Fitness, Lean Body Challenge Fitness, Lean Body Challenge

It’s my second week of working out, and the end of the first official week of the challenge. I started the first week off strong, sticking to my meal plan and only missing one workout due to a severe case of DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness). I was proud of my progress and jumped into the second week with a ton of confidence. And then something happened…

By mid-week, I hopped on the scale (even though I had previously decided to only weigh in once a week) and was devastated to see that I had GAINED 3 pounds! All of the progress I had made the week before was gone, despite sticking to the plan. Now, I KNOW that the scale isn’t a reliable way to measure your progress. I KNOW there are tons of variables that can cause fluctuations, and I KNOW that consistent work will result in progress, even if it’s not always easy to see. BUT – despite all of this – that one little number really threw me into a downward spiral.

I started to question the meal plan I had designed, deciding that it was probably too high-carb for me. I did some research and decided to go back to a Keto meal plan since that’s worked well for me in the past. Unfortunately, while this was happening, I also totally threw in the towel when it came to eating well. I didn’t just fall off the wagon, I dove off it — head first — got run over by it, and am now laying on the ground with a proverbial mouth full of dirt. I’ve reached a turning point where I can either give up like I always have or find a way to recommit.

Refusing to Negotiate

Every second of every day, we’re faced with making decisions that impact our wellbeing. When you’re trying to create new habits, the constant mental debate becomes exhausting. You create so much unnecessary stress by arguing with yourself about whether you can justify cheating on your diet, why it’s okay to skip a certain set of exercises, or whether you’re even going to do your workout at all.

One of the keys to sticking with any habit is truly deciding you’re going to do it, and then refusing to negotiate. This is more than just saying you’ve decided to do it (which is how most people start). It’s committing to do it because that’s the KIND OF PERSON you’ve decided to be. At that point, there is no more questioning yourself about whether you’re going to do the thing. It becomes a non-negotiable part of your life … and that’s where the magic happens.

So Where Do I Go from Here?

It’s becoming clear that if I want to meet my goals, the questioning has to stop. It’s time to commit. Although I’ve repeatedly said I need to give up the “all or nothing” attitude and instead seek balance and moderation, it’s not really working for me. I’m learning that I need some sense of structure. I must refuse to negotiate because when I give myself an inch, I end up taking a mile.

So, today, I’ve truly DECIDED. I’m eliminating the element of questioning by turning the planning over to third parties. I’ve got a detailed workout plan and an eight-week Keto Jump Start meal plan. I’ve scheduled my workouts on the calendar just like any other appointment. Now I just need to follow the plans without questioning, without negotiating, and without bargaining. Should be easy, right? Well, we shall find out…

I’ll be back with an update next week. In the meantime, follow the Bliss Quest Facebook page for lots of tips, motivation, and other cool stuff!

Bliss Quest, Kitchen Tools Bliss Quest, Kitchen Tools

I’ve never been a great cook. In fact, I’ve literally burned a pot of water while trying to make spaghetti. I’m not the type of person who spends a lot of money on kitchen supplies, and the thought of even attempting to make a meal without a glass of wine in my hand horrifies me. So why would you take kitchen advice from me? It’s simple. I’ve made it my mission to make things easy so I can get out of the kitchen and onto better things.

If I’m being honest, I would far rather order a pizza or go to a drive-thru than spend my time bumbling around the kitchen. However, as I embark on this exciting health journey, kitchen duty is now a necessary part of life.

The more time I spend cooking, the more thankful I am for some of the nifty tools in my kitchen. I had no idea I needed most of these things, but now that I have them, I can’t imagine going back to my old way of life. It seems silly to say a kitchen tool can rock your world, but you may just be surprised. Here are a few of the things you’ll find in my kitchen that have made my life SO MUCH easier!

This list contains affiliate links: LEARN MORE

Salad Spinner

I eat a ton of salads, so buying a salad spinner was sort of a no-brainer for me. With all the nasty stuff that gets sprayed on our vegetables, it’s important to always wash them thoroughly before eating. I usually spend one day prepping all of my salads for the week, so it’s important that the veggies stay fresh. I find that making sure everything is really dry before I put it away helps ensure my Friday salad is just as good as the Monday one.

