Spring into Spring – Making March Awesome

Hey everyone!

It’s March, which usually means the start to a spring warm up, plants and flowers beginning to bloom, and maybe even getting back outside for some more enjoyable/not freeze my booty off runs and walks! Woot, for working out outdoors!

What plans do you have for March? Any spring goals? Summer is just around the corner.:)

This March is playing out like a whirlwind for us. We are currently still in the states waiting for our importation paperwork to come in. :( Frown city. I want to be home. Still praying our phone call comes in to pick them, like 5 minutes ago.image

Anyways, until then we are enjoying all the U.S. has to offer, and getting some much needed computer work done that there just never seems to be time for. Oh…and taxes. :)

Also I’ve been thinking about my goals for March, since I’ll be traveling a lot I want to keep myself healthy, rested and avoid sickness while springing into spring!

Here are some of my ideas, and I thought you might find some of them inspiring as well!

1. Re-evalute your fitness plan. Feel like your fitness plan needs a refresher? Sit down for a few minutes, analyze your current fitness level. Then write down your fitness goals. Next make a plan to reach those goals. Consult your favorite fitness mags, or blogs for new and fresh workout ideas.
Start here.image

2. Treat yourself to a new workout notebook to start keeping track of your workouts.imageMy personal favorite is the simple 5 star notebook with inside pocket flaps, and 2 or 3 sections. That way I can record, cardio/HIIT workouts, and strength workouts separately.

3. Try a new salad recipe. I LOVE salad! But sometimes it is just too cold for a salad. However, with spring weather peeking in, now is the best time to buy some fresh, in season produce and try a new recipe.
Here’s a few I’ve had my eye on:

Power Green Salad

Chopped Miso Salad

Sesame Noodle Salad (eaten with chopsticks of course)

4. Schedule a date night/or casual get-together with friends. There is nothing that will beat the winter blues like scheduling a fun outing with your significant other, best friend, or group of friends. Do, something active like going for a hike, and take a cool weather picnic along complete with hot drinks.

OR, have a waffle brunch with friends. You make the waffles and coffee, and everyone brings a creative topping or side dish. MMmmm waffles.image

5. Take an hour walk once a week. There is no better way to clear your head than to take a long stroll outside. It’s a great time for prayer and reflection. I’d love for this to become an every week habit for me.

6. Shop for seeds & plan a garden. It’s almost garden season!! What better way to have the freshest produce, and save money than plant some things yourself. If you have never planted before, check out some great tips here.image

An herb garden is also a fun way to get your green thumb on. Try planting basil, parsley, and thyme.

7. Pick up a deep read. I’m not much of a book reader. I think I’m a little ADD and that makes blogs and magazine articles perfect for my lack of attention span.
However, I want to be a “deeper” book reader, and I have my eye on a few titles…courtesy of a friend. What book have you been wanting to read?

8. Drink a smoothie a day (maybe even a green one). Loaded with fruits, veggies, lean protein (milk, or protein powder), and healthy fats smoothies pack a nutritional punch. Add a couple handfuls of spinach to make it green, add fiber and iron, and drink your way to a healthy March. image

My favorite green smoothie combo:
1 kiwi
1/2 green pear
1/2 cup pineapple
2 handfuls fresh spinach
1/2 cup almond milk
1 T ground flax
1 scoop vanilla hemp protein powder
ice

Blend, top with almond butter and hemp seeds! Yum!

9. Get organized. A few months back I got sick of doing all my cleaning on Saturdays. Not only did it waste half my day, but I felt like things were filthy during the week. So, I made a weekly cleaning chart, spreading out my cleaning duties throughout the week. And let me tell you, best.thing.ever! Seriously.
Each day it takes me anywhere from 15-30 minutes to do my chores, and I still have time for everything else in my day. And the best part…Saturday is more like a Saturday should be = win.

So, make some organization goals, how can you more efficiently get everything done? Make a plan, try it, adjust, and then stick with what works.

What are you doing to spring into spring, and make March an awesome month?

~ Liesl

Cheat Days – Love them or Loathe them?

Hey guys! How’s your week going?

Mine has been good, but my schedule is out of whack because we are still traveling. We were supposed to receive our paperwork today…but it didn’t come in. Since it’s the weekend now, we have to wait until Monday to receive it. Grrr…I wanted to throw a small fit this morning, but then I remembered that God is in control, and His timing is perfect. Trust. A constant life lesson being learned by this girl.

