Category Archives: Wellness Wednesday

Wellness Wednesday: Mental Health vs. Physical? {Asheville, NC Photographer}

There are so many studies done on how mental health directly affects our physical health. The idea that being stressed can cause you to overeat, or being depressed can keep you from physical activity. It fascinates me that these two things are almost mutually ‘inclusive’. If you aren’t happy then you won’t practice healthy habits, but, the best way to keep your mental health is to eat healthy and stay active. It creates a chicken and egg situation, which one needs to come first? I’m not unhappy by any means. Quite the contrary at the moment. But, these days are as hectic as ever.

The truth is, we’re all busy. We have varying degrees of what stress we can handle, but, we all typically are handling what we can. I’m at a place in my life where I know my limits. I know how much I can do at one time before I feel like my head will explode. I do my best to maintain that balance, but, sometimes you can’t avoid the extra tasks. That’s why it’s so important to find those outlets to release that stress.

But, what if your outlets are eating out, grabbing drinks, or grabbing coffee with a good book? How does that play into creating a healthier lifestyle for yourself?

I think I’m at a place where I have to re-evaluate the way I think about things like that. I need to view exercise as my stress relief. At the moment I view it as something I need to do for my body. But, in the past, the only times I’ve been consistent have been  when I view it as something I NEED for my mental health rather than my physical. Because those mental changes are immediate and I can see the progress.

What do you think? Does mental or physical health come first? Do you de-stress to take care of yourself or take care of yourself to de-stress?



with love and health,


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Learning to Re-Route with out Giving Up: Wellness Wednesday! {Asheville, NC Photographer}

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been able to write a Wellness Wednesday post! As most of you know, about a month or so ago I started a healthy eating journey that took me to an extreme place. I gave up dairy, wheat, sugar, and more. I wrote in my original post that I was scared to start because I was scared to quit. If I never started then I could never quit and I’d never have failed. Solid logic right?

Well, after three weeks of eating strictly I hit a roadblock called mother nature. That one week a month that comes around where I crave chocolate… What we affectionately call in our house, “chocolate week.” Much like a vampires craving for blood {can you tell I watch vampire diaries while I edit.}, I began to crave chocolate. I was so frustrated with the restrictions that I put on myself that I couldn’t just indulge a little, I just quit completely. Telling myself that I would take one week a month off. After that week was over, I was so happy to have cheese and milk back that I didn’t bother going back on.

Those three weeks of intense ‘dieting’ taught me three things. 1. I really like cheese. 2. I’m capable of being that strict eventually if I want to. 3. Everytime I restrict myself that much for the sake of losing weight, I gain it instead.

Instead of quitting, I’m changing things. To be honest, I eat pretty darn healthy already. With the exception of the occasional pizza or chinese take-out, I’m not doing anything too crazy. I also know that I work best when I make small changes over time. I’ve changed my eating habits DRASTICALLY over the years. But, it wasn’t overnight and I don’t think that it can be.

So, what now…

I’ve done a lot of thinking and processing about what works for ME. I remembered that I always eat healthier when I’m working out. I also know that I don’t do well with working out at home. So, I have to join a gym. I’m in the process of finding a gym close by that’s within our budget. I think the root of healthy living for ME starts with exercise. I have to be active at the base of things. Also, with a job that is primarily in the office, I have to make a point to be active outside of my work hours.

Second, I know that I snack on junk less if I’m drinking lots of water. So, I’m setting a goal to drink 1 gallon of water a day. That way I can keep cravings away and feel full longer.

But, that’s it. I’m not cutting out anything from my diet in particular, I’m not counting calories. I’m working out 5 days a week and drinking a gallon of water a day. I don’t know how long for. But, until it feels normal at least. I realize that I won’t have rapid weight loss or whatever. But, I will be healthier. I don’t want to binge diet, that’s never been my thing. But, I do want to be healthy and to take care of my body, that’s always been a priority for me.

So, that’s where I’m at. Anyone have thoughts or stories to share from their own health journeys? I’d love to hear!!!

Now, continuing with the theme of self-acceptance and all that. I’m posting a pic of me in my bathing suit. Not because I think I’m looking for anything. But, because there was once a time in my life that I would NEVER have even worn a bathing suit without boys swimming trunks over it. Because it’s important for me to remember that the process of getting healthy has to begin with liking yourself as you are first.


with love and not giving up,



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Guest Blogger: Katie Ringley on How to Become a Vegetarian! {Asheville, NC Photographer}

**Katie is one of my lovely 2012 brides and one of my very favorite friends! Her and her new hubster are huge fitness buffs! She even writes a blog about it, make sure to check it out here! She has a beautiful story and one of the best personalities of anyone that I know! I am thrilled to have her share her words with ya!**


How To Become a Vegetarian?

