Life Updates

Whoa! Sorry for my random “fall-off-the-face-of-the-earth” absence; it’s been awhile since I’ve made a post here. I promise I’m still alive!!!

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Life has been fantastic. Busy but fantastic!

I feel like I owe anyone who’s still reading a few updates on the homefront:

WORK: I snagged a part time job at local Vitamin Shoppe and have been LOVING every millisecond of it. My co-workers/managers are awesome, I’m learning a ton about supplementation as well as interacting with people, and I feel so accepted among friends who share similar goals. I wouldn’t trade it for the world! God’s timing is truly perfect.

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SCHOOL: I’m still focusing on going to grad school next fall and have a phone interview next week with the professor I’ve been talking to for the past 6ish months. So excited to hear about the available projects he’s got lined up! 🙂 After taking time off from academics, I’m ready to get back to learning and being a fish geek haha!

HOLIDAY SEASON: Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming….ummmmm WHAT?! I’m in the biggest time warp in the history of ever. I’m just now getting used to the fact I have swap my shorts for pants when I go outdoors. It SNOWED here earlier this week. WTF TEXAS?!?! Also sorta started the Christmas shopping process, but I’ve been a major slacker haha

snow

VOLUNTEERING: There’s a cool wildlife refuge/museum near my neighborhood, so I signed up to volunteer with animal care and special events. I’ve only been able to go once due to my work schedule, but it was cool! I look forward to going when I get more down time.

GYM: Training has been AMAZING. I really feel like I’m becoming more in-tune with my RPE as well as my mind-muscle connection. My mental state is better than it’s been in eons and I couldn’t be more appreciative to my coach for helping work through negative thoughts that occasionally try to creep in my noggin. A lot of those thoughts stem from getting frustrated at myself since it’s been hard putting on weight (I mean heck I’m maintaining on 575g carbs a day). Celiac probably doesn’t help, but I officially have the metabolism of a 9 year old boy. By focusing on my overall progress rather than tiny snapshots from month to month, I’ve been able to keep a lot of negativity at bay. (Sorry for the picture of me in my skivvies). Just gotta keep eating hard, training hard, and resting hard to get to the stage *hopefully* at the end of next year.

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So that’s about it, nothing too crazy exciting. I wish I could say I got abducted by aliens or was a stunt double in a movie or something haha! I’m just eager to get back on the Wanderlust Wednesday train 🙂 I still have some hikes to recap from Arizona, so be on the lookout for new posts soon!

Thanks to anyone who’s still reading! Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving! 🙂

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Wanderlust Wednesday: Turtlehead Peak, Hoover Dam, and Las Vegas

Turtlehead Peak, Hoover Dam, and Las Vegas

March 2014

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Wow this is the first Wanderlust Wednesday I’ve done in eons!!

School has been consuming me a lot lately (hence my extreme lack of posting). Per usual, the semester cranked up to level 20,000 intensity during the final months. But today is “reading day” and I only have one test left before I graduate college (HUZZAH!!), so I thought I’d finally write up a recap of our family trip to Nevada over Spring Break!

We landed in Las Vegas and spent some time touring the city, doing all of the tourist-y stuff like playing slots at Caesar’s palace (I made 10 cents!! haha!), seeing the Bellagio fountains, and checking out the Mandalay Bay aquarium. Let’s just say the city wasn’t my cup of tea. The amount of X-rated porno ads/alcoholics/druggies/smokers circling around every place you turned got very disgusting VERY fast. I’m not used to that kind of atmosphere at all, and wanted to leave after about an hour of exposure.

VegasThankfully, Vegas wasn’t all we had planned.

The majority of our vacation was spent outside of the city; exploring Red Rock Canyon, hiking to Hoover Dam, and taking in some great scenery!

I’ll begin with Turtlehead Peak!

