Thursday, December 29, 2016

Feeling Anxious?

Let's not beat around the bush - a lot of people experience anxiety at different levels. I think it's especially prevalent nowadays and it's not fun! However, from my personal experience there are a few things that can help.

Anxiety can come from everyday stresses, financial stress, health issues, family issues, work issues, mental disorders, etc, etc. However, did you know anxiety can actually work for you? If you don't allow yourself to be consumed with negativity, you can harness these feelings and be motivated to accomplish things! 

Anxiety, when not working for you, can have several physical effects including headaches, dizziness, upset stomach, heart palpitations, sweating, and so on. What can we do?

  • Question it!
Is this really something to be anxious about? Why is it making me anxious? Will my being anxious do anything to remedy the situation? Try to reason with yourself. 
  • One day at at time.
This has proved very helpful for me. Even just looking ahead to a busy week can make me overly anxious so sometimes, I have to just look at today (and maybe tomorrow) and plan for today. This is true especially with things like exercising. I get anxious thinking about when will I next find time to exercise, but truth be told, exercise is NOT the most important thing, and I will probably find some time for it in my schedule, but there's no need to get overly stressed about it now. 
  • Talk to someone
Sometimes just venting or reaching out for help can be very beneficial.
  • Change what you can, and accept what you cannot change
It sounds simple enough but I think we tend to get ourselves very anxious over a lot of things beyond our control. Stressing out about things beyond our control won't do ANYTHING to help. It's better to be calm and accepting of unpleasant situations or circumstances so that you can deal with it. 
  • Pray
For me personally, I find prayer to be a great privilege where I can pour out my heart to God and find real comfort. 

Practical Things to Do:
  • Bubble Baths
  • Take a Walk
  • Read 
  • Self-care: Paint your Nails, etc
  • Write a card to someone
  • Call a friend
  • Watch a funny movie
  • Color 
  • Listen to music
I hope some of these tips can help! Do you have any tips or tricks for dealing with anxiety?

Monday, December 26, 2016

Buff Bake Review

So you want to get buff? Eat cookies! 

That's right, I said eat cookies to get buff. Buff Bake is another company that produces high protein spreads and they also have cookies in their line up of protein packed goodies. The first, and only one I've tried so far is Frosted Oatmeal but they also have Snickerdoodle, White Chocolate Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip and Birthday Cake! They clearly have some unique and tasty sounding options and I definitely want to try more. I will update this post as I try more. 




Frosted Oatmeal Raisin
Macros: 300 cal 9f/44c/16p for the entire cookie, none of that half cookie crazy talk

They are also certified Non-GMO and it appears to be gluten free from what I see in the ingredients but the oats may not be certified gluten free because they didn't advertise this one as being gluten free - I don't know!

I've often seen these cookies compared to Lenny & Larry's, the famous, vegan protein cookies. However, the Buff Bake company utilizes whey protein and other dairy sources, so they're definitely not vegan. I warmed it up in the microwave because warm cookies are the best cookies. 

The cookie was large, dense and good. It had a bit of a different texture than your typical cookie - more dense - but this is to be expected when you pack a cookie with 16g of protein and no flour! Overall, I thought it was pretty good. The actual cookie was not overly sweet so I appreciated the sweet icing drizzle! I think the peanut butter flavors are probably even better because they lend themselves to a different texture anyway. I look forward to trying more cookies. 

Texture Shot
Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter 
Macros: 200c 14f/7c/11p 

You really can't go wrong when you combine chocolate and peanut butter so I guess I played it safe trying this flavor and it didn't disappoint. It had a rich, balanced chocolate flavor that had just the right amount of sweetness to complement, yet not overwhelm, the peanut flavor. They also add chia and flax for omegas. What really impresses me is that they maintain a normal peanut butter texture. Sometimes, I've noticed, adding protein to nut butters can affect the consistency, but not so with this flavor of buff bake peanut spread! I mean, just look at it drizzled on top of my Halo Top ice cream! YUM! Oh, and only two grams of sugar per two tablespoons!

Chocolate wasted ๐Ÿซ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ I can't exactly express to you how amazing this was๐Ÿ‘‰chocolate @halotopcreamery topped with @buffbake chocolate chip peanut butter, chocolate chips, brownie @questnutrition bar cookies, and @nunaturals cocoa syrup - I'm in heaven ๐Ÿ™Œ 
I did the filthy fifty workout for @corebyliz #illbefitforchristmas challenge and shaved over two minutes off of my time - down to 22:16 ๐Ÿ‘Œ I'll probably post an end post with my goals in the next day or so but I really have enjoyed this challenge! PSA 50 jump squats is no joke ๐Ÿ’ฆ happy Friday eve! #corebyliz#slapnutrition#slap90days3
I could eat this every day - low sugar, high protein, chocolate bliss!



Birthday Cake Almond Spread
Macros: 198cal 16f/8c/11p

This flavor is composed of dry roasted almonds, hormone free whey protein, natural flavoring, coconut sugar, white chocolate chips and organic coconut oil. Sadly, I didn't notice any white chocolate chips but I tried it from a squeeze pack so it's possible that the jar would have more white chocolate chips to notice. Despite the lack of white chocolate chips (and sprinkles!) this flavor surprised me. I think they really did a good job of getting a cake batter flavor. It tasted like a natural almond butter melded with cake batter and the texture reminded me of a natural almond butter as well! I'm very pleased with how they pack it with protein, yet maintain a good consistency! I thought it was delicious and can't wait to try more!


