Move more and sit less

Wow, I can't believe it's been over a MONTH since I posted on my blog! This blog is something near and dear to my heart, and I don't plan on disappearing again for this long! But I have needed a break from social media/the internet lately, and the first things to suffer were my Instagram account and my blog. But don't worry, I'm back! Sometimes it's nice to unplug, and then plug right back in when you are rested and ready. 

I've been reading so many articles lately about how detrimental sitting can be for our health. I know for me, even as a registered dietitian and health professional, my job consists of a LOT of sitting. I sit with my patients when reviewing their lab work and meal plans, I sit at my desk while I chart and do paper work, and then most of the time, I come home from work, so tired from sitting, that I just sit some more! My energy levels have been dropping, and I've realized that the more I sit, the more tired I get, and the more I want to sit some more. It's a vicious, vicious cycle (and please tell me I'm not alone)!

Yep, already 2pm on this particular day and only had 2000 steps! 

Yep, already 2pm on this particular day and only had 2000 steps! 

But a big motivation to move is current research that shows that the more you sit, the more likely you are to develop heart disease and diabetes. And trust me, you do NOT want those diseases. Diabetes is a huge contributing factor to renal (kidney) failure, and as a renal dietitian who works with patients daily who have failed kidneys and are on dialysis, diabetes is the number one thing my patients wish they prevented or taken more care of early on in life. Diabetes can cause problems with eye sight, with nerve/feeling in your extremities, and can cause renal failure. Patients with renal failure eventually end up on dialysis which is a treatment that comes along with a complete lifestyle overhaul: dialysis 3 days a week, limits on how much fluid you can drink, and a very restrictive diet that cuts out even the "healthiest" of foods, such as avocados, potatoes, bananas, and nuts, which become detrimental to someone with kidney failure. 

We all know that a healthy diet is crucial to health and longevity. Limiting refined carbohydrates and sweets is important. We should be choosing whole foods most of time, such as a variety of vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, legumes, and healthy fats. But, where does activity factor in to the mix? 


Being active can be hard in our fast paced society. When I work with my private practice clients and suggest them adding activity into their day, I often get "I don't have time" and "I'm just so tired" as the top excuses. What we often fail to understand is that exercise gives us MORE energy than we could ever think of! The supply of oxygen that floods through our bodies as we get our heart rate up gives us an extra jolt, feel-good endorphins, and naturally gives us more energy for the rest of our day. 

Just 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day has been shown to be wildly beneficial for overall health. That can be as easy to fit in as a 30 minute sitcom. Setting your alarm 30 minutes earlier in the morning to powerwalk, or heading to the gym for 30 minutes after work is not only doable, but will make you a healthier and more vibrant person in your everyday life at work, with friends, and with family. Heck, even going on walks during your breaks at work can make a big difference!



What are some ways you can see yourself being more active throughout the day? Make yourself a priority and schedule in your workouts. You wouldn't miss a work meeting, right? So why would you miss the most important meeting of your day; taking care of yourself and your health!? 

So, nourish yourself well, move some more, sit less, and see how your energy levels will skyrocket and your health will improve! If you need a little more one-on-one work on how to get started on your healthy living journey, my door is always open! Contact me and we can get started putting a plan together for you! 

PiYo Review: Sticking to something till the end!


I have been filled with such an incredible sense of accomplishment these past couple days. Yesterday I completed the two month PiYo program. I have never ever completed a workout program from start to finish. Even though there were ups and downs throughout the past two months, I did each workout every day and completed the program! 





I am so grateful to God that, even though these past two months have been nuts, He gave me the motivation and determination to finish this program!! I am definitely going to incorporate PiYo into my weekly workout schedules because it has been the best thing I have ever done for my mind, soul, and my body. 

Let me first say that I used to hate anything low impact, and I especially did not enjoy yoga or Pilates. This program completely changed that for me! I looked forward to pressing play every single day, and I felt amazing during PiYo. So if you think you are not a yoga person, you should try this program because you may surprise yourself!  

I also got great results! The left photo is from week 3, and the right is from my final week, week 8! 





I have never had definition in my abs, let alone the confidence to post my abs! This workout gave me confidence in so many aspects of my life. I finally completed a program in its entirety, which is such a huge confidence boost! I also became a beach body coach in the process, because I wanted to be able to coach others through this program so they can experience what I have. Now, I feel like I can do anything I set my mind too! 

To close, I know you all are interested in details. So here is it. I lost 10-12 lbs during PiYo, I stuck with the workout calendar, and I also added about 2-3 cardio days consisting of slow run/walks ranging from 20-40 mins. Most importantly, I stuck to a mostly clean eating lifestyle. I never starved myself, I did indulge on Easter and a few other occasions, and for about 80% of the 8 weeks, I ate whole, real foods, lean proteins, tons of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and a good amount of healthy fats. Nutrition is the most important part of the entire equation! We cannot workout enough to outweigh a poor diet...that's for sure! 

If you would like me to coach you through this fitness program and help you get on your way to living a healthier lifestyle, please contact me! I have a passion for helping people reach their health and fitness goals and would love to work with you. Email me at to get started! 

"Make Good Choices" Monday

Wow! This day flew by for me. I had a training at our main office today which was SO good, it felt like a half day! We blinked and it was 5:30 already...I'm not complaining! Today was a great day as well because my mission of planning and making more balanced meals was a success! I may have slightlyyyyy deviated from my original plan I posted yesterday, but I still made good choices, ensuring my meals were balanced, healthy, and kept me fueled all day long! Here is a rundown of how my day went: I had my personal training session at 6am this morning, so I had one of my gluten free pumpkin protein squares before hitting the gym!


