Wednesday, February 25, 2015

21 Day Fix Extreme Meal Plan

By now you have probably seen me talk about the new program, the 21 Day Fix Extreme. I have been previewing the workouts and love them, they are challenging me and pushing me to my core mentally and physically, which I love. I have also been getting into the meal plan for the 21 Day Fix as well!

Like it's predecessor, the 21 Day Fix Extreme uses portion control containers to help you maximize your nutrition and get the best results possible. Plus it is an incredibly sustainable and healthy way to eat all around, because you are nourishing your body with what it needs- key nutrients and food groups!

I began my exclusive 21 Day Fix Extreme Test Group this week, and we are all working on preparing our meal plans for these 21 days. I can't even convey just how excited I am to go through this program with this group of incredible ladies. I can't wait to see our results at the end of this 21 days together!

For those of you that are new to the 21 Day Fix and the 21 Day Fix Extreme, or you just want ideas, I wanted to share my own meal plan for these 21 days with you! Your meal plan does not have to look like mine, this is just what I enjoy eating and what works for our family with budget and time!

Take a look and feel free to pull any recipes or ideas you like from it! I have included the container count below each meal for my "fellow fixers" reference as to what the whole day looks like in containers!

And as always, if you have any questions, want ideas, want to know what the 21 Day Fix and Fix Extreme is all about, please do not hesitate to ask! I plan on also leading a second exclusive 21 Day Fix test group in the middle of March, so keep your eyes peeled for more information on that, or contact me to find out the details!

Happy meal planning!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Hitting the Wall

It happens to all of us. In a lot of different areas of life, too. Sometimes it is easy to spot, other times it comes upon us gradually, and then we find ourselves with it smack dab in front of our face, and looming up above us.

The proverbial "wall."

We all hit it at one point or another and in different ways. It can be in your job, in learning, in relationships, and especially in health and fitness.

Here's the rub, though. Hitting a wall is not the end of the world. Is it not an excuse to call it quits. Hitting a wall simply means we need to try something new and break through it.

Yes, hitting a wall is hard. There is no denying that. I can't count how many walls I have hit in so many different areas of my life over the years. But the key I have found, especially as we are talking today with health and fitness, is to keep going.

I have been on this journey for a year now. It blows my mind. And while I have absolutely been consistent (for the first time ever with fitness), I have still had my ups and downs, and hit my share of walls.

I hit a wall when I first started because I was working out, but not eating right. So I stopped, changed it up and got us eating right. I hit plateaus and walls with my fitness. I hit a wall when I realized I was still eating out of boredom and emotions. I hit a wall and opened my eyes when I was eating way too many carbs for my own good in one day.

Has this stopped me? No. My advice? Realize what's happening, and move on. I want to share a few more tips with you today too, but I want to first make sure you know that you are not alone when you hit a wall. It is normal and happens to all of us! What dictates your success or failure is what you do when you get to that wall.

So. You're here with the rest of us, and you've hit that wall. Now what? That bag of potato chips and that batch of brownies are looking like a might fine option right now aren't they? Well stick with me just a little bit more.

1. Recognize that you hit a wall. Admitting that you have is OKAY. Good, even. Admit it to yourself, and...

2. MOVE ON. I heard a really great analogy that has since stuck with me. When you blow a tire, or it goes flat, what do you do? Do you go around and slash all three other tires because one has failed? No. You replace the one. Same thing when you hit a wall. You replace it and move on. How do you do that?

3. Physically go somewhere new. It doesn't have to be far, it could be somewhere you have been before. But get out of your normal physical space and go somewhere new. There is something that can shift inside when you take yourself to a new place.

4. Change things up. DO something new. It could be a one time hike you take with your family, or taking a new way home from work, or finding a new recipe to cook. Doing something new can help push you past the wall.

5. Change up your workout routine. When you hit a wall in fitness, it is good to give yourself a new challenge. Whether you change it only for a week, or a whole new program, give your body a reboot with a fresh challenge. This is huge!

6. Refresh. Take a day just for yourself. Spend time UNPLUGGED from technology. Go outside, go to a coffee shop, go wherever gives you rest and refreshes you. Just make intentional time for you.

7. Reevaluate. Whether this is during your refresh time or not, take a few minutes to look back at what led you to the wall. What routines you were doing that may have just been going through the motions. See if you can brainstorm ways to spice the routine up!

8. Complement yourself. In a discouraging time where you have hit a wall, it can be hard to be nice to yourself. But you really need to be! Take a piece of paper and write down five complements to yourself about your journey that you are proud of accomplishing, and that you love about yourself.

9. Make a plan. With all these steps, use your ideas on how to switch up your routine and make a plan to make it happen! You can plan a week or month in advance, but set your goal and make a plan on how you will spice up your routine for this period of time.

