A Recap Of 2014

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A little recap of the time between Jan 1st (left picture) and December 21st (right picture):

On January 1st, I made a 2014 goal to be happy. To actively pursue happiness. Things didn’t always go my way this year, but I was happy. Really, really happy.

I can’t even begin to express how much I’ve changed in the last year. At the beginning of the year, I was still working on getting myself to an appropriate amount of calories. I had already made the big jump to the 2000s and was gearing up for 2200+. Of  course my ultimate goal was to stop counting, but that was something scary to be conquered later. Today, I am no longer obsessed with numbers. I eat what I want, when I want- while emphasizing a healthy balance.

In the left picture, I worked out about 5-6 days a week. I ran some days and was really making huge progress with my weight lifting. I haven’t been working out a whole lot lately (seriously, only about 50 body weight squats a day) and that’s okay! I know I need to start working out again, because I feel so much better when I do, but my focus the last couple weeks have been to study and when I have a free moment, to spend it with family and friends.

In January, there were so many things I wanted to change about myself, but more than anything, I wanted to learn to love my body. Today, there are things I want to improve on (such as entering the gym again), but I’m also very okay with who I am.

In January, my body image was terrible on days I went off my macros or didn’t go to the gym (see the banana incident here), but I learned from those days (see pretty much any of my prior posts). Now, I have bad body image days, who doesn’t, but when I do I certainly don’t starve myself or take any extremes. In fact, it has been 1 year and 9 days since I intentionally went to an extreme just because of a bad body image day.

I transformed more mentally this year than ever before and for that I am grateful.

I am grateful for my health. I am grateful for my happiness.

And I am grateful for the wonderful people in my life that have supported me throughout this journey to regain my health and who I am (I am looking at all of you awesome people!).

2014 really wasn’t about the physical changes, it was about my mental transformation. A transformation I plan to embrace and adapt with for the rest of my life. If my goal for 2014 was to be happy, then my goal for 2015 is to stay happy, to spread happiness, and to continue to seek out what it means to be the best version of me.

2% Milk and the Little Victories

If you follow my Instagram, you may notice something missing from it lately- pictures of myself. I have been in a bit of a rut lately. I have bogged down by a busy school schedule, back-to-back-to-back injuries that prevent me from running or doing leg workouts, and now I have been sick for nearly two weeks. I may just be making excuses. I honestly can’t tell. My anxiety has been at an all-time high and I cannot seem to identify the source. Nevertheless, my body seems to be aware of the rut and now whenever I look in the mirror I just think- “meh.”

But I know I can’t do this to myself! I need to step back and do some re-evaluating and I seem to do that best in the form of a blog post because I feel the need to be as honest as possible on here.

I live an extremely blessed life. I am doing well in my master’s program because the material is just coming easier to me than any school material has in years. I have an incredibly supportive family and boyfriend. I have a job waiting for me when I graduate. And yes, I have had some unfortunate circumstances regarding my physical health recently, but it isn’t anything permanent and although I am not pleased with my body, it still by no means looks bad. I have not gone back to any restrictive eating habits (even though in all honesty I have thought about it), in fact I even conquered a food fear I did not realize I still had—2% milk.

Do you ever think about how we strive to improve and then slip into a comfortable habit once we have seen a noticeable difference? Well that little realization smacked me flat in the face when I was at Starbucks last week and ordered a nonfat latte only to hear, “We are out of skim milk—is 2% okay?”

I froze. Anxiety flooded over me. You would think someone just stripped me of my clothes and asked me, “You are going to have to run across campus naked to get your clothes back—is that okay?” All this over MILK. Really?! After a several second pause where I considered just walking away, I finally said that 2% was just fine.

I sat waiting for my latte and realized I hadn’t had 2% milk since junior high. Not in a milkshake or coffee drink. Nothing. Unless it was unknowingly baked into something, I hadn’t drunk it. I began to feel a bit proud of myself because there was a time when I would have walked away, but instead I just accepted it and moved on. I know the whole ordeal was silly, but it was yet another reminder that is always important to strive to better yourself and take time to reevaluate where you stand.

