Tuesday, December 16, 2014

5 Things to Consider When Feeding Your Kids

Cancer, obesity, diabetes, injuries, hormone imbalances. These are things we as adults are facing but worse yet, our kids are seeing...in their young years. It's a serious problem and I don't think it's possible to hide from every ailment that is out there, but there's a lot we can be doing to prevent these life-altering things as much as we can, especially for the sake of our kids.

#1 Starts with US.
If we want to instill healthy habits in our children, then take a look at yourself. Do you hope for your child/children to have the same habits as you someday? Most likely they will carry them as well, it's just reality. We all know the phrase "do as I say and not as I do" and how that doesn't work. We are imitators and watching people changes what you do. You want your kids to hang out with other kids you approve of, right? Well, are you being the adult your kid may turn into and you want to imitate? The way you look at yourself, dress, food you eat, habits of exercise will shape the little ones around you for the rest of their lives too. It's a really big reality check and not necessarily fun, but you are your children's greatest influence and that's the role you stepped into when becoming a parent, we all have. As you take steps on your journey of fitness, your child will see that and God will use it in their lives and other people's lives. This isn't about being perfect, but it's an area to examine. 

#2 Fruits and Veggies
Fruits and veggies. Fruits and veggies. Keep repeating it. That's the main source of health! We know the findings, we see the benefits in studies and it's written, EVERYWHERE. From the time your little one takes the first bite, until walking out of the house for college, put fresh fruits and vegetables in front of them and their friends every chance you get. Talk about preventing obesity, diabetes, cutting cravings, regulating hormones, reducing mood swings, keeping a healthy digestive system, etc.....these are the ticket! It's the best medicine you can provide your kids and it's never too late to incorporate them more. We know that tasting something 7 times starts to change your pallette towards liking the food. The best thing you can do is put it in front of them, prepare containers in the fridge, leave a bowl of fruit on the counter, take them as snacks when you're out, grow vegetables in the back yard, sneak them into the food (hehe), just take every meal as an opportunity to increase their love for fruits and veggies...it's their best chance at conquering health. 

#3 Protein
Now that we've had our chat on fruits and veggies, don't forget the protein. Protein is a building block for muscle. It also provides satiety (being full), keeps blood sugar stable, and many other things that benefit the body. This is also a key factor in staying healthy. Our body needs it to be healthy. Most important protein we need does come from animals, but don't be afraid of this. Just go for the grassfed, no hormone/antibiotic, and wild caught stuff. It contains healthy fat that we need, keeps blood sugar stable, has important vitamins that keep our hearts healthy, and satisfies, and cuts cravings. Kids need it!

#4 No Processed
Whatever you do, focus on keeping real food in and the boxed stuff out. Just like knowing the facts on fruits and vegetables, we really do know the facts on processed stuff. 2 big problems though. The first is that EVERY single study done on boxed proves the opposite of health benefits. We in no way, shape or form benefit from a lab ingredient, we just can't create a food/ingredient that's healthy for us. Whetther it's HFCS, dyes, aspartame, hydrogenated oils, all of it continually proves how bad it is for our bodies. The second problem is that we still don't even know all the problems these foods really affect us! What's worse is how it impacts our kids. This is the real problem of obesity. Boxed foods are filled with preservatives, empty calories, sugar and/or sodium which makes our bodies crave and go out of control. Behavior problems, hormone imbalances, uncontrollable appetite, vitamin deficiencies...it's all linked and their growing bodies don't know what to do with it. So get the boxes and packages out of the house! 

#5 Food Examples and ideas. 
Honestly, this has been pretty straight forward. It's almost hard to think of things at first, yet it's so simple because it really isn't complicated. Just shop the perimeter of your store, mainly, and you've saved time by not going through all the junk aisles. Plus you do really save money by not buying expensive boxed things. Try all kinds of fruits and vegetables you haven't given a chance. Have fun with marinades, seasonings, and different cooking techniques. Meat, fruit, veggies....pretty simple. Keep processed grains to a minimum (doesn't mean you can't ever have them). But here are things I am doing with my girls. We aren't perfect and I don't claim to be, so don't think I am!! 

Lunch yesterday for them was string cheese, boiled egg, strawberries, raspberries and a few organic bunny crackers. 

Dinner tonight was a lemon chicken, roasted fingerling potatoes, green beans, nitrate/nitrite free bacon, peppers and onion, plus corn and pomegranate. 

Hannah eating pomegranate by the handful :)

Lunch box...water in water bottle, homemade applesauce (RECIPE), homemade granola bar (RECIPE), boiled egg.

Cheddar cheese, strawberries, pretzel rods, homemade applesacue.

