Monday, October 20, 2014

Home Workout Vs. the Gym

Cardio versus weight lifting…
Resistance bands versus dumb bells…
Treadmill versus elliptical…

Home gym versus the gym?

There are so many different comparisons when it comes to health and fitness- especially when it comes to health and fitness, actually. I find that people (myself included) can get very passionate about it, because it truly does transform you from the inside out. God has used my health and fitness journey in much bigger ways than I ever expected.

But today I wanted to tackle the age-old (well, not that old) question of the home gym or home workout versus the gym, and why I choose to work out at home. Please do note that this is my opinion, and while it is the perfect fit for me, I know that every one of us is different, and different things work for different people.

My goal in this post is to encourage those that may be in the same place that I was not even a year ago, and let them know that there IS indeed hope for change.

Let me begin by saying that I tried SO many different things in the past for health and fitness. I tried two at home workout programs, did them for a while and stopped. I had a gym membership. I took group classes through college. I walked. I ran. Nothing stuck.

But now I have been going strong for nine whole months, only missing a few days of workouts due to being sick. And let me tell you, that is huge coming from someone who never was consistent in working out. So why do I choose to workout at home and not at the gym? Let me paint a picture for you of what going to the gym was like for me.

1.    Paying monthly was a huge drawback for me. My budget was tight then, and still can be now. Some gym memberships were cheaper, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of monthly payments…I have enough of those as it is.
2.    I did enjoy group classes. Let me hit on one positive note- I did enjoy the group kickboxing class that I took! I was in it with a few friends, which made it even better. A group atmosphere gets me going for sure.
3.    I felt ashamed. I’ve always been overweight, and when I went into the gym I felt like I was surrounded by incredibly fit people and that all they would see was the way my stomach and arms seemed to bulge out as I ran on the treadmill.
4.    I was really intimidated. Outside of the group class, I really had no idea what to do in the gym. Of course there was always the treadmill, but in my mind I thought “if I’m just going to run, I can do that for free outside.” I didn’t know how to use the equipment, and I didn’t want to wait in line for the equipment either. This led to random awkward crunches, sit ups and leg lifts in the corner.
5.    I never got results. I may have lost a pound or two from my kickboxing class, but I gained all the weight right back after. No results or motivation ever stuck.
6.    I had no direction in the gym. Because I wasn’t sure how to use the equipment, and I hadn’t taken the time to learn about how to work my body properly, I wandered aimlessly around the gym from machine to machine, never fully being able to get into it.
7.    It was time consuming just to get to and from the gym. Never mind the time actually “working out” I had to get ready, get in the car, drive there, park, work out, come back, drive back home. It led for a long excursion, and a lot of times I talked myself out of it.

These were a few of the big reasons why I moved away from using a gym and to working out at home. Of course, gyms are not evil places. I am ALL FOR people getting fit, healthy, and growing in their lives. We desperately need people to consider their health more than ever in this country.

But, as with most things, one size doesn’t fit all. Gyms are not for everyone, just like home workouts may not be for everyone. The important thing is that people are getting active in their lives and being intentional about getting results, and getting healthy. If you are getting results, keep going! If not, stop and consider if what you are doing is working or not.

So since I ditched the gym, and started getting healthy in February, I began doing workouts at home with different programs. And let me tell you, that is definitely my sweet spot. Here are a few reasons why home workouts were perfect for me.

1.    I can roll out of bed and workout. I don’t have to get ready, I can just put workout clothes on, walk into my living room and push play, before my brain knows what I’m doing and I try to talk myself out of it.
2.    I have guidance from some of the top trainers. There are a lot of people who have heard of people like Shaun T (creator of Insanity), Tony Horton (creator of P90X), and Chalene Johnson (creator of TurboFire and motivational speaker). I get to train with them every day through these programs. I get their guidance and motivation every day, and let me tell you, it ROCKS.
3.    I only pay once for my program, and I can use it however many times I want to achieve the results that I need. This is a big one for me, because while investing in a fitness program may seem like a lot at first, if you break the cost down to compare the price over a year, you will be paying less “per month” than what you would be paying per month for the year at the gym…and, let’s be honest…are you going every day? If you are, PROPS! Keep rocking it! I know for me, I started strong and ended horribly. So the cost is well worth it to me, because I can use the program over and over again!
4.    The programs actually get me incredible results. Since February I have lost over 35 pounds and am still going. I feel so much more energy and life than I did when I started, and I am stronger. These programs actually work, and I’m keeping consistent with it!
5.    I get to workout in the comfort of my own home. No one is watching me, judging or wondering what the heck I’m doing (except maybe the downstairs neighbor). I can be awkward if I want, and no one cares!
6.    I have incredible motivation and support from challenge groups. Every month I am blown away by the motivation and support of those I lead in challenge groups. They keep me going, and I work in turn to pay it forward to them!

