5 Pin Fridays – 02/14/2020 What’s Happening This Week


Welcome to this week’s edition of 5 Pin Friday! Every Friday, I post an exclusive blog post with the 5 coolest things I found, I'm doing, or quote I’m pondering that week. It could also include exclusive giveaways or a chance to interact with me, books, gadgets, articles, new hacks or tips, and - of course - all sorts of random stuff I dig up around the world.

What I’m Focusing On

My positive mental health! I took a Wellness Day this week to stay home and just take a moment to relax and enjoy doing things I love. I was able to sleep a little longer, play with my son, and work on my business. I used my Alexa to play ocean sounds in the background when I was doing some online work and it made up for the wintery snow outside. No matter how strong-willed you are as a person, everyone needs to take a step back once in a while and just be in the moment. Burnout is not something that should be taken lightly, and once you notice yourself getting to that point, I encourage you to raise the white flag and just take a day. That one day away from your workplace can result in more productivity when you are rejuvenated and back at work.  

What I’m Doing

We all know the joys of going to Sephora and buying whatever makes us happy in that moment, and realize the $70+ total wasn’t worth it a week later, and find ourselves running back for something equally as expensive. *Guilty* One thing I’ve been trying to do lately is use everything I already have in my bathroom drawers. Needless to say, I found more than 5 moisturizers barely used and eye shadow palettes I haven’t even used. To help see all my products infront of me so I don't forget what I have, I purchased an organizer to put in my bathroom so I can have everything on display. So now I’m making it a priority to finish every product to the best of my ability before making a run back to Sephora. Wish me luck!

What I Found Out:

Deva Curl is in some hot water and I am shooketh! I was actually running out and wanted to re-up. Deva Curl is a hair product line that specializes in curly hair care. Apparently, their products are causing severe hair loss, scalp burning, rashes, and other symptoms.  Concerns about DevaCurl went viral after a social media influencer Ayesha Malik posted a video titled “Why I Stopped Using DevaCurl” on YouTube and it racked 1.7 million views. She was actually a former ambassador for the brand. She stated that she started getting dandruff, experiencing hair loss and her curls were dying. She isn't the only one going through this and there’s a huge class-action lawsuit being put together, so stay tuned for that in the headlines.

What I’m Learning

How to properly layer skincare products. Winter is still upon us - please excuse my frigid frozen fingers as I type this. My skin has been dying for moisture and I needed to learn how to keep it clean but super hydrated during these cold months. I decided to do some research and learned how to properly layer my million skincare products so I could a) actually use what was in my bathroom drawers and b) not damage my skin. Check out the blog post I put together and find out how to properly layer your skincare with 7 quick steps.

Quote I’m Pondering

“Whatever you do, be gentle. People might have forgiven your harsh words but they may never forget how it stabbed their heart at that time!” - Mufti Menk

Check out more of Mufti Menk's quotes here.

That's all for this week, see you next time!

7 Steps to Layer Your Skincare Products the Right Way


Let's be real - we spend so much money on our skincare regime, and there’s nothing more heartbreaking than feeling like our skin doesn't look great after applying everything we own. But something as simple as the order that you apply your skincare products can actually make a huge difference to your skin. It may sound like a lot of work but if you don’t apply your serums and moisturizers in a specific order, the products won't do the job they're supposed to, and your skin will be the one to suffer. *insert crying emoji*

The most important thing is to make sure your skin is completely clean BEFORE you apply any hydrating lotions or oils. The general rule is to apply the most lightweight products first so they can be easily absorbed before layering on heavier creams.

I know it can be time-consuming but it's important to wait a minute or two after applying each skincare layer. This will give your skin time to absorb the product, and that when you’re layering your products they won’t peel – those tiny little balls you get when you’ve used too much product. A good way to maximize your time doing all the steps is to work your skincare into your morning and evening routine, so brush your teeth between steps, give your makeup sponge a wash to give your skin a little extra time to absorb products in between steps.

Step 1: Cleanser

Cleansing should remove any makeup or dirt from your skin while also adding a burst of hydration. use a foam or gel cleanser (or whichever best suits your skin type). Make sure there’s absolutely no makeup or dirt on your skin before you continue the rest of your regime.

Step 2: Toner

Toning is super important as it removes any residue that your cleanser wouldn’t get rid of, plus any minerals or chlorine from your water. It will also instantly tighten your pores and help restore your skin’s pH levels for a more even skin tone.

Step 3: Serum

Serums are lightweight formulas and contain high concentrations of active ingredients. The formula is made up of smaller molecules that are absorbed into the skin at a much deeper level. This makes serums ideal if you’re trying to target a specific skincare issue, like acne, fine lines or dry skin.

Step 4: Eye Cream

Eye creams are great because they can brighten under eyes, reduce puffiness, and add an extra hit of moisture. Depending on the formula it may look like a serum or a thick moisturizer, but now is the time to apply it, as there are fewer ‘barriers’ for it to get through, and it can be absorbed more easily! Apply your eye cream with your fourth finger in a tapping motion, as this is the weakest finger so you won’t tug or pull the delicate skin. We also love to keep our eye cream in the fridge; it’s the ultimate eye wake-up call in the mornings!

Pro Tip: If your eye cream contains retinol, you can apply after your moisturizer, as this will lower the risk of it irritating the skin.

Step 5: Face Cream/Moisturizer

Hydrated skin is glowing skin, so NEVER skip this step! The right moisturizer will hydrate, replenish, restore your skin’s pH levels, and nourish and repair any issues like dry, flaky skin. But make sure you choose one with the right formula and ingredient list for your skin type. If you have dry skin, you need a really rich formula, but if you have acne-prone or oily skin, a gel formula will be your go-to.

Step 6: Facial Oil

Without a doubt one of the most powerful potions on my shelf! The small molecular structure of face oils allows them to penetrate deeper into your skin and hydrate at a much deeper level. They also repair and plump your skin, and feed it with amazing natural vitamins. Oil needs to go last because it will create a protective barrier on your skin and lock in water, if not applied last, it could block your other skincare products from penetrating. If you’re on the oily skin list, we recommend only using your face oil at night.

