Set SMART fitness level goals

You’ve probably heard it before, to the point that it makes your eyes glaze over, but keep reading.

  • SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time Limited

It’s a mouthful and I totally understand if it seems really complicated. So let me boil it down for you. The 1 thing you should always ask yourself after you’ve decided on a goal for yourself is:

  • Do I realistically think it’s possible to do this?

Psychology points out, the more times we don’t do something we said we were going to do, the harder it gets to do things we say we’ll do. You can think of it as the “liar liar” phenomenon. Why? Simply because, when someone keeps lying to you, you stop believing anything that person says. Now replace that “someone” with “you”.


If you don’t trust yourself to answer the “Is it achievable” question, ask someone else for his/her honest opinion.

Say something like…

  • Do you think I can cut out added sugar from my diet for a week?
  • Can I bring myself to the gym for at least 3 days this week?
  • Can I complete a 5K run under 40 minutes by next month?
  • For the next month, I’m going to replace any processed food I crave with a natural, unprocessed food.
  • I’m going to start cooking my own meal 5 times a week.

It’s not by chance all these goals seem to provide

  • Specific details as to what exactly I’ll be doing
  • Measurable details as to whether I would be successful or not (i.e. I cooked 5 meals this week, therefore goal accomplished)
  • Relevant to weight loss through causation
  • Time boxing so it doesn’t feel like I’ll be doing it for eternity

Are you ready to start setting goals?

Okay, begin by setting 1 goal or 2 related goals. You really don’t want to overwhelm yourself with more than 2 to keep track of. Once you’ve achieved success on a goal so many times that the goal no longer feels like a challenge, then it’s time to make a new one. Don’t rush things.

When I look back at the past 4 years of my fitness journey, I’ve succeeded and failed so many times. The times that I did succeed are marked a pivotal decision. Something I’m so proud of and would tell it to anyone that would listen is when I kicked my sweet tooth addiction.

I used to always prefer sweet over any other flavor and I would seek out sweets everyday. My goal was to eliminate any food that had added sugar. It forced me to pay attention to my food and make conscious decisions to swap one unhealthy food with another. I could still eat sweets, as long as they occur naturally in the food. Yes, it was hard in the beginning, but so is trying anything new for the first time. I turned that goal into a habit and it’s just a part of me today. I also found myself not liking anything that is overly sweet. An unexpected outcome was the discovery of good food. Good food should have different flavors and textures.

What fitness goals have you achieved that you’re proud of? If you haven’t, what’s your first SMART goal today?

Thanks for reading and spread the health and wealth!

Results of my 1st attempt at making a vegan protein bar

Here are the results from first recipe combination.

The final “cake” weight 1060g. I followed my original proportions with the exception of adding an addition 100g of erythritol in an attempt to make it tastier prior to baking. By my calculations, there’s an excess of 360g of water in the formula I didn’t account for originally. I had to add extra chickpea liquid because the chickpea refused to blend with the coffee grounds and chia seeds.

The cooking procedure was very straightforward, blend coffee beans until fine, add chia seeds and chickpeas and continue blending. Combine blended mixer with protein booster, “sugar” and combine by hand. Press mixture into cooking pan and bake for 20 minutes at 350*F.

Taste – 2/5 

I cut off a corner piece and tested it. I was surprised by the fact that I didn’t get hit by a truckload of coffee flavor. I also didn’t get a lot of coffee smell as the protein bar was baking, in fact, there was no smell at all. Coffee is the first flavor I taste and a mild sweetness. There was also a subtle aftertaste that reminded me of this Chinese dessert 绿豆糕 (Mung bean cake).

Texture – 3/5 

I was really concerned about its ability to hold together due to a lack of liquid in the dough. I even had to combine the ingredients by hand. However, the surprise was that it was fairly moist and springy. The chia seeds that stayed intact provided an added crunch, which make it quite fun to eat. After a few seconds of chewing, I felt my mouth becoming dry and the food becoming more jello-like. I suspect it’s due to the soluble fiber starting to absorb water and entering into a gel-like state. I would definitely drink something with it.

Presentation – 4/5 

I thought the protein bar looked very normal, not unappetizing at all. It has flakes of coffee ground and chia seeds dotting the surface. It looks like a very healthy snack.

Side effects?

I definitely felt the caffeine. I did some math and I says I ate about 20mg of caffeine in my 30g portion, but somehow it felt like a full cup of coffee. I want to try eating it before and after a workout to test its effects. After I ate the bar, I lost all urges to keep eating. I did also eat dinner right before so I don’t know for sure. I’ll have to test it on an empty stomach.

What would I change?

I wonder if it’s worthwhile trying to update the proportions of ingredients or try something new altogether. I want to try a different flavor because this was very one-dimensional with coffee at its center. I really want to try making a savory version of it.

I would eat it but I don’t think think other people would want to eat it. Try it maybe, but I’m afraid they won’t want to try new batches in the future. I’ll just have to get through the rest of my first batch myself. I cut them up into 18-29g portions and placed them in a ziplock bag in the fridge.

More to come!



