We want to look good, we work harder in the gym. We want a good marriage that lasts, we work harder at the marriage.
Introduction goes here
About the couple
<p>Photographer: <a href="http://www.stephaniewestphotography.com" target="_blank"> Stephanie West Photography</a>//Event Venue:The Dawes Arboretum//<br><br><a href="http://twobrightlights.com/" target="_blank">Submitted via Two Bright Lights</a><br><br></p>
<p>Photographer: <a href="http://www.stephaniewestphotography.com" target="_blank"> Stephanie West Photography</a>//Event Venue:The Dawes Arboretum//<br><br><a href="http://twobrightlights.com/" target="_blank">Submitted via Two Bright Lights</a><br><br></p>
Captured by Derek Halkett Photography
Friday Photo of the Day
Friday photo of the week is this sweet North Carolina couple putting a seriously cute spin on the phrase, "Tying the Knot!" I see engagement invitations in the making.
Sara & Steve had a gorgeous wedding but for those who weren't there, a small detail might be overlooked: the first workout in lieu of a first dance! I absolutely love that this couple took a tradition that might otherwise be uncomfortable for them and put a spin on it so it was unique to them and most important, fun! Sarah, the fit bride shows off her sculpted shoulders doing a bent over reverse fly with what appears to be some pretty heavy weights! Read Sarah's take on fitness and the reason why her and Steve keep fitness a priority in their lives and their relationship below. Imagery is credited to Three & Eight Photography submitted via Two Bright Lights.
Sweet & Savory Brussel Sprouts & Sweet Potatoes!
I thought I would take a breather from sharing JR's story and switch gears to something lighter: food!
If I'm being totally honest cooking, which used to be my jam, has been really hard as a new mom! It feels like there's just not enough hours in the day to work and get a hot meal on the table at a decent hour, which is why, when it does happen it's so glorious! I love a home-cooked meal!
So here's how this went down -- I accidentally bought $14 worth of Brussel Sprouts from Safeway last week (#truestory)! 😳
The huge bag of brussel sprouts literally beckoned me from across the produce aisle! I was intrigued! I knew I couldn't eye-ball the weight so I threw it on the scale and did a quick read: about 2 lbs and the sign said $3.99 per lb (or so I thought?). Later, I realized I misread the scale and in total, there were more like 3 lbs!
Was I upset? Not at all! I never get sick of brussel sprouts and saw this as an opportunity to experiment and try some new recipes. They're so versatile, they can be eaten alone, made into a salad, a hash or served alongside a protein like chicken or turkey... and Thanksgiving is coming up so, what better time to do something new and delicious with these beauties!
The other ingredient I'm loving lately is pure maple syrup! I know it's like pure sugar (#notmadatit 😏) but it seems to add so much flavor and depth to whatever you put it on. I've used it in several recipes lately (from this hash to oatmeal) and it just never disappoints. Plus, this is the time of year it's easy to snag from apple and pumpkin orchards. Isn't maple syrup part of what makes this time of year so cozy after all?
The other thing I love about brussel sprouts are that they're SO EASY to make! You just rinse and chop them in half, and volia, you've got a sheet-pan of bright delicious gems ready to be gobbled up!
Peeling and chopping sweet potatoes on the other hand? Not my fave.
Once you've covered your cookie sheet with brussels and sweet potato chunks, drizzle on the maple syrup!
Then pop it in the oven to start roasting!
Then take it out and take a million pictures! Ha! Sike, that's just me. 😜
Don't forget to add the cranberries and chopped pecans throughout.
That's it, folks. Easy peasy! Let me know if you try this out, and happy Thanksgiving. :)
Maple Cranberry Pecan Brussel Sprouts & Sweet Potato Side Dish
Super easy, delicious sheet pan dinner or side dish made with five simple ingredients: brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, cranberries, pecans and maple syrup.
- 1 lb brussel sprouts
- 1 lb sweet potatoes
- 3 tbsp pecans
- 3 tbsp cranberries
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 425°F and prepare a sheetpan with small amount of non-stick cooking spray. Rinse, trim and cut in half brussel sprouts, and spread evenly over pan. Rinse, peel and chop sweet potatoes into 1-inch chunks and mix-in with brussel sprouts across the sheet pan. Pour approximately 3 tbsp of maple syrup over the brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes, tossing to coat evenly. Roast 25 minutes. Turn vegetables, add pecans and cranberries, and return to oven for additional 5-10 minutes or until sweet potatoes are cooked thoroughly. Serve with another small drizzle of maple syrup if desired.
This recipe is adapted from a similar recipe on EatingWell.com.
Thick & Creamy Pumpkin Spice Protein Shake
It's been awhile, huh? A long while!
I'm still here, still plugging away at this blogging thing (albeit slower than ever).
How was your summer? Mine was a complete whirlwind but full of so many good things: JR's 2nd birthday, a girl's trip, a gold-and-pink themed baby shower for my sister-in-law, and a fun trip to Vegas with my hubby! Life has been good -- it's been full and busy, but really, better than ever.
Except of course blogging, I miss it so much!
I didn't feel right hopping back on the scene without a single thing to show for myself so I whipped up this and a few other fall recipes to share. I'll admit: I'm not a huge pumpkin milkshake girl, but for a protein-packed snack, this checked the box for both decadent and delicious. Plus, like so many of you, I've welcomed the season with open arms and have been diving face-first into all things pumpkin, including even cereal! 😳 Yes. You read that correctly! I got suckered into trying General Mills Pumpkin Spice Cheerios! The verdict? They're just so-so.
