Friday, May 26, 2017

Workout must-haves....

Hey guys!  I thought I'd share with you guys a few of my 'must haves' for working out.  Now I love, love, love going to the gym and taking classes.  It's probably my #1 motivator is a great class with an excellent teacher (Jackie Smiley-Edwards, Ruth Gatling, Cyndi Primerano, Jenna Wexler, Meredith LaBrie, Leslie Tietjen, Chrissy Frascella, Joe LaBella & Del Camden...I'm lookin at you!)  But these days, since I spend MOST of my days running to and fro to gyms to teach my OWN classes, I'd be lying if I said it was an easy task to get back out the door to the gym at the end of the day.  So truth be told, I've been doing a LOT of working out at home and here are a few of my at-home MUST HAVES:

This is KEY to ALLLLLLL THINGS HEALTH & WELLNESS that many overlook so quickly, especially when starting a new fitness and eating plan.  Ya gotta look at your life and figure out where you can fit in healthier choices.  I KNOW when we get started, we're all convinced we can eat kale 3 meals a day and run a 5K daily.  And if you can?  That's AWESOME.  But if you're like most of us?  After a few weeks, that motivation starts to wane and you find yourself slowly starting to unravel.  So FIND WHAT YOU LIKE AND WHAT YOU CAN DO.  I'll try almost anything, but I know at the end of the day walking, dance & yoga are my happy place, so when all else fails?  I can always come back to that.  I've tried to convince myself I'm a runner and guess what?  I'm not and THAT'S OK.  Or maybe down the line, I will be...who knows!  (ummm...10 years ago I never woulda thought I'd be a yoga person, so....😉)  Do what you enjoy WHEN you can do it.  6 years ago, it was easy for me to get to the gym most nights of the week.  Now?  Not so much.  DO WHAT YOU CAN, WHEN YOU CAN.

2.-  Weights
It doesn't have to be as many as the mixed sets I've collected over the years, but just one good ole set of weights to get those triceps & biceps a-workin'.  Even back in the day before I had any weights?  I used to use water bottles!  Anything that can add a little resistance to those arms helps you feel lean & sculpted pretty quickly.  If I get nothing else done for the rest of the day, I always try to squeeze in a quick workout with the arms.  (bicep curls, lateral raises, overhead presses, triceps, front raises)  Anything to get those arms working from all angles.  

3.- My Phone
I know, I know...I still feel so weirdly 2017 when I say this (because my heart & soul still resides squarely in the late 90's/early millenuim😊), but my cellphone has become SUCH a tool for working out these days.  Whether it's using the incredible app Aaptiv, which combines on-demand guidance of a trainer mixed with the perfect playlist (How awesome is that??) or using Youtube to find workouts by your favorite trainers, it's AMAZING what you can have at your fingertips these days.  I'll usually play a workout on my phone while I catch up on....

4.-A stack of guilty pleasures
YEAH, THAT'S RIGHT!  I SAID IT!  This is DEFINITELY part of my workout essentials, because how can you make a guilty pleasure feel less guilty???  By combining it with a workout!  That's how!  And do you know how FAST a work out goes by when mixed with a couple old episodes of Laguna Beach ('STE-VEN!') or The Real Housewives???  SUPER FAST.  AND I don't feel guilty one bit!  It's always my excuse to watch one of my good ole shows, without the guilt of how I feel when I'm 'wasting time' just sitting on the couch with a workout that feels like it just FLIES by.  Ohhhhh yeahhhhhhh😉

So there you have it...there's how I make sure to get my workouts in DAILY😊  Find whatever it is YOU need to do to make yourself feel motivated and you'll find yourself being MUCH more consistent with workouts.  And if I know anything, consistency is SO KEY to keeping yourself FEELING FIT.  

What are your workout must-haves??

And thank you to Aaptiv for the awesome post idea.  Go check em out!

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Healthy bites...

