Let’s Talk Choc!

Pic for Blog- Let's Talk ChocIt’s the 16th hour of Day 26. 14 Days remaining. Life lacks meaning and joy and is instead a cold harsh expedition. This is the log of my days without the one thing that I lose all willpower when it comes to its magnificent and monumental presence. This is a log of my days without…chocolate.

Wait! Before you double check the website url, this is still a fitness blog site. You did not accidentally click a journal of a food addict. This is me admitting to you that as someone who tries to maintain a healthy diet, has its faults when it comes to sweets, especially chocolate. I chose to give up chocolate until Easter and let me tell you it’s been a long 26 days so far. With that being said, I am going to use this experience to talk about chocolate and how to curb chocolate cravings by making tasty and healthy alternatives!

  • Cocoa nibs: Cocoa nibs are also referred to as “nature’s chocolate chips”. They are peeled and crumbled from whole cocoa beans and obtain a rich and yet pure chocolate flavor. They have plenty of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber. If you want to make a clean desert or just want to satisfy your sweet tooth try sprinkling these on yogurt, mix them with trail mix, or just eat them out of the bag like I do!
  • Carob: This alternative contrasts from regular processed and sugary chocolate and has less chemicals. The cocoa bean naturally has a bitter flavor that is deluded with sugar, more so for milk chocolate than for dark chocolate. In addition to all of the sugar added to chocolate is complimented with oils, milk or cream. All of these added ingredients result in the product being hard to digest. Carob is a favorable alternative because it originally does not have a bitter flavor or grainy texture so it does not need sweetening or smoothers (oils and milk products).
  • Date Bars: Dates are naturally sweet and rich tasting, therefore they pair with the bitter taste of raw cocoa nicely. This recipe for Chocolate-Coffee Date Bars uses dates as the sweetener to overpower the bitter raw cocoa instead of sugar. This treat includes baking chocolate (100% cocoa) almonds, walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts, dates, raw cocoa or unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and teaspoon of expresso powder.

Although giving up a guilty pleasure such as chocolate can be difficult, I am always up for a way to apply creativity to my diet and these a few ways that you can too. A lot of us may think that finding a tasty alternative for chocolate is impossible, but you may be surprised as to all of the clean desserts that are possible. One of my favorite recipe sites My Clean Treats has plenty of recipes for delicious healthy desserts. Get creative and try whipping up a sweet concoction that’ll prove that you can have your cake (or date chocolate bar) and eat it too!

“It’s a good day to have a good one!”

-Alena Purpero

My Newest Addiction

Pic for Blog- My Newest AddictionRun, run, run, every day is another day to see how many things I can accomplish. I am always on the go, whether heading to work, class, or workout. I always keep a snack in my backpack to make sure that I never am hungry. My latest snack that I can’t keep myself from indulging in more than once a day: homemade energy balls. I am sure you’ve seen this recipe before, although have you tried it? If you haven’t, maybe once I dissect the nutritious ingredients you will be more willing to give it a go!

 

The recipe is the following:

1 cup whole rolled oats, 5 tablespoons natural crunchy peanut butter, 2.5 tablespoons honey, 4 tablespoons ground flax seed, and ¼ cup mini dark chocolate chips (optional).

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combine the honey and peanut butter in a microwavable bowl and melt/warm the two ingredients together. Pour over the dry mixture and stir. You can either roll them into 1-inch balls (serving size) or put them in a pan and cut them like granola bars.

Just writing about this makes my mouth water for the pan of them that I have in the fridge right now. The perfect treat that will nip that sweet tooth in the butt, keep your energy levels up, and keep you feeling full. The key ingredients in this recipe are:

Whole rolled oats: Where this ingredient lacks flavor, it makes up for it with its nutritious values. Rolled oats have been found to be a great blood sugar stabilizer. When your blood sugar is stable, your body will react less to temptations of sweets. Also, the high content of fiber keeps you feeling full and also helps with digestion.

Flaxseed: It is high in vitamins and minerals that have been found to increase your heart health. The high level of fiber content in flaxseed keeps you feeling more full because it expands once it is digested and helps curve your appetite.

The combination of the sweet honey, the salty peanut butter, mixed with the oats, fiber and some chocolate chips, is the best. Choosing to make your own homemade granola bars (or energy balls in this case) is much more cost effective and is also healthier. There are no preservatives in this recipe, and the cost is comparable to buying a box of Nature Valley Granola Bars every week when you are grocery shopping.

The best part is that you don’t need any certain utensils to make it and you can prepare this snack in bulk. It lasts for a long time if you keep them refrigerated as well. I encourage you to give this recipe a try, because I know you will be just as addicted as I am!

“Always remember that it doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you keep on going”

~Kenzi Weidman

What is Your Waste Telling You?

Pic for BlogSome call it a bowel movement, doo-doo, caca, stool, waste, feces, etc. In this blog, let us all be grown ups and be able to have this discussion using the term “poop”. Some of you may think that there doesn’t ever need to be a discussion on the topic of poop, but you are wrong. Everyone poops, so why should it be a secret topic?

Everything you do and eat can make your body act in a certain way. The best way to see whether or not you are being a healthy individual is by doing this one important task…analyze your poop! It is time to see what your poop is telling you:

Frequency is usually one of the biggest concerns. The important thing to understand here is that “everyone is different”. Crazy how that phrase works with a lot of situations, especially bathroom trips. Someone’s “normal” might mean they use the facilities 1, 2, 3, 4, maybe even 5 times a day. Just because it seems like your roommate is always in the bathroom and you go once a day, doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you.

