My Fave Vegan Cheeses

My Favorite Vegan CheesesThe number one reason people tell me they could never be vegan is because they could never give up cheese. I get it! It took me months to give up milk and eggs, but literally years to give up cheese.

I’m not an expert on the science, but I do know there are ingredients in cheese that act as opiates, which are highly addictive. So basically, it’s not our fault we can’t kick the cheese habit! BUT! If you have a strong enough reason to give it up, going “cold turkey” is the only way to kick the addiction.

Here are the 2 reasons I wanted to give up cheese:

Health:

Cheese is highly inflammatory. As an endurance athlete, I create so much inflammation in my body already, I don’t need the added joint and muscle inflammation. To compete at a high level, I need to recovery quickly from each workout, and inflammation delays that recovery.

Animals:

I used to think dairy wasn’t cruel treatment of animals because I just figured “cows needed to be milked”. The more I learned about the dairy industry, the more I was repelled about the practices of most dairy farms, and didn’t want to contribute to the abuse of animals anymore.

Once you have decided you want to give up cheese, you are on your way. Unfortunately, it’s not easy! Fortunately it is easier for you NOW than it was for me 10 years ago!

WHY? Because non-dairy cheese subs are 1,000,000 times better than they were even a year ago!!! They are healthier, have much better consistency, and many even taste like cheese!

I have tried pretty much ALL non-dairy cheeses, here are my 3 faves…

Slices:

I am a grilled cheese fanatic! For my grilled cheese I need a cheese that melts well and tastes like “American”, “Cheddar”, or “Provolone”. Follow Your Heart brand slices have all 3. I love the flavors, consistency, and meltability of all their slices. These aren’t in most grocery stores, but are in most health food stores like Whole Foods and Sprouts.

Shreds:

For meals like pizza, lasagna, and enchiladas, I like to use shreds since I’m pretty lazy and don’t even own a shredder. My fave shrerdded “cheese” is So Delicious brand “Mozzarella” and “Cheddar Jack”. These melt easily, taste great, and are stringy and gooey like real cheese! These are newer and harder to find. The So Delicious website has a store locator for you. I found them at Whole Foods.

Blocks:

This was the biggie for me. For years during my quest to give up cheese, I was fine with the slices and shredded options, but couldn’t find a block with the flavor AND consistency that I loved about cheese. So every once in a while I caved and chowed a block of cheese.

Along came Follow Your Heart Blocks and I was FINALLY able to give up cheese 100%. I love the consistency (hardness) and flavor (mozzarella and provolone are my faves). I can cut up pieces to have on crackers or just unwrap and take a bite directly out of the block with 100% satisfaction! You can find these at any health food store and Follow Your Heart has a store locator on their website as well.

I hope these are helpful! It took me years to find cheese alternatives that were good enough to help me give up the real thing, but once I found these, the rest was history! I haven’t eaten cheese in 3 years and don’t miss it AT ALL!!!

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Enjoy your new “cheese”!!

See you soon!

Why I Love Native Foods Cafe

Why I Love Native Foods CafeWhen I was in Hawaii last year, I met a fellow vegan, who is also from Boulder, and we started talking about our favorite vegan restaurants in Boulder.

I told her that I loved Native Foods Café, which is a chain restaurant that mostly serves “fake” meat meals such as hamburgers, steak sandwiches, meatball subs, Rubens, chicken salads, and stuff like that.

She told me that she hated Native Foods because it’s just a bunch of fake meat and not a real vegan restaurant.

I completely disagree. And here’s why…

1. I love Native Foods because I can take anyone there with me whether they are vegan or not, and they will have a positive experience, a delicious meal eating plant-based food. This is really important to me because I am passionate about being vegan for the animals, the environment, and my health, and I want to share and spread that message will all the peeps I love in my life.

2. I would love as many people as possible out there to be eating more plants and less animals. I think the world would be a more compassionate peaceful place if more people ate more plants.

