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Healthy Body

The Proper Post Workout Meal + Orange Monster Smoothie

January 30, 2015

Working out is hard to do. I’ve been doing it since I was in the 7th grade (6 am volleyball practice!) and I still question my routine.

Is it long enough? Too long? What is the best ratio of cardio to strength? Can I work the same muscle two days in a row? How many crunches DOES IT TAKE to get a six pack?

Good news is I’ve had a bit of a breakthrough this year. I think I’ve finally figured out the answer to what works best for me.

My success story? Weight lifting. Yeah, I said it. Metal-bar-bell-strict-lifting-low-squating weight lifting. I absolutely love it. I've never been so strong in my life. And never been happier with my body. My thighs and butt are toned (without being bulky), my butt actually exists (it used to just be a flattened extension of my upper thigh), my abs are tighter than they ever have been (in all my years of endless crunching), and my energy is as high as a kite (I actually look forward to my morning workout). Insert proud beach picture here –>

But enough about my workout. This is a food blog. Which is why I just had to tell you that one of the best adjustments I have made to my workout has been in my Post Workout Meal. No matter how hard you workout, what you eat matters more than anything. ESPECIALLY AFTER YOUR WORKOUT.

Here are the three things I’ve come to know about post workout meals through lots and lots of research, my personal trainer’s advice, and my own experience and success with it.

  1. Timing Matters.
  2. What you eat (and don’t eat) matters.
  3. Where it came from matters.

Let me explain.

1. TIMING: I eat immediately after my workout (i.e. 30 minutes or less).
I am trying to build muscle. Not lose weight. Because of this, I try to eat immediately after my workout. You want to take advantage of absorbing the nutrients immediately to repair muscle tissue.

2. WHAT I EAT: I eat a combination of high protein and little carb.
You need protein to restore muscle tissue. Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, pumpkin, butternut squash and plantains replenish your glycogen stores for muscle growth and increased energy. Although you need carbs, too many will cause an insulin spike so don't go overboard on the sweet potatoes.

I eat VERY LITTLE fat and sugar.
Fat slows down your digestion and inhibits the absorption of protein. Sugar (even the natural kind in fruit), can only be metabolized by your liver. You didn't workout your liver silly; you worked out your muscles. Muscle tissue eats glycogen (that's where those carbs come in).

3. WHERE IT CAME FROM: I eat a whole protein source (or as close as I can get to one).
Protein powder is convenient. But where the protein in your powder came from matters just as much as where the chicken in your dinner came from. Ideally, you want a whole protein source so that you are absorbing as many nutrients as possible and as little hormones and chemicals as possible. There are a handful of protein powders that have gone out of their way to produce antibiotic-free, grass-fed and low in sugar products that I have tried and loved (Tera’s Whey, Amazing Meal, RAW protein).

But I’ve recently discovered an even better source of whole protein that is just as convenient as protein powder: Gelatin.

But this isn’t Bill Cosby’s gelatin (weird how that reference has a creepy meaning now). This is real, unprocessed gelatin from grass-fed cows. It comes in powder form just like protein powder. But its benefits are much greater. Gelatin helps your body repair quicker, helps repair small tears in cartilage, eases stiff joints and helps build muscle. Because I have so much to say about this stuff, I am already working on a follow up post, starring gelatin. So I'll explain more about this super nutrient later (also great for hair, skin and nails). 

Now, for what you've been waiting for… 

What exactly fits into this perfect formula??

THE ORANGE MONSTER SMOOTHIE. Gelatin to build and repair muscles. Sweet potato or pumpkin to restore glycogen. And cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and TURMERIC are all anti-inflammatory spices that will relieve muscle and joint pain and keep your stomach flat. BOOM. It's all there.



  • 1 cup of pumpkin puree OR 1 cup of cooked sweet potato
  • 1 cup of coconut water
  • ½ cup of ice
  • 2 tablespoons gelatin – I strongly recommend Great Lakes OR serving of your favorite vanilla protein powder (try to stick to hormone-free and grassfed)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Splash of coconut milk (for taste)
  • Drizzle of honey (if you really need a sweetener, but try to refrain from adding sugar)
  • Spices*

    • 1 teaspoon of Cinnamon
    • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger/pre-chopped ginger/real ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric (see this post for why it's awesome)
    • Dash of nutmeg

*Note: Substitute pumpkin pie spice for all of the above spices to save a little time


  1. Have an awesome workout and imagine the delicious smoothie waiting at the end of the tunnel.
  2. Immediately after, toss all above ingredients in a NutriBullet or your blender of choice and power up until it’s smooth as cream.
  3. Stick a straw in it and drink immediately.
  4. Do a happy dance.