Turtlehead Peak TrailJust some quick stats on the hike itself:

  • Difficult hike with rock scrambling
  • Route climbs about 2,000 feet in 2.15 miles, but the hard part is climbing the 800 vertical-feet in the rocky, gully/chute system that leads to the summit ridge in only 0.4 miles
  • Marked trail signs end after 0.6 miles
  • Summit is 6,285 feet
  • Offers views of the city and all of Red Rock Canyon

The weather was perfect for hiking–cold enough to need a light jacket, but warm enough not to be teeth-chattering cold. The skies were clear, the trail wasn’t busy, and the birds were singing songs that invited us to have an adventure. My dad and I were stoked!

The beginning of the hike was pretty easy, just very gravel-y and rocky, so you constantly had to be looking down to prevent rolling an ankle on the random rocks. I guess it was a blessing in disguise though, since it also made you keep an eye out for snakes.

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After about an hour, we got to the rocky, runoff/chute area, and it started to get steep. Since there was no clear, marked trail at that point, we kind of hopped around, looking for the safest, best route up the mountain. Soon, it got so steep that we had to crawl like monkeys up the big boulders and rocks that littered the landscape. Even though our heavy, water bottle-laden backpacks made it a bit of a challenge, it was SO fun!! I am definitely a fan of rock scrambling.

Eventually, after some pit stops to catch our breath, we made it to the plateau before the final climb up to the summit.

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Once we reached that point, the wind that had been blocked by the peak hit us like a tidal wave! It was cold and extremely gusty, so we had to bundle back up in the layers we’d stripped off during the hike.

Then we finally made it to the top! A random dude from Chicago was up there in shorts and a t-shirt with no backpack or water, so we offered him some agua and he offered to take our picture!

Turtlehead Peak Summit

We didn’t stay at the peak very long because it was so windy and cold, but we still managed to snap physical and mental pictures of the beautiful scenery.

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The way down was dicey at times due to rocks that would avalanche under our boots, but it was definitely easier to see a trail route from sky view. And it was nice to be out of the wind once we rounded the peak’s corner.

Once at a lower elevation, we explored some of the red rocks near the base of the peak. We saw people and dogs hanging out near the top of these tall formations and decided to scale them ourselves. They sure looked a lot harder to climb from the ground, but we were surprised to find out easy it was to climb!

turtlehead peak hiking (7) Red Rock Canyon

After driving around the park for a bit, we got out of the car and roamed around Red Rock Canyon.

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We took a random trail and saw some rock climbers scaling massive vertical walls! It was amazing! It started to get late, so we figured we should head back to our hotel to hang out with mom after her “spa day” 🙂

The next day, my dad and I took an abandoned railroad trail to Hoover Dam!

Here are some stats on that hike:

  • 8 miles round trip
  • Trail follows an old railroad bed high above Lake Mead
  • Runs through five 25-ft-diameter tunnels cut through volcanic ridges
  • Easy, pleasant hike with no major elevation changes
  • Destination is the Hoover Dam visitor’s center

We started out early to beat the sun and boy was the weather perfect again. There were little informational signs that told you about the history of the railroad along the path, beautiful views of Lake Mead, and big volcanic-like rocks everywhere. But my favorite part was definitely the tunnels! They were huge!

tunnel

After walking through the 5 tunnels and a railroad “graveyard,” we finally made it to the Hoover Dam!

It was a lot more massive than I pictured, and it was bustling with a lot of tourists. The Arizona/Nevada line is located on the Dam so my dad and I joked about “walking to another state” haha!

Hoover Dam Hoover Dam Overlook

After exploring, we decided to turn back. It started getting hot by then, but we got to see some neat little lizards and this HUGE iguana dude sunning on a rock!

Hoover Dam hike

Also, a lot of helicopters taking tours over Lake Mead and the Dam flew overhead really low and it was cool to be surprised by them when they’d pop out through a canyon! 🙂

All in all, it was a pretty neat experience! While some aspects of the city scarred me for life, the hiking was awesome! I definitely recommend checking out Red Rock Canyon and all of the hiking opportunities if you’re ever in the Vegas area!

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Chocolate PB and PB Fudge Fat Bombs

Fat bombs.

