Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Workout Wednesday: Cardio Blast

Wednesday again? You betcha! Did you try the partner workout last week? I completely understand if you got caught up in all the holiday hullabaloo, but it's time to get back to it! December is fast approaching (tomorrow), and there will be more holiday gatherings (events at which you'll want to eat), so you can't afford to skip out on another workout. This week, we focus on cardio—remember that cardio is only one third of your fitness story. Cardio plus strength training and a good diet equal a fitter, happier, healthier you. Leaving out any of those three puzzle pieces makes it that much harder to achieve your goals, and then to maintain once you've achieved said goals. So ask yourself these questions right now:

1) How much cardio do I get every week, and is it the same type of cardio every time? Does it bore me?
2) How many times a week am I strength training? Am I training too much, possibly too little?
3) What have I been eating? Am I being honest with myself when it comes to the choices I make?

Once you have those questions answered, you can really figure out what you've been up to and how it's affecting the achievement of your goals. Today, let's just focus on part of question #1: Is it the same type of cardio? Does it bore me?

If you answered "yes" to either of the above, then you might enjoy this week's Workout Wednesday. It's a 40-minute workout that I prefer you do off the treadmill. So lace up those sneaks, plug in those earbuds and head outside. Or make friends with the track at your gym. If you're used to running or walking on a treadmill, you might notice a difference—the track, after all, puts you in supreme control. You can't just set a computer and go with the flow. Speaking of "go," let's get to it.

You won't need any equipment (just a watch), and I've built the following based on running. However, if you're just not a runner, your power walking can be substituted just perfectly. I didn't specify intensity, but referred to it as "HIGH," "MEDIUM," and "LOW." Use your best judgement in relationship to your own fitness—everyone is different, but we can all stand to change it up. Perhaps this will help:

HIGH: Workin' hard, out of breath. Can't really talk.
MEDIUM: Comfortable, steady. Short, intermittent talking is possible.
LOW: Nice 'n easy.

And finally...

1) 5 Minutes: Walking warm up, LOW.
2) 1 Minute: Walking lunges.
3) 4 Minutes: Run, MEDIUM.
4) 5 Minutes: 30-second intervals, alternating between MEDIUM and HIGH.
5) 4 Minutes: Run, MEDIUM.
6) 1 Minute: Walk, MEDIUM.
7) 1 Minute: Walking lunges.
8) 4 Minutes: Run, MEDIUM.
9) 5 Minutes: 30-second intervals, alternating between MEDIUM and HIGH.
10) 4 Minutes: Run, MEDIUM.
11) 1 Minute: Walk, MEDIUM.
12) 1 Minute: Walking lunges.
13) 2 Minutes: Run, MEDIUM.
14) 1 Minute: Walk, MEDIUM.
15) 1 Minute: Walk, LOW.

If the walking lunges kill you, slow them down a bit and check your stride. Make sure you aren't stepping out too far. And you can always shake 'em out at the 30-second mark. But get right back to it before you fall behind! Just be sure to stretch at the end. Never forget to stretch.

Question: How much cardio do you do in a given week? Is it enough, do you think? Why or why not?

REMINDER! Don't forget to enter my giveaway! You just might win two bags of Yumnuts! (Contest ends at midnight EST on Friday, December 2, 2011).  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Foodie Pen Pals

Last month, my friend Erin wrote a post about a pen pal program that she had joined. It involved the exchange of food items, so I was instantly intrigued. And I instantly signed up. Foodie Pen Pals is the brainchild of Lindsay, who writes The Lean Green Bean, and Allie, who writes Healthy Balance, Healthy Life. By the 5th of every month, they pair up bloggers and readers alike so that they can exchange $15 worth of goods—but it's not just about filling a box and sending it out by the 15th of the month. It's about connecting bloggers and readers, giving them a chance to learn a little bit about each other through food which (in my opinion) is awesome.

This month, I sent a package to Caitlin of Cait Plus Ate.
I got a package from Dawn, a blog reader:

Dawn is from Wisconsin, so everything she sent me is from there as well. Save for a few items that are Chicago-based. She "pretty much lives in both" per her handwritten note. You can also see that she made a few things herself. Let's take a closer look at some of the goods:

Pumpkin cookies—and yeah, they're as good as they look. She sent two kinds, one made with white flour (left) and the other with spelt. I am now completely intrigued by spelt.

LeRoy's Gourmet Flavored Beer & Onions Ketchup. It sounds a little sketch, especially for someone who is particular about the type of beer she drinks, but it turned out to be quite lovely on my sweet potato tots.

Homemade pumpkin spice almond butter. Geeze, it's so good. Up next, a bev:

Sprecher's Ginger Ale. It's made with real Wisconsin honey, which totally shines through in the flavor department. I'm not a big pop drinker, but I do like the occasional cup of ginger ale. Kinda refreshing, dontcha think? One last thing I wanted to highlight:

Homemade peppermint patties. Now, I don't typically like the York version. But I do like mint and chocolate together, so I kept an open mind as I bit into it...and was not disappointed. Once again, Dawn—you struck gold with your homemade goodies skills.

Actually, the entire package was great. Thanks again, Dawn!

If you'd like to participate in the Foodie Pen Pals program, you certainly can (even if you don't have a blog). Check out Lindsay's blog for the official rules and regulations. If you're down, send a note to theleangreenbean (at) gmail (dot) com with your name and blog link (if applicable).

It's truly so much fun! I can't wait to see who I'm paired with in December!

Question: Have you ever had a real pen pal? Someone you exchanged hand-written letters with? I never did, but I always thought it would be glamorous!

REMINDER! Don't forget to enter my giveaway! You just might win two bags of Yumnuts! (Contest ends at midnight EST on Friday, December 2, 2011).  

Monday, November 28, 2011

WIN THIS: Two bags of Yumnuts!

A few weeks ago, I was sent the above to review. Y'all know I am a HUGE fan of roasted nuts. I scoop up Blue Diamond almonds whenever they go on sale, and I make my own whenever I have the time. But sometimes I want something a little less processed, and I don't have always have the time to make my own. So I couldn't be happier to let you know that I've found the solution to my problem. Yumnuts Naturals flavor roasted cashews and almonds are fantastic and super flavorful—without all the gunk.

Yumnuts Naturals grew out of one man's need for a roasted cashew "without all the oil and artificial ingredients added by the BNC." Translation: Big nut companies. With a few experiments and some almonds, too—the company grew. So what is a Yumnut? According to the website:

Are you a Yumnut? Thought so. I sure am.

Back to the nuts. Baked in an oven, they're flavor roasted in small batches without added oils. This preserves the healthy fats within the nuts themselves and, of course—the flavors, too. You get all the goodness of the given flavor without the cholesterol, trans fats and with minimal amounts of sodium. Sodium isn't bad when consumed in small amounts, right? Right. Enough about sodium, though. Let's talk about cinnamon.

Light and crunchy, these cinnamon almonds will satisfy any taste bud that craves a kick of goodness. I swear. I chopped them up and put them on top a bowl of Greek yogurt and fresh fruit:

But if cinnamon isn't your thing, you could pick up a bag of dark chocolate or ginger orange almonds. Both of which I'm sure are quite delish, too. I would have to say, though, that the cashews rocked my mouth a bit more.

