Energy Boosting Smoothie and a Treat!

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My kids and I blend fruit and veggie smoothies several times a week for breakfast or post-workout snacks. We go through a LOT of produce here! I’ve shared my smoothie combos on my Facebook page often but I thought I would share a couple of recipes my girls and I used this week.

The first smoothie is an energy booster that my older daughter has made twice this week because she’s having a hard time adjusting to early mornings in anticipation of school starting next week. (Full disclosure: She’s been a beast and school hasn’t even begun! This smoothie might need to be a regular menu item.)

Cherries provide an anti-inflammatory effect that can help reduce stress, and they taste yummy! The natural sugars in peaches provide energy and the flaxseed and oats provide filling, sustained energy.

IMG_2625Cherry Peach Energy Booster

1/2 cup cherries, fresh or frozen

1 medium peach

2 Tbs dry oats

1 Tbs ground flaxseed

Blend and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

The second smoothie is a little treat. With the fall season looming, I decided to join the pumpkin spice bandwagon. Instead of the high calorie commercial pumpkin spice treats, I decided to make my own.

IMG_2627Pumpkin Delight

1/2 cup pureed pumpkin (not pie filling)

1 tsp Pumpkin Pie spice

1 tsp maple syrup

1/2 cup almond milk (adjust this amount for the consistency you like)

Blend and enjoy!

 

 

 

P.S. Join my September Jump Start email list! The kids are back in school so its time to start a great new routine! The Jump Start will provide you with 4 weekly emails in September that outline a workout complete with full exercise descriptions. All workouts can be done in about 20 minutes with no equipment. Join here today!

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What Fitness Equipment Should I Buy?

As a fitness professional, I get questions about lots of different topics.

One of which is….

“What fitness equipment should I buy to use at home?”

There are so many ways I could answer this question. I don’t suggest that anyone HAS to buy fitness equipment in order to get a good workout. Bodyweight workouts are great and you can use stairs, park benches or the curb out front to workout and never spend a cent. 

Or you could spend thousands setting up a home gym.

If you’re looking to expand your home workout routine without taking out a second mortgage, here are some items that pack a big exercise punch without pounding your budget.

A yoga mat is a good general piece of equipment even if you’re not into morning vinyasa. You can use it for stretching or foam rolling (Which I highly recommend, by the way!). You can also use it as a base for doing other activities to protect your hardwood floors or keep from slipping on tile. Yoga mats are very portable too so if you decide to workout outside you can keep your butt out of the dirt.

Resistance bands are a great addition to bodyweight workouts or a great alternative to dumbbells. They take up very little space and like a yoga mat, are very portable. And if you think bands won’t provide heavy enough resistance to give you a good workout, think again! You can get a killer full body workout with a couple of bands, attached handles and a door jam attachment.

A jumprope. Yep, a simple jumprope. If you haven’t jumped rope since elementary school I want you to go immediately to the nearest toy store or dollar store and grab a jumprope for a few bucks. You don’t need a high-speed, fancy sports rope. Just a simple rope with a decent set of handles and you can get a workout that will kick your ass!

Kettlebells are a little bit more of an investment than the other items on this list but you can get a wide range of exercises with two or three bells in varying weights. They can be used in similar ways as dumbbells but take up less space. Some of my favorite exercises with a kettlebell are squats (I like any kind of squat, really!), overhead presses and swings.

My personal home gym happens to have a lot of equipment in it. I know, I know…I advocate no equipment, bodyweight workouts all time, how can this be? Most of my equipment was given to me or bought second hand or at deep discounts – thank you Sports Authority going-out-of-business sale. And it has taken me many years to acquire all the equipment I have. If you’re just starting out working out at home then you can definitely do it with nothing or just a few pieces and add to your home gym over time when the opportunity arises.

Happy Exercising!

Note: This post contains affiliate links

Stop Overthinking Your Health Routine

Focus on basic behaviors – don’t get caught up in details

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There is so much health information to be found online and in the media that many (most!) people get bogged down in the details of their fitness and nutrition plan and lose sight of the big picture. Or they suffer from information overload and end up doing nothing at all.

