New Goals & New Meal Plan

It’s a cliche time to set goals, I know. But it’s also a convenient time to set goals. So let’s get down to business.

To get my meals back on track, I’ve signed up for Tone It Up meal plan. Normally, I’ve not a fan of “meal plans” but I’ve heard from a reliable source (thanks, Brittany!) that the meals are not only delicious, but also packed with great ingredients. I think it’ll be a fun way to get out of my food rut and jumpstart the new year!

The plan focuses on lots of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. (Can’t really go wrong with those.) The recipes mix in proteins like temepeh and tofu with lots of vegetables, so I’m looking forward for new ways to cook with those sources of protein.

To get things started, I hit up the grocery store, and filled my cart with the essentials (which you can read more about here) so I’m feeling like I’m ready to tackle 2013!

Tone It Up Groceries

Stocking your fridge with healthy foods is the easiest way to stay on track with an new eating plan! If you’ve got things on hand, it’s easier to resist temptation! I’m excited to get back to being energized, rather than feeling like I’m in a sugar-cookie-coma.

Since you might be setting your own goals for the new year, I thought I’d share a few tips on keeping your resolution!

Keeping your new years resolution

Print it, pin it, make it your phone wallpaper. Whatever it takes to remind you that you’re working towards a goal!

Announcing my goals on the blog is huge accountability for me ;) I’ve also got a few friends doing the plan with me. Those are the two biggest things that help me succeed!

Here’s to a fit & healthy 2013!

Do you have any tips for keeping your resolutions?

Six Week Six Pack- Review

My Christmas presents this year had a pretty evident theme. Food & exercise. It’s like my parents know me really well or something…

Since I snagged a slow cooker, I’m in the market for some vegetarian crockpot recipes. Please send some my way. Preferably something healthy, so I can still fit into the new workout capris I got. Thanks.

I also got a new-to-me Jillian Michaels DVD, which I can never have enough of. I wasted no time trying this one out. I did Level 1 on Wednesday and Level 2 on Thursday, so I could give a full review. (You’re welcome.)

jillian

The Supplies: All you need is a mat, and one hand weight. Level 1 doesn’t use any weights, but you need one medium weight for Level 2.

The Workout: Like most of her workouts, it’s a 30 minute circuit, (plus a quick warm up and cool down) with high intensity moves that target more than one muscle group. Although it’s an ab workout, both levels target all muscles. In fact, I’d say level 2 focuses more on your legs than anything else (think tons of lunges!). It gets your heart rate up immediately, and you don’t take any breaks. Both levels take you through one circuit of moves, and then you repeat the circuit once. I don’t love repeating the same circuit, but it does make it a little easier to master the moves.

The Results: According to my Body Media band, I burned about 250 calories in just 35 minutes! Not bad for a workout that can be done in your living room. And I was super sore the next day. So that’s a good sign, right?

I’ll definitely add this one to the favorites list. (So far, I’ve enjoyed most of Jillian’s dvds, but I think this will go into the regular rotation.) If you get bored of doing the same workout dvds, I highly recommend turning the volume down, and blasting your own music. It makes it much more enjoyable. In fact, I just updated my Tunes page, so you can see my current workout playlists on Spotify.

For more Jillian Michaels reviews, click below:

Jillian Michael’s Yoga Meltdown

Jillian Michael’s Extreme Shed and Shred

Jillian Michaels Shred It with Weights

Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30

Have you stayed active over the holidays?

Oh Hey Look!

While you and I were unwrapping presents and eating way too many Christmas cookies, Rita at Blog Genie was busy redesigning my site!

What do you think of the new layout?

One quick note- if you were following me via the WordPress reader, you’ll need to resubscribe! It’s easy, just grab the RSS feed up there at the top and add it to your reader, or enter your e-mail address and click the “subscribe button” below!

e-mail subscribe

It’s super easy! If you are already an email subscriber, it should be moved over on its own very soon! (And if you’re not subscribed yet, what are you waiting for?)

Now that we got that out of the way…

If you’re still in a bit of a food coma after Christmas, but you wanna whip up a quick breakfast/snack/something for your family and friends, grab a stray can of beer  and try this super simple beer bread!

I had beer bread at a friends house recently and I loved it, which is surprising, since I actually don’t really like beer. (I guess it’s an acquired taste which I haven’t yet acquired.)

I was originally going to use this recipe but it called for 1/2 cup of butter… and that seemed a little unnecessary so I did a tiny bit of tweaking, and also decided it could easily be made vegan (so why not?) and this is what I ended up with!