My salad spinner is super easy to use. I just push the button a few times, watch it spin, and dump out the extra water. Even though this takes up more cabinet space than I would have liked, it’s well worth it. For me, quick and easy is the name of the game!

Ceramic Pottery Sponge Holder

When I received a decorative sponge holder as a gift, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of buying one before. This kitchen gadget may have single-handedly saved my marriage. I joke, of course, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been ridiculously annoyed as I try to pick a nasty, wet sponge from the bottom of a sink filled with dirty dishes. Now, my sponges are clean, dry, and beautifully displayed on my countertop.

NutriBullet Blender

I literally couldn’t live without my NutriBullet blender. It’s great for making smoothies and protein shakes. It also purees fruits and vegetables, so you get far more nutrients than you would with a juicer. My favorite thing about the NutriBullet is that the cup fits right on the blender blade. When I’m done blending, I simply unscrew the blade and rinse it off. Then I screw a flip-top lid onto the cup and run out the door. The base set comes with a couple of cups and lids, but I bought a few extras so I never run short.

Blender Ball

I don’t know about you, but every time I try to use a traditional whisk, I end up making a huge mess. Now, I usually add the ingredients into a mason jar, throw in a blender ball, and give it a good shake. The results are just as good, and clean-up is super easy.

I have a bunch of blender balls in my kitchen drawer, so they’re always handy for making protein shakes on the go. They’re also great for making quick and easy omelets and homemade salad dressing. Once you start experimenting, the possibilities are almost endless.

Poaching Pan

I love poached eggs, but they’re almost impossible to make using traditional methods. Once I got a poaching pan, I couldn’t imagine why anybody would do it the other way. I just spray the cups with nonstick spray, crack an egg, and watch it until it’s perfectly poached. The cups have little handles that make it easy to pick up and slide the egg right out onto your plate. As with all of the tools I allow in my kitchen, this pan is easy to clean and doesn’t take up too much space.

Keurig Coffee Maker & Accessories

The problem with a traditional coffee maker is that it’s far too complicated for someone who has not yet had their morning coffee. Since I rarely have time to drink more than one cup of coffee before I leave for work, the one-cup Keurig coffee maker is perfect for me. I keep a variety of coffee pods on my countertop, displayed in an attractive spinning carousel holder.

Keurig’s have gotten a bad rap over the past few years because of pod’s the wasteful packaging. If that type of thing bothers you, a refillable capsule solves the problem. It’s easy to fill the capsule with your favorite ground coffee and surprisingly simple to clean.

Cephalon Grill Pan

I love the taste of grilled meat, but grilling outdoors isn’t always practical. When I received a Cephalon Grill Pan as a gift, it literally rocked my world. It’s perfect for cooking meats on the stovetop, and the results are surprisingly good. The deep ridges in the pan allow you to sear the outside of the meat while locking in juices, giving the meat an authentic grilled taste. This pan is great for cooking steaks, burgers, pork chops, and chicken. Best of all, the nonstick coating makes clean-up a breeze.

Electric Can Opener

I don’t usually eat a lot of canned foods, but when I need to open a can, I don’t want it to be a hassle. There’s nothing worse than struggling with a hand-crank can opener that doesn’t work right. The last time I watched my dinner burn while cursing and smashing the can with my crappy opener, I threw it in the trash and bought an electric can opener.  For me, it’s well worth the money, and since I use it so rarely, I’m expecting it to last forever.

Classic Wine Opener

While electric was the way to go for my can opening needs, when it comes to opening wine, I found that simpler is better. I’ve used all types of fancy openers in the past. Whether it was the expensive and complicated Rabbit or a fancy gadget powered by electricity or C02 cartridges, the one thing they all have in common is that they failed me when I needed it most. Believe me when I tell you there are few things worse than not being able to open a bottle of wine when you REALLY need it! When it comes to wine openers, in my opinion, the best kind is the one that opens the damn bottle!

My go-to opener is now the super simple and easy-to-use wing corkscrew wine opener. I’ve had this for years and it’s the only one that has worked every single time, without exception. As an added bonus, it’s inexpensive, portable, and takes up a tiny amount of space in my kitchen.

Infuser Teapot

While not exactly a kitchen tool, my infuser teapot definitely belongs on the list of things that have made my life easier. Loose-leaf tea is delicious and can bring many health benefits. Unfortunately, it can also be messy and difficult to make. When I want to wind down after a long and stressful day, I simply add my favorite loose-leaf tea blend into the infuser basket, fill the pot with boiling water, and wait a few minutes for it to steep. The 24-ounce size makes two to three cups of tea, which is perfect for a relaxing evening tea ritual.

