Muffin Madness

I have to admit that I’m a compulsive person who comes from a long line of compulsive people.  It is who I am.  I actually like my compulsivity, but it likely drives others a bit bats. When you combine my compulsiveness with learning something new… then I’m having fun.

I also love to find solutions to problems… and this has led me to become the Muffin Man.  OK perhaps, that title is a bit over-stated.

As you may recall, I am moving into a new health direction that involves getting up very early and going to the gym.  My personal chemistry requires that two things happen before I step past the gym’s threshold.  1. I have to have a cup of coffee. 2. I need to eat something.

My morning mainstays have been oatmeal, and fruit with peanut butter.  However, I need to be able to eat in the car, and both of these foods don’t travel well.  I have experimented with simple foods, like nuts… but they get boring.  Hence, Very low sugar muffins.

When you combine the terms “low sugar” and “muffin” you are left with only one possibility, make them yourself.  I have now tried 3 recipes, and honestly they have all been pretty decent.  Even Julie and the kids will eat them!

Yesterday’s experiment was these whole grain pumpkin muffins.  I substituted Splenda for the brown sugar and added a little more cinnamon.  Results: yummy!  I thought I would pass on the recipe to you.  About 140 calories per muffin (compared to 500-600 for a commercial one).

Multi-grain low sugar muffins
Multi-grain low sugar muffins
Mixing it up
Mixing it up
How to make them
How to make them

Waking up sore, waking up strong

Yesterday I tried some free weight exercises in preparation for next week when I’ll be working with a personal trainer. Add to that a very long workday that ended around 10 PM.

Today I feel sore and tired.  I’m dressed and ready to go to the gym, but my heart isn’t in it.  I would rather sleep-in.  Even better, I would rather take the day off.  Neither will happen.  In a few minutes I’ll hop into my car and off I will go.

It would be easy to give in, just for today.  But today becomes tomorrow, and tomorrow the next day. My patterns with my new behaviors are not set, they are only slightly gelled.  So I sip my coffee with my muscles aching,  my eyes burning, and I look at the clock on the computer, and I prepare to leave.

Today I will not let myself defeat me.  Today I will let myself move me forward.  I often have two sides to myself, and today I will listen to the side that wants me to be strong.

Early morning along the lake


This weekend I was fortunate to bike ride with a friend at sunrise along Chicago’s beautiful lakefront.

The weather was cool and a bit on the damp side,  much preferable to heat.  The vistas were breathtaking, and especially unique for someone like me, who rarely travels beyond the suburbs.

I try to make it a practice to greet people that I encounter and in DuPage county I am almost always given a nod, a smile or a return hello.  Not so in Chicago, where only two people responded to me.  I found this fact sad.  All of those people, and all of them traveling alone.  Perhaps it is the way that you survive in the city. Perhaps people learn that friendliness is only an excuse to ask for money, or some such thing.

With that said, their lack of communication did not diminish the awesome beauty of Lake Michigan and the Chicago Skyline.  I told my friend that that we should return to this path at least one more time before the cold winds of winter return.

Today I will continue to smile and greet strangers.  Consider joining me in this simple campaign of friendliness. You may brighten someone’s day and a return smile will brighten your day.

Chicago Skyline
Chicago Skyline

Thursday Morning 

It is early and the air is still damp with the rain of last evening. It smells fresh and good.  I’m waiting for the doors to open at the office complex that houses the gym. My early arrival is a sign of both progress and problem. 

Progress in the sense that I’m arriving earlier. Problem in the the sense that I can’t get into the building. The later fact will hopefully be rectified in a few weeks when I get a better keycard. 

It is strange how I can feels energized one day and exhausted the next. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to my altered energy states. For now I am just trying to accept them and adapt accordingly. 

I am once again reminded of the benefit of accountability as I try to move forward.  Knowing that someone is waiting for me pushes  me out of bed on days when an extra 30 minutes of pillow time would be welcomed. I suppose this is a personal reality for me, as I tend to be responsible and I dislike not delivering  when I make a commitment. I think different people have different motivators. 

Today I will continue move forward accepting the reality that on some days that movement will be more compromised than others. 

The empty gym

Today I arrived at  at the gym on time. The benefit of arriving early is that I had my pick of equipment. With that said, I only use the treadmill! As you can see, my photo steadying skills are lost when I run on it. 

