Pumpkin Spice Protein Muffins

Is it too early for Pumpkin Spice? I had to go to TJMaxx the other day for a gift for someone. I haven’t been shopping in stores much since COVID started back in 2020, and man did I forget just how much I love TJMaxx! The place was full of Fall colors and smells… Candles and Décor galore. Naturally, I left with way more than planned… I got the perfect gift, but also some amazing Fall scented candles, some clearance items for the house, and of course some Pumpkin Spice Coffee.

Once I got home and lit the candles, I knew I wanted to make Pumpkin Spice Protein Muffins for this week. So as promised, here is my latest recipe! I hope you guys enjoy it!

1/2 cup (60g) of Freekeh Flour or Flour of Choice **See Note Below

Dash of Salt

1 Tsp Baking Powder

3 Scoops of ON Gold Standard Vanilla Ice Cream Whey Protein Powder (Or Protein Powder of Choice)

Spices:

1 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon (you can use less, I am a little heavy handed on the cinnamon because I love it)

1 Tsp Ground Nutmeg

1 Tsp Ground Pumpkin Pie Spice

230g Liquid Egg Whites (5 servings of Bob & Evan’s is what I used)

1 Cup of Organic Pumpkin Puree (I used Libby’s)

2 Tbsp (28g) American Dream Nut Butter – Butter My Cookie Flavor (Or Substitute Nut Butter of Choice – I like these because they are lower in Fat and Higher in Protein. Not to mention they taste amazing!)

1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

1/4 C Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

30ML of Sweetener of Choice (I used Sugar Free Maple Syrup)

Optional Icing:

Zero Calorie Confectioner Sugar (Swerve, Truvia, other)

Vanilla Protein Powder

Splash of Almond Milk

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees

Spray 16 Muffin Tins with Non Stick Cooking Spray (I do not recommend using papers for protein muffins because they are lower in fat – so they don’t have the oils/moisture to prevent them from sticking to the paper and then you miss out on the muffin, lol)

In a Bowl, Combine the Dry Ingredients (on the list above from flour to the spices) – Sift with a whisk or fork so fully combined.

In another Bowl Combine the Wet Ingredients (on the list above from Egg Whites to 30ML of Sweetener of Choice. Whisk together until fully combined.

Slowly Add the Dry Mixture to the Wet Mixture. Stir until fully combined.

Transfer the Muffin Mixture into the Muffin Tins.

Bake in the oven roughly 10-12 minutes or until fully cooked (toothpick test).

Remove the Muffins from Muffin Tins and transfer to a cooling rack.

For the Optional Icing just mix 1 part vanilla protein powder, with 3 parts zero calorie confectioner sugar (small amounts – like start with a Tsp size amounts) add a splash of Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk or Milk of Choice. (Note: Too much milk will make this watery so use like a Tsp to start and slowly add til desired thickness level is achieved) Using a basting brush, gently baste the icing onto the muffins. Top with a little cinnamon/stevia blend if desired.

Once cooled, I wrap these individually and freeze them. But they are delicious warm. I reheated daily for about 25 seconds in the microwave and enjoy with my coffee.

**Note: I wanted to share a little side note on Freekeh Flour. Freekeh Flour is a type of wheat flour that yields low fat but high fiber and a decent amount of protein. I am including a link below with a few screen shots. You can substitute any flour you prefer, but I personally am trying to keep fat at bay while currently on a reduced calorie diet. Yes, you heard me… I eat muffins daily on my reduced calorie diet 😉 You’re welcome. lol.

What is Freekeh?

https://www.freekeh-foods.com/nutrition

Thanks again for visiting; Hope you guys enjoy this Recipe!

Cinnamon Oat Protein Muffins

Couldn’t sleep last night, so I decided to make my protein muffins for the week. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) I was out of the flour I was using for my Breakfast Muffins, so I had to improvise since it was like 2 in the morning. This recipe came out awesome and I am really happy with it!

Hope you guys enjoy it!

Ingredients:

80g of Cinnamon Oat Kodiak Cake Pancake Mix (Kodiak Cakes Powder Cakes)

3 Scoops of Protein Powder of Choice (I Used 93g Gold Standard Vanilla Ice Cream Whey Protein Powder)

11g Apple Cinnamon Protein4 Oats (by PE Science)

1 tsp Baking Powder

1/4 tsp salt

3 tsp of sweetener of choice (I used Truvia Brown Sugar Blend)

28g American Dream Nut Butter – Butter My Cookie Flavor

184g Liquid Egg Whites

5.3oz. Greek Non Fat Plain Yogurt

4oz. Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

1 tsp Cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

Spray Muffin Tin(s) with Non Stick Cooking Spray (Makes 16 Standard Size Muffins)

Combine Kodiak Cakes Powder, Protein Powder, Protein4Oats, Salt, Cinnamon and Baking Powder in a Mixing Bowl. Sift thoroughly with Fork or Whisk.

