Blueberry Crumble Protein Smoothie

Blueberry Crumble Protein Smoothie

My latest obsession… healthy, delicious, and satisfies my dessert cravings!

I dislike protein powder.  I can usually taste the chalkiness, the artificial flavor, and the strange texture.  I’ve tried it multiple times in multiple forms, and eventually gave up on it because I couldn’t stand the taste.  I have a large bag of protein powder in my pantry that I just didn’t want to throw away, but it literally just sits there taking up space.

Well, thanks to Anna G. from Breakthru Fitness, I have been introduced to her newest concoction – the Blueberry Crumble.  It is SO GOOD.  So good that when I am doing an intense workout like Peak 10, I dream about the Blueberry Crumble and use it as motivation to work harder.  So good that when I’m drinking it, I can’t stop even though I’d like to save half for later (which I never do).  So good that when I finish drinking it, I am actually very very sad, maybe depressed even.  So good that I look forward to having one every single day.  Yum (as I finish my last sip of today’s allotment).  Sigh.

Thank you Anna, for sharing this wonderful recipe with me and for changing my view on protein powder tasting good.  Now I can actually follow up my workouts with a healthy, protein-packed drink that I absolutely love love love.  Hope you guys love it like I do!!!

Blueberry Crumble Protein Smoothie

Ingredients

* 6 ounce Almond Milk (I use Trader Joe’s Vanilla Unsweetened)

* 3/4 tablespoon Almond Butter (I use Trader Joe’s Raw Crunchy Unsalted)

* 1 scoop Whey Protein Powder (I use GNC and get the vanilla flavor)

* 1 scoop Granola (I use Trader Joe’s Lowfat Granola with Almonds)

* 1/3 cup fresh Blueberries

* 1 cup ice

Directions

Toss all the ingredients into a blender.  Pour into a large cup and I dare you to only drink half =)

Serving Size: A delicious 16 ounce smoothie.

Calories: 311

(or you can make a 12 ounce smoothie with only 241 calories using 4 ounces of Almond Milk, 1/2 tablespoon Almond Butter, 1 scoop Whey protein, 1/5 cup Granola, 1/4 cup Blueberries, and 3/4 cup ice)

5 Ways to Stay Healthy at 94 Years Old

Staying Healthy at 94 Years

Being thankful for a beautiful and healthy 94 year old great-grandmother!

Today, my grandmother turned 94 years young.  And the amazing thing is that she is still the same Nai Nai I remember as a child – independent, thoughtful, active, energetic, and passionate.  How is she still just as healthy now as she was 30 years ago? 

Here are 5 ways to stay healthy that we can learn from my grandmother:

1) Learn to Cook

To this day, every time I see my Nai Nai, I am greeted with a ridiculous amount of home-cooked food stored in various plastic containers (see #3 below), including a huge tub of Almond Jello because she knows I love and will eat the entire thing.  My Nai Nai loves to cook and besides her thoughtfulness to give away food to others, there are actually a lot of side-benefits to cooking regularly, some of which include:

– being able to take care of yourself and your own meals

– eating healthier because you know exactly what ingredients are in your dishes

– building muscle strength (some of the pots are really heavy – no joke!)

– and stimulating your mind by reading recipes, measuring food, or remembering the steps to make a dish

2) Stay Social

My Nai Nai lives in a senior community center where she takes care of herself and her own apartment, but there are friends nearby and activities to participate in.  Almost every day she has some social engagement where she and her friends go on a field trip somewhere or they are taking a class together or they are just sharing a meal together and gossiping!  Staying social prevents us from being too isolated and lonely.

3) Express Yourself

Anyone who knows my Nai Nai knows that she has a very strong opinion about everything.  She knows exactly what she wants.  What matters here is that she cares.  If we stop caring and become apathetic about everything, then we lose that spark, that passion, that should be inspiring us everyday.  Here are some specific examples of what my Nai Nai cares about:

The U.S. Citizenship Test: My Nai Nai came from China in the 80’s to live in the United States.  She speaks very limited English.  And yet, 10 years after immigrating to the U.S., she decided she wanted to take the U.S. Citizenship test.  She spent months listening to a tape recording of questions and answers, memorized it all, and PASSED the test.  That’s determination, considering she really can’t carry a conversation in English, at all.

Re-using Please: Remember in #1 above I mentioned the various plastic containers that my food was stored in?  Well, my Nai Nai is the queen of re-using.  Containers from the grocery store get re-used (think round margarine tub).  Wrapping paper from birthdays and Christmas exchanges get re-used.  Yes, we all open wrapping papers slowly and carefully.  Presents she received from others get sent to you.  Re-use.