Size goes hand in hand with frequency. That person that is pooping 5 times each day as mentioned above might be having smaller movements in their bowel compared to someone that is one and done in a day. You know your normal, and if for some reason a day or two seems off, make sure you are consuming plenty of water and also upping your fiber intake. Experts suggest 20-25 grams of fiber each day in order to stay regular. Typically a healthy diet will get you to that amount, so if your body seems like it needs more fiber, try taking a look at what you are eating and make a change.

Texture is the second most important thing to take a look at when analyzing your daily waste. As mentioned, everyone has their own normal, but if your normal goes in the wrong direction, here is what you can change:

  • Separate hard lumps means that you are not getting enough fiber or water. This should not be your normal everyday, so if it is, up the water and fruits/veggies.
  • Sausage shape, smooth and soft means that you are perfect! Keep doing what you are doing.
  • Soft and sticky can mean your body isn’t absorbing fats properly. This happens once in awhile when we have a fun weekend or night out, although if this is consistent, make sure that you figure out what is going on with your bodily system.

Color is the biggest and most important thing to check when taking a look under the lid. First check, is there blood? Blood is BAD! It can mean anything from food poisoning to a bowel rip and worst-case scenario, cancer. If there is ever blood, make sure you contact your doctor immediately. Here are a few color distinctions taken from the article in the Huffington Post:

  • Brown means that you are healthy and should be happy. You have nothing to worry about because poop is naturally brown due to the bile produced in your liver.
  • Green can be good as well. It usually means that you are eating lots of leafy, green vegetables. One small thing to take notice is that it could mean your food is moving too fast through your intestines. This happens from time to time; always making sure water and fiber are in your diet will help.
  • Yellow typically means that you have excess fat in your diet. It smells awful and doesn’t let you leave the bathroom feeling well. It can also be due to bad absorption disorder, maybe even celiac disease (What is Celiac Disease?)

Take the time to care about what you are flushing, because keeping an eye on it now can help detect future issues. The easy things to remember to keep your colon happy and poops healthy: drink lots of water everyday, consume 20-25 grams of fiber daily, and make sure you exercise on a regular basis. It has been found that the food you ate 3 days ago is the waste in your poop today. So when analyzing your poop, think back to 3 days ago and figure out where you went wrong!

“Always remember that it doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you keep on going”

~Kenzi Weidman

Inside > Outside

Picture for Blog

After a lot of thinking, which was probably sparked by the hours of Grey’s Anatomy I’ve been watching on Netflix lately, I have been wondering how an average college students’ lifestyle affects the body. This time, though, I am not going to blog on the basic “freshman 15” or the lack of exercise students typically get. Rather, I want to focus on one thing: inside the human body.

Of course all organs are vital and should be taken care of regularly.  However, as college students, we don’t quite think about how our lifestyle affects our liver, heart, intestines, etc.  Instead, we tend to care much more about the quick and easy components such as: What will make us fat? How do we stay up all night?  What is the best hangover cure? But what if we all actually started caring about our organs, the inside of our bodies that people can’t see, rather than always worrying about the parts that people can see?

First, let’s talk about the liver. We all know that the more we drink, the more it affects our liver. However, a night out on the town doesn’t just stop us from eating healthy, working out the next day, or feeling at our best.  It also can lead to many forms of cancer, most commonly of the liver.

Studies have found that about 60.2% of college students drink heavily compared to 51.9% of individuals around the same age that are not in college. The long-term effects of drinking lead to an increased chance of liver disease, which may eventually lead to liver cancer. No one ever really understands what that means until they know the symptoms, which include weakness and fatigue, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, and yellow discoloration of the skin (jaundice). Think twice when you are looking for a night of fun. Does alcohol have to be involved?

Up next, the intestines. This also leads to discussion of the bowel. I should start first by establishing the fact that EVERYONE POOPS. Okay, now that you understand that, as a college student, or at any point in your life really, you need to make sure you are consuming the correct foods that your bowel and intestines will appreciate. Did you know that cheese constipates the normal digestive system and that spicy foods disturb it? If you like spicy foods, though, you may already know that well from first-hand experience. In college, hot wings and pizza are staples in our diets; foods that are full of intestine blocking and irritating ingredients.

Making sure you eat the right foods to keep your inner-self happy and clean is important. A lot people are full of sh*t, but no one wants to literally be FULL of sh*t. The best foods to keep your digestive system happy and your intestines and bowels clean are: fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.  These are full of fiber, which in short, helps you poop and keeps you clean.  You may also want to try replacing unhealthy oils by cooking with olive oil.

Lastly, the heart: The most important organ in the human body. Without your heart, you have no life. One of the best ways to keep your heart healthy is to exercise. Not just once in a blue moon, but regularly. Habits are formed best when we are young, so by forming the habit to exercise 3-4 days a week now, it will be easier to make it an important aspect of life in the future. Another way to keep the heart healthy as a college student is to avoid the greasy foods because they are high in calories and saturated fat. Eating these types of foods can lead to a blockage of blood flow to the heart, which can then lead to a heart attack.

So yes, you are always being told to eat healthy because it genuinely keeps you healthy. Now you know that not eating healthy can lead to serious long-term heart issues, and without the heart, we can’t survive.

Hopefully this topic was a little more interesting than the basic “eat healthy and exercise” topics usually forced upon you as a college student. Your organs are important. If you are someone that can eat whatever they want and it doesn’t affect you externally so you don’t think it affects you at all, think again.

Your liver, intestines, heart, and every other organ in your body are important.  Unless you start forming healthy habits now, it will be harder later in life, and could even be too late. The time is now, so READY, SET, GO!

“Always remember that it doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you keep on going.”

~Kenzi Weidman

Sources: Alcohol Facts and StatisticsLiver DiseaseConstipationSix Healthy Tips for College Students7 Foods for a Healthy Heart