You Don’t Need a Makeover: Food Freedom Friday


You don’t need a makeover.
Yep, you read that right – no matter your weight, size, shape, gender or age, you DON’T need a makeover. The fitness/diet industry does. 


Imagine if you had a store that sold a single size of clothing – or offered a single, specified entree – or if Jamba Juice offered ONE smoothie?

It’s illogical to sell one specific item because we all know people are different. Some people like berries, some people like citrus fruits. Some people are short, others are tall. 

Yet, the diet and fitness industry gets away with selling us a single ideal per gender – a tall, muscular, chiseled and well portioned man, coupled with a slender, yet muscular, yet still distinctly feminine woman. And they make billions of dollars a year on the mere fact that the majority of the population is physically incapable of achieving the image they’re selling.


If you sell an unreachable image, customers will never stop buying. If we all looked perfect, why would we buy powders and pills and capsules and workout programs? There’s no money in the achievement; there’s money in the chase. 

So no, you don’t need a makeover. Healthy eating and exercise do yield a wonderful breadth of benefits, like increased energy, deeper sleep, higher dopamine and serotonin levels, better focus and cognitive function, improved digestive health, and the list continues. But being healthy looks different on every. single. person. Be you, and be healthy if you choose – but don’t let clever marketing and photoshop make the choice for you.

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Waimanalo Pumpkin Patch!

img_3622I absolutely love October. Even on the island, October means the wind and waves pick up, the weather cools down, and the rains come down. It’s perfect weather for hiking and, with enough rain, the Koolau’s weep with plentiful waterfalls. It’s awesome.

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In the spirit of fall, we headed to Waimanalo Country Farms’ pumpkin patch. Nestled between the sea and majestic Koolau mountains, the farm sits on an idyllic plateau perfect for pumpkin-patching and photo ops.

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Bama had a great time picking out her own mini-pumpkin! If you’re in Hawaii during the next month, you’ve got to go!

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The four of us ended up taking home a ton of pumpkins. Thankfully, my friend brought this hand wagon to lug them through the farm.

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Waimanlo Country Farms is famous for its delicious Nalo-Made Lemonade. I got a Li Hing (a local spice) Lemonade in this super cute, reusable jar.

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We lugged our pumkins up to the sunflower patch, which is up on a little plateau and right below the mountains. Amidst all the sunflowers, you can even see a glimpse of the ocean on the opposite side.


We also found a few activities, but the gaint pumpkin beer pong game was definitely our favorite.

 

Finding Food Freedom


The interwebs is already a scary place, but the health/fitness/nutrition interwebs are both confusing and terrifying. On a daily basis, we’re bombarded with conflicting scientific studies championing one lifestyle while demonizing another. We’re affronted with a flurry of self-proclaimed ‘wellness experts’ with zero educational or scientific background, shouting from the social media rooftops that eating 30 bananas a day or all raw food or bone broth or organ meat is the answer to all of your health problems.

Sugar doesn’t cause diabetes; fat does! Sugar causes diabetes and cancer! Cut out carbs to cure that ‘mental fog’! All sugar is evil! Stevia is the sweetener we’ve all been looking for! Stevia is the same as all other sweeteners! 

The reason this industry succeeds in confusing every possible ingredient and/or food group is because Americans are easy prey. Most of us are sick, all of us have a family history of health problems, and nobody wants to bring on cancer because they couldn’t afford the organic spinach.

It’s something that has personally terrified me for as long as I can remember. As a slightly chubby kid and a curvy, muscular woman, the learned desire to not gain weight runs very deep. I want to be healthy, avoid chronic diseases and cancer, and not be crazy-stressed obsessive about food.

But, I am very obsessed with food. I’m terrified that my non-organic apples will fill my fat cells with scary toxins that will shorten my life. I’m concerned about getting enough protein; I’m alarmed by meat and dairy products. And, above all, I am very freakin confused.

A few days a go, I had a major food meltdown – which I didn’t even know was a thing, but it is. I’ve cried on the bathroom floor for many reasons, but so far, confusion over food has not been one of them; this time, though, it was.

I feel frustrated and betrayed by the general chaos and conflicting information thrown in my face every time I turn on the radio or tv, peruse podcasts, or scroll through Instagram or Facebook. More than that, I’m tired of these platforms toying with my deep-seated fears and emotions.