I hope you found this list helpful. Did I miss any must-have kitchen tools? Let me know in the comments below.

 

NOTE: As I continue on my journey, I’ll share with you the products and services that have helped improve my life. The links above are affiliate links, meaning if you choose to purchase through them, I’ll get a small commission. This doesn’t impact your price, and any profit made helps to cover the costs associated with running the Bliss Quest blog. My promise to you is that I’ll never recommend something I don’t personally use and love. Want to know more? Read the full disclosure here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bliss Quest, Dressing, Bliss Quest, Dressing,

Do you eat store-bought salad dressing? If you do, you’re probably almost completely negating the good you’re doing by eating a big bowl of raw veggies. Not only are commercial dressings typically full of calories, unhealthy fats, and high fructose corn syrup, you’re also likely to find ingredients like:

  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Natamycin
  • Potassium sorbate
  • Polysorbate 60
  • Calcium Disodium EDTA
  • Sodium benzoate
  • Sulfur dioxide
  • Xanthan gum
  • Caramel color

I don’t know about you, but when I read that, what I see is “Chemical Shit Storm.”

Let’s be honest, we all would probably much rather be eating something far more decadent than a salad, so why undo your good choices by topping it with store-bought crap?

Most people don’t bother making their own salad dressing because they think it will be hard to do, overly time-consuming, or it won’t be as tasty as their favorite brand. In some cases, that’s true, but I’ve found this awesome recipe for homemade vinaigrette dressing that I’m pretty sure you’ll love! It’s full of healthy and diet-friendly ingredients including olive oil, apple cider vinegar, garlic, and thyme.

Olive Oil

Full of healthy fats and antioxidants, consuming high-quality olive oil can bring many benefits including lowered risk for stroke, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and Type 2 diabetes. It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties and may help fight off some types of cancer. To get the most health benefits, only choose extra virgin olive oil, and opt for first cold pressed whenever possible.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Used to treat common ailments for centuries, apple cider vinegar can help prevent indigestion, settle an upset stomach, and soothe a sore throat. It’s also been shown to aid in weight loss by suppressing your appetite, reducing water retention, and speeding up your metabolism.

Garlic

Rich in antioxidants, garlic can help regulate blood pressure, lower blood sugar levels, and lower cholesterol. It has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties that can help you fight off cold and flu. Believe it or not, garlic is also great for your skin and hair!

Thyme

Thyme is a nutrient-dense spice high in antioxidants and Vitamins A and C. It’s also an excellent source of dietary fiber, iron, manganese, and copper. Thyme’s anti-microbial properties also make it useful as a natural preservative.

Delicious and Filling Salad With Healthy Homemade Dressing

In my opinion, the best salads feature a wide variety of textures and flavors and are filling enough to serve as a meal. My favorite salad includes a variety of dark-leaf lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, red and orange bell peppers, portobello mushrooms, high-quality deli turkey, and shaved parmesan cheese.

It literally takes five minutes to whip up this awesome homemade dressing, and since a couple of tablespoons is plenty for a huge salad, one batch lasts a whole week. Try it once and you won’t be disappointed. Enjoy!

Awesome Homemade Vinaigrette Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup First Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar (I use Bragg Organic Raw Unfiltered)
  • 2 Cloves Pressed or Minced Garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Basil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
  • Freshly Ground Pepper (to taste)

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in a mason jar or BPA-free plastic bottle with a shaker ball.
  • Shake well until thoroughly combined.
  • Taste the dressing and season further if necessary.
  • The batch will store in the fridge for about a week. Shake thoroughly before each use.
  • https://blissquest.net/awesome-and-easy-homemade-salad-dressing/

     

     

    Presence, Personal Journey, Bliss Quest, Yoga Presence, Personal Journey, Bliss Quest, Yoga

    While it’s easy to think the first week of the New Year should start off with a BANG, for me, it’s been more of a trickle. I started off the year with an intention-setting yoga meditation and a day of celebrating with family and friends. I ate too much, imbibed more than I should have, and enjoyed every minute of it. I didn’t worry about the goals I had set. Instead, I focused on the word I had chosen for my intention – PRESENCE.

