Zoella: A YouTuber Teaching Us That Moderation Is Best

For those who know me best, you know I love watching YouTube. It’s my entertainment of choice, and while I have shouted out a few wonderful YouTubers that I love in previous posts, I recently came across one that made such an impact on me I had to dedicate a whole blog post to her and the lessons I’ve learned through her.

I first heard of Zoella years ago, and while I would watch her videos here and there, I was not a loyal fan. That all changed about a month ago when I went on a Zoella, or MoreZoella (her vlog channel) marathon.

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I was bored of the YouTube videos in my subscriptions box and just wanted a change. I also wanted to watch something that would make me happy, and what is happier than Vlogmas?

For those who don’t know, Vlogmas is when YouTubers vlog (video log) every day leading up until Christmas, from December 1st until December 24th or 25th. Granted, I was watching this in September… I know, it might seem like I was getting way ahead of myself, but honestly, people are in the best moods during Christmas time, so I just wanted to watch happy and cheery content.

I watched Zoella’s Vlogmas 2016 and then decided to binge on Vlogmas 2015 as well, and once you’ve watched nearly 50 videos of someone carrying out their daily life, it’s almost like you know them, or at least have a good idea of who they are.

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I must say, watching Zoella’s vlogs (MoreZoella) was and still is so refreshing. I was getting tired of YouTube lifestyle blogger because it was all the same thing, “Morning Routine,” “Night Routine,” “Fall Morning Routine,” “How I Lost Weight,” “What I Eat In A Day.” While those titles and videos are all fine and good, YouTube has simply been oversaturated with those kinds of videos. How many routines do you need? Why do you have a Monday night routine?

Also, it seemed as though every YouTuber has created a weight loss video, not because they were actually documenting their own journey, but because it’s trendy. The worst part is that you’d watch the video and they’d be like, “So, I ate a grape for breakfast and a blueberry for dinner, I basically skipped lunch, and I lost five pounds!”

I wish I were joking.

Then there are the YouTubers who have the best intentions of being healthy but ultimately come off as hypochondriacs or product pushers. They’ll tell you about the bone broth they bought and the 30 vitamins they’re taking, as well as their avocado toast on sprouted bread that they have with their lemon water and apple cider vinegar short every morning, oh, can’t forget the green juice, and the borderline addiction to Soul Cycle.

I’m not doing this to make fun of many YouTube creators I watch, but I’m doing this to paint the picture of what many of us (I hope) already see. This isn’t realistic. In my opinion, health or trying to be healthy shouldn’t be something to obsess over. Instead, I think it’s something that we should all be moving toward every day will small steps that actually fit into the fabric and daily schedules of our lives.

Don’t have time to make avocado toast every morning, or simply don’t have an avocado? Oatmeal, fruit, or maybe even a breakfast bar will do. It doesn’t even have to be the super popular RX ones. (No shade to RX, I love them too!)

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Don’t want to pay $30 for a Soul Cycle spin class or a gym membership? A PopSugar workout video on YouTube or a run around your neighborhood will do.

Want to eat pizza or skip a day of workouts? That’s fine too.

Basically, do what works for you. There shouldn’t be pressure to be a certain image of healthy or to follow in the footsteps of the influencers you watch because healthy takes many forms.

It’s like YouTube lifestyle vloggers have turned into that one fitness Instagrammer that you like, but whenever you see their pictures, you start to feel like crap about yourself.

With all of that said, many of you might be wondering why I mentioned Zoella. Well, in the overly health conscious YouTube space, it’s nice to see a YouTuber who just lives her life as she pleases with no extreme emphasis on being healthy.

You can find Zoella ordering pizza in 1 out of every 4 Vlogmas vlogs you watch and Wagamamas a few times as well. While that is not groundbreaking content, it’s just not something you see on YouTube much more.

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It seems like Zoella simply wants to be happy, and enjoy life despite the societal pressure to eat a certain way and live a certain lifestyle. She doesn’t work out often, the food she can’t live without is pizza, and yet she is still healthy and thriving.

So maybe this is a little reminder to everyone that yes, being healthy is great, but everything is done best in moderation, even the healthiest of things.