Sorry for the lack of posting this week, it’s always crazy when we are out in the states because we are getting all those things done that we can’t get done living in the middle of nowhere. :)

However today I wanted to write about a topic that I’ve read and thought about quite a bit, but never really sat down, thought through, and formulated my opinion. So here it goes…I probably won’t be popular, but here’s my opinion on cheat days.
*All opinions expressed are my own, I am not a certified nutrition or fitness professional, all I write about has been learned through personal experience.

So,cheat days…

 Source

What are they: Many people who are watching what they eat or trying to eat healthier may implement something called a cheat day. Which is when they pick a specific day during the week where they can “cheat” on their healthy eating. Choosing to eat food, or dessert, that was formerly deemed “bad” in their realm of day to day food choices.

For example: Say Jane has been eating healthy all week, and exercising. She has scheduled a cheat day on Saturday and on said day has a lunch out planned with a friend. They will grab burgers and oh, those delicious seasoned fries, and afterwards she’ll indulge in the caramel macchiato with extra whip cream that she’s been jonesing for all week.
 Source
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Then Sunday it’s right back to the grindstone.

Why I think healthy eating and cheat days just don’t jive:

1. Healthy eating is a 24/7 lifestyle.
In a conversation with a friend this last week we were discussing that eating healthy is a lifestyle, not a diet. A change of how you eat 24/7, using food to fuel your body in the way God intended it to be fueled.
In my opinion this means eating the most natural foods that we can most responsibly consume, in their most natural state. While listening to our bodies, to be sure to consume the proper amounts of the nutrients that we most require.

Having a cheat day is like having a vacation from our lifestyle….every week. Source
But is it…

I don’t know about you, but I already feel like I’m behind on work, ministry, projects I want to accomplish…and I certainly don’t feel like adding “behind on my healthy lifestyle goals” to that list if I can help it. Choosing to cheat in my opinion, is lack of focus, and commitment. If we really want something, we go for it, 110%, we don’t pull back, or take a day off. Lifestyles are lifestyles and that’s just my humble opinion. Which leads me to my next point…

2. Cheating takes us 2 steps back.
We’ve all been there, like “Jane” who I cited above. We’ve worked hard all week and are feeling super great, and then “cheat day” rolls around. We have the freedom, and the lack of will power, so we take it, and tell ourselves it’s our cheat day so it’s okay. And we fall 2 steps back, after working so hard to bound forward.

Life is all about balance, don’t get me wrong…but think about your work for a second. Would you work hard all week on a project, complete it with pride, and then not turn it in to your boss on time just because it was your day off, and you weren’t required too? I would hope not. That one little move would negate all of the hard work you had previously invested.

Please hear me out, I’m not saying that you are a terrible person if you had a cupcake at your daughter’s birthday party, and now you’ve taken two steps back, and who knows if you’ll ever reach your goals. No…that is not my point at all.
My point is: I guess I don’t understand why someone would make conscious efforts, when they are going to make a conscious decision to exploit those conscious efforts? That is what cheat days are to me.

With that said, let me say something about healthy eating.

Healthy eating does not mean never eating certain foods. image

I mean you all know I love me some dark chocolate!

It means putting the most healthy foods into our bodies that we can in our present and given circumstances. It’s about balance, enjoying life, and not being so hard on ourselves.

So if you are at your mother-in-law’s, and she has made that killer artery blocking lasagna again what do you do? You eat a proper portion, balanced with fiber rich veggies, and a tall glass of water, and call it a victory. Catch my drift?

Nobody is 100% perfect 100% of the time. Source

Healthy eating for me is a little dark chocolate when I’m craving it, or homemade mac & cheese when comfort food is what’s in order.
But making a conscious planned choice to be unhealthy? That just doesn’t fit the lifestyle I’m trying to portray here on the blog, or practice with my family.

And one more thing…

3. Putting “cheat foods” into our bodies doesn’t feel good.
A night long belly ache the desperate effort to run it off in the morning, and the feeling of failure as we end up walking half our run because we have a pizza rock still sitting in our gut. Been there…don’t ever want to go back.

When we eat “cheat foods” our body feels like it’s under attack. We feel yucky. Period. And no one wants to feel that way. We work hard to be full of energy, stay free from sickness, and live life the healthiest way possible. So choosing to have a day where we know we won’t feel our best afterwards, is just crazy to me. I won’t do it. Plain and simple. But that’s my humble opinion.

But…do I believe that you can do “cheat days” in the healthy way? Yes. Some people can.Those of us with a will-power of steel.
Personally, when I have indulged in junky foods, it just makes me crave them more. And I’d rather not be under that kind of pressure. Healthy decisions and keeping my diet in perspective regarding my situation, and environment is a much more manageable lifestyle for me. Just sayin’.

