Mistakes you’re making…in the gym.

Although most of my fitness routines up until a few years ago have been monitored and created through my participation in athletics, my knowledge in what is most effective has still been a roller coaster ride just like everyone else’s. You hear one thing, read another…it can be incredibly confusing and frustrating – especially when you’re not seeing results. SO, I decided to create a 3-part series with my blog to share what I’ve learned and prevent you from making the same mistakes that so many people (including myself) get trapped into. I’m starting with mistakes in the gym, but will continue on with mistakes in the kitchen and finally…in the diet. Because we’re all in this together and I want YOU to be able to get the most out of your time and effort at the gym…and beyond! Enjoy:)

Mistake # 1: You “don’t have time” to get a good workout in

Excuses, excuses, excuses!!! First of all, something is always better than nothing. Second, you can get a great workout in in as little as 20 minutes! Ever heard of HIIT? (high intensity interval training) Listen up…

Anytime you head into a workout, keep in mind this quote, “Fitness is intensity dependent, not time dependent.” While low-intensity cardio may burn you a few calories during the time being, it is overall not very effective and let’s be honest…so BORING! High intensity intervals, even for as little as 15 minutes, requires effort and oxygen that will not only burn more calories in the moment, but it will also keep your body working and burning calories for up to 48 hours after your workout. Learn more about this concept of EPOC (excess post-exercise energy consumption) and EPOC training here (http://www.bloomtofit.com/epoc-training).

So while I do applaud the fact you decided to spend time on the elliptical as opposed to the couch…the fact you can read and chat with your neighbor while working out is your first red flag. Second red flag is that it took you over an hour to get a work out in. I’m here to break it to you that while you were fluffing around at a slow, steady pace for 2 hours, I got a 20 minute high-intensity interval training workout done and am on to the rest of my day. So the next time you hear someone say they spent “so much time” at the gym, don’t be so impressed! Finding workouts like these are as simple as googling, “(insert amount of time) HIIT training workouts”. Don’t have a gym? Add “at-home” to that Google search and get rid of those excuses for good! Quality over quantity – engrain that in your mind.

Mistake #2: You think quantity is greater than quality

This concept of quality over quantity also applies to lifting and performing exercises. A lot of people sacrifice quality form in order to perform more. Let me tell you that while you may be pounding out a large number, if you’re not using proper form you will not only hurt yourself, but you’ll also be missing out on the many benefits these exercises are intended to give. If it means going down a few pounds on your weights, so be it – you will look a lot less cool trapped under a bench press than you will with a few less weights…and I bet those heavy plates on the sides of your bar will be a lot less appealing once you throw your back out. Point is, toss  your pride aside and do your research on the exercises you’re performing. Be smart and do them right to maximize your muscle gain, fitness potential, and prevent injuries from keeping you out of the gym.

Mistake #3: You’re relying on machines for strength training

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but those machines that are all lined up at the gym are providing you more rest than they are anything else. They isolate movements, restricting your natural range of motion and prohibiting your body from fully engaging. As a general rule of thumb, stick to dumbbells, kettle bells, bars, med balls, bands, and BODY WEIGHT exercises to keep you on the right track. You want to maximize your results by engaging as many parts of the body at one time as possible, so don’t you think an exercise that begins with you sitting down is probably not a good start?

Mistake #4: You repeat the same routine over, and over, and over

Okay, so above all else…heading to the gym is supposed to be fun! How are you supposed to be motivated to get to the gym if things are never new and exciting? Between the classes I attend and the workouts I self-create, I’m always heading to the gym with something a little different than the time before. Granted, it is beneficial to bring the same workouts around to track your progress…but if you’re doing the same routine for more than 3 weeks, I would suggest switching it up to keep things interesting, prevent overuse injuries, and continue to challenge your body.

Mistake #5: You’re overestimating how hard you’re working

As much as we want to believe the treadmill really does do magic and can accurately calculate our calories burned, chances are it’s incorrect. The only true way to tell how hard you are working is by measuring your heart rate. There are lots of fun devices and gadgets to help you track this as you workout, including Polar-brand watches and products like my new Micoach Adidas HR monitor (thanks, mom and dad!) that syncs to my phone. Find your target heart rate zones and monitor yourself through your workout to get the most of your time in the gym…and better yet, an accurate calorie reading!

