Finding Fitness: Di from Work Out With Di

Hey everyone! I’m so excited to bring you this month’s Finding Fitness interview! Di is so open and honest, and with over 20 years in the fitness industry, she has a lot of knowledge to share! Enjoy!

Looking for some inspiration and guidance on your health and fitness journey? Then Di has you covered! Come check out my interview with Di for some new inspiration, then head over to her blog to check her out as well!

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

Oh boy this could be a blog post in of itself.. in a nutshell: I’m a 45 year old woman living in California, though I was born and raised in England. I moved to the USA in 2001 with my husband and we became citizens 3 years ago. We have been married 18 years, no kids (more on that one later), and have one dalmatian. Fun fact: we got married in a hot air balloon! That already tells you we’re non-traditional, and have a quirky sense of humor right?

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

I guess it started with school. I wasn’t on any sports teams but I grew up in the 80’s in the era of Jane Fonda and fondly remember doing her workout videos in my living room with my leotard, tights and legwarmers. We had a weekly aerobics class after school and I grew to love group fitness classes. Post-school me and my BFF would go to weekly classes at the local fitness center. Just once or twice a week if it fit into our work schedule (we worked shifts).

For me it wasn’t so much a change in fitness journey but life in general. When I was 23 I got a callback after my annual well woman check. I had some ‘abnormal cells’ on my pap results. After a whirlwind of more tests, biopsies, and laser surgery I was declared “clear” but it was a ‘wake-up call’. I was in a job I hated (retail management) and they say if you find something you love to do you’ll never work another day in your life… so what did I LOVE to do? The only thing I could think of was the group fitness classes! In 1996 at 24 years old I switched careers and earned my group fitness certification and I’ve worked in fitness since.

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

When we moved to the USA in 2001 I wasn’t able to work as I didn’t have a work visa. That year was the year of the terror attacks and understandably all visa/green-card applications came to a screeching halt so it took us 7 years to get our green-cards. During that time I gained 25lbs. To say we fully embraced the standard American diet would be an understatement. That combined with moving less (I was playing World of Warcraft with friends), and being so far from family. I wasn’t sure I wanted to return to a fitness career but that possibility was there, so I set about cleaning up my diet, I started running and working out again, and dropped the 25lbs. In 2009 I started working in the fitness industry again.

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

I mentioned we don’t have children. One reason for that is that I have a hereditary condition called Polycystic Kidney Disease [PKD]. Cysts grow in and on your kidneys, reducing function. The chances of passing that to my children is 50% and as the condition has no cure, and the treatment is basically eventually dialysis/transplant. That’s a big risk that we weren’t prepared to take so we simply opted out of parenthood.
With the help of diet and exercise I’d been pretty healthy since my cancer scare but 3 years ago I had my first bout of symptoms due to PKD. I was actually teaching a Les Mills CXworx class and the last exercise was prone back extensions. An exercise that was so simple right? I felt “something” pushing into the floor from my abdomen. I came home and slept the rest of the day. I made an appointment with my nephrologist we ran tests. My left kidney was “growing”, as I now had more cysts, and cysts on my liver too. The enlarged kidney has continued to cause me issues and I’ve had to make significant changes. I stopped teaching CXworx, and BodyCombat. As much as I loved the classes they continued to aggravated my left kidney due to movement speed, rotation, and compression. Honestly it was all a “wake-up” call for me. I’ve seen my family members on dialysis, my mum and uncle both have transplants, and I still have an aunt and cousin needing transplants. I could continue to stress my body and cause more damage to my body… or choose to listen to it. I chose the latter. That’s when I began moving into the current era of my fitness journey.

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What achievement are you the most proud of?

I started my career in fitness in 1996 and during the last 20 years I’ve done so many forms of fitness. Spinning, running, cycling, weights, pilates, step, aqua, Zumba, Les Mills… but none bring me to the same space as Yoga. I started teaching yoga at a gym in 2010 but in 2014 I took the plunge and did my RYT200. I took my first yoga class at 13 and 30 years later I was teaching it!
Goals are progressive though, when I achieve one I take a break then start looking for others. I’ve run multiple 5k races including two dressed as Santa and the color run was fun! I’ve also run a couple of 10ks, a 1/2 marathon, all of which lead to a few duathlons, a cycling event and and in 2016 I did my first triathlon. As someone who hates swimming that was a task. I’m always the most proud of my last goal, and for me that was the triathlon. Ask me again in 5 years!

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

While I did lose 25lbs the fact that I have PKD makes this a health journey not just fitness. Health care providers always ask what blood pressure medications I take as high BP is a symptom of PKD. At 45 most people my age with PKD are on at least one medication. Usually for high blood pressure. Thanks to diet and exercise I’m still at stage 2 of the disease and I want to stay here as long as I can.

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

Right now I’m working towards my RYT500 for my own practice and teaching, and my e-RYT200 to become a yoga educator. I’ve been helping with the current yoga teacher trainees this year and it’s something I’ve found I have a passion for.

What does a typical training week look like?

