🎉 Joie de Vivre – An Exuberant Enjoyment of Life ❤️

🎉 Joie de Vivre – An Exuberant Enjoyment of Life ❤️

Have you noticed that “the truths” of nutrition and health seem to change every day? Coffee’s good for you again. Eggs are in. No, wait, they’re out. Just kidding, we don’t know. And has anyone figured out coconut oil? It’s either magical, or it’s poison.

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Consider trends in lifestyle diets and weight-loss diets as well. High-protein, low-carb diets were quite popular in recent years (Atkins, South Beach, Zone, etc.); then high-fat, moderate protein, and even-lower-carb took the stage (Keto), and then high-carb (some forms of Vegan, Vegetarian) came into the spotlight again. People seem to have attained their best bodies or best lives on all of these types of diets, never to look back. None of these ways of eating are “bad” (though dietitians do generally advise a diet high in veggies and fruits, that provides a good balance of all 3 macronutrients, and you should definitely supplement correctly if you cut out any food groups) – but none of these are the only healthy way to eat, either. Scientists’ “unbiased research” and personal success stories surrounding certain restrictive diets can be so convincing – and so often it makes folks just wanna jump on the bandwagon real quick. I’ve been there.

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However… most dietitians will agree that one-size-fits-all diets shouldn’t be a thing, because we all legitimately have different needs. Nutritional genomics is really up-and-coming, and we’re just now discovering the magnitude of the impact that genetics has on the dietary patterns each body will thrive off of. Every single body functions a little bit differently – we may react differently to the same foods, and digest food at different speeds. We also have different goals, likes and dislikes, schedules, budgets, and lives. We can each find our healthy diet that works for us. It may even evolve and change over time, as our bodies and our lives do. So, it’s hard to pin ourselves to a diet named by one or two words, because there’s so much more to it than that.

We as humans love to have something to belong to and to follow – we were created that way. We also love to feel like we’re doing life right. Eating food that makes us feel good and good about ourselves can be a real positive – but we should certainly never feel that diet is a moral issue or something to take sides on, because according to my God, it’s not. As for Christians, diet should also never become a cause we champion more than Christ’s.

It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you, but what comes out – from your heart. (Mark 7:15)

Don’t worry about what you eat, drink, or wear, says the Lord, for he is your good Father who knows everything you need. (Matthew 6:31)

“I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 8:15)

If you’ve ever struggled with feelings of inadequacy affected by what you eat or how you look, you might have trouble believing that these statements are as true for you as they are for others. I’m telling you firsthand that they’re absolutely as true, real, and powerful as every other word of the Lord. He cares less about what you eat, and more about how you act. It matters more how much Jesus you take in daily – how much we worship, look for Him in our daily lives and the Bible, and give our hearts to Him in prayer – than how many grams and what type of protein we ingest. Though nutrition has the power to affect us, spiritual things are infinitely more important.

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Over the past few weeks, I’ve discovered this timeless foundation of dietary advice that has been there for us in God’s word for centuries. Though the world’s thoughts may waver, and though the science of nutrition is always evolving, some things can remain the same. If we can nail these down, we’ll have a filter to use on any new ideas that come at us.

If you’re not into what you’ve read so far, you’re still gonna want to hang with me. I’m serious. These truths are reassuring and helpful, no matter what you believe. They have the power to change the way you view nourishment. I’ve experienced the benefits of this advice to such an extent that I’m sure I’ll never again rely on a restrictive dietary pattern.