If you thought the cookie flavors were fun, look at their nut butter flavors: Peanut: Chocolate Chip, Rocky Road, White Chocolate, Red Velvet, Pumpkin (Seasonal)
Almond: Birthday Cake, Snickerdoodle, Cookie, and Coffee Bean

 Birthday Cake Almond Spread

Have you tried any of the Buff Bake line up? What's your favorite brand of protein nut butters? There's so many options!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Hashtag goals?

I've participated in the Slap Nutrition "challenges" in the past and I'm doing so again (also simultaneously doing a challenge from Liz McElaney (@corebyliz on Instagram, website: corebyliz.com). So I thought I'd do a little update as to where I am right now!

The Slap Nutrition challenge is called #slap90days3 as it is a 90 day challenge which I like because change takes time! Many challenges are much shorter in length but this length helps me to stay focused on my goals for a long period, making them established behaviors and habits,etc.

My goals:

1. Adjust Macros

I have been researching a bit through different resources and found that more protein is not always a good thing. I was eating well over 1g per pound of body weight which is simply unnecessary and also meant relying on supplements quite a bit. I am always wary to change macros because I'm nervous how my body will respond. I increased my fats, lowered my protein, and kept carbohydrates about the same and I'm feeling great! No excessive fat gains or anything scary! Plus, I eat more avocado and nut butters!

2. More Whole Foods, Less Supplements

When I say whole foods, I mean less artificial, prepackaged, etc, not the overpriced health food store. LOL. I can't say I've been very great at achieving this so far because I still utilize protein powder about once a day, however, I am probably consuming less protein bars (which have way more ingredients and artificial junk than Slap Nutrition protein powder. It has a short, simple ingredient list. I will continue to try to rely less on supplements but when I do use them, I'm conscious of the ingredients and quality!

3. Enjoy the Little Things

The point of this goal was for mental health. Many in the "fitness world" are constantly obsessing over macros, workouts or missing workouts. I have fallen into this trap, not because I'm a competitor or an athlete, but because I have an obsessive personality and have exposed myself to many fitness people on social media platforms. This is another goal that I need to continue to work on. I have loosened up very slightly on my macros but definitely need to continue to work on this. I think one thing that will help me to improve is to spend less time on social media and more time enjoying life - sunsets, puppies, friends, music! Life is meant to be enjoyed!

4. Wean the Caffeine 

This is one that I'm actually very proud of! I'm ashamed to admit that I was drinking 2-3 energy drinks along with 1-2 diet sodas per day! That is absolutely absurd and unhealthy, not only from the ridiculous amounts of caffeine but also from the artificial sweeteners. Since then, I now drink maybe a cup of coffee in the morning, maybe not and Slap Nutrition pre-workout on days I'm strength training. Slap Nutrition PWO has about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee so it's not too crazy! As a result, I'm drinking more water and saving money!

5.Gains Train

I want to build muscle and that involves gaining weight for me. Yet another area that I need to continue to work on. I have some ideas on how I can work on this (higher weights, lower reps, reduce cardio/increase calories) however, it won't be mentally easy. Change isn't always easy so I'm glad to have this challenge to push me and give me accountability.

6. Save Money for a Certification

So, I have been saving money but I have a lot in my personal life up in the air right now so I have no definite plans but time will tell!

Many people set goals for the New Year but I think it's good to assess and re-evaluate constantly! What do you think? Are you currently working on goals or waiting until the New Year? Any ideas what your goals will be?

Check out Slap Nutrition at weslap.com and @slapnutrition on instagram! I'm not affiliated with them in any way, just love them!

November 1. Time for new goals and going out on limbs. I've been mulling over several changes but too lame to commit. Now is the time and #slap90days3 goes perfectly with that. Goals: 1. Adjust macros ๐Ÿ‘‰less protein. My muscles won't fall off in one day anyway so idk why this feels so risky. Oh yeah, because the internet is full of crap. 2. More whole foods, use supplements to supplement my diet. 3. Enjoy the little things. A sunrise. A sunset. Spending time with family and friends actually enjoying the moment versus thinking about my next workout or run or my macros etc etc. 4. Wean the caffeine. I'm actually embarrassed by how much caffeine and sucralose junk I'm putting into my body. 5. Gains train ๐Ÿš‚ all aboard! I want to continue gaining and hopefully set some PRs. This may involve a restructuring of my workout program as well ๐Ÿ˜ฌ 6. Save money to do a certification program. I may not save enough in 90 days lol but I can work towards it. 
Change can be scary. Change can be really freaking frightening, yet most of us say we want change. "I want to be stronger, leaner, happier, etc." Something has to change for something to change. #slapnutrition

Monday, December 12, 2016

Current Finds!

A while ago, I did a post on products, foods and recipes I loved at the moment and I thought it would be fun to do more of those posts. There's so many new products, and foods constantly coming out! Also, a lot of people are doing gift buying now so this could give you some good ideas for friends!

