Passionate About Life

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If I am being completely honest, spring quarter was a hard one for me. I left behind familiarity and friends to seek out something I was passionate about. Environmental studies is not offered at Walla Walla University and overall I was feeling a little trapped. I couldn’t live off campus, I wasn’t able to drive 5 min to see the sea, and I was hours away from home. And I really wish that I could have my friends and still attend the university that was best suited for me. But I couldn’t, so I moved to Bellingham to attend Western Washington University.

The adjustment period was a bit rough, if you know me at all, then you would know I’m quite introverted. So introverted that I scored the highest on a test I had to do in a health class. So making friends proved to be challenging and not having my study buddies around made things worse. But I’ve managed and now I am here, done with spring qtr.

I was flipping through my bullet journal on Saturday evening and came across a page of quotes from April of last year. The one that stuck out to me the most said…

“I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. He taught me that if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.”

It’s a quote by Roald Dahl. And it was a simple reminder to run full speed ahead at the things I’m passionate about. It reminded me that I haven’t done any community service or volunteer work in almost a year and that I miss it dearly. It made me realize that I shouldn’t hold back my passion for creating and that I should embrace it. And most importantly it reminded me to run towards a major in environmental studies wholeheartedly. I’ve been holding back, sulking, and getting lost in it all. But sometimes we just need a gentle to reminder to focus on a few things and do them well in life.

So this week, I encourage you to be an enthusiast about your life.  Find your passions in life and seek them out wholeheartedly.

Things I Do “Everyday” to Stay Healthy

IMG_8935.jpgIt can be hard to stay healthy…When you are busy and stressed, it is easy to forget to take care of yourself. I know that I struggle to be healthy the most when I am going through a bout of depression. Either I don’t eat, or I eat something processed that sounds like a good idea, but ends up making me feel worse in the end. So today, I thought I would share with you a few things that I do almost every day to be just a bit healthier.

  1. Drink Water. This one might seem a little obvious, but a really simple way to help your body is to drink water! I try to drink two cups of water first thing in the morning to jumpstart my system. Then throughout the day, I try to drink between 2-3L of water. If you have trouble with drinking water, try adding fruit or lemon slices to add some flavor.
  2. Green Powders. After my water, I’ve been having either a smoothie or just some orange juice with green powders mixed in. Currently, the two powders I am using are spirulina and barley grass juice powder. Spirulina contains 60% protein and is an excellent source of vitamins A, K1, K2, B12 and iron, manganese and chromium. While barley grass juice powder contains beta carotene, vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, pantothenic acid, and folic acid.
  3. Yoga. I like to take 10-15min each morning to do a little yoga outside. It helps to wake up my muscles and get me ready to conquer the day. You don’t have to be a master yogi to do this. I’ve taken a couple classes and watched a few videos, but now I just roll out my mat and move my body. It is that simple.
  4. Consume Fermented Foods. Fermented foods like saurkraut and kombucha will help introduce good bacteria into your gut, which will lead to better digestion and a happy gut leads to better overall health!
  5. Load Up on Fruits and Veggies. I’ve found that personally, I feel the best when eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies throughout my day. I like to drink smoothies, eat whole fruits, and have big salads at dinner or simply just eat some steamed veggies. The more you eat them, the better they will taste and the healthier you will feel!
  6. Eat an Early Dinner. My mom has always had me eat an earlier dinner, and I didn’t really know why until I was on my own. Eating an earlier dinner leads to better digestion and better sleep! And both of those things will lead to you feeling a lot healthier.
  7. Go to Bed Early. I’ve always heard that the hours of sleep that you get before midnight count as double. Unfortunately, this isn’t true, but during the first third of our sleep cycle, we experience our deepest sleep. This is the time that is the most restorative for our bodies, so hop into bed a little earlier and take advantage of your slow wave sleep.

I am by no means perfect. Hence the quotation marks in the title. There are certainly days that involve sleeping in till 10 am, eating frozen waffles for breakfast, skipping all forms of exercise, eating at 10 pm, staying up late, throwing caution to the wind. But I’ve started to realize that by doing these simple things every day, I feel a lot better, even on days when everything else around me seems to be falling apart. There are tons of ways to live a healthy life, so get out there and experiment. Find what works best for you and let me know! I would love to hear some of the things you try to do every day to stay healthy.

A Note on Mental Illnesses

If you don’t suffer from a mental illness, sometimes it can be hard to understand what your family and friends are going through. I can’t speak for anyone besides myself, but I thought I’d give you an idea of what depression and anxiety can feel like.

