Grocery Shop for Our ❤️’s 🍓

Grocery Shop for Our ❤️’s 🍓

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Hey everyone 🙂

Spending so much time with Auburn’s Sports Nutrition staff has filled my head with dozens of blog post ideas. The tough part is finding the time to put them into words!

My short-term internship project for this summer was an infographic on the health benefits of summer fruits, which I really enjoyed researching. It’s incredible how POWERFUL the simple plants that God has allowed to grow out of the ground are. There are so many compounds in fruits that you could really call “magical” – Anthocyanins in tart cherries, for example, have been shown to be almost as effective as ibuprofen at reducing inflammation. Zeaxanthin and beta-carotene, antioxidants found in cantaloupe, play a protective role in eye health. All of these compounds are at higher concentrations when fruits are at their brightest colors, which for these summer fruits, is right now! And FIBER in all fruits and veggies is so good for your heart. It lowers cholesterol, blood pressure, heart disease risk – need I say more?

Putting this into practical application –

I went grocery shopping this week, and I managed to pick up a lot of really great stuff. I’m not gonna lie to you, though, I wasn’t really thinking about heart health benefits when I was in the store. I was mainly focusing on not hitting anyone with my cart, finding the aisles I was looking for, and getting good prices. And trying to restrain myself from buying too much fresh produce, because I know I can’t use as much as I think when it’s just me. And the worst way to waste money is having to throw things away because they got moldy!

In a perfect world, we’d roam the aisles thinking about our heart health. Our brain health. Our eye health. Taking our time, selecting each item that would make us more functional human beings. What do you think about when you shop? I’m definitely prone to distraction, ESPECIALLY when walking down the cereal aisle, even though I know what I like. For me, it’s gotta be old-fashioned oats, or a hearty, grainy, lightly sweetened cereal. That’s what’s always gonna make me feel the best and fill me up for the longest. This time, I bought some wheat Chex, which I really like. But there’s always some fancy new box that wants my attention. Chocolate-covered sugar-coma granola labeled “all-natural”. New cheerios claiming to be “protein-packed” (spoiler alert – they mainly contain 4 more grams of protein than regular cheerios because the serving size is bigger, and they’ll also provide you with 16 more grams of sugar and more than double the calories per serving). The grass isn’t always greener with some new product, guys. Don’t be a victim to the chaos 😉

So, how can we grocery shop with the health of our bodies in mind? Without falling prey to distraction and needless worries while we’re shopping?

Plan ahead. And take our time selecting items as much as we can.

  1. Make a general outline of bomb-tasting healthy meals for the week – things you’re really excited to make & eat
  2. Make a list of the ingredients you’ll need
  3. Make a deal with yourself – only 1-2 additional items may be thrown in frivolously (make em count!)

If you go in armed with a plan, you’re much more likely to shop well and ultimately consume a healthier diet. And this can affect much more than just how your pants fit – though that is a huge benefit. Your ability to focus, your memory, sleep quality, exercise quality, and mood can all be improved by eating a healthy diet. And a healthy diet in turn becomes something that you can feel, and that you will want to seek out – what does my body really want right now to feel truly good?

You might think that if you let yourself think that way, you’d hear your body whisper “chocolate cake” every second. Maybe if you’re listening only to the taste buds and the cravings. But after a while those fade, and then what about your brain? Your tummy? Your heart? Does your body enjoy being loaded down with sugar and sleeping off a food coma? Not really – it likes being energized and lively so you can go do things in the world.

A “discipline is the only way” approach might work for a little bit… but it can leave you still thinking about what you “want.” And in reality, the cake might be what you need some days, for your emotional well-being! But, if you stop and listen – something else might be more satisfying right now. Are you someone who doesn’t think you like eating “healthy” foods? I’d guarantee there are some you do like. Watermelon? Yogurt? Grilled Chicken? Roasted carrots, or potatoes? I bet you can find a few. Start small, and grow from there. Taste buds really can change, and the cooking and preparation of something can make a huge difference. For example – my family recently discovered that roasted beets are super yummy. Pickled beets… not our thing. But that’s okay! You just need to find a way YOU like! A beet is a beet!

