AN UPDATE ON BIJOU’S DIET

07/18/2017

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It’s been about five months since we switched Bijou over to an IAMS diet. If you haven’t already heard about this process, I wrote all about it here in February. When I first wrote about this, many of you were curious about the switch—especially those who were already big fans of #bijouthebengal. So, now that some time has passed I wanted to give you an update on her and how she has adjusted to the swap.

The first thing you should know about our animals is that we all love them dearly—especially the kids. They snuggle and play with all three of our pets non-stop. And, inevitably, they also like to get a little wild from time to time. Bijou’s always been able to hold her own, but most recently, we’ve noticed that she’s been way more playful—kitten-like. She used to spend most of the day upstairs, in my room, sleeping, but recently, she hangs downstairs with us, around the living room or kitchen, full of energy, rubbing against our legs, or makes herself comfortable right on our laps. (Bengals are not a super cuddly breed, so we are thrilled that she’s been more social and energetic.) Even my assistant, Tiana, has noticed the difference and has grown to love the constant company and distraction, while we work.

Another change I’ve personally noticed is Bijou’s physical appearance. She’s as cute as ever, but she seems to be looking her best since the switch. Her coat really is shinier and softer. I know this because previously, if Bijou didn’t consume a certain type of food (with a hefty price tag), she’d start to look a bit mangy and wild, and she hasn’t since swapping to IAMS.

Pets, in general, are a big responsibility. But, Bijou is definitely our most high-maintenance animal. That’s not to say that we don’t love and adore her, we do; it just means that sometimes we have to pay extra attention to ensure that she’s getting all of the love, care, and attention she needs and deserves. Her diet—along with other factors surrounding her health—is a big part of that equation. Making the switch to IAMS has been an overall seamless process that’s resulted in one happy and healthy cat. And, we’re thankful for that.

I know that some of you had a few questions about IAMS in my last post, so to read more on brand, its ethics, and its pet food, be sure to visit IAMS.com. We always aim to do what’s best for our pets, and Bijou seems to really be benefitting from her new diet.

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This post is in partnership with IAMS.

CLIFF NOTES: THE 21-DAY CLEANSE

07/06/2017

CliffNotes21DayCleanse_BleubirdAs promised, I am sharing my cliff notes to the 21-day cleanse I completed last month. The program is actually quite simple and can easily be found with a little Googling. Sticking to it, not as simple, but it can be done, and let me tell you, it has changed my lifestyle in so many amazing ways.

The Breakdown: You are replacing two meals a day with a smoothie. You can buy the Clean Program Powder (I highly recommend using theirs, since it’s full of everything you need to replace a meal). If that’s not an option for you, here are two protein powers that I like from Moon Juice (which is very affordable) and Vega. Both brands have vanilla and chocolate flavors. I personally prefer vanilla because I find it much more versatile. To that you can add anything that is allowed on the program (linked below). I really like to use a few of the Daily Harvest smoothie cups in because it makes the smoothie-making process that much simpler, but note: many of them are not compliant. You can also look for smoothie packs at your local health food store. Just be sure to the read the labels.

Supplements:
You need to take a probiotic each morning with you first smoothie. With all three meals (smoothie, food, smoothie) you need to take 2 enzymes, 1 berberine, and 1 silymarin.

Very important: You need to have at least a 12-hour food-free period, so that your body can clean itself. So, if you have your last smoothie (dinner) at 8pm, you cannot have your next meal until 8am.

Here are the links to the foods you CAN and CANNOT have. This is very strict, so make sure to check your labels and ingredients list while shopping.

I highly recommend buying the Clean Eats book. It’s great and is full of recipes that you can make that are cleanse-compliant. It also has recipes that are great post-cleanse. I also used It’s All Good so much during my 21 days. It’s been out for years, so chances are many of you already have it on your shelves.

