Why Lifting Weights matters more than Cardio

weights
Ok folks, I know you’ve heard it before, but let me repeat it – STOP OBSESSING OVER CARDIO!! Unless you’re training for a long endurance event, or have a serious love for endurance…there is no need to make every workout a time consuming, robotic endurance routine. Lifting (combined with a good diet) will give you the results you want, no questions asked. Now does that mean you should get rid of cardio altogether? Not exactly, 20-25 minutes of cardio is effective, and good for the heart. However, lifting should be your top priority. Why? Read on…

Have you ever heard the phrase, “make your money work for you”? Without getting into detail, the idea is that you should invest your money, sit back, and watch it grow. Of course you have to do the initial work of attaining money to invest, and in order to get the best results, you would want to continue adding money to your investment. I like to use the same idea for our bodies. Make your body work for you. What do I mean by that? Build your metabolism up, allow your body to burn more energy (calories) per day by putting more muscle on your body. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), metabolism is influenced by physical activity level, resting metabolic rate and genetics. Resting metabolic rates (the amount of energy the body needs to perform daily functions) are higher in people with more lean body mass (aka muscle). While sitting, muscle burns significantly more calories than fat. In fact, it burns almost three times more calories than fat. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn each day. Just as you need to maintain an income in order to add more money into your investment – you will also need to maintain your body composition.

What’s your resting metabolic rate? Here’s a simple calculation that will help you estimate your resting metabolic rate. If you are a woman, multiply your weight in pounds by 10. If you are a male, multiply your weight in pounds by 11. This is a rough estimate of how many calories you should consume each day in order to maintain your current weight. This is by no means completely accurate as it does not take into account your body composition. A higher muscle body composition will require more calories.

Feel like your metabolism sucks and that you gain weight just by looking at food? Let me suggest that you should focus on building more muscle. Maybe you’re not working out at all or maybe you are spending countless hours on a cardio machine, trying to burn off all of the extra calories you just ate – either way, your body is not near as effective or efficient at burning calories as it could be if it had more muscle. Does this mean you have to be a big bulky body builder? Absolutely not! If you want to be, that’s great. If you don’t want to be, that’s great too. Lifting weights does not mean you will get bulky. Ask any body builder, in order to get boulder shoulders or some raging thigh muscles, it takes A LOT of time and` heavy heavy lifting. Your body will slowly build up muscle, it takes time and patience. You can adjust your weight training to meet your physical goals. A lower-rep, higher weight routine will focus on building “bigger” explosive muscles – while a higher-rep, lower weight routine will focus on more of a lean, endurance muscle. Once the results are in – all you have to do is maintain it. This may mean, only lifting three times a week with some aerobic activity on the side. Stay tuned for lifting routines you should include in your workout.

How to kick your Sugar Addiction to the Curb: 8 tips you can start using now

Eat a big breakfast: You’ve probably heard this a million times, and I’m going to say it again – DON’T SKIP BREAKFAST! This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. In order to “break the fast” and get your metabolism going, you must start the day by eating a healthy, hearty meal. Breakfast should not include refined grains or refined sugars. Instead, try my healthy green protein smoothie recipe with afinal product piece of 100% whole grain toast. This fills your body with the nutrients it needs and limits sugar cravings.

Avoid skipping meals– Skipping meals encourages binges (especially refined sugar binges) later in the day. If you know you have a busy day ahead of you, pack high protein snacks somewhere where you can easily access them throughout the day.

Eat enough nutrients– Whenever someone tells me they are always hungry – I first ask them what they have eaten that day. You may be eating all three of your meals, and getting plenty (if not too many) calories but still feel hungry. Refined grains or white carbs (white bread, most cereal, pasta, crackers, chips, candy etc.), tend to be low in nutrients and high in calories. If your diet is high in refined carbs, low in unrefined carbs and protein, your body may be nutritionally starved and will continue to tell you it’s hungry as it is seeking all of the nutrients that it is lacking. This tends to lead to sugar binges. Looking for nutritious recipes? Try this low-calorie spaghetti squash lasagna or chicken tortilla soup.

Drink more water – Up your intake of water to the correct amount and limit your consumption of soda and juices. Water also helps you feel full and allows your body to absorb nutrients. To figure out how many ounces of water you should drink each day, take your weight divided by two. Adjust your intake according to how active you are.

