Nuts, Berries & Veggies

The general preconception about lifestyle changes is that you immediately have to give up all the good things in the world. You kiss your favorite foods goodbye and say hello to your new normal: nuts, berries and veggies. Eating just those is completely sustainable, right?

For some people, it is (and I tip my hat off to them), but for me, that way of life is listed under the word ‘impossible’ in the dictionary. Like I’ve noted before, I really love all types of food. I’m also a drink person. And while enjoying nuts, berries and veggies and limiting processed foods is important, a lot more food appeals to me. So how does someone work this love for food/drinks into a healthy lifestyle? I’ll tell you. I also enlisted the help of my best friend, Danielle, to weigh in and give her tips.

1. Modifying your faves: You can still enjoy what you love, but sometimes, you just make some tweaks to them. For example, I LOVE Starbucks and it has stolen my heart. However, the nutritional information hasn’t stolen my heart so I customize my drink to combat high calories. My number one tip is skipping the whipped cream. Next, I ask for my drinks to be made with nonfat milk rather than whole or 2%. Just recently, I’ve been getting my drinks ‘skinny’, which means they’re made with sugar free syrup. Through all those, I enjoy my coffee without loading it up with calories, carbs and fat.

As for Danielle, she’s in love with frozen yogurt (specifically Yogurtland) and there’s no way she’d give it up. To work froyo in her healthy lifestyle, she “puts fruit on top.” Her favorite fruit topping? Strawberries. “That way, I still get the satisfaction of eating something sweet that isn’t loaded with candy,” she explains over text, which makes great sense to me!

2. Finding alternative versions: Over the years I’ve been getting healthy, I’ve tried a lot of types of foods as substitutes for others and not all have been successful, but some truly have. My favorite is PB 2 Powdered Peanut Butter. It is powder than you mix with water and it forms peanut butter. It is 45 calories, 1 gram of fat, 6 grams of carbs and I can barely tell it didn’t come from a Skippy or Jiff jar. Aside from peanut butter, I also love chocolate. I keep mini Dove dark chocolate squares in my pantry for when I need to satisfy a quick chocolate craving. Keeping with the theme of mini, Wholly Guacamole puts out mini 100 calorie packs of guac. I dip everything into it and can happily eat it without overdoing it, since the all natural guacamole comes in individual packs.

3. Cheat Days: Sometimes, though, you can’t fight the need for whip on your Starbucks drink. You need the M&M’s on your froyo. You need a king size Snickers bar and for those times, cheat days have been created. ‘Cheat days’ are when you let a little loose instead of only eating things you ‘should’ eat. Danielle incorporates these days into her lifestyle after “eating well for the whole week,” she will “have 1-2 cheat meals a week.” I usually will have my celebration meal on weekends. People typically criticize cheat days and think they are counterproductive, but I disagree. The breaks keep me sane and lessen any cravings I may have during the week. It’s also helpful for your body, too. “It’s good for your body to have a shock every couple of days,” Danielle mentions and I couldn’t agree more.

With these little tips and changes, I’ve been able to take steps towards a healthier lifestyle without cutting out what I love. When all else fails, remember, everything is okay in moderation!


Fearing the Freshman Fifteen

Hi, I’m Ilanna and my blog is all about getting my mind and body healthy while going through college.

Before I came to Rider University, I was of course nervous about all the normal things an upcoming freshman would be nervous about: Would I make friends? Would I be able to pass my classes? Would my roommate and I get along? However, the one worry that truly plagued my mind was: Would I gain the ‘freshman fifteen?’ The freshman fifteen is the theory of gaining around 15 pounds during your first year of college.

To many, having that has the number one fear would be seen as ridiculous, but I’ve always struggled with my weight. From elementary school through high school, I had an intense love for food and an even more intense hatred for exercise. You can only imagine how that combination worked out for me (surprise: it didn’t). I just tended to weigh more and get stuck in a string of unhealthy habits. Since college was rumored to do that to a person, too, I couldn’t get the fear out of my mind.

I tried during high school to get myself on track with eating and sleeping better, working out more, stressing less, etc. but I always fell off the wagon, especially the summer before college/during my first semester at Rider.

I honestly think I did gain some unwanted weight from September 2013 – January 2014, but when I came back for the second semester, something clicked and I started working harder than I ever have before to get healthier and feel better. And it worked (and is still working). I wound up losing weight that semester, but I gained happiness and knowledge on how to be fit in college (because I promise, it is very possible). I want people to believe that being healthier in college isn’t a pipe dream, because as a senior in high school, I 100% thought it was and I’m sure others do, too.

But this isn’t just for college students; no matter where you are in your life, health is still an obtainable goal. I don’t know all the answers and am still learning a lot on my journey. I also am definitely not where I want to be yet. But what I do know for sure is that I’m very far from where I used to be and that’s what matters.

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Sophomore year of high school (’10)


Sophomore year of college (’15)

Check out my ‘About’ page for more about me!