My Health Hero

Who inspires you in your own health journey?

Recently, I was contacted by the American Recall Center to do a post about my health hero. I thought it was an interesting idea. I think we’re all inspired by someone (or even by ourselves) to be the healthiest person we can be and those ‘health heroes’ deserve a little recognition every now and then!

My health hero is my dad. He grew up in a household that wasn’t very athletic, and as a result, he never really got into sports. Despite that, he always emphasized the importance of staying active throughout my childhood.

He was the one who taught me how to ride a bike. He was the one who would walk with me and my sister to the park and push us on the tire swing. He cheered us on at our dance recitals and soccer competitions. After I participated in a tennis summer camp, he bought his own tennis racquet so he could play with me…and he’s become my unofficial tennis partner over the years. He’s gone on bike rides with me, leads the way on family hikes in the mountains and likes to go for walks around the neighborhood.

My dad LOVES to hike!

My dad LOVES to hike!

Even though he works at a desk job all week, he tries to stay active on the weekends, and I’m so happy that I’ve been an influence in getting him to do that.

I’m also so proud that he’s started to make healthier choices with his eating habits. He grew up in Wisconsin, aka land of cheese and beer, and he hasn’t always been the healthiest eater. But over the past year or so, he’s cut out most processed foods and even though he’s nowhere near vegan or vegetarian (someday ;) ), he eats mostly fresh fruits and veggies, lean meat and nuts. He loves cookies, but now he only eats ones made with real ingredients from Whole Foods. I love cooking with him, and trying out new veggies–he introduced me to brussels sprouts and parsnips! He’s also very supportive of my plant-based lifestyle and loves eating at vegan restaurants with me.

My dad introduced me to brussels sprouts in 2011 and I've loved them ever since.

My dad introduced me to brussels sprouts in 2011 and I’ve loved them ever since.

Who is your health hero? Why do they inspire you?

Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way for this post! 

Spring/Summer Survey

When this post is published, it’s officially my 7th day in a row of working. Yikes! As this is my first real job, I’ve only worked the traditional 5 day work week, and sometimes that’s exhausting enough. My schedule is being shifted around as the station plans to hire more people, so for now, I’m having to fill in the holes sometimes. Luckily, my ‘weekend’ starts tonight when I get off work at 10:30 and after that, I go back to a more regular 5 day work week. Phew! 

After a week of mostly working, workouts at my apartment’s fitness center and trying to get as much sleep as I can, I think a survey post is necessary! I found this one over on Kaila’s blog, and as a spring/summer lover, I just knew I had to fill it out.

Smoothies vs. juices?

Smoothies! I don’t have a juicer so I can’t make them at home, and the only fresh juices I like are the ones made by Suja…and they’re expensive! Smoothies are easy for me to whip up in my own kitchen and I can include whatever I want in them.

Grilled veggies vs. salads?

Definitely salads. I love giant salads year round, but they’re even more refreshing in the warmer months. Grilled veggies are good too, but I usually only get them when I go out to eat, since I don’t have a grill.

Corn on the cob vs. sweet potato fries?

No question–sweet potato fries! I know they don’t seem seasonally appropriate, but I actually hate corn and never got the appeal of corn on the cob. Sweet potato fries, on the other hand? Pure deliciousness, especially the ones from Native Foods!

Raw sweet potato fries are also delish.

Raw sweet potato fries are also delish.

Burgers or dogs (veggie varieties included)?

I love a good veggie burger, especially homemade and fresh off the grill or stove. I love tossing them on some spinach and adding tons of toppings.

Baseball or soccer?

Baseball is such a summer sport to me, and it’s one of the few sports I actually enjoy watching…at least in real life! I miss going to Rockies games with my family and soaking up the sunshine while enjoying a good game.

Walking or biking?

I love walking, especially hiking, in the summer. Spending time out in nature, especially the mountains, is something I try to do as often as possible when it’s warm, and it’s something I’m going to miss about moving away from Colorado…no more mountain trails!

One of my favorite places in Colorado.

One of my favorite places in Colorado.

Beach or trails?

As much as I love hiking trails, I gotta go with the beach. I’m pretty sure I’m meant to be a California girl (I will be someday!) and I love the relaxing sound of the waves hitting the shore, the soft sand and the cool water.

Ice cream or fresh fruit?

Fresh fruit! I like vegan ice cream (especially the So Delicious no sugar added kind), but fruit is something I enjoy multiple times per day, especially in the summer.

I loooooove berries.

I loooooove berries.

Sun bathing or swimming?

I like soaking up the sun, but I prefer getting in the pool! Especially after laying out in the sun for a bit, and then cooling off with a few laps.

