Thursday, August 18, 2016

Healthy eating bits & bobs

A couple of months ago I posted about two vegan recipes that I tried and really liked. I also briefly talked about my beginnings to becoming a more plant-based eater and a vegan. I resist saying that word (vegan) because of the stigmas that surround it. It's a personal choice and I will never give someone a hard time for what they decide to eat (except of course for urging my loved ones to *perhaps* eat a little healthier...I want them to be around for a while! :)

Since that post, I have very much enjoyed trying new foods and recipes. Below are a couple of my grocery 'hauls' from Whole Foods (aka Whole Paycheck because let's be honest, I spend way too much money on food sometimes!). I tend to spend most of my time in the produce department of Whole Foods and find some yummy fruits and veggies to eat throughout the week. Keep in mind these pictures below only include bits & bobs that I didn't already have stocked in the kitchen.

Also in this post are some recipes that i have tried (some multiple times) and have enjoyed throughout the past few weeks. I hope you enjoy this little look into my meals and find something that you might like to try yourself! :)


Mixed greens with blueberries and strawberries - I prepped these to take to work for 2 lunches, and I brought some balsamic vinaigrette as a dressing for when I was ready to eat these.

One of my new favorite things to make/eat - Thai green curry. Recipe here! I added zucchini to the recipe.

This is stuffed eggplant, I got the recipe from Kayla Itsines' BBG app on my phone (review/progress post here). Delish!

Apples with vegan butter sprinkled with cinnamon (microwaved for about 1 minute) - one of my favorite treats.
Portabella mushroom pizza - recipe here! I just made these for the first time today, they super good and definitely something i'd make again. They are super easy to make, and i like anything I can just toss all the extra veggies that are in the crisper drawer in my fridge into!

I recently bought a food processor and have put it to good use, especially for these "nice" creams. The one on top was made from 2 frozen bananas, oreos (I love that these are vegan), and peanut butter. The second one was made from 2 frozen bananas, dark cocoa powder, and peanut butter. Addicted to these!

My boyfriend surprised me with this water bottle after I had to throw out my Camelbak when going into a football stadium, and I actually love this more than my Camelbak. It is an infuser and I have tried putting lemons and also berries in here. So good!

Reviewing this post over, I am so happy looking at how colorful all of these foods and meals are. I can genuinely tell a difference in my body when I eat healthily. My tummy is happy with me! I notice I have less energy crashes throughout the day and more stable mood swings/energy levels overall. I have been so happy with how i've been eating lately and i can tell my body is too! I am always updating my Instagram with what I'm eating so feel free to follow me there @lauraw0lf :)

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Monday, August 15, 2016

10 things I've learned in 22 years

This blog post is inspired by Jenna Marble's 29 Life Lessons I Learned in 29 Years video. I limited this list to 10 things - 10 things that came to my mind first. Of course I've learned more than 10 life lessons in 22 years, but I could probably talk forever if no one stopped me! I will probably kick myself later for neglecting to add something or stating something oddly, but I will leave this list as is. Feel free to agree or disagree with anything on this list, or comment with your own life lessons or input. I'd love to hear it.
So here's ten things I have learned so far in my 22 years of life:

Taking care of yourself is important. I think your early twenties are a really important time to break bad habits and replace them with good or better ones. I like to believe your twenties are a time to have fun, but also be responsible enough to think long-term. I quit smoking, started exercising regularly, and developed healthy eating habits.

Your parents are human too. When I was a kid, I looked up to my parents very much and thought they could do no wrong. When I started really thinking for myself, I realized how toxic some of the thinking and interactions within my immediate family are. Emotional and verbal abuse are not normal. I strongly believe family is important, but if a relationship is only toxic to you and your life, then some space or distance can be a good thing. 

You might think you know what you want, but that can (and will probably) change. When I was 18-19 years old I thought I knew everything, including how I wanted my life to go. Yes, this was only 3-4 years ago but a lot has changed in just a few years time. I am wise enough now to know that life can change in an instant and that it's important to be flexible in your plans, and I also realize I have a lot left to learn.

