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6 Ways to Choose Living Over Existing

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6 Ways to Choose Living Over Existing

Everyone has their own way of dealing with stress - retail therapy, binging on junk food, drinking tequila, etc. - but there are countless avenues to explore for a healthier and happier lifestyle. Now, when I say “stress” I’m not talking about the short bursts of stress that can actually have a positive impact on our lives by motivating us and helping us perform under pressure. I’m talking about the long-term, toxic stress in our lives that result in mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion. Burn-out. If we constantly run in “emergency” mode, our bodies and minds will pay the price. Whether there’s an illness in your family, a mountain of bills, or that overbearing boss, it’s time to take action and bring your nervous system back into balance. If you haven’t guessed already, learning how to cope with stress is one of the most beneficial things we can do for ourselves. We just so happen to live in a city that is chock-full of adventures for us to explore, and it has something to offer for everyone!

Naturally, most people like routine and I do as well, to an extent. However, if I have too much of a routine and no wiggle room for a spontaneous day then I will go crazy. Some of my favorite memories have resulted from stepping out of my comfort zone and not knowing what was 30 minutes ahead of me: “It feels good to be lost in the right direction.” Sure, we have work and responsibilities that we need to keep up with… but isn’t that what the weekends are for? Climb a mountain, drive with no destination, take a new bus not knowing where it’s going. Simply get lost. I decided to rattle off just a few, simply solutions to add a little flare to your life while reducing stress at the same time!


Photo Credit : unsplash.com

Photo Credit : unsplash.com

FOR THE ADVENTURER: 

FunCheapSF - Here’s a website that makes finding an adventure effortless! They keep up with posting events going on in the Bay Area that day, week, and month. This will give you the chance to explore a new hobby or activity without breaking the bank. And as always, if you’re unsure about something, Yelp is your best friend. You’ll find yourself trying things that have never crossed your mind and maybe you’ll even find a new hobby! Corgi races? I didn’t know that existed but I’m sure happy that it does!

TIP: Try something new each week! Exploration is good for the soul.

Find a Good View! - I don’t know about you, but there’s something about being on top of the world that gives me a rush. When you take a step back from the chaos that is San Francisco, and step into a place without car horns and your daily routine, you’ll find a wave of tranquility wash over you. And a view doesn’t necessarily translate to being up high in the clouds. One of my favorite views in the Bay Area is just across the Golden Gate Bridge in the Marin Headlands. It’s sea level and has a breathtaking view of the Golden Gate and ocean. Kirby Cove can be reached by car (when the campground is open) or foot which requires a little hike down to the beach, but you won’t regret it. It can change your mood right around just by seeing it.

TIP: I bring my Eno hammock wherever I go because you can hang it up just about anywhere with trees! Some wine doesn’t hurt either.

Photo Credit : pixabay.com

Photo Credit : pixabay.com

FOR THE FOODIE : 

Make it an Event! - For those of you who like to eat, drink, and be merry,  Eventbrite has plenty of options for de-stressing! Instead of binge watching West World with a bag of chips and a beer, you’ll find that attending an event centered on food and/or drink will distract you from the actual eating and drinking part! You’ll still get the comfort that food and/or drink provides you, but the social aspect will cause you to eat slower, and therefore, feel full faster. Boom. Plus, it’s typical for these types of events to either provide samplers or smaller portions of food instead of an entire dish. Who doesn’t like to try a little bit of everything? 

TIP: Classes are offered too, so whilst you’re satisfying your stress by eating and/or drinking, you can learn a little something to take home with you too.

 


Photo Credit : unspash.com

Photo Credit : unspash.com

FOR THE SHOPPER : 

People deal with stress in a variety of ways - retail therapy - so instead of relieving stress by only spending money, make something out of it! When you’re stressed out and feeling a loss of control, shopping sometimes helps restore that sense of control again and alleviates some stress. Here’s some food for thought: become a mystery shopper and get reimbursed for your spendings by helping measure a business’ quality of service. Getting paid to shop? Sounds like a double stress reducer to me! Although, it’s not for everyone so read up on these tips before you decide to take part. If you’re not into mystery shopping, SF is full of Farmer's Markets, Flea Markets, and Street Fairs for you to explore! Indulge your senses with different smells, sights, and sounds.


