Friday Fit Tip: choose whole grains over refined

Living a healthy lifestyle is all about small choices that add up over time. One of the first small switches I made was choosing whole grains over refined grains.

Let’s start with the basics- what are whole grains and refined grains?

Refined grains: “have been milled, a process that removes the bran and germ. This is done to give grains a finer texture and improve their shelf life, but it also removes dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins. Some examples of refined grain products are white flour, white bread, and white rice,” according to ChooseMyPlate.gov.

Whole grains: “whole grains contain all three parts of the kernel. Refining normally removes the bran and the germ, leaving only the endosperm. Without the bran and germ, about 25% of a grain’s protein is lost, and are greatly reduced in at least seventeen key nutrients. Processors add back some vitamins and minerals to enrich refined grains, so refined products still contribute valuable nutrients. But whole grains are healthier, providing more protein, more fiber and many important vitamins and minerals,” according to Whole Grains Council.

Now that you know the difference, choosing whole grains over refined grains, should be easy! Grabbing whole wheat noodles is second nature to me now. And I wouldn’t even think about grabbing a loaf of white bread!

Though there are many fad diets that eliminate gluten, the USDA still recommends eating whole grains daily. There are many benefits of eating whole grains including:

  1. High fiber content.
  2. Assist in maintaining a healthy weight.
  3. Aid in digestion.
  4. They make you feel full!
  5. Assist in lowering cholesterol.

Start by swapping out your regular your refined grain choices for whole grain choices. These simple swaps are much better for your body, and your family won’t even notice!

Some of my favorite healthy whole grains are: oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa and obviously popcorn! What are your favorite whole grains?

Healthy Sweet Treats

Are you on a journey to a healthier you? Are you looking to lose weight, but struggle with that sweet tooth? I FEEL YOU HOMEGIRL.

Sweets, specifically chocolate and ice cream, are my weakness. When I am carefully watching my food intake, I can smell chocolate from a mile away. Just ask my boyfriend… If he tries to eat chocolate when I’m gone, I WILL KNOW.

So how can we reach our fitness and health goals when we’re constantly craving sweets?? The trick is to find healthier options! Here are a few of my favorite healthier sweet treats!

1.Halo Top Ice Cream

If you tend to reach for the pints of Ben and Jerry’s, substitute Halo Top instead! I promise this ice cream doesn’t TASTE healthy at all! All their ice cream is high in protein, low in sugar, low in calories and made with all natural ingredients! Halo Top comes in a ton of flavors- my faves are Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Birthday Cake- but I have never tried a flavor I didn’t like!

2. Protein Powder Mug Cake
Craving cake? Try a Protein Powder Mug Cake! I like to use this easy recipe. Typically I have all the ingredients on hand, so I whip it up and enjoy! You can use whatever kind of protein powder you like. I typically top my mug cake with some PB2 to give it a little extra flavor and to pretend I have frosting on my healthy cake!!

3. Energy Balls

I love whipping up batches of these energy balls for a quick pre-workout snack or to fulfill my sweet tooth! There are many ways to customize this recipe to switch it up. This recipe does call for regular chocolate chips- I always use dark chocolate chips instead!

4. Protein Peanut Butter Cups

pb cupsThis is one of my FAVE guilt-free sweet treats! If you are a peanut butter cup fan, these are for you! I typically use whatever chocolate protein powder that I have on hand. I use PB2 instead of peanut butter and I skip the liquid stevia. Simply mix all ingredients, put into a mini muffin tin and store in the fridge!

5. Dark Chocolate Drizzled Strawberries 

This sweet treat is SUPER simple! Wash and cut up some strawberries. Then melt 1 square of dark chocolate. Put your strawberries on a plate and drizzle the dark chocolate over top! Super sweet and yummy!

What are your favorite healthy alternatives for sweets? Share your recipes with me below!

Him

Why it is important to be tenacious

Hey friends, Branden here!

Today I want to talk about tenacity. Tenacity is defined as “the quality or fact of being very determined; determination.”

