#30Daysof Dope September 2016 is DONE! Here's What Happened.




Can you believe the 30th of September has come and gone?! I can't. Last month quite literally flew by.

As my e-mail peeps know, I skipped week 3 here on the blog. No excuses - I just didn't make time for it. I didn't even read The Four Agreements on time - I had to play catch up on week 4!

None of this means that #30DaysofDope was a bust, though. It was quite the opposite. The July cycle was about discipline. September was all about balance. I can't wait to see what December brings (whoops! just dropped a hint right there lol).

Without much delay, let's dive into the last 2 weeks of #30DaysofDope for September. And #DopeFam, we'll be chatting via e-mail this Thursday!

Dope Mind
The third and fourth agreements took me on a roller coaster ride, literally. It was bad enough to be challenged to not take anything personally, but to follow that up with not making assumptions? I was literally reading the pages like, "c'mon, son!" - but there was so much truth and value in Ruiz' words. Making and then believing assumptions is the root cause of a lot of frustration and drama in our lives, because we allow ourselves to live in this space where we're afraid to ask questions and feel burdened with the assumption that we should "already know". We're going to dissect this a little bit more in this week's e-mail, so make sure you drop your e-mail addy in the topbar above this post to get on the #DopeFam e-mail list.

#30Daysof Dope September 2016 is DONE! Here's What Happened.

On another note, how awesome was the fourth agreement, and the awesome timing of #30DaysofDope? Always do your best sent chills down my spine and put a huge grin on my face. Ya'll shoulda seen me in the gym, smiling on the stairmaster. Literally nobody does that.

The reason why the fourth agreement excited me so much was because the message coincided so well with #30DaysofDope. In fact, that pretty much sums up the challenge in four words. Not to mention, Ruiz echoes the sentiment I have expressed throughout the entirety of this challenge - excellence is relative. Your best will look different day to day, hour to hour. Doing your best is about more than X-ing tasks off of a to-do list. Excellence is about being able to look yourself in the mirror and say, "I gave it my best."
#30Daysof Dope September 2016 is DONE! Here's What Happened.

Dope Body
Honestly guys, my body is changing. It's a slowwwwwwwww progression (Jesus it's slow), but it's happening. I don't spend every day in the gym, and every workout isn't on 10. But it's happening, and I'm finally in a space where I feel like hard work and consistency is paying off.

#30Daysof Dope September 2016 is DONE! Here's What Happened.
The Transformation... on the outside.
As I mentioned previously, I started a new meal plan about 2 weeks before #30DaysofDope launched. From then, to the time #30DaysofDope ended, I was able to drop 12 pounds and 4 inches from my waist. It's not one of those surreal 30 day transformations you see on Instagram, but it's movement in the direction of my goals, and for that I am happy and grateful. After all, I'm on a healthy lifestyle mission that won't have me sacrificing birthday parties and family dinners for bench presses and front squats all the time. But I like them all the same :)

#30Daysof Dope September 2016 is DONE! Here's What Happened.
Lower Carb (and fat!) Ground Turkey Tamale Cups. Want the recipe? Let me know in the comments!
Meal prep is still bae, and I'm about that lowered carbohydrate intake life, and finding creative yet palate-pleasing substitutes and tweaks for my favorites. What started out as a test of discipline ultimately has become a way of life. Even Samuel is on board with meal prep. September didn't come without its challenges (it seemed like somebody's birthday was every weekend, lol), but I did the absolute best I could in every situation. Sometimes that meant turning down the glass of wine I really wanted, or having just a spoon of rice with my meal.

And sometimes it meant eating the cake.

Overall, I committed myself to improving my eating habits and following (as best as I could) the macros laid out in my meal plan. Now that I'm learning more about food and fueling my body, I feel a lot more comfortable experimenting in the kitchen. If you follow #30DaysofDope on Instagram, then you know exactly the kind of meals and recipes I'm talking about. Plus, I share the recipes here on the blog too.

Question for my #DopeFam - would you guys be interested in a #DopeRecipes e-book? Just let me know in the comments :)

Dope Spirit
I haven't finished the Fruit of the Spirit devotionals. I said I wasn't going to rush through them, and I meant it. I've made it through love, joy, peace, and patience...and I feel like I want and need to go back and read them again before I move on. Sometimes I feel like when it comes to the Bible, we can pride ourselves on how much we read, or how many scriptures we know by heart.

But how many do we walk out in our daily lives? How much do we commit to understanding?

That's another reason why #30DaysofDope is set up the way it is. I didn't want to take a one-and-done approach to my relationship with God. It requires work, day in and day out. This time around, #30DaysofDope has given me a little something more than just an improved prayer ethic, or scriptures to commit to memory. Through everything that's going on, I've been blessed enough to experience the tip of the iceberg when it comes to God's peace. I'm not anxious or frantic. I don't feel overwhelmed. I find myself praying for others more than I pray for myself. I'm working on spreading positivity, and letting God truly shine through my actions and interactions with others. I ain't nowhere near perfect - but I'm trying. Some days are better than others, but I'm giving it what I got.

