twenty five carrie bradshaw quotes to get you through your week

lifestyle, new york

If you only get one great love, New York might just be mine.

-Carrie Bradshaw

It’s no surprise that as a twenty-something dreamer meandering the streets of Manhattan, one of my spirit animals is Carrie Bradshaw.  Her seemingly fictitious world accurately mirrors the reality we face as New Yorkers and confronts questions we didn’t know we had until we graduated from our adolescence and moved to the Big Apple.

The women she spends her life commiserating with represent many of our own friends we get to navigate through love, loss, and the pressure to fulfill societal standards with.  Yet despite the fact that they didn’t survive their dating days during the digital age of Tinder, Instagram and the social media garbage we begrudgingly swipe though today; these women still managed to experience many of the timeless struggles we inevitably face today.

As I recently re-binged the series (it’s available to stream on Amazon Prime — you’re welcome), I found Carrie’s words, lessons, and struggles hitting me differently than they have before.  Maybe because I’m getting older?  Wiser?  More cynical?  Regardless, I began writing down her questions, conclusions, and witty quips to share with the rest of my world; because I feel like the seemingly benign and “melodramatic” internal questioning we’re all afraid to own deserves to be met with a little reassurance that we’re not always alone in our thoughts.  Here are some of my favorite take-away moments, questions, and lessons penned by Carrie Bradshaw to get you through your week, your year, or your life when you’re in need of a little guidance, commiseration, or perspective.

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Carrie repeatedly revisits self-love throughout the series, specifically within relationships; on a constant quest for a healthy life balanced with love for herself, her friends, her partner…and her addiction to shoes. But how do we ever truly know if and when we’re balanced? As we bravely tiptoe along the tightrope of life, carrying our relationships in one arm, and our self-love in the other, will putting too much weight on one end throw us off balance and eventually be our downfall? To that effect, if leaning too much into our self-love starts to evolve into something unhealthy, is that just as detrimental to our balance as leaning on others to serve as the needle in our barometer for happiness?

I got to thinking about Narcissus – a man so consumed with his own image, he drowned in it.  Did he have no best friends to mirror back a healthy review of himself?  And why is it that we can see our friends perfectly, but when it comes to ourselves, no matter how hard we look, do we ever see ourselves clearly?

I often wonder what Carrie would have to say about the modern-day selfie; healthy or harmful? Brave or vain?

Is it possible to draw a clear line between confidence and narcissism on our own?  Or will we ever be able to impartially evaluate ourselves without the guidance and insight from those around us? And what about those who can’t seem to muster up any bit of self-confidence at all?  Can they only see themselves in the reviews that others give them?  At the end of the day, is the ability to accumulate compliments for ourselves and owning the best parts of us a blessing or a curse?

To that end, Carrie also weighs-in heavily on our inevitable self-reflection through the eyes of those around us.  We can feel so great about ourselves one moment, then defeated the next when someone else doesn’t see exactly what we do; which can quickly generate a laundry list of reasons to doubt our self-love.

Why is it that we only seem to believe the negative things people say about us?  No matter how much evidence there is to the contrary — a neighbor, a face, an ex-boyfriend can cancel out everything we thought was once true.  Odd, but when it comes to life and love, why do we believe our worst reviews?
Is it that innate fear of becoming narcissistic? Are we trying so desperately to keep ourselves in check that we would rather focus on the qualities we must improve than the ones we should savor? And who’s to say we should change at all when someone else’s perspective on us doesn’t quite mesh well with our own?
I realized that the critic I was most afraid of was me.  The truth is, at any given moment, someone, somewhere could be making a face about you.  But it’s the reviews you give yourself that matter.
While conquering the separation between our own opinions and others’ is easier said than done, the phrase “you are your own worst critic” holds more truth than we may want to admit.    At some point, even if our reflection gets blurred, the best we can do for our own clarity is to carry ourselves through each day with a little bit of grace and, in turn, remind those around us to love themselves and eliminate the idea that self-love must always translate to being self-absorbed.  For how we love ourselves will inevitably set the tone for how we love those around us.
I got to thinking about relationships.  There are those that open you up to something new and exotic.  Those that are old and familiar.  Those that bring up lots of questions.  The that bring you somewhere unexpected.  Those that bring you far from where you started.  And those that bring you back.  But the most exciting, challenging, and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. 