And if you like a lot of “healthy” foods, but you like all the other foods too…

Remember that your best diet is a beautiful compilation of foods that do your body good – physically, mentally, and emotionally. This will vary based on your genetic makeup (metabolism, food preferences, intolerances), the season of life you’re in, the amount of time you have to prepare food, how long you’ve been cooking or eating well, various holidays, and family culture – but good nutrition is all-encompassing! It allows all of that to fit into a healthy, happy lifestyle. Your diet is everything that you eat, all the little small decisions, which add up to a huge picture of your health. With improving your health, body, choices, and habits, the key is consistency. And eliminating the stress of doing everything “right.” Just let yourself try your best, and then simply be. So much can be gained from slowing down and allowing yourself to think about your food choices, instead of rushing and self-sabatoging your health.

At the same time that little “poor” decisions get lost in the huge puzzle of a good diet, all the little decisions add up to form the picture that is your diet. So it is in the little choices that we’ll find health and success!

So, back to the shopping. What can you do if you want to improve your food choices? How should you plan for your next grocery trip? If you want to really give your body the fuel it deserves, and love doing so – here’s a few tips for your list.

  1. Start with your protein. 🍳
    • Great dinner choices are lean meats like chicken, turkey, fish, lean cuts of beef, pork tenderloin, or any of the many varieties of beans (combine with whole grains for a complete protein). Lunch protein can easily be dinner leftovers, repurposed into a salad or sandwich, or nut butter on anything. At breakfast, I love soymilk or soy yogurt (feel free to go for nonfat dairy, soy just makes my little tummy feel the best), almond butter, or eggs, for protein.
    • This week, I bought a big box of frozen (minimal additives) turkey burgers, so that I can pull one out and grill it when I want it! The other nights, I’ve had black bean & brown rice bowls, and I’ve still got some frozen baby shrimp and frozen chicken-maple sausage in the freezer for when I want to mix it up. Freezers are magical when you don’t go through things quickly!
  2. Fill out your meals with veggies. 🥒
    • I love keeping a container of greens (arugula, baby kale, and baby spinach rock) around so I can turn anything into a salad for lunch, or have a side salad with dinner. And – they’re great sautéed into your eggs with some salt and pepper. If you haven’t tried baby kale with eggs – please do. Game-changer.
    • Roasted veggies are AMAZING. And easy. Stay tuned for my next blog post on making ANY veggie delicious 😉
    • FROZEN VEGGIES – always have them in your freezer. They’ll be there when you need them!
    • It can also be nice to find a veggie you really like to snack on (with or without hummus)! Bell peppers, cucumbers, sugar snap peas, and crinkle-cut carrots are my go-to.
  3. Make sure you’ve got grains. 🍞
    • I’d argue it’s easiest to mess up here. Because there are SO. MANY. OPTIONS. With bread and cereals, anything packaged, stick to this rule – a whole grain as your first ingredient, and the shortest ingredient list you can find. With cereals, aim for less than 10g sugar/serving (<5 even better!)
    • Brown rice over white, whole wheat pasta over regular, you get the idea.
    • Why? Fiber is healthy for your heart, and when it’s stripped away (white bread, etc.), things get kind of… weird. Messing with nature’s package too much. It’s missing something it was meant to have.
    • HOWEVER – the goal is to eat whole grains for at least half of your grains. That leaves you a lot of room for wiggle. The weirdness will only get you if you MOSTLY eat nutrient-stripped grains. It’s the big picture, folks!
  4. EAT ALL THE FRUIT. 🍒
    • This one’s easy. Buy it – fresh or frozen. Add it to cereal. Smoothies. Yogurt. A bowl. Supplement your diet with all the fruits – as much as your budget will allow, that is! You aren’t going to mess up here!
  5. The things you love.  💕
    • For me – the cart ain’t complete without almond milk, air-popped popcorn for snacking (it’s whole grain and actually a really good choice!), and probably one special drink of some sort (a kombucha, vitamin water, iced coffee, etc.) 😊
    • Every couple of months, some dark chocolate, halotop ice cream, or graham crackers might make it in my cart. #faves. Make room for your faves when your heart tells you to! And when you buy them, savor ’em!

Did I forget anything? There you go. My guide to grocery shopping. These items are gonna nourish you all the way to your heart, because fruit & veggie vitamins promote blood health, and fiber reduces blood pressure, helping to prevent added stress on the heart. So you can rest easy knowing your diet’s keeping your blood pumping!