    I’m realizing that so much of my life is spent trying to squeeze the most out of every waking minute, I’m not giving my full attention to anything. Obsessive multitasking has led to a constant state of stress and an inability to truly connect with the people in my life.

    I wonder what would happen if I slowed down a bit and stopped hiding behind a constant state of “busy”? If I put away my phone, focused on what was happening around me, and made an effort to develop real connections — how would that change my life?

    It would definitely force me out of my comfort zone. I’d also probably make some new friends, find out more about the ones I already have, and maybe even learn some things about myself.

    To make this happen, I’ll need to create a schedule that allows me to focus on the task at hand, without a million distractions. While I’ll keep trying my best to get everything done, there will come a time to decide what’s truly important… and let the rest go.

    What seems so simple has become such a challenge. This goal may be the most difficult yet, but could also be the most life-changing.

    Did you set an intention for the New Year? I’d love to hear about it! Please share in the comments below.

    Life is available only in the present moment. If you abandon the present moment, you cannot live the moments of your daily life deeply.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

     

    Personal Journey, New Years, Weight Loss, Transformation Personal Journey, New Years, Weight Loss, Transformation

    It’s that time of year again. The time when glass-half-full optimists don their rose-colored glasses and create a list of New Year’s resolutions. It’s also the time for realists shake their heads and mutter about the futility of it all. Still others ring in the New Year by simply proclaiming that they’re perfect just the way they are. Although I usually fall solidly into the first camp, this year I needed a bit more inspiration.

    I’ve done the obligatory year-end soul-searching and thought long and hard about what the next year should look like. The end result was the setting of the following three goals:

    • Eliminate clutter and chaos
    • Exercise and eat clean
    • Follow my passion for writing

    If I’m being completely honest, I’m not overly thrilled to get started on the first two goals. I realize a change is necessary, but just don’t feel the drive that keeps you going when you really want to quit. The third goal, however, sparks a passion and intense excitement within me.

    So how am I going to move forward? By combining all three goals into one. That’s where you come in.

    I’m going to pour my heart and soul into my writing and invite you along for the ride. For the next 12 months, I’ll share the ups and downs of my journey as well as any tips and tricks I discover along the way.

    Since I’ve never really done this before, I’m not sure exactly how it will turn out. I’m hoping it might be fun and inspiring. I’m also willing to bet that at times it will be awkward and uncomfortable. The one thing I’m sure of is that it will always be real. So, buckle your seatbelts and let’s get started!

    Clearing the Chaos

    If you know me at all, you’re aware that I’m (ahem) “domestically challenged.” I’m not going to pretend, even for one second, that I’m about to turn into some kind of Martha Stewart. I am, however, going to take some steps to calm the chaos at least a little bit.

    Last year I purchased I course from the website Daily Om called “A Year to Clear What’s Holding You Back.” It’s a program of 365 daily lessons designed to help you explore the mental blocks that lead to physical clutter. It dishes out information in bite-size portions and encourages you to take baby steps towards making a change.

    I started out by excitedly reading each daily lesson, journaling about what it brought up, and taking the recommended steps. My progress was amazing — until day number 23. I have no idea what happened, but I just stopped doing it. Despite receiving an email for the next 342 days, I never went back. Luckily, it’s a lifetime membership, and this time you get to follow along with me.

    Stopping the Sloth

    I’ve been blessed for most of my life with a high metabolism that kept me thin despite horrible eating habits and a virtually non-existent exercise program. At some point, I realized my body wasn’t keeping up as well as it used to, and hopped on the fitness train. I stayed there, obsessively, until finally burning out and throwing myself off. I went back to all of my old habits, which were made worse by the fact that I now spend many more hours a day sitting in front of a computer.

    One of the major problems with falling out of shape is that every time it happens, it’s that much harder to get back on track. Exercises that were once no problem now present a major challenge, and you find yourself craving foods that at one time you would never even consider eating. I hate to admit it, but that’s where I’m at today.

    Lean Body Challenge

    Over the next few weeks, I’ll be easing myself back into a healthier lifestyle: cutting out fast food, drinking the appropriate amount of water, and spending a few days a week at the gym. On January 16th, I’m diving head-first back into the fitness world by competing in the Labrada Lean Body Challenge.