3. The majority of people who are giving up meat and dairy are not ready to eat a dish like lentils and Bulger.

4. Most people already love nachos and mac and cheese. I feel like we are going to get more people to consider the plant-based lifestyle, when it easily fits in with their current lifestyle, believes, and way of living. And what’s already comfortable for them.

So are chicken wings made of tofu the healthiest vegan option? Probably not. But the average person would much rather eat vegan chicken wings than blocks of tofu mixed in a kale salad or something similar, which is what many vegan restaurants serve.

Plus, it’s always fun for me every once in a while to have a giant plate of nachos or a buffalo chicken salad with ranch or something fun that I’m not used to having or that I won’t make it home.

So I’m all for these “transitional vegan” restaurants such as Native Foods Café. I think they play an important role in introducing the plant-based vegan lifestyle to people who typically wouldn’t even consider eating this way.

What are your favorite vegan restaurants??

If you want support in your plant-powered lifestyle, join our community here…
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See you soon!

My Word For 2018: Trust

My Word For 2018: TrustEvery year I choose a word that will help guide me through the upcoming year. This year I chose “trust” as my word, or it chose me!

Last year I learned to be open to change, the unknown, and what was next for me. In the process I have become a more flexible and malleable human, which in my opinion is one of the great characteristics of success. I am learning to adapt to change and “go with the flow”, which is something I had never been good at in the past.

With my new found adaptability in life and comfortability with change, my next step is to trust what will come next. Trust that I am working toward where I will be going to next. Trust that the universe will provide for me. And trust that I am on the path I am meant to be on.

One of the things I have struggled with in the past is letting go of an outcome. In the past, I have typically only done actions and activities that move me toward an outcome I am sure of, or that I have more control over. It always felt good to be in charge of my life and create what I want, but it is also exhausting to constantly be pushing toward something. And devastating when all my hard work, time, and energy doesn’t end in the result I was hoping for.

In my year of trust, I am looking forward to letting go, learning to follow my intuition, listening to my body, heart, and soul, and seeing what becomes of me and my delicious life.

Part of trusting is knowing that everything happens for a reason and that it will all be ok in the end.

Just thinking about it makes me uncomfortable still, but I know with time and practice and patience and forgiveness when I screw up, it will soon be a part of who I am, like change and flexibility now are.

I encourage you to pick a word for YOUR 2018. Something that will guide you into the next phase of your life. A word that helps you become the best version of yourself. An idea or concept that will ultimately bring you peace and happiness and unconditional self-love.

And have the best 2018 EVER!!

I would love to know what your word is this year!

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See you soon!

Focus With Your Word of the Year

Focus On Your Word Of The YearEach year I pick a word that encompasses what I am working on in my life and want to accomplish in the following year. I don’t try hard to find a word, I wait for one to choose me. I reflect on the past year, think about the upcoming year, and then meditate on how I can be the best possible version of myself.

I always want to be taking baby steps toward my ideal life, so my word helps me stay focused and reminds me of my priorities.

Last year my word was SIMPLICITY. I spent time in 2013 getting rid of physical stuff when we got rid of everything and moved into the RV. I spent 2014 simplifying my businesses, debt, and finances. And then I spent 2016 working on my time management and making space in my life for the things that were most important to me.

In 2017, I wanted to simplify even further, working toward resolving some of my complex emotions and cleaning up my mental garbage I had been clinging to for too long. I wanted to create more space in my life, more systems to make my lifestyle goals work, and make a life I could feel at ease with.

I had no idea how this would all matriculate, only that I was craving more simplicity in my life.

Throughout the year, when I was feeling stressed or overwhelmed, I would remember my word and see what I could get rid of. Even when I was living pretty much out of my car, I would always find something to get rid of.

Sometimes it was material things, sometimes de-cluttering my lists, sometimes deleting files from my computer, and sometimes just saying “no” to opportunities, people, and activities, which isn’t always easy!!

By the end of the year, I had made room for whatever was next to come for me and my life. I enjoy seeing space on my calendar and like to over-plan the time each activity will take me during my day. It’s relieved stress, anxiety, and over-whelm which causes me to over-eat and under-sleep. So a total upward spiral!