If you want the piece of cake, eat the piece of cake and don’t feel sorry about it. If you want to workout, go workout but make sure you’re doing it for you.

If you want to live a healthy lifestyle but feel it doesn’t live up to what everyone else is saying a healthy lifestyle should look like, remember health, like many other things, is personal. Do what you’re comfortable with, improve at your pace, and make sure whatever you decided, you are doing it because that is truly what you want to do, not what society, or in this case Youtube, told you to do.

You can find Zoella here:

YouTube Channels: Main Channel & Vlog Channel

Blog: Zoella

Instagram: @Zoella

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If you liked this post, please be sure to share it on social media and subscribe to my blog so that you never miss a post.

Until next time, get up, get moving, and live your best life!

 

Through My Eyes: Goose Island

Hello, everyone! I hope this post finds you in good spirits! If you follow me on Snapchat (@kidsyd_44) you may have seen a few, well maybe more than a few, snaps of me at a Goose Island event a few weeks back. If it looked like I was having fun, I was! But before I tell you all about the event, you might be interested to know how I got there. Well no worries, I’m covering all that and more with pictures, snapchats, and a video in this blog post.


How I Got There

One day I was watching one of my favorite YouTubers, Erik Conover, and he mentioned that he was partnered up with Goose Island for their Road to the Harvest event. He said that there was a contest going on, and all we, as his subscribers, had to do was Instagram a picture of our latest adventure and include a few hashtags for a chance to win a trip to the event as well. The incentives were the free trip of course, and the opportunity to meet him.

Having recently come back from Ireland (if you’re curious about that trip you can read about it here) I had plenty of adventure pics, some of which had already made their way onto Instagram. So with a few clips and an edited caption, I submitted my photo.

 

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The winning photo!

 

Weeks went by, and I thought nothing of it. I mean, I never win these things… I never even enter them. But sure enough, I got an email saying that I had won! 😲 Yup, you read it right. I won! Confused and excited I read through the contract and quickly accepted my offer. The best part was that I could bring a friend. Well, to make a long story short, everyone I asked who I thought might be interested in luxury camping and beer had other plans. So once again, I was faced with the dilemma, to go by myself or not to go at all.

I think we all know which one I chose. 😉

So with that said, on August 18th I packed my bags, got on a plane (2 planes) and found myself on a bus from Spokane, Washington to Bonners Ferry, Idaho for Goose Island’s Road to the Harvest!


What is Road to the Harvest?

I’m sure you’re wondering what this event was all about. Road to the Harvest is an event focused on the harvesting of Goose Island’s hops for the following year’s brews. This event celebrates the harvest by bringing contest winners, influences, and distributors together to learn more about Goose Island beer, how the hops are harvested and to celebrate.

But this can only take place in one location, Bonners Farry, Idaho, where the Goose Island hops are grown. Now I don’t expect you to know exactly where that is, but it is extremely far north. We were 10 miles away from the Canadian border, and lucky for me, the bus I was on to get to Elk Mountain Farms overshot the destination by exactly 10 miles allowing me to see the Canadian border. 🙌🏾

 

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I saw the Canadian border!!
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I missed the other “Welcome to Idaho” sign from Washington so I got the one close to the Canadian border.


Camping? No, Glamping!!

I like nature, but I wouldn’t say I’m a camping kind of girl. I’m the girl who wants to go on a hike, but also wants to sleep in her own bed that night. But glamping definitely changed my perspective! Now, I know glamping is exactly what is says… glamerous camping, and this would be unrealistic in many other normal, non-contest winner circumstances, but I made the most of my glamp. Honestly, I think I slept better there than I do at home, and despite it getting cold at night, the blankets and comforter were superb.

It was what I would imagine VIP camping at Coachella to be like!

Not pictured (or snapchatted) were the luxury showers and bathrooms. They were in trailers so at first I didn’t expect much, but again, I was pleasently surpised.


The Ultimate Dining Experience!

