My Fitness Transformation Story

How have my views on being healthy changed over the past couple of years?

The above picture shows me three years ago in 2014, and me now, in the body I woke up in today. It has been a very slow progress of learning to love my body, learning how to not fear food, and learning to love working out rather than dreading it. If your interested to learn how I have completely changed my mindset and have now reached a place where I have accepted myself how I am, keep on reading!

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Me in 2014 (I was skinny, but had no muscle definition)

My Struggle with Disordered Eating

During sophomore year of high school (I’ve also talked about this in my story, which you can read here) I struggled with disordered eating. I would meticulously count my calories and make sure I never went over 1,200. At this time I was doing many sports (volleyball, crew, swimming) so I was very active, but I always felt exhausted and never was able to reach my full potential athletically because I was so tired all the time. All of this stemmed when a boy in my grade called me fat. After I heard that, I made a vow to myself that I would start to lose lots of weight. I went from being a healthy 130 pounds (totally normal for 5’7 healthy teenager) to 112. I lost nearly 20 pounds in the span of 3 months (in an unhealthy way) all because of some ignorant comment from an irrelevant person in my life. I know it’s easier said than done, but not letting stupid comments get to you is so important. If someone says something mean about you, it actually means they are unhappy with themselves and so they feel the need to bring other people down. I know this now, but back then I didn’t. So I only ate the bare minimum of 1,200 calories and burned about 500 or more everyday, meaning I was only taking in about 700-800. The weight came off really quickly, but I started to get that really skinny look because I lost muscle too, not just fat. My nails became very weak, my skin looked pale, and my hair began to break off. These are all signs that your body is not receiving the nutrients it needs to perform basic functions. I also became sick way more often. My immune system was crap since I didn’t have enough vitamins, minerals, protein etc to help it. I survived off processed foods like 100 calorie yogurts, snack packs and sugary granola bars. I ate these foods because I could count the calories easier and enter them in the app knowing exactly how much was in it. I also chewed tons of gum and drank 0 calorie Lifewater drinks so I didn’t go insane. This continued for several months until it got to the point where my mom became really worried about me. She sat me down and told me I needed to start eating or I would have to see someone.

 

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Me in 2012

Me in 2013

How I got my Nutrition in Check

The switch for me came when I quit swimming and started track. I actually really enjoyed track and the endorphins it gave me. The “running high” made me feel so good. I looked forward to running and being able to go for a long time. I realized though that I would get tired very quickly. I was browsing on the Internet and I came across a Youtuber who was showing how to make a green smoothie. She was glowing vibrant, beautiful and seemed so happy. I wanted to embody her. So, that day, I made myself a green smoothie exactly how she made it and drank it all up. I’m not gonna lie and say I loved the smoothie at first because I wasn’t used to drinking anything so healthy. But I drank one everyday, and I would always get an instant burst of energy after to go on my long run. Slowly but surely, my skin started to get a glow, and it no longer looked sallow. My mom and friends began complimenting me, telling me how I looked so much healthier. And something inside me just clicked. I was tired of obsessing over how my body looked and how much I weighed. I just wanted to be healthy. So, my diet completely changed. I cut out all the crap with long ingredient labels, and focused on real, whole foods from their most natural state. I simplified my meals and cooked from home. Every time I made a healthy meal, I felt like I was showing my body respect.

How my Fitness Changed

I will always be grateful for track and running because it gave me the exercise high that I love and crave today. However, I no longer go on long runs because I have found that shorter, more intense workouts have been more beneficial in changing my body and giving me more confidence. It started when I began incorporating weights into my routine. I would do a quick round of weights after my runs, and would lift very very light. I would do basic moves such as squats, lunges, overhead presses etc. I didn’t get really into weightlifting until college. Weightlifting was a way for me to relieve all my stress at the end of the day. I started to get really serious about lifting heavy. As time went on, I made sure to always increase my weight in small amounts, and soon I was able to squat 100 pounds. My muscle definition became more visible and I received compliments on the progress I was making. As I saw the change in my body, I began to realize that I wanted to look strong, not skinny. I no longer desired small arms, and skinny chicken legs. I wanted a bigger butt, defined back muscles, and muscular calves. These are all things I am still working towards, but have made significant progress, and that comes from not being scared to lift heavy and eating a lot more food.

