Chocolate Chia Breakfast Pudding w/ Strawberries

Recently I’ve re-kindled my love for chia pudding.

It’s incredibly easy to make, and a fantasticly portable breakfast to take with you on the go, to work, to an early class or other commitment. Chia seeds are loaded with healthy fats, protein, and fiber, and made into a pudding make for a breakfast that will keep you full and away from those tempting Valentines treats that you know will be lurking in the break room.image

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This chocolate version with berries is a little decadent for everyday (at least for me), but it is Valentines week after all so I deemed it worthy! And served in these adorable heart-shaped ramekins, a gift from my mother in law last year, what’s not to “love.”

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Chocolate Chia Breakfast Pudding w/Strawberries
(Serves 1)
1/2 c almond milk (or milk of choice)
2 Tbsp chia seeds
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp almond butter
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp pure maple syrup
tiny pinch sea salt
3-4 whole strawberries, sliced thin

In bowl, or glass jar combine the almond milk, and chia seeds. Stir until combined. Then add the cocoa powder, almond butter, vanilla, maple syrup, and sea salt. Give the entire mixture a good whisking for about 1-2 minutes.
Refrigerate overnight. (I think it would only need about 30min-1hour, but I haven’t tried it that way.)image

In the morning top your pudding with sliced strawberries, and sprinkle of shredded coconut and some chocolate chips if it’s Valentines Day! 😉

Dig in…or eat like a dainty Valentine…whichever you prefer, but mine’s already gone. 🙂

~ Liesl

Finish February Fit Challenge – Week 3

Hey Friends!

How was your Valentines Day? Mine was fun, and relaxed. The hubby gave me beautiful flowers and beaded earrings made by my little 14 year old neighbor.image

We celebrated with a dinner of grilled chicken, tasty grilled veggies and sweet potato around a crackling bonfire in our back yard.

A little of this banana blueberry softserve was consumed for dessert…and I’d be withholding information if I didn’t say it was fabulous bathed in some melted dark chocolate. 🙂image

In other news…we are into the 3rd week of our Finish Feb Fit Challenge! I can’t believe it.

If you are just reading about the challenge or getting a later start here’s what we did for Week’s 1 & 2:

Week 1 – HIIT
Week 2 – High Rep

For those of you doing the challenge currently, I want to encourage you to stay strong. It’s the 3rd week and I know you’ve been pushing yourself mentally and physically. Only two weeks to go, so keep up the excellent work, and push strong through through the next two weeks.

When planning for this week’s challenge the fact that I will be traveling came into play. We will be on the road for 22 hours, one way, and then back. Ugh…I know.
Staying active and fit is HARD when you are traveling, all the odds seem to be against you, and there is always an excuse for not getting in a workout. But, this is not my story. I’m ready to hit this challenge hard with you guys no matter what adjustments I may have to make to get my workouts in. 🙂

So…what’s the challenge?image

Bodyweight workouts!!

I LOVE bodyweight workouts because they FUN, versatile, and can be done virtually anywhere… in a small hotel room, a local park, a parking lot, basketball court, open field, driveway, kitchen, wherever…no excuses! 😉

Usually I incorporate at least one “bodyweight only” workout into my routine every week. Bodyweight workouts encourage you to use and practice good form, and allow you to push yourself to a new level because you aren’t hefting weights. You can challenge yourself by pushing your exercises to failure, adding in holds, plyometics, and cardio bursts to really burn out those muscles.

Also, bodyweight workouts are super fun and easy to create. All you need is a few exercises, an open space, and 15-20 minutes and you can pump out an amazing workout.

Here are some of my favorite bodyweight exercises:

1. Burpee – Squat down placing your hands securely on the floor on the outsides of your feet. Jump your feet together back to pushup position, core tight, back flat, no saggy tummy, or booty in the air. Jump your feet back to the start and jump up into the air reaching your arms over head.
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*Looking for a new challenge? Try one of these variations.

2. Prisoner Squat – Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, toes slight turned out and hands placed lightly behind your head, elbows out. Slowly lower back and down into a squat, almost like you are sitting back into a chair. Lower until your thighs are parallel to the floor and then push through your legs back to the start. Be careful you knees never come out over your toes when you squat.