Tulips or daffodils?

I love tulips! Don’t know why, they just remind me of spring.

Farmers markets or garage sales?

Definitely farmers markets! I went to my first real one the other weekend, and I fell in love. It’s nice being able to buy local produce and flowers for a bargain price. I’m definitely planning on hitting up a market every week this summer.

Cherry Street farmers market.

Cherry Street farmers market.

Sneakers or sandals?

Sandals allllllllll the way. I honestly have way too many pairs of sandals but I’ll never have enough. Target, American Eagle and Hollister are my sandal go-to stores.

Flower garden or veggie garden?

As much as I think flowers are pretty and spring-like, I think veggie gardens are more useful. You can plant the veggies you like, and save a bunch of money, not to mention get to enjoy the fruits (and veggies!) of your labor! Last summer, my dad and I planted a bunch of veggies/herbs and we had success with parsley, Japanese eggplant, hot peppers and cilantro.

Ice cream or fruit? Sneakers or sandals? Beach or trails?

New in Review: Chai & Chocolate

I have a problem. A problem with starting too many post series that I never stick to. I did keep my College Vegan on a Budget series going for several months and obviously I can’t go back to it now as a post-grad. But several other series I had big plans for died an early death.

I’m hoping I can keep this one going for awhile. See, I like product review posts a lot. I read them when I spot a new product on the shelves and I’m wondering if it’s worth a purchase, or if I just bought something and want to see what other people think. Either way, I think they’re informative and fun, so I wanted to bring something like that to AlmostVegGirlie.

I’m calling this new series New in Review, and it will be my honest thoughts about products (not just food!) that I’ve recently tried. Everything I post will be products I bought myself, so no sponsored posts here. And I hope you find them to be interesting!

  • Quinn Kale & Sea Salt popcorn

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I spotted this at Whole Foods, and even though I eat grain free a lot of the time by default, I’ve been craving popcorn lately. Plus it’s gluten free and sounded interesting, so I bought it. When I opened the bag, I was surprised to see that the popcorn was green. Like spinach green. I love all things green, though, so it didn’t scare me away, though some picky people might be thrown off by it. But then, it is made with dried organic kale (and carrot), so it’s basically like salad ;) 

The ingredients list is stellar–non-gmo popcorn kernels (corn is a heavily GM product so non-gmo is important), sunflower oil (healthier than most veggie oils, though coconut oil is best), dried organic kale and carrot (seriously, veggies in popcorn is incredible), sea salt, onion powder and garlic powder. That’s it…just popcorn and spices and a little oil. The best part is how tasty this popcorn is. It’s got a slight veggie flavor but not overpowering, with the perfect amount of saltiness and tang from the spices. And it’s a little addicting, but in a good way, because one serving of popcorn (4 cups) is 150 calories.

Pros: organic/non-gmo, clean ingredients, good flavor

Cons: I wish there was more popcorn!

  • Maybelline Volum’ Express Mega Plush mascara

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I’ve been partial to Maybelline mascaras since I discovered their Illegal Length mascara. My lashes are fairly voluminous, so I’m mostly looking to add length and darkness. I like Maybelline’s mascaras because they last a long time (I use it daily) and are fairly inexpensive and available at regular stores like Target.

This mascara is gel mousse, so the texture is a bit different, but it doesn’t clump at all. It also has a flexible brush, which makes it easier to apply. I prefer washable mascaras so I haven’t tried the waterproof kind, but the washable one is easily removable with soap+water or makeup wipes but it doesn’t smudge either.

Pros: inexpensive ($7 ish for a tube), goes on smoothly, feels light

Cons: I wish it added length as well as volume

  • Fearless Chocolate

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This is officially my go-to chocolate brand now! So far, I’ve tried 4 flavors: Superfruit, Green Tea Mint, Exploding Coconuts, and Super Seeds Crunch. All of them are good, but the Exploding Coconuts is my favorite so far. It’s got great little chunks of coconut in it! Though I can’t wait to find their new coffee flavor–I love coffee+chocolate!

Fearless Chocolate has one of the simplest ingredients list of any chocolate brand. They’re soy free (no soy lecithin, which is hard to find in chocolate), gluten free, vegan and certified organic & fair trade. Best of all, they’re made with raw cacao instead of cocoa butter, making them purely chocolate, and organic cane sugar is the last ingredient, so the bars aren’t too sweet.

Pros: Basically everything I’m looking for in dark chocolate

Cons: I didn’t love the mint flavor as much as I thought I would, a little pricey

  •  Trader Joes Spiced Chai Tea

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I went to Trader Joes for the first time about a month ago, and while I’ve already finished off most of the things I’ve bought, I’ve still got plenty of pink sea salt and this chai tea left.