Or maybe even Vegan?

And why the heck would you want to?

Okay, I will preface this blog post by saying that I’m not 100% vegan nor am I 100% vegetarian. I do however try to be. I also did not agree with this way of life until about 4 months ago, even though I’ve always been a huge advocate for health.

The reason for my “change” was a documentary called “Forks over Knives” which then lead into tons of hours online researching with my hubby. We didn’t just want to take the documentary at face value because you never know these days and all of it could just be made up data, although it all sounded great.

I won’t get into all of the details, but my first request is that you watch it. It’s free on Hulu! How easy is that? Then if you get interested, buy the book.

Forks over knives promotes a plant based diet, primarily fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and tubers. It does NOT include dairy, eggs, refined foods like bleached flour, sugar, or oil, nor does it promote meat (including fish).

How in the WORLD do you do this? Impossible right?

It felt that way to my husband and I at first also, but we were also kind of excited to try something new. And, we have learned SO much. Have you ever tasted quinoa, tempeh, tofu, or buckwheat? Well neither had I! I had also never had spaghetti squash, which is my new favorite!

How to Become Vegan:

  1. I would suggest doing some research. Start slow, because especially if you aren’t used to this, it can be difficult. Find the reason WHY you want to? I personally want to live until I’m 100, and I want to feel awesome doing it. Lower BP, cholesterol, weight, or just have more energy?

I know it’s cheesy, but it’s not an easy switch but one that’s well worth it.

  1. Convince yourself that it costs you less, not more. Meat is expensive so if you use the age old, “eating healthy costs more” then write it all down as my husband and I did. We calculated that we would save $50/month just on protein alone even if we bought protein supplements (hemp, not soy or whey).
  2. Make a grocery list. It will be long with TONS of veggies and fruits. Find recipes, make it fun. It’s not hard, and there are TONS of options but here is maybe just an idea of a day.

Breakfast: oatmeal with flaxseed and almond milk with a banana

Lunch: tofu salad with tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, and onions

Snack: Protein shake with strawberries and blueberries

Dinner: Broiled fish and steamed squash and zuchinni

Snack: almonds and an apple

[Disclaimer: From my research, the only reason ‘fish’ was considered bad was because of the treatment to the fish not the food itself. I won’t go into my opinion on that, but just suffice it to say that I still eat fish hehe!] The key here is variation, and keeping spices handy just in case you aren’t used to the diet and think that it needs more salt. Most processed foods are FILLED with salt therefore if you take those out entirely, then you will crave the salt even if you don’t realize it. Tanner keeps “Mrs. Dash” which is a salt free substitute on hand, and we like Balsalmic Vingerette because this also has no sodium.

  1. You won’t starve as you are currently thinking. Personally, my husband has a hard time getting enough calories in for the day because vegetables and bananas and apples and grapefruit and strawberries and carrots and onions and tofu and tempeh and squash and zuchinni and mushrooms (you get the point) have such low caloric density that it’s impossible not to be stuffed.
  2. And you won’t gag off of all of these new choices. They are GOOD. Our culture has just convinced us that healthy foods taste bad, but once you get your body off those cravings, you find a new world out there! J

It seems daunting at first, but there are so many cookbooks, and it becomes a hobby. I have so many new staples that I love that I never even knew existed before, which is so cool to find! I can say that dairy has been the hardest for me (yogurt, egg whites, cheese, etc..) but I keep on pushing because I have seen the research and know the benefits!! So, check it out and let me know what you think! J You won’t regret it!


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Wellness Wednesday: Week 2 of P.I.N.K Method.


I’ve been following the P.I.N.K Method for a week and a half now. It’s gotten easier in some ways and more difficult in others. All-in-all, I’m still excited to be doing this and can’t wait to see what the rest of the year holds. This week I’ve been thinking a lot about wanting to find a balance. I want to be able to go out to eat with friends if I want to. Or enjoy a slice of pizza with people if we’re having people over. I’m already allowing myself 1 free meal a week {the meal that we have as a house together} However, what if I go to someones house and they cook things I can’t eat. What if I’m at a wedding and there aren’t healthy options? What if I just want to eat a donut. lol I’ve read a million times that you shouldn’t deprive yourself. When changing your eating habits you have to look at it like a life-change. Which I definitely am. But, I’m nervous to let things slip too much and then I’m not changing anything at all.  I’ve tossed around a few ideas…

1. One cheat day a month.

On this day I can eat anything that I want. My expectation is that I’ll feel so awful that I’ll immediately regret it and have no problem going back to eating clean. However, a month is a long time to wait. I worry that I’ll get cravings before then and quit just so I can eat what i want. Which would be lame.

