Tag: health

Fitness Challenge – Take Two!

So when I say “challenge,” I mean this as a challenge to myself. I want to challenge myself to push a little farther, a little harder, and consistently. I want to make myself number one while still making time for everything I have to complete. I want to be healthier. I want to enjoy the holidays and get myself ready for the next chapter of my life – The Family Chapter.

That means I am challenging myself to pick myself up where I fell in Movetober, dust myself off, and get right back at it. That is why this month will be filled with some intense exercising and healthy meals!

My promise to you is that on October 31st, I will post my measurements, weight, and photos to show where I am starting and effective November 1st, I will be pushing myself to do better! Yes, I will be moving at one point during the month, but I will just simply need to factor that in since now I have a plan and am not surprised by changes…

This month, I am also working on my fitness when and where I know I can – at home. While I love going to my smaller gym, getting there after a long day can seem impossible. Plus, getting in a quality full gym workout is not always 100% possible – there are days where time is not on your side. So in lieu of over-promising and under-delivering, I have opted to join the LSF family!

Change is good.

If you don’t know what LSF is, Katie Dunlop is a Certified Personal Trainer in Orange County, California, that I have been following on YouTube for months now. She also has her own website and app that you can follow with easy but effective workouts even when you’re crunched for time.
I found myself really gravitating to her plan because of her story – she was overweight, unhappy with fads, and with a thyroid condition, she opted to take charge of her life and find her happiness. Sounds familiar…

So I paid the 1-month membership, got 7 days free, and downloaded her app. I have previously participated in some of her free workouts and I have to say that they really drum up a sweat!! So I know that I am in for it with her app workouts but I want to continue my journey and improve my health – NO EXCUSES.

If you want to join me on the journey, follow my Instagram at @msbelladaniela. I will post updates and even chat live! I want you all to be a part of this journey and keep me responsible!

So inquiring minds want to know… Have you tried LSF or another workout routine? How do you make time to stay physically active?

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Movetober Challenge – Check-Ins 2 & 3

Yikes. This was NOT the month to start a fitness challenge apparently. Just when I thought it was going to be a smooth month that would allow me the time I needed to focus on school and fitness, one major life-changing moment after another was announced! If you haven’t read my post from last week on my moving announcement, both my husband and I were graciously given opportunities to advance our careers in SoCal. However, that meant we needed to find a place, pack, and move in under a month!

So that being said, my Movetober Challenge was more like a “squeeze exercise in however and whenever possible” challenge. I have been meeting and exceeding my move goal every day (thank you iWatch for keeping me on target) and even made time to actually work out when I could – even if that meant 9 pm at night!

So what is in store for week 04? More of the same! This is crunch time for packing and if you didn’t already know…that IS a work out in and of itself.

But have I seen any improvements to date? YES! So setting my mind to actually work out every day gave me the motivation to meet those daily goals, and even INCREASE them. I took advantage of any opportunity to sneak in a few minutes of exercise whether that was a brisk 15-minute walk during my morning break or doing 7-minute work out challenges at lunch (yep, there is an app for that) or I’ll even sneak in wall-sits for a minute or two when I’m on a conference call!

Yeah, okay so I know you’re saying these are a lot of excuses and what are my results? While the scale hasn’t gone down, it hasn’t gone up either. I have also noticed a lot of non-scale wins like my pants fitting differently or that I was able to finish some workouts (Peloton for the win) without being completely worn out.

I want to still keep pushing myself and working on my physical, mental, and spiritual health. I want to make sure that during this chaotic time, I don’t forget about what is important. I want to make sure I continue to make wise choices and remain positive.

So inquiring minds want to know… What has been your most chaotic time in 2019? How did you overcome those challenges?

Movetober Challenge – Check-In 1

A day late, dollar short…isn’t that how the saying goes? What do they say about 3 days late? Oh man. I failed in my first week in more than one way!

If you can forgive the negligence, this is the first check-in for Movetober and I learned a lot during the first week of the month!