Not because they were better, but because they were truly different. To me, they almost tasted like Oreo cookies. Like chocolate and butter and sweetness. Without, of course, all the gunk. I think those of us that like nuts focus so much on almonds that we lose sight of all the other good, healthy nuts out there. It's nice to have something else for a change, and something that's flavor roasted, too.

If chocolate isn't your think, they've got you covered. Think touch of honey, toasted coconut, sea salt and easy Cajun. Yeah, I know. You want them all. And if you do get them all, be sure to save your bags.

Yumnuts' new RE4 program "is a great way to recycle Yumnuts bags and in return get great Yumnuts swag. The more bags you return, the better the gear." How cool is that?

'bout as cool as getting two free bags to start your return collection, I'd say. I am happy to announce that Yumnuts is willing to give one lucky Daily Dose reader a bag of each of the nuts featured in this post—one Cinnamon Almond, one Chocolate Cashew. Score! Here's how you enter.

Leave a comment on this post. Let me know what you'd do with the bags. Would you eat them, cook with them...keep them somewhere for snacking on the go? Tell me your idea, and tell me your email address, too. If you win, I'll need to get ahold of you. Additional entries can be received by doing any of the following.

1) Like Yumnuts on Facebook.
2) Follow Yumnuts on Twitter.
3) Like A Daily Dose of Fit on Facebook.
4) Subscribe to A Daily Dose of Fit emails.

And that's it! All entries must be received by Friday, December 2, 2011 at midnight EST. The winner will be announced on Sunday, December 4, 2011.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

I have an iPhone 4!

I bit the bullet, forked over the cash and joined the rest of the world. Or at least some of the world—I got an iPhone today. It's not the latest, just an 8G iPhone 4. I didn't need or want all the bells and whistles, just some of them.

My husband thinks I'm obsessed...or will be obsessed, and he's somewhat fearful that he's going to lose me to it. But I swear to him that it won't happen. I get annoyed when people interact with their iPhones more than they interact with the flesh and blood sitting in front of them, but I appreciate the connectivity that such a phone creates. To manage the best of both, that's my goal.

Another goal? To download some cool health and fitness apps.

Question: What health and fitness apps do you use? Suggestions, please!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

"It's 3AM. I must be lonely."

Except I'm not. I've got a kicking baby in my belly and a sleeping husband just one room over. For some reason, tonight is just not my night and I've decided to write about it, lucky you. Because, let's be honest, what else does one do when they can't sleep—is there anything else to do than lie awake and think about life? Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm the only one that gets the urge to "think" at my computer.

If you can't place the title of this blog, I give you Matchbox 20:


It's 3AM. And I can't stop thinking about life.

My pregnancy calendar tells me that Baby's due date is in 40 days. Jason's aunt tells me that natural birth is beautiful, and that I'm totally prepared to handle it. I can't believe the first, but I do believe the second. Cindy is a doula and we got the pleasure of spending a few hours with her yesterday morning. She walked us through everything our birthing classes did, but from a more natural standpoint. It was awesome. And in all honesty, it was the icing on my mental prep cake. We women were built to birth babies. I can't help but find that to be amazing, and in some (perhaps you think it's sick) way, I can't help but want to experience it. The pushing, the pain...everything. I'm ready. And I'm also ready to throw it all out the window for some pain meds should the situation really, truly call for it.

I've no need to be a hero.

Cindy is also a massage therapist, God bless her for showing Jason some hands-on labor management techniques. I tried to get him to practice last night, but his 4AM wake-up call trumped my needs. Is getting up early to go watch Michigan play Ohio State in Ann Arbor really more important than your pregnant wife? If it were me, and if it were a Notre Dame game, I would say "yes" to that question. So I let him fall asleep.

Not without stealing the covers, though.
I win.

But, now... I sit.

After some almond butter on a slice of toasted brown rice bread with a few pomegranate seeds on top (try it), I'm contemplating life after Baby. More specifically, my life in the gym after Baby is born. In terms of my employment there, they didn't bat an eyelash at me taking leave for a few weeks. So I'm not worried about that. (Who would be?) But I am "worried" about getting back into some sort of exercise regime. Some sort of pre-baby body.

I worry that this need to exercise will nag at me when it shouldn't.
I worry that I won't have the time to get to the gym when I'm finally ready to get back to the gym.
I worry that the weather will prevent me from getting some sort of physical activity every day.

Obviously I will have other things to worry about, too. But when you're used to working out almost every day, how could you not worry about getting back to it? Exercise is a part of me in a way that sustains me on multiple levels. But a new baby will trump all of that as it becomes one of the single, most important aspects of my life.

These are the things I think about at 3AM when I can't sleep.

I also think about not being able to sleep. How I should be getting my sleep now because in 40 days (give or take), I won't be getting much of any sleep seeing as how I'll be a walking milk-maker with a mega milk consumer in the next room.

Daddy's got diaper duty, that's for sure.

Sleep has never really been an issue for me and it's funny—this is what I just told Cindy in our session with her yesterday. Maybe this is karma biting me in the butt. Maybe this is Baby saying "I heard that, Momma. Get ready, 'cuz I'm comin' soon and I'm gonna need some attention at 3AM!"

Either way, Here I sit. Talking to you.

Thinking about Baby.
Thinking about working out.
Thinking about shopping with my mom.
Thinking about Starbucks.
Thinking about thinking.

Lucky you.
Lucky me.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I just love Thanksgiving. Aside from the time spent with family, I can't get enough stuffing and turkey. Sometimes I even eat the cranberries. Yes, the cranberries that come out of a can. And let's not forget about the pumpkin bars! I love my mom for making me pumpkin bars every year, whether or not we celebrate the holiday at their house. She has to in the name of tradition. And it's my special birthday treat—yes, today is my birthday. If there are pumpkin bars at your table, please eat one for me. You've earned a cheat. Er, treat... remember, you don't have to "diet" today. You just have to make smart choices. There is a difference.

If you're heading out tomorrow for some Black Friday fun, channel your ability to breathe deeply when the crowds get rowdy. 'Cuz they will be. Wear your walking shoes so you can buzz right by all the slowpokes. And if you need to, throw an elbow or two to get 'em out of your way.

Just kidding on that last suggestion, of course. Be nice! (Santa is officially watching you.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Workout Wednesday: Partner Exercises

As promised, I give you Workout Wednesday! This week, since many of you will be visiting friends and family, I thought it wise to produce a workout based on exercises that you do with a partner. Sounds fun, right? Sounds like a great way to catch up with those relatives you haven't seen in a while. There's bound to be one that likes to workout as you do. And if not, motivate someone to get moving with you! The following isn't meant to be hard,'s meant to be fun!

Equipment needed: Two resistance bands, equal intensity. You'll want them to have handles, and you'll want the bands themselves to be somewhat tight. (Rather, tight enough to challenge your back muscles.)

Do two sets of each exercise, 15 repetitions per set (unless otherwise noted).

1) Start with cardio. At least 30 minutes.

2) Band rows. Loop the bands around each other, then step back to form an X shape. Get enough tension on the bands, then row your elbows behind you while simultaneously squatting. If the X doesn't work, find the nearest pole.

