Monday, March 31, 2014

March Recap

Let's take a look at the goals I set forth at the beginning of March. Do you do this? Set monthly goals? I find that if I don't, I get lost in my own shuffle. Now, what you don't see are the weekly to-do lists that I put together for myself, which are filled with mundane tasks like "clean the bathroom" and "grocery shop." Those fuel my fire, too. But they'd bore you to bits. So, back to those March goals:

1) Complete that "Special Populations" course for my Spinning certification. 

As a fitness professional, continuing education is a wonderful beast. A necessary and enjoyable evil, if you will. I purchased the above to complete my Spinning requirements, read through it, and passed the exam. It was open-book, but I still took the time to make sure I really, truly knew every answer. (Could you imagine if all those exams in college had been open-book? Oh, the stress that wouldn't have existed!)

2) Develop a recipe for slow-cooker steel cut oats.

You guys. I am so happy with my slow-cooker steel cut oats recipe. I drool just thinking about it. I wasn't sure if it would turn out, because you never know with these things, but it did and I highly recommend making it. You'll have a pot full of the perfect oatmeal base, ready and waiting for your favorite toppings.

3) Create an account on LinkedIn. 

Fail. Seriously. I totally forgot that I wanted to do this. And I'm still on the fence about it. I need your thoughts! (See the post question below.)

4) Celebrate the wedding of a great friend. 

Consider it done! As you read this, we're packing our bags for the return trip home to Michigan. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you've probably seen evidence of our travels.

5) Complete the IdeaFit photo-a-day challenge.

This was such a fun challenge! Sure, I missed a few days, but I checked the word every single day and made a conscious effort to post if it spoke to me. Anything with a line through it is a day I didn't post. I should tell you, I wrote this in advance of March 31. Just looking at the words for each day of our trip...I was certain I could finish strong. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you'll know for sure.

And now, it's time for April. See you on the flip side.

Question: Are you on LinkedIn? Yay or nay? As a blogger, does it do much for your blog? Or do you use it primarily for professional purposes? And if that's your game, what has it done for you?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

6 Things I'm Loving Right Now, Vol. 3

Hey.'s post is all about me. 

OK, not really. It's 
about the things I'm loving right now. You know, 'cause I like to recap that sort of thing every month:

1) The Significant Lack of Snow

I probably just jinxed it, but not having to stomp my way through mush and slush and snow has been so nice. Spring, dare I say that you are here? Please stay. I like you.

2) A Bun In My Hair

I am painfully late to the whole sock bun thing. For the longest time, my hair was just too short. And then it was long enough, but I could not make it happen. I have no skills when it comes to styling my hair—I'm a sick-straight and/or ponytail kind of gal. But when my angel hairstylist told me to curl my ends first, magic happened. AND THEN,  I bought this BunEase thing from Ulta. Hair life: Forever changed.

3) Iced Vanilla Macchiatos from Starbucks

I think I've officially made the switch over to iced coffees, probably because I'm so ready for warmer weather. I tried the Starbuck's new Vanilla Macchiato on a whim and haven't looked back. I know it's virtually an unmixed latte, which is actually why I enjoy it. There's something about experiencing each flavor individually that makes it such an adventurously delicious drink. My request: Grande decaf, non-fat, two pump, light on the drizzle.

4) Baby Clothes

Baby's room is officially done being painted, so we've slowly started moving in some of the newborn things we've been storing in Hannah's closet. I still can't believe another small life is joining ours. And so soon! I can't wait to see how Hannah reacts to it all. She's so amazing with her baby cousin, I'm really hoping that translates.

5) True Blue Hand Lotion and Scrub from Bath and Body Works

My skin is essentially dead from this cold, dry winter. My hands, of course, are the worst. Enter a coupon for Bath and Body Works, which consequently led me to the stuff above and (seriously) I'm in love. It turns my parched, cracked hands into those of a baby. Both sit permanently next to my sink (and Dora and Minnie Mouse), and I use them as often as I feel the need to.

6) KIND Healthy Grains Bars

You guys. I love me some KIND bars, but they're kind of expensive so I don't buy them as frequently as I'd like to. Enter these Healthy Grains bars. They're more of a traditional granola bar. I don't know how new they are, but they're new to me and I'm diggin' 'em something fierce. The whole box is totally affordable and compares well to all the others on the shelf. My favorite flavor, obviously not pictured, is the Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate (because I love anything with peanut butter).

