Valentine’s Day for All

Ahhhh….Valentine’s Day.

If you’re anything like me, you don’t put a lot of attention on this day as it’s totally over-commercialized for the marketing industry but I do like to have some fun and just enjoy some extra special time with my hubby no matter what! (always a good thing, right?)

But what I realize is that this day is spent worrying about buying flowers; buying chocolates; buying expensive jewelry and gifts; spending a fortune on a dinner reservation…etc. That’s really not how I would describe “true love”…haha 😀 This can also bring about stresses about our current programs for following a healthier lifestyle and dealing with the decadent temptations that surround this day. Candy, chocolate, desserts, OH MY!!!

I thought I’d share with you a typical and fun plan you can enjoy EVERY day of the year…even today! ❤

—> If you need a healthy meal plan option that I recommend to follow for best results, here’s a plan that I have set up for weeks when I just need to get back to basics: FREE Slim Down Meal Plan

So for a fun breakfast idea with your love, I am loving:

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Banana French Toast (you can choose to add strawberries for Valentine’s Day)

Serves: 4
Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 oz low-fat cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp unsalted natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tsp pure maple syrup, divided
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 8 slices whole-wheat bread
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup low-fat milk (preferably 1%)
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 medium bananas, peeled and sliced (or 2 cups hulled and sliced strawberries)
  • 1 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • Olive oil cooking spray

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a small bowl, mix cream cheese, peanut butter, yogurt, 1 tsp maple syrup and cinnamon until smooth and creamy. Spread 2 1/2 tbsp cream cheese mixture onto each of 4 bread slices. Top with remaining 4 bread slices; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk egg whites, egg, milk and nutmeg; set aside.
  3. In a separate small bowl, toss bananas with orange juice and zest; set aside.
  4. Heat a medium sauté pan on medium-high. Mist with cooking spray. Immediately dip 1 sandwich in egg mixture, coating both sides, and place in pan. Repeat, cooking 2 sandwiches in pan at once. Brown sandwiches, about 1 minute per side. Remove and top with banana mixture and remaining 2 tsp maple syrup, dividing evenly. Serve immediately.

Nutrients per serving (1 sandwich and 1/2 cup banana mixture): Calories: 332, Total Fat: 10 g, Sat. Fat: 3 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g, Carbs: 45 g, Fiber: 6 g, Sugars: 15 g, Protein: 16 g, Sodium: 366 mg, Cholesterol: 61 mg

 

Not too bad for breakfast, right?

About 2-3 hours later, I’ll have my Shakeology and on a day that is known for pink hearts, strawberries and anything red…I chose Strawberry flavor today and made it with 1 cup water, 1 cup ice and 5 pecans. (ya, it’s silly to count only 5 but I like the nutty flavor and this gives me a small amount of calories for a big flavor boost!)

My sweetie and I then enjoy a fun lunch. We prefer to go out at this time of the day instead of fighting the night crowds but it’s also special to just stay in and cook together. Seems like he’s always more eager to cook with me than me asking him to make something on his own. (try it, it works!)

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But asking him to take a selfie with me is usually out of the question!! (see here)

I don’t know what it is about salmon, but making it at home still seems like a restaurant style pleasure. We usually make a fun salmon recipe at least once a week for dinners but for a special occasion, we are known to add it into a midday meal too! Here’s a really fun and tasty way to get it made right!

  • Salmon & Bok Choy with your love ❤ 
  • 2 fillets salmon (6 to 8 ounces each), without skin
  • 2 tablesoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium teriyaki sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 large bok choy, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped white onion
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup frozen green peas
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Brush both sides of salmon with olive oil and place skin side down in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Brush with teriyaki sauce and season with salt, pepper, and paprika. Place skillet in oven for 15 minutes, or until fish is cooked through.
  3. Meanwhile, steam or boil bok choy until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add butter and melt. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 mintues. Add bok choy and veggie stock. Cook until soft. Add peas, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until stock has mostly evaporated, about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove salmon from oven and cover skillet with aluminum foil. Let rest 5 minutes before serving. (This allows juices to distribute throughout salmon.)
  6. Serve salmon atop bok choy.

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Pretty awesome, right????