In Another Mixing Bowl combine the Egg Whites, Sweetener, American Dream Nut Butter, Greek Yogurt and mix well until fully combined.

Add the Dry Ingredients from Bowl One into Bowl Two and Mix together until fully combined.

Add the Almond Milk. Mix until fully incorporated.

Transfer the mix into the Greased Muffin Tins.

Bake in the oven 10-12 minutes or until fully cooked (time may vary based on oven size and true temp, etc.)

Remove from Oven, Transfer to a cooling rack, let them cool and enjoy! I wrap mine individually and freeze them.

(Below is the macro breakout info if you don’t make substitutions, if you enter the ingredients into myfitnesspal)

Check out my recipes tab in the Menu for other recipes! Be sure to subscribe, like, share, etc. 🙂

Protein Muffins

Ingredients

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 Cup King Arthur Keto Wheat Flour*

12 tsbp(184g) of liquid egg whites

4 tsp Truvia Brown Sugar Blend

4 Tbsp Sugar Free Syrup of Choice**

1 1/2 Cups Canned Pumpkin Puree

4 Tbsp Butter My Cup American Dream Nut Butter (Or nut butter of choice)***

3 Scoops of Vanilla Whey Protein (I Used Syntha 6 Edge Vanilla Milkshake- to reduce carbs and fats you can use a different protein)****

1Cup Chopped Banana (I sliced the banana into wheels, then cut each wheel into quarters – so fairly chunky)

1/2 Cup Frozen or Fresh Blueberries (I used frozen)

18 Muffins using a standard muffin/cupcake tin

Macros: Roughly 80 Calories: 2.1g F, 7.4g C, 8.3g P

Preheat the Oven to 350 Degrees

Spray the muffin tin/tins with non stick cooking spray (I don’t recommend using papers for any protein based muffins because they will most likely stick to the paper)

Combine Dry Ingredients in one bowl (Baking Powder, Salt & Flour)

Combine Wet Ingredients (from egg whites to nut butter above) in a large mixing bowl, stir until fully combined.

Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients

Add the Whey protein powder to the larger bowl and stir in until fully incorporated

Fold in the bananas and blueberries

Pour into the muffin tin

Bake for about 10-12minutes (can vary depending on oven and pan type)

Remove from oven, and remove the muffins from the pan – put them onto a cooling rack

Enjoy!

*You Can substitute other flours – I chose the King Arthur Keto because it is lower in fat than almond flour, but still only has 8g of carbs per serving.  It also yields 17g of protein!  It is a wheat based flour.  

** You can substitute regular maple syrup, or honey or agave as well.  It is really a preference.

***I chose American Dream Nut Butter because most of their flavors are higher in protein and lower in fat and carbs than traditional PB.  Plus they taste AMAZING!!!  They have a ton of flavors.  But yes, you can substitute another nut butter if you prefer! Their website is: https://www.americandreamnutbutter.com/ if you’re interested in checking them out. (Promo codes can be found on Instagram from their Ambassadors!)

**** I Chose the Syntha 6 Edge Vanilla Milkshake because I heard it is better for baking than Gold Standard (which is the whey protein I usually buy in bulk)  You can substitute any protein of choice.  I just recommend vanilla and something on the sweeter side since the muffin’s don’t have a lot of sweetener.  If you choose an unflavored protein, you can bump up sweetness with some Stevia or Truvia.

Lastly – I chose banana/blueberry – but you could also do another fruit or chocolate chips, or any combo really.

Easy Macro Friendly Chicken Nachos

Chicken Nachos was a staple in our house growing up. I am always looking for ways to cut calories and making meals healthier without cutting flavor!

These easy macro friendly chicken nachos were an easy meal that take 30 minutes or less to prepare.

What I used:

B Free Gluten Free Wraps

Shredded Chicken Breast (I used a rotisserie chicken from my local grocery store)

Reduced Fat Shredded Cheese (I like a Mexican or Taco Cheese Blend)

Half a packet of Low Sodium Taco Seasoning (you can also make your own if you prefer)

Veggies of Choice (I used chopped green, red, and jalapeno peppers and yellow onion. You can use any veggies you like on your nachos! Some people like other pepper varieties or chopped tomatoes, green chiles, black olives, etc.)

