Balancing the Crucial Connection Between Fitness & Nutrition

Due to the gradual development of poor lifestyle choices, such as unhealthy diet and irregular exercise, numerous Americans have begun exhibiting risk factors for high blood glucose, metabolic syndrome, cellular oxidative stress and other conditions associated with inadequate nutrition intake and fitness levels.

While the average person knows that consistent physical exertion must be sustained by wholesome eating habits, and vise versa, this balancing act is often difficult to maintain.

In a culture that values pre-packaged convenience over freshly prepared quality, many people consume an overabundance of artificial preservatives, toxic chemicals, saturated fats and refined sugars. These heavily processed ingredients cause unwelcome weight gain and can result in various medical concerns.

In addition, many people also lack the motivation to incorporate vigorous activity into their daily routines, so when combined with nutrient deficiency, a sedentary lifestyle could trigger the premature onset of serious cardiovascular issues.

To protect your body from these health hazards, practice eating whole foods and exercising every day until doing so becomes a ritual that no longer requires conscious effort.

Healthy eating woman holding a salad and smiling - isolated over white

A well-rounded diet includes plant-based proteins (e.g. beans, lentils, raw nuts, non-dairy milk); lean meats – unless you’re a vegetarian, of course! – (e.g. chicken, turkey, fish); whole grains (e.g. oats, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, spelt); low-sugar fruits (e.g. berries, avocados, papayas, oranges, melons); and leafy green vegetables (e.g. kale, spinach, broccoli, Swiss chard, lettuce).

These powerhouses contain essential nutrients, naturally-occurring chemicals, antioxidants and beneficial fats, rather than those harmful ingredients found in a typical fast food meal.

The other “puzzle piece” – habitual movement – combines aerobic (e.g. running, cycling, swimming, dancing, kickboxing) and anaerobic (e.g. weight lifting, push-ups, squats, crunches, resistance yoga) training.

Together, both disciplines promote muscle tone, cardiovascular strength, skeletal resilience, flexibility, endurance and physical energy. Your body needs these wellness properties to function optimally, experience longevity, and build defenses against illness or injury.

Becoming committed to proper fitness and nutrition can mean the difference between healthy aging and chronic disease development. However, the ultimate decision is yours: would you rather feel vibrant, active and nourished at the cellular level?

Or, are you content to keep avoiding exercise, frequenting the drive-through window and, potentially, suffering from metabolic syndrome or other weight-related complications?


Huge thanks to Nutri Lifescience, LLC, for supplying the research, content and graphics for this post.

#LoveBulu ‘Cause Bulu Loves You Back!

Confession: health and wellness goodies are my weakness.

Yeah, alright…I recognize the irony. In the broader scope of every possible obsession a person might succumb to, I could do much worse!

But, while my body appreciates the benefits of a wholesome diet, sometimes my wallet wishes I wasn’t so selective. There’s no denying that health often comes with dollar signs attached, resulting in everyone’s favorite “Cost vs. Quality” debate.

Why can’t they just get along? Why can’t we nourish ourselves properly without breaking our budgets? Well…turns out, we can!

Say “hello” to Bulu Box — where nutritious eating meets bargain hunting. Each month, Bulu Box subscribers receive 4-5 snack, vitamin and supplement samples from top-rated wellness brands.

BuluBox

A little orange box of happiness…Who can resist those motivational mantras?!

This customized package is conveniently shipped straight to your doorstep, and Bulu Box offers several subscription plans for every price range. Choose from Month-to-Month ($10 per box), 3 Months ($30 fee),     6 Months ($60 fee) and 12 Months ($110 fee). Free shipping comes standard, and Rewards Points make saving money even easier.

Now, for the fun part — what’s inside a Bulu Box? Pure yumminess, that’s what! Guilt-free food finds galore. Take a peek:

BuluBox contents 1

Protein powder, energy bars, performance supplements…OH MY!!!

Quest Protein Powder

Quest Protein Powder

  • The Breakdown: 23 grams of protein per serving; less than 1 gram of sugar per serving, 110 calories per serving (high protein-to-calories ratio); soy- and gluten-free; essential nutrients including Potassium, Fiber, Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium and Iron
  • The Taste Test: I’ve never uttered a negative word about peanut butter flavored anything, and this protein powder is no exception.
  • The Verdict: When blended into liquid form, Quest adds a creamy quality that smoothie fans will love. Moreover, the protein content is ideal for both pre-workout energy and recovery fuel.

