Preparing for the New Year – My Tools for Success

Here we are… only 3 days left in 2014.  I don’t know about you, but I plan to make them count!  I’ve been doing some preparation to start the New Year off right… Of course I plan to eat some traditional “good luck charms” on New Year’s Day (I’ll post about these later), but beyond that, I am already beginning my New Year’s commitments.

Side Note: When I was visiting my family for Christmas, I heard my mom and her husband say several times that they plan to go on a diet after the 1st.  They first said this while eating a big, double-meat with no vegetables burger from Jack in the Box.  I asked why not now?  If you’re not committed to it enough to start it now, what are the chances that you’ll actually stick with it in the future?  They seemed to be convinced that they will…  I hope so, but we’ll see.

So that’s why I’ve already started upping my game a little bit.  I mean, let’s face it.  My diet has been suffering here lately, and it shows.  I’m back up to 152 lbs after I had gotten down to 145… When my goal was 140!!  I was so close and then I slacked off.  Why??  Of course I have excuses… feeding a picky 3 year old who only likes a handful of foods, the Holidays, whatever.  No more excuses, it’s time to make it happen.

Fitness Tools to Keep Me Motivated

I got some excellent Christmas gifts this year, and I’m excited to implement them in keeping me on track, along with the ones I already had that have worked really well for me this past year (Thank you Blogilates workout calendars!).  Here are a few:

fitbit charge

fitbit Charge

The first item is the Fitbit Charge.  I’ve already been a fan of the Fitbit since I got a Flex for Christmas last year, and I’ve used it every day since.  The Charge is a step-up from the Flex because it has the display that tells you the time, how many steps you’ve taken today, distance you’ve walked, flights of stairs you’ve climbed, and calories you’ve burned.  You can also hold down the side button to start a timer when doing a workout to keep track of the time you spend on it.  Oh yeah, and it automatically tracks your sleep without having to remember to place the device in “sleep mode.”

As you can see (below), I’ve been using it for the past few days… yesterday I didn’t get all the way to 10,000 steps, but I did go to the gym yesterday morning and did my Pilates workout after speed-walking a little over a mile and spending a little time on the stair master.

fitbit 12-25-14 fitbit 12-26-14 fitbit 12-27-14

fitbit aria scale

fitbit aria scale

Next on the list is the Fitbit Aria scale.  This scale syncs your weight, body fat percentage, and BMI to your fitbit account to keep track of your progress for you.  You don’t have to enter it manually or try to remember what you weighed when you go to write it down.  It does it for you, so all you have to do is connect it to your wi-fi during set-up and step on.  It’ll let you add up to 7 more people if you decide to share, and it’ll upload their data to their fitbit account for them as well.  I got the white one :).

fit journal lmtd edition

Blogilates 2015 Fit Planner (Limited Edition)

Let’s not forget the Blogilates 2015 Fit Planner (Limited Edition).  I am pretty excited about this one… even though it’s pink, and I really dislike pink.  I’m willing to look past it this time, as I think the ends will justify the means.  Last night I decided to find photos to print for my Inspiration Board page, and I had to figure out what really motivates me… and what motivates me is healthy food ideas that taste good and are easy to make.  Some of the examples I included were pictures of overnight oats (breakfast food), salad in a jar (lunch food), Vietnamese spring rolls and black bean/avocado/turkey wraps (dinner foods).

Inspiration Board

 

So now, I’m curious to know what tools you will use to stay motivated this year, or what your commitments will be for 2015?  What goals are you going to work toward?

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Wednesday Workout and Cooking with Steamer Bags

Arms and Back Wednesday Workout:

8-20 calendarHow are those arms feeling today?  My arms have definitely been feeling the soreness lately from all the extra arm workouts I’m trying to get in.  Let’s jut hope it pays off eventually!  I guess I’d have to say that my favorite workout video out of today’s line-up would be the Push Plank Challenge.  I swear, just when I think I can’t take anymore, and I finally give in and take a rest, she starts counting down those very last few, and I’m mad at myself for not pushing through that last couple of reps.