So when you’re traveling, exercising and eating well are immediately pushed to the back of your mind. It’s like your body knows that I left my general zip code so everything important is now historically archived until you return. Needless to say that when I was out of town for 2 days, all attempts at exercising was futile. And if I am going to be perfectly honest, day 3 didn’t happen either because I was mentally and physically drained.

Now that doesn’t mean I didn’t move or meet my calorie-burning goal, at least per my iWatch, but I certainly didn’t adhere to my planned regimen. In fact, I forgot to even pack workout attire -not that it would’ve mattered because I had zero unscheduled/leisure time.

So week 1 was a wash and when it came to check-in, I was so busy with all of the tasks that normally would’ve been done during my vacation that I was go-go-go from 8:30 AM till I passed out.

Now that I have admitted defeat and confessed, I am back on the bandwagon. I even increased my goal on my iWatch and am trying to wake up earlier to make sure that exercising isn’t forgotten – even when I come home late and exhausted. I am keeping myself honest and realizing that perhaps my goals were a bit more aggressive than what I can actually accomplish. So am I giving up? Nope. But I am going to make sure that I am staying honest and staying committed!

So inquiring minds want to know… Do you prefer at-home workouts or do you go to a gym? What regimen do you use in the gym or at home?

12 Ways to Cope with a Migraine

When you look up the word “migraine” in a medical textbook, my photo appears…along with almost every symptom that I experience from light sensitivity to nausea.

Though I have been told many times by family, friends, and even licensed professionals that I am “too young” or “too healthy” or “too naive” to be a migraine-sufferer, I have had migraines almost all my life. I am all too familiar with the difference between headaches, cluster headaches, tension headaches, sinus pressure, and migraines. I have been plugged to machines that have mapped my brain and been told that there was nothing wrong. I have been given anti-seizure medication, migraine pills, and other pharmaceutical remedies to treat what they still put on file as “headaches”. I was told to log when I got a migraine to see what the trigger was and was always thought to be dishonest because no pattern could be determined. I have done home remedies, omitted foods and drinks that “aggravate migraines” and taken countless OTC remedies all to no avail.

This is just a part of my life that I have learned to deal with and though it does cause issues on day to day living, I have a few tricks that help ease some of the pain. Nothing has been 100% fool-proof and I still continue to get migraines, but these are some methods that help me cope.

