Get Healthy With This Macros-Friendly Meal Prep

Hey everyone! I’ve been pretty excited to share this week’s meal prep with you! For the first time in quite a while, I’ve done some major changes to my snacks and I think you are going to love these new recipes!

Enjoy!

Get your week started off right with this healthy meal prep!

For this week’s snacks, I actually decided to switch things up a bit! I’ve been tracking macros for a few months now and hitting my daily protein is hard. Especially if I don’t want to go over on carbs or fat! So I’ve been searching a TON for new snacks and these are a few that I found! (Isn’t Pinterest the best?)

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These No-Crust Pizza Bites are so tasty! I couldn’t get them to “sink” into the muffin tins as much as I would have liked, but I think that might just need some practice. But tasty-wise? They are SO good! Definitely going to be making these ones again.

Another new snack of the week are these Quinoa Omelette Bites. Guys…these are so good. Seriously. Super easy to make, macros-friendly and worked perfectly as my second snack of the day! Plus they are just as good cold too, which works great for me at when I’m at work.

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Now for the last new snack of the week! I’m honestly not surprised at all to love these Cinnamon Vanilla Protein Bites. They aren’t the first ones I’ve tried from Cotter Crunch and they are always delicious! I can’t wait to make them again, especially after I get some vanilla protein powder.

For the salads and the rest of the snacks, things were pretty standard. I decided to switch back to my normal Buffalo Chicken salads for this week, plus Draz’s favorite protein balls and, as always, my grapes with cheese!

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For the main dishes this week, I went with two of our recent favorites and one new one! Draz requested both the Low Carb Sausage and Peppers Mock Lasagna and the Low Carb Deconstructed Pizza Casserole. Yes, he actually asked me to make something! Usually I just decide and he eats whatever I make haha. Both of these are delicious and so easy to put together, so I was happy to make them!

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Our new dish for the week was this Bacon and Cheese Crockpot Quiche. Now, I love pretty much everything breakfast-related, so this was an easy decision! Plus it’s in the slowcooker, which makes it even better! Now, I know the picture doesn’t look the best. This was my first time baking turkey bacon and well….I overdid it a bit, but it still tasted pretty good. Lesson learned for next time – bake for a lot less time!

Other than sightly overdone bacon, this dish turned out wonderful. I will definitely be making this one again! I will say, I will probably split it into 6 servings next time instead of 8. The servings were a little on the small side for us.

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I also made up a bunch of our breakfast burritos and ended up making some extra with the leftover bacon. I don’t think it will be part of our normal ones, but was a nice switch-up!

Tracking macros? Here is the breakdown for this week!

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Want to make this week’s main dishes for yourself? Get your free downloadable grocery list here!

What are your favorite high protein snacks? I’m still looking for new ones and would love to hear yours, so please leave a comment below!

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5 Simple Health Tips For All Of Us

Hey everyone! I am so happy to be welcoming back Allison from Waking Up Thirty! In case you missed it, you should definitely go read my interview with her from a couple weeks ago!

Today, she is sharing with us her 5 simple health tips. Enjoy!

Allison-Waking-Up-Thirty

Over the past few years I have been on a roundabout health journey. I went from being the healthiest in my life to probably being the sickest I have ever been.

During my last pregnancy I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and I had to reevaluate myself and look at my fitness in a whole new light. I had to start from the inside out and make myself strong again mentally as well as physically. Even though there were many things I had to change, I want to share a few things that any of us can do to better our health no matter the obstacles we are facing. These are five core concepts I try to put in place and evaluate any time I think I need a little boost in my routine or if I am feeling a little “off.” Most of the time I just need to readjust one of these things and I immediately start feeling better. Best of all – none of these things are going to cost you any money or require you to have any crazy equipment or knowledge beyond what we probably already know as adult humans.

Here are Five Simple Health Tips

1.) Sleep.

I am sorry to all you new parents out there that aren’t getting your regular sleep – I feel you. Someday you will have the chance to catch up on your sleep, but for now just power through it. For everyone else – go to bed. Go to bed at a reasonable hour each night for one week and see what happens. Try getting in bed by 930pm and seeing if you can fall asleep by 10pm. Even if you have to read a dictionary, if they still exist, try to get the shuteye you need. If you can get a solid amount of rest in before midnight, you are benefitting your body by hitting REM (Rapid Eye Movement sleep – Google it) earlier than usual, you will wake up more refreshed. If you have to wake up super early, go to bed even earlier than 9:30pm. The important thing is to get a solid sleep. Some of us only need seven hours, some of us need up to  nine. You have to do what works the best for your body and two weeks of concentrating on your sleep pattern is going to give you a general idea of how much sleep your body truly needs.

Getting an adequate amount of sleep can improve so many different parts of your body and mind including your cognitive function, your mood, the strain on your adrenal gland and thyroid gland, it also may even improve inflammation and aid in weight-loss. Wowza.

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2.) Drink water.

Duh. I know, if you hear one more person tell you that you need more water. you might flip your lid, but there are a multitude of reasons why we need to get our water intake up. Our bodies are roughly 55% water… or they should be. All of our internal organs need water in order to operate properly. Our biggest outer organ, or skin, also needs water so it can regenerate and “glow.” When we optimize our water levels we allow our bodies to run smoothly and not overwork themselves. What are some of the immediate benefits of drinking water? Well, aside from not being thirsty, you can notice increased energy levels, less head and body aches and your muscles can even operate more efficiently! Yes! Your muscles can work better and this can prevent injury and muscle spasms or tightness. If your current health goals are to lost a few pounds, drinking more water should be at the top of your priority list. The average adult male needs about 3 litres (12 cups) of water per day and the average adult female needs 2 litres (9.3 cups) of water per day in order to optimize their bodily fluid levels. This amount can change slightly based on several variables such as individual activity level or even the climate, but starting with a solid 2 to 3 litres of water per day is a great base point.

3.) Go outside.

I worked at a desk job in a dark little office for almost a decade. There were weeks that I didn’t leave my building and I worked well into the evenings. The only time I saw the light of day was to run and grab my coffee or lunch, or to and from my car. It wasn’t until I started an outdoor running/jogging/hiking program that I noticed my general mood improved drastically. I slept so much better on the nights that I had spent time outside that day. I had actual colour in my cheeks (even with using sunscreen) and I had a bigger sense of wholeness in my health routine. The impact of spending time outdoors was so much more a mental benefit than a physical benefit. I truly believe mental health and physical health go hand in hand together.

