Recovery Series #7 // Jessica Sepel

Hello, Happy Friday & Happy Halloween (or Happy Happy-ween as we say in my family ever since a super adorable voicemail from my nephew almost 15 years ago)! Hoooww is everyone today?! Getting ready for a spooky & fun-filled evening, I hope. I am dressing as a flapper tonight… get ready for photos galore next week.

I am unbelievably honored & excited to announce that today’s recovery series post features the amazing Miss Jessica Sepel. Jess is one of Australia’s leading health bloggers, nutritionists and wellness coaches. I had the awesome opportunity to hang out with Jess earlier this week when she was in LA, and we hit it off as if we had known each other for years. Kindred spirits do that, ya know… And I feel SO lucky to be able to call her a fast friend.

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I am inspired by Jessica in the sense that she knew food and negative body image were controlling every aspect of her life, so she committed herself to understanding nutrition so she could make a change and help people develop body-peace once and for all.

Ready? I will let Jess take it away!

Recovery Series #7 // ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ►

Full name: Jessica Sepel

Age: 25

Current Location: Sydney, Australia

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Q: Jessica, thanks so much for joining us today for TBB Recovery Series. It means a lot to me (and all of us!) that you are here and willing to open up about your struggles. Can you tell us a bit about your journey with food and eventual descent into the tricky waters of ED territory?

A: Like so many young women, I spent my teenage years and early 20s struggling with negative body image. I tortured myself to the point that food was the enemy. Hating my body was impacting every aspect of my life.

Q: Did your eating struggles with food stem from somewhere… i.e. body image issues, a traumatic event, a desire to look a different way, a need for control, all of the above?!

A: Yes, my eating struggles stemmed from this desire to be and look perfect. I never felt good enough or thin enough or accomplished enough. I felt constant pressure. I compared myself to my friends. I probably also used food as a way to control some emptiness in my life after my immigration.

Q: When you were in the midst of your ED, what did your obsession and a typical day in the life of Jessica look like?

A: I was sleep deprived and crippled by anxiety, gulping down four “calorie-free” black coffees a day. I was eating low-fat everything, calorie counting and fad dieting, and depriving myself from foods – which meant I ended up bingeing. I was also exercising intensely twice a day, but actually gaining weight! The scary thing is, I thought my lifestyle was normal. Healthy, even.

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Q: What kind of changes did you see and feel in your body and mental state at the peak of your obsession?

A: I was tired. No zest for life. I felt consumed by it. It was just EXHAUSTING. My poor body was under so much stress. I suffered from hormonal havoc. I was listless and miserable; completely and utterly out of touch with my own body. I try to look back at that time with love, because I was trying to find my way.

Q: Do you see a correlation between a specific personality type (extreme, all or nothing personalities, etc.) and falling into the difficulty of eating disorders?

A: Definitely – I think a lot of it has to do with control. A lack of it, or simply needing to feel more of it. Food and exercise are things we can control, at least in a relative sense. It gives a sense of security, but it quickly controls us instead. And the desire for perfection can easily be taken too far, especially when we’re comparing ourselves to others. It’s the perfect storm. IMG_9653.JPG

^ Jess playing around with The Balanced Blonde App!

Q: Okay, enough of the difficult stuff. Tell us what RECOVERY looked like for you! How did you begin the recovery process, and what did “getting help” look like?

A: I started seeing a good psychologist who helped me tap into the root of my pain and learn to manage stress. This also helped my build up my self-esteem and my relationship with food. I cut out toxic food, scenes, and relationships that didn’t serve me and embraced whole foods, self respect and love. I also made sleep a priority – I now believe rest is the true key to recovery and healthy living.

Q: How did friends and family react to the change? Were they relieved when you realized and acknowledged that you needed help?

A: Yes, my mother was so relieved. No one really knew how bad it was though. I felt talking about it made me feel worse.

Q: What has the best aspect of recovery been? 

A: When I realized that I had the ability to change my life through proper nutrition and self-care, I began to feel myself come alive! Through my self-healing, I began telling myself I was worth it; I was capable of helping other people on their own journey to health. I realized I could have a career where I would wake up each day and feel excited about what I was doing. Through my work with clients and now with the release of my book, my dreams are truly manifesting into reality!

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Q: What are some tips you’ve found that help in the difficult moments for maintaining balance, health and loving your bod?

  • I believe in the power of positive affirmations and try to start my day with them in mind.
  • I go into the Stress Free Zone. I commit 20 or 30 minutes a day away from technology and other distractions and use it to center myself.
  • I write in my gratitude journal. As corny as it might sound, it keeps me grounded and stress-free. You can’t feel stressed when you feel grateful.
  • I switch off from social media. I try to put my phone away starting at 8:00pm, and also try to spend a full day, typically Sundays, unplugged. (TBB Sidenote: THIS IDEA ROCKS)
  • I don’t deprive myself! I truly believe that indulging on occasion is good for you.

Q: What is the BEST part about blogging? Has your blog helped you overcome the difficult times you went through with over-exercising, or is it ever a trigger for you? I know many bloggers (including myself) find the act of blogging itself occasionally triggering — especially surrounded by food, health, wellness and fitness questions all day long! 

A: OH YES! Blogging about my experience has healed me. It has been my therapy in so many ways. I feel so connected and supported by a community who has helped heal me. It’s so amazing to know we are not alone and we are all trying to figure it out together.

I definitely do get triggered by being in the industry, though. Recently I have been more in the spotlight on television, radio etc. and I find my old feelings of not being good enough pop up. But I have the tools now to re-center myself and tell myself that it’s my mean girl talking. Not all of our thoughts are real.

The JSHealth community is so inspiring. To have such a tribe of readers who are committed to a healthy life motivates me to wake up and do what I love to do. I am so grateful.

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Q: Favorite quote?!

A: A rested body is a healthy body. We need to rest more.We are nothing without our health. Healthy living itself keeps me motivated, energized, and gives me a feeling that I can do anything and everything.

Q: Anything you’d like to add?

It was an absolute pleasure to answer these questions. Thanks for inspiring us all.

Jess and I squinting in the Beverly Hills sun…!

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In a short, I am so grateful to know this beautiful and inspiring girl. What part of her recovery story really stuck with you?! I am quite struck by all of it. PS… What is everyone dressing up as for Halloween today?!

Loving Lately 10.30.14

Hi there babes! If you read my “Updates from Crazy Town” post on Monday, you’ll know why I have been a bit off the map this week. I promise it’s only because really exciting things are in store over here and also because TBB App is totally out there killing it in App Store land.

I have been planning the launch party anddd doing lots of dirty work on the book…. In the long run it’s only to share with all of you so I am really connecting (I swear!) even though I’ve been away from the blog for a few days.

I am headed to an amazing oasis called The Springs today in Downtown LA, and seriously can’t wait to share all of my fun findings there on the bloggy with you all next week. And tomorrow is miss Jessica Sepel’s Recovery Series post… yippee!

In the meantime it’s time to discuss some Loving Lately business. And there’s a whooole lot of wonderfulness I am loving lately. Here goes…!

 Loving Lately ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻

1. Connecting with other passionate souls in the wellness space

Well, you KNOW I simply adore hanging out with like-minded individuals who want to bring health, wellness, balance, nutrition and fitness advice to the world. I am so inspired by others who are out there spreading their message. That has probably been the best part about blogging so far… having the opportunity (and the excuse!) to hang out with so many awesome passionate people.

On Tuesday I got to hang with miss Jessica Sepel and her rockin’ manager Rachel. We chatted about our own recovery journeys, what we’re up to now and basically connected on every level imaginable. I will save the rest of the story for tomorrow’s recovery post, but I just had to mention it now because hanging out with Jess totally made my week. Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 9.17.14 AM

2. The Balanced Blonde App being #1

Can I just say that I had NO IDEA that the App would end up being so popular? It’s a place for healthy recipes, healthy living guides, shopping list, FAQ, favorites features, etc. to combine so you can have everything in one place… and lots of info that’s not on the bloggy… And I am freaking STOKED that it is doing so well. It warms my heart to know that the things I am spending time on and pouring love and effort into are being well received and have a place out there in the world. Yay for that.