Mediterra Nutritional Bar

Mediterra Savory Bar

  • The Breakdown: 6 grams of protein per serving; 6 grams of fiber per serving; 4 grams of sugar per serving; 160 calories per serving; non-GMO verified; gluten-free, all-natural ingredients; essential nutrients including Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron
  • The Taste Test: With a crisp, crunchy texture and just the right amount of saltiness, this rich and tangy snack condenses an entire Margherita pizza into one bite-sized bar.
  • The Verdict: The tomato and basil combo takes “satisfying pick-me-up” to another level. Mediterranean Diet devotees will appreciate this savory grain and veggie pairing, packaged for on-the-go ease.

Movit Energy Gummies

MoveIt Energy Gummies

  • The Breakdown: 60 calories per serving; scientifically formulated Coenzyme Q10 supplement; Guarana caffeine; essential nutrients including Folic Acid, Niacin, Vitamin C and Vitamin B12
  • The Taste Test: Although I have trouble stomaching gummies, these little guys defied my initial skepticism. The citrus aftertaste is sweet but not cloying, and the consistency is chewy but not gelatinous.
  • The Verdict: These smiling gummies are hard to resist, and their compact size makes smart snacking effortless. Plus, Movit’s natural energy supports a variety of athletic activities.

Yerba Prima Fiber Plus Powder

Yerba Prima

  • The Breakdown: 9 grams of fiber per serving; 0 grams of sugar per serving; 15 calories per serving; bentonite detoxification; herbal cleansing; milk thistle extract (liver health); Ginko leaf extract (mental function); essential nutrients including Potassium and Calcium
  • The Taste Test: Mix this apple spice infused formula with water, and you’re basically drinking cider. Fall in a glass. Enough said.
  • The Verdict: Yerba Prima offers digestive regularity without skimping on flavor. The purifying herb complex will gently detox your system for fast-acting gastrointestinal relief — a win-win in my book.

So, there you go, folks. That’s why I #LoveBulu. Wanna feel the love as well? Order your own box and use the promo code SWEATPINK at check-out to score 50% off a 3-month subscription!

Special thanks to Fit Approach and Bulu Box for giving me the opportunity to sample these products. 

Quinoa Quesadillas (now, that’s fun to say!)

It’s Saturday night. Yours truly isn’t exactly in the mood for anything that doesn’t involve Netflix. Thus, I’m gearing up for a low-key evening in the comfort of my own humble abode [read: bed].

But…then hunger strikes. What’s a girl to do?

Crank up the stove and start experimenting, of course!

So, tonight’s creation features a mash-up of flavors a la Mexico and South America. I submit for your culinary seal of approval, my friends:

…drumroll, please

Quinoa Quesadillas!!!

Yup. These vegetarian delights are overloaded with protein, whole grains, and essential plant-based nutrients for a meal that will satisfy both your appetite and taste buds.

To utilize my limited command of the Spanish language (because, you know, just keeping with our theme), they’re fantastico.

Legitimate Spanish-speakers: is that actually a word?

Well, regardless…enjoy this delicious and nutritious recipe from my kitchen to yours!

Ingredients:

quinoa quesadillas ingredients

  1. 2 Whole Wheat Tortillas
  2. 1/4 cup Quinoa
  3. 1/4 cup Mushrooms (chopped)
  4. 1/4 cup Red Onions (sliced)
  5. 1/4 cup Tomatoes (chopped)
  6. 1/4 cup Cotija Cheese (crumbled)*

Make this recipe vegan by substituting the cheese for Silken Tofu.

