-Wellness Lifestyle & food –

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By: Casey Anderson

When I first began my fitness journey, I felt like everyone at the gym knew exactly what he or she was doing and I was the only one there who didn’t. I was self-conscious and comparing myself to every single person there. But that’s not what I should have been doing. If you’re thinking about beginning your fitness journey, the first thing you need to know is that everyone starts somewhere.  The people you see at the gym who appear to know exactly what they are doing were once in your very shoes, walking into a gym with little to no idea what they were doing. They probably felt self-conscious and nervous about people watching them, critiquing their form.  You shouldn’t let your fear of not having the perfect form, or being able to run a mile, stop you from beginning your journey.

Which leads me to my next point, you should be doing this journey for yourself. I first began exercising because I was in a relationship that made me feel very poorly about my body, and thought that if I “got skinny” I would feel better. However, I quickly learned that this journey was for me and that I felt best about it, and saw the most results, when I focused on how it made me feel.  I ultimately realized that obtaining a certain body was not, and should not, be my goal. My goal should be learning to love myself, at every stage of my fitness journey, and taking pride in all my body is able to do and accomplish.

No body is the same and everyone’s body responds differently to exercising. Your focus should not be on obtaining a certain “look” that you may see on Instagram. The focus should be on becoming the best version of you, no matter what that version may look like. About three years ago, I became obsessed with obtaining a certain body type; a body type I used to think was “perfect.” I worked tirelessly for four months to achieve this body and by the end of that time, I noticed little to no progress. When I finally stopped caring about what I looked like, I started to see progress. I started to enjoy my workouts more and to love myself, no matter what I looked like. I learned that the most rewarding journey was the one that wasn’t entirely focused on how I looked, but was focused on how I felt.

Just how no one body is the same, no one journey is the same. Your fitness journey will be entirely different than mine, but hopefully just as rewarding. Try different things in the gym to see what you like, and to see what your body responds to. Don’t be afraid to grab some weights or jump on the stair master. Check out an exercise class and see how you like it. Ultimately, this should be a fun journey. One you look forward to and doesn’t feel like a chore. I look forward to going to the gym everyday but it’s because I’m doing things that I like while I’m there, not things I think I need to do to get an “ideal” body. Doing exercises and activities that make you feel good are an important part of this new adventure.

This isn’t a race. It isn’t a competition. You’re embarking on a journey to be the best version of yourself. A version of yourself that you are proud of, that you love wholeheartedly. It may seem daunting at first, but it’s a worthwhile journey full of self-love, growing confidence, and learning your worth.

Photo creds: Google
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I’ve been sitting on my bed listening to What’s My Age Again? by Blink 182 on repeat for the last hour. I keep repeating “Nobody likes you when you’re twenty three
And I’m still more amused by TV shows
What the hell is A.D.D.?
My friends say I should act my age
What’s my age again, what’s my age again?” As of 4:37 p.m. I’ll no longer be 23, so does this mean people will like me more now that I’m 24?

In all seriousness, I can’t believe I’m 24 years old. The number 24 sounds old and looks huge on paper! I read somewhere that studies show that you’ve officially hit  adulthood at 24 but I don’t really know if that’s entirely true. I hate to say it, but I definitely don’t feel like an adult. I mean I’ve gotten old enough to the point where I can make my own decisions, make my own dentist appointments, pay bills on time, etc but I find myself still seeking guidance from an “adultier adult,” if that makes sense. Most of the time the “adultier adult,” is my mom, but I think most millennials are in the same boat as I am. But hey, maybe this is the year I’ll somehow feel like a REAL ADULT!

I wanted to take the time to write somewhat of a memoir celebrating and reflecting what I learned at 23. My life changed a lot at 23. I grew up in ways I never thought I would. I learned that although life is ridiculously fun, it isn’t a party 24/7 and that I must embrace adulthood for all that it’s worth.

This past year I learned the beauty of letting go. This is the first thing on my list because I didn’t really learn this lesson until recently. I learned that sometimes friendships and relationships dissolve and whether they end on a good note or a bad note and it’s okay to let go. Time passes by and people inevitably change. I lost two good friends this year, girls I thought I’d be friends with forever but we outgrew each other.  It’s okay to not like who a person has become even if at one point they were really close to you. I learned to seal that chapter shut for good and toss it into my memory bank. Life goes on. As the great Buddha once said “You only lose what you cling to.” It’s time to embrace new friendships and move on.

I learned that it’s important to stay hungry and driven. From the ages of 19-22 I was completely fine with being a college dropout. I was okay with living a comfortable life and working a regular 9-5 job. It wasn’t until I turned 23 that I entered into a brief moment of panic. Life was moving forward but I had my feet rooted into the ground, and I simply wasn’t moving along with it. I was stuck, much like a rat trapped in glue. I learned the value of an education and proceeded to move forward with my studies. (My mom is probably glowing while reading this since she used to wait for me outside of my bedroom just to ask me when I planned on returning to school every single day). Although I’m the first one to say that school isn’t for everyone and that it’s okay to not go to school, I also realized that school did matter to me and that I genuinely enjoy it. I also enjoy my career more than I enjoy being “comfortable.”

