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How to Stay Consistent with Health Goals Over the Weekend

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During the week, you’ve packed your lunch every day, ate all the meal prepped food you’ve cooked for the week for dinner, avoided fast food, and hit the gym three times. Now, it’s Friday and you feel ready to let loose! Then Monday morning comes along and you’ve realized you’ve regressed on your goals and start all over again. Sound familiar? The first few months of my lifestyle change I found that I wasn’t seeing the results I hoped for highly due to inconsistencies on the weekend. I’m not saying that there isn’t room for weekend indulgences. However, consistency especially at the beginning is essential to achieving your health goals. Here are my 5 best tips for remaining consistent with your health and wellness goals even on the weekend!

  • Wine over Mimosas

 

My favorite part about the weekend is Sunday Brunch. Just because you’ve started a new health goal doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself. Instead of bottomless mimosas, opt for glasses of dry wines instead. Orange juice is high in carbohydrates and it adds up quickly. Dry wines have approximately 5-6 carbs per glass. Splurging on a few glasses won’t do as much damage to your goals.

  • Don’t Skip Breakfast

 

When I knew I was going to eat out, I used to skip breakfast to create a calorie deficit. However, what it usually did was make me so hungry that I ate two meals worth of food at the restaurant. Eating a balanced meal according to your meal plan helps to kickstart your metabolism and helps to control your appetite throughout the day.

  • Choose Healthy Indulgences 

 

Do you crave ice cream on the weekends? Choose Carb Smart Ice Cream, add a tablespoon of peanut butter and top it with Whip Cream. Now you’ve gotten your Sundae fix without damaging your health goals.

  • Stay Active

 

Use the extra time on the weekend to do active activities outside of your usual workout routine. Some of my favorites are playing some basketball or badminton. Remember to invite your friends and family members. Sharing time with others in ways that benefit your health goals is a great way to stay consistent on the weekends.

  • Everything in Moderation

 

It’s okay to eat and enjoy your favorite foods every now and then. If you’re going to a birthday dinner, choose to eat the healthy choices for your meal but have cake for dessert if you want cake. Moderation is key.

Remember that every weekend won’t be perfect and you will have setbacks. Don’t just give up on the whole day due to one unhealthy meal. Choose a healthy option for your next meal and keep going!

Do you have trouble staying on track with health goals during the weekend? What are some of your favorite tips to stay consistent? Leave comments below!

Review: Sweet Earth Benevolent Bacon

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While grocery shopping at my local Giant food, I came across this vegetarian bacon that I have never seen before in the refrigerated aisles. Morningstar brand has always been my product of choice when it comes to vegetarian foods. However, I was delighted to try something new when I discovered the Sweet Earth Hickory and Sage Benevolent Bacon.

After trying Benevolent Bacon for the first time, I was actually pleasantly surprised. The smoked taste is savory and definitely gives it a more “meat-like” taste. The downside to this bacon is that even after pan-searing it with oil, it does not crisp up as much as the Morningstar brand veggie bacon or real meat. As with all vegetarian meats, you can expect a different texture than actual meat. Products that include bacon in their name often leads to misleading expectations, especially for those who are new to vegetarianism. However, as far as taste goes the benefits outweigh the negatives.

I will likely continue to encourage the use of Morningstar Brand Stripples, as mentioned in my 7-Day Modified Keto Vegetarian Meal Plan due to its carbohydrate amounts. Stripples contain 2 grams of net carbohydrates versus Benevolent Bacon, which has 5 grams of net carbohydrates. All in all, if you’re looking to incorporate more vegan/vegetarian food options to your meals, I would highly recommend this product. Rate: 8/10

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Done with Diets: Becoming the healthiest version of you

IMG_2788Honesty moment… I do not like the word diet. I’ve actually made a conscious attempt to remove this word from my vocabulary and willingly chose not to include this term in my 7-Day Modified Keto Vegetarian Meal Plan.

People often ask me if my diet is over now that I’ve achieved weight loss. My answer to that is I’ve never really been on one in the first place. I may not have realized this at the beginning of my journey but I do now. Weight loss was just a by-product to me becoming the healthiest version of myself. I encourage weight loss if it is something you need to do to improve your health. Excess weight can cause and/or make you at risk for a number of health issues including diabetes, heart disease, and much more. However, weight loss isn’t a necessity in the journey to becoming your best self for everyone. 