One of the major draws to Road to the Harvest is the opportunity to have a meal prepared by an iron chef served in the middle of a hops field. It was as amazing as it sounds people! For those of you Bravo Iron Chef fanatics, I was fortunate enough to have a meal prepared by Stephanie Izard. 😱 For those who don’t know, she is best known for being the first female chef to win Top Chef.

Residing in Chicago, she has three restaurants, The Girl and The Goat, Little Goat, and Duck Duck Goat, which are all to die for, especially for you foodies out there. But considering I haven’t had a proper visit to Chicago yet, I’m glad I was given this amazing opportunity to dine with food prepared by her outside of the Windy City.

 

Now, she prepared the meal the first night I arrived and it truly was amzing. But every other meal we were given at the farm was prapred and served by renowned chefs as well. To say the least, I did not go hungry. I walked away from every meal stuffed!


Learning About Hops

If you can recall from my Ireland blog post, I don’t really drink beer. That little taste of Guinness at the Guinness Storehouse was my introduction to beer, and it didn’t go over too well. Since then, I hadn’t tried any other beers. But while in Rome (or Elk Mountain Farms) you do as the Romans do. I’m happy to say, this time around I liked it so much more. I enjoyed it more because…

  1. It tastes WAY better than Guinness.
  2. I got a first-hand look into how the beer was made.

  

I, along with everyone in the group, examined the hops in the fields, watched them get picked, witnessed the drying process, and finally saw them get packed away to be turned into beer as we know it. To say the least, I had, and still have, more respect for what actually goes into making Goose Island beer. Gaining that perspective made the beer taste that much better in my opinion.


🙌🏾 The Entertainment🙌🏾

With everything I had experienced already, I truly felt spoiled, but the surprises didn’t stop there. During our down time, Goose Island had a hot air balloon come on the property to take event goers for a ride. Again, I couldn’t believe it. 😱 Taking a ride in a hot air balloon had been on my bucket list for quite some time, and while the ride was short, I’m still proud to check it off my bucket list.

Fun Fact: I’m afraid of heights, so that was really a stretch for me. 😬

Also, Wilco, the band, hosted a private concert for us in the hops field. While I had never listened to their music before, I really liked them! They honestly performed like they were in front of a crowd of thousands when in reality there were probably under 300 people there.

What I found most entertaining during their concert was one of their guitarists, Nels Cline. He was so into the performance! See snapchats below.👇🏾😂

   
There you have it, folks! My time at Elk Mountain Farms with Goose Island in a nut shell. If the snapchats and pictures weren’t enough, I made a mini video of what it was like to be at the event through my eyes. Check it out!

Oh, and as a side note, I did get a chance to meet the YouTuber who made this all possible for me, Erik Conover. He is an awesome guy and just like he seems in his video, down to earth. If you don’t know who he is, check out his YouTube channel. He makes awesome travel content, so if you have an affinity for wanderlust, you’ll love his stuff.

Erik, if you’re reading this, thank you!

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If you liked this blog, please be sure to share it on social media and subscribe so that you never miss a post.

Until next time, get up, get moving, and live your best life!

My Favorite Health & Wellness Podcasts

Hello, everyone and welcome to the fifth and final day of Wellness Week on my blog. If you’re just now joining us for Wellness Week and don’t even know what it is, this past week I have been posting blogs focusing on nutrition, health, and overall wellness every day, Monday through Friday at 8am EST. If you missed a day along the way, here is a list and links to the blogs from Monday through Thursday.

Monday  – My Thoughts On “What The Health”

Tuesday – Get Fit With DeanFit

Wednesday – Maddie’s Market: One Stop Shop for Natural Skin and Body Care

Thursday – App Appreciation: Headspace

For this final day, I want to leave you guys with a few resources to continue exploring health and wellness on your own. These are resources that I frequently use, usually every day, as constant reminders that I should be striving towards healthy living.


Podcasts

My love for podcasts have grown within the last year, but more importantly within the last month. During this time I have found three podcasts that I listen to that truly inspire healthy living. Here they are…

The Party In my Plants Podcast

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Talia Pollock, the host of this podcast, is incredible! She brings so much energy to her podcasts and makes you want to listen to what she and her guests have to say. Her motto is, “[She] makes healthy living as fun as a party so that you’ll, ya know, actually want to do it, and then actually feel, look and live your best.”

