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Summer 2018 Reading List

Books, LifestyleMaría Elena RodríguezComment
summer 2018 reading list

Yes, it's true. I have been a little disconnected lately. The truth is I've been on a roll juggling ambinity and freelancing since the beginning of the year, and after binge watching Scandal's last season on Netflix while starting marathon training, I knew I needed a detox. A digital detox. 

But one of the things I have been spending my free time on lately (apart from tweeting) is reading. I have written about this on other posts, but I used to have horrible migraines and one of the things that really triggers them is screen time. So after realizing I was spending too much time on my computer and phone, I decided to set myself the challenge of getting back on my reading game, which I have I lost in all the craziness of my life lately. You know, surviving two hurricanes, quitting my job and training for the NYC Marathon...  #INeedToChill

So without further ado, here's a much needed breath of fresh air with some books that will light up all your energy this summer:

Eva Luna by Isabel Allende

Grab Eva Luna by Isabel Ayende  here .

Grab Eva Luna by Isabel Ayende here.

Reading Status: Finished it! ✔️

As you can see from this picture, this book is practically destroyed. It took me a long time to read it, not because it was bad, but because a) I was running around with it in my purse most of the time and b) because I am a slow reader and novels take me a longer time to read, especially this type of novels that I find are a little out of my comfort zone in terms of intellect. I found myself getting distracted during some guerrilla scenes, but fun fact; I always fall asleep in violent scenes in movies. I find them so boring! 

That aside, I loved that Isabel Allende describes this book’s lead character as a strong and free woman in the most beautiful way I have ever read. I can't wait to read La Casa de los Espíritus and other novels by her, even if it takes me three months to finish them! 

Book Description (from Amazon): Eva Luna is the daughter of a professor’s assistant and a snake-bitten gardener—born poor, orphaned at an early age, and working as a servant. Eva is a naturally gifted and imaginative storyteller who meets people from all stations and walks of life. Though she has no wealth, she trades her stories like currency with people who are kind to her. In this novel, she shares the story of her own life and introduces readers to a diverse and eccentric cast of characters including the Lebanese émigré who befriends her and takes her in; her unfortunate godmother, whose brain is addled by rum and who believes in all the Catholic saints and a few of her own invention; a street urchin who grows into a petty criminal and, later, a leader in the guerrilla struggle; a celebrated transsexual entertainer who instructs her in the ways of the adult world; and a young refugee whose flight from postwar Europe will prove crucial to Eva's fate.
As Eva tells her story, Isabel Allende conjures up a whole complex South American nation—the rich, the poor, the simple, and the sophisticated—in a novel replete with character and incident, with drama and comedy and history, with battles and passions, rebellions and reunions, a novel that celebrates the power of imagination to create a better world.

Grab Eva Luna by Isabel Ayende here

El día que me venció el olvido by Edmaris Carazo

Grab  El día que me venció el olvido  by Edmaris Carazo in   Kindle Version    here  .

Grab El día que me venció el olvido by Edmaris Carazo in Kindle Version here.

Reading Status: Finished it! ✔️

This is Edmaris Carazo's debut novel and it narrates three generations of women, including a grandmother with Alzheimer desease. It is intense, raw and a book that you just can't put down because she writes in a way that just feels familiar, like she's speaking to you. If you have ever stumbled upon her blog, Siempre Jueves, you know what I'm talking about and if you haven't, hurry over there NOW! Then come back. 😊

Book Description (from Amazon): El Día que me venció el Olvido cuenta a dos voces la historia de 3 mujeres de 3 generaciones distintas. El lector se siente dentro de la cabeza, desde los ojos y entre las piernas de una narradora que vive de prisa intentando escapar de la genética y las decisiones de su familia. La novela obliga a mirarse desde los ojos del Alzheimer, del desdén, de la indiferencia y desde la erotización del dolor. Una narración concisa, íntima, cotidiana, irreverente, humana y poderosa que produce cosquillas de las buenas y de las malas en el lector que observa a una abuela que olvida, una madre que ignora y una hija que intenta recolectar y juntar los pedazos antes de que el olvido los desaparezca.

Grab El día que me venció el olvido by Edmaris Carazo in Kindle Version here

Find the print version at Librería Norberto, Librería Mágica, Libros AC and Casa Norberto. 

How to Lose a Marathon

Grab How to Lose a Marathon by Joel H. Cohen  here .

Grab How to Lose a Marathon by Joel H. Cohen here.

Reading Status: Finished it! ✔️

Ok I get it. There is a really low chance you are interested in this book, but I thought I would include it since it's part of my marathon training and this shit is hard! I need some validation and support ok? 

Now that we got that out of the way, I can say that this book was a little discouraging at first. The first few chapers were all about how the author is not qualified to write a book about running. Like I mean, really? The author is a writer at The Simpsoms so he's used to writing comedy, but sometimes I just wished he stopped joking and got to the facts. Nevertheless, after the first few chaperts were over, I found myself enjoying and even giggling over his jokes (especially the chafing section). 