Mistake #6: You’re doing isolated exercises

We’ve all fallen into this trap at one point or another. We do a million crunches expecting to eventually get those six-pack abs…and a good looking rear-end is the result of a few donkey kicks…right? NO! Isolated exercises simply don’t burn enough calories and your body works as a whole, so the more functional, full-body exercises you can incorporate into your regimen…the better. Engaging your whole body is a huge metabolism booster and will get your heart rate up so you can burn more calories. More calories burned, the thinner that layer of fat lying over your muscles will become. That fat will not disappear by doing isolated exercises. Get your cardio in, and use as many full-body-strengthening exercises as you can!

Mistake #7: You wear baggy clothes to the gym, and beyond

Ladies and gents, let how you look be motivation for you whether it’s trying to revamp whose in the mirror or maintain it. I realize not everyone grew up in a pair of spandex like I did, but hiding who you are under baggy clothes isn’t the way to go. Switch from sweats to a pair of shorts, or even just short-sleeves. If you’re feeling up to it, get some tight-fitting workout gear and watch them start to fit you differently as you tone up. Think about it…are you motivated to do anything when you wear sweats? Camp out, watch a movie, grab some snacks…that’s about it. Give yourself even more reason to get to the gym by investing in some new gear and for goodness sakes stop hiding yourself under all those clothes!

Mistake #8: You don’t plan ahead

We’ve all said it before…“I’ll figure it out at the gym”. A crucial mistake many people make is failing to PLAN. A good way to avoid this trap is go to bed with your bag packed, meal laid out (if you go in the morning), and workout ready to go. Not doing these things gives you waaaay too much wiggle room. Next thing you know you created an excuse, pushed your workout to “another time” or maybe you actually did make it to the gym but had no idea what you were going to do and wasted half your time figuring it out. This is one reason why classes are nice because the instructor does the hard work for you…but if you’re doing your own thing, plan ahead and have your workout laid out before you even head out the door. I only have 45 gym-minutes in the morning before I have to start heading to work, so making the most of my time at the gym is crucial. I head to bed with my workout already mapped out so I can get up, get on my way, and pound it out. Fail to plan, plan to fail.

Mistake #9: You’re camped out on a cardio machine

Although cardio is an important part of the weight loss equation, it is most certainly not the only part. I will admit going through this phase…but I’m so glad I’ve learned and moved away from this mindset! Girls: lifting weights and strengthening your body isn’t going to make you “big”. We simply don’t have the testosterone that men do to bulk up with big muscles. But what it will do is tone you up and help you achieve your weight-loss goals by BURNING MORE CALORIES! Yes, that’s right. Muscle burns up to 3x as many calories at rest than fat, so start taking those selfie flex pictures and see your muscles grow!

Mistake #10: You’re not competitive

I realize not everyone so easily has this gene…but I assure you it’s in there somewhere and is a crucial ingredient in your fitness journey. Let the ripped, tan, marathon-runner to your side be nothing more than motivation. Find someone around you to compete with, even if it’s as simple as competing with yourself. Make it a goal to improve every single week and be motivated by even the smallest progress. Progress is progress whether it’s a pound or just a second better than the week before. People will see your habits change and try to drag you down with negativity and doubt. Use it as motivation and PROVE THEM WRONG. This is a huge one for me. There is no bigger motivation than someone telling me I can’t do something. College taught me a lot about mental toughness. I pride myself in knowing that my body can do whatever my mind tells it. I believe 100% that your biggest tool is above your shoulders. You’ve heard the quote – “Whether you tell yourself you can, or you tell yourself you can’t….you’re right.” Now light a fire under your tush and GET AFTER IT! 🙂

Mistake #11: You’re on someone else’s plan

This goes for your diet as well, but finding a workout routine catered to your OWN self is so important in creating a healthy lifestyle. Just because your friend can pound out 4 miles on a treadmill and look great doesn’t mean it’s for you. There are lots of ways to get good exercise and build strength so don’t ever think there’s a one-way street to being fit. Some people just aren’t meant to run distance. Some people aren’t designed to be good sprinters. In fact, some of you just aren’t runners at all!! Maybe you can tear it up in the pool or on the bike. Like to dance? Sounds like zumba may be up your alley. Need some stress relief? Try kickboxing. Whatever it may be, find your niche and what drives you and motivates you to get your sweat on.  

