Four Tips For A Successful Grocery Trip

Four Tips For A Successful Grocery Trip

Happy Friday!!

These past two weeks have been pretty crazy. A one semester class in three days (yes that is possible for my graduate program), my new class at Viking Fitnesss, getting to know and training new clients, keeping up with everyday tasks, running and training, and being social–wow sounds exhausting!!

In reality though, I did have to step back after that three day class a week or so ago. I was invited to three fun events I was planning on attending once my class was over. I ended up not attending any of them and sleeping in, catching up on things at home, and organizing my life before the spring semester starting that next Tuesday. I hate saying no, but being social seemed like a lot of work when all I wanted to do was rest my brain! (sounds terrible I know). I’m really glad I took the hint and listened to my body!

In terms of marathon training, my training is basically at a close. No more hard training runs, minimal leg days (sobs), and instead shorter runs that act more as a shake out for my legs. The past couple weeks I added more stretching, foam rolling, and just overall rest. I tried to get my steps in every day, but that was about it. I snuck in a few walks and an upper body training session. Weird to take it all down a notch. But I like it. I shows me that I really work hard and put my body through a lot. The tapering is actually kind of relaxing for me and is a good time to get psyched and excited for the race ahead!!

Basic recap on my life lately done! ^^^

In the meantime, I’ve meal prepped lasagna and healthy carb options these two weeks as well. Still plenty of fruits and veggies, lean protein, and water. These two days before the race though, I stocked up on healthy carb options. I always like to have these around in training or not, but I did find that I was low in some of my favorites, so I made a trip to Publix!

Aside from just the carb and healthy fat options I picked up, I have a method I use to get through the grocery store as efficiently and productive as possible on a daily basis. Here are three tips I live by when tackling the grocery store:

  • Enter with a list. I sound like a broken record, but it’s true. You stick to the list you bring then just wandering aimlessly around the store ( <— time killer). Make sure you have the ingredients you need for whatever you’re prepping, your basic staples, a treat or two (your discretion on this one), and one new product. Some of these, like the treat or new item is something you see as you shop. I know I always buy fresh veggies as snacks, enough greens for a salad, carbs (one to cook fresh another ready to go), a protein (one to cook fresh and one ready to go), dairy, fruit for snacking or breakfast, and a healthy fat or two (mines BOGO peanut butter is at publix most of time).
  • Shop the perimeter of the store first.¬†Again, another broken record, but THIS is very key if you tend to go straight to the aisles. The perimeter of the store has the meat, produce, frozen, and sometimes dairy items. The basics for healthy shopping! The inside aisles have the processed items. You can find quality brown rice in the aisles, but you can also find oreos. ūüėČ Be weary and keep your list nearby when in these aisles!
  • It’s OK to ask for repackaging. The repackaging applies more so to meat and produce. You can ask the butcher to cut the portion in half, trim the meat, and weigh it out for you. I don’t do this a lot, but my mom does for certain things. It’s a smart way to cut costs and keep¬†lean protein in mind. You can also apply this to produce when it is sold in open bags. Grapes are the norm for this. I’ve weighed mine out and got exactly how much I need without wasting the rest and paying more then I needed to.
  • Read labels. Sounds time consuming. It can be, but I focus instead on skimming instead of reading every last nutrient and ingredient. I check out five things on the label: calories, carbs, fat, fiber, protein. Making sure the item is low in sugar too is also key! Checking out the first five ingredients on the list is also important!

YOUR TURN:

– Do you like grocery shopping?

-What is your typical routine when you shop?

-What have you had to say no to lately but are glad you did?

 

 

Three Ways To Improve Balance

Three Ways To Improve Balance

I’ve been learning A LOT of different things at my internship since starting it three weeks ago! It’s very hands-on and I’m definitely being challenging to think outside the box. That’s the whole point of an internship, right? One of the key components that is used a lot with the clients I work with at my internship is balance.

Not the balance like life balance…lol, although that IS a work in progress too, I talking coordination, agility, posture, body awareness, etc. It’s all important. For a while, I was working on it diligently with myself and my clients. Then I kinda forgot about it…oops. It can be one of those things that can easily be forgotten if you’re not actively working on it.

Balance was the one thing that I think got stale for me which is a reason it fell off my¬†fitness routines. I’ve now been reintroducted to it and the various ways you can challenge it with equipment, eyes open vs. closed, kneeling vs. standing, and no equipment vs. foam padding or a bosu. The possibilities are endless.¬†I’ve taken time to add it to my workouts and in my HEAT class through plyometric moves such as lateral bounds, lunges + single leg skips, or simply balancing one leg for as long as possible.

