02/27/17

Self-compassion

How often do you practice self-compassion? 

Self-compassion defined: An attitude that involves treating oneself with warmth and understanding in difficult times and recognizing that making mistakes is a part of being human. 

In my 37 years of life, I have come across a LOT of people who do some serious self-bashing. I know people who are incredibly hard on themselves by engaging in negative self-talk, shaming, and criticism. At the same time, those same people are some of the kindest, most giving and sincere people I know. The truly would give the shirts off their back to someone in need. 

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why is it easy to show others kindness and compassion but not ourselves?

Sometimes people believe that being kind to ourselves means being selfish or self-centered. Some people believe that they are, in fact, living a better life by being self-critical as it’s a way to guilt or shame themselves into achieving a goal or improving an aspect of their life. But it’s actually the opposite! When we are hard on ourselves, studies have show that those actions can lead to failure, depression or even anxiety! When we are self-critical, we lose faith in ourselves and our abilities. When we talk down to ourselves or hold onto a negative self-image, we begin to actually believe and live those thoughts instead of changing them.

Showing yourself compassion and kindness through practicing positive self-talk, demonstrating habits of self-kindness and granting yourself grace in times of struggle or difficulty allows us to experience life with an open heart and a tolerance that helps us to be open to enjoying successes and the progress towards those successes. It also leads better management of mistakes or setbacks when they arise. When we look at and appreciate life as a developmental experience, (to evolve or unfold gradually), instead of a battle we need to “survive”, we are able to show ourselves self-compassion and sympathy, which ultimately strengthens our coping skills and resilience (the ability to bounce-back under adversity).  When we notice things about ourselves that we want to change, we do so, not because we think we’re inadequate, or sub-par, but because we love and honor ourselves. 

According to Kristin Neff, Ph.D., associate professor in human development at the University of Texas at Austin, self-compassion has three main parts (from her website on self-compassion):

  • Self-kindness: Being kind, gentle and understanding with yourself when you’re suffering, instead of ignoring or criticizing the reasons why we are suffering. 
  • Common humanity: Realizing that you’re not alone in your struggles. When we’re struggling, we tend to feel especially isolated. We think we’re the only ones to experience loss, make mistakes, feel rejected or fail. But it’s these very struggles that are part of our shared experience as humans.
  • Mindfulness: Observing life as it is, without being judgmental or suppressing your thoughts and feelings.

So how DO we show ourselves compassion? Here are 26 ways to start. 

01/10/17

Healthy cooking for beginners

Out of all the searches that drive readers to my blog, the top search phrase has always been “healthy cooking for beginners”. I get a LOT of questions about how to meal plan, how to shop and how to cook. I’ve had people tell me that their eating habits are horrible because they “can’t cook”, and resort to pre-packaged foods, fast food and dining out. I’ve heard this on the blog, social media and even in person. 

Well, I’m here to tell you that healthy cooking is EASY. No seriously, I promise! Here are my tips for getting started in a healthy meal prep routine… and making a habit of it! 

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First things first
What does it mean to “eat healthy”? For me, it’s eating whole, unprocessed foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, proteins, beans, dairy products, nuts, honey, butter, etc. Yes, I eat full fat items. Typically foods labeled “fat free” come with a price: high sugar content, calories, preservatives, etc. Keep it clean, fresh and natural. Think about how your grandparents and great grandparents ate… yes, this includes “real” fats like butter, olive oil and coconut oil. If you want to learn more about the health benefits of eating fats like our grandparents did, read this

Before we begin, let me say this: I don’t cook everyday. It may seem like that on social media (if you stalk me), however, I don’t. I cook at least 4-5 days a week, but we go out on the weekends for dinner, and breakfast out on Sundays. And honestly, some of those weekdays involve eating leftovers.  I do all of my shopping and meal prep on Sundays, but if Sundays don’t work for you, find a day that does. You don’t need to shop AND prep on the same day, so divide the time into two separate days if necessary. 

But before you dive into the world of shopping and prepping, consider the following:

  • What is in your fridge and pantry right NOW? If your goal is to eat and cook healthier meals, start with a purge of your current food supply. Typically packaged foods that have more than 5 ingredients in a label are purge worthy. Anything that contains MSG, high fructose corn syrup and/or giant words that Siri wouldn’t even be able to pronounce shouldn’t be going into your nor your family’s bodies. Take a look at your spice cabinet as well and look for the same kinds of words on those labels. If you’re feeling guilty about throwing those items away, consider donating them to a food pantry or soup kitchen. 
  • What are some of your (and your family’s) favorite foods? If you live alone, think about what you enjoy eating. Make a list and cross off the items that are prepackaged, processed crap. Focus on what’s left behind and keep your list handy when planning meals. Have children or a spouse? Consider giving them the same survey and collecting info about what their favorites are. Are “chocolate chip cookies” making an appearance on your list? So what. You can totally make those from scratch with whole ingredients easily. It’s not about restricting what you’re eating, it’s about rethinking what you’re eating. 
  • What tools do you have in your kitchen? Keep it simple. All you really need for healthy prep and cooking is a sharp cutting knife, cutting board, vegetable peeler, can opener, saute pan, baking sheet/jelly roll pan, food processor OR blender, a simple slow cooker (think $20 at Target), a somewhat deep pot, your oven (of course), a spatula and a wooden spoon.
  • What’s your weekly grocery budget? This is a big one, as healthy eating always comes with a higher price tag. Consider shopping at a local farmer’s market or joining a co-op to save money on your fresh produce. Look for BOGO deals and other sales on meat at local supermarkets and stock up (if you have the space) when you find a good deal. Join a rewards club (like Winn Dixie’s gas points) or a bulk store membership (like Sam’s). Plan meals that are heavier on vegetables and beans (like chili) that will stretch your dollar further. 

Meal planning
Whether you’re completely new to cooking or cook regularly, plan to prepare 2-3 healthy meals each week to start. You can easily double most recipes, giving you leftovers that you can freeze, take to lunch or serve for another dinner option that week. Most recipes can be used in other ways as well (think slow cooker pork loin and black beans becomes pork tacos another meal). 

Before you start your weekly meal plan, think about what you currently KNOW how to do. 

  • Can you grill? Think grilled chicken, steaks, burgers, veggies (wrapped in foil with salt, pepper and a bit of oil)
  • Can you roast? Think roasted veggies and roast chicken or turkey cutlets. 
  • Can you saute? Think sauteed chunks of chicken and veggies for stir fry, mushrooms and onions for burger, steak and chicken toppings, fish filets with a little butter, lemon and fresh herbs, ground meats like chicken and beef for tacos, lettuce wraps and meat sauces over veggie noodles (like thinly sliced ribbons of zucchini). 
  • Can you bake? Think baked whole chickens stuffed with lemon wedges, fresh herbs and drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper, homemade meatballs lined up in a dish and baked until golden brown, and homemade fritattas with eggs and veggies like spinach, onions and fresh herbs, for breakfast options. 
  • Can you turn ON a slow cooker? Think slow roasted pork loin, brisket, chili, soups, shredded bbq chicken, chowder. 
  • Can you boil? Think boiled sweet potatoes topped with ground beef, veggies and shredded cheese, thinly sliced ribbons of squash or zucchini (as a pasta replacement), hard boiled eggs to add in salads, and cauliflower, rutabaga or parsnips boiled then mashed with milk and cream cheese. 

Think about what you CAN do and build on those strengths. Sure, there will be times when you might try a recipe that’s a no-go (I’ve done it PLENTY of times), but it certainly doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel. Cooking is a science. It’s all about exploring and testing different flavor combinations that work and please you and your family. Don’t be scared to play around. And, try being a little adventurous during each trip to the market! I like to try and purchase 1 new item at the market each time I visit. Maybe it’s a new vegetable, or a fish I’ve never tried. This keeps things interesting in the kitchen, and teaches me to learn to like new things (and not be scared to cook them!). 

Once you’ve established what you know how to do as far as technique goes, grab a pen and pad and get to work on a list. I try to never complete a big grocery trip without a list. If you’re thinking about going grain free and low sugar (like me), feel free to use and print the list I’ve made with compliant foods that you can find in your local market. You can find the list here. If you just can’t seem to give up grains, consider trying quinoa as a rice or pasta replacement. You can click on this link to learn all about purchasing and preparing this ancient seed. You can also try using cauliflower as a rice replacement! It’s delicious! Here is a recipe for cauliflower “rice”. Squash, zucchini, and spaghetti squash also make a great pasta replacement. Check out Rachael Ray’s recipe for zucchini noodles, this recipe for spaghetti squash and sausage bake (think baked ziti!) and my recipe for unpasta lasagna with squash and eggplant instead of noodles! 