3. Pushups – With hands shoulder width apart securely on the floor, and legs together toes on the ground behind you, back straight, booty level, no saggy tummy; bending your elbows lower your body down until your chest is just a few inches from the ground. Push up to the start.
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*Rockin’ your pushups like a fitness goddess…try, a variation of the pushup: military, diamond, incline, plyo pushups are all challenging in a new way.
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4. Walking or Jumping Lunges – Basic lunge position shown below. Stepping forward perform a lunge on your right leg, push back to the start and moving forward like you are walking, lunge on your left leg.
Jumping lunges, from a stand jump straight up into the air and scissor your legs landing lightly in a lunge position. Immediately spring upwards, scissor your legs in the air again and land in a lunge on the opposite leg.
Backwards lunge (left)

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5. Plank (and all it’s variations) –
High PlankLow side plank
 

6. Box, Bench, Jumps – Find a bench, stair, or step that is stable. Stand in front of it and using your legs spring up into the air coming down to land on the step with soft knees. Keep your core engaged throughout the movement. Immediately spring down of the step back to the ground.
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7. Pistol Squats – Stand holding your arms straight out in front of your body, and raise your right leg, flexing your right ankle and pushing your hips back. Then lower your body standing only on your left leg, while keeping the right leg raised. Hold (yes, I know it hurts) then return to standing.
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*When first trying these I used a low bench to squat down on. Then as I got stronger I used a chair with my hand on the back of it to help me keep good form. Now I can do a few on my own.
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However, if you are a beginner, this is an advanced move and I recommend mastering the squat first. 

8. Handstands – Being a former gymnast I love the handstand as a whole body, bodyweight exercise. If you are just starting out please don’t try this without someone spotting you. If, you have strong upper body strength try kicking up to a handstand against a wall. Or if you’ve conquered the wall handstand, try kicking up to a full handstand, just make sure you know how to fall, and are on soft grass or a well cushioned area. Do not do this move on a hard surface.image

Handstand a piece of cake? Try handstand pushups. Use a wall or spotter until you have mastered the move.

9. Mountain Climbers – Great for your core, legs, and for a boost of cardio. Start in pushup position, arms straight, back flat, legs together resting on your toes, and no sagging bellies. Bring your left knee into your chest, and put it back, then your right. Do this quickly like you are moving quickly and efficiently up a mountain. You can also add a pushup after you bring each knee in once. This adds intensity to the exercise.
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10. Tuck Jumps – Stand up straight, arms at your sides, as you jump straight into the air, bring your knees up to your chest, and try to extend them as you come down to land. Keep soft knees upon landing. Avoid kicking your heels back to kick your butt when you jump, your want your knees up. These are great tacked onto a burpee, or as a burner after a series of squat jumps.
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Excuse the cute little photo bombin’ pooch.

Those are just a few of my favorites…but there are many more.

Feel free to use some of these bodyweight moves to put together your own workouts, or there are some great bodyweight workouts on my fitness/workout page as well.

Plus, Monday I’ll be posting a new (to me!) bodyweight workout, to keep things fresh and fun for this weeks challenge. So be sure to come and check that out!

Have a lovely Valentines Weekend!

~ Liesl

Treats for Your Valentine

Looking for how to celebrate Valentines Day this year? Me too. 🙂???????????????????????????????
That’s my Valentine. Jealous? Thought so.

This Valentines look no further for yummy & healthy Valentines Day treat ideas. I have rounded up a few recipes that I’m bookmarking for this year, and future V-days. Plus, I’ve included a few tasty-sounding brunch recipes, that would make for a fun breakfast in bed to surprise your Valentine!