Others will not always have your best interest in mind. People can be selfish. Oftentimes other people will do things and make decisions that will hurt you. And I guess that's the way the world works sometimes, sometimes you have to do things that make YOU happy. It becomes a problem when you are intentionally doing things to hurt other people. At the end of the day, you have to be an advocate for yourself.

Knowledge is power. I feel like a lot of people view college/university in a bad light nowadays. It is an investment of time and money, and no one is guaranteed a job after he/she graduates. I highly value my education and what I have learned so far. I strongly believe that continually learning and growing (no matter how you do this, it doesn't have to necessarily be a formal education) is important to becoming the best human you can be.

Change is uncomfortable, but necessary. I think this can apply to a lot of things. "Change is the only constant," is a saying that I try to keep in mind whenever I am going through a major change in my life (like changing jobs, ending relationships, etc). Change can be very scary, even if you know that it is a change that will be good for you in the long run. I just try to remember that the process is temporary and that I will eventually become accustomed to whatever change is happening, that that will become the new "normal" eventually, and that I will become a stronger and better person because of it.

It's important to be able to laugh at yourself. I think a sense of humor is a very valuable tool. Life is too short and goes by too quickly to take yourself seriously. I remember reading somewhere that a person is perceived by others as more friendly if he/she is able to admit when he/she is embarrassed and laugh about it (I'm paraphrasing here!)

No one really knows what they're doing, but most people are really good at pretending. Life is a crazy, scary, and beautiful experience. I think the sooner people realize this, and realize that we are all in this together, the kinder people will act towards each other. I've realized that all you can do is do the best you can with what you have. You don't have to be rich or famous to have an impact on people, but you can have a positive influence on people in your immediate environment - your neighbors, co-workers, clients, friends...

You will encounter people who have starkly opposing beliefs and opinions from you, and that's okay. If everyone thought, believed, and did the same things, the world would be boring. Not only that, but I think balance is essential (in politics, work/life, nature, everything!). Without balance, we would be going from one extreme to another. You don't have to agree with what someone else thinks or believes, but empathy and genuine understanding of another person's lifestyle is powerful.

There is still a lot left to experience and to learn. I feel I have already learned and experienced a lot as a 22 year old, but I have a lot of life left to live and I am looking forward to continuing to learn and to grow!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

July snapshots

July is one of my favorite months out of the year. The weather, the sunshine, the festivals and events that take place throughout the city, the freedom... all reasons I love this month. I have to admit that I am sad to see it almost coming to an end because that means only a month separates me from classes starting up again. Don't get me wrong, I love school and learning new things, but nothing quite beats the freedom you feel on those rare summer days off.

Below are just a few snapshots from my iPhone from the many memories I've made with my boyfriend, friends, and family this past month.
It has been a very fun month which included things such as: seeing Luke Bryan in concert, walks through countryside trails, fun times with friends at downtown bars, and reminding myself that it is okay to forget about work for a night and fully enjoy my time with the people I love!

Questions of the day: What memories have you made this past month? What is your favorite time of the year?
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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

My first scrapbooking venture

This scrapbook is an on-going project that I work on for my boyfriend and me. The book is all about us and our little adventures! My boyfriend and I have been together for two and a half years now and have made many memories along the way (and always making more!). I always saved ticket stubs, wristbands, and other little trinkets from the different places and events we went to but didn't really know what to do with them. I decided to make a little scrapbook after looking around Michael's and seeing cute little scrapbooking stickers, paper, and books.

I can be a very sappy, sentimental person so having a way to "store" and reminisce on memories is very important to me. And if I get to do so in a creative way, all the better!

This is not an extravagant scrapbook by any means, but I am very happy with it and always enjoy filling the remaining pages with tickets and pictures as my boyfriend and I make more memories! 
Here are a few of the pages from the book:

Below are some of the materials I use to make the scrapbook:
The stickers on the left consist of little hearts, banners, stars, and words/phrases to add details to the pages. Under the stickers is thicker paper used to make the pages. On the lower right-hand side is a paper pad that I used to make backgrounds or cut out letters from. All of these items I bought from Michaels.
The box on the upper right-hand side is the box which I use to store the ticket stubs, pictures, wristbands, etc. that we collect from events and whatnot. I order all of my photos from Shutterfly.

