Overview: Sakara Life

My original plan was to post each day of Sakara Life (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), but unfortunately my phone got replaced recently and failed to back up the last few photos I had on my other phone.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that I have a few photos left to share and some “last words” on the topic. First for the #eeeeeats… in no particular order.

Chocolate Love Muffin (Breakfast) – caramel (wildflower honey, almond butter, maple syrup, sea salt vanilla), crumb topping (oat flour, GF rolled oats, coconut milk, almond flour, coconut sugar, coconut oil, lemon juice, vanilla, baking soda, salt, cinnamon), garnish: raspberries, muffin (cauliflower, coconut milk, maple syrup, almond flour, coconut sugar, garbanzo flour, coconut oil, brown rice flour, millet flour, buckwheat flour, raw cacao powder, balsamic vinegar, chia powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, vanilla, xantham gum, salt, maca)

This was so good! I rarely eat baked goods for breakfast, but sometimes a treat (and a little chocolate) in the morning does a body good. With each meal that has a dressing/topping, they provide a lot of it. I rarely used all of the honey, dressing, sauce, etc.

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Sakara Earth Bowl (Dinner)– main (tricolor quinoa, beluga lentils), lotus root (lotus root, lemon juice, rice vinegar, tamari, black sesame seeds, toasted sesame oil), avocado (avocado, shelled hemp hearts, dulse), dressing (tahini, maple syrup, brown rice vinegar, tamari, dijon mustard ginger, black garlic, toasted sesame oil, cayenne pepper), garnish (mixed micro greens, watermelon radisn), salad (heirloom greens)

Every salad dressing they provided was amazing. I understand why they sell a separate sampler of all their dressings on their site. Also, their greens are flavorful and crisp. I’m definitely going to try and recreate some of their simpler meals like this one.

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Indian Spiced Samosas w/Sweet + Spicy Chutney (Lunch) – main (rice wrappers, baby kale, brown rice), filling (green peas, chickpeas, cashews, sunflower oil, carrots, baby kale, coconut flakes, white onion, turmeric root, seat salt, coriander seeds, cumin, mustard seeds, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom powder, cayenne pepper), garnish (coconut flakes), sauce (coconut milk, EVOO, pitted dates, lime juice, coconut oil, garlic, mint leaves, chillies, sea salt, ginger)

This was very different from anything that I would eat for lunch. Again, their flavors are incredible and dynamic. I followed their suggestion and heated this one up, which made it a lot more savory/less of a cold spring-roll type situation.

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Matcha Udon Bowl w/Yuzu Vinaigrette (Lunch) – dressing (yuzu, tamari, toasted sesame oil, sea salt, kochukanru), garnish (edible flower, white sesame seeds, shelled hemp hearts), greens (lacinato kale, shallots, EVOO, tamari, salt), noodles (brown rice noodles, toasted sesame oil, tamari, matcha green tea, white sesame seeds), salad (arugula, english cucumbers, watermelon radish)

I should’ve followed their advice and sautéed this. I think the dressing would’ve melded better with the arugula and noodles, but still delicious. Also, I learned about a new ingredients. Kochukaru is Korean chili powder. Sakara inspired by to pick up a bunch of new seasonings/things to make dressing with, such as tamari, walnut oil, sesame oil, and miso paste).

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Curry Bowl that I can’t find the description to… but I can tell you that it had broccoli, carrots, string beans, spinach, purple potatoes, wild rice, cabbage, and the curry sauce was made with coconut milk.

This was my favorite lunch by far. I love curry and lots of vegetables. If I were to eat a traditional curry, I think that I would be tired and sluggish after, but this one made me feel energized. I love how they use a variety of vegetables in each of their lunches and dinners, so I was never bored with what I was eating.

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What makes Sakara really special is their attention to detail. On each box, they write a sweet little note about the health benefits of a particular ingredient or how a certain dish originated. Reading a little about what I was about to eat reminded me to be cognizant and appreciative of what I was about to put into my body.

Additionally, the number of unusual ingredients they use in each dish to create complex and interesting flavors is astonishing. They could’ve just put raw Manuka honey with the chocolate muffin, but instead they made the effort to simulate a caramel flavor by using 5 different ingredients.

