A New Hydration Tip and Is Chocolate Milk the Best?

Hello! I hope everyone is having a fantastic week so far! Crossing my fingers, the worse of my flare up is over and hopefully I am back to feeling (mostly) normal!

Tomorrow, I’m going to do a day in the life post, since I try to do one every few months, but today I want to catch up on the past few days as well as share some things I learned in one of my classes!

I’m taking a sex and gender in physiology class this quarter, and yesterday we had a guest lecturer come in and talk about gender differences in relation to sports performance. Here’s something interesting: there are very few studies that look at women specifically. Most of the sports performance studies are on men, or do not differentiate. Given the hormonal differences and differences in organ size (women have smaller hearts and lower lung capacity), this is significant. From the lecture, I had a few take aways for practical applications I wanted to tell you guys.

  1. Women suffer from Hyponatremia more frequently. Hyponatremia is a condition that occurs when blood sodium levels are too low. This may occur during a long, hot endurance event where a person drinks lots of water, without electrolytes, and loses lots of electrolytes in sweat. This is a serious condition, and actually kills more people in long distance endurance events than dehydration. Women are more susceptible to this because estrogen lowers the body’s “set point,” or level of electrolyte that it decides is acceptable before it must conserve water. As a result, the body starts conserving water when more electrolytes have already been lost. Because women have more estrogen than men, especially during the luteal phase of their cycle, they are more likely to have this issue of loss of too many electrolytes. So what’s the solution? Easy—consume electrolytes! Add 1/16 of a teaspoon of salt per 20 oz of water to prevent excess electrolytes loss and to improve actual water absoprtion into the bloodstream.
  2. Post-workout, women need more protein, specifically lysine and leucine (amino acids), for muscle recovery. Women have higher levels of progesterone, and progesterone increases the breakdown of protein and leads to less protein synthesis (building of muscles). Because of this, the magic protein to carb ratio in chocolate milk is likely not sufficient protein for women (but it’s great for men!). For women, something life plain low fat Greek yogurt is recommended because it has a higher protein to carb ratio.
  3. Women should not go super low carb or exercise fasted (see my previous post on fasted cardio—similar concept) because while women have a greater capacity for turning fat as fuel than men, exercising without carbohydrates leads to cortisol (the stress hormone) production, which reduces estrogen, leading to lethargy and fat gain. So carb up!

Hopefully you might have gotten something interesting out of that! I haven’t tried salting my water yet, but I definitely will soon. I feel like I’m constantly thirsty and constantly drinking!

So what have I been up to? Last week my friends and I had a little fruit and cheese party. One of m Christmas presents was a fruit and cheese club, and this month’s cheese was gouda, and the fruit was pears. I also sliced up some goat cheddar to enjoy with crackers.

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Also noteworthy: my parents got me some fancy chocolates from Napa, and not only are they beautiful, but they’re delicious! And coincidentally, now they’re all gone.


Over the weekend, I visited my high school friend at Berkeley. Friday was her birthday, so I stopped by to see her cats celebrate!

Seriously though, her cats are adorable. I took pictures with both cats but not with her…They are now 8 months old, and I watched them grow up!

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It was a pretty low key night—I got there in time to go to Trader Joe’s and then make dinner. We snacked on some hummus (with GF crackers for me) and then made a salad with avocado, tomatoes, goat cheese, and hard boiled eggs.


We actually used WikiHow for the egg method, and they came out perfectly and easy to peel. I’ve had some fails with eggs in the past, but it’s been years since I’ve made hard boiled eggs. For what it’s worth, just bring a pot of water with some salt to a boil WITH the eggs in it. Once it boils, turn off the heat and leave the eggs for 3-20 minutes, depending on your egg told preferences. We split the difference and went with 10, and they were perfect, with fully cooked yolks.

We watched a movie (Ex Machina—interesting!) and had a great time in each other’s company. I love friends like that!

