Don’t let a few bad eggs upset your grocery cart

Growing up, I loved going grocery shopping. Not only was it fun to go grocery shopping, grocery stores are a great place to learn life lessons.

One of the biggest reasons I loved going shopping with my mother was I loved pushing around my own mini shopping cart behind her at Verona’s Miller and Sons Supermarket.

When I say behind, I mean literally ramming the cart into her heels so I could stay directly behind her, as she asked. What could be better than listening to Mom and getting to push my own cart around at the same time?

It was all fun until a kind lady told me one day that I was a bit too close to my Mom and that I was probably hurting her.

That was a good lesson for me. On the surface, it was that I shouldn’t walk too closely to my Mom or any other shopper because I might run into their heels and hurt them. But on a much deeper level, I learned to respect my Mom and those around me.  

Respect is important inside and outside of the grocery store. But if you think about it, our lives are like a giant grocery store. There will always be the people flying through the store, knocking down displays and dodging young children. There will always be the people who walk very slowly and take a look at every item that they pass.  

To learn the life lesson of respect, you have to learn to accept and deal with the slow and fast walkers alike. You have to have the patience to find the right foods you need in your store. These “right foods” in the store of your life are the right people and things that you need in your life.

While you shop through life, it’s vital to find your right foods so you can live the life that you want to live.

When you’re picking out your foods, it’s likely you’ll need a grocery cart. Sometimes you choose a grocery cart that looks great but after you start walking, the wheels swerve and the handle bar becomes sticky. You’ve got to know when to put that cart back and choose another.  

This can be a really tough decision to make, especially when you have a bunch of groceries in your cart.

This grocery cart in your life could be the used car you picked up a couple months ago. It could be a friendship that isn’t working out in your life. It could be a romantic relationship that you need to end. These groceries could be your memories, lessons, and what seems like your whole life.

So many things start off great in your life, like when you choose a shopping cart. And then, for some reason or another, they don’t quite work out. You can’t be afraid to put that grocery cart back when it doesn’t work out.

Another life lesson I learned on the tile floor in the dairy section while shopping is how to pick out eggs.

One day, my Mom and I were running errands, and she sent me to grab eggs. I dashed to the dairy section, opened the door of the cooler and grabbed a carton.

As I started to walk away, I was stopped by a considerate man who asked me if I had checked my eggs. Confused, I told him no.

He then explained that it’s good to check because sometimes cartons have broken or yucky eggs. And if we’re paying for it, we should check so we can take home a full carton of eggs. At that moment I felt as if I had gained an entirely new collection of knowledge.  

Sometimes the first carton you pick up has perfect eggs. Other times, there are cracked eggs. And usually you’ll see a couple eggs with imperfections.

You see, we also live in the egg carton of life. When we look into our lives, or the lives of someone we know, you may see many things. You might see the perfect carton of eggs.  These eggs could represent the perfect family, the perfect life or the perfect job.

But not all cartons are like that. Most have eggs with imperfections. These imperfections could be a bad grade, car trouble, a divorce or any other imperfection you may deal with in your life on a regular basis.

In the grocery store, you’re going to come across some cracked eggs. And they are no reason to get upset. Move beyond that cracked egg and fill your cart with other groceries.  

And in life, you’re going to run into people and situations that just don’t fit. And those cracked eggs are no reason to lose hope or lose yourself.

Take them out, and fill your life with other things that matter to you.  

Him

Muscle to Mind Connection

Hi, my name is Branden Westlund, you can find me on Instagram @westlundbranden.  After winning the state championship my last year at UW-Fox Valley, I traded in soccer for bodybuilding and have dabbled ever since!  I work in a hospital laboratory as a Medical Laboratory Scientist.  I am also a huge gamer (Halo, World of Tanks, Counter Strike), hunter, gearhead, and much like Macy, I love puppies!

