Tips to Shred Afternoon Sugar Cravings

I’m so excited, because we’ve actually had a internet connection for the last 3 days straight. Totally unheard of in these parts. 🙂 Woot!

On to other more interesting topics…like JSJ Week 5!image

How’s it going? Have you been able to stick with your meal plan so far this week? Why or why not? What “yumma-licious” yes, it’s a word…to me at least, snack did you make this week?

I meal plan pretty much every week, so this week’s challenge wasn’t a curveball for me by any means. But…that doesn’t always mean that I stick to my meal plan. I like to hold it loosely, where I feel I can still be flexible, by using the same ingredients, but maybe in a different way than originally planned. Which means I still get all the benefits of meal planning without stifling my creativity in the kitchen.

Oh…and I made a new snack recipe last night, which I plan to taste-test with some afternoon coffee. 😉

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Ah…afternoon coffee, it’s that 3pm thing where the work day is, but isn’t almost over. You still need to get a few things done, but your mind is starting to check out already. If you are a stay at home Mom, it might be your only down time when the kids are napping or playing, and you deserve a sweet break. Am I right Mamas?

I find that a cup of coffee in the afternoon is a good pick me up, and I always keep myself in check with “am I drinking this for the caffeine or because I truly enjoy it”…and I think I’ll always be in love with a good cup of french press. But I’m not saying it works for everyone.

But it’s not the coffee that I wanted to talk about today.

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No it’s that unwanted thing that comes with it. It’s like the sugar elves throw in those dreaded sugar cravings in a “two for one” package deal. You know what I mean. When your afternoon break isn’t complete without something sweet. For those of us who don’t drink coffee, maybe that afternoon soda is often our ticket to “finish the work day bliss.”

For the last week I’ve been contemplating my own journey regarding afternoon sugar cravings, after receiving an email from a reader asking me how she could shred her 3pm cravings for something sweet once and for all. She wondered if it was possible…or if she should just “give in” once and awhile.

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We all know that sugar is nutritionally void…and a nemesis to many in their journey towards health. Sugar consumption actually plays a crucial part in the struggle against obesity because it is so “sneakily” hidden in so many foods that are touted as “healthy.”

Personally I have tried several different strategies regarding my own quest to a “less sugar-filled life” and along the way I’ve learned A LOT about what works, and what doesn’t work for me. Also, I’ve learned that life is to be lived, and sometimes that means enjoying a dessert, or having a glass of wine, and there is nothing wrong with that as long as it becomes a controlled choice that we make to indulge rather than something that just happens. When that indulgence is a reaction to something else, maybe stress, or loneliness, our indulgences are reaction based and leave us feeling unsatisfied, and like failures. However, when we consider our situation, and choose when we want to indulge and when we don’t we slowly grasp control, and in my experience our cravings grow less and less frequent.

So, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite tips with you in hopes that you’ll learn a new strategy to kick that afternoon sweet craving to the curb, once and for all.

Tips to Shred those pesky little Sugar Cravings:

1. Mindful eating everyday:
I know, I know, I talk about this often, but what we choose to put into our bodies from the moment we wake up until our head hits the pillow at night will dictate our success or failure in the nutrition department.
To stave off those 3pm sugar cravings eat a healthy breakfast loaded with healthy fats, and protein.

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Snack smart, and eat a protein and healthy fat full lunch. I know personally whenever I fail to eat enough lean protein for lunch is when I suffer from the worst afternoon cravings for something sweet. My body is telling me that it is missing nutrients…and our bodies automatically crave instant energy which is why we crave sugary, processed foods in these situations.

For Breakfast try – Scrambled eggs, with avocado, tomato, and a sprinkle of cheese, or some full fat Greek yogurt topped with berries, and nuts.
Or my personal favorites – steel cut oatmeal with almond milk, berries, and a scoop of almond butter…or a delicious fruit and veggie smoothie with a scoop of protein powder for staying power.20131207-151335.jpg

For lunch – I love me a big grain and bean bowl. My favorite combo is 1/2 cup quinoa mixed with 1 cup of lentils, topped with raw veggies and a drizzle of homemade tahini dressing. Mmmm…???????????????????????????????