With the warm days we’ve been having lately, I decided to use these tea bags to make iced tea over the weekend. I cold-brewed them in a pitcher for 10 minutes or so, and then taste-tested. This tea has a great, complex spiced flavor but it isn’t too bold. It also pairs well mixed with a bit of stevia and some coconut-almond milk over ice.

Pros: budget friendly, good flavor

Cons: No TJs near me anymore so I can’t buy more  :(

  • Kevita Probiotic Drinks

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I still haven’t gotten on the kombucha train, but I loooooove Kevita! It’s a little fizzy, sweetened with stevia and comes in a bunch of tasty flavors (I’ve tried the lemon cayenne, strawberry acai coconut, mango coconut & mojita lime mint).

This stuff is about the same price as GT Kombucha (though generally cheaper at Sprouts and Whole Foods when on sale) and it boasts the same probiotic qualities. But there’s no weird aftertaste or floaties that come with some kombuchas. Plus it’s organic and made with reverse osmosis water. It’s almost like a light, refreshing soda but so much better for you and won’t make you all bloated like diet soda does.

My new favorite flavor is the lemon cayenne cleanse–it tastes like lemonade!

Pros: tasty, health benefits, lots of flavors

Cons: a bit expensive when not on sale

What new products have you tried lately? 

Working Girl

Don’t worry–I didn’t completely disappear on y’all (and yes, I can now use y’all because I’m living in Oklahoma)! It’s been a crazy busy few weeks, and I’m finally able to catch my breath long enough to share some of it.

I started my first job on Monday. This is actually my second paid job, but this is my first full time job, so it’s kind of a big deal. And…it’s actually in the field I’ve been pursuing since high school. How many recent college grads can say that about their first job? I’m incredibly thankful for this opportunity, and I’m making the very best of it.

Sneaky work selfie on my first day.

Sneaky work selfie on my first day.

I’ve also been living on my own, and while it’s not the first time I’ve done that, it’s the first time in a different state than my family, nearly 700 miles from the place I called home for 19 years of my life. I’m living in a bigger city, which is nice, and the climate is warmer but not too humid (which I appreciate coming from a dry climate) and everyone I’ve met so far is seriously so nice. It’s just a different culture down here, which is great, but a small part of me misses home. It’s hard to change your routine, but I know with time, I’ll get used to this.

Work hasn’t been too hard to get used to. I’m in a similar environment as I was in my internships for the past two summers, but I’m working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, and mostly working through lunch. It helps that my coworkers are friendly and funny, so right now I’m just trying not to be the awkward new girl and hopefully make some friends in the newsroom AND make my boss happy with my work.

Apparently I overdress for my position...but I'm dressing for the position I WANT to have someday!

Apparently I overdress for my position…but I’m dressing for the position I WANT to have someday!

I’m taking on a lot more adult responsibilities, though. My car’s been having an issue, so I’m trying to live with that until I can take it in and (hopefully) afford to get it fixed. I had to deal with an ant invasion in my apartment–gross, but not awful. I have to figure out health insurance at work, pay my bills AND pay my parents back for things they bought for me. As much as I want to buy all the things now that I have a paycheck, I know I can’t do that. So I’m going to try to avoid the Target/Forever 21/Whole Foods temptations as much as possible, even though I plan on frequenting these stores. I just have to stick with a budget, and keep fun purchases to a minimum and limit them to things I will actually get some use out of.

The WF salad bar here is even better than back home...and it's closer to my apartment and work!

The WF salad bar here is even better than back home…and it’s closer to my apartment and work!

Adult life isn’t always fun, but it sure beats being in school (even though I’m seriously considering enrolling in an online program to get my meteorology certificate). It takes a lot of planning, and a little bit of luck, but I think I can hack this new life of mine!

What’s been going on in your world lately? 

From Texas to Tulsa

Thursday is the big day. AKA I pack up my life in Colorado and move 600+ miles away to Tulsa, OK. I also start my first real girl job in less than a week, so all that adds up to one stressed chica. I’m just trying to take things one day and one box at a time and enjoy the time I have left as an unemployed Colorado girl ;)

But enough moving and life change talk, let’s talk about spring break instead. Specifically my spring break. I spent most of it in Houston, TX at my aunt and uncle’s house and then a couple days at their lake house a few hours away (along with a side trip to Tulsa the weekend before to find me an apartment and furniture). This was possibly my last family vacation ever and even though it wasn’t always perfect, I tried to soak up every minute (even our way-too-long 18 hour drive home on Saturday) of the trip.

car snacks

Prepping road trip snacks.