TBBSplashScreen 3. The Balanced Blonde Tribe

So, I know I frequently mention a few of the people on my TBB team, but I have never exactly explained who is helping me with what and how ridiculously amazing and helpful they all are. It’s a small little team and more or less I am still VERY involved behind the scenes, but I have picked up a few wonderful movers and shakers along the way. I have decided that next week I am going to do a “Meet The TBB Tribe” post, and you will learn about all things Tynan, Cyrus, Ali, Jess, Morgan, etc. I can’t WAIT to introduce them to you! (PS, say hi to Ty Ty!)

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  1. Cate McNabb Lipstick!!!

First of all, those of you that know me know that I am a lipstick freak. I do not really wear makeup other than lipstick and lip gloss, but I love experimenting with fun colors and spicing up any outfit (yes, even my daily yoga clothes) with a little pop of color (usually a light pink) on my lip. I am always looking for natural, paraben-free and cruelty-free lipstick that actually has a deep and vibrant color (super hard to find combo), and I have been in LOVE with Cate McNabb Cosmetics lately for that reason.

CateMcNabb Their stuff is also ideal for sensitive skin, so basically it’s my lipstick form of a BFF. They have all sorts of cosmetics for skin, lips, eyes and brows that you should 100% check out here. You know I wouldn’t guide you in their direction if I didn’t absolutely love their stuff… so you can trust me on this one. I am totally obsessed with their lipstick…. Especially this color!

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5. Equinox

I know I’ve mentioned this a few times recently, but I am LOVING having an actual gym membership again versus just my yoga membership and running outside and doing home workouts. I put it off for as long as possible because I have been traveling so much and didn’t want to spend the extra $$ on another fitness membership, but who was I kidding? Working out is my lifeblood. It makes me happy, it makes my body and mind feel balanced and strong, and it’s the perfect way to wind down from the crazy work life that I’ve taken on. I am freakishly in love with Equinox West LA and am SO happy to be hosting my app launch party there in a few weeks!

6. Long Distance BFFs

After all the moving around I’ve done over the past few years, I now have super close friends on opposite coasts. I am used to being long-distance with certain friends, but that was usually just across the state of California (you know I hop back and forth between So Cal and Nor Cal like it’s my job). Now I have some of my closest friends in the universe living in NYC while I am out here in LA… and let me just say I am so unbelievably grateful for them and how easy it has been to stay in touch.

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 I had a phenomenal phone conversation with my sweet Clare (remember when Clare and I went to Woodstock together?) that really grounded me in a time of slight manicness. We connect in such a special way and have so much in common after our amazing experiences traveling together and sharing a room for many years.

There is also my best friend Katie in NYC who makes long distance friendships so easy it’s almost ridiculous. She is so supportive (just like Clare) and so open and whenever we talk it’s like zero seconds have passed. I just feel very thankful to have such unbelievable friends… especially with the craziness going on lately it is so comforting to know that my support system is beyond top notch. I love them! And I love my local friends. I love them all a whole lot.

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7. Multi-usage Objects

Don’t ask me what provoked me to use my VItaMix as a vase for my flowers from the Farmer’s Market this weekend… but correct me if I’m wrong when I say that it’s kinda perfect and weirdly trendy DIY? (Also what’s a girl to do when she has 4 great fully functioning blenders?)

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8. Alpha Phi

When I graduated college I was super ready to move on and do new things. I have trouble staying in one place for tooo long (you know this about me), and by Senior Year at LMU I was totally itching for a new adventure. I loved being in a sorority but sometimes I felt that enough was enough with all of the mandatory events, extremely packed social calendar, weekly meetings, the pretty time-consuming rolls I took on, etc.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 9.27.07 AM WELL, I went into LMU Alpha Phi on Monday night to give a talk about entrepreneurship, following your heart, my ED recovery and to sell my t-shirts with Ty, and I was absolutely blown away at how much it felt like going HOME. Seeing the girls put me in such a WONDERFUL mood I have been on cloud nine for the rest of the week about it. It is so special to have such a loving and supportive group standing behind you, and it made me doubly grateful that I was a part of Alpha Phi and that I connected with so many incredible people through that organization. Seeing them ROCKED… the world better watch out because those girls are about to do huge things.

9. Inspiration Boards

Well, I have been SUPER into Pinterest lately, and I am gearing up to decorate the shit out of the really cute Inspiration cork board I just bought off of Etsy. Any ideas are much appreciated!

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10. This girl’s cover of T Swift’s new Blank Space

I admit I only came across this cover because all of the sudden the actual song was muted on YouTube and I was too lazy to buy it at the moment, but I had it on repeat ALL day yesterday. So impressed by this young lady. How adorable and amazing voice… again makes me wish I could sing. Sidenote: I can’t. At all. 

11. Amazing yoga teachers

I am doing a full post on this ASAP, but I have been going to a yoga teacher lately who has the expertise to tell you SO much about your body, your alignment, where you carry your stress, the mood you’re in, etc. by just LOOKING at you. Literally just by taking a glimpse. He has been spot on with me for weeks at this point. I can’t wait to elaborate, but basically the other day he told me, “You know you’re moving from one form of imbalance to another.” Which is one of my largest fears in life. And he totally called me out. More to come.

12. THIS amazing Gooey Pumpkin Spice Latte Chocolate Pudding Cake

Because Angela is just amazing. And because I kind of slacked on creating a new Halloween recipe. #whoops

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13. TBB in BuzzFeed.

#7. Life is made.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 9.32.15 AM 14. This Pumpkin Carving Party

Because I desperately want to be friends with Molly Yeh.

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PS… Happy BIRTHDAY to my sweet love & sis Miss Laura. If you want to see a really incriminating photo that I probably should have had more self-restraint to NOT post… check this out, hehehe.

What are YOU loving lately?!?! What the heck is up?! Xox 

Updates from Crazy Town

Hi, all of my beautiful and lovely souls! It has been a wild few days (read: Jordan’s insomnia self reappeared and came out to play for a good portion of last week) but I am beyond grateful that the wildness only comes from good things.

 

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The BEST thing is that I am feeling super happy, thankful, content and excited with all things TBB. The app (if you haven’t checked it out yet, type in ‘The Balanced Blonde’ to the App Store, or click here… I am so thrilled about it) has been #1 in the Food & Drink charts since it was released last Wednesday. Chicka whaaat?! Seriously, I had no idea it would be such a hit but I am beyond excited about it, and I have all of YOU to thank for supporting me by downloading it, checking it out, reviewing and rating it and giving me your amazing suggestions and tips.

The other exciting thing is the upcoming app launch party that is now confirmed for November 13th at Equinox in West LA. If you’re LA local or find yourself coming to LA at that time for any reason, reach out to me because everyone in this community is 110% invited. I want to celebrate with all of my favorite people, health and wellness influencers, readers, friends, family and fellow life rockers. Because we are all rocking at life and that deserves to be celebrated more than anything else.

Other than that… I am working away on Breaking Vegan – my memoir due out next October – and on TBV Apparel and recipe creation and fun upcoming events and collaborations. What would YOU like to see on the bloggy recipe-wise and collaboration-wise? It’s all of you who I owe my full-time TBB-ness too, so first and foremost connecting with y’all is beyond important to me.

Tonight I’m headed to my old sorority (LMU Alphi Phi, what what!) to give a little talk on entrepreneurship and the art of following your passion & your heart, and I couldn’t be more excited. I can’t wait to connect with my girls & meet a bunch of the new gals and talk about what I love more than anything.

We will be back with the Recovery Series this Friday with the amazingly inspirational Jessica Sepel and her recovery story. Of course we will have our regular Loving Lately and a fun joint giveaway with my girl The Healthy Maven. And by the grace of god I certainly hope I will get a recipe post up this week but no promises on that… OH, and obviously a few more written-in-stream-of-consciousness-fashion insomnia-induced HEY WHAT’S UP posts like this one, because I just like to check in and say hello.

Anyway, I thought I’d leave you for today with some photos of some of my FAVORITE people using the app & photographing themselves with the app. If you’d like to see your own photo up here, email it to me and/or tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #tbbapp so I can see!

The Balanced Blonde App Photo Roll!

My lover Lisa from amazing fashion + lifestyle blog Mind Body Swag (side note: Lisa and I were introduced when I was living in NYC by a mutual BFF, and I am so inspired by her energy and kindness in so many ways. I feel very lucky to have her in the TBB community! Oh, and she’s a TBV Apparel model. Duh.)