Vegan Beer Bread

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 (12 ounce) can beer (any kind will do!)
  • 1 tbsp earth balance margarine (or butter, if you don’t care about making it vegan)

Preheat the oven to 375. Mix your flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together, and then pour in the can of beer. Stir until just combined but do not over mix. There will be lumps of flour and that’s ok! Do not use an electric mixer. Just a plain old spoon will do. Lightly spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray, and pour in the batter. It will be lumpy and thick! Cut the margarine/butter on top of the batter, and bake for about an hour. The top will brown just a bit. Let cool, slice, and enjoy!

vegan beer bread

I ate way too much of this bread on Christmas, but it’s so delicious! It’s hearty, salty, and satisfying. Not to mention it’s one of the easiest bread recipes I’ve ever made. I ate it plain, but I’m sure it would be great with some apple butter on top. It would also be fantastic next to a bowl of garlic lentil soup. Good thing I got a crockpot for Christmas…

What did you eat yesterday?

Christmas Eve: What I Am…

Doing

christmas 2012

Pretending I’m an elf, wrapping presents like mad. And practicing Christmas songs for church. Thankfully, reading sheet music is like riding a bike. It comes back surprisingly easily.

Eating

Christmas snacks

I’m obsessed with Gingerade Kombucha. And do you see that Chobani in my fridge? It’s proof that my parents read my blog, and take my recommendations. Carrots, pita chips, & hummus was dinner last night… in a pitiful attempt to balance out all of the cookies I’ve been eating.

Wearing

Lobster shirt

This awesome lobster sweater. This might be the most comfortable sweater I own.

Pinning

PastedGraphic-4

As if I haven’t been baking all month, these are the recipes that are making me want to bust out a muffin tin right now. Banana Chocolate Chip? Yes please. Click on the board to follow me on Pinterest.

I’m keeping it short today, to go spend time with family and friends. I hope you all have an absolutely amazing Christmas!

What are you doing/eating/wearing/pinning?

Breakfast 101

I love breakfast.

I think it’s the only thing that gets me out of bed. (Assuming coffee falls into the breakfast category.)

I’ve never understood people who don’t eat breakfast. How do you find motivation to throw off the covers in the morning? And how in the world do you make it all the way to lunch? These are just things I’ll never understand. Like people who don’t like peanut butter.

Back in college (you know, way back when…) I used to eat the exact same thing for breakfast every single morning. One Three bowls of Special K with Red Berries Cereal. Every day. I still think it’s delicious. The issue was, I was literally eating 3 servings, and I was still starving by lunch. As it turns out, a breakfast made up entirely of carbs doesn’t really keep you full.

Now I’ve gone through a few different breakfast phases. I’ve made more of an effort to start the day off with a little protein and fiber, to keep me satisfied unti lunch. So here’s a round up of my favorites:

Green Smoothies

Smoothie protein

This is my default breakfast. I have variations of this 90% of the time. I love it with cacao coconut butter, but since that’s a little pricy and I don’t always have it on hand, I sometimes just have it with a scoop of peanut butter on the side.

Yogurt Bowls

chobani and granola

No no. Not just a little container of some aspertame-laiden lame-o yogurt. Go for the good Greek stuff. Chobani is the obvious favorite. I a bowl of plain 0%, a little stevia, tons of blueberries, and a little granola for crunch = perfection. If you’re really trying to get extra protein, try adding a scoop of vanilla protein powder instead of stevia. It’s delicious and it packs in a crazy amount of protein!

Protein Pancakes

Banana bread protein pancake

Craving some bread-like carbs in the morning? These banana bread protein pancakes are delicious but still loaded with protein so you’ll stay satisfied through lunch time. Finally, a protein pancake that doesn’t taste like rubber!

Mini Donuts

donuts

Ok I don’t eat these for breakfast often, but for a weekend treat (or when people are over!) these are adorably delicious and only about 40 calories each!

With the exception of the donuts, all of these meals are things I often eat for dinner. What can I say? I love breakfast for dinner. Especially cornbread waffles. Although I can’t vouch for the nutritional value of those.

What do you eat for breakfast?

What I Learned…

This is it! I’m in the final week of the Get Well Challenge! It’s been a great three months, and I’ve had so much fun with the challenges, and I’m thankful that Ellwood Thompson gave me the opportunity to participate!

I lost a little weight, I lowered my body fat a bit, and I learned a lot along the way.

