Sunday, December 29, 2013

I'm back! Let's talk about a plan for a New Year, New You!

Hi All!

2014 is fast approaching. A year ago, I made it a goal of mine to start this blog and it has been fun, although I slacked a little for the 2nd half of the year. I'm ready to do something a little bit different with it this year. I am going to be researching the web high and low to find some great, effective, fun workouts and develop weekly plans out of them. The goal is to provide you each week with a new 5 day challenge. I am going to have them strategically lined out to include 2 cardio, 2 strength and 1 yoga/stretch routine. This is how it will look: Monday-Cardio, Tuesday-Strength, Wednesday-Yoga/Stretch, Thursday-Cardio, Friday-Strength. We are going to Sweat, Burn, Stretch, Sweat and Burn!!! Saturday and Sunday will be for resting, however don't be a couch potato on those days! I will post the whole plan on Sunday, and will be posting each individual workout daily on my face book page... I urge you to "like" my FB page as I will be sharing motivation, recipes, articles, etc there as well.

I am hoping by doing this, it will encourage and motivate and make it easy for you to follow a plan. Some people are intimidated by figuring out what to do on their own, so I want to help and provide this for you. I would love for you to follow my plans, share them with others and keep me posted on your progress, before and after pictures, weight/inches lost and anything you want to share! I am truly excited to be doing this and want you to be excited too!

Which brings me to my next point. Accountability. I know that to work out on your own, even to eat healthy on your own, can be challenging. Only a small amount of us can be so motivated to live a healthy lifestyle, we will do it no matter what those around us are doing. However the majority of us need a boost in motivation. I believe accountability is one of the most helpful tools to be successful for yourself. If you know that there are people doing a challenge along with you, who are counting on you to motivate them, who are wanting to share with you in the experience, you will be highly motivated to complete your goals. So by participating in this challenge, I want you to feel accountable to me. And to others who are also participating. I want you to check in here on the blog or on my face book page...each day if you have let us know you completed your workout! And if you made healthy food choices that day! Or whatever you want to share! I want this to be a community where you can feel comfortable, accountable and successful! If you feel like skipping out or giving up, remember that I will be a smidge disappointed, because I have worked hard to develop these plans! I have watched every second of these workouts, to make sure they will be the best I can find! You don't want to let me down, now do you? ;) get geared up because I have put together an awesome plan starting Monday January 6th! I can't wait to share it with you! You are going to love it!!

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Guest Post-Personal Story

As a way to restart my blogging, I thought you all might like to hear from someone other than me about their personal health and fitness journey for meet my little bro, Kyle. Yes, he is the one who did Insanity about a year ago...sooooo what's happened since? Here he tells us....

"Insanity: Been there... Done that... Got the T-Shirt (Literally, there's a picture on my facebook!)

As all of you have probably read the blog about me having major success doing Insantiy, it was true. If you didn't read it, here's a quick recap: At the beginning of this year, I weighed the most I ever had in my life at 242lbs and decided to join a 90 day weight loss competition. For the first 60 days I stuck to the Insanity program pretty hard core, not missing a day, and lost 30lbs. Then, I used the Insanity dvds to lose another 10lbs for the final 30 days.

Before I talk about the workout habits, I'll start by saying I changed the way I ate. I got rid of drinking soda and alcohol for the duration of the contest. I never missed a meal and always stayed full. I cut out the carbs while cutting back on the sugars and sodium as well. Chicken was my best friend.

Insanity was great, especially for a guy like me who had never worked out before. But for those of you who are looking to get in shape, I'm here to tell you there are other options. Let me go on record now and say that I'm not knocking Insanity, that it is a great program and you really are guaranteed results. By doing Insanity, I learned how my body reacts to certain workouts and what workouts were best for me. But let me explain why I have since changed my mind on how great the program is. For the first month, you are working out 45 minutes, six days a week. Doesn't sound too terribly bad, but it gets worse. The second month, you're working out from one hour to one and a half hours for six days a week. All the workouts are very high intensity work outs that work out every muscle in your body (which is a very good thing). But why are you guaranteed the results? Because you're simply just being active. And with this program, you're being extremely active. Insanity was a great start, but, in my opinion, it's not realistic to continue unless you don't work and get bored during the day. And if you're anything like me, you're a busy person who can't dedicate that much time in working out.

So what happened after I lost the 40lbs? Nothing good. I stopped working out because I was tired of the routine. I stopped eating healthy because I deprived myself of all the good unhealthy foods for 90 days. Then, seven months went by and the weight started coming back. I gained back 27lbs before I decided to start a healthy lifestyle again. Let me explain a little bit further on why I stopped.

I knew the weight was coming back, I wasn't blind. I could start to feel uncomfortable again but I was scared. I was scared that in order to get back on the right path I would have to work out for an hour every day, 6 days a week (even though my sister told me that you don't have to). Day after day, I would tell myself, "Well, I will start next week" but never did.

Finally, three weeks ago, I got a group of friends together to all participate in another competition. This time, I'm taking a new approach. As you've probably heard my sister say before, never ever tell yourself you're going on a diet. Diet's will not last, you have to commit to a change in lifestyle. This time, I'm trying to find a realistic lifestyle to start living. My sister told me about a website, that has page after page of free workout videos. They literally have so many different types of workouts, I dare you to visit the site and tell me you can't find some that works for you. They rate their videos 1-5 (1 being easy, 5 being most difficult) and have lengths from 5 minutes to over an hour. This year, I spoiled myself and bought a smart TV and found out I can watch these videos on the TV. Therefore, I can again work out in the comfort of my own home and not embarrass myself at a gym.

These past three weeks, I've lost 8 lbs. I've targeted the videos on FitnessBlender where the difficulty is three or four and 15-20 minutes long. I work out about 4 -5 days a week and have gone back to my healthy eating habits. I did get discouraged last weekend when I ate pretty bad and thought I ruined a week of weight loss, but I learned that by going back to eating right and continuing to work out, your body gets rid of the bad stuff really quickly.

So at the end of the day, I'm here to say, just stay the course. Don't think you have to work out with the extreme of programs like Insanity or P90x, just start small and get active. Let yourself have your cheat meals and not worry about it. As long as you continue to work out, you'll be just fine."

And there you have it! If that's not inspiration that you can do it, I don't know what is. It is easier than you think and so within your reach. Keep it simple, stupid...right ;) clean, fresh, healthy and exercise realistically and smart. You make the decision to pull the trigger, I can give you ammo!!

Hope you enjoyed hearing his story and feel inspired to begin your own! :)

Until next time,
Stay Active!


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Cellulite + Chicken and Squash Recipe

Happy Labor Day Weekend.

I have been thinking about something to write about in my blog and I decided to discuss cellulite. If you are a women and reading this, you probably are cringing because we all hate cellulite and we want to know, why do have it and what can we do about it?!?!

I wish I could say I have found a quick fix to this problem, but unfortunately it doesn't exist. As a woman, we have 3 layers of fat, or adipose tissue. We tend to carry the majority of this in our lower body. There is connective tissue that connects our skin to our muscle by fibrous cords. The adipose tissue cells accumulate between these tight cords and poke through the collagen causing a dimpling, puckered look.