The point is I need to stop feeling sorry for myself and entirely appreciate of the beautiful things that surround me. So here’s to going out there, living life to the fullest, and celebrating the little victories!

Setting Priorities and Enjoying Vacation

This will probably be a part 1 of 2 thing… BUT here it goes!

In three days I leave for a cruise to Mexico. In order to prepare, I have admittedly been eating less processed foods and working out a bit more than I had been a month ago. I was just trying to peak on my confidence in a bikini. I wanted to be as “firm” as I could when I went on vacation. And this thought has me torn. Do I not think I look good enough in a bikini now? Is it some crime against humanity to have a little meat on my bones? Why did I instantly think “vacation- oh better slim up”?

I don’t think there is anything wrong with what I was doing physically (If you want to eat a little healthier to firm up a bit before a beach vacation then great- just don’t kill yourself doing it), it was more of the mental pressure I was putting on myself. I hit a breaking point when I went bathing suit shopping and all the bathing suits didn’t cover any of my butt and pinched at fat I didn’t want to believe I had (seriously though, why is the bathing suit trend to have 75% of your ass hanging out? I don’t get it…) and I started crying. In a target dressing room. Definitely not my proudest moment. 

So I called my boyfriend that night and let it all out. I said I hated that nothing fit and that I work so hard and my hard work just doesn’t show. I said I was dreading getting in the bikini and that I had initially wanted to get a “cute poolside bikini picture” but now that was out of the question. And here is what he told me: “Do you think Beyonce or J Lo fit in those itty bitty size bikinis?! Do you think they can get just any old pair of jeans or bathing suit bottoms? They are not the smallest women, yet they have some of the best bodies in the world! They have fat and muscle and look AMAZING! And so do you. Plus who says you have to be an extra small or a small to wear a bikini?! Just go up a size! You look incredible and you are healthy.” My rebuttal was that he was right, I just wished my size was more muscle and less fat. 

Less fat for this vacation. Looking firmer for a picture. Becoming “bikini ready”. And now I am sitting here thinking, “who the heck am I trying to impress?! Am I trying to get an effing swimwear modeling contract on this boat?!” Uh no…

So now I am re-evaluating and putting things in perspective. I have fat, but really nothing even close to excessive… just a healthy amount. I am also happier than I have ever been. I also am going on this vacation to have fun with my boyfriend, who thinks I look great in a bathing suit. And why did I want a poolside picture? To post on Facebook/ instagram- BUT WHO THE HELL AM I TRYING TO IMPRESS ON SOCIAL MEDIA?! Nobody. That’s who. I need to not focus on impressing others and just focus on having a great time.

The only reason I want pictures now is to remember this amazing weekend. And if I post them awesome! If I don’t who cares?! I am happy, in love, and going on a cruise with my favorite person… that’s a whole lot more important than having a poolside pic that shows off a six pack (that I most likely will never have-but I am cool with my tummy as is it because it isn’t half bad).

NOW WITH THAT BEING SAID, this is how I plan to enjoy my vacation:

Phone off and away

Working out ONLY if I want to

Eating what I feel like (without over-doing it- no tummy aches from over-eating!)

Enjoying poolside drinks

Dancing my heart out at night

Putting away school work 

Not giving a flying f*ck what anyone else thinks (except my boyfriend, but he loves and supports anything that makes me happy- so I don’t need to worry about that)

ROCKING THE HELL OUT OF THE BIKINI BECAUSE I SAY SO AND NOT BECAUSE I FIT SOMEONE ELSE’S STANDARDS

Chai Spiced Cinnamon Roll French Toast

No I am not kidding. Yes it is a thing. And it is healthy. And it is perfect. It will take you a lot of time. It is worth it.