Where I am Today

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Today, I am all about balance in all aspects of my life. That is why the title of this blog is “HolisticallyKatie”, and not “Katie’s Diet” or “Katie’s Fitness.” I believe there are many important aspects of being healthy, and it’s not only how we exercise, what we eat, but it is also how we feel internally and our mental state. Now, I eat intuitively which means I eat a healthy meal when I’m hungry, and stop eating when I’m full. I don’t stuff my self, but I always make sure to eat enough to feel satisfied. If I want to grab an ice cream with my friends or indulge in a steak, I will. I no longer feel deprived or like I have a craving for unhealthy food. When it comes to exercise, I actually love working out now. I look forward to exercise, instead of view it as a punishment. I love lifting heavy and challenging myself, but at the same time, I also love switching up my workouts by trying out HIIT routines, or sweaty hot yoga sessions. I’m not saying I am perfect now at all. It has been a really long journey for me with many ups and downs, but I am happy to say that now I feel so much more confident in myself and the person I have become. I still have so many goals set for my health and fitness in the future, but for now, I’m happy with myself and I practice self-care everyday, which I encourage all of you to incorporate into your lives in some ways.

 


Shocking Truth about the Skincare Industry+Osmia Organics Review

What the Skincare Industry Does NOT Tell you

Today I am doing a post on natural skincare, which is very important and dear to my heart. Many people do not realize that every single thing you put on your skin is absorbed directly into your bloodstream.

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Another thing most people do not realize is that the FDA does not regulate the ingredients in both skincare or makeup products. Basically manufactures can put a bunch of awful chemicals and toxins in their products, and you would never know. These products are advertised as being life changing, with headlines like: “Get beautiful skin! “Erase fine lines!” “Reduce wrinkles!” “Fight acne!” …And all of this is just marketing ploy to convince uneducated people to invest in products that are potentially dangerous. Most do not read the label on their skincare or makeup products, but if they did, chances are, they would not understand more than half of the ingredients on the label.

Most of the ingredients are unrecognizable, and common skincare products contain sulfates, fragrances, dyes, thickeners, and parabens. For example, the ingredients in Neutrogena’s “Rapid Clear” face wash for acne are “water, cetyl alcohol, petrolatum, zinc lactate, steareth-2, glycerin, potassium cetyl phosphate, acrylates/C-10, alkl acrylate crosspolymer…” The only ingredient I can recognize from that list is water!!! The worst part is, that’s not even everything in the product! I could go on but you guys get the idea. The problem with these products is that they destroy the acid mantle of the skin. The skin on your face is extremely delicate. When the barrier is constantly being broken down by harsh products, the skin will become more susceptible to inflammatory conditions such as acne, rosacea, or hyper pigmentation. This is why it is so so important to be gentle with your skincare routine and cautious about the makeup you wear on a daily basis. All of these reasons is why I choose to invest in the luxury skincare company: Osmia Organics. The products from this company are literally my holy grail, and I will never use anything else. The owner, Dr Sarah Villafranco, used to struggle with a condition called perioral dermatitis, which I have dealt with in the past.

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Using these products, combined with other lifestyle changes, has dramatically improved the condition of my skin. My skin is now more radiant, glowing, and doesn’t break out as often. I used to get small dermatitis patches around my mouth and nose, but now they are very minor, and only happen if I’m on my period, or if my diet is poor. In general, combining excellent skincare products with moderate exposure to sunlight, reducing stress, exercise, and eating well has done wonders for my skin, and I think it can help those of you out there who also suffer from skin issues. I know how debilitating they can be because I have been there. It is not the end of the world, and small changes can make a huge difference. 

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My Simple Skincare Routine

For starters, I do not wash my face in the morning. I only splash some cold water on my face to wake myself up a bit, but that is it. I find that over-washing your face can lead to increased dryness, sensitivity, and breakouts. I have dry skin to begin with, so it is unnecessary for me to wash my face more than once a day. A lot of people think that there is always dirt, or grime on their skin so they constantly wash their face after doing simple activities. Doing this however is quite damaging because the skin is constantly being irritated by cleansers or other products. It is often the best practice to leave your skin alone and leave it be so it can repair properly.

At night, I always be sure to take off my makeup before starting my routine if I’m wearing any. I do not wear makeup everyday, but if I do, I ensure to properly remove it first. I like using oil removing cleansers, such as this one by Vapour Beauty. It contains high quality organic oils like Sunflower, Jojoba and Castor to remove makeup gently. After removing my makeup, I wash with this soap. If I had to pick one product from the Osmia line to use forever, it would be this.

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This product is seriously incredible. This is the soap that the owner recommends for people with acne or perioral dermatitis. I used it while I had the condition, and I still use it because it’s so amazing. I wet the soap with warm water, lather it a bit and then apply it all over my face, and rub gently with circular motions. I let it sit for about twenty seconds, and the sensation is slightly tingly. I then remove it with lukewarm water. I do not recommend using burning hot water on your skin because it also damages the acid mantle. I like to end the washing process with a few splashes of cold water because it feels very refreshing.