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This has changed a LOT over the last 5 years. I used to actively instruct classes (Les Mills etc) but now since switching class formats I coach more, which leaves me more time and energy for my own workouts. I now only teach 7-10 classes a week, have private clients 4 days a week, and coach a couple of clients online.

Honestly I don’t have a “typical week”, it’s an ongoing schedule I tweak depending on my goals (last year I did a lot of cardio for the triathlon) but this is the current training week for my current goals.

Monday – Weights: Legs & Glutes,
Tuesday -Weights: Shoulders & triceps;
Wednesday -Weights: Glutes, Biceps
Thursday -Weights: Legs, glutes, back,
Friday – Weights: Shoulders & triceps Cardio: Spin Class
Saturday – Weights: Legs, glutes & chest
Sunday – Rest day, usually just walking and yoga.

Everyday – I walk my dog 3 miles in the morning, then 30 mins in the afternoon and 20 in the evening. So I get about 2 hours of walking per day. I also try to get 30 mins of yoga and meditation daily. Plus I move a fair amount in my daily life teaching and interacting with clients. I usually try and get in 2 other HIIT cardio sessions in during the week beside my weekly spin class. Due to my schedule though, this changes. Right now it’s Tuesday and Sunday as I work early Wednesdays and Thursdays. My goal is to start running with my dog again a couple of mornings a week.

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

finding-fitness-diAgain due to my schedule my work days don’t have any consistency. I find meal prepping to be so important for staying on track and would encourage anyone with shift work or lack of time to do the same. Busy days are:

Breakfast is usually a smoothie with spinach, berries, bananas, almond milk, flaxseed meal and protein powder

Lunch is something I usually made ahead of time. Usually a burritto bowl with tons of veggies, beans, salsa, guacamole

Dinner in the week we eat late. Typically we sit down to eat around 7.30-8pm. Typical meals for us include tacos, burger’n’fries, meatloaf, or our favorite: curry.

Snacks: Tofu icecream, pancakes, or dateballs are things I snack on. Depends on the day and activity level.

In case I didn’t mention it already I’m vegan. I’ve been vegan since June 2013 and I was vegetarian for 20 years prior to that. My husband is vegetarian. One of our current favorite things is a sandwich with Benevolent Bacon, tofurky roast slices, and melted daiya cheddar slice on Eureka seeds the day bread. So good and 38g protein!

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

If you’d asked me this 5 years ago I’d have said no. However since my PKD progressed I’m not processing some vitamins efficiently.
Currently I take: Vitamin D3 as that showed up on a nephrology bloodwork done 2 years ago (it’s processed by the kidneys); B12 (as I am vegan), and protein powders (I love plantfusion, SunWarrior and Nuzest).
For hot days, long runs, or intense cardio I also use electrolyte replacement drinks, I like Nuun, Emergen-C or as a push just regular gatorade. Dehydration is not good for my kidneys so this is something I pay close attention to!

What is your favorite exercise? Your least favorite?

Favorite: deadlifts, seriously I love deadlifts. I just think there is something about bad ass about deadlifts, and cleans, clean and jerk/press. Deadlifts are my favorite though.
Least: swimming. I did my first triathlon in 2016 and I did learn to like it a little more, but I’ve never once in my life just thought “you know what? let’s go swimming!”. Plus the triathlon was ocean swim, double ugh!

What do you do if you find your motivation lacking?

For me the toughest times are those times when I am low energy due to hormones. But that’s when you make results, on the bad workouts, not the everyday or the good ones. On the ones that suck. I tell myself I just have to do it for 10 minutes. If I still don’t want to after 10 minutes then I can stop. After 10 minutes I’m usually really into the workout. If I’m not, then I listen to my body and see if it’s body or mind. If the body is willing I’ll hold out for 30 minutes. If it’s the body telling me to stop, then I listen.

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

I’m not gonna lie, this has been a struggle for me in the past. When I first began teaching group fitness classes I was actively teaching 20-25 classes a week! It doesn’t leave a lot for your own workouts. Now I focus more on being active in the day walking the dog, gardening, etc, and when I see friends we often opt for walking/hiking to catch up. As I work in both a gym and yoga studio I get free membership at both but don’t use it nearly as much as I should. Really though it’s about making an appointment and scheduling it into your day, then making a decision to do it. You wouldn’t cancel on the dentist or doctor unless you were sick, workouts should be the same!

finding-fitness-di

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

  1. Just start! Now. Not on Monday, not on the first, not when the stars align and everything is “perfect” conditions but now!
  2. Start slow and find something you enjoy doing. For me it’s yoga, hiking, walking, running, and weights. For others it’s Zumba or CrossFit.
  3. Make a smart goal. So you want to “get fit”. What does that mean to you? Is it weight loss, cholesterol numbers, lowering your blood pressure, dropping body fat, or losing a dress size? You can’t shoot an arrow without a target.

Anything else you want to share?

The biggest excuses I hear all the time as a trainer are “I don’t have time” and “I can’t afford it”. Fitness doesn’t have to take a chunk out of your day or cost anything. Yes it can be 100% free. I have a free health & fitness planner on my website, and a free 31 day bootcamp (with workout videos) and I have a lot more at-home workouts you can do anywhere on my YouTube Channel.

