What Matters Most

Once again this week you didn’t receive a Monday morning check in post or a Workout Wednesday post. Much like last week, the blog has been quiet.

After Robin Williams committed suicide, I started to think a lot about the mental health aspect of this blog. After all, it was always meant to be featured prominently with my background in mental health counseling and personal struggles over the years. For whatever reason, it hasn’t been as much of a component as I’d like.

So in thinking about this, and how to change it, I took some time off from blogging to appreciate and experience what matters most to me in life.

In the spirit of doing what makes us happy, I’m sharing some of my happy moments from the past two weeks. I would love it if you wrote your own post, or created a Pinterest board, or expressed it in some way, and shared it in the comments. I think we could all benefit from that.

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Joe and I have been going hiking more. He loves the hiking, hates the photos.

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I met Jerry the King Lawler at Boston Comic Con.

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I painted our living room.

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I've been working out...a lot.

I’ve enjoyed my time with Joe, family, and friends. I’ve taken time for myself. I’ve had days where I’m going nonstop and days where I’ve done next to nothing. But I’ve done what matters most: I’ve done what’s important to me personally.

What matters most to you?

xoxo,
Becki

Train Like A Freak: TLF Apparel Review & Discount Code

This is a sponsored post. I received TLF Apparel free of charge for a review on my blog. I did not receive any other compensation. All thoughts are my own. 

When I first started my journey into fitness, my workout apparel was limited to whatever oversized t-shirt and pair of shorts or sweatpants I had lying around. I bought one pair of shorts used off of eBay (which I still have, for nostalgia’s sake), but I didn’t invest in workout clothes. At the time, just getting out and moving was the most important thing, I didn’t care how I looked.

As I started losing weight and getting more and more fit, I found that cute workout clothes were empowering. A new pair of running shoes could help put a spring in my step when I otherwise wasn’t really feeling like heading out for a workout. Now that I’m in workout clothes all the time at work, it takes something extra special to give me that extra spring. TLF Apparel proved to be just that.

When I was first contacted by TLF Apparel, I was struck by their mission:

To provide premium athletic & lifestyle apparel and accessories designed to push the limits of innovation and support human performance at the highest possible level via fit, wearability, and functionality, while simultaneously providing an exclusive sense of style!

Performance, fit, wearability, and style. Those are hefty promises and TLF delivers. When I was given my choice of outfits, I had a hard time choosing just one. Style was undeniable, which you can see for yourself on the TLF website. I loved the different sayings on the tops, which give me an extra boost of motivation. In case you didn’t check out the website yet, you should know that TLF stands for “Train Like A Freak” (don’t you just love that?). When my outfit arrived, the real test began.

TLF apparel

As far as fit, it was like a glove. I received a sports bra, capris, and a top and was positively giddy with how everything fit. My first workout in the outfit was yoga with Joe. Even though the top is loose, it didn’t get in the way during a single pose throughout the workout.

I wasn’t sure how the outfit would perform in higher intensity workouts (I was concerned the sports bra wouldn’t provide enough support), so I gave it a try. You may recognize the outfit from my HIIT video on Workout Wednesday. After I filmed the workout, I put myself through it and everything held up great!

For my third workout in my outfit (I was looking for any excuse to wear this outfit), I did a heavy leg workout followed by a high intensity cardio workout on the elliptical. This is when I had half expected the capris to fall down (or ride up, if you know what I mean), but everything stayed exactly where it was supposed to! The slits in the back of the shirt were both stylish and kept me cooler than what I usually wear.

Everything about the outfit I got from TLF Apparel held up to their promises. I recommend TLF Apparel wholeheartedly and will definitely be getting more TLF Apparel for myself.

Ready for the best part? TLF Apparel is offering 20% off your total order for any readers who use the code 20TLF003! In addition to that discount, TLF offers free U.S. shipping on orders over $75 and free international shipping on orders over $150.