  1. Acknowledge the pain. There were a few years that I would try and ignore the warning symptoms that a migraine was developing. I did not want to admit that I had to deal with this and most likely the remainder of the day would be shot. However, just denying the pain would not make it go away. I had to accept it and come up with ways to deal with it.
  2. Cool showers. When it is too hot or after extraneous exercise, I am more inclined to get a migraine, so when I feel the beginnings of one, I take a cool shower to help regulate my body temperature and ironically clear my head.
  3. Turn off electronics. Blue light has been increasingly known to hurt our eyes which is also a contributing factor to the onset of migraines. Blue light is emitted from many of our favorite electronic devices from our computer monitors to our cell phones. When my migraine is creeping in, my cell phone is put away, the laptop is closed, and my tablet is shut.
    To help prevent the blue light from causing a migraine in the first place, especially since 8+ hours of my day is spent in front of a computer screen, I wear orange tinted or anti-blue light glasses (which can be bought on Amazon for about $12.99).
  4. Block out light. I use an eye mask to help me block out any ambient light that may irritate my eyes beyond a computer screen. My favorite is one that I also leave in the refrigerator so it helps with the puffiness and blood flow that usually cause my temples to look like they are speakers in a Jersey shore club. I bought mine on Amazon for about $10 (click here) at the time.
  5. Stay cool. My body temperature fluctuates tremendously when a migraine sets in and I can go from boiling hot to freezing cold. However when a full blown migraine hits, I force myself to lay down with a light blanket and the ceiling fan on. This constant flow of air helps the pressure and prevents me from sweating!
  6. Medicine. Yes, there are times where my migraines are too strong and homeopathic methods are simply inadequate. While I do not like to take medication regularly, I also realize that this was all developed for a reason and suffering will only make matters worse. So I will take Excedrin Migraine or other ibuprofen options to help at least take the edge off.
  7. Eat or drink yogurt. Another way I help regulate my internal body temperature as well as help calm an irritable stomach is through the consumption of yogurt. A quick bowl of yogurt is one way or I drink “tahn”. “Tahn” is an Armenian drink  which is simply yogurt mixed with water and some salt -trust me it tastes better than it sounds. Other Middle Eastern countries have their own name and variation for this drink like “ayran” in Turkey, “lassi” or “majjiga” in India, “kefir” or “doogh” in Persian. If I cannot have either, I will at least consume some acidophilus which will help calm my stomach.
  8. Find quiet. Like light, sounds tend to make my migraines worse so when one is developing, or already full-blown, I will make sure that I find some solitude even if that means using ear plugs.
  9. Hydrate. I am not able to eat or drink much of anything when I have a migraine because even toast makes me nauseous. However, dehydration makes my migraines even worse so I will start off with sipping cold water and then make my way to a coffee or tea for the added caffeine. Caffeine, though a dehydrating chemical, helps dilate my blood vessels making it easier for blood to pump. I limit this to one cup though and will continue to drink water until my migraine has subsided.
  10. Steer clear of fragrances. So again, like light and sound, strong smells make the migraine worse and will often make me extremely nauseous. This includes scents that linger from the kitchen. When I get a migraine, I am like a bloodhound and the simpliest smell can make me neasous.
  11. Eat minimally and light. Once the worst of the migraine has passed, I know that I need to eat something. I tend to opt for some toast, cereal, or, if I am feeling lucky, chicken/turkey. I will not, however, eat anything raw (like veggies), dairy, or any other meat until the next day as all of those are harder for me to digest and can aggravate my migraine.
  12. Take it easy. After a migraine subsides, I want to make up for lost time and act like everything is fine. But I have come to learn that doing that will only make things worse. Once I start to feel better, I have to take it easy, often for the remainder of the day, because I feel fatigued and overall weak. Trying to do more than my body will allow will only make me feel worse and often will mean that I will be stuck in bed till the next day.

Headaches suck. Migraines are deplorable. But when you have them, finding your tried and true ways to cope will help. I am also very fortunate to have people in my life that have either experienced migraines themselves or been around other people that have had them, so they truly understand and help me when needed.

So inquiring minds want to know…do you suffer from migraines? What do you do to deal with them?

Movetober Challenge

The weather has shifted officially. October is here and we are in the home stretch of 2019. I officially am consuming PSL everything.

So with the holidays quickly approaching, I want to kick myself into high gear and prepare for the inevitable, and absolutely never avoidable (no matter how hard you try), holiday feasting and festivities! So with that being said, starting October 1st, I am starting my own fitness challenge!

Some of you may recall my weight loss from the past year and how I ballooned at 200 pounds after some major challenging life milestones. I was not eating healthy. I had stopped taking care of myself. I then had compounded health issues which kept making matters worse. I was getting depressed. I didn’t want to interact with friends or family. I wanted to burrow my sorrows in junk and then cry about how I viciously kept doing that. I didn’t know who I was anymore. I hated myself.
That is why I harbor so much on getting healthy, being healthy, and that this is a journey and not a race!

So for the month of October, I am renaming it to Movetober and initiating a challenge – GET MOVING! My goal is to hit the minimum of the items on my calendar below. Every week I will do a Sunday check-in starting with the 6th and share results, obstacles, and wins!

If you want to join me, print the workout calendar above, follow me on Instagram, and comment below! I cannot wait to share results with you and make Movetober a success!

So inquiring minds want to know… Have you ever participated in a fitness challenge before? What areas do you want to work on – lose weight, gain muscle, maintain?

Top 9 Things I Do for a Good Night’s Sleep

I personally need 8+ hours of sleep every night but for the longest time, barely clocked 6. This directly contributed to my stress levels which in turn led to my weight gain and kept the vicious cycle going. Additionally, the sleep deprivation had other consequences like communication issues with my husband and family, inability to focus, delayed reaction times, and so much more. I also knew this was impacting my weight. I knew my temper was shorter. I knew that other stressors were compounding the issue and I was getting sick more often than I should.