Step One: Making Chips Out of Tortillas

Cut the B Free Wraps into triangles (think of it like you’re slicing a pizza). Line a cookie/baking sheet with foil and arrange the triangles on there so they are not over lapping. (Depending how many chips you want this may take a few batches, but they take only a few minutes to make.) Lightly spray the tortillas with a cooking spray of your choice, then season with salt and pepper. Place them on the top rack (or in the broiler if you have a broiler drawer on your oven). Broil for just a minute or two (until slightly browned) then pull them out and flip them over. Lightly spray and salt and pepper the second side once flipped, then return them to the oven for another minute or two until slightly browned on the second side. Remove from oven and put them aside (I usually put them on a plate) then repeat the process until you have enough tortilla chips for your nachos.

B Free Wraps Macros
A close up of some of the left over homemade tortilla chips (using B Free Wraps)

Step Two: Prepare the chicken

I purchased a rotisserie chicken then shredded the breast meat. This was a small chicken and made about a cup and a half of chicken for my nachos. A perfect amount for two people.

Add one part mayo to one part plain greek yogurt and the desired amount of taco seasoning. (I used a little less than half a packet, but it depends on how much chicken you have and the taste you prefer).

Mix until fully combined.

Step Three: If your veggies didn’t come chopped up, then I suggest washing and cutting up your veggies so they are ready in advance.

Step Four: Preheat the oven to 350

Step Five: Make the Nachos

Line a cookie/baking sheet with foil (or use the same one you used to make your chips on). Arrange your desired amount of chips overlapping so there are no gaps on the foil. Scoop the chicken mixture onto the chips – (spread out evenly).

If your chicken is cold then put the nacho chips in the oven for a few minutes at this point to warm up the chicken. I’d say probably 5-7 minutes.

Pull the chicken and chips out of the oven and sprinkle with desired amount of cheese and veggies.

Return to the oven until cheese is melted (usually another 5-7 minutes).

I severed mine with Fresh Salsa and Plain Greek Yogurt in place of sour cream. But you could also enjoy with other sauces like guacamole.

Enjoy!

Motivation Vs. Habit

A few phrases I hear all too often:

  1. “I wish I had your motivation”
  2. “ Where do you get your motivation?”
  3. “How can I become more motivated to get healthy?”
  4. “How can I become more motivated to build muscles?”

The answer to any of these questions has nothing to do with motivation, it is about building habit. It is about doing the things you need to do, even on the days you don’t want to do it.

Motivation is defined as “the desire or willingness of someone to do something”. Habit is defined as “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up”.

I want you to take a minute and think about those two definitions. Now how many people do you think just have a natural desire to eat clean and workout everyday? Like seriously. Not many! Motivation comes from building habits that revolve around your goals. You want to achieve a goal, so you develop habits that will support you in getting there. Goals are what motivate us. Motivation is great, but sometimes it’s not what is going to get the job done.

Now there is a whole bunch of different information out there regarding how long it takes to build a habit. I have read everything from 21 days to 66 days to 50 repetitions, to 254 days (I included references for these figures below). I think it is probably somewhat dependent on the person. No two of us are alike, and just like how our bodies adapt to diets, stress, exercise, etc. differently, we most likely also all learn somewhat differently and build habits at different rates.

Just like anyone else, I have days I don’t want to workout, or eat clean, or do much of anything but relax. But the difference between me and someone who is just starting on their health and fitness goals, is that I have already built a habit out of working out, eating healthy and getting a good nights rest. So most of the time, even on the days I just am worn out from a stressful day at work, or a crappy night’s sleep, I can muster up the courage to get in a workout.

I still fall off track sometimes. Just like any human, I have set backs. But because I have already built a habit of living a healthier lifestyle, it is usually easier for me to jump back into the swing of things if I fall off track for a few days.

So if you find yourself asking questions similar to the ones I listed above, my advice to you is to stop focusing on the motivation, and start focusing on the goal, and making a habit out of eating healthier, or exercising more, or going to bed on time, or drinking more water, etc.

It doesn’t just have to be health and fitness related. This also goes for developing new skills, or achieving a goal to advance in a career, or have better communication skills, make more friends, etc.