Focusing on this one word helped me in all areas of my life throughout 2017. I still have some work to do (as always) and still would like to create more systems in my businesses and life to simplify even further, but I’m constantly a work in progress and I know it will come.

I’m excited to see what comes of my 2018 year of “trust”.

What is your word?

What is a word that encompasses not only what you are working toward in your life, but also what you want right now?

What would help give you peace of mind?

What would help you love yourself and your life more?

What would help fill what is missing from your life?

What is something you have always wanted but were afraid to go for?

If you haven’t put any thought into any of these questions, take some time over the next few days in silence or mediation or before you go to sleep at night or in your car before work when you have a few minutes to yourself, and consider picking a word for yourself for 2018.

I would love to hear your word for 2018.

Join and share in our community…

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Here’s to the best year EVER!

See you soon!

Time Management For Dummies

Time Management For DummiesIf you are like me, you have a hard time getting everything you want done in a day, week, month, year! In fact, it’s not even a “hard time” it’s more like IMPOSSIBLE!

I get frustrated because there is so much I want to do in my lifetime, and try as I might, I can’t seem to find a way to add hours to my 24 hour day. And unfortunately for me, my body needs tons of sleep to function properly, so giving up sleep to get more done is counter-productive for me. Boo!

Since I can’t find extra hours, I have learned a way to make the most of the time I do have, and I have developed a simple monthly process I use to fit in as much as I possibly can. Like anything, it takes practice to get this down, but after a couple months, this will be a quick, easy, painless, and mega beneficial process to help you make the most of the time you have.

Here’s what to do…

  1. Make a list all the goals or things you want to accomplish for the following month
  2. For each goal, list all the activities it will take to reach that goal
  3. Schedule first all the time sensitive activities into your calendar
  4. Schedule second all the highest priority activities into your calendar
  5. Fill in the remainder of your calendar with the other activities
  6. If you have way too many activities and not enough time, go back to your goals and rank them on importance
  7. Repeat until you can schedule all your activities into your calendar

If you still can’t fit everything in, you need to make some decisions about what is most important to you.

Unfortunately we all only have so much time and typically have way more things we want to add into our lives. Is there something you can take out that you don’t love? That isn’t serving you anymore?

PRACTICE! Like anything this takes practice! It may be months before you can actually get everything you want into your schedule!

Be patient and forgiving. You WILL mess up! It WILL be frustrating! It’s OK! Stick with the process and the results will come!

This is a great time of year to start working on this to make it a habit. I love when we have a new month AND a new year to start working toward creating our life instead of letting our life just “happen”.

Please reach out if you want help with this process. I have helped hundreds of people with this over the years.
We are all in this together! It’s not easy, but it’s worth it! email me!

See you soon!

Winter Fun For Triathletes

Winter Fun For TriathletesAs an triathlete, it’s important to have an “off-season”.

This is a time where you forgo your structured training for a period of time, get caught up on all the work, family, household, business, vacations, chores you half-assed during your season, and restore a little balance in your life.

Most triathletes can do this very well…for about a week! And then we want to go back to the scheduled, rigorous training we did all season. Which is NOT a good idea. Without taking time off, most athletes can get burned out, over train, or worse, injured.

In Colorado we can’t compete year round in triathlon without traveling to warmer, drier climates, so for most Coloradans, our off-season is the Winter months.

But don’t let Winter get you down! There are a ton of fun things we can do to give our minds and bodies a break while still challenging ourselves in our sport.

Winter Fun - Cycle CrossCyclocross:

Cyclocross is sport that is a cross between mountain biking, obstacle course racing, and cross-country running. The bike courses combine riding on pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills with obstacles that require the rider to dismount, carry the bike, and remount often.

Cyclocross is very hard and will help with sprinting, bike handling, and maxing out your heart rate. They do make cyclocross specific bikes, but as a beginner, you could use a mountain bike. I am actually trying this out for the first time this year and have my first race THIS weekend! YIKES!

