Because I'm Terrible at Scrapbooks
Why My Masters Degree Means Nothing

Pretty Please Eat Your Bs!

Today we’re talking B-12.

And no, we’re not talking a bingo coordinate.

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I’m talking about the vitamin.

B-12 is a crucial vitamin that some people, especially vegans, neglect.

For that reason, I wanted to share what it is,

what it does,

where to get it,

and some interesting thoughts from a (mostly) vegan perspective.

Wow! That sounds like an introduction to a formal essay, right?

Yikes.

As you will soon see, my formality is about to be thrown out the window. smile

Okay B-12.

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In a nutshell, the Office of Dietary Supplements says it is a water soluble vitamin responsible for normal brain and nervous system function.

Yep, sounds pretty darn important to me!

Oh, and before you automatically assume that I am deficient since it clearly says it plays a role in ensuring “normal brain function” let me finish my post darn it!

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We need vitamin B12 for several vital body functions.

It is involved in the metabolism of every cell in the body.

!!

Vitamin B12 combines to create the genetic material in all cells. It is not only needed for the synthesis and regulation of the fatty acids. It is also needed for energy production (WebMD).

B12 helps in maintaining the health of the nerve cell and the nervous system. Vitamin B12 is also needed for the synthesis of the red blood cells (WebMD).

Thankfully, most people in the United States get enough vitamin B12 from the foods they eat. However vegetarians and vegans are often at risk for B-12 deficiencies because animal products are the main sources for B-12.

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The Office of Dietary Supplements states Vitamin B12 deficiency causes things such as:

tiredness,

weakness,

constipation,

loss of appetite,

weight loss

megaloblastic anemia (um, what?!)

nerve problems, such as numbness and tingling in the hands or feet

trouble balancing ( I saw this on Dr. Oz once. Stand up and close your eyes. Stick one of your legs in the air right in front of you. If you have trouble balancing… maybe you need to check your B-12)

depression,

confusion,

dementia,

poor memory,

and soreness of the mouth or tongue.

Crap that’s a long list!

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So the good news is, there’s a good chance you’re probably getting your daily dose of B-12.

So no need to blame your poor memory or constipation on that (see above list).

Um, but you should probably check that out.

Vitamin B12 is found naturally in a wide variety of animal foods and is added to some fortified foods.

So fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and other dairy products, are solid places to get B12.

A lot of cereals, nutritional yeasts, and vegetarian friendly products are also fortified with B-12, just check the labels.

Plant based foods do not contain any B-12, unless they are fortified.

Since I do not eat meat, and hardly ever eat animal by products (with the exception of my whey protein which has no B-12 after checking), I make a conscious effort to incorporate fortified foods into my diet, like almond milk and nutritional yeast.

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I also take a multivitamin that has B-12.


Adults should aim to get about 2.4 mcg a day.

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The other day I heard about someone giving a vegan a hard time for having what they believed to be the so called “perfect diet” when in fact it was not perfect because it was void of B-12.

And this obviously got me thinking.

I remember reading about the stuff in The Food Revolution and decided to refresh my memory.

All forthcoming information is taken from this book and paraphrased. I wish I could say I was this smart and figured this all out on my own, but let’s be real here.

So here’s the deal- animal products have B-12 because they eat plants and/or drink water that contain the microorganisms that produce this vitamin.

B-12 is created throughout the environment by bacteria.

However, nowadays how often do we pick food directly out of the ground along with the bits of dirt in the grooves of the veggies or fruits that didn’t get totally clean. Today most farmland has been sprayed with chemicals that make them devoid of B-12

So yeah, I suppose hippie vegans who live off the land and drink stream water may get enough B-12, but chances are the rest of us aren’t!

A lot of people thing vegans don’t get enough protein, but the truth is they probably do! The real area of emphasis is B-12, and it is important to make a conscious effort in getting enough.

Our bodies depend on it!

So yeah, hopefully this did not feel too essay-esque, but B-12 is so important, and deficiencies can go undetected for a long period of time and cause serious damage.

Which is why I’m harping on it today!

Work it Out Wednesday: Tone Those Triceps!

Perhaps this has happened to you.

You’re meeting someone for the first time, and as you go to shake their hand, you are catapulted into a mixed martial arts type move, in which you feel as though your entire arm may, just may, be turned upside down.

Your elbow is facing outward, and you’re pretty sure you have permanent nerve damage.

Yet all you can think of (um, aside from the fact that you might have an upside down arm!) is not the pain.

No, no.

All you find yourself thinking about is the fact that your freaking arm is flapping about like a flag on the 4th of July.

Flappy arm syndrome at its worst.

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Source: Science.ph

What is it about people’s gripping handshakes that make it so evident?

And not only that, but as an aside, why do the people with the most violent handshakes also want to hold onto your hand for the longest.amount.of.time.EVER!?

I never understand!

Flappy arm syndrome victimization.

It happens to the best of us, but you no longer have to suffer from the awkward, embarrassing moments of having the back of your arm wag like the tail of a large, hyper, Labrador retriever.

Because today we’re talking cures.

It’s time to tighten those triceps baby! Let’s flip the flappage!

Yes, I really did just say that.

Triceps seem to be a trouble spot for many women.  In fact, anytime I have been approached by someone at the gym, that is the body part they ask about.

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Source: lucilleroroberts.com

The triceps brachii (better known as the triceps) has three heads - lateral, medial, long.

