Acai Bowl

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I went to Hawaii years ago and came home obsessed with this one treat I assumed only existed in exotic lands. Lo and behold, the local Wegman’s stocked the crucial ingredient, Sambazon Acai Smoothie mix. I should have known trusty ole Wegman’s would pull through. I think large grocery stores are beginning to stock it also, and according to the Sambazon website, you can find them at Costco. I use my Ninja and whip this little treat up with lots of delicious toppings. In the picture above, I confess, the granola is not Paleonola, BUT I just ordered some and its on the way. The one used in the picture is a gluten-free granola that’s a little gentler on my stomach than other granola brands. Granola and craft beer… and chocolate have proven to be my greatest weaknesses in pursuit of a clean diet, c’est la vie, I’m merely human. Here’s the recipe, hope you like it : )

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Ingredients:
1 pack frozen Sambazon Acai Smoothie mix
1/2 banana
1 cup frozen fruit, use strawberries or a berry mix
1/4 milk of your choice, I use almond
1 Tbsp flax seed (optional)

Toppings:
1/2 banana sliced
Granola, recommend Paleonola to make this a paleo dish
Unsweetened shredded coconut
Honey
Any other fresh fruit you desire

Instructions:
1. Combine all ingredients in a Ninja, food processor, blender, or in a bowl to use an immersion blender
2. Blend until mixture is smooth
3. Pour into bowl and top with your choice of toppings

 

 

Combating Consumptionism… gotta start somewhere

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Another clothing purge underway, if you want them come and get em!

Over the past 6 months a few key and un-ignorable themes have emerged in my reading, viewing, and conversations. The one I’d like to discuss now is that high consumption and ownership of material goods equal unhappiness. A few documentaries speaking to this (all available on Netflix)….

  • I am.
  • The True Cost

Blayne and I have experienced it ourselves. We moved to a giant house in the ‘burbs, bought lots of furniture to fill the rooms, and had ample space to store our stuff. We quickly found we had more than we needed and were constantly considering ways to improve our home and decor. 14 months later we moved back to South Tampa, the epicenter of our daily lives and reduced our square footage by half. For us location mattered more than space. The process of downsizing and refusing to invest in a dreaded storage unit, welcomed a cathartic purge of the possessions that would not fit in our new home, including furniture, keepsakes, and lots of CLOTHES! My new saying regarding tupperware is, “if it doesn’t fit in [the one assigned drawer for tupperware] then we don’t need it” and in the recycling it goes.

Throughout my life I was raised with a healthy sense of humility that actually resulted in feelings of shame when I caught myself trying to be “fancy” or attention-seeking. I now believe those feelings were a manifestation of something rooted deep within me that had not yet matured into healthy feelings of empowerment and self-assuredness. There are moments still when I catch myself thinking about what I’d call material improvement, you know, things like how to improve my appearance or keep up with fashion trends, those moments of awareness immediately transform into deep, sometimes dark, thoughts about the meaning of life, my purpose, and why the hell with all the issues in the world would I care about the color of my hair or if I have a great cocktail dress. Another illustration of this frequent awakening occurs each time we travel to Central America. Our luggage consists of one backpack per person and we spend the week adventuring, we wear workout clothes, and my hair is wet and unwashed 90% of the trip. Most notably for me is that I leave with makeup on and often its as we’re working through stateside customs that I announce, “I’m going a whole year without makeup!” A wild declaration for someone self-conscious about her skin and often caving to the self-imposed pressure to fit in amongst the Tampa beauties.

I know not all people feel the way I do about possessions and let’s be honest here, I do care about dressing well, wearing clothing that I believe conveys who I am to the world. I believe that people see how you look and how you dress and it forms their opinions. These are natural mental shortcuts that evolution has bestowed upon us to make good decisions quickly, I don’t think we should condemn snap judgments, I think we should be mindful of why we have them, what they are telling us, and where they come from. I also care about having a home where my family is comfortable and our guests are comfortable. This means comfy furniture, colorful artwork, and the occasional functional yet cute Ikea table.

Before I get to the point here, let me quickly revisit the purge mentioned above. Although we cleaned out our closets and thus our souls (maybe a little dramatic, but seriously…) there was one holdout as it turns out. Last week I stumbled upon a bin full of old clothes. I remember packing these away, I figured they are good clothes and I like them but they’re out of style right now. I suppose I had the foresight to know I’d want to wear them again someday. Well, I was right, I put most of them back into rotation and now my old wardrobe has become my new wardrobe. With that said, let’s get to the point…

…This post is not to provide instructions, advice, or clarity, and its definitely NOT intended to make anyone question their values and things they like and care about. Selfishly, this is for me. I honestly believe that what matters in life is relationships. As a girl who leans a little more heavily to the introverted side of the personality scale, sometimes its tough for me to focus on relationships because I love the comfort of my sunny kitchen, typing and researching at my super-cool and functional Ikea table, and (recently) I find my greatest sense of Flow when I’m cooking and analyzing recipes. Nonetheless, strong relationships with my family, friends, and colleagues make me the happiest. So I’d like to try something. I’d like to reduce the amount of “new material things” entering my life and my space. The place to start, for me, is a no-brainer… clothes. I’m not even very fashionable but when I’m bored one of my defaults is to check out a boutique or see what’s new on Modcloth (great site if you’re style is a little quirky and vintage… but I digress!), how the heck could I possibly need a new dress when I have no fewer than 4 unworn dresses hanging in my closet?!