Halo Top on the other hand has been a delight! This was my first taste of the low-calorie, protein-filled ice cream and I have to say I'm quite pleased!
Halo Top Ice Cream Wins Over Arctic Zone
Awhile back I gave Artic Zone a try but something about the flavor and texture were off to me. I didn't like it and it definitely didn't satisfy my urge for a creamy, smooth treat so since then I've veered from any kind of low-calorie ice cream, but once again the pumpkin display got me and this Halo Top called my name. I was pleasantly surprised at the difference between it and Artic Zone.
Below you can see Halo Top's ice cream is creamy and smooth (I couldn't help but snap a photo). To make this milkshake I just blended two heaping scoops with ice, almond milk, cinnamon, a half a frozen banana and 2 ice cubes.
A Few Milkshake-Making Tips:
Don't be an idiot like me and put your protein powder in first!! Add your almond milk first, then your ice cream, then your protein powder. I put the powder in first and ended up having to scrap protein chunks off the bottom of the blender cup to get everything mixed well (ugh). 😩
Also watch the almond milk to ice cream ratio. A little almond milk goes a long way! After the first blend it was way too watery which prompted me to add the 1/2 a frozen banana. The texture turned out great but be careful not to dilute the ice cream too much!
Oh and don't forget the whip cream -- you have to add it! 😝
I also sprinkled a little cinnamon on there which topped the whole thing off nicely!
A little info about the protein ...
You might have also noticed the black bag of protein I'm using for this shake - it's Xwerks Grow Vanilla, Aaron's absolute favorite protein powder! I've only used it a handful of times myself but it smells amazing and mixes really well. He's pretty much swore allegiance to this brand (after trying a billion others) so I asked him to run down a few reasons he loves it. See below! 👇
- Xwerks is sourced from naturally raised grass-fed cows all the way in New Zealand and they're free of hormones, antibiotics and pesticides.
- Something to keep in mind is the difference between grass fed and grass finished. A lot of products tout being grass fed when in actuality those cows are allowed to graze and eat grass but are finished with grain to get them up to weight before being slaughtered.
- For each serving of Xwerks there is 2 grams of fat, 2 grams of carbs and 23 grams of protein.
- I'm a believer in one gram of protein per pound of body weight. I am not heavy but have you ever tried eating 160 grams of protein a day without supplementation? Let alone 200 grams? That’s a lot of food if 4 oz of meat generally yields you 20 grams of protein not to mention the fat that accompanies the meat.
- It's not cheap but it's not crazy expensive ($50 for 2 lbs) and the ingredients are purer than most you'll find in other whey proteins -- not to mention there's free shipping (all the way from New Zealand)!
- Xwerks is gluten, soy, and bleach free and includes no artificial flavors, sweeteners or coloring.
- Xwerks is also a great alternative to plant-based protein if you're looking for something "clean" but tasty (I've never been able to stomach pea protein).
What's it boil down to? Happy cows; free shipping; nice packaging; very little crap (sweetners, etc), no lcatorse; no carbs; and it mixes well!
If you're big into protein this one is definitely worth checking out! Also for the record this post is not sponsored by Halo Top or Xwerks, I'm just sharing our experience with these brands! Thanks for reading and more to come! ✌
Pumpkin Spice Protein Shake
5-ingredient pumpkin spice protein milkshake made with almond milk, halo top pumpkin spice ice cream, vanilla protein powder, a banana and a dash of cinnamon.
- 2 scoops Halo Top Pumpkin Spice Cream Cream
- 1/2 cup Almond Milk
- 1 medium Frozen Banana
- 1 scoop Vanilla Whey Protein
Hey friends! Happy Tuesday! Today I'm excited to share Part 1 of a new series called Home Gym Basics. I've partnered with the pros for this one:RepFitness, a Denver-based supplier of state-of-the-art CrossFit equipment at an affordable price point for newlywed gym-goers like yourself!
It should come as no surprise that Aaron and me often daydream about having a big house -- or rather, a big garage -- where we can custom build our very own CrossFit gym. It's been really hard to get to the gym consistently since we had our son, and I always imagine a home gym would make all the difference! Unfortunately we're not quite there yet -- we live in a two-bedroom condo and we'll likely be here for at least another year. But, not all is lost! Through this series, I'll show you that your home gym doesn't have to be a conventional one; even in a tiny condo you can get your CrossFit on! Believe me!
So, where's a good place to start? With the basics! Don't have room for heavy weights? Neither do we, so instead we opted for a sandbag! This is something we could easily keep under the dining room table (out of plain sight) or in the trunk of the car to pull out for workouts on a whim. I always assumed sandbags were really expensive and difficult to assemble or maintain, but I was wrong! RepFitnes sandbags are pretty affordable and the sand itself is dirt cheap! Today I'll show you how we filled ours in three easy steps.
First things first: grab a sandbag! Does size matter? Yes, you'll have to choose between a medium and large bag. If you're planning more than 50 lbs, opt for large.
Large Sandbag (50-125 lbs) Includes:
- Sandbag shell
- 3 large filler bags
Medium Sandbag (25-75 lbs) Includes:
- Sandbag shell
- 1 large filler, 1 small filler bag
As far as color -- there's three to choose from at RepFitness, including camo! And, durability? SUPER important! Sandbags can get pretty dang heavy (imagine more than a 100 lbs!) and they're literally meant to be thrown around, so it's vital you purchase a bag from reputable distributor (like RepFitness) so that you don't have to worry about tearing or worse -- bursting! I can imagine that would be a HOT MESS in our living room!!
