My Favorite Snack: Iced Lattes

I was never a big coffee shop person. Sure, when I was traveling, I would pop into a Starbucks but it was never part of my daily schedule. I also never drank my coffee over ice. I really was just a traditional, make it at home and hot kind of girl.

When I was in law school in Miami, I was introduce to Cafe con Leche, which is the better, Cuban version of a Latte. I recently discovered the amazing Cuban place we order from routinely (Black Bean Cafe if you are in the area) had an amazing Iced Cafe con Leche. Then, during the pandemic, they came up with bottled Cafe con Leche, which I immediately fell in love with. I loved being able to have this speciality coffee drink at my own home!

A great Iced Cafe con Leche recipe

The only issue I have with a daily Iced Cafe con Leche is the amount of sugar and calories. Generally, it calls for regular sugar and whole milk, which can make this pretty heavy! Of course you can play with the ingredients to reduce the calories and sugar and still keep it a sweet treat. You can even try a caffeine-free version!

Another drink I recently started making at home is Chai Tea Latte. I prefer the Tazo “skinny” version. Pair this with unsweetened almond milk and the drink is around 75 calories and 18 carbs or so. Of course, with the weather getting warmer in Florida, I am drinking this iced but you can make it hot as well. I’ve found this at Publix, my local grocery store.

I hope you enjoy some of these drinks!

Are You Counting Up?

I was in the middle of an Apple Fitness workout the other day (review coming soon) and I realized my focus kept returning to the countdown timer that showed how much longer I had left in the workout and it was really distracting.

That got me thinking. Why was I so focused on how much time I had left instead of celebrating everything I had done? I could say it went deeper than just the workout. I stopped my workout and changed the way you see metrics on Apple Fitness so it now shows the time elapsed, not the time remaining. This little change has allowed me to be more present in my workouts, especially yoga.

It’s true for life too. Do you think as you get older that you are running out of time to accomplish that bucket list while forgetting all the things you’ve already checked off? So let’s start counting up instead of down.

My New Air Fryer & My Favorite Recipe Website

I am so excited that my new Air Fryer came yesterday after being back ordered for what seemed like forever. I wanted to take my air frying to another level, especially with my husband catching so much fresh fish lately.

My Breville Smart Oven

When I bought my first air fryer (which was the cheapest one with a decent rating on Amazon), I started with frozen fries and tator tots. Once I started to get the hang of it, I graduated to fried fish, pickles and zucchini. Then, I expanded into cookies, sausage and peppers and even burgers!

One source that I will be looking to for my recipes is Brandi’s website at Stay Snatched. She also has a great cookbook that is available through Amazon. Check out her links on her website to order. This is my go-to air fryer recipe site and everything I have made has been delicious. She is basically a magician in the way she turns comfort food and bar favorites into healthy and easy recipes. Check her out!

I’ll post some of the best recipes as I go so stay tuned. Let me know what your favorite air fryer recipe is!

April Goals

Everyone has goals they set for themselves but does everyone have a plan on how to reach those goals or to check in to make sure progress is being made? Do you have obtainable or fun goals as well?

April 1 is the beginning of the second quarter of the year so a great time to set goals but also to check the progress of previous goals. Look not only at the previous monthly and quarterly goals, but your annual goals as well. I do this for work and personal. When I review my annual goals, I will add certain action steps throughout the coming months to help me hit those monthly/quarterly/annual goals.

For monthly goals, I have a fun little add-on from my Happy Planner. I usually pick some fun goals for the month that I then track daily. For example, for March I had exercise, mindfulness and gratitude. For April, I have nutrition, productivity and eat more fruit! It’s a fun, daily challenge to add in positive habits to your busy life.

So go be a goal getter and happy second quarter!

Review of 21 Day Ultimate Reset

Back in January, when I decided to do Dry January, I thought why not couple it with the 21 Day Ultimate Reset. This program is by Beachbody and is touted as a no-starvation cleanse to help (and this is a direct quote) “restore your body to its optima; ‘factory settings.’” You can purchase the kit directly from Beachbody and comes with multiple supplements as well as a meal guide/cookbook to last the 21 days.

