healthy living

Finding my version of healthy {ignoring labels, breaking veganism}


For all of 2015, my relationship with food and my body was terrible. I’d starve myself, over-work my body, binge and then repeat the cycle. I lost a whopping 25 pounds, from running and consuming a very limited amount of calories. At first, although the method was corrupt, the pounds I was losing needed to be lost. Until I reached the point where I wasn’t losing “bad” fat, but the fat I needed to function properly.

My biggest worry throughout this time was my bingeing problem. I mostly binged on overly-processed, fake, crappy foods. I knew that Oreos and chips were bad, even scary. I also knew bingeing was bad, definitely scary. My behavior of bingeing masked what the real problematic behavior was- starving myself. This fear also masked the real fear- my fear of food.

At one point, I was so afraid of bingeing that I began to pride myself on the days that I’d only consume 900 calories, after burning 300 from running. Little did I actually know that I was bingeing BECAUSE I was hungry. I’d crave processed, fake foods because they were extremely caloric dense, which is what my body wanted. My body needed more.

After completing my first half marathon, I collapsed. I was worn out. More from the last 11 months of living on not much more than yogurt and spinach, than the 13.1 miles I had just ran.

I knew I wasn’t eating enough, I knew I was being too restrictive, I knew that the labels of “good” and “bad” on food were just ridiculous. But I loved being skinny, I loved consuming only “pure” foods. So I began to research “How to eat the most amount of food without gaining weight?”

Ofcourse, there were so many articles on eating 100 calorie packs of cookies, replacing meals with protein bars and eliminating carbs. But I knew I didn’t want to consume processed food-like items either. So I tweaked my searches to “Consuming real food without gaining weight.”

Somehow, I stumbled upon This Girl Audra. She had so many videos on binge eating, starving yourself and dealing with/recovering from a disordered relationship with food and your body. I watched every video on her channel, and it all made sense. She also exposed me to a new-to-me phrase, “plant based eating.”

I did so much research on plant based eating. I felt like I was already halfway there. I didn’t consume processed foods, because they triggered a binge. I didn’t consume much meat or dairy, because they were too sodium and caloric dense. I loved vegetables because they were God made and definitely good for my body.

So, in January of 2016, I just cut out yogurt and eggs and replaced them with potatoes, beans and other real foods. I realized that these real foods brought me ease. I wasn’t afraid of broccoli, or peppers or bananas. This ease also took away the fear of carbs, like bread, rice and pasta. By February, I felt free. I wasn’t afraid to eat. I didn’t feel restricted. I’d eat as many potatoes as my stomach and heart desired. I’d eat a whole can of chickpeas. I’d just eat, and not even think about it. Freedom felt so good. My body was well-fed and well-energized and felt so, so good.

Eating plant-based was definitely the easiest thing I have ever done. I never had to think about it. If I was hungry, I’d eat until I was satisfied. And that was it. I’d eat food that God put on this earth, and not worry about what gross, fake ingredients were in them, because there simply weren’t any in them.

The simplicity of plant based eating brought a much needed break from the anxiety and confusion I had felt for so long while starving myself and being afraid of food. I found joy in creating simple recipes. I was happy and carefree, and it all came from the food freedom I had found.

Until recently.

Throughout the month of July, I found myself bored. I lost my desire to cook, to make eating fun and to even eat, at all. I felt confined by the label of “vegan” or “plant based.” I got tired of hearing “Oh, you can’t have this, theres ____ in it.” I got frustrated. Annoyed even. I began living off of smoothies, because they were the only thing that made me excited. (Because thats healthy, right?)

Then finally, I realized I was feeling emotions I had forgotten existed. Restriction. Hunger. Confusion. Too disciplined. Constantly telling myself, “No, you can’t eat this, it’s bad” brought back so much fear and anxiety.

This realization was bouncing around my brain for days, but I refused to admit that plant-based eating was turning into something bad.

Until one night while getting ready to go to dinner, wiping away tears of fear from knowing I’d be exposed to so many foods I “couldn’t have.” I finally told myself that enough was enough. I started eating plant based to get rid of these scary, dark feelings. But here they were again, brought by the habit that had set me free in the first place. 