How do you store the photos/ticket stubs/tiny souvenirs from the memories you make?

Monday, June 27, 2016

Vegan Cooking Successes: Black Bean Burgers & Quinoa Crust Pizza

As I briefly mentioned in my previous Kayla Itsines' BBG review post, I recently started to eat a more plant-based, vegan diet. I started this simply because I noticed my body feels lighter and I have more energy when I go without eating meat, eggs, cheese, and other animal byproducts. I also suffer from ezcema, and find that my skin flares up when I eat dairy products. When I tell people I'm eating a vegan diet, the reaction I mostly get is "wow, that must be so hard," and "how do you do it? There are animal byproducts in everything." And although this can feel all too true sometimes, thankfully Pinterest exists. There is a plethora of amazing tried-and-true vegan recipes that offer (often) healthier options than their non-vegan alternatives. For example, black bean burgers and quinoa crust pizza, which I have tried and will be reviewing below!

Pictured above is my rendition of a vegan black bean burger recipe, found on Hummusapien's blog.
This recipe was very quick and easy to throw together, which is great for someone like me with a busy schedule. It yielded 6 burgers, and I found myself quickly finishing them as leftovers throughout the rest of the week. I was surprised at how much these burgers taste like the "real deal".

The toppings I used were: avocado, lettuce, tomato, mustard, and ketchup.
An alternative to the whole grain bun that I used for the leftovers: romaine lettuce leaves (not pictured, equally delicious).

Recipe level: Easy
Time required: about 20-25 mins. total
Rating: 10/10
Would I make it again?: Yes, I already have!

This next recipe I tried may be hit-or-miss for people who do NOT like vegetables and LOVE cheese (e.g. my boyfriend - love you, honey!). And despite not being the most photogenic meal, I found this recipe satisfyingly, amazingly delicious. I found this quinoa crust pizza recipe on Simply Quinoa's blog, and just excluded the cheese and added my own choice of toppings. I was surprised at how easy this was to put together, and even more surprised at the fairly low overall calorie content and the amount of great nutrients you get since this recipe tastes. so. good.

Toppings I used: tomato sauce, zucchini, tomatoes, red & green bell peppers.
Alternatives: The only quinoa I had was a mix of red, black, and white quinoa and it still tasted great; sautéing the vegetables before adding them as pizza toppings if you mind your veggies being raw.

Recipe level: Easy
Time required: soaking the quinoa for 6-8 hrs. (I do this in the morning) and putting together/baking for about 40 mins.
Rating: 9/10
Would I eat again?: Yes, I already have!


Pinterest is amazing for recipe ideas. I have found healthy, vegan alternatives for so many of my favorite foods, including these pizza and burger recipes. Although eating a more plant-based/vegan diet can be difficult sometimes, I find that when I discover recipes I like and I dedicate the time to make them, it doesn't seem so bad, expensive, or difficult!

What are your favorite healthy recipes? Do you have any kind of diet restrictions you have to work around?
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Kayla Itsines BBG Review and Progress - Week 22

Hi all!

This will be a quick review of Kayla Itsine's Bikini Body Guide. I started this workout program back in February after hearing about it from Nikki Limo and seeing progress photos from girls all over Instagram. Before starting the program, I worked out doing mostly cardio (HIIT and running) without much weight training, and it was pretty inconsistent. I was in search of something that would give put me into a routine and give me some structure... I then downloaded the Sweat with Kayla app onto my phone! (You can also just purchase the guide without the app! All info available here).