Mistake #12: You’re underestimating the role of your diet

In my opinion, this is the BIGGEST factor that holds people back from accomplishing their goals. The minute you start treating food as fuel and stop treating your body like a waste basket, you will not only feel better, but you’ll finally get to see your results pay off. Nothing is more frustrating than feeling like you’re putting in work and getting nothing out of it. I’ve always worked out and been active, but I was oblivious for so many years as to what my poor eating was (or wasn’t) doing for me. I promise you that eating clean will be the best and most rewarding change you ever make. Good habits are just as addictive as bad habits but MUCH more rewarding…so stop making trips to the gym out of guilt and start rewarding your body with exercise instead of food.

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I eat clean because I want to see results, I want to feel good, and I want to stick around for awhile. Although my fitness routine IS much more focused now than it was before, it’s my eating habits that have allowed me to finally look like I work out….and nothing is more motivating than seeing your hard work pay off. Progress is addicting, so cling to every bit that you have.

Stay tuned for the next parts of this “mistakes” series. Meanwhile, is it seriously almost February? Happy Friday!

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New recipes:

Breakfast Quiche (I’ve literally had this everyday as a mid-morning snack!)

Breakfast Smoothie

Blueberry Quinoa Flake Bake

Spinach Berry Smoothie

Avocado Hummus Dip

New workouts:

Run-Strength Circuit

Sweaty Circuit

Competitive Point-Driven Circuit

Tabata Treadmill Interval

 

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Top 10 wellness “go-tos”

We all have our staples. Our go-tos. Items that, when removed from our life, would cause a ripple in our routine and a little/lot of anxiety. Sometimes these are negative things, somehow making their way onto a New Year’s resolution every year…but they can also be good things. Things that help us create healthy rhythms and accomplish our goals.

That being said, I’m dedicating this post to my own personal set of go-tos – focusing on the items that keep my food and fitness tickin…because who needs to know my naughty list anyway?

  1. My lulu pants. The most comfortable, sweatable, and loungable things I own. From my astro pants that once were form-fitting and now serve as sweatpants – to my wunderunders that get worn everywhere from the gym to my couch to a base layer under my ski pants. A little pricey compared to your local Target knock-offs, but a very high-quality product that, for me, gets their moneys worth within a week!
  2. Nike Fuelband. Something so attached to me I ended up taking this “water resistant” wristlet for a “water proof” spin in the pool a few times. It managed to stay alive for a few months before I had to say my goodbyes and try to make the nice list for Christmas. Turns out I made the cut (thanks mom and dad!) and now have some new white wrist-candy to fill the naked feeling. Check out more about what this band is all about at the link above…but a quick synopsis is it tracks your activity throughout the day, including steps and calories, while also doubling as a watch. By the simple click of a button you get an awesome display that shows you all of your statistics as well as progress towards your goal.Nike Fuelband
  3. Loseit! App. Having an application on my phone allows me easy access to tracking my food throughout the day (and exercise if I were to choose). I’m never without my phone, therefore never without an excuse:)
  4. Nike training club. Another application for my phone that provides numerous workouts doable both at-home and in the gym. Other fitness applications included in this go-to category include: nike running, iwod fitness, bodyrock, sworkit, workouts, and ab workouts. There are millions out there for you to download…notice how your excuses are slowly being weeded out?
  5. PINTEREST! My oh my what was the world even like before this beautiful website? A hub of ideas for absolutely anything, and the ability to pin these ideas to your own digital corkboard. It’s like google, but better…because pictures are involved. I’m always on here looking for recipe and workout motivation. Check out reaganrambler’s pinterest board here – and begin your very own pinterest journey! I’d also sneak Instagram on this number, because it’s similar in that you can explore everything, have a feed with only people you choose to follow, and share things yourself! As many of you know who follow me, I love using my instagram to share recipes and workouts as well as find them from other people! Don’t have instagram? Download the phone application now and follow me at eblank1…often times I’ll post recipes there before I do on here.
  6. PB2. I’ve already dedicated an entire post to this love story. No need to waste your time twice.
  7. Fage 0% plain greek yogurt. We buy 3-4 TUBS a week and still manage to run out. Besides the obvious use of serving as yogurt, I also use this as a healthy substitute in baking/cooking.  Dips? Yep. Sour cream? Pshhh, this stuff is waaaay better. Never ever will you find me without this in my fridge. Great source of protein!
  8. Water bottle. Most people do the triple-pat before they leave the house – keys, wallet, phone. My triple-pat goes phone, keys, and… bottle. Water has SO many benefits for you! Next time you think you’re hungry, down a glass of water and see how you feel. A lot of times your body just needs water! First thing in the morning drink a glass of water and see your breakfast intake go down. Feeling sick? Drink up – water keeps your system working and will help flush those nasty germs right out of you. But why wait ‘til you’re on your deathbed to start? Drinking cold water will aid in keeping your metabolism up and is guaranteed to make you feel better throughout the day (or your money back).
  9. Scale. More-so my kitchen scale but I’ll go ahead and throw the bathroom scale in there, too. Being able to accurately measure portions leaves the guessing out of how much you’re eating. Not to mention you can easily convert portions when you’re not sure how much “10 oz” is and you need it in a recipe. Beware of sticking too close to your bathroom scale, as your goals are about much more than weight (muscle weighs more than fat!). Focus on how your clothes feel and how you look. It is, however, a good idea to keep an eye on it. Pay attention to weeks at a time, though, not days…and be sure to weigh-in at the same time – I (and Dr. Oz) would suggest in the morning after you’ve gone to the bathroom but before you’ve had that first glass of water (ahem, #8).
  10. Last but most certainly not least is…oatmeal! If you’ve even briefly viewed my recipes you will surely have already seen this coming. Not only is it incredibly nutritious and filling, it’s versatile. I’ll eat it cold as overnight oats, hot with a few egg whites, throw it in a smoothie, use it in pancakes, grind it and use it as flour…the options are endless!