The workout was definitely a killer, but felt so good! We worked on chest and triceps, with a 25 minute interval run to top it off. As my post workout meal, I has some eggies with kale and a small banana. Gotta get that balance of protein and carbs! :)


I made sure to pack a filling day's worth of food for work today so I would not get hungry and tired again during my training. We learn so many new and valuable tools at our all-day trainings, so I wanted to be alert and awake to absorb all the information! I packed a peach for a snack, then had chicken, sweet potatoes, and an apple for lunch. Nuts were my afternoon snack before we got off!





Dinner was one of my favorites, Chipotle! I love their barbacoa and made sure to load up my bowl with lots of fajita vegetables, salsas, lettuce, and a few dollops of guacamole!



I felt like today was definitely a success! My meals were well thought out, contained adequate amounts of proteins, fats, and carbs, and kept me focused and energetic throughout the day. I also made sure to pack my lunch tonight for tomorrow so it is all set! That way I don't have an excuse for a lazy lunch if I am feeling rushed in the morning. Having your lunch packed the night before ensures that you will a) make good choices the next day and b) won't get stuck in a food emergency the next morning if you run out of time to pack a lunch! It's a win-win! :)

And on that note, this girl is definitely ready for bed!! Have an awesome evening everyone!

Back to the Basics

Happy Monday everyone! I hope everyone has started this week off with a bang! I thought I'd share my eats of the day with you all as some inspiration to show that sometimes, simple really is better! These past few weeks have been filled with ups, downs, stresses, events, good food, and good times for me. However, I woke up today thinking "I neeeeeed some simple, easy, clean foods back in my life!" So I decided to just plan my meals out and make them as simple, fresh, and easy as possible. And let me tell you, it felt great! Going back to the basics of having lean protein, fresh veggies and fruits, and healthy fats helps you appreciate these delicious and nutrient-dense foods in their natural form, and reminds you of how satisfying and satiating they can actually be! So here is my day! :) I woke up and had a banana before my workout this morning. I am finally get back into working out after being sick for 2 weeks! I did the bike with some toning work afterwards for my arms!

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After my workout, I made a quick veggie scramble before heading off to work.



For my day at work, I packed berries, salad with grilled chicken that I prepped last night, veggies, and nuts. These meals/snacks were so simple and were all from fresh, real foods. They kept me full and energized all day long!

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After work, I met my parents at one of my favorite restaurants...Lemonade! I got their Pineapple chicken salad and Thai veggie salad. These salads are both so light and delicious and are filled with more of those fresh veggies!

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Whoever says vegetables don't fill you up has definitely never...well...eaten vegetables! Veggies are so filling because of their high water and fiber content. Plus they require lots of chewing, forcing you to eat slower and enjoy your food. This helps your body take time to digest, and helps your brain send those helpful "I am full so you can stop eating" signals. In addition to the nutritional benefits of vegetables (fiber, vitamins, minerals, etc), they are also great for volume eaters, like myself! I'd rather have a whole big bowl of something than a teeny tiny slice of anything else. That is why I love to fill my plate with lots of fresh, non-starchy veggies that are crunchy, fun to eat, and that fill me up! One of the best things I've ever done for my health is try to incorporate vegetables into at least 75% of my meals for the day, whether that is in scrambles, stir-fries, salads, snacks, soups, etc. Also, pairing high-quality proteins such as eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, or fish, with your vegetables is the best way to help you stay full and energized all day long, without compromising your healthy eating goals!

Whenever you are stressed out about meal planning or just need to snap out of some old habits creeping back up, just go back to your basics. Grab a protein, surround it with tons of veggies, and add some healthy fats to the mix. Simple, easy, healthy, and delicious!

Zucchini Stew & My Last Day of "Freedom!"

Well, today was my last day of unemployment. Everyone keeps saying it's my last day of freedom, which I accept. I won't be able to spend hours at the gym anymore, cook long drawn-out meals for myself, read a book a day, or go see 10am movies for $7. But, I am beyond blessed to have gotten this job and am so excited to start my career as a Registered Dietitian! I woke up around 5:30 this morning and immediately got up to get a head start on my day. I had things that I had to get done today, such as cleaning my closet and organizing my clothes, so I didn't waste any time! As I've mentioned before, one of my goals this year is to read through the entire Bible in one year. I finished the book of Genesis today, so one book down and 65 to go! I especially love Genesis 50:20, when Joseph reconciles with his brothers that sold him into slavery and says, "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." (Genesis 50:20 ESV)

I love this verse because it basically sums up God's redemptive work in our lives. There is a lot of evil and hard situations in the world we live in, so we definitely need the grace of God to get us through the life He has given us on earth!! But what is meant for evil towards us, God can redeem and work out for our good! I've experienced this countless times in my own life. When things are going horribly or I have no idea why something is not working out, I remember that God means for things to turn out for good according to His plans and purposes! It fills me with peace and comfort, because even though I may have no idea what I am doing, God always knows, and His plans are way better than mine! Just check out the following verses!

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8, 9 ESV)

After my quiet time, I had a quick pre-workout meal before going to the gym. I had my favorite halloum cheese again melted in one of my grain-free tortillas! Check a few posts back for the link to the recipe I used by Against All Grain!

