My Story

My Story.

As the second to last child in a family of nine you could say that when it came to food, it was survival of the fittest. If you weren’t fast enough you could kiss those Reese’s puffs goodbye. Food wasn’t just something to fight over though, it was something we all bonded over. When my dad came home at night we ate together as a family. For birthday’s instead of lavish gifts my parents provided homemade mac n’ cheese, warm veggies, sweet treats and coffee to top off the night.

Food has always been a big part of my life, but my relationship with food wasn’t always healthy. By the time I turned 18 I was planning to get married to my high school sweetheart who lived in South Africa.

Yes, I said South Africa.

I also started my first real job and began my first college courses. The combination of starting so many new things, missing my boyfriend and figuring out how to make a wedding work I began to feel like I was losing control of my life. In order to compensate for the lack of control in life, I began to control my food. I started tracking my calories (average 800 per day), weighing myself constantly and over exercising, sometime till 2 a.m. I also began to feel the effects of depression, mood swings, amenorrhea, stomach pain, patchy dry skin and nervous habits. After a year of abusing my body I dropped down to about 100lb, a weight I hadn’t been since middle school.

This was a weight I was excited and proud of, and as a reward I began to eat again. The good thing was that I put weight on again, but the bad thing was I was gorging myself on everything I had deprived myself of including pastas, breads, sugar, etc. I also had developed a skewed view of my body that added to the stress. Thankfully my now husband was able to visit and I began to feel calm again, knowing that we were ready to get married and I would be soon planning a trip to South Africa with my family for a dream wedding. I also began to get into a more regular exercise routine and was able to hold back a bit on food.

Once the time came to go to South Africa I was a healthy 115lb, but still stressed beyond belief. Through the whole whirlwind of the wedding I began to eat more gluten and dairy, two foods I had avoided for a while. During this time I began to notice my health declining. Out of the 3 months I was in South Africa the only two weeks I didn’t have the flu, a virus, or a cold was the week of my wedding and honeymoon. I also had developed pain in my stomach and nausea every time I would eat, and to top it off I gained about 25lb by the end of my trip.

I knew there was something wrong with me so I took action and visited a holistic Dr. that a friend introduced me to. She said I had Candida which is basically an overgrowth of yeast in your stomach. This tore holes in my stomach lining allowing parasites into my blood. This lead to a strict gluten free, dairy free, sugar free 3 month diet along with SEVERAL supplements to get rid of the Candida. Thankfully it worked, but it uncovered several other health issues that needed to be dealt with.

Since then I have completely changed my diet, cutting out all refined sugars, gluten, dairy, most soy and a few other foods I have a hard time digesting. I eat a low GI diet and have switched my workout routine to fit my body’s needs. I have successfully gained muscle, lost weight and have gotten my period back after more than 3 years without a natural one!

Though I know this body will always be a work in progress it has inspired me to not only care for myself, but share my journey. I know going through all of this was extremely difficult, and it would have been amazing to have someone to share tips, words of encouragement and some tasty recipes. Whether or not you have health issues, or you just want to get healthy my goal is for this to be the place for you. 

Thanks so much for stopping by! 

Love,

Sonya

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How to Meal Prep

Meal Prep because you’re Awesome

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Ever see those pictures with the perfectly portioned weeks’ worth of food? The ones where everything is so perfect you convince yourself that if you can accomplish the same your life will be complete? Well If you haven’t I can tell you that I have definitely gone through this only to fail and realize that this type of meal prep is definitely not for everyone.

Personally I found that portioning out the same meals for every day was not worth the effort. I also found the meals to be less satisfying since I felt I was obliged to eat the same thing most days. Now for me this is probably because I don’t like being told I have to eat a certain way. Hand me a meal plan and even if it’s everything I love, I will probably completely avoid it.

That being said I don’t ignore meal prep all together, I simply have figured out a way to put my own spin on things making meal prep easier and more enjoyable!

For me meal prep involves cooking up staple item that can be pieced together according to that day. Usually I focus on quinoa, roasted vegetables, bake a sweet potatoes, chopped lettuce, frozen fruit, homemade tahini dressing, and a crock pot meal such as curry or soup. This was I have the option to make a variety of meals from the ingredients I have already prepped!

As well as these foods I make sure to have plenty of my favorite fruits and vegetables for snacking on in between meals. If I am feeling extra fancy I might whip up some homemade chocolates or protein balls for treats!