Isn’t that about how is usually goes, though?  You can never let yourself give up, because that might be the moment it all finally changes.  You don’t want to regret that you didn’t push yourself to your full potential to achieve what you know you’re capable of.

ZipnSteam_MediumZiplock Zip’n Steam Bags:

Today I want to share one of my best clean-eating meal prep secrets, which are these Ziploc steam bags.  I used these tonight to make some steamed chicken breast seasoned with some Season-All and Cayenne Pepper, and some red potatoes, cubed, and seasoned with some Cayenne pepper and Garlic Salt.  I added a fresh lettuce and tomato salad with some shredded carrots, and my dinner was ready in 10 minutes.

All I had to do was sprinkle some seasoning on my chicken and potatoes, put them in the steamer bag, and pop it in the microwave for a few minutes each.

Seriously, that’s it!  It is really that simple, and it tastes really good.  It holds the moisture in well, and it seals in the flavor of the seasoning.  I’ve cooked so many things in these bags, like chicken breast, fresh salmon, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, fresh green beans, you name it.  Just season it with whatever you want, throw in a little bit of soy sauce or water if needed for the vegetables, and let it do its thing.  It even tells you on the bag how long to cook specific items for.

Has anyone else tried cooking with these?  What are some of your favorite “Steam Bag” recipes?  I’ve heard of some really good ones I’d like to try, like omelettes!  (Sounds weird, but I love omelettes, so I’ll probably give it a shot at least once.)  I’d also like to maybe do some apple slices seasoned with cinnamon and stevia sometime.  Or brown sugar.  🙂

Arm and Back Workout and Making Clean-Eating Easy

Arms & Back Wednesday Workout:

8-13 calendarIt’s another Arm and Back day, and it looks like some “new-to-me” workout videos today!  Actually, it looks like the only video I have done since starting the Blogilates Workout Calendars back in May 2014 is Bodacious Back.  So for me, today is like Monday all over again with a brand new workout video to do, times 3!

It’s always good to keep changing up your workout routine, because after doing the same thing for a while, your body starts getting used to it and starts learning to adjust and compensate, which means you have a pretty good chance of hitting a plateau in your fitness goal progress.

That is one of the reasons I absolutely love following the Blogilates Workout Calendars each month, because we have a different workout every single day, and next week’s Arm and Back workout will be completely different than this week’s workout.

There are so many reasons why I love following these workouts, though, but I’d have to say the Number 1 reason I love Blogilates the most is because it makes it SO EASY to see the progress I want and that I’ve tried for SO LONG to get.  Suddenly, it’s all coming together.  Cassey makes it so easy with the calendars, the clean eating tips, and all the new workouts, I wish I would have found her a lot sooner.

Eating Clean:

I want to talk about eating clean today, because this is something that has helped me get to the point I’m at today with the progress I’ve made so far.  I spent about 2 months eating clean and have been seriously amazed at how well it’s boosted my results.  For the past week and a half, I cut back on my clean eating because of a few different things, including birthday party dinners, celebration dinners, and what-not that have popped up recently.  I’ve been eating a lot more outside my own home than I normally do, and that means I haven’t had the control over what I’m eating or what is going into what I’m eating like I have been.

I’ve noticed a big difference.  My energy level has suffered.  My sleep quality has suffered.  My digestion has suffered.  And while I haven’t lost any progress, I also haven’t seen much new progress, if any, in the past week and a half, either.

So I started Monday this week to really revamp my clean-eating efforts, and in just in those 2 days so far, I can already tell a huge difference.  When I’m eating clean, I just feel good, inside and out.  I have the energy I need to do my workouts every day.  I don’t get that afternoon crash where you just want to lay down and take a nap.  I don’t feel any bloating, and my digestive tract works a lot better.  I feel satisfied, get full faster, and stay full longer when I eat clean food, which is in stark contrast to when I’m not eating clean.

So for anyone who needs help eating clean, (and please know I am by no means an expert, nor do I have any type of nutrition expertise, but…) below is an example of one of my One-Week Clean Eating Menus.

