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.

IMG_9186

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!

IMG_9195

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

 

Advertisements

Wrapping & Resolutions

Am the only one who wishes Christmas fell in different seasons around the world so I could make a living as a traveling gift wrapper?

As my loving husband will be quick to tell you, I love all things wrapping. All the festive paper, shiny bows, pretty ribbon, gift tags…all outlets for my Christmas spirit and creativity to let loose. Hit the Christmas music and I’m in the zone. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a house where my mom would label her wrapping room as “Santa’s workshop” and I’d cherish the moments I got to jump in and help. Or maybe it’s the perfection she had with her presents, and the beautiful display of what was *probably way too many presents* under the tree and in our stockings. Either way, I fully own the fact that passing the gift-wrapping section of the store does give me that feeling that most women get when walking by shoes (they never have 10.5s anyways)…and if it’s reversable paper yes, I’ll buy it. But my husband can grumble all he wants because at the end of the day, he’s opening presents on Christmas.

how precious are these reindeer?!

how precious are these reindeer?!

annnd we're still using the wedding ribbon in December.

annnd we’re still using the wedding ribbon in December.

While I may be getting highs finding shiny bows and gift tags, the rest of America is likely getting highs off of normal things like cookies and other holiday-related food. Despite our desperate attempts to convincing ourselves that there’s some nutrition behind that slice of fruit cake and glass of egg nog, the holidays just aren’t meant to be friends with your diet. Lucky for you, though, they are meant to indulge and enjoy. The health nut in me would love to now segway into how to limit those holiday cravings but I’m instead going to skip towards the next American trend: New Year’s resolutions.

We all have them. Not always health-related, but since New Years conveniently follows a month of holiday indulgences and predecesses warmer weather and less clothing…the resolutions usually tend to aim that direction. Unfortunately, there are more of these that fizzle out than that which truly last, so I wanted to share some insight on how to not only make those changes happen, but make them last.

1. Create your resolution for the right reason. It’s great you want to look good in a bikini for Spring Break…but how about the rest of the year? Doesn’t a lifetime of health, happiness, and feeling good sound much more appealing? Make it about the long-term from the get go.

2. Be realistic. Create small goals that lead up to your ultimate goal to be sure you’re creating an attainable resolution. You know better than anyone else what your limits are. Starting small will help give you the confidence that you can make a change. Progress is the greatest motivator there is, so allow yourself to have it by not shooting beyond the stars.

3. Make it about you. You’re doing this for yourself and no one else. If it’s not you who gets to feel good about the results, what motivation is there?

4. Patience. Progress that sticks is gradual. I think back to how I lost my weight recently – what started out as just wanting to look and feel better by eating right turned into weight being shed off of me I didn’t even know I had to lose. Yes, I lost around 20 pounds…but that was over 5-6 months and never happened in more than maybe a pound a week. If you’re looking to lose a drastic amount of weight or change your diet, sometimes you can lose a lot of weight in the first couple of weeks…but as your body adapts to this new routine it will slow down and that’s no reason to get frustrated! Healthy weight loss is measured in only a pound or two a week. This applies to all types of goals, however. Stay patient and focus on what progress you are making as opposed to what progress you have left.

5. Dedication. “Whatever you choose, do it fully with a passion and child-like enthusiasm.” -Dr. Oz. I love this quote. Go after your goals with FIRE and stick to it. Choose a resolution you’re excited about. Making goals out of guilt isn’t the road to follow. Example: okay so yes, you ate your weight in Christmas ham this holiday season…don’t let your unbuttoned jeans be the sole motivation for a change.

6. Compete with yourself. Keep track of your progress, no matter what your resolution may be. Work to beat those numbers. Why is Jim Carrey’s voice coming to me – “I’m kickin’ my own ass…do ya mind?!” (Liar Liar)

If anyone is thinking of creating a health/food/fitness related resolution and wants some help in what direction to go or where to start, I would be more than happy to help you out…just send me a message or leave me a comment!

I found these quotes this week and absolutely love both of them. Perfect way to send you all off…

IMG_8497

IMG_8597

Happy happy holidays everyone…I unfortunately work Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Years Eve and New Years Day sooo insert thumbs up here. But hey, I’ll be making money while you all lose it! Glass is half full!