“What proportion of protein to carbs should I be eating?”

“Should I be doing Keto or paleo? Or something else?”

“Should I stop eating gluten?”

“Do I run in the morning or at night? Should I run at all?!”

“Which supplements should I be taking?”

“Should I do 2 sets or 3 sets of strength training?”

“Do I need to be doing CrossFit?”

And on and on and on…

There have been countless studies done on what behaviors lead to good health. The studies compare people who get sick or die with those who stay alive and healthy during a given period of time. A variety of these studies consistently identify 5 main behaviors associated with good health.

  1. Don’t smoke.
  2. Exercise.
  3. Maintain a healthy weight.
  4. Get 7 hours of sleep.
  5. Limit alcohol.

These five basic behaviors will have the greatest impact on your daily life and health. There’s nothing wrong with details, sometimes details are important and necessary, just don’t let them take over and cause you to lose sight of what you’re really trying to achieve. If your goal is general health and fitness, then focus on these 5 behaviors. make daily decisions that help you eat well, move and sleep. That’s it.

If you already don’t smoke and/or limit alcohol intake then you’re ahead of the game.  I don’t think these behaviors need a lot of explaining. If you do smoke, talk to your doctor or check out programs to help you stop. If you do drink alcohol, do it moderately. For example, limit it to social situations.

The most important thing for the remaining 3 behaviors is consistency.

It really doesn’t matter if you do CrossFit or run marathons or power lift or do yoga or just jump rope in your driveway. Just move. Every day. Move your body and get your heart rate up. Simple as that.

Eating well will help you maintain a healthy weight. Choose simple, whole foods. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and dairy. Limit junk food, fast food and overly processed foods.

Get your butt to bed! We all stay up later than we should thinking we just need to get a few more things done. But regular 5-hours-or-less nights of sleep will wear you down over time. Trust me when I tell you that you will become MORE productive if you leave your to-do list until tomorrow and just go to sleep.

I know for some, figuring out how to eat well and exercise can still be a challenge but don’t sweat the small stuff!

Happy Exercising!

P.S. Message me if I can help you with any of the 5 behaviors mentioned here!

If…Then… Do You Have A Backup Plan?

Your workout and nutrition routine should be consistent and progressive to give you the best chance of seeing results but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Consistency over the longterm is what really works. But let’s be real, life happens and sometimes you have to stray from your routine. You have a sick child at home or you have to travel unexpectedly or a pipe bursts and you have a flooded basement. And on and on.

What if you skip your workout for a few days? What if you eat more tacos than planned (I’ve never done this, I’ve just heard people do!!) What if you are more sore than expected after a workout and can’t do your prescribed routine the next day?

Having an “If…Then…” plan allows you to get back to your routine quickly without beating yourself up for days when you make less than desirable choices. (I’m looking at you, Girl Scout cookies.) Studies show that “if-then” planning (contingency planning) ups your chances of success no matter what you’re trying to accomplish. This can work especially well with health habits.

For example:

“IF someone brings donuts into the office on a random Wednesday, THEN I’ll avoid the break room and eat the healthy snack I have stashed in my desk.” This obviously requires that you plan ahead and have healthy snacks in your desk in the first place!

“IF my schedule gets crazy and I skip a few workouts, THEN I’ll find 20 minutes the next day to take a walk or stretch.” Doing something is better than nothing and can get you back on track.

“IF I get sick and can’t exercise, THEN I’ll continue to eat well to feel better and workout again soon.” It’s important to rest when you’re sick but plan to start with light exercise again as soon as possible.

No plan and no person is perfect. You’re going to have bumps in the road. Having a back up will get you back on track. Even the back up plan won’t be perfect and won’t always work but its better than having no plan at all.

But a back up plan is only as good as you make it. Don’t blow this off. Give some thought to the things that could derail your exercise and nutrition routine. Be honest about your cravings and weaknesses. Be honest about things that get you off track. Keep your personal motivation in mind. Why are you exercising in the first place? Why are you trying to change your eating habits? If you always keep your personal reasons in mind, it makes getting back into your routine that much easier. 

