60 Days of Celery Juice: Here’s What Happened

Heller, BBs! In this post we are going to get REALLLL PERSONAL. So, if you are looking for in-depth rawness regarding the past 60 days, keep on reading!

For the past year and a half, I have been sharing my journey with IBS-C via IG: @_jasminvanessa and here on the blog. But for the first time in the past 8 years since diagnosed with IBS, I have FINALLY found what has actually worked… read on.

For reference, IBS, also known as: Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a chronic intestinal disorder that causes pain, bloat, gas, diarrhea, and or constipation. In my case, I have IBS-C, Irritable Bowel Syndrome with constipation but some people suffer from both. Flare-ups could be triggered by food, trapped toxins AKA constipation and/or life stressors/anxiety. About 6-7 days of the week, my stomach flared up, to what my mom even said, was larger than any of her full-term pregnancies. I would literally not be able to zip up the very pants I wore going into a dinner. One bite of a trigger food (onions, garlic, tomato, cabbage, etc) was enough to have a 10-12 hour flare-up, where gas and cramps were non-stop the entire time. There would be multiple days where I could not use the restroom, and even if I was hungry, I knew there was little room in there to consume any more space. Some weeks, I would try multiple laxatives, fiber powder, eat as many fruits and veggies as I could, and still have no success.

It is a silent disease with little research and understanding. It is also, rarely talked about as there is no definitive cure and lets be honest, a fairly uncomfortable topic as it deals with your stool. However, it can be manageable-ish***. In fact, there are so many IBS sufferers out there, “managing” their daily pains, who are not even aware that their conditions fall under IBS. For reference, I was diagnosed with IBS at 18 years old, however medications and commercials for gut health said to help manage the conditions, are all usually geared towards the elder audience. I am by far the youngest patient whenever I go into my GI appointments, go figure! So I am so pleased I was able to share my journey with so many of my fellow peers, because IBS is wayyyy more common than we think! And although we are young, we are certainly not suffering alone.

This illness, of course, affects your physical health but most importantly your mental health. You feel trapped in a body that does not bring you peace. Literally ingesting anything is a gamble! So many nights are sleepless due to the pain, and almost every meal no longer seems enjoyable. It is an incredibly frustrating disease because the human body: eats, sleeps, and poops, so when this disease or really any other GI condition basically robs you of all 3 basic functions, it can feel hopeless!

So, from deep deep experience, celery juice has been a legitimate healer in my life!

Read on to learn how:

FAQ: 

  1. Q: What are the main benefits of juicing celery? 

                AHEALS AND ACTIVATES GUT:

    • PC Answer: Celery Juice acts as a healer to the digestive system, activating and relining the gut.  It helps us metabolize quicker, and restores the acid, riding of the bad bacterias, and assisting the break downs more efficiently.
    • Real AF Answer: IT WILL MAKE YOU SHIT A TON MORE. During my first 21 days, I would nearly have to run to the restroom, minutes after drinking. I became extremely regular, going 3-5 times a day! For an IBS-C sufferer, that is only a dream! Especially during travel, my ability to use the restroom successfully was almost a joke! Often times, not even the strongest of laxatives worked. So juicing, basically serves as a natural laxative, without the pill! FIBROUS AF!

                B.  REDUCED BLOAT/FLARE-UPS:

    • PC Answer:  Celery Juice is an anti-inflammatory: It’s properties are known to  ease nerves and reduce fluid retention. By producing better stomach acids, it    eases the uncomfortable symptoms like gas, pressure, and fullness. IBS-C flare- ups can be caused by the several reasons listed above, however, with finally being more regular, the “constipation bloat” essentially disappears.
    • Real AF Answer: Now, of course, food triggers are usually triggers for the long- haul but I did notice that foods that once upset my belly, had less potency after drinking celery juice on a daily basis. If I accidentally missed to pick out, lets say, an onion, out of my dish, prior to celery, I’d have to prepare for WWIII. I mean 8-12 hour flare ups, potent gas for hours, and cramps that felt like child birth. Where as now, if I swallowed a piece of onion on accident (true story) I’d maybe be bloated for 1-2 hours, and likely would be able to use the restroom and relieve the pain a bit! I mean, I went to bed looking well over 9 months preggo from 6-7 nights a week, to maybe 1-2 nights tops…SOLELY because of a food trigger bloat, and NOT due to constipation bloat. PRAIISE JESUS!