Tips:

  • Do not eat out. I ate out once and it was very difficult. You would be surprised how many things contain cane sugar, honey, and soy.
  • Embrace cooking at home. Try to find joy in cooking healthy, new things.
  • Meal-prep! I reserved (and still do) my Sunday afternoons for the kitchen. It made preparing meals during the week so easy. (I’ll post about my meal-prepping routine, tips, and ideas soon.)
  • Go to the grocery store several times a week for fish, poultry, fruits, and veggies. I don’t recommend buying everything for the week at once. You want your food to be as fresh as possible.
  • Find a recipe or dressing that calls for sugar? Try leaving it out, or if it really needs a bit of sweetness, use coconut sugar. It’s amazing! Just use about half the amount the recipe calls for, and add more as needed.
  • Adjust your meal times to what works best for you. Because we have kids, we had our first smoothie late morning, around 11 a.m. or noon, had our lunch at dinnertime, so we could eat with the kids (around 5 p.m.), and had our dinner smoothie around 9:30 p.m. This worked well for us and our crazy schedules, and made it easy to still eat dinner together as a family.
  • Don’t cheat. Just don’t. You got this!
  • Take before and after photos. It’s crazy to see the difference in just 21-days.
  • Do not weigh yourself. You don’t want to get fixated on a number. It’s all about how you feel. And as a bonus, your clothes might fit a little better once you’ve completed your cleanse.

Like I mentioned in my cleanse recap post, if you are able to do the real thing, do it. The support you receive, daily emails, and tips are incredibly valuable. 21-days is a long time, and you need all of the support you can get. I hope this was helpful and let me know if you have any questions! xxJ

TEN THINGS

06/30/2017

jim-jam-topselex021-1,902.600.80.20.crop.2x.1479938782I cannot believe how quickly this year is flying by. Seems like the older you get, the faster it goes. I plan on taking an extra-long weekend and doing minimal work through the Fourth of July. Do you have any big plans? Nashville is expected to receive some bad weather over the new 3-5 days, so we haven’t figured out exactly what we’re doing yet—probably going to see a movie with the kids and maybe cook dinner with close friends, oh and the Hello Kitty Truck in in town this weekend, so we will be sure to stop by. Have a good one! Here are this week’s ten things…

1. Women in handmaid’s tale outfits protest the GOP healthcare bill.

2. Have you seen the Over/Under series from Pitchfork? It’s kind of hilarious.

3. Summer is upon us. Here are the 10 best hotdogs, according to The New York Times. Eat one for me!

4. An affordable and kick ass workout that you can stream in your living room. I’m hooked.

5. My solemates.

6. 10 Anxiety Remedies That Actually Work, According To Real Women.

7. Want to get away? Here are the 50 Best Places To Travel in 2017.

8. Take a look at the most influential images of all time.

9. How gorgeous is Masseria Moroseta?

10. Why the Senate Health-Care Bill would be absolutely terrible for women.

Photo above of my friends Jesse and Jimmy’s wedding, photographed by via Max Wanger.

Q&A: WHAT ARE YOUR WORKOUT ESSENTIALS?

06/29/2017

WorkoutGear_BleubirdI could talk about this stuff all day, every day. I love gear! My husband is a backpack, bag, electronic storage gear-head and I am a complete workout gear junkie. I get most of my stuff from Amazon. It’s just easy, and the selection and reviews are so helpful in decision making. I’ve listed out all of the things that I use on a regular basis, that I love, and have done tons of research on. Of course, you don’t need all of this fancy gear to get in an effective workout. I have been collecting my arsenal of exercise equipment for a few years now and add things as I go. We have a giant storm room in the basement that we are currently using for storage, but I have big plans to clear it out and turn it into a home gym later this summer. I prefer to workout at home, as opposed to a gym, so it will be nice making better use of the extra space and having all of my gear in one place.

One of my favorite pieces of equipment is my Jumpsport Fitness Rebounder. Rebounding is one of the best ways to get in a good cardio workout and raise your heartbeat fast.

I have indoor and outdoor sneakers, although sometimes my indoor sneakers accidentally make it outside. I love the Adidas Performance Ultraboost X for indoor workouts and these Nike Juvenate sneakers for running/hiking outdoors.

My favorite workout clothes are from Outdoor Voices. Not only are they beautiful and minimal, but the quality can’t be beat. I like the High Rise Leggings, which I usually pair with a t-shirt, and the Steeplechase Bras are hands down the best sports bras I’ve ever had.

I use this yoga mat. It says that it’s a little thicker than traditional yoga mats, but I find that it’s pretty average. Gets the job done, though. I also love this SPRI mat because it’s thinker and great for intense floor work and keeps my knees comfortable.

I recently bought this foam roller after asking for suggestions on Instagram. It’s perfect. I ordered the 36″ one, so I could do more with it. Foam rolling takes some getting used to and I am still a beginner, but really liking it so far. If any of you have some foam roller routine suggestions, I’m all ears! A friend of mine has been rolling for years and mentioned that it is definitely not supposed to be comfortable when in use. She was right!

