Tropical Blend Smoothie & Solo Dance Parties

Take a minute to think about what makes you happy. It has a lot to do with how you feel doesn’t it? This may seem obvious but how often do you take time to make yourself FEEL great? I spend a lot of time finding reasons why I shouldn’t feel great – I need to lose weight, I’m job searching, the house is a mess. It’s easy to get into this cycle. But with that being said, what if the next time you were starting to get down on yourself, you instead, found a reason and a way to make yourself feel great!

This is what a lifestyle change is all about. You have a choice with every meal you make or eat, with every opportunity you have to workout or get some exercise in, with going to bed at a decent hour, etc. Each decision we make can make us feel better or worse. It’s why I try my best to make healthy choices; eat foods that make me FEEL GOOD and do things that make me feel STRONG, encouraged, determined, and legit awesome.

It’s also why more often than not, I’m blasting music and throwing solo dance parties. My husband hasn’t caught me yet, but when he does someday, I hope he joins me. Yesterday I blasted one of my favorite tracks and just went nuts. Jumping, moving, dancing however I felt and let me tell you, after just one song, I felt so amped up and excited about life! I was so inspired I decided to throw on my heart rate monitor to prove to you how a solo dance party can do as much for your body as it can your mind.

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In just seven minutes I burned 70 calories! Is 70 calories a lot? Not really but it’s something! It’s about being active when we can. A body in motion STAYS in motion. The more you decide to be active and alive, the more you’ll WANT to move!

Now onto those other choices that make us feel good.

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A smoothie a day is one of the easiest ways to boost your weight loss and feel amazing! Here’s one of my new favorite smoothie recipes:

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 TSBP chia seeds
  • 1 TBSP ground flax meal
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 cup frozen mango

Directions: Blend the spinach, water, and seeds first to ensure you don’t have any leaf chunks. Then add in fruit. Blend until smooth and pour into your favorite glass or mug.

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Then get ready to rock your day!

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6 Benefits of Yoga & Basic Poses

yoga at homeThe other night I decided to try Jillian Michael’s Yoga Meltdown (you can try Level 1 for free on YouTube). I never though yoga would ever be a good workout. I figured it would be a great way to get some stretching in but didn’t realize just HOW MUCH body strength it takes all around and how much it would raise my heart rate at parts. The entire workout is about 35 minutes and runs in circuits, like most of her workout DVDs. I found the video easy to follow and felt mega relaxed afterwards and even during parts of it with certain positions.

All of this is to say that I am looking forward to exploring more yoga videos and maybe even a class at some point. Here are the 6 top benefits of practicing yoga:

1) Relaxation yoga encompasses a variety of poses that stretch out your body in new ways. I always do my regular stretches after a cardio workout but many yoga moves put you in new poses and positions you’d never be in otherwise. I found myself relaxing and having to focus on my breathing more to hold the poses, and became relaxed in the process. Yoga encourages you to take deep breaths and hold your stomach in and your back straight for good form.

2) Focus & Mentality Many poses can be uncomfortable or extremely difficult at first. You may find yourself having to focus on your breathing, your balance, and your mind frame as you enter into a pose. This makes us more aware of our bodies as well as the multitude of body functions that have to come together to make a single stretch work. The more you practice and focus your energy in yoga, the more you’ll be able to focus in real life at work, in relationships, with alone time, etc. It’s like working a muscle in your body and mind at the same time. Yoga can also help improve your mood. As you become more relaxed and aware of your mind and body, it can be easier to have a clearer conscious and be more observant instead of instantly reacting to things negatively.

3) Flexibility & Balance – I was amazed at how much balance and strength it took to do a lot of the poses in the video. I can only see this improving over time. Flexibility can help in many ways as well, I always sleep better when I’ve been stretching regularly.

4) Stress Relief & Mental Calmness – Yoga can be extremely calming and relaxing. Just take a couple deep breaths in and out as you read this and you’ll instantly feel more at ease. Postures have also been shown to help with anxiety and help improve your sense of well-being. Check out some of the best poses for stress relief.

5) Pain Management & Relief regular yoga sessions can help strengthen your back and help with muscle soreness and tension. Lower back pain is a huge issue for many individuals and most people tend to ignore the back when hitting the gym. Yoga focuses on your entire body and a lot of attention is given to strengthening and loosening up your back and your flexibility. It’s also been shown to help with migraines and headaches.

6) Increased mindfulness – as we become more aware and in-tune with our bodies, we also become more mindful of how we treat them and the ways in which different foods and activities make us feel. A study at the University of Washington showed that regular yoga practice increases the connection between the mind and the body and makes individuals more aware of how different emotions and foods make them react in daily life. This means that many people were able to better handle food cravings through regular yoga practice.

