Travels – Atlanta

Recently, we traveled to Atlanta to meet the newest member of our family, our nephew. It was a great trip. We really miss this little person we just met and hung out with for only a few days. ❤ He loves to be sung to, found ice shaken in a cup to be the funniest thing in the world, and is growing way too fast. We are in love and have to get back to Atlanta ASAP! So glad we were able to make the trip and focused on getting to know the little one. Here is the break down of this trip.


Walking and a little yoga or stretching was mainly the only exercise during this trip. Our nephew loved to just be carried around in a upright position, but you had to keep moving! I walked hundreds of circles around the varies levels of my in-laws home just to keep him smiling. Additionally, we took a short walk as a family, I took a morning walk one day (the beautiful flowers above I spotted everywhere that morning), I stretched before bed each day and yoga one morning. The trip was an active rest break from my typical workouts.


With our nephew being so young and hating being in the car, we primarily hung out at the house or did things close to the house. We arrived in the morning on the first day. We ate lunch at the house, went for a short walk, played with some toys, picked up take-away from an Asian fusion restaurant and then passed out early from waking up at 3 AM to catch a flight.

Day two, I went for a hour long morning walk and returned to enjoy breakfast with the family. Until lunch we mainly just chatted and played with baby in between each of us getting ready for the day. We went out for lunch and to Target, then returned home to chat and play more until baby’s bedtime. We ended the day playing Wits and Wagers and chatting before getting some sleep.

Day three was pretty chill as well. I did about 20-30 min of yoga in the morning, ate breakfast with the family, helped my sister-in-law keep baby distracted in the car while we picked up groceries, ate lunch, played and chatted with baby, ate dinner, and played card games before bed.

Last day, I only had enough time to enjoy breakfast with everyone before heading to the airport. I took the MARTA, which offered me some beautiful views of Atlanta on the way to the airport. This trip is a good example of different priorities than most vacations. I was there to make memories with our newest member for our family and loved every bit it! He has already grown so much since he was born and we cannot wait to see him again this Fall during a family wedding in New Orleans.


Thankfully, my sister-in-law is a nurse and keeps things pretty healthy. Breakfast was hard boiled or scrambled eggs with avocado/cheese and salsa. Lunches at home were simple salads and our lunch out on day two was at Grub Burger Bar where I got the Hippie Chickpea burger. It tasted like falafel with all the Mediterranean sides on top, YUM!And yes, I also got a combination of onion rings and sweet potato waffles fries because it was my treat while I watched others down milkshakes. ;^P


Dinner was homemade from scratch bolognese over spaghetti and buffalo chicken and black bean nachos loaded with more veg than you would expect (corn, olives, greens, etc.). Day one, we picked up Doc Cheys, where I chose a sesame noodle special they were having at the time. It was very delicious and I was able to get it with tofu as my protein.

We did not really eat dessert or snack while we were there, since the meals were so filling and we were busy with getting to know our nephew. I felt like the chill environment and focus on creating memories as a family kept me from doing the typical vacationing with family eating… a combination between loss of appetite, over indulging too much and eating when you are not hungry because they are relentlessly offering you food no matter how much you say no. Any one else have this problem?

Trying to Maintain Balance with Visitors

Recently, my sister visited. Visitors mean I can not stick to my plan as well as I usually do when solo or with my partner because I want to show her a good time. Not that my plan is not exciting, I just want to show her things around town that are incredibly delicious! However, I do not let a visitor turn my whole life upside down.


I woke up before my sister as I typically do before most of my guests. I have always tended to be the only early bird in my family and group of friends. So I was able to workout like usual. Even if my guests wake up at the same time, I either offer that they can join me or they are understanding and use that time to get ready for the day. I have never had anyone question me on why I chose to workout while they are visiting. Exercise is important for your health and I would never expect someone to pass on something so valuable to hang out with me an extra 30 – 90 min.

My sister was in town for a conference, so she had lunch meetings planned. We had some meals at home because she did not feel up to eating out for every meal. Thankfully not too many of my friends and family can afford to eat out every meal. I like to show my guests the town in the way I enjoy it, on a budget! So we might splurge on a special meal, but mostly we hop around from place to place grabbing an empanada here, a vegan biscuits and gravy there to enjoy bites from the best places in the city.


