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+.

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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!

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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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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!
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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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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 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!

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“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.

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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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5 Reasons Runners Should Practice Yoga – Sabrina from Love, Run, Yoga

Hey everyone! I am so happy to welcome Sabrina back to the blog! If you didn’t catch my interview with her on her fitness journey 2 weeks ago, you can check it out here! Today, she is going to be sharing with us 5 reasons why she thinks that all runners should practice yoga. And as someone who has ran 17 races since starting running in June 2015, I think she would know! Enjoy!

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Having worked for almost a decade for the YMCA, I’ve dabbled in my fair share of yoga classes. I would even incorporate age appropriate yoga poses into my preschool curriculum, but I never truly appreciated the benefits of it until I started running.

When I started training for my first half marathon, I would practice yoga on the days I didn’t run. It was more than just stretching for me – it taught me to appreciate my body and, most importantly, to listen to it – something that as runners we don’t always do.

So, without further ado, here are 5 reasons why I think all runners should practice yoga.

Improves Flexibility

This one seems like a no-brainer to me.  Isn’t this the whole point of yoga?  As a beginner, you can barely hold any of the poses but over time you are all pretzeled up like a true yogi, right?  Why do runners need to be flexible?  To begin with increased flexibility reduces the risk of injury.  It also helps improve posture and increases blood flow to your muscles.

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Protection from Injury

According to Ashlee Willaman, a certified running coach and yoga teacher, “”Yoga does a great job of pointing out imbalances that can indicate injury is not far away.” Yoga can help a runner identify issues such as muscle imbalance.  Overuse of one muscle, and subsequently underuse of a complimentary muscle, can lead to overcompensation which opens the door for injury.  Yoga addresses all muscle groups which allows a runner to tune-in to their body to see what changes need to be made.  While a runner may complain of knee pain at the start of a yoga class, by the end she had learned the pain actually stems from the hip.  Certain poses can then be done before a run to open up the hips and reduce the risk of injury.  Learn how to identify pain and then work to fix and reduce it.  Don’t push yourself through it!

Improves Balance

The practice of yoga increases proprioception (the ability to feel what your body is doing and where it is in space) and improves balance.  For runners, better balance means fewer falls (oh, it does happen).  It also means less knee and back pain.

Boosts Your Immune System

Contracting and stretching muscles drains your lymphs (a colorless fluid containing white blood cells, that bathes the tissues and drains through the lymphatic system into the bloodstream). Regularly doing this helps the lymphatic system fight infection and destroy cancer cells.  Who doesn’t want to do that to their body?  And if you are a runner training for a big race, you can’t afford to get sick!

 

Relieves Stress

This one is near and dear to my anxiety-ridden heart.  The breathing techniques taught in yoga teaches your body to slow down and relax.  It lowers your breathing and heart rate and lowers your blood pressure too.  It also lowers your cortisol levels which helps anyone suffering from adrenal fatigue (the reason why I wake up at 2 AM wide awake and ready to party).  Your body releases cortisol when it senses an acute crisis.  When cortisol levels remain high, it can compromise your immune system and over time lead to brain damage.  Stress is dangerous – do yoga.

There you have it – my top 5 reasons for why runners should practice yoga.  What do you think?  Are you ready to try?  Remember, you don’t have to go crazy when first starting off.  As a busy working out of the home mom, I rely on DVD’s for my yoga practice.  If you are not ready to commit to that then just incorporating a few poses such as “Pigeon Pose” (see picture) after a run will help your body.

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Further Reading:

Why Runners Should Do Yoga

Yoga for Flexibility

38 Health Benefits of Yoga

 

13394135_285492808462874_7750457502689943236_nSabrina is a wife, mom and avid runner. Since starting running in June 2015, she has run 17 races! To learn more about her and check out all of the wonderful things she posts, check out her blog Run, Love, Yoga!

To follow Sabrina on her social media, here are her Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest!

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turning fitness into a habit

Can you believe it’s November already!? The year seems to have flown by! And as the year is coming to close, many people will start thinking about how 2016 went and how they want 2017 to go. For many, this process usually includes declarations of “I’m going to eat healthier, work out more!” and so on. Fitness is one of the most common things that people think of when setting their annual goals. But sadly many of those same people won’t make it past the one month mark. Why is that?

Well, a lot of it comes down to habit. Too many people depend on motivation to get them to their goals, which is simply not enough. Motivation is great for the first week or even the first month! But eventually motivation dissipates and the goals that seemed so important suddenly don’t rank so high on the to-do list. So how do we change this and go from depending on motivation to creating a habit? This is a question I have struggled with myself.

I’ve had many starts and stops when it comes to my fitness journey. I can look back 10+ years and see different points where I tried to include fitness into my life more, but it never lasted. I would lose motivation or hit a roadblock and I would give up. I tried obsessive calorie-counting, programs at gyms that made big promises, and many other things. And most of them probably would have worked! Except the obsessive calorie-counting…that one was terrible. The problem was I didn’t know how to turn fitness into a habit and so I was never able to keep it up.