Take time today to think about some of these things. Make yourself a plan. Let me know if I can help!

Happy Exercising!IMG_1204

Workout…RECOVER…Repeat

(affiliate links included in this post)

The older I get, the important recovery time has become for me. In my mid 40’s, my workouts can still be intense but my recovery takes sooooo much longer. Like, A LOT longer! Some days I get out of bed and feel like I’m 100 years old!

20 years ago I could go for a run, grab a bagel and a shower and go about my day. And do it all over again the next day and the next and so on. Not anymore!

As we age it takes our muscles longer to repair themselves from the damage we do during hard training. I hate to admit this but it’s reality.

Besides an extra rest day here and there (and a nap) I use several tools that help me recover a little faster and get me ready to move again.

My hip and hamstring flexibility is abysmal. It always has been, my high school track coach can confirm this. I’ve never been able to reach my toes.

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Just. Can’t. Reach!

So I use a Stretch Out Strap. It helps me stretch, and hold the stretch, with good form without bouncing around and I can use the loops to slowly stretch deeper as I loosen up. I’m never going to be Olympic gymnast-flexible but the Stretch Out Strap helps me be a slightly looser version of the Tin Man.

I have very high arches that get tight and sore sometimes so this Sportline Recovery Massage Stick works great for that. It also works well on tight muscles to work out the kinks.

My Fitness Gear foam roller is my new favorite piece of equipment. I think I love it more than my treadmill! I use it for self massage on my calves, hamstrings, quads and hips after a hard run and for a few minutes at night when I’m winding down. It’s done a lot of good for my tight hip flexors.

These tools along with rest, lots of water and good food help me feel less like I’m 100 and more like I’m 45!

Happy Exercising!

How to Prep for the Grocery Store

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We’ve all heard the saying that health is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise, right? I don’t know if those numbers are right but I do know that nutrition and exercise work together and it’s difficult to have a well rounded healthy lifestyle if you only focus on one part. That’s not to say you have to do everything at once. For example, you can take a month or two to focus on establishing a good exercise routine before you worry about changing your eating habits. But eventually, to work towards your best health, you’ll need a combination of good exercise and good nutrition.

Once you’re ready to focus on nutrition, what do you do? I had a friend recently tell me she was standing in the grocery store just looking at the shelves and not knowing what to buy. So here are a few tips to get you started if you’re not sure what the heck to do.

  1. Make a list of fruits and vegetables you like. Don’t try to “force” yourself to eat things you don’t like just because you’ve heard they’re healthy. (I’m looking at you, kale!) You’ll be miserable and won’t stick to it. If you don’t like the texture of Lima beans, don’t put them on the list. If peeling oranges seems like a lot of work for a little piece of fruit, then don’t put them on the list. A healthy diet has lots of fruits and vegetables so make that the bulk of your list but you can also add things like nuts, seeds and beans. (Link to webpage)
  2. Find some recipes or prep techniques for the list you just made. Maybe you find some fruit smoothie recipes that look interesting. Or maybe a vegetable side dish recipe or a bean salad that looks good. Having a plan for what you buy will cut down on waste and help you feel better prepared for the week.
  3. Make a list of your favorite meals and think of ways to make them a bit healthier. Do you love toast with your eggs in the morning? Spread it with mashed avocado or natural peanut butter instead of butter. or make it with whole grain bread. Can you add some pureed or shredded vegetables to one of your favorite dishes? Can you cut down on a sauce or some cheese in a recipe? 
  4. Some people do detailed meal planning and prep every week. If this works for you, especially at the beginning, then go for it. Write down all your meals and snacks for the week and build your shopping list from that. Personally, I plan my family’s dinners but breakfast, lunches and snacks are not usually planned out. I try to have a couple of options available. For example, my kids like cereal, fruit, bagels, oatmeal, yogurt and eggs so I have all of those available for them to choose from for breakfast.
  5. Think outside the box. You don’t have to have breakfast food for breakfast or sandwiches for lunch. A salad of baby spinach, chopped apples, walnuts and dried cranberries makes a great breakfast! And I eat oatmeal or cereal at any time of the day.
  6. It can be challenging to stay away from processed food but also keep things convenient. There’s nothing wrong with some prepackaged, processed foods as long as you pay attention to ingredients and as long as you’re not making these items your primary source of nutrition. Fruit and nut granola bars are easy to stash in your bag or desk for an afternoon snack or for your commute home. Whole-grain crackers and cheese slices or pretzels and hummus are good too. Precut vegetables make it easy to throw together a salad for lunch or dinner. Jarred marinara sauce makes an easy topping for chicken or pasta and you can add shredded vegetables to boost its nutritional value. Canned beans or soups or frozen vegetables are good to keep on hand as well.
  7. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. The middle aisles are usually where all the pre-packaged junk food is. Stick to the perishable sections like produce, the meat and dairy case and the bakery department. Pre-cooked chicken or packaged, marinated meats can make putting a meal together quick and easy but stay away from processed meats like lunch meat and hotdogs. Choose low-fat dairy options or non-dairy like almond milk. If you like yogurt, choose brands with real fruit that provide some sweetness instead of added sugar. Whole grain or Ezekiel bread make quick, healthy sandwiches or toast.