I try to find a balance between my daily life and showing my guest a good time. For instance, if someone wants to visit you and they plan their trip during a work week, they can not expect you to just take those days off. You want to be a good host, but people can entertain themselves. I never want to turn a friend or family member’s life upside down when I visit and actually prefer to experience them in their natural habitat and state of life. So that is how I play things when folks come visit me. You want to listen to what they want to do, while also letting them know when you have your own things going on.

Do share how you try to maintain some balance when people are in from out of town in the comments below!

Post Bulk Update

Currently, I still feeling stronger than before the bulk, but tired from all my work trips. And although I have indulged a bit during these work trips, I have maintained weight and size since I last spoke of my bulk. My digestion feels much better from the switch to more produce than grains. The focus on protein and carbs through fruits and vegetables has me not experiencing bloating so regularly.

I have also stepped up my cardio routine and am up to running 4 miles instead of 3 every weekend. I was getting in 5-7 miles per week when I last spoke to you and now it is 6-8 miles per week. In addition I am doing a circuit of HIIT once or twice per week with my strength training.

Now with the conferences I have been able to keep up with workout out and doing yoga, but I have been also able to get in a lot of walking which likely has helped with any extra calories consumed due to the snacks provided.

I feel like I am on a good track to maintain my strength even with all the unhealthy opportunities over the past 2 weeks. However, I am looking forward to returning home today and eating as gut friendly as possible for a while. This week I am planning to consume sauerkraut, tempeh, sourdough bread, kombucha and maybe yogurt. Plus, I am going to try to not eat outside my meal times.

Hope you had a great week!

Traveling Again

Sorry, short post this week. I am amidst a lot of work travel again so I am hitting trains, planes and the road with my yoga mat and a new set of resistance bands. I will be staying with family or at AirBnBs for all my travel so I will get to prepare some of my own food as well as go out to eat. I love trying the local grub and staying active, especially when attending conferences.



Confluence Kombucha: I meet up with a dear friend for a walk and gut healthy lunch. We shared a Kombucha flight and I had Kimchi and Thai Green Curry soup! AMAZING! If you love fermented food, you should try this place if you are in St. Louis, MO.

4 Hands Brewing: Guava King beer and Mussels

In Minnesota, I am not quite sure yet where I will go, please do let me know any suggestions you may have!

Home away from home meals

Breakfast: Oatmeal made with whole milk, cinnamon and dried fruit

Lunch: Tuna with flax seed and rice crackers

Afternoon snack: Mango and kiwi

Dinner: Tofu tacos or Garlic asparagus pasta


I’m looking forward to playing around with these bands so I can better add them into the workouts I make up myself!


While in St. Louis for a conference, I have the chance to meet up with family and friends. Then in Minnesota I get to check out a Twins baseball game and maybe a musical performance. On top of these fun things I get to visit all the local museums, which I love to do!

Check out my Instagram for travel posts!

Lesson Learned: Spring Slim Down Challenges Do Not Support Me

I have debated a post like this because I do not like to focus on appearance or size. Why? It causes me to have pretty negative thoughts, but slimming down is an important part for many folks to get healthy. I like to promote doing what makes you physically and mentally feel good. When I feel good, I like the way I look. So for me its all about feeling good. Getting to that state happens when I take care of and support myself.

Knowing what does not serve me

April typically kicks off all the challenges for Summer and media ploys toward looking your best in your swimwear. I loved participating in these until I made the connection that the language used by these challenges had me being unfairly negative and harsh toward myself when I did not meet “my goal”. A typically an unrealistic goal which was generated by the expressions from the challengers. I believe for many they can be a great way to kick start getting healthy, but I question how some of these events may be designed.

The wording specifically could be used to market products to you, while hindering you feeling good about the progress you have made. This is what I noticed in myself. I wanted all the stuff they were selling and the body they said I could have if I follow everything they instructed me to do, but then the statements made caused me to feel like the amount of progress made was not enough. So no more Summer body challenges for me. Lesson learned.

Coming off my bulk

If you do not know, bulking means that you eat more calories than you need to maintain your weight so that you gain weight. This weight gain can be in the form of both muscle and fat. I was bulking from November to February. The time of the year you typically eat more any way due to all the winter comfort foods and holiday get togethers, so I figured it to be the best time to bulk.