Wireless Headphones: I did a little shopping for myself on Black Friday and one of my purchases were SkullCandy Ink'd 2.0 wireless headphones. I am loving wearing them while I work out or even clean. I can walk around the kitchen without having to have a pocket for my phone. The charge lasts 8 hours and they stay in pretty well!

I scored them for just $25 at Target on Black Friday. Photo from SkullCandy.com

Leggings! 

Can you ever have too many leggings? I say no! I purchased these Victoria's Secret High Waisted sport leggings and I am in love! I also got two sports bras from there and I love them too! They're comfortable, functional, supportive and cute! The athletic apparel was all 50% off on Black Friday and then they sent me a coupon for the sports pants for $25! 

Some more ideas/things on my wish list:
  • running gloves
  • socks
  • armband
  • training equipment
  • headbands
  • when in doubt, gift card it out!
Mindpump: Mindpump is a podcast I started listening to not that long ago and I am in love! It's a fitness podcast that is very imformative, while also being entertaining and easy to understand. They give great information about nutrition, activating muscle groups, gut health, mobility, and more. Be warned - they can be crude/lewd at times but they have also made me laugh out loud and at the same time, learn so much! I have changed how I'm exercising and reduced, yes, reduced, my protein. My liver will thank me. It's hosted by Sal Di Stefano, Adam Schafer, and Justin Andrews. They also offer training programs, nutrition guides and more on mindpumpmedia.com. Check it out!

Eat Enlightened:

I had the opportunity to try all seven flavors of Enlightened "Good for You" ice cream and all I can say is YUM. Actually, I can say more. The flavors all did a good job of hitting the flavor nail on the head and they were fully loaded with swirls, cookie chunks, chocolate chips and more! I didn't get any iciness but you do have to let it sit out to soften for a good while. They're high protein, high fiber, low sugar and utilize erythritol and monk fruit extract to add sweetness. Pints range from 360-400 calories for the entire pint! 

Eat Enlightened also has broad bean crisps! They're roasted broad beans in a variety of flavors - both savory and sweet. They are so delicious and snackable! I absolutely love them all except wasabi! LOL. I just can't handle it. They're high in protein and fiber, non GMO, vegan and all together, great. You can purchase them online at http://www.eatenlightened.com/ and you can use my discount code: HEALTHYHAPPY20 for a discount! I definitely recommend them. 

Bone Broth: I've recently been interested in learning about gut health and one thing I stumbled across was bone broth. It's rich in minerals and healing compounds that are good not only for your gut health, but also for your bones and immune system. I still have little knowledge on gut health but I'm trying to learn more! It's the second brain, as they say! So, I took on the "challenge" to make my own bone broth and it was so easy. I simply took bones from a chicken, put them in a crockpot, added water to cover the bones, and about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Then, I let it simmer for 12 hours and voila! I used it for soup but some people drink it straight up! Give it a try! It's so easy and economical.  

I made homemade bone broth and then homemade soup and then oatmeal muffins to go with it. It doesn't look aesthetic and no one else in my family will eat it but I did. And it's tasty. Trust me. I'm a professional, unbiased soup tester.

What are some things you've been loving lately? Do you have a wishlist?


Monday, December 5, 2016

Crispy Green Fruit - Freeze Dried Fruit Snacks

I'm always on the hunt for a good pre-run snack but I like something light yet carbohydrate based. I often turn to dried fruit but then I discovered freeze dried fruit!

Crispy Green brand makes amazing freeze dried fruit! It's so convenient to just grab a bag. Why is freeze dried so great? Well, it tastes so good! It's almost as if it comes alive again in your mouth and it has a great crunch to it! Dried fruit can sometimes be chewy, which is not bad per se, but I love a good crunch. Also, by freeze drying, they preserve the nutrients and make a great tasting snack without adding any other ingredients. It's simply incredible!

They have seven varieties: apple, asian pear, banana, mango, tangerine, pineapple, and cantaloupe. Though they were all delicious my favorites were probably pineapple, banana, apple, and tangerine! I was so amazed at the pineapple that I had to give my friend some to try! It tastes like fresh pineapple! The banana is so good and sweet that I checked the ingredients to confirm, it's just banana!

They're 100% fruit and non GMO. I highly recommend these snacks! Check them out at crispygreen.com.
Pre-Run Snacking!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Balance - What is it really?

Balance by definition is "a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions."* Balance is clearly identifiable in tangible objects. However, when it comes to life, balance is not so clearly seen. The elusive concept of balance is highly regarded and sought after. Balance can contribute to general contentment, decrease in stress and overall, a happier life. I believe that balance is not necessarily and equalizing of all the elements in life, but rather, a prioritizing of elements in life. I also believe that balance is different for different individuals.