3) Chest presses. Keep the X, just turn away from each other. Press your arms out from your armpits, standing-pushup style. Again, use the nearest pole if the X doesn't work.

4) Squat holds. Stand back to back and link your arms. Use your core and your legs as you slide with each other into a squat hold. It's like a wall sit, only the "wall" is your partner's back.

5) Single-arm bicep curls. Stand next to each other, holding one resistance band between you. Keeping your inside feet about a foot apart, step on the middle of the band. Proceed to bicep curl. If it's too easy, put more distance between your feet. Switch sides to hit both biceps.

6) Single-arm triceps extensions. Stand facing each other, hold one resistance band between you. One of you will have the handle in your right hand, the other will have it in the left hand. Make sure there isn't any slack in the band, but don't worry about creating a ton of tension. Hinge forward, bending your legs to protect your lower backs. With your elbows at your side, press the handle back using your triceps muscles. Switch sides to hit both triceps.

7) High-five squat jumps. Face each other, squat down, then jump up and clap hands. Repeat.

8) Patty Cake plank. Get into a plank position, either on your forearms or with straight arms. (Make sure there is arm's length distance between you.) Reach out and clap your right hands together, repeating with your left until the desired time is up. Try 30 seconds to start, and make sure you keep those hips/shoulders/ankles in one straight line despite the arm movement.

And that's it! Just make sure you stretch.

Note: If you missed out on last week's Workout Wednesday, click on "Workout Wednesday" under "Topics" at right. As we progress, it'll be your one-shot ticket to all the Workout Wednesday goodness.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Turkey, Tryptophan and Tired

It happens every year: We fill up our plates, we eat and then we nap. Thanksgiving brings out the best nap-takers in all of us, it seems. And we're so quick to blame the bird because, well, it loaded us up with all that tryptophan. Right? Right...but also wrong.

Turkeys do contain tryptophan, an essential amino acid, but they don't contain any more of it than any other form of poultry. Like chickens, for example. And eggs. Tryptophan is also found in chocolate, oats, red meat, chickpeas, that after-Thanksgiving coma?

Probably best to blame it on what you ate with your turkey, too. Serving sizes of which were most likely more than your typical filling. And let's be honest—your Thanksgiving plate was probably filled with carbs.

When we overload on carbs, our bodies produce insulin which gets absorbed into our muscles quicker than quick, leaving everything else behind in our bloodstreams. I'll spare you the scientific mumbo-jumbo, just know that carbs work fast in our bodies, so if you want to avoid that post-meal need for slumber, try to build yourself a balanced plate as dish after dish gets passed around the table. You'll foster better chances of proper digestion and subsequently the proper use of each nutrient you've just taken in. Because if those nutrients aren't used correctly, they get turned into other things. For example, tryptophan gets turned into serotonin. You might recognize serotonin as the ultimate brain relaxer.

Of course, if that after-Thanksgiving meal does get to you, y'all know what I think you should do. Don't just sit there and fester. Get up and get moving! Put those carbs to good use!

Tune in tomorrow for another Workout Wednesday.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Stability Ball Side Jackknife

With 33 weeks of pregnancy behind me, I am even more aware of my limitations. Baby is making some pretty significant strides right now—literally and figuratively. We might be up to five pounds by the end of the week, and we're certainly reaching our max birth length. That I can truly feel as Baby loses the room to stretch and tumble inside me, which means the pressure from all the kicks and jabs is starting to feel like something fierce.

Baby aside, my own workouts are also getting more difficult as my energy levels continue to dip. Don't get me wrong, I still feel great (honestly). But I stopped running a week ago, opting instead for some quality time on the stationary bike. I can push harder when I'm not on my feet, which ultimately feels really good. So a bike/walk combo is where my cardio's at right now. Of course, I'm still doing very little ab work. Prenatal Yoga is helping to keep them in check, as are the planks, v-sits and side bends I continue to work through.

I think not being able to work my abs is truly one of the hardest modifications I've had to deal with. Sounds silly, but I love me some ab work. I was really proud of my ab strength pre-pregnancy, and I hope to get them back there once Baby is born and I'm up and at it full-force. Until then, I continue to live vicariously through my clients, my students and through you. Which is why I haven't stopped noting any new and exciting ab exercises I might come across.

For example, I found this in Oxygen and desperately want to try it.

You'll have to try it for me.

The jackknife itself isn't anything revolutionary, but I love the addition of the stability ball. Just a smidgen of weight, that's what it provides. I imagine it might be hard to keep those hips stacked, so be sure to fight hard to stop them from rolling forward or backward during the exercise. Remember, this is the type of ab exercise done in smaller moves, so don't feel silly if you can't get your feet very high off the ground.

It's all about how the exercise itself makes your muscles feel.

And that goes for just about any exercise, really.

Now go, do it for me. And let me know what you think.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Blackberry Oat Smoothie

I found blackberries at the grocery store yesterday, a berry that is obviously not in season. They were priced at 2 cartons/$1 so I bought one. This time of year, I typically stick to bananas and apples (or frozen fruits). But when true berries go on sale...they go in my cart, in my 'fridge and in my mouth right quick.

This morning, I used them in a smoothie. And it was really good.

The recipe will follow, but you should know that I prepped some of it the night before. In addition, you can top the end result with whatever your heart desires. I chose granola and some berries because it sounded good. As with any smoothie recipe, this one is just as adaptable to individual tastes.

Inspiration: A Berry Doughy Smoothie, Oh She Glows

• 1-1/5 tbsp Chia seeds
• 1/4 cup oats
• 3/4 cup milk
• 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup milk
• 1 banana
• Handful each of blackberries and blueberries
• Blackberries, blueberries and granola for garnish (if desired)

1) The night before you intend to make this smoothie, mix the first four ingredients and place it in the 'fridge until the morning. It will make a thick, batter-like substance which thickens the smoothie.

2) In the morning, place the mixture in a blender. Add the rest of the ingredients (except for your desired garnishes). Blend until smooth, pour into a cup and top with desired garnishes.

This actually makes quite a bit. Consider freezing half for tomorrow's breakfast or lunch. Trust me, you won't want to waste it. It's really good.

Also good, this quote from my page-a-day.

Time for a walk on the treadmill! Enjoy your Sunday.

Perhaps you should "free your feet." (#Infographic)

My feet have recently brought to my attention the fact that it's time for some new running shoes. I'm still wearing the Nike Dual Fusions I bought about a year ago. Granted, I haven't been doing any serious running since the summer. And before that, I was supplementing runs with my FiveFingers. But still. I should never have gone so long in the same pair of sneaks, given that I wear them every day at the gym. It's time. It really is. And I've been contemplating my next move for about two weeks now. I won't be running seriously for another few months because of Baby, but I do intend to get back into it as soon as my body (and my Baby) allow it, so I want to be prepared with a shoe that'll get the job done—while keeping me comfortable on the fitness floor.

When I checked my Google Reader this morning, I found this infographic:

Free Your Feet

Perhaps the minimalist way is still the way for me. At the very least, given that cold weather is about to dampen my outdoor running game (in the Spring, after Baby), I think I still want to find a shoe that doesn't go overboard with the "support." That's how my Lunars were, and they worked out well. Still wanting the Nike Frees, still loving the Lunar Glides. Always have fun in my FiveFingers, though I haven't done any running in them lately and they aren't the best for everyday gym wear.

