Monday Motivation: Fitness Goals

Hi there! So now that we’ve recooperated from Christmas…(I wish.) It’s time to gear up for New Year’s. I’ve been thinking about my goals for the past month, and I’ve got some humdingers.Here are a few in no particular order.
1. Be more consistent with quiet time. I’ll confess I want spent more quality time with the Lord. This is my sanity, and in recent years, I’ve been a little slack.
2. This is going to sound completely different: do more cardio. (See, I said they weren’t in any particular order.) I’m not exactly known as a cardio junkie, but it’s good for my heart, and it will ramp up my weight lifting results a lot. Not going cardio crazy but 3x a week for 30-45 minutes is a nice place to start. I would lift weights until I pass out, I know I need to improve my cardiovascular health.
3. Do more upper body strength training. Ok, so I don’t mind working shoulders, and I know how…but biceps and triceps are not my favorite. So this year, I’m headed…to the gun show! Just kidding. But some major upper body strength gains would be nice. I’ll be bumping up my upper body workouts to 2x/week.
4. Traveling. So, I’ve been wanting to do some major traveling for years. Like trekking through Norway in snow shoes kind of traveling, and Norway is on my bucket list. The reason for this is that’s where a lot of my ancestors are from, and Micah’s always wanted to visit. We might not get to that this year, but the saving up for that trip will start now. We also want to go on an overseas mission trip together.
5. Going back to school. I’ll begin working on my nutrition and human dietetics degree in the fall. I’m super excited to be going back to school, and praying for the grace to do so. I plan to finish my degree in two semesters, so it’ll be crazy, but so worth it!

There’s some of my top 5 goals! What are your goals for 2014? I always break each goal down into baby steps, this makes it overwhelming, and lets me see how much closer I am to accomplishing a particular goal in a short amount of time. I have a few more, but shhhh! T

hey’re secrets. But I might write about them later…Write down your goals and create a vision board, so you’ll be reminded of what you want to accomplish.

Christmas Memories…Getting back into my routine, Digital Cameras, and a Stocking De-Stuffer Workout

Hi There,
So, it’s been a wonderful, fun, crazy week! My husband turned 30 on Monday, so between birthday/graduation festivities, and Christmas, it’s been nuts around here. It’s all good though. I was able to get some precious retail therapy yesterday, which resulted in new workout capris, a red dress, a green blouse, tights, a new belt, and….dah dah dah dah….Riding Boots!!! I’ve been wanting some for forever…Thanks Dad, Mom, and GeeGee! I did workout on Monday and today, but am soooo ready for some normalcy in my workout routine…and clean eating again, I missed clean eating greatly.
It was my first Christmas with my husband’s family, so I wasn’t sure what to expect this year, but everything turned out wonderful for the most part. There were a lot of memorable moments, but one of the most special for me was hearing my husband read the Christmas story from Luke chapter 2. His dad normally reads, but wanted to recognize Micah’s coming of age, and 30 was the birthday that Jewish young men came of age in Jesus’ time…How cool to have my father-in-law recognize Micah husband as the leader of his home… teary eyes…

Then on to Parties…oh-my-lanta…I don’t think my energy levels can hold up to 5 days of parties like this…it was fun, but I’m so glad I have 2 more days off before I go back to work. I definitely enjoyed playing board games with Micah’s siblings and cousins, you never know what will happen…by the way, if you’ve never played Imagine Iff, you need too.

I thought it was really cool that Micah’s sister asked my mom what traditions my side of the family has at Christmas time. We did stockings with his family this year, and his sisters have no idea how something simple like that made me feel more at home.

But my husband always does some epic Christmas present every year, well epic to me…something that for whatever reason, I’m too cheap to buy for myself, but he always knows what I want. Well, this year, he got me a Canon Powershot camera, so expect the quality of pics on this blog to drastically improve! Here’s a pic of the two of us from the scavenger hunt I used to lead him to his surprise birthday/college graduation party! Each “clue” was a special memory of the two of us, at various points in our lives that led up to this point.This pic was brought to you by …ahem….my new camera. 🙂

Well I came up with a “Stocking De-Stuffer Workout” so you can break a sweat without leaving the house if you’re still recovering from guests. Why wait ’til New Year’s? You can do this workout with your own body weight or add weights. Just perform one set of each exercise, and move on to the next set without stopping. You can do it! I know it’s tough to get back into a routine, but the extra effort it takes is worth it!

