Meal Prep – Week of August 23rd

It’s been a semi productive yet busy weekend. I am not going to be hard on myself for not posting my meal prep yesterday. I was tired and need a moment to sit in my thoughts and not do anything requiring too much effort. I decided to go back to incorporating more protein into my weekly meals again because I realized eating small amounts of food isn’t helpful when you become starving and eating anything in sight.

Grocery List

  • Shallot
  • Skirt Steak
  • Zucchini Squash
  • Yellow Onion
  • Avocado
  • Protein Bars
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Chickpea Pasta
  • Bacon
  • Ground Beef

Breakfast

For breakfast I decided to keep it simple with protein bars.

Lunch

For lunch I decided to try some stuffed zucchini boats, stay tuned later this week for the recipe.

Dinner

For dinner I tried a recipe for avocado sauce that I will pair with chickpea pasta and skirt steak. I will be posting the recipe later this week.

The Only Person You Should Compare Yourself to is Your Yesterday Self

I am very hard on myself. Most of the time I compare myself to those that I admire and wonder why I am not like them yet. Recently I have come to the realization that instead of trying to be like them, I should be focusing on being better than who I was yesterday. Since starting this journey I have improved so many of my bad habits for the better. I wouldn’t say I have converted all of my bad habits, but I’m getting there. This has been a slow improvement, but I am finally starting to see the progress. It makes me realize that just because I don’t see the results right away doesn’t mean I won’t ever get to where I want to be. Slow and steady wins the race, right?

Below I want to list some habits that I have changed for the better since starting this journey. Most of these changes were slow and gradual and I barely even noticed I was getting better until I focused on comparing myself to my past self instead of someone else.

  • I choose healthier binge food, but the binges are less
  • I am correct my negative thoughts about my body more than I have done in the past
  • I say no to food when I’m not hungry more than I did in the past
  • I stop eating when I am full more than I did in the past
  • I choose healthier options when eating out
  • I drink more water
  • I eat less sweets just because they are there

My Work Space

Recently I rearranged my apartment and redecorated. My mom had suggested I move my desk and after seeing it in the new location I loved it. I decided to decorate this little work space with pictures that inspire me.

One of the pictures says “She believed she could so she did.” This picture inspires me to believe in myself. If I believe I can do whatever I want then eventually I will get there. It may take me a while to get there and I may change my end destination, but I will get somewhere eventually. Life is about a good journey. You don’t just stop once you get there, you keep going.

The other picture says “I have to be successful because I like expensive things.” This picture inspires me because I love expensive things. Not because they are expensive, but because most of the time they are higher quality. Expensive doesn’t always mean quality, but most of the time it does. If I’m not financially successful then I won’t be able to afford the things I want. Of course success and expensive are very relative. Everyone’s version is different.

Instant Pot Pork Belly

I was browsing the Whole Foods site for grocery ideas and came across some pork belly. I have heard about pork belly but had never tried it. I found a recipe for pork belly using the Instant Pot and decided to give it a try because I am always looking for more recipes to make in my Instant Pot. I followed a recipe calling for 2 lb of pork belly, but used 1 lb of pork belly and it still turned out really good.

The pork belly came in a slab, so I started by cutting it into 1 inch cubes. I placed in the instant pot with a little bit of water, teriyaki sauce, and a little bit of pineapple(optional). I only added the pineapple because I had a little left over and didn’t want it to go to waste.

Press the “pressure cook” button and cook for 25 minutes. Let natural release for 15 minutes. If there is still pressure left, press the quick release.

What you will come up with is a delicious fall apart meat. I prepared the pork belly by grilling it to get it a little caramelized. I paired it with shirataki noodles, chard, and carrots.

