Recipes!

Welcome to my recipes page!

Please keep in mind that I use the term recipes very loosely. Many of my recipes involve throwing fruit in a blender or veggies in a bowl. So maybe we should just call them combinations? Sounds good to me.

However, one thing is for sure – what you’ll find here will always be:

simple, delicious, and nutritious!

Why?

Well, those are three of my favorite recipe adjectives.

I’m just a simple girl who enjoys delicious food with a set of rocking nutritional stats.

Enjoy!

NEWEST RECIPES


    Simple Watermelon Lime Sorbet
    Cherry Lime Coconut Flour Muffins
    Low Calorie Iced Green Tea Lemonade (Arnold Palmer!)
    Sweet Potato, Kale, and Red Onion Frittata
    Single Serving LOVE Grown Granola Oatcake
    Veggie-packed Lentil Pasta Salad
    Lemon Basil Chickpea Pie (with quinoa)
    Cauliflower Crust Pizza
    Green Chile & Fire-roasted Tomato Bean Burgers
    Cilantro Lime Black Bean Burgers
    Apple Cinnamon Swirl Pie (with chickpea flour)
    Barbeque Tofu Burgers
    Lunch Prep (vegan quinoa bowls)
    Stronger Iced Coffee (espresso cubes)
    Pumpkin Socca Pizza with Pears & Goat Cheese


    RECIPES BY CATEGORY

    Breakfasts

    Oats

    Pumpkin Oats w/banana
    Pumpkin Oats w/nectarine
    Chocolate Cherry Oats
    Favorite Oats <--at least that day 😉 Cinnamon Apple Oats1 Green Smoothie Pumpkin Oats Apple Pie Oats Coffee Oats Blueberry Coffee Protein Oats Single-Serve Coconut Oatmeal Cookie Chocolate Chip Pina Colada Oat Bars Chocolate Amazing Grass Overnight Chia Oats Chilled Pina Colada Oats Shaken Overnight Pumpkin Oats Single Serve Blueberry Pecan Oatmeal Bake Chilled Chocolate-covered Banana Parfait


    Eggs

    Baby Spinach & Feta Omelet
    Kale, Mushroom, Tomato Scramble
    Mini Veggie Sausage Frittatas
    Hummus, Avocado, Egg Sandwich
    Black Bean & Egg Sandwich
    Kale and Beet Egg Bake

    Chia Puddings

    Blueberry Chia Pudding
    Green Tea Chia Pudding
    Pumpkin Chia Goodness
    Strawberry Banana Parfait

    Other

    Healthified mini PB cup Pancakes
    Breakfast Pizza
    Apple Banana Almond Butter Sandwich
    Sweet Breakfast Socca
    Savory Kale Breakfast Socca

    Smoothies/Drinks

    Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte
    Pimped Out Pumpkin Smoothie
    Chobani Green Smoothie
    Cherry Green Smoothie
    Peppermint Mocha Latte
    Superfood Protein Iced Coffee
    Coconut Oil Green Smoothie
    Mango Pina Colado Smoothie
    Mixed Fruit Green Smoothie (w/pom seeds)
    Mango Green Tea Smoothie
    Triple Berry kid-friendly Smoothies
    Kiwi-Strawberry Smoothie in a Bowl (SIAB)
    Carrot Cake Smoothie
    Lemon Lime Green Smoothie

    Lunches

    Veggie Bowls

    Veggie Bowl w/Black Beans n’ Corn
    Veggie Bowl w/Brussel Sprouts
    Veggie Bowl w/Feta
    Sweet Potato Veggie Bowl
    Veggie Bowl w/Roasted Green Beans

    Salads

    Roasted Strawberry, Chickpea, and Goat Cheese Salad
    Whole Wheat Tortilla Taco Bowl

    Lunchbox Challenge Meals

    Mexi-Salad in an Avocado-Yogurt Sauce
    Sweet Potato and Black Bean Red Quinoa
    Lentil Salad
    Three Bean Salad

    Wrap it up

    Acorn Squash & Almond Butter wrap
    Broccoli, Hummus, Laughing Cow wrap
    Cranberry Broccoli Ball wrap
    Pumpkin Tempeh wrap
    Chunky Chickpea & Cranberry Salad
    Sweet Potato, Pomegranate, Tempeh wrap
    Eggplant, Goat Cheese, Green Pepper wrap
    Sweet Green Apple & Tofu wrap
    Chunky Chickpea & Spiced Greek Yogurt Wrap
    Goat Cheese Quesadilla

    Other

    Tempeh & Black Bean Saute
    Spaghetti Squash Pizza
    Spicy Citrus Mustard Chickpea Salad
    Kidney Bean Grilled Cheese