I learned much to my surprise that the world does not revolve around me. I actually learned this a few years ago, but over the last couple of years I’ve really worked on it. I blame it on my only-child syndrome! When I was a kid I would keep myself up at night smiling and thinking that the world was mine and God simply created everything and everyone around me as a simulation. I also had a very active and vivid imagination as a child so you can’t really blame m. Seriously though, I grew up with many self centered qualities. I would get really upset if the people in front of me at the grocery store line were taking too long because “I really have somewhere to be. Why is everyone so annoying and so slow? Do people not realize I’m in a rush?!” And If anyone was ever late my brain would swell up in fury and I’d think “Why don’t people realize that it’s important to be on time. My time is valuable. MY. MY. MY. ME. ME.ME.” I’d get really frustrated with family and friends for not following my instructions or commands right away and I’d walk around barking orders everywhere I went. Like I said, I think it’s because I’m an only child and I rarely ever heard the word “no,” growing up. My friends would even joke that I was actually a 65 year old grumpy dictator stuck in a teenager’s body. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I learned that my time is no more valuable than anyone else’s and that in the grand scheme of things I’m really not that important to the rest of the world. I learned that life is so much better when you let go of your desire to be in control of everything and no one owes you anything!

It’s okay to be wrong and make mistakes! I don’t always have to be right. In fact, shutting up, listening, and learning from your mistakes is what life is all about! Instead of getting upset with people for correcting me, I’ve learned to smile and say “thank you.” Thanking people for taking the time to correct me just means they care.

Spending time with family and friends is important! I pride myself on never needing to be around others to have a good time. I enjoy spending time alone so much I think I could be locked away in the middle of nowhere alone and never be bored. I think my independence is one of my best qualities, but I learned that letting people in and spending time with my loved ones is just as important, if not more so than spending time alone. Life is short, spend it with people who love you!

It’s important to have hobbies. I’ve discovered that I love writing. In fact I do a lot of writing at my job, although most of it is about science and technology I love it! I created this blog as an outlet for me to write and share my thoughts, food posts, health posts, wellness posts, etc, but it’s something that I very much enjoy doing! I also really enjoy taking pictures of good food and cool places.

Not every action needs a reaction. Sometimes it’s best to just let that car that’s been tailing you for the last 3 minutes just to cut you off! Maybe they really need to get home to use the bathroom, or maybe they’ve had a really bad day and just want to get home. You don’t need to honk aggressively and flip someone off every time they drive like jerks! Not everyone is deserving of a reaction. Just smile and move on with your day.

“Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” I’ve always been terrified of failure and rejection. I’ve missed out on so many opportunities in life because I was scared I wasn’t good enough, deserving of them, or that I’d fail. I SET THOSE THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS ASIDE because like I said before, it’s okay to fail! I can’t imagine what life would be like if we were all perfect. Take the job that intimates you, move to a new city, ask that person out on a date that you’ve been crushing on forever, take life by the horns and live it up!

Love first, job second. Although many beg to differ and will often say “your career will never wake up one morning and decide they no longer want to be with you,” I’ve learned the importance of love and what’s important in life. Your career will not be waiting for you to get home with a smile and a nice warm bowl of soup. Your career will not be your shoulder to cry on when you feel like your world is ending. Your career won’t ask how your day was, or take you out to the movies or on a hike. Your career will never replace a person or a family. I’ve toned down my workaholic tendencies a bit to focus more on my loved ones. I think it’s important to have a healthy balance between all aspects of your life. Although my career is still top 5 most important things to me, being happy and loved surpasses that.

I learned that I actually do want to get married someday, and maybe just MAYYYBEEE have kids. Although the thought of having children anytime soon makes me sick to my stomach, not because I don’t like kids I actually think they’re super cute, but they’ve never really been for me. However this past year I’ve considered that maybe in 7-10 years having my own family is a good idea.

I also learned that I can not drink alcohol unless I plan on being bedridden the next two days. I can no longer stuff my face with food all day long without gaining any weight, a good credit score gets me really pumped, keeping a planner is a must, you can’t miss out on Yankee Candle’s semi-annual sale, sleeping-in on the weekends is a complete waste of time, staying up past 10:30 on a work night is a horrible idea, and cleaning is actually really therapeutic.

I’ve learned a lot more this past year, but those are the most important to me. I’m so proud of the woman I’ve become and I hope that 24 is just as good, if not better than 23. I also hope that this year is full of happiness, adventure, new experiences, more independence, and new friends!

Goodbye Jordan, Hello Kobe!

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The other day I was talking to a colleague of mine while going over some ideas for design changes on our company’s website. We started getting sidetracked since we’d been going over the same concept in different color schemes for the last hour and a half. Our conversation went from color schemes to Netflix, to his son and wife, to our favorite places to eat around Northern VA, and to our general hobbies outside of work. I asked him if him and his wife had finally gotten a chance to watch Atypical on Netflix, and he said no, and then  he asked me “you have a food blog don’t you?” I glanced down at my notes and said “uh yeahhh, I do actually, but it’s not just about food I guess.” His question kind of caught me off guard, you see, I don’t really like talking about anything related to myself or my life in the “real world,” with any of my coworkers or anyone in general. I’ve never been the type of person that’s comfortable talking about myself, or what I do for fun on the weekends or in my spare time. I find it a bit uncomfortable and somewhere in the back of my head there’s a little bug saying “they’re just going to think you’re weird or lame so don’t say anything, plus talking for an extensive period of time drives you mad.”

