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. 😉 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?

 

 

Core & Plyo Workout Plus First Week of Marathon Training

Core & Plyo Workout Plus First Week of Marathon Training

So far so good with my marathon training and balancing life, school, teaching classes, training clients, boyfriend and social life, and internship…LOL. Really though, I am pleasantly surprised with how well I’m doing so far. *Knocks wood.* I am very busy, but if you know me, you know I LOVE that and wouldn’t want it any other way. This week in particular has been a whirlwind and I feel quite tired, but also invigorated. I saw a quote this week that said, “I am so exhausted today because I was busy being so awesome YESTERDAY.” That’s how I’ve felt lately. And it’s a good thing. I’m also really excited to sleep in tomorrow morning for this reason. It’s the little things that count.

This week I shared a cool new core move that I shared on my Instagram. Since I’ve been tired this week, I just wanted to get it all done in as little as one or two moves. I also wasn’t feeling totally creative, like I said up top, so combining total core with a burst of low abs sounded like a good challenge to me! Make sure you keep your core tight, pressing it into the ground. Try not to let your low back pop up as your legs come down for the flutter kick. As soon as you feel your low back arch, you’ve gone too far! Keep your core tight and neutral.

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Owning you, Monday!

This move works the entire core and gets you burning up in half the time!  I was like ‘what can I double up on that let’s me get everything done in one or two simple moves?’ –> then BOOM. This move was born. I was toast guys!!!! Seriously it was really good. I didn’t need to do another move because this one got it all. Can I get an AMEN? Core done: CHECK! I love when I surprise myself with my creativity on days I’m feeling meh.

As much as I love doing large muscle groups and finishing them with core, I was just into doing just core and cardio and that’s it this past week. I wanted to be done with it in thirty to forty minutes max (I can typically spend about an hour, hour and fifteen depending on what I’m doing). We all have places to go and things to do, so this is where this workout came in handy the most.

I’ve talked a little about plyometric (plyo) moves before and they’re making their way back to my workouts. Plyometrics are movements that involve power, speed, and high intensity cardio. They’re great for HIIT and workouts like this one. Fast, challenging, and powerful. I never used to like them because I felt uncoordinated and slow. But after reading about how they can benefit my running and overall cardiovascular system, I reluctantly decided to add them. From there, I’ve grown to LOVE them. I add them for high intensity and burst of cardio where space is limited or I’m short on time. I especially love them for my HEAT class I teach since it’s always a good challenge and doesn’t require equipment–another bonus!

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Checked out the new University of Tampa fitness center this week! Gorgeous facility.

Combined with marathon training, I’m still keeping my three times per strength training days. I’ve been at this for awhile and really like how it’s fit into my schedule. Especially with my training and upcoming milage, it’s so important to stay strong and injury-free. Twice a week total body plus a quick thirty to forty minutes of a workout like this one is a perfect way to get in strength workouts.

No equipment necessary for this! All you need is a mat/towel, a water bottle, and some motivation and that’s it. 😉 Get that core working and heart rate up and you’ll be done in no time.

Core + Plyo Workout

  • * using a weight. I used one twelve pound weight and had a ten pound nearby
  • Three-four times total for each round going from one exercise to the next
  • Rest at the end thirty seconds to one min before repeating
  • Start with each exercise doing forty-forty five seconds each and work up to a minute

 -Overhead crunch + flutter kick*

-Russian twist + bicycle crunch

-Scissor kick + leg lift*

-Lateral bounds + single leg hop

-Side shuffle burpees

*Repeat 3-4 times*

In terms of marathon training, I started last week. Again so far so good. Since having done one already, I feel confident about my training and what works and doesn’t work for me. Of course, there is always something to try and glitches to sort out which makes each training special. I’m following Hal Higdon’s Intermediate I program with a few new changes I’m throwing in. I’m adding two days of speed work and one bridge run. My race has two bridges and yes, I knew that when I signed up. My first race was flat so I figured it was time to add a new challenge. I’m tracking my food via MyFitnessPal. Strength training three times per week. Lastly, I’m adding hip and ankle mobility work since I’m as stiff as a board and am learning through my internship that I really do need to improve this. I’m determined NOT to break with my upcoming milage! My ultimate goal is finish in one piece and injury free and I feel adding the mobility work will really be a great addition! Keeping with minimal drinking and good sources of carbs, proteins, and healthy fats. Carbs are a forever friend when it comes to marathon training!

