Favorite Products Roundup: Food Edition

I’m a try-everything kind of person. I get excited about limited edition, don’t always stay true to one product/brand and enjoy having lots of choices. That said, I’ve tried a lot of things. These are some of my current favorites and tried and trues that i’ll stick by.

Protein Powder: I’m starting here because this is one I always have difficulty with. I seem to have trouble with most dairy so after trying many different powders (whey, isolates, hydrozlyed, rice, pea, vegan..), I was using vegan for a few months. It got really unpalatable after a while and I couldn’t drink it as a shake–it had to be mixed with a bunch of other things and eaten like a thick pudding. I decided to give whey another try and have fallen in love with PEScience. Number 1, no bloat and no other tummy issues. Number 2, it’s DELICIOUS. I went with Snickerdoodle and can’t wait to try all the other flavors (2nd Runner Up: Cellucor is tasty.//Don’t Like: Pea Protein and Dymatize)

Nut Butters: I am a nut butta lova and enthusiast. I want to try them all. Most delicious award goes to You Fresh Naturals. I have tried almost all of their flavors and every single one is spoon-out-of-the-jar addicting (2nd Runner Up: ..can’t pick one.)

Coconut Flour: Coconut flour is really difficult to bake with and in my experience, every brand works differently in recipes. My go-to is Trader Joes. Not only is it cheap (only like, $3 a bag) but it absorbs moisture really well and bakes up nicely (2nd Runner Up: Nutiva//Don’t Like: Coconut Secret)

Stevia: I’ve tried many stevia brands in attempt to have some sweetness without that bitter aftertaste. Stevia in the Raw is now my go-to. It’s a little more money than some of the other brands but it’s worth it. (2nd Runner up: Pure Via//Don’t Like: Monk Fruit in the Raw)

Oat Bran: Oat bran is weird. If you’ve ever compared boxes you’ll see serving sizes ranging from 3 tablespoons to half a cup. I’m a volume person so I always look for a bigger serving size but what’s most important with oat bran is the way it absorbs liquid. I find Trader Joes to have the best oat bran: it’s fluffy, cooks quickly and tastes delicious. (2nd Runner Up: ShopRite Brand)

Greek Yogurt: Fage. All the way. Creamy and delicious. I generally only buy non-fat plain greek yogurt but Fage wins with flavors too. (2nd Runner Up: Chobani//Don’t Like: Trader Joes)

Things I’ve Tried Lately/Buy Often:

Elli Quark–I have mixed feelings on this. The peach flavor was good but the others leave a funny aftertaste for me.

Seaweed Snacks (Trader Joes): I buy 10 of these at a time. A great snack/salad topper. Love them.

Sunbutter: I love love love Sunbutter. It’s sweet, creamy and drippy. A nut seed butter dream.

Scivation BCAAs in Blue Raspberry: Best BCAA’s I’ve had. I make summer slushies with it all the time.

Gelatin: I love adding gelatin to things. I’ve had Great Lakes which is really good and lately I’ve been using Bernard Jensen because I can get it at Vitamin Shoppe.

Bars: Quest Bars. Detour Simple Bars. Rx Bars. Everything else–not worth it.


Why I’m No Longer Afraid of Wearing Shorts to the Gym

Disney usually isn’t at the forefront of my mind when making references but for some reason, I got a vivid idea when coming up with this post.

In “The Little Mermaid,” all Ariel wants is some legs.She wants to be where the people are, she wants to walk on the street, she wants to dance. Ultimately, she gives up her voice to gain some legs. Not the choice I would make if I was a mermaid, but that’s ultimately another point: we all want what we cannot have but i’ll get to that later.

When Ariel thought about legs, she didn’t dream for “the perfect set of legs” she was just given some (and this is a movie, so she could have had anything..)

Most likely unknowingly, Disney wrote in some sage advice and a realistic story line. Ariel had to deal with what she got, as do the rest of us.

We don’t choose our body parts. If we did, I’m guessing a lot of us women would look a lot the same. We are gifted limbs that are a combination of our parents own–limbs that did them just fine, and will do the same for you.

I used to be afraid to wear shorts to the gym. My legs are big-I’m Quadzilla! My thighs rub together and are jiggly from when I was overweight. My shorts ride up and they dig in right in the worst spot. They might move, I might chafe, someone might think I was gross. The list goes on and on.

Then I realized, do I care when other people wear shorts to the gym? No. Actually, it’s the opposite. I admire them for not thinking the way I do and having the confidence to put on those short shorts and rock them.