A perfect example:

Now bare with me for a second on this because I am going to bounce around a bit, but it will all make sense in the end…

I hate stretching. I haven’t stretched really in probably 7 or 8 years…. SEVEN OR EIGHT YEARS PEOPLE!!! That’s ridiculous. Lol. Stretching is so important and so good for our bodies! But I just never liked setting aside the time honestly. And the worst part is I sit at a desk for 7-9 hours a day, which can cause all kinds of aches and pains and slouching and leaning to one side, etc.


Recently, a friend of mine decided he was going to start drawing. And every day he draws a picture. And everyday he sends me a picture of the picture he drew, and the image he is using as a reference for his artwork. And everyday he is getting a little better at it! Well this “habit” that he is building, has motivated me to want to build some better habits of my own.

So I decided I was going to start stretching everyday. I set my goal at 30 days of consistent stretching every morning. 30 days, that’s it. Because I know, 30 days isn’t much. 30 days is enough though, that I know I will feel the results and want to continue to stretch. It is a realistic and attainable goal, that will allow me to work towards building a habit out of stretching regularly. When I hit the 30 days, I will set another goal of maybe another 30 days, or maybe 45. Maybe I will try some different stretches for the second 30 day goal.

Now where these tie together, is every day when he sends me a photo, he asks me how the stretching is going. Now we are holding each other accountable for our goals!!! This is an important and helpful tactic to help you build habits! ACCOUNTABILITY! So if you struggle to achieve your goals on your own, have an accountability partner! You don’t have to see them everyday, or even talk everyday. It can be daily, or every few days, or once a week; but don’t be afraid to talk to a friend and ask them to partner up with you on accountability.

So again… To recap…

  1. Don’t focus on motivation or lack thereof, focus on the goals and create steps to achieving those goals (that will become habits)
  2. Set small, attainable goals that will help you build habits to help you get to bigger goals. (Like my 30 days of stretching example)
  3. Make yourself a daily checklist for your habits/tasks that need to happen and follow through with them. Check them off or cross them off as you complete them each day.
  4. Get an accountability partner. Whether you have the same goals and are working together, or different goals and are just checking in with each other, get a friend to help you stay on track.

References:

https://medium.com/swlh/21-day-habit-timeline-how-to-form-a-habit-in-21-days-day-by-day-92298446bf6b

Are Your Goals Aligned with Your Motivators?

What drives you? No I mean what REALLY drives you deep down in your soul? That passion and love that make your heart hurt. That’s what I am talking about. If the answer isn’t somehow involved with your goals (whether personal, spiritual or mental growth) then maybe it is time re-evaluate.

Can goals involve other people? Absolutely. Example: “I want to have a better relationship with (insert noun here)”. Or “I want to be a better parent”. Or “I want to be more involved in my kids school or hobbies”. Or “I want to spend more time with my family”. Maybe love as a whole is that driving factor. Maybe it’s your kids, or your spouse or best friend or pet. Maybe it’s yourself. Maybe it’s your job or a sport you play or a hobby you are passionate about. Maybe its music. Maybe it’s community and being involved in helping others. Maybe it’s an itching you’ve always had to do something to change the world. Regardless of what it is, that passion and love deep down… THAT’S what fuels success. Usually its a combination of things that motivate us, so don’t feel overwhelmed if it’s multiple things that come to mind as you’re reading this.

To be honest, I find that many people that tell me they are struggling with their goals it is because their goals are not aligned with their drive or motivation. Being in tune with yourself is an important part of balance and success.

Step one is knowing what your drivers are and building your goals to be aligned with your love and passion for those drivers. Write them down. Maybe not all at once but maybe when you’re feeling them in the moment. Or if you don’t know where to begin, try to make a list first then narrow it down later. I’d suggest you make tally marks next to each item on the list every time you get that love or passion for them to help organize them by importance to you over time.

Step two is linking your goals back to your drivers. This can be directly or indirectly. (I will provide a few examples below of what I mean by this.) This will help you prioritize your goals and stick to the important ones.

Examples:

Lets say one of your drivers is your kids and you just want to be involved in their lives as much as possible.

A direct link would be directly related to that driver. So a few goal examples would be: volunteering for school field trips or being interested and involved in your kids hobbies or after school activities. It might also be having a special parent/kid day (or even family day) once a week or once a month where you guys do stuff together like hiking or trying something new together to build a stronger bond.

An indirect link would be a goal that is indirect to the driver but still links back to it. For example if you have a goal to lose 20lbs, how can that tie back to your kids? Make a list of all the pros of losing the 20lbs and how they can relate back to the driver.