So I needed to make an adjustment on my sleeping habits. After some research and trial & error, I incorporated some key features to help me catch those elusive Zzzz’s. Below are the top 9 things I do to improve my sleep and overall well-being. I will try to link the products I use in case you are interested to give it a try for yourself – just remember that I am an Amazon junkie so most items are ordered!

  1. Clean my space – I cannot sleep when the room is full of clutter so I always have to make sure that the room is clear. For example, all of the clothes have to be put away, the shoes are in the closet, and any puppy toys that may have migrated in are put in their play box. A decluttered room means a room with better air flow and a simpler and quieter space. I do take 10-15 minutes a day to clean up my space so there is never a daunting pile waiting for me.
  2. Taking my nightly vitamins – Some people think that the only time you can take vitamins are with your morning coffee. Now there are some vitamins that should not be taken together as they counteract each other and prove to be less effective or altogether harmful. As far as I can remember, vitamin C acted like a sleeping pill for me – whether I took it in its natural form through eating an orange or as a part of a multivitamin ($11.10). I also take magnesium every other night to help my muscles and reduce muscle cramping. I bought mine from Amazon ($10.79)
  3.  Crank up my sound machine – This may sound silly for some but to clear my head and focus, I need to have my surrounding support my focus. Back in Florida, I had a sound machine that helped cancel out any TV sounds from my neighbors, the puppies trying to get attention, my husband typing away on his laptop, the fifth car alarm going off in the parking lot or the fire engine that just always seems to drive by when I was ready to call it a night. So when Amazon had a great lightning deal and I had the chance to replace the sound machine that I gave to my mom, I was thrilled! I did not have to use my phone anymore and could really disconnect. Mine was from Pure Enrichment and it is black and half the price of what I found is currently listed but it is a simple sound machine that takes up almost no space on my nightstand ($29.99).
  4. Color – Yep, you read that correctly – almost every night, especially after a rough day, I will take 10-15 minutes to color with my colored pencils and mandala book. Like my sound machine, this helps me clear my head and stop focusing on events from the day. Plus it helps me build my patience because I was always that kid that colored everywhere BUT in the lines.
  5. Pray –  I am not the most religious person but ever since I was a child, I always had my nightly prayers. Sometimes it was for a sick relative, sometimes it was in vain and was for a delay on a school test, but whatever it was for, I always took the 5 minutes to pray. Maybe it was the ideaology of being a part of something bigger than oneself, or maybe it was something else, but having that informal connection with God is always a part of my night.
  6. Complete my nightly skincare routine – I always make it a point to take off the day before I crawl into bed and prepare my skin for some TLC and repair. Though I will go into this into more detail in a future post, I always wash off all of my makeup, use a toner, apply a face oil, an eye cream, and a lip masque (especially now that I live in a very arid climate).
  7. Complete my nightly dental routine – This is a given but I always make sure that I floss, brush, and rinse with mouthwash before going to bed. I also use my Invisalign guard but that is probably for another day. There have even been nights where I was so tired I passed out before brushing and will wake up, brush, and then go back to bed.
  8. Moisturize – So beyond my face, I always take a few minutes to apply a moisturizer to my body and typically it has a lavender or chamomile scent to help lull me into a deep sleep.
    SLEEP – Lavender and Cedarwood Body Cream
    I also have Keratosis pilaris which is more commonly known as chicken skin or permanent goosebumps. The moisturizer I use for my upper arms help exfoliate and reduce the inflammation. I have bought Amlactin ($12.59) from Amazon, Walgreens, and most recently at Costco (which is the best deal) and would recommend you buy the small bottle first to test it out before the full commitment.
  9. Set the room – I need to make sure that my room’s ambiance helps set the stage for a restful night so I draw my blackout curtains from Target (Rune Printed Heathered Blackout Panel) and fill the room with the scent of lavender which really helps me calm down and drift into a restful night. I have used the Febreeze brand with Mediterranean Lavender but recently switched to a more conscientious and inexpensive brand, Mrs. Meyers ($5.89) when I don’t have my essential oil diffuser on blast:

Each of these, though simple, help me turn my mind off and get ready for a quality night’s sleep. I do change things up every now and again as I find new ways, techniques, and products that aim to help with sleep. I also want to make sure that my techniques are not disruptive to guests or my husband or the doggies. 

