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June Goals

It is very rare that you get a new month on the first day of the week. It seems right that you should wake up feeling refreshed and excited about what could be possible this month. For whatever reason, that made me feel like it might be a good idea to make some goals for the month. I mean why not?

1. Practice yoga at least 10 minutes daily. I’ve been doing yoga challenges, but not really focusing on my yoga practice. I need to get back into that.image (10)

2. Get up early every morning. It’s summer! This means I have more daylight in the evenings, which means if I get up earlier and get more things done sooner I can take advantage of it.image_4

3. Try a new funtivity every week. I love funtivities, and right now is the perfect time to integrate them into our plans. They can be an active activity, or just a new adventure (e.g., a new restaurant).

4. Cut back on sugar. I’ve been really bad about the extra dose of sugar. I am going to try my darndest to limit my “sugary” snack intake to twice a week…I am talking candy and ice cream here. Maybe next month I’ll cut my fruit (but let’s be honest).SourPatchKids

Healthy Eating: Stuffed Peppers

I’ve been eating stuffed peppers for as long as I can remember. My mom used to make them when we were younger. I am pretty sure I used to take them for lunch sometimes. They are just such a good Sunday meal prep option, that are also good for lunch leftovers.

I’ve stuffed them with pretty much everything at this point….they’ve been vegetarian (with Morningstar Crumbles), they’ve had rice or quinoa, and then of course other ground meat…turkey, chicken, buffalo. You can really stuff them with almost anything.

I used to have to get creative in how I positioned the peppers to bake. Then I got a fantastic pan for our wedding, literally designed for peppers. It’s awesome.

 

Below is a recipe I’ve been using recently, it’s clean, simple and tasty.

Italian-Style Stuffed Bell Peppers

What you need:

4 bell peppers

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1/2 large onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced or grated

1/2 cup diced tomatoes, fresh or canned

1 pound ground beef, bison, turkey, or chicken

Go ahead and preheat the oven to 375 F. While that is preheating, let’s get to chopping.

Peppers 002

 

In a large skillet heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until they are translucent and slightly brown. You can lightly season the onions with salt and pepper. I also like to add a little more pepper and saute those.

Peppers 004

Reduce the heat to medium, add the garlic and tomatoes, and cook for about two minutes.

Peppers 005

 

Now we add the meat and cook until fully done. I usually add a little heat here with some red pepper.

Peppers 006

 

Fill the peppers and pop them into the oven for about 20 minutes. This will leave the peppers soft, but still a little crunchy.

Peppers 008

 

Peppers 007

News That Makes You Think: Obesity Risk, Lunch Shaming, Double Chin

The last two days has been filled with some interesting news items that has led me to shake my head, and go hmmmm.

A test that can gauge your obesity risk?

I come from a family that has often struggled with weight — we have one of those really unhealthy relationships where we eat our feelings. It’s a learned response….and while that has a significant impact on our waistlines it is a habit that in theory can be broken.

On the other hand, researchers have now said they can successfully link certain byproducts of digestion to the risk of excess body fat. Something we can’t change…yet. It’s possible that these findings might lead to more personalized interventions for people who are identified as “at-risk” for obesity, including diet, exercise or supplements.

In a study published in the journal, Science Translational Medicine, researchers note that obesity risk is driven by many factors. They include, “amino acids and muscle metabolism, energy metabolism, and [the] involvement of gut metabolism.”

In a not so shocking finding, the researchers say that obesity is complex and one magic bullet isn’t going to fix the situation. Read more here. Do you think having this information would make a difference?

Lunch Shaming

On my ride back from pilates this morning, I heard the story of the teacher’s letter to a parent regarding her child’s lunch. Then I got home and saw that it was on GMA. Is this really a thing? I know and appreciate the hard work that has gone into revamping school lunches, but being uber judgey about what is packed from home is ridiculous. Also, since when is peanut butter NOT a healthy snack? I’m pretty sure it is one of those “in moderation” snacks that is good for you. And another thing, how are you suppose to keep milk cool for lunch?

I'm pretty sure this lunch wouldn't make the cut
I’m pretty sure this lunch wouldn’t make the cut

Double Chin Remedy

Forget contouring like a Kardashian, and don’t you fret about bad angles anymore. The FDA approved a new treatment for adults with “moderate-to-severe fat” below the chin. The treatment, Kybella, apparently naturally absorbs fat, and has the potential to be a big seller. That is IF, patients are ok with the potential side effects including trouble swallowing or nerve damage to the jaw that an result in an uneven smile or muscle weakness in the face.

