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Great News on the Healthy Chicks Front: The Books Have Arrived!

24 Dec

Happy Christmas Eve all! Besides the fact that this Christmas season has already brought me much joy  (a boy I’m dating whom I kinda sorta really like, wonderful family reunions, SNOW, sisterly chats, more SNOW, and tasty eats, it’s also brought me a very special package that arrived just in time. What is this mystery package, you ask? Why, it was a big, big cardboard box filled with 25 of my very own “Healthy Chicks in the Kitchen” recipe books. 

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been working on these recipe books for some time now – from writing the intro and table of contents to coming up with fun titles and descriptions of each recipe. Oh, and I’ve also been busy cooking…gotta test ’em out, right?

Anyway, they finally came in the mail late Wednesday night, and after my mom and I ripped open the package, stared at the front cover, and flipped through the book (multiple times), I think it was safe to say I was oozing with happiness. I couldn’t – and still can’t – believe that I designed these babies all by myself, I came up with every single recipe in the book (all 64) and I was on the front cover. Me. With my full name. WOW. Now that’s a good feeling you can’t just get from anything. 

Naturally, my mom wanted to take some to work to sell for her daughter (she owns a pretty sweet hair salon), so she laid them out nicely in a big pretty basket with tissue paper to take with her to work yesterday. I signed them of course so they’d have that personal touch… What I didn’t realize was that by the time I came to visit her yesterday evening, she would have already sold SEVEN of them. How neat? Seven people have my recipe book on their kitchen counters as we speak. I’m getting chills just thinking about it. 

Well, just thought I’d give you a little update on the Healthy Chick front before things get crazy with the family/the food/the presents/and the additional food. Happy holidays to all. I wish you all a warm, healthy, happy, merry Christmas : ) 

XoXo,
Rachel

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Personal Records are the Best Kind of Records

20 Dec

[Morgan & I pre-race]

Confession: I take my personal records very seriously (in all parts of life), so much that I nearly knocked down ten Santa Clauses and a few men in Speedos to beat mine at yesterday’s Jingle Bell 5K Run. I had my arms flailing, my legs moving faster than ever and I think I even boxed out a few Santas (oops). According to the timer on my iPod, I beat my PR of a previous 27:11 with a record-breaking 27:05. However, according to the online race results, I got 27:15, but I’m going to trust my iPod and celebrate anyway. If I had a clear pathway at the end (sans reindeer, Santas and fat men in Speedos), I totally could have broke 27 minutes. That’s all I’m sayin’. I was on a roll, baby!

But whether my time was 27:05 or 27:15, I am more than proud of myself. I am also ecstatic for my best friend who completed her first ever 5K! She hasn’t ran 3 miles straight in ages, yet finished the entire race like a champ just a little over 30 minutes. (Good job Morgs!) You see, her goal was simply to finish the race and that she did…beating a good 3,000 people or so too. If that’s not breaking a PR, I don’t know what is.

But, back to the point. I’ve never been an extremely competitive person. I don’t really care for gambling and I’ve never cried after a rec basketball loss. However when it comes to me and my personal achievements, that’s when I get competitive. That’s how it should be, after all. Who cares if your roommate ran the race in half your time? Why get down if your friend from college was offered a great job (and a raise) within one year after college? Why let someone else’s success completely break you down? If you think about you and you only, other people’s success won’t get to you. Be proud for them, and move on with it. They are them and you are you. Nothing else matters, really.

After all, there’s nothing quite like the feeling  of knowing that you did it, that you reallllly did it. Whether that’s completing a 5K at record-breaking time, signing up for your first marathon, going after your dream job or pushing yourself to do yoga twice a week or aiming to be a better mother/friend/girlfriend, that’s completely up to you. But the fact that you did it all by yourself is the most rewarding thing there is in life.


