Healthy Living For Beginners

Today’s lunch was odd, but tasty.

Looks Like Puke, Tastes Delicious

Sometimes the most disgusting looking food is the tastiest!

Today’s sandwich contained a mixture of:

  • 1/2 avocado, cubed
  • 1/4 c. salsa
  • 1/4 c. black beans

I spread this guacamole-ish mixture on whole wheat bread and enjoyed it along with sliced white pepper (yes, white pepper!!!), grape tomatoes, and a sliced carrot.

Peppa + 'Mater + Carrot


So Good

Veggie overload!

Healthy Living for Beginners

Earlier this week I received an email from a reader who recently started trying to live a healthier life. She’s waving goodbye to fast food and an inactive lifestyle, but said she feels lost when she reads about healthy foods (like quinoa) that are completely foreign to her.

It can be overwhelming to change your lifestyle from a sedentary one to an active one. Just thinking about preparing your own food when you’re accustomed to eating out can be enough to deter people from taking the initiative to eat healthy.

Here’s the good news: You don’t have to flip a switch and change dramatically over night. Your new healthy life begins today, and you can work on perfecting your healthy lifestyle forever!

My best advice to those new to the idea of working out and eating healthy is to make little changes. Enough little tweaks to an unhealthy lifestyle can completely transform you into a health-conscious eater and an active person.

About a year after I graduated from college, I made a decision to incorporate more vegetables into my diet and stop eating frozen meals that left me feeling unsatisfied. This was a small change that I can honestly say completely transformed my diet and left me feeling more energetic and satisfied.

Here are some of my tips for those looking to start living a healthier life (with some pictures thrown in to keep you intrigued 😉 ):

  • Don’t fall into the “diet” trap: Don’t go to the grocery store and stock up on “diet” foods in an effort to eat healthier. A small frozen meal like a Lean Cuisine will likely leave you feeling unsatisfied.
  • Shop the perimeter: When you go to the grocery store, shop around the perimeter, where you’ll find fresh fruits and veggies and lean meats. I only venture into the aisles for essentials like bread and peanut butter. If I went up and down every aisle I’d likely end up with a cart full of Cheez-its and Oreos.

Fresh Fruit = Instant Satisfaction

  • Make a realistic exercise goal: If you’ve never worked out before, it may be unrealistic to think you’ll get in the gym six days a week right off the bat. Make attainable exercise goals, like going to the gym every other day or taking three group exercises classes one week.

Work It Out!

  • Ask those you love for their support: Living a healthy life can be very hard if your roommate or significant other is pressuring you to hit up the drive through for dinner or order a pizza. Explain your desire to change your diet and make healthier choices to them so they can support you rather than tempt you with indulgent dishes. They may even take an interest in healthy living themselves and want to join you for a workout!

Fitness is Fun with Friends!

  • Reevaluate your plate: Growing up my dinner plate typically looked like this: 40% meat/protein, 40% starch/carbs, 20% fruits/vegetables. Try to make vegetables and fruits the largest portion on your plate. I try to make sure 50% of my plate is covered by fruits and vegetables, which leaves half of my plate to divide evenly between meat and starches.

To avoid feeling like your whole life has been turned upside down, try implementing one of these tips a week. After all, slow and steady wins the race. 😉

Question of the Afternoon

What tips do you have for living a healthier life? Do you find it easier to eat healthy or keep up a regular exercise routine?

Fainting Goats and Talking Dogs

Have you seen this video of the fainting goats?

Insane! I love watching random animal videos on YouTube. My sister and I will spend inordinate amounts of time watching “talking” dog videos.

This one is my all-time favorite “talking” dog video:

“I want my mamaaaa!”

Sadie says this all the time… But she follows it up with “Now go get me some chicken strips, woman.” 😉

You may be thinking, “Okay, Julie… why are you posting videos about goats and talking dogs?”

Well, my lunch included goat cheese and that’s the direction my brain went. Quite the tangent, huh?

Let’s get back to my goat cheese-filled lunch, shall we?


Lunch today was deeeelish.

I enjoyed a goat cheese and avocado bagelwich on a sweet wheat Alternative Bagel with fresh spinach.

Goat Cheeeeeeese

I am seriously in love with the Chavrie goat cheese I used on this bagelwich. It’s spreadable, creamy, mild and flippin’ delicious.

For some additional color and crunch, I also included a sliced red pepper and carrot sticks on the side.

The Whole Shebang

Eat Me!

Chomp, chomp, chomp.

Calling All Animal Lovers

Feel free to post a link to your favorite animal videos below. Funny, cute, whatever! I love ’em all.

(Or if you don’t want to post an animal-loving link, feel free to tell me how much you love goat cheese. That entertains me, too. 😉 )

The Purple Pepper (+ Q&A!)

When I posted about my Farmers’ Market finds on Sunday morning, you guys seemed very interested in the purple pepper I nabbed!

Well, here it is, it all its glory!

