Salads.

I know. Sounds boring, right? The second I mention I’m vegan, that’s all I hear. ‘Oh, so you eat, like, salads?’

Well, yeah. But I also eats LOADS of other stuff.

I just happen to like salads. And so should you! Leafy greens have the highest nutrient density per calorie. We should be eating a large salad every day. Not as a side, but as a meal. That’s the only way to pack in a majority of the micronutrients we need.

In this post I am sharing my two favorites salads, plus another one I just recently tried that adds a nice spin on traditional salads.

First up, this salad is what I like to call the Health My Lifestyle Classic Salad. Or HML Classic Salad for short. It’s my go-to, and I never get tied of it!

HML Classic Salad

HML Classic Salad

Ingredients
1 cup spinach
1-2 cups romaine hearts, chopped
½ cup cucumber, sliced and quartered
½ cup red cabbage, chopped
1 stalk green onion, chopped
4-5 grape tomatoes, halved
¼ cup walnuts
Walnut Vinaigrette Dressing

Directions
Toss everything in a large bowl.

HML Classic Salad

Next up is a spin off the classic but with a Mexican twist.

Mexican Salad

Mexican Salad

Ingredients
1 cup spinach
1-2 cups romaine hearts, chopped
½ cup cucumber, sliced and quartered
½ cup red cabbage, chopped
1 stalk green onion, chopped
4-5 grape tomatoes, halved
¼ cup walnuts
½ cup spiced black beans
generous dash of garlic powder
generous dash of onion powder
generous dash of cumin
dash of salt
Salsa

Directions
Rinse the black beans and place in a microwavable bowl. Add the garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and salt to the beans; stir well. Microwave for 1-2 minutes to warm up the beans. Toss beans and all other ingredients in a large bowl. Add as much salsa as you want, just make sure there is no- or low-added sugars.

Mexican Salad

This next salad was inspired by the Detoxinista’s 2-Ingredient Detox “Spaghetti”

“Pasta” Salad

Ingredients
Half a head of cabbage, chopped
1 cup of pasta sauce
1 cup of mixed vegetables, fresh or frozen
A dash of oregano
A dash of garlic powder
A dash of onion powder

Directions
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add the cabbage, pasta sauce, oregano, garlic powder, and onion powder, stirring continuously until the cabbage softens; 8-10 minutes. If cooking the mixed vegetables from frozen, place the vegetables in a microwavable bowl with 1-2 tablespoons of water. Microwave on high for 4-5 minutes until the vegetables are steamed through, stirring halfway through for even cooking. If cooking from fresh, steam the vegetables until you can easily pierce them with a fork. Add the steamed vegetables to the saucepan. Stir and serve.

"Pasta" Salad

It doesn’t replace pasta for sure, but it’s nice to have another option!

These salads are supplemental to my FREE meal plan, which is almost ready! It’s full of healthy, delicious recipes, that are affordable! If you’d like to be the first to receive it be sure to sign up for my mailing list below.


xoxo Rachel

Breakfast Hash

Do you love hash browns but can’t seem to enjoy it without a good douse of ketchup? I can’t stand plain hash browns but I also don’t want to fill up on ketchup that’s full of sugar and sodium either. And don’t get me started on all of the oil that the hash browns have added to them. That’s why we created this breakfast hash that doesn’t need anything added. And it’s sooo good!

It’s a fairly simple recipe but filling and full of flavor for the perfect start to your morning. Or afternoon. Or evening. Because let’s be honest–breakfast is good any time of day.

I’m excited to share this recipe with you because it is one of the many awesome ones I’m developing for my FREE meal plan (coming soon). I want to show you how easy it is to live plant-based, how affordable it is, and how undeniably delicious it can be! If you’d like to be the first to receive it, be sure to sign up for my mailing list below!


breakfast hash

Breakfast Hash

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • Water as needed
  • 3 large red potatoes, cubed
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 (15 ounce) can no-sodium diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can no-sodium black beans
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Directions

In a large skillet over medium heat, add water and potatoes, continuously adding 1-2 tbsp of water as needed to ensure potatoes do not stick to the pan. Cook for 6-8 minutes or until potatoes start to soften. Add everything else except the black beans. Stir frequently and continue cooking for 4-5 minutes. Add black beans and cook for another 4-5 minutes until heated through.

