Monday, April 11, 2016

A Recap of our Trip to Washington, D.C.

Happy Monday! 
We got back from our trip to D.C. over a week ago and I have been busy ever since! 
In the beginning of the year, Matt and I set one of our goals to be to take more spontaneous trips. I'm addicted to checking Kayak and Groupon Getaways and month ago I saw that flights were a great price so we used our miles to book our flights! Matt is able to access a last minute travel site through his work and we were able to get an absolute steal of a hotel right near D.C. with a view of the National Monument! Neither of us have ever seen the sights of D.C. and it was so just really nice to get away for a weekend and see our nation's capital!

I know it sounds weird, but I plan a lot of our trips around since we were staying right across Key Bridge from Georgetown we dropped our things in the room and headed straight for Georgetown cupcakes! The line was crazy, but we only waited 20 minutes and I had the most delicious vegan carrot cupcake I have ever had. I was literally speechless! 

We grabbed vegan pizza from Pizza Paradiso and the walked all the way to the National Mall. 
We were then photobombed at the Lincoln Memorial! 

Of course I struck a yoga pose in front of the monument!

Thankfully the cherry blossoms were in full bloom at the Tidal Basin and they were absolutely beautiful even though it was overcast :)

We grabbed lunch at The Protein Bar which is in the center of D.C. it was inexpensive, vegan friendly and delicious! I grabbed the superfood salad with a Kombucha. 

The second day was my favorite day! We managed to visit all of the Smithsonian museums. I'm a huge museum nerd! It is on my bucket list to see all of the world's major museums. 

One of the most important of the day was the Museum of the American Indian. While I wish it was a little bigger and specific to each tribe, I was so happy and proud to see a museum highlighting my Native American heritage. It was an emotional, but worthwhile visit for me. 

Matt was excited to see the Air and Space museum. He works for Lockheed Martin and he was proud to see some of the planes his company made on display. 

We loved the natural history museum and the American history museum as well! 

I was so excited to see this new exhibit at the American History museum. It is the actual lunch counter from Woolworth's in Greensboro, N.C. where four black college students staged a sit in on February 1st, 1960 to protest segregation. I was so happy to see it on full display as soon as you walked into the museum. 

I then had a craving for something sweet after lunch in China Town so I grabbed a vegan Orange Chocolate Gelato from Pitango! It was so delicious, probably the best gelato I have had since Rome! I love how Washington D.C. was so veggie-friendly. 

 The National Gallery had some amazing pieces and I'm really glad we had a chance to stop in. 

The most emotional part of our visit was the Holocaust museum. I feel that the museum was curated very well and respectfully done. There are three floors and you travel through history from before Nazi Germany, to the camps and then to the floor of the final solution. 

Of all of the sites I've seen, this was one of the most profound. Below are the shoes of men, women and children who died in the Holocaust. 
When I saw the exhibit of the Nazi propaganda, all I could think about was how we are beginning to see similar information in our media today. It is easy to blame others who are "different" for the problems we face. We hear officials suggesting the registration of Muslims, we blame the poor for taxes or for being "free loaders," we blame people of color for the violence they receive, we deny the LGBTQI community of their rights all because we only choose to see a piece of who they are. We forget that we are all human beings and we're in this together. 
All of these shoes belonged to a human being with a family, dreams and a future that was stolen from them simply for who they were. When a human or an animal dies it matters. The owners of these shoes were normal people just like you and me, who wanted the same things for their families just like you and me. We all have stories and history. I hope to never lose the ache in my heart that I felt that day. 

There was a poem on the wall at the end of the exhibit and it was incredibly profound and rang true for our current events.:
🏻️🏼🏽🏾🏿"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me." -Martin Niemöller

After a full and incredible second day, our last full day started off at the National Archives to see the Declaration of Independence. It was incredible to see the founding documents of our country!

After lunch, we walked to the Vietnam Wall memorial which was incredibly moving and emotional. There were individuals leaving teddy bears and pictures for their loved ones. We were also really humbled to see a man sketching the name of his grandfather from the wall...needless to say, my eyes were not dry by the time I made it to the end of the wall. 

We then ended our day sightseeing at Arlington cemetery. What an incredibly beautiful place for our nation's soldier's to rest. It was very powerful and emotional. As far your eye can see their are white tombstones... I also loved the women's memorial at the front of the cemetery. 

We were also lucky and fortunate to walk up on the changing of the guard ceremony for the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 

We spent the last night in Georgetown grabbing vegan pizza and walking around. We then grabbed a bottle of wine and watched the travel channel from our hotel room :) 

We caught an early morning flight back and got back to our little fur babies. We have our big London and Dublin trip in June and NYC in October. 

We also were able to add another Starbucks mug to our collection!