Purple Pepper

It was a one-eyed, one-horned flyin’ purple people eater…” 😉

Such a pretty pepper! When I spotted the pepper at the Farmers’ Market, I knew I had to give it a try. I love green and red peppers and the description said the purple pepper was a sweet bell pepper like the red and green varieties, so I had a feeling I would enjoy it.

Sliced Purple Pepper

I was surprised to see that the inside of the pepper was white! Crazy… and crazy delicious!

I enjoyed the pepper along with cucumber slices and a bagelwich made with avocado, Provolone cheese and spinach.

Avocado + Provolone

The Spread

Provolone & Avocado Bagelwich

I love this lunch. It was colorful, full of veggies and the addition of the avocado on my bagelwich made it seem a lil’ special. 😉

Of Possible Interest

Q & A Time!!!

It’s time for another Q & A post! After this post, I’m almost all caught up! Woohoo!

As always, feel free to post any questions you may have on my Q & A page or click here to ask me an anonomyous question.

Heeere we gooooo! 😀

Have your periods ever been irregular due to how active you are?


How many boyfriends did you have before Ryan? This is really random, but it just amazes me how perfect you two look for each other.

Before Ryan and I started dating I had one other serious boyfriend, who I dated for a little more than three years.

What do you eat before and after doing cardio or strength training?

On weekdays when I workout at 5:45 a.m., I typically workout on an empty stomach because I get serious cramps if I eat within an hour of working out (and I’m not about to get up at 4:45 a.m. just to eat). If I work out later in the day, I’ll usually eat something like an apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter or string cheese microwaved on a whole wheat tortilla (quesadilla-style).

My post-workout eats are almost always posted on the blog (my breakfast on the weekdays is the first thing I eat after working out). Typical post-workout meals include Greek yogurt with fruit, a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and banana or a smoothie made with fruit and protein powder.

Have you ever lost a significant amount of weight, or were you always this size growing up? You and you sister are so slim that I’m guessing you’ve never really had to lose 15 – 20 pounds?

I lost around 10 pounds about a year after I graduated from college. The weight loss occurred naturally (I didn’t count calories or change my exercise routine) and happened when I stopped eating Lean Cuisines and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all the time and discovered vegetables. I like to eat A LOT, and adding veggies to my lunches and dinners really helped fill me up on nutritious and voluminous foods, so I wasn’t starving an hour after eating.

Do you eat Larabars, Luna bars or Clif bars? If so what is your favorite flavor of each?

I am maybe the one person in the Blog World who doesn’t like Larabars all that much. I think they’re way overrated and they never leave me feeling satisfied (maybe it’s the lack of protein?).

I do like Luna bars (Lemon Zest & Nuts Over Chocolate are my favs) and Clif bars (Peanut Butter Pretzel & Mountain Mix are my favs) a lot! Their texture and flavors really appeal to me.

Random question: Do you make your bed in the morning?

Nope… Unless we have guests coming over.

How many magazines do you subscribe to?

I subscribe to Cooking Light, Clean Eating, Oxygen, OK! and O (the Oprah magazine).

Are you on Goodreads (

No, I never heard of it before this question, but the site seems awesome!

On average, how much do you spend on groceries per week?

My grocery bill is typically around $45 a week. Once a month or once every month and a half or so it’ll be significantly more when I run out of more expensive items like spices and cheese or pantry staples.

What kind of car do you drive? What was the first car you ever drove?

I’d rather not answer this question for safety purposes, but I drive an SUV and I LOOOOVE it. My first car was a teal 1994 Toyota Corolla that I loved with all of my heart. That car was the BEST! My sister got it after me and loved it as well.

What time do you usually wake up?

I wake up at 5:30 a.m. on most days. You may read about my morning routine here.

Do you think you’ll ever move away from Florida? If you could move anywhere for one year, where would it be?

I love Florida but I’m not so attached to the state that I would never move away. The thing that would really prevent me and Ryan from ever moving out of Florida is my family, his family and our jobs. That being said, if all things were perfect and our families would move with us, I could see us in North Carolina. We love all the parks, trails and mountains up there.

If I could move anywhere for a year, it would be to Hawaii. Please let me know if you would like to sponsor this endeavor. 😉

What brand of sneakers do you wear? I’m looking to get a new pair and your blog has motivated me to get out there!

I run in Mizuno Wave Riders. You may see my post about them here.

Where do you buy Carba Nada pasta?

I buy Carba Nada pasta online at The site has $5 flat rate shipping, so I usually buy a bunch of things at once to make the shipping cost worth the expense.

Coyotes, Cows and Turkeys, Oh My!

First things first, your comments about the crazy things you’ve seen while working out not only made me laugh out loud, but they truly amazed me!