After washing my face, I dry it slightly, but I leave my skin slightly damp. The Black Clay soap doesn’t leave my skin feeling extremely dry or tight, which is another thing I love about it. The products you apply after washing will absorb better if the skin is still slightly damp. I first apply my Purely Simple Face Cream, another Osmia Product I absolutely adore.

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The cream is so light, and smells amazing. It soaks in so easily into the skin and feels great. Since the cream is so light, I do like to add a few drops of jojoba oil onto my face after applying this. Doing this helps keep my skin very moisturized over night, which helps it repair fully.

Osmia Nectar vitalrose drops

If I feel like treating my skin, I use a couple drops of this Rose Oil. This oil is so luxurious and smells divine. It contains argan oil, prickly pear oil, rosehip seed oil, and others. Rosehip seed oil combats free radicals, and can improve texture, tone, and pigmentation. It is a very, very expensive product but the quality of it justifies the price. I do not use this every night just because it is so expensive and I want to make sure it lasts a long time, but when I do use it, my skin is visibility brighter and more glowing the next morning. You only need 2-3 drops to see the difference.

img_0066.jpgimg_0065.jpgimg_0081.jpgAnother product I love is the Detox Exfoliating Mask. The mask has pink clay, cacao powder, and raw honey powder. Honey is known for being incredible for the skin because it is anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. Osmia even sends you a cute little bowl with a wooden spoon to mix the mask for yourself. You just take a few spoonfuls of the mask, which come as a powder, and combine it with some water. You apply this all over your face and let it sit for twenty minutes. This mask exfoliates dead skin and leaves my skin looking so much brighter and healthier. Since it is exfoliating and more harsh, I only use it about 1-2 times per week.

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I use this spot treatment on any blemishes I have, and by the next day, the blemish is visibly reduced in both size and color. This treatment contains rosemary extract which is very powerful against acne.

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Another thing I really love about Osmia is the integrity of their company and how they try to make a personal connection with every customer. You can tell because they include this little note in each of their packages, saying who it was packaged by and then a little message. This really makes you feel like your not just another customer to Osmia; they genuinely appreciate your business and want you to be happy with the products. I follow the owner, Sarah, on Instagram and she shows through her posts and Instagram stories how exactly they make each product, and I love how transparent she is with every ingredient and step that goes in creating Osmia products. She also has perfect skin, and is in amazing shape, and it’s incredibly inspiring that she not only is a mom, but owns a successful skincare company she started herself!
Overall, I give a Osmia 10/10 rating. I genuinely do not believe that I will ever use anything else on my face.

Other Important Things To Remember

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Skincare is not the only component of having a healthy complexion. Diet is also another HUGE factor. Remember, that for many people, dairy can be a huge trigger for skin conditions such as acne. Another trigger for many people is gluten, and more specifically, wheat products. Lastly, I would recommend cutting out heavily processed and packaged foods such as chips, candy, soda, and even “healthy” products like granola bars. By eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole, unprocessed food, your skin will begin to reflect the goodness put into your body. Try to exercise and get active everyday because working out helps detoxify the skin through sweating, and blood circulation produces a healthier complexion. When you wash your face and apply products, remember to be extremely gentle. Never scrub your face or pick at it; this will lead to scarring which can be permanent. Treat your skin like royalty. Your skin protects you from the outside world; it is your barrier. Love it and it will love you back!

 

 


Meal Prep Ideas: Easy to Bring to Work or School

Hi guys!!! Here are some easy meal prep ideas that I love to bring to work with me. When I make these meals in advance, I don’t need to go buy something unhealthy and waste money on food that doesn’t have much nutritional benefit. Meal prepping is a great idea if you have a very busy schedule, but still want to eat a healthy diet. I have a part-time job where I get a short 30 minute lunch break during my six hour shift. This doesn’t leave me a lot of time to go somewhere and order lunch, so bringing food with me is the best option. Here are some of my favorite meal prep ideas:

Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

This first recipe makes a quick, easy and delicious breakfast for on the go.

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Chia pudding is a great meal prep idea because you can make it the night before, and  grab it in the morning on your way to work. You will need:

  • 2 cups coconut milk (or almond milk)
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (or any sweetener of choice!)
  1. Combine all the ingredients into a mason jar
  2. Make sure to mix up the chia seeds at the bottom because they tend to get stuck
  3. Screw on the cap and shake it up!
  4. Place it in the refrigerator. Stir after 30 minutes, and then leave overnight.

That’s it! You can grab your chia pudding in the morning. I personally love to add fresh fruit in the morning!

