My Favorite Workout: Walking

I love walking. Enjoying the outdoors, walking the dogs, window shopping. Walking is also very accessible. There’s a reason why there are so many fitness trackers that encourage 10,000 steps per day. It also doesn’t involve many accessories. If you have a comfortable pair of shoes, you are good to go.

When we lived in a building downtown, I walked everywhere. I estimate I could walk upwards of 5 miles or more each day. I walked the dogs around Lake Eola each morning, walked my daughter to her preschool, then walked across downtown to my office building. There were several months where I was walking to her school for lunch. We walked to the grocery store on the other side of the lake, we walked to dinner, we walked to the park and playground. We walked everywhere! That was definitely the least I have weighed since I hit my 40s.

Once we moved to the suburbs, I would still walk my daughter to school but the 7 block walk fell to 1 block. The daily 1 mile dog walk around the lake was 1/2 a mile around the neighborhood (and sometimes not even that since we could just let them out in the backyard). I had to drive to the grocery store and to my office. My daily movement dropped drastically, even with other exercise programs!

I still prefer to walk over driving when I can. When I am visiting my client law firms downtown, I often park and walk from building to building. I’ve even worn through the bottom of my shoes! I love vacations to places like New York City or Las Vegas that encourage a lot of walking. I also love to spend the day at Disney with friends, walking a ton!

There are also many health benefits to walking, aside from the obvious weight loss. The Mayo Clinic says that walking can lower your blood pressure and your blood glucose levels, can lower your stress levels, can improve your memory and cognitive functions. Walking can be part of your self-care routine as well.

This is also a very pandemic-friendly exercise and can be done by just walking out the door. So try and add this great exercise into your routine!

New Year’s Resolutions…Part 2

My last post detailed my annual tradition of setting goals versus resolutions. Part of this process is reviewing past goals. As I started this ritual, I realized I couldn’t do this year like I had in the past.

I decided to take this year month by month. I think especially since the status of the world seems to change so much week to week, this will make things more realistic.

I’m excited for 2021. In January, I’ll be sharing all the stuff I’m doing, including Dry January, my first Diet Bet, my 21 Day Ultimate Reset and how I’m doing with my new workout program.

New Year’s Resolutions?

A time honored tradition as each year closes is to make New Year’s resolutions, usually containing things like “lose weight” or “make more money” but do they really do anything to help us improve our lives?

I don’t make resolutions but I do a review of the year and set goals for myself for the new year. How is that different? Resolutions are so much about pass/fail. Goals also include an action plan and progress towards obtaining those goals are a success!

In 1996 (I know, that’s crazy) I started a Dream Book. In it, I wrote out my values and then set goals for each year. Now, have I been perfect for the last 25 years? No, but I do review past years and craft my goals for the upcoming year. There were a few years I skipped (hey, it’s been 25 years!) I think about things I want to accomplish personally, family wise, professionally, and physically. I also started the book with a list of “life goals” which I still work towards.

My Dream Book

Reviewing last year was interesting as so many goals were impacted by the pandemic. However, others goals appeared that I wasn’t expecting! I review goals periodically throughout the year and make changes as necessary.

I’m excited to set this year’s goals. I’m turning 50 (I know, I can hardly believe it myself) and I think this year will be an amazing year! What are some goals you have for 2021?

Giving Yourself A Little Grace

So I’ve been giving myself some grace. Some grace to not update my blog because I’m not feeling especially inspired. Grace to stress eat cake the week of the election. Grace to skip a workout because I’m tired. Grace to realize that despite all of this, the world kept turning and I didn’t fall apart! The alternative would be spending more time in the fetal position than is healthy.

Part of being healthy goes beyond just caring about your body. You have to consider your emotional state, including how much bandwidth you have to take on certain situations. Especially when we are dealing with post-election craziness and a global pandemic, you have to be fully aware what you can take on or more specifically what you can’t.

So as 2020 winds down, let’s all remember to give ourselves some grace every now and then!

Non-Scale “Victories” or Milestones

Losing weight is always a tricky thing. Our bodies change as we age, exercise, gain and lose weight. One person’s 150 is another person’s 130. It may also be difficult to choose a “goal weight” because you may not have weighed that amount in a decade or more so how do you know if that is an appropriate weight for your current self.

So how can you tell if you are being successful on your journey to slim down? I have several non-scale ways of monitoring my progress.

1. Am I getting stronger or is my endurance changing? The thing I like about doing the same workout programs is I can really gage my progress. If I started out doing 10 pound goblet squats and I’m now doing the same exercise with 30 pounds, I am definitely stronger. If you can make it through a tough cardio workout without pausing, that’s a great sign too. If you are a running, adding distance or dropping your minutes per mile shows progress. These are great non-scale victories.