Preparation:

quinoa quesadillas preparation 1

quinoa quesadillas preparation 2

quinoa quesadillas preparation 3

  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, cook the quinoa according to the package instructions.
  2. While the quinoa is simmering, prep the vegetables and cotija cheese (or vegan substitute).
  3. Pre-heat a small skillet over a medium stove top setting and coat with olive oil cooking spray.
  4. Remove the quinoa pan from heat and drain any remaining water, then set aside temporarily.
  5. Combine the mushrooms, red onions and tomatoes in the skillet, then saute them until softened.
  6. Remove the vegetables from heat after approximately 3-5 minutes and set aside temporarily.
  7. Re-coat the skillet with cooking spray and turn the stove top burner back to a medium setting.
  8. Place 1 tortilla in the skillet and spread the quinoa evenly over it, leaving 1/2″ space along the edge.
  9. Add both the cotija cheese and sauteed vegetables, then place the second tortilla on top.
  10. Cook the bottom tortilla for approximately 2 minutes, or until it sizzles, then flip to the other side.
  11. Allow the second tortilla to cook for the same amount of time before removing from heat.
  12. Once the quesadilla has cooled slightly, cut it into 8 equal-sized wedges and ENJOY, of course!

quinoa quesadillas finished product

TA DA!!!

But wait…there’s more:

Serving Suggestion:

Cored avocado halves — mashed with a fork, drizzled in lime juice, then dusted with just a hint of chili powderstevia and leftover cotija cheese — make a fabulously bold side for this Latin-inspired dish.

New Year. New Moi.

2015

image courtesy of specialevents.com

On the off-chance that anyone will bother reading this (or, find it remotely interesting, for that matter)…behold, my Resolutions for 2015:

  1. I will integrate a 30-minute yoga practice into my regular routine, starting with once per week, then gradually increasing to every day.
  2. I will divorce my tendency to restrict calories and, instead, eat balanced portions of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains.
  3. I will put a small sum of money aside each month in order to afford an adventure abroad by the end of 2015 or the beginning of 2016.
  4. I will learn how to play a musical instrument or explore a potential new hobby that I’ve wanted to try but have never made time for.
  5. I will curb my sarcastic tongue, compulsive need for control, superiority complex and judgmental attitude in my dealings with others.
  6. I will root excessive anxiety, stress or fear of the future out of my life, and focus on counting my blessings instead of uncertainties.
  7. I will make a conscious effort to form new friendships in my area, as well as reconnect with old friends, with whom I’ve lost touch.
  8. I will pursue professional writing opportunities, learn how to become marketable in this industry and, of course, network my ass off.
  9. I will participate in the Whole-30 nutrition program at least once, which will be an extraordinary feat, considering my love for wine.
  10. I will get back into the habit of regularly posting on this [sniff…sniff…all-too-often neglected] blog, at a minimum of twice per week.
  11. I will become more sensitive and respectful toward my significant other’s needs, and flex my “romantic muscles” more frequently.
  12. I will practice open communication with loved ones, demonstrate vulnerability and accept help, instead of  relying solely on myself.
  13. I will read 5-10 classic novels from Time Magazine’s 100 All-Time Best Literary Works list, even if this makes me sound pretentious.
  14. I will continue my current exercise regimen of 5 days per week–1 hour per day, focusing on a balance of cardio and strength training.
  15. I will regularly attend a local Bible study and set aside between 10-15 minutes on a daily basis for spiritual “quiet time” and meditation.

Got any Resolutions of your own? Discuss…

On Turning Your Body Image from Naughty to Nice

The holidays are a challenging time of year for me.

I won’t even bother pretending otherwise.

So, with Christmas just 2 days around the corner, that telltale anxiety has begun creeping up on me.

In T-48 hours, the festivities will commence. I’ll be plied with cut-out cookies, green bean casserole (whose appearance at the buffet table always makes me wonder: why is this even a thing???), and every sugary beverage imaginable. I’ll spend Christmas dinner inwardly squirming because there’s no socially acceptable reason to escape “family time” for a stress-relieving workout.

And — most cringe-worthy of all — I’ll nod and *fake* smile as the table conversation invariably shifts to, “I reeeeeeally shouldn’t eat this, but…”

Don’t give me wrong though, I still love the holidays.

No, seriously. I do.

I’m a sucker for seasonal traditions. I can flawlessly quote Elf, and I know the lyrics to every musical sequence in White Christmas (that’s right…not just the title song!). I’m always convinced reindeer can fly upon watching the “Santa Tracker” with my younger cousins. In fact, I’m even listening to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” while typing this post.

Yep. There’s no denying it. Christmas is magical.