Sara here: Di, thank you so much for joining me this week! Everyone, I hope you enjoyed this month’s Finding Fitness and getting to know Di a little better! You should definitely go check out her blog and social media!

finding-fitness-diDi is a personal trainer, wellness coach, and yoga teacher with over 20 years experience working in the fitness industry. Her passion is all things fitness, health and nutrition. When not working she can usually be found walking her dog, gardening, or out riding her dirtbike (Honda CRF230F). Due to family being spread all over the World she also loves to travel. Di is also a closet geek, she taught herself HTML, javascript and video editing, and loves Sci Fi.

Want to see more of Di? Head over to her blog WorkOut with Di, her Facebook page, Twitter, YouTube Channel and her Instagram!

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Easy Healthy Sunday Meal Prep

Hey everyone! I’m back!!

I know it’s been a couple of week’s since you have really heard from me. Things have been changing a lot here and it’s kinda thrown my schedule into chaos. And if you’ve been here with me for long, you know how much I thrive on routine! But things are finally settling down here and falling into a new routine, so hopefully I won’t have any more long absences anytime soon!

Even with the chaos of the past few weeks, meal prep has been one of the main things that has helped me to keep the changes from becoming too overwhelming. I don’t always do well with rapid change, but knowing that I had our food ready and easy for us to grab helped a lot! This week’s meal prep was no different, with it’s high protein snacks and filling main dishes. Enjoy!!

Keep the chaos of your week at bay with this healthy and easy weekly meal prep!

Along with all the changes that have been going on for me personally, I made some changes to my snacks as well! With a focus on them being filling and full of protein, I added in some rotisserie chicken lunchmeat with my grapes and cheese for my first snack of the day. For my second one, celery with peanut butter!

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This is actually the second week that I have done these new snacks and I’m really liking them. Hard-boiled eggs, a couple types of protein balls finish out the snacks and I also made a big back of our breakfast burritos and some mason jar salads inspired by this recipe!

I have learned one thing though, when it came to my celery snack. All over Pinterest you can see portable snacks and one of those is celery in a small mason jar with peanut butter already at the bottom. The first week I made these I gave that a try….did NOT work well for me haha. It was very difficult to really dip the celery in the peanut butter and made for more frustration than the snack is worth.

sunday-food-prep

This week, I put the celery in the mason jars again, but just for ease of storage. I put a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter in tiny containers. Then I grabbed one of those each day along with our other food. It worked so much better! So while this does create a little more dishes, it’s well worth it in my opinion.

For our main dishes this week, I decided to stick with a few ones I have made before. While I love making new dishes, when things are overwhelming I tend to stick with things I’m familiar with. Draz requested Skinny Chicken Enchiladas and I also made One-Pot Spicy Cajun Chicken & Rice and Roasted Red Pepper Chicken Chili. All of them are dishes we have enjoyed before and everything turned out wonderful!

sunday-food-prep-healthy-meals

Out of the 3, the Enchiladas take the most work, but the flavor makes them well worth it! If you like this one like we do, you can cut down on the time it takes in the future by making a larger batch of shredded chicken. You can then freezing it into the amounts you need for this recipe! I like seasoning mine with some cumin, paprika and chili powder and slow cooking a big batch to shred. Tastes delicious and really cuts down on the time and dishes for making it in the future.

Here is the macros breakdown for this week’s main dishes:

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

How do you deal with rapid change in your life? Have you found meal prep to be extra helpful in times like that? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below!

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Finding Fitness: Jen from Burpees For Breakfast

Hey everyone! I’m super excited to bring you this month’s Finding Fitness! Jen from Burpees for Breakfast is someone I discovered relatively recently, but is so inspirational! As you might remember, I’ve been getting more into weightlifting lately. Well, here is someone who definitely believes that girls can lift heavy! I love her focus on a healthy mindset and on weightlifting and am so happy to get to share her with all of you. Finding Fitness is all about sharing others experiences in their fitness journey with the hopes of inspiring you on your own journey!

Enjoy!

Jen from Burpees for Breakfast shares all about her fitness journey, gaining a love of weightlifting and so much more in this month's Finding Fitness!

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

I help women fit healthy living into their everyday life. I’m a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, nutrition coach and blogger. While I have my own business, I work full time in corporate wellness. I’m from a small town in Indiana and currently live in a smaller one with my husband and fur child, Oscar. I’m a huge fan of coffee and kombucha, pancakes and sushi. I love the beach and dream of living by it some day. Friends is my all-time favorite show, followed closely by How I Met Your Mother, Parks and Rec and New Girl. Currently, I’m slightly obsessed with the Beauty and the Beast Soundtrack. And of course, I love all things fitness, nutrition and mindset!

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

I started running the summer of my senior year of college to keep up with the other interns I was working with. Surprisingly, I ended up enjoying it. I continued running for a few years post college and eventually started to incorporate HIIT workouts, using the Nike Training Club app. During this time, I was dealing with some pretty difficult gut issues. It took a journey to heal my gut to really motivate me to change. I started eating better and working out smarter. The change I experienced with my gut healing journey has motivated me to keep going. In the past 4 years, I’ve made healthy living a lifestyle and I honestly can’t image it any other way. I love how I feel when I take care of my body, so it really only takes a couple days of not eating so well to get me back on track! If anyone is interested, they can read more about my gut healing journey here.

