What You Gain As a Minimalist

Original Image by James Joel via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Minimalism hasn’t been about living with as little as possible, at least in my life. It’s been about removing the extraneous, so that the essential things have space to live. -Leo Babauta

When you spend less time at Home Depot trying unsuccessfully to keep up with the Joneses, you create an opening to do the things you love, things that you never seem to have time for.

Everyone is always saying they don’t have enough time, but how many people really stop and look at what they are spending their time doing? You could be enjoying a day with your kids, hitting up the gym, practicing yoga, reading a good book or traveling. Whatever it is that you love you could be doing, but instead you are stuck at Sears shopping for more stuff.

  • Less stuff = a greener planet. The fewer things you buy, the better for the environment. Rampant consumption is a terrible waste of the Earth’s natural resources.

Sources: http://chemistry.umeche.maine.edu/CHY431/Basics/PurPyrm.html

The Powerful Benefits of Minimalism and Living With Less: 11 Experts Speak Out

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How Being a Yelp Reviewer as Made Me Ask More Questions and Connect with Servers

By: Nikki Nies

Last night, my roommate and I went to Sushi Star in North Dallas as our last meal together before we part ways. While we’ve lived together for the past year, this was our first meal out together. We’ve done tons of cooking in the home together or take out, but when I thought about it, it was crazy to think this was our first time breaking bread together. It made me realize how much one can learn about another just by dining out.

What do I mean exactly? I warned my roommate that I tend to ask questions when dining out, it’s rarely a quick exchange of ordering. Thankfully, she was fine with that. Over the years, I’ve learned to ask questions, not only for clarification of what menu descriptions are, but to discern what to order if it’s between two menu items.

Someone ordered a beer or maybe two
Original Image by Susanne Nilsson via Flickr

For example, we were debating on either getting the salmon or crabmeat sushi tower. After learning about the nutritional difference between imitation and real crabmeat, I make every effort to eat only real crab meat. Since the menu didn’t detail which type of crabmeat was used, I asked! I’m glad I did, as the restaurant uses imitation crabmeat.  After a few more exchanges, we didn’t end up getting either tower as I was drawn to the tower due to aesthetic look of it. I’m glad I asked more questions (e.g. how much food is it) as I would’ve been underwhelmed with the tower dish. I hope servers can see my genuine interest in understanding what’s been served and recognize I understand there’s only so much space on menus for descriptions.

Of course, there’s always a polite way to ask menu questions. I try to only ask the ‘necessary’ questions and take the suggestions, such as ‘What do you recommend?’ as they should know the menu quite well. When dining out, I try to order foods I wouldn’t necessarily make at home. I don’t mind spending a few more pennies for the ‘seafood’ version of  a meal, as I’m grateful someone else is taking the extra steps to cook the lobster or steam the mussels.

Hopefully, you can relate to my inquiries. I’m sure you’ve seen some menus state subsitutions aren’t allowed. Politely, if it’s not too busy of dining time or you can sense they’d be open to substitutions  (e.g. a local, fresh restaurant). Most servers want to accomodate requests, especially dietary restrictions, but don’t want to be bombarded with elaborate changes.  Many restauranteurs are happy to make accomodations if the dishes are made to order and again if you ask politely. While I believer it’s a minor request, I always ask with a smile if they can hold the mayo or sour cream. I urge you to ask for substitutions whether it’s listed or not. Many patrons are fine with [sweet potato] french fries as the generic accompaniments, but I never opt for that. I know I have to make a more concerted effort to obtain my allotted fruits and veggies for the day, so I’m willing to pay the extra couple dollars to do so.

I hope from the above suggestions, you can tell I enjoy the whole dining experience and appreciate any and all suggestions servers make. I want to use all my senses and take advantage of their knowledge of the dishes. Most recently, I’ve started writing restaurant reviews on yelp.com, which has elevated my dining experience. I want to be able to articulate better how a meal was, better than stating ‘It was good.’ While critics may say some of the reviews on yelp aren’t written by real people, I’ve used yelp religiously to pick out great restaurants and I want to do my part to help direct people to great restaurants, food and service.

Are you an avid yelp user? Do you write or read reviews regularly? How has asking your server questions shaped your dining experience?

Sources: https://www.rewardsnetwork.com/blog/questions-every-restaurant-server-know-answer/

Get Inspired with ‘From Fat to Finish Line’

Original Image by From Fat to Finish

By: Nikki Nies

Wanting to jumpstart your health regime, but seeking a team of encouragement and accountability to help? ‘From Fat to Finish’ may be the community you’ve been waiting for! Through this community

‘…of dedicated runners with one goal, to help each other.’

you are not only given a real time, virtual community of people that are working towards their own fitness goals,  but ‘challenges’ that can keep the tasks exciting and twists to up the ante and find local events to get to know your fellow runners. Besides, you never know how you can be an inspiration to others by sharing your story too!

