Monday, October 20, 2014

A Tiny Home Thanks

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A year and a half ago, we had just moved out of our apartment that we lived in and called home for two years, it was the first place of our own but had become terribly infested with roaches which we took as a sign to move on. Brandon had also just quit his life-consuming job and we decided to move back into my dad’s house to regroup. We were figuring out what our next move would be when all of the sudden, my step-brother, Joe died. For those that don't know much about him, he was my age and was in school. I had basically grown up with him, first as a family friend and then as a brother. He was brilliantly intelligent and was one of those people that was always cracking jokes. It didn’t matter what you said, he could turn around in a split second with a hilarious comeback that had everyone smiling and laughing. So when he passed, it was a shock and it was devastating to everyone.

About a week after he died, a group of us went to the Pharmm for an emotional healing class, I figured it was just what I needed, and I was right. I remember, the day leading up to that, I was so anxious and fidgety. But as always, the moment I stepped into the pharmm, an immediate calm washed over me, I was surrounded by some of the most healing, and beautiful beings I could be with, I was exactly where I needed to be in this infinitely accepting and supportive environment where no one was telling me what to do or what to feel, I could just open my heart and be what I needed to be. I had had this dream of the tiny home for a while, I think I had mentioned it to my parents and they kind of brushed it off, thinking it was just another one of my crazy dreams. But at this class, I remember thinking so much of this tiny home dream, it just kept popping up in my head and I kept feeling this urge to pursue it.  

One of the most important things I took away from Joe’s death is that life is short and I didn’t want to waste any moment of it. That night, through all of the emotional healing I learned to let go, let go of expectations, let go of the sadness I was holding onto, to let go of the meaningless chatter in my head, let go of all paths that everyone had already laid out for me, and to let go of all the fears that were holding me back. I learned to trust in and listen to my heart. Now, most of all, I knew that I needed to follow my heart to lead me to where I needed to be.

I remember sitting alone with Brandon at the end of all of the healing, looking into his beautiful blue eyes, and I had this huge weight on my heart. Finally, I blurted out, “We need to build the tiny home” And to my surprise he just replied “I know”. And it felt a lot like the moment years ago that I finally told him that I loved him or that I was pregnant, it was something we both knew in our hearts that we needed to do and we committed to it together, knowing it would change our life forever but in a big beautiful way. And in that moment, we surrendered to what our heart was guiding us to. It was so scary guys, terrifying actually but somehow we knew it would all turn out ok. Or you know, even better than ok. 

So we started planning and setting the gears in motion. It was a big undertaking but I think one of the greatest aids to us was that we knew we wouldn’t be alone. We knew we would receive the help that we needed, when we needed it. We put our trust and faith in the universe to make this dream happen for us. And that’s where our community comes in! From the beginning, we knew we wanted to involve our community as much as possible and now that it is complete, we have so many people to thank! So here goes: 

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-First off we want to thank our biggest supporters of all, our parents! I want to thank my dad for his infinite supply of power tools and knowledge, for coming all the way up to where we live and basically doing all of our electrical work for us, and also, for letting me raid his garage for supplies he forgot he even had! I know this crazy tiny home thing wasn’t something he was exactly thrilled about but still he remained supportive and even though he didn’t really have a choice, he has helped us and still helps us immensely throughout this entire tiny home building process. 

-I want to thank my mom and step-dad for their support, for their help watching Eliza, for their building and design advice, for their insulation donation, and for letting me dig through their trash and collect the wood that is now on our floors and ceiling. 

-For Brandon's dad, Patrick, who came out to help us build the tiny home and provide his man power to get this thing going! 

- A huge thanks to our friend, Fabian, for graciously coming out here on his own time and installing our plumbing for us and also, for leading us to some awesome free wood! 

-Jackson and Jordan Fox for their assistance in building the very foundation that our house sits on.

-Jerry and Julie for their generous donation to they tiny home and letting us borrow the table saw that has come in so much handy! 

-Also, to Uncle Jon who is funding our future solar power plans. 

-And thanks to my brother, Jon, and friend/mentor/life coach, Joseph, for coming out and helping us install siding. 

-To Justin for helping us paint! 

-To that guy that lent us the jigsaw thing. 

