Butternut Squash Fall Soup: Under 200 calories per serving

I’ve been feeling under the weather this week but after work today I decided to make myself a healthy hot meal to help soothe my sore throat. A while back my roommate made a similar soup and it was amazing! So I decided to tweak the recipe a bit to make it easier.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large butternut squash (peeled and cubed)
  • 4 large carrots (chopped – I didn’t peel them)
  • 1 small yellow onion (peeled and sliced)
  • 2 small green apples (or whatever your preference – the sweet balances out the squash)
  • 2-3 cups broth of your choice (I’m actually thinking about just using water or a mixture of water and almond milk next time to keep the sodium level low)
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves

Instructions:

  • Heat a large soup pot to med/high heat and drop just a dab of extra virgin olive oil into the pan
  • Add chopped onion and stir until they brown
  • add in broth (or water/almond milk mixture) and the rest of the chopped veggies

  • mix in nutmeg, cinnamon, and ground cloves
  • stir and bring to a boil
  • cover and let simmer on low/med heat for 15 minutes
  • veggies will shrink and soften
  • add mixture (I did this with about 2 cups at a time) to a blender or food processor and then pour into another pan, serving dishes, or containers for later use. If you’re a non-glamorous chef like myself then it will look something like this:

This would be a great addition to a holiday meal but was super filling by itself. I split the entire recipe into thirds, had 1/3 for dinner and the rest into containers for lunch this week.

It’s also amazing just how LOW calorie (and filling) this dish is. Try it for yourself and let me know what you think and what adjustments you make. I created a nutrition label below 🙂

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Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie Under 300 Calories

Having trouble eating breakfast in the morning? Try drinking it. A good way to get fruit down on the go is through smoothies but without the ice cream 😉

This morning I created a smoothie with stuff I had around the house:

I blended up:

1 1/2 frozen banana (freeze bananas if you know you won’t be able to eat them before they go bad)

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

286 calories 🙂

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10 Ways to Stop Snacking at Night

I can go the entire day and eat healthy, get my workout in, and feel great. I am a warrior when it comes to avoiding donuts in the break room and saying no to Starbucks runs but when its past dinnertime and I’m alone in my room I want nothing more than to secretly eat EVERYTHING. And sometimes, honestly, I do. ENOUGH! Here are the ways I’m going to turn this bad habit around:

  1. Drink water. As soon as I finish my meal I am going to drink a large bottle of water. It’s a great way to get all those fluids in before the end of the day and still have time to do so without waking yourself up in the middle of the night with a full bladder.
  2. Hot tea. It’s finally fall and the temps are dropping. Invest in those wonderful teas that calm you down, relax you, and put you into a good evening mood. One of my favorites is wild raspberry hibiscus.
  3. Brush your teeth! It’s easier to say no to snacks and night caps after your teeth are totally clean. Get in the habit of establishing a healthy bedtime routine. Brush and floss your teeth after dinner. Take time to enjoy it, play your favorite nighttime relaxation music (mine currently is Mat Kearney).
  4. Only eat at the dining table. And stop eating in front of your TV, computer, in your bedroom, etc. If we train our brains to recognize that there’s only one place in the house/apartment to eat then we will be less likely to think about snacking when we aren’t there over time. Make meals their own event, just like you do for your workouts, reading time, etc. When you do eat, do JUST that. Take time to consciously absorb and savor your food, feel it nourishing your body, and notice how foods make you feel mentally and physically as you eat them. Soon you’ll be aware of exactly what sugar does to your body within minutes of eating it. Your body wants your brain to know these things, it just can’t always be as loud as your thought process, listen to it.
  5. Get busy & distract yourself. More often than not when I do overeat after dinner it’s because I’m bored or because I think I have nothing better to do. Get in the zone like I talked about in my happiness post and let your mind get absorbed with other tasks. Have some things at hand you can automatically pick up when times get tough. Sudoku puzzles, Pinterest, Facebook (yes, I’m telling you to FB instead of eating potato chips), seriously WHATEVER works and over time not eating after dinner will become a habit and you won’t need these things. Get involved in a good book, write, have solo dance parties, I like to play BrainAge on my Nintendo DSi. Do some bedtime stretches, go on a walk, call a friend, call your family.
  6. Close the kitchen. Some people need to establish rules for themselves until they create a habit. My Mom used to say “the kitchen is closed after 7pm” and this would keep her from going back and making late night snacks and treats. Give your body a couple of hours to digest food before bed. Ever notice how hard it is to fall asleep on a super full stomach? I always feels better when I don’t eat 2-3 hours before bed.
  7. Find other ways to deal with your emotions. I think we have all eaten (or not eaten) purely out of stress/emotions in the past. We deserve chocolate after such a stressful/hard day. Find other ways to vent and unleash those emotions. Journal, listen to calming music, meditate, talk to someone, watch stand up on Netflix – seriously laughter helps!
  8. When all else fails, go to bed. I’ve seriously had to lock myself in my room before away from my roommates pizza and brownies in the past to keep myself from breaking a great day of nutrition and rough workouts. If you really think you can’t handle it, get in bed, and go to sleep. You’ll never wake up in the morning and think “omg I WISH I had stayed up later to eat an entire cake” trust me.
  9. Learn the difference between feeling actually hungry and feeling light. We often trick ourselves into thinking we’re hungry. How many times have you said or heard someone say “I’m not super hungry, but I could eat” – we ALL could eat, always, but the trick is to only eat when our bodies need the food, energy, and nourishment. You should go to bed without feeling full, your stomach should feel satisfied and lighter as food is being digested, this isn’t a signal that you NEED a night-time snack, it’s just how we all should feel when we get ready for sleep.
  10. Keep the big picture in mind. Nothing is going to change if you don’t actually change your actions. It’s one thing to get motivated and pin all the exercise pictures on Pinterest but if you keep eating at night you won’t reach your goals. The first few days are going to be hard, but I PROMISE you that if you stick with it, after a week, you won’t miss it.