While many of her shows are about nutrition, her podcasts truly do encompass all things healthy living. She has interviewed the creator and founder of Genexa, an organic medicine company (yes, you read that right, organic medicine), as well as the creator of Franklin & Whitman, a company that creates all natural, paraben free skin care. These are just two among many other people, author, nutritionists, etc. that have made appearances on her show.

By listening to her podcast, you open yourself up to a wealth of knowledge delivered in a fun and interesting way. I promise you won’t get bored; I know I don’t!

The Model Health Show

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The Model Health Show is an excellent podcast run by Sean Stevenson, a fitness and nutrition expert, who dedicates he’s podcast to all things health and exercise related. He truly comes to this podcast from a genuine place of wanting to help people. I will not give his whole story away because I think it’s worth listening to him tell it, but Sean was able to fully rebuild his body from an extremely fragile state through changes in his health, nutrition, and lifestyle.

If anything, he is an inspiration, showing that you can start from the bottom and work your way towards optimum health through daily habits and progress. With over 235 shows on his podcast, you will find at least one podcast that resonates with you and will have ample opportunity to learn new things related to health and wellness.

The Essential Oil Revolution

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This podcast covers a topic I am passionate about but also, one which I do not have the most knowledge. Hosted by Samantha Lee Wright, you will have access to information about the miracles of essential oils. As you know, I did not dedicate a whole post to essential oils during this Wellness Week because I feel that I have so much more to learn about them before I can share my thoughts with you. But one thing I will say is that essential oils are extremely powerful and can make a big difference in your health and wellness.

Often, people brush essential oils off as another health craze on the market, and I don’t blame them. I was the same way. But after doing my research, they truly are remarkable, and I highly recommend you take time to listen to this podcast, as well as seek out your knowledge of how these oils can help you.

In short, essential oils are like nature’s medicine at your finger tips. While at times, Western medicine is necessary, I think we rely too much on it day-to-day. Many of our illnesses can be prevented just by using what the earth has given to us, not hard pharmaceutical medicine. Essential oils are from oils of the plants they are derived. So if you genuinely care about what you eat, how you exercise, and ultimately, what you put on your body, then I think learning more about essential oils can be the next step to amping up your health and wellness game. There will be a full post dedicated to these oils in the future, but for now, I highly recommend the Essential Oil Revolution podcast.

While I could give you many more resources to check out, I think these are a great place to start, and they are easy to access. Whether on iTunes or Stitcher, they are completely free and at your fingertips. Also, they are podcasts, so you can listen to them wherever, whenever, and while multitasking. No need to solely dedicate a part of your day to learn this information. You can fit it into your life however it works best for you.


Wellness Week Wrap-Up

I have to say, I have had so much fun creating these blog posts focused on health and wellness because that truly is a passion of mine. I hope they’ve been informative and have pushed you to evaluate what small changes you can make to your life to live a happier, healthier and more fulfilled one.

If you liked this blog post or any of the ones shared this week during Wellness Week, please be sure to share them on social media. Also, comment down below our favorite post, and any suggestions on topics or themed weeks you’d like me to write about in the future.

Finally, if you want to go the extra mile, subscribe to my blog so that you never miss a post. As always, great content is coming up ahead, and I don’t want you to miss it. Thanks so much for reading!

Until next time, get up, get moving, and live your best life!

My Thoughts on “What The Health”

Hey, guys! It’s wellness week on my blog, so that means five straight days of blog content focused on health, nutrition, and overall wellness. Blog posts will be up every day, Monday through Friday, at 8am EST. I hope you can stick around and as always, please leave feedback! Now onto your regularly scheduled blog post….

As someone who truly loves health, wellness, exercising and eating healthy when I heard the buzz about the Netflix documentary What The Health, I was quite excited. I thought, “Finally, much of America, and possibly the world, was taking an interest in what interests me,” and ultimately what can change each and everyone’s life for the better. Then I actually watched the documentary, and to say the least, I wasn’t impressed. Here’s why….