Question: What are you loving right now? 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

What is strength? (#pinspirationthursday)

Many of us exercise on a regular basis. We lift weights at the gym or in the comforts of our own home, fully intending to build strength while maintaining our health and fitness. That's a simple reason, really, for all that heave-ho we do with that iron. Today, I'm asking you to dive a little deeper into exactly why you lift because...really, though. What is strength? Is it truly nothing more than our muscles' ability to exert force on an object? I believe that's part of it, sure. But true strength goes beyond that. Don't you think?

Pin / Source
Strength is a multifaceted beast, and as such, many of us fail to see the various sides of it. We dead lift and curl (and run!) until there's no tomorrow, constantly pushing ourselves to lift just five more pounds. But what we fail to recognize is the mental strength it takes to do it. While we train our muscles, we're training out minds, too. Do you realize this? It takes discipline, courage and willpower to achieve the milestones we set out for ourselves in the gym.

All that exercise, it makes daily physical activity easier. That's a fact. But the mental challenges we overcome when faced with weights and barbells and repetitions or miles...our will and ability to overcome all that can be directly applied to the mental challenges we face in our jobs, with our families and friends, even while we're out in public just taking on life.

Strength is not just your ability to lift a heavy weight. Strength is the bigger picture. Your ability to create a you that faces life with the power to achieve and believe. Strength is the force output that originates in your muscles and your mind. Because when all of these things join forces and emanate from within, you become the strong force that impacts your own life.

YOU become strength.

Question: What makes you feel strong?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Workout Wednesday: Lower Body Recap

Remember last week's Workout Wednesday? As promised, we'll focus on lower body workouts today! Leg days are, quite possibly, my favorite. I think I've told you this before, but it's really hard for me to challenge mine, so I'm always looking for new and exciting ways to merge these types of exercises. Here are a few that I've shared in the past:

From: Workout Wednesday: Legs with an Emphasis on Calf Muscles
From: Workout Wednesday: Lower Body
From: Leg Day Workout
Question: What's the one lower body exercise that always...always makes you sore?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Guest Post: Twice Baked Quinoa Sweet Potatoes

I should warn you, there's a blog hop going on right now! A few of my fellow I'm Fit Possible ambassadors decided to join forces and, well...share posts! This is a good thing because all of us ambassadors, we share an interest in spreading the good fitness word in a positive and inspirational way. So today, I'm hosting Nikki from Grab Your Kicks. And she, on the flip side, is hosting me! (See how that works?) While I'm on her blog talking all about how running is more than just exercise, she's tempting my taste buds with the following recipe.

The first time I had a sweet potato, it was a couple of years ago at a Thanksgiving feast at my Grandma’s house. Needless to say, my mom and dad were not adventurous with food. My mom did her best, but it was usually meat and russet potatoes for the Peil family. That and a vegetable. Either canned corn or frozen beans.

Now, one of my favorite complex carbohydrates is the sweet potato. I usually have them as a side, but sometimes they’re the main event. Besides being really tasty, sweet potatoes are high in Vitamin A, beta-carotene, Vitamin C and manganese. They help support good eye sight, fuel you for your long runs, and they help control blood sugar levels. I wish I could tell you the recipe below is some type of family secret, but honestly, I made it up this week!

• 3 sweet potatoes
• 1/2 cup quinoa, cooked
• 1/4 cup dried cranberries
• 1/2 tsp cinnamon
• Laughing Cow Cinnamon Cream Cheese wedges

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil and spray with nonstick spray. Bake sweet potatoes for 50 minutes or until tender.

2) Meanwhile, cook quinoa (I use Bob’s Red Mill) on stove in a small pot. Mix 1/2 cup of uncooked quinoa with 1 cup of liquid. You can use water or chicken stock. Set the stove on high. Once quinoa comes to a rolling boil, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes with the lid on. Fluff the quinoa with a fork when done. The liquid should be absorbed by the quinoa. Use only a 1/2 cup of the cooked quinoa. You will have extra.

3) Once sweet potatoes are cooked, scoop out the flesh into a medium size bowl. Mix in the cooked quinoa, dried cranberries and cinnamon. Fill sweet potato shells with the fleshy mixture. Cook for an additional 15 minutes in the oven. Let cool slightly, then spread with cream cheese and dive in!

You could also top the sweet potatoes with walnuts or brown sugar. Use this as a fancy side dish at Easter, or throw it together in your sweat pants. It’s low maintenance and many ingredients are likely on hand.

It’s fun to have variety in meals and break away from the russet potatoes of my childhood. Enjoy. :)

Nikki blogs about running, food, and life at Grab Your Kicks. She is a certified Group Centergy instructor and can be found on various social media sites including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Take flight.