Hi, guys!  Sorry for the delay but my days just keep get crazier & crazier lately😊  And since I've been crazy busy (just like ya'll!), I've been trying to focus more on getting as many meals prepped so I can have enough healthy options to grab & GO.  Also trying my best for us to eat as healthy as we can to keep UP with the schedules. least I'm trying.  Considering I've had 2 colds in three weeks, I'm not sure how well I'm doing😉

ANYWAY, so on top of trying to eat healthier, some times I just want to take the THINK work out of it and let something else lead the way.  And this time of year, the guiding force is the Tone it Up Bikini Series!  The last time we did the series was in 2015 and we both were very happy with how we felt at the end of eight weeks...even while I was pregnant with Lily😉  And while you can scroll all my old posts to find lots of meal options and suggestions (I'm coming for you pesto quiona bowl!), I think the series has evolved to be MUCHHHHH easier.  Not as many 40 ingredient recipes + an hour workout a day.  The key to ANY healthy lifestyle is accessibility and this current program definitely has those elements.

So here's a peek at what we've been eating lately (yes, Scott's following too😉):

BREAKFAST: YES, of course Tone it Up suggests their protein pancakes and YES, those are good....  


BUT, BUT, BUT!!  THESEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE protein pancakes are the BEST:
I'm so obsessed with this brand that the first day I made them for breakfast, I made them AGAIN for lunch and then proceeded to drive to Shoprite and purchase about 7 more bags😉  The cinnamon apple is great, the banana hazelnut is good (just doesn't taste much like banana), but my favorite is still the plain ole' buttermilk.  I've had them with peanut butter (for more protein for hungrier days), syrup and even just plain fruit and they're all REALLY good.  Because it's not just about the taste with protein pancakes, but the texture and these are SPOT-ON in both categories.  (Make sure you let the batter sit for the suggested three minutes for the extra FLUFFY pancake)

Other FABULOUS grab & go breakfast options (TIU always kills it in the breakfast game!) we've had are...

Prepped the oranges, banana and coconut in freezer bags and then just add to the blender in the morning with the coconut water & protein powder.  These are absolutely divine!

Snacks are KEY to keeping your blood sugar steady throughout the day...aka-keeping hunger at bay.  I've been so busy prepping lunches the last couple months that once I started prepping snacks also, they help soooooo much in keeping you honest & healthy with your diet.   I always forget this fact so quickly for some reason😉  But truth be told, I never ONCE craved chocolate  the last week or so...because I never got to lunch STARVING.  Snacks are key, people.  SNACKS.

I actually prepped a batch of these on Sunday and have to bake up another batch today since not only did WE really like these, but so did the kids!  I love that their base is not SOLELY protein powder, but also mixed with almond meal or oat flour (which you know I LOVEEEE!)

This is also great for afternoon snacks and just the perfect little bite of sweet.  Bonus: I was surprised the ONE tablespoon of maple syrup for the whole recipe gave JUST enough sweetness to make this feel like a treat.

For dressing I just used those little 90 calorie packs of guacamole from Calavo.  Not only are they grab-and-go and preportioned, BUT it also KEEPS THE GUAC GREEN.  Cause who wants grey avocado dressing??😝😝

AKA-throw healthy veggies & protein in a collard green and wrap it up!  Scott liked the collard greens, but I'm swappin out for iceberg next time...just cause I like it better even if it's not as nutritious.  These wraps were grilled chicken, hummus, red peppers, sprouts (LOVE SPROUTS!), carrots & cucumbers.  We also had chicken, black bean, red pepper & more 90 calorie guacamole, which were also delicious.

This week's lunch and I'm INLOVE😍  We swapped the yogurt for 1/4 mashed avocado and it's just AWESOME.  The Ezekiel bread is good, but for today's I swapped it for that above-mentioned iceberg lettuce wrap and really loved it.