The dictionary definition of balance cited at the outset, said elements are "equal or in the correct proportions." Clearly, it would be absurd to spend the same amount of time and energy on each facet of life. Hypothetically, a person may sleep eight hours a day. Sixteen hours remain in the day to be divided between working in secular work, exercising, enjoying recreation, relaxing, focusing on spiritual health, caring for responsibilities and whatever else comprises a life. It's not feasible to divide theses elements equally. Therefore, the skill of prioritizing is essential to achieving balance. A person must decide which elements are most important to overall well-being and prioritize accordingly. An element that is higher priority does not necessarily have to take up more time, but it will come first. Time can not be created so people must make the best use of time while realizing that some things, lower on the priority level, may not get accomplished for quite some time. Sacrifices have to be made, but what a person sacrifices is a personal decision based on their priorities.

Since individual priorities differ greatly, the concept of balance is reflected differently in different individual's lives.  Some individuals may derive satisfaction and joy from a regular exercise regime, while others may choose to spend more time enjoying recreation. Their activities would therefore be balanced differently. However, each individual must give careful consideration to what they truly value. Personal mental and physical well-being is important. An individual with a type-A personality may lead themselves to believe that they enjoying working long hours at the office. While some may truly derive satisfaction from a long day at work, others might be pushing themselves too hard and taxing both their physical and mental faculties. Individuals should not compare their idea of balance with others. Attention should be given to what is beneficial to the specific individual mentally, physically, and spiritually, both for the present time and in the long term.

Achieving perfect balance may continue to elude the masses. However, with proper prioritizing, self evaluation, and recognizing that individuals' needs and priorities vary, balance is not so unattainable. Rather than following the juvenile trends promoted on social media and other platforms, a person should consider sources of genuine contentment, pursue them, and continue to progress to a more balanced life.

*Source: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/balance

Monday, November 28, 2016

Quinn Snacks - Popcorn!

What's poppin'?

My close friends and family know that I LOVE popcorn!

Despite a bad rap for being an unhealthy snack, popcorn can actually be a pretty good snack choice. It's a whole grain, high in fiber and antioxidants. It has protein and iron and is low in calories.

Quinn Snacks makes a variety of neat flavors of popcorn and they use pure, simple ingredients, non GMO and even tell you where it was farmed!

So far, I've had the pleasure of trying the Super Kale popcorn. It's made with organic dried kale and little carrot too! It's very green in appearance, but don't let that scare you.

I really enjoyed it. It's a nice savory flavor without being overly spicy or salty. It does taste "green" if that makes any sense. You definitely get a kale vibe without it being overwhelming or bitter. Plus, you just feel healthy for eating it! XD At 43 calories per cup, using simple ingredients, this makes for a great snack in my books!

I'm excited to try some more of their popcorn varieties. They also have organic coconut oil, sea salt, white cheddar, and California olive oil in their line of pre-popped popcorn. They also have microwave popcorn in sea salt, parmesan and rosemary, white cheddar, Vermont maple kettle corn, and real butter and sea salt. 

What's your favorite snack or what is your favorite way to eat popcorn? The varieties and toppings are endless!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Pumpkin Caramel Protein Snickerdoodles

People wait all year for pumpkin season! I, however, am a strong proponent for year round pumpkin appreciation. Pumpkin also lends itself to great macro-friendly recipes! 

Without further ado, I present to you Pumpkin Caramel Protein Snickerdoodles:
 Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup white kidney beans
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree 
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp imitation caramel extract
  • 1 packet Devotion Nutrition monkey bread flex flavor
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 scoop Slap Nutrition Cinnamon Swirl protein powder
  • 1:1 ratio mix of truvia and cinnamon 
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Puree beans, pumpkin and egg. 
  3. Add the extract, sweeteners, baking powder, and protein powder. Mix until thoroughly combined. 
  4. Drop spoonfuls onto parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. The "cookie dough" is very thin, more of a batter consistency. 
  5. Sprinkle the truvia/cinnamon mixture on top of the cookies and bake for 8-10 minutes. 
  6. Enjoy!


Monday, November 21, 2016

SourceWell Nutrition Protein Bars

The market for protein bars is simply incredible. I can not keep up with all the new brands, flavors, etc. However, I do love trying new ones often!

I was very excited to try Sourcewell Nutrition protein bars because I've heard good things about them. They state that the whey they use is sourced from grass fed cows. Whey protein from grass fed cows provides beneficial bacteria and broader nutritional benefits versus a grain fed cow. Sourcewell is conscious of the source of protein and ingredients so they use high quality, fresh ingredients. Sounds good so far!

I was able to try the two current flavors of their original bars - Birthday Cake and Cookies and Cream. They are coming out with a Snickerdoodle flavor original bar and Chunky Peanut Butter and Cookie Dough Nature Bars. Those sound great too!

Birthday Cake: 200cal 6f/27c/20p

 This bar looked very unappealing and slightly smushed but I had a positive attitude and was not disappointed. The flavor was very good, no lemony tang or weird aftertaste just sweet cake flavor. It was also studded with whey crisps which lends to an interesting and appealing texture. Aside from the crisps, the bar was chewy in a taffy-like way but didn't break my jaw. I think I would like to try baking it!


Birthday Cake Bar cut up for Protein Fluff topping
Cookies and Cream: 200cal 6f/27c/20p

Sadly, I ate this one in a dark car so I don't have any pictures, but it was rather smushed too. Again, it had a great cookies and cream flavor that really tasted like pieces of oreo-type cookies! It also had the chewy/crunchy texture with the whey crisps. They mention in the description that it tastes like dessert when microwaved or baked so I definitely need to try that next time. 