Hmm, what to do.

Question: What do you look for in a running shoe? Do you typically stick with the same brand from shoe to shoe?

Friday, November 18, 2011

How to Prevent Holiday Weight Gain

Did you know that the average Thanksgiving meal clocks in around 2,500 calories at the least?


For many of you, that's probably way more than you need in a single day. That Thanksgiving meal,'s good. (Quite frankly, it's one of my favorites.) And it kicks off a season of eating. We go from turkey on the table to appetizers at various holiday parties, to Christmas dinner and then New Year's Eve. Peppered in there are cocktails and cookies aplenty. This time of year is fun, indeed. But we all tend to loath it for the challenges it presents to our waistlines.

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I figured some of you might be commencing holiday travels this weekend. Perhaps now is the right time to discuss the prevention of holiday weight gain. It's totally possible, this I promise you.

How to Prevent Holiday Weight Gain

1) Pack your fitness gear.
When you travel to distant places in search of family, you leave your gym and your routine behind. But you don't have to leave your gear behind. Bring the shoes and your favorite gym outfit. Pack the iPod. If you lug it all with you, will you really let it sit in the bag all week/weekend? Sneak in a run, or maybe just a walk. Things get crazy when the family gets together, but there shouldn't be anything wrong with you sneaking out for some cardio. Or a class at the local YMCA. Do what you can, when you can. And see if anyone wants to join you.

2) Offer to bring a dish.
Or two, depending on your free time. Doing so assures you that at least one thing on the table is made to be healthy. And if you're in charge of the cooking, spend some time online. There are an overabundance of recipes out there that make traditional, high-calorie dishes and desserts a bit healthier without depleting the flavors we've come to know and love.

3) Drink wisely.
Not all liquids are calorie-free, especially when alcohol is involved. Sure, have one. Then sip some water for a bit before you have another. You might actually forget you even wanted another.

4) Plate your appetizers.
Never, ever pick at the pretty little snacks sitting in front of you. Grab a little plate and fill it with what you need to "hold you over" until the main course is complete. And don't let yourself sit at the table in the kitchen where all the appetizers are placed. You get to talkin', you forget how many of this or that you just ate and before you know it—you just ate a meal. And then dinner is served. So plate your appetizers and walk away.

5) Exercise portion control and moderation when filling your plate.
Just because the table is filled to the edges with food...well, that doesn't mean your plate has to be. Holiday meals, while special, are still just meals. So don't let your eyes and your holiday spirit take over your good judgement. And don't skip other meals to "save up" for that one big meal. You'll be starving by the time that one big meal is ready, and our good judgement is powerless in the presence of starvation.

6) Go ahead, cheat.
Wait. What? Yeah, I said it. But cheat wisely. If you don't normally eat a ton of sweets, but you love...LOVE those cookies that Grandma always makes—then eat one. Otherwise you'll spend the entire night drooling over them and hating anyone that eats them without abandon. Eat one, then move on. Faced with a plate full of cookies you love? Depending on the cookies, you might be able to get away with having more than one. But again, cheat wisely. Then walk away. When you make smart choices like that, some might not even call it cheating.

7) Plan accordingly when cooking—and when taking leftovers.
If you're the cook, don't cook too much. You won't have to stock high-calorie dishes and treats long after the party is over. You'll just eat it, right? And since this is Holiday season, you'll just eat more of the same at all those other parties you have to attend. So plan accordingly. And if you're a guest and the host is offering you leftovers, do the same. Just take a little bit of your favorite dish or dessert, maybe enough for just a day or two. Again, you'll have more parties (and consequently more good eatin') ahead of you.

8) Remember that tomorrow is a new day.
So you ate bad yesterday. You're human, it happens. Get over it quickly and get right back into your patterns of healthy eating. Giving up another day in the name of yesterday will set you down a path of diet destruction.

Question: How do you prevent holiday weight gain?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Do you have an "elephant appetite"?

Good quote, right? I definitely suffer from the almighty "elephant appetite," and I certainly notice a difference when I haven't been working out. The hunger levels don't necessarily change, but my cravings do. I tend to gravitate toward foods that I haven't had in a while, foods that satisfy my need to eat but not necessarily my need to fuel my body. Which is the approach I typically take when I'm working out regularly. I eat to support an active and healthy lifestyle. And what I eat complements my fitness routine. So it truly is a "win-win" situation, because if I keep my fitness routine constant then I can continue to burn fat and calories, improve my circulation, regulate my crapping...basically, I can accomplish everything that the quote above implies.

It's good stuff, that whole working out thing.
This was good stuff, too:

A "fried" egg sandwich. I often get so involved in my try-new-recipes thing that I forget to go back to the simple meals that really make a difference. Eggs are so cheap and so easy to keep on-hand that we buy them almost every week. They usually get scrambled, but for some reason, I thought to fry 'em instead. With just a touch of natural butter and a small poke to the yolk ('cuz I hate when it's runny), I had myself a perfect little egg patty. Between two slices of whole wheat bread and with lettuce, tomato, red onion and Swiss cheese—it became the best sandwich I've had in a really long time.

Question: What is your favorite "simple" meal?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Introducing: Workout Wednesday!

I was going to save this for after the new year, seeing as how that's a good time for introducing change, but I figured that was kinda silly. So right here, right in the middle of November on a very unimportant day, I'd like to introduce WORKOUT WEDNESDAY to A Daily Dose of Fit. From here on out, unless for some odd reason I simply cannot post, I intend to give you a workout on each and every Wednesday of the weeks and months ahead. It might be cardio, it might be strength training. It might simply be a change or two made to the workout I posted the previous week. You'll just have to wait and see! Just know that it'll be designed to keep you moving, to challenge your muscles—but I can't predict what kind of equipment you have in your house. So if I call for something you don't have, be sure to send me an email at dailydose (dot) notes (at) gmail (dot) com for an appropriate modification. Let's get started.

I've designed the following to be a continuous series of movements meant to activate just about every muscle you've got—perfect for workouts on the go, or those days when you just don't have a lot of time. You could probably complete the entire thing, including your warm up and cool down, in under 30 minutes. So move from one exercise in the circuit to the next without stopping! No equipment required, unless you count a bottle filled with water. And you might want to have a stopwatch on hand, or at least situate yourself near a clock with a secondhand. All repetitions/time requirements are noted, and I'd like you to perform the entire circuit four times through. 'Course, you should take a 15-second breather in between circuits.

But don't start until you've got at least 10 minutes of cardio under your belt. Jog in place if you have to, just get those muscles warmed up.

Here we go:
1) Deep, slow squats with feet hip-width apart. 15 repetitions.
2) Hands down, hop feet back to a straight arm plank. Hold for 30 seconds.
3) Pushups. 12 repetitions.
4) Drop to stomach for Supermans, flutter your arms and legs. 30 seconds.
5) Push up to wide-leg squat hold with alternating calf presses. 15 slow repetitions per calf muscle.

That's it! Cardio before the circuit meets cardio during the circuit, combined with a little leg, core and upper body work. Be sure to cool down for at least ten minutes. Do some light jogging or walking.

