Friday Favorites {4/1/16}

Hi everyone! Hope you’re having a great week.  I haven’t been quite as active on the blog front this week.  I’ve been so busy at work… can’t do it all!  When I feel like I’m being pulled in a million different directions, I try to take a step back and evaluate what I have going on.  The first thing I do is drop anything I can that’s not mandatory and that doesn’t have a added benefit to my life.  That step alone tends to make me feel a lot better.  Although it seems counterintuitive, I make sure I’m taking the time to eat well, exercise, and get plenty of sleep when things are feeling extra stressful.  If I don’t, it just makes everything feel that much worse.  Hope this helps if you’re busy, too : )

feta salad

One of the ways I like to unwind at night is by reading my favorite blogs.  Here are some of the recipes and articles that caught my eye this week:

FOOD

chickpea broccoli buddha bowl

source

This amazing looking (and vegan!) Chickpea Broccoli Buddha Bowl.  We’ve been really into bowl meals lately.  They’re so versatile, customizable, and easy to re-heat.

As I said in my make ahead breakfast post, I try to prep 1 or 2 meals on the weekend that I can re-use for breakfast throughout the week. This sweet potato, goat cheese & turkey bacon egg bake looks awesome!

I made this recipe last weekend when we wanted to have dinner in instead of going out and it was SO good.  My husband had it for leftovers everyday until it was gone : )  Give it a try!

LIFE & ORGANIZATION

healthy beauty products

source

Natural Spring Cleaning – this post from Davida at The Healthy Maven is an amazing round-up of ideas to try in the home, mind and kitchen.  I can’t wait to make some of my own cleaning products using the tips in her post!  I like to do a spring cleaning of appliances this time of year – 1-2 cups of vinegar and a sprinkle of baking soda + run 1 cycle + air dry.

Making healthy habits stick.  Who doesn’t need help with that!?

EXERCISE 

Medicine ball workout from Fitnessista

Lindsey posts great workouts complete with instructions, video and a printable/pinnable option – I can’t wait to give this 30 minute AMRAP a try sometime soon.  Any workout <30 minutes, and I’ll try it!

Have you read anything great blog posts this week?  What do you do when you start to feel too busy and overwhelmed? 

 

 

How to Use a Standing Desk (Properly)

Good morning! I hope you all had a nice weekend.  If you had off on Friday, I hope you got to enjoy some extra time doing something fun for yourself or with family and friends.   Today’s topic: how to use a standing desk.

Since Monday morning means back to work for a lot of people, I figured I would share some tips on how to properly use a standing desk.  If you don’t have one, read on to consider some of the things you may need if you purchase one.  I never really thought about any of these things until I got a standing desk at work.  I learned the hard way that just standing and typing is not enough – you have to take some precautions to protect your joints and get the most out of your new office toy.  Now that I have one, I love it! Sine mine is electric, I put it up and down throughout the day.  I find that I’m really focused when I’m standing!

Thinking of getting a standing desk? Try Beyond the Office Door.  They’re a Wisconsin company who makes their desks in the U.S.  They have electric and adjustable stand up desks.  If you like to buy things off Amazon, try this Varidesk for another adjustable option.

Pin this —->

how to use a standing desk

Gather Your Tools:

  • Make sure you have comfortable shoes in the office and wear them any time you use your stand-up desk.  You should not stand in heels or anything that lacks support for your feet.  You will definitely regret it later…

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Friday Favorites {3/25/16}

Happy Friday everyone! To those of you celebrating the holiday this weekend, I hope that you have a great weekend and get to spend time with family and friends.  The weather is supposed to be pretty nice here in Philly, so we’re hoping to get outside and enjoy the Spring weather.  Here are a few favorites from around the interwebs this week.  Enjoy!

beets whole foods

[gorgeous beets at Whole Foods this week]

Food:

Lee, you had me at Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars <3

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3 Make Ahead Breakfast Options

Happy Wednesday!  I hope you’re all having a great week so far.  I don’t know why, but having breakfast prepared ahead of time is one of my biggest musts.  It may be because I don’t like to eat when I first wake up, or also because I enjoy stopping for coffee after the gym and on my way to work as a way to break up the day.