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

Understanding that rest days are necessary AND finding a form of fitness that I love. When I first started, I worked out 7 days a week and would feel back every time I had to skip or had to take an off day. Now, I can have weeks where I only workout twice. The key was finding balance and experimenting with different things. It was a lot of trial and error, but it was worth it!

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

I’m a type-a, overachiever, let-me-do-all-the-things kind of girl. This does not always work well for the body. I’ve dealt with gut issues and adrenal fatigue twice. The last time was in early 2016 and I actually just stopped working out all together. This break, while tough, but so important. It helped me figure out why I wanted to workout, what types of workouts my body enjoyed and helped me identify how fitness could fit into my life.

What achievement are you the most proud of?

Starting my own business was a pretty big deal and I’m proud of the fact that I did it AND still do it! On the fitness side of things, I just PR’d my deadlift at 205# and finally nailed my pull-up. I’m at 4 – 5 in a row right now and working on 6+.

pull-up-fitness-goals

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

Learning to love my body. A few years ago, my husband challenged me to lift weights for 2 months. I was a cardio queen and lifting had no appeal to me. However, lifting ended up changing my life and view of my body. Muscles started popping up and I got curves. With my history of digestive and hormonal issues, I noticed huge changes in this department as well. I credit lifting to helping me fully embrace and love my body.

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

Right now, I’m not working on much. With the summer, I tend to have trouble staying consistent at the gym because I want to be outside doing activities. So, this time of year I’m in maintenance mode. I am working on my back squat goal, hoping to hit my 225# deadlift goal and working pull-ups. Once June hits, I’ll likely just focus on maintenance and knocking out more pull-ups!
I guess my long term dream as of recent would be to bust out pull-ups like the people on Bar Starz!

deadlift-fitness-goals

What does a typical training week look like?

I usually aim for 3 – 4 days of workouts each week. Monday is typically Leg Day and I focus on squats. I usually do an upper body focus, deadlift / back day and a HIIT day. Now that summer is around the corner, I tend to enjoy workouts outside. I will sometimes skip the gym in favor of long walks or playing tennis with my husband.

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

As much as possible, I start my day with a big mason jar of water and a cup of warm lemon water with collagen. I usually have a fat + protein + veggie heavy breakfast. After lots of experimenting, I find my body does best with this ratio. Occasionally, I’ll throw in a carb like half a banana. I love coffee, so I drink at least 1 cup most days, usually with a scoop of collagen. Lunch is a typically homemade and will include a carb, fat, protein and veggies. I like to workout after work, so depending on the workout, if I need a snack, I’ll have a little carb / protein 1 ½ – 2 hours prior to my workout. I have Creatine/half a EAA scoop for my workout. Rather than a post workout snack, we typically have dinner, which is more carb heavy! I love chips, so if I have an evening snack, I like to have those. Boulder Canyon is my favorite brand!

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

What works for me and my body is taking the following supplements. This might not work for everyone AND some people might need more/less. I use supplements to enhance my diet, not replace.
EPA / DHA or Fish oil for inflammation. I have asthma, so I like to reduce inflammation as much as possible. Magnesium for gut health and muscle recovery. Vitamin D helps my mood and my skin. Probiotic for gut health. Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides for gut, skin, hair, nail and joint health. Superfood Greens (occasionally) for extra support. Protein Powder (occasionally) for workout recovery or a treat. EAA for muscle recovery. Creatine workout performance.

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What is your favorite exercise? Your least favorite?

I love lifting and HIIT workouts. Favorite exercise move is probably a deadlift – pretty much any variation. My least favorite exercise is probably side plank…only because I’m not very great at it!

What do you do if you find your motivation lacking?

If I’m lacking fitness motivation, I figure out if I’m enjoying my workouts. If I’m not, I’ll either switch it up or take a break from working out. In the nutrition department, I’ll try new recipes out or make simple meals that require little creativity. For other areas, I like to journal through my thoughts and try to figure out what’s going on that way. Usually just writing down my thoughts helps my mood shift.

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

Moving my body is a priority, so I make time for it. Moving and nourishing my body are my top priorities and help me feel my best. With all the things I have going on, being able to full give myself to the projects and people in my life is important. If I want to be able to do that, I move and eat well. Some days are ‘healthier’ than others. I’ve learned to just lighten up and give myself grace, instead of being obsessive and strict, making sure I do things perfectly everyday.

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

I actually wrote a post on this topic recently called How to Start Working Out and Stick With It. I expand on the tips in the post, but my top 3 would be

  1. Just start moving. Walking is a highly discounted form of fitness. For people that have maybe never worked out before, walking is a great place to start.
  2. Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals. If you have a SMART goal, it’s more likely you will stick with it!
  3. Start at your current level of fitness. If you are just starting your journey, it’s unlikely that starting out with a 200# deadlift is the best option. Start with the basics, master them, then move on from there.
    I’ll also add: Find something you enjoy. If you start running just because other people are, but you hate it, it’s unlikely you will stick with it. Doing something YOU enjoy is the key to consistency.

