Monthly Archives: March 2014

What’s For Dinner? Yummy Rice Bowls

rice bowl-2Tonight I made one of my family’s favorite meals for dinner: Yummy Rice Bowls. I got the idea when I visited a local restaurant that was known for making really delicious vegetarian and vegan meals (Cafe Yum). I tried one of their rice bowls and was blown away with how delicious it was. After investigating the contents of my rice bowl, I realized I could easily make it at home. Here’s the low down:

I get a batch of brown rice going in my rice cooker. While that cooks, I cut up fresh broccoli, tomatoes and avocados. I also open up a can of kidney beans, black beans, or pinto beans (depending on my mood). I steam the broccoli, heat up the beans, and right about  now the rice will be done.

Now spoon the rice in bowls and top with beans, broccoli, tomatoes, avocados, and a sauce of your liking. I use a sauce I found in a recipe book that is creamy and tastes a little like curry. You can find this type of sauce at Cafe Yum if you don’t want to make it yourself. Mix everything together and enjoy a healthy, inexpensive, yummy vegetarian dinner!

How Far Can You Stretch?

stretchI don’t know about you, but I have a hard time finding the time to stretch. I know it’s important, I know I’ll feel better, but when I finish my workout it’s hard to get myself to stay and stretch.

 

But then I remember this…..

 

“Blessed are those who are flexible for they shall never be bent out of shape”

- Adapted from Robert Ludlum

 

I’m talking about keeping our bodies flexible in this blog, but it’d be good for us to remember to be flexible in all aspects of our lives.  :)

 

Stretching will improve our flexibility. Being more flexible will allow us to be better at athletics and have fewer injuries while we’re active, and we’ll have better posture.

 

Age, a sedentary lifestyle, injury, weight gain, and disease can all lead to us being less flexible.

 

There are two main types of stretching:

 

1 – Dynamic stretching is an active way to stretch. These are usually done by teams and can be sport specific. Choose stretches that will warm up the muscles you will be using during your workout. When doing a dynamic stretch don’t hold the stretch for any longer than two seconds. Some examples of a dynamic stretch are leg swings, butt kicks, and high knees. (We don’t have a dynamic stretch workout)

 

2 – Static stretching is done by slowly stretching and holding the stretch for 10-30 seconds. This is the most popular type of stretching and should be done after your  workout, while your muscles are still warmed up. Diet Tools has some great ideas for static stretches you can try.

 

The ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) recommends that we stretch at least 3 times a week.

 

While stretching be sure that you don’t hold onto a joint in order to hold a stretch. For instance, when doing a hamstring stretch, don’t hold at your knee or ankle. Hold at your hamstring or calf.

 

Let’s all work to increase our flexibility in order to prevent injuries and keep us healthy and active.

 

Look 10 Pounds Thinner with this Simple Trick

young woman doing push-upsHave you ever noticed that looking thin is often times an illusion? Depending on what you wear, you can look 10 pounds heavier or 10 pounds thinner? This is what the fashion world is all about: making you look thinner, taller, or bigger busted with something as simple as a different pair or jeans or v-necked shirt. I have found my own secret trick to help me look 10 pounds thinner no matter what I’m wearing.

The secret is all in the arms. When you look at a person, one of the most noticeable things is their arms because they are long, they stick out, and they are close to your eye level. If your arms are overweight or saggy, they make your entire body look overweight. If your arms are thin and toned, they make the rest of you look thinner as well. I know that most of us tend to focus more on losing weight from our stomachs, thighs or butt, but don’t underestimate the power of sexy arms.

Here’s my challenge to you: For the next 4 weeks spend at least 5 minutes a day doing arm workouts. You can do this by lifting dumbbells, doing push ups or tricep dips, or by even doing something as simple as jumping jacks. After 4 weeks, take a look at your arms and see if they look thinner, and if that helps you look thinner overall. I think you’ll be pleased with the results. You could even take a before and after picture to see the difference. Good luck!

“I’m Not A Runner” said the Future Half Marathoner

Miriam's-Half-Marathon-finiAbout four years ago all of my friends were training for races and I had absolutely no interest in running. While growing up I had played competitive basketball, soccer and softball, and I love sports, but the idea of running just by itself sounded painful to me. Then one day I looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw, and I knew something needed to change.