Here’s some meal-spiration 🙂 –

 

 

 

Eating well, with a relaxed yet intentional attitude, helps you live well. And longer. And it boosts your self-esteem just by simply doing it.

Stay bright!

Rae

Your Best Body

Your Best Body

Hey gorgeous (or handsome), you already have a great body 🙂 We only get one, and it’s honestly so amazing what it’s able to do. It’s the vessel we live through, and without it we’d be nonexistent and useless. You can make a vast difference in this world through your body no matter WHAT it looks like.

HOWEVER – we are all allowed to have goals and aspirations! It feels so good to feel good and healthy, and proud of the fitness and appearance and strength of our bodies. At times I have let others tell me that I shouldn’t aspire to a healthier, fitter body, or that I shouldn’t set high goals because I “might not be able to” reach them. Yes, while we must be happy with who we are in this moment, we are SO allowed to improve our bodies. Lift heavier. Run harder. Experiment with changes in our diets. Tone up. Lean out. We are allowed to pursue more defined abs, and more muscular shoulders to do pull-ups with. We should never let these things define us – but wouldn’t it be fun to see ourselves make the progress we’ve dreamed of?

Aside from aesthetic and functional improvements, we can pursue health solely because our body deserves it. It’s respect. If you’re a Christian, your body is the place where God’s spirit dwells! It deserves to be taken care of in the best way. Personally, I’ve struggled with both obsessing over perfection of health and giving up – just eating everything I wanted in order to feel good. Sometimes, I’ve even struggled with both extremes in the same day. Can you relate? Have you ever measured out your cereal just perfectly in the morning, flicking one piece back into the box, only to dive face-first into the nut jar later without a care in the world? Our bodies deserve so much more stability than that. More love and care.

Discipline is good, and healthy, and necessary for us in all aspects of life. If you think about people you respect, they probably put a good deal of discipline towards the things that they love and succeed at. Discipline in school gets you the grade – show up to class, study what the teacher says until you understand it. Of course, you aren’t going to study every second, but you’re going to study the right things, and you’re going to put effort towards it. The same principles apply to diet. Eat for your goals, move closer to your goals… eat however you want, move further away from your goals (or maybe stand still if you’re lucky). Of course, every little bite doesn’t make or break the bank, but an accumulation of little bites will. The planning and effort have to be there. As a general rule, reaching toward our goals is healthy, is admirable, and will help us achieve them.

So what prevents people from wanting to change their diets/lifestyles to reach their health and body goals? Whether it’s losing 50 lbs., pursuing better bodily health, or just leaning out the legs a bit for summer?

  1. Not knowing how.
  2. Fear of failure.
  3. Fear of discomfort.

Let me just settle these. #1 – If you really don’t know how, I’m going to teach you – keep in mind, there’s always more things to learn, but you don’t have to know everything to make some progress. Also, it’s fun to keep learning. #2 – Complacency is always, always worse than failure! Even if you fail, it’s worse to have never tried. And if you fall, you can get back up and try a different approach until you make it! #3 – Discomfort will come for you if you don’t seek it out. If you’re not willing to fight it during your race, it will come for you afterwards when you see your time on the clock at the finish line. If you’re never willing to feel it in your eating habits – never willing to wait till you’re truly hungry to eat, never willing to say no to anything yummy – discomfort is coming for you later when you have to face not meeting your goals.

So let’s get started.

I’m about to share the most basic (nutrition-based) method for determining what will get you to your goals. Let’s say you’d like to tone up before summer. You want to lean out a little bit, and keep your muscle mass, so you’ll look good on the beach. Let’s call you Jane, and let’s say you weigh 145 lbs, are lightly active on a regular day (maybe some cleaning, walking, etc.) and plug your numbers into the MyFitnessPal app (myfitnesspal.com works just as well). Technology makes this all so simple to figure out. We like to complicate things, but I’m taking away your excuses here.

Here, I put in “your” stats. Now it’s time to choose a goal – let’s say there are 5 weeks till summer, and Jane thinks she’d like to lose about 5 lbs. by summer.

I’ve set your goal to lose 1 lb. a week, which will totally get you there! And, because we want to make sure you preserve muscle mass, let’s up your protein a little. Here’s what you need to eat in a day – as stated above, 1,490 calories – 168g carbohydrates, 93g protein, and 50g fat. How are you going to do that?