Get to the website and get your TLF order on its way to keep your motivation and enthusiasm going even once summer starts to fade away and the weather starts to get colder. Because nothing will help keep you warm like training like a freak!

xoxo,
Becki

Workout Wednesday: HIIT

Hi, everyone! This week for Workout Wednesday I decided to try a little something different. Rather than sharing with you all of my workouts for the week, which have been slim given my last physical therapy appointment, I wanted to share my favorite recent High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout.

Workout Wednesday

Check out the video below where I demonstrate the workout.

The workout consists of 5 rounds, where each exercise lasts 30 seconds. The exercises are as follows:

  • Mountain Climbers
  • Push Ups
  • Squat Jumps
  • Bicep Curls
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Wall sit
  • Burpees
  • Bent Over Rows

Check out form, modifications, and more info below. Once you go through this circuit (each circuit is 4 minutes) for 5 rounds, you’ll have an amazing 20-minute workout that will have you totally tapped out.

Do you integrate HIIT into your training routine? Would you like to see more workout videos on Workout Wednesday?

xoxo,
Becki

Homemade Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins

Baking is a tricky thing. Some people have a hard time being successful at baking from scratch even if they follow the directions exactly, measuring everything. Other people, for whatever reason, seem to come by it naturally and don’t really understand why it’s so hard for some. I belong to the latter group. I’m not saying I’m the most amazing baker in the world (if I were, I would have my own bakery and be rich), but baking from scratch does seem to come pretty naturally for me.

Upon going gluten-free to help with some digestive and skin issues, I got nervous and stopped experimenting with baking. I kept thinking that gluten-free baking is totally different from “regular” baking and that I wasn’t experienced enough with the ingredients to be successful at it. So for a while I stuck with pre-made mixes.

Then this past weekend I was craving muffins. I got blueberries in my CSA and wanted to use them up on some homemade blueberry muffins. I didn’t have a muffin mix and I loathe following recipes, so I decided it was time to wing it and hope for the best. Turns out, I can bake gluten-free too!

**As a reminder, since I don’t use recipes and don’t measure everything I use, these are estimates and not guidelines.** If you’re looking for step-by-step gluten-free recipes, this is not the site for you. This is meant to be a source of inspiration–a starting point for those who like to wing it in the kitchen.

Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins

I have a problem with muffins that are overly sweet. With my healthy living goals, I don’t want breakfast to be a time when I eat something that would otherwise pass for cake if it were later in the day. For that reason, not only are these muffins gluten-free, they are refined sugar free, with only pure maple syrup and the natural sugar from the fresh blueberries used as a source of sweetness. These won’t pass as cake-like, but they are great for breakfast.

Homemade Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins (all measurements are approximations – makes 8 muffins)

Ingredients:

1 1/4 c. Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Mix

1/2 Tbsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 large eggs

1 Tbsp. coconut oil

3-4 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

1/2 c. unsweetened original almond milk

1 pint blueberries, washed

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare muffin tin with non-stick spray. Mix first four ingredients, then add eggs, coconut oil, maple syrup, and almond milk, stirring well to break up any clumps. Batter should be wet, but somewhat thin (it will thicken the longer it sits). Add 3/4 of blueberries to the batter and gently combine. Fill each muffin tin using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, leaving room for muffins to rise. Top each muffin well with 4-5 additional blueberries. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until done. Allow to cool slightly, then remove from muffin tin and serve warm.

Enjoy!

August Goals Check-In: Week 1

Just like every month lately, August is zooming by! The first full week is over and I just have three more weeks to reach my August fitness goals so it’s time to check-in on my progress. Let’s get started, shall we?

August Goals check in

Running Goal

My running goal for August is 40 cumulative miles. I chose this number to encourage me to get back to regular running, but unfortunately my physical therapist isn’t keen on quite that much running after some flare ups with my shoulder, at least for the time being. When I first started having shoulder issues again I completely stopped running, which means I haven’t run a single mile so far in August (as of 8/9). I hope to get clearance for at least some short runs soon.