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Because our self-love informs so much of the love we give to others, it inevitably becomes the precursor to a healthy relationship with, not only romantic partners (more on that later), but our friends.

Friendships don’t magically last 40 years. You have to invest in them. It’s like your savings: You don’t expect to wake up one day when you’re old and find a big bucket of money waiting there.

I recently had a long conversation with my mother about this generation of millennials and their tendencies towards friendships.  We’re all walking around in the modern world of social media, where everything is at our fingertips.  Subsequently, we’re always looking for the next best thing because it’s at our fingertips.  When the world is immediately at our disposal, we start to become flaky — waiting until the day-of to make plans in case something better comes along, pulling out our phone in the middle of a face-to-face conversation, or simply not responding to a message and pretending we didn’t get it in the first place.
Is it possible to minimize the investments we make on our social media pages and start devoting more of the same into our friendships?  Though investing in ourselves is equally as important, if we put half the energy we throw at our smartphones into our relationships, at the end of the day, isn’ that a better bang for your buck?  Give a call instead of a text.  Better yet, use the twenty-first century to your advantage and FaceTime your long-distance friends.  Write a card instead of sending a text.  A little more intimate communication can go a much longer way.

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In a town where everyone’s dying to couple up, sometimes there’s nothing better than being out of a relationship.  You have time to do your laundry, freedom to play your favorite bad music really loudly.  But the best part about being out of a relationship; plenty of time to catch up with your friends.  
So let’s talk about being single, because it’s just as important as the open discussion about our relationships with others and obviously goes hand-in-hand with self-love.
Is single life in New York such a constant flurry of fun and friends that settling down immediately fills us with the urge to shake things up again?  And why does becoming part of a couple imply settling down?  
To be in a couple, do you have to put your single self on a shelf?
I think we can all admit to adapting to certain tendencies when we’re in a relationship that we wouldn’t have otherwise; I know I certainly have.  So let’s say you’ve finally taken your self-love off the shelf and you’ve ended a relationship with someone because it wasn’t right for you anymore.  The relief that accompanies coming back into your single self can feel so massively exhilarating that you wonder how you lasted so long without that feeling.  But when the relief starts to fade, how do you separate your self-worth from a relationship where your self-love started to become non-existent?
Relationships, no matter how good, are inevitably a series of compromises.  But how much of ourselves should we be willing to sacrifice for the other person before we stop being ourselves?  In a relationship, when does the art of compromise becoming compromising?
Do we chalk it up to experience?  Is it better to view the loss of a relationship as a blessing rather than a curse? Or have we put such a premium on companionship that the pain of a break up clouds our ability to prioritize self-love, leaving us feeling like less of who we are as we walk away?
People say everything happens for a reason.  These people are usually women.  And these women are usually sorting through a break up.  It seems that men can get out a relationships without even a goodbye.  But apparently women either have to get married or learn something.  Why are we in such a rush to move from confused to Confucius?  Do we search for lessons to lessen the pain?
Abso-fuckin-lutely.  If you’re anything like me, you’re always putting your trust into the universe through the good, the bad, the uncomfortable, and the joyous.  Every move we make is a stone in the road towards our future.  So at some point, we have to trust that when the moment and person are right, we won’t be adjusting who we are at our core to accommodate the relationship .  And so much of knowing what is right comes from being secure enough with ourselves to say “hell yes” or “hello no” to certain people and what they have to offer us.  That all starts and ends with the love we have for ourselves.