Remember to let patience have it’s perfect work! I’m cheering for you!
Merry Christmas!

Workout Wednesday: Butts and Guts

I’m so excited!!! Today marks my first post as a Sweat Pink ambassador, and as part of the group Fitness Media in Motion, and I’m proud to be a part of both. It’s humbling and a tremendous blessing to be affiliated with such prestigious names.

I’m so excited to present this workout to you today! I’ve been experimenting with the pre-exhausting technique: working a muscle that usually takes over first in an exercise so that you can grow weaker muscles. For example, I used quad extensions in this workout, because they usually get the most activation instead of glutes and hammies when I squat. I tend to have stronger quads anyway, well I tell you, this technique works. In the past 2 weeks, I can already tell a difference in my hamstrings. This workout is home-friendly and gym-friendly, so you could really do this anywhere. This workout went by quickly and will scorch your lower abs and glutes in about 30 minutes!

Seated Leg Extensions: Sit in a chair with a resistance band tied around your ankles. Work one side at a time, straightening your right leg and contracting the quads in the front of the leg. Slowly return leg to start position. Repeat for repetitions, then change legs. If you’re in a gym, use their leg extension machine. This is your pre-exhaust exercise.

Walking Lunge to 1-leg Dead Lift: (This is an advanced move. If you’re a first-timer, try just walking lunges, then add deadlifts when you perfect your form.)Step your R foot forward in a lunge. Keeping weight in the right heel, bring L foot forward to meet R. Hinge at the hips, and bend so back is parallel with the floor. Slowly return to standing. This is a challenge, so don’t rush.

Side Skaters: Use a marker to create a boundary to hop over, such as a band or jump rope. Standing on the L side, hope over to the R and lift L leg. Keeping abs in and R knee slightly bent. Repeat, alternating sides. Do this move for 20 seconds!

Hip Thrust: Sitting on the ground with shoulders against a bench (or the couch) with legs straight on the ground, press into your heels, bending knees and lifting hips off the floor. Your shoulders, not neck should be pressing into the bench. Squeeze glutes at the top, then lower, and repeat. This is an advanced move, so if you’re unsure, do glute bridges.

Pop Squats: With knees slightly bent, jump out into a squat, and slowly descend. Jump feet together, and sink back into a squat. Repeat. Modification: walk feet out while staying at least halfway into the squat, then walk feet in.

Reverse Crunches: Lie on your back, feet on the floor. Zip up your abs, and use them, not momentum to bring your knees to your chest, with a lift at the top.

Walking Planks: Get into a plank on the hands, and “walk” hands and feet to the R for 5 steps, then to the L for 5 steps.

Motivational Monday – Goal Setting and Top 5 Fitness Gifts!

Well, after a busy weekend, my husband, Micah, just graduated from college – I’m gearing up for an even busier week next week. Oh my whoa, it’s been crazy around here, and all I want to do 24-7 is sleep…that’s right, I, who always have energy, could sleep through the holidays right now. So here’s how I’ve been managing to swing staying inspired to keep getting my fitness and healthy eating on because I don’t believe in New Years’ Resolutions…you can commit to better habits any time of the year. New Year’s just makes it a more momentous occasion…

1. Get a workout buddy…someone who doesn’t “talk junk”, but someone who won’t beat around the bush. If you need to write out a contract for each other on paper. You are less likely to fudge if it’s official. For example, I’m forgoing chips this month, this is because it is a trigger food for me, meaning I could eat tortilla chips by themselves…by the bagful.