There you have it. My top 10, so-to-speak. Honorable mention includes almond milk (this really probably should have made the list), sweet potatoes, headbands, and spandex. What are some of YOUR fitness/food staples?

Before I wrap up with my newly added recipes and workouts, I have to share this restaurant story. Over the holiday, my in-laws were in town and we all went to dinner at a very nice Mexican-themed restaurant. They had a lot of healthy options available, all I needed was a simple side swap (can I get some veggies instead of the beans?) or clarification on what something on the menu was. All to which our waitress struggled to answer and in the end I wasn’t even sure what I ordered. It was all just horribly confusing and much harder than it needed to be. Well, as Tyler would say…sometimes when you’re a health nut and ask too many questions the waitress just throws her hands up and brings you a side salad and a plate of salmon. I couldn’t believe it. The salad was the size of my hand.  Luckily, the salmon was at least a hearty portion and somewhat worth the price of an entrée that I ended up getting charged. My goodness, people…throw me a bone!! (literally)

Pathetic MealIn other news, who knew spinach could spice up canned soup so much? I got lazy with food prep one night  last week and decided to throw a can of chicken noodle soup in my lunch bag. Decided I could spruce it up by throwing some spinach in, too. Turned out awesome! You’d never know it came out of a can!

Also supporting me in my wellness goals this week – my husband -because I sure as heck didn’t put a snickers in my bag of eggs.

Alright, time to tackle the rest of this Saturday. Be sure to check out some new recipes and workouts from this week:

Pumpkin Mousse Cake

Chocolate Mousse Cake

Strawberry Banana Protein Smoothie

Chocolate/PB Almond Clusters

Sweet Potato/Banana Scramble

Simple Crockpot Chili

Quinoa/Black Rice Omelet

Spaghetti Squash Veggie/Rice Mix

Sweet Potato/Quinoa Patty

Crispy Zucchini “Fries”

Arm Burning, Total-Body Workout

The Sedentary Battle

After a week of early morning in-house workouts during Thanksgiving, Tyler and I decided that instead of continuing to wake him and the neighbors up with my double-unders in the garage, we should start a new routine of hitting the gym together in the morning. Our gym offers a few early TRX classes that we wanted to try, and who doesn’t love getting their workout out of the way before the day even begins?

It was our first week trying out TRX and it will most certainly not be our last. If you haven’t given TRX a try before, I highly recommend it. The different exercises that are incorporated using these ropes engage your entire body and strengthen your core in nearly every move. One of our workouts was themed around the “12 days of Christmas”. We had 12 exercises to complete (see picture below) and we began with only the first one. Next we did exercises 1 and 2. Then 1,2,3. 1,2,3,4. All the way up to 12…just like the song! I thought this was so creative – what a fun way to bring the Christmas spirit into the gym! Try this on your own and come up with your own 12 exercises!

