Five Essential Vitamins Your Body Needs

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Over the past couple of months, I have started to really pay attention to everything I put in my body. As an athlete, I was constantly taking medicine and other things I was given to get rid of aches, pain and honestly just frustration. Many of these issues I thought were from the impact and overuse of my body, but some of these issues stemmed from a lack of proper nutrients. Until recently, I had never created a routine of consistently taking vitamins and was not aware of the insane benefits that they provide.

Vitamins and minerals simply have the power to totally change your body, mindset and allows you to function properly. Vitamin deficiency can lead to health issues such as muscle pain, fatigue and tiredness, constantly getting sick, depression, acne and breakouts ext. the list in endless.

With so many vitamin brands and supplements out there in the media, it is hard and overwhelming to even process what you should we be taking. Below is a list of daily vitamins that I take every morning and have not only worked for me but have super good proven benefits.

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Daily Vitamins:

  • Magnesium

For those of you who constantly feel overwhelmed and stressed, try adding some magnesium to your diet. Magnesium is an essential nutrient that helps the body maintain high energy levels. It is important for people who are active and workout because without it, your body will become irritable and tired. Magnesium also helps to control anxiety. It aids in nerve and muscle function, helps stabilize blood glucose levels and supports a healthy heart. Side effects of magnesium deficiency include anxiety, irritability, memory issues and fatigue. Although there are a few different ways you can take this, I take it as a powder called CALM  which is a great way to absorb enough Calcium and Magnesium, and it tastes good!

  • Calcium

Although calciums main function if providing nutrients to build strong bones, it is also essential in protecting against sickness. After taking a blood test early this year, it showed that I was super deficient in Calcium. Over the past year I stopped eating dairy, which could be apart of it, so it’s super important for me to use supplements and vitamins to achieve the correct level that my body needs. Side effects of calcium deficiency include weak bones and teeth, muscle spasms, depression, brittle nails, and fatigue. As I mentioned above I take a supplement called CALM, and pour it in a glass of water every morning.

  • Vitamin D

The sunshine vitamin! Vitamin D plays a vital role in our health yet half the population is deficient! Although soaking up the sun does give you some of the nutrients you need, many times it is not enough. This can lead to symptoms such as back pain, fatigue, chronic muscle pain, depression, and getting sick. This vitamin also plays an essential role in calcium absorption, which is vital for strong bones. Vitamin D can be derived from the sun, but can also be consumed through food and vitamins.

  • Vitamin C

The power of this vitamin not only makes you feel good, but it boosts your immunity and fights off bacteria entering your body. It is essential your body has enough of this while fighting off a cold and helps prevent you from getting sick. Vitamin C is also essential for glowing skin, as it supports collagen production.  This is one of the most important daily nutrients that should be taken every morning for overall better health.

  • Omega 3

Fatty acids are trending right now in our media, as people are consuming large amounts of salmon, nuts, and plant oils. There is a reason for this! Fatty acids are the building blocks for brain cells, this is because they bind to cell membranes and increase fluidity in the brain. It is basically one of the most important things you can feed your brain. Not only does it provide you with energy, but it also allows your skin and hair to flourish.

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How to Stay Healthy while Studying Abroad

1.)       Walk- One of the best things while studying abroad is the amount of walking you do. The first time I was abroad I walked everywhere I went. I had a metro pass but it was much easier to get around on foot. I gave myself extra time in the mornings and it became normal to walk at least 7-8 miles a day. Even if you have an unlimited metro card, make sure you make time in your day to walk around the city. It is a good source of exercise and keeps your body healthy. Incorporate this into your daily schedule and you will see results.

 

2.)       Join a gym– Over the summer I studied abroad for 5 weeks in the Czech Republic. The weather was amazing and since I wasn’t there for long, I decided not to join a gym. At first, I was constantly going on runs through the city, but this began to fade over time. This time around I made it one of my priorities to join a gym. I did some research and found an amazing gym a few blocks from my house. I went ahead and bought a 4-month plan, for the entire time I am here. In my opinion, when you are paying for a membership, you are more inclined to go. I highly suggest joining a gym if you are studying abroad for more than a month. Many offer student discounts and come with a lot of perks, including spas and saunas.