Secret ingredient in this one?  Riced cauliflower!  I'd be lying if I said you couldn't taste it at all...butttt it's still tasty.  I ❤ cinnamon.

Other snacks:
  • hummus & vegetables (cucumbers for her, carrots for him)
  • Larabars


If there's one thing I'm never crazy about the TIU program, is that the dinners can be pretty boring, even if protein and vegetables really is the way to go on the health front.  That said, you're also eating so well during the day that most times ya kinda don't even care what's for dinner.  Not to mention, they've also made their dinner options EXTREMELY easy.  Most days last week we had this one:

Tahini Tray Dinner  (subbing chickpeas for chicken)
...which I actually really loved.  We made a big batch of this one night and had the leftovers for a couple nights.  The only real variation we made was to coat the chicken in that lovely "Everything but the bagel" spice mix from Trader Joe's...., which also worked.
Can't say it was super exciting, but it was quick, healthy and did the trick.  I had pizza & a burger over the weekend anyway, so it all worked out😉

And the workouts have been GREAT as well.  Aside from the Sandy Sweat HIIT I mentioned to you before that I LOVEEED, I've also been loving:
All under 20 minutes or less and all very effective.  Some days I mix in cardio and other days I'm too tired, so I don't😉  I always will say:  10 minutes of working out is better than nothing!

Well...that's all I got for you today.  I'll be back on Friday to share more tips about workouts! 

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Redirecting the critic....

So normally when I teach yoga, I'll give a quick scroll through my phone and see what appropriate quote pops up and resonates with me in that moment to read to my class.  99.9% of those quotes are perfectly motivational.  (examples here, here, here & here)  But last week that .01% found me when I was scrolling and landed on this one:

Image result for criticize myself viciously
This one certainly resonated, but not in a perfectly motivational way.  Rather it hit me with a big thud of "UGH," remembering how I used to view my life several years ago.

You see, THIS particular quote used to be my calling card.  My signature stamp.  I used to believe this 1000% and believed it was not only THE way to make myself 'a better person,' but also my 'excuse' for judging others so harshly.  Because maybe I was horrifically judgmental of others, BUT I was ALWAYS a zillion and one percent more critical of myself....even though not many saw that side.  This was the reason.  This was my excuse.  But this is how we're suppose to be, right??

WHY do we think this is a way to better ourselves??

WHY do we think this is how we need to be??

WHY do we think this is the norm??

From someone who's lived & died a thousand deaths from this quote, I can tell you one thing I now know:  IT'S NOT.

It's what we're taught.  It's what we think we need to do in order to 'achieve greatness.'  We're supposed to NEVER be satisfied with 'enough,' right?  We HAVE to be perfect.  We HAVE to want/have ALL THE THINGS to be happy...and until we HAVE 'all the things,' we have to criticize, judge and be unhappy until then.  
The perfect body.  That last 10/20/30 pounds.  That perfect house.  The perfect family.  

Sound familiar?

The irony was as soon as I began to let go of that incessant NEED to 'be better,' to desperately 'want BETTER' and, in turn, STOPPED criticizing myself so intensely, the part of me that judged others (a side I despised) slowly began to fade away.
I discovered the moment I stopped beating myself up, everything naturally became brighter.  Peace with yourself and gratitude in what you have can never be undervalued.  In a world where we're taught WE ALWAYS NEED TO TRY TO BE BETTER, finding peace in how we are TODAY can be the breath of fresh air we've been desperately looking for and/or didn't even realize we were missing.

And I know this all sounds like some sort of 'new age' fantasy, but from someone who's BEEN THERE, I can tell you change is possible.  "The way of the world" should NOT be criticizing.  It should be PEACE.  All of the magic of the world happens from peace.

Image result for you have no idea what I'm talking about I'm sure but don't worry you will someday

So the next time you find yourself becoming self-critical or criticizing others, here's some tips to get you from that critical moment to a more more peaceful one:
-try to figure out what is the source.  Are you just having a bad day?  Feeling insecure in the moment?  You got looked over for a promotion?  All valid reasons to have upset feelings, but....