Determine Best Size & Purchase a Sandbag!
Obviously we snagged our sandbag from RepFitness and I went with Aaron and JR's favorite color: red!
Next step was to purchase sand to fill the bag. This is where the surprises started -- who knew sand was so stinkin' cheap?! Aaron grabbed two of these 50 lb bags from Home Depot for just $5 each!
With desired weight in mind, pour accordingly!
We got the medium sandbag -- our thought being we'd make two and have a light and heavy option. With this in mind, we filled one with about 45 lbs and the other with 35; this way we both can get a pretty intense workout in --
Aaron filled the bags himself while I took photos and I was really impressed with the way he was able to hold the sandbag upright while pouring sand in! Then as I peered closer I realized how durable and sturdy the fabric of the sandbag is, which aided in it being about to stand alone! Apparently the triple/quadruple cross-stitch is pretty important when it comes to sandbags. RepFitness also used 1000D Cordura, which is a type of canvas/nylon fabric, to ensure maximum durability.
Our friends at RepFitness advised us not to fill the bag more than 3/4 full, so after a good dump of sand, we'd pack it down and check the level.
This is also the point in time I started to admire Aaron's muscles. HAHA :)
Put the filler bag the duffel and do a test lift!
Once we filled the sandbag, it was super easy to add it to the duffel for easy maneuvering! What I love about this is that we can swap out the heavier bag for the lighter (or vice versa) whenever we want.
You might also notice the handles on the duffel - there's six! - which make it really easy to lift in various ways and practical for workouts!
We were both immediately inspired by this little gem and all the workouts that we can do with it! Think: overhead squats, thrusters, even over-the-BAG burpees if we wanted to get really crazy!! I plan to share some of those workouts with you in the next part of this series! Stay tuned! :)
Questions, comments or ideas about home gyms?
Leave me a comment with your thoughts and we'll put a post together on the topic!
Also Enter to Win!
RepFitness has a grand opening this month and they're running a bunch of INCREDIBLE giveaways!
Click the image below to learn more.
Smoked Salmon & Asparagus Frittata
Hey, hey and happy Tuesday!
Today I'm excited to share a new recipe with you.
For me, one of the biggest steps toward getting fit again has been getting back in the kitchen! With all the stress these past two years, I forgot how much I love cooking and experimenting with new recipes. The kitchen is a safe/zen zone for me where I'm able to temporarily set aside daily stressors and focus on making something -- the small steps of combining this ingredient plus that ingredient calms me and of course, there's no better pay-off than when something turns out delicious -- like this frittata did!!
Like most recipes I find these days, I stumbled across this one on Instagram < if you're not already following @Whole30Recipes, go follow them now! > I've made so many recipe cards from recipes I've found there -- I'm yet come across one I didn't like!
What I love about this smoked salmon and asparagus frittata is that it doesn't taste as dry as some frittatas do because the salmon keeps it moist. The asparagus adds a subtle crunch/texture as well! The original recipe called for zucchini but I only had asparagus so I tried that instead, and voila, this recipe was born.
The other secret ingredient to this dish is the fresh dill! If you aren't using fresh herbs in your bakes at home, people get with the program!! They add so much flavor and little to no calories at all; plus have some amazing health benefits. Here's the ingredients you'll need for this dish:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or coconut oil)
- White onion
- Fresh Dill
- Smoked Salmon
- Salt & Pepper
I used about 8 eggs for this recipe but pretty much eye-balled the amount of other ingredients to a ratio I thought looked about right. Clearly did not hold back on the dill! :)
One key component to this dish is the asparagus and onion mixture -- after you sauté this in oil, you'll want to give it some time to cool before adding it to the uncooked eggs and dill. I was super surprised at how delicious this tasted on its own! I definitely ate a couple spoonfuls while I waited for it to cool --
How to prepare the salmon and asparagus frittata:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Grease your baking pan with coconut oil
- Sauté small slices of white onion and asparagus until the onion becomes translucent; side aside to cool
- Combine 8 eggs and a handful of chopped fresh dill
- Once cooled, add the asparagus/onion to the eggs
- Then add in slice of salmon and stir well.
- Cook at 350 for 36 minutes or until the center is no longer wobbly
- Cool before slicing -- then keep refrigerated until you're ready to heat and eat it!
The end result should be a deliciously creamy, tasty egg bake that you can slice and store for breakfast on the go -- I sent some with Aaron to work and had a coworker taste it, both approved with two thumbs up!
This recipe is a modified version of the Stupid Easy Paleo Smoked Salmon Frittata - which is made with zucchini not asparagus - be sure to check it out as well!
I can't wait to hear your thoughts on this one -- how did it turn out?
What's your favorite breakfast frittata?
Is the kitchen an escape for you too?
MACROBAR SAMPLER PACK
Need an on-the-go snack to fuel you on busy day?
Do you hit the ground running after an early morning workout or rush to return to work after a lunch run or WOD?
Working full-time with a young son, trying to blog and maintain consistent workouts, I've realized the value of a healthy, hearty snack I can grab and eat on the go -- especially one that doesn't leave me feeling guilty for eating something out of a wrapper!
I experimented a lot this past year with high protein, low-calorie bars and snacks trying to shortcut my way to weight loss, but found that ulimately, they didn't provide the substance or nutrition my body needed to also hit the gym hard.