So, I bought a pair of short shorts one day and wore them to the gym. I pulled a little, tugged a few times but mostly due to insecurity not because I had to. I left, hopped in my car, and went and bought three more pairs.

When I actually wore those shorts to the gym, I realized no one was looking. The only persons whose gaze was down at my thighs was my own. My legs? Well, they actually looked really strong when they were uncovered. And my butt? It was highlighted by the shortness in the back. My ability to move easier and feel cooler? 100% better.

Of course there are days when I am still nervous–insecurity doesn’t go away instantly. While my legs are strong, I sometimes wish they were leaner. That my quads didn’t pop so much, that my knees weren’t aligned kind of weird. But the days where I feel confident are slowly shifting to be the more likely scenario.  We all want what we can’t have, right? Things can of course be changed, but that isn’t instant either.

Rock what you have–build on your insecurity and make it confidence. Who cares if your arms jiggle in a tank top or your shorts ride up in the middle? First of all, remember that you aren’t alone. Even the people we look at as inspiration have cellulite or stretch marks. Secondly, the only person concerned is you and the only person that can change that? You.


An Institute Reflection

*I wrote and saved this as a draft a few days ago but it’s ready to be published now*

This morning is the start of TFA orientation. One of the first sessions we are engaging in is an Institute Reflection. I’ve spent a lot of time engaging in reflection about institute in the last week, as well as the last 5 when I was actively engaged in it. For me, the reflecting was how I processed my time there and how I implemented and changed things that needed to be done, as well as allowed myself the freedom of expression and confidence that I needed during my time there. Before heading off to institute, I heard a lot of horror stories. I wasn’t sure how it was going to be AT ALL. One person had said they cried every night, another retold the days of no-sleep, no free time and exhaustion beyond belief. Others mentioned the difficulties they had with the kids. No one ever said that institute was a positive experience or that they enjoyed their time there. Yes, some might of said it was fun but not in the tone of voice or sentence structure that made me truly believe it. I loved my time at institute. While five weeks was a long time to be away from everything, it went by in a snap and most of the time, it felt like five minutes instead. Institute was the first time in a long time that I actually felt like I knew who I was. I had my organization back on point, I felt confident in the progress I was making, in the work I was doing and felt like I had a purpose. There wasn’t any confusion as to what was going to happen next or what wasn’t happening. There wasn’t any fear. For someone that suffers from high anxiety and depression, I was confused when everyone around me was stressed out and I felt completely calm and collected. Those first few days before getting into the classroom and then the next few when we got students were certainly challenging but they weren’t anything that was so foreign or scary and certainly not things that I couldn’t work through. They more so challenged me to think more critically than I had in a while and put a TON of new information into practice. My mind was overloaded with thoughts and knowledge and information on teaching. I feel lucky that the only challenges I went through the whole time were during the last week and they were more so annoyances than real challenges. Despite this, learning how to work through them and with them gave me some insight as to what I might experience in the next few years with colleagues. As for the students, yes, sometimes they were difficult but everyday was a learning experience and I was able to grow as a teacher from the days where no one wanted to be on task and lesson plans got changed mid-way through. I don’t think I’ve ever done as much meaningful reflection as I did during my time away. I took the time every morning to write in my journal–reflecting not only on my experience and the general happenings but the changes I felt surging through me daily. From high school to college to now, I thought that I had become a completely new person but going through this experience allowed me to see the things that are most important to me as far as my personality, diligence and work ethic goes as long as my thoughts and opinions on things that I often spend too much time thinking about. I had been, and always will be, a leader but I am also willing to help in whatever way I can. I will  allow someone else to take the lead if that’s what they need but I can still demonstrate leadership in another way. I feel wrong for saying that I’m ready for this–like I’m being too confident. I am ready though. I’m certainly not perfect and I never will be. There is always more to learn, more to practice and more to review despite the amount of time spent working. There will always be a misbehavior that comes up that wasn’t one of the ones written on a slip of paper. There will be days when the lesson plan needs to go out the window and the only thing to do is think on my feet. There will of course be negatives but the positives are going to outweigh everything else because I already know there will be engagement, rigor, fun and most of all, productive learning. role. I had been, and always will be, extremely diligent and organized. Through college, I thought a lot of my organization disappeared but it came back with a vengeance and it felt great. In general, I crave organization but sometimes need to have it in different ways than I had been used to. I now know that I need to go back to my old organization ways in order to manage my stress and make myself feel good.