Too bad the magic often takes a backseat to my “holiday weight”-centric neurosis.

Negative body image seems grossly intensified during this time of year, and I sure wish Santa would fill my stocking with manuals on getting through the season, unscathed by those pesky insecurities. All gift-wrapped and foolproof because I am on the Nice List, don’tcha know.

Right. If only.

Instead, I’m left to my own devices when faced with excessive eating, thoughtless comments, and degrading voices inside my head. And — if you’re anything like me — you’ve likely experienced the exact same struggle.

But, since we’ve established the Big Guy won’t be bringing any “Body Image Survival Guides” on his sleigh anytime soon, I’ll leave you with this:

3 strategies, which have empowered me to sidestep feelings of inadequacy, so I can actually enjoy the festivities. Maybe you’ll find them helpful, as well. Just sayin’…

  1. If you want a cookie, have a cookie! Depriving yourself  is counterproductive and will frequently lead to a binge. Instead of suppressing a sweet tooth or restricting your regular intake to compensate for said sweet tooth, only to lose control and devour the whole damn cookie jar when nobody’s looking, allow yourself some wiggle room. Don’t overindulge, but listen to those internal hunger cues. If your body is craving chocolate chip goodness, for instance, feed the urge.  Eat 1 cookie. Taste it. Savor it. Then, walk away from the remaining dozen. Sweet tooth satisfied. Anxiety alleviated.
  2. Enough already with “good” vs. “bad” foods! There are no bad foods (unless they’re loaded with artificial preservatives…then, they can’t really be considered food). Only bad eating habits. Example: I might avoid green bean casserole, but my sister loves that shit. Therefore, green bean casserole is neither “good” nor “bad.” Regardless of our individual taste buds, it’s still just food. How food is consumed, though, can be detrimental. Whether you’re obsessively counting calories or mindlessly munching until nausea ensues, you fall into the disordered eating category.  So, eliminate those labels. If you like something, just eat it.
  3. You can be social while staying in shape! Rather than sneaking away from the crowd to sweat off Christmas dinner, turn exercise into a family bonding activity. Take a brisk walk around the neighborhood together, while enjoying holiday lights. Organize a backyard touch football scrimmage. Even play Wii Sports with your cousins (that’s what I do!). By all means, get moving! Just don’t let fitness take precedence over relationships. Strike a healthy balance. Instead of turning your desire for physical exertion into a covert mission, invite others to join in the action.

Oh, and (because…randomness) here’s a picture of some cookies.

Christmas cookies Yes, I baked them. I also — gasp! — ate them.

Guiltlessly.

If I can, anyone can.

You’re welcome (and Merry Christmas!).

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts: Lots of Love to Go Around {Product Review}

I’ve recently had the privilege of participating in my very first product review through the Sweat Pink Ambassador community. So, here’s a quick shout-out to the fabulous SPA founder Alyse for this opportunity. Much appreciated!

Now, onto the real business. Today, I’ll be reviewing hemp hearts from Manitoba Harvest, a sustainable manufacturer of hemp-only foods, based in Winnipeg, Canada.

Confession Time: Until about 20 minutes ago, I’d never tried hemp hearts before. Scratch that, I’d never tried hemp anything before. I thought hemp was just rope material that middle-schoolers use to make friendship bracelets. So, let’s just say…prior to receiving my free sample in the mail this morning, I was a hemp virgin.

But, nevertheless, they arrived to put the breaks on my virginity, and I eagerly tore into the packaging.

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts

First Impressions: Okay, they’re all natural: check. Each serving has 10 grams of plant-based protein and 10 grams of omegs-3s: check, check.

Moving right along, then…

*opens bag*

Well, they’re not exactly what I’d expected. To be honest, I’m not even sure what I was expecting, — maybe granola pieces in the shape of a heart? I don’t know! — but these disc-like things resemble lentils more than seeds. Hmm…intriguing!

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Heart Seeds

The Taste Test: Nutty. Buttery. Tender. Just a slight crunch. Yep, I can get on-board with these little guys!

So far, hemp hearts get an A+ rating.

And that concludes our preliminary round. Time for the finals.

This company website features several tantalizing recipes, so component number 2 of this product review is to experiment with hemp hearts in one of these recipes.