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Five miles done before the sun

One component I’m particularly excited about is to have my boyfriend, Harrison, be part of this training. He’s into being fit (mostly lifting upper body…I help gotta help with some lower body stuff) and running for health. He’s really supportive and is excited for me and the upcoming training! I’m hoping when he’s not studying, and when I’m not too, I can get him up early to ride his bike alongside me on my long runs. If anything he’s great at keeping me accountable. We both get up early so we text/call each other to make sure where up and moving. For me, I text him when I’m about to leave on a run and when I get back, especially when I run early in the morning. I told him a lot of carbs are in the near future so he said he would be down to keep me accountable with making sure I’m well fed. HAHA. My kinda guy. 😉

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Me & my dude, Harrison. 🙂
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. 😉

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! 😉 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?

End Summer Right: Yoga with a Twist & Splash Sundays At the Epicurean Hotel

End Summer Right: Yoga with a Twist & Splash Sundays At the Epicurean Hotel

*Disclaimer: As a member of the Tampa Bay Bloggers I was able to attend Yoga with a Twist and Splash Sundays for free in exchange for this blog post and social media love. All opinions are my own.*

Hey Friends! A few weeks ago I was able to partake in a monthly event, Yoga with a Twist, held at the Epicurean Hotel in South Tampa. Currently living in South Tampa myself, I never had a reason to go to The Epicurean, but as soon as this opportunity came up, I said it’s time!!

Now, I’m not great about doing yoga. I like it, but haven’t found that sweet studio or instructor I clicked with. I did it regularly during my undergrad because I loved loved loved the instructor, the type of yoga, and the timing of it in my schedule. I wouldn’t call myself a yogi, since I don’t do it regularly anymore, but will for sure give my damnedest when I do get a chance to go. It is definitely one area I always need to work on. Remember my post on yoga for runners and my foam rolling routine? I explain my struggle of recovery there, and am pleased to say I have been MUCH better at fitting it into my schedule. Still a work in progress but its happening—in case you all were wondering.

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Enjoying champagne with Caitlyn post yoga!

The thought of yoga makes me feel excited even though it’s not my fav. When its combined with my friend, Caitlyn, who is also into fitness-y things, plus heading to the Splash Sundays pool party after, I said YES!

Yoga With A Twist, the official name, is a once a month event held during the last Sunday of the month at the Epicurean Hotel, a local boutique hotel located off South Howard. A good way to get in a one hour yoga class, hang out at the Epicurean, and cheers with Champagne with fellow yogis is fun and a popular way to enjoy the morning.

Reservations are required and are $15 for the class and $20 for the class and glass. Each class is offered by Kodawari Yoga, Bodywork, and Wellness Studio. Make sure to bring a mat, water, and a towel. Refreshments were available during the event and cool towels were given right before Savasana (cool-down pose). A nice refreshing way to end class!

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Cheers to a great class!

There was about forty people participating in the yoga. Each person brought their own mat, water, etc. and was done under a huge white tent near the roof of the hotel, at the Garden Terrace on the second floor to be exact. Although it was hot, the tent was beyond helpful as well as the ice water and tea that was available during the class.

The class was done in a vinyasa-type style. In case you’re not familiar with the different types, I’m meh on my yoga let alone knowing the different kinds, LOL, but basically this was a flow type class. With a few variations to add a challenge, it was definitely a good class with a mix of challenge and easy. I’m right in the middle and found there was a good balance. It was also nice knowing there were two spotters nearby who help correct as needed. Since this event was once a month, I’m not sure it is always run by Kodawari Studio or has the same instructor each month. I’ll have to go more then one time to see if it is or not. ;P Have I mentioned that guests participating in the yoga get 10% of Élevage brunch menu items and 15% off spa treatments? I haven’t been to Élevage yet, but have heard it’s pretty tasty and requires a reservation.