I hope you have a great week!
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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Why I do not give Nutritional Advice as a Fitness Instructor.

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence"
-Carl Sagan

I read the above quote in the "Yoga for Medicine" book. I found it very profound especially when considering the current health and wellness industry. I'm always hearing about a new "get fit" gimmick or exercise/nutrition plan led by someone who looks fit or thin, supposedly has is all together making money off of people who are vulnerable. It kind of makes me sick...especially because it happens all the time. As a nation we're spending more and more on health and wellness, but we are getting sicker and sicker. Usually these nutrition or training plans-are expensive, nothing really new, lack empirical evidence or they are dangerous. 

I haven't talked about my diet recently because well, the older I get the more careful I am in influencing people's food choices. I just do not feel qualified to give out advice. The opinions expressed on my blog are based on my own thoughts, knowledge, and experiences. I try to listen to others and try not to put a label on their diet or mine. If you have a label for your diet, then I support you in your choices! 

Also, FYI: "Only a licensed dietitian/nutritionist can provide nutrition care including: assessment, goal setting, counseling, or advice" ( Something I had no idea about until this past year while I was in my 200-hour YTT. In my own opinion, I think it is okay to make generalized statements such as "we all need more vegetables." However, the legal line can be blurry and I like to tread carefully. I do not charge people for advice, because it is wrong and it is outside my scope of knowledge. I also do not teach classes that I'm not certified in (happens a lot in studios and gyms!) because again you're liable if someone gets hurt. I do not want that on my conscience...

I want to encourage you to really investigate these "holy grail" diets and "health gurus" and have a healthy dose of skepticism. Ask yourself: What makes them qualified to tell me how I should feed myself and my family? It is easy to throw claims out there when you're not qualified to do so and those who are vulnerable will listen when there is a dose of good marketing and hype. Also, are they really doing anything new? I think it is pretty clear that no matter what new gimmick or snake oil is out there: The science says moving more and eating more vegetables is not changing and it is pretty solid. 

Marketing is powerful and people can deceive you into thinking that they know what is best for your health. However, no matter how well-intentioned they are, if they're not qualified to do so, then you could be affecting your health negatively. I read or see a lot of people working in this field giving advice based off stuff they read off the internet or a trendy health book. Or they charge you for advice consisting of blanket statements that may not work for everyone's body or family. It is important anytime you are hiring a professional for any service, to research their qualifications before you open your wallet and most importantly, place your health in their hands. A lot of certifications or health coaching is a weekend training or Continuing Education Credits (CEU) that while they can be great for personal development, they mean very little as a working professional without a medical or nutrition science degree to back it. Furthermore, the nutrition advice it provides is very basic (from the programs I have researched) and are for-profit and unaccredited-meaning they do not have a degree or licensure to provide nutrition counseling (aka illegal). 

That is not to discredit health coaching or someone cheerleading you on to lead a positive life- we all need more people like that! There are ways to tread the line when giving nutrition advice, because fitness and eating healthfully go hand in hand. However, nutrition and your body is individualized and may need scientific and evidence-based advice that they do not have the education to provide that for you and it is unethical to charge you for it in my opinion. 

I have also met a lot of people who struggled with an eating disorder and while I can empathize from personal experience, I'm not an expert simply because I experienced an eating disorder. I have people email and confide in me and I'm so humbled and honored with that information, but all I can offer is support and encouragement to seek professional help. I am not a expert in eating disorder recovery just because I am in recovery. Every person has a unique experience that is complex and requires professional care and each person’s recovery is different and complex requiring a personalized treatment plan for him or her. I have a social science degree, but even those with master's degrees have to get specialized training to treat eating disorders-since each DSM-5 diagnosable disorders are not thoroughly covered in the Master's level, unless someone does legitimate graduate research on a specific disorder.

I have had numerous people in the past reach out to me for nutritional advice. I have tried in the past to give advice at the time because I wanted to help. However, my scope is yoga and the certifications I hold...I'm really not in a position to give out advice to you because I'm figuring this health thing out like everyone else.  I do not create nutrition plans for anyone, I have tried while in college (because I did not know any better) and it did not sit well with me. 

I have only been a yoga teacher for three months and while I continue to read and research all the time, I'm still a beginner teacher! Sri Dharma Nitra said "you're a beginner if you have been practicing yoga for less than 20 years." That is not to say that I do not feel confident in my training, but Sri Dharma Nitra reminds us to always keep learning and remain a forever student. Even though I love yoga and want it for everyone-I always remind students to communicate with their doctor before they practice yoga. 

While I know medical professionals do not always have a lot of fitness/nutritional knowledge, I sure as hell know that they understand anatomy, diseases and body chemistry more than I do and definitely more than a lot of these trainers who got a certification because they had a free weekend and a check book. 

