Lessons Learned Through 1 Year of Marriage and Powerlifting (Plus, Our Anniversary Celebration!)

This past weekend, I celebrated both 1 year of marriage and 1 year of powerlifting. Aidan and I celebrated our first anniversary with a trip to D.C. and a fancy hotel stay, and while away for the weekend, I started reflecting on the lessons learned through a year of marriage and a year of consistently working out.

I wanted to share the things I’ve learned and the things I’ve found to be important in both of these areas because the more I thought about it, the more many things overlapped (surprisingly!).

Be Supportive:

I spent the last quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017 deep in the development, marketing, and finally, actual running of my online course, Build Your Biome. And, man, it was a lot of work. It was something I really wanted to get out into the world, and I needed support to be able to do that.

Through my long days (and nights, if I’m being honest) working on this program, my husband was there to support me. He cooked meals, did the household chores, and gave me pep talks when technology was about to make my brain explode.

When he has rough weeks, I’m right there by his side to help do the same.

When it comes to powerlifting, I give my body the support it needs. I feed it good food (and enough food), I give it the rest it needs, and I listen to it. When I was working incessantly to create my course, there were (many!) weeks that my body just couldn’t handle going to the gym for my usual 4 days per week. I listened to that signal and, for a while, just went twice a week.

Bottom line: in both your relationships and healthy habits, it’s incredibly important to be supportive. Pick up the slack when your partner is having a rough time (and enjoy the same in return), and give your body the food and rest it needs to function its best.

Sometimes It’s Hard Work, But It’s Worth it:

 

As someone who’s been in an 11-year relationship, I honestly think the key to a healthy marriage is communication. If something bothers you, say so. Figure it out. Talk about it. Don’t let resentment fester until it’s a huge problem — discuss things before they get to that point!

I get it, though. Conflict is hard. It sucks to have to talk about negative things and have difficult conversations with people you care about deeply. But you know what? This is what healthy relationships are built upon. And if you want to experience a life-changing amount of love, you need to be willing to put in the hard work to get it. Communication (at least for me) is definitely the hardest part…I like to shy away from conflict! But let me tell you — it’s well worth it.

I also tend to be someone who shies away from things that I’m not good at. Who likes to do things that they know they don’t really excel at? Not me! I’m the first to admit that I’m not a great powerlifting. And, truly, I don’t expect to be at 1 year in. But my body does a lot of weird stuff that makes some of the major lifts difficult (I’m looking at you long femurs…), and honestly, I’m just not that strong (yet!).

Normally, though, I probably would’ve given up on this hobby a while ago because I tend to be a competitive person. I like to to be the best at something, and it’s hard to admit to myself that not only am I not the best, but I’m not even close (probably the weakest person in my gym!).

Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m so far behind others that I don’t see the point in trying to compete that’s kept me going. Honestly, I’m not sure! But what I do know is that lately I’ve been focused simply on competing with myself instead of others, and that feels really great.

My point in all this? Do the hard stuff. The rewards are worth it.

Have An Identity Outside of Your Relationships and Hobbies:

I realize this is kind of cliché advice, but it’s really good advice! Whether we’re talking about your relationship or your health habits (like eating well or exercising), you can’t let these things take over your life completely.

It’s so important to have other relationships in your life and focus on things that aren’t health-related. Focusing on one person or activity is a recipe for disaster!

You can’t depend on one person to meet all your social needs, and you can’t expect a healthy, happy life if you focus so much time and energy on one or two aspects of health like eating well or exercising while neglecting the rest.

Be well-rounded in your life — have a variety of social relationships and think about and do things outside of health!

Mix It Up:

What I LOVE about my coach is that he changes up my lifting cycle every 4-8 weeks. For one cycle, I might focus on hypertrophy, and the next might be gearing up to max out on a particular lift. There’s enough consistency in there to see results, but it’s not the same thing over and over again (which not only gets boring, but also gets you sub-par results).

I take this lesson into my marriage as well. We are huge travelers and love going on adventures together, and this has been a huge part of our relationship. To experience a new culture or place with my husband makes our bond stronger.

I imagined that being with someone for over 10 years might eventually get a little boring, but I’ve been surprised to find that life is just as fun if you make sure to mix up your daily routine as much as possible!

And if you’re thinking: “I don’t know… I don’t like to travel” or “I don’t have much time off” – it doesn’t have to be travel necessarily! Even just exploring a different neighborhood nearby, or trying a new restaurant can be a dose of adventure when you need it, so get creative!

Point is, you’ve got to mix it up. Your exercise regimen won’t be as effective if you do the same thing all the time, and your marriage won’t be as strong if you don’t get out of your usual routine once in a while.