However, when he asked me “well why did you start it? I know there’s this whole vegan craze going on nowadays, is that why?” I laughed because for once I actually had a lot to say as to why I started this blog and why I’m an advocate for natural health, alternative medicine, wellness, organic foods, and a clean diet. I talked his ear off for 15 minutes which is record time for me unless I’ve guzzled a glass or two of  wine. I figured he probably isn’t the only one who’s wondering the same thing, so why not write about it?

Alright you’re going to have to strap in because we’re hopping in a time machine and traveling back to the year 1999. Back to the year when Britney Spears (one of my favorite people on the planet) was known as the queen of pop, back to when kids were squeezing purple colored ketchup onto their school hotdogs and nuggets, back to when scrunchies and butterfly clips were the craze, back to much simpler days. I’m 5 years old in 1999. I live with my mom and dad in this stunning 18th century colonial style home in Alexandria, VA. We live about a 10 minute walk from Old Town Alexandria, VA and 15 minutes away from the Pentagon. I live in a great neighborhood, I’m a kindergartner at Charles Barrett Elementary school, I have lots of friends, and parents who adore me. How couldn’t I be happy at 5? You see at 5 years old I hadn’t really understood the concept of a deadly disease or even death for that matter. I don’t think most 5 year olds do.  At 5 years old all I knew was that my daddy was sick and would often times be at a doctor’s appointment of some sort, but that’s all that I could really grasp at the time.

My dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1996, and doctors had given him 6-12 months max. Prostate cancer is known as one of the easiest to kill if it’s caught in time, but his had slowly begun to spread. His only option was chemo but he immediately refused. My dad was a bit of a hippie, an environmental biologist who firmly believed in the power of nature and God. He told his doctor he would find another way, but chemo wasn’t the route he was going to take. Anyway, at that point even with chemo his chances of survival were still pretty low. His doctor must have thought he had just signed his death wish refusing the treatment. C-A-N-C-E-R is a scary scary word. Walking in for a routine checkup  just to leave finding out that you’ve got about a year long expiration date if you’re lucky can’t be an easy pill to swallow for anyone. I don’t know how he took the news, I wasn’t there, I was two at the time so I honestly don’t even remember. I imagine he was heartbroken but certainly NOT defeated. My dad was always a warrior, a man that would fight tooth and nail for whatever he wanted.

Now you may be asking yourself “okay well how does this pertain to you and your passion for natural health?” Well you see, if you’re like my dad and you’ve just been told you’ve got cancer and you’ve just told your family that you’re refusing chemotherapy, and that you’ve only got a few months to live, you’re bound  to make some serious lifestyle changes if you have any hope for survival, and if you change your lifestyle, your family’s lifestyle will change too. Luckily for my dad, my mom was a bit of a health nut before she ever met him so it wasn’t hard for him to ditch the cereal or junky processed foods he had been accustomed to since he was a youngster.  My mom is from Ecuador, a teeny country in South America. In Ecuador organic food is all they had. You didn’t drink soda, or eat cereal, or chips, or anything processed. You ate what you grew on your land, and you grew to be old and healthy. Fun fact: my great grandmother was 109 when she died, and I think her long life had a lot to do with her diet- zero herbicides, pesticides, GMO’s, refined white sugars, nothing processed, etc HOORAY!

My dad firmly believed that changing his diet and his lifestyle could suppress or even reverse the spread of the cancer, and in some ways it did. We began going to alternative medicine conferences as a family, switched to a primarily vegetarian all organic diet (which means I’ve pretty much been a healthy eater all of my life because I was a toddler at the time), grew a majority of our own fruits and vegetables in our backyard, and really focused all of our energy into being as healthy as we could be (not that I really had much of a choice). Time went on and he lived past his 12 month death sentence, past 24 months, and so on. His doctors were flabbergasted to see him standing, and as healthy as he possibly could be living with the hell-sent disease. My father frequently traveled to Mexico, and South America with my mom and I to receive the natural and alternative medication he was unable to receive in the U.S.

As a kid I remember absolutely hating the food my parents would make me eat. I hated the fact that they would juice carrots and greens for me every morning before school because it tasted god awful, in fact I used to rush to the bathroom and flush it down the toilet. I hated the fact that I didn’t get to eat school lunches. I hated the fact that if I were ever invited over to a friend’s house I could never stay over for dinner because I wasn’t allowed to eat their food. I hated the fact that I’d have eat before my classmates’ birthday parties or bring my own food, I hated all of it. I wasn’t allowed and to drink tap water, or drink soda, or juice, we didn’t shop anywhere else other than Fresh Fields (now known as Whole Foods), hey we didn’t even get a microwave until 2008, can you believe that? This led my classmates to believe that I was snobby and stuck up, but they simply didn’t understand. I grew a lot of resentment towards my parents because they increasingly became more and more paranoid and focused so much of their lives on food, and I always felt like the odd man out in front of my peers and embarrassed when they would tease me and call me “organic girl,” a name that carried on through high school for a bit.