I want to be clear that I do not say any of this to bash the whole of the fitness industry or any trainer. I know a lot of teachers and trainers who like me, love what they do, want to help their clients, are properly certified and individualize their exercise plans for their students. My point is to seek those trainers/teachers out. People who admit their limitations or when they do not know something. Teachers and trainers who stay up to date and have legitimate certifications or degrees and follow the laws of their state.

Ask for proof and copies of certifications. Research the institutions or studios who issued their certifications or if they apprenticed. Ask about their experience and read testimonials if they are available. Also, check if they are CPR certified-very serious and important! 
Try to remember that just because someone meets society's limited standards of beauty does not make them qualified to charge you.

I'm still going to provide recipes, because I love cooking and sharing them! Will all my recipes be right for you? Maybe not! It is up to you to find out what is right for you and your health. I had not made it public, but Matt and I completely cut out meat and most animal products about 6 months ago. I found a combo of vitamins and a diet that works best for me and I feel healthier and happy. I feel that plant-based aligns with my values and is great for the planet. This is not to say that that is right for you. This way of life and eating works for me and my body and I have worked with medical professionals to make sure I stay happy and healthy.

Rule of thumb: if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is too good to be true ;)


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Monday, March 14, 2016

No-Bake Vegan Peanut Butter Pie

Happy Pi Day! 
I never make pies, because well...I always screw them up and I can be a bit of a lazy baker...I get so anxious when I'm dirtying up the kitchen and I end up covered in flour and chocolate so for Matt's my sanity. Its just better that I keep it simple...

And this pie is literally fool proof. All you need is a blender with a handful ingredients. I found the pie filling recipe from the amazing Chocolate Covered Katie and just improvised the drizzle. I had everything in my pantry for the filling and I'm sure you could make your own pie crust using one of the 100s of amazing recipes out there, but I like the Wholly Wholesome Pie Shell. The one I used is Whole Wheat but they also sell white whole wheat, gluten free and spelt options. 
I hope you enjoy :) 
Vegan No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie

by Whitney Davis (Recipe adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie)
Prep Time: 10 Min.
  • 1 Cup All Natural Peanut Butter
  • 3 Medium Bananas
  • 2 Tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 3 Tbs Agave Nectar
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • 1/4 Cup Virgin Coconut Oil
Blend all of the ingredients in a blender on high speed. Pour the filling into your prepared pie crust or into a pie dish-this can be easily made without pie crust! Free the pie until firm. This pie needs to be kept in the freezer because it will melt. Thaw before eating for a mousse-like consistency.

For the Chocolate Drizzle:
I mixed 1/4 cup raw cocoa powder, 2 Tbs agave nectar, 2 Tbs melted coconut oil and drizzle on top of the pie before freezing.
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Monday, February 29, 2016

New Beginnings!

Big news. A month ago, I quit my job! :D

This had been a long time coming and it has been one heck of an exciting month!

We had set up our budget and goals over a year ago so that I could leave my full-time job at the end of January and it is exactly what I did. I'm currently teaching 5 cycle classes and 4 yoga classes a week and subbing up a storm! My full-time job was just becoming a headache and I knew it was time to move on and be happy. I'm so thankful for Matt and his unending support and I feel like I am finally living my dream!

Was it scary? Yes. I even contemplated putting off quitting until June or July. I even thought that it was feasible to plan and teach 9 classes a week + work my full-time job while also maintaining some sort of social life. I thought "no one quits their job? That's crazy!" No matter how unhappy I became, or how many times I would drive home crying, I just sucked it up. Until a I had a particularly bad day at the office when something just clicked.

It was a Friday afternoon and when I came home crying, I told Matt "I had enough." We worked on the budget and the following Monday, I put in my two-week notice. It felt as though heavy bricks were lifted off my shoulders. It was liberating. The following week I was offered two more cycle classes a week. It is as if all of these opportunities were flooding in.

I'm not one to toot my own horn, but I work really hard. I could have given up a long time ago. I could have taken weekend certs (or never got certified at all and began teaching...thats a topic for another day) but I didn't. I committed to my yoga teacher training, I kept my Spinning certification updated and I read everyday to be a better teacher and yogi. Hard work paid off and it is the most fulfilling thing.

I never thought opportunities were there for me. I did not grow up with a lot of means...I grew up around people who hated their jobs, but pushed through because they needed to pay the bills. I feel so lucky and fortunate to have a job that I love and not have to worry if I make a lot of money doing it.
The thing I have come to do not have to do what everyone is doing. You do not have to chase money and popularity. At the end of the day, other people are not living your life and you have to be fulfilled and live your purpose.