The initial mental picture of that word combination may be disturbing, but I assure you, there’s no need to flee from this blog post! In fact, fat bombs are far from an exploding pile of lard; they are a delicious, healthy treat!

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So a little background: I find that my body functions best on a “carb backloading” style diet which involves high fat/low carb meals during the early portion of the day and high carb/low fat meals at night in order to refill my glycogen stores for weightlifting the next morning. Usually, I eat the majority of my carbs post workout, dinner, and in my before bed snack, so for lunch, I like to eat a lot of fats and protein.

Looking for some new high fat recipes, I came across the concept of “fat bombs” on a Paleo/Keto diet forum thanks to Pinterest. (What would I do without that site?!) The concept: a low-volume, fat-loaded rocket that can be eaten as a snack or as an addition to a meal in order to hit your daily fat recommendations. Low volume, high in healthy fats, and supposedly taste like fudgy Reese’s cups?! COUNT ME IN!

So I did some experimenting with ingredients and hit the jackpot. My body doesn’t digest fats very well, so when I find something that doesn’t make me lethargic and queasy, I hold onto it for dear life! These fat bombs have been a Godsend. I make them every day and they make a delicious addition to lunch! And another plus? They genuinely taste like FUDGE!!

peanut butter fat bombThese are my two “go-to” fat bombs, but they’re super customizable, so feel free to change around the ingredient amounts to suit your tastebuds! You could try different nut butters, add spices…the possibilities are endless.

Also, I use ghee (clarified butter) in these recipes, but feel free to use regular butter. Since I have dairy issues, I find my digestive system handles ghee much better because all trace amounts of lactose are removed in the clarification process. It’s also a pretty awesome food since it aids in vitamin absorption and is high in butyric acid. To learn more about the health benefits of ghee, you can read here.

Anywho! Prepare yourselves to be converted to the dark side that is Fat Bombs! 😀

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fat Bombs

(keto, gluten free)

fat bomb ingredientsIngredients:

  • 18g Ghee (or butter)
  • 13g 100% cacao unsweetened chocolate
  • 38g Peanut Butter (or any nut butter)
  • 18g Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl.
  2. Nuke in microwave for about 1:30 until you get a melted consistency.
  3. Stir well until no clumps remain.
  4. Pour into silicon cupcake molds and place in freezer for 10-20 minutes or until solid. Keep in fridge or eat immediately!

Makes one serving: 63g fat / 11g carbs/ 10g protein / 5g fiber

(Also, you could keep the peanut butter out and place it into the center of the chocolate mixture after it’s been poured into the silicon cups. That way, you can have a peanut butter center, like a Reese’s!)

chocolate PB fat bombs

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Peanut Butter Fudge Fat Bombs

(keto, gluten free)

PB fat bombsIngredients:

  • 22g Ghee (or butter)
  • 46g Peanut Butter (or any nut butter)
  • 10g Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl.
  2. Nuke in microwave for about 1:30….
  3. …Until you get a melted consistency
  4. Stir well until no clumps remain.
  5. Pour into silicon cupcake molds.
  6. Place in freezer for 10-20 minutes or until solid.
  7. Keep in fridge or eat immediately!

Makes one serving: 57g fat / 9g carb / 10g protein / 3g fiber

PB fat bombs (1) PB fat bombs (2)

Both of these recipes make 2-3 fat bombs, depending on how big your silicon molds are and how large you want them. They are very rich, buttery and will make your mouth water. You’d never know they’re actually healthy for you! 😀 I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Macadamian Oven Roasted Cauliflower

My new favorite food ever is macadamia oil.

Sadly, it’s hard to come by, so when I find it at a health food store, I stock up like a blizzard is coming.

You may be thinking, “Hey! I’ve seen that oil before, but wasn’t it on a shampoo commercial?!”

….this is true….but this oil’s benefits don’t just apply to hair!