    Dinners

    Healthified Whole Grain Kraft Mac n’ Cheese
    Spaghetti Squash with Greens n’ Meatless Balls
    Whole Wheat Pizza Crust–how to
    Zucchini Bake
    Black Bean & Corn Tacos
    Chickpea Puffs
    Chickpea Tacos
    Roasted Butternut Squash & Green Apple Quinoa
    Black Bean, Veggie & Feta Baked Ziti
    Curried Rice with Curry Peanut Sauce
    Honey Oat Flaxseed Pizza Crust
    Chili n’ Greens
    Spicy Spaghetti Squash + Steamed Veggies
    Black Bean & Corn Salad
    Socca Pizza with Goat Cheese
    Spicy Tofu Taco Filling
    Broccoli Bowl Pizza
    Easy Grilled Tofu
    Green Socca Pizza
    Teriyaki Tofu + Veggie Stir Fry
    Proteinified Pizza (with black beans)

    Veggie Burgers

    Carrot Ginger Kidney Bean Burgers
    Chili Bean Burgers

    Crockpot Creations

    Southwest Sweet Potato Quinoa Chili

    Desserts

    Mini Pumpkin Cuffins
    Brownies: New Healthy Style
    Chocolate Chip Banana Blondies
    Dark Chocolate Covered Monkey Bars
    Seriously Easy Frozen Yogurt 1

    Soups

    Chilled Cucumber Tofu Soup

    Sauces/Dressings/Dips

    Totally Tasty Tofu Cheese Sauce
    Tofu n’ Hummus Sandwich Filling
    Edamame & Broccoli Slaw Salad
    Curry Peanut Sauce
    Avocado-Greek Yogurt Sauce
    Balsamic Vinaigrette
    2 ingredient Sweet & Spicy Sauce
    Chocolate Chip Peanut Flour Dip
    Easy Marinara Sauce
    Spicy Citrus Mustard Dressing

    Snacks

    Snacktime: Part 1
    Pumpkin-Peanut Banana Froyo
    Ancient Grains Granola Almond Butter Balls
    Vanilla Socca EggCake

    I will update frequently as I get creative in my kitchen.

    <3 Stefanie

TurboFire

Lately, I’ve been mentioning the Turbofire workouts a lot! Clearly, I love them – they’re fun, challenging, and they leave me dripping in sweat. In my opinion, that’s an unbeatable combo when it comes to workout DVDs.

Fun + Challenging + Sweaty = the Trifecta of a good workout!

Many of you have expressed interest in the TurboFire system—so I thought I’d give you a more in depth look into what TurboFire is all about.

Of course, I’ll pepper in my own personal opinions and favorites along the way.

TurboFire

‘If you can’t handle the sweat, don’t play with the fire. But if you’re ready to get hot, it’s on.’

Turbofire is an intense cardio conditioning program that involves HIIT drills (i.e., High Intensity Interval Training), kickboxing, aerobic training, and all around fun!

The idea behind HIIT is that it can help you burn calories and fat up to 9x more than a traditional cardio workout due to the afterburn effect.

During TurboFire workout, you complete 1 minute Fire Drills (the HIIT part) in which you go balls to the wall for the entire minute. Then you follow that up with a period of recovery.

Basically, when you exercise at your max your body cranks up your metabolism. In the period following the class, your body burns even more calories to recover.

According to Chalene, 4 minutes of HIIT can be more effective than 30 to 45 minutes on a treadmill or stair climber.

You had me at 4 minutes!

Something I love: each DVD has a ‘new to class’ option in which Chalene (the trainer) breaks down the moves for you so that you can achieve maximum results by using correct form.

After you feel comfortable with the moves, you can move on to the normal class. Here you have the option of blasting the music – which is the ultimate motivator!

Basically, you can work your way up through the levels as you become more comfortable with each DVD.

Start out with the ‘new to class’ option.
Follow that with the normal class – music on low so that you can still hear Chalene’s tips on technique.
Finally, pump up the music and sweat your heart out!
The program comes with 12 TurboFire classes on 10 DVDs.

The number in each title designates the class length.

Get Fired Up

Chalene guides you through the program to help you get the best results.

TurboFire – Fire 30 Class/Stretch 10 workout Class

Fire 30 Class/Stretch 10 Class <—one of my all-time favorites! I’ve done it so many times that I’m in the ‘pump up the music’ stage! In this class, you throw smoking-hot hooks and make big leaps to the bass of "Give Up the Funk." My personal fave: the burpees in the fire drills—they’re killer!

HIIT 15 Class/Stretch 10 Class

In this quick HIIT class, you dial it up for your first High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) class.

This was my first HIIT class and it.was.amazing. It’s a series of 9 30-second drills. They’re broken down such that you do 3 drills, 3 times each. Talk about burning thighs!

Fire 55 EZ Class/Stretch 10 Class

Don’t let EZ fool you—you’ll be sweating to “Dazzey Dukes” and “Push it.”

I’ve only down this class twice – but so far, so good.