2. Are you clothes fitting differently? This is a great gage for me. I even have a pair of mint green jeans I am looking forward to fitting into! When I can wear those comfortably again, I know I will have hit my goal! Other clothes begin to get baggy and maybe need to be given away. Be realistic though. If you have been working out a lot, your clothes may fit differently and some may never fit the same as they did before. That’s not a bad thing! Athletic women know the pain of finding pants that can fit right!

3. Do you feel better? If you have more energy, are sleeping better and are less bloated, that is great progress. Honestly, I would rather take all of those than a random number on a scale.

What are some of your non scale methods of tracking progress?

My Favorite Breakfast: Egg Muffins

For those mornings I don’t have a lot of time (which is most lately), I premake these egg muffins. They are super easy to make and you can add whatever ingredients you prefer.

For these, I beat two eggs and pour them individually into a muffin tin that I prepared with some cooking spray. I do this for portion control but if it’s easier, you can just beat 12 eggs in a large bowl and pour into a six-muffin tin. I also added chopped tomatoes, chopped veggie sausage, chopped spinach and a pinch of shredded cheese into each.

Bake for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees F. I test mine with a toothpick to make sure they are cooked firmly. Let them cool and then refrigerate. While I reheat mine in the microwave before eating, my husband often grabs them right out of the fridge.

I promise one of these days I will do another non-breakfast recipe!

My Favorite: Workout Necessities

This list isn’t about workout equipment or outfits, but about little things that make my workout routine (and life) a little easier. I really can’t live without them!

1. Pre-workout and post-workout supplements

I personally use supplements from the Beachbody line: Energize and Recover. Honestly, since I don’t really drink caffeine, Energize is my go-to morning drink even when I don’t workout. It gives me a boost of energy for my workout and the day without jitters. I mix mine with lots of ice so it’s like a refreshing glass of lemonade. It comes in lemon, fruit punch and mixed berry. I really like the fruit punch but I have some mixed berry to try next. Energize has also helped me relieve headache pain!

When I first started lifting regularly, I didn’t use any type of post-workout and I definitely had muscle soreness the next day or two after. When I started using Recover, my muscle soreness became virtually nonexistent and it also helped increase my endurance for my subsequent workouts. Recover comes in chocolate but I prefer orange flavor which tastes just like a creamsicle! A thicker shake-like drink but definitely a pain-saver.

2. Dry shampoo

I have a lot of long hair and I couldn’t possible wash it every day, plus who has time for all of that? Dry shampoo is a girl’s best friend anyway but when your head and hair are all sweaty, you need to get clean. I have tried a bunch of different kinds but my favorite by far, especially after a workout, is Bumble and bumble Post Workout Dry Shampoo Mist. It’s better then just the standard dry shampoo and really works on the sweat to make your hair manageable, presentable and smelling nice. Perfect on second (or third) day hair!

3. Yoga Balm

I was introduced to Yoga Balm this year after a massage at the Ritz Carlton where we stayed for my birthday (ah, the pre-pandemic days). Yoga Balm works with the heat generated in a massage or while you work out so I put it on anything that is sore prior to exercising. It works really well on the parts of my back or neck that sometimes feel sore from sitting all day. It smells much nicer than a sports cream and feels much better too. It’s a little on the pricy side but a little goes a long way. It’s not currently available on Amazon so I linked to it at the Ritz shop. You may be able to find it somewhere else less expensive.

4. A good playlist

I don’t know about you, but it is hard for me to get through cardio or a tough workout without a little music for inspiration. It can be as simple as listening to a playlist on an Amazon Echo or curating your own inspirational list. I used to have a great list of music for my Half Marathons to keep me going. I would make sure they would last as long as my run without repeats and would throw in some special songs depending on the race (Star Wars for Disney races and some Vegas-related songs for running the Strip at Night). I used to save mine on Apple Music or listened to other playlists on Spotify. If you aren’t sure what to listen to, there are plenty of playlists to sample. Most music services will let you save songs to a playlist as you are listening.

What are some of your workout essentials?

To purchase any of my favorites, just click the link. I don’t have an affiliation to any of the products listed above with the exception of Beachbody, which I will earn a commission if you purchase using my link.

My Favorite: Breakfast

Here’s another routine breakfast for me…

My omelet is two pasture raised eggs, one vegetarian sausage and a pinch of cheddar cheese. I bought this egg cooker from Amazon, which is amazing. While my omelet is cooking, I steam my zucchini and season with salt and pepper. For my carb, today I ate half of a Killer Davie’s Bloomin’ Berry bagel but I also add sprouted wheat bread or a veggie muffin. Depending on how hungry I am, I may add some grapes or berries as well. I often eat those right after my workout so they are sort of a pre-breakfast and then eat this breakfast 30 minutes after that.

I’m actually surprised at how much I am enjoying zucchini for breakfast. I used to add steamed spinach but never loved that as part of my breakfast. If I am ever not very hungry, I may add spinach or broccoli to the omelet to get those macros in!