For my next snack, (cuz I’m all about lifestyle goals and sticking to my 2-3 hour marker of eating a meal or snack is a non-negotiable for my success!) I’ll have about 1/3 cup of oatmeal soaked in 1/3 cup of almond milk in the fridge for about 20 minutes or more; and then I’ll add 1/2-3/4 cup greek yogurt (Fage only for me!) and 1 tsp PB and a few drops of stevia. I mix it all up and it’s freaking awesome creaminess goodness. (I know that last sentence made no sense but I don’t really care cuz it’s that good to not care!)

And finally, onto the final meal of the day…DINNER!! Or is it ‘supper’?? 🙂 I know my hubby loves his specialty type sandwiches (he actually watches the food network and searches out nearby eateries that are recommended for this reason). So I am sharing a favorite of his and even though I technically steer away from sandwiches due to the higher carb count…this one only gives about 350 calories for the serving. So I figure on a special occasion, it’s definitely an “all go”!!!

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Steak Baguettes with Pesto Mayo

Ingredients

1 (12-ounce) boneless beef sirloin steak (about 1 inch thick), trimmed
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola mayonnaise
2 tablespoons refrigerated pesto sauce
1 (12-ounce) piece white or whole-grain baguette, split in half horizontally
1 cup packed baby arugula (about 1 ounce)
3 (1/8-inch-thick) red onion slices
2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced lengthwise

Directions

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle steak with salt and pepper. Add steak to pan, and cook 2 1/2 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove the steak from pan, and let stand 5 minutes. Cut steak across grain into thin slices.

Combine mayonnaise and pesto, stirring until well blended. Spread mayonnaise mixture evenly over cut sides of bread. Layer bottom half of bread with arugula, red onion, steak, and tomato; top with top half of bread. Cut sandwich diagonally into 4 equal pieces.

Nutrition Information

Serves: 4|  Serving Size: 1 sandwich

Per serving: Calories: 358; Total Fat: 11g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Monounsaturated Fat: 4g; Cholesterol: 45mg; Sodium: 674mg; Carbohydrate: 39g; Dietary Fiber: 2g; Sugar: 1g; Protein: 25g

Not too shabby, right? And pair it with a nice side salad with balsamic vinaigrette or other homemade favorite dressing…you can light up some candles and throw on some mood inducing music to create the romantic atmosphere, right? No need to throw down $100 for a night of eating.

And if you know anything about me, you know I cannot pass up the chance for a decadent and chocolatey dessert!! 🙂 (and I’ve trained my family to enjoy these too! lol)

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I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Chocolate Covered Katie but her website of recipes are to DIE FOR!!! No kidding at all! Please go check it out for yourself! ❤ Here is a favorite of mine that I got from her recipe book and I can guarantee you’ll love it too!!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup spelt or ww pastry flour
  • 6 tbsp cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp each: baking soda and salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar of choice or xylitol
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, optional
  • 1/4 cup yogurt of choice
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup almond butter, peanut butter or any nut butter of choice
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and grease an 8-in square or round pan.

Set aside. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, optional chips, and sweetener, and stir very well. (If your nut butter is not stir-able, gently heat it until stir-able.)

In a new bowl, whisk together the nut butter, yogurt, water, and vanilla. Pour wet into dry and stir until just combined (don’t over-mix), then pour into the greased pan.

Bake 25 minutes or until batter has risen and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out mostly clean.

(I like to take it out when it’s still a little undercooked, let it cool, and then set in the fridge overnight. This prevents overcooking, and the cake will still firm up nicely as it sits.)

Sprinkle with powdered sugar or find a healthy frosting recipe to top it off with…don’t forget the strawberries and sprinkles to celebrate the end of this romantic day!

 

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Fear; what is it good for?

Failure…or more accurate; epic failure.

That’s the point that moved me back to focusing on the areas of my life that needed me most. Have you experienced failure?

I know that we all have in some form or another. Small failures are normal in life. But small failures mean that we are only taking small steps and staying safe because of the numbing fear of more failure.

Can you relate? Have you ever wanted something and were too afraid to do what it takes to achieve what you wanted? Take for example, a baby. When you were young and learning to walk for the first time, did you fall? Now, I don’t know your backstory well enough but I’m going to bet you a million dollars that you did.

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Because we all did! But what if we had decided at that moment that it was futile to keep trying? What if we made the decision that we were going to keep crawling through our lives because it was safer? 