All three heads of the triceps are connected to the humerus and scapula bones. The muscle then travels down the arm and is connected on to the ulna of the forearm (Bodybuilding.com).

Yawn!

Okay, so you don’t need the science-y stuff. You just have to know how to work those suckers.

The key is to attack all three heads to really fight arm flab.

I would venture to say a lot of women probably think they can do just a few exercises each week to target their triceps, but the reality is they’re probably not doing enough.

And not only that, but they’re probably frustrated to no end that they have flappy arm syndrome because, “I work out my triceps!”

So here’s the thing- like with many trouble areas, just a couple triceps exercises once a week is likely not going to provide the results you’re looking for.

You really need to develop a plan of attack, and go at it with focus and determination.

I work my triceps once a week in conjunction with my chest and shoulders (I also work my shoulders on back and biceps day).

I perform two triceps exercises for every one chest and shoulder exercise.  Not only that, but I also work to incorporate triceps work into my cardio boot camp sessions three times a week. So they definitely get plenty of attention.

If you are hell bent on toning these suckers, you need to be lifting real weight.

Get rid of the dainty 5 pounders (there’s a time and place for those, like here), and grab onto something heavier.

Aim to do 3 -4 sets of 8-10 repetitions of each of these exercises with good form, and aim for a weight that makes the last couple reps a struggle (but not so hard that you break form). 

Toss in some ab exercises, jumping jacks, or calves work in between sets.

Really take your time on these, feel the motion, squeeze your triceps as you perform these exercises. You should be feeling these. If you are not, add more weight.

Oh, and please do not confuse “feeling them” with hurting yourself. Don’t do that!

Skull crushers

Rope pulldown

Reverse Pushdowns

Overhead Extension

Bench dips- Put a weight plate on your lap when you do these for extra resistance.

So put on a sleeveless shirt, and confidently wave goodbye to back-of-the-arm-flab.

With some hard work and focus, you’ll never have to dread those awkward MMA handshakes again…

Well…

Aside from the whole upside down arm part. wink

Kale: The Queen of Greens

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Today we’re talking kale.

It seems to be quite the trendy “super food” right now.

I hear about it and see it in just about everything these days.

So- today I’m setting out to see if it’s worth the hype.

Let’s take a look!

What is Kale?
Kale is a leafy green and belongs to the Brassica family that includes cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, collards, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
You know- your favorites.
haha
But here me out.

One cup of chopped kale contains just 33 calories,
and 9% of the daily value of calcium,
206% of vitamin A,
134% of vitamin C,
and a whopping 684% of vitamin K.
It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.(WebMD)

!!
Is this blowing your mind!?

It should be.

This stuff is a powerhouse of health.

Yes. I said it.

Powerhouse.

Of Health.

But wait! There’s more!

(I sound like an infomercial)

The health benefits linked to kale are out of this world.

- Kale contains carotenoids and flavonoids which are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits (WebMD).

-Not only that, but the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease (WebMD).

And as if that weren’t enough, I’ve got more where that came from.

Remember how much vitamin K is in Kale?

(Vitamin K is for Kale! Haha)

Well you need it.

-Vitamin K is necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions, including normal blood clotting, antioxidant activity, and bone health.

-Kale is also high in iron.

Iron is essential for good health, such as the formation of hemoglobin and enzymes, transporting oxygen to various parts of the body, cell growth, proper liver function and more. In fact, Shape.com shares per calorie, kale has more iron than beef!

-Kale is a great anti-inflammatory food.

Shape shares just one cup of kale is filled with 10% of the RDA of omega-3 fatty acids, which help, fight against arthritis, asthma and autoimmune disorders.

-Kale is high in Vitamin C.

We all know how important this is!  This is very helpful for your immune system, your metabolism and your hydration.

- Kale is high in calcium.

Shape also notes per calorie, kale has more calcium than milk, which aids in preventing bone loss, preventing osteoporosis and maintaining a healthy metabolism.

Let’s not forget Kale is a great detox food.

Kale is filled with fiber and sulfur, both great for detoxifying your body and keeping your liver healthy.

So hopefully you are convinced there is definitely some credence to all the hype. Because there definitely is.

So now that you are (hopefully!) a believer, let’s talk about how and where to buy it.

These days, with big grocery store chains, kale is always “in season.”

Look for firm, deeply colored leaves with hardy stems. Smaller leaves will be more tender and milder in flavor. Leaves range from dark green to purple to deep red in color. 

Sometimes I buy the prepackaged kale, ready to go. However, there are also times when I simply by a bunch and just rinse it and store it. Not much more work in the grand scheme of life. Plus, I find I can buy a bunch for just under $1, which is a great deal in my book!

Okay, so you know it’s healthy, you have some in your house, now what do you do with it!?

Like most veggies, kale is very versatile! Here are my top four ways to use up kale:

Steaming

I like to steam kale by adding a little water to a large pot, and bringing to simmer. Then I add a bunch of torn kale, salt, and then cover. Steam for 5 minutes. That’s it! How easy right?!

Greener Monsters

I also like to remove the hard stalk-like stems and add the leaves to my green monsters. Talk about a rush of vitamins! I’ve tried to make them with the stems included, but they’re not as blendable and make for a chewier smoothie…eh

Salads

I also like to use kale as a base for my salads. Because it is so fibrous, it takes a long time to eat, helping me to eat slower and feel fuller. Win!