Anything else you want to share?

I recently started a free Facebook group called The Burpees for Breakfast Squad! It’s a community for health-minded women to chat about wellness topics and offer support! I’d love for anyone interested to join us.

Sara here: Jen, thank you so much with sharing all of that awesome information with us! Guys, I hope you enjoyed getting to know Jen and hearing about about her journey. I love how many different ways that we come to fitness in our lives and I hope you are being inspired by all the different stories being shared in my Finding Fitness series!

jen-burpees-for-breakfastJen Elliott helps women fit healthy living into their everyday life. She is a certified personal trainer, nutrition coach, group fitness instructor, blogger, dog mom and girlboss behind Burpees for Breakfast.  Her passion is educating, equipping and inspiring women with simple, smart and sustainable solutions for healthy living. On her blog, she talks all things fitness, nutrition, mindset, self-care, body love and more.  

 

To see more of Jen, check out her blog, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!

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Meet Your Fitness Goals with this High Protein Meal Prep!

Hey everyone! I am so excited to share this week’s meal prep with you! This week’s meal prep was all about the healthy comfort food and it couldn’t have come at a better time. While it didn’t start out this way, the week ended up being a surprising and stressful one. I was very happy to have these filling high protein meals to enjoy when I got home each day!

Get ready for your week with this delicious high protein meal prep! Perfect for hitting your fitness goals and enjoying some comfort food at the same time!

So why was this week surprising and stressful? Well….it was decided rather unexpectedly that I will be going to part-time at my regular job. And while I have been hoping to make the move to part-time by the end of the year, I was not planning on it happening quite so soon. Or with such little notice. I did have the option to remain full-time, but it would have required a major schedule shift that neither Draz or myself thought was the best option.

I’m actually pretty excited about it and what it could mean for both my blog and for my jewelry business! But change is stressful, so this week wasn’t the easiest. And it’s week’s like this that make me so glad I do meal prep. I know I say this regularly, but it really did make all the difference this week! I didn’t sleep the best most days from the stress and things were pretty busy around here working to figure things out. So not having to think or worry about what we were going to eat any given day was a relief. Add in that all three main dishes this week were very comfort-foody and, well, it just helped things out a lot!

Enjoy!

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Our snacks this week were pretty basic. Neither Draz or I needed protein balls, so all I had to make up was the other snacks. I tried something a little different with the No-Crust Pizza Bites this week. Instead of 3 slices of Canadian bacon per muffin tin, I cut it down to 2. I think this worked a lot better to make the bites “sink” into the tin while they were cooking and made them hold together much better. I will definitely be doing it that way in the future!

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You might be wondering why my grapes containers have no cheese haha. Well, I have been using the Baybel individual wheels instead and I really like them! It’s a nice change up from the other cheeses I’ve used in the past. Other than that, I made more Quinoa Omelette Bites, Cheeseburger Inspired Salads, and more Freezer Breakfast Burritos!

2 sizes freezer breakfast sausage burritos
Freezer Breakfast Burritos
Print Recipe
These breakfast burritos are a staple in our home! Tasty and filling, they are our favorite breakfast. Pair with some healthy homemade cinnamon bread and cottage cheese and you have a breakfast that will start your day off right!
Servings Prep Time
28-30 burritos 45 minutes, split
Cook Time Passive Time
20-25 minutes 10-15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
28-30 burritos 45 minutes, split
Cook Time Passive Time
20-25 minutes 10-15 minutes
2 sizes freezer breakfast sausage burritos
Freezer Breakfast Burritos
Print Recipe
These breakfast burritos are a staple in our home! Tasty and filling, they are our favorite breakfast. Pair with some healthy homemade cinnamon bread and cottage cheese and you have a breakfast that will start your day off right!
Servings Prep Time
28-30 burritos 45 minutes, split
Cook Time Passive Time
20-25 minutes 10-15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
28-30 burritos 45 minutes, split
Cook Time Passive Time
20-25 minutes 10-15 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: burritos
Instructions
  1. Brown sausage over med-high heat in a large skillet. When sausage is almost cooked through, add bell pepper and onions. Saute until tender. While sausage is cooking, beat eggs and any desired seasonings together.
  2. Once sausage and veggie mixture is cooked, add egg mixture. Cook, stirring regularly, until eggs are almost set. Add cheese and salsa; cook 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted and eggs fully set. Remove from heat and allow to cool, 10-15 minutes.
    freezer sausage breakfast burrito filling mixture
  3. Once mixture is cooled, spoon into tortillas and fold into a burrito. Wrap in cling wrap (my preference) or aluminum foil.
    2 sizes freezer breakfast sausage burritos
Recipe Notes

Our burritos have two sizes. Mine have 1/3 c filling wrapped in a FlatOut wrap. Draz's have 2/3 c. filling wrapped in a larger (burrito-size) white tortilla. This recipe usually makes 30 burritos in total, 15 of each size. If you are just making the smaller burritos, it should make roughly 54 burritos.