2. Keep sugary treats out of sight:
In our house we have a “treat bucket” in our pantry which has dark chocolate or other treats we’ve been given by others. The bucket has a lid, and I keep it underneath a table behind two other buckets where I store my grains, and pastas. Not only is it hard to get to, but it is out of sight. And you know what they say, “Out of sight, out of mind.” It works…just try it. Or…don’t buy them at all. Also a great strategy. 🙂

3. Avoid buying packaged foods:
Sticking to the outer areas of your local grocery store is some of the best advice you can follow. Fresh produce, organic dairy & eggs, whole grains, and good quality meats should be your diet staples. However, if you must buy something packaged read the labels making sure you recognize the ingredients.

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If you don’t it’s not real food…and it’s not good for you, plain and simple. And those “not real” foods, just make your crave more not real, sugary food. Blah.

4. Start Small :
When that afternoon craving for something sweet hits try something more naturally sweet, like a cup of fresh berries, or pineapple topped with nuts for satiating protein and fat, or a couple small pieces of dried fruit such as apricots, dates, or figs.image

And if you must have chocolate, choose dark, over 70% cacao chocolate, and have a small piece. These are quality, nutritious foods that are sweet, but actually good for you.
Over time your sweet tooth will change, and when you do decide to indulge on that piece of chocolate layer cake at your Dad’s birthday party, you will have a realization that you’ve changed, and you may not be able to even finish it. A “kicking sugar in the butt” victory!

5. Create some healthy “treat” recipes you can enjoy mindfully:
As I mentioned above, make indulging in a sugar craving something that you mindfully “choose” to do. And when you choose to indulge your craving, make something from scratch with ingredients that you recognize and that are good for you.
What is your favorite dessert? Create a healthier version.

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I love peanut butter cups. Actually anything with peanut butter and chocolate. If that is what I want I’ll: melt down some dark chocolate pour a layer into a mini muffin cup, top with a tsp of natural peanut butter and freeze. Once frozen I’ll add the top layer of chocolate and freeze again. Healthy, and delicious.

I also enjoy a creamy cup of hot chocolate on these cold winter nights, but have you ever looked at the ingredients in the packaged  stuff…what in the world? However it’s easy to make a healthy version from scratch: Take 12oz of almond milk and heat over med heat in a pan. Whisk in 1.5 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, and heat until steaming. Pour in a mug and add 3-6 drops vanilla stevia and stir. Creamy, chocolately, heavenly. My hubby even begs me to make this treat.

Or try my homemade Almond Joy Coffee Creamer. Put a half cup of the creamer in your mug and top off with strong coffee, for a healthy and tasty mocha!

Most of all, I want you to remember that every person is different. Your running buddy may be able to kick the sugar habit cold turkey while you’re still left binging on that bag of Dove chocolates. It’s a process. Living a healthy, full life is not something you wake up one morning excelling at. We all have slip ups, and we all have different goals and steps to reach them, one way is not better than another.

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So please, don’t compare yourself. Rather learn about you, what makes you crave sugar, and how can you start making real mindful choices about the things that you eat. Tell someone close to you what you’ve decided to do, and ask for accountability, and support. And most of all don’t expect crazy changes right away. The things most worth doing take the most time and the most effort. Consistency is key. And life is meant to be lived, and food meant to fuel us and to be enjoyed.

Well, I think I’m off to make me a mug of healthy hot chocolate, care to join me?

What about you; do you struggle with afternoon sugar cravings? If so, what are your favorite strategies for crushing those cravings? What is your favorite mindfully sweet indulgence?

~ Liesl

Craving Curry

Curry is one of those dishes, that if made right will never disappoint. It is spicy, warm, filling, comforting and SO adaptable to whatever ingredients you may have on hand.

I love every kind of curry, but one of my favorites is a simple red, thai-style curry that you can easily put together on a busy weeknight. You can add whatever veggies, meat, tofu, or beans that you have on hand, and you don’t need a ton of crazy spices to give it flavor.

This version below is one I made this last week, I hope you love it!