-To New Living for providing us with non-toxic paint to beautify our home. 

-To Craigslist and all the wonderful people on there from whom we’ve scavenged many of our building materials from. 

-To the neighbors directly across from us and over to the right for lending us supplies as well.

-To any and everyone that has offered us support, motivation, insight, and inspiration. 

-And last but not least, we want to thank Diana who has been the most help to us. For letting us build our house on this land, for letting us partially habitat her house while we build our own, for being so patient with us, for being one of our biggest supporters and motivators, and for just being there when others were not. We would have never gotten this project started if it weren’t for you. You are one of the biggest believers in our vision and we are infinitely grateful for that. Thank you for being a shoulder to cry on when needed, it hasn’t been easy for any of us all of the time but thank you for being there for us 100% of the time.

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This dream wouldn’t have come true without the support of all these beautiful people in our community. Building a house is no piece of cake ya’ll. Sometimes it was a blast, sometimes it was confusing, sometimes it was a down right struggle but we made it out in the end and I am so grateful for everyone that took part in our journey.

It has been a crazy awesome year and a quarter, building this tiny home of ours. And I just want to add that it’s never too late to make your own dreams come true. Because what is the point of your life if you don’t choose to do what you want to do, if you don’t listen to your heart and trust it to guide you to where you need to be. We’ve experienced a lot of death over the past year and a half and it is a constant reminder for us to live life in the present. To live life now. And even though Joe can not be here physically, I believe he has always been here encouraging us and helping us along this journey. So I want to thank him most of all, for being a constant inspiration for us, I know in my heart that he is watching over us and guiding us to bigger and better things each day. 

Thank you all. We did it!!
(updated tiny home tour coming soon!)

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Vegan Hatch Chili Soup

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A lot like taco soup but with an added kick (we love that heat around here) and some extra tomatoes to soup it up a bit. Sometimes I crave tomatoes so you know, I threw in all kinds of them. Plus hatch. Because hatch. 

So this recipe is low fat, low sodium, loaded with veggies, super delicious, and above all easy. This is a great raw till 4 meal and I purposely made a huge batch because 1) we eat a lot and 2) it's nice to cook a big batch one night and have it last for a few extra. But I would put out a word of caution on the canned/jar products, watch the sodium here! I always get organic and low sodium when I have the chance. It makes a difference. 
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Ingredients: 
2 onions 
2 bell peppers
6 hatch chiles 
3 jalapenos 
1 head of garlic (yes, a whole head. I love garlic but feel free to use less if you please) 
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes (I went with fire roasted) 
12 oz. can tomato paste 
2 cans black beans 
36 oz. tomato puree (or sauce)
16 oz. of frozen corn 
1.5 tbs paprika 
4 tbs oregano 
5 tbs cayenne 
2 tbs cumin 
3 tbs chili powder 

Steps: 
1. Sautee onions, bell pepper, hatch, and jalapeno until softened. I just use water to avoid oil. 
2. Add in the garlic and cook for an extra 5 minutes. 
3. Add in the rest of the ingredients. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. 


Sooo simple, right?! 

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Seattle: Part 1

Our last big trip of the summer was to Seattle/Washington for my cousin's wedding. 
It was beautiful and magical and I fell in love. I'd go back in a heartbeat. 
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Airplane parking lot pics. My brother thinks he's a model. And you see my dad in the background? 
He likes to pretend like he knows what's going on. 
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Airplane candy. Caramel is my favorite, my brother knows me. 
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Finally getting to Seattle, met up with my sister (who left from Austin). 
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Then we hopped on a ferry to cross the... bay? To somewhere, I can't recall the name now. 
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We stayed in a hotel right off the water. Of course, as soon as we got there, we were off exploring. This was at low tide so it was a bit mucky. 
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And then we met up with all of our aunts and uncles. This one above is my dad's brother, he looks just like my dad. 
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Sunset
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And here's my dad and his other brother. They're all identical, I swear. 
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And my siblings. I heart them.
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This girl, I tried so hard but I couldn't keep her out of the water. She's a mermaid. 

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Why Diets Don't Work.

I could go on and on about my opinion of dieting but I'll just let the facts do the talking. 