Sometimes you gotta....
The Big Takeaway
Peace. Perspective. Balance. Just three of the things that this cycle of #30DaysofDope has taught me, and continues to teach me. #30DaysofDope isn't a magic bullet or one stop shop solution. It's about truly connecting mind, body, and spirit on the path forward to personal excellence. Just because September is over doesn't mean I stop or you stop. We keep going. The dopeness continues, so stay tuned for more. And don't forget to drop your e-mail in the topbar above this post - I'll be sharing testimonials from September cycle participants, tips on how to keep forward momentum, and more!

Stay tuned, #DopeFam!

Catch up on the September 2016 cycle here!
Week 1 Update
Week 2 Update

What is #30DaysofDope? Read about the challenge here!

Y'all. Y'all. YAWL. Can you believe the 30th of September has come and gone?! I ca...

#30DaysofDope Update: Week 2

It's day 15. We're at the literal half point of #30DaysofDope.

Crazy, right?

Summer is pretty much officially gone. As I type this update, I'm in my office, at my desk, wrapped in the most heavenly of blankets. I would show you a picture, but the truth is, I've probably got eye crust going on and I know my hair is a hot mess. So I'll spare you that tragedy.

Let's dive in to week 2. I've got some juicy deets for ya!

Dope Mind
Straight up, The Four Agreements is taking me on a journey. And this week's stop along that path has totally thrown me for a loop. I have been simultaneously juggling trying to act out the first agreement (be impeccable with your word) while digesting the concept of the second agreement (don't take anything personally).

Here's me, having an imaginary conversation with Don Miguel Ruiz in my mind while reading the second agreement:

Me: So... like...I'm supposed to not take the fact that this man gave me the finger on the freeway personally?

Ruiz: Yep.

Me: And if someone talks ish about me behind my back, I'm supposed to let it just ride?

Ruiz: Pretty much.

Me: Oh, and the chick that keeps plagarizing my work? That's supposed to be cool?

Ruiz: It's not cool, but it ain't got nothing to do with you.

Me: Hmph.

Clearly, I'm wrestling with this chapter - even though I'm very familiar with the concept. See what the second agreement requires is a shift in perspective, a move beyond yourself and your particular set of lenses for viewing the world and everyday interactions with people. And in the weeks ahead, I'm gonna be grappling with this agreement, because I'm the person that looks for the underlying meaning in everything. I read between lines that ain't even there.

The Four Agreements
If I'm walking into a building behind someone and they don't push back the door to keep it open, I'm ready to pop off - because I feel disrespected. Oh, and don't even let me get started about the time I almost went bats**t crazy when a girl in a fast food restaurant called me a "stupid b***h" (I told y'all, God has brought me from a mighty long way). I don't tolerate rudeness, disrespect, shade, or being called out of my name well AT ALL. Oh and don't even get me started about what happens if I detect a hint of racism.

I say all that to say, I've got some work to do. If I'm truly going to be who God has called me to be, I have to take the second agreement and live it out. And just like last week, I'm talking about this a little bit more in depth with my #DopeFam via e-mail. So look for that later this morning! Not on the list? Drop your e-mail in that pink top bar!

Dope Body
This is one area in which I'm legitimately proud of myself. Last week, I said I was in the process of pushing out of my comfort zone in the gym. This week, I'm keeping that move going strong - and it's paying off. What's funny is that at the beginning of the year, I said I wanted to be able to squat 200lbs, deadlift 200lbs, and bench 150lbs before December 31st.

About a month ago, I hit that squat goal and exceeded it by 5lbs. Deadlift, I'm maxing out at 185 (my hamstrings need some work). And my bench goal? I'm nowhere near it - currently maxing at 95lbs. And we're on the precipice of the 4th quarter of 2016. My goals aren't changing, but my approach is. See, a few months ago I was in a rush to get there, so I was lopping on plate after plate - seeking to be the "strong girl" in the gym. But my form was wack. My motivation was off.

Now, even though it's late in the year, I'm taking a few steps back. Working on form. Building the stamina. The endurance. The strength. Doing things the right way, so that when I hit the goal, I know I worked for it, chiseled away at it, and didn't rush the process.

#30DaysofDope Update: Week 2

Ultimately, I'm realizing that through consistent effort in the gym and in the kitchen, the goals I want to achieve are within reach. It's not gonna happen in 30, 60, or 90 days (like some folks on Instagram want you to believe) - but I'm really casting my vision 2-3 years out and celebrating the small wins along the way. I'll be sharing my wins at the end of this cycle - so stay tuned!

My #mealprep game is on point - and even though I'm still doing this low carb, high-er protien situation, I don't feel super deprived or like I hella miss carbs. In fact, in some ways my meal plan has re-ignited my passion for cooking. Every few days or so, I find myself itching to test drive some internet recipe (to see if it's actually good or not), or challenging myself to make a more macro-friendly version of the foods I enjoy. And it's fun. As a matter of fact, if you haven't already, check out the Dope Recipes tab here on the site, because I'll be updating as I discover new recipes and ways to create food that's better for you and actually tastes good.