I’m a sucker for superfood smoothies, so I chose to blend up my own twist on Manitoba Harvest’s Cinna-Butter Bliss Smoothie. The original recipe has been copied below for your convenience:

  • Ingredients:
  1. 2 tbsp. Almond Butter
  2. 1 tbsp. Hemp Hearts
  3. 1 Banana*
  4. 1 Date*
  5. 1/2 tbsp. Cinnamon
  6. 1 cup Hemp Bliss Organic Beverage*
  • Preparation: 
  1. Combine all these ingredients together in a blender.
  2. Pulse until the mixture is thoroughly smooth (yields 1 serving).

* Notes: I don’t particularly care for bananas, so I substituted roughly 1/3 cup frozen mangoes. I didn’t have any dates on-hand, so I omitted that ingredient altogether (although I’m sure dates would add tons of flavor). Instead of Hemp Bliss, – because, if I barely knew what hemp hearts were, why would I just happen to have drinkable hemp lying around?! – I substituted coconut milk.*

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts Smoothie Ingredients

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts SmoothieDespite these variations, the smoothie still tasted absolutely incredible. In fact, I can see it becoming my standard post-workout recovery fuel.

And now, for the overarching question: Do I recommend purchasing Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts?

110% YES!

This product has earned my seal of approval and exceeded whatever preconceived notions I had about hemp (which, by the way, is so much more than just a pre-teen fashion statement!).

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts Seal of Approval

So, sprinkle the deliciousness on top of salads, oatmeal or yogurt. Toss them into a protein shake or smoothie, like I did. Cook or bake with them in your favorite dishes (or try a brand new recipe, like those displayed on the website). You can even enjoy a handful straight from the bag, as a nutritious and satisfying snack.

Sold, yet? Well, maybe this will persuade you:

During the months of October and November, you can score 20% off all products at ManitobaHarvest.com.

Use the promo code HHSweatPink14 before check-out (and send a cyber thank-you to the awesome folks over at Sweat Pink and Manitoba Harvest for making this special offer possible!).

* Reminder: This promotional discount will expire November 30, 2014. *

My Make-Ahead-Enjoy-Anytime Menu for a Full Day of Healthy Eating

So, what does an entire day of balanced nutrition look like? Let’s break it down meal-by-meal. For example, the following delicious dishes were my breakfast, lunch, and dinner yesterday. Not only did they pass the taste test, but they required minimal effort and used whole food ingredients. Yeah…that’s a win in my book!

Recreate these recipes for 12 hours of only the freshest fuel (that won’t even feel like you’re on a diet).


Breakfast: Apple & Carrot Smoothie

  • Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup rice milk
  2. 1 tbsp. almonds
  3. 1 apple
  4. 1 carrot
  5. 1 tbsp. nut butter
  • Preparation
  1. Peel and chop the apple.
  2. Peel and chop the carrot.
  3. Finely chop the almonds.
  4. Combine all the ingredients in a blender.
  5. Puree until the mixture is smooth

carrot apple smoothie ingredients       carrot apple smoothie   

Lunch: Lighter Cobb Salad

  • Ingredients
  1. 1 egg (hard boiled)
  2. 1 avocado (sliced)
  3. 2 Roma tomatoes (diced)
  4. 1/2 cup corn (off-the-cob)
  5. 1 cup lettuce (shredded)
  6. 1/2 cup chicken (chopped)*
  7. 2 tbsp. bleu cheese (crumbled)**

* If your dietary needs/preferences exclude animal protein, you can easily omit the chicken or use a vegetarian substitute (i.e. tofu or tempeh).

** If your dietary needs/preferences exclude dairy, you can substitute a vegan “cheese” product.

  • Preparation
  1. Boil the chicken (or protein substitute) in 1 cup of water for 15 minutes, or until fully cooked.
  2. Saute the corn, uncovered, on medium-heat for approximately 8-10 minutes.
  3. Hard boil the egg in 1/2 cup of water for approximately 12 minutes (for step-by-step hard boiling instructions, click this link).
  4. While the chicken, corn, and egg are cooking, prep the other ingredients, then set aside.
  5. When the egg has finished cooking, chop it into bit-size slices, then set aside until the chicken is cooked.
  6. Once all the ingredients are ready, arrange the lettuce at the bottom of a salad bowl, then layer the other ingredients on top of the lettuce.
  7. Toss the salad thoroughly so as to evenly distribute everything.