*      *      *      *      *  

I realized I had just entered an interesting chapter of my life.  I had outgrown the boys of my past and not quite grown into the men of my future.
Can you get to a future if your past is present?
I spent most of this past year reflecting on this concept a lot.  Especially when you move to a city as wild and wondrous as New York, you find yourself caught between letting go of certain parts of your life and hanging onto what you think should remain.  It’s a balancing act, much like that of our self-love and relationships — we find ourselves constantly torn between what we know and what we don’t.  Moving to New York will not only change your life, it will change everything you thought you knew about yourself before you arrived.
Every day you’re met with new faces.  Those you pass on the street, the cashier who rings you out at the grocery store, or even a new co-worker.  The connections you make in New York will be boundless and serendipitous. Subsequently, they’ll sometimes lead you to outgrow the relationships of your past or present.  Isn’t that a major part of growing up?  Looking back on what you thought was right for you at the time and, in retrospect, realizing why it wasn’t?
Some love stories aren’t epic novels – some are short stories.  
But that doesn’t make them any less filled with love.
Again, New York will change everything you thought you knew about yourself before you arrived and, without even realizing it, you will outgrow your past as you patiently grow into those who belong in your future.  It’s not a bad thing, it’s just one of the most exhilaratingly terrifying and uncomfortable concepts of, not only living in New York, but growing out of our adolescence.
One of the great things about living in New York City is that you don’t have to sugar-coat your feelings.  But, have New York women settled for a sugar-free existence as well?  We accept Tasty-D-Lite instead of real ice cream, emails instead of love songs, jokes instead of poetry.  It’s no wonder that when faced with the real thing, we can’t stomach it.  Is it something we can learn to digest, or have we become romance-intolerant?
Ever since Woody Allen described waving to Mia Farrow across the park, single men in Manhattan yearn for that kind of separate togetherness.  I felt like the last dinosaur.  Was I the one that needed to adapt?  Was my view of a relationship extinct?  I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  This is a city where gay men are so out, they’re in.  Where women are so chronically single, ovaries may be the next vestigial organ.  We can have anything delivered at any hour, we can have our dogs walked, our clothes cleaned, our food cooked.  Who needs a husband when you have a doorman?  
Are New Yorkers evolving past relationships?
Ironically, despite the hundreds of people you come into contact with every day, it can be really difficult to cultivate special connections with people in New York.  When the pool is bigger, finding your “people” becomes harder.  Furthermore, when it comes to romantic relationships, especially in the digital age of dating apps, settling down in this city is starting to become obscure.  Our generation wants the best of both worlds — we want our freedom, but we still want someone waiting for us when we come home each night.  But what happens when our accessibility to anything, at any hour, any day of the week starts interfering with our ability to spy the rarities?
Since birth, modern women have been told we can be anything we want; be an astronaut, the head of an internet company, a stay-at-home mom.  There aren’t any rules anymore the choices are endless, and apparently they can all be delivered right to your door.  But is it possible that we’ve gotten so spoiled by choices that we’ve become unable to make one?  That a part of us knows that once you choose something – one man, one great apartment, one amazing job – another option goes away.   Are we a generation of women who can’t choose just one from column A?  Can we have it all?
The millennial generation especially has morphed into a sea of individuals hesitant to commit.  Is Carrie right?  Can we really have it all, and, if we seemingly do, will we ever be satisfied?  Or are we really so commitment-phobic that we’re passing up and passing by opportunities, jobs, or people who would otherwise bring us joy if we weren’t so scared that we would be missing out on something or someone else?
In a city of great expectations, is it time to settle for what you can get?
So, along with sifting through what is meant for us or not, comes the tricky reality of settling — all the way from mediocre love to unfulfilling jobs to crappy cups of coffee.  They say “when you know, you know,” right?  Trust me, when it’s a crappy cup of coffee, you know.  But what about matters of the heart?  How do we know when something is right for the moment or right for a lifetime?  Sometimes, even when every neon sign is pointing to why something is wrong, we look for reasons to make it right; inadvertently settling under the fear that we won’t find anything else.  We get so caught up in waiting for another person to put a smile on our face that we grasp at any attention, lust, or affection we can get if it makes us feel good…enough.
In matters of love, how do you know when it’s right?  Sometimes the question is, how do you know when it’s not right?
I couldn’t help but wonder, has fear of being alone suddenly raised the bar on faking?  Are we faking more than orgasms?  Are we faking entire relationships?  
Is it better to fake it, than be alone?
The answer to her rhetorical question is an obvious and resounding “no,” but what’s worse is that not everyone shares the same sentiment.  Too often are we witness to relationships that only exist to ease the fear of being alone.  But why is being single deemed worse than being in a dead-end relationship?  Sure, we all love companionship, but what kind of damage is that doing to our individuality by being with someone who’s totally wrong for us?
In New York, they say you’re always looking for a job, a boyfriend, or an apartment.  So let’s say you have two out of three, and they’re fabulous.  Why do we let the one thing we don’t have affect all the other things we do have?  Why does one minus a plus one feel like it adds up to zero?
 
