We’re Supposed to Change

As I’ve navigated the first few months of being 30, I’ve noticed a constant dialogue surrounding the idea of change. Our friends, our family members, our co-workers, our old hometown/high school acquaintances – I’ve encountered the same old phrase consistently: “wow, you/he/she has really changed.”

This is usually commented in an off-hand, slightly negative way, with the underlying meaning seeming to be, “wow, you’ve let life change you. wow, money/success has really changed you. wow, you’ve lost your way to yourself because of a/b/c.”

My reaction to this type of comment is usually, “what do you mean by that?” to which I almost never get a response, since people don’t tell you that you (or someone else) have/has changed as a compliment. What they’re doing is trying to say something they don’t feel comfortable saying without actually saying it, and assuming you’ll understand the meaning so they can wipe their hands clean of their intent.

I’ve never understood our cultural resistance to change in the first place. When someone states, “wow, you’ve changed!” my internal response is “you haven’t?” We should change in significant ways over decades of time. We should learn and grow from our mistakes and heartbreaks and mishaps – that’s the whole point of living a life in the first place. If we’re not changing over time, than what on earth are we doing?

In theory, change should be a fluid and celebrated part of life. We should ebb and flow on our way to who we really are, learning lesson after lesson as we encounter mistake after mistake. I realize that people usually mean “wow, you’ve changed!” to indicate that we’ve somehow betrayed ourselves; by changing our political views, our values, integrity, personality, or what’s most important. But I’ll argue that those things too, should be subject to change as we change as people over time.

First of all, the only person that knows our internal values, morals, items of importance, etc. is us. Ourselves, only. Not our friends, or peers, or co-workers or even family members or parents. No matter how we are raised or what values are instilled in us, we are still individual human beings that have a duty to uncover those gems for ourselves.

Secondly, if we are not supposed to change the big-ticket items, who is determining them? Where do our unchangeable morals and values come from? We start off as children and are taught those things by our parents, teachers, friends and society. We should not be beholden to the values of other people that we were instilled in childhood, and never be able to think critically enough to decide them on our own.

Lastly, we are changing, whether we want to recognize it or not. Over time, your cells are changing. Your brain is changing. Your hormones are changing. Your body is changing.

Just like they do for every. other. species. on. planet. earth.

Even at just 30 years old, I’m changing rapidly. Being a business owner – especially during a pandemic – has been like an internal-change pressure cooker. We’re learning so much and learning to deal and endure so much that it is logistically impossible for us not to change. Change is still scary, but so is everything else. We have to learn to deal with fear and change in order to move towards a better world.

The next time someone says, “wow, you/she/he has changed!” I’m inviting myself to openly answer, “of course I/they have. That’s life. We’re supposed to change.”

If it Don’t Make Dollars, it Don’t Make Sense.

Let’s keep it real: businesses are designed to make money. Sure, there’s childhood dreams, life-long aspirations, passion, talent and love involved – but the purpose is positive cash flow. The whole idea is to make money in a different way.

Dreams & passion aside, we all need income to survive. To pay bills, keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. We don’t always like to talk about it, but it’s true.

When you start a business, the scariest leap is the financial one. Will this business make enough money for my life? Will I go into debt? Will I lose everything?

We were lucky that our business was pretty cheap to start. We had cleaning supplies, our real estate licenses, some software and a shared laptop in a one-bedroom apartment. That was it. As the business started to take shape, though, we constantly came up to the same obstacle:

This would be great for our business, but does it make financial sense to do so?

The answer to this question popped up as a lyric from one of our favorite groups: if it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.

We wanted so many things: a luxe office space, all organic, locally made cleaning products, sustainable/fair trade cotton linens, and a third person to help us out.

We settled for a new laptop, a cheap desk from Walmart, and generic cleaning products/linens from amazon. It was what made financial sense at the time, and it was absolutely the right choice.

Two years later, we’re moving into a beautiful three-bedroom home so we can have a proper office. We’re still working towards our third person, but for now, we’ve started contracting out the cleanings and laundry work, so we can focus on accounting and growth.

It’s what makes dollars and sense, where we are right now. And that’s what has empowered our business to grow and improve without putting us into debt.