Within the next couple months I started walking more and more, and then started running intermittently. On my 31st birthday I ran one straight mile and I was absolutely thrilled. From that day forward, I began to run more and more. One year later I ran my first 5K and it felt great. That year I ran 4 more 5Ks and kept getting stronger with each race. At this point I knew I needed a bigger challenge, so I trained for and ran a 10K. Boy was that fun, but I still craved something more.

On September 23, 2012 I ran my first half marathon and crossed the finish line with the biggest grin on my face, as you can see in the picture. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I did it. I ran a second half marathon 6 months later and knocked 12 minutes off my time. I felt like a real marathoner. So, here’s the moral of the story. If you’ve never run before, don’t be afraid to try. It’s like everything else in life; just take it one step at a time. Before you know it, you could be like me running your first half marathon.

Staying Fit With Your Partner

Man and women running on tropical beach at sunsetWhen my husband, Chad, and I got married, I was so excited to have built in workout partner living with me. After the honeymoon was over, I was so excited to wake up for our first day of real life together. I got my workout clothes ready the night before, and set my alarm just like I’d done my entire life. When the alarm went off at 5:30, I jumped out of bed. I was so excited to start our new workout life together. I woke Chad up, when the alarm didn’t wake him up. “Come on” I said, “it’s morning. Let’s go!!”

“What??” He asked “Go back to bed, it’s still dark outside.” I was so confused, why wouldn’t anyone want to be out running when the sun came up. (Don’t worry, after having kids, I no longer jump out of bed every morning)

I was so disappointed and confused.

This was the beginning of Chad and I trying to learn how to support one another in fitness.

We both loved to workout, but I’d never communicated to him what my expectations were. I just assumed everyone was the same way I was.

I think most people have similar communication errors in their marriages especially when they first get married.

So the first step in helping you and your spouse be healthy together is to communicate.

 

Ask each other a few questions:

 

What do you enjoy doing for a workout?

When is the best time of day for you to workout?

How many times a week do you want to workout?

Do you want to workout together or would your prefer to workout alone or with a friend?

If you’re running do you want to stay together if the other needs to walk or are you okay with your significant other running ahead while you catch your breath?

If you’re lifting weights together do you want to stick together and spot one another, or do you just want to be in the gym at the same time and that’s good enough for you?

What is your main goal? To lose weight, bulk up, or just stay fit?

What are some of your biggest challenges when it comes to working out and how can I support you and help you with these challenges?

 

Ask each other the same types of questions about diet:

How can I support you?

Are we doing this together as a team or is this more of an individual goal?

Do you want me to point it out when you mess up, or just be there to support you when realize you’ve messed up?

Set goals together or individually and then take the time to discuss your goals and how to reach them.

After 14 years of marriage Chad and I are finally in a workout groove. It’s not what I would have imagined it to be, but it works great for us.

I get up early and exercise with my workout friends, while the kids are sleeping. Chad gets up around the same time, but he starts his work day while I’m exercising. When I get home we both get the kids ready and off to school, and then Chad heads out to the gym with his friends.

When we have an off day we’ll go for a jog together. Or sometimes go swim a few laps together in the middle of the day. We’re still active and supportive of one another but we workout separately, and it works great. We still do a lot of active things like soccer, tennis or swimming with our kids during the day. It’s great because I still get girl time with my running partners and he gets to workout with his guy friends, and we’re both working out at the time of day that works best for each of us.

What works best for you and your significant other?

Lots to think about.

 

Is Walking as Healthy as Running?

Walking or runningI’ve heard people say that walking is as good as running and I was curious to know if that is really true so I googled it because isn’t that how we find the answer to everything? LOL.

The Huffington Post published an article about it that rang true to me. You can read the article here.

Basically they say that studies show that running is better for weight loss and appetite regulation than walking. Lap for lap, running burns almost 2.5 times more calories than walking but with running there is also a greater risk of injury.

 

Regardless of whether you walk or run, both exercises get the same health benefits which include: better cardio health, lower risk of diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol.

The article also mentioned that if running is not your thing (that’s me!) than you can strap on ankle and hand weights while you walk and that increases your intensity without having to increase your speed.