Fast forward to 2003, we’ve moved from Alexandria to a smaller city further North and I’m in the third grade. I’m the new kid in school, and I didn’t even start school until 3 weeks later because we were busy moving to be closer to my dad’s sister, so you can imagine how awkward it was for me to walk in to a brand new school nearly a month late. My mom and dad walk me to class and the teacher asks my new classmates to welcome me. Not a single one of my classmates is looking at me, they’re looking at my dad with intimidation in their eyes. “Woah your dad is a giant,” exclaimed a boy named Jason as soon as my parents walk out the door. “I guess,” I say. I guess he was a bit of a giant, at 6’9″ he towered above everyone, especially over a bunch of third graders. I only bring this up, because that’s how I’ll always remember him- as a big friendly giant.

A few weeks into my new school year and I’m making friends, my parents are still insanely controlling about our family’s eating habits, but after all of those years I’m used to it. Anyway, life doesn’t seem so bad at the time. However, my dad hasn’t really been feeling well, and he’s been in and out of the hospital for the last couple of weeks. He’s lost a lot of weight very quickly, his skin is pale with a yellow tint, he seems out of it every time I talk to him, but after dealing with a sick parent you kind of get used to it. Of course the drastic lifestyle change helped him tremendously, but that didn’t change the fact that he still had the cancer living in him and of course, there were days where everything was 100% normal, and there were days where he didn’t feel well at all. But like I said, I was used to it. This time it was different, weeks went by and he had been in the hospital for a while. I missed a lot of school because we wanted to spend as much time with him as possible. The cancer had spread quickly and aggressively, and there was nothing we could really do for him at that point. Chemo wouldn’t help, medication wouldn’t help, it was too late. My dad died shortly after being admitted into the hospital for three weeks.

I continue to write this as I wipe my tears, because the pain of losing a parent doesn’t ever go away, you just learn to cope with it. My dad lived for 7 years after his original diagnosis, SEVEN! Those were some of the best 7 years of my life and I’m forever grateful. He was told he had nothing more than a year to live, but he lived for 7! Whether it was due to a miracle, his dietary changes, or both, my money is on his decision to pursue alternative medication and consume nothing but wholesome healthy foods, and I am eternally grateful for the natural resources our mother earth continues to provides for us.

My dad would always tell me “Maycita, I think I got this sick because when I was your age my parents didn’t care about food. As long as we had something on the table everything was fine. There were never any discussions about nutrition, or being healthy. We really didn’t care. You should be thankful that your mother and I care so much about you and your health, and one day when you’re older you will thank us.” Boy was he right. At 23 years old I am so thankful to have grown up in a home that placed such a high value on eating well, and caring about what you put into your body. I witnessed firsthand the power of natural foods, and healing through food. I am forever grateful and in a way indebted to my mom and my dad for enforcing a healthy diet, and healthy lifestyle choices, and I will continue to pass everything I learned from them to my kids, and hopefully my grandkids because I plan on living to 110 at the least. 😉

So I urge you all to educate yourselves on what you eat. You may be young now, but it catches up to you eventually. I’m not saying you’ll get sick, but I’m saying we are all a mere product of what we eat, break down, and absorb. Life is beautiful, the human body is beautiful, treat it with as much love and respect as you can. Of course I slip up and have my cheat days, and eat poorly every once in a while, but I’m only human. But back to my original point- why I started this blog. I started it because I’m deeply passionate about good food and good health, and I want to share my life experiences and hopefully inspire others along the way. I believe in the healing powers of food, I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true. You can’t expect to pound down a bunch of processed foods every single day, a pack of cigarettes, soda, etc and expect to be in great health. I get so excited to see how mainstream eating organic and locally grown foods has become. Some of you may think I’m crazy, but the time is now!

**Disclaimer- I am not a physician, I’m just talking about my life experiences and in no way shape or form encourage anyone to stop listening to their doctor(s) in regards to replacing their medicine. Please speak to an actual physician prior to making any drastic dietary changes for medical reasons**

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Overnight oats, OVERNIGHT OATS, OVERNIGHT OATS, OVERNIGHT OATSSS! I apologize in advance for being OVERly excited about OVERnight oats, but I can’t help myself! I’m a sucker for anything tasty, nutritious, and easy to make. These recipes are perfect for anyone that is too busy and doesn’t have enough time to prep a full-blown breakfast spread in the A.M., doesn’t want to eat a fast-food breakfast, wants something filling and healthy at the same time, or for those who just want to save some money by meal-prepping. If anything mentioned above pertains to you, I highly suggest you keep reading!

I personally love the idea of meal prepping because it saves money, it saves time, and we all know that time is money haha! But in all seriousness, I love meal prepping but I’ve always struggled to find a yummy and healthy breakfast prep for the week. I’m used to boiling and egg and having some sort of fruit with it but after having that every single weekday morning, it definitely gets a bit boring so I was pretty desperate for an alternative. I also want to point out that I really enjoy sleeping in as much as possible, and would much rather sleep 20 extra minutes than get up and make something for breakfast. What can I say, homegirl needs a solid 8-9 hours of sleep to properly function.