Swim Meets:

Masters Swim Meets are a fun way to challenge yourself while becoming a better swimmer. Since you already swim as a triathlete, you don’t need to get any new equipment. Learning all 4 strokes will help your technique and feel for the water. Swimming in a Masters meet is low key and anyone can join.

You’ll find all levels from past Olympians to those who need to rest for a breath at each turn. And as an adult you can swim as short as a 50 yard race! It’s harder than it sounds!

Road Running Races:

In Colorado, there is a 5K pretty much every weekend throughout the year. You can also find several 10Ks and half marathons each month, as well as at least one marathon each month.

This is a great time to work on speed since your legs won’t be as tired from your bike miles you put on while triathlon training. If you want to move up to the next distance in triathlon, incorporating longer runs is a great off-season goal.

Strength Training, Core Work, Yoga, Meditation:

All the important components that make up a well-rounded athlete that we tend to minimize or skip all together during our season because let’s face it, we all only have 24 hours in a day!

Get back to the basics. Make these activities a habit now so that when you start adding back in your swim, bike, and run next season, you can continue to practice them. You may not be able to spend the same amount of time on them as you do during your off-season, but you can find ways to incorporate them in smaller increments throughout your training week. I am actually doing a yoga streak this month!

Plan Next Season:

This is my favorite off-season activities. Set goals, choose your races and prioritize them. Register for as many as you can and for the ones that aren’t open yet or you don’t have money for, put them on a list in order of importance with the registration opening date and price and put the list where you can see it daily. Post your goals and tell a trusted friend or two to keep you motivated throughout the winter.

Hope your Winter is super duper fun and you come back next season refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to ROCK!!!

Stay in touch!
www.FoodFitnessFinanceFun.com

If you want help planning your season, reach out! I LOVE PLANNING!

See you soon!
Brrrrrr!!!

Surviving the Holiday Feeding Frenzy

Surviving The Holiday Feeding FrenzyIt’s that time of year again when many of us throw our nutrition and exercise plans out the window!

And we all know the result…an extra 5 or 10 pounds and a major panic attack in January. For those of you under the age of 30, that New Year’s Resolution of yours will take care of things. For those of us over 40, it’s a little more complicated.

What to do? Here are some tips on enjoying good holiday food without packing on the pounds…

1. Practice mindful eating

One of the best things you can ever do for yourself is to learn how to eat mindfully. With roots in Buddhist teachings, mindful eating means paying close attention to the taste, texture, and “mouthfeel” of every bite you take – of slowing down and savoring every single bite.

Mindful eating also means paying attention to internal cues for hunger and satiety and heeding those cues as often as possible. Studies show that mindless eating almost always results in excess calories.

Here are a couple of excellent articles on mindful eating:

2. Stay active

Weight gain can occur with as little as 100 extra calories a day but working out can keep that from happening fairly easily.

I usually plan a longer workout the days before or after a big event to balance the extra calories I consumed. Exercise can also help you manage stress which is likely to come in handy during this time of year.

Here are a couple ways to make exercise fun and easy:

3. Eat regular meals

Many people skip breakfast thinking they are saving a few hundred calories but this practice is ineffective in promoting weight loss. In fact, studies show that people who skip meals frequently are almost always overweight.

By eating regular meals you are much less likely to overeat at parties or when surrounded with yummy holiday food. Sit down and have a balanced meal three times a day; don’t eat in the car or in front of the TV. Have a small snack before going to parties or gatherings where you know there will be lots of food.

I always drink my Shakeology for breakfast so even on the days when the rest of my meals aren’t as healthy, I at least got one great meal in for the day!

Here is how I keep my holiday eating in check:

4. Modify holiday recipes

Many cookie recipes can easily be made with less fat or a fat substitute, like canned pumpkin or applesauce. I have been experimenting with making recipes vegan and so far they have all tasted AMAZING!

Many recipes, you can easily shave a few hundred calories off of each meal without noticing any difference in taste or texture.

I have lots of modified recipes in my weekly newsletter!