Overall: It's a good marathon book for beginners or even if you're just looking for some comedy reading, but I will definetely be buying a more serius one soon, like this one

Book Description (from Amazon): A writer and producer for The Simpsons presents a humorous, illustrated guide for any and every wannabe marathoner. 

Grab How to Lose a Marathon by Joel H. Cohen here

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Grab Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari    here .

Grab Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari here.

Reading Status: Reading 📖

I saw this book randomly at Costco one day and it immedietly caught my eye, but after flipping through some pages, I knew I needed it. It describes humanity in the most provocative, thought intriguing way I have ever read and I can't put it down. I haven't finished the first chapter and he already talked about the pope's celibacy and why men are not as flamboyant as they used to be in other centuries. Right up my alley! 

Book Description (from Amazon): From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.” One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us? 

Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.

Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because over the last few decades humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become?

Grab Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari here

SweetBitter by Stephanie Danler

Grab SweetBitter by Stephanie Danler    here  .

Grab SweetBitter by Stephanie Danler here.

Reading Status: In line to read 📚

Confession: I've had this book since my trip to Chicago two years ago. Yeah, I know. I have tried several times to get hooked on it, but never do. I have seen several reviews online and it has some mixed reviews, but since it already has a TV Show I figured it can't be that bad. Let's see if I finally enjoy it this summer! 

Book Description (from Amazon): Twenty-two, and knowing no one, Tess leaves home to begin her adult life in New York City. Thus begins a year that is both enchanting and punishing, in a low-level job at “the best restaurant in New York City.” Grueling hours and a steep culinary learning curve awaken her to the beauty of oysters, the finest Champagnes, the appellations of Burgundy. At the same time, she opens herself to friendships—and love—set against the backdrop of dive bars and late nights.  As her appetites sharpen—for food and wine, but also for knowledge, experience, and belonging—Tess is drawn into a darkly alluring love triangle that will prove to be her most exhilarating and painful lesson of all. 
Stephanie Danler deftly conjures the nonstop and purely adrenalized world of the restaurant—conversations interrupted, phrases overheard, and suggestions below the surface. Evoking the infinite possibility of being young in New York with heart-stopping accuracy, Sweetbitter is ultimately about the power of what remains after disillusionment, and the wisdom that comes from experience, sweet and bitter.

Grab SweetBitter by Stephanie Danler here

Las imperfectas by Cristy Marrero

Grab  Las imperfectas  by Cristy Marrero    here  .

Grab Las imperfectas by Cristy Marrero here.

Reading Status: In line to read 📚

I really didn't want to buy this book, mostly because all I buy is chic-lit (Emily Giffin is my favorite author) and I have been trying to get out of my literary comfort zone (hence, Isabel Allende). But while flipping through this book at the book store, one of the sales clerk told me it was a really good one and that people literaly LOL while reading it. So being the weak human being that I tend to be around shopping experiences, I purchased it. I have flipped a few pages and I am super intrigued because the author sounds just like my friends. I suspect this could be a boricua version of Sex and the City, I'll let you know once I finish! 

Book Description (from Amazon): Somos María, Linda, Martita, Astrid, Gladys, Victoria, Yamila, Zulma, Elisa y Cecilia: diez mujeres, un camino... En este honesto (#nofilter) y humorístico relato nos damos cuenta lo distintas que somos y cómo, al mismo tiempo, queremos lo mismo: simplicidad, amor, paz, balance, celebrar nuestra feminidad, y saber que todo va a estar bien. Que sólo podemos controlar nuestras intenciones, mas nunca los resultados. Aunque a veces nos cueste reconocer y escuchar por temor a ser vulnerables por temor a lo desconocido—a lo que ya está escrito, rompemos estereotipos según los vamos creando. Así, nos declaramos perfectamente imperfectas.

Grab Las imperfectas by Cristy Marrero here

Grab  Las imperfectas  by Cristy Marrero    here  .

Grab Las imperfectas by Cristy Marrero here.

Reading Status: In line to read 📚

Silvia, my co-host at Un aguacate a la vez, has sent me several books during our friendship and this is one of them. I haven't had the time to read it yet, but I know this could easily be a nice beach read to enjoy. 

Book Description (from Amazon): Award-winning filmmaker and performing artist Miranda July brings her extraordinary talents to the page in a startling, sexy, and tender collection. In these stories, July gives the most seemingly insignificant moments a sly potency. A benign encounter, a misunderstanding, a shy revelation can reconfigure the world. Her characters engage awkwardly—they are sometimes too remote, sometimes too intimate. With great compassion and generosity, July reveals their idiosyncrasies and the odd logic and longing that govern their lives. No One Belongs Here More Than You is a stunning debut, the work of a writer with a spectacularly original and compelling voice.

Grab Las imperfectas by Cristy Marrero here


There you go! Have you read any of these books? Let me know in the comments below. 

