Being Healthy is a Way of Life: Is Your Soul Happy?

There’s so much more to being healthy than just eating whole foods and working out. Being healthy ultimately stems from our mindset.

BeingHealthyBeing healthy is about more than what you feed your body. Sure, it’s important to eat healthy. It’s important to work out on a regular basis for cardiovascular purposes. Let’s say you have both of these things in check, but you still aren’t seeing the results you want — you look the same, feel the same and start getting discouraged. Because you’re discouraged, you turn to your vice for comfort, whatever that may be (for me it’s food). I’ve been stuck in that cycle… it’s frustrating. But there was one IMPORTANT question — perhaps the most important of all — that I was forgetting to ask myself:

Is my soul happy? 

Happiness does not stem from the time spent in the gym. Sure, you get momentary satisfaction after a good sweat sesh or after you weigh in a few pounds lighter. You feel great at the end of the day after sticking to your diet. But this happiness is fleeting. Oh so fleeting, my friends.

Is your soul happy? Really. Ask yourself that question right now.

Take a good hard look at the relationships in your life. Are they thriving? Are you doing everything you can to make the lives of the people you love a little easier?

Are you living your life? 

What do you do in your free time? Are you sitting around on the couch, wondering why you don’t have friends, relying on social media as your crutch for social interaction?

If only I had asked myself those questions while I was sitting around feeling sorry for myself, wondering why nothing in my life was getting any better. Why am I gaining weight? Why do I binge? Why am I so depressed? What happened to all the friends I used to have? These are questions I’d ask myself on a daily basis instead of the ones above. Do you see why I wasn’t getting anywhere?

Being healthy is a way of life. It stems from your mindset — the way you think, feel and interact with others. If you’re a positive person who strives to find joy and happiness in the simple things, chances are your time in the gym, eating habits and results will reflect that. To the contrary, if you’re sitting around eating junk, not doing anything besides going to work and going home (and wondering why you lost friends like I did), your results will also reflect that.

Our journey to be fit starts with the effort to change our mindset.

When you change the way your mind works and make a decision (you have to make the decision, it doesn’t just come naturally) to be happy, you’ll reap the benefits of this happiness in your physique, self confidence and relationships.

I challenge you today to dig deep down and ask yourself: Is my soul really happy? If so, keep on keepin’ on my beautiful friend! If not, make a decision to change it.

HUGS AND KISSES and all the love in the world to you beautiful friends of mine! xo

Do I Eat Before a Workout? Plus an Awesome Leg Workout

Howdy, howdy! It’s Friday, y’all! 

What’s going on in your fitness world? 

If you’re craving a great leg workout, I have the perfect thing to sculpt your legs and leave ya nice and sweaty. This is brought to you by my friend, Shelby. She’s an aspiring Physical Therapist and creates some totally awesome workouts. We have similar interests in strength training and a healthy, balanced approach to eating. Follow her on Instagram at @shelbsvan for some great workout and meal ideas! 

This morning started with this fabulous leg workout at the lovely 5 a.m. hour:

photo (1)

(Don’t worry, this was screen shotted from a few days ago before I gave up social media for Lent :-P.) 

So now the question I get asked pretty often: Should I eat before an early workout?

There have been so many mixed reviews on this topic. Some people say it’s better to workout on an empty stomach to burn more stored fat; others say you’re breaking down your muscles if you workout on an empty stomach.

The answer? Do what works for you. Working out at 5 a.m. leaves little time for me to eat beforehand, and honestly I’m not that hungry. Plus, I have to wait an hour after waking up to eat in the morning because I take thyroid medication.

So, generally speaking, I don’t eat before a morning workout. However, I do notice a slight lack in strength and endurance. If I need a little something or know I have a tough workout scheduled for the day, I’ll drink a protein shake (chocolate Sunwarrior protein powder is my favorite! I can’t drink whey because it’s hard for me to digest, so this one is Vegan and made from brown rice protein.) 

I also will never, ever workout in the morning without Spark. I’ve tried many different Advocare products and this one is by far my FAVORITE. It tastes delicious (I can’t stand any kind of powder that tastes chalky) and it gives me the extra energy boost I need for an early morning workout. I also take it before I teach my afternoon classes, since I tend to be dragging after work and need some extra motivation to get to the gym. It’s a miracle worker, I tell ya!!

So again, do what works for you. I know some people who get sick if they eat before they workout. I know others that can’t workout without eating. As always, doing what’s effective for you will get you results in the long run. And remember to fuel your body with a hearty mixture of protein and carbs after your workout —  don’t be afraid to eat!

HAPPY FRIDAY!!!