There are certain factors that contribute to the worsening the appearance of existing cellulite. Hormones, such as estrogen, weaken the collagen in our connective tissue causing more dimpling. Weight gain also contributes due to too many fat cells trying to be contained between our muscle and skin. Stress, genetics, fad dieting and lack of physical activity also are culprits to the problem.

Cellulite is not a medical condition. Many of us have cellulite and it doesn't exactly mean you are unhealthy or not fit. I have had cellulite since I was a teenager on my thighs. Even when I weighed 105 lbs and ran almost everyday, I had cellulite. I have cellulite now, even though I am the most physically fit and toned than I have ever been. It is a fact that I have had to learn to accept.

I researched a few different types of "treatments" that I wanted to share. First are over the counter creams. There are no studies that show these work and most people do not see any effects. Also some of the ingredients can cause skin rashes. I have tried some myself and have not found any to work. Another treatment is laser. These can work temporarily, but take multiple treatments and are expensive. They tend to last only about 6 months. Then there is liposuction. I used to joke and say I was going to do this. But in reality, it can change the shape of your body, but doesn't take cellulite away. It can actually make it worse. Think of it this way, if you had a barn full of cows and took the cows out, the barn might look nicer, but the barn is still there. All you have to do is open the door, and back comes the cows. That's liposuction. It's very easy for those fat cells to accumulate back into the existing open spaces.

What really works? Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight by eating clean and exercising. Increase your muscle tone. This helps to decrease the appearance of cellulite. Stay hydrated. I know you are thinking, really Mandi? That's the same thing you preach over and over again. But it's true, everything boils down to altering your everyday lifestyle habits to healthy, fresh, clean choices and physical activity!

Here is a recipe I have been wanting to share with you because it is delicious!
Chicken and Squash Bake:
(You could use zucchini instead of squash and olive oil or coconut oil instead of butter)

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, each cut into about 4 strips (about 1 1/4-1 1/2 lbs)
Garlic salt (or garlic powder to decrease sodium)
Lemon Pepper
10 cups yellow squash, washed, sliced 1/4 inch thick (cut large slices in half)
6 ounces fresh spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tbs of butter (or oil)
4 ounces sliced Muenster cheese (or any cheese you would like)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 9x13 baking dish and place chicken inside. Sprinkle with garlic salt or powder and lemon pepper, turn chicken and repeat. Cover with foil and bake for 60 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked. After about 30 minutes of baking, heat 2 tbs butter or oil in a large stock pot. Sauté squash until tender. Add remaining tbs of butter or oil to pot. Add spinach leaves. Cook and stir just until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and toss with a pinch of salt if desired. Take the dish of chicken from oven, uncover and spoon the squash mixture over the chicken. Place slices of cheese on top, enough to make a thin layer over the vegetables.

If you prefer to Grill ( I prefer it this way rather than baking as above):
This is much faster! Sauté veggies, grill the chicken and assemble in the greased baking as above. Broil in the oven just until cheese is melted and top is browned.

I hope you have a great rest of your Labor Day weekend.
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 Challenge yourself!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Benefits of Eating boring old Celery + Recipes+ Yoga video

To celebrate the last day of my 20's I am going to write about celery. Pretty dang boring. However....celery has a ton of health benefits that may surprise you. And I have two celery containing recipes to share.

Before I go into the list of benefits, I have to share with you my celery story. I will admit, I am NOT a huge fan of eating celery straight up. When I was 5 years old and in kindergarten, we had to take turns bringing snacks. So when my turn came to bring snacks, my mom packed me up with a big container of cut celery stalks with peanut butter. Sounds great right? Well not for me. I hated it! And to this day still do. If you like celery, having with some natural peanut butter is a really great nutritious snack. I just can't do it. But because of all these nice things below, I really should eat more celery!

Anyways....back to the good stuff. It is 95% water and contains a lot of natural fiber. This is great for your digestive tract. Celery also acts as an anti-inflammatory, especially in your GI tract, so for me that is a great benefit.  It contains a lot of vitamins and antioxidants such as Vitamin A, K, C, potassium, calcium, folate and magnesium, which help boost your immune system. The tops of the stalk have about 5 times magnesium and calcium than the stalks so it is good to chop those up and put them in your salads. Celery is natural diuretic, meaning it helps your body's fluid balance by flushing out excess fluid and uric acid. This is good because it naturally balances your sodium and potassium levels. This also helps with urinary tract infections, kidney and bladder infections (not meaning this is a cure, it just may aid in prevention). And this fluid and electrolyte balance is great when you are working out. The high level of calcium in celery helps to calm the central nervous system which can help with anxiety and stress. Cardiovascular health is improved because it contains something called phthalides, that relax the lining of the arteries and may help with blood pressure and cholesterol. It also is just an overall great food because a half a cup of chopped celery only has 8 calories. So if you are trying to loose weight, it's a great snack.

So there you have it. Who knew there were so many fun facts about celery?! :)

I have two recipes to share that contain celery and you must try these because I have made both in the last week and they are superb!

Chicken Salad: (click on the link to find recipe)
 I boiled my chicken breasts then cut them up into small pieces. And I used 1 cup of mayo with olive oil.

Moroccan Vegetable Curry:
1 onion, diced
1 zucchini, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1 qrt Vegetable broth
1 can lite coconut milk (found in Asian isle at the store)
2 tbs curry powder
4-5 packets of stevia sweetener

In a large stock pot, brown onions in a little olive oil. Add broth, coconut milk, stevia and veggies to pot. Add curry and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Cook 15-20 min until celery and carrots are tender. If you would like it thicker, dissolve 1/2 cup of corn starch in 1/2 cup of water and add to the pot. You can serve it over brown rice or cous cous or you could eat it alone. We also will add shrimp to this for a protein.

I hope you try those as they are very good recipes. The curry makes your kitchen smell amazing!

Here is a yoga routine I did today that I really liked:

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

What the heck is Gluten and why do I keep complaining about it? Plus a yummy Pesto recipe.

What a beautiful morning it is sitting on my brand new patio set listening to the birds chirping. In brain storming some new topics to write about, I thought I would write about gluten. Those who know me personally, probably get so sick and tired of me whining about my gluten related GI issues and probably wonder, what the heck is she even talking about?!

No it's not a new hippy dippy diet bandwagon I wanted to jump on. It really and truly is an actual health issue that dictates what I can and can't eat. Here is a little history about me and my weeny stomach issues. When I was 20 years old, I began noticing that whenever I would eat, I would feel like I had a brick in my stomach, nauseous and usually would end up with diarrhea. I eventually went to the Dr. and was told I had IBS, which made sense to me, and was given an anti spasmodic medication. This did help with the cramping, but obviously not the symptoms. So fast forward about 7 or 8 years. I go back to the Dr. with the same continued issues, only now they are way worse. I was advised to have a colonoscopy which,  a year later I ended up doing. It basically was normal and I was again told I had IBS and again given the same kind of medication. It was about 2 months later my mother read an article in a women's health magazine about gluten and brought it to my attention. I read up on it and did my own experiment eliminating all gluten from my diet for a week. Then on a Friday night, Brian and I had a gluten containing dinner and I was right back in pain, bloating, nausea and diarrhea. And such is my life currently.