Photo Credit : rawpixel.com

Photo Credit : rawpixel.com

FOR THE EXPLORER : 

Go On a Roadtrip! - Find your inner Lewis and Clark and set out on a road-trip for the weekend… and even walk the same trails as them at The Columbia River Gorge (only 600 miles!). Lucky for us here in San Francisco, we’re not too far from both the Oregon border and Southern California! If you’re feeling real adventurous, set off with no destination the first night and see where the roads take you! You’ll end up driving through towns you never would have known existed and meeting new people with all kinds of stories to tell.

TIP: Talk to the locals and get the inside scoop. New scenery is great for opening the mind and getting the creative juices flowing.

Go Camping! - We all know nature has been proven to help soothe the soul, so obviously, camping is a great de-stressor. And you don’t have to go far to get it! Our Bay Area backyard is filled with amazing spots for a card game to break out under the redwoods or stick your toes in the sand with a good book.

TIP: Half Moon Bay has a great campground right on the bay! If you reserve early enough, you can even grab a spot along the beach and wake up to a view of the Pacific Ocean! Hard to beat.

 


Long story short - de-stressing and happiness don’t have to break the bank or even require long and stressful planning, even in a city as costly as San Francisco. When we find outlets that work for us, it’s easy to flip those negative ways of coping with stress into positive ones that can create lifelong memories. Grab a friend and an open mind to unlock everything our beautiful world has to offer. What are you waiting for? Get out there!


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5 Places to Unpack Your Passion

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5 Places to Unpack Your Passion

Last September, I found myself sitting in front of my computer, debating whether or not to sign up for a 3-part course called "Confident Cooking" at Sur La Table. I wanted to sign up, but I knew that I wouldn’t know anyone there and frankly, my cooking skills were severely lacking. In a moment of blind ambition, I pressed purchase.

Fast forward to the first class: I showed up early, put on my name tag and apron, then took a seat waiting to see who I’d be working with for the next 3 weeks as we conquered making chowder, biscuits, risotto, pasta, and more. I ended up getting paired with a newlywed about my age and her mother-in-law. As we talked, I discovered we had a lot in common and that they too weren’t pros in the kitchen - it was quite a relief to learn that we all had this in common.

Image Credit :  Kaboompics

Image Credit : Kaboompics

Over the next couple of hours, I learned how to properly use a Chef’s Knife and worked with my team to prepare a great meal. By the end of the class, we’d made a delicious salad with purple grapes and toasted walnut vinaigrette, buttermilk biscuits with maple butter, and a pot of sweet potato chowder with chicken and corn. The first class was a success: the food was delicious, I didn’t burn any food, and no injuries from the knife work. I left feeling energized, accomplished, and proud of myself for trying something new. I couldn’t wait to tell my roommates about the class and pick a night to cook for them that week. Needless to say, they were impressed by my new skills. Over the next few months I took a few more classes, cooked for more friends and along the way, I discovered a passion for cooking - one I never thought I’d have.

Image Credit : Kaboompics

Image Credit : Kaboompics

How did I end up at a cooking class?

Earlier that September I had been doing quite a bit of soul searching - I was trying to find my happiness. I asked myself a couple of hard questions: aside from continuing education for work, what have I learned for myself lately? When was the last time I tried something new?

During my search, I realized that learning makes me happy.  I missed everything from the challenge of a new activity to conversing with family about these challenges. Most of all though, I missed the fulfillment that conquering these new challenges gave me.  
Three hours into Knitting Boot Camp...

Three hours into Knitting Boot Camp...

Realizing that the only learning I had done in the past few years was centered around work was a motivator to sign myself up for my first cooking class - and I’m extremely happy I made the decision to do so.  Since September, I’ve continued to go to new classes outside of my comfort zone. Last Saturday, I spent my day at Workshop SF learning how to knit! Not my most successful endeavor but it was a fun day meeting new people and trying something I hadn’t done before.

 

I’m so happy that I made the decision to step out of my comfort zone and try something new, and I would encourage others to do the same.

San Francisco has an abundance of places to take workshops/classes to learn or even just try something new. I invite you to get our of your comfort zone and explore interests that may bring you happiness.


Top 5 Places I Recommend:
 

Workshop SF: Their motto is “Drink Beer and Make Stuff.” Workshop SF offers a wide variety of classes, ranging from making leather wallets to sewing to brewing your own beer and pretty much everything in between. Check out their website to see everything they’ve got to offer.

Image Credit :  Pixabay

ODC: Located in the Mission, their facility offers traditional dance classes (tap, ballet, jazz) and even goes into an eclectic offering of Salsa, Belly Dancing, Bollywood and admittedly what sounds the most fun to me: “Vogue and Tone.”