Don’t knock it ‘till you’ve tried it

Finally, you can try your hand at making the ever popular kale chips by slicing dry kale (really important there’s no moisture on it) into bite-size pieces, Toss with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt, and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

So now you have a slew (yes! A slew!) of reasons to give kale a shot. Give it a try and reap the benefits of all the goodness it has to offer.

when nothing makes sense at all

It seems like lately, anytime I’m sharing something important or more serious, it always seems to get posted at the end of the week!

Although, let’s be honest, when have I ever had anything deep or meaningful to say, really?

Exactly.

Today is more about my streams of consciousness that I simply need to get out of my mind and onto “paper.”

So bear with me.

See, for a while now I’ve been feeling this internal conflict about my life.

You know the whole Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs stuff you learned way back in school?

I guess, if I had to simplify the whole internal mind game with myself, that’s sort of what it comes down to.

Self-actualization. Being who you’re made to be, in its fullest sense.

Only, instead of using Maslow, let’s use God. Because that’s really where in the crux of my quandary lies.

For quite a while now, I’ve felt like I have “something” just sitting on my heart. 

Some days it’s just a small little flutter of a reminder, but other days, when I’m really setting my mind on things above, it feels like an elephant is atop me. And it’s driving me crazy!

What is that something!?!

Seriously! Because I’m sitting here wasting away and wandering aimlessly all while trying to find what that “something” is.

And all I feel like I hear is the verse that says I will find God when I “seek Him with all my heart.”

Okay, sounds simple enough.

Um, only not so much at all!

Oh- and can we please take a commercial break for a second?

I realize some of you reading might be thinking I’ve entirely lost my mind!

What am I doing talking about God, and feelings from my heart, and “seeking?”

I understand.

So I get that maybe this seems like nothing but mumbo jumbo silliness. But it is not.

So for the sake of today’s post, and hoping that perhaps you read this blog because you like me, can you please just take a minute to let me get all this stuff out and also take a moment to assume that maybe, just maybe I’m right about this God stuff I’m talking about?

Okay, so let’s jump back into that “something” on my heart.

So I just feel so convinced there is this “something,” a purpose, if you will, that I need to be fulfilling.

And it frustrates me to no end because I can’t put my finger on it.

And in all honesty, my seeking “with all my heart stuff?” Yeah, I’m not doing that like I probably should either, further complicating the issue.

And then I think about my life, and how I go to a real life grown up job (for which I’m very thankful), and all the things I’m involved in (including things like working out and health), and I wonder whether any of it makes a difference in my grand scheme and purpose.

I wonder if I need to strike a better balance between my sincere passions for things of this world, and focus my passions for things not of this world.

Oh geez I hope this is making sense.

That Maslow’s “self-actualization” if you will.

At the end of the day, God could care less what I could leg press or that I eat “clean” (whatever that really means) all the time.

Because, that’s immaterial in the grand scheme of life.

I feel a tad like Solomon when he was writing Ecclesiastes, reflecting on the meaninglessness of so many things people pursue in vain.

And I know that, God I know that.

But, at the same time, I have such a hard time remembering that.

And then I think… what if my “something” is taking my worldy interests and hobbies and strengths and applying them to create opportunities where I could fulfill these spiritual holes and needs?

And then I wonder if I’m being totally selfish and trying to make up my own “something” based on areas that are good fits for me.

But then I think about the fact that God gives us certain gifts and abilities, and I know I have an encouraging and tender heart for a reason, and maybe, just maybe if I could merge my true love for others into something that ties into my hobby, that really is in fact my “something.”

Maybe that “something” isn’t a full time job, maybe it’s something I do on the side. Maybe it’s this blog. Maybe it’s something on a much smaller scale than I’m making it out to be.

And if I could just freaking figure out what that something was, I would get right to it. Yet, I feel really directionless. I feel like, although I feel the Lord stirring in me, that I simultaneously feel like He’s nowhere to be found, and I find myself feeling hopeful, and lonely, and frustrated all at the same time. I get annoyed because I feel like I’m wasting time, which restarts the whole cycle of trying to rationally walk through the above only to get lost somewhere in the middle.

And I was hoping writing this out makes me feel better and perhaps lead me to begin unraveling the something on my heart. only it hasn’t, and in a strange way it has made me feel worse.

I just want to set my mind on things above, and not on earthly things. I know it’s easier said than done, but I want that.

And I don’t really know how to do that.

I mean, yes, in theory I do.

“Hey come to church with me.”

“Hey, I stand for Christ.”

Yeah, I get that.

But more specifically, I’m talking about setting my mind on things above in terms of this “something.”

And I am trying to find this crazy balance between doing what I enjoy in this earthly life, and also making sure to make what I do count for living a God-filled life.

And ugh, I know I can’t do it all in my own power, I know that. Yet, I find myself trying to find that “something” in my own power quite simply because it’s sitting on my fictional chest suffocating me and I can’t break free to determine what the heck it is.

And all I find myself doing is throwing up my hands in defeat saying,

“What is it!? I just need to know!” and I don’t.

This is where the problem lies.

So I spew this entire post before your very eyes, more as an simple act of frustration and aimlessness as I wander and flail about trying to make sense of things. 

And perhaps this whole frustrating thing is the issue. I need to deal with my heart condition before I can move forward. I need to get rid of all the junk that’s hiding out in there. and as I type this, I can’t help but feel really small and humble and filthy in “junk” that needs to be cleaned out of my life.