  C.  GREAT FOR YO’ SKIN:

    • PC Answer:  Since celery juice alkalizes, it not only cleanses your body of toxins, but also the blood stream…reflecting in your skin! With improved blood flow and circulation paired with celery’s antioxidant properties, you and your skin are receiving tons of electrolytes, balancing the pH levels, increasing it’s overall hydration.
    • Real AF Answer: Although, my skin has been great to me this year, I will say that since juicing celery, my skin feels more hydrated than it did before. If I didn’t lather my face in Vitamin E oil, my skin and it’s hydration wasn’t that forgiving, where as now,  I can commit skincare suicide and fall asleep on the couch, without doing my full nighttime skin routine, and still wake up feeling hydrated!

               D. INCREASED ENERGY 

    • PC Answer:  Since celery helps the break down of protein and fat, you’ll likely  also feel a boost of energy!
    • Real AF Answer: I feel way less sluggish! If you are used to having a morning coffee, I can guarantee you, that by swapping these two, you will see a difference in feeling a natural energy boost. Since I workout in the AM, right before drinking celery juice, the combo basically sets the tone for a productive morning! No more laying in bed, with a heating pad right on my belly, trying to rid the 12 hour flare-up that stole my entire night’s worth of sleep!

      2. Q: When should I drink it and how much? 

    • A: It is best to drink 10-16oz (2-5 hearts, depending on size) in the morning on  an empty stomach. Also, be sure to wait 30 mins before consuming breakfast or any other foods. 16oz is suggested but especially during the first 30 days, more than 10 oz at a time, would scream a run to the restroom, like IMMEDIATELY! Now, after 60 days, since my body has stabilized a bit, I am able to drink the full amount without the theatrics and simply remain regular throughout my days. But I say, if you are in REAL need of beginning this journey with juicing and are FOS (sorry, but like actually), give your body some time to adjust and detox, as it probs needs it desperately. It won’t always be a running to the restroom, type situation…your body will adjust! So you can def work your way up, with serving size!

3. Q: Should I add other veggies or fruits to the juice blend? 

    • A: No! Adding any other ingredients to the juice will dilute it’s medicinal properties as each vegetable and/or fruit serves different functions. When added to it, celery juice is essentially denatured. I used to make several juice combos, including celery into those blends, but I NEVER saw the benefits that I do now, with juicing celery on it’s own. Also be sure to stray away from adding water or ice! Plain celery juice is best!

4.  Q: What juicer do you recommend and how do I prep it?

    • A: I’ve been using my Breville JE98XL Juice Fountain Plus 850-Watt Extractor    (click to shop) for over a year now and love it! Affordable, easy set up, not too noisy, and quick break down! Plus, it does a good job of maintaining some pulp (many juicers tend to extract it all) which is where most of your fiber lies! Whether you are using a juicer or a regular blender, you want to ensure you wash the celery thoroughly! I can not even tell you how many bugs I’ve found between stalks! I like to chop off the base and the top of the stalks, feed the washed celery through the feeding tube, and drink immediately. If you are using a traditional blender, you would follow the same techniques, however, consider using a nut milk bag to strain/remove any large chunks from the juice.

5. Q: Can I prep the juice in advance for the week? 

    • A: You can but it is not ideal! It is best to drink the juice immediately to benefit from all it’s healing powers. However, if you have to, make sure it is kept closed tight in a mason jar in the fridge! When I worked full-time in the office, I did not have the time to juice daily, so this was the only way I could drink it! However, try not to prep more than 1-2 days in advance.