Sweet Stuff:

Vegan Chocolate Blackberry Fudge Cake by Green Kitchen Stories

Chocolate Dipped Oranges by Eat Live Run

Molten Chocolate Cakes by Love & Lemons

Raw Chocolate Tart by The Fitnessista

Yogurt Lemon Cake w/some fresh berries perhaps by Ina Garten

Valentine Rawlos by My New Roots

Chocolate Cherry Brownies by 101Cookbooks

Brunch…or breakfast in bed:

Pear & Hazelnut Muffins by Sprouted Kitchen

Chocolate Nutmeg Cake Donuts by Love & Lemons

Butternut Squash & Pecan Pancakes by Pinch of Yum

Cranberry Lemon Oat Waffles w/Cranberry Compote by Edible Perspective

or from my own archives:

Blueberry Nutmeg Mini Scones
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Cran Orange Mango Smoothies
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Pumpkin Cream Cheese Coffeecake???????????????????????????????

& to top it all off…make the love of your life Almond Joy Coffee Creamer to spice up their morning cup of joe!
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Have fun creating new memories with your Valentine this year!

~ Liesl

High “Reppin” Workout + Meal Ideas

Happy Sunday! What’s on your schedule today?

Meal & fitness planning? I hope so…because I have a quick, effective High Rep workout to share with you!

I did the workout yesterday, and it was a really fun change of pace from my usual strength routine. And it was challenging! Which is always awesome. 🙂 I warmed up for 5 minutes, and then did the entire workout, 1 circuit, took me just about 14 minutes. So…it’s a quick one…great for those days when you want something intense, but don’t have much time!

This week I’ve challenged you all to 2-3 High Repetition workouts…to shake up your routines, and give you a fresh outlook on how to train! Are you ready?

Here’s the workout:

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Instructions:
*Warm up – 5 minutes of dynamic movements + some stretching
* Complete the entire workout, all 6 exercises, for 50 reps each with no rest, for time.
Focus on keeping your form strong, and using your entire body for each movement especially your core muscles.
You are doing this workout for time, so move quickly, but as I said above do not sacrifice your form.
* Once you’ve completed the workout, cool down.

Equipment:
– set of light weights (I would recommend 5lbers for beginners, if you are more advanced, try 10s or 15s)

The Exercises:
1. Dumbbell Swings
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2. Pushups
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3. Deadlift & Press
Keep your back straight and knees slightly bent as you go into the deadlift. Pull through your glutes to bring yourself up and at the same time using your legs and core to swing the weights to shoulder height. Then push them overhead into a press.
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4. Half Burpee Get Up
Squat down, hands on your weights which are on the floor on either side of your feet. Jump your feet back into a pushup position and then jump them back forward. Bring the weights with you as you use your legs, glutes, & core to stand up..
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5. Narrow Squat Thruster
Feet exactly shoulder width apart squat down holding the weights at shoulder height. Push through your legs to stand and push the weights up overhead.
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6. Russian Twists 
Balance on your booty, legs up, core tight, back flat. Hold your weight in front of you. Using your abs quickly rotate from side to side tapping the weight to the floor. A tap on each side = 1 rep.
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Tips:
*If you are new to high intensity workouts, take it easy and listen to your body. If you need to take a break, step back from your exercise, count to 5 and then start again to finish your reps.
* Also, if you are really feelin’ it…like you can’t finish your 50 reps, drop your weight down and finish your set with a lighter weight.
* Modify the exercises if needed. For example, start your pushups on the floor, and move to the edge of the couch, or to a wall pushup to finish your set.
* If you are a more advanced gym goer, complete the entire workout, rest 1-2 minutes, and then move through the circuit a 2nd time. Try to beat your first round’s time!!

Also you can modify any of your favorite workouts to be high repetition workouts. So be creative and if you come up with an amazing workout I’d love to hear about it!

Have fun!

This weekend I didn’t do a whole lot of meal prep because we are leaving for a road trip to do VISA paperwork in about 10-12 days. So, we’ll be doing our best to finish up all the fresh goodies we have and some things in the freezer as well.

Here are some healthy meal ideas for the week:image

Vegetarian Quinoa Chili (leftovers from the freezer=5 minute dinner)

Smoked Paprika Chicken Salad

Vegetarian Fried Rice

Veggie Pita Pizzas

Grilled Chicken & Zucchini w/ roasted veg salad
(probably our Valentines meal…)

And…I’m trying out a new to me bread recipe, I’ll have to let you know how it goes. 🙂

What’s on your menu this week? What are you doing for Valentines Day? Share your recipes, pretty please! 😉

Also if you try the workout, let me know what you thought in the comments.