In terms of health, I am happy to report that my stomach flare up seems to have ended (KNOCK ON WOOD). It’s been ending the past few days, but I actually felt normal today (!). Yesterday I was feeling not flared but that my body was having to work really hard to digest anything, until the magical dinner I had at home on the way to an off campus class. Sweet potato chicken soup and cornbread is apparently the ideal thing for my stomach. Needless to say I had leftovers for lunch today and plan to have the same thing for lunch tomorrow!


On the food front, I had a sunflower seed butter+jam sandwich (on GF bread) for a pre workout snack today and I was way too excited for it. I think I hate pb&j every day for lunch for about 4 years in middle/high school, so when I acquired good GF bread I was all over that!


It’s funny—with my stomach condition I feel like I have to take a very scientific approach to how I eat. Everything must be planned and considered—there’s no emotion associated. As a scientist, I actually like this. The point is, I’m trying really hard to eat foods other than straight carbs—more whole foods. While there are some vegetables I’m staying away from right now, I’m trying to work in more actual foods (like this sandwich in place of a bar). I packed an orange for snack today which was exciting because I have definitely not been getting my fruit in!

In fitness news, I did the best pull up of my life yesterday. To put in perspective how crazy that is, 2 weeks ago I couldn’t hang from the bar without shoulder pain. My shoulder is not 100%, but it still amazes me the changes that occur every weeks and the progress I make. I’m super proud of the pull up because I literally built that up from nothing. At the end of September, I couldn’t lift up my arm. Now, I did a pull up without a band. Sort of kipping, but still, closest to non-kipping I’ve done (and before I only sort of could do 1 kipping sometimes). I’m incredibly proud of this, and am hoping 2016 will be the year of the pull up!

Now, I have to go make a spin playlist for tomorrow! I’m loving my spin classes this quarter—they’ve been full! I taught tonight, and can already see that tomorrow’s class has filled up!

How do you stay hydrated? Do you feel hydrated?

2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Today I want to talk a bit about the Dietary Guidelines for Americans-you know, the food pyramid and more recently MyPlate?


The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are updated every 5 years, so the newest version will come out at the end of 2015. A committee of scientists and experts (the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Committee) is currently worked on a science-based report to advise the next guidelines. Basically, the committee reviews lots and lots of studies and uses the evidence they find to determine what to recommend. They will then submit a report to the government, who will release guidelines. The report may look different from the original guidelines because other factors may come into play.

Anyways, the committee is having meetings to discuss their findings and ideas, and these are open to be viewed by the public. They are webcasted, and I watched the July 17-18 meetings, which lasted a day and a half. If anyone is interested, to watch the next meeting on September 16-17, go to their website and you can register. You will then get sent a link to the videos.

It was definitely interesting to watch. In terms of dietary data, their findings seemed to be consistent with the advice in the 2010 dietary guidelines. The guidelines are interesting to read-the first ones are from 1980, and I’ve read all of them up to 2010. They actually haven’t changed a whole lot since then-they’ve just gotten more detailed. The first one was maybe 15 pages, while the most recent was almost 100! They are all available on the USDA’s website.


One thing to look for in 2015 is the new focus on sustainability. The 2015 guidelines will include recommendations for a sustainable diet, as well as a nutritiously sound one, although from their current findings, it looks like a nutritionally strong diet is also very sustainable.

Out of the however-many hours of the meeting, one particular comment really stuck out to me.

“If the overall diet quality is high, the specific pattern doesn’t matter.”


This means, if the diet has lots of healthy, nutrient dense foods, the type of diet doesn’t matter-they are all equally healthy to reduce disease risk and maintain healthy body weight. The common qualities of disease risk-reducing diets were found to be high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low in processed meats, refined grains, and sugar sweetened foods and beverages.


This comes back to my REAL foods philosophy. If you’re eating the good stuff, it doesn’t matter if you eat exactly the recommended ratio of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. You can be vegan, vegetarian, no-sugar, gluten free, low carb, 80/10/10-it doesn’t matter as long as you chose nutritious foods. I loved hearing this from a scientific perspective. Our bodies are pretty adaptable, and no one pattern of eating is right or wrong. Additionally, everyone is different, so what works for some may not work for others-so don’t try to model your pattern of eating to something that Instagram or twitter says is the “right” way of eating.