Overall, I thought these bars were pretty good. I really like the fact that they identify the source of protein and use high quality ingredients. They are non GMO and high in fiber. I think baking them would really make them better because, though the texture was interesting, it was not the greatest. If you want to give them a try you can order from sourcewellnutrition.com and use code healthyhappyfree for free shipping!



Monday, November 14, 2016

My vice - caffeine!

It's goal time! I've been trying to set goals on a regular basis and make a conscious effort to work on them. I'm currently participating in the #slap90days3 "contest" on instagram which is hosted by Slap Nutrition and encourages overcoming your fears to reach your goals.

One of my biggest struggles that I've been trying to work on for a long time is my caffeine consumption. I'm almost embarrassed to admit how much caffeine I would consume on any given day. Not only that, but I was drinking multiple diet sodas and sugar free energy drinks that utilize artificial sweeteners. I don't necessarily think that's detrimental every now and then, but multiple times a day is probably not ideal for the body.

I've been doing pretty well so far, cutting my caffeine intake greatly, increasing my water and I've also found some substitutes that I think taste very good! One of my favorite "soda substitutes" is Zevia. It's zero calorie soda sweetened with stevia. Some flavors have a small amount of caffeine and some don't. My favorite flavors are Ginger Root Beer, Cream Soda, and Dr. Zevia, although I haven't tried them all.

Another drink I've been enjoying in place of energy drinks are the Bai beverages. They are sweetened with erythritol and stevia and are full of antioxidants. They have a small amount of caffeine (45mg per serving) so it's a nice little boost without overdoing it. (Monster ultra has 140mg per can for comparison.)

I'll be honest, I'll probably still have days where I turn to a diet soda or zero calorie energy drink - I'm not perfect! However, I am happy that I'm really making progress and it's getting easier to function on less caffeine. The first few days were rough! I'm hoping to continue to wean down my reliance on caffeine!

What are some of your goals for this month? Do you have a caffeine or diet soda addiction like me? 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Will Run for Bacon!

Another day, another 5k!

I admire those of you who run half marathons and full marathons because sometimes 3.1 miles feels like 3000! I have my good days and bad days. Some days I run faster, some days I run slower, some days I run farther, and I never really know why!

Photo from http://www.runncmedassist.com/
Running, though, has been part of my life for many years now, even after many injuries. My most recent injury was a broken pinky toe, so I did take about a week off from running to try to rest it a bit. After I came back, my pace was significantly slower and I've been quite frustrated. I have to remember, though, why I run. I run because I love the feeling after a run. I love feeling like I accomplished something, that I pushed myself, the adrenaline and the endorphins. I love being outside! (Treadmill = dreadmill!)

So, I was a bit apprehensive for this 5k, however, the reason I run is not to win a tiny trophy. Plus, there was free pancakes and bacon at the finish line.

The course was pretty nice - it went through Charlotte, NC starting at Sycamore Brewery. The course had some hills but nothing super extreme. It went on roads and sidewalks. My one complaint is that it was rather crowded at times because there was close to 900 participants and they allowed dogs and strollers! They also used gun time rather than chip time so I subtract a few seconds from my result, lol!

I did have a good time, as always and my pace was better than it has been. It was definitely nowhere near my best, but, hey, you can't PR every time. I'm hoping to PR next year at the China Grove 5k but no pressure!

I actually finished 2nd place in my age group so I was happy about that and I was happy for the bacon!




What's your reason to run? Do you put pressure on yourself?


Monday, November 7, 2016

New Quest Bar Flavors!

I eat a lot of protein bars, probably more than I should! However, they are a convenient quick protein source that many people turn to. If you're one of those people, no doubt, you've heard of Quest bars. They had a big following, changed their recipe not too long ago, and some were not happy. They've also been coming out with a lot of new products and flavors. They even have a program you can apply for called Quest Labs where you have access to products not for sale to the general public yet. The Quest Labs community reviews it on a forum and then Quest may tweak the product and release it or choose not to. I've been a member and tried quite a few of the products. I actually tried all three new flavors before they hit shelves, but they're available to everyone now!

The three new flavors are Blueberry Muffin, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, and Rocky Road.


Blueberry Muffin: 190cal 22c/6f/21p

The blueberry muffin flavor is a favorite to many Quest customers. The aroma when you unwrap it is exactly like a blueberry muffin. It's dense and soft like most Quest bars. It has chunks of blueberries and what Quest refers to as "chewy cobbler inclusions". Whatever they are, they taste delicious. I really liked this bar but I like chocolate chunks more than muffins. XD
Blueberry Muffin 
 Oatmeal Chocolate Chip: 190cal 22c/8f/20p

This has to be my favorite of the three new flavors and possibly my favorite of all time. It is soft and chewy but not taffy-like. Most of the ones I've had, have had a generous amount of big chocolate chunks. The taste is like an oatmeal cookie, sweet but not too sweet, with a hint of cinnamon. I love this one!
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip

Rocky Road: 210cal 9f/20c/20p

The latest addition to the Quest line up is a chocolate based bar with almonds and white chunks. It got varying reviews in the Quest labs program but I believe they've tweaked the recipe. It has a nice chocolatey flavor as a base and sweet white chunks which look like white chocolate chunks but with a more marshmallow flavor. I'm glad they didn't go for a marshmallow texture. I really liked the crunch of the nuts as well. Overall, pretty good but not my favorite. For some reason, chocolate based bars never really wow me that much but if you like the brownie Quest bar, this is like the next level and it bakes into delicious rocky road cookies.
Rocky Road baked into cookies
Overall, I've really enjoyed the new flavors and products that Quest has been releasing and I can't wait to see what they come up with next!