Sounds kind of silly, doesn’t it? Yet, that is what most of us are doing every single day. We give up. We stop trying. Have you tried losing weight and getting fit before and failed? Have you started a business venture or challenge that excited you, only to fail in some way; big or small? Have you tried dating before and failed at connecting with everyone you went out with? Are you at a point right now that is keeping you in a place of complacency because of the numbing fear of failing, yet again?

I hate to say it but in order to achieve anything worth having, you must fail. Here are two major failures in my life and how I was able to overcome them with the support of friends and family:

I grew up extremely shy and kept to myself most of the time. I enjoyed solitude and quiet spaces because it was safe. I don’t know where the fear of speaking up began but I know it was an issue that hindered me through my school years. In high school, I became friends with a girl who pretty much spoke for me. She gave me confidence because she was so confident. I appreciate her to this day for showing me exactly how unscary it is to just speak up and be heard.

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Can you imagine now that I am not afraid to speak in public? I started with teaching aerobic classes when I was just 18 years old. I was scared out of my mind, but my passion for helping others to workout and feel good overcame my fears and I just kept practicing and doing. Did I fail? Of course I did! I would have blunders and mistakes every time I taught for a long time. But this didn’t stop me from continuing because I simply loved it! I now am not afraid to talk openly in public. I am not afraid to stand up and make a public speech. I may get nervous at the start but that doesn’t stop me anymore from still doing; as in the past.

Have you ever felt that kind of passion before? Have you ever been afraid of something but were so passionate about the outcome that it became the focus; instead of the fear? That is the place we all need to live in. This helps us build our confidence for the areas in our lives that hinder us still.

I was also always fearful of not having enough money. I don’t know where this fear began but I remember when my husband and I purchased our first home, I worried that we would make a bad choice at some point or another. We had excellent credit scores, paid all of our bills on time, both worked and provided for our young children and everything just seemed right. Yet, I still feared losing it all.

Be careful what you think about most because it can consume you. Not that I walked around worrying about it constantly; it was more of a nagging worry.

I won’t bore you with the whole story but at the time of the recession; we decided to take a move overseas and needless to say, this was the start of the worries coming to fruition. My hubby’s business hit a bumpy road and slowed down considerably. I was working part-time in the fitness field as a personal trainer and still a group exercise instructor (and if you know anything about this field, it’s not something to write home about in income status). Our move overseas was short lived but the outcome hit us rather hard. We moved again back to where we began and didn’t take precautions to scrimp and save enough to get back on our feet as we would have preferred.

One more overseas trip and a lot more debt accrued and we came back again, only to deal with the hardship of major debt, rebuilding our businesses, and settling into something we had no idea how we would manage.

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I can honestly say that faith was my best friend at that point. Faith and our family that had gone through the moves and stresses and ups and downs. We bunkered down together, all 5 of us and decided that we were going to persevere. It hasn’t been easy but let me tell you, we are finally getting to the point of not being consumed by the unknown and have the closest and strongest bonds together that we have ever had. This would not have been possible, had we not failed. So failure, in my humble opinion, makes us better for the process.

Fear paralyzes us into doing nothing. We now go through every day, grateful for our blessings and knowing we are not as “in control” as we think we are 😉 Letting go and just believing we are doing our best with every day has been the medicine to overcome the challenges that life brings our way. I’m not saying I know what the next stage will bring but I do know that I am not afraid of it. I know that I will face the next challenge with support, love and grace. What is holding you back because of your fears?

 

Gratitude Wins

Sundays are one of my favorite days of the week.

Yes, although I’ll admit it wasn’t always that way; I’m not a “calm” personality by nature so the fact of just slowing down on an entire day of each week was something that took a loooong time to get used to.

But I am getting used to it and really enjoying it too. 🙂

It’s a day to reflect on what the past week entailed and what we look forward to in the coming week. It’s a day to give thanks for all that we have; and this was also a difficult issue at certain times of my life.

I mean, how EASY is it to complain and whine about life “not being fair to us” and “what coulda been”, etc? I’ll admit, I was the first one to believe that I wasn’t guilty of this but it turns out.. I WAS! Go figure! lol Being positive means more than just turning our frowns upside down. It’s about getting back up each and every time that life knocks us down. It’s about not taking it too personally and in finding a NEW way to move ahead again. I know I’ve had my share of complaining about everyone else’s roles in my own struggles and stresses. It was always just easier that way, I guess. Then one day, (if you’re lucky) you wake up and realize that the fingers we are pointing out at everyone else are just pointing right back at us.