So keep in mind – if it doesn’t make dollars, it doesn’t make sense. You have to put YOU and YOUR business first. Before all the partnerships, collaborations, and shiny, attractive services you can’t quite afford yet. It doesn’t mean you have to give up on what you really want – it just means that you have to take your time to get there.

PSA: Instagram is Not Real

How often do you see photos like this on Instagram? Big booty, tight waist, strong arms – but is it real? As someone that’s been hardcore into fitness for 5+ years, I couldn’t understand these images that  kept appearing on my feed – until I played around in front of the mirror and realized its just posing. Booty popped, an awkward twist in the waist, good lighting and a little bit of dehydration and BAM – insta-model approved.

I didn’t grow up in the age of Instagram, so I worry so much about the women and girls that see these images and believe they’re real life. I would never stand, sit, pose, squat or appear this way in person,  so while the photo is me, it is not TRUE TO LIFE. In simple terms, it’s not real.

Instagram can be a great place to showcase and normalize all kinds of bodies, which is why I personally choose to show photos of mine. But when you’re scrolling through your feed and come across an image that seems unachievable, keep these key points in mind:

1.      No two bodies are the same. Even if you eat, sleep, and train exactly like the girl in the picture, it is physically impossible for you to achieve the exact same results because of your (and her) unique size, shape, genes, body composition and metabolism.

2.      These images are often the result of perfect lighting, careful posing, angles, retouching, and even photoshop – not perfect people.

3.      Most of these people are professional models/bodybuilders/personal trainers, whose job is to be fit and look the part. You wouldn’t compare your ability to cook to that of a professional chef, right? So you can’t compare your body to someone who’s full time job is fitness.

4.      Most of these images are selling something. They are carefully curated to represent an ideal that’s unlikely (or impossible) to achieve in order to promote the protein powder/leggings/detox tea/personal training services being offered.

5.      Instagram is a highlight real. It does not, and cannot, depict real life.

6.      Everyone can physically, mentally, and emotionally benefit from exercise, regardless of their weight, size, shape, age, gender, ability, etc. Do not let the images on Instagram deter you from doing something great for you and your body, if that’s what you chose.

7.      Let me repeat it one more time: fitness is for and benefits EVERY BODY.

Okay, rant over.

 

Eating Vegan in San Fran!

During our one-week trip to California, we only spent two beautiful, glorious days in the big city of San Francisco. San Fran has always been known for its activism, openness, and emphasis on love and equality, coupled with its stunning natural beauty and penchant for the unique. From block-to-block, there’s no city in the world quite like it.

We knew we’d be spending a few short days in the city, so Terry had been amping me up about the gourmet vegan food world captivated within many of San Fran’s distinctive districts. We walked around the gorgeously forested Golden Gate Park, dotted with wild buffalo, museums, ice cream stands and winding storybook creeks and rivers.

Our first food stop was La Méditeranée in the Fillmore District, a family-owned Mediterranean restaurant that served up old-school Turkish coffee, homemade Baklava, and a full vegan menu. Open since the 70’s, the place was small, quaint and warm, with a flurry of friendly waitresses guiding us through the menu and to our table.

The waitress steered me toward the veganized Mediterrean plate, a standard hodgepodge of plant-based mid-east dishes. It featured grape-leaf Dolmas, baba gounesh, hummus, olives, mixed greens, and homemade falafel. The food was just as incredible as the atmosphere and service – straight-up perfect.

The next day we drove around the bright, rainbow-adorned Castro Dstrict and stepped through an alley of wall art, one of my favorite things to discover in a new city. Gigantic faces boldly declaring equality, unity, peace and love decorated every wall as we wound our way down the street and stepped out into the Mission District.

My friend was ecstatic to take us to Gracias Madre, an artsy tavern serving up organic, locally-sourced vegan Mexican dishes (say whaaaaat!). I was stoked to discover that they served a HORCHATA LATTE, two of my favorite things combined in one.

I was so in love with my mole enchiladas stuffed with potato and zucchini, black beans and kale that I could barely contain myself in public. My boyfriend also got cashew cheese nachos, which we’re definitely made and fried in-house. It’s been a few days and I am still super obsessed with this place!