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  • 1 Corinthians 10:31 – Whatever you eat, drink, or do – do it all to the Glory of God. Food can easily become an attention-thief if we give it too much importance. My best tips are to enjoy food, enjoy how it enhances fellowship with others, and do your best to eat amounts that fuel you well without holding you back. Let go a bit on worrying about types of foods, and eat with a thankful and positive spirit. Food or the lack of food shouldn’t be an excuse to be grumpy or upset – not at yourself, not at the waitress, not at life.
  • Romans 14:15 – Be considerate of others by not making diet a big issue. In the early church, they worried about whether or not to take food from others because they might not know if it had been offered to idol gods. This is rarely our problem today, however, the guidance Paul gives to those struggling with that issue is still helpful for us. Don’t let something as trivial as food choices negatively affect your relationships, or your witness. Whether this means relaxing your diet a bit on certain occasions and enjoying whatever’s offered at a restaurant or somebody’s home, or, on the flipside, not indulging in a drink if dining with someone who alcohol presents a struggle for, or simply skipping the complaints about feeling fat or full – our friends/family deserve more concern than our food. You never know what others are dealing with – disordered eating, insecurity, depression, addiction – or how your hesitancy toward or overvaluing of food might affect them. By all means, treat yourself well – but consider others, too. Nothing we do is done in a vacuum.
  • Luke 12:16-21 – Don’t spend your life storing up grain (in our terms, this might relate to building up the perfect diet or body). Don’t get me wrong, preparation is good. Bettering ourselves is good. We just need to keep in mind that we never know when our last day will come. We don’t wanna have wasted our life on storing up things that’ll be gone! Focus more on the eternal. 💪🏼
  • Genesis 3:6 – Don’t let the temptation of food or drink keep you from something better. Remember that apple? She couldn’t look past it. When we become fixated on one thing, and that thing’s not God, it can really hurt us.
  • Luke 22:19 – When we eat, remember Him. Jesus refers to bread and wine here, but honestly every meal is an opportunity to remember what he did for us and who he is in our lives. So, let’s eat with gratitude! Remember that God sanctifies all foods that are received with thanksgiving.
  • Philippians 4:12 – We can find contentment in Christ whether full or hungry. 🙌🏼
  • Matthew 4:4 – Man doesn’t live on bread alone, but on every word that God speaks. God nurtures our souls through his word, which contains an invisible sort of provision for us. When Jesus said that we don’t live on bread alone, he was 40 days fasted. Sort of makes it a little more believable, right?
  • In regard to food restrictions on moral terms – Honey, meat, cheese, fish, bread, and wine (in moderation) were all consumed and positively noted in the bible, in too many verses for me list – try Proverbs 24:13, 1 Kings, 17:6, and John 21:13 to start. If Jesus wasn’t too good for ’em… neither am I.

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And my personal favorite verses on this subject:

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. Ps. 18:16

He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me. Ps. 18:19

If you have ever worried yourself to death about what you ate – because you couldn’t control it and felt guilty, or because you became obsessed about it and controlled it too much, God can set you free from that. It’s not for us to stress over. When we stress over it, our world gets small – and He wants it to be big! I can personally say that God has drawn me out of deep waters of anxiety and worry concerning many things, including what I eat. He continually brings me out into a spacious place where he reorders priorities in my mind – giving me freedom and the ability to make better choices for myself. He also reaches down from on high on the regular and takes hold of me when I need it. And it just so happens that I need it a lot, so I get a lot of love and “hugs.”

And you can too. All you have to do is ask.

xoxo 😘

Rae

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Fail-proof Roasted Veggies 🥕

Fail-proof Roasted Veggies 🥕

Hey fam 😊

Hope you’re loving summer, wherever your summer might have landed you!

If there’s one summer meal must-have, it’s grilled fish. Or grilled chicken wings. Or, grilled anything. If there’s two – oven-roasted veggies are going on at the same time.


I’d like to let you in on the secret to perfect roasted veggies, because I feel like it’s a complete game-changer. If you already know about this, you know exactly what I mean. And once you’ve got a method you like, it’s easier to want to try different veggies and easily bring a lot more variety to your plate.

Who ever thought asparagus could look so tempting? 👀


Ok. Here’s the classic “recipe” –

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You’ll need:

  • An oven
  • A baking sheet, or pan of any kind
  • A spatula
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Veggies (carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes asparagus, broccoli, etc.)
  • Other spices/parmesan (optional)

Start by preheating your oven to “bake” around 375 F, or a little hotter for potatoes. Maybe 425. You’ll figure out what works best for your oven/each veggie pretty quickly, but you can always cook longer or less depending on how toasty you want them to look!