Here’s your blank canvas – a new day. Tap on add food, and we’ll start with breakfast. You can plan it out in here, or log as you cook, or after you eat. Let’s say you cracked an egg… here’s an egg. 72 calories, 6.2g protein. You add that to your breakfast. Then you made an omelet out of that egg, with 1/4 cup of egg whites and some spinach. You popped a couple of pieces of toast in the oven with just a dab of butter on them, and then ate all this with a side of gorgeous strawberries. Here’s breakfast –

myfit bfast demo

And it’s setting you right on track to your goals. Check this out.

We’ve had a good chunk of the protein we needed, some sustaining carbs, and a little fat. We just have to do this 2 more times, and balance any snacks and drinks we might have in as well. You can monitor progress here, see your totals all day, and give it your best shot at reaching your goals! Many people call this method “tracking your macros” – trying to consume goal quantities of the macronutrients (carbs, fat, and protein) – and sweat by it as a great method of accountability. It gets easier as you learn about tracking, and what’s in the foods you commonly eat. You’ll quickly discover that one chicken breast has generally about 20g of protein. Boom. See, it’s already getting easier!

This system has also been nicknamed “If It Fits Your Macros” or “IIFYM,” because, well, you can make progress eating even some “not-so-healthy” foods if they fit your macros! For example – I could have a donut for breakfast, and make the rest of my day fit around that. However, after a few days on IIFYM, you’ll realize that you’d rather have that big ole’ breakfast of egg whites and oatmeal, because it’ll fill you up more for a whole lot less “cost.” You can get way more volume when consuming foods like lean meats, fruits, veggies, etc. It’s way cheaper, if you think of the macros like money. But, if you want the donut, you can splurge, and it’s totally cool! Then a big cheap salad with chicken for lunch balances you back out.

All goals aside, MyFitnessPal and other diet trackers can be a great tool for evaluating your diet and where you’re “at.” You can see your daily consumption of many vitamins and minerals, and you can assess this over a few days and see what you need to work on (like iron, potassium, or even protein – those are what I’ve noticed in my stent of tracking lately). You become more aware of what you’re eating even after tracking for just one day, and can think about the positives of what you’re doing and what you might work on.

It can also be a great tool to help with weight maintenance. You can check in every so often, log your weight, and compare it on a graph with your weight over time, even if you only log it once a month. Then, you can even plug in what you ate yesterday, compare it to MyFitnessPal’s estimated calorie needs for your day, and see what is or isn’t working for you. You can see weight trends over time, and think about what you were doing at times when you were most happy with your weight, even if you never log a single bite. There’s also a new progress picture feature, and you can use it to make before-and-after’s! Because, remember – it’s not all about weight.

MyFitnessPal can also be used to work on gaining a little muscle. You can set a goal to gain a certain amount per week, increase your protein a bit, and lift weights like crazy. I may try this at some point, after I shift my focus away from running and more towards overall fitness. I’ll let you know how it goes if I do!

Once we’ve got our plan – lose fat, gain muscle, or just get healthier – and we’ve taken the leap to go for our goals, what stops us from being able to to reach our goals?

  1. Our own conflicting desires. We want it, but we want cake more.
  2. Others, who knowingly or unknowingly tempt us into falling off the wagon.
  3. Not enough preparation for when “life happens.”
  4. Lack of progress – needing to tweak the plan or get help, and giving up instead.
  5. Stress – is tracking too much for you?

Sometimes, you have to fight against your own emotional desires that conflict with your true needs and goals. Remember, you want to treat your body well, not abuse it, and that means for the long haul. Other times, others will unknowingly try to drag you down when you’re actually feeling strong and good. It’s not their body, so ignore them! I’d love to do a whole post on shaking off the “well-intentioned” comments of others. I think I will. Also, you need to be prepared for when “life happens” – when you get hung up at work and are tempted to grab “something quick” on the way home – oh wait, I prepped my meals on Sunday. I’ll just go home and have my wonderful grilled fish and baked sweet potato fries that’s waiting on me. Preparation is good. Or if you’re in class forever, but you remember you threw an apple in your bag, so you eat that as soon as you get out and then can think rationally about your decision. And finally, don’t let lack of progress derail you! It takes time, and hey, you might need to reassess your activity level and adjust your macros. You might need to throw in another workout, or see a dietitian for more professional help. Whatever the case, don’t give up on your goals just because you’re not getting there overnight! It’s going to be worth it!