I wondered if “should” was another disease plaguing women.  Did we want babies and perfect honeymoons?  Or did we think we should have babies and perfect honeymoons.  How do we separate what we could do, from what we should do?  And here’s an alarming thought – it’s not just peer pressure.  It seems to be coming from within.  Why are we should-ing all over ourselves?
Societal standards have undoubtedly shaped the reality of what we think we want out of life. I can wholeheartedly admit to getting caught up in the minimization of what I do have in comparison to what I think I should have.  Especially as we cross into our mid-to-late twenties and beyond, does the check-list of what we “should” have at a certain age begin to stifle not only our self-love but our accomplishments?
Our own joy truly becomes stricken by the comparison we face with social media serving as an all-access pass to what others in our age bracket have.  But we must remember that those pictures of their lives are only painted with the colors they want us to see.  We have complete control over what we put out on the internet; most of it being the “sunshine and rainbows” parts of our lives.
There is going to be rain — all the way from sun showers to thunderstorms to hail falling from our skies.  So it’s pointless to compare ourselves to the masses; for we may never see their sadness or their turmoil even if it inevitably exists behind the selfies.  But if we stop dampening our successes to accommodate what we think we should have, we’ll be too distracted by our own joy to seize it by “should-ing” all over ourselves.

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Maybe our mistakes are what make our fate.  Without them, what would shape our lives?  Perhaps if we never veered off course, we would never fall in love, or have babies, or be who we are.  
Eventually all the pieces fall into place…until then, laugh at the confusion, live for the moment, and know that everything happens for a reason.
There is no rule book for navigating through life and love in New York.  I just wrote an entire blog post about lessons I think I’ve learned and still feel lost in this city most days.  I’ve lived in Manhattan for just over four years and I still expect to be piecing together life lessons and watching re-runs of Sex and the City when I’ve lived here for ten or twelve or forty years.
Even the wisest of the wise can’t tell us what to do or what’s right for us, but they can sure as hell share their knowledge, their stories, and their hearts with us so we can only hope to turn out half as cultured and kind as they are.

Sometimes we need to stop analyzing the past, stop planning the future, stop figuring out precisely how we feel, stop deciding exactly what we want, and just see what happens.

So just love, make mistakes, and have wonderful times.  But never second-guess who you are, where you have been, and, most importantly, where it is you are going.

the year of patiently evolving

lifestyle, personal

As the air of a new year is saturated with fresh resolutions, I’ve been dwelling a lot on what I want to manifest itself the most in 2018.  I deemed this past year “The Year of Travel,” and, without really trying, it came to fruition (see The Year of Travel). Naturally, I want this year to manifest something truly special in the same way that 2017 did.

I’ve been racking my brain trying to come up with an appropriate title; torn between “The Year of Practicing Patience” and “The Year of Total Transformation.”  Both are strong contenders to manifest — I am one of the most impatient people alive and could use as many Transformation Tuesdays as a girl can get.  But isn’t every year transformative?  Inevitably, something about us changes over the course of these 365 days and we leave the year a bit different than we were when it first arrived.