2. One cheat day a week.

I think this would make it really easy to eat perfectly throughout the week. Because I would just push my cravings to the free day. But, I worry that it’s too often to eat processed foods.

3. Eat whatever I want when I eat out.

Within reason. If I want to go out to a nice dinner than I can eat whatever I want. This doesn’t mean a bunch of french fries and craziness. But, I don’t have to ask if the brussel sprouts were cooked in butter, that kind of thing. I think this would be good if I would only eat out every once in a while. But, I tried that this week and I ate out three times… so…


-Figuring out balance.
-I craved a ton of crazy stuff this week. {pizza being at the top of the list.}
-I struggled with eating out. It’s difficult at this point when I can only eat veggies and lean meats.
-I had to stop drinking coffee. {with the low amount of calories involved in the re-set phase of P.I.N.K, any amount of coffee is making me shaky and anxious.}
-I bought gross whey protein and have struggled drinking my morning smoothies.
-Eating sooo many veggies made it difficult to stick to my usual grocery shopping method of every two weeks. I ran out at the beginning of this week and couldn’t go get more. 😦


-I lost 5 lbs.
-I learned that my absurd amount of energy has nothing to do with coffee consumption.
-I really enjoy eating this way. I love vegetables.
-It’s making me a more creative cook.
-I’m craving exercise. {which I can’t start until monday according to the plan.}
-It’s becoming really normal for me already. Not much of a struggle.

I took pictures of the majority of my meals this week. Check it out.

Grilled non-dairy chicken parm, bun-less turkey burger with cauliflower fries, cucumbers dipped in salsa, buffalo shrimp salad, turkey burger salad, Cauliflower Pizza, and grilled tilapia with asparagus.






with love and wellness,


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Wellness Wednesday: On Making Changes and Earth Shattering Realizations!

I’m coming into this post in a  very vulnerable state of mind. I’ve started and un-started it about 5 times. But, I feel confident that this is a stepping stone, a piece of the puzzle that I’ll need in order to reach my goals. So, here goes.

I’m changing my diet. I’m going to be working REALLY hard to cut out all of the yuck and bring in lots more of the good. I’ll be following the P.I.N.K method because they make it seem simple and it’s seriously healthy. I’ll be following strict eating plans and specific work out regimens. I’m uncomfortable with calling it a diet. Mainly because I think diet implies temporary and that’s not my goal at all. My goal is to change the way I eat and look at food completely. To create a more active lifestyle for myself and to probably lose weight in that process.

Well, that’s how I talk about it. But, the truth is, I’ve been ‘eating healthy’ for years. I’m not a crazy eater {except for one week out of the month} but, I can’t help but feel like I must be doing something wrong. Reading through the P.I.N.K method, I realized that I’m cutting out a lot of things that I usually eat. Ding ding ding! Those are what I must be doing wrong. lol Simple enough right?

Ultimately, my goal is to be able to wear whatever clothes I want without being uncomfortable in my skin, to enjoy a long hike, to know that I’m putting good things into my body, and to have control over my lifestyle.

Now, as I type this, I feel like I’m being untrue to myself. Here’s why: I’m comfortable in my skin-most of the time. I’m happy with the way I look and I have more energy than I know what to do with. It’s something that I’ve worked towards for years, being content with the way I look. That’s not something anyone is born with. To give up that comfort is pretty darn scary. To say that I want to change myself in any way is earth shattering to the confidence I’ve acquired over the years. However, I believe there has to be a balance. Yes, I am content with myself. But, I want to see the possibilities. I want to push my body and my mind to the limit and see what I could accomplish.

There are two reasons that I haven’t committed to anything like this:

1. I’m not a quitter. 

I don’t want to quit anything I start. It’s a trait that I’ve tackled over the years and I feel like I’ve gotten it down. However, because I don’t want to quit, a lot of times I won’t start things if I think I can’t finish them. I’d rather leave them in the hands of whoever can complete them until I feel prepared to take them on. Therefore, with this new plan of mine, I was so scared that I wouldn’t succeed so I just wouldn’t start.

2. Skinny people who eat badly.

yep. It’s just frustrating to watch. So many skinny folks can just eat whatever they want and it’s endearing. Think about a hot girl eating a hamburger-it’s cute, sexy even. Then, think of a robust gal doing the same… exactly. I’ve eaten healthy for so long, but, I wouldn’t restrict myself because it just doesn’t feel fair. Why should I have to work so hard at my diet when naturally skinny people can eat whatever they want.