I am currently changing how I eat after my bulk during the Winter. I took about a month and a half to focus on eating when I felt hungry to halt any over eating habits I had developed during the bulk. I have definitely put on muscle, but also fat. I gained about 6-7 lb. during this time. I now want to stop gaining weight though to see how much muscle I have really put on. I notice I am stronger, but this was really the first time bulking so I am trying to learn what process works best for me to gain strength and hopefully maintain it without becoming over weight again.

I am taking a step back from all added sugars, as well as changing up the distribution of fat, carbs and protein. My calorie in-take will remain the same now that I am back to maintaining. I have seen in the past that when I focus on eating my carbs in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables, reduced the amount of fat by more frequently skipping out on fatty additions (mainly the fried foods, extra cheese, sauces, dressings, nut butters, etc.) and get out of the habit of consuming dessert, I see a more lean body. So to summarize, same amount of calories, but replacing the more frequent treats with high quality, real food.

I will plan to do an update in a month to let you know what I have learned from my first bulk and especially whether or not my strength was maintained. Hope you have a beautiful Earth Day!

Sugar: Best Time for Consumption Part 3

Since I can not consume coffee nor do I want to take energy supplements, foods with sugars can help me power through an intense workout. I plan my weekend workouts to be more intense and tend to be the first thing I do in the morning. Actually, first thing in the morning is typically when it is most convenient for me to do all of my workouts. So I plan out my meals to increase my glycogen stores to help me get through those rise and shine workouts.

Sugars are carbohydrates (carbs) and you need them to fuel your muscles. I have noticed that carbs in the morning help me feel more awake and ready to take on the day. I do try to limit the processed grain carbs I consume, but fruit and vegetables I will eat as much as will fill me up. On top of providing me carbs for energy, fruit and vegetables provide much of the micronutrients I need.


St. Louis’ Finest Indeed! One of the things I ALWAYS indulge for when I visit my family, Ted Drewes. Now you can even get it at the airport!

Now, when I treat myself to dessert (more than just a piece of fruit), I will often line that up with a moderate to intense walk or run following immediately to burn off the energy. Especially since added sugars give me quite the rush and can make it challenging to sleep.

For instance, on Pi day (March 14th) this year I indulged in half a slice of pie some coworkers brought in around 2 PM and within 30 minutes could not focus on my work and felt SUPER jittery! I ended up going for a 2+ mile walk after work, which helped bring me down from my sugar high. My digestion was not in it’s best state, but at least I was not up all night.

Now it may sound like I should just start my day with dessert if I am going to have it, but that just makes me feel sick the whole day. I have also had folks tell me I NEED to be eating something before I workout, but I really do not have the time to eat something, wait for it to digest, get my workout in, cleaned up for the day and out the door on time for work.

Also, there are arguments both ways on the importance of breakfast first thing in the morning. Personally, I have found that not eating as soon as I wake up works well for my lifestyle. Let me clarify, I NEVER skip breakfast! I just do not eat it before my workout. Since I workout in the morning I need to refuel afterwards with something nutritious for my muscles to recover and grow. Even if I do not workout in the morning, I find myself feeling sluggish and irritable without breakfast until I get my lunch. #NotProductive

This is just another reminder to do what works best for you and what I have learned about how sugars effect my body.


Fruit is one of the great ways to get in carbs 🙂

Defining Wellness

Recently, I participated in a survey regarding how I define wellness. Without being fully conscious about it, this is something that changes for me all the time. I learn things every day that transform my understanding of what it means to be well. I also see how my wellness is not just about me, but the wellness of my family and community.

How we communicate, move around and shop in our neighborhood influences our community. If we are loving toward our neighbors, active to feel great and buying local, good quality products that creates a positive impact on those we interact with. If we buy local that supports our neighbors and what we buy influences what products are available to the community. If we request certain products at the grocery store, it is not just provided for us, but for our entire community!

With this in mind, I feel even more empowered to be healthier this year and to be a benefitial member of my community. In 2017, I will work on purchasing more natural household and hygiene products. I already use some natural household products since the use of the conventional stuff made me sick to my stomach or develop rashes.

Only recently did I start trying to switch my makeup and hygiene items to all natural products. Lately, I am trying the Shea Moisture brand’s shampoo, conditioner and make up. So far so good, but I have to admit my commercial brand mascara is tough to beat in its volumizing and affordable price. However, my hair has not felt this great in a long while.