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Jessica Revesz from new(ish) + amazing fashion and lifestyle blog Jess Hannah, a.k.a my TBV Cleanse designer and one of the most talented creative people I know.

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Sweet + beautiful Eleni McMullin from amazing fashion blog Convey the Moment enjoying the app in her adorable winter get-up!

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My fellow LA balanced blonde chick, Nikki Sharp of Stay Sharp Be Strong. So excited to learn that this girl and I live but 5 miles from each other… Can you say blog friends turned real life friends? Kale yeah.

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My sweet Sophie modeling the App’s Breakfast page at our fun Juice Served Here raw cooking class on Thursday night. TBV Apparel Spread and all! And Philosophie Superfoods in the back… my lifeblood.

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My favorite wellness magazine, Happy Well Mag, snapped a beautifully artistic shot of the app on their kitchen table.

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And my perfect niece Kealey Jae, because obvi the app is toddler approved… Perfectly painted nails & all!

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More to come!! Send me your photos so I can seeee and hashtag #tbbapp! Oh, and check out Well + Good NYC’s awesome article today on 8 Amazing Pumpkin Recipes that Don’t Includes Lattes or Pies (who needs that nasty PSL?!) that also features a mention of TBB App! Annnddd my Pumpkin Almond Butter Oat Bars, because they’re insanely perf.

How’s my tribe of perfect beings? I love you all so much! 

The Balanced Blonde App is HERE!

Today’s Loving Lately is dedicated to one thing, and one thing only… The Balanced Blonde App is officially released and available for download!!! I don’t even know where to begin because I am so outrageously excited to share this with all of you. TBBSplashScreen

You’ve heard me dropping in little tidbits of information about the app for, well, months and months. I could never give an exact estimation of a launch date because there was so much that went into this release… between the incredible Cyrus from TouchZen Media, the 70+ recipes and healthy living guides, the food photos (yes I made and ate everything, and it’s all bomb), the FAQ section, the shopping list and favorites features, the “Share” features, and the process it goes through once we send to Apple… it’s a waiting game!

Plus, when have you ever known me to have a launch date that I actually stick to? I either get way too excited and release things way in advance (ahem, TBV Cleanse…) or I take on way too much and have to push certain projects back (I won’t even go there right now).

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Well, here was an instance where everything went exactly as planned, we heard back from Apple with the okay, we launched it to friends and family, and, ummm… it hit #1 in the Food & Drink Category in the App Store BEFORE I EVEN RELEASED TO MY READERS!

I died. And then I died again. And it’s been 24 hours and I am still dying.

unnamed-1And now that all my gushing is over (unless you read my review of my own app in the app store which I thought would be anonymous and now I can’t figure out how to delete it… #killme), I thought telling you about the app in Q&A style would probably answer the most questions in the most efficient way possible!

Q: What exactly is in The Balanced Blonde App, anyway?!

A: Oh, babes, let me tell you. The app has 70+ recipes (and counting!) with full food photos, ingredients, method and blog-post style descriptions to go along with them. There are also Healthy Living Guides (think “Tips How Not to Overeat on the Holidays,” “14 Steps to Making the Perfect Green Smoothie,” “8 Tips for Losing Bloat and Water Weight,” etc. It ALSO has a Shopping List feature (so cool!!!) so that when you know you want to get ingredients for a specific recipe at the grocery store, you can add it to the Shopping List and then check off and remove as you go. There is also a Favorites feature, a guide to using the app, a link to TBV Apparel, an FAQ section, About Section and Share feature!

And it will be updated monthly with 4 new recipes and 1 new healthy living guide per month.


Q: What inspired you to create an app?

A: Well, there were a few reasons. The first and most important reason is because I am hugely passionate about bringing health and wellness to as many people as possible, and creating an app seemed like the best way to reach the largest amount of people in the most affordable way for peeps. There is a stigma out there that eating healthy has to be expensive and time-consuming. While I do personally invest quite a bit of $$ in organic produce and fresh fruits and veggies, I do NOT spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

These recipes were created for the busy, on-the-go, kicking booty young/old/everything in between business women and men and moms and dads and kids and sistas and brothas who want to be as healthy as they can be without dedicating their whole lives to cooking healthy food. It’s all about BALANCE, yes?

Secondly… I am totally obsessed with creating as much for my readers and following as possible, and an app seemed like the logical next step. I love sharing healthy recipes, wellness tips, food photography and above all else CONNECTING and giving back to the amazing following who I appreciate ever so much. I could go on and on, but these are the main reasons. Oh! And Cyrus Kiani from TouchZen Media reached out with his expertise and an amazing plan, and the rest was history!

Q: Are the recipes from your site, or are they new?

A: Some are favorites from the site, and many are new. I wanted to create as many new, before never seen recipes for the app to make it exciting and worth every penny for you. Some are on the site, too, and it is super handy to have them all in one place by category… The App!

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Q: Are all of the recipes vegan / do all the recipes have vegan options / gluten-free options?

A: The recipes are not all vegan, but many of them are vegan or vegan friendly. There are some recipes that include fish, eggs and a bit of dairy. Nearly everything in gluten-free or has a gluten-free option. Each recipe says underneath it whether it is vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free or raw.

Q: Why does it cost $3.99?

A: I can’t believe I am even answering this question because it infuriates me, to be honest, but I will answer it anyway so that I can direct people this way who have questions about it. This app (and every app!) was created with tons of time, love, effort, detail and passion poured into it. There were countless hours and lots of money put into making the app. Cyrus and I worked together to create something very affordable and also worth our time (we have to eat too, ya know!). I provide loooottts of free information on the Internet (all day every day, actually), and selling something like an app helps me continue to blog and put that info out into the world daily!!

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Q: Who developed the app for you?

A: The incredible Cyrus Kiani of TouchZen Media developed this app, and will be developing any and all apps I do in the future! Touch Zen is a mobile app publishing company, and if you are interested in working with them or learning more about them then pop on over to their website and check them out.

Alright, babes!! That is all for today. I would LOVE to answer any and all questions you may have about the app from here on out, so as always I am available through the contact form on the bloggy and would love nothing more than to talk about the app and share with all of you as much as I can.

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Also… I will be reposting photos up a storm from now on of cute, creative images that you all post and tag #tbbapp in! I would absolutely LOVE, love to see you using the app and hear your thoughts! You know I will comment away!

Sending you all so much love! I seriously appreciate every ounce of the support.

Xox,

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The Ultimate TBB Restaurant + Grocery + Cocktail Guide to NYC

So, it’s no secret that I am engaged in a full-blown love affair with New York City. I have lived there twice and don’t really plan on stopping there. I got back from my most recent trip to the city last week, and while I planned on updating the blog daily throughout my trip with my what-I’m-doing-in-NY-today romps, I was too unbelievably content and captivated to even get anywhere near my computer.

And if you know me, you know that’s a huge fete. There are not many things I love more than writing for this bloggy.

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While I was there, I got a whooole lot of, “WHERE SHOULD I EAT IN NEW YORK?” emails and “Where should I stay?!” and “What’s the best neighborhood?” and “WHERE do you buy your clothes in the citayyyy?” etc. etc.

So I decided to put together a comprehensive little guide to all of my favorite NYC spots. The city is buzzing with energy from the coffee shops to the parks to the beautiful souls that inhabit the city. And we all know I am a certified grocery-shopping addict (it’s an expensive habit, I know, I’m trying to kick it… a little bit…!)

I was going to make this post a FULL guide to NYC, but after I started writing the food portion of the guide I realized it would way too freakishly long if I did that. So we are going to have to break it up into parts.

Without further, ado, THE food (restaurant, grocery + cocktail) guide to the city of dreams:

Restaurants:


 Would it really be appropriate to start this list with anything but food? NYC is notorious for its fabulous restaurants of all different tastes, styles, price ranges and cuisines. It’s a foodie wonderland. I did a little Yelp-esque monetary guide here ($ – $$$$) in case you have specific budgets in mind… Ready? Here we go.