What What About Your Butt: Exercises For Your Tush

Everyone knows you can’t spot reduce or lose weight in one particular area, however, there are exercises you can do to change the shape of certain areas over time. And the more fat you lose, the more these results will show. I always say I’ve got a 6 pack just hiding under my tummy flub. Here are some of my favorite exercises for the caboose (in no particular order). You really can lift it!

  • Front Leg Lunge – stand up straight and lunge forward with your hands on your hips while you take a long step forward with one leg. Bend at the knee no further than 90 degrees. Your knee should be right over your foot and never past your toes. Be careful of hyper-extending. Step back and repeat 15-20 times on each leg.
  • Squats and Wall Sits– you can use a wall for balance if you need. Hold your arms out straight in front of you, parallell with the ground. Squat down as if you are sitting on an imaginary chair, again holding your knees at a 90 degree angle and keeping your back flat. For the wall sit, simple hold the squat position against the wall, it looks easy but try holding it for 1-2 minutes and feel the burn.
  • Leg Lift With Hip Raise– While lying flat on your back with your legs straight, raise one leg (keeping it straight) up into the air. Keep your arms flat to the ground and then raise your hips into the air, hold for 5-10 seconds and repeat 15 or so times with each leg.
  • Back Leg Butt Lift – this is one of my ABSOLUTE favorites. I learned it back in the day when I was like 10, doing my Mom’s crazy 80s workout DVDs – The Firm. Get on all fours with your forearms and knees on the ground. Raise one leg backwards at a 90 degree angle and lift straight up. You’ll feel this pretty fast. I usually do about 50-60 on each leg. You can also do a similar exercise where  instead of raising your leg at a 90 degree angle to the back, prop yourself up on your right hand, with your left forearm still on the ground. Then raise your right leg to the side (yes, like a dog taking a leak).
  • Forward Bends and Kicks – this will improve your balance and help with lower back pain. Stand with your feet together and then bend forward while raising one leg back behind you. As you do this hold out your arms straight in front of you for balance. Hold. Then repeat 12-15 times with each leg.
  • Standing Diagonal Kicks – standing with your hands by your hips, raise one leg diagonally behind you, hold for 10-15 seconds, release. Repeat 10-15 times on each leg.
  • Simple Bridge – similar to the leg lift with a hip raise. Except for this one you keep both feet on the ground and raise your hips up, keeping your arms/hands on the floor. Hold for as long as you can and release. To up the burn, squeeze and release as you hold.
  • Chair Lunge – these WORK and by work I also mean BURN.  I will do 12 of these on each leg and be like “omg omg omg HALP!” You can also use a bed or something that’s about the same height as a chair. Rest one foot back behind you on the chair then lunge forward with the other leg making sure to not extend past 90 degrees.
  • Calf Raises – you wouldn’t think these would do much but I guarantee you’ll feel these fast. There are 3 ways to do these depending on how you place your feet. Start with your toes pointing straight out in front of you with feet together. Then raise up onto your toes 15 times slow then 10 times fast. Do this 4 times. Then switch it up to get your inner and outer calves by pointing your toes together in a triangle (like you’re about to click your heels like Dorothy) and then also with your toes pointed outwards with your heels touching. Some people may want to use a chair for balance.
  • Side Leg Lift – laying on your side resting on your elbow. Take your legs and move them 1-2 inches in towards your stomach so they aren’t completely straight from your body (this protects your lower back). Then raise your top leg up and down slowly and controlled. Do about 25-30 reps on each leg. You can also modify this for your inner thigh by bending your knee of your top leg and placing your foot in front of you, then lift your bottom leg up, keeping it straight.
  • Superman – this is great for your butt and your lower back. Lay on your stomach and hold your arms straight out in front of you while you lift both legs off the ground. Try to only have your stomach touching the ground. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then rest and repeat 15 times. You can also do flutter kicks with your legs to add more of a challenge.