Gluten is a protein composite that is in wheat, and grass related grains such as barley and rye. It is found in anything that is made with flour. It is also used in soy and many sauces, ketchup, BBQ sauce, etc as a stabilizing agent. It is used in many medications and vitamins as a binding agent. The gluten protein is what makes things stick together and hold. It give elasticity to dough to allow it to bind. About 15% of the current population is thought to have some sort of gluten sensitivity or allergy.

Gluten causes inflammation in the small intestines. The symptoms are abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, muscular, bone and joint pain, headaches, vertigo, depression, anxiety, exhaustion and poor dental health. Obviously if you have a true allergy to it you can have rashes, itching, hives and anaphylaxis. These are the people with celiac disease which goes way beyond just the sensitivity.

A gluten free diet basically consists of eating fresh, clean food. (you have never heard me enforce that, right ;)....). It's fruits, veggies, lean protein, beans, rice and most dairy.  There are many products these days that are gluten free such as bread, pasta, tortillas, cookies, etc. But be careful, just because it says "gluten free" doesn't mean it's healthy. If normally you don't eat cookies in your healthy diet, don't start just because they are gluten free. But it is nice to have options. I have tried many pastas, breads, pizzas and really they are tasty to me. The biggest thing is to avoid anything made with wheat, flour, barley and rye. This is why you can't drink regular beer. Any anything that is breaded will have flour in it. Basically if in doubt, I don't eat it. The biggest concern with a gluten free diet is that you may not get enough fiber and vitamins such as zinc, vitamin B, iron and complex carbs. This is because many wheat products are enriched with these. But I do use a gluten free fiber supplement most of the time and I take a B vitamin and multivitamin.

Now I am not perfect by any means, and again, those who know me sure know when I have slipped because it really is uncomfortable and I end up in the bathroom with regrets. The best way to describe how I feel when I have loaded up on gluten is like I have a hangover. I am very fatigued, have a headache and major stomach issues.

I hope this has helped increase your knowledge on the new and growing issue.

The recipe I want to share is one I found in the paper a few weeks ago. As I grow basil and mint in my garden, this was perfect!

Basil Mint Pesto:
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup toasted walnuts (sounds weird, but it's good!...spread on baking sheet at 350 degrees for 5-7 min)
2 cloves of garlic, cut in half
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 pepper
2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

Place mint, basil, nuts, garlic, salt and pepper in food processor. Pulse to finely chop. While running the processor, add oil in a steady stream. Process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in cheese.

As I have a ton of basil and mint, I plan to make a lot of this and freeze it in ice cube trays. Then transfer to individual freezer bags to have for this winter. It's great with chicken.

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Sunscreen: The How's and Why's

Good Saturday morning. I first want to say that, the reason why I have had a "hiatus" from the blog, is because this spring and summer have been EXTREMELY busy. And since I have a desk job working at a computer all day, I found it hard to come home and get right back on the computer. But, things are slowing down a tad and I enjoy sharing my random health thoughts, so I want to get back to by blogging.

I wanted to talk about sunscreen since we are in the middle of summer and it is getting hot outside. I personally have been a huge sunscreen advocate most of my adult life, because let's face it. I don't want to be leathery and wrinkle up by the time I'm 40 and look like I'm 80. Don't get me wrong, I love being out doors, basking in the warmth of the sun, camping, gardening, walking the dog, etc. But, the many years as a teenager I slathered tanning oil on and baked myself for hours, is starting to show. Lot's of freckles on my body and brown spots on my face. What do we always say, if I knew then what I know now? But yeah right, you can't talk a teenage girl out of cooking her skin!!

I did some research and read that only 1 sunburn resulting in blisters as a child increases your risk of skin cancer, especially melanoma,  as an adult by 50%.  And most of us have probably had way more than 1 bad sunburn. This is why I feel sunscreen is so important. Properly wearing sunscreen will help prevent risk for skin cancer, pre-aging of skin, wrinkles, brown spots and dilated blood vessels just to name a few things.I don't know about you, but I definitely do not want to encourage all that.

So what do you look for when buying sunscreen? Well as of December last year, the FDA has started regulating the labels on sunscreen so you can feel better about what you are buying. It has been shown that an SPF of 15 or higher is adequate. If you plan to be in the sun for many hours, do at least 30. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, SPF 15 blocks out 93% of UV rays, 30 blocks out 97% and 50 blocks out 98%. So even 100 SPF will not block out UV entirely. The takeaway is, you don't really need the SPF higher than 50, BUT you will most likely see me with a bottle of 70 SPF, because...well, I like to be overkill. But totally not necessary.

You want the label to say "broad spectrum" for this will block UVA and UVB rays. UVB are the rays that give us the red sunburn. But the UVA rays silently and invisibly cause damage.They penetrate deep into the skin and that's where we get the wrinkled, leathery skin. UVA causes cell damage to our epidermis which is where skin cancer is mostly found. So you don't need to burn to be at risk.

Use a generous amount and apply 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. Reapply after 2 hours, no matter what SPF you are wearing. Also reapply after getting wet, sweating and/or toweling off. The highest sun exposure hours of the day are between 10-4 so be sure to wear sun screen during those hours. Also when it's cloudy outside, as 40% of UV rays make it to the earth, even when cloudy.

Now what about those people who say sunscreen is poison for our body and we shouldn't wear it? Well from what I can find, it is thought that the chemicals in sunscreen are absorbed into our skin, to our blood stream and liver. It is thought it can cause other diseases, cancers and hormone imbalances (although I could not find which ones). While, I do think this may be true, I read that it is a very slow absorption and I personally fear skin cancer a lot more. (I am a nurse, I have seen some very devastating cases.) But, to meet in the middle find a broad spectrum sun screen with zinc or titanium oxide as those are more natural ingredients and they sit on the surface of your skin and don't absorb deep into your skin therefore it doesn't make it to your blood stream.

Oh and be sure to use a sunscreen on your face and neck. I personally use a daily moisturizer, Cereve (you can get at any drugstore) that contains SPF 30 as well as my makeup has SPF in it. You want to have youthful skin for as long as possible and this will help!

I think that's it. Sorry for the long blog, but I had lots of info to share. Now go have fun in the sun, just protect your precious skin! :)

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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Recipe of the Week: BBQ Kabobs and Potatoes

This week I wanted something tropical on the grill. And I am loving fresh pineapple right now. This may not be the most healthy recipe I have shared, but it really isn't too bad.

Sweet BBQ Chicken Kabobs from

Grilled Red Potatoes from

And since I had frozen orange juice left, I decided to make an old school Orange Julius to use it up.
Orange Julius : I did use Splenda instead of sugar.

I hope you enjoy this will all the fresh ingredients! I found it quite pleasing, and the Orange Julius really took me back to being a kid!

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Pepperoni Pizza

Long time no blog, I know, I has been hectic! We also have been eating very simple, so I haven't had any new recipes to share for a while. But I have something to share today!