And so, as I prepare to close, I hope that in the coming weeks and months I will begin to see more of the picture unfold and be able to really fulfill what’s in store for me. However, right now I do not feel like I am, and I hate that, and I don’t want to feel that way anymore.

So please be patient with me as this huge circus elephant continues to sit on me. I’m a work in progress and apparently need some more heart healing before I am able to pursue that “something.”

Until then? Time to simply walk in faith.

More to come...<3

Work it Out Wednesday: Drink in My Cup

Working out in the summer can be especially taxing on our bodies, especially if we are doing it somewhere outside or without AC.

It is incredibly important to stay adequately hydrated in order to support all your hard work and efforts!

Did you know even mild dehydration can cause performance to suffer?

And it is something completely avoidable if you’re taking in enough fluids!

So with that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to discuss what exactly you should be downing during your workouts.

And the answer is- it depends.

It really does.

Obviously there are a bazillion companies out there telling us we need to be drinking their special concoction during or after our workout to guarantee we will look like this chick when we wake up.

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Um. I’ve had some of their stuff, and they’re lying.

Truth is, most workouts drinks are probably a lot of hype unless you are really depleting yourself.

The important thing to aim for is hydration.

There are too many to break down, but I wanted to do a review of just a few viable options you may want to consider:

Water
Sports drink
Coconut water
BCAAs drinks

Alright, let’s break this stuff down!

WATER

Sorry for the capitalization.

It just felt right.

Water.
The wellspring of life.

Of course it’s a no brainer to incorporate water into your hydration methods. Water is the “classic” choice and a great option, um, especially considering over half our entire bodies are made of the stuff.

Health.com shared an article from The American College of Sports Medicine that stated drinking water helps functioning of the joints and body tissues, the regulation of body temperature, and the transportation of nutrients.
So yeah- you definitely need to consider water as a useful tool in your workout routine. While there is no single perfect amount everyone should abide by, 4 to 6 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes during your workout is a good rule of thumb.

Water hydrates. It helps replace fluids you’ve lost.

If you’re working out with mild intensity, it is a great option. As with all the drinks we are discussing, keep it cold! It will help regulate your body temperature.

COCONUT WATER

I don’t know about you, but within the last couple years, I see this stuff everywhere. It seems like the new “gimmick-y” thing that everyone should buy to be richer, more beautiful, thinner, and perfect.

Obviously we know that’s not true.

However, there is some credence to incorporating coconut water into your workout hydration.

Coconut water packs a ridiculous amount of potassium.

You know- the stuff that helps to prevent cramps and painful muscle contractions?

It also helps to maintain electrolyte balance in the body, another important factor when figuring out how to maximize hydration.

In fact, a study recently published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise shows that coconut water replenishes body fluids just as well as a sports drink. 

Coconut water is great for moderate exertion. 

The other great thing about coconut water is that it is low on calories and sugars. Whereas our next option packs a bit more!

SPORTS DRINKS

Well if coconut water wins the potassium crown, sports drink win the sodium award.

What coconut water lacks is a large amount of sodium, and, many sports drinks fill in the gap.

Interestingly, a WebMD shared a 2007 study that showed coconut water enhanced with sodium was as good as drinking a commercial sports drink for post-exercise rehydration with better fluid tolerance. So, if you can find it, perhaps that’s a good option too.
Now back to sports drinks.

So let’s be clear- a lot of people and advertisements may say you NEED to be drinking sports drinks for this reason however I’m not convinced this is the case.

Um, you know, with my non-doctorate credentials and all… I am 30, so that has to count for something, right?

Anyway- you really need to consider if you need that extra sodium, and that really comes down to the intensity of your workouts and amount of sweat you lose.

For example, me.

I rain.

No, wait.

I pour.

I’m pretty sure people wonder if I just showered with all my gym clothes on in an attempt to cool off mid-workout.

I didn’t.

Anyway- I sweat like a hog a lot.

When I work out, I leave it all on the floor. I give my all, and tune everything else out.

So for me, a sports drink might be a better option because I’m losing a ton of electrolytes and sodium as I sweat.

So if you’re exercising at a super high intensity, or outside in the summer heat, or if you sweat like a hog a lot like me, this could be a good option.

Keep in mind, though, the downer about sports drinks is that they have a ton of extra crap that is not in pure coconut water, such as sugar, coloring, added calories… you get where I’m going.

Basically, a sports drink offers your body the necessary ingredients lost during vigorous exercise:

BCAAS

Alright, here’s where things get science-y.

And I’m not the science-y type.

However, I will try my best to offer my best Reader’s Digest version of Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) thanks to dumbed down research I’ve done over the years. BCAAs come in a ton of forms, but for the purposes of this post I am talking about the powdered versions you add to water.

So here are the facts:

-BCAAs are comprised of leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

-BCAAs make up a third of the aminos within muscle tissue (Muscle & Strength). So if muscle growth is your goal, BCAAs are a must.

-BCAAs, unlike most other amino acids, are metabolized in within muscle tissue. This allows them to be used as energy to produce ATP. ATP is the primary source of energy that fuels muscle contraction and allows you to lift weights.(Bodybuilding.com).

-There is a significant increase in BCAA metabolism during prolonged exercise simply because the body requires more energy during periods of stress such as training. This makes BCAAs incredibly effective when taken around workout time. (Muscle & Strength)

-Not only that, but studies have shown they are an excellent performance enhancer for endurance and high intensity training, as it helps to promote energy and reduce fatigue.