I use this resistance exercise cord and really like it. I have the green one, which is the lightest amount of resistance and think it’s about time to upgrade to one that’s more challenging.

I love my step box. You can totally use a chair to get the same results. The one I have is made out of plywood and has three different heights, so it makes things a bit more challenging, depending on what I’m working on. The boxes come in different sizes; the one I have is 20″ x 18″ x 16″. I am thinking about adding the next size up into my mix soon.  I think you could easily make something similar yourself, if you’d rather save a few bucks. They are a little pricy, but the quality is outstanding!

I am always and forever a BKR water bottle carrier. I just love them. They are cute and functional, and I love that the bottle is made of glass, as opposed to plastic. I have several of the 500ml and liter sizes. I carry one with me at all times to stay hydrated!

I don’t practice a lot of yoga at home, just because I don’t think I am very good at it, but when I do I use these yoga blocks. I find they make a lot of the more difficult poses easier. I actually need to buy a new one because my cat chewed one of them up.

I love these resistance bands to create a more challenging workout. I throw them on when I’m doing squats or leg work. I also like these ankle weights. I have the two-pound set!

I do Ballet Beautiful 4-5 times per week and find that wearing ballet shoes is best. These canvas Bloch slippers are amazing and have a split-suede outer sole, which makes them comfortable and easy to move in. Make sure you read about the sizing. I had to study the reviews to find my perfect size. You want them to fit snug.

I just bought a FitBit. After reading several reviews on Amazon and thinking about going with the Apple Watch, I decided to go with the new, slim, Alta HR model. I am just getting familiar with this baby, but love that I can track my progress throughout the day. It keeps me motivated!

I use a jumprope to get my heart rate up fast. I can’t remember the brand name of the one I have, but it looks just like this.

Lastly, I use 2, 3, 5, and 10 pound hand weights for various toning exercises. Mine are similar to these ones.

I do have a few other things that rarely get much use like a Bosu balance trainer, kettle bell, and this 15 pound medicine ball, which I bought for BBG. These things are great, I just find that I prefer using others more and enjoy doing workouts that don’t require them.

I think that’s about it and hope this list helped. What about you? What are your favorite workout essentials? I would love to know! xxJ

HOW I MATCHA: MY MORNING TEA LATTE

06/28/2017

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I quit drinking coffee two months ago. As hard as it was to give up my morning java addiction, it is one of the best decisions I have made for myself in a really long time. Since I quit, I have had zero anxiety, except for one nasty spell of jitters I had a couple of days ago, after I took Midol, which has caffeine listed as one of its main ingredients. Into the trash went the bottle. One of the hardest hurdles for me quitting coffee was the familiar and comforting routine of my husband bringing me my morning cup. I take it black, and then sip from bed for the next hour, while I wake up, answering emails, and getting my day started. The sound of the coffee grinder each morning, the smell lingering through the house—I do miss those things—but, I don’t miss them enough to go back to anxiety-filled days and sleepless nights. RIP coffee.

I did, however, find a replacement and I have grown to love (and depend on). Enter the matcha latte. Matcha is everywhere these days, and I am so thankful that it is because I’m completely hooked. But, doesn’t matcha has caffeine? Yes, it does, but Matcha creates a sort of calming alertness that has none of the “rush and crash” side effects that coffee has. Matcha is also loaded with antioxidants and has been linked to numerous health benefits. After much experimentation and trying different concoctions, I found my perfect blend. I look forward to this ritual each morning and sometimes in the afternoon, too.

This is how I matcha:

8 oz. unsweetened coconut milk
1-1.5 teaspoons high-quality drinking matcha (My favorite is Ipoddo Tea recommended by this rad chick Lee or Matcha Ninja)
1-2 tablespoons tocos
1 teaspoon cordyceps
.5 teaspoon mucuna pruiens
.5 teaspoon ashwaganda
a pinch of raw vanilla
1-2 tablespoons coconut butter (or 1 Tbsp coconut butter + 1 Tbsp sesame butter)
a good sprinkle of organic cinnamon
4 oz. boiling water

For those of you wanting to try the Moonjuice cordyceps and raw vanilla I use (or any other Moonjuice products), I have a code for 20% your first order. Just use this affiliate link.

First, add coconut milk to your blender (I have this one from Vitamix). Next, sift the matcha using a small mesh strainer and matcha spoon. Add all other ingredients into blender and blend for 1-2 minutes.

That’s it. Pour, sip, and enjoy!

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