Starting this month, Macy and I are launching a blog series that will feature a monthly post written by me. Stayed tuned each month to check out my fresh perspective!

I want to use this post to discuss one of the biggest lessons I have learned in the gym. There are many little nuances and tips/tricks that you can pick up along the way from people you meet or friends who work out with you. The most important thing that I have learned was from Kai Greene. For those of you who don’t know who he is, I urge you to check out his YouTube videos or social media accounts; Kai is full of knowledge and is a very knowledgeable bodybuilder. It was on one of his series, “Train with Kai” that he helped an aspiring bodybuilder to understand the concept of muscle to mind connection.

I have always been a stickler for using correct form and tried to perform lifts properly without cheating myself. When I watched this series, it made even more sense and you start to understand things more when you see a professional bodybuilder explain his mindset to another person. When you can check your ego at the door and really get down to business in the gym, you will be amazed at the progress you can make!

I began thinking about every rep, every contraction and every extension of each muscle I am training. Not only did I see progress, I got a better understanding of how to work each muscle group on its own and stop using other accessory muscles that were hindering the growth of what I was training that particular day.

The concept may be deeper than your understanding of the musculoskeletal system of the human body, but anyone can utilize it if you just break it down.

When you are doing a bicep curl the only way for that weight to move is by contracting your bicep.  You perform so many tasks every day that involve your bicep, what you are trying to do now is slow down and think about that movement.

When you were a kid you had to learn to tie your shoes; today you don’t even think about that motion because it is just muscle memory and engraved in your brain!  Stop and think before you tie your shoes this morning and really think about it.  The same applies to working out in the gym; you have to really think about what muscle you are using and not just go through the motions.

The muscle to mind connection can be utilized in more than just the sport of bodybuilding. I have a coworker who loves yoga. Her concept of mind to muscle connection is the same and is just as useful. She has learned to control each muscle according to the pose she is attempting, which has led to greater strength and endurance for her. You can utilize this concept even if you are a beginner weightlifter or cardio enthusiast; it is always important to know and understand what your body is trying to perform in order for you to maximize whatever goal you may be working towards!

 

-Branden

Find Branden on Instagram: @westlundbranden.

Healthy zucchini bread

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Truvia
  • 2 T coconut oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1.5 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan with coconut oil. Set pan aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine Truvia, coconut oil, eggs, applesauce and vanilla. Stir until well-blended.

4. Add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt and stir to combine.
5. Add the shredded zucchini and chocolate chips and fold into the mixture.

6. Pour the mixture into the greased loaf pan and spread evenly.

7. Place in the oven and bake for 50-65 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick comes out clean from the center of the loaf.

8. Remove the pan from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.

Homemade sweet potato fries

Are you looking for a veggie that tastes yummy and provides health benefits as well? Look no further than the sweet potato! Sweet potatoes are a great complex carb and an excellent source of fiber.

We make sweet potatoes nearly every week during our meal prep. The recipe is simple, delicious and nutritious.

If you don’t have time to make your own sweet potato fries, there are also frozen sweet potato fries you can find at the grocery store by the frozen french fry section. Just be mindful of the added ingredients that may come with purchasing frozen sweet potato fries. 

Sweet Potato Fries

  • Sweet potato
  • Olive oil
  • Seasoning of choice (our faves are Pink Himalayan salt or Cajun seasoning)

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Peel the sweet potato using a potato or apple peeler. If you don’t have a peeler of any kind, you can also use a knife!

2. After the sweet potato is peeled, cut the sweet potato into thin strips.

3. Put the sweet potato strips into a bowl and toss with olive oil. Make sure the sweet potato strips have a light coating of olive oil on them.

4. Put the sweet potato strips on a baking sheet. Sprinkle your seasoning of choice over top. We like to use sea salt, Cajun seasoning, seasoning salt, etc. You can choose your favorite seasoning to cater your taste buds.