A Note: I did the Ultimate Reset last year, back in March and since we all remember how March 2020 went, you can imagine all of the good habits I was working on went straight out the window! I did more of the daily recipes then where I am doing more “Reset in a Crunch” or being repetitive with recipes for ease this time.

The Reset is broken up into three one-week sections: Reclaim, Release and Restore. There are daily recipes and each week comes with different dietary restrictions and enhancements as well as supplements. The first week, you have animal products until Day 4, and then you are vegetarian. By week 2, you are vegan and week 3, you cut out a lot of carbs and protein and are mostly eating fruits and vegetables. Some days your calorie intake is pretty low however this is offset by the lack of major physical activity. For example, if I eat 1000 calories on the Reset but only burn 50 calories doing restorative yoga, it is actually less of a deficit than the days I eat 1500 calories but burn 600 in an hour long circuit training class.

The supplements: You are also told to drink distilled water, adding a supplement called Mineralize to it. The other supplements are Revitalize (helps with digestion), Detox (supports natural detoxification and healthy liver function), Optimize (nutrient absorption) and Soothe (digestive health). Every afternoon you also drink Power Greens (helps support the body’s acid/alkaline balance). A note of caution: none of these claims are FDA approved nor do they have to be, so the descriptions are straight from Beachbody.

It is recommended that you don’t do strenuous exercise during these 3 weeks. Restorative yoga, walking, swimming and tai chi are all that is recommended. This is because your body is working harder on the inside and since exercise technically damages your muscles, you don’t want to ask you body to do too much. I personally did yoga every day of the Reset. This help me rediscover my love for yoga and well as it’s restorative benefits. This is one of the many things I have kept after the Refresh.

For a day by day description, scroll down, but if you want the summary, here it is. My digestion was immensely improved, almost immediately. Gone was the constipation and bloating. I also fall asleep much easier (and without interruptions, I sleep much better). As warned in the materials, I actually was able to process some emotional things as well. It’s amazing how much mental space you free up when you no longer have to think about what you are eating or what exercise you will be doing. I also lost almost 15 pounds. There were days I wanted to quit the restrictive diet and there were a few times I went off program (I blame Epcot) but overall stayed the course.

What am I left with, a few months down the road. I gained about 4 of the pounds I lost back and I was not surprised. I still can fit into all the clothes I could in mid-February. I drink much less alcohol than I did before. My snack cravings are still gone and my stress eating is a thing of the past. My digestion is still very good. I can fall asleep much better. I have a healthier relationship with food and myself! I will more write about that in the near future.

Final Thoughts: Will this Reset be the end all be all? Probably not. On the Facebook groups, people talk about how they do it every year because they ultimately fall back into old habits. Will this help if you are committed to making a major change? Absolutely. Will I do the Reset again? Probably not, although there are a few recipes I continue to use. I would recommend this to anyone that is looking to get some help in making a major dietary change or someone who wants to challenge themselves with dietary discipline. It’s akin do doing Whole 30 or something similar. You are going to change your diet and restrict many things you normally eat for a set period of time.

DAY BY DAY

Day 1 – I ate breakfast according to the plan but I ate a leftover FitLife lunch and instead of salmon according to the menu, I made a piece of salmon I had in the freezer. I also had a protein shake for an afternoon snack. Otherwise, I took all the supplements and water according to the timing required. I forgot that the Power Greens you take in the afternoon are a little gross but I think I added too much water to this blend so there was more to drink! I did 20 minutes of yoga and had a great night sleep without melatonin or any sleep aids.

Day 2 – I ate everything according to plan: oatmeal & blueberries for lunch, salad with chicken & pine nuts for lunch, a shake for a snack and Southwest veggie tacos for dinner. This is almost too much to eat for dinner and I am not able to finish it all. This dinner is one of my favorites and one I will repeat this week. I had a little headache throughout the day and I was so tired. Like laying on the couch not wanting to do anything tired.