Have a great week!
~ Liesl

Finish February Fit Challenge – Week 2

It’s the weekend!! Anyone have fun plans?

Given that next weekend is Valentines weekend you may be staying in, saving dough for a sweet date night with your significant other. 🙂 I know that is what I would be doing if I lived somewhere were there were places to go on a date. I’m trying to brainstorm a fun idea for our Valentines out here, but nothing yet.


I’m actually not much of a roses girl…or flowers for that matter. The thought is always sweet, but a quiet night in, cooking together, making homemade lattes, and watching a movie, or sitting around a crackling bonfire just talking. I’ll take that anyday.

Well…week 1 of the Finish Feb Fit Challenge is officially over. Whew…3 HIIT workouts, it was a tough week!

What are you thoughts? Did you enjoy doing some intense, heart pumpin’ workouts? What did you learn about your ability to push yourself even when you didn’t think you could?

I know you may not think it reading my blog, but I wimp out sometimes. Granted, I strongly believe that if you put on your workout clothes, head to the gym, and hit the weights or treadmill for 10 minutes and just aren’t feeling it…then you should listen to your body, give it rest, and call it an intuitive victory.

But that’s not wimping out…and that’s not what I’m talking about here.

I guess a better way to word it is I stop before I need to. When doing pushups to exhaustion, am I truly exhausted when I drop to my knees after 20…nope. And I know it. It’s the mental block that we all have, when the pain begins to set in we don’t realize that mentally we CAN finish the set, or run that 1/2 mile more, and we quit…before we challenge ourselves and clench a fitness victory. Both physical & mental.

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So I hope that Week 1 of the challenge helped to push you a bit out of that comfort zone, and into a new realm of confidence in your fitness and what your body can do.

Okay…now for Week 2!

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High Rep, wha?

My idea behind the Finish Feb Fit Challenge was to expose you all to some possibly “new to you” methods of working out, and encourage you to change your body, “fitness-wise” by challenging it in new ways. And not just for the month of February, but these workouts/challenges are great things to put in your fitness arsenal for when your fitness routine needs a little “shaking up.”

So High Reps…what’s the deal?

The basic idea: 
High reps, using a lighter weight for more reps will shock your red & grey muscle fibers, the fibers that respond in strength & endurance movements, more than they normally would in lets say your typical 3 sets 15 reps resistance routine. 

In a high rep workout you will be doing a serious of exercises – for example 6 exercises for 50 reps or more each exercise. You may be asking, “why not just do more sets?” “Like 5 sets of 20 reps for example.” The reason being, 20 reps may only require about 20-40 seconds of work, while a 50-70 rep set will envoke a completely different type of exercise response which doesn’t take place until after your body has been working for more than 45 seconds. This changes the body’s energy systems over to the “lactic acid cylcle” which you can read more about here.  

How often should I do a high rep workout: Because a high rep workout can be physically demanding you should make sure that you are listening to your body and taking rest days between your training days. Your body will need that time to recover because you will be “sore sauce.”

However, you know your body better than anyone and while 2-3 high rep days a week might be great for some, once every 2 weeks might be better for others. The only way you will know what works for you is to try it. And that is what this week’s challenge is for.

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During week 1 you tried HIIT training, and I hope you enjoyed it and felt energized…I know I do when I HIIT. 🙂

Now this week, week 2, we are going to be incorporating high rep days into our routines. Which I’m hoping for most of you will be a new, fresh, and exciting way to train your body.

And as always, honor your body and your injuries. Modify workout moves when you need to, and take rest days. Be smart, and use common sense. Also, keep it clean in the kitchen…image

…because none of us want to be working our bootys off in the gym, and have nothing to show for it. It takes both clean eating, and exercise to see results.

See you tomorrow with a High Rep Workout for you to do this week, plus yummy meal ideas!

