Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Lessons From Running

Have you ever seen someone do something and think, "dang I wish I could do that?" That's exactly what I thought when Chelsey (@chelseylovestorun on IG) started a running streak. Every day I'd see her post about her run and think I wish I could do that- she's currently on day 58 of her running streak! Finally I said enough and decided to start my own run streak. 

I've never been an every day kind of runner so I wasn't sure what to expect. I decided to keep most of my training the same so I was still lifting, doing HIIT workouts, and some biking, but now I'd be running every day (as opposed to 3-4 times a week). 

I'm proud to say that for the last 36 days I've run every single day. 

Has every run been great? Heck no. Some days I do NOT want to run but I always feel better once I do. I've also noticed a few changes since I've been running every day. I'm getting faster, a feat that's been nearly impossible since dealing with chronic pain. I've also learned that mental strength is just as important as physical strength. There's been times when my body is telling me it can't push through another mile, but mentally I know I can so I've pushed through and let me tell you it feels awesome. Another important lesson runners high is real and so is post run hanger. I've always gotten a post run high and let me tell you that is an addicting feeling! Nothing beats the feeling of knowing you knocked out however many miles for the day and you gave it your all.

To some running for 36 days in a row is nothing, but to me it's a big deal. Living with constant pain and exhaustion takes a toll on the body and it's not something that you can easily overcome. I've pushed through a lot these past few weeks and I'm proud of it. I'm proud I've pushed through the pain and discomfort because I've gotten to witness so much. I've seen beautiful sunrises, baby deer, bunnies, and the morning stillness is so beautiful. I love watching the world come to life while I'm out running. 

While not every run feels fantastic I'm happy knowing that I've been pushing myself. I've got a streak going and I'd like to keep it going. You can accomplish so much if you just get started. If you had told me 37 days ago that I would be where I am right now I would have laughed at you. There was too much pain and exhaustion to even contemplate starting something like this. But here I am 36 days in, still tired and dealing with pain, but pushing through because sometimes you don't know how strong you are until you take a leap of faith.

Have you ever started a running streak? What's your favorite time of day to run?

Friday, August 26, 2016

Pumpkin Energy Bites

I'm all about that pumpkin, that pumpkin...or maybe that's not how the song goes? I was grocery shopping and that song came on and it has been stuck in my head since- fun fact I find that song rather annoying. 

Totally off topic I know, but if you know me then you know that happens a lot. So maybe it wasn't totally off topic because I have been all about the pumpkin. Pumpkin breakfast bake, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin EVERYTHING! Literally though. I blame it on the fact that I opened a can of pumpkin and I refuse to throw food away, so I had to use it before it went bad. I knew I wanted to make energy balls, but I wanted a larger batch so I took my peanut butter energy ball recipe and went back to the drawing board. The pumpkin, peanut butter, and honey hold the dry ingredients together and holy cow do they make the bites moist! Literally like a piece of pumpkin pie only better (<- even my mom said that)!

Pumpkin Energy Bites
  • 1.5 cups gluten free oats
  • 2 Tablespoon ground flaxseed 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 cup nut butter (peanut butter and almond butter work great)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2.5 Tablespoons chocolate chips (OPTIONAL)
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut flakes (OPTIONAL)

In a medium sized mixing bowl combine oats, flaxseed, coconut flakes (if using), cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.

In separate microwave safe bowl place honey and peanut butter. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir. The mix should be almost completely liquid.

Pour peanut butter/honey combo into dry ingredients. 

Quickly add in pumpkin puree and vanilla extract.

Use a large spoon or spatula to mix all ingredients together. Make sure to scrap down sides of bowl so no dry ingredients remain unmixed.

Place mixture in fridge and allow to cool for 30 minutes-1 hour. 

If using add chocolate chips in to cooled pumpkin/oat mix.

Being taking clumps of batter and rolling into tablespoon sized balls. Repeat until no mixture remains. I was able to get 23 balls, the amount will vary depending on how large/small you make them.

If you make these delicious energy balls take a picture, tag me on instagram, and use the hashtag #thesimplelife I'd love to see your creations! Don't forget to like my new Facebook page

Thursday, August 25, 2016

What I Wished Someone Would Have Told Me as a College Freshman

College is a unique time in your life. You're away from family, friends, and your comfort zone for perhaps the first time. You're venturing off into the unknown. While it can seem really scary, don't let it frighten you. Embrace it. Welcome it. Staying in one place is not good for anyone. Change is hard, but change is good and change is natural. 