Friday Recap: 4 Things I Learned This Week

10 Dec

[source]

TGIF fellow Healthy Chicks! You’ve finally made it to Friday, and can officially enjoy the week being over. However, instead of celebrating the weekend, I’m going to do a little recap on this week as I’ve learned a lot these past few days…

# 1. Fake Christmas Trees Just Don’t Cut it (And Never Will): The other day I witnessed my first real Christmas tree of the season. I walked into my friend’s apartment and the second I stepped foot inside I could just smell it, fresh pine needles mixed with Christmas that is. I immediately felt warm and happy inside. You see, since we live in a teeny tiny apartment, we decided to settle with decorating our fake palm tree with ornaments and a little tinsel. While it looks pretty, it’s simply not the same. I will never understand fake Christmas trees, and you can ensure I will never have one once I can afford my own place. I already have a whole box of ornaments stored away for when I finally have my first tree (my mom gives my sister and I a few each year for Christmas)!

#2 A Restaurant Serving of Pad Thai will Last You Three Meals: The other night, I went out for Thai and of course ordered my absolute favorite dish: Pad Thai. Some of you may be squirming in your seats because obviously Pad Thai isn’t the healthiest dish – it sometimes comes in at a whopping 900+ calories. However, that’s no need to deprive yourself of a dish you love! Get what you truly want, eat until you’re satisfied and then take the rest home. Let me tell you, I ate my little heart out the night I went out to eat, and still had enough for TWO additional meals- yes, two! Restaurant servings can be far too large for the typical Healthy Chick, but you don’t have to fear them. Just doggie bag them (hehe).

#3 Don’t Overdo it When You’re Sick: I felt a cold coming on a few days ago, but tried to be Super Woman with an “I can do anything” attitude. I did Core Fusion (hey, gotta tone the butt), I hung out with The Boy (all day, oops), I went out for a nice dinner, I ran around like a mad woman trying to finish my Christmas shopping, I drank coffee when I knew it would further dehydrate me, I stayed up late (watching movies and reading blogs), I vigorously cleaned the entire house…I simply didn’t stop. Today it finally hit me and it hit me hard. That’s why I’m currently wrapped up in a blanket on the couch with my laptop and The Apprentice on DVR. Enough is enough. 

#4 Coconut Oil is a Miracle Oil: Ever since I used a heaping scoop of coconut oil in my gluten free cupcakes a few weeks ago, I’ve seen this oil everywhere. In fact, one of my Twitter followers @meagher_erin sent me some Kelapo Coconut Oil to sample. I never realized how much you can do with this stuff! It’s good for your skin (works like a moisturizer), can help with digestion (add some in your next cookies, or even thai rice dish), and can even smooth your hair-move over, expensive conditioners! Honestly, how many oils can you eat, rub onto your skin and put in your hair – that actually smell good. Not many!

How has your week been? What did you take out of your week…learn anything new? 


7 Healthy Ways to Get into the Holiday Spirit (& Burn Some Cals)

9 Dec

The other day, I went to the Prudential Center to tackle some Christmas shopping. When I came out with nothing but some makeup for myself and a couple trinkets for my family, I was a little bummed. Of course, I was happy with my new Sephora goodies, but for all the efforts I went through in the mall, you’d think I’d at least get to cross off half of my Christmas list. Yes, I said efforts…my trip to the mall was more of a workout than a shopping spree. From dodging moms with strollers to running around like a mad woman (I was sweating after just 20 minutes of shopping), my annual Christmas shopping felt like 60 minutes on the treadmill. “Welp, guess I don’t have to work out today,” I said joking to a friend. But really, maybe I was right. With a little research and a little help from Health Discovery’s calorie calculator, I learned that many of our holiday activities are actually burning lotsa calories. So what I’m sayin’ is if you’ve been slaving away in the kitchen all day baking double-fudge brownies, skip that cardio and do a little butt toning instead ; ). Alas, here are 7 ways to burn the cals* big-time this holiday season, while having a bangin’ time while you’re at it! 

*all calculations are for an average, 150-pound woman 

1. Lend your hubby a hand with the snow shoveling for once. He’ll appreciate it so much & then you have an excuse to down some hot cocoa after when your hands are numb. > 30 min, 216 calories burned 

2. Veg out with a holiday classic like Elf, Love Actually, The Holiday or The Grinch. We even burn calories resting, ladies! >90 minutes, 102 calories* burned (*Note, our bodies are always burning – even when doing nothing – so each additional activity only burns MORE! Neat, huh?)