5. Put the sweet potatoes in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and flip the sweet potato strips over. Cook for another 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Friday Fit Tip: cut out added sugar

Happy Friday! Today’s Friday fit tip: cut out added sugar.

What is added sugar? According to ChooseMyPlate.gov, added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared. This does not include naturally occurring sugars such as those in milk and fruits.

Cutting added sugar will require you to read and understand food labels.

Why should you cut out added sugar? According to Eve Schaub, author of Year of No Sugar, “sugar is everywhere, it’s making us all fat and sick and almost no one realizes it.”

How does Fructose make you fat and sick?

  1. All sugar contains fructose.
  2. Fructose does not satisfy hunger, so you eat more food than your body needs.
  3. Fructose may not be used by any of the cells in our body, except the liver.
  4. Consumption of fructose has risen 341 percent in the last century and continues to climb.

To eliminate added sugar from your diet, choose fruit when you are craving something sweet. Also read the nutrition labels on your food and choose foods that are low in sugar.

Some sneaky foods that tend to have a TON of sugar in them are: pasta sauces, condiments, noodles, white bread, Gatorade, alcoholic beverages, etc.

Do you keep an eye on your sugar intake? What are your best tips to eliminate added sugar?

 

Sources:

-Choose My Plate, choosemyplate.gov

Year of No Sugar by Eve Schaub

Friday fit tip- keep a food journal

Today’s fit tip: keep a food journal. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated, a simple notebook and pen will do the trick. There are also tons of free apps for tracking food on your phone! One of my favorites is MyFitnessPal.

Tracking the food that you eat can help you be more conscious about what you are really eating and help you see where you can improve your eating habits.

There’s only one rule- write down EVERYTHING that you eat. Every little thing that goes in your mouth gets written down. That handful of chocolate chips or those two french fries off your kiddo’s plate add up. If you bite it, write it.

Start small and track everything you would eat on a normal day. Then evaluate the list. Are you eating more than you thought you were? Are you eating less than you thought you were? Are the foods you eating not as healthy as you thought?

Use the info you collect to switch up your eating habits! Do you typically keep a food journal? Do you track your food through an app? Tell me about your food journal experiences!

Grab-and-go breakfast ideas

Let’s be real. Mornings are hard. It’s tough enough to get out of bed and get ready for the day, let alone find something delicious, nutritious and filling for breakfast. But luckily, I have a few tricks up my sleeve to share with you. Here are my favorite go-to, quick breakfast ideas!

    1. Instant oatmeal: I love oatmeal and find that it keeps me full all the way until my morning snack! When I’m running around in the morning getting ready, I empty a packet of instant oatmeal into a mug or cup, put in water and pop it in the microwave. The mug makes it super easy for me to carry around while I finish getting ready or finish packing my lunch. You could also take your mug of oatmeal on the go in the car if you needed to.
    2. Protein pancakes: When I meal prep for the week, often I make a big batch of protein pancakes. Then I put them into freezer bags and stick them in the freezer. In the morning, I pop the frozen pancakes into the toaster, drizzle with sugar-free syrup and eat them up! The protein pancakes that we’re eating now are Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes, Dark Chocolate Flapjack and Waffle Mix, 18 Ounce! They are delicious and boyfriend approved!
    3. Peanut butter toast: YUM! Love me some peanut butter toast! Sprouted grain bread or a whole wheat sandwich thins are great bread options. When picking a peanut butter, choose an option that is low in sugar. While I’m packing my lunch, I pop the bread in the toaster. Then a quick spread of peanut butter and you’re out the door! Peanut butter is a healthy fat but make sure to just use a serving size. Typically the serving size for peanut butter is 2 tablespoons, depending on the kind you get.
    4. Healthy muffins: Muffins are great because you can literally just grab one and run out the door! These blueberry muffins are delish! Do you have a fave healthy muffin recipe?
    5. Greek yogurt with fruit: During Sunday night meal prep, I cut and wash fruit and other produce for the week. When I eat greek yogurt, I typically buy the individual containers. I open the container, add some fruit, give it a stir and eat it up! Greek yogurt and fruit would also be an easy meal to eat right at your desk if you can’t eat before you leave.