Today Brian found a semi-healthy pizza recipe. We thought it would be fun to make it on the pizza stone on the grill. I made mine with gluten free crust and we jazzed up the sauce with Italian seasoning. We also used no sodium tomato sauce in the recipe. I used turkey pepperoni as well (this saves quite a bit of fat and calories). It is a nice summer spin on pizza.

EatingWell's Pepperoni Pizza

I hope you try it and enjoy it! You can put your regular pizza dough straight on your grates too if you don't have a pizza stone or cook it in the oven.

Have a great Sunday evening.

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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Happy Cinco de Mayo Recipes


Okay, no I don't speak Spanish, but I did just get back from a week in Cancun, which is why I have not posted anything as of recent. I wanted to share some of the recipes we are making today since we are in the Mexican Spirit.

Carne Asada Tacos:
This is from the website, and let me tell you the marinade tastes and smells amazing. I can't wait to have these with some fresh salsa and guacamole served on corn tortillas.

Easy Mexican Rice
I was searching for something easy and somewhat authentic. I prefer not to have store bought salsa mixed with rice so this recipe is perfect. I did buy no salt added tomato sauce and low sodium chicken broth to decrease the salt.

We are also making a Shrimp Ceviche. I am going to share a recipe I found that is very similar to what we are making :
The one we are making we learned to make at the resort we stayed at, and it simply was shrimp cooked for about 3 minutes in a little lime juice, then add diced tomatoes, white onion, cilantro, salt, pepper, garlic, a little olive oil and a little diced Serrano pepper. I don't have the exact measurements, so we are just going to wing it, but if you want something with exact measurements, click on the above link. It is very similar. This is basically a cold, spicy, seafood soup.

Brian is going to pair this with some Mexican wine, and as I unfortunately can not find Mexican Wine, I found a nice bottle of Spanish wine to go with it.

I hope you are enjoying some good food today. This week I plan to talk about some homemade skin brightening regimens, as I have developed some major sunspots on my face (despite a hat and sunscreen). I have got to get rid of these so I have some natural remedies to share.

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Recipe of the Week: BBQ Gouda Stuffed Burgers

Well I missed last week's recipe, so I do apologize....

It's becoming grilling season and Brian and I love a good stuffed burger. It's a great way to wake up your burger to keep it interesting. Brian found a nice page today with 5 stuffed burger recipes. We are trying the BBQ Gouda one.

Here is the link:

It includes : Chicken Curry, Steak and Swiss, Bacon Cheddar, Wild Mushroom and Blue cheese and BBQ Gouda.

Of course, we are using ground turkey. But mix it up the way you want and have fun with it. We are making the Green Beans and Red Onions salad that I have shared before and corn on the cob to go with it.

Have fun with your burgers, stuff them with fresh veggies, different cheeses, whatever you want!!! It can be fun and your burger will taste gourmet. Happy grilling!! :)

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Love this quote:

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Pep Talk

Good Morning...
As I am sitting here early on this Saturday drinking caramel cappuccino (thanks to my hyvee K-cup) curled up with my pup, I wanted to give a pep talk. As spring has hit, life has been really busy and I have not had as much time to commit to my blog as I would like, but that is life right? We don't always have the time to do the things we want, need or like to do. And that is OK. But just as important as it is to live all the business aspects of our lives, work, taking care of our homes, paying bills, etc, we do need to stop and smell the roses from time to time. I always say, I don't want to be so busy not having any fun, that I look back on life and regret not slowing down. (especially as I am turning 30 this year. Yikes! lol) And slowing down is a huge part of being healthy. I recently had someone seek out my "expertise",if you will, on a diet and exercise plan for this person has decided to make changes to be healthier and happier. And as this is my biggest passion, I wanted to share a bit of the advice and pep talk I gave. First, I want to eliminate the word "diet" from your brain. We aren't doing weight watchers, slim 4 life, special K, whatever. We are recreating your everyday lifestyle habits to be healthy ones. This will be part of your everyday life, not a temporary fix. This can be so easy, but I suggest to take one step at at time. In my plan for this friend of mine, I suggested to convert breakfast for one week. Then the next week add in lunch and then the third and fourth week add in dinner. The purpose of this is to make SMALL goals that are easily achievable. This will help prevent setting yourself up for failure. I think sometimes the hardest part of striving for health, is changing everything at once and getting overwhelmed and quitting. This way, at the end of the first week, if you have ate a healthy breakfast everyday, you can feel good about it and want to keep going! I.E. Goal met and moving on to the next one. You have to change your eating habits in order for exercise to work. Once your eating habits are up to par, then add in exercise in small doses. Working on building  up your endurance first, such as walking, jogging, elliptical, etc. Do not start with some wild DVD or program or class that your endurance can't handle and that you will get overwhelmed with. Again, taking baby steps. Eventually this slow pace will pay off and you can add in more complex exercises and strength training and do HIIT workouts like myself and tolerate it.

Leading a healthy lifestyle is so important, but I know if you aren't there, it can be scary and not seem worth it. You may think it's too hard, too expensive, too much energy, but I know people who have no energy, no money, no resources who have changed their lives successfully. It will soon become your life and you won't even have to think about it. And know that you will have a bad day. But it didn't take only one day for you to become unhealthy so it won't be a big deal to have a bad day here and there. Find motivation to keep you going! Ask for help. I bet you would be surprised at how much support you have in your life if you just look around and ask people.

In this world, it is easy and more convenient to get discouraged and throw in the towel. I urge you to not do this. As a nurse, I have personally seen the effects of poor health and trust me, while you may be ok now, 10, 20, 30 years from now you won't. Make this a priority. And not only focus on your physical health, but also your mental health. Our lives are stressful, and stress can be so negative for you. Do yoga, meditate, get massages, read a good book, take bubble baths with lavender, whatever you have to do to decrease that anxiety.

I know I seem like I am just blabbering on, I just wanted you to know how serious I feel about you changing your life and I can help if you don't know where to start. I have all sorts of tips, tricks, resources, and if I don't, I will find it! Just don't give up. There is no time like the present!!

 So the sun is out, make today a great day, get outside and take the dog for a walk, plant some flowers, go to the park, just get some fresh air.....and Stay Active!!! ;)


p.s. Like and share my new FB page!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Recipe of the week: Springtime Spaghetti

I received this recipe in my email from and gave it a try yesterday. As I am not huge on eating pasta very frequently, I do think this is a good option when you are wanting some. Especially for spring and summer. It has a very unique, fresh spin on spaghetti. It does go great as a side dish for BBQ. We actually grilled some fish and ate it with that. It was great! (If you don't know how to julienne the veggies, youtube it!)

Springtime Spaghetti
How I "mandi-tized" this: I used gluten free spaghetti. Another good option would be whole wheat spaghetti rather than the normal style. Instead of heavy cream, use FAT FREE half and half. This came out perfectly and it was very good.

I hope you had a great weekend. :)

Stay Active,

Words to live by :)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Coconut Oil

You may have been hearing or seeing recent trends of coconut oil as the new "super food". I wanted to give a little overview of some of the proclaimed health benefits to it and different uses.  It all sounds worth a try to me!

Coconut oil has been used in ancient medicine and continues to be used that way in some cultures. However, there are all sorts of things you can do with it that you may see benefits from.