Now, more than ever I'm realizing how important that pre-and-post workout meal is and the impact of the macros I choose, if I choose wisely! Thus the reason I was pumped to work with GoMacro and have the opportunity to try the MacroBar Sampler Pack, and share with you what I've come to love about this brand and its products.
First things first: They taste good! My favorite flavor is the peanut butter chocolate chip, but I also loved the banana + almond butter and the apple + walnut bar. They're chewy and sweet, but not too sweet and have just the right amount of nutty flavor.
These bars have been a life-saver, too on particularly busy days when we're rushing around town. We've had so many events this summer: birthday parties and cookouts, plus the usual doctor's appointments and therapies. I can eat one of these bars on our way out the door and then forget to eat until the evening (not good, I know, but they're pretty satisfying and it's great to not feel hungry and stranded, and tempted by fast food).
What others have said: My mom wasn't a fan of the cashew flavor she tried (even though she typically loves caramel and she had the Cashew Caramel) and Aaron commented that they were a bit "dense" and "chewy" but both agreed that the bar was satisfying and left them feeling full for a long time after eating it.
What does it mean? GoMacro? While there are still a lot of paleo goers out there, a lot of athletes are leaning toward IIFYM these days; IIFM stands for "if it fits your macros," a breakdown and healthy balance of the carbs, protein, and healthy fat for each meal with desired total of each for the day, depending on your workout routine. It sounds complex, but what's most important is that the approach evaluates every ingredient and doesn't discount something if it's a carb or fat, long as it's the healthy kind, which is what you'll find in these bars: made from wholesome nuts, berries, fruits, and nut butters!
What to watch out for: Well, the bars aren't cheap but most high quality foods aren't these days. You pay for what you get! They also have sugar in them, but it's not added sugar -- it's mostly from fruit! Also, be advised of the latest recall -- scary, I know! However, it appears it was a very limited quantity of GoMacro products involved; their recall stemmed from one issued by their almond supplier. With fresh, locally sourced products, this is always a concern and I was at least glad to see the company air on the side of caution.
Where can you find GoMacro bars? Here's what I love: they're in 7-11! They're also sold in most WholeFoods and at TraderJoes.
Not every flavor is going to be your favorite, so I suggest picking up the sampler pack give all the varieties a try: each tray contains one of the 10 flavors with an additional best-selling peanut butter chocolate chip bar (my personal fav), and sunflower butter + chocolate bar.
Other flavors include peanut butter, cashew butter, almond butter + carob, banana + almond butter, granola + coconut, cherries + berries, cashew caramel, and apple + walnuts! If you're looking for high-protein, make sure to snag one with the "HIGH PROTEIN" marker on the top right of the package.
The bottom line -- if you're an athlete living a busy life, like so many of us, give GoMacro a try!
Oh, an PS: you can't see the actual ingredients in the photo below but you can see the commitment to "feeling good about what we eat" -- something I'm certainly embracing on my journey to getting fit again! I also love that these bars are "vegan, wholesome, sourced sustainably" and "give back."
What's your favorite healthy snack/bar for on-the-go?
What are your favorite on-the-go snacks?
On Being Healthy, Notes from my Bestie Squad
I just had an epic girls weekend in Atlanta with my best friends and the trip was an absolute blast!
It was the twins' birthday and my dear friend Michelle (pictured second to the right) just moved to North Carolina so we were thrilled to have her fly down and join the fun. We picked Atlanta because another mutual friend from High School (Courtney) lives there, and let me tell you: being all together again was awesome!!! I can't believe I've known these women for over 15 years!! And yet we continue to pick up right where we left off, never having skipped a beat!
Traveling together and spending a few days in a shared hotel room, it's easy to see the rituals + habits of friends and I couldn't help but notice how healthy my friends have become! With that in mind, I thought it might be fun to share the tidbits I gleaned from them with you, alongside some photos of the fun!
What I love is that each of us approach wellness in our own way, and can easily swap/share/learn from each other's different perspectives and knowledge. So, without further ado, some notes on being healthy from my bestie squad!
Take your Vitamins
Why have I not been taking a multivitamin all my life? I loved the little AM/PM case I saw my girl Ghadah with! She's so organized! There was a lot of discussion about the benefits of B12 as well, not only for energy and stamina but weight loss. This past year I've made big changes to take better care of myself (switching jobs + trying to get healthy again), something as simple as a multivitamin should be at the top of my wellness to do list! (And yours too!)
Buy Trader Joes Alkaline Water
At a $1.50 a pop, these liters of alkaline water are a steal and they taste delicious (here's a similar brand you can order online)! I have to give the twins credit for this one, I'm hooked, and I've also started using this to make JR's bottles -- here's what the Mayo Clinic has to say about the benefits of alkaline water:
Because alkaline water has a higher pH level than does plain tap water, proponents say that it can neutralize acid in your bloodstream, boost your metabolism and help your body absorb nutrients more effectively. Some even say that alkaline water can help prevent disease and slow the aging process.
Always Pack Snacks
My girl Ghadeer always comes prepared with advil, tylenol, tums and pepcid in her purse -- she's like the mom of every girl's trip with all the goodies in her bag! This includes snacks too, but not any ole' snacks, fairly healthy, high-protein, gluten-free snacks like epic all natural meat bars and Scandinavian gummies if you have a sweet tooth!
... And Liquid Gel Tylenol & Advil
The other thing I noticed is that she for all those meds listed above, she goes with the liquid gel caps, which I know are pricer, but so worth it when you've got a headache or cramp and you need something fast-acting!