Do you have a page-a-day calendar? Mine...I swear. It's like it knows me. Since January 1, it's been pumping out page after page of beautiful and inspiring quotes. I haven't thrown a single one of them away! If you follow me on Instagram,you've already seen a few of them. And you'll see more, I promise. But first, we need to talk about today's page. It's as if the page-a-day gods had a hand in it. Because, look:

And then, there's this:

Our bags are packed, we're ready to take flight. And this is how I feel about that:

I see you, sunshine and swimming.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Feedly Finds, Vol. 2

Time to recap some of the awesome things I've been reading across the Internet lately. This certainly isn't a complete list, rather, just a few of my favorites. So much awesome content out there! Totally the reason I am WAY BEHIND with my books and magazines. Paper? What's that? Enjoy.

1) Sometimes fitness feels completely out of reach. No matter how hard we try to set up a routine, and even if we do, there's always something that seems to throw it off. Like a new job, a vacation, or even a baby. Greatist outlined 23 ways to get more out of your workout, remember and apply to keep your fitness within reach.

2) I know this is a health-based fitness blog, but let's be honest, to claim a truly balanced, healthy and fit life, you have to leave room for things not necessarily billed as healthy. Like this perfect homemade confetti cake. Seriously drooling over here.

3) As a blogger and professional writer, I am a total grammar freak! I notice things, both in my own writing and in the writing of others. And sometimes these things grate on my brain! So this infographic speaks to me as a personal reminder, and if you write in any capacity, you'll appreciate it, too!

4) When did women first start lifting weights? And what did that look like? This picture will give you a glimpse (and then you'll want to buy the book).

5) If you follow healthy living blogs, fitness blogs, fitness magazines...even your friends...on one or more social media accounts, you know what inadequacy can feel like. Meaning, you've probably compared yourself to these people on one or more occasion and thought, "ugh...why am I not doing that?". Or even, "damn...why don't I look like/eat that, too?". Not healthy, right? But so hard to overcome! Read: How to handle feelings of inadequacy due to social media.

And now, just in case you missed it: Feedly Finds, Vol. 1!

Question: Got a good link to share? Leave it in the comments! I'm always looking for good reads.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bud...or bloom? You decide. (#pinspirationthursday)

According to my calendar, today marks the very first day of Spring. Is there anything more promising, what with the Winter we've had? It actually rained up here in Michigan this week. Rain (not snow)! And for the first time ever, I didn't hate it. In fact, I welcomed it. It smelled so...fresh and new. Like the dawn of Spring, really. But if it turns back into snow, I swear, bad things will happen to all of the snow in my yard. I'm just being honest.

So let's stick with Spring.  Let's talk about the very beginning of this new season and what we can do with it. Which brings me to this week's pinspiration:

Note: I really wish I could find the original source of this image so I can give credit where credit is due. It's beautiful, and I won't ever take credit for it. But alas, my search led me nowhere. 

So. Bud...or bloom? There's no better moment than now to decide. Is there something you've been meaning to accomplish? A professional goal, a race distance, a relationship or lifestyle change? Whatever it is, stop and ask yourself when and where you'll make the jump, move forward and take action. And ask yourself what it will feel like to never, ever do so. What is the risk, great or small, of staying complacent or going for it?

However you answer that, promise me one thing: Don't let fear hold you back. Let it fuel you.

Question: Tell me one thing you want to "bloom" you really want to make happen.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Workout Wednesday: Upper Body Recap

Back in January, I featured an upper body workout and a lower body workout. Since I'm certain that many of you employ this split-style approach to your workouts, I thought I'd take this week and next to revisit some of the upper/lower body workouts I've shared in the past. Here, three you might remember:

From: Workout Week: Upper Body Builder
From: Workout Week: Upper Body Blitz

From: @adailydoseoffit on Instagram
Question: What upper body exercise do you hate the most? Because we all have at least one exercise that we can't get behind.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Want a career in the fitness industry? What you need to know:

When I switched careers, there was a lot that I didn't know about working in the fitness industry. I jumped—without regrets—but I jumped nonetheless and figured it out as I went. I don't know everything there is to know, but I've learned a lot. And now that I'm working as a fitness director responsible for hiring and firing fitness professionals, I get a lot of questions about joining the industry.

So today, I thought I'd list up all the advice I tend to share whenever people ask.

1) Get certified through a nationally recognized organization. 