Coconut oil is thought to stimulate and recharge your thyroid gland. For me this is appealing as I have a family history of hypothyroidism (not getting enough of thyroid hormone). I tend to exhibit a lot of the same signs and symptoms such as fatigue, temperature intolerance and anxiety. But my levels always come out "normal". So I may just give this a shot.

It also can help increase your HDL (good cholesterol) and lower your overall total cholesterol. This is a good thing.

The fat in coconut oil is considered a medium chained fatty acid, meaning it does not circulate through your bloodstream, rather it is delivered straight to your liver and converted to energy. This can actually help with weight loss.

You can cook with it in place of other oils or butter. It has a higher smoke point, so it can be safer to cook with as well. The tropical cultures that use coconut in their foods and cooking are rarely overweight.

It is a great moisturizing effect. You can rub it into your skin and is quickly absorbed not leaving a greasy film. It is thought to help with wrinkles.  It is also great for your hair. I have actually been using it on my hair and I do see a difference. What I do is section my hair and rub a little oil at my roots. Then I use my fingers to distribute it to my ends. I let it sit for about 30 min or so (as long as you can) then I wash and condition as usual. It leaves my hair soft, shiny and decreases frizz and the appearance of split ends. I don't notice my hair oily or smelling like coconut. It also works great to shave with and as a massage oil. The scent is also helps decrease stress and anxiety.

Coconut oil is thought to boost immunity as it has antibacterial, anti viral and anti fungal properties. It also contains antioxidants.

It can  help regulate blood sugar and insulin response and decrease the stress on your pancreas.

These are the biggest uses for it that I could find. I think it is a very versatile, natural option to help a lot of things we struggle with. It certainly isn't the miracle answer, but I feel everything is worth trying out.

Until next time...
Stay Active!


Monday, April 1, 2013

What's in my lunch box?

I thought I would take the time to share a picture of what I am packing in my lunch box today. I often get asked exactly what is it that I eat throughout the day and what better way to share than with a pretty picture!
So what I have is half an avocado, a couple slices of deli chicken lunch meat, about 9 baby carrots, 2 tbs of garlic hummus, a small cluster of grapes, an orange and strawberry greek yogurt. I will most likely have the yogurt for a mid morning snack, eat the grapes, avocado and chicken for lunch and save the carrots, hummus and orange to eat throughout the afternoon. So what I have is a day packed with a lot of great nutrients, protein, good fat and fiber. I will stay full and satisfied with healthy nutritious foods. Sometimes I think it is easier to see a picture rather than just read about something. This is so easy to through together as everything is already prepared since it is all mostly fresh!! I am all about ease and this works perfectly for me. Maybe it will inspire you in your lunch packing process! ;)


Have a great Monday (I know, the words "great" and "Monday" really don't go well together, but try!).

Stay Active
This is what it's ALL about;)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Recipe of the Week-Hot and Sweet Chicken and Peppers

Happy Easter!
I hope you all had a great weekend. I did myself. My Easter plans ended up allowing me to not have to cook, however I did find an old recipe that I really like that I wanted to share with you.

Hot and Sweet Chicken and Peppers
How I "mandi-tized" this: I use chicken breasts. Of course gluten free flour and low sodium chicken broth. Leave the bread out. Instead serve with nice salad and a veggie. You could serve over brown rice if you preferred.

This can be a bit spicy, but it has a really interesting flavor. I hope you give it a try.

My next topic is going to be discussing health benefits of Coconut oil as I have recently come across this. So I will talk to you soon. I hope with the weather turning somewhat nice and the longer day light you are getting out and about and getting some exercise!

Talk to you soon....
Stay Active

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Low Sodium Cooking Website

This is just a quick blurb, but as you know I am big for following a low sodium diet, I found this website this week when helping a co-worker try to find a low sodium potato dish to make for her father who has Heart Failure for Easter. We found three recipes on this site that looked great!

After doing a Google search, I found:

It has a ton of recipes, tips on following low sodium diet, newletters, and a blog. It is a great source for low sodium cooking. The recipes look great!

Check it out :)

Stay Active


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Healthy Snack Ideas


I do realize it has been a week since I posted, and I failed to post a recipe last Sunday. I was out of town so I didn't get to cook anything Sunday...but I will have something this weekend!

I did want to share some ideas for healthy snacking that I have found. Snacking is an easy way to over consume unnecessary calories, so you want to be sure you are snacking smartly. The biggest thing is to stay away from junk. Get rid of the chips, cookies, crackers, candy, etc for these are just empty calories that pile on the pounds. You want to focus more on fruit, vegetables, fiber, protein. You can get really creative in your snacks and keep it interesting if you know the right things to try.

I found a really great list of some non-boring (is that a word??) snacks that I really love from WebMD. I think this list is great, because it has some unique ideas that are super easy!!!

25 Super Snacks With 100 Calories or Less

I also came across a nice list in my Good Housekeeping Magazine:

Some of my favorite easy go to snacks are generally veggies with 2 tbs of hummus, a handful of grapes and clementines.  I always keep a bag of almonds at my desk. So experiment with some healthy things rather than the junk food. You can also do a google search for more ideas.

Have fun snacking!
Stay Active

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tabata Workout: What is it?

As you know I am a huge fan of shorter, high intensity interval training routines, rather than droning on and on a the gym on a treadmill, doing some sort of work out for an hour, etc. And I am a huge fan because I have had amazing results. I am talking my whole body shape has changed. I am wearing smaller sizes than I have in a very long time due to my increased muscle tone. I am honestly almost to my high school figure.  (I have already explained HIIT workouts in another blog post so check that out!)

There is a variation of HIIT exercises called Tabata. "Tabata" was created in Japan for training Olympians. The routine consists of doing one exercise for 20 seconds, resting for 10 and repeating this 8 times for a total of 4 minutes. Now I know that this sounds easy and really, who can get a good exercise benefit in 4 minutes...but it's true. Four minutes of Tabata actually has more benefits than 60 minutes of moderate exercise on a treadmill.Your resting metabolic rate increases greatly. Meaning you will burn more calories at rest between the first 24-48 hours than you will with 60 minutes of the treadmill. Now you of course can do multiple 4 minute rounds to include different exercises for different parts of your body. What I like about this is you can create your own routine. Say you want to do push ups, jump squats and reverse crunches. Do a four minute round of each exercise and you have a 12 minute almost full body work out in which you are burning massive calories. It is recommended to rest for a full minute between each 4 minute round to help lesson fatigue. The benefits to Tabata is that it increases aerobic and anaerobic rate, increases your endurance, creates leaner muscle tone, and increases your body fat loss percentage much more than what you can get from moderate cardio. It is important to keep in mind that this exercise style does push you to the point of exhaustion so it is not advised to do it everyday, but adding it in a few times per week will add great benefit to your physical health. They can also be very monotonous to do so you have to have will power to finish.

I found a great website that explains Tabata in much more depth:

You can research for Tabata exercises on google and youtube and you will find all sorts of things. Or get creative and create your own! I challenge you to give this a try, especially if you are in a rut or plateau. This is a sure way to push your body and see changes.