Skip Sugary Drinks & Just Order a Vodka + Soda Water
My girl Michelle just lost 12 lbs doing a weight loss challenge at Orange Theory Fitness and she looks AMAZING! I even caught her doing a little Vinyasa at the pool one day! (See below.) Her commitment to drinking Vodka Tonic has always impressed me but this trip to modified to Vodka and Soda Water, which has even less calories!!This is such a great choice when you're standing at a bar and don't know what to order, and I swear she must save a billion calories passing on the pineapple, cranberry, syrup mixers that I usually go for!
Shots > Drinks
So, along those lines - true, drinking isn't really "healthy" in any form, but there's such thing as smarter choices and, well this may not be the best tip there's some food for thought behind the idea that shots are the way to go! They're smaller than regular drinks and therefore not as much room for sugary mixers. They're typically pretty strong (too strong sometimes!) so if you're looking to feel a buzz, this is definitely a faster way to do it than drinking 10 beers! That said, be super careful not to have too many!
Ward Heartburn by Eating First
On our trip to Jamaica, we laughed so hard at how many times we were popping tums throughout the day to ward off reoccurring heartburn, which was likely a result of too much drinking (hello all inclusive). Well, in Atlanta that heartburn reared it's ugly head again a few times and it wasn't until Courtney made a comment about being sure to eat before drinking that a lightbulb went off for a few of us -- was this the cause of all the heartburn? It's hard to say for sure but being on vacation and in a foreign place you don't eat as often as you would at home, then add drinks here and there (also not common at home), it's no wonder we were a little acid-y! Definitely taking the advice to "eat first" on the next trip!
Buy Water Wherever You Go
The twins are so crazy about water, it cracks me up! When we were in Jamaica they were the same way -- always collecting bottles of water wherever we'd go, but I've learned something from this practice: if you grab a bottled water, you drink it! Hey look at that! I can be a little fickle with water at times and typically I don't crave it, but once I start guzzling I realize I needed it! Just making it a practice to grab a bottle when it's offered (most hotels provide at least one in the room and some in the lobby), the result is that I inevitably drink more!
Split Alcoholic Drinks with Seltzer
This is actually something I suggested we do, and I know for me (a person who loves seltzer water), it worked out great! Instead of pouring a big glass of wine and just drinking that, I would pour half and then add equal parts seltzer water. Experimenting with this I discovered the most divine combination of seltzer and prosecco: Spindrift Grapefruit Seltzer and Grapefruit Secco Rossini (sold at Trader Joes). Please do yourself a favor and try this, this summer!
Bananas to keep the blues away
So one of my favorite parts of the trip was our quick trip to Trader Joes to stock up on snacks and drinks for the weekend. Of course, nobody can walk into Trader Joes and JUST by drinks, especially when that Olive Oil Popcorn is on display, but you know what else caught our attention? Bananas! The twins swear they ward off the blues and I can see that: there were plenty of times that banana saved me from starvation and held me over until our next meal. Such an easy, healthy snack to have on hand, especially on vacation!
Schedule Workouts 3 weeks in advance
My friend Michelle has always been a strategic thinker, planning ahead and doing the fast math to get the most bang for her buck! Well, when she mentioned to me that she schedules her Orange Theory workouts 3 weeks in advance, my mouth dropped! I'm lucky if I sign up before midnight the night before! Ugh!! Definitely taking a page from her book and plan ahead!!
So this one is pretty obvious right? Stress wreaks havoc on our bodies in more ways than most of us truly understand. But laughter? Laughter is good for the soul, and that's what I love about these girl's trips: I find myself laughing SO hard at the silliest things! Sometimes laughing to the point that I can't talk or finish my sentence. I just love that and in the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day with work and other stresses, you don't always get a good belly laugh. So thankful for these girls who keep my life LIGHT in the most positive and uplifting way!
Poop is good, but bring poo-pourri
When you get a bunch of women together the conversation goes all over the place, really! So it should come as no surprise that we touched on the topic of poop every now and then. We had some laughs over celebrating poops for weight loss, and how great/cleansing a good poop is - LOL! That said, four girls in a hotel room and pooppuri is a must! Noted for the nex trip.
Retainers & Night Guards, Oh My!
Seriously guys, dental hygiene and care is so so important!!!! I feel like my braces made a huge impact on my appearance, but I've seen a shift in my teeth since slacking on wearing my retainer. I did bring it to Atlanta and wear it and it was cute, matching with Ghadah who wears a nightguard. Bottomline: whatever your teeth-needs are, tend to them!!
Grab a Liberty Buddy
My friend Courtney ins in the Navy and it was so interesting to hear about her experience in the military - she's really loved it! She shared with us how there's "liberty buddies" assigned at each port to keep an eye on each other and I instantly clung to this idea as a great one for friends on a night out, or on a trip. Have you ever had one too many to drink or found yourself separated from your group at a nightclub? The liberty buddy ensures there's one person (at least) assigned to have your back and make sure you get home safe. Totally love that!
Skip the Bread
Ghadeer has lost about 15 lbs since the beginning of the year and I just love her approach. It started with elimintaing bread, and when she re-introduced it she noticed her body's reaction: it wasn't a good one! he's been experimenting with going gluten free and at every meal she'd skip the bread. At the airport, two egg breakfast instead of a breakfast sandwhich; at restaurants, a bunless burger or chiken sandwich. I love that she asked this in her order so there was no tempation when her food arrived!
Don't Throw Out the Diet for Vacation
This is where I struggle the most - every occasion, whether it's a birthday or trip or something to celebrate, feels like an opportunity to "treat" myself and throw my diet out the window. I LOVED that my friends stayed commited to their healthy habits on this trip, allowing for a splurge here and there but not completely throwing in the towl.