Strength Goal

Strength is also being affected by these shoulder flare ups. My goal for August is 3x/week strength training. Until I’m cleared again, I can primarily only focus on lower body exercises, but I’ve been trying to carve out some basic strength routines. Joe has been doing a style of yoga that focuses on dynamic resistance, thereby incorporating much more of a strength component than other styles of yoga, and I finally did one of the videos with him. It was great! It’s going to be a great way for us to spend time together and for me to add strength.

Nutrition Goal

For the month of August I decided to follow Chris Powell’s carb cycling program. Specifically I chose the classic program with alternating high and low carb days. I have been doing a pretty good job with food prep, but admittedly didn’t stick to the program 100% during the first week. Still, I have found that preparing my meals in advance and sticking to the program for the most part has been really helpful in keeping me from eating junk. I do better with specific eating plans than just winging it, so I’m really loving that part of the program so far.

The workout component of the program, however, hasn’t been going well for me. Chris suggests doing 9-minute, high intensity strength workouts first thing in the morning and then showering and eating all within the first half hour of being awake. With my schedule (and needing to be out the door by 5:45 most mornings), I just haven’t been able to get up in time to do these. I know 9 minutes isn’t all that long, but when you’re averaging 4 hours of sleep per night, it feels like a lot.

Weight Loss Goal

Even though I haven’t been as strict with my exercise as I would have liked, my weight loss goal is still progressing. I weighed in on Saturday and so far had lost 3.2 pounds. Granted, I’m sure some of that was water weight, but it was great to see that just the small changes I’ve made so far have made a difference. I won’t check my body fat percentage for another week, but I feel like I’m at least on track to hit my goal of dropping 2% body fat this month.

How are you progressing toward your August goals? It isn’t too late to set some if you haven’t already! Share in the comments below.

xoxo,
Becki

Workout Wednesday: Week of July 27

I’m not going to lie, I didn’t want to write this post. In yesterday’s post about food prep, I alluded to the fact that I got some not-so-great news at physical therapy yesterday. Frankly, I kind of expected it. In the past week and a half my shoulder has gone from totally fine to not so much fine.

Needless to say, that impacted my workouts last week, particularly toward the end of the week. It will also have a big impact on my workouts moving forward. Unfortunately my AC joint is very inflamed and painful, so I’m back to a regular regimen of ibuprofen and icing, along with plenty of rest. My physical therapist rescinded her clearance of some exercises until we can get the inflammation down. Before I get too much into that, let’s take a look at last week.

Workout Wednesday

Sunday, July 27

Sunday 7-27

Sunday was a pretty worthless day for me on the whole. I sat around the house most of the day, feeling utterly unproductive. At the very last minute Sunday night I resolved to not let the day be a total waste and spent just over an hour on the stationary bike. Win!

 

Monday, July 28

Monday 7-28

Still on a high from getting in the workout on Sunday, I did both strength and cardio on Monday, but focused on legs.

3 rounds 
15 high step ups (per leg, 7.5lb dumbbells) 
20 deep squats 

1.5 mile run

 

Tuesday, July 29

Tuesday 7-29

Tuesday was my planned rest day, you can tell from my one minute of being “very active” in the course of the day.

Wednesday, July 30

Wednesday 7-30

Wednesday was a great day! I did some cardio with a client, got in plenty of walking, and then did some circuit training. In hindsight, the burpees I did may not have been the best idea (I went chest to floor), but everything felt fine at the time.

15 minutes cycling with client (recumbent bike; intervals) 

2 rounds 
25 squats 
25 burpees 
25 sit ups 

2 rounds 
15 curl to press (12.5lb dumbbells) 
15 stationary lunges (each leg, pulsing) 

2 rounds 
25 mountain climbers (per leg, 50 total) 
25 plie squats 
25 modified push ups

 

Thursday, July 31

Thursday 7-31

Thursday ended up being an unplanned rest day. Sleep was even more elusive than ever and I just wasn’t feeling it.

Friday, August 1

Friday 8-1

Really not feeling it on Friday. Clearly. Came home after a short day and spent most of the afternoon sleeping. Realized at that point that I really need to do something about my sleep.