Fire 45 Class/Stretch 10 Class <—my current favorite! Kick, dance, and punch your way into shape to the beat of "Wiggle It” and my personal fave – “Boom, I got your boyfriend!” I’ve learned some fab standing core moves from this DVD—I even do them on my own!

HIIT 20 Class/Stretch 10 Class

“Turn This Mutha Out” with 7 sizzling Fire Drills in 20 minutes.

Fire 45 EZ Class/Stretch 10 Class

Take a break from the Fire Drills, but not the fire, as you sweat to “In The Ayer.”

They’re aren’t any fire drills in this DVD—but it’s still a great workout!

HIIT 25 Class/Stretch 10 Class

Here’s 25 minutes of your most intense Fire Drills yet with Chalene.

I’ve got one word for you: sweat.

Sculpt 30 Class/Tone 30 Class

Develop shapely muscles with Chalene’s challenging resistance classes.

I’ve only done this class once—but I definitely felt the burn while using the resistance band.



Stretch 40 Class/Stretch 10 Class

Increase your flexibility and lengthen your muscles for a long, lean look.

I haven’t done tried this class, so I’ve got nothing for ya!

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Personally, there’s nothing about the TurboFire program that I don’t like! I was SO excited when I received the box in the mail that I immediately opened it up and jumped right in. I did the ‘new to class’ option on the Turbo 30 DVD and I was sweating during the warm-up!

Right now my favorite workout is the Fire 45 – the moves and music are amazing!

I haven’t completed the actual program recommended in the book, but I love adding in a few TurboFire workouts during my week to change things up.

Plus, you can’t beat a 15 minute HIIT workout when you’re short on time!

What’s your favorite at-home workout DVD?

Have you tried TurboFire or anything like it?

Q&A: All about the food.

I recently received an e-mail from a lovely reader. She had several great questions, so I figured I would share those and my answers with all of you—Q&A style.

Generally speaking, how long does produce last?

This question is a little tricky since it depends on quite a few factors. So while I may not be able to give any concrete answers, I do have a few tips.

How to make your produce last:

.Store it in the refrigerator! This is key. I tend to buy produce in bulk from Costco, so this is especially important.
.Buy produce that is not fully ripe. Leave a few pieces on the counter to ripen and eat, while leaving the rest in the fridge. Once you eat the produce you have out, take out a few more pieces and let those ripen. This works wonders for me.
.Freeze it! If produce is starting to go bad and you know you won’t eat it, pop it in a freezer bag or container. Frozen fruit can easily be blended into smoothies, cooked into oatmeal, or even thawed and eaten plain. Frozen veggies can be thrown into eggs, stir fries, pasta dishes…the list is endless.
.OR simply buy frozen produce. Most frozen produce is just as nutritious and it lasts for a quite a while.
.Once fruit or veggies get soft/mushy, they’re probably ready to be frozen or tossed. If they’re not able to be frozen, I toss mine outside for the animals! I never throw food in the trash because it’s biodegradable!
.Produce that I’ve found to last the longest (in the fridge): apples (a month in the fridge!), carrots (again, a month or longer), peppers, avocadoes, broccoli, cauliflower…
.A random celery tip: when your celery loses it’s firmness, don’t throw it out! Put it in a cup of water and voila it will be firm again in no time!

Do you shop for one? How often do you shop?

I shop for three. Myself, my fiancée, and our son. That being said, we all like different foods, so in reality you could say that I shop for one—three times.

My son and I are vegetarian, while my man is a meat-eater. About once or twice a month, I’ll replenish our shelf foods (i.e., not fresh).

Items I try to keep on hand:

.frozen veggie burgers (Morningstar farms spicy black bean/breaded chik’n)
.meatless meatballs
.crackers (Special K Multigrain, Mary’s Gone Crackers, Whole wheat Ritz, etc.)
.pretzels (Rold Gold lightly salted tiny twists)
.cereals (multigrain cheerios, kashi go lean, peanut butter puffins)
.frozen veggies (broccoli, edamame, sweet peas, corn, spinach, green beans, peppers, squash)
.frozen fruit (strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, mango)
.almond milk (unsweetened vanilla almond breeze)
.hummus (sabra or tribe are my personal favorites)
.laughing cow cheeses
.breads (Arnold multigrain thins)
.canned beans (black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans)
.whole grain pasta
.canned tomato sauce
.organic eggs
.larabars
.salsa
.rolled oats
.chia seeds <—a post all about chias .almond butter/peanut butter .extra virgin olive oil .Greek yogurt .cottage cheese .bananas .baby spinach .apples Oh boy, that list is quite long and I’m certain I forgot some items! For produce, I go to Costco every two weeks. Although, I usually have one or two items to pick up at the grocery store during the week. So pretty much, I’m there at least once a week! Do you prefer Whole Foods or Trader Joes?

Ahhh, this is a hard question! They’re both great, but they’re different beasts.

