Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie

The last couple of weeks have been interesting.  Housing hunting in Portland continues to be slightly unpleasant and more competitive than I generally like.  We have seen a little less than 30 homes at this point and have just put in our third offer.  We shall see how it goes!  This has been an interesting process because I spend my working hours with folks who are experiencing homelessness and battling this fiercely competitive housing market in a very different way.  They are fighting just to find any place to live, while I am looking for a home from the comfort of my safe apartment that I can afford.  Despite how frustrating buying a house has been, I finish each day feeling grateful to be in this position.  We are incredibly lucky and I won’t forget that. 🙂

The stress of all of this has sent my sugar cravings through the freaking roof!!  Does anyone else experience this?  You are going through something stressful and you are suddenly the Cookie Monster devouring every sweet in sight!  I’ve been trying to reach for natural sweets, such as dates, but at work I have been slightly less successful.  We get weekly donations of pastries from Starbucks and cupcakes from Saint Cupcake so I am always surrounded by surgary, buttery, bready foods.  It’s intense!

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It’s a new week, however, and I am ready to tame the sugar beast!  I am starting this week with a new resolve and hope to access other coping mechanisms for stress.  In addition to my morning work outs, I will try going for a little walk at times where I feel like I need that chocolate cookie staring at me (i.e. when I am feeling particularly stressed).  Other tactics I have found are helpful for me when I am overwhelmed include cleaning (I know, I’m weird) and taking a minute to breathe and drink some water.  I also made some tasty date and nut bites (using this recipe) and can rely on the deliciousness of chocolate Shakeology too!

I made this smoothie for the first time a couple of weeks ago and it really was like drinking a chocolate covered strawberry.  However, instead of a couple strawberries dipped in chocolate, it was a big ol’ glass of cold, creamy, super foods that tasted like ice cream!   Perfect for post-work out or to cool off on a warm afternoon (if you are lucky enough to be in sunny Sping/Summer weather already!).  This has definitely been added to my regular smoothie flavor rotation 🙂

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie | scottileona.com

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie

Serves 2

Strawberry Layer

Add to your blender the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 4-5 large organic frozen strawberries
  • 1 scoop Strawberry Shakeology
  • Large handful+ of ice

Blend and pour between two glasses.  Place the glasses in the freezer while you make the chocolate layer.

Chocolate Layer

In your blender, combine:

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 scoop Chocolate Shakeology (I used the vegan one)
  • 2 tsp almond butter
  • Ice

Pour on top of the strawberry layers and enjoy!

Happy Monday!

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My Journey to Healthy and Happy, Part 1

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As I sit in my apartment in Portland, roasting Kabocha squash and cooking quinoa, watching silly TV, and thinking about the details of the marathon I am running in 2 days, I can’t help but reflect on how much my life has changed in the last 4 years.

I had started my career in social work by working and volunteering throughout college and felt I was so lucky to have found a field of work I was passionate about.  What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was the emotional and physical toll I was putting on myself by simply doing too much for others.  I poured myself into my work and left little space for me.  On top of that, I was living in an expensive city and had to work two jobs after college to cover rent.  This left me a depressed, confused, and anxious young lady, not to mention the extra weight I had gained.  When Nick and I moved to Portland, we knew things had to be different in order for both of us to sustain our health and well-being while I attended graduate school for social work and public health.

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We took the opportunity of a new city and the unknown world we were entering to make some big life changes.  After a stressful couple of years, we took a step back and realized we had neglected ourselves, which greatly impacted our health and our relationship.  We had each put on at least 35 pounds and were no longer comfortable in our own skin.  We didn’t know that much about nutrition, but Nick had the Beachbody programs p90x and Insanity.  He did p90x for a while, got into the habit of exercising regularly and started to see some results.  He then started Insanity and I will never forget the day he told me I should start with p90x because he thought Insanity was too intense for me!  I’m the type of person who takes the doubts of others as motivation, so I immediately processed his advice as a challenge.

I started doing p90x work outs and slowly learning about purchasing whole foods and preparing food at home as much as possible.  At first the progress and my focus was slow.  By the summer of 2011, Nick and I were getting the hang of Portland life and I decided to go all in with my health and fitness.  I started Insanity and tried Shakeology for the first time.  I quickly realized how amazing I felt when I spent an hour a day doing something that was only for me.  Not only was I feeling stronger and so accomplished after each work out, but all those extra pounds I had acquired were coming off.  I replaced one meal a day with Shakeology and continued to learn about nutrition and clean eating.  I also started connecting with people who were also doing Beachbody programs and found myself as part of a community FULL of positive people who have the same passion for healthy and learning how to live their best life possible.

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As I continued through graduate school, I continued to incorporate exercise and healthy eating in my everyday life.  I’m not going to lie, it was tough.  I was working on two Master’s degrees, completing internships for school, AND working full time.  To fit this all in, I had work, school, or internships every day of the week.  There was a time when I would take a vacation day from work so I would get ONE day off in a month.  During my third and final year of grad school, I was working nights on top of completing school.  It was an absurd and unsustainable schedule, but I had to make it work.  In order to keep myself sane and healthy, I kept working out and learning about healthy eating and included those two things in my schedule just like I would a class or work.  I would find those couple of hours that were free each day to squeeze in a work out, cook, and pack meals to bring to work and school.  I kept at it because I could see and feel what exercise and healthy eating was doing not only for my body, but for my mind too!