So…that’s how I feel about cheat days. If you like cheat days this is in no way a personal attack, I understand that certain things work for certain people, and if you dig cheat days and they help you keep on track with your healthy lifestyle goals than by all means do what works.

Cheat days…love them or loathe them? Tell me about your experience with the cheat day method. Does it work for you? Why or why not? What is your favorite personal healthy eating strategy?

Happy Weekend!!
~ Liesl

Finish February Fit Challenge – 4th & Final Week

Hey, it’s Saturday and I am writing this weekend post from Albuquerque, NM where Pete and I are spending a few days as a late anniversary trip.image

I’ve been hittin up all my favorite places, which is super fun when you are buying groceries for the next 6 months. It’s easier to justify buying one of everything…well, maybe not, exactly, but I’m doing a shout out for Trader Joes, and Sprouts Market. Supplying my pantry one 5 mile long receipt at a time. :) Funny…but true.

Also I’ve been eating my bodyweight in hummus and berries, drinking lots of yummy coffee, working out at a new gym (woot for guest passes) and enjoying some together time with the hubby, which is always awesome.image

And freezing my bootay off! Who knew Albuquerque was cold! This WI girl has truly turned beach babe forever.

Oh…and firsts:
I could have won a pair of free jeans at AE just for trying them on…but alas, we are like the only people in this country without a smart phone, so I couldn’t text the coupon code to the # to see if I won. Fail.

I drank kombucha with chia seeds in it…holy yum. I’m definitely doing that at home.

Had our order taken at a restaurant on a tablet…I know, welcome to the first century Liesl.

And we ate lunch everyday in our truck. Cheese, crackers, hummus and veg! Yep…we are classy like that.image

Anyways, it’s been a fun time, and I hope you’ve had a great week too.

How did your workouts go? Bodyweight…what did you think? Did you try my Burn IT workout? Feedback?

Well, it’s week 4, hard to believe that February is almost over. I’ll be traveling more this week, and working on paperwork, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to Finish February Fit!

This week is all about staying consistent with your workouts, plus adding a bonus strength sesh to each day to really get you feeling your very best as you move into spring. So…ready to hit this last week hard with me?!

Week 4’s Challenge – 100s! image

This week’s challenge is simple:
Do – 100 squats
100 pushups
100 situps or v-ups
100 count plank hold
Every single day, in addition to your normal workout routine.

Some things to remember:
* You do not have to do all 100 reps at once, consecutively. You can break them up however you like, and do them throughout your day. I like 4 sets of 25.
* Make sure you are using proper form as you do each exercise, they are not meant to be done quickly.
* If you get sick of regular pushups or squats, mix it up! Try plie squats, or some wall squats, or one of these pushup variations.
* Have fun with it!!

You’ve done an amazing job this month and you should be really proud of yourself. This week I’d love to hear what you’ve learned about your fitness potential, and about yourself in general. I’d love to hear about gains you’ve made, or set backs you’ve had. And what you’ve liked or disliked about the challenges.

This blog, Fitness in the Kitchen, is for you guys. Free tips, exercise routines, and healthy recipes that encourage me to be creative and to keep things fresh, however, it is my hope that they also encourage you to live a healthier lifestyle. :) So…let me know what’d you’d like to see more of in the future. I love your feedback.

Thanks for reading, and stay strong this week, I’ll be pounding out those 100s with you!

~ Liesl

Road Trip Protein Bars

In getting ready for our trip across country…22 hours one way to our destination to be exact, I made some healthy snacks to have alongside us as we drive.image

I love using my stash of dried fruits, nuts, and seeds, to create something super yummy, and good for you too.

I know in the U.S. there are all kinds of places to stop on road trips, some healthy, and some not so healthy…but here in Mexico, at least the roads we travel, there is literally nothing. :) Lots of desert. So, I like to plan ahead so we have energy and fuel to keep us going for the long hours ahead.image

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Pete requested energy bars, so I whipped a new recipe…they are no-bake which makes them quick to make, and not only are they chock full of protein, but healthy fats, and fiber as well. These will stick with ya!

Road Trip Bars
3/4 c pumpkin seeds, raw
3/4 c coconut, shredded and unsweetened
1/4 c + 2 Tbsp rice protein powder, vanilla
1/4 c + 2 Tbsp flax seeds
3 Tbsp chia seeds
dash cinnamon

17 whole prunes, pitted
1 tsp. vanilla
4 Tbsp coconut oil, room temperature
2- 4 Tbsp. water

6 Tbsp. rolled oats

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the dry ingredients, except the oats quickly. Just a few pulses because you want things to stay a little chunky, so your bars have texture. Place the mixture in another bowl and set aside.