Dress to Impress: At 94 years old, my Nai Nai is one stylish lady.  Not only does she continue to take care of her skin every night, style her hair, wear make-up, and coordinate her outfits to match her jewelry, but also she loves her shoes!  You will never catch her in any flats.  Despite already having several falls in the past couple years (including stitches a month ago!!!), my Nai Nai will forever be wearing her heels (fortunately less than 2 inches!). 

4) Exercise Everyday

Of course my Nai Nai came from a different generation where she never needed a car, and therefore never learned how to drive.  Moving to the U.S. was a challenge because everything is very spread apart and transportation is essential.  Fortunately, my father lives close to my Nai Nai and frequently drives her to places that are a bit farther like a doctor’s appointment or her weekly grocery runs.  However, on a day to day basis, my Nai Nai exercises by walking around the neighborhood by herself (though we aren’t so fond of that), walking to the CVS a few blocks away, or walking to the In N Out because for some strange reason she loves their burgers….. I am sure if the rest of us did not have the luxury of relying on our personal cars, we would all be much, much healthier!

5) Believe in Something

Simply put, get in touch with your spiritual health.  My Nai Nai is a strong Christian and she has her weekly church services and fellowship that she attends (and takes the bus to), and on a daily basis, she prays.  Not only do we need to be physically and mentally strong, but also we need to be spiritually strong too.

*****

We have a lot to learn from the people around us.  Today, I am unable to physically celebrate with my Nai Nai in person because I live far away, but I am celebrating right now her presence and influence in my life, and now in my daughter’s life too.  We may not all be meant to live 94 years, but we all are meant to find purpose and passion in our lives every single day!

Happy 94th Birthday Nai Nai!

Have An Open Mind

Have An Open Mind

Have an open mind and see the world differently.

You know that feeling when you get ready to take a class from your favorite instructor, and instead you find out at the last minute it’s a substitute?  Yes, it is disappointing and trust me, I’ve been there.  But how many of you actually turn around and walk away?  Maybe you have a valid reason, the only reason being – you’ve taken classes from the substitute before and you know it doesn’t fit your style.  However, if you have never tried taking a class from that substitute before, why not give him or her a chance?

Or here’s another scenario: You’ve worked really hard on something new, like a project at work, a new class format, or maybe just a new recipe, and then you share it with your colleague, your students, or your family, and the response you get is more negative than positive.  Do you tend to react defensively when that happens?  Or maybe you shut down and withdraw?  Although the response you received was not what you hoped for, do you allow others to give you constructive feedback, even if that means you need to put in extra work or start over from square one?

When faced with unexpected outcomes such as the examples above, take a moment to bring awareness to your own tendencies, and then try to have an open mind.  Take that class from the substitute instructor, or honestly listen to the constructive feedback from your peers.  Can we perhaps be open to receiving a whole new experience that might, just might, pleasantly surprise us?

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It’s essential to keep an open mind, and to be willing – better yet, eager – to try new things.

– Michael Abrash

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You have a choice every moment of the day to open yourself up.  And when you do that, it opens the channels of love.

– Laura Belman

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Yoga is about clearing away whatever is in us that prevents our living in the most full and whole way.  With yoga, we come aware of how and where we are restricted – in body, mind, and heart – and how gradually to open and release these blockages.  As these blockages are cleared, our energy is freed.  We start to feel more harmonious, more at one with ourselves.  Our lives begin to flow – or we begin to flow more in our lives.

– Cybele Tomlinson

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The most complete and true happiness comes in moments when you feel right there, completely present, with no ideas about good and bad, right and wrong – just a sense of open heart and open mind.

– Pema Chodon

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The world is full of people who have never, since childhood, met an open doorway with an open mind.

– E.B. White

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Flexibility requires an open mind and a welcoming of new alternatives.

– Deborah Day

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You don’t have to say anything.  You don’t have to teach anything.  You just have to be who you are: a bright flame shining in the darkness of despair, a shining example of a person able to cross bridges by opening your heart and mind.

– Tsoknyi Rinpoche

Dear Mom

Dear Mom Letter Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day to the most positive and patient person I know.