Either way, I’ve had to figure out some staple recipes that I can turn to that are 1) healthy, 2) budget conscious, and 3) easily prepared ahead of time and good to re-heat.

Since many of my favorites are from some of my favorite bloggers, I thought I’d share their recipes here with you and let you know what changes, if any, I made to make them any healthier or more transportable.

#1 the Fitnessista’s make-ahead breakfast burritos

make ahead burritos

Can I say more?  These breakfast burritos are not only muy deliciosa, but they’re versatile and easy to take to work, too.  You can get creative with the filings and swap out or add ingredients you do or don’t like.  I’ve made these with and without a little cheese, with spinach and roasted veggies, or without guac for my husband.  Make a batch on the weekends, freeze, and then wrap in a moist paper towel and microwave for 2 minutes when you’re ready to enjoy.  This was a huge hit in our household!  Side note: these also made for a great “gift” to my sister and brother-in-law after they came home from the hospital with their newborn son.  It was so easy for them to re-heat and eat with one hand!

#2 Steel Cut Oats + fruit/nuts you have on hand

This one is not fancy or complicated, and therefore it makes sense that it’s my own.  When I’m craving oats for the week, I make 1 big batch of gluten-free (these GF ones from Bob’s Red Mill are great) over the weekend to use all week long.

apple oatmeal

To make –> bring 6 cups of non-dairy milk (almond or coconut are best), 1 tsp of vanilla extract and a pinch of sea salt to a boil.  Once boiling, add 1.5 cups of steel cut oats and stir.  Turn down to a simmer, and let simmer for about 25 minutes.  Approximately 5-8 minutes before the oats are finished cooking, I add whatever fruit I’m going to use that week (strawberries, blueberries, unsweetened dried cherries from Trader Joe’s, etc.).  When you re-heat, just add a small splash of water before heating.

#3 PB Fingers’ Customizable Egg Muffins

custom egg muffins make ahead breakfast{I made these with red peppers, parsley, spinach, tomato and onion}

These egg muffins are so simple, yet delicious! They make for an easy on-the-go option and are filled with protein and nutrient-packed veggies.  I like that you can change up the veggies you use each time you make them.  I also try to include some difference spices or fresh herbs to bring even more flavor to the party.  They re-heat really well, too!

What do you like to eat for breakfast?  Do you have any easy make-ahead options that you can easily transport to work and re-heat? 

3 Benefits to Morning Exercise

I was hesitant to even write this post because I honestly believe that you should fit in exercise whenever you can.  I also understand that not everyone is a morning person or that you may have circumstances that prevent you from exercising in the morning.   On the other hand, I can only speak from experience and in my experience, my lifestyle requires I schedule and plan exercise ahead of time if I want to make sure I get my daily movement in.

 

morning exercise benefits

It’s also important to define “exercise”.  Exercise doesn’t mean hours in the gym or even going to the gym at all.  It can be a class, yoga in your house, a brisk walk, or whatever movement works for you.  It’s great that there’s a push now to just move more overall.  People are realizing that it’s unhealthy to sit for the majority of the day, even if you do exercise.

Not only do I have to work out at night sometimes because of my work schedule (can’t go to a deposition with sweaty hair!), but I can’t work out everyday either.  I do what I can, when I can – and that works for me.  I just prefer to workout in the mornings because of the benefits I’m going to talk about in this post.

Now that we know I’m not just talking about going to the gym, working out everyday, or ALWAYS working out in the AM, let’s talk about some of the reasons it’s helpful to fit your exercise in the AM (when you can!) if you’re busy.

  1. Fewer Interruptions:  I don’t know about you, but not many people call me early in the morning and invite me to Happy Hour or to grab breakfast before work. There are very few people who want to hang out with me at 6:00 or 7:00am :  )

When I leave my workouts up in the air, I consistently shove them aside to do things that are clearly more fun – go to happy hour with my co-workers, meet my family for dinner, or go out with a friend.  The point is, I want to be able to do all of these things when they come up, so exercising in the morning means that I’m open to plans that come up later in the day.