Lunch at Whole Foods after a morning of apartment hunting in Tulsa. This WFM was huge, had a great salad bar selection and is a 7 minute drive from my new place!

Lunch at Whole Foods after a morning of apartment hunting in Tulsa. This WFM was huge, had a great salad bar selection and is a 7 minute drive from my new place!

lizard

A cute li’l lizard I found (you can barely see it, but it’s in the middle, on the fence) when I was laying out by the pool.

I could get used to this #poollyfe

I could get used to this #poollyfe

Galveston day trip.

Galveston day trip.

I love my sissy!

I love my sissy!

They had the most colorful parrots at the Moody Gardens rainforest.

They had the most colorful parrots at the Moody Gardens rainforest.

I dressed up for a day that was mostly spent driving to the lake house.

I dressed up for a day that was mostly spent driving to the lake house.

Rain on the window.

Rain on the window.

Doesn't this look so real? It was actual a fake turtle in an exhibit at a national park visitor center.

Doesn’t this look so real? It was actually a fake turtle in an exhibit at a national park visitor center.

Easy and healthy road trip snacks in the car on the way back home. Grapes, carrots and one-ingredient PB.

Easy and healthy road trip snacks in the car on the way back home. Grapes, carrots and one-ingredient PB.

I didn't know the TX panhandle had so many mesas! I absolutely love desert-like terrain.

I didn’t know the TX panhandle had so many mesas! I absolutely love desert-like terrain.

I love vacations, but it feels great to be back in my own bed!

I love vacations, but it feels great to be back in my own bed!

This vacation really challenged me A LOT! I had to deal with 4 really long drives (CO to Tulsa, Tulsa to Houston, Houston to the lake house, the lake house to home) where I was eating on the road (either Chipotle salads or healthy road trip snacks like Larabars and kale chips and carrots) and not getting much movement (I HATE sitting for long periods of time), as well as eating meals at weird times (my aunt and uncle love eating dinner late, so every night we ate after 8:30 pm!) and sometimes skipping meals because I wasn’t hungry, and also not getting any real exercise other than some walking. There were times on the trip I was miserable, because the humidity was messing with my hair and skin and I felt downright ugly and fat. But honestly, it was a nice trip, even though it wasn’t necessarily very relaxing. And when I got home, I was surprised to notice that my body didn’t really change at all during a week of no formal exercise and mostly eating snacks and not a ton of veggies. Of course, it felt great to get back into my daily workout routine and eating normal meals/snacks at regular times but this vacation taught me that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Flexibility is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, a part I’ve been mostly neglecting. Yes, regular exercise and balanced eating are incredibly good for you, but eating at Chipotle twice in one week or taking a break from working out on vacation is normal sometimes, and there’s no reason to beat ourselves up about it. This is hopefully something I can carry into my new life, because there may not always be time for 2 workouts a day or homemade salads for lunch, but I can still be healthy, and that’s what matters.

Do you prefer road trips or flying? How do you fit flexibility into a healthy lifestyle? 

Getting Healthy: Part 2

The second in a series of posts about my health issues after eating disorder recovery. You can read the introductory post here

My doctor’s appointment and blood tests were over a month ago, and I finally received the results in the mail. I was anxiously awaiting them, hoping they’d be the key in helping me figure out why my body isn’t working the way it should.

I shouldn’t have put all my hope in the results, though. They came back completely clean, all within normal ranges. On the one hand, this made me happy, because who doesn’t want to have a healthy, functioning body? Everything I was tested for (which was a LOT, they took a lot of blood from me) checked out, including the thyroid test (TSH), which was one thing I was suspecting to be an issue.

Now I’m frustrated and confused. I got a voicemail a week or so ago from my doctor’s office saying I was referred to an endocrinologist. Of course, the timing isn’t great, since I’m moving out of state in two weeks. So if I want to figure this out (and of course I do), I have to find a new doctor once I move and possibly get tested again or get in to see an endocrinologist and have to explain my history. Also the fact that I may have to see an endocrinologist scares me, because that means it’s really a hormonal issue. It’s not something I can cover up anymore and pretend that it’s no big deal. This May will mark one full year without a period. I know some women recovering from an eating disorder go even longer without one, but the fact that I’ve never had one on my own is also a red flag.

I’m not sure where to go from here, and to be perfectly honest, figuring this out isn’t one of my top priorities at the moment. I’m a few weeks away from starting my first full time job, on top of moving to a new place and settling in there and finding a routine and figuring out everything on my own. I’m not planning on finding a doctor as soon as I get there, so this may be put on the back burner for a little while. I know that may not be the best thing for me, but it is what it is. Right now, I have to prioritize my new job and new life over my health.