cobb salad   

Dinner: Shrimp, Mango & Avocado Flatbread

  • Ingredients
  1. 2 tbsp. organic orange juice
  2. 1/2 tbsp. lime juice
  3. 2 tsp. organic honey
  4. 1 tsp. orange zest
  5. 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  6. 1 tbsp. plain hummus
  7. 1 piece Stonefire whole-grain naan*
  8. 1/2 pound shrimp (peeled)
  9. 1/2 red onion (thinly sliced)
  10. 1 mango (peeled and chopped)
  11. 1 avocado (peeled and chopped)
  12. 2 tsp. cilantro (finely chopped)
  13. 1 tbsp. peanuts (finely chopped)

* If your dietary needs/preferences exclude gluten, you can substitute this GF naan recipe from Queen of Quinoa.

  • Preparation
  1. In 1/2 tbsp. of olive oil, saute the shrimp on medium heat for approximately 15 minutes, or until fully cooked.
  2. Combine the orange juice, honey, lime juice, and orange juice together in a small bowl.
  3. Whisk the other 1/2 tbsp. of olive oil into this mixture, then toss in the shrimp once they are finished cooking.
  4. Allow the shrimp to marinate in this mixture between 5-10 minutes, then add in the mango, avocado, and onions.
  5. Warm the naan in the oven on 350 degrees F for approximately 5 minutes, or until crispy.
  6. Allow the naan to cool slightly, then spread a thin layer of hummus on the bread.
  7. Drain excess liquid from the marinade, then spoon the shrimp, mango, avocado, and onion mixture on top of the hummus.
  8. Garnish with a few pinches of chopped peanuts and cilantro.

shrimp mango avocado flatbread   

Greet the Day With Wholesome Protein Power

Earlier today, my sister and I indulged in the obligatory Sunday brunch at a cozy homestyle cafe. But instead of the infamous grease-fried bacon, buttermilk pancakes bigger than your head, and other coronary bypasses served at a typical breakfast joint, this restaurant offered a tantalizing (and cheap!) array of healthy menu options…all of which were calling my name. Finally, I settled on a protein wrap and proceeded to lick my plate clean. In fact, I enjoyed it so immensely that I’ve decided to replicate the recipe.

This is one breakfast you’ll definitely consider a morning staple.


Ingredients:

  • 1 10″ whole wheat tortilla
  • 1/4 cup egg whites (beaten)
  • 1/4 cup spinach leaves (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup mushrooms (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup tomatoes (diced)
  • 1/2 avocado (mashed)
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. low-fat shredded cheddar*

*if your dietary needs exclude dairy, then substitute vegan “cheese

Preparation:

  1. Heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil in a small skillet, then add the beaten egg whites.
  2. Turn the stove-top burner up to medium and scramble the egg whites until the consistency is fluffy.
  3. Heat the remaining tbsp. of olive oil in another skillet, then add the garlic and veggies.
  4. Turn the stove-top burner down to low and simmer the veggies, stirring occasionally.
  5. Scoop the scrambled egg whites into the center of the open-faced tortilla, then spread to the outer edges.
  6. Spread the veggie mixture over the eggs and top with the mashed avocado.
  7. Sprinkle the shredded cheddar (or vegan substitute) over the avocado.
  8. Fold in the edges of the tortilla and roll it tightly (like a burrito), then cut in half before serving.

Serving Suggestion:

Garnish this breakfast wrap with a dollop of Publix Greenwise organic salsa and a few avocado slices fanned out on the plate.

Image   

Here’s what the final product should look like. Tempting, huh?!

What I’m Reading and How It’s Changed My Thinking

Recently, while meandering through the aisles at Barnes & Noble, I stumbled upon one of my favorite actress’s – Cameron Diaz – latest endeavor: The Body Book. Intrigued (and admittedly, a bit skeptical…she is in the business of flawlessness, after all), I snagged a copy off the shelf.

And I was hooked.