#30DaysofDope Update: Week 2

But I'm by no means perfect - I have my weak moments and it seems like there's been challenge after challenge this month. Restaurants every weekend for birthdays. Special gatherings with food. I shoulda took a picture of my meal at California Pizza Kitchen for y'all. It was hilarious. I literally ordered Kung Pao Spaghetti with chicken and shrimp, and ate the meat and 1 forkful of spaghetti. I literally left a bowl of wet noodles behind. Next time, I'll order Kung Pao Spaghetti with no spaghetti, lol.

And I did eat a crazy amount of cookie dough on Tuesday this week, but on this Instagram post, I share why I'm not trippin.

Dope Spirit
This week, I spent some time reading in the Before the Cross: Fruit of the Spirit devotional lesson centered on peace. And this is where I start getting excited about #30Daysof Dope, because the texts that I'm reading start speaking to each other. In truly seeking God's peace - the peace that can't be swayed by the thoughts, opinions, and actions of others, nor by my circumstances - I have to actively learn to not take anything personally.

Did you catch that?

God's peace - the peace that surpasess all understanding, isn't something fleeting. It doesn't disappear when my bank account looks funny, or only exist in me when everything's all good. But I have to do my part. I can't be tossed about by every situation and circumstance. I have to make it a priority every day, to trust God.

And for someone as strong-willed as me, it's definitely a process.

But God has shown me more than enough times, that He is in control. So whenever I'm feeling anxious, antsy, stressed, or like a certain situation isn't moving how I planned for it to - I have to seek God's peace. My favorite scripture for this - which turned up in the devotional - is Philippians 4:6-7:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
One thing I love about this passage of scripture is that it doesn't say "tell God what you want, an you'll get it". God isn't some cosmic genie that we call on to get a new car, job, house, or boyfriend. But what he does give us is his peace - something that money can't buy. Peace is what holds us over when we're looking for that new job, car, or significant other. Peace is what allows us to approach these situations with the perspective that God has tailor-made blessings for each and every one of us

We just gotta trust Him :)

Well folks, that's all I got for this week! I wanna know how your week went too! Drop your updates  in the comments below - or e-mail me at christina[at]30daysofdope.com.

Talk to you soon, #DopeFam!
If you missed the week 1 update, click here to catch up!

It's day 15. We're at the literal half point of #30DaysofDope. Crazy, right? Summer...

#DopeRecipe: The BEST Low-Carb Pizza EVER! Fat Head Pizza is REAL.
Jamaican Jerk Chicken & Shrimp Low-Carb Pizza
One of the hardest things about going low-carb is having to exercise extreme moderation or eliminating altogether some of my favorite things in the world.
Like hunks of Celebration and Chocolate Marble cake from SusieCakes. 

And Pizza.

Not to say that I haven't been to SusieCakes since starting my meal plan (Samuel's birthday was definitely the 3rd), but I kept it reasonable. Instead of a lifetime supply of cake in the form of one gargantuan (albeit delicious) slice of cake, I had a cupcake and kept it moving.

But the one thing I hadn't been able to do? Pizza. I love me some pizza - Pizza Hut or Blaze Pizza used to make a weekly or bi-weekly appearance prior to the #mealpreplife. And as much as #iffym (if it fits your macros) is a thing for me, some foods just make it really difficult to bounce back and round out macros for the day. 

You guessed it - for me, Pizza is one of those foods. 

So I took to the internet, wondering if there was such a thing as low-carb pizza that actually tastes like pizza. Not some protien-crust infused monstrosity that I'd have to delude myself into thinking tastes like protein - but a legit delicious crust that looks, tastes, and feels like pizza crust. 

And I found it!

I discovered tons of low-carb and keto websites talking about something called "Fat Head Pizza", and I'm not gonna lie to you guys - I didn't have the desire to research the backstory on why it's called that, the documentary it came from, or why any of that even matters. Sometimes, I just need the solution. 

So without further delay, I'm gonna hit you with the recipe and how-to for my newfound favorite pizza crust that allows me to enjoy a MUCH more reasonable version of one of my favorite fork-less foods.

#DopeRecipe: The BEST Low-Carb Pizza EVER! Fat Head Pizza is REAL.
Top Row: Ingredients for my Jamaican Jerk Pizza. Bottom Row: Ingredients for pizza crust.
Ingredients for Pizza Crust
+ 170g (6oz or 1 and 3/4 cups)  mozzarella cheese (I used Market Pantry Part-Skim Low Moisture)
+ 85g (3oz or 3/4 cup) almond flour (I used Bob's Red Mill Super Fine Almond Flour/Meal)
+ 2 tablespoons cream cheese
+ 1 egg
+ optional: seasonings to taste (I used a pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt, garlic, and dried basil)

Ingredients for Pizza Topping
So far, I've made 3 pizzas using this crust recipe - Ham & Cheese, BBQ Chicken, and a spinoff of CPK's Jamaican Jerk with Chicken and Shrimp. This is where your personal preferences come in to play. To keep your carb count lower, avoid tomato and pizza sauces with tons of sugar - although I've used BBQ sauce and Pineapple Habanero sauce and still managed to keep things reasonable (under 20g of carbs per slice). As an example, I'm going to share with you what I used to craft the BBQ Chicken Pizza:

+ 1 and 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese (same as used in the crust)
+ 368g (approximately 4) cooked boneless skinless chicken thighs, diced
+ 1/4 green bell pepper, sliced
+ 1/2 cup Trader Joe's Tomato Basil Marinara, cooked (to thicken)

Tools & Utensils
+ small microwave-safe bowl for mixing crust
+ non-stick or silicone spatula for mixing
+ baking sheet or pizza pan (here's the one I have - it's amazing)
+ measuring utensils or food scale
+ cutting board and knife (for toppings prep)
+ cheese grater (if not using pre-shredded cheese)

Instructions for Pizza Crust & Toppings
The key to this pizza is to fully prepare the crust and toppings first. Pre-heat your oven to 400F. 

While your oven is heating, take the time to prep your toppings. If you're going to be using meats like chicken, shrimp, sausage, etc - cook them first. For my BBQ Chicken Pizza, I cooked the boneless, skinless chicken thighs on the stove, then chopped them and mixed in the Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce. Sautee any veggies (I did a quick sautee on the bell pepper as well), and shred cheese (if necessary). Also prepare your sauce over low heat. Set aside.

In a small, microwave-safe bowl, combine the mozzarella cheese, almond flour, and cream cheese. Do not mix - just toss the bowl in your microwave on HIGH for 1 minute ONLY. Remove the bowl after 1 minute and stir with a non-stick spatula. If your cheeses have sufficiently melted enough to soften and start taking the shape of a dough, do not put it back in the microwave. If it has not, put it in the microwave again for another 15-20 seconds - but no more than 30. It's super important to not overcook the cheese in the microwave. I find that 1 minute is enough time.

#DopeRecipe: The BEST Low-Carb Pizza EVER! Fat Head Pizza is REAL.
Mix. Knead. Roll. Bake.
Once your cheeses have melted, begin mixing to form dough. Fold in 1 egg and your seasonings (optional). At this stage, I find it works best to knead the dough by hand. Kneed the dough into a ball.

After mixing your dough, grab two long (at least 16-20 inches) sheets of parchment paper. Place the dough between the two sheets, and use your rolling pin to flatten the dough into a circular crust (or shape of preference). Feel free to roll the dough as thick or thin as you like - I prefer the dough on the thin side to make more generous slices.

Once you've achieved the desired thickness, remove top sheet of parchment paper, and place the crust (with parchment paper still underneath), onto your baking sheet or pizza pan.

#DopeRecipe: The BEST Low-Carb Pizza EVER! Fat Head Pizza is REAL.
Crust looks like this while baking
Bake on 400F until the crust begins to brown (about 12-14 minutes for thinner crust).

#DopeRecipe: The BEST Low-Carb Pizza EVER! Fat Head Pizza is REAL.
After baking: top side
#DopeRecipe: The BEST Low-Carb Pizza EVER! Fat Head Pizza is REAL.
After baking: bottom side
Remove crust from the oven and set aside to cool for a moment.

DO NOT turn your oven off yet. 

Gather your sauce and toppings that you had previously prepared. For my BBQ Chicken Pizza, I spread the Tomato Basil Marinara evenly around first, following up with mozzarella cheese.

After that, I distributed the BBQ Chicken and bell peppers. 

Once your pizza has been crafted, pop it back in the oven for another 5-7 minutes - enough to melt the cheese down. That's why it's important to prepare your toppings ahead of time - the amount of time required for them to cook in the oven would cause the crust to burn.

#DopeRecipe: The BEST Low-Carb Pizza EVER! Fat Head Pizza is REAL.
The finished product.
Remove, cool a little (until the cheese stops actively bubbling), slice and enjoy!

#DopeRecipe: The BEST Low-Carb Pizza EVER! Fat Head Pizza is REAL.
A lil' closeup on BBQ Chicken Pizza realness.
Macros for my BBQ Chicken Pizza (per slice - makes 8 'large size' slices):
+ 258 calories
+ 22.6g protein
+ 9.1g carbs
+ 15.4g fat
+ 5.2g sugar

Compared to a generic/general large slice of BBQ Chicken Pizza
+ 350 calories
+ 19g protein
+ 41g carbs
+ 13g fat
+ 6g sugar

#DopeRecipe: The BEST Low-Carb Pizza EVER! Fat Head Pizza is REAL.
A cross-section of the crust. Looks, feels, and tastes like regular crust.
Tip: If you want to further cut carbs and fat, try experimenting with 2% mozzarella on top of the crust and eliminating sugary sauces. 