————-

Soooo that about covers all of your frequently asked questions regarding this healing phenomena! I went far too long, suffering DAILY, hearing about its’ benefits, and still choosing not to give into this “Instagram fad”. But I am here to tell you, celery juice has truly transformed my overall physical and mental health! I no longer cry myself to sleep, stuck in fetal position, feeling literally trapped in a unhealthy vicious cycle of constant pain that comes with my chronic illness. I no longer have to skip out on a meal at a friend’s outing because everything on the menu is a trigger. I no longer have to look down at the massive bloat belly, no longer fitting into the very clothes I was wearing that same morning! I no longer have to look at food as an enemy of sorts, because now I can actually enjoy my meals in peace. And I no longer feel hopeless in my journey to good health. IBS may not have a tangible cure yet, but drinking my juice daily, has been the closest I’ve ever been to a healed and healthy gut! If you feel like you have tried everything and nothing has stuck, I URGE you to give celery juice a shot…IT IS LIFE CHANGING, SIS! Let’s raise a glass (of celery) to good health. Xo

 

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How to Combat Bloating…Or Try To

Last week on Instagram, I shared a very personal and honest struggle I deal with behind closed doors. I touched on my main symptom in the videos I shared, but chose not to go into detail, until now. For as far back as I can remember, I have suffered from IBS. IBS is a painful gastrointestinal condition. The main symptom I suffer with specifically is severe bloating. There has not been one full day in the past, let say, 10 years that I have not suffered from sharp pains or intense stomach pressure. My bloating is very predictable. The only time I feel comfortable throughout the day, is early in the morning before I eat anything. From breakfast to bed time, my stomach gradually bloats. With the intent to share my story with my followers, last week I decided to take before and after videos to compare the drastic difference of my pre-bloat/bloated tummy. By doing so, I  gained some insight into what others who are also suffering do, to alleviate their pain.  Below, I will share a little bit more about my story and what has/hasn’t worked for me as well as list the recommendations I received.

There is little research surrounding IBS and hence, no cure. In fact, I had been suffering for years before I was even diagnosed with the condition. I have been prescribed countless medications, undergone numerous invasive procedures, and tried several diets,  but the severe bloating still persists.

In all honesty, the side effects caused by IBS are a constant disruption to my quality of life. There are afternoons/evenings that the pain is so bad, I have no other choice, but to lay in bed in fetal position until the pain passes, and often times it doesn’t. Even if I am stressed out from something completely unrelated, I see a simultaneous reaction in my stomach. Turns out, stress can affect your nerves, making your digestive system overactive. My diet is so restrictive that planning meals or eating out can seem like a chore. Finding restaurants that cater to such delicate stomachs are not easy to come by, y’all! Although I have a general idea of the specific foods that heighten my bloating, there are times when it can be completely unpredictable.

What frustrates me the most about the condition is that IBS tends to be a paradox. We are told that increasing our fiber intake can treat symptoms of IBS but yet one of the biggest causes of bloating is dietary fiber -____-  Due to necessity/desire to stick to a healthy diet, I ate a lot of fiber so tons of oatmeal and quinoa/brown rice. Turns out, I had been consuming way too much fiber, and after cutting the fiber sources out completely in this past week, my bloating has gone down significantly. But again, this is a catch 22.

Okay well enough about me..

Foods I stray away from:

  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Tomato
  • Spices
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Oatmeal
  • Dark Meats
  • Fried Foods
  • Cow Milk
  • Beans

Remedies I find helpful w bloating: 

  • Green tea w Honey & Lemon
  • Fresh pressed juice: Carrot, OJ, Ginger
  • Alka-seltzer
  • Pho (believe it or not, the ginger in the broth helps settle down my stomach)
  • Hot compress/water placed directly on my tummy
  • Reduce fiber intake

Recommendations my followers have believed to have helped them:

  • Rx Select- Turmeric Capsules
  • A shot of Apple Cider Vinegar in the AM
  • Warm water w honey
  • Digestive Enzyme
  • Ginger Pills
  • High fat/protein / low carb diet
  • No gluten
  • Salt water

 

Now, I’m obviously not a doctor, but I hope to have shed some light on this incredibly frustrating condition. Remember ya’ll, if life gives you lemons, add some to a warm cup of water, ha! Xo

The Power of Energy Management

Although I consider myself a religious person, I find that spirituality is almost just as important. I would like to preface this piece with that: almost all of my life, I’ve strived to be at as many places that I could, all at once. Every since I could remember, I have made myself available in times when I’m the most busiest.