What comes to mind when you hear that word?  For me, it brings up many feelings and emotions from my past.

We all have a story, and we all have hardships that we endure in life.  It may sound cliche and overplayed, but you know the saying, “fall down seven times, stand up eight”?

There have been several instances in my personal life that have knocked me down, such as our house fire, having shoulder surgery while at UW-Stevens Point with no recovery time, my parents getting divorced, so on and so forth. tenacity

Hardships like these will test your mental toughness and your mental tenacity.  It is important to have a good support system and be able to discuss and process these life events.

Beyond the mental is the physical, which I am better at dealing with. These are roadblocks that may be short, or much longer of a healing process.  I’m sure we all have twisted an ankle, or pulled a muscle, or something along those lines.  It’s the physical injuries that I can heal quickly because I know what is wrong and how to fix it.  Something I have gotten quite good at is listening to my body and knowing when to push the envelope and when to step back and recover.  It is important to know what ailments you have that require time off from the gym, or that require further needs, such as surgery.

At any rate, whether you are experiencing mental or physical pain, you must be tenacious.  Life is not fair, things will happen that are out of your control and they may seem insurmountable at that time.  Take things one day at a time and keep putting your best foot forward.  I wholeheartedly believe that if you have a positive mindset, good things will come.

I hope you remember this post in a time of need and you can say to yourself, remember to be tenacious.

-Branden

Friday Fit Tip: get enough sleep

Did you know that the amount of sleep you get each night plays an important role in your overall health and well-being? There are so many benefits to catching those zzz’s!

  1. Improve your memory. While you sleep, you can strengthen memories or skills that you learned while you were awake. This is called consolidation. According to Dr. Rapport, associate professor at NYU Langone Medical Center, “If you are trying to learn something, whether it’s physical or mental, you can learn it to a certain point with practice. But something happens while you sleep that makes you learn better.” So I guess all those late nights cramming for exams didn’t actually benefit me… Learn from my mistakes and rest up to help you learn new things!
  2. Improve your athletic/gym performance. If you are an athlete or spend time being active, sleep can help improve your performance. Snoozing long enough improves action time, motor function, motivation, risk of injury and even muscle recovery time. sleep
  3. Maintain a healthy weight. Did you know that maintaining a healthy weight and being well rested go hand-in-hand?! Think about it- when you’re overtired, you have less energy to go for a run or cook a healthy meal after work. This is also physiological. The hormone leptin is responsible for making you feel full after you eat. When you are overtired, your leptin levels are lower. As a result, people who lack sleep are hungrier and tend to crave high-calorie foods.
  4. Say goodbye to stress! Getting a good night’s sleep allows you to handle any stress you may face more easily. Usually, when you are overtired, you are less patient and more easily upset, which can easily increase your stress levels.
  5. Avoid those germs! Getting enough sleep helps to improve your overall immune system. Lack of sleep surpasses the immune system, which can potentially lead to a greater risk of developing a cold or flu, according to Diwakar Balachandran, director of the Sleep Center at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Being overtired also plays a role in our we fight illness once we come down with it as well. More sleep = better immune system response.

It’s true- sleep really is the key to success in so many areas of our lives. If you struggle getting enough sleep at night, start slow. Set a reminder on your phone and try to get in bed just 15 minutes earlier than normal. Slowly you can add a few more minutes on as you get used to climbing into bed earlier. Give it a try and see how your life improves!

Seven to nine hours of sleep are recommended for the average adult. How much sleep do you get on average? What tips do you have for being well-rested? Share your suggestions and experiences in the comments below!

Friday Fit Tip: get 10,000 steps daily

Why are fitness trackers so popular? Are they necessary? Are they worth the hype? Do you really need one to lose weight and get in shape?

For me, my fitness tracker helps me stay on track. Some days I feel like I’ve been busy and running all over the place- but my Fitbit can tell me if that is actually true!

Valentine’s Day dates on a budget

Looking to show your sweetie some love without breaking the bank? SAME GIRL, SAME.