A lot of people come to this industry with a health or fitness degree—great start, but it's still wise to seek a fitness certification from a nationally recognized organization. This is even more important if you don't have that degree. There are a lot to choose from. How to pick? First, decide if you want to be a personal trainer or group fitness instructor. If you have no interest in working one-on-one, then a group fitness certification would be fine. But if you want to do both, then go the personal training route. In my opinion, it's easier to teach classes with a personal training certification, but much harder to train clients with a group fitness certification.

But seriously, which one? Two ways to answer that question: 1) Pick the one that speaks to you, or 2) Ask the gym you want to work at. They might have specific requirements.

I like ACE, obviously.

2) Get your CPR and AED certification, too.

Most gyms want you to have this when you apply, so be prepared to hand over a copy of your card. American Red Cross is a great place to start for information. Once you're hired, the facility might cover the cost of recertification during the extent of your employment.

3) If you intend to work independently, you'll need some type of malpractice insurance. 

Most clubs will cover you under their policy, but if you choose to work on your own, even if you want this in addition to the work you're doing at your place of employment, you'll need insurance. Your certification should be able to direct you to a good source if they don't give you the option of purchasing it through them.

4) You'll need to be comfortable working within someone else's personal space.

As an instructor, especially as a trainer, there is a lot of hand- on work. If you're not OK with touching semi-strangers to, for example, assist in a stretch and/or spot with a lift, then this industry might not be for you. In addition, you'll need to be comfortable discussing someone else's personal health and well-being. Because trust me, you'll hear it all. And you need to in order to facilitate safe and correct exercise programs in a group or individual setting.

5) You will spend your first year questioning everything you do.

There's a serious learning curve when it comes to being the newbie. It takes awhile to adjust to the pressure of leading a class. If your numbers aren't there, you'll feel like you're failing when you aren't. People will just need time to figure out who you are and how you teach. And then they'll show up. Maybe even religiously. And on the personal trainer side of things, you might doubt everything you put together for your clients. But you'll have to trust in yourself, your knowledge and your abilities. Confidence will come from that, and you'll soon find yourself with trusting clients lining up to work with you.

6) Be prepared to spend money.

In order to maintain your certifications you'll need to complete a set amount of continuing education requirements within the window determined by your certification. It's not cheap, but YOU get to decide what route to take, which is essentially school finally being fun. If you have more than one certification, each will require continuing education credits, but overlap is often allowed so you'll save money there. In addition, some clubs will help you pay for it.

7) The income is there, but it will be yours for the taking.

Income within the fitness industry varies. Is it possible to make a living as a personal trainer and/or group fitness instructor? Sure, but you'll have to work at it and be in the right market. Success might not come overnight, especially if you're starting off as a personal trainer. You'll need to build up a client base from nothing. This is harder if you go it alone in your own studio. Most gyms will run specials on sessions with a newly hired trainer, and some have lists of people who need trainers, so you can often walk into a position with clients ready and willing. If not, be patient. Be yourself. Work hard and you'll make it happen.

8) You'll need to clear a drawer for fitness clothing.

This sounds like a silly little tidbit, especially if you already have a good collection going. But fitness professionals are quite easily addicted to purchasing fitness clothing. Why? Because the stuff is awesome...and because multiple wardrobe changes in one day aren't unheard of

9) If you teach group fitness classes, personal workouts can be hard to manage.

There are two kinds of group fitness instructors: Those that do class with their students and those that don't. Technically speaking, it's not your workout, but it can be much easier for people to follow along if they have someone to watch. Which, obviously, means that you end up working out, too.You'll need to balance correctly and/or give up some of your personal workouts or you'll risk overdoing it.

10) You will have fun.

It's pretty hard to NOT have fun in this industry. Working at a gym is nothing like working in an office. I mean, politics and drama still exist. But it's just...different. More laid back, I guess. And the industry itself is quite fun, too. Think fitness conventions and trade shows, group fitness seminars where you can learn from your peers. It's always growing and changing, this industry. Which means, essentially, that there's never a dull moment.

Question: If you're a fitness professional, what's the one piece of advice you'd give to someone interested in working within the industry?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats with Brown Sugar and Blueberries

For some reason, I've had the hardest time finding a recipe for slow cooker oats. I mean, they're all over the place, but whenever I try them, I either A) don't like the flavor, or B) don't like the consistency. Blah and mush aren't my thing when it comes to breakfast. Especially if breakfast is oatmeal. So this month, I vowed to finally find a recipe that works.

I did one last search for "slow cooker steel cut oats" and landed on something that looked promising. After a few small tweaks, at around 10:00PM on Friday night, I poured all of the ingredients into my slow cooker and hoped for the best.