Inquiring minds want to know… What do you do to have a restful night? Do you have any tips or tricks that you find particularly helpful?

Recipe: Stuffed Bell Peppers with Turkey

While everyone says that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, I say that lunch should be the biggest!

Some of you know that I am on a healthy journey and trying to lose some weight that stress, moving, and the holidays have all packed on. One of the changes I wanted to make was to take a page from the Mediterranean diet and make lunch my biggest meal. This helps me to eat and burn. In other words, I am not going to bed after eating a large meal and letting my body turn those calories into sugar which adds to those hips! By eating a larger meal at lunch, I am active for hours following which means those calories are absorbed as energy instead!

So one of the best things about living in California is the abundance of produce no matter what time of the year! After a trip to the grocery store this past weekend, I came home with a receipt that was way too long but managed to scoop out some great items! One of which was these amazing red bell peppers. So what to do with these sweet treats?


Stuffed Red Bell Peppers with Grounded Turkey and Basmati Rice

IMG_2191

Ingredients

  • 4 large green bell peppers
  • 1½ teaspoons extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
  • 1 medium Spanish onion, chopped
  • 6 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1½ cups cooked basmati rice
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce, (1 cup), divided
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt (add more to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions

  1. Make sure that your Basmati rice is cooked al dente. Remember that it will cook a little more in the peppers!
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. Hollow out the peppers by cutting out stem ends of bell peppers; I saved the tops to put on top for decoration. Scoop out seeds.
  4. Make sure the bottom of your large nonstick skillet is coated with olive oil. Heat the oil in over medium heat. Add onion, shallots, and garlic and cook, until the onions are soft (about 3-5 minutes). Add turkey mixing with the onions, shallots, and garlic, just until it looks brownish, about 2-4 minutes.
  5. Add precooked Basmati rice and mix with turkey. Add 1 cup of tomato sauce and continue to mix together. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Stuff the peppers with the mixture, leaving behind any fat and place them in an oven-safe dish like a 2-quart casserole dish. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes to finish cooking the meat and rice mixture. Then cover and finish baking for 10-15 minutes until peppers are tender.

So inquring minds want to know… Are you going to try this recipe? Have you made something similar? Do you have any go-to meals that you make for dinner/lunch? Tag me on your IG if you try this recipe or your own variation of it – @ms_bella_daniela!

5 FRUGAL Tips for Self-Care

Let’s take a second to think about our daily list of to-dos. For a good percentage of us, there is family, work, household (includes the cooking, cleaning, and upkeep), friends…and in some cases like mine, school. So what is the one thing we have forgotten? Ourselves.

It isn’t uncommon to put everything and everyone over ourselves thinking that when our cup runneth over with helping others, that is all we need. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Plus with technology consuming the majority of our lives from the television to our cell phones, it is so easy to lose track of time and end up in a downward spiral of YouTube videos or Amazon shopping. Dare I say that some of us even feel guilty, or are made to think that putting ourselves first is selfish.

There have been many times that I have ‘crashed’ or ‘burned out’ because of the fact that I have given over 100% of myself to everything else in my life. Eventually, my body, my spirit, my mind -they all shut down because you can only run on adrenaline for so long before you putter out -just like a car without a full tank of gasoline. And yet I repeatedly find myself starting the vicious cycle after I recuperate – seemingly never learning my lesson!

However, I am the first to admit that if I am not taking care of myself first, then everything else will topple over like a bad tower of Jenga blocks. So I have started to incorporate some self-care techniques to help myself be a better me – all at no cost which makes it an easier pill to swallow if you will. While these may not be appropriate for everyone, they have been working for me and those around me – I have even received feedback that people have noticed a change in me!