You'll be pushed out of your comfort zone and stretched beyond your limits, but it won't break you. You will find an inner strength you didn't know you had and you'll discover new depths of your soul. You'll find excitement in the adventure, but there will be disappointments and heartbreaks too because life isn't perfect. 

For the first time in your life you'll be surrounded by people 24/7. Yes there were always other students around in high school, but you didn't share a confined space with them, have all your classes with them, eat all meals with them, study with them, go to sleep and wake up with them. It's important to take time away for yourself. Drive to the beach and go for a walk by yourself. Find a room where you can meditate by yourself. You need to make yourself a priority because no one else will. 

School is important, but it's not the be all end all of life. Life goes on whether you got a 2.9 GPA or a 4.0 GPA. No employer is going to ask you why you got an A- instead of an A+ on your freshmen year chemistry final exam. Study hard, do your homework, but also have a life. Ten years from now you're not going to remember all the Saturday nights you spent studying in your dorm room. You're going to remember the spontaneous Saturday night that you went out to a hockey game with your friends, then went dancing, and had iHOP at 2AM. Those are the nights and memories you will hold onto. 

If you need help ask for it. No one can read your mind. Go to your professors office hours, that's what they're there for. They won't yell at you or bite your head off because you don't understand something. Most likely they'll be glad you came for help. While you're there get to know your professor. Maybe they grade really hard, but at the end of the day they're human too and they were once a college student. You never know how a professor will be able to help you in the future because they are chalk full of knowledge and connections. 

Take chances and don't be afraid to fail. Want to join the water polo team? Do it. Want to join the knitting club? Do it. Want to join the debate team? Do it. If you end up sucking at least you tried and you probably made a few friends in the process. No one is going to hate you for trying. 

Don't be afraid to do things alone. If you want to go to the hockey game but your roommates don't, then go alone. You never know who you will end up meeting. Don't be afraid to talk to someone while you're there too. Sometimes by doing things by yourself you end up learning more about yourself than you would of had you gone with a friend.

Put down your phone. I know you think life will end because you don't tweet every 15 minutes or you didn't see your best friends latest instagram post, but it won't. I promise. Some of the best memories are made when no one has their phones around to capture the moment. A picture can capture a moment, but it can't capture the feelings in the moment. Memories can. 

Learn the art of conversation. Everyone is so glued to their phones these days that the art of small talk is dying. Have one meal a week with friends that no phones are allowed. Just talk. Find out how their classes are going, what's been happening in their lives, did they resolve the fight with their roommate? It may seem hard, but you'll find you learn far more about a person by talking to them than you do scrolling through their instagram account.

Make time for your family. I know you're off having fun making friends and doing new things, but make time for your family too. Call your mom/dad/brother/sister/great aunt whoever it may be call them. Don't text them. Call them. They want to hear your voice. They want to hear you talk about your classes, your friends, and your nutty professor. Even though they might not admit it, chances are they miss you. When you can go home for the weekend. It might be more fun to be at school, but surprising your mom for her birthday would mean more to her than any gift.

Maybe most important of all, learn to love yourself. Make peace with your past. Learn from your mistakes. You're not perfect and no is expecting you to be perfect. Do your best and learn to accept the outcome. College is just another brief chapter in your life. Make the most of it because before you know it you will be walking across the stage accepting your diploma. Enjoy it while you can because you can never get moments back.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Just Be Present

Monday we meet again. Maybe I'm just weird, but I really don't mind Monday's, especially this week. Since I've come back from vacation I've spent less time on social media than normal and it's been rather refreshing. I hung out with friends and everyone was present. No one had their phones out to check Facebook or Instagram. We laughed, ate, swam, talked and I never once felt the need to whip out my phone to check for text messages or to see what everyone was posting on Instagram.

Don't get me wrong I am just as guilty as everyone for checking my phone a bazillion times a day, but it's important to remember social media isn't always real. While people may post numerous times a day on instagram it's not an accurate depiction of what their lives are actually like. I don't post everything I eat or share all my vacation photos or photos with friends. Those who know me know that I am a pretty private person, if I had a personal Instagram (which I don't) I doubt I'd use it that often. I love taking pictures with friends, but I've never felt the need to share everything.