Dear Mom,

I know I am far away this year and I am sorry I cannot be there to celebrate your special day today, a day that should be celebrated everyday because you deserve it.  All I can do then is write you this letter, to say sorry for all the years I didn’t write a letter to tell you thank you, and all the years that I took your presence in my life for granted.  Now that I am a mom, I am quickly understanding how difficult it is to be as patient and selfless as you have been towards me all my life.  Here are a few apologies I would like to make to you…

In my childhood years, you always told me that I was a little bit too eager to climb every possible structure in sight and I am sorry for causing you to have a heart-attack each time.  I am sorry if I ever pushed you away and did not give you a hug when you asked for one.  I am sorry for not practicing piano enough when I should have and making you extremely nervous during piano recitals.

In my teen years, I was extremely confused and selfish.  I am sorry for not communicating and sharing more of my life with you.  I am sorry for not helping you more around the house with chores.  I am sorry that I did not say thank you for always having food prepared in the refrigerator.

In my twenties, I moved back home after college and you opened up your home to me, once again.  I am sorry for cluttering your clean and organized home with a lot of my stuff, even to this day.  I am sorry for probably causing you carpal tunnel syndrome to help me with my ridiculous craft projects – from hand-making programs, invitations, etc. for my 400-person wedding, to keeping you up past your bedtime to finish last-minute Christmas cards for 200 ex-students.  I am sorry I didn’t organize a special Mother’s Day celebration for you each year.

Now in my thirties, I realize I still make the same mistakes.  I still give you heart-attacks when I drive 5 hours home at midnight or decide to do extreme activities like skydiving.  I should be the one picking up groceries for you and cooking you dinner and washing the dishes, but now you’re not only cooking for me, but my husband and daughter too.  My “stuff” is still occupying your house, and an entire space in your garage.

“I’m sorry” will never be enough.  “Thank you” will never be enough.  But at least now, know that you can ask for a hug and I will happily give you one.  Know that you can call me anytime and I will eagerly share what is going on in my life.  Know that I will organize something special for you every Mother’s Day from now on.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom and I love you.

(BTW, I’m working on the get-rid-of-my-stuff-in-your-house issue…)

How To Be A Great Mentor

Michelle Dozois A Great Mentor

My amazing fitness mentor, Michelle Dozois.

Once in a rare while, you become fortunate enough to meet someone that takes you under his or her wing and helps you fly.

Less than a year ago, I moved to Pasadena, CA searching for a part-time job teaching fitness classes.  All the jobs I applied to online never responded back to me, and other places just didn’t have any available openings.  When I walked into Breakthru Fitness to ask about job opportunities, it just so happened that Michelle Dozois, the co-owner of Breakthru (with her husband, Phil Dozois), was available to talk on the spot.  Michelle came out to greet me, and she immediately struck me as a super positive, friendly, and enthusiastic individual.  After glancing at my resume, she was ready to set me up for a “try-out” one-on-one.  From there, I started happily teaching a few classes, not expecting anything more.

What makes my experience different is that Michelle saw a greater potential in me.  She immediately recruited me to assist in her signature Peak 10 classes, and soon after gave me a chance to help her with choreography.  All this has led me to the present day, where I never would have imagined having the privilege of filming several DVD’s or officially being an assistant choreographer for somebody!  For those of you that know me really well, this is a perfect job for me, huh???

I’ve learned so much from Michelle from a fitness industry standpoint, but also as an incredible mentor.  One day I hope I will have the opportunity to be an impromptu mentor to someone else, and help them grow into something they never could have predicted.

Here Are 10 Ways To Be A Great Mentor

1) Be Genuinely Enthusiastic

It all starts with the mentor’s attitude and the mentee follows the lead.  Mentors can’t positively influence someone if it is even slightly noticeable that they are disengaged or uninterested.  Michelle’s personality is contagious, which is probably why she is such a successful figure in the fitness industry. 

2) Find a Connection

Mentors look beyond the resume, the small talk, and the work-at-hand, and find some similarity with one another, i.e. hobbies, family, interests, etc.  Michelle and I were both ex-cheerleaders, ex-gymnasts, and ex-dancers so we really spoke the same language from day one.

3) Build Confidence

Mentors focus on bringing out the mentee’s strengths, encouraging him or her to do whatever they are best at, even during negative situations.  Initially one of my new class formats I taught was not pulling in enough attendance.  Instead of just cancelling the class, Michelle guided me to choose another format I was more comfortable teaching.

4) Take One Step At a Time

Set and establish long-term goals and then help the mentee grow by adding small challenges or new tasks.  Mentors make sure each new task is realistic and achievable, not asking the mentee to grow from A to Z at once.  Michelle started by having me just participate in her Peak 10 classes to experience the program.  Then I started assisting the instructors while they taught classes.  Now I help to choreograph the routines.