1. Sometimes, you’ve got to face the numbers

Let’s just get over the obvious- no one likes stepping on a scale. I realize that this is not for everyone. For some, it’s best if they manage their weight by how their clothes fit. For me, the number really helps. Plus, it was cool getting an actual body fat assessment! And the people at the wellness center were quick to answer questions, and help me reach my goal. Did I make it all the way? Nope. But I’m going in the right direction!

body fat assessment

Sorry for the foot picture. Is that gross? Maybe. (Probably.) But the whole electrode body fat thing was so cool to me.

2. Tracking your food can be hard

I liked meeting with the dietician. It was helpful that she was a vegetarian (so we could skip the whole “how do you get your protein” conversation) and she gave me ideas for some lower carb vegetarian meals. I tried to keep track of my daily eats, but I definitely had days where I… *forgot*… to track some things. But hey, I did alright.

Body Media Tracking

I recently switched from using the Daily Plate app, to using the app compatible with my Body Media band. Both are great, and even though it can be a lot of work to track everything, I will say it’s the best way to stay focused on your goal! I didn’t do a perfect job, but it really does make you more aware of what you’re eating!

3. Get a support system!

One of the best parts of the challenges was having a group of people to support me! Ellwood Thompson set up a Facebook group for us to connect, and I made some new friends throughout the challenge! Sometimes, just knowing we were all going to our weigh-in was enough encouragement ;) But you don’t need an “official” group to have a support system. Get a few co-workers on board! (Hey Conor, I’m going to keep making you take those walks at lunch with me.)

workouts

Sometimes it was Jillian Michael’s with my roommate, sometimes it was a group fitness class, occasionally it was a run with friends, but whatever it was, working out with other people makes a sweat session 10x more fun. It’s a fact. Try it.

So did I accomplish my goals? Kind of.

I don’t think I got exactly where I want to be, but I did learn a lot of great tools to continue on a healthy path! I’m going to keep on tracking my food, keep on working out, and keep on trying new ways to keep myself from getting bored ;) And it’s not about the destination… it’s about the journey… right? Something like that.

What have you learned recently?

DC Eats & A Naturebox Review

What a weekend! I spent most of it in DC, visiting friends, eating amazing food, and seeing Tiesto. You know. Typical.

dc adventures

Tiesto was amazing, and I loved trying so many new restaurants in the city. One of my favorite dishes was the dolsot bibimbap (bottom left photo) which was a Korean dish made with rice, vegetables, tofu, and an egg, served in a hot stone bowl. The bowl continues to cook the food, so the rice gets crispier as you eat it. I’d never had anything like it before and it was delicious.

I also got to meet up with lots of bloggers at Northside Social, for a Virginia Bloggers meet up. The cafe was cute, and it was fun meeting some new faces! Ethel, Rena, Coco, Ileana, and Ashley and I enjoyed some coffee while chatting about blogging, Virginia, and future meet up ideas. (Bartending class anyone?) Stay tuned for more on that!

While running from one activity to the next, I did do some serious snacking. The lovely folks at Naturebox offered to send me a box of snacks to review, and since I love trying new things, I couldn’t say no!

Naturebox is like the Birchbox of healthy, natural food. For about $20 a month, you get five full size bags of snacks.

Nature box snacks

The box was filled with 5 snack bags. Granola, energy clusters, dried pears, pistachios, and masa crisps. I recruited my friend Alex to taste everything with me, and overall, we liked pretty much everything.

Naturebox

  • The Blueberry Flax granola was good, and reminded me of Cascadian Farms granola. It had a blueberry flavor, although I didn’t see any dried blueberries mixed in or anything. Overall it was ok, but nothing I couldn’t live without.
  • The Pistachio Power Clusters were interesting. They didn’t have a super strong pistachio flavor but I feel like they’d be a great pre-run snack.
  • The dried pears might have been my favorite. I’m not a huge dried fruit fan, but they reminded me of these apple chips, and (like all the Naturebox snacks) they didn’t have any added sugars or preservaitves. They also have a lot of fiber, which is great.
  • Pistachios are one of my favorite nuts, so I was excited to try these lemon pistachios. They were good, but I think I prefer plain pistachios better. The lemon flavor did give them an interesting kick.
  • Taste-wise, the Masa Crisps would probably be my favorite, but health-wise, they weren’t the most stellar. They were like a healthier version of a Frito, but they still had a decent amount of fat, and not a lot of protein or fiber. These would be a good alternative for preservative-packed corn chips, though! I also tried them on top of some vegetarian chili and they were delicious.

Overall, it was fun getting a shipment of new snacks to try. I think my biggest complaint is that you can’t order any of these snacks, so if you fall in love with something, you can’t get more. That said, if you just like a little variety in your snacking, it’s kind of a fun subscription service!

If you’re interested in Naturebox, click here to sign up, and use the code HEALTHY at checkout to get 25% off your first box!