Clean Eating Weekly Menu

Clean-Eating Menu

Forget “Skinny Rules,” Here’s 7 Easy Rules for Getting In Shape

Today’s Workout:

Today is Sunday, and that means Cardio Ab Attack on the #giveityourALLgust workout calendar!  This workout looks like it’s going to be another good one.  Only 56 minutes from beginning to end, and you get a little bit of cardio and a whole lot of abs.  I’m looking forward to all of these today, but if I had to pick my top favorite of all of them, I’d say it’s The 5 Best and Most Effective Ab Exercises.

5 best and most effective ab exercises

Blogilates: The 5 Best and Most Effective Ab Exercises

I think the best part of these workouts as a whole is the fact that each day is broken down into several shorter workouts, which make them seem to go by really quickly.  Not only that, but if you don’t have a full hour during the day, chances are you might have 10 minutes before work, 15 minutes during lunch, and 30 minutes before bed, for example.  I usually do all the videos at one time in the evenings, which is what I find works best for me.

Skinny Rules?

Bob Harper's "Skinny Rules"

Bob Harper’s “Skinny Rules”

I came across this list on Pinterest today called the “Skinny Rules” by Bob Harper.  They are described as simple, nonnegotiable principles for getting thin.  Well, quite frankly, I have a problem with a few of these.  Non-negotiable?  Really?  As in, you must follow these so-called “rules” if you want to be skinny?  What a load of rubbish, and here’s why…

Rule 7: No Carbs After Lunch – Well, I’m NOT sorry to say this whatsoever, but I would like to find the person who started this ridiculous notion that all carbs are bad for you and kick that person in the butt.  Guess what?  I eat carbs after lunch EVERY DAY (complex carbs, in moderation), and I’ve still been losing weight consistently for the past 3 months since beginning daily Pilates and eating clean.

Rule 11: Get Rid of Those White Potatoes – Again, this goes back to the “carbs are the enemy” mentality, which is ridiculous.  I often eat roasted red potatoes with baked chicken, or curry potatoes with baked ribs for dinner.  They have yet to make me fat.

Rule 12: Make One Day a Week Meatless – I eat meat every day, at nearly every meal, breakfast included.  My doctor’s visit last week showed great blood pressure, healthy protein levels, healthy blood-sugar, basically healthy across the board.  And, as previously mentioned, I’ve still been consistently losing weight since starting Pilates 3 months ago, and am only a few more pounds away from my healthy weight.  So, you were saying?

Rule 18: Go to Bed Hungry – Are you serious?  This one takes the cake.  Going to bed hungry means your body is not getting something it needs.  Maybe he was trying to say don’t eat right before you go to bed, or within a few hours before going to bed… but that does not mean the same thing as going to bed hungry.  If you’re eating good, healthy food at your dinner then you should be satisfied when you go to bed at night.

The bottom line is, these are not the end-all/be-all of being skinny.  You shouldn’t have to go to extremes to lose weight or stay healthy.  And anyway, skinny does not always mean healthy.  I’d rather be healthy than skinny.  To be honest, the more I learn about health, the more I view “skinny” as a negative word.  I’d rather be described as “fit” or maybe even “toned.”

Nicky’s 7 Easy Rules for Getting In Shape:

So let’s just make it easy for you.  Why?  Because I spent too many years trying it the hard way, and the hard way never worked.  I started doing 1 hour of Pilates 6 days a week (see the Blogilates monthly calendar) paired with eating clean (see an example of my weekly menu), and you can see the results for yourself (see my Before/After photos).

Nicky's 7 Easy Rules for Getting In Shape

Staying On Track Away From Home and New Plank Challenge

Today’s Workout:

I’m posting late today, but how did everyone like today’s workout?  That Food Baby Hiit gets me every… single… time.  These were all some great “Sexy Saturday” workout videos.  I’m also rather proud of myself for getting this workout in today, because I’m out of town visiting family this weekend since my mom was put in the hospital this week for complications with her Multiple Sclerosis.  (She is doing a lot better now!)