Here are some basic poses to start with. Try to hold each position for 20-30 seconds. If you can’t do the full extent of one, that’s fine, do what you can. In about a week you’ll start to see how flexible you become!

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Meal Prep and Planning For Your Success

Ever get to a place where you get stuck yo-yo-ing around the same 10-15 pounds? This has been me for the past year. I’ll lose 10 and then gain 8 around the holidays, and then stay pretty stagnant for the duration of the summer, etc. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that if I’m going to actually make this change and be successful, I need to hold myself accountable and come up with a solid game plan.

Hence my 3 main points in today’s post:

  1. No buy, no cry. If it’s not in your house or in front of you, you won’t be tempted to eat it. Essentially you won’t be setting yourself up for failure. If you were trying to quit smoking, you wouldn’t place packs of cigarettes around the house, either. Work on shopping when you’re full and satisfied, not starving and ready to indulge on Cheetos and sugary foods.

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  1. Plan it out or you’ll be in doubt. We’d all like to think that we don’t “need” to count calories or watch our portions if we workout hard enough but that just isn’t true. In order to be successful we need to have a game plan and meal prep is my new favorite thing. Below is a picture of my first attempt at some legit meal prep. I view them a lot like homemade lean cuisines, except not frozen or full of preservatives. Eat them within the same week and you’re golden. For these I just threw 3 chicken breasts into a crock pot the night before with chicken broth, garlic powder, and pepper. Cooked them on low over night for 8 hours and then in the morning they were easy to pull apart and shred. I added some Frank’s Buffalo Sauce and then divided a can of spinach, black beans, and some salsa between the six containers. Each one is just 315 calories and when I get home tonight I won’t have to cook!

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  1. Get it out of the way and enjoy your day. I’ve personally found that if I can get my workout done in the morning BEFORE my day gets crazy, then it’s more likely to happen and make my day better overall. If you can get to the gym after work, school, endless errands, then GOOD on you. I just can’t tell you HOW many times I’ve promised myself to go to a cycling class or pop in a workout video after I get home, to find myself not moving from the couch. Or I run into the issue of eating something extra at work and counting on that workout afterwards to bring my net calories back to my goal. Do the workout before you let yourself have the treat.

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The Parts of Weight Loss People Don’t Talk About

So you’re on a weight loss journey or you’ve been on one for a while. Things are starting to really feel amazing. Your body is changing, your clothes are fitting, hell, clothes shopping is kind of fun now. People at work and your family are being supportive and making comments on how great you look. Why didn’t I start this sooner!?! You start to wonder.

What people don’t talk about and what before and after pictures don’t show is how deep a transformation a health and fitness journey really is. You don’t just change your physical appearance and your ability to say “no” to Cheetos, but every aspect of your life changes from your friends, to your outlook, even down to how people start treating you.

What?!

I know. It’s crazy to think about but you’re not alone and you’re not going crazy. Transforming your body transforms your mind and when you start reaching major goals, some things start happening and it can be nice to know you’re not the only who who’s thought about them.

You Don’t See Your Own Progress

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How many times have you been shopping, picked out a few tops, pants, maybe some dresses, when suddenly you’re in the fitting room and everything is hanging off of you. What? There’s NO way I’m actually a smaller size. And then that moment hits you when you realize all this time, you have had no actual logical perception of what you look like or the size and shape of your new body.

Adjusting to a new you is hard. Sure, you look better and people look at you in admiration of your hard work. But no matter how great you look and feel now, it’s a whole new world to get used to. Clothes start to fit you differently. You’re suddenly more aware of fat in different places because you’re wearing more form-fitting clothes and not hiding under baggy sweatshirts and loose pants. In many ways, you may find yourself MORE insecure and misguided than when you had 30 more pounds on you before.

It can feel incredibly disheartening and frustrating. Where did all of my confidence go? I felt SO HOT in that skirt 6 months ago and now I have one in a smaller size and I don’t feel the same way. The key is to focus on what you DO love about your new body. You may not be happy with excess skin or a lack of definition in your arms, but don’t you FEEL better? Think about what you’re capable of doing now. The YOU a year ago couldn’t do push ups, heck, the you a year ago made fun of people who did push ups. HA! Super-obsessive fitness people, trying to push the earth down. ::inserts Doritos in mouth::

You Feel MORE Insecure

13_changingroom_lglWhen you were heavier, you didn’t think about your weight, in fact, you completely avoided it. Fit people in TV and movies you didn’t even think about comparing yourself to or getting jealous over because that would never be you, not even close. When you start reaching goals and realizing that you ARE capable of dramatic changes, it can be terrifying. Suddenly you feel accountable for your body, which is amazing and encouraging but also downright painful to realize.

Does this mean I’ve been a failure all of these years I’ve been overweight?

How much time have I wasted?

What if I actually can’t do this? What if I start to gain all the weight back? Maybe I should just go to Baskin Robbins and give up my dreams of asking that cute guy/girl out.