Attempt to Make My Own Protein Bar PART I

We are well into the spring season in NYC and this previous post I made caught my eyes. It’s a good reminder of just how much work it is to eat better. Nowadays, I find myself just eating a lot of calories because I feel hungry. That’s how I know I’m building muscles again. Remember, the more muscles you have, the faster your body burns calories. Your body will alert you of this change via the feeling of hunger. If my goal is just to build muscles, I would be fine to let nature dictate my behavior. However, because I want to build muscles AND lose fat at the same time, I need to restrict my eating. But nobody likes being hungry.


When I’m hungry, all rationality and resolution go out the window. I’m pretty sure that applies to everyone. If you know that’s you, I have a tip for you. Keep a protein bar and a bottle of water on you at all times! It’s not a miracle and it’s not magic, it’s science.

Here’s how it works. There are 3 key elements that work to eliminate the feeling of hunger: fiber, water and protein. The fiber combines with water and immediately fills up your stomach. The protein provides needed energy and keeps your digestive organs busy, too busy to signal your brain. No signal, no hunger. If you’ve ever tried drinking your hunger away, then you would know it doesn’t work.

I could buy the protein bars, but I know there are unknown things in them that I don’t want getting into my body.  Same goes for protein powder. I know a lot of people turn to them because they’re just so convenient and inexpensive. Also, the idea of making your own protein bar may seem daunting and riddled with failure. Then again, if I want a good outcome, I need to start with a plan.

First, I need to make an ingredient list. Some came from seeing what is put in prepackaged protein powder and are my own.

Recipe v1.0 – Cold Brew Bar

  • Chickpeas (base)
  • Chia seeds (base)
  • Booster
  • Erythritol (sweetness)
  • Coffee ground (taste)

I’m in the midst of collecting my ingredients, which I’ll gather my base from any grocery store, made my purchases on Amazon and plan on getting the coffee grounds from Starbucks when I’m ready to make the bars.

I’m thinking I’ll pressure cook the chickpeas and then throw everything together in a pan to cook out some moisture. Target for the weight of the bar is 60g. Per bar, I would mix:

  • Chickpeas – 10g
  • Chia seeds – 15g
  • Booster – 26g
  • Erythritol – 6g
  • Coffee ground – 3g

Based on that, I did a quick calculation: fat (7.58g), carb (23.49g), protein (17.26g), fiber (15.60g). Since fiber is part of carb total, I should have <10g of starch/sugar. I also lost a few grams of stuff, so give or take total calories per bar to be only around 170kcal per bar. That’s really good! Yes, a little under than half of the ingredients consist of the booster, which drives up the price of the bar. But considering how hard it is to make that at home, it’s worth it. One package of booster can made 20 bars, so it averages out to $1 per bar. Everything else is really cheap, so all good.

I am a little worried about all the ingredients holding together, but hopefully the plant gelatin in aquafaba (chickpea water) and chia seeds will act like good binding agents. Yay, I can’t wait to make it and get a taste!

Stay tuned for Part II to see how they turn out. Enter your email and hit the “Follow” button to the left to receive alerts whenever I make a new post.

Dill & Parsley Restaurant NYC

I want to talk about another favorite healthy fast-bite restaurant of mine in the city—Dill & Parsley. No, I don’t garner enough attention for this post to be sponsored; none of my posts are sponsored for that matter.

When you work in midtown, you have a lot of choices for lunch. Just the other day, I talked about Bocca Bliss as a great go-to for large salads that can sustain me for days. I also gave a tip on healthy eating, which is, “Variety is king. The more diverse in the species of food you’re eating, the healthier you’ll be.” If you don’t know what that means, definitely go read this.

If you take a look at their menu (I grabbed it from their site here), look at the variety of plant species they offer. It can get a bit intimidating to order if it’s your first time, so I’ll break it down for you and give you my order as an example along with some tips.


I always go with the Bowl (step 1). For value loving people out there like myself, you can load up on all of the Bases (step 2) if you want and I mean ALL of them! I usually go with wheat rice, shepard salad, eggplant + veggies, classic tomato sauce. I’m not going to talk about the other styles because I’m convinced you should get a Bowl.

For Protein (step 3), I have always, always gotten the spicy falafel. Their policy is that it’s always made fresh. I’ve actually seen them ball up the chickpea mixture and cook them. That makes a huge difference in the taste and texture. I firmly believe their mixture has the perfect density—it holds its shape really well, but it immediately falls apart in your mouth when you start to chew. If don’t know what they put in there, but I’ve never tasted anything like it. Lastly, I love that the spice actually has a kick. I can eat spicy so I’m always disappointed when a food is advertised as “spicy” but is really mild in my opinion. If you like spicy, you won’t be disappointed. Since I’ve never tried the other protein options, I can’t vouch for them.

The only disappointment is I can only pick 2 items out of the Spreads, Salads, Veggies section (step 4). I’ve always, always gotten the beet + kale salad and zucchini + dill veggies. I’m really convinced though that you can’t go wrong with any 2. I’ve tired superfood salad, it quite refreshing with the shredded cabbages and diced green apple chunks.