Spending time outdoors seems like such a no brainer, but it is something we overlook doing. This is an age where we spend hours and hours being lost in the interwebs, but we can’t seem to get 15 minutes outside of our four walls. Making it a daily habit to get outside can be immensely beneficial for yourself. Vitamin D is also amazing… just sayin’.
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4.) Write in a journal or make a daily gratitude list.

“Ahhh, here it is,” you say. “Here comes the work.”

Whenever someone hears the word JOURNAL, they automatically have flashbacks to grade four when their teachers made them do a daily log and they had to rack their brains for something interesting to say. Or they imagine a soft, leather bound book with empty pages that sits in box or drawer somewhere in their own homes – probably given to them by a caring family member, but never used.

A journal does not have to be anything more than a couple of written lines of how you felt at the end of that day. Alternatively, you could wake up each morning and write out three to five things that you are grateful for in your life and set your day off right.

Why would this type of thing be included in a health and wellness tip post? Here is your answer: When we focus on the positive aspects of our lives, we tend to radiate more positivity in other areas. We start focusing on the good. When we write down our feelings or what has transpired throughout the day, we are able to go back later and see how or why we may have been feeling the way we were in that moment. Personal reflection is a stepping point for anyone who wants to better themselves in any aspect of their life.

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5.) Meditate.

Annnd here is where I go off the deep end, right? Wrong. So wrong. A meditation practice is not some sort of new age, funky, hipster-trend. There are ancient Indian records of meditation practices as far back as 1500 BCE and also records of other types of meditation from Taoist China that date in the 6th and 5th centuries BCE. The idea that total relaxation of the mind and spirit (whether you are religious or not) can be beneficial is nothing new – yet so many of us think it is hog wash and unfounded. Here’s the thing, there is actual scientific evidence that  there are benefits to practicing meditation: such as the increase of immune function, reduction of inflammation, decrease in anxiety & stress, and so on and so on. But, why the need to read medical journals or textbooks when you could do a little science experiment of your own and just try meditating for 10 minutes per day for a week. There are so many apps and resources on the web where you can find guided meditations to get you through your first sessions. You may be surprised at the results it gives you.

Whatever health and wellness journey you are on, I hope you are able to find a path for yourself. Even if you have to trudge through it on your own there are so many ways we can lift ourselves up during the process. Be smart. Love yourself throughout the trek and you will see the benefit a little self love and tenderness can give you.

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Allison, thank you so much for joining us today on the blog! I love these tips so much and am personally planning on adding in more meditation to my routine!

Which one of these 5 tips are you going to work on improving? Do you have another simple health tip you would like to share? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below!

Finding-FitnessAllison lives on the East Coast of Canada and brings Bootcamp style classes to rural areas in her community.
She used to work a sedentary job in television production, but has found her passion in helping others achieve their physical fitness goals and is also hoping to offer mindfulness classes in the future.
Her blog titled “Waking up Thirty” is a look into the mind of a 30-some-year-old who is trying to figure out her purpose after having some major life changes. Her posts are relatable to anyone who is finding themselves wondering why their life doesn’t quite look the way they expected it would.

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Sunday Meal Prep March 19, 2017

Hey everyone! Before we get going, I want to talk a bit about meal planning for your prep. This week really reminded me of how important it is to build up a list of recipes you really like! While some weeks you might feel inspired or be craving something in particular, there are going to be weeks where nothing sounds particularly interesting. For those weeks, having your list of go-to recipes helps so much!

This week was one of the uninspired weeks for me. I had a really hard time making my plan for this meal prep. Draz didn’t have any requests this week and nothing was coming to mind that I really wanted for the coming week. Enter Pinterest! This is seriously my favorite tool ever for meal prep. I’ve been menu planning for years and for the majority of it I didn’t use Pinterest. It was all cookbooks, printed off recipes and the occasional Internet search. Now though? When I’m stuck, I just go to my “Recipes Made and Loved” recipe board and pick from there! It’s so much easier. If you haven’t started using Pinterest for your own meal prep planning, I highly recommend it.
And now, on to this week’s meal prep! Enjoy!

Get your week started off right with this healthy and budget-friendly meal prep!

This week’s meal prep was super quick and tasty, plus being pretty budget-friendly too. I don’t know how you can get more of a overall win than that!
I hadn’t made Sweet Potato Banana Bites in a while and I forgot just how much I love them! They are such a dessert-type snack, but still healthy and made with wholesome ingredients. One of the first things I made when I started meal prepping, they have been a favorite of mine for over 2 years now! I also whipped up some more protein balls for Draz, some cinnamon bread for our breakfast, and more Cheeseburger-inspired jar salads! Overall, not a bad set up for our snacks and my lunches for the week.
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For our main dishes, I made Slow Cooker Roasted Red Pepper Chicken Chili and Easy Skillet Chicken Cacciatore. I also altered this Kielbasa Hash. Our two chicken dishes both turned out delicious! That chili is still our favorite one and it just makes me happy every time I eat it. Plus is so easy to make and macros-friendly! The chicken cacciatore turned out well, though I kinda wish I had thought to make some rice or pasta to go with it….so much sauce!
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For the Kielbasa Hash, I am so happy with how this one turned out! I was honestly a little hesitant about using sweet potatoes. Other than the sweet potato banana bites, I haven’t found many recipes that really make me love sweet potatoes. But this one definitely does! The only change up I made was sweet potatoes for potatoes. Otherwise, I followed the recipe!
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I have a serious obsession with all things breakfast foods and this one is by far one of my favorites. Peppers, onions, turkey sausage and potatoes, all combined with fried egg? Perfection! I will admit, this one is a little higher in fat than I would prefer, but it was well worth it! If you are wanting to cut a little of the fat, you could probably forgo the eggs on top. (Which would be crazy and sad, but you could do it!)
Speaking of macros, here are the macros for this week’s meal prep!
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Want to join in and make this meal prep for yourself? Get your grocery list here!