I woke up to a pot full of awesome around 6:15AM the next morning. Of course, I switched the slow cooker to "warm" and headed back to bed.

Two hours later, I was eating this:

Slow cooker steel cut oats with brown sugar and blueberries. Plus bananas and PB2 with a splash of milk. And, OHMAN, did it taste good! Finally, slow cooker oats that weren't worthy of the garbage disposal! I mean, at least in my opinion.

If you want to develop your own opinion, here's the recipe I ended up using.

Inspired by: Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oatmeal on CHOW

• 8 Cups water
• 2 Cups steel cut oats
• 1/4 Cup brown sugar
• 1/2 t. salt
• 1 t. vanilla
• 1 t. cinnamon

1) Combine all of the ingredients in a slow cooker set to "low." Stir, and let cook for eight hours.
2) If you aren't eating it immediately, turn the slow cooker to "warm" until you are ready to serve.
3) Top with a sprinkle of brown sugar and blueberries...and anything else your heart desires!

I added a splash of milk to mine, some banana slices and a small spoonful of PB2. You seriously can add whatever you want. The base oats are flavored, but not overpowerfully so, so you've got room to add in more flavor. Although, they are quite tasty plain. I would know, I sampled a spoonful or two in the middle of the night when...since I was already getting up to use the bathroom (#pregnancyproblems)...I opted to check on things.

Note: This recipe makes a ton! I ended up putting four small servings in the 'fridge, and freezing four more for later. Reheated, they tasted just as good, but were a bit gummy. Nothing a splash of milk couldn't fix, though.

And now, I can't wait for breakfast.

Question: What's your go-to when it comes to topping a bowl of oats?

Friday, March 14, 2014

How to Find Time for Your Workouts

When I meet with potential clients and/or discuss working out with those who aren't regulars, the most frequent comment I get is "I just don't have the time." To which I always respond: "Oh, yes you do! You just have to find it."

Consider it an investment: Giving up some of your time for workouts is like adding more minutes to your future. Or potentially saving you the money spent on that which insurance might not cover. Because really, you're investing in your health. So it's totally worth it, either way.

Today, we're going to talk about how to find time for your workouts. Because, trust me, you have it.

1) Conclude the importance.
When something is important to you, you automatically make time for it. (Like running to the mall to snag that perfect pair of shoes that are on sale, amiright?) So the sooner you conclude that exercise needs to be a priority, the easier it will be to slide it into your schedule. I mean, you've been telling yourself how important it is for awhile now, anyway. Right? Time to believe it.

2) Embrace your mornings.
I know it seems ludacris to suggest that you give up an hour of sleep, but I really want you to consider doing it. Think about it: If the first thing you need to do is get to the gym or go for a run, there's really nothing stopping you. Save it for after work or just later in the day, well...things always come up, right?

3) Consult your lunch break.
If you work full time, think about using your lunch break for some physical activity. When will you eat? Lunch in the office at 11:00AM while you work, hit the gym at noon! Or vice versa. And, if you use a calendar to schedule your meetings, then it's really easy to block out the time. Only get an hour? 30-minute workouts are your calling, friend!

4) Streamline your schedule.
Sit down with your agenda or calendar and really check out where and how you are spending your time. You might find loopholes where disorganization gets the best of you. Or where you can move and shift to find an hour here and there.

5) Balance the babies.
If you have kids, they can often be the first and foremost reason why you "don't have time" to exercise. So you need to talk to your significant other. If you really, truly want to make workouts a priority, then the two of you need to find a way to create this time for each other. Someone watches the kids while the other hits the gym. Agree to it and don't look back.

6) Write it down.
Make pen and paper your chisel and stone. When you write things down on a grocery list, you buy them. Right? So write your workouts down on a schedule—and do them! Yes, it can be that easy.

Question: What are some of the tricks you employ to make sure you always have time for exercise?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What #ifeverybodyran? (#pinspirationthursday)

When I was in grade school, even high school and college, I had such a defined hatred for running. My throat would burn at the very thought of lacing up. It just wasn't anything I was remotely interested in, and I declared myself a non-runner...forever. Why run if I could walk? And I could walk fast enough.

But then, I ran. Sure, I may have given it a go in college once or twice because that's what all the cool kids did in between classes, but those measly attempts never trumped my declaration of hatred. It wasn't until post-grad, when I was working full time, that something changed: I became a runner.

Why? Because walking was no longer enough. I needed more. And if you can't walk, well...that leaves running (or biking, I guess, but I didn't have a bike). So I sucked it up and started adding in bouts of jogging to my power walks. Jogging turned to running, and power walking went away.