10. Stay positive and don't give up. Lastly, but possibly most important for this whole process is to keep positive and don't quit or give up. Sometimes it can take going through these steps several times before you break through. But keep at it, keep going, and never, ever, give up.

I hope these steps and tips have encouraged your heart. For those of you stuck in a rut or have hit a wall, hang in there. Give these a try, what do you have to lose except the wall?

What's one way you help get yourself up when you hit a wall?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Guilt Free Chocolate Pudding

Generally, I tend to not have a sweet tooth. I would take something salty over sweet most any day. But, there are days where I crave chocolate. That sweet tooth rears its ugly head, and all I want to do is whip up a batch of brownies and devour the whole thing. But that is not really conducive for good health to do that. So, I had to come up with a new solution!

The new solution? Finding healthy sweet replacements, and ways to "healthify" different recipes.

Thankfully, in my new 21 Day Fix Extreme book, they did that for me! There are actually a few recipes that I plan on trying over the course of my 21 day journey to help satisfy my sweet tooth in a healthy way, but I wanted to experiment with a few of the recipes sooner, and I chose chocolate pudding!

For some reason it was just calling my name, and I gave it a go. Surprisingly, the recipe is super simple, and takes just a few minutes to make, and then only an hour to chill and BAM! You have your healthy sweet treat ready to go.

Who's ready to get their healthy sweet treat on?

Guilt Free Chocolate Pudding 
(Makes 4 servings, 1/2 cup each)

1 1/2 scoops of Chocolate Shakeology
1 medium ripe avocado
1 medium banana
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (plus more if too thick)
Optional raspberries or sliced strawberries for the top

1. Place all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth. Again, if it's too thick, you can add a little additional almond milk, just go slow!
2. Divide into 4 separate dessert bowls, and set in the fridge to chill for one hour so it can set.
3. Top with a few raspberries or sliced strawberries, if you so desire, and enjoy!

There you have it, a super simple, four ingredient way that you can easily satisfy your sweet tooth in a very healthy way! Finding simple replacements like this can be a key component to staying on track in your health and fitness journey as you find ways to enjoy the foods you love in a healthy way!

What's your favorite healthy sweet treat?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Portioning 21 Day Fix Recipes

For those of you who know about the 21 Day Fix and the 21 Day Fix Extreme programs, you probably know that sometimes meal prep can get tricky if you are making anything that is "mixed." Today I wanted to share some of my tips on how to navigate those tricky waters found in meal preparations and counting your containers!

(My tasty spaghetti squash burrito bowl is a "mixed" recipe with a lot of different containers present!)

Say for example, you want to make soup, or even healthy versions of lasagna, or jambalaya. Trying to portion them out, and make the recipe can be difficult, and you want to make sure that you are still counting your containers correctly so you can stay on track. Let me tell you, it's pretty simple and easy, and you can enjoy an even wider variety of recipes when you learn how to do it!

Let's take a healthy version of jambalaya for example!

To start, you want to first determine how many servings you are going to make for the entire recipe. For this jambalaya, let's say it's four servings.

To review: Step 1, determine how many servings you will have. 

For each recipe that you are looking at, you want to notice the key ingredients and what container they coordinate to in the 21 Day Fix. In our jambalaya (I haven't actually made this, it's just what is in my head, mind you) we will have brown rice (yellow container), onions, red bell peppers and green bell peppers, and tomatoes (green container), turkey sausage (red container), tomato sauce (purple) and your seasonings (no container, free food).

Step 2, figure out from the ingredients what containers are included. 

Next, convert your recipe to fit the containers, or figure out how many containers the recipe calls for. Let's say for this recipe, you are making it on your own, so you will create your own container count. Say we want one yellow container per serving. That means you will need four yellow containers of rice for the whole recipe. Green, because there are a lot of veggies, you could do two green containers per serving, which mean you need eight green containers of veggies total. Continue that with your other ingredients as well.

If you already have a recipe, you can follow that recipe and measure out the portions with your containers and take note of how many there are, and divide it by the total servings you have!

Step 3, Fit your recipe to the containers.

Your last step is to cook, enjoy and mark down your containers! It may seem a bit confusing at first to figure out the containers for "mixed" recipes. Sometimes it seems simpler to just eat a red container of baked chicken, a yellow of mashed sweet potatoes, and a green of broccoli. But then other times, you really crave a good recipe.

And the great thing about the 21 Day Fix and the 21 Day Fix Extreme is you can absolutely do that, and get creative with your cooking and recipes! They can be as simple or as elaborate as you want them. Give yourself time, you will get the hang out it.

Just take these steps and transfer them to any other recipe you want! Just make sure the ingredients you are using are included on your list of foods you can eat. Things like soup are fantastic, you measure out your proteins, veggies, and the like and eat up! Chili is another great recipe you can do with the 21 Day Fix and divide up in portions as well.