Treat Yo' Self!
Last but not least: just do it -- treat yourself! Order that massage, splurge on an expensive candle or body wash and just treat yourself! You desserve it! I know, pesonally, I have a tough time with this. I overanalyze the cost and expectations of others but man, it felt so good to let my hair down for a few days and just have a good time! Life is hectic but you gotta stop and smell the roses sometimes, you know? Can you tell I was living it up? Good. Cause I did! :)
Alright, so, there you have it!
Some easy, applicable tips from women, just like you, trying to maintain their best self and live well!
What are some of your wellness rituals?
Do you try to emulate the behavior of healthy friends? Who inspires you to be healthier?
Mini Recipe Cards with Printacular
Good morning friends!
Today I'm sharing a healthy hack with you!
One of my favorite aspects "healthy" living is trying new recipes. I'm always amazed at how delicious healthy tastes and I love exploring new breakfast, lunch and dinner swaps that will allow me to "crowd out" the bad stuff.
There's also a slew of easy-to-access recipes online!
One of my favorite sources for inspiration is Instagram because there's so many amazing accounts chock-full of good eats and they're easy to access from the grocery store or from within my kitchen. The only problem is the sheer number of awesome recipes I see and screenshot all the time. Finally, I instituted a new system for saving my favorite new ones to try and old favorites.
Enter Awesome Photo-Printing App, Printacular!
I used this app when I made a fun Instagram display in my old office and I've always loved how cute and compact the printable squares are! Here's a quick tutorial for using this same app to snap, print and save your favorite IG recipes:
Screenshot a few photos of the recipes, to include a picture, the ingredients and instructions. Sometimes it's hard to fit all this into one or two shots, which is fine. I will use up to three photos for each recipe.
Using the app, Layout, compile the photos for each recipe, depending on how many photos you took. You might use 1, 2 or 4 photo layouts to fit in everything; doesn't matter as long as you have the info you'll need later to try the recipe!
Upload your Layouts to Printacular to print your squares at the nearest Walgreens. Make sure you designate that you want the square photos! You'll also need to choose when you want to pick-up the photos -- I love that within the hour is one of the options!
Volia, that's it friends! Find a place to store and easily reference your recipe cards and you're good to go! No more hours of surfing Pinterest or wasted time stumbling through your phone in the kitchen.
I'm totally addicted to saving recipes this way! We have a small kichen so it saves on space as well!
What's your go-to method for saving, storing and referencing favorite recipes?
Do you search Instagram for new recipes? What are your favorite accounts?
Hey friends! It's another installment of Getting Fit Again, Bit by Bit!
I've had a really great week so I'm excited to share some of the things that are working for me on this journey to getting fit again. It's funny, in just a few months' time since I started this series I've learned so much about myself! It's interesting to see what methods are working to support my weight loss/workout goals and those that simply aren't working, but may have in the past!
It's been a refining/learning experience so far, and I hope that some of my insights can inspire/help you!
Find Workouts With Meaning
First of all - SoulCycle is my jam! I literally broke down and cried (read: sobbed!) in class last Saturday.
I mean, if there was ever an environment for a good cry, it might as well be SoulCycle and -- since telling a few friends this -- it turns out, I'm not the only one whose had a boo-hoo in class! The lights are dim (sometimes it's completely dark), there's candles lit and great music playing; plus self-empowering mantras coming from high-energy coaches. I LOVE IT!
And here's why: for me, working out has nothing to do with the way my body looks, it's all about how I feel. The best workouts are the ones that conjure up emotions within me -- sometimes they're thoughts/feelings like "I can't do this" -- then there's a subsequent breakthrough (or break down!) during the workout. In CrossFit this typically looks like "I can't go on" or "it's too heavy" and then I do! In SoulCycle, it was feelings of self blame and guilt/sadness about our son and subsequent feeling that we'll "rise above."
Which brings me to point #2 in the "what's working" category -- music and mantras!
Find Your Theme Song, and Play it Often
The song that made me cry during SoulCycle was Katy Perry's "Rise" and the lyrics are so powerful.
When, when the fire's at my feet again And the vultures all start circling They're whispering, "You're out of time," But still I rise
Oh, ye of so little faith Don't doubt it, don't doubt it Victory is in my veins I know it, I know it
You guys!! Get a song!! Get a mantra and play that sh*t on REPEAT!! It's so helpful. The music and the lyrics are motivating and self-empowering, which are all things I'm searching for on this journey, and that are just as important to my health as weight loss and workouts.
Granted: there's no vultures at my feet but I've sure been through a lot these past two years and in times of stress/depression/anxiety, it's easy to feel overwhelmed "circled" and consumed by negative thoughts (i.e. "you're out of time)... BUT STILL I RISE. (Insert praise-hand emoji here!)
Journal & Refresh Goals Along the Way
Along these same lines journaling and writing my goals on paper have been transformative. I'm a huge fan of Lara Casey's Powersheets -- they're essentially a goal planner for the year/half-year and they're awesome because for each big goal you create daily, weekly and monthly goals that you revisit and "tend" to regularly.
Meal Prep Like a Pro
Last, but certainly not least this week are these awesome and amazing magical containers! Yes. I called them magical because they have been a GAME CHANGER! I bought a pack of 20 from Costco and several months later, I'm still using them. They are microwavable and dishwasher safe, and something about them just makes you wanna meal prep! It's been so fun to have something "new" and easy to motivate me to do a Sunday meal prep -- something I used to do all the time but have struggled to do regularly since we had our son.