Let’s focus on the good points first.

Whole Foods:

.The hot bar <—you must visit this at least once! .huge variety of foods .bulk bins .grind your own nut butter .rocks my socks off! Trader Joes: .awesome prices for organics .decent variety .some of my favorites are here (meatless meatballs, peanut flour, cranberry apple butter, jalapeno cilantro hummus…etc.) I think the biggest advantage to Trader Joe’s are the prices. You just can’t beat them! What are your go-to healthy snacks?

.Special K crackers and cottage cheese (I dip the crackers!)
.sliced apple with almond butter
.1/2 serving of oatmeal
.carrots & hummus
.mug of cereal with fruit (frozen works well)
.melon/grapes/fresh fruit on hand
.crackers & hummus
.chips & salsa
.larabars
.Greek yogurt with honey/nut butter/fruit
.laughing cow cheese & mustard with pretzels <—sounds weird, but it’s so good! .warm vitatop with almond butter .1/2 arnold thin with almond butter and banana .1/2 arnold thin with hummus and avocado .mini green monster .protein iced coffee Again, the list could on and on! What type of protein powder do you use?

I’m not the best person to answer this question considering that I’ve really only tried one or two types!

Right now, I have EAS vanilla protein powder. In my opinion, it’s pretty tasty.

I don’t use protein powder that often (maybe twice a week), so this lasts me quite a while!

I’ve heard great things about SunWarrior, so I might try that next!

Do you eat before you exercise?

Whether I eat before exercise depends on a few factors: time of day, type of exercise, and whether I’m hungry.

If I exercise first thing in the morning (this is rare), then I have a cup of coffee and a banana before my work out.

If I exercise midday or in the evening (most often), then I eat regularly and make certain to leave an hour or more in between eating and working out.

If I go for a mid-morning run, then I’ll generally have toast with almond butter and a slice banana in the morning. This has worked for me so far, so why change a good thing, right?

Since I work out in the evenings most of the time, I try to keep lunch light.

Do you ever get discouraged?

Oh yes. I think everyone does. I wish I could say I’m always motivated, but that would be a huge lie!

My biggest motivation is the feeling I get after my work out is over. I always feel my best after a sweaty run or a great strength session.

Since my weight loss was gradual, there were many times where I just wanted to say screw this and throw in the towel! But before I knew it, I was exactly where I wanted to be.

I have days where I eat more junk that I should, or weeks where I work out only once—but the important thing to remember is this: that one week or that one day will not make a difference in the long run. You slip up, you move on. Don’t dwell on the past because it’s exactly that: the past.

Getting beyond those hurdles is just as rewarding because you know you’re strong enough to push past that loss of motivation.

Once you get in the habit of living healthy to be healthy, there aren’t really any slip ups. It’s just life. I eat cookies, I skip work outs. No one is perfect, and that’s the way it should be.

Buy yourself a cute work out outfit, upload new tunes on your iPod, grab a work out buddy, join a gym…whatever it takes to get you started! Before you know it, you will only need one thing to motivate you: yourself.

Reader’s Request: How to Balance

First things first, how about a little Pipes Challenge check-in!

I have a confession to make—I only did 2 days this past week! Somehow the challenge slipped my mind. Luckily, I remembered it last night and completed Week 2, Day 2. I’ll just have an extra day this week. No biggie!

While I’m confessing my mess-ups, I should mention that I totally forgot about this lovely (no pun intended) award that was passed to me by two beautiful bloggers: Carrie and Colleen! Thanks ladies!


As usual, there are a few ‘rules’ that come along with this award. And as usual, I’m going to break them.

Confession? I like to break the rules. I’m a rebel without a cause.

Not really, but it sounds fun, right?

One of the rules involves sharing 7 random facts about myself. I’m running out of random facts – so go check out my other randomness here and here.

Tell me something random about yourself!

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Reader’s Request: Perfecting Your Balance

I recently received an e-mail from a reader asking me how I balance my life. I’m a mother, a student, a blogger, a girlfriend, a homeowner, etc. She wanted to know how I still make time to work out and eat healthy when I’m fulfilling all my all roles.

A balanced life is something we all strive for. A balanced life takes time, patience, and practice. Even when you think you have it all figured out—boom—something else is added to your plate and you have to factor that in as well.

I wish I could say I was a balancing superstar, but admittedly, I am not. These days, my plate is full. Heck, I might even go as far to say that my plate is overflowing. I’m certain many of you are in the same boat.

Yet, I do have a pretty good grip on the scales of balance. If my priorities seem to be getting out of whack, I re-evaluate and tip the scales back to their lovely balanced position. If only they would just stay there forever, then balance would be a piece of cake.

How can you balance it all?

Prioritize. My health is not something I’m ever willing to put on the back burner. Nor is motherhood. In order to perform well in my various roles, I need to be healthy and energized. Therefore, health closely follows my priorities as a mother. If that means that vacuuming or loading the dishwasher has to wait one more day – then so be it.