I make grilled cheese now and again but I use real cheddar cheese, butter the bread, typically have salad and quality tomato basil soup that doesn't have HFCS or other preservatives.

Another lunch box meal...applesauce that has no preservatives or added sugar. Then cheese, pretzels, mandarin oranges, and pineapple. 

Here are just a few things I am sending to school, and feed my girls. They also eat raw peppers, cucumbers, apples, and salad quite often, I am just lacking pictures on those. I know culture is go, go, go and whatever is convenient, but let's not sacrifice our health and the health of our kids. Grabbing an apple out the fridge is quite easy and convenient as well, it's just training ourselves. That apple has so many more benefits than a packaged "apple filling" Nutrigrain bar (sugar, empty calories, sugar). But the good news is that it's never too late to start, and building that habit for your kids will be a normal routine for them the rest of their lives. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

10 Reasons Women Should Lift Weights

A majority of women that I have come in contact with since becoming a trainer, 6 years ago, rely on aerobic/cardio for their weightloss endeavers. I used to as well, until I started really lifting. Dropping a pant size or 2 when in already great shape was crazy for me. But it was the strength, better posture, flatter tummy, and character built that was so great about changing the actual size of my body. It was my "secret weapon" to getting my body back in excellent shape after each child and it is for every other athlete.

I actually have had several friends mention that they are just having trouble losing the rest of their baby weight, in the last couple weeks. I get so jazzed and burst with excitement to share the "secret" to re-shaping your body, losing weight, and not starving yourself  or increasing your cardio to 2 hours a day to get there. Getting back into pre-pregnancy clothes? One word. LIFT. Want to shed 20 years of weight? Go HEAVY. The secret is the muscle you are building, there's so many advantages, more than just losing weight, let's break it down. 

#1 Faster Metabolism
Those precious babes we bore. Totally worth it, but boy it takes your body on an unexpected ride. One part of the ride is adding 8-10 pounds of body fat in ONE pregnancy. Plus, your ligaments loosening and stretching to accomodate a child growing inside of you at a fast rate. Which then causes muscle imbalances and not to mention stretching those abs far apart (bowling ball sticking out your middle?!). So adding fat and losing muscle means a slower metabolism. Plus, every year after you turn 20, a percentage of muscle mass is lost if you don't lift. Oh man, spiral here. This accounts for the typical 5-10 pounds women gain each year after they reach 20. So add that and multiple babies, you feel screwed. 

Not so! Lifting weights literally reverses that because a pound of muscle burns 50 calories a day versus the 5 calorie a day a pound of fat burns. That's a HUGE difference. Faster metabolism here you come! So let's say you started at 140 pounds with a body fat percentage of 25, which means your body burns around 1400 calories a day while resting (BMR, not factoring any activity). Let's then then add 20 pounds from age and pregnancies. So your weight increases to 160 and body fat is at 29%. That means your body is burning around 1500 calories a day. Not much increase for the amount of weight you put on. Also, you have a larger belly, your back hurts often, you don't like to wear tanktops or shorts in nice weather, and you're low on energy. Not fun. Each year after this that you don't lift weights, and even if you don't add on any weight your fat can still increase so your metabolism will slow back down towards 1400. Then add extreme calorie cutting/yoyo dieting and you hurt your metabolism so it slows at a faster rate. Sound familiar?

That's a lot of numbers and I know I am spending a lot of time here, but this is important. Cardio or Aerobics cannot put muscle in your body. I will say it again, cardio CANNOT add muscle to your body and increase the speed of your metabolism. It burns fat, but it will not do what weights can do. Go back to the numbers and let's find the solution. Say you lose the 20 pounds and your body fat goes down to 22% because you're lifting. Your BMR (resting calorie burn) goes to 1,480, and since it's resting calorie burn, it doesn't factor your workouts in. We also know that you have a longer calorie burn when lifting weights than cardio, so you will continue burning for up to 48 hours AFTER your workout. Now we are rolling! But back to BMR, you are able maintain the higher level of calorie burn at a lower weight with less body fat. Let's say you're 10 years older at this point, that's an increase from where you started, plus you'll be smaller, leaner and you'll be able to maintain a faster metabolism! Change is possible. Take a look at this chart. Starting at the 30% and then going to the right (for women), there may be little difference in weight but much smaller and a more defined body. It is literally re-shaped. 

