How I give myself more energy

Good morning and happy Friday! It’s been a while since I’ve been on here. I started strong here on my little blog. Of course once the holidays rolled around, life got crazier, school got to be more intense, and work was busier, so my writing took a little backseat. It’s been a long winter! Speaking of winter, as I sit here typing, it is snowing right outside my window! It’s a very slow moving morning here. Coffee by my side and thinking about the weekend ahead of me. These are the types of mornings I appreciate though. Still moments where it’s just me and myself to think about my day ahead.

Lately, I have been trying to find that balance (aren’t we all?) to get me through these busy days and figure out what works best to accomplish my goals. It’s no easy task and is constantly running through my brain! However, I try my best to keep my energy levels sustained as best as I can. These winter blues I have had lately aren’t helping, but there are a few things I do to stay positive and keep me energized:

1) Drink water first thing in the morning. Even if I feel a slight headache coming on when I wake up (it happens sometimes), drinking 8-10 ounces of water first thing in the morning instantly diminishes it. I feel like I have a lot more energy and that I’m giving my body “love” first thing when I wake up. I feel good, and I continue to drink tons of water throughout the rest of the day too. Drink a whole glass when you wake up before your morning coffee or tea and I think you will feel good too.

2) Plan some time to work out. As opposed to doing it when you have the time. I try to reverse that approach and treat it as a concrete plan. Even if I just do some workout videos at home (so many good YouTube workouts!), I like to write it in my planner so I am more likely to do it. It’s no surprise that working out will always give you more energy and after I exercise, I feel that much more motivated to tackle other things.

3) Wake up early. I love to wake up really early, make my coffee (after I’ve had water of course!), and have that time to myself to reflect on the day ahead. I have always been an early bird. It’s what I prefer and I get more accomplished when I can be up early and start my day. This has been hard on me lately because I work mostly nights. However, I plan on changing this soon, as I have realized that coming home late from work and then not being able to wake up as early as I would like has affected my energy levels the next day. Waking up early is not for everyone of course, but it’s certainly something I love to do!

4)Try to avoid electronics before bed. Key word=try! I am working on this one, but it is truly amazing to go to bed without that phone in my hand until I go to bed. When I truly follow this, my alarm is already set and I usually put something over it to cover the screen an hour before I go to sleep, and then I’ll read or write. I seriously wake up so refreshed and energized that sometimes I wonder why I don’t follow this every night. I swear it makes such a difference for me! I actually think the morning headaches I get come from me browsing social media apps on my phone before I go to sleep. Waking up this way gives me so much energy that allows me to follow all the other things on this list that much easier!

With spring approaching very soon, I am looking forward to lots of exciting changes in many different ways. I also decided to not take any summer classes, as a way of allowing myself to enjoy summer in the city and work on other things. So after my current semester, I will register for Fall 2017 and that will be that! I hope everyone is excited and energized for a great weekend. Thanks for reading!=)

Be the best version of you

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The truth of the matter is, there is no right or wrong way to be healthy. There is no competition, method, or fad that is going to work for everyone. I find that to be very fascinating about health and nutrition. As much as we hear and learn about the benefits of certain foods, or the multi-vitamins we should be taking, it’s amazing how unique each and every one of us really is.

Today, I really want to focus on honing in on what works for you and understanding your own self. I think that because of how different we all are, it can be overwhelming to be surrounded by so many different options of eating healthy, exercise, and overall well-being. It’s fun to try out new things, experiment with a meal plan, or join in a fitness challenge. However, always understand that what works for one person may not work for you, and that’s okay. The important thing is to feel good in your own skin and to never stop being you.

As people, we are constantly driven towards goals and dreams, but don’t ever let that stop you from enjoying the things (or food) you love. Aim to be the best version of yourself. For some of you, maybe you’re thinking “what does this have to do with food at all?” But really, how we treat our bodies is a reflection of how we feel about ourselves. It feeds into all the other areas of our lives, including the relationships we have with others.

Sometimes I feel so wrapped up over all these different aspects of health and nutrition because there is so much information out there! At the same time, I feel lucky to be able to constantly learn and see what works for me. I’m a very curious person by nature and will never stop asking questions. I also feel grateful to have a support system of friends and family that I can always discuss various health topics with, cook with, offer and receive encouragement from, or experiment with on these very things!

I will continue to promote healthy eating and wellness. I think it’s important though to live a balanced life, full of the things you enjoy, and with the understanding that we are all unique. I hope stopping by has given you something lighthearted and enjoyable to think about, and thanks for taking the time to read my random thoughts! Happy Wednesday!

What I ate in Chicago

I just recently came back from a fantastic trip in Chicago. It was my first time there, so obviously I had to try some deep dish pizza! I tried two different places while there and definitely favored one over the other. Here is everything I ate while in Chicago!

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The most delicious Thai iced tea to go with my Thai food dinner on my first night in Chicago

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NOMZ

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A quick breakfast before a full day of walking in Downtown Chicago

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A cocktail with this view? Yes, please!

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This is me being “healthy”, balancing out my day before a night of delicious pizza!

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Deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati’s, this pizza is called The Malnati Chicago Classic

So Lou Malnati’s was my first deep dish pizza stop! Something I learned about Chicago is that it’s all about the crust. My pizza (pictured above) was a butter crust, complete with sausage, sauce, and plenty of cheese. The butter crust was both soft and crispy and did not disappoint! It wasn’t until I tried the second pizza place that I realized that the crust can be prepared differently (more on that below). My pizza was a “personal pizza” size. There was also a small, medium, and large option. The personal pizza size is made to be enough for one, the small for two, and so on. I have to be honest though and say that after eating my pizza, I was still hungry! I finished it, and immediately wished I had ordered the “small”. I had been walking for hours all day throughout the city and was REALLY ready for this meal when I arrived at the restaurant! I left happy, but still a little hungry and made sure to remember to be more aware of the pizza size options at the restaurant I tried the next day.