    This 12-week challenge is free to enter and comes with a workout guide, meal plans, and a super-supportive Facebook group. If this sounds appealing, you can register up until January 15th by clicking THIS LINK. I’d love some accountability partners, so if you sign up, please let me know!

    Finding Balance

    In addition to staying motivated, one of the biggest challenges I’ll face will be maintaining a sense of balance. How, exactly, am I supposed to work full time, build a viable writing career, food-prep, exercise, explore my mental demons, and organize my life while not completely sucking as a wife and dog-mom? The answer is, I have no idea! But I’m going to try, and you’re welcome to watch. If nothing else, it’ll be entertaining. Wish me luck, I’m going to need it!

    Have you set goals for the New Year? I’d love to hear about what they are and how you’re planning to keep up with them. Please share your comments below!

    Post thumbnail

    Bliss Quest was born from a vision of creating a community where readers could bond and share their own personal journeys. I know this page would be nothing without you and your opinions really matter to me!

    Would you do me a favor and let me know about your personal Bliss Quest? How can I help? What topics do you want to learn more about? What do YOU want to see on this page? Please take a moment to comment on this page or send me a personal message.

    I know I’ve been away from Bliss Quest for far too long, and I owe you an apology! The past few months have been a whirlwind. Since my last post, I’ve launched my new business and I couldn’t be more excited!

    While I never expected it to be easy, I honestly wasn’t prepared for how difficult it was to maintain physical and mental balance while working around the clock. Every aspect of my life was neglected while I focused all of my attention on this project. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat, but now it’s time to reclaim my life.

    Going forward, my personal Bliss Quest will be focused on getting healthy, decluttering my life, creating balance, and expanding my horizons. I’ll share with you all the awesome things I discover along the way. Stay tuned, you won’t want to miss this!

    You can follow my journey on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. There will be different content on each platform, so feel free to follow all three if you’d like!

    I look forward to connecting with all of you and sharing our journeys together!

    Bliss Quest, Blog Bliss Quest, Blog

    Mother’s Day is right around the corner. Do you already have the perfect day planned, or could you use some inspiration?

    Flowers, candy, and jewelry may seem like the perfect gift for the important Mom in your life, but if you want to knock her socks off it’s time to take a different approach.

    I recently asked hundreds of mothers on Facebook to give some honest feedback about what they would truly like for Mother’s Day. You may be surprised to learn that not a single one mentioned material items. While the answers varied depending on the age of their children, the general consensus is that the best thing you can give a Mom is the gift of time.

    Mothers of young children tend to be exhausted and stressed out. Even though they love their little ones, what they really want most is some time to themselves. They often won’t tell you this because they feel guilty and anxious about leaving their children in someone else’s care. Help mom to comfortably relax by giving her some space and making sure the children are with somebody she trusts.

    When children get older but still live at home, family time and making memories becomes Mom’s top priority. Seeing her children bond and get along with each other is at the top of her wish list. Do your best to help make this happen, at least for the day, by planning a fun family event and asking your children to be on their best behavior.

    As an adult child, understand that what your mother really wants is some one-on-one time with you. She knows you are busy and doesn’t want to be a bother. Make the day special by taking the time to visit for at least a couple of hours. If distance doesn’t allow for a visit, then a long phone call will suffice. Block off some time and give her your undivided attention until she’s ready to hang up. It will mean more to her than any gift you could send.

    The moral of the story? If you really want to shine this year, put away your credit card and pull out your calendar.

    Need some more specific ideas? Here are a few to get you started:

    Give Mom a Break

    Help Mom to enjoy some time away from the day-to-day drudgery. Let her relax while you take care of the cooking, cleaning, and laundry. If you have the money, splurge on a housekeeper, meal delivery, or nanny service. Even a day or two of extra help can make a world of difference to an over-worked mother.

    Create Guilt-Free Quiet Time

    Take the kids to the park or a movie and let Mom enjoy a few hours alone. Some Moms want to do something special like a spa day or lunch with the girls. Others would prefer to chill on the couch with Netflix and take-out. There is no wrong answer here, so just let her do her thing.

    Give a Gift That Keeps on Giving

    Plan a photo shoot with siblings and surprise Mom with a beautifully framed family picture. Plant a tree in in her yard or bring over an easy-to-care-for houseplant. She will appreciate having something in her home that will last a lifetime and will love being reminded of you every time she looks at it.