Eating While On Vacation:

And by the way, eating clean has been super hard this weekend, also.  When I come “home” to visit, I always stay at my Grandma’s house because that’s where I have room to stay.  My grandma hasn’t cooked since my Papa died over 10 years ago, so every meal is eating out for her.  I won’t even get started on that subject.  So when I got here Friday around lunch time, we went and had Mexican food.  I managed to find a pretty decent salad on the menu, dubbed “Cowboy Salad” pictured below.  It was very fresh and very tasty, with mixed greens, diced fresh tomato, shredded cheese, shredded carrots, and grilled onions, bell peppers, and chicken with some fresh avocado on top.  (I didn’t eat the enormous taco shell, but topped it with their salsa and a tiny bit of Ranch dressing – which they were not stingy at all with, by the way!!  Check out that bowl of it they gave me on the right, next to the bowl of salsa!)

Cowboy Salad - El Cerrito's - Springtown, Texas

“Cowboy Salad” – El Cerrito’s – Springtown, Texas

I ate breakfast for dinner that evening with a sausage and egg sandwich on toast.  Let’s just say Howell’s Cafe in Springtown, Texas, sort of an old-style small-town diner, is not known for its healthy offerings.  Their pan-fry is “to die for” though! 😉

So the first thing I did this morning was make a trip to the grocery store to get some healthy items to eat today.  Cheerios for breakfast, smoked ham and tomato sandwich with mustard on 45-calorie Multi-grain bread for lunch, and for dinner I baked some chicken with some roasted red potatoes.  I was going to have salad on the side, but… remember how I said my grandma hasn’t cooked in over 10 years?   Guess how old all the salad dressing she had on hand was… (I’m not even kidding!) so I ate plain lettuce on the side instead.

Plank Challenge:

So now that dinner is eaten, workout is completed, and blog-post is almost written, it’s time to work on something new I decided to start on as of yesterday.  Right before bed last night, I decided to see how long I could hold a plank – elbows on the floor with knees off the floor.  Here was my time:

Initial Plank Time

Initial Plank Time

So just for fun, I’m going to set a goal for myself to see how long I can hold a plank.  I’m not going to make a big thing of it, mostly because pretty much the only benefit of being able to hold a plank longer than 30 seconds to a minute is to be able to hold a plank longer than 30 seconds to a minute… according to some fitness experts (?).  Anyway, for now, I’m not going to set a certain end-date or length of time I hope to make it to.  For now, I’m just going to try to make it longer today than I did yesterday!

Anyone else want to join me?

Hard Core Workout, HIIT, and the Importance of Eating Clean

Ok, so who tried the new EXTREME Abs Workout yesterday?  All I can say is… WOW!!  I thought I was going to die.  And then, I turned around and did it a 2nd time just for kicks.  Yes, I’m feeling the consequences today. But, as Cassey Ho says, “Sore today, Strong tomorrow!

Any men out there brave enough to give it a try???

I wanted to get some cardio in, but since I got home so late from work yesterday evening, by the time I ate dinner and finished the Blogilates workout playlist, it was really too late to drive all the way to the gym for some cardio.  So instead, I grabbed a dumbbell and…

1 - we-cant-stop-POP-HIIT

Blogilates – pop hiit 1

Print this baby out and take her to the gym with you next time!  Tell me what you think and how many sets you can get through.  So far, I can only get through 2 sets before I’m totally dying.

The Importance of Eating Clean:

What are your favorite clean-eating meals?  I like easy-to-make foods that I can just throw together quickly after I get home from work, because I try not to eat too late in the day.  Sometimes, like yesterday evening with late home visits (I’m a social worker), it is unavoidable, which makes it even more important to eat healthy and clean.  I won’t even go into the whole stress/cortisol weight gain issue that goes hand in hand with my field of work.

I don’t know how many times I have been pressed for time during my workday, so I drove up the street for a quick, cheap, fast-food taco plate to get me through the rest of my day.  The trouble with that?  All that greasy, processed food, while completely tasty, made me feel so tired, all I could think about was taking a nap.  Then I’d still have to trudge through the rest of the day, sometimes making long, boring drives that made me even more tired.  My waist-line kept growing, my energy levels kept draining.  (Talk about a negative correlation!)