Wash up your veggies if they’re fresh – use a scrubber to get all that dirt off 😝

(This works great with frozen veggies as well! Just pour them right outta the bag onto the pan.)

If you’re using potatoes or something bigger like that, you can chop them into thin strips, little wedges, chunks, “fries” – whatever!

The fun part- drizzle a little olive oil all over your pan of veggies. About a tablespoon for a decent-sized tray, or just enough to lightly coat the veggies.

The good fats in olive oil help us absorb more of the vitamins and minerals in veggies, so it’s a win-win for taste and nutrition.

Then, hit em with a few pinches of salt. Sea salt, pink salt, whatever! You can add other spices if you have some you really like. If you’re roasting sweet potatoes or butternut squash, you could skip the salt and add cinnamon. But they’re good salted too!

P.S. – If you’re watching your sodium, either a) measure the total amount of salt you use and make sure you don’t consume more of a serving than you need, or b) substitute other spices or one of Mrs. Dash’s salt-free seasonings. Or skip it all together, because just the olive oil will make these pretty darn good.

Once you get ready, stick your pan in the oven! You should do this about 1 hour before you wanna eat.

Cook 25-30 minutes, pull the tray out (with hot pads!), flip all the veggies over with a spatula, and cook 25-30 more.

If you wanna add some Parmesan, pull the tray out again with 10-15 minutes to go and sprinkle some on. This is especially great on green veggies like asparagus or broccoli! 😊

And after about an hour, here’s your final product!


Veggies should be crisp and lightly browned. YUM 👅

Temperature, time, etc. are totally modifiable to suit different ovens, vegetables, and tastes – but this should be a good outline to cooking veggies well. It’s hard to mess up – and if you turn the oven light on, set a timer, and stay nearby, you’re not likely to!

It’s also a nice method because you can put these in, forget about them until your timer goes off and it’s time to flip, and use that time to get the rest of your meal ready. Or, if you have some chicken or something already cooked, you can roast these and keep studying or cleaning or whatever, heat up the other stuff in the good old ‘wave, and you’ve got a super low-maintenance but awesome dinner.

This method has also been known to win over even the pickiest of veggie eaters, because it makes them taste super crispy like french fries 🍟

Hope you love ’em!

If you have (or find) a favorite roasted veggie or a favorite spice to add, let us know in the comments below!

xoxo 😘 Stay bright!

Rae

3 Keys to Race Day Eats

3 Keys to Race Day Eats

This is for my runners of all ages. No matter what race you’re running – Rumpshaker 5K or Olympic Trials 1 mile, there are 3 keys for race day eats. Besides showing up hydrated, which almost goes without saying.

1) Eat familiar foods. Know what works for you.

2) Eat the right amounts (not too much, not too little).

3) Go easy on protein, fat, and fiber, especially in the hours near the race.

Our goal on competition day is for our food choices to fuel us through the race, without causing GI (tummy) distress. It’s pretty straightforward, and all it takes is a little planning and practice to figure out what works for you.

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Repping Troy, with my lucky black bow and pearl earrings (of course.)

Race-day rituals come in all forms – the same warm-up, lucky socks, bows, earrings, etc. Many people like to have coffee on race morning, especially if they do it on the daily anyway. Studies have shown that caffeine does improve athletic performance, but beware – know your tolerance! I have anywhere from a half to one cup every morning, but I’ll skip it if my race is early. This past weekend I raced in the afternoon, so I started my day with a bottle of water and my morning cup of coffee (as always, with a dash of almond milk).