Truly, I am waiting for the film that promotes balance, not an exclusion of food groups.

As someone whose guilty pleasure is watching Netflix health related documentaries, I’ve seen it all: Hungry For Change, Fed Up, Cowspiracy, Super Size Me, Forks Over Knives, Sugar Coated, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, the list goes on.

While not every film is the same or has the same message, many of them demonize different food group. But this is not to say they are completely in the wrong for this. In some cases it’s justified, for example, sugar is toxic, animal products aren’t the best, the world would definitely be a much more sustainable place if we were all vegan, etc. But in most cases, the films don’t give practical ways to make these changes to our diets, and therefore, they actually aren’t as helpful to our health as we think.

After watching health films it’s not uncommon to feel inspired to make dietary changes. I actually hope you do. But I also hope that you continue to educate yourself on what is best for your body and do not take every documentary at face value.


I think it’s safe to say that America’s food and drug industries are slowly killing us all, but there are ways to set yourself up for nutritional success despite their shady marketing.

  1. You can avoid refined and processed foods.
  2. You can eat fewer, or no, animal products.
  3. You can establish a plant based diet.

DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A NUTRITIONIST. I AM NOT CERTIFIED. THESE ARE SIMPLY MY HUMBLE OPINIONS.

A personal example of not continuing to research after watching these health documentaries is when I decided to go vegan without having the knowledge of what might be suitable for a healthy vegan diet. How this came about was, I had gone on a health documentary binge/marathon and at the end decided that going vegan was best for my health. The next day I cut all animal products out of my diet and felt pretty accomplished. But what I didn’t do was better understand the difference between a healthy vegan and an unhealthy one.

Just because you stop eating animal products doesn’t make you healthy. It’s about what you are still eating even after you take those products out. For example, Oreos are vegan, but are they healthy? No.

Now, I didn’t go around munching on Oreos all day, but I also didn’t make plants the base of my diet. I relied heavily on processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and very little on my leafy greens. Once I began to realize that my body wasn’t responding well to this new lifestyle change, I was confused.

“But I’m vegan,” I said. “I should be super healthy.”

If only the documentaries I had watched told me what to substitute my animal based products for maybe then I would have been better prepared. Or what if I did my own research before making the leap? Then that diet/lifestyle change would have lasted longer.

Again, not all documentaries are created equal. I actually would highly recommend Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, as a must watch because it does a great job of establishing the importance of plants in your diet over what should not be in your diet.

With that said, this is a good segway into the main point of my post. No matter what your diet, lifestyle change, or whatever you want to call it, we can all stand to eat more fruits and veggies. If you truly pay attention, that is what most diets are tiring to tell people get people anyway. That’s why fruits and veggies for weight watchers are nearly no points, and every diet, or almost every diet, has suggested you incorporate them into every meal.

But even the best of us fall short. On average we should all be getting between 7-13 servings of fruits and veggies each day and for athletes, even more. Now I don’t know about you but I definitely don’t get that every day, even on my best days, so I supplement with a product called Juice Plus.

Disclaimer: This is not an excuse to not eat your fruits and veggies, it simply fills in the gaps.

In a world where everyone is attempting to sell us supplements to mask our nutrient deficient diets, Juice Plus isn’t a supplement. It is whole food nutrition in capsule form and helps to bridge the gap between the nutrients you are actually consuming versus what you should be getting.

Recently, I have transitioned into a plant based diet (I still consume animal products but very little) and have been taking Juice Plus for roughly a year now. My health has improved tremendously and I just thought I’d share what’s been working for me with you. If Juice Plus interests you at all or you would like more information on it, shoot me an email at sydumeri@gmail.com. I’d love to tell you more!


So with all of this said, while What The Health, didn’t inspire me as much as it did others, I am extremely happy that it has sparked a conversation about nutrition and health across America, and could possibly be the catalyst for major changes in the lives of many. But what I will say is I hope you all continue to do your research on health, nutrition and what works best for you. For some, a vegan diet is what’s best, but for others, they might like eating Paleo based or being strictly vegetarian. Whatever floats your boat, I’m glad you’re taking the time to explore the possibilities. Just make sure you focus first on what’s never going out of style, fruits, and veggies.