-try to find a moment of stillness in your day (yes, that fancy 'new age' meditation😉) acknowledge those feelings, feel the emotions and then try your best to let them go  (easier said then done, I know.  But it DOES get easier the more you try it).  I also know the world tells us we need to be DOING THINGS at all times and yes, we're ALL insanely busy.  But if you can get a MINUTE out of your day, ONE MINUTE that is peaceful vs.'ll begin to see a shift.  And then work your way up to that 5-10 minutes on the days you can.  WE ALL have 10 minutes or less in a day.  I KNOW stillness is hard.  I KNOW.  But ya know what else is hard??  Being so hard on yourself all of the time.  
(and I'm not even gonna allow you an excuse for this one😉  Skip that scrolling of social media for ONE MINUTE and you'll have found that one moment of peace in your day😉)

-REDIRECT your thoughts.  This is CRITICAL when that self-critic arises.  The second you hear your mind chatter "maybe you're not good enough," immediately STOP it.  You don't have to turn it into rainbows and sunshine in that moment if you're not feelin that zippy (not many of us every are in that moment😉).  BUT, you still don't have to engage in those thoughts.  You don't have to BECOME those thoughts.  You can just change the direction of your thoughts onto something else and keep it movin.  The more you do this, the more that critic tends to disappear.  

Oh, it still rises occasionally.  It always does.  But the more we redirect our thoughts, the more we find stillness vs. that endless loop of self-critisim, the sooner we can find the place where we can hear that VERYYYY quiet voice that will ALWAYS tell you 'you ARE good enough.'  THAT, my friends, is your true self and it ALWAYS wants the best for you.  

The beating yourself up DOES NOT have to be you.  The key is CHOOSING for it not to be.  So many people believe it's just their nature, 'it's the way they are.'  I would have said the EXACT same thing 5+ years ago.  But believe me, follow those few tips with diligence and consistency and before you know it, you'll start to find that glimmer of calm peace.  Start with that ONE MINUTE today.  Just ONE.  That one minute can start the path that leads to great things❤

I'll end this post with a quote from one of my VERY favorite movies.  One that spoke to my soul the very first time I saw it almost 20 years ago (before I even really knew what the hell my soul even was😉).  It feels extremely appropriate...esp. that last line😉
American Beauty - the ending to this iconoclastic classic of American moviemaking is poetry - sheer beauty. see the movie and then try to EVER scrub these words out of your soul.:

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Monday, May 8, 2017

A colorful wrap up...

Soooo....mornin, folks!  Sorry I've been a bit MIA the past couple weeks, but roll insanely busy mixed with feeling LOUSY almost all of last week and the days just get away from me.  And on top of that, I wasn't very diligent with taking photos the past couple weeks or even remembering what the hell I DID each day, let alone what I ate...hahahahahaha😉. Lately anyone asks how I'm doing and my response is "Just swingin from vines", since that's EXACTLY what it feels like day-to-day😉  I'm sure, um, ALL OF YOU understand that feeling😉  Sooooooo...instead of a weekly recap, I'll just share some of my favorites from the past couple weeks and maybe a few I'm REALLY excited to try as Summer is quickly approaching.  Which...

A.- 'scuse???  How the hell did THAT happen??


B.- I'm FAIRLY excited for.  Double 'scuse.  I still don't even know who I am anymore...but we've already been to visit the beach a couple times so far this spring and I. JUST. CAN'T. EVEN. DEAL with all the gorgeousness and how happy the kids are just to BE there.  
(and humidity, if you could stay away the ENTIRE time??  THAT'DBEGREAT)

Some of my fav meals:

Quickest dinner that felt 'fancy':  One-pot puttenesca
Throw everything in one pan and end up with a dish where each bite brings a new taste of ZINNNNNNGGGGGG???  Yes, yes and yes please.