Unfortunately, we don’t know the level of our balance skills until its gone, like when we fall, for example. Just like working out heart for cardio and increasing strength with resistance training, we can lose balance too.¬†Particularly as we age, it is another aspect of fitness that is lost after the age of twenty five.

So besides the fact that balance is forgotten, I figured I’d share a post on how to ADD it back into your routine to gain the benefits of improving balance. What’s so great about balance is that it doesn’t have to involve being sweaty. Weird saying I know. It doesn’t necessarily involve a high heart either. I like adding it into the end of a workout to calm the mind and ease into a cool-down. Before bed or part of a weekend fitness routine works too.¬†I like to think that balance works body-awareness, also known as proprioception. You train your mind and body at the same time. If you participate in yoga regularly,¬†balance poses are more then likely incorporated into the practice. Adding tree pose or pigeon pose counts when not on the mat counts too!

Do these three exercises without shoes. It gives you a sense of awareness and less support as soon as you step out of your shoes…what you want! I do two sets each side with five to eight reps each. Work up to three sets of ten or more reps or until you can easily add a challenge. Of course, try not to hold to anything! Having something or someone nearby if you do need the extra support is okay. Soon you’ll learn to not need it. ūüėČ

Try these three balance exercises you can do anywhere and without equipment to work your balance:

  1. Tightrope walkStepping heal to toe forward and repeating backward. 
    1. Easy: Walk two steps forward and two steps backward
    2. Medium: Walk three-five steps forward and backward
    3. Hard: Walk three-fives steps forward and backward with eyes closed
  2. Three Point Star
    1. Easy: Tap your toe to the ground in the front, side, and back of you.
    2. Medium: Release toe from ground and repeat the three points
    3. Hard: Keep toe off the ground and repeat the three points with eyes closed
  3. Finger GlanceSupporting yourself on one leg, extend opposite leg out in front. Bend elbows at the ninety degrees and hold out in front of you. Raise one finger on each hand. The higher you lift your leg out in front, the harder it is. 
    1. Easy: One leg is supporting. Toe of opposite foot is on ground in front. Glance back and forth at fingers.
    2. Medium: One leg is supporting. Toe of opposite foot is off ground a half inch to inch off ground. Glance back and forth at fingers.
    3. Hard: One leg is supporting. Toe of opposite foot is off ground one to two inches. Glance back and forth at fingers.

Adding these exercises to your fitness routine regularly will over time help enhance your balance. Realizing this can also help my running, is one reason I’ve been incorporating it into my program. Although this can help train your mind, this is great neurologically and muscularly too. Just because we’re not “old” doesn’t mean we have to fall and hurt ourselves to realize balance training NOW is important. With these simple exercises you can improve sooner then later.

YOUR TURN:

-What is one part of fitness you know you can improve on?

-Anything you’ve been working on diligently that you’ve seen improvement in? What’s worked and what hasn’t?

-What does your weekend fitness routine look like?

Why I’m Tracking My Food via MyFitnessPal (Again)

Why I’m Tracking My Food via MyFitnessPal (Again)

*This post isn’t sponsored by either Weight Watchers or MyFitnessPal, I just want to share my experience with both programs! All opinions are my own.*

It’s time I make my way back to my Friday posts! ūüėČ Took last week off to enjoy Labor Day weekend at home and it was much needed. First weekend at home since May the night before heading to Costa Rica. A full THREE DAYS of being home never felt so good! And at a good opportunity too since we had crazy rain from Hermine, it was time to get outta dodge. I did get home safe despite the four hour drive!

As of the past couple weeks, I’ve hopped back on the bandwagon of logging my food. I used to think this was the most tedious task EVER. In fact, it was a pain in the ass to do this because it did take time and was “another thing to think about.” So yes, I get it.

Going backwards: I learned to initially log my food through Weight Watchers in high school. Yep, I was on Weight Watchers.

I wasn’t a chunk, but I was about ten pounds heavier then I needed to be. Being 5’2 and relatively small-framed, I gave it a shot. The most ironic thing was that I ran cross country so I exercised everyday, but that mentality of “I ran x amount of miles, I can eat that” happened way too often. Hence, my mom gently bringing up the fact that, “I would be happier being ten pounds lighter”–yep, mom’s words I still remember. It wasn’t like I was rolling on the floor, but I figured why not? My mom was also doing Weight Watchers so she said she could fill me in on how everything worked and we could do it together. I never saw myself as heavy or that “this is a problem and I need to lose weight” it was more of an opportunity to learn how to eat healthy and be aware of what I’m eating with a small weight-loss goal in mind. A little bit of tweaking of my diet and measuring my portions (a weakness I still work on daily) I saw the pounds come off. It took two months, but it was a VERY worthwhile two months of learning.