Meal Delivery Companies and Meal Kits

I recently started a new job and am remembering how to juggle everything again. One thing that has helped me through is meal kits. There are so many now days to choose from, how do you decide?

There are a bunch of meal services out there. We previously used Hello Fresh, which definitely made life easier, but eventually stopped after we started gaining weight because of the high caloric and carb content of the meals. This was several years ago and I know that Hello Fresh has added lower calorie meals to their menu since then. Another downside is many of the recipes took multiple pots and pans to complete so the cleanup took as long as the cooking! A good thing is that you could choose which meals you wanted each week and pause the service if you were traveling or didn’t need it. There are many services like this, many which offer vegetarian and other specialized types of meals.

There are also meal kits where the food is completely cooked. We used FitLife foods until my Husband grew tired of microwaving dinner every night. They had a wide variety of foods (and three different sizes) but it was still something you had to heat up. FitLife also offers free diet and health coaching, which was a nice added plus. One I have wanted to try is Trifecta, which makes meal plans with carefully balanced macronutrients and is used by many athletes. These precooked meals are still much better than something from the frozen foods section.

Even the grocery stores have gotten into the game during the pandemic. This week we purchased three meals kits from Fresh Market: Chicken Marsala, Szechuan Shrimp and Thai Coconut Chicken. All three were very flavorful, took 15-20 minutes to prepare, only needed one pan and had a good balance of protein, veggies and carbs although I did add more broccoli to the mix each night. The X factor with these recipes are the sauces, which don’t have a measurable macronutrient, carb or calorie count to them. I didn’t worry about it too much since it’s a small amount.

Chicken Marsala with Mashed Potatoes and Veggies

Many of these plans offer free delivery as well as discounts for your first order. There are so many others out there that I didn’t mention, so let me know if there’s a meal delivery company or meal kit that you loved (or hated!) Hopefully, you can save some time in your meal prep without blowing your nutrition plan!

Why Do Carbs Get Such A Bad Rap?

Carbs are almost a dirty word in todays society. There are just about as many no or low carb diets as there are carbs themselves! Whether you did Atkins or South Beach decades ago or you are keto now, some people swear by the no-carb life.

I was watching the Netflix show Down to Earth with Zac Efron. While they were eating pasta in Italy, Zac mentioned that when he was filing the movie Baywatch, he didn’t eat any carbs. The carb-filled diet of the centenarians in the town they were visiting was the opposite of what any trainer had told him. His diet made a lot of news at the time but he also said it made him crazy and even depressed. I know competitors in fitness competitions carb cycle in the weeks before to enhance their physique. I have never thought of a no or low carb diet to be sustainable long-term.

Zac during Baywatch (L) and Zac during Down to Earth (R)

The problem with cutting out all carbs is that some carbs are good for you. Following a balanced macronutrient diet, like I do, carbs can account for 50% of your diet! (I am usually between 40-50% each day). Carbs provide you with glucose for fuel and fiber for digestion. They also help to keep you full and satisfied so you aren’t tempted to over-eat on unhealthy foods.

We also try and watch carbs in our house because we have two people with Type 1 Diabetes, which is a chronic condition where the pancreas produces little to no insulin. Insulin is needed to break down glucose into fuel. Type 1 Diabetes has no known cause or cure. Although people with Type 1 Diabetes can eat whatever they want, they must inject insulin to “cover” the amount of carbs they eat or drink.

How do you choose which carbs to eat? In our house, we know that most cereals or refined/processed carbs are going to spike blood sugar levels. Same with fruit juices or sugary sodas. I look at these types of carbs as empty calories. I prefer whole grain bread to white bread. There are low-carb or vegetable pastas, even cauliflower rice (although we eat plenty of brown rice).

Some people avoid fruits because they contained carbs. I avoid fruit juice because it only has the carbs but the fiber has been stripped away. We eat a lot of berries, apples and pineapple. Also good are melons and oranges.

In reality, there are many ways to reduce bad carbs still eating the foods you love. Using some of the carb substitutes mentioned above is one way. If you season your cauliflower rice correctly, you can make it tasty, I promise! I have a spiralizer to make zucchini pasta, although there are plenty of options at the grocery store. Even a burger or sandwich can be lower carb by removing the top bun or piece of bread or putting it over a salad. I promise you, as I write earlier, a taco over a salad is still delicious!

For those of you using the Ultimate Portion Fix container list, I usually have whole grain toast as one of my containers. Other popular carbs are sweet potato, black or kidney beans, lentils, brown or wild rice and quinoa. Of course, when you have a glass of wine or beer, that counts as a yellow container, so plan accordingly!

Also, check out this article from the My Fitness Pal blog about the top myths about carbs.

Don’t forget to check out some of my recipes that are filled with good carbs, including cheesecake! Keep checking back for more delicious recipes and let me know if there’s a particular food you would like to see a healthy carb version of!