09-10-2014

Health & Fitness Links To Get You Through The Day

It’s finally getting cooler out – my favorite season is upon us!

Last week was crazy, thankfully think week has slowed down a bit though I’m still busy with work, coaching and my own business. But I’m so pumped for this weekend. I’m seeing Luke Bryan on Friday and there is a big Rutgers football game on Saturday against Penn State. 

What are you all up to this weekend? Is it here yet??

Here are your links for today :)

Featured: 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Running (Happy Fit Mama)

10-Things-I-wish-I-knew-before-I-started-running-happyfitmama.com_-1024x1024These are all great points. If you’re just starting to run, check this out! My favorite: never say never when it comes to running a marathon. I always said, “Omg I would NEVER run a marathon that is way too far!” Yup…

  • Support Chickens (Dare You To) – After I saw a PETA documentary on chicken farming, I think about it every time I buy chicken at the grocery store. Label to look for? “Certified Humane.” 
  • Crockpot Salsa Chicken (Hungry Mother Runner) – With cooler weather comes all sorts of things you can make in your crockpot! Definitely saving this recipe.
  • College Football Workout (Kate Moving Forward) – A great way to get in a workout while watching football. Who’s excited football season is back??
  • Zucchini Noodle Salad With Creamy Avocado Dressing (Eat Spin Run Repeat) – I have been loving zucchini noodles lately. Never thought to add an egg and avocado – need to try this!

Will you be watching football this weekend? What game?

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08-19-2014

13 Quick & Easy Dinner Recipes

So I’m actually moving out today…I’ll be on my own for the first time since college! I’m kind of sad actually…but there comes a time where we all have to move out right? 

Since I will now be responsible for cooking all my meals, I figured this post was very fitting. As I’m writing this, I’m already hungry for lunch, and seeing these recipes only made me hungrier. All of these should take you about 30 minutes to make. What could be better than that?? Looking for these recipes also turned me on to some new blogs. You’ll see multiple recipes from some bloggers…can’t wait to start trying more recipes! 

quick-dinner-recipes

1. California Chicken Wrap (Love Bakes Good Cakes)

2. Italian Prosciutto Panini (I Eat Therefore I Cook)

3. Orange & Honey Seared Salmon (Lori’s Culinary Creations)

4. Buffalo Ranch Chicken Wrap (Second Chance To Dream)

5. Korean Ground Beef Lettuce Wraps (Hot Eats & Cool Reads)

6. Jalapeno Cheddar Salmon Burgers (I Eat Therefore I Cook)

7. Personal Mediterranean Pizza (Second Chance To Dream)

8. Pork & Bok Choy Stir Fry (Food Done Light)

9. Bangin’ Beef & Broccoli (The Vintage Modern Wife)

10. Asian Couscous Salmon (Avocado Pesto)

11. Turkey Picatta Meatballs (I Eat Therefore I Cook)

12. Sweet Potato & Chickpea Salad (Avocado Pesto)

13. Simple Shrimp Scampi (I Eat Therefore I Cook)

Which of these do you want to try? I am craving that California Chicken Wrap as my lunch today! I may try to re-create it when I get home ;)

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08-06-2014

Revisiting IIFYM

Last year, I wrote a post on the If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) diet and what my thoughts were on it.

During that time, I think IIFYM was still gaining traction in the fitness community. Now, I see it everywhere. Just search #IIFYM on Instagram and you’ll come up with hundreds of posts.

Initially, I was not a fan of this. As I mentioned in my original post, an article that I had read on IIFYM stated that

How can a burger from McDonalds be equivalent to a meal of chicken, brown rice and cashews? It’s quite simple, your body does not recognize whether the food your eating is ‘clean’ or ‘junk’. It will only recognize food’s for it’s nutrients, such as proteins, fats or carbohydrates.

 

Hmm…I don’t buy it. But that’s just me. I don’t see how eating something from McDonald’s can be the same thing as chicken and vegetables. I get that they may have the same macronutrients, but what about the preservatives and chemicals in that burger?

But at the same time, I do like the IIFYM way of thinking. While I don’t think fast food and actual food are comparable, I like the premise behind this way of eating.

