FREE 7-Day Clean Eating Challenge

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I've posted this on my Facebook page and at my workplace and have gotten such a huge response. If you want in on this too, leave me a message and I'll add you to the group. Did I mention it's FREE!!!

I'm trying something new and leading a FREE 7-day Clean Eating Challenge, starting Feb 8, leading right up to Valentine's day. Clean eating is a great way to "refresh" the body and get you into the habit of eating whole, natural foods. This is not a "diet," this is about creating an overall healthy lifestyle that aligns with your health goals. Clean eating goes hand-in-hand with exercise to deliver powerful results.
My hope and goal is that after these 7 days, you'll feel so much better and want to continue eating this way. I want to help you kick the packaged, fast-food habits in favor of energizing, nutrient-filled eating with daily tips and motivation. I'm going to share my secrets for meal planning and prep and offer shopping lists and recipes to guide you.
If I give you 7 days of my undivided attention, will you put yourself ALL IN for ONE week? Leave a comment or message me if you're interested in signing up. If you have a friend that might be interested, feel free to share the invite. You don't want to miss this freebie because I probably won't do another one for awhile!

Weekly Eats

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I like to share what I'm eating on here in hopes that I might inspire you to meal prep for the week, setting you up for a successful week of healthy eating. I like to offer a glimpse of what I'm preparing as sort of a sample menu for cleaner, healthier eating or in case you're wondering what a health-conscious nut might be eating at any given time. I myself sometimes return to these posts when I can't think of what to eat for the week, so it's helpful to pick and choose what you might want to incorporate into your own meal planning.

This is what my week looks like:

  • Breakfast: My signature breakfast of egg whites with salsa and cheese + breakfast sausage + Shakeology smoothie
  • Snack: No-bake energy bites + string cheese
  • Lunch: Black bean runner's stew + kale salad (I don't use all the ingredients listed)
  • Snack: Cottage cheese + cucumber
  • Dinners: Chicken wings, beef tips and gravy, teriyaki meatballs, burgers, etc.

Our dinners aren't completely on the clean side as Hubster is taking over most of the cooking, but this is what a typical Midwesterner's diet looks like anyhow, no? And I always make sure we fill up on healthy veggies, salads or fruits with our dinners.

This picture is just for attention! She'll be having milk and baby oatmeal this week. Clean eating at its finest!

What are you eating this week?

Tone it Up and Workout Tips During Pregnancy

Monday, January 19, 2015

I'm a huge fan of Tone it Up, it's no surprise. I talk about them frequently on here. But once I became pregnant, I sort of started to ignore the workouts and motivation that K&K provide religiously. I just kind of shied away from anything that wasn't pregnancy-specific. And let's face it, their workouts are geared toward young, single or newly married women looking for a beach body. Preggos/moms aren't really their target market:)


However, during pregnancy I started to miss Tone it Up and I realized I could still incorporate a lot of their workouts into my prenatal routine, with some modifications.

Here are a few general pregnancy exercise guidelines (but always, always ALWAYS talk to your doctor first):

  1. Avoid lying flat on your back or tummy, especially after the second trimester. You may still be able to do booty bridges and things like that while propped up on a pile of pillows, but if anything feels uncomfortable, stop.
  2. Don't go too intense. I enjoyed taking my workouts down a notch during pregnancy. If your doctor recommends it, you can continue with the types of workouts you were doing before becoming pregnant. However, huffing and puffing isn't always safe. It's usually recommended that you keep your intensity at a level where you can still speak conversationally. And you also don't want to be working on gains during this tender period.
  3. Twisty positions are kind of hard to manage in later stages of pregnancy. You may want to avoid them or modify them as necessary.
  4. Don't get up/down really fast: blood pressure drops and blood flow changes can really mess with a pregnant woman. Moves like surfboard jumps and burpees may not be best.
  5. Jumping around: not only would this be super uncomfortable, but it can be unsafe. Moves that are jumpy or have the potential to cause you to fall are not advisable.
  6. Don't stretch too far: the hormone relaxin can really mess with a pregnant woman's body and stretching too far is definitely a danger. Be careful to stretch only to the point where you just feel it and be careful not to go too deep.
  7. Balance is tricky. During pregnancy, a woman's balance is compromised. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean she shouldn't do any balance moves at all, but she should be extra cautious.
  8. Different goals. Most pregnant women are not working on their beach bodies or running endurance races. We're preparing for labor, trying not to gain over the recommended pregnancy weight, trying to feel better/have more energy, and wanting to bounce back after baby. That being said, the workout needs to be tailored to those goals.
  9. Getting too hot can be dangerous for a pregnant woman. Now, our bodies are super efficient at regulating temperatures and keeping baby safe, but getting too hot is still a concern. Bikram yoga and running on a 104 degree day are probably not in the cards. Drink lots and lots and lots of water and stay cool.
  10. Preventing diastasis recti: Anything that pushes the stomach out rather than pulls it in is probably not recommended at this point. Pushing out (as during crunches) can actually increase that gap in the abs, so you need to be careful with ab moves.