As always, thanks for listening to me rave and rant. Keep in mind, this workout and this Post Workout Meal is what works FOR ME. If you're not doing a lot of strength training, it may not work for you. Either way though, it's all good stuff.


Healthy Body

The Workout I Can’t Get Enough Of

April 11, 2014

I just discovered the most amazing workout. It elevates my heart rate, pushes me past my limits, makes me sweat, and relaxes and centers me – all at the same time. Crazy, right?

I hesitate to tell you what this workout is because as soon as I say it, you are going to roll your eyes thinking: that’s not for me. And that’s what I thought too. Until I gave it a chance.

I’m talking about Bikram Yoga. 105 degree, deep-breathing, hot, sweaty, Bikram Yoga.

Now that I’ve fallen in love with it and done my research, I’ve found that this hot mess of a workout has a ridiculous list of benefits that include:

  • Weight loss
  • Enhanced strength
  • Increased flexibility
  • Improved posture
  • Mental clarity
  • A balanced blood pressure
  • Proper metabolism
  • Improved ability to concentrate
  • Flushing of toxins and impurities from the body through hard work and sweat
  • Specific poses can help clean out the veins and arteries

But before I fell in love, I knew very little about it, and didn’t care to learn. I had done my fair share of yoga classes through my gym or in my living room with Fitness DVDs (yeah Denise Austin!). And I found it enjoyable, but really considered it more of a stretching and relaxation exercise. When I workout, I want to feel like I’ve worked out. I had heard of hot yoga, but the idea of mixing a hot room with yoga poses just seemed silly to me.

I unintentionally found Bikram Yoga. On an impulse, I bought a Gilt City when I saw that it was in the West Loop. Eager to switch up my workout and find something close by, I thought yoga would be a good idea. I went dressed in full-length yoga pants and a long-sleeved zip up, confident my always-cold body would be comfortable in the layers. But when the instructor told me he highly recommended a towel to wipe away all of the sweat, my ears perked up.

“You do know what Bikram Yoga is, don’t you?”

Embarrassed to say that I thought it just involved a new set of poses that some guy named Bikram needed to put his name on, I said,

“Yeah, I’ve heard of it.”

When I walked into the room, it was confirmed. “Bikram Yoga” is synonymous with “Hot Yoga”. The dark room was filled with thick, humid air and I noticed the people who already were inside were dressed in next to nothing. It was going to be an interesting class.

One hour, thirty minutes and two buckets of sweat later, I was finished. And I knew as I lie there on my rented towel in Shavasana – I had just found something special.

I left that class feeling lighter, leaner and more relaxed than I’d ever felt walking out of a workout. My stomach, squeezed out from all of the twists and turns, felt flat and strong. My spine, curved from 27 years of bad posture to overcompensate for being too tall, suddenly felt erect. My sinuses, constantly agitated from allergies, felt clear. My muscles, achy from moving them in ways they never knew possible, felt challenged to get stronger. My mind, usually racing after a workout to carry on with my day, felt calm, clear and relaxed. I slowly strolled back to my apartment, literally wearing a stupid grin the whole way there.

I realized, the next day, that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. And I actually couldn’t wait to go back again. Couldn’t wait. As strict as I am with my workouts, I would never say that I happily anticipate them. I see working out as a necessary evil to keep my body healthy and fit.

But Bikram felt different. I felt challenged to do it again. And do it better. There were so many poses I could barely manage; I needed to know that I could. Could I get physically and mentally strong enough to handle the deep bending and balancing poses?

Through this class and a few recent experiences, I’ve finally realized that these two things together are essential to my workout.


If I don’t enjoy it, I won’t do it. If I am bored, I will hate it, resent it, and then, I won’t do it.