Hu Kitchen ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻

West Village, near Union Square

Paleo, casual, great for breakfast, lunch or dinner

$$$

Hu Kitchen is a Paleo restaurant (plus quinoa!) that uses no cane sugar, refined sugar, wheat, soy lecithin, gluten, emulsifiers, or GMO products. That’s right, they make super extremely delicious Paleo desserts with coconut sugar and natural sweeteners like dates and raw honey. But more than just desserts they also have an extremely delicious cold food & hot food cases with just about anything your hungry heart could desire. AND they have a super cool concept called a mash bar, which is more or less a healthier version of a frozen yogurt bar. Plus juices and smoothies. Can you say my heaven in a restaurant?

My all-time favorites are the roasted broccoli, Primal kale salad, grain-free fish sticks (sounds questionable on paper, but they are delectable), roasted chicken, and of course the juices and all of the mash bar. And their crème brulee is one for the absolute books. Oh, and their breakfast is INSANE… their breakfast burritos are so healthy and amazing I can’t even handle it. Plus, the owner’s name is Jordan and he kinda rocks.

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And don’t short yourself on getting a locally made Hu chocolate bar. Okay, I’m done gushing… for now!

Candle 79 ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻

Upper East Side, 79th & Lex

Vegan, intimate, sit-down

$$$$

Candle 79 is THE place for vegan cuisine in NYC. Not only is the atmosphere fantastic and the food delicious, but their cocktails rock and the menu is innovative in a way I have never seen vegan food done anywhere else. Some of the can’t miss items are Angel’s Nachos, the warm kale and faro salad with tempeh (TO DIE FOR), the Spaghetti & Wheat Balls (wheat isn’t my thing, but my very non-vegan dad loves this item so it must be amazing), and you must, MUST get either the Mexican Brownie or the Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte. Last time I was in NYC I took myself on a solo lunch date here and I was in my absolute heaven. Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 9.33.14 PM

Gingersnap’s Organic ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻

East Village

Raw vegan, intimate, casual

$$$

Anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with Gingersnap’s. I wholeheartedly believe they have the best green juice in all of NYC (the Kick… ah, I am missing it as we speak), and all of their organic food, juices and soups are so yummy and nutritious. And, as the name portrays, they are 100% organic and owner Jamie Graber takes organic very seriously so contrary to the usual organic concerns, you can trust them above and beyond. Some of my favorite menu items are the ramen, the chia seed pudding and the raw vegan donut holes. Plus, who doesn’t like to support businesses run by kickass women? I know I do.

Ramen And I have hosted some fun events there. Win, win. Next time I am in the city I plan on doing another one – tell me what you’d like to see!

Feel Food ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻

West Village

Mostly, vegan options, casual

$$$

Feel Food was on my street when I lived in NYC, so naturally I ended up going there a ton. Their salads and their gluten-free dosas are so good and so nutrient-rich. I used to live for getting the most colorful veggie salads there with yummy light citrusy dressings. One thing I will say is that their smoothies aren’t my fav. Just trying to be honest – you’re better off going down the street to Hu, Juice Press, Juice Generation or Elixir… all within a three minute walking radius. 

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Juice Press ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻

Locations throughout the city

Raw vegan, juices, smoothies

$$$

Amazing juice and smoothie bar with yummy raw food options to boot. I hustled my booty there every single morning for a coffee + Black Label and/or their new Black Label Latte and Black Label Almond Latte. (Black Label is an amazingly delicious combo of dehydrated almonds, coconut water, coconut oil, sea salt and vanilla bean). If you are into cleansing (which I don’t exactly recommend unless solid food is involved or you really know what you’re doing), you can create your own cleanses there which is super fun. Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 10.25.37 PM

Oatmeals ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻

West Village near Bleecker

Oatmeal!

$

I tried this for the first time last time I was in NYC, and I have two words: Totally. Obsessed. We all know how I feel about oatmeal, and specifically about oatmeal with endless and delicious topping options. Oatmeals is a fair price and an adorable little spot that serves oatmeal with all sorts of toppings all day long. They have sweet, savory and everything in between. And you can even choose between water-based and milk-based oatmeal!

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Pure Food & Wine ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻

Union Square area

Raw vegan, upscale

$$$$

Pure Food and Wine is the raw food equivalent of Candle 79, in my eyes. It is upscale, sit-down, awesome environment, yummy drinks, ADORABLE outdoor patio (in the warmer months… don’t even subject yourself to that in the winter), and has the yummiest food and raw vegan desserts that I absolutely dream about when I am not there. One week I went here FOUR times, because it’s just that good… and I feel comfortable dragging non-veggie friends there too, which is always a plus. Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 10.29.05 PM

 Jivamuktea Café ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻

Union Square area

Vegan, Macrobiotic

$$$

This yummy, casual macrobiotic café is attached to an awesome NYC yoga studio that has been around forever – Jivamukti. Their dishes are macrobiotic and super healthy and nutrient-dense. You get what you pay for… it’s on the pricier side, but that’s because they only use the best ingredients and everything is extremely fresh and plentiful. Their “Yogi’s Choice” bowls are seriously to die for. I love to get mine with quinoa (the fluffiest quinoa I have EVER had!), black beans and steamed kale. And I love, love their smoothies and big, foamy chai teas. It’s also the greatest place to post up with a computer and work the day away.

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Other favs ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻

One Lucky Duck: Union Square + Chelsea locations, Raw vegan, $$$; Delicious pre-made raw salads, smoothies, juices and desserts

Buddakan: Chelsea, Pan-asian cuisine, $$$; SO fun for environment, plus delicious food and cocktails

Eat Drink Wild: West Village, Pizza + Salads + Soups, $$$; Hole in the wall and great for a romantic night or dinner with friends… and the yummiest Sangria

Juice Generation: Several locations, Juices + Smoothies + Raw food, $$$; The BEST coconut kale smoothie… served INSIDE of a coconut

Peanut Butter & Co: West Village, PEANUT BUTTER RESTAURANT, $$; A restaurant dedicated to peanut butter sandwiches. End of story. I’ll admit, the atmosphere leaves much to be desired, but if you’re craving a good PB&J then this is your jam.

Peacefood Café: West Village, vegan restaurant, $$; This was totally my go-to place when I lived in NYC. The food is delicious at a pretty decent price and everything is vegan, which is cool if you’re in the mood or if you are dietary restrictions. Their desserts and salads are my ultimate fav.

Candle Café: Upper East Side, vegan restaurant, $$; Candle 79’s more casual younger sister. Better for daytime.

Locanda Verde: TriBeCa, Italian tavern, $$$; This is the ultimate brunch spot. Their food is serious food porn, and their drinks are super fun. Plus, for a NYC restaurant it’s super spacious and makes you feel like you’re in a real Italian (or at least San Franciscan) tavern restaurant.

Rosemary’s: West Village, Italian, $$$; Amazing atmosphere, amazing food, amazing drinks. If you’re looking for a cute date spot or a fun atmosphere for girls’ night out, this is your place.

Souen: Three downtown locations, Macrobiotic, $$$; So fresh, the fish I trust MOST in Manhattan, so healthy and so consistent. Beyond worth every penny, and cute little intimate atmosphere 

Grocery Stores:


 Whole Foods ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻

Locations all over the city, but Bowery, Union Square + Columbus Circle especially rock

$$$

I won’t say a whole lot about this, because there are Whole Foods Markets all over the US. But naturally, as a food blogger and an organic produce lover and total food lover in general, this was on my daily list of stops when I lived in the city. If you can make it to Bowery… it will NOT disappoint. Full trail mix bar (say what?!?), amazing prepared food section, and tons of restaurant seating and food options upstairs. It’s one of the best I have been to by far. And if you’re grocery shopping there, be sure not to overload yourself unless you plan on taking a cab home… I have definitely trudged through the snow with TOO many heavy-ass WFM bags. (At least they’ve never broken.)

Integral Yoga Natural Market ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻

West Village near Chelsea

Organic & vegetarian (almost vegan… they don’t carry eggs, but they carry dairy products)

$$$

Considering the fact that this was on my street when I lived in NYC, I went here ALL the freaking time. If I wasn’t at Whole Foods, I was at Integral Yoga. It’s better to go here for the purpose of picking up custom items that you’re looking for… raw local honey, local almond milk brands, a few produce items, superfoods, organic soups/smoothies/juices, gluten-free flours and healthy bulk bin options. I wouldn’t suggest doing all of your shopping here because it would certainly get pricey. They also have super yummy homemade desserts and these superfood balls that are to die for.