Fast forward to the next day, I was excited to try Gino’s East. I opted to have an appetizer while waiting for my pizza since it takes about 45 minutes to an hour for deep dish pizza to be prepared, not matter where you go.

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Crispy, caramelized Brussels sprouts

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Deep dish pizza a la Gino’s East and my personal fave. This pizza is called the Gino’s Supreme. THE REAL DEAL RIGHT HERE

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Cheesy, saucy goodness!

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Gino’s East really hit it out of the ballpark for me! The crust is made from a corn meal crust, something my server told me about. I was intrigued by this as I had never heard of anything like it, but let me just say, this was one of the best pizzas I had ever eaten! The corn meal crust was flaky, cooked to perfection, and complemented so well with the rest of the pizza! My pizza had pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, and green peppers. Also, the sauce is put on top of the pizza, so the cheese doesn’t burn! The cheese was melted perfectly under the sauce and the sauce itself was delicious. Every bite was better than the last. I was a happy camper.As you can see from the above picture, the pizza was more than enough for me! It was a size small, as there was only small, medium, and large on the menu. No personal pizza size. It was way bigger than the previous night’s personal pizza. The perfect amount for this hungry girl. Still, I definitely couldn’t eat the whole thing and thought to myself that I would have probably been able to eat the entire thing the night before!

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Pizza, you have defeated me!

All in all, an amazing deep dish pizza experience. I’m happy that I got to experience two different styles of deep dish pizza since I had no idea what I was getting myself into from the start! I hope you enjoyed the photos! To finish off, below is my final meal I had in Chicago the next day before heading off to the airport to go back to New York.

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Banana Nutella Crepe

Chicago, thanks for a good time!=]

Enjoy this, not that

Here are a couple of switches I make in the “sweets department” when it comes to making better choices. I definitely prefer sweets over salty, so if I can switch out a particular item for something better and still enjoy it, I’m all in. I’ll explain a little after I show you each sweet.

ENJOY THIS

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NOT THAT

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I love gummies! Gummy bears, gummy worms, sour patch watermelons. Yum! I can easily eat that entire bag of gummy bears. However, at 140 calories/serving and 18g of sugar/serving (there are 3.5 servings in this small bag of bears), that’s well over 60g of sugar! That is WAY more added sugar than anyone needs. When I tried the Trader Joe’s Scandinavian Swimmers, I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious they were AND at the ingredients list. These guys are soft, chewy gummy candies in sea life shapes that taste even better than the gummy bears. They are definitely more chewy than a typical gummy, but not sticky. The best part? The ingredients have way less junk! Fruit and vegetable extracts are used for the coloring, such as carrot, pumpkin, and black currant, as well as spirulina. The sugar content is pretty high up there still (at 27g/serving, more than the bears). However, there are 9 servings in each bag, the gummies are larger in size, and I feel more satisfied with a handful of these rather than the tiny gummy bears. It’s perfect when I’m craving candy, but don’t want to feel too guilty over. I’m really happy I discovered these!

ENJOY THIS 

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NOT THAT

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I’m not going to lie, I still use Aunt Jemima from time to time when eating pancakes or waffles. When I’m being mindful of what I’m eating though, I will reach for the 100% pure maple syrup. The interesting part is that both of these items have nearly the same nutritional information. Actually, the pure maple syrup has more grams of sugar per serving!

The difference lies in what is actually being put inside our bodies. On the back of the Aunt Jemima syrup bottle, there are 10 ingredients listed. Among them is high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, and preservatives (ingredients added to make the shelf life of the item longer). The pure maple syrup has no ingredient list, because it is simply pure maple syrup! That’s it! Nothing added, nothing taken away. It is what it is. So although these are both sugary food items that make our breakfast taste delicious, one has naturally occurring sugars while the other has a whole list of things added to make it sweet. I eat the pure maple syrup knowing that I’m eating something in its natural state and I feel satisfied with that.

Those are a couple of switches I do to maintain a more balanced lifestyle. Hope you enjoyed and feel free to share your switches too! xoxo Vanessa

Chocolate peanut butter protein cookies

When it comes to cookies, cake, and ice cream, I usually have a hard time saying no! That’s not to say you CAN’T have any, you can, obviously! However, I love trying new things and healthy alternatives to dessert recipes. When I say healthy alternative, I mean a little more nutrient dense than the original may be. Today, I decided to try peanut butter chocolate cookies…protein edition! This recipe is inspired by Tone It Up, who came out with the recipe for a 3-ingredient peanut butter cookie. Perfect for a busy girl like me! The only thing I switched out was the protein powder (I used my own chocolate protein powder I already have), and their recipe calls for vanilla protein powder. They actually use their Perfect Fit Vanilla Protein Powder which I need to order because it’s delicious! Since there’s a switch in protein flavor, I plan on making this again using vanilla instead of chocolate and seeing which I like better. But for now, here is the extremely easy recipe along with a few photos I took during the process. Enjoy!=]

Ingredients:

  • 2 scoops chocolate or vanilla protein powder
  • ¼ cup egg whites
  • 1 cup peanut butter

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After preheating the oven to 350 degrees, mix all the ingredients together

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Roll the dough into about 2 tablespoons balls. Then, flatten each ball with a fork (across each side) to create the shape of the cookie!

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Bake for 10 minutes, and then you are done!! I made 12 cookies out of it

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Eat and enjoy! Delicious with coffee in the morning, or after working out. Yum!

Thanks for the recipe Tone It Up!