This flu epidemic is VERY scary this year! If I am being honest I am not the first one to run and get a flu shot. I find that often times when I do, I tend to get upper respiratory infections and catch some sort of flu-like sickness anyway. If you do decide to get the flu shot, speak with your healthcare professional about your options. Some shots have preservatives in them whereas others do not and if you fall into the special population category of children, senior citizen or pregnant woman then it may be worth your while as the flu outbreak this year is unlike one we haven’t seen in a long time.
“Italy has changed. But Rome is Rome.”
-Robert De Nero, American actor
Ah Roma! The home of Julius Caesar, The Colosseum, and the most decadent food on the planet. Traveling is something that truly feeds my soul and my waistline like no other. It seems many of you are looking forward to traveling more in 2018 and I love sharing my experiences with you to help you along your journey. Cory and I explored Italy on our honeymoon and this year I wanted to share a travel experience with my mom before we hopped on the baby train and life as we know it would become a little more complicated. While thinking about a place to spend multiple days, and because of our Italian heritage I thought Rome would be the perfect place for a girls trip. Once we landed in Rome, unpacked and fought the jet lag the best we could we set out to see what Rome had to offer.
Happy Monday or Sunday or Monday…This time change is truly wild! When Cory and I took our first vacation out of the country we felt so disconnected to the outside world and depended solely on our Garmin to get us through. There was limited access to wifi in South America and even though Facebook was a thing, Instagram, Snapchat and Insta-Stories were not a part of our daily lives like they are today. I have been having so much fun sharing my travels with you and I am even more ecstatic to have such a strong wifi connection in order to do so. As we are about to head into the last part of our adventure I wanted to share a little more about our travels to the other side of the world.
Obviously, healthy food is one of the biggest parts of living life ala TWF. Cory and I are total foodies and live a balanced lifestyle the best we can which means pizza, steak and wine are truly a part of our “diet”; however, I/we try to eat intuitively. I try my best to eat when I am truly hungry, give in to cravings here and there and eat foods that are rich in the nutrients my body craves. If I am feeling tired that usually means I am lacking iron and I up my daily amount of greens or have a serving of grass fed beef. If I am bloated I add more fermented foods that are rich in probiotics like sauerkraut or kefir. Eating intuitive means checking in with yourself and eating foods that make you feel good. Even if that means you consume something to satisfy your soul every now and again!
Here in China I had a conversation with one of Cory’s classmates about how she feels when coming to the states. In China she never deals with bloating as most of their diet consists of gut-healing broths, fresh vegetables, fish and steamed dumplings. When she attends class in the states it is the exact opposite. After being here for over a week I have yet to leave a meal feeling nothing more than full, satisfied and nothing a brisk walk couldn’t autocorrect. The lunches and dinners are overwhelmingly large and satisfying yet not paralyzing. What I learned is that food was rationed here until the 80’s and the Chinese are now living in a time of abundance and they dive in with open arms. I mean imagine oysters, draws the size of your head, pizza, fresh fruiting endless champagne served at a club! Yes…that happened. Warm tea is also served at every meal along with steamed vegetables and minimal dessert. All of this has helped keep my digestion balanced and calm. Also, this added probiotic powder has helped tremendously.
I have learned a bit about some of the food practices here and wanted to share a few new health foods and practices that were introduced to me in hopes that you incorporate some of them into your daily life. As you may know, I am an avid eastern medicine supporter. I do acupuncture regularly and use herbs as medication and I have never felt better. Most of the foods I will share in today’s post will add much needed nutrients to your diet and aid in cleansing and creating a balanced gut environment. That is the Chinese way. You know, the Ying, the Yang…and all that jazz!
