Health&Fitness Motivation

A Self-Motivator for a Healthy Lifestyle


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Shaping up for Summer

By request of one of my best friends Maddy, who runs the blog Bikinis&Bellinis (http://bikinisandbellinis.wordpress.com/) with her friend Jade, I’m making a post about getting in shape for summer. Clearly there’s a LOT that can go into this, so I’m going to go over a couple of basics about nutrition/dieting, working out and sleep!

 

Nutrition/Dieting

The most important thing here is that you have to eat. Starving yourself is the least effective way to lose weight, especially in a short period of time. You should be eating between 1200-2000 NET calories a day depending on your weight. Net calories mean that if you go to the gym, you should eat the calories you burn back! Not only is it horrible for you to eat too little, but if you love food like I do, you won’t last longer than 5 hours without it, so follow these tips instead.

1) There are a ton of awesome foods that promote weight loss. To name a few: grapefruit, blueberries, eggs, spinach, broccoli and OF COURSE water. Seriously, so many people underestimate the power of drinking a shitton of water every day – it keeps you fuller and healthier while also increasing weight loss results.

2) Create your own detox juice. These can either be water based or fruit and veggie based, depending on the recipes you want to use. If you’re just winging it, some awesome fat burning ingredients include lemon, cayenne pepper, grape fruit, ginger and honey. Here are a couple of awesome recipes from The Cultureist: http://www.thecultureist.com/2013/06/24/10-healthy-juicing-recipes-for-detox-cleanse/.

3) Don’t just look at calories, look at fat and sugar, too! Not too long ago I made a post about 10 “healthy” foods that have more sugar than a Krispy Kreme donut. You might think you’re eating healthy, but it might actually be the diet foods that are making it difficult to lose weight. A lot of the time, reduced fat products have added sugar to make them taste better and even sugar-free diet drinks/foods have all sorts of nasty chemicals in them. Try to stay natural and focus on vegetables and lean protein. Natural sugar from fruits is fine, but not if that’s all you’re eating. Instead of having an apple for a snack, try celery and peanut butter or a hard boiled egg.

4) This is probably the hardest one, but ditch the carbs. If you want to get extreme about it, only eat lean protein and vegetables (Atkins style), but carbs are fine in moderation. Plenty of people don’t realize sugar is a carb (that’s why it’s under the total carbohydrate section of the nutrition label), which means carbo-loading doesn’t just come from bread, but also from sugary flavored yogurts and granola bars.

Working Out

Everyone works out differently and we should because all of our bodies are different. I have an athletic body that bulks up easily, so I focus a lot on leaning my muscle with specific strength training moves and types of cardio. Others, however, need to bulk up a little in order to get a more toned look. Basically, figuring out the right workout plan for you might mean meeting with a trainer or doing some research and trying a couple different things out, but there are a few basics every gym rat should know.

1) Just doing cardio won’t give you results. Strength training is a key part of losing body fat. Muscle diminishes with age, so if you don’t do anything to replace it with lean muscle, it will just turn into fat. This doesn’t mean you have to head to the gym and start bench pressing 200 pounds. There are a ton of strength exercises that don’t require weights, like push ups, squats, crunches and other leg/ab moves.

2) Squats burn calories. More than most other weightless exercises. It’s a miracle, I know. Supposedly the way to calculate calories burned is multiplying your weight by 0.096 and then multiply that by the amount of minutes you squat for. Regardless of exact numbers, though, they’re great for you and will make you butt super toned for summer!

3) Change up your routine. If you keep doing the same exercises over and over, your body adapts and it requires fewer calories to do the exercise. This applies to both weights and cardio. You want to keep your body guessing so that your muscles will burn more calories.

4) Try high intensity interval training for a change. Steady state cardio doesn’t increase your “resting” metabolism and your body adjusts to it quickly. Instead, alternate short intense periods of exercise with longer less intense recovery periods. Here are a couple benefits/tips about HIIT from Shape: http://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/8-benefits-high-intensity-interval-training-hiit

Sleep!