#2 Less Injury
When you lift heavy weights, the muscles that surround important areas, like your spine, your bones, and organs actually are more protected. Fat is squishy and weakens your support system. So bending down and picking something up is not a problem when you have muscle there to carry part of the load (versus just your bones). You know how we see random videos of an 80 year old woman or man doing things 20 year olds do? How is that possible? It's because they have kept their bodies strong enough to avoid injury. There's a principle or syndrome in fitness called the Disuse Syndrome. You can use it or lose it, in literal sense. If you don't use a body part, or your whole body, you will eventually lose it because it won't withstand even regular tasks. There were studies done on female high school cross-country athletes and when you added in a 12 week weight training program, there was significantly less injury, not only that but better performance and after incorporating weight training practices each season the school was #1 each year with their competing schools.  We know building muscle avoids injury, so let's put it to practice!

#3 Builds Character
Lifting does not only benefit the physical body. When you lift your body weight, bands, free weights or use machines, you are working on your personality. It takes discipline, focus, determination, dying to oneself, perseverance, and control to make this a regular practice. I'm not saying cardio doesn't do this as well, but at the end of the day, you feel stronger on the inside and out. Another aspect is the confidence it gives when you see actual results. You're not just running on a hamster wheel with seeing no change, which would be discouraging. There's just a difference in your mannerisms when you look and feel strong/lean. 

#4 Lower Risk of Heart Disease
Studies show that lfiting strengthens your heart and increases the blood going to and from your heart, which lowers blood pressure. If you do 30-45 minutes of strength training there can be up to a 20 percent decrease in blood pressure afterwards. Bye bye medications. I have personally had multiple clients go off blood pressure medications after they began training with me. One man was on 12 medications, 3 of which were for BP and within 3 months he dropped 20 pounds and went off all 3 because his BP lowered so much. 

#5 Fight Osteoporosis 
So as I mentioned above, muscle protects bones and ligaments from injury. But adding muscle actually strengthens your bones well. Studies show that when you put tension on your muscles (when lifitng) you put that tension on your bones which makes your body build your bones up. Lifiting weights has so many benefits it's crazy!

#6 Helps Blood Sugar Levels
Did you know that you have different colored muscles? Yes, you have white and red colored muscles. White actually aids in lowering blood glucose/sugar levels because it gets used for burning sugar. Lifting weights grows more of the white muscle and is more prevalent in strength sports or body builders. Red muscles are typically found in more aerobic athletes such as a marathon runner and is used for fat oxidation, which means it burns fat. This shows why alternating between lifting heavy and doing cardio is beneficial for the body as a whole and that balancing both create a nice body :)

#7 Better Brain
Studies show that for middle-aged people, lifting moderately heavy on a regular basis actually improves cognitive thinking and memory. 

#8 Balances Hormones
When you lift, there's a hormone effect that happens. Endorphins kick in, cortisol lowers, blood pumps throughout your body, blood sugar regulates, blood pressure drops, and all of that works together to make you whole and healthier. We know that hormones regulate your entire body, so it only makes sense that lifting on a regular basis would help balance those out if it's so beneficial for the rest of your body. 

#9 Reshapes Your Body
You see pictures of them posted everywhere; pins of women with flat stomachs, beautiful legs, and sculpted shoulders. The secret? Lifting. The only way you can actually shape your body to look like the fit people you want to look like is to weight lift. Muslces are tight, smaller, and lift everything, so building it gives curve to a woman's body and definition for a man. 

#10 Relieves Stress
Researchers have found that people lift generally produce less stress hormones (makes sense with all the things mentioned in #7) and keep calm under more tension. Plus, lifting helps literally relieve stress during the workout. It gives you a place to "work-it-out" and let those endorphins kick in, which is better for your anger and decision making. I know that I personally go and lift weights when I am feeling more stressed and it does help. 

There are so many other benefits and these are just the tips of the iceburg. Here are more links to other resources if you're interested and some are associated with studies I have mentioned above. 

Put it to Pracitce
Now, I have talked a lot about lifting and maybe you want to know what that looks like. Welll, each person starts at a different place, has varying flexibility, different skills, balance, etc. This is not one size fits all. Lifting heavy is basically keeping a muscle under tension to the point of tearing it for it to rebuild stronger. So maybe it looks like doing lunges repeatedly without standing fully, or wall squats, push-ups, tricep dips on a chair, etc.

Less Reps or More Reps?
Being able to build muscle is to continually increase weight you are lifting to build that muscle. So once lunges no longer give results, holding weights in your hands while lunging is the next step. Keeping your reps low is the key to building muscle quickly. The more reps you do to keep up means the workout is turning into cardio and that's not your goal. You want your last rep to be the last one you can possibly do, physically. The max amount of reps for building muscle? I cap at 15 but typically 12 is going to produce better results. So once you add those weights to your lunges, if you start with 5 pounds, increase to 10 pounds, then continue up and up. If you can't buy weights for a while or you have a max amount then use bands, challenge your balance, anything to challenge the muscle will help. 