Just eat real foods.


Rest is for the Dead?

Hey guys! I must admit, this post is going to have a much different tone than I initially anticipated. I thought I’d be more or less dead right now, but I actually feel great. Last night, I got the least amount of sleep I’ve ever gotten since coming to college, and maybe since ever. My day was crazy busy so I was up super late doing a lab report. At least super late by my standards-I will never pull an all nighter! I got a whole 3 hours of sleep. The good news? At this point my week is more or less over so I can just sleep. For the record, I attribute my current energy level not to my new eating habits but rather to a miracle. But I’ll definitely talk about the eating habits as well!

Last night I went to weight lifting, but since my knee isn’t 100%, I couldn’t go into nearly full squats. Apparently to going into full squats puts a ton of strain on your hamstrings because mine are smoked today!

Let’s first go over Wednesday’s food. Wednesdays are traditionally where my healthy eating breaks down, and my habits did see some changes.


Pre-run energy bites. Slightly bland, but super convenient and do the job perfectly! I checked out the macronutrient distribution, and it was just where I wanted it for pre-workout.


Overnight oats made with plain yogurt and milk, chia seeds, coconut, and extra thick rolled oats. This was super thick! And I may have been a little heavy handed on the vanilla…topped with berry compote! Which we desperately need to make more of…


Plus an orange.


Same old, same old for lunch, but I don’t seem to get tired of it! Although I’m thinking of mixing it up next week…quinoa fried rice? Also, Christine’s Garlic Balsamic Brussels Sprouts are one of my favorite things ever.

After class yesterday, I stocked up on bananas. This was the best sight ever.


Yesterday was a little weird because I had literally zero time for dinner, so I had several snacks.


A beautiful blood orange, banana with sunflower seed butter and unsweetened chocolate, plus some seaweed salad. The seaweed salad probably had a little sugar in it-that was definitely not the best judgement on my part, but I’m still alive. Dried mango. The bowl of yogurt, bananas, and sunflower seed butter was after a sorority event that ended late-I was starving! At the event, I faced my first real temptation-homemade cookies and toppings.


Here’s “dinner” after weights, eating while racing between events: a cold turkey burger.


These burgers are THAT good that I eat them cold, in a plastic bag, and still love them.

One thing about eating real foods is that all the thought has been taken out of it-I just listen to my body without even thinking. Yesterday, I had quite a few different snacks throughout the day, but I didn’t think twice about them and just ate what I was craving, and it did the job perfectly. When I was up really late doing work, it didn’t even occur to me to eat food to help me stay up, which is something I definitely would have done in the past.

This morning, coffee was absolutely necessary. I actually woke up for spin this morning. Whether or not that was a good decision, I don’t know. My 3am logic isn’t always sound, but 45 minutes didn’t seem like it would make that much of a difference sleep wise, but spin would definitely energize me and help me wake up.


This was by far the best one in a long time!

One thing about food prep-it makes things so easy when you’re a zombie. Leftover overnight oats and berries were just sitting waiting for me.


I’m to sure what it is about Tuesdays and Thursdays, but for some reason despite the fact I have earlier and more class, I’m much more awake. I knew I’d probably be ok in Nutrition, and if I made it through Chem I’d be ok because I’d be active and moving around in lab in the afternoon. I was surprisingly fine in chem-I think it helps to have someone to sit next to and crack jokes with to keep me awake!

Here was lunch-cumin roasted cauliflower was the veggie of the day!

I’ll write up the rest of my food a little later, but I want to talk about some things I’ve been noticing.

It’s been less than 4 days. But I’m seeing changes. Real, noticeable changes. I look leaner and healthier, and it’s not my imagination-my barista even noticed! I think a lot of this has to do with cutting out sugar-my body isn’t holding on to so much junk. I’ve been feeling great-I haven’t had a single stomachache, something that seemed to happen everyday (which I always thought was sugar related).

