A PLACE Full of fitness, food, and self love

Over the past few years, I have developed a passion for health, the human body, self care, and self love. My goal is to create a space that is full of fitness tips, healhty recipes, and at home "how-to's." I hope to inspire others to pursue a healthy lifestyle while facilitating discussions and creating a supportive community. BUt most importantly, I hope this can be a space where beautiful souls can learn about how to better care and love for themselves.
4 Step Meal Prep: Meat, Veggies, & Potato dish 
Sometimes at the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is spend a bunch of time and energy making a meal. Ta-da! Here is a simple solution to that problem! This meal can be prepped beforehand and thrown in the oven right before you're ready to eat, can be made quickly the night of, or can be made and packed for a lunch the next day. This is seriously one of my favorite meals to make because it's easy and also a great source of protein, carbs, and veggies all in one dish! Here is the recipe... Bon appetit! 

2 Sweet Potatoes 
1 Russet Potato 
2 Bell Peppers 
1 Yellow Onion 
4 Sausages (I prefer the Garlic Herb Chicken Sausage from Trader Joes) 
Everyday Seasoning (I buy this from Trader Joes, too!) 
Olive Oil 

Rinse the produce & potatoes, then slice the sausages & cut the bell peppers, onion, and potatoes into cubes.

Spray or rub olive oil onto the bottom of a baking sheet & then scatter the food on the sheet.

Garnish the food with any desired spices. For this recipe, I used oregano, Trader Joes Everyday Seasoning, pink himalayan salt, and rainbow pepper. When finsished, spray or drizzle olive oil on top of the food. 
Place the sheet in the oven at 350 degrees for one hour. Check occassionally because depending on your oven or the amount of food, the time may need to be adjusted! 
I hope you enjoy this SUPER easy & delicious recipe! Try it out next time you want a great meal with minimal effort. HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE! 
Symptoms of Celiac Disease & NCGS 
Unfortunately, it is becoming more and more common for people to be diagnosed with Celiac disease and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS). What are these things you ask?! Celiac disease is genetic autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. People with NCGS have the same symptoms of people with Celiac, except they are not diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Although these two conditions have numerous symptoms you may be experiencing, I figured I would run through some of the most common symptoms and give you some personal insight.

          1. Intestinal Pain 
  • Pretty self explanatory but let me further explain — If your body is not able to digest gluten and the gluten is physically destroying your villi, that’s definitely going to cause some discomfort.
  • This is a common symptom but not always the main one. A lot of people with Celiac and NCGS have damaged intestines and are malnourished, but have never experienced any type of intestinal pain. Don't rule out Celiac and NCGS even if you don't have discomfort! 

          2. Skin Rashes 
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis is a skin rash that is directly correlated to Celiac and NCGS. This is an itchy and blistering rash that is caused when gluten is ingested. John Zone, MD explains that when a person consumes gluten, the mucosal immune system in the intestine response by producing a type of antibody called Immunoglobulin A (IgA) and as IgA enters the bloodstream, it can collect in small blood vessels under the skin, triggering the blistering rash. This rash is often mistaken for eczema, so keep your eyes peeled! 
  • I experienced this rash on both of my hands and most of my fingers… random right?! I have extremely sensitive skin and have struggled with eczema my whole life, so it didn't surprise me to learn that my skin was the first thing to react to my gluten intolerance. This rash can manifest itself anywhere on the body, so pay attention to any areas that might be itchy, burning, blistering, red, and flakey. 
  • Read more about dermatitis herpetiformis here .

          3. Brain Fog 
  • This is a symptom both my brother and I struggled with, but it is SO difficult for me to explain. Imagine not being able to focus, having things turn blurry, feeling dizzy, and always feeling in a state of confusion or ‘fog’. Your mind isn't sharp, you can’t think on your feet, and you feel ‘out of it’ all the time. This symptom started slow, but quickly became worse the more I kept eating gluten. 
  • I vividly remember going out to breakfast with girlfriends, eating a big plate of french toast, and driving home after. I experienced such intense brain fog that I had to pull over on the side of the road because I felt drunk (and no, I wasn't drinking mimosas!). Kinda that same sensation of feeling drowsy, dizzy, slow to respond, and not being able to focus on anything. That was the worst my brain fog got because I started my gluten free diet not long after. But let me tell you, it’s scary stuff! 