Depression…

It creeps up on you at the most inopportune times, right before big papers are due or before finals week. It robs you of your will to keep going, of your motivation, sometimes even of your will to live. It makes you hide in your bed for long hours, avoiding texts, phone calls, class, homework, eating, … pretty much anything. It locks you inside on sunny days and tells you not to reach out for help. It makes you feel like a failure and a burden. It lets you know that since you can’t do this one thing right that there is no point to go on. On the worst days, it leaves you numb, feeling like you are unable to move or speak. It has the tendency to grab hold of you and can be very hard to shake off. For someone who suffers from depression, they can’t just be happy or let it go. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. So be patient with them and encourage them to seek out help, because nothing is worse than suffering alone.

Anxiety…

Anxiety is not just being nervous, it is when the worries and fears you have are so strong that you interfere with your life. There are so many different types of anxiety and they all affect people in different ways. I suffer from generalized anxiety. I can worry about anything and everything. From whether I locked my car to if the headaches I have are from a brain tumor. Sometimes it can be as simple of a feeling of panic arise anytime I do something new, different, or wrong. Being late to class can bring on a feeling of uncontrollable panic. Sometimes it starts as a little voice in the back of your head and then slowly or not so slowly begins to make you feel on edge. Often the voices just get louder and louder until something is done to fix it. And like depression, it often starts at the most inopportune times. Just last quarter my anxiety went from manageable to a near panic attack in my lab final. It can be difficult to learn to manage and I’ve often pulled away from doing anything new to avoid my symptoms of anxiety. I’ve canceled countless plans due to my anxiety and I’m sure that people probably thought I didn’t want to see them. But in reality, I was too afraid to reach out and tell them that I was feeling anxious. So again be patient and please encourage them to seek out help, because suffering alone is horrible. I would know, I did it for years and years.

Mental health is a touchy subject still, it still isn’t treated like real illnesses. If you broke your leg and had to cancel plans because of it, people would totally understand. But if you say you can’t because you are feeling depressed or anxious, it is likely you will be told you’re fine or just get over it, or it will be fun, don’t be such a downer… etc. When people say these things it just makes it harder for people with mental illnesses to reach out and get help. I’ve often heard a little voice pop up in my head telling me what I am going through is not real and when I get shut down, it just is like pouring gas on a little spark. Something so tiny is turned into a roaring fire. So I plead, for me and other people who suffer from mental illness to be patient and supportive.

If you have ever contemplated suicide, just know that you are not alone. You are not bad for having those thoughts, you are by no means damaged. You are a beautiful human and I beg to you seek out help and support. Call a friend or family, call your campus hotline, call the police, call the national suicide hotline (1-800-273-8255), just please call somebody. Your life is too precious to end it, the dark days, although they feel long, will pass and the sun will come out again.

Side note, don’t forget to use person first language when talking about people and the mental illnesses they suffer from. So instead of “she is autistic” or “she is depressed”, switch your language to “she suffers from autism” or “she suffers from depression”. It can be surprising the difference it can make it people’s lives, to know that they are more than the illnesses they suffer from.

 

May Favorites

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I feel like I say this every month, but it feels like May has slipped through my fingers. I can’t believe that it is already June! June is probably my favorite month, something about the weather, all the delicious fruit that starts ripening, oh and my birthday…! Anyways, this isn’t all about June yet, so let’s get back to my favorites for May.

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Beauty

  • Uncle Harry’s toothpaste – This toothpaste has been absolutely amazing. I picked it up when I was starting to run out of my old toothpaste that came in a plastic tube. This comes in a glass jar, which I love, but when I first started it using it, it felt a bit strange. The essential oils make it extremely minty and the texture is quite different, but now I wouldn’t imagine going back to conventional toothpaste. My teeth have never felt healthier and it does an excellent job at leaving your teeth sparklingly fresh. I’m sad that I am nearly out, but before I rebuy it I am going to attempt a DIY version. But I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for a pre-made zero waste or a natural version for conventional toothpaste.
  • Nubian Heritage Mango Butter Scrub – This body scrub is a m a z i n g ….. It makes your skin feel and smell amazing! I like to pair it with some baking soda to cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturize my skin. I honestly can’t get over how soft it makes my skin. It is another one that I would love to attempt a DIY version so I can avoid the plastic packaging, but I don’t think I could recreate the amazing smell. I would definitely give it a try, especially if you have dry skin. ( I have oily skin, so that is why I pair it with the baking soda)
  • Shea Butter African Black Soap (lemongrass citrus) – I just started using this soap towards the end of the month when I ran out of my liquid body was from Alaffia, and Oh Mah God. This stuff is amazing. I was looking for a new body soap that didn’t come in plastic packaging but wanted to stick with this brand, because I absolutely love their products. This soap delivers my friend, it is cleansing, yet still moisturizing and leaves me wondering why I didn’t switch to this bar soap sooner. For added benefit, I hang it in a mesh cotton bag, which keeps it contained and also exfoliates my skin. And it comes in wrapped in paper, which is pretty good as far as zero waste beauty products go. 10/10 would recommend, especially with the mesh bag.