If you don’t think you can manage to track all the time, take heart – you can use it as a means for awareness, and remember how it felt to hit your calorie goals one day. Model your other days after that! When you’re a seasoned pro, you’ll even be able to estimate the macros in a meal if you wanted to!

My final advice – treat yourself. Make health and fitness fun. Because, especially when you look good, it so is!

new treats - order
$30 hoard from Poshmark!
treat yo self
I love online shopping!!
swell bottle
Feelin s’well. And super hydrated.

Be well,

Rae

Disclaimer – I don’t track my macros all the time – only if I have specific goals or want to check in with how I’m doing on my consumption of certain nutrients. Other times I eat intuitively, which involves listening to my body, its hunger and fullness cues, etc. I’m also not a dietetic professional yet, so don’t take any of these tips as medical advice. Use them at your own discretion, and consult a RD or RDN if you need help determining the right intake levels for you.

Choosing Your “Central Perk”

Choosing Your “Central Perk”

I’ve noticed during my recent “Friends”-watching that no two members of the group have the same coffee order when they sit down in their corner at the Central Perk. Joey’s usually involves a muffin, and who can forget Episode 1 where Ross tears Rachel’s sweet-n-low packets for her? When their drink orders get mixed up, everyone is quick to switch. You obviously want your own order, not someone else’s. But how do you know you’ve chosen the best cup for you? And why are there so many options in coffee shops today?

Many people suffer from “coffee shop anxiety.” As they approach the board, their eyes are overwhelmed by the long lists of words and flavors and brews… it’s a little crazy how many different drinks we call “coffee.” If you’re clueless about coffeeshop choices, this post should clear up a lot of the confusion. If you already have your standard order down pat, keep reading – you might see a modification here that you could use to make it even better and better for you.

The cardinal rule I try to follow is to eat/drink to feel better afterward than I did before – not worse. To benefit myself, and not harm myself. A sugar coma or a sick tummy does not make me feel better, nor does it benefit my long-term health. Who wants to feel gross, just because some calorie-bomb drink tasted good in the moment? Trust me, I’ve made good choices and bad – and I’d say that for me the good choice generally leads to a better mood, a more successful day, better self-esteem, and better choices afterward. Remember, it’s not any one choice, but the accumulation of your choices over time that defines your diet. Having good go-to’s takes the guess work out of eating out, too. When you’ve ordered something lots of times, it becomes a stress-free decision, and you won’t have to expend as much energy making that choice as you did the first time.

iced coffee

I’ve been attending a small group for a couple of weeks that meets at the local coffee place, Village Coffee. So, everybody’s gonna ask you what you ordered (naturally) to break the ice. This got me thinking about whether my order defines me as a person – am I a 12oz sugar-free vanilla soy latte girl, forever? Nope, I’m still just Rae. And guess what – I can be a cafe misto, or hot tea, or black coffee kind of girl whenever I’d like.

I’ve got 3 big tips that will take any order to its healthiest level – and here they are. These are the foundation of my coffeehouse philosophy.

  1. Choose your base wisely. If you’re having a drink that contains a good bit of milk (most “coffee” drinks that aren’t plain brewed coffee), I recommend choosing either non-fat (skim) milk, or non-dairy milk. This will bring the total calories and fat way down for your drink (and it still tastes heavenly). If you’re using cream or whole or 2% milk in your brewed coffee, remember that a little goes a long way.
  2. Cut (back) the sugar. Nix whipped cream to do yourself nothing but good; skip drizzles and extra syrup shots. Consider sugar-free syrup if you’re okay with occasional consumption of artificial sweeteners.
  3. Simpler can be better. My stand-by at coffee shops is a modification of the classic vanilla latte, but on the daily I drink brewed coffee. I feel no need to branch out into crazy stuff with triple-flavored names… those often involve multiple syrup shots, which isn’t going to be healthier. I recommend sticking with one flavor shot!

