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How to Make Your Coffee Stop Healthier

I have been working as a Barista at a couple different coffee shops for the past 5.5 years. Although plain coffee with only two tablespoons of half-&-half is 45 calories and is by far the lowest-calorie thing you can get at a coffee shop (or make for way cheaper at home) there are some things you should know when making frou-frou coffee drink decisions.

1) Milk – My mom was a farmer growing up and her family had cows, so she and her mom sometimes made their own butter and things. When milk comes from the cow, the milk quickly separates into three layers. The top layer is the fattiest, and that is the layer that becomes milk and buttermilk. Then the second layer is scraped off, and that is what becomes heavy whipping cream. What is left is what becomes “whole milk” as we see it in the grocery store, and technically that is graded at 3% milk fat. Milk can be over 100 calories per cup and getting a drink Breve (with half-and-half) is considerably more calories because 2 TBSPs is 40 calories. So if you are getting anything other than a tall, get something closer to non-fat.

2) Syrup – The flavoring syrups are actually what give frou-frou drinks their calories. Two pumps of syrup is one ounce – the equivalent of one tablespoon. Two pumps is 100 calories. A Starbucks Tall drink has 3 pumps of flavored syrup, regardless of if it is a Mocha, a Vanilla Latte, or even a sweetened Iced Tea. And although you may be saving calories with “Sugar Free” syrups, you aren’t going any healthier because there are three times the amount of salt as well as addictive chemical compounds and hidden sugars. And really, if it is sweet your body will treat it as a sugar. The best thing to do is slowly reduce the number of pumps of sweet you get in your coffee until you reach the minimum you can tolerate. Ultimately, since one packet of actual sugar is 16 calories, that is the best option.

3) Whipped Cream – People treat whipped cream as if it is the make-all-break-all of a diet. Actually, 2 TBSPs of whipped cream are only 15 calories. If you’re getting a drink with all the pumps of syrup, which are way more than 15 calories, then you may as well go all-in and get the whipped cream as well.

My feelings on Women in Cinema

I read an article a friend of mine posted on Facebook (so of course I can’t find it now because I don’t remember who posted it) and basically the article was written by a feminist who was completely insulted that Fantasy is primarily an all-boys-club of characters. The example she used was of the Hobbit, and how there are only male characters, and the female character and Legolas weren’t even supposed to be in the second and third movies.

Please note: I love the Hobbit. After watching the first movie in my living room my Fiancé proposed to me. I also love it on its own merits as an interesting adventure, even if they didn’t keep with the novel (really… you expected a movie to be like it’s book? When has that ever happened?)

Anyway, after reading the article I started thinking about movies that I like, and how they all seem to have a principally male cast. Red is the only movie I can think of that has female characters who hold their own with the men and they’re funny to boot! But really, why do you watch Kate and Leopold? Do you watch it for Meg Ryan? Aw hell no! You watch it for Hugh Jackman and a smexy English accent!

It also gets me that Superheroes tend to have unfulfilled crushes on the boring female characters. In Arrow, why must Ollie, our hero, like Laurel, a self-obsessed lawyer with no sense of humor whose intelligence is superficial, when he has a pretty, snarky, smart, and funny secretary/hacker who works right beside him for both his jobs? Barry in the Flash likes a barista (who should not have so much spending cash, even if she lives with her dad). There isn’t another viable female character in the show yet (though the girl I like in Arrow guest starts a few times since the shows are linked), but really? Must our heroes like boring girls who are inherently unable to figure out that something is even up with the hero? And another cool thing: The Flash has Jesse L. Martin and Tom Cavanagh!

I think it kind of goes to show how the rolls of actresses aren’t nearly as interesting as those of actors. I was also watching some old movies with my dad over the weekend, and I realized that female actors have always been very cookie-cutter, even in 1930s movies! Here is a challenge: without looking anything up on the internet, name 3 famous actors and actresses from before you were born. I have Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, and John Wayne. All men.

This probably doesn’t have any indication of how people feel about women. I think it just represents that there are very few good parts for women in movies and television, and that if we want to have female leads sell more movies then they need to play characters as interesting as Catniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games.

Taking the Emotion out of Angry Letters

Recently there was a bit of an upheaval at my work (the company of which shall remain unnamed, but everything here is of my own opinion and not theirs, so they hold no liability for what I write). This upheaval left me angry for several days, and it was really a culmination of many things, the least of which was my immediate manager quitting. I was so upset that I couldn’t sleep, so at 3am I got up, turned on my computer, and typed up all of my thoughts and feelings.

Emotion-filled letters like that are very therapeutic and indeed, writing that one helped me to get at least a few hours of sleep. However, the reasons for my feelings really did need to be addressed. Although emotion can be a very strong motivator and persuader in an argumentative essay, there is no room for it in a professional setting. If anything, hurt feelings will harm your argument more than help it because, really, it isn’t about you. It’s about whatever the root cause of the problem and the way to fix that problem.

So, how did I take the emotion out of my angry letter? I did a few things.

