WIAW and How Do You Approach the Holidays?

We’re coming right up on the holiday season. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re either interested in your health and fitness, or you’re my parents.

For those interested in health, the holidays can be a tumultuous time. There are conflicting tensions between the desire to maintain physical health while still enjoying holiday foods and festivities.


I knew in the past this has been an issue for me. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the holidays. I love the traditions, the food, the special events. But I also value my health. In the past, this tension would make me crazy, anxious, and angry around the holidays. I was always trying to avoid sugar, resist the goodies. But I would be miserable and feel like I was missing out. And I would inevitably give in and eat all the foods anyways, eat a ton of them, and feel terrible.


By the time the actual day of Christmas rolled around, I would be a mess. And every year around the holidays I would gain weight.

Last year was the first holiday season in many years that this didn’t happen. It was partly because I was still so sick then with my chronic stomach issue. I physically couldn’t go crazy eating things without my body turning on me. But that changed my perspective, because I appreciated what I could and did eat more. I think that experience, plus some maturity and changes in values, has shifted how I look at food and the holidays. That being said, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on how to stay “healthy” throughout the holidays. (Note the quotations).


  1. Don’t think of it as “surviving the holidays.” Think about “enjoying the holidays.” I know it’s easier said than done, but the holidays are not about dieting and resisting delicious food, they’re about family, traditions, and joy.
  2. Similarly, I really don’t recommend trying to avoid all the holidays foods. In my experience, that leaves me miserable and craving them even more. Life’s too short to not enjoy eggnog, or a Christmas morning mimosa, or your Grandma’s special homemade pie. Letting go of that restrictive mentality isn’t easy, but it’s freeing.
  3. Trust your body. Don’t stress the changes. Here’s the deal. No one is going to wake up every single day weighing precisely the same amount. So many factors go into play. We see these stats everywhere: “Americans gain an average of 5 pounds every holiday season.” Here’s the deal. I guarantee that is not 5 pounds of pure fat. Carbohydrates hold 4x their weight in water. If you eat a lot of sugar or bread products over the holidays, your body will retain water. But guess what? That will disappear when you return to your normal routine. I finally started trusting my body. If I eat a big, delicious meal and lots of sugar, I realize that I might gain some weight but I don’t freak out because a) it’s not that serious and b) I trust that when things return to normal my body will too.


All those were more ways to mentally approach the holidays. While I definitely preach enjoying everything, I also want to make it a priority this holiday season to still feel good so I can fully enjoy everything. So I do want to talk about some ways to do that as well.

  1. Maintain your normal routine as much as possible when not at events. Go to holiday parties on the weekends, have a good time, and enjoy good food, but eating cake and cookies at a party on the weekend doesn’t mean you have to say “screw it” and eat junk all week. Stick to your normal workouts, eat your normal meals. I guarantee you will feel better.
  2. Make some healthy holiday treats. Some healthy swaps you won’t even notice. If you’re making gingerbread, why not look for a lower sugar recipe? If you’re making your own treats, why not make some healthier ones to have on hand? I personally plan on making some healthier treats that I don’t feel bad about enjoying on a regular basis. That way I never feel like I’m missing out on anything (And check back here for some recipes!)
  3. Get physical. No matter what I’m eating, I always feel 100x better when I get some exercise in.
  4. Start some new fit traditions. One of my favorite traditions that my family and I started doing was the Santa Run. It’s a 5k that finished at Christmas in the Park, a little Christmas village in downtown San Jose. It gets us in the holiday spirit! Last year on Christmas day, my family started our morning with a dog walk/run along the bay, followed by festive drinks, and it was an absolutely beautiful morning. Plus, Chloe got to join in! Take a night walk to look at lights (especially if you live in CA like I do and it’s not freezing!) Not every holiday tradition has to revolve around food.


Those are my thoughts for how to approach the holidays. Trust your body, and just think about trying to feel your best to enjoy the season. Again, it’s not that serious.


On that note, let’s finally dive into WIAW, Jenn‘s baby! Now that I’m home, my food is a little bit more interesting so I want to share it more!