In addition to “social interruptions”, unexpected work projects come up or long days at work leave me feeling so drained that, despite my good intentions to exercise after work, I can’t muster up the energy to go to the gym when it comes down to it.

There are 2 steps you need to take if you want to stick with morning workouts:

  • (A) become a morning person:  To become a morning person (or at least get up when your alarm goes off!), check out this article by Athena @ Fitness & Feta.  She gives some great tips and touches on a lot of the things I suggested in this post and this post.
  • (B) schedule your week ahead of time: try sitting down for 5 minutes on the weekend to plan out your week.  I keep all of my appointments, meetings, court hearings, dinners, etc. in my iPhone so I have a really good idea of what I’m doing all week.  I try not to schedule workouts on days I know I’ll just end up skipping because I have too much to do already.
    • Enter a calendar entry for each one of your workouts. Use fun emoticons and put the exact workout you’re going to do in the notes section (i.e., 30 mins cycling, yoga class @ gym, Workout #1 Winter Shape Up, etc.).  Anything you can do to make it more exciting than it is, right?

When I have less than 25 or 30 minutes and I’m looking for a quick cardio session I warm up at a moderate walking pace for 5 minutes, and then switch on/off between walking briskly at 4.0 mph for 2 minutes and running ~7.0 mph for 2 minutes for 20 minutes total before cooling down for about 5 minutes at a slow walking pace.  Gets the job done! 

2. Set Your Intentions: For me, one of the biggest unexpected benefits to morning exercise was how it affected me for the rest of the day.  If I’m going to take all of this time to set out my clothes the night before, make my breakfast, pack some protein powder, get up at the crack of dawn and sweat my heart out, then I’m certainly not going to reach for that mediocre cookie leftover after an office lunch meeting.  For the most part, I’m motivated to eat well for the rest of the day and make sure that I get plenty of water to rehydrate myself.

Overall, I think you’re much more likely to stick with your goals if you feel like you’re putting forth effort and that you don’t want to blow it.

3. Energy Boost:  Another benefit to morning exercise is that you actually feel more energized throughout the day.  Morning exercise is the gift that keeps on giving because your EPOC (excess post-exericse oxygen consumption) keeps your body burning calories long after you leave the gym.

Exercise (in many forms) also gets your blood pumping and oxygen flowing, which studies have shown can have lasting effects on your mental sharpness for up to 4-10 hours.  If you work long, stressful days like I do, you know how beneficial this point is!

Need some motivation? Try this:

  1. Love music?  I look forward to plugging in to unplug from the world when I exercise.  Download the Spotify app, find a playlist or station that you love, and give yourself something to look forward to.
  2. Remember the feeling you get after you exercise.  Have you ever regretted a sweat session?
  3. It motivates me to think of my overall goal (to be healthy and well) and that getting up and moving is another step towards that goal.  It doesn’t hurt when I buy myself a new pair of Zella leggings every once in a while (<——- have you guys tried these? I’m obsessed!).

*Please remember, I am not a personal trainer or a fitness expert (yet), I’m just sharing my personal experience and some of the planning tips that have worked for me. Talk to your doctor or a medical professional before starting any exercise regimen or changing your current routine.  Thanks for reading! 

Do you like to exercise at any particular time?  If you exercise in the morning, what motivates you to get up each time and sweat it out? 

Friday Favorites {3/18/16}

Happy Friday!  I hope you all have something fun planned for the weekend.  We are having dinner with family in Atlantic City and hopefully relaxing a bunch, too :  )

Atlantic City

Atlantic City, NJ

I like to share links to articles or blog posts that I read throughout the week on Fridays.  I hope you check some of them out and let me know what you think!  Have a great weekend.

Workplace Wellness:

Workplace Wellness Initiatives – I definitely agree with #3 and #4!  In terms of #5, I don’t like to be too pushy with my healthy ways, so I try to just set a good example and let people talk to me about it if they want to.  If you do happen to have some like-minded health conscious people in your office, ask if they want to start a walking or lunch group that meets every once in a while to motivate each other.

Greenery:

Did we really need another reason to love Target?

Thought Provoking:

The world didn’t stop spinning when Davida stopped working out for a month… An awesome post on achieving a healthy, balanced attitude towards health & fitness.