I went to dinner, I set my conscience aside, I left my list of “good and bad foods” at home. I brought nothing more than my firm belief that God made foods were what I needed to be eating. I ordered grilled, wild-caught salmon, with rice pilaf and broccoli.

With every bite, I felt the walls that were confining me by the “vegan” or “plant based” label being blown away. I, once again, felt at ease. Since that night, I’ve been eating what I crave. I haven’t been telling myself “no.” I also haven’t been anxious, or scared.

My conscience is, of course, a bit confused. Because I know when I choose to eat animal products, behind that decision is a life being taken. But, I think the most important aspect to this choice is awareness. If you’re going to choose to eat animal products, you can’t do it mindlessly.  A life is being sacrificed, that is something worth acknowledging.

But, for now I’m doing what puts my mind at ease. I’m taking away the aspects of eating that make it hard, or a chore. I’m doing what makes my body feel right, and taking away things that alter my mental health.

Just like seasons change, as people, we do too. These changes can include our eating habits, what activities make us happy and what makes our bodies feel good. If there’s anything I have learned these past few years, it is to respect my body. Respecting my body helps me to respect my brain, which helps me to respect myself as a whole.

I don’t need a label, I need to be healthy. I need to be my own version of healthy.

Simply, Sum


HEALTHY brownies?! {recipe}

Have you ever done something and literally said out loud, “I’m about to change the world”?
Er.. well, me either..


Until the night that I put together this super yummy, simple and HEALTHY brownie recipe!

I should have named these “melt-in-your-mouth, lick-off-the-spoon, lick-the-plate, can-I-bathe-in-this gooey brownies,” but what I do in the kitchen after dark is totally my own biz.


4 pitted dates
1/2 teaspoon cacao powder
1/4 teaspoon water (or just a teeeny tiny bit)
food processor

Place pitted dates, cacao powder & very tiny bit of water in food processor of choice
Process for about 5 seconds, or until dates are broken down & mixed well with cacao powder (this does not take long at all. Plus, a few chunks of dates will help hold it together)
Pour the mixture directly into your mouth
Scrape mixture onto plate and form into square
Optional: Add toppings! i.e., coconut flakes, nut butter

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What’s your favorite sweet treat?

Have you ever put together random ingredients and discovered it was an amazing combo?

Simply, Sum


HIIT from the Glory Days {workout}

My favorite memories and closest friends from growing up are all due to cheerleading.


Yup. Cheerleading. I was a little league cheerleader, then high school cheerleader, then high school varsity cheerleading captain. Those were the days!


I always stayed in shape from the jumping, running and physical activity that it demanded, but it was so fun that I never even realized it.

I decided to dig back into my cheerleading ways and use some of the common moves to put together a quick HIIT (high intensity interval training). Give it a try & let me know what you think!



When in doubt, wear red?

You know what I think is powerful? The color red.

Red screams, “Here I am! Look at me! I’m not afraid!”


However, there are no red pieces of clothing in my closet, only one unworn red sports bra in my dresser and now, one bottle of red nail polish in my makeup bag.

I’ve never worn the color red because I’ve always thought it was too powerful, stood out too much, was too assertive and just too confident. For me.

I guess you could say I’m a bit afraid of red. Afraid to seem confident, afraid to stand out, afraid to be noticed more than I’m used to, afraid to step out of my comfort zone.

Well. Monday, I ran to Walgreens and stumbled upon an Essie nail polish for $2.12! What color was it? Red. I argued with myself on whether or not to get it for about 10 minutes.

“Will I really wear this? Red is so not me. Red is just too loud.. But sales like this never happen.. And why isn’t red me? Why cant I be loud?” Needless to say, I left with the nail polish and promptly painted my nails with it as soon as I got home, before I changed my mind.

I’m not sure what happened, but there’s magic in red nail polish. Let me tell ya.

The first day of red nails, I got three compliments on my nails, was greeted about 15 times more than usual and was told “Red nails? Work it girl”… by a gentleman.

I smiled a bit more. I felt more confident. I embraced being recognized. I didn’t make excuses for picking red nails. I just worked it.