My new favorite pre-workout food is Cheerios. I don’t even know what time zone I’m on right now, but I had plenty of time before morning Crossfit to eat! I had a bowl of pumpkin spice Cheerios. (We ordered a few boxes online from Target because they were getting hard to find!)


I did some technique work on snatches. I used 65# for a complex of a power snatch, overhead squat, and full snatch. Then we worked on bar muscles ups (LOL). I practiced some turnovers (assisted) and worked on negative pull ups. The WOD was a 7 min AMRAP of 5 power cleans and 10 toes to bar. I have toes to bar, but the coach and me do knees to elbow instead so I could really focus on getting into a good position that should later help me string together toes to bar. It was a lot more shoulder intensive the way he had me doing them! I used 85 for the cleans.


I had the same breakfast most days in St. Louis and I’m finally sick of it. I discovered some chocolate KIND granola in the pantry, so I centered my breakfast on that. I made a yogurt with with Fage 2% a little bit of maple syrup, and cocoa powder. Topped with granola and crunchy Sunbutter. I had jumbo blueberries on the side.



I had more leftover lemon chicken rice soup, with added spinach. I also seasoned it with thyme lemon bay sea salt, and topped it with feta. On the side are leftover roasted shaved brussels with truffle salt.



I had another sea salt chocolate bar from 88 Acres (more info here) as well as a Medjol date, since it had been so long since I had one strangely enough. So good!

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I also nibbled on some Cranberry Orange bread while cutting up some slices for the freezer.

Dinner Part 1:

I volunteered to sub a 7:30pm spin class this evening which is a super awkward time for me, especially since I’m still sort of on St. Louis time. I decided to eat a light dinner pretty early.

Trader Joe’s GF cornbread with a little whipped butter.


And a small bowl of butternut squash and chicken soup.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if anyone was going to come to a spin class that late, the week of Thanksgiving. Since it’s at the university, most people are gone for break. Luckily, I had a few people, and had a blast! It’s different teaching here, and it’s good to be back.

The rest of the evening didn’t go as planned. I drive an older car, and it can be pretty finicky. I had a lot of issues with the engine when I first started driving it a few years ago, but since then it has been fine. It didn’t appreciate not being driven too much while I was gone, it turns out. It took a while to start driving there, and when I got in to drive home after spin, the engine started shaking like crazy and then just died. Thereby stranding me 25 minutes from home. The worst thing was I was able to get out of my parking spot before it died, so I was directly blocking in a few cars. I called Triple A to get it towed, and my mom came and picked me up. Thankfully the process was relatively painless all things considered, and I’m grateful I didn’t even make it out of the parking lot and it didn’t die on the highway. That being said, I don’t have a good feeling about what may be wrong with it.

When my mom and I drove off around 9:30, we were both on the exact same wavelength: froyo. When I had mono freshman year of college, I ate mass quantities of froyo so I still remembered more or less what places were open until 10! We stopped at Yumi Yogurt, which is pretty big in my area. I got a butterscotch flavor burst with mini m&ms. Sadly, aesthetics were sacrificed in favor of more toppings but this was delicious, and the perfect post-workout refuel!


While it’s never fun watching your car get towed, I’m thankful the situation wasn’t worse. A

And on that note….

How do you approach the holidays?


St. Louis

App is submitted. I’m in St. Louis! I’ve spent the last 1.5 days settling in. So we’re going to do a little photo recap.


Airport—off to the next adventure!


I have this uncanny ability to always have the furthest gate, but the advantage is when changing planes I get to see every food option in the airport. Salad with roasted corn, grapes, goat cheese, chicken, agave champagne vinaigrette.

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Senior Formal, One Health, Fountain Hopping

It has been quite the weekend. This is hell weekend #2 of the quarter in terms of school work, and I have a bit of a long night ahead of me. That being said, it’s also been a blast thus far, and I’m soaking up the senior experiences.

