Sugar Baby

Hi again! 🙂  Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas holiday with their friends and family! Mine has been awesome- days and evenings loaded with family, friends, singing, viewing Christmas lights, seeing plays, watching movies, big dinners, Holiday flavored cocktails and lots and LOTS of sugar- oyveigh! I was telling a friend the other day how last Christmas, I was convinced I had Candida and that that was the cause of all of my health issues. I didn’t allow myself any holiday treats or goodies that year, which in and of itself was depressing. This year, I decided to get my fill and went a little sugar crazy. If I didn’t stop, I was going to turn into a holiday cookie 😛 Welp, now my stomach has been acting up a bit, probably because I’m not used to eating all that sugar… but the difference is that this year I’m not freaking out about it. I’m sure once my diet has been back to normal for a week or two everything will balance itself back out. And the key is balance. Which I’m proud to say I have a lot more of in my life now- whether it be my diet, my work life, my social life or whatever!

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Kristin Chenoweth posted this on Insta and I loved it so much I had to share… (She’s amazing too btdubbs <3 ) The end of the year brings up all of the insecurities and “stuff” (as I like to call it) that we are still struggling with or working on accomplishing… But you should know that this is normal and natural and a part of life. In life we move forward and then we take a few steps backwards. Our journey is constant and isn’t just made up of one straight rode forward to our destiny. It’s made up of hills and forks and mountains and slopes and rivers and desserts that cause us to take new turns and sends us flying backwards or sometimes cause us to take a rest. But that’s what I believe life is all about. Not the destination but the journey in getting there. And I think we are all working on being happy along our excavations… and not just looking forward to obtaining it once we get there. Cuz once we get there, I think our life is over.

When I was little I always thought about the day when I’d become a famous singer. (Yes, I sing. Not so much anymore because my main focus is on my acting, but I can still carry a tune 😉 ) I wanted to be the next Britney Spears (during her “Hit Me Baby One More Time” and Justin Timberlake days… not her I’m crazy so I’m going to attack the papparzi and shave my head off days. Although I do think she had good reason to attack them. Leave the celebrities alone already! They’re people too, not zoo animals.) Anyways, I look back and think about how often I wished for the day when I’d be famous, or when I got married to my “soul mate” (I no longer believe in soul mates. Instead I believe in the timing of our lives. I’m still working on trusting the timing of mine 😉 My life that is, not meeting someone)… or when I moved out of my house and made my own rules (my parents were crazy strict and I snuck out a lot- whoopsies!) or the day when I turned the real age of 21, not the fake age on my East Lansing, Michigan fake ID. Ha! But I think back on those days and think about how I should have savored my childhood more. Savored my high school and college years when the things I was “stressing” over were so minute in comparison to the responsibilities and stresses you accrue as you grow older.

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I read something the other day that said Depression exists when someone’s mind set is constantly living in the past and Anxiety happens when one is constantly living in the future. This made a lot of sense to me. Dwelling on the past is simply that, dwelling. And looking to the future is a waste of time because it rarely turns out to be what you think it will (and even when it does, it’s still not as “film-esque” or picture-perfect as you pictured it would be)… So what’s the point? Why do that to yourself? You might as well live in that very moment and enjoy it while you have it. That’s why it’s called the “present” after all, isn’t it? Because when you are really present, and alive and experiencing it, it can be so exhilarating! I literally get high when I’m on a hike or a long walk, listening to amazing music and taking in the colors of the trees or streets or people around me. I’m sure when exercise is involved, those spiking serotonin levels definitely play a part in that high… but how about when someone kisses you for the first time and you didn’t expect that to happen? How amazing is it to be caught off guard? It really grounds you into that very moment, doesn’t it?

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These are some of the things I’ve been thinking about this holiday season and end of the year. My family started a new tradition last year, where instead of buying crazy presents for each other, we go into the city, have an amazing dinner and go see a play on Broadway. This year we had my aunt, uncle and cousin join us, which has definitely been trying with all of us under one roof (don’t get me wrong), but on that day, it really was beautiful to be able to enjoy all of that with them. And I’m so thankful to have such a big family and people in my life that care about me, a father that has his own business that I can work for in between acting gigs and just a roof over my head in general! So anyways, I thought I would share that with all of you and just reflect on it 0:)

Oh! And going back to the sugar thing… for those of you that went a little sugar happy this Christmas like me, here’s a treat for you… Try cutting out sugar in entirety for the next five to seven days. Sugar causes cravings for more sugar and can be very addictive. BUT natural sugars, such as fruit, can be very beneficial. Try only eating fruit when your sweet tooth acts up and it will retrain your brain, and your pallet for that matter, to enjoy other foods and rely on different things for energy. *Stevia is okay too, but try only using it to sweeten your coffee. Your main source of energy and “sweet treat” should be coming from the fruit.