Do you supplement your diet with protein bars? What's your favorite? Have you tried the new Quest flavors? Let me know!


Monday, October 31, 2016

Booty Gains

Abs may come and go, but booty gains are forever. Well, not really, but it is more attainable and sustainable than a six pack of abs and it seems to be a big obsession in the fitness community right now. When I weighed less, I had a concave butt. It wasn't cute. I don't think people should strive to meet anyone's standards of beauty and fitness, but I personally wanted to make some gains! Also, strong legs and Glutes help with many activities in life in general.


Most people tend to be quad dominant so it's very easy to allow them to take over. My tips (note: I am not a professional anything, but these are tips I found helpful)
  • Mind muscle connection - focus on the squeezing the Glutes as you perform your exercises 
  • Proper form - proper form ensures you're recruiting the Glutes and prevents injury 
  • Do Glutes focused exercises regularly 
  • Eat to grow! 
Some of my personal favorite exercises:
  • Deadlifts! I feel the Glutes squeeze even more in deadlifts than I do win regular stance squats 
  • Squats, obviously 
  • Glute kickbacks - you can use Dumbbells in your leg crease, a machine at the gym, a cable machine, or ankle weights 
  • Bulgarian split squats - I either do these with added weight or make them plyo 
  • Glutes bridges - squeeze, baby, squeeze! 
  • Hip thrusters - awkward but effective, use weight and hold at the top for maximum burn 
Are you trying to build a booty or nah? What are some of your favorite exercises? Let me know!
Bulgarian Split Squats

Thursday, October 27, 2016

What's a Macro?

Do you track your macros?

What's a macro?

I'm by no means an expert on the subject, but I do loosely track my macros, or macronutrients. Macronutrients include Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fats. The IIFYM approach to eating basically means that you should eat micronutrient* dense foods for the most part, but you can enjoy other foods If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM). 

There is a common misconception that IIFYM promotes eating a lot of junk as long as it fits your macros, but from what I've read, that is not true. There is a balance needed as with everything. For example, I eat salad for lunch most days, vegetables at dinner, and snack on a lot of fruit, however, I usually have something "unclean" for dessert. Some days it might be two oreos, or some candy. Some days I have more "unclean" foods than others, but I am trying to gain weight right now, so it's easy for me to get plenty of micronutrients and still enjoy these treats. 

Many people who restrict themselves completely may end up binging or feeling guilty when they do indulge. I've found the IIFYM style of eating to be beneficial to me personally. That being said, I think Intuitive Eating is a great goal for me. It focuses on eating based on what you feel you need, listening to your body. That doesn't mean giving in to every craving for sugar but satisfying your body based on it's needs. The benefit of that is that you don't have to calculate, measure, and possibly obsess as much as IIFYM. 

Whatever style of eating you choose, it's important to be moderate and balanced, in my opinion. If you want to find out what your personal macronutrient requirements are, IIFYM.com has a calculator that you can use. 

Don't let eating become a chore! Treat your body right and get the necessary nutrients!

Do you follow a specific type of eating? Keto? IIFYM? Intuitive? Have you tried different types? Let me know what you think!

*Micronutrient here refers to vitamins and minerals, etc. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Product Review: Bliss Nut Butters

Nut Butter Addict here.

The first step is acknowledging it, right?

But, I don't really think I'm going to be kicking the habit any time soon. I love trying all different kinds of nut butters and most recently, I tried out the Bliss Nut Butters brand.

Cashew Nut Butter


The cashew nut butter is made simply of cashews, sunflower oil, organic raw honey and sea salt. It tastes amazing! I love cashews so I love this flavor. It's a great balance of salty and sweet. It tastes very similar to the Flyjoy Cashew Cookie Dough energy bar! My only downside to this nut butter is that it doesn't melt but it is very obviously fresh and delicious!





Texture shot of Cashew Nut Butter





















Hazelnut Butter with Cranberries

Hazelnut with Cranberries texture 





















The next flavor I tried was the Hazelnut butter with cranberries. The first thing I noticed is that there was some oil on top, which is not unusual with freshly ground nut butters, however, I stirred and stirred and it really didn't combine well. The end result was still pretty dry and crumbly. The flavor, however, was very good. It was sweet, but not too sweet and I thought the dried cranberries were a nice texture experience but I'm not sure it's my favorite based on what I use nut butters for.

Hazelnut with Cranberries on a sweet potato 
Overall, it wasn't bad, but I wouldn't purchase it again. 