1) I took a day to calm down. That extra time, now that the anger and hurt were out of my system, allowed me to start thinking of my problem more like one of the case studies I did in my MBA programs. If I didn’t connect to the problem too closely – if I pretended it was someone else having the problem who I didn’t know – then I could disconnect my rage and it didn’t show through my writing while still keeping my unique voice.

2) I reworked my letter like crazy, changing the format of the letter from “Here’s what happened, here is why it hurts, and this is what I want to do about it” to a simple “Problem/Solution” format. Slowly but surely I undid my original letter and re-wrote it so that it sounded completely professional.

3) I had someone who didn’t know any of the people about whom I was writing proofread my paper. This was most crucial, because my mother is a really good letter-writer herself, so she was able to make it so that any lingering traces of emotion were removed and that all my thoughts were comprehensible. Apparently when I’m angry I write long, stupidly complex sentences jamming together waaaaaaay too many ideas. Who knew?

Ultimately, nobody will see any letter you write until every word is the way you want it, so taking the time to make a powerful argument is well worth the time and effort!

What I’ve Learned About Myself and Physical Fitness: An Update on my own Goal

I’m terrible at self-denial, is what I’ve learned about myself in the past month. Nearly a month ago I wrote this blog about New Years Resolutions and Goal Setting. In that blog I set myself a goal of losing 30 lbs by August. Well… here are my excuses so far:

1) I got a cold that was so bad I even missed work.

2) My manager at work quit, so I’ve been working nearly full time to cover the empty space he left.

3) I’m lazy.

The third one is actually true, though the other two did take a lot of the wind out of my sales and instead puffed me full of hot air. It also brought into focus the fact that I am not very good at denying myself the things I want, and that I really need help if I want to start exercising regularly.

I’ve found a couple things that have helped me out over the past week. Yes, I really started working out on Wednesday of this past week, and I’ve got my darling phone as my constant workout/logging companion. This has been both a blessing and a curse, so let me describe to you everything I have done over the last five days.

First, I have actually been logging my intake on MyFitnessPal.com. Because I have been bad (i.e. Lazy) I have actually gained 3 lbs, and thus I am allowed to eat more calories. I also discovered that the My Fitness Pal app can link with a whole bunch of other apps and electronic devices, so I started a MapMyWalk account and linked it to My Fitness Pal, so when I map my walk (which is nice and free) it automatically logs it onto My Fitness Pal for me!

Unfortunately, I have some yoga pants that I like to wear for walking that don’t have pockets. I also have a pair of shorts whose pockets aren’t big enough to hold a bottle of water. Also, we couldn’t find the fanny pack because I’m sure I threw it away when Mom wasn’t looking. So… I made a Bat Belt out of some random material I happened to have on hand. It looks pretty stupid – no sure if it’s any better than a bright red fanny pack – but it has a pouch for water, a pouch for my phone, and a pouch for my keys and my inhailer. The picture above is of me wearing it. And, yes, I’m still proud of it! I don’t have to carry any of that stuff in my hands now!

But, the thing that I have found most helpful is a website called FitnessBlender.com. It is a website made by a married couple, both of whom are professional fitness trainers, and they post workout videos you can watch for completely free! You can purchase workout programs for about $7 each, but they wanted to give people access to quality workout and health information for no cost. The workouts I’ve done are killer and super-effective, and so far I’ve made my own workout plan by searching through their full-length workout videos and putting them on the calendar available on my profile. They have a pretty awesome 5 Day Free Challenge for Busy People as well as a bunch of smaller workouts that have helped me to lose 2 lbs in 5 days!

I’ve also gotten a few other apps that I use as workout fillers: Daily Workouts and GymFrame. I also have a few Denise Austin and Rodney Yee workout DVDs for days when I want something different. I think that if I manage to do at least 10 minutes of workout, I may be able to maintain this momentum I finally managed to accrue!

So, this is what’s been working for me. What works for you???

Just Do It! Why to Avoid Procrastination

I’m a professional procrastinator! I start on projects early so that I can take lots of breaks and watch lots of TV shows without finishing my projects late. I have done a lot of projects last minute, even arriving late to presentations because I had problems printing twenty-five page papers. I have been so stressed about whether or not a paper was good enough that I have lost days worth of sleep. Procrastinating isn’t good.

But you say that you work best under pressure! That your papers just don’t have that magic touch unless you were stressed!

No… no, they really could have been better.

Procrastinating on studying leads to all-nighter cram sessions that leave you too tired to think clearly. Writing a paper so last-minute that you didn’t proofread it leaves a lot of grammatical errors that will irritate your teacher and drop your grade by a few crucial points. Arriving late to meetings make you look lackadaisical and like you really don’t care for your job.

There also comes a point where putting off things you don’t like just gets old, and eventually those things just need to get done. So… just do it! If you just do that thing you don’t like, then you’ll do it right and you won’t be living under the stress of having not done it yet. You’ll look professional, reliable, and mature. Also, it will reduce the stress on your boss or your teammates because you will be the only member of your team who is completely hassle-free.

If only everyone was as easy to work with!

Resolutions and Goal Setting

Happy New Year everybody! Something that people I love keep asking me is if I have made any New Year’s Resolutions. I hate that question for two reasons: it’s none of their business if I have, and I feel resolutions on the whole are stupid.