If you’re not familiar with IIFYM, basically instead of tracking calories you track your macronutrients (grams of protein, carbs, fat and fiber). You can figure out how many calories and grams of each of those things you need using this IIFYM calculator.

The reason I like IIFYM is because it allows you do be more flexible with your nutrition. Yes, we all know we should “eat clean” but sometimes you want to splurge a little. You want to go out to dinner with friends, or indulge in a bit of ice cream. IIFYM allows you do to that because you can simply include those into your daily macro counts.

I don’t agree with IIFYM in terms of “Eat whatever you want just count your macros” but it is a more flexible approach to nutrition than other diets such as paleo or just calorie counting. Plus, if you just count calories, you’re not making sure that you’re actually getting enough protein, carbs and fat in one day. My main goal is to eat as many whole foods as possible, but indulge when I want to and not feel guilty.

What do you think of IIFYM? Have you tried it?

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08-04-2014

20 Strawberry Recipes

Summer is the perfect time to serve up recipes that include strawberries. I love strawberries in salads, smoothies, yogurt, or just by themselves. If you or your kids used to love Fruit Roll-Ups, then you’ll certainly enjoy the homemade roll-up recipe. Or if you’re looking for a healthy dinner option, the strawberry balsamic pizza with chicken and bacon is sure to be a hit.

This list of strawberry recipes includes both savory and sweet options, and a few drink recipes as well. I really want to try the Strawberry Smash Cocktail ;) Enjoy!

Strawberry Recipes

SWEET

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

Strawberry Mango Fruit Roll-Ups

Strawberry Pretzel Parfaits

Strawberry Basil Sorbet

Strawberry Nutella Poptarts

Strawberry Yogurt Popsicles

Skinny Strawberry Banana Milkshakes

SAVORY

Strawberry Salad with Seared Ahi Tuna and Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette

Avocado Strawberry Spinach Salad with Poppyseed Dressing

Almond Strawberry Salad

Strawberry Asparagus Salad with Bacon and Almonds

Strawberry Quinoa Salad

Strawberry Balsamic Pizza With Chicken And Bacon

Roasted Strawberry and Asparagus Salad with Strawberry-Tahini Dressing

Salmon with Strawberry Salsa

DRINKS

Strawberry Mojito

Strawberry Sweet Iced Tea

Homemade Strawberry Lemonade

Sparkling Strawberry Lemonade

Strawberry Smash Cocktail

Which of these do you want to try? 

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06-25-2014

Health & Fitness Links To Get You Through The Day (Travel Edition)

One more day and I’m outta here! I’m excited to be traveling to South America…though I’ll admit I will miss my cats ;) But at least my uncle will be home to take care of them. We were nervous we wouldn’t be able to find someone to watch over them. Yes, I have multiple cats…I swear I’m not a crazy cat lady! :)

Today’s links will be travel related for all of you who will be going on a vacation this summer. Found a lot of helpful information! A new thing I want to add to these health & fitness posts is a featured post:

Featured Post

15 Minute Hotel Workout

15minutehotelroomworkout_thumb1

Definitely doing this workout by Healthy Happier Bear while I’m away. I love timed workouts because it’s easy enough to do and all you need is a timer. Plus, 15 minutes? Perfect for when you don’t have time to dedicate to a longer workout – whether you’re on vacation or not!

Healthy Eating While Traveling

Fitness

What are some of your tips on how to stay healthy while on vacation? I’d love to hear them!

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06-24-2014

21 Day Fix Review

So a few weeks ago I posted about being unhappy with myself. I was not happy that I had gained weight, and even less happy that I seemingly lost all motivation to eat healthy or exercise at the intensity that I used to.

During this time, my mom and I had been seeing more and more about 21 Day Fix by BeachBody.

Autumn-Calabrese

I looked up reviews and others who had tried it had good things to say about the program. I wanted something to hold me accountable and get me back on track with my nutrition.

I’ve heard a lot of great things about BeachBody in general, so I was excited to try this. Of course, there were some nay sayers who said “Why don’t you just count your calories/macros” but this seemed much simpler especially for someone who hates counting calories.