Today, I still use some of what I learned from WW from time to time! I love how it educates the person on eating healthy and being aware of how to enjoy little indulgences without saying NO. It is one few things out there that I agree with among all this weight loss program BS and what I recommend to my clients for those looking to lose weight. You can eat real food! Measuring and tracking keep you aware without sacrificing what you love. I’m not gonna rant about WW, but to get a better idea, check this out.

Anyways, back to the current topic.

It’s been since 2011 since I tracked my food via WW writing it all down. I jumped back on board after high school using MyFitnessPal.¬†After a bit I got the hang of it, so I stopped until three weeks ago. After letting the fat kid in me have what she wants for the past month, I decided I needed to clean up my eating habits and got back into using MyFitnessPal.

I started logging in MFP and it has OPENED MY EYES to how I was eating. Not bad, but I needed improvement. As much as it was tedious to get back into logging my food, it is worth it. Now I enjoy seeing my numbers change throughout the day haha! and I feel more in control of my eating habits.

Below are my reasons WHY I chose to jump back into food logging:

1.) Keeps me aware of how I prioritize my macros (carbs, fats, proteins)

-Knowing I had x amount of calories throughout the day gives me have a better understanding of how to prioritize my meals while keeping me on track.

2.) Re-learning portion control

-I’ve always been good about measuring, but it can be a pain in the ass. I eye-ball certain things, but I seem to always over-estimate…go figure haha. Portioning out certain things helps me know what I can still enjoy without overdoing.

3.) Exercise ALWAYS counts–no matter how small

-We all know this, but no matter how small, it all adds up. Sometimes I kill it with a great speed workout and weights. Other times I wiped and just run a mile as fast as I can. I count those. One thing I have to be mindful of, is that although you get calories added back, it isn’t a free for all.

4.) Breakdown of micronutrients

-Not something I constantly monitor, but I do check occasionally. I love seeing the amount of fiber, sugar (the closest one I monitor), sodium, and various other vitamins and minerals change throughout the day. Best part is that MFP will remind you if you have met or exceeded your daily allowance.

5.) MyFitnessPal Blog is GREAT!

-MFP has come a long way since 2011. Now it acts as social media hub in a way with a “newsfeed” to see blog articles and “friend’s” accomplishments and exercise they’ve completed. Of course you can set your preferences to not have your diary, exercise, etc. be posted, but it is fun! I especially love some of the fitness articles they post regularly. Their recipes always look good (haven’t tried any yet) and their workouts are creative and are pretty basic to follow along. A great start for anyone looking to try a new recipe or exercise routine.

Even as personal trainer and as someone who loves fitness, we all are human and mess up. I enjoy indulgences as much as the next person but now I’m aware of WHAT and HOW MUCH I’m putting into my body. Learning as I go helps me share experiences and lessons ¬†with clients, family, and friends in hopes someone can learn something!

YOUR TURN:

-Have you had a recent setback or comeback into fitness or healthy eating?

-Do you log food? Is it on MyFitnessPal or another app? OR do you write it down?

-What is your favorite indulgence or dessert?

What I’m Loving Lately: Trader Joe’s Cocoa Nibs & Three-Layer Hummus

What I’m Loving Lately: Trader Joe’s Cocoa Nibs & Three-Layer Hummus

*I’m not affiliated with Trader Joe’s and have not been sponsored for this post, I just love sharing my recent items with all of you!*

I’ve always loved shopping at Trader Joe’s! Or what I like to call TJ’s ūüėČ I love it there because of the wide variety and creative products they sell as well as the quality of their produce, meats, coffee, etc. Basically TJ’s knows what’s up. I actually like it better in some ways over Publix. Although Publix is great for quick, essential items, I feel most creative with my grocery list when I go to TJ’s. It’s like they promote being creative! Which I like. Don’t get me wrong, Publix has a place (namely their pub subs), but my go-to for big grocery trips will be at TJ’s.

We got our TJ’s here in Tampa a couple years ago and we have one in the Tampa area. Best part is that it’s not far from me either! However, if you have been to TJ’s then you know the parking is TERRIBLE but well worth it every time. Over time I’ve learned to accept it the distrastrous parking and go when it’s less busy during the morning or in the evenings. I found a pattern when I went into the TJ’s in Delray Beach (where I’m from) and in Portland, OR when I went for the first time and BOTH places also had small parking lots. Hmmm…anyways, they may not have the parking situation down at their locations, but they sure do have the food part down!