These red nails are so symbolic for my current 21-year-old life, as I apply for internships, jobs I’m probably not qualified enough for, consider moving out of the town I’ve called “home” the last three years and just all of the changes taking place to turn this life into MY life.

It’s never too early to take control of your life. It’s never too early to go after your dreams or demand what you deserve. It’s always the right time to embrace who you are. It’s always the right time to realize your worth and what you deserve.

So, here’s to red. May us ladies (and gents) be as bright, confident and meritorious as you, red.


Are there any colors you don’t wear, because they arent “you”?

What do you think about a color impacting your mood? True/false? 

Simply, Sum.

“Get in loser, we’re going (grocery) shopping”

If you don’t get this Mean Girls reference, you can’t sit with us.. Jk, take a seat and we’ll watch it together!

For me, Sundays are a day of rest and recuperation before the week to come; including no alarm clock, pancakes and taking B to the dog park! However, my #1 responsibility for the day is to stock up on groceries.

I occasionally shop around at Publix, Whole Foods and Costco for bulk items or random things, but I purchase all of my perishable/weekly groceries at Trader Joe’s! LOVE THAT PLACE!

I used to meal plant to the T, but now I just kind of wing it. My creative juices flow more when I have an array of different ingredients and have to concoct something on the spot!

So… Time to shop till we drop. Or get hungry.



Anyone else walk around this thing 10 times before picking out the best bunch? Into the buggy goes 11 bananas!


The best part about these warmer months are all the yummy fruits that are in season. Into the buggy goes strawberries, grapes and pineapple.

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One of the many reasons I love Trader Joe’s is because they always have new products on rotation. For example, this Smallish Gems sweet lettuce! Never heard of it, so of course I had to get a pack. Other veggies that went into the buggy were mushrooms, onions, cauliflower rice, 2 bags of spinach and an eggplant.


Speaking of new products, these Inner Bean snacks and Just Beets chips caught my eye! I’ve had the just Beets chips before, so I opted for the black bean snacks.. Only to get home and discover they have traces of milk. Rookie mistake!


This Raspberry & Lime Sparkling water had to come home with me too. Anything that makes drinking water easier, amiright?


The most amazing section, to me, of Trader Joes is the Tofu/meat alternative section. It is mind blowing what can be made out of soy. I don’t consume very many of these products though, I generally steer away from processed foods, except tofu occasionally. The Organic Sprouted tofu is my favorite to cook with!


I love cruising through the ice cream and cookie/snack isle just to see what wacky products are out now. Matt isn’t allowed down this isle though, we’d leave with one of everything.


My buggy generally looks the same from week to week, give or take a few items. (Peep the reusable bag! Save a tree people!)


My total ended up being $52.29! Pretty typical around these parts.


My complete grocery haul included 11 bananas, grapes, pineapple, strawberries, dried figs, mint leaves, tofu, organic peanut butter, frozen bell peppers, two bags of riced cauliflower, two bags of spinach, mushrooms, onions, frozen edamame, sweet lettuce leaves, one mango, one lemon, one lime, two waters, one pack of wasabi seaweed snacks, one bag of plantain chips (aka crack) and that bag of Inner Bean snacks that bit me in the butt for not checking the ingredients.

Now lets see what we can whip up this week with these yummy ingredients!

What’s your favorite grocery store to shop at?

If you shop at Trader Joe’s, whats your favorite fun product they sell?

Meal plan or wing it?

Simply, Sum!

Dear water, you’re boring.

Sorry not sorry.

It has been about a year and a half since I traded in a can of soda for a bottle of water as my drink of choice. However, I found out really fast that drinking strictly water gets really boring.

Considering our bodies are made up of roughly 60% water, it’s important to balance our water intake with our water loss. So.. Drinking water is important, though it may be boring.

Another important factor for maintaining our health is making choices that are sustainable. To make these healthy choices easier, they should be fun and enjoyable!

Water, you aren’t always fun and enjoyable. However, there are a few water-based beverages, with SIMPLE ingredient lists, that I incorporate into my consumption of fluids to make staying hydrated not so boring!