I’ve heard the buzz surrounding overnight oats, but I’ve never been crazy about oatmeal and it’s probably due to the fact that when I was a kid my parents would juice a bunch of carrots and make me drink carrot juice and eat oatmeal every morning before school for breakfast. I’m finally over my disgust of oatmeal because its been a long time since I’ve been in elementary school, which is why I figured I might as well just give the oats a second shot and I’m really happy now that I did in case you couldn’t already tell! Ok, now I’m ready to share what you guys are really here for, THE RECIPES!

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What you will need:

  • Five 8oz (or larger) jars with lids
  • Spoon
  • Measuring spoons
  • Measuring cups

Ingredients: 

  • OATMEAL!
  • 3 tablespoons of shredded carrots
  • Handful of raspberries
  • Handful of blueberries
  • Handful of blackberries
  • Greek Yogurt (flavored or plain)
  • Pecans
  • Honey
  • Chia seeds
  • Coconut flakes
  • Sesame seeds (optional)
  • Granola (optional)
  • Flaxseeds (optional)

How to prep:

Step One: Pour 1/3 of a cup of dry oats into each jar.

Step Two: Add 2 tablespoons of Greek Yogurt into every jar.

Step Three: Pour 4 tablespoons of a milk of your choice into every jar. I used vanilla almond milk, but you can use cashew milk, rice milk, coconut milk, even regular cow milk will do just fine!

Step Four: Add 2 tablespoons of chia seeds to every jar

Now that you’ve got the base for all five of your overnight oats it’s time to get a little crazy and switch up the flavors!

1) Carrot Cake Galore- Add 2 tablespoons of shredded carrots on top of your base, add some pecans, cinnamon, flaxseeds, and honey. Voila, easy as 1, 2, 3!

2) Mixed Berry Goodness- Toss in some blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Top it off with a little bit of honey and sesame seeds.

3)Blueberry Pie- Toss in some blueberries, a pinch of brown sugar, honey, and flaxseeds.

4) Rollin’ Raspberry- Add fresh raspberries, granola of your choice, pecans, and cinnamon.

5) Plain Jane- Throw in a handful of granola, raw honey, and cinnamon!

Total Prep Time: 15 minutes

Once you’ve prepped all of your oats, put a lid on every jar and refrigerate. The next morning your oats will be ready to be devoured. You can either heat them up for 45 seconds in the microwave OR you can have them cold. I prefer to have mine cold because they taste just like a parfait. Now that you’ve seen how quick and easy this breakfast prep is, I’m sure you understand my obsession!

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As always, try them out and let me know what you think! 

Bon Appétit

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For those who don’t know, HelloFresh is a meal delivery service that promises to deliver fresh ingredients for meal preparation straight to your front door once a week. One of the things I really like about this company is that you have the option to pause your service for as long as you want, and pick up right where you left off. I signed up for HelloFresh back in November when they were offering a sale for Cyber Monday. I’ve always been interested in signing up for a meal delivery service plan just to see whether or not it was actually as cost and time efficient as people say.

HelloFresh offers their customers the flexibility of picking a plan depending on one’s dietary preferences, household size, and schedule. Whether you are a vegetarian or a carnivore, HelloFresh vows to deliver ingredients that best suit your needs. HelloFresh pairs professional chefs with dietitians to create 15 new recipes each week. You don’t need to be home to receive your delivery, and the great thing is that all of the ingredients arrive in an insulated box with icepacks to ensure freshness. HelloFresh also offers a super easy-to-use interactive app that is compatible with all smartphones so you can pick your meals, pause your delivery service, track your order, view recipes, save past recipes, and more!

Here is a breakdown of the different plans they offer:

  1. Veggie Plan for Vegetarian recipes with plant-based proteins, grains, and seasonal produce. You can choose a delivery for two to four people starting at $9.99 per serving with free shipping and three different recipes a week.
  2. Classic Plan for carnivores which offers a wide variety of meat, fish, and seasonal produce. You can choose a delivery for two to four people starting at $9.99 per serving with free shipping and three to four different recipes a week.
  3. Family Plan for carnivores with ingredients the whole family will love. With this plan you will get enough food for four people and two to three recipes a week starting at $8.74 per serving with free shipping.

I selected the Classic Plan which came with four meals for two people for $79.92 but with the CyberMonday discount, I got my first box for $39.92 which was not bad at all. A couple of things I kept in mind when I signed up for HelloFresh was that my usual bi-weekly grocery bill ranges anywhere between $200-$250 which includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, meats, dietary supplements, breakfast foods, snacks, and cleaning supplies. So IF I were to regularly purchase from HelloFresh I’d be spending around $320  a month on the service ALONE which is where I started to get a little turned off because they’re really only providing one dinner for four out of the seven days of the week. That left me still having to go to the grocery store to purchase things like eggs, fruits, veggies, and other things I’d require for my other two meals of the day and three meals for the 3 days I didn’t have a HelloFresh meal, so I’d still be going to the grocery store and I would still be spending about $120-$150 for the extra groceries. In the grand scheme of things I wouldn’t be saving much time in regards to going to the store which was one of the things I was really looking forward to.