I can’t really list out a series of tips for this one because it pretty much all comes down to the same thing: get sleep. There are a couple of problems with not getting the rest you need. As I talked about in an earlier post, being sleepy actually releases a hormone that makes you hungrier. Even worse, it makes you hungry for fatty and sugary foods. Also, if you don’t get enough sleep your body won’t release as much human growth hormone, which is a serious fat burning agent. Finally, if you’re taking a ton of naps because you aren’t getting the rest you need it’ll throw off your schedule and leave you groggy/slow-moving. That, in turn, slows your metabolism.

 

So yes, summer is coming and it’s terrifying how soon it is, I know. But if you make a healthy, smart game plan and stick to it, you won’t be in bad shape come “pics on the beach” time. Obviously these are just some basics, but there’s a ton of more information out there that will help you achieve your goals, including low-cal cocktails (essential) and killer workout routines to check out. Power through, you won’t regret it!


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Mango Salsa

Guys, it’s finally mango season, which is a big deal for me. Screams summer! Here’s an awesome healthy recipe for mango salsa from cookingjoan.blogspot.com. On top of being a healthy yummy snack on its own, mango salsa tastes mad good in fish tacos and with chicken, so check out some more recipes online!

 

mango salsa

“INGREDIENTS:
1 ripe mango
1 container of grape tomatoes
2 Persian cucumbers (aka mini seedless cucumbers)
2 – 3 stalks of fresh cilantro finely chopped (approximately 2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup of finely chopped red onion (can be a little more or less depending on your taste)
splash of extra virgin olive oil
splash of rice vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

Peel mango and chop into small pieces. Place in a large mixing bowl.

Finely chop cucumbers. Keep the skin on. Persian cucumbers have a thin skin that is crisp, delicious and nutritious. I usually cut the cucumbers into 1/8ths lengthwise creating long strips and then chop. Chop tomatoes. I usually chop the tomatoes into 1/4s. Add everything to the mixing bowl.

Very finely chop the onion and cilantro. Add both to the mixing bowl.

Drizzle in a small amount of olive oil and rice vinegar, about 1 teaspoon each (you can always add more later if you want and you will find that the mango and tomatoes have their own natural juices so you don’t want to over saturate the mix).

Sprinkle in some salt and pepper and mix.

Set it out for your guests with chips (tastes great with Bad Joan’s Ezekiel Chips). Or store it in a plastic container in the refrigerator and snack on it over a couple of days.

I don’t know about you but I love to snack all day, so having some of this mango salsa in the fridge helps me make a much healthier but still satisfying snack choice!”


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Updates

Everything’s been so hectic lately. I only have 3 weeks left until I’m done with my first year of college and finally get to transfer back to the east coast. I’m cooking at my friend’s place tomorrow night and we’re going to try out a new recipe so I’ll be sure to upload post dinner! I’m expecting to be posting a LOT more during summer when I actually have time to cook/don’t feel like focusing on my job. Speaking of job! I decided to delay my personal training certification and pursue an offer to work as the communications intern for the National Organization for Women. Don’t get me wrong, I love food, but I love women’s rights even more. So, for the time being, I’m going to be keeping up my blog as a slightly obsessive hobby and something to keep me busy during my 9-5 shifts (ugh). Can’t wait to try out tons of new recipes and upload them here! Check back in a couple weeks for a lot more blog traffic 🙂


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Skinny Chicken Marsala

No words for how happy I am to be home, and it’s looking promising that I might be able to work at a gym in DC this summer while I get certified as a personal trainer! To celebrate, I bought a bottle of rosé and set out on a quest to find a healthy but satisfying meal for dinner. I settled on a recipe for light chicken marsala and it was the right decision, so I thought I’d share it with all of you!

 

What you’ll need:

1/4 cup flour

1/4 tsp basil

1/4 tsp oregano

1/2lb mushrooms (sliced)

1 cup marsala wine

1.25 lb boneless chicken tenders or breast (I did tenders so I could eat less without ruining leftovers)

What to do: combine the flour, basil, oregano and any salt/pepper you want for flavor in a medium bowl. Melt butter over medium heat and add 1 tbsp of olive oil. Rinse the chicken in cool water and coat it in the flour mixture. Then, put the tenders in the pan and sauté them on one side for 5 minutes. When you flip them, add the mushrooms and marsala wine, cover the pan and let it simmer for roughly 10 minutes.