My New Favorite Chinese Health Foods
Sea Vegetables: If I am being honest I am not a huge fan of anything that tastes pungently like the ocean; however, a good seaweed salad is something I enjoy and a little sprinkle of nori on my pho adds a depth of flavor that delights my palate. Sea vegetables are considered one of the worlds healthiest foods. They are full of iron which means they are great for anyone suffering from a thyroid disorder, but as a health food they are a healthy living powerhouse chock full of vitamin C, manganese, copper, zinc, B6 and PROTEIN! Yes! Sea vegetables are one of the best protein sources around which make them great for vegans and vegetarians. I may just have to create a kelp noodle stir fry for you guys! In fact..I plan on it! Grab some nori (seaweed) or kelp noodles next time you head to whole foods and pair them with spices and vegetables until your hearts content.
Green Caviar or Sea Grapes: I know we just spoke about sea vegetables, but “Green Caviar” otherwise known as Sea Grapes (Shown on top of the salad above) is something so new, exotic and delicious that I believe they deserve a category of their own. When we first were presented with this gorgeous salad I assumed the tiny green clusters were fish eggs. Upon tasting them they were had a mild flavor and freshness I haven’t seen anywhere else. They literally pop in your mouth. The only website I found for them is this one. If anyone knows where I can get them please share!
Pho: We know Pho very well in America, but did you know it is a staple in China to eat it for breakfast. Cory and I had it almost every morning and the greens, rice noodles and subtle broth were the perfect start to our mornings. In America Pho can be very high in sodium so I would suggest making your own chicken or beef broth or amplifying sodium free store bought brother with spices like garlic, ginger and red pepper. You can create a pho based on flavors you love and add lean protein like chicken or tofu for an added kick.
Congee: Congee is essentially a healing breakfast porridge made from a ration of 1:10 or 1:6 rice to water. I have experienced congee with dried fruit and nuts in the morning to congee with crab, lobster and green onion. You can make this dish with only rice or with beans, rice and herbs. When you consume congee in the morning you will feel you energy sustained throughout the day and improvement in digestive function which makes it a fantastic pre-workout. The added digestive benefits are very important while traveling. You can prepare congee in a crockpot or on the stovetop and save for daily use as a main or side dish.
Chinese Greens: There are many greens we have access to in the states, and there about ten here in Shanghai that are as common as kale and arugula are in the states. Next time you are at the grocery story adding Napa Cabbage, Baby Bok Choy, Pea Shoots or Chinese Broccoli known as Gai Lan.
Herbal Tea: Herbal tea is an art form here in China and you will undoubtably find it at every meal. Not just as a dessert accompaniment. When you look around you will never see ice in water here in china and even cold water is a more “western thing” and our body has to use more energy to warm the water before it can be used in the body. Warm herbal tea can aid in the digestive process and many teas can be used to treat everything from fertility to acne to weight loss. I love using tea for relaxation rituals and I now thoroughly enjoy sipping it with every meal.
Eat Family Style With Small Plates and Bowls: It seems like a simple thought process and I tell you what…it works. Small soup bowls are placed beside small appetizer bowls and eating off those at a slower pace allowed you to consume less yet still become full and satisfied. American portions are so much bigger than anywhere in the world. One night we had an extra large “lazy susan” on our table which made sharing even easier.
Think of vegetables as the main dish and protein as the side dish: Vegetables here are the main event. Many nights you will see 3 plus vegetable dishes on the table with 1-2 meat dishes and 1-2 fish dishes. Usually in America protein takes center stage. Here…vegetables shine bright like a diamond!
Cook foods in terms if the Yin and Yang: Chefs here work towards balance in the Yin and Yang. Yin being your cold foods. Think foods that are more green, grow in water, bitter or sour. The Yang foods are your hot foods. Red foods, foods that grow in soil and require ample sunlight to grow. Combined they achieve balance and also offer you key nutrients that may be missing in less balanced dishes.
Ni Hao! Hello from Shanghai, China! I feel like the past two weeks I could not have been thrust into two completely different worlds. Italy was a whirlwind of love, history, pasta and a sense of home that I will talk about as soon as I am back in the states. After returning from Italy I spent 48 hours in New York before I met the hubs at the airport to embark on our 15+ hour journey to the far east. Upon arrival we found ourselves on the other side of the world in the midst of skyline taken right out of the future. We are staying on “The Bund” and have one of the best views of the Shanghai financial district with one sky scraper taller and more outrageous than the next. Upon landing around 5 AM Cory and I were able to check into our hotel, take a much needed power nap and actually booked a massage to help with the jet lag. During this trip I will definitely be sharing some fun things about travel, health and wellness that I pick up along the way. Today my thoughts are all about helping you battle the dreaded time change/jet lag during your next trip for business or pleasure.