Nutrition Information
Calories per serving 251
Carbs 51.86 g
Fat 0.81 g
Protein 9.94 g
Fiber 11.09 g

High in Folate, B1 (Thiamine), B6 (Pyridoxine), Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Iron, Potassium, Phosphorus, Magnesium

Breakfast Hash

This started out as a more tradition hash but we added beans to up it’s nutritional content. Even though it doesn’t look like hash browns, it’s even more delicious!

Hope you enjoy it!

xoxo Rachel

A Year of Being Plant-Based!

I cannot believe it has been a year already! I can’t remember the exact day we switched to being plant-based, but it was right around the time or shortly after we moved into our house which was late February 2016. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired so I decided to watch the documentary Forks Over Knives again (yes, I had seen it before and became mostly vegetarian but still ate dairy). This time it really sunk in and I decided to become plant-based that night.

We cleared out our fridge of all animal products. This was an easy task since we were mostly vegetarian (except for the occasional fish/sushi) so all we had to throw out was some cheese. Luckily (or not?), I had just finished off some yogurts so we didn’t have to waste too much food. But in reality, we didn’t really consider it food anymore. It is linked to so many diseases and isn’t food supposed to be nourishing? It felt good to just get rid of it rather than try to finish it or give it away. If it’s not good enough for us to consume, why would we give it to someone else?

I’ll admit that this year hasn’t been perfect. There was definitely a transition period where we had to figure out what foods were actually vegan. By the way, I use vegan and plant-based interchangeably but in case you’re not aware, plant-based is the diet aspect, and vegan is actually a lifestyle. However, vegan is the term used by society more often when it comes to the diet and is how companies market their products to let consumers know there are no animal products in them. Just so you know.

At home it was easy to be vegan since we knew exactly what was going in to our food. It was a great discovery of new and delicious foods. Who knew that vegan food was actually the tastiest?! Not even kidding. And it’s not restrictive in the sense that you can still have all of your favorite foods–just without the animal products. Do you love pizza? There’s vegan cheese for that! Do you love hamburgers? There’s vegan meats for that! And they are surprisingly realistic but without the saturated fat or cholesterol (and yes, you should still be concerned about dietary cholesterol regardless of what the dietary guidelines) Anyways, my point is I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything.

But back to the tastiest part. The flavors are so so good! You’d be pleasantly surprised. We make delicious curries, soups, stews, stir fries, burritos, pastas, sandwiches (like BBQ jackfruit “pulled pork”) and so much more (pics below)! It’s all about the sauce and spice you add. And your same favorite sauces/condiments are most likely vegan except for the obvious ones like ranch and mayo–but we have replacements for that too! I’m going to put together a page of my favorite vegan replacements in case anybody wants to try them out. So stay tuned!

Vegan Food Collage

As I said though, it hasn’t been perfect. When going out to eat there have been mishaps, but I try my best to stay vegan as much as possible. I didn’t realize how much cheese is on EVERYTHING. And how little knowledge of dairy people have. You can’t just say “no cheese,” you must say “no cheese, cream, butter, or anything with dairy in it” when ordering. There have been times when I was not specific enough and had something at a restaurant still have some sort of cheese or butter on it. If that happened, I tried not to beat myself up over it. I just knew better for next time. It’s always best to call ahead and ask if the restaurant can accommodate. Most of the time they are happy to make something special just for you! I usually tell them any egg-free pasta with a red sauce and veggies will work so they don’t have to go out of their way (most restaurants have some sort of pasta dish). On the plus side, Daniel and I usually go to asian restaurants which typically already have vegan options on their menu.  Score!