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Even with a solid gym session under my belt, I still feel like a lazy pile when work keeps me sitting…a feeling most people can relate to. I recently read that sitting for more than 6 hours a day can increase your risk of dying (of any disease) by 40%. If that doesn’t get you going, check out this article that talks about the risks behind a sedentary lifestyle: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/standing-desk. Being that a majority of people have sedentary jobs or jobs that keep them behind a desk all day, I decided to start paying attention to my own ways of keeping my blood pumpin’ and create a list of simple yet effective ways to keep you feeling good throughout the day…

1. You may have just gotten up and yes, it may be 5 degrees outside…but park farther away than you usually do. The circles you’re making in the parking lot waiting for rockstar parking aren’t saving you time anyway.

2. Stay hydrated. Always keep a bottle of water on-hand. Keeping yourself properly hydrated does wonders for your health, and by flushing your system it keeps your body working and metabolism high. It also will help segway you into your next activity…

3. Bathroom trips! Choose a bathroom that requires a little walk. Granted, there’s no need to hike to the next building…but take the opportunity to stretch your legs and maybe visit a few co-workers along the way. Once you make it there, choose the farthest stall. As ridiculous as it sounds, if you get into the habit of choosing the last stall over the first, the steps will start to add up!

4. Stand up. Standing will not only burn you more calories than sitting, but it will also help improve your posture and reduce stiffness in your body throughout the day.

5. Ahh, you made it to lunch. Ok, so maybe you have a job where you’re already on your feet all day and you cherish your 30 minutes over the noon hour to sit down and relax…but for the rest of us – get out of the office! It’s refreshing to leave the atmosphere of your work space and can also provide a great opportunity to get moving. Take a 30 minute walk or shop a nearby store.

6. Stop taking the elevator! You do realize that by the time the elevator gets to your floor, you could have already been where you want to be, right? Take the stairs!! Once you get into this habit, it will be hard to break.

7. Walk and talk. We all know the image…talking on the phone, feet kicked up, finger twirling around the receiver cord. Think about how long your phone conversations typically last and how you probably can be caught complaining about how you don’t have enough time in the day to be active. Lets kill two birds with one stone here. Graze while you chat and earn some bonus points.

8. Take a field trip. Instead of calling, emailing, or texting the person you’re trying to reach…walk yourself over and get some face-time. Hand-delivering messages goes beyond getting your legs moving – it’s also a great way to stay personable with the people around you. Send your next report to a further printer and mingle along the way.

9. Replace your chair with a large stability ball, or get one of these: http://www.mansionathletics.com/exercise-ball-chair-80625-cardio-stability-balls.html?channelid=GoogleAdwords&gclid=CNPZ7OD0krQCFck7Mgoddk8AKg

Some of you may be reading and thinking “pshhhh, I get such a good workout in before/after work…I don’t need to worry about anything.” But it doesn’t matter! Just because you got some activity in during another part of your day doesn’t reduce the risk of being sedentary for long periods of time. This is one reason why I love my Nike FuelBand. There’s also lots of other devices and tools that track activity, but this has so far been my favorite. It tracks your activity throughout the day and allows you to set a goal and see your progress by one simple press of a button on your bracelet. Mine has recently passed away (insert crying sad faces) after a few too many accidental trips to the pool…but if I’m nice the next few weeks I think Santa may sneak one under my tree! If you’re still Christmas shopping, consider one of these (FuelBand, Up Band, Fit Bit, etc) for your active or even non-active friends. It’s a fun way to track activity, compete with others, and get moving!

I hope everyone’s Christmas shopping is going well – only a few more weeks! Eeeeek! The talk of the mountains seems to always be about snow, or lack there-of…and we just got up to 14 inches this last week. So you can imagine spirits are high up here in the Vail Valley.

If you remember last post, I mentioned how much I love my food processor and suggested chopping all of your fresh produce up before the week so you have it on-hand for quick and easy meals. Well, we did just that last week and I just had to capture the beauty:
chopped veggies

Now you all know I’m a big fan of using your phone to track nutrition and help achieve your fitness goals…so I want to share a new find that I’ve been using alongside my calorie counter. It’s called My Daily Plate and it allows you to enter what you are eating to measure how well you are staying balanced and filling in your food pyramid. Take a look at mine so far today:

My Daily Plate

I love this because it helps keep me balanced. I may want oatmeal, fruit, yogurt, and peanut butter all day…but it’s important to spread the love out to other food categories and keep a balanced diet.