Here are some of the things you’ve encountered while getting your sweat on:

  • Coyotes
  • Road runner (Are you sure you weren’t just watching Looney Tunes? 😉 )
  • Cows that somehow escaped the farm
  • Family of turkeys
  • Man walking on the treadmill at a 1.5 pace while using his arms to do dance moves
  • A kid on a school bus who threw a pencil at the runner
  • Guy doing push-ups in work attire
  • Naked man sweeping his driveway
  • Mockingbirds dive-bombing a squirrel that was trying to steal from a bird feeder
  • Dog running down the street with a mailbox attached to its leash

And my personal favorite:

  • A middle-aged Amish man walking across a road with a dead turkey on his back while his wife walked behind him in her dress holding a gun.

All of your comments reminded me of a weird thing I once saw while working out:

One time a guy was doing ab exercises on an exercise ball near the treadmills at my gym.

Crunch it Out

He had his legs propped up on the ball, and mid-crunch the ball flew out from underneath his feet and into a nearby treadmill.

The problem? A woman was running on that treadmill and the ball caused the treadmill to stop, sending the woman flying. While this was happening, the exercise ball squeaked loudly as the treadmill tried to keep moving.

It was insane! Luckily the woman was okay, but she was clearly very shook up. It also took a good two minutes or so for someone to turn off the treadmill and stop the ball from squeaking, which made the whole scene seem all the more dramatic. Totally nuts!


My lunch today included two new things!

They’re probably not new to you, but they’re new to me! Well, I’ve loved avocado for years, so it’s not technically new to me, but since I rarely buy avocados, it felt like a new discovery!


The tabouleh, on the other hand, was definitely a new dish. I’ve tried tabouleh (a Middle Eastern salad featuring bulgur, mint, parsley, and other herbs and spices) one other time at TooJay’s Deli when I was in college. I liked it a lot back then, but totally forgot about it until Sunday evening when my friend Merri gave me a box mix to make my own!

Using Fantastic World Foods’ box mix, I made tabouleh last night while dinner was cooking and let it chill in the fridge. By the time I was ready to eat it for lunch today, it was nice and cold.

I topped a bed of fresh spinach with the tabouleh, along with grape tomatoes, cucumber and celery and half of a large avocado.

Tabouleh + Avocado

I used Ryan’s method to prep the avocado, which made it super simple! Ryan makes the most amazing (and simple) avocado salsa dip and has perfected his avocado slicing technique.

To prep the avocado, simply cut it in half, lengthwise, and twist to separate the two sides. Stab the pit with a knife to remove it before carving a grid into the avocado. Scoop out the avocado! You should have perfectly diced chunks of avocado!

Avocado Grid

Sliced Avocado

My lunchtime salad was definitely taken to another level due to the addition of the tabouleh and avocado. I forgot how much creaminess and flavor avocado adds to any dish (not to mention it’s a great source of good fat!).

Summer Salad

I’ve actually noticed something about my body and food recently.

I seem to feel much fuller off of fat and fiber than I do when I consume protein alone. A simple protein shake might calm hunger pains for a little while, but if I eat a small handful of nuts with the shake or add some high-fiber fruit to the mix, I feel much more satisfied. I guess the whole “eat protein + carbs + fats” at every meal is a pretty decent equation. 😉

Of Possible Interest

A Taste of Mexico in Sarasota

This morning was spent around the house. Ryan helped his mom’s boyfriend with some yard work while I updated the blog and chatted with his mom. Every time we come visit his family I feel so grateful that I am marrying into such a great, close-knit group of people. They’re a special bunch. 🙂

Ryan's Mom & Sadie

Once the yard work was done, we soaked up some sun in the backyard while Sadie chased shadows, lizards and reflecting lights. She’s quite the huntress.

Ryan and I felt like we were laying out at a resort because his mom set up a fan and brought us water with fresh lemon slices. Talk about relaxing!


Around 12:30 we showered up and headed out to Mi Pueblo, a nearby restaurant, for lunch.

Mi Pueblo in Sarasota

The Digs

As we were seated, a big basket of tortilla chips and salsa were placed in front of us and I downed several of the chips ‘n’ salsa immediately.

Chips & Salsa

They had a great selection of lunch entrées, and I ordered a large shrimp and avocado salad.

Shrimp & Avocado Salad

I think the salad came with 3/4 of an avocado. I was in Mexican food heaven and ate every last bite.

Though I was feelin’ full, when we arrived home I couldn’t resist a little sweet treat.

Gotta Satisfy My Sweet Tooth

Me and Mah Honey

To satisfy my sweet tooth, I had another slab of Harry & David peppermint bark and a Dad’s scotch oatmeal cookie, ordered from the fantastic Dad’s Cookie Company located in Missouri.

These cookies are crunchy, light and full of cinnamony spices. Ryan’s mom sent Ryan a huge box for his birthday before and we ate them by the handful. They’re phenomenal and I always swipe a few from his mom’s stash when we come to visit. Yum!

Now it’s time to join Ryan on the couch for the USA vs. England World Cup soccer game. I’m not gonna lie, I’m not exactly a soccer super-fan, so I’m hoping to coerce Ryan and his family into a round or two of Scrabble. 😉

Though I’m still full from lunch I can’t wait for Thanksgiving dinner tonight! 😀