Overall, we cut down on going out to eat because most of the time our food at home tastes WAY better. Why go out to a restaurant when you love the food you make at home? It’s cheaper, and so delicious! And it’s actually pretty quick to throw together a vegan meal. No more waiting for meat to thaw and having to ensure that it is fully cooked. With veggies, you just cooked them to your preferred crunch-level. I prefer mine to still have a little crunch to them. You actually don’t want to overcook your veggies because it will break down the nutrients in them. Nutrients = Life

I FEEL so much better on this diet. Meat and dairy are hard on the body–they’re linked to 14 out of the 15 leading causes of death. They lack important nutrients that the body needs. And they’re full of death and disease. Why not eat an abundance of bright and colorful fruits and vegetables that provide the energy you need? I really do feel a difference in energy on a vegan diet. I don’t feel sluggish anymore. I also lost 5 pounds without trying! I will admit that I was a bit of a junk food vegan in the beginning too. I ate french fries almost every night. And even still, I felt better.

Now I’m working on being WHOLE FOOD, PLANT-BASED. This means cutting out the processed foods and oils. We don’t really cook with oil so that has been easy, but I am tempted by processed foods from time to time although my cravings are much more in control now than they were back then. My work provides lots of free snacks so veering away from them has been a bit of a struggle. I am working on being better prepared with snacks so that I am never tempted by hunger. I try to bring a banana, a Larabar (the only ingredients are dates and nuts!), or veggies with hummus.

I am also a part of the Nutritarian Women’s Health Study so as a part of that, I need to be better about not consuming processed foods. The Nutritarian diet focuses on nutrient-dense foods and eating lots of vegetables daily. The doctor behind the study recommends eating a pound of raw and a pound of cooked vegetables daily! If I’m properly doing that I shouldn’t have any room left for processed food! Additionally, the study recommends taking certain supplements to ensure no one is deficient in any nutrient since the purpose of the study is observing long-term health through a nutrient sufficient lifestyle. However, some people are unable to absorb enough nutrients through the diet so to ensure no one is deficient they require supplementing Vitamin D, B-12, DHA (omega-3 fatty acid). I have yet to supplement but am looking in to options now. They don’t recommend a multivitamin though as most contain folic acid and Vitamin A which have risks linked to them. Those should be, and can be, easily obtained through the Nutritarian diet.

Anyway, that is how my year has been! I am really satisfied with the changes I’ve made. I hope you’ll consider making similar changes. If ever you have a question, feel free to email me at healthmylifestyle@gmail.com.

And don’t forget to sign up to my mailing list so you don’t miss a single post! It’s delivered right to your inbox! 

xoxo Rachel


 

 

What You Need To Know About B12 Part 2

What You Need To Know About Vitamin B12

In the last post, I briefly touched on why we need vitamin B12 and how much of it our body requires. In this segment, I’ll be talking about the best vegan sources for vitamin B12. Not all B12 supplements are vegan due to some animal-derived fillers, even though B12 itself is always vegan.

As previously mentioned, we need 3-5 micrograms a day of B12. If you are relying on fortified foods to acquire your vitamin B12, pay careful attention to servings sizes. If one serving only has 1 microgram of B12 in it, then you will need to consume 3 servings throughout the day to reach your recommended dietary allowance (RDA).

B12 supplements on the other hand may be more convenient and more economical. Although most supplements tend to have more of the vitamin than the body requires or can use, there is no harm in exceeding the recommended amount for this vitamin by combining sources. So no need to worry about taking a supplement and consuming a fortified food in the same day. Only intakes above 5000 micrograms per week should be avoided due to lack of evidence for toxicity from higher amounts. Better to err on the side of caution.

It is also more beneficial to chew the tablet since it increases absorption. Absorption of B12 can vary widely from about 50% if 1 microgram is consumed to about 0.5% for amounts above 1000 micrograms. Therefore, if you are consuming B12 less frequently, you need to be consuming in a higher amount. You can take a daily supplement of 10 micrograms or a weekly supplement of 2000 micrograms. The amount and frequency is up to you for what works best with your schedule.

It is also worth mentioning that individuals 50 years or older should supplement regardless of their diet. According to The Institute of Medicine, “Because 10 to 30 percent of older people may be unable to absorb naturally occurring vitamin B12, it is advisable for those older than 50 years to meet their RDA mainly by consuming foods fortified with vitamin B12 or a vitamin B12-containing supplement.”