Until next time, 

María Elena

Mother's Day Gift Guide for Every Budget

Beauty, Lifestyle, ShoppingMaría Elena RodríguezComment
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I don't know about you, but Mother's Day is one of the hardest holidays for shopping! I obviously love my mother and I want to give her what she loves, but since she's a Sagittarius like me (fun fact: we have the same birthday), the only thing I always want to give her are vacation trips! Unfortunately that won't be possible this year, but I decided to create a gift guide that will reach every budget, based on what I know all the mothers I know and mine would love. Everything under $50, under $200 and under $500. Enjoy!

MOTHERS DAY GIFT GUIDE ON A BUDGET

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When it comes to shopping on a budget this is my go to strategy: Find the most quality you can find between your  budget. That's why I recommend purchasing some QUAY sunglasses which are super cheap and great quality or an Urban Decay palette like this one. Also, a pretty and interesting coffee table book, a skincare set or high quality fantasy earrings are sure to make her happy! 

Focus on this: Quality self-care items! 

More gifts like these:

MOTHERS DAY GIFT GUIDE

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Ahh... The magic spot! This is where you can find good high quality items and even high end, but cheaper! In this budget bracket I would recommend you get her a super cool hair drier set like this one, a chakra balancing bath salt set like this one if she's into wellness and even a fancy fitness tracker like this one by Garmin. She's a more trendy mom? Go for some Ray Bans, statement earrings or a trendy handbag like this one which every fashion blogger is raving about!

Focus on this: Have fun with your gift!

More gifts like these:

MOTHERS DAY GIFT GUIDE SPLURGE

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You lucky mofo! You get to do what we all want: Spoil the most important person in our lives! So if you're going to go this route, go big or go home! Ok? Give her that Gucci belt she has been raving about or even a wallet! If she's into makeup, giver the entire set of Artis brushes. Some statement sunglasses or cocktail ring she can brag about with her friends and if she's a fitness junkie, she will love this new Garmin watch

Focus on this: Spoil yo' mama! 

More gifts like these:

5 Cheap and Easy Ways to Have a Spa Retreat at Home

wellness, Podcast, LifestyleMaría Elena RodríguezComment
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If you've been listening to my new podcast, Un aguacate a la vez, which I co-host with my friend Silvia Vallejo, you may have noticed that lately I've been reaaaally into self-care. I just keep coming back to this thought over and over again: Self Care is the new luxury. You don't need to have a trust fund, a fancy home or a sports car; you just need TIME, time for the most important person in your life: yourself. What better way to celebrate yourself than with self-care? So if for any reason you can't getaway this spring break, here are some ideas that will help you have a rejuvenating and luxurious experience at home. The best part? You can do this by yourself or with a loved one. Enjoy!

1. Turn off all your electronics

Want to feel renewed after this experience? I'm sorry but binge watching Netflix won't do it! Get rid of all the blue lights and electronics that take over our daily lives and make yourself a priority. This includes your phone, iPad, TV, Kindle, laptop and even your smart watch! 

Cost: $0

2. Give yourself an ayurvedic massage

Ever since I purchased The Idiot's Guide to Ayurveda by Sahara Rose, I can't stop giving myself spa rituals at home. My favorite ritual? Dry brushing and oil massaging! If you have been reading me since 2013, you know that I tried dry brushing a while back but I stopped very quickly (I even deleted that post lol). I guess it wasn't the right time for me. But now? I dry brush after showering for about ten minutes. It's not hard, all you need is a brush like this $5 one!  Here's a great article on how to dry brush. 

ayurveda sahara rose

After dry brushing, I grab some coconut oil or almond oil and spend a good 10-15 minutes just massaging the oil through my body. Why oil and not a cream moisturizer? According to Ayurveda, you shouldn't put anything in your body that you wouldn't eat because you don't want toxins in the biggest organ of your body, which is your skin. Makes sense doesn't it? Just as I thought putting oils on my face was crazy and now I can't get enough of it, I used to think that using oil as a body moisturizer was going to be a mess! But I promise it isn't, you just need to sit still for a few minutes afterwards to let the oil absorb and that's it! I like to do it right before bed and curl up with a book. You will wake up with the softest skin ever. 

By the way, you don't need any fancy department store body oil in order to achieve this. My favorite places to find good quality oils are Costco, Freshmart or my most recent obsession: iHerb.com, which I happen to have a discount code (AFU8252) if you want 5% off your purchase! You just need an organic, pure and unrefined oil (like this almond oil or this coconut oil) which are usually much cheaper than then ones branded as a beauty staple.

