Name: Elaine Gordon
Location: Baltimore, MD
Occupation: Recipe developer and food blogger (www.eatingbyelaine.com)
Why we love Elaine: Talk about goals. When we first saw Elaine’s Instagram feed, we were in love. She creates beautiful vegan, gluten-free and allergy-friendly recipes that look like a dream and showcases them on her blog. On top of that, Elaine welcomed her third child into the world just 5 weeks ago! Elaine is a true warrior and we’re so grateful to call her a member of our tribe.
What is your health story?
I grew up with family members that had several food allergies. Some life threatening. As a teenager, I developed multiple food allergies and food sensitivities and started recognizing what foods were making me feel sick. As I started eliminating certain foods from my diet my digestion and vertigo improved, headaches went away and sinus problems disappeared. It was truly incredible the difference my diet made in how I felt. I found I had more energy and felt like the best version of myself when I avoided certain foods. Since then, I have focused on eating nutritious meals and snacks that leverage whole foods. In college I adopted a plant-based diet and enjoyed incorporating more vegetables and beans/legumes into my diet in creative ways. I have always had an incredible love for food and enjoy challenging myself to create delicious meals using plant-based foods while avoiding the foods that don’t agree with me. I focus on what I can eat and not what I cannot eat as a way to stay positive about my many dietary restrictions. That mentality combined with my passion for cooking is what led me to start my plant-based, allergy-friendly food blog, EatingByElaine.com.
What is your favorite Health Warrior Bar?
It is challenging to find nutritious packaged food options that are also allergy-friendly (and actually taste good too!). I love so many Health Warrior bar flavors, it is honestly difficult to select just one. But, if I had to pick I would say the Dark Chocolate Chia Bars. I am a total chocoholic and those bars feel like a healthy treat. They are the perfect size and boast an incredible nutrition profile. I love that Health Warrior bars are high in fiber and low in sugar.
When do you find yourself reaching for one?
Mostly during long outings with my family and while traveling. They make the perfect on-the-go option for me when I cannot cook for myself or do not have the time. And, five weeks ago I had my third child, so not only has life gotten even busier for me but with nursing my hunger is out of control. I would say my hunger is even more than during pregnancy. Nursing hunger is real! And sometimes during the middle of the night feeding I grab a bar when my stomach is growling at me! The bars have been a life saver in those hurried, hungry moments for sure.
How did you get introduced to Health Warrior?
The first time I tried them was a couple years ago at a sample station in my local Whole Foods. I was impressed at the fun flavors and how simple the ingredients were. I loved that they incorporate chia seeds too – such a nutrition powerhouse and hard to find in most packaged bars.
What are your workouts like?
Physical activity has always been a huge part of my life. I played sports all throughout my childhood and played varsity volleyball in high school. I played on a traveling Junior Olympic volleyball team for a couple years and loved the competition. It was easy staying active at a young age. Now, as an adult, I try to stay active every day. I play recreational beach volleyball, do track/agility workouts with my husband, practice hot yoga and run outside as much possible.
Once I started having children I had to get a bit more creative about what I did for physical activity and how to find time for it. I started doing workout videos in my bedroom during nap time. Insanity Max 30 by BeachBody is one of my favorite workout videos because it is exactly 30 minutes from start to finish and by the end I’m drenched in sweat. It works every part of my body and doesn’t require any equipment. For a busy mom it has been perfect.
Just before my third pregnancy I completed my second half-marathon on the hilly Baltimore course. Unfortunately, throughout my pregnancy I was not able to do any physical activity due to daily (and extreme) nausea and fatigue. This happened to me throughout all three pregnancies actually and seemed to get worse with each one. So, now I’m five weeks postpartum and starting from square one with my physical activity routine. I missed it so much throughout this past pregnancy and have been looking forward to the day I could start back up again. For me, physical activity is a huge stress relief and a major part of my daily routine. It was difficult to give up for so long. It is hard to believe I ran a half marathon in October and then was completely sedentary since then. I went for my first jog this past weekend on a gorgeous sunny day and almost cried (happy tears) that I am back at it again and embarking on this new journey again. I’m taking it slow and do not want to overdo it but am enthused to reincorporate physical activity back into my life. For me, I feel so much happier and healthier when I stay active in a variety of ways.
What’s your biggest workout tip?
Vary it up and do what you love or you will not stick to it. If you are dreading your workout then you have not found the right way of moving for you. If you are competitive, play a sport. If you love being outside then find something that allows you to do that during your workout. If you love to be social, workout with a friend or join a group fitness program. Do what makes you happy and you will be more likely to actually do it.
My other tip is to plan for it and tell someone your plan for accountability. Decide the day before when you plan to workout and what you plan to do. You may have to adjust but having a specific plan makes it more likely you will follow through. Otherwise, it is easy to make excuses or let the day get away from you without having moved. I always tell my husband my workout plan and we try and workout together when possible. Working out together helps us stay motivated and accountable. It is the positive side of peer pressure!