To Heat: Remove from freezer and allow to thaw overnight. Heat in microwave 1.5-2 minutes, flipping once. (You can heat straight from the freezer, but I find it's harder to heat evenly that way)

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food-prep-main-dishes

For our main dishes this week, we had Jambalaya, Skinny Chicken Enchiladas and Healthy One-Pan Baked “Smothered” Chicken! I love all of these so much I don’t even know if I can say I had a favorite this week! The jambalaya is adapted from a family recipe and has been one of my comfort foods for a long time. And I love this healthier version of it I’ve been making for the past year or so!

Jambalaya
Print Recipe
This is one of the first recipes I learned to cook and one of my favorites still!
Servings Prep Time
10 people 15-20 min
Cook Time Passive Time
50 min 25 min
Servings Prep Time
10 people 15-20 min
Cook Time Passive Time
50 min 25 min
Jambalaya
Print Recipe
This is one of the first recipes I learned to cook and one of my favorites still!
Servings Prep Time
10 people 15-20 min
Cook Time Passive Time
50 min 25 min
Servings Prep Time
10 people 15-20 min
Cook Time Passive Time
50 min 25 min
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Cook sausage 5 min; remove from pan. Add chicken, cayenne pepper, and 1 tbsp Emeril's to pan and cook 5 min; remove from pan.
  2. Add onions, bell peppers, remaining Emeril's and garlic powder to the pan and cook 8 min or until vegetable are softened, stirring regularly. Add rice and cook 3 min, stirring frequently.
  3. Return sausage and chicken to the pot. Add stock and bay leaf. Increase heat to med-high and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook 25 min; remove from heat. Let stand, covered, for 10 min. Remove bay leaf and stir in green onions to serve.
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skinny-chicken-enchiladas

For the Enchiladas, I made a couple small changes:

  • I didn’t measure out the chicken, but it was roughly 1.25 lbs. I didn’t change any of the rest of the chicken mixture. It ended up being 11 enchiladas, with 1/3 cup filling in each.
  • For my enchiladas, I used Light FlatOut wraps instead of tortillas. They worked great! For Draz’s I used regular flour tortillas.

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For the Smothered Chicken, I didn’t change anything to the recipe itself. However, I did make an exciting change to how I served it! Draz’s portions were with brown rice, but mine were with a delicious cauliflower rice! Now, I know, I’ve made cauliflower rice on here before. And that is the new thing….I didn’t make it! I ended up impulse buying some frozen prepared Bird’s Eye Riced Cauliflower with Roasted Garlic and I am so glad I did!

Guys, this stuff is delicious! I have struggled with making cauliflower rice for months now. I would make it and be pretty disappointed with it each time. It was fine…it just wasn’t working for me as a rice substitute. But this?! This totally works for me! I can honestly say I don’t even noticed the difference. While I usually am all about making things fresh, this is definitely going to be the exception for me!

Here is this week’s macros breakdown!

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Want to make this week’s meal prep for yourself? Get your downloadable grocery list here!

That’s it for this week! What have you tried recently that surprised you, like the frozen riced cauliflower did me? What is your favorite healthy comfort food? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below!

 

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Prepare for your Week with this Healthy Stir-fry Meal Prep

Hey guys! Are you as ready for spring as I am? I know that technically it’s already spring, but it sure hasn’t felt like it! I think that the “missing spring”  thing definitely influenced this week’s meal prep. Stir-fry, for me, always makes me think of veggies and spring-time goodness. The funny thing is, I didn’t actually even realize that all 3 dishes were stir-fry until I sat down to write this! So I guess that tells you how observant I was this past week haha!

This week’s meal prep dishes were pretty delicious regardless. Like last week, this week was kinda split into “food for Draz” and “food for me.” But that’s ok! Sometimes it just works out that way.

Enjoy!

Get your week started right with this healthy and budget friendly meal prep! If you love stir-fry, then this one is definitely for you!

This week had a full snack prep, as both of us needed protein balls and I’m still on my newer snack obsession. I am loving the No-Crust Pizza Bites and the Quinoa Omelette Bites still. They are just perfect for my second snack of the day. Of course, Draz needs his Cookie Dough Protein Balls as well 🙂

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I’m still making these Cinnamon Vanilla Protein Bites for myself and loving them! I don’t know if I mentioned it last time, but I did have the issue of them being a bit on the dry side when I first made them. Did you try them and have that issue to? Anyways, I figured out a solution guys! Just add a splash of unsweetened plain almond milk to the mix! It works great and they were much easier to form into balls.

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For our main dishes this week, I made two of our favorites for Draz and a new recipe for me! For Draz, I made the Thai Peanut Chicken Pasta and Cabbage Sauteed with Chicken. Both of these are so good, though Draz’s favorite will probably always be the Thai Peanut Chicken Pasta. I did forget that I usually double that one, so we did end up a little short on food later on throughout the week.