Cost: $0 if you already own a dry brush and oil. $30 at most if you need to purchase these items. Shop them here:

3. Practice Restorative or yin Yoga

I already talked about doing yoga at home in this post, but here's a more relaxing way of practicing yoga at home: Restorative or yin yoga. In the video above you will go over the basics of yin yoga, but it is basically a way to calm down and restore the body from all the stress. It is basically the rest day of your yoga practice. In order to achieve an easy and cheap restorative yoga practice at home you will need at least a yoga mat, a comfy pillow and a good connection to the internet for some free youtube videos like these. 

healing crystals

If you want to take your at home yoga practice to another level (I'm talking #BrujitasDeCloset level) here are some ideas:

You can read more about at home yoga practices here. 

Cost: You decide! My recommendation is to start with a good quality yoga mat and slowly start creating your yoga space. Here are some alternatives:

Cook your favorite food and invite your friends and family over

Self care is not just about enjoying yourself alone, it is also about enjoying yourself surrounded by the people who make you feel good. You know that dinner party you've been meaning to host for a while? Go ahead and plan it! Want to host a brunch with your friends? Do it! Whatever you do for your friends and family, make them feel special and let them know how happy you are to have them in your life. 

Cost: You decide! 

Go for a long walk or hike

Don't ever underestimate the power of bonding with nature. Nothing compares to feeling the breeze brush your skin and smelling the flowers and the grass as you go by. Why do you think I enjoy running outside so much?! It is a grounding experience that we should all prioritize at least 10 minutes daily. On your day off, dedicate an hour to this! Thank me later. 

Cost: You can buy a comfortable pair of tennis shoes for less than $100. (Brooks will always be my #1 choice!)

Finally I wanted to give a heads up that I will be beginning a 30 Day Ayurveda Challenge for Silvia this April, so let me know if you are interested in joining us! Make sure you follow our podcast, Un aguacate a la vez on  FacebookInstagram and Twitter so you don't miss when it happens.

Besos, 

María Elena

Favorites and Fails | February 2018

Beauty, Podcast, wellness, Shopping, Real Talk, LifestyleMaría Elena RodríguezComment
february beauty favorites and fails

Favorites

We launched a Podcast!

Yes, you read that right. My friend from college, Silvia Vallejo and I decided that it was time to put our conversations to good use. O sea, to publish them. The Podcast is called Un aguacate a la vez and we will talk about everything wellness related: from supplements to all the woo woo astrological-mystic stuff! 

You can listen to it today and subscribe on iTunes or Soundcloud! 

Aaron Stewart Home - Love PR

After months of not knowing anything about Fernando Rodríguez from Aaron Stewart Home, I was pleasantly surprised to know how much they've grown and specially battled obstacles since Hurricane María hit them. They took all the devastating energy from the hardest months of modern day Puerto Rico and announced the launch of their new line: LOVE PR. This affordable new line is a capsule collection that will assist victims of Hurricane Maria across the island of Puerto Rico by going directly to The Boys and Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico, The Sato Project, ConPRmetidos, and Instituto Psicopedagogico de Puerto Rico. 

I personally love the t-shirt for working out and their luggage tags

Purina

Purina invited me to a doggie brunch with Fiona and I couldn't be happier!!! They gave us some samples of their new small breed line Purina Bella and Fiona has been loving it!

Quay Australia Black on Black Aviators

I found this during my recent trip to New York this past fall and I haven't been able to put them down! I love how edgy and trendy they look, but most importantly, their price! 

Seeing some progress in Yoga

After doing yoga for almost 6 months now, I can finally see some progress, specially in my chaturangas and crow pose. 

Glossier You Perfume

This is a favorite ever since I got it. Smells spicy yet sweet, but not TOO sweet for the day time. Grab it here. 

Learning to cook vegan

I have been having a lot of fun learning to cook some vegan recipes and sharing them over on Instagram stories. Check out some awesome vegan books here:

Got accepted in the New York Marathon!!!

This girl is running 26.2 miles on November 4, 2018 and I can't even begin to process that. With that being said, expect a lot more posts about running, nutrition and wellness! I will definetely need them... 

Coconut People

Coconut People is a store in Old San Juan that carries a variety of cruelty free beauty products that I've been dying to try. They gave me some products by Mad Hippie that I will start trying now in March to see if it fixes my hormonal breakouts. Check out some of their products here:

Fails

february fails

Beats by Dr. Dre PowerBeats 2

Now that I got accepted to the New York Marathon I am exceptionally mad at this. This is my second pair of PowerBeats by Dr. Dre and they keep failing on me. The battery doesn't last for even 24 hours without use! Ugh, please send me your recommendations for wireless headphones... 

Breaking out!

On February I suffered from some really heavy hormonal breakouts, which is why I'm taking some extra care of my skin this March! 

Overdoing it with Yoga

Yoga was my favorite, but being able to see some progress means that I pushed myself to the limit some days. Yes, I ended up in the chyropractor after failing to do a complete wheel pose. Yikes! 


What were your favorites and fails this month?