The truth is that I am an adult, and able to make my own choices. I innately know what’s best not only for my physical health, but my mental health as well. (Cuase that’s very important, too!) I don’t need anyone to tell me what’s right and wrong, because I’ve been living in this body my entire life. I know what it likes; what bothers it; what drives it crazy into a food meltdown.

Sorry, health and fitness industry – but I’ve got this.

Bye, Felicia.

 

Travel Tuesday: Munich, Germany


I know I fall in love easily – but in Munich, Germany, I fell hard. By the end of my first day in this sprawling, clean-cut, surprisingly green city, I was googling jobs and housing prices because I was about 80% ready to move there. It really was that damn cool.

As a German myself, I felt like Munich captured all of my favorite things and activities in one beautiful, well-planned city. Here’s a few of my favorite Munich things….

The Trails

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I loved Munich’s spider-web system of forested parks, tucked into every available nook, cranny and corner throughout the European/art/industrial-style city.

I went on a 7 mile run through the Oktoberfest grounds and found path upon path that crossed a city street and led me into a suspiciously forest-like trail to yet another city street and yet another forested trail and felt like I could just run to my heart’s content.

 

 

The Bikes


It was wonderful that a big and busy city like Munich had, on every single street, lanes for cars, a lane for bikes, and a lane for walkers and joggers. That’s the other thing I loved – the bikes. People rode bikes everywhere and to seemingly every type of thing. I saw people lugging groceries home from the farmer’s market, in heels and crisp office attire and suits casually riding home with friends. I saw baskets packed with baguettes and wine, stopped in the park for an impromptu picnic.

The Beer Gardens 

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These very magical things called Beer Gardens are so cool, and so, so German. They’re outdoor bars with big, wooden tables and benches tucked into large, gorgeous parks. Some serve gigantic portions of beer and homemade pretzels (yes, please!) while others offer German ice cream, donuts, or a full dinner spread. The gardens were packed with tourists and locals alike, and everyone seemed so settled and relaxed. It’s been a dream of mine to down a glass of beer bigger than my face in the middle of a beautiful park, and alas, it has come true. Thank you, München!

The Surfing

YES, you read that right.

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People surf – yes, with a surfboard and wetsuit and everything – on the river that winds its way through the city. It seemed that the river mouth at this particular nook of the park created an artificial wave, which could be hopped on and ridden with a surfboard. We walked past it without realizing what it was, and were drawn by the crowds of onlookers and very out-of-place gang of barefoot teenage boys, surfboards in hand, that flocked off the bus.

When I saw the surfing, I totally freaked out. This is when the google research for my future relocated to Munich began. Biking, running, surfing, garden-beer-drinking – what more could a girl want? I mean, really?


The food was equally amazing, but will have to wait for another post, because I have too much excitement and way too many pictures.

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Vegan Marathon Munchies


As I’m gearing up for the Honolulu Marathon, my meal plan has taken shape, too. Long runs make me so beyond starving that my marathon training usually equates to months of marathon eating. It’s a vicious cycle, but it’s so freakin amazing. As a historically restrictive/borderline obsessive calorie tracker, the sky-high calorie burns from running feel like a free pass to Disneyland, in food form. Yes, please!

Naturally, though, you can’t realistically have your hard-earned cake and eat it, too. Or at least you can’t without repercussions. For me, staying light and lean makes running easier, so I have to strike a balance between my veracious appetite and what my body actually needs.

Here’s a quick snapshot of my proudly plant-based meal plan. Of course, every body is different, so this isn’t designed for anyone specifically – it’s just what I’ve found to work well for me, on and off of training season.

Meal 1: Pre-Run

I prefer to run in the mornings if at all possible so I don’t have to think about the impending run all day long. I like to have something light, so I usually eat 1/2 a banana for short runs. For long runs, I eat something like this – a piece of Dave’s Killer Bread or Ezekiel bread with powdered peanut butter (mixed with water, so it spreads thin) and a teensy bit of fruit. The fruit is important cause it gives me that burst of energy/wake-up to get out and run.