In terms of my foot, it’s likely a stress fracture but I’m still waiting for an MRI to come back to know for sure. When I have more details, I want to do a full post on that. In the meantime, I’ve been playing the game of “how many ways can I keep myself amused on a spin bike?” Luckily, I’m certified in that!

While I am totally swamped, I did want to take the time to blog about this weekend. Lots of pictures!

Friday right after class, I headed to my MRI. Totally fell asleep in the middle of it. You know you’re in college when…

We had been considering going out to dinner before senior formal, but given I wasn’t going to get back from my MRI until 6, we scrapped the idea and ate at the house.

My friends and I got ready together, and I popped a bottle of fancy champagne, courtesy of Black Friday shopping at Domain Chandon.


Then we took some pictures before boarding the bus to SF. I never look fancy so be prepared for a bit of a photo overload.

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Formal was held at the Metreon, which had a gorgeous view of the city from the balcony.

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It was so fun to see everyone from my class so dressed up!

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There was a live band playing, a (crowded) Photo Booth, and plenty of food. Not a lot of Aurora-friendly food, so I didn’t have much, but it looked good! The mac and cheese was a hit, and I had some chickpea channa masala.

We got on one of the earlier buses back, but even still, I wasn’t in bed until around 2.

Saturday morning, I was up bright and early at 6:30am to be at a conference I was working at and attending as part of the pre-vet club. The conference ran 8-6, so it was quite a long day after 4.5 hours of sleep! I have zero caffeine tolerance so I can’t drink coffee, but I found that a few sips of green tea here and there really helped. Yes, my tolerance is that low. I don’t get it.

The conference was One Health focused, and was very interesting. One Health is the concept that the medical, veterinary, public health, and environmental fields are intertwined and all interact with each other. As such, we need to link them in our approaches to problem solving in various realms. For the conference, we had tons of speaks, ranging from MDs, veterinarians, and researchers. The conference covered 4 main areas: influenza, Seizure/Epilepsy research, Antibiotic Resistance, and Bats (as a vector for disease). The influenza section touched on particular types of flu epidemics, and the spread of flu from animals to humans (and vice versa). My favorite section was the Seizure/Epilepsy research. Presenters shared research in both humans and animals, and two of the presenters showed some incredibly cool research on new technology for predicting seizures (in epilepsy) based on brainwaves, and then potentially trying to prevent them. In the antibiotic resistance module, speakers discussed the growing problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria, resulting from over prescription of antibiotics and of uniform antibiotic dosage within the food animal industry to increase growth rate. Antibiotic resistance is a serious issue, because it is not unforeseeable that in the future we will no longer be protected by antibiotics. For those unfamiliar, antibiotic resistance occurs because bacteria can mutate and evolve at extremely fast rates, and can change in a way that allows them to evade the effects of antibiotics. The final module was on the spread of disease through bats.

One of my roles was a lunchtime discussion facilitator, and in my group, we spent a lot of time discussing animal use in research (something I am fairly knowledgable about) and the public’s view of it.

It was a long day, but I definitely learned a lot!


Immediately after the conference, I went out to dinner with my family for a little early birthday celebration since I have a midterm on the night of my actual birthday. Per my choice, we went to Lyfe Kitchen.


Goat cheese and mushroom flatbread to start.


And a gluten free chicken and avocado sandwich for my main meal. Plus garlic parmesan sweet potato fries to share!

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We went back to my sister’s apartment for cake afterwards, and I got to hang out with her kitty, Lava!

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Lava is a sweetie, and extremely easy-going. The only way to blow out candles clearly is with a cat in your lap! I certainly tested out my range.


My mom made a beautiful ice cream cake!


Gluten free chocolate cake on the bottom Strauss mint chocolate chip ice cream on top. It was delicious! (Was/Is. Definitely had a slice Sunday night!)


Sunday has been spent simultaneously trying to get my life together and trying to enjoy the last half quarter of senior year. I started my morning with a spin class, because I can only spend so much time on a bike by myself. I let the instructor know beforehand that I couldn’t stand on the bike, and it was still a great class. (Sidenote: I taught a class Wednesday without standing, and my class were rockstars! They were super understanding an followed my cues perfectly!)

