Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Life in the Fast Lane, Not the Fast Food Lane

If you're anything like me, then you probably don't have a lot of time during the week to make breakfast or lunch, let alone eat it. Whether you're spending your weekdays in a cubicle, cradling a bundle of joy, or somewhere in between there just isn't always time to spare for making healthy nutritious meals during the week. I have started taking steps to make my life easier when the stress of the middle of the week sets in. Here are some of my tips for making your life a little easier.

1. Eggs. Eggs are my best friend these days. On Sunday I make a bunch of boiled eggs and scrambled eggs to eat throughout the week. I eat scrambled eggs for breakfast and boiled egg whites with my lunch. Scrambled eggs can be heated in the microwave! I have them in individual containers in my fridge, and when it takes 30 seconds or less to reheat, it makes for a quick and filling breakfast on a weekday morning. Pair them with some whole wheat toast and some fruit for a powerhouse breakfast! Egg whites are filling and super easy to eat while doing other things.

2. Plan ahead and Prep ahead. Know what will be for dinner each day of the week, write it down, and then prep the things you can ahead of time. It won't seem so daunting to make dinner when basically all you have to do is heat or bake something delicious that you've prepped earlier in the week. Crockpot meals are also easy to throw together in the middle of the week, but they can also be high in sodium, so watch your recipes and try to choose healthy options.

3. Invest in your lunch. At my workplace, I do not have access to a refrigerator or microwave, so I eventually learned that I needed to get a lunch box and reusable ice packs. After a few weeks of sandwiches and cold food, I realized that I also needed to invest in a thermos. Get a lunch box that you like, which they make plenty of grown-up lunch box options these days, and then you will want to pack your lunch. This is also great because you can usually get everything ready the night before, and then just throw it in the lunch box before you run out the door.

4. If you are living in cubeland, then make the water cooler your friend! I have started to take advantage of all that the two spout water cooler has to offer. I used to only use the cold spout to refill my water bottle that I am always toting around. Recently I have discovered the greatness that is the hot spout. Oatmeal is a great alternative to cold lunches and soups. I also make a green tea when the afternoon grog starts to set in.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Switch-up

I am a seriously picky eater, which often makes healthy eating difficult for me. Over time I have been making substitutions and forcing myself to eat things that I don't really like in order to eat a healthier, more balanced diet. I have found that small substitutions can really make a big difference, so I am going to share a few examples of easy and yummy substitution ideas.

1. I love burritos. There are a few tricks that I have found really help make one of my favorite meals a win-win situation. I first decided that I would start buying the smaller tortillas. This first step is built in portion control. Just don't justify over-eating by saying that you can have more because of the smaller portion...that's the point. I also switched out flour for whole wheat. Swap your fatty beef for lean beef, ground turkey breast (check the package because it might have the skin ground in, which adds lots of fat), or chicken breast. Swap those refried beans for black beans (I throw mine in the food processor with some salsa!) because refried beans have tons of fat, while black beans are full of protein and fiber! And the last swap that you may not have thought of is brown rice with some lime juice instead of Spanish or Mexican style white rice. Don't forget to use low fat or fat free options when grabbing the sour cream and cheese.

2. Sandwiches just aren't the same without mayo. Which is probably a good thing considering it is almost pure fat, even if it is delicious. There are so many other things to throw on sandwiches,  wraps, or burgers that are healthier. Mustard is always a good choice since it is almost calorie free, but if your looking to mix things up, then try a little guacamole on your turkey with Swiss. Making chicken or tuna salad? Mix some Greek yogurt with a little Dijon mustard.

3. Chocolate milk, hold the syrup. I hate drinking milk, but there are times when I just really want a  big glass of ice cold chocolate milk. Even though we buy either almond or skim milk, it turns into a not-so-good treat when you dump a ton of sugary syrup in there to make it chocolaty. What's a better swap? I have recently started making my own chocolate milk by mixing unsweetened cocoa powder, a dash of salt, and a little Splenda into my milk. I know what you're thinking...gross. It isn't! It is possibly better than Hershey's Syrup, and I live in Pennsylvania! That would be considered slanderous here if I weren't using Hershey's Cocoa Powder, although any brand will work just fine. And a tip to mixing it all in, is to put the dry ingredients into the bottom of the cup, then add just a little hot tap water and stir it together before adding the cold milk.