A Simple Curry
Makes about 4 servings, over brown rice

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1 Tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 poblano pepper, seeded & diced
2 whole carrots, sliced (I like my carrot slices thick, however cut them however you like)
1 small zucchini, cubed
1/2 medium head of cauliflower, broken into bite-size florets
1/2 cup edamame
6 oz. chicken, (I use my home-canned, but if using raw meat, cook in a pan and then dice)

1 1/4 cup lite coconut milk, divided
1 1/4 cup low sodium vegetable broth
1-3 Tbsp red curry paste (I usually use about 2.5)

*Optional: Cooked brown rice for serving, or quinoa would be a lovely choice as well.

Heat the coconut oil over medium heat in a large saucepan, or dutch oven.
Add the onions, poblano, and carrots. Saute’ for about 5-6 minutes, or until the veggies are starting to feel tender. Put the lid on and sweat the veggies for another 5 minutes. See getting in a good sweat is universal. 🙂

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Meanwhile pour 1/4 cup of the coconut milk into a small bowl and add the red curry paste. Stir slowly until completely combined. Set aside.

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Next add the zucchini, cauliflower, edamame and chicken to the sweatin’ veg. Toss until evenly mixed; about 1-2 minutes. Finally add the broth, remaining coconut milk, and red curry paste/coconut milk mixture. Stir well. Bring to a bubbling simmer and let cook until the cauliflower is tender. Taste and add salt if needed.

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Devour over a steaming bed of brown rice.

Just a few ideas:
*I usually start my brown rice as I heat up the coconut oil for the curry. I cook the rice at a 2:1 ratio; 2 parts water, 1 part rice. This way it gets done around the same time as my curry, and wah lah, dinner is served!!
** Feel free to experiment with whatever veggies you love. When I make a yellow curry I love using eggplant and tomatoes. When I make a green curry, I stick to green and white veggies like cauliflower, zucchini, broccoli, peppers, or peas.
** To make this meal vegetarian swap out the chicken for more edamame, or toss in a few cups of chickpeas or white beans. Also, tofu is delicious in curry.

You’re a curry fan to? Here’s another recipe you may like: Pumpkin Basil Curry w/Zucchini noodles.

What is one of your favorite/go to weeknight dinners? Why do you love it?

~ Liesl

Eats & Fitness – 1.26

Happy Sunday! What’s your day been like?

This morning my intention was to go for a nice 4.5 mile run. But, I slept in. 🙂

Have I ever mentioned that I live in the mountains, and to get to a “flat (it still isn’t flat)” place to run the husband and I hike up 3/4 mile, and about 1,000 feet, and then hike down when we are done. It’s a good warm up. Maybe I’ll get my run in a little later this afternoon…or hit the home gym for a sweat sesh.

So I was thinking about the JSJ Challenge, and how we’ve gone through 4 weeks of lifestyle challenges, which I hope for many of you inspired goals, aspirations, and lifestyle changes leading towards a healthier and happier you. I hope you learned things about yourself, and exceeded your own expectations, and most of all I hope the challenge left you wanting more from your days, your fitness routine, your diet, and your life.

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I know I loved writing the challenges, and I kind of want it to keep going. Lucky for me, January 2014 has 5 weeks! Woot!! So…I’m thinking one more challenge for those who are up for it! Are you in?

And…Week 5’s Challenge is:

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Meal planning. I think you either love it or you hate it. There is no middle ground. But if you’ve never tried it, now is a great time to start.

There are several reasons why I love meal planning:

1. Saving money – If you have your meal plan ready it is so much easier to make a grocery list for the week of “just what you need” and stick to it.

2. Weekend prep – I usually sit down on Friday night or Saturday and meal plan for the upcoming week. Then on Sunday afternoon I can prep ahead of time as much of the week’s menu items as I want.

3. Keeping waste down – When I meal plan I organize the meals by what we have that needs to be used. Which really cuts down on the amount of food and leftovers we throw away.
For example: I had leftover brown rice in the fridge from last week. So I prepped the Chickpea masala burgers with brown rice, to use it up.

4. That “organized” feeling – I like going into my day knowing roughly how much time I’ll be spending in the kitchen. It helps me get more done in other areas of my life. Major yah for a clean house, efficient work hours, and time to get a good workout in.