Here are a few examples of things you may find on that list: more energy, more active, better mood, healthier, better quality of life, setting an example for your kids that goals are important and you can and will achieve them. Now personalize it so it appeals to you when you read it: “I will achieve my goal of losing 20lbs because I want to have more energy (some may add..so I can do more with my kids)”, and so on and so forth for each pro on the list.

Another way you could link this goal of losing 20lbs back to the driver is maybe doing something active with your kids like hiking, biking, walking, running, playing sports, dancing, or even trying something new with them. Maybe cooking healthy meals together.

These are just a few examples to elaborate and give you a better understanding of how to tie your goals back to your drivers. This is important because if a goal is not linked to our drivers or motivators in some way, we tend to push them off because they just aren’t that important.

Goals that are less important are still goals. But if we are constantly setting goals that are not important to us (not linked somehow to our motivators) we may eventually feel like goals aren’t worth it because we never succeed. This is something we want to stay away from so it is important to set realistic and attainable goals, that motivate us. In the example above, if 20lbs seems too difficult, maybe start with 10lbs, or even 5lbs and then build from there. “I lost 5lbs, I feel great and I know I can lose 5 more.”

And finally step three is seeing the goal in your mind already achieved by you. Think into the future and picture yourself achieving that goal. Feel those feelings internally that you expect to feel when you are successful and the goal is achieved and hold onto this until it happens. Close your eyes, and mentally go here on the hard days.

Another really important part of being in tune with yourself is accepting failure and knowing it’s okay to fail as long as you don’t give up. You don’t really hear/read about the failures on social media. Most people don’t post about the days or even months they fall off track, because it’s not motivating. But they happen! To all of us! It is important to know when you fall off track or have a few bad days it doesn’t mean give up. It means dust yourself off, let it go, and pursue on. Shit happens.

I am finding that the older I get, the better I get at being in touch with who I am, what motivates me and where I want to be in this life. (And no I’m not just talking health and fitness goals- I am talking life goals). Things that used to seem like big obstacles now seem smaller. I may be bummed out for a moment but I seem to overcome them faster because I just say “I’m not going to let this slow me down”. I look ahead and see my goals just beyond the clouds obstructing my view. This is because I have trained my brain to have a better outlook on things. (Because I have been setting goals that are linked to my drivers and achieving them.) I have a better mindset overall.

Let me just end this by telling you, I am just a regular, hard working, woman who has had her fair share of struggles and found this method helpful when setting goals and sticking to them. This post is simply my opinion and advice. Take it like a grain of salt, or give it a try and see if it works for you!

The Quarantine Struggle Part Three…Working Out From Home

Let’s be honest with ourselves… If you’re a gym goer, working out at home is TOUGH. (If you already workout at home you are probably crushing it during the “Stay at Home” Order. So kudos to those people.) But us gym goers miss the gym! For many of us, the gym is our zen, our balance, our therapy, our happy place. It might be where you see your friends or lifting buddy that you now don’t get to see. It might be where you push yourself your hardest and achieve new goals. It might be where you take your favorite workout class. This is just to name a few reasons why people who love the gym, LOVE the gym! So what do we do about not having a gym?

We modify and adapt! No gym? No problem. As hard as it may feel when some of us are thinking about it and over analyzing all the reasons why a home workout isn’t good enough, it really doesn’t need to be that complicated. For every day you sit and sulk about “no gym” you’re missing an opportunity to do a home workout to maintain your lean muscle mass, or keep unwanted body fat off, or break a great sweat! This is also a GREAT opportunity to start if you haven’t started!

A workout doesn’t NEED to be done with gym equipment.

Improvise:

If you have some dumbbells, kettle bells or barbells at home, great! If you don’t? Who cares! If you look on social media right now the home workouts are off the charts! People are improvising in so many different ways. Using everything from water bottles to gallon jugs, buckets and broomsticks, wooden boards and cinder blocks. Those innovative, creative people, that are modifying and adapting, those are the ones who are successful in their fitness goals!

If makeshift free weights isn’t your thing, you can still do body weight workouts and just focus on intensity rather than load. (Increase the reps, or do super sets, or HIIT training.)

Side Note: Don’t forget you can also use resistance bands. I have been telling people for years, resistance bands are a GREAT investment. Not only can you use them at home, but you can use them at work, or when you travel also! You can get a full body workout with a good set of resistance bands.

For my class people, that prefer the group atmosphere and setting: Some gyms are offering FB Live Workouts. If your gym isn’t, maybe check out some of the other gyms that are, or get on a video chat with your Bestie and stream a workout video you guys can do together. Help each other stay accountable. This is also helpful for people who prefer/enjoy a workout partner. Get on FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype with your gym partner and create fun workouts together.