Lets say, I was invited to two sleepovers on the same night, I would make sure I attended both. I vividly remember, as a kid in swim practice, having this sudden urge to learn piano…the next day my dad enrolled me into lessons. Once I was enrolled, I then had the interest to begin Karate. Once I began karate, I then wanted to join show choir. My days were always jam packed! With all these groups, I met so many people! But I somehow became the person everyone gossiped to. I was often times the peace maker among my friends or the person others would turn to for advice. I noticed fairly early on, I would take on friends’ problems as if they were my own. I was always fully invested in my inner circle. If I saw anyone was treated unfairly, I would stand up for them, and often times, involved myself in drama, I was not even originally apart of.  So all this to say, I have grown into excelling in the craft of spreading myself way too thin.

I mean, once high school and college came around, I was a mess! And when I say mess, I’d like to clarify. I have lived the most organized, yet unorganized life. With such a heavy schedule, I have always been one to plan ahead. I jotted down every single commitment I had in daily planners, yet only allotted maybe 5-6 hours of sleep on a good day! I committed myself to a number of jobs, organizations, majors, friends, relationship, etc – and yet still had the nerve to complain every single day of how physically, mentally, and emotionally – exhausted I felt. But I thought, well, “I’m sure every college student feels this way…” But come almost three years post-grad, I continued to see this pattern play out in my day to day.

Now that I had a little more wiggle room with a set 9-5, my schedule consisted of dinners, long phone calls, grabbing drinks, helping friends move, etc. Though, that may all sound normal and like a good time, I would agree to go out even on nights when I was mentally checked out. The only thing on my mind was REST. But I thought, “well I can’t just say no or not answer my phone because what kind of friend is that?”

UPON LATER REFLECTION, I FINALLY REALIZED THIS IDEOLOGY WAS TROUBLING (but this was not for a while).

About 6 months ago, my mom noticed how run down I sounded from our conversations over the phone and warned that one day all of the constant go-go-go would catch up to me. She would also tell me that I made myself too available for certain friendships, that once again, she saw me take on problems that weren’t my own.

You know the saying, “Don’t take on more than you can chew”? Well this was my specialty. But if this has also been your method of tackling things, I am here to tell you there is going to be point where your body or mind will wear down. One flu and literally 5 weeks of recovery, later… I had a lot of time to reflect. Staying in bed, for three weeks straight, kind of does that to you, ha! Anyway, I came to the realization, that even though I had time management down to a T, I failed myself in energy management. I always checked off all items on my list, yet forgot to check-in with myself from time to time. For years, I had pushed to be everywhere at once, yet I was rarely ever present. 

And although I know many people catch the flu, 5 whole weeks down and out is not that common. I truly believe it was my body and mind screaming for help.

I had to learn to say “no.” And this concept was hard for me, because resting at home felt like I was sitting idle, as if I was wasting time. Especially being the extrovert I am, I thrive being around people so rejecting a friend’s invite, felt as if I was rejecting the friendship.  But clearly I had it wrong.

I had to be selfish for my own well-being.

Now a days, I feel replenished! I now prefer staying in vs going out. I’ve accepted that I am not this machine that can constantly, do.

I know many of us experience FOMO or want to be everywhere all at once but my advice is to put yourself first and rest your energies as you would your body. Prioritize people and events and allocate your energies wisely. Do not just give, give, give and be so willingly available to others because one day your energies will be depleted and that my friends, is a very empty feeling. I’d recommend to write down your social events as you would with meetings so you can do an overview of how many days you’ve set aside for yourself vs how many days you’ve set aside for other people. If you find it that it is half and half I would suggest to reconsider at least one of those days for yourself whether that means you find a new hobby or a new show on Netflix. For me, I became a plant mom. Just as we go green to cleanse our ecosystem, we too, need to find clean sources of energy.

Wishing you all the best in your energy management journey! If you have implemented this in your life, I’d like to know, how have you done so? (Comment below) Xo

 

 

 

 

The Importance of Journaling

Sometimes when we think of keeping a journal, the “Dear Diary” entries we made in middle school might come to mind. Remember those days when we would admit our school crush or most embarrassing moments? I definitely do! Although I have kept up with a daily planner, I myself had been skeptical on a daily journal. Did I really have the time to reiterate the same thoughts and feeling I had shared throughout the day with friends and family?