Now, I plan my meals in advance so I stick to the healthy stuff a whole lot better.  I save money because I make my own food, so I’m not having to pay those high prices at restaurants or fast-food places, and I only buy what I need for the week when I do my grocery shopping.  My new favorite invention: Ziploc steamer bags!  Not to mention, I’m eating seriously delicious food, I get full on MUCH LESS food than I used to eat, and I don’t feel lethargic in the afternoons after lunch any more.  Here is what I ate for lunch and dinner today, for example.

IMG_20140707_121858 (1)

Lunch – Lean ham rolls, Baby Bell cheese, Baby Carrots, red seedless grapes, and sliced watermelon.

IMG_20140707_221054

Dinner – Grilled pork chop, steamed carrots, and spinach salad with some Ranch Dressing

What are some of your quick, easy, and delicious clean-eating recipes?  I need some new ideas!!

Leg Workout and Spring Rolls Recipe

Today’s Workout:

Legs and thighs!  Lower body workout today.  How about those runner’s calves exercises?  It’s nice that we have a lower body workout day, because it’s the one day of the week I don’t feel like a complete weakling!  As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve been running several days a week for the past couple of years now, so my calves are pretty muscular and toned.  My quads have really toned up from all these burpees we’ve been doing with the Blogilates workouts, too.  I hate to love those burpees.  I also hate the name, “burpees.”  I think when I tried the Insanity workouts last year, burpees were called “suicides.”  I’m not sure which name is worse!

Spring Rolls:

Last night for dinner, we had Spring Rolls.  These are so delicious, fresh, and summery.  Not to mention clean-eating approved and super healthy for you.

2014-07-18 22.36.56

Here is the video on how to make spring rolls and a really good spring-roll dipping sauce!  Instead of tofu, we used skirt steak, browned in a skillet with salt and pepper.

And for your further viewing pleasure, here is what I’m eating for lunch today!

Ham rolls, baby bell cheese, baby carrots, grapes, & watermelon

Ham rolls, baby bell cheese, baby carrots, grapes, & watermelon

Chicken Stir-Fry Recipe and Today’s Workout

Yesterday was a pretty good day for me.  I started the day off by eating a homemade granola bar for breakfast.  For lunch I kept it light with a sandwich and some Sun Chips.  I like to use the Sara Lee 45 Calorie whole grain bread.  I wasn’t a fan of the French Onion Sun Chips… the Garden Salsa flavor seems to be my favorite.  But overall, it was pretty good.

For dinner I made a delicious chicken stir-fry with minced garlic, ginger, broccoli, bell peppers, and white onion.  Throw in a little soy sauce, and Voila!  See my recipe below to make this at home.  Its SUPER easy!

2014-07-18 22.31.44

Chicken Stir Fry Recipe:

  • 1 lb chicken breast cubed
  • Mrs. Dash seasoning – to taste
  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger (or to taste – you can leave this out if you want)
  • 1 small bunch of broccoli florets, separated
  • 1/2 green bell pepper chopped into bite-size squares
  • 1/2 red bell pepper chopped into bite-size squares
  • 1/4 white onion chopped into bite-size squares
  • 1/4 Cup Soy Sauce (or to taste)

After I cook the cubed chicken and drain out the liquid, I sprinkle some Mrs. Dash seasoning on it.  Keeping your burner on medium to medium-high heat, make a little space in the middle of the pan, throw some Extra Virgin Olive Oil, then the minced garlic, and let that simmer for a minute or two.  Then I throw in a little dab of minced Ginger and mix everything up.  Add the broccoli florets next so they can soften by the time it’s ready, and then pour on a little Soy Sauce.  You can use some of the Soy Sauce now and the rest of it at the end.  Next is the bell peppers, and last is the white onions so that they aren’t completely mushy when it’s time to eat it.  I like to still be able to taste the freshness of everything.  Throw it over a bed of brown rice, and it’s ready to go!

