Easy + Effective Health Hacks

I haven’t done a post about health and wellness since my Whole 30 experience, and a lot’s changed in my routine since then. I generally try to adhere to the 80-20 rule now, where 80 percent of my diet is clean, whole foods and 20 percent is more splurge-y items. Healthy weekday habits help get me to that 80 percent mark, and then I most definitely go balls to the wall on the weekends.

Speaking of the weekend: Last weekend was CMA Fest, a wonderful and exhausting four days of country music concerts, lots of walking, lots of beer, and little sleep. To kick off the weekend, my brother was in town for a night on his was to Bonnaroo, and I thought it would be a good idea to show him and his friend downtown Nashville (that place with a hundred honkytonks and live music and late nights where I also spent the following four days). So, when I said I “generally adhere to the 80-20 rule,” last week did not count whatsoever. I pretty much lived on Michelob Ultra for those several days, and I am feeling it now.

So, a good sit-down about health could not come at a better time, since I really, really need some of that in my life ASAP. Prior to Beer Fest 2017 — or, I mean CMA Fest — I had started incorporating several new wellness tricks into my weekly routine. Many of them come from blogger/everything goals extraordinaire Lauryn Evarts of The Skinny Confidential. (Do I mention her in every blog post? It feels like I mention her in every blog post. Again, because GOALS.)

Most of them are easy and only require a quick trip to the Internet wonderland that is Amazon. These hacks mostly revolve around food and diet habits, but I also strive to get a few weight-lifting workouts, yoga classes, and jogs in throughout the week to balance everything out. Here are my most recent favorites.

1. Put it in a smoothie. I recently bought a blender, and it has changed my entire (breakfast) world. Pretty much every day, I’ll throw a banana, a handful of frozen mango, a cup of spinach/kale OR a half avocado (something for greens), some coconut milk, a spoonful of peanut butter, a quarter cup of raw oats, chia seeds, and a scoop of collagen powder into my Ninja.

I used to make eggs and toast or Greek yogurt with fruit and granola every morning, but I love these smoothies now as an everyday thing because I can kick off the morning with just about everything I need– protein, complex carbs, fiber, good fats — and I can drink them on the go. You can put almost anything in there (I’ve seen people put charcoal powder in them for hangovers, among other supplements), and I love these travel glasses and these reusable straws from, you already know it, Amazon.

2. Speaking of collagen, this one from Vital Proteins has been a savior for my skin. I have had breakouts since I was in high school; they were horrific back then, and although they’ve tamed some since, they would still pop up on a weekly basis. Even though I care way less about what someone might think of a zit on my chin than I used to, it’s still annoying. But, I swear, since eating collagen every day, it has almost completely cleared up any acne and reduced some of my scarring. It also reduces joint pain; strengthens nails, hair, and teeth; boosts metabolism and muscle mass; is anti-aging; and improves liver and cardiovascular health. It’s magic. You can also mix it into your coffee or tea if you’re not a smoothie person, too.

3. Suck it up (literally) and drink your ACV. A shot of apple cider vinegar is worse than a shot of whiskey, and I will not take a shot of whiskey — EVER. ACV is absolutely revolting, but it’s so, so good for you that I’ve been forcing myself to down it almost every day. I’ve heard you can mix it with honey, water, and a little lemon juice, which I did the first time I tried it and still dry-heaved. So, now, I have to mix it with a pure, no-sugar-added fruit juice and some water to be able to stand it. There’s a good beet-strawberry juice from Trader Joe’s that I’ve been loving as a mixer.

Apple cider vinegar, no matter my love-hate relationship with it, has so many health benefits: It helps with acid reflux, lowers blood pressure, aids weight loss, clears skin, helps with stomach issues, boosts energy, helps control blood sugar, and way more. Tip: Even if you can stand it, don’t drink it plain because the acidity by itself is so strong that it’s bad for your teeth and throat.