3. Clean the house for this weekend’s holiday shindig. Blast Christmas tunes & light wintery candles to make the time fly by faster. >60 minutes, 252 calories burned 

4. Grab your best friend, bundle up in your cutest holiday gear, and go ice-skating > 45 minutes, 378 calories burned 

5. Brace the streets or the mall for your annual holiday shopping spree. Warning, wear layers so you can take them off as the time goes by…it gets HOT in there! > 2 hours of moderate walking, 576 calories burned 

6. Head North & hit up the slopes for a skip trip with the entire family! There’s nothing that gets me in the holiday spirits than a good ol’ escape to the mountains! >2 hours downhill skiing, 864 calories burned (cross-country comes in at a whopping 1,152!) 

7. Let’s Get it on…to Christmas tunes, under the mistletoe or by the Christmas tree, perhaps? >45 minutes, 81 calories burned (and that’s at a moderate level, ladies!) 

Happy holidays all! 

The Secret (To Getting What You Want in Life)

7 Dec

So a few years ago, I was roaming through some old books in my grandma’s church “Rummage Sale” and came across a book that caught my attention: The Secret“The Secret. The Secret to what?” I thought to myself as I read the inside cover. The book quickly intrigued me, so I bought it. Heck, I’ll buy anything at a bargained price, but there was something about this book that got me. 

I must say, to this day, I’ve never read a book quite like The Secret. To sum it up, it basically tells you that you can have anything you want in life (yes, anything) as long as you believe it’s yours…and I mean,really believe it. That’s the “secret” after all to changing every aspect in your life to lead to ultimate happiness. 

At first, I thought the book was kind of a whole bunch of bologna. HA. I can just want something so bad and I’ll have it? Yeah right. If that’s the case I’d be in a relationship with a bangin’ body and a phenomenal job. [negative, doubtful talk]

But when I let myself open up to the idea that this philosophy may actually work, I started tobelieve…and boy did I start seeing some changes. After I read the book from front to back in one sitting, I decided to make a “visionary board,” something they talk about in the book. Basically, it’s a drawing of everything you want in your life: a new house, a new job, a new boyfriend, etc. etc. So I made a list. Mind you, this was a few years ago, but I drew everything I wanted at the time. I started off with a stick figure of myself in running shoes (I used to hate running) and wrote “lose 5 pounds.” I then drew a picture of a book and wrote “Healthy Chicks.” Mind you, at this time I didn’t even have a health blog [I actually had a relationships blog], never mind the visions of ever writing a book in the near future. I also drew a picture of myself at a desk and wrote “job,” among some other minor things that I don’t even recall. 

Anywho, within a couple of months, everything I had written down had become reality. I got a job (no, it wasn’t my dream job but I got a job and could finally move out of the house to Boston), I got an apartment with my best friend, I started my own blog “Healthy Chicks,” and eventually wrote my own cookbook “Healthy Chicks in the Kitchen.” Oh, and I now run at least 3 times a week (I started slowly) and the weight easily came off, I think mostly due to me being happy and content with myself.  

You see, the book isn’t magic in any way. It just teaches you to change your thought process so you think in a more positive, optimistic, “I can do anything I want” sort of way. Be a little cocky at times. Dream bigger than you ever thought you could dream. And go out and get what you want, girl!

A couple of weeks ago, I made another visionary board for 2011. I won’t share what’s on it yet…that’s a secret (hehe). But I will tell you, some things are already starting to come true. Funny how life works sometimes, huh? 

Did you read the book “The Secret?” If so, what did you think of it? Did you ever make a visionary board? 


Spice Up Your Kitchen (& Your Taste buds)

2 Dec

Yesterday, my roommate came home from a long day at work, and asked me to the usual question, “What should I have for dinner?” As I listed off a bunch of foods, she continued to say she either didn’t have the ingredients or was simply sick of that concoction. After all, she always sticks with the same exact thing: sweet potato with salad, pasta with toast or a turkey burger. After a long day of work, it’s hard to get creative in the kitchen; I hear you. I too sometimes find myself getting into the routine of eating the same exact thing every day…simply because it works. Eggs or oatmeal for breakfast, big salad for lunch, chicken and veggies for dinner. While it’s easy to get caught up in a comfortable routine in the kitchen, it’s way more fun to spice it up. And with the right tips, you can spice up your fridge and pantry pain-free! 

