When you’re tired of cooking, read this

screenshot_20190514-080314_instagram2039418831844602702.jpgAbout a year ago I tried out a pre-made meal delivery service to make life easier after vacation. Because, really, who wants to whip up a nice dinner after hours of traveling? Not, I!

It seemed like a good idea at the time, but if you read my post, you know it was a HUGE flop. The portions were small and inconsistent, most were upwards of 700 calories, and the subscription was really expensive. Well, that company received many poor reviews from other customers and is now out of business. Yikes.

A few weeks ago, I saw an ad for another pre-made meal service on Facebook. Oh no, not another one. *insert HUGE eye-roll* But after reading dozens of reviews, I decided to give Freshly a chance – because sometimes cooking every night gets old…and exhausting. I found a coupon online and ordered 12 meals for just over $75 (that’s 6 dinners for my husband and me).

I had very low expectations, but was presently surprised by it all: the biodegradable packaging, the large portion sizes, delicious taste, and just overall ease of everything from menu selection to taking that first bite.

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Clever packaging!

If you’re looking for something to make life easier after vacation or during the week, don’t like cooking, or think you can’t, you’ve hit the jackpot! Check out all the reasons why I love my Freshly subscription below.

What I loved

Plan – There are several options to fit every need – anywhere from 4-12 meals per delivery, starting at $49.99/week. The more you order, the cheaper it is per meal.

Schedule – Pick the delivery days (Tuesday through Saturday) that are best for you and skip the ones that aren’t. Perfect if you’ll be out of town and need to set a different date or hold a week altogether.

Options – Select different recipes or all of the same – there are so many choices. Dishes include yummy concoctions like pork carnitas, steak peppercorn, and buffalo chicken with loaded cauliflower. You can also set your dietary preferences and choose foods you want to avoid.

Meals – All are perfectly portioned – you won’t be left hungry, which is a big deal in my opinion.  They’re also free from gluten and refined sugars, are protein packed, and all-natural. When you go to place your order, there are icons under each meal selection that let you know if the meal is under 500 calories, under 35 carbs, paleo-friendly, dairy free, etc. This is a nice touch and it makes it super easy to find meals that fit within your lifestyle.

Ease – Many of the meals take less than three minutes to heat in the microwave. Just dig in! And if you prefer to heat in the oven, there are directions for that too. To keep things fresh, you’ll have to freeze any meals you won’t eat within three days and adjust heating times appropriately.

Taste – The dishes are wonderfully seasoned and bursting with flavor. Also, not salty. Freshly encourages customers to make the meals their own by adding spices, sauces, dressings, etc. Honestly, I’m not a big fan or red meat, but the steak peppercorn was the BEST steak I’ve ever eaten (see photo below). The whole meal was absolutely delicious!

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Rewards – Invite friends and when they order, you’ll get a $40 credit and they’ll get $20 off their first two orders.

Truthfully, there was nothing I didn’t like (or love) about this service.

What’s new?

Freshly just started offering better-for-you snacks. I haven’t tried them yet, but they seem pretty interesting. $24.99 will get you 10 snacks such as plantain chips, protein popcorn, and fruity energy bars. Snacks free of gluten, artificial sweeteners, and ingredients.

Bottom Line: Freshly surpassed all of my expectations. It’s perfect for anyone who doesn’t have much time in the evenings (or doesn’t like to cook!), but still wants to eat balanced and delicious meals. Plus, with the warmer weather coming soon, who wants to spend hours in the kitchen – or even think about turning the oven on? Based off my experience alone, I highly recommend the service.

Visit freshly.com to learn more and sign up. To get $20 off your first two orders (6 meals for $39), click here!

 

*This post was not sponsored by Freshly. Above is my honest opinion about a service that has made my life easier and I hope it can do the same for you. If you use my referral link, I will receive a credit to my account and you’ll get discounted pricing for two weeks.

When in San Diego

Last month, my husband and I were fortunate to spend a week in San Diego, soaking up the sun and beautiful Spring weather. While he was in a conference for three days, I was able to lounge around the hotel – catching some rays poolside, working out on the balcony, and strolling around the bay.

If you have the opportunity, I’d recommend staying at the Loews Coronado right on Coronado Bay. It’s pricey, but they have so many things to do on-site that you never have to leave! I will forever miss my morning fruit smoothie and chocolate chip scone followed by a dip in the pool and some of the best tacos and flautas I’ve ever had for lunch. Vacation life is sweet, isn’t it?