Lee’s hilarious, yet painful, story about how she broke her foot running in Mexico.  Poor girl!

Fitness:

workout

{source: Burpees to Bubbly}

Can’t wait to try this bodyweight workout this weekend from Monique @ Burpees to Bubbly.

Spring bodyweight workout from Fitnessista – I’m so happy to see the word “Spring” in a blog title : )

spring-clean-your-fitness

{source: Fitnessista}

Spring Clean Your Fitness Routine – the biggest change in my fitness routine from winter –> spring has been getting outside more.  Also, I always try to make my gym workouts as efficient as possible, but the nice weather has me even more motivated to get in and get out.

Food:

This tart cherry pineapple parfait – YES, PLEASE!

Quiet Your Blender – I’m not a fan of super loud noises, so of course I was intrigued by these tips on how to make your blender quiet down.

Have you guys read anything this week you’d like to share? 

Healthy Breakfast Choices at Panera

No matter how much preparation you put into your meals, fitness, and overall health, there are always going to be times when you need food on the run.  Panera is one of those places that I stop by for breakfast on my way to work when I don’t have time to prepare anything, and it’s also a place I like to grab coffee and a healthy snack to write these blog posts ;  )

Before recently, the general thought about Panera in the healthy eating community was that they disguised themselves as a healthy restaurant when really their food was made with chemicals, additives and lots and lots of unhealthy carbs… until recently.  Have you guys heard about all of the changes Panera has made?  Of course, they’re not perfect and there are still improvements to be made, but this is an awesome start.

So what are some things you can order if you’re trying to eat well and you need to grab something on the run?

healthy breakfast panera

One of the best things on Panera’s breakfast menu is the Steel Cut Oatmeal with strawberries and pecans. It comes with a sugar and cinnamon topping, but you can ask for that on the side (like I did in the above photo).. 

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Prepare for Your Workweek Throughout the Week

Morning everyone!  I hope you enjoyed the first post I wrote in this 2-part series on preparing for your workweek.  Although some people don’t want to spend a few hours each weekend preparing for the week ahead, I think it’s important to focus on what you can do and realize that every little bit counts.  I’ve gotten the best bang-for-my-buck for those practices I’ve implemented at night.  I thought I would share a few of those things with you here to help you prepare for healthier workdays.

Today’s focus: tips & tricks for the workweek that you can implement during the week.

Here are a few things you should give a try the night before a busy workday to ensure healthy success…

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Preparing for Workdays on the Weekend

Did Daylight Savings hit everybody else as hard as it hit me?  Phew!  It’s so funny that 1 hour can throw things off so much.

I’m going to give you guys a couple of posts this week on preparing for your workweek on both the weekend and during the week.  Through this series of posts, I’m going to break down some simple tips and tricks that you can use to make your workday healthier, one step at a time.  Some people like to get everything done on the weekend, and some like to spread it out over the week.  Other times, the choice is out of your control and you just need to do what you can.  The point is that really any amount of preparation or energy you put forward will make you healthier (than if you did nothing) in the long run.

Today’s focus: preparing for your workday on the weekend.

My workday preparation is constantly evolving, but I like to think that I have a decent system down nowadays.  If I don’t do a little bit of preparation either on the weekend, the night before, or early on the morning during the week, I look something like this —>

ThanksgivingMeltdown03-e-1117.jpg.653x0_q80_crop-smart

[source]

Here a few tips that you can try over the weekend that will make your whole week much easier.  If you only have 1 hour, 30 minutes or just 15 minutes, there should be a few tips that you can give a try:

Food Prep – Bulk: I’m going to talk about “bulk” food prep in much more detail in future blog posts, but I’m sure you’ve heard all about the trend of cooking a number of recipes or bulk basics on the weekend that will last you all week.  It’s certainly not for everyone.  I have weekends where I don’t want to spend 1, 2 or 3+ hours in the kitchen cooking and cleaning up (isn’t that the worst part!?) instead of being outside or with loved ones.  The basic idea behind bulk cooking is to set aside a block of time over the weekend to wash, chop, dice and cook up most, if not all, of the food you need for the week.

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