My two favorite race-day breakfasts are oatmeal and CLIF bars. I was out of oatmeal, and wanted to eat something as I was leaving the dorm anyway, so I grabbed a bar. I know they sit well with my stomach, never give me any issues, and will hold me over for about 3 hours. It’s key for me to choose the right flavor, too – some of them, like chocolate mint and chocolate brownie, are too sweet for me, and my stomach doesn’t tolerate the really peanut-y ones as well, so my favorite flavors are the Nuts and Seeds (which I haven’t found in a while), Sierra Trail Mix, Blueberry Muffin, and Chocolate Chip. But lately…

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This is just the best. THE best. It’s lower in sugar than the regular bars, and it’s coconut-almond flavored with almond butter in the center. Seriously so good. You need a race day breakfast that makes you excited to get going, and this works great for me. They were also slightly discounted the last time I was at the store! This bar has 27g carb, 11g fat, 7g protein, and 3g fiber. Consider your own body size and needs, but less is more sometimes.

Whatever bfast you choose, these guidelines should help you assure it fuels you well.

  • You’ve eaten it before running hard several times, and it’s gone well.
  • You’ve eaten it recently.
  • It contains carbs, fat, and protein – but mostly carbs. Complex carbs are great, but be careful with too much fiber. Don’t worry about your normal health goals on race day – you can up your fiber and eat omelets with veggies again tomorrow! Protein will be one of our keys for replenishing post-race, so we don’t need to worry too much about it now.
  • Portion size – you want to be comfortably full. Satisfied. Especially if your run is in the morning. If you eat slowly, you should be able to identify what amount this means for you. I’d practice race-day breakfast on a regular morning run day, just to be safe.

If you’re running a morning race, I highly recommend waking up 3 hours before the time you’d start warming up, and getting a small meal like a bowl of oats, a couple pieces of toast with almond butter or fruit spread, or a CLIF bar, in early. Drink at least a couple of bottles of water before you get out there, too – most of us wake up slightly dehydrated each morning after hours of not drinking, so you’ll want to restore your normal function. Even slight dehydration can hinder performance, and keep you from feeling your best!

I’m always afraid to drink too much on the bus, but I’d gotten another bottle in by the time we sat down at the track. And I usually try to bring some minty gum for the ride, because it keeps me feeling alert and fresh.

I snacked on some pretzel chips until lunch came. Salty foods can help ease a nervous stomach! Simple, starchy snacks like pretzels, crackers, or (low-sugar) cereal are great to have on hand for race day, because you never know when you might need something. These won’t affect you negatively unless you eat a ton of them, and are good at keeping hunger (and nerves!) at bay.
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Samford University, you are so beautiful!

For lunch, our sweet coaches ordered us sandwiches from Newk’s 🙂

I took off the cheese, tomato, and lettuce, and ate half of the sandwich. They were pretty big, and seriously it was the best bread ever! It definitely depends on your size and food tolerance, but regardless, a small meal about 3 hours before starting warmup is a good bet. I also made sure to drink two more bottles of water before we started warm-up at 3:30.

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About 15 minutes before the race, when I was at my bag, I had a sip Powerade. In a study my classmates and I did this semester, even just rinsing the mouth with a carbohydrate-containing drink prior to a maximal bout of exercise improved performance. It really works! You can drink it or spit it out, but either way your mind is tricked into thinking there are carbs on the way, so it will allow you to work just a little bit harder.

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And before you know it, you’re done again! Our lovely trainers brought us water cups as soon as we could breathe. I always let myself chill and rest after the race for at least 20 minutes, and talk to coach, see the family. I’ll watch friends finish their races, hang out, have a little gatorade, etc. It’s important to get a light cool-down in, and then I’ll start thinking about fuel again, but usually not before. Many nutrition experts recommend refueling within 30 minutes to an hour. I’ll usually have some sports drink within 20-30 minutes, and then close to an hour afterward I’ll eat a little something. Usually something that makes me happy 🙂

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Like this cookie. Thanks Coach Michelle 🙂

Go slow after the race, but you’ve definitely earned some protein, fat, and carbs. Post-exercise is the best time to refuel muscle glycogen (carb) stores, aka, the best time to enjoy simple carbs like cookies and not have the sugar converted to fat. Take my word for it and stagger your refueling – a cookie here, a sandwich in an hour, another snack later – if I don’t, I often find my stomach cramping up on the bus ride home!