 

3.)       Stock your kitchen with healthy snacks – One thing that I started to notice in college is that if there are snacks around, I will eat them. So the best thing to do is either do not buy them or stock up on healthy snacks. Since I have been in Europe I find myself eating WAY more chocolate than I ever would at home. If you’re strolling down the unhealthy isle at the grocery store, restrain yourself. You might get midnight cravings or a sweet tooth but if you don’t have anything to cure it, you won’t eat it.

 

4.)       Cook your own meals– I cannot emphasize this enough. Learn to cook before you travel across the world by yourself. This will not only save you money, but it will make you feel way better about what you are putting into your body. Although it is fun to go out to eat, this can get tiring after a while. You are aware of exactly what you are putting into your food and you won’t be as tempted to order something unhealthy off the menu.

 

5.)       Save the “splurge” for the weekend– Most weekends during studying abroad are typically spent visiting other cities. This means you will be eating out way more and trying all the best local foods. During the week try to eat as healthy as you can and restrain from empty calorie meals that really aren’t worth it. Each city offers something totally new and the food is definitely worth trying. At home during the week, stick to salads and low-calorie meals so that you can splurge all you want on the weekends.

 

6.)       Drink water- When people say, “wine is cheaper than water” they are not joking. Don’t get me wrong, for the first week in Europe this was amazing. But soon this started to hit me hard. I was constantly dehydrated and my body was feeling it. Make sure to always bring a water bottle around with you no matter what. It is a lot cheaper to buy disposable water bottles than it is to buy water at meals so I suggest stocking up on those at the grocery store. You NEED to be drinking water especially since you are drinking alcohol and doing a lot more walking than usual. It will get annoying constantly paying for water, but the money is worth it.

 

7.)       Bring vitamins- Unfortunately, I figured this out the hard way during my first study abroad experience. After my first couple of weeks exploring Prague, I started to feel very depleted all the time. Although the food wasn’t totally doing it for me, my body was reacting to something else. I soon started to realize I hadn’t been taking my iron pills. The second time around I made sure I had enough vitamins for the full time I was here. Although vitamins are small, it does have a strong effect on your body. Trust me on this one, just bring some.

 

8.)       Take advantage of good weather- Studying abroad in the spring can be a bit difficult when it comes to weather. Every day is honestly a mystery and it is never clear what the weather will be like. Every once in a while you are blessed with a random warm day, so take advantage of this. Walk to school instead of taking the metro, find a park and bring your computer to do some work. It will surprise you how much your body appreciates some fresh air every once in a while.

 

 

Whole30 College Edition

 

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After an entire summer of traveling Europe, trying every kind of food possible and not doing much working out, I came back to school and needed a major cleanse. My mom and sister had done whole30 over the summer and looked freaking amazing. So the day I got back from Hawaii, I started the 30 days. Now that I have finished I thought I would recap on my struggles, give recommendations for college students and just share some of my thoughts on the experience.

What is Whole30?

Well to start, Whole30 is a 30-day restrictive dietary program that aims to eliminate all potential inflammatory foods and beverages. This means no added sugars, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy products, beans, soy products, as well as ANY processed foods. So say goodbye to pasta, bread, sushi etc. So you must be thinking, WTF can I eat?

– Proteins, veggies, fruits, and healthy fats.

First Week of Whole30 in College

The thing about this diet is you can’t half-ass it. You go all in or it simply won’t work. Lemme tell you… this is really hard when you’re in college and there is alcohol everywhere. The first three or four days were for sure the hardest. Your body is not used to the diet yet so you still have intense cravings for unhealthy snacks. I had to constantly make myself busy and avoid going near the kitchen. After the 4th day, my body honestly stopped craving food. I am SUCH a foodie so I never thought this would be possible. I started eating meals for energy, not because I wanted food. Whole30 calls it, “taming your sugar dragon” and I swear it works.

 Meals

Because I no longer live in the dorms, I have access to a kitchen, which let me tell you is a GAME CHANGER. The best part of me starting this diet was that I was forced to learn how to cook. Before this, I only really knew the basics. After this month I expanded my options and became quite the chef. Here are some yummy meal choices that I used over the past month.