I don't know what prompted me to put my phone away for the past week and a half, but I've been happier than I've been in a long time. I didn't stress about needing to post or share the latest blog post or keeping up with everyone's posts. Instead I laughed until my stomach hurt, drank wine, stayed up WAY too late and made some really awesome memories.

You see living life through a lens isn't really living. Not every moment needs to be captured. Some of my favorite memories are moments that there aren't pictures or videos of. To me, the beauty of living and experiences is feeling. It's not just the memory I love, but how I felt in that moment.

Moments and memories are so much more important than posting on social media. At the end of your life no one is going to remember what you posted on instagram, but they will remember all the moments they spent with you. So put away your phone and make those moments count. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Vacation Recap

Happy Wednesday! Time has been FLYING this past week. I got back from a short vacation to Northern Michigan a week ago and I wanted to recap post to share some of the fun. This vacation was a much needed mental break. I was exhausted mentally and physically and really frustrated with where I was at training wise. My hip flexor has been causing me a lot of pain and as a result my running suffered and I was beyond fed up. 

There was no gym for me to go to in the morning so I had to hit the trails and sometimes paved roads to get in a workout. I cut WAY back on my running- both time and distance- otherwise the pain would be too intense. Honestly, I needed a break from the gym. I needed to find my love for running again. To be completely honest, there was a lot of tears shed on this road. Tears of frustration, hurt, and fear. In the short time I was there the road became my therapy. It's literally the middle of nowhere, but the silence wasn't overbearing, rather it was peaceful. It was just the noise of my shoes slapping the pavement and my breathing. It gave me a chance to just be present. Plus, as soon as I hit pavement I knew I could kill the rest of the run and I got to watch the sunrise every morning which was by far my favorite part. 

I find sunrise runs to be extremely therapeutic. If you take a moment to look around you and enjoy the beauty of creation how can you not smile? Please excuse the very sweaty selfie. Every day was in the 90's and even around 6:30 when I'd get my run in it would already be in the upper 70's and sometimes the low 80's plus the humidity was HORRIBLE. Way too hot for my running preference. 

One of my favorite morning rituals before setting out to run was going outside to watch the day break with Cora. Normally I'm at the gym so I don't ever see it, but being forced to slow down was a good thing. Cora and I would go outside around 5:45am, sit on the dock and watch the first rays of light break forth. These quiet moments are by far some of my favorite memories from the trip. I know that sounds silly, but as a chronic busy-bee I never take time to just be still. These quiet moments were exactly what my soul needed.

Of course there was lots of good eats on the trip! We stayed in most days and just cooked at the cabin. Northern Michigan hasn't really caught on to the whole food allergies thing, so it's hard for me to go out to eat. Breakfast is always my favorite meal of the day- shocking I know ;) After my run and cycling session I'd whip up breakfast. I brought oats and fruit from home and I'd sit out on the deck to eat breakfast while Cora hunted chipmunk. My favorite fruits to add to oatmeal are of course berries, but I started adding a little drizzle of honey over top and it's so good!!

Friday my dad and I took a road trip to Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes National Park. If you've never been to Sleeping Bear Dunes put it on your bucket list. It's absolutly gorgeous and you can climb the dunes. Fair warning: do not climb the dunes when it's like 85 outside because the sand will burn your feet. We got there a little after the park opened and it was already sweltering, but we climbed the dunes (it doesn't look like it's a bad climb, but its pretty much straight up) and cheered when we got to the top. The views are incredible. From one side you overlook Lake Michigan and honestly it's something that you have to experience in person. It's not something someone can just describe to you. Luckily when we got to the top there was a nice breeze,but we were already rather sweaty by that point. Not to mention my legs were on fire after a running 3 miles and biking 7 that morning. Not the brightest move on my part. Climbing down is much easier than climbing up, but you do have to be careful so you don't trip and fall. We saw a few people go tumbling and eat some sand.