Don’t underestimate the time tasks will take. I’ll admit that I am horrible at judging how much time a task will take. I often give myself 2 hours to finish a task, and then it ends up taking 4. I’d say this comes through practice. For now, I’m trying to remind myself of my inept judging skills and allotting more time than I think is necessary.

Plan your week ahead of time.
Meals, appointments, assignments, work outs, even cleaning can be planned. Make sure to plan relaxation time as well – sometimes it needs to be factored in or else it won’t happen! Plan girl’s nights and even date nights ahead of time. That way if you know your night is full, then you can plan accordingly.

In line with the tip above—keep a detailed agenda. This is crucial to balancing for me. I don’t ever confirm a date or time until I’ve consulted my agenda.

Learn how to say no. This is a hard one, but you have to realize that sometimes you just can’t do it all. Say yes to the things that you really want to do and say no to the others. Compromise. Use your priorities as a way to judge what’s important and what’s not.

Give it time—don’t expect your life to fall into place after a week of trying.

Use a system of trial and error. If something’s clearly not working, change it up!

Keep changing it up until it feels right.

Just like anything else in life, balance takes work.

How do you balance your life?

Check your attitude at the door.

I’ve previously mentioned how I am not too fond of my painting class this semester.

I was required to take 3 credit hours of fine arts with a lab for my degree and I thought: “Painting? Sounds like fun!” I’ve always considered myself to be a bit creative and maybe even artistic, so what could go wrong?

Let me tell you how wrong I was. It’s amazing what painting next to a bunch of fine arts majors can do (or not do, rather) for your self-esteem.

My paintings could have been mistaken for those of a 4-year old. Blind-folded. With one arm behind her back. Yep.

For our final project, we had to build a canvas stretcher. That’s hard work!

I decided that going in with a positive attitude would make all the difference in my work. There’s no way I would waste my hand-built canvas with another elementary painting.

Goodbye FML attitude.

So long: “I can’t wait until this class is over” comments.

No more negative Nancy.

It’s time for positive Polly (feel free to call me a dork, I already know).

Hello, Pleasantville!

Time for: “this is great! I can’t wait to see how my huge painting turns out.”

Maybe my painting will end up in a gallery. Okay, that last statement is pushing it. But you get the picture.

Guess what?

It worked! My positive attitude paid off, and my painting is coming along quite well. If I do say so myself.

I spent the better half of the day (6 hours) working on it. Now I can’t wait until it’s done. Not so that the class is over, but so that I can admire (and appreciate) my hard work.

Have you ever changed the outcome of a situation by changing your attitude?

I fully believe that your outlook has a direct effect on your results. Why didn’t I remind myself of this three months ago?

Better late than never, I guess!

Well I’m off to study until my brain is mush. Final number one is tomorrow!

Please bare with my craziness until next week. I foresee some late nights and overly caffeinated mornings. Wait, that’s not any different than my usual life…

I foresee some later nights and even more overly caffeinated mornings.

Stay positive!

The dreaded scale: yes or no?

Happy Thursday!

How has your morning been?

Mine has been pretty relaxed. I took my time to make a nice breakfast and I am currently sipping a warm cup of pumpkin spice coffee.

A perfect way to start my morning. Smile

Breakfast was a big bowl of oats.

Cooked on the stove with chia seeds and water.

Topped with:

Stevia
Sliced Banana
Pumpkin Pie Spice
Glob of Almond Buttah
Cacao nibs

After this picture, I drowned my oats in Almond Milk!

Disclaimer: I am about to delve into the topic of weight and weighing yourself. All opinions stem from what I believe works for me. If this may be a triggering topic, or simply something that you you are not comfortable discussing, then please feel free to skip the rest of this post.

Let’s talk about the dreaded scale.

My morning routine usually includes the “dreaded” scale. I only say dreaded because let’s face it: the scale has a bad reputation. But I think the scale is being unnecessarily judged.

It’s not about the scale itself or even the number it spits back at you. The scale is simply a tool. A tool that can be a great aid to weight loss and weight maintenance.

During the time I was in the weight loss phase of my journey to health, the scale gave me constructive feedback. It let me know: “Hey, step up your game.” OR “Wow, great job this week.” It served as my silent motivational partner!

Once, I had reached a weight I was happy with, the scale became an aide in different way.

Now I use the scale to check my eating and exercising habits. I don’t count calories, nor do I keep track of calories burned. I eat intuitively and I believe moderation is key.

However, if I have an unhealthy eating day without exercise, the scale gives me feedback as to how that affects my body.

Is weight everything? Heck no! But it certainly plays a role.

So I chose to form a healthy relationship with the scale.

It’s worth mentioning that while I use the scale as a tool; the way my clothes fit is equally important.

I understand that many women (and men alike) do not feel this way. And that’s totally fine!