Where Do You Start?

You start now! By figuring out which home workout style fits you best. Write out a plan for yourself each week and add it to that daily checklist (from Part One, Remember?). Whether you are following online workouts, streaming workout videos, doing a live workout with a group, or even just going for walks outside, commit to it! Make yourself a plan and fit it into your schedule. It doesn’t matter if its 30 minutes or 2 hours, just get it on your agenda and get it done!

I hope this information has been useful! And don’t forget, the gyms may be closed, but you can always hire an online coach to help!

Lastly, I want to mention the other important parts of this equation, which are your diet and sleep habits. If you’re eating like crap and/or not getting enough sleep, no amount of exercise is going to fix that. Get your diet and exercise in line with your goals and make sure you’re getting enough sleep at night. Stay the course, modify and adapt to the challenges we are facing and keep moving forward!

The Quarantine Struggle Part Two… How to Obtain a Healthy Work/Life Balance when Working from Home in 5 Easy Steps.

Ah, working from home… Many people think this is a luxury until they actually have to do it, like during this “Stay at Home” Order we are currently in. It sounds great, but in reality it can be quite difficult for a number of reasons. Here are a few:

  • Have trouble focusing on work, when you are in your home environment
  • Too many distractions in your house (family, pets, chores to be done, etc.)
  • Lack of Structure – not sure when to start or end your workday. Some days you may find yourself working at 5am while drinking your coffee in your pajamas and other days you may be working at 6pm when your family is asking what’s for dinner and when you’ll be done?

So this is just to name a few, but I am sure there are others, and some have different variables depending on what your “home life” looks like (ie. roommates, kids, neighbors, etc.)

So let’s talk about how we can tackle these obstacles and distractions for work/life balance.

Step One: Do not work in your pajamas. Once in a while it is okay, but honest opinion, this hurts productivity. You’re too relaxed, too unfocused. Get up, get showered and dressed as if you’re going into the office. This gets you into the mindset to work. The mindset to be productive and get shit done.

Step Two: Have a designated work-space. Whether it is at the kitchen table/counter, or if you have a desk or home office, or a quiet corner in your bedroom (not in your bed – again, too relaxed and hurts productivity), set a designated work area where you can set up your computer and paperwork and focus on work.

Step Three: Set time for work. Whether you are working full time or part time from home. Don’t be all willy-nilly and just work a little here and a little there. For example, if you are planning to put in 4 hours of work, set aside the four hours, like 9am-2pm; Or 8am-12pm, or maybe you’re a night shift person and then it’s like 6pm-10pm. Whatever it is, set the time aside for work, and stick to it. (Side note: This step is important because it tells you this is your designated time to be working on work, and will help you focus on the work and not on distractions.)

Step Four: Create a schedule or plan each day. Similar to with your daily checklist from Part One, you will have a plan or check list for your work day. You may not know what you need to complete when you first sit down, but as you go through emails/phone calls, etc. create a list. Write down the tasks you know you need to complete so that you know during that window of designated work time, you are focused on completing those tasks.

Step Five: When work is done, leave your work space. Don’t linger and check emails, or pop on and off to do tasks periodically throughout the day (unless absolutely necessary). Save it for the next day. Enjoy the time you have NOT working whether it’s watching a little TV, listening to music, completing house chores, or projects or helping your kids with homework, or taking a nice walk. Whatever it is, make sure you disconnect from work so there is no “gray area”.

A few important side notes below:

IMPORTANT: Family, kids, roommates, pets… AKA our Living Distractions (As opposed to non-living like chores, tv, snacks, etc.) can still make this difficult. Teaching your living distractions that when you are working you should not be bothered can take a little practice but it is possible! This is why it is important that you have a designated work time and a designated work-space. By creating a routine, it is a lot easier for others to be understanding, respectful and adaptable to your new schedule. Be patient with them, and don’t give up when it feels hopeless or frustrating. Understand that this is new for them too and may be frustrating for them as well. Usually it takes a few days to a week or so for people/pets to understand this is part of your routine and priorities.

Another side note because I know this is the case for some: If you have noisy neighbors and live in an apartment, try to plan your working hours around “quiet times” that will help you be able to focus on work. If that is not possible, maybe consider working on the balcony/porch or possibly going to a quiet place outside. Your work-space does not have to be confined to your home, as long as it is sufficient for you to be able to do your job and do it well, and still practicing social distancing of course.