Here’s a great smoothie recipe to help! When I first moved back to Jersey, one of my biffle’s hooked me up with an AMAZING Nutritionist. (She was the health professional that got me back on the road to good health.) We did a two week cleanse to help correct my gut flora, which I damaged from too many colonics and cleanses (I know, I know, I’m cray. I literally was the health food industries perfect, brain-washed customer. But hey, ya live, ya learn. Am I right? Okay! Glad we agree on that 😀 )

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Anyways, these smoothies were part of the cleanse (although I doctored mine up a bit) and now I try to have one once a day. They’re packed with nutrients and they’re soooooo gooooood! I have it in the morning to start my day and sometimes I don’t even need coffee after it. (But usually I still do cuz I love my coffee. I gave it up for far too long and realized it is part of the balance in life, to allow myself to have it. PLUS it has it’s health benefits! Coffee contains antioxidants and is a natural laxative for cleaning those dirty bowels. Haha! 😉 And come on, ya know y’all love your coffee too!)

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*Also, Alicia McDonough is the name of my amazing nutritionist- for those of you that are interested in doing a cleanse, need help with weight management or are dealing with food allergies or health problems of your own and want to go the holistic route. She helped me get to the balanced place I’m in right now with my diet and nutrition, so she’s not that cray nutritionist that wants you to just drink green juice for the rest of your life… if that’s what you were thinking 😉 Check her out at Shore Nutrition and Wellness! She’s amaze-balls 😉

So here you are! Enjoy and happy sugar cleansing y’all! 😀

INGREDIENTS:

Frozen Strawberries and Blackberries

Spinach

1/2 Banana

Tumeric powder

Aloe Water

Low Fat Sugar Free Greek Yogurt (I like Fage)

Protein Powder of choice (*I like Nutritional Frontiers Vanilla Flavored Protein in my smoothies. The flavor blends best with the other ingredients but it comes in lots of different flavors including Chocolate, Strawberry Banana, Peanut butter and more! I also get the dairy free protein blend. It uses pea, rice and pumpkin as the source of protein so it’s great for people with dairy and other food allergies! It also has a lot of other vitamins and nutrient-deanse ingredients, including MCT oil, which I’m SUPER into right now!)

Greens Powder (I like Nutritional Frontiers Pro Lean Greens. It’s assists with detoxification, cleansing and rejuvenation and is also nutrient dense.)

Cinnamon

No Sugar Added Coconut Flakes

*You will also need an appliance to blend the ingredients. I like using my NutriBullet because you put it all in the cup and then it’s ready to eat and you can even take it on the go!

INSTRUCTIONS:

Start by putting the frozen berries in the bottom. This will weigh down the other ingredients and helps everything to blend nicely (when dealing with NutriBullet).  *Also, I use frozen strawberries and blackberries because berries are packed with antioxidants and are low on the glycemic index. Strawberries and blackberries are some of the few fruits that are okay to eat if you are dealing with Fructose Malabsorption- which is what I was dealing with. A very dear to me friend, whom is extremely knowledgeable about health and wellness, helped me figure this one out… Thanks “Giving Tree”! 😉  Anyways, if you don’t know what it is, don’t worry about it, I won’t bore you. But if you’re interested you can read about it here. (If you think you have it, don’t panic. I only cut the “problem foods” out for a month or so and slowly weened most of them back into my diet. However, I still have to be careful with my sugar intake… slap on the wrist for my Holiday Sugar binge :P)

Next put in a handful of spinach. I usually do a big handful to up my daily greens intake 🙂 But if that isn’t your thing, you can skip the spinach since there is plenty of nutritional greens in the Lean Greens Powder.

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Next slice half a banana into the mixture. (Bananas are high in potassium and fiber, but they are also higher on the glycemic index so I only do half unless I’m really hungry or had/about to have an intense workout. If I want the other half, sometimes I’ll slice it up and put it on top of the smoothie to eat when it’s ready.)