You’ll definitely want some protein on race night, to keep your muscles fed and happy. They just worked really hard, and you might not have had a ton of protein already, so now’s the time. I didn’t even take a picture, but we got Full Moon BBQ, and I had a chicken sandwich with BBQ sauce 🙂 So. good. Not all people avoid veggies post-race, but I feel best if I do (if I raced really hard). Their fibrous nature can just be too much if your stomach is a little on edge. I have, however, been known to tackle a smoothie. Or, more recently…

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Cashew milk ice cream. Don’t worry, I had help with this pint. Yum!

Of course, you’ll want to keep re-hydrating like crazy all night, and the next day too (especially if it was hot!) I like to kick start the next day with a really healthy and yummy breakfast, and have a lot of fruit and veggies throughout the day. This sets me on a good track for recovery – our bodies need those nutrients! Especially if we’re doing a long run the next day, which we did.

Fuel your body well, and you’ll make the most of your performance! To sum up performance nutrition for the average person, I’d say this – Go hard on the daily when you’re training. Refuel well with prime produce, lean meats, and healthy fats. Choose good, fresh, fiber and nutrient-filled foods. Then on race day, keep things simple, and enjoy yourself a little afterward (with protein, of course). Your muscles will thank you!

Run fast,

Rae

{Remember, I’m not a dietitian yet! All of this is based on what I’ve learned so far in school, and my personal experience. If you want to develop a real race-day plan, you’ll need a real RDN – preferably one with special sports experience and certifications. Don’t take any of this as medical advice – just food for thought!}

Bright Eats for 4

Bright Eats for 4

This weekend I had the privilege of hanging out with my family for almost 48 hours straight. It was absolutely the best. Running in college and being really tied down here has truly made me appreciate the times when I do get to be with my family, because they’re far fewer than I might have hoped for. The 4 of us (Mom, Dad, Anna, and myself) are a really tight-knit group, so we keep in touch daily by phone, but it was so nice to spend actual time with my crew. Credit goes to Coach Blount for this post.

I made the trip to Auburn, Al, our weekend destination, with my friend Mikayla (also meeting up with her family). I’d like to give you a glimpse into the sights of this beautiful city, as well as some fabulous eats.

Good eats began at Chick-Fil-a of Auburn with epic salads. I love the Spicy Southwest! I saved the pumpkin seeds they give you for topping as a snack for later. They came in handy.

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Salads @ Chick-Fil-a Auburn with Mikalya!

After we parted ways, I had a late-ish dinner with my family at a local joint. This fish was O-M-G. Tilapia is so great and hard to mess up! Pretty much my go-to order at restaurants.

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Tilapia, asparagus, and mashed potatoes with a lemon glaze. Yum.

Here’s us the next day, enjoying the sights –

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My sister and I at a gorgeous manmade waterfall on campus.

Cooking for 4 can be easier and harder in some ways than cooking for 1. It’s definitely more fun to have 4 people helping out. I’d say we did a pretty good job (groceries courtesy of Publix of Auburn)! I really enjoyed having fish this weekend, because it’s harder to come by on campus. I also loved having grilled veggies and oven-toasted bread!

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Grilled salmon, sweet potato with cinnamon, asparagus, and rainbow carrots – all my favorite things.

And finally, I introduced my family to Halo Top ice cream this weekend. Yummmm. It’s higher-protein, lower-calorie, and still made from relatively simple and natural ingredients. Can’t beat it! For 1/2 cup serving, it’s 60 calories. Barely a dent in your day, but yummy enough to feel like you really treated yourself.

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When I left Auburn, my tank was fuller than when I arrived. I encourage you to strive for that type of family atmosphere – whether it be within your group of friends, home, extended family, or even just you, God, and your dog. Everyone needs a group that can help them recharge. We are physical, spiritual, and emotional beings – who sometimes forget about our need for quality fuel in each area.

PS – The eats and sights aren’t too bad in Troy, Alabama either. This is my view on the daily:

I encourage you to find the beauty (and good fuel) wherever you are!

With love,

Rae