Try At Least One New Item Every Week: The other day, I bought spaghetti squash (something I never buy) to make “Spaghetti & Meatballs.” It was so refreshing to enjoy an out-of-the-norm, nutritious meal for a change, and it came out absolutely delicious. So trade up your pasta for some Spaghetti Squash, buy avocados for your salad if you usually go with tomatoes, try a new flavor of hummus (like spicy chipotle) or pick up a box of brown rice to experiment with. Purchase something you can’t pronounce (or have never even heard of) and give it a try. It can’t hurt, right? 

Prep Meals Ahead of Time: Of course you settle for a bowl of cereal or boring old pasta for dinner when you’re starving, and the last thing you want to do is create a feast. But if you prep meals during the weekend (or the night before) you can freeze them so they’ll be ready to eat in a jiff. I love freezing Turkey Chili, pre-made turkey burgers, chicken cutlets, rice dishes and even the pierogies my grandma just made for me. Simply place your pre-made meal in the fridge the morning you want to eat it, and it’ll be ready for you to eat when you get home from work! 

Spice it up (Literally): Play with spices and herbs to give any ordinary meal a kick. Snazz up your boring pasta with some basil, oregano and parmesan cheese. Add a kick to your morning omelet with cayenne pepper, chili powder or even a scoop of fresh salsa. Play with cumin, turmeric and red pepper flakes in your veggie and rice dishes. The possibilities are endless! Good news is most spices cost around $2 so you can grab a bunch and have them ready for any kind of meal. 

Make Your Own Creations: Quite frankly, I’ve never been a fan of “following the rules,” and same holds true in the kitchen. Recipes are great as a guide, but take them as just that. If you’re missing a few of the ingredients, substitute in what you have! If you don’t feel like buying 1,000 new sauces just for one freakin’ recipe, make something up. The kitchen is your place to be creative and let your inner-chef shine. I love the combo of mayo and mustard on my salmon, but didn’t want to load on a bunch of cals so I substituted the mayo with plain nonfat greek yogurt. Who knew it tasted just as good? If a recipe calls for walnuts, I’ll use slivered almonds or sunflower seeds. If I’m all out of broccoli, I’ll use spinach or asparagus. Play with what you’ve got and I can assure you you’ll have much more fun in the kitchen.

Plan Special Meals: Of course we can’t eat glorious, home-cooked meals every day, or I honestly probably wouldn’t be able to afford my electric bill. But, special, extravagant meals are exciting, so save them for a special time. Maybe every Sunday you and your roommates can cook together, and whip up something fabulous? Or take turns cooking for each other once a week. My roommate and I are planning on making Eggplant Parmesan this weekend, something I haven’t had in a looong time. Decide on something ahead of time so you have something delicious to look forward to!

Beat that Negativity With Happy Thoughts

30 Nov

[my dog Sunny…how can he NOT make you smile?]

I woke up this morning feeling gooooooood. You know, just one of those mornings you wake up on the right side of the bed, and you just know it’s going to be a good day. Naturally, I hopped out of bed and made my favorite breakfast (an egg white veggie omelet with feta cheese, side of toast and coffee…lots of coffee). Then I headed to my office (ahem, room) for some tweeting, blogging and article writing. It was only fitting to blast some Christmas tunes as well to go with my joyous mood. 

Then my mood was quickly taken down…about ten notches. For some reason, everyone I’ve talked to so far today were being Negative Nacys to the max. Complaining, being grouchy, being bitter, being mean. At first, I let it get to me and began to feel bad/guilty/sad/frustrated too then I realized I am my own person and am not going to let other people’s moods effect my own. So today I am dedicating this post to “happy” things to hopefully help brush off all that negativity, and make you smile. Life is far too short not to… 

Things that Make me Happy (and hopefully YOU too):

-long, hot showers on a cold, cold day

-fuzzy slippers, socks and blankets especially Christmas-themed ones

-homemade soup, particularly a huge bowl of my mom’s homemade chicken noodle

-chocolate (fudge, covered-strawberries, whipped cream-yes, it exists!, hot cocoa)

-My iTunes Christmas playlist that I have on replay

-Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

-happy, positive people 

-family gatherings with lots of food, drinks & laughter

-finding the good in every situation

-Victoria’s Secret Warm & Cozy PINK lotion 

-kissing in the rain or the snow

-cuddling by the fireplace

-cuddling in general

-my dog Sunny 

-true love stories & asking old couples how they met 

-watching sodes of Sex & the City for hours and hours

-Christmas movies i.e. Love Actually, Elf and The Holiday

What makes you smile? How do you wash away unwanted negativity? 