Day 3 – Eggs, spinach & toast for breakfast, salad with pine nuts and miso soup for lunch, berries and yogurt with cinnamon for snack and the veggie taco again for dinner. You are allowed to repeat meals within the week you are in so I am definitely taking advantage of that! Tonight, I was able to finish the whole taco! I wasn’t tired today but did have a headache off and on throughout the day. I also did 30 minutes of yoga.

Day 4 – I slept terribly last night and woke up with a headache but it went away quickly once I drank some water in the morning. I repeated breakfast and lunch but missed my snack because of work meetings. I also had a lot of back pain today, like you feel when you are sitting too long. I remember I had this pain last time I did the reset and I think it has something to do with your kidneys working hard. Stirfry, quinoa and a sweet potato for dinner will make up for the missed snack.

Day 5 – I slept a lot better but the back pain was pretty intense. Upon waking and moving around, it felt better but I still utilized a heating pad through the day to help, especially since I had a lot of Zoom meetings today. Other than that, I felt great and the meals were really good. I ate mostly from the Reset in a Crunch list today. I had yogurt, oatmeal and berries for breakfast, a salad and miso soup for lunch, a shake for a snack and stir fry, brown rice and more miso soup for dinner (the actual day 5 dinner). I skipped the Nori Gomasio because I could never find the seaweed needed for the recipe, but that was minor. I ended the day with some yoga. (I am really enjoying the Apple Fitness app and will write a review down the road when I test out some more workouts.)

Day 6 – Still sleeping great but still having a little back pain so the heating pad worked well today. I repeated the oatmeal, berries, yogurt breakfast, had soup and salad for lunch again and repeated the veggie taco for dinner. No yoga today because I just decided to rest.

Day 7 – Last day of Phase 1 and I am feeling a clarity of mind and body I haven’t felt in a while. The back pain is gone and I’m feeling really good. I switched up my breakfast and had a chocolate protein shake (my preferred brand is Shakeology) with strawberries and it really tasted like chocolate covered strawberries. I always just mix my shakes with water. I’ve never been a big fan of milk in the shakes. Not sure why. I repeated yesterdays lunch and dinner for ease and fit that 30 minute yoga session in as well.

Day 8 – Beginning of Phase 2 – Release. Release changes the supplements a bit where it is adding in a Detox drink before each meal. It actually has a pleasant taste and it much easier to drink than the power greens! We also start cutting down on protein a bit. For breakfast, I had a giant plate of fruit. Today, I had pears, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries which surprisingly kept me full until lunch. I kept the same salad and miso soup but dinners are going to be more heavy on the veggies from now on. So today’s dinner was brown rice with pinto beans, steamed zucchini and green beans with lemon. I’ve been skipping the snack for the last several day because the meals are keeping me full and I just wasn’t hungry for an afternoon snack. I’m getting more consistent with the yoga but I actually did it in the morning today to ensure I fit it in. In case you were wondering about weight status, I am down a total of 5 pounds so far.

Day 9 – This plan is really becoming a habit now and it doesn’t feel restrictive at all. My daughter ordered lunch from Panera today and I wasn’t even slightly tempted to add on my favorite cookie! Instead, I had 1/2 serving of the pinto beans and rice from last night and a salad (in addition to my fruit breakfast). The salad recipe today called for toasted pumpkin seeds. I couldn’t find raw pumpkin seeds and the store so I purchased some already toasted. They tasted really good just out of the bag but putting them on the salad was a total fail – it just didn’t taste right. Next time, I will just eat these on the side (because I am definitely repeating the pinto beans again). For dinner, I was supposed to eat this homemade sweet potato bisque. My plan was to buy an organic sweet potato soup but of course the store was out of it. I instead substituted a butternut squash soup that was vegan. This was paired with some asparagus roasted with a small bit of olive oil and salt topped with almonds. This was by far one of my favorite veggies by far and one I will definitely keep around. Yes, I did my yoga but because of my terrible WiFi, the first session froze so I finished with a 10 minutes session so it wasn’t as satisfying as I was hoping for. I plan to make up for it tomorrow!