Until next time, 

María Elena

Valentine's Day Self Care Gift Guide

Beauty, Entertaining, wellness, LifestyleMaría Elena RodríguezComment
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I know, I have made it pretty clear that I am not a fan of Valentine's Day. If you are new to this blog or don't know what I'm talking about, check out this post and this post

But this year, after all that happened in 2017, I'm a new María Elena and I want to embrace love more than ever. But because I still believe Valentine's Day is just an excuse to make us shop for useless stuff we don't need, I decided to look at V-Day as a self-care day to embrace self-love. The best part? Your friends and/or significant other would truly enjoy and use these gifts!  

Forget about going out to dinner! Self-care is all about feeling cozy and being comfortable in your own skin and who doesn't love some cozy pj's and fuzzy socks for a night in?! But if you decide to have a steamy night with your lucky guy/girl, you can also take your Netflix & Chill time to a whole new level with a cute throw and indulgent aromatherapy like these candles or my current personal favorite, essential oils. And if you are thinking about a Galentines day, why not have a girls night in with some extra fancy skincare like this scrub or this mandarin orange body scrub that I'm dying to try! You can finish the night with a good nourishing recipe from a plant based cookbook like this one

Finally, I decided to throw in a crystal book, because yeah, I've been into some crystal healing magic lately. Thanks Gwyneth! And no, I'm not talking about Breaking Bad, by the way. Let me know if you are not totally weirded out by this topic and I will happily make a post about it. One of you guys already noticed them in one of my Instagram stories

However you decide to spend your Valentine's Day, it's ok. Just remember that you should always be your own priority. Give yourself some love!

Let me know how are you spending this VDay!

Until next time, 

María Elena

Shop this post:

How to Enjoy a Healthy Plant-Based Diet

Lifestyle, wellnessMaría Elena RodríguezComment
how to have a healthy plant based diet

If you've ever decided to stop eating animals or even minimize your animal products consumption, you know the struggle is real. From going out to eat at restaurants, having dinner with the family and learning how to properly get all your nutrients, not because it's especially hard, but because we have to change our mindset completely. Seriously! It's like learning how to cook all over again! But the hardest part, at least for me, is explaining why I don't eat animals. And let me be clear on this: Contrary to what most people think about vegans and vegetarians, 99.9% of the time I don't start this conversation. People want to know why/how and for some weird reason, they feel entitled to give me all types of unsolicited nutritional advice *alternative facts* on why I should eat meat. And if I debunk their theory, they give me their favorite comeback: But plants also suffer when they're killed! (Insert the annoyed gif of your preference here)

I decided to stop eating all types of meats back in September 2017 (yes, right when Hurricane Irma and María hit us) and I promised myself I was going to go easy on myself, just so I didn't fail as I did a few years back. I made a deal with myself that if I wanted to eat chicken one day, I would, if I wanted to drink a latte with cow's milk, I would and if I wanted to eat a cupcake with cream cheese frosting, I would enjoy it without regret. But little by little I stopped craving animal products and started craving real whole foods, mostly because of how great I felt from the inside out every time I ate this way. Nevertheless, I still eat the ocasional egg or cheese, but I gradually crave it less. 

In a nutshell, I enjoy a plant-based diet because of health and ethical reasons. I feel amazing and my gut health is on point, if you know what I mean 💁🏻and just as I only endorse exclusively cruelty-free beauty products, I don't want to contribute to the suffering of innocent animals just for my pleasure. 

So after receiving so many questions about my new lifestyle, which had me actually questioning if I was doing the right thing, even though I have probably done the equivalent of research on the topic as a straight A student, I decided to interview the nutritionist Carla de La Torre from carlaminutricionista.com to know if the plant-based lifestyle is in fact, a healthy alternative. Here's the result:

Can you explain the main difference between a vegetarian and vegan?

Vegetarians exclude all meats, such as beef, pigs, fish and poultry, while vegans don't eat any of these, plus don't eat eggs nor dairy. You can be as strict or as flexible as you want, but obviously, the more strict you are, the more discipline and knowledge you need in terms of nutrition. You need to know how to complement your food so you don't have any nutritional deficiencies.

Instead of labeling ourselves as vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, etc, I like to use the approach of eating "more vegetables and fewer animals". That way we can little by little diminish our animal product consumption.

Is the vegetarian/ vegan diet healthy?

Without a doubt you can be healthy while eating an strict vegan diet. My master's degree tesis is about the Nutritional Habits for Resistance Athletes in Recovery, where I researched how you can recover your muscles without depending on whey protein, steaks, eggs but instead achieving this with quinoa, soy, hemp seeds, peanut butter and other grains. My research concluded that you can be an strict vegan, be a resistance athlete and not have any nutritional deficiencies nor performance problems. 

The only concern with the strictly vegan lifestyle would a B12 deficiency, since you can't find this vitamin in plants, but you can easily supplement it. Plus, even though you can get iron from plants, there is a risk of having an iron deficiency. That's why nutritionists give you the tools and strategies so you can have a healthy, delicious and cost effective plant based diet. I don't want you to only depend on super expensive and processed vegan foods! 