I spent Sunday afternoon grinding away at a take-home test, before breaking for a little fountain hopping.

Fountain hopping is a huge thing here. Because of the drought, the fountains have been turned off for the past 2 years, but they turned them back on for the final month.

I was greeted with an unexpected roll out when my friends knocked on my door with a boom box.

It was the perfect weather for hanging out in a fountain. I hadn’t been fountain hopping since just after my freshman year! Crazy.

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It was fantastic to see some friends I haven’t hung out with much this quarter.

Froyo afterwards was totally necessary as well.


I got plain with fruit from Fraiche, the froyo place on campus. (They also make their own normal yogurt and it’s so good! I never get it!)

And then it was back to the reality of take home midterms and pages and pages of reading. *Sigh*

How am I a senior though??

16.4, Goats, and a 5k

Hello friends! It’s been a little while, and I have lots to catch up on!

Let’s start with 16.4. I did it Friday night at my home Crossfit, and while it was a lot of fun, OOF. That was Friday night. It’s Tuesday morning now. Will my lower back ever be the same? Still TBD.

16.4 was a 13 minute AMRAP of 55 deadlifts at 155#, 55 wall balls (14#), 55 calories on the row, and 55 hand stand push ups. Obviously, I can’t do handstand push ups. I figured if I made it that far, that would be fantastic enough, so I decided to do Rx. I wasn’t sure how far I would make it into the workout, but got after it!

155# on the deadliest normally would be considered a comfortable but very heavy weight. But I’ve hardly done deadlifts at all in a while, so I was a little nervous. I started with sets of 10 and then did sets of 5 around 20 reps, and smaller sets at the very end. More than anything, my core was giving out on me! Definitely something I need to put some more work into. After the deadlifts, I stumbled over to the wall for wall balls. The ball actually felt SO light when I picked it up after deadlifts. That being said, I DEFINITELY struggled with the wall balls. They’re hard enough without 55 deadlifts in the recent past! In addition, I don’t normally do wall balls to a 9 foot target, and was prepared to get no repped. Which definitely happened, but not too much. When i felt like my reps were declining, I broke up the set to avoid wasting energy on a no rep. That being said, this was such a struggle. I couldn’t even do sets of 10, and by the end a set of 5 wasn’t even happening. However, my home box has a Crossfit games Masters athlete, and she was right there with me coaching me on. When a games athlete tells you to pick the ball back up, you pick the ball back up. I think I got to the row around 9:30. Luckily, rowing is sort of one of my strengths. I used the first minute or so as a “recovery” since I was sucking air from the wall balls, and then picked it up, busting it out at the end. I ended up finishing the 55 calories at 12:59. I’ll take it!


I was BEAT afterwards, but SUPER happy with how I did. I was actually the only non-masters female athlete to do this workout Rx at my box! But my core and hamstrings were done. Anytime I bent down, it took all the strength in the world to come back up! I went in the first heat (because I don’t like to see how painful it is) and stuck around for about 4 more heats, watching and cheering.

So, 16.4 done, 165 reps!


(And check out this adorable corgi cheering us on!)

The next morning was a REST day. I legit could not bend over.

That afternoon, I went to a farm with my friend to see baby animals. Unfortunately, we seemed to be a bit early in the season, but there were some young goats!

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Afterwards we made a mandatory froyo stop. Cake batter and chocolate with chocolate chips for me!


Dinner was another tortilla pizza, this time with grilled peach, chicken, gorgonzola, and balsamic.


Sunday morning was race day! I ran the Hellyer 5k for the 3rd time. Unfortunately, I woke up feeling even more beat up from 16.4 than the day before. Ouch. Lower back was still not functioning.

We brought Chloe to the race, and she made another puppy friend.

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It was a chilly, but luckily the forecasted rain had not yet begun.


^Me attempting to stretch my back. Back still feeling rough. OUCH.