I didn’t write about it, and specifically said I’d wait until after I finished the program to document my experience. I wanted to do it on my own and see whether I truly liked it or not before talking about it on here.

PROGRAM OUTLINE

So the program comes with several different containers as well as 2 workout DVDs with 4-5 workouts on each.

What are the containers for? For portioning out your food. I have had major issues with portion control in the past, even while trying to eat healthy. You can easily eat too much “good fat” in a day without even realizing (hello cheese and hummus).

21-day-fix-boxesSource

But you can easily NOT be eating enough veggies and protein as well. I noticed that once I started this program I was eating way more vegetables than I normally do.

In the handbook, there is a calorie calculator depending on how much you weigh. I know those aren’t the most accurate…so I was a bit skeptical of this, but ate in my calorie range (around 1,500 calories) to test it out. With each calorie range, you are given how many of each container you can eat. I was able to eat 3 veggies, 3 fruit, 4 proteins, 1 healthy fats/cheese, 1 seeds, 1 oil, and 2 carbs.

On days that I did two workouts (like running + one of the workout DVDs) I did let myself have another carb or some extra fruit. Occasionally I did eat extra fruit because I’d get hungry after dinner. Fruit won’t kill you ;)

I also love that 3 days a week you can swap out a carb container for something like a glass of wine, or a cookie. It’s not restrictive. And even though I have a MAJOR sweet tooth, I actually didn’t use up many of those days. The first week I didn’t use any!

The book also comes with a few recipes to make your own healthy sweet treats. Like oatmeal cookies or double chocolate brownies. I tried the oatmeal cookies and my whole family loved them.

THE WORKOUTS

The plan comes with a workout DVD. They are pretty good workouts. Here they are:

  • Upper fix
  • Lower fix
  • Cardio fix
  • Dirty 30
  • Pilates fix
  • Yoga fix
  • 10 min. abs

They are pretty good workouts and only 30 minutes. Perfect. I did like the videos but some of them were not challenging enough for me. Sure I was sweating but I felt like I could get a better workout in on my own at the gym. So some days that’s what I did. I think the DVDs are good for those who need accountability when it comes to working out. Plus, it’s only 30 minutes so what is your excuse??

I will say the pilates one is hard! Who know leg circles could burn so much?

You only take about 10-15 second breaks which is another thing I like. Sometimes you go to the gym and don’t realize you’re taking way longer breaks than you should be if your goal is to burn calories. That definitely made it a tougher workout. My first workout was cardio fix and my mom and I were sore for days after that!

RESULTS

Okay so I have never posted progress pictures but wanted to show what you can do in 21 days with eating pretty clean. I’m too embarrassed to show my front view (maybe one day when my “after” pic is a 6 pack lol). Before starting this, I really did feel so bloated and heavy. Weeks of unhealthy eating/eating whatever you please will do that to you. Here’s my back progress pic:

20140623_212306

I’m not proud of this picture, and I have a long way to go to get back to where I used to be, but it’s progress!

I have felt more in control recently with food than in the past couple of months. This program really helped put me back on track, and control my portions better. It also helped that my mom did it with me, as well as my best friend. Accountability and a support group really help!

Speaking of support groups, if you’re planning on trying 21 Day Fix, definitely join a Facebook support group. I’ve found great recipes and tips through them. These are 2 groups that I am a part of.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I really liked this program. I’ll admit I was skeptical at first – especially because the containers look so small when you first get the program.

Pros:

  • Helps with portion control. You may be surprised by how much or how little you are eating of certain types of foods!
  • No calorie counting or macro counting.
  • A lot of freedom with what types of food to eat/recipes to create.
  • Not ridiculously strict – you’re allowed 3 “cheats” per week in exchange for a carb container.
  • Surprisingly fills you up (the amount of food you eat).
  • 30 minute workouts are perfect for busy people.
  • At-home workouts that only require a pair of weights or resistance band.
  • Helps with accountability with your food intake.

Cons

  • Workout DVDs may be less challenging for those who are experienced lifters.
  • Booklet does not say how many calories you should eat if you are running AND doing a workout DVD (or other type of workout).