And that’s it for this week! What are you making for your meal prep this week? Any delicious sweet potato recipes? I would love to hear about them, so please leave a comment below!
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Planning for Your Fitness: A Plum Paper Planner Review

If you’ve been with me for a while, you might have seen this post from last year where I reviewed my Plum Paper Planner. Now, I’ve tried A LOT of planners over the years! So I want to start this post off by saying that this is the FIRST time that I have ever ordered a planner for a second time! I am seriously in love with Plum Paper and I am so excited to share with you why!

I have a lot of techniques I use to work on improving my fitness, but very few of them matter as much as my planner does! Okay…meal prep does, but I think you already know that! :-p But even for meal prep, my planner helps so much. It is one of the main things that is with me almost all of the time and I use it every day.

But before I get too far into my Plum Paper Planner love (obsession), here are my tips for planning for your fitness!

Planning out your week can make such a huge impact on hitting your fitness goals! And the right planner can make help that so much! Check out why I'm in love with my Plum Paper Planner and how I use it to set and hit my fitness goals!

My Top 5 Tips for Planning for Your Fitness

  1. Get specific. This goes for what workout you are doing on what day and for writing down your fitness goals!
  2. Set aside time. Every Sunday night I go through and plan out my upcoming week. I specifically focus on what workouts I’m doing, what time I’m doing them and what (if any) other appointments I have coming up. This lets me make sure that I have enough time set aside for my workouts and work around any scheduling conflicts I might have.
  3. Track your progress. This year I have also been trying to do better at tracking when I workout and what I did. I think this is going to be really helpful in letting me see where I’m making progress! I’ve already seen it some just in recording what weight I used for specific lifts and how those have increased over time.
  4. Forgive yourself. Some weeks you are going to have everything scheduled out great and it’s just not going to happen. Some week’s are like that! My week last week was going great for the first half of the week, but when my back started acting up later on in the week…well, those workouts definitely didn’t get done! I just cross them out and move on.
  5. Check your planner! This might seem like it doesn’t need saying, but it really does. I’ve seen so many people be great at planning out their week, but then they don’t actually USE their planner as the week goes on. So make sure to have yours where you will actually use it and check it regularly. I check mine at least 2-3 times a day and most days it’s more than that!

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These might seem simple, but they take hard work to put into practice. But I promise, if you give it some time and effort, planning for your fitness will help your progress so much!

Ok, now on to what I’ve been so excited to share with you….my review of my Plum Paper Planner for this year!! I made a few changes to the layout and design this year and I’m very happy I did so! There is one section that I will probably change up again next year, but overall I think these changes are working great!

Plum Paper: The Design

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Before I jump into the features, can we just talk about how pretty Plum Paper Planners are? Seriously guys, they are gorgeous. There are so many cover options! With a ton of different styles and cover options, they are sure to have one that fits you. Plus you can personalize the cover too! And new to this year, they have added a protective plastic cover sheet to go over the covers. While the covers are durable on their own, this feature is a definite improvement on last year.

The Features: Monthly and Weekly

For the main planner section, there are a few features I really love.

  • Each month starts with a “Monthly Highlights” page. I use this one to track upcoming events: a show I am set to sell at, trips, and birthdays mostly. But the part that I really love are the 3 goal circles at the top. This really helps me focus in on how many goals I’m setting each month. I’ve also decided to designate that each month gets one goal for personal, another for my jewelry business and the last one for the blog. This really helps me not get too overwhelmed in any one area.plum-paper-planner-review
  • In the weekly layout, you are able to customize the sections to say whatever you want! I love this, because this works so much better for me than many other planner options out there. These changed quite a bit from last year’s, as I noticed over time that certain ones weren’t really being used. This year’s sections are Home, Fitness, Appointments, Blog, Jewelry, Social Media, and Goal Work. I have to admit, I will probably change up the Goal Work one for next year. Not sure what it will be yet, but it’s just not getting used much.plum-paper-planner-review
  • There are also a lot of “Add-in” options you can put into your planner! This year, I put in 1 Notes section, a Bill Tracker, and a Checklist Page to the end of each month.

That these features are able to be so customized is a huge plus to me! I love being able to see, at a glance, what section needs to be my focus right now. It also has been helping me to maintain a little more balance in my life! I can see more easily when I’m starting to overload any particular area. Whether it’s my blog, my business or even my fitness, I’m able to adjust as needed!

Planner Add-On Sections

Another thing I love about Plum Paper is their option to add on entire sections to your planner! The weekly layouts are fantastic and definitely get used the most, but sometimes you need to get focused on a specific area. These sections are great for that! This year I added on 2: a Fitness section and a Blog section.

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I did have the Blog section last year. I have to admit, I didn’t use it as much as I hoped I would. But that was more me than the planner! So I got it again this year and I am loving it! Not only am I using it more, but they made some changes to it that work great. You can now easily track your blog and social stats month-to-month in a handy chart. This is a feature I had wished for last year!

The new section for me this year is the Fitness section. I was actually a little skeptical about adding on this one. I wasn’t sure that I would use it, especially since I had a whole section of my weekly layout devoted to fitness. Wow, was I wrong!! I use this section on a daily basis and am finding it SO helpful! Being able to write down my monthly fitness goals, the plan, and record any highs and lows from the month is great. And I love being able to see all that info in one place.

There is one thing about that section that I’m not very happy with. While I am using it to track my workouts and what I’m lifting each day, the space to do it is pretty small. I’m not sure how this would work in the overall layout, but I wish they had increased the space where you put in the daily exercise. Some of my days have kinda overflowed, and that is even with me writing pretty tiny! It works great for days where I am just writing down a few things. But when I get more specific, it gets a little cramped.

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But even with that, I am getting so much use out of the workout tracking page! That is especially true this month. I think I’ve talked a little on here about starting a fitness challenge this month. Well, I have been using it to write down what workout I do what day and what weight I used. Being able to see the progression in weights is so uplifting!

I have also been using that same section in another way too. I have been tracking macros (or trying to) for a couple of months now. It can be hard to know how you are doing on an overall basis without going back through the journals for each day. Well, with my tracking page, now I can! If I hit my macros for the day, I just highlight the date! I’m pretty excited about doing it this way. Now, at the end of the month I can easily see how I did overall at just a glance!