Changes I am going to make after what I learned on Sakara for a week:

  1. mostly vegetarian during the week and consuming wild fish, grass-fed meat, or certified humane eggs during the weekends
  2.  limiting snacks and eating three full meals a day
  3. sitting down and chewing without distractions
  4. adding lettuces to everything – greens, greens, greens!
  5. experiment with making my own interesting dressings

Review: Sakara, Day 1

I made it! I survived! I just ate my last dinner of my 5-day trial (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) of Sakara Life. To follow up my last post, I would like to make the next five posts visually heavy but text light. So, here is a list of my biggest takeaways from this personal eating experiment (followed up by a vegan’s food porn).

1) I can survive without animal meat/fish/eggs. This was a biggie for me. I workout 6/7 days of the week rotating between conditioning, HIIT, boxing, barre, yoga, cardio kickboxing… you get the idea. I’m very active and a big believer in the “protein 30 minutes after working out” rule. Also, I generally like to start my mornings with eggs or a protein shake. Sakara is pretty much vegan (even though they don’t state it outright and they do use honey in some dressings). I am aware that it is possible for vegans to get adequate protein, I just thought it involved eating buckets of lentils and beans. Apparently, Sakara founders have figured out how to pack a lot of protein into their meals using a variety of ingredients, such as seeds/nuts (hemp, cashews, almonds), grains (millet, quinoa, rice), vegetables (broccoli, kale, spinach), etc. I didn’t once feel tired (I’m on the cusp of anemia), weak, or un-satisfied during this week.

2)I don’t really need to snack. Sakara’s 3 daily meals are designed to provide an adequate amount of calories and nutrients. They believe that in between meals, your body should focus on restoring and digesting and that no food should be consumed. Besides a few bites of pasta and some carrots and hummus, I pretty much stuck to this rule. I’m one of those people that never feels truly hungry because I’m always eating. It was actually nice to really get hungry and then sit down to an incredibly satisfying meal.

3) Chewing is the biggest takeaway. Because I was only getting those three meals, I really tried to sit down and eat. And only eat. No texting, homework, talking, standing, walking… just sitting and chewing and tasting. Not only did my digestion improve, but I actually recognized when I started feeling (which was sometimes BEFORE I was finished eating [gasp!]).

4) Convenience. As you’ll see below, I rarely had an instance where I wasn’t eating the meals straight from their containers. I work two different jobs and take classes in the evenings. Not having to prepare food, but knowing that what I would be eating everyday was going to be nutrient dense, satisfying, and delicious, was a big plus.

5) Variety. I have never eaten such a range of different vegetable-based foods in one week in my life. My diet before was 90% Sweetgreen, protein shakes, and nuts, and 10% almond milk cappuccinos, pasta, and salmon. (I’m not joking.) This past week, I had a veggie burger for the first time (and didn’t hate it- it was actually delicious and pared with cashew cheese), udon noodles, roasted turnips, wild rice curry, chocolate muffins, chocolate granola, vegan “grilled cheese,” the list goes on… see below for day 1!

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Morning Water: Rose, Silica, Trace Minerals
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Avo-Cacao Probiotic Pudding + Lavender-Almond Tea Biscuit
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Daydreamer Soba Bowl
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Winter Sun Salad: kale, carrots, dried tart cherries, shelled hemp hearts, tricolor quinoa, thyme, EVOO, wildflower honey, sherry vinaigrette, dijon mustard, walnut oil, himalayan sea salt, garlic, brussels sprouts, balsamic vinegar, walnuts

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: SAKARA

Let me preface this post, I’ve never done a cleanse or meal plan before. That’s right, I’ve never fasted, drank soup or liquids for an extended period time, eliminated gluten, etc… you get the idea. The closest thing I’ve ever come to one is when I eliminated coffee, but no caffeine, for three months.

There is a reason for this. It’s not because I don’t have self-discipline, but rather I just don’t think cleanses are worth the effort. In most cases, they can do more harm than good.

On the flip side, I DO think eating healthfully – meaning whole, unprocessed food, no sugar or processed foods – is worth the effort. I think it’s a lifestyle change that can benefit any and everyone.

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I’ve been aware of Sakara for a number of years now. Started by Danielle DuBoise and Whitney Tingle. And Promoted by VS model Lily Aldridge and other IG influencers, Sakara is a plant-based, organic, superfood ingredient meal delivery service. It is gluten and dairy free with no processed sugars, harmful chemicals, preservative or additives. 

THIS (above) is my kind of eating. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that eating well is not about eliminating entire food groups or macronutrients (ie carbs), but rather nourishing your body with whole, real foods. It’s not about counting calories, but prioritizing the quality of the calories you’re consuming- meaning the fiber, protein, good fat, and complex carbohydrate content.