Saturday, August 2

Saturday 8-2

On Saturday I helped a friend move, including some heavy lifting and several trips up and down stairs. My “active minutes” aren’t a great indication of the hard workout it ended up being, but on Sunday I was very sore. My biceps and forearms in particular were really feeling all the heavy lifting. Sad I won’t be doing much more heavy lifting soon, it seems.

Suffice to say that my workouts are going to be changing quite a bit for this current week. The pain and inflammation, and reduction in exercise, is clearly going to impact my August goals. While my physical therapist did say I could still run if I’m very careful, she also mentioned it probably wouldn’t be the best idea and I’m better off sticking with the bike, stepmill, and elliptical (no arms). I’m also not to hold weights in my hands down by my side (to avoid pulling on the AC joint). So for this week it’s looking like mostly legs and core work.

Hopefully I’ll still be able to hit my August running goal, with a revised August strength goal of just getting this shoulder issue under control.

How are your workouts progressing? Are you sticking to your August goals?

xoxo,
Becki

Tips & Tricks for Weekly Food Prep

It’s August 5th and I’ve been working hard on my August goals. I didn’t update yesterday because I was holding off until my physical therapy appointment today, figuring that might impact my physical activity (and I was right).

Before I get into physical activity, which I’ll address tomorrow when I share my workouts for last week, I wanted to share a bit about my food prep, Carb Cycling for weight loss and my nutrition goals. Specifically, I wanted to share how I’m making food prep and cooking in bulk work for me.

Tips & Tricks for Weekly Food Prep

I’m following the plan in Chris Powell’s carb cycling program and alternating between high and low carb days. Before I ever started food prep for the week, I put together a menu for almost every meal in the week (minus breakfast, which I make fresh in the morning, dinner for one high carb day because that will be a date night with Joe, and Sunday because that’s a free day).

Carb Cycling menu

This weekend Joe and I joined BJ’s (for those who don’t have one near you, it’s like a Costco or Sam’s Club), so I was able to get plenty of protein and extra veggies for food prep (the bulk of the vegetables I received in my CSA).

Weighing the chicken on my brand new kitchen scaleand getting it ready to go in the oven was my first step after meal planning, along with some Diet Coke to power me through the process.

chicken prep

chicken portions

While the chicken cooked I chopped all the vegetables I was planning to roast and labeled all of my tupperware containers so I would know exactly what was going in each one (and to double check that I had enough food planned out). Seventeen containers later (some used for two meals rather than one), and I was ready to go!

vegetable prep

Labeled containers

Once my chicken came out of the oven I put in the veggies and prepped the salad greens for three meals and spiralized cucumber for evening “pasta”, which didn’t require the oven. Have I mentioned that I love my Veggetti? Cucumber pasta is amazing!!!

After everything was said and done I had completed 4 meals per day for 6 days (a total of 24 meals!) in the course of one afternoon. It was a large chunk of time all at once, but I won’t have to cook for the rest of the week (aside from some quick oatmeal or a protein shake in the morning).

The key to food prep for me is planning everything out in advance. Once I knew what I was eating when, it was easy for me to weigh, chop, roast, and bake all of the food I would need for the week.

Some other tips:

  • Use foil on pans for easy clean up. You’ll love the time it saves at the end of a cooking marathon.
  • Choose cooking methods that are conducive to cooking a lot at once.My preferred method is roasting.
  • Label containers. This will save you time in the morning when you’re searching for the day’s food containers.
  • Give it time. You may not be perfect the first few times you try to prep food for the week, but it will get easier (and you’ll get faster) the more times you do it.

What questions do you have about food prep? Do you have any tips and tricks to share with other readers?

xoxo,
Becki

August Fitness Goals

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. By purchasing items via these links, I will earn a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay for said items.

It’s here, the last day of July. I have to be honest, after this past winter I wish summer weren’t passing so quickly. Still, there is over a month until Labor Day, so I’m going to pretend the summer’s just getting started.

For the past several months I’ve been reassessing my fitness goals. For the final two weeks of July I set a goal to run 30 miles (approximately 2 miles per day) to try to get back to running consistently. What I found is that it was too ambitious of a goal given my schedule, the heat, and the lack of sleep I’ve been experiencing.