Bottom line, when it comes to BCAAs, it’s really about your goals.

This is not a great option for everyone, but it definitely is for some. Not only that, but some BCAA powders also include blends that take into account some of the other needed nutrients when exercising, such as sodium and potassium to make them a more complete option. 

So let’s tie a bow on all this stuff with this statement:

Determining the right hydration method, really depends on how much you’re sweating and exerting yourself.

Obviously, I’m not a doctor so don’t take this post as gospel. However, this information is a helpful tool you can use in determining what might further enhance your athletic experience. Perhaps you are just missing the right hydration component!

As for me, I have consumed all of these products and believe they can all be important in promoting overall health when working out. However, I typically mix BCAAs into my water when working out and have found great success in doing so. They’re not cheap, so don’t waste your money on them if you don’t doing a lot of serious lifting or high intensity resistance cardio. With that said, they could be a missing puzzle piece to better performance. And perhaps I just got inspiration for an upcoming post to share with you!

So there you have it.

Hopefully this helps you navigate through the possible fluids you might consider as you head into your next workout.

No matter what, get sweating- and make replenishing a priority!

50 Shades of Brittny

So the tanning thing.

Let’s discuss.

You may remember I got an airbrush tanning machine for my birthday this year.

Because I am so tired of being pale all the time!!

When I got it, I was elated, and knew it would be the cure to all my pale problems.

And it was.

Sort of.

Turns out I developed a love/hate relationship with the thing. It just depends on the point of the week in which I’m lavishing its praises or ready to throw it off a cliff.

The tanning machine.

The sort of cure to my paleness.

The first few weeks were a lot of trial and error.

After all, P and I were by no means skilled at this system (I know you’re shocked). We simply watched a couple YouTube videos and we ready to make ourselves orange glowy.

Those first few weeks?

That was fun!

We had streaky ankles, freakishly orange hands, and random white spots.

Thankfully, however, through (a lot of) trial and error, we were able to (sort of) become pros with our technique, which resulted in, (for the most part), a nice even tan.

For the most part.

Which also resulted in, for the most part, happy, glowy girls.

For the most part.

The first few days after receiving a spray tan are pretty well amazing. You feel like you can do anything, wear anything, or be anything.

Yes, it is true.

In fact, I might run for president.

Only… at some point, halfway into the week, things begin to rapidly deteriorate.

The tan on our faces and hands begins to fade (since it gets the most washings).

When I workout and sweat like a pig, it begins to come off in those areas.

Also, a phenomenon we have deemed as “giraffe-ing” occurs, in which our skin sort of starts to take on a multi colored pattern similar to that of a giraffe.

And it’s awesome.

If you like looking like a complete freak, that is.

So we pretty much spend the last part of the week cursing the tan, trying to cover up and wash it off.

Not exactly ideal.

For some reason, my tan never fades as crappily as P’s- but make no mistake, mine definitely does fade crappily.

We exfoliated more on the day of our tans.

Didn’t work.

We switched to more DHA friendly body washes.

Didn’t work.

We changed solution brands.

Didn’t work.

We stopped showering altogether!

Okay, I’m lying- but I still bet that wouldn’t work. Although… maybe that WOULD work!

Ugh.

Again, not exactly ideal.

So we opted just to take our lumps, and instead of trying to figure out how to fix the funky fading giraffe-ness, we are going to simply switch up the days we tan, in hopes we can at least enjoy the beauty of brozneness over the weekend and start giraffe-ing at the start of the week when everyone is “blah” anyway.

So the price of being tan?

Apparently is worth it, splotchiness 50% of the time and all.

Maybe one day I will actually take a class to learn the right way.

Until then, I’ll take feeling like a star 3 ½ days out of the week.

Pass the touch up cream.

Tofu: It’s Not for Cleaning Your Counters

Tofu.

Let’s just take a minute to let that word sink in.

Are you totally freaked out by it?

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Don’t be.

It’s not some boring, bland mish-mash reserved for crazy, granola-eating hippies.

“Peace man.”

It’s actually becoming more and more mainstream, and is nothing to be afraid of!

Tofu provides vegetarians with a great meat substitute for nearly everything! It is known to help lower cholesterol, and prevent cardiovascular disease.

WHFoods notes it can help lower cholesterol levels by as much as 30%, and also raise good cholesterol levels. It serves as a good source of calcium, iron, tryptophan, and most importantly- protein! It is far easier to digest than animal protein, and is very low in fat. It has also been known to lower some forms of cancer.

With that said it is processed, and obviously contains soy, which can cause increased estrogen levels, which can be dangerous when in excess. For that reason, I enjoy it in moderation.

If you’ve never tried tofu, I will say the taste is sort of surprising.

I compare it to having my first ever glass of wine. The first taste made me unsure, but by the end of the glass I realized how much I enjoyed it.

Yeah, I know. You’re thinking I’m weird.

I get that.

There’s a lot going on with the texture in and of itself, which is why it’s important to prep it correctly.

A lot of people may have tried tofu in the past and thought it was slimy or watery, and a lot of that has to do with how it is made.

Tofu is extremely versatile and can be used in grilling, baking, and frying. I even season it and food process it to make it a ricotta substitute for Italian dishes.

And Will never knows. wink

That’s why I wanted to get some of you outside your comfort zone today and encourage you to try something new!

I have found all major grocery stores carry tofu now, which is definitely nice. It is super cheap, especially compared to meat, and is a great animal protein substitute in lots of recipes.