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Dough

¼ c water

¼ c unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or go bold with some coconut milk)

3 tbsp sugar free maple syrup (or agave nectar or regular maple syrup or honey)

a few dashes of sea salt

1 (¼ oz packet) yeast (about 2 ¼ tsp)

1 tbsp butter substitute (I use Smart Balance light with flaxseed OR for a coconut theme go for coconut oil), melted and cooled to room temperature

1 large egg, room temperature (or to make it vegan, a vegan substitute should be fine)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp maple extract

½ tsp of almond extract (or if you are koo-koo for COCOnut then use 1 tsp of coconut extract)

2 c whole wheat pastry flour, plus (quite a bit) extra for kneading

Filling

½ tbsp butter substitute (once again I use Smart Balance light with flaxseed or coconut oil), melted

¼ c sugar free maple syrup

1(ish) tbsp ground cinnamon

 

French Toast Coating:

½ cup of egg whites (or two eggs)

¾ cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk

¼ T of vanilla extract

¼ T of extract of choice (almond, maple, or coconut)

½ – 1 T of chai mix (for the recipe I used, click here)

 

Le Steps:

 

  1. To prepare the dough, combine the water, milk, maple syrup, and salt in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 40 seconds or until warmed (about 100-110°F, make sure it is warm enough).
  2. Wisk in the yeast, and let the mixture sit for 10-15 minutes until frothy (this is a word the original recipe used but I witnessed no frothiness, maybe I just didn’t warm the mixture enough).
  3. Wisk in the butter substitute, egg, vanilla, maple, and almond extracts. With a wooden spoon, stir in ½ cup of the whole-wheat pastry flour at a time until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. (It took mine about a cup and a half)
  4. NOW LET THE KNEADING BEGIN (I hope you have strong hands because this takes a while): I kneaded the dough in the bowl because I have a large nonstick bowl, if you don’t then knead the dough on a well-floured surface. Continue adding dough (slowly) while kneading until the dough stops absorbing the flour and the dough springs up lightly when pressed you’re your finger. This took me 10-15 minutes.
  5. Shape the dough into a ball. If you kneaded the dough on a floured surface, the coat a clean, dry bowl with nonstick cooking spray, and roll the dough ball around inside until completely coated. Place a clean, dry towel over the top, and leave the bowl in a warm draft-free spot to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  6. Roll out into a 15” wide by 10” tall rectangle on a nonstick surface (to achieve this, I floured a thin, flat towel). Brush the surface with the melted butter, leaving a 1” border on the two longer edges. Whisk together the maple syrup and cinnamon, and brush on top of the melted butter, still leaving a 1” border on the two longer edges. Carefully roll the dough into a log, starting at one of the longer edges and rolling towards the other longer edge. Refrigerate the log for 20 minutes.
  7. Lightly coat two 9” or 10” round baking pan with tall edges with nonstick cooking spray. Drizzle some additional maple syrup and cinnamon on the bottom of the pans. Using unscented dental floss (DO NOT USE A KNIFE- I didn’t have unscented floss so I literally used mint floss that I cleaned the mint off of), slice the log into 10-12 (I like mini cinnamon rolls so I think I made 14) equal rounds. Drape a clean, dry towel over the top, and place in a warm draft-free spot to rise for 60 minutes or until doubled in size.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Once the cinnamon rolls have risen, drizzle with MORE maple syrup and cinnamon, and bake for 14-18 (if you make them small, they require less cooking time) minutes, or until the top feel firm to the touch. Cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before serving (unless you are French toast-ifying it, then read on)
  9. Let the cinnamon rolls cool completely in a shallow bowl, compine all the “French toast coating” ingredients.
  10. Cut a few cinnamon rolls in half and dip both sides in the coating.
  11. Place the cinnamon rolls onto a heated (and cooking spray coated) pan (I cooked mine on just higher than medium heat)
  12. (optional) To give them additional crispiness, bake them in the over at 450 F for a couple minutes
  13. top with whatever pleases you and enjoy!!

 

For the inspiration for this recipe, click here.

If you are lazy, just use bread and the glorious french toast mix. If you hate french toast (weirdo), but love chai then replace the cinnamon in the cinnamon roll recipe with chai mix! This recipe is versatile- I gave it underlying almond flavor, but you can also give caramel or coconut flavors and it should turn out really tasty too!