2. Keep a workout and food journal. The workout section of this is great, and let me explain why... I have a minor in strength and conditioning…rule numero uno…write out your goals, then your plan to get to those goals…you need to have an idea of what you’re going to workout in advance, on what day, etc., then write down which exercises you need. FOOD journal…this is important for me…I come from a long line of compulsive eaters, so this helps me keep on track, making sure I have sufficient protein, fiber, fats, etc. to keep my body fueled. My weakness is salty carbs, aka chips, and when I see it all on paper, the portion sizes are put into perspective for me.

3. I cannot say it enough….take time to destress… the world is full of people who are losing perspective and caught up in the materialization of it all. I call this the “Martha” complex. If you try to make your house and your family “perfect” for your guests, you are doing yourself and your loved ones a disservice. I’ve been in picture perfect surroundings, where I was miserable because of all the drama and stress going on…it’s not worth it. This season is about what’s going on on the inside, not the outside. 

4. Get rid of the self sabotage…I’m sick of this so-called fit-spo on pinterest and tumblr and instagram…God gave you the body you have for a reason, so stop trying to be an anorexic teenage girl who’s been photoshopped…GET OVER IT. You should be the healthiest you possible, not someone else. If you’re 32  with curves, stop trying to be a skinny 15-year old…granted, you can be an in killer shape 32 year old, but you will not be that 15-year old…rock YOUR healthy. Take it from a former anorexic. “You are fearfully and wonderfully made…”

Now to the less serious part of my post…a Christmas Wish List. You could get this for any person on your list and they would love these fit gift ideas:

1. A workout journal: with all the free printables out there, you could even custom build one for your friend, spouse, whoever.

2. A blender bottle: you honestly can’t have enough of these…

3. Resistance Bands or loops: you can’t have enough of these either….

4. A Gymboss timer: tabata workouts are all the rage this year and will be in 2014

5. A foam roller…for all the DOMS that will ensue from use of the resistance bands. 

 Remember, this time of year is for reflection; don’t forget the Reason for the Season!

Fit Foods That Make Awesome Appetizers

During Christmas, I’m always looking for delicious ways to fix healthy foods….If you’re new to a healthier lifestyle, this may be a particularly challenging time if you’re hosting parties, or even taking food to parties. Well, this week, I wanted to give you some simple and delicious options for appetizers, and dips.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts: If you had asked me if I would eat this veggie years ago, I would have said, “No Way!” But this veggie is amazing. I like to roast them in the oven, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt and cracked pepper and topped with parmesan cheese…Amazing. Oh and I love to dip these wonderful greens in hummus. Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Iron

Roasted Cauliflower: I use a bag of frozen cauliflower and roast at 375 Fahrenheit. I use the olive oil, salt, pepper, and mozzerella cheese for this one…my personal favorite. Vitamin C

Roasted Chickpeas: These are great with chili powder, and a salt-free seasoning. They’re crunchy and will satiate your guests until the main course is ready to serve. Protein, Fiber

Almonds and Dark Chocolate Chips: Every gathering needs something sweet. This treat is sweet, but not too sweet. I love to place these in a pretty bowl. They look so elegant. Protein, Fiber,

Greek Yogurt Peanut Butter Dip: Just mix equal parts of greek yogurt and peanut butter together in a bowl. This is amazing with sliced apples and bananas. Protein, Calcium

Hummus: You can buy store bought or make your own. I love this spread on pretty much everything. Vitamin E, Protein

These are just a few of my favorite foods, to serve at any party! The prep work is easy and they’re low budget foods that won’t break the bank. Our family loves trying new foods, and I discovered  these foods last year, and I’m sure that even your pickiest guest will enjoy at least one of the appetizers on this list!

Tabata: Abs and Cardio

Yay! The week is halfway over, and I’m so relieved…This week has been crazy, and I’m typing this super quickly right now….I’ve been working out in the gym again, but am still doing tabata 3 or 4 times a week, because my schedule’s so hectic, but it’s getting the job done beautifully!
And because my schedule’s so crazy, this is the end of the post. TTFN!