Some new recipes:

Pumpkin Cranberry Overnight Oats

Pumpkin Raisin Pecan Overnight Oats

Breakfast Cookies

Salmon & cheese filled spinach egg-white omelet

Turkey Veggie Omelet

No-bake chocolate PB granola bites

Cauliflower “fried” rice

Skinny Alfredo Sauce **I made this two nights in a row…so good!

…and an added workout.

ANOTHER great thing I whipped up this week was the shredded chicken below. I saw on Pinterest that an easier way to shred chicken is using your kitchen aid and let me tell you…I am NEVER going back to hand-shredding! All I did with this was threw some frozen chicken in the crockpot with a little chicken broth and marinade. After it cooked about 4 hours I took it out and threw it in the kitchen aid. While it was shredding, I strained the broth to remove the fat and returned it to the pot. After adding the chicken, it all soaked right up and was deeeeelicious. It’s super simple and makes great leftovers to throw in a sandwich, salad, or whatever else. Give it a shot!

Anyways, HAPPY HOLIDAYS from Colorado, which this week included this ‘li

2….I swear this really happened. We have visitors in our yard quite often.


Turkey-inspired kitchen review

Happy Thanksgiving Recovery Week!

Those health-conscious individuals can be found in the gym, attempting to work their way back to feeling good and sweating out all the indulgences of last week. The Betty Crockers will be in the kitchen, trying to duplicate recipes or find ways to use leftovers for the week. Of course there’s also those who see Thanksgiving as nothing more than a step closer to black friday …while everyone was making rounds 2 and 3 through the buffet Thursday, these people were strategizing their plan of attack, planning which deals they would prioritize and which items would be left for cyber monday. Look for this type to be sitting on the couch, admiring all of their Christmas presents wrapped under the tree and recovering from the bruises it took to get them there.

I consider myself to fall in the Betty Crocker category this year, and since Thanksgiving food prep often requires the use of kitchen supplies you likely had to dust off, it had me thinking…how many of those things taking up your precious kitchen space are really worth having? I’ve had the luxury of very generous wedding guests to provide me with many of these household appliances – so I decided to go through some of the bigger appliances in my kitchen, and give them a review. In case you’re considering adding any of these to your Christmas list this year, here is my honest opinion on my…