It’s important to remember that health is an individualized goal. Health looks different for everyone and the journey to health will look different for everyone. Everyone can be given and practice the same health techniques but everyones body may respond to it differently because we are all unique. So my question is “What does the best version of yourself look like to you? Why?” Do you feel like you need to lose weight for societal reasons or aesthetics? Does your body feel more energized or sluggish depending on what you fuel it with? Do you need help identifying what healthy looks like to you?

Comment and let me know your thoughts. 

Also, follow my page for more information about becoming the best version of yourself through health and wellness tips. 

 

Veggie Tots: The Tater Tot Alternative

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Breakfast has always been my favorite meal of the day and the one meal where I willingly eat the most carbs. Therefore, finding a low carbohydrate tater tot alternative at my local Giant food store was the best thing for me since sliced bread. Green Giant’s Veggie Tots Broccoli and Cheese have now become the new addition to my daily breakfast. At 9 net carbs per serving, I can enjoy this side to my breakfast omelette and not exceed my carb limit for breakfast. These tots when pan seared in oil are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. Foods like these veggie tots make it much easier to sustain a low-carb lifestyle without giving up the indulgences you love. 

Green Giant offers other versions of the veggie tots, including broccoli, cauliflower, and sweet potato tots. The other types of tots definitely have smoother textures on the inside, especially the cauliflower tot. The broccoli and cheese version of the tots is by far my favorite out of the bunch. The addition of the cheese helps give the tot structure and texture. I would definitely recommend these tots as a healthy alternative to potato tater tots for those embarking on a low-carb lifestyle journey. Happy Eating! 

 

Low Carb & Oral Health: The Surprising Side Effect

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Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

In October of 2018 just prior to my wedding date, it was time to visit my lovely friend “the dentist”. I had planned out my teeth cleaning that way so that my teeth would be pearly white for my BIG day. That same day I found myself with 4 cavities that required fillings and two separate visits to complete it. I grew up as a lover of sweets, therefore, dentist visits were never fun for me. So on this past Thursday during my bi-yearly dentist appointment, I braced myself for the unsolicited shade from my Dentist about where there’s sensitivity in my teeth and about needing to floss more. However, this visit was MUCH different in a good way. 

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Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Why do we all grow up understanding “don’t eat too much candy or it’ll ruin your teeth”? That’s because sugar fuels the bacteria to produce acid in the mouth, which leads to tooth decay. This process is called demineralization. Although not all carbs are created equal, sugars when broken down are essentially carbohydrates and have similar effects on the body. So when I decided to limit carbohydrate intake last year, it actually has since had an effect on my teeth! Not only does limiting carbohydrates minimize tooth decay, it is also beneficial for the prevention of gum disease. Low carb diets such as my Modified Keto Vegetarian diet will lead to healthier teeth and mouth, preventing tooth decay, cavities, and overall preventing extra visits to the dentist. Consider trying my meal plan today!

 

 

Keto Mac and Cheese Recipe

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Cauliflower is one of the most versatile ingredients for the Keto Diet. This time it is used for a creamy indulgent Mac ‘n’ cheese. Yes, I know it’s cauliflower but what is the best part of Mac ‘n’ cheese then the seasoning and the cheese cause?! I’ll wait… This healthy low carb Mac ‘n’ cheese recipe with only 5 net carbs per serving is a perfect side to any protein.

Ingredients

  • 1 large head of cauliflower (steamed and cut into florets)
  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp of garlic power
  • sprinkle of cayenne
  • 1 1/2 cup of Colby Jack Cheese
  • 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 375 and prepare a baking dish with Olive Oil Cooking Spray. Chop your cauliflower head in florets and steam them (with water that has been salted to taste) for approximately 6 minutes until they are tender. Strain the water from the cauliflower and pat them dry before putting it into the baking dish.

In a large saucepan, add heavy whipping cream, garlic power, onion powder, cayenne, salt and pepper to a simmering boil over medium heat. Add the Colby Jack cheese in to create a thickened cheese sauce. Pour in the cheese sauce over the cauliflower in the baking dish and then stir until the cheese is fully incorporated. Finish the top of the cauliflower with more Colby Jack cheese and the parmesan cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Enjoy!

Top 5 Fast Food Options for the Vegetarian Keto Diet

image1-510 years ago I embarked on the journey of becoming vegetarian during my freshman year of college. Last year, I discovered the keto diet while attempting to slim down for my wedding and have been on/off it ever since. As a young adult and a registered nurse, I live a pretty fast paced life. With extremely long work hours and two jobs, just finding time to spend with my family, manage my small business, attend church regularly, sleep and travel can be a challenge. To make matters worse, being a vegetarian and keto usually isn’t something you can do on the whim. It’s something you need to plan for. Thankfully, there are some fast food options out there that can make a vegetarian keto diet easier when you’re on the go.