So apparently when you put your bib on with two jackets on over it, it comes out kind of crooked. Oh well.

I was hoping to approach my PR in the race, but out of the gate I knew that wasn’t happening. Some days your just don’t feel right, so I decided to just not die and do my best on that day. The race was Alice in Wonderland themed, and there were quotes printed out throughout the course which I thought was a fun touch.



But overall, I’m happy with it!


I also had the pleasure of meeting blog reader Rina; we’ve been trying to meet up for a while now, so this was a pleasant surprise!


Rina is super speedy and placed second in her (our?) age group which is awesome! It was good to finally meet you Rina!

After the race, my family and I (and Chloe) stopped at a gluten free bakery near home for brunch. We got some baked goods to share (cinnamon roll and blueberry lemon muffin), and my mom and I split a chicken and avocado sandwich on foccacia!

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It was a busy weekend!

Check back in tomorrow for some more food details though—so nice to have the freedom of a kitchen!

Fall Festivities

I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend! I’m still in the heat of midterms, but I thought I’d pop in and share some fun weekend happenings.


I had to start my Friday off on the right foot pre-midterm. An amazing Fuji apple from the farmer’s market with cottage cheese and sun butter. My midterm was a time crunch. I walked out with my brain fried, and grateful that I planned a track workout right afterwards! 4x400m-nothing too crazy, but homework for my exercise physiology class! I spent the afternoon running errands-including a flu shot, new running shoes, and some study time in Peet’s. That evening I went to Crossfit for some squats and a lighter workout that involved lots of push ups-my shoulder is getting stronger!

My evening plans involved friends and a nice bottle of wine.


I still cannot believe I will be leaving these people in less than a year!

Saturday morning I had planned on going for a fall run, but my legs were not feeling it. They had been feeling a little rough between my race, spin classes, and sprint workouts, so I went for a leisurely morning bike ride. I did a beautiful 15ish mile loop, and the good news is I felt much stronger than the last time I did it a year ago-those spin classes must be doing something!

Post ride meal scavenged from the fridge:

Sautéed garlic spinach, rice, and leftover chicken (served with ketchup of course!).

That evening was our Homecoming football game. My Crossfit actually arranged a tailgate prior to the game, so I enjoyed some time outside of the gym with my workout buddies. Everyone looked so different not in workout clothes!

At game time, I met up with some friends.

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Our mascot is a tree, and each year, it is quite the honor to be the tree. The trees are crazy-they usually have to do some sort of insane stunt to get the position, although many of these are kept under wraps. The tree makes its own costume each year, with many different interpretations, including a palm tree, the traditional pine, and this year a willow. A fun part of Homecoming is seeing the tree reunion!


I left at halftime (we were up by 2 touchdowns already 🙂 ) to head over to a Wine and Cheese night hosted by my sister. She had an extensive cheese selection, and pumpkin creme brûlée made before our eyes with a hand held blow torch. (How cool is it that she has that??) It was also fun to see her friends and discuss the wedding!

Sunday morning I was up bright an dearly to sub a spin class at my off-campus gym. It was a good class, and I left energized!

The main event for the weekend though?

PUMPKIN PATCH. There’s a historic farm across the bay (that has baby animals in the spring) with all kinds of ruminants, plus a full on pumpkin patch. I made my friends commit to going weeks in advance because I didn’t want anyone to miss out!


First up was the goats. I’m pretty sure these goats are the babies of the pregnant mothers I saw in the spring!

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The most exciting thing? I got to see my cow! I saw this cow when it was young (maybe teenaged?) my freshman year of college, and when I returned last spring, it had grown so much! This year? I got quite the wonderful surprise when I saw that it had a young calf! My cow is all grown up!

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After exploring the cornfields, it was time for the pumpkin patch! I was on the search for the perfect pumpkin.

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After an extensive search, I found the one!

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On the way back to campus, we stopped for pumpkin froyo. Because basic. And because fall. I got pumpkin froyo and salted caramel froyo. SO amazing.


I love fall!