Step 7: Sunscreen

For daytime, sunscreen is THE most important step, even during the winter months. Applying a good sunscreen every morning will protect your skin from damaging UVA and UVB rays. An SPF will sit on the surface of your skin acting as a protective barrier against the sun, so you should always apply it last.

From this point on you’re officially ready to start applying your makeup!

21 Captivating Mufti Menk Quotes


From Mufti Menk's Facebook page:

Dr. Mufti Ismail Menk is a leading global Islamic scholar born and raised in Zimbabwe.

He studied Shariah in Madinah and holds a Doctorate of Social Guidance from Aldersgate University.

Mufti Menk's work has gained worldwide recognition and he has been named one of "The Top 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World" since 2010.

He has millions of followers across his social media platforms. Mufti Menk's personable style and down to earth approach has made him one of the most sought after scholars in our time. He has endeared himself to people with his much-loved lecture series, a Mufti Menk trademark.

He travels the world spreading a simple but profound message: "Do good, help others while preparing for the Hereafter".

He is active in the international arena and is a strong proponent of peace and justice, speaking up against all forms of terrorism.


  1. “Don't let past mistakes make you lose hope of achieving good. Some of those with the worst past have made a great future for themselves.”

  2. "My heart is too valuable to allow hatred and jealousy to rent a spot."

  3. “Check yourself often and correct your faults. Quit blaming others. Take responsibility for your own life. That's the only way you can grow!”

  4. “He who disagrees with you could be correct whilst he who cheers you on could be making a mistake. Ponder.”

  5. “A sincere call to the Almighty can change what you may have thought was impossible to change. Never lose hope.”

  6. “The tongue can cut deeper than the sword or heal faster than in the ward.”

  7. “Get up to pray in the dark when all are asleep and see how your path is lit and your life begins to shine.”

  8. “‪So you've been having a tough time. You don't know how long more you can hold on. Remember bad days don't last forever. Keep patience alive!”

  9. “When you strive in the way of the Almighty, you don't worry about being accepted or having the approval of others. You know your priority.”

  10. “Obstacles on our path are some of the tests of life. They make us stronger, better people and open up doors we had never imagined.”

  11. “Whatever you do, be gentle. People might have forgiven your harsh words but they may never forget how it stabbed their heart at that time!”

  12. “Don't be distracted by the noise going on. Pause & reflect. You'll realize how much time you've wasted on all that nonsense around you.”

  13. “No matter how detached you feel when you pray, don’t let go of the link. It’s your path back to the Almighty. Keep at it.”

  14. “If your heart is always content, then you are the same as or even better than he who has everything in this world.”

  15. “Life’s a constant struggle. Always try to do better. When others make mistakes, don’t look down on them. Help them up with your wisdom.”

  16. “We want to make the world a better place but we are not prepared to improve ourselves.”

  17. “Have faith. Have hope.”

  18. “A negative mind will interpret the most positive messages negatively but a positive mind extracts the best, even from a negative message.”

  19. “Do good deeds purely for the Almighty. Don’t expect recognition, congratulations or gratitude from anyone. Seek your rewards from Him alone.”

  20. “Tonight before you get into bed, say a prayer for those without a bed, without a roof above their head, clothing or a morsel with which to be fed.”

  21. “Never utter mean words out of anger. Your anger will pass. But your mean words can scar a person for life. So use kind words or be silent.”

The Perfect Long Sleeve Maxi Dress – Where to Find Them

Photo from @Kabayare on Instagram

The perfect maxi dress doesn’t exist…or does it? As a Muslim who wears the hijab, it is oddly difficult to shop, like anywhere. Especially in 2020. But with the rise of female Muslim entrepreneurs who are taking over the modest fashion scene on the internet, there are now more places to shop online and it has effectively influenced the huge retailers to recognize the need for modest fashion attire.

We are starting to see higher necklines, longer hemlines, longer sleeves, and a longer cut. The stigma was always that modest fashion is an oxymoron and that you can’t look good and be covered, but there IS a way to do both. There are now brands that design around not showing too much skin, and aligning with our faith, personal comfort, and choice. Brands like Inayah have endless designs that make dressing modest look effortless.

In the past, shopping for modest fashion typically meant an abaya or cultural wedding attire. It was more difficult to find every day modest fashion for a brunch date with friends or everyday modest workwear. It has now become mainstream as retailers began cashing in on the trend. And while much of modest fashion is geared towards women of faith, it extends to those who prefer it for other reasons, as well – often as simple as comfort.

Where to Shop

Instagram has definitely become the go-to for a lot of younger people’s fashion trends and must-have looks. The platform now houses thousands of clothing brands, and there are so many female-led fashion brands out there that definitely bring style and class to the modest fashion game!

Types of Long Sleeve Maxi Dresses

There are many types of maxi dresses out there, but not a lot of long sleeve ones. Just like every girl needs the perfect black dress, most modest fashion lovers believe they need the perfect black long sleeve maxi dress! Brands like Asos or Boohoo know to make the modest style black dresses look comfortable and stylish all at the same time.

If you're looking for an everyday work hijab-friendly outfit or a day out with the ladies, check out Kabayare's website for gorgeous finds that can go with any look, for any occasion!

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Top favorite colors🥰

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Original milk silk maxi dresses😍

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They also have beautiful evening looks that are stunning, with hijabs to go along with them.

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Loveeeee this dress😍💘

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There are also Instagram popular brands that have long sleeve satin maxi dresses available for those who want to keep it modest but slightly formal. Those would look great for a nice daytime event that might include an impromptu photoshoot #ootd

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@cmelisacm9 #hijabfashion

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If you're looking for a red maxi dress with long sleeves, and that's satin for a beautiful night out (whoa, how?) then take a look at Niswafashion on Instagram.

There are also gorgeous more formal modest-friendly dresses that are absolutely stunning. Check out this long sleeve sequin and beaded maxi dress that is absolutely breathtaking by Khanaan on Instagram.

For those women who are pregnant and want to look and feel their best, there is a brand that tailors to those very needs. Maternity photo shoots doing have to look so mundane anymore! Check out Basma's gorgeous Modanisa maxi dress.

