SIMPLE Beginner’s Stregth Routine

Today I woke up feeling unwell. I am hoping against hope it’s just a cold and not the flu my niece contracted just a few days after spending the night at our house. I decided to take it easy and let my body rest, so no workouts today; not even dog walks (I took her to her favorite day care where she got to play with her friends all day long).

My meals and snacks today consisted of the same thing I had on Monday, which you can find here (with the exception of the extra wine ;)). When I make my meal plan I just rotate the same thing every other day so I’m not eating the same thing 2 days in a row but still keep things simple and grocery shopping minimal.

Yesterday I completed a strength training routine I came up with and wanted to share that with you today. As always, I like to keep thing simple so I researched the best moves for each body part, picked the ones that didn’t require special training, fancy equipment, or for you to be a Cirque-De-Solei performer. There are 3-4 moves for arms, abs, and lower body. These can be done with or without light (or heavy if you feel like it) dumbbells.

ARMS

Bicep curls (15 reps)

1104-biceps-curlOverhead Extensions (15 reps)

overhead-extensionModified Push-ups (10 reps)

Modified_Pushup1Triceps Dips (15 reps)

Chair_Tricep_Dip1

ABS

Bicycle Crunches (15 reps)

bicycle_crunchSuperman (15 reps)

Superman1Elbow Plank (60 seconds)

Plank1Side Planks (30 seconds each side)

Side_Plank

LOWER BODY

Squat with Leg Raise (16 reps total, 8 reps each side)

20120624200514-100-low-squat-lateral-leg-liftsLateral Lunges (15 reps each side)

Side_LungeDeadlifts with Upright Row (15 reps)

deadlifts

To complete one round takes me about 10 minutes. My goals is to be able to complete 3 rounds but right now I am only able to finish 2 rounds (but I am sweaty and out of breath by the end). I use 5 pound dumbbells but would like to work my way up to heavier weights. For the tricep dips I use my fireplace, but in the past I have used my coffee table and chairs. I have even seen pictures of people using their toilets. See? No fancy equipment needed!

Try this routine out and let me know what you think. In the meantime I’d love to know what your favorite strength moves are.

Vitamins, Baneggcakes and a Deconstructed Sandwich

Today was another busy day, and I am running low on energy. At yesterday’s doctor’s appointment I was told another doctor had discovered I was low in iron, B12 and D (which was disappointing because yet another doctor had told me a few months ago my vitamin D levels were normal, though most people are actually deficient there- I was so proud) and recommended vitamin supplementation. This morning I had my first dose of said vitamins so hopefully they help restore some of my missing energy.

My stomach is sensitive to medicines so I always take them with food. This morning my medicines and vitamins were taken with one of my favorite healthy breakfasts ever: BANEGGCAKES! I gave these little beauties this name because they are made with 1 banana and 2 eggs, but are like a pancake. Get it? Ban-egg-cakes! Genius! Actually, whoever created this recipe is the true genius. I also like to add in a sprinkle of cinnamon (which I also do to my coffee). You could also add vanilla or stevia for extra sweetness, or anything else you fancy. I don’t like to add blueberries when cooking because it makes them unmanageable, so I just have them on the side.  Today’s breakfast totaled about 280 calories. (1 banana- 105, 2 eggs- 140, 1/4 c. blueberries- 20, and 1/4 c. almond milk with coffee- 15.)

IMG_3383_2I love sandwiches and my favorite is turkey, bacon, and avocado, but when you’re being conscious of you calorie intake it’s hard to keep things reasonable with the bacon, avocado, and bread. However, if you throw all your favorite sandwich fillings into a salad, well…you get something that looks like this and totals about 290 calories! This is 2 c. salad greens (I used a spinach and arugula mix), 2 oz. turkey, 2 pieces turkey bacon, 1/4 avocado, 10 cherry tomatoes, and 1 Tbsp. dressing (I used this kind). (Greens- 14, turkey- 60, turkey bacon- 70, avocado- 80, cherry tomatoes- 31, dressing- 35.) IMG_3384_2

I always  need a small snack to sustain me between lunch and dinner, don’t you? I like to keep things simple and try to pick things I can throw in my purse and eat on the go if necessary. Today I had an apple and 10 almonds, plus a full glass of ice water (I was incredibly thirsty). This snack came in at 150 calories. (Apple- 80, almonds- 70). IMG_3390_1I try to eat salmon at least twice a week. I thought that was why the one doctor commented on my vitamin D levels being normal, but I guess not 😦 Regardless, it’s so healthy (also a wonderful source of omega 3 fatty acids) and delicious, in my opinion (I’m aware LOTS of people don’t like it).

Tonight for dinner I tried a new salmon recipe from Frugality Gal, which you can find here. Instead of baking in the oven I used my grill. We grill a lot around here because it doesn’t heat up the house, is easy, and my husband believes, TRULY believes, everything tastes better when grilled. I used the same baking time but that didn’t work out well. The salmon was over-cooked and the asparagus were very limp (I like a little crunch). Next time I will either turn the heat down or cook it for significantly less time.

The only other thing I did differently was add lemon zest to the asparagus, which I highly recommend because it made it taste so fresh and delicious. I baked a sweet potato (using both the microwave and grill) and had half with dinner. I’m saving the other half to have later in the week. According to Frugality Gal’s website, the entire foil package totaled 240 calories, and with half the baked sweet potato the meal clocked in at about 315 calories.