Day 10 – Almost halfway through. This isn’t feeling like I’m denying myself anything because the food is so good, but it could just be that I was definitely ready for it. In the Facebook groups, people are already dreaming about their Day 22 meals. The program recommends that you to the Refresh in reverse or at the very least to ease back into caffeine, animal proteins and alcohol. My plan is to do a full week of FitLife meals before going back into fully cooking for myself, just to keep on track. Anyway, Day 10 started off with the chocolate and strawberries shake. I had a salad with cucumber and some butternut squash soup. For dinner, I had a favorite: stir fried veggies with liquid aminos and a sweet potato. I also did 30 minutes of yoga.

Days 11, 12 & 13 – Fruit for breakfast, my salad and miso soup for lunch, shake and strawberries for a snack and a repeat of the stir fry for dinner. I miss the brown rice in the stir fry these past few days so I added it instead of the potato on Day 12 and have pinto beans and rice on Day 13 instead. 30 minutes of yoga both days.

Day 14 – Fruit for breakfast, Leftover pinto beans and rice for lunch and stir fry with rice for dinner. I skip the snack but fit in 30 minutes of yoga. End of Phase 2 – DOwn

Day 15 – Beginning of Phase 3, which means mostly fruit and vegetables. Fruit for breakfast and this is a huge plate of fruit! A salad with avocado and sunflower seeds on the side for lunch. No yoga today but the hip pain I’ve been feeling for years from running isn’t there today for the first time that I can remember. We end up staying the night at Disney and I forget my supplements so nothing tonight and tomorrow through dinner. We go to an all you can eat place but I stick with mostly veggies and salmon. I do have a cookie and a glass of wine, which ends up giving me a huge headache the next day.

Day 16 – Breakfast at Disney of pineapple, coffee and a mini Mickey waffle with peanut butter. For lunch, I cave because of my headache and get some Mongolian beef with broccoli and rice and nibble on an egg roll. For a snack, I pick a yogurt parfait with berries. I ended up skipping dinner because of the wine headache! No yoga but we did walk almost 20k steps around Epcot. I did drink the Power Greens when we got home around 6:30 and went straight to bed.

Day 17 – Back on the Refresh fully. Fruit for breakfast, salad with avocado and pumpkin seeds for lunch, 1/2 a shake and strawberries (1/2 shake is recommended in phase 3 to cut down on the protein) and stir fry, sweet potato and miso soup for lunch. I still have a headache from the wine two days ago, although it comes and goes throughout the day. I decide to do 45 minutes of yoga hoping to banish the headache through sweat. It doesn’t work.

Day 18: This is the first day I’m really feeling over it but I think it has more to do with my choice of being repetitive with the meals rather than the Reset itself. Maybe it was eating “regular food” on Saturday or the two-day headache from one glass of wine but I’m really looking forward to being done. I’m already planning some meals from Week 1, especially that veggie taco!

Days 19 & 20: I’m basically eating the same thing every day: Fruit, then salad and miso soup and ending with stir fry. Most days I am fitting in 1/2 a shake for a snack, some with strawberries, some without. Yoga has been a great addition, although I only fit in 10 minutes on Day 20.

Days 21 – Finally! I am so happy to be done that I actually add some shrimp in with my stir fry tonight. I also do the first workout of a new program instead of yoga but do incorporate stretching at night. It was nice to get in a good heavy workout and lift weights again.

Days 22 onward: I went back to Week 1 for my breakfast and lunch recipes, eating eggs and wheat toast for breakfast and making the Southwest taco into a rice bowl for lunch. I met some friends out for dinner so I ate a burger a little quicker than I planned but left out the bun and fries and instead ate brussel sprouts and beet humus. Instead of FitLife Foods, we started ordering from Hungry Root, which I will write more about later. I am more mindful about my fruit and vegetable intake, where I could easily not eat either on any given day. I plan for healthier snacks and overall feel really good!

My Favorite Breakfast: Protein Waffles

This is a new, easy breakfast which is perfect on those busy mornings.

My daughter loves a good Eggo waffle but I used to shy away from them because they weren’t “nutritious.” I was late to the game discovering protein waffles. There are mixes and frozen and if you look online, tons of great recipes filled with protein and fiber.