I also grabbed some vegan ginger snap cookies from Hot Cookies, a quaint little cookie shop in the Castro District. We stopped there after a few drinks and a lot of dancing, and sadly, I forgot to take a picture.

I ate a quick, healthy breakfast at the hotel. After adventuring around the city, we drove through the Pacheco Pass, a long and windy northern California road that cuts through the region’s abundant farmlands. We stopped at a fruit stand to grab avocados, oranges, pickled garlic, eggplant and asparagus to grill at T’s mom’s house in Merced, our final destination. The prices were rock-bottom, and the fresh fruit was top-notch.

We spent the night in the quaint town of Merced, and woke up to an impressive spread of fresh fruit and locally baked bread laid out by T’s mom. I filled up on freshness and grabbed some snacks for the road back to Santa Cruz.

The last meal of our adventure was on the plane to Hawaii, after a long day of traveling. We took a bus from Santa Cruz to San Jose, then the BART to San Fran, an air train to SFO Airport, sprinted to our gate to catch a flight to LAX, then sprinted from our arrival in LAX to our plane departing to Honolulu.

It broke all my traveling rules – we didn’t stock up on enough snacks, we didn’t eat before getting on the plane, we didn’t drink enough water. We were starving, grumpy and lethargic on the plane, and decided to cave in and purchase food. I was stoked to find an all-vegan, non-GMO Tapas box from Delta. It was packed with gluten-free seeded crackers, quinoa and red pepper dip, hummus, almonds, organic dark chocolate, a lemon fig bar, and more. It was surprisingly cheap, filling and satisfying, and I was happy to vote with my dollars to keep the option around.

All in all, it was a busy and fulfilling trip that totally re-stoked my love for vegan food and rekindled my dedication to living a life of kindness. Thanks much, San Fran!

5 Keys to Happy, Healthy Travel

Whether your flight is early, late, short or long, it takes a lot out of us. Every time i see a plane land at the airport, it unleashes a hoard of tired, hungry, cranky, and dehydrated zombie-like humans that look effing miserable. If you’re trying to sustain a healthy lifestyle, flying can be even more daunting.

I’ve done my fair share of travel, and standby travel at that – so I’ve learned a lot of lessons the hard way. These 5 steps are easy, cheap, and help you stay happy and healthy no matter where you’re headed to.

1. BYOB

I know this one seems obvious, but it’s sooo easy to forget to byob when it’s 5am and you’re headed to the airport. Plus, airlines seem to barely even hand out water these days. I bring a full water and chug it on the way through security, then fill it back up and sip on that sizzard throughout the flight.

2. Bring Electrolytes

Not only do I bring a water bottle, I also bring an empty shaker bottle with an electrolyte packet to drink. Depending on how long the flight is, you might want to bring more than one. My personal rule is one packet per 5 hours of flight.

3. Snacks on SNACKS

Back in the good ole days, the airlines used to feed you. While they’re forced to feed you on international flights, you’re lucky if you get more than a packet of five mini-pretzels and 4 oz of water flying domestic. So, I keep myself stacked with items that won’t get taken away at security. My faves are fruits, veggies, hummus packs, Lara bars, protein packets, and nuts. I would not recommend bringing any nut butter – mine always gets taken away. Sad.

4. Melatonin is LIFE

I used to have the hardest time sleeping on planes, but was scared to take any sleep aid because most of them give me terrifying nightmares. Which, naturally, I don’t want to experience in the air.

However, personally, melatonin is my bestie during times of travel. On a 12-hour flight to china, I spaced them out so nicely that I slept for eight beautiful hours straight. For long flights, I like to take two 3-5mg tablets at first, and then take 1 every 4 or 5 hours as the flight goes on.

5. Bring a Book/Journal/Planner

I’m not sure why, but traveling – even en route – brings about a lot of clarity. There’s been many, many times when my electronics die or I’ve exhausted my playlists or the movie selection is lame (or not free) and I’ve wished I brought a damn book. Flights are a great place to plan out your day/week/trip/life, or catch up on a great book. BRING IT ALL.