Here are a few other ideas for you to get creative with looks for moms-to-be:

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Tag a mummy to be! ❤️ #pregnantstyle

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There are also a few fan favourites available on Amazon and Ebay for those living in rural communities.


Be sure to check out the brands featured in this article and let us know what you think! Continue the conversation in our Forum page.

5 Bullet Friday: 5 Things I’ve Been Loving, Using, and Reading – Hijab Forum

Photo by Nicola Fioravanti on Unsplash

Welcome to this week’s edition of 5 Bullet Friday! Every Friday, I post an exclusive blog post with the 5 coolest things I found, I'm doing, or quote I’m pondering that week. It could also include exclusive giveaways or a chance to interact with me, books, gadgets, articles, new hacks or tips, and - of course - all sorts of random stuff I dig up around the world.

What I’m Doing - This week I tried to maximize the time I spend in the morning before leaving for work. I usually wake up at 7 am, and literally just lay in bed scrolling on my phone. Let’s not lie to ourselves, when we do this it’s usually to get trapped in the Instagram/Twitter/Snapchat trilogy that never ends. That is until you realize what time it is (7:57 am - yes, that happened) and you jump out of bed only to rush getting ready and head out the door with no breakfast or a packed lunch. 

So this week I tried something new. Before I went to bed every night I set my alarm for 6:55 am, put my phone on silent, and plugged it in the charger away from my bed on the dresser. I did this to essentially force me to get out of bed to turn off my alarm and by that time I’m out of the comfort of my warm and cozy bed and already standing and wearing my robe. Guess who had their morning coffee and breakfast all week? This girl!

Purchase I’m Enjoying - anybody with a toddler will tell you it can get overwhelming and EXHAUSTING. Especially when you are doing a road trip for more than 2 hours. We decided to buy our 2-year-old an Amazon Fire Tablet. It was incredibly cheaper than an iPad and does the same things I need it to do. We downloaded child-friendly apps that have increased his vocabulary and writing skills by drawing his ABCs. 

To keep the screen from cracking when he obviously tries to smash it on the floor when he’s done playing with it, we purchased both a protective case and a screen protector. He has dropped it more times than I can count or would like to admit, but it is still in perfect condition! Totally loving this.

What I’m Listening To - If you’re a podcast fanatic like I am, take a listen to Mufti Menk’s podcast. He has great episodes on topics such as dealing with doubts, family values, and the effects of irresponsible speech - which I loved hearing about. He also does series that are super insightful, and he had a great one last Ramadan that focused on various topics and linked them back to fasting. 

What I’m Reading - So, a new year obviously brings new year’s resolutions. One of my goals this year was to try to spend less and save more. I picked up Ramit Sethi’s book I Will Teach You to Be Rich. It has great tips for spending wisely and not having to give up purchasing the things you love.

I highly recommend getting a physical copy instead of listening to the audiobook because there will be sections that won’t necessarily be relatable to you. I personally skipped over the topics that dealt with interest. It’s also nice to have a reference guide handy when you want a refresher.

Quote I'm Pondering - “Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see.” - Rene Magritte

And those are my 5 random and interesting tidbits of the week. Make sure you stop by every Friday for another drop of my 5 Bullet Friday posts!

5 Bullet Friday: Top Successful Tips to Kick Off the New Year – Hijab Forum

Photo by M.T ElGassier on Unsplash

5 Bullet Friday - Let Go of the Past and Kick Off the New Year with These Top 5 Successful Tips 


1.De-clutter Both Figuratively and Literally - By mentally letting go of things you can’t change or control, and freeing your mind from the things or places that cause you physical and mental stress, you will feel so much lighter and happier. 

To physically de-clutter and clean out your home or personal space, I personally love these organizers from Amazon foldable storage cubes because their not too big so they don’t take up too much space, but they’re also not too small where they won’t fit random things like clean socks, or underwear. 

To get my home to be dust-free and free from small crumbs, (side note: being a mom of a 2 year old, you’d be surprised at how many items your child can find that can’t be seen with the naked eye!) I love having my iRobot take care of all the night time sweeping duties and get rid of any dust particles on the ground. It may be a little expensive, but it literally just runs around the house when you turn it on and once it's done, it parks itself back on it’s charger. 

2.Set Small Realistic Goals - like really small. I mean what you’re going to do from 7am to 7:30am, and so on. The reason behind this is that when the goal can be achieved in as little as 30 minutes, you are more likely to get it done and feel motivated to cross it off your to-do list. You obviously know what your ultimate goal is - finish an essay, complete a project for example, but what I have trouble doing is breaking the goal down into mini goals. Once I started doing that, it felt like I got more done than I expected and it usually turns out better than I thought!

3.Download an App to Help Me to Not Miss a Prayer - We all know the basis of being a Muslim is praying our 5 salats, but what happens when we genuinely forget or miss it because we were in the middle of something? By having apps that send you notifications to your phone, it will be easier to keep track of your prayers and to remind you of prayer times. They also play the Athaan if you allow your settings to do so.

4.Cleanse Your Body - just like you plan to cleanse your mind. I have already talked about the many great effects of celery juice, but you can also juice other fruits or veggies. I recently bought a new juicer The Breville Juice Fountain Cold Juicer, but there are cheaper great alternatives like the Amazon best seller by Aicok. If you want more information on celery juice, definitely check out the man who made celery juice the great discovery it is today, Medical Medium also known as Anthony Williams’ book on celery juice.

5.What I’m Reading - For everyone trying to start a social media channel or an online business but are too scared or don’t know where to start, I highly recommend checking out Crushing It by Gary Vanderchuck  he also has an amazing podcast called The GaryVee Audio Experience where he gives out amazing tips and talks to new entrepreneurs as well as established CEOs. 

And those are my 5 random and interesting tidbits of the week. Make sure you stop by every Friday for another drop of my 5 Bullet Friday posts!

