Don't Starve Yourself // Eat Food

Eating food is better than starving.

I don’t know about you guys, but I have struggled with the idea that starving is better than eating food. This is a viewpoint that came to life as a young adult and is something I still struggle with today.  

It started in high school when I began to be conscious of what I was eating. This was in a sense great because I had a good relationship with food and a simple mindset to become a healthier person. Unfortunately, it morphed into something much bigger than I thought possible without even realizing. During high school, I maintained a healthy weight, but once I graduated and the stress of holding down a job and paying for school I lost both weight and understanding of what healthy looks like. Originally it was the feeling of losing control of my life and the desperate search for what I could still hold on to. Instead of looking for the Lord for Guidance and stability, I tried to fix things myself. I began to control the one thing I knew I could and that was what I put in my body. I began to cut out foods, restrict calories, exercised obsessively, took water pills, and binge-watch dieting shows in my free time. In the midst of it all, I actually developed a fascination for anorexia because I thought I was better than them. It also gave me confidence knowing I had some "cracked the code", and therefore validated my behavior.

After a year of going hungry, I found myself unhappy in several areas of life. I was losing weight and acing my classes, but I had begun to look sickly, my temper and stress were out of control, my relationships began to strain and I struggles to find Joy in life. 

In order to combat the pain I was feeling, I began to treat myself to eating exactly what I wanted and however much I wanted. Now going from eating minimal amounts of food to excessive amounts can take its toll. As I began to gain weight I felt like a failure, I was more anxious and full of fear. The only way I was able to get through this time in my life was to look to God for forgiveness and His grace in my life. I knew what I was doing was wrong and in order to change the direction of my life I needed to rely 100% on God. In no way was this transition easy, and I still struggle today, but I thankfully have the Lord to guide me and lift me up in my time of weakness. 

Though I still struggle with thoughts of whether or not to eat, downloading and deleting fitness apps, and feeling the urge to work out every single day and assuring myself at meal time that I don’t have to gorge myself. I know that I am free to eat whenever I please and whatever I please. I now know that

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·         Food is not the enemy

·         The feeling of fullness should not cause guilt

·         & it’s better to build a foundation on the Lord rather than a scale.

Matthew 24-27

 

Pst* Shout out to Cambria Joy who inspired me to write this blog post!

Everyday Fitness

I don’t know about you but when it comes to fitness I don’t like to live by the rules. Not that the rules are bad, they just aren’t for me. Let me explain…

For me working out is something that I want to fit into my day to day life without a second thought. I want it to be something that brings me joy and appreciation for what my body is able to do. This was my hope from the beginning of my fitness journey, but when I began to look into “getting fit” everyone seemed to be selling me something. If it wasn’t a gym membership it was a workout program, energy drinks, etc. An endless amount of consumer products to “help” me reach my goal.

Thankfully I was stingy with my money and not willing to fork over $300 for a Mr. Muscle body sculpting class and had to become a little more resourceful. I found out that I was more willing to work out if it meant the chance to get outside and hated the idea of working out in a building full of the bodies of sweaty strangers.

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For me, it is motivating to know that when I wake up in the morning I can choose to go for a walk or smash out a HIIT routine, not because I am being told to do it, but because I want to do it. The idea that fitness is something that can be tailored to you as an individual is so satisfying in that you get the choice in how you work out.  

That is not to say that workout routines are bad, or that gyms should never be entered, it’s about learning how to make fitness something that works for you. It is important to learn about how you are motivated, what energizes you, and what brings you the most joy. When you discover what works for you, integrating it into your daily life will become a breeze.

 For me, it was the simple act of saving money and spending time outside that helped me to shape what works for me. No matter what your personal style of working out is, or how you get yourself motivated, do it because you are enjoying it, not because someone is telling you that it has to be done a certain way.

Make sure that fitness is one of your favorite hobbies and not your favorite chore.

 

Thanks again for stopping by!

 

Sincerely,

Sonya  

How to Become a Morning Person

6 Steps to a Better Morning!

I don’t know about you guys but for me, mornings are a crucial part of my day. Since I am a morning person, if my attempt at morning is rolling out of bed late I will probably crash and burn in about 2 hours. I Love having a schedule where I wake up early enough to read my bible, get a good workout in, and prepare a healthy breakfast and lunch. This way, I am prepared for what craziness lies ahead in my day.

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Though I love to wake up early, it is not the easiest thing to get a handle on. Thankfully I have come to learn a few tips that help me to wake up and get going.

So here’s the low down on the 6:00...6:30am start to your day!

Tip #1: Set ONE alarm

It’s good to do this because when you hit the snooze button you are dozing off in between or on your phone which actually makes it harder to get out of bed and feel alert.

Tip#2: Keep Water right next to your bed

Drinking water immediately after waking up helps you to feel alert and more awake. This is just a small benefit though, when you take into consideration the fact that drinking water first thing in the morning helps to boost metabolism, detoxifies the body, and strengthens the immune system!