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Truth.

I used to blame so many people in my life for various reasons. Pick anyone and pick anything and I’m sure I had complained about it before. To my dismay, I’ve been corrected over and over and over again until it just hit me BAM! in the face that much of it had been MY problems in the long run. Was I a ‘bad’ person? No. I was just guilty of allowing certain behaviors to take over what I knew was right and allowing my own negative behaviors to take over when I felt threatened.

And it turns out, I must have felt threatened more often than I really even knew.

The other day, while I was doing my regular self development reading, I came across a verse stating that we cannot expect anybody else to love US more than they can love THEMSELVES.

BAM! Tears started streaming down my face as I realized how many people I had incorrectly judged over my life. How unfair I had treated others by assuming that they weren’t giving it their all or being selfish in their love for me and all I believed to be right and true. I had been unfair in my judgments and am working on righting that behavior in my mind and in my actions.

Today, I reflected on that while we enjoyed, truly enjoyed the family time together. Instead of getting caught up in what most of us think we want more of; power, money, authority, or whatever…

there’s nothing more we need than what most of us have in front of us today; family, love, friendship, understanding.

These are the true blessings in life and should be what we all strive to share more of with others…

and in turn, receive more of it for ourselves in the long run.

Another Chapter

So, I’m a typical mommy emotional mess today!

I thought after my first born, who graduated high school last year, with me sobbing like a baby; that this year would be a cinch.

But not so much.

I am sitting here, remembering when they were little. My young daughter and her little brother; playing with their stuffed animals and play toys and just so innocent and eager to please mommy and daddy. Now, I sit here blubbering like a fool and in disbelief at the childhood years that have gone by….too too soon.

I am just so proud. Not sad, not upset, and definitely far from disappointed. The irony is that I am someone who is usually non-emotional. For example, when there are times that are clearly meant to show some tears; I couldn’t will them out if I poked my eyes with my fingernails.

Don’t think I haven’t tried wiling them out…(no, I never poked my eyes with my fingernails, but trying to make a point about this moment)

 

So, here I sit. Thinking back to the previous 17 years of my sons’ life. The day he was born and when my daughter, only 18 months at the time and still a baby herself, was brought to the hospital to visit us. She happily sat on my lap in the hospital bed and my husband brought our son, Philip to meet her…

And she angrily threw out her arms and screamed, “NO NO NO!!!! Go Away!” She pushed him away and just hugged me; wanting me all to herself. It was a touching moment I will never forget because from that point on, they have been so close that the memory of the hospital meeting was almost a story of fiction. When their youngest brother was born, 4 years later, they were a team in keeping him in “check” 😉

I cried last year when my daughter proudly walked across that graduating stage. I don’t doubt that I’ll be blubbering away tomorrow night at my son’s big night too.

I know it is an emotional time for every parent as their child moves onto a new beginning…and closes another chapter in their younger lives. The past five years have been a trying and busy time for our family and I cannot believe the maturity and adaptability levels of our children through it all. We had relocated across the globe; not once, but twice, to set up home in another country. And yet, we returned; not once, but twice, back to where we began because that was what we were meant to do.

It wasn’t easy on us at all. But I knew in my heart how much strength it took on our children’s parts to adapt; and adjust each time we resettled again.

I know that nothing is truly forever, but as a parent, you want the best for your children and want to protect them from all additional challenges that we have control over. (or at least think we have control over)

But each time, they just worked diligently to make up the lost time in school or make the necessary adjustments to the current living situations that were so.  I know that these experiences only helped ground them for life’s changes as will undoubtedly come and go.

So it is not with sadness that the tears flow. It is with great joy and pride of the amazing, young adults that have emerged from those young, giggling children who seemed too innocent to grow up so soon. God Bless the class of 2015.

 

Needing LESS and Feeling MORE

I want to talk about the topic of being “perfect” and thinking that “getting more” and “doing more” is going to make us “more”.

That’s a ridiculous word but so many of us are stuck thinking that “if only” we did this or “if only” we could do that…our lives would finally be a success.