With V-Day right around the corner, I’ve got a list of fun Valentine’s Day dates on a budget. I’ve already scrolled through Pinterest, texted the girls and did the dirty work for you. YA WELCOME.

Friday Fit Tip: wake up & chug water

Happy Friday, friends! We made it through another week! As usual, I’m providing you with a Friday Fit Tip to keep you on track this weekend!

Today’s tip: chug a liter of water right when you wake up in the morning. This tip comes straight from Cameron Diaz! She shares this advice in her book, The Body  Book: The Law of Hunger, the Science of Strength and Other Ways to Love Your Amazing Body.

Diaz herself follows this tip every morning. “It’s very important to start your day off with a lot of energy,” she says. “For me, that starts with getting up, brushing my teeth, and drinking some water—I drink a liter of water straight down.”

Drinking water right away in the morning is an easy way to prep your bod for a healthy day. Here are a few benefits of drinking water right away in the AM:

  1. Water kick-starts your metabolism: Drinking at least one large glass of water in the morning can boost your body’s metabolism by about 24 percent!
  2. Water helps you stay full longer: water will help fill your stomach! Did you know that drinking a large glass of water before meals can help prevent overeating?
  3. Water helps your body flush out toxins: when you drink water in the morning before you eat, this helps to purify your colon, allowing nutrients to be absorbed more easily. Your kidneys also function better when your body is getting enough fluids.

To help you remember to drink up right away in the morning, fill a cup with water before bed and put it on your nightstand or somewhere close to your bed. Chug that water right when you wake up!

Have you put any Friday Fit Tips into action? What have the results been? Share your stories with me below in the comments!

Friday Fit Tip: how to avoid a plateau

A plateau is defined as, when you reach a state of little or no change after a time of activity or progress. Most people have experienced a plateau during some stage of weight loss.

You likely got in a good routine, kept up your healthy habits and all of a sudden- the numbers on the scale stopped going down. SO FRUSTRATING, right??

Luckily I have a few tips to help you avoid hitting a plateau or to help you over a plateau!

  1. Switch up your workouts: If you typically do the same workout every day, you will likely see results for awhile. But in order to continue to see results, you need to provide your body with muscle confusion! This could be as simple as trying a new workout class, adding in some weights to your workout or trying a HIIT workout! Switching up workouts helps you to avoid a plateau, but also keeps you from getting bored of your workout.
  2. Add an extra 15-30 minutes to your workout: This tip goes along with tip #1. If you always walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes, try switching up your routine by jumping on the stair master for an extra 15 minutes. Use the extra 15-30 minutes to kick your workout up a notch and burn some fat!
  3. Consider cutting or adding calories: It’s super important to know how you are fueling your body. I like to use MyFitnessPal to track what I eat on a daily basis. When you are losing weight, your metabolism usually drops because your body now needs less calories to fuel a smaller version of you. According to MyFitnessPal, “the calorie intake that you initially had when you began your weight-loss journey will need to be adjusted to match your body’s current needs for weight loss. Make sure to revise your calorie goal in MyFitnessPal every 10 pounds or so.”
  4. Include a cheat meal: Once a week I have a “cheat” meal. I sit down and eat whatever I want in that sitting, usually, my choices are pizza and ice cream! Once I get up from the table, I’m done. I get right back to clean eating and good habits. This helps me stay on track by giving me something to look forward to AND actually increases leptin levels, decreases ghrelin and normalizes hormone levels. Leptin and Ghrelin are two hormones that influence appetite and fat loss. Leptin is the “satiety hormone” and ghrelin is the “hunger hormone”. This hormone optimization is what can help you avoid plateaus and see continued fat loss.

 

Have you dealt with a weight loss plateau? What was your best solution for getting past your plateau?

Fitness, Health & Wellness Goals for February 2017

Hi there! I like to start the beginning of each month by setting fitness, health and wellness goals. These goals keep me on track for the upcoming month! What are your goals for this month? Share them with me via email or in the comments below and I’ll help you stick to them!