Finally, the Toppings (step 5). You get unlimited toppings so try them all if you want. If you haven’t guessed it, I always, always get the spicy marash. I don’t know what’s in there, but it has all my favorite flavors: spicy, salty, tangy. I’ve had pickled stuff before, too salty and sour for my taste. Very important tip here, get the sauce on the side. Otherwise, they throw the sauce all over your falafel and other stuff that I might not want sauce on.

If I had to guess, in my bowl of wheat rice, shepard salad, eggplant + veggies, classic tomato sauce, spicy falafel, beet + kale salad, and zucchini + dill veggies, topped with spicy marash, there are at least 15 plant species. Talk about efficient healthy eating! I can also taste the care that went into sourcing the raw ingredients. My bowl comes out to $11.25 total! I really can’t think of any other restaurant that can beat the value and the wealth of ingredients.

Like I’ve started to say, spread the wealth and the health by passing this along!


Updated Hummus Recipes

Reasons I don’t buy hummus in stores anymore is because it’s SO EASY to make! Here’s a recipe I posted back in 2014! The jalapeno hummus recipe is still solid, but these new additions of ingredients definitely elevates the outcome.

So assuming you follow my previous suggestion of making your own hummus from dried chickpeas, you now have a few cups of cooked hummus to work with. You can also use canned chickpeas, whichever you find more efficient. I’m also a season to taste person, which I also recommend you to do in this case.

Here are your base ingredients that applies to all hummus recipe:

  • Chickpeas
  • Sesame paste or sesame oil
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper
  • Garlic

Beet Sriracha Hummus: Add a can of beets, drained and Sriracha

Spinach Basil Hummus: Add a few handfuls of frozen spinach and fresh basil

I find that garlic adds a lot of flavor to the recipe, so I add at least 1 large clove per cup of cooked hummus. For lemon juice, I buy the pre-squeeze bottle, but fresh is always better and I like to use a lot, 1/2 tablespoon per cup. At the end of the day though, you should go with your preferences and add as much or as little of seasonings as they suit your taste. Just remember, be generous with the salt to highlight flavoring.

I make a lot every time, but hummus stores really well. I just put it in a large container and take some out each day to eat. You can be fancy and buy small containers for convenient grab and go snacks.

I think hummus goes especially well with carrots, but even if you don’t eat them with a vegetable, you are eating vegetables because they’re inside the hummus! Since both beet and spinach don’t have their own taste, you won’t even notice them in there. It’s a great way to add more vegetables to your diet.

I also love making it for any gatherings because it goes so well as a dip. I prefer the beet version because it’s on the sweeter side of savory because of the natural sugar in beets. I’ve had friends say they like the basil spinach because it tastes very refreshing. Which one do you like better?

Please read, comment and share. Spread the wealth and the health all!

I Looked Up What’s in My Salad

Immediately after my lunch hour workout, I stopped by Bocca Bliss in midtown to grab a salad for a late lunch. I selected 9 toppings to go on top of a bed of mixed greens. Keeping the dressing minimal, I went with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. I also easily passed on the snacks and cereal that’s been sitting on my desk all day, which normally is such a draining task.

My theory is that when you do one thing healthy, it’s easier to do another, and another. Or at least that’s how it works for me. Anyone agree?! 

So then I got curious as to just how much carb, protein and fat I was ingesting. Yes, you can actually get all that from salad! Don’t believe me? Yea, I would do my own research as well, which is exactly what I did. You can see all the nutritional facts of each ingredient in my salad below.

Order for left to right: sweet potato, brussel sprouts, eggplant, mushroom, tomato, asparagus, broccoli, bell pepper, corn

For reference, an average apple weighs somewhere between 70g – 100g.  Since I didn’t eat 9 apples worth of food, let’s disregard the quantity and only look at the ratio of fat/carb-fiber/fiber/protein. For example, corn would be 2.5/16/2/4, while bell pepper is 0/4/2/1.

First takeaway, lots of dietary fiber! Win! Secondly, look at all that sugar. If you hear someone say, “You can’t get your carbs from plants!” now you can correct them and proof them otherwise! Same goes for protein.

I can’t help but also mention, there are a lot of different “diets” out there and I’ve tried A LOT of them. There is zero consensus as to which one is actually the best. I want to gift you this nugget of gold I uncovered in all my years of being a health fanatic. Variety is king. The more diverse in the species of food you’re eating, the healthier you’ll be.

So think chicken, turkey, duck, or eggs; they all come from 1 species, bird. Cheese, milk, yogurt, beef; 1 species, bovine. Other animal species include fish (salmon, carp, flounder), mollusks (oysters, mussels, snails) and more. You can have a lot of variety in the type of food, but not in the type of species. Get my drift? It would appear that when it comes to domesticated animal species, we don’t actually have a lot of options. 

lightbulb moment Google Search

AHA! Maybe it’s time we stop focusing on animals and instead, focus more attention on the world of plants. Here’s a quote I found, “There are over 20,000 species of edible plants in the world yet fewer than 20 species now provide 90% of our food.”

If you take away 1 thing from reading this piece, I implore you to add more variety of food at the most fundamental level, species, and the easiest way is adding more plants to your diet.

Thanks for reading and please spread the wealth and health!