I don't know about y'all, but there are more than a couple of people in my life who have smoothies as a part of their daily ritual. Some of them do it as a quick way to consume their breakfast. Others do it as an energy boost before working out. Some just simply like the taste of 'em. If you happen to fall into any of these categories, first let me say that homemade smoothies, for the most part, are a good thing to have. The nutrients in them can help to strengthen your immunity, improve your digestion, detoxify your body, fill you up with antioxidants, control your cravings and help you to lose weight—yep, all this with just one serving. At the same time, the reason why I said, "for the most part", is because, believe it or not, there is such a thing as a "bad smoothie". It's when you find yourself preparing one in such a way that it can literally do your system more harm than good.
If smoothies are totally your thing, but you want to make sure that you're making the kind that are as healthy as possible, here are some signs that you might be working against this goal—whether you realize it or not.
You’re Making Them with Juice
While fruit is good for you, fruit juice? Eh, not so much. A lot of fruit juice brands are packed with both sugar and calories, so using them as a base for your smoothies is usually working against you, rather than for you. For instance, adding a half-cup of apple juice to your morning smoothie could easily give you 50-70 extra calories and 10-15 grams of sugar. So, if you want your smoothies to be a little less thick, opt for a milk alternative instead. Case in point, there are 30 calories in a cup of almond milk with zero grams of sugar in it (if you go with the original or unsweetened kind). For the most part, milk alternatives instead of juice are definitely the way to go.
You’re Putting in Too Much Fruit (or Only Fruit)
Just because I said that fruit is healthy (and it is), that doesn't mean it's also not packed with a type of sugar known as fructose. If all you have in your smoothie is berries, bananas or pineapples, that could cause your blood sugar levels to spike up. Plus, smoothies are basically meant to serve as mini-meals, so it's best to put more in there anyway. Protein powder, green veggies, seeds (like chia or flaxseed) can up the nutrient value of your smoothie while also balancing out all of the sugar that fruit tends to provide.
You’re Adding WAY Too Much Green Veggies
Kale. Spinach. Cucumber. Zucchini. These are just some of the green veggies that not only are loaded with vitamins and minerals, but actually taste really great in smoothies as well. But again, balance is key. If you eat too much of a good green thing, the fiber could have you in the bathroom for much longer than you ever planned. Plus, kale contains compounds known as goitrogens; too many of them are prone to totally mess with your thyroid—and not in a good way.
So how much is enough? 1-2 cups of fresh raw green vegetables, per smoothie, is pretty cool. Just make sure that you're only doing a smoothie a day in order to keep your green veggie intake on point.
You’re Adding WAY Too Much Protein Too
As women, all we need is 50-60 grams of protein a day. Well, if you're adding collagen, whey and protein powder to each of your smoothies, you're actually giving your body way too much protein. The challenge with that is, not only can that lead to things like nausea, dehydration, exhaustion, diarrhea and intestinal discomfort over time, but when protein rises to excessive levels, it's prone to turn into sugar. That's why, really no more than 10 grams of protein, per smoothie, should be a rule of thumb that you should follow.
You’re Putting Sweeteners In
Lawd, y'all. If you're putting fresh fruit into your smoothie, why in the world would you need to add any sweetener to it? Remember that smoothies aren't just a convenient way to get vitamins and minerals into your body; they're also supposed to benefit you, holistically, long-term. Consuming anything that could low-key turn you into a diabetic isn't helpful. Bottom line, if there's fruit in your smoothie, you've got all of the sweetener that you need. If there's not, a teaspoon of honey or molasses, some dates, or a little bit of flavored yogurt should be all that you need to add a little sweetness to it.
You’re Forgetting About Adding Spices
Here's an interesting question. When's the last time you added some spice (or spices) into your smoothies? Not only do they add a bit of a "kick" to how your smoothies taste, but many of them are really great for your overall health and well-being too. Ginger contains potassium, copper and magnesium, along with anti-inflammatory properties. Cinnamon is filled with antioxidants and the organic compound cinnamaldehyde which helps to keep bacterial and fungal infections at bay. Sage is dope because it's high in Vitamin K and also has the reputation for reducing cholesterol levels, relieving menopause-related symptoms and improving blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. So, definitely consider adding one of these (or other spices) into your smoothie, the next time that you make one.
Your Smoothies Are HUGE
Back in my Smoothie King days, I used to be amazed by some of the sizes of smoothies that they offered. I mean, who needs a Big Gulp equivalent of a smoothie, right? At the end of the day, all that means is you're packing on more calories and sugar. So, what size should your smoothies actually be? Between 8-12 ounces is best and one a day is good. And what about having a smoothie every day? If it's something like a homemade green smoothie, that shouldn't be a problem, so long as you add some protein into it so that you're not hungry an hour later.