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For me, I made this Sweet and Sour *Tofu Peppers Broccoli. Now, the original recipe calls for chickpeas, but I was trying to lower the carbs, so I decided to try cooking with tofu for the first time! Because of this being my first time cooking with tofu, I’m not sure if that is what caused my overall reaction to this dish….which is kinda “eh”? It wasn’t bad, but I don’t know that I would make it again in it’s current form. I also cut the sugar in the sauce in half, but honestly I liked the sauce, do I don’t think that was the problem. I might try making this dish again with chickpeas and see how I like it then!

As always, here is this week’s macros breakdown!

healthy-weekly-meal-prep

Want to try this meal prep yourself? Get your grocery list with all the main dish ingredients here:

That’s it for this week! Have you tried cooking with tofu before? Any tips for a newbie? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below!

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Finding Fitness: Jo at Fallen Angel Fitness

Hey everyone! I am so excited to bring you this month’s edition of “Finding Fitness”! Today I’m introducing you to Jo from Fallen Angel Fitness. If you follow me over on Instagram, you know that I’ve been getting pretty into weightlifting the past few months. So my interview with Jo was even more exciting for me with her passion for lifting!

Whether you are just getting started on your fitness journey or have been at it for years, I think she has a lot of insight to share, so I will let her get to it. Enjoy!

Whether you are just getting started on your fitness journey or have been at it for years, my interview with Jo is sure to have some insights for you!

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

My name is Jo, I’m 37 years old, from England, and I live with my husband Alan, my cat Charlie and my terrier-cross Cookie.
I’m really new to the world of blogging. I have a few social media pages and also upload videos to a Youtube channel each week, but decided to start my blog in December 2016 because I wanted a place where I could merge my love of fitness with my passion for writing.
Aside from my interests in fitness, I’m a trainee psychologist in my final two years of training. I believe that psychology has a huge role to play in fitness and I try and bring aspects of this into my blog posts where possible. I’m also a qualified counsellor and I enjoy being able to make connections with people and help them explore their stories at a deeper level.

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

 
I haven’t always been interested in fitness. Far from it! In my mid-20s I didn’t take great care of my body at all. I smoked, drank a lot of alcohol and didn’t eat particularly well. In around 2005, me and a few friends decided to start training for a 5k to raise money for a breast cancer charity as we all felt we could do with getting fitter. I’d never done any running before and started off with only being able to run 30 seconds at a time. A few months later I was able to run 5k non-stop. It was a huge achievement and I felt such freedom from being able to just put on some running shoes and get out there.
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What has been your biggest challenge in your fitness journey and how have you dealt with it?

Body image has been an issue for me since my 20s, and although it’s not so much of a problem nowadays it can still play on my mind from time to time. As part of my powerlifting training I am currently ‘bulking’, or eating in a calorie surplus, in order to help build strength. This means that I am not as lean as I would perhaps like. There are some days where I can feel a bit self-conscious about it, and I think that’s mainly because we’re surrounded by so many messages about how we ‘should’ look. But, when I see how much stronger I’m getting in each training session and I keep hitting PRs (personal records) in my lifts this helps to reinforce that bulking is helping me right now, and that it won’t be forever.

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

A few years ago I strained my IT Band whilst training for a marathon. Despite taking a few months off to allow it to heal, it was never really the same and so I had to find other ways to keep fit. I got into doing fitness DVDs and in mid-2015 I came across a DVD which focused on weight training. I loved the feeling of getting stronger and that’s what spurred me onto continuing with lifting weights.
 

What achievement are you the most proud of?

I am a much different person to who I was about 10 years ago. I’ve been through personal difficulties and done a lot of work on myself to be where I am today. I have a lot more faith in myself and my abilities, and I actually like myself now! It’s been hard work but it has been worth it to come through the other side and start enjoying life and doing the things I love. I should say, that despite the difficult experiences I’ve had I wouldn’t be where I am without them and so I am grateful for having been through them.
 
 

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

The biggest change outside of the physical has been my increase in confidence. Getting physically stronger has been a huge boost to the way I feel about myself and how I look. Weight training has helped me to become more disciplined in other areas of my life. I used to put off doing things I was worried about, but now I am more likely to tackle them head-on rather than avoiding them. I’m not the most patient person in the world and lifting weights has also helped me to become much more patient because my strength is going to take time to build and so the work that I put in now is going to pay dividends when it comes to me competing.
 
 

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

I’m currently training for my first powerlifting meet in May 2017. I’m loathe to call myself a powerlifter until I have done my first meet! I have no doubt that I will enjoy the experience so I’d like to compete in further meets afterwards. Perhaps I’m dreaming too big at this stage (is there such a thing?!) but I would eventually like to move from a novice category of lifting to a more ‘professional’ category. Of course that means getting stronger, which I fully intend on becoming!
 
 

What does a typical training week look like?