Have a great night!
Stay Active

Apparently a Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, and a Warrior Dash.. oh and publicly announcing that by the end of 2013, I'll be able to do at least 10 pull ups.. Lord help me!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Irish food!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I do have some Irish blood in me thanks to my mother's side of the family. Plus today is my Grandmother's Birthday (happy birthday grandma!!), so I thought it would be fun to make some Irish themed food for today. After much searching, I found three great recipes:

Beef and Guinness Stew
How I "mandi-tized" it:
I of course used low sodium beef broth. And you can always add in some flour (gluten free in my      case) or corn starch to thicken it up, as the recipe calls for "thick beef stock". And I didn't use parsnips. I just am not a big fan of parsnips. You could use potatoes in place, however I am making mashed potatoes to go along with it so I just left them out.

Red Potato Colcannon
This is an Irish style mashed potato. It is traditionally made with bacon and regular potatoes, but this is a healthier version that leaves out the bacon and uses red potatoes with the skins to give you more of a nutritional value.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
I grew up eating cabbage rolls that my Grandma made. So in a tribute to her, I found a recipe that is also a healthier version. I used just one pound of ground turkey because I had it on hand, however I am sure the ground turkey sausage would have been good too.

And I made some Irish Carbomb Cupcakes which were to die for!

Hope you have a great and safe St. Patrick's Day

Stay Active

So true!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Insanity-Does it really work? A real before and after.

My little brother, Kyle, did the 60 day Insanity workout program. So I am here to report his results. Here is a little background on Kyle: (sorry bro, I am laying it all out there!)

Kyle is 24 years old. He has been overweight for the last few years. He was leading a not so healthy life...not eating right and not exercising. Even had high blood pressure.  Last fall Kyle, Brian and I ran a 5 k. It was Kyle's first 5k. We did train for about 2 months for it. He was very proud of himself, but I could tell that he was frustrated with his endurance level. His job does a Biggest Loser challenge every year and he decided he was going participate and try to win. Brian had done Insanity part way a few summers ago and Kyle decided he was going to borrow it and give it a try.

When did you start and end? January 3rd to March 6th.

How long were the workouts? It was 6 days per week. The first month about 45 minutes, the second month an hour or so.

What were the workout styles? Plyometrics, cardio, body weight, stretching

Did you change your diet? Yes, but I did not follow a "diet". I simply starting making healthy choices such as egg whites for breakfast, protein and something green for lunch and dinner. I snacked on things such as almonds and apples.

How did you feel in the beginning? Sore, worn out and tired.

How did you feel in the end? I was not as sore, my endurance level was improved. I felt lighter, healthier. I noticed that I no longer get out of breath by walking up stairs.

The commercials show a lot of muscular people, did you gain muscle? No I did not gain muscle tone. The benefit I got from these workouts was purely cardio and weight loss.

Did you want to quit? Yes, it was pretty intense. However I didn't quit because of the results I was seeing and the Facebook motivation page that you can join. It did take a lot of will power and motivation, but you can do the exercises at your own pace. You may not be able to keep up with the people on the DVD, but you just do your best.

Have you gotten your Insanity T-shirt? No.
                         (get your T-shirt, man!!)

How much weight did you lose? I started at 242lbs and now weight 210 lbs.

What do you plan to do now? I plan to follow High Intensity Interval Training as suggested by my sister.
Now ready for some amazing before and after pictures???

That's it! Obviously Insanity is not a realistic, permanent solution but it is a good way to kick start yourself into a good regimen of weight loss if you are looking for drastic results. It does take a lot time and will power, but it can be done. The most important thing is to create a long term solution with your workout regimen and diet once something like this is done.  And it can easily be done and that is where I come in. :)

Hope you enjoyed seeing this!

Stay Active

 I think I have posted this pic before, but I still love it!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Recipe of the Week-A Day Late But Worth It

Yesterday I wanted to try a new crock pot recipe, as when it's cold, I am a sucker for crock pot comfort food. We thumbed through a Betty Crocker Slow Cooker cookbook we forgot we had and found a hearty soup rich in fiber, protein and some good spice!

Adapted from Betty Crocker

Smoky Chipotle Cassoulet
1 lb chicken breast, boneless, skinless cubed
1 tsp salt (optional)
1 tsp cumin
1 bay leaf
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced (buy canned in the hispanic section of the grocery store)
1 medium onion, diced
1 can navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can crushed tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 cups chicken stock, low sodium
1/2 fresh orange juice (or use the 50% less sugar orange juice as juicing an orange is kind of a pain)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Mix all ingredients, except cilantro, in your crock pot. Cover and cook on low 7-8 hours or high 4-5  hours. Remove Bay leaf before serving and garnish with cilantro.

This was very good and hit the spot on a cold day.  It was very easy and quick to put together. We cooked it on high and served it with a salad and some gluten free bread. You should definitely give this a shot!

Later this week I will have my little brother's report on completing the 60 day Insanity workout and some Q&A and before and after pictures!!! Stay tuned! :)

And Stay Active

You are what you eat...

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Detox update plus Importance of Fiber

Hello on this rainy day. Now that I have gotten back on track and things are slowing down a bit, I can contribute more time to my blog more often. :)

So, are you wondering why there was no Dr. Oz Detox day 2 and 3 blog? Well it's because there was no day 2 or 3. After I posted on day one, I got to drinking my dinner smoothie as my husband ate his dinner. Throughout the evening, I quickly started feeling really terrible. I had a huge headache and about halfway through the smoothie almost got sick. I felt very nauseous and dizzy. The best way I described it was a cross between having the flu, being hungover and prepping for a colonoscopy. It was awful. I then started to break down and just had to throw in the towel. I was so disappointed! The next day, I weighed myself, I had lost 3 pounds, so that was interesting. My friend doing it with me, she lasted longer than me but towards the end of the 2nd day, she threw in the towel too. So, it was a fail. Oh well, hey I tried it!

I wanted to talk about fiber because I don't think most people get enough fiber in their diet. Especially if you aren't eating a clean diet. Women should get about 21-25 grams of fiber per day. Men should get about 30-38 grams of fiber per day. I researched foods that are highest in fiber and compiled a list:

  • Fruits:
    • Apples, with skin
    • Pears, with skin
    • Raspberries
    • Bananas
    • Oranges
  • Vegetables:
    • Carrots, raw
    • Broccoli, raw
    • Potatoes with skin
    • Artichokes
    • Green Peas
  • Dry Herbs, Spices and Peppers
  • Whole Grains:
    • Brown rice
    • Quinoa
    • Barley
    • Bran
    • Air popped popcorn
  • Beans and nuts:
    • Almonds
    • Pecans
    • Black Beans
    • Lima Beans
    • Navy Beans
    • Kidney Beans
    • Pistachios
    • Flax seed
    • Sunflower seed
Now of course this isn't a full list, but it is the most common things. When increasing your fiber be sure to increase your water intake as fiber is not digested and simply is bulk passing through your GI tract. You want to make sure you have enough water ingested to help pass this through. Increasing fiber in your diet helps regulate your bowel movements. It also helps you to feel full, so if you load up on dietary fiber, you will be full on healthy things and have no room for unhealthy junk. This can help with weight loss and help you to maintain your weight. Fiber can also lower cholesterol, decrease your risk for diabetes and heart disease. These are great reasons to make sure you are taking in enough fiber. I myself have a lot of GI issues, IBS, gluten sensitivity, and I find when I have enough fiber each day I have less bloating, I am more regular, and feel so much better. In addition to natural, dietary fiber, I do use a clear, dissolving fiber, such as Benefiber, in my coffee. This is an option as well for a supplement. 