If you’re curious about what some of the home workout programs are that I do, comment or message me and we can chat about it, and see if there is something that would be a great fit for you! I would love to help you reach YOUR own goals and see health in your own life!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Save Time With Meal Mapping

We’ve all heard about the benefits of meal planning and creating a plan. How if you don’t make a plan, you are planning to fail. And while that may indeed be true (I know it has happened in my life), I do understand that life is BUSY. We are on the go. We have places to go, people to see and things to do.

But that doesn’t mean your health has to take a back seat! Recently while I was researching some new ideas to share with my challenge groups, I came across a pretty stellar idea for meal planning called “meal mapping.”

My organized, detail oriented brain revolted at the idea at first. But after I shared it with my group and the more I thought about it, the I thought, hey, this could actually be really great.

So what is meal mapping? Well, to the detail oriented person, it can look a little like chaos at first. It’s just a different method of meal planning with a little more flexibility and a little less rigidity.

What you do is grab a pen and paper. Got it? Now. Write down seven dinner ideas on this paper that you want to have for the week. Just anywhere you want on the paper. Scatter it around, write it in a circle, or even in a line if you want.

The idea is to write down your main dinner ideas, and from there you can pick and choose which dinner you want to create that night, thus allowing for more flexibility in your planning. You are still planning for all of your meals, but they aren’t restricted to a certain day.

I have tried this method for the past three weeks, and really enjoy it! Since we use our dinner leftovers for lunch the next day, this was a great idea. We also tend to rotate through the same breakfasts or snacks throughout the week, so not much additional planning was needed there. Dinner was always the big one, and one that did change sometimes.

I got tired of creating lots of lines and filling in the box, so I gave this a whirl and it’s worked out great! I also create a little section that I entitle “breakfast” where I put our breakfast options to rotate through, Shakeology, smoothies, muffins, omelets, and maybe even a special pancake breakfast for Zach. I also create a little spot for snacks, and write down things like: veggies with hummus, smoothies, yogurt. This allows for proper planning, but flexibility!

So, if you are looking for a new way to meal plan, or just getting started with meal planning, give meal mapping a try! It’s simple, easy, and flexible. Take your biggest meal of the day and plan around those. For us, that was dinner, because we got our lunches from that as well, but it can vary from person to person. Or you could try meal mapping for all three meals of the day if you want something different!

What’s your favorite way to meal plan?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

5 Easy Ways to Clean Up Your Diet

Clean eating can get a bad rap sometimes it seems. Eating of course is something very vital and essential in our daily lives, so people are naturally going to have an opinion about it, and have strong habits formed in their lives around what and how they eat.

No matter which way you dice it, eating as a whole in America has gone downhill. A lot of food is heavily processed, laden with extra sugar, filled with chemicals and refined flours and ingredients. There’s not a lot of natural, whole food that is in the average person’s diet these days.

But, the good news is that there is hope, and a better way to eat without breaking the bank. There’s a way to cut back on the processed food, sugars and refined flours without taking away from the good foods you eat (in fact you’ll improve them), get more nutrients and most importantly feel better because you are eating better.

You don’t have to go cold turkey with entering clean eating. Of course you can, but it can be easy to get frustrated and give up that way the first time you are offered a delicious, cheesy, greasy pizza. Finding small, simple substitutions and slowly adding things into your diet will help you clean up your eating.

1.    Start adding in a new vegetable. Whether it is carrots, red bell peppers with hummus, or spinach in your morning omelet, find ways to add in just one more serving of veggies a day. It is so important to get your veggies, so start just by adding one more serving a day.

(Get a serving of veggies in with a fun recipe like cauliflower out for the recipe soon!)

2.    Switch your regular pasta with Whole Wheat pasta. It’s a simple switch, and still can sometimes be tricky, but whole wheat pasta is going to be better for you than pasta made with refined white flour.