LifeThyme Natural Market ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻

West Village

Organic but not limited to any particular style or cuisine

$$$

Amazing for organic, trustworthy produce, hot and cold prepared food options, organic brands, homemade smoothies and juices, local almond milks, gluten-free options, etc. They have an upstairs seating area that isn’t anything special but it is relaxing if you want to plop down with a book for a while and enjoy your food!

Citarella ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻

West Village (right next to LifeThyme!)

Gourmet market

$$$

Citarella can also be a bit pricey, but if you are looking for a trustworthy place to buy fish in the city… this is your place. They especially have delicious salmon, shrimp and sushi. Their salad bar is really good, too. I bought my produce here a lot because it is always fresh and yummy, and they sell a good selection of Kind bars, Larabars, etc. (You know I love that!)

 Garden of Eden Gourmet Market ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻

West Village, close to Union Square

Gorumet market

$$-$$$ (Student discount available)

Somehow I only discovered this place last time I was in NYC even though it was in my old neighborhood and right next to my old school! They have an awesome selection of prepared foods if you’re on the go for lunches, and lots of great organic products and produce to choose from. They have deli foods, cheese, a bakery and do specialty items as well.

Other favs:

Gourmet Garage, Westside Market, Trader Joes (obvi)

Cocktails:


 Oh me, oh my! You know that when I lived in NYC I wasn’t the hugest alcohol drinker in the world, but I still got around when it came to the nightlife scene. I have a few favorites when it comes to bars + cocktail spots in the city.

Candle 79 ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻

As mentioned above, Candle is on the Upper East Side and is a delicious and wonderful organic vegan restaurant. They have incredible “eco cocktails” including the Reforestation which is made with VeeV acai spirit, wheatgrass infused Crop vodka, muddled mint, ginger-agave, lime and club soda on the rocks. And for every Reforestation sold, a tree is planted in your honor! They also have an incredible organic and all-natural ginger ale that is just fabulous when paired with a splash of vodka.

The Flatiron Room ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻

Flatiron, Whiskey Bar

$$$

Okay, so this is a whiskey bar, but they also have vodka, gin, wine, champagne, beer and etc. The atmosphere is unbeatable. When you step into the bar you feel like you’re walking into a super classy Roaring 20’s restaurant/bar. They have live jazz and bluegrass music and a fun happy hour every night of the week, which makes for such a fun environment. I am in love with this place and have so much fun every time I’m there.

The Tippler Room ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻

Chelsea, Underground bar with fun cocktails and food

$$

This is more of a going out spot, and they have some delicious and innovative cocktails. Whatever you do, don’t get their grape juice vodka drink (I forget what it’s called) because it’s pure sugar and tastes a bit like black licorice, but for the most part everything else rocks and I always have a blast there.

Alta ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻

West Village, adorable restaurant with fun drinks

$$$$

Definitely a place to go on a special date night or a night on the town with a small group of friends. Their food is also really good, and their drinks are fun. Very classy environment and adorable restaurant.

Sotto 13 ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻

West Village, restaurant on residential street (my old street!) with great cocktails, bar, wine, happy hour, brunch, etc.

$$$

If you go to NYC and don’t do a boozy brunch at Sotto 13, you are seriously missing out. End of story. And then indulge in one of their pizzas and their insane Brussels sprouts dish.

So…. there you have it! My comprehensive guide to NYC food + drink! AKA THE Guide to THE Best City in the World! If you try any of these places… please do let me know, and tag me on Insta/Twitter/FB so I can drool over your food and be super excited that you love it as much as I do!

Xox,

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Recovery Series #6 // Chocolate Covered Katie

“Chocolate Covered Katie Anorexic” is the second thing that comes up when you Google search healthy dessert blogging extraordinaire CCK on the internet. Right below her Black Bean Brownies and right before her Cookie Dough Dip (my personal fav), is something extremely personal and quite ridiculous. Needless to say, this girl is no newbie to the land of internet trolls.

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When I decided to come forward about transitioning away from veganism, it was Katie who I spoke to on the phone in the wee hours of the morning while pacing frantically around my NYC apartment. “I’m going to press publish, I just have to do it,” I said, feeling like a maniac but knowing she totally understood the pressure that comes along with blogging about a specific healthy lifestyle… And her words of support and encouragement coupled with her realistic, “You know you’re probably going to get death threats, right?” prepared me for the worst (which certainly came) and also gave me the strength to go through with posting the article.

Katie’s blog has always been a very favorite of mine because her food photos are sensational (serious food porn), her writing voice is the perfect amount of to the point recipe details with little glimpses into her head and everyday life. The fact that people on the internet choose to judge and attack her for her weight – on both ends of the spectrum, is beyond me.

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She gave me the awesome opportunity to chat with her about her recovery journey… not about the “anorexia” rumors floating around the web, but of an intense exercise addiction that started to effect her life in quite negative ways. Without further ado… CCK, take it away!

Recovery Series #6 // ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ►


 

Q: Full name, Age, Current Location:

A: Katie Higgins… or Chocolate-Covered Katie! 28 years old. Washington, D.C.

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Q: Over-exercising is something I can totally identify with, as it is a way us extreme & super-driven people can control our lives in a way that at first is seemingly so healthy. Do you recall when your running took a turn for the obsessive & unhealthy?

A: I think it was around 4 or 5 years into it. When I’d started running in college, I could not wait to get out there every day and run. I was one of those people no one believes because they insist they really do love running. But, as the years went by, that passion slowly transformed into a feeling of obligation. The first time I forced myself out the door when I didn’t really want to go, that’s when I think it became unhealthy.

Q: At the peak of your obsession, how often were you running and what were your usual distances?

A: I ran 8 to 10 miles at least every other day for over five years, without taking a single break no matter the weather. It might not be too much for someone else, but for me it was too much.

Q: What was it about running that became addicting for you — the “runner’s high,” the controlling aspect of seeing results in your body, burning calories, the attachment to the practice itself, feeling strong, etc.?

A: After a while, it became part of my identity. Even when I knew I wasn’t enjoying it anymore, I was afraid to give it up because I identified as a “runner.” I had such a long streak going of never skipping a run that I was scared to take that initial step and just not go out one day. I was afraid of change, I guess.

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Q: What kind of changes did you see and feel in your body and mental state at the peak of your obsession?

A: I was tired ALL the time. When friends would invite me out at night, I often declined invites because I knew I had to run the next morning and therefore didn’t want to be up late. Energy for all non-running activities was low… And I didn’t even realize how low my energy was because this had been “normal” for me. It was only when I gave up running and suddenly felt like I could accomplish a million things at once and take on the world that I knew I’d been in a state of low energy for years before. The funny thing is that now I feel like I could run a marathon!

Physically, yes I was at a low weight and looked a bit drawn. However, my body still functioned normally and I never had an eating disorder to go along with the running obsession.  I attributed the low weight to genetics and a fast metabolism, but this turned out to be only part of the issue. The real issue was that even though I was always eating I just could not take in enough food to make up for all the energy my body burned from the stress of the high-impact running.

Q: You’ve been given a lot of crap in the media & the online blogosphere for being “too thin,” and then “too fat” (laughable), and you’ve been been called a “fat slug” *(WTF)! How did it make you feel to be attacked by people who don’t even know you and who have never even seen you in person? Did the criticism fuel your obsession, help you come to terms with it, or neither?

A: The eating disorder comments hurt. Here I was stuffing my face on a 3000+ calorie diet because I WANTED curves, and people were attacking me for the very things about which I was insecure in the first place (my toothpick arms, childlike body, etc.). They also accused my blog of promoting eating disorders simply because of how I looked (not reading the message my blog sent out).

The fat slug comments…  I almost screamed with joy when I got that first “fat” comment because I knew I had made it; I knew people no longer saw me as anorexic, and this thrilled me.

When I stopped running, my body basically transformed almost overnight into the exact body I’d always wished to have! It was fantastic! So although I still get both “too thin” and “too fat” comments, neither really has an effect on me anymore.

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Q: Okay, enough of the difficult stuff. Tell us what RECOVERY looked like for you! How did you begin the recovery process, and what did “getting help” look like?