I shared this struggle yesterday afternoon with my dear friend Hailei, who coined concept of naming her year, as we sipped on macadamia milk lattes together in a little midtown coffeeshop.  I knew her advice would bring perspective and clarity.  She pondered on my two options for a moment, then offered up a compromise:

The Year of Patiently Evolving.

If you’re reading this, you should know by now that this blog has been entitled “Patiently Evolving” since I created it ten months ago.  Hailei suggested this title without even realizing that.  That’s how I knew that it was right.

She compared it to being a caterpillar in a cocoon, waiting patiently as it grows for the right moment to break out and say, “Hey world, I’m a butterfly now, and it was so worth the time I spent in that damn cocoon!”

If there was any year to begin practicing patience with my journey, it’s this one.  I’m not only stepping into a new year, but a new world: My job has just come to an end, my EMC contract is about to as well — I’m looking into an abyss.  There will be many moments of doubt, anxiety, fear, sacrifice, and, most importantly, change.  Now is the time to handle myself with care.  Now is the time to embrace patiently evolving.

Here’s to hoping that by December 31st, I feel kind of like a butterfly.

order now, ask later

lifestyle

This morning, while running errands, I made my daily pitstop to The Chipped Cup, a sweet little uptown coffeeshop on Broadway at 149th that takes all my money and supplements my caffeine addiction (I love them).  I ordered my usual, and as the barista called out my drink at the bar, a man standing in line to order goes, “What is that?  I want that!”  The barista reiterated my order to him (a large, iced, almond milk latte) and he confirmed he definitely wanted that.

This guy had absolutely no idea what was in my drink.  When it came time for him to actually commit to the drink, he started changing his mind.  “Oh, not almond milk, I want regular milk.  Oh, wait, is there espresso in that?  What does that mean?  Can I get the almond in there with regular milk?”

So, what you’re saying, sir, is that you looked at the drink and wanted it, but you had absolutely no idea what the drink actually was? Clearly this man might be a little slow on the uptake (and probably shouldn’t be in a coffeeshop), but here’s a thought: Why are we so quick to look at things and instantly commit to them without knowing what’s inside?

I feel, especially in this day in age, we impulsively commit to something we see without asking questions first.  Whether it’s clothing, jobs, relationships — we’ll order it first and ask questions later.

So what happens if you realize you don’t want it anymore?  This man couldn’t return the coffee for a refund — they simply just made him another variation of what he wanted (free of charge, of course, because Chipped Cup is magic).  But in the long run, who does that hurt?  Not this customer, because there are no consequences for his error in judgment.  It hurts the business.

And what about the things we commit to that don’t come with gift receipts?  Apartments, relationships, jobs.  You can quit on all of these things, and the landlords will find new tenants, your exes will find new significant others, and the company can hire someone else; but isn’t that more trouble than it’s worth?

As the questions first, order it when you know it’s what you want.

 

The Year of Travel

lifestyle, Travel

Each year on January 1st, we list off a myriad of resolutions and positive promises to ourselves that will hopefully manifest change in our lives. And whether they stick or they don’t, twelve months later, we reset and do it all over again.

I rang in 2017 with a dear friend of mine, Hailei Call, who begins each year by proclaiming what she hopes it will be with one title: “The Year of…”  It’s much broader than a checklist of endeavors we set out to accomplish or the number of times we vow to visit the gym in a week.  The concept of naming your upcoming year simply promotes what you hope will manifest itself the most, not necessarily how you’ll get there.

At the start of this calendar year, I predicted this would be The Year of Travel.  The travel didn’t need to be anywhere exotic or distant, I just wanted to explore places outside of Manhattan; even if they were in states I’d been to over and over again.  I spent a solid part of this year in a long-distance relationship that had me on many midnight trains to, from, and through my home state of Connecticut.  I also spent most of this year helping my best friend plan her wedding, which, in turn, brought about planning-travel, shower-travel, bachelorette-travel, and wedding-travel to various places.  I was brought to Long Island for family holidays, baby showers, and alike.  And I’m rounding out the year on my first regional contract at White Plains Performing Arts Center where I’ll travel for rehearsals and performances.