I’m a pretty healthy eater generally, but like most, when work, school, and life overwhelms us, our nutrition and mindfull-ness fall by the wayside.

Personally, I do a decent job getting my daily greens, avoiding sugar (for the most part), and consuming high quality fats and proteins. I wanted to try Sakara, because lately I’ve been consuming a lot of animal protein and protein shakes. To be clear, this is perfectly ok. However, I am knowledgable about factory farming and the antibiotics that are present in most of the meat we consume. It’s not only environmentally harmful – high energy and pollution costs – but also, it is difficult for our digestive systems to deal with these antibiotics and toxins.

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When I’ve tried to cut back on my meat intake in the past, my iron levels drop, I feel tired all the time, and I get dark circles. In Sakara’s “Pillars of Nutrition,” they state that “getting adequate protein is variety.” Their “meals are designed to provide more than enough protein (50-75 grams per day!) – and not just in the form of nuts, beans and seeds. Vegetables are also rich in amino acids, the building blocks of protein.” This tells me that when I had cut back on protein in the past, I wasn’t compensating by adding more protein-rich food sources. Since starting Sakara, I have yet to feel tired or low energy.

So, I’m two and a half days in to my five day body/mind experiment. And so far, I think I’m obsessed. To start, I don’t have to plan my meals. They are delivered three times in a week in a cooler bag in aesthetically-pleasing, recyclable plastic containers. Sakara is like the Equinox of meal plans – aesthetics and function go hand in hand.

Second, knowing that my three meals are nutritionally complete, I haven’t snacked AT ALL in between them. If you know me, you know that I LOVE to snack and I’m a big snacker. I can eat an entire bag of popcorn and call that a snack. However, snacking can lead to overeating and never feeling hungry in between meals. Sakara emphasizes the mindful aspect of eating. I’ve had (most of) my Sakara meals without the distractions of technology or people. I sit down and take my time. I chew my food fully before swallowing. I know what you’re thinking: we all know how to chew food. But no, I’m serious. I’m pretty sure I used to just put food in my mouth and swallow, because it takes me almost twice as long to finish my food now. And this is a good thing. I have less indigestion and my body actually recognizes when it’s full now – sometimes before I’m done with what I’m eating.

Over the next few days, I’m going to post photos, full ingredient lists, and my review of each Sakara meal I’ve had. I’ll rate my favorites and at the end of it let you all know my takeaway thoughts!

“My Body Experiment: Meat as Medicine”

This short piece by a Equinox trainer Derek Beres and his personal experience with food is an interesting follow up to my  last post.

“But one thing is certain: We don’t eat food as much as chemistry, and that is a problem. Food companies and the scientists and engineers they employ are concerned with the bottom line, not your health. Fads are their cash cow; misinformation is valuable.

Yet claiming that I eat a mostly plant-based diet with a healthy serving of organ meats and shellfish is not sexy. There is no trend to manufacture, no antioxidant or reverse-aging promises, no Amazonian or Tibetan superfood eaten only by monks and yaks. There’s no romanticizing of purity, as if food is an elixir guaranteeing vibrant health if only you can dial in (and pay for) the perfect diet.” 

Food Fact or Fad?

In my mind, the validity of health trends is comparable to news articles found in US Weekly- meaning, I believe neither to hold much factual weight.

I took a few nutrition courses while attending Smith College. I learned a lot about how the body works and what it needs to function properly, but the big takeaway was when the teacher told us that these textbooks we were using would be moot in a few years due to the ever-changing landscape of the health and nutrition industry. Scientists are constantly experimenting, testing, researching, and hypothesizing. They do labs involving test subjects and statistics, which culminate into major claims about certain food or food products.

Bone broth, fats, turmeric, coconut water, collagen, lemon water, etc… have all had (or are having) their time in the spotlight. “Health” has become a trend in and of itself, which has prompted food stores, restaurants, and brands to incorporate these trending ingredients into their products and subsequent marketing of them.

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That’s not to say that science is always wrong. Consuming these trending health foods will probably not harm you in any way. In fact, the claims are sometimes correct. Healthy fat is good for you –  the nutrients found in avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, and nuts have been scientifically proven to improve the quality of your hair and skin and lower your bad cholesterol, along with a number of other benefits. However, my concern comes from the claims that were founded through small study groups or outlandish hypotheses promoting the benefits of a certain food or food group. Usually, there are only one or two articles that come out if there isn’t a lot of science to back up the claims, but with social media these days. Even the most minuscule piece of news can make its way onto the main stage of digital platforms.