When no dietary supply occurs, deficiency symptoms can take five years or more to develop in adults, however some  can experience symptoms within a year. Even though the onset of symptoms from deficiency can take years to develop due to the body’s ability to recycle this vitamin, it is critical that you still get the recommended amount either daily or weekly depending on your choice of consumption. This is because there is no consistent pattern of symptoms and (mostly in rare cases) the damage to the nervous system can be irreversible.

So where can you get your B12? Here are my recommended sources below (this is not an exhaustive list):

  1. Fortified plant-based milks
  2. Fortified cereals
  3. Nutritional yeast
  4. Supplements

Be careful with nutritional yeast though as B12 is light sensitive so getting it from a bulk bin may not be sufficient. And be sure that it is fortified as not all nutritional yeasts contain B12.

The same is true for plant-based milks–double check that it is fortified as several are not. We recently picked up some almond milk from the brand Simple Truth which is fortified but we’ve gotten the Silk brand in the past which wasn’t.

And here are some safe vegan B12 supplements that I found:

VeganSafe

Spring Valley

MegaFood

Nature’s Bounty

Safeway

Obviously there are more than just these 5 I mention so just be careful that they are vegan and provide the right amount for the frequency you choose to take.

xoxo Rachel

How To Remove Meat From Your Diet (Slowly)

I often get asked how one even begins to start removing meat from their diet. It can seem overwhelming. The diet is rather simple but shifting the mindset from a Standard American Diet to a plant-based one can seem complex for a lot of people. I want to show you how easy it is to make the change.

How to Remove Meat From Your Diet (Slowly)

First of all, you need to determine your motivation behind this decision to remove meat. Is it ethical? Watch Earthlings to reinforce your decision. Is it environmental? Watch Cowspiracy to understand the implications of animal agriculture on our environment. Is it health? Watch Forks Over Knives to solidify your understanding of why a plant-based diet is the healthiest and only proven diet to prevent and reverse chronic diseases. Educating yourself on these matters will help build your foundation to success and staying the course. After taking off the metaphorical blinders, you’ll wish you had known all of these things a long time ago.

The next step is to make a plan. Decide what your comfort level is first. Maybe you just want to try Meatless Mondays and then expand to other days of the week over time. Maybe you want to cut out red meat first, then eventually poultry and fish. I myself started with something as simple as ordering only vegetarian meals every time I went out to eat. I didn’t really know how to cook vegetables at home to make them taste as good as restaurants do and I knew I needed more nutrients in my diet so by eating a vegetarian meal when at a restaurant I was guaranteed to get a couple servings of veggies. Most restaurants have vegetarian options now but a great site for finding veg-friendly restaurants in your area is Happy Cow. Eventually, I wanted to recreate those same tasty meals at home. Soon enough, there was no more meat in my fridge.

Crispy tofu thai curry

Crispy tofu thai curry ordered at restaurant

Have a favorite recipe that includes meat? One of my friends mentioned that she simply left the meat out of her recipe and said it was just as good! If the recipe seems sparse after the removal of meat, just add more of whatever vegetables are already in it or add tofu or beans as a meat replacement. They are both great for absorbing whatever spice/sauce is in the dish and are excellent sources of protein.

easy stir fry

Easy stir fry with chicken omitted

When eliminating meat, remember not to just replace it with processed starches. Bread is okay when it’s whole grain with minimal ingredients (my favorite is Ezekiel) and brown rice is good too. The best thing to do is to think about whole grains as the center of the dish rather than meat and your meals will come together a lot easier. It is the largest food group after all! So load up on sweet potatoes, brown rice, squash, whole wheat items, and oats!

Hearty homemade stew without the meat

Hearty homemade sweet potato stew without the meat

There is also a plethora of fake meats on the market now if you choose to go that route. They are great for transitioning or to have on occasion when you have a craving. Just remember that they are processed and more expensive. You’re better off with the above suggestion of using tofu, beans, and whole grains (for a slimmer waist and fuller wallet).

Also, as you make the conscious decision to remove meat, think about what you’re gaining not what you’re giving up. You’re going to be trying new foods, finding new favorites, gaining back back health and energy, reducing your impact on the planet, and saving lives! And when you slip up, don’t be too hard on yourself. Just do the best you can and reevaluate what caused the slip up and what you can do to prevent it next time.