When I go into grocery shop, I keep in mind the grocery shopping rule: stick to the perimeter first. If you haven’t heard of this “rule” basically it means all the healthy, quality type foods (produce, meat, dairy, etc) ¬†are around the outside and the “less quality”(processed snacks, bread, chips, soda, etc)¬†for lack of better words because its all good in moderation ūüėõ is in the middle isles. I find this consistent in all grocery stores, and believe quality still exists in the middle to an extent. Nut butters, whole grains, canned beans, nuts, dried fruit, etc. are also there! You just have to pass the various types of cookie butter to get to them in some cases. *begins drooling*

So according to the topic of today’s post, I did have to pass through the middle isles a bit to explore a couple new items that I’m really excited to share! The first item being cocoa nibs. OMG. I love love love chocolate and when I saw these little morsals, I thought of a few things they would go SO well with beyond just keeping them as a sweet. If you haven’t seen them before, they kinda look like the nerds candy. They’re crunchy and delicious and satisfy that sweet crunch. Even without putting them in or on top of anything, I’ve poured some straight into my hand and throwing them into my mouth as is! Simply delicious.

When I’m not just eating out of the pouch, I’ve put them on top of plain yogurt mixed with peanut butter for a little indulgent snack, put some in trail mix for a salty sweet taste, or on a mug cake! (blog post still TBA on this one, can’t quite get it yet). The list goes on, but this is basically what I’ve enjoyed the most using them for! Putting them on oatmeal, baking with them, smoothie bowl toppings, ice cream, etc.¬†A decent amount in a pouch too and not too expensive either. A good buy to make whatever you eat a little more indulgent without going overboard.

The other item is three-layer hummus. Now this wasn’t in the middle isle because of refrigeration (of course) but the idea of three flavors in ONE container got me. I really enjoy their beet hummus as well, but hummus can be flavored so many ways, I figured I’d give this one a go. IT WAS AMAZING! To be honest, I’m more of a traditional hummus fan. However, I love garlic flavored anything too. Garlic though was NOT a flavor of the three. From bottom to top: spicy, cilantro jalape√Īo, and traditional on top. No so much into spicy, but it¬†was tolerable and something I did get used to! Cilantro Jalape√Īo also spicy, yet tangy, and somewhat savory at the same time. Lastly, traditional because it’s just my favorite and also a winner.

Perfect for dipping carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, celery, etc or dipping tortilla chips or veggie sticks are some of my favorite things to dip into! Using hummus as a spread in place of mayo or replacing the yolk in a hard-boiled egg are some of my favorite combinations. One of my favorite breakfast go-tos is to use hummus on toast with an egg on top! A feel-good easy breakfast idea.

So many variations for both items, each to pair with something different! Enjoy!

YOUR TURN:

-Do you have two new grocery items you’ve been loving?

-What are some items you’ve been pleasantly surprised with or have been ultimate disasters?

 

Roasted Broccoli & Red Onions With Garlic & Thyme

Roasted Broccoli & Red Onions With Garlic & Thyme

Hey Hey! It’s FriYAY and I’m excited to share with you this yummy weeknight vegetable side to use with basically anything all week long. So when I started to come up with my meal prep and veggie ideas last week, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. So I just walked around the produce section at Trader Joe’s until I found something remotely appealing to me. Sometimes that’s how I shop, FYI. Not all the time because I do go into the store with some kind of game plan, but I took the opportunity for the veggies to find me, so to speak, lol.

Broccoli spoke to me that day! It was also a good price, which helped. Then I remembered that I had a red onion I could put with it and saw the colors of the two of them together and knew that was it. I’m all about throwing whatever into a bowl and calling it a meal anyways, so I figured roasting could work the same way. I ended up roasting the two together with olive oil, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper and called it a day!

Best vegetable side in a while if you ask me! Super easy too since the oven did all the work for me. I just cut up the onion and broccoli then lined the baking sheet with foil and took care of the cleanup too. Ultimate WIN. The whole process took me about twenty minutes with prep and clean-up. If you ask me, THATS how you meal prep. Or as I like to call it, minimal meal-prep. ūüėČ

Since this is pretty versatile, I found myself throwing this onto a salad or having as a side. You can also eat this warm or at room temperature. Anything goes with this if you ask me!