My Personal Doctoral Experience with Muslim Women Patients and Why It Is Important to Respect Ethical and Moral Choices


As I entered my clinic, I grabbed a disposable glass and filled it with cold water from the dispenser. The scorching heat of peak summer was intense. I asked the assistant to send the first patient from the waiting room. She was a Muslim woman with a hijab. My job has allowed me to see a variety of people. However, I found that Muslim women with hijab, with demeanour no less than that of the most virtuous historical figures, were rather intriguing yet mysterious. I wonder how no obstacles hinder her choice of opting hijab as a dress code. It makes me hit the motivation to go for what my heart says, saying no to the societal pressures. I mean, it must not have been easier for them to observe the head covering in a non-Muslim society.

Upon her consent of a personal question, I asked her about her hijab and whether it was not too hot for her in this extreme heat of summer. The heatwave has been affecting everyone, or so I thought. She responded by quoting an ayat, which translated to ‘the fire of Hell is fiercer than this heat.’ Her persevering reply and firm attitude amazed me.

It is these scarf-wearing observant Muslims that challenge me to know more about their religion and its belief system specifically about modesty.

The intellect of the hijabi women has been so obvious. Their behaviour depicts piousness and purity. I found that these women are calmer and were significantly less panicked in emergency medical situations.

When a practising Muslim patient denies getting examined by a male doctor, it becomes an awkward position for both parties – patient and medical staff. The most recommended practical way to approach such a scenario is to be clear. A lady must speak up about what her boundaries are! Doctors should understand the need for extra privacy for observant Muslim patients. On the other hand, Muslims should not be vague facing such circumstances.

Mostly women quote that it is relatively easy for her in the home country to visit a doctor. There, she may deny any male medical person to treat her, and her denial will not be frowned upon. Rather, they said it is accepted as a norm. However, the case may not be the same in some western countries. Depending upon who is on duty at the hour of your visit, there may be not an option of calling a female staff.

So, in such a scenario, the Muslim women have two options. The first option I discussed above that is to verbalize their preference. Another option is to simply ignore it. Tough as it may sound, nothing is better than preferring your wellbeing and comfort! If there is a genuine medical reason, you can’t do much about covering up because it would hinder medical help.

I remember once I faced such a tough situation where a Muslim hijabed patient was uncomfortable. When brought to the ER, I choose to request for her implied consent. I assured her no one would treat or touch her without her permission. Such a basic courteous act brought her immense contentment. She verbally approved getting treatment from the available staff as no other option of a female nurse was available. Later she told me that religiously, one’s health should be the first concern. The remainder of the visit made it easier for her to go through an awkward or uncomfortable situation.

As a doctor, I endorse whether you as Muslim women who are consulting a dermatologist, pulmonologist, or for that matter any male medical professional, to take a minute or two to ensure the clarity of your belief system regarding direct exposure of a portion of the body to a male. While I immensely respect the observant Muslim community, some hospital protocols simply cannot accommodate their no male request.

Many Muslim patients I came across are shy to discuss their choice of wearing the hijab. Do not, I repeat, do not feel that way. We feel it is the need to be educated and aware of the obstacle hijabi ladies are facing.

Now, you may feel encouraged all the way to explain yourself to medical practitioners. It is all about spreading awareness. Remember, if you talk to me about your hijab, it will increase my knowledge, which in turn will ease out problems of the next hijabi patient.

Remember, in the ethics of medicine; a medical student is taught to have consent for treatment. So, I, or any other doctor, are not going to treat you without your consent. You may verbally deny, and professionals will not frown upon your choice. However, if I am not denied and the patient expresses uneasiness later, it may me feel unethical and uneasy.

My suggestion to all hijabi ladies is to decide what best suits them. They have the choice of scheduling appointments with female doctors when and where possible. The fact is particularly applicable to when visiting gynaecologists. This suggestion is because the foremost obstacle comes to a hijabi lady when delivering a baby. An expecting woman should be at ease to discuss anything. As pregnancy already brings many tricky situations, one must feel super comfortable while being examined by a doctor.

It may not be humanly possible to entertain every such request due to managerial limitations, but I would suggest trying your best and then leave the final course of action to take its natural flow. On the other hand, hospital management should be flexible enough to be respectful and professionally considerate towards women’s choice of religious beliefs. As a doctor, I feel it is my ethical responsibility living in a multicultural community that I must reasonably explain any possible approval or disapproval of requests the patients feel understood and concerned about.

I personally feel that health care professionals are judged upon. Most of the people assume we won’t be accommodating feel the opposite. The judgment is not generally applicable to all of us. Believe me, we respect your decision and do not feel like intervening your choices. Our job is to give you health care to the best of our abilities. Most health care professionals are willing to accommodate the patient’s privacy needs. However, few may be reluctant to assess any such evaluation. Also, all Muslims are not strictly practising so that might cause confusion. Still, no one should be judged upon the way they choose to observe their beliefs.

How to Budget and Save More of Your Money: A Guide for Muslims Without the Interest


How to Budget and Save More of Your Money: A Guide for Muslims Without the Interest


What is a budget?

You may be asking yourself what is a budget? A budget in simple terms is a plan for your money. We have all heard the saying - if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. John Maxwell said it best when he said a budget is simply telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went. That is all great in theory but what about the practicality?

As a Muslim, we know the effects of utilizing interest when dealing with our finances. But living in this day and age in more modern countries around the world, it is almost impossible to achieve big purchases without dealing with interest. Credit cards, student loans, and mortgages are just three obvious things that come with interest and it is hard to find ways around it at times.

To help find halal ways to save more of your money practically are hard to find online. We created this blog post to help find you ways to save effectively and spend your money wisely no matter where you are in your financial journey.

Establish your budget:

In this blog, we will show you how to do a real budget with real numbers that goes beyond the philosophy and involves real-life application. In practical terms, budget means sitting down every single month to determine your income; what amount of money is coming in and when is it coming in; and taking a look at every single expense from your rent or your mortgage all the way down to your daily trip through the drive-through for that morning cup of coffee. You need to know how much your expenses are and when those expenses need to be paid.

So, let's not just talk about it and let me show you how it is done.

Create a worksheet

First step: set up a template. You can use Google Spreadsheets for your monthly budget. You can also use Excel, or simply draw one on a piece of paper.