In the end, do it at a pace that is comfortable for you. There is no rush, because any progress is good progress. Ultimately, the end goal should be to cut out meat entirely but setting up a step-by-step plan will ensure you make progress towards your end goal. Set a timeline, plan the steps, then do it!

Hope this helps and inspires you to make the change! xoxo

For some additional resources, check out my series on How Your Diet is Slowly Killing You Part One, Two, Three, and Four.

Chocolate Chip Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Soft. Chewy. Chocolate chip melty. Just to name a few ways I would describe these tasty morsels.

I wanted to share a simple, delicious recipe that is easy to make and satisfies the sweet tooth. As mentioned previously, I have the biggest sweet tooth and yes, sometimes I do have cravings for it still, even on a plant-based diet–but my cravings are less frequent and less intense. When they do strike, I want to something that satisfies, but also something that won’t make me feel guilty about eating later.  And something to note, you’ll notice after eating a whole food, plant-based diet for a while that your palate has changed and you start to appreciate the natural, wholesome foods more and find the processed items to be sensory overload. Before this lifestyle change, that never happened to me. “Too sweet?” is that even a thing? I get it now, guys. I get it.

But even on a plant-based diet, I still have an appreciation for sweets on the occasion. And although this recipe is not super decadent, it still satisfies the cravings without the excessive calories and fat typically found in sweets.

Without further ado–

Vegan Chocolate Chip Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Vegan chocolate chip banana oatmeal cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup of oats (I use quick oats)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • a handful of dairy-free chocolate chips (I use the Enjoy Life brand)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mash the banana smooth until only small chunks remain. Then, add in the oats, cinnamon, and vanilla extract and mix well. Lastly, mix in the chocolate chips. You can add in a small amount of water if the mixture is to dry or add more oats if it is too wet.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Use a tablespoon to scoop the mixture out and place on the cookie sheet. You can roll them up more or flatten them out. I chose to just drop them on the sheet, hence the odd forms. This recipe makes 6 but feel free to double for extra cookie delight.

Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes. If you double the recipe you may want to increase the bake time to 15-18 minutes. Remove from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes before eating. I used a drying rack for speedier cool time (because, in the words of the Cookie Monster, “Me want cookie!”).

 

Vegan Chocolate Chip Banana Oatmeal Cookies

 

Vegan Chocolate Chip Banana Oatmeal Cookies

So good!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Banana Oatmeal Cookies

I love how easy and tasty these cookies are. And you can satisfy that craving in less than 30 minutes, start-to-finish! Watch out Rachael Ray!

xoxo

 

New Year’s Resolutions Check-In

It is 22 days now into the new year and they say it only takes 21 days to form a habit, right? So let’s see how I’ve done so far sticking to these resolutions.

1. Lose body fat by consistently working out with no longer than 4 days between a workout.

checkmarkI have been working out consistently which I am proud of! I think the longest I’ve gone between a workout has only been 3 days. Score!
2. Follow the Nutritarian Women’s Health Study diet

red-xI have been successful adding additional nutrients to my diet like mushrooms and turmeric but I still have processed foods at work. Mostly it’s a handful of wheat thins or peanut butter pretzel bites. However, we are making hummus today and I bought some carrots to go with it as a snack to take to work. I’m also trying to figure out how to get all of my oatmeal fixin’s to work so I can make it there. Most mornings I just grab a banana and then snack at work because I’m always rushing out the door.  The issue is my work only has a mini fridge and it’s usually full of red bull and la croix that my coworkers drink so there’s not much room for storage. I can make it with water instead of almond milk but I love maple syrup in it and that has to be refrigerated. I’m looking in to trying agave syrup. If that doesn’t need refrigeration, I’ll use that. And then I can bring a baggie of fresh fruit with me to top the oatmeal with. Problem solved!

3. Stretch daily for at least 1 minutes.

red-xI have been doing really well to stretch every day. There have only been maybe 2 days that I stretched maybe only 5 minutes, but I still stretched! I can already tell I’ve gained some flexibility. I better be able to the splits by the end of this year!