You can use these tips to give any drink a healthy upgrade. If you’d like a little more insight into ordering, here’s an overview of some of the top order categories, and how to approach them.

coffee and cereal

BLACK COFFEE – There are always a few “purists” who drink it black, or with a little cream or sugar, and wouldn’t have it any other way. This is definitely one of the most budget-friendly, waistline-friendly options, and it’s universally served. There’s likely no coffee shop where you won’t find it. With black coffee, just watch the amount of cream/sugar you add, and you’ll be fine. For your reference, 1 tablespoon of half and half contains 20 calories (1.7g fat, 0.6g carb, and 0.4g protein). I’d usually use 2 tablespoons, so that’d be 40 calories. Sugar contains 15 calories per teaspoon (or packet), all from 4.2g carb. Doctoring up your coffee with 2 tbsp of half and half and 1 tsp sugar = A fairly tame cup, at 55 calories, 3.4g fat, 4.8g carb, and 0.8g protein. If the coffee’s good, I’ll usually go with a splash of cream and skip the sugar.

Some places will offer milk, and you can use a little more of this for less fat and calories than half and half. It’s less concentrated, but you can use more. You can use 1/2 cup skim milk for the same caloric value as 2 tbsp half and half, and none of the saturated fat – and you’ll also get 4 g of protein. 2% milk is a happy medium – creamier than skim milk, a little more fat but less than half and half, and 31 calories per 1/4 cup.

Artificial sweeteners are another swap you can try – keep in mind you’re only saving 15 calories per packet, and they may give your coffee a slightly different taste.

{If you are diabetic, the artificial sweetener is the best choice for you if you need it, because it won’t spike your blood sugar like sugar does. There are varying opinions on artificial sweeteners – some believe they can cause more cravings for real sugar. They have been shown to aid in weight loss, however, when they replace sugar. It’s ultimately your call – do your own research by using google scholar, or finding analyses of artificial sweeteners by RDN’s or RD’s on youtube/blogs/etc.}

Smiley face mug - happy yellow coffee

There are really so many options for fixing a cup of coffee. Lately, at home, I’ve been using 1/4 to 1/2 cup almond or cashew milk in mine and loving it. 1/2 cup provides almost a quarter of your recommended daily calcium intake, is free of sugar and saturated fat, and makes your coffee nice and creamy for just 15 calories. It tastes better to me than dairy milk, so I use it whenever I get the chance. The only drawback is less protein, but we can get that from many other sources during the day. Many coffee shops are beginning to offer almond milk as an option for lattes, etc. – so if this is the case at your favorite place, you could ask them to give you a splash (they’ll keep it behind the counter in their fridge). You can also ask for a cafe misto or cafe au lait – half brewed coffee, half steamed milk of your choice. These are fabulous and I do get them sometimes – they tend to cost a little more than a cup of coffee, but a little less than a latte.

LATTES – My usual, if I want to treat myself. The latte is likely the most classic and widely ordered hot drink in the U.S. It’s steamed milk and espresso, with (optional) a syrupy flavor of your choice. A plain latte (no syrup) can be good if you’re in the right mood. Give it a shot if you can handle things less sweet, but still want to sip on some creamy, frothy goodness. Sugar-free syrups are also an option, and, though made with artificial sweeteners, will save you approximately 20 calories and 5g sugar per pump. Key here is your milk – a classic latte is made with whole or 2% milk, but you can ask for nonfat, soy, or almond (if available).

Let’s compare: I’m using Starbucks nutrition facts for calculations, and no whipped cream on any of these for simplicity’s sake.

12oz (Tall) Whole milk latte with vanilla syrup: 220 calories, 9g fat, 27g sugar.

12oz (Tall) Nonfat latte with vanilla syrup: 150 calories, 0g fat, 35g sugar.

12oz (Tall) “Skinny Vanilla Latte” (Nonfat milk, sugar-free vanilla syrup): 100 calories, 0g fat, 12g sugar. Note, the sugar here comes from the milk – it’s a natural sugar, known as none other than lactose.

12oz (Tall) Skinny Vanilla Latte with Soy Milk – 140 calories,  4g fat, 12g sugar. Great for those who prefer non-dairy, but not more calorie-efficient than the skinny.