Image Credit : Pawel Kadysz

San Francisco Outdoor Adventure Club: Full of multi-sport weekend trips, this is the one if you’re ready to brave a new physical endeavor. Their trips include weekends in Tahoe, rock climbing, and whitewater rafting. If you need a getaway, consider signing up their surfing and beach vacations in Costa Rica.

Image Credit : Dino Reichmuth

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Endgames Improv:  Most classes here are about 3 hours long but are fairly small, allowing for a lot of personal interaction. You can hone your skills in character or scene work, sketch writing, or musical improv. While you’re a student there, you also receive free admission to all of their shows.

Image Credit : Markus Spiske

Sur La Table: Classes include basic knife skills all the way through baking macarons and cooking various cuisines (French, Thai, Italian, etc). Classes are offered on weeknights and weekends -  they even have date night options that both friends or couples could attend together.

Image Credit : Tranmautritam


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Grocery Shopping With Coach Amber!

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Grocery Shopping With Coach Amber!

Do you find yourself eating take out more often than you would like? Or do you find yourself never having food in the fridge?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, keep reading!

With everyone’s busy schedules, it's hard to make time to make a home-cooked meal. Most of people don’t even cook on a daily basis, which is something I struggle with as well. It’s much easier and more time-efficient to go out and order food everyday, but the downside is that you don’t always know what goes into your food. The benefits of having home-cooked meals are significant: you are able to choose what you fuel your body with, you save money, and you get the satisfaction of being your own chef! Don’t know where to start?

Here are some tips:

1. Don’t go shopping hungry.

This is probably the last thing you want to do. When you are hungry, there is more of a chance that you will buy more food than you need and in turn, settle for more unhealthy foods.

2. Make a list!

Make a list and stick to it. This way, your grocery shopping time is cut down in half because you won’t be walking up and down aisles searching for the items that you want to get.

3. Avoid prime times!

AKA Weekdays after work 4pm-6pm

Sunday at ALL TIMES, unless you try to go when they first open.

4. Lastly, purchase simple food.

If you find yourself struggling to make a meal at home, don’t go and buy lavish ingredients that only serve one purpose. Purchase ingredients that can be used for multiple dishes that way nothing is going to waste.

Here’s an example of a week's worth of simple ingredients for easy-to-prepare meals at home. If you are cinched for time and really don’t have the time to go shopping on your own, you can try productivity apps and services such as Instacart, AmazonFresh, and CurbSpace that allow you to choose your groceries and have them available for pickup/delivery to save time! Listed below is a solid, go-to shopping list as well as a few recipes that can be easily made with those ingredients.

Sample grocery list: Eggs, milk, yogurt, berries, banana, onion, tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, chicken/other protein, grain (brown rice), avocado, garlic , tortilla (corn), black beans, lemon/lime

 

Here are some example recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

Breakfast

Veggie Omelette

Prep time: 5 minutes. Total cook time, 10 minutes. Serving size 1

Ingredients

2 eggs

2 Tbs chopped onion (yellow)

1 clove garlic minced

3 cherry tomatoes chopped

2 mushrooms chopped

Handful of spinach

¼ avocado

1 Tbs olive oil ( other cooking oil)

Salt and pepper to taste.
 

Directions:

Heat up pan to medium heat. Add olive oil. Chop up onion and garlic. Add to heated pan. Stir until soft and brown, about 2 minutes.  Keep stirring so that you don’t burn the garlic. Then add the tomatoes and mushrooms. Saute for 1 min. While you wait, crack the 2 eggs into a bowl and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Whip with fork so that the yolk and white come together. Add the handful of spinach into the pan and stir for about 30 seconds, or until wilted slightly. Finally add the eggs. Carefully stir the egg and veggie mixture until it starts to come together. Once cooked thoroughly on one side, flip over with spatula. Once flipped, then add ¼ of the avocado slices to one side of the omelette. After 1 minute or the other side of the omelette is cooked to your liking, fold in half and serve! Enjoy!

Quick Breakfast Smoothie 

Ingredients

½ cup yogurt

¼ cup berries (fresh or frozen)

Handful spinach

¼ cup milk (almond, soy, coconut)

Handful of ice

Directions:

Put everything in your blender of choice and blend until smooth.