Next week I'll share some new recipes in rotation (and pictured here), as well as exactly how we're going about meal prep these days (our method has changed recently).
In the meantime, here's some truth on what's NOT working:
Blogging or doing pretty much anything consistently for an extended period of time - I'm learning that consistency is not my strong suit, you guys. It doesn't take much to knock me out of my routine and into a complete tizzy where the "me things" that *are* important fall to the wayside to make way for family gatherings, kids parties, JR appointments or work. I've noticed that it's very challenging to stick with any one thing and not get side tracked with #allthethings. I love what Lara Casey says about having too many good things! It's very tough to say "no" to people and ideas for projects and events and #allthethings but I'm slowly learning I have to say "no" to some things to say "yes" to more important things and I think it's a bit of a learning curve/change to admit/accept that those more important things are sometimes the simplest things in life: quiet time to read or write, meal prepping for the week or going to bed early to be able to wake up for an early workout!
I'm curious if you experience this too, and whether you've seen "too many good things" or just "too many things" get in the way of your workout or weight loss goals?
On the flipside, what's working for you lately? Do you have a theme song or workout that gets you emotional, too?
Getting Fit Again, Bit by Bit, Take TWO!
Here I am again, friends - sharing another weekly update on my long road back to better health! This week was good and bad.
Let's start with what's working:
My fitness journey is a little different this go around. I'm not at all focused on the scale or how I look, it's all about how I FEEL. The past two years have been really stressful and I see the impact on my health, whether it anxiety or emotional eating. That said, I wanted to incorporate some intention into my day: a quiet time to be still, reflect, find gratitude; center; and just, overall de-stress best I can! That said, this app has been AWESOME! It's free and so easy to use! I love that the "workouts" are as short as just 10 minutes, which makes it impossible to use the excuse "I don't have time." It also feels really great to get quiet! The app provides all the music and instruction. Definitely going to try to stick with this! (Learn more about this app here.)
Salad Club !
Salad club! <<< Sound the trumpets!!! >>> Oh how I've missed Salad Club!!
I mentioned that I switched jobs earlier this year to eliminate a long commute and a lot of work stress. I knew the trade-off would be good for my health because the new employer would also be my former employer - the place where I discovered Salad Club and used to workout at lunch a few days a week. Well, fast forward a few years and Salad Club is still going strong! This has been so great: to not have to think about lunch and know I can make a huge, delicious salad to satisfy me in the middle of day; game changer! #lifetimemember #saladismyjam
Salad in a Jar
I had a personal trainer in the months leading up to our wedding and I vividly remember her telling me "you love healthy food" and it's funny, she was right, I do! (I guess I just needed the reminder; same is true these days!) I'm really leaning into that now and aiming to have meals/snacks I know I love and salad is a true staple for me! I am lucky I actually LIKE salad! With this in mind, I've made Salads in a Jar when I know there not going to be Salad Club (Mondays, for example; due to varying schedules we often start Salad Club on Tuesdays). It's so, super easy to throw salad ingredients in a jar and them dump them in a big bowl the next day! It's easy to transport, fresh and delicious, and definitely a lot better for me than anything I could buy in the area.
Oh ya'll! I need my emoji praise hands right now!!!! This gym. There's just something about an empty gym. It's so invigorating yet so calming to get an hour ALONE at the gym in the afternoon. First of all, as a mom, my alone time is limited so when I do get an hour to myself it's glorious! I haven't felt my best during workouts (I feel rusty -- especially doing push-ups!) but I'm getting there and at this point, that's all that matters.
Alright, now let's get to what's NOT working:
Ugh! So, it feels great to be back in the gym but I don't miss running. There have been a few days I tried to do interval runs -- I used to run an average of 3 miles at least once a week! -- but ugh, I'm just not loving it. My legs feel super heavy and achy! I know I really need the cardio and really, REALLY need to work my aerobic endurance but it's just hard right now. Like, REALLY hard so, I'm trying, but it's slow going! Running has not been my favorite part of returning to the gym.
Managing Sugar Cravings
So I love my new job but there's a candy jar in my office and I'm already in a bad habit of helping myself throughout the day; hello mindless eating! Of course, moderation is key and a piece of candy now and then won't kill me but here's how this usually goes down: one piece opens the door for another and another and another! I'm a bottomless pit for sugar, I swear and I do so much better when I just pass it up altogether! I'm definitely going to have to work my will power muscle to overcome this!
Avoiding Fast Food
WHERE ARE ALL THE HEALTHY DRIVE-THROUGH JOINTS? << Serious question! >>
With all the mamas in this world who don't want to get of the car with a little one, I would think somebody would have established at least one healthy fast food restaurant by now, but nope, the choices remain: Burger King, Wendy's, McDonald's -- > with super limited healthy food choices, and I have to be honest, I'm using the "I can't / don't want to get out of the car" routine all the time. I'm also using the "I'm tired, I don't want to cook" excuse at home (seeing a pattern here?) and I totally hate that about myself right now. I NEVER used to eat fast food, like EVER. But these days I'm quick to come up with an excuse why I should! This is something I want to break ASAP on this journey to health again because I don't want to set that example for JR. More to come on this topic soon!
Another thing I'm not loving is feeding this kind of food to JR regularly! Although, as you can see, he's not complaining. Lol!
A few tips I'm living by this week:
You don't have to go all in. In fact, if you've been out of the game for awhile, ease back in! Don't think you have to work out everyday.