So, now that you have learned ALL about my planner obsession and the awesomeness that is Plum Paper Planners, I have something for you! From now until April 30, 2017 you can use the code NYMPH10 to receive 10% any order! And since you can order your planner to start on any month, you can get one that you will be able to use right away! I definitely recommend checking them out. Plum Paper is the only planner I will use!

How do you go about planning your week and month? Have you tried out a paper planner recently? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below!

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Sunday Meal Prep March 12, 2017

Hey everyone! Can you believe we are into March already? It seems like this year is just flying by! I am definitely ready for spring though. Iowa has been all over the place with temperatures lately and I just can’t wait until the warm weather gets here!

I don’t always follow seasonal when I’m cooking or cook lighter dishes in the warmer months like some do. However, I think I can see my desire for spring in this week’s meal prep! Lighter dishes and veggies everywhere! Enjoy!

Get your week started right with this healthy meal prep! Get the recipes, details and a downloadable grocery list here!

For my salads, I’m still totally in love with these cheeseburger-insprired salads based off of this recipe from Organize Yourself Skinny! The main changes I made:

  • no cucumbers,  added in red onion
  • dressing was Bolthouse Farms Honey Mustard
  • used a salad mix instead of romaine

And for our snacks we have a recent favorite: 5-Ingredient Banana Bread Muffins! These are so tasty and really hit my desert cravings 🙂 Of course, my favorite, grapes and cheese, was also made. This week’s cheese? Smoked Gouda! I am loving the flavor of this one right now!

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We were also running low on my Healthier Cinnamon Bread, so of course that was made. If you haven’t checked it out lately, there have been a couple small changes to the recipe. I’ve lightened things up a little more by cutting back on the sugar. It’s still plenty tasty, but a little more carb-friendly! We were also running low on Freezer Breakfast Burritos, so a 2-week batch of those got made up too!

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For our main dishes this week, we have a couple new recipes! To start with, these Broccoli Quinoa Cheddar Bites are delicious! I love finding new vegetarian dishes, especially since we can be kind of a meat-heavy household. This one will definitely be made again! I did make a small change: The recipe calls for them being made in a mini-muffin pan. Instead I made them as regular muffins and baked them at 350 for 30 minutes. This worked out great! I also used Fiesta blend cheese instead of cheddar, since that was what we had on hand.

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The other new recipe, and my personal favorite of the week, was this Ham and Cauliflower Chowder based off of this recipe from Damn Delicious. The original recipe sounded, well, damn delicious, but I wanted to lighten things up a bit plus add in more meat than the original called for. I think it turned out pretty great and I will definitely be making it again!

Ham and Cauliflower Chowder
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Ham and Cauliflower Chowder
Print Recipe
Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in large stockpot over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, carrots and celery; saute until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in cauliflower and bay leaf. Cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, roughly 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add chicken base, water and almond milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened, about 4-6 minutes.
  3. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until cauliflower is tender, roughly 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to tasty.
  4. Using an immersion blender, blend soup until desired consistency is reached.
  5. If immersion blender is not available, let soup cool slightly and then remove 1 1/2 -2 cups and blend in blender. Return to soup.
Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from this recipe from Damn Delicious

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healthy-weekly-meal-prep

Our repeat recipe of the week was this Chicken Broccoli Alfredo based off of this recipe from Julia’s Album. Again, I made some changes to lighten things up a bit and I love how it turned out!

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo
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Servings
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Servings
6
Chicken Broccoli Alfredo
Print Recipe
Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Cut broccoli into small florets. Steam and set aside.
  2. Cook chickpea pasta, drain. Set aside
  3. In a large skillet, heat grapeseed oil and butter on medium-high heat. Season chicken breast with salt and pepper to taste. Saute chicken for about 15 minutes, 7-8 on each side. Remove from heat, cover and let rest, until chicken is cooked through. Remove from pan and cut into bite-size pieces.
  4. Using the same skillet, add minced garlic and cook over medium heat for 30 seconds or until garlic is fragrant, scraping chicken bits from pan. Add steamed broccoli and mix; remove from pan.
  5. Add evaporated milk to the same skillet and heat to boiling. Add mozzarella cheese and stir until melted and creamy. Reduce heat and slowly add almond milk in, stirring constantly. Simmer until desired consistency is reached.
  6. Add pasta, broccoli and chicken back to the skillet and mix. Season with more salt and pepper if desired.
Recipe Notes

This recipe was adapted from this recipe from Julia's Album

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Here are the macros for everything for this week! Most of it was pretty macros-friendly, though a few of the dishes were a bit carb-heavier than I aim for.

if-it-fits-your-macros-food-prep

Want to make this for your own meal prep? Get your free downloadable grocery list to get you started!

Just the main dishes:

All the food from this week:

How much do you enjoy altering recipes you find? Do you change them up a lot or make them as you found them? I would love to know your thoughts, so please leave a comment below!

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Finding Fitness: Allison from Waking Up Thirty

Hey everyone! I am so excited to bring you this month’s edition of Finding Fitness! This month I am happy to introduce you to Allison from Waking Up Thirty. She has so much wonderful information to share about herself and her fitness journey! From becoming an instructor at her local gym to how she regains her motivation, there is so much to learn from here! Enjoy!

Get started on your fitness journey today! Allison shares so much of herself and her own journey with us in this interview. Get ready to be motivated and inspired by this edition of "Finding Fitness!"

Background: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

Sure! I just turned 33 and am now primarily a stay at home mom, however this wasn’t always the case.
I am the youngest of seven children in a blended family. Growing up with that many siblings was super fun, sometimes annoying and taught me how to be strong and to stand out.
In 2002 had my first born when I was just 18 years old and fresh out of high school. It was unplanned, but probably the most defining moment of my adult life. Having a child that young left me feeling like I needed to focus on building a future for the both of us, so after working some various jobs for a couple of years I enrolled in a Radio and Television arts program in college in 2005. I am very artistic, so I felt an arts program with some real concrete job positions in my area was a great avenue.
I met my now husband right before school started and thankfully in my second year of college landed a full time position in television production – so things seemed to happen really fast at that point.
We got married in 2010 and in 2014 had our second child. Once I returned to work after my maternity leave, the schedule just didn’t work for our family, so we made the decision for me to be a stay at home mom.