If you have any questions about how to divide up certain recipes, or clean them up, please do not hesitate to reach out and ask me! I would love to help you navigate those recipes and come up with a simple and helpful solution for you.

What's your favorite "mixed" 21 Day Fix recipe? Share below!

Here's one of my favorite...ground turkey enchiladas...21 Day Fix approved!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Marriage Tip #12

Life is pretty busy. Schedules, appointments, jobs, commitments, social lives. Most importantly (and sometimes most forgotten about) is relationships. In our culture we have done a lot of forfeiting actual face to face quality time for screen time.

It may take intentional planning and carving out time from your calendar, but face to face time, especially with your spouse, is crucial.

So my next marriage tip...plan a "weekend getaway."

Now, before you dismiss the idea all together because the mere thought of clearing your calendar for that seems impossible, let me challenge you for a second. That very reason is exactly why you SHOULD have a weekend getaway.

When life gets too busy to set aside intentional time together, some priorities need to be re-shifted and new plans need to take place. I read recently that "one of the best gifts you can give your children is having an awesome marriage." And while I do not yet have children, this rings so true.

And to foster that marriage relationship, intentional time needs to be spent on it. One easy way to get refocused is taking a weekend getaway. It doesn't have to be elaborate, you honestly don't even have to leave town. The point is creating time for just you and your spouse and getting outside of your normal routine.

Here are some great ways that you can plan your weekend getaway at any budget.

$$$$ - If you have some extra money saved up, or want to save up, use that money to get out of town and fly somewhere you have never been before. Take a day and explore a new place together and have fun! It could be a night in NYC, or another big city. Find a city that has great public transportation to and from the airport and you don't have to worry about a car! Also, check out Groupon or Living Social for Flash getaway deals!

$$$ - Drive to a near by place you may or may not have ever been to. Book a hotel for a night or two, and just be together. See a local sight, try a local restaurant and make new memories together. Take a map and see what is within 3-5 hours of driving and plan a two night get away to explore!

$$ - Find an awesome deal on a local hotel! Priceline has a great "name your own price tool" where you might score a fancy hotel for cheap. Or again, check out Groupon and Living Social for deals in your area! Stay the night in a new area of town, dress up and go out to a fancy dinner. This is a great way to get away even for one night, and doesn't cost a lot!

$ - Here is a low cost option too! Have a "stay-cation" getaway. The key with this is making sure that you have other arrangements if you have kiddos. Clean up the house, get some bubble bath, maybe even new sheets or something fun to jazz up the room. Change things up at home! Go out for a fancy dinner, or cook together at home!

Whatever your budget and time frame looks like, be intentional and set a weekend getaway with your spouse! Take time to be together and spend quality face to face time with one another!

What has been your favorite weekend getaway with your spouse? What made it so special?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Post Valentine's Day Tips

Valentine's Day has now come and gone for another year, leaving many a sugar coma in its wake. Roses, chocolates, candy hearts, chocolate fondue. For many, maybe too much of the sugar and rich foods that we normally don't have as much of throughout the year.

Coming out of a holiday weekend can make or break your health and fitness routine. It can go one of two ways. You can move past the holiday and whatever you may have indulged in. You pick up and move on, move towards your goals. Or, you can give up on your goals and continue to indulge in the sugars and treats. Either way, the small choices you make, especially this week, can make a big difference!

I want to share a few tips on how to get back on track quick. These steps are easy to do, and easy not to do. But they will help you get on the fast track back to a routine towards health and your goals!

1. Drink your water!! Hydrating after a weekend of sugar and rich foods is crucial! This will help flush your body and balance if out and get back into the swing of things. Aim to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces every day! If you are really ambitious, try for a gallon!

2. Get rid of the temptation! If you have extra candy or chocolate, give it away, put it in the freezer, get it out of site and out of mind. Clean house and set yourself up for success.

3. Eat your fruit and veggies! Focus on getting in your fruits and veggies every day. Build your nutrients into your diet and make sure that you are getting things into your body that will nourish it!

There you have it, just a few ways that you can quickly get yourself back on track this week! Just because you indulged this weekend doesn't mean you have to throw in the towel. Just pick yourself up, and move on! This journey is all about balance.

So find the balance this week and rock the rest of February! Who else is getting back on track this week?

Friday, February 13, 2015

One Year of Fitness

Wow. It has been one year since I decided to get on track with my health and fitness.

One year since I came to the realization that my health was only getting worse, and that I had to face the facts and do something about it. That meant working out and eating better, which were two really foreign things in my life at the time.

What a difference one year can make!

Over thirty pounds lost, countless inches also lost, energy gained, friends gained, and my life and health given back. And the best part? It's not even close to being over. This is a journey, and I'm in it for the long haul.

Getting starting on your journey to health can be a scary thing. It's overwhelming to think of all the changes you have to make, it's intimidating trying to figure out what's going to work for your body. It's scary trying to imagine how you will do a workout when you feel afraid of being out of breath.