LaCroix Sparkling Water: I keep my fridge at home and work stocked with these bad boys. LaCroix (pronounced la-croy) is just carbonated water that is infused with natural oils of whatever flavor you purchase. My favorites include coconut, lemon and cerise limon (lemon lime). They come in cans that are unfortunately lined with BPA, but they’re so yummy I’m willing to risk it once or twice a day.

Vita Coco Coconut Water with Pineapple: A recently added staple in my fridge! The ingredients list is short and sweet: Coconut Water, Pineapple Puree, Coconut Puree, Vitamin C. I’m not a fan of plain coconut water, but the added hint of pineapple makes for an amazing combination! One 500ml bottle has two servings, so it lasts about two days for me.

Trader Joe’s Coconut Green Tea:  This loose-leaf tea is so yummy! It is a green tea base with bits of coconut, ginger and lemongrass. I usually brew a cup, stick it in the freezer for 15 minutes, add ice then drink it down.

Water with lemon juice: I keep fresh lemons on hand so I can cut one up and squeeze it into a glass of water when desired. Simple, refreshing and a nice differentiation from plain water.

Smoothies: I usually have smoothies for breakfast that have a base of almond or cashew milk and water. Hidden water + greens! Win win!


Do you think water gets boring sometimes?

What’s your favorite water-based beverage?

Simply, Sum.

Gearing Up as a New Runner!

It’s hard to believe that it has only been about a year since I first hit the pavement as a self proclaimed “runner.” Running can be as simple as lacing up some tennis shoes and getting outside, but for some (myself included) it can be an activity that feels uncomfortable until you receive more guidance, or experience.

Four pairs of shoes, a handful of injuries, -15 lbs and one half marathon later, I’m much more experienced than I was this time last year. I feel for those that are just starting out and don’t know where to turn. So much of my time was spent on Google, searching for topics along the lines of “Best shoes for running,” “How do I run with my iPhone 6+,” or simply, “Tips for new runners”.

I’m going to share some of my favorite running gear and most useful running accessories that have gotten me to where I am now in my running career!


LEGIT RUNNING SHOES: No, not Nike’s! Although they are fabulous for cross training, invest in more supportive shoes to wear while chasing all da miles. I’ve found that the best shoes for running are Asics, Sauconys or Brooks. My Asic GT-1000 4′s, that I purchased for $100, took my runs to a whole new level. They supported my feet, back and legs so much more than my Nike Free-Runs.I said goodbye to pain in my calves, aching arks in my feet and knee pain.

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FLIPBELT: For the first six months or so that I was running, I ran with only my watch. No phone, no house key, no headphones. I just didn’t want to carry it in my hand or develop a giant arm band tan line. Then I stumbled across the FlipBelt! You slip it on like a pair of shorts and it sits perfectly on your hips, holding any small tagalongs. It breathes, comes in different sizes & colors, doesn’t ride up and holds an iPhone 6+ perfectly! I even put it to use when I go to the gym!



RUNNING WATCH: Running is the perfect time to disconnect from the world, aka your phone. The most convenient way to keep track of how many miles you’ve ran is with a GPS running watch. My best bud is my Garmin Forerunner 10! It keeps track of pace/speed, distance, time and calories.It also offers an interval timer and keeps track of your last seven activities. It is also waterproof and rechargeable!

CLIP ON HEADPHONES: Nothing kills a running vibe like having to reinsert earbuds every 2 minutes. Solution? Any sort of over the ear or clip on headphones. My Philips Earhook headphones were only about $10.00 and have been useful both during runs and in the gym! They’re very lightweight but still fit snugly.

SAFETY DEVICE: Whether you set out for a run at the wee hours of the morning or late in the afternoon, it’s always a good idea to wear some type of gear that can make your presence known by cars and cyclists. I wear my FITONY LED light, that clips on the back of my shoe. I can easily bend down and turn it on or off, as needed. Jen at Peanut Butter Runner wears a reflection vest. However, if you cant get your hands on either of these, be sure to wear bright colored clothes! Running in the dark and wearing black makes you completely camouflaged to passersby.


Although a few dollars here and there can add up, should your financials allow you, these few items are definitely worth the investment!

Do you have any running staples?

What’s your favorite type of running shoe?

Music while running, or no music while running?


Simply, Sum.