How did your fitness journey start? What motivated the change? Along with that, what has kept you interested?

I was always the one in my family who complained about not having enough healthy food in our house. I was always concerned about my Dad’s health as he has had Type II Diabetes since I can remember. 

What made the biggest change for me was seeing my wedding photos and feeling sad that I was as big as I was. The pictures are definitely bittersweet to look at. It was such a great day, but I wish I could have been more comfortable in my own skin at the time – regardless of my size. 

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I started counting calories and going to the gym and managed to lose about 35 or 40 pounds in a year or so. I began researching more and more about dense nutrition and what foods affected me negatively. I really enjoy learning and gaining knowledge, so it was natural for me to read articles and spend time figuring things out. 
After this year and a half my husband and I decided he was going to venture out and work away from home. This would mean he was away for three months at a time. During this time I got my Zumba Instructor License and began teaching classes in my rural area. I ended up leaving my television production job while my husband worked away. 
I also began working at the local gym and got my Fitness Instructor Specialist Certification through Canfitpro and began teaching other formats other than Zumba. I was teaching about nine or ten classes per week!
During this time I didn’t lose many pounds, but my body composition changed so much. I was stronger, had more muscle and less fat. I felt fabulous. 
Then it was decided my husband was going to come home. Working away from home was really hard on him and so it was also decided that I would go back to work at that same television production job. 
Then, “TA DA!”, I was pregnant. Surprise, surprise. 
Pregnancy this time around was not easy on me and I developed Hypothyroidism. I knew being tired was a common pregnancy symptom, but I was really tired, hurting and generally feeling not like myself at all. After giving birth I gained weight (one of the lucky ones who gains weight while breastfeeding) and felt so terrible all the time. 
When I went back to work I still hadn’t figured out my health issues and my husband and I decided that with the stress of my night shifts and weekend work, me being home with our kids was the best solution for our family. 
I felt pretty groggy for almost a whole other year until I started taking Bootcamp classes near my house. I hadn’t really been eating well as I was so tired all the time, so I also had to relearn to focus on eating those whole foods again. I could have wasted away in misery with the brain fog, fatigue and general depression I was under, but I was determined to get back into shape physically and mentally. 
The Bootcamp classes helped me so much. It started with me noticing my physical strength coming back and then I really felt like my mental strength was returning back to its normal place too. 
At the end of that year of Bootcamp classes, the instructor announced she was leaving and the classes would not continue. I decided to reinstate my Group Fitness Certification and to keep these essential classes running in our community. 
So, here I am. I am teaching classes just twice per week. It is a great balance for me and I love my people that come to class. 
I have also started really focusing on my mental health and mindfulness. I meditate, I work on mindfulness exercises like letting go of anger and keeping positive thoughts flowing. Being mentally fit is a huge part of my life as I suffered from depression and anxiety for years. 
I finally feel like I am becoming myself again. It feels amazing. 

 

What has been your biggest challenge in your fitness journey and how have you dealt with it?

Have you had any setbacks since starting your fitness journey? If so, how did you deal with them?

These questions are definitely going to have the same answer. My biggest challenge and my biggest set back has been pregnancy and the resulting hypothyroidism diagnoses. I have had to reevaluate everything about my fitness knowledge. Just cutting calories does not work for me. I have to focus on foods that cause my thyroid to flare up and inflammation in my body. I have to exercise differently and what some would consider more intensely. I do less cardio now and focus a lot more on strength training and lifting weights. I also had to do so much research on what general doctors advise vs. naturopaths or those with experience when it comes to overcoming thyroid issues. I almost felt like I was completely starting over again and it was depressing. It took me months and months to make small changes again and it was so humbling. Never again will I ever assume someone is not working towards goals just by the way they look. We have no idea what other people are struggling with.
 

What achievement are you the most proud of?

I am definitely still proud of the fact that I previously lost 40+pounds. But, really I am more proud of the fact that I have bounced back after such a regression. No one else can understand or see the effects but myself, so it is often hard for me to convince others how well I am doing. I may not look like their ideal person, but I am pushing myself and setting and achieving goals that are not necessarily physical and it is so important to me to acknowledge it.
 

Outside of the physical, what have been some significant changes brought on by your fitness journey?

Mental fitness. I had no idea really how much my mental health would be affected by physical activity and properly fueling and hydrating my body.
I’m a completely different person than I was pre-2010. I used to have so much anger, frustration and a low patience level. Myself and my life are so different now and so much more positive that I can never go back to that dark hole again.

What are you working towards now? What are your goals and dreams, fitness-wise?

I would still like to lose a few pounds, but not just because I want to look good. I’m interested to see if it helps my hypothyroid symptoms and I also want to avoid getting Type II Diabetes. I’m not even on my doctors radar for having Diabetes, but my family history is not in my favour. I would prefer if I can just avoid the possibility altogether.
I also have a goal of getting my Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction certification in the next two years. If I get this certification I would offer workshops in my area that would focus on mindfulness, stress release, and so much more. It is a bit of a pipe dream, but I have been looking into it more and more – and actually touch on this in my blog quite often.

What does a typical training week look like?

I try to be active at least four days per week. This might not be your traditional hitting-the-gym type of active, but even going outside for a walk or run, hiking, riding a bike, swimming etc. are my ideas of active. Then on Mondays and Thursdays I do my one hour Bootcamp classes. The Bootcamp classes are always some sort of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) cardio and a larger portion of strength training. The classes are tough, brutal sometimes, and I love it.
Finding-Fitness

What does an average day of eating look like for you? 