This year, for many reasons, was my year of travel without even trying.  I’ve been lucky enough to share those adventures surrounded by lovely people in lovely places.  Here are some of my favorites to share with you.

O   R    L   A   N   D   O ,    F   L 

One of my closest pals plays Nemo in Finding Nemo: The Musical at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  I started my Year of Travel on the second week of January flying down to see her for a couple days.  Despite the fact that I had been there before, being in Disney World as an adult was still just as fun as it was twelve years ago (except for the fact that Epcot wasn’t nearly as exciting when I was thirteen and couldn’t drink around the world).  I’m looking forward to kicking off 2018 the same way!

B  O  S  T  O  N ,   M  A  S  S .

Three friends and I took an amazing weekend trip to Boston together in April.  I fell madly in love (see BeanTown) and know in my soul that something will take me there someday to live for a moment or two.  I was lucky enough hit Boston twice this year and go to my first Red Sox Game at Fenway in June.

S  A  R  A  T  O  G  A    S  P  R  I  N  G  S ,   N  Y

I’ve been visiting Saratoga Springs almost every summer since I was born.  I’ve missed a couple years here and there since moving to NYC, but it’s a place that lives in a very special corner of my heart, and I was lucky to escape there for a couple days over the summer.  My mother has been going every year for the last 40 years. FORTY YEARS. It’s such a sweet and special town. Stewart’s Ice Cream: No words. It is the best.

P  O  R  T  S  M  O  U  T  H ,   N  H

Along the way to an overnight getaway in Ogunquit, Maine, we stopped in the sweet little town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Honestly, we wanted to stay and nix the next half hour of driving! It was so beautiful — a quainter version of Boston. Our visit was short but so worth the pit stop. Portsmouth Brewery is a must-go!

O  G  U  N  Q  U  I  T  ,  M  A  I  N  E

Ogunquit was a great end-of-Summer escape.  It was such a wonderful little town, filled with cute shops and gorgeous views.  I tried lobster for the first time and we spontaneously went kayaking.  It was totally worth the drive!

W  I  L  D  W  O  O  D  ,   N  J

My bride-to-be’s bachelorette party was in Wildwood, New Jersey.  It was a perfectly inexpensive weekend getaway.  We landed an amazing Air BNB, located near a ton of restaurants on the water, and only a short walk to the boardwalk.  We rode the go-karts, Escaped The Room, and made breakfast each morning equipped with Costco bagels and lots n’ lots of mimosas.

N  E  W     W  I  N  D  S  O  R  ,   N  Y

I can’t say New Windsor, New York is the most exciting destination ever; but it’s special for the simple fact that I got to watch my best friend get married there.  It was about an hour west of where we grew up together in Connecticut, so it was definitely familiar, but still a new adventure.  The venue (Anthony’s Pier 9) was beautiful, and the rehearsal dinner was held at Newburgh Brewing Company; which is so charming and has a stunning view of the river, especially in the Autumn!

P  R  O  V  I  D  E  N  C  E  ,   R  I

Though it was only a glimpse, I took a spontaneous road trip to visit my best gal who recently relocated to Providence, Rhode Island to get her MFA at Brown (she is a rock star).  The journey was short but sweet — we got brunch at The Grange Providence, an adorable little restaurant down the street from her apartment that serves brunch all day.  Yes, all day, every day.  While we didn’t explore much, the road trip itself was a new adventure, and it was undoubtedly the first of many more visits to come!

tj maxx, you should go

lifestyle

So anyone who knows me is well-aware — I am undoubtedly a Maxxinista. Most of my wardrobe, from my dresses, to my shoes, down to my underwear, is from one of the TJX stores.