1 – Incorporate sleep. Simple enough, right? Well, do you know how many hours your body needs to feel optimal? I personally need between 8-9 hours of sleep -any less and I am a shell of myself; any more and I actually am sluggish. So I have my phone set with a reminder on when I need to be asleep by, give myself a 30-minute buffer to take care of my nighttime routine, and am in bed. This took a long time to get used to the routine, especially when I am submerged in a great Netflix movie, doing homework, or spending time with friends/family. But I know that without my proper sleep, I am not myself so I force myself to make sleep my number one self-care tactic.

2 – Exercise daily. Sounds insane, right? We are always complaining that there aren’t enough hours in the day but if you think about the fact that there are 1,440 minutes in a day, making 30 for exercise doesn’t seem so bad. Now I am not saying you have to go to the gym every day or become a triathlon athlete, but if we can make it a point to do some form of exercise every day, you are helping promote a better self. Exercise is proven to have long term benefits with reducing heart disease, reducing weight, and so much more. But think about reducing stress – 30 minutes of brisk walking to clear your head after a long day or 30 minutes of low impact yoga before your day starts to start off on the right foot… This will also help your body catch up to your mind and help establish proper sleep at the day’s end – just don’t start to exercise less than 2 hours before bed!

3 – Learn that saying “no” is healthy. So often we are told that “no” is essentially a bad word. We should always say “yes” and welcome the responsibilities. But think about the last time you said “no” to someone or something…did the world stop? Saying “no” sometimes can be self-empowering because you are taking control of your self, your actions, your choices. And this gives you the opportunity to reassess what you are saying “yes” to before making the promise for one…more…thing. Saying “no” could also help prevent burnout because you are not adding yet another event, assignment, or chore to your plate.

4- Schedule “me” time. Just like you schedule a meeting, schedule time dedicated to just you. So you can paint, knit, read, sew, meditate, or whatever you want during that time but it is your dedicated time. Start with just 15 minutes and adjust as necessary. This is the time that is exempt from anything else but you. I have personally made some time at the start of my day, waking up earlier so I can get my time to do whatever I need to – check my emails, respond to text messages, read, exercise, meditate or try to map out the winning lottery numbers (a girl can dream). I then dedicate 15 minutes at the end of the day to recap, plan, and reflect.

5- Use positive language. So what does that mean? Well, let me ask you a simple question – how do you describe yourself when something didn’t go as planned? Do you say: “I am so stupid”? Or how about when you need to describe yourself physically? Do you say: “I am overweight.” or “My hair is messy” or “I feel frumpy”? This is all negative language and it feeds into a cycle of unhealthy behavior. Changing the negative adjective for something more positive can lift you up and alter perception. So “I am so stupid” becomes “I am going to ask for help” or “I can try this again”. You can do this with others too – instead of saying “I’m sorry for being late” try saying “Thank you for waiting for me”; this cuts the negativity and acknowledges positive actions!

Sure there are plenty more steps that we can take to start to take better care of ourselves, but this is not a marathon -it’s a journey. So every step towards better self-care, improved mental health, improved physical health…that is what matters! And sometimes finding a frugal way to make those improvements are even better!

So inquiring minds want to know… What do you do for self-care? Do you have any other techniques to share? How do you make time for yourself?

Health: Protein Powder Supplements

In order to maintain a healthy weight and still allow my body enough nutrients, I have been turning to protein powders to fill some of my dietary gaps. Many of you know that I have opted to having a healthy, homemade smoothie every weekday that usually supplements my breakfast and lunch. So how do I get one little smoothie to actually fill me up that much that I’m not order GrubHub every day? Protein.

Now by protein I don’t necessarily mean straight out fish or eggs or meat or diary but rather a supplement powder that can be added to the cocktail of fruits and vegetables. I am sure you have seen a wide variety of protein powders on the shelves of your local grocery store, but are they all created equal? Simply put, no.

So I want to break down the different types of protein powders available which are the foundation of the supplement, regardless of whatever name is on the label. Some supplements are good for vegans while others are meant to help you gain muscle mass. So which is which? Keep reading!