          4. IgA Deficiency 
  • Immunoglobulin A (IgA) deficiency results when the body does not make enough IgA antibodies to fight off infection. It is directly associated with Celiac and can be tricky because it can cause a false negative on the tTG-IgA Celiac blood test. 
  • My brother’s Celiac blood test initially came back negative (even though he has the Celiac gene and it’s fully expressed!) because he had IgA deficiency. Have your doctor check your IgA levels through a blood test to avoid the frustration of receiving false negatives!

          5. Feeling Tired
  • Exhausted. Always. After every meal, I would immediately lay down and would often fall asleep. It was so uncontrollable and it felt like my body was shutting down out of pure fatigue. I could sleep 12 hours a night, take naps, and still feel like my body was working overtime.   
  • It was easy for me to know that I was feeling tired from my diet rather than just daily life because I would feel energetic all day before I ate gluten, but after eating, I would feel terrible. This cycle continued week after week and I knew that my diet directly correlated to my level of fatigue. It’s easy to begin noticing patterns when you pay close attention to how you feel and what you're eating.

          6. Losing Weight / Being Malnourished 
  • Since Celiac and NCGS destroy the lining of your intestine, it becomes difficult for your body to absorb nutrients from your food. Needless to say, your body isn't getting the nutrients it needs and it is hard to keep on weight.
  • After coming down with a nasty flu and losing 12 pounds in a matter of days, I was feeling at an all time low. Even after my flu had passed and I began to recover, I continued to lose weight and could not put the pounds back on. This was a red flag to go see a doctor ASAP because I was under 110 pounds, felt extremely weak, and always looked pale and washed out. It was two months between the time I got the flu and began eating gluten free, and I wish it had been sooner. After starting my gluten free diet, I suddenly felt better, gained weight, was getting my nutrients, and didn't look so sickly! 

          7. Depression / Anxiety 
  • This is a common symptom but not one that I personally struggled with a whole lot. I was never formally diagnosed with depression or anxiety, but there were definitely days, weeks, and months that I struggled with similar symptoms. 
  • I began to experience feelings of depression after having been sick for so long and feeling hopeless that the doctors had no answers. The uncertainty also caused me slight anxiety because I was worried that I would go months or even years without figuring out what was wrong with me. Struggling with your health is not only a physical battle, but a mental one as well. Although these are not concrete answers to whether you have Celiac or NCGS, it is always important to stay mindful of how your body is feeling and reacting.

          8. Bloating 
  • We all know how it feels to overeat and have a ‘food baby’ after a big meal. But does that happen to you after every meal? If so, start paying attention to what foods and meals you react to the most.
  • I would become severely bloated after every gluten-filled meal I ate. This bloating would last until I passed the meal, and then I would feel fine again. That was a key sign that the bloating was from food intolerance rather than just gas, menstrual cramps, etc. 

          9. Diarrhea / Constipation 
  • Sorry if this is TMI for you, but it’s such an important symptom to discuss! Simply put, if your intestines are damaged, you're not digesting food, and you're not absorbing nutrients, your BMs are going to be pretty wacky! 
  • I don't think I need to share my personal experience with you on this one, but definitely keep track of how your trips to the restroom are after your meals.

          10. Joint / Muscle Pain 
  • Eating gluten when you have an intolerance can cause inflammation in the joints and muscles. This could stem from nutritional deficiencies or overall inflammation in your body caused by the gluten. People with celiac are also at a greater risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis because they are both autoimmune diseases.
  • Although I never experienced these symptoms, both my mom and brother did. This was a key symptom that helped my brother seek out a doctor. Be mindful of how your body is feeling and keep track of all symptoms you're experiencing.

To take a short quiz to see if you could be at risk for Celiac or NCGS, visit the Celiac Disease Foundation website .

Here is a simple homemade smoothie bowl recipe!!! This is my absolute favorite lunch -- only takes a few minutes, a few ingredients, AND is gluten free, dairy free, and vegan! This recipe makes about one serving. ENJOY! 