3.    Make a smoothie! Whether it’s for breakfast or a snack, or dessert, try adding smoothies into your diet! It’s a great way to get your fruit (and even veggie) servings in every day, and it can help with your sweet tooth.

4.    Try a veggie substitution recipe. By that I mean try making spaghetti squash instead of noodles (so good!), or making a cauliflower crust for your pizza, or making baked eggplant lasagna instead of traditional lasagna. There are a ton of recipes out there that show you how to incorporate veggies into your diet.

5.    Stay away from sugar. It may be hard, but it will help your diet so much. The less you have it, the less you will crave it, and the more energy you will have over time! Look at the labels of food you are eating before you buy it and stay away from things with added sugar.

These are just a very few simple ways you can start cleaning up your diet! Consistent effort and work at looking at what you are eating will help you in so many ways. You will have more energy, tone up, and just feel better! Your body will start to crave the good stuff, and it turns into a great cycle for your life.

What’s your favorite way to clean up your diet?

About Me

My name is Sarah Cason (I thought it was about time to do an updated "about me" since I am living in a new place and am married now!), I'm 26 years old and call Atlanta, Georgia home. I recently got married to my best friend, the love of my life, Zach Cason on December 15, 2013.

I am firstly a follower of Christ. My faith and my relationship with the Creator is my number one passion and priority in my life. From it, everything flows outward in my life. My greatest desire in life is to make His name known and to help expand His Kingdom with the gifts and talents that He has given me. He is constantly growing me and drawing me into His heart and His plans for my life, and I am eternally thankful.

My other biggest passions in life are marriage, art, coaching, cooking, and being creative. My heart and passion are all threaded through these main themes of my life, and if you know me you will see that these are things I am extremely passionate about.

On a daily basis you can find me....spending quiet time with the Lord, spending quality time with my husband (doing silly things or serious things), cooking new recipes, coaching others in health and fitness and life, investing in my own health journey, and being creative. 

Spending quiet time with the Lord and really trying to find balance in my life and make an impact in this world.

Cooking and learning new recipes! My hubby really appreciates this most days, although there have been a few mishap recipes thrown in there!

Speaking of my hunk...I am blessed to spend quality time every day with this wonderful man, and learn daily how to love him better! Marriage is the most beautiful, hard thing.

Investing in my own health. I started my journey to getting healthy in February 2014, and haven't stopped yet! 

Investing in the lives of others through my home business of coaching health and fitness groups. It's a fantastic way of paying it forward and encouraging others as they change their lives!

Through this blog my goal is to encourage you. To build you up, give you ideas and enrich your life! Whether you are a married couple looking for encouragement and ideas, or an artist that loves to admire all things creative, or a person in need of encouragement and direction in your life through coaching, or a mom looking for a healthy new recipe to feed your family, my desire is to use my creativity to add value to your life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out and contact me with any questions you have, or if you just need someone to talk to! I love hearing from you, and can't wait to get to know you more! 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Black Bean Brownies

Warm, gooey, chocolaty goodness. I am not sure I know a lot of people (even those who don’t like chocolate that much) that don’t enjoy a good brownie every once in a while. The problem? Usually they’re loaded down with refined white flour and white sugar, and can easily wreck your good diet.

The solution? Something that seems a little strange and unconventional but is absolutely delicious and amazing. And it won’t completely derail your diet like regular brownies will.

What is the secret ingredient? Black beans!

No flour to be found here in this recipe! Just eight easy ingredients that are a much better swap for their counterparts heavy refined ingredients. They whip up in no time flat, and bake to perfection!

Give these delicious black bean brownies a try…you won’t be sorry!

Black Bean Brownies

1 15oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 large eggs
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2/3 cup honey
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of Salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips, divided

1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.     Put all ingredients (except for chocolate chips) into a food processor (or blender) and blend until it’s smooth.
3.     Pour batter into a large bowl, mix in ½ cup of chocolate chips.
4.     Grease a 8x8 inch baking pan, and pour batter in.
5.     Top with remaining ¼ cup of chocolate chips.
6.     Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
7.     Cool and cut, then store in the fridge!
8.     Eat and enjoy the delicious, clean brownies!

You can also add a few drops of peppermint extract around the holidays for a tasty peppermint chocolate experience! I haven’t experimented with nuts or other additional add ins, but give it a try and let me know!

So, who’s going to try this black bean brownie recipe??