 

My Trip to Banana Island

My Trip to Banana Island

Recently I decided to visit “banana island.” For those of you who don’t know what that means I will do my best to explain: essentially you eat nothing but bananas for an extended period of days. You eat 22-30+ bananas a day to ensure you are eating an adequate amount of calories

It is a considered a healthy detox. I did it for that exact reason- I had been eating a lot of “bad” foods recently and my stomach was certainly feeling the negative effects of it (you reap what you sow, right?). I wanted to cleanse my body of all the toxins I had been consuming. Detoxing has always fascinated me, but with my history with restrictive eating habits, I decided it was best to avoid them while I was trying to restore my metabolism. I am doing remarkably better now and I knew I was ready to try a detox again!

I first heard about mono fruit islands or banana islands a few months ago and I was BEYOND skeptical. Nothing but bananas?! That sounded like a terrible idea. All that sugar would make my skin breakout, right?! And all the starch in the bananas would back up my system, right?!

Well I was wrong as it turns out. After reading just about every blog and article on mono fruit islands/ banana islands and watching all the videos youtube had to offer- I learned that the pros outweighed the cons and I was ready to begin.

One of the key aspects of a banana island is ensuring that the bananas are ripe (ripe bananas are far less starchy and much easier to digest and according to a recent research study, ripe bananas with dark spots combats abnormal cells that cause cancer). I bought my case (that’s right case) of bananas last Friday in order to start my island on Sunday. I knew I wasn’t ready to do my banana island for more than 3-4 days, so I only bought one case of bananas (my bananas were nearly all green so I threw apples in the case with them to speed up the ripening process).

Day 1:

I knew I wanted to eat as I normally would (calorie-wise), so I ate about 5 bananas for breakfast. Some of them I ate whole and a few I ate in smoothie form. Then I went to do a lifting session and I admit, I felt very weak. I completed the lifting session, but wasn’t quite up for running after. By the late afternoon, I was craving anything but bananas! I was struggling because bananas (particularly ripe bananas) are far too sweet for my liking. I decided to try “nice cream” for dinner, so I froze a few bananas. I admit, I added unsweetened cocoa powder because the sweetness was getting to be too much for me. Nice cream made the whole experience a lot more enjoyable and I went to bed ready for day 2.

Day 2:

Day 2 was a lot easier. I had whole bananas for breakfast and my snacks and nice cream for lunch and dinner. I ran 5 miles at a fairly normal (quick) pace for me, but once again I felt a little bit weak.

Day 3:

Once again, day 3 passed normally. I was ready and prepared to run, but I was very exhausted from work and some personal stuff so I skipped my run to work on my thesis.

Day 4:

I decided to transition into other foods again because, frankly, I was kind of over the detox.

My opinions of the detox:

It did what I wanted it to, but not all that I expected it to. From all that I read, I expected more energy to keep up with my normal exercise routine, but I suppose I neglected to consider how intense my normal workouts are and I should have resorted to long walks and yoga (not heavy weights and speed runs). My stomach feels better, so the job was done.

I think I will do the detox again and it was definitely my favorite detox I have ever done. It is much more manageable than other detoxes and not restrictive. In fact, next time I hope to do it for a week!

Let me be clear, I DID NOT do this for weight loss and the only physical change I noticed as a result of the weight loss was significantly less bloat (especially noticeable in the stomach and joint areas).

If you want to complete a banana island:

DO your research.

DO NOT do it to lose weight.

DO plan ahead.

DO NOT under-eat while doing the banana island.

DO sleep plenty during your detox.

DO NOT try a banana island if you are in the early stages of recovery from an eating disorder. It could lead you to fall into restrictive habits or binge.

As always, I am sure I forgot plenty of things that I could talk about so please ask any questions you may have and I will do my best to answer them!

Resources:

http://www.rawsomehealthy.com/bananaisland/

http://www.thegreencreator.com/banana-island-detox-without-hunger/

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Life is meant for LIVING.

