Monthly Archives: May 2016

Quinoa, Broccoli, and Cheese Egg Muffins

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In my efforts to keep eating and simple as possible I love recipes like this that can double as a quick on the go snack or part of my meal at home. And I often do “breakfast” meals at lunch and dinner too.

These quinoa muffins pair easily with a side of toast, potatoes, or fruit, for a complete meal and are a great balance of protein, fats, carbs, and nutrients to keep your cravings in check and energy high.


Ingredients:

  • 5 whole eggs
  • 1 cup of liquid egg whites (or 4 egg whites)
  • 1 tbsp of greek yogurt
  • 1 cup of cooked quinoa
  • 1.5 cup of cooked broccoli
  • 1/3 cup of diced onion (white or green)
  • 1/2 cup of diced mushrooms sautéed
  • 1/2 cup of cheese of your choice ( I use cheddar or parmesan)
  • Sprinkle of salt and pepper

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Directions:

** I always prepare the veggies and quinoa first. Cook quinoa according to directions on package. Lightly sauté the broccoli, onions and mushrooms and set aside.

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Beat together the eggs, egg whites and greek yogurt. Add salt and pepper.
  3. Add quinoa and veggies and mix together.
  4. Divide the mixture evenly into 12 muffin tins (coated with oil a non stick cooking spray) and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the mixture is cooked fully.
  5. Cool before serving. Set aside the rest for quick snacks and meals during the week.

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Dinner tonight! I got ya covered….

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This little beauty of a dinner was so simple and yummy I just had to share. You know my dinner pics will always look as they are, without any staging, because thats how they come about. Food presentation is fun to look at but lets just be real about how most of us feel on a everyday basis. Make food, get it on the table, try to have time to enjoy it.

So today I share with you my recipe for meat muffins and also quickly attached a few directions about the sweet and savory carrots and spinach, feta salad.

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Meat Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon oregano (or a sprinkle of cayenne pepper for added spice)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or 2 tbsp of pre minced garlic
  • 1 package of lean turkey meat or lean beef
  • 1 cup Quick cooking oats 
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 large egg whites or 1 whole egg
  • Cooking spray or muffin liners
  • Optional: Choice of veggies ( I used chopped bell peppers, mushrooms and chives for this one)

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion, garlic, spices and veggies and saute for a couple minutes
  • Combine onion mixture and the remaining ingredients except cooking spray in a large bowl.
  • Spoon the meat mixture into muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or cooked all the way through.
  • Top with ketchup if desired. I always look for one free of high fructose corn syrup.

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While these are baking you can put together your two sides.

You can access the salad recipe here.

For the carrots. Bring water to a boil in a small pot. Add a pack of baby carrots after you take them out of the wrapper. Boil until soft. Drain and return to pan that is still warm, heat off. Add 1-2 TBSP of butter and 2  TBSP of brown sugar. Adjust to your liking as I personally do something different every time. Mix together and the heated pan will melt the butter and mix the sugar together.

And  that’s it! They are ready to enjoy. 🙂

Strength Training During Pregnancy: My 1st and 2nd trimester


I have always heard the advice to just keep doing what you are already doing when it comes to exercise for the first few months of pregnancy.  That is the most common advice given from popular books, Dr.’s, and the random person I run into chatting about exercise and working out.

Funny thing. About 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant (and I found out pretty early at about 4 weeks) I just sensed something was different in my body. I slowed the intensity. I didn’t want to lift as heavy. I pulled back most exercises with impact. My goals and focus changed.

All the opposite of what I thought I would do being a fitness trainer and enthusiast, and after following women who kept the intensity and lifting up at their CrossFit workouts and such.

Today I am going to share my workouts for my first and second trimester so far. Keep in mind that every women’s body and pregnancy is different. Some women are not recommended to exercise, some like to push the limits a little further, some like to find the middle ground. Always check with your doctor to decide what is best with you.

The first trimester.

I really wished I could have shared with you in real time how I felt during the first trimester. My body decided to skip getting really sick every day but I sure felt nauseated and exhausted for a solid 8 weeks.

It was that in between place where I felt the tug of war in my head like I could and should workout but at the same time I felt like I just wanted to skip any exercise all together.

Here is what I did. I eliminated any type of running (not like I did much anyways), jumping, or exercises that got my heart rate up because the intensity, impact and/or bounce made me feel even sicker.

