5 Simple Health Tips For All Of Us

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

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

Allison-Waking-Up-Thirty

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

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

Here are Five Simple Health Tips

1.) Sleep.

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

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

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2.) Drink water.

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

3.) Go outside.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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5.) Meditate.

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday Meal Prep March 12, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe adapted from this recipe from Damn Delicious

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healthy-weekly-meal-prep

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just the main dishes:

All the food from this week:

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

Finding Fitness: Allison from Waking Up Thirty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

What achievement are you the most proud of?

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

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

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

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

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

What does a typical training week look like?

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

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

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

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

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

What is your favorite exercise? Your least favorite?

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

What do you do if you find your motivation lacking?

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

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

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

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

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

Anything else you want to share?

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

Sunday Meal Prep March 5, 2017

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

Enjoy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the macros breakdown for this week!

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

Just the main dishes: 

All the food from this meal prep: 

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

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?

Sunday Meal Prep 2/12/17

Hey everyone! This week’s meal prep was a little different, in that I actually prepped for most of 2 weeks worth of food at the same time. I knew the following weekend I wasn’t going to have much time for meal prep, so I planned ahead! That is one of the things I love about meal prep…you can make it work for you and your schedule! So along with the dishes I’m sharing with you today, I also made extra cinnamon bread and 3 main dishes that all went into the freezer.

Next week I will show you the second week’s freezer prep and let you know how that worked out, so make sure to check back in then! As for this week’s meal prep, everything turned out delicious and I can’t wait to share these recipes with you. While two of these dishes are new to the blog, we actually tried them out a few weeks ago, right before I got sick, so I never actually got to eat them! Thankfully, Draz liked them so much that he was happy for me to make them again a few weeks later so I could try them too!

Enjoy!

Weekly meal prep can help you maintain your busy lifestyle and still eat healthy! Click through to check out this week's meal prep and get your own grocery list to get you started!

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This week’s snacks were delicious! I opted to keep with our regular snacks this week, so I made Sweet Potato Banana Bites, 5-Ingredient Banana Bread Muffins, and Cookie Dough Protein Balls. Along with that, I made 4 mason jar salads! For now, I will be cutting down on the salads I’m making each week. Draz has requested no more salads for him for a while, so it will just be mine 🙂

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On to the main dishes! I am loving this week’s meals and Draz did too. All of these will definitely be made again! I don’t know that either of us could pick a sole favorite. They were all delicious in their own way! This week’s main dishes were Slow Cooker Italian Red Pepper Chicken, Low-Carb Sausage and Roasted Peppers Mock Lasagna Casserole, and Low-Carb Deconstructed PizzaBoth of the low-carb dishes were from a site that is new to me called Kalyn’s Kitchen and I have to say, I will definitely be trying out more of her recipes!

Tracking macros? Here is how this week’s main dishes break down:

IIFYM-healthy-meal-prep

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

Have you tried any new recipes lately? Or tried prepping for later weeks using freezer recipes? I would love to hear about them, so please leave a comment below!

Sunday Meal Prep 2/5/17

Hey everyone! Have you been missing my weekly meal prep posts as much as I have missed doing them?! 🙂 I am so happy to be getting back to my normal schedule and a big part of that is being able to do meal prep again! This week’s prep is pretty small, but expect a really big one next week!

Enjoy!

Meal prep is my best tool to eating healthy the whole week! Come check out this week's meal prep and get your own free downloadable grocery list to get you started!

Things stayed pretty basic this week for our snacks and salads. I think I might try a new protein ball recipe soon though. This week’s included No Bake Maple Vanilla Latte Protein Bites and Cookie Dough Protein Balls Any suggestions?

One thing that didn’t stay the same: our containers! Just check out those pretty glass Pyrex containers! I finally gave in and upgraded our sad old collection and invested in some quality containers and I gotta say, I’m loving them!

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For our main dish this week, I decided to go with one of our recent favorites: Healthy Slow Cooker Roasted Red Pepper Chicken Chili. Pretty easy to get cooking, delicious and healthy, this recipe has quickly become my go-to! It turned out wonderful, as always.

weekly-food-prep-red-pepper-chicken-chili

And that is it for this week! This meal prep is perfect if you just want to spend a bit of time to make things a little easier on yourself the coming week.

What are you making for your meal prep this week? What is your favorite go-to recipe? I would love to hear about them, so drop an answer in the comments below!

January in Review, February Goals

Wow, what a start to the new year!! January was full of ups and downs, but I’m feeling pretty positive about what is to come! I promise that this coming week we will be back to normal here on the blog, with meal prep posts and everything.