Need some healthy snack ideas?

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Lemon Herb Hummus w/ Veg

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Raw Chia Seed Bars

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Gingerbread Power Bars

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Smoothies

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Fruit & Nuts

Also, check out my recipe page for more ideas!

Here’s an idea what my meal and fitness plan looks like for the week:

Meal Ideas:

Chickpea Masala Burgers (made a big batch and put some in the freezer)
Vegetarian Quinoa Chili
Beef Stir Fry
Roasted Veg & Grain Salad
Cauliflower Crusted Pizza – been wanting to try this for awhile.

Tentative Fitness Plan:

Monday – Strength – Total Body + HIIT
Tuesday – Run day – 4 miles
Wednesday – Strength Lower body + Plank Burner
Thursday – Run day – speedwork
Friday – Rest or yoga
Saturday – Jumpstart January Workout + Arm burner
Sunday – Run day – 5miles

Does meal planning scare you? Why or why not? Do you consider yourself and organized and efficient person? Why or why not?

See ya tomorrow with a easy weeknight supper recipe!

~ Liesl

Week 4 in Review + Double Recipe Feature!

Hey! Happy Weekend! How was your week?

This was Week 4 of the JSJ Challenge, and I encouraged you guys to try making one pantry staple from scratch, and to try a new workout!

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So…how did it go? What did you make? What fun workout did you try? Extra points if you tried the Stability Ball Workout I posted on Wednesday….not seriously, but if you tried it I’d love to hear what you thought!

Now…I’m not one to complain, but we have had worst month with our satellite internet connection. 😦 So far we have had internet only 10 days out of 25…I would say that is pretty bad. I don’t like to throw the hammer down on companies, but we are pretty frustrated to say the least with HughesNet. I would NOT recommend them to anyone. However, we have no way to contact them since internet is our only source of communication with the “real” world, but also, since it is our only source of communication…grr…it’s just frustrating.

But, I’m not here to write about that.

Instead I will continue, as I can, to post tasty & healthy recipes, fun fitness facts and info, and kick-butt workouts here @ Fitness in the Kitchen. Thanks for reading and sticking with me as we work through the technical difficulties. You guys are awesome!

Week 4 was super fun for me! I LOVE experimenting in the kitchen, and I have this on-going list of things that I’d like to try and make from scratch when time allows. Plus new workouts = happiness. No boredom happening in this home gym! 🙂

One pantry staple in our casa is almond milk.

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My hubby and I are both WI born, and Pete is a dairy boy to the core. Me on the other hand…I am the girl who used to try everything to get out of drinking my glass of milk with meals as a child. Sometimes I would let the cat in when Mom wasn’t looking and the cat would happened to jump on the table and drink my milk. Yucky. Or the one time my brothers and I decided it would be a fantastic idea to toss our milk through the screen on our screened in porch while Mom was inside in the kitchen. Yeah…that one didn’t quite go as planned.
But, this girl loves her almond milk. It’s so rich and delicious, and works amazing in baking as well.

I thought transitioning our family from dairy milk to almond milk, would be like running into a brick wall at full speed…but it wasn’t. Pete loves almond milk. And I have always wanted to make it from scratch, so Week 4’s Challenge was just the kick in pants that I needed.

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You haven’t tried almond milk yet? Well, let me tell you almond milk is loaded with calcium, and vitamins, and is lower in calories and added sugars than dairy milk. You will not be getting as much protein, but there are many other ways to get protein in my opinion.
Plus, after making almond milk here in my kitchen this week, I have to tell you how incredibly EASY it was. It took me about 15 minutes, including washing the dishes. Plus it’s cost effective: 32oz. of milk can be made from just one cup of almonds.

And for my your benefit I went the extra mile and created a “healthier” flavored coffee creamer with an almond milk base.

Uh huh…it’s just as amazing as it sounds. And because I couldn’t wait to share the recipes, here ya go:

Easy Homemade Almond Milk
makes about 32oz of milk

1 cup raw almonds
3 1/2 cups water

The night before you want to make your almond milk, put your almonds in a bowl and cover them with filtered water. Let soak overnight. The next day drain the water and rinse your almonds a couple of times with clean water.