 

Typical Grocery Haul

I remember when I first started eating healthy a few years ago, the thought of grocery shopping was overwhelming. I would spend what felt like HOURS in the aisles, checking labels and trying to look past all the “healthy” “low-fat” “100 calorie” marketing in order to make informed decisions about what I was putting into my body.

Now I pretty much have it down to a science. I mainly shop around the perimeter of the store, and only go into the aisles for my not-so-healthy choices (Coke Zero, gum, crackers) or if I need to pick up some Quaker Rolled Oats or almond butter.

Here’s what a typical grocery haul looks like for me:

HealthyGroceryShopping

Vegetables:

  • Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Steam in the bag broccoli & cauliflower
  • Sweet poatoes (also steam in the bag)
  • Yellow pepper
  • Cucumbers for snacking/salads
  • Carrots
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Butternut squash
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Avocado

Fruit:

  • Blueberries

Meats:

  • 99% lean ground turkey
  • Rotisserie chicken (not pictured, but a great healthy protein option when you’re in a time pinch or don’t feel like cooking!)

Dips/sauces:

  • Hummus
  • Salsa
  • Basil & Tomato pasta sauce (Publix brand — I use this for spaghetti squash meals. Find any brand with whole ingredients)

Randoms:

  • Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • Eggs
  • Coke Zero
  • Gum
  • Wasabi Peas
  • Goldfish

Other staples I have in my kitchen at all times:

  • Black beans
  • Oatmeal
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder (I add this to my oatmeal in the a.m.)
  • Stevia
  • Coffee
  • Cinnamon
  • Almond butter
  • Flavored teas (my absolute favorite right now is Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride!)
  • Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (a healthier alternative to soy sauce)
  • Popping kernels (great snack! add 2 tbsp. to brown paper bag and pop for two minutes)
  • Rice cakes

When it comes to a typical meal, I try to fill up on vegetables first. The majority of my plate (about 1/2) is full of vegetables, 1/4 is protein and 1/4 is a complex carb. Obviously I’m a firm believer in BALANCE (hence the Goldfish, wasabi peas, Coke Zero, etc.) I eat healthy probably 80% of the time, but I don’t deprive myself from what I’m craving.

groceryshoppingtips

  1. Shop the perimeter first and fill up your cart with vegetables, fruits and proteins.
  2. Stay away from ingredients you can’t pronounce (for the most part).
  3. If you’re craving something, buy a small package of it. (That’s why I bought the individual boxes of Goldfish… Trust me. If I bought the huge box, I’d eat it).
  4. Prepare a grocery list beforehand to avoid purchasing a bunch of random things you don’t need.

Happy shopping, friends!

Pumpkin Rice with Chicken Sausage

Fall is in FULL swing in my household! This weekend’s crafts really put me in the “fall” spirit (even though it’s still 92 degrees here) so I wanted to incorporate pumpkin into one of my meals. I present to you: pumpkin rice with chicken sausage!

PumpkinRice
I must admit, the pumpkin rice was the star of the show! It’s absolutely delicious and a nutritious way to easily bulk up your plate.

It’s also quite simple to make.

You’ll need:

  • Canned pumpkin
  • Brown rice (I used Publix Minute Rice… If you use rice in a bag, instructions will differ & cooking time will be longer)

How to make it:

  • Combine 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup of pumpkin using a whisk
  • Bring to a boil and add 1 cup of rice
  • Bring to a boil again
  • Remove from heat and cover with lid
  • Should be ready in about 9-10 minutes
  • Fluff with a fork and DEVOUR 🙂

I decided to add chicken sausage and broccoli, but you can easily substitute the chicken sausage for chicken breast, ground turkey or lean beef! Or just enjoy the pumpkin rice alone, because it really is that delicious.

[Of Possible Interest:]

Pumpkin Rice Krispy Treats via Kim at Hungry Healthy Girl <— Yes, please!
Paleo Pumpkin Risotto via Danielle from Clean Food Creative Fitness
Pumpkin Fried Rice via FitnessRX

Crock Pot Chicken and Getting Organized

Are you someone who has 15 lists going in different places at the same time? You’re not alone. I have a planner, computer calendar, a daily to-do list, a “should get done by the end of the week” list, a monthly to-do list, craft list, recipe list. Yeah, you get the point. I decided to make these lists yesterday to help me (hopefully) contain myself to TWO lists: one daily, one monthly.

ToDoLists

Getting organized is a huge priority of mine while trying to balance school, work, blogging and a social life. Hopefully this will make things a bit less overwhelming!

In food news, yesterday was a glorious day. I just found out we have a Crock-Pot at home so naturally I had to make something delicious 🙂 I decided to stick to the basics for this one. Ya know, just in case I happened to mess something up (which I’ve heard is nearly impossible in a Crock-Pot.)