Lunch/Dinner

Wannabe Chipotle Burrito Bowl

I love chipotle just as much as the next person, but with all of the controversy regarding the health of their restaurant I don’t want to take any chances. This would be a great recipe for date night in! Or to double up for a lunch and dinner!

Prep time: 10 minutes. Total cook time: 20 minutes. Serving size 2.

Ingredients

6 oz chicken, preferably tenders because they are easier to cook evenly ( fresh or frozen)

3 TBS onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic minced

4 mushrooms chopped

6 cherry tomatoes chopped

½ zucchini chopped in small squares

½ avocado

½ can of black beans, drained and rinsed

4 tortillas (corn or flour)

1 cup uncooked rice

Cayenne, paprika, cumin to taste.

Directions:

Chicken prep: Time to season!  Add 1-2 TBS of each seasoning: cayenne pepper, paprika, and cumin as well as salt and pepper to taste.

While your chicken is absorbing all of the good flavors. Start chopping up your veggies and put to the side as well as draining and rinsing your black beans.

Now you're ready to cook!

Start the rice next!

Add 1 cup of uncooked rice into a sauce pan. Turn on heat, then add 2 cups of warm water. Bring rice to a boil, then simmer (low heat) with lid until rice is cooked through and no more water is left in the pan. Check occasionally and stir.

Time for veggies!

Turn on pan to medium heat. Add 1 TBS olive oil. Then add the onion and garlic. Stir until brown and onions are translucent. Next add the tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini. After 2 minutes, or veggies are soft but not mushy add black beans and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Then remove from heat and place aside.

In separate pan, time to cook the chicken! Turn on pan to medium heat. Add 1 TBS olive oil. Then add seasoned chicken to pan. Cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes depending on the size of the tender. Once cooked through, remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes before you cut into bite sized pieces.

Time to assemble!

In a bowl, add ½ cup of cooked rice, ¼ cup of the veggie mixture, and ½ cup of the diced chicken. Top with sliced avocado. Feel free to enjoy with a tortilla, a squeeze of lime, or a dollop of plain greek yogurt for a healthier version of sour cream! Enjoy!

Now that you have some easy staple meals, there are no excuses! These recipes use up all the groceries I listed above, which saves you a ton of money and nothing goes to waste!

 

 

Learn more about Coach Amber here

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WORRIED ABOUT YOUR NUTRITION?

WORRIED ABOUT YOUR NUTRITION?

HERE ARE A FEW SIMPLE RULES.

 

What’s the number one question I have asked to me on a daily basis? The answer, what can I do with my nutrition to best supplement my workouts? Unfortunately there isn’t a simple answer to that question as everyone’s body is very different. I have some simple rules though that can help those who question whether their diet is helping them:

CARBS:

First off, please don’t stop eating carbs… They are the number one source of energy for our bodies, without consuming them your workouts will suffer! If you are trying to lose weight what I have found as a good rule is to limit your carbs to 2-3 servings per day. This means if you have a bagel for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, and rice with dinner you have had 3 servings of carbs. Cutting down to 2 carbs a day still keeps your energy up throughout the day but still keeps your overall calorie consumption down.

 

Ok now second off, which carbs you eat matter. Whole grains are the best carbs you can eat as they break down slower in your body so that they give you energy throughout the day. Examples of whole grains are brown rice, whole grain pasta (whole wheat if whole grain isn’t available), sweet potatoes (all colors), and oatmeal.

PROTEINS:

Ok so this portion is for those of us who indulge in animal meats for our diet. Sorry to my vegetarian friends, but I will write something for you soon. General rules for meats in your diet, try to limit red meats to 1-2 times per week, and that white meat is your friend. Chicken breast meat is the best possible, pork is also a good choice, and I love me some ground turkey. If you can stand it the next level is throwing fish in there 2-4 times a week. I know a lot of people can’t do fish and that’s fine if that’s you, but if you can get it into your diet a couple times a week at least the fish oils are great for your health. Lastly, eggs are great! One of my favorite foods for sure, and it’s cool if you get rid of the yolks and just go egg whites but you really don’t have to.

WHEN SHOULD I EAT?

EAT BREAKFAST!! Haha but seriously eat something in the morning… it’s not that hard and once you start it will become easier and easier until you’ll feel incomplete without it in the morning. Ideally beyond breakfast you should eat every 3-4 hours, so the exact time will depend on when you start your day. Think about having 3 full meals and 1-2 snacks, if this sounds like too much food for you then cut down your meals!