The fact that weight loss and fitness REQUIRE you to be aware, to be present when you eat food and make choices, puts you in an entirely new mental zone. Go easy on yourself and realize that you’re having to adjust more than your portions. You’re going to be more aware, therefore, you’re going to be thinking a plethora of new thoughts and having new experiences with your body and your mind that can feel kind of jarring at first. Take the word “insecure” and replace it with “more aware.” You’re not insecure about your stomach, you’re more aware of it. Be kind with your thoughts and let the ones go that aren’t nice back to you.

You Enter the NO-MORE-SUPPORT Zone

Negative-GossipTHIS is the biggest issue that I hardly hear people talk about. When you are first losing weight, family, friends, co-workers, they are ALL supportive. OH MY GAWD, Janet, you look fanTAStic! What are you doing? We should go get drinks! It’s fun and easy to watch the “chubby” girl lose weight and start to feel good in her own skin. It gives other people motivation and reason to praise their own bodies, especially if you are just now getting down to their size.

But strange things start to happen (especially with women) when you get further and deeper into your fitness and nutrition goals. Suddenly those comments can become negative digs. Janet! You’re getting so tiny! Are you okay? Are you only eating carrots or something? You should have a donut. People are suddenly aware of your potential and can become “threatened” by your determination. Suddenly you’re not a motivational poster for health, but a reminder of how hard THEY aren’t working. You’re the one making healthy choices and a reminder to everyone who’s still eating Burger King that their choices reflect their health and their weight.

People get less supportive and fewer comments are made about your appearance and instead comments are made about the “weird” things you do like eat salads or run on your lunch break.

It’s important to not let these comments or remarks get you down. Your motivation shouldn’t lie in what other people think or say about you. A great thing that my friend Lindsey said to me today was:

Don’t be any less of who you are because other people can’t be more of who they want to be. Don’t waste your precious time and energy second guessing yourself and wondering how to accommodate people who won’t step up to the plate to accommodate themselves.

Maybe you’ve reached your weight loss goal or you are “super skinny and perfect” according to all of your friends but you still want more of a challenge. It can be hard to be “that” person who’s always going to the gym or striving to see what his/her body can REALLY do when people around you already think you look great. You must be crazy or obsessive to think you still need to workout or lose more fat. Finding the right support groups can be hard in this phase. Just remember that this is a journey FOR yourself WITH yourself and not everyone is going to understand your reasons or feel the same desire or need to get in amazing shape.

keep-calm-and-ignore-negative-peopleJust as everyone’s opinions and thoughts are different, so are everyone’s bodies. There are an endless array of shapes and sizes that are gorgeous, sexy, defined, toned, lean, muscular, and curvaceous and not just one is the best one. These are all decisions we need to make for ourselves and we are certainly not going to have the same body our entire lives either.

The key is figuring out what YOUR goals are and realizing that many things will always change along the way. You may always have to battle with subtle insecurities and new clothes and people. But look at that as a challenge and a positive way to grow and nothing will stop you!

30 Day Squat Challenge

I’ve seen this trending recently, especially on Instagram. Think I’m going to give the 30 Day Squat Challenge a go in line with Ripped in 30. It’s also a small enough commitment, 2-3 minutes a day that we should all be able to do this! I just did my first 50 and I gotta tell ya, after 30 I started to breathe heavy and my legs got shaky. I can only imagine how strong this will make my glutes after 30 days!

When doing a squat, I like to raise my arms perpendicular to the ground in front of me. It helps me maintain balance. Make sure MOST IMPORTANTLY to never extend your knees past your toes. Your back can be bent forward, just keep it flat. Let me know how it goes and maybe, eventually, I’ll be brave enough to post a progress pic of my bum haha.

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Working Out: The Perks We Forget About

It’s so easy to stay in the negative when we aren’t in the shape we want to be in. We make excuses, we say it’s too hard, we complain of being so tired, depressed, and unenergetic. There’s NO WAY we could possibly committ to a daily workout, especially BEFORE we start our day.

But we forget (and so easily, too) how amazing it does feel to BE active and to STAY active.

People often say “I just ran out of motivation” and believe me, I used to say the same thing. Then I realized that waiting to do something or start something until you WANT to do it is never going to get you anywhere. If I only did things based on when I FELT like it, I’d never go to work, I’d never get out of bed before 9AM, I’d be completely and utterly unaccomplished and bored with myself.

We have to CREATE motivation, strength, and determination. These are outcomes of our own internal assessment and self growth.