I will update this post when I try the next flavor! Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Mini Pumpkin Spice Glazed Protein Muffins

I don't know how it happened, but it's mid October and you know what that means.


Pumpkin.
Spice.
Everything.

I had been wanting to try a macro friendly pumpkin spice muffin for a while but I've been so busy! Thankfully, these are the EASIEST muffins ever! I used protein pancake mix as a shortcut but if you want to try from scratch, I would suggest subbing 1/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 scoop protein powder and 1/2 tsp baking powder - but I make no promises because I haven't tried that!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup protein pancake mix (I used Kodiak Cakes brand) 
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin purรฉe 
  • 1/4 cup liquid sweetener (I used Walden Farms maple walnut syrup) 
  • 1 egg white 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice 
  • Pumpkin gbutter for glaze 
Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray or line a mini muffin pan. 
  2. Combine all ingredients except the gbutter, and mix with a mixer until thoroughly combined. If you used a different sweetener, you may need to add liquid. The consistency should be thinner than cookie dough but slightly thicker than cake batter. 
  3. Spoon the batter into the mini muffin pan. 
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes. 
  5. While still warm, drizzle pumpkin spice gbutter on top and enjoy! 
Makes 12 mini muffins. Macros without glaze per muffin: 22 cal .2f/3.5c/1.6p
Macros with 1 tsp of gbutter per muffin: 38 cal 1f/4.2c/3.3p

Use code "gbuttermeg" to try out the new pumpkin spice gbutter! It's so good and macros are great! For my review on gbutter, go here: GButter Review

Let me know if you try this easy recipe! What's your favorite pumpkin spice food? I'm thinking protein pumpkin pie is my next experiment! 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Product Review: Nitrotech Crunch Bar Birthday Cake Flavor

Everyone loves the idea of birthday cake flavored things but sometimes, the product falls a little flat or doesn't hit the nail on the head with flavor. You can't just add some rainbow sprinkles and call it birthday cake, people!

Texture Shot - Baked Center

The new kid on the block, Nitrotech Crunch bars, tackled this controversial flavor. The employee at GNC told me it was the best protein bar she's ever had, so obviously I had to give it a try. The calorie count is slightly higher than your average (i.e. Quest) protein bar.

Macros: 240 cal 24c/7f/22p and the bar is 65g so I didn't think it was too bad!

 The description says no added sugar, yet there's sugar and sucralose in the ingredients list so that's a bit confusing. It uses a blend of whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate and milk protein concentrate for the protein source. It has a "baked" center with sweet white coating and pink drizzle. It sounds and looks a lot like the FitCrunch Birthday Cake bar which I have yet to try but it has a more reasonable calorie count.

Really bad lighting - oops!

The texture is similar to a FitCrunch bar or Combat Crunch bar and I really think they did a good job with the flavor. It was sweet with buttery notes of flavor and of course, rainbow sprinkles. Those are vital.

I cut up part of it and topped my Slappy Birthday protein fluff with it along with You Fresh Naturals Birthday Cake muscle butter and more rainbow sprinkles.

Birthday Cake Masterpiece

I would recommend this bar if you're not bothered by the sugar and sucralose! It has good texture and flavor and is satiating. 

Have you tried any of the Nitrotech Crunch bars or FitCrunch birthday? How does it compare?


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bis and Tris Workout

You know how there's certain muscle groups you don't like working?

For me, it's triceps so I had been neglecting them! I've decided to start focusing on them to improve.
My workout split is Back/Shoulders/Abs, Glutes/Hamstrings, Triceps/Biceps/Abs, and Overall Legs. It's been working out pretty well so far! Here's what I did for tricep/bicep workout last week:

Band assisted pull ups, neutral grip 4x12
Band assisted pull ups, narrow grip 4x12
Band assisted pull ups, wide grip 4x12
Band assisted chin ups 4x12

Push ups 4x15 (narrow, wide, regular, diamond)

Tricep kickbacks 4x10 superset with
Bicep curls 4x10

Tricep Dips 4x10 superset with
Hammer curls 4x10

Skull crushers 4x10 superset with
Bicep curl burnout 4x20 lightweight

Tricep Dips amrap

Those tricep dips at the end were killer!

If you have any tips on working triceps or favorite exercises for them, let me know!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Product Review: Perfect Bar

Perfect Bar
That's quite a name to live up to. Is it perfect?



The perfect bar brags non GMO, kosher, gluten free, good source of protein, refined sugar free and packed with 20 superfoods for vitamins and minerals. Where can you find it? The refrigerated section! That's how they stay fresh without junky preservatives. 

So far, I've only been able to try Almond Butter, Carob Chip, and Almond Coconut. My favorite of the three was probably Carob Chip! It had a strong peanut butter flavor with a chocolate overlay. It was an interesting texture similar to the G2G bars and thankfully, I didn't taste the dried kelp. 


Texture shot of Almond Butter flavor

I also really liked the almond butter and it had a strong almond butter flavor, obviously, with a similar texture to the G2G bar again. It's chewy, dense and slightly crumbly. 

The Almond Coconut was my least favorite of the three but still good. I think the texture was a bit dryer. It's been a while! 