I feel enlightened. And I’m so happy I have a blog to share this with the world. It’s been 4 days. FOUR DAYS. That’s it! And yet, I look at 4 days ago Aurora and feel like I’m looking at a different person-I feel like my metabolism was so screwed up. And that was me-a relatively healthy American. Our whole country’s metabolisms are messed up! And I believe that now more than ever. Eating has just been so easy for me these past few days. I eat when I’m hungry, I eat what I crave, which is whole foods. I had some baby sugar cravings after the 2 pieces of mango, but nothing serious. It’s just so amazing to me.

One difference between this project and other dietary changes I’ve tried to make in the past is that I don’t feel restricted. I’ve tried both Paleo and Whole30, and I really missed certain foods with that. Now? I love the food I’m eating! I can eat whatever I want and feel great! It’s wonderful!



(Just taken selfie-do I look different?? Haha)

While I feel amazing now and I want to help everyone in the country realize this, I understand something else. Over the last year, my eating habits slipped a bit, but now I’m finally starting to feel like myself again. I thought-“this is amazing, I wish I had done this months ago!”

But here’s the thing. Months ago, I wasn’t ready. To completely overhaul your diet, to change the way you think, to change the way you express emotions (because who hasn’t celebrated with food?), you have to be ready. And you have to be inspired. This isn’t just about me. This is about proving that for optimal health, you just need to eat real food, no crazy diets. And that anyone can do it. I mean heck, I’m in college, with limited time and limited kitchen access, as well as temptations around every corner. But I’m doing it, and I’m feeling great, and I’m changing, both in body and mind. And that’s just after 4 days.

I’ve said it before-I feel enlightened. I feel like I understand cravings and metabolism and the problems with our country much better now. (But there’s also the possibility that I’m sleep deprived and delirious…) Food has always been a struggle for me-this is unhealthy, this tastes like cardboard but is good for me, this is unhealthy but I’m going to eat it anyways, even though it’s not that great and I’m not hungry. Sound familiar? I’m realizing how many places in my life I would have normally reached for something sweet, but now I just don’t. And I’m still alive. I don’t miss it-although I’m excited for my one dessert this weekend! Food is just so easy. No stress. No anxiety. I just eat. And my food is delicious and I enjoy it-but that’s that-no guilt, no gross feelings, no seconds/third/fourths, no afterthoughts.

And that’s how it should be.

I wish I could properly express to the world how night and day I’ve felt. I want to get the blood sugar tests done this weekend as well so I have some harder facts than the rainbows and butterflies I’m currently spurting out my mouth.

I wish this project could inspire people to try what I’m doing-cutting the fake processed junk out. Now more than ever I believe this is the problem and the root of the obesity epidemic. I just wish I could make people see.

WIAW-Unproccessed Food

Happy Wednesday! Which means, it’s none other than What I Ate Wednesday-a big thanks to Jenn for hosting!



My morning started bright and early so I could lead weight training to quidditch. I put together my breakfast the night before so it would be quick and easy in the dark.




THIS. SO GOOD-I felt like I was eating a pb&j sandwich. Fun fact-did you know I ate pb&j everyday for about 3 years? It was sophisticated too-different peanut butters, ALWAYS two types of jam (each half was different). And somehow now my body rebels at nuts-go figure. ANYWAYS. This is plain greek yogurt topped with sunflower seed butter and mixed berry compote. The mixed berry compote? I hinted at it yesterday. So easy. So good.

Take a bag of frozen berries (i added a few frozen cherries to the mix as well).


Simmer on stove at low heat for a couple of hours-until the berries thicken. Or throw in the slow cooker-we have one in our room and that is going to happen at some point.

Result: deliciousness. No sugar needed.