Celebrate The Milestones:

I consider this the “treat yo’self” lesson. Celebrate the wins as much as possible! This helps you stay motivated to keep up a good habit (like exercise), and it helps celebrate the hard work you’ve put into a relationship or your healthy routine.

For exercise, one of the ways that I treat myself is by buying new workout clothes as a celebration of particular milestones. Hit a new max? Time for a new sports bra! There’s something great about pulling on brand spankin’ new spandex or a new sports bra that really gets me excited to go to the gym and reminds me of how far I’ve come.

My husband and I never really celebrated our relationship on a yearly basis until last year when we got married to celebrate 10 years together. This year, we decided we should probably get in the habit of celebrating in some way, so we headed to Washington, D.C. for the weekend and splurged on a fancy hotel (The Jefferson).

Such a great opportunity to mix up our daily routine, spend lots of quality time with each other without other distractions, and certainly a treat for both of us!

The Jefferson Hotel was absolutely gorgeous, and the service was phenomenal. Here’s a few pictures to make you a little jealous, and remind you to TREAT YO’SELF every once in a while to celebrate your accomplishments in life. 😉

Classic, beautiful decor.

 

This photo makes the bathtub looks rather small, but in reality, it was so deep and luxurious. Loved it!

 

The best way to be welcomed to a hotel. I don’t even like white chocolate, but these were SO GOOD.

After indulging in those chocolate-covered strawberries, we headed out to explore D.C. Since we only had about two half-days to spend here after driving from NYC, we picked 3 main things to do: the International Spy Museum (really cool!), searching for hidden doors at the Mansion on O Street (quirky, weird place but super fun…we found 8 I think!), and checking out the Dupont Underground (slightly disappointing, but it sounds like they’re working on adding some cool stuff down there).

I must’ve been so consumed with being out-and-about because I didn’t take any pictures of D.C.! Lame on my part — sorry! Next time, D.C., next time…

For our first afternoon, we went to the Spy Museum, then headed back to the hotel for some drinks and then dinner! Possibly went a little too far with the “treat yo’self” idea when we g0t $18 cocktails at the Jefferson’s lounge, Quill. But, wow, they were seriously well-made. Absolutely a splurge, but I gotta say, they were really good, and the atmosphere was great. So…don’t judge me.

I got the House of Orange (Bols Genever, Pierre Ferr and Dry Curacao,
Aperol, Orange bitters) and Aidan got the Triple Crown Jewel (Bulleit Bourbon, Tarragon Lemonade, and Strawberry Grenedine). So good!

We went out for Italian food after having these drinks (yes, I ate gluten — lobster ravioli, in fact). After we finished, it was pretty late, so we headed back to The Jefferson for a bath and bedtime.

The next day, we headed to the Mansion on O Street and the Dupont Underground before heading back home to NYC. It was a short trip, but so much fun, and a reminder that we’ve put some much hard work into our relationship over the last 11 years, and we’ve made a beautiful life together. <3

How do you celebrate life’s accomplishments? Comment below!

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How To Keep a Food Journal (Plus 10 Things To Keep Track Of)

How To Keep a Food Journal (Plus 10 Things To Keep Track Of)

Meal LoggerWhenever I start working with a client, I always tell them to keep a food and symptom diary. It’s one of the most important tools to use when we’re trying to figure out possible food sensitivities, as well as instrumental in losing weight and keeping it off. In fact, it’s been shown that those who keep a food journal at least 6 days a week lose (on average) twice as much weight as those who don’t (1). In my experience, a combination of a paleo elimination diet with keeping a food journal provides the best results in terms of finding hidden food sensitivities. For these reasons, I think keeping track of your intake with a journal is one of the best things you can do for your health.

 

What App Should I Use to Keep Track of My Food?

I’m always experimenting with new phone apps for this purpose because I find that they are the easiest way to keep track of my intake. I’ve tried the usual ones like MyFitnessPal, but they are time-consuming (if you’ve ever tried this app, I’m sure you’ll say the same!) and too calorie-focused.

One app I’ve found recently is called Meal Logger, and it has by far surpassed all the other apps I’ve tried. Meal Logger works on your desktop, iPhone, or Android and is super easy. Instead of entering each food and portion size individually, you just snap a picture of your food and upload it to your journal. You can also put a note that corresponds with your picture (i.e. “2 scrambled eggs and sweet potato”). Keeping track of your food literally takes 30 seconds!

With Meal Logger you can also add a “Daily Note”, which patients have been using to enter some of the symptoms they had that day, keep track of blood sugar levels, or let me know that they had a stressful day. Some patients also just upload a picture and use the note that corresponds with it to enter their symptoms there. Though I wish Meal Logger included some built-in tools for symptoms, there are easy ways to include them even without that.