So I’m going to give Bikram a chance. And I really think you should to. But I won’t blame you if you don’t, because I’ve been there. You’ll just have to find it in your own way.






Healthy Body

Becoming A Workout Slacker and Loving It

February 18, 2014

I’ve come to discover that there are three different types of worker-outers.

CAMP 1: Hell bent on working out every day of the week, sometimes for two-hour sessions, filled with hard-core cardio, intense classes and weight lifting. If they’re good, they may get a Sunday recovery day.

CAMP 2: Proudly work out three to four days a week, which may include a relaxing yoga session or a quick 20-minute weight-lifting session.

CAMP 3: If they make it to the gym once or twice a month for a really heart-pounding workout, they’ve done their job. Working out is not their top priority. Maybe their family, their job, or their hobbies take precedence.

Back in college when I belonged to the first camp of people, it honestly never occurred to me that the second camp, or even the third, could be healthier options.

But maybe, just maybe, they are…

In the last few months, I have secured myself into the second camp. I work out three to four days a week. The workouts could vary from an hour-long boxing sweat session at UFC gym, to a 40-minute basement gym workout – split between the treadmill and weight lifting, to a 20-minute squeeze-in of squats, push-ups and crunches.

Me in college at my workout

Me in college at my workout “best.” AKA, skin & bones.

But back when I was in college, and in my early twenties, I took working out to a whole new, unhealthy level. In other words, I was textbook Camp 1.

I would get up every morning, 3 hours before my first class, to head to the gym. Working out could include:

  • 45 minutes of cardio and 45 minutes of lifting.
  • An hour-long cardio class, followed by half an hour of Pilates, 20 minutes of lifting and 20 minutes of abs (because the class wasn’t enough).
  • An early morning 45-minute workout to a fitness DVD, later followed by an after-work hour-long gym workout.

Whatever it was, it was at least 1 ½ hours long (sometimes 3 hours), and it was almost every day of the week. If I took more than one day of recovery, I would beat myself up for it.

I really believed that this was healthy. 

I was doing what I was supposed to do. This is what Oxygen Magazine and countless fitness books told me I was supposed to do if I wanted to stay in shape.  

And stay in shape I did. But I was also miserable, stressed for time, and filled with regret on a regular basis if I didn’t meet my high expectations every week. It would also push me to have binge sessions where no amount of food could fill me up (especially low-fat, no-fat, no flavor food). Which, of course, would result in more beat-myself-up sessions.

Today I work out for half the time and I’ve never felt better, never looked better, never slept better and never had more energy. I do not have constant muscle aches, over-tired days, and best of all, regret.

The biggest difference between my old crazy camp and my new happy camp is this:

I don’t work out to lose weight; I work out to be healthy and happy.

Nothing is more liberating than this feeling. It’s something I’ve been telling myself and other people for years. But I honestly think it’s only really sunken in the last six months or so.

Me today (as Jasmine), feeling so much better about my body and my health.

Me today (as Jasmine), feeling so much better about my body and my health.


  • If I don’t enjoy the type of workout I am doing, I won’t want to do it.
  • If my gym is too far out of reach, it stresses me out to get there, so I won’t want to go.
  • If my workout is too long, it takes too much time out of my day doing things that could make me happier.
  • If my body is telling me that it is sick or over-tired, working out is going to make me feel worse, not better.
  • If I treat myself badly during said workout (i.e. Push for 30 reps instead of 20! Run at 7.0 instead of 6.0!) when my body can’t quite handle the intensity on that day, then I won’t be happy.
  • Working out is so much more fun when I’m not “supposed” to be doing it. When I can’t sit at my desk and stare at my computer any longer, I escape to the stairway to do stair runs, find quiet hallways for lunges, and deserted meeting rooms for planks and push-ups.

I truly believe that having this new workout mindset is a self-fulfilling prophecy. I now look at working out as something I enjoy – not something I resent. Therefore, I do it more, I do it better and I do it with energy. I am proud of my body and all of the things that it can do.

Now I’m in this place, I want to push it past the gym. I want to take it to the mountains to snowboard, I want to take it to the ocean to surf, I want to take it to the ice rink to skate, and I want to take it to an exotic coastline to run. Man, I LOVE being a slacker.

What do you guys think? Is being workout-lax healthier or am I just in workout denial?