A: In late 2012, I got the idea in my head to just stop running one day. Just like that. But I kept delaying it, saying, “One more run. Just one more. Then I’ll quit.”

Finally in the summer of 2013, I forced myself to just do it; to just not run one day. On that morning, I walked instead. And with every stride, I contemplated picking up the pace to a run. But once I took the initial step, it was a lot easier than I’d thought it would be. I was shocked to find I didn’t miss running at all. And with the renewed energy I had for other activities, I began rediscovering forgotten parts of my identity.

It was like waking up every morning high on caffeine, without ever taking a sip of coffee.

Q: How did friends and family react to the change? Were they relieved when you started cutting back on exercising?

A: I had to work on friendships I’d neglected due to lack of energy in the past. I began saying “yes” to every single opportunity; every single concert, party, dinner, night out on the town… And my friendships became much stronger; my social life MUCH more vibrant.

Q: What has the best aspect of recovery been? 

A: EVERYTHING.

All the energy! And the new curves don’t suck :)

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Q: Do you ever feel an itch to revert back to those old habits? (I know I do.) If so, what are some tips for overcoming the challenges?

A: Never. I know what my life was like then, and I know what my life is like now. I have no fear of ever going back.

Q: Your blog pretty much sticks to food– there isn’t a whole lot of “This is how I feel today…” which is great, because it characterizes the consistent and upbeat tone of your massively successful web presence (and keeps the focus on your delectable dishes). Here is your chance to express some things you’d like to say on your blog that you know aren’t “CCK appropriate.” Let’s hear ‘em! Top 3 things you’d like your readers to know that you haven’t written about:

A: The “blog Katie” is only a small part of me; one-dimensional. There are so many things unrelated to food that I feel I can’t talk about on the blog. Relationships, friendships, etc. The blog is like a younger, politically-correct, dessert-obsessed version of Katie. It’s my true upbeat and passionate personality, but it doesn’t reflect all of who I am.

Q:  What is the BEST part about blogging? Has your blog helped you overcome the difficult times you went through with over-exercising, or is it ever a trigger for you? I know many bloggers (including myself) find the act of blogging itself occasionally triggering — especially surrounded by food, health, wellness and fitness questions all day long!

A: Everything is the best part about blogging, from experimenting in the kitchen to photographing the recipes to putting it all together into a blog post. No wait; when someone writes in and says he or she made one of my recipes… THAT is the best part about blogging. :)

A huge THANK YOU to Katie for being here today and sharing her story! Be sure to check her out over at Chocolate Covered Katie, on CCK Instagram & Facebook pages!

Anyone else out there suffer/suffered from an exercise addiction? I know I can relate… and Katie gives the best advice when she says that recovery helped her discover a new part of her identity. SO worth the work. 

Loving Lately 10.16.14

Hello, hello! I know that I promised a TBB Guide to NYC yesterday, but A) I got so flippin’ writing-happy while I was making it that I decided to cut it into several sections… starting with the best part, of course: FOOD. Then I decided I was still so riled up about my “Open Letter to the Food Police” that I didn’t want another new post to distract from it, so I’m saving the guide for next week. And I can’t wait to share.

But today is Thursday, and you know what that means around here. Loving Lately! And after last week’s vacation hiatus, there are a LOT of things I am loving lately. Also, a lot of you asked me to share more info on my memoir Breaking Vegan that is coming out next October, so I’ve included some deets about it on the list. I am SO THRILLED to share the book with all of you. Some days I just wanna curl up and write on it and say bye bye to blogosphere until the book is donezo, but I could/would never do that. Interacting and connecting with all of you rockin’ readers is what inspires me to write and share the story in the first place, so I’m not going anywhere. :)

Now…

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1. Magazine features  ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻ Something that has totally rocked that I continue to be so appreciative of is the media’s interest in my recovery journey. Harper’s Bazaar Australia wrote this incredible article titled “Diary of an Orthorexic,” that, while it sounds like it was written by me, was formulated by one brilliant journalist after doing an extensive interview with me about my recovery. After the article came out in their November issue they released it online, and I have gotten such a warm response from beautiful readers and new friends. We are all in this together, and being open to the world by sharing directly through our hearts not only heals us, but brings hope to others… I know you’ve all given me so much hope and inspiration. Thank you, and thanks to Harpers!!

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2. Stripes  ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻ Umm, am I the only one who is obsessed with stripes this season? And it certainly helps that Shopbop is having a 25% off sale this week! Use the code “FAMILY25″ at checkout. And which of these stripes do you love the most?! Also threw in the men’s tee because if I have a guy wearing it I would totally be like yo, let’s meet…

3. This awesome “I do” wedding band  ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻ This amazing Brooklyn-based Japanese designer Sakurako Shimizu has been creating custom wedding bands engraved with each partner’s sound wave of saying “I do.” How COOL is that? My future hubby, wherever he is, should certainly keep these rings in mind. I love the idea of having such a special and unique band that not only looks beautiful, but has a piece of your partner in it wherever you go. I’m a sucker for extra-personal things when it comes to romance, and these just raised the bar wayyy high.

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4. Breaking Vegan  ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻ Well, I did promise I would share more info! Breaking Vegan is the title of the book I’m working on that will be released in October 2015. It’s partial memoir and partial lifestyle guide with action tips toward overcoming orthorexia, “breaking vegan” or breaking any dietary label or mold you have gotten stuck in, and toward living a life where you are completely in love with yourself and your bod. The backbone of the novel? BALANCE. Coming from one of the most unbalanced chicks on the face of the earth… the steps I have taken to gain balance in my life have been extremely helpful and the only thing in the world I want to do is share them with all of you. The book will go into the nitty gritty details of my eating disorder, and shares background information that I have never shared on the blog.

Essentially, it’s a memoir/lifestyle guide about my eating disorder journey and recovery process. Yes, I have an agent and a publishing company and they are both absolutely fantastic. Yes, it is my dream come true because all I’ve ever wanted to do is write a novel. Yes, I am totally stressed and feeling haywire because my deadline is rapidly approaching and I am trying to juggle the blog + the app + TBV Apparel + travels + friends + life + workouts + yoga + sleep (very occasionally), but the BOOOOK is always, always, always on my mind. Happy to answer any and all questions you may have about it. I am freakishly thrilled!

5. Eat Q (a.k.a the eating version of IQ)  ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻ Speaking of books, one of my health and wellness idols just came out with a book called Eat Q, which is basically a three-step program for conquering the difficulties of emotional eating. I don’t know about you, but that’s something I can use some definite help with. It’s not just a personal account or a scientific overload, it’s about developing a true Emotional Intelligence with your body that will help you get over your hump and find your healthiest true. #breakingvegan #makingmagic, am I right?!? Check it out. You’ll love.

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5. Raw Vegan Peanut Butter Cups  ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻ Ahhh, old news for some of you I know, but these lil’ bites of heaven have been an absolute staple in my house again lately. When you need something sweet to munch on but you don’t want to compromise your hard workouts by indulging in refined sugar (nothing wrong with doing that once in a while too, btw… I definitely do. A lot!) these are so perfect. They are still super sweet and decadent and in my opinion I think they are WAY better than original processed peanut butter cups anyway. You’ll thank me the moment you try them!

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6. These adorable & nutritious bars  ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻ Ok, real talk here. These bars, NOLA bars, are almost too good to be true. They are grain-free, refined sugar-free, handcrafted in San Francisco (you know I LOVE a good Nor Cal based company), and so, so good for you. Oh, and they taste amazing. They also don’t believe in putting their bars in grocery stores because they believe a shelf life is no life at all. Their bars are individually made to order. AND the owner of the company is named Jordan (I’m not biased at all), and she discovered a grain-free, sugar-free diet after years of dealing with severe digestive issues. Sound familiar? It’s not me, I swear.

Well I’m in love with these bars and I want you to try them, too, so… we have set up a 25% off promo code for my readers to run for the next month. Boxes are usually $34 plus shipping, so I hope the code helps you support an amazing company + fall in love with their deliciousness. Discount Code is “TBB”!!! (Plus, Jordan and her husband are so cute and sweet and you must stalk them on their website.)