But ask yourself, is it simply the way you perceive the numbers on the scale that give it it’s dreaded name?

Even if you don’t see the number you want to see, at least you know that you need to change up your routine to get results. In my opinion, at least.

So, the burning question: To weigh or not to weigh?

Do you use a scale? If yes, how does it help you? If no, what motivated your decision to throw it out?

Have a great day guys!
<3 Stefanie

Exercise Truths

Growing up, I didn’t exercise. At least not in the traditional sense. Sure, I engaged in forms of exercise, but it never had a label.

I rode bikes, ran around with friends, and played sports. However, all of these activities were social – they were fun because I was hanging out with my friends. While I ran around playing tag at recess, did I ever stop to think “hm, I wonder how many calories I’m burning?” Absolutely not.

There have been many times where I’ve missed those days of carefree exercise-without-actually-being-labeled-exercise. The reality is that those days are gone, so I had to learn to love exercise as something essential but not always fun.

When I first starting working out in an actual gym on an actual machine, I hated it. Okay, so hate is a strong word. But I definitely didn’t love it and I most certainly did not look forward to it. Both of which I do now.

[how I felt a few years ago]

It took a while for me to come to terms with the fact that exercise is something that I would have to learn to love. And even when you hit that point, it still takes work. Just like a plant, it needs love and attention in order to stay alive (so to speak).

For me, I really latched on to the feelings that exercise brings me. I feel accomplished, energized, and strong after a good work out. Those feelings keep me coming back for more. I simply know that even when I feel great before a work out, I will always feel even better afterwards.

[how I feel now!]

Over the years I’ve found a few ways to stay in love with exercise. And, yes, to even make exercise something I look forward to.

For one, I always change it up. I go through weeks or months where all I want to do is run – whether it’s outside or on the treadmill, it’s my work out of choice.

Other times, running is the last thing I want to do and instead I want to shake my butt in a Zumba class or ride my bike until the sun goes down.

When I first started running, I made the mistake of thinking that if took time off that I was no longer a runner. Do you have to run multiple times a week to consider yourself a runner (insert any other work out)? Heck to the no. Now I know that I’m a runner because I love running.

For myself, I know that if I do any one work out too much, I’ll inevitably burn out. So I try to notice the signs before hand and switch it up before that burn out occurs.

Even more importantly, I take frequent rest days (whether planned or not). I’ve never been a planner, I just kind of fly by the seat of my pants and work out whenever, wherever.

But if I feel run down (or just plain lazy) I take a day off. Believe me, you won’t lose any progress for taking rest days. In fact, rest days are essential in order to make progress. Those are the days where the magic happens, muscles rebuild, you get stronger, leaner, and maybe even faster.

The take home point is this – exercise has no rules. Now I’m not taking about form, training plans, or anything along those lines, I’m talking strictly in terms of definition.

If you set strict rules/limits on yourself for what exercise has to be or how exercise should make you look – then you’re losing out on the fun aspect of exercise.

Seriously, think back to when you were a kid. Heck, go to a park and watch the kids run around laughing hysterically. Exercise is natural, necessary, and healthy. It’s a shame we have to go through that stage of ‘damn, do I really have to run on the treadmill if I want to stay fit?’

Well, yes and no. You don’t have to use the treadmill, but you probably do have to get your sweat on somehow. Trial and error. Try out different work outs until you find the one(s) that make you happy!

In honor of my love for exercise, I’m going to start a series called Sweat it Out Saturdays/Sundays. Basically, I’m going to highlight my work outs of the week, moves of the week, favorite DVDs…etc. on either Saturday or Sunday. Anything goes, but it will be all about exercise (and sweat)!

I’ve felt as if work outs haven’t been fitting well into my blog posts lately – look at this weird snack plate, oh and I ran 3 miles yesterday – random, right? So the Sweat it Out series will let me babble on about working out. Kind of like I just did in this post! Winking smile

Alright, I’m off on a fun little trip!

Have a wonderful day guys!

<3 Stefanie

Tell me your exercise truths!

Work Out [without the gym]

“Learn to work out in your own home.”

In terms of physical fitness, these are some of the best words of advice I have ever received.

As a busy Mom, student, employee, etc., it is so important for me to be able to get my exercise done at home. Especially on those days that keep me out of the house from 9 to 6! It’s those days in particular that I simply don’t want to spend any more time away from my family in order to hit up the gym. Yet at the same time, I don’t want to neglect my body simply because I’m busy.

Enter home work outs.

Believe me, doing the majority (95%) of my work outs at home is certainly a challenge. There are so many more distractions and it’s difficult to pass by the couch in favor of the treadmill – but I do it. And to be honest – I feel so accomplished when I kick my own ass at home.

Take the past week, for example.

I worked out 4 times – all at home. On Tuesday, I ran 3 miles on the treadmill and followed that up with a strength work out from Jamie Eason’s LiveFit trainer.