Here are a few important tips:

-When cooking with tofu, definitely go with a firmer type. I like the extra firm tofu by Nasoya.

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-Nasoya is also organic and GMO free, which are two other super huge things you need to be mindful of when buying tofu. Definitely get GMO free! 

Most soy products are genetically modified thanks to our agent orange creators and “friends” Monsanto. Trust me, you do NOT want to be eating GMOs ever, and when you can avoid them, simply avoid them. I realize GMOs are virtually in many foods we eat, but with tofu it is easy because they are almost always marked as “non-GMO.”

It’s simple: buy GMO-free tofu.

Off my soapbox.

Now that you have a better idea of the type of tofu to buy, let’s move on with what to freaking do with it once you have it in your house!

First open your package over the sink and pour out the excess water.

And then take the block and use it to wipe off your counters!

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I’m kidding.

Don’t do that.

You will probably notice it has a very spongey texture. It is able to hold lots of water.

This is where a lot of people get it wrong (myself included the first couple times!). They simply plow forward eating it in this manner.

Unless you like eating wet sponges, don’t do that.

That is where the second step comes in.

Wrap in paper towels and gently press between your hands until the paper towels are wet.

The paper towels quickly absorb a ton of moisture, but there is still lots more in that block that needs to get out!

Change out your paper towels for new ones,

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And then wrap in a kitchen towel.

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Place something heavy atop the block, like a few books, a pan,

or your dog (?).

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Hmm..  maybe not.

I opted for a cast iron skillet.

Set a timer for 30 minutes, and go paint your nails or do something deep like contemplate life.

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This will allow the towels to soak up the excess moisture and make the tofu easier to cook.

And will make you more fabulous (um, hello! You’re contemplating life in a mere 30 minutes!).

After 30 minutes, remove the towels and place on a cutting board.

The world is your oyster.

At this point you can do anything you want with the tofu.

Cube it, slice it, triangle it, make fun shapes… whatever floats your boat!

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You can leave it plain to put in salads, store it for later, and do just about anything you would want to do with meat.

What I really like about tofu is how well it absorbs flavors, which makes marinating it a great option.

And for that reason, today we are marinating!

Like with meat, the longer you let it set, the stronger the flavor and more absorbed into the tofu.

Place your tofu in a plastic bag and marinate it however your little heart desires.

If you have a favorite recipe for chicken or beef, give that a go with your tofu.

For the purpose of today’s post I am marinating mine in a little fresh orange juice, garlic (jarred, minced garlic. My, how quickly I have fallen.), soy sauce, and apple cider vinegar. Perfect with my citrus stir fry for dinner!

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I usually let this marinate in the fridge all day.

When you’re ready to cook, spray a baking dish with cooking spray, and add your tofu.

Cook at 425 for 30-45 minutes, turning once.

Serve however you darn well please.

So get a little brave and give something new a try. You might be a little surprised!

Untitled

I’ve Got Love For You (if you were born in the 80s)

I actually added the “80s” channel to my Pandora stations.

Yes it’s true.

This happened.

Please don’t judge me.

Although, why would you?

80s music is pretty darn great sometimes.

Hey- at least I said sometimes and not all the time.

Speaking of the 80s, P and I caught Adventures in Babysitting on TV the other night.

Um- how great is that movie, right!?

Seriously.

My sister and I always talk about how fun 1980s Chicago would have been in that movie.

And singing the baby sitting blues?

And meeting Thor!?

Obviously I am still excited about it.

And why wouldn’t I be!?

Can we please camp out and discuss how many freaking cinema gems were produced in the 1980s?

Um-

Ferris Bueller,

Uncle Buck,

16 Candles,

The Breakfast Club,

Cocktails,

The Griswold Series,

Back to the Future,

Top Gun,

The Shining,

The Never-Ending Story,

The Labyrinth (hello 1980s David Bowie crazy hair!)

Dirty Dancing,

The Blues Brothers,

The Goonies…

Okay- you get it.

Sorry. I realize I am a little out of control.

There were still like 10 more I wanted to list, but I figured you got my point: We are talking brilliant films, here. 

Yep, I said it. Brilliant.

So excuse me if I like a little Blondie and Depeche Mode every now and then.

Is that a crime!?

I think not.

I have obviously demonstrated the awesomeness of the 1980s.

But do we need to keep going?

I feel like we do.

Um, not only were there some super life altering treasures on the silver screen, but let’s not forget about the super radical television shows that loaded up our mind with amazingness- like Alf, MacGyver (the Jack Bauer of the 1980s- duh!), The Cosby Show, Growing Pains, Saved by the Freaking Bell, and about a million other shows.

Not to mention my pre-formative years enjoying Beetlejuice, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Rainbow Brite, Strawberry Shortcake, and Barbie and the Rockstars.

What!?

I am blowing my own mind here people.

And who didn’t love their original Nintendo!? Seriously, I still have quite the affinity for the original Mario Brothers.

In fact, Will was able to find a Super Nintendo about a decade ago and bought it for me. Can I please tell you how much fun I had playing Mario Brothers on that bad boy?

It’s the small things people.

Yeah, I get it. It’s lame and old.

But so am I sometimes!

Yes, I went there.

Can we please have an 80s movie night?

You can bring over your Caboodles full of hideous eye shadows that we will obviously deem as 1980s approved. Hey! Perfect excuse to rock my inappropriate, sparkle filled J Cat body glitter/eyeshadow/burlesque powder!