12oz (Tall) Skinny Vanilla Latte with Unsweetened Almond Milk: 80 calories, 5g fat, 0g sugar. Niceeee. Less protein, though. Almond milk isn’t as widely available as soy, either. It’ll get there one day.

latte

CAPPUCCINOS – Traditionally much like a latte, with more foam. Same principles should apply here that would to a latte. Cappuccinos are traditionally plain, unsweetened, but you can ask for any flavoring you like to be added.

MOCHAS – A mocha is much like a latte, but with mocha sauce in place of the flavored syrup. This is generally going to give you a higher calorie drink, depending on how much sauce the barista uses. A 12oz nonfat mocha = 190 calories, 2g far, and 27g sugar. Some places, like Starbucks, will offer skinny mochas, with sugar-free mocha sauce – 110 calories, 1g fat, 12g sugar. Not bad- very similar to a skinny latte.

MACCHIATOS – Coffee with a splash of milk, syrup, and often a caramel drizzle. Can be similar in nutritional value to a latte – a 12oz Starbucks skinny macchiato is 100 calories, 1g fat, 14g sugar. Here’s one below – yum. Often served iced – the main reason it’s not my go-to (I like my drinks hot!).

macchiato

FRAPPES – I thought they were dangerous territory. Guess what – You can order a tall “Coffee Light Frappuccino” at good old Starbs’ for just 90 calories. “Cafe’ Vanilla Light” for 130. Really?! Who knew. They get a bad rep because they look so decadent, with their swirly whipped cream and fancy lids – but here on the light, we’re nixing the whipped cream. Wanna hear the stats for the original Cafe Vanilla Frappucino? The big one you’ll see people toting around – a 24oz Venti? 530 calories, 16g fat, and 88g sugar. Good grief!

It’s worth noting that at smaller coffee shops, frappes are usually made from a pre-made mix, and may not be this customizable (while lattes, cappuccinos, etc. will be). You can always, always ask, but you might not be able to get a skinny frappe just anywhere. In this case, I’d go with an iced drink – Iced coffee with a splash of milk and a shot of vanilla syrup, or an iced skinny latte, mocha, etc.

Note- size. I looked at the small (12oz) size in this post because that’s what I’m usually after. If I want a treat, I’m treating myself, and the small is special enough for me (but it’s totally up to you, and personal preference, and your caloric needs). You can calculate the calories for any beverage you’d like easily by searching it online and maybe talking with the barista if necessary. If size is more important to you, you can choose a lighter drink than maybe you would if you were getting a smaller one. If you’ve just worked out really hard, or have higher caloric needs, your body could probably handle more discretionary calories being spent here. Remember – it’s all about meeting your body’s own personal needs on that given day. All foods can fit.

Not a coffee drinker? You can opt for these yummy options:

  • Hot tea (your best bet – 0 calories, and you can add milk or honey if you’d like)
  • Iced tea (go with an unsweetened variety and add your own if needed)
  • Chai latte – switch out your milk for skim or another lighter milk
  • At Starbucks – a hot vanilla creme with nonfat milk (a slimmed down, vanilla version of hot cocoa!)
  • Hot apple cider
  • Hot cocoa brewed with water instead of milk
Pukka love tea hot chamomile rose
Yummmmm.

Coffeehouse grub? A lot of it offers you little nutritional value in a highly attractive and sugar-y package. Muffins, scones, cookies… think of them as an occasional treat, not a regular purchase, and split them with a friend. You’ll enjoy it more, because you have somebody to “mmmmm” with, and you’ll obviously eat less!

Decent breakfast choices offered at some coffee shops include oatmeal (watch your sugar and toppings), whole grain breads, fruit bowls, breakfast sandwiches on whole grain english muffins with topping such as eggs, egg whites, spinach, etc. The more progressive places, like Mama Mocha’s in Auburn, Al, are offering killer healthy lunch options like Kale salads! Yum.

highlands

Choose based on your coffee place’s best options, your personal needs on that given day, and how much you’re willing to spend. Doing that, you can’t go wrong! And remember – don’t be afraid to switch up your classic order. You can be whatever kind of coffee drinker you want to be, today.

Stay bright,

Rae

 

Be still.

Be still.

There are rough days when it seems impossible to stay on the wagon of life. Whatever it might be for you… School/work seems too hard. You feel dumb. Maybe you’re under a cloud of depression and you don’t know why. Maybe you feel unable to control your expressions of anger, fear, or insecurity. Maybe the world is getting you down.