Now, I say they’re stupid because all of the Resolutions I’ve ever heard are completely unrealistic or unattainable. “I want to lose weight!” So go on a crash diet for a week; lose two pounds; realize it’s hard and quit the diet; gain five pounds back. You got your resolution, I guess. It wasn’t what you meant. That’s why I call Resolutions stupid.

Goal-setting, however, is a very logical way of getting a desired result. The first thing you have to do is really define your overarching goal, and then set a time limit for it. “I want to lose weight” is too broad and open to interpretation, but “I want to lose 30 pounds by August” is completely doable. I may even want to put in that caveat in there that I want those 30 pounds to stay off after I’ve lost them so all this effort is not lost in vain. After that, you need to set up intermediary goals that will help you attain your overarching goal. To lose 30 points in seven months, I would have to lose just over a pound a week.

Now that I have my goals set, I need to arrange some tasks and perhaps a few other goals so that I can actually attain those goals (because no matter how awesome it would be, I doubt that my chubby parts will melt away if I only wish for it). Nothing will change unless I change it, and, sadly, that will take effort. So, I will need to reduce the number of calories I eat and start exercising more. To easily count my calories and balance my nutritional goals, for example, I can get the My Fitness Pal app on my phone so I can log what I eat any time any where. I will also join Crunch Fitness Gym because they are inexpensive and if I’m paying to ride a fake bike, I don’t want to pay a lot for it (especially since getting my real bike out of the shed would be so much cheaper). And, no, I don’t get paid to advertise for companies. I’m just a cheapskate.

Basically, I need to make daily calorie goals and weekly gym-going goals if I actually want to drop this weight. If I do this every week, my goal of losing 30 pounds by August is completely doable. I can even keep it up for the whole year, and who knows how much weight I can lose in that time!

The cool thing about goal-setting, though, is that I’m not just restricted to setting goals for myself at New Years! I can set a goal whenever I want: Len;, when I get out of a bad relationship; when I have a deadline for school or work; whenever! As long as you set a realistic goal and have intermediary goals and tasks to help you achieve it, then anything is possible!

Do you have any goals you are trying to achieve this year? I really am going to try and lose 30 LBS by August, and those were my methods of losing that weight. I’ll let you know later in the year how I am doing in achieving those goals!

Things I’ve Heard About Dating that I Don’t Like – Here’s Why

I’ve got a few friends who are currently in the dating game, and they are really struggling with it. Most of them are guys (I know a lot of guys) but a few are girls, but regardless of the gender there are some things that people have said about the opposite gender that are simply not true. Call them myths or misnomers or what you will, but they are ridiculous, and here is why:

1) Girls only want a jerk/Nice guys finish last – Girls don’t want a jerk; they want a gentleman. This is not to be confused with a doormat, though. A gentleman knows what he wants, he is confident in himself and his manhood, and although he finds it wonderful to be courteous to women he does not let them run over him. A lot of the guys I know forget that you can be kind and sweet to a girl without letting her get away with murder. Good boundaries are necessary and should be enforced in any relationship – romantic or otherwise – and along with straightforward communication creates a comfortable place for a relationship to grow.

2) Love is a game – If love is a game then you will always lose it sooner or later. Whenever I play a game I win it the first few times, then I lose horribly, then I win again, and so it goes. However, whenever I decided to look for someone to fill the role of “boyfriend” I managed to find it quickly. As such, you will find what you are looking for, and if you are playing the “love game” then you will find other people playing it, too, and those relationships rarely seem to work out. Perhaps if you stop playing you will find someone else who is also serious about their relationships and you guys will actually have a chance.

3) Guys only want skinny girls – What a cop out! Most guys really don’t care about how a girl looks as long as she’s fun to hang out with and has a good sense of humor. I’ve noticed that it’s mostly girls who get hung up on the whole weight issue, and that guys with any form of maturity tend not to care.

4) Girls only want guys with big penises – This one actually mirrors myth #3 in that wiener size is more a guy thing than a woman thing. Ultimately, if you find a girl who loves you then the battle is over half won. I’ve noticed that women who sleep around tend to care more about penis size, but people who are in a monogamous relationship care more about the person they are with than the size of their genitalia and the emotional connection with their significant other allows for better sex in the long run. It actually creates a different chemical response in the brain that makes intercourse with a person you are in love with much better.

5) Men only go for bitches – Although this is similar to the first myth, again it is not quite the same. Men find women who are bitches, but how long do they stay together? If the endgame is to find someone to spend your life with, then the guy who goes for bitches will lose. This brings up two questions: are you being a doormat and are you actually putting yourself out there? Because we mostly expect guys to make the first move, it becomes pretty obvious when they are looking for a relationship. Girls, however, have to show that they are interested by initiating eye contact or using open body language to show we are open to being approached. Approaching someone for the first time is a scary thing regardless of gender, so communicating an willingness to be approached either silently or aloud will move things along nicely.

Of course, these are just suggestions and are only my opinion. What do you think some common myths are about dating?