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I still felt a little hungry after my cheese sandwich, and I didn't want to run low on fuel during my workout! So I had a few of our many macadamia nuts before heading out the door!

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My workout was pretty good today! Which is great because I'm definitely going to have to tweak and adjust my workout schedule once I start my new job tomorrow!! This morning, I did 3 miles on the elliptical, and 12 miles on the bike (which is the equivalent of 4 miles for my 150 miles by valentines day challenge)! I'm at a total of 83/150 miles so far.

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After my cardio, I did some deadlifts, the lat row machine, and the tricep machine! I'm excited because I've definitely been feeling stronger and needing to up my weight, which is a sign of progress! The minute I got home, before losing motivation, I also did my TIU Love your Booty routine for the Love Your Body challenge I am doing with Tone it Up!

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After my workouts, I made some egg tacos and used my last two grain-free tortillas to wrap them up. I was so sad I was out of tortillas, but I'll definitely be making these again on a regular basis because I just loved them!!

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It was almost 9:30 after my breakfast, but I was still not feeling motivated to clean my room. I decided to do the quick TIU Beach yoga routine instead before showering and attacking my closet.


The yoga routine is 20 minutes, challenging, and gave me the right balance of relaxation and motivation to get to my closet. But, after my shower, I skyped with one of my best friends that moved away a week ago, which was a definite necessity since I miss her like crazy! Then, I finally turned my attention to the clothes! It felt so nice weeding out things that I've had since high school but NEVER wear, and organizing all of my shoes and outfits. It also helped me see that I really DO have ample clothes for a business casual wardrobe, and will not be needing to go shopping for work clothes...drat! :)

After packaging up by clothes to give away, I looked at the time and it was almost 1pm! I reheated the remainder of my turkey chili and sliced up some cucumbers into little "chips" to dip into my hummus. I was STUFFED by the end of this meal! Something about the protein, fat, and veggie combination in that chili makes it a nutritional punch and fills you up, setting you up for an energetic afternoon instead of a slump! Check a few posts back to see my easy peasy turkey chili recipe!

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After lunch, I decided to spend some time out of the house. I wanted to do something fun on my last day as a free woman, so I decided to head to my local Peet's coffee shop and enjoy some time outside while reading and sipping on my favorite Masala Chai tea! The weather has been beautiful here, so I wanted to enjoy every minute of it! And I was even able to wear my cute green shorts in January...and what could be better than that!??

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I spent over 2 hours at Peet's reading, journaling, and doing some Bible study homework. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and I didn't want to tear myself away, but knew I had to get home. After cleaning up my room a little more, I got to cooking dinner with my Mama! My family makes an amazing zucchini stew that is usually served over rice, but since adopting a more grain-free diet, I've eaten it just by its lonesome without the rice, and have never looked back! I don't even miss the rice because the zucchini, beef, and tomato sauce give so much flavor to this dish that is still tastes delicious even on its own. It is the perfect bowl of comforting goodness, which is why I put it on the menu for tonight! I wanted to make a meal that was warm, nourishing, and would make enough for leftovers for me to take to work tomorrow. This meal was just that!

Zucchini Stew (makes 6 servings)

2 T olive oil

1 cup diced onions

1 lb ground beef (we used the grass fed 85/15 from Trader Joe's)

6 medium-sized zucchini

1 15 oz diced tomatoes

3 T tomato paste

1 t salt

1/2 t red pepper

1/2 t black pepper

1/2 t all spice

Start by heating up the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until the onions are tender and translucent. Add the ground beef and chop it up into tiny pieces until it is cooked through.

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While the beef is cooking, wash and slice up your zucchini into thin disks!

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Once the meat is cooked all the way through, add the zucchini, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and seasonings! Mix all the ingredients together, then leave the pot over medium heat for about 1 hour, stirring every 10-15 minutes. There should be enough liquid in the pot since zucchini release a lot of moisture, but if the mixture ever gets dry, add a bit of water to it!

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Once the zucchini cooks through and gets mushy, the dish is done! It should resemble a stew-like consistency.


We thoroughly enjoyed this meal tonight; my parents added rice to theirs, but I enjoyed the stew as is! I hope you all get to try this dish this winter; it's perfect for cold and cozy nights! Not to mention it is gluten/grain free, paleo, and Whole 30 approved!


Well, my last evening as a free woman is coming to a close! Now I have to pack my lunch for tomorrow (that's going to take getting used to!) and run a few errands before bed! I need to find a purse that is cute, professional, but still big enough to hold my nalgene water bottle, notebook, and any other necessities I may need at work. It's definitely hard to find a purse with all of those qualities, but I am determined!! I hope you all have a wonderful night! The next time you hear from me, I will be a working girl! :)

New job!!! Lemon-mint salad dressing, and Daily Manna!!

Hello everyone! Whoa look at that, two posts in a row! I am so excited today to announce that I finally got a job!!! photo 2-2

I have been in the interview process for a job at WIC (a program for women, infants, and children that provides supplemental food and nutrition education) for a few months now. Since first learning about WIC 6 years ago, I have been wanting to work there! How amazing is it that you get to empower and support women and kids to get the right nutrition and have access to healthy foods?! I am beyond blessed that this job came to me and I have been thanking God non-stop for this amazing opportunity! I officially start training this Thursday, January 16th (ahhh 1 day left!) and I just cannot wait!

My day was quite a busy one! Even though I still feel like I haven't done much. I have been wondering if I will miss the life of unemployment, but I think I am way too excited about this job to ever look back! Dear Home, it's been nice, but I am SO ready to get out there!