Right now I am primarily following a Paleo diet. This causes the least amount of inflammation in my body and makes me feel full and satisfied. I have almost entirely cut out sweets, however you can see me slipping a handful of chocolate chips or a medium double double into my mouth. I feel like as long as I eat paleo 80% of the time, I am good. Wheat and grains definitely affect me negatively with a lot of bloating and IBS symptoms.
Breakfast – I often have 2 eggs fried in olive oil, then make a veggie stirfry with mushrooms, onions, peppers or eat some spiralized zucchini with a diced tomato to go along with the eggs. I usually have a handful of almonds as well. I also discovered that making an omelette with banana and unsweetened coconut is a really awesome way to get that sweet breakfast we have been conditioned to crave without all the nasty ingredients like those sugary cereals we all grew up with.
Lunch – I eat my own version of nourishment bowls sometimes. This might be a couple slices of bacon or maybe leftover turkey, half an avocado and some fresh veggies and some nutritional yeast sprinkled on top. If I have any leftovers from the supper the night before, I will eat those. Sometimes I start my supper early and eat it for lunch and save the rest for the family supper – especially something like chili. Paleo chili is so good.
Supper – Suppers are basically the same as they have always been here except instead of white potato I will have sweet potato. In place of pasta I will have zucchini noodles and I do eat a limited amount of rice pasta if I am feeling like I need pasta or I might die, but I make sure it is a treat and limit it to once a week or so.
I don’t really snack unless it is an apple and some nuts. You might see me munching on some cheese too because cheese is so hard to give up. I limit it as well and reserve it for my 20% non Paleo items. Baking for my husband’s lunches leaves me craving those cookies or cakes, so I try to make small batches and store them in a large tupperware container so they are out of sight.
I am also limiting my coffee as I find it does dehydrate me and can flare up my digestion issues. I may have one coffee per day for four or five days and then not have any coffee at all for a few days. At home I drink it with just a bit of full fat milk, out and about I prefer a little sugar so I make those treats.
I also focus on drinking 3 litres of water per day. On days I have a really intense workout planned, I tend to eat a bit more carbs and drink more water. It helps give me energy and keep my body fueled. I always have a protein snack of some sorts after my workout as well.

Do you take any supplements? If so, could you tell us a little about what ones and why? If not, why not?

I was taking Synthroid (synthetic thyroid that is a man-made version of thyroxine T4) for my hypothyroidism, but I felt almost no affect from it. My hair and skin were still dull, I was having fatigue, inflammation, weight gain – basically all the symptoms of hypothyroidism that Synthroid is supposed to mask – so I switched to a raw thyroid supplement instead. The raw thyroid is desiccated thyroid from pig (sorry vegetarians) and therefore contains both thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine. (T3) which are the two hormones our thyroid creates. It has made a huge difference for me, but I recommend definitely talking to your doctor or naturopathic doctor before venturing into replacing Synthroid or other synthetic thyroid medications. My version of raw thyroid also has some kelp added for iodine purposes. iodine works in conjunction with the T3 and T4. It also contains other desiccated tissues like the adrenal gland and pituitary glands – all of which work with the thyroid to maintain balance.
I am currently taking a strong live cultured probiotic that is meant to optimize gut flora. I have four doses left. This is a short term probiotic of 50 billion, and I will then change to a daily dose that has less active cultures for maintenance. I take this as I have digestive issues and have been on antibiotics so I want to make sure my gut is happy.
I take maca root often to help with my energy levels. It has been toted around the “Hypothyroid Community” as a great help for fatigue. 
 
I also take a B12 dissolving strip – again for energy levels and general health. 
 
And I take selenium tablets to aid my immune system and cognitive function – as hypothyroidism can cause brain fog. Selenium is also noted as helping metabolize carbs. Since my metabolism is slower with hypothyroidism, this is an added bonus.  

What is your favorite exercise? Your least favorite?

My favourite exercise by far are deadlifts and squats. You burn mega calories whenever you use your large muscle groups. I also want a nice butt, so…
My least favourite exercise used to be pushups, but I am loving them now! I feel so strong doing them. So now my least favourite exercise is running. I am not a natural runner, but for some reason I force myself to enter partial marathons nearly every year. Silly me.

What do you do if you find your motivation lacking?

This happens to everyone. All I am going to say is that self motivation is such a mental struggle, just overcoming that devil on your shoulder is a fitness test all on its own. So I look to myself for motivation by practicing positive affirmations. If I tell someone out loud how I have accomplished something or hit a mark, I get even more motivated. When I am in a slump, it can be rough, but then I find that one workout or that one moment where I made it through something tough and I am like, “Yeah, I got this.” It can only take one positive fleeting moment to turn everything around again.

How do you balance fitness with work/life/social/etc? How do you “find the time” to workout? 

I am a stay at home mom. The luxury of that is I sometimes have a lot of time to do my own thing… with my kids in tow. I will take them to the playground and run some laps, do walking lunges, get some other girlfriends to bring their kids and do a workout etc etc. Yes, this seems so lavish and great, but it isn’t always easy. I might get a 5 minute run in and my kid wants me to push her on the swing or look at a bug crawling around. Luckily, just being active with your kids can be a workout all on its own. During the winter can be harder, but online videos help.
I teach my own Bootcamp Classes 2x per week, so I try to make those classes an opportunity for me to workout as well and do the entire class with my participants. Often, I end up doing 1/2 or 3/4 of the class as I do take the time to correct form or give cues, but I always feel like I got something out of them.
I am thankful that during the months where we have more daylight my husband is happy to watch the kiddos while I run the block and work on my partial marathon training plans or want to go take a random class elsewhere.
Finding-Fitness

What are your top 3 tips for someone just starting their fitness journey?

Start somewhere. Ignore almost all the people telling you what to do and find something you enjoy doing first. It might be Zumba, it might be running and weight lifting – but you have to find something you want to do and eventually it will give you some results.
Stop stepping on the scale so often. I much prefer measuring my body and checking myself on a body composition scale if I have the opportunity. I stayed at 180 lbs and dropped 2 dress sizes at that weight. The scale is not the only thing that determines your success.
Keep going. Being active and eating well are not temporary solutions to a temporary problem. Staying active and having a healthy diet are parts of a healthy life that includes so much more than just how we look – if you live this way, you will get to experience so much more in life. Trust me.

Anything else you want to share?