Here’s my tutorial:
Squat + Knee Lift: Squat down, knees and toes in same direction, and as you stand up, lift one knee towards your chest, repeat, alternating sides.
Reverse Crunch: Lie on your back, feet on the floor. Zip up your abs, and use them, not momentum to bring your knees to your chest, with a lift at the top.
Plank: keep your abs zipped up, and not sagging towards the ground.
Bird Dog: On hands and knees, with abs zipped, lift the opposite arm and leg to parallel then lower.
Split Squat + Twist: With one foot in front and on foot behind, Lower down towards the floor, keeping the weight in the front foot. Twist towards the outside of the front leg. Stand, pressing your weight into the front heel.
Side Plank + Tunnels: Get into a side plank on your elbow, keeping everything from your head to your heels in line. Keeping your side lifted, reach under your side with your top arm  and repeat.

5 Ways to Keep Your Holidays Healthy, yet Sane

Ok, by now, I’m sure your family get-togethers have been planned and you’re probably already planning the menu for guests, and maybe even starting to do some serious house cleaning. This Christmas has been one of the most hectic I’ve had in years…and planning parties and going to them can be more stress than it’s worth, sometimes. Since my husband and I both have family in the town where we live, this means sheer chaos. Fortunately, I’ve applied the below tips, and they’ve saved me so much stress this season!

1. Don’t be afraid to say “No”. It’s ok to not go to great aunt Geraldine’s get-together every year. If you absolutely have to go. It’s also ok to ask if you can just “drop-in” at get-togethers. This is a time for peace on earth, goodwill toward men, and it shouldn’t leave you wanting to rip your hair….or anyone else’s for that matter, out. If you need to, write a list of your top events. When it’s written down, you’re more likely to stick to it.

2. Don’t get caught up in commercialization. I’m crafty, but there are gift ideas for even the most “uncrafty” of us. I like being creative, and it helps calm my stress levels way down. I like to listen to audiobooks, or even my favorite music while I crochet. Currently, I’m listening to C.S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet. To be honest, sometimes holiday shoppers are rude, and that just makes me cranky to see people being so selfish when there are plenty around the world who have nothing, so we like the low maintenance approach. Even if it means ordering online, don’t get caught up in the frenzy.

3. Keep some sort of fitness and food regime. Maintaining this order at home can keep you from going bananas! I have lots of short workouts on here! Just because you won’t make it to the squat rack today does not mean that training has to go out the window! Break it up into 10 min. in the morning and 10 minutes at night. Make a goal to drink water at home, and eat 3 servings of veggies a day if nothing else. Make it doable, and know that your body will thank you for it later…and so will your sanity.

4. Have a low maintenance family day. Put on a movie, a pot of wassail, and some chili, and just talk. Get caught up. This is a time for family, not to-do lists. If you’re saying, “but I can’t”, this means you’re too busy.

5. Bless someone else. I love all the “acts of kindness” challenges going on this month. It doesn’t have to be big, even just taking some food to a neighbor whose lost their job, will really bless someone, and take your mind off of your own problems! I mean really, can goods cost about seventy cents…There are plenty of ways you can help by donating time or resources this year.

I know from Thanksgiving to New Years’ things seem to get crazy, but I promise, if you write out a simple plan and stick to it. You and your loved ones will reap the benefits.

Remember the Reason for the Season!

A Chili Recipe for Chilly Evenings Ahead

Hi There,
I’ve been experiencing internet difficulties, so this is why I’m posting this recipe so late today. Are you looking for an easy, yet satisfying crockpot meal for all your get-togethers, and those crazy weeknights? Never fear my white bean chicken chili is hear, and my family tells me it’s quite scrumptious, and super easy to make.

White Bean Chicken Chili
4 cans great northern beans
1-7 oz can of chopped green chiles
1 yellow onion, sliced and sauted
1 Tbsp. canola oil
2 chicken breasts, cubed and browned
1 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1 c. water

Cube chicken and add onions just before chicken is cooked through. Do this on medium-low heat so as not to overcook the chicken. Add all ingredients to a large crock pot and stir. Cook on medium for 3 hours. Enjoy!