We know it’s ridiculous and yet we still worry incessantly about minor details which have nothing to do with our true selves.

Who are you?

I have been doing some deep reflection over the past few years. I am a firm believer in self growth; just as much as I believe in exercise for my body…this is exercise for my mind, spirit, development, belief and more. This is everything I had been missing for years.

Through my learnings recently, I had an epiphany that all of the past few years were actually a blessing in disguise.

Now if you had dared to utter that sentence to me earlier, I would have bitten your head off.

A blessing???

Moving across the world, not once, but TWICE  in less than two years time. From being financially secure to struggling to pay off credit card debts and working to get ahead after the recession hit; not to mention how expensive it is to move overseas.  The stress on our family, the unknown of what was going to happen and where we were going to settle in. The emotions, the guilt, the arguments, the fact that now we are living with a small amount of our “belongings” as most of our stuff is still sitting in a storage box overseas. Why? Because it costs another small fortune to bring it back, plus the fact of getting the grunt work set up to pack it all up and move it when we aren’t physically there.

I know we will have the rest of our “stuff” back. I know we are happy to be where we are, finally free of the unknown and imbalance within ourselves of what we truly agreed upon within ourselves. Life is a struggle all it’s own. So adding this ginormous topic was a heavy burden to carry.

But it was a blessing.

I can now say that with confidence and clarity. First of all, because I see within my children, the joy and understanding they have within their hearts and souls that I could never have taught them on my own. I see my husband, put all outside issues away to focus in on his immediate circle and grow himself in many ways. I see how I’ve also grown and learned to understand areas that I was incapable of accepting before.

So, we don’t have our “stuff”? This was a topic I had been complaining about for the past year or so…until I recently heard a woman’s story that sounded oddly similar to ours. She also moved to another country with her husband and children, and in doing so, SOLD all of their belongings, except for what would fit into a suitcase to move.

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We didn’t SELL all of our stuff.

But instead of complaining about this fact, she now writes about minimalism and how it’s changed her life. Here, I’m complaining that I need my “stuff” and she is proud that she doesn’t have a lot of “stuff”. Their family has also moved back again and now keeps their stuff to a minimum.

But what about my photos, my wedding album, my china, my everything else??

This is what I had been complaining and stressing about. What was this woman saying? She said that they had sold everything except of course, what they could pack into their suitcases and she also saved her china and wedding albums. These items, they put into storage before they moved. Now that they have moved back, she has yet to open the storage and use these “saved” items. She shared that she now asks if that had been a wise choice to save these “things”.

Wow.

I was blown away because this was the complete opposite of what I was saying. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still would love to bring back my wedding items and photos and “stuff”; but the reality is it’s not what is truly important.

The important things are not “things” at all, but are my husband and children, and they are with me now and have been with me the entire time. I had been looking at it wrong because of the outside stresses and elements and unknowns.

The important lessons have been learned and we continue to grow and thrive in these blessings that occur. I now understand that stuff is just stuff. I haven’t seen the stuff in over two years and I’ve been getting along just fine without them. Seems that we tend to put a lot of undue importance in things that don’t really have much to do with our daily lives.

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Amen. I see it now and it has calmed my need to be “perfect” and have all of my “things”.

Does Yoga Make You Cry?

so today was yoga day in my program, The 21 Day Fix Extreme.

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I love yoga days because it’s usually a break in my challenging workouts during the week but also it helps me to lengthen my muscles that have been tightened to the extreme, and can tend to hold on to kinks and resulting in minor issues later on.

Stretching just makes life better, right? And if you don’t already currently do any stretching because it “hurts”…for crying out loud, You need it more!!!!

Anyway, keeping to my “mellow” mood of the morning and not wanting to already let go of my calm and zen; I’ll reflect a bit on what exactly went on during my practice this morning. It was an epiphany of sorts, and a deeper understanding of me and life.

I’ll be honest and say that we all go through our stresses in life; our ups and downs; our highs and lows…and so on and so forth. It is something I am currently learning to deal with in a higher place of understanding when I am confronted with crappola.

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And that is what has happened throughout the past decade or so of my life. (which I’m sure we can all agree for each of us, right?) Now, I’m not one to condone complaining but for the sake of this blog post; just hear me out.