 

Breakfast:

  • Poached eggs on half an avocado
  • Egg hash (Eggs, Spinach, onion, whole30 sausage)
  • Sweet Potato Toasts
  • Sunnyside up eggs with Whole30 bacon

Lunch:

  • Spaghetti Squash with ground turkey meat and whole30 marina sauce (sugar-free)
  • Teriyaki Chicken bowl (coconut amino)
  • Salads
  • Chicken and vegetable meal prepped container

Dinner:

  • Everything but bagel chicken wings with green beans
  • Burgers in lettuce (bun) with primal kitchen ketchup and sweet potato fries
  • Chicken lettuce wraps
  • Zucchini noodles with grilled shrimp

 

Week Two and Three

 By the second and third week, your body is used to eating clean. I no longer craved sweets, I was able to be around food that I couldn’t eat, and it honestly did not phase me. The one struggle I had, as any college kid probably would, was not drinking. Syllabus week was tough, but if you say strict I promise it’s worth it. What I did however notice was by week 3 I was not as excited to spend the night cooking meals. I began running out of groceries and didn’t have as much time to cook. This meant that meal prepping was super key.

 

Week Four

So close… but still so far. By week four I was used to the diet and I still did not have cravings, but I did start realizing how close I was to having a margarita & chips and guacamole. I had to really stay focused on making it to day 30. My school also had their first football game that weekend, so holding back from drinking was really hard. But I was determined.

Finally after 30 days of no sugar, no carbs, no drinks… I did it. And it feels so good.

 The Positives

Now that I am officially done with whole30 I can recap on everything I enjoyed over the past month.

  • After I hit the two-week mark my skin was glowing. I don’t know if it was because I stopped eating dairy, but my skin was insanely clear.
  • You stop craving bad food. This might have been the most shocking part for me. In the span of 30 days, you eliminate the need to constantly eat.
  • You feel energized throughout the day.
  • You learn how to cook and get creative with food.
  • You lose a ton of weight.

The Negatives

  • You quickly learn how to function without certain foods so it can be hard on your body when you start incorporating them back into your diet. (blog coming soon)
  • You realize how much sugar is in everything you eat, so it never sounds quite as appetizing.
  • After you start eating normally, your cravings come back.

Eating out

Try having a D1 athlete as your boyfriend who is trying to GAIN weight. This makes it very difficult when I’m trying to eat super clean and he is carb loading. What I found was on this diet it’s kind of hard to eat out. Don’t get me wrong, it’s doable but you WILL be that annoying girl at a restaurant who makes a million requests and substitutes all sides for salad (with no dressing.) The easiest way to get through these 30 days is to simply cook for yourself. You know exactly what is going into each dish, which eliminates hidden ingredients.

Workouts

My weekly routine typically consists of 5 to 6 workouts a week. Yes, I know this is more than most college kids, but after being a D1 athlete it was just a routine that my body was used to.

However, the first week I started whole30 I had just gotten a Brazilian blowout and a new tattoo, which means no sweating for 5 days. So, for the first week, I did not work out once. And guess what…I saw insane results. Usually, after burning 600 calories, I am constantly hungry throughout the day. This made it very easy for me to cut down on food and I noticed my legs got super slim. Within the first two weeks, I shed 6lbs. Once I began Orange Theory again I needed more food throughout the day.

 The Scale

I have a very bad habit of relying on the scale to give me results. At the start of this diet, I weighed myself every few days. During whole30 you are supposed to stay away from the scale, but I honestly couldn’t help it. However, throughout the 30 days, I stopped getting the urge to do so. By the end, I felt so amazing and didn’t need a number to reassure me.

 Tips

To sum it up, here are a few tips that will help you survive whole30

  • Keep Lara bars on you at ALL times
  • Learn to love eggs
  • Meal prep on Sundays
  • Pay the extra money for primal kitchen condiments
  • Constantly look at labels, even if you assume there is no sugar, there usually is!
  • Choose a month that you are not super busy (& not during football season)