Then pour in the aloe water so it’s about 1/2 an inch to an inch high. Aloe is great for your digestive tract and helps the ingredients blend smoothly.

I sprinkle tumeric powder in next. (Turmeric is a great anti-inflammatory which was beneficial for my spinal surgery and my intestines.) Then I blend all of those ingredients in order to create more room in the Nutribullet.

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Next I top it with the Fage low fat sugar-free yogurt. (I choose to do low fat because fat helps to fill you up and keep you feeling fuller longer.)

Then, I put a scoop of protein powder and a scoop of greens in and blend the last of it.

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I top it with lots of cinnamon (cinnamon is especially great for diabetics and anyone watching their blood sugars because it helps in stabilizing your blood sugars and glycemic index spikes) and coconut flakes. Sometimes, depending on how hungry I am or what my body is craving, I top it with some low sugar granola and fresh sliced strawberries (extra vitamin C! Mmmmm!)

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I’ve found that if I don’t top my smoothie with something hard or crunchy “to chew”, I end up being hungry again an hour or so after eating. I read up on this and it was explained that our brains don’t recognize smoothies or juices as food because we are not chewing them. When you eat and chew your food, your brain ends up getting a signal that you are full and then sends it to your stomach which helps it to stay fuller longer. If you are just drinking your food, your brain never receives that signal and then your belly will send a signal back to your brain saying, “Hey, what’s up? I’m still hungry!” Get it? SO… add a little crunch to your smoothie and make sure you chew it. You’ll feel more nourished next time- TRY IT!

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*(That’s not a smoothie above, it’s juice, but same applies to those green juices!)

Happy blending!! 0:) … and chewing!

My Apologies for the Delay…

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Hi again! I know it’s been a while since my last post and I apologize. Life got a bit crazy and I’ve been trying to get back to the hustle and grind. Plus it’s the Holidays right now, and I think we all know how stressful they can be 😉 But life works in mysterious ways and I think that break ended up working out for the better…

In case you’re just jumping into my blog now, here’s a little recap: I’ve always been a hustler. Even back during my high school and college days, I took my studies very seriously and stressed myself out trying to be “perfect” at every obstacle I tackled- including the extracurriculars of cheerleading, sorority philanthropy,  my friendships, being the “perfect girlfriend” and the list goes on. After graduating magna cum laude, the inheritance of my Dad’s workaholic tendencies went into full swing while working at Burson-Marsteller’s PR Firm in New York City. (My Mom always tells me I’m like my father and I guess I’m starting to see it now. Ha!) Anyways, I worked long hours for little pay or adulation and wasn’t happy. So I quit, moved out to LA and fulfilled my creative side with my acting career. But I still didn’t understand balance. I worked myself to the bone partaking in networking, classes, workshops, writing and creating my own projects, and doing everything and anything to become the “best actor I could possibly be”… all while still trying to pay my bills cocktailing and somewhat attempting to balance a social life. (Ha! If you could call it a social life.)

Fast forward to after I had my surgery with Dr. Thomas Errico at NYU Langone’s Hospital in NYC, I healed very quickly 🙂 I think it’s because I’ve always been pretty active. I maintain a healthy lifestyle and work out as often as I can, which definitely couldn’t hurt, and I believe helped me bounce back more quickly. (I should point out that I’m writing this post four months post-op and I feel AMAAAAZING! Which is why I decided to jump back into the life grind.) Over the past few weeks I signed with CESD’s commercial department in New York City (which is also a bi-coastal talent agency), wrote and shot my first sketch since my surgery, modeled in three photo shoots (which I will admit were not the easiest, but I survived 0:) and the pictures turned out pretty good too!), self-submitted and went on several auditions through my agency, started voice lessons, visited family and friends in LA, began longer hours with my side job doing the marketing and PR for my Dad’s manufacturing company AND dove back into my social life. I became constantly on the go and suddenly forgot all about how I got into this whole mess… until my trip back to LA.