Also, after 6 months of using natural deodorants (Schmidt’s and Herbal Clear Sport), I find I sweat less and never feel the need to reapply during the day. With the conventional antiperspirants, I would start to smell part way through the day and had developed rashes from certain brands. I may post some reviews this year on the natural products I have been trying, please let me know in the comments below if that would be of interest to you!


In regards to how I stay physically healthy to maintain wellness, I believe that eating to fuel your body and please the soul while moving around in the ways that you most enjoy will boosts your mood and makes you feel strong. If you feel great, you project that to others. If others see how you make yourself feel great they may recognize that as something they can do for themselves. Its not your job to preach to everyone, but to just do what feels right for you. Just know that how you feel can impact how you behave toward others.

Lastly, I like to put out into the world what I would like to get from it. I want to be better about how I connect with people every day. This includes greeting folks that I walk by (even in the unfriendly city), connecting with people who bring joy to my life and teaching myself how to improve my relationships. I have been savoring opportunities to learn more about relationships and love from The School of Life and The 5 Love Languages.

Since reading The 5 Love Languages book, I have seen my relationship with my partner improve and hope that I can use what I have learned in my other relationships as well. The School of Life has helped me understand our psychology and why myself or others may behave in certain ways. I have also been reading books on ADHD. I want be conscious of how it can impact relationships since I am very close with people who have ADHD. The best one I have read thus far would be Is It You, Me or Adult A.D.D..

For me, I see wellness as something that encompasses not only my physical and mental health, but that of those around me. Since I feel in a good place with myself, I want to begin to work on projecting wellness in my community. How do you define wellness?

Inspired by the New Year

Happy New Years! Hope you have had a marvelous holiday season with your loved ones and that your 2017 is getting off to a brilliant start. Although, I may not be one to set resolutions, however, I feel inspired at the start of each year to do things for my wellness. This keeps my spirits up after all the indulgent merriment of the holidays.

A Healthy Reset

I like to get myself back on track with my diet. I satisfied myself with more treats than usually over the last month, but now it is time to nourish my body with plenty of vegetables, protein and healthy fats. After all the heavily processed food, added sugar and excess carbs, I crave feeling my best again. This desire brought on a very strong determination that powered me through the sight of cupcakes and constant offers of sweets at work.

As I did last year, upon returning home from time with family I choose to refrain from all desserts and stick to 3 meals a day with maybe a snack in the afternoon. This is sort of Whole 30 style and really prevents me from developing a noshing habit. Noshing does not work well for me the constant digesting seems to make me feel quite lethargic. I think it is also important to get back to my typical dining routine that I know works so well for my energy levels.

Additionally, I try to eat foods to help balance out my hormones. Simple meals containing 20-30 grams of protein and vegetables containing or cooked with healthy fats. Such as cheddar broccoli scramble, pork loin with roasted brussels sprouts, vegetarian shepherds pie and homemade apple chicken sausage with roasted sweet potato wedges. I prepare everything from scratch and season the meats myself to ensure I am consuming clean, healthy food to fuel me through the processed holiday cuisine hangover.

Internal Reflection

I benefit from taking time to assess my mental health regularly and starting off the year with this practice simply feels right. I launch into this with mediating daily since it allows me to address my feelings and think through the priorities in my life. It also provides me the chance to check in with my short and long term goals to make sure I am advancing toward the existence I desire. This means searching for opportunities to gain skills and competencies in my career and give attention to concerns in my personal relationships.

Internal reflection, particularly, aids in relieving seasonal depression. Since moving to the Northern third of the continental US, I have noticed myself feel down during these short winter days. I see the sun in the morning on my way into work and that is it since my office does not have windows and sunset occurs prior to the end of the work day. This causes my vitamin D is low, inclination to be anti-social and feelings lack of interest in daily activities.

Fitness Challenge

I like to challenge myself to try a new activity, build strength or increase my weights. Last year the challenge was BBG and incorporate lifting heavy in my routine. I definitely completed BBG and only recently could say I have regular heavy weight days. A lot of learned from challenging yourself. Maybe you find a new thing you love, you build strength or you learn that something just does not bring you joy. This practice is crucial for me to keep myself stimulated by what I am doing.

In 2017, I really wish to work on being present in my activities. By this I mean I would like to focus more on how my body is moving and feeling as I am working out, running and doing yoga. I might fail a lot in the beginning, but I grow from this type of process and thrive from training myself. I will write a future post to update folks about my progress.

