Archive for the month “February, 2013”

Motivation and Morning Workouts

Do you ever have those days where you just feel, meh?

The days where you know you should get to the gym, but just can’t get yourself out the door?

Where you spend more time avoiding going to the gym, than if you had actually just gone?

Or those days where you just get so caught up with things, that before you know it, its too late to go to the gym?

I know I used to, alllll the time.  But I found a solution to this problem, one that is foolproof.

In fact, after I discovered this little secret, I found I actually had more time, and was getting all my workouts in!

Want to know what my secret is?

Morning workouts!

I hear your groans, I hear your complaints, and I even hear your excuses.

I was leader of the pack in all three of those areas before I finally budged and gave it a try, and let me tell you, I’m never going back to evening workouts!

My number one excuse was always that I need my breakfast, otherwise I am crabby and feel awful.  Then I discovered homemade protein bars and muffins that taste just like cake (will post recipe next week!), and problem solved!

I also wasn’t a morning person.  Getting in the habit of going to bed a little earlier is an easy one attain, and I think you’ll enjoy the benefits.  You’ll generally get more sleep in the end, and be able to get more done outside the home since most businesses aren’t open until 2 am 🙂

Plus, I always take a pre-workout before the gym for a little extra boost, so this meant I could actually save money by not having coffee!

My first class generally starts at 9:30, so I go to bed between 10 and 11 (totally do-able!) and wake up at 6:45.  I roll out of bed, grab a protein bar/muffin from the fridge, mix up a pre-workout, and eat while I look over my workout plan and get dressed.  I’m generally out the door right around 7:00, and arrive to a gym with only one or two other people.

I can’t explain how much I love working out in an empty gym.  I can run around and use whatever machines and weights I want without worry of someone else stealing them or being in someone’s way.  I have my choice of treadmills, and I can try whatever crazy floor exercises I want and not worry about how stupid I look!

If you still don’t think you can do morning workouts, that’s fine.  Just try it for a week, one week.  If you still aren’t convinced, I’ll be very surprised!

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Broccoli-Stuffed Chicken

I had a friend come up to me the other day and confide that he had never had broccoli, but wanted to try and eat healthier so he bought some and didn’t know what to do with it.

I got really excited because I knew the perfect recipe for him to try- something super simple,  but with big flavor and appeal.  I told him this was a meal he could cook for a girl and impress her, and better yet, it’s healthy!

To start, take your broccoli (if you are using frozen make sure to let it thaw a little so the chicken can cook correctly) and pulse it in a food processor until it has broken up into little pieces like this…

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Then, chop up a couple cloves of fresh garlic. (Garlic powder is okay too if you’re in a pinch)

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Next, add the garlic and about 1/2 C. of cheese (your choice!  I usually use parmesan or sharp cheddar) to the broccoli mixture in your food processor and pulse it a couple of times…

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Now, it’s chicken time!  Get out your sharpest boning (or paring) knife and cut a little slit in the side of a chicken breast.  Bring the blade down inside, making sure not to poke through.  Make a “pocket” in the chicken breast that spans as much of the interior as possible, while keeping your exterior slit no bigger than 2-2 1/2″  Like so…

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Then its time to stuff the chicken!

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Fill ‘er good and full!

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Then, just sprinkle them lightly with salt and plop them on a sprayed, aluminum foil-lined pan (for easy clean-up!) and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165 F.

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They look much better after they’re cooked, but they’re so good that we were too excited to eat them and forgot to take a finished picture!

Now, how simple was that?!

“Quick Burst” Workout

So last week I said I would give you a quick little plyometric workout to blast those calories away at the end of your workout, instead of a boring run on the treadmill.  I tried this the other day at the gym and loved it in a “Hurts-So-Good” kind of way!  The time flies by since you are constantly changing it up.  Give it a shot and let me know what you think!

 

0:00-0:30 – Burpees

0:30-1:00 – Squat Jumps

1:00-1:30 – Mountain Climbers 

1:30-2:00 – Box Jumps

2:00-2:30 – Jump Rope

2:30-3:00 – Jumping Switch Lunges

3:00-3:30 – Burpees

3:30-4:00 – High Tuck Jumps

4:30-5:00 – Push Ups (Clap Pushups if you can!)

5:00-5:30 – High Knees

5:30-6:00 – Split Squats with Right Foot in Front of the Left

6:00-6:30 – Jumping Jacks

6:30-7:00 – Split Squats with Left Foot in Front of the Right

7:00-7:30 – Butt Kick Running in Place

7:30-8:00 – “Soaring Eagles” (Start low in squat position, jump up into a jumping jack, come back down into a squat)

8:00-8:30 – Mountain Climbers

8:30-9:00 – Side-to-Side Jumping Lunges

9:00-9:30 – Jump Rope

9:30-10:00 – Box Step-Ups with Weights

Clinique Rave

Have you ever discovered something so amazingly awesome that you just couldn’t keep it to yourself?

Something so good, that you wanted other people to experience its goodness too?

Well, I just did, and I’m going to rave about it!

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine told me about the Clinique 3-Step System for face care.  She had struggled with acne and an overall oily complexion, and was finally enjoying having a clear face.  She told me that while it was fairly expensive, the ~$40 set lasts her almost a year, so the cost really is minimal in the end.  

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I was intrigued, but since I was fortunate enough to have a clean complexion, I didn’t think I needed the products.

Fast forward a couple of years, and my mom asks me if there is anything Clinique I want since the store near her work was having a big sale.  I told her I had always wanted to try the 3-Step System, so she found a sample set at a great price for me.

I started using the system a couple of days ago.  I can already tell my complexion is much smoother and my T-zone is oil-free all day long.  I almost want to keep touching my face because it is that smooth!