I can't tell if I qualify for "moderate-to-severe" here
I can’t tell if I qualify for “moderate-to-severe” here

Review: Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide

If you follow healthy lifestyle and fitness experts on Instagram, you may have found the fantastic abs of Kayla Itsines on your phone.  Kayla is a 23-year-old personal trainer from Adelaide, Australia. At first I was hesitant, since a 23 yr old’s body is WAY different than a 30 year old’s. But, Kayla also shares #fitspirations from her many, many members of #thekaylamovement and some are new moms, moms of three, and others who are living incredibly busy lives. We are talking abs for days, people.

Those abs!
Those abs!

 

So I went ahead and purchased her Bikini Body Guide 1.0. Her workouts follow a great interval format, in total it is 28 minutes of resistance training — two 7 minute circuits that you run through twice. You tend to do these Monday, Wednesday and Friday with Monday being a cardio/leg day, Wednesday arm/abs and Friday total body. The remaining days are either low impact cardio or recovery days. The full program is 12 weeks long.

Circuit Example
Circuit Example

I am a month in, and really love the challenge these circuits bring. In truth, I haven’t changed my diet so my progress isn’t necessarily the same as some of her other participants. Also, I haven’t taken my progress photo yet…because I am scared of photos.

Of course, my “low impact cardio” days are my Orange Theory Days, which isn’t low impact and just cardio, so my body is incredibly tired. I have a hard time resting, and was recently counseled that “yoga isn’t resting.” Maybe I can change that up for the next four weeks.

In all honesty, I just love the fact that Kayla didn’t see her nearly 2M Instagram followers coming. She was just a humble trainer posting progress photos of her clients, then she started answering questions, and THEN she launched her eBooks.

Bringing Breakfast Back

I was never big on breakfast. I started being bused to school in fifth grade, which meant early wake ups and not a lot of time to. Enjoy a hot breakfast. Throughout middle school and high school I relied on breakfast bars and fruit….by the time I was in college breakfast was something I had on the weekends only, and to be honest that wasn’t very often.

Eating before heading to the office usually meant I was hungry by 10, so I started eating breakfast at work. Oatmeal, cereal and when I was really adventurous microwaved eggs. Basically, I ate breakfast because I had to and very rarely enjoyed it.

My lack of breakfast imagination and desire for something quick lead me to toasted PB&J, waffles, my trusty oatmeal and Greek yogurt. Wasn’t the best option, or healthiest.

To reintroduce a healthy breakfast into my life I’ve started making egg dishes that I can re-heat. It’s a nice easy way for me to have a “grab and go” option without relying on carbs.

So far we’ve made a spicy breakfast casserole and little egg muffins. Pairing those with berries and breakfast sausages have made for some delicious mornings.

Mini-muffins (uncooked) and the tasty casserole
Tasty-casserole
Mini-egg muffin
Mini-egg muffin

Below are the recipes for both.

Spicy Breakfast Casserole 

½ onion, diced
1 lb. hot Italian turkey/chicken sausage (approx 4 links, casings removed)
3 c. broccoli florets, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 medium sweet potato, shredded
1 ¾ c. liquid egg whites
5 whole eggs
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 Tbs. Sriracha
1 tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. fresh black pepper
1 tsp. coconut oil or olive oil, to grease pan and sauté onions
½ c. smoked pepper jack cheese, shredded (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9×9” or 9×13” glass baking dish.

In a large skillet, add ½ tsp. oil and add chopped onions.  Saute until translucent.  Add sausage, breaking it up with a spatula and stirring occasionally until evenly browned.

Bring a sauce pan of water to boil over high heat.  Add broccoli florets and blanch for 2 minutes.  Immediately empty to a strainer and let drain.

In a large bowl, combine eggs and egg whites and whisk with a fork until blended.  Add shredded sweet potato, garlic salt, Sriracha, and salt & pepper. Whisk until incorporated.breakfast 006

Shredding sweet potatoes is a workout
Shredding sweet potatoes is a workout

To your greased baking dish, add the blanched broccoli florets and the onion-sausage mixture.  Pour the egg and sweet potato mixture evenly over the top and sprinkle lightly with cheese (if using).

Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until center is set and eggs are no longer runny.  (If you use a 9×9 baking dish, it may take slightly longer to set in the middle.)

Let cool for 10-15 minutes.  Slice into squares and serve.