If you liked this blog post, be sure to share it on social media and subscribe to my blog so that you never miss a post.

Until next time, get up, get moving, and live your best life.

 

Healthy Super Bowl Snacks

The time has arrived once again! You know what I mean. The best commercials of the year are about to air, Lady Gaga is about to do her thang on stage, oh yeah, and a little football too. Yes, I’m talking about the Super Bowl! Go Falcons!!

It’s a big night; you’re probably going to have friends over or are going to a friend’s house to watch the game. More importantly, you’re probably going to be hungry. While pizza, wings, and other foods will be present, be sure that a few healthy options are available as well. Your new year’s resolution to eat healthy doesn’t have to go out the door just because of this Falcons vs. Patriots match-up. With that said, here are some healthy and yummy options to put on your snack table this Super Bowl Sunday!


Yogurt Filled Raspberries

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Doesn’t that sound great? Well, unless you’re allergic to raspberries of course, and if so, just ignore this one.

Ingredients/Supplies:

  • Raspberries
  • Yogurt
  • Gallon freezer bag
  • Scissors

Buy a pack or two of fresh raspberries, a tub of your favorite yogurt (Noosa and Siggi’s are really great brands), and a gallon freezer bag. On the day of, wash the raspberries, towel-dry them, and place them on a plate, baking sheet or flat surface.

Spoon your yogurt of choice into the gallon freezer bag. Close the bag and use scissors to snip a small opening to one of the bottom corners of the freezer bag. Be careful not to cut off a big piece because you want to use the bag as a yogurt applicator, similar to how frosting applicators allow for detailed cake decorating.

From there take each raspberry and use your yogurt applicator to squeeze the yogurt into the raspberry hollow. Place the filled raspberries on your serving plate and put them in the freezer or refrigerator depending on how much time you have. You want this snacks to be cold but not frozen when you serve them. They’re really delicious and healthy snacks to munch on!


Sweet and Salty Chickpeas

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I love kettle corn but sometimes it’s too much sugar, and if you can’t get your hands on the Boom Chicka Pop’s sweet and salty popcorn, or even if you can, this is a great alternative.

Ingredients/Supplies:

  • 2-3 cans of garbanzo beans/chickpeas
  • Pink Himalayan salt (any salt will do)
  • Brown sugar
  • Baking sheet
  • Non-stick spray

Open your cans of chickpeas, rinse them off, and let them sit spread out on a paper towel until dry. The key to this is that they must be dry to ensure the best results. When dry, preheat your oven to 425 degrees, lightly grease a baking sheet, and pop the chickpeas in the oven. Let the chickpeas roast for 10 minutes then remove the baking sheet from the oven and shake the chickpeas around. Return the baking sheet with the chickpeas to the oven for 10 more minutes of roasting.

While roasting for the second time, combine two parts brown sugar to one part salt in a bowl. Remove the chickpeas from the oven and sprinkle the mixture on them. Be sure to shake the pan around to ensure maximum coverage. Then return the chickpeas to the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until they are brown and crunchy. After, let the chickpeas cool and place them in the bowl you plan to serve them in. These are definitely a hit, and the best part is they have more protein than popcorn!


Apple Cinnamon Crisps

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An apple a day keeps the doctor away, so why not make the apple taste even better?

Ingredients/Supplies:

  • 8 apples
  • Cinnamon
  • Brown Sugar
  • Baking sheet(s)
  • Non-stick spray

Cut your apples into thin 1/8th thick slices. You don’t have to be exact, but the closer you can get to that measurement, the better. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees and in a bowl mix the apple slices with brown sugar and cinnamon. Of course, the less sugar you use, the healthier the snack will be. Spray a baking sheet(s) and place the apple on there without allowing them to overlap. Let the apples bake for 2-3 hours until dry and soft. After, let them cool completely and then serve. They’re yummy and definitely a hit at any event.

So whether you’re into football or just want to watch the halftime show and the commercials, you won’t go hungry with these snacks. I’m sure they’ll be a hit no matter where or with whom you plan to watch. So kick back, relax and cheer on your favorite team (the Falcons) to a Super Bowl 51 victory!