What are your favorite quick breakfasts? Do you have any recipes to share with me? Share your breakfast ideas and recipes in the comments!

50 free date ideas

Just because we’re on a budget doesn’t mean we can’t have fun! It’s important to make time to  have date nights with your significant other so that you take time to focus on your relationship and the two of you. Here’s a solid list of date ideas that will help you stick to your budget!

  1. Go to a local farmer’s market. Eat free samples, people watch and enjoy an easy stroll.
  2. Sign up for a free class! Many are offered at local libraries.
  3. Snuggle up and have a movie marathon at home.
  4. Go on a bike ride.
  5. Enjoy nature by watching the sun set, star gazing, etc.
  6. Go on a picnic! Pack food that you already have, grab a blanket and head out!
  7. Go sledding.
  8. Build a blanket fort and spend the whole night in it.
  9. Take a free DIY class at a local home improvement store.
  10. Go to a free museum.
  11. Have a game night. Here are some games that work well for just two people!
  12. Make a playlist of your favorite songs and dance!
  13. Make a bucket list.
  14. Dress up and visit open houses in your neighborhood.
  15. Cook dinner together.
  16. Take turns giving massages.
  17. Go to free music/movies in the park.
  18. Go on a hike.
  19. Host a potluck with your friends.
  20. Go ice skating.
  21. Go to a free zoo.
  22. Volunteer together.
  23. Host a cheese and wine party. Have your friends bring wine/cheese to contribute.
  24. Drive around your neighborhood and look at all the Christmas lights/displays during the holiday season.
  25. Start a workout routine together.
  26. Have a spa night together. (Even boys need to moisturize!)
  27. Make brunch at home.
  28. Read a book together.
  29. Visit your local library and select movies to watch together.
  30. Learn something new! Use Pinterest or Youtube.
  31. Put together a puzzle.
  32. Make a homemade pizza together.
  33. Plan an upcoming trip!
  34. Play dirty truth or dare.
  35.  Go for a scenic drive.
  36. Make cookies or your favorite sweet treat.
  37. Record the story of how you met.
  38. Find a free concert. There’s usually lots to pick from in the summer!
  39. Build a slip-n-slide in your backyard.
  40. Go on a free brewery tour.
  41. Go on a scenic landmark tour. Pretend you are only in your city for a day and hit up the most popular landmarks that are free!
  42. Host your own drive-in movie. Grab your laptop, blankets and pillows and set up outside!
  43. Go window shopping.
  44. At-home paint night. Pour a glass of wine, find a picture you want to replicate and have fun!
  45. Dinner in. Dress up, light some candles and enjoy a special home cooked dinner.
  46. Have a Netflix marathon.
  47. Stripping games- battleship, chess, poker, checkers, pool- raise the stakes and get naked.
  48. Go for a walk together.
  49. Have a fire and make smores.
  50. Go to a park and play basketball, frisbee or catch.

Do you have any additional free date ideas? What are your favorite types of dates to go on with your significant other?

9 ways to sleep better tonight

Sleep is something that often gets overlooked. But catching those zzzz’s are so important for your overall health and any fitness goals that you may have. There’s no magic pill or secret formula for your dream bod, but if you’re doing the right things and not seeing results, you might need to check out your sleep habits! Check out my favorite ways to get a good night of sleep!

 

 

Werk it out jams!

We all know how important music is for a good workout! I’m sharing my latest playlist for your next workout! Crank up the volume and sweat it out!

(This playlist has over 2 hours of music!)

Follow me on Spotify to check out my weekly playlists! Find all my fave songs under my profile ‘MSarbacker‘. What are your favorite songs to workout to? Share your favorites below in the comments!