Pineapple Greens Pantry Smoothie

I am always a fan of saving money. I don’t like the idea of buying almond milk and yogurt just to use half of it then end up having to throw it away. Most of the time the smoothies I make are almond milk and yogurt based. Recently I wanted a smoothie and realized I didn’t have almond milk or yogurt in the fridge so I needed to improvise. For almond milk I used water then just added almonds. I have almonds in my pantry most of the time so it is easy to just make my own almond milk as I need it. For the yogurt I like the tang, so I added a little bit of apple cider vinegar to give the same sort of tang I get from yogurt.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1-2 tbsp of almonds
  • 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 scoop of protein
  • Frozen Pineapple
  • 2-3 Collard Green leaves

Directions

Start by blending the water, almonds, vinegar, and protein together. Once smooth, add the collard greens and blend until smooth. Finally add your desired amount of pineapple(I add enough to fill up my individual sized blender) and blend until everything is smooth. Enjoy!

Essential Oils Guide

Although there is no hard scientific evidence supporting the benefits of essential oils, they are still widely used. The 2 most common ways to use essential oils are rubbing it on your skin and absorbing it into the bloodstream or diffusing it into the air and inhaling it. Although safe in most cases, experts and testimonials agree that overuse can cause many dangerous side effects.

Essential oils work by sending messages to the part of the brain that controls emotions. Scent can be very influential on emotions and is very intuned to memories. Below, I will talk about what to look for when choosing essential oils and I will share some of the scents I like the most.

What to Look For

Even though the FDA doesn’t regulate essential oils, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to look for when you are choosing which brand to go with.

The first thing to look at is the bottle. Quality essential oils are sold in tightly sealed dark colored bottles. The dark color of the bottle protects the oil from light damage. It is also important to never buy essential oils in a plastic bottle, always go for glass bottles. Genuine essential oils do not mix will with plastic.

The next thing to look at is the label. A genuine essential oil’s label should state the common AND Latin name of the plant, what parts of the plant were used, how it was extracted, and how it was grown. The label should also state “100% pure essential oil” and list the metric measurements of each component.

The next thing to look for is the source. A genuine essential oil should state exactly what country it comes from or include a lot # that can be used to look up the origins.

There are 3 signs to look for when it comes to determining whether an essential oil is fake:

  1. Fragrance – any label that comes out and says “fragrance oil” is not a genuine essential oil
  2. Latin Name – if no Latin name is present, the oil is not a genuine essential oil
  3. Price – if it is a very low price you should be weary. A good price range to stay in is $11-$26

My Favorite Essential Oils

A lot of times I will buy essential oil blends focused on stress relief. After doing the research about what to look for I should probably check the labels of the oils I have on hand. Below are some of my favorites essential oils and their benefits.

Grapefruit – relieves hangovers, increases energy, and improves digestion

Lavender – promotes relaxation and reduces insomnia

Peppermint – reduces headaches, pain, and stomach issues

Sandalwood – reduces anxiety and improves sleep

As always I recommend doing your own research and taking my advice for what it is…an amateur wanting to share what she has learned about wellness. I am by no means an expert.

Sources:

https://greatist.com/health/best-essential-oils-how-to-buy-essential-oils#how-to-identify-fake-oils

Meal Prep – Week of August 16th

To prep for this week I will need to freeze pineapple, wash veggies, and pressure cook pork belly. I have never used pork belly so I am excited to try it.

Grocery List

  • Pork Belly
  • Pineapple
  • Cucumbers
  • Shirataki Noodles
  • Kale
  • Scallions
  • Lemons and Limes
  • Chard
  • Rainbow Carrots
  • Granny Smith Apples
  • Collard Greens
  • Teriyaki Sauce

Breakfast

For breakfast I will be doing a kale based green juice.

Lunch

For lunch I will be doing a pineapple collard green smoothie, I will share the recipe later this week since I will be doing it different than I have done in the past.

Dinner

For dinner I will be doing teriyaki pork belly with carrots,chard, and shirataki noodles. Stay tuned for how the pork belly turned out later this week.