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Pan Roasted Sweet Potato Fries and Veggies

This second idea is pretty simple, but it is so easy to play with and super convenient to take with you to work or school.

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  1. Chop up favorite veggies! I used brussel sprouts, carrots, yellow zucchini and sweet potatoes.
  2. Coat them in oil of choice (I love coconut oil)
  3. Season them as you please (I used Himalayan salt, pepper, and garlic powder)
  4. Place them evenly on a coated pan and pop them in a 400 degree preheated oven
  5. The sweet potatoes take a little longer, but the other veggies should be done in about twenty minutes

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It is great to have a ton of roasted vegetables ready to go because they are so versatile. I sprinkled the sweet potatoes with hemp seeds and green goddess dressing, and found this to be very filling for lunch. You could also pick up a salad somewhere, and add vegetables to them to boost the nutritional content. Another idea is to cook up an egg, chicken, or some fish and add it on top the veggies for an easy, quick meal.

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Green Smoothies

It is a great idea to blend up a green smoothie the night before work, and then keep it in a mason jar in the fridge before grabbing in the morning. Green smoothies are perfect to sip on for breakfast on your way to work, or you can pop them in the fridge at work for a snack or lunch. Smoothies are awesome because you can customize them and add whatever you want based on your nutritional and fitness goals. For example, to make a green smoothie more filling and suitable for a meal, add half of an avocado, a full scoop of high quality protein powder, nut butter, or even a tablespoon of coconut oil. More fat and protein in the smoothie will keep you fuller for longer. If you plan on having the smoothie for a snack, and then something else for lunch, keep it simple by blending up frozen bananas, spinach or kale, some chia or flax seed, with a liquid like coconut water or almond milk. The smoothie pictured below is blended banana, mango, spinach, 1 tablespoon of flaxseed, and coconut water. This made a perfect afternoon snack.

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Preparation is key when it comes to maintaining a healthy, balanced diet. I realize work can make things much more stressful, but you should always commit time to prepare healthy food for yourself in advance. Eating better at work will help you feel more focused, driven, and motivated, so in the long run, you are investing in both your health and workplace.


How to Reduce Bloating

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These pictures were taken on the same day, believe it or not. To the left, my stomach was bloated from the liquid and food that I had consumed. To the right, was much later in the day after a 90 minute hot yoga class. The purpose of putting these two pictures side by side is to show how common it is to become bloated at any point during the day.

So why does stomach bloat happen? There are many different causes including:

  • Allergies
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Gut issues
  • Fluid retention
  • Dehydration
  • Constipation
  • Food allergies
  • Infection

Although getting bloated from time to time is normal, it is not normal to be bloated every time you eat or to wake up extremely bloated. If this is the case, it is a good idea to start addressing problems that may be going on in the digestive system. A great way to start is to focus on hydration. By drinking large quantities of fluid (water, smoothies, coconut water, kombucha, tea) the body will be able to flush out toxins or waste that could be accumulating in the colon. Bloating is often a sign of an underlying gut issue that needs to be addressed. Bloating can be caused by taking antibiotics, or having a diet high in refined grains and sugar. Gluten is difficult to digest for the majority of people, so it is best to avoid it if you bloat often. Another food group to be wary of is beans and legumes. I have completely cut out both of these from my diet, and it has helped a lot. Also be cautious of carbonated drinks, chewing lots of gum, and sugar alcohols because these are other sneaky ways bloating can happen.

If you struggle with bloating, take note of the following:

Probiotics. I know I stress this all the time, but probiotics are so important for a healthy digestive system. I love to get my probiotics from natural sources, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha.

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Fruits and veggies with high water content provide the body with electrolytes and also enzymes which can help with stomach bloat. It is best to eat them raw so that the enzymes are not destroyed through any cooking methods. Eat more raw leafy greens, cucumber, celery, berries and fermented vegetables.

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Ginger is one of the best herbs you can consume for stomach issues. Grate some raw ginger into a cup of warm water, and do this 3-4 times per day. Dandelion tea or green tea with a squeeze of lemon is another really good option to soothe the stomach.

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Apple Cider Vinegar is an amazing solution for digestive issues. It is rich in those enzymes that I mentioned earlier, which are key for a highly functioning digestive system. The best way to incorporate apple cider vinegar is to dilute one tablespoon with a cup of water or tea and drink that before eating a meal. This will help with constipation as well. The vinegar stimulates the digestive system to break down food better.

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Food Sensitivity Testing is a great idea to rule out what foods may be causing you issues. I got tested through my Naturopath, but there are kits you can order online, like this one. I found out I was highly sensitive to gluten, and moderately sensetive to beef, squash, and tuna, so I now avoid these foods when possible.

