Feeling 22

Wow, where does the time go? I hate saying it because it’s such a cliche, but I can’t believe it’s August. Mostly because that means my birthday has come and gone…and I guess it’s time to talk about it!

The last four days of my birthday week were the best four days I’ve had in awhile. My family drove 10+ hours each way from Colorado to spend 5 days with me and I had so much fun. I honestly would not have wanted to spend my birthday any other way. And yes, I am feeling 22 😉

I don’t want to bore you with long descriptions of what went down (and believe me, I could go on and on) but I’ll just share some highlights of each day through pictures.

Thursday

My last day of work before an extended  (4 day) weekend. I spent the afternoon running errands, treating myself to an amazing green smoothie and getting my place ready for the fam. Once they got here, we went out to eat at Freebirds, a Chipotle-like place.

This stuff is worth the $7 price tag -- local and DELICIOUS.

This stuff is worth the $7 price tag — local and DELICIOUS.

 

Friday

Running some errands in the morning, pool time and then getting ready for the main event: Center of the Universe. I was SO excited for this alt rock music festival. It was freakin’ hot but Fitz and the Tantrums were incredible, 21 Pilots was also pretty cool (AWOLNATION was there too but we left during their set) and the falafel I got for dinner was amazing.

Getting ready for Fitz with my sissy.

Getting ready for Fitz with my sissy.

High-tech wristbands.

High-tech wristbands.

Watching local act Fiawna Forte from afar.

Watching local act Fiawna Forte from afar.

"Street" falafel, cucumber salad, spicy mango sauce, hummus and cabbage slaw for dinner in the hot hot sun.

“Street” falafel, cucumber salad, spicy mango sauce, hummus and cabbage slaw for dinner in the hot hot sun.

Right next to the famous Cain's ballroom.

Right next to the famous Cain’s ballroom.

The main attraction: Fitz and the Tantrums! So amazing live :)

The main attraction: Fitz and the Tantrums! So amazing live 🙂

 

Saturday

Pool time was a big theme for the day, as well as buying some fun apartment decorations for me. We did some tourist-y sightseeing around town at some landmarks. Dinner was at a taco place downtown — I got some tasty fried avocado tacos with black beans and these delicious roasted sweet potatoes. And then some Netflix and games at my apartment with the fam.

Pretty flowers on a tree.

Pretty flowers on a tree.

Largest praying hands in the world on the campus of ORU.

Largest praying hands in the world on the campus of ORU.

The Golden Driller.

The Golden Driller.

The real Center of the Universe, for which the music festival was named. It's a spot in the middle of a bridge where your voice echoes in a really cool way.

The real Center of the Universe, for which the music festival was named. It’s a spot in the middle of a bridge where your voice echoes in a really cool way.

Sunday

The big day! I really wanted to go for a hike, so we hit Turkey Mountain in the morning for a quick hike with some great views of the city. More pool time since it was so hot and then getting ready for dinner at Laffa, a cool Mediterranean place downtown. I finally got the sweet potato fries I’ve been craving for months! And for the birthday dessert, we stopped at Whole Foods (of course) and then celebrated back home with a few presents (think owl-themed stuff mostly) and games…and more pool time.  

Awww, love this sign.

Awww, love this sign.

Love this view.

Love this view.

My "I need to go hiking more" face.

My “I need to go hiking more” face.

Getting ready for the big birthday dinner.

Getting ready for the big birthday dinner.

Sister selfie.

Sister selfie.

This was called "Forbidden Fruit" and it was incredible. It tasted like fruit punch but it wasn't artificial at all and had some kind of hibiscus-infused vodka in it.

This was called “Forbidden Fruit” and it was incredible. It tasted like fruit punch but it wasn’t artificial at all and had some kind of hibiscus-infused vodka in it.

My dinner spread. Laffa flatbread (which I LOVED, even though it wasn't GF), harissa carrots, cabbage slaw, red pepper hummus and TONS of unpictured sweet potato fries stolen from my dad.