Since the start of my journey to health and happiness, I have lost 35 pounds.  I have learned SO much about food and nutrition and I am no longer intimidated by farmer’s markets or the unfamiliar foods I may get in my CSA box.  I also don’t feel lost around a yoga mat, a set of dumbbells, or a stability ball.  I have run 8 half marathons and am a few days from completing my first full marathon.  I have been able to tackle longer and longer distances in my running because of the confidence that I have gained by completing work out programs like p90x and Insanity.  I have gained confidence in my body’s ability to endure and take great comfort in the community I have surrounded myself with that supports me wholeheartedly in reaching these goals.  I have literally watched muscles appear on my body.  This confidence transfers into other areas of my life as well, allowing me to feel more comfortable taking risks and making tough decisions at work.  Most importantly, I have learned how to balance my extremely hectic work life with time for myself.  I spend an hour every morning focusing on both my physical and mental strength and when I eat well, I know I am appreciating myself and my body.

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And I have done all of this from the comfort of my own home.  Nick and I now have an arsenal of work out programs and have been steadily building our home gym equipment, despite the tiny size of our apartment!  During the times when we were flat broke and could never have afforded gym memberships, having the option to purchase a complete work out program that we could use over and over again was amazing.  I still love working out at home.  My morning commute from bed to “the gym” is about 15 seconds, leaving zero room for excuses when I’m not feeling up for it.

What started as a challenge to complete that intense program from the infomercials has led to a whole new lifestyle for my partner and me.  We focus on our health, focus on time together and on creating balance between work and our other interests.  I am in a much better state of mind and can recognize when I need to take a break from the city or work life and get to the mountains.  It’s been a difficult, eye-opening, and rewarding journey that I still only see in the beginning stages.  I continue to strive to learn more, love more, and push myself farther.  Thank you to all of you who support me and join me in my journey to happy and healthy ❤

Is Shakeology Worth the Price?

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You’ve probably seen a whole bunch of excited fitness folks posting pictures of their Shakeology drinks all over the internet and you may be wondering what all the fuss is about and if it is worth the price.  The Shakeology website lists the many healthy ingredients and benefits of adding the supplement to your diet, but what the website doesn’t tell you is how a busy and often broke graduate student can afford a monthly supply.

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One way I have made room for Shakeology in my monthly budget is I have prioritized my health and fitness.  By putting healthy living first, I am spending money wisely on quality foods instead of spending it on garbage foods, alcoholic drinks, and going out.  I used to love to stop at one of Portland’s many coffee shops and grab a latte and possibly a snack just about every day.  Furthermore, on long days that I did not prep meals for, I would grab dinner at a nearby restaurant for around $6.  If I have school, my internship, or work 7 days a week, I could be spending between $10 and $70 per week on store bought meals and snacks.  That is $40 to $280 per month just for lunch and a snack!  Yikes!  Replacing those calorie laden lattes and store bought meals with Shakeology and home-cooked meals has saved me money and time and has given me huge rewards in my fitness goals.  Furthermore, ordering Shakeology Home Direct means I don’t pay shipping costs and a new bag arrives at my doorstep every 30 days without me having to remember to order and wait for another bag!  You can set up Home Direct to alternate flavors so you never get bored either.  Acquiring a Team Beachbody Membership gets you 10% off all orders.  Also, being a Team Beachbody Coach gives you a 25% discount.

photo-4I drink Shakeology everyday at lunch time to give me an afternoon boost of more than 20 different antioxidants and phytonutrients, fiber, prebiotics, digestive enzymes, amino acids and protein all in a delicious smoothie.  Who doesn’t like to feel like they are drinking a decadent chocolate milkshake in the midst of a stressful day?  Because my mornings are usually rushed, making Shakeology is a quick way to make sure I have a filling lunch and I won’t need to grab take out while I am at work, school, or internship.  Since adding Shakeology to my daily diet, I have decreased my caffeine intake and can easily resist the multiple cartons of ice cream you’ll find in my freezer at any given time.  Combined with exercise and a clean diet, I have lost 21 pounds since I started drinking Shakeology.

Shakeology comes in 4 flavors, two of which are vegan!  I blend Shakeology with a wide variety of ingredients depending on my mood and nutritional needs including: coconut milk or almond milk, fruit (fresh or frozen), spinach, almond butter, avocado, slivered almonds, oats or coconut oil.  I also use extracts to create a variety of delicious flavors.  To get an idea of the versatility, some recipes for each flavor can be found at the following:

Order Shakeology Home Direct here and I’ll send you a fun free gift to help you get started (or continue) your fitness journey!

Of course, Shakeology is backed by Beachbody’s 30-day Monday Back Guarantee: “If you don’t start to see and feel the benefits of Shakeology within the first month of using it, or if you’re not 100% satisfied for any reason, just return it within 30 days for a full refund of the purchase price, less s&h – guaranteed.  That’s our promise to you.”  You can keep the gift I send you 🙂

As always, if you have questions feel free to email me at scottileona@gmail.com.