Just make sure that you don't treat your smoothie like it's a drink that is accompanying a meal—even if it's a salad. Too much of a good thing can turn into something that's not-so-good, real quick. Many folks have found themselves packing on pounds after consistently drinking smoothies for a month or so. So, if you're having a smoothie, consider that to be an actual meal, until it's time to eat again.
BONUS: You’re Buying Them
The reason why this article focuses on mistakes that are made when it comes to making smoothies at home is because, when they're the DIY kind, you have full control over what does (and doesn't) go into them. When you're getting them at your local grocery store, not so much. Many commercial brands contain so many additives and preservatives that the word "natural" in the branding is hardly true. And if you get one at a restaurant, oftentimes frozen yogurt, sherbet and all sorts of sweeteners will make it more of a fattening treat than a healthy snack. So, when it comes to getting a smoothie outside of your house, while it might be convenient, it typically isn't your best bet—not if you want to drink one that is actually good for you. Make them at home. It's better for your body—and your budget in the long run.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
How Content Creators Hey Fran Hey And Shameless Maya Embraced The Pivot
This article is in partnership with Meta Elevate.
If you’ve been on the internet at all within the past decade, chances are the names Hey Fran Hey and Shameless Maya (aka Maya Washington) have come across your screen. These content creators have touched every platform on the web, spreading joy to help women everywhere live their best lives. From Fran’s healing natural remedies to Maya’s words of wisdom, both of these content creators have built a loyal following by sharing honest, useful, and vulnerable content. But in search of a life that lends to more creativity, freedom, and space, these digital mavens have moved from their bustling big cities (New York City and Los Angeles respectively) to more remote locations, taking their popular digital brands with them.
Content Creators Hey Fran Hey and Maya Washington Talk "Embracing The Pivot"www.youtube.com
In partnership with Meta Elevate — an online learning platform that provides Black, Hispanic, and Latinx-owned businesses access to 1:1 mentoring, digital skills training, and community — xoNecole teamed up with Franscheska Medina and Maya Washington on IG live recently for a candid conversation about how they’ve embraced the pivot by changing their surroundings to ultimately bring out the best in themselves and their work. Fran, a New York City native, moved from the Big Apple to Portland, Oregon a year ago. Feeling overstimulated by the hustle and bustle of city life, Fran headed to the Pacific Northwest in search of a more easeful life.
Her cross-country move is the backdrop for her new campaign with Meta Elevate— a perfectly-timed commercial that shows how you can level up from wherever you land with the support of free resources like Meta Elevate. Similarly, Maya packed up her life in Los Angeles and moved to Sweden, where she now resides with her husband and adorable daughter. Maya’s life is much more rural and farm-like than it had been in California, but she is thriving in this peaceful new setting while finding her groove as a new mom.
While Maya is steadily building and growing her digital brand as a self-proclaimed “mom coming out of early retirement,” Fran is redefining her own professional grind. “It’s been a year since I moved from New York City to Portland, Oregon,” says Fran. “I think the season I’m in is figuring out how to stay successful while also slowing down.” A slower-paced life has unlocked so many creative possibilities and opportunities for these ladies, and our conversation with them is a well-needed reminder that your success is not tied to your location…especially with the internet at your fingertips. Tapping into a community like Meta Elevate can help Black, Hispanic, and Latinx entrepreneurs and content creators stay connected to like minds and educated on new digital skills and tools that can help scale their businesses.
During a beautiful moment in the conversation, Fran gives Maya her flowers for being an innovator in the digital space. Back when “influencing” was in its infancy and creators were just trying to find their way, Fran says Maya was way ahead of her time. “I give Maya credit for being one of the pioneers in the digital space,” Fran said. “Maya is a one-person machine, and I always tell her she really changed the game on what ads, campaigns, and videos, in general, should look like.”
When asked what advice she’d give content creators, Maya says the key is having faith even when you don’t see the results just yet. “It’s so easy to look at what is, despite you pouring your heart into this thing that may not be giving you the returns that you thought,” she says. “Still operate from a place of love and authenticity. Have faith and do the work. A lot of people are positive thinkers, but that’s the thinking part. You also have to put your faith into work and do the work.”
Fran ultimately encourages content creators and budding entrepreneurs to take full advantage of Meta Elevate’s vast offerings to educate themselves on how to build and grow their businesses online. “It took me ten years to get to the point where I’m making ads at this level,” she says. “I didn’t have those resources in 2010. I love the partnership with Meta Elevate because they’re providing these resources for free. I just think of the people that wouldn’t be able to afford that education and information otherwise. So to amplify a company like this just feels right.”