Quidditch training went really well-today was the first week we repeated a workout, and the improvements were insane! I mean, there’s a lot of form improvement as well as strength, so the increase in the weights they used was huge. On back squats, most people moved up 20-30 pounds! One guy who lifts on his own couldn’t get very low on his squats a couple of weeks ago. He’s been working on it, and now his form was WAY better, and he lifted 30 pounds heavier! It’s so excited-I’m so proud!

One guy made me check that his form was good because he was using way heavier weights than last time, but it felt so much easier that he was sure he must be doing something wrong. And on top of just the strength, everyone did more rounds of the timed conditioning. 

The best part? We got through everything smoothly and quickly so I had time for coffee before my first class.


Lunch after class was prepacked-chicken, asparagus, and brown butter sage mashed sweet potatoes. 


Before my 4:15 class, I got an email that I needed to be somewhere at 7, so I had to reschedule Crossfit and rush straight form my last class, so before class I went back to my room to change and eat a quick snack. I had the biggest banana craving EVER. Like, I would have killed for a banana. Ohhh what eating well does to us. I ended up buying a banana on the way back. 


I also had a couple of squares of unsweetened chocolate, on with sunflower seed butter and the other without.

But banana and sunflower seed butter? Hit. The. Spot.


Plus a spoon of berry compote and a cutie.


Unsweetened dark chocolate is intense-it’s hard to eat too much. I now know my limit-not 2 squares. I was a bit wired/heart racing. Noted.

I made it to Crossfit on time-I could do everything in today’s workout with my knee, although I had to be careful to really get high on the box jumps so that I wouldn’t land in a deep squat. My knee is doing way better-I can squat if I’m SUPER careful, so that’s a good sign (although it feels a little stiff now, so I should ice!). I’m planning on going to weight lifting tomorrow, but instead of doing full lifts, I’m going to do power lifts instead. For those that don’t know, the difference between a full and a power lift is that full lifts finish in a squat, and power lifts catch the bar standing up. 

Dinner tonight was sort of late (and therefore from my fridge). I am going to make some attempts at the dining hall soon, but I didn’t get back from various things until late, and the dining hall would have been closing. 

While I heated my soup, I munched on some grilled chicken with homemade ketchup.


It’s totally normal to eat this as a meat-sicle, right? I mean, it saves a knife….

And then the main course-butternut squash soup with modified cranberry relish and creme fraiche.


I also had a small bite of the unsweetened chocolate to give the meal some finality. 

Overall, I’ve felt great these past 2 days. Better today than yesterday-maybe it was more caffeine, or maybe sugar withdrawals are over. I’ve leaned out a little in the last 2 days, simply because I’m not eating junk, and my body is flushing out all the cake/muffins/chips I ate over the weekend. In other words-the starting weight measurement from Monday really wasn’t representative of where I was, but we’ll go with it. In terms of the other data-my sister is sick so she couldn’t do blood pressure, and I decided that I am not sticking my finger with a sewing needle, because that is going to hurt too much, so I can’t take blood sugar until I get the lancets. And that is not a priority when I have schoolwork deadlines breathing down my neck!

It’s really interesting to me the foods that I’m seeking out-like bananas. I’m actually having less trouble eating like this because there are fewer options, and things are pretty much laid out for me. 

What’s also interesting is my macronutrient composition. I was thinking I was not eating enough protein, which was probably true, although it’s still in the healthy range.


But then eliminate sugars, and there’s more space for the good stuff-here’s what the past couple of days have looked like:


I’m on the low end of carbohydrate and the high end of fat (thanks Nutrition class for that knowledge), but I think that will probably shift as the week goes on-I tend to want more carbs later in the week, so I’m trying to make sure I replenish the carbs I’m using. That being said, despite the government’s macronutrient recommendations, people function very well on a wide variety of intakes-some cultures eat mostly fat and are healthy. Others eat mostly carbs and are healthy. (I’m not talking about the typical American diet). What I’m saying is people are really good at functioning well on diets with whole foods, despite the ratios-so the ratios really aren’t that important!

I also felt really good today in Crossfit-strong and fast (in terms of running). But this could also be because I haven’t lifted heavy much lately.

