Happy 2017!

2016 was a year of crazy politics, a few big changes for us as a family, and unfortunately, a year of sadness.  We lost two close friends.  They both died too young, leaving those of us who loved them behind to try to move on through life without them.

Needless to say, I was ready for the new year.  I know that time marches on and January 1st is just another day, but it does always feel like a new slate and new beginning to me.

So far, 2017 has been fun.  For starters, our beautiful Katie Bug has turned 15!

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I do not understand how this has happened.  Because, for real, she looked like this yesterday, right?

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We had an awesome game night to celebrate her special day and then a family dinner out at her favorite italian restaurant.  I realize that she will soon be driving, but in a pretend sort of way.  I’m not really letting that in on the radar yet.  Because, as I said, she should still look like this…

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Brian was able to enjoy 11 whole days off over the holidays.  He had been working 7 days a week, 12 hours a day for a VERY LONG time and we had thought he might have to work through the holidays, but it turned out that he was able to be off and thank goodness for that because he needed a break.  We really enjoyed all the down time at home with just the 4 of us.  So thankful for his job and the security it brings, but it’s nice to be able to have a break once in a while.

I try not to set resolutions anymore because honestly, mine are always the same.  Be healthy.  Be happy.  So, it’s really more of a regrouping and refocusing for me.  With that being said, 2017 is going to be the year that I finally attempt Intermittent Fasting.

Say whaaaaa????

Yep, intermittent fasting.  It kind of goes against everything you’ve ever been taught about eating, so you may think I’ve lost my mind here, but bear with me.

What is intermittent fasting, you ask?  Well, to put it most simply, it is just fasting for a certain time period every day.  There are couple of different ways you can approach it, but I’ll just talk about the way I’ll be doing it.

Basically, I have a time window from noon to 8 PM that I can eat.  Nothing after 8:00 and nothing until noon the next day.  Pretty simple, right?  But now you’re wondering why I would do that when I’ve been preaching for the last 4 years about eating within an hour of waking!!!

Well, I kept seeing posts on Instagram from some of the fitness accounts I follow talking about Intermittent Fasting.  I ignored it mostly at first because…well….the whole “fasting” part sounded awful.  Then I started getting more intrigued, but didn’t really have time to fully investigate, so I just kind of read things here and there and kept it tucked away in the back of my mind.  I didn’t really want to jump into it without doing my research first.

Now that I’ve had time to research it, I’ve decided to give it a fair try.  And if you’re wondering why I would want to subscribe to this seemingly crazy method, well, I have two pretty simple reasons.

First, it is going to majorly simplify my life.  If you are a meal planner, you know how agonizing it can be to sit there in front of a blank piece of paper and come up with 3 meals a day plus snacks that are quick, healthy, and that you are not sick to death of eating.  Especially on days when I’m not feeling particularly creative or when I have a million other things on my mind.  I just sit there and stare at my blank meal plan while the seconds tick by and everything else I need to be doing gets left behind.  With intermittent fasting, breakfast is eliminated.  In the morning, instead of getting up and immediately fixing myself something to eat, I just fix a cup of coffee (yeah, coffee is allowed.  Black coffee.  My fave).  I then can do my morning chores, get the girls up for school, start a load of laundry, do my daily devotion, my workout, etc.

The second reason I’m giving IF a try is that working out on an empty stomach, in simplest terms, will burn fat that is already stored in my body instead of burning off the nutrients that I consumed at breakfast.  I’m not really changing what I eat but only WHEN I eat.  Obviously by cutting out a meal, I will be consuming less calories, but it’s not a matter of restricting this or that.  It’s just:  You don’t eat until this time.  And you stop after this time.  Way easier than dieting, in my opinion.

Are you worried about being hungry or feeling too sluggish to get through a workout on an empty stomach?  I was too.  The first two days, it did feel weird, I’m not gonna lie.  I have been a faithful breakfast eater for years.  I’m not a night eater, so not eating after 8:00 isn’t hard.  But I always eat first thing upon waking, so that has been odd.  But today was my 3rd day and I actually felt awesome this morning.  I think like anything else, it’s just an adjustment that you have to make.