Indulge in moderation – There’s no harm in indulging every once in a while, just limit how often you indulge and always consume in moderation. Some will suggest to go cold turkey but I believe in creating a realistic diet that you can stick with for the rest of your life. Some may succeed with going cold turkey, while many others will rebel and binge after so much restriction. You will always be faced with temptation, so learning how to cope with those temptations are key. If you are craving sugar, try eating some fruit with some Ready-Whip Cream sprayed over the top. If that doesn’t curb the craving, eat a serving of the sweet and call it good.

stawberries

Don’t dwell on your mistakes – If you mess up and have a big sugar binge – don’t dwell on it! We all do it! The ones who have success are those who shake it off and try again. Go to sleep, wake up and start over. Don’t think you have to make-up for your binge by starving yourself the next day, instead continue with a normal, healthy routine.

Do not keep sweets in the house – Never have sweets at your disposure, instead, make them hard to access. Generally, you’ll start craving sweets in the late evenings while you’re sitting on the couch vegging out. Nobody wants to drive to the grocery store at that time. If you do have to have sweets in your house, distribute them into one serving containers…nothing makes you feel guiltier than sitting on the couch with four empty serving bags of sweets.

Get up and move – Sweets is one of the most overly abused “drugs” that arguably attributes to many depression cases while exercise is one of the most underused anti-depressant. Just going for a walk outside will lift your mood and help limit those cravings.

Calorie Blasting Stairs and Burpee Challenge

  I have to admit, this workout gave me a run for my money! I’m always looking for a good challenge, and this was exactly what I needed to start my weekend. You can do this at home (yay) as long as you have a set of stairs (my stair set consists of 20 stairs. If you have more or less, adjust the number of sets appropriately) – if not track down the nearest set of stairs by you and be prepared to push yourself to the limit. Here’s the game plan:
We will be doing intervals of 10, 20, 30, 40, 50
Always start with a warmup!

Warmup:

1min. jog in place
20 jumping jacks
20 butt kicks
20 high knees
10 lunges each leg
20 deep body squats
10 side lunges each leg
Bootcamp Stair/Burpee Challenge 
10 stairs

10 jumping jacks

10 Burpee’s

10 bicycles
20 stairs

20 jumping jacks

20 Burpee’s

20 bicycles
30 stairs

30 jumping jacks

30 Burpee’s

30 toe touches
40 stairs
40 jumping jacks

40 Burpee’s

40 second plank
50 stairs

50 jumping jacks

50 Burpee’s

50 second plank
Ouch!!! I struggled with the burpee’s! Adjust this to what you can do. Never go past your limit. Keep your core tight and take breaks when needed. Yes you will hurt and be terribly sore and tired…but you know what else?? You’ll be so proud of yourself for completing this challenge and taking steps towards looking and feeling your best! Let me know what you thought of this workout.

7 Insane (but true) things about Coffee

Did you have your cup of joe this morning? I sure did, and studies show that most of you probably did too. Coffee is the leading worldwide beverage after water. In fact, its trade is over $10 billion worldwide!!

For years, coffee has been blamed for many negative health risks – from stunting your growth to heart disease and even cancer. Current research is telling us much different. So, what’s the deal? Is this a healthy beverage choice? Do the benefits outweigh the risks? Take a look at the research…

Note: My facts come from credible, peer-reviewed, sources. Don’t believe me? See my citations at the bottom of this blog.

coffee

7 things about coffee that you should know:

  1. Coffee may decrease overall mortality rates
  2. Coffee may protect against Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes and liver disease/cancer
  3. Coffee improves cognitive function and decreases the risk of depression
  4. Coffee consumption has been seen to increase work productivity
  5. High consumption of unfiltered coffee (boiled or espresso) was associated with slightly higher levels of cholesterol.
  6. Some studies found that two or more cups of coffee a day can increase the risk of heart disease in people with a specific genetic mutation that slows the breakdown of caffeine in the body. If you are someone who is greatly affected by caffeine and cannot sleep even after hours of drinking it, limit your coffee consumption!
  7. Both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee contain acids that can make heartburn worse

Other things to consider – what are you adding to your coffee? Many creamers and sweeteners are full of artificial ingredients and fats that are not beneficial to your diet. As always, consume in moderation.