Before you create a shopping list, start with your meals. Here are some “norms” that show up in our house each week:

  • Breakfast: Try blending fruit and milk with your favorite protein shake. Not into morning shakes? How about mini fritattas and crust-less quiches? I make them ahead of time, freeze or refrigerate them, then warm them up throughout the week for breakfast. You can add your family’s favorite veggies, cheeses and meats. They’re easy, portable, healthy and delicious! I also like to chop up fresh fruit and place them in baggies, plain yogurt with honey and walnuts (buy a big container and use small Tupperwares to divide). Greek yogurt pancakes are also an easy make ahead breakfast item that you can refrigerate or freeze, then warm up when ready. Want to make them grain free? Try almond flour instead of regular flour and use plain yogurt (sweeten with honey or pure maple syrup). 
  • Lunch: I pack my lunch most days, and usually they consist of dinner leftovers. We try to grill out on Sunday evenings, giving me an opportunity to grill up extra chicken (breasts or boneless/skinless thighs) and burgers then pack those for lunch (think grilled chicken salads and burger salads.) To go along with lunch I prep bags of carrot and celery sticks, grape tomatoes, and cucumber slices to dip into guacamole or homemade avocado ranch
  • Snacks/Dessert: I love munching on apple slices with peanut or almond butter (ingredients should just be nuts+salt),energy balls, cheese cubes, dried fruits (like figs and apple chips), unsweetened apple sauce, hummus, fresh salsa (in the produce section or make it yourself!), raw nuts (like walnuts, macadamia nuts, and almonds), 85% or higher dark chocolate and fresh whipped heavy cream with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger with fresh berries. I also like to boil a dozen eggs at the beginning of the week for hard-boiled egg snacks, or to toss into salads. 
  • Dinner: I plan on grilling once a week (grilled chicken, burgers, steaks, fish wrapped in foil with veggies). Once a week I make a roast in my slow cooker (pork loin, brisket). Sometimes I’ll bake a whole chicken  (great for chicken salad with the leftovers!). I’ll use leftover grilled chicken or homemade meatballs paired with one of the pasta alternatives mentioned above. Big pots of chili or soup are also great go-to dinners that make for delicious leftover lunches. Some of my favorite sides are mashed cauliflower or rutabaga, butternut squash, roasted veggies, and sweet potatoes.
  • Beverages: Water with lemon or lime and fresh mint, coffee with half and half and cinnamon powder. I love to flavor water with berries, citrus, and fresh herbs like basil and mint. My latest craze is sparkling water (Think LaCroix!). It’s such a satisfying treat! 

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This is just a sample of what my week looks like as far as meal planning goes. Remember, build on your strengths in the kitchen, and food likes to help create your own family favorites that are healthy, and you can feel good about cooking each week! 

When you head to the market, stick to your list. Try to shop the perimeter of the store (produce, meat/poultry/fish and dairy. Head to the center aisles only for things like nuts, healthy oils (coconut, olive oil), dried fruits and seasonings. And never shop on a hungry stomach. Let your list guide you, not your brain! 

Prepping and cooking
Plan to dedicate time to prep everything when you get home from the market. Two hours on a Sunday afternoon will save you TONS of time during the week. Wash and chop all of your veggies ahead of time (keep in mind things like apples and pears will brown if pre-cut). Utilize gallon and sandwich/snack sized bags for cut veggies for roasting and snacks. Pre-wash greens and fresh herbs, then keep them dry and long lasting by wrapping them in paper towels before placing them into Ziploc bags. Do not freeze fresh greens, however, a great idea for herbs is to chop them, then freeze them in ice cube trays filled with chicken or vegetable broth. They are an easy way to add flavor to soups, slow cooker recipes and so much more. Pre-season roasts and meats, then place them into gallon sized bags to marinate (they can be easily frozen in the marinade), then defrosted the night before you plan to cook them. Post a list of everything you plan on preparing that week for dinner as a reminder of things like what to take out of the freezer ahead of time (and of course, to keep you motivated and organized!) 😉

Want to save even more time? If you find that you have extra time on those weekend prep days, consider roasting veggies, baking sweet potatoes and steaming cauliflower for sides! Store them in containers, refrigerate or freeze then warm up when needed throughout the week, that way you’ll only need to focus on cooking your protein on busy weekday evenings. Stews, chilis, cooked beans and soups also freeze well ahead of time, so when you have the time, whip up these dishes in advance and store them in your freezer for when you’re in a pinch and are dangerously close to hitting the drive thru. Get into the habit of labeling containers and Ziploc baggies before you store them away in the freezer. When times get really crazy, you’ll be glad you did! 

I’d love to feature some of YOUR tips for healthy meal planning, prepping and cooking! Comment with your great idea below and I’ll add it into the post, with a link to your blog (if you blog!). 🙂

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01/9/17

#LiveLifeFresh with OrganicGirl! #Giveaway

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post through a partnership with organicgirl to help spread the word about the #LiveLifeFresh campaign. I received compensation in the form of free products for this post. All opinions are my own.

Happy New Year!
I hope you had a wonderful time celebrating the holidays and ringing in 2017!