It’s hard to believe January has already come and gone! I’m not complaining though… With January behind us, we are one month closer to warm weather! (Sorry Winter, but I’m ready to leave you in the dust!)

January Goals Review

My first goal from January was to drink a gallon of water per day. While I didn’t drink a full gallon every single day, having the goal of drinking a full gallon pushed me to drink more water than I normally would. This helped keep me fuller longer between meals and helped clear up my skin!

My second goal was to workout 6 days per week. For the most part, I did pretty well with this! I started Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide workouts and have been sticking to them since the beginning of January.

My third goal was to eat 5-6 small meals per day, consisting of primarily fruits, veggies and protein. I had let my clean eating habits slide during the holidays, so it took awhile to get back on track. I’m back to 5-6 small meals per day and feeling great!

My next goal was to dedicate at least 2 hours per week to self-care activities. This goal is still something that I need to work on… 

My last goal was to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Going to bed earlier has become much easier with Branden now working first shift! I have been going to bed earlier, getting more sleep and feeling more energized! 

 

My goals for February

1.Stick to clean eating! Allow one cheat meal per week.

I feel so much better when I eat well and take care of my body. But, I’m human and I like to eat chocolate and pizza. After restricting a lot of food in my past, I’m working to find a more balanced approach. I want to stick to clean eating and allow myself one cheat meal per week. Every night I will also allow myself to have a small dessert- such as a square of dark chocolate.

2.  10,000 steps per day + daily workouts and rest day on Sunday.
During the day, my job requires me to sit at a desk. Keeping track of my activity and working to hit 10,000 steps is a challenge when working behind the desk! I am going to continue my BBG workouts
daily and keep Sunday as a rest day.


3. Read a new book.

I love, love, love to read! But I don’t make much time for it. This month I am going to read a new book and make time for reading.

4. Limit technology distraction.

Technology is my biggest distraction. I check my phone when I’m bored, when a commercial comes on, or just to keep my hands busy. I’m going to work on being more intentional about when I use my phone and how I spend time with the people in my life.

What are your goals for the upcoming month? Share them with me below!

Spending freeze update | month one

As of today, we are officially one month into our spending freeze! This month has been challenging to say the very least. But as with any challenges, we learned some valuable lessons.

The first thing that we learned is that we ate out A LOT. It took a lot of willpower for us to not order pizza, or swing by Subway for lunch. We were so used to stopping for food if we were hungry, or grabbing a snack at the gas station if we needed one.

To avoid eating out, we carefully meal prepped our meals for every single meal and snack. To fill our love for pizza, we found that we could buy a take-and-bake pizza from Aldi as long as it fit in our grocery budget. This allowed us to get our pizza fix without going over budget or breaking our spending freeze rules!

Changing our mindset to avoid going out to eat and learning to eat up what we have is NOT easy. It seems that no matter what happens, we want to treat, reward, celebrate or comfort ourselves with food. Breaking that cycle is almost impossible. But we are working on it!

The second thing that we learned is that sometimes it’s okay to break the rules. During our first month of the spending freeze, we “cheated” three times. I’ll be fully transparent- we were not perfect this first month. But in my opinion, eating out three times is not a bad way to start. We can only improve from here. In one situation, one of Branden’s friends came into town. We hadn’t seen him in over a year! We certainly were not going to make him eat our leftovers! Both of the other situations were similar. Other than that, we did not buy anything extra! No clothes, no shoes, not even any cute finds from Target.

The third thing that we learned is that this spending freeze is going to be worth it! Putting our extra money aside has already allowed Branden to pay off one of his smaller student loans and pay off HALF of his credit card debt. And we’re only one month in! We can’t wait to keep chipping away at our debt.

The fourth thing that we learned is that I truly CAN survive without coffee. This month I went to Starbucks a grand total of ONCE. And the only reason I went then was because Branden had a gift card. I’m still alive and kicking over here, even without coffee!

Want to learn more about our spending freeze and why we are doing it? Check out this post. Have you ever done a spending freeze? Or found a way to pay off your debt? We would love to hear your experiences!