So, that’s the biggest change I am trying to make in 2017.  And it’s really more of an experiment a this point.  I want to see what it does or doesn’t do for me and how it makes me feel/affects fat loss.  In the initial stage so far, I am just loving the fact that I don’t have to plan out as many meals.  It’s kind of pathetic how excited I am about that part of it, actually.

Today was chest and triceps workout.  I did 3 sets of 12 of the following:

Bench Press
Chest Fly
Push Ups
Overhead DB TricepsRaises
Skull Crushers
Triceps Kickbacks

I also walked my dog 30 minutes and tonight I’m going to do some yoga.  Yoga is something I’ve done sporadically over the years.  I know how important flexibility is as we age and after talking with Katie’s physical therapist a few months ago, he really convinced me that I need to incorporate it more on a regular basis, so that’s going to be another area of focus for me.

Oh and I can’t forget this simple yet tasty recipe I wanted to share today.  I love roasted vegetables in the winter.  Well all year, actually, but especially in the winter.  I know this picture isn’t the best but I was too lazy to try to make it look better.  Forgive.

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Just take 12 carrots, scrub em. I don’t even peel them, just wash them and scrub them well.  Cut ends off, then cut in half, then in half lengthwise.  In large ziplock baggie, put 1/4 C olive, carrots, salt, pepper and some thyme or other seasonings to your liking.  Roast on 400 for about 30-40 minutes.  I served them tonight with a chicken and broccoli casserole.  That’s it!  Easy and delish!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and wish you health and happiness in 2017!

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Lower Body Workout

Today I want to share my current lower body workout with you.  I love this because it requires minimal equipment (dumbbells and a stability ball, and a bench or chair pushed up against the wall), but still gives you a killer workout that will leave you exhausted.

For each exercise, you will do 3 sets of 12 reps.  Rest one minute between each set.

I normally take my dog for a brisk walk as my warmup, but today the roads are covered in ice and I am not known for my gracefulness and balance, so I settled for some burpees in my garage and just some general running around and being stupid because it was cold out there as my warm up today haha.

Here’s how the workout looks:

3 sets of 12 for each

Goblet Squats
Hold weight against your chest, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width (if you’re tall, go a little wider), toes pointed slightly outward, sit back and down between your knees, keeping the weight and your chest upright, feet flat on the floor – if you start to fall forward, widen your stance.  And keep your knees pointed out!  Then push back up to beginning position and repeat!

Lunges
Stand up straight with slight bend in knees, hold dumbbells at sides, step forward and squat down.  Keep head up and don’t allow your knees to push out past your toes, then push off and return to starting position.  Repeat with other leg.
Step Ups
Hold dumbbells at your side while standing in front of a flat bench or chair (make sure chair is pushed up against a wall so it doesn’t move around). Step onto bench with left foot, push up through your heel to lift yourself up, pause, then lower down to starting position.  Repeat for 12 reps then switch to right side.
Bulgarian Split Squats
Choose light to no weight for this exercise if you’ve never done it before.  Your balance will be tested.  You can add weight as you progress.  Stand about 2 to 3 feet in front of a flat bench or some or chair pushed up against a wall.  Face away from the bench with dumbbells at your sides.  Extend one leg behind you and place your foot on the bench.  Lower your body by bending the other knee.  Don’t lean forward, drop straight down until thigh is parallel with floor, then push through your heel to raise back to starting position, without locking your knee out.  Repeat.
Stiff-Leg Dead lifts (my favorite dead lift variation!)
Stand up straight with a slight bend in your knees and your feet around shoulder width apart holding dumbbells in front of you, resting on your thighs. Keep your back as straight as possible and bend over at the waist lowering the dumbbells over the tops of you feet, keeping your knees stationary. Lower the dumbbells until you feel a nice stretch in your hamstrings.  Using your hamstrings,begin to raise the dumbbells straight back up. Your eyes should be facing up and your shoulders back. This will prevent your lower back from rounding. Squeeze up through the glutes and hamstrings until you’re standing straight up.
Triple Threats
(I’m linking to a nice Youtube demo here because I feel like I have a hard time typing this out in a way that is going to make any sense haha.)  Please take a moment to watch because this one is a killer and definitely a major player in this workout! Check it out here:  Triple Threat

 

 

How to Stay Motivated

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I don’t care who you are, every single one of us, at one time or another, will face burnout.  It happens to even the most dedicated fitness-minded people.