With these recommendations in mind, and after a talk with my doctor, I was able to sift through the Tone it Up workouts to find some that were both tolerable and safe for me.

A few of my pregnancy favorites:

Arms: there's not much need to modify with arm exercises, and your tummy doesn't interfere too much with them. Here are my top arm picks:


Total Body

Now, I wasn't able to follow the TIU nutrition plan at all. Pregnancy threw off all my food habits from the beginning, when morning sickness left only Culver's mashed potatoes and Pop Tarts to be tolerable. I wasn't able to meal prep because thinking about preparing food made me nauseous and grossed me out big time. Later in pregnancy though, I was able to maintain a relatively healthy diet, but it definitely wasn't all clean and Hubster had to prepare most of our dinners (which turned into leftover lunches the next day). I was totally ok with that and enjoyed the break, but I sure did miss some of the recipes from the plan!

Aside from TIU workouts, I also have a few workouts other workouts that I recommend for expecting mommas:

How You Can Diet and Actually Eat More!!!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Did you read that right? Yes, you can eat MORE!!! The idea that "dieting" means restriction is quite a misconception. First of all, I'm not a fan of the word "diet." Or rather, I think of "diet" as simply meaning what you eat. I don't like thinking about diets as something you do temporarily, a way you restrict calories for a set amount of time. That being said, dieting doesn't have to mean restriction. I like to think of it more as a playground: it's fun, it's healthy, it's energizing, and there is an abundance! Reframe your mind to think of diet as a means of exploration and quality rather than a restriction.

The thing is, when you eat "clean," you can pile your plate FULL and still lose weight. Remember my three breakfasts under 500 calories? On the other hand, you can't out-exercise a bad diet. You likely won't have good results if you're eating Easy-Mac, pizza, or Hamburger Helper every day. And your portions would be tinier calorie for calorie than fresh food. Further, you don't want to displace the calories for something nutrient-dense with something refined and non-beneficial. Two slices of white bread have little nutritional value and displace about 120 calories that you could've gotten from something much more satiating and vitamin-filled. And you won't have to ride out the insulin spikes and dips!

Take for example my meal plan for this week. I ate a LOT of food during the day, was very satisfied, and was genuinely surprised by how many calories I had left over for dinnertime.

  1. Shakeology smoothie (1c frozen berries, 1 scoop ShakeO, 1/4c milk): 238 calories
  2. Egg whites with 4Tbsp salsa, turkey sausage and grapefruit: 327 calories
  3. Chickpea salad: 145 calories
  4. Quinoa bowl and sweet potatoes with a sprinkle of brown sugar and pecans: 345 calories
  5. Greek yogurt with honey: 161 calories
    1. Total calories: 1216
Shakeology smoothie

Grapefruit, eggs and salsa, sausage

Quinoa bowl and sweet potatoes

Chickpea salad

Greek yogurt and honey


Wow, look at all that food! And that's not even including supper. I literally felt like I was eating all day! AND losing weight? Just, wow!

Want to learn how to eat MORE too? Here are some tips:

  • Keep ingredients simple: stick to whole, the-way-God-made-them foods and simple, recognizable ingredient lists.
  • Pile on the veggies: the main part of every meal should be veggies; meat should be a side dish. Fruit is great too!
  • Eat lean meats instead of fatty ones: you can eat a ton more grilled chicken (with more satiating protein) than ground beef, and save yourself sooo much fat. For example, one pound of boneless skinless chicken breast has 880 calories/20g fat/184g protein while typical 85/15 ground beef has 1,152 calories/65g fat/128g protein. 
  • Get your flavor from simple spices, vinegars, mustards, and the like. These add sooo much taste for negligible calories.
  • Remove liquid calories: drink mostly water. Liquid calories are a huge waste!