3 cups of frozen fruit
Granola (I like KIND Oats & Honey!)
Flaked Coconut 
Chocolate Chips (Enjoy Life brand is vegan/dairy free/gluten free!)

Throw all the fruit in the blender and add orange  juice or water if it has trouble blending. Then, just add granola, cocunit chips, chocolate chips, and anything else that sounds tasty (honey? agave? flavored granola?)!
Why Yoga
is a Practice 
Learning how to practice yoga is hard work. I’ve been practicing for nearly 6 years now and I still have a LONG way to go. My hamstrings are always tight which means I never feel fully bendy in a forward fold, my hips can’t seem to stay over my shoulders when I try to do a handstand, and I find it super hard to balance on my right leg from a former injury I’ve had. Bottom line is - there is ALWAYS improvement to be made, whether you’re trying to touch your toes or whether you’re trying to balance yourself in a handstand.

Nowadays, there is a large focus on yoga as being meant for people who are young, flexible, and able to be as comfortable on their hands as they are on their feet. Well let me fill you in on a little secret — this isn’t true. Yoga is a practice meant for ANYBODY. Young, old, flexible, stiff, male, female, short, tall; you name it! 

Yoga is a PRACTICE. Which means that nobody can ever fully ‘complete’ or ‘win’ at it. There is always practice and learning to be done. Sure, after awhile you can improve your flexibility, lose weight, and bend yourself into funky shapes. But the important lessons of yoga are that you learn to be mindful, present, and listen to your body. This takes time, patience, and consistency. It will not come overnight, not even in a month. Over time, it is something that you will always find yourself improving upon and you will always be learning more and more about your body and what it needs. Once you focus on the intangible goals, you will realize that your practice is enriched and you will become more mindful of yourself. And who knows - maybe you’ll become flexible and learn how to do a handstand in the process! Enjoy the practice and enjoy the outcomes! Namaste.
Three Summertime Smoothie Recipes

Here are three super simple, super delicious smoothy recipes to make at home this summer! All of these recipes have 5 ingredients or less and take just a few minutes to prepare. Here are a few varieties for you to try, but keep in mind that exeriementing with new combos is usually really fun and surprisingly yummy! 

Drink it from a cup, eat it in a bowl with granola, or put it in the freezer for a sorbet-like dessert! But just for the record --- no matter how you decide to eat it, you can't really go wrong!! 

If you end up making them, I would love to know which one is your favorite :) 

Happy blending and happy eating ~ 

*All Serving Sizes are measured out for individual cups so feel free to double, triple, or even quadruple them for other people, bigger portions, or leftovers!* 

**If using frozen fruit, it is best to let the fruit thaw for about one hour before blending**

1 Cup of Mango
1 Cup of Strawberries
1 Cup of Rasperries 
1/2 Cup of Orange Juice 
1/2 Cup of Almond Milk 

1 Whole Ripe Banana 
1/2 Cup of Almond Milk
6 oz. of Plain Greek Yogurt 
1 Heaping Tablespoon of Peanut Butter
1/2 Teaspoon of Hemp Seed

1 Cup of Rasperries
1 Cup of Blueberries
6 oz. of Pineapple Juice
1/4 Cup of Almond Milk 

How to Do A
Sun Salutation
Sun Salutations are an amazing part of a yoga practice because it helps the body to warm your body up, slow your mind down, and for you to connect with yourself during the practice. Sun

A few weeks ago, I posted a writeup on 8 beginner yoga poses that you could practice if you were hoping to begin yoga (See Post Below). FUN THING! If you put those 8 simple yoga poses together, you get 1 Sun Salutation!

Below is a video showing how to flow through a Sun Salutation, as well as a written explanation of how to complete one cycle. Feel free to follow along with the video and written text! Who knows, maybe soon enough you’ll be flowing through your Sun Salutations every morning when you get out of bed to help yourself wake up!