Over the past five years of travel here, there and everywhere I have created my list of requirements that help me to kick jet lag to the curb ASAP!
So here goes:
- Take a minimal nap or no nap at all: When we first started traveling abroad a nap was inevitable, but taking only a 1-2 hour nap or forcing yourself to stay up late enough that you can sleep through your first night for 8+ hours will set you up for a successful trip and hopefully kickstart a decent sleep schedule for the remainder of your travels. Although you may have disrupted sleep here and there I find that it truly does help get you get into a rhythm in your new time zone.
- Hydrate: Airplane food can be jam packed with sodium. Take it easy on the alcohol and increase the H2O. After a flight, dehydration can make you feel even more exhausted, headache prone and leave you feeling achy all over. I suggest you downing as much H20 as you can take in every day, but over the course of the flight and the first day of your trip it is absolutely crucial that you increase your intake! Your body and digestive system will thank you.
- Eat a balance breakfast/meal: Upon reaching your final destination, have a healthy, fresh and balanced meal to help fuel you through the rest of your day. Stay away from crash-inducing heavy processed carbs and too much coffee or caffeinated tea. Opt for fresh fruits, vegetables, minimal whole grains and lean protein. I know it is vacation, and indulging is a MUST; however, the first meal of the trip will make or break your energy on your first day.
- Check in, take a shower and unpack before you head out: Unless you have any urgent appointments, I suggest you take the time to unpack and shower ASAP. Even if we are only staying in one place for a couple of days a hotel room is to be enjoyed and made your “home away from home”. So take advantage!
- Sweat and Pamper Yourself: Getting a quick half hour workout in to get your joints lubricated, muscles warm and your heart pumping can help give you the boost of energy you need to kick the nap to the curb. Cory and I like to stroll our new neighborhood for a little while to get the lay of the land and get our bodies moving. If you have time, sit in the sauna to kill any lingering germs from your flight and/or get a massage to work out the kinks after sitting couped up on those planes, trains and automobiles.
- Always Set an Alarm: Cory and I made the mistake of not setting our alarm and basically wasted 1/4 of our time in Vienna by sleeping late into the night on the first day. As hubby always says: “Suck it up buttercup”. Seeing the world does not happen every day! Get on out there and “Carpe that diem!
- Start a daily probiotic stat! Hopefully you take a probiotic supplement regularly, but if you don’t be sure to take one on vacation! Start a supplement about a week or two before you leave. Your gut can be affected by everything from the airplane and time change to water and cuisine. Your gut is the powerhouse of the body and keeping your digestive juices flowing and immune system in tact will make the trip that much more enjoyable!
FYI..I will never ever complain again about the three hour time difference when I go to Las Vegas or California for work EVER AGAIN! Cory has been working on his MBA and is here for school and we decided it would be a great opportunity for me to tag along. Thankfully, a friend from his cohort actually lives here in Shanghai and speaks the language and has been our saving grace. As you may have seen on yesterdays insta-story we had quite a bit of trouble getting from point A to Point B…even with access to our cell phones. In Europe you can really squeak by using a few small phrases. In China….that is a whole different story.
I am having fun learning more about the culture, customs and cuisine and look forward to sharing it all with you! If I missed any awesome jet-lag tips feel free to share them below. Happy Humpday everyone!
Here in Miami, the effects of Irma have really forced me to stop and take a moment to analyze what life is all about. We are so lucky to have come out of this storm relatively unscathed, but my heart breaks for many of those much less fortunate. We were in the Florida Keys (photo above) for Labor Day Weekend and just cannot believe the devastation. Every little bit helps so whether you are near or far we would appreciate donations of any kind!