Well, last week, I had the most outrageous experience with a $10 shirt that I purchased from the 57th Street TJMaxx in Manhattan earlier last month. It was a simple, pink, cotton shirt that was stylish without breaking the bank (as most items at TJMaxx are) manufactured by a brand named Lavender Field.

By the time I reached work at noon on Saturday, this shirt had stained everything I was wearing including my bra, my new purse, my Levi jeans and even my skin.


It was WILD. So I did what any millennial would, and I tweeted about it — pictures and all.

I was met in the days following with flawless customer service. Theresa, Andre, and Kevin were so incredibly helpful, kind, and generous with my situation. Since, of course, every item that was damaged came from their store, I was able to go in to the 57th street location in Manhattan and get store credit for, not just the culprit shirt itself, but every single item that it dyed (except my skin, cause they don’t sell that there).

I just had to write about this. The TJX corporation has always been one of my faves and it was so comforting to know how highly they prioritize customer satisfaction. They will forever have my business because their customer service is MAGICAL.

sweet pot noodles

lifestyle

After deciding to incorporate the Whole30 guidelines into my lifestyle rather than practicing only on a month-to-month basis, I’ve gotten incredibly crafty when it comes to my meals.  One of my absolute favorite things to make: sweet potato noodles.

You can make them yourself, or buy them in store (my boyfriend and I found them recently at Big Y Market in Connecticut for $4.99).  I bought a really inexpensive spiralizer on Amazon, which makes it incredibly easy to make veggie noodles of any kind at home if you don’t want to buy the precut ones.

Below is a real yummy recipe I made at home for next to nothing:

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S W E E T  P O T A T O  N O O D L E S

2 narrow sweet potatoes – spiralized

2 TSP Black Pepper

1 TSP Cayenne Pepper

1 TSP Salt

2 TBSP Refined Coconut Oil

Sauté spiralized sweet potato noodles and coconut oil in a medium-sized frying pan on medium heat until soft.  Gradually add spices while the noodles cook.

R O A S T E D  B R O C C O L I

1 small head of broccoli

1 TSP Black Pepper

2 TSP Lemon Pepper

1 TBSP Melted Coconut Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread out chopped broccoli on a baking sheet and drizzle with melted coconut oil.  Sprinkle pepper and lemon pepper evenly over the broccoli.  Bake for 12 minutes, or until slightly crispy.

G U A C A M O L E

1 Avocado

5 Grape Tomatoes

1 Scallion Stalk

1/2 Lime

1 TSP Cayenne Pepper

1 TSP Black Pepper

Peel and slice avocado and mash in a bowl.  Dice grape tomatoes and scallions and add to avocado.  Squeeze “half a lime” juice into the bowl and add 2 TSP of pepper.  Stir until all blended to your liking.

Outline your plate with the sweet potato noodles, creating a ring around the edge.  Then take the broccoli and do the same on the interior of the sweet potato noodles, leaving a small circle in the center.  Fill the center with the guacamole and viola!

whole30

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A few days ago, I posted about a really amazing breakfast bowl recipe I concocted on a whim during the final days of my first Whole30 challenge.  Well that challenge ends today!  For anybody who may be unfamiliar, the Whole30 challenges you to eliminate all heavily processed food for thirty days.  This includes all grains (bread, rice, etc.), dairy products (milk, cheese – ugh.), legumes (peanuts, corn, beans), unnatural added sugars, many saturated oils, and alcohol (yup, you read that correctly).  It’s main purpose is to train your body to “eat clean” for thirty days, then incorporate foods you used to eat back into your diet to see what affects you after you’ve reset.

I have struggled with my eating habits since I was thirteen years old and noticed my metabolism wasn’t as rapid as a prepubescent.  I tried the crash diets in high school, college, and from time to time since moving to the city.  Especially being exposed to many different routines in Manhattan, it’s easy to get wrapped up in a quick-fix solution.  But the Whole30 Challenge is no quick-fix, it’s a lifestyle change.