The Body Positive Athlete

A friend asked me how you can be body positive and an athlete at the same time. It’s a great question, because I don’t think the two have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, they can go hand in hand, if that’s what you’re about! All you need are these key points:

✨all bodies are worthy or respect & love

✨athletic ability & health can’t be judged by appearance

✨athleticism and health doesn’t make anyone superior to another

✨movement should come from a place of joy, not punishment or sacrament

✨bodies are beautiful and capable of so much!

That’s literally it! Shifting to a body positive mindset allowed me to actually enjoy the activities I love – soccer, running, hiking, swimming. It disconnected me from the ingrained need to “work off” my food/weight and brought me back to a place of fun.

You Don’t Need a Makeover: Food Freedom Friday


You don’t need a makeover.
Yep, you read that right – no matter your weight, size, shape, gender or age, you DON’T need a makeover. The fitness/diet industry does. 


Imagine if you had a store that sold a single size of clothing – or offered a single, specified entree – or if Jamba Juice offered ONE smoothie?

It’s illogical to sell one specific item because we all know people are different. Some people like berries, some people like citrus fruits. Some people are short, others are tall. 

Yet, the diet and fitness industry gets away with selling us a single ideal per gender – a tall, muscular, chiseled and well portioned man, coupled with a slender, yet muscular, yet still distinctly feminine woman. And they make billions of dollars a year on the mere fact that the majority of the population is physically incapable of achieving the image they’re selling.


If you sell an unreachable image, customers will never stop buying. If we all looked perfect, why would we buy powders and pills and capsules and workout programs? There’s no money in the achievement; there’s money in the chase. 

So no, you don’t need a makeover. Healthy eating and exercise do yield a wonderful breadth of benefits, like increased energy, deeper sleep, higher dopamine and serotonin levels, better focus and cognitive function, improved digestive health, and the list continues. But being healthy looks different on every. single. person. Be you, and be healthy if you choose – but don’t let clever marketing and photoshop make the choice for you.

Finding Food Freedom


The interwebs is already a scary place, but the health/fitness/nutrition interwebs are both confusing and terrifying. On a daily basis, we’re bombarded with conflicting scientific studies championing one lifestyle while demonizing another. We’re affronted with a flurry of self-proclaimed ‘wellness experts’ with zero educational or scientific background, shouting from the social media rooftops that eating 30 bananas a day or all raw food or bone broth or organ meat is the answer to all of your health problems.

Sugar doesn’t cause diabetes; fat does! Sugar causes diabetes and cancer! Cut out carbs to cure that ‘mental fog’! All sugar is evil! Stevia is the sweetener we’ve all been looking for! Stevia is the same as all other sweeteners! 

The reason this industry succeeds in confusing every possible ingredient and/or food group is because Americans are easy prey. Most of us are sick, all of us have a family history of health problems, and nobody wants to bring on cancer because they couldn’t afford the organic spinach.

It’s something that has personally terrified me for as long as I can remember. As a slightly chubby kid and a curvy, muscular woman, the learned desire to not gain weight runs very deep. I want to be healthy, avoid chronic diseases and cancer, and not be crazy-stressed obsessive about food.

But, I am very obsessed with food. I’m terrified that my non-organic apples will fill my fat cells with scary toxins that will shorten my life. I’m concerned about getting enough protein; I’m alarmed by meat and dairy products. And, above all, I am very freakin confused.

A few days a go, I had a major food meltdown – which I didn’t even know was a thing, but it is. I’ve cried on the bathroom floor for many reasons, but so far, confusion over food has not been one of them; this time, though, it was.

I feel frustrated and betrayed by the general chaos and conflicting information thrown in my face every time I turn on the radio or tv, peruse podcasts, or scroll through Instagram or Facebook. More than that, I’m tired of these platforms toying with my deep-seated fears and emotions.

The truth is that I am an adult, and able to make my own choices. I innately know what’s best not only for my physical health, but my mental health as well. (Cuase that’s very important, too!) I don’t need anyone to tell me what’s right and wrong, because I’ve been living in this body my entire life. I know what it likes; what bothers it; what drives it crazy into a food meltdown.

Sorry, health and fitness industry – but I’ve got this.

Bye, Felicia.