Unless you’re an elite athlete training for a competition or under strict doctor’s orders, you don’t need to make yourself crazy over your food. Focus on fruits and vegetables and use common sense.

Happy Exercising!

How to Encourage Your Partner to Get Healthy

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When you exercise regularly and eat healthy and are working hard to improve your fitness, it can be frustrating to have a partner or other family members that don’t do the same. Usually, our first instinct is to do whatever we can to get them on board, right? But there are good ways to do that and some not so good ways.

First of all, understand that it has to be your partner’s choice and decision. No matter what, you can’t force someone else’s behavior change but you can encourage and support it. Just be patient. I’ve worked in the fitness industry for almost 25 years and have been married for almost 23 and my husband just adopted a regular exercise routine in the last two years. Talk about patience!!

  1. The number 1 thing you can do is be an example. Continue your regular exercise routine and healthy eating habits. If your healthier lifestyle has you sleeping better, mention that. If you’re missing less work, mention it. If your back pain is gone, mention it. Hopefully, your spouse or partner notices these things on their own but if not, its ok to talk about the positive impact fitness has had on you. Don’t brag or be condescending, though, because that will backfire! See #2 below!
  2. Making snarky or sarcastic comments (even if they come across funny) doesn’t send a good message. Embarrassment, shame or nagging usually has the opposite effect and your partner will dig his heels in and go in the opposite direction. And lets be honest, do you really want to embarrass your significant other? Even if this tactic works in the short term, your partner will be doing it begrudgingly so it won’t last.
  3. Send the right message. Make sure your partner knows that you want them to exercise and eat well because its good for them and will improve and enhance their life and their family’s life. If you talk about setting future goals together such as being available for your kids and grandkids, that can be very motivating. Having personal goals is an important step but setting goals together as a couple or a family helps too.
  4. Don’t make choices for them. It’s not your place to tell them they should lose 20 pounds or they should stop eating McDonald’s. Leave that to the doctors! “Should” statements are very judgy! Your partners first priority might be to work on their flexibility so they can tie their shoes. Don’t assume that you know what they should or want to improve.
  5. Remember that your way is not the only way. Maybe you love Crossfit but your spouse wants to go running. Or you go to Pilates and your partner wants to learn martial arts. Let them figure out what works for them. My husband is a meticulous food tracker and I don’t track food at all. We each have our own way of doing things and it works for each of us. Be supportive even if its not something you like to do.
  6. Stock the kitchen with healthy foods you both like. This goes along with tip number 5 about not expecting your partner to do exactly what you do. Instead of trying to force them to eat what you eat, find out what healthier options they might be open to even if it’s something you don’t like.
  7. Lastly, always stay positive. Always. Recognize the smallest of steps even if your partner only makes 1 positive choice out of 15 negative choices. Don’t attack your partner if they skip a workout or decide to have a handful of cookies or an order of cheesy fries. Encourage the positive, ignore the negative.

Be patient. Be positive. Be supportive. They’ll get there eventually!

Happy Exercising!