1) Whey Protein – this is originally derived from milk and is the leading type of protein that is used in supplemental shakes. It is often sold in a powder form and is believed to enhance the immune system. It is also the least expensive type of protein powder and is often enhanced to have better taste by the introduction of flavorings like chocolate or coffee or vanilla. Whey protein also comes in two varieties:

  • a) Whey Concentrate
  • b) Whey Isolate

Yep, so you get twice as confused when you head over to your nutrition store or order online. The main difference between the two? Whey concentrate, like the name states, is concentrated so it is less expensive and has a lower dose of lactose. On the other hand, Whey Isolate has almost no fat and typically has little to no lactose.

2) Casein or Milk Protein – Yep, so this is not to be confused with whey protein which is also a milk derivative (whey and casein actually make up whole milk on a 20:80 ratio). Casein, unlike whey, is slowly absorbed by the body releasing amino acids more steadily. This form of protein has been noted by researchers to be the better option for those that are active while whey is more aligned with stimulating protein synthesis during periods of rest.

3) Egg White Protein – So the name gives it away, but this protein is the old time go-to for protein supplement. Though the taste is gross in comparison to the flavor-enhanced whey and casein proteins, egg white protein has the same low levels of fat and carbs. So perhaps this is an option if you must stay away from dairy.

4) Plant Protein – Instead of listing out each one, this cumulative “plant protein” concept includes protein from plants like soy, rice, or pea. Vegetarian or Vegan? This is the option that is selected most by people that cannot have dairy or are staying away from animal products. They provide the same amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants as their competitors. However, these also provide their plant-benefits so for example, soy protein also has isoflavones which provides added antioxidants and has heart benefits. Typically these are more expensive than their milk counterparts but are easily found at any store.

5) Beef Protein – Saved for last as it is most commonly used by bodybuilders, as is beef in general. Beef protein, as the name suggests, is derived from beef but is also sorted down to remove high levels of fat and cholesterol while also introducing a flavoring like chocolate or vanilla. In addition to the protein benefit, this protein also offers creatine (which is an organic acid that provides energy to the cells of the body, specifically muscle).

So that’s the list but what does it mean and do you need added protein in your diet? Since most of us are not athletes or body building, please keep in mind that I am speaking to and for average consumers. That means that the following are reasons why the average person is suggested to consume that protein concoction:

  1. You’re not done growing – You are a teenager whose body needs protein as fuel for your muscles to continue to grow.
  2. You’re not done growing – You are an adult that is looking to grow more muscle mass.
  3. You’re not done growing – You have decided that running on the treadmill is not enough and you want to participate in a marathon or started HIIT workouts. Amped up workouts, or workouts that are beyond one’s normal regimen, would require additional fuel in the form of protein.
  4. You’re done growing but you got hurt – Protein feeds your muscles and helps them heal so if you’re in recovery, protein helps the healing process. This is also why it is often recommended to have protein after a workout.
  5. You’re vegan – Nothing wrong with this lifestyle, but there are certain minerals and vitamins that are not readily obtainable if you gave up all meat and animal products, so you need to supplement your diet.

So back to the original question… Do you need protein? Yes. Do you need protein to lose weight? Not really. Do you need to shell out big bucks or jump on various company bandwagons to get protein? Nope. Will I continue to consume my daily protein shake which consists of a variety of the ones listed above? Yep!

Again, protein is for your muscles and even lean muscle needs fuel, but if you are looking to tone or drop a few pounds, you could probably get away with just introducing some more fish or nuts to your diet. Now, if you are trying to increase muscle mass or have changed up your routine altogether, then yes, please invest in the right protein supplement for you.


Shaw, G. (n.d.). Protein Powder: What You Should Know. Retrieved January 11, 2016, from http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/protein-powder

Taylor, M. G. (n.d.). Choosing a Protein Powder - Nutrition Express Articles. Retrieved January 11, 2016, from http://www.nutritionexpress.com:9080/article+index/authors/mark+g+taylor+ms/showarticle.aspx?articleid=896

Volek, J. S. (n.d.). Whey vs Casein: Which one best maintains muscle mass? Retrieved January 11, 2016, from http://www.nutritionexpress.com:9080/article+index/authors/jeff+s+volek+phd+rd/showarticle.aspx?articleid=1082