    Make a Keepsake

    Help younger children to create special projects or homemade cards. Older children can write down some of their favorite family memories and create a memorable keepsake book. Gifts that come from the heart are always the best, and Mom will cherish them for years to come.

    Let Her Sleep

    Mothers with young children are chronically sleep-deprived. Help her catch some zzz’s by hiring an overnight babysitter or sending the kids to spend the night with a trusted friend or family member. Having a champagne brunch ready when she wakes up won’t lose you any points either.

    Every Mom is different, so use your judgment when deciding on the ideal gift. Hopefully these ideas give you some inspiration to plan your own perfect day.

    Do you have an awesome suggestion that I might have missed? I would love to hear your comments!

    Bliss Quest, Blog, Earth Day Bliss Quest, Blog, Earth Day

    This Saturday, April 22nd, people around the globe will unite to celebrate Earth Day. The tradition dates back to 1970 when the first Earth Day was observed in America with massive demonstrations and rallies across the country. It is now the world’s largest secular observance with more than one billion people participating annually.

    If you’re like me, you probably like the idea of Earth Day, but haven’t really put much thought into participating. You may think you will have to spend a ton of money or turn into a tree-hugging hippie to contribute to the cause. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, you may be surprised to learn how a few simple changes can have a huge impact on the health of our planet. Here are 50 simple (and fun) ideas to help you celebrate Earth Day:

    1. Plant a tree
    2. Build a flower bed
    3. Grow your own herbs
    4. Join a Farm Share
    5. Visit the Farmer’s Market
    6. Take a walk
    7. Go kayaking
    8. Ride your bike
    9. Unsubscribe from junk mail
    10. Switch to energy-efficient lightbulbs
    11. Install a programmable thermostat
    12. Reduce the temperature on your hot water heater
    13. Buy a solar-powered phone charger
    14. Unplug the TV and other non-essential appliances
    15. Buy a reusable water bottle
    16. Switch to non-toxic cleaning products
    17. Skip the meat, at least for one day
    18. Start using reusable grocery bags
    19. Track your online energy usage
    20. Start a recycling drive
    21. Fix leaky faucets
    22. Use a timer to shorten shower time
    23. Start a compost pile
    24. Pick up litter
    25. Use rechargeable batteries
    26. Put up a birdhouse or feeder
    27. Join a carpool
    28. Switch to e-bills and online invoices
    29. Email your state or local representative about an environmental issue
    30. Buy a tree certificate
    31. Walk barefoot in the grass
    32. Visit your local library
    33. Plan a DIY upcycling project
    34. Skip the electronics and plan a family game night
    35. Save water by using dry shampoo
    36. Change your air filters
    37. Reuse bath towels
    38. Turn on the fan or open windows instead of using air conditioning
    39. Wear a sweater instead of turning on the heat
    40. Check your tire pressure
    41. Bring a plant to work
    42. Think twice before printing emails
    43. Watch a documentary
    44. Replace paper towels with hand towels
    45. Buy a low-flow shower head
    46. Clean out your closet and recycle or donate unwanted items
    47. Use solar landscape lighting
    48. Install dimmer switches and motion sensors
    49. Join a community swap or sharing group
    50. Share this list with friends and family

    Celebrating Earth Day is a great way to raise awareness, but it shouldn’t stop there.  Reread this list, choose a few action items that you can implement today, and then commit to one or two for the rest of the year.  These changes will soon become second-nature and you will wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.  It feels great to be a respectful citizen of the planet, and Mother Earth will thank you.

    Are you doing something special for Earth Day?  Please share your thoughts!

    Bliss Quest, Blog, Healthy Eating Bliss Quest, Blog, Healthy Eating

    You’ve taken a major first step in improving your life by focusing on your health and recognizing the need to clean up your eating habits. You enthusiastically head to the grocery store and load up your cart with nutritious foods, but your euphoria quickly fades at the check-out counter when you are smacked in the face with a bill that’s three times what you expected.

    Sound familiar?