For this breakfast, I am using Kodiak blueberry frozen waffles. Kodiak is widely available and come in many varieties. I also like Birch Benders frozen waffles, but so far I have only found them at Whole Foods. For 2 waffles, Kodiak has a bit more calories and a gram more of protein but 11 or 12 grams of protein puts protein waffles on the same level as 2 eggs!

To complete the meal, I drizzle a little maple syrup, add fresh berries and then a dollop of whip cream on the top. This meal is around 350 calories. For macros, it’s 51% carbs, 35% fat and 14% protein. For comparison, 2 eggs, 1 slice of Killer Dave’s wheat toast and the same berries would be 304 calories (44% carbs, 33% fat, 23% protein). Adding butter to the toast overtakes the waffles in calories but makes it almost the same macros.

So don’t fear a sweet treat for breakfast and check out some high protein options!

My Moment of Zen (or how therapy is the ultimate self care)

2020 and now 2021 was a year of a lot of changes for the majority of the world. All of our best laid plans in January mostly fell apart by Spring and we were left scrambling to figure out what to do from there. Not knowing when the pandemic would come to an end made future plans nearly impossible.

One thing that has helped me immensely is therapy. Being a busy professional made it almost impossible before (or so I told myself) but working from home and the availability of telehealth made it so easy to slip into my week.

Although so many people do it and get positive results from it, therapy is sometimes perceived as only something damaged people do or that talking about things don’t make them better. I think we all have a little bit of damage that we incurred throughout our years, especially in this year, but you don’t have to be teetering on the edge of a mental breakdown to get benefits from therapy.

What therapy has helped me do is reconnect when my life and do a lot of self-analysis on why I feel a certain way. Reestablishing this connection has made so much of my life better, even in this lockdown state. I am more in tune with my family, my physical well-being, my health and fitness journey and even what I am putting into my body.

The most insane thing in all the pandemic craziness is the plan that fell apart in January of 2020 revived itself in January of 2021 and I am exactly where I wanted to be a year ago. The difference between then and now is that I know a lot more about myself because of my journey in therapy. For that, I am extremely grateful.

Real Talk About Depression

The legal profession is ripe with stress, depression, substance abuse and other mental health issues. Add a pandemic to that mix, and the result can be intense. While the Florida Bar has had the Florida Lawyers Assistance program, it wasn’t until a few years ago that they, with the lead of the Young Lawyers Division, has made mental health a priority. Their Stigma Free YLD, with resources and testimonials from lawyers throughout the state, has made mental health a priority.

The hardest thing for people to understand about depression (even those that suffer from it) is that is goes beyond being sad. Your entire outlook on life is affected. You often feel hopeless and worthless. You don’t enjoy things you usually do. You think people don’t care about you. You often can’t see any good if your life because the depression is coloring everything with its lens. I have not been without my share of depression throughout my legal career but it wasn’t until a former professor and mentor, who was an incredible attorney and well loved by all, died by suicide in 2017. This made me and every other attorney in Florida realize that depression is a vile and often hidden disease that affects so many that we know.

I’ve never talked openly about my depression before but it’s been there most of my life. I’ve taken antidepressants for two different periods: early in my career and at the end of the time I was practicing law. It was tough for me to reach out for that help but it was essential for me to function at the level I needed to. Unfortunately I had an extremely difficult time coming off the antidepressants the last time, to the point that it felt like torture some days, so when I started to experience depression at the beginning of 2020, I was hesitant to go down that road again.

As you can imagine, starting 2020 with some depression did not set me up for success! A series of events coupled by the pandemic and the isolation made things extremely difficult. In the last year, I’ve suffered many major triggering points: a toxic workplace, a huge salary cut, getting laid off, and a period of unemployment. The pandemic had me worrying about my family members with Type 1 Diabetes, my elderly parents and in-laws and even myself, who has been susceptible to respiratory infections throughout my life. I rarely sleep through the night, often waking to take care of my daughter’s blood sugar or my elderly dog, and then struggle to get back to sleep because of racing thoughts. For months, I muddled through and just tried to ignore how I was feeling but sometimes your actions to mask the pain actually make it worse.