There are three rules for budgeting, in no particular order:

  • Assign every single dollar and penny to a column
  • Set up automatic withdrawals for the fixed or regular monthly bills

Include everything

While setting your personalized budget, be sure to cover every category of income and expenses in greater detail. It’s important to know EXACTLY how much money we have coming in when it is coming in. Make the categories as personal to you as possible so there aren’t too many things in the miscellaneous column or category.

Prioritize your expenses

It is so important to list your expenses in the order of priority. If you don't prioritize things like food or gas for the car, you’ll find yourself dipping into funds that aren’t really yours – aka credit cards.


To prioritize your expenses, take a look at your necessities and differentiate them from non-necessities; needs vs wants. A few examples of needs include rent or mortgage payments, groceries, toiletries, and medication. Next, are some more necessities like utilities and transportation. Alternatively, non-necessities or wants are items that we don’t absolutely require but they are nice to have around, for instance, a new car, better furniture, home décor items, jewellery or antique artwork etc.

Look for unusual items

Take a look at the miscellaneous category and determine if there is anything special happening in the month that you need to shop for? Is there a birthday or an anniversary coming up, or a holiday that you need to prepare for? These items can go under the miscellaneous category because they aren’t repeating items every month. You can also further breakdown this category into columns such as gifts, birthdays, anniversary, etc.

Adopt the 50/30/20 rule

Follow 50/30/20 rule proposed by Senator Elizabeth Warren in her book “All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan”. Her basic rule is that at the time of budgeting and personal financial planning, you should allocate 50% of your income to basic necessities, 30% of it to your wants or luxuries and 20% of income should be saved for future purposes.

“Save money and money will save you”

Once you budget all your income and expenses, the next step is to saving money. It can be very difficult to actually save the money that has no real category and we often misinterpret that as money that can be used for any purpose.

Taking the leftover funds you have after the fixed items on your budget have been paid and putting them into a savings account, you can The process of thinking about it can be easy but actually doing it and seeing that money in your account piling up can be much more difficult.

Pre-requisites for saving money

Dave Ramsey has a golden rule when it comes to saving money. His very first step is to have an emergency fund of at least $1000. He also encourages paying off all your debts prior to saving anything else.

There are a couple of initial things that you do before considering saving money:

  1. Set overall broad goals to understand where you want to be 6 months from now, 5 years from now and 20 years from now. Have a general idea of the amount of money you want to save. Do you want to buy or upgrade to a new vehicle or are you saving money to pay for family vacations? Do you want to save money towards a down payment on a home or do you just want to have a nice cushion of cash saved up so that you are not struggling to pay your bills? Deciding on a ballpark range of how much you want to save and setting that goal is important to know what future plans you have and how serious you have to be about saving money in order to reach those goals.


  1. Secondly, create more specific goals. You already have those initial goals of where you want to stand financially years from now, but then you need to set these secondary and short-term goals. This step is more personable and depends on your income so be realistic with yourself. Start with small amounts and then expand as you go or as you get more experienced with budgeting and making smarter financial decisions.

Saving money from necessities

There are five different essential needs everyone has that are very important to take note of when determining your categories in your monthly expense list. They are food, shelter, health, clothing, and transportation. Even though these are needs we cannot ignore, there are great and helpful ways to cut back on these expenses.

Food - is one of the most depreciating assets you could ever imagine. This means that if you spend $20 on a meal; you eat the meal, and there is nothing left on your plate. Albeit you are full or satiated for a couple of hours, as humans we have to eat again to maintain ourselves. Reducing your monthly expense on food can be extremely effective on your ability to save more money monthly. There are various ways to do this:

  • Meal prep numerous meals for work or events
  • Make your own coffee/tea/refreshments at home
  • Buy canned and non-perishable foods to extend the expiration date and shelf-life
  • Buy store brand products and avoid the commercial brands if there are cheaper alternatives with the same or similar ingredients
  • Reduce the number of meals you eat at restaurants or for take out

Bonus tip: Buying frozen fruits and vegetables can further extend the expiration date of food that can easily go bad if they are not consumed.

Shelter - the cost of shelter is difficult to avoid. One of the best ways to cut the cost of your apartment or your house in half is to get a roommate or consider renting out a room in your home. There are now apps and services such as Airbnb or couch surfing. You can also cut the cost of living for yourself by reducing your utility usage or getting a lower rate on your WiFi. You could look into various companies that are offering similar products and shop around a little bit more and just because you have been using the same provider for the past 10 years, it doesn't mean that you should not look into getting a different one. Ramit Sethi has great negotiation tactics for reducing your bill payments and they have been proven to be highly effective.

Health - health is incredibly important and the best way to cut back on this is to make sure you are treating your body well. Good health is good wealth, and bad health lifestyles can cause an increase in medical bills that can potentially be avoided. Of course, we know that some illness and diagnoses cannot be avoided. However doing our part in keeping our health as a priority and avoiding eating or doing activities that can cause harm, we can potentially avoid health risks.

Clothing – The best way to cut back on the cost of clothing is to unsubscribe from all the emails from clothing providers that are spamming you with sales and discounts that you do not need at the present time! Email marketing is very effective and can influence you to buy unnecessary clothes they don’t really need. When you do need to purchase a new pair of jeans, trust me, you will know!

If you are on the market for a new clothing item such as a sweater or jacket, however, and are on a tight budget or low on funds that are not being utilized for fixed expenses, there are great and various finds at thrift stores like Goodwill or the Salvation Army.

Transportation - The average cost of operating and owning a vehicle is close to about $9,000 per year. If you live in an urban or even a suburban area, where there is some type of public transportation available, you might want to consider whether or not it is actually worth it for you to own a vehicle and how much you are using that vehicle versus taking public transportation. Most major cities have monthly passes that provide unlimited public transportation use. In some cities, it is actually cheaper to either Uber or Lyft to work and back rather than having your own vehicle to maintain.


Creating a budget is a great useful option to help provide financial stability and stay up to date with your current fixed expenses. It can also aid in knowing how much money per month you can put towards any goals or major purchases you would like to have. Saving more money can provide a financial cushion against any uncertainty in life and creates a feeling of security. Following the above easy steps can give you peace of mind and be closer to financial freedom.