 

Coconut Chase 8K & Injured Struggles


I had an awesome time at the Coconut Chase 8K last weekend, where I breezed through two easy, beautiful loops along Sand Island’s beautiful coast. Locals tend to think of Sand Island as the greasy, industrial peninsula that is is, for the most part. Unbeknownst to me, there’s a picturesque recreation area that runs along the southern tip that’s a runner’s idyllic dream.


I felt very on pace that day and watched the revived few miles fly by. Since the race was so short, I never had the deep sense of panic that surfaces during the early miles of half and full marathons. This was my first 8K and I felt strong, sexy and fast.

After I got my results, I was ecstatic to learn I placed 11th in my age/gender group and hit between an 8:30-8:57 mile pace the whole time. For me, that’s huge. I’m a naturally slower paced runner, clocking in 9:30-10 minute miles with pride and effort. So, I’m definitely doing my happy dance over this one 🙂


However, said happy dance is difficult given the injury that occurred very shortly after crossing the finish line. In typical all-or-nothing fashion, I went to play soccer and totally rolled my ankle. So much that I missed work and found it warm, buzzing, and swollen since that fateful wrong step.

I’ve spent the last few days going crazy not being able to run. I have another short but sweet 4.4-miler on Old Pali Road coming up on September 10th, followed quickly by my favorite race on the island – the XTerra Gunstock Ranch Trail Half Marathon in October. SO, I have a lot of healing and training to figure out in the very limited meantime.

My plan is to replace my runs with swimming and stationary bike workouts, coupled with physical therapy and weight lifting. Hopefully, I’ll be able to have more happy finish line moments in the next few months!

Happy Healing,
Nicole

Silver Fern Brand Review!

Let’s be honest – I’ve reviewed my fair share of products. From granola bars and energy gels to plant-based protein powders, I’ve had quite a time tasting, testing, reporting and reviewing the latest and greatest fitness food stuff.


While I usually enjoy the taste testing process (I mean, who wouldn’t?) it’s rare that I encounter a product that I truly love. And it’s especially rare that I encounter an entire box of a wide arrary of products and absolutely love and enjoy each and every one of them.

I got a big ol’ box of goodies from Silver Fern Brand, who I found – and was found by – on Instagram. First, I was wowed by the variety. From chocolate bark to probiotics (lots of probiotics), protein powder, and fiber – there it was, y’all.

I’ve suffered from digestive issues my entire life, so I was thrilled by the prevalence of prebiotics and probiotics in pretty much everything. The reason I eat the way I do – mostly gentle plants, soups, sweet potatoes and healthy fats – is because my poor tummy can’t handle much else.


So when you I get sent something like Silver Fern Brand’s Kai Meal Shake, it feels like Christmas. Taste-wise, this baby is smooth, simple and not too sweet (my flavor was banana) and is super easy on my very sensitive stomach. I actually found myself craving these shakes after my workouts and soccer games. It also has pro- and prebiotics crammed in, along with21 essential vitamins and minerals to make a well-rounded mini-meal. Hands-down, A+.


I’m also a huge fan of their Cenavi Chocoalte Bark, which was dotted with Cranberry, Blueberry and Ginger-y gems. This stuff tasted bomb, but had no added sugar or sugar alcohols, touts low calories and net carbs, and is a natural prebiotic. WIN.


Third favorite is a tie for the Wai Porbiotic Drink Mix and the Ulitmate Probiotic Supplement. Again, I have pretty serious tummy issues, so I try to take in as much probiotics as I can – but let’s be real, a girl can only eat so much Kimchi. The Wai drinks – which came in a breadth of yummy flavors – were all yummy, low in carbs and sugar, and not too sweet.


So, here’s the thing – Silver Fern Brand hooked it UP. And truthfully, honestly – their stuff is off the chain. It’s a relief to be taking in so many pre- and probiotics in a variety of ways, instead of scarfing down miso and plugging my nose at kombucha. I loved their products, and the honesty and simple, straight-up goodness. I’m really touched that I was able to try out such quality products! I absolutely recommend everything, and thank them for opening my eyes to awesome, yet wholesome, alternatives to keep my gut healthy and happy.

A+++++,

Nikki