You can also connect with your nutritionist or other professional via Meal Logger so that they can see what you’ve been eating, which is my favorite part of the app. As a dietitian, I can send an email to a client inviting them to use the program. When they accept, they show up as one of my clients and I can see whatever they have put in their diary. It’s a super easy way for me to keep track of what’s going in everyone’s mouth! When we have follow ups, I don’t have to wade through emails upon emails looking for your journal – it’s all right at my fingertips.

I highly suggest checking out Meal Logger if you’re looking for a program that will let you easily keep track of your food intake. It doesn’t rely on calorie-counting (though there are some tools within the app if you really want to go that route), it makes it easy to see portion sizes, and you can even connect to your nutritionist or other professional through the app for easy transfer of information.

 

10 Things to Keep Track Of

When you’re keeping a food diary, you should of course make sure to put everything that crosses your lips into the journal. Though you can enter food items without pictures via Meal Logger, I highly suggest snapping some pics before entering the information, especially if you’re keeping this for your dietitian! But beyond the obvious, let’s talk about some things you should make sure to include:

  1. Spices: It’s possible to be sensitive to spices, so it’s a good idea to include these in your journal. Since we’re just taking pictures, you’ll want to make sure to include any spices beyond salt and pepper in your note that goes with the picture.
  2. Cooking Fats: It’s always useful to know what fat something was cooked in, so definitely include this information in your note, too.
  3. Hidden ingredients: This goes along with what we’ve already mentioned – make sure to write down any ingredients that aren’t obvious from your photo. For example, if you made a sauce that was on top of your chicken instead of writing “sauce”, write down exactly what you made the sauce with.
  4. If you ate out: If you ate out at a restaurant, make sure to write that in your note! Though you may know now it was a meal outside the house, you might forget later when you’re looking back or if you’re sending it into your nutritionist, he or she may not know.
  5. If you didn’t finish the meal: You’ll be taking pictures before you start your meal, so make sure to write yourself (or your nutritionist) a note that you didn’t finish your meal. If you want to be extra good, you could even take another picture of the stuff you didn’t finish. Or, just write a quick note approximating the portion that was left untouched.
  6. Bowel Movements: Yeah, maybe not the most pleasant thing to write about but it’s important! You can write this in your Daily Note or put it in your journal – either way works. And be a little specific – was it loose, formed, diarrhea, etc?
  7. Your specific symptoms: If you’re trying to get rid of reflux, hives, or whatever other symptom you may have, make sure you keep track of when these symptoms are popping up for you throughout the day. When you (or you and your nutritionist) look back at older diaries, you’ll then be able to pick up on patterns and potentially find hidden food sensitivities.
  8. Life Stress: If you had an extremely stressful day, write it down! Stress can be related to your symptoms as well as food, so don’t forget about it.
  9. Exercise: Meal Logger allows you to keep track of workouts as well – make sure to use this feature!
  10. Sleep: Meal Logger also allows you to track sleep. You can sync it with a device you use for this (like a FitBit) so that it will be done for you, or you enter it manually.

  Do you have any favorite apps for keeping track of your meals?

Sources:

1. Hollis, Jack F., et al. “Weight loss during the intensive intervention phase of the weight-loss maintenance trial.” American journal of preventive medicine35.2 (2008): 118.

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Caramelized Orange Juice Carnitas

Caramelized Orange Juice Carnitas

 

[yumprint-recipe id=’2′]Secret tip: orange juice. Seriously, it makes these carnitas to die for. Yes, you can make carnitas without it, but don’t.IMG_1489

Kitchen equipment:

  • Dutch oven or slow cooker

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 lbs pork shoulder, chopped into big cubes (you can easily do a bigger roast, just add a little more of all other ingredients. Trust me, you’ll want leftovers)
  • 2 large oranges
  • 1 tbs chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, chopped
  • 1 tbs lard
  • salt and pepper
  • lettuce for wraps
  • any other toppings you’d like!

Directions:

  • If you’re starting with a full pork shoulder, trim the skin and chop the meat and fat into large cubes. 
  • Coat the bottom of the dutch oven or slow cooker with lard
  • Chop onion and poblano pepper and add to dutch oven
  • Add pork shoulder
  • Sprinkle on all the spices and toss
  • Squeeze orange juice and grate some zest into the dutch oven
  • Mix it all together
  • Let simmer on low for ~2-3 hours with cover on
  • Once the orange juice has evaporated and the fat has rendered, take off the cover and turn up the heat to let the meat crisp up in the fat
  • Put meat in a lettuce wrap and add whatever toppings you’d like!