Here are some things I started doing lately and the after effects:

  • I started drinking LOTS more water (close to 100 oz a day) and now I WANT to drink more water all the time, in fact, I’m thirstier
  • I started doing 5am cardio and now I go to bed on time WANTING to wake up and workout all over again
  • I started putting fuel into my body instead of sludge to merely keep me alive and now I CRAVE healthier food
  • I stopped drinking alcohol when I was depressed or had a rough day and instead I go on a walk or a run and guess what, I FEEL better
  • I never let myself go more than 2 days without working out, even when I’ve had bad food the same day, and now I find myself craving bad foods less!

I now SLEEP harder, think DEEPER, SEE further, and feel BETTER.

But why is it so easy to forget this when we dive into a plate of nachos Friday night and then somehow don’t come up for air again until Monday morning when we feel defeated, exhausted, and mentally drained from guilt?

We have to keep track of how things make us feel. We have to REMEMBER what makes us feel GOOD, what makes us feel ACCOMPLISHED, and sexy!

Trust me, there are perks to the hard work it takes to lose weight and get your body into shape. This is a continual journey for more than just abs, it keeps your brain active and alert and aids in the complete, all-encompassing joy that is your life.

Don’t give up! You GOT this! Get it!

A look into my early start today….

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18 Health Rules that Won’t Fail You

Here are 18 health rules that have helped me out IMMENSELY and that I need to be reminded of. Many of them I’ve always lived by, but some were also adapted from 25 Lazy Ways to Stay Skinny.

1. Stay active even when you’re eating poorly. Making the effort to stay active and keep up with your fitness level will make you feel better, improve your mood and lower your stress levels.

family-walking-in-park2. Keep a water bottle in your sights at all times. If it’s in front of you, you’re going to remember to drink it. You should be drinking water all day, every day. I am trying to get 80-100 oz down every day but realize it can take a while to work up to it without having to bathroom every 5 minutes. Most of the time when you think you’re hungry, you’re probably just thirsty.

3. Make sure you eat enough throughout the day instead of saving all your calories or caving at night. Night time cravings will be less so as you get used to eating more during the day.

4. Stay away from mindless eating. Avoid eating in front of the TV or getting snacks at the movies. Take time to enjoy your food and let your brain process when you are satisfied.eating-in-front-of-tv-329

5. Keep snacks on hand, in your purse, and in your car. Having a protein bar or almonds on hand lets you feel in control of your cravings and can help prevent you from making that stop at the drive thru.

6. You don’t need calories to help you sleep. Stop eating after dinner.

7. You don’t have to be perfect when it comes to food. Let yourself indulge when you have a super crazy craving, just watch your portions. No one food makes you gain weight, it’s about portion control and moderation.health-091212-002-617x416

8. Portion out pickable foods such as crackers, chips, grapes, etc. Ever reach the bottom of a bag of chips and think “how the hell did that happen!?” Mindless eating is easy to do. When you are going to have a snack, portion it out onto a small plate or bowl. The other day I made my boyfriend and I cheese and crackers but took a minute to slice the cheese into portions and put the crackers on a plate. Not only was he impressed with the presentation, but then we both had a good idea of how much we were eating.

9. Order small, stay small. Always order a small (or a tall). There’s no need to grab a venti coffee when a tall is just as good. Going to get froyo? Grab the smallest container. You’ll be surprised at how satisfied you are on less. Keep your wallet bigger and your tummy smaller.

10. Say no to artificial sweetners. Fake sugars only increase your sugar cravings and lead to bloating and fatigue. Remember that article I wrote about sugar-free candy?

11. Stick to the 2 day rule. Never go more than 2 days without working out or doing some sort of activity. It’s important to take a break and let your body rest at least once a week but the longer you go without working out, the harder it can be to start back up and stay motivated.

12. Stop going back for seconds. It takes 20-30 minutes for that fullness feeling to kick in. Instead of hurrying back for a second plate, let your brain catch up with your stomach.brain_junk_food_090727_mn

13. Always choose whole grains – they keep you fuller longer and help stabilize your blood sugar. Say YES to brown rice, whole wheat pastas, and breads instead of white flour.

14. Eat until you’re satisfied, not full or stuffed. Often times we think we have to keep eating until we feel uncomfortable to know that we got enough food, not true. Take your time when you eat, put your fork down between bites and get in tune with how you feel instead of waiting for stomach pains.

15. Don’t let yourself get ravenous. Have a small snack before going out or hitting up a party instead of showing up super hungry and filling up on beer and chips.

16. Don’t drink your calories. Your body needs water, stick to it. Empty soda, alcohol, and juice calories are full of sugar, slow your metabolism, and won’t help you feel full.

17. Use smaller plates. A bowl of cereal can be a whole different event depending on the size of your dishes. 1 cup of cereal is all you really need and it will be a lot more appealing if it comes to the brim of a small bowl instead of barely resting at the bottom of a large one.

18. Eat more color and keep your plate full of veggies! It’s nice to sit down to dinner and see a lot of food in front of you. Fill up half your plate with steamed and seasoned veggies and dig in!portions_1