I’ve had some major life “stuff” (for lack of a stronger, less “family-friendly” word) thrown at me (or should I just say hurled my way) in the previous 10+ years. Not all the same stuff, but lots of unbalanced and unhealthy and spirit & mind & faith crushing stuff.

I had a realization at one point (and it was at that point, I was curled up on the bathroom floor bawling my eyes out and just feeling sooo sorry for myself) when I looked up and saw my two young children peering around the corner of the room to see how mom was doing..or maybe what the heck is mom doing????

It hit me like a ton of bricks. This life isn’t just about me anymore. (was it ever???) It’s about so much more. It’s about the family and friends I have right in front of my face. It was one of those moments where you just have to peel yourself up from the lowest of lows and will yourself to go forward.

one. step. at. a. time.

And so I did. I vowed at that moment to not let my pity party overtake the more important things of my life. That meant that my children and hubby were the central heart of those “important” things of my life.

After that moment of truth, I went on to deal with my “stuff” and just appreciate the blessings I had; versus looking at what I currently “didn’t have”. We can all get caught up in that type of mindset, and I believe it’s because we’ve been taught to do just that. The only way out of that negative process is to focus on what we want MORE of in our life.

Life did balance out and I was a happy camper once again…but it wasn’t all butterflies and rose gardens, to say the least.

And you know what? so what????

That’s right! So what??? I’ve been blamed for things that had nothing to do with me, I’ve been hurt, betrayed, disrespected, and more…. and tell me, who hasn’t at some point or another?

but so what?

Who am I to give power to people who don’t understand, respect and honor the person that I am today? I know in my heart that I do my best and love on people as much as I possibly can (sometimes TOO much so) but if there are those who already have a perception about me and don’t see the real intent I have; SO WHAT?

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And that brings me full circle back to my yoga practice today. I feel like my level of understanding my own limits; and those of people around me, make me a better person. Pushing my limits of fitness, understanding, love, spirituality and more is what my life is all about. In my practice today, I used that focus and decided to just be in the moment and stop limiting myself or judging my limitations. Just be and be grateful for that journey today. This made me actually cry through my practice and I know that proves that I am working on expanding my body (through flexibility and strength); my mind (through the personal growth I am working on improving every day) and my spirit (of just being grateful for today, no judgments or criticisms).

 

There is crying allowed in yoga, by the way 😉

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Who Wants ABS? (or maybe I should just ask who doesn’t to weed out the non-committed folks!) :)

IMG_0953This is for all the beautiful people who have been dreaming and wishing and hoping to one day have a sexy midsection! Is that YOU?? I am pretty sure it’s most of the population! LOL

When it comes to creating incredible abs, even the most effective workout programs can only bring you so far. That’s because you can’t get a flat, hard midsection without losing body fat. No matter how much effort you put into creating a six-pack, no one’s going to see it if it’s covered by a layer of flab.

Seriously, I know! I’ve worked out so intensely and so often that if this was a proven method, I’d have had a six pack for most of you reading this today! 😉  But, alas, foods are the KEY to getting those abs to POP!

If you’re following the dietary guidelines of a fitness program, you’ll automatically be eating the right foods to lose fat as you get in shape. But the following seven principles can give you an extra edge, and will help ensure that the effort you’re putting into your abs will bring you the results you want.

1. Get plenty of protein
Eating enough lean protein promotes fat loss and muscle gain, the two most important elements for developing great abs. It also helps keep you from getting hungry while you’re eating right. You don’t have to gobble down 12-ounce steaks—just eat a normal portion of lean meat, fish, low-fat dairy, or vegetarian protein with every meal, and make sure your snacks contain some protein, too. If you still have a hard time getting enough in your diet, a daily Shakeology shake can be a perfect addition.

By the way, protein is especially important in the morning, when a lot of people don’t get as much as they should. A protein-rich breakfast will help keep your blood sugar steady for hours, preventing the dips that can lead to cravings later in the day. (Try some low-fat chicken sausage, or an omelet with one whole egg and three egg whites, along with fruit or whole-grain toast.) Tell me how much protein do YOU get each day? I see and talk with so many women who DON’T bcuz they think it will “bulk” them up….