My two cents for anyone that wants to lose weight, get healthy, or both: 

Listen to your body and what it needs, it knows better than you but you have to learn to notice and interpret it's signs. For example, got a sweet tooth? Eat some fruit! Learn to trust your intuition.

Eat healthy foods, change your lifestyle to support your body. Is your body out of whack? Maybe look at what you're putting into it, eh? Put down the junk food. Resist the animal products. Stay away from gluten. We all know these things are bad for you. And don't restrict. I think the video explained that well enough. 

Reduce your toxin intake. So that includes anything that comes in contact with your skin, lungs, or your digestive system. They are called toxins for a reason and don't belong on/in your precious body. 

Exercise consistently. Everyone knows this is an important key to getting healthy but nobody wants to do it. Make it fun. Get a workout buddy! Your body will thank you in the form of endorphins which brings me to my last point:  

Be happy. 


Kind of frustrated with the way people (mostly women) think these days, always complaining but not willing to do the work. They're always looking for the next fad diet or drug that is going to make them miraculously skinny and healthy and happy and perfect. No. Don't make it more complicated than it needs to be. Just be good to your body.

And be fudging patient! It takes a while to heal after any kind of abuse, your body is not excluded from that. Things aren't going to change overnight. This is a fact of life. 



Rant over. 
*deep exhale


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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sam Wish Super Sale!


You heard it! We're having a super sale to get rid of the last of our clothes stock! 
SALE

From here until Friday, October 3rd, all of our clothes are only $5! Yes $5! We've got a few dresses, tops, and skirts left so get them while you still can! 

And on October 3rd, we're officially taking all of our clothes offline and that will be the end of it! On to bigger and better things (: 

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Few Things: Progress Report

So we've got two weeks left until we have to have our tiny home ready to party! We've finished up the kitchen and are moving on to the bathroom next which involves hooking up our water (!!!) and tiling the bathtub. And probably building a toilet though that's not high on my list of priorities. I have a feeling that after we get our water hooked up, I'm probably going to get carried away with having my own working kitchen and forget about the toilet. Although after being able to cook in my own home, I'm sure a toilet is going to become necessary ;) 

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With all the things we've been accomplished lately and with all of the little things coming together in the tiny home, I've been really, really happy. It's been going pretty quick which feels so good, even shocking. Sometimes I'll wake up and just stare down at my kitchen (our latest accomplishment) in disbelief. I always knew I'd have my beautiful, dream home. But now that it's here, it's hard to wrap my head around. 

I wake up so filled. Sometimes I get so happy that tears well up in my eyes. Which is quite different from the tears that came not even a couple of months ago. Things sure have changed and I am ever grateful. I'm so in love with progress right now and have finally started to remember why I am doing all of this in the first place. I can't wait to wrap everything up here and complete this tiny home of ours so I can move onto other things like the business and spending more time with Eliza. I love having free time but with her at school all the time, we don't get as much time together as we used to. And I'd really like to be able to put everything down when she gets home so that I can take advantage of the time she is here. 

My current happiness has also led me to wonder about what happened a few months ago and why. I wrote a lot then and it really helped. Some of it is hard to read for me because inside, I want to just forget the pain. But I think struggle is important sometimes to move on to bigger and better places so I don't want to just cast it off and forget completely. Here is a little part of something I wrote that is one of the few things that make sense: 

I fell so hard that most days I was incapable of picking myself up again. I laid on the floor with my cheek on the ground, ear buds in my ear so that I could attempt to let music soothe my soul and help me to recover while I cried many tears and wondered what was the purpose. 

Now I am better but only slightly, I wander around with this heavy heart that threatens to drag me back down again. Back down to the earth where maybe I belong so that my heart can beat with the rhythm of our mother, so that I may share her pain and remember my purpose, remember why it is that I stand in the first place and fill my heart with a passion for change, a motivation for living, and lead others to a better way of being.


And then yesterday, I came across this quote on Instagram and it really resonated with me and kind of helped me to understand my journey:

source 

What I went through was really hard. I haven't felt that kind of concentrated pain in a really long time. And that kind of place, it's the opposite of the positive, determined space I usually hold which made it all the more difficult. But I knew that things would get better, despite everything I still had hope. 