Day 2 done and I’m feeling good!

What’s the weirdest food craving you’ve had?

Real Food

As promised, today’s post has an actual subject. That’s right, real food. But first, I’ll go through my day pretty quickly.

I drove 20 minutes to one of my home gyms for a Spin class. Before Spin, I had a piece of banana bread. I had to get to Spin early to sign up, so before class I did some ab work. I really love my Spin classes at home. They are so much better than the ones at school, which I can basically never make because I have practice during the times they are offered.

After Spin, I completed the At home chipper from Tina‘s blog. It took me about half an hour. What really held me up were the burpees. I absolutely hate them! I had to break them up quite a bit, in contrast to the squats, where I just blasted through all 100 at once.

After Spin, I ended up stopping by home briefly to visit kitties and pick up a birthday present for my sister. While home, I ate a beautiful lunch.Image

Corn chowder with avocado, brussels sprouts (my favorite) and buttered European style toast. Plus some random things I found raiding my parents’ cabinets. 

I also had some super, super dark chocolate. My favorite! I don’t have a picture, but I made a coconut type candy (with no sugar-beware). I mixed baker’s chocolate with unsweetened coconut and coconut oil, and rolled the mixture in cocoa powder. So I have a zero sugar dessert! I wish I could say that today was a low-sugar success, but I cannot. Tonight I had a team dinner, which was pita chips and hummus, salad, and homemade pizza. Plus funfetti cupcakes and peanut butter frosted brownies. A) I’m totally stuffed. B) I think I’ve reached my trans fat quota for the rest of my life with those cupcakes. C) Halfway through the brownie I realized, I can’t eat this frosting, I’m allergic to nuts! 

Which leads me to the next topic of interest: my nut allergy. I basically cut out nuts for 2 days (today is my 3rd), minus a walnut chocolate ship cookie last night. I woke up this morning, looked in the mirror, and was shocked. This is the best my skin has been in like 8 months! I definitely have a nut allergy. How crazy is that? 

Ok, back to the topic of the post. In Dr. Robert Lustig’s book, Fat Chance, he really talks about the importance of eating real food in terms of our health, especially in relation to the obesity epidemic. He defines real food similar to Michael Pollan, in that it is “food your grandmother would recognize.” He believes that one of the biggest reasons for our nation’s health problems is the removal of fiber and the addition of sugar in all our foods. He describes fiber as nature’s “antidote” to sugar. This book really made me think about my own eating habits. Let’s be honest. My eating definitely hasn’t been as healthy since coming to college. Maybe it is because there aren’t great options, or maybe it’s because I just get so bored with everything. Navigating healthy eating can be super difficult. I know I really shouldn’t complain about our dining halls because they’re way better than most, but I just don’t like the food here. Which makes it really hard for any meal to be satisfying. To eat a healthy meal in my local dining hall, I have basically one option. Grilled chicken. Greens. Oil/vinegar. Brown rice or beans/lentil. Every. Single. Meal. I feel like I’m definitely not getting enough variety in my vegetables and fruits (melon and bananas…yayyy) especially in terms of nutrients. And I do love my smoothies, but they don’t keep me satisfied for as long as something solid, and the insoluble fiber in the fruit is broken up in the blender. 

That was not intended to be a rant. What I’m trying to get at is the importance of real, whole foods in maintaining health. Waffles are not a whole food. And I’ve been loving my waffles lately….

This isn’t simply intended to be me complaining about my eating habits. I want to encourage everyone to think about this as well! Not only in terms of themselves, but in terms of others who may be suffering as a result of the typical American diet. I know a lot of you other healthy living bloggers out there know about the importance of real food, but we have to take some responsibility for those who don’t and are the victim of the Supermarket diet. As a blogger, I feel it is part of my duty to try and help anyone I can! All this is just something I feel so passionately about! 

Have a great week everyone! I can’t wait to roll myself into weights tomorrow for weigh-ins. Whoops. 

What do you feel is a blogger’s duty?