Did you try anything new this weekend?

Calorie Tracking

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight (or even just stay on track) you’ve probably considered food journaling. I’m actually a huge fan of it, because it can be really interesting to see the big picture of what you’re eating. You might not realize that you’re getting too much protein, or too little fiber, or too much peanut butter. (Ok, that last one might just be me.) It’s a great way to end mindless snacking, and be more intentional about what you’re eating.

So food journaling is great… but the problem is, you don’t always know how much you should be eating. Whatever your goals may be, it can be hard to tell if you’re eating too much or not enough. Some days you’re active, some days you’re not. Luckily, there are some pretty cool devices out there to track how many calories you burn.

I’ve had a Bodybugg since August 2010, so these are nothing new to me. However, the old devices were a little clunky, and downloading the data was time consuming. There are a lot of devices out there, but I really wanted to try out the BodyMedia Link arm band. Similar to to the Bodybugg, this calorie tracker uses special sensors to calculate how many calories you’re burning. The best part is, it can wirelessly sync to your phone, and report out your activity in real time.

bodyband

I’ve started wearing the armband daily, and I’ll post a full review after I have a chance to really get familiar with it. I can tell you, it’s already motivating me to move around during the day! I’ve found myself trying to find new ways to incorporate small bits of activity. So in the interest of finding ways to squeeze in exercise, here are some of the things I’ve been trying:

small changes big results

I’m excited to keep wearing the armband, and I’ll post a full review in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned!

Note: I received the BodyMedia band free of charge, in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

What are some of the ways you add in a little activity throughout the day?

New Foods & Old Favorites

After what felt like the longest food rut ever, I finally have a few new foods to share with you. New cereal, new snacks, and a new spin on Friday’s recipe.

I had a new-to-me breakfast. It was actually too cold for me to make a smoothie. I end up shivering by the end of breakfast. Plus, I didn’t have much time before rushing out the door, I so I poured myself a bowl of Special K Protein Cereal.

IMG_9142

This stuff actually tastes pretty good and packs in 10g protein and 3g of fiber, for only 120 calories. I had two bowls while I sipped on some coffee to warm me up.

Lunch was the usual salad-from-the-cafeteria.

low carb high protein salad

I’m still not tired of this combination, so I’ve been eating it over and over. I keep telling myself I should start packing my lunch. I keep buying salads. Oh well.

When I got hungry in the afternoon, I grabbed these roasted chickpeas. Have you seen them? I found them at Kroger, so I’m thinking they’re probably in most major grocery stories now.

chickpeas

They’re delicious, packed protein and fiber, and have a great spicy flavor. I could munch on these all afternoon and be happy.

For dinner, I whipped up another 2-ingredient pizza crust, and this time topped it with onions, peppers, mozzarella, and an egg.

pizza

The egg thing was a bit of an experiment. I basically followed the regular recipe, but I also added some oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, and garlic.  Then in the last few minutes, added an egg, and set it in the broiler. I’ve been trying to eat more eggs recently, so this was a super delicious way to get in some extra protein. This pizza crust is seriously so incredibly easy. I think I’ll be making this more and more…

Have you tried anything new foods this week?

Meeting at the Bar[re]

Saturday afternoon, I met up with some blogger friends for a Virginia Bloggers meet up at Local Barre, and got my butt kicked. I had no idea how challenging barre classes could be! I’ve done long training runs, I’ve tried cross fit… but wow. These classes are intense!

We were welcomed right at the front door!

7dec145c416e11e29ca422000a1fb149_7

Katherine and I had just gotten our butt kicked… but we were still smiling!

The class was an hour long and incorporated lot of repetitions of light weights. At first I didn’t think it was going to be too bad… but by the end, my legs were shaking with every move. I was definitely feeling the burn. I think this class would be the perfect way to really tone up!

You can read the full details on the Virginia Bloggers meet up here!

The rest of the weekend was filled with Christmas parties and festivities!

christmas parties

Doesn’t Conor look so cute? I also had to include that adorable picture of Christina’s veggie-tree. How cute is that?

Sunday, I wanted to make it to hot yoga, but I ended up not making it in time, so I put together a quick living room circuit workout, which was perfect for such a gloomy day. Sometimes, you just don’t want to venture out to the gym. So move your coffee table, and get your sweat on.

circuit workout

I did a little Jillian Michael’s yoga after that circuit, and it wasn’t easy, since I was so sore from Saturday’s barre class! This week I’m hoping to make it back to cross fit… but we shall see. I’m enjoying switching up my workouts!

Have you tried any new workouts lately?