If there is anything else I want to express is that I really believe that you have to love yourself always. Love yourself through the process or journey you are on. Love yourself when you are feeling low and love yourself when you are feeling high. If you focus on making yourself a priority, you can’t imagine the positive effects that may have on the rest of your life. It is ok to love yourself – it is not selfish – it is essential to your well-being.
Allison, I just want to say thank you for joining us here on the blog today and sharing so much about your journey! It really is an inspiration!
Finding-FitnessBio:
Allison lives on the East Coast of Canada and brings Bootcamp style classes to rural areas in her community.
She used to work a sedentary job in television production, but has found her passion in helping others achieve their physical fitness goals. She is also hoping to offer mindfulness classes in the future.
Her blog titled “Waking up Thirty” is a look into the mind of a 30-some-year-old who is trying to figure out her purpose after having some major life changes. Her posts are relatable to anyone who is finding themselves wondering why their life doesn’t quite look the way they expected it would.
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Sunday Meal Prep March 5, 2017

Hey everyone!! Ok, so I can’t really contain my excitement about this week’s meal prep. This week has some awesome new recipes full of flavor and everything is super macros friendly. Which is great for me right now, because I just started a 10-week fitness challenge! I’m super excited about it and can’t wait to see how it changes up my progress! So this challenge has me a bit more focused on hitting my macros and eating healthy, energizing food every day and this week’s meal prep definitely satisfies!

Enjoy!

Get your week started off right with this healthy meal prep! Get all the details here, plus your free downloadable grocery list!

So first I want to introduce you to what might be my new favorite salad. Based on this recipe, this cheeseburger inspired salad is delicious! I will be making this again next week (and possibly for the foreseeable future)! It was AMAZING and so different from salads I have made before.

My salads were as follows (in each salad, bottom to top):

  • Bolthouse Farms Honey Mustard dressing
  • red onion, 1 Valsic Zesty Dill Pickle chopped, roughly 7 cherry tomatoes
  • a portion of the meat mixture that is in the recipe above
    • I use reduced sugar ketchup instead of regular ketchup
  • roughly 1 tbsp of fiesta blend shredded cheese
  • spring mixture salad greens

healthy-food-prep-mason-jar-salads-protein-balls-snacks

For our snacks this week I kept things pretty much the same, but I think they are going to be changing up soon too. But for now, our regular protein balls hit the spot (mine and his)! I was planning on making our new favorite muffins too, but sadly realized that I had mis-remembered how much rolled oats we had left….it was very sad and a good reminder to check the pantry when I’m making my grocery list!

For main dishes, this week was a fun mix of old favorites and new recipes! Draz requested this Slow Cooker Island Pulled Pork recipe, so that was automatically put on the menu. And happily, because I forgot just how tasty this one is!

  • For my pulled pork, I make it as a wrap using FlatOut Wraps, so that is what is included in the macros and on the grocery list. Draz likes them with onion hamburger buns, so those work well too if you prefer!

healthy-weekly-food-prep-main-dishes

He also asked for me to make some more Turkey and Bean Burritos. Those went straight into the freezer. They are great to have on hand! Here are the changes I make to this recipe:

  • I use 1.25 lb 97% lean ground turkey instead of 1 lb ground beef. This means that this recipe also makes a few more burritos than the original recipe states.
  • Low fat refried beans instead of regular
  • I don’t butter the tortillas
  • When I make them for me, I use FlatOut Wraps. Draz prefers regular flour tortillas. The macros below are using FlatOut Wraps.

The slow cooker dish of the week was Cashew Chicken. I hadn’t made this one in quite a while and it was a welcome change! I love how the cashews really soak in the flavor of the sauce! When served with jasmine rice they ended up a little higher in carbs than I would prefer, but not too bad. This could be remedied by making cauliflower rice instead if you want to! I thought about it, but honestly, I’m a little frustrated with that right now, so I opted not to make it.

  • I omitted the green onions this time and didn’t really notice much of a difference.
  • reduced sugar ketchup instead of regular ketchup

weekly-food-prep

Our new dish for the week was Skinny Bell Pepper Nachos! This was a nice twist on the normal stuffed bell peppers that I’ve made before and I really liked them! I did make the servings a bit small though and next time, I will probably go with a few fewer servings. I originally made this as 6 servings. Next time I will probably make it as 4, so that is what I’ve listed below for the macros. After all, that is how it ended up being eaten!

  • I used 1.25 lbs 97% lean ground turkey. I did have a little left over at the end
  • 4 bell peppers instead of 3
  • I didn’t measure the cheese and instead just sprinkled a small amount on each. I think it ended up coming out to roughly 3/4 c Fiesta Blend shredded cheese

Here is the macros breakdown for this week!

iifym-sunday-meal-prep

Want to give this menu a try? Get your grocery list here! This week I decided to change things up a little. You have two options to pick from for your grocery list, so you can do what works best for you!

Just the main dishes: 

All the food from this meal prep: 

That’s it for this week! What did you make for your meal prep? Any new recipes? I would love to hear about them, so please leave a comment below!

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February in Review, March Goals

It’s March! While yes, we have had an unseasonably light winter (and there is always the possibility of more snow) I am so excited to be getting closer to spring! I am not a fan of winter and have been feeling a bit down from it for the past few weeks. Anyone else struggle with winter as time goes on?

Anyways, March is here and I have a lot I’m looking forward to. Not really so much for this month specifically, but there will be plenty of prep going on now for those future events! But before we get to that, a quick review on how February went!

February Review:

Highlights:

  • I turned 30! I wrote more about it here, but I’ve decided to view 30 as an exciting and new adventure. Plus I had a great birthday, so it definitely comes in as a highlight!
  • I got to see a Broadway production of Chicago! It was wonderful. A couple girlfriends and I decided to go as a late birthday celebration. We got very dressed up for the show, followed by a delicious dinner! It was a perfect night and so much fun!
  • This might have been my best month so far for sales for my jewelry!goals

Low Points:

  • Well, I did a full weekend market this month selling my jewelry. But it did not go at all how I had hoped it would. It was very discouraging and exhausting at the time. I’m feeling a bit better about it now, but it left me feeling quite down for a little while afterwards.goals
  • I did not hit anywhere near what I would have liked to for my workouts.

February Goals:

Personal

  1. Yoga once a week! This was the goal that I was the most disappointed about not being able to do last month, so that is being carried over. – I did manage to do this one and I’m so glad. Definitely something I’m going to try to carry over in the future!