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Add the almonds to your blender + 3 1/2 cups filtered water. Blend. Start on low speed and slowly move to the highest speed. It will take a minute or two to get everything blended well.

Over a large bowl, using a “nut milk” bag or mesh strainer with cheesecloth pour the contents of the blender pitcher into the bag or strainer. If using a nut milk bag squeeze the milk out from the top down using your hands. This will take a couple of minutes. If using the strainer method, use a spoon to press down on the almond pulp to extract as much milk as possible.

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Once milk is extracted put the almond pulp in a separate bowl or freezer bag for future use. Pour your now strained almond milk into a jar or covered pitcher. Store in the refrigerator.

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Tips:
* Your almond milk will separate in the fridge so be sure to shake it or stir it before consuming.
** Also, if you prefer your almond milk a little more on the sweet side you can add some sweetener such as maple syrup, raw honey, or stevia to the strained milk and then put in the blender again for a few seconds to blend in the sweetener. I’m sure it would be amazing with a little cinnamon or vanilla extract as well.
***Bonus: Save that almond pulp! Google recipes with almond pulp for some tasty ideas. Nothing goes to waste.

Now for that coffee creamer…

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Almond Joy Coffee Creamer

1 1/2 cup homemade almond milk
1 T cocoa
1 T Coconut cream concentrate
2-3 tsp agave
1 1/2 tsp coconut extract
Dash sea salt

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In a small saucepan over low heat add the homemade almond milk, cocoa, coconut cream concentrate, agave, and dash of sea salt. Whisk constantly until lightly steaming. Remove from heat and whisk in the coconut extract.

Pour your finished creamer into a cute pitcher, or glass jar. Store in the fridge.

* To make your coffee: Pour a healthy amount of the creamer into your coffee cup, about 1/4 cup and top off with strong brewed coffee. For a decadent version, top with whipped cream and shredded coconut! 🙂

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For my new workout: I consulted none other than one of my favorite fitness blogs; Gina @ Fitnessista. Gina has a wealth of fitness knowledge and writes a fantastic blog. Her workouts are always fun, and challenging. I picked a quick 15 minute whole body workout and it got my heart pumping and I got a good, quick sweat. Gina is inspiring. In fact, she’s writing a book of quick, effective workouts and healthy recipes to fuel your workouts that comes out next year. It’s on my “must buy” list.
You should really check out her blog The Fitnessista

Now it’s your turn: What did you make from scratch this week? What workout did you try? Did you love it/hate it? What was your favorite part of this weeks’ challenge?

See you later today…fingers crossed for internet, with this week’s meal & fitness plan!

~ Liesl

Workin’ It with A Stability Ball

Hey there! How’s your week going?

I’ve been having a fun week in my kitchen! Coming Friday I’m hoping to have a yummy new recipe to share!

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We haven’t talked too much before about home fitness equipment. While most of you know that I exclusively workout at home, because I literally have no gym within 7 hours of my house, I have not talked much about some of my favorite home workout stuff.

Today I wanted to chat a little about the stability ball; aka Swiss ball, physio-ball, balance ball, etc. There are lots of names for this multi-purpose piece of gym equipment.

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Basically it is a large plastic ball that you can purchase at any sporting goods store, or even Target or Wal-Mart in the fitness section. Stability balls most commonly come in 3 different sizes, which are based on your height.

55cm (for the shorties…basically short to about 5’3″)

65cm (for average height 5’4″ to 5’9″)

75cm(for the tallest among us 5’10” and taller)

Your stability ball will come with a pump and instructions, and possibly even a few workout moves to try with it.

When it comes to working out with a stability ball I love it because:

 1. It Increases Core Strength
You can literally do exercises for each muscle group of your body using a stability ball, and because it is rounded, doing basic resistance moves with it forces you to engage more of your core and body stabilizing muscles than you normally would using a workout bench or other apparatus.

2. You can get a tough workout w/out heavy weights
With using the stability ball you can get a full body workout that is intense without needing heavy weights. Try the workout I’ve included for you at the end of this post; I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

 3. There are TONS of exercises you can do
I won’t go into great detail here, but there are SO many different exercises you can do utilizing the stability ball.