CROWD OUT! I'm going to talk more about this later but it's all about crowding out y'all! I haven't eliminated a bunch of stuff from my diet; instead, I've started adding things in -- healthy things!!! -- which naturally "crowds out" the unhealthy things. I'm loving this approach because it doesn't feel overly restrictive or unmanageable.
What's some things you've done toward getting healthy this week?
Small things you try next week?
When I saw Nicole & Chris' engagement photos, I knew instantly that they were a perfect fit for our community and as I got to know Nicole through reading her answers to the questions below, I was assured even more so! Nicole & Chris are two fun-loving, outdoors-y, sports' lovin' people and fitness has been part of their relationship from the start. Don't miss reading about Chris' kick-ass proposal!
Thanks for sharing these imaged Narrative Imagery.
How did you two meet?
A mutual friend, Katherine (my Coworker & Chris’ friend from college), thought we would hit it off so she arranged a blind date for us.
Did it have anything to do with fitness?
To some extend yes. Katherine knew I was very active and outdoorsy and that Chris liked to do crossfit and skydive. Because of these things, she felt we would be a good match. In her words, “we both like to do crazy things.”
How did Chris propose?
On a mountain bike ride, at the top of the hill. It was a complete surprise. (See attached photos.)
When did you start doing CrossFit?
He encouraged me to give CrossFit a try about a year before we got married (September 2015).
What box to you belong to?
What prompted your interest in the sport?
My main influence was Chris. The other driving factor was that the gym we belong to now participated in a mountain biking event. I tagged along because I love mountain biking. The people were so wonderful and I had such a great time that it furthered my interest and inspired me to go check it out.
Did your fiance start CrossFit around the same time? What prompted their interest?
Chris started CrossFit in 2008 in Hunnington Beach, CA. He got really into it and became an instructor. He had just competed in the sectionals as an individual and the regionals on a team when we met.
Chris got tired of walking around the gym looking for the dumbbell weight that he needed. He asked his gym at the time if they could do something about it and they basically told him no. That is when he decided to try CrossFit and he never looked back.
When you first started Crossfit, what was your initial reaction?
Everyone was so nice and friendly! I felt as though I had gained several friends after only one workout. I had previously been part of gym where I attended the same class several times a week and no one ever spoke to me. It was a completely different world. It is truly a community not just another place to work out.
What was your aim in doing CrossFit: to get stronger? lose weight? stress relief or something else?
I love exercising of all kinds. It is a great stress relief and endorphin boost for me. My goals in joining were to both get stronger and mix it up a bit. I really enjoy that the workouts are different every day!
Is fitness a big part of your relationship? In what ways?
Yes! Fitness is a huge part of our relationship. We have a home gym and really enjoy doing workouts together. We also love to mountain bike, rock climb and snowboard together.
Do you relate any elements of Crossfit to marriage?
There is a lot of team building, encouragement, support and communication involved in CrossFit. It is kind of like being part of a sports team. I believe a successful marriage requires strong and honest communication, encouragement and teamwork. We aren’t always at our best and we must lean on our partners from time to time to pull us through. So, yes, I do believe there are elements of CrossFit that relate and can even strengthen a marriage.
How has CrossFit changed your body?
I am stronger than I have ever been. The shape of my body hasn’t changed a ton because I have always been very active. I do think my muscles are more defined now.
Are you happy with those changes?
Definitely! It helps me petal up the mountain with less effort.
Did you do anything fitness-wise to prepare for your big day?
Not really. We just stuck to our normal. Biked and did CrossFit as often as our schedules would allow.
Do you plan to add any CrossFit or fitness touches to your wedding day?
No. But we did have costumes for the dance party 😊
What's your favorite CrossFit move/exercise/wod?
My favorite CrossFit move is probably hand stand walks but I also really enjoy back squats and kettle bell swings.
My favorite type of WOD is one that involves a lot of quick weight body movements and running.
Do you eat paleo?
We eat paleo-ish. We are both strictly gluten free and I do not eat dairy. We do eat grains/starches such as quinoa, sweet potatoes, corn, rice, & oats from time to time but we do aim to limit our intake. We have both tried strict paleo and found that with how active we are, we need a small about of grains/starch daily. We do tend to maximize vegetable intake and focus on healthy proteins & fats.
Was that way of eating something you learned about through box?
Chris learned about paleo and got his way of eating from the box. I picked some of it up from him and learned the rest from dealing with gut health issues. Everything I have learned has inspired me to take nutrition classes and I will be a Certified Nutrition Therapy Practitioner this February.
What were the results of eating paleo? Did you lose weight? feel better? get stronger?
Chris lost weight (this was before we met). I just felt much better. I now feel as though my body is getting the nutrients it needs and that I have more energy and endurance.
What's your favorite paleo snack?
I love bell peppers, especially orange ones.
Do you have any long-term CrossFit goals?
I would like to be more flexible. Overhead squats are challenging for me. I would also like to be able to do kipping pull-ups & toes to bar without ripping my hands open.
Where do you see you and your hubby in 10 years from now? (Dream big!)
In 10 years from now, I see my husband and me with a couple kids who also love to exercise and do all the activities we love. I see myself with a thriving nutrition practice helping encourage people to eat and live well. I see Chris with a bike light company. And, I see us both continuing to be active and enjoying our CrossFit Community.
Thank you for sharing your love story with us, Nicole & Chris, and for these beautiful images, Narrative Imagery.
Have a question for Nicole or Chris? Leave it in the comments below!