Not everyone has the time or interest to look into every healthy trend that pops up. We want to stay healthy, so we do what those do around us. We eat the avocado toast with gluten free bread and hot sauce while sipping our bullet proof coffee because that’s what the countless “health” bloggers are advising us to do. Because butter in coffee is proven to do what exactly? And what is the science to back that up? And has there even been enough time to prove what the longterm benefits of doing that are?

A few days ago, it came out in the news that turmeric has not actually been proven to do anything positive for our health or wellbeing (besides dye our towels and hands orange). And you know my thoughts on bone broth

My point of this post/ramble is to be mindful and wary of trending ingredients or food items. Inform yourself, do the research, be particular and unique about what you choose to put into your body. I’m not saying smoothie supplements such as maca or pearl are going to harm you in any way, but you might as well save that $10 you’re about to spend on bone broth and put it towards a whole roasted chicken because WE KNOW protein is good for you.

When in doubt, stick to the (Michael) Pollan way. “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

Workout Class Review: Rumble (NYC)

Not to brag, but I think I’m at a point in my fitness-confidence level to pretty much try any workout, alone, for the first time. TRX, Crossfit, HIIT, Pilates, Hot yoga… You name it, I’ve pretty much tried it or something similar. In New York, I have access to studios that specialize in a particular form of workout – SLT, ModelFit, Barry’s Bootcamp, 305, Shadowbox, Y7, etc.

I’m what some might call a fitness class junkie. I have never experienced a “runner’s high,” but I have experienced a “group-fitness-class high.” I have exceeded my fitness limits by having instructors push me to “failure” in new workouts. I’ve found that my body is happiest when I’m never doing the same workout. And studies show that variety in exercise is a good way to prevent your body from that dreaded plateau. And for me, changing it up just keeps me coming back because it’s always a new experience, new music, and new people.

That’s why I was super interested to read about a new class, RUMBLE ,that involved a sport/workout that I rarely do and had already planned to do more of in 2017. Boxing is a sport that I find more intimidating than the rest. I’m not sure why, but it could be because there is a level of technique involved that I have yet to perfect. I’m a little bit competitive with myself when it comes to working out. I like to have perfect form, sweat buckets, and not be able to stand in order to feel like I truly worked out. Ok, so exaggerating a little, but you get the idea. There are very few group boxing classes that I feel challenge me physically, are fun, and are worth every cent. Because did I mention, these classes can run up to $45 a pop!

Rumble Breakdown:

  • Founded by four entrepreneurs: Noah Neiman, Eugene Remm, Andy Stenzler, and Anthony DiMarco. Each with an impressive and varied resume.
  • What kind of workout is it? A combination of HIIT, strength training, metabolic conditioning (METCON), and cardio.
  • 10 Rounds, 45 Minute total – alternate between bag and floor work (two rounds each).
  • Marketing on point. Think cute/cool (pick your adjective) gloves, Basquiat at the entrance (it’s real), dark room with bomb music. (And the instructors are all pretty much instagrammable/insta-famous in the fitness world.)
  • For beginners? Absolutely. The nice thing about boxing is that it’s dependent on how much you give. It’s you and the bag. There’s no treadmill telling you to continue running at 9 mph for 30 minutes. It’s a series of hooks, jabs, undercuts that you can dole out as fast and as hard as you feel you can. The conditioning or floor half of the class is dependent on weights and body weight.
  • Safe? Their bags are filled with water instead of sand, which is better for your wrists and hands.

I walked away feeling challenged and energized. Hitting a bag with all your body weight to great music in a darkly-lit red room is (in one word) therapeutic. 

If you’re not convinced already to try out this new class. I’ve added a few links below to inspire you!

RUMBLE WANTS TO TOTALLY CHANGE HOW YOU THINK ABOUT BOXING WORKOUTS

Vogue: Why Boxing May Be the Best Way to Break Out of a Fitness Rut This Year

The New Workout: Boxing Without the Bruises

Why You Should Box

And then some visual inspiration:

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Southpaw
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Muhammad Ali
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Gigi Hadid (Well + Good) `

 

Bad to the Bone (Broth)

So, lately, I’ve been hearing and seeing a lot about bone broth – the avocado toast of the winter! (Just kidding, we’re all still eating avocado toast.) Places like Springbone and Brodo in New York have started serving this warm (and apparently, life-giving) liquid in to-go cups for $5-$11 a pop!