I hope this information has been helpful! I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy and practicing good habits during the “Stay at Home” Order. Stay tuned for additional tips to keep you on track!

The Quarantine Struggle Part One… 6 Easy Steps to keep your motivation levels up!

Hey Friends, I hope everyone is doing well and is safe and staying healthy. I wanted to reach out regarding some of the struggles I have seen during the “Stay at Home” Order on social media. So let’s talk about it…

Lack of Motivation –

Well what is motivation? Motivation is defined as “The general desire or willingness of someone to do something”.

Where does it come from? Well the simple answer is, your brain. The complex answer is our emotional response to the information our brain is processing/telling us. Studies show that if there is a reward attached to the information, this makes it more desirable and our response is to work harder to complete whatever tasks are necessary to achieve the goal or reward. Different things motivate us based on what our different desires are. Whether you realize it or not though, this science is applicable for big things like personal growth, or setting personal goals and for simpler tasks such as completing household chores or getting dressed in the morning.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you hate doing the dishes. Can’t stand it. It drives you nuts. You have a tendency to let the dishes pile up in the sink because your emotional response to the dishes is negative. Doing dishes does not motivate you. And then it gets worse, because you let them pile up for days until you have no choice but to do them because you can’t even get to the faucet anymore. So finally you have to do the dishes and every second of it feels miserable because you are focused on all the negative things that come with the task at this point; Things like the fact you have to scrub the old crusty food off the dishes because they sat there for so long. Some of them might be smelly. Your hands might get dry or rough because it took so long to complete the mountain of dish cleaning.

So now let’s look at it from a different perspective. What could motivate you to do the dishes? Well honestly it could be he very same things that make you hate completing the task. Think about it…If you wash them as you go, it doesn’t take nearly as long. The sink is always empty and clean, your hands won’t get as dried out, because they won’t be sitting in the soapy water as long, the food won’t be all crusted on the plates from days of sitting there, there won’t be a funky odor coming off them. So by focusing on the things you will be avoiding by doing them timely, completing the task might become more desirable and make you more motivated to just do the damn dishes.

So now that we have covered an example, let’s look at how Lack of Motivation is effecting people during the “Stay at Home” Order.

So during the “Stay at Home” Order there are a few consistencies that are really causing a lack of motivation across the board… 1) We can’t go anywhere really. The freedom we had to explore, shop, go out to eat, enjoy things like movies and concerts and the beach are just non-existent. 2) We have to practice Social Distancing. We can’t enjoy the company of family and friends, which is especially hard during major holidays like Easter, or for those celebrating birthdays.

Let’s look at it from the negative first just as we did the dish example. If you can’t go anywhere what’s the point in getting up let alone taking a shower and getting dressed? If you can’t see your family or friends what’s the point of taking care of yourself? No one will notice if you’ve been sitting around in your pajamas for four days watching Netflix and eating frozen pizza and ice cream out of the carton, right?

Now ask yourself… “What in the actual heck am I doing to myself!?”

Now is one of the most important times to stay motivated for yourself! So take a deep breath and let’s talk about how you’re going to do this…

Step One: When you wake up in the morning, take a god damn shower and get dressed as if you are going somewhere. Whether its casual clothes, or gym clothes, or work clothes, get your butt up, get showered and get dressed.

Step Two: Make a schedule for yourself. BE ACCOUNTABLE. Make a list of daily tasks that you are going to complete each day. (This can include anything from work (as many are working from home), house projects, cleaning, reading a book, personal growth and development, home workouts, taking a walk, hitting a certain number of steps, etc.) Write out the list, and cross off the tasks as you complete them. This has been shown to boost motivation and productivity.

Step Three: Plan out your meals and snacks!!! Stop hanging out in the kitchen all day, and plan out what your meals and snacks are as you would on a normal day. Another helpful tip here – don’t buy a whole bunch of junk food. Have healthy snacks available. (Side note: If you have a sweet tooth, check out my recipes tab for some healthier baked options that will satisfy your sweet tooth but still be on the healthier side.)

Step Four: Make sure you are drinking enough water! Even mild dehydration can make us tired or think we are hungry when we really are not. Keep track of how much water you’re consuming each day. (Side note: I start my day every morning with at least 8 ounces of water before I have anything else, including my coffee)

Step Five: Make sure you’re getting some exercise. Whether it is home workouts, or walking around the block, you should be doing something to stay active.