NOT! Get that protein in yo face asap! 😉

2.Reconsider your carbs.
Despite the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets, the average American meal is still too high in sugar and fast-burning starches to bring body fat down to ab-baring levels. It’s time to say goodbye to sweetened soda, ditch the Doritos, and save the cake for your birthday. DUH!  If your fitness plan calls for a sports drink before a long cardio workout, or a carb-and-protein recovery drink after resistance training, that’s fine. But the rest of the time, stick with foods that are on the low end of the glycemic index (refer to GlycemicIndex.com for more information)—these foods burn more slowly, so they won’t spike your blood sugar and insulin levels.

3. Have fun with fiber.
Something about the word “fiber” just doesn’t sound appetizing. But high-fiber foods can actually be quite delicious: fresh berries and other fruits, salads loaded with colorful produce, your favorite steamed vegetables or vegetable soup, stews or chili made with beans, chewy whole-grain breads and cereals…You get the picture. (These foods just happen to be loaded with nutrients as well.) High-fiber foods keep you fuller with fewer calories, and they help keep your digestive system working at its best—a double-whammy for getting rid of belly bulge. And “double-whammy” is such a fun word to use that I encourage you to try it out a few times this week!

4. Enjoy some yogurt.
Probiotics, the healthful bacteria found in yogurt and other fermented foods, have been proven to help reduce belly fat. In a recent study in Finland, new mothers who took probiotic supplements averaged smaller waist circumferences—and lower body fat in general—than those who didn’t take probiotic supplements. And while the topic is still controversial, studies have found that eating lots of calcium-rich dairy foods like yogurt may increase overall weight loss. It’s why I eat Greek yogurt and drink my Shakeology DAILY!!

5. Don’t forget to eat.
Tempted to lower your daily calorie count by skipping meals? Don’t. Seriously, I cannot tell you how many women tell me that they don’t know why they aren’t losing weight; since they only eat maybe 1 time a day!!! EXCUSE MOI??????

Going hungry can raise your levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol, which research has found can increase belly fat even in otherwise thin women. And eating too infrequently can lower your metabolism and energy levels, while increasing the chance that you’ll get too hungry and decide to chuck your meal plan entirely. If you’re eating the right foods, regular meals and snacks will keep your body fueled while you’re working toward that strong core. You MUST eat!!! It’s the ONLY way! 😉

6. Drink more fluids. Hydration is important when you’re on a fitness plan, but drinking plenty of water has particular benefits for your midsection. It helps keep your stomach full, so you don’t overeat, and it helps flush out excess sodium to prevent belly bloating. (Eating more potassium-rich foods, such as tomatoes and bananas, will also help in this area.) Plain ol’ H20 can’t be beat, but you can also switch it up with flavored waters, iced tea, and anything else you like to drink that isn’t full of sweeteners. How much do you need? The old rule of 8 glasses a day is a good start, but everyone is different: drink more if you’re exercising or it’s hot out, and drink less if you’re running to the bathroom every 5 minutes.  I will challenge you to drink the recommended amount for fit individuals; 1/2 your body weight in ounces!! So for someone who is 150 lbs; they would need to drink at least 75 oz of water every day! Or a gallon if you are really up to the challenge!

7. …With two exceptions.
It’s time to cut down on those mood-altering substances, coffee and alcohol. Too much caffeine raises your cortisol levels and can impair your sleep, which can lower the production of fitness-promoting hormones. Meanwhile, the proverbial “beer belly” isn’t just the result of extra calories—alcohol actually makes it more difficult for your body to metabolize carbs and fat. Booze also stimulates your appetite and lowers your inhibitions, which can lead to bingeing. The best road to flat abs is no alcohol at all, but if you really like a drink now and then, just have one at a time (and no more than a few a week), and stay away from higher-calorie beers and sugary mixed drinks. Something to seriously consider especially over the weekends, am I right or am I right? (you are SO smart! lol)

If you add these rules to your fitness plan, you’re sure to see faster improvements in your midsection. Of course, there’s an added bonus to eating this way: it’ll keep you healthier, too. That may not be as big an inducement as great abs, but that’s just  for free.

Do you need an added incentive? I have a BUSY MOM’S support group starting first of the month and welcome you to message me today for info on joining. You can succeed and have time for your family AND save money along the way! All thrown in for extra bonus!! 😉

Email me at: http://www.spazzykay@gmail.com