It made me realize that I need to start setting my goals sooner than 2 weeks out and being a bit more thoughtful when I set them. Which leads me to today’s multi-faceted post regarding my fitness goals for August.

August Fitness Goals

Running Goal

Running consistently is still a huge goal for me, but instead of 30 miles in 2 weeks, I’ve opted for 40 miles in the month of August. This allows for days off when I want to do other cardio or none at all, but still has me running far more than I have been.

running goal

Strength Training Goal

After my accident, strength training had to take a necessary back seat. I’ve been mostly focused on my physical therapy exercises and adding various strength exercises when I got clearance. For August, my goal is to re-establish a routine by doing at least 3 days per week of heavy strength training. In September I’ll focus more on strength gains.

Nutrition Goal

For my nutrition goal in August I’ve decided to get much more serious about my eating. I tend to do better with a plan to which I can hold myself accountable. I also want something that I can still with long-term because sustainability is the most important aspect of nutrition, fitness, and weight loss.

After some research, I am devoting August to carb cycling. I want to give it a full month to see if I get the results I’m looking for and whether it’s a good fit for me. Specifically I decided to follow Chris Powell’s carb cycling program. I love Chris and Heidi Powell and I love their show Extreme Weight Loss, but even beyond that I love that I can have reward days and don’t have to give up cheese (one of my biggest problems with the Paleo diet, it just wouldn’t be sustainable for me).

So I bought Chris Powell’s Choose More, Lose More for Life, read it over the last couple of days, and am ready to get started on August 1! I’ll update as the month progresses so you can get the full picture of how the program is working for me.

Weight Loss Goal

By doing all of this, I’m being very ambitious with my weight loss goal for the month. The Carb Cycling program I’ve chosen also has workouts included, so those in addition to my own workouts should really propel my weight loss. I also bought a Veggetti Spiral Vegetable Slicer and a Ozeri Pronto Digital Multifunction Kitchen and Food Scale to make sure I’m really careful about what I’m eating and when. If any program is going to work the way it’s supposed to, I’m going to need to follow it closely.

To that end, my weight loss goal for the month of August is to lose 10 pounds and 2% body fat. The body fat percentage is much more important to me than the number on the scale, but I’m hoping to achieve both. This is very ambitious in a month’s time given that I’m at a weight loss plateau after a significant weight loss, but it’s also definitely within reach.

I am going to update my progress on my goals every Monday with my final post on September 1, where I’ll outline my successes and goals for September. Wish me luck!

What are your fitness goals for the month of August? I’d love to hear in the comments! If you wrote your own goals post, share that as well!

xoxo,
Becki

Workout Wednesday: Week of July 20

We’ve made it to the middle of the week and somehow it’s already the last week of July! When did that happen? It reminds me of this Buzzfeed list I saw a few weeks ago, #25 in particular.

25. “Time flies” isn’t just a cute saying. It really does speed up until you’re the kind of person that’s surprised on the 1st of every month.

Disney / Via thatdisneygif.tumblr.com

Grammatical errors aside (I’m the type of person who’s surprised, not that’s surprised), I find this to be very true. Usually the first of the month passes by before I’m able to lay out any sort of goals for the next month. Not this time! Be on the lookout for my goals tomorrow. I’m really going to do it this time!

But for now, it’s Workout Wednesday. I missed this last week, which I explained briefly in my last post, but I’m back! I finally dug out my Fitbit and charged it, so I also have my steps and calories burned for each day last week. I didn’t do as great of a job keeping track of what I did for my circuit workouts each day, but did manage physical therapy exercises and some additional strength workouts most days.

Workout Wednesday

Sunday, July 20

Travel day from North Carolina. Despite not being able to get in a full workout and spent 6 hours sitting down in either a car or a plane, my steps weren’t half bad.