Watch the full conversation with the link above, and join the Meta Elevate community to connect with fellow businesses and creatives that are #OnTheRiseTogether.
Featured image courtesy of Shameless Maya and Hey Fran Hey
Mary J. Blige Details How She Knew Her Self-Worth & Self-Love Were Lacking
There's an old saying that mentions one of the greatest forms of love a person can ever endure in life is self-love. Singer, actress, and now author Mary J. Blige is a perfect example of that motto. Throughout her entire career, which spans over three decades, Blige has been very vocal about the past struggles she faced in life and love, mainly through her music.
But in recent years, following her divorce from music producer Kendu Isaacs in 2018, the Power Book II: Ghost star has used her story and platform to encourage self-love to countless fans.
During a recent interview on Today with Hoda and Jenna, Blige candidly discussed the events that led to her self-love journey and how she was finally able to accept herself, flaws and all. Alongside those topics, the 52-year-old also provided tips for those attempting to find their self-worth and opened up about solo dates.
Mary J. Blige On Her Self-Love Journey & Not Feeling Like Enough
While promoting her new children's book Mary Can, which was inspired by instances that occurred in Blige's adult life, the "Family Affair" songstress revealed that one of the things that pushed her to start healing was the negative feelings she experienced after being told in a past relationship that she wasn't enough.
Although Blige didn't publicly name the person who said those words, the star shared that she knew she lacked self-love during that time because of how long she stayed in the union despite being treated terribly.
"I actually started to believe it because when you love someone, and you don't love yourself, that's what happens. You stay longer. I stayed a very long time, and one day I just got tired of hating myself and feeling that feeling... I was searching for a way to heal, not be insecure, and not go through all these things that I was going through, " the singer said.
Blige would reveal that the breakthrough moment that propelled her self-love journey into overdrive occurred after watching a sermon by Bishop T.D. Jakes, in which he talked about the importance of self-love and self-worth.
The vocalist explained the main words she resonated with were how one's opinion and beliefs about themselves outranked what anyone else thinks. Following that sermon, Blige disclosed that was when she started saying positive affirmations to herself.
"He said, 'What you think about you, and say about you, and believe about you is more effective and important than what anyone can say about you.' When I tell you, that thing clicked. It just really really clicked for me," she stated. "That's how I began to move out of the relationship and moved out of that dark place because I began to speak the words, like the title of my album Good Morning Gorgeous: 'good morning Mary, good morning gorgeous, good morning I love you, good morning I need you, good morning you're beautiful, good morning you're a masterpiece.'"
Blige added that after "speaking positive words" over her life, things started to change for the better.
Blige's Advice to Those Struggling with Their Self-Worth
As the conversation shifted over to the advice that Blige would give others dealing with a similar situation and are trying to begin their self-love journey, the I Can Do Bad All by Myself actress said that the main thing that people should do during this process is start by saying positive affirmations even if they don't believe it.
"So this is what I did. I never thought I was gorgeous ever in my life. So I had to speak something I didn't believe. I didn't believe I was gorgeous, so I started saying, 'good morning, gorgeous...' Just saying it, no matter how bad I didn't believe it or how bad it hurts, just say it. I said it. I kept saying it, and after a while, it began to manifest in my heart. It began to manifest outside my body, and I began to actually see it. I felt it," she explained.
Blige suggested that many start by speaking positively about themselves because she feels that is the primary way to help people figure out how "great" they are without being dependent on others' approval.
"You have to keep you together. You can't depend on your husband. You can't depend on your boyfriend," the "Just Fine" singer continued. "I'm just saying this out of experience. You can't depend on your family to say you're great. You have to figure out a way to know you are great."
Blige On Solo Dates
In addition to self-love, Blige expressed the importance of appreciating one's company by taking yourself out on a solo date and the value of friendships. When asked what a solo date night looks like for her, Blige mentioned that the dates consisted of going to dinner, watching a film, and drinking wine.
"The dates with Mary are very intimate... We'll go to dinner, we'll watch a movie, and then we'll just drink some wine. We'll just chill, give ourselves a hug, you know," she exclaimed while laughing.
Blige also added that one of the places she and her girlfriends often frequent is Nobu. As the host questioned Blige on who she would consider to be her best friend, the star said that she has a tribe that consists of a "team of amazing women" surrounding her whom she loves wholeheartedly.
With this conversation, it appears that Blige has figured out one of the secrets to being fulfilled in life: the mastery of self-love and having a good community around you.
Mary J. Blige on why she says ‘good morning, gorgeous’ to herself
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