“Sugar is toxic.” Is that too intense?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve watched many health and food related documentaries that focus on sugar and how it affects our bodies. After watching, That Sugar Film, Forks Over Knives, and Fed Up, I found a few re-occurring messages that I think are worth sharing.

Not All Calories Are Created Equal

I feel that we were all taught to count calories because somewhere down the road someone lied to us. Yes, calories are forms of energy and if you eat more energy than you use, you will gain weight. But what they didn’t tell you is that not all calories are created equal. A calorie of sugar and a calorie of protein do not act the same in your body. It’s about the quality of the calorie. This was shown in That Sugar Film when Damon Gameau conducts an experiment on himself and what happens when he consumes a high sugar diet. The catch is that his “high sugar diet” does not consist of eating direct sugars like ice cream, candy bars, etc. Instead, he eats what is marketed in supermarkets as “healthy”. He eats the “healthy” energy bar, the typical store bought cereal, a glass of orange juice in the morning, the list goes on. But even with his emphasis on “healthy” foods, he consumes 40 grams of sugar each day. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but what is even more alarming is that the typical American consumes more than 40 grams of sugar a day. To put things in perspective, one serving of Honey Nut Cheerios, 3/4ths a cup, contains roughly two and a half teaspoons of sugar. Now I don’t know about you, but I definitely eat more than one serving of Cheerios at a time. So, when you think about it, how much sugar are you eating at breakfast alone?

Sugar Code Names

Agave, high fructose corn syrup, sugar cane, cane crystal, anhydrous dextrose… I could go on, but yes, those are all names for sugar. If I saw anhydrous dextrose on a food label I wouldn’t know what that is, and that’s exactly what the food industry wants. They don’t want you to know about the sugar you’re consuming because if you do, you might stop eating those products. Sugar is addicting, so the more they can pack into each product and the less you know, the more likely you are to continually buy those products. My biggest advice here is to do your research before buying. But if all else fails, abide by this rule, “If you can’t pronounce the words on the label or don’t know what it is, then don’t eat it.”

Low Fat = High Sugar

Do you remember when “low fat” was a huge craze in grocery stores? To some extent it still is, but I was probably in elementary or middle school when I saw this big change take place. People were afraid of fat because that was supposedly what was making America fat and causing so many diseases. Well, that was all a lie. Fat in foods is not the leading cause of health diseases or what is making America obese, it’s sugar. Now don’t get me wrong, too much of anything is bad for you, so too many fatty foods can’t be good for your health. But if you read the advertising label on any product that says “low fat” and then check the sugar content on the nutrition label, that number tells you all you need to know.

For “low fat” foods to taste good, companies add sugar. But when simple sugars are in your body they break down into two forms, glucose and fructose. Glucose can be used to feed your cells, but generally speaking, our bodies don’t know what to do with fructose. Long story short, and skipping the scientific jargon, fructose turns into fat, which can lead to plaque buildup and visceral fat. If you didn’t know, visceral fat is the fat that is stored around your abdomen and surrounds a number of important organs, compromising their health and functionality. On the other hand, plaque buildup thickens and stiffens your artery walls, slowing blood flow through your veins and is the leading cause of cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is also the leading killer in the world. So maybe the statement “Sugar is toxic” isn’t too intense, it’s accurate. Just remember when a label says “low fat” it means “high sugar” which actually means “high fat”. Crazy right!

The Bliss Point

It’s that perfect combination of salt, sugar, and fat that has you coming back for more. It’s called the bliss point and almost all packaged and processed foods have one. You know when you open a pack of your favorite guilty pleasure and you can’t stop eating it. Well, the bliss point is in effect. At that moment, what you are eating is the perfect amount of sweet, salty, richness that triggers a reward in your brain making you want to come back for more, even after the point of satiation. This happens because dopamine is released in your brain. The bliss point can be a dangerous thing for our health and waistlines, but the food industry won’t tell you that.