Roasted Broccoli & Red Onions with Garlic and Thyme

  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Sprinkle of thyme (fresh or dried)
  • Sprinkle of garlic powder (or fresh)
  • Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a cookie sheet with foil. Chop broccoli into pieces leaving it in bite size chunks. Cut red onion into chunks. Spread onto cookie sheet. Drizzle olive oil over veggies and toss to combine. Shake thyme, garlic powder, salt, and pepper and toss again. Put into oven for 15 minutes until broccoli and onions are slightly browned. Enjoy warm or at room temperature! (Note: coconut oil would be a good option too!)

JOIN THE CONVERSATION!

-What are your favorite summertime vegetables?

-What are your favorite toppings for a salad?

 

 

Why Everyone Can Do Plyometric Moves Plus My Three Modifications

Why Everyone Can Do Plyometric Moves Plus My Three Modifications

Happy Friday friends!! Its been a while since I posted a workout, so I figured I’d share a bit of what I do with my HEAT class and what I do with them since I do a fair share of plyometric moves in a bit of each of my class’s and my own workouts.

In case you’re wondering what plyometrics are, plyometrics (aka plyo) are a form of cardio using intense amounts of effort in a short amount of time. I do a combination of them in between different exercises to add an extra challenge and calorie burn or lump them all together for longer duration to focus on cardio alone. It’s really whatever you like!! A few examples of plyo moves are lateral bounds, depth jumps, vertical jumps, box jumps, power push-ups, medicine ball throws, and last but not least–burpees. The factor that makes these “plyo moves” is the added burst of intensity, namely the jump/throw movement or using the word “power.”

With plyometrics comes with impact, just FYI. These movements aren’t something you do for long periods time because they’re intense, you don’t need to do them for long to get benefits. The longer you can go, the better you’re getting at them! Although that’s not a bad thing since it shows your improvement, it means you can also make it more challenging ;).

So you might be reading this and thinking, that you’re not up to that level or you’re coming back from an injury (do I hear cranky knees?)…that’s okay! The best part is that plyo moves offer modifications so anyone can do them! I admit, I was not great at them off the bat, in fact I was terribly uncoordinated. Wait, I kinda am still uncoordinated jumping and moving around at the rate I’m going, but overtime I worked up to it using modifications. As a result of working at these, I look more put together as a result too! Yay to looking less clumsy and more coordinated! ūüėČ

Guess what the secrets are? You’ll be more apt to try them knowing you can drop the intensity and still get benefits with these modifications:

  • ELIMINATE THE JUMP OR POWER MOVE! Yep, simple as that. Lateral bounds without the hop in between, box jumps with alternating high knees, medicine ball press without the throw/catch. Wanna make it tougher? Add the jump, but jump HIGHER or onto something higher, throw a heavier ball, or simply increase time or reps.

 

  • Go At Your Own Pace – Just like standard cardio, go at a pace that feels comfortably hard for you. Keep in mind the talk test. If you’re huffing and puffing and can speak in short choppy sentences, you’re doing it right. If you’re at a conversational pace, you can up the intensity.

 

  • Time Work and Rest According to Ability – You’re putting through an intense amount of work in a short period of time, ya gotta rest to replenish! So how long do you rest? I’d say work for as long as you rest. An example would be work for thirty seconds then rest for thirty seconds. My sweet spot for these is forty five seconds. A period of time between thirty seconds to a minute is a good amount of time to start. Again, this is whatever you like! So think outside the box too. Twenty seconds of work and ten seconds rest is really good and tough! (aka tabata!) Try four times of work and four times of rest. Play around and see what you like.

If you’re doing lateral bounds for thirty seconds and feel tired, but not wiped you’re doing them right. Pair that with a thirty second rest and you should feel ready to tackle another hard thirty second bout again. Making the movement intense for that amount of time should leave you feeling fatigued but not so wiped you can’t continue. If you do get to that point of fatigue, instead of completely stopping, MODIFY! Remember my suggestions at the top? This is when you can use them! You still get benefits of the movements even with the modifications.

So behold, by plyometric workout below! I’ve added the plyo moves in between other moves like this one here, but doing them at the end when you’re tired is good too!

Plyometric Workout with Odd & Even Numbers

Format: Two times through each round, two times through with plyo moves*, sprint once after both rounds then rest after last round for one minute.

Lower Body = 15x, 20x; Odd Rep Plyo Moves*

-Squat Jumps

*9 burpees

-Sumo Squats

*7 burpees

-Reverse Lunges (15 and 20 reps both sides)

*5 burpees

-Wide/Narrow Squats

*3 burpees

~Sprint~

Upper Body= 15x, 12x; Even Rep Plyo Moves*

-Power Pushups

*10 lateral bounds (double count- left and right sides equal one rep)

-Lat Tap Pushups

*8 lateral bounds (double count)

-Tricep Pushups

*6 lateral bounds (double count)

-Standard Pushups

*4 lateral bounds (double count)

~Sprint~

Rest!