  1. Starbucks 

My favorite breakfast when I’m late to work is the Sous Vide Egg White & Red Pepper from Starbucks. I like to pair it with Grande Iced Coffee with a light splash of Heavy Whipping Cream and 4 Pumps of Sugar-Free Cinnamon Dolce for a total of 14 Carbs. This is a pretty heavy breakfast (carbohydrate wise) for someone trying to maintain under 35 carbs for the day. However, it is definitely possible with lower carb options for lunch and dinner.

  1. Smoothie King

Smoothie Kings smoothies that are fruit based and filled with sugar are not appropriate for the keto diet. However, The Gladiator Vanilla totals to 6 net carbs for 20 ounce drink and is quite filling due to the amount of protein.

  1. Chipotle

Chipotle gives you the option to build your own salad bowl, which can be made keto. Ask for a salad bowl with lettuce, easy (VERY EASY) on the beans, fajitas, cheese, mild or medium salsa, sour cream, and guacamole. Skip the rice and the vinaigrette because both are heavy in carbs. This meal can be under 10 carbs if you put just a sprinkle of beans or skip them altogether.

  1. Panera Bread

Since bread is in the name of this fast food restaurant, you already know that keto options may be limited. A Caesar salad without the croutons is one of the few keto-vegetarian friendly items on the menu. Adding a cup of their Ten Vegetable Soup is 8 net carbs.

  1. Noodles and Company

When you substitute regular pasta for Zoodles (zucchini noodles) in the Penne Rosa at Noodles and Company, it totals out to 9 Net Carbs. I live to add the seasoned tofu to mine, which increases the net carbs to 12. The Penne Rosa sauce is a red tomato-based sauce with a hint of spice, topped with feta or parmesan cheese. It’s a perfect vegetarian dinner for a keto-vegetarian on the go. Their Wisconsin Mac and Cheese with Zoodles is an even lower carb option and with tofu is also very delicious.

The Take Away…

Yes, being a keto-vegetarian takes planning! However, it doesn’t mean you can’t enough the luxury of stopping somewhere after work to pick up something quick to eat. I hope to see more options on the fast food menus as more people decide to choose the keto-vegetarian lifestyle.

 

Photo Source @FoodBeast

 

Why Birthdays Are Difficult for Creatives

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In just three days, I will be celebrating my 28th birthday. Despite all I have to be thankful for, I still find myself creeping into the birthday blues every year around April 26th. I find myself consumed with thoughts of “have I reached my maximum potential?” or “what more could I be doing?” So I’ve spent the past few weeks leading up to my birthday deeply immersing myself into activities to make me feel better about the fact that I’m not exactly where I want to be just yet. Birthdays are normally a cause for reflection and celebration but they can be difficult for the creative mind. Research shows that birthdays can cause disappointment and dissatisfaction due to not achieving expected accomplishments from the previous year. The deep reflection that particularly goes through the mind of creatives can make them wish they had done more to achieve their goals for the year.
This year I decided to make a conscious effort to combat my birthday blues using these tips:

1. Talk nice to yourself

The words you speak over yourself have power. Do not criticize yourself for what you have yet to achieve but praise yourself for what you have already accomplished. Look in the mirror and say something nice about what you see.

2. Confront your negative feelings

While you shouldn’t talk down to yourself, it is okay to acknowledge the feelings you have and why you’re feeling that way. Give yourself space to mourn over what you felt you could have done better but don’t dwell in it. Once you’ve addressed and made peace with those feelings, move forward in a more positive mindset.

3. Manage your expectations

Don’t let your expectations control you. Remember the journey that it took to get you to where you are. Reflect on how far you’ve come over the years. Realize that where you’re at now was once a goal. Let your thoughts be a motivating force that drives you to achieve more of your goals for next year.

4. Spend your birthday with the ones you love

Spending your birthday with your people you love doing an activity you love is a great way to cope with birthday depression. It also serves as a reminder of all the people who continue to root for you and your success.

Conclusion…

Creatives should avoid using their birthday as a measuring tool for success but as a celebration of life and progression. Time is one of the most valuable assets to a creative. Therefore, every day you wake up alive is not only more time but another opportunity to take a step or a leap towards reaching your goals.

Traveling for Cheap: Seeing the World with GroupOn

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I recently saw a tweet that stated, “Traveling is not cheap and everyone online on who says so is lying”. I saw many responses in agreement saying that traveling is a luxury to only those who can afford it. I can agree that traveling CAN be extremely expensive. However, it does not have to be. Travel deals through GroupOn can make traveling affordable for those even on the tightest of budgets.