~ Liesl

5 Things Friday

It’s Friday and I thought it would be fun to share with you “5 things” that I’ve been loving lately.

Sometimes I get some of my best new ideas and inspirations from reading other blogs…my hope is that you’ll discover something like that here.

Happy Friday!!

5 Things – I’m Lovin’ Lately

1. Turmeric – Lately I’ve been a turmeric kick. I add it to eggs, veggie burgers, lentils, and sauces. In fact, I’ve made two batches now of turmeric, tahini, and yogurt dressing, which is delicious on pretty much everything.

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Here is some info on why you may want to add turmeric to your diet too.

2. Dates – There is nothing like a full, plump medjool date with a cup of coffee to kill a sugar craving. Yes…I know, dates have sugar…their natural sugar. And seriously, one of these little guys is all I need every few days and I don’t crave other sweets.image

3. Bonfires – Cool night air, millions of stars, a cup of hot tea in hand, feeling the warmth of a crackling hot fire, and evening with my best friend. Need I say more. 

4. Smoothies – February, not necessarily when most people crave a cool, refreshing smoothie, but I’ll take one year round as long as I can chase it down with a steaming mug of coffee.
Made this tasty Green Smoothie this morning.image– 2 bananas, 1/2 avocado, 1 ripe mango, 1 kiwi, juice of 1 lime, 1 stalk celery, 3 cups spinach, 2 cups almond milk, 2 T ground flax seed, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder. Blend until smooth. – Serves 2
Top with almond butter, hemp seeds, or shredded coconut. Mmmm….

If you’ve been skeptical to try a green smoothie, try this recipe, it will ease you in. 🙂

5. Truth – Been hearing about SheReadsTruth for some time. Finally jumped on board this year…and it’s been great. Amazing daily reminders of who God is, who I am, the victory He’s already won, and the faithfulness that He asks of me as I walk with Him. Real ladies all over the globe walking with Jesus. Super cool.

What are you loving lately?

I’m also loving the Finish February Fit Challenge. Check out Week 2’s Challenge here tomorrow!

~ Liesl

Checkin’ In

Hey! Just wanted to check in real quick with you guys and see how the first week of the Finish February FIT Challenge is going!imageHow’s your HIIT week been? Did you find some awesome HIIT workouts to try? Have you felt like you are pushing your limits, getting some where with your fitness? Who has tried the Feb Fit HIIT workout?

It’s been a little bit of “sore city” for me this week. Between trying out the Feb Fit HIIT, running, strength and other HIIT workouts…I’ve felt it. We’ll just say that.

On Sunday Pete and I did the Feb Fit HIIT together…it was a good workout. Short, sweet, effective. Just over 30 minutes, including the warm-up.

This morning I did an upper body HIIT which was a tag team of cardio + strength intervals which included a lot of pushups, pullups, and hitting some heavier weights for my chest and back. Good stuff.imageAll in all, considering it’s only Wednesday and I feel like I’ve gotten in some pretty quality workouts.

What about you…has it been fun to get some HIIT in…or has it been a struggle? How have you felt? Have you found the HIIT workouts to be energizing? Has your hunger been raging?

I know whenever I kick up the intensity, I’m ravenous…like all.day.

Which leads me to the kitchen…where the other day I whipped up this healthy, quick and energizing snack. Which is SO easy to make!imageAll you do is grab a non-stick skillet and add: 1 c raw walnuts, 1.5 c raw almonds, 1 c raw sunflower seeds, 1.5 c raw pumpkin seeds, 1 Tbsp braggs liquid aminos, 1 Tbsp sesame oil, 2 tsp smoked paprika, 1/2-1 tsp cayenne, 2 tsp granulated garlic, & a little sea salt. Stir everything up, until the nuts and seeds are well coated.

Turn your stove burner on medium to low heat, and constantly stir until the mixture is fragrant and the nuts and seeds start to look a little dry. Turn off heat, let cool, and store in a air tight container. Yum!image

Have you been keeping it clean in the kitchen? Any yummy recipes I just HAVE to try?

Let me know how it’s going mmkay. 🙂

Happy Wednesday!
~ Liesl