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Hemsley and Hemsley

I was a little confused when I started seeing blog-posts about “how to make your own bone broth,” because isn’t it just soup? Like chicken soup, minus the chicken, etc.?

I’m not a big-believer in all-healing foods. I think that green juices are a great way to get some extra vitamins in, but eating a big (fiber-filled) salad can provide you with the same (and more) nutritional value. I think taking a wheatgrass shot when you’re sick is not as effective as the old-fashioned “drinking a lot of water and sleeping” cure.

But I am one to try new things AND do my research before forming an opinion on something. So, I did some investigating to see if this magical beverage is in fact the millennial’s penicillin.

What I found out:

  • There is not a lot of science backing the benefits of bone broth.
  • There is no one standard recipe, therefore nutritional content varies.
  • Believed to heal and restore collagen (structural protein found in connective tissue), but the collagen in the broth probably doesn’t have any effect on YOUR bones.
    • Basically, collagen is broken down into amino acids and your body decides where to use those protein building blocks.
    • Plants are actually a more complete source of collagen. (Going back to my salad point.)
  • The vitamins and enzymes get denatured by heating the broth.
  • Bone broth COULD be beneficial for your immune system IF made from chicken bones.
    • So, having chicken soup made from real broth (not stock cubes) could slightly reduce inflammation or help respiratory infections.
  • Good for athletes because it replenishes the electrolyte sodium.
    • Another takeaway – broth is high in sodium. If you want to avoid bloating before your holiday party, I wouldn’t suggest broth as a pre-game drink.

Summary: Bone broth is a food trend that has accumulated a decent amount of crafty marketing. Don’t be fooled by the hype.

BUT, it is not BAD for you. So, if you like the taste and you need a cold-weather alternative to coffee, hot chocolate, or tea, then broth away!

(Source: NPR, Time)

Recovering from Thanksgiving

Happy day after Thanksgiving! If you did it right, you should still be in bed recovering from a food coma. You might have a slight stomach ache, headache (probably from dehydration), and lethargy.

Some suggestions to quickly recover from this Thanksgiving hangover:

HYDRATE – Between the sugar from the pie, sodium from the gravy, and sugar and alcohol from the red wine, you are probably massively dehydrated. Drinking water will wake up your digestive system and begin to mediate your headache. If you’re feeling groggy, try to avoid going straight for that foamy double cappuccino. Caffeine narrows your blood vessels and increases blood pressure, which both make your headache and hangover much worse. On the flip side, if you’re a regular coffee drinker (like me) then you’ll probably want to have a little caffeine (tea) because caffeine-withdrawal can also cause you to have a painful headache that feels like a hangover. Processed with VSCO with a9 preset

MOVE – I know this is the most annoying tip, but even a 30 minute walk in some fresh air can be extremely restorative. And I’ve found that once you get started and feel more awake, you’ll feel benefits will outweigh the work. For digestion, I suggest doing some yoga twists or inversions.

EAT NORMALLY – There are two things I’ve known people to do after a big meal, eat nothing or continue to eat large portions. You might be surprised to find that you’re hungry the morning after Thanksgiving. This is actually to be expected, because your stomach has been slightly stretched due to the size of your last meal. Don’t worry, once you go back to eating normal portions it will shrink back to normal. This is where I suggest NOT having that piece of pie for breakfast. Not only will the refined carbs and sugar spike your blood-sugar levels causing you to feel jittery and unfocused for the rest of the day, but you will also probably be hungry again within an hour. The basic science behind this is that an insulin surge interferes with leptin, the hormone that sends a signal to your body to stop eating. Start your day with protein, good fats, and some leftover roasted sweet potatoes or other veggies. If you’re still craving that pie, I guarantee you’ll have a smaller piece and feel more satisfied after.

DON’T STRESS – Relax, enjoy your family, and enjoy good food. One meal will not make you fat, just like one salad won’t make you skinny. Continue to be thankful that you have this really cool body that has all these very-normal, human reactions!

Supplements

Similar to my skincare routine, when it comes to what I put into my body I follow the “less is more” motto. I’m not talking about eating less but rather eating fewer non-food substances, such as additives, preservatives, processed ingredients, or medical “extras” like painkillers (Advil, Tylenol, etc.) or supplements. However, there are a few dietary supplements that I’ve started taking this year out of semi-necessity.