Meal Prep: How You Can Fit It In & Not Be Overwhelmed

Meal Prep: How You Can Fit It In & Not Be Overwhelmed

Happy Friday! Meal prep seems to be a common thread everyone seems to be battling with at one point or another. It also can be intimidating AF because where do you start?? I’ve had a few thoughts, which have turned into excuses:

  1. I don’t meal prep AT ALL and I end up paying for my laziness by eating out and choosing less then healthy options
  2. I’m not sure what I’m in the mood to cook
  3. I’m not in the mood to prepare it
  4. There’s other things¬†I’d rather be doing and meal-prepping isn’t one of them

Have you had these thoughts? I have, but have limited them and have changed them for the better. Once I meal-prep, I can officially consider myself set up for success. I spend less money, feel the need to not waste food, and having it prepared for me gives me ZERO excuses for eating healthy. Three killer reasons why I make these reasons alone the reason I *try* and do this every week.

On the other hand, life happens and this doesn’t always get done. And guess what? Does the world end that I didn’t meal prep? NO! Does that mean I’m not gonna be set up for success and therefore fail with my meal choices? NO! It just means I have free reign…both good and bad ūüėõ

IMG_1165
Roasted sweet potato with salt, pepper, olive oil, and cinnamon; hard-boiled eggs

So the question is, how do you fit it in?

I start by figuring out what I’m in the mood for that week. Sometimes I know instantly what I want. Other times I look through my Meals on The Run cookbook from Runner’s World, use Instagram for inspiration (check out #bgbcommunity on Instagram–you’ll be drooling over your phone in no time HA!), or tbh–the grocery store itself, although I try not to do that too often. I find flavors or ingredients that interest me or I look at factors of a recipe like time and servings to decide.

For me, I prep on Sundays. It’s a slower day for me usually so I grocery shop then come back and whip up whatever I’m making so its fresh and ready to use. I like one-pot meals a lot or one-bowl type dishes like salad since they’re both something you heat up or assemble in as little as a half hour and it’s ready to eat! I don’t have time to stand in front of a stove and cook fresh every. single. night. and I’m sure you don’t (or want to) either. So why make it tougher then it should be? Meal prep for the week ahead and you’ll have a fresh, healthy meal at your finger tips!

There are weeks I don’t have time to make a full blown meal with all the fixings on a Sunday, or I simply just don’t want to. But instead of not doing nothing at¬†all, I pick one or two items that are quick cooking so I have at least some kind of snack, vegetable, or carb ready to be thrown in to something during the week. Recently, I love cooking hard-boiled eggs, which take about fifteen minutes, and sweet potatoes which take about twenty. Both go at the same time and you don’t really need to watch either too closely! Between the two, both are done in about an hour or less. Seriously, NO EXCUSES! And even though it isn’t “meal prep” it’s more like “meal prep-prep” it’s still setting you up for success in one form or another right? Isn’t that the whole point??

Another thing that doesn’t always come with the actual prep, but something to keep in mind, is how much food you’re really getting out of the food you’re making. I cook for me, so I pick dishes that have about four servings in them. That number works for me because I get bored of eating it as the week goes on–for real though and once I get bored of it, I tend to waste it which doesn’t do my wallet any good. Any dishes six to eight servings, I tend to not look too closely at just because it feeds too many for just me! Looking at how many you’re cooking for and who you’re cooking for (hungry husbands, a family, someone who always traveling/on-the-go) is one factor I feel is most important when it comes to meal prep.

Now the type of person you’re feeding is another whole topic in itself since you want to please whoever you’re feeding too. Getting the kids, husband, whoever involved will make meal-prep an easier thing to tackle. If it just you, like it is just me, make whatever you want!! #perksoflivingalone

The funnest part of the whole meal-prep idea is the CLEAN UP! lol…just kidding. It’s my least favorite part of the whole thing to be real, but it’s gotta happen. You can make it easier by using foil or parchment paper to make clean-up easy too. Here’s a tip: DON’T use Parchment paper to broil hahaha. I made that mistake and I created a small fire in my kitchen one night making mini english muffin pizzas. All is good!! I put it out but instead of Parchment paper, use foil instead *face palm*–no flames to worry about with that. Anyways, clean-up is cut in half and makes the whole meal-prep process that much smoother.