And the rest is history:

I'm a runner. A pregnant runner that can't really run right now, but I'm a runner. I did run a mile yesterday morning (today was a rest day) so that counts. Right? I smile.

But seriously, though. What if everybody ran? That's the question Mizuno is asking right now.

Pin / Source
I learned about this campaign through FitFluential (no, my ambassadorship does not require me to post about this), and I think it's awesome. They did some studies, gathered some statistics and basically concluded that if everybody ran...or if more people ran...then the world would be way better off. For example (according to the Mizuno campaign site):

• 48,081,000 less cigarettes would be smoked...because running produces a 41% decrease in the desire to light up.

• 20 million more great-grandmothers would exist...because the benefits of running can produce more than six extra years of life.

• Our memories would be 20% stronger...because that's how much vigorous exercise can boost recall.

• There would be 37% more smiles...because exercise is proven to reduce anger by 83%.

I mean.

Can you really compete with that? Of course, there are physical reasons why people cannot run, but I imagine that many don't even try because of the perception that running is hard.

And it is, but a good challenge produces the best kind of results. Running isn't always easy, and can often feel wicked bad when you first begin to jog, that feeling never really goes away, but our individual definitions of "wicked bad" change with experience.

And for the record, there are A TON of different runners out there. So even if you run a mile once a week, you're still a runner. If you run a few laps in your bootcamp class on a regular basis, you're a runner.

If you run, you're a runner.

Get out there, friends. Run.
And reap the benefits.

Question: Do you run? If not...why? Have you tried? Given up? Kept going? Love it now? I wanna know!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Postpartum Fitness: What should you expect?

Today is technically "Workout Wednesday," but I'm breaking tradition to send you over to Kate's blog. She just welcomed a beautiful baby girl into this world, and I'm helping her out with a guest post. If you're a new mom or a first-time mom-to-be, you'll be especially interested in the following:

Question: Moms, what surprised you the most when you returned to fitness after your baby was born?

Monday, March 10, 2014

@KodiakCakes #MinuteMuffins: Quick and delicious breakfast in 60 seconds.

A few weeks ago, I contacted Kodiak Cakes to see if they'd be interested in sending over a few samples of their newest breakfast items—muffins that cook in one minute, hence the name. Minute Muffins. I'm a regular user of their pancake and waffle mixes and, having seen a few photos of the aforementioned deliciousness online, figured these newbies were a must-try.

So, so grateful to them for mailing me the following:

I've eaten all but the Mountain Blueberry muffin and, lemme tell ya, they're so good. Even the Apple Cinnamon, a typical flavor, was deliciously different. Each muffin is packed with fiber, protein and whole grains. And all you need is a bit of water and a microwave. In 60 seconds, you'll get a muffin in a cup. Which, if you've ever tried to eat a muffin on the go, is a good thing. And these muffins were certainly made to eat on the go.

Or, you know, at home when you need a healthy breakfast rather quickly...which is pretty typical for me as I'm always running out the door to teach a class or snag a workout. I don't always have time to make breakfast from scratch, so I like to keep some instant (but healthy) options on hand.

Confession: I had a Minute Muffin for lunch today, though.

Because, you know, breakfast isn't just for breakfast. And I was super hungry, so I took the quick route. Minute Muffins for the win.

Lemon Chia for the super win. Holy taste buds, best flavor ever.

Minute Muffins cook up to a light and fluffy, super moist muffin. Exactly like a muffin is supposed to be, really. Filling on its own, sure, but I wanted a little something more for my lunch so I added the side salad. Complete with my favorite lemon-based salad dressing. And a glass of lemonade.

Today's meal sponsored by lemons everywhere. (Unofficially, obviously.)

If you want to try Minute Muffins for yourself, keep an eye out for them wherever Kodak Cakes products are currently sold. I'm almost certain they can be found in select WalMarts, and you can order them from Amazon if you wish. Otherwise, keep up with Kodiak Cakes on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more.

And, before I end this post, a friendly reminder: Eat breakfast! It's really important to start your day off right. Figure out what works for you, but fuel your body from the get-go to experience the most you can from your day. And to set yourself up for a day of healthy, balanced eating. Skip breakfast and you'll set yourself up for overindulging at lunch, right?