The Unboxing- I placed my order on November 27th, and I received it on December 2nd so the shipping was pretty fast. Everything came in one big box which was nicely lined with icepacks and all of the ingredients were packed in different brown paper bags in accordance to the meal they were to be used for. I loved how organized everything was and I loved how I didn’t have to dig through and separate everything myself.

The first meal I unpacked was the Fig and Rosemary NY Strip Steak. This meal came with two 6 oz pieces of steak, 8 ounces of asparagus, 1/4 ounce of rosemary, 12 ounces of fingerling potatoes, 1 unit of chicken stock concentrate, 1 ounce of fig jam, and 2 tablespoons of balsamic glaze. I opened the app and pulled up the recipe for this dish which was really quite easy and self explanatory, and it took about 35 minutes to prep. I wasn’t crazy about the fig sauce for the steak but I used it on the potatoes and the asparagus. It was pretty tasty and I give it a 4/5 star rating.

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The second meal I cooked up was the Sweet-As-Honey Chicken. This meal included 2 garlic cloves, 1 lime, 1 thumb of ginger, 1/2 cup of jasmine rice, two 6 ounce chicken breasts, 1.5 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 unit of chicken stock concentrate, 1 ounce of honey, and 6 ounces of green beans. Once again I pulled the recipe up on the app and started cooking! The total meal prep time was about 30 minutes. This was my favorite meal out of the four that I received. I give this recipe a solid 4.5/5 star rating, I would have given it 5/5 stars but the portions were way too small for me.

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The third meal I received was the Lemon Grass Chicken Legs. This meal included 2 cloves of garlic, 1 unit of lemongrass, 2 limes, 2 units of bok choy, two 8 ounce chicken legs, 3/4 cups of jasmine rice, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 ounce of honey, 1 teaspoon of sriracha, and 1/4 ounce of cilantro. The total meal prep time was about 40 minutes. I give this meal 4/5 stars.

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The fourth meal I received was the Roasted Pork Tenderloin. I want to point out that I do not eat pork because I don’t like the way it tastes so I actually did not cook this meal. I still have the tenderloin in my freezer but I did use the other ingredients it came with for a different dish. I accidentally selected the pork tenderloin when I was picking my meals and it was too late for me to swap it for something else once I realized it. This meal came with 12 ounces of yukon potatoes, 1 red onion, 2 garlic cloves, 1 lemon, 1 zucchini, 1/4 ounce of cilantro, and a 12 ounce pork tenderloin.

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Conclusion- The meals that I tried were pretty delicious and I have the recipes saved in the app so I can refer back to them anytime I want to remake the meals. I think this meal plan is suitable for people who aren’t really familiar with cooking and are just starting to dip their toes in the kitchen, and need inspiration for meals to cook. I also think it’s suitable for a single person because the portion sizes just seemed a little too small to be divided by two people, but that’s just a personal opinion because everyone eats different portion sizes. I did not save any money, in fact I ended up spending way more than I expected to because I had to buy additional groceries at the grocery store. The meals were pretty time efficient considering they were ready to go in under 40 minutes so that was definitely a plus for me! Now I hate to sound like a food snob, but I really only eat organic and locally grown foods and none of the ingredients I received were organic which is the number one reason I will not order from HelloFresh again.

I do think that everyone should try it at least once in order to form their own opinions on the food delivery service.

If you’re interested in ordering your first HelloFresh box you can use my code MAYORTIZ at checkout for $40.00 off your first order. 

 

 

Images are a courtesy of HelloFresh.com
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First and foremost I want to start off by saying that I had a lot of reservations about writing and sharing this post for a couple of reasons, but mainly because of fear and anxiety. I fear that those who read this will no longer see me as a confident, bubbly, and vivacious person, but instead as someone fragile and weak. I also don’t this want this to change anyone’s perception of me, but I’m setting those reservations aside because I believe in the power of honesty and vulnerability, and the power of being so open, raw, and relatable that others feel uncomfortable yet safe and understood at the same time. Secondly, I want to advise everyone who reads this that this post may contain some triggers, and if you’re currently battling and eating disorder (e.d.) or suffering from a mental illness, you may want to stop right here.

With that being said, I’ve always been a pretty confident person not just about the way that I look but about who I am internally. I’m intelligent, I’m funny, I’m kind, I’m resilient, and I have a good heart. Now I don’t say these things to toot my own horn, but I say them because I genuinely feel that way about myself and I think everyone deserves to feel that way about themselves too. After all, humans are amongst the most complicated, fascinating, beautiful, and mysterious species to roam the earth, so what’s not to feel confident about? I grew up in an environment with parents who taught me the fundamentals of being a happy and good person. I was taught from an early age that looks don’t matter and that they’ll eventually fade away. I was taught that being smart and hardworking would get you further in life than just a pretty face and a good body, so I never really focused on the way that I looked and I honestly didn’t really care up until my senior year of high school.