- Underwear/Socks (child-adult)
- Shoes (child-adult)
- Facial/ Body Wipes
- Adult diapers. (They have asked to please not send children’s diapers as they have enough)
- Comfortable clothing (baby-adult)
- Baby Formula and Bottles
- Books/Activity Books (child-adult)
- Phone Chargers
- Pet Food
- Feminine Hygiene Product
- Non-perishable food
A few weeks ago Cory and I were in desperate need of a little getaway. Our first trip together was to Costa Rica and after stumbling upon the Oxygen Jungle Villas from my friend “Beach Pilates Girl” we knew this was the perfect spot to rest and recharge. The OJV is a Balinese style resort built into the beautiful mountainous jungle of Uvita. Located on the southwestern coast of Costa Rica. The resort overlooks the splendor of the Pacific Ocean which means you have the opportunity to breathe in the mountain air while watching the waves dance delicately with the coast line as tucans and howler monkeys converse in the background.
The Oxygen Jungle Villas have been featured in both Conde Nast and Travel & Leisure publications as one of the top resorts in Costa Rica. From the moment you step foot into your glass enclosed room or enjoy a complimentary welcome cocktail overlooking the infinity pool you can see why as you immediately feel every cell in your body relax and all your worries wash away with the tide below. Even though our visit fell during rainy season we enjoyed sun filled mornings followed by rain-filled romantic afternoons, which we enjoyed from the comfort of our covered patio complete with an oversized couch.
Costa Rica is about two hours behind eastern standard time so we were really able to soak in every second of each day. We woke up with the sun and sounds of the jungle and were able to get to bed early without the distraction of television. The resort has great wifi, but they do not have in-room telephones or T.V. (Which we did not mind in the least). Since there are only ten villas on site it is a quick 1-2 minute walk to the front desk if you need anything at all. A trek we did not have to make other than to make dinner or spa reservations. Conveniently enough, the desk is located right next to the pool.
While staying at the resort you can make the vacation exactly what you want. If it is adventure you seek, there are tons of adventure tours you can take part in! On our first trip Guanacaste Costa Rica we did the horseback riding, zip lining and hot springs adventures so on this trip we decided to hike to the on-site water falls, get massages, swim and take in all the benefits that being in nature has to offer. We ate almost every meal at the resort as well! They offered plenty of healthy options and had a fantastic wine, cocktail and local craft beer selection.
Did you know that it has been scientifically proven that being in nature can help boost your immune system, lower your blood pressure, reduce stress, improve your mood and ability to focus as well as increase your energy and improve your sleep. Spending time at the Oxygen Jungle Villas did that for us and more! Although, we only had three nights to spend there we felt like me had adequate time to recharge.
The flight from Miami was a quick 2 hours to San Jose Airport. From San Jose we rented a car from Adobe Rent-A-Car. The car was a brand new SUV (a 4x 4 is required to get to the resort), the space was pristine and the men working couldn’t have been nicer. The resort is about a three hour drive with many sights and attractions along the way like the “Croc Bridge” and roadside fruit stands and restaurants.
This trip was the perfect balance of upscale, rustic relaxation. I rarely had to put on makeup or do my hair. The property was pristine and extremely well taken care of and I would love to come back ASAP. Before we left, we were worried about mosquitos (ZIKA) and bugs, but with ample amounts of bug spray Cory and I both left without a single bite and the energy to battle the next few months until our next adventure.
If you are planning a getaway I can wholeheartedly recommend the Oxygen Jungle Villas of Costa Rica! Although the resort is already super affordable enter the code TWF10 upon checkout for an additional 10% off your stay. If luxury, adventure and relaxation are on the top of your next vacay list then I suggest you book the Oxygen Jungle Villas ASAP.
I know it is rare to share a post over a holiday but with a recent trip to Charleston South Carolina I feel Independence Day is the perfect time to share a recent experience I had with my best friends in the world. As we age, life often takes many twists and turns. Fortunately for me the one constant in my life has always been my strong connections with my best girlfriends. Most of my friendships have lasted over a decade and over half of them have spanned over two decades. These women have seen me through the best of times and also through the worst of times and as families are expanding and the miles between us get longer we always find a way to carve much needed time together into our hectic schedules.