Question: Are you a breakfast person? What is your favorite thing to eat?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Baby Bumpdate (and a @GetSkinnyBook review)

According to my BabyBump app, there are 91 days separating me from my due date. My third trimester is just around the corner! I can't believe it...maybe it's the toddler, or maybe it's the added responsibilities at work...either way, things are moving quickly! And since I haven't written any major baby bumpdates (bump + update) lately, I thought I'd take today to answer a few of the questions that keep coming my way:

1) Do you feel like this pregnancy is different than your last?
Aside from being sick with the flu and other upper respiratory illnesses over the holidays, things feel pretty much the same. Minimal discomfort, belly straight out. Manageable weight gain. I expect the low back pain to kick in soon, but we'll see. I started this pregnancy in slightly better health, having just ran two half marathons, so maybe I'm one step ahead in the strength department.

2) Are you having any weird food cravings?
Nope, not necessarily. I just want all the food. All the time. If I do get a craving, salt usually satisfies (unfortunately). I never really had any strange cravings with Hannah, either. I mean, unless you count wine. I miss wine somethin' fierce.

3) Do you know what you're having?
Negative. We didn't know with Hannah, either. I have a closet full of girly clothes, with a small selection of gender neutral onesies. As for the nursery, it's painted a light shade of green and I have two sets of bedding ready to go, one of which will ultimately be returned. Is it hard not knowing? Sure, absolutely. But the only moment clear as day in my head from Hannah's birth was the moment I learned she was a girl. So worth every contraction.

4) Will you get an epidural again?
Yes, probably. I tried really hard to go naturally last time, but my labor lasted forever and the contractions got the best of me. This time around, because I will have two children to care for when all is said and done, I just want to be as relaxed as possible throughout the process. Those of you that have had natural births might not understand this, but for me, it makes sense. And honestly, it's not the birth I'm worried about. It's getting to the hospital and what that means for Hannah since our families aren't necessarily next door to run over in a pinch. I stress just thinking about it!

5) How are the workouts going?
Still workin' out! Still teaching both Spinning and Kettlebells, as well as my early morning strength class (Circuit Sculpt). I've handed over High Intensity because it's a bit too much for me at this point. This week will be a bit of an experiment, as it will be my first Wednesday NOT teaching, so I'll have to figure out a new way to finish it out since I won't be scheduled to teach after Tuesday. I'm thinking cardio + strength + cardio days with two rest days in there somewhere. We'll see how it all shakes out.

Honestly, postpartum workouts have been on my mind more than what I'm doing right now. I am so missing my normal workouts! Burpees, race training...gah! Luckily, I've been stockpiling a few postpartum inspiration items, like the race shirt I got from MyRaceRagz and some of the Puma gear I recently received. Also, this book:

I love it when a blogger becomes a published author! Sarah is a fellow FitFluential, and so graciously offered to send some of us a copy of her book to review. Sarah has a great YouTube channel, and her book carries on that tradition with a collection of workouts that are all part of her "secrets to living a fit life." Her approach is quite similar to mine: She emphasizes a healthy diet and exercise regime, and helps her readers set up a plan to balance the two. Maybe you've never had to figure this out for yourself? This book would be great for you. So easy to follow!

I'll be taking 12 weeks off after Baby is born. This time around, I'll be able to get outside much easier in an effort to lose the baby weight and gain back any strength I've lost. I plan to reference this book quite a bit. Mostly because I'll have so much else to think about! Until then, I'll keep on keepin' on. Which, right now, means it's snack time. Remember: I want all the food.

Question: Are you reading/referencing any good fitness books right now?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Workout Wednesday: 30-Minute Lateral #Elliptical Workout

It's no secret that I am loving the lateral elliptical right now. I'm inching closer and closer to a pregnancy induced break from running, so I've been taking to this awesome piece of cardio equipment on occasion to continue challenging the heart and lungs (and legs) as best I can.

If you don't have a lateral elliptical at your gym, request one. I'm serious. Even if you hate ellipticals, which I kind of do, the odds are very good that you'll love (or love to hate) the lateral. A video:

FYI, this is not a sponsored post.

The thing about cardio and leg tends to be very forward/backward. Translation: We always run or walk forward. We squat or do leg extensions, and everything is perfectly aligned to move in front of or behind us. There's nothing wrong with this, per se, except that life isn't front or back. Life is an all-around thing. We move in every single direction, so we need to start training in every single direction, too. Step on the lateral elliptical and you'll do just that.

I did a 30-minute lateral elliptical workout this morning and it turned my legs into jelly. Is there a better feeling? No, not in my book because I have such a hard time pushing my legs to their limit! I decided to capture the workout for you in this pinnable image, just in case you have a lateral elliptical at your gym.