Tame Holiday Stress the Healthy Way

29 Nov

[don’t be a Grinch!]

As I’m sitting here in my cozy apartment with a “Warm Baked Apple” candle lit listening to Christmas tunes, I couldn’t agree more with Andy Williams when he said, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” I’m absolutely obsessed with the season, and kind of turn into an overly happy, overly energized, overly joyous Santa’s elf around this time. I’m one of those girls who wants to listen to Christmas music 24/7, decorate the apartment with snowflakes and pretty tinsel, and glitter-ize everything! 

So I guess I don’t understand that when I go to the mall I see so many grinches out there. Mothers screaming at their children, people fighting with sales clerks and billions of people walking around with the most scary looks on their faces. What gives? It’s the holiday season, after all! SMILE! But I get it…I really do. While the holiday season brings lots of joy to many, it can also be quite stressful. After a trip to the mall, it’s very tempting to want to pound a few spiked ciders or vodka on the rocks. But let me tell you: that’s not the answer. 

That’s why I went out and asked my friends (Twitter & real life) how they handle holiday stress, and many people got back to me with some great answers that don’t include screaming at your husband or punching a hole through the wall. So I’ve taken what other people have said to me and thought up a few ideas of my own to help YOU handle holiday stress this year…and make it through the season alive. 

Sip On Tea Throughout the Day: Seriously, never doubt the power a cup of tea can do for your stress levels and inner balance. Head on over to your local supermarket or specialty tea & coffee shop and pick up some caffeine-free teas of choice. I love chamomile, peppermint and ginger this time of year, but the flavors are endless! Oh, and tea is calorie-free so you can enjoy it absolutely guilt-free all day, every day if you so wish.

Make Lists: You’d laugh if you saw how many lists I make, but there is a reason to it. And that is they help me organize my days and my life in general. I make all kinds of lists from goals & dreams to groceries and to-do lists. They are all over my apartment, so that I can visually see what it is I need to get done. Make lists for upcoming events, items you need for the sweater you’re knitting, who’s left to buy presents for, and the ingredients for that new recipe you’ve been dying to try for your best friend’s holiday party. Trust me: lists solve all problems.

Fake It: Even if you’ve had the most stressful day ever, fake a smile and move on with it. After all, smiles are contagious, so smile and smile big. It’s so much more difficult (and much more effort) to be angry and mean to someone. If the line is long or the new coffeepot you purchased doesn’t work, take a deep breath and don’t yell at the cashier. She didn’t do anything to you, so don’t bring her good mood down in the dumps too! Instead, realize it’s not worth it to sweat over the little itty-bitty things in life. Instead, move on with it and you’ll be much happier in the long run! 

Make Your Own Gifts: If the mall stresses you out, make your own gifts to save time and money. Homemade gifts are also more special and will be a lot more fun to put together. Get creative this year with your gifts, even if you just design your own holiday cards. I’m planning on making homemade corn bags (heating pads) for my friends, and also printing a few more copies of my recipe book to give away to friends and family for the holidays. You also can’t go wrong with anything involving pictures, liquor or yummy food! 

Get Your Rest: Don’t stay up all night long to get things done. Our bodies and minds need a rest, and you need to give your body what it deserves. So even if you have to save some stuff for the morning or sacrifice your late-night TV watching, it’ll be worth it when you wake up bright ‘n’ energized. Hey, us women need our beauty sleep after all.

Get Away: Sometimes it can be stressful when you get wrapped up in your daily routine. So go on a mini vacay even if you just take a day trip to go ice skating or wine tasting. Little things like this get us through the holidays easy and breezy. I’m taking a four-day road trip to Florida in a couple weeks with a pit stop to Disney World and couldn’t be more excited! I urge you to do the same…even if it’s just a mini getaway. Anything helps. 