I should mention that I have not been following this program very strictly. I originally planned on doing so, but I just couldn’t give up my beloved cardio! So I’m doing the work outs a few times a week with cardio included. I may not get the intended results, but my overall goal was to get more strength in – so in that respect, it’s working.

On Thursday, I whipped out an old, forgotten friend – Turbofire. I seriously forgot how fun and amazing these DVDs are! I did the Turbo 45 DVD and my entire core was screaming the next day. I love it.

On Friday, I worked from 9 to 5 and then came home to the treadmill. To be honest, when I waked in the door all I wanted to do was get in my pajamas and veg out. Instead, I used a little trick that usually results in a good work out. I put on my work out clothes, jumped on the treadmill, and told myself that if I wasn’t feeling it after a mile, I’d quit. I did 3 miles. Effective, right?

On Saturday, I popped in another Turbofire DVD – this time it was Turbo 30. Quick, sweaty, and fun! Now, that’s my kind of work out. I followed that up with another LiveFit session.

So, my point here is that it doesn’t have to be hard to work out when you’re busy. You just have to find that internal motivation and get it done. Sure, the gym is a much more motivating environment. You’re surrounded by like-minded individuals with similar goals. But you don’t need a fancy gym membership to lose, maintain, or even build.

This is something that I really want to share with others! I so often hear people say that they are too busy to work out.

So work out at home! Subtract the time it takes to drive to the gym. Don’t worry about finding a babysitter. Heck, wake up in the morning and forget even making yourself look slightly presentable to the public. 30 minutes is all it takes.

Tips for working out at home:

1.Invest in a piece of equipment. You know what one of my favorite things is? Catching up on shows while walking on the treadmill. It’s so much better than sitting on the couch while doing the same. So invest in a bike, treadmill, elliptical. Sure, they’re expensive, but the one-time investment will pay off more than you can imagine.

2.Use DVD’s. You can get a Netflix membership for $8/month which you can use to try out exercise DVD’s. Like one? Purchase it! If you’re a Comcast customer, then you can utilize On Demand work outs. They’re right there just waiting for you to push play! Of course, there are always the more expensive sets – Turbofire, Insanity, P90x. These do wonders for your work outs and somehow make you feel as if you’re in a class rather than at home.

3.Invest in simple equipment – dumbbells, resistance bands, a stability ball. I’ve accumulated a nice little home gym simply by asking for these as gifts or treating myself when something is on sale. I actually found a gently used set of steps for only 3 dollars at a garage sale! Garage sales/craigslist/eBay are all great for finding gently used equipment.

4.Utilize the internet. Seriously, you could use only the internet to get fit. BodyRock, bodybuilding.com, Jamie Eason’s LiveFit trainer, blogs, etc..They are all great (and FREE) resources to help you stay/get in shape.

5.Stay motivated! Write down your goals, preplan your workouts, enlist friends to keep you accountable – do whatever it takes to stay on top of your fitness. Supposedly it only takes 21 days to form a habit – so kick your own ass for 21 days and then let stick with your habit. You will not regret it.

And finally, DON’T GIVE UP. Damn, I sound like a hallmark card, but seriously. So you skipped a few days, you ate crap, you lost motivation for a bit – who cares? Just pick back up where you left off and eventually the missteps will be fewer and the successes will be the majority.

I seriously tell myself this all this. Stop wasting energy thinking about what you didn’t do yesterday AND just go do it today!
Okay, so somehow I got into a bit of a rant. But I wish I knew all of this a few years ago when I had every excuse in the book. Being dedicated is where it’s at and excuses are lame.

And with that, I’m off. Have a wonderful day guys! And remember…

Losing Motivation

First of all, thank you guys for the warm welcome back! I am SO excited to reconnect with the blog world and all of the lovely people in it!

Now, let’s talk about something that I am not so excited about.

A while ago (it seems like quite a long while now), I wrote a post about how my food preferences and eating styles have evolved over time.

Essentially, I went from craving greasy fast food to wanting vegetables and hummus. That’s not to say I don’t ever have those greasy food cravings (I mean who can resist some a few slices of pizza or some French fries every now and then), but they’re simply overshadowed by my love for fresh clean foods.

Well, it seems that something quite similar happened with my exercise habits.

I went from dreading the thought of stepping foot into the gym to loving every sweaty second of it. Well, that love was the end game at least. The in between stages were the ones that were really difficult. And it seems that I’ve hit another “in-between.” I suppose that evolution means continual change, but things are going the wrong way. Maybe I’ve just reverted back a bit – either way it’s something that needs to change.

I still love that amazing after workout feeling and of course, I love knowing that I’m burning calories and keeping my body in shape at the same time. It’s the whole motivation to get it done that has a become an issue.