5 Tips for a Healthy Relationship

Let me start off by saying that I am not an expert. I do not have a certification in relationships or marriage counseling or social work or even psychology (though I did minor in it). And I also have to admit to you that the title of this post changed at least five times… I hope that these are helpful tips that maybe you already knew and overlooked once or twice or maybe they are ones you overlooked altogether…

I have been married for almost 2.5 years (and counting) to a wonderful and patient man, though we have been together since 2007 (whoa). I have been in relationships in the past – some great, some toxic, some long and some short. But from all of them, including my marriage, I have learned a lot of lessons about myself and about what I want from a relationship. I have learned what promotes a healthy relationship and what are indicators of one on a downward slope. So I want to share my two cents, if you will, on the top five things that have helped me maintain a healthy relationship with my husband and continue to grow in love.

  1. COMMUNICATION – It might go without saying but having an open line of communication is fundamental in a relationship -regardless of if the relationship is romantic or platonic. And communication goes two ways. One of the things that my husband and I do every…single…day is we dedicate 10-15 minutes to talk -uninterrupted and without technology. Typically we do this when having dinner but other times it is on our way in the door, or when we are cooking, or getting ready to head to the gym… We always ask about the other person’s day and not just listen, but hear. And if something is really bothering me, I let him know right off the bat and he respects my decision to not talk about it outright and we move on. We also are not afraid to say “I love you” too often. It may sound morbid but you never know when that may be a last time so reminding that person that you love them, even if you said it 20 times before, never gets old. But if you don’t communicate and carry a grudge, silence will speak for you and it is never your ally.
  2. SAY “PLEASE” or “THANK YOU” – These may seem foolish but you were taught to say your “P’s” and “Q’s” for a reason. Think about that time that you held the door open for someone behind you and they just waltzed in without acknowledging you. How did that make you feel? Now if you’re from NJ like I am, you almost most definitely said something but that’s besides the point…So the same goes for your significant other. If she did the dishes and normally hates it, or he sets the coffee, or they heated up dinner, or he did the laundry -saying “thank you” may not seem like much but you are acknowledging that person and their actions. 
  3. JUST BECAUSE – This topic can be all encompassing really but don’t wait for a specific day or time or event to do something for your significant other. Sometimes getting a card to say “I love you” just because or giving them a peck on the cheek or holding their hand or coming home with their favorite dessert or going out to eat… All of those random moments add up and show them that you don’t need a holiday or important date to celebrate your love for them.
  4. THE LITTLE THINGS – Coupled with number 3 most often, doing those little things can surmount a grand gesture any day. For example, my husband usually packs our lunches and every so often I get a little surprise note from him -sometimes inspirational and sometimes silly but he still makes it a point to just do a little something (little does he know that I have a stack of all of them saved because sometimes you just have one of those days and need a little extra love). Or how about taking the dogs out and letting them get 10 extra minutes of sleep. Or how about playing their favorite song. Or texting them at 1:24pm because you missed them and wanted to say hello. Or getting them a little trinket that you saw and made you think of them… Those little things are nuggets that we carry around with us and remind us how much we are loved.
  5. RESPECT & EQUALITY – I grouped these two items together because you cannot simply have one without the other. You are with that person for a reason and if you cannot fully respect them and treat them as an equal, then turbulence is just ahead. Take my relationship as an example – my husband is well educated in technology and psychology while I like to think I have a strong foundation in science and literature but just because we are not both equal in the same realms, doesn’t mean we are not equal overall. I respect my husband on his opinions and his beliefs while he respects mine. He acknowledges my side of the situation, even when he disagrees. We also acknowledge our weaknesses and help each other whenever we can. Our goal is to lift each other up, not to stand on top alone.

There are so many other tips for a health relationship and this is just the beginning of this series! Though this post is mostly about a romantic relationship, most of these can be used interchangeably with friends, colleagues, and family. A random text or a phone call can go a long way. A simple gesture can bring someone back from the edge. 

Inquiring minds want to know… what recommendations do you have for a healthy relationship? What have you done to foster a health relationship, even if it wasn’t a romantic one??