Here are 5 of my absolutely favorites:

 1. Ball Pikes – Hands on the floor, ankles on the ball, with your body in plank position. Using your core roll up into a pike position, then back out to plank.

 2. Hamstring/Glute Curls – Lying on your back with your feet on the ball push your booty up off the floor and using your hamstrings and glutes curl the ball inwards, then slowly back out to the start.

3. One Leg Wall Squats – Placing the stability ball between your back and the wall lift one leg out in front of you a bit lower than hip height. Squat down on the leg which is holding all the weight until your thigh is parallel to the ground, push back up to the start. Repeat on the other leg.

 4. Push-ups -Hands on the floor, legs on the ball, with your body in plank position. Do any type of pushup you please, standard, wide (hands wider than shoulder with) tricep pushups, diamond, whatever your feeling that day. The further back the ball is towards your feet the harder the pushup will be.

*For a challenge: Try these with the “pikes”; pushup, pike up, pushup, pike up…etc…killer.

 5. Weighted oblique ups – Place your feet against a wall, left in front of right with your left hip resting on the stability ball. Hold the weight to your chest with arms crossed. Lean your left shoulder down over the ball and then using your obliques lift up until your obliques are engaged fully. Lower and repeat. Once your set is done repeat on the other side.

Ah…it was hard to pick just 5 favorites. That’s why I created a simple Stability Ball Workout for you guys to try at home!

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This workout incorporates some of those and a few other exercises, and will be sure to add a fresh feeling to your workout routine. I hope you’ll give it a try!

Plie squat touch & jump (15) –  Holding the stab ball in front of your chest with feet wider than shoulder width apart and toes turned out; squat down and touch the ball to the floor, and jump up lifting the ball above your head.

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Ball Pushups w/or without Pike (10) – Hands on the floor and legs on the ball with your body in the plank position. Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder with apart and do a pushup. Then immediately roll the ball inward keeping you legs straight and shooting your booty up into a pike position. Then come back down and repeat. Pushup, pike, pushup, pike, etc.
*Beginners – try these without the pike.

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<Hamstring curls (15) –  Lying on your back with your feet on the ball push your booty up off the floor and using your hamstrings and glutes curl the ball inwards, then slowly back out to the start.
*Advanced: Try these one leg at a time. Burn that bootay!

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Ball Passes (15) – Lying on your back on the floor hold the ball above your body with your hands and bring your feet into the air to touch the ball. Then extend your body by dropping your arms down by your ears and your legs down to a few inches from the floor. Using your core bring them back up and pass the ball from your hands to your feet. Lower, come up and pass the ball. Each up and down is one rep.
*Beginners: Lower your legs and arms down ONLY until you feel your back starting to arch off the floor, then bring them back up.

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Lateral Lunge w/hold (10 each side) –  With one foot on the ground and the other on the ball roll the ball out until that leg is straight and drop into a lateral lunge with your thigh parallel to the floor. Be careful to make sure you knee doesn’t come out over your toes. Then come back to start. Repeat 10 times, and on the 10th lunge hold the lateral lunge position for a slow 7-10 count. Switch legs.

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Weighted ball crunches (15) -With a light dumbbell held to your chest, feet flat on the floor and lower back on the stability ball, crunch all the way up to a sitting position, and then slowly lower.
*Beginners: Try this without the weight.

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*Compete this workout “circuit style” one exercise after the other with no rest. Once you have complete one round rest 30 seconds and repeat twice more.

There’s a new workout for you to try! Let me know if you do, I’d love to hear how it went for ya. It’s a quickie so it would be a great one to try on a busy day. 🙂

Also, stability balls make excellent desk chairs and are great for your core as they are more unstable than a regular chair and unknowingly you are using your core throughout the day as you work. Just be careful not to roll off while on a conference call or something. 🙂

Have you ever used a stability ball before? What is your favorite exercise on the stability ball?

Own it!

~ Liesl

JSJ Challenge – Week 4

Is this already the 4th week of the Jumpstart January Challenge? Wow…I can’t believe it. January 2014 is almost over. Every year it seems like the time goes by faster.