Mexican Turkey Frittata 

1 (20-ounce) package JENNIE-O® Extra Lean Ground Turkey Breast
¼ teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 green pepper, chopped
2 cups sliced small mushrooms
1 tablespoon chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped (we used Siracha)
2 cups egg substitute or 8 eggs
¼ cup milk
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup shredded low-fat Mexican blend cheese
⅓ cup green onions
Mexican Turkey Frittata (Continued) 3 of 3

Directions:

Heat oven to 350°F. Mist 12 muffin cups with cooking spray. Cook ground turkey as specified on the package. Always
cook to well-done, 165°F. as measured by a meat thermometer. Sprinkle with cumin; stir to mix.breakfast 014 In large skillet over medium-high heat, add oil, green pepper, mushrooms and chipotle peppers. Cook 5 minutes, stirring
occasionally, until mushrooms are cooked.
In large bowl, whisk eggs, milk and cilantro until well mixed. Stir in turkey, cheese, mushroom mixture and green onions.
breakfast 017Spoon mixture into muffin cups, filling approximately ¾ full.

Bake 20 minutes or until set.

I’m In Need of a Detox

This isn’t the first time I’ve contemplated a detox, but lately I’ve just really been feeling like I need it. I’m cranky, sluggish and feeling a little bloated…like all the time. Maybe it is the stress. Maybe it is all the travel. Whatever it is I need a swift kick in the butt to start feeling like myself again.

The last time I cut refined sugar out of my diet it went pretty well. So I think I will start there. Otherwise, my diet is pretty focused on non-processed foods.  I don’t do white flour and surprisingly have been able to cut rice out too. Dairy (aside from my ice cream) is plain, nonfat yogurt and even my milk is almond-base.

Juice cleanses intrigue me, and I’ve always wanted to try them because they sound so simple and people rave about them. Here are your juices. Drink them every 2 hours, drink lots of water and go forth and be energized. The problem is all the work that you have to do BEFORE you start…cutting out the meat and what not. I would essentially be zapped of energy before I even start.  (TRUTH: I have filled out forms and then closed out of the browser window more than once on some of these.)

This month’s SELF featured a 7-Day Detox that includes a meal plan with real food AND a workout plan.

The Plan
The Plan

The meals are a little intensive and the workout plan includes AM and PM sessions, which is a little daunting, but I think this might be the right thing for me. Plus, since it includes real meals, I can possibly get Josh on board for at least the dinner plan.

Cardio in the AM, plus these in the PM
Cardio in the AM, plus these in the PM

So that’s the plan beginning this weekend. Hopefully, come October I will feel back on track.

 

 

 

Can’t Resist: Spring Runs, Chobani and More

I can’t resist running in this weather. I am literally exhausted with tight quads and an aching back and the mid-60 weather and clear blue skies call to me.

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When you see that, you have to run

I am still getting used to running in my Kinvara 4 from Saucony and because the weather was super perfect I ran a bit longer in them than I had before.  My first run this week had me out for almost six miles and I swear I was running faster than I have in years, despite the tightness in my legs.

These shoes are miracle workers. Even today when I went out for my four miler that I was only doing because it was too pretty to be inside, I was cruising.

This week also marked the first time I tasted Chobani’s new key lime flip. I don’t know how I survived without these delightful little snacks for so long. (Side Note: Even though I have been a yogurt eater for a long time I never knew that those types of yogurt containers were made so that you can flip the topping…stop I know.) Key lime is my ultimate summer flavor, and these glorious little 170 calorie fun pack is going to help me keep my summer sweet tooth in check.

mmm key lime, white chocolate and graham cracker (can't resist)
mmm key lime, white chocolate and graham cracker (can’t resist)

I am a fruit lover. And lately I have been craving fruit in my salads. It can be pretty much anything, but mostly I have been dropping apples in there. The combination of apples and chicken has become my absolute favorite, but now that strawberries and blueberries are on sale I am buying them in spades to add to salads.

Some of my favorite spring salads are:

  • Shrimp, green apple, avocado with lemon juice (easiest thing you’ll ever make)
  • Berry Delicious Summer Salad (blueberries & walnuts, amazing)
  • Watermelon, feta and basil with lemon juice
  • Strawberries, walnuts, goat cheese and spinach (balsamic vinegar)
Watermelon and feta = amazing combo
Watermelon and feta = amazing combo

Basically lemon and balsamic vinegar become staples in my house during the spring and summer.

Finally, our current go-to treat comes courtesy of Skinny Cow. It is their limited edition ice cream sandwich in Snickerdoodle flavor. If you haven’t had them, run now to your grocery store.  I don’t feel guilty indulging in these at all since they are only 140 calories. We are talking low-fat cinnamon ice cream between two oatmeal cookies. You can’t go wrong.

Deliciousness
Deliciousness

 

Exercise As A Threat?

Over the last few years we have acclimated to seeing calories next to our favorite food items. At first it seemed to deter some people, but eventually you just shrugged it off and ate it because you wanted that personal-size Uno pizza that is like a  1,400 calories. (Not me, because I just can’t, but I know there are people out there that do.)