Food

  • Nature’s Bakery Strawberry Fig Bars – I know, doesn’t really fit with my movement toward living a less wasteful life, but they are so good…. They are a way tastier version of fig newtons and they’ve definitely been a life saver on days when I am too busy to pack food to take to campus. They are a still going to be a favorite, despite the waste they create. But I definitely need to a find a better solution for next month.
  • Home Brewed Kombucha – If you are a kombucha lover, then I highly recommend searching your local craigslist and investing a few dollars in a scooby. Brewing your own kombucha is really simple and in the end is so much cheaper than buying it at the store. And it also is way less wasteful because you can buy your tea and sugar in bulk, brew it and store it in glass jars. If you live in the Bellingham area, let me know if you need a scooby, with each new batch I end up with more babies than I know what to do with.

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Fashion

  • Still Water Earrings – I picked up these beauties at the farmers market, and they are the first pair of earrings that I actually love. They are dangly, yet simple, and most importantly comfortable and cute! Unfortunately, you can’t purchase them online, but if you are ever in Bellingham on a Saturday, hit up the farmer’s market and check out the jewelry stalls. There are tons of options and they are all handmade!
  • Merrell Mix Master Move Glide Trail Running Shoes – Does this even count as fashion? Probably better suited in the health category, but whateverrrr. These trail running shoes are my new fav closed toed shoes. Lab day was painful before these beauties entered my life and I hiking ceased to exist before I got these. I was a lucky duck and got these on sale at REI, but these shoes are so good that I would probably pay full price now that I know. They are minimal, yet still, give support and there was no “break in” period. You know, the time when you get ugly blisters and question if it is really worth it? Anyway, these are the first pair of running shoes I’ve ever loved whole heartedly. Summer trail runs here I come!

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Home

  • Salt Lamp – I had been curious about salt lamps for a while, but not due to their supposed health benefits, but rather for the warm and comforting light they emit. I bought this one off of a friend who was moving away and I’ve loved it ever since. It’s perfect to turn on in the evenings right before bed because it is a dim warm light that doesn’t mess with your body. I would highly recommend getting one if you are looking for some nice dim room lighting.

Entertainment

  • Rabbits – I stumbled across this podcast and I was instantly hooked. If you are into mystery and intrigue, definitely give it a listen. For added fun, listen to it while walking to it alone it the forest. Definitely, adds to the scary element.

    “When Carly Parker’s friend Yumiko goes missing under very mysterious circumstances, Carly’s search for her friend leads her headfirst into a ancient mysterious game known only as Rabbits. Soon Carly begins to suspect that Rabbits is much more than just a game, and that the key to understanding Rabbits, might be the key to the survival of our species, and the Universe, as we know it.”

  • S-Town – Another great podcast, which I promptly completed in a couple of days.

    “John despises his Alabama town and decides to do something about it. He asks a reporter to investigate the son of a wealthy family who’s allegedly been bragging that he got away with murder. But then someone else ends up dead, sparking a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man’s life.”

  • Ponzi Supernova – These episodes are so short its a crime, but nevertheless it is another captivating podcast. It is still coming out, so a great podcast to start for the month of June.
    Bernie Madoff Speaks.
    “Was his $65 billion fraud a freak occurrence, or destined to be repeated? An exclusive audio investigation into the dark interior of our financial systems.”

Coconut Chia Seed Pudding | A Note on Sugar

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It has been said that sugar is the cigarettes of our generation and honestly I didn’t really realize how addictive it was until I tried to stop eating it. And this is even after I’d given up most refined sugars. I’ve always had a sweet tooth, but I’ve always preferred more natural sugars. I’ve had several birthdays during my childhood where I had half a watermelon as my cake, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t consume my fair share of sugar. I often load up on lots of “natural sugars”, like maple syrup, brown rice syrup, dates, honey, coconut sugar… And even those are unhealthy if consumed regularly. So in the spirit of health, I’ve decided to share one of my favorite sugarless recipes that can still qualify as a dessert.