What are the main reasons someone should consider a Plant based diet?

I have three main reasons:

  1. Health - There are many studies that prove that eating meats, processed foods and eating a diet high in saturated fats and cholesterol could cause obesity and can have a damaging effect in cardiovascular health and/or cause colon cancer.

  2. Ecology - Consuming animal products can significantly affect our carbon footprint. The amount of water and soil that is needed to satisfy our omnivorous diet is not sustainable.

  3. Animal Cruelty - A diet with more vegetables and fewer animals is obviously friendlier towards animals.

Instead of labeling ourselves as vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, etc, I like to use the approach of eating “more vegetables and fewer animals”.
— Carla de la Torre

What is the best way to start a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle?

The best way to start a plant based diet is to take it little by little. It is already difficult to eliminate animal products in terms of shopping, changing your recipes, eating out and taking care of our nutrition at the same time. This is why I recommend to start by eliminating the animal products that are worst to our health and go from there. Here's an example:

  1. Processed Meats (hams, sausages, etc) - In nutritional terms, these foods are horrible and they are tightly linked to colon cancer.

  2. Beef and Pork - These meats are also associated with colon cancer as well as other types of cancer.

  3. Poultry - You want to avoid all the hormones induced into these birds.

  4. Fish - I always recommend that you eat fish only two to three times a week and eat a mainly plant based diet every other day. If you stay here, you are considered a pescatarian. 

  5. Eggs and Dairy - If you eliminate these and all of the above, you are considered a vegan. If you only decide to eliminate these, you are a lacto vegetarian. 

You can also become a flexitarian. Most people like to stay here because it is easier in social terms, especially when going out to dinner with friends and make it easier on their family members who still eat meats. 

What If this elimination process doesn't work for someone?

Some people like more extreme or direct approaches towards a healthy lifestyle. In my website I have a section in which I divide a healthy and easy approach to each day of the week: Meatless Monday, No Sugar Tuesday, Colorful Wednesday, Fish Friday, Active Saturday and Delightful Sunday.

The great thing about this approach, specially Meatless Monday, is that it introduces veganism or vegetaniarism without intimidating people. Plus, by grocery shopping for each lifestyle, you will be little by little changing the way you cook and eat for yourself and your family. 

There's also the term "Vegan 'til 5" in  which your breakfast, lunch and snacks are vegan. But in the evening you let yourself eat animal products in order to be more flexible with your social life. 

It's so hard to explain the plant-based diet to older generations. Why do you think this happens?

A lot of people associate this lifestyle with nutritional deficiencies or food shortage, so eating meat is sort of a symbol of wealth. Eliminating meats from our diet is like going back in time in some societies. 

I see this a lot with mothers of teenagers that come to me because they don't approve of their son or daughter's decision of going vegetarian. I have to work with them and  sort of re-program their excess of repeated wrong information from generations before. That's why I love to educate people. 

Is it true that you don't need multivitamins if you have a balanced vegan lifestyle?

This is not a yes or no question, because we have to make some blood tests in order to really know. But in essence, in a well balanced plant based diet you shouldn't need anything more than a B12 supplement.

If someone has celiac disease, is it a good idea to go vegan?

healthy vegan lifestyle

Yes, if the condition is controlled in terms of vitamin absorption.  

A lot of people think that being plant based means not eating gluten also. Why do you think this happens?

Gluten has nothing to do with the vegan or vegetarian diet. Most of the hype around gluten is due to a lot of miss-information from people who want a low carb diet. 

Is it true that you should be careful with the oil intake in a vegan diet?

As long as they are healthy fats, such as avocado, coconut or olive oil, you should have no problem. You should also make sure the amount of fats your eating fit your daily macronutrients. 

What do you think about fitness apps such as my fitness pal and macronutrients?

I would highly suggest you leave this task to your nutritionist, since a lot of times these apps overestimate or underestimate your portions. You want this process to be enjoyable! It is difficult enough to eliminate meats while eating out or going to the supermarket. It is just too much information to process. 

When you go to a nutritionist, we will give you the right portions you should eat to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. 

What do you think about all the food industry documentaries on Netflix?

I think that it is a great way to create awareness among people who don't have studies in nutrition and who have no clue about the pharmaceutical industry. But I do believe that sometimes they create hysteria around these topics, even though they are speaking a lot of the truth. This is why some people may develop orthorexia which is the obsession with eating healthy. 

I think that they usually have a message of judging other people for eating the way they do and you have to be careful with this. I don't want people to feel excluded or rejected by the vegan community. I want them to feel welcomed and not intimidated by the movement. 