Hoping this post leaves you feeling more inspired to try meal-prepping! Taking it step by step and not feeling intimidated is key. See it as a learning experience! Either you’ll enjoy learning to cook new things or you won’t…and in the latter case you know you at least made an attempt!

Good Luck and Happy Meal-Prepping!

YOUR TURN:

-What are you favorite go to snacks or dishes to meal-prep?

-What is one thing you want to work on or try with meal-prepping?

-Any fails with meal-prep or kitchen disasters? LOL

Why Ladies Need To Pump Iron Too ;)

Why Ladies Need To Pump Iron Too ;)

I’m sure you’ve heard myths about how lifting weights can make women look/feel:”bulky”/”like a guy”/”unattractive.” I’ve heard that too…especially being a personal trainer. I primarily train female clients and that is one of the first things they tell me when talking about goals. “I want to look toned, but not bulky” or “I don’t want to lift heavy.” Every time I share the same answer: it isn’t possible because us women do not have the levels of testestorone¬†males do. All of the sudden, they feel relieved and are ready to start lifting! (almost). Besides the myths, lifting weights is more then just great for our appearance. Below are reasons and benefits why you need to add strength training to ¬†your routine:

  • Prevents osteoporosis–weakening of bones as women grow older that become brittle and fragile with age. This usually includes increased chance of falling and decreased bone density.
  • Increased muscle = lower percentage of fat–Cardio as we know helps burn fat, but muscle gains contributes to muscle growth which keeps fat in check. Muscle weighs more then fat and helps build a lean and toned look creating curves ūüėČ
  • Metabolism jumps–muscle takes more energy to use and even at rest burns more calories then a heavy cardio session resulting in an increased calorie burn!
  • Lower numbers in blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol–we all wanna keep these numbers in check with cardio, but in the long run the added muscle gains helps keep these numbers lower for longer then just cardio alone.

Strength training doesn’t always include weights. Strength training can be anything that incorporates resisting gravity in one form or another. “Resisting” can your own body weight, resistance bands, dumbbells, sandbags, etc. The point is that your lifting something! Weights offer the best benefit (in my opinion) since you can challenge yourself with different amounts of heaviness! However, if weights seems intimidating to you (or just the thought around being a bunch of meatheads in the free weight area…you know where I’m going with this *insert rolling eye emoji*), feel free to use your own bodyweight to start off. Bodyweight strength training routines are awesome and require no equipment or gym! Don’t let bodyweight be the only form of strength training you get though, moving up from bodyweight to resistance bands or taking a group strength-based class¬†can help immensely! Check out a couple bodyweight workouts to start off with¬†here and here. Feel free to ask your local gym if you can get an overview of how to lift safely or think about getting a¬†personal trainer ūüėČ

Getting into a strength training routine of twice a week at minimum is all it takes to see a difference. ¬†Start with two days a week and work up to three. Switch up your routine from a HIIT style/30 min workout, to a class, to muscle focused type¬†workout¬†(upper body/lower body or a push/pull) to keep it fresh. Don’t let yourself get bored! Keep switching the stimulus so your body doesn’t always adapt and plateau. Keep yourself on your toes while consistently challenging yourself. Check out the “workout” tab to see various routines to help switch it up!!

YOUR TURN:

-#THROWBACK! When was the last time you strength trained and what did you do, where were you, anyone join in, feelings or thoughts or your first time training? Have you gone 360 and changed it entirely or you’re still figuring out what you like? I wanna hear! We all start somewhere.

-Top three artists/music for a strength training workout…GO!

Why I Love Being a Personal Trainer

Why I Love Being a Personal Trainer

I celebrated my three year anniversary of becoming a certified Personal Trainer just last month! I can definitely say I’ve met some pretty amazing people, attended various conferences and workshops, and helped make a difference in people’s lives by helping them reach their fitness goals. This is just the beginning as to why I love my job!

I majored in Exercise Science from the University of Tampa¬†this past May and I decided to become a personal trainer my sophomore year of college. With my love of running, getting fit, and my newly declared major, I figured it was a good idea. It would also give me the opportunity to work at school in our gym as a way to get experience and make some extra money. I talked to a few people about different certifications and ways to go about it, and I finally took the plunge and bought a package full study materials from the American Council on Exercise (ACE). I studied throughout the fall among my college classes (nuts I know) each week devoting Fridays, a day I had no class, as the day I would study for personal training. I would get up early and it would literally take most of my Friday to read the chapter, do the workbook pages for it, create/look over flashcards, watch the videos online, AND take the d@mn quiz. That was one lesson. Each week without fail, I got through the materials in about three months. I studied throughout Christmas break and on our family ski trip. I planned to take the exam at home before heading back for the spring semester…specifically on January 18th! After about four hours, I PASSED! I was so happy! The past three months of studying was worth it.