My biggest reservation about challenging myself was the fear that my self-control would get the better of me.  Luckily, I had already made many changes over the past three years in my diet – I’ve spent months going gluten-free, switched to almond milk in my lattes, and spent a great deal cooking with coconut oil.  My struggle over the past twenty-seven days has been to avoid drinking alcohol.  Not because I’m an alcoholic but, let’s face it, amongst the top ten phrases out of New Yorker’s mouths is, “Hey, wanna grab a drink?”

Today I’m sharing with you the things that helped me get through these past thirty days unscathed and without a cheat day to be had:

Sweet Potatoes

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Excuse my language, but I fucking love sweet potatoes.  And guess what?  You can have as many as you damn well please on the Whole30.  You wanna bake a potato and put some salt and pepper on it?  You wanna mash em up and pretend like you’re eating a Thanksgiving dinner? You wanna make yourself some sweet potato fries at home? Live. Your. Life (but use coconut oil…).  Truthfully, the Whole30 allows you to eat white potatoes in moderation, but sweet potatoes are just straight up better for you.

Almond Butter

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This stuff saved me from going out of my mind during this challenge.  When I moved her in 2014, I became a crunchy peanut butter girl (Smuckers’ Natural PB if we’re getting specific).  I put peanut butter on everything, so when Whole30 told me I couldn’t eat peanuts (they’re a legume, not a nut), I didn’t know what I was going to do.  Justin’s Classic Almond Butter is a perfect choice – there’s no added sugar, the ingredients consist of only Palm Oil and Almonds.  Some will argue that the 2g of sugar on the nutrition label violate the Whole30 sugar intake.  They’re wrong.  The nutrition label and the ingredients are two very different entities.  If added sugars are in your ingredients, it’s off-limits.  If no sugar is added but natural sugars appear on your nutrition label, you’re safe.

Smoothies & Acai Bowls

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While the Whole30 strongly urges you to avoid substitutions, we all have a sweet tooth we need to appease.  Through the moments of wanting a milkshake or sorbet, I whipped out my Nutribullet at home and made this challenge drastically easier for myself.   I also found myself at Juice Generation daily (who am I kidding? I lived there before this challenge too).  As long as you know exactly what they’re putting in your smoothie, you’re in the clear.  Same goes for their acai bowls – I avoid the hemp granola garnish like the plague.  It tastes too sweet, and I don’t need it.  Acai bowls are also a lot of fun to make at home because you know what you’re putting into your smoothie, and ultimately, your body.  If I wanted to make the above recipe (which you can find here), I can be enjoying something sweet in minutes.

Avocado

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Do you love guacamole? Fabulous.  Have at it on this challenge.  Guacamole, if made correctly, is naturally gluten-free and vegan.  I personally like to use bell peppers and sweet potatoes as a substitute for chips and make my guacamole at home.  I found my recipe here on Official Whole30 Recipes Instagram.  I also added avocado to my smoothies for consistency, and pretty much topped all my meals off with it, because I have a healthy addiction to avocado.

Bareburger

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I wanted to include at least one “going-out” restaurant because making every single meal at home when you live in Manhattan is just not ideal.  The Whole30 creators understand that and have made adjustments to their rules to accommodate eating out.  My personal favorite is Bareburger.  These restaurants are scattered throughout all the boroughs of New York City and will easily accommodate your dietary restrictions.  They have many ingredients listed on their menu and pride themselves on being a very natural establishment.  My personal go-to is the turkey burger on a collard green wrap with spinach, mushrooms and guacamole.

Bottom line, when it comes to any challenge, you have to want to do it.  If you’re considering Whole30, you won’t complete it if you let your doubts or cravings drown out your desire to change your eating habits.  It’s only 30 days – it sounds like a lot, but it flies.  I know my relationship with food is very different than it was 30 days ago.  I am excited to move forward knowing how food affects my body, and furthermore, knowing that I was able to complete this challenge for myself, even when I thought I couldn’t.