This year, we chose Charleston SC because my gorgeous friend is six months pregnant and lives within driving distance of the quaint little city. We have a love for all things culinary and the cocktail scene was an added bonus. My maid of honor is essentially the social director of all our trips so we left everything up to her. We went to Poogan’s Porch and Paw Paw for meals and Prohibition and Republic for cocktails. On Saturday we decided to walk off brunch by strolling through King’s Street to the water and making a detour past Southern Charm star Patricia Altschul’s palatial estate. Charleston is chock full of charming curb appeal that truly takes you back to another time.
Towards the end of the day we decided to get out of dodge and head out to Boone Hall Plantation in Mt. Pleasant which is about twenty minutes outside of Charleston city center. Boone Hall is the perfectly maintained working plantation where Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively got married and also the set of “Ali’s” parents house in “The Notebook“. The rows of oak trees lining the entrance truly takes you back to another time and if you are in Charleston I strongly suggest you taking an afternoon to spend the day learning and enjoying the grounds.
To the left of the house stands “slave street”. The slave and sharecroppers quarters that date back to the 1700’s. What I did not know is that the Boone Hall Plantation essentially set the stage for slavery in the early 1700’s and although we have learned about our countries dark past, it is an entirely different experience to see it first hand. As a visitor of Boone Hall you can join a tour or simply walk through slave street as stories of slaves past are described over surround sound. My heart broke almost immediately, but it was not until I saw dog-like collars that slaves were forced to wear and a price list for my ancestors that I completely fell apart. In today’s society we are still feeling the effects of slavery and discrimination based on skin color, and although there is still much work to be done I feel eternally grateful for all of those who fought for the life my family, friends and I live today.
In the last slave quarter my friends and I were able to read a timeline of black American history that dated all the way back to 1617! Slavery lasted over 200 years before life in America started to shift. By shift I mean a little ripple in the ocean of life. It was not until 1967 that the Loving Decision made interracial marriage legal in the United States. Can you believe that? Because of the brave men and women who came before me I exist, my family, my marriage and my siblings marriages exist. We are free to love whomever, eat wherever and live free of burden. For all of those things, I am forever grateful!
I know the old saying goes: “ignorance is bliss”, but I believe knowledge is power. The Boone Hall Plantation was a life changing experience for me and I know it will be a special place to share with our children one day. It is a living testimony of courage and strength and a fight that many Americans continue to fight every single day. By the time I got home I felt mildly depressed, a little hungover and full of gratitude for the life I get to live and the friendships that make up the fabric of my life.
So I did what any normal girl would do. I watched The Notebook (many scenes shot in Charleston and Boone Hall), took a nap and gave my husband all the kisses in the world.
America the free. Home of the brave.
My husband is an Ohio guy through and through. He loves meat and potatoes and has little to no concept of portion control. If you would have told me
four years ago last year that he would be eating quinoa, kale and black bean burgers I would have thought you were N-U-T-S. These days, he still likes to indulge, but he is more dedicated to his health and wellness than ever before and I could not be more proud!
Today, I have six tips to help get your man living a healthier lifestyle…Without him really knowing it.
Pre-Make a Healthy Breakfast or Keep a Fruit Bowl Front and Center: I love making overnight oats or breakfast burritos that Cory can warm up or eat on-the-go. If he has healthy options available to him first thing in the morning he is more likely to make healthier decisions throughout the day.
Lighten Up his Favorites: Does he like fried buffalo wings? Yea mine too! Opt for lighter options that still have the same flair. For example: Grill a chicken breast, slather it in buffalo sauce and top it with diced celery, red onion and a sprinkle of blue cheese crumbles.
Just Add Bacon: Think salty, sweet, creamy, crunchy and savory when you create a dish and your man will never be dissappointed! If I am making a kale salad with avocado, mango, red, onion, quinoa and pumpkin seeds; a sprinkle of bacon takes this salad from good to great with the added salty crunch! If you tell your man it has bacon in it. I guarantee they will go back for more.