Curbing My Chocolate Obsession

chocolate banana cookies watermarked small

When it comes to eating healthy, I tend to do fairly well at avoiding things like fried foods, fatty meat and soda. However, my personal, continual downfall is my undying love of chocolate. I never crave candy or cheesecake, cupcakes or ice cream, but I almost always crave chocolate. Because of this, I have decided to come up with a healthy way to deal with this obsession without completely ruining my diet.

I am constantly on the lookout for great chocolate recipes that I can make when I absolutely can’t resist the craving. One of my most recent finds is this recipe for Chocolate Banana Cookies. I came across this recipe a few weeks ago and made it for my family. I was very pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to make, and how delicious the cookies were. My 8 year old daughter loved the cookies and would have eaten the whole batch in one sitting if I had allowed it.

If you are a fellow chocoholic like myself, this recipe might just fit your next craving. After all, semi-sweet and dark chocolate is actually healthy for you. Live it up!

 

Apple Survival

Green appleSo my hubby has a friend who wanted to do a case study on a diet he has been working on. I don’t think it has a name yet so I’ll call it the Apple Diet. He asked a bunch of his friends to try it out for 10 days and let him know their results.

Basically the diet was Apples, Tuna packets, and one salad packet each day along with drinking lots of water. So for 10 days, Josh tried the Apple diet and of course, eating that little, he lost about 14 pounds in 10 days. He was excited to have lost that much weight in such a short period of time!

Who wouldn’t be excited to see that kind of success?! But let’s be honest, a person probably shouldn’t follow such a low calorie diet for very long and I happen to know that eating a variety of foods is important in order to get all the nutrients a body needs.

At the end of the 10 days, my hubby was sick of apples and was super excited to eat what he called “real food” which was anything other than apples, tuna, and salad packets.

Because he had starved it for 10 days, his body had held onto every calorie he ate and his weight went right back up.

The classic pitfall of yo-yo dieting!

Gravity – My Most Recent Nemesis

Girl doing SkippingIt seems like just yesterday I was 16 and thin, not worrying about the huge bowl of ice cream I just ate, not realizing that someday I would have stretch marks, lumps in places I did not prefer, or a back end that bounced more than I would like. That is the joy of youth I suppose. The gift of living in the present, not worrying too much about the future. Fast forward almost 20 years (yes, I said it) and you’ll see a thirty something mom that has to work really hard to not blow up like a balloon.

Like many women, things on my body that used to be firm, hang down a little more than I’d like, which is why gravity has recently become my nemesis. Although this is depressing at times, I have found a way to combat this enemy in an effective and simple way. I DEFY IT! That’s right, the best way to fight against gravity is to defy it by doing exercises that require you to life your body off the ground. Let me explain.

When you jump, it takes a large amount of muscles to get your entire body off the ground. This activates your arm muscles, core muscles, leg muscles and back muscles simultaneously. In one quick motion, you get a full body workout. Have you ever wondered why the famous Rocky Balboa did so much jump roping? He knew that it was one of the best ways to build cardio endurance, strength, and burn calories.

So, here is my challenge to you. Find all the possible ways you can add jumping into your day, or exercise routine. Do jumping jacks during commercials. Get a jump rope and try to jump for one minute straight. You’ll be shocked by how difficult this is, and how much it raises your heart rate. I guarantee that if you start jumping more each day, you will start to burn some of that extra fat that has been hanging around way too long.

 

2nd Trimester . . . Ballooning Belly Blues

Baby shower cupcakesI’ve entered the second trimester and I find out gender in just a couple weeks! Yea! I think it’s a girl but I have absolutely no evidence to back me up.

Don’t get me wrong…I’ll be happy with a little boy too but my inner feelings say it’s a girl.

The second time around I feel like my belly has ballooned out a lot faster than the first time. It’s already difficult to bend over or hold Knight on my lap for story time and I have to use a folded up towel at night to prop my belly up a little bit.

Now that most of the nausea is gone I’m walking regularly. Jogging pregnant isn’t my thing but a brisk walk is refreshing and is helping me feel better about my ballooning belly.

I’m trying to find safe exercises to do this trimester, nothing fancy, but enough to keep my arms from flabbing and get me ready for “the event” (the part that comes at the end of nine months).

There is a short and simple workout here that has been helpful. I also like this one that’s supposed to help with the pregnancy aches.

Strong pregnant body here I come!