But one thing I can tell you from this past year, is that it is absolutely and completely worth it. So I want to share my top five lessons from this past year of getting in to health and fitness, and encourage those of you that may just have started, are on the fence about your health, or even those that have been maintaining their health for a long time.

1. You are not alone. I think one of the big things that I came to realize is that I am not alone in my struggle. It can feel like it sometimes, because it's our tendency to compare our journey to others that are farther along than we are. But you are not alone. Reach out to those around you, and share your story. You might be surprised at what you find out!

2. Get accountability. This ties into my first point. I would never have stuck with this if I didn't have the accountability of my husband for my first program, and then the accountability of my challengers the rest of the year. This has been the absolute KEY to keeping me on track for an entire year (more than I have ever consistently worked out for in my life). Staying accountable to someone helps you stay with it longer, and eventually, it becomes a habit!

3. Create a space in your schedule for your health. Don't just leave it up to chance to figure out when you are going to fit your workouts in for the week, or wing it at the grocery store. Planning is crucial to getting your foundation started in health and fitness, and in helping you stick with it. So many times we find excuses about our schedule and time. But we make time for what is important to us, so write down your workout schedule and your meal planning times in your calendar, and guard that time.

4. It's so much more than the physical journey.  This was a big lesson this year. As I began to work on my health and fitness, and I started seeing results, I noticed that because I had more energy in general, I was putting more into every area of my life. My marriage, my friendships, my faith, my creative pursuits, everything. When you get your health in line, that discipline starts to spill over into other areas of your life and in the best way possible!

5. Progress, not perfection. Another huge lesson. My weight was not gained overnight. It was the result of bad eating and exercise habits that I had built over YEARS. So will all of that weight come off overnight? NO! And neither will yours. You have to stay consistent, and you have to take it one day at a time. Look at the progress you make all along the way, and focus on the little victories along with the big. It's those little wins that add up over time and before you know it, you see a whole new healthy version of you in the mirror!

No matter where you are at in your journey, I want to tell you that you can do this. If I can stick with this for a whole year now- the girl who never worked out, was the chronic quitter with anything health related, and the girl who had almost resigned herself to just staying in the bad health that she was- you can do this. Trust me.

Is it easy? No. Are there hard days? Absolutely.

But is it worth it? EVERY TIME.

Take it one day at a time, stay consistent, and make time for your health. I promise you, it is worth it.
I would love to hear what your greatest lesson from health and fitness has been so far in your life! Be sure to leave your comment below!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

"Healthy Stuff" Bowl

Even after traveling all over the world, and having my fair share of rice and beans in Africa and Asia, I'm not sick of it. In fact, I love to dress it up!Last night I was running low on time to cook, and needed to use up some bell peppers we had left over in the fridge. So I decided to improvise and experiment.

Enter in the "healthy stuff" bowl. Like several of my other recipes, this can be very early customized to your personal tastes, as well as what you have on hand.

Healthy Stuff Bowl

(Makes 4-6 servings)
1 lb ground turkey
1 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cups rough chopped kale (just depends on how much green you want!)
2 tsp cooking oil
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp onion powder
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce

1. Heat up your cooking oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
2. Add in your onions and chopped bell peppers, cook until tender.
3. Add in the ground turkey, and brown through, mixing with the vegetables.
4. Season with the garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, red pepper, cumin and chili powder.
5. Add in kale and 1/3 cup of water, cook and mix until it begins to wilt.
6. Add in the cooked rice and tomato sauce, stir and mix together until incorporated.
7. Cover and cook on medium low for 10 minutes, stir occasionally.
8. Enjoy!

If you wanted, you could add in black or red beans. Or substitute the brown rice for quinoa! The possibilities are truly endless. Experiment and find out what you like, too! But if you are short on time, this is an easy one to throw together and have a balanced meal.
What about you, do you like rice and beans or do you have to spice it up a bit to eat them?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Exclusive 21 Day Fix Extreme Test Group

Extreme. All in. Dedicated. Committed.

All these words come to mind when I think about this new program that I am about to start officially at the end of this month, the 21 Day Fix Extreme. Now I went over a few of the differences between the programs in this blog post, so if you want to know the difference between the 21 Day Fix and the Extreme version, check that out.

I have been previewing and doing the workouts the past few days and all I can say is man, this is about to blow everything out of the water for me, and I can't wait to go all in and get my results. I am all in with this for 21 days, and committed to making it happen.

The workouts are absolutely more intense, but it leaves you with such an incredible sense of accomplishment when you are done. Today I did Plyo, which I already tend to be nervous about any Plyo workout because jumping is a challenge for me still. But I gave it my all, my legs are now rubber, but I feel amazing knowing that I gave it my all and finished it!