But overall, we're talking less calories, A LOT less carbs, a little less sugar, and more protein. Not a bad deal at all! And not to mention - it tastes GREAT! I'll take this pizza over Pizza Hut ANY day. Plus, it doesn't leave me feeling heavy and sluggish...and it's KID & GROWN FOLK TESTED! I gave the BBQ Chicken and Ham & Cheese pizzas to my newphews over the weekend, and they LOVED it. Samuel loved all three - BBQ Chicken, Ham & Cheese, and his favorite is the Jamaican Jerk Chicken & Shrimp. My sister was mad skeptical at first - but she sho' did grab a slice of BBQ Chicken when dropping off my nephews, and a slice of Ham & Cheese when picking 'em up. Lol.

If you try this one out - let me know on Instagram or in the comments below!

Jamaican Jerk Chicken & Shrimp Low-Carb Pizza One of the hardest things about going low-car...

#30DaysofDope Update: The First 7 Days

Yo! I can't believe the first week of #30DaysofDope is over that quickly! I guess time flies when you're tryna be excellent, eh?

Here's a quick pulse check on ow the first week went for me. If you got my e-mail this morning, then just reply to that or hit me at christina[at]30daysofdope.com to let me know how you fared this first week!

Let's dive right in.

Dope Mind
Reading The Four Agreements is really taking me on a journey to confront some of my own challenges, forreal. I mean, the first agreement alone - be impeccable with your word - is heavy. This ain't no "word is bond, son" type deal either. Being impeccable with your word is about realizing that your words have power - and with that power comes responsibility. We have to monitor closely the things we say to others, to ourselves, and that others say to us.

Easier said than done.

Now, before you haul off thinking I'm all high and mighty and got it together - let me tell you I struggle with this daily. Most of the time, I'm even-tempered, easygoing, and can carefully craft my words so as to not be hurtful or rude.

All of that goes out the window when I'm driving.

I'm sure you've heard the stories about traffic in LA. And the road rage. It's all true - times a million. And because of this, I find myself driving for what I like to call "maximum efficiency" - getting from point A to point B and back to point A avoiding traffic as much as possible.

In my errand running Tuesday morning (FedEx, Costco, Trader Joe's), I found myself in a verbal altercation of sorts. Long story short, this dude swung out onto the street and almost hit my car. As I honked and swerved to avoid him, he proceeded to edge alongside me and hurl expletives at me - as if the incident was my fault.

#30DaysofDope Update: The First 7 Days

I could have ignored him. But I didn't. I REALLY wanted to hop out of my car and see if he was about that life, but it's a new season and God is working on me. But I did get caught up in the moment and yelled right back.

Normally, I would have driven off in a huff, and muttered to myself about where I'd like to stick my foot, but instead I found myself praying and asking God to forgive me. Because I know better. I'm supposed to be doing better. And that's what this is about. Knowing, doing, and being....better.

My mini goal for the following week? I'm gonna stop cussing people out (loud) and in my head while driving. Pray for me. No seriously - please do. The road rage struggle is real.

For a little more in-depth discussion about The Four Agreements and how it relates to the #30DaysofDope journey, check out the e-mail I sent this morning. Oh, and if you're not on the list - drop your e-mail addy in the pink topbar above. Don't worry - I don't e-mail my #DopeFam annoyingly.

Dope Body
Okay, can I just say that meal prep is a gift from the heavens above?

I'm sure you're looking at me like I'm tripping somethin serious. But hear me out.

My single biggest challenge with #30DaysofDope during the July cycle was food intake. I started off then, simply by measuring portions. But alas, I discovered when I got a meal plan, that I was eating too many carbohydrates. And that was simply because I loved carbs in all their forms - bread, pasta, rice, chocolate... you get the drift. In my meal prep, I aim to be low carb and high protein to meet my fitness goals.

#30DaysofDope Update: The First 7 Days

And so far, so good. If you follow me on Instagram, or my other blog snapchat (maneobjective) then you've seen #mealprep in action. I literally cook whatever I want - just modified (if necessary) to fit my macros. One of my favorite recipes thus far has been the Low Carb Chinese Chicken & Broccoli Stir Fry - because it's easy, flavorful, and gives greasy Chinese takeout a run for its money. Click here for that recipe!

Also, I can't express how clutch my Neocell Collagen Sport protein powder has been. I talked about why I love this protein so much, and the benefits of collagen for hair, skin, and body in depth here. And I even shared an easy Protein Caramel Iced Coffee recipe. Most days I need it, just to get to my protein goal. It also makes an amazing quick breakfast option (as I shared here on Instagram) for those of us who actually struggle to eat a decent breakfast - or eat breakfast at all.

#30DaysofDope Update: The First 7 Days

As far as the gym is concerned, my workouts have been consistent. To be completely transparent with you all, I'm in the process of breaking out of a place of complacency. I do this weird thing in the gym sometimes. I'll struggle initially with something like, running 30 second sprints. Then I'll get to a place that feels good - like I'm in control and not about to pass out on the gym floor. So I keep doing that, never moving the speed, incline, or even length of time running up (or decreasing the rest time). Essentially, I get comfortable where I am. And I stay there.

#30DaysofDope Update: The First 7 Days

I kid you not, I took me the entire first week to realize that I'm in one of those comfortable zones right now. The good news is yesterday (literally day 7), I started the process of breaking out. Upping the ante. Stepping faster on the stairmaster (my frenemy lol). Doing the extra 2 reps. Making sure with each exercise I was challenging myself - either by doing heavier weight, more reps, or perfecting my form.