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How/when you eat is very important and often underestimated. Try to not eat too much at one point, such as binging out on one big meal. Instead, the meals you eat should be spaced apart a few hours to allow the digestive system a break. Also, try not to eat late at night because this means the digestive system will have to be working when you are trying to sleep. Lastly, slow down when you are eating a meal. Try to chew each bite fully before swallowing, and don’t scarf down all your food in five minutes because this will likely make you bloated.

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Again, occasional stomach bloat is no big deal, but if you find bloating is taking a toll on your everyday life, it may be time to get to the root cause of what’s going on in your digestive system. Everybody is different and bloating can be caused by numerous factors, so it can be incredibly helpful to go to a naturopath or other natural health practitioner who can help you figure it out.

 


Hot Yoga: Tips and Benefits

I don’t know what I would do without yoga.

Yoga has improved my life in so many ways. It has made me feel better about my self both physically and mentally. It has helped me remain calm in situations where I want to tear my hair out. It makes me feel grounded, and connected to the world around me. I’m not religious, but when I’m in a yoga class, I feel spiritual and connected to some kind of outer force. I’ve never really had much religion in my life growing up, so doing yoga is a way for me to connect to that superior being that many people refer to. It doesn’t matter what crappy things happened that day or what I’m worrying about for the next day; it all just goes away and the only thing I care about is going deeper in my Warrior 2. This is why I always tell people to try out yoga, even if they think they will hate it. It does take time to get used to, and a consistent practice is so important. Yoga is not a competition, and it’s not like other types of exercise. It takes true dedication and trusting that your body will improve over time. I’ve been doing yoga for about 4 years now, and I still struggle sometimes to get into a pigeon pose or maintain my balance in tree. Every day is different, and every day your body may feel different. I love yoga so much because there is no stress. It’s just about doing the best you can do and not even thinking about it.

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I enjoy hot yoga over other types because I like leaving feeling sweaty and accomplished. I feel rejuvenated and like a new person when I leave a hot yoga class because I have “detoxed” all the impurities and pent up stress/emotions from the day.

Benefits of heated yoga include:

  1. The heat allows for added flexibility
  2. The heat forces you to breathe constantly and take deep, long breaths (if you don’t breathe…you may pass out…not good)
  3. Sweating expels toxins, and improves blood circulation
  4. Sweating is amazing for your skin because it opens up the pores and allows bacteria to exit
  5. It burns a ton of calories

Tips I have found that may be helpful for those new to hot yoga:

  1. DRINK WATER BEFORE! You may think that you only need to drink water after a hot yoga session, but this mindset is false and can be dangerous. You should start drinking a lot of water before going to hot yoga because the body loses A LOT of water from the class, particularly if it is a 90 minute long class. Make sure to hydrate hours before class. Drinking coconut water before or after class is great as well.
  2. Invest in a YogiToe or bring some cash to rent one. YogiToes are non-slip towels, and hot yoga is much more difficult without them because your feet will be slipping all over the mat. YogiToes also come in a range of different colors and patterns, which make them super fun.
  3. Don’t get intimidated by the people around you. Try not to focus on what other people are doing, and instead, listen to the instructor and focus on your breathing. If you are watching other people the whole time and comparing yourself to them, the experience will likely not be very rewarding. Remember, it is not about what other people can do. It is about what you can do, and what you are capable of in the moment.
  4. Only do what feels comfortable and good. In general, doing yoga should feel good. It should not feel painful. There are always modifications available. For example, if you are struggling in Crescent Lunge, you can lower a knee to modify. Never try to do push your body past it’s limit. Forget your ego and ignore that inner voice that always tells you that you need to do more.
  5. Always stay for the Savasana. This is the part at the end of the class where you lay flat on your mat and do nothing. It sounds simple, but for many people, this is the most difficult part of the class. This part is so important because you have time to let all the heat and energy you just built up in your body settle, and you can just relax and even meditate.

Me after hot yoga class

Whether or not you do hot yoga, I think anyone can benefit from incorporating some yoga into their life. Not only are there countless physical benefits, but doing yoga can help with mental clarity and spiritual well-being. Namaste 🙂


Rethink that Juice Cleanse

You’ve probably heard someone in your life before say, “I’m going on a 10 day juice detox.”

Green juice, watermelon juice, beet juice

Or cleanse. Or diet. Whatever it may be called, these regimens are dangerous, and often leave people in a worse position than before they even started. Drinking only juice for 5 or more days is dangerous and a starvation diet. Juices are naturally low in calories, so someone who is consuming only juice all day long will only be able to take in about 600-800 calories for the whole day. And on top of being active and working out? Not a good combination. Doing something like this is more likely to lead you to binge on unhealthy junk food, because you’re starving to the point of not caring anymore about the diet. And trust me, it will happen. So what’s my opinion on juicing? Should you avoid it at all costs? No, absolutely not!