Saturday morning I ran in an annual road race in town. It's a small town and there's never many people who run it but it's still fun to do. I biked earlier in the morning so my legs were warmed up. The race got started late, so it was already in the mid 80's when we finally got going ->aka I was absolutly dying of heat. The only shade on the entire course was right at the end, which is where the picture was taken. I was really happy with my first mile, but by mile marker 2 my hip flexor started really hurting. I cut way back and ended up pacing with an older gentleman for the remainder of the race. He was in pain too but we kept cheering each other on and when we crossed the finish line together we high-fived. 

After finishing the race and drowning myself in cold water I spent the rest of the day by the lake with Cora. She loves being Up North as us Michigan folks call it. There's so many smells and animals to chase that she'd be outside all day if we let her. 

I stayed over the weekend to enjoy some lake and family time before heading home. It's a decent drive home so I made sure to get a run and ride in before hitting the road. I also got in a good breakfast because no one wants to be hangry behind the wheel ->a good way to start some road rage. I love these Bob's Red Mill oatmeal cups (I'm not paid to say that) because they're so easy to travel with. All you do is add hot water and let it sit for a few minutes and BAM done! I added berries, some EnjoyLife chocolate chips and part of a protein bar. After breakfast I hit the road and made it back in time to enjoy dinner with some friends. While it wasn't the most exciting vacation it was nice to get away and spend some time with my parents. 

Have you gone anywhere this summer? 
What's your favorite place to go on vacation?

Monday, August 15, 2016

Blueberry Zucchini Muffins (Allergy Friendly & Vegan)

Happy Monday! This past week has been a crazy with getting back from a short vacation, hanging out with friends and trying to get a million things done, but it's also been one of the best weeks I've had in a long time. I've laughed more than I have in a long time and at times I thought my heart might burst from happiness. 

Anyway I'll stop rambling right now. Let's talk muffins. You guys have been loving the flourless chocolate peanut butter muffins and seeing people make and enjoy them has made me so happy! Do you remember when I said I had a GIANT zucchini that I needed to use? I was feeling inspired to make some zucchini muffins after seeing so many awesome recipes by fellow bloggers. After some tweaking I'm happy to say these muffins are delicious! They're small so they're perfect for a snack, the macros are AWESOME and you can't even taste the zucchini <- picky eaters will be happy plus you sneak some veggies in ;) 

Blueberry Zucchini Muffins
  • heaping 1/2 cup GF oats 
  • 3/4 cup shredded zucchini, squeeze water out with paper towel
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (more or less to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 2 tablespoons protein powder of choice (OPTIONAL)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 350F degrees and line 6 muffin tins or spray with nonstick cook spray.

Combine all ingredients except blueberry in a medium sized mixing bowl. The batter should be thick, but not dry. If the batter is too dry add extra almond milk in 1 tablespoon at a time until the batter is thinned out.

When the batter is formed gently fold blueberries into batter.

Fill muffin tins roughly 2/3 full, you should be able to get 5-6 muffins.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Allow muffins to cool completely before removing from tins. Store in fridge or freeze for later use.

If you make these muffins take a picture, tag me on instagram, and use the hashtag #thesimplelife I'd love to see your creations! Don't forget to like my new Facebook page

Nutrition per muffin (based on 5 muffins):
Nutrition Facts
Servings 5.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 47
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1 g2 %
Saturated Fat 0 g1 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg0 %
Sodium 39 mg2 %
Potassium 35 mg1 %
Total Carbohydrate 7 g2 %
Dietary Fiber 1 g4 %
Sugars 0 g
Protein 3 g6 %
Vitamin A1 %
Vitamin C0 %
Calcium7 %
Iron4 %

Friday, August 12, 2016

Tempt Hemp Yogurt Review

Can I get a hip hip hooray because it's Friday!?! But seriously it's finally Friday and the weekend is so close I can almost taste it. I'm pumped because I have a lot of fun things going on this weekend and I can't wait to get to it all. 

Anyway, today I'm super pumped to share a product review with you. This is in NO way sponsored. I found this product on my own at a health food store and wanted to share it with you because I think it's really great. 

I came across Tempt hemp yogurt last week while shopping a health food store and had to try it. It's gluten, dairy, nut, and soy free and it's vegan. I've tried a LOT of dairy free yogurts over the past few months, everything from soy to coconut yogurt, but none of them had any protein. They are all largely carbs with a little fat so I never felt the need to waste macros on them. Needless to say when I cam across this yogurt I was intrigued because it has 10 grams of protein. 