I woke up around 5:30am this morning and did some quiet time. Some people are amazed at how I wake up so early, but let me tell you, it's taken years of practicing how to sleep. I'm serious! From the time I was a child, I was a chronic insomniac and was never able to sleep. I would be up all night, tossing, turning, reading, walking around my room, or just staring blankly at the ceiling praying that morning would somehow come sooner...just this once. About a year and a half ago, when I began to cut out gluten and some other inflammatory grains, I noticed such a huge difference in my sleep! I was able to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer (I sound like a commercial). I also learned that I MUST pay attention to my body's cues. If I get sleepy at 9pm, I have to take advantage of that window of opportunity, and actually sleep at 9pm! If I fight my sleepiness, I end up staying awake all night long. So now, if I am sleepy at 9pm, I sleep at 9pm! I try to listen to my body, not only when I eat and when I workout, but also for rest and relaxation. I know that the only way I will be able to be the best version of me is when I am healthy, active, and rested!

So anyways, after my quiet time, I had 2 of my paleo tortillas from yesterday with a bit of almond butter smeared on top. These tortillas are absolutely amazing and are from the Against All Grain website if you want to check it out! I included the link in my post yesterday! :)

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I had an okay workout today. I was feeling really low energy for some reason, so I didn't push myself speed or resistance-wise. I still did about 30 minutes on the elliptical and 25 minutes on the bike, but I definitely didn't try to challenge myself. I broke a sweat and burned some calories while still going easy on myself, which is what I needed! I also did some shoulder and bicep work, along with the chest press machine and the lat pulldown machine.

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I got home and felt so exhausted, and was starving! I decided to not only have my usual veggie omelet, but also have yet another paleo tortilla (I'm telling you, I love these things!) with some of my favorite Middle Eastern cheese melted inside!

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Halloum cheese has been my all time favorite cheese every since I was born. I blame this cheese for the reason why I can't stand cheddar, monterey jack, or any other typical American cheeses. This cheese is just THAT good. It's made from sheep's milk, it's pretty high in fat, and I really don't care one bit! :) I melted two sticks of it in my tortilla this morning, it was delicious, and I enjoyed every bite of it!

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After breakfast, I finished up a great book I have been reading called "Lazarus Awakening" by Joanna Weaver about really enjoying your personal relationship with God, believing that God loves you, and living as an ALIVE person in His love and promises. It was such an incredible study, with questions and journal reflections at the back of the book! I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a bible study/devotional book!

Around 10:45am, I headed out to an appointment I had, which was about a 40-minute drive away. The appointment also lasted a while, so I didn't get to have my lunch until about 1:30pm! Boy am I glad I had a filling breakfast! I reheated some of my yummy turkey chili (recipe is in yesterday's post!) and had some veggies with hummus as a side!

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I started reading an article on green tea after lunch, but about halfway through I decided to get up and do the new Tone it Up Love Your Arms and Abs routine! I had crazy amounts of energy after lunch, which is ironic considering I was exhausted this morning, and atypical of the usual afternoon slump that people suffer from. So I wanted to take advantage of my energy and do the workout two times through, but my sore muscles were not having it. My arms and back were still sore from my workout a few days ago, so I just did the routine once. I absolutely LOVED it though, and will definitely be doing it again!

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The afternoon was busy with some errands: picking up my car from the dealer's and going grocery shopping! My mom and I made fish and salad tonight, with some leftover roasted potatoes from her dinner last night! It was so cute because I walked into the kitchen and my mom was busy portioning her almonds in little containers for work! How cute is that?! She is definitely the mother of a some respects haha :)

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We usually get the pre seasoned Cajun salmon from Trader Joe's on fish night! This salmon is so delicious, has good ingredients (nothing funky!) and is so easy to make! We just popped it on the stove top in some foil for about 25-30 minutes while we chopped up our salad, and dinner was served!

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Everyone asks us about our homemade lemon-mint salad dressing. Honestly, I have no idea how to explain this recipe, because it's definitely one of those "eye-balled" recipes the women in my family have been making for generations. But, for a standard sized salad mixing bowl (about 8-10 inches in diameter) filled with lettuce and veggies, we use approximately these measurements of the following ingredients!

Lemon-mint dressing:

2 T lemon juice

2 T olive oil

1/4 t salt

1/4 t red pepper

1/4 t crushed mint

1 clove garlic, crushed (OR use 1/4 t garlic salt for both the garlic and salt)

Pour the ingredients straight onto the salad, toss, and enjoy! This dressing is light, healthy, and tastes great with pretty much any salad combination!

After dinner we had Bible study, and then headed back home! Now for some Downton Abbey before bed...unless I get sleepy, in which case it's bed for me! I hope you all have a wonderful night!

Our Hawaiian Christmas Cruise!

Hello everyone and Happy New Year! It feels like it’s been forever since I have written anything, probably because it has! We just got back from our two-week cruise to Hawaii a couple days ago, and let me say it has been hard to get off of vacation mode! We had a great time relaxing on our cruise, exploring Hawaii, and spending time together. I have a pretty small nuclear family (just me and the parents), so it was really nice to just relax and enjoy this experience with them! As you all know, I posted an entry before taking off on our cruise on how to make healthy decisions during a vacation! I am so excited to share with you all about my experience on this 14-day adventure filled with good food, intense workouts, amazing sights, relaxing beaches, and more! Bear with me as I try to fit two weeks into a single post; I definitely won’t be posting about every day but will try to give a general overview of what we did, what we saw, and (the best part), what my meals and workouts consisted of! Warning: this is a long post, but Hawaii was worth it! :)

So…let’s begin!