I also think it is important to not have an ‘all or nothing’ mentality. Every little bit counts so even if your day is crazy and all you can fit in is a family walk for 20 minutes it is better than nothing. On really busy days I try and find ways to fit small amounts of physical activity throughout my day. I stay active with my kids on our outings and plan family activities that allow us to be outside and active together.
Who do you look for for motivation?
Two people. My husband and my mom.
My husband plays competitive ultimate frisbee and travels for tournaments regularly. He is incredibly athletic and despite working long hours and making time for family he always finds time to stay active. He motivates me through his own actions and has proved that even with a demanding career and family you can still make time for you. Oftentimes his workouts are late at night in our bedroom because that is what works for his schedule and our life right now. I’m always impressed that he is able to motivate himself at the end of a long day when he is exhausted. But, he knows he feels better when he is active and that he will regret skipping a work out after being sedentary at his desk job all day. Getting started is usually the hardest part for everyone. When you have someone who lives with you that is also committed to staying active it definitely helps. He encourages me but never pressures me and helps out tremendously with the family and household responsibilities so we can both have time for activity.
My mom motivates me in other ways. She is a constant reminder about how precious life is and how to never give up despite your personal journey. For my mom, her journey has been difficult. She has been diagnosed with breast cancer three separate times since age 42. She has undergone multiple rounds of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery including a recent double mastectomy. During her second cancer diagnosis she also was the main caretaker and medical advocate for my dad during his four year battle with metastatic melanoma. We lost my dad to melanoma two years ago and since then she was diagnosed with breast cancer a third time. As a grieving widow she continues to battle breast cancer a third time and always stays so positive. She continued to run her company throughout all three cancers and works hard every day to keep her business going despite her great loss and her health difficulties. She continues to shower our family with love and support even with all she has been through and is currently going through. She remains active with her friends, extended family and travels when possible. Her business remains successful because of her attitude and incredible work ethic. She is the most productive and positive person I know. What she accomplishes in a day despite the way she oftentimes feels is motivation for me to always work hard towards my goals and never give up no matter what life throws at you.
What is your go-to quick meal?
If I had to pick one I would say a smoothie. Smoothies are a wonderful way to cram in loads of nutrition into a quick and frosty treat. I always include plant-based protein in mine and have lately been using frozen vegetables to boost the nutrition in my smoothies even more. Here are two recent examples from my recipe blog:
I try to keep ALL cooking quick and simple. That is my style given our busy lives with three kids under the age of five (including one newborn) and work. I try and meal prep as much as possible. I believe that when you have a plan, you are prepared, which means you’ll have the proper food on hand and won’t fall into unhealthy eating patterns. To make it simple, ‘weekly meal planning’ and ‘bulk food prepping’ are two popular concepts getting a lot of buzz these days. Together they making cooking efficient and low-maintenance. If you have a plan, a fully stocked fridge and a couple key items prepared in advance, you can pull together a nutritious homemade meal in less than 10 minutes. I find, spending time once a week planning and prepping gives me the makings of fast and healthy meals all week long.
My favorite foods to meal prep are quinoa, brown rice and roasted vegetables. I also love to make large batches of plant-based soups and yummy sauces or dressings to drizzle on grain bowls and salads throughout the week. For busy mornings I try and make energy balls or healthy muffins to have on hand. I also love to prep smoothie jars for my morning smoothie. Anything to make the mornings a little easier and eating healthy more accessible.
When do you feel most like a warrior?
When I’m powering through the day with all three kids on an outing doing something active with them outside. We love to stroll around the harbor, play at local parks, build sandcastles at the local beach volleyball courts, swim in the pool and ride bikes. My oldest (age four) has already expressed an interest in playing sports and running races with me. I love that my husband and I are setting a healthy example for our children.
What’s the weirdest thing about you?
The way I order food at a restaurant. With all my food sensitivities and food allergies I’m that person that orders something on the menu with a gazillion substitutions and questions. I guess that is why I have gravitated toward cooking more at home!
What’s the coolest thing about you?
I’m pursuing my dreams and making a career out of something I’m incredibly passionate about: healthy eating. I think that is pretty “cool” 🙂
Current workout pump up jam?
“Play That Song” by Train. It is my favorite feel-good running song. I also love “Feel This Moment” by Pitbull. I love positive upbeat songs like that.
What’s the last book you read?
Ha! With being a mom of three, staying active and running my own business I really have not made time for reading in so long. I cannot even remember the last full book I read. I should probably start listening to books on tapes during my runs but I love listening to music so much more!
What are your goals for the next year?
I am typically a goal setting individual but I didn’t want to overcommit myself to anything for this next year with my four year old, two year old and five week old. I think for me I want to focus on keeping my business going, getting back into physical activity and spending as much time with my family as possible. At the end of the next year if I have done that I’ll be happy!
What are you looking forward to most about the fall?
Everything! Summer is my favorite season so I’m sad to see it come to an end but I do love fall for the brisk (but not too cold) weather, fun fall activities like apple and pumpkin picking and fall recipes. Bring it on!