At the gym today, I ran into a lady doing bicep curls and bench press with her baby sitting right beside her. I had to creep a picture because I think this is just awesome. NO EXCUSES! This baby is already on its way to a healthy lifestyle! She even played with her in between sets! Super mom!!

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That’s all I really have for you this week. Check out the new recipes added below, and don’t forget to follow my instagram (eblank1) and twitter (eblank1) accounts for more recipes, workouts, and random things in between! I’ll leave you with a few pictures from Tyler’s Holiday work party this weekend in Loveland. It was cowboy themed…so we scrounged up some outfits to try and fit in. I made it a Saturday fatterday by trying a little bit of every dessert on the table (thankfully, the other women at the table also wanted to do the same thing)…how cute are those cookies?!! Happy hump day everyone!

holiday cookies

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New Recipes (click on the picture):

Instant Healthy Chocolate Cake Pretzel Hugs Apple fries Hawaiian Cauliflower Crust Pizza Sweet Potato Turkey Shepherds Pie





With snow comes ski conditioning…and cookies.

Let me bring you to now. Sitting upstairs in our painful bright-yellow office room (played up to our best ability as a “panther” room despite the gross mismatch of yellows), digesting my oatmeal array of breakfast and mentally preparing for my ski conditioning class in an hour. As I mentioned in my last post, Tyler and I finally got our hands on a gym membership. After almost settling for a small (yet nice) workout facility in Eagle, we caught wind about a bigger, better facility in Gypsum about 10 miles away. Bigger and better is quite the understatement. In fact, the size of this could probably compete with the entire population of Eagle. It’s been a great investment, especially as the snow starts to roll in outside (and yes, it has started). Not that I don’t like doing in-house workouts, but I like some variety and unless I’m going to bundle up as the Michelin man – running outside will soon not be an option. Plus, I wanted a chance to get to meet some new people.

SO, as new Gypsum Recreation Center members *flashes badge*, we now have access to an indoor track, indoor swimming pool (with a slide, lazy pool, and hot tub in addition to lanes – whaaat!), rock climbing wall, large assortment of cardio machines, free weights, equipment, lifting platforms and racks, basketball/volleyball courts, and even a gymnastic area (I’ve only seen it used by kid’s classes but that wouldn’t stop me from channeling my inner Shawn Johnson should I get the urge). Besides all of this, perhaps the most beneficial factor this gym has to offer is the classes. I mentioned last week that Tyler and I did a spinning class together, which was brutal, but what I’ve started to really get into is their ski conditioning class. A fancy, mountain-name for something that is much like cross-fit. It’s an hour of complete butt-kicking and I love it. Each class, each week, each day, is different and challenging in its own way…but the theme remains the same. One day of the week is an endurance day, testing how quickly you can get through a specified exercise. Another is a strength day, usually a circuit focused less on time or reps and more on weight and quality of form. Lastly, there’s a power circuit day, where you are given a circuit to continuously go through for about 30 minutes – and you’re counting and competing for the number of times you can get around the circuit. I love workouts like these because you have people around you to compete with and it continually challenges you to get better. Reminds me a lot of what we did in college, but not at 6,000 feet. Sea level is for sissies:) Here’s a look at some recent workouts this past week:

These were all challenging in their own aspect, but that middle one was killer and not just because it was Monday. Our warm-up on the bottom was enough to get us sweating, then we jumped into our time challenges. First was 40/40, where we had to do 40 TRX rows and 40 TRX atomic push-ups as quickly as possible. Next was 40/40/40, the same first 2 40’s with an added 40 of TRX squat jumps. The last 40/40/40/40 was the previous 3 with an added 40 burpees. We recorded split times as we went along so we could see how our splits stacked up to the previous rounds. Although having an instructor with you is great for challenges and workouts like this, it’s not necessary…you can easily do this on your own in the gym or even at home, as long as you have a stopwatch. Don’t have equipment? Fill in bodyweight exercises like some sort of pushup, lunge, squat, jump, or anything else that challenges you. You’re one excuse away from having a good workout and feeling great so don’t let the little things get in the way! Be creative and push yourself. Most people think of Pinterest as a creative outlet for food and DIY projects, but you can find lots of good workout ideas on there if you would just get out of the food porn section and head on over to the “health and fitness” category. Not a Pinterest person? There are a ton of good phone applications that can get you moving. Nike Training Club, BodyRock.tv, Workouts, and Sworkit are just a few that I’ve found useful. More of a runner? The Nike running app will track your run, GPS your route, and give you feedback during your run about pace, time, and distance. Like to bike? MapMyRide may be a good choice for you. Take advantage of all the resources you have and remember that everyone has to start somewhere and even if it just means going for a walk it’s better than doing nothing! Just like you should look at the food you eat and think “how will that make me feel after?” , start looking at your workouts that way.

