Monday, December 30, 2013

Pumpkin Swirl Cinnamon Roll

So easy! So good! Just mix and microwave.

One scoop of Quest Nutrition Vanilla Milkshake protein, 1/4 cup liquid egg white, 1/2 cup pure pumpkin, and 1/2 t baking powder. Microwave approximately 1-1:30 minutes. Top with Greek yogurt infused with 1 t. vanilla extract and sprinkle with cinnamon!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Cinnanutter Protein Cake

My favorite protein bar is the Quest bar. I usually don't bake with them, but figured this challenge was worthy of a special recipe. Introducing the "Cinnanutter Protein Cake."

Preheat oven to 375. Rinse and drain one can of garbanzo beans. Blend garbanzo beans with approximately 1/3 cup of pb crave, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 cup honey, 1/3 cup water, and 1 scoop of Quest Nutrition Peanut Butter protein. Pour into baking dish and top with cut up pieces of one cinnamon roll Quest bar. Bake for approximately 35 to 40 minutes.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Cookie Dough Cake Batter

Beyond amazing!!!! I am literally eating this by the spoonful as I create this entry. With nearly 50 grams of protein, this clean recipe consists of just a few ingredients and is a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth.

1 scoop Cake batter whey protein
1 serving non-fat Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon nectresse or stevia (this adds amazing frosting-like texture)
1/2 Cookie Dough Quest bar

Stir the first three ingredients with about 2 T. of water. Top with broken up Quest bar...enjoy! Last bit of not use a mason jar like I did! It looks super cute, but is very difficult to get the last bits of batter out with the spoon! Cake batter protein and Quest bars are available at Vitamin Shoppe.  Shipping is free with your purchase of $25 or more.

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sweet Potato Coconut Fries

Who knew?! Sweet potato fries have become a staple in my diet lately and I recently was shocked to discover a sweet potato that wasn't orange! I did some research and came to these conclusions...There are two major varieties of sweet potatoes, the yellow, drier, more mealy kind with lighter beige colored skins, and the orange, more moist, sweeter ones with reddish skins that are usually called "yams." While all sweet potatoes contain similar amounts of the same nutrients, the notable difference among the varieties is the content of beta-carotene. More beta-carotene is available in orange-fleshed than in white- or yellow-fleshed varieties.  In the body, beta-carotene is converted to Vitamin A, an essential nutrient.  It has antioxidant activity, which helps to protect cells from damage.

2 sweet potatoes
2 T. coconut oil
2 t. cinnamon
2 t. hemp seed

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the potatoes for approximately 6 minutes in the microwave. Allow to cool before cutting. Slice potatoes and put into bowl. Stir in coconut oil, cinnamon, and hemp seed. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until crispy. Enjoy!  Purchase your coconut oil and hemp seeds at Vitamin Shoppe.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Detox Cocktail

This Detox Cocktail is super easy to make and very beneficial to your health. I drink it every morning and sometimes once in the afternoon. It's an acquired taste that goes down much easier after the first couple of days. Now, I actually look forward to drinking it! Simply add 1-2 T. of lemon juice (if it's from a fresh lemon, even better!) and a pinch of cayenne pepper to 16 oz of water. Lemon juice supports the liver and helps eliminate toxins. Along with that it destroys bacteria and improves digestion! Cayenne pepper is a thermogenic, so it stimulates your metabolism. It also stimulates the circulatory system, helps regulate blood sugar levels, and aids digestion. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Clean Eating Pumpkin Cake

Here's my own concoction of recipe randomness! Mix 1 can of pure pumpkin, 1/2 c liquid egg white, 2 t cinnamon, 2 t chia seeds, 2/3 cup almond flour. Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes. Pumpkin is a great source of fiber and the egg white/chia seeds provide protein.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Appreciate the Progress

When something provokes thought in my mind and stirs my emotions, the best way to deal with it is to ground the thoughts by putting them into words.

Two days ago, I noticed a used couch in the alley. The unsightly object was an eye sore, awaiting pick up by the garbage man--or some desperate soul in need of some furniture. That same day, while doing laundry in my building, I bumped into my old roommate, who (as I came to find out), was moving out of the unit where I had once lived with her. She told me how the unit is being renovated, that the kitchen was already done. I accepted her invite to see it, and embraced the familiarity of the apartment as I walked down the hallway. On my way out, I stopped to look at my old bedroom, appearing exactly the way I had left it. Empty of the people and moments that it once consumed. The orange walls I had painted, Candied Yam to be specific, would soon be covered with fresh paint and wall hangings.

It was the next day, that I took a second look at the still-there eye sore of a couch, and realized it was the one that had been in that apartment for the three years I lived there. A wave of sadness passed through me and while I went to dismiss it, I asked myself why. Why NOT be sentimental over a couch? Why not reminisce on the past and *appreciate the progress* I've made in my life since sitting on its mismatched cushions, wishing it wasn't so small and could accommodate my long legs.

How often do we dismiss feelings and detach from people, places and things? Do we dismiss the progress we have made because we're pressured to work harder, move faster, and crush goals? Stay focused on where you are heading but remember to appreciate where you are and where you have been. Embrace the people, places and things (even an unsightly couch!) that have contributed to your life and brought you to the place you are now. It's this reflection that will help shape our future and give us the confidence, courage, and determination to create it. Stay sentimental.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Embrace the Discomfort

Every day that I walk to and wait for the train to work, I look forward to the few (sometimes more) glorious minutes of sitting cross legged on the storage box of the train platform. As silly as it sounds, yes, I take a certain pleasure in releasing my backpack and propping myself on top of the box. Not just to sit, but because the box slopes downward, sitting cross legged results in a fantastic hip stretch (you've gotta appreciate the simple things in life, right??). As I sat this morning, the train taking much longer than usual, a thought occurred to me. The first moments of the stretch are the most uncomfortable. The muscles are tight and they cling to the limited range of motion they've become accustomed to. Usually, during the stretch portion of a class and while training clients, I instruct individuals to "breathe through the resistance," "sink into the stretch deeper with each exhale." In general, we neglect our stretches, and set ourselves up for potential injury--as the smaller range of motion and less flexible we are, the more likely we are to hurt ourselves.