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Below are four fun places to visit if you happen to find yourself in America’s Finest City.

San Diego Zoo

Usually, I’m not a zoo person. I’ve been to the Bronx Zoo exactly 3 times in my almost 30 years of life and went to a drive-through safari zoo in Florida once about 10 years ago. That’s the extent of it. But, I must say that this zoo surpassed my expectations. Most of all, I loved learning about the company’s mission to save species around the world. This zoo isn’t about holding the animals captive for visitors’ pleasure – it’s about providing optimal care and preservation of species. That’s something I can fully support.

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The San Diego Zoo is situated on 100 acres within Balboa Park, a very large area that houses many other attractions including the Japanese Friendship Garden and the Air & Space Museum. The zoo is home to over 3,700 rare and endangered animals and over 700,000 plants. It’s open all year, and you can even book your next party there. The best part – it’s not just for kids.

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$56 will buy an adult one-day pass, which provides admission to the zoo, a 35-minute guided bus tour (which was actually very cool), access to buses and an aerial tram within, and all regularly scheduled shows. You can also add on a 4-D theater experience for a little extra.

Visit zoo.sandiegozoo.org to learn more, purchase tickets, or donate. You can even adopt an animal!

La Jolla Beach

Pronounced “la hoy-ya,” this beach is actually pretty large and each location along the coast has something different to do.

  • The Children’s Pool Beach (in the video above) is a prime spot for viewing sea lions and taking photos of the crashing waves. But don’t get your hopes up, the water is pretty cold (especially if you are used to Florida beaches) and the air smells very salty and fishy.
  • La Jolla Cove is surrounded by cliffs and is home to a lot of marine life. It’s a good area to snorkel and scuba dive.
  • La Jolla Shores has the best sand and is the prime spot if you want to swim or launch a kayak.

The Shout House

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To be honest, the food here was just okay, but the real reason for a visit is the entertainment. The Shout House is a dueling piano bar for the 21+ crowd. Two performers play face to face with requests provided by the audience. There’s a cover charge most nights and reservations are encouraged as it tends to fill up fast. It’s a great place for a date night, but you can also book parties. Either way – you’ll have fun requesting songs and singing along.

Visit theshouthouse.com for more info or to book a table.

The Gaslamp Quarter

This is the place to go when you’re hungry. They have everything from Japanese to Italian and Peruvian to American cuisine. Not to mention clubs and the SUNBURN Pool Lounge at the Hard Rock Hotel. We even booked a ghost tour that stopped at a few places at the Gaslamp Quarter which were rumored to be haunted. Whether you believe in that stuff or not, the tour was entertaining for the fun facts and rich history of the San Diego area.

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One last note…

Uber and Lyft are BIG in San Diego – at least much more so than in my hometown. The rides are pretty cheap and all of the drivers we encountered suggested fun places to visit. You can also rent electric scooters (which can be found on practically every corner) through the Uber and Lyft apps.

Happy Traveling!

Snacker Hack – Sexy Salads

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My favorite veggies

It might surprise you that I’ve never been a big fan of salad. Unless it’s doused in cheese and toppings and some kind of creamy dressing. Yum!

To me, lettuce is the most useless food – it’s basically all water, no taste. But, salad is one of the easiest ways to hit those daily veggie goals. So I started experimenting with different bases and healthier toppings to create the ultimate sexy salad. Below are some tips to go from drab to fab:

Try something new

One day I needed something quick and easy for lunch, so I grabbed one of those Dole Chopped Salad Kits – it had a mix of carrots and kale and cabbage, so I figured I’d give it a go. It was delicious! Now I make all of my salads with cabbage – and some arugula – because they both have a nice peppery flavor – and are more palatable than just plain lettuce.

Stick with veggies you like

It also might surprise you that I don’t love ALL veggies. I thought I hated peppers until recently – turns out I just don’t like the green ones because they’re on the bitter side. But orange, yellow, and red? Yes, please! If you aren’t a huge veggie lover, stick with the one or two you do like so it doesn’t feel like torture to eat your lunch. Sweeter veggies like cherry tomatoes, snap peas, and baby carrots are safe choices.

Don’t forget to accessorize

There are a ton of options to give you some crunch, a touch of sweetness, or that wild pop of flavor you crave. A few of my favorites are avocado, craisins, sunflower seeds, frizzled onions, bacon bits, and clementine sections. Simple salads are so boring…and overrated.