Meal 2: Breakfast

Best meal of the day, y’all! So, quick disclosure – if I do a long run, I do down a low-calorie protein shake right after. But most days I get to enjoy this beautiful cereal recipe from Engine 2 Kitchen . It’s packed with vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, good fats, complex carbs and protein to boot. Here’s my breakdown:

1/4 cup Grape Nuts, 1/4 cup old fashion rolled oats, 1/4 cup Uncle Sam’s berry flakes

1 tbsp. chia seeds, 1 tbsp. flaxseed meal

1 small banan, sliced; 1 kiwi, sliced; 10 berries of any kind

1/2 cup plant milk (coconut, almond, flax milk – anything!)

Afternoon Snack

Snacks are what I live for. Like, so seriously. I’m usually running around crazy, so for afternoon time I snack on something simple, like an apple with 1tbsp almond butter, carrots and 2 tbsp hummus, or a Larabar.

 

Lunch


I LOVE having lunch at home, where I can whip up a gigantic salad packed with a zillion veggies and topped with nuts, seeds, 1/2 cup brown rice or noodles, and some baked tofu or tempeh. Or a similar wrap!


Yet, alas, I’m usually running from meeting to meeting or apartment to apartment, so bae and I often end up eating out. Thankfully, Hawaii has tons of lighter options, so it’s easy for me to find a healthy, plant-based meal on the go. My faves are definitely summer rolls with tofu from any Thai/Vietnamese restaurant, or a veggie delight sandwich from subway on multigrain flatbread – swap cheese for avocado, and with as much veggies as possible.

 Evening Snack

I love love love snacks. My favorites around nighttime usually include fruit to satisfy my sweet tooth. I love sweet berries drizzled with pbfit (powdered peanut butter mixed with water) or bananas and peanut butter, or apples and almond butter. YUM!

Dinner


My dinner is literally the same almost every single night: grilled or sautéed veggies, brown rice or sweet potato, and a plant-based protein. My go-to’s are lentils, beans, tofu, or tempeh, but I sometimes spoil myself with a good mock meat. 

Dessert


Dessert is important, because i love myself. Lol. If I’m hungry after dinner, which I normally at if I work at night or had a long run that day, I indulge. I love a good vegan donut, some dark chocolate, or protein nice cream. 


Hope this helps!

Love,

Nicole

Week 1 of Marathon Training!

marathon memeAs always, marathon training did not exactly get off to a smooth start this year (suspiciously, just like every year so far) but hopes are still high. I kicked off the first of my 12-week training plan to get ready for the fabulous Honolulu Marathon on December 10th. I’m all about supporting my city and running on my own turf, through a course I know all too well by the time race day rolls around.

This marathon will be lucky number 5, and I’ve got myself on a pretty fun plan of preparatory races leading up to the big day. I’ve got my absolute favorite – the Xterra Gunstock Trails Half Marathon – at the end of October, as well as the Val Nolasco Half Marathon – which mimics the final leg of the real deal – in November.


I’m coming off a sprained ankle a few weeks back, so I’m treading carefully and doing my super boring ankle exercises when I actually remember to do them. On the bright side, my first long run – eight hot & steamy miles around Honolulu – went by super quick & easy. So, there’s that.

Anyways, I’m using this super flexible plan from He and She Eat Clean to train. I chose it because it’s 12 weeks (sweet!) and works in tons of cross-training, which is the only way I can mentally handle preparing for a marathon.

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Training While Injured


It’s been almost two weeks of non-soccer/non-running existence and let me tell you – the injured life is not a fun one. With lots of life changes like moving apartments & possible career shifts, it’s been a major struggle not being able to run through it all. Running is my mediation, my quiet, precious ‘me’ time, and I’m going a little bit crazy without it.

In a nutshell – resting ain’t easy.


To keep myself in shape for a busy marathon season, I’ve been supplementing as best as I can with bike riding, swimming, and lifting at the gym. The only good news is that I’m able to lift a lot heavier than usual because I’m not running. So, I’ve gotten to play around with compound movements like squats and snatches to keep myself strong.

I’ve also been stuck with the very boring task of ankle PT. I can’t explain why I hate it so much, but I totally do. I hate every second of it. I know it helps, but it’s so boring it’s like watching paint dry, except you have to be an active participant. Ugh.


Anyways, I just go cleared to ‘lightly jog’ for a few minutes and come back next week to get the final go ahead. I’m still benched from soccer, which starts this weekend, and banned from my Old Pali Road race this Sunday. So, for the next week, I’ll still be grumpy and difficult but hopefully will get my happy time back soon. 🙂

Happy Healing!

Nicole