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Freshly made juices can be a very healthy addition to a balanced diet…

but the key words here are addition and balanced. You should not be trying to survive on juices alone because your body will go into starvation mode and actually cling to fat. You will also end up being very moody and irritable simply because not enough calories are entering your body. I think it is fine to consume juices and smoothies and lots of fruits and veggies for up to 3 days (if for example, someone wants to “reset” their diet) but after that point, more hearty foods need to be added back in, so that you can maintain your muscle and well, your sanity. With all of that being said, I love to juice, especially from home. Investing in a juicer and making juice from home is actually going to be cheaper in the long run, so I highly recommend investing in a high quality juicer. This is the one I use. I usually will spend one day making all my juices (just because it is kind of a hassle and lots of clean up) and then store them in glass bottles to drink over the next few days. I highly recommend this method because you won’t have to deal with cleaning pulp out of a machine everyday (which can get very annoying and tedious). 


Here are the recipes:

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Green Beauty Juice (middle)

I like to call this my beauty juice because the spinach, carrots, oranges and mango are all very high in vitamin A, which is amazing for healthy glowing skin. Lemons are high in vitamin C, great for immunity, and turmeric is anti-inflammatory.

  • 2 cups spinach
  • 4-5 carrots
  • Large navel orange (with skin cut off)
  • Large yellow mango (with skin cut off)
  • 1 inch turmeric root (or 1 teaspoon ground)
  • Squeeze of lemon (you can also juice half of 1 whole lemon)

Watermelon Refresher Juice (left)

This juice is perfect if you just got out of yoga class or a long cardio session, and you need lots of hydration. Watermelon is 92 percent water (hence the name), so it is the best fruit to eat to replenish after you have lost a lot of water through sweating. Strawberries are also very high in water, and the lime adds a citrusy delicious touch to this juice.

  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 cup watermelon (cut into cubes)
  • Squeeze of lime (you can also juice half of 1 whole lime)

Beet Detox Juice (right)

Beets are one of my favorite foods. I love their color and the benefits are endless. Beets are high in iron, which is critical for healthy blood circulation through the body. They are also known to increase endurance in athletes. Ginger is considered the best “detox” spice because it can help your gastrointestinal health by stimulating digestion and circulation which can cleanse waste-build up in the colon and liver.

  • 1-2 beets (peeled)
  • 3-4 carrots
  • 1 inch ginger root
  • Large navel orange (can substitute with 2 small apples)
  • Squeeze of lemon

Instructions:

  1. Wash and prep all veggies and fruits
  2. Cut the fruits and veggies into pieces that will fit into the juicer
  3. Add them in one by one to make each juice and watch the magic happen!

All of these are delicious and nutrient filled elixirs. Drink up!!!


How to Get a Flatter Stomach without Crunches + Core Workout!

You don’t need to do a thousand crunches to get a flatter stomach.

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In fact, doing this is probably a waste of time and has no real benefit. There are a lot of misconceptions about having a flat stomach and getting abs. For some people, their abs show up very easily. For me personally, I store fat in my stomach and hips, so it is much harder for my abs to show. Everyone can introduce steps in their daily routine to reduce bloat and help flatten the stomach. I have stopped caring so much about whether or not my stomach looks perfect, and instead I focus more on feeling good and proper nutrition. By doing this, my stomach has become more flat naturally, without doing a million crunches or long cardio sessions. Here are some of the best tips that have worked for me when trying to get a flatter stomach:

1. Drink a TON of water.

You probably hear this all the time, but that is because it is one of the best things you can do for your body. Drinking lots of water will help flatten the stomach because the body can flush out everything much faster, and it also helps the body perform all the everyday functions more efficiently. If you are dehydrated, your stomach will look bloated and not flat because it is retaining salt. This is why after a hot yoga session, your abs are more likely to show because you just flushed out lots of salt and retention from your body. If drinking water is boring to you, I recommend adding some lemon slices, orange slices, or lime slices.

2. Focus on full body compound exercises.

A lot of people think that doing thousands of crunches will give them abs, but this is so far from the truth. Do more full body movements that engage all your muscle groups, because these also engage the core as well. You will be burning more calories, even after you finish doing them because these exercises require full body engagement. Examples of full body compound movements include deadlifts, squats, chest presses, and lunges. Lifting heavy does NOT make you bulky, instead it will make you leaner and more defined.