But then I started to think, what was the purpose of writing in my diaries growing up? I still shared with friends back then but there was an added bonus in making entries that only my eyes would see. When journaling, the hustle and bustle of our everyday life remains still, if even for those moments, calling a wandering mind to attention – from chaos to actively working through our thoughts.

Sharing our thoughts aloud to our loved ones isn’t merely enough. Journaling brings you into this state of mindfulness, allowing you to be still. Designed for self-reflection, habit tracking, goal-setting, daily reminders, and inspiration. It is essentially a catalog into your personal achievements, both big and small, in which you have to refer back to.

Journaling gives you the ability to share your current frustrations and future anxieties, ambitions and goals, ones that may  even be too scary to share aloud; they essentially lose their edge in the present moment.

Here are the five benefits I’ve received through journaling.

  1. Accountability
    • Whether the subject be: diet, exercise, waking up earlier, limiting our alcohol intake per week, budgeting, etc. it is hard to keep track of our progress from atom. I am the type of person who will not take accountability or even notice for certain habits, unless they are recorded. Why is this? Because I have the worst memory ever!
      • As an example, this past year, I gave myself 2 allowances to eat out per week. Although few, there were times where I maxed my weekly allowance in one day. I noticed that the weeks when I slipped up, also happened to be the times when I failed to journal. On those days when I decide to grab food, (in my mind), I hadn’t ate out for a while, but in all actuality, when I referred back to my journal, I picked up a bagel (lets say for breakfast) just the day before.
  2. Manifesting
    • As you write and rewrite your goals daily, they allow you to review and hone in on what is important to you. The repetition of your aspirations, will eventually become ingrained into your subconscious mind. It will hopefully consume you and motivate you to act to make them your reality.
      • My 2017 New Year’s Resolution was to become more active. In the prior year, I failed to take the necessary steps in order to do so. Come Jan 2017, not only did I write down my weekly goal of working out 5x a week, but I also jotted down my workout routine for each day, along with a line for  a check mark (which indicated completed). The satisfaction of checking it off my list, motivated me to get up and go! Only I had that power to complete this goal of mine, and with this constant visual reminder, I was more likely to get up and do so!
  3. Navigating through emotions
    • How many of us could say we’ve been scatterbrained at times? More often than not we are pulled in multiple directions. At least for me, my mind is usually in a thousands places all at once! I’ve realized that difficult times, don’t always come in the most convenient of times.
      • In the midst of my break up (a little over a year ago), I was in between apartments and job hunting. Whenever a friend asked me how I was doing, I would say to myself, “I’m okay, I really don’t have the time to be sad.” Which in my mind, I didn’t… I was busy. But it’s in times like these where journaling is vital. Journaling even 5 minutes a day, allows for us to share our feelings privately and then heal the thoughts that make us retreat and suppress. Actively engaging with your feelings will reduce the emotional scatter in your life…freeing you from the mental entanglement we tend to get caught up in.
  4. Creativity
    • There are so many days where I find myself starring at a blank computer screen, while the cursor flashes, reminding me that I haven’t typed a word yet. Even if I have so many ideas in my head, there are times when nothing can be articulated. This in when I’ve found journaling exceptionally useful. With journaling, you can literally start off with a doodle, a word, or a phrase.  We can write freely, without thinking, really. This is just a way of unlocking our creative juices. I’d go so far as saying that journaling is a flashlight for my ideas. Within minutes, I usually am able to quickly grab my computer and write out a paragraph or two.
  5. Learning gratitude
    • It’s easy for us to come home exhausted after a full day. Especially when we have even more work to do around the house.
      • I’ve found that just spending a few minutes to jot down what you are grateful for within that day, truly helps shift your perspective. You may see that your not-so good day was pretty good after all.

 *“You don’t need to buy a fancy personal journal to record your entries in, worry about spelling or grammar, or even make fully thought out sentences. If you have not discovered these benefits for yourself, I challenge you to start tonight!

 

How to Fight the Fear of Missing Out

Whether it’s a Snapchat story of one of our favorite influencers at a trendy lounge or a friend’s latest Instagram post of an adventure abroad, this constant exposure to things that are happening fuels our anxieties.

This desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing is a phenomenon known as FOMO: the fear of missing out. Here lies the threat that if we don’t participate in a certain activity, we will then miss out on some vital point of living.