January Review

Highlights:

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  • I did a full meal prep photo session! I can’t wait to show you all what I have planned for a lot of the pictures. They turned out great.
  • My jewelry shop is now set up to sell at 5 upcoming markets! It’s just a start, but a great one!
  • I launched a new series on here that I am super excited about. Sharing Sabrina’s story with you was wonderful and I think you are going to love the ones that are coming up!

Low Points:

  • I got sick with the flu and two ear infections for around half of the month. Needless to say, this made a lot of things I had planned pretty difficult. I’m getting better now, but my regular routine is still really off and I’m having a hard time getting back into things.
  • I strive to be honest on here, so I will share this with you all….I’ve been having a hard time this month with feeling pretty down about my jewelry business and the blog. I love them both, but neither are where I would like them to be. I’m not quitting, not by any means! But it’s been a rough month. Some of that is probably from being sick, but regardless, I’m having a difficult time feeling upbeat about my work lately.

January Goals:

Personal

  1. Spend a day taking down old decorations and putting up new. Put on some music and make it a fun and relaxing day!
  2. Have one “date day” with Draz
  3. Have one day where I spend at least 3 hours on self-care
  4. Go to yoga class once a week

I really did none of these, although up to getting sick I was doing great with the yoga class. And I suppose I spent a lot of time on self-care, but it wasn’t really by choice, so I don’t think that counts.

Blog

  1. Shoot new photos for a planned meal prep project
  2. Shoot photos for an upcoming fitness project

The photos for the meal prep project are done! The fitness shoot ones…nope. These aren’t even set yet, though I am hoping to do them this month.

Business

nymph-in-the-woods-jewelry

  1. Contact 2 bloggers about possible collaborations
  2. Make 10 new pieces of jewelry – This one is only if physically possible. My fingers are still healing from some lingering symptoms from when I was sick back in September.

I’m going to call this one a win! I did make 7 new pieces of jewelry and contacted 4 bloggers. 7 isn’t 10, but considering I was sick half of the month, I say it counts!

Overall, January didn’t go how I hoped it would, but all things considered, it didn’t go to bad. I have high hopes for February though! I have a lot of exciting events coming up this month, so I think it’s going to be great! Due to all of the stuff going on this month, I’m going to try to be a little more reserved in how many goals I set.

February Goals:

Personal

  1. Yoga once a week! This was the goal that I was the most disappointed about not being able to do last month, so that is being carried over.

Blog

  1. Contact 2-3 people about the big project I have in mind about design and implementation

Business

  1. Finish up 10+ new pieces before market on the 10th
  2. Get studio cleaned out for remodel

That’s it for this month! Hopefully this month goes better, with no horrible flu or anything!

How did January go for you? What are some of your goals for February? I would love to hear about them!

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.

why-runners-should-practice-yoga

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.

why-runners-should-practice-yoga

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!

Sunday Meal Prep 1/15/17

Hey everyone! I don’t know about you, but I think the New Year energy is still keeping me super motivated right now! The great thing about this week’s meal prep? It works perfectly for that! Pretty quick to make, budget friendly and fit pretty well within my macros too!

Enjoy!

Eat healthy all week with this quick and budget-friendly meal prep!

This week’s lunches and snacks were pretty basic! One thing that has been changing lately? The salad dressing I’m using! I am having a lot of fun trying out new ones right now, all from Bolthouse Farms. This week’s is a Carmelized Sweet Onion Yogurt Dressing and is delicious!

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The other thing I’m loving right now? These new 5-Ingredient Banana Bread Muffins! They are so tasty and fit pretty nicely as a treat for my macros, at least sometimes 🙂 Our other main treat for this week was my favorite Sweet Potato Banana Bites! They taste like a dessert, but are much healthier.

For our main dishes, I picked a household favorite and a new one this week! The household favorite: Thai Peanut Chicken! Draz was very happy about that and so was I. This is still one of our favorite meals and I love how easy it is to prepare too! The only changes I usually make to this recipe:

  • chow mein noodles instead of thin spaghetti
  • I use more cabbage. Usually around 4 cups instead of 2

thai-peanut-chicken-jalapeno-chicken-chili

For the new dish, I picked this Slow Cooker Paleo Jalapeno Popper Chicken Chili. Now, the recipe calls for a mixture of chicken and ground beef, along with sweet potato. I used all ground turkey and a russet potato. The potato part was fine. For the meat, I have to say that the original recipe probably had it right! This turned out ok, but probably not nearly as tasty as the original recipe would have. Sometimes that happens when you play around with recipes, trying to make them healthier! So for the grocery list this week, I have included the original recipe’s ingredients instead of my substitutions.

paleo-jalapeno-chicken-chili-thai-peanut-chicken

Want to follow along for your own meal prep? Download your grocery list for this week’s main dishes here:

Have you ever tried to substitute ingredients, only to realize that the original was probably better? Ever done it and made the recipe even better? I would love to hear about your experiences, so please leave a comment below!