And that’s really all I’ve got in terms of cons. I really loved it. One tip would be to not actually eat out of the containers. They’re not the sturdiest things in the world, so I’d just use them to measure and put my food in other containers if I needed to pack a lunch bag.

So there you have it folks…my 21 Day Fix review. I would definitely suggest it to anyone who is looking to get back on track with nutrition and also does not enjoy calorie counting/tracking. I really do hate that. Once the 21 days are up, they offer a maintenance calorie calculator so you can alter your intake (for maintenance) or you can continue if you still want to lose some weight/bodyfat.

I think that once the 21 days are up, you’ll also have a better idea of how to eat on your own. You won’t need to rely on the containers as much. That’s where I’m at right now! I’m still continuing the plan even though I’ve had a few treats since then. I’m traveling to Paraguay on Thursday so my goal is to eat healthy until then!

Okay, my long @$$ post is over now ;)

Please let me know if you have any questions at all! I’ll be happy to give you my thoughts on my experience.

Have you tried any BeachBody programs?

Do you count/track calories?

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04-23-2014

Health & Fitness Links To Get You Through The Day

The question I ask myself each week: will it ever get warm out? Come on, it’s almost May and it’s still chilly! I have a feeling this summer will be brutally hot…

Here are some links I found for you this week!

What is your favorite flavor of yogurt? Do you buy it with fruit or plain?

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04-16-2014

Eat Your Beans

So today I posted my “Health & Fitness Links” and one of them was about how eating beans can help you lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol

A team of researchers from the U.S. and Canada analyzed 26 randomized-controlled studies that included a total of 1,037 people, and found an association between consuming at least one serving a day of dietary pulses, or legumes — which includes chickpeas, lentils, peas and beans — and 5 percent decreased levels of LDL cholesterol over a median follow-up period of six weeks. (One serving of dietary pulses is equal to about 3/4 of a cup.)

I don’t know about you, but I love beans. Any kind. I can easily eat them every day. Which is why I am writing this post…to throw out some ideas on how to get your serving of beans per day. Sure, you could scoop out a serving and eat it with dinner, but there are a lot of great recipes that include beans! Here are a few I have regularly (bear with me and my not so great food photography):

Add beans to your salad

My favorite salad combo is mixed greens, tuna, strawberries and chickpeas. I have also used white/canellini beans, and loved the combo with my tuna cakes pictured below.

Tuna Cakes

 

Experiment with different types of beans in your salad and see what you like best. I think chickpeas are probably the best. Here are a few other tips to make a better salad ;)

You can also make sandwiches or wraps that include beans. I like a turkey wrap with hummus, avocado and chickpeas.

Make tacos or burritos

Who doesn’t love tacos or burritos? I mean…that’s why I go to Chipotle like once a week. Chicken burrito bowl? Yummmmmmm.

A_thumb

But you can easily re-create this at home. I wrote up a taco salad recipe once and it is still something in our dinner rotation. Whether you make a burrito or a bowl, throw in your favorite kind of beans. Making a taco salad or burrito once a week is a great way to get in your bean servings!

Chili or lentil soup

Now that it’s getting warmer out, you may not want soup, but it’s still delicious. My mom makes great lentil soup with melted cheese in it…so good. You can also whip up your favorite chili recipe. I’ve also made vegetable soup with beans in it, and sliced up avocado and crumbled pita chips in it. Sadly, I don’t have any pictures of any of these ideas, but I’ll make sure to do that next time my mom makes her famous lentil soup!

Black bean burgers

I have not tried this but am putting it on this list because I really want to try it. I would like to make my own but I’m not sure how much time it will take. Perhaps I’ll try the frozen variety first? Any suggestions?

Black Bean Burger

Here’s a recipe from the Tone It Up community (picture above goes with this recipe):

Ingredients:
1/2 red onion
1 red bell pepper
4 – 5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. ground chipotle pepper
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro 
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 15.5 oz. can or 1 cup cooked black beans
2 tablespoons of water
3/4 cup of wheat germ (to make it gluten free I used cooked quinoa- it didn’t stick together as well so I cooked it on a pan rather than a grill, as it fell through the grill!)

From quickly reading this, I’m thinking maybe adding eggs would help make it stick together too? Once it gets warmer out and I start grilling, I’ll try this out and keep you posted!