These are just a few of my favorite tush exercises but there’s tons more out there! I’ll leave you with this gem I found on Pinterest while back…

Plan it out: How to Tackle Your Procrastination and Excuses

I’ve had ENOUGH! I just went back and read through all of my 30DS posts and results and wow, I’m motivated again. But thinking back on the past month or so I can see WHY I haven’t been successful. I keep “starting” the Ripped in 30 DVD, giving up halfway through the workout, then not doing it the next day. I need a game plan. I need a SYSTEM!

I’ve been thinking about how upset I am  for not having a flat stomach already. So I decided that as fun as it may be to listen to myself complain, I’m actually going to TAKE action.

I have 19 days to get that much closer to my goals. 19 days until I get to see my boyfriend (who has been gone for 9 months). THIS is motivation. Down to the wire.

First thing I did was make a calendar for the rest of the month and the next 19 days. I decided I’m going to do the 30 Day Shred with all my might for the rest of the month (and then continue after of course). I printed out my routine and schedule goals and started highlighting each of the levels for the different days. I gotta tell ya, as I went along, and the more I realized how much of a plan I was making, I felt more confident, more sure of myself. I now know that THIS is going to work and I’m going to get back on track.

For me, accountability is what I need to move forward. It’s why I’m always blogging and checking in at the gym. It doesn’t even matter if other people care what I’m doing, I just know that other people see it and that keeps me accountable.

I’m also going to make the commitment to track my mood, feelings, energy level, etc and then eventually share it on here. When I went back and read how I was feeling on only the 6th day of 30DS before, it really inspired me to get started again. In order to do this I’ve created a worksheet for myself (what can I say, I’m an admin at heart).  It’s composed of a section for each day of the week to record: my workouts, mood, energy, & motivation levels, successes, and my challenges for the day. I think keeping a log and seeing how much progress I make in all faucets of my life will really encourage me to not give up. I’ve included the Word document for you below to print out and use yourself! 🙂

Weekly Fitness and Nutrition Track Sheet

Our entire lives we plan for school with weekly planners, we make work flows in our jobs, we even plan savings and budget accounts. So why not make a plan for your fitness and your health. Here’s to accountability!

Benefits of Exercise: How ONE Workout Can Get You Back on Track

OMG! I don’t want to go to the gym!

I feel so faaaat!

I just got home from work and I’m in my yoga pants now and I feel skinny, I deserve a cookie.

I’ll start tomorrow

I’ll start AFTER Halloween….ooo and Thanksgiving, I’ll probably eat lard the entire month of December, too. OK! January 1st, I am gonna be AFTER THIS!

My pants feel tight. Probably because I just washed them….probably on hot, too. That’s it.

My clothes are SHRINKING!

Well I am NOT as fat as that *while watching some extreme obesity show on TLC*

Many of us have had these thoughts, said these things, or heard others make the same excuses. Really, we are just making excuses to stay unhappy. Nachos or whatever you crave may FEEL and taste SOOO GOOD when you are eating it, but what do you feel like afterwards? What about the next day when you have to get back into your work clothes and then get mad at the night self for eating in front of the TV. It’s so easy to make excuses, because old habits are easy to follow.

If people got fat the minute they started eating bad food, many of us would probably eat less of it. Kind of how like in college you thought you’d be the hot shot and take 6 shots of Captain Morgan to “get the party started” and then 20-30 minutes later realized you’re an idiot that’s only friend for the next 6 hours was going to be the toilet. We live in an IMMEDIATE and instant gratification seeking society. Text me back now. I want my fries and a shake in 3 minutes or less. Name a time when you have waited for something, patiently and without complaining. Technology is great in many ways but in others it’s turned us into a demanding and unrealistic society.