Many of us have this erroneous belief that these plans will satisfy us, when in fact, FOMO is illusive.

Scrolling through happy status updates and scenic vacation shots often times leaves us with comparing our lives with those of our social media followers. The internet can show us all of the things we are not, what we have not accomplished and where we have not been.

Those social comparisons lead us to assume that these people MUST live more exciting lives than us. And those feelings of envy, ultimately, poses the question as to whether we will ever settle for what we have.

And this disturbs me in a way as I am absolutely guilty of this too.

Recently, my pastor touched on the subject.

He mentioned how our social anxieties and itch for inclusion, shifts our focus on looking outwards instead of inward.

If only we feared the void of a spiritual adventure vs one overseas…what if we were in as much of a pursuit of God as we are with our next adventure?

This question left me shook, as spirituality means something different to everyone: for some, it involves participating in organized religion and for others, it’s more personal.

But whatever it may mean to you, spirituality, includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves.

So I beg the question, what if we stopped seeking meaning and value through Instagram and it’s trendy photo opps and instead find purpose through our personal definition of spirituality.

Maybe if we practiced mindfulness and spiritual connectivity, will we then find that satisfaction that FOMO never quenches.

With an awakened sense of spirituality, we will never miss out. 

Just some food for thought! -Xo

Why it is Okay to be Single

 Dating…oh the joys! As many of us singles are navigating through our 20’s, we are bound to face the inevitable question of, “why are you still single?” I believe that this societal pressure to find a mate has inadvertently pushed the idea that being single is unfavorable, so it’s easy for us to fall into that habitual line of thinking.
 
But aside from outside influences, there is the fundamental human need of companionship. The idea of being alone, can seem like an uncomfortable thought.
 
During the demise of my past relationship, the thought of being alone scared the hell out of me. I had shared every moment with that person; the good, the bad, and the ugly…how would I be able to manage all that life throws at us, without him?
 
The thought of starting over again, almost scared me into staying in an unfulfilling/toxic situation. And as ridiculous as that sounds, I know I am not the only one who has considered this. I’ve met countless of individuals who have admitted to staying with their partner for convenience and emotional security.
 
I mean, there are so many benefits of having a companion in life. A true partnership can enhance quality of life, giving more meaning to one’s existence. One of the best feelings in the world is knowing that you have someone you can rely on, someone with a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on. But what happens when that partnership is no longer fulfilling or compatible?
 
I went into singlehood extremely reluctant and bitter. I loved being in a relationship. But I made a decision early on. I could a) feel bad for myself or b) use this time to discover who I am as an individual and figure out what gives my life meaning and purpose. I decided on the latter.
 
And it was in that moment that my perspective on singlehood shifted. This is where the quote, “Don’t be bitter, be better,” applied to my life. I began to embrace and enjoy my solitude, realizing that in doing so, I was more likely to make better choices about who I decided to spend my time with.
 
I now had the time and energy to invest solely on myself. Over a year later, I can honestly say that I have thoroughly enjoyed being single. I am a much more fulfilled person today, than I was a year ago. I think in order to sustain a healthy relationship with another person, you must first, create one with yourself.
 
I also think it is important to remember that we can also find companionship outside of romantic means; whether that may be in relationships with friends, family, pets, and most importantly, yourself. Learn to be your own bestfriend. Learn to love your time with yourself.
 
So next time someone asks you, “why are you still single?”… I say to embrace that freedom. Personally, I’ve responded with, “because I can be and it is actually a lot of fun.” IT IS OKAY TO BE SINGLE. In fact, I encourage it! 
 
This is our time to be selfish. Make yourself a priority! Nurture yourself and your energy, explore your interest and passions.
Don’t get me wrong, I truly believe in soul mates and in time, we will all find our person – but until then, learn to fall in love with yourself! 

Practicing Gratitude

Post-vacation blues has hit me like a ton of bricks! Like for real, I low-key cried today while looking through pics. My time in Hawaii was more than magical (will be posting my trip very soon), so coming back to the monotonous office life was dreadful, to say the least. In the past couple of days, I’ve found myself in an extremely negative head space. I’ve fixated on what I don’t have at the moment (financial freedom to travel year-round) and have overlooked how fortunate I really am.