With clean eating, it's pretty safe to say that green vegetables are unlimited. That doesn't mean gnawing on raw salad greens all day--unless that's your jam! It could mean balsamic Brussels sprouts, it could mean grilled asparagus, it could mean a yummy cucumber tomato salad, it could mean a huge bowl of veggie soup. Just be careful with your toppings. Vinegar- and mustard-based dressings are great, but limit olive oils, heavy cheeses and the like. Grilling is a great way to add tons of flavor without adding "weight" to greens. See, you can really eat a LOT, if you do it right!

Healthy Food Prep How-To and Sample Meal Plan

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Setting myself up for a week of success starts on Sunday. I am much more likely to stay on track if I have my meals prepped before the week starts. So, my family typically does the grocery shopping after church on Sunday and then I prep my food straight out of the grocery bags when we get home. It has gotten a little bit trickier with an infant to care for too. She slept through a good 1/2 of my food prep this week, but then I had to stir things and nurse at the same time for the other half. A momma's gotta do what a momma's gotta do.

Now I'm one of those people that can eat the same thing all week. It has to be tasty though. I've made a few duds that I could barely swallow by week's end (lentil meatloaf, blech!). But I have many old standbys that I make regularly and that I know I'll look forward to all week.

Tip #1: Start by creating a list of all the breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks you enjoy that you can reference when you're all out of ideas.

So, each week, I plot out what I'm going to eat at work for breakfast, snack and lunch every day. Every morning, I also have a Shakeology smoothie after my workout at home, so I have to remember to pick up frozen fruit. So, then, I think about all the ingredients I'll need for these meals and write out what I need on my grocery list. Then, Hubster and I try to figure out at least 5 dinners for the week. We typically either have leftovers, go out to eat, or have dinner with family/friends the other two nights.  I try to keep our dinners pretty clean too, but Hubster likes to cook too and it's not always "nature-made" types of meals. He's a meat and potatoes man, and that's ok with me.

Tip #2: Using your list of meal ideas, sketch out a plan of what you're going to eat for each and every meal for the week. It doesn't have to be exact, but you should have a pretty good idea of what you'll be eating and when. This is where it's much easier to eat the same thing every day for breakfast and lunch. (And a lot of the food we get is in cartons, like Greek yogurt, so it doesn't make sense to eat it as a snack for only one day).

So, here's what I'm planning to eat for the week (keep in mind I'm nursing so my intake is higher than normal):

Breakfast: Egg whites + Salsa + Turkey links
Snack 1: Plain Greek yogurt with toppings (pecans and honey)
Lunch: Quinoa with mixed veggies and feta (tomatoes, spinach, mushroom, onion)
Snack 2: Chickpea salad like this
Family dinners: 
  • Beef tips and gravy like this
  • Easiest crockpot chicken parmigiana ever (chicken + 1 can spaghetti sauce, top with mozzarella)
  • Teriyaki meatballs (ground turkey + egg + oats + teriyaki sauce, baked in oven)
  • Turkey stroganoff like this
  • Broccoli/chicken crockpot meal like this

You'll notice that not all of our meals are completely clean, but they're pretty darn healthy and soooo much better than packaged foods or most restaurant foods. My chickpeas and salsa come out of a can for convenience and they're still pretty darn healthy.

Tip #3: Transfer all ingredients needed for meals onto your grocery list

Here's my corresponding grocery list. Some of the ingredients we always have on-hand and some we needed to pick up.

Then, we head to the store, of course. We try to stick pretty closely to the list. We may throw one or two non-listed items in the cart, but ideally our goal is to spend $100 per week on groceries (including diapers and pet stuff). So, not only are we eating healthier, we're also saving money by preparing meals at home and sticking to our grocery list.

Tip #4: Most of your food should come from the perimeter of the store, i.e. the produce aisles, meat section and dairy section. The closest thing to how God made it.

Once we get home from the store and unpack everything, I get to work making my work food for the week. I find that for me, it's best if I start right away. I'm already up and about, handling all the food. If I put all the food away and get settled in, it's harder to get motivated.

Food prep doesn't actually take that long. Well, it could if you wanted to get fancy, but generally I spend an hour or less. That's one TV show--and I have healthy food for the entire week!

Tip #5: Always start with the food that takes the longest to cook.
Get those things that cook longer in first, especially the ones that don't require any attention while they're cooking. I put my acorn squash in the oven first where it went for 1 hour and then started the quinoa on the stovetop for its 15 minutes of cook time. While those things were cooking by themselves, I was chopping and sauteeing veggies and preparing the chickpea salad.