5. Don’t drink your calories

One of the easiest ways to gain weight is to drink excess alcohol, soda, or any kind of sweetened drink. Even fruit juice has a fair number of calories and should be consumed in moderation. Choose sparkling water or a natural low calorie beverage when possible.

Most of all, remember what the holidays are all about…being with friends and family. You can enjoy your Holidays and Year End Celebrations without loading up on fat, sugar, and alcohol!
If you want any support or accountability, I have ongoing online support groups for health, fitness, and weight loss!

Join our community…

And love yourself enough to live a healthy life!

Happy Holidays!

See you soon!

Homework: Be Brave

Homework: Be BraveThis past weekend I was racing in South Dakota. While riding my bike on the gorgeous Iron Mountain Highway in Custer State Park, I made a decision that I wanted to simplify my life EVEN MORE than I already had so I could train and race all the time to feel the way I did in that moment. I have been struggling to get rid of some of the “stuff” I have left in the 5 bins I still store and cart around with me everywhere I go.

But being excited about living more simply so I can race and train more, made it easy to get back home and start tossing stuff!!

This also got me thinking about emotional baggage and holding onto people, places, jobs, habits, and relationships that no longer serve us but we struggle to let go.

Here is what I came up with…

The more excited and passionate you are about the outcome (or potential outcome) from what you are giving up or changing, the easier it is to let it go.

So I started thinking about the things that have been hard for me to let go of, give up, or change. I then thought about what the end result would be. I asked myself “on a scale from 1-10, how excited am I about this end result”? If it was an 8 or higher, it was easy to make the change, if it was any lower, it was a struggle.

I wanted to share this with you guys in case you have something that is hard to let go of, hard to give up, or hard to change. Go through the process I just described and see where it takes you!

If your “why” is lower than an 8, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not important to you. You many need to re-think why you want to do it or maybe it’s not something that you’re ready to let go of or ready to change in your life RIGHT NOW! And that’s OK.

We’re not always ready to make those big changes in our life.

If it’s something that’s important to you, you’ll find a way when you’re ready to get excited and get passionate about it and make the change.

If it’s FEAR holding you back or the UNKNOWN (2 things that hold most people back) I just want to share one of my fave quotes: Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.

Will it always work out the way you want it to? Probably not. But is it always worth it? IMO yes!

I always learn something about myself in the process which moves me closer to self-love, my ideal life, and being the best version of myself I can create.

If you are ready to make a change in your life whether it’s in your finances or your health or your fitness or your relationship or just loving yourself more and you need some guidance, I can definitely help!!

I have coached hundreds of people just like you who are ready to make a change but not quite sure where to start. My philosophy is baby steps, one day at a time, small incremental changes over time that will result in big life changes!

I offer coaching calls anywhere from 15 minutes to 60 minutes depending on how much time you have and how much guidance that you want to help you go from where you are now to where you want to be.

Please reach out to me and let’s set up a time to talk. If you’re not ready that’s OK, I will be here when you are. And in the meantime I have some positive places for you to hang out with me!

www.Facebook.com/FoodFitnessFinanceFun
www.Instagram.com/VeganDivaKir
www.Facebook.com/groups/RealResultsRock

See you soon!

Baby Steps: Discipline

Baby Steps: Discipline... People seem to think because I typically eat healthy, I get all my training in and work out daily, and I race a lot as an athlete, that I am a very disciplined person.In my line of work, the health, fitness, and nutrition industry, and as an athlete, the word discipline gets thrown around all the time. People seem to think because I typically eat healthy, I get all my training in and work out daily, and I race a lot as an athlete, that I am a very disciplined person.

I don’t believe that anyone is naturally a more disciplined or undisciplined person.

I believe that discipline is a skill that we can all practice, learn, and get better at.

The other day at the pool, I was thinking about the concept of discipline. I was breathing on “twos”, which for you non-swimmers out there means that I was breathing to the right side every time my head and body turn to the right (ever 2 arm strokes). This isn’t the most effective or efficient way to swim, but for me it’s the easiest. A harder way is to breathe on threes or fours or fives or sixes which means I have to hold my breath longer and breathe on opposite sides (called bilateral breathing), which for me means I have to work a little harder and focus a little bit more.