5) Guide Vs. Micromanage

Mentors should not try to clone themselves.  Leave room for mentees to have some creativity, flexibility, or add their own personality into the work-at-hand.  When I choreograph for Michelle, she gives me a little bit of direction for what the piece should accomplish, ie. stretching, upper body strength, core work, etc., but otherwise I start with a pretty clean slate and just make up any moves I feel would work.

6) Give Constructive Criticism

Mentors should provide feedback, both positive and negative, so that mentees know what they are doing right and how to improve.  Negative feedback should be constructive and mentors should provide specific examples to fix the problems.  Choreography is a multiple-draft process.  After I finish choreographing, Michelle and I review it together and she tells me which parts will work and which ones won’t.  We work together to come up with movements that might work better.  This process continues several times until the piece is finally perfected.

7) Share Your Experiences

There is so much to learn from YOU.  Share your story, your challenges, your failures, your successes, and your life, so long as it is appropriate for the mentee to learn from.  Mentees will be thankful for your honesty and openness.  I really appreciate that Michelle isn’t always work work work and takes time to share some of the struggles she goes through.

8) Show Recognition

Doesn’t everyone want to feel appreciated?  Mentors should praise and reward mentees whenever appropriate, whether it is through compliments, bonuses, or surprises.  One time Michelle and I were scheduled to meet together to videotape some choreography, but at the last minute she couldn’t make it and I filmed it by myself.  Afterwards, Michelle unexpectedly offered to pay for 10 sessions of childcare as a way to say thank you.  Wow!

9) Send Recommendations

Look out for opportunities that mentees would benefit from without expecting anything in return.  I am grateful that Michelle forwards different fitness jobs to me and she always puts in a good word. 

10) Keep Your Heart Open

Mentors don’t always have to be the teacher.  Allow yourself to be open to learning something new from your experience with your mentee.  When mentors and mentees learn to work together harmoniously, both parties benefit!  Although I feel like I benefit primarily from our relationship together, Michelle has expressed that she appreciates the time saved from having someone else help with choreography.

It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.  – Napoleon Hill

Easy Scallops With Spinach and Zucchini

Easy Scallops With Spinach and Zucchini

Healthy, delicious, and easy to make scallop dinner.

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Easy Scallops With Spinach and Zucchini

I am not a fancy chef by any means but somehow you add scallops in your recipe, and it just feels like you’re a fancy chef.  And that’s a good feeling when most of the time, I think my cooking is rather average.  This dish is super easy and fast to make, not to mention it is healthy!  Did you know that 3 scallops is only 100 calories???  Score!

Ingredients

* 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil or Cooking Oil

* 2 Garlic Cloves

* 1 Pound Baby Spinach

* 1 Pound Zucchini (about 4 medium)

* 1 Tablespoon Butter

* 6-8 Costco Frozen Jumbo Scallops (of course you can buy fresh ones, but these frozen ones are convenient to have on hand and are still tasty!)

* salt, seasoning salt, and pepper to taste

Serving Size: 2

Directions

1) Defrost the scallops in a bowl of cold water.  Replace the water every 2-3 minutes for about 7-8 minutes.  When the scallops are defrosted, remove them from the water and place them on a dry paper towel.  Pat the scallops dry.

2) While the scallops are defrosting, start peeling the zucchini and cut into thin, round slices.  Set aside.

3) Mince the garlic cloves and set aside.

4) Heat a large pan or wok on medium-high heat and add 1 Tablespoon oil.  Wait about 30 seconds for the oil to heat up.

5) Add the zucchini slices and saute for about 7 minutes or until soft but not soggy.  Add salt to taste.  Remove zucchini into a bowl and set aside.

6) Add the other Tablespoon of oil into the same pan and the minced garlic.  Saute about 15 seconds, then add the spinach leaves and saute for 4-5 minutes or until juices start to come out.  Add salt to taste then turn off heat.

7) Remove half the spinach leaves into the center of a serving plate/bowl.  Arrange zucchini slices around the spinach for a nice optional presentation.

8) Turn stove to medium-high heat again and add 1 Tablespoon of butter, letting it melt evenly around the pan.

9) Carefully place each scallop on the wok, making sure that the scallops are not touching each other and you do not touch the scallop after you put it down.  Let it sit for 2 1/2 minutes.

10) Use tongs to gently turn over each scallop, again not touching or moving other scallops.  Cook for another 2 minutes as you add a pinch of seasoning salt and a generous amount of pepper on each individual scallop.   Do not overcook the scallops – they should be on the stove for no more than 5 minutes!

11) Remove scallops and place them on top of the bed of spinach leaves.   Enjoy right away!