So, starting on February 23rd, I am opening up an exclusive 21 Day Fix Extreme test group to a maximum of ten ladies.

What this will look like...
A 30 day challenge and support group to keep you accountable. We will be using a closed online Facebook group as our platform to check in.

Our first week will be preparation for our 21 day journey. Getting our meal plans figured out, shopping, prepping, etc. We will share recipes and ideas for our meal plans and work out schedules. We will also begin drinking Shakeology to make sure our bodies are filled with good nutrition before jumping in!

March 2nd, we will all officially begin our workouts, meal plan, and GO ALL IN.
There will be daily posts made by me to help keep us all motivated, accountable and informed. I post recipes, tips and motivation.

Every night we are all required to check in with the group to share how our day went! This is absolutely key. Account ability has made ALL the difference in my fitness journey, and I fight for my challengers to keep going, because I know there are hard days. But we stay accountable no matter what.

We go all in for 21 days. When you stay consistent and follow the plans you lay, you will see results. That's what I absolutely love about all the Beachbody programs, they give you real results. I have seen that time and time again in my own life, and in others.

It just takes guts and commitment from you to go for it. And that's why I am leading this test group! -To take YOU from start to finish, so it's not just one more DVD on the shelf, but something that gets you results in your life.

What are the requirements?
-You must be a lady! Sorry guys, but this time the group is just for ladies.
-You need to have a base line of fitness (if you have done any of the other Beachbody programs before you should be fine)
-You're ready to shed some layers and tone up!
-Be able to commit to the whole 30 days with us
-Have a willingness to learn
-A strong desire to change and see results
-Commit to the eating plan (correct portion sizes and healthy clean eating, it's NOT a crash diet)
-Commit to the daily 30 minute workouts
-Be committed to checking in with our accountability group

What you get...
-A complete fitness and nutrition package, with a month's supply of Shakeology, your complete set of workouts
-An in depth nutrition guide that lays out the eating plan
-Your set of color coordinated containers for perfect portion sizes and portability.
-A Shakeology shaker cup for your nutrition on the go
-Countdown to Competition specific eating plan guide (for maximum results)
-Access to our exclusive test group
-Daily motivational posts
-Personal accountability check ins with me as your coach
-One on one check ins and access to me for any questions you have
-Group accountability and encouragement as we all daily check in and share
-Support every step of the way
-A chance to win $500 or more with the Beachbody Challenge when you submit your results at the end of our challenge to the Team Beachbody site.
-A FREE T shirt when you complete the program and submit your results to the site.

So, if getting extreme, focusing in and taking the step to change your life sounds like something you want to do, please reach out to me. I would love to see if this is a good fit for you and offer you a spot in our exclusive test group!

Since there are only a maximum of 10 spots, be sure to let me know as soon as possible if you want in. You can reach me through my contact info on this blog, or find me on Facebook and message me there!

Let's get extreme, y'all!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Creative Valentine's Date Ideas

Every year Valentine's day comes with more filly cards, more hearts, and more candy than I remember from the year before. Seriously, how did this holiday get so big that it's put out literally the week after Christmas? I'm not sure. But, here we are, less than a week away from the holiday of love.

One thing you must know about me is I love to celebrate. I love cooking dinners for special occasions, getting dressed up for no reason, making home made gifts, and creating fun events to celebrate the people I love. But the way that Valentine's Day is traditionally run, does not get my creative motor running.

Sure, flowers are beautiful. Candy is nice. Chocolate, even better.

But seriously, that's all we can think of to celebrate love? Buy flowers and candy and go out to dinner at way too overcrowded restaurants and come home exhausted? That's not particularly my idea of a night of a fun celebration of love.

So, I'm sharing some ideas that I think would be fabulous Valentine's Day dates that get out of the box and let you have some great fun together. Of course you can go the traditional route, and that's fine, but here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing!

1. Valentine's Day Scavenger Hunt. Whether you, your honey, or both of you plan one for each other, think of a Valentine's Day scavenger hunt you can do together! Have it take you to some places that mean a lot to you, or you can even do it around your house and have it lead to your present for your special honey. Make a day of it and have fun!

2. Cook a gourmet dinner together. This is a lot of fun. Seriously. Grab a recipe you both want to try, go out and shop for the freshest ingredients together, grab a bottle of wine, some candles, and go home and get to cooking! Put on your aprons, cook, and then go get fancied up and set up a candle light dinner and enjoy your creation!

3. Valentine's Game Day. No, I don't mean football. Get your favorite board game or card game, or pick up a fun new one together. Turn up the heat and set some stakes for the one who wins! You could also get some ingredients to cook your own personal pizzas to have during your game day!

4. Have a Valentine's Day on a different day. This is actually what Zach and I are doing, because he works on actual Valentine's day! The perks to this, things are less crowded, and you get better prices! You could even have a mid week Valentine's Day this year, and grab a room at a hotel for the night, order room service, and just be with each other! Check Groupon for local last minute deals, too!