So load up on some good, wholesome fiber each day and I think you will start to see the benefits. Especially if you tend to have stomach issues as I do. 

Todays Workout:

Stay Active and I will be back tomorrow with a new recipe!

Because it's the best therapy life has to offer.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Dr. Oz 3 Day Detox Cleanse-Day 1

So a friend of mine and I decided to tackle the Dr. Oz 3 Day Detox Cleanse in hopes we would reap the benefits of what it claims to do. It supposedly resets your body by eliminating toxins and helping to regulate your hormones, especially your thyroid. You can potentially lose a few pounds as well. We thought, it's just three days, can it really be that hard?

Well here is an update on day 1:
I started the day with hot green tea with a slice of lemon and 1 tsp of Stevia (although not a huge fan of Stevia). That was good. I like green tea so not a bad way to start the morning.

I drank my breakfast smoothie around 7am that consisted of: 1 cup of water, 1 tbs flax seed, 1 cup raspberries, 1 banana, 1/4 spinach, 1 tbs almond butter, 2 tbs lemon juice. This is actually pretty tasty. I enjoyed it and drank it pretty quickly. I did have a slight headache in the morning, but I think it was all in my head (no pun intended) as I don't intake much caffeine, I didn't suspect I would have the typical caffeine headache that most probably do. And the green tea has caffeine. I didn't notice anything weird with my GI tract other than about halfway through the smoothie I did need to, well you know...go. TMI, I know, but come on, don't you want to know what happened? ;)

By the time I was hungry it was time to drink my lunch smoothie. It was about 11:00am. This consists of 4 celery stalks, 1 cucumber, 1 cup kale leaves, 1/2 green apple, 1/2 lime juiced, 1 tbsp coconut oil 1/2 cup almond milk and 1 cup pineapple. At first sip, I thought it tasted ok, kind of refreshing. However, it than became very sour. And it is super thick. I almost had to chew it just to get it down. After over an hour and only half way through the smoothie and gagging a few times I gave up and poured it out.

Now through the afternoon, I did start to feel a little fuzzy in the brain and grumpy. I found myself craving something salty. But still wasn't overly hungry.

Around 3pm I had my "snack" smoothie, which I repeated breakfast.

I got home from work a little after 4pm. At this point I really don't feel very good but I did a 12 minute HIIT routine for exercise. I thought I was going to die. I really did not have the energy like I usually do to get through it.

I took my detox bath: hot water, epsom salt and lavender oil for 30 min. I was sweating my ass off!!! My heart rate was way elevated and this made me feel worse. I read a book to keep me occupied for 30 minutes and I did bring a glass of ice water to keep me hydrated. By the time I was done with the bath I more or less feel the way I did when I was prepping for my colonoscopy last year. Dizzy, fuzzy, disoriented, nauseous.

Currently I am getting ready to drink my dinner smoothie: 1/2 mango, 1 cup blueberries, 1 1/2 cup coconut water, 1 cup kale, 1 tbs lemon, 1/4 avocado  1/4 tsp cayenne, 1 tbs flax seed. I have taken my first drink and it is spicy!!! But it kind of is helping my craving for salt. I actually don't mind this one. (as my husband heats up his chicken patty and refuses to give me a bite! lol )

Overall, I don't feel great, but it could be worse. I have noticed I am having a hard time focusing and finding my words for this blog and I left the fridge door open. Yikes! Hopefully tomorrow will go better. Oh and I forgot to weigh myself this morning, but when I got home, i was 123.2. we shall see what happens!

Cheers to detox

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunday's Recipe: Chicken and Asparagus with Melted Gyuere

Happy Sunday Night.

I have been so busy every night, the last week, so I feel a little bad about not posting any actual health subjects. But that is about to change. Upcoming subjects will be importance of fiber, explanation of Tabata training, Dr. Ox's 3 day detox (does it work?) and before and after of the "Insanity Workout". So stay tuned...please!

Today i found a semi-gourmet style dinner that was AMAZING! I had some chicken breasts to use up, so I searched one of my favorite healthy recipe websites, . I found an entire list of chicken dinners 350 calories or less.

Chicken and Asparagus with Melted Gyuere
How I "Mandi-tized" it. I used gluten free flour of course. The wine I used was a naked-style Chardonnay, which means it is aged in stainless steel rather than an oak barrel. This wine pairs perfect with the strong cheese that is used. This dish has a very unique flavor with the Gyuere cheese, but it tastes like it was made in a fancy, gourmet restaurant. I served it over a little bed of brown rice along with a salad.

Try this healthy, sophisticated recipe. You surely won't be let down.

I will be doing the Dr. Oz three day detox cleanse Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week. I am interested in how this will make me feel, what it does to my body, etc. I will be posting on my results.

Have a great week!

This weeks workouts:
6 pack ab challenge
Butts and Guts workout: 2 times through
I also have been doing some yoga a few times per week

Motivational Fitness Quotes

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

More Recipes: Pork Chops and Green Beans

So today I had to work from home due to the snow storm and needed to come up with something easy and healthy for dinner. I hastily threw some pork chops in the sink to thaw out but thought, what the heck am I going to do with these and what I am going to make to go with it?

Well, I did some quick searching on google with the ingredients I have in the kitchen and found two recipes that were AH-MAH-ZING! So I thought, I have got to share these.

Honey Garlic Pork Chops courtesy of Taste of Home.
How I "Mandi-tized" it: I used small, boneless pork chops. But that's it. Everything else was the same. I was a bit confused on why you don't just cook the pork chops in the honey sauce, but actually makes sense to do it according to the recipe then drizzle on the pork chops right before serving.

Green Beans and Red Onions with Warm Mustard Vinaigrette  courtesy of
And how I "Mandi-tized" this: I used honey mustard instead of dijon only because my mother-in-law bought us some from Hawaii and hadn't tried it yet, but I loved this recipe! And am sure it is great with dijon mustard as well. It makes a great side side dish and I am thinking will be great in the summer cold!

I also made the balsamic roasted red potatoes that are on my recipe page to complete the meal.

The three of these made a wonderful, relatively healthy dinner that I am going to put down as one of my favorites. I hope you will try this because not only are they scrumptious and good for you, It did not take long to make. Quick and easy, that's what I like.

I have a busy rest of the week coming up moonlighting at a wine boutique Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but I do have a new subject to post on this weekend. I hope you are enjoying to snow! I myself am enjoying it from the inside :)

Stay Active!

Ok...i know the picture is a bit racey, but seriously, this is why i love squats!!!

Couldn't NOT re-pin this...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sunday's Recipe: Pot Roast Stew and Surving the Winter Blues

I hope you have had a great weekend. I am continuing on with some comfort food since we have been dealing with brutal winter lately. I wanted to do a beef stew, so i found a great version that scales back on some calories and fat and uses fresh veggies.