Hopefully I can provide more updates in the next couple of months, but for now, I’m going to be focusing on moving and starting a job.

Have you ever prioritized something else over your health?

Throwback Thursday: My First Posts

Throwback Thursdays are still a thing, right? I love finding old pics and sharing them on Instagram. Sometimes embarrassing, sometimes cute, but always fun to look back on the past.

As of May 24, this little blog will be 3 years old! I’ve blogged at various other blogs since 2009 but none have been maintained as regularly as AlmostVegGirlie! I almost can’t believe it’s been that long since I decided to start my first food/lifestyle blog and it’s all thanks to you lovely readers and commenters for continuing to support me and my blogging. So thanks so much! And in honor of my 3 year blogiversary coming up in the next couple of months, I thought I’d do a little Throwback Thursday to some of my earliest posts. It’s seriously SO crazy to me how much my life has changed since I started this blog, but then again, how boring would life be if it were always the same? I know a lot of people fear change, but I’ve made the choice to embrace it as much as possible. It’s just such an inevitable part of life, and it makes things interesting.

My first photo on AlmostVegGirlie. Possibly an iPod touch photo...oh how times have changed!

My first photo on AlmostVegGirlie. Possibly an iPod touch photo…oh how times have changed!

I think the WIAW party was just starting to catch on when I started blogging–it’s come so far since then! I participated in my first WIAW 2 days after I started blogging and it looks a lot different than my more recent WIAWs. For a little background, I named my blog AlmostVegGirlie because at the time, I was mostly vegetarian, but still eating some poultry/seafood. My first WIAW featured not only some very non-vegan food (Greek yogurt, ground turkey tacos) but some not so great photos either. You live and you learn! But in true HLB fashion, I did enjoy green smoothies and Ezekiel wraps.

I used to eat overnight oats daily!

I used to eat overnight oats daily!

Once I got into the blogging groove, I also discovered some HLB trends. Overnight oats was a big one. I was never an oatmeal fan, but overnight oats I could get behind! I started soaking oats in almond milk every night and dressing them up every morning with all kinds of crazy toppings. At one point, I dedicated an entire blog page to my overnight oat creations! I don’t think I’ve touched overnight oats since 2012–I got seriously burned out, and I moved on to more nutrient-packed breakfasts. Sometimes, you gotta get away from the trends.

My first selfie on AVG...certainly not the last!

My first selfie on AVG…certainly not the last!

I actually created my Instagram account way back in 2011 with my iPod touch (which I still use on a daily basis 3+ years later) but back then, I knew practically no one in the blogging world or on Insta so my account was private and I used it just to be artistic with my photos. I feel cool (in a nerdy way) that I was an early adopter of the app. According to this site, I was in the first 1.45% of Instagram users! I’m still a little obsessed with Instagram–I browse it at least once per day and I upload my own photos a few times per week. It’s such a great social media tool! And if you follow me, you’ll know that the selfie reigns supreme ;)

My first experience with the Whole Foods salad bar...and I've been addicted ever since!

My first experience with the Whole Foods salad bar…and I’ve been addicted ever since!

Blogging introduced me to the wonderful world of Whole Foods, which is both a blessing and a curse. My family shopped at Whole Foods every so often for specialty products, but it wasn’t until I discovered HLBs love for the store that I started going there regularly. Now it’s my main go-to store and their salad bar is one of my favorite ‘restaurants’. Where else can you get a random selection of vegan-friendly food for under $10? I know the salad bar isn’t exactly cheap, but for me, it often beats a meal out because they have so many more plant based options than a regular restaurant. And trust me, I have many more photos documenting my love for the WF salad bar!

An unconventional 19th birthday present--my first homegrown strawberry.

An unconventional 19th birthday present–my first homegrown strawberry.

Let’s pretend I don’t look like I’m about 12 in that picture! That was actually taken on my 19th birthday…what a youngin’! I remember being excited then because I was about a month away from living in a single dorm room for my sophomore year–no more roommates for this girl. And here I am now, a college graduate, about to really live on my own, 600 miles from my family (more on that later!).

Looking all professional for my second round of Skype interviews.

Looking all professional for my second round of Skype interviews.

It still blows my mind how much things can change in 3 years…or even in just 3 months! I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared at all about the future, but at the same time, I am so ready to start my new life. I really feel like an adult, and even though I know I’ll make mistakes and probably miss my old life, I’m excited for what’s to come!

What’s changed the most for you in the past few months or years?