Fast forward to 3 years ago. I had lost a decent amount of weight already through some lifestyle changes and a highly physical job and was feeling pretty good! But I knew I wanted to make a bigger change and put more focus on my health and my fitness. So I started trying to work out more. There were some more start and stops, but there was less time between them.

And finally to last year. I started getting more consistent and even started a great program! If you were with me back then, you know that my attempts at Kayla Itsines’ BBG didn’t go smoothly and there were a lot of obstacles! But I did finally complete it and the community around BBG really helped me to make fitness into a habit!

And now? I am at the gym 5-6 days a week, I am active outside of the gym and I do a few workouts at home too! Are there are days I don’t really want to work out? Of course! But most of them I do anyways and I always feel better afterwards!

Working out has become a habit in my life and I know it can in yours too! These 5 methods helped me make the transition from depending on motivation for my workouts to having a steady fitness habit!

To succeed in your fitness journey you need more than motivation...fitness needs to be a habit! These 5 tips can help you build that habit and succeed at your fitness goals!

5 Things that Can Help You Turn Fitness Into a Habit

Schedule your workouts

Just like any other appointment, you need to make appointments with yourself. Write down when you are going to exercise and what you are going to do. At the beginning of each week I sit down and write out my schedule for the week, including my workouts!

Find something you enjoy

Don’t like walking on the treadmill? So don’t! Especially at the beginning of your fitness journey, finding things you enjoy is so important. There are so many activities out there that will improve your fitness, so try some out! Take a kickboxing class, go hiking, try out a climbing wall! There are even groups in many cities that you can join that are centered around fitness. If you aren’t sure what you want to try (and you have the budget for it) you can join a gym that has a variety of classes and try them out! I recently joined the YMCA and have been loving the classes available, especially kickboxing!

Find your “why”

Now, I understand that finding your “why” might sound a little silly, but it works! Knowing your reason or reasons for wanting to work out. Really give this one some thought and preferably find a “why” that is long term. If you goal is to look great in that dress for an upcoming event, you may have a hard time keeping your focus after the event is over!

Find other like-minded individuals

This can either be on-line or in person (I do both!) but having a community is so helpful. There are many challenges that can come with changing your lifestyle and making fitness a priority. Having others to turn to and find support from can be the difference between pushing through them and giving up, especially at the beginning! Also, it’s just a lot of fun!

Look for the small victories

It can be disappointing when you are starting to work out and you don’t see a huge change right away. It can feel like all your hard work isn’t paying off and can really kill that motivation that got you started. Instead, look for the small victories! Did 5 push-ups last week? Maybe this week you can do a few more! Maybe you can lift something that last month you wouldn’t have been able to. Or you are sleeping better and having more energy. Paying attention to those smaller things can really help you push through the difficult moments and be reminders as to why you keep going!

Have you turned your fitness practice into a habit? What techniques have helped you do it? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below!

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100 lbs lost: my fitness journey and what I’ve learned in the past year

A year ago I posted some about my fitness journey to that point and a bit about my background. I had already lost quite a bit of weight, but I hadn’t really fallen in love with fitness at the point. I exercised in spurts and wanted to get more into it, but I really didn’t enjoy it. And I didn’t honestly think I ever would. I still had a lot to learn when I wrote that post….both about fitness as a lifestyle, and about myself (I still have a lot to learn about fitness!) I could have never anticipated how the year since that post was going to go!

This year has definitely had it’s ups and downs. I finished a 12-week round of Kayla Itsines’ BBG! I also ended up in the ER twice (one of them fitness-related) and in physical therapy as well…3 injuries in as many months. I had months of working out regularly and MONTHS of not being able to do much at all.

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Through all of it, one thing was clear: I love a fitness-based lifestyle. Even when it sucks, even when I don’t really want to work out….I love it.

I never really imagined loving working out. If you had told me at 25 that I would ever love working out I wouldn’t have believed you. The only exercise I had ever enjoyed as an adult was martial arts, but I didn’t even stick with that for very long. So the fact that I enjoy a lot of different exercises, that I want to try even more, seems crazy! But it’s true. And I’ve learned a lot through this fitness journey, especially over the past year!

lessons-learned-fitness-journeyRead More

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sunday meal prep 7/10/16

Hey everyone! I hope you all had a lovely weekend! We have some storms going on here right now, but otherwise it has been a good weekend 🙂 I’ve been having some slight back issues again, so I’ve taken a couple extra rest days this week. If I take care of it early on, hopefully I will be back to full workouts this coming week! But enough about my week….now it’s time to talk about all the tasty food for this week’s meal prep!

Enjoy!

How to spend a few hours cooking on the weekend and have more time for the things you love!Read More

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links I love 6/24/16

Happy Friday everyone! Did you have a fantastic week? Any exciting plans for the weekend? I know that I had a MUCH better week this week than last week…not being sick can do that 🙂 After spending 4 days pretty much sleeping and laying around, it feels so good to be up and active again! Plus I have been getting a bunch of things sorted out here for the blog and for the upcoming Etsy store (we are talking in the next week or so people! Just finishing up the last few details.) so I am pretty happy overall. And right now, I’m happy to be sharing the links I love this week with you!

Enjoy!

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My favorite pic of the week! I am so in love with how this new pendant turned out!

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