For the plain flavor one container is 130 calories 14g carbs, 4g fat, 10g protein. The macros aren't bad at all and the ingredients (there's only a few of them) are all non GMO so you don't have to worry about ingesting harmful chemicals. 

The taste and texture of the yogurt was different from anything I've had before. It's thick like regular greek yogurt, but it's has a unique flavor to it from the hemp seeds. The flavor is hard to describe until you try it, but it's not bad at all. If you're used to having coconut yogurt this will definitely be a change for you because it's so much thicker. I added a little sprinkle of stevia to the plain flavor to sweeten it up a little and some raspberries, but overall I really liked it. It did come in three other flavors- strawberry, raspberry and blueberry, but I only tried the original. It reminded me of eating greek yogurt during the good old days before I became sensitive to milk. 

So, the one downside to Tempt's dairy free yogurt is the price. I've only ever seen it at this health food market, but it was $2.59 for a single serving container. I consider that to be way pricey given it's only one serving, so I would only get it as a special treat once in a while (still living on the college budget, or lack thereof).

Overall, the yogurt was really tasty and the macros are great for dairy free yogurt. I've yet to find another plant based yogurt with this much protein. I'd definitely recommend trying it!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Zucchini Recipe Round Up

Summer is upon us and that means lots of fresh vegetables. Every year one of my friends grows her own organic garden that she lets me come over and raid. I love spending time in her garden because it's beautiful, but there's something about being out in nature admiring creation that just makes me happy. 

One of the veggies my friend grows every year is zucchini. She does not grow regular zucchini she grows GIANT zucchini, I'm really not kidding it's the biggest zucchini I've ever seen- it's half the size of my leg. Everyone always thinks that because it's huge it's going to be tough and super seedy, but that's not the case at all. This year my friend gave me another giant zucchini and I had no clue what to do with it. Don't get me wrong I love zucchini, but I can only eat so much grilled zucchini. I went to my awesome blogger friends who gave me a ton of delicious suggestions, so I rounded them up to share. 

Vegan Chocolate Baked Zoats
 by Southern In Law

Gluten Free Blueberry Zucchini Waffles by The Fit Foodie Mama

Zucchini Bread Breakfast Pizza (Paleo + Vegan Friendly) by Athletic Avocado

Chocolate Zucchini Pancakes with Blueberries by Strength & Sunshine

Paleo Zucchini Breakfast Cookies by Joy.Food.Sunshine

Zucchini Walnut Muffins (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, & Refined Sugar Free) by My Pink & Green Life

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins by Sprint 2 the Table

One Bowl Healthy Zucchini Muffins by Southern In Law

Zucchini Bread Bites (Vegan +Gluten Free + Sugar Free) by Healthy Helper

Paleo Zucchini Banana Muffins by Joy.Food.Sunshine

Caprese Zoodle Salad by Hungry by Nature

Southwest Mac & Cheese Stuffed Zucchini (Vegan + Gluten Free) by Athletic Avocado

Healthy Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Pasta (Vegan/Whole30) by Eat The Gains

Lentil and Quinoa Meatball Bolognese and Zucchini Noodles by Strength & Sunshine

Simple Avocado, Lemon + Dill Zoodles by My Healthyish Life

Turkey Meatballs (gluten free, grain free, dairy free) with Greek Yogurt Tzatziki (gluten free) by Miss Allie's Kitchen

No Cook Zucchini Noodles with Quick Italian Dressing
 by My Uncommon Everyday

Mediterranean Zoodles, Chicken & Cauliflower Mash by Well And The City

Quick Pickled Zucchini Ribbons by Food, Pleasure & Health

Vegan Zucchini Lasagna with Tofu Ricotta by Emilie Eats  

Zoodles with Turkey Mushroom Meat Sauce by Live Lean Eat Green

Fresh and Simple Sausage Bruschetta Zoodles by Burpees For Breakfast

Almond Cacao Zucchini Bread by Balanced-Life Leslie  

Paleo Dark Chocolate Fudge Zucchini Brownies (GF + Vegan option) by Athletic Avocado

Gluten Free Vanilla Zucchini Cake
 by Healthy Helper

Baked Zucchini Chips with Lemon Yogurt Sauce by Hungry by Nature

What are your favorite ways to use zucchini?