After spending thousands of dollars on our wedding back in November, my husband and I did not want to break the bank for our honeymoon but still wanted it to be very special. We decided to book our honeymoon through GroupOn because we saw an unbelievable deal to go to Athens and Santorini, Greece for 7 days; all for the low price of $2500. This price included our international flights to Greece, bus transfers to and from the airport, flight transfers from Athens to Santorini, hotel stay in both cities, a sunset cruise in Santorini, a tour guide, and breakfast everyday. My husband was a little apprehensive at first to booking through GroupOn. Although I never traveled through GroupOn internationally, I have used it for hotel stays stateside. We decided to just take a leap of faith and book the trip voucher, which used the agency Affordable World. Here are our list of Pros and Cons from booking our international trip through GroupOn:

Pros:

1. Price

For what we received, we thought that $2500 was an incredible deal. Flights alone to Greece were $1700 roundtrip for both us, when we tried to book the trip to Greece without GroupOn.

2. There was practically no planning needed.

The trip comes with a fully printed itinerary that was given to us upon arrival. All the tour locations, bus/flights arrival and departure times, and hotel information were on the itinerary, which made the trip very straightforward. There  was no need to plan how we would get from point A to point B, which took a lot of stress off us. The tours highlighted key sightseeing landmarks, which made planning practically unnecessary.

3. Great for first time travelers

Because the trip comes with an English-speaking tour guide, it makes it very easy for first time travelers to a foreign country. The tour guide did not leave us until we reached security. They made sure we were all able to check-in.

Cons:

1. You may not get the exact dates you want

We ended up booking our honeymoon one week after our wedding because that was the closest date available to when we actually wanted to travel.

2. You must read the fine print

Thankfully, we did read the fine print and recognized that the standard price of $2300 didn’t include a flight transfer from Athens to Santorini but a Ferry transfer, which had an 8hour travel time. We were able to upgrade to the flight transfers for our new total of $2500. However, some of our fellow travelers in our group were not as lucky. They ended up purchasing flights same day rather than spending an entire day on the ferry returning to Athens.

3. You may have to do some research

You may have to do some on the exact locations of the hotels in reference to the city center and the sights. Our Athens hotel was beautiful but it was farther away from the city center. If we knew I’m advance, we might have chosen to purchase the upgraded hotel, which was right in the mix of all the city activities.

Conclusion    

Overall, my experience through GroupOn and Affordable World was a great one. I would definitely book again for another international trip. Most of the Cons did not affect us because we were flexible in our travel date and read every little thing in the fine prints. If you are looking to see the world inexpensively, I would recommend booking GroupOn for your next get-a-way!

I Dream of WE: You, Me & My Student Loans

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

On November 4th 2018, my husband and I said “I do” to a lifetime together. Three months in and we are still beginning the process of merging our lives into one, from car insurance policies to retirement beneficiaries. When you add student loans into the mix, things can become…well complicated. Thankfully, my husband came into the marriage with no debt. However, my student loan debt luggage totals to approximately $60,000. Although, your spouse does not have a legal responsibility to pay back your student loans. Having debt can affect your marriage and can hold you back financially. Here are some of my tips for handling student loans as a couple.

  1. Look at the Numbers

How much debt are you bringing in exactly? Write it down and show it to your spouse. My training as a nurse has always taught me to assess the situation first. The principle is the same for figuring out a repayment plan for student loan debt. Rewinding back even further, it is okay to ask this question while seriously dating someone. If you are considering marriage, you’ll need to tackle finances together, which includes debt.

  1. Be Understanding

Student Loan debt isn’t a luxury. It isn’t the result of going out to buy a fancy car or racking up thousands of credit card debt. It was a ticket to an education that was otherwise unavailable to you without the loan. Be understanding in your conversation about student loan debt with your spouse and do not judge them for their decisions. They did what was best for them at that time.

  1. Sacrifice

While attempting to repay student loans, sacrifices will need to be made. Decide on what you are willing to sacrifice. We decided financial freedom was more important than buying a house right away. We decided that we would have to sacrifice our travels and limit ourselves to one vacation for the year. We decided that eating out needs to become more of a luxury and to limit it.

  1. Create A Plan Together

Student loans can affect your marriage. Even if only one person is paying them, that is money that could have otherwise been used to build wealth in the marriage. Our plan is holding off on buying a home, making bi-weekly payments, starting with the smallest loans and with the highest interest rates.  Although every couple handles finances differently, however you decide to do it…you must have a plan that you create together.