 

VEGGIES:

I know this is getting long so I’m going to keep this short, mix the colors of your veggies, get in mostly green but also red, orange, purple, and yellow. Secondly, from the section above I’m suggesting you have 4 or 5 meals per day, so try to have 3-4 of those include some sort of veggie.

 

WATER:

The recommended daily water intake is half of your body weight in ounces. This means if you weigh 140 pounds, you should be having about 70 oz of water per day, if you don’t know how many ounces of water your water bottle has feel free to ask us!

 

That’s all for now folks! I will come out with a second version of this soon with sections including: fats, alcohol, fruit, and more. Please feel free to reach out to me for any bits of advice on the side or if there is a section you would like me to cover in the next post!

 

 

Learn more about Coach Anthony here

 

 

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Are Protein Shakes Necessary Right After I Workout?

Nutrient Timing Surrounding Exercise

You may have heard that it’s best to have a protein shake as soon as possible following a workout. Many fitness articles, diet blogs, magazines, etc. recommend this strategy, claiming that it “speeds up” recovery, and maximizes “gains”. It is often suggested that the sooner you get it in, the better, in order to take advantage of that precious ‘metabolic window’. Back in my college days, I used to make my post-workout shake with hydrolyzed whey and milk prior to my workout so that I could start consuming it literally within a minute of the end of my workout. For some of us, this may sound familiar. 

While having nutrients in your body after exercise is important for facilitating recovery and maintaining a healthy figure, that post-workout protein shake is not the most important thing when it comes to nutrition to support your workouts or better health.

In fact, unless you’re an elite level athlete, or a highly-active individual who needs as much energy as you can fit into your day, you can most likely meet your nutrition needs and still lose fat or gain muscle by focusing on the basics of good nutrition:

1. Consume wholesome, nutrient dense foods

2. Portion your macronutrients (Carbohydrates, Fats, Proteins) according to your body’s unique make-up

3. Have the appropriate amount of nutrients in your body around times of high energy expenditure. This includes beforeduring, and after exercise, not just after. 

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While your body will utilize the nutrients from a post-workout shake for recovery, it’s important to consider that your body is constantly rebuilding and restoring tissues. Recovery doesn't just happen within the 1 hour after your workout, or even overnight. Therefore, it is more important to ensure that you already have some nutrients ready to go by the time you exercise, finish exercising, and continue your life thereafter.

Additionally, your body has a limit to how much protein, fats, and carbs it can metabolize for energy or building muscle. This is because digestion and metabolism takes time! There is always a minimum time-delay between when nutrients are consumed, digested and broken down into usable compounds, and then physically utilized for burning energy or tissue repair. Your body can only absorb about 60g of carbs per hour, and if you've consumed some protein as well, then that rate is even lower. The approximate rate of absorption for whey protein is about 8-10g per hour. And whey is supposed to be absorbed the fastest out of all proteins! So if you’re one of those people pounding down a large weight-gainer shake 30 minutes after your gym session, only a small portion of it is actually being used within that metabolic window. Whatever isn't utilized will be converted into fats and carbs, or removed from the body via your urine.  

A more effective approach is to eat a regular, nutritionally solid, meal 1-2 hours prior to your workout, and the same 1-2 hours following your workout. That way, by the time your body needs nutrients, your meal will have already been broken down into usable energy and muscle building compounds (also, note that since you’re eating “real food”, you’re getting very high quality nutrients!). And as your body requires nutrients in the hours thereafter, you will have those ready to go as well.

If your goal is to enter a figure competition, where cutting fat into a lower-than-normal range is your goal (yes, bodybuilders and fitness models have a bodyweight percentage that is NOT optimal for a regular healthy individual), then including an easily digestible protein shake or BCAA’s (branched-chain-amino acids) during your workout may be something to consider. Or if you’re a high level athlete, who is exercising for long bouts over 2 hours or multiple times a day, then you may also consider a shake or BCAA’s intra-exercise.

However, for the vast majority of us, our needs will be plenty met by following a good overall nutrition foundation. Just make sure to stay hydrated during exercise. Again:

  1. Consume wholesome, nutrient dense foods

  2. Portion your macronutrients (Carbohydrates, Fats, Proteins) according to your body’s unique make-up

  3. Have the appropriate amount of nutrients in your body around times of high energy expenditure. This includes before, during, and after exercise, not just after. 

 

 

Learn more about Coach Randall here

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