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7. This freakishly & painfully cute video ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻ So, this video went viral a couple of weeks ago and I can’t stop quoting it and/or watching it for the life of me. These two little kids are arguing about whether it’s raining outside or sprinkling… a.k.a “rainin’” or “thpwinklin’” and um, the little boy gets his heart poked at the end and you just might die and melt and crack up and want to cuddle all at once. Watch it!!!

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8. People who follow their hearts & bring their passions to life ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻ This is something I think about often, but lately I can’t even get it out of my head for a split second. It inspires me SO much to see people pursuing what they love and kicking butt doing it. And, for the record, kicking butt doesn’t have to mean making money or even finding quick success, all it means is that you are doing something that makes you ridiculously happy. I wrote about it on Instagram on Tuesday (follow @tbvapparel, btw!), along with a quote I love dearly, “Be Who You Are, Not Who the World Wants You to Be,” and started feeling really emotional and proud of everyone I know who has taken a leap into the unknown to pursue what they love. I left graduate school to pursue health blogging for goodness sakes, and it was the BEST DECISION I have ever made. Co-creator of Suja, Annie Lawless, has a fantastic article on her blog about this very topic… I highly suggest you check it out.

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9. BIRTHDAYS! ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻ I celebrated my 24th birthday this past weekend… to many of you that probably sounds very young and to some of you it probably sounds way old (shout out to my sweetie high school readers), and to me it sounds mind blowing. First of all, at this strange mid-twenty age of mine I forget my age daily. Am I 18? Am I 30? It is so hard to feel grounded in your age when you’re completely in between being totally taken care of by your parents and being completely self-sufficient. Like, excuse me, which category there do I fall into? I have an old soul but also act like a total little kid most of the time. My birthday was a BLAST, and it is always such an amazing reminder of all of the fantastic people I am surrounded by. I celebrated with amazing friends, incredible family, LOOTTSS of drinks and lots of great food.

Here are some of them…

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Annddd here are a few more… (Can you tell that my people are my life?)

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9. More Fall Amazingness… ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻ I simply can’t stop myself from wanting all of it. Especially the vest & the denim tee & the ROMPERS!

10. EQUINOX ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻ So, I’m going to be writing a post in the coming weeks called, “Dude, Where’s My Gym?” about the fact that I moved to LA three months ago and have gone the ENTIRE time (until Monday) without having a gym membership. My Yogaworks membership, my hikes and running outside served me wonderfully until I started feeling, well, a little sluggy. If I don’t get in some good cardio conditioning and weight training, I don’t exactly feel my best. It can be hard because I love yoga so much that I am pretty content with doing it 7 days a week and not switching it up… but variety is huge and this I know, and I want to feel my best always. So, I joined Equinox, and I’m freaking LOVING it. The West LA location is everything a girl could dream of and more. I will be doing a full posty post on it soon and I can’t wait to share. Snapped this photo yesterday after my workout… Unreal, right?

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11. W A T E R ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻ Staying hydrated is KEY when it comes to coming into your happiest & healthiest self. Check out this infographic… it’ll blow your mind. Chug up!

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11. Well + Good Fitness Mash-Up Event in LA ! ! ! ▶ ▷ ▸ ▹ ► ▻ Eeek, I am SO excited about this event! It’s going to be a SUPER cool combo of workouts with top studios in Santa Monica, followed by a healthy after-party at the Athleta store on Third Street Promenade. I will be attending the burn-and-balance session (90 minutes of Maha Burn + 30 minutes of Unplug meditation + healthy after-party), and I can’t wait. It would be so cool to meet any/all of you there if you’re local, so grab a ticket before they all go. They are flying out the door! You can find full info on the Bicoastal Biathlon here. Come, come, come!

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What are YOU loving lately?!? How are all of my favorite peeps doing? 

Super Simple Green Breakfast Smoothie + Wherever You Go, There You Are

Ah, home sweet California. For the first time in the past several months I am in LA to stay (for a while, that is!). My home in Brentwood hardly even feels like a home yet because I haven’t been here for longer than a week or two straight since I moved here in July. Between then and now I’ve been in Italy, the south of France, New York, SF and on lots and lots of trips to good old Sactown.

WorldMap It has been an unbelievable few months, and a whirlwind! I was SO looking forward to my NYC trip for so long, and now I can quite confidently say that I am happy to be chillin’ in LA, getting back on the Yogaworks train, re-starting my Equinox membership, working on the book in a consistent manner, and getting ready for the release of TBB APP in (hopefully) one short week!

You know from my LA vs. NYC post that I have been pretty torn about which city makes me happiest. And I think I finally have some clarity there… there is no “better” city or even a city that suits me more than the other right now. They are so different they are incomparable, and both places have people in them who I love dearly and that’s what’s most important. You know the phrase, “Wherever you go, there you are”? Well, that couldn’t hold more truth for me right now.

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NYC? There I was. LA? Here I am. Sacramento? There I am. I can’t get away from myself, my problems, my successes, strengths, weaknesses or anything in between – no matter where I go. I am stuck with myself! And I am kinda pretty darn happy about it to tell you the truth. It feels good to be one with yourself and to continue strengthening the mind body connection that makes us who we are.

When I first started working on my book a few months ago, I kept thinking I would get more work done when I was home in Sacramento with zero distractions. Then I felt like I would get the best work done in New York where I am super duper inspired and the city is buzzing with energy. And sometimes I have felt like I could get awesome work done in LA by the beach with the waves as my inspiration and my calm. (And the sand to play with… duh.)

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And… guess what? Wherever I went, THERE I WAS. There was no “better” work going down in any place in particular. I mean, I guess I concentrate best in Sactown because I can clear my schedule of meetings, workout classes, social events, etc. and really get down to business, but still, I can do that anywhere if I really want to.

And in all of those places, over all of these months, I have grown into someone I am pretty proud to be. I am eating foods that I had terrible anxieties over just a few months ago, and I am working hard on things I absolutely love. I am surrounded by ROCKINNN people who make me super happy, and I am taking the time to breathe, relax and center myself whenever I remember how important it is (hehe).

AND, after pretty much taking a week off to enjoy the beauty of the city I missed ever so much, I am back with a full schedule of blog posts this week. Yesterday I posted my Open Letter to the Food Police (after getting harassed in public about eating meat), which I highly recommend you read if you haven’t yet. For anyone who judges, has been judged, or fears being judged by your food choices… check it out. You’re not alone.

main-qimg-4b618862c96c1a5635ef3aec88ac710fTomorrow is a TBB Guide to NYC post, which I am SO excited about. Thursday is a super fun-filled and jam-packed Loving Lately post full of a ton of things I’ve been loving lately because of my little hiatus, and Friday will be Recovery Series #6 with the superbly inspirational Chocolate Covered Katie discussing her recovery story.

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Get excited. I know I am.

OH, and today, you ask? SUPER SIMPLE GREEN BREAKFAST SMOOTHIE recipe time. Recipes… it’s been too long. But you’ll see why when TBB Recipe App comes out next week! 70+ recipes… can I get a kale yeah?!

Super Simple Green Breakfast Smoothie 

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Ingredients:

1 large frozen banana

1 cup spinach

1 cup kale

½ cup blueberries

1 tablespoon almond butter

½ cup almond milk

½ cup water

½ cup ice cubes

OPTIONAL: 1 tablespoon cacao powder, 1 tablespoon spirulina (or any yummy superfoods of your choice)

Directions:

Blend thoroughly and enjoy! Top with optional toppings if you so desire. I love topping mine with bee pollen, coconut shreds and a bit of raw, local honey!

How is everyone else’s week going?! Off to a good start? Thoughts on “Food Police” bullies? Gonna try this green smoothie?!

An Open Letter to the “Food Police”…

Sooo, this post has been on my mind for a while, and it’s about time I share.