When I began to analyze these they started to look silly. I realized that if I make a decision not to quit, then I won’t. If I set up boundaries and allow a bit of freedom for myself than I’m ok. That’s why I’m blogging-for accountability. I’m also allowing myself one free meal a week to enjoy new foods and try a new restaurant. I also realized that I can’t pay attention to what others are doing. If that skinny girl wants to eat herself into an early grave that’s her choice. She may be cute doing it, but, she’s wreaking the same havoc on her body that a heavier person would. I can’t allow her to control my decisions. period.

So, here we go. Like every good diet, I’m starting on Monday. {We grocery shop on Sundays} I’ll primarily be blogging every Wednesday about my progress, sharing photos of my meals for accountability, and trying my hardest to be genuine about the struggles I’m having internally.

I hope this doesn’t turn any of you off of the blog on Wednesdays, but, it something that will be a huge part of my life from here on out I suppose.


with love and change,



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Momma’s One Pot Chili Recipe! {Asheville, NC Wedding Photographer}

My sweet mother is having surgery today. She’s down in Winston-Salem right now getting set up and ready to go. In honor of that I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite meals as a child! Momma’s Chili recipe! Not only was this easy to make, but, it’s also incredibly inexpensive. At $8 for this entire batch of chili, you can’t go wrong! I can officially understand why this was one of the go-to foods in our household growing up. Cheap and can feed a house full of boys {and girl} without a problem. Not to mention, very little clean up and it took less than 30 minutes!



-1.5 lbs of ground beef
-2 cans of chili beans
-2 cans of great northern beans
-1 pack of chili-o
-1 large can of crushed tomatoes
-1/2 of tomato can filled with water!



-Brown ground beef in the bottom of your chili pot!
-Once it’s browned add the tomatoes and water.
-Add chili-0 and mix in well.
-Add all of the beans
-Stir until it starts to bubble! {pay extra attention to the bottom of the pot to make sure it doesn’t stick}

Easy and Delicious!

Mom always served it with a dollop of sour cream, some shredded cheese, and saltines!


with love and mothers,



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Ice Cream Sandwich Replacement! Wellness Wednesday! {Asheville, NC Wedding and Boudoir Photographer}

I know that I go back and forth a lot between eating naturally and eating low-calorie. The truth is, I don’t know which is better for me at the moment. I think long term it’s def. better to eat only real foods. But, I struggle to keep calories in check while doing so. I say all of that to say… This isn’t all-natural. But, it IS low calorie. It’s something my mom used to make us all the time when I was younger.

Did you know the average ice cream sandwich contains over 400 calories?!?! Did you also  know that ice cream sandwiches are one of the top foods that people struggle with portion control. Going back and forth to the freezer for seconds and sometimes thirds?

Well,  they ARE delicious! That’s why I don’t keep them in the house.

But, you can easily make an ice cream sandwich replacement! All you  need are chocolate graham crackers and low fat cool whip!


Just put a tablespoon of cool whip on either half of the graham cracker and top with another graham cracker! Stick it in the freezer and let it freeze overnight! When I make these, I usually make 4-5 at a time and have them  available for the week!

The best part:

They’re only 150 calories! Also, if you want to do a half a sandwich at a time, you can cut your calories down to 75 a piece! Not too shabby!


with love and snacking,


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How to Drink Black Coffee: Wellness Wednesday! {Asheville, NC Wedding and Boudoir Photographer}

Did you know that most coffee drinks with milk and sugar range from 300-1700 calories!?! That’s nuts! For a coffee-lover like myself {and many of you} those are scary facts. While I do enjoy the occasional cubano from Dripolator here in Asheville, it’s smart to think about where your calories are coming from. One of our roommates, Eric, likes to say, “I don’t drink calories.” I think that’s good advice. Enjoy every now and then, but, be aware that you could be spending those calories on food instead. For me, I’d choose a cubano over snacks any day of the week. But, if I need a second cup of coffee that day, it’s going to be straight black. Here is why:

1. I LOVE the taste of black coffee!
2. I think it probably hurts the coffees feelings if we add all kinds of junk to it.
3. It’s only 2 calories a cup!

People all the time tell me, “I can’t stand black coffee, I don’t know how you do that.” Well folks, I’m here to tell you that I too hated it at one point! It was about 5 years ago that my friend Ben and I dared each other to learn to drink our coffee black. If you know me, you know that I may be the most competitive person on the planet. { I get it honestly, hey granny : ) } So, I began working on it. Also, at the time I worked at a coffee shop as a barista and would drink coffee at every shift, I wanted to cut the extra calories out and fast. So, I started a process. One which I am glad to share with you and hopefully, it helps you to cut out that cream and sugar mess.

