Make Your Own Rules Diet by Tara Stiles

When I was younger, I wasn’t a picture of health. My mom will tell you differently (MOM if you’re listening… I had glasses, no boobs, and long crimped hair. I was not cute), but I was, frankly, overweight for my age and had zero self-confidence. I didn’t like the way I looked or how I felt.

By the time I reached high school, my brain was already infiltrated by media telling me that I needed to be thin, pretty and perfect. For the next several years of my life, I focused on losing weight and I did, but honestly, I still completely lacked self-confidence. I spent tons of time in the gym, and while this period in my life ignited my love of running and fitness as well as of good food, it also negatively skewed my perspective on how to reach my goals.

I’ll save the long story for another day. The short story is that I wrecked my metabolism by trying any “lose 10 pounds in a week” plan that I could get my hands on and over-exercised.

Thankfully, I came to my senses (dear senses, you sure took long enough). I realized that to be clear-minded and happy, you need to fuel yourself with delicious, nutritious food and make time for self-care. In my case, self-care includes lounging when I need to, listening to my favorite music, taking yoga classes, and spending time with my family and friends. Most importantly, I spend time alone, giving my head a chance to catch up with my heart.

Now, in the age of social media and the internet, I have the opportunity to seek out people whose philosophies align with mine. I’m able to be inspired by amazing humans and learn new lessons from these people every day. One such person is Tara Stiles, founder of Strala Yoga, a NYC based studio that focuses on movement to bring awareness to the body and become stronger both in mind and body.

I’ve followed Tara for some time now, and recently her popularity in the U.S. skyrocketed thanks to her collaboration with Reebok (you’ve probably seen her famous cloud pants before). While she does design some bomb clothing, it’s her lifestyle that I admire most. When I found out she was writing a new book called the Make Your Own Rules Diet, I knew I had to read it. Just from the title I could tell that this wasn’t your typical “follow my plan to look hot!” book. This was going to be the real deal – a life changer.

Make your own rules diet Tara Stilesphoto provided by Tara Stiles

I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to read an advanced sample of  Tara’s book and share it with you. I can assure you that as soon as it’s released (November 11!), I’ll pick up a copy of my own. Here’s what I took away as the core of the book:

“When following someone else’s rules leads us further away from ourselves, we start swimming in dangerous territory. We chase the external and grasp at the next best thing that never lives up to its promise. And worse yet, we begin to think of ourselves as failures.”

This book aims to lead us back to ourselves in three ways: the mat, the cushion, the kitchen (i.e. yoga, meditation, food). Tara writes that when we spend time in those three areas, we can feel, move, and believe. Those are the three principles by which we can make space for ourselves and begin to thrive.

“The more space you have, the better you start to feel and the more you’ll want to continue the great feeling.”

Tara’s writing captivated me throughout the book, which includes personal anecdotes and stories (she’s so inspiring!), yoga routines, meditation routines, recipes and two different “transformation” plans to follow, if that’s your ish or you need a little guidance.

While I only had a sampling of these, I can assure you that the meditation and flows are easy to follow and rejuvenating and the recipes simple, clean and delicious. Look! I can prove it. This is Tara’s Roasted Acorn Squash Soup. It took minimal time and prep. Plus, I didn’t see a single recipe in the sampling I received with more than 10 ingredients, not counting spices, which I LOVED.

acorn squash soup make your own rules diet

I’m highly recommending the Make Your Own Rules Diet for one specific reason: Tara doesn’t tout her views as the best, she simply wants to share information with you and let you make your rules. We are all different, so how could one prescribed diet or routine fit us all? It can’t! With that in mind, you can truly take away what works for you from this book. I loved it, and I know you will, too.


Full disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. I received a BLAD copy of Make Your Own Rules Diet free of charge. All opinions are my own. 

Questions of the Day:
>> Are you familiar with Tara Stiles?
>> What do you think of the lifestyle philosophy shared here?

More places to find me:
Twitter: @angiggy
Facebook: nuttylifeang
Pinterest: Ang @ Nutty for Life


An Anniversary Dinner [Recent Eats + Fitness]

Lately I’ve been trying to get my family to eat a little healthier. Sure, I always encouraged them to, but now that I’m home with some extra time on my hands, I’ve been making dinner for them most nights. Mom and Dad have been on board, which I’m truly thankful for… Adam, not so much. I’m still holding out that I’ll eventually get him to eat more than seven baby carrots with his chicken patties.

I’ve been testing out one or two new-to-them and/or -me recipes per week, filling in the rest of the days will other staples. Breakfasts and lunches are still an individual thing, but hopefully I can start to help my mom meal plan her lunches, too. My parents have pretty much loved everything I’ve made for them so far, and, not surprisingly, I source most of my recipes from blogs I read. Yay blogs!

Recent Eats

I’ve tried this one out prior to this week, but The Hummusapien’s Chickpea, Brown Rice and Broccoli Crockpot Casserole has been and continued to be a big hit. I actually added too much water to this batch, so I soaked up the extra liquid by adding some quinoa, too. It’s not pretty, but it’s SO good.



My mom and I munched on these Southwest Quinoa Burgers from Eat Yourself Skinny last night. They were really tasty! I made the whole recipe, but I found that six patties was more reasonable than the recommended eight. My mom agreed – but she also agreed they were delicious and “tasted like chili on a bun.” We used TJ’s whole wheat buns, for the record. Also very good. I topped mine with tomato and ketchup. #ketchupfreak



On Sunday night, my entire family plus extended family on my dad’s side went out to dinner at Bravo! to celebrate my grandparents’ 55th wedding anniversary (!!!!! congrats! I love you both!). The food was pretty good – I ordered the Light Chicken and Vegetable Pasta – but the company was better.