My dinner spread. Laffa flatbread (which I LOVED, even though it wasn’t GF), harissa carrots, cabbage slaw, red pepper hummus and TONS of unpictured sweet potato fries stolen from my dad.

Feeling 22!

Feeling 22!

These candles were too cute to throw away!

These candles were too cute to throw away!

Monday

I was dreading this day because it was the last full day my family was here. But it was a blast! We went to the zoo and literally spent 4 or 5 hours wandering around checking out all the animals and exhibits. It was basically the biggest zoo I’ve ever been to! I got to see tons of my favorite animal — flamingos! And then it was off to a sushi place for dinner (I found a new go-to). 

Really colorful fish.

Really colorful fish.

Polka dotted lizard.

Polka dotted lizard.

My favorite <3

My favorite ❤

This giraffe totally devoured those trees.

This giraffe totally devoured those trees.

My kind of place.

My kind of place.

What’s your favorite zoo animal? What do you like doing for your birthday? 

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?

Perfectly Imperfect

This weekend was one of those weekends that I never wanted to end. Don’t get me wrong–it wasn’t the perfect weekend in every way. But perfection is boring! My weekend was perfectly imperfect, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • I finally got my hair re-done.

It was time for a change and I’m so glad I made one. I got about 5-6 inches off the length (big for me since my hair’s been this long since 9th grade!) and got it colored darker. I’m in love with the results though–but of course, hair is never as amazing as it is right after getting it done.

I'm a brunette again!

I’m a brunette again!

I was a little worried when I went out with my mom later on Friday on a few errands because it was raining & snowing and I didn’t want my new hair getting ruined. Fortunately, it stayed pretty dry and I was able to score a new bikini from Target thanks to my lovely mom. Trying on swimsuits is still an anxiety-provoking thing for me but I was able to get over my body hang-ups and find a cute suit that I love!

View from my room on Friday afternoon. Looks more like December than March!

View from my room on Friday afternoon. Looks more like December than March!

I can't wait to wear this...hopefully soon!

I can’t wait to wear this…hopefully soon!

  • I went hiking with my parents. 

After crappy weather on Friday and some cold (in the 40s) sunshine on Saturday, I was more than ready for some springlike weather like we had on Thursday. Sunday delivered on that, so my parents and I laced up our hiking boots (okay, I just wore some tennis shoes) and hit the trails at a state park in the foothills on the south side of town. The weather was perfect–in the 70s with gorgeous blue skies. I was excited to fit in some exercise out in the fresh air. Everything was great…until we ran into some mud on the trails. And by mud, I mean several inches of sloppy, gooey fresh mud. Not so ideal, especially with the shoes I was wearing but with a little help from my dad, I was able to survive the muddy trails. You never know what’s going to happen when you’re hiking, and that’s what I love. Sure, it wasn’t quite the perfect conditions but we made the best of it and now we have a great story to tell 😉

I was finally reunited with the Whole Foods salad bar!

I was finally reunited with the Whole Foods salad bar for an almost-perfect picnic lunch.

Isn't this view just gorgeous? I'm so lucky to be able to call Colorado my home (for now)!

Isn’t this view just gorgeous? I’m so lucky to be able to call Colorado my home (for now)!

A photobombed selfie on the trail.

A photobombed selfie on the trail. I love my mom!

  • I got my grocery shopping done for the week. 

I’m being serious when I say that grocery shopping is one of my highlights of the week. I love browsing the aisles for new products and being able to pick out my produce and other food for the week. I get a little upset, though, when I have to push back my grocery trip because of my mom or dad’s schedule. Mostly because I go through my groceries by the time the weekend rolls around, and being low on my favorite foods is a little annoying. But I’m learning to be patient, and just to appreciate the fact that right now, my parents are paying for my (slightly expensive) groceries.