But the kicker - without having my mind right and telling myself  that I was more than capable, I couldn't have done it.

That's that mind-body connection for ya.

Dope Spirit
One of the habits I developed during the July #30DaysofDope cycle was that of just talking to God. Not putting on some liturgical dance, or using a bunch of lofty words - but literally just talking to God. Asking Him to guide my day. Talking to Him about whatever was on my heart. Asking Him to cover and keep my loved ones.

As that habit continues, I find myself looking at His word a little differently. Not just as a scripture to commit to memory - but really deep diving for understanding. That's why I'm in no rush to move through the Before The Cross: Fruit of the Spirit devotional. I've read through Love and Joy, and I'm going to go back and read them again. For understanding and application.

One of ways I know God is working, is by confirmation. As I worked the devotional and scriptures about Joy, I found myself smiling and nodding in church on Sunday - because guess what the sermon was about? Getting your hope back. Getting your joy back. It gave me goosebumps.

Well, that about wraps up week 1. Sorry this post was so long - I'm sure they'll get a little shorter as the weeks go on. Oh - and don't forget to tell me how things are going on your end, I wanna know! Drop 'em  in the comments below - or e-mail me at christina[at]30daysofdope.com.

Talk to you soon, #DopeFam!

Yo! I can't believe the first week of #30DaysofDope is over that quickly! I guess time flies ...

Welcome to #30DaysofDope! Here's 5 Tips to Kick Off the Day.

If you're reading this, the first thing I want to say is thank you. Thank you for your support, your encouragement, and for joining me on this journey to personal excellence. I'm just a hair blogger - so the fact that you're willing to take this pivot with me, means a lot.

Today is day 1 of 30, and I've got this intense combination of excitement and trepidation swirling inside of me. I'm anxious to see who I'll be at day 30. But I know I can't get too far ahead of myself (even though I'm great at that) - one day at a time is where it's at.

So, this is day 1. And here are 5 tips for kicking off day 1 and setting the trajectory for the 29 days to follow. I'll be referring back to this list often to remind myself to stay the course.

Let's go:

1. Prep. Prep. Prep.
I don't know if you can relate to this at all - but nothing excited me like the first day of school. From elementary through my senior year of high school, that giddy excitement carried over into me setting out clothes, shoes, and making lunch the night before. And I got a strange high off getting new school supplies (don't judge me). New pens. New paper. New folders. I diligently prepped my backpack sometimes a week in advance of my first day. I channeled some of that same energy here - by rising early to get the party started. What that means is, making sure my iPad is good n' charged for reading the Bible and The Four Agreements. Prepping my gym bag for today's workout after work. Setting alarms for daily Bible reading. Meal prepping. Cleaning my work/blogging office up - because I'm a huge believer in the power of your environment. Prep for me may look different than prep for you, but the spirit is all the same. To avoid rushing and last minute terrible decisions that derail me from my goals, I'm setting myself up for success on day 1. Cause Suga Free said it best - if you stay ready, you ain't got to get ready.

2. Create a morning routine.
Today is Thursday, which means like most of you guys, I'm off to work. Although I work from home, the mental energy required to shift myself into work mode (and not say, screw off half the morning watching YouTube reviews in bed) is the same. So to keep myself in line, here's what I'm committing to every morning:

+ Bible, devotional reading, and prayer.
+ Shower and making the bed (if you make the bed, you're less likely to get back in it)
+ Some sort of physical activity (stretching, squats, elliptical...something to get my blood going)
+ Drinking my NeoCell Protein Smoothie (breakfast) with unsweetened Almond Milk

Creating a morning routine will help put me on autopilot, and minimize the amount of wasted time  and mental energy spent making small decisions. With more efficient time management and a reserve of brain power, I'll be mentally ready to attack the work day and give the best to maneobjective.com and my #30DaysofDope community.

3. Keep a positive quote nearby.
I'm a visual person, and I always find having visual reminders nearby to be extremely helpful. Whether it be changing your phone background, sticking a Post-It on your monitor, or dedicating a whiteboard to it, keeping some positive reinforcement somewhere readily accessible will pull you through the slumps or snap you back to attention when your mind starts drifting. It can be a quote, a single word, or a favorite scripture. I have a whiteboard next to my desk with 1Thessalonians 5;16-18 written on it - to help shape my perspective over the next 30 days:

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

4. Keep your goals handy.
In addition to mindset, and not setting myself up for success, another reason my goals and plans fall through is because I simply don't look at them. I can't be the only person that set a goal in January, forgot about it, and set the same goal again the next January because it never got met. Time to switch things up and actually do what we said we were gonna do. For us, that means keeping the #30DaysofDope prep list handy, along with your own notes and goals for the month. Wherever you have them - keep 'em somewhere you'll look often. If you need the PDF of picture version of the prep list, drop me an e-mail at christina[at]30daysofdope.com and I'll send it to you! #accountability

5. Tell a friend.
Dope: telling a friend you're doing #30DaysofDope and them agreeing to help hold you accountable. Even doper: having a friend join you in the process. My sister and 2 of our friends are joining me in #30DaysofDope, so I feel incredibly blessed to be able to have a strong support network behind me and vice versa. Even if your friends aren't down, still sharing your plans and goals with them will help you in staying the course because your goals have gone from this very, very private thing - to something that other people know about. It's another layer of accountability, and helping you keep your promises to yourself. Plus, having a support system to lean on is vital to this process. So if you haven't already, join the e-mail list (or e-mail me at christina[at]30daysofdope.com) and follow the Instagram @30daysofdope. I'll be your support - we're building a community here.