Keep in mind that this research merely suggests that there are more benefits than risks with coffee. However, it has yet to prove that coffee is for sure the underlying factor for both the risks and benefits.

References

Butt, M. S., & Sultan, M. T. (2011). Coffee and its Consumption: Benefits and Risks. Critical Reviews In Food Science & Nutrition, 51(4), 363-373. oi:10.1080/10408390903586412

Clinical digest. People with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease may benefit from drinking more coffee. (2012). Nursing Standard, 26(30), 14-15.

Hensrud, Donald. (2014). Is Coffee Good or Bad for Me. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/coffee-and-health/faq-20058339.

Low calorie – Low Carb Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

This is seriously one of my favorite recipes. If you have yet to try it, now’s the time!! I have been on a mission to find healthy recipes that not only taste awesome but leave you feeling full – this is one of those recipes! Even my husband and toddler love it, which is saying a lot. For another great recipe check out Low-Calorie Chicken Tortilla Soup.

final spaghetti squash

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sized spaghetti squash
  • 1/2 lb of ground beef or substitute with a ½ lb of ground turkey
  • 12oz cottage cheese
  • 24oz of sugar free spaghetti sauce or 24oz of plain tomato sauce
  • Oregano

Directions: First, start by cooking your spaghetti squash. To do this, preheat your oven to 350 and bake the spaghetti squash whole, for 50mins (no need to cut it – halfput in the oven as is). While cooking, brown ground beef (or turkey). Remove spaghetti squash and once cool, cut the squash (length wise) in half.

Using a fork, scrape spaghetti squash out into your casserole dish. Some choose to layer all of the ingredients, but I find it much more convenient to mix everything in the casserole dish all at once – tastes the same and saves time!

shredded squash

Add oregano and pepper to taste, to your sugar free spaghetti sauce. Mix in sauce, ground beef and cottage cheese with the squash. Sprinkle the top with oregano and parmesan cheese. Stick in the oven at 375 degrees and cook for 30 minutes.

*A note about the ingredients*

In order to save on some unneeded calories, I got rid of the regular shredded cheese and replaced it with cottage cheese. There are other great replacement options that you may want to try, but here is why I chose cottage cheese. Not only is it rich in protein and fairly low in fat, but it is high in calcium, B vitamins, and vitamin A. However, as with all food, try not to over consume. Cottage cheese does have a relatively high amount of sodium, so eat in moderation. Since we are getting a lot of protein from the cottage cheese, we can cut back on ground beef which is high in saturated fat and sodium. An even better option would be to get rid of the ground beef altogether and replace with ground turkey – lower in saturated fats, sodium, and thus calories. Trust me, these substitutions do not hinder the recipe. You will love it and feel great after!

final spaghetti squash
Final Product…yummm

Treadmill Workout for Quick Weight Loss

If you’re looking to spice up your treadmill workout – this is for you! Be prepared for a high intensity, endurance testing, maximum calorie burning – workout! Tighten those shoelaces and put on your big girl panties – things are about to get SWEATY! For less cardio and more muscle building check out at-home bootcamp.


Note: If this workout is too easy for you, bump the speed up a couple notches on each interval. Or, if it is too hard – bump the speed down a couple notches.

50 minute Treadmill Workout:

Minutes           Speed

0-2              6

2-5              6.5

5-10            7.2

10-15          7.7

15-20         7.2

20-30        alternate between 7.0

and 9.0 every minute

30-35         7.2

35-40         7.5

40-43         7.7

43-45         7.2

45-50         6.0

Fat Blasting Green Machine Breakfast Protein Smoothie

myself

When my husband and I started our journey to achieving and maintaining optimal health, we began by discussing our goals. Yes, we wanted to shed fat and gain more muscle, but what really got us motivated was the lack of energy and sluggish feeling we were having on a day-to-day basis. We desired the motivation and energy it took to get up and conquer the day, an improved mood, and the ability to look our best.

 

blend it upLet me tell you, starting the day off with this smoothie has been the most effective addition to our new lifestyle! My husband can attest to this (who recently lost 25lbs in less than 3 MONTHS!!!!). When you start your day off right, you want to continue it for the rest of the day.