Alright, let’s go back to when this whole thing began. I was a Junior in High School sitting in my AP Pysch class when all of a sudden I felt my phone vibrating in my pocket, it was a Twitter message from this guy who had graduated a couple years before I did talking about some sort of joke I had tweeted about gypsies, and the rest is pretty much history. That message was the beginning of a two and half year long tumultuous relationship. Now you may be asking yourself how any of this is relevant to an eating disorder, and I’ll tell you why. It wasn’t until I found myself dating that person that I really started to focus on the way that I dressed, the way I talked, the way my hair looked, and of course how much I weighed. After the first year of the relationship I began to consume myself with the idea that he no longer found me attractive and would find somebody else that was prettier, skinnier, and smarter than me and I just couldn’t have that happen. I kind of went into this delusional state of mind that anytime he would look at another girl it was because he found her better looking than me. I’m 23 years old now and I look back at that point in my life and I can’t help but laugh because it was so absurd and silly and I can’t believe I ever felt that way about myself in the first place. I was young, I thought I was in love, and I was also pretty insecure.

My desire for perfection turned into an obsession. I started eating less and less and I told myself that once I lost 10 pounds, I would feel good about myself and I would stop. Well that was much easier said than done. I began limiting myself to one “meal,” a day which typically consisted of a couple of fruits and a piece of toast, and if I was I feeling feisty that day I’d even sneak in a Hershey Kiss or two. The weight just fell right off. I was never really “fat,” in fact I’ve always been pretty skinny, but I wanted to be skinnier because I began associating being thin with being beautiful, and if you’re beautiful then you’ve got nothing to lose. There were days where I would eat nothing besides trail mix and drink water just to shake off the nausea, dizziness, and the feeling that I could faint at any given time.

At 5’8″ and 106 pounds I had turned into an irritable skeleton. The slightest thing would set me off because I was so hungry, and WE ALL know how much it sucks to be hangry (hungry and angry). I was hungry all of the time! I couldn’t focus on anything and all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and shut the world out. There were weeks where I would skip eating completely for two or three days at a time and then I would lock myself in my room and devour an entire large pizza, a bag of chips, and candy all by myself just to shove the back end of my toothbrush into my mouth and spew it into the toilet moments later although throwing up was short lived because I couldn’t stand the feeling of purging. I grew to hate food, I absolutely hated it. Most days I couldn’t smell it or even look at it. I would make up these crazy excuses as to why I wasn’t hungry anytime somebody would ask. After I shed the first 10 pounds my mom began to worry. She would hover over me while I played around with the food on my plate until she finally mustered the strength to sit me down and ask me what was going on. I’ll never forget that conversation because I got so angry at her. I felt like she was trying to control me, I had even convinced myself that she was probably just jealous because I was so skinny and could pretty much wear anything. How crazy is that? To think that my own mother’s genuine concern was nothing more than jealousy. But that’s how these things work, they cloud your judgment and make you see things in a completely irrational way.

This went on for months, I had lost 35 pounds and I gained a genuine fear of eating. I had heard that once you lose weight that fast you’ll gain it back twice as fast and twice as much. It was a demon that controlled everything that I did. I stopped wanting to go out, I wore clothes that were extra big in hopes that no one say anything about my sudden weight loss, I couldn’t focus in school, I was completely zombified. It was the summer before my Freshman year of college and I was a mess. I stopped hanging out with my friends because all they wanted to do was go out to eat just like every other normal teenager and I had run out of excuses as to why I wasn’t hungry, even though I would salivate at the mouth anytime I’d see someone around me take a bite of their food. I became envious of them because I wanted to enjoy food again. I needed food but at the same time I needed to stay skinny even more. I spent that summer dealing with an eating disorder and a breakup that I thought was the end of the world, which proves that you can be skinny and still get dumped HAHA. I was dealing with a pile of emotions that I had never felt before, I was distraught, confused, and just really sad for lack of better words. My friends were no longer reaching out to me because I had shut them out for so long, I was arguing with my mom nonstop because I refused to accept the fact that I had a problem, and I was left with a broken heart. For the first time in my life I felt alone, depressed, and completely worthless.

I finally woke up one morning and looked at myself in the mirror, I hardly recognized the girl looking back at me. Who was she? She was frail, pale, there was no sparkle in her eyes, and you could see a big grey cloud over her head. This wasn’t me, this wasn’t May. Who was this girl? As I stared at the reflection in the mirror I fell down on my hands and knees and I started crying uncontrollably. “How did it get this far?” I thought to myself. It was never supposed to be taken this far. What started out as a diet quickly turned into something really dark and really ugly. I had completely lost myself in the midst of wanting to be “thin.” Something had to change, I needed to get my life under control before it was too late. I looked up a local E.D. therapist and made an appointment for myself that very same day. The first appointment went well, I was able to talk to someone without feeling like they were judging me and I spilled my guts out about every emotion I was feeling and had been feeling for the last year.

I’ve always prided myself on being mentally strong, if I want something I’ll go through hell and high water to get it and I wanted to be healthy again, that was my goal. I wanted to regain control of my life, I wanted to leave that ugly point of my life behind me and start my Freshman year of college without food being the main focus. The first couple of weeks weren’t easy, I had to rediscover the love that I once had for myself and I had to mend my friendship with food once again. There was a lot of hesitation embarking on this new journey, and I’ll never forget the first meal I had where that feeling of disgust and fear of food was no longer present. It was a big juicy turkey burger with a side of fries and extra side of sweet potato fries with honey mustard and ranch. I felt proud of myself for devouring the whole thing, I felt accomplished.  I drove home with a big smile on my face that day because I had finally gotten a taste of happiness again and a taste of my old self.