Next add the wet ingredients to the food processor and blend until they become nice and smooth. They won’t be liquidy, more like a soft, sticky paste.

Add the wet mixture to the dry, and toss in the oats. Stir until everything is well blended, and the mixture comes together in a ball. If it seems sticky, just add more oats, 1 Tbsp at a time, until you get the texture you want.

Line a 8×8 baking pan with waxed paper and press the dough into the pan. You want to compress it well so the bars stick nicely together. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Cut into 16 bars, wrap in saran wrap if you like, and then store in the refrigerator in a airtight container.
*I’m keeping them in a cooler as we travel.image

Curious about the nutrition facts?
For 1 bar: 175 Calories, 13g fat, 7g protein, 11g carbs, and just 3 g of sugar.
A protein bar filled with whole foods, and low in sugars, I’ll take it! And, they are mighty tasty too! :)

Hope you’ll try these for your next road trip, or they’d make great day hike, camping, or sporting event snacks.

See you this weekend for the final week of the Finish February Fit Challenge!

~ Liesl

The Healthy Road Trip – What’s in the Bag?

Hey guys!

Just wanted to check in and say that I’m rootin’ for ya this week as you do those bodyweight workouts, and stick to your healthy eats. I workin’ it with ya…just a big sweat ball over here!
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So…how’s it going?
Have you tried the Burn It workout yet? What did you think?

It’s Wednesday, and right now as this post goes up we are probably on the road in the middle of nowhere heading towards the border to do our vehicle paperwork. Fun stuff.

I can’t lie though, I do like road trips. They mean lots of quality time with the hubby, a chance to do some good reading, listen to some great music, kind of like forced relaxation. Which I need…just ask my husband. :)

One thing I always pack for a road trip is my “food bag.”image

It’s like this mysterious, bag that sits on the floor in the front of the truck, and only I know what’s in it. My husband treats it like the treasure box you get to pick out of at the dentist’s office…”should I choose the trail mix, or the apple, or the protein bar, or ALL three. Yes..that is usually his choice.

Today I’m going to share with you some of my “road trip” staples, that always make it into that priceless bag.

The Road Trip Bag of Healthy Treasure

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First of all, how cute is that bag? My MIL gave it to me. LOVE it.

1. A Healthy Breakfast: Often we are on the road for days at a time, and I like to pack something for the first meal of the day that is hearty, filling, and full of nutrients and requires basically nothing to prepare. This trip I’ve packed some “unoatmeal” as we call it.image

It’s a mix of ground flax seed, chia seed, coconut, vanilla pea protein powder, and cinnamon. All you do portion it out, add hot water, let sit for a few minutes and you have breakfast! Just add water…yep, you can get water anywhere, easy peasy.

2. Fruit & Veggies: Fresh fruit and veg make great snacks on the road. Prep them ahead of time by washing them and packing ziploc bags of whatever you have on hand. My personal favorites: carrot sticks, snap peas, celery, apples, orange slices, grapefruit slices, and pears.image

3. Nut Butter: Just bring a spoon…not exactly, but it is good that way too. I like to pack a small jar of almond, or sunflower butter when we travel because it turns a simple little snack like apple slices, into a balanced, protein, healthy fats, and carb powerhouse.image

Plus…what’s not to love about a scoop of nut butter on your “healthy portable breakfast.” Or, bring a loaf of whole wheat bread and make nut butter, and apple slice sandwiches. So, many things you can do with nut butter…that’s why it makes it into the bag every.single.time.

4. Healthy Snack Foods: If you have many hours on the road ahead you know that there is going to be the need for a snack…or two or three. :)

Some of my favorite road worthy snacks: nuts or seeds, a homemade trail mix (try walnuts, almonds, cranberries, cherries, blueberries, and sunflower seeds), protein bars or balls (new recipe coming on Friday!), pretzels, or crackers & string cheese.image

5. A French Press & Coffee When we travel we ALWAYS bring our french press.image

Why? Because coffee is expensive…a cup of coffee is easily over $2 and for two people $4 per day/6 days…it adds up FAST. While exploring new coffee shops is great fun, and one of our favorite things to do on trips…I’d like to save the visit for an afternoon latte…if ya know what I mean. ;)

So instead of paying through the nose I’ll grind some of our coffee from home, put it in an airtight container, and pack it with our press. Then wherever we stay all we need is hot water, and we have a delicious pot of coffee for two!

6. Tea You just never know when you are going to be cold and crave a hot cup of tea. Because of that I always throw in a few tea bags of my favorite varieties, along with a few VIA coffee packets in case of java emergencies.image

7. Plastic silverware & napkins Lets be honest, not all the food you’ll be eating on the road is finger food. I have found a simple plastic spoon to be more than helpful on several occasions. So…I always just throw a few knives, spoons, forks, and napkins in a little bag, just in case.