Tip#3: Start your day without your phone

 Personally I use my phone for my workouts, but I try to first read my Bible or journal and also try to step outside to get fresh air before my workout.

Tip#4: Get Moving!

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Some people like myself thrive off of morning workouts, because by the time it gets to 5pm the most movement I want to accomplish is a walk or bike ride. If you are not like me and find you have more effective workouts in the evening then instead take the time to go on a leisurely walk or do some yoga. This helps to get your blood pumping, aids in digestion, and adds a little boost to your metabolism.

Tip#5: Apple Cider Vinegar.

I have found that starting my day with breakfast doesn’t sit well, so instead I chose to drink apple cider vinegar before my normal meal. Apple Cider Vinegar is great way to get in some healthy probiotics while reducing sugar cravings, detoxes the body, and aids in digestion.

There are several ways you can enjoy ACV, I recently have discovered adding drops of grapefruit essential oil as well as lemon to sweeten things up!

Tip#6: Skip the Caffeine.

If you don’t have any problems with caffeine than go for some matcha, but for me I have found that as long as I keep my breakfast full of nutrient dense foods and I stay hydrated I don’t have a need for caffeine. The benefit of this is not relying on stimulants to keep you going, and avoiding that mid-day slump caffeine introduces us to.

BONUS TIP* Find a music playlist you love and play it every morning, and pretty soon your brain will associate the music with waking up. SO keep the Jams going and you might find yourself feeling a little bit cheerier.

Now that you guys are equipped and ready to start your morning with these hacks, give them a go and let me know which one is your favorite!

Quitting Coffee For Balanced Hormones

Quitting Coffee

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I don’t know about you guys, but my longest relationship has been with coffee. Even before I met Daniel my dad would give me a petite cup filled with just enough coffee to dip my cinnamon toast in. Over the years coffee has brought a lot of energy and delight, but last year I began to realize that what it started to put my body through was not worth it.

It all started once Daniel moved to America and we began married life together. Stress was high as we were trying to figure out how to maneuver through life together. Though I would try to get the day going on a high note I would continuously be met with an over sensitive & emotional me that felt like the world was crashing to an end every day around 1 pm.

 Now I know you might be thinking that is seems normal when it comes to stressful situations, but the problem was that it wasn’t getting any better. This is when I started to question the root cause and discovered to amazing qualities of hormones. After some research I found that coffee was one of the main culprits behind it all.  

What I came to discover is that coffee can take a toll on the female body through its effects on blood sugar, stress hormones, and your gut!  One of the best articles I could have read is Alissa Vitti’s blog post, 3 Secret Reasons Why Women Should Not Drink Coffee. She explains exactly what goes on in the FEMALE body when it comes to caffeine.  

I know what you may be thinking, how can you possibly give up the sweet nectar of life that you get to experience each morning? Well what worked for me was going cold turkey for about two months and then enjoying it solely on the weekends. I also try to stick to a few Rules I have made for myself that have made the experience much more joyful

·         Rule #1: Make sure the days I do drink coffee involves a lot of movement.

I know from experience that being highly caffeinated while sitting in a church pew for a few hours is enough to drive anyone crazy. 

·         Rule #2: Make sure you actually WANT a cup of coffee.

If it’s the day you normally have coffee and you are not feeling it than don’t force it! There have been days where I drink it just for the fact that today is my only chance, but that tends to lead to me feeling not so great. Respect and listen to what your body is telling you, if you’re not feeling it than don’t drink it.

·         Rule #3: Don’t skimp out!

I am spoiled in this category because Daniel actually makes me coffee, meaning he roasts, grinds and creates the perfect Chemex drip coffee for me. I know you might not have a Daniel in your life, but you do have amazon where you can pick up green beans if you want to attempt roasting, a Chemex coffee maker, a coffee grinder and you’re good to go. By doing this you can avoid drinking stale coffee which means you don’t miss out on the awesome antioxidants coffee has to offer. Drinking fresh coffee has less acidity than stale coffee and is a lot easier on your tummy!

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Now that I stick to these “Rules” I feel like I can take on any day life decides to throw at me without the need for coffee. There’s no 1pm crash, anxiety, mood swings (from coffee at least), and I find myself enjoying coffee even more than I did before!

Always remember that it’s never about deprivation, it is only about caring for the body that God has entrusted to you!  

Pssst** Here are some sneaky Ideas to replace that everyday cup of coffee!

·         Matcha Tea

·         Turmeric Latte

·         Healthy Hot Chocolate

·         Lemon Water

·         Rooibos tea

Allisa VItti’s 3 Reasons Why Women Shouldn’t Drink Coffee

https://www.floliving.com/3-reasons-why-women-cant-drink-coffee/

 

 

 

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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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/

Keep Calm and Drink 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.