Send Him Articles Here and There: I could not get Cory to even think of quitting soda for the longest time. I would explain how bad it was for him and how diet soda was even worse for his body. He was addicted and I had to give up! That was until he read an article in the Wall Street Journal about the health hazards of soda. he quit cold turkey that day! Let’s face it. Some of the stuff we say is fluff, but if there is hard evidence from a publication he knows and loves. There is no more denying it!
Take Him to Your Favorite Local Healthy Spot: Miami Squeeze is a local dive juice and health food spot here in North Miami. I love going there during the week for a veggie wrap, grain bowl or a ginger shot. Cory used to come with me reluctantly and order the only unhealthy thing on the menu….a chicken or tuna melt. Now, he gets a large ginger shot and a vegetarian platter or Wrap Me Wrap (a mediterranean wrap). The waiter even knew his order yesterday before he said it! He now goes there right after the gym and is making healthier choices every day! (I am one proud wifey)
Positive Reinforcement: It may sound silly, but telling your man you appreciate them making an effort or that they look “hot” when they drop a few lbs. really helps makes all the difference! We feel good when they tell us we are beautiful; so why not place the shoe on the other foot?!
If you have any more tips to add make sure to write them below!
Where in the world is Taylor Walker Fit?! [sung to the ‘Carmen San Diego’ theme song] Every week it is a guessing game as to where in world I will be. Is it exciting? Yes, but it can also be exhausting and leave you sick with a wicked sinus infection like this week.
I left for California last Tuesday only to have my four day trip turn into a seven day trip. I was left to search for a laundromat and a place to get a fresh blow out in LV, and it was an good ‘ol fashion adventure to say the least. That my friends is the less than glamorous part of the modeling industry. You have to be flexible and OK with throwing your schedule out the window. You also have to be flexible and comfortable with keeping your health and fitness your number one priority. It takes a little bit of work, but once you get the habit of it. Living this life becomes second nature.
In my early years of hustle and bustle I did not give much thought into what I put into my body. Food was portrayed as food, not fuel, and any drive through would suffice. These days, processed food leaves me feeling just as low as an alcohol induced hangover; so I wanted to share a few health tips for all of my road warriors out there.
Remember…Small changes can yield large rewards!
Happy Monday Everyone! I know the blog was a little light last week, but if you follow me on Instagram then you know that I was in California shooting a social media campaign for my friends at Old Navy. When the e-mail came through to participate in the shoot I was beyond excited. There are so many incredible bloggers out there with a much bigger following than I have, but when these opportunities present themselves I always remember the words of my uncle who said to me the week before I won the Wilhelmina Fitness Model Search: Why not you? So, if there is something you want to do, but are afraid to do; look in the mirror today and ask yourself the same question. Why not you?
Over my five days on the left coast I completely fell in L-O-V-E with everything about L.A. and the surrounding areas. I was able to spend time wandering around the streets Santa Monica, spent time with family friends including personal trainer and rockstar Blake O’Brian in Manhattan Beach, went to hike Runyon Canyon and drove through Beverly Hills, past Grumman’s Chinese Theatre and every lust-worthy, insta-worthy backdrop you could imagine with my childhood friend!
I must have walked to the Santa Monica Pier and back ten times during my trip, but every time I left the hotel I found myself taking the “scenic route”! If you fine yourself in Santa Monica make sure to stroll to the pier and the Third Street Promenade. There are gardens and farmers market restaurants where even your comfort food is locally sourced and nutrient dense!
California is really the mecca of healthy living! With nearly perfect weather most of the year and organic farm to table food on every corner; I almost intentionally missed my flight to Vegas. I will be back in August for the final Propel event and I seriously cannot wait! I got a new camera, and I absolutely adore it (clearly), so today’s post is simply a photo diary of my time in beautiful Southern California! [Mom…I hope you are proud of my shots LOL]
Comment below with your can’t mis spots in L.A. so I can make sure to visit at the end of the summer!