  • KitchenAid Mixer: 4/5 stars
    • One of the biggest faces in kitchenware and also one of my most anticipated items from my wedding registry. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this and see what it could do. However, I do have to admit the number of times I’ve used this since getting it in July is limited to two hands. It’s best used for large quantities and I am most of the time only cooking for two people. I don’t like to cook more than I want to eat so I mostly have used my mixer only when baking for large groups, or when my ingredients simply cannot be mixed well by hand. For example: my sweet potato casserole. Mashing sweet potatoes, even when cooked, can be tough. In addition, any other dense foods are better off being left to the machine as well. The package comes with multiple attachments to accompany many kinds of mixing, mashing, kneading, and whisking. There are also many attachments that can be purchased as add-ons to help your mixer experience! Although I would have loved having myself a bright pink mixer, our charcoal color has been working just as well. To summarize, I don’t use it as much as I’d like but it’s definitely worth the space it takes up in the cupboard.
  • KitchenAid Food Processor: 4.5/5 stars
    • Many people dismiss investing in a food processor due to the fact they own a blender. But let me tell you it is worth the price (and space) to invest in one. Food processors come in all shapes and sizes and have many different features. My specific one here is pretty hard to beat. It comes with 3 different blades -one for shredding, one for slicing, and one for mixing. All which do so flawlessly. You can set the thickness of the slice or shred to whatever you’d like…making hashbrowns, relish trays, or diced anything is a breeze. For someone like myself who manages to cut herself on the daily, this is a great tool to cut your fresh produce every week. Having pre-chopped veggies to work with cuts meal prep down to almost nothing. Other than shredding and slicing, it has a great mixing blade. Blenders can mix well, but nothing compared to the power of a food processor. Blenders lose their magic touch when you have little liquid in what you’re trying to blend. Food processors can blend even the toughest foods together. I use mine especially for homemade hummus and my cauliflower crust pizza nights!
  • KitchenAid Blender: 4/5 stars
    • To complete my kitchenaid trifecta, lets talk about blending. I love my blender. I love it because it’s simple, quick, and easy. Smoothies take up it’s primary use, but I also turn to my blender when making pancake batter or other liquid recipes. Before I had a food processor, I used blenders for all of my food mixing needs. However, it often required a lot of stopping, pushing ingredients down to the blade, blending, stopping, repeat. Much less efficient, but still possible. Keep in mind what you will be using your equipment for the most when deciding what to invest in. For me, this is great to have around.
  • Juicer: 2/5 stars
    • Not a fan. There is very little “bang” for your “buck”. “Buck” being the fruits and vegetables and “bang” being the juice in your glass. It leaves you wondering where all of your food went. I would much rather throw these things into a blender or food processor and just enjoy the “pulp”. While the end product is indeed delicious, I haven’t found the size of the machine and the much-too-troublesome cleanup to be worth the tablespoon of juice I get from what feels like my entire stock of produce. However, I will say that not all blenders can handle the thicker vegetables and fruits, making the juicer your better option. It’s just a matter of weighing what you’re trying to make and the ease at which you’re trying to do it.
  • Yonanas Machine: 5/5 stars
    • Oh, my, gosh. It’s like magic, it really is. For someone like myself whose weakness is frozen yogurt and ice cream…this has been a dream come true! Those of you unfamiliar with the machine – a) google it and b) let me fill you in: it’s a small device that turns frozen bananas into ice cream. The texture and consistency is identical to that of ice cream and you can add in other frozen fruit or dry items to create essentially any flavor that you want. (insert pics) Upon my first week of trying this out, I had it three days in a row…one of those times being after breakfast *turns head away in embarrassment*. Keep in mind while this is essentially very healthy – you’re basically just eating bananas. So while I love ice cream, the amount of bananas I was consuming began to sit less and less well over those three days. I think I probably went 2 full weeks without having bananas after that. No bueno. So while I fully encourage you to indulge in this purchase, proceed with caution.
  • Crockpot: 5/5 stars
    • Absolute must-have!! The ultimate lazy persons dream. But not only is it easy, it’s versatile, makes your place smell amazing, and best of all…it’s very hard to screw up. Most people think of soups, stews, and dips when they hear crock-pot…but that is far from the realm of its possibilities. Just think of it as a mini-oven. You can cook meat, dessert, vegetables, casseroles, the options are endless. Get your hands on a crockpot cookbook, or surf the web, and put that thing to use! I just have a medium-sized single crockpot, but they also come in a mini-size and 3-in-1 option to cook multiple dishes at one time. If my hubby didn’t despise kitchen equipment taking up our storage space, I’d have all 3:)
  • SodaStream: 4.5/5 stars
    • This is one of my best purchases post-wedding. Not everyone is into bubbly drinks. I am. Not pop, but I was buying flavored sparkling waters from the grocery store like they were going out of business. At about $1/each, I found myself spending anywhere from $10-$20 a week (Tyler started to love them, too). The sodastream is a slim machine that carbonates water in three simple presses. In addition to the carbonator itself, they sell lots of different add-in flavorings…anything from soda flavors to juice. I tend to buy flavor packets on my own (propel zero, crystal light, etc) or even just squeeze some lemon juice in – and enjoy! It’s definitely worth the up-front payment, and the only reoccuring cost is in replacing the carbonator every month or so (about $15). If you’re a pop or bubbles lover, I’d definitely be putting this on your Christmas list.
  • Wafflemaker: 4.5/5 stars
    • My wafflemaker is one of the more recently purchased items in our kitchen. Tyler heavily fought this purchase as yes, it does take up space. But once I snuck it in (it was on sale at Target – I obviously had to buy it) and served him his first belgian waffle he seemed to pipe down pretty quickly. Funny how that works, huh? You may wonder why I don’t just make pancakes…but once you’ve had a waffle there’s just no comparison! I love the deep crevices and how my fruit and toppings fill them. To make a successful waffle, you’ll need a thicker batter. I use Hodgson Mills Buckwheat or whole wheat buttermilk mix. The thicker consistency of the waffle is another thing that has me crawling back. It’s an item worth having if you have the space to store it…it’s an easy way to impress your guests and enjoy for yourself as well:)