I did 2 or 3 weight training sessions a week, full body, with tons of rest in between each exercise. Some days it was only 3 sets of 3 exercises total. Like a squat, a row, and an incline push-up.

Other days it was a few more. Moving my body other than walking was an accomplishment in itself and most of the time it did make me feel better. I learned to let good enough, just be good enough for the time being.

Here I am at 20 weeks.

Once mid April hit, I started to have more good days than bad days. My nausea reduced. My normal appetite returned.

For the past few weeks of my 2nd trimester I have been continuing with weight training and walking and feel good enough to add a few short local hikes in.

I am resting less during exercises so my heart rate gets up more and this is what I consider, and have always consisted, my cardio. I still do full body workouts but I don’t schedule the days. I just go by how I feel and that has usually been 3-4 workouts a week. I walk Lulu almost every single day even if it is a short one.

My exercise selection has started to change. I can feel a “pull” on my abdomen rolling up from a seated position. I eliminated pull ups and any heavy overhead lifts right away and now even on lat pulldowns I can feel a little stretch which I am trying to avoid.

My goal for training has shifted more from pure strength and aesthetics to creating a healthy body for baby, staying strong for labor and delivery, and recovering postpartum.

I also want to keep the tissue of my abdomen healthy and am avoiding things like crutches, rotations, full front planks and full push-up because of the pressure it puts on that region. And because why? There are much better ways to train the core during pregnancy than those types of exercises.

Final thoughts.

It has been a mental shift for sure seeing and feeling the changes in my body. I have always had an active lifestyle and it has become a part of my identity in a way. It is part of my routine, part of my career and part of what I love to do. I have worked hard over the years not to let it define my worth and incorporate into my life into a way that enhances my life. And it has.

Having to back off was tough for me but also a reality check. My body is changing. My life is changing. I have shifted my mindset to simply do my best and keep it going, safely and sanely, and let my body respond as it will.

Until next time.

I have created a special email list on pre natal (and post natal) fitness, eating, and life, and my journey through it all which you can access here. I promise not to bombard your inbox, but just wanted to have a space to share more of my workouts, thoughts, fears, and excitement through it all.

10 quick tips to navigate any gym with confidence

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Back in 2001 I walked into a gym intimidated as anyone could be for essentially my first “real” training session and started working with a trainer named Jack.
 
He was the epitome of a bodybuilder from the loose fitting Golds Gym tank to the beach blonde hair to the tan. I told him I needed to work on power cleans and sprints for volleyball season and he took me through a body part split routine. Regardless I learned a lot.  
Looking back, I remember struggling with the 10 pound dumbbells for a shoulder press. Fifteen years later I am rocking the 20’s for shoulder presses and have built some serious gym confidence though it didn’t always feel that way EVEN the first few years as a personal trainer myself.
Without saying a word about confidence Jack taught me a lot about weight training and walking through a gym like you owned it.

I know in the beginning without Jack, I felt a little intimated, overwhelmed, unsure about what to do, or ridiculous if I couldn’t figure out a machine.

I kept my distance from areas that were populated more by males or bodybuilders. I would walk straight to machines or areas I felt comfortable even if it wasn’t challenging me as much.

Today I want to share with you 10 quick tips to help navigate the weights sections at any gym, including etiquette, what to do’s and the how-to’s of building a better workout so you exude confidence and get in better shape even when you might feel a little out of place. I know I sure did for awhile.

Ask if you are unsure. Personal trainers and gym staff are there for a reason. If you are unsure if a space is available for general use, are wondering where you can stretch, are not sure how to sure how to use a cardio equipment or machine, just ask. Knowledge builds confidence even in little bits. And sometimes just knowing how to use a machine or where to rack the weights makes all the difference. I still go into unfamiliar gyms and certain pieces of equipment perplex me. There is always something else you can do.

Clean up after yourself. Just as you would at home clean up after yourself, same goes in the gym. It is courteous and respectful to other gym goers, though you will notice many do not follow this advice. Put mat or exercise balls away. Put the free weights back on their rack and if a machine requires you to add plates of weight, be sure to return them to their proper storage spaces.