So there you have it…a few ways to add in beans to your routine to help lower that LDL cholesterol. I’m sure these aren’t mind-blowing tips but still some reminders for quick meals you can make!

Have you tried making black bean burgers?

What do you order at Chipotle?

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04-02-2014

Health & Fitness Links To Get You Through The Day

It’s finally April! Does anyone else not feel like it’s actually April/spring? I still feel like it’s February honestly. I can’t believe summer is like…2 months away!

Here are your health links for today:

  • Leg Burnout Workout (Blonde Ponytail) – Thrusters and kettlebell swings? Your legs will definitely be burning with this workout by Jess!
  • Discomfort vs. Pain (Run To The Finish) – Great tips on how to know whether your pain is discomfort, or you need to go to the doctor. Also great exercises for your weak points, like glutes and hips.
  • 6 Tips For Staying Energized (Fit Betty) – Did you know your macronutrient intake affects your energy levels? Lots of other tips listed as well!
  • The Myth Of Perfect Eating (Sensual Appeal) – Love this post! Who has gotten stuck in this mindset?

Do you strive for “perfect” eating or are do you treat yourself when you have a craving?

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04-01-2014

4 On-The-Go Lunch Ideas

Sometimes you just don’t have time to sit down and eat a nice, big lunch. Whether it’s because you’re in a meeting, or driving to an appointment, or on a bus going to school/class…there will be a time when you need need a quick lunch – and something you can eat in public (not tuna or eggs, as much as I love those).

quick lunches

1. Turkey (or any deli meat) Sandwich. This is my go-to. I use whole wheat bread, turkey, cheese, avocado and honey dijon mustard to make my sandwich. You could also make a wrap if you don’t want to use bread. I either store it in a sandwich container, or wrap it in aluminum foil. I found this sandwich box from Urban Outfitters which includes another compartment for salad (or hummus, or whatever you want), and a fork!

Sandwich Container2. Greek Yogurt With Fruit. This is something you could easily eat in a meeting or on public transportation (unless there are signs that say not to do that, obviously). You can add in fruit, or other things like granola, oats, and nuts. Probably easier to eat it with a disposable spoon, but if I only have a real spoon, I usually pack a plastic bag to throw it in once I’m done. 

3. Protein Shake. There are a few options here. You can make just a straight up protein shake, which I usually make with protein powder, ice, almond milk, peanut butter and cinnamon. Add in banana or strawberries if you want some fruit too. My current favorite protein powder is PlantFusion, which is a plant-based, vegan powder. I use the Ninja XL blender which I love, which is currently on sale at Kohl’s for $99.99. I do want to upgrade to the blender that comes with the cups, but it’s not like I absolutely NEED that right now ;)

If you’re not embarrassed about people asking you what you’re drinking, go ahead and add some greens in their. I like spinach and kale. Here are some of my favorite green smoothie recipes. It’s a great way to get in your greens, and make your smoothie more filling! Perfect to drink on the go.

4. Turkey Meatloaf Muffins. I made these once and they were delicious…and awesome to have on hand! I found these through Jaimie Eason of BodyBuilding.com. Here’s a bloggers review and recipe. These are easy to pack, and easy to eat on the go. Here’s another lunch container which would be perfect for these muffins, along with some hummus and veggies. It’s a stackable container available at Kohl’s for $14.99.

stackable lunch container

So those are just a few ideas for some great, quick lunches. I always pack my lunch box, which is the next thing I wanted to talk about. I love cute, patterned lunch boxes. I figure, since I’m using it everyday, might as well look good :) The one I have I bought at Rite Aid, and it’s Igloo brand. I found the exact one I have on Amazon, just different colors. It’s insulated and keeps my food cold for hours.

igloo lunchboxI totally believe in the quote, “Fail to prepare, and prepare to fail.” Packing your lunch has a ton of benefits, such as saving you money, and being healthier. Even if you have limited time or space, you can still have a healthy, quick lunch.

Do you pack your lunch daily? What are your go-to lunches/quick lunches? I love new ideas!

**Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links…if you buy something I get a small commission, which can help fund my racing addiction ;)

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