This is a nutrient packed recipe that will spike up your metabolism and get you feeling great! Try it today and let me know what you think!

green smoothie ingredients

Ingredients:

¾ cup 1% milk

1 small banana

2 tablespoons flax and chia seed blend

1 scoop of your favorite vanilla protein powder (I use New Solutions Vanilla WHEY protein)

                                                                     1 cup of spinach and kale mix

                        1 handful of ice cubes

Directions:

Pour milk in blender first and follow with the banana (break up the banana into ½ inch slices before placing in blender). Continue by placing flax/chia seed blend, protein powder, spinach and kale mix, and ice cubes into the blender. Blend until smooth and enjoy!

yummyyum

Burn 1,000 Calories with this At-Home Bootcamp Workout

Post-workout pic!
Post-workout pic!

Ever tried bootcamp before?? Now’s the time! Great news, this can be done AT HOME…so no excuses! If you are looking for a workout that will spike your heart rate, burn lots of calories, build muscle and endurance all at the same time, then this is for you! For a high-intensity treadmill workout check out interval training.

What you will need: Set of dumbbells (I like to use 15lbs) and a stop watch or clock

How it works: This is a bootcamp ladder workout. We will be doing ten different sets. With each set, we will add on one new workout. At the end of each set you will do 5 push-up burpees. Take breaks when needed. Push yourself hard to see results. You should sweat! (If you are unfamiliar with any of the exercises, do a quick search on google images for picture instructions.)

We didn't say it would be easy!
Hubby’s legs felt like Jell-O

Warmup:

1 min. jog in place

20 jumping jacks

20 butt kicks

20 high knees

10 lunges each leg

10 deep body squats

10 side lunges each leg

Bootcamp Ladder:

Set 1

  • Sprint in place for 20 seconds
  • 10 squats with dumbbells
  • 5 push-up burpees

Set 2

  • Sprint in place for 20 seconds
  • 10 squats with dumbbells
  • 10 (each arm) dumbbell plank rows
  • 5 push-up burpees

Set 3

  • Sprint in place for 20 seconds
  • 10 squats with dumbbells
  • 10 (each arm) dumbbell plank rows
  • 10 push-ups
  • 5 push-up burpee’s

Set 4

  • Sprint in place for 20 seconds
  • 10 squats with dumbbells
  • 10 (each arm) dumbbell plank rows
  • 10 push-ups
  • 25 bicycles
  • 5 push-up burpee’s

Set 5

  • Sprint in place for 20 seconds
  • 10 squats with dumbbells
  • 10 (each arm) dumbbell plank rows
  • 10 push-ups
  • 25 bicycles
  • 10 (each leg) dumbbell lunges
  • 5 push-up burpee’s

Set 6

  • Sprint in place for 20 seconds
  • 10 squats with dumbbells
  • 10 (each arm) dumbbell plank rows
  • 10 push-ups
  • 25 bicycles
  • 10 (each leg) dumbbell lunges
  • 10 (each arm) dumbbell alternating arm lifts
  • 5 push-up burpee’s

Set 7

  • Sprint in place for 20 seconds
  • 10 squats with dumbbells
  • 10 (each arm) dumbbell plank rows
  • 10 push-ups
  • 25 bicycles
  • 10 (each leg) dumbbell lunges
  • 10 (each arm) dumbbell alternating arm lifts
  • 10 long jumps
  • 5 push-up burpee’s

Set 8

  • Sprint in place for 20 seconds
  • 10 squats with dumbbells
  • 10 (each arm) dumbbell plank rows
  • 10 push-ups
  • 25 bicycles
  • 10 (each leg) dumbbell lunges
  • 10 (each arm) dumbbell alternating arm lifts
  • 10 long jumps
  • 10 standing dumbbell reverse fly
  • 5 push-up burpee’s

Set 9

  • Sprint in place for 20 seconds
  • 10 squats with dumbbells
  • 10 (each arm) dumbbell plank rows
  • 10 push-ups
  • 25 bicycles
  • 10 (each leg) dumbbell lunges
  • 10 (each arm) dumbbell alternating arm lifts
  • 10 long jumps
  • 10 standing dumbbell reverse fly
  • 20 toe touches
  • 5 push-up burpee’s