All in all, while I may have a husband who never fails to gripe about our “lack of space”, I will beg to differ that a) our space is nice and tidy *thank you very much* and b) it’s all absolutely worth the space it just so happens to take up. Ladies, as long as you can keep his stomach full and happy he will stay quiet. Fastest way to a man’s heart is after all, his stomach. However, I think my quest to keep us healthy and trim has started to take a toll on Tyler. After telling him how many cool Christmas cookie recipes I found…he responded with the question, “Can we have real people cookies for Christmas?”. So, real people cookies it is. I deserve it anyways.

Here’s a peek at what our Thanksgiving meal looked like…my brother came up to spend the week with us so we were cooking for a small party of three:) The meal was simple, yet delicious. Tyler took control of the turkey, using this skinnytaste recipe to brine it. It turned out delicious, as did the sweet potato pecan casserole (listed at the bottom, or on the recipage). With the green beans I just sautéed them with a little olive oil, then added almonds, garlic, and currants. The cranberry sauce was okay, but nothing worth sharing.

My golden rule every year is to keep the Christmas music off as well as the tree in the closet until Thanksgiving is over. So, we went to work right away with a quick trip to Denver last weekend to stock up on “Christmasness”…including our very first Christmas tree that fits perfect in our kitchen! I’ve waited a long time to have my own tree. Finally a chance to use my large collection of ornaments. My aunt Cindi has made it a tradition to give me ornaments every year…and with the travels I’ve done as well, Tyler really had no idea what he was in for when I said I had “some ornaments” (this picture is only half of what I had laid out!).

That’s all for this week. Be sure to check out my newly added recipes below, as well as my workout page and Pinterest boards!

Pumpkin Mousse Pancake

Turkey Pot Pie Soup

Deviled eggs revamped

Sweet Potato Pecan Casserole

Greek Yogurt Honey Mustard

Chocolate Oreo Fluff

Banana nut oatmeal cookies

I’ll leave you with this. I used my freshly emptied almond butter jar for my overnight oats! It soaked up all the yummy goodness left in the jar. I woke up, topped it with Kashi cereal, and had a delicious breakfast to go! Give it a shot!

Eating out, taking out, and driving through.

So you’ve been doing great on eating healthy. You’ve worked out most days this week and want to keep the good habits rolling. Then the weekend hits. You want to go out with friends, celebrate a birthday, or maybe it’s actually the middle of the week and you just need to grab something on-the-go. You’re still new to this healthy scene and the greasy, old ways of your past have never looked bigger or better on the menu. I’m here to reassure you that you can still get delicious food outside your home, you’ll just need to approach it with a more educated mindset than you have in the past.

When you’re headed to a restaurant or fast-food lane, look at the menu and realize that most restaurants are NOT looking out for your waistline. They could care less about what they’re putting into food as long as it comes out tasting good, and people continue to order it. Although some places do have nutrition facts listed, the majority do not and you’re left to guess. Here are a few tips I have when you find yourself in this situation:

  • Keep sauces and dressings on the side. Restaurants are notorious for dumping LOADS on an entree, whether it’s a salad, pasta dish, or even just chicken. You may think you’re ordering something healthy until your chicken shows up and…you can’t find it. Ask for the dressing or sauce on the side and use as little as needed -OR- replace it entirely. Instead of the ranch on the salad, ask for a lighter option, or simply oil/vinegar to sprinkle on yourself. Having pasta? Think RED. White sauces are usually full of bad fats and high calories. Ask for a bolognese or marinara sauce instead of the alfredo. Ordering meat? Again, ask for the sauce on the side or omit entirely. Most meats have plenty of flavor on their own!
  • Avoid anything fried. Stick to options that are grilled, broiled, steamed, or baked. The preparation of your food has a tremendous impact on how good it is for you!
  • Don’t be afraid to make substitutions. I’m probably the most annoying customer in the world, but I end up getting what I want and in my mind it’s the restaurant’s job to do that for you.
  • Order smart side dishes. Often times the worst part of your meal lies in those 2 simple sides. I generally stay away from starches in restaurants and just ask for a double veggie side (grilled or steamed of course!) or a side salad. But if you love your carbs, get brown rice instead of white, or order a baked potato instead of fries. Avoid anything with heavy sauce (coleslaw, potato salad, etc) and if beans are an option, always opt for black.
  • Stay away from the bread basket!! Most people take in a meals worth of calories in bread and appetizers alone! Leave your indulging for the meal and if you do have some bread, go for a multigrain or wheat option and keep it at one slice with olive oil instead of butter. If you’re at Texas Roadhouse, good luck.
  • Ask them to go easy on the butter and oil. When preparing even veggies and meat they tend to season them in butter and cook them in lots of oil. I always ask for no butter on anything regardless of what I order, and if it’s being prepared in oil – that minimal oil be used! You may get weird looks, but you’ll be the one with a six-pack…not your waiter.
  • When in doubt, go with seafood. As long as your seafood isn’t being fried, it’s generally hard to go wrong with a piece of fish. Keep your sides clean and you have a nutritious, satisfying meal on its way.
  • Salads – proceed with caution. I almost always go with salads when eating out, because I live in America and every food dish served in America is 3 portions too large and it’s hard to go wrong with extra portions of greens and veggies. Add a grilled chicken breast, veggie burger, or salmon on top and you have a highly nutritious, balanced meal. But rarely will a salad *as listed* on a menu be your best option. Generally I’d stay away from cheese, but if you do go with it, stick with feta, parmesan reggiano, ricotta, or another low-fat option. Ask for no croutons (unless you have the willpower to scrape them off later) and again, go for a low-fat dressing or balsamic vinegar on the side. Last check? Make sure if your salad comes with meat, that it’s grilled and not fried. Basically, just be aware of what’s coming in your salad before you put your gold star on.
  • Dun, dun, dun…italian food. Pizza, pasta, carbs, oh my. For italian food making so many Americans fat, Italians themselves seem to be doing just fine. Biggest difference? PORTIONS. Generally, these places are notorious for being extremely generous in the sizes of their dishes. Ways to escape this trap are a) split a meal with a friend or b) take half to-go…and don’t eat it when you get home. Another way to escape the Italian restaurant trap is to go whole wheat or gluten-free. Even if it’s not listed, ask if you can replace your pasta or pizza crust with one of these options…and if you’re getting pizza, make sure to go THIN crust!
  • Take advantage of the to-go box. Ask for a box the minute you get your food and put half of it away before you even begin. Then there’s no tempting extras lingering on your plate.
  • Do your research. Most popular restaurants now have nutritional information available for you either at the restaurant (if you ask) or online. If you know where you’re headed beforehand, do your research and be less overwhelmed by your options on the spot. Ever heard of Eat this, not that? They’re a best-selling book series that also have an active twitter account and phone application(s). It’s a great resource for weighing options at not only restaurants and fast-food joints, but also supermarkets. They even break down food into specific food categories.
  • Choose your restaurant wisely…if you have a say in where you’re eating, choose something with a variety of options, or someplace that won’t put you in a bad situation. Dessert a weakness for you? Probably don’t go to the Cheesecake Factory. Love pizza and beer? Maybe Old Chicago isn’t the place. Like I’ve said before, seafood places are a great option, as well as Mongolian grills or somewhere with a yummy salad buffet (Ruby Tuesdays anyone?).

If worse comes to worse, enjoy a cheat meal. You deserve it. Make your Saturday a fatterday and just be sure you stay on track the rest of the week. Another option? Walk home. Okay kidding. But in all honesty I once ran home from 4 Queens (ice cream shop) because I felt so disgusting afterwards. HAHA, ohhhh please tell me someone reading this remembers this moment… [Caitlin, Blaire, Abby, Sara, Jacqui?] It only took me 10 years to figure out I can just eat better, and less, and not have to do extra sit-ups to feel better afterwards (Cara, Jacqui – you can attest). *Confession 2: Jacqui and I once did post-meal sit-ups, and I actually brought food over and ate while we did them* WHO WAS I?