How to Center Yourself

Recently I came to the conclusion that I shouldn’t let others’ stress get to me. A lot of times a couple of my coworkers get stressed out very easily and everyone in the office has to suffer through their negativity. Don’t get me wrong, I love my coworkers, but they aren’t always the best for my stress levels. Listening to their stress may not be the only thing that puts me off balance, but they are who I am with the most throughout the week so I will be referencing that situation a lot throughout this post. In this post I will be offering tips for how to center yourself when you are stressed out.

I have a ring that has another ring in it that spins. I have had three different versions of this ring over the past couple years and I feel stressed when I don’t have it. It is very calming to spin the outer ring around in circles. It helps me focus on something other than the stress around me. I also find just any sort of thing I can play with, like a necklace, is calming.

Before I talk about how to center yourself, I want to discuss what centering yourself means. Centering yourself is a method of visualization that helps you focus on the here and now. It helps you take power away from outside concerns and negative thoughts and allows you to stay stable and grounded. This concept of centering comes from a Japanese form of defensive arts called Aikido. Aikido believes that the body’s physical and mental power comes from energy around the body, so when the body is stressed your energy is lost. Centering allows you to redirect that energy in a beneficial way.

The 3 steps to centering yourself are:

  1. Focus on your breathing – Use your diaphragm to breathe air all the way into your lungs and release all of the tension. Keep breathing deeply until your body relaxes completely.
  2. Find your center – The center of gravity is a few inches below your navel. By focusing your mind on your center you will feel grounded. As you focus on your center, breathe deeply.
  3. Redirect your energy – Imagine your energy as an object, for example, a glowing ball. Place all of your negative thoughts into that object and inhale, exhale to release the object along with all of your negative thoughts.

Source:

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTCS_83.htm

In addition to the methods above, I also like the idea of essential oils to center myself. There is a lot of conflicting research about whether essential oils actually work, but I want to share my opinion. I will get into the conflicting research in another post next week hopefully. I believe essential oils work because they allow you to associate that scent with a feeling. Find an essential oil and apply it when you are feeling calm and relaxed. Breathe it in and out and focus on how relaxed you feel. Practice this everyday to really associate that scent with a centered mind. When you are in a stressful moment, I believe that if you smell that scent your mind will calm down because you are associating that scent with a calm moment.

What are your favorite ways to calm down and center yourself?

Juice Trio

This week I bought ingredients to make 3 different juices. One of the juices is broccoli based, one is lettuce based, and one is spinach based. I am always a fan of variety, so I chose 3 bases that can share similar ingredients. In addition to the broccoli, lettuce, and spinach I bought apples, cucumbers, lemons, and pineapples. In addition to giving myself a variety of flavor by choosing 3 different types of greens, I am also giving myself a variety of nutrients. Each green is higher in different nutrients.

Spinach provides Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Iron, and Potassium.

Broccoli provides Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folate, Vitamin A, Manganese, and Potassium.

Lettuce provides Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K.

If you plan on making a lot of juice in a week I recommend buying ingredients that can be easily interchanged. Buy multiple types of apples, multiple types of citrus, and multiple types of greens. It’s fun to never have the same juice twice!

For more juicing tips check out my juicing guide HERE.

Check out the sources below for more health benefits of the greens featured in my juices:

https://www.verywellfit.com/spinach-nutrition-facts-calories-and-health-benefits-4114717

https://www.verywellfit.com/broccoli-nutrition-facts-calories-and-health-benefits-4118226

https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/nutrients-found-green-leaf-lettuce-4505.html

Back on Track

This week I got a little off track. I felt very overwhelmed so I took a few days off and now it is time to get back on track. A few months ago I talked about the importance of having a routine(see the post here). Today, I realized just how important having a routine is. I may stray away from that routine sometimes, but it is nice to have as it gives me something to come back to after I get off track. I know what I need to go back to.

For me routine used to mean doing the same thing every single day. As I have been on this journey I have realized a routine is just a guideline. It is something to help plan your day, but it is not the exact same everything day.

I urge you to create your own routine. Do what works best for you. I like to create a to do list template on my phone with things I want to complete every day and spaces to write other things I want to accomplish throughout the day.