5. Instead of trinkets for gifts, write each other love letters. This is also something we are doing this year. We are both writing each other love letters! Words of affirmation are both in our top love language, so those written words are cherished forever and mean so much. You could give them to each other over your home made dinner!

6. Chopped Inspired Dinner Date.  Also another thing Zach and I are doing! Inspired by the TV show Chopped, we are creating our four course dinner together, but with a fun flair. Zach is picking out ingredients for me to create an appetizer, and I am picking out ingredients for him to create dessert! We have a set dinner menu, and a cheese board before, but it's time to get creative for the appetizer and dessert!

7. Breakfast in Bed Valentine's Day.  Start off your Valentine's with a bang. Go all out for breakfast and prepare breakfast in bed either together, or for your honey. Do the works! French toast, bacon, sausage, eggs, biscuits, eggs benedict, whatever you like! Bring it in on a tray for the two of you to share, and you could even snuggle in bed and watch a movie in the morning after you enjoy breakfast!

8. Valentine's Camping. Now hear me out, because some of you may live in a cold place! But if you have a small enough tent, set it up in your living room (or your bedroom if you have kids), or make your own blanket fort. Deck it out with twinkling Christmas lights for ambiance, put down an air mattress or lots of blankets and sleeping bags. If you have a fire place, cook s'mores! Just have fun and be together.

There you have it, eight simple, low cost ways to dazzle your special someone for Valentine's Day. Just because everyone else is doing flowers and candy doesn't mean you can't think outside the box! Get out of your routine, shake things up and have some fun this year and actually celebrate love and the one you love instead of going through the motions.

What's been one creative Valentine's Day date you have seen? I always love new ideas!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

21 Day Fix and the 21 Day Fix Extreme

Maybe you have heard the buzz about the 21 Day Fix. I did this program several times this past year, and absolutely love it. It has completely changed how I look at my portion control, and given me a fantastic base line to know what I need to eat to nourish my body and fuel my body.

One thing that I love about the 21 Day Fix is that it is not a crash diet. This isn't something that can only be for twenty one days and never be sustained. The principles taught in the 21 Day Fix are applicable beyond the 21 days, and can be repeated over and over. The emphasis on twenty one days is that that is how long it normally takes to create a habit.

And who doesn't want to make a habit of having a healthier lifestyle?

Now the game is shifting again as the launch of the 21 Day Fix Extreme happened on Monday of this week. What is the 21 Day Fix Extreme you may ask? Well, it's the 21 Day Fix turned up with a punch of intensity.

Today I just wanted to share a little bit about the differences between each program, so that whether you are looking to get your fitness started, or take your fitness to the next level, you will know which one is for you.

Let's start with the similarities of the 21 Day Fix and the 21 Day Fix Extreme.

  • Both come with a detailed eating plan and guide to help you get the maximum amount out of your nutrition for 21 days.
  • Portion control containers come with both the 21 Day Fix and the Fix Extreme. These containers represent each food group, and your nutrition guide tells you how much of each container you have each day.
  • Container sizes are the same.
  • 30 minute workouts, 7 days a week.
  • A bonus workout
  • Amazing results from focusing on nutrition and exercise together.
  • You need a set of light and heavy dumbells or a resistance band for both workouts.

Now's lets cover the differences of the 21 Day Fix and the 21 Day Fix Extreme.
  • The 21 Day Fix is for people at ANY level of fitness. There is a modifier with low impact moves for each workout. 
  • The Fix Extreme has a modifier as well, but the moves are still at a higher level of intensity. 
  • 21 Day Fix Extreme takes it up a notch, and Autumn (the trainer and creator) recommends this program for people who have done the 21 Day Fix, or completed other extreme or intense workout programs before, or for those who have a base line of fitness already.
  • You can have treats on the 21 Day Fix. Things like chocolate and wine are worked into your eating plan over the 21 days, if you want to.
  • The 21 Day Fix Extreme has an extremely cleaned up meal plan, and no treats are allowed. But the good news? It's only 21 days!
  • The container COUNT is different between the two programs, the 21 Day Fix Extreme kicks it up a notch. 
  • The 21 Day Fix Extreme comes with a "Countdown to Competition" guide that gives you Autumn's specific plan to a T for how to prepare for an event or to get the most extreme results in the twenty one days.
So, in short, the 21 Day Fix Extreme follows up the original 21 Day Fix, and kicks it up a notch. But, at the same time, it is a stand alone program in and of itself. If you already have done intense workouts before, and tend to go to more extreme workouts, you could absolutely do the 21 Day Fix Extreme right from the beginning. 

Both of these programs will challenge you and stretch you, you just choose your intensity level, and dial in. The 21 Day Fix has taught me so much about nutrition and portion control, and how to eat to fuel my body. I am excited to see what the 21 Day Fix Extreme does over the next month, and to share that journey with you as well!