I was absolutely exhausted yesterday, but an earlier bedtime has me back on the somewhat tired norm that I have recently become familiar with. This is a very different feeling from the sick exhausted feelings that I had prior to my behavior changes late last year. 

It is funny,in an ironic way, that I feel younger, more vital. The steps  that I’m taking are simple, but I’m also consistent and rational in my plan of action. 

My goal today is to keep moving in a forward direction. My goal today is to correct the inevitable deviations from my first goal. 

The List

A Sunday morning very fun 24 mile bike ride...
A Sunday morning very fun 24 mile bike ride…

It is Sunday night and tomorrow starts a new workweek. It is not uncommon for me to think back to all of the things that I didn’t do that I felt that I needed to do.  This weekend was no different.

However, I did do a lot of productive and enjoyable things too.  I spent time with people that I care about.  I grew a little more spiritually by hearing a decent sermon at church.  I paid my house taxes, took passport photos of the kids, cleaned the house and I did a lot more. I even baked some more of those no sugar muffins!

I wonder why it is so easy to look at my missteps rather than my accomplishments.  For many years I have resorted to a simple technique to realign my thinking. That technique is called, “The List.”

When I start to feel that I should have done more, when I feel that I don’t have the right to just sit and do nothing, I’ll write down everything that I did do.  I’m always surprised at what I have accomplished that day, or weekend, and I always feel better about allowing myself some sitting time.

Life is more than doing.  Today I will try to remember that sometimes just being is enough.

Frustration and resolution

Over the last week I have been attempting to get a WordPress blog to work.  That is the blog that you are reading now.  I was using this blog as a test blog to learn some basic concepts that I would need to help re-establish my friend’s blog.

The biggest challenge was getting a post published in WordPress to automatically publish on social media and connection sites like Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. By the end of the workweek I thought I had it all figured out… but no.

Today I spent a couple of hours linking my friend’s site up.  Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.  After a couple of hours of work I realized that Google+ was posting on his personal page, not his business page.  Crap!  Finally I fixed that with a lot of trial and error.

I double checked LinkedIn and the posts were going there, but they couldn’t been seen.  Several hours later I realized that the only way to post to a business site on LinkedIn was to buy a $50/year subscription to a custom API.. no other way. I hope my friend doesn’t mind too much. The good news is that I believe I have everything working… at least I hope that is the case.

It is now 3PM and my brain hurts.  I need to get out into the fresh air.  However, it does drive home a point for me.  During the last few hours I wanted to just give up many times.  Just as I was ready to do so I decided to push just a little bit more.  That process, repeated and repeated, and my efforts eventually led to a  solution.

How many times do we give up on something just because we don’t want to push that little bit extra? How many times do we continue to push when the best solution is to simply let go?  …Just pondering.




Up Early

It is 4:32 AM and I have been up for a bit.  Not by a lack of ability to sleep, but rather by a desire to keep up a new behavior.

Although I think there is a wake-up time that exceeds the ability to adjust to it, 4AM is probably not that time.

I won’t go to the gym today, instead I’ll try to do some creative work with Tom.  My goal is to link his new blog to his social media sites, as I have done with this experimental one.  I’m hoping that things will go smoothly, and I like the fact that I’m challenging myself by learning some new technical skills.

Today my goal is to challenge myself and push myself to learn while still enjoying the process.  Today, I feel that goal is a possibility.

Facing Friday

On Fridays I drive to Rockford, on a trip that takes just shy of and hour and a half.  If I had to do this trek on a daily basis it would be difficult, but once a week isn’t too bad.

As an introvert I enjoy my alone time, and I’ll often make the trip in silence.  Thinking and rethinking.  Coming up with solutions for problems that don’t really exist. Focusing on the unimportant and (more rarely) the important.

For me, this is relaxing and recharging.  The 90 minute commute turned into a positive, instead of a negative.  Today it is my goal to realize that, like a coin, most life events have two sides.   My desire is to focus on the positive side, instead of dwelling on the negative side.

A breakfast search 

I have discovered that I need to eat something before I go to the gym. Otherwise, it is low sugar and shaky time for me. But I need something that is portable and quick. 

So far I have tried a peanut butter and banana sandwich and a small bag of nuts. Both worked OK, but variety is the spice of life. Today’s experiment are these muffins. Whole wheat, banana/blueberry, no additional sugar. About 190 calories for 1/12 of the recipe and they taste pretty good. I added a little salt and vanilla and was liberal with the blueberries. 

I’ll try one out tomorrow.