Some of the benefits include:

  1. Higher levels of monounsaturated fat than olive or flaxseed oil
  2. High levels of Oleic acid which has been shown to reduce inflammation, boost memory, increase testosterone, and reduce asthma symptoms. It also helps lower LDL levels (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (good cholesterol).
  3. No trans fat and low polyunsaturated fat
  4. Has a smoke point about 40*F higher than olive oil, so you can cook it at a higher temperature without burning out the good fats and their benefits.

But no amount of health benefits can outweigh the delicious flavor it adds to food! 😀

I give you, my new favorite lunch accompaniment:

Macadamian Oven Roasted Cauliflower

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Ingredients:

  • 1 head of fresh cauliflower, washed and cut into florets
  • 2-4 tbsp. macadamia oil (depending on how big your cauliflower batch is)
  • *optional seasoning of salt

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Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400*F
  2. Pour oil into a mixing bowl and add in the cauliflower, making sure to coat the florets well.
  3. Put florets equally spaced apart on a baking sheet or in a 9×13 baking pan
  4. Roast them in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until they begin to brown. Turn the cauliflower every 10 minutes.
  5. Serve and enjoy hot or cold!

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22 Goals for my 22nd Year

This past weekend, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting.

Reflecting, dreaming, questioning, pondering…

I turned 22 last Wednesday. I graduate from college this May. I have no idea what I want to do with my future.

Basically, everything has hit me like the odor of a freshly-opened tuna can.

Many of my friends seem to have their futures planned out: some are going to grad school, some are engaged, some are even having kids. Warp speed living.

And well….this pretty much sums up my current position…

A few weeks ago, I came across this post, and it’s helped me a lot during this weird stress coma I’ve been experiencing. It’s strangely comforting knowing I’m not the only 20-something who’s still trying to figure out their life.

God has a plan for my life and I just have to keep trusting Him. It won’t be a straight, predictable timeline and at times, it’ll seem illogical and I’ll feel like I’m moving away from my aspirations. But He sees the BIG picture. Everything I’m going through now is shaping me and preparing me to be the person He created me to be; the person that will reach her destiny and honor Him in the process.

All of these reflections inspired me to set some goals for myself in this 22nd year on the globe.

In the future, I want to look back on this year with joy and satisfaction… and no regrets!!

I’m posting these goals to hold myself accountable (and to have an accessible copy if I lose the piece of paper I wrote them on haha), so without further ado, here’s my ambitions for my 22nd year on the globe! 🙂

22goals

  1. Travel A TON, explore, experience new cultures.
  2. Strengthen my relationship/prayer with God.
  3. Graduate with a Bachelor’s of science in Marine Biology.
  4. Continue weightlifting, gain more muscle.
  5. Find a job I’m passionate about.
  6. Stop picking at my food when I’m stressed.
  7. Work on my road rage: more patience, less cussing.
  8. Keep journaling my thoughts to decrease stress.
  9. Be flexible.
  10. Hike more.
  11. Stop being so hard on myself to be perfect.
  12. Be spontaneous.
  13. Stop judging or comparing myself to others.
  14. Get a tattoo.
  15. Take more pictures.
  16. Plant a tree.
  17. Take a spin class.
  18. Go horseback riding more often.
  19. Read for fun.
  20. Smile at myself in the mirror every day.
  21. Compete in an extreme obstacle course 5k race.
  22. Get a new pet….preferably a gecko or lizard.

I’ll bold out the items I accomplish and keep it updated. I can’t wait to see what adventures this year will hold.

The future may be scary, but that’s what makes it magical!! 😀

How do you combat stress about the future? Have you ever made a goals list for your birthday?

Embracing Challenges and Vanquishing Limits

Happy Monday and Happy December!

This past weekend, I got to go home for Thanksgiving, and boy did I enjoy every minute of it. Family time, good food, and a chance to take a breather from studying = heaven.

Now I have 6 class days, 2 lab practicals and 3 final exams left until Christmas break. You’re looking at a chick who is SO READY.

Because then? I’ll only have one more semester until GRADUATION!!! 😀

But, I’m getting off track.

Instead of doing the regular ol’ recap of “what I ate and did” for thanksgiving, I thought I’d recap the 5k my dad and I ran after turkey day to kick off the Christmas season!

