Health Kick: Cutting Processed Foods + Sugar

Here’s a little history: A few years ago, I got in SHAPE. I made the decision to change my absolutely awful diet and work out as often as I could. I lost a good amount of weight and for the first time in my life, I had a flat stomach. It felt amazing! 

Not only did my body feel great, but I was feeling so much better mentally. I was constantly motivated and energized. 

For the past year or so, I have kind of found myself going back to my old ways. I eat whatever I want, and I’m not necessarily gaining any weight, but I feel like crap all the time.

So, I’ve made the decision to start eating healthy again and to start incorporating more exercise into my week. 

  
I am going to cut out most (nobody’s perfect) processed foods and stick to a whole food diet. I also want to try to limit sugar as much as I can, aside from natural sugar in fruit. 

These are my personal goals for right now and I’m very excited to see how I start to feel.

Kind of ironic that I’m staring this on Fat Tuesday..

I will post updates and other health related posts as I go along on this journey. 

Thanks for reading, I hope you all have a lovely Tuesday!

-Emily

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I LOVE ANIMALS (Plus: Experience Being A Vegan)

I am obsessed with animals. My main love is dogs, but I am completely in awe of almost every animal I see. I’ve been this way since I was little, constantly begging my parents to let me have another animal to add to my gang (they would then tell me I could get a stuffed version of whatever I had asked for). I’ll never forget the day, after months of online searching and begging, that we got my first dog Tiger, a very small Shih-Tzu. He unfortunately didn’t have a very long life due to health problems from being inbred (I know, sad).

Then, shortly after, we got my best friend: My beloved Shih-Tzu named Oliver Twist. He came to us sassy, un-cuddly and sort of distant. He has a very big ego still to this day. I think that’s what has always made me love and adore him.. He’s the dog version of me (minus the big ego).

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Oliver (right) and Peanut, my brothers dog (left) on Halloween

I also had a brief stint with a hamster named Charlie. I thought he was the coolest thing ever (turns out HE was a SHE) until I tried to pick him up and he bit me. After that, I was a little distant from Charlie. I’d occasionally put him in his hamster ball and show him some love, but I was too afraid to pick him up again. One night, Charlie escaped from his hamster home and ran across my room. I jumped onto my bed, too scared that if I got down, he would bite me.  I was terrified of a miniature, dwarf hamster. He was found and returned to his cage. To my surprise, my Mom decided to give Charlie away one day to a family friend. I cried my eyes out, but later learned that this was a better decision.

I was soon okay.. because we still had my Shnubby-Wubby (Oliver).

In Spring 2014, I was living in Chicago for school. I had been quite bored during the day in-between classes and had started watching some Netflix documentaries about animal-free diets. I had been kind of big on eating healthy for a good year-and-a-half before that so I figured it was something I could easily do. I had heard of several students around campus who followed this diet and they seemed healthy and fine.  But, this time I wasn’t just doing it to maintain a healthy lifestyle, I was doing it for the animals; my fluffy little friends.

So, that was it. I made my decision. My roommate Taylor decided to join me in this journey. We cold-turkey (hehe) gave up meat and animal products in exchange for veggies, fruits, beans, whole grains and nuts. It’s basically totally amped-up vegetarianism. I shopped at Trader Joes for everything (I 10/10 recommend Trader Joes even if you’re not vegan) since it keeps things pretty natural and cheap. Below is some food I ate while vegan:

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I lasted total about 1 month. I must say, it’s a lot harder to do then it sounds. I have a lot of respect for those who choose this a life-long thing because it’s awesome. If I wasn’t so weak, I would still be doing it, but I am a huge foodie who loves chicken.

If you’re curious how Taylor and I broke the vegan-life, she was taken over by the cheese fry demons, and I (soon after) was taken over by the cupcake demons. We just weren’t meant to be, BUT WE DID TRY VERY HARD.

Some great things that came out of being vegan: my hair was super shiny, my face was clear and smooth, I felt great about myself and I ate at home more.

Chicago is home to some pretty delicious vegan places to eat (even if you aren’t vegan normally, still amazing to give it a try) like The Chicago Diner and Native Foods Cafe. Chicago Diner is if you’re looking for some (normally) unhealthy meals like burgers and shakes. Native Foods has slightly healthier foods like wraps, sandwiches and amazing sweet potato fries.

In my opinion, just because you don’t totally follow a vegan lifestyle, doesn’t mean you can’t try out the foods or try to eat this way a few days a week.

How I Stay Energized Without Coffee (From A Former Caffeine Addict)

    About a year ago, my daily routine included waking up and going for a Starbucks black iced coffee. I would go to class, get whatever else I needed to get done and then end up going for another cup. The typical routine for a college student (especially in the busy city). It was great for a while; I felt like a superhero able to do whatever I needed. I had extra energy to work out and stay up all night to finish homework.  I went to Starbucks so often that I had earned the privilege of the almighty GOLD CARD (a special gold, glittery card with your name on it which gives you a free drink after 12 purchased drinks).

I thought everything was great until I noticed that the stimulant had started stimulating.. but way too much. It triggered my anxiety disorder and had me shaking and in full-blown panic mode. I knew I had to kick it to the curb. Not only were my poor teeth suffering from the heavy staining of black coffee, but my nervous system just couldn’t take it anymore. I was pretty upset that I had to let it go; there is nothing I love more than a fresh brewed cup. But now, a full year later, I am doing completely fine without it.


Here are some ways that I keep energized WITHOUT coffee..

1. TEA

If there is one thing I could hype up to everyone.. it’s tea. Not only are a good amount of teas really healthy for you, but most of them taste really, really great. There are plenty of caffeinated options such as green tea and black tea that range from 25-70 mg which is plenty to give you a buzz to keep going; brewed coffee has 200 mg of caffeine (and if you’re anything like me.. beware). When I’m really not feeling caffeine at all, Rooibos tea is great caffeine-free option and they have the best flavors.

2. EXERCISE

It may sound backwards, “how can putting out more energy make me less tired?” But, believe it or not, working out is one of the best things you can do to feel more energized. Even if it’s as simple as a walk around the hood or a bike ride with your guy/gal (or even your dog if you have a basket) you are getting your heart pumping and body moving which is enough to make you feel better.

3. DIET

Nobody’s perfect: I can’t say this enough when it comes to eating. Especially if you’re from the Midwest like I am, you understand that we love food and no one can stop us. But if you substitute your deep dish and everything Portillo’s for some healthy alternatives you will notice a serious shift in your mood and energy levels. When the body is getting the nourishment it’s supposed to be, you will feel it from the inside. Start your morning with a healthy breakfast instead of a few donuts and notice the difference. It truly speaks for itself.

4. SLEEP MORE THAN 4 HOURS

I know.. so hard, right? If you live a busy life you know how hard it can be to get a good nights sleep. But, try your best to not put sleep on the back burner. Your body needs at least 6 hours to be able to function properly throughout the day (even though 8 is recommended). So, if you can, cut your night out on the town a few hours early (if the sun is coming up you’ve probably over done it) and get that needed sleep time. You will feel way more energized than you thought possible.

5. KEEP BUSY

If you have a full day agenda, you will keep moving and keep focused which in turn keeps you from sitting around and feeling sluggish. Start a hobby, join a club, make plans with friends you haven’t seen in a while and get going! There is a good chance you’re not as tired as you think you are.

If you guys can relate to the coffee blues, then try out some of these tips and you will no longer be reaching for that cup o’ joe.