4. Take your vitamins. Ever since I overdosed on biotin when I was a sophomore in college and woke up covered in giant, burning hives (good times, good times), I haven’t been able to find a women’s multivitamin with a low enough dose of biotin/B vitamins that doesn’t make me feel itchy. (Side note on that: taking three times the suggested amount on the bottle, in fact, does NOT make your hair, skin, and nails three times better, to my dismay. Instead, it can create an allergic reaction to the buildup of biotin in your body, leaving you at an urgent care getting a steroid so you can go to class not looking like a diseased freak the next day. Fun fact!)

I guess I’m extra sensitive to that vitamin since then, but I recently started taking Vitafusion gummies, which don’t make me itchy or hive-y but get me all the good stuff. Score. I also started taking a probiotic, which helps with gut health, and a joint supplement that I found at Trader Joe’s, which has gelatin in it to promote joint strength. As a former dancer in high school who hyperextended my hips and knees on a way-too-regular of a basis, I’ve noticed I already get hip and lower back pain. I don’t want it to worsen over the years, so a joint supplement is the way to go. (Plus, gelatin is also good for skin and hair, too, so double-win!)

Let me know if you already do any of these or have different, simple tips to incorporate in my week. I’m all about adding fast and effective tricks to my routine!

This post was not sponsored by Amazon, but I sure wish it was. Yo, Amazon, wanna work together?

Whole Lotta Whole30: Results + Overview

Last week, I finished Whole30, the nutritional program where you give up dairy, grains, added sugar, preservatives, legumes, and alcohol for 30 days. I didn’t think I’d make it, to be totally transparent, and while I did have one intentional mishap (of course I had to drink a beer at a Dierks Bentley concert, c’mon), I’m proud of myself for making it completely through a diet-cleanse for the first time.

And the last time.

Turns out, I was already kinda healthy and balanced before doing Whole30, but it took going through the program to fully understand that, so I am grateful to have experienced it. I’ve always joked that, because I workout so often but love good food and a glass of wine with dinner, if I ever stopped eating junk and ate healthy for a long period of time, I’d probably turn into a twig.

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Whole30 Ramblings + Meal Plan

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Tomorrow marks the first day of what may very well be the 30 most difficult days of my life. Dramatic? Perhaps. Probably true? Most likely.

I start the Whole30 challenge tomorrow with my boyfriend, John. (It took about three days of begging him to do it with me before he caved. Misery loves company.) It was his idea to start on a day that would coordinate our timing to wrap up the program on a Thursday, so we can then indulge in the foods we’ve missed starting on a Friday, the weekend. Sometimes it’s nice dating such a smartypants. So, that’s why we’re starting on January 4 instead of the 1st, like a lot of other people.

Apparently this program has been around for years, but I only heard about it for the first time a few weeks ago. My boss was talking about how she wanted to do it to cleanse out holiday goodies, and my initial thought when she told me the details of it was that she must be crazy.

And then came the holidays. And the bread, and the cookies, and the ice cream, and the wine, and the enchiladas, and the casseroles, and the cheese and crackers. Suddenly, a cleanse didn’t sound so bad after all. Like I’ve talked about before, I’m not big on jumping on board with health trends — I think a lot of them promise more than they result, and some can be unhealthy physically and mentally.

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Easy DIY Christmas Gift for Anyone & Everyone

*Note: If you’re my grandparents, mom, or siblings, you might want to skip this post to avoid ruining your Christmas presents. Merry and happy!*

I’m usually one to go ALL OUT for Christmas gifts. Like, break the bank, in-debt myself to Visa, and practically sell my soul to get the very BEST gifts for people… You know, in true Christmas spirit. Really, though, I genuinely love and get so much joy from getting personalized, interesting gifts for each of my family members and friends, and nothing makes me happier than watching someone I love open something they’re crazy about. However, as discussed in a post about BUDGETING a few weeks ago, I no longer have limitless funds (aka credit cards) to spend willy-nilly for the sake of holly and jolly.

So, this year, I had to get a little creative.

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