    Nothing can derail your good intentions quite like a healthy dose of reality. If you are feeling frustrated, defeated, and wondering why the heck it’s so expensive to eat healthy foods, this article is for you. Before you completely give up and hit the dollar menu, consider that there is some truth to the cliché

    You Are What You Eat 

    Did you know that the cells in your body are constantly dying off and being replaced? Skin cells regenerate every few weeks while the cells in the small intestine typically only survive for a few days. The vitamins and minerals in the foods that you eat provide the building materials the body needs to keep you looking and feeling great.

    I’m a strong believer in choosing the highest-quality foods you can afford, even if it means sacrificing in other areas of your budget. I also understand that there are times when your dollar simply doesn’t stretch far enough and you have to cut corners.These ten tips will make food shopping less stressful and help you eat in a way that is good for both your wallet and your waistline.

    Go to the Source

    Try to purchase as many items as possible from your local farmer’s market, community farm, or roadside stands. It’s likely to be less expensive, your produce will be fresh, and it feels good to support your local farmer instead of a big-box grocery store.

    Freeze Your Meats

    Grocery stores typically rotate the types of meat that they have on sale. When there is a discount on something you enjoy eating, buy as much as you can afford and save it for later. For a quick and easy dinner solution, put chicken breasts or pork medallions in a freezer bag with your favorite marinade. As soon as it thaws it will be perfectly marinated and ready to toss on the grill. Check out some other make-ahead freezer meals that will save you money and make dinnertime a snap.

    Do It Yourself

    Convenience items like bagged salad mix and pre-chopped vegetables are big contributors to the sticker-shock you feel at the check-out line.  Choosing foods that are as close as possible to their natural state will ensure that you are getting the most nutritional value for your dollar. Set aside some time to do your own food prep and try to avoid foods that use packaging or need a label.

    Pack your lunch

    If you are eating out at a restaurant or drive-thru more than once a week, it’s going to significantly impact your food budget. If you spend $10 a day, 5 days a week, that adds up to $200 a month!  When you start packing your lunch, avoid purchasing “snack-sized” foods. You will get a much better value when you purchase regular or family-sized sized items and portion it out yourself.

    Choose Inexpensive Proteins

    It’s a good idea to include a protein source in every meal. Protein is essential for your physical health and helps you feel full longer. If you are watching your budget, save the steak and lobster for a special occasion. Instead, opt for some of these budget-friendly proteins:

    • Eggs
    • Canned Tuna
    • Ground Meats (Beef, Turkey, Chicken)
    • Cottage Cheese
    • Peanut Butter
    • Beans and Lentils

    Skip the Brand Names

    Higher prices do not necessarily mean better quality. When it comes to grocery items, generic and private-label (store brand) products are often just as good as their brand name counterparts. Some stores even offer a refund if you try their brand and are unsatisfied. Take the chance and you may be pleasantly surprised.

    Buy Bulk Foods

    When I was a child, almost every grocery store had a bulk-food area that allowed consumers to purchase as much or as little as was needed. I loved being able to wander around, peering into the barrels at all the exotic-looking foods. Little did I know, buying bulk is also an extremely cost-effective way to shop. Although bulk foods sections are not as common as they once were, some grocery retailers and many health food stores still have them. Grains, nuts, flour, beans, and dried fruits are a few of the best items that to buy in bulk.

    Shop in Season

    To save money and get the freshest produce possible, familiarize yourself with the growing seasons. Choose fruits and vegetables that are naturally ripe instead of importing produce from far-away lands. This will also help out the planet by reducing your carbon footprint.

    Avoid Impulse Buys

    Many of these points are common knowledge but they bear repeating:

    • Go to the store with a list and stick to it.
    • Don’t grocery shop when you are hungry.
    • Leave your kids (and maybe also your significant other) at home.
    • Avoid grabbing things from the end of aisles, display areas, and check-out lines.

    Grocery stores strategically place impulse items where you are most likely to pick them up without giving it a second thought. Don’t fall into their trap!

    Stop Wasting Food

    If you frequently toss out food that has gone bad, you may as well be throwing your hard-earned money in the garbage along with it. Plan out your meals, incorporate leftovers, and make sure that the whole family knows what’s on the menu. Keeping your refrigerator clean and organized will help ensure that nothing is inadvertently left to rot. To further minimize food waste, designate at least one day a week to eat nothing but leftovers.

    Remember that eating well is a cornerstone of living well. With a little practice, it’s easy to stretch your grocery dollar. Do you have any tips for eating well on a budget? I’d love to hear your feedback!