And check out these cookies my grandma got for dessert! Aren’t they the coolest? And talk about a good looking couple. They were actually married on the 4th of July, so that’s why the cookies are outlined in patriotic colors.



As for breakfast, I rocked some pancakes on both Saturday and Sunday morning. The ones pictured here are made with spinach; the pancakes from Saturday were made with zucchini. They essentially looked the same, except the zuke ones completely broke up. Pancake fail. They still tasted amazing. I’ll credit the blueberries and maple syrup for that.


I don’t remember what day I had this breakfast, but those strawberries were seriously on point. I put two over easy eggs atop some spinach and had a banana with Nuttzo on the side.


And then of course I had to have my good old standby of avocado toast with Vegenaise, eggs, and carrots. And those cherries? PHENOMENAL. I could have eaten the entire bag (I know it looks like the entire bag there, but it was maybe 1/4 of it 😉 ).


I also had this yummy concoction for lunch one day: my Red, White & Blueberry Granola Parfait. Super tasty and healthy!

Red White and Blueberry Granola Parfait_18


Recent Fitness

Last week’s workouts included yoga (of course), ellipticalling, a run, and this deck of cards workout.

I actually only made it to yoga once, but it was a 90 minute class I definitely needed before the weekend. I went the morning of the 4th, and it was incredibly crowded. Like an inch between mats crowded. It was a little more stressful of a class than I wanted, but it turned out to be a great sweaty workout despite the strange woman next to me who was staring right into my eyes during one of our final twists on the floor.

And, yes, that does say I went for a run. On Wednesday, I headed down to a trail with my friend to test out the ‘ol knee. Unfortunately, there was still pain even after basically taking the anti-inflammatories for a month. I went to the specialist yesterday, and I’m scheduled to get an MRI to make sure I don’t have any torn ligaments. The doctor wants to be sure before he gives me a cortisone shot, which is the next step if the MRI shows no out-of-the-ordinary ailments. It’s my first MRI, and I’m kind of nervous! I’ve never had to have anything more than an x-ray, knock on wood.

Questions of the Day:
>> Have you ever had an MRI or anything of the like? I’ve had x-rays for my scoliosis and wisdom teeth, but that’s about it.
>> What is your strangest yoga experience?
>> Three things you ate this week! & go. 

More places to find me:
Twitter: @angiggy
Facebook: nuttylifeang
Pinterest: Ang @ Nutty for Life

June Brought Great Food [Recent Eats + Fitness]

Happy July! I really can’t believe it’s already the 7th month of the year. I’m ready to start the second half of 2014 with a fresh outlook (and of course, some yummy food!). But before I jump into July, let’s play catchup on what I’ve been eating and doing for fitness!


Breakfasts have looked very similar around these parts, not surprisingly. The funny thing about me is that I need to make sure I’m satisfied by my breakfast or I’m in a bad mood all day. That’s why I usually stick to similar formulas but just switch out fruits or veggies. My staples lately have been avocado toast, and I’ve switched out carrots with tomatoes or blueberries with watermelon.



Lunches? A ton of salads! I’ve discovered that I really love a crunchy something in my salads. Fruit has also been on my salad radar lately, especially since berries are so abundant right now.

Strawberries, mushrooms, carrots, sunflower seeds, and walnuts with balsamic dressing over a (huge) bed of lettuce.



Not surprisingly my most favorite salad made an appearance, too. This one’s going to be around for a while.


I’ve been trying to make more dinners for my family to get them a little more nutrition. Here are just a few of the meals we’ve had as a family!

My family LOVED, and when I say loved I really mean it, PaleOMG’s Almost 5 Ingredient Pizza Spaghetti Pie.


I made some homemade meatballs with pasta another night. I served mine up with a huge serving of broccoli, too. Have you ever had your broccoli with pasta sauce? It’s a really tasty combo.


I really enjoyed this meal: honey mustard drumsticks with a side of brown rice and yellow squash. It was really simple, but I was so satisfied!


Aaaaaand I’ve had several meals out, too.

Thai Green Curry at Nicky’s Thai Kitchen. SO GOOD.


Salmon with veggies and rice at Joe’s Crab Shack (as a whole it was just okay, but the salmon was cooked really nicely).


And finally a rockin’ breakfast with my brother at Cracker Barrel #notsorry. I had their multigrain pancakes with a side of eggs. I didn’t eat the bacon, but Adam did, so I didn’t feel bad about it going to waste. I couldn’t even finish the pancakes! Also can we talk about that huge hunk of butter?



So, I know I said I was going to do Fitnessista’s Summer Shape Up, but I didn’t follow through. I loved her Winter Shape Up, but I was not feeling these new workouts. By “not feeling,” I mean I was kind of bored while doing them. I also didn’t like that there weren’t plyo cardio sets or videos to accompany, which is what really drew me to her Winter Shape Up. I have trouble making myself do burpees or those kind of moves, and having a video helped me push through.

Instead, I’ve still been doing a lot of yoga, walking and weights. I’ve also been able to do some HIIT workouts on the treadmill. For some reason, those never bother my knee.

Speaking of the knee, I’m testing it out running a straight distance tomorrow, aiming for three miles, because I’m almost through with my medicine. I get it checked again next week. Wish me luck!


I can’t wait to see what awesome eats and fitness the rest of the year will bring. Here’s to July and a great finish to 2014!

Questions of the day: 
>> What has your recent fitness looked like? 
>> Know of any good workouts I should try?
>> What restaurants have you been to lately?