Be aware of your space. Even if you are not using a piece of equipment but perhaps doing an exercise by it, be sure to give that machine, bench or free weights section enough space so other gym goers can access the equipment. If you are unsure just imagine how close you would want someone working out to you and then decide from there. Also, if someone is invading your personal space it is ok to politely ask them to move a couple feet.

Don’t be afraid of the free weights section. Sometimes machines feel safe and comfortable because there are minimal adjustments and it may feel intimidating to jump into the free weight section maybe because you are not quite sure what to do or because you are only grabbing the 10 pound weights. Who cares? It doesn’t matter how much weight you are lifting to start, it matters that you are there breaking out of your comfort zone. You belong in that space as much as anyone else and there are plenty of great exercises to choose from. Feel free to take those weights to other parts of the gym to use, just be sure to return them.

What to do with those benches? Often the benches by the free weight section are designed to be flat or at an incline depending on the exercise. They may adjust differently at different gyms and for certain exercises. Try not to use the benches as a place to set your water bottle or towel if you are not using it but doing an exercise next to it. For example if you are doing bicep curls give an appropriate amount of space so others can use it.

Exercises you can perform on benches include dumbbell bench press, incline press, shoulder press, dumbbell row, just to name a few.

Sharing equipment. It is perfectly fine to ask someone to share equipment, mostly for easy to adjust machines, especially if you notice someone on it for an extended period of time. Simply ask if you can jump in between sets and most people have no problem with it. Be sure to adjust to your correct weight and wipe it down quickly if you notice that person is extra sweaty or if you are extra sweaty. Typically if you see someone with really heavy weight on a bar it is probably best not to ask as it will take too much time to adjust and switch the weight.

As for saving equipment be aware of saving two pieces of equipment while working back and forth in between sets if you notice someone hovering like they might want to use it. Make a offer to share.

Squat racks. Squat racks are areas that are designed for people to do pull-ups and heavy lifts, like squats, where they actually need the rack to load and unload the weight. If you are starting with very light weight you may want to use another straight bar that many gyms have available. Once your weight increase above 40 head on over to the rack where the bar is 45 pounds. It doesn’t matter if you are not lifting heavy weight but don’t do exercises in there like bicep curls, stretches or exercises that you can do in other places. Many gyms only have a couple racks and are precious to those who want to use them.

How to select exercises. If you are looking to get the most out of your workout choose exercises that are multi-joint exercises, meaning they are working multiple muscle groups across more than one joint. For example, a shoulder press is working from your elbow and shoulder joint. A squat is working from you hip and knee joint.

These exercises target multiple muscles groups and you will get more out of these movements, then say bicep curls and tricep presses. These are fine to do but my advice would be to save them until the end as a bonus circuit after you have finished the bulk of the workout.

Also to keep balance in the body and not overdo one particular group, use the following guidelines. Pick one exercise from each category.

Upper body push – Chest Presses, Incline Presses, Shoulder Presses

Lower body bilateral – Squats, deadlifts

Upper body pull – Rows, Pulldowns, Pull-ups

Lower single leg stance – Step-ups, Lunges

A workout could look like this:

3×12 Superset

Dumbbell Bench Press, Squat

Lat Pulldown, Reverse Lunge

When you should go up in weight. Sometimes it is confusing to know when you should go up in weight though a general easy to use guideline is this for a set of 10-12 reps. If you get to 12 and you feel like you can do 5 more it is too light. If you only get to 6 or 8 it is too heavy for this particular workout. If you go up in weight and can only make 9 reps, keep shooting for 9 reps until you can do 10-12.

You belong there as much as anyone else. Remember there is no rule for how fit you have to be to use the weight room. Walk into any weight room and own it like you belong there, because you do. Sure you may have questions but if confidence is keeping you back, all you have to do is believe in yourself and others will follow suit.

FREE Summer Travel Guide to stay healthy and fit!

Will Lifting Weights Make Me “Bulky?”

I love this example of how I went to try on my green, plaid shirt from last year and realized it was being stretched at the buttons. And then it hit me. This is what women consider bulky. As you can see from the picture on the left, taken within days,  I do not appear bulky at all, but lifting weights can add muscle and potentially size, in certain places that may make your clothes fit tighter.

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I am taking my pic on the right in my pajama pants. Just wanted to explain the color combo.