If you would like to know more about Carla de la Torre, you can visit her website carlaminutricionista.com. She has several plans to choose from, starting from $80 and they can be completely online! 

ambinity's Vegan Must Haves:

How to Create a Yoga Space at Home

wellness, Lifestyle, HealthMaría Elena RodríguezComment
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I started doing yoga back in August, when I discovered I actually don't hate running. Back then, yoga became my go-to stretching routine after my runs and soon after that, Puerto Rico was hit by two devastating hurricanes. In the midst of all the chaos, yoga became my little piece of heaven and I credit the combination of running and yoga to my mental stability through the most difficult months of my life. I am forever grateful. 

I do yoga when I need a stretch, I do yoga when I'm depressed, I do yoga when I have a back pain, I do yoga when I'm angry and I do yoga when I'm happy. Why? Because yoga is self love and helps you truly realize that the most important relationship in your life is the one you have with yourself, through a connection of mind and body. 

So where do I practice it? I go to free community classes every once in a while (Santurce Yogi by El Estudio La Ciudadela and Lululemon's Roof Top Yoga at Mall of San Juan are my favorites), attend special classes in studios near me and my favorite way to practice; at home. Here's how I do it: 

Setting the stage  

  • High Quality Yoga Mat - I started out with an old workout mat that would move all over the place while doing my downward facing dogs, and yeah... that's not safe. So for my birthday, my boyfriend got me a really good quality yoga mat. I can definetely see the difference in my practice!

  • Yoga Bolster - A restorative yoga game changer. Yes, you can use some pillows or blankets for this, but this is all about creating a yoga studio experience at home. If you haven't practiced restorative yoga yet, you don't know what you're missing. Here are some really good videos to get started.

  • Yoga Blocks - This is a must if you are a beginner. Trying to go deeper on your poses when you are starting out can be really harmful for you! 

  • Aroma Diffuser - This is one of those products that you don't know you need until you get one. Diffusing essential oils help you center you during your practice. My favorite essential oils are peppermint for the day time and lavender for nighttime. 

  • Bluetooth Speakers - You definetely don't need this, but it is nice to listen to your yoga music through good quality speakers. Yoga is about treating yourself! 

  • Comfy Clothes - Yoga is all about feeling comfortable in your own skin. That's why I love doing yoga in comfortable leggings and shirts. I especially love practicing with jackets now in the "colder" months in Puerto Rico. 

  • Warm Lighting - I recently started reading about the benefits of himalayan salt lamps, so my sister got me one for my birthday. You can also hang some fairy lights or light some candles. Basically anything that makes your yoga space look warm and cozy in your terms will work.  

  • Earthy Items - Meaning plants, rocks and crystals. In my personal experience, the more you sync with nature, the better your yoga practice. 

Yoga Videos

Yes, you can buy yoga videos online. But there are so many great yoga channels on Youtube that upload really great quality content each week! Here are my favorites:

  • Yoga with Adriene - If you are not feeling well in any area of your life, physically or mentally, Adriene is your girl. Her classes are pure self love and with over 300 videos to choose from and a witty personality, there's no way you will get bored with this lady. She has a yoga video for almost anyone! Plus, her cute dog makes appearances in her videos every once in a while! I did her Yoga for Tired Legs video after my first 10 mile run and it was h-e-a-v-e-n. 
  • Yoga with Tim - This is how I started practicing yoga for real! I did his 30 Day Total Yoga Body Challenge, which really helped me with learning the foundations of yoga and basic poses. He's your go-to-guy if you really don't like the spiritual side of yoga and you're looking for a great workout. In my opinion, he has one of the best Vinyasa Flow videos on Youtube! 

 

 

Why You Should Stop Caring About What Other People Think

Lifestyle, Real Talk, wellnessMaría Elena RodríguezComment
ambinity girlboss puerto rico

We've all been there. Whether it's from someone who doesn't get us, someone who underestimates us or just someone who diminishes our accomplishments. Caring about what other people think is annoying and it can take the best of us. I hate to say it, but I have been a victim of this my whole life. I especially get triggered when someone doesn't get a glimpse of all the love and hard work I put into everything that I do.

Admit it, we are always judging people. We judge people's past, life decisions and wardrobe choices. It's wrong, we know if, but we still do it. But once you get clear on your life path, you start seeing the world in a totally different light and you stop judging people as much. You start to realize that accomplishing your goals is not easy and that it requires a lot of getting out of your comfort zone and doing things that are not in line with society's norm. I myself, have seen this first hand. I practically put 50% and sometimes 75% of my life out there for people to read, like and share. It's terrifying! 

But this is how I learned to take a step back, look at the bigger picture and ask myself: Why do we need to look for validation for others when we are living out life's true purpose? Here is what I've found:

  • Misery loves company! People who hate their lives usually look for ways to make your life look as miserable as theirs.

  • There's so much beauty behind being underestimated. Work in silence and let success be the noise.

Work in silence. Let success be the noise.

Work in silence. Let success be the noise.

  • Nobody has your life experiences or point of views. Why should you follow someone else's path? You know exactly how to make your situations work for you. If you don't, keep looking. There is no basic template for life.