Of course, it’s impossible to be motivated all the time. There are always those times when you need that extra boost or you simply do it because you know you should. But lately, I have been swaying way too far to the ‘do it because you know you should’ side. And I don’t like it.

When I got to the point where I could maintain my weight loss with only a few work outs a week, my characteristic motivation started to wane off. Now, am I saying that I work out only to keep the weight off? The answer to that is tricky – so I’ll say yes and no.

My love for working out developed because of all the wonderful benefits it offered. And sure, losing weight (and keeping it off) was one of those benefits. But would that love for working out have developed if I was always at a healthy weight? I really can’t say and I’ll never actually know, so that’s besides the point.

The point is, I need to get that fire back. I want to get back to exercising because I love to exercise and not because I need to get in my 3 days that week. I firmly believe that if you’ll never keep it up if you only do something because you feel it needs to be done. In order to stick with it, you need to truly enjoy it.

I definitely feel like my blogging break had something to do with this. Especially since this all happened over the past month or two. In my break from blogging, I also took a break from reading blogs. Without reading or writing, I wasn’t always thinking about fun new workouts or ways to switch things up. Instead, I just stuck with what I know works – the treadmill. But damn it, the treadmill can only keep you entertained for so long. Am I right?

Now of course, any overly-organized girl like myself would create a plan to get that fire back – so here goes.

Stefanie’s ‘GET THE FIRE BACK’ workout plan

First and foremost, think outside of the treadmill. Yes, it’s there. Yes, it works. But it’s time to spice it up.
Dust off the DVDs (Turbofire, P90x, Jillian Michael’s…etc.) and rediscover new ways to get my sweat on.
Take more classes! I absolutely love group fitness classes, but it has been months since I’ve taken one. Time to get back to it.
Get outside! Despite the mild winter weather, it’s been far too long since I’ve enjoyed an outdoor run. I need to rediscover the joy of hitting the pavement, seeing the different scenery, and breathing in the fresh air.
And finally, go to the gym! Get motivated by others who are sweating their butts off. I mean, hey, energy is contagious.

So there it is. A few simple demands to get myself back in the exercise lovers club. I used to be one of those (possibly annoying) people telling anyone that would listen that “I LOVE TO WORK OUT.” It’s time to get back to that!

Who’s with me?

Also, can you believe Christmas is 3 days away? So exciting!

In the words of Nike, just do it.

Just as I start getting excited for fall, summer makes a come back. It’s a sweaty 93 degrees today. Guess I’ll just have to enjoy an iced pumpkin coffee rather than a hot one.

At first I thought iced and pumpkin didn’t go together – but after one sip, I was proven wrong.

When I receive emails from readers, they’re most often regarding weight loss. I’ve noticed that no matter how different each person’s weight gain/loss story may be, a feeling of frustration seems to go along with it. Frustration certainly made an appearance throughout many of my weight loss attempts.

For many of us (myself included), gaining weight is easy. It’s the whole losing weight and keeping it off thing that poses a problem.

In today’s society, gaining weight seems to be easier than ever. If you so choose, you could sit at a desk all day, eat fast food for all of your meals, and then plop on the couch in front of the TV for the evening. That truly would be an easy route to chose.

Losing or maintaining weight is a whole different scenario. Chances are, your day may still involve sitting at a desk all day (mine often does). Which just means that you have to be that much more diligent during your free time.

You may have to wake up an hour earlier to hit the gym. Maybe you have to sacrifice some TV time to go for an evening run or hit up a group exercise class. Not only that, but you have to invest some time into meal planning and prep. Whew, it all seems tedious when you think about it.

Even if you’ve never been there yourself, it seems easy to understand how others may become frustrated throughout the process. All that work and only small almost unnoticeable changes to show for it?

In reality, it’s all worth it – even the frustration. If it were an easy process, everyone would be at their happy weight. It may take a little tweaking to fit new things into your lifestyle, but after a while it will just become habit.

Don’t give it too much thought. Just do it (oh hey, I’m a Nike ad). But seriously, Nike was really onto something with that one.

When you’re sitting there thinking about your work out (why you don’t want to do it or what you would rather be doing) – you’re wasting time that could be valuable. Not only that, but opening up the opportunity to talk yourself out of your work out.

I was guilty of this just a few days ago. After dropping off Adam at school, I put on my running clothes in anticipation of a midmorning run. It was my day off and I wanted to get my work out done early so that I could get a boost of energy and in turn be productive.

Instead of just doing it, I got distracted and then said ‘oh well, I’ll run in the afternoon.’

After eating lunch, I thought ‘hmm, I should really wait until my food is fully digested before hitting the pavement.’

Before I knew it, it was time to pick up Adam from school. Still no run.

In my own defense, I did end up going for a run in the evening – but I could have saved myself a lot of time (and rearranging) if I had just got out there and done in when I first intended to.

I’m not perfect and this will definitely happen again in the future. Nevertheless, it’s worth acknowledging.