Do you follow New Years Resolutions? Or do you have anything special you do at the beginning of the year?


Fitness When It Becomes Cold/Snowy/Icy Out

When I first moved to the city after graduate school, I just stopped working out regularly. Though I tried to eat things I thought were healthy and not over eat, I gained weight. I really was not moving enough. That was the Winter of 2013/2014 and it was brutal.

It may seem like winter puts a halt on fitness for some, but you can certainly still get a workout in. Heck, you can still run and walk in Winter, even with snow. You just have to invest in the right cold weather gear. I typically ask for fitness and running gear for Christmas. In the past 2 years, I only needed to buy my running shoes and one set of weights because folks were kind enough to purchase some gear for me. I have really appreciated the support and generosity because it has helped me feel great! Here are a few of my favorite outdoor Cold Weather pieces:

  • Under Armour ColdGear tops (preferably the turtle necked ones) and pants
  • Insulated running jacket with hood, mine is from Target and does the job well!
  • Running gloves
  • Hats with a flap for your ponytail
  • Ear band
  • Winter running socks
  • Yaktrax


However, even with all the right gear, I do not always feel up to bundling up for that chilly run/walk outside. Thankfully there is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). I have to say it is not my favorite, which is likely why I save it for particularly horrible weather. HIIT burns a lot of calories in a short amount of time and is said to increase the amount of calories you burn at rest. One thing I like about it is that I can combined cardio moves with strength training and complete a full workout in 30 min

Some of my favorite HIIT moves:

  • Burpees
  • Jump Squats
  • Jump Lunges
  • Plank Jacks

Then the strength training moves I am really into right now are glute builders:

  • Weighted Deep Squats
  • Weighted Bridges
  • Deadlifts
  • Ninja Kicks

How have you kept up with fitness during the Winter months?

My Guide for Choosing a Protein Supplement

Protein powder and other supplements (bars, gummies, etc.), I had always thought were just for body builders, like the ones you see on Muscle & Fitness magazine. However, when I started running and working out in 2012 I had seriously sore muscles and felt fatigued all the time. My doctor recommended I take a protein supplement after my workouts to see if that would help. I just went to the store and purchased one of the most affordable protein powders, Muscle Milk.


Then in 2015, I had to stop using Muscle Milk because the sweeteners they use were identified as triggers for my IBS. Since I am not big on wasting money I finished off what was left while I began to research a new option. I asked by asking myself the following guiding questions to aid my search:

  • How much do I want to spend per serving?
  • What ingredients or types of protein do I want to avoid?
  • How much protein do I want per serving? What kind of macro-nutrients do I expect my protein powder to have?
  • Do I care about the source of my protein powder?
  • Do I care what type of packaging it comes in?

You should really be asking yourself what you want from your protein powder! This will help you save space, time and money on having a bunch I products that do not meet your needs just sitting around the house. If you use protein powder and have been searching for the right one or you are looking to start using protein powder, know that there are SO MANY varieties out there and you can find something that works for you.

Here is how I followed this guide to find a protein powder I absolutely love, I was looking for the following:

  • I want to spend less than $1 per serving.
  • I want simple ingredients without sweeteners or flavoring so I could add it to a smoothie or food without it disrupting the taste much. I also wanted to avoid hemp protein due to an allergy.
  • I want it to have between 15-20g of protein and not much more than 100 calories per serving.
  • Not a requirement, but a plus, I want it to be locally sourced (made in the USA) and have recyclable packaging.
From this criteria I found: It has 20g of protein per 100 calorie serving, its 91 servings for $80, they have an unflavored version which has no sweeteners, they TRY to source it from grass-fed cows AND recyclable packaging! $80 is a lot to shell out all at once, but so far I find it so worth it. It tastes like powdered milk in my opinion, but I like that taste so it works for me. Now, they have changed their suggested serving size since I started using it, but it is the same product so I just measure out the 25 grams I had been consuming before.
Know that you do not NEED protein powder. I plan out my meals to have plenty of protein. I now only take protein supplements when I need to according to how I am eating. You should talk to your doctor to see if you really need more protein and if you can not adjust your diet enough to get that protein then consider getting some protein powder.
Do you use protein powder? If so, what kind(s) do you love? Comment below!