  • You are the only one in charge of your life. If I paid attention to what other people think or say of me, I would probably be living a totally different life. A miserable life that is.

  • There's beauty in proving people wrong. Follow Bruno Mars' lead and sing "Don't believe me just watch!"

Don't believe me just watch!

Don't believe me just watch!

  • Caring about what other people think of you is a waste of energy. Just imagine using all the energy you have wasted caring about what other people thought into your own projects?!

  • You are not what other people think of you. You are what you think of yourself and you better believe you are a QUEEN!

  • Surround yourself with people who care and support your goals. This is the best way to silence the negative talk!

You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches. = Dita Von Teese

You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches. = Dita Von Teese

Now I want to know about you! How do you manage not caring about what other people think of you?

Until next time, 

María Elena

Bad Habits I Broke in 2017

wellness, Real Talk, Popular, Lifestyle, HealthMaría Elena RodríguezComment

We all have bad habits. Whether we know about them or not, we do. Maybe you've had a problem with sugar, picking on your face for years (🙋🏻) or simply procrastinating too much. The important thing here is knowing exactly what are the things that are holding back with your goals and making a conscious effort to change them. And now that the new year is almost here, it's time to do a recap. 

I think I have talked enough about how much I've changed this year, but in case you're interested, you can click here, here or here. So here are the bad habits I had to break in order to make this huge life transformation. Enjoy! 

complaining about things I could change

  • Recognizing the Bad Habit: By the end of 2016 I was feeling a bit miserable with my life and felt really low energy. But instead of looking for a solution, I was just feeling sorry for myself. 
  • Changing the Bad Habit: You need to change your mindset completely. Every time I didn't like something, I looked for ways I could make it work for me. If I couldn't change it, depending on the case, I would look for ways to get out of it or just make peace with it. 
  • Difficulty Level: 9/10
  • Results: I feel unstoppable and like I can solve almost anything! 

eating meat (All kinds) and processed food

  • Recognizing the Bad Habit: I used to be very health conscious back in my high school and college days, mostly for body image issues. But after I started working full time, I started implementing a YOLO mindset that definetely started projecting in my health. I would eat extremely well for two days and eat fried wings with french fries and dessert during the weekend, because "cheat meals" were ok. 
  • Changing the Bad Habit: After one failed attempt at going vegan about two years ago and watching almost every single documentary on Netflix, I decided to make the plant based lifestyle really happen for me. But this time, I decided to make a less strict approach, in which I would eat 80% vegan just so I had a 20% cushion for cravings. 
  • Difficulty Level: 5/10 (It hasn't been as hard as I thought it would be!)
  • Results: I don't eat any type of animal and even though I eat dairy and eggs 2-3 times a week, I'm craving it less and less. I feel amazing! 

Being overly critical of myself

  • Recognizing the Bad Habit: Like most women, for years I kept criticizing myself for not being skinny enough and comparing myself to others. 
  • Changing the Bad Habit: The best thing you can do to stop criticizing yourself is to start accepting compliments. If someone says you look beautiful in that dress, there's no need to say "Oh! This old thing" or "You think?", just say "Thank you!" and walk away with a little more pride. There is nothing wrong in accepting your awesomeness. 
  • Difficulty Level: 6/10
  • Results: I feel beautiful from the inside out. 

going back to toxic people  

  • Recognizing the Bad Habit: First, I needed to recognize the toxic people in my life. If you have friends who always leave you drained, questioning if some comments were an insult or you just feel a bad vibe around them, maybe you have some toxic people in your life. If when you read this a person popped in your mind, you need to scape soon! 
  • Changing the Bad Habit: Stop making plans with these people and get out of those group messages. Good vibes only, baby. ✌🏽
  • Difficulty Level: 8/10
  • Results: I have the most wonderful tribe of people who I support and they support me! 

working out just because I had to 

  • Recognizing the Bad Habit: I couldn't stick to a fitness routine for more than three months! 
  • Changing the Bad Habit: After absolutely hating running, but being extremely curious about the runner's rush, I set the goal of finishing my first 5K race. Turns out all I needed to kick my bad habit was finding a workout I loved! 
  • Difficulty Level: 9/10 (but so worth it!)
  • Results: I discovered yoga, because it helps me stretch and be more mindful during my runs and I can't stop signing up for races! 

drinking to release stress

  • Recognizing the Bad Habit: I had to open a bottle of wine every single afternoon after work, just to release stress and feel "happier". 
  • Changing the Bad Habit: After I started running every morning, I noticed that my runs weren't as enjoyable if I drank the night before. Also, yoga helped me release all the stress I was feeling from the inside. 
  • Difficulty Level: 7/10
  • Results: Although I still have the ocasional glass of wine, I realized I don't need it to have fun or release stress. 

 


Now that the new year is coming up, what are some bad habits you're breaking in 2018? Let me know!

Don't forget to check out your agenda for the new year here. 

Until next time,

María Elena