Okay, I’m off my fitness soap box…until next time. And since the next best thing about working out is your post-workout MEAL, I will share with you that there are a few things I need in my kitchen at all times. Plain greek yogurt, almond milk, and oatmeal. Bananas are a close 4th. So, naturally, when I realize we are out of yogurt on my way home from the gym, an immediate trip to CostCo all of a sudden becomes necessary…despite being in spandex. Lets be honest, I learned to deal with the “stares” of wearing spandex everywhere in college. A quick trip to CostCo while it’s snowing is really not an issue.

Sometimes I look back and wonder what the world was like before greek yogurt…what did I eat? Oh yeah, Doritos *sighs in reflection*. I get plain because it’s the most versatile and has less of the processed sugars that the other flavors do. I get greek because it packs more protein and, again, is more versatile. By versatile, I mean you can play it up to be sweet, spicy, tart, tangy – the options are endless by what you choose to mix it with. A few of my favorite combinations are 1) with cocoa powder to make a good chocolate dip 2) with pumpkin, spice, and PB2 (powdered peanut butter) to make a good pumpkin spice dip 3) PLAIN as a veggie dip (when I’m not already using my chili hummus or dill dip) and 4) mashed fresh fruit or fresh jam. Beyond dipping and nibbling, however, it’s an amazing healthy substitution when cooking and baking. Fettucini Alfredo is well-known to be one of the absolute worst items on an Italian menu. It’s also well-known for being absolutely delicious. So you’ll be happy to know that there are healthy recipes out there that can give you both. Like this healthy chicken alfredo dish in my recipes that uses greek yogurt as a main ingredient in the sauce. For other ways to make healthy greek substitutions, print this chart out and stick it on your fridge for reference:

Okay, I need to be cut off. I’m telling you I could blab forever about this stuff because I want everyone to be educated. I’ve come to realize the switches to eating cleaner and feeling/looking better are so simple and easy, but most of us just don’t take the time to figure it out. So this is me trying to do my part and help you get on the right track. Long-term success and a starting a healthy lifestyle begins in simple steps like being aware of the things you’re putting in your body. An application I preach about is called Fooducate. It’s an app that reads the barcode of your food or drink item and grades it, telling you what is good & bad about it and even providing healthier alternatives to what you scanned. Another good one is ShopWell, which is more directed towards those who are watching certain areas of their diet (like sugar, calories, fat, or salt). It scans food just like the other, but grades it based on what you are or aren’t trying to stay away from. Do be aware that once you start, you will never shop the same again…like this guy below who I found wandering off trying to find the worst thing in the store (he started with queso dip – not a bad start). You also will likely be found digging through your entire pantry in search of anything and everything with a barcode to find out what you’ve really been doing to yourself all these months. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Other exciting things this week included…

VOTING! Whoooo! One step closer to an ad-free inbox. But in all seriousness, I want all of you complainers out there to know that you are actually more annoying than the people who are voicing their opinions because you know what? People who feel strongly about the election feel strongly about their country and where it is headed. It’s a reflection of someone who cares about their country and exercises a right that not many people in this world have. So stop your yapping and get to the polls. As always, this week was filled with lots of food. Because I like to live and food helps me do that. So check out the latest additions to the recipe pages this week:

Quinoa Mac n’ Cheese

Pumpkin Oat Chocolate (Carob) Chip Cookies


Margherita & BBQ Roasted Corn (cauliflower-crust) pizza

Slow cooker turkey white bean pumpkin chili & Peach Cobbler

But better YET, check out the new ReaganRambler Pinterest page! I know how much I use Pinterest to bring up recipes in the kitchen, so I thought what better way to help out you AND me by creating this page? Also be sure to re-pin your favorites and spread the love around cyberspace. More people trying recipes = more critiques = better recipes = better food = happier people.

Okay, so I have to admit this post got severely delayed throughout the day. I am no longer digesting breakfast and am instead actually hungry for dinner. But anyways, my mom gets in tomorrow to visit Tyler and I – praying we get some nice weather to go hit the trails. Happy Friday everyone! Enjoy the weekend!!