The day we were set to start our vacation, I woke up early to make sure I got a good workout in before my day began! For me, exercise is a stress reliever and I look forward to it in the mornings! I woke up and got a good sweat session in before getting ready to hit the LA dock to get on our cruise!


I did 30 minutes each on the elliptical and bike, then some weights! I grabbed a quest bar on my way out the door!


We checked in and got on the ship around noon, settled into our room, then headed up to the Lido Deck where they had the lunch buffet! Cruises are notorious for the amount of food offered and consumed. There is food somewhere at all hours of the day, so you will never go hungry! The Lido Deck always had a buffet, and the formal dining rooms had formal dinners with courses and waiter service! We usually had the buffet for breakfast and lunch, and then enjoyed the formal dining rooms for dinner. Below is my first lunch on the cruise before we set sail! They always had healthy grilled fish, a salad bar, and some kind of vegetable sides to choose from! The first day, I got mahi-mahi, salad, and zucchini roasted in tomato sauce!

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We spent the afternoon exploring the ship, and watched us leave the LA port around 5pm! I was still in shock at this point that I was going to be on that ship for two weeks!

Our dinner seating was always at 5:30pm, so we headed to the dining room shortly thereafter. The dining room had salmon, steak, and chicken offered every night, as well as some seasonal specialty items. Most of the options were a little too crazy for my taste (hey what can I say, I'm a simple eater!) so I usually had the chicken or fish dishes, with the occasional steak dish! The first night, I had a caesar salad with chicken in this AMAZING thyme au jus sauce. I fell in LOVE with this sauce! I am craving the chicken even as I type this; it was so yummy!


These dinners typically lasted about 60-90 minutes, so they were really nice and relaxing! I wish I could eat more like this in my regular life instead of having to rush through meals to get on with the day!

Hands down, mornings were my favorite part of my vacation. I am a big morning person, and the cruise did not change that one bit! My dad and I usually woke up early and were ready to start our day! The first stop on our cruise was in Ensenada, which is the view we enjoyed the first morning at 5am as we enjoyed our pre-workout meals! Most mornings, I had a banana with some peanut butter, or my macadamia nuts (once I got them from Hawaii!) with some kind of fruit from the buffet before working out. These meals definitely hit the spot and gave me the energy I needed to get through my workouts!




I always had some crazy morning hair as well, to entertain all of the other 5 people that were up with my Dad and I at 5am! :)


The gym on the cruise was SO nice. The view was spectacular, usually overlooking either the towns we were docked at, or the open ocean on the days we were at sea. I loved the machines too! You just clicked on the weight you wanted; I thought it was so cool!



My workouts were typically an hour of cardio split between the elliptical and bike, and some lifting and toning work! I really enjoyed working out at this gym while appreciating the view and meeting all the people we were cruising with!


I was also happy to have the weights section all to myself! SO unlike my gym at home, where I usually hide in the corner to get my toning done because I am so intimidated by the people in the weight room!


After our workouts, my dad and I went back to our room to get my mom, then headed up to the buffet for breakfast! I usually had some hard boiled eggs and fruit, and then discovered they also had gluten free toast! I had the toast for a day or two and then just went back to the eggs and fruit choices; they were much more filling, plus I felt strange having "fake" bread since I hadn't had a gluten-free substitute bread for so long! It had an odd, margarine-like aftertaste, so I was not a fan. It was like my body was naturally craving healthier, more wholesome choices instead...crazy huh? ;)


Our many days at sea were usually spent up on the Lido Deck relaxing and reading. My dad and I are avid readers, and my mom is a passionate knitter and loves to crochet. We each got to relax and enjoy our hobbies while being together, which was the best part of this vacation! We would typically stay up in the Lido Deck until lunch time rolled around, when we would head back to the buffet for more yummy food! My typical lunch consisted of salads and some kind of grilled fish or protein source! The salad bar had so much variety, so every day was different! Some days, I added black beans, pumpkin seeds and almonds to change things up. They also occasionally  had my favorite mozzarella cheese balls as a salad topping, so I enjoyed those as well!





While we were at sea, most afternoons were spent doing what we love to do best, relaxing, reading, and knitting. We really enjoyed ourselves! I read 6 books during the two-week vacation! If we got hungry in the afternoon, there was always a snack available! Sometimes I grabbed a piece of fruit, or had some dried fruit and seeds!




Since our cruise was a "Christmas Cruise," going from December 20-January 4th, we had a few formal nights coinciding with Christmas! For formal night, we all had to dress up for dinner. We had three formal nights throughout the whole trip. Our Christmas formal night was my favorite! I love Christmas decorations and they had them all over the ship for the entire two weeks! I took so many pictures with the decorations, but here are some of my favorites!




Our seating time for dinner was at 5:30pm, which worried us at first because we thought it was too early. But, as I said earlier, these dinners lasted a while, so we ended up being really happy we chose the 5:30pm time! Below are some of my typical dinner choices. I usually started with a salad of some kind, and then my main course was a chicken, fish, or meat dish with veggies. My favorites were the chicken (mentioned earlier) and the tri-tip with chimichurri sauce (below).

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Grilled tilapia with veggies!