My dad and I didn’t get to the store until 5 pm on Sunday because of our hiking escapades earlier in the day, but I really enjoyed the time I spent with him at Sprouts and Whole Foods. We ran into my internship supervisor from last summer–he’s always been so nice and funny and supportive, so we talked a little about my possible upcoming job. My dad and I share a love for fruit, so we went a little crazy in the Sprouts produce area. At Whole Foods, I wasn’t able to buy everything I had on my list (no spinach, boo!) because things weren’t stocked or they were a bit too expensive but I’m just so grateful that my dad spent the time and money to take me to my favorite store. And now I’m all stocked up for the week and ready to try out some new recipes!

Homemade grain free pizza with homemade kale pesto made from the remnants of my last grocery haul.

Homemade grain free pizza with homemade kale pesto made from the remnants of my last grocery haul.

So yeah, my weekend wasn’t perfect. My nail polish chipped right after I painted them, I had some anxieties over my workouts, I ate too many Larabars (I’ve had 1 per day since Thursday even though I meant to save them…oops!), I was disappointed by this week’s SNL, I didn’t drink enough water, I got a not-so-great voice mail from my doctor’s office and I struggled with some lingering cold symptoms. But you know what? My weekend was perfectly imperfect. I enjoyed plenty of family time, I ate some amazing pizza (of the homemade, grain free variety), I helped my sister with a baking project, I slept in and stayed up late and I just lived. Not every weekend or every day will be perfect, but it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes, the imperfect days are the best!

What were some highlights of your weekend?

 

Take Me Back

Thank you, so much, for the responses to my last post! I’ve had some honest and heartfelt posts in the past, mainly about my ED, but this post was hard for me to write because it brought up so many memories and feelings about the house I left a year ago, and that may never be the same again. Natural disasters are sadly something that everyone can relate to, but it’s great when communities can come together and rebuild. The best part of this is that the fire is now 55% contained as of Saturday night, and so many homes have been spared, as well as the lives of some animals caught in the fire who were saved by the incredible firefighters.

Today I want to talk about something more fun…namely, the mini-vacation I took last week! I call it a mini-vacation because it was just a trip into the mountains (about a 2 1/2 hour drive) and we were there for only 4 days, but it was a nice escape from real life for a few days and it kinda prepared me for our longer trip to visit the grandparents in August. I’m excited for that vacation, but also nervous. It’s the first time we’ve gone back since I’ve been vegan, and since my grandparents all live in Wisconsin, it’s definitely not the most veg-friendly environment. My mom’s being really accommodating with the trip and is promising a trip to Whole Foods (and possibly my first trip to a Trader Joes!) once we land so I’m hoping I can find plenty of vegan options and not stress out too much about eating and exercise.

Anyways, onto the vacation pics! I’m going to go wordless style on this and take you through the highlights of the trip in order. And…go!

Selfie on the way to Estes Park. Don't worry, I wasn't driving!

Selfie on the way to Estes Park. Don’t worry, I wasn’t driving!

Finally in Estes.

Finally in Estes.

Elk right outside our car! They're pretty normal around those parts.

Elk right outside our car! They’re pretty normal around those parts.

 

View of the mountains from the condo.

View of the mountains from the condo.

 

Excited to go to dinner and a movie (we saw The Internship).

Excited to go to dinner and a movie (we saw The Internship).

Late night Starbies after the movie.

Late night Starbies after the movie.

 

Poooool.

Poooool.

 

I got a little burned...

I got a little burned…

Winery with the parentals. Only a month and 10 days before I can partake ;)

Winery with the parentals. Only a month and 10 days before I can partake 😉

It's not everyday you see llamas on your way to dinner.

It’s not everyday you see llamas on your way to dinner.

Cute swing by Fall River.

Cute swing by Fall River.

View of the condos from below.

View of the condos from below.

Chillin' by Fall River.

Chillin’ by Fall River.