And keep that core tight throughout the whole thing, mkay?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What are agonist and antagonist muscles? (plus, a drink recipe)

OK, so this morning...holy fog in my path! Winter is coming more quickly than I'd like it to, especially since we've already had our first snowfall (which did not accumulate, thankfully). I know, I know...I live in Michigan and the lake alone does not qualify us for tropical weather year-round, so I can't really complain. I get it. I really do, but that doesn't mean I have to experience love at first sight with it every year. There is, however, one thing I really do enjoy when it comes to the onset of cold weather:

Chuggin' warm drinks. Especially when I'm running out the door with wet hair in an attempt to make it to my client's side on time. This particular brew was so tasty that I feel compelled to share the recipe with you, but let's talk about agonist and antagonist muscles first. If that's alright with you. (Yeah, I'm throwing a vocab lesson at ya.) According to Webster:

So what does that mean in the grand scheme of fitness things? So glad you asked: An agonist muscle works against an antagonist muscle.  Therefore, the agonist muscle is the one contracting. Or, lifting the weight. So the antagonist muscle is therefore the muscle opposing the actions of the agonist muscle.

You might generalize that last sentence to mean that an antagonist muscle stretches, or lengthens, while the agonist is working. So as the agonist muscle is flexed to create movement in a specific part of the body, the antagonist muscle is stretched/lengthened—and then flexed somewhat as that same specific part of the body is returned to its starting position.

Confused? Read the above one more time, then think about it in terms of the biceps and triceps muscles. As the bicep contracts to lift a dumbbell in a curl, the triceps is lengthened (because everything is connected). And as the bicep relaxes to lower the dumbbell, the triceps is shortened to help return the arm to its starting position.

Other pairs include your anterior and posterior deltoids, pecs and lats, left- and right-side external obliques and your quads and hamstrings. That said, you can use these pairs to build an awesome total body workout. Work your pecs and lats together, doing an exercise for one and then the other. Same for all the other agonist/antagonist pairs. Complete your desired number of sets and repetitions before moving on.

You might have already been doing this, sans the fancy vocab words.

And now that THAT'S over with, let's get to the recipe I promised you at the beginning of this post. It starts off with a request for one cup of Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk—you should feel free to use the chocolate milk of your choice. In addition, I went the instant route with my coffee. Substitute your favorite brewed coffee if you'd like. And then just eliminate the instant coffee. Note that I made mine in a travel mug, which allowed for more liquid. You might have to adjust the coffee measurements in an effort to prevent overflow.

Finally, the recipe:

Source: Loosely based on a recipe from (never home)maker

• 1 cup Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk
• 1 tbsp Maple syrup
• 1 tbsp smooth peanut butter
• 3/4 cup boiling water
• 1 packet Nescafe Instant Decaf Coffee

1) Mix first three ingredients in a microwaveable mug, then microwave on "high" for about two minutes to melt up the peanut butter. Stir the ingredients until combined.

2) Add the coffee packet to the mixture, topping it off with the boiling water. (Or simply add your coffee.) Stir to mix completely, then enjoy!


Question: What is your favorite, go-to cold weather beverage?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pantry Staples for the Healthy Eater

Oh, Monday! This girl is tired. Being at least seven months pregnant is certainly starting to take a toll on my body. It's true that we trekked about this weekend, spending some time in the city and in the outskirts at my sister's's probably the last time I'll run about before Baby is born. I'm definitely feeling it. Getting up to teach 6AM was a struggle, but I did it, although I modified a little more than usual. It's difficult because my brain wants to keep my body working as hard as it's used to, but my body is saying "woah, Momma...slow down." And I do, as much as I can. (I'm generally not one to like lounging about, if you couldn't guess that.)

So today, since I'm "taking it easy," I thought I'd wrap up the "What can I eat that's healthy?" series with a bonus round. But first, make sure you're caught up:

Part 1: Breakfast
Part 2: Lunch
Part 3: Dinner
Part 4: Snacks

All caught up? Good...let's get to the bonus round.

Pantry Staples for the Healthy Eater
If you aim to eat healthy on a regular basis, you are probably prepping a lot of meals at home. Therefore, stocking your refrigerator, your pantry and maybe even your freezer with good-for-you ingredients is a clutch move you can't afford to NOT make. Without knowing your individual tastes or dietary needs, I'd like to offer you the following list of pantry staples for the healthy eater. A select group of versatile basics you just might want to keep on hand.

Nut Butter
Sure, it tastes good on toast. And apples. But it also pumps up a bowl of oats, and you can certainly use it in cookie and granola bar recipes. To find an decent option, all you have to do is read the ingredients. There should be two: Peanuts and salt. No added oils or sugars (save those two ingredients for the occasional splurge-worthy, flavored nut butters).

Black Beans
Hello, protein! Grab a can filled with the low-sodium variety. Be sure to rinse the beans whenever you use them. And you can use them in quite a few different dishes. Like soups and on top of salads. You can even make hummus with it. Considering the health benefits of these little guys, considering that one can might set you back a's totally worth it to stock up.

Plain Greek Yogurt
Works wonders in place of sour cream in your favorite recipes. Or as a thickener in smoothies. You can even eat it straight up with some fruit. Don't like the sour flavor? Add a splash of vanilla or some cinnamon to spice things up. 

Chia Seeds
Omegas, omegas and omegas! These little buggers top well on yogurt and oatmeal dishes. Just sprinkle like salt, it's so easy to use them. You can also make an egg-like substance that can replace typical eggs in all of your favorite baking recipes. Combine three tablespoons of water with one tablespoon of Chia seeds and you've got yourself one "egg."

Fresh Black Pepper
The kind you grind up. Fresh black pepper makes every savory dish better, and it stops you from reaching for that salt shaker. Head to the store and find yourself the coolest pepper grinder ever, then prominently display it wherever you eat your meals. You just might break that salt habit yet!

Oh, honey. Get yourself some! It sweetens oatmeal and smoothies alike, and can be used in a number of your favorite recipes. And it's much better for you than white table sugar. Don'tcha think? Try and find some local honey if you can. And if you can't, just make sure you get pure honey.

Olive Oil
The best oil ever! Beats butter in a pan, that's for sure. I like to mix it with Balsamic vinegar and other seasonings to create a delicious, low-cal salad dressing. You can buy it cheaply, or spend a little more and get one that's all fancy schmancy. I keep mine in a glass bottle with a pour top for easy use.

Fruits and Veggies and Greens
I know, duh. But the more of the fresh stuff you have on hand, the more likely it is that you'll use it. Think salads, parfaits, smoothies, omelettes...raw snacks, even. I could go on forever. Produce isn't exactly cheap, so if you spend your hard-earned money on it...I mean, do you really want to have to throw it away? My favorites include bananas, blueberries, apples, green peppers, sweet onions, lettuce and kale (or Swiss chard).

I could go on and on with this one, but the above are most definitely my favorites.

Question: What are your pantry staples?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The "What can I eat that's healthy?" Series (Part 4: Snacks)

Now that we've covered all of our meals, it's time to talk about snacks. We all know that eating just three meals a day isn't always the best way to go about life. Especially if you're living the fit life. I eat three meals and two small snacks each and every day (and that's not just because I'm pregnant).