The head waiter was informed a few days into the trip that I was on a gluten-free diet. Even though, as many of my readers know, I have been off and on with following a strict gluten free diet, I have been trying to be better about it. My stomach issues (and basically everything from my focus to head aches to sleep) is just BETTER when I am off gluten. I was so grateful that the waiter was helpful and guided me while making gluten-free choices! He knew all the ingredients in each food item, so it was easy to make choices that I knew wouldn't hurt me the next day. However, he always made sure I had a gluten-free dessert to enjoy every night! Some days, I just stuck the dessert on my dad (I am not a fan of puddings or mousses), but other days, I followed my 3-bite rule*, and sometimes even 1-bite rule, and enjoyed these desserts!

*See post on how to have a healthy vacation!


Almond chocolate toffee cake...yum!


We were so spoiled with the sunsets we were blessed to enjoy during our trip. God is an awesome artist, and I have never felt His presence more than I did on this trip! The colors of the sky were reflecting off the ocean, and the clouds would come alive and seem to have a mind of their own while the sun was setting. They were beautiful moments to watch!




Our days at sea were pretty much the way I described them above...wake up, eat, workout, eat, read, read, read, and EAT! But our days on the islands were so jam packed and busy! We had a long 4-day stretch at sea to get to Hawaii, but once we hit the islands, we were at a new island every day for four days! Our days were busy with excursions and tours, which were exhausting, but we enjoyed every minute!

Our first stop was Hilo, which is a city on the big island of Hawaii. We did a tour that took as to the Akaka falls, a rainforest zoo, and the Mauna Loa macadamia nut farm!!! The Akaka falls was a breathtaking water fall. We had to take about 200 steps to get up to it, but once we did, the view was incredible!



Hilo had so many of these trees! They are called Banyan trees and they were so beautiful!


We went to the Pana Ewa Zoo, where it proceeded to pour rain on us! I guess you have to deal with the unexpected tropical showers when you visit Hawaii! We tried to find shelter to hide under while it was raining, and enjoyed the colorful animals (and bamboo!) in between the showers. I had packed a Larabar with me because I wasn't sure if lunch was included in the tour (it wasn't), so I definitely whipped that bar out at the zoo! I was hungry!

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Our last stop after the rainforest zoo was the Mauna Loa macadamia nut farm! We went a little crazy here, and bought a TON of chocolate nuts, as well as a variety pack of other flavors. I am pretty sure that macadamia nuts are my new favorite nut. They are so healthy! People are often scared to eat them because they are a tad higher in fat than other nuts, but they are predominantly monounsaturated fats, which is much better for us than polyunsaturated fats, which is abundant in most other nuts! The tour guide actually called me out when he found out I was a dietitian (thanks Mom) and asked me to explain to our group why they are a healthy nut! Of course, I was happy to share with the group! :)

(Side note: polyunsaturated fats are still okay fats, but too much can cause inflammation in the body! But another story for another time...)

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That was the end of our Hilo adventure! The next day, we stopped at Honolulu, where we took a trip to the Pearl Harbor memorial. It was such a beautiful day, and such a touching memorial to visit.





It was also incredibly windy, and my hair was going crazy!


We stopped in Honolulu on the 27th, which is also my parents' anniversary! I decided to put a little flower in my hair for their special dinner! Yes, I went with them...I'm an only child, remember? :)


Our third island stop was Kauai. Kauai. Is. Beautiful. I have no words to describe it! The ocean was the bluest blue I had ever seen! We took a tour of a private garden that is grown and kept in Kauai, and it was like a whole other world.


The garden had so many fruit trees! I got to eat a pomelo straight off the tree! :)


There were also beautiful fountains and bamboo trees.



The trees below were HUGE. They are Morton Bay Fig trees, and their roots grow on their outside! They were incredible and towered over us to a point that we couldn't even see the tops of the trees! We felt so tiny standing next to them!


Our fourth and final island stop was Maui. We decided to take it easy on the last day and finally enjoy the beach! We went a beach on the Kaanapali shores.


Being at the beach was so relaxing!


Kauai and Maui were my two favorite islands. They were so beautiful, green, and tropical. I was sad that Maui was our last stop and wished we had more time to explore! But our Hawaiian stops were over, and for the next 5 days we were at sea again heading back to LA. We celebrated New Year's Eve while we were in the middle of the ocean, which was fun! They gave us all hats and headbands to wear at dinner.


Our last days at sea were spent just like our first days at sea. We worked out, read, ate, and relaxed. I absolutely loved being able to wind down and bask in this time with my parents. I enjoyed good, healthy, wholesome foods, worked out every day except one, and had a FUN and healthy vacation! I was also blessed to be able to relish the beauty of God's creation, both at sea and on the islands. Being in nature and in areas that are less urban compared to Los Angeles really opened up my eyes to how amazing God's untouched creation really is. His presence, love, and awesomeness was colored in every sunrise, sunset, hillside, beach cliff, and beautiful exotic tree we saw. This vacation definitely rekindled my love for the outdoors and nature, and I came back to California feeling refreshed and rested. As a result, I feel much more inclined to spend time in nature and find my own little beautiful spots right here at home! Of course, I also hope to visit Hawaii again someday and experience it all over again!

I'm sorry for the novel post! But I hope I was able to give you all a taste of our Hawaiian vacation! It was a wonderful trip and I am so blessed that I was able to enjoy it with my parents! And a late Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

How to Have a Healthy Vacation!