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Post-yoga conversation to end our practice

After class it was super chill and everyone got champagne for a toast. After the toast, everyone hung out and chatted or in mine and Caitlyn’s case, headed to the Splash Sunday pool party!! WOO!! Did I mention the Tampa Bay Bloggers hosted Splash Sundays that week?!

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The two events don’t work together, but anyone who wanted to join in the pool party could join in for the afternoon. However, a reservation is needed and requires $15 entrance fee. Splash Sundays is offered July 3rd to September 4th from 12-5pm and includes pool time, lounge chairs, umbrellas, and DJs that provide music as you chill in the pool or get your tan on. Drinks are also available but are not included the in the reservation. Depending on if you’re getting a group together, a cabana is an option for larger parties.

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A super fun way to end your summer or way to enjoy the Epicurean, their pool, drinks, and music! I know not having a pool, this was a great option that I’ll keep in mind for next time!

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Enjoying this sweet pineapple float 😉

YOUR TURN:

-Do you participate in yoga?

-Do you prefer a fruity cocktail or a light and refreshing spritzer by the pool?

-What is your favorite way to spend a summer afternoon?

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 😉 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 😛 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 jalapeño, and traditional on top. No so much into spicy, but it was tolerable and something I did get used to! Cilantro Jalapeño 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. 😉

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?

 

 

Strengthen The Low Back: Deadlifts & Core Warm-Up

Strengthen The Low Back: Deadlifts & Core Warm-Up

Happy Friday! Finished my first six week grad school class last week, and started my second one this past Wednesday! One down, last summer class to go. Before I start writing this, I checked out the syllabus and wrote out the semester in my planner for due dates of assignments, class topics, etc. I love my Erin Condren planner and it being so easy to plan and use, I highly suggest it if you like to write everything down!

Even with being in school, I decided to change up my goals and routine to incorporate one more extra day of strength training. I figured add in another day because I can make it happen with my schedule and having that extra workout keeps things fresh. See my post on squeezing in strength training into a hectic schedule hereOne exercise that is great for fitting into this time frame, is deadlifts, or any core exercise for that matter. Just like upper body or lower body, core deserves it’s own day too. What better way to fill the extra day of strength with all core, lower back, and abs?? I do core at the end of each upper body and lower body day, but I’ve really been enjoyed having these days just to focus here too along with mixing it up with a shoulder or arm day.

One thing I’ve concluded while working with clients that have desk jobs is that their core and lower back are especially tight and/or weak. No surprise right? I didn’t actually think of this, but I was getting a lot of the same comments from everyone like, “I feel so tight in the middle of back”, “I’m stiff constantly”, and “I have occasional neck/back issues.” Unfortunately, sitting for such long periods of time affects this. Yes, walking around during your lunch hour and taking the stairs helps, but at the end of the day, desk job employees can’t do a whole lot about the sitting part of their job. Unless, they get a stand-up desk which in my opinion, is the best option out there.

This is where I come into play. Although I’m not at work reminding them to walk around (although I’m sure they would like that!) I try and focus on regaining that strength and improving their low back and core when I do meet with them.

One key component of the dynamic warm-up (stretching with movement) I’ve done with them are:

  • Cat-Cows: It’s a yoga move it’s a great way to warm up the spine and core. It gently moves the core and spine up and down while easing low back stiffness.
  • Child’s Pose: No movement here, but a great way to release any tension between sets of Cat-Cows.
  • Torso-Twists: Rotating side to side from the waist gently twists the core and spine.

Perform each movement one after the next, ten to fifteen times each, three rounds through. Once warmed-up, I show my clients the proper form of the deadlift before giving them the weight. Deadlifts are tricky since they do incorporate the low back, an area of concern for some people. Once done correctly, they’re easy to grasp and provide so many benefits!

One mistake I find often is that people tend to add a squat to the movement. The squat isn’t necessary and tends to take away from the purpose behind the deadlift. The deadlift works to use the core, namely the low back, to lift from the hips up. I like to think of hinging at the hips/sticking the butt back as a way to describe the movement. Check out how to perform a deadlift here!