If you have any other specific questions about the 21 Day Fix, or the 21 Day Fix Extreme, please contact me and I can give you all the details you need. If you need a personal coach, tips or recipe ideas, just reach out and ask, and I would be more than happy to help you.

So, who's ready to go EXTREME with me?

Friday, February 6, 2015

Marriage Tip #11

I know that I just had a blog post with a marriage tip, but after some quiet time this morning my heart was just so on fire with this topic that I had to share it with you! This tip specifically goes out to my fellow wives out there, but it can be a learning point for you husbands, as well.

This marriage tip comes from a passage in the Bible, Ephesians 5:33, to be exact.

"Neverthless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband."

This is a powerful passage in the Bible, and Ephesians 5 packs some punches and doesn't mince words. This passage and concept is absolutely under fire in our culture today. Our view of the definition of "love" and "submit" and "respect" has become incredibly skewed, marred, and tainted by the dark negativity of the world.

A lot of people look at this passage and cringe, thinking that it means women are "less than" men. That is a whole other topic that I won't get into today, but I will say that that is not what this passage is saying. I am well aware of the brokenness of so many relationships these days where women are treated less than, abused and not loved. But today I want to focus on one key point this passage makes, because it is something that I personally am learning and growing in.

My tip is this...wives, respect your husband.

Now, I really encourage you to read the whole passage of Ephesians 5, because you will see that it is filled with so much goodness. It talks about the roles of husbands and wives, equal, with different roles, as God intended it because he created us differently.

In several marriage talks I have heard, a main theme is that women crave love from men, and men crave respect for women. This speaks to the fact that God created us differently. Our drive and motivation is different, and that is not a bad thing, it's just different, and we both have to meet each other in the middle.

Men are called to love their wives, wives are called to respect their husbands. Because God knows the deepest desires of our hearts, especially in relationship.

Now, here's my take on it and what I'm personally learning, and a little bit of vulnerability!

I absolutely respect Zach, with all of my heart. And I try to verbally remind him of that often. Because I do. I think he is an incredible man, full of integrity, he loves me, and he honors the Lord, among thousands of other qualities that make him who he is.

What God convicted me of today, is that sometimes my actions do not line up with or show that respect. And even though my heart is in the right place, my actions are being disrespectful of Zach and who he is.

Some things I wrote when this came to mind:

"Respect the way Zach does things, even if it is not how I would do it."
"Respect his way of processing."
"Respect how he drives, and know that his motivation is always to keep me safe."
"Respect the time he needs for himself."

Just a few simple things, but they hit me in profound ways. I'll let you in on a little insight, a lot of our disagreements happen when we are tackling a project together, or when we are driving together. That's where the first three convictions came from.

I am a classic backseat driver, unfortunately. I'm not sure why I even am like that, but regrettably, I am. Thankfully, I have gotten a lot better than I was at first, but those moments still come up and I have to ask forgiveness a lot for back seat driving.

And when we try to handle a task together, like filling out paper, grocery shop, or put something together, we both have different methods of how we would do that. And, you guessed it, that can cause us to butt heads sometimes, and I know that I have had to apologize for that a lot as well.

It boils down to one thing, just like how we do things differently, or process differently. We are two separate people, coming into a relationship as one. We both process differently (I am a verbal processor, he is an internal processor). I am very details oriented, and he is big picture oriented. So when we say work on a project together, or a task, we may have different approaches. And sometimes, I try to hammer my point home to be "right."

Wow. I know that I am not the only one who does this out there. I think as women, a lot of us may struggle with that because it's control, and giving up control can be difficult.

But, it has been put on my heart that I need to show my respect by respecting that fact that Zach and allow that to be okay. To surrender control, and know that Zach has my best interests in mind, because he is also submitting to the Lord.

So, my challenge to you wives out there. Look in your heart and examine what ways your actions may not be showing respect to your husband. They may be subtle things that don't outright scream "disrespect." And husbands and wives, I challenge you to lovingly have a conversation on respect. Husbands, how do you feel respect, and when do you feel disrespected? Also, ask your wives how you can love her better!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Marriage Tip #10

Life can be full of ups and downs. Highs and lows, good days and hard days. That applies to marriage as well! There are days where things are awesome- you communicate well, you're really feeling it, and it's a good day. And then there are days that are hard- miscommunication happens, you snap at each other, and it's just a hard day. 

One key that we have found that helps us through the good and the hard days is something simple, yet incredibly powerful. Prayer.

Since Zach and I started dating, we made prayer together a priority. When we were dating, it was usually before we went our separate ways for the day or the night. After we got married, we made it a habit to pray together before we went to bed every night. We also ask each other regularly how we can be praying for each other throughout the day while we are at work. 