And then we can totally leg warmer it up (yes, even in June) and poof our hair nice and big and bake mini vegan snacks in the Easy Bake Oven while watching an array of the aforementioned movie masterpieces.

And then it will get out of control.

Because just when you think you can’t stand any more fun, I will whip out an array of threads and beads so we can make our very own BFF necklace.

Oh- and I get dibs on the BE FRI part.

So what do you say? Are you in?

What a few things you loved about the 80s?

Cooking 101: Put the Jarred Garlic Down

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Let’s discuss food today.

And life lessons.

Like- life lessons of essential cooking know-how.

After our Memorial Day weekend of indulgences, my sister and I decided we should probably end our trip on a good note.

You know, to sort of set the tone for the coming week of healthfulness?

P made a delicious batch of quinoa, which inevitably got me back on my quinoa kick.

Which means I’ll probably be eating it for like the next month straight.

I make this recipe for my lunches a lot, and figured I would share it with you today.

Because, as I previously stated, I am on a quinoa kick and am having it for lunch this week.

I even modified it based on yummy trick P shared with me.

Shouldn’t the big sister be teaching the little sister?

Never mind.

And honestly? It’s not even a “trick.”

Tricks are fun things you see on Pinterest (which I’m still avoiding, by the way).

This was more of a Cooking 101 lesson.

So, I’m 30 years old and never (yes NEVER) purchased a whole head of garlic until the weekend before our Memorial Day trip.

Yep.

It’s true.

How un-30.

And lame.

Am I really that unadventurous!?

If adventurousness is gauged by garlic purchases, than yes.

Yes, I am totally unadventurous.

Rather than buying garlic in its whole form (you know, since I’m such a fancy, gourmet cooker), I’ve always gone the lazy way:

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Hey- don’t knock it.

It’s made by a guy named Chef Cuisine.

It’s gotta work. It’s who he IS!

I guess.

(HELP!)

However P, in all her 23-year-old glory, convinced me there is something magical (yes, magical) in buying a head of garlic.

Because she’s adventurous like that.

So adventurous that she roasted it.

All by her freaking self.

And I realized what a spoiled brat I’ve been for never taking 5 minutes to slap some oil on a head of garlic and do the same.

Geez!

Jarred garlic.

Who the heck do I think I am!?

Anyway-

Today we are going to roast garlic.

And I realize this is a no brainer for ALL of you, and this post has absolutely no useful value to you-

But I urge you to keep reading anyway.

Because this recipe is tasty and filling, but still light.

Plus you’ve already read a ton, so just finish the job.

If you’re like me and have never gotten adventurous and have continually resorted to buying premade crap, strap on your big girl pants.

It’s about to get nuts over here.

Preheat your oven to 350

Take a head of garlic, and peel away the outer layers of the bulb, leaving the skins on the individual cloves intact.

Take a sharp knife and carefully slice off the top so you expose the individual cloves of garlic.

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Brush the exposed cloves with a little olive oil.

Wrap in foil.

Place on a cookie sheet.

Place in the oven, set your timer for 45 minutes, and walk away and do something adventurous for a few minutes.

Like water your plants,

or challenge your mom to a game of Words with Friends

or maybe even paint your toes.

You are so wild!

Okay, now that you’ve done something thrilling, it’s time to make your quinoa.

Which is super easy and fast.

Because you can use your rice cooker.

Just cook a box in your rice cooker with two parts water to one part quinoa and you are all set.

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If you don’t have a rice cooker, just cook according to box directions.

While that is cooking, sautee 1 large red pepper and an 8 oz. packet of sliced fresh mushrooms in ½ TBSP of coconut oil until they are soft.

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By now your garlic should be nice and soft and ready to take out of the oven.

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Gently press the cloves out, and add to the veggies. Give a good mash, and mix well.

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Add salt and pepper to taste, toss into the quinoa, and pat yourself on the back. You freaking just mastered the most elementary kitchen lesson at 30 years old.

Bravo, Brittny. Bravo.

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1 head garlic
1 package cooked quinoa
1 tablespoon coconut oil (part for the garlic, the other part for sautéing)
1 large chopped red pepper
1 8 oz package chopped mushrooms
Salt & pepper to taste

the gratitude journal.

Last Friday was stressful.

The Moore tornado left me afraid of a single dark cloud in the sky for fear there might be another terrible storm to follow.

Plus the weather anchors promised bad weather pretty much every day the following ten days after it happened.

Excellent.

Last Friday was no different.

Meteorologists warned treacherous weather could mimic events in Moore.

And I suppose the night did not “disappoint.”

Five tornadoes and double digit deaths.

The tornado on Friday was an F5 and the widest tornado on record.

But that’s not what I’m posting about today.

However, it was this event that led me to this post, so allow me to set the scene.

Many businesses allowed their employees to go home early that day to ensure everyone had the opportunity to get to a safe place, mine included.

I left around 3:00 that afternoon and rushed home, trying to do some of the major things I had put off since the Moore tornado:

do a quick video inventory of my house for insurance purposes, and pack a backpack of things I simply did not feel I could live without if the worst happened.

Talk about sobering.

Reducing your entire life to a backpack?

Impossible.

I sped home and immediately started a video inventory of my house. I didn’t do a great job, but figured it would definitely serve its purpose.

And then I got my backpack out and thought to myself, “How in the world am I going to do this!?”