It is one thing to be judged on the internet for my dietary choices. I am used to it, and I can handle it. I receive anywhere from 10-30 negative emails a day from plant-based former readers who still can’t believe I have switched over to a diet that includes meat, poultry and dairy. I understand the confusion and I have been happy and willing to answer questions from the get-go, but the straight up hate mail and hateful comments are seriously getting old and at this point hardly even make sense anymore.
And then there are the people who have the nerve to come up to me, my family and my friends in public and speak their mind. The internet is one thing — I understand that my blog and Instagram presence was largely rooted in veganism at one point, so I will take those blows as they come. To approach me (and my friends when I am not even THERE) in public and tell me I am a bad person based on my dietary choices (for god’s sake) is not cool and I will not tolerate it.
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This post was spurred by someone, who I sincerely hope is reading this, as I told her to when I spoke with her today, who came up to me when I was eating a burger for lunch today. My first burger since I was FOURTEEN years old and it kinda sorta should have been a special and exciting experience and instead it was pretty tainted by one quite negative and unhappy chick.
I ate the burger. It was delicious. I am trying my best not to view it as a freaking cow because no one likes to think about their food that way but I am listening to my body, I am eating humanely raised and humanely killed hormone-free meat, and I am doing my best over here to be cool with it. I am proud of myself and I recognize how far I have come.

After being a strict vegan for two years and a flip flop vegetarian / pescetarian since the age of 14… It’s not exactly in my comfort zone to eat meat, poultry and dairy, yet alone post photos of them for the world to see!

But I do it anyway, and I do it for a few reasons. A) I’m not ashamed. I am proud of my recent lifestyle changes and I enjoy documenting them and sharing them with my readers and followers. Many of you know that a few months back, I was terrified of a single over easy egg on my plate and more often than not I opted to throw it away in favor of a green juice because it didn’t fall into my longtime dietary label of veganism. The fact that I am now eating fish, eggs and poultry on a regular basis still blows my mind, and my body thanks me for it every day with more energy, clear skin, a functioning digestive system, a more relaxed mind, a recovering eating disorder mentality and a boosted metabolism.

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B) I want to show you all that there is a light at the end of the orthorexic tunnel. Not even just at the end of it– but also in the middle of it! I am nowhere near fully recovered. I struggle every day. I obsess a ton and I still have food anxieties. I go days without eating enough at all and have days where I eat way more to make up for it and then feel extremely uncomfortable. I am searching for my balance and there is no reason I should hide that from the world. I want to inspire others who have and DO struggle from similar issues. I want to continue connecting … And I can’t do that properly if I hide what I’m eating.

Lastly, I am sick and tired of the haters. The “Jordan you are a weak idiot and I hate you” comments. Someone literally posted that one this morning. In a way it’s comical because the negative people are so far away from reaching their truest selves and I feel sorry for them… But in a way it’s downright rude and ridiculous and I am not going to pretend it’s all butterflies and rainbows every time I get a negative comment about my food choices.

Why the hell are people so inclined to judge other people’s choices?! It’s hurtful and silly and really does some damage to the soul and psyche. I don’t let the negativity effect me the same way I did when I initially made my switch, but the fact that the hate still occurs daily is pretty shocking to me. It’s been five months. People are relentless.

This post is meant to do a couple things. If you are someone who finds yourself judging other people’s food choices (and I will flat out admit that I was once one of those people… Even if I wasn’t super verbal about it because I’m not a mean psycho), I encourage you to give it a rest. Keep in mind that everyone’s bodies and personalities are so extremely different, and we all function best on different types of diets. In order to perform, function and be our best selves as friends, professionals, family members and people in this world we’ve gotta fuel ourselves properly and that does NOT include getting stuck in dietary labels if they don’t work for us. If they do, sweet. If they don’t, cool. It shouldn’t even be a focus.

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Secondly, if you are on the other end of the spectrum and find yourself getting judged for your food choices, know that you are not alone. You are doing what’s best for your body, and for that you should reach your arms around your bod and give yourself a huge hug. You are brave and inspiring and you will find others who support you, even if people you hoped would understand are not there at all right now.

And last, and perhaps most importantly, if you are someone who is wanting to make a change and is afraid to because of the “food police” aka dietary label nazis aka judgmental and unhappy souls who don’t understand nutrition or simple human social skills — don’t be afraid to take the leap. There is hope, and as scary as it is to make a change and face the judgment, there is vast relief in listening to your body and making a choice that enhances your happiness, your soul and your beautiful individuality.

Cheers to evolving and finding ways to love our bodies however we can. I remember someone telling me a long time ago that it can be SO hard to find happiness in this world, and we are doing ourselves a huge disservice by conforming to another person’s definition of what is right… Do YOU and only good things will come.

You will see me using the hashtags #breakingvegan and #makingmagic on all of my food pics from now on. Breaking Vegan is the title of my book that will be out in October 2015– and I couldn’t be more proud and excited to share it with all of you amazing beings.

Here’s to breaking vegan and making magic. And being the BALANCED individuals that we are – plant-based, carnivorous, entirely unlabeled and everything in between.

Love to all and especially love to the haters… You need it more than the happy, supportive folk.

TBB out– happy Monday!!! I am happy… I swear. I had the best birthday weekend and I will be back tomorrow to talk about that and other positive things. This just had to be said.

(Balanced) Thoughts From the Sky

Ever have those moments where you feel overcome with the innate need to do something drastic like get a tattoo, hop on a random flight to Arkansas or adopt a dog? That’s how my entire week has been… Made a tattoo appointment, considered flying to Arkansas (that one is still up for debate in my mind) & filled out several doggy rescue apps. 

Yes mom, I certainly did. 

Perhaps my feelings are due to the fact that being back in New York for the first time after impulsively moving back to California a few months ago was rather shocking to my entire being.

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 8.31.03 PMAnyone who has been following along with my NY-obsessed Instas (like the above) + unusually consistent snap chats + (if you know me well) spastic text messages about feeling alive in the city has an inkling of a hinty hint that I. Loved. Being. Back.

But you know what the real trip is? Hereeee it comes… I also freaking love living in Los Angeles.

For the first time in my life, I’ve been faced with two perfectly wonderful options to live where not only does each city rock and provide endless things to do, but I also have dear, dear friends and boundless work opportunities in both places. Essentially, I could live in either place. New York is far from most of my family but my lifelong BFF and many family-like friends are there… And LA is closer to family but has never reeallly given me the same cozy content sense of home that NYC gave me almost instantly.

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 8.32.51 PMKeep in mind when I got off the plane from LA to NYC I was coming down from a maniacal work-induced high. I had just submitted the first sixth of my manuscript to my publishers, driven from nor cal to so cal and back again in less than a week, wrapped up every last detail of the app and whipped out some crazy preparation for the TBV Apparel event in NY.

When I landed in En Why See (told you I was in a weird mood. Where the f did that spelling come from?) I was caught somewhere between major workaholic mode and a wave of total paralyzation and yearning for relaxation. I spent the majority of the week strolling the city, spending inordinate amounts of time with my most favorite of beautiful souls, jotting down notes in my new Brooklyn (soy paper…hell yeah) notebook and eating yummalicious food.

Yes, that meant stepping away from the bloggy for a few days. Did it kill me a little? Yeah. Was it necessary? Yeah. Am I ready to come back at ya with a boat load of fun posts, reviews, interviews, projects and ideas? KALE yeah.

In a short, New York taught me something extremely important this week. When you feel pulled toward something/someone/somewhere, even if it seems that there is no good reason for it, GO FOR IT. Listen, act and react. I spent about three days straight in a super duper wacky mood because A) I hit my head extremely hard on a shelf in Katie’s apartment, B) I was doing some necessary decompressing from the craziness of the month and C) I am a pretty weird chick, and I didn’t try to shove the odd feelings aside in order to work or even create… I just did the damn thing (life) and let myself be!!

And that was the greatest gift I could have ever given myself. In an interesting way I feel closer to my truth and my purpose than I ever have before in my entire life. I feel whole and open to what the universe has to offer. I feel very content with who I am and what I feel that I’m meant to do.

What is that, you ask? Too abstract to put into exact words but I will try: I want to continue creating and pursuing things that set my soul on fire. Those things include writing, helping others connect to their truest/healthiest selves, sharing healthy food and workouts and yoga with you awesome peeps, exploring new places, more alone time than I was ever comfortable having in previous years, and spending LOTS of time with people who lift me up.

It’s more of a feeling thing than a thing thing. And I am feeling luckier than EVER that this blog is my job and that my passions are in alignment with what I get to do right now.

And I even feel weirdly lucky to be flying over Kansas right now because for some reason it just feels right.

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So… How about that dog & tattoo & trip to the wild west?

(PS… I turn 24 tomorrow. SAY WHAT?)