What do you do to cope with holiday stress? Any suggestions and ideas to add? 

5-Year High School Reunion, Oh My!

27 Nov

[me (second on the left) at a friend’s high school grad party-guess a lot has changed]

So tonight I am going to my 5-year high school reunion and I have absolutely no idea what to expect. I feel like many of my friends still keep and touch (at least the ones I want to keep in touch with) and that’s who I’ll be carpooling with on the way there. However, I still have no idea what will come of it. While five years does seem like kind of a long time, I feel like nothing has changed, really.

I’m still the same old me, and nothing that drastic has happened in my life worth sharing. It’s not like I chopped off all my hair, gained 50 pounds, had a baby or got married (although I’m sure there will be some of those). But then when I really do think about it, I guess I did change a lot…for the better.

-I gained a boatload of confidence in who I am and what I see myself as.

-I went through four years of college and made some of the best friends I’ll ever have there.

-I studied abroad in Italy and really got a sense of their culture, habits & brilliant lifestyle. 

-I went through my “crazy” phase in college and then learned to find balance & consistency in my life.

-I moved to Boston after graduation and learned to be more independent. 

-I dabbled in the workplace and learned what it’s like to work in an office job.

-I realized office jobs aren’t really for me, and took a leap to pursue my career as a writer. 

-I learned to love wearing jeans, instead of loathing them for making my thighs look fat.

-I died my hair back to its natural brown, and said goodbye to my former blonde self.

-I dated a few guys, or at least went on a few dates. 

-I went to New Zealand and jumped out of a plane.

-I lost a little weight and learned to be more comfortable in my body & with my eating habits 

-I learned to love running, yoga & Core Fusion. 

-I self-published an 80-paged recipe book, “Healthy Chicks in the Kitchen.”

-I experienced loss and heartbreak for the first time when I lost my grandmother and then later that year my great-aunt.

-I learned to appreciate exotic foods like sushi, hummus, Thai & tofu.

-I became obsessed with cooking…all kinds of cooking.

When looking at all of that, I realize I did do a lot in the past five years, and maybe a lot really has changed. Even though I don’t look like a completely different person, a lot has changed on the inside as I’ve learned so much about myself these past years. 

So I guess I am excited to see what five years has done to all my other former classmates, whether it’s for the better or the worse – a brilliant job or a balding head. I will keep you posted on how this evening goes. 

In the meantime, I challenge you to make a  list on things that have changed over the past 2, 5, 10+ years. I think you’ll really surprise yourself when you realize how much you’ve grown up. 


Have a Non-Guilty Post-Thanksgiving Day

26 Nov

[my sister and I dressed up as Santa’s elves for the Turkey trot]

Welp, Happy Day-After-Thanksgiving everyone! Hope you all had a wonderful day with your family and friends, and stuffed yourself as much as I did. I have to say the one thing I love most about Thanksgiving (other than being surrounded with my family for the entire day) is enjoying food I only get to eat once a year. Some of my favorites include my aunt Terry’s broccoli casserole (so cheesy & savory), my dad’s turkey (always perfectly moist & flavorful) and the assortment of desserts (think: massive chocolate chip cookies, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, and pumpkin pie galore). Food as good as this only comes by once a year, so you bet your healthy butt I am going to indulge, and indulge I did. 

So don’t you dare feel guilty about eating a pound of mashed potatoes, three servings of grandma’s stuffing and one too many pieces of apple pie. Don’t feel ashamed if you had to unzip your jeans before dinner was over (I wore leggings to avoid that) or change into sweatpants while guests were still over (totally did that). It’s Thanksgiving and it’s one freakin’ day of not eating perfectly, so eat it up- literally. 

If you’re like me, you eat healthy, nutritious and clean 98% of the time, so you deserve a little wiggle room for days such as this. Along with Thanksgiving comes birthdays, terrible breakups, Christmas, summer BBQs, and bad days. It’s healthy and normal to eat a little bit unhealthy or non-perfect at times. We are only human after all! So save the guilt and go out and shop your little heart away this Black Friday – you’ll burn calories and find something else to feel guilty about (i.e. those $200 pair of shoes). But either way, you deserve it!

What were your favorite indulgences yesterday? 

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