3. Nutrition is key.

You cannot expect to have a flatter stomach if you are eating like crap. Tons of salt, processed food, and sugary junk all lead to bloat, water retention, and fat accumulation. We want to do the opposite when trying to get a flatter stomach. Focus on eating tons of fruits and vegetables. These are detoxifying to the body and all the vitamins, minerals, and fiber will help flush everything out and lean out the stomach. Healthy fats, such as coconut oil, almond butter and avocado are also excellent to include in a balanced diet. Fat does not make you fat. Processed junk does.

4. Avoid alcohol.

Alcohol leads to dehydration, and dehydration leads to bloating, which is the opposite of having a flat stomach. If you drink, try to moderate your alcohol consumption. Having a glass of wine or two is fine with dinner, but binge-drinking wrecks havoc on the body. Try substituting things such as kombucha for alcohol, which is a probiotic. This leads perfectly to the next point…

5. Focus on probiotics and prebiotics.

Take a probiotic supplement everyday. Try to get a high quality probiotic, meaning it must be refrigerated and contains a diverse range of strains. If you do not want to take a pill, probiotics can also be found in kombucha, cultured yogurt, sauerkraut, and apple cider vinegar. Prebiotics are food for the probiotics, and are equally important to include. Prebiotics are found in raw garlic, raw onion, banana, apples, leeks and flaxseed. Having a healthy gut is critical for having good digestion. When the digestive system is working properly, the body can eliminate toxins efficiently, and therefore the stomach will appear flatter.

I am not trying to say that you need to have a flat stomach to be attractive. I personally feel my best when my stomach looks tighter and more defined. These are tips that anyone can apply that do not require doing a thousand sit-ups or starving yourself. When you start to incorporate daily lifestyle changes and make it a habit to eat well everyday, then you will naturally start to notice your stomach getting flatter along the way. It’s not a race or a competition. When you treat the body holistically, everything else falls into place. Remember you cannot spot-reduce a specific area. When you begin training smart and doing exercise you love, then your body will start to become more shapely and defined overall, not just in one specific area.

Here is a quick ab circuit. I am doing side planks, bird dog crunches, and hanging leg raises. Do 3 sets of 20 reps to feel a good burn in your core. These movements engage all of the core, not just one section, which is why I really love adding them into my routine.


Dangerous Consequences of Instagram

The picture to the right is fake, and created from a free iPhone app in a matter of seconds.

My friend downloaded an app on her phone and edited this girl’s body (a stock image found on Google) to show how easy it is nowadays to create a distorted image within seconds.

There is an ideal body image in our society that people cling onto, which is having a butt, having big boobs, but also being skinny and having a flat stomach. In reality, having the perfect body is impossible. Often, people feel that if a certain aspect of their body is lacking, they need to edit it, so that it fits this ideal that I mentioned. In the example above, the girl’s butt was edited to make it look larger even though it was perfectly fine before. This is so dangerous because it is distorting how girls look at their own bodies, and also affecting people’s confidence.

We all scroll through Instagram. We all probably follow beautiful models who have amazing bodies. It is fine to follow models on Instagram, but when you start to compare yourself to them, and tell yourself you need to look more like them, that is when it becomes dangerous and harmful.

I have struggled with body insecurities in my past, but I have come to realize that comparing myself with other people on Instagram is a complete waste of time. The pictures you see are edited, and it is the best possible angle out of the hundreds of photos that were taken. Instagram does not show all the editing, positioning, and angles that went into making that one “winner” photo.

Instagram is causing people to lose confidence and feel insecure because of the “perfect” girls that are constantly infiltrating people’s feeds. Instagram is not real life. No one is perfect. There is no such thing as a “perfect” body. You are beautiful how you are and comparing yourself to other people is a waste of time because everyone is special and unique in their own way. And I’m not trying to sound cheesy, but I had to learn this the hard way. I would constantly obsess over girls on Instagram and compare myself to them, but in the end, it only made me miserable.

So my advice is…if you are following someone on Instagram and every time that person posts a bikini photo, it makes you feel insecure or angry with yourself for not looking like them, maybe unfollow them. Or take a break from social media. Sometimes it’s good to take a break and unplug, and spend time doing the things that make you happy. Exercise, but don’t do it to look a certain way. Do it because it makes you feel good and happier. Eat well, and feed your body food that makes you feel amazing. Never starve yourself or “punish” yourself by not eating. This perpetuates the cycle of having a negative relationship with your body.

I know what I mentioned is easier said than done, but I wanted to make this post to shed awareness on this very important topic. It is often swept under the rug how Instagram pictures are very edited and do not portray real life. It is important to keep everything in perspective and remember that real life and being happy with yourself matters way more than online life and people that you don’t even know.


