Get ‘er done

I am a morning person. I love waking up, enjoying a well-prepared breakfast, and doing something productive all before I “need to” start my day. That way, at the end of the night I am less rushed and can really appreciate unwinding.

However, even with the best of intentions and maximized productivity, there are just some days (or weeks) where the work never seems to stop piling up. Enter the concept of semester finals.

In my attempts to survive a battery of exams, I have been even more dedicated to my “up and at ’em” mentality. There is no time to waste when finals threaten!

For the most part, I am temporarily able to concede my nighttime routine of relaxation in front of the TV or a few chapters from a school unrelated book. I know that a break awaits me as soon as I survive the tests.

The one thing I am unwilling to compromise on is getting in my exercise. This is the single time of the day where I make myself put away all books, flashcards and study guides.

No matter how busy or overwhelmed I may feel, if I simply allow myself some time running on the treadmill or unwinding in yoga, I will be more productive in the long run.

Not to mention that I am more pleasant to be around!

With my days often turning into non-stop sequences of events, I have found that the most reliable time to work out is usually first thing in the morning. That way, throughout the rest of my crazy day, I am able to have a little bit of the sense of calm I derive only from working out.

The only problem with working out first thing in the morning is deciding what to eat. There is a delicate balance between needing to have something in the stomach, and going overboard.

To find the pre-workout breakfast right for me, I’ve gone through a series of trial-and-error (Tip: just say “no” to a bowl of milk and cereal). My go-to is half a banana, but when my grumbling stomach demands something a little more filling, I turn to a reliable second choice: a segment of a bar.

Even just a quarter of the bar is enough to boost my energy and carry me through a workout, without uncomfortable feelings of being weighed down.

Just a quarter of a "Kashi: Go Lean! Chewy" bar is enough to carry me through a moderate workout.

I am always ready for a more satiating breakfast post-workout. Still a bit crunched for time (albeit it feeling relatively calm, thanks to the workout), I usually seek out an easy-to-assemble option. This is where my pumpkin pancakes, frozen with brilliant foresight, come into play. I dress them up with some thawed blueberries, pumpkin seeds, and just a little sugar-free syrup… good to go!

Pumpkin Pancakes

Pre-made, frozen, and then toasted pumpkin pancakes are just the boost I need during the chaos of finals!


  • Whole-wheat pancake mix
  • Eggs, applesauce, milk (according to directions with pancake mix)
  • Canned pumpkin
  • Add-ins: Cinnamon chips, toasted pumpkin seeds, crasins, etc.


  • Prepare pancake mix according to directions (I sub applesauce for oil).
  • Add ~1/2 canned pumpkin for a serving of 6-8 pancakes.
  • Mix in optional add-ins and allow the batter to rest for at least 10 minutes.
  • Cook on a greased griddle with medium-high heat for approximately 5 minutes each side.

With blueberries and pumpkin seeds… now that sounds like a 4.0 GPA to me!
With a start like that, how could I not dominate finals?!


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