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IRON – I’ve been on and off anemic for awhile now. I eat a lot of fish, eggs, chicken, and a small amount of red meat, but apparently my body is just pre-determined to be iron deficient. There are two types of iron found in foods, heme and nonheme, heme iron is highest in foods such as chicken liver, beef kidneys, and oysters. Generally, dark meat has more heme iron than light meat. I take Ferrett’s Iron Tablets (as recommended by my doctor).

VITAMIN C – Other non-meat sources of iron contain nonheme iron, which isn’t absorbed as easily by your body. Nonheme iron is found in vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and egg yolks. Vitamin C is a supplement to the iron supplement, because it helps release more iron from these nonheme sources. Additionally, vitamin C prevent phytonutrients from inhibiting nonheme iron absorption. I take Dr. Clark Store Vitamin C. 

PROBIOTICS – This supplement is trending lately.  but I started using it about six years ago when I started traveling a lot and switching timezones often. I would take one in the morning and one in the evening to reset my body clock. Probiotics. Gut health is extremely important and if not properly regulated can cause inflammation, sickness, and digestive diseases. Probiotics are the bacteria lining your digestive tract. They support your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Everyone is born with gut bacteria, however chemicals in our environment and in the food we ingest kill off probiotics and can end up damaging your digestive tract. For this reason, everyone could use a probiotic supplement. I take Florastor twice a day.

BIOTIN/VITAMIN B7 – This vitamin is part of the vitamin B complex that is responsible for metabolic, nerve, digestive, and cardiovascular health. Biotin acts as a coenzyme that metabolizes fatty acids, amino acids, glucose found in macronutrients into readily available energy to carry about proper functions such as the maintenance of our nails, skin, and hair health. Biotin is found in organ meats, eggs, avocado, berries, fish, legumes, etc., but I’ve found that when I take the supplement my nails grow faster and my hair is shinier. It’s difficult to consume too much iron because biotin is water-soluble and therefore eliminated in the urine. Therefore, regular supplementation of biotin is not harmful because your body doesn’t store it. I take Nature Made Biotin. 

These supplements are what I’ve been prescribed by a doctor. Everyone is built differently, so I wouldn’t suggest using supplements just because your friend or family member is. If you have a deficiency or reoccurring symptoms of some kind, I would consult your physician and see what he or she recommends you supplement with. Generally, if you eat a variety of foods and limit the chemicals in your diet then you should be fulfilling your daily vitamin and nutrient needs.

An Ode to Sleep

“We spend about one third of our lives in a state of repose, defined by relative behavioral immobility and reduced responsiveness to external stimuli. Cumulatively, this amounts to several decades’ worth of sleep over the lifetime of an average person. Ah, I know you’re thinking, Wouldn’t it be great if we cut down on this “wasted” time to be able to do more! When I was younger, I, too, lived by the motto “You can sleep when you’re dead.” But I’ve woken up to the fact that for optimal, long-term physical and mental health, we need sleep.” (Source: Scientific American.)

I am obsessed with sleep. Although I am not a great sleeper to begin with, I consciously plan my night so that by the time my head hits the pillow, my body is prepared to fall into a deep slumber. I think I’m too aware of how 8-10 hours a night can benefit the body and mind. And I notice a distinct difference between 8-10 hours and 6-7 hours a night (which is not enough for me, personally).

Without a good night sleep, I am:

  • less productive and slower at getting tasks done
  • have difficulty concentrating
  • less articulate when speaking
  • lack coordination during exercise
  • moody and stubborn
  • snack more and generally eat unhealthily
  • have dark circles under my eyes

These are symptoms that I’ve observed in myself, but there is scientific evidence to back up these claims. When I’m fully rested, I wake up with that “can take on the world” can-do attitude. I feel bright-eyed and excited for the day ahead. The difference in how I feel without sleep is seriously night and day (pun intended).

How to wind down and prepare for a good night’s sleep:

  • exhaust the mind and body during the day through exercise and mental stimulation (aka work)
  • eat 2-4 hours before going to sleep
  • don’t look at electronics 1 hour before going to sleep
  • read in bed
  • drink a non-caffeinated tea, such as chamomile or peppermint, but do so an hour or two before sleeping (so you don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom)
  • invest in blackout shades and try to make your room as dark as possible
  • turn off any buzzing/ringing of your phone and place it somewhere away from where you are sleeping
  • make sure your room is cool, but not too cold that your body can’t get comfortable
  • invest in earplugs or a sound machine (Waves app is a good one) if you are a light sleeper and sensitive to sounds

Sleep. Just do it.