We spent most of December eating, drinking and definitely being merry with family and friends here in Tampa. 

Now that the new year is here, I’ve got my sights set on the fact that we will be tying the knot in 100 days!

100 days until the big day!? I feel like he just popped the question yesterday! 😉picmonkey-collage

I also said “YES” to the dress a few months ago…dress

I just LOVE my dress. It’s perfect for the outdoor evening wedding we are planning and is so beautifully flowy and flattering. And although it fits, I really want to look and feel my best on our big day! 

Luckily I just recently learned about Organicgirl’s Live Life Fresh campaign!live-life-fresh-home-page-v13

Who is organicgirl? You may have seen these products out and about at your local markets like Publix, Greenwise markets and Whole Foods. Organicgirl is a small group of women and men in California’s fertile Salinas Valley who want to offer the best organic produce ever offered. Their products are organic packaged in 100% recycled plastic containers, and shipped to stores as fast as possible to ensure freshness. 

My two biggest goals for the next 100 days (and beyond) is to eat as healthy as I can (clean ingredients, lean meats, lots of fresh produce, limiting refined sugars and grains) and moving my body in some way every day for the next 100 days (walking, Orangetheory, swimming, yoga/stretching).

Organicgirl offers the BEST options for adding healthy, fresh and delicious ingredients into everyday meals and snacks. Although they’re known for their good clean greens and salad love dressings, they also offer delicious cold-pressed green juices! My favorite greens are the sweet pea. SO fresh and delicious! productfeature-sweetpea

All of their products have supported me in my health and fitness goals in the past, so I am VERY excited to hear about organicgirl’s latest campaign to help people be their healthiest self this year! fit

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To help us #livelifefresh, organicgirl is hosting a sign up to win giveaway of salad, dressings and juices FOR A YEAR + a $500 gift card to the trendy online fitness boutique evolve fitwear + $100 to your favorite grocery store! 

Beyond the grand prize, organicgirl will be giving other prizes along the way, too! How CUTE are the clothing options from evolve fitwear? (and many pieces go up to size XXL & XXXL!). 

To enter, click here and let me how your 2017 is going so far!  How do you intend to #LiveLifeFresh this year? 

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08/10/16

Starting from where you are

So often I hear people speaking of regrets. 
How if only they had done x, y or z, life might be a little different, a little better, etc. 
How they’ve waited too long to make a decision, and now it might be too late. 
How they’re too old, or too out of shape, or too <enter excuse here> to reach a goal, try something new or fix a problem they’re experiencing. 

And when they do consider moving past those regrets, they’re often stricken with a bad case of the “what if’s.”
What if I can’t do it? What if it won’t work? What if I give up? What if it turns out badly?  Continue reading

12/31/15

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
I’m excited for the start of a brand new year, and I hope you are as well!
2015 was a VERY good year. PicMonkey Collage

I truly have a lot to be thankful for, wonderful memories to keep in my pocket, and moments to be proud of. I completed my first 1/2 marathon, traveled to some beautiful places, raced in memory of my mom, spent time with friends volunteering and enjoying each other’s company, and bonded even more with my main guy. I know that 2016 will be just as awesome!  Continue reading

09/12/15

Orange Theory Fitness Review

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, nor am I a registered dietitian, nutritionist or personal trainer. I am sharing my own workout and training experience which is unique, and may not reflect the experiences of others. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for them. Before considering any workout routine or lifestyle change, please consult your physician.

If you’ve been an Orangespoken reader for a while now, and follow me on the social media, you’ve probably heard me talk about Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) once or twice, or 1,000 times. It’s because I truly love the place. And that’s no lie. In fact, no one is compensating me for this post. I’m not “working” for Orangetheory (even though my blog title may say otherwise) 😉 I just really dig the workout. I’ve been there for over two years and each time I leave a 60 minute session, I walk out refreshed, energized; feeling strong, empowered and confident. Yes kids, it’s really that good. Continue reading

08/1/15

A fun #yoga event at Fox Fitness!

Yoga has been on my radar for-ev-er.
It’s always been something that I’ve been intrigued by, but never thought I could actually learn to do. 

The thing that has discouraged me from diving in is the fact that I have never felt as though I had “the right body type” to be able to do certain poses or stretches. So although it’s been on my mind, I’ve never actually made the decision to start.  Continue reading

07/9/15

7 tips for working out in the morning

Breaking news: You don’t have to be insane to enjoy morning workouts!

I know right? I was shocked too. People ask me alllllll the time:
“How do you get up so early for workouts? I could NEVER do that!”
Guys, I’m telling you. Morning workouts are where it’s AT.  Continue reading