Add some protein

A salad without some kind of protein is really just bunny food – you’ll be hungry within the hour. Add some substance in the form of hard-boiled eggs, shrimp, chicken, tofu – you name it. This will help keep you full and add variety to your meals. Especially if you’re eating a lot of salads during the week. I recently started using a can of chunk light, low sodium tuna. It takes literally 5 seconds to open the can and adds 24 grams of protein.

Find a good dressing

A lot of store-bought dressings are filled with crap, like added sugars in the form of corn syrup. Yuck. Choose something flavorful that won’t break the sugar and calorie bank. If you MUST have your Thousand Island, try diluting it with a little lime juice (trust me on this one) first. You can also switch up your dressings to change the whole “feel” of your salad.

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Literally my lunch each work day for the past few weeks – I’m sold on cabbage salad!

So, if you’re like me and you’re not sold on “traditional” salad with boring leaves and such, you might want to give some of these ideas a try.

One more thing…

You know how you always have to add more dressing because some parts are just too dry? Usually, it’s because we try to use one serving of dressing on a monster salad made for an entire family! Even healthy foods should be eaten in moderation.

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I portion out everything using my Portion Fix containers from Beachbody. They make life a lot easier.

Here’s my equation for a perfectly dressed salad:

  • 1 cup base veggies (cabbage, arugula, endive, etc.)
  • 1 cup fun veggies (cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, etc.)
  • 3/4 cup protein (chicken, chopped egg, tuna, etc.)
  • 1/4 cup accessories (avocado, craisins, nuts, etc.)
  • 2 tablespoons dressing

Voila – The perfect salad!

Just be kind

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The other day I was driving and came to a 4-way stop sign. I got there first and had the right away, but this dude rolled right through and cut me off. Obviously, it got me fired up. Who does he think he is? This a$$ of all a$$es. He even looked like a d-bag with his gelled hair and sunglasses and car with a loud muffler. Don’t even get me started.

Less than 30 seconds later – like before I had the chance to flip him off or spout some profanities (out loud) – he made a left turn into the hospital parking lot. Oh. God. I immediately felt terrible for my thoughts. For judging when I didn’t know the circumstances. What if his wife was going into labor? Or his mother was on her death bed?

I mean, that could be total bull and maybe he really was a d-bag, but, the point is, you just never know. And that’s why I (we) shouldn’t cast stones.

Why am I sharing this?

This past Lent, I figured I’d do something meaningful instead of giving up something like gum (don’t chew) or alcohol (rarely drink) or cable (don’t even have). I picked up a copy of Gabby Bernstein’s May Cause Miracles, a 6-week guided practice with twice daily exercises that include prayers, mantras, meditations, and small assignments.

After the first week, a few things were glaringly obvious.

  • I care too much about what other people think of me
  • It’s hard for me to forgive
  • I judge others viciously

All of the above were/are holding me back from having my best life. It’s sad that I’ve allowed it, but it’s more important to acknowledge and address it.

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Finished in 2.5 days. A must-read for Millennials and Gen Z!

As Rachel Hollis so eloquently reinforced, “Someone else’s opinion of you is NONE of your business.” Powerful. Profound. And you know what? It’s so true. If I’m okay with me, others should be too. If they aren’t, that’s on them. The same goes for you. Want to live your best life? Just do you.

When it comes to forgiveness, I (we) have to realize that not everyone is going to be sorry for the things they’ve said or done. Maybe because they really don’t care about our feelings. Or maybe, just maybe, because they don’t know they’ve wronged us. It’s so hard, but it’s worth it to let go of things that are out of our control.

And then there’s judging. Society makes it so easy for us to judge others. Look at the tabloids, the news, celebrity gossip. We slut shame and call people names, accuse women of being bad moms and men of being deadbeat dads, we say he’s too fat or she’s too ambitious. The. List. Goes. On.

The fact is, there will always be judgment in the world. There will always be people on the wrong path. There will be hatred and evil and sorrow. But we can do our part and be a little kinder with our thoughts, words, and actions. Because every act of kindness compounds into something big. Together, we can create change.

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My favorite place to read is by the water – it’s so serene.

One last note…

To me, spiritual wellness is even more important than physical. You can lift all the weights and run all the miles, but if you don’t get your mind right – you’re f*cked.