Today I’m going to share a few tips for overcoming that feeling of wanting to throw in the towel.  There are several reasons we begin to feel this way.  Sometimes it’s because we are overzealous in the beginning.  We throw everything we’ve got into our new fitness lifestyle, leave no room for error, make no mistakes, only to find after 2 weeks that we’ve been burning the candle at both ends and hit the wall hard.  Other times it can be things like lack of sufficient sleep.  That’s a big one and probably the hardest to master.  When we don’t get enough rest, our bodies and minds are fatigued.  You can feel lethargic, zapped of energy, and the will to pursue healthy habits is all but nonexistent.

So, here we go with a few ways to fight these feelings off.

  •  CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE
    If you’re feeling like exercise and fueling your body nutritiously is more of a chore than a privilege, then take a time out and think about WHY you want to do those things.  For me personally, it is all about how I feel.  When I exercise and eat right, I feel about a thousand times better than when I don’t.  Both physically and mentally.  And it’s not by accident, when you exercise, your body releases endorphins that literally relieve stress and enhance feelings of pleasure.  When I really start to feel overwhelmed with trying to be diligent with eating and exercise, I remind myself that the time that I spend taking care of myself is time well spent.  It’s my “me time” and it’s literally the best thing I can do not only for myself, but also for the family that I take care of every day.

 

  • BUY SOME NEW WORKOUT GEAR
    Ok, I know this sounds somewhat silly.  It shouldn’t matter what you’re wearing, but when I get some new workout clothes, I am definitely more motivated to put them to use!  My family bought me some cute yoga pants and a tank top for my birthday this year and I couldn’t wait to put them on and go work out!  Sometimes you just need a little change of scenery.  I tend to wear old tees with the sleeves cut out of them as my usual workout attire, but I do love a cute new piece now and then.  Try it, it works!

 

  • FOCUS ON THE MUSCLE GROUPS YOU ARE WORKING WHEN YOU’RE IN THE MOMENT
    This is a big one!  I have a bad habit of letting my mind wander when I’m working out.  I workout in my garage, so there is literally nothing interesting going on for me to look at.  I tend to think about all the things I need to get done when I’m finished with my workout.  This leads to me being distracted and not giving my best effort.  If I really focus on the particular muscle I’m working, for example, my trapezius muscles when doing pullups or biceps when doing curls, I am much more likely to give 100%.  It seems little, but it’s pretty significant when it comes to getting the most out of your workout.

 

  • STOP FEELING GUILTY
    We all have moments of weakness.  We all skip workouts.  We all fall off the healthy food wagon now and then.  That’s a FACT.  Everyone does it.  So, if everyone does it, why do we feel so guilty when we do?  And why do we beat ourselves up over it?  Most people who begin a fitness program quit because they set their expectations too high and feel like a failure when they have a moment of weakness.  But what if you stopped the negative self-talk?  What if you go into this knowing that there will be those weak moments and before you even start you just tell yourself it’s ok and normal for that to happen.  What if I told you it was possible to make a huge pig of yourself one day and actually go ahead and workout and eat well the next?  Because you can!  It’s what you consistently do that matters.  A mistake here and there doesn’t mean the end of your fitness!  In fact, I don’t even like to call them mistakes. That’s part of the problem right there.  You can’t set unrealistic expectations and expect to be successful.  I hate restrictive diets for that very reason.  You can’t eat this, this or this and if you do, well you suck and are a failure at life.  NO.  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  I understand that if you are currently addicted to junk food or soda, it is going to be harder for you to practice moderation and favor healthy foods.  It’s not impossible, though.  Will it suck in the beginning?  Yes.  As with any lifestyle change, it’s hard in the beginning.  But if you commit to 2 weeks, it becomes considerably easier, especially when you see the results of your discipline.  But please, please, please!!  Don’t quit if you veer off course.  Keep going!  You won’t be sorry!

