Traveling Towards Happiness

Hopefully most of you have at least one extra day off this week in order to spend time with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving.  The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the biggest travel day of the year…so please be careful if you are traveling!  This year I will be making the trip across PA to spend Thanksgiving with my mom’s side of the family like we have been doing for as long as I can remember.  Typically my family travels Thanksgiving morning, but with my work schedule and my sisters both currently in VA, we are all traveling in three separate vehicles.   This means 5 hours by myself across the state to take in the scenery and do what I do best–sing to any and every song I play along the way.  I do not doubt my ability to sing the whole 5 hours, but I typically take out a few good books on CD from the library, with a few that are along the lines of self education/self-help (I know some of you are laughing at this) to get something from the extended amount of time in the car.  Might as well do something productive right?

So my schedule will consist of getting up at 3:30am to coach, coaching 2 classes, working out followed by a shower (just in case you were concerned I may skip this step), private train a client, coach a nutrition challenge class, then hit the road around 12pm.  Most likely I will start my drive with normal music, and then possibly switch to Christmas music–non stop singing of course.  Then whenever I have to make my first “pit stop”, I will most likely get Starbucks (love the red cups).  As I drive across the state I will be looking at all of what nature has to offer.  Being a natural introvert (some of you may find this surprising), I will most likely be letting my thoughts drift onto the impressive number of topics my ADD mind can cover per minute.  Some topics may be what I am thankful for (post to come this week), what God has blessed me with in my life, the obvious hand God as used to shape my life with job opportunities and the amazing people he has placed in my path, the struggles I have overcome and am still overcoming, what I want my life to look like 5 years from now, what kind of person I want to become, what I am doing to achieve my goals, how I am going to go about leaving an imprint on this world, etc.  Don’t worry, there will most likely be some shallow thoughts interspersed (what I will be wearing that night/the next day, what I will or will not eat on Thanksgiving, why am I hungry again–you get the drift).  Every so often there may be a negative thought in reference to where I am currently and how far I may have to go to reach a specific goal, but those are reframed into positive thoughts almost immediately.

I know you are probably wondering where I am going with this post, but here are two points I want to leave you with today.

1.  Find happiness in life’s simple pleasures:  Red Starbucks cups, Christmas music, nature, giving thanks for all that I have in life, thinking of meaningful gifts to get those I love, smiling at random strangers, watching parents herd their children like cats around the rest stop all dressed up…these things will make me smile on Wednesday as I travel.  Maybe I am easy to please, but I believe being easy to please makes one happy a lot more frequently.  If it snows come Wednesday when I am traveling, it would be easy for me to complain about road conditions or how miraculously people tend to lose the ability to drive in wet conditions, but most likely I will be thinking how beautiful the snow looks with a smile on my face.

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”

2.  Your thoughts shape your life:  Where does your mind wonder off to when you have time to think?  Thoughts comprise our attitude which affect our words and actions which greatly impacts our ability to achieve happiness.  Are you unhappy a lot with life or do you find yourself always talking negatively?  Well take a look at your thoughts.  How many times do you notice a negative thought cross your mind and how many times do you consciously turn it into a positive?  If you think about it, how can someone be happy when all they think are negative thoughts?  How draining!  So reflect this week on your thoughts and when a negative thought creeps into your mind, spin it into a positive.  When you find yourself wishing you had something else, try giving thanks for what you have been blessed with.  Instead of hating your current situation, focus on what you can do to accomplish your goals.

So as we near the holiday season that should be focused on giving thanks and love, spend time reflecting on the positives in your life.  Let those special people in your life know what they mean to you.  Look for the small things that make you happy.

Remember, happiness is a state of mind not a destination.  Change your thoughts, change your world.


Healthy Recipes to Satisfy Your Cravings

I am finally feeling a lot better physically in the gym and slowly making my way back into doing squats and overhead work!  To say I am excited is an understatement.  Working out is a must for me for a few reasons: 1.  I just love the way it makes me feel 2. It allows me to feel accomplished and provides gratification unparalleled to anything else in life 3. It is my time for myself and to work through whatever I am dealing with 4. When my workouts significantly decrease by number or intensity, I get more cravings.

So over the past two months of lighter workouts followed by 10 days of nothing, it became increasingly difficult to stay on track food wise.  I craved chocolate mostly to be honest #femaleproblems and I really think like most food cravings, it was my body’s way of saying it wanted to feel good since I was not giving it its dose of happy hormones.  So I tried my best to find healthy substitutes that tasted good and made me feel good without potentially adding unnecessary calories into my diet.  Here are a few ideas I created that seemed to help satisfy my palette.

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Chocolate Pumpkin Butter

1/2c of pure pumpkin (canned)Image 1

1 Tbl. almond butter

1 Tbl. dark chocolate chips (70%)

Mix in the almond butter well and then add the chocolate chips and enjoy.  Pumpkin is a low carb vegetable filled with vitamin A and potassium.  The chocolate and almond butter help ease the cravings for fat/chocolate and are a great source of healthy fat and antioxidants.  It also tastes great without the chocolate if you are trying to cut down on fat.

Chocolate Mug Cake

1 scoop chocolate protein powder (I use AboutTime isolate)

1 Tbl. cocoa powder

1/2 tsp. baking powder

2-3Tbl. lite coconut milk

Mix the powders and then add some coconut milk to turn the powder into a thick batter.  Microwave for 30sec-1min depending on how much milk you added.  If the cake starts to rise, it is most likely done, just be sure to not overcook it or else it will be dryer.  If you did overcook it, add a little more coconut milk on top to moisten it up.  This may not taste like a real brownie, but it is a great way to get some extra protein in and satisfy your chocolate craving!


Bacon Brussel Sprouts

3 pieces of bacon

Brussel sprouts

Seriously the easiest recipe ever and even though it lacks chocolate, it does help those who tend to crave salt or something that simply tastes awesome.  Start with soaking the brussel sprouts in water for about 10-20 min.   Then cut off the ends and then in half removing the outer leaves (ya know..where the bugs hide!).  Cook the bacon on the pan and once it is done, set aside the pieces to cool off.  Leaving the bacon grease in the pan, add the sprouts and then cook until lightly browned on the outside (or to the consistency you like your brussel sprouts to be).  When the sprouts are cooking, break up the bacon into little pieces.  When your sprouts are done, add them to a serving dish and toss in the bacon pieces.  For a lower fat alternative you can cook the bacon and toss the sprouts in a little bit of olive oil (or spray lightly with pam) and cook in the oven.  Once the sprouts are done cooking, just combine them with the bacon in a serving dish.  I struggle with consuming vegetables since they are rather bland, so I find this to be a great way to eat low carb, get my veggies in, and enjoy the food that I am eating!  By the way, even without the bacon, roasted brussel sprouts is probably one of my favorite plain veggie dishes!  If you haven’t tried it, you are definitely missing out!