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As simple as that! I made baked paleo sweet potato fries as my side, but I think a green vegetable would have been a better combo. More recipes on the way from today!


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Airport Eats

Happy Friday! Today’s a travel day for me. I’m heading back to DC to see the fam! I also have an interview set up with a gym Saturday where I might be able to work a part-time desk job and become a mentoree of a personal trainer while I get certified. Definitely the first job interview I’ve been asked to wear comfy athletic clothing to 🙂 The inspiration behind this post, then, is healthy eating in airports. Travel days are definitely some of my biggest cheat days. It can be so difficult to find a sit down place that has healthy options, but it’s also bad to fill up on snacks from the gift store. Here’s some advice about staying on track:

1. Stay away from Wolfgang Puck. Don’t even try to justify it to yourself. A whole thin-crust pizza can get up to roughly 1000 calories. They manage to make a side caesar salad over 300 calories. Everything is drenched in condiments or dressing or fatty oils. Be warned. 

2. Go the extra walkway for good food. Just because a snack store is closest to your gate, doesn’t mean it’s your best bet. If you can find a Starbucks, Au Bon Pain or really any other kind of wrapped sandwich/granola bar kiosk place, go! You can get a huge cup of fruit for roughly 110 calories – it’ll fill you up and stop any sweets cravings you’re getting from walking past all the unhealthy, fast food places. You can also find small healthy snacks like veggie sticks or pretzels with hummus. 

3. Read the labels. Just because a sandwich claims to be as simple as turkey and cheese on wheat, it might have a ton of added sugars, salt and condiments. Check the calorie count, but also the amount of fiber, the total carbs (especially the sugars) and the ingredients. Aim for simple buys. 

4. Pack ahead. You can’t bring liquids through security, but food is fair game. Fill a pocket of your carry on with a few baggies of snacks that you can eat guilt free. Nuts, fruit, trail mix or some other combination will keep you full, let you munch and prevent you from having to eat unhealthy food. Not to mention, your wallet will thank you. 

5. If you’re going to snack, snack, but be smart. While nuts and granola bars aren’t the best, they aren’t the worst, either. Don’t immediately reach for the king size bag of m&ms – you’ll definitely regret it later. Also, they won’t keep you as full as long, and then you’ll end up eating even more. 

Safe and healthy travels, all 🙂 


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Super Salad

This salad from http://www.thefirstmess.com/ is definitely the right call. Look at all those killer ingredients and super foods! The wonders of kale ❤

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“salad ingredients:
1 bunch of kale, leaves chopped kinda small
1 broccoli branch/segment, florets finely chopped
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper (I used Himalayan pink salt–any old salt is fine)
1 small beet (red or golden or striped), thinly sliced
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 ripe avocado, peeled + sliced
1-2 sprigs of basil, chopped
handful of blueberries

blueberry ginger dressing ingredients:
heaped 1/4 cup blueberries
1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled + chopped
2 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup
big splash of water
salt + pepper
1/4 cup oil (grapeseed or extra virgin olive oil)

omega seed sprinkle ingredients:
handful sunflower seeds
handful pumpkin seeds
1-2 tbsp flax seeds
1-2 tbsp chia seeds
1-2 tbsp hemp seeds
handful of puffed quinoa (or puffed millet, brown rice etc)
pinch of ground coriander
pinch of salt

In a large bowl, massage the kale and chopped broccoli with the lime juice, salt and pepper. Keep massaging until the leaves seem a bit more tender. Taste a leaf for seasoning, adjust and set aside. Chop and prep all of the other salad ingredients and set aside.

Make the dressing: combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend on high until you have a creamy and unified mixture. Check for seasoning and sweetness, adjust and set aside.

In a medium sauté pan, combine all of the omega seed sprinkle ingredients over medium heat. Stir them around here and there until they smell toasty and the coriander is a bit more prominent. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Arrange the massaged kale and broccoli on your serving plate. Top the greens with the beets, carrots, avocado, chopped basil, and blueberries. Season the whole thing with salt and pepper again. Stir up the dressing (it should have thickened a bit) and drizzle it all over the top and garnish the salad with the omega seed sprinkle. Serve it up!”