Something I think about a lot is about how some people never make it out of times like that. Like I talked about in this post, we've had a few people in our community committing suicide and turning their sorrow to madness. And as I think about it, I have to wonder what the difference was? There was a point that I absolutely thought I was going crazy. I remember spending the night with at a friends house, crying and telling him about it and he just held me and told me it was going to be alright. He gave me hope. 

I think a lot of rising out of that kind of space has a lot to do with hope. And having the ability to be grateful. The day I turned everything around was the day I consciously decided to practice gratefulness. For everything. And life has been better ever since. But it wasn't easy, I had to change the thought patterns that had ingrained themselves so deeply in my subconscious. It was always easier to choose the negative path but more worthwhile to work for the positive one. 

So that's that. It's been on my mind a lot lately as I get more and more excited for each day. I am so in love with my house and can't wait to use it to it's fullest! I can't wait to build my life up again and get my business up and running! But really, I'm just excited. And that's such a good feeling. Back to normal (: 

Happy hump day ya'll! I hope your week is as good as mine! 

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cycling & Raw Till 4: Tips For Avoiding Soreness/My Nutrition Routine

*I wrote this about a month ago but never posted, so here it is!
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Yesterday I rode a 45 mile bike ride and I was pretty darn proud of myself! I was shocked though, when I got home, to find that everything but my legs were sore. My lower back was killing me, my wrists and elbow joints were sore from all the jolting of the last portion of my ride, and my jaw was so stiff and painful from... being open so that I could get in enough air during my ride? But by the next day, I was completely fine. And my legs still were not sore, which left me completely baffled. I mean, I guess that's a good thing, I suppose I did a few things right? And I'm definitely getting this biking thing down! 

So I wanted to share my tips for avoiding soreness and share my raw till 4 nutrition routine for biking/working out. It's been interesting, with the whole raw eating thing. I've been having to figure most of this out on my own and experiment a bit to find what works best for me. And because I'm riding pretty long distances, I have to make sure my body gets what it needs nutrition-wise so that I can make this a sustainable hobby.

I did a ton or research and experimenting, here is what I found works best for me:  


Before: 
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-I make sure to load up on lots of good calories/carbs/sugar before hand. This is especially important for morning rides because I've already digested everything from the day before and am left with little to no energy. I usually eat a few bananas (maybe like 4-6) or drink a smoothie. And by smoothie, I mean more like 3 smoothies. My typical smoothie consists of: 

1 cup of spinach
10 dates 
2-3 cups of juice, coconut water, or water 
1 pint of blueberries 
1-2 cups of mixed fruit. 
2-3 scoops of Green Superfood Powder 

That's about 1200 calories and leaves me with tons of energy! And like I said, it usually fills up about 2-3 regular glasses. Also, I like to get in a little bit of protein before which is found in most of these ingredients but especially the dates and powder. 

When I don't have time to make a smoothie though (or I'm feeling particularly lazy), I'll just eat a few bananas. At least 4 to sustain me. These are a really good pre-ride food, here's why: 

"Bananas, “They’re nature’s PowerBar,” boasts Dr. Louise Burke, head of Sports Nutrition at the Australian Institute of Sport and coauthor of The Complete Guide to Food for Sports Performance: Peak Nutrition for Your Sport. Bananas are loaded with digestible carbohydrates (read: fuel) and are packed with potassium, which aids in maintaining nerve and muscle function. The body doesn’t store potassium for very long, so a medium banana before a workout will help keep nutrient levels high." -source

A few other options are watermelon, apples, pineapple, mango, and peaches. 

"Always eat before starting your morning training. Sleeping depletes the liver’s store of glycogen, which is the major store of carbohydrate for blood sugar regulation. When this is reduced, your blood sugar level drops and fatigue sets in, making concentration difficult – particularly disadvantageous if you’re using your training session to learn a new technique. Look for foods high in carbohydrate, low in protein and low in fat" -source

"Generally, for more sensitive gastrointestinal systems and when there is less time to digest them, it is best to eliminate or reduce the consumption of whole grains and higher fiber foods.

Different carbohydrates affect blood glucose differently. Foods with a lower glycemic index, such as whole grains, brown rice and yogurt, cause a slower and more sustained release of blood glucose, while high GI foods like waffles, pancakes and white bread cause a more rapid rise in blood glucose. Some research has suggested that low GI carbohydrate foods are useful before exercise to provide a more sustained carbohydrate release." -source 

Also, another food to consider adding to your nutrition plan is the superfood, chia! 