 

I often hear from women that they fear lifting weights will make them bulky. And honestly, I do completely get, what most associate with the term bulky. Your jeans fit a little tighter, your shirt fits a little snugger and you assume that you are automatically going to grow out of all your clothes and develop bulging muscles.

In reality,  you probably will not train hard enough to achieve that effect. And if your waistband is getting tight, chances are it is more about extra cookies, ice cream, and pizza making you feel bulky, than lifting weights.

Overall the indication of slightly snugger close may actually be the result of less body fat.  It all comes down to your perception and what is important to you. Here are some thoughts to consider.

It’s all in your mindset.

Instead of the  bulky association, realize that you are gaining a little more muscle on your body. The two pictures above, show a lean look on the left and a tight fitting shirt on the right on the same day. It is all about perception.  If I am lifting heavy do I need to stop or maybe I just need to get a bigger size shirt?

I want to remind you that typically when your diet is pretty decent and you are lifting weights, you are gaining muscle and hopefully losing fat, and that it is possible to carry a higher fat content while looking leaner. I looked way leaner two years ago (down two jean sizes) after I stopped working out for a few months due to chronic back pain, but I was pretty miserable and felt extremely weak in my everyday life and winded in yoga, walks and stairs. I would much rather have a tighter shirt then feel weak and be in pain.

Track your training and nutrition. 

Use a journal to track your workouts and nutrition to see how your body responds. Incorporate a weight routine and follow a healthy way of eating that keeps you looking, feeling and moving your best.

If you do not see the changes in your body that you wish to see, contact an expert in the field who can help adjust your training and nutrition.

Educate yourself on what building muscle actually does for the body.

It creates more muscle on the body can create higher calorie expenditure throughout the day.

It can increase your body’s ability to burn fat during and after exercise and be more effective for fat loss than other types of training in a shorter amount of time.

It can help increase bone density.

It can help create shape on the body. Weight loss is one thing. Creating the shape you desire is another. More defined arms? More shapely butt? There is no shame is aesthetics are part of the reason you work out. Weight training will do that better than any other.

I want to point out that I do not expect everyone to want to, or need to, lift super heavy weights. It’s a personal preference. Some prefer a leaner look, some prefer more muscular. It is your body and you have the right to your preference. But do not discount weight lifting because you think it will give you a bulky look and keep in mind that any serious size may take a minimum of a year to build.

Advice from a Pilates Instructor.

I get poked at with playful fun at all the strength and conditioning conferences I go to when I introduce myself as a trainer and Pilates Instructor. Though it is a very interesting position to be in because they are two very different training methods.

In my opinion everyone needs to lift weight. At the same time I feel Pilates is the missing link to everyone’s routine.

This could be an entirely different blog but the most concerning things I hear often are women wanting to take Pilates to get the “long and lean” muscles or work with 3-5 pound weights only because they feel it will create “tone.”

However the look that is being described is one that is created by lifting weights, heavy enough to create definition and change in the body. Tone is muscle being built and revealed.  I’m not saying Pilates can’t create that I just hate the misconception and the marketing worlds play on women and their insecurities. I love strength coach Mike Boyle’s explanation about the long/lean concept here.

“One of my favorite lines of bull is the old “ this exercise or training method will give you long, lean muscles like a dancer”. This is akin to telling people you can turn an apple into an orange right before their eyes. You can no more make a short stocky female client have long lean muscles like a dancer than you make someone taller. Exercise will remove subcutaneous bodyfat and reduce intramuscular fat stores but, changing the source of resistance in a resistance-based exercise will not produce a muscle that appears different and or larger.”

A few more reasons to lift weights.

The more muscle you have, the more potential calories you can burn while exercising AND at rest.

Lifting weights keeps you strong, mobile, stable (very important as you get holder to help in fall prevention) and functional in your everyday life.

It makes you feel like you can take one anything life throws at you (just my personal opinion). When I see women get stronger in the gym, I see them become more empowered in life.

So can weights make women “bulky”? Well if you associate a tight shirt with bulky, then it would be a yes to you. But if you look at my picture on the left, you would probably say no.

It is all relative and all your own perception.

How do you get started? I put together a free  guide that includes 4 strength training workouts that feel like cardio, so you get the best of both worlds.  For more insights on a weekly basis, to get your guide and for how to exercise smarter snag your spot here: http://bit.ly/sscardioguide