Remember, what works for me may not work for you. Use the above as a guideline and always be true to your body and your fitness. And, at the very least, consult with your physician if elliptical work is completely new to you.

Back to it: If you're wondering what I mean by "lean back" and "squat," here's a handy cheat sheet that actually appears right on the elliptical. Pretty self-explanatory, m'thinks:

Let me know if you have any questions. And I, of course, have one for you:

Question: What is your LEAST favorite piece of cardio equipment? Why?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Sponsored Post: #PumaFitness Gear

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential, LLC on behalf of PUMA. As always, thoughts and opinions within are my own and in now way reflective of free product or compensation. I tell it like it is, y'all. You know this!

A few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to test out some fitness gear from Puma. I'm still loving my FormLite XT cross trainers, so this was an opportunity that seemed appropriate and worth it. As a fitpro, I geek out over good gear—and, of course, I want you to know about it, too. Especially if it's not worth your time. I'm not one to promote or hide the negative. So you can trust what you read here.

Back to the gear, here's what they sent me:

Totally, diggin' on all the pink and purple. I'll admit to being a girly girl. Names, and a few links to official product information, should you be interested. (These aren't affiliate links, I promise.)

1) Gym ACTV Power 3/4 Tights
2) Bubble XT Tribal Women's Shoes
3) Gym-licious Bra (similar)
4) Gym Loose Tank Top

Now, my opinions. Let's start with the pants.

You should know: I'm a super hard sell when it comes to fitness pants. I wear most of mine in front of a classroom full of people, so I absolutely cannot have them be see through at all. I don't need to give anyone a glimpse of my underwear (or whatever). So when I do find a pair of pants that I'm interested in, I give it the hand test before I even try them on:

If I can see my skin, then I'm out. It doesn't matter how cute they are. That type of embarrassment isn't worth it. As you can see above, you can't really see my skin, but you can see more of the pink. And the interior athletic tape.

Say what? Tape?
Puma integrates athletic tape into the entire ACTV line.

In theory, this helps stimulate active muscles and that, of course, should translate to better performance. Consider it compression technology taken up a notch. Here's my problem: I'm not sure how I feel about the visibility factor of the tape when worn. It's designed to be seen, and you clearly can:

The pink comes through quite a bit, too. I will say, though, that I could not see my underwear from behind...but the tape lines going up my hamstrings and around my glutes were still a bit distracting. So I still haven't worn these bad boys to the gym. Remember: I'm way paranoid about workout pants.

In the end, I think I'm going to file these away for my postpartum return to race training. Because let's be honest, I think I'll appreciate them more at that point anyway. Find a runner who's legs don't get sore on long runs and, well...good luck with that. I'm putting a lot of faith in the ACTV technology to relieve what will surely be tired legs.

Obviously I'm wearing the shoes:

Stylish. Lightweight. Comfy. And totally fun for basic training. I definitely do not like running in them, and I wouldn't advise doing any sort of distance training in them because of the broken sole, but again—for basic training and everyday cardio bursts in between things, totally great. And exactly what they're meant to be used for.

You can't beat a funky and functional shoe, really.

One last thing to share:

So cute. That's the back view of the tank...I'm filing this one away for postpartum fitness motivation, too. I will totally dig the flow and freedom this tank presents when I start logging miles in those hot summer temps. And the bra, I'm just waiting for a bigger size. My usual wouldn't accommodate my continuously growing, know. #pregnancyproblems

Can we all agree this bra will look fantastic under the tank? Until then, I'll wear it as a reminder that more running is definitely (hopefully) in my future.

Question: Are you picky like me when it comes to fitness pants? How do you feel about the Puma ACTV tights above? Is the visible tape acceptable, or totally not? Thoughts? Would you wear them?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Hello, March!

March is off to a cold start up here in Michigan, this point...surprises no one. These days, my fingers are continually crossed for warmer weather. I'm beginning to think it won't ever come. Please tell me it will.

Anyway, new month. New goals, dreams and other things:

1) Complete that "Special Populations" course for my Spinning certification.
2) Develop a recipe for slow-cooker steel cut oats.
3) Create an account on LinkedIn.
4) Celebrate the wedding of a great friend.
5) Complete the IdeaFit photo-a-day challenge.

I'm off to a great start with this one. It's the first true photo-a-day challenge I've chosen to participate in. Reading through all the words, they seemed so doable. So part of my life.

My first two entries: Breakfast and shoes.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram to keep up.

And now, I'm going to lose myself in the Oscars and a giant blanket. And popcorn.

Question: What's on tap for you this month?


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