Micah loves this meal, and this chili even pleases the most finicky eaters in our family! This is a great meal after a long run or a grueling workout class!

Wednesday Workout: A Fast and Serious workout

Happy Hump Day!!!
It’s been tough getting back into routine, more so workout-wise than eating-wise. Lately, I’ve been getting my arts and crafts on. Due to a tight budget, a lot of our Christmas gifts will be handmade this year, since I’m very artsy; we know a lot of people doing this as well this year. Unfortunately, this can be time consuming. Here’s where this workout comes in. It’s a 12-minute workout that will have your muscles screaming and heart pounding. It also involves  3 tabatas. You can make this an all body weight workout or add resistance to the squats and bridges. Let me tell you guys a secret, I gain weight in my lower body, but this format has gotten my legs back in shape quickly. Like 4 weeks quickly. So give it a try and let me know what you think!

Single-leg Burpees: (you may use regular burpees if too difficult.) Instead of hopping both feet back. Lift one foot off the floor and hop the other foot back. Be sure to keep your back straight and not rounded as you return to standing.
Bridges: Lie face-up, feet flat on the floor. Put your weight into your heels and lift your hips. Make sure your abs are tight and squeeze the glutes before lifting your hips off the floor. You should not feel this in your lower back. Want a challenge? Try single-leg bridges.
Squats: (Beginners, sit a chair behind you.) Feet shoulder-width apart. Sit back with your chest and shoulders lifted. Lower as close to parallel as possible.
Side Hip Lift + Kick: Get on one side with bottom knew bent and top knee bent. Prop up on elbow. Make sure you are in line from your head to your bottom knee, then lift your bottom hip off the floor. While hips are lifted, kick top leg in a straight line with the rest of the body. Lower and complete reps on one side.
Jump Rope: Keep knees slightly bent while jumping or shuffling. Use a fake rope if needed…hehe
Plank: Keep hips from sagging as you lift up on to your elbows. Keep weight in the heels. Don’t let your hips sag and don’t forget to breathe.
This workout will not only work your glutes and legs, but your shoulders and abs as well.
Let me know if you have questions!

Monday Motivation: Balance and Moderation

How many of us ate until we were stuffed and enjoyed every minute of it? I did!!!! Yes, my husband eat clean at home, but we enjoy splurging at family gatherings. With the holidays advancing, I’d love to approach this often controversial topic: balance and moderation. We here these terms used in vague and generic ways in the fitness industry, but I’d like to discuss this in no uncertain terms.

How much is moderation? Well, for some of us it is a lot less than we think it is. For example, we had 2 thanksgiving feasts in one day. My dad has to be careful with certain foods because of inflammation issues, so we cooked pretty healthy for lunch. I made a g-free, almond-crusted sweet potato casserole, and healthier green bean casserole, but we still ate traditional stuffing with the turkey….you see, we knew our limits. None of us wanted to feel wretched later either. haha….The food was good, and we enjoyed some of our favorite foods without overdoing it. I even had a slice of  pecan pie. (gasp).

Micah’s family is much more diverse, they oftentimes have up to 3 types of stuffing, a salad, and several casseroles, and several turkeys….yes, I said several turkeys, there’s a lot of Aulers, Coulters, and Williamses when you throw us all together. I didn’t pig out on everything, but I definitely enjoyed a variety. This brings me to my point. There are many people out there that think that moderation is avoiding everything….really??? This accomplishes nothing. You get so wrapped up in what you’re eating that you can’t enjoy any of the festivities. Does it mean trying everything, no, you don’t have to try everything. Moderation is using self-control, and knowing where your limits lie, and purposing in your mind that you will be back to your healthy eating habits the next day.

Some healthier options for getting rid of those leftovers include: fixing a fresh salad to go with turkey, making a turkey chili, drinking water with your leftovers instead of sodas. There are lots of options. Micah and I have made healthy food choices a lifestyle, so getting back to our regular routine wasn’t a stretch. It’s not about crash dieting, it’s about healthy habits.