Whew, that was a lot of information but hopefully helpful to your exercise endeavors. Stay strong fitness peeps!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Homemade Applesauce

I never liked applesauce, that is until I tried homemade applesauce a few years ago that my sis-in-law had made. And like my in-laws, once one jumps on a wagon, the rest usually follow (which is pretty fun:)). So making applesauce is something we do now. I feel like I have a love affair with food! But it's because the real stuff is just so good. Local, fresh, and made in your own kitchen just doesn't beat the pre-made stuff. I will warn you that the recipe I use is different than maybe traditional because I don't peel the skin off, only because of using a Victorio food strainer. I borrowed this one so find someone you can borrow or take the skin off first and you'll have to put through a food processer (which I don't do).

Now, I will tell you that there is a trick to making the kind I am used to...and It's this food strainer. It's like magic. Makes it very easy... 

The skin and seeds come out this end and when you crank it, applesauce comes out the other side. 

Bushel of apples (I used golden delicious which are sweeter and require little to no sugar)
apple corer/slicer or just a pairing knife
Victorio food strainer 
1 or 2 large pots
large cutting board
brown sugar and white (if desired or you can make unsweetened)

1. Set up your Victorio. It clamps onto something solid. I used the end of my countertop. 
2. Wash apples in sink then use your apple corer/slicer and start slicing away. I threw them into a bowl then transferred to a stock pot. 
3. Once your pot is full add a 1/4 cup water, keep lid off, and turn heat on to medium high. If you are using a large stock pot (I used a regular size that comes in a set of pans and then a stock pot) add 1/2-1 cup of water to your pan.
4. Stir often so all the apples cook evenly and don't burn. 
5. Once all the apples are soft, turn off and put into strainer. Turn the crank and out comes applesauce! It's fun for kids to help here.
6. 2 pots of apples made me a large bowl of applesauce. 
7. With the large bowl of applesauce add your cinnamon and sugar if desired. I used 1 tbsp cinnamon, 1/2 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp brown sugar. I also did a batch of just cinnamon, both are good.
8. I used a funnel to easily put in jars, put the lids on and stuck in the freezer. 
9. Just repeat until you are out of apples!  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Apple Crisp in an Apple

I saw this recipe on Pinterest and had to make it. Boy I was not disappointed! It's fast, easy to make and pretty inside those apples! Oh, plus they are good portion sizes, just enough. Seriously, make this if you're wanting dessert. I've made this 2 times now and took pictures both times so I had plenty to choose from. haha

The recipe is not mine so I am posting off the BLOG I got it from. Her pictures are also better than mine. Ha. But it's just too yummy not to post. I did sub einkorn flour for the regular flour and it was awesome. 


All of the sweet and caramely goodness of a traditional apple crisp, stuffed and baked inside fresh Autumn apples with the best crumble topping. Top it off with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce for an incredible fall treat everyone will go crazy for!
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 4
  • 8 apples (I used fugi and golden delicious..either is great)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
crumble topping
  • ½ cup flour
  • ¼ cup oats
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. First, prepare the crumble topping. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, oats, brown sugar, sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter with a pastry knife, or two forks, or with your hands until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.
  3. Peel and chop 4 of the apples. Add chopped apples, butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon to a medium sauce pan and sauté over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until apples are tender. Remove from heat.
  4. Chop the tops off of the remaining 4 apples and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh. Discard the flesh. You don't need to get every little bit out, just enough to make a "bowl" for the filling.
  5. Fill scooped-out apples with apple filling from the sauce pan. Top with a generous amount of crumble topping.
  6. Place stuffed apples on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until crumble topping is crispy. Serve warm and top with ice cream and caramel sauce if desired. Enjoy!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Homemade Chips

When you eat real food, making things like fries and chips is just fun. You know exactly what's in it, you can change up the flavor with different seasonings, and feel good after you eat it. Win win. 

Making chips is not different than fries, really, other than how you cut them. But if my hubby wants chips, I'll make them :) 
They do turn out thin and crispy which changes the flavor, plus it's variety, which I like. 

Actually, my favorite snack food used to be potato chips. I'd come home from school as a kid and sit in front of the tube with a bag of chips. Soo addicting. But I cut that out years ago and I don't miss them. 

But making your own chips is a different ballgame than buying a bag. Better ingredients, no preservatives, healthy oil, and a limited amount that is for one meal makes this a good choice. So surprise your family and make a batch. 