“Don’t exist.
Live.
Get out, explore.
Thrive.
Challenge authority. Challenge yourself.
Evolve.
Change forever.
Become who you say you always will. Keep moving. Don’t stop. Start the revolution. Become a freedom fighter. Become a superhero. Just because everyone doesn’t know your name doesn’t mean you dont matter.
Are you happy? Have you ever been happy? What have you done today to matter? Did you exist or did you live? How did you thrive?
Become a chameleon-fit in anywhere. Be a rockstar-stand out everywhere. Do nothing, do everything. Forget everything, remember everyone. Care, don’t just pretend to. Listen to everyone. Love everyone and nothing at the same time. Its impossible to be everything,but you can’t stop trying to do it all. Make this moment your reckoning. Your head has been held under water for too long and now it is time to rise up and take your first true breath.” -Brian Krans
I have done some incredible things in my life. I have been to more countries than I have states, which has resulted in endless adventures. I have sky dived, cliff dived, been on a canyon swing, climbed Mayan Pyramids, and even swam in the Blue Grotto!
This past summer I backpacked through Germany, Austria, Belgium, and Spain- an experience that SHOULD HAVE topped them all. I don’t want to live my life with regret and though there are a few things I have done that I am not proud of, I also feel I learned a lot from them. My back packing experience, however, is probably my greatest regret.
I saw some of the most incredible cities and sites but I did not care- I let my anxiety take over my trip and I severely diminished the experience for both myself and (for the real reason I regret how I treated the trip) my brother. Even if part of the experience involved bad luck, I can not deny that the real problem was my bad attitude.
The previous summer I studied in Florence, Italy and had the best six weeks of my life. I had a very anxiety filled year leading up to that experience, but I still allowed myself to let loose and enjoy every moment of my trip. The attitude I upheld during my study abroad experience is the one I will carry with on all my travels from here on out. I want to live, experience, and thrive.
Life is too short to hold back and be bitter. There is so much to see and learn in this world and you simply will put a hindrance on living if you let a negative attitude determine your outlook. Smile and experience all that you can! Take risks, be bold, travel, and try to discover all you can about yourself and the world around you because chances are, you will like what you find!
And a quick montage of my travels the past few years (I don’t have many pictures from my back packing trip because my camera broke on the third day):
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A Day in the Life of Tracy’s Stomach

I get quite a few questions about what I eat in a day to fill all 2200 calories so I thought I would post a couple typical days. The pictures from My Fitness Pal, my food tracking app, are not accurate in the order I eat my food. I am horribly lazy when inputing things so I input in ways that take the least amount of time I.E. If I had something for dinner last night and I was eating it for lunch today, I would input it in the dinner column because it is in my recent foods there.

Anyways here are the picture from my food log two days ago:

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And now a timeline of a day in the life of Tracy’s stomach:

8:30 am– wake up and eat a bowl of proats (protein oatmeal) or oat bran protein pudding with my coffee

9:45 am– breakfast round two- usually a bowl of cereal or greek yogurt with fruit

10:30 am– a quest bar

12:00 pm– lunch: leftovers from the night before

1:30 pm– lunch 2: a salad with a veggie burger or and egg white and veggie scramble

3:30 pm– snack: a PB&J, apple and peanut butter, something with carbs and fats

6:00 pm– dinner: protein (sometimes with carb AKA a whole wheat bun), veggies (steamed frozen veggie mixes), carbs/ starch (roasted potatoes, corn, corn bread)

8:30-9:15 pm– THE NIGHTTIME CARBS AFTER DARK EXTRAVAGANZA! Seriously 300 grams of carbs is kind of hard to fill. Usually I have a lot of fat left over too. Lately I have not had much protein leftover. So my night time snack have included: apple with peanut butter, toast with peanut butter and jelly, alternative bagel and cream cheese, slow churned ice cream, frozen yogurt, cereal, etc.

My all time favorite way to fill my macros (I kid you not, this is proof that I am a health nut at heart) is with greek yogurt, fruit, and bran cereal. But like I said, I just haven’t had enough protein left over to do that!

Everyone fills their Macros differently. Some indulge, some keep it clean. I genuinely prefer “clean” options, but with a boyfriend who likes a lot of carbs with his dinner and limited time to prep food– staying totally unprocessed (like I would like) is just not entirely conceivable to me. I still keep my sodium consumption low and I stay away from hydrogenated oils. But I am also not afraid to end my night with a scoop of low fat, slow churned, ice cream.