Pot Roast Stew by Bobby Deen
This is a healthier spin on Paula Deen's version. I made this a bit easier by buying already diced up Angus stew meat. But otherwise followed the same steps. You could make this in a crockpot as well. *If you don't want to use parsnips, use potatoes instead*

I thought it would be good to quickly talk about ways to survive the winter blues. I tend to find myself a little down in these cold winter months. But there are a few things to do that can help.

  •  Most importantly be sure to exercise and eat right. For me, with it being dark so much, I do find it a struggle to motivate myself to exercise, but creating a consistent routine will help make this a habit. Find a work out buddy for support.
  • When it is cold, it is soooooo easy to eat heavy, comforting foods that are loaded with fat and calories. Again, put a little extra effort into eating clean and making it a habit.
  •  Stay social. Don't lock yourself up and hibernate. Don't shut your friends and family out. Surround yourself with people you can trust and enjoy being around.
  • Plan something to look forward to. A weekend getaway, your summer vacation, a spa day. Anything fun and enjoyable that is written down in the books. This will keep your motivation up and lift your mood.
  • Take Vitamin D. See my blog post on that. Since we aren't getting sun, this is going to help some.
  • Don't over commit yourself. Don't sign up for extra work and responsibilities. Only do what you can and make sure you have a work/life balance. Over stressing yourself, will only make things difficult for you. 
There are a lot more things, but these are just to name a few. Try to stay up and happy!

And Stay Active Too,

Keep Moving Forward!!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Bye Bye Belly Fat

I think one thing that many people struggle with in their weight loss is losing the jiggle in the abdomen. The reasons for this is multifactoral. But belly fat is the worst to have for this fat sits at the top of your abdomen and wraps around your organs. And this specific, Visceral Fat, produces bad chemicals and hormones that can put you at risk for a lot of health problems.  A lot of us are just predisposed genetically to collect more fat around our midsection. I for instance have the genetic make up to have more junk in the trunk than my midsection. So fighting your genetics is not really very easy. But as for some other reasons, if you work hard, you can fight against them.

If you are exercising like crazy but still feel you are not noticing much visual change, it could be your diet. Double check what you are eating. If you still have a high about of carbs, processed foods, eating out, large portions etc., you are not going to get that loss you are looking for. (check out my previous blogs on tips for a clean diet) So you may need to revamp your eating habits.

Put your stress in check. When we live with high levels of stress, our bodies tend to produce high levels of a hormone called Cortisol. This is our "stress hormone". While it normally helps to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure, our immune system and inflammation, too much of it can cause negative effects on our body. Cortisol is one of the hormones that is produced during fight or flight to help with survival instincts. Your body needs to return to a state of relaxation following high stress situations in order to keep Cortisol levels regulated. If you are in a state of chronic stress, which a lot of us are, this won't happen and therefore you will suffer from the negative effects of high Cortisol over time such as decreased thyroid function, lower immune system, mental fuzziness and increased belly fat. So this could be a big factor for you. Try some yoga or meditation when you get home from work to help decompress from your daily stress.

Make sure you are eating a consistent, healthy breakfast high in protein and fiber. This helps set the tone for eating habits throughout the day and is important for your insulin levels.

Rev up your cardio and calorie burn. And what I mean is start doing shorter, higher intensity cardio sessions rather than long, slow workouts. This is proven to burn more calories at a higher rate and help to shed fat all over. And do one's that involve your lower body too for these muscles produce the highest calorie burn and will in turn help burn your belly fat. You can't really spot burn any section, so doing crunches may help build your muscle, but won't burn all that fat on top so that could actually increase your waist line. Check out some HITT or Tabata training. Trust me, those will do the trick. As I have said before I have lost about 12 pounds and gone down at least 1 pant size in about 1.5 years doing just this type of exercise.  And my muscle tone is more than it has been over any other exercise I have done.

I read in an article, "you didn't gain your belly overnight, so you won't lose it overnight" but be patient and continue to work hard. Make this a way of life. You will see results in no time.

A few of my work out routines from this week:

Hope you have a great weekend. I will be back Sunday with a new recipe. 
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Fitness Friday!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Health Benefits of Raspberries

I came across an idea from Pinterest on a fun way to eat put dark chocolate chips inside the crater in the berry. I thought what an excellent "dessert" to my lunch rather than sugar free 60 calorie chocolate jello. I am really trying hard to focus on fruits and veggies throughout the day. So I had it today and it was amazing! Therefore, I got to thinking about how raspberries are not only pleasing to the pallet, but they are packed with lots of great health benefits. More things than I realized.

For one, it is loaded with antioxidants. Raspberries have about 50% of your daily Vitamin C intake in 1 cup. This helps prevent free radicals in your body and boost your immune system. They are high in what is called ellagic acid, which can act as a natural anti inflammatory. Due to these properties, they can have an anti cancer element as well. They have phytonutrients which have been shown to change and slow the reproduction of cancer cells. Raspberries can also help some with weight loss. The raspberry ketone has recently become popular for this use. It is thought to increase metabolism with our fat cells and it decreases the fat digesting enzyme produced by our pancreas therefore causing us to digest less fat. This way we don't absorb as much. Also the natural sugar in raspberries is digested slowly allowing a more regulated, steady glucose level. One cup of raspberries has about 65 calories and 8 grams of fiber and zero fat! Raspberries have quite a bit of Vitamin B as well which are also important for energy metabolism.

Obviously, eating raspberries is not the answer to all our problems (if only it were that easy), but they are beneficial to add to our healthy habits.

So if you want a low calorie, no fat, high in vitamins and minerals, just plain good for you sweet snack? Try a handful of raspberries. Do your body some good. :)

Today's workout:
From www.fitnessblender.com17 minute Cardio HIIT
and from www.fitsugar.com10 minute core and cool down stretch

Take care and have a great night

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday's Recipe: Carnitas plus a Smoothie Recipe

Good Sunday evening,

I hope you had a great weekend. Tomorrow is back to the grind. Major dislike on that one. Today's recipe I came across on the internet the other day so I wanted to share it with you. It's from which is a really cool blog I follow. You should check this site out as well. It has a lot of neat tips for recipes, homemade products, etc.

Twice Baked Crock Pot Carnitas
I absolutely love Carnitas. And this is a super simple way to make it in the crock pot. Click on the recipe name to follow the link to the recipe. A few changes I made was instead of the 1/2 cup of orange juice, I sliced a clementine and placed the slices along the sides of the crock pot. Also use Diet Dr.Pepper, rather than regular. I think this soda has great flavor for meat, but make it diet. Who needs those extra calories? And Brian and I like to add a little Chipotle in Adobe sauce to add some spice.

I also wanted to share a smoothie recipe that I found and it is very good:

Strawberry Avocado Smoothie:
¼ Cup milk
¾ Cup plain greek yogurt
1 Whole banana
¼ large avocado or half of a small one

1 ½ Cup strawberries, fresh or frozen
¼ tsp Vanilla extract

Add in blender in this order. It makes about 16-20 oz. I drink only half at a time, but it is very filling. 

Sorry for the short and sweet, but I will be back with some topics this week.

Have a great night!
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