But snack time, like most meals, can also be a very confusing time. This is where the food industry gets us...or rather, doesn't get us. Our grocery store aisles are packed with processed foods, most of which are complete junk. And when we need a snack, we tend to grab whatever is easiest, which means it's super important to have easy, healthy snacks on hand at all time. Even if you have to stuff your pockets, purses and desk drawers.

Who cares if other people think you're a walking grocery store, right? You prefer to eat healthy, thank you! So what exactly should you eat? I mean, besides fresh fruit? Well, I can't tell you what you SHOULD eat...only YOU can determine that. But I can tell you what snacks frequent my rotation. Snack time is, after all my favorite time.

Laughing Cow Cheese
So good on fresh pears and apples (try it), even better with some Kashi crackers. But what I love most about these chunks of goodness is not necessarily the cheese itself, but its portability. Each package comes with individually wrapped serving sizes. Perfect for portion control and portability.

Rice Cakes
Buy the plain kind, then top with nut butter and fruit. Or cheese (see above) and veggies. They provide just the right amount of carbs. And crunch...'cuz sometimes you really just want a snack that crunches in your mouth. At least I do.

Snack Bars
I love 'em, but they're tricky. They get bad for you really quickly, which is why it's essential that you read labels. I like Pure Bars and That's It Bars, I'm also a fan of LUNA Bars. And here's the thing—don't feel like you have to eat the whole dang thing in one sitting. Sometimes I just eat half, saving the rest for later. Or the next day.

I praise the benefits of hummus at every opportunity. Learn to love it if you don't already. Learn to make it at home, too. It's so easy. Just mash up a can of chickpeas with some olive oil and garlic. Use crackers and veggies to get the stuff into your mouth. And if you don't already have some, buy a few little plastic containers so you can transport it.

Do not, under any circumstances, forget about applesauce! Buy the unsweetened kind and add some cinnamon. You could always make your own, too. But the store-bought kind works just as good in terms of a healthy snack.

Peanut Butter
Yep, I do the spoon thing. A serving size of peanut butter is usually about a tablespoon or two. Translation: A spoon full of peanut butter. It's tasty and filling, so why not? 

Silk Pure Dark Chocolate Almond Milk
A glass of this stuff satisfies my sweet tooth, that's for sure. It doesn't have as much protein as you might think, what with the almond reputation and all, but it's thick so I still find it to be filling. I've even added it to instant coffee to create a mocha of sorts.

1) Don't forget about Greek Yogurt. Also a delicious snack.
2) Pay attention to serving sizes. They are not as big as you might think.
3) Buy snack-size baggies for on-the-go munching! (That way, you won't have to stop for fries.)

And so, that's that! Plenty of ideas to inspire you to eat healthy. Tomorrow, it's Monday which means a new week is beginning...the perfect time to put all of this into play in a way that fits your lifestyle.

Question: What are your favorite healthy snacks?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The "What can I eat that's healthy?" Series (Part 3: Dinner)

So we talked about breakfast and lunch, which leaves us at dinner. A tricky meal, that's for sure. By the time it rolls around, we're usually fairly hungry. And then there's the social aspect of dinner. Eating out is fun, but it can be a huge challenge for any healthy eater. So what's such a person to do? Approach it just like you approach your breakfast and lunch. Pack and plan if you've got the type of schedule that requires dinner on the go. If that's not you, you should still be planning. Never go to the grocery store without a list. You'll come home with a bag full of food that might not equate to anything worth serving at the dinner table.

Consult cookbooks, food magazines and old favorites for ideas and build your grocery list accordingly. If you have old favorites, keep a list of them somewhere. Tack it inside the door of your pantry or spice cabinet for quick reference. Or save printouts in a tabbed binder, which essentially becomes a cookbook that you yourself made. Fun, right?

The more you get involved with your meals, the more you appreciate their nutritious value—and the more you learn to see what's healthy and what might not be so. Self educating in this way helps you when you're at restaurants, too. And it inspires you to get creative in your own kitchen (by modifying recipes to meet your needs, for example). And let's face it, nothing beats a well-plated meal that's also quite healthy.

So where to start? Try some of my favorites.

We make these a lot in our house. Why? Because they're good, and the leftovers usually come aplenty. Lysander's All Natural Taco Seasoning keeps the sodium count down and the health factor up. It's more expensive, but half a pack gets the job done. And it comes with two packs. Pick corn tortillas to cut carbs and calories, low-fat cheese to cut the fat down.

Chicken Breasts
Buy them in bulk! Chicken sandwiches. Chicken on a salad. Chicken in pasta... You can even grind it up in a food processor for tacos. To make sure they don't go bad, freeze individually and thaw as needed. We usually freeze two breasts per bag because there's only two of us eating them, but you might do more depending on your family's needs.

Salisbury Steaks
This meal never appealed to me until I tried a recipe out of Cooking Light. I was "taking one for the team" at the time. But now, it's in the rotation somewhat frequently. The hubs LOVES it. So do I. It's hearty, but healthy and good. And if you play your cards right, you'll have wonderful leftovers for lunch the next day.

Cooking Light
Speaking of...this might be the best food magazine, hands down. I tab out at least five dinner recipes in every issue. The ingredients are manageable, and every recipe ends with the nutrition information. You might also like Clean Eating.

The hubs and I don't usually get to enjoy a nice, hot breakfast in the morning. But we both really love this meal, so sometimes we make it our dinner. Our go-to is usually omelettes and toast, but we're not good at making actual omelettes, so it ends up being more like scrambled eggs and veggies. With the toast, of course. Never, ever a dull meal. At least in our opinion.

Everyone shies away from pasta, and with good reason. But it's not so hard to make a healthy pasta dish, and we do so quite often at our house. You can try the whole wheat noodles, but I think they're an acquired taste, which is why we usually stick with the regular noodles—but we pick noodles that are bigger so that we don't eat as many of them. They become secondary to all the wonderful veggies and chicken chunks we throw in the sauce. Pasta is also easy to make in bulk, which means more dinners and lunches for you throughout the week. Remember, you can always freeze what you might not get to. 

Your Supermarket's Deli
Ours is pretty good. We shop it when we know that certain nights ahead won't leave us with time to cook dinner. There are usually a fair amount of healthy options, but also some not-so-healthy options which you'll have to learn to avoid. Staple choices for us include the seasoned chicken breasts or the seasoned Tilapia. Steamed veggies and whole-grain side dishes. It really just depends on what they're offering. But don't be so quick to pass it by.

1) Take an appropriate serving size and leave the rest for lunch. If you measure right, you'll eat right.
2) Don't be afraid to cook. It really, truly is fun.
3) Eating out is an art form, but it's certainly one you can master. (Get the to-go box up front!)

So what's next now that we've covered our three meals? Snacks.

Question: What are your favorite healthy dinner foods?

Friday, November 11, 2011

The "What can I eat that's healthy?" Series (Part 2: Lunch)

Happy day, y'all! ( should read that with a slight twang.) I love Fridays. Particularly this one as I'm headed to Chicago for the weekend. It's been some time since I've been into the city, and since this might be one of the last times we can go with such ease, we're going. And we'll get to see some of my friends from college, which is always a good thing. Oh, and...there's the obligatory trip to Trader Joe's that I'm very much looking forward to. Can't go to the city without doing that. \Word on the street is that all of their seasonal items are on the shelves. Can't wait for some Pumpkin Pancake mix. But I digress.