I train five days a week and have the weekends as my rest days. On Mondays I do front squats and deadlifts, Tuesdays is decline bench press, Wednesdays is an active recovery day which consists of light weights to keep working the muscles but not fatigue them. Thursdays are back squats and Fridays is flat bench press. I have an online coach and he sends me the weights and reps that he wants me to do for each exercise. The weights and reps vary each week as sometimes he’ll want me to do heavier weights and lower reps, and other days I’ll lift lighter weights with higher reps. He will adjust as we go along, depending on how I get on with the different weights. It certainly seems to be working as I’m gradually increasing what I can lift!
I also try to do one 15-20 minute HIIT session each week for heart health. Because I’m training for strength my coach wants me to keep cardio to a minimum, which is fine, but I do like the feeling I get from doing HIIT and feel my heart racing!
finding-fitness-jo-fallen-angel-fitness

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

In each of my meals I try to get a good balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. I tend to eat the same things for breakfast and lunch but vary things for dinner. I’m a creature of habit and routine just feels easier for me! I rarely get bored with the same foods.
For breakfast I have oats which are cooked in water with egg whites. I then mix in chocolate protein powder and peanut butter. It probably sounds horrible but it’s actually very nice, honest!
Lunch doesn’t tend to be a big meal as I save most of my calories for later in the day. I normally have some rice cakes with tuna or chicken and also some boiled eggs as protein helps me to feel fuller for longer.
For dinner it’s usually chicken or fish with mixed vegetables and rice, but I vary the sauces so that it doesn’t get boring. I also have a meal a few hours before going to bed which is usually another (smaller) portion of oats with protein powder and peanut butter.
I do have a few squares of dark chocolates most days, and whilst it’s nice to be able to do that I try to stick to nutrient-dense foods as much as possible.
 
 

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

I use protein powder with my oats at breakfast time, just because there are only so many egg whites and chicken breast I can eat in a day! The protein powder makes it easier for me to hit my protein requirements, but I aim to get the majority of my protein from whole foods.
I also take Creatine Monohydrate. Creatine is a natural substance found in our own bodies, mostly in the muscles, and is said to be one of the best supplements when it comes to building strength and/or muscle. Creatine helps me get a better ‘pump’ when lifting weights and also enables me to push that bit harder when the weights get tough.
I also take an Omega 3 capsule each day for heart and joint health. I do try and get a decent amount of oliy fish but it can be expensive so the capsules help with that. Also, I take a multivitamin in case I’m not getting all the micronutrients I need from my food, and a specific joint health supplement as I want to help preserve my joints and be able to lift for as long as possible.
 
 

What is your favorite exercise? Your least favorite?

My favorite lift is the deadlift. There is something very empowering about being able to lift a dead weight off of the floor! My least favorite is wide-stance squats. They help to build the hips, but they are just so awkward and I’m glad to get them done!
 
 

What do you do if you find your motivation lacking?

I’ve so far not found my motivation to lift to be a problem. However, there are often times when my motivation to get out of bed (in order to lift) can be low! I don’t have a magic formula in these instances, I just tell myself to get out of bed and get ready. To be honest, once I am out of bed and changed then I am ready to go, but leaving a cosy bed can sometimes be hard especially in the cold dark winter months!
 
 

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

I get up at 5am on my training days. I have to train in the morning because I know that when I get home from work all I want to do is sit on the sofa and relax! Finding the time for fitness isn’t so much an issue, but there can be times where blogging and updating my social media can take a lot of time. Whilst I enjoy it, I want to make sure I have a balance between that and spending time with my family. On Sundays my husband and I tend to go on a long walk with Cookie, out in the countryside. This gives us some down-time from everything and the space to just be out in nature and enjoy what’s around us.
 

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

1. Do your research – Whatever area of fitness you want to get into, look on Google for websites which may prove useful. I did this and found lots of great information about things such as the equipment I needed to buy and the sort of lifting programs which would be best suited to me.
2. Find other people who are interested in the same thing – I joined some forums and got chatting to other people. This really helped to motivate me to pursue what I wanted to do, and the other forum members were also able to give me great advice based on their experiences.
3. Don’t worry about what other people may think – I’ve had some unkind comments from so-called friends about me choosing to lift weights and it’s sad when people don’t appear to support your efforts to do something positive. There will always be people who don’t necessarily agree with, or support, your fitness journey. Don’t let those people deter you from what you are passionate about – surround yourself with like-minded people and go for it!
 

Anything else you want to share?

I’m a huge believer that women shouldn’t be afraid to lift heavy weights. There are so many myths out there, for example, that women will get bulky if they lift heavy. That’s just not true as we’re not physiologically able to get bulky due to our low levels of testosterone. Lifting weights can have many physical benefits, such as increasing bone density and minimizing the risks of osteoporosis later in life, and it’s certainly increased my self-confidence. Even if women don’t want to lift as their main source of fitness, I believe that incorporating some lifting into their fitness routine will bring them huge benefits.

 

Sara here again: Jo, thank you so much for joining me today and sharing your insights!
Guys, you should definitely go check out Jo and all that she does. She inspires me all the time and I’m sure she will do the same for you!

 

finding-fitness-jo-fallen-angel-fitnessJo is a trainee psychologist from the UK who likes to lift heavy weights and is training for her first powerlifting meet. Her blog merges her love of iron and her interest in the human mind by relating elements of psychology to different areas of fitness in order to help readers get the most out of their fitness journeys.
You can find more from Jo on her blog, InstagramFacebook, Twitter, and YouTube!
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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!

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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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