Blog

  1. Contact 2-3 people about the big project I have in mind about design and implementation – Nope. I did talk to some people and get a few leads about who I can talk to about it, but I didn’t actually get in touch with the people I really needed to.

Business

  1. Finish up 10+ new pieces before market on the 10th – Yes! Plus more finished up at the market itself. It was a good month for creating!goals
  2. Get studio cleaned out for remodel – Nope. I do really need to get a move on with this one.

So, now for March! I really want this month to be productive and get me set up for the coming months!

March Goals:

Personal

  1. Keep up with fitness challenge! I just started a 10-week fitness challenge and can’t wait to see how it goes. Since it’s a new program and experience for me, so I’m not going to get specific with my goal. I just want to keep up with it!fitness-challenge-goals

Blog

  1. Finish online course I started at the beginning of this month. I got a little off-track through February, but this course seemed really good and helpful. So this month I’m going to finish it!
  2. Make appointment with someone qualified to help me with that big project I have in mind. Since I didn’t actually talk to anyone about it in February, I’m going to actually make sure to make an appointment for this month!

Business

  1. Make 20 new pendants. I have 2 live markets coming up in April, so now is my time to get ready!

That’s it for this month! How did February go for you? What are your goals for March? I would love to hear about them, so please leave a comment below!

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Sunday Meal Prep 2/26/17

Hey everyone! This week’s meal prep is pretty short, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in flavor! Draz and I still had some freezer meals left from the previous week, so I opted to only make the one main dish this time around! This worked out especially well since we decided to do an at home date night to celebrate my birthday! Finishing up with our meal prep early gave me more time for him and our fun night!

Enjoy!

Get your week started off right with this quick and easy meal prep!

weekly-food-prep-mason-jar-salads-protein-balls

“Our” salads and snacks this week were limited to MY salads and snacks haha! Draz has decided he is a bit done with the salads (for now at least) so the salads are all for me! And I made some of his protein balls partway through the previous week, so these are just mine!

As for our main dish, this week I picked one of our favorite slow cooker dishes: Slow Cooker Mongolian Chicken! I LOVE this recipe! 🙂 Both because it’s quick and easy and because it’s super tasty and still fits within my macros! I usually add in broccoli at the end to cook for a bit, around 20 minutes or so before the dish finishes.

healthy-meal-prep-main-dish

As for the reason why half of the servings have rice and the other half doesn’t….well, I’m still trying to improve on my cauliflower rice recipe. So far honestly, not a whole lot of luck. It doesn’t taste bad by any means, but doesn’t much seem like it replaces rice either! If you have a good cauliflower rice recipe I would love to hear about it!

That’s it for this week! What are you meal prepping this week?

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Burpee & Squat Pyramid – Sarah from Creating a Better Tomorrow

Hey everyone!  I am super excited to bring you this week’s post! Today we are welcoming back Sarah from Creating a Better Tomorrow. If you missed my interview with her a couple of week’s ago, I encourage you to check that out as well! Her story is amazing! And today she is going to push us to push ourselves with this awesome pyramid workout!

Enjoy! (Also, let’s take a second to celebrate that this is the first ever video on the blog!! But hopefully not the last 🙂 )

Every week (or almost every) over in my blog world at CreatingBetterTomorrow I share an at home workout.  As a busy mom of toddlers I know how precious every minute of your day and workout can be.  Forget wasting time and money driving to a gym you can get in an amazing workout at home with little equipment and space.  All of my online programming and personal training is designed to be 30 minutes or less and only ever require minimal equipment (if any!).  Today I wanted to put together a special workout just for you all Nymph in the Woods folks.  It’s a burner…and it has two of my favorite moves featured in it…squats and burpees!

You’ll notice it is a pyramid style so you’ll go down in one move and up in the other move.  It’s a twist on the traditional counting of repetitions or timing your moves.  I like changing up the style of my workouts.  By simply changing up the format (like pyramid vs. rep counting), it keeps me from getting bored and tends to make the workout seem to go faster!

There may only be two moves in this workout, but don't be deceived! This workout will leave you sweating and burning in the best way!

Only two moves but this workout will leave you sweating and your heart beating!

But I can’t Do Burpees!

I know what some of you are saying…”but I can’t do burpees.”  I beg to differ.  In my bootcamps I provide video demonstrations for each and every workout.  I just finished putting together all new videos for my 30 Day Total Body Bootcamp programs.  And here is one of the old videos.  I show you how you can modify a burpee to be low/no impact!

The only limitations you have in life are those you set in your mind.  You may have to MODIFY but MODIFICATIONS are not limits they are just stepping blocks to help you reach the next level.

The full program includes many workouts just like this for the 30 days.   I’ll provide you 5 workouts a week.  You then pick the 6th workout for the week to ensure you get some true movement you LOVE in and one rest day.  Only equipment needed is one set of light dumbbells and one set of medium to heavy dumbbells.  The workouts range in length from 25-40 minutes. Almost every workout will come with a video demo sent directly to you each week. THE BEST PART? You get a daily email message motivation and support from me!  ARE YOU IN?!?!?

I have a special coupon JUST for you Nymph fans.  Enter code nymph15 to save $15 off the total body bootcamp program or the total body and nutrition bootcamp program!  This is only good through the end of March 15, 2017.

I just want to say thank you to Sarah for that awesome workout! Want to see more from her? I definitely encourage you to head over to her blog and check out her programs and information!

finding fitness Sarah Creating a Better TomorrowSarah is a full time stay at home mom who blogs at Creating Better Tomorrow.  Her twin, 2 year old boys keep her active and fit no matter the day but she also enjoys teaching group fitness and training clients one on one.  She has a love for the garden and dirt…and eating all the things from the garden.  Her and her husband live on 7 acres out in the country where she can get her hands dirty and the boys can chase their chickens.
Sarah suffered from anorexia in college and through that experience has grown stronger in her relationship with her Lord, her body, and her family.  She know shares through her blog and fitness work a balanced approach to loving your body and moving in ways that make your body and mind stronger than ever.

Where to find Sarah:

On her blog at CreatingBetterTomorrow.com

Twitter: @CreatingBetter

Instagram: @CreatingBetter

Facebook: Creating Better Tomorrow

Pinterest: Sarah @creatingbetter

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