Below are the personal development books* I’ve read in the last six weeks. They’ve been nothing short of inspiring. Hopefully they’ll be of interest to you too!

Current Read: Judgement Detox by Gabby Bernstein.

Peace, Love, Zen
DS

*Links are not affiliate and I will not earn a commission on any purchases made. I usually read reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. and then borrow from my local library – it’s greener and way more economical for the number of books I read annually.

This ONE thing could help you lose weight

Did you know that 80-90% of weight loss is based on nutrition? Essentially, you could eat healthily, not work out, and still come in at a healthy weight.

Even though I workout 5-7x a week, I haven’t seen any big changes in my physique or movement on the scale. And, I’m not going to lie, it’s so freaking annoying.

If I have to pinpoint a date, everything went downhill around Thanksgiving. Afterward, I just kept fumbling around trying to find a nutrition program that worked for me. Once the new year started I jumped on the Keto bandwagon to help me get back to a comfortable place (weight-wise). While the meals were super yummy and filling, and I was only eating 3x per day, I still felt stuck, bloated, and miserable. I gave it three weeks and decided to move on.

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Keto-approved.

Then I went back to basics with Beachbody’s Portion Fix Containers – they’ve helped me slim down in the past, so it made complete sense to give ’em another go. Still, nothing. Do you know how maddening, that is?

I was literally ready to give up. Then I stumbled on a Pin that would change everything…

It’s so obvious, you’ll roll your eyes

It was one of those photos that looked like a scam – “The steps I took to lose over 100 pounds” or something like that. But I clicked on it anyway – because why not? To my surprise, it was actually legit and took me over to a woman’s weight loss blog. There, the author mentioned tracking her food – which I reluctantly do digitally anyway – but via MyFitnessPal. The app showed her calorie and macronutrient counts and gave better insight into how much food she was actually putting into her mouth each day.

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Loaded Oatmeal – under 300 calories and keeps you full for hours!

I’ve never had much success logging every little detail like that because it takes more effort and consistency than I can handle, but I figured I’d try again. I first tried using the Samsung Health app on my phone and immediately, the results were eye-opening!

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Dinner was literally a glass of water, half a Reuben, coleslaw, pickle sliver, and few fries. OH. MY. God.

I couldn’t believe how many extra calories I was consuming and how many vitamins and essential nutrients I wasn’t. Everything adds up – even those little 50 or 100 calorie bites or condiments. I cook or bake with EVOO because it’s a healthier alternative to some fats, but it has a whopping 120 calories per tablespoon. YIKES! Once I knew this tracking thing was gold, I decided to download the MyFitnessPal app to access more features and insights.

A few chips here, a cookie there, a little butter in the pan, a bit of cream in a cup of tea – when you write the words down on paper, it doesn’t seem so threatening. When you see the calories, carbs, sugar, etc. broken down, it’s another story.

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Still learning to reach my targets.

In the last few days of logging nutrition on MyFitnessPal, I’ve noticed I feel so much better (and thinner!) when I have a great workout and keep my calories under the recommended target. It’s really been as basic as that: burn more calories than you consume.

Let thy food be yummy

Because I’m not a fan of boring food, I checked out a few Hungry Girl books from the library. They are filled with healthy, low cal meals and that punch of flavor you crave. Some items on the menu for the coming week: Chocolate-Chippy Cheese Danish, Devilish Eggs, Shrimpylicious Egg Rolls, and Buffalo Chicken Taquitos. Is this real life?

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While this method of calorie and macronutrient tracking might not work for everyone, I’m sure it could help some. Sometimes it just takes little adjustments to make BIG changes!

How to find a workout that sparks joy

I am probably one of the very few who didn’t fall head over heels for Transform:20, the new workout by Beachbody Super Trainer Shaun T. I tried a sample workout before launch and just wasn’t feeling it, so I knew I wouldn’t be motivated to complete it.

Many people who say they hate working out just haven’t found the right workout…yet.

Personally, I hate going to the gym. I’ve tried it time and time again, but I just don’t feel comfortable in that scene. Last year, my husband and I started building our own home gym, and I feel like it’s pretty complete now. The great thing is that it doesn’t even have to be expensive! We found a barely used NordicTrack treadmill on Facebook Marketplace for $150, picked up a barbell set from DICK’S Sporting Goods, and scored a nice spin bike from Bath and Beyond (coupon eligible!).