Thanks to the food industry, we have gotten away from eating real food. Instead, we eat food-like products that leave us hungrier than ever before. We eat more, but are still starving; we’re over fed and under nourished. It is truly on us to be educated consumers of what we buy and eat. Do your research, learn about your health, and go with your gut (no pun intended). I’m not saying cut out sugar altogether, because I sure won’t, but keep in mind that there are so many hidden sugars out there. Just be mindful.

If’s it’s processed, it’s definitely not as “healthy” as the marketing on the label makes it seem. But also, know that the food industry, just like many other things is a business. Many of the companies that fund the research on the foods you know and love don’t want you to know the truth about their products. This is the reason why there have not been any conclusive study about how bad sugar is for our bodies. Sugar is money, and the food industry and companies can’t afford a negative conclusion on it so the verdict on sugar will remain inconclusive.

With that said, remember you have the power to vote with your dollar. If you don’t buy their products and can educate other people on the reality of sugar in those products causing them to change their consumption habits as well, in due time those companies will be forced to change. But in the meantime, remember to care about your health and do your research. You owe it to yourself!

Define Health?

I’m a college athlete, so it’s safe to say that my fitness routine is cut out for me. Between lifting 2-4 times a week, having 2-3 hour practices every day, and of course game days, I think I get my fair share of exercise. But health is 80% what you eat and 20% the physical activity you do. That means I cannot get away with eating anything and everything under the sun with the assumption that I will burn it off during my next workout.

First of all, it’s important to realize how amazing our bodies are. They can heal and grow all by themselves and are capable of things we cannot even imagine. More importantly, our bodies are temples and we must fuel them in the best ways possible. Just as you can’t put regular gas in a Camaro and expect it to run like the champion car it is, the same goes for your bodies. Food is not solely consumed for pleasure, but because it gives our bodies energy, allowing us to concur our daily tasks whatever they might be.

At the beginning of each year, gyms are packed. Everyone is convinced that they are going to start leading healthier lifestyles. I am definitely in support of those decisions, but my purpose for writing this post is to convince people that health is more than the time you spend at the gym. Health should be looked at from a nutritional perspective first, not solely through physical fitness. Here are some tips to critique your nutrition habits before killing yourself during your next workout session.

Food journal

First, let’s look at what you’re actually eating. Are you getting enough protein? Is every meal you eat heavy on carbs? These are all things you should know because you cannot out work bad nutrition. One way to find out this information is to keep a food journal. I know, that is not the most appealing suggestion, but it keeps you honest and can be an eye-opening experience. You’ll begin to realize that you’re having a couple too many rolls at restaurants or that you can afford to cut back on the desserts throughout the week.

Portion sizing

Too much of anything is a bad thing. I like pasta as much as the next guy, but when you realize how much one standard serving of pasta is compared to what is put on your plate at restaurants or even at home, you will begin to realize where the extra calories come into play. As a general rule, you can never have enough green vegetables, but that’s about it. Everything else should be watched closely and should be consumed in moderation.

Talk to a nutritionist

As a student athlete, I am fortunate to have access to our sports nutritionist, but a few things I have realized is that you are worth the investment, your health is important, and you don’t have to go it alone. For the last few years you’ve been trying to embark on this journey to a healthier lifestyle and for some reason, you keep hitting the same road bumps. Don’t be afraid to seek help from an expert or to invest money in your own health. If results, guidance, and accountability are what you are after, seeking the help of an expert is a great route to take.

Be diligent

Change is hard. When you go from eating large portions to smaller ones, it is an adjustment. When you make an effort to go to the gym five times a week instead of two, that’s an adjustment. When you’ve been consistent for two weeks and have seen no immediate progress, that’s an adjustment. Stay the course! Visible changes and gratification are around the corner. Don’t look at the scale too often and wonder why you haven’t lost 20lbs in one week. Remember…

  1. Muscle weighs more than fat.
  2. Anything worth having is worth waiting/working for.
  3. Instant gratification doesn’t always yield long-term progress.
  4. One miss step does not mean your journey to a better lifestyle has to end.

Roll with the punches and keep going. Your journey to health is just that, a journey, not a destination.

How do you plan on attacking your nutrition and moving towards a healthier lifestyle in 2017?