    Bliss Quest, Blog, Balance Bliss Quest, Blog, Balance

    I’ve been doing some serious soul-searching and have decided to take on what may be the biggest and scariest project of my lifetime. I’m not ready to share the details yet, but I’ve literally been pouring my heart, soul, and every second of spare time into turning this dream into my reality. This means I’m also facing the new challenge of trying to balance my burning desire to work around the clock with the equally important goal of staying healthy and sane.

    It’s easy to start making excuses when you are focused on more than one primary goal. You know that you should go home for lunch and eat the salad that you prepared, but you can get more work done if you just run over to the café next door. You said that you were going to hit the gym after work, but you really want to start on the next phase of your project. Before you know it, you’ve sabotaged all your hard work and are left feeling frustrated and defeated.

    As I sit here with my coffee reflecting on the ups and downs of the past week, I realize that I have already unconsciously implemented some coping methods to keep me on track. In an attempt to turn every challenge into a learning experience, I’ve created this list of five tips to help you stay motivated when you start to lose your focus.

    Decide What’s Important, and Make It Happen

    For each goal that you’ve set, determine the most important tasks that need to be completed for the week. Break them down day by day. Take a good look at your calendar and schedule accordingly. Decide what tasks need to be a priority and make sure they happen.

    Consider this example: Weekly food prep typically takes about two hours. Even if it means stepping away from your work, getting it done means you will have healthy food ready at a moment’s notice for the rest of the week. This trade-off is certainly worth it when you consider the potential drawbacks of failing to make it happen. Your body and your wallet will both thank you and healthy meals will give you the fuel you need to power through those late-night and early morning work sessions.

    Multitask with a Purpose

    I’m usually an advocate for slowing down and completing one task at a time, but there are times that multitasking can be extremely beneficial. Consider downloading audio books or podcasts and listening to them on your morning commute or while you fold laundry. When you feel like you need some background noise, skip the most recent episode of Grey’s Anatomy and opt for an educational YouTube channel instead.

    My personal favorite way to multitask with a purpose is to take long walks with a good friend who is working on a similar project. This allows us to get some exercise and enjoy the beautiful weather while discussing business plans and brainstorming ideas. Knowing that somebody is waiting for you helps keep you accountable and multitasking means that it will never feel like a waste of time.

    Stay Connected to Your “Why”

    Perhaps the most important way to stay motivated is to remain viscerally connected to your reasons for wanting to achieve your goal. Visualize what a day in your life looks like once you have reached your destination. Write it down, using the present tense. Be as detailed as possible and create a true emotional connection to your “why.” Read your vision out loud at least once a day or any time that your resolve starts to waver.

    Link Old Habits to New Ones

    Making a lifestyle change is often centered around creating positive habits that support your goal. Consider the habit you are trying to create and see if you can link it to something that you already do. I’m notorious for having to rush to make it to work on time, regardless of how early I wake up. I inevitably get sidetracked with one thing or another and don’t start getting ready until the absolute last possible second. This often results in my having to cut non-critical things out of my morning routine, including eating a healthy breakfast and packing my lunch.

    I’ve combatted this by creating a “rule” for myself that I will make a smoothie and pack my lunch (new habit) before I put on my makeup (old habit) each morning. Since I never go to work without makeup, I’ve now ensured that my new habit is completed every day without excuse.

    Let Go of The Things That Longer Serves You

    When you are working hard on achieving multiple goals, it’s likely that something will eventually have to give. There are only so many hours in the day, which means you must prioritize your time. We all have time-suckers in our lives that we probably don’t even think about.

    Before you decide to binge-watch a series on Netflix or get sucked into the black hole of Facebook-land, decide if these things are helping you reach your goals. Are they really worthy of your time? While it’s nice to kick back and relax sometimes, remember that once an hour of your life is gone you will never get it back.

    In the long run, you won’t regret choosing wisely. If you feel like you need a break, set a limit on the amount of time you will allow yourself to be non-productive and stick to it. The more often you make conscious decisions regarding your time, the easier this will become.

    Making real, lasting change is almost never easy but always worth it. Creating a solid emotional connection with your vision will give you the power to start saying no to your excuses and to recognize the true value of your time. Before you know it, you will be more productive than you ever dreamed possible and all of your goals will be firmly within your reach.