What I learned was…

Urea is made when protein is broken down in the body. This also is an indicator of how your kidneys and liver are working. Causes of a high BUN is heart failure, dehydration, and a high protein diet. Well, I haven’t had heart failure and I drink well around 64 oz of fluids a day. Oh, but I’m sitting there eating a protein bar with yogurt just because “gains” right?

Creatinine relates to BUN as it shows how well the kidneys are working. Having high creatinine is a sign that the kidneys are not working properly.

Well damn.

But it all makes sense. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one out there that has fallen victim to buying a shit ton of protein bars, powders and supplements because it’s what you need for building muscle, right?! Well…. what about your kidneys?

Yes, it is science that protein consumption increases muscle synthesis. But what if you are over-doing it?

I think of all the other women out there that live their lives everyday not eating protein bars, protein cookies, protein pancakes, and protein shakes for their snacks every single day. They live perfectly fine and they still seem to be in shape and have muscle.

What I get from all this is as long as you are eating a good amount of protein from a variety of whole foods such as beans, meat, yogurt, cheese, etc. then why are we supplementing so much? I am so glad I did my own background research to see what I was doing. And I am surprised he did not mention this to me.

                      

Am I going to completely cut protein bars and powders from my diet? No. I am going to limit them. I will use them if it’s after a workout and I don’t have time to make a full meal. Maybe I’ll have a quest bar if I REALLY crave it, but by no means will I keep eating them day after day. I am going to focus on just eating whole foods and change my snacks up a bit. I am not a “clean” eater by all means but instead of a protein bar, maybe I’ll have an apple with peanut butter… popcorn, trail mix, a REAL non-protein cookie instead.

And I will be just fine. I don’t expect my body to change much from this. If it does, it doesn’t really matter. My overall health is what matters. I would love to have healthy kidneys that last me my whole life.

I really hope that whoever reads this really considers how much extra protein you are eating and what that could do for you in the long run. We are set out to believe it’s the best macro nutrient out there but just like anything else, moderation is key.

I love to hear any thoughts/comments/concerns so hit me up! 😉

emlove814@gmail.com