You’re Sick, Now What?

I recently got diagnosed with strep throat, and I was crestfallen. I haven’t been sick in a very long time, so hearing that I had a pretty nasty infection was disheartening. However, I am now being treated for the condition with penicillin, so hopefully my throat will stop aching soon. But, in the meantime, there are many things I do to help accelerate the healing process.

Rest

One thing I want to stress is how important it is to REST when you are sick. I workout everyday, and I am constantly running around, so the hardest part about being sick for me is not being able to do anything, and being told I need to “rest.”

Since I don’t have a fever, I feel pretty okay, but my throat is killing me. I want to workout, but I know that my body is in a state where it is trying to heal itself and so strenuous exercise would only be detrimental. I know it can be hard for all of us who workout constantly, but sometimes your body just needs a break. Don’t worry; nothing bad is going to happen if you take a few days off from working out. There’s no reason to stress about not being able to exercise, because when you are feeling better, you can get back to the gym and have a killer workout. It’s better to have an amazing workout when you are feeling 100 percent, than a crappy workout when you feel sick. So, moral of the story, give your body time to heal and don’t stress not working out for a few days.

Despite all that, if you are craving movement, I recommend doing light yoga or stretching.

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Fluids

You already know this, but another thing that is critical when sick is fluid intake. You want to intake tons and tons of water while you are sick. I also recommend drinking lots of tea, as well as herbal tea. I do not drink coffee when I am sick, because it dehydrates the body, which is the last thing you want when you’re not feeling great. Here are two examples of non-coffee beverages I like to have when I’m not feeling great.

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Almond Milk Matcha Latte

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Herbal Dandelion Roast “Coffee”

Diet

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Your diet should be extra nutritious when you are sick because your body will use the antixodiants and nutrients that you feed it to heal. I eat lots of soups when I am sick. I usually buy canned soups, (this one from Amy’s is great, and has no weird chemicals) and then I add a ton of green vegetables to the soup, such as kale or carrots. Carrots and lemons are both excellent  because they are high in Vitamin C, which is known for helping the immune system. I also recommend eating coconut oil because it is anti-viral and anti-bacterial, so it helps fight any infections.

Supplements

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You can also take some extra supplements when sick to help speed up the recovery. Probiotics are really important to take, particularly if you are on antibiotics because they help replenish the good bacteria. I take the probiotic about three hours after taking the antibiotic, so that it can still enter my body and not be killed off. Sambu Guard is an immune boosting drink that you take by the tablespooon. It has Echinacea in it, which has immune-boosting benefits. Apple Cider Vinegar can help the throat due to it’s antibacterial properties.

What do you do when you’re sick?


There Are No Shortcuts to a Healthy Diet

Are you taking lots of supplements everyday?

How about immune boosters, energy shots, or superfood elixirs? While these items can be a beneficial addition to your diet, there is no evidence that any specific supplements or superfood powders will substitute for a healthy diet. Supplements can be beneficial for some people, but if you are eating a healthy, balanced diet, then there is no need to take multiple supplements everyday. In fact, taking a lot of one vitamin can actually create imbalances in your body.

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If you are consuming a diet that is heavily processed, and full of refined sugars or unhealthy oils, then even if you drink the healthiest superfood drink everyday, it will never make up for your unhealthy diet. Supplements/superfoods/tonics should be a very small addition to a healthy,balanced diet. It’s just like wearing makeup; you should not rely on makeup to feel pretty, but it can be a nice enhancer to your natural features.

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I think grabbing a juice like one pictured above is a great idea in a pinch, but buying one of these everyday is not ideal.

Why? One, because they are ridiculously expensive. Eight dollars for one juice! No one should be spending that kind of money on 16 fluid ounces of juice. Two, it is much better to make your own juice or smoothie at home. Live enzymes are destroyed once they go through the processing, packaging and shipping that bottled juices go through before you drink them. Overall, the nutrient load in these juices are not as high as fresh pressed juice, even if the label tries to convince you otherwise.

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Superfoods can be an excellent addition, but they cannot compromise for a poor diet.

Adding a tablespoon of maca powder into your smoothie, or mixing goji berries into your oatmeal are both fantastic ways of incorporating these foods. However, eating some superfoods after chowing down on some fast food or processed junk, will not negate the bad food you ate. Many superfoods have fancy packaging to try and convince you that they are better than anything else you can put into your body. Ultimately, you should be eating a diet full of plenty of fruit, vegetables, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. Superfoods can be added here and there if you wish. But they are not necessary to consume everyday. Focus on consuming foods that are closest to their natural state as possible. After that, you can worry about superfoods.

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