Step Six: Be Productive! Fill your time with tasks that you can feel good about. Whether it’s cleaning out your old closet space of clutter, or learning a new skill, or completing a house project, whatever it is be productive with your time! Make sure to have tasks on your schedule that are realistic and achievable.

Side note: If you choose tasks for your daily checklist that take longer than one day, then break it up into smaller pieces for several days. So for example if it’s taking an online class or reading a book, maybe have on your check list 30 min of reading each day. Or if it was cleaning out the basement, maybe break that up into 4 or 6 parts and say like day one complete far right corner, day two complete the far left corner, and so on and so fourth. That way each day you are checking off the completion of whatever portion of the goals you are working towards.

I hope you guys have found this helpful. Stay tuned for my next few posts which will cover topics such as:

  • how to have a work/life balance when you work from home
  • working out from home
  • how to set goals

The Gluten Free Hype

What is Gluten and is it bad for me?

There has been some confusion about one of the latest fads taking over, so I thought it might be a good topic to discuss on my blog. Lots of people have decided to go “Gluten Free” in recent years and some people believe this is a lower carbohydrate diet than diets containing gluten. So I am going to break it down for you.

Let’s start with the basics…

What is Gluten? Gluten is actually a group of proteins found in wheat that help bind food together and keep its shape (4).

Why Avoid Gluten? There are few reasons people avoid gluten. Number one is Celiac Disease. Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease in which a person has gluten intolerance. When a person with Celiac Disease consumes Gluten, it attacks the lining of their small intestine – leading to issues such as damage to the small intestine, their body doesn’t absorb nutrients from the food as well leading to nutrient deficiencies, and they often experience symptoms like weight loss and diarrhea, not to mention physical pain (1,2). Scary right? Well don’t go all Web MD on me now and self-diagnose… According to research only 1% of the population has Celiac Disease (4). Processed foods contain additives, such as preservatives and extra Gluten to increase shelf life. Number two is Gluten Sensitivity. It is also known as Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) (1,2). About 6-7% of the population has some form of Gluten Sensitivity (4). Symptons of NCGS include abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, headache and fatigue (3). And the third reason people may avoid gluten is, people with other health concerns such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Psoriasis, rheumatologic diseases, or intestinal disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Chrones may benefit from diets that are Gluten Free (4). (1,2,3,4)

Gluten is not only in food products, but also in our skin care products, cosmetics, toothpaste and mouthwash and supplements such as vitamins and minerals (1,2).

Foods that contain gluten are often enriched with vitamins and minerals. And because of the properties of Gluten, our body is able to absorb nutrients from foods sufficiently. That being said, when you remove foods with gluten from the diet, this is also removing essential nutrients from the diet, which can lead to vitamin or mineral deficiencies. If you choose to be on a Gluten Free Diet, it is important to make sure you get proper nutrients from other sources such as lentils, beans, etc. People on Gluten Free diets can still consume foods like potatoes, rice, quinoa, buckwheat… (1,2) There are a lot of cereals now (like Cheerios) that are Gluten Free. There is Gluten Free oatmeal, bread, pasta, cookies! Meaning, Gluten Free is not necessarily “healthier”. If you eat junk, your still eating junk even if it’s Gluten Free (3).

Now, Gluten Free and Low Carb…. Not the same thing. Gluten Free foods, if you compare the nutrition label often have more carbohydrates, and often times less fiber (which means more net carbs for those of you that are not familiar with how net carbs are calculated)(3). Can you be on a gluten free, low carbohydrate diet? Sure. But if you are consuming oatmeal, pasta and bread and think because it is gluten free that it has a lower amount of carbohydrates then you’re mistaken. Also, something to be aware of, a low carbohydrate diet, may also lack essential nutrients that our bodies get through major carbohydrate sources (3). Again, it’s doable if that’s the route you choose to go, but consider the nutritional makeup of your diet as a whole regardless what you choose.

While some people lose weight on gluten free diets, that is really not necessarily because they went “gluten free” as opposed to the fact they may just be eating less or eating healthier in comparison or relative to what they were eating before(3).

So bottom line- Gluten Free diets can be chosen for a lot of reasons but they are not all low carbohydrate, and they often lack essential nutrients that will need to be replaced by other sources in your diet, and should be carefully considered(3). If you feel like you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity, it is best to consult with your physician first.

Ref Sources:

(1) https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/308449.php,

(2) https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/288406.php ,

(3) https://www.insider.com/are-gluten-free-carb-free-the-same2018-2

(4) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-gluten-bad#who-benefits