We have other things to talk about today and they don't include breakfast items. This is, after all, Part 2 of my "What can I eat that's healthy?" series. We talked about breakfast yesterday, so it's only natural we follow that up with lunch.

I get a lot of questions about lunch when people talk to me about healthy eating. Lunch is often eaten on the go, out and about or at work where kitchens aren't always available for fresh cooking. But that doesn't mean it has to be unhealthy. Or boring. It so easily becomes both in this world of fast food we live in. And let's be many turkey sandwiches can you pack before you feel like one yourself?

Time for more options.

I'm fortunate in that I get to eat most of my lunches at home, but that wasn't (and isn't) always the case. In fact, I pack a lunch almost every Tuesday and Thursday so that I can cram some cardio in between my morning and afternoon clients. Yesterday, it was black bean soup. On other days, you might find me eating some of the following (whether they be packed to go or eaten at home).

Simply Healthy Black Bean Soup
There are literally four ingredients in my favorite recipe. They aren't expensive, and produce four hefty servings. Best part? It takes maybe ten minutes to make. Five once you get used to it. If you don't like black beans, there are a number of healthy soup recipes in this world. The best contain protein and minimize the use of heavy creams which just add fat. Make a big pot, freeze in serving sizes, grab and go when you have to pack (or leave some in the 'fridge if you anticipate eating at home).

Mr. McDougall's Tortilla Soup with Baked Chips
I've never been one to enjoy canned soups, but I was recently given the opportunity to sample this one...which actually comes in a cup...and it's super tasty. It's of the "just add hot water" variety, but it isn't filled with anything you won't recognize. Completely natural, this soup. And low in sodium, too. There are a few other flavors in the Mr. McDougall's soup lineup, but I've only got experience with this one so I can't speak for the rest. You should, however, be able to find them in the healthy section of your grocery store.

Salad Bars
My local grocery store has the greatest salad bar, I swear. They make it so easy to create a healthy salad out of Mother Nature's candy. I guarantee there's somewhere in your town that provides the same opportunity. Seek it out and go crazy whenever you can't pack a lunch, or when there isn't anything at home to eat. Better yet, stock up on salad essentials every Sunday and prep in advance so that all you have to do is toss and go when the time comes.

Smoothies and Peanut Butter
You can make smoothies in advance, too. Didja know that? Freeze them for later consumption. They'll act like ice packs in your lunch box, and they'll be much better for you (and less expensive) than the smoothies you buy at your local smoothie bar. Pair it with some peanut butter on a slice of bread for just a bit more sustenance and fill. It's the sweetest of lunches, really.

The oatmeal of lunches. Two slices of bread are but an empty canvas for one healthy pile of food. Get some all-natural cold cuts if you wish, or go the veggie route. Add hummus, boiled eggs, fresh avocado, ground, there's nothing better than a great sandwich. All you have to do is branch out from the traditional turkey and cheddar combo. Trust me, your taste buds will thank you. (PS: Don't forget about Subway. Entirely possible to make a healthy sandwich at that place...just sayin'.)

Kashi Frozen Meals
I don't eat a lot of frozen meals, but when I do, it's usually Kashi brand. They have a Black Bean Mango bowl that's pretty divine. I've tried a few others, but this one tends to trump them in my grocery cart every nine times out of ten.

Cook big dinners. Big, healthy dinners that could be your lunch, too. When you clean up dinner, put said leftovers into individual dishes for grab-and-go lunch packing. Not only does this provide something delicious and homemade, it cuts your grocery bill a bit, too.

1) Don't just brown-bag it. Fancy bag it. You'll be much more motivated to carry your lunch with you.
2) Prep in advance. Chop veggies, slice rolls for sandwiches, boil the eggs...makes it easier to grab.
3) Yes, you can eat out...if you choose with your brain, not with your stomach.

That last rules applies to dinners out, too. We'll talk about dinner tomorrow.

Question: What are your favorite healthy lunch foods?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The "What can I eat that's healthy?" Series (Part 1: Breakfast)

In the past week alone, I've had two people ask me what they should be eating to create a better balance between diet and exercise. I am not a nutritionist, nor am I a dietitian, but I am human—and I like to eat healthy. But I don't diet.

To me, the word "diet" is all about restriction. And in my experience, the more I restrict myself, the more I want whatever I cannot have. So I inevitably end up caving in and overindulging in that which is probably not good for me. Which is why I, once again, don't diet. Instead, I do what I can to eat foods that sustain and entertain me with their flavors and their fiber, fats or whatever. Healthy foods, after all, can be really...really stinkin' good. It's just a matter of figuring out what is healthy and what isn't.

I won't bore you with the science behind healthy eating, because there is quite a bit of it out there (all of which tends to be confusing), so I'll cut to the chase. My chase—I've done my fair share of hunting for and experimenting with foods in an effort to distinguish the healthy from the unhealthy, the good from the bad, the likes from the dislikes and the must-haves from the once-in-a-whiles. I've read the science and practiced what it preached to me.

I've thrown it all out the window in favor of simple, clean eating. And I've even, yeah...gonna admit it...I've even cheated with foods that are absolutely not good for me (don't take away my chocolate). This, of course, is me self-educating. I have learned what works for me.

I have learned how to balance my intake so that it helps, rather than hinders me in my everyday life.

"What can I eat that's healthy," you ask. I can't tell you specifically, but I can share with you some of the things I've come to rely on quite regularly, and will do so in a series of posts throughout the rest of the week. Maybe my favorite healthy foods will turn out to be yours, too. Up first: Breakfast.

Old-Fashioned Oats
The blank canvas of breakfast cereals. Mix in an egg for added protein, bananas and other fruits for added flavor. Sweeten with cinnamon, honey or pure maple syrup. Top with nuts and more fruit, maybe some peanut butter. Eat hot or cold (otherwise known as overnight oats). (Note: You can also experiment with other grains, like buckwheat and Scottish oats. Same thing, different texture and flavor.)

Better Oats Instant Oatmeal
The best instant oatmeal I’ve ever tasted. Buy it plain and top to your heart’s content, or try a flavored variety for those mornings when you really can’t do much more than microwave your meal. Just be weary about other brands—some are absolutely loaded with extra  ingredients that are not at all good for you.

Grain Berry Bran Flakes Cereal
It's my favorite cold cereal, hands down. And it's neither hard to find in the grocery store, nor overly expensive. (Plus, every box I've opened has had coupons in it—bonus!) Top with the milk of your choice, something skim or maybe one that's almond based. Add fresh fruit like blueberries and bananas. 

Go for whole wheat breads that lack added sugars or corn syrup. Golden rule of thumb across the board—the less ingredients, the better. Hit the frozen section and grab a loaf of brown rice bread Or any other bread you might find next to it. If it’s frozen, it probably lacks preservatives which is a good sign that something is close to being natural. They're more expensive, sure. But often worth it. Top with nut butter or some sugar-free jelly or jam. Maybe even some fruit slices.