As I was in the midst of complaining, I remembered a story my mom shared with me.

We were originally talking about how sweet of a father my dad was to me. As an infant, I developed a nearly fatal disease which caused me to stay in the ICU and Children’s Hospital for almost a year. For most of that time, I was not expected to recover because of the illness being so rare, even the DR’s did not know exactly how to treat it. My mom explained that my daddy would sing to me everyday.

I shared a room with a little girl who was dying from brain cancer. My parents noticed that she rarely had any visitors but they were so preoccupied with my illness, they felt there was not much they could do to help. After some time, on a random day, the little girl opened the curtain that divided the room and softly asked, “Jasmin’s daddy, can you sing to me too? You have a beautiful voice.”  This took my parents by surprise because thus far, she had kept to herself.

Her sweet demeanor immediately touched my parents, because all along this little girl was listening in on my visits, and was yearning for any sort of affection.

From then on, my dad began to sing to both of us. There even reached a point where she felt comfortable enough to be held by him every so often.

Once Disney’s, “Aladdin,” came out on VHS, my parents repeatedly played the movie. The little girl, once again, asked for my parents’ permission to watch it with us.

Of course, I was too young to remember her but according to my mom, her presence was unforgettable. Less than a year later, this sweet angel passed away. Babygirl’s life was stolen from her way too soon. Her short life consisted of being stuck in a hospital room, alone.

I had to sit on this story and reflect on it. Like holy shit, I made a full recovery…I’ve had the opportunity to travel, meet new people, and just live…how am I still complaining?

Although there may be real shitty days, stories like this remind you of how fortunate you are. For some reason, my life was spared. And instead of sulking, I should be counting my blessings.

I know we’ve all had experiences where we have found ourselves lucky to come out of the situation “alive,” so to speak. So in troubling times, if we try to refer to those instances and practice our gratitude towards that outcome, maybe we can find some inner peace.

To the little angle in heaven, may you rest in love ❤

Spinach & Feta Turkey Burgers

For this week’s meal prep, I wanted to keep it healthy but still somehow give into my cravings. Since we are in the thick of Summer, I’ve had this hunger for burgers (and for me… Summer = grilling).

Sooooo, I decided to try out : Spinach & Feta Turkey Burgers with Greek yogurt avocado spread.

And let me just say: THIS MEAL IS SO YUMMY and most importantly, EASY!

What you’ll need:

  • 1 package of Ground Turkey Breast (1-2 LBS)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 5 ounces of Feta
  • Half box of spinach (8 oz), squeezed dry
  • 1 Avocado (optional)
  • 3 TBS Greek Yogurt (optional)
  • Mustard (optional for spread)
  • Whole wheat Lavish bread or burger buns (optional)

Directions:

  1.  Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add in spinach and toss with tongs until wilted. To avoid sogginess, roll up cooked spinach in a dishtowel and wring out the excess water.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, crack and beat in two eggs, add feta, cooked spinach, and turkey, until well combined. Form into 8-10 patties.
  3. Cook on preheated grill or stovetop until no longer pink in the center, 10-20 minutes,
  4. Toast your bread or bun. I prefer Lavish Bread because of the longer shelf life, higher protein, and hearty crunch.
  5.  Slap on your spread!

Voilà!

The blend of zest this meal offers, is unreal! The patties turn out super juicy and flavorful! If you’re up for a ridiculously easy dish, and I MEAN as easssyyyy as mixing, forming, and tossing your patties on the grill…then this recipe is for you. This meal is definitely Mediterranean inspired, so I like to add a Greek Salad on the side!

Trust me, this is a household favorite….and yeah, sure… I only cook for myself, but you get the gist! Enjoy!

 

How to End a Toxic Relationship

Toxic relationships come in many shapes and forms. I’d say, it’s pretty safe to assume that many of us have been in one at some point or another. They are destructive and poison our health and well-being from the inside-out.

I’m clearly not a relationship expert but from shared experiences with friends over the years, there is the commonality that we often times stay in certain relationships longer than we should. There seems to be great difficulty in acknowledging/recognizing that we are in an unhealthy situation. I think the reason for this is because we like to minimize and justify the current state of the relationship while we fixate on what was. I mean, “love” in any capacity has the potential to be blinding. Thus, walking away is the hardest part.