All of these benefits, and just a quick little regimen that takes 2 minutes in the morning and right before bed.  How easy is that?!

 

Tree Trunks

I’m one of those weird ones that when I go to the gym, I gain muscle like an Arnold wannabe, without even meaning to.

After a couple gym sessions of doing lunges and squats, my thighs start outgrowing my jeans.

Laugh if you want, but at least I know I’m not the only one out there.

I always seemed to think that to trim down my tree-trunk thighs I should be running intervals, right?  I mean, intervals burn fat after all…

Wrong.  Dead Wrong.

You see, intervals also do a great job of doing something else too, and that is build muscle.  So allll that time I spent huffing and puffing looking like an idiot on the treadmill trying to slim down my tree trunks, and I was actually just building them up even more.

So what is the best way to trim down your trunks?  Plyometrics and the cursed, sometimes even forgotten, steady-state cardio.

But not any steady state cardio, Incline Steady State Cardio- speed walking, preferably.

Plyometrics are amazing, I highly recommend replacing that daily run with 10 minutes of plyos.  The time will fly by, and you’ll scorch an astounding number of calories.

Next week, I’ll give you a great plyometric routine to finish out your workout with!

Quick Bites

I often hear from people that the reason they don’t eat healthy is because they don’t have time.

As someone who works 2 jobs and takes the maximum allowed number of credit hours, I beg to differ.  What these people don’t have, is a plan.

By planning and preparing your meals ahead of time, you can enjoy delicious, healthy foods for much less than any drive-thru grub.

One of my favorite “tricks” to always having roasted chicken around is stocking up on chicken breasts when they are on sale, then preparing them and freezing the chicken so it is ready for me whenever I need it.  This makes last-minute lunch bag packing a breeze, and preparing meals is a breeze because I can just toss in my pre-cooked chicken, saving me time and clean-up efforts.

The way I prepare my chicken couldn’t be easier, I just take whatever chicken I have, fresh or frozen, it doesn’t matter.  I throw it in my crock pot with about 1/4 C. water and turn it on and walk away.  If I’ll be gone all day for class or if I’m cooking them overnight I put the crockpot on low, otherwise I’ll cook them on high.

When they’re done, I let them cool for a bit then either shred or slice the meat, pack it up the way I want, and freeze it.  What could be easier than that?!

Give it a shot and let me know what you think.  This trick has saved me tons of time and money from buying those bags of pre-cooked chicken breast with all the artificial ingredients.

Snowed In…

I’m currently hanging out at my boyfriend’s place, eating my morning oatmeal as I watch and listen to the snow blow outside the window.  All roads out of town are either closed or have a “No Travel” advisory out.

Home for me is an hour away (when the roads are good!), and since it is Monday, it looks like I will be missing class.

I’m prepared to have myself a lazy day filled with homework, the gym, and a little cooking or baking.  I love going to the gym in the morning or mid-day when it is quiet and only one or two other people quietly pound away at the treadmill.  It is so serene, almost like a safe haven for me.

I then put in my headphones, of course, and let my music blare and take me away with its fast-paced tunes that never fail to get my heart pumping.

I just now got a text message from my university’s emergency alert system- No Classes!  That is exciting, and relieving news.  Sometimes, you just gotta love the “hassles” of living in the midwest.  

Asparagus

Winter is flying by… I have already noticed fresh asparagus showing up on sale at grocery stores!

I discovered asparagus a few years ago… Having grown up with parents who honestly believe that frozen vegetables have dye added to them, I am a product of a childhood filled with canned vegetables.  Fresh vegetables were limited to baby carrots and potatoes- an obvious staple for a South Dakota farm girl.

My first experience with asparagus involved a grill and some balsamic- my life was changed forever.

When I started dating my boyfriend, I was shocked to find out he “hated” asparagus.

A short while later, we visited his parents and his mom was excited to make us some of her freshly-picked asparagus.  She proceeded to cut the ends off, then place the fresh spears into a microwave steamer bag.  Eight minutes later, we were treated to mushy, stringy asparagus.

I now understood my boyfriends aversion; I left convinced I would change his opinion on asparagus forever.

Fast forward to an evening filled with whining and insisting that he did not want to try asparagus, I finally got him to try a bite.

Fast forward again to this weekend where I made asparagus two times, and both times had to slap his hand away from my plate as he tried to steal some asparagus from my plate!

Long story short, is that asparagus- and any vegetable, really- can be something extraordinary if they are prepared properly.

And the good news?

It is SO EASY to prepare them properly!  And HEALTHY, too!  (AKA- No more cheese sauce-drenched vegetables!)

Below is a basic recipe I found on epicurious.com to roast asparagus that you will not regret trying if you too, think you don’t like asparagus.

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Meat Safety

So I was asked to taste test a hamburger sample today… And two hours later my stomach made me well-aware that something had gone wrong with the preparation of the hamburger.

EWW and YUCK.

My stomach is still proudly proclaiming its acrobatic abilities, quite audibly, I must add.  I’m currently sipping on peppermint tea wishing I could figure out where I put my Pepto-Bismol.

So… I felt this might be a good opportunity to write a post on food safety while preparing meats.  I can just hear the groans already…

I should add, I work in the culinary/food product development world, and am certified in food safety and handling.  

Someday, I will figure out how to compile all this information into a handy chart.  Until then, the outline below will have to do…

Poultry Products- should reach internal temperature of 165F.

Pork Products- should reach 160F.

Beef Products- Ground beef needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 160F.  Whole meat cuts such as steaks and roasts can be cooked as follows:  Medium Rare- 145F.  Medium- 160F.

*Cooking beef only to the Rare stage is not recommended.

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