Maybe it’s you that’s getting you down. It seems like that should be easy to fix, right? When we experience self-doubt, though, it can feel impossible to escape. We don’t believe in our own ability to help ourselves out. That’s the problem. This can be related to any area of life – sometimes it’s everything at the same time. Even the pursuit of a good diet, or kindness, or personal achievement can add stress to our lives and make us feel inadequate when we don’t live up to our own high standards.

When you come to that place – we’ll call it the storm – where your emotions are just falling apart, and you don’t know where to go… here’s a plan of action that will save your life. Courtesy of Herbert Cooper, message at churchofthehighlands.com.

  1. Stay on the Ship. Just keep going. Stay where you are. Breathe, trust, seek God.
  2. Be Still and Chill. Take a time out. Rest, and ditch worry and doubt. You know why?
  3. Praise God in the Storm. It’s not up to you to handle. He will get you there.

God can take you to your destination on broken pieces.

No matter what worries you. No matter how bad you’ve messed up. No matter how other people make you feel or how they insult you. No matter how little you believe in yourself. You can believe in Him.

When in doubt: Put on your fuzzy jacket, get some good lunch, and watch a sermon.

Response to The Daily Post: Prompt of the day for 3/2/17 – Doubt.

Best Dressed

Best Dressed

For the first few years of college, I really enjoyed the freedom of getting to wear whatever I wanted (that was athletic wear to class, all day, every day). I think it was actually good for me. We had a stricter dress code in high school, and I never really got to feel comfy at school. It wasn’t the dress code’s fault… but I just felt so much pressure to look “right” every day.

A lot of it, I put on myself, because I never felt like I measured up. I never, ever skipped mascara, and my outfit had to follow all the school rules but still make me look perfect. On a day when I didn’t feel super skinny, or my hair didn’t fall just right, you’d better believe it was even harder to get out of the house. You’d never be able to count all the mornings I spent stressing in front of the mirror, changing one more time, running to the car, and wondering “what will people think of me today?” all the way to school.

Enough re-living that. I really embraced RAE again in college, and I realized I can be proud of who I am without so much smoke and mirrors. I love not having to squeeze into stiff, tight jeans if its just not my best day. I love not having to worry about getting carded in the hall because my shirt is 5 fingers below my collarbone instead of 4. It’s amazing to be able to use my own judgement on what is and isn’t appropriate.

This year, I feel like I’ve realized something huge – Being proud of who I am allows me to take care in my appearance. It can actually be fun picking out a nice outfit and trying on new eyeshadow colors. Instead of trying to impress others, now I like dressing cute because it shows how I feel on the inside. It shows that I feel good about myself, and it makes me feel empowered to accomplish a lot and make other peoples lives better.

makeup

You know what else? Dressing cute doesn’t mean you have to dress “up” every day. I feel good when I wear things that make me smile! I read a book during Christmas break on the art of tidying – the author insists that you only need things in your closet that spark joy when you pick them up. You know what really sparks joy? My otter socks that my friend Naomi got me for our team sock-swap. The snowman sweatshirt my “might-as-well-be-family” friend Tiffany got me for Christmas this year, along with the matching fuzzy socks and my sweater leggings. I pick things I like no matter if anyone’s gonna see them or not, because now I’m dressing for me. When I honor my appearance, I make better choices (diet is better, more school work gets done… I even clean more).

There’s also this thing we have called the Trojan Way – It involves dressing appropriately for the occasion. Like you’re proud of yourself. Like you go to Troy University, and you love it. Like you’re happy and you’re going to go big places in life. Each occasion calls for something different – maybe a dress, maybe jeans, maybe tights – but you ultimately get to decide each day when you wake up what you want to look like. And… even if you don’t get to choose what you wear, you get to own it with a smile. It really is the most beautiful thing you can wear – and it took me a long time to actually believe that was true.

And you know what’s behind a really beautiful smile? An honest one, that lasts? Confidence in something greater than you. Because, if you’re anything like me, you’ll never be enough. But when you remember that you’re chosen, pursued, and loved by the God of the universe – worth dying for (thank you, Jesus!) – that’s when you have the ability to truly shine and sustain it for the rest of your life.

Much love,

Rae