4. Run 6 consecutive miles

red-xI actually haven’t been running as much as I would like. I think I’m only at 1.5 miles when I should be at 2 based on my gradual increase trajectory. The problem is I’ve only been running once a week instead of 2-3 times like I committed to. After Body Pump I tend to just stretch and head home when I should stick around to go running. This is the week it’s going to happen!

5. Minimize 10 items a month

checkmarkI did it! Check out this post for how I eliminated more than 10 items from my medicine cabinet. My next victim is the bathroom vanity. It feels so good to let go of items that I don’t need/use that clutter up my surroundings.

Wow, not as well as I thought. But I have a game plan for how I’m going to achieve the goals I haven’t been succeeding at.

every new day is a chance to change your life

How are you doing on your new year’s resolutions?

xoxoRachel

Three-Bean Chili

This chili is the best chili I have ever had, and I’m not lying. Ground up shredded animal bits deserve no place in the amazingly, flavorful dish. We’re talking REAL FOOD here–> e.g. beans, tomatoes, carrots, and jalapeños for you spicy folks. We make this dish all the time and the plant-based doctors praise us for such good eating (okay, they don’t know me, but if they did–they’d be commending me for this dish!).

Three Bean Vegan Chili

Three-Bean Vegan Chili

You can make this on the stovetop or in a crockpot. Today I’ll explain the crockpot steps. This recipe fills a 6-quart crockpot and makes enough meals to last for the week. Feel free to cut this recipe in half or freeze the extra for later if needed.

Ingredients

1 large onion, diced
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded (if desired), diced
2-3 celery stalks, sliced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
2 large carrots, chopped
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth
1 6oz can (6 Tbsp) tomato paste
5 cans of beans, drained and rinsed–our preference is:

2 cans (15 oz) Red Kidney beans
1 can (15 oz) Pinto Beans
2 cans (15 oz) Black Beans

1 Tbsp Cumin
1 Tbsp Turmeric
1/2 Tbsp Oregano
1/2 Tsp Chili Powder
1/2 Tsp Cardamon (optional)
1 Tsp Garam Masala (optional)
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Directions

Turn your crockpot on to high heat. Place onions and garlic in the crockpot with a Tbsp or two of water to keep them from sticking. Stir until soft and translucent for few minutes. Add the jalapeños, celery, bell pepper, and carrots and stir for another few minutes, adding water as necessary to reduce sticking. Add the tomatoes, broth, and tomato paste and stir well. Next, add the beans, cumin, turmeric, oregano, chili powder, garam masala and cardamon (for an added sweetness), salt, and pepper. Stir everything together, cover, and leave on high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-8 hours or until heated through and the liquid has reduced.

What is great about this recipe is that it is so versatile. You can really add whatever vegetables or beans you prefer, add more or less spice depending on your preference, and even the cooking time is variable to your needs–Going to be at work all day? Put it on low in the morning and leave it until you get home. Need to run a few errands before dinner? Leave it on high for 1-2 hours.

Serving Suggestions

In a bread bowl!

Vegan Soup in Bread Bowl

We like splurging on a bread bowl or two to serve our chili in.

Add sweet potatoes, corn, or even lentils! Get creative with your fave ingredients!

Three Bean Vegan Chili

Or add some delicious vegan cheese on top like this guy–>

vegan cheese model

Be like him. He knows what’s up.

Or maybe you’re a sour cream kind of pal.

Dairy free sour cream

Vegans have your covered.

So don’t fret that you can’t enjoy your chili the way you like it! Hope you give this recipe a try! xoxo

Eliminate 10 Items Resolution #1

One of my goals this year is to live more simply by reducing household items that take up space and don’t provide me much value. As I get older, I can’t stand having clutter around. It seems to add more and more stress to my life. I have this undeniable urge to purge.

So this year I have resolved to removing 10 items a month from my life. This includes trashing, donating, selling (like on craiglist/poshmark) or giving things away to friends.

My first victim this year was our medicine cabinet in our bathroom. There are three mirrors that hide three shelves of storage each. We have lived in this house for almost a year and still haven’t truly organized it from the original dumping of its contents into a spot just to feel moved in.

Here was the original state it was in:

Medicine Cabinet Before

The mirrors partially hide some of the chaos in the photo, but believe me, it wasn’t pretty. (And yes, having the light off centered from the cabinet does bother me.)