Sunday 7.20

Monday, July 21

2.1 mile run

LOTS of walking (including a trip to Newton Centre and back from work)

PT exercises

Monday 7.21

Tuesday, July 22

2 mile run

PT appointment

Additional PT exercises

Tuesday 7.22

Wednesday, July 23

Rest day

PT exercises

Wednesday 7.23Thursday, July 24

2.1 mile run

PT exercises

45 single leg presses (80lb)

Thursday 7.24

Friday, July 25

1.4 mile run

4 set circuit
15 deadlifts (50lb)
25 air squats (deep)
10 push ups

Friday 7.25Saturday, July 26

PT exercises

Circuit Training at work

Lots of walking canvassing for Steve Grossman for Governor

Saturday 7.26How was your week in workouts last week? Stay tuned for my post tomorrow with my goals for August and link up with your own goals!!!

xoxo,
Becki

Summer Entertaining with Blue Diamond

This is a sponsored post. I received Blue Diamond almonds free of charge to use for summer entertaining and to share the outcome with my readers. I was not compensated in any other way for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Summer is the time for get togethers, especially in New England. After the long, hard winter this year, it seems like every weekend (and sometimes in the middle of the week) there is a party to go to. Whenever I go to a party, I try to take a healthy option for myself and to share with my friends, so that I know there’s something I can eat without feeling guilty.

I had the opportunity to make some great dishes for our 4th of July celebration this year using Blue Diamond almonds and I’m so excited to share them with you! I didn’t write down the recipes, so these are just a general guideline. I’ll probably be making both of these dishes again and tweaking them as I go, so I’ll be sure to update you when I do. After all, there’s still plenty of time for summer entertaining!

The first dish I made was garlic scape pesto. When I got garlic scapes in my CSA the week before 4th of July, I didn’t even know what they were. After some helpful Instagram and Facebook followers, many of whom suggested a garlic scape pesto, I knew I wanted it in my arsenal for the 4th.

Garlic Scape Pesto with Almonds

The first thing I did was pulse some Blue Diamond Whole Natural Almonds in my Ninja (the recipe I used as a general guide suggested pine nuts, but I wanted the flavor of the almonds). After that I chopped my garlic scapes and added them to the blender along with black pepper, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, and parmesan cheese.

I couldn’t help myself and tried it before I took the photo. It was fantastic! The garlic flavor was subtle and strong at the same time. Not overpowering, but certainly there. It had a bit of a bite, making it a great addition for either a dip (which is how I used it most of the night) or as a spread on a sandwich or burger. Success!

I also knew that I wanted to make a protein-based appetizer for the party and decided on Rosemary Black Pepper Turkey Meatballs stuffed with goat cheese and cranberries.

Rosemary Turkey Meatballs with Goat Cheese

Instead of using flour or oats to help bind the meatballs, I used ground Rosemary Black Pepper Blue Diamond almonds. These I ground up using a pull-string chopper. If you’ve never used one, I highly recommend it (maybe this deserves its own post later).

The flavor in the almonds was enough that I didn’t need to add additional seasoning, so to the almonds I added ground turkey breast and one egg. While I let those set up in the fridge for 15 minutes, I decided the meatballs would be best with some goat cheese stuffed in the middle, so I made some goat cheese balls and put them in the fridge as well (which helped prevent them from melting all over the place out of the meatballs when I cooked them.

At the last minute I decided to add dried cranberries to half of the meatballs (hence the two containers in the photo) when I stuffed them with the goat cheese. After baking them at 350 for about 25 minutes, they were fantastic! The ones with the cranberries were the favorite in my book and next time I may even add some chopped dried cranberries to the meatball mixture itself rather than just stuffing them. I also think they’d be amazing cooked in a crockpot with a little bit of a citrus-based sauce.

I loved that both of these dishes were so easy and had minimal ingredients. The flavor of both the natural almonds and the Rosemary Black Pepper almonds enhanced the flavors already present in the recipes. Both were praised at the party and will be in the rotation for the summer parties to come!

Have you ever added almonds (crushed, whole, chopped, or pulsed) to your recipes?

What is your favorite way to eat almonds?

What is your favorite summer party recipe?

xoxo,
Becki

 

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