We’re talking instantly. I devoured that book in just a few days…and I do mean “devour!” Both my mind and body were STARVING to absorb the information leaping off each page. Never mind that Cameron graces the world’s most glamorous stages. Reading her words, you’d think she was just some unassuming girl-next-door. She was speaking to me. She was speaking to every woman’s innermost body-image struggles. Hell, she WAS every woman. She’d faced those struggles too. And she vanquished them. How could I not be inspired?!

Throughout my later years of adolescence, I harbored a shameful secret: anorexia nervosa. Then, upon entering young adulthood, I undertook an arduous yet fulfilling journey toward both physical and emotional recovery. And these days, I’ve become outspoken on the subject of eating disorders, freely sharing from personal experience in hopes that someone – anyone – might avoid falling prey to this illness because they heard my story.

However, the temptation to slip back into those destructive patterns is an ongoing occupational hazard. On a good day, I can easily tune out the nagging voices that tick off my failures, like a Justin Bieber song on repeat.

On a bad day, I can’t focus on anything else.

But this book altered my perspective on common misconceptions about the human body, which I’d blindly accepted as fact. For the first time, I finally learned the textbook definition of a “calorie.” This thing, which makes even the most self-assured women tremble, is actually not a villain. It’s a unit of energy that the body stores while at rest, then converts into fuel while in motion. Ahem…so, I DON’T need to fear the dreaded calorie?! Simple. Straightforward. Yet revolutionary. Mind blown.

As if that eyeopener wasn’t enough cause for celebration, Cameron went on to crush another fallacy I’d once sworn by: hunger is not a sign of weakness. Au contraire! Eating sustains life, which makes being hungry a biological trigger for our survival instincts. And furthermore, by responding to this urge, we’re fueling ourselves with energy rather than cellulite.

Why did we lose sight of these 6th-grade science basics? Why do they sound radical and groundbreaking, when they should have been our bread and butter all along?

Sometimes it takes an influential force (say…Cameron Diaz, perhaps?) to aim her star power toward setting the record straight. Once and for all. Because women – regardless of shape, size, or bra cup – have been conditioned to loathe every curve and contour, when they SHOULD be skakin’ what their mamas gave them.

Reclaim the right to love your body. And take my advice: crack open The Body Book.

Do it. Like yesterday.

Image   

Stock Up on Whole Foods While Still Staying on Budget

Whole Food (noun): any form of sustenance that is naturally grown or cured, has not been processed or refined, and contains no artificial ingredients.

In other words…what you should be eating.

“Gahhhh! But it’s too expensive,” you say. Ain’t nobody got time (or, let’s face it, money) for that. WRONG! Just because most of us can’t afford to actually shop at Whole Foods (uppercase “W”) doesn’t mean we ought to exclude ourselves from the whole foods (lowercase “w”) lifestyle. With a little resourcefulness, resolve, and sheer common sense, anybody can easily integrate an organic diet into their daily regimen.

That’s right, “au naturel” is no longer just a status symbol for the rich and famous. It’s for you and me. And our bodies will be ever so grateful. But…like…how do you follow a whole foods meal plan that leaves both your palate and wallet satisfied?

Glad you asked!


  • Fruits & Vegetables:
  1. Shop for produce at local farmers’ markets, which are typically cheaper than buying from a grocery store and almost always organically-grown.
  2. Try to only buy produce in-season, which retain nutrients longer and cost less than fruits or veggies that have been imported from other climates.
  3. Plant a backyard fruit, veggie, and herb garden, which will drastically cut down on spending and ensure that your produce is at the peak of freshness.
  • Meats & Proteins:
  1. Buy frozen poultry and fish, which saves a few dollars and has a longer shelf life than refrigerated meat (just make sure there are no added preservatives).
  2. Purchase meat in bulk directly from a farming source, which eliminates middleman mark-ups and often guarantees grass-fed or free-range quality.
  3. Look for alternatives to satisfy your protein needs, like eggs, yogurt, beans, or nuts, which are budget-friendly and often more wholesome than meat.
  • Grains & Carbohydrates:
  1. Make whole grain goods from scratch, which removes preservatives and cuts costs in half (homemade tortillas, granola, oatmeal, or bread saves at least $3 apiece).
  2. Shop at ethnic markets for large sacks of quinoa, brown rice, or other grains which is more economical than buying smaller often overpriced packages from the grocery store.