Another thing that worries people about this movement, is that we’ve been told our whole lives to “use the legs, not the back.” Yes, that is true, but properly recruiting the legs AND back is what is really key. Keeping the core tight is something that we don’t think of right away, but keeping it mind throughout the warm-up and into the exercise can help keep form together.

If you’re nervous about trying the deadlift alone, start with supermans. They work the low back the same way, but without the weight. You’re also on the ground which takes the thinking out of the movement. Check out how to perform the superman here!

Be sure to cool down and stretch the core once you’re done! The child’s pose is a good one post workout as well as the hamstrings toe touch. *BONUS* perform hamstring stretch sitting. It’s more intense this way because the floor is keeping your legs supported as opposed to standing up. Feel free to add a slight bend to the knees if you have tight hamstrings like me 😉 Work up to keeping the legs as straight as possible.

LET’S CHAT:

-Do you suffer from a tight low back? How do you keep it from getting cranky?

-Do you do yoga?

-Thoughts on stand-up desks?

 

Get Your Greek On: Three Greek Inspired Snack Ideas

Get Your Greek On: Three Greek Inspired Snack Ideas

*Disclaimer: Thanks to affiliations with the Tampa Bay Bloggers and Louis Pappas, I was able to attend an intimate, complementary tasting of Greek food for this post and social media love. All opinions are my own.*

Hey All! Happy Forth of July weekend! To say I’m excited for this three day weekend is an understatement. I’m see a few friends from UT over for a BBQ in St. Pete and I’m pumped! I’m bring a patriotic fruit salad, think raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. Someone has be bring a healthy side dish right? Leave that one to me hahah. I’m always the one to bring one of those. No shame! 😉

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Baklava & Rice Pudding

A few weeks ago, I was able to attend an intimate tasting with the Tampa Bay Bloggers at this cute Greek cafe in South Tampa called Louis Pappas Greek Cafe. It’s so cute inside and very authentic! They had a great spread for us to try too. I mean REALLY good. A few options from each off their menu. I planned on basically having dinner there since there was so much and it was all so good! They didn’t fail to disappoint.

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Cinnamon Sugar Pitas with Plain Greek Yogurt & Bread Pudding

I’m not so much of a huge Greek fan. I don’t crave it as much as I do pizza or Chipotle. Those two are my favorite cheat eats ;P but this place is definitely a good place to grab a quick, healthy bite for a mid-week break from the usual. Although everything about it was delicious, my favorite was the greek salad. I’m a sucker for a good salad, and THIS was amazing. It was all so evenly chopped with such good flavor. The cool part about this salad was that it had a scoop of potato salad at the bottom. Yeah. Potato salad. Who would have thought right?? I asked what that was all about and the owner said that was a staple for when they first started to make it filling. The potatoes add that extra filling component that was surprisingly good. YEAH. They offer it without as well, but the potato salad was what they called “traditional.”A family recipe they called it. I said I would eat that for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

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Stuffed Grape Leaves & Spinach Pies

So, onward to the snackage. Namely the hummus with homemade pita, stuffed grape leaves, and delicious Baklava. I’ve come up with some inspired greek inspired snacks you can make in your own kitchen! No special ingredients needed. I went to Trader Joe’s or Publix and found them there. Enjoy these snacks at home and if you’re in the South Tampa area, be sure to check out Louis Pappas!

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Front Salad: Traditional Greek Salad with Potato Salad and Non-Traditional without Potato Salad
  1. Hummus with veggies and pita bread.
  2. Plain Greek yogurt with peanut butter or honey
  3. Chopped Greek Pasta Salad by dishingouthealth !
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Definitely making it back here in the near future!

 

My Fifteen Minute Foam Rolling Routine

My Fifteen Minute Foam Rolling Routine

Hey Everyone! Happy Friday!! Hope you all have had a productive and good week. I’m on my fourth week of grad school and so far so good, but is quite the challenge. I’m definitely being pushed out of my comfort zone with studying since it really is a whole new level of knowledge. I’m more then half way through my course, then I’ll have about a week and half or so off then return to my next six week course after the forth of July.