With just 2 days left until our 2-week Hawaiian cruise, I thought I would write this post today before getting knee deep in packing and laundry! I wanted to share my experiences with having a healthy vacation. Here are some of my tips, as well as how I plan on having a healthy vacation this time around as well! 1.) Workout every day. Yes, EVERY DAY! Usually, the hotels we go to or the cruise ships we vacation on have complementary gyms. And these gyms are really nice! On my last two cruises, I made sure to workout every morning. I did a mixture of cardio and weights which lasted about 45 minutes-1 hour. These gyms also usually having personal TVs so you can watch your favorite shows or movies! Getting this workout in early in the day ensures that it will actually happen before the business of your vacation day begins! Invite your family and friends to workout with you as well so you don't feel like you are missing out on spending time with them! Making this a family affair will also keep you accountable to go and get the workout done! :)

2.) Try to eat fruits and veggies at every meal, preferably in place of starches! I have been on my fair share of cruises, and let me tell you, cruises=indulgence to the max! Everywhere you turn, there is food. And not just normal food...highly palatable, sugar-laden, delicious food! I've realized that a way I can make healthier choices is to swap out my starchy option for a fresh fruit or vegetable side. For example, I remember on the last cruise we went on, they had a curry chicken dish on the buffet line with white rice and curry veggies for lunch. I chose the chicken and an extra large side of the veggies, and skipped on the rice. This way, I could enjoy this delicious curry dish without wasting calories on empty, nutrient-poor foods such as white rice. Another easy way to do this is to get a burger, no bun, and top it on a salad! The burger meat tastes just as me! Or get roasted sweet potatoes or a side salad to complement your meal, instead of a pasta or bread side. The possibilities are endless! Get creative, and try to choose a variety of proteins, fruits, and vegetables throughout the day! :)

3.)  Avoid midnight buffets, late night snacking, and every-day desserts. This one applies mostly to cruises, but could also apply to any vacation! Whether you eat dinner late on a vacation, or enjoy the midnight buffet nightly on a cruise, this is one area where I have to be strict! There is really no reason to eat after a delicious, usually 3-course dinner on vacation. This might occasionally happen, but definitely should not be a nightly habit. This type of eating usually happens late at night when you have already had enough calories and delicious food for the day. What I have done in the past, and plan on doing now, is that if I am hungry after dinner, I plan on getting some pineapple slices or a piece of fruit or nuts as a night snack. These choices are much better options compared to a heavy dessert or even a plate of food that turns into a second dinner! Now, of course there is some wiggle room...if you have had a light eating day and see something you absolutely must have at the midnight buffet, I recommend splitting it with a family member or friend, or using the 3-bite rule: 3 bites, and you're done...and please don't use a ladle for this! ;)

4.) WALK EVERYWHERE! Seriously, this is one thing that could possibly make or break your vacation. Staying active will ensure that you are moving and burning calories throughout the day, which will make the occasional treat harmless and guilt-free! Stairs are always a much better option than the elevator. Go sight-seeing on foot, walk all over your cruise ship, or just go exploring! Making your vacation an active one will help you be able to afford those occasional treats that are bound to come your way!

5.) HAVE FUN! Lastly, have fun!! It's vacation, and you should enjoy it! But, food is not the only way to enjoy a vacation. I'm not saying don't enjoy your vacation can pick these foods in moderation as long as you are making other, nutrient-dense choices throughout the day (and not eating huge portions)...but also try to find other ways to have fun!!! Bond with your family, relax by the pool and read, go on walks, look into some non-food related activities to do on your cruise ship, and just try to relax and enjoy your time. Being happy and stress-free will actually decrease your chances of having a food free-for-all, and setting back your healthy eating plans significantly. It is okay to enjoy, and even indulge (remember the 3-bite rule!) but overall, try to stay as active as possible, choose healthy, colorful foods, and ENJOY!

Well, those are my tips for now! I will also write a "post-vacation" post to share my experiences on this vacation! This is the longest cruise I have ever been on, and I am excited to explore Hawaii and spend time with my parents! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year! See you in 2014! :)

Workout Revelations and an Easy Lunch Idea!

Happy Thursday everyone! I can't believe it is almost the weekend, and almost mid-December! This month is flying by. I leave for a 2-week Hawaiian cruise with my parents in exactly 8 days and am getting more and more excited as the days go by! I'm planning on writing next week about how to have a healthy vacation (yes, even a healthy cruise!) and what my plans are during the vacation! I have been successful on 2 cruises in the past and actually came home having lost weight! So believe me, it IS possible! Today started out like any typical day. I had hoped to sleep in but woke up at exactly 5:55am and could not get back to sleep. But I did some early morning quiet time with Jesus, which I love, so it was worth it! I got ready for the gym and had my 2 carrot cake squares (check previous posts for the recipe!) while Pinteresting. Check out the cute pin I found a couple days ago! I want all of those disney workout shirts!!!!