Thankfully most of my pictures are stored online, so although I have lots of important photo albums from the “old days” when you actually had to use a camera with film and take it to MotoPhoto to get developed, I opted not to lug those along.

I will have to deal with those sometime soon.

Anyway, it was really hard to pick what I simply could not bear to lose, because there are lots of things.

I would guess most of you feel the same way about certain things too.

I picked a box full of letters I wrote to “my future husband” when I was a teenager, since they’re freaking ancient now, and also since they were something I made for Will before I even really knew him.

I picked our wedding video, as well as another small box of important “stuff.” There were still two other boxes I was unable to bring, which made me sad. I suppose in hindsight I should have just brought another small bag and found a way to cram it in the shelter with us.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way, right?

Anyway- I suppose I should get to the point.

After the dust settled from the five tornadoes that tore through the state that night, I put a couple of my prized possessions in their place the following morning.

It was at that moment I noticed a small little book with the words, “Gratitude Journal” inscribed on the front.

As soon as I saw it I instantly remembered how important this book was to me, and I was surprised how easily I had forgotten about it!

Back in 2004 I started writing little letters to Will in it, capturing some of the funny or sweet things he had done throughout various days that brought me joy or for which I was grateful.

It was funny to look back at all I had written.

I kept this little journal active when I was in Kuwait, and would try to write in it at least once a week, recalling small events that made me appreciate Will.

Although I had seemingly forgotten about it, I sure would have been sad to have lost this book.

It brought me such joy over the years.

I remember at the time thinking how doing something like this really made me appreciate the small stuff, and how absolutely crazy we were about each other. And even when it seemed like Will and I weren’t as absolutely crazy about each other as we were during our newlywed stage, there was certainly a deep love that abounded and something I could certainly see in those little day-to-day recollections.

And it was nice! It was a way to count my blessings, no matter how small, and in doing so my love for Will got stronger.

And it’s so strange how you can be in the habit of doing something, and then all of a sudden stop without any reason, really.

And not only that, but forget about such a treasure altogether.

I wrote sporadically from 2004 to 2007, and it looks like I forgot about the book and picked up once again in 2008.

The last entry was in January, when we were still in Kuwait and had no idea we would soon be moving home. 

And now I am sort of bummed I didn’t keep it up to date with little everyday thoughts of gratitude the last five years. Because I am sure there was enough to fill he book by now!

It’s funny. When we first moved back to America in 2008, I felt like I had so much time on my hands.

It was crazy!

Granted, at the end in KuwaitI was working all week for about 11 hours a day, which left no free time at all. Moving home was like a vacation.

However, it’s interesting how “so much time” can be filled with tons of empty “stuff.”

I have been struggling with how to be a better time manager time lately, and finding this book was a nice reminder that I need to fill my life with more goodness and less meaninglessness.

Do I really need to check social media a million times a day?

Could I find time in my schedule to volunteer once a month?

Can I make my family a bigger priority?

How can I be more efficient on the road, at work, in the morning, during my evening hours?

I saw an interesting quote the other day by someone who said, “I make myself rich by making my wants few.”

This statement struck a chord deep within me.

I find myself getting excited about a million things,

wanting a million things,

trying to commit 100% of myself to a million things,

or at least the idea of a million things, which in and of itself can be exhausting.

And before long, I feel like I am on this never-ending hamster wheel of complete insanity.

And I end up exhausting myself and being ineffective.

Seeing this journal.

Reading such simplistic thanks for the most basic of niceties or compliments really refocused me on the richness in enjoying each and every day, free from as much clutter as possible.

I’ll be honest. I don’t have a plan of attack yet, but I am certainly thinking about it.

My first action is to make a daily appointment with God each morning.

So often I hurry myself through my Bible study and make such little time to pray, let alone take time to really seek God or take in His word.

That alone will be a major step to my time management and refocusing.

I also think it will help with the prioritization of so much else. This one act will really help set each day on the right path of less clutter, and I know from firsthand experience.

I have also been thinking about ways to manage my evenings better. There are plenty of things I can do over the course of the week that I leave until the weekend.

I’ve also been thinking about realistic volunteer opportunities. Instead of saying I am going to do something twice a week and then never doing it, how about setting a more attainable goal for myself?

Anyway- you get the picture.

I have so much to be grateful for, and really want to take time to focus on such things.

So the book.

I suppose we should get back to that, since that’s where it all started, right?

The book remains unfinished, with lots of pages left to write.

I decided it would be a fitting ten year anniversary to give to Will next March.

That leaves me plenty of time to fill it full of more day-to-day gratefulness and memories to look back on in another ten years.

It also leaves me with a little time to harness my time and make it count. And who knows, maybe that will end up leading to more gratuitous memories to write to Will?

Would I have liked to have more for him to read between 2008 and today?

Obviously.

But the good thing is that I found it last week and not another five years from now, looking back thinking, “What in the heck have I been doing with my time?”

So here’s to a refocus and rededication of everyday gratefulness in the small stuff.

Because most of the time, that’s the big stuff.

More to come…

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About

brittny I'm B-Love. Lover of God, my husband Will, my doggies, OU football, weight training, plyometrics healthy eating (mostly!), peanut butter, and all things health related. Buckle up and get ready for my constant embarrassing moments, health and fitness tips,and my effort to rely on Christ while living life in the real world. Follow me on Feedly! Sign up for monthly emails at blove@theblovelife.com!


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