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Said bike! Isn’t it great?

The above, coupled with a dance floor, huge projector, and many other odds and ends, makes our gym my happy place.

What works for me

After years of experimenting with different workouts, I’ve found a few that stand out as favorites. Instead of just sticking with one workout program, I decided to create a schedule incorporating all of my favorites. Two days a week I’ll do pure cardio, in the form of dance or step. (I’ve found that I’m better suited for longer cardio sessions in the evenings, so if I plan it right, I can bust out my workouts after work while my husband goes to the local gym.) Three days will be cardio/resistance in the form of spin and weight lifting. Two days are reserved for light workouts such as yoga, or just an old fashioned rest day.

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Some of my favorite dance workouts!

My current schedule looks like this:

  • Mon/Wed – 60 mins Cardio (Evening)
  • Tues/Fri/Sat – 15-30 min Spin & 30 mins Strength Training (Morning)
  • Thurs/Sun – Rest/Yoga/Meditation

How can you find your perfect workout?

  1. Do more of things you already enjoy. Like hiking? Plan outings with friends or take your fur baby for extra long walks on a local trail. Love dancing at the club? Bring the energy home. YouTube has some fun workouts, but you could also opt for something more regimented, like Beachbody’s Cize or Country Heat (pictured above) – both amazingly fun!
  2. Try something new. A lot of gyms and online classes offer free trials or discounts for first-time members/users. Keep your eyes peeled for deals. I just scored great ones from the Sweat app (3 months for $1) and Peloton Digital (3 months for $19.49 plus tax).
  3. Take note of what your friends are doing. A friend of mine is into spin class. I did some research and found out that local classes are pretty expensive – like $150 a month. It ended up being cheaper to buy a bike and pedal away in the comfort of my own home. One of my friends loves yoga, another does MMA, a few others are runners. Ask to join a workout and see what you think.

Really, it’s just about experimenting. Not everyone will love every workout. If a workout doesn’t spark joy, kick it to the curb and say “thank you, next.”

I tried the Commit30 Planner. Here’s what happened…

For almost the entire month of December, I was OBSESSED with the Commit30 Planner. I visited the website an excessive amount of times, downloaded a few of the free PDFs and challenges, and I had it sitting in my cart for a really long time.

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The, 2019 Weekly Day Planner, which I eventually purchased (above), comes in 5 colors and 2 convenient sizes. I opted for the larger 7″x10″ in gold for an affordable price of $34.99. Compared to most other planners out there – some only designed for 30-90 days – this is a steal!

Features

  • Full-year planner with monthly and weekly views
  • Yearly vision board (and space for a monthly vision as well)
  • Notes section for each month (bullet journal style)
  • 30-day challenge template and goal planning for each month
  • List of US holidays for 2019 & 2020
  • Bullet journal in the back
  • Pocket folder on the back flap
  • Bookmark and sticker
  • BONUS: Super-fast shipping (I ordered it on 12/28 and it arrived on the 31st – just in time!)

Stickers

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You can purchase stickers for the planner on the Commit30 site, but I’ve found Michael’s craft store to have more variety and cheaper prices – plus, you can’t beat those 40% off coupons! I loaded up on stickers to add dimension to my plans: budget, fitness, and random little things. Life is better in color – rainbow colors!

My Experience

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February’s looking good with a trip to Peru, Valentine’s Day, and snow tubing!

While I love this planner so, so much, I need to keep reminding myself that I’m not a planner girl. A sticker girl for sure, but I always end up preferring a digital (or mental) account of my plans and to-do list. The only section I’ve used religiously is the monthly layout, where I can track EVERYTHING that’s important to me:

  • when bills are due
  • how many times I fill up my gas tank
  • what I spend on groceries
  • number of workouts
  • starting and ending weight
  • weekend plans
  • meal prep
  • housework
  • and pretty much everything else

I’ve never been a fan of keeping a detailed daily workout log (it records on my phone) or writing down my meals (for the most part, I follow my weekly meal plan). I thought this planner would make those tasks more fun, but daily tracking will never be my cup of tea.

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Each month has a few words of wisdom at the start. 

The Bottom Line: This planner/journal is amazing and I love the idea of it. It’s perfect for someone who loves keeping lists, planning EVERYTHING, tracking food and workouts, and carrying around a journal to make note of random things. It would also be great for people looking to set and track goals, keep a physical schedule, or replace an unfavorable planner.