Do you have any tips for kicking off a personal challenge? Share in the comments below or on Instagram with the hashtag #30daysofdope!

If you're reading this, the first thing I want to say is thank you.  Thank you for your s...

#DopeRecipe: Low-Carb Chinese Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry



Can I just say, this recipe is lit. I don't mean to brag or boast, but I've been trying to hone my Chinese culinary skills for a minute - and it's always been hit or miss. Today, my dear friends, we have a certified hit on our hands.

I first debuted this dish on Snapchat Instagram for #MealPrepMonday, and the response was awesome. I'm all for my people, so when the recipe requests rolled in - I happily obliged. Get ready to experience a Chinese food dupe that's full of flavor, low in carbs, high in protein, a LOT healthier than the take-out version, and super easy to make. You'll be so enamored with the flavor, you won't even care there's no rice underneath.

Let's get started.

Note: The portions/amounts I'm using reflect approximately 6 meal prep servings. You can feel free to tweak/switch up the recipe to fit your macro and meal prep needs.

Ingredients for Chinese Brown Sauce
+ 2 cups water
+ 1 tablespoon Better Than Bullion Reduced Sodium Chicken Base (or just swap this and the water   for 2 cups of chicken stock if you have it)
+ 4 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
+ 3 tablespoons brown sugar (although I'd recommend 2 tablespoons for less sweetness)
+ 3 cloves of minced garlic (I use the frozen Dorot garlic cubes)
+ 1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
+ 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
+ 1 tablespoon corn starch

#DopeRecipe: Low-Carb Chinese Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry
Chicken on le grill.
Ingredients for Stir Fry
+ 1088g boneless skinless chicken thighs (approximately 9-10 pieces of chicken)
+ 600g frozen broccoli florets (I used Earthbound Farm Organics)
+ 1/4 to 1/2 sliced red bell pepper (I used 1/4 because that's all that was in the fridge)
+ 1/4 of an onion sliced
+ Himalayan Pink Salt
+ Coarse ground pepper
+ Granulated garlic
+ Granulated onion
+ Paprika
+ 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
+ cooking spray

Tools & Utensils
+ 1 large pot or wok
+ 1 small pot
+ cutting board and knife
+ slotted spoon
+ spoons (for tasting)
+ whisk
+ food scale and measuring utensils (if you're prepping)
+ small and large bowl and container for transporting/mixing ingredients
+ outdoor grill (optional but recommended)

Note: to avoid introducing too much water into your stir fry, take your broccoli out of the freezer and let it thaw as you begin cooking. Or, just use fresh broccoli.

Instructions for Chinese Brown Sauce
First, prepare your Chinese Brown Sauce. Bring the water and Better than Bullion Reduced Sodium Chicken Base to a simmering boil. Again - you can also swap this for 2 cups of already made chicken stock if you have it. Add in your low sodium soy sauce, brown sugar, and garlic. Whisk until flavors are well blended and the sugar is dissolved completely. Add in toasted sesame oil and rice wine vinegar, again whisking until flavors are well blended.

Once the flavors are well blended, grab a spoon and taste your mixture. It should taste faintly of teriyaki - but more savory with only a hint of sweetness. Feel free to tweak the recipe and make it to your liking at this point - adding more soy sauce, a little ginger, red chili flakes for spice, more sesame oil, etc. However you want your sauce to taste, now's the time to add that stuff in.

After you've got your brown sauce where you want it, grab a small bowl, and spoon out approximately 3 tablespoons of the brown sauce mixture. Add in your corn starch, and whisk quickly to create a slurry. Quickly add your slurry back to the sauce and stir vigorously for approximately 1 minute, to make sure the corn starch is well blended and will help thicken your sauce. Lower the heat and let the brown sauce cook until it thickens enough to coat the whisk and not immediately run off (approximately 5 minutes). At this point, turn the fire off and let your sauce cool - because it's chicken time.

#DopeRecipe: Low-Carb Chinese Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry
Stir Fry riiiiight before the brown sauce.
Instructions for Stir Fry
First things first, let's season up the chicken - unlike BuzzFeed Tasty (#shade lol). Keeping the seasoning profile on this one super simple allows the Chinese Brown Sauce to really shine through. Season your chicken with Himalayan Pink Salt, coarse black pepper, granulated garlic, granulated onion, and paprika to taste. After the chicken is thoroughly seasoned, pour the grapeseed oil on and mix the chicken again for a light, even coating.