So, without further ado….

Declaration follows…

“I, Jenifer Smith, will not buy a single new piece of clothing for myself for one whole month, 15 Jan 16 to 15 Feb 16. At the end of this first month, I will reassess, at which time I hope to challenge myself to then two whole months of no clothing purchases. The one sole exception will be in dyer need of undergarments but only when in absolute need. Additionally, this does not extend to homemade items in which I purchase raw materials inexpensively for the purpose of sewing my own clothing.”

Ok, so I have a few caveats, underwear and home-sewn clothing. Let me explain, sewing, like cooking, is my hobby and while making your own clothes used to be cheaper than buying clothes, the times have changed, the cost of fabric is so high and the ease of buying a $5 t-shirt quickly wins when compared to making one that may not even fit well. But, I’ve always wanted to make my own clothes, find inexpensive ways to do so, and share these tips with other people interested in achieving relative self-sustainability. However, I’m not whipping out my sewing machine just yet, I’m simply giving myself the option : ) Let me make one other comment here that may serve as a caveat if anyone ever decided to challenge the integrity of my declaration, I’m totally in favor of a clothes swap with friends. And if anyone would like to take me up on it let’s get serious about organizing something like a book swap! I think it could work locally and maybe electronically if we can find a way to get shipping costs down.

Oh ya! These three documentaries and one podcast really spoke to me and inspired this pursuit, I highly recommend them.

  • Living on a Dollar a Day
  • Happy
  • 180 Degrees South
  • Freakonomics Podcast: The Suicide Paradox

Anyone out there connect with this message or have similar feelings? I’d love to hear from you and know what you’re doing to reduce material possessions, and what you’re doing to enrich your life through better relationships and experiences. Please comment below or shoot us a note!

See For Yourself

The past 10 years have seen some amazing developments in sports and fitness for the everyday athlete.  Endeavors that were previously reserved for professionals are regularly undertaken by school teachers, accountants, and web-designers.  People with families, jobs, and responsibilities are completing IRONMANs, running 100 miles, scaling obstacles, and dead-lifting 3x their body weight.  These physical accomplishments are truly remarkable.

What is perhaps even more significant are the communities that are being built around these activities.  Every major city now hosts a collection of triathlon clubs, run groups, and CrossFit boxes.  And with the advent of social media, people from around the world can easily connect and share their experiences and love for their sport.  This sense of community is vital to our well-being and overall life satisfaction.  Humans, after all, are pack animals and need authentic connection…and shared struggle/accomplishment is maybe the best way to build it.  The New York Times published an article a few weeks ago that captures this concept very well.

If you’re already part of one or more of these communities, you know what I’m talking about.  You have more close friends, feel better, do more fun stuff, and look better in a bathing suit.  You have discovered something amazing and you want to everyone to know about it…just be careful not to scare off them off.  What do I mean?  Your friends, who’ve yet to join you, know what I mean.  So for them, I submit:

Most athletic/fitness endeavors have (or at least appear to have) an extreme sub-culture.  You see it in triathlon, ultra running, OCR, and of course CrossFit.  We’ve all seen the pictures on Facebook…$5000 bikes, black toenails, scarred shins, ripped hands…your friends have run off and joined a cult.  And while it seems to work for them, you’re not quite ready to drink the Kool-aid.  I understand, but here’s the thing: you can’t let the weirdos (whom I’m chief among) scare you off.  Too often, we base our opinions on the most visible (and extreme) examples and use that as an excuse not to try.  The truth is, these communities are comprised almost entirely of sane, well-rounded people, just like you.  Taking up a new, healthy activity does not require you to change your whole life…and you shouldn’t.  

If you’re looking for a way to improve your health, have fun, and meet great people, there is a community out there for you.  It’s perfectly OK to try a few out without making a big commitment.  It’s also OK to be a part of more than one.  Not sure where to start?  Here are a few of my favorite places:     

  • Find a CrossFit affiliate near you
  • Connect with a local Team RWB chapter
  • Sign up for a GORUCK Challenge

In addition to these, there are countless local groups that meet up to do everything from running to mountain biking to kickball.  Just pick an activity and type it into the Google machine (or try Reddit.com or MeetUp.com).  I can’t encourage you strongly enough.  I promise, you are not too old, too out-of-shape, or too busy to start investing your health and your community.  We’re made to move, to play, and to connect.  So please, take the first step and see for yourself.

We’d love to hear from you.  What communities are you involved in?  What has it done for your life?