On Fern Lake Trail.

On Fern Lake Trail.

Big rocky cliffs on the Fern Lake trail.

Big rocky cliffs on the Fern Lake trail.

Seestas on the trail.

Seestas on the trail.

 

 

 

Big Thompson river.

Big Thompson river.

Snow on Trail Ridge Road...in June!

Snow on Trail Ridge Road…in June!

Um...wow!

Um…wow!

 

 

Beaver at Trail Ridge Road visitor center...not real!

Beaver at Trail Ridge Road visitor center…not real!

Awkward wolves at a gift shop in town. It's been a running joke in our family for a few years.

Awkward wolves at a gift shop in town. It’s been a running joke in our family for a few years.

Baja blackened tacos at Native FOods in Boulder on our way back home. New favorite vegan restaurant!

Baja blackened tacos at Native Foods in Boulder on our way back home. New favorite vegan restaurant!

Gluten free PB parfait at Native Foods. I was stuffed after eating half of this, and one taco!

Gluten free PB parfait at Native Foods. I was stuffed after eating half of this, and one taco!

 

Besides all that, we packed even more into 4 days, like tennis, bumper boats and mini golf, window shopping in town and making fun of  the local TV station’s funny commercials. My family’s been going to Estes Park every summer since I was 9 or 10 and I love it every time! Even though I might not be living with them next summer, I hope I can still go back…I miss Estes already!

Do you go on vacations to new destinations or old favorites? Any tips for veg-friendly long distance plane and car travel?

Food & Fitness Goals for the Summer

I’m usually not one to make goals, at least not out loud or in writing. Sure, I have goals in mind for my future, but I don’t generally come up with short-term goals because I know that if I’m not successful in keeping them, it’ll just disappoint me. But I figure I might as well have a few fun goals in mind over the summer, and I won’t sweat it if I don’t keep them all.

Fitness

Go on at least one hike over the summer.

Play tennis with my dad/sister at least twice a month. I’ve already played once with my dad since I’ve been home and with the weather so warm, I hope we can keep playing regularly. It might get harder once it gets into the 90s, but we’ll endure the heat as long as possible.

Get back into my yoga practice.

My pretty purple yoga mat needs more lovin'.

My pretty purple yoga mat needs more lovin’.

Take at least one rest day per week. I can’t lie, it’s been mentally stressful convincing myself that it’s okay and actually healthy to take a rest day every week. But as I’m getting busier, I know it’ll be a lot less strenuous trying to squeeze in workouts on my internship days or days that I’m not feeling 100%.

Take walks around the neighborhood more often.

Switch up my lifting routine and try new things.

 

Food

Have at least one raw meal per day. Raw foods have a TON of benefits, like being alkaline-forming and retaining more nutrients than cooked food, and I already have a love for raw, whole foods. Disclaimer: I’m not saying I’m going 100% raw or even high raw (I would love to try a high raw diet at some point) but I think raw foods have a place in everyone’s diet. I want to do a lot of experimenting with raw meals and raw desserts and see what works best for me and my body. And with it being summer, it’s the perfect time to do a little less cooking!

I like raw restaurant meals, but I want to make them for myself too.

I like raw restaurant meals, but I want to make them for myself too.

Make more of the recipes I’ve bookmarked. 

Work towards more intuitive eating. I’ve gotta say, I feel a lot better now that I haven’t been counting calories or macros since the beginning of the year. However, I still stress out a lot when it comes to eating, and I want to work on my relationship with food. I know a lot of girls have seen success with intuitive eating in overcoming their eating issues and I want to see if it can really help me figure out my own issues. I know intuitive eating can have a bad rap for being just another way to restrict, but I really feel that it can be helpful in balancing a healthy diet with a less strict attitude around food.

Stay on top of weekly food prep.