Something that I am incredibly thankful for in Zach is his intentionality with prayer when we are experiencing conflict or miscommunication. He has been such a great positive force in our marriage for leading us in prayer during those difficult times. 

The days where we just feel "blah," or we feel off, or we are experiencing miscommunication or frustration, we bring it before the Lord and lay it at his feet. I can tell you that it is incredibly freeing. It brings such a great amount of peace, and resolution. It helps us start over and get off on the right foot, no matter what had happened before that point.

I can't tell you how many times we're sitting on the couch, or in the car, and I'm just in tears, frustrated at myself, and Zach leads us in prayer, and the peace just covers us completely. It helps us lay down our burdens, and realize that we are not fighting each other, we need to fight for each other and fight against the enemy. 

When we join together in prayer, it's a powerful force.

I want to encourage you, whether you are married or not, when you are feeling frustrations, if you are experiencing miscommunication, or just having a hard day, bring it to the Lord. If you are married, humble yourself and bring it to the Lord together. 

Start off with something simple, ask your spouse what you can pray for them for during the day. Send them a text and let them know you are praying for them. 

Then make it a goal to try and pray together, maybe it works best for you in the morning before you both leave for work for the day, or maybe it works best for you at night, like with Zach and I and you want to close out the day in prayer together.

Whatever the case, I challenge you to get out of your comfort zone and ask your spouse how you can pray for them today! 

How do you and your spouse connect through prayer? 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

10 Weekly Meal Staples

When I used to open my refrigerator or pantry, I used to find only a few predictable things, if that. Generally, when I went to the grocery store, I did it on a whim and got whatever seemed right at the time. That ended up leaving no food in the fridge or wasting food later down the road.

However, since I have started meal planning, our fridge and pantry tend to be very predictable in quite a few healthy staples. This is helpful particularly when I have the munchies, and reaching for a healthy snack is actually a real option now.

Laying a good foundation of some healthy staples to keep around in your kitchen can be a great key to your success with staying on track with health and nutrition. So I'm going to share some of our top favorite staples that you would likely find on a weekly basis in our kitchen!

1. Spinach or kale. Lately it's been kale, but every week I make sure that we have a stock of some leafy green to throw in smoothies, beef up our veggie intake, and have a great source of nutrients.

2. Eggs. Yup, whole eggs! I've never really liked just egg whites, and studies are showing now that the cholesterol found in eggs is the good kind, not the bad. Eggs are a fantastic source of protein, and a super easy breakfast choice!

3. Sweet Potatoes. These are quick to chop up for roasting along side baked chicken, easy to throw in whole to bake, and all around a delicious source of nutrients! Generally we eat these more than regular potatoes, but you can find regular potatoes in our pantry every now and again too.

4. Greek Yogurt. Good ol' plain Greek yogurt has so many uses! Did you know that you can substitute it for sour cream? Or you can sweeten it up naturally too? So many good uses, and it packs a great punch of probiotics!

5. Carrots. I have a tendency to want to snack on something crunchy...anyone else? Carrots are great to have to curb that crunch craving, and you get a serving of veggies in! These are also great to just throw in some soup or with a roast.

6. Bananas. We go through some bananas, let me tell you! Great "fast food" pick when you are running out the door, really hungry and need something fast that packs an energy punch.

7. Shakeology. Love the stuff! I usually have my Shakeology in the morning or after my workout. It delivers an incredible punch of super food nutrition, gives me energy and also helps curb my sweet tooth!

8. Chicken. Of all meats, chicken is probably the most used in our house. It's fast, easy to throw in the oven with some seasoning, and then you can shred it, chop it, put it in soup, tacos, pretty much anything you want!

9. Zucchini. Since I was given a Vegetti by my sweet husband, we normally keep a supply of zucchini handy in the fridge for some zucchini noodles (or zoodles) at least once a week. We've experimented with a lot of different recipes that are fantastic!

10. Rolled Oats. Super cheap, healthy, whole food. I pick up a container of oats usually once a week and we have it for breakfast with a banana. No instant oatmeal here, just the old fashioned stuff. Seriously, it's so much better and doesn't take a long time to cook.

While of course the contents of our fridge and pantry vary from week to week, generally you can find these staples in there most any week. It's crazy to think back to the way I used to eat, used to grocery shop, and how my cupboards and fridge used to look.

They used to be filled with bread, pasta, lunch meat (the bad kind), heavy calorie sauces, cream, leftover sandwhiches from work. Honestly, nothing good or nutritious. As I've told before in some of my stories,  I hardly ever ate any fruits or vegetables, ever. I honestly am not sure how I kept skipping out on that.

But I am glad to say that I love the change, I enjoy eating fruit and vegetables now, and I love keeping our fridge and pantry stocked with things that will nourish us and help us be healthy. What do you keep in your fridge and pantry? What's one staple you just couldn't live without?