It is said to:
"Provide energy
Boost strength
Bolster endurance
Level blood sugar
Induce weight loss
Aid intestinal regularity

Chia slows the impact of sugars on the system, if eaten together. Chia gel creates a physical barrierbetween carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down, which slows the conversion of carbs into sugar. That means the energy from the food is released steadily, resulting in more endurance. This is clearly of great benefit to diabetics in particular. It also means that I can combine chia with super-sweet tastes like apple juice and not get super-spiked ;)

Due to the exceptional water-absorption quality of chia, it can help you prolong hydration and retainelectrolytes, especially during exertion." -
source

-Also pre-hydrate, pre-hydrate, pre-hydrate!! I drink at least one glass of water before I even get started with my breakfast. And then I'll drink 1 or 2 more before I ride. This helps to get a head start on my hydration so I'm not dying of thirst while I ride. Which is especially important if you live in hotter climates like Texas. 

-And stretch to start warming those muscles up! 


During: 
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-Keep hydrated! This is easy for me. It's especially hot where I live and I'm always chugging down the water. I always carry 2 large, 25 oz water bottles with me and I almost always finish both of them on my ride. And if I ride over 30 miles, I'll find a water fountain (usually in some random park on my route) to fill them up again. 

-Take a break during to refuel, this is important to me, especially during early morning rides when I don't have a lot in my system to give me energy. I usually stop every 10-15 miles and munch on a homemade energy ball or more bananas. These are sooooo helpful, especially because I tend to go really hard in the beginning of my ride and burn up most of the energy I got from my morning smoothie. I'll have to get up a recipe soon for the energy balls!

"Consuming carbohydrate during rides lasting an hour or longer enables you to ride longer and harder by providing glucose for your muscles when they begin to run out of glycogen (glycogen is stored carbohydrate in the muscle). Thus, energy production can continue at a high rate and endurance is enhanced.

Eddie Coyle, Ph.D. at the University of Texas in Austin, has shown that consuming carbohydrate during exercise at 70 percent of maximal effort can delay fatigue by 30 to 60 minutes. For the best results, try to take in 40 to 80 grams of carbohydrate (160 to 320 carbohydrate calories) every hour of cycling." -
source

I also found this: 

"Recent research has shown that a mixture of glucose and fructose drinks during exercise can improve performance by eight percent when compared to a glucose drink alone. This is a pretty big improvement in performance. To ensure you’re using the best sports drink available, don’t make your choice based on flavour alone – check the label to make sure it contains a mixture of glucose or maltodextrins and fructose." -source

I haven't tried it but I think a datorade on the go would be a great source for glucose and fructose. Especially made with coconut water to provide extra hydration and electrolytes! 


After: 

-Stretch, stretch, stretch! After my 45 mile ride, my back was absolutely killing me. So I immediately got on the floor and started rolling it out. Like curled up in a ball, rocking back and forth. A move I accredit to my years of gymnastic and holy cow, this helped so much. It had been cramped up in the same position of me hunched over my bike for three hours so it was nice to move it around and massage it a little bit. Also, stretching is a nice cool down and just stretching your muscles out helps to keep them from cramping and getting sore. Annnnnd stretching while your muscles are warm is the best way to become more flexible. This is the best time to stretch!! 

-Replenish electrolytes! I think this is pretty well known. Guys, I'm totally wiped out after a big ride like that. I sweat so much that by the time I get home, my face is crusty from all the dry salt on it (tmi?). I know that if I've been sweating like that, I've been dumping tons of electrolytes and if you don't replenish them right away, you'll feel like a total sack of potatoes. I don't drink Gatorade so my favorite source of electrolytes is.... pickles! I already love pickles so this was an easy choice for me. I usually only eat about half of a large pickle. I kind of eat them intuitively. Once they start tasting not so great, that means your body doesn't need any more. And so far, half is about all I can handle. They just have so much salt. However, they help a ton and make me feel immediately better. It's awesome. Something else I want to try out to help with electrolyte replenishing is coconut water! I don't know if I can handle it alone but maybe I'll make some sort of post-workout concoction.  