 

  • VISUALIZE YOURSELF AT YOUR GOAL
    This one can be extremely helpful and motivating.  You have a mental picture in your head of what you’re trying to accomplish.  Visualize it often.  I have a board on Pinterest and its sole purpose is to motivate me when I feel less than motivated.  I pin all kinds of things to it; quotes, fitness routines, people with physiques that I admire, bible verses, etc.  In fact, the picture in this post came from my fitness inspiration board on Pinterest.  It really does help keep me focused on my goal.

I hope these tips are helpful to you.  Remember that anything you do is better than doing nothing.  Slipping up is not an excuse to quit!  Consistency is what matters!  You can do this!

Baked Chicken & Veggie Quinoa

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I tried a new recipe last week that I found on Pinterest.  I changed the original recipe by adding chicken for even more protein. It was a hit, even with my husband who isn’t a huge quinoa fan.  Here’s how I made it:

  • 2 ½ – 3 cups cooked quinoa (About 1 ½ cups uncooked.
  • 4 chicken breasts, cooked & cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped (green pepper works well too if that is what you have)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes (you can leave it out if you don’t want the kick!)
  • 2 TB Italian seasoning
  • 1 ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ lb fresh spinach (a couple large handfuls)
  • 1 – 15oz can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 ½ cups Parmesan cheese, shredded or grated
  • Shredded Parmesan to sprinkle on top
  1. Saute onion and zucchini in the friendly fat for about 7 minutes with a pinch of salt to bring out the juices and sweeten.
  2. Add the garlic and seasonings and cook a couple more minutes, then dump into a medium mixing bowl.
  3. Add the cooked quinoa, fresh spinach, tomato, eggs, and cheese to the mixing bowl with the sauteed veggies and combine everything together.
  4. Pour the quinoa mixture into a buttered 9×13 baking dish and spread it out.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, sprinkle Parmesan cheese on the top, and then bake another 20 or so minutes, until the edges are nice and brown and the cheese on the top is melted and golden.

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Build a Better Booty Challenge!

My biggest problem area on my body is my hips/butt/thigh area.  It is where all of my excess body fat resides and it is so hard for me to make progress there.  Tonight I’m starting this 14 day challenge that targets that specific area.  If you want to participate, you can find all the details here:  http://gethealthyu.com/14-days-to-a-better-butt/

 

Use this two week challenge to get a firmer, better booty!

Fitness Check-In

Right before we moved, I had started the New Rules of Lifting for Women program.  I had a very hard time at first with letting go of my old split, which was to work certain muscle groups on specific days.  However, I had read so many good things about this program and wanted to give it a try.  Plus, as an added bonus, the workouts in this program tend to be a lot easier on my elbow, which if you’ve ever had tendon issues, you know how painful that is.

Once we got ready to move, I got off track with that a little bit, mainly because my weights were buried under boxes in the garage, and resorted to just throwing some spotty workouts together for a while.  Now that we’re settled in (for the most part), I’ve been hitting those workouts hard.  And I love them.  Although I must confess that I tend to throw a few finishing moves onto the end of each workout….I just can’t seem to not do that lol…but I’m really happy so far.  I’ve noticed increased strength already and can’t wait to see where I’m at when I finish the whole program.