Set 10

  • Sprint in place for 20 seconds
  • 10 squats with dumbbells
  • 10 (each arm) dumbbell plank rows
  • 10 push-ups
  • 25 bicycles
  • 10 (each leg) dumbbell lunges
  • 10 (each arm) dumbbell alternating arm lifts
  • 10 long jumps
  • 10 standing dumbbell reverse fly
  • 20 toe touches
  • 1 minute plank
  • 5 push-up burpee’s

What’s Your Identity?

side crossIdentity has always been a touchy subject for me. Who am I? Where do I fit in? Am I loved? Do people like me for who I am? Why am I not more like this? Or why can’t I be more like that? These are just a few of the questions that haunted me regularly. I have always been a bit shy and reserved. Sharing my emotions or even just understanding my emotions has been very challenging. I grew up in a house where trust was broken. Masking your feelings, failures, and weaknesses were practiced daily. I believed that toughing out your problems on your own, made you strong and independent. I didn’t understand the beauty in weakness and vulnerability. I never let anybody in, but deep down, I longed for someone to show an interest in me, my pain, my struggles, and my needs. I so greatly desired to be pursued and emotionally attended to. I needed acceptance, not rejection. Have you ever felt this way? Are you feeling this way now? Here’s a little something that helped me…

bible verse“Identity is defined as who you are. It’s what makes you who you are; it’s what makes you unique.” I have lost my identity and I have been so desperately searching for one that I could place my happiness and self-worth in. During this time of confusion and desperation, I began basing my self-worth on the amount of friends I had, whether or not I felt people liked me. I also placed my self-worth on how successful I was in athletics, relationships, work, school, and life. My successes in life felt like nothing compared to my failures. I would never feel like I had enough friends, like I was truly liked by others. I would fail in athletics, I would fail in work, I would fail in school, I would fail in EVERYTHING. Yikes!!! But here’s the reality, I’m a failure. WE are failures. And that’s OK! Why? Because our identity does not rely on our successes and failures. Our identity is not found in earthly things. Our identity is not dependent on what people think or say about us. People may call you nerdy or weird, they may also call you pretty and athletic. You may be bullied, you may be admired and praised. But guess what, THAT DOESN’T MATTER! God says, these things are not who we are, it does not define our identity. The only One who gives us an identity and can tell us who we are, is God. He is our identity. We were made in HIS image. And He made us perfect in His eyes. Each part about you was so carefully and uniquely constructed, and with PURPOSE. There’s a reason why you were made the way you are. Embrace it, love it, and rejoice in it. You are LOVED. You are ACCEPTED. Praise God for making you in His image and sending His Son to save YOU so that in Him we can be new and we can have a TRUE identity, an identity that can never fail. We may fail, but God will not. Fix your eyes on God and you will find your true identity. Do not be afraid to face rejections on this earth, do not be afraid to let people in, and do not be afraid to fail. In our failures and in our rejections, we are reminded of our Creator and the success and acceptance we can find in Him. Take chances, go out, make friends, enjoy the many blessings God has given you, use your talents, love and be loved. When you face rejection and failure, turn to God. Be reminded of His grace and love. Be reminded that He created you in His image. He created you with purpose. He accepts you. You are loved.

bible

1 John 4:4-6

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.”

John 15: 4-5

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Low Calorie Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 large chicken breast
  • 1 packet of low sodium taco or fajita seasoning
  • 8oz can of Rotel
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1/2 cup of pepper slices
  • 1/2 cup of zucchini and/or squash slices
  • Optional: 1/2 cup of quinoa or 100% whole grain rice
  • Optional: 1 can of black beans

Directions:

Fill a large stew pot 3/4ths full with water and bring to a boil. Add (uncooked) large chicken breast to boiling water and cook on medium high. While chicken is cooking, cut pepper into thin slices and zucchini into chunks. (Optional) Cook ½ cup of rice or quinoa as directed on packaging. Once chicken is thoroughly cooked, take chicken out of the stew pot and shred. Add corn, Rotel, pepper slices, zucchini chunks, and if you choose, black beans and rice or quinoa, as well as the shredded chicken to the stew pot of water (this should be the same water you cooked the chicken in). Lastly, mix in the packet of taco or fajita seasoning mix and stir. Let soup brew on low for 20 mins. Top with a ½ tablespoon of cheese and sprinkle with kale for presentation.

For another great dinner recipe check out Low Calorie – Low Carb Spaghetti Squash Lasagna.