Sweet Potato and Chickpea Coconut Curry: A Tasty Dish That Can Be Meal-Prepped Quickly

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Coconut Curry

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Coconut Curry

If you have a busy lifestyle, quick and nutritious meals to add to your meal prep list is a must! Sweet Potato and Chickpea Coconut Curry is an easy one-skillet curry that’s ready within 30 minutes. It is layered with so many tasty flavours and is super healthy. It’s vegan-friendly and gluten-free!

If you’re trying to stack up on more meatless meal options, this is a winner. You’ll never miss the meat because between the sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and spinach there are a lot of great textures to keep you full

Let’s talk about the flavour explosion tho! When you sauté the onions in coconut oil with minced ginger, coriander, and garlic before adding Thai red curry paste with coconut milk, soy sauce, lime, and finishing the dish with cilantro and spinach, it is amazing and extremely yummy!

This meal is wholesome, the natural sweetness from the sweet potatoes and a touch of acid from the lime, it’s the perfect blend of flavour.

The Thai red curry paste adds a smoother and richer flavour. If you have extra vegetables lying around, you can incorporate them. Bell peppers, tomatoes, or edamame with the chickpeas and coconut milk can have a veggie-centric twist to this meal as well.

So let’s jump right into the quick and easy process!



  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2-3 cups of spinach leaves
  • 2 medium/large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 cups, diced)
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons of Thai red curry paste (curry powder may be substituted)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (adjust for taste)
  • 1 cup of broth (vegetable or chicken) – you can also use water
  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas, preferably no-salt (drained and rinsed)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (olive oil may be substituted)
  • 1 large diced yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped (you can also use 2-3 teaspoons of ground ginger)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 13-ounce can coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce (adjust for taste)
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar (adjust for taste)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped for garnishing (basil may be substituted)
  • Rice, quinoa, or naan, optional for serving


  1. In a large skillet, add the oil and onion and sauté over medium-high heat until the onion begins to soften, stir regularly for about 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger, coriander, and cook for about 1 minute; stir frequently.
  3. Add the sweet potato and stir.
  4. Add the curry paste, broth or water, salt, pepper, and stir to combine. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low, and allow the mixture to boil for about 10 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are mostly tender (they do not have to be completely cooked through yet).
  5. Add the chickpeas and coconut milk, turn the heat to medium-high, and cook uncovered for about 7 to 10 minutes, or until the liquid volume has reduced as much as desired and has slightly thickened.
  6. Add the spinach, lime juice, soy sauce, and stir to combine. Cook until spinach has wilted and is tender, (about 1 to 2 minutes). Taste and optionally add brown sugar, additional curry paste, salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Evenly sprinkle with the cilantro.

The curry is best warm and fresh but will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Enjoy this tasty meal with your family and friends!



Keto and Intermittent Fasting: A Beginner’s Guide

Originally posted on HVMN Authored by Ryan Rodal


The ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting have more in common than you may believe. When combining the two practices, they may be able to synergistically work together toward common goals of fat loss and improved metabolic health.

Despite the differences in the diets, they have two big similarities: both increase ketone production and can also burn the body’s fat stores. In tandem, they may help to expedite your weight loss goals.


But where do they fit in together? Practicers of intermittent fasting are using the technique to improve weight loss, insulin sensitivity and other health biomarkers.1 The keto diet targets many of the same goals, like helping to reshape metabolism and improve body composition.

If you’re trying to decide between one or the other, why not try both at the same time? Let’s look at some of the benefits of each, and how they can work together to encourage a healthy lifestyle.

Ketosis 101

The ketogenic diet has been around for several decades but has gained increasing popularity over the last several years.2 While some diets encourage consumption of fewer calories, the ketogenic diet is based on low carbohydrate intake rather than focusing on calorie intake. Keto can be described as a low-carb, high-fat diet which induces production of ketones from fat, leading to a state of ketosis: the presence of ketones in the blood at greater than 0.5mM. This is much different than the traditional western high-carb diet.

Our bodies are biologically programed to run on a mix of carbohydrate and fat depending on what’s available.

Dietary carbohydrate gets taken up and used as energy via blood glucose (blood sugar), or it is stored as a molecule called glycogen in the liver. Glycogen is slowly released between meals to keep blood glucose energy levels stable. Once carbs are removed from the equation, the body eventually learns to use alternative fuel sources for energy as glycogen stores are depleted.

There are two ways to induce ketosis. The first, called endogenous ketosis, is when ketosis is triggered through diet or fasting. In this case, the body is making its own ketones, meaning the body is ketogenic. It can take days of fasting or weeks of dieting to achieve endogenous ketosis.

The ketogenic diet is often misconstrued by the masses as a high-fat diet that features bacon, butter, and oil as its main components. While you may choose to indulge in these particular types of foods, the main attribute of keto is that it requires dieters to consume little to no net carbs. If you’re on keto, you should aim for a carb intake around 50g per day—a really low amount.

The second was to induce ketosis is called exogenous ketosis. This means that ketones are introduced to the body from an external source, from ketone supplements like HVMN Ketone. This body is still in ketosis (because its blood ketone levels are elevated) but it’s not ketogenic (because the body isn’t producing its own ketones).

A man shooting a basketball with icons of a gear, a stomach, a scale and a toned body, representing the benefits of ketosis

Increasing Ketone Levels

Several supplements exist on the market to raise blood ketones through exogenous means. The goal with these types of products is to spur a faster, deeper ketosis without the need to diet or fast.

There are medium chain triglycerides, or MCT oils, which are a special type of fat found naturally in coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and butterfat. They do not contain ketones, instead of possessing a fat that’s readily converted to ketones. While there are many MCTs on the market, it's best to find one without artificial ingredients, and one that's low-carb (to help you maintain ketosis). HVMN MCT Oil Powder is pure C8—the world’s most ketogenic fat. It’s 100% natural with no additives, no artificial ingredients, and zero net carbs.