Fries are my weakness
Fries are my weakness

So if this doesn’t deter people like everyone hoped, what’s next? Displaying how much exercise would be required to burn it off. A new study tested this idea and found that when restaurant menus listed the amount of brisk walking required to work off each dish diners we less likely to overeat.

Personally, I don’t like to think about what is required to burn it off after I eat. I think that just makes eating less enjoyable and more guilt ridden. Yes, there are times when I over indulge and think “I am so going to need to run an extra mile tomorrow,” or I might switch a yoga day for something more intense, but I don’t like to think about it until after I am completely satisfied with myself.

It is important to me to overindulge from time to time
It is important to me to overindulge from time to time

I know I am a rare breed who enjoys exercising for the endorphins I feel during and after, but come on no one is going to learn to enjoy a healthy lifestyle if we keep making it a chore or a punishment.

You have to separate the guilt from eating. That is the only way you overcome food demons or avoid creating new ones.

An Evening With Jillian

When I think about spending an evening with Jillian Michaels, I immediately think buckets of sweat and a fierce attitude in your face. So I was skeptical when I heard about her “Maximize Your Life” tour. I know she offers motivation in the form of one-on-one talks on Biggest Loser, but they are also getting their butts kicked by her in the gym.

Of course, the second Melissa asked if I wanted her extra ticket for last night’s show I practically jumped through the computer screen to hug her.  The crowd itself was intriguing–mostly women of varying shapes and sizes. What really struck me was the purchasing of alcoholic beverages and snacks to listen to someone dubbed “the world’s toughest trainer” talk about nutrition and weight loss..that just seemed off. I know I am being a bit judgey…but really?

Apparently there is a grilled cheese bar here; also ppl are buying them & drinks to listen to @ talk abt controlling weight

After a pretty disturbing video, the kind I think they show in spy movies to wipe your memory and implant new ones, Jillian took the stage. She was herself–a bit foul mouthed, funny and energetic. She was actually really entertaining to listen to.

Her talk was broken into three parts: (1) science; (2) sweat and (3) self — basically nutrition, exercise and self worth.

A few tidbits from the nutrition: 

  • Counting calories sucks, but the truth is we are creatures of habit and basically only eat 20 different meals. Learn the calories once and there you go.
  • Think of calories like money, you only have X amount to spend
  • Turn on your bullshit meter when you are reading labels. (Jillian told us she called a certain butter spray company to understand how it could possibly be zero calories when they have things like butter cream in it)
  • DON’T EAT SMALL MEALS THROUGHOUT THE DAY this doesn’t allow your body to go into the proper burning system
  • Avoid starch and sugar at dinner

Exercise: good for Jillian’s salary, simple for you to do

  • Calculate your BMR (basal metabolic rate), if you don’t do ANYTHING at all, you will burn this much during the day. Then add on your active metabolic rate and if you don’t go over these calories you are golden. 
  • It isn’t about specific exercises, it is about techniques — body weight training and free weights; works more than machines
  • Don’t workout over 6 hours a week; and have one rest day

The goal setting stuff was good, and she got me geared up to make and reach my goals, but man it was a long talk.

Like I said she was incredibly entertaining and I can see why people attach themselves to her, but I still would have loved to have walked out of there drenched in sweat.

Sidelined and Other Ramblings

I am the perfect example of how not to take care of yourself. There are studies out there that show that stress depletes your immune system and once your stress dissipates your immune system is flooded and then you get sick. Well that happened to me last week.

I was go, go, going and then I had to come to a screeching halt that sidelined me for nearly a week. My god does it suck to not have the energy to go for a run when it is insanely gorgeous outside. Thankfully, my week off has me feeling much better (though not 100% just yet).

When you have a cold do you do “take it easy exercises” or just lay on the couch and sleep like I did?

Unfortunately, part of my being ridiculously strung out on stress meant I let some reviews slide. I completely and sincerely apologize to Kona Kase for this delayed review. (Disclosure: I received Kona Kase for free in exchange for this review)March to April 2013 066

 

Kona Kase is a nutrition delivery subscription box, similar to my lovely BirchBox and StichFix obsessions.  Each month you get a box of eight sports nutrition products. I’ve been running for a long, long time so I have my training and race day nutrition down, but am ALWAYS looking for some good filling snacks. March to April 2013 067

Since I was traveling a lot this month, I threw basically half of the box’s contents into my travel bag and went from there. The BRUBAR saved me while I waited for the FDA to make a decision on my client’s product. Would I ever order the SunCups? Probably not. March to April 2013 070

If you are a beginner runner looking for fueling options I think this is a great way to test out different products, for only $15/month. Or if you are just looking for ways to fuel your workouts I recommend it.

If you are interested in trying out Kona Kase you can get 50% off your first month by using the code “cohen.”

If you do try Kona Kase let me know how you like it.