The 'pardon the photo on my stove grate' meal:  BUT this picture makes me super happy because Katie was SO EXCITED to invite a couple of friends over for our first cookout of hot dogs of the season that she actually helped me clean almost our ENTIRE back porch (all while singing "I just can't wait to be King"...which was ADORABLE)...weeeeee!  Not to mention:  CLASSIC summer fare...
Pasta salad recipe from Pioneer Woman, which I made last summer and have thought about ever since.  It's THAT perfect😉

We also made THIS PIE for the cookout and um, also PERFECT...
No Bake Pina Colada Cream Pie

What will probably become a staple recipe:  Lauren Conrad's Easy Enchiladas
Lauren Conrad's Easy Chicken Enchiladas:
My love for all things Lauren Conrad and her perfectly filtered life runs deep, so it was no shock that her absurdly easy enchilada recipe was not only easy but PERFECTLY DELICIOUS.  Poaching the chicken in the salsa kept it super flavorful and extremely tender.  I upped my game just a bit by finding a small loaf of premade cornbread in the freezer and stuffing it with said enchilada chicken.  My photo does NOT do it justice for how PHENOMENAL THAT was😉

My current breakfast & lunch obsession:
Coconut Cream Yogurt | #WIAW | Keep it Real Clean
+ strawberries + chopped almonds (or peanuts) + ground flaxseed + a sprinkle of granola.  This used to be my spring-y/sunshine staple (how is that blog post from SEVEN years ago???), but haven't really had it in YEARS.  And, just like most things, I get reacquainted and then get re-obsessed and have it a million times a week😉  I've had both the nonfat & whole milk variation of the yogurt and honestly can't say I notice much difference once you add all of those toppings.

Other meal-prep lunches:

BBQ Chicken & Roasted Sweet Potato Bowls are a hearty and healthy dinner idea bursting with bold flavors and nutritious vegetables. This easy recipe is perfect for meal prepping lunches for work or a quick weeknight meal.
Both made on Sundays, portioned and set for the week ahead.  And BOTH were delicious!

Healthier indulgence:  Chocolate Orange Chia seed pudding
Chocolate Orange Chia Pudding | whipped together in a pinch and is perfect for breakfast and dessert alike. | Paleo, Vegan, Low FODMAP
So ya'll know my LOVE of chocolate on MOST days of the week, which I obviously think is FINE...BUT here's a great way to satisfy that craving while staying a LITTLE bit more on the healthy end of things.

Favorite Workout:  Tone it up Sandy Sweat HIIT
Tone It Up Sandy Sweat Free HIIT Workout
I'm so obsessed with this one at the moment that I COULDN'T WAIT to get back to it after recovering from feeling lousy.  15 quick minutes + I'll throw in 15 minutes of dance and it feels like a full body, excellent muscle/cardio combo.

And a few things I'm excited to make with the Summer on the way!

Show your patriotism with this Firecracker Cake! The red, white, and blue runs inside and out!! Great for Memorial Day, the 4th of July or any occasion you want to share a little American pride!
This picture makes me straight up giddy.  
Further making me question who I'm becoming😉  But it's just so purty!

Red White & Blue Strawberry Cheesecake Bites
How perfect are these??  I might just be able to get behind the whole 'fruit for dessert' thing with these adorable little babies!  Plus, I'd love giving these to the kids.

I can't even DEAL with how adorable this is...PLUS we are a dirt cake lovin house and Katie will FLIP for this adorable variation, I'm sure😉

So while Googling the above recipe for Pioneer Woman's macaroni salad, I also stumbled on THIS one...and if she's saying THIS is the best??  Well, YOU KNOW it's worth trying!

Well, that's a colorful wrap!  I'm planning to DEFINITELY be back on Wednesday since I have two current 'mental weight loss' topics that I'm dying to discuss.  Here's to finding time to bang out these keys😉 (hold me...😉)

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