Here's a little bit about picklessss: 

"So here’s the deal on pickle juice. It’s good for you. Really good. Athletes have been on to it for some time as an alternative to sports drinks. The high mineral content is great for providing the body post work out electrolytes which help ward off muscle cramping. Additionally, the probiotics in the lactic acid fermentation process of pickles will help feed the good guys in our gut. This lends itself to boosting digestive function, and supporting immune health. Raw foodists have known the goods on pickle juice for ages, now it’s time to join the pickle juice party." -source

And if you want some more electrolyte info, read up here

-Hydrate! Your muscle cells need water and you want to make sure that after you are done exercising, that your body has all the water it needs. (This is especially important if you take an epsom salt bath because that will just suck more water out of your body. More on that in a second)

-Carb up and get in some good protein to repair muscles. I immediately eat an energy ball after my pickle. And as far as after that, I'm still working on what works best for me because I was completely exhausted after that last ride. It may have been the not-so-great night of sleep I had the night before but I'm trying to find something nutritious I can eat to completely replenish my energy levels after a strenuous workout like that. I had a chia seed, date, and blueberry smoothie after my ride because it was just about the only thing I had but it didn't quite do the trick to return my energy. Seriously, I was out for the rest of the day, all I could do was lay around. However, it seems that the antioxidants from the blueberries helped with my recovery so that was good? But I felt like I needed something more solid and filling, next time I'll try adding things like orange juice, bananas, and pineapples which are all recommended for post workout eats. Also, I read that it's important to avoid fat because it slows the digestion of carbs and protein your body needs to repair muscles and recover so that's good to know. Oh, and it's best to eat within 30 minutes of your workout, to get your body what it needs to recover! 

Here are a few things I've found to help recover after working out: 

-Eat foods with good protein such as spinach, nuts, hemp seeds, and beans. 
-Also, healthy fats and protein like quinoa and avocado. Rice is also good. 

"Did you know that fruit has protein? It does! Many fruits contain between 4-8% protein and as a significant part of your diet, they provide a significant amount of complete protein. That’s right, fruit is a complete protein with all 8 essential amino acids! On an average day, I’ll get anywhere from 18-22 grams of protein from fruit, which provides almost half of my daily protein requirements.

Non-sweet fruit like tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers also have protein.

Leafy green vegetables are a good source of protein. Two cups of kale has 4 grams while dandelion will have 3 grams. A head of leaf lettuce will provide about 5 grams. Basically, two large bunches of dark leafy greens each day will supply anywhere from 14-20 grams of protein. I eat most of my greens in green smoothies or shredded up in salads.

Spirulina is about 68% protein and also helps detoxify the body. It’s packed with vitamins and contains EFA’s (essential fatty acids).

Chlorella is about 60% protein and is known for it’s rapid tissue repair properties. It’s a great food if you’re very physically active or have higher protein requirements. Use it in your shakes to help speed up recovery times." -source

"Nuts and seeds are good sources of essential fatty acids. As already mentioned, omega 3 and 6 are essential, but omega 9 fatty acids are also important. They help decrease inflammation and enhance recovery. Look to eat a handful of nuts – such as almonds, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, cashews and hazelnuts – and seeds – such as sesame and pumpkin – each day and you’ll recover quicker." -source


-Take a cold epsom salt bath to reduce inflammation and bring down body temp. Then alternate to a hot shower afterwards. It's always good to take a shower after a bath anyways to rinse off the toxins drawn out by the epsom salts. And this alternating between hot and cold helps to increase blood flow to those muscles! I think this was really the key to avoid my soreness. No part of my body was sore at all after my bath and it stayed that way for the rest of the day. Wohoo! 



That's what I've got so far. I'm still experimenting a bit, especially with my post-workout nutrition needs but I'm feeling pretty confidant about the before and during! So I'm going to work on that, as well as look into dinner the night before and how that would affect energy levels and what you should be eating. But it's been fun to learn what kind of foods your body needs and how they affect you at different parts of your workout. And being able to incorporate raw foods and finding these types of necessary nutritional elements from the earth instead of items that were made from a factory is even better! 

Do you guys have any suggestions for me?? I'd love to hear them!! 

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