I am currently on week 22 of the program and plan to continue on. I feel strong and fit, and people in my life have noticed the positive changes. My boyfriend, my family, and my co-workers have noticed a change in my overall happiness and energy levels. Some things I always try to keep in mind as a sort of fitness/health philosophy is this: Do the work, keep at it, don't focus on the numbers or scale, don't obsess over "progress selfies", and don't beat yourself up if you have an "off" day; but focus on how good your body feels, how strong you feel, how much energy you have, and how much you are able to push your body each week. Do the work and you will see a difference. The progress will come. Another thing I read a lot on Instagram is "Enjoy the fitness journey." This motto is awesome. Fitness is not something you can do for a week, or a few months, or even a year, but it is an ongoing thing. It's changing the small things you do every day to improve your mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Enjoy the journey!

Personally, BBG helps me enjoy the "fitness journey" and for me, it is a sustainable, realistic workout program that I can see myself doing for months and months to come.

Here is my list of pros and cons of the program:

-Combines both cardio (LISS or low interval sustained state) and resistance training (HIIT or high intensity interval training) to increase strength, burn fat, and tone muscles.
-The BBG community is inspiring and amazingly supportive. There is an entire community on Instagram (easily found using #BBG #SweatwithKayla) that consists of girls supporting and encouraging each other. Kayla Itsines also has an Instagram where she shares other girls journeys as well as inspiration posts. It is awesome to see so many girls supporting and uplifting each other no matter where they are in their fitness journeys.
-Provides me with the routine and structure I was looking for
-Simplistic style of the app
-Easy to follow workouts
-Costs about as much as a gym membership
-Each workout is only about 30 minutes each day. There are 3 HIIT/resistance workouts per week and 3-4 LISS/cardio workouts per week. This is awesome for people like me who have crazy busy schedules and find it hard to make time to workout.

-Meal planning. I personally don't use this aspect of the program. It is nice that there are options for most types of diets (regular, vegan, vegetarian, etc.), but I stick to my own recipes that I find on Pinterest. I can see how this can be useful to other people using the program, but I am happy with my diet right now (plant-based/vegan).
-The workouts can become kind of boring after several weeks. It is true that the HIIT workouts can become somewhat monotonous after several weeks, but I really can't complain because they WORK. After I started to see the changes in my body, it was motivation to keep at it. The LISS workouts (long interval sustained state, aka cardio) I try to switch up (walking, running, hiking, other workout classes like Barre). So, this con can be improved by a change in mindset.
-Some of the moves can be hard on my back. I have some minor back problems (mild thoracic scoliosis, minor chronic pain from turning/lifting heavier patients at work) and some of the moves simply do not feel good for my back. The main one I have a problem with are snap jumps. Thankfully, Kayla has built in alternatives for almost every move that are similar but offer a variation.
-Cost. The program is about $20/month. On top of that, equipment is required for most of the moves. Space to do the workouts, as well as weights, medicine balls, dumbells, a bench etc. Thankfully, I have the space in my basement to do the workouts as well as most of the equipment I need. Otherwise, I try to make do with what I have. For instance, I don't have a bench but I have a chair that works instead. But I know this isn't everyone's case and some people might be required to get a gym membership so they have access to equipment, which is an even bigger cost per month.

Do I recommend the program? Yes! (See list of pros and cons). But first, try the free trial to see if it's something you'd like. It's not for everyone but I fully believe anyone who follows the program will see results.

I have to admit that I am REALLY bad at taking progress photos but here are a few.

Before BBG:

Week 22:

Have you guys tried Kayla Itsine's BBG? If so, what are your thoughts? If not, would you ever try it or what program do you use?

Thanks for listening, hope you're all having a great week!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

I'm back

Wow. It has been TWO full years since my last blog post. *knock knock* Anybody still out there? I have been thinking about blogging regularly again on and off for the past few months. The main thing holding me back is that: I want to create original content. It is important to me that I have something different to say so that my voice doesn't get lost among the crowded blogging space on the internet.

In the past, my blog has focused on clothes and beauty products, and although I am still interested in these things, I have grown up in over the past few years. With growing up comes a change in priorities and interests. I am a full believer in inner beauty being a priority before outer beauty, and this is why over the past couple of years I have become more interested in health and fitness.

I do not want to restrict this space to just health and fitness, I want to be able to post about whatever is interesting to me at any moment in time.

I hope you all stick with me in this journey and that I can create original content for you guys!