The past three years of training have been so rewarding, I’m so happy I decided to become a trainer. The studying and the test itself was tough, but besides that, it has taught me how to deal with people (both good and bad), stand up for myself, and challenge myself in the fitness world. Personal training is great because its a pretty flexible job and you are constantly on the go. Helping people get fit is fun, allows for creativity when creating workouts and plans, and is a hands-on application of knowledge. Working with a variety of people of different abilities and goals makes each client a new and exciting challenge. After college, I specifically chose to focus on in-home training, running based/interested, weight-loss, women, overall achieving a healthy lifestyle-type based clients. I also expanded my services to FaceTime. It wasn’t overnight, but the clients that were interested in my services also helped make my marketing. I gathered similar interests and goals from them as well as added my focuses, experience, and personality while creating my own niche. Everything is what YOU want, you are your own boss, another favorite part of my job. Becoming the trainer you want to become is all up to you!

Although I love what I do, it has its drawbacks like any other job. I can say first-hand that it is not always financially stable. Clients come and go as they want, availability changes, life happens, and sometimes that means a loss of a client of change of plans entirely. With  that comes less money or drop in compensation altogether. You work for your client and their needs, goals, availability, etc. (within reason) which in some cases means early mornings or late nights. Marketing takes time. Clients do not just come knocking on your door. YOU have to get them to knock. This is why I loved working at school as a trainer because people already knew me as, Ali: the sorority sister, friend, classmate, etc. and now personal trainer. Post college was tough. As a way to boost my business, I created this blog/website, my like page on Facebook: Ali Swank- Public Figure, and became an ambassador for a few fitness based companies such as Fit2Run-International Plaza, Momentum Jewelry, and Fitfluential. I established myself as blogger through Tampa Bay Bloggers, with my blog focusing particularly in running, but with an overall focus on living a healthy active lifestyle.

Throughout all the good and not-so-good experiences as a trainer, I can say I LOVE my job and am excited to continue this career throughout my life. I would say it definitely aligns with my vision of staying healthy, helping others get fit, and learning exercise isn’t boring, all while creating a positive experience. Side perks include working your own schedule…aka #girlboss, wearing workout clothes as part of everyday work…yes, I mean wearing yoga pants and nikes is perfectly okay ;), and helping others get fit and have fun! In a nutshell, this is my job…CHEERS to a new year of clients and experiences as working in one of the coolest industries–health and fitness!

How To Be *SMART* About Your New Year Resolutions

How To Be *SMART* About Your New Year Resolutions

2016 is right around the corner! How crazy is that?? That means new years resolutions are on the mind too. Did you know the most popular resolution is “to live a healthy lifestyle”–no surprise I’m sure. If you’re falling into the same resolution year after year and not keeping it, you may need to look deeper into WHY it isn’t working. I always like to say its a commitment between your body and your mind. If the two aren’t working together it only goes so far, and you go only half way. Make this year different! It may take a little more thought, but if you really do want to make a change, it IS worth it. Be one of the people that can say you DID achieve a healthy lifestyle this time next year. Instead of listing expectations for yourself, be SMART about it. ūüėČ Use SMART goals to kick your resolutions the right way!

S– Specific;¬†make your goal meaningful and specific–not vague and “open.” If you want to take up running, instead of saying “run everyday”say, “run three days at 8am on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday before I go to work.”

M– Measurable; make your goal measurable to see progress and improvement. It no fun if you go through the motions without seeing progress–the whole reason behind your resolution, right?! Instead of saying “I want to run for thirty minutes everyday” say, “I want to start with running without stopping for 10 minutes for the month of¬†January and continually add three to five minutes each time for the first two weeks in February.” You’ll see a difference in ability have kept a consistent¬†measure of time.

A/R Attainable & Realistic; this is¬†interchangeable with realistic, but make sure this goal is something you know you can do and is possible to achieve! Kinda silly I know, but we can all get caught up in the goal and then forget it really isn’t feasible like we chalked it up to be. Do a reality check on yourself and look at it hard making sure you can make it happen. Don’t¬†forget it IS good to push yourself!

T– Time Frame; Putting a timeline on¬†your goal gives you something to look forward to and work towards. Instead of saying “I want to run the Thanksgiving turkey trot next year” say, “I want to be able to run/complete the Thanksgiving turkey trot 5k without stopping by Thanksgiving next year or *insert whatever day the 5k is”

Happy New Year and GOOD LUCK–Make it happen!!!