We have it set up where each of us have our own side–Daniel’s is the left, mine is the right, and we share the middle–except for our toothbrushes which are housed in Daniel’s. And yes, we do have a ridiculous amount of toothbrushes. We have a habit of keeping our old one’s even though we have new ones. But you don’t care!

Moving on!

So starting with my side, I really wanted to cut down all of the items I don’t use regularly or are full of harsh chemicals that I don’t want on my body anymore. Here’s what I decided to get rid of:

my side clutter removal

I apologize to anyone reading this who may have given me one of these things. I think they all were gifts at some point except for the deodorant, makeup remover lotion, and a few samples. Some of these items were really old, like the Bath & Body Works items in the back which ranged from 5-8 years old. It was time for them to go. As for the perfumes, although the scents are nice, I just honestly don’t wear perfume that often so I decided to keep only my full sized items. Although, that purple perfume was one of my favorites for a long time, it is almost empty and has taken on an alcohol-ish smell from age. The older items I threw away, but I am planning to give away some of the almost full items like the Avon lotion and the makeup remover lotion, and some of those little perfumes that are newer.

So here’s the result:

my-side-decluttered

It looks so much better and only has (mostly) the essentials I use. I am planning to get a new deodorant though since that Tom’s of Maine one on the bottom shelf just isn’t working for me. It seems to make me smell instantly of B.O. when I apply it. Anyone else? Maybe it’s because I have the unscented one… And yeah, I have my old and new retainer stacked there on the second shelf because I told you I’m a hoarder. I’m slowly trying to transition my personal care items to all natural, vegan, cruelty-free. A good website I’ve been using to determine whether it’s “all natural” or at least safer to apply on my skin is Skin Deep by the Environmental Working Group or EWG. They have compiled thousands of products and the ingredients in them based off of the current research available to give each product a score for how safe it is. Some products are even starting to use the “EWG Verified” certification on their packaging if they are rated as safe. Pretty cool stuff!

Alright enough rambling. Here’s the middle section decluttering action:

center-clutter-removal

It is mostly expired medicine and eye drops. I had a major issue with dry eyes when I wore contacts but now after PRK (a similar surgery to LASIK) I only need one bottle of drops as seen on my side of the cabinet. Oh and we condensed our bandages into one box so we could get rid of the other half-empty box. And we got rid of some almost-empty and “unsafe” sunscreen.

Here’s the after:

center-after

We kept the itch-relief stuff since Daniel had a bad bout of poison ivy a couple years ago and wants to have it on hand at all times. We also have some sunscreen in that orange tube that a friend left and we’ve been meaning to return… sorry friend! And I keep baby powder around to make my own dry shampoo. It smells like lavender! Then we’ve got a random assortment of first-aid stuff on the second shelf, plus my “safe” sunscreen! Goddess Garden is an awesome brand! And we have a ton of extra floss that accumulates from the dentist. I prefer the pre-strung flossers but Daniel says once we run out of them we have to use all of this floss before buying more *first world problems*. Then on the bottom shelf we have some flosser tools (not sure what they’re really called but for those of you who have a permanent wire bottom retainer from braces, you know what’s up), plus a spare tooth brush, rubbing alcohol, nasal spray, tweezers, and a tube of shaving cream.

And now Daniel’s side decluttering:

daniels-declutter

Yeah he really didn’t have much to get rid of. Some cologne that makes him sneeze, an old razor, and some cream that was actually mine when I had eczema. And not featured, we threw out our old toothbrushes. Because, progress, ya know?

Daniel’s after:

danies-side-after

Up top he has some shaving stuff and his deodorants, middle shelf he has his colognes/more shaving stuff, and the bottom shelf he has kindly donated to our dental hygiene. Pink toothbrushes for the win!

So here’s the final result:declutter-after

And side-by-side for perspective:

before-and-after-cabinet

It doesn’t look like much improvement, and we could certainly cut down on more, but it is progress and these things take time. I basically have to rewire my brain to assure myself that it’s OKAY to get rid of what I don’t need/use. I don’t have to hoard all the things. But I was able to get rid of more than 10 items!