Disclaimer: I am so sorry this wee’s challenge is not posting until today…Tuesday. But our internet was completely out for two days. Unfortunately I didn’t have it on auto post. However you can still do this week’s challenge. So keep reading!

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For those of you doing the challenge, how are you feeling with starting your year out with some crazy new challenges and activities? One of you commented that you loved the challenge…how it made you feel like you were doing things right. I was so excited to hear this, and pumped to know that you are enjoying the new challenges and the changes you are seeing and feeling in your health and lives. Super cool stuff!

On doing things right, I want you all to know this looks and feels completely different for everyone. And even if you haven’t been able to participate fully in all the challenges that doesn’t mean that you have failed or that you aren’t doing right by your body. Everyone is SO different, and the toughest battle and learning how to listen to your body and make those things that you know work for you into lifestyle habits.

For example in my last post, talking about the Week 3 challenge of keeping a food and fitness journal I talked about my struggles with potassium and iron in my diet. You may be totally sufficient in these areas, but lacking in fiber or other essential nutrients. We all have areas, things in our diets, and fitness routines that need work. And once those are identified the best thing we can do to get “back on track” is to brainstorm how to better ourselves in the areas where we lack. It’s a journey…a long one, in fact a lifetime. Making those healthy changes must become a lifestyle…otherwise it won’t stick. And creating a lifestyle takes time, it will not happen overnight.

So I want to encourage you, do not get down on yourself for skipping a workout, or enjoying that chocolate cupcake at a recent party, or choosing to eat cereal for dinner because you were to lazy to put together a healthy, balanced meal. We have all been there. The important thing is not to look back, but to start fresh every single day with making the best choices we can for our health, and not just for ourselves, but for those we love as well. When we are healthy we have more energy to give in caring for our families, friends, and loved ones. And not only that, but we can silently encourage others to make lasting changes in their lives as well.

With that said, I’m proud of you JSJ Challengers, you are amazing! Sticking to a challenge like this one takes hard work, and dedication. In turn you will get out of it what you have put into it. Thank you for keeping me posted on how you are doing, I’ve been encouraged with your stories, and I’m cheering you on from the mountains of Mexico!!!

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Are you ready for WEEK 4’s CHALLENGE?

This week (1/20 – 1/26), will be a two-fold challenge. Incorporating both fitness and food. Kind of like last week, but with a completely NEW twist.
I’m super excited about this week, because it will take many of us WAY out of our comfort zones. Why? Because Week 4’s challenge is all about just that, challenging yourself. Are you ready for a FUN week?

Here are the deets:

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More info:

1. Make a pantry staple from scratch:
This week you are going to pick a pantry/fridge staple that you use often, and make it from scratch. It must be something that you regularly buy at the store, and have never tried making before.
Here are some ideas: crackers, granola bars, hummus, cereal, granola, nut or oat milk, yogurt, trail mix, soup, oatmeal…the options are endless.
The process will take you some research, but have fun with it. Ask yourself, what is something I’ve always wanted to try making…and challenge yourself to find out how and get in the kitchen and make it. Ah, this is going to be great!

You can check out my recipe page for some ideas, and also here and here for lots of homemade goodies!
I cannot wait to hear about all of your recipes!!

2. Do a “New to you” Workout:
Along with getting your domestic kitchen goddess on you are going to challenge yourself to keep your fitness routine fresh with a completely NEW workout this week.
The only rule is: you have to have never done the workout before…ever.

I have found that with fitness often we like to stay in our comfort zone. We find workouts that we enjoy and that deliver results and we keep doing those workouts every.single.week. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, over time our body adapts. It gets used to our “normal” fitness and we stop seeing results because we are no longer challenging our muscles and keeping our bodies guessing.

So…where can I find fun challenging workouts?
The FitnessintheKitchen workouts+fitness page of course!
Also, this week (contingent on internet connection) I’ll be posting a completely new Stability Ball workout, so be sure to check that out!