First off, what is foam rolling? Foam rolling is a recovery mechanism that releases adhesions, or knots in the muscle from repeated stress. It promotes blood flow to the affected area through rolling the muscle. Scientifically, this is called myofasical release, meaning ‘myo-‘ for muscle, ‘fasical-‘ referring to fascia meaning connective tissue, and ‘release’ from releasing tension on muscle.

With that being said, I figured I share my foam rolling routine and talk recovery since that is equally important too. I’m always go-g0-go. Constantly having a plan of action is my jam. For me, each week (even if its not set to a tee) has some kind of workout in it. It’s either just one workout of cardio, usually running or weights, either body weight or some kind of resistance. Twice a week I work out twice a day, usually in the morning then in the afternoon either a run then weights or weights then speed work.  Then I have a rest day or two. One thing that is weak in my own program is recovery. YEP, I said it. In fact, it’s probably my biggest weakness. Yep, I said it again. It really takes a lot out of me to focus on this. But I’ve learned over time that it is equally important in order to bounce back well from workouts. That doesn’t mean I get massages every week. I’m on a student on a budget, so that’s not happening! BUT I can do my own job of recovery instead and it starts with a foam roller.

Way back when I started running I was hurting a lot because of a lot of things like not strength training, stretching, and eating well (I ate Bud’s Chicken– a “nice” local fast food drive through post cross country and track meets). One big culprit (although all of them are significant), was foam rolling. I got to college and I had terrible IT Band Syndrome. It was so bad I could hardly walk AND on top of it I was training for my second half marathon. How I did that feeling like sh*t I don’t know but I ran it. Dealing with severe tightness, I learned from a professor I took a class with what foam rolling was. Thank you Exercise Science degree!! 😉 I was so tight and uncomfortable I hated it, but is showed me how much I really needed it and how it important it is to do regularly.

To this day, I’m not great at it, but I do it often enough now that I have my tightness under control and my IT Band Syndrome at bay. I’m still tight there from time to time, but it was WAY more manageable then when I wasn’t doing it at all! I was seriously like a grandma looking back now. How I went that far without rolling was my bad BIG TIME. Sometimes it takes a hard lesson to be reminded how important it is.

Okay, so fast forward to TODAY and I probably roll out two to three times per week. I could more, but I don’t always. I know. I can be better. It is something I struggle with and realize it is something to work on so I try to make it part of my routine somehow. So, I do it before bed as part of my bedtime routine. It takes about fifteen minutes, but it is well worth it. I especially love rolling while watching The Bachelorette or American Ninja Warrior. Roll and watch, it’s a good combination.

If you don’t have a roller and you workout, run, or train multiple days a week rolling is especially beneficial and definitely worth the investment. They come in all different kinds of firmness, treds vs. no treds, brand, etc. However, they are on the pricy side depending on what you’re looking for. I suggest starting with a softer roller (like a pool noodle type softness) and go from there. My favorite is Trigger Point brand recovery tools. They have a great variety for all types of recovery needs! Although I focus on legs, foam rolling can be for all over. If I roll out my whole body, it usually takes a half hour to forty five minutes. I find I have the most amount of time for this on the weekends. During the week I stick with  rolling for about fifteen minutes.

For my routine, this what I do two to three times each week. Starting easy from the bottom and working up or vice versa. Roll a little bit at time, about an inch more in one direction before go back to your starting point. If you feel a particularly tight or tender spot, hold there and breath. I broke it down here, but feel free to check out my video for a visual on Instagram to help get a better idea!

-Starting at the bottom of foot roll five to ten times up and down

-Foam roller under ankle, foot is resting on top, achilles tendon side down:

  • dorsiflex and plantar flex five times
  • circle the ankle in one direction and reverse
  • turn inside then outside ankle to roller and circle one direction and reverse

-Roll up shin to calf until back on knee (it’s safe with light pressure)

-Roll from bottom to top of hamstring up to the glutes

~Switch legs and repeat!~