Overall, I really liked these bars and would say they're mighty similar to G2G bars but they are more accessible as I can get them at the grocery store. I also love the superfoods addition that doesn't cause any bad taste or texture. I look forward to trying the peanut butter flavor because peanut butter is king! 

Have you tried these bars, G2G, or both? How do you think they compare?

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Nobody's Perfect

Hannah Montana might have known what she was talking about when she sang: "nobody's perfect".

Sure, we all know that no one is perfect, yet still, many people are "perfectionists", many people don't feel good enough. I know I've dealt with these feelings myself.

I'm not good enough, strong enough, nice enough, fast enough, kind enough, generous enough, friendly enough, healthy enough, etc.

Good enough for who? Why do I set these unattainable standards for myself? They only cause negative feelings. I sincerely try so hard to be "good" at everything I do. All you can do is your best. Nobody's perfect and if you spread yourself too thin, nothing will seem to be good enough. You could get burnt out.

I think it's very important to have a good balance of taking care of responsibilities and being the best person you can be while not expecting yourself to be superwoman. Take time to relax and enjoy yourself, too. Balance and realistic expectations are vital for happiness.


Plan and prioritize, take each day one at a time, do your best and know that you are good enough.

"And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good.”
― John SteinbeckEast of Eden

Monday, October 3, 2016

Product Review: FlyJoy Bars

On the fly? Aren't we all? I know that I feel like I'm constantly going, going, going. So I need snacks to keep me going. Flyjoy bars are called 'quinoa energy bars'. Energy. I like the sound of that. Plus quinoa = healthy, right?

While they also happen to be vegan (dairy free), gluten free, and non-GMO. The ingredients list is comprised of quinoa, chia, oats, flaxseed. Other ingredients vary by flavor but they utilize organic brown rice syrup and organic evaporated cane juice as sweeteners, so you will get that sugar kick but balanced out with the whole grains lasting energy.

I first tried out Cherry Coconut Macaroon on top of a pint of Halo Top ice cream! The bar was delicious, sweet and chewy and is a perfect energy bar! I thought they would be great for hiking and pre-run snacks.
Cherry Coconut Macaroon
 The next flavor I tried was the Cashew Cookie Dough.

Oh my goodness, the cashew cookie dough is so good! The perfect balance of salty and sweet! 



Peanut Butter Texture Shot

The peanut butter tasted like peanut butter so that's good but cashew cookie dough rates higher in my book! The peanut butter and jelly I liked a lot because of the more complex flavor profile. It tasted like it had little pieces of dried fruit as well as the blueberry flavor.  I ate them on the fly so I didn't get a picture! 

I have a few flavors left to try but I'd say these are a win! They have great ingredients to fuel my body and they taste good too. If you see these bars, I recommend you grab one to try out! 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Maple Peanut Caramel Smoothie!

Need a quick, delicious snack? Try this flavor combination! This is a great pre-workout snack. It has fast digesting carbohydrates to give you energy! 


Ingredients:
  • 1-2 cups ice
  • 1/4 cup cashew milk (may substitute milk of choice or water)
  • 2 Tbsp powdered peanut butter (I used Crazy Richard's Pure PB)
  • 1-2 Tbsp maple syrup 
  • 1 banana
  • 1 scoop Slap Nutrition Salted Caramel BCAAs (may omit or substitute caramel flavoring and sea salt or salted caramel protein powder, additional peanut powder, etc.)
Directions:
  1. Add ice, milk, powdered peanut butter, half of the maple syrup, banana, and BCAAs to your blender. 
  2. Blend until smooth. 
  3. Pour into a glass, top with remainder of maple syrup and some peanuts if desired. Drink up!
I love the salty sweet flavor combination and this was a delicious, fun snack that's super easy to make! Let me know if you try it or what your favorite smoothie is!




Monday, September 26, 2016

Hiking: Crowder's Mountain, NC

Sunday Funday!

It might be fall, but here in NC, the weather is still quite warm. It was 90 degrees this past Sunday to be precise. We took advantage of the sunny weather to get a nice hike in at Crowder's Mountain State Park. The park is pretty close off the Interstate. It's located in Kings Mountain, NC. The park has a few hiking trails, camping, and canoeing.


The trail we did Sunday is the trail we do most often, the Pinnacle Trail. It begins at the Visitor's Center and goes up to King's Pinnacle. It's 4 miles round trip and rated as strenuous. It's basically uphill the entire way up, obviously. It's steepest the last half mile and you have to climb up some rocks to get to the real pinnacle, but most people manange it fine. There is a warning sign so climb at your own risk. The view at the pinnacle is fantastic and there's plenty of rocks to sit and take a break at the top.




 Overall, I really like this hike because it's a good distance for me, has a nice view, has the challenge of both technical aspects (roots, rocks, etc.) and the steep incline. Don't worry, though - there are benches along the way if you need to rest!


Shoutout to Snapchat for hiding my sweatiness

Silly Selfie!


 Word to the wise: the parking area often fills up and they won't let any cars in so just be warned if you go on a nice weekend or holiday. It's popular!


The View from King's Pinnacle

Do you like to hike places nearby or do you travel to hiking destinations? My mom and I are tentatively planning a trip out west to hike!