About ten minutes passed this morning while I sat on top of that box. And while other commuters checked their CTA apps and anxiously peered over the rail as if the train would magically appear, I too felt myself becoming anxious. Then I much more comfortable I was sitting cross legged. How my hips had opened up and my lower body tension had significantly decreased in the 10+ minutes I had been waiting.

Maybe it was the post-workout high from my strength session at Hard Pressed this morning. Or the after-effect of the Dunkin Donuts coffee I had consumed an hour before that caused my mind to wander. Aren't the first moments of a difficult situation typically the most uncomfortable? How many of us actually approach these difficult situations with the intention of improving them and making progress? Or do we avoid them as much as we avoid the yoga mat? Like stretching the body, the mind (and the heart) tend to give up at the first sign of resistance, tightness, and discomfort. We cling to the familiar, to the daily range of motion we have created. What would happen if we confronted that discomfort...then "breathed through the resistance," and "sunk deeper with each exhale"? Perhaps the tension would release, and our minds and hearts would open.

Resist the discomfort or embrace it. Which will you do?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Beyond the Fitness Bubble

In high school, I weighed 45 pounds more than I do now. I could go an entire day without saying a word, sometimes wondering what my own voice sounded like. Years later, among red solo cups at a college house party, a former classmate commented "you went to my high school?!" And although a graduating class of 250 is neither large nor extremely small, I shifted my gaze downward at that moment, embracing the introvert I've always been. While in high school, I was inactive, ate too much, was discouraged by the amount of weight I gained and the fact that I was not "athletic." The tennis coach ordered a double X t-shirt for me in the Fall of 1997. I weighed approximately 210 pounds at the age of 16 and felt invisible--not just to others, but to myself. My happiness and health were not a priority.

When deciding what to study in college, I pursued my new found passion for fitness. My mom had given me a membership to Women's Workout World as a birthday gift and I was hooked on the rush of adrenaline and the drop in my weight. Ever since then, I have been intrigued by the body's ability to heal itself and even to excel--with proper nutrition, activity, and REST. This was definitely a life changing breakthrough. Had I continued in the direction I was heading, I can only imagine where I would have wound up. Currently, I am a full time fitness instructor and personal trainer.

Growth is key! If we are not moving forward, we will become mediocre. To grow as a person or company, we must surround ourselves with people and circumstances that challenge us--physically and mentally. I like to think of it as "cross training" for the mind. I've recently kayaked the Illinois River, attended a martial arts class, traveled to Salt Lake City, visited Dallas and went stand up paddle boarding, and (most surprisingly to me) shot a 45 and M1 Garand at a shooting range in Indiana! If you repeatedly do the same exercises, in the same order, lifting the same amount of weight, you will plateau! Such is life. If you go to the same job, go out with the same friends, attend the same social gatherings, you will plateau! Be gentle on yourself--there's no need to go from jogging along the Lake Front to signing up for the Iron Man. Add 30 seconds of jumping jacks between your strength sets. Find a random group on and participate in an activity you've never done, with people you've never met--I did!

You may be wondering if I plan to earn a black belt in karate, kayak the Rio Grande, or start a gun collection. The answer is no (unless we're referring to a pair of biceps!). I've tried that and having multiple hobbies/pastimes results in overcommitment. How can you truly enjoy yourself (and bring joy to others) when you're constantly stretching time, bending over backwards, and dropping down sets of dollar bills? My intention is to experience new things daily. Perhaps this will lead to another breakthrough in my life--finding opportunity and experience in uncharted territory, on a tennis court while staying at a resort in Jamaica! Maybe not. Take each moment for what it is. After all, there really is no "bubble" except the one we create in our own mind. And if you're having trouble breaking through...figure out where you are, where you want to be, what it takes to get there, AIM...and then TAKE A SHOT.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Have Less, Do More

Have less, do more. This recent revelation has directed me down a new path, one full of opportunities and experiences, rather than lululemon tanks, magazines, and beauty products. Every day, we're exposed to advertisements and implications that make false promises of love, happiness, and beauty. In recent years, as a victim to those beliefs, I realized that the more I was buying, the more I wanted to have. The more money I made, the more I wanted to spend. It was like a sugar addiction. The sweet stuff causing a temporary high, later dulled by the crash and burn of the realization that you're left feeling more spent--financially, emotionally, and physically.

While I consider myself a very active person in the first place, the "do more" aspect does not imply overloading your schedule with appointments, classes, workouts, and get-togethers. Rather, it means taking the time to prioritize what is important to you and making sure that what you do on a daily basis is in alignment with those things.

So what is the purpose of "doing more"? It is important to avoid seeing these activities as items on a checklist, but rather take them for what they are and enjoy the experience, the process. This past week, I took my first martial arts class and went kayaking for the first time. There was something to learn from each of these experiences and, ironically, the "takeaway" was the same idea. Be fluid. Do not resist. When defending yourself in martial arts, the more uptight and rigid you become, the less effective you are. While paddling, the more you fight the water, the less control you have. Additionally, I have reached a point in my life where I've asked myself "what next"? And while I cringe at the sight of cliches and overused quotes, one I have recently embraced is:

"If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten."

What's next? Taking the time to travel, pursue new hobbies, experience things I have not done before. Here's to doing more, having less, and building the confidence to head in a new direction. What will YOU do more of?