Then there are ketone salts. Ketone levels rise marginally after using salts, from about 0.6mM - 1mm.3,4 And often, a high mineral intake is necessary to raise ketone levels, leading to GI issues and concern around the safety of long term high salt intake.

Finally, there are exogenous ketone esters. HVMN Ketone is the world’s first exogenous ketone ester drink and can raise blood ketone levels up to 3mM - 6mM.3,5,6,7 It’s used by professional athletes, the US military and was even used to break a cycling world record.

The choice between relying on exogenous or endogenous ketosis depends on your health and performance goals.

Although endogenous ketosis from the keto diet is a great recipe for weight loss, there are several other potential benefits of ketosis as well.8,9 Other benefits include:

  • Improved mental focus10
  • Better satiation11
  • Ability to control diabetes12
  • Better cholesterol readings13

Interestingly, the body and brain can both use ketones as energy (like glucose). That’s why there are subjective reports of increased focus and less brain fog from keto dieters and people using exogenous ketones.

These are also some of the subjective feelings reported by intermittent fasters, likely due to the increased ketone levels from carb-depletion.

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Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is exactly what it sounds like: not eating for a certain period of time. On the surface, cutting out meals for a set period of time seems beautifully simple. But new research is advancing our knowledge of the best timing for meals and the helpful changes to our biology that occur during fasting.

Science Behind Intermittent Fasting

When you consume carbohydrates, the pancreas begins to release insulin-triggering carb uptake and storage.

Virtually every meal we eat triggers a metabolic response in our body.

Carbohydrates in our food (and to a lesser extent, protein) trigger the release of the hormone. The insulin, in turn, tells the body to store any excess energy as glycogen or as fat for later use. Some of the fat is stored in the liver, but most of it becomes fat deposits in the body. Insulin also switches off the processes that release fat from fat deposits, meaning that fat is going into storage and not used as fuel.

When you practice intermittent fasting, on the other hand, energy intake is lower, insulin levels begin to fall and fat burning increases.

By increasing the amount of time the body is in a fasted state, there will be more time for the body to tap into stored energy. Across evolution, most species would regularly enter a fasted state. Predators tend to eat larger portions at one given time and may not consume food for several days. There is nothing wrong with occasionally fasting for longer periods of time and it actually has several health benefits (but of course, consult your doctor before doing this).

Caloric Restriction

Simply put, restricting the amount of calories you consume will put the body into a fasted state.

There is a common belief that skipping a meal is bad for your metabolism or overall health. Truth is, we’re seeing more data support the idea of restricted eating. The three-meals-a-day convention has been standard in American diets for decades. But obesity has increased. Diabetes and pre-diabetes have also increased.

Obviously, something isn’t working.

In studies performed on animals,14 those in a fasted state had longer lifespans compared to those that did not fast. It seems the benefits of fasting can not only be seen short term but over the course of a lifetime as well.

An interesting diet that mimics fasting is called the Prolon Diet. The idea is to really decrease insulin release while still providing nutrients. It’s a low-protein, low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet with calorie intake ranging from 770 - 1,100 calories per day. Studies have shown a fast-mimicking diet can improve biomarkers for aging, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.15,16

A woman eating a bowl of fruit showing the benefits of intermittent fasting

Advantages of Intermittent Fasting

Besides benefits for body composition or weight loss, there are a number of advantages that accompany intermittent fasting.

  • Easier to manage than traditional dieting: Preparing a single (or a couple, depending on your feeding window) meals per day is logistically easier than preparing several meals from a time management standpoint. Plus, intermittent fasting saves you the headache of rigorous meal prepping or finding foods that comply with a specific diet
  • Decrease in fat mass: Individuals who practised intermittent fasting showed a decrease in fat mass while maintaining muscle mass and strength15
  • Longevity: Studies have shown that populations who fast on a regular basis can appear to have increased longevity.17 A study was performed on rats that ate only once per day and it found that compared to other groups, those rats had a longer lifespan regardless of the amount of food consumed17,18
  • Improved health and metabolism: Metabolic health may be improved with fasting by way of circadian biology, gut microbiome, and modifiable lifestyle behaviors, such as sleep. Research has shown that intermittent fasting may help improve blood lipids, glycemic control, control insulin levels, decrease blood pressure, and decrease inflammation19,20
  • Boost brain health: Fasting robustly is a strong trigger for neurogenesis and beta-hydroxybutyrate (or BHB, one of the three ketone bodies), which can trigger the release of brain growth factors21
  • Speed up endurance adaptation: Fasting promotes pathways involved in fat metabolism, which may help endurance performance—for example, growth of new mitochondria
  • Reduced risk of diabetes: Through intermittent fasting, reduced insulin resistance can help those with type 2 diabetes lower blood glucose levels and improve blood sugar. Intermittent fasting can also decrease inflammation

Practical Application of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting has been a cultural pillar at HVMN. Employees regularly participate in intermittent fasting and have cited more productivity as one of its benefits, along with the absence of daily slumps associated with spikes in insulin from eating carbs. But it’s not just employees at HVMN who fast—it’s an ancient tradition with many variances in schedules.

Unlike many other diets, intermittent fasting deals not with what you eat, but rather when you eat.

This dietary convention is all about timing rather than eating certain varieties of food. When you choose to partake in intermittent fasting, you are eating within a certain window of time. By forcing the body to stay in a fasted state for a longer period of time, the body will turn to fat stores to use for energy (since it doesn’t have carbs).

The body stores way more fat than carbohydrates, and will eventually learn to tap into those fat stores for energy. Simply choosing to eat in certain windows of time can have a positive long term effect on your body composition and overall health.22 Your body fat can decrease as well.

There are different variations of intermittent fasting, so it is not a one size fits all type of practice.

Eating Windows

The most common method of intermittent fasting is choosing certain times for food intake (sometimes called “feeding hours”).

You may choose to eat over a four, six, or eight-hour window. This means you only eat during this particular timeframe and the remaining hours of the day are spent fasting.