That LA trip was another one of the best things I have done for myself. (The other is having the surgery.) Since I moved back to the east coast in March to tackle my health dilemnas, attain the much needed support of my family and recharge the batteries, I constantly told myself that I can always go back to LA when I’m ready. So I went back for a visit, and what an enlightening experience that was! At first it felt so nostalgic driving around town and knowing all of the roads to turn down. Which made me feel sad and confused and so many different feelings. It was a VERY emotional trip! I spent almost six years of my life out there and I loved the weather, the atmosphere, the trendy, healthy restaurants, juice and coffee shops, yoga studios, the amazing acting classes that always pushed me to my limits and helped me to get to know myself more, not only as an actor, but as a person… the bonds that I made with my friends, teachers, co-workers and mentors… I had a whole other life there that I left behind. But at the end of the trip, it became clear to me that it was time for me to move on with the next chapter of my life. I was holding on to the familiarity of it all, and the universe was pushing me in a whole new, different direction. I’m thankful for my time spent there and the relationships I made (which I hope will continue to flourish and keep in contact with). It made me who I am today and it suddenly made me so incredibly proud of this person I have become 0:)

When I started feeling better, I threw myself back into life for two reasons… one being that I felt better and the other being that I felt like people around me were judging me. Judging me for being 30 and living at home with my parents. Judging me for still wanting to pursue my acting career even though I left LA. Judging me for still not having a boyfriend. And I felt the need to “fix” all that and prove them wrong. But there is nothing I need to prove. What I needed to do was to take a solid look at my life over the past year… I was a MESS when I first moved back here last March. I was suffering from chronic neck and thoracic back pain, shooting and numbing pains down my arms, extreme headaches, extreme fatigue, herniated discs in my C-Spine, a searing in my spinal chord, depression, hormone issues, digestive issues, and honestly the list goes on. I met with several doctors on the east coast (both holistic and regular practicing) and crossed all my T’s and dotted all my I’s before diving into surgery. Then I had my T2-T12 fused. If you think about it, they basically went in and manuevered the positioning of my spine. And then my body that had been that way for THIRTY YEARS had to get used to it. And now, four months later, I’m sitting here typing up a blog and was previously feeling down in the dumps about how my life is only slightly moving forward. Like, am I insane?!? I know I’m hard on myself but come ON! I gotta give myself some credit here! Just last month, I met with Dr. Errico for my follow-up and he told me that I could start working out ON MY OWN! No physical therapy necessary. No joke. That’s how well I am healing.

So for those of you that are reading this because you are thinking of having the surgery, I reiterate, THIS is the best thing I have ever done. (And my LA trip, as stated previously, made me realize that 😉 ) I’m sure you’ve done your research and have picked an awesome surgeon, but if not and you are in the Northeast, Dr. Errico is practically the grandfather of the surgery and really is just amazing. And such a nice guy too 🙂 I highly recommend him!

So I wanted to write this because one, I took such a long lapse in time between my other posts and two, because it’s the end of the year and I wanted to reflect on how far I have come in less than a year’s time. (Also, the lapse should be an example to those looking into the surgery that yes, you have to put your life on hold for a little bit, but it won’t be forever.) And honestly, I know now that I’m pretty badass 😉 but I couldn’t have done any of this without my amazing family. And all of my friends that were there for me. And the amazing nurses, doctors, surgeons, anesthesiologists and all types of healthcare professionals that helped me along my journey to better health. Thanks everyone for being the shoulders I had to cry on when I was depressed or in pain or scared and for making me laugh and see the light on the other side of the tunnel. It feels so great to be standing in that light now and I cannot wait to see what lies ahead for me. But for now, I’m concentrating on the present and reflecting on how this has really been a life-changing year for me and I owe a lot of it to all of you!

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Merry Christmas everyone! And cheers to a happy and blissful 2016 to everyone out there 0:)

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Exes and Oh’s!!! <3

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Me in August 2015 during my stay in the hospital. These pictures were taken on one of the last of the six days I spent at NYU Langone and I definitely wasn’t feeling my best… but as you can see, I wasn’t at my worst either 😉

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Three months later I was back to work… On a photo shoot that pushed me, BEAUTIFULLY, outside of my comfort zone. Surgery has enabled me to live life more fully and tackle the small things in life.

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I asked the photographer to take a picture of my scar for me. He seemed hesitant at first, but I didn’t back down. I explained that it was something I wanted to have for myself. I think of my scar as such a beautiful imperfection; a battle wound that I wear proudly.

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” – Khalil Gibran

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