Here’s a list of meals you can make from my normal routine, showed here!

·         Fried quinoa with roasted veg

·         Soup and Salad

·         Curry with quinoa avocado & Lime

·         Chocolate protein smoothie

·         Sweet potato over greens with sliced Avocado and tahini dressing.

These are just a few ideas, but get a little adventurous and see what healthy meals you can create from your favorite foods!

Pssst* Check out my Crock pot chicken curry recipe for some inspiration! https://www.sonyasopencupboard.com/recipes/

The Benefits of Drinking Tea

Keep Calm and Drink Tea.

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I don’t know about you, but growing up I loathed tea despite how awesome it was. Thankfully I have a mother who would always encourage me to try new things as well as my South African family who helped me to understand the sheer importance of tea.

First of all, drinking tea is something commonly acquainted with relaxation. Tea time is a part of your day where you take a step back to breath, enjoy good conversation or even quiet time by yourself. There is something special about putting life on hold for those few moments.

Now if you would have told me that 2 years ago I would have seen it as a waste of time because obviously taking 15 minutes to drink tea is not productive. My mindset was if you have 15 minutes to do something, then do something productive. This “productive” time would consist of cleaning, jumping jacks, trying to read all 45 pages of assigned reading, etc.

Obviously I was good at taking every opportunity to stress myself out…

Thankfully I can now see the productivity in drinking tea. Not only is it relaxing and offers some family time, you also have a chance to mentally unwind. I have found that taking 15 minutes helps me to be more productive, I am calm and not rash in my decisions and I am generally happier.

Oh yeah, and did I mention all the health benefits of tea? You might be surprised but tea can be used to sooth a sore throat, aid in digestion, provide antioxidants to keep you healthy and caffeinated teas are a great swap for coffee! Tea is also low in calories and can help you when it comes to managing cravings and mindless snacking.

So this week take the time to stop for a minute, make a cup of tea with a special treat whether it be good conversation, a slice of cake, or both!

P.S. If tea doesn’t sound too thrilling here is a list of my personal favorites!

·         Rooibos tea with a dash of Almond milk and Honey

·         Matcha Latte with Cinnamon

·         Herbal blended tea: Plain or with a dash of Almond Milk

#TREATYOURSELF

Treat yourself.

I’m not sure about you guys, but I know it has never been easy for me to relax or treat myself without feeling guilt over what I could have done with my time and energy. Thankfully, I married someone who has mastered the art of treating himself. He has shown me that by taking the time to do what you love, you can increase your creativity and hold on to who you are as a person. For example, he loves video games. But as an adult, video games aren’t exactly an “adult activity” and are seen by many to be a waste of time. Unfortunately, I thought the same thing. How can doing something that’s unproductive and doesn’t seem to have any importance be beneficial? I have found this idea to be wrong because my husband is extremely hard working, creative, and determined, and knows exactly who he is as an individual. This all stems from the fact that he makes time for himself while maintaining balance with life’s responsibilities.

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We as individuals need to make time for ourselves to do the things that we love, despite what we or anyone else has said or thought concerning the matter. When we take this time we are showing ourselves and the world that we value ourselves and from that stems a greater ability to give more. Whether you are into gaming, reading, journaling, etc. make sure that you make time to relax and do the things that you love to do. For me it’s blogging and Instagram. Through these outlets I have found something that I love and they make me feel like I am not only doing something to help myself, but I am helping others as well. I want you to find that same enjoyment.

Next time you feel stressed or overwhelmed throw on this DIY facemask below and do something that brings you joy! If you can’t think of something off the top of your head, look deeper and think about how you spent your time as a child. Did you play in the mud (raises hand), write people cards, play hide and seek? Starting there can help you re-learn what brings you joy and motivate you to spend some of your precious energy on yourself for a change.

DIY MATCHA FACE MASK

 • 1tsp Matcha powder

• 1tsp raw honey

• 1 drop lavender essential oil

 • 2-4 drops almond oil

 Mix together and apply to your face.

Don’t tell your friend/family member/spouse and hide behind appropriate object.

Jump out to scare them and laugh until pants are wet.

Change clothing and try to convince them to put on the remainder of the mask.

Choose a favorite activity such as gaming, knitting, cooking, etc. and enjoy!

Remove mask for soft and refreshed skin accompanied by a few extra smile lines.