Some people fast for 16-hour periods, eating only between the hours of 12pm - 8pm, and not eating outside of that timeframe. Some do a 24-hour fast every week. Some of the most dedicated intermittent fasters will do a 36-hour fast every week. Employees at HVMN even did a seven-day fast.

Here are a couple of ways to work eating windows and fasting windows into your normal eating schedule:

  • Four-hour window: First meal of the day at 3:00pm and the last meal of the day is consumed by 7:00pm
  • Six-hour window: First meal of the day at 2:00pm and the last meal of the day is eaten by 8:00pm
  • Eight-hour window: First meal of the day is at 12:00pm and the last meal is enjoyed by 8:00pm

Some people may take their fasts a step further and may choose to only eat once per day. This becomes a 24-hour (or near 24-hour) fast. You should use your sleeping hours to your advantage, almost like free fasting time (unless you’re sleep-eating). A common way to do this is to consume your last meal at 8pm, then wait to eat until 8pm the following day. Often, this is referred to as one-meal-a-day or OMAD fasting.

Regardless of the eating window, the total caloric intake for the day should remain the same.

Some may argue that there are advantages to having a longer period of fasting, but your choice of eating window is entirely up to you. The best fasting protocol is the one that you stick to. Find a way to work this into your everyday schedule for the best, most consistent results.

Water Fasts

It’s supremely important to stay hydrated while you fast. Though, some fasters consume only water during both shorter and longer fasts. Another popular beverage choice during a fast is black coffee, but this can be seen as a crutch because it reduces appetite.

Alternate day fasting (ADF) is a form of intermittent fasting but takes a bit more of an extreme approach: no food for 24 hours every other day. However, alternate schedules allow for 500 calories to be consumed on fasting days, which have shown to be easier to stick with.23,24,25

No matter the protocol, ADF diets have shown positive results for weight loss.26Interestingly, studies in animals showed that ADF may modulate risk factors for chronic disease, and can help retain muscle mass in humans (something of a concern with fasting).27,28

Longer water fasts can last anywhere from 36 hours to several days.

Studies in both animals and humans have suggested water fasts can have health benefits.

Most cited benefits include stimulating autophagy and reducing the risk of chronic disease.29,30,15 With these longer fasts—and really, fasting in general—always consult your doctor.

Bringing Keto and Intermittent Fasting Together

The ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting tap into similar metabolic pathways and so they should be able to work together synergistically.

An image of a wristwatch and an avocado, representing the bringing together of keto and intermittent fasting

The obvious juxtaposition: keto is a form of long-term dieting with a specific macronutrient target, that therefore restricts what types of foods you eat. Intermittent fasting occurs in the short term and restricts only when you can eat—with no macro-rules in the eating windows.

However, as explored earlier with low-protein, high-fat, low-carb diets, focusing on keto during the eating windows may prolong the helpful metabolic pathways invoked by fasting. An interesting application is Peter Attia’s “Nothingburger,” in which he conducted a week-long fast between two weeks of nutritional ketosis.

Both dieting methods can work toward the same goal: use fat stores for energy and put the body in a state of ketosis. Both deplete the body of glucose. If you’re intermittent fasting, it may be able to put you into a state of ketosis more quickly than dieting alone.

Very few studies look at keto and intermittent fasting together. However, as our understanding of the biology supporting both deepens, we can see clear synergies; this illustrates the two together can be a good combination.

Starting a Keto and Intermittent Fasting Hybrid Diet

Although starting a hybrid type of diet sounds complicated, it can be simplified very easily. Here’s a look at what a single day might look like if you’re on keto and intermittent fasting. Follow these steps for an example keto meal plan that could be employed while intermittent fasting.

6:00am: Wake up, drink water and/or black coffee.

9:00am: Drink another cup of coffee if you’re feeling especially hungry or low on energy.

12:00pm: Begin eating window with eight ounces of chicken breast and a salad with olive oil dressing and feta cheese. Other lunch additions include hard-boiled eggs, salmon, and avocado.

3:00pm: Snack on a handful of almonds and some blueberries.

6:00pm: Eat eight ounces of fish accompanied by vegetables like Brussels sprouts, string beans or asparagus.

8:00pm: Blueberries or nuts as dessert, for the final food consumed of the day.

If you’re considering a week of intermittent fasting interspersed with your keto diet, here’s what that week might look like.

Monday: Feeding hours between noon - 8pm. If you exercise on Mondays, try a midday workout when you’re fully fueled. Enjoy your last meal at 8pm. Keto meals might include a smoked salmon and avocado plate, or a steak and sweet potato dinner.

Tuesday: Fasting day. No calories consumed until 8pm.

Wednesday: Try a fasted workout in the morning. Begin eating at noon—you’ll probably be hungry. Reward yourself with a big chicken BLT salad for lunch and cheese omelette for dinner.

Thursday: No workouts, no all-day fasting. Since energy requirements are less on these days, begin eating at noon and try a turkey, cheese and avocado wrap for lunch, then salmon and asparagus for dinner.

Friday: Maybe the fasted workout didn’t go your way. Today, try a workout later in the day, planning your last 8pm meal as one high in protein. Try roasted chicken paired with creamy broccoli.

Saturday and Sunday: Here is another opportunity to try an extended fast, if you’re feeling up for it. But if you’re working out, ensure to properly fuel until you fully become fat-adapted. Maybe a nice long run outside is an option here. And use Sundays to meal prep, making the rest of the week easier!

This is an extremely simplified version, but starting this style of diet does not have to be complicated. Eat keto-friendly foods in a predetermined window. In this case the standard eight-hour eating window was followed, however, you may choose to follow a shorter eating window if so desired.

A timeline of keto and intermittent fasting; images of water, coffee, a salad, almonds, asparagus and blueberries associated with when to eat them

Tying it All Together

Keto dieting and intermittent fasting can go hand-in-hand when done correctly. Both should encourage the body to enter a state of endogenous ketosis, and hopefully, boost the results.

But remember—this is a process. It’ll take a bit of time to find out the best schedule that fits your lifestyle. Don’t be afraid to experiment and adapt. The best diet plan is the one that you’re able to stick to.

Have you tried intermittent fasting combined with keto? Share your experience in the comments.

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