CrockPotChicken

I bought Mason jars the other day, so I thought I’d utilize them and bring my leftovers to work with me! Aren’t these colors so fall appropriate? 😉 Gotta love it!

Need:

  • Chicken Breast (I used 1 lb.)
  • Sweet Potato (I used one)
  • Onion (I used one)
  • Water or Chicken Broth
  • Carrots (1/2 package baby carrots)

Directions:

  • Dice up sweet potatoes into thick chunks
  • Dice up onion (I cut it into eight pieces)
  • Layer the sweet potatoes, carrots and onions on the bottom
  • Add chicken breast
  • Add the rest of the potatoes, carrots and onions
  • Cover with water or chicken broth
  • Put on low for about 8 hours
  • Come home, relax and enjoy a hassle-free dinner!

I thoroughly enjoyed this dinner. I came home and it was ready (always a plus) and the chicken literally fell apart in my mouth. I can’t wait to get creative! If you have any great Crock-Pot recipes, let me know.

Here are a few Crock-Pot recipes I’m excited to make:

Crock Pot Turkey Chili from Gina at SkinnyTaste
Crock Pot Pumpkin Bread via WannaBite <– Have you noticed a pumpkin trend here on the blog? 😉 
Clean-Eating Slow Cooker Pineapple Chicken via The Gracious Pantry

What are your favorites?

Things I’m Loving and a 5-Minute Stir Fry

Good afternoon, my loves! Yesterday marked my very first day of my last semester of college. Where did the time go? I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on my college memories recently and if you read my blog post on Sunday, you’ll see I have a whole new perspective going into this semester. (Quite possibly my favorite blog post ever, I cried writing it… Shhh don’t tell anyone I’m sensitive 😉)

Things I’m loving lately:

Spending time with my friends & dinner dates

GirlsNight

B.A.S. aka Big A** Salads (term courtesy of the health and fitness Instagram world)

Salad

School — I love getting organized for the semester and I’m so passionate about my classes. Every time I’m surrounded by my professors, advisors and peers I feel so grateful to be part of such a selective major. Our professors genuinely care and so do the students so it’s a very inspiring atmosphere.

My beach trip with my mama

MommyDaughterDate

Being back at my home gym!

Wine 🙂

maddie

My 5-Minute Stir Fry

StirFry

This is such an easy way to make a large amount of food in a short amount of time! Have to feed a few mouths? This is perfect! The beauty is you can add as little or as much as you’d like.

My stir fry includes sweet potato chunks, onions, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms and tilapia. 

Directions:
1. Start by cleaning and chopping all produce.
2. In a separate pan (or if you have a grill/George Forman) cook your tilapia or choice of meat
2. Steam the broccoli and cauliflower (I bought mine in a microwavable bag which adds to the efficiency!)
3. Poke holes in your sweet potato and stick it in the microwave (about 8 minutes if you’re short on time) or in the oven for about 45 minutes
3. Spray the pan with non-stick cooking spray or add extra virgin olive oil
4. Add onions and mushrooms to skillet and sauté for 2-3 minutes
5. Add tomatoes, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, and sweet potato for about a minute
6. In the last minute of cooking, add your meat to the stir fry and stir to combine flavors (the tomato gives this dish so much flavor, but you can also add spices if you’d like!)
7. Pour into a dish and ENJOY!

With the exception of the sweet potato (and depending on what meat you choose), this whole process only takes about 5 minutes! Perfect for those of you short on time or just lazy (guilty) and want a quick, simple and DELICIOUS dinner 🙂

Lamb and Bulgur Stew with White Beans

This recipe is to die for and I’m bringing it to you courtesy of my uncle. I’m pretty sure this recipe came from Martha Stewart’s magazine and it was delicious. This serves about 4 and it makes a big stew so this would be perfect for meal prep to eat for the rest of the week! Protein, complex carbs and healthy fats, what more could you ask for? 🙂

LambandBulgurStew

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 pound ground lamb (lean)
  • 2/3 cup bulgur
  • 3/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • Sea salt & ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 can diced plum tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano leaves

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, lamb, bulgur, 1 1/2 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp pepper.
2. Cook, stirring to break up lamb, for about 5 minutes.
3. Add paprika, stir for 30 sec.
4. Add tomatoes and water, bring to a simmer & cover.
5. Lower heat, gently simmer and stir until bulgur is tender (~25 min)
6. Stir in beans, spinach and oregano — about 2 min.
7. ENJOY!!!!

Thanks, Martha. You never disappoint 😉 

P.S. – If you’re like me and thinking, “What the heck is bulgur and why would I eat it?,” read this! It’s dubbed as the “natural weight loss food” and is a staple in Middle Eastern diets.