My next switch-up is going to be the cauliflower pizza crust I keeping seeing all over the place. I bet it is going to be super yummy! Maybe I will even let you know how it goes. Let me know what other great switch-up ideas you have!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Putting it all out on the line!

Ok, so I had a physical fitness assessment in the summer that I let you in on before. I went in today for another assessment because I have decided to really make an investment in my health and fitness as I gear up for my Marathon and reach for other goals I have for myself. Although I am normally really cheap, I have decided to put my time and money into a personal trainer. As I have made clear on here before, I believe that knowledge is important, and I have decided to go to an expert.

I met with Isham, the personal training manager, at my gym today for my assessment. This went way better than when I had a near death experience with Fred. (I might be a bit dramatic on that one.) In 25 minutes, he was able to show me target HIT exercises that I could already tell were way more productive than what I might do by myself in an hour. I am so excited to learn more and do more in the gym to get myself on track. I am pumped to work with the trainers at my gym now.

I have also had a goal for about a year now that I have been putting on the back burner, but that goal has been moved up front and center thanks to Isham. I told him that I would really like to move from my current traditional job in the education field, into educating people about health and fitness. He then made a deal with me that I couldn't refuse. He agreed that if I work hard to get into the shape I want and a healthy BMI/Body fat percentage, that he would have the gym pay for my personal trainer certification course, and that a job would be waiting for me when I passed the certification exam. And yes, I did get all of that in writing with both of our signatures, along with a witness.

I have a lot of work to do, but 2013 is my year!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Workout DVD Collection and Reviews

The most common New Year's Resolution  is loosing weight. I've stopped making that mine because that is an every year, every day resolution that I have made for myself. Although I am not just trying to loose weight, but I am trying to live a healthy and active lifestyle, which is part of what writing this blog is all about for me; it is one of the ways I hold myself accountable and reflect on missteps, goals reached, and lessons learned. But every year come January, I hate getting up early and heading to the gym in the cold, so I like to start the year off at home where it's nice and warm. I will share some of my favorite at home workouts!

TaeBo: I freaking LOVE Billy Blanks. Ah, Tae Bo, the workout of the 90's. How can you go wrong? Well, let me tell you that you can't. I have the 10th Anniversary Ultimate Tae Bo workout DVD and the Tae Bo Power workout DVD. These are great because I feel like you really get the biggest bang for your buck. I bought these at Walmart for less than $10 each, and both DVD's have more than one workout. The Ultimate has a choice between an hour and a half long workout and a half hour workout. I like to switch them up even if I don't have a full hour and a half for the longer one. The power DVD came with Tae Bo weighted gloves, and it has a workout that targets the arms and one that targets the abs.

The Biggest Loser: I have the Cardio Max DVD from the Biggest Loser workout DVD collection. I have to say that this is a great choice for beginners. The workouts are shorter, and it has the option of six workouts that are arranged for a 6 week program. It is also has options for people who are at the beginner and more advanced levels. They even give suggestions on how to modify the workout for people with a somewhat limited range of mobility. (PS I am pumped that The Biggest Loser has just started a new season!)

Windsor Pilates: The Windsor Pilates Buns and Thighs DVD may seem simple at first glance, but you will definitely feel the burn! The moves are very basic, and super quick and easy, but believe me, it will give you what you are looking for with this workout. It is definitely one that needs to be done consistently for a longer period of time to really be able to see the results and not just to feel them during the workout though. I do this one year round.

Tracy Anderson Method: I recently added two Tracy Anderson Method videos to my collection, and let me tell you, her method DVD's are for more advanced fitness levels. They are also not the pop it in and go type of workouts because they have complicated moves that have to be learned before you can really get into the workout. I know that they will be a pretty good cardio workout once I learn them, but they are going to take quite a bit of time to master. All in all, they aren't at the top of my list for home workouts.

If you haven't checked out my post on the importance of yoga, then I seriously encourage you to do so now. I also do yoga at home, and I find it especially important after stressful weeks and long runs. I also got my yoga DVD for a great price at Walmart. I have found that Walmart tends to have a great workout DVD selection, especially in January.

If you don't want to take your chances in the sporting good section at Walmart, then you can check out collagevideo.com to get your DVD's. This website will let you return DVD's if you try something and decide it's not for you. I have never personally used this website, but I heard about it in a review on youtube, which is where I normally go for reviews before I buy a workout DVD.