Step One: Drink GOOD coffee! Seriously, if you taste bad black coffee it’s going to be bitter, flavorless,  and just gross. But, a good cup of coffee should taste flavorful  and complex when black. Some are even a bit naturally sweet. Read my post at the 20 somethings on how to buy good coffee here.

Step Two: Change gradually. Here is how I did that.

Week One: 2 tbspn cream and 4 teaspoons sugar
Week  Two: 1 tbspn cream and 4 teaspoons sugar
Week Three: No Cream and 4 teaspoons sugar
Week Four: 3 teaspoons sugar
Week Five: 2 teaspoons sugar
Week Six: 1 teaspoon sugar
Week Seven: BLACK!

Ya’ll, it’s as simple as that.  Your taste will slowly adjust to having things less creamy and sweet gradually. If you follow this exactly and aren’t drinking black coffee in seven weeks, I’ll be shocked!

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Do any of you drink black coffee? How did you get to that point?

with love and black coffee,


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My Thoughts on the Clever Coffee Dripper! {Asheville, NC Wedding and Boudoir Photographer}

I’m not a collector. Actually, I’m probably as far from a collector as you could get. I try my best to just throw things out every so often. I feel the need to not hold onto anything. If you want you can picture me running through the house with a trash bag just tossing things in and throwing it out to the curb. However, I have 2 collections in life. 1. My collection of coffee mugs. It’s HUGE. I have this because I intend to own a coffee shop one day and I have a very specific plan for those mugs and I want them to all mean something. {rather than just buying them at a thrift store.} 2. I want to own every method for making coffee that exists.

I know that sounds super nerdy, that’s because it is. But, I love the way coffee brings people together, causes conversations, and beckons people to sit just a moment longer. It’s that side of coffee that sparks the zeal I have for this delicious little drink.

My coffee making collection looks like this at the moment:
-Espresso Machine
-French Press
-Pour Over
-Sock Method
-Drip Coffee Maker
and now,

The Clever  Coffee Dripper!!!

I’m so excited about this little guy. I found out about him whilst chatting up a coffee cart owner on the streets of this little town of ours. {You’ll hear more about said coffee cart owner on the 20 something blog next month!}

Basically, the clever coffee dripper is a coffee brewing method made in Taiwan. It’s the perfect balance between a pour over {which we’ve talked about before} and a french press. It solves the problems with both!

With a pour over, you have to time it just right and make sure to pour your water not too fast or too slowly. Not too much in one place or the other. This makes it a very risky way to make a cup of coffee. Sometimes it’s delicious and other times, it’s well, not.

With a french press, the cup of coffee is often just perfect. However, there is always a ton of sediment left over at the bottom of your cup of coffee and it’s a difficult clean up.

The clever coffee dripper steeps your coffee like a french press- eliminating the risk of the pour over. It also uses a filter-making the clean up easier and getting rid of the sediment.

The greatest part about this gadget is that it doesn’t let any coffee out unless it’s sat on your cup. As soon as you sit it on the cup it releases your coffee. Lift it off the cup and it stops! Pretty clever!

Pshew, now that the monologue is over-let’s talk about how to use it!

What you Need:

-Clever coffee dripper!
-med-fine ground coffee
-boiling water
-#4 cone filter

First, boil your water and rinse the filter.

Then, add 2 scoops of freshly ground coffee {or 22 grams if you are weighing it}

Pour 12 oz of boiling water over the grounds. Making sure to get all of the grounds wet!

Let it steep!

At 1.5 minutes, stir all of the grounds and place the lid back on.

At 4 minutes you’re finished!

Place the dripper on top of your cup and allow it to fill your mug!


with love and a clever dripper,


P.S. If you aren’t tired of hearing me talk about coffee and want to learn about making your own cold-brew iced coffee at home, I guest blogged on the lovely Katie Ringley’s blog today! Check it out here!

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MyPlate: Wellness Wednesday! {Asheville, NC Wedding and Boudoir Photographer}

I’ve become obsessed with the healthy plate proportions. The old model of the food pyramid never seemed to add up to me. But, this new way of gaging the amounts of what type of foods to eat is simple and a lot more healthy! Thanks Michelle Obama! Check it out:

There are lots of people sharing recipes based on this plate method. One of my favorite sites for meal ideas is Healthy Kids Plate. The meals are based for children, but I like how simple the meals are and easy to replicate. You can also check out their pinterest board of meal ideas here!

with love and MyPlate,


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