Your turn!
When you road trip do you pack a food bag? What are your road trip staples? Do you have any fabulous road trip breakfast or snack recipes I need to know about?

Come back Friday for a new snack recipe! Great for road trips, or for a day at home!

Have a great week,

~ Liesl

Burn It Bodyweight Workout

Here it is…the workout you’ve all been waiting for…*insert evil laugh here*…no, I’m not totally serious, but this workout will get your heart pumpin’.

It is a tough workout, but it is done quick, (just 20 minutes) which means you can’t whimp out, you need to go all out during your work intervals and really push yourself. This workout is a mix of cardio, plyometrics, and bodyweight strength moves all wrapped up tightly in a HIIT style workout.

I did two rounds on Saturday combined with the Leg & Arm Burnout (more on that below) and it was a perfect, super schweaty 30 minute workout.

*Remember: Modify exercises when needed, and honor your body and injuries. If you are just starting to get in the workout groove I would recommend doing only 1 round. 

Now, get your favorite jams ready on your ipod, or call up one of your workout buddies and let’s “get this” together!

P.S. If you look closely you can see my little feline photo bomber in just about every pic. He’s a darling.
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- Burpee jacks: Perform a regular burpee, but when you jump back to high plank you will jump your feet out to the sides like you are performing a jumping jack in plank. Jump your feet back together, and complete the burpee.
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- Mtn Climbers: In high plank position bring your knees into your chest one at a time quickly like you are running up the face of a cliff. Keep your abs tight, head level, and booty down.
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- Dive Bombers: Start with hands a little wider than shoulder width and feet on the floor, and hips raised to the ceiling so your body is in a “V”. Lower your shoulders and glide your chest forward just above the ground between your hands and then push towards the ceiling. Your hips will be lifted just off the floor a few inches. Next reverse the move gliding your hips back up making an inverted V with you body like at the start.
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- Lateral lunges w/jump (Left): Step to the left with your left leg sinking into a lateral lunge. As you lunge reach down and touch the ground with your right hand. Upon the touch push up out of the lunge and reach your right hand for ceiling while jumping up off of your right leg.
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- Plank shoulder taps (5) + pushup: In high plank position bring your hand up to tap your opposite shoulder, repeat on the other side for 5 reps, then perform a pushup. Move as quickly as possible, keeping your core tight, back flat, and don’t let your belly sag.
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- Lateral lunges w/jump (Right): Same as the lateral lunges above, but lunging onto your right leg, and jumping up off your left leg.
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- Prisoner squats: Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width and your hands placed light behind your head. Keeping your head and chest lifted, squat down and back until your thighs are parallel with the floor, press back up to start. Move through your squats as quickly as possible with good form.
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- Plank walk out + tricep pushup: From a stand bend over placing your hands on the floor in front of your feet, walk them out until you are in high plank, perform 2 tricep pushups (elbows close to your sides), and walk back to the start. Repeat, move quickly.
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- Jump lunges (3) + kick:  From a stand jump up into the air scissoring your legs to land in a lunge with your right leg forward. Immediately jump up from the lunge and switch, landing in a left lunge, repeat again. After your 3rd lunge, swing the opposite leg forward into a front kick. Repeat….3 jumping lunges, kick, 3 jumping lunges, kick, etc.
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- Candlestick: Stand with your feet together arms lifted above your head. Roll back into an inverted candlestick position, arms above your head, hips extended, and toes lifting upwards. Roll back down placing your feet on the floor and rolling to a stand, immediately spring upwards into a jump.
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*This is HARD…so feel free to use your hands to help you stand up.

Once you’ve completed 1-2 rounds, you can collapse in a pool of your own sweat…or….you can finish up with this:

Leg & Arm Burnout

30 pulsing squats (regular squat with a pulse, up/down, rise up to start)
30 second squat hold
30 pulsing plie squats (legs wide toes turned out slightly)
30 second plie squat hold
30 jump squats

20 pushups
30 second low pushup hold (hold your body in the low portion of your pushup)
20 plank shoulder taps (tap R, tap L= 1 rep)
30 second low plank hold (resting on your elbows)
30 up & down planks (walk from high to low plank using just your arms)

DONE!

High fives! That’s a serious workout!

If you try this workout let me know how it went….what you liked what you didn’t. I love getting your feedback. Also, a lot of the exercises are new, so if you have any questions at all put them in the comments, and I’ll get back to you.

Happy Workouts!!

~ Liesl