Each Sun Salutation takes about 1 minute to complete. Some days, I do 10 Sun Salutations and my practice is over. Other days, I do 5 Sun Salutations followed by an hour of practice. No matter how fast, how slow, or how many you complete, they are beneficial to your physical and mental health. It helps the body to move, relax, and stretch and the mind to calm, focus, and turn inward. Whether you complete 1 or 108, your body and mind will thank you. Namaste.

Begin in Downward Dog with your hips lifted high and your spine and arms straight.

Lift your gaze forward and step or hop to the top of the mat. 

Fold into a Standing Forward Bend.

Lift your chest, straighten your spine and legs, and place your hands on your shins for a Half Standing Forward Fold.

Fold into a Standing Forward Bend again. 

Begin to lift your chest and arms and come into Mountain Pose With Arms Up.

Bring your hands to your heart and stand in Mountain Pose With Hands at Heart.

Circle your arms down and up once again for Mountain Pose With Arms Up.

Begin to fold from your hips down into a Standing Forward Bend.

Again, lift your chest, straighten your spine and legs, and place your hands on your shins for a Half Standing Forward Fold.

Come into a Standing Forward Bend once again and plant your palms on the top of your mat.

Step or spring your legs back into Plank Pose (Note: If you jump, make sure to keep your elbows slightly bent).

Stretch your head and feet away from each other, roll onto the tips of your toes,  straighten your spine, and begin to bend your elbows until your elbows and shoulders are parallel to one another. 

This will bring you into Four-Limbed Staff Pose (Note: Feel free to lower your knees onto the mat during this pose if your upper body is not able to support you fully. It is more important to have a straight spine and good posture!)

Flip onto the tops of your feet, begin to straighten your elbows, lift your chest, sink your hips, and engage your quads to  lift your legs off of the mat. This will bring you into Upward-Facing Dog.

From here, come back into Plank Pose, roll back onto the tips of your toes, and lift your hips up toward the sky. Straighten your arms, spine, legs, and sink your heels into the floor. This will bring you back into Downward Dog and from here you can continue doing Sun Salutations! 

Enjoy the process and remember not to be hard on yourself! Yoga is a PRACTICE - there is always improvement to be had. Feel free to reach out with any questions or comments you may have! Namaste, friends! 
1 jar (or about 6.5 cups) of Gluten Free Quaker Oats
1 jar (about 28 tbsp) of Earth Balance Creamy Natural Peanut Butter 
About 1/2 bag (or 8 tbsp) of Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Morsels 
About 4 tbsp of Wholesome Organic Blue Agave​

Stir together the oats and peanut butter in a large mixing bowl. TIP: The peanut butter mixes easier with the oats if it is warmed in the microwave for about 1 minute and is of a creamier or more liquid consistency. 

Add about 4 tablespoons of agave and about 8 tablespoons of chocolate chips to the oats and peanut butter mixture. 

Stir together the ingredients with a spoon, but once it becomes difficult, begin to knead the mixture with your hands to mix all of the ingredients together. 

Then, take a small handful of the mixture and begin to roll it into a ball. TIP: Periodically wash your hands throughout the process because the more peanut butter that builds up on your hands, the harder it is to get the mixture to stick together when it is being balled together. 

If you wish to make the mixture a bit sweeter or if you need something to make the mixture stick together more when it is being balled, feel free to add more agave or honey in 1 tablespoon increments.
Place the protein balls onto wax paper or tinfoil on top of a cookie sheet and place in the freezer for about 20 minutes. This helps the protein balls to set and to stick together more. After 20 minutes, the protein balls can be transferred into a ziplock bag or container and stored in either the freezer or refrigerator. 