Just like I try to focus on physical health, I want to improve my mental health, and decluttering my surroundings really helps to improve my mood!

I plan to tackle the bathroom vanity next. I have taken it over with all of my hair and makeup products and it is worse than the medicine cabinet…

New Year, Better You

2017 new year, better you

I can’t believe it’s almost 2017! What are you doing to ring in the new year? We have some wonderful friends coming in to town to help us celebrate! We plan to go to a local Bar & Grill that has a great elevated patio that looks down upon downtown Denver so we can enjoy the fireworks without all the frenzy (we’re old like that, okay?).

Among the celebrations I have been thinking of my new year’s resolutions. Do you make yearly resolutions? In that past I have, but they end up being vague and not very structured. They are usually something along the lines of “lose weight” or “get organize” without any solid plan of the how to accomplish them. And you might guess how that fared for me—yeah, it didn’t.

So this year I’m taking action and getting specific with the goal and how to achieve it. Yeah, 2017, I ain’t messin’ around this time!

2017 New Year’s Resolutions

Instead of “lose weight” here are my specific health goals for the new year:

1. Reduce my body fat by 3%

I plan to achieve this by consistently working out–never having more than 4 consecutive days between a workout. 3% seemed like a reasonable amount of fat to lose in one year (hopefully it’s more but I want it to be challenging and achievable). And I feel like body fat is a good way to measure my physical achievements rather than weight since muscle weighs more than fat and can be misleading on the scale.

2. Follow the Nutritarian Women’s Health Study diet

I plan to assess my diet and make the improvements where needed to reduce my intake of processed foods and replace them with a whole food alternative. If you haven’t signed up for the study yet, want more information on it, or want a free book click this link! I will be posting how I am making these changes and what I am doing to make them sustainable for long term success.

3. Stretch daily for AT LEAST 10 minutes

stretching

Everyone can find the time to do 10 minutes of something and this goal has been something I’ve been meaning to do for a while. I want to regain my flexibility and strength. I hope to get in my 10+ minutes of stretching after my workouts but on rest days I will most likely stretch right before bed–it’s a nice nighttime relaxer!

4. Run six consecutive miles

running

I haven’t ran this far in…like ever. I’ve hiked/walked this far before but never ran. Now that I have joined a gym (woot woot) I plan to run on the treadmill 2-3 times a week and up my mileage slowly. Yesterday I ran one mile at a 6MPH pace or a 10-minute mile and it was challenging. (Can I still use the “altitude” excuse after living here 1.5 years?) Each time I run I want to add on an additional 0.25-0.5 mile. That puts me on track to running 6 miles at the very latest in 20 weeks or mid-May. Challenge accepted!

My health goals are much more extensive than the rest of my goals. I am very passionate about my health and want to be an example for others on this lifestyle. Plus, if you don’t take care of yourself it is harder to achieve in other areas of life.

So the rest of my resolutions are actually very simple.

5. Minimize

Less is More

Yep, that’s it! I feel bogged down by all of the extra things and objects taking up space in my home. I am a borderline hoarder. Okay, not that extreme, but I struggle with letting things go. I make excuses for keeping things I don’t need and don’t use anymore but *might* in the future. But that future rarely comes and all of this clutter raises my stress levels. To start minimizing I have committed to getting rid of 10 things every month! I plan to take you all on the ride with me with monthly updates to keep me accountable and to show you what sort of things have been cluttering up my life that could be cluttering up yours as well.

So that’s it for my resolutions! Hopefully these inspire you to make your own new year resolutions BUT I do have a recommendation for those of you who are wanting to “eat better” but need a bit of motivation or accountability.

My Challenge to You

Every year, a non-profit organization sponsors an online event called Veganuary. It’s all about challenging people to go vegan for the month of January. They provide a free cookbook, plus a bunch of recipes directly on their website and a guide for eating out. They’ve thought of everything to help you be successful and if that’s not enough feel free to email me at healthmylifestyle@gmail.com with any questions. “Vegan do it!” (Their quote, not mine. But I love a good pun.)

And for additional convincing–> 12 Reasons Why Going Vegan Should Be Your New Year’s Resolution

Hope you all have a Happy New Year! xoxo