Go to Native Foods or another local vegan/vegan-friendly restaurant. Colorado is fairly vegan-friendly, with an abundance of health food stores state-wide (Whole Foods, Sprouts, Natural Grocers, possibly Trader Joes soon?) and veg restaurants in many of the larger cities but my hometown doesn’t have many (if any) exclusively veg places to eat. There are plenty of places with lots of vegan options, but when I really want something other than veggie burgers and salads, I know I’ll have to make a trip to Boulder or Denver to get my fix of more creative, healthy vegan food.

Do you like to make goals? What are some of your plans this summer, food and fitness wise?

 

Almost Wordless Vacation Recap

So I haven’t been on the computer in a week, and it honestly felt so freeing to just forgo technology (well, besides my phone and iPod) and just enjoy a few days of fun with my family. I also had an extra day away because I had to go up to my college town for some job training for my weather anchor position at the school’s TV station. I’m actually starting to get pumped up for school to start in just a week–well, maybe not school but having my own apartment and being on TV.

Anyways, here’s my mostly wordless vacation recap of my trip to Estes Park, CO with some words at the end about my intuitive eating/exercise experiment!

The cheese-free individual-size hummus pizza at Poppy’s…I devoured it all!

The view of Fall River from the condo.

Tanning by the pool.

Noodles in the deep end of the pool.

A mini Stanley Steamer model (steam-powered car) in the EP Museum.

Spicy sweet and sour tofu & veggies at Thai Kitchen…super spicy, but so good!

Sissy time!

The view from our hike around Lily Lake.

Tall iced soy skinny mocha enjoyed by the Big Thompson River.

Some awesomely bright flowers!

First time trying the Coconut Bliss brand of coconut milk ice cream–verdict = so good, even for the insanely high price ($6/pint). I had some chocolate hazelnut ‘ice cream’ topped with fresh raspberries.

The coolest owl cookie jar!

This really cool, super-vintage looking church just outside EP. It was even cooler inside!

The Big Thompson river.

First time trying vegan sushi! I had the sweet potato rolls filled with Japanese sweet potato, avocado and cucumber. And I loved the pickled ginger on the side.

Me and my sister down by the river.

I think I honestly kicked some serious ass on my self-imposed intuitive eating and exercise challenge. I didn’t record any of my meals or exercise in the calorie counting app I have since last Tuesday and I didn’t freak out (too much) about my macro balance. I feel like I ate more than I usually do, which I know is still probably not enough, but it was definitely a start. I feel like my meals out were pretty balanced–the first night, I had a small vegan pizza covered in veggies; the second night I had a Sunshine veggie burger (without the bun) topped with fresh guacamole; the third night I had sweet and sour tofu and veggies with a little brown rice on the side; and the last night I had a strawberry, spinach and walnut salad with balsamic and some vegan sushi. I honestly loved all the dinners that I had and didn’t have too much of a problem finding something healthy and vegan at the restaurants we went to. I challenged myself to try the Coconut Bliss brand of coconut milk ice cream despite it being higher in calories and saturated fat than my tried-and-true brand. I skipped my usual cardio circuits but was not a couch potato–I played tennis with my dad for an hour one day, walked around town a lot, went on a hike and did some swimming in the condo’s pool. I felt a little more comfortable in my skin than I usually do at home, despite wearing just a swimsuit a lot of the time. I tried a lot of new-to-me things, had some old favorites (veggie straws, baby carrots and PB Puffins, say what?!) and didn’t try to think too much about the food. Overall, the 5 days I spent intuitively eating were some of the best days I’ve had in awhile, and I want to try to keep eating the same way. Now that I’m home, I have more access to veggies, protein, etc. but that doesn’t mean I can’t keep eating more adequately and enjoying my food. And while I’m excited to go back to my regular exercise, I realize that a few days with less intense workouts won’t kill me. So I’m going to try to live every day like I did on my vacation–without the pool time, of course 😉

Do you eat intuitively or plan out your meals? Have you ever had vegan or vegetarian sushi?