So I challenged myself to breathe on threes or fours for the entire next set and I kept saying to myself “practice discipline in the small things in your life so that it’ll be easier to be disciplined in the big things in your life”.

Practice discipline in the small things so that it will be easier in the big things. So basically in the grand scheme of life it really doesn’t matter if I breathe on twos, but breathing on threes or fours is more of a challenge so I am practicing discipline.

Then when something that actually matters in life comes up, such as skipping a work out or doing the work out, I have practiced and gotten better at discipline and it will make it easier for me to just do the work out rather than skip it.

So here is your homework for today:

Throughout the day, if there something that you think you should do or that could move you toward the life that you really want (but maybe don’t really feel like doing it), I challenge you to do it.

Even if it’s something super simple and small such as choosing a salad over French fries as your side dish at the drive-through. Or choosing water over soda at the gas station when you’re thirsty. Or if you’re trying to save money, filling up your water bottle with tap water instead of buying it. Or choosing to park far away from the office instead of close so that you need to walk a few extra steps. Or choosing to turn off the TV after one show and get an extra half an hour of sleep. Or choosing to set your alarm without the snooze option to get up and get your day moving. Or choosing to adding spinach in your shake for breakfast in the morning. Or choosing to say no to something that isn’t that big a deal but you really didn’t want to do it. Etc, Etc, Etc!! GOT IT?

Once you get used to being disciplined in the small seemingly insignificant choices that you make each and every day, when a big or more important decision comes up, it will be easier for you to choose wisely it’ll be easier for you to be disciplined in that choice as well.

I would love to hear about your tiny successes just like mine I had in the pool the other day, because your successes in being disciplined in the small things AND the big things will inspire me and others to start making better decisions and choices in their own lives.

We all need the inspiration and motivation to be disciplined, if it was an easy choice it wouldn’t be called discipline!

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7 Day Vegan Challenge

7 Day Vegan Challenge.... Hey there vegan-ish friends and wanna- bees!! 1-2 times a year I run a “7 Day Vegan Challenge” for those of you who are wanting to “explore” or “try” being vegan for a week!Hey there vegan-ish friends and wanna- bees!! 1-2 times a year I run a “7 Day Vegan Challenge” for those of you who are wanting to “explore” or “try” being vegan for a week!

I love this challenge because I think support and connection with others on the same path will get you better results than I had when I was working toward becoming vegan.

It actually took me about 10 years to become 100% plant-based and my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.

Our support group has 7 different options for you to choose from so that your meal plan will fit into your goals, lifestyle, budget, etc.

Here are your options…

    Vegan on a Budget
      Vegan Soy Free
        Vegan Athlete Menu
          Vegan Body Building Menu
            Vegan Low Fat Menu
              Vegan Endurance Athlete Menu
                Vegan Weight Loss Menu (complete with shopping list)

              Please join us! Like I said it was a long process for me and I have learned a lot during the 10 years it took me and during the 3 years I have been vegan. I would love to be able to share my experiences to make yours easier and better.
              And you all are lucky because these days there are so many healthier, tastier, and convenient plant-based options than there were 10 years ago when I was attempting this!

              If you are already vegan and want to help me take my next step into eating more raw foods, I am always in need of accountability, inspiration, and motivation. I have been “trying” to go mostly raw for the past couple years and not been successful.
              I’m not ready to do all 7 days all raw, but during the challenge my goal is to only eat one cooked/processed meal each day and eat 90% whole foods the whole week.
              I am excited for us to take our nutrition and lives to the next level.

              Join us here…

              www.facebook.com/groups/VeganWeek

              And stay in touch here…

              www.FoodFitnessFinanceFun.com

              If you just need vegan recipes…
              www.facebook.com/groups/7DayVeg

              And if you want one recipe emailed to you weekly…

              www.foodfitnessfinancefun.com/Newsletter

              See you there!

              Viva Vagan!!