It’s only natural that we have the desire to sustain any relationship that we’ve invested time, emotion, and effort into because the thought of letting go of all of that can be intimidating. But what I’ve learned is that it is okayyyy to admit that a relationship has run it’s course. The most liberating feeling is breaking free from the toxicity and starting fresh. But of course, there is no “easy” way around this.

I think there is this blurred line (which could be called denial) between a relationship going “through a rough patch,” and a relationship turning toxic. Once you find yourself feeling emotionally exhausted more often than not, this is a clear indicator of the relationship’s demise. Not to mention, it is very likely, you too, are dishing this same negativity onto your partner.

I found it helpful to journal those days where I felt down and look back as the week progressed.

I would ask myself, “am I a happier person since this individual has came into my life?” And most importantly, “Am I a better person because of this relationship?”

I had the hardest time answering these questions. But I had to be honest with myself.

I’ve noticed, we like to romanticize the relationship and our partner with hopes of tricking ourselves into believing we should stay and that we are fulfilled.

 Life is so damn short! Why waste time with any person who is inhibiting us from true happiness?

Cutting off a relationship can feel like an amputation, but it is very likely both parties will be better off .

As my mom likes to sing to me, “Let it go, let it goooo.” (Frozen Version)

 

How to Stay Body Positive Even When you Have yet to Reach your Fitness Goals

In an era of “perfect” IG models and in the new wave of uber-trendy, health-conscious, Millennial products, it’s seemingly impossible for one to look past. Naturally, we want to join the latest fads and dabble into whatever the next best thing is. From meal-prepping (diet-plans), to cycle classes, to Kombucha, to whey-protein, there has been a major social media/pop culture influence on practicing a healthy lifestyle.  I think it’s safe to say, when we double tap on an influencer’s picture, we think “goals,” or “can I please look like that?” I’ve caught myself thinking and saying these things aloud way too often but what’s important to remember is: these bodies we are envying are truly not attainable. Many of these individuals make a living off of their social media accounts and actual job is to maintain their physique…by whatever means possible.

Don’t get me wrong, I do think it is necessary to set health/fitness standards for yourself, but I’ve realized it’s just as imperative to stay body positive even if you are not satisfied with where you are at. In other words, finding a happy-medium between working towards your goal yet having a forgiving relationship with your current body. I definitely think this association is much easier said than done but once practiced, it becomes liberating.

My journey to finding body positivity began at an early age. I entered the sixth grade with newly developed hips and breasts. Most of my classmates had yet to reach puberty, which made me one of the few girls with curves. I was made fun of countless of times. Older girls would approach me with comments that were meant to almost make me feel bad for how I looked (as if I chose this body!) I’d been called, “wide-load,” asked if I was “cornbread fed,” and was even asked, if I was pregnant (at 11 years old) because of my hips! I specifically remember a particular time during “weigh-ins,” when my P.E. teacher whispered my weight to me instead of announcing it aloud as he did with everyone else…laughter then ensued.

At first, of course, I took offense to it and often times would ask my parents, “why do I look so different than all of the other girls in school?” They advised me that I only had one option: which was to embrace my body. If my appearance was all they could talk about, I was doing something right. In that moment, I decided to stop caring about what those people said about me and flaunt what I was given. S/O to you, girls Image result for hand wave emoji

Once high school rolled around, I had to re-learn this self-love. Stretch marks and cellulite set in and that was different for me. This was the beginning of social media and the pressure to look slim was there. But I had to remind myself, “Jas, this is your body, you can either love it or hate it.” I decided to love it, can I get a Hallelujah?

But of course, I still struggle with my cellulite and am too hard on myself at times, I’ve made comments about my body that I would NEVER be able to say to anyone else. And this is precisely the point of this post. We should still be able to aspire to live a healthier lifestyle without forgetting to appreciate the skin we are in.

I once saw a male friend post this saying on Facebook, “Ladies, dress for the body you have and not the body you want!” And what I say to that is, BS, wear whatever the f**k you want!

I’ll still wear my shorts and dresses, with my cellulite in all it’s glory. I have yet to reach my fitness goals but I think learning to speak and feel positively about your body is the sexiest thing you can do for yourself. Male or female, confidence is sexy.