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After having my pre workout meal, I headed to the gym for a double Elliptical and Bike workout, with some toning exercises. I have been having a workout revelation lately. As many of you know, I am a runner, but about 2 months ago my hip and knee starting giving me problems. The hip pain has resolved, as it was most probably an overuse injury. But pain in both my knees continued until I finally saw an orthopedic surgeon at the end of last month who believes I have many different "runners knee" type symptoms, as well as cartilage breakdown and possible meniscus tears in both knees. She told me to hold off on running for a couple months, and I am planning on starting physical therapy at the beginning of January! In the meantime, the list of approved exercises she gave me was very short: elliptical, stationary bike, toning workouts for my quads, hamstrings, and calves, with no squats or lunges (or bending in general) allowed! These limitations have caused me to become extra creative in and outside of the gym! I used to believe running was the best form of cardio, not to mention I absolutely loved running in general. But, I realized this week that, even though it has taken a while, I am actually enjoying my current workout regimen! I usually split up my cardio time between the elliptical and bike, and then either do some machines for toning at the gym, or come home and do a "body blasting workout" (BBW) of my own creation. My BBW is similar to my arm blasting workout (check a few posts back) but I have incorporated some leg movements to work my lower body in the most low-impact way possible. I'll try to post more about what this workout entails, but for now let's just say that I have definitely been feeling the burn! Between deadlifts, leg lifts/raises, and donkey kicks on the ground, not a day has gone by without my lower body being just as sore as my upper body! I've been absolutely loving all the toning work I've been doing. I've also realized that my time on the elliptical has been serving as a warm up for my new-found cardio love...the BIKE! I sweat like no other on that machine and always play around with the resistance to challenge my body. Wearing my heart rate monitor has also shown me that my heart rate on the bike is just the same, or sometimes even higher, than my heart rate would be when I would run. This shows that I am still getting a great cardio workout without any impact on my joints. Anyways! Long story short, or maybe it was still long :)...I am thoroughly enjoying my workout routine, even though I am anxious to get to the physical therapist in January and hopefully get back into running soon, while still incorporating the exercises I have been currently doing.

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After my workout, I headed to Trader Joe's to get a few things. I was already hungry before my workout (should have had that 3rd carrot cake square!) but didn't want to get too full before working out. I picked up a few essentials for us at the store, then headed home to make my egg white, chicken sausage, kale, and pepper scramble. I had zero patience while cooking my breakfast and had a banana while I waited! :)

After breakfast, I did a few things around the house (laundry, cleaning, etc.) and headed to the mall to get some quest bars! I'm in love with the new double chocolate chunk flavor and want to stock up before our cruise! I know the cruise has food available at all times, but I just love these bars so much I have to take a few with me!

Around 12:30 I started getting hungry for lunch. I wanted to whip up something quick, easy, healthy and delicious. I had some leftover rotisserie chicken in the fridge and wanted to put it to good use! I love how versatile rotisserie chicken can be! I sautéed some broccoli in olive oil while I chopped up a sweet potato to pop in the microwave. I usually bake my sweet potatoes, but I was in a hurry so I used the microwave! I shredded some of the chicken breast off the rotisserie, and added that as well as the microwaved sweet potato into the skillet with the already sizzling broccoli! To season, I just used some garlic powder and salt-free cajun seasoning. You could also add buffalo hot sauce, sriacha, or even BBQ sauce to this bowl, but I just wanted to keep it simple and tasty! The combination of these foods tasted delicious and I was very full and satisfied afterwards!

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And now I am off to the mall again to meet up with one of my best friends! I just love the mall during Christmas...and might pick up a few more quest bars...haha :)

I hope you all are having a great Thursday so far!

Workout plan...FINALLY!

Happy Saturday everyone! I hope you all are enjoying this weekend so far. I am so excited to report that I can finally have more variety in my workouts! I've been doing random workouts at home, what I call my Arm Blasting Workout (ABW). I am still going to incorporate these into my workout routine because I have been getting so sore and really feel the difference these high-intensity toning exercises are making in my body. However, I saw an orthopedic surgeon yesterday who gave me some information on what is wrong with my knees and also gave me some strengthening and workout tips to get me back into running shape! Basically, everything that could be wrong with my knee is wrong with my knee...just kidding (kind of). I don't want to get too technical, but basically she believes I have ileotibial band syndrome, patellar tendonitis, and meniscus tears (non-surgical) in both my knees. There is also significant breakdown of cartilage in both my knees, which means that running has started to take its toll on my joints. I've always had bad knees, so I am not surprised that the breakdown has started already. But! There is hope. She believes that if I incorporate regular strengthening exercises into my routine for my quads, hamstrings, and calves, the strength in my legs can support my knees, which will in turn enable me to run again. Stretching also has to be a crucial part of my routine in order to prevent further injury. Lastly, she is going to send me to a physical therapist for some additional strengthening and correcting.

With that said, the approved workouts I can do are:

***Elliptical, bike, walking

***Leg extensions (quads), leg curls & dead lifts (hamstrings), and calf raises (no lunges or squats for now!)

***Obviously, upper body and abdominal workouts!

***NO running for at least 8 weeks

I was able to do 20 minutes of the elliptical today and then worked on my quads, back, and abs. With some stretching to top it off! It felt so good to be able to go to the gym again! So here is my workout plan for this coming week (stretching is a given everyday so I'm not going to put that down; and ABW takes anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes! Check back to previous posts for the ABW workout!)

November 24-November 30

11/24: Elliptical 15 minutes, bike 15 minutes, hamstrings, triceps, biceps

11/25: Elliptical 20 minutes, calf raises, ABW

11/26: Bike 15 minutes, quads, chest, ABW

11/27: Elliptical 30 minutes, hamstrings, back, TIU shoulder routine

11/28: Elliptical 45 minutes, calf raises, ABW (extra long today know...THANKSGIVING!)

11/29: Elliptical 20, bike 10, quads, bi/tri

11:30: Elliptical 15, bike 15, hamstrings, back, ABW


That is the tentative plan for this week! Of course, I may add some TIU workouts here and there once they post their weekly schedule! I'm excited to add more variety into my workouts and hopefully build up the strength I need in my legs to start running again in a couple months.