Next, you've got a few options as to how to cook the bird. My personal recommendation is on an outdoor grill if you have one. The char on the chicken melds beautifully with the Chinese Brown Sauce and really makes this dish a winner. But if you can't or just don't want to, pan fry it (no oil needed) on top of the stove.

After the chicken is completely cooked, let it rest and cool enough to not be super hot to the touch. After the chicken has sufficiently cooled, slice it into thick pieces and set aside.

In a large pot or wok, spray cooking spray and add sliced onion and bell peppers. Sautee on medium high heat until tender. Add in slicked chicken thighs and broccoli. Stir until broccoli is tender. Add in Chinese Brown Sauce and stir until all ingredients are coated. Let it simmer, stirring occasionally for about 5-6 minutes.

Portion out, or eat it directly out of the pot. Either way, enjoy!

#DopeRecipe: Low-Carb Chinese Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry
Meal prep portions.
Macros for Chinese Brown Sauce Per Serving (makes 10 servings)
+ 29 calories
+ 0.5g protein
+ 6g carbs
+ 0.3g fat
+ 4.3g sugar

Macros for Stir Fry Per Serving (makes 6 servings)
+ 245 calories
+ 41.1g protein
+ 6.8g carbs
+ 7.1g fat
+ 0g sugar

Pretty dope, right? If you try this recipe out, give me a holler on Instagram @ 30DaysofDope or let me know in the comments below!

Y'all. Y'all. Can I just say, this recipe is lit. I don't mean to brag or boast, ...

#DopeRecipe: Protein Caramel Iced Coffee

Are you ready for September 1st? I am. And right now, I'm laying the foundation for dopeness by compiling some of my favorite culinary tips, recipes, and reviews to share with you all here. Today is a special one for my Starbucks lovers! The Iced Caramel Coffee with Cream is a popular drink (next to the Caramel Frapp, of course) but both are not the business for #dopebody goals.

If you're on my e-mail list, then you got the PDF of the #30DaysofDope prep checklist, and if you read the blog post, then you know I'm 137% about that meal prep life now. I had a meal plan designed by my friend Kohran of A-1 Lifestyle, and he laid out my meal plan with macro and calorie goals to a tee. Without getting into the nitty gritty details, I had to cut a LOT of carbs. And carbs just doesn't mean rice, bread, or pasta - it means sugar, too.

That said, a trip to Starbucks would easily consume alllll my carbs for the day and then some. To kick my hankering for a coffee drink and switch up breakfast, I played around in the kitchen and created a Protein Caramel Iced Coffee drink.

This drink is full of vanilla and caramel flavor, while being sweet - but not too sweet. Just a warning: in this recipe I use decaf coffee (I had to, I was consuming too much caffeine drinking coffee AND pre-workout daily) - but you can feel free to swap that with your fave. Even with the decaf, I had tons of energy and it kept me satisfied until lunchtime thanks to Neocell Collagen Sport Recovery Protein. It's seriously amazing - click here to read the review and discover the connection between collagen, protein, weight loss, healthy hair, and great skin!

Let's get to this recipe. It tastes great and the macros are dope. Here we go:

#DopeRecipe: Protein Caramel Iced Coffee

+ 5oz decaf coffee (I used Sprouts Organic French Roast Decaf K-Cups)
+ 4oz Califia Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
+ 2 tablespoons Califia Pecan Caramel Almond Creamer
+ 2 tablespoons Walden Farms Caramel Sauce (1 tablespoon in the mix, 1 tablespoon for garnish)
+ 1 scoop Neocell Collagen Sport Recovery Protein in French Vanilla
+ 6-8 cubes of ice

Tools & Utensils
+ Blender (I use a Ninja with the single-serving Nutri Cup)
+ Measuring cup or food scale with fluid ounces
+ Measuring spoon

Brew your coffee or espresso and let it cool to at least room temperature. Add all ingredients into the Nutri Ninja or single serve blender cup, along with 4 ice cubes.

Blend until completely mixed together. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of Walden Farms Caramel Sauce around the top to finish.

If you would like the Starbucks effect, transfer blended drink to another container, drizzle Walden Farms Caramel Sauce around the sides of the cup, and return drink to the Nutri Ninja cup. Add 4 or more ice cubes to keep drink cool.

Sip and enjoy!

#DopeRecipe: Protein Caramel Iced Coffee

Macros for this recipe:
+ 172 calories
+ 30.6g protein
+ 7.4g carbs
+ 4g fat
+ 4g sugar

#DopeRecipe: Protein Caramel Iced Coffee

Macros for Venti Starbucks Caramel Iced Coffee with Cream:
+ 180 calories
+ 4g protein
+ 36g carbs
+ 2g fat
+ 36g sugar

If you try this recipe out, let me know in the comments or on Instagram @ 30DaysofDope! I'll probably tweak it soon to duplicate a Starbucks Caramel Frapp!

Are you ready for September 1st? I am. And right now, I'm laying the foundation for dopeness ...