I believe we all go through things in life to make us stronger. Some experiences come to us unexpecedly and we think we’re never going to live past them but we walk out champions with our heads held high. I’m one of the lucky ones that was able to defeat that demon, but there are millions of people who battle with this disease who haven’t been so fortunate. I am no longer in that dark place in life but it’s important to remember that an eating disorder is much like an addiction and the saying “once an addict, always an addict,” does apply. I’m not gonna lie, there are still days where I wish I was thinner but I would never sacrifice my happiness to be in the place I was back then.

I wrote this because I hope my story can inspire others going through similar situations to seek help and regain control of their lives.  Please remember that there is no shame in what you’re going through and that you’re not alone. Eating disorders are far more common than people think because they do not discriminate. E.D’s affect people from all races, ages, genders, and backgrounds. There is an estimated 8 million people in the U.S. alone who suffer from an eating disorder, so again, you are not alone, just keep on fighting.

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If you or someone you know is battling an E.D. please call 1-800-931-2237 the National Eating Disorder Hotline. 

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With just a few hours left in 2017 I’m sitting on my bed drinking a nice warm cup of ginger tea, reading, and reminiscing on the amazing journey that 2017 has been. The last 365 days of my life have been nothing short of amazing. I’ve definitely had my bad days, but the good days overshadow the darkness that clouds the bad ones. I made memories that will last a lifetime, I traveled, I got a new job that I love, I reenrolled in my college classes, and most importantly, I’ve surrounded myself with people who fill my life with so much love, peace, and serenity. 2017 was the year of change for me, I think I’ve matured so much more in the last 365 days than I ever have in my life. This year I made new friends, lost some old ones, and mended relationships that were once tainted and broken. In 2017 I learned to accept the things I can not change and I also learned to cut the ties that bound and hindered me from growing into the woman I’m supposed to be.

This year I turned the big 2-3, the Jordan year, the year where you start to realize that you’re getting old and you’ve got to seriously start thinking about 401k and health insurance…bleghh. I guess I’m just at an awkward point in life where I still feel like a teenager but an adult at the same time. I find that there’s a sort of paradoxical beauty in feeling so young but so old. Don’t get me wrong I love being 23, it’s been a great year but I’d be lying if I said there haven’t been days where I’ve wanted to hop in a time machine and rewind just a couple years back to when I didn’t have any real responsibilities, and I lived life without a care in the world. I suppose we all have to grow up someday- even though I’m 90% sure I’ll be a 12 year old at heart for the rest of my time on earth.

Upon reflection of this past year I wanted to set some goals for myself. I’ve personally never been the type to buy into the whole “new year, new me,” ordeal simply because old habits die hard, and things don’t magically change and get better once the clock strikes 12. However I do believe that a new year is a clean slate and it’s a perfect time for self-improvement. The energy that surrounds us during New Years Eve fills most of us with this tingly sense of hope, drive, and ambition for the year to come. I believe a new year is brand new journal with 365 blank pages to capture new adventures and everything else life throws your way.

Here are a few goals that I hope to achieve in 2018

  1. Practice gratitude 
  2. Don’t sweat the small stuff
  3. Treat others the way I want to be treated
  4. Get off social media every once in a while
  5. Spend less time alone and more time with family and friends
  6. Prioritize
  7. Graduate 
  8. Wake up 15 minutes earlier 
  9. Explore new places
  10. Complain less 
  11. Volunteer 
  12. Give church a second chance 
  13. Be humble and kind
  14. Meditate twice a week
  15. Read more, talk less
  16. Stop gossiping about others with my friends
  17. Think of three nice things about someone the moment a not so nice thought comes to my mind
  18. Drink less alcohol, drink more tea
  19. Don’t stay up past 10 on weeknights
  20. Save money 
  21. Move out on my own 
  22. Take on more responsibilities at work 
  23. Wake up every morning with a smile on my face
  24. Say “I love you,” more
  25. Eat a 70% raw vegan diet
  26. Get back into Yoga classes
  27. Take a martial arts class
  28. Take a pottery class
  29. Learn how to knit
  30. Visit family in Ecuador
  31. Blog more
  32. Take more pictures
  33. Spend some time away from my phone
  34. Run more
  35. Go on evening walks once the weather warms up a bit
  36. Quit going to bed angry 
  37. Eat more fruits and veggies
  38. Write an e-book
  39. Do more freelance work
  40. Revamp Jolly Crepe
  41. Make new friends
  42. Quit letting anxiety get in my way of things
  43. Join a book club
  44. Stop slacking off on classwork
  45. Do my laundry every week instead of every three weeks when it becomes an unbearable monster of clothing

I know some of these goals are a little far fetched, but definitely not impossible. In a few months I’ll look back at this post and reflect on whether or not I achieved any of the goals I set for myself today.

Thank you to everyone who reads and follows this blog, and thank you to those who support me. Cheers to the last blog post of the year and cheers to 2018! May the new year bring you all an abundance of happiness, love, and prosperity.

Happy New Year everyone and stay safe! 

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