Yummy nighttime snack for the week. 
Simply place cut-side down in a pan of water and cook 375 for 1 hour

My pile of veggies sauteeing in olive oil while the quinoa was cooking. 
(My lunches consists of just these two mixed together with feta on top)

Quick chickpea salad

Tip #6: Load all your work food for the week in a thermal grocery bag.

Next, I load all the parts of my meals into a big grocery bag and bring it to work for the week. I used to portion out the egg whites and Greek yogurt into individual containers and take one at a time to work every day, but I've found that it's so much easier and so much less time consuming to just bring the whole container to work. I don't ever forget anything this way and I don't have to carry a lunch bag every day, just the one bag on Monday that stays in the work fridge all week. I know that the egg white (microwave scrambled eggs) and Greek yogurt containers have just enough for 5 days, so I never have to worry about portion sizes with things like that. The sausages come in 10-packs, so I have two per day--and then I don't waste plastic baggies on each serving either.

Dinners are just prepared nightly or thrown in the crockpot in the morning, depending on what we're in the mood for, who feels like cooking, etc. We like fast and easy meals, otherwise we're more tempted to go out or eat junk instead. I always keep a few extra things on-hand that we can snack on when we get home from school/work like string cheese, baby carrots, popcorn and the above acorn squash. The snacks typically need to be easy and in the front of the fridge so we remember they're there and don't grab for something less healthy. 

Really, for one hour on a Sunday, this type of preparation is so worth it! It's so much easier to stay on track during the week and not have to wonder what our next meal is going to be. It's not as hard as it seems to prep healthy food for an entire family for a whole week. Give it a try!

How do you prep for the week?

Weekend Highlights: Home Shopping and Lotsa Babies

Monday, January 12, 2015

The first thing I did Saturday morning, after feeding the kidlets of course, was Kenpo X from P90X. I had the cutest little workout partner who did pretty much the whole thing with me. And by "whole thing," I mean the whole 30 minutes that my DVD actually played. There's a glitch in my DVD that sends it back to the beginning after 30 minutes. And here I was ready to pound out an hour! Oh darn.

This weekend, Hubster wasn't feeling well. At. All. I'm pretty sure we're at the point that we should see a doctor. But you know boys... Anywho, we did make a quick trip to peek at a house on Saturday. It was the perfect house, in the perfect location, with the perfect garage/workspace and everything. It was on 7 acres with a wooded area and a creek. I mean, the stuff of dreams (well, mine at least). If it sounds too good to be true.... As the realtor put it, the foundation "needed some attention" Once that TLC (read: all new foundation) was taken care of, we'd be too far over our budget. And that wasn't even counting fixing the cracks in the walls from when the house had shifted.

But the realtor also had another listing for us to peek at, so it was good that we went. We were in full-on house hunting mode earlier in my pregnancy, and now that Rayna is past the crazy newborn stage, we're back at looking again. On our way home, we swung in to visit some family that lived close by so they could see Rayna, you know, before she heads off to college.

Sunday, I volunteered in the nursery at my church. I was wondering how it would go with taking care of other babies AND my own. Let's just say I actually broke a sweat. I was serving with a 14-ish year old girl and at one point, there were 7 babies in the room, 3 of which can't even sit up yet. AND it was during the Packer playoff game, so I was very surprised! I finally tried Rayna out in an exersaucer. She's still a wee bit small, but it was adorable. She needed a pillow under her feet. But at one point, all the babies surrounded her and they were all playing with the toys on it.

Check out this adorable upcycled outfit from our neighbor friends.
I love ruffle butts!

After church, we picked up Hubster and hit up the Chinese buffet. As if I needed this temptation after a whole week of hardcore training and eating clean. Well, at least they had some tasty healthy options so I didn't completely blow my progress. But I did have a little bit of the peanut butter chicken and some stuffed mushrooms.

Sunday prep day also happened. I'm currently working my way through P90X in this amazing Challenge Group that me and 4 other coaches are leading. I've already noticed some changes in my body after only 6 days and can't wait to see what happens by month's end. Anyway, I will be doing a post mid-week about how I meal prep, so you can see exactly what I'm eating to keep me on track. And I'll also be doing a review of how P90X and our Challenge Group is going soon.

Later in the evening, my parents came over to soak up some of that delicious baby love. It was nice to just have a laid-back weekend with visits with family and time together.

What did you do this weekend?