In addition here are some other good resources to check out:
The Fitnessista
Nutrition Nut on the Run
CarrotsNCake
Blonde Ponytail
*Reminder – Please check with your doc before making any drastic fitness changes, and as always honor your body, and injuries and modify exercises when you need to.

That’s it!

I’m off to brainstorm what kind of tasty homemade pantry staple we’ll be enjoying this week.
So have fun, and as always, I’m cheering you on! Feel free to comment throughout the week and let me know how things are going. I’ll try and update you as well.

Happy Challenge Week!

~ Liesl

JSJ 2014 Challenge – Week 3 in Review

Hey everybody! I feel like I’ve barely posted this week…which is true. Life just gets busy sometimes.
Whenever I have a house full it seems I’m in the kitchen, A LOT more, and trying to keep up with my weekly duties, keeping the house clean, and visiting with those that come by during the day. Which is quite often.

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Yes, I still have my Christmas decorations up. 🙂

Don’t get me wrong, I love my life. I love being in the kitchen and cooking for others…especially those that are eager to try my experiments. Dairy free, vegan creamy pesto pasta with roasted eggplant and tomatoes? Don’t mind if I do. I think it was a hit with everyone.

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It’s the weekend and now the house is quiet. It’s the two of us again, and it’s good. Hoping for some relaxation this weekend, we’ll see what happens. Without a doubt I know The Lord is always aware of my needs, and gives me the strength to handle what each day brings. So…as always, bring it on.

How was your week? How did Week 3 of the JSJ 2014 Challenge go for ya?

imageWas it hard to keep up with your food and fitness journal from day to day; did you love it/hate it? What did you learn?

While I don’t necessarily like to admit it, I like making lists, and organizing things. I know, I know…..with that said, I kind of loved keeping track of what I ate and my workouts. Plus it was very eye-opening for me to see where my diet is thriving and where it is lacking. Now I know what kind of changes I need to make.

I kept track of my daily eats on MyFitnesspal…which is awesome by the way, and here’s my weekly breakdown:

43% Carboyhydrates
36% Fat
21% Protein

I ate between 1,400- 1,600 calories, 50-60g of fat, 160-180g carbs, 75-80g protein, and about 30g of fiber per day; on average. Not bad, but there are always things to work on.

Observations:

1. Mindful protein consumption – While I eat a decent amount of protein during the day without even thinking…I don’t eat enough. For me to truly get the protein that I feel that my body needs I have to be “mindfully eating” if that makes sense. Thinking as I’m making a dish how much protein it is going to provide my body per healthy serving. Along with that comes mindful snacking. I’ve talked a bit about this before…not grabbing the first quick snack that I see, but rather preparing healthy, balanced, high protein snacks, that I love and that are easy to grab and go on a busy day. Like these raw chia bars.

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I would like my protein consumption to be around the same percentage or higher than my fat, so I’ve got some work to do. Apparently I love me some healthy fats. Hello avocado, almond butter, and olive oil!

2. IRON! – I was severely lacking in iron throughout the week. I’ve had difficulties with iron deficiency before and need to figure out how to get more of it into my diet. Supplements are not an option for me, as they make me sick to my stomach…so this will be an area of investigation in the very near future. Any ideas out there for me?

3. Boost that potassium – Another shocker…I just figured my potassium consumption was a-okay, but apparently not. Who knew? The next coming months I’ll be looking to incorporate some higher potassium foods into my diet.

On a positive note: I was super excited to see that I’m getting plenty of Vitamin A, C, and calcium. Awesome! I may even quit my calcium supplement that I thought I needed. Holler for saving money!

On Fitness:
I don’t know if it was because I was documenting things or what…but I stuck to my fitness plan like glue this week. I won’t lie, I feel amazing. I feel energized and ready for another week of amazing workouts, healthy eats, and LIFE!

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Overall the food and fitness journaling was an incredible experiment and I learned a ton. I hope you did too.

Since this post is SO long I’m planning to post Week 4’s challenge tomorrow, so stay tuned!

How did Week 3 go for you? Did you enjoy keeping a food & fitness journal? What did you learn about your diet routine? What did you learn about your fitness? How did you feel overall?

Can’t wait to hear about it!

See you tomorrow!
~ Liesl