As you all know, I ran my first 5k less than a month ago.

Well…I think I may be developing an addiction to 5k’s…

Since this race took place within walking distance from my house, my dad and I couldn’t resist signing up. My mom isn’t much of a runner, but she still cheered us on.o the morning of the race (Saturday), we woke up early, did some stretching, and walked down to the event in the freezing cold. Yes. 38 degrees. We were basically decked out in Alaskan parkas. TEXAS, HOW COULD YOU?!?!

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Since we arrived early, we did some exploring downtown. My town throws a little Christmas festival each year and this race happened to fall on the same weekend, so there were tons of attractions about, like bounce houses, stages for music, and petting zoo. We couldn’t resist taking a few kooky shots by a carousel haha

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My ankle was bugging me, but I figured the pain would subside as I warmed up and got jogging.

Soon, it was time to line up and get ready to begin. So, we ditched our coats by a rogue tree and walked over to the start.

As we began, I was shocked at the amount of people jammed into this race. My dad and I practically had to dodge strollers, dogs, and crazy Gu-spiked women, just to keep a steady pace. It must’ve been a record-setting year because it never really thinned out like we were hoping.

The course was hilly (definitely not something I’m used to in the Gulf Coast for college) but I liked it. My ankle hurt like daggers going up the hills, but I kind of ignored it. I have to be honest and say it was kind of an ego-boost to pass people as you climbed hills, not to mention the relaxation of going down the hills.

We warmed up really fast despite the 38 degree temp and my ankle started feeling better!

Nearing the end of the race, my dad and I turned on the turbo jets, ignited our “kicks,” and throttled toward the finish line.

Crossing that line felt SO GOOD! The combination of people cheering, running next to my dad aka running buddy, my own voice telling me “you got this” and my lungs burning with the cold air was such a rush! I think that’s is why I enjoy running 5k’s–the pay off, the feeling you gave your all, the endorphin rush hitting you like a freight train!

5k

Going into the race, I wanted to beat my previous running time of 34:22 (yes I’m a snail). When we looked up our chip times, it turned out I shaved off a considerable amount; ending at 32:52.

Is it a new world record? No. Will I be recruited for a Kenyan racing team? No way.

The old me would’ve probably started playing the comparison game; beating myself up for how slow I am compared to other runners. But the new me chucks those old, negative thoughts in the trash.

Why? Because it was MY personal best. Not yours, or my dad’s, or an Olympic racer, but MINE. 

I’ve known for quite some time that I’m prone to never giving myself enough credit. So, instead of dwelling on the “should haves” and “could haves,” I took a moment to put some things into perspective.

Reflecting after the race, I realized a few things that made me proud of myself and my finishing time:

  • I’ve only ever raced twice
  • My “training: for this 5k was running once a week for 35ish minutes
  • I gave it my all

Those realizations made me also see how any race is simply an act of breaking the barriers your mind places in front of you.

I beat a girl who hates running with a passion. I beat my inner voice yelling, “you can’t do this.” I beat doubt. I beat myself. And I think that’s truly what racing is about: you vs. you. This race was a chance to challenge myself and beat my previous time and I did it. I conquered my goal and it felt SO good!

And now, since I’ve reached a new pinnacle, I only want to keep improving. My next aim? 30 minutes. And after that? Under 30 minutes. Then a 10k, or a 15k, or even a half marathon.

I’m not limiting myself with anything. We only silence our full potential when we put up roadblocks like that. Imagine the possibilities stemming from setting aspirations that have no absolute maximum. These past months, I’ve integrated this idea of saying goodbye to “can’t” and embracing “can” and “will.” Just the simple step of believing in myself and realizing that no goal is unattainable has changed me for the better.

………I kind of went on a little rabbit trail with this post rather than just a race recap haha but it’s truly how I feel. I encourage you to start living in such a way and realizing that you can overcome the limitations your mind sets up. 🙂

And so I leave you with a quote:

Ralph MarstonHave a great first week of December!