Same goes for your health and fitness. Eating healthy may not make you feel AMAZING the minute you’re done with a salad, but it will make you feel better the next day, and the next week, knowing you’ve been nourishing your body and it’s starting to show.

We often don’t want to do things we can’t have immediate effects for. I don’t want to go to the gym right now because right now not moving sounds more appealing. However, I AM going to go because I know that once I get there, once I get moving, and afterwards I’m going to feel more motivated. If you get up and promise yourself to move tonight, do SOMETHING, go on a run, do some aerobics, shoot hoops, lift weights, etc you WILL start to feel more motivated. We have to create this motivation for ourselves. Get some exercise tonight and start back on the path to your health.

The benefits of exercise are simple and obvious but we often need a good reminder:

  • Stress reliever
  • Boosted energy
  • Better sleep
  • Strengthened immune system
  • Improves bone and joint strength
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Increased endurance and stamina
  • Improved mood
  • Happiness – increasing endorphin levels
  • Healthier heart
  • Increased metabolism
  • Feeling stronger
  • Reduces stress/depression
  • Improves brain cells and synapse reactions – makes you sharper and smarter
  • Help your body image. When we workout we feel good and we hold our heads higher

Are you in your workout gear yet? 🙂

My Struggles

I’ve decided that every now and then I’ll be doing some more personal blog posts.  Sometimes we can look at celebrities and their weight loss, before and after pictures of random people who completed p90X and although it’s amazing, there’s no personality behind it. What did this person go through? What was their thought process? How many times did they want to give up? How many cheat days did they secretly have that involved pizza?

So I’m owning up. My 30 Day Shred progress was AWESOME. And I received a lot of awesome and encouraging support along the way, from the bloggers, from my friends on FB, you name it. Then I moved into a new place and got caught up in some bad habits. The Jillian Michael’s workouts trailed off and I’ve gained back some of the inches I worked SO hard to lose. Chances are that those people in the before and after pictures have went through the same thing.

For weeks now I’ve felt like a complete failure. My boyfriend gets back from his deployment soon and I haven’t met all those crazy goals I wanted yet. Part of me really wanted to just GIVE UP. But today I’m staying positive and focusing on all the things I’ll need to do in order to make this happen. This is the next phase.

I think it’s important that we all realize and embrace these moments of what may feel like complete failure. Losing weight, getting in shape, changing our lifestyles, these are HARD things to do. And I don’t think enough people talk about how hard it is. Infomercials try to advertise easy ways to lose weight and we all know they don’t work and aren’t sustainable. It’s also easy to look at DVD programs and think all they had to do was stick to something for 30-90 days and that’s it! It is true, that IS it, and all you have to do, be consistent. But that doesn’t mean it’s not hard. Be PROUD of all your accomplishments. You didn’t stop at the store on the way home to get ice cream, you went to bed on time, you may have had some dessert but you had LESS than you might have had otherwise. These are ALL steps in the right direction.

It’s also important to realize what triggers us to overeat, to indulge, to literally stop caring about our bodies. Have you ever punished yourself with food? You know what I’m talking about. You eat something you know is bad, that will make you feel bad, guilty, awful about yourself. You may even KEEP eating after you’re past that point of feeling awfully full. Our minds have to be on track WITH us in this. This isn’t just a body thing, this is a mentality thing.

I’m now going to share with you what to me, is horrifying. Back in 2010 I was depressed and I didn’t even know it. I had been in a two-year relationship that was slowly tearing me apart, mentally and physically. I had gained close to 50lbs and I had never been an obese person before. I got up to 211 pounds which is STILL hard for me to admit. When our minds aren’t happy and healthy, it SHOWS on our bodies. You make time every day to eat healthy and workout right? Or you are going to start. Make time for your MIND as well. Take time every day to reflect on WHY you are happy. I think that the more you write down your accomplishments and what you are thankful for, the happier and more motivated you will be. Go home and make a thankful jar and write something for it every day!

So I’m going to stop hiding from my blog out of fear that I’ve taken a step backwards. Really, I think I needed this reality jolt to get my head back in the game JUST where it needs to be. So let’s move forward, let’s not judge ourselves so harshly, let’s be consistent and stay on course, realizing we are all human and we can all have nachos every now and then to keep our sanity in check 🙂

I’ll leave you with a picture of me back in 2010 when I was at my heaviest and at my lowest mentally. And a picture from this past weekend, where I’ve never felt happier in my life. I think it shows. A lot of people make comments on other before and after pictures saying “there’s NO way that’s the same person, look at their face!” But honestly, a lot can change with a person’s face just by how happy they are. Stay with it!