So, to document where I’m currently at & where I want to go, here’s an update:

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Current body weight:  129.8
Short term goals:  adhere to this program & stay focused through the upcoming busy travel ball season.Long term goals:  Increase overall strength, lean body mass, and endurance
Problem areas:  LOWER BODY!  Ugh!  I know that when we lose weight it tends to go from top to bottom.  First you notice it in your face, then shoulders/arms, abdomen & then finally the lower body.  Unfortunate for people like me who really want to see results there first.  Oh well, that’s the breaks!  Gotta keep working hard & I know the results will come.

This place where I’m at right now is hard for me to be in.  I struggle with thinking that I am fine where I’m at, so why not just maintain it vs. I really want to reach the next level, but I’m scared of the hard work that will take!  When you don’t really have X number of pounds to lose, it becomes more about changing your physique, which can be difficult to do unless you are willing to commit 100% to doing what it takes to make that happen.  I get too comfortable with myself & motivation is lacking at times to tweak things that need tweaking.

Oh and I’ve been slacking on water intake too. Man, what a difference that makes.  I forget sometimes how important it is to be hydrated.  It affects everything from your hunger levels to your skin, and energy levels too.  When I’ve gone too long without water and finally have some, it’s like coming back from the dead.  So that’s another area of focus for the upcoming weeks.

What do your current goals look like?

 

A Day in the Life

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When I think back to what life was like when I started this blog, I am amazed at how different things are now.  My girls were 6 & 3!  They are now 14 & 11.  Oh how the times have changed for this family.

I used to have time for lots of things like gardening, canning, cooking from scratch.  And while those things and those times hold a special place in my heart, the thought of doing that now makes me want to run & hide.

These days, I’m more into working out and being a professional kid hauler running from one practice to another, doctor appointments, school functions, softball games, etc.  I’m still cooking a lot, but I’m way more lax in how I approach nutrition.  I love to eat healthy foods, but I don’t have guilt trips or stress over eating the occasional junk either.  I used to make our ketchup, mayo, broth, jam, canned veggies & sauces, pickles, etc because I was bound and determined to let no unnatural items touch the stomachs of my loved ones lol.  And while those things are great, and I applaud anyone who is actively working towards taking care of their family in the best way that they can, frankly, I just don’t have time for that anymore.

These days our mornings are spent in a mad dash to get ready for school.  Once the kids are off it’s home for my one hour workout time.  This is one area I will never give up.  There are days when it has to happen at night instead of morning (which I hate, btw) but one hour of each day is all mine.  I have struggled to really disengage from the never ending list of responsibilities and chores that need tending to, but I really try to clear my mind and focus on my health and fitness in that hour.  My goals and expectations for myself, and my long-term health are the things I try to keep at the forefront of my mind.  Because I do want to be healthy and active and here for my family for as long as possible and I don’t want my health to be a burden to them.  I know that anything can happen to anyone at any time, but I’m going to try to ward off health issues for as long as possible.  My game plan for that is to exercise daily and find a good balance between great nutrition & the freedom of indulgence in moderation.

After workout time, if there isn’t anywhere I need to be, I try to tackle laundry & housework.  I’ve tried (and failed at) several different systems over the years, but what I have found that works best for me now is to divide it up throughout the week.  Mondays I clean both bathrooms top to bottom.  Tuesdays I dust (everything from baseboards to blinds & furniture, ceiling fans, etc ).  Wednesdays I vacuum & mop.  Thursdays are for meal planning / grocery shopping & errands.  Fridays are for tackling outside chores, when it’s nice, or just catching up on anything I missed earlier in the week.

Things are a little more relaxed in the summer when school is out & I’m sincerely looking forward to that with just a little over month left of school.  More free time for fun with the girls & SLEEPING IN!

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After 13+ years of being a stay at home mom, I honestly am surprised that I haven’t tired of it by now, especially with the girls being older & more independent now.  And looking back, I know we sacrificed material things & vacations.  But I can’t say that I feel deprived or sad that we missed out on the things that others have.  The day will come when we’ll do those types of things, Lord willing, but for now I can only say that I feel so abundantly blessed to be able to do this every day.

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**Pictures courtesy of my awesome career choice & our recent hiking trip to Clifty Falls State Park**  😉

 

 

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