This recipe makes about 40 protein balls.
Nutrition Facts: *

Serving Size: 1 ball
Servings per Batch: About 40

Calories                                135
Calories from Fat            67
Total Fat                                7.8 g 
Saturated Fat                     1.9 g
Trans Fat                               0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat       0.9 g
Monounsaturated Fat   4.6 g
Cholesterol                          0 mg
Sodium                                   38.5 mg
Potassium                             48.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate         14.8 g
Dietary Fiber                       2.8 g
Soluble Fiber                       0.7 g
Sugars                                     3.6 g
Protein                                   4.3 g

*These nutrition facts are approximate and may vary depending on different brands or ingredients used.
Benefits of Drinking Warm Lemon WAter in the MOrning
Giving yourself some self love first thing in the morning can help you kickstart your day and can lead to a more fulfilling, joyful, and positive outlook on the rest of your day. Drinking my warm lemon water every morning has become a habit, ritual, routine - whatever you want to call it - & it’s the healthiest, most satisfying, most self-loving routine I’ve ever had before. There are countless health benefits (seriously, countless) and I could go on & on about the ways it has helped me. But instead of me talking all about myself, I’ll give you the facts straight and let you realize how much your mornings could improve if you add this to your regimen! 

HOW TO: Heat up a cup (8-10 oz.) of water until it is lukewarm (can be heated in the microwave for about 40-45 seconds). It is very important that the water is lukewarm because water that is too cold or too hot will shock your digestive track first thing in the morning and will not produce the desired results. After the water is heated, squeeze half a lemon (if you weigh under 150 lbs) or a full lemon (if you weigh over 150 lbs) into your cup and drink it all up! Make sure you drink your lemon water on an empty stomach to ensure that you are receiving all benefits and properly absorbing all nutrients. If you drink your lemon water on a daily basis, it is best to drink it out of a straw to ensure that the acids in the lemon do not wear away at your tooth enamel over a long period of time. ENJOY!

Here are a list of some health benefits of drinking warm lemon water in the morning! If this doesn't convince you, give me a call and I’ll personally come to your house to make you your warm morning lemon water. THAT’S how much I believe that this can improve your well-being and daily life!
1. Boosts Your Immune System & Can Keep You Healthy 
-Lemons are high in Vitamin C which can help fight colds. Vitamin C has also demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects, is used for support for asthma and other respiratory problems, and enhances iron absorption in the body (which also is important for a healthy immune system). 
-Lemons are also high in potassium which helps stimulate nerve function, brain function, and control blood pressure.
-Lemons also reduce the production of phlegm in the body.

2. Energizes the Body
-The human body receives energy from food when the positively charged ions from food interact with the negatively charged enzymes in the digestive tract. Lemons (and only a few other foods) contain more negatively charged ions, which provides the body with more energy when the lemon enters the digestive tract.
-Giving your body an adequate source of water when you first wake up in the morning is vital because your body has been deprived of water for 8-9 hours while you sleep. Proving your body with water first thing in the morning will waken your body and mind.

3. Balances pH Levels in the Body
Once the body metabolizes lemon, the acidic properties of lemon are alkalized. Both citric and absorb acid are weak acids that are easily metabolized by the body which allow the minerals found in lemons to help alkalize the body. Considering disease can only exist when the body pH is acidic, drinking lemon water can improve overall health and overall acidity in the body which can rid uric acid in the joints (one of the primary causes of pain and inflammation).

4. Can Clear Skin & Help Acne
-The combination of vitamin C and antioxidants found in lemons can help decrease wrinkles and blemishes and help combat free radical damage. The vitamin C in lemon is necessary for cologne production which leads to smooth and healthy skin.
-Lemon can also help rid acne because the alkaline nature of lemon kill some types of bacteria that are known to cause acne. Lemon water also helps rid toxins from the blood, which essentially can help keep your skin clear from the inside out.

5. Aids Digestion (&Bowel Movements)
Lemon juice has an atomic composition similar to saliva and the hydrochloric acid of digestive juices. This stimulates the liver to produce bile which is an acid that is necessary for digestion. The minerals and vitamins in lemon juice also help to loosen toxins in the digestive tract and flush them out. Opening up and cleansing your digestive tract can also help your body absorb nutrients all day and help food pass through your system with ease.

6. Can Act as a Diuretic
Lemons increase the rate of urination and can therefore help to cleanse your system. This can aid in keeping your urinary tract healthy and free of toxins. The citric acid found in lemons also helps maximize enzyme function, which stimulates the liver to and in the detox process.