Therefore, whether you’re just getting back into walking a few blocks a day or training for your ‘nth marathon, From Fat to Finish can meet you anywhere you are during your journey!

Needing a bit more inspiration? Check out the 2015 documentary directed by Angela Lee that walks through 12 runner’s experience with 200 mile race from Miami to Key West Florida while losing over 1200 pounds!  Initially, many of the runners dealt with Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and other by products of obesity, but through the use of digital community and working together to meet their goal of shedding pounds to run the race, they once again proved that if you set your mind to it, it can happen! One pound at a time! Get your copy today via rent, download or purchase!

Learn more about how you can join the community and get moving today! Site | Blog | Twitter | Facebook Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Youtube 

Sources: http://www.fattofinish.com/


Why and How to Add Cold Brew To the Mix!

Original Image by Nina Nelson via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

I hope you enjoyed a coffee or two yesterday during #NationalCoffeeDay! I sure did! Is it just me or did the concept of cold brew coffee come out of no where? Not only is it all the craze at mainstream Starbucks, but local coffee shops seem to be popping up with the concept too. Perhaps, I’m late to the ballgame, but it’s evident this type of coffee is here to stay and I need to better understand not only the process, but the hows and whys.

Those new to the cold brew game may mistake it for the traditional iced coffee, but there is a difference! While iced coffee is made with hot brewed coffee’s that been cooled down, traditional cold brew coffee has been steeped in room temperature or chilled water, with the coffee infusing throughout the mixture over time. Fans of cold brew describe it as having a more mellow, less acidic taste, which is better for you teeth and those with heartburn may find cold brew options easier to digest.

Cold brew requires twice as much ground coffee to obtain the right flavor and caffeine, requiring shops to charge more for the extra labor and brew.  Yes, the first cold brew apparatus was created in 1964, but until the last couple of years, it’s been a niche or true coffee lover’s dream. While studies of cold brew’s benefits are still thimble, health claims state it contains less caffeine than iced and/or hot counterparts. When researchers used Starbucks’ regular coffee blend, the cold brew was found to have 40 mg of caffeine per 100 g while store brewed Starbucks coffee had 61 per 100 g. Why might you want to limit your caffeine intake you ask? According to the National Institutes of Health, large amounts can be a hindrance to women and children and lead to osteoporosis of fibrocystic disease.

Gone are the days where the barista asks if you want iced or hot coffee. Now with the cold brew option added to the mix, the options have multiplied ten fold.  Worried about how cold brew stacks up in comparison to regular hot or iced coffee, there are minor differences with neither coming out on top significantly more than another. So, if you’re up for it, take a sip of the

Sources: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/whatever-happened-to-plain-iced-coffee-cold-brew/2016/09/02/ecad64e0-5fe7-11e6-8e45-477372e89d78_story.html




Learn How to Train Yourself to Eat Only 2-3 Bites of Anything!

By: Nikki Nies

Original Image by houseofthailand.com via Flickr

I’ve touched on the topic of mindful eating before, but it’s such an easy tactic that it’s overlooked, it’s worth mentioning again! As a gal that can never say no to cookies and/or ice cream, I’m one of those people that needs tangible accountability practicals. Especially when it comes to ice cream cake!  I’m all about understanding the system and thought process of food and finding small ways you can have your cake and eat it too!

A 2013 Cornell study finds eating smaller portions of your favorite foods, such as chocolate and chips can provide the same satisfaction as a larger portion would.  Logically, it makes sense portion size has a direct impact on caloric consumption, but not on level of satisfaction. Your body and hunger cravings need less than you think! If you’re wanting to control your weight and cravings, take a small bite and wait 15 minutes and see if your stomach and head ‘need’ more.

This research supports the notion that eating for pleasure – hedonic hunger – is driven more by the availability of foods instead of the food already eaten,” said Brian Wansink, the John S. Dyson Professor of Marketing at Cornell’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and a co-author of the study.

If cutting soda or sweets out of your daily life cold turkey isn’t realistic, which is understandable, combine your sugar craving with a healthy option. For example, dipping bananas in chocolate sauce or with peanut butter can be a great way to satiate cravings, while obtaining desired nutrients. Each individual’s food journey is unique and dietary changes need to be specific to overall feasibility. Removing sugar cold turkey may be necessary at the beginning, but once you’ve recognized how to gain more control over food choices, you can reintroduce it a little at a time. Maybe after a month of no ice cream, you allow yourself 1/2 cup twice a week.

Also, let’s talk quality! If you’re going to splurge on calories, pick high quality products that you can savor every bite.  Every once in a while, choose the perfect dark chocolate truffle that may set you back a few pennies instead of the ubiquitous Baby Ruth. So, what treats are you going to allot for the week? Think about what you can gain and lose–weight wise by using the above tactics!

Sources: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/savor-every-bite-with-mindful-eating/




How to savor every bite – Mindful eating 101