In other and more exciting news this week…

We finally have our EPIC ski passes! We got a significant discount on these for having our wedding in the mountains this summer, woo! “Lets get married every summer” – Tyler. Ha, if only it worked that way:) We now have unlimited access to all Vail Resorts mountains in Colorado…now all we need is snow.

Next exciting news this week…pomegranates are in season!!! Of course we grabbed a few and have had some on-hand to throw in anything and everything we eat. Side note: if Tyler had one wish in this world it would be to swim in a pool of pomegranate seeds and frolick in a field of pomegranate bushes. This grown adult would make special trips to frozen yogurt joints only for the pomegranate seeds…not to worry, I more than made up for his slacking in a true bowl of frozen yogurt.

Am I the only one obsessed with holiday kitchen items? If it weren’t for my limited storage space, clutter OCD husband, and tiny wallet…I would have my place singing hallelujah all the way from the silverware to the towels, and everywhere in between. For now, I’ll settle for a new gingerbread man spatula. *sigh* But before I run off to cook dinner with my much-too-plain kitchen utensils, let me share a few workouts and yum yums from this week:

Got to use some fun new equipment for this sweat-buster…and got my buck kicked during this brutal circuit.

Annnnd, some yummy new ways I chose to fuel myself this week:

Pumpkin Overnight Oats

Fruit N’ Yogurt Parfait

Baked Oatmeal Cups (banana bread, pumpkin, apple cinnamon flavors)

Pumpkin Oat Nut Bars

Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

Harvest Vinaigrette Salad

Hope everyone has an awesome Thanksgiving week!! I know I can’t wait to try out some new recipes…and even better – see what everyone else is making! I have to work this week as it’s OPENING day in Beaver Creek on Wednesday, but Tyler and my brother will get to scope out the skiing while I take care of the injured…and they also will figure out how to cook a Turkey. I’ve seemed to escape this task the last few years and I’m not complaining.

So, happy cooking and eating this week! May you enjoy the best nap of the year approximately one hour after your Thanksgiving meal.

A love story.

It’s time everyone meets my best friend. See below my recent glimpse of heaven at the local Eagle City Market:

PB2.

We first met in my pantry, actually. I walked into the kitchen…the pantry door was open. Vangelis’ “Chariots of Fire” began softly playing and I was naturally gravitated to start slowly frolicking to the glowing jar of PB2 as it began to lift off the shelf towards me in the same fashion. Ok not really, but do take a minute to dissect this visual. The truth is I saw it packaged up, and gave it no longer than 3 seconds before it was dismissed as another one of my dad’s weird backpacking foods. I left the pantry without even saying goodbye. Then I left for Europe, and never again would I see PB2 until I was scanning Pinterest one day, “Hey that’s the weird stuff my dad had in the pantry!”. Upon arrival back in the US, this was one of many items I couldn’t wait to hunt down in the grocery store.

Hunt down I did…and to my glorious surprise there was not only a regular PB2 but also a chocolate PB2. As I said in my last post, I like to track my calories. So as any nut or nut butter lover knows, these glorious little things that often make our way into our diets are high in both calories and fat. Good fats they are indeed, but how do you put the spoon down after the suggested tablespoon or two? YOU CAN’T. Science has linked traces of crack in recent jars of peanut butter, proving true what we have thought all along. Not really, but doesn’t it feel like it? I don’t care what time of day it is, nut butter always sounds good and on just about anything. That’s why when I found this peanut butter that has 85% less calories and fat I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

I’ve tried all sorts of nut butter, even the “calorie-free” kind (YUCK)…but I haven’t been more loyal to a single food item than I have PB2. I honestly think I’ve had one on-hand since the first time I tried it. Let me tell you why I love and use it so much:

  • It’s in powdered form, making it easy to add to smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, cereal milk, and all sorts of recipes – without having the clumpy mess that you do with normal nut butter. It mixes easily and evenly.
  • Obviously, it’s a lower calorie/fat option…so overindulging is quite alright.
  • You can make it the exact consistency you want. You make your spread by adding water to it…allowing you to make it as creamy or dense as you choose.
  • Creating a flavored spread has never been easier. Think outside the box and instead of adding water, add pumpkin puree to get a yummy pumpkin-butter (then add water if needed, and cinnamon/p.spice for bonus points)…chocolate milk to add a chocolate kick…or even add it to jelly to play up America’s favorite combo – in a SPREAD! The options are endless!
  • It travels light and easy. Airport security? No problem. (yes I travel with it – not ashamed)

When you hear it’s so much lower in calories or fat you naturally tend to think there must be something going on in the process of making it that is unnatural and in the end – not good for you. But it’s an all-natural product that gets the powdered form by slow-roasting the peanuts and then pressing them to remove the oils and fat.  I realize not everyone is going to have the love affair with PB2 that I have. In fact, some of you probably think I’ve lost it, and are sitting there laughing at your computer thinking “wow, this girl just wrote an entire post about…peanut butter”…but I highly suggest even if you are doubtful you at least give it a try. If not, then at least you now know what I’ve referenced in 90% of my recipes. You can find this stuff in most natural/organic sections of the store, but if not you can also order it online…which is what I had been doing before I found this lovely section in our City Market (pictured above).

Since there is more to life than peanut butter (sometimes), let me share my week in photos:

This marked my first week of work at VVMC (Vail Valley Medical Center). It was full of lots of training and new information to digest. I know everyone probably says this 1-week into their job, but I couldn’t be happier with what I’m doing and where I’m at. I love being in the healthcare atmosphere, getting to learn new software programs, interacting with customers, and working with people who are passionate about what they do. The opportunity for growth and movement within this field is so exciting. My specific facility in Beaver Creek doesn’t open until Nov 21, so our training has been in the hospital in Vail…but we did get to sneak up and check it out. This picture is where I’ll be working. When I said we’re at the base of the ski resort…I meant it!! How spoiled am I!!

We ate outside all week during our lunch break. It’s been unusually warm this late into the year. Every morning before work I’d walk in to the sound of snow-making…they’re trying hard to get runs open for opening day next Friday!

One of many perks of working for VVMC…they have a library where employees can check out as many books as they’d like, and even can have books ordered in free-of-charge. I [obviously] had to pick up a few while I was checking things out. I’ll be looking to order in some health informatics/IT-related medical books soon…a field I’m trying to learn more about and hopefully get into somewhere down the line.

The most amazing sunset on my way home from work this week!

Last weekend we took advantage of a nice sunny Sunday and took a little run/hike. This place is full of the most amazing hidden paths!

At the top:) Love this kid.

In case you ever think you’ll go easy on the spinach, DON’T. You can never have enough of this stuff. This huge tub is only 40 calories and full of nutrients! When picking your lettuce, generally the darker the leaf the better.

Weird…me eating sweet potatoes? Well for some reason this idea JUST clicked in my brain this week. Why haven’t I been using my food processor to cut these before? I can’t tell you how many cuts I’ve given myself trying to cut these! Also, why have I not been cooking them in the skillet? Delicious! I don’t season these with anything but a little olive oil and salt/pepper. They are so flavorful on their own!

We all get on our kicks. This week was a smoothie kick. Had one almost everyday…either at breakfast with some cereal mixed in, or at night for dessert. Yum yum. No recipes, though. I’m just going to tell you I used plain greek yogurt, unsweetened almond milk (chocolate or vanilla or both), oatmeal, frozen fruit, frozen banana, chia seeds, flax meal, and then other add-ins to make my specific flavor. Anything from PB2 to cocoa powder to carob chips. Be creative:) I’ll try to get some specific recipes down sometime soon. I really am just eyeballing everything.

But if you are looking for some recipes to follow, check out this weeks creations:

Cookie Dough Hummus Dip

Rustic Italian Tortellini Soup

Beef Tamale Bake

Baked Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

Lastly, be sure to check out a few workouts I added…and enjoy wherever you are in the world, even if your view looks similar to mine today:

I guess I need to strap a few lights and ornaments on this tree in our backyard, huh? *cues Christmas music*