7. Can be a Component of Weight Loss
Lemons are high in pectin fiber which helps to fight hunger cravings. Studies have shown that people who maintain a more alkaline diet lose wight faster. This pectin fiber is also beneficial for colon health and is a powerful antibacterial. Drinking lemon water in the morning can also increase your metabolism rate which can lead to weight loss over time.

So, there you have it! Have I convinced you yet?! Give it a try & see all the benefits for yourself!

The information in this post is taken from personal experience, as well as Tasty Yummies , Food Matters , Wellness Mama , & Popsugar .
Beginner Yoga POses
I guess some would say that you'd have to be living under a rock to not know that yoga is all the rage nowadays. Yoga has somehow transformed from a practice of breathing, stretching, and connecting with your body into somewhat of a business involving retreats, expensive clothing, and month-long memberships. When I first began my yoga journey, I had no real idea what I was doing or what the purpose was. But over the last 5 years, I've gotten a better idea of the benefits of yoga and how my body loves me back after a good long practice. I'll be the first one to admit that starting yoga can be intimidating - going to class with a room full of strangers, worrying that you're not flexible enough to do certain poses, or not knowing exactly what the purpose is. But all of that aside, if you put time, patience, and effort into yoga, the rewards will be much more than you would have even imagined. Acknowledging that there are tons of people out there that want to start yoga but don't know where to begin, I am here to help. I have put together a short list of beginner yoga poses to help form the foundation and basis of your practice. Learning and practicing these poses will strengthen your body, introduce you to the world of yoga, and hopefully encourage you to keep pursuing this practice. To all the wonderful new yogis out there - this one is for you!
(Mountain Pose With Hands at Heart) 
How To: Stand with your feet together with your big toes touching and heels slightly apart. Keep your feet relaxed and spine long. Keep your head and spine in a straight line, with one on top of the other.
Benefits: Increases body awareness and focuses your attention inward.
(Mountain Pose With Arms Up) 
How To: Stand with your feet together with your big toes touching and heels slightly apart. Inhale and reach your arms above your head, slightly touching your fingers or palms together. Gaze up at your hands and slightly bend back from your waist.
Benefits: Stretches the front and sides of your body.
How To: Stand with your feet together and exhale as you fold forward. Bend from your hips and let your chest lead as you fold forward. Relax your head toward the mat and lift your hips to the sky.
Benefits: Stretches the hamstrings, spine, and neck.
(Half Standing Forward Fold) 
How To: Stand with your feet together and bend forward from your hips. Keep your waist and spine straight while looking down and slightly forward. Place your hands on your shins as needed to keep your legs and upper body in straight lines.
Benefits: Stretches hamstrings and calves while lengthening the spine and neck.
How To: Start with your knees on the mat with your arms flat on the mat in front of you. Straighten legs, tuck toes, shift weight into toes and hands, and straighten your legs. Reach forward with your head and back in your heels to create a diagonal line from your head to your toes. Open up your shoulders and chest, press firmly into your palms, and keep your legs energized and straight.
Benefits: Strengthens arms, wrists, and abs.
(Four-Limbed Staff Pose) 
How To: Starting in Plank Pose, hug elbows into the body and keep your body in a straight line. Lower yourself to the mat so your body is parallel to the floor. Engage your abs to keep your spine straight, press hands into the floor, and look slightly forward.
Benefits: Stregthens abs, arms, and wrists.
(Upward-Facing Dog) 
How To: Lie on your stomach with your hands beneath your shoulders. Press palms into the mat, press into your palms to lift your upper body off the floor, bring your shoulder blades together, open your chest, straighten your arms, and engage your legs to lift them off of the mat. Keeping your chest open and your legs engaged, send energy down through your palms and the tops of your feet.
Benefits: Opens the front of the body and the chest. Strengthens the back.
(Downward-Facing Dog) 
How To: Start in Plank Pose and lift your hips to the sky so that they are at the highest point of your body. Press palms into the floor, move your bellybutton towards your thighs, and straighten your spine. Bend your legs if needed in order to lift your hips higher and keep your spine straighter.
Benefits: Reduces stiffness in the shoulders while stretching the hamstrings, ankles, shoulders, and calves.
The information in this post is taken from personal experience and The Little Book of Yoga .
Namaste, friends!