Coconut Chia Seed Pudding

  • 1 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 water
  • 6-9 tb chia seeds*
  • 1 lemon zested
  • frozen or fresh berries

Blend the coconut milk and water until smooth. Pour out into a container and mix in the chia seeds and lemon zest. Pour into storage jars and leave in the fridge until the chia seeds have soaked up all the liquid and expanded. Top with fresh or frozen berries.

*depending on how thick or thin you like your pudding

Acai Bowl

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Acai Bowls are one of those standard hip health food things, but they can be really expensive if you buy them at a smoothie bar. Making them at home is less expensive and allows to you make them customizable to your own taste and preferences. It’s taken me many packets of pureed acai to get to this point, but I think I have finally figured out the perfect acai bowl recipe.

If you can’t afford the acai puree, just leave it out. I’m sure that if you had the right combination of blueberries and strawberries, you could totally fake the color and nobody on Instagram would know that you are a poor college student.

Ingredients

1 packet of acai puree (Sambazon is my favorite brand)

1.5 frozen bananas

1/2 frozen strawberries

1/4-1/2 of apple or orange juice and a little small of water

toppings: chopped fruit, buckwheat groats, coconut flakes, chia seeds, granola, flax seed meal… are just a few of my favorites.

Defrost the acai puree under hot water and pour into the blender. Chop up the frozen bananas and add in, along with the strawberries. Start with a small amount of juice and water and blend using the tamper. If your blender is struggling add more liquid. My advice is to start small with the liquid because once you add too much you can’t really take it back. When it is fully blended, transfer into a bowl, and place in the freezer while you get your toppings ready. Then decorate if you so please, otherwise just toss it on and enjoy!

Let me know if you have a favorite acai bowl recipe.

 

April Favorites

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I can’t believe it’s May already! Last month was crazy. Between adjusting to my new life in Bellingham and starting my first quarter at Western Washington University, April just seemed to fly by.

First up on my list of favorites, is the ring pictured above. After living here for a couple of weeks, I noticed that a lot of people were wearing layers of lots of really cool rings. So when I stumbled upon this one at the farmers market, I knew I couldn’t leave it behind.  Continue reading

Smoothie Recipes

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Smoothies are a really great way to add nutrition into your body fast. Without them, I don’t know if I would be surviving college right now. And the great thing about them, is that once you get the hang of it, you’ll be a master at throwing stuff into the blender and having a delicious smoothie in minutes. But incase you aren’t that good at improvising, I’ve collected a few of my favorite smoothie recipes. And here is a cool green smoothie chart guide. Continue reading

Vegan What I Ate Wednesday #1

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7:30am: I usually like to start out my day with a big smoothie. Today it contained 2 oranges, 1 cup frozen strawberries, 1 frozen banana, and water.

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11:00am: I got hungry in my wellness for living class, so I snacked on some tamari almond while learning about fats. It was almost like I had planned it.

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12:30pm: I was feeling like eating lots of green food for lunch. I started out with a big salad that had 1 cup spinach, 1 cup romaine mix, 1/2 avocado, 1/3 cup cucumber slices, 1/2 lemon juiced, and 1/4 cup raw sauerkraut. Then I ate a cup of brown rice with braggs amino acid along with 1 cup of steamed broccoli.

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1:00pm For my dessert after lunch I had a bartlett pear. It wasn’t the ripest, despite being yellow, but nevertheless it was still delicious.

3:00pm: Got my workout in with a 1.5mile run.

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4:00pm: Post run oatmeal, if you know me, it wouldn’t be a day without a bowl of oats.

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5:30pm: Pasta with broccoli and mushrooms from the cafeteria. Granted I did just eat oatmeal, but carbs are life and I felt like pasta.

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8:15pm: 2 dates with coconut flakes for dessert

9:00pm: vitamin D & vitamin b12

This is a realistic what I eat in a day, I am not perfect, but I try my best to meet the RDA requirements with whole plant based foods while still eating on a college diet. It is possible to eat healthy and vegan in college, you just have to be committed to it. Above I have posted what my day of eating looks like when I plug into Cron-o-meter. I didn’t quite meet all my targets, but I was close at 99%

Bananas 3 ways

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Bananas are honestly one of the best foods you can eat in college. They are rich in potassium, vitamin B6, manganese, and other essential vitamins and unripe bananas are quite starchy which acts as insoluble fiber in you digestive system.  I mean, they are cheap and healthy, how could it get any better than that? Bananas = perfect college student food

Continue reading