Homemade potato chips (serves 4)

4-5 large potatoes 
Pam spray 
Olive oil
Seasoned salt or regular 

1. Rinse, peel, and slice into thin chips. 
2. Put in bowl of hot water for 5-10 minutes (or several hours...doesn't really matter). It just helps them crisp up nicer.
3. Preheat oven to 415-425 degrees when ready to cook.
4. Spray rimmed pan with olive oil spray (Pam). Drizzle olive oil across pan lightly. 
5. Lay each piece on pan. Drizzle more oil. 
6. Bake 10-15 minutes and watch for them to brown on one side. Flip when browning. Watch and repeat a couple times. When they start to brown keep an eye out cause they'll cook fast at that point. I like an even crispness so I toss a couple times. 
7. When at desired crispness, take out, season with pepper, salt or seasoned salt while still hot. Toss together. Serve with meat and veggies. Enjoy! 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

2 years

My youngest, Hannah, was born 2 years ago on the 18th. I decided to document my journey with getting back into pre-pregnancy shape/size (HERE). I thought I'd share where I am at in my journey, even 2 years later, mainly because I never read other people's postpartum journey passed 6 months. So hopefully if you're a mom, this will encourage you. 

Although I went down to pre-pregnancy weight fairly quickly, my body has taken time to move, re-shape, tighten, flatten, lift, etc (you moms understand all those things!). My clothes did not fit the same for a while. The biggest change for my body was my stomach. I have a little part of wrinkly skin right above my belly button that does not want to go away, and it has bothered me. Plus, my tummy was just loose in general. My stomach did NOT like being stretched so far. Ha. 

(1st Year)

Hormones are also in play for a long time after giving birth, add on taking care of bigger kids, you've got a whole pile of struggles. But once the beginning subsides, your body starts returning to normal, your love for all your kids grows, and your hormones level out (good DIET and regular exercise do the work!). 

I think that the journey of becoming a mom does A LOT to you. It refines you. It challenges your priorities, your relationships, your habits. Finding your identity is crucial. If it was built on the way your body looks, or your career, your relationship with your husband, or whatever else, it can come crumbling down. Your relationship with your spouse is important but he can't be the rock that Jesus is. He can't fix your emotional problems, the longing to find fulfillment when you once worked full time to now at home all day. Your body changes and some things are permanent. It's life. Things fade away...except for the love God has for us. Laying down your expectations and just finding joy in the fact that you are a Child of God is the most rewarding thing you can do. 

Since I am a Child of God, I can let go of others that wrong me. I can give up my bad habits and let Him change them. I can stop nagging my husband about things I would like to change and let the Holy Spirit do His work inside him. I can have grace with my kids and myself when we mess up (we all mess up!). Because of my identity in Him I can stop obsessing over having the perfect body and just rest in the process of the work He is doing in me, while I continue to eat and exercise how He wants me to. God has been working on my heart in all these areas. 

Anyways, with lifting weights, increasing my flexibility, and working on plyometrics (bodyweight exercises), my body continues to improve. So the moms out there that have been trying for a year...keep trying! Don't give up! There is hope. I think there is so much pressure to be "back" by the one year mark. Who made that up? Seriously. When did that become the rule of thumb?  If you're like me, I breastfed for a year so your appetite is crazy, hormones are still up and down, your menstrual cycle is not regulated, sleep is not always consistent, man, there are so many factors. 

Entering year 2 feels like I'm entering my prime. I am so excited about what's ahead. When you're on a journey, there's different phases. It has so many highs and lows, it sees different things, and it moves at different speeds. So after having a baby, it's just a different point in your journey of being healthy. The first year postpartum not the entire journey. I think the first year was just the benchmark in regaining my strength and my body returning to normal. But the longer time passes, the flatter your stomach gets, the more your body tightens, your flexibility increases, things get lifted, incontenince goes away, but it takes consistency and time. 

(2nd year)

Year 2 also brings something new for me. I felt God calling me to start pursuing my training business again. The last 2 years it was on the shelf so I could completely focus on being a wife and mom. But recently I saw a door open so I stepped through it and I am so thankful. After I walked through, I saw all the pieces God put together for me to start doing this again. Now God is using my passion in people's lives a couple mornings a week, again. What a fun journey. And I have peace. I know this is where He wants me and I blessed to be His hands and feet in other people's lives. I have the luxury of being home all day with my girls and when I train I don't feel like I am working, it's just fun. I am blessed beyond words. 

To the new mom, to the mom with 4 kids, to the pregnant mom.....keep up the good fight, stay on the journey. Learn to actually enjoy it. Forgive yourself a lot. Try new workouts. Stretch. Involve your friends and family. Find a workout buddy. Seek God and He will give you the desires of your heart.