We deserve joy and each of us have to find what we're passionate about so that we can make this world a better place.  I love teaching yoga and cycle. I love having fun in my cycle and yoga classes and getting to know my students. It is so fulfilling and for the first time in my life I feel excited to go to "work." This has been forever in the making and it feels good. I still freak out waiting for the bottom to drop out, but I'm working on trusting the process and taking time for myself. When I opened my heart to possibility, everything began to just pour into my lap. I can say, that we are incredibly happy.

This tree was right outside of where I work on my last day (yes this is what Florida winters look like lol) I snapped this photo before I dropped my keys off. I felt like the dying leaves were not only beautiful, but they reminded me just how beautiful it is to let the dead things go. 

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

2015 Recap and Plans for 2016!

I'm finally getting around to a new years post. I spent the holidays with the flu (lucky me!) Despite my 102 fever I did have a wonderful Christmas and New Years with our families. 2015 was an incredibly important year for me. I had a lot of painful family experiences that I will not get too specific on the details. Those experiences taught me a lot. The older I get the more protective I am of my inner peace. It may have been the yoga teacher training and deepening my own practice, but something over the year empowered me to trim off all that was holding me back. Relationships that were unhealthy, self-limiting thoughts and most importantly-letting go of fear. I decided in 2015 to no longer hold space for that which harms my well-being. As hard as that was, I feel very free and empowered heading into 2016. I'm not a big resolutions gal, but I love to set intentions in my life. I enjoy the spirit of renewal in the new year, but I am so grateful for how far we have come this year as a little family and I'm so excited to keep that going in our new year.
Here is the highlights from the year: 
  1. In February we ran and completed our second half marathon! The Disney Princess Half! Read more about that here.  
  2. In March, I felt the urge to step forward and commit to a yoga teacher training and it was by far one of the scariest and greatest decisions of my life. I grew so much in my training and daily practice. I learned so much about my true self throughout that 8 months and all I want is to learn more and give more of yoga to those I meet. 
  3. In June we took our dream vacation to Paris! It was so rewarding to save up and take our dream vacation as a couple! We had an incredible honeymoon in Rome, but this felt so much more romantic and rewarding. You can read about out trip here and here
  4. We made a lot of positive steps financially in 2015. We paid off our credit cards and our car payment. We upped our health fund 2k, and met all of our retirement and personal savings this year! We accomplished this through living within our means and Matt's accountant skills ;)
  5. In December Matt graduated with his MBA and I graduated with my 200 hour yoga teacher training!
  6. Two days before Christmas I began teaching my yoga classes at Yoga Pointe here in Lakeland! :D
  7. I was offered a job at LA Fitness to teach cycle!
It has been an incredible year and we are ramping up for 2016! Here are some of the goals or intentions we have set for 2016:
  1. Travel! Matt and I love to travel together. I think we really caught the travel bug with our honeymoon in Italy. We have a trip booked and planned for Ireland and London for June! We also would like to do some more US trips. We're thinking about San Francisco/Seattle and we are planning on doing a trip with Matt's parents to NYC in the Fall. 
  2. Continue to build our savings account. I plan on making some big steps in 2016 so we are upping our savings and we plan on investing this year. Making our money work for us! ;)
  3. Move into a house. We love love love the location of our apartment (Starbucks is across the street!) But its time to be big kids and get a house. We are outgrowing our apartment, so once our lease ends in September we plan on renting a house for the time being. I'm sure the kitties will like all that extra space :)
  4. More dates and quality time. Matt and I really had a lot of personal accomplishments in 2015, but we want more fun dates together as a couple. We have always loved lounging around together, but we know that babies will be coming in the next couple of years, so we really want to soak up all the time we can together now with fun dates and spontaneous adventures. 
  5. Start teaching cycle!!! I begin teaching at LA Fitness next week (yay!) I'm currently set to teach three class, plus teach yoga and work a full time job! It is going to be crazy, but I feel so fortunate to be getting paid to work out! haha
  6. Spend more time with family. We did not do this enough last year with how busy we were. This year our intention is to really spend more time in my hometown and with Matt's family. 
  7. I am thinking about possibly enrolling in my 300 hour teacher training, but we will see! I'm just spending my time now learning as much as I can as a new yoga teacher and I will see where I am at near the end of 2016. 
With all of the terrible things that happen in the world, I feel so abundantly blessed. I have met some incredible people and saw incredible things this year. It humbles me to see how far we can go if we simply commit to persevere. I had a lot of years of feeling lost and it is so rewarding to finally be on the right track. As hard as it has been for me to learn, you cannot live in fear. You have to step forward and set fire to the path in front of you. With each painful experience I have had, I try to remember that there is always something to be grateful for. That to be alive is such a beautiful gift. 

I hope that in 2016 we see every new day as a new opportunity. 

I hope you all have a joyful and safe 2016 full of love and many blessings! 

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