Blogilates Workout

I felt pretty good after yesterday’s workout.  I was pretty amazed at how long I was able to keep doing most of the moves, but by the time I got to the Perky Butt ‘N Long Lean Legs video, I was having to use modifications.  Stronger every day!!  I waited to do my workout until right before I went to bed last night, so I fell right to sleep without any trouble!  Before that, I swam for a little bit after my dinner had settled and took the dogs for a walk and a bit of a jog around the neighborhood.  They may not understand, “Don’t pee on that tree!” but you say the words “Go for a walk” in my house, and you better be ready to grab the leashes!!

Here is today’s workout playlist.  I can’t wait to get home from work today to start these!  Is that crazy??

Finishing Up ReJUNEivate Calendar and Eating Clean

Today I want to talk a little bit about how I’ve incorporated clean eating into my daily life, and I want to follow up with my thoughts on finishing up the June Blogilates workout calendar.

Eating Clean

I want to start off here by saying that I hate the word “diet.”  Diets never have and likely never will work for me.  Why?  Because as soon as someone (including myself) tells me I can’t have something when it comes to food, that’s exactly the thing I’m going to want.  I will begin to obsess about food to the point where it’s all I can think about.  Then I’ll eventually give in and be worse off than when I started.  Restricting myself does not work.

What does work for me?  Making it a goal to eat MORE of the good stuff.  It’s like playing a Jedi-Mind-Trick on my brain.  It’s my goal to drink MORE water.  I’m not restricting myself from having any Vanilla Coke Zeroes, but since my goal is to drink MORE water, I find it easier to choose water over the sodas.  Sure, I still drink a Diet Coke once in a while.  That’s the beauty of it.  Likewise, I make it a goal to eat MORE fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, complex carbs, and unprocessed foods.

Below is an example of the weekly menus I make.  I use this menu to make my grocery list and I only buy what I need for my meals at the grocery store.  If that’s all I have to eat at my house, then I’m much more likely to stick to the plan.  When making this menu for the week, I look at sale ads for the store I shop at so that I’m still saving money in the process, and I also try to look at what I already have stocked in my pantry.

Weekly Menu Example

Weekly Menu Example

I got the ideas for my meals by going through the Blogilates 12 Week NewBodyMakeover Meal Plan.  I went through the entire 12 weeks of meals and made a list of the foods I’d actually eat and used that to make my own weekly menu.  As you can see, I still splurge a little here and there (mac n cheese for dinner on Thursday, Curry potatoes for dinner on Friday).  But everything is delicious, nothing takes too much time or effort to make, and I’m never hungry!!  I think I’ve actually drank an afternoon protein shake once in the 3 weeks I’ve been doing this so far, simply because I’m just not hungry.

ReJUNEivate Calendar Wrapping Up

Blogilates June 2014 Workout Calendar

Blogilates June 2014 Workout Calendar

Here we are with only 2 more days left in June, including today!  I can’t believe how quickly this month flew by, and I can’t believe even more so, that I did the workouts for EVERY SINGLE DAY so far on this workout calendar!  That is a SERIOUS accomplishment for me.  Even more so, that I haven’t missed a day yet since I started on May 10!  I’m really excited about the new calendar for July that should be posted sometime tomorrow.  What will it be called??  My idea was “hi-fi-July” with hi High Intensity and fi FItness.  Whatever it will be called will surely be inspiring.

Today’s Workout

Today the playlist is the very last Shred It! day for the month.  I have to say, I was a little afraid of those Shred days before I started them this month, but once I actually jumped in and started doing them, they weren’t nearly as bad as I had anticipated.  I actually really liked the way they sort of worked your whole body.  (Although I must admit, I feel like I got better results from last month’s calendar with each day doing an hour-long focus on specific areas of the body.)  I guess I had the idea that the Shred It!! workouts would just be a full hour of cardio videos, which I sort of love to hate and hate to love.  I think cardio is one of those personal things that everyone has their own type(s) they enjoy doing while the rest of the types kind of suck.  For me, I like to jog on the treadmill and I like to swim.  I also enjoy salsa dancing, even though I haven’t gone in a couple years and I’m kind of terrible at it.  Other than that, cardio is not fun for me.

Here is the YouTube Playlist for today’s workout:

Who else is following the Blogilates calendar this month?  What were your thoughts on the workouts?