A few months ago, I realized I needed to get help. I had been trying to run away from my life because I couldn’t recognize the signs that I had slipped into depression again. My first step was to start therapy. Through this process, I was able to be introspective and dig down to what I was actually feeling. What I thought my problems were was what I had created to mask my actual feelings.

Was it an instant cure? Absolutely not but it was a good start. With my past experience with antidepressants, this time I looked to more holistic methods to help. I cut way back on drinking alcohol, I did the 21 Day Refresh eating organic and vegan foods and doing yoga every day. I joined a yoga book club discussing a year of self-care with a group of amazing yoga instructors and their students. After I finished the Refresh, I tried to keep 80% or more of my diet organic and plant based, keeping room for the occasional restaurant food. Although on the days I just can’t muster exercise, I allow myself the rest.

I just turned 50 and that really weighed heavy on my depression. I didn’t even realize how depressed I was until my therapist remarked on my sullen demeanor in our session right before my birthday. Luckily I was able to finally spend some time with my parents (yay for vaccinations!) and that helped. My husband, daughter and parents made a big deal about it with decorations and cake and it brought me a lot of joy. Everyone that reached out to wish me a happy birthday reminded me that I have a full life. I think birthdays are one day that Facebook is actually positive!

I used to tell my clients that it was like being on the airplane: you need to put your own mask on before you can help someone else. So my advice to those that are feeling down: seek help in whatever form you can and feel comfortable with. I think therapy is great but you have to find the right therapist. You may need to try a few but don’t give up. Surround yourself with those that love you at your best and your worst. If you need medication to help, get it. Remember that alcohol is not medicine and can make you feel worse (and mess with your sleep). It’s important to remember that there is no one antidote for depression so you have to figure out what works for you.

You may feel alone, but you would be surprised how many people have suffered. I am just one lawyer to tell my story, but there are many stories on the YLD website. You can also find the stories of celebrities like Kristen Bell, Chris Evans, Joseph Gordon-Leavitt, Harrison Ford, Lady Gaga, Dolly Parton , Michael Phelps and more.

MOST OF ALL, IF YOU ARE FEELING LIKE YOU MAY HARM YOURSELF. GET IMMEDIATE HELP. THE NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE IS 800-273-8255. HELP IS OUT THERE.

My Favorite Workout: Walking

I love walking. Enjoying the outdoors, walking the dogs, window shopping. Walking is also very accessible. There’s a reason why there are so many fitness trackers that encourage 10,000 steps per day. It also doesn’t involve many accessories. If you have a comfortable pair of shoes, you are good to go.

When we lived in a building downtown, I walked everywhere. I estimate I could walk upwards of 5 miles or more each day. I walked the dogs around Lake Eola each morning, walked my daughter to her preschool, then walked across downtown to my office building. There were several months where I was walking to her school for lunch. We walked to the grocery store on the other side of the lake, we walked to dinner, we walked to the park and playground. We walked everywhere! That was definitely the least I have weighed since I hit my 40s.

Once we moved to the suburbs, I would still walk my daughter to school but the 7 block walk fell to 1 block. The daily 1 mile dog walk around the lake was 1/2 a mile around the neighborhood (and sometimes not even that since we could just let them out in the backyard). I had to drive to the grocery store and to my office. My daily movement dropped drastically, even with other exercise programs!

I still prefer to walk over driving when I can. When I am visiting my client law firms downtown, I often park and walk from building to building. I’ve even worn through the bottom of my shoes! I love vacations to places like New York City or Las Vegas that encourage a lot of walking. I also love to spend the day at Disney with friends, walking a ton!

There are also many health benefits to walking, aside from the obvious weight loss. The Mayo Clinic says that walking can lower your blood pressure and your blood glucose levels, can lower your stress levels, can improve your memory and cognitive functions. Walking can be part of your self-care routine as well.

This is also a very pandemic-friendly exercise and can be done by just walking out the door. So try and add this great exercise into your routine!