Gotta love ‘em. And yes, you can make them in the microwave. Top with some fresh Parmesan cheese or swirl in some green onions. Any veggie, really. If you cook them on the stovetop, use a non-stick pan so you don’t have to add butter.

Greek Yogurt
Chobani and Fage are my favorite brands. Others tend to be full of added sugar, whereas these seem to contain less of it. Add your own fruit to make it filling. Top with granola if you've got it.

Start with a Greek yogurt base, add a splash of milk—and whatever else your heart desires. Don’t shy away from greens either. Spinach adds goodness to a smoothie, even if it makes the end result look nasty. Peanut butter, bananas and vanilla yogurt? Divine.

1) All of these travel well, even the eggs if you've got access to a microwave at your end destination.
2) Never, ever skip breakfast. Why start your day like that?
3) There are other healthy breakfast options out there, but these are the options I rely on the most.

Tomorrow...let's do lunch.

Question: What are your favorite healthy breakfast foods?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

And the winner is...

Congrats, Nancy! I can say with supreme certainty that the Apple Cherry bar is delightful in every way possible. You'll find out once you receive your variety pack. Thanks to everyone else that participated—I always love hosting giveaways because it's so fun to give back, but because many of you leave links to your own blogs. I'm always looking for new blogs to read.

I can't, of course, go any further without thanking the people behind That's It bars. So generous of them to send samples my way, and even more generous of them to send a variety pack toward Nancy! I love it when companies share the love.

Oh, and...prenatal yoga. LOVE. I think it's really going to help me focus my breathing in an effort to further my relaxation efforts during labor and delivery. At least I hope it will. It felt good to get some deep stretches while doing some deep breathing. Looking forward to next week already.

Speaking of breathing, don't forget about your breath while you're working out. Inhale when it's easy, exhale when you exert the effort. Inhale when you squat, exhale when you stand up. Inhale when you straighten your arm, exhale when you curl up with your bicep. Etc...etc. If you find yourself holding your breath throughout your workout, you really need to focus more on letting it go. To hold your breath is to not only deprive your working muscles of oxygen, but to deprive your brain of it as well. Without this flow of oxygen, you just might pass out if you're not careful.

Now go, practice some deep breathing!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Prenatal Yoga

I started taking yoga about a month or two before I found out I was pregnant. I often thought it would be too slow for me, but was pleasantly surprised that the slow factor wasn't an issue at all. I actually liked it...all the periodic pauses, smooth transitions and, well—some of those transitions were done fairly quickly. And then my belly started to grow, which meant that I would need to modify or avoid certain moves altogether. Not knowing how to do this, I just quit going. (Silly me.) Tonight, however, I am going back. To yoga, though not to the class I had been taking.

One of our yoga instructors at the gym is teaching a prenatal yoga class for moms-to-be like me, and I couldn't be more excited about it. The benefits of prenatal yoga, according to the flyer she gave me:

1) Finding relaxation.
It's all about you, your body and your baby.

2) Alleviating pain.
Gentle stretching helps relieve the kinks and aches brought on by the ever-changing pregnant body.

3) Sleeping better.
Probably from all that relaxing!

4) Strengthening muscles.
It's low-impact, but still challenging.

5) Finding support.
When moms get together, a sense of communitynis often present.

6) Easing delivery.
Yogic breathing skills translate to labor and delivery which promotes a calmer, more relaxed delivery.

7) Recovering.
It helps your body return to its new version of normal.

As I continue to modify more and more of my usual strength training/cardio routine, I think (I hope) this class will be a good supplement. And as I continue to work toward a natural birth, I think (I hope) this class will prove to be quite useful.

I'll let you know how it goes. I'm certainly quite excited about it.

(Did you enter my giveaway? I'll be announcing the winner tomorrow!)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thank You

Momma is tired! Such a great and wonderful weekend! I cannot believe how blessed Baby is. Not even born, and so many wonderful people love it so. I sit on the edge of my chair as I type this, surrounded by bags and bins of baby gear just waiting to be unpacked and organized. I might even be bouncing a bit—such a sugar overload, I did give myself! Me, I'm weak in the presence of:

Cupcakes! Two baby showers, cupcakes at each. Do these people know me or what? I die for cupcakes! Don't you? But alas, time to revert back to the healthy eating thing. (If only one could live on cupcakes alone, I'd certainly do it.) New week, new beginning. Two days of sweet splurges are behind me.

To every single person that made my weekend so special—thank you so very, very much. I say that Baby is lucky, but in reality, so am I. And so is Jason. We're one happy family, us three.

REMINDER! Don't forget to enter my giveaway! You just might win a variety pack of That's It bars! (Contest ends at midnight EST on Monday, November 7, 2011). 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Baby Shower Weekend

Channel your inner Britney and sing along with me for two short seconds: "Oh,, baby!" You know how it goes, pig tails and schoolgirl outfit aside. I'd have you sing "hit me baby one more time" as well, but that's really only a verse I should be singing—it's my innards that are takin' the punchin'. It's OK, though. I like it. And I already like this weekend. It's baby shower weekend! I have two (count them) two showers this weekend! Baby is so lucky. So many people love it and it isn't even born yet! For example, my dad brought this adorable onesie home from a race he recently cycled in:

Picture it with jean shorts or a fluffy little jean skirt. Adorbs!

I really hope my kid likes to be active—judging by his/her activity levels right now, I'd say we're on our way to being just that. Can't wait to buy that first little tricycle. I had one when I was little, did you?

Since we're obviously making this a baby post, I thought I'd give you a quick glimpse inside the nursery. We got the glider last weekend, and we finally have both sets of bedding in the house:

I'm seriously loving the gray! The chair itself is a perfect shade of it, slightly darker than the wall which avoids any monotone action. The bedding will be adorable, either way. And just yesterday, a bookcase arrived from IKEA.

'Course I had to get right to putting it together. Baby already has quite the library!  If you know us, you wouldn't expect anything less of our child. Big readers, we are. (I'm sure this is the most organized it will ever be.)And if you're wondering about the mysterious gray's a baby book! I couldn't find one I liked in the stores, so I channeled my crafty side and made one myself. I think it'll be the extent of my scrapbooking adventures. I much prefer putting pictures in photo albums. So much easier.

With that, I leave you to your weekend. Time to take my bump to the parties. One today, one tomorrow. Hooray!

REMINDER! Don't forget to enter my giveaway! You just might win a variety pack of That's It bars! (Contest ends at midnight EST on Monday, November 7, 2011). 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Heart Rate vs. Hard Work (#Infographic)

Some people won't go to the gym without their heart rate monitors. Others rely on ratings of perceived exertion or talk tests, never once looking at their beeps per minute. While both methods help you keep an eye on the intensity of your workouts, your heart rate is really the best indicator. Here's a cheat sheet I found on Pinterest that will help you determine your "exercise zone":

So as you plan out and execute your workouts, take the above into consideration. See if you've been doing yourself justice. And remember, if the numbers above tell you all is good but you feel as though you're about to keel over—you truly might be working too hard, so scale it back a bit. The above, it goes without saying, is but a guide. So let it guide you, but don't let it rule you. Make sense?

Question: Do you wear a heart rate monitor or go by perceived exertion? If you wear a heart rate monitor, do you wear it for every type of exercise or just one specific method?


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