IMG_3394_1I’ve already had a piece of dark chocolate, but can still have either ice cream or a glass of wine tonight, according to my meal plan. As of right now, without either of those yet digesting in my belly, my day’s calories totaled 1077. Since I try to never ever eat less than 1200 calories in a day, I will definitely be indulging in some ice cream and maybe an extra piece of chocolate (or two)!

*UPDATE: I did have ice cream and a piece of chocolate which brought my daily total to 1222 calories!

In addition to eating healthy and sticking to my meal plan, I also took my dog on 2 walks (which is not an activity that gets my heart rate up, unfortunately) and completed 2 rounds of my strength routine, which can be found here.

Do any of these meals inspire you to eat a little healthier, or convince you eating healthy can actually be delicious? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Meal Planning Success

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I am trying to lose about 10 pounds. In effort to do that I have been working out at least 3 times a week and trying (keyword trying) to eat healthy. I made a little progress in January but feel like this first week of February has set me back a bit due to extenuating circumstances. Therefore, I entered week two of February (the new January) with renewed determination and a very specific meal plan. With the exception of an extra glass of wine in lieu of a piece of dark chocolate, I stuck to my meal plan today, even though it was an incredibly busy one. Yay me! Here is what my day of healthy eating looked like:

This is my meal plan. I printed this menu planner from Home Life Weekly. You can print a copy by clicking here and downloading the PDF file. This worked for now but I think I will soon create my own meal planner. I left my weekend open because I have learned from experience that being too strict is very unhealthy. Plus, my hubby is coming home Sunday and I always make something special when he comes home from a work trip!

IMG_3359_1For breakfast I had blueberry oatmeal with almonds and coffee with almond milk. This was 1/2 c. quick-cooking oats (cooked in the microwave with 1 c. water for 1 minute), 1/2 c. fresh blueberries (cooked with the cooked oatmeal for an additional 30 seconds then smashed with the back of my spoon), with some added water, cinnamon, and stevia, 14 almonds, coffee and almond milk (1/4 c. divided between 2 cups of coffee). This meal came to about 300 calories. (Oatmeal- 150, blueberries- 40, almonds- 97, coffee- I don’t count, almond milk- 15.)

IMG_3345_1

For lunch I had one of my favorite wraps. I’ve been making these for years and never get sick of them. I used a low-carb sun-dried tomato flavored tortilla, 1 Tbsp. light cream cheese, 2 Tbsp. mashed avocado (about 1/4 of an avocado), 2 Tbsp. salsa, 1/2 c. rinsed black beans, some cilantro, and 10 baby carrots (which happen to be my dog’s favorite treat). It’s extremely flavorful and extremely filling. This meal also clocked in at around 300 calories. (Wrap- 60, cream cheese- 35, avocado- 45, salsa- 10, beans- 120, carrots- 35.) Yes, I can add, but I can also round.

IMG_3353_1

I was running around all day going to doctor appointments, waiting at the pharmacy, running errands, taking my dog for walks, doing laundry, etc. I didn’t start feeling hungry until around 4 in the afternoon. Luckily I had planned for snacks. I had a braeburn apple (my favorite kind) and a piece of Dove dark chocolate for a grand total of 120 calories. (Apple- 80, chocolate- 42.)

IMG_3357_1

Dinner was a new recipe: skinny lasagna rolls courtesy of Skinny Ms. You can find the recipe here.  My husband was pretty mad when he found out I was making these, but it makes 10 servings and I am the only one eating them this week so I’m planning on freezing the leftovers (haven’t quite figured out how yet) so we can have them when he comes home. Hopefully he’ll enjoy them as much as I did. He tends to not get as excited about delicious healthy food as I do. This took about an hour to make, which is a lot longer than I typically spend on a meal, but it was worth it! (I drank a glass of wine and listened to music while preparing it so that helped ;)) I had an entire head of steamed broccoli on the side, which was a little more than I planned for but I doubt an extra 1/2 cup of broccoli has ever made anyone fat. I also poured myself another glass of wine to have with dinner. A glass of wine with a piece of chocolate was an option for dessert on my meal plan so I just skipped the chocolate to make up for the extra glass of wine. This yummy meal totaled about 540 (including the extra broccoli and wine). (Lasagna roll- 240, 1 1/2 c. broccoli- 80, and 2 small glasses of red wine- 220.)IMG_3375_1

My total calorie intake for the day was 1260; only 60 over planned! I also took my dog on 2 20-30 minute walks (depending on distractions) and spent about 35 minutes on an elliptical machine. I planned on doing some bodyweight exercises too but…that just didn’t happen. (There’s always tomorrow!)  All in all I feel like today was a successful step in the right direction. Now, if only I could finish my laundry…

(My Famous) Toffee Cookies

When I was 13 or 14 years old I acquired a recipe for toffee cookies. I made said recipe a few times, making minor tweaks along the way, until it produced a crisp, chewy, melt-in-your-mouth, succulent cookie. I started making them for family get-togethers and other social functions and quickly became famous for them. Since then, every year for Christmas it is the only thing requested of me from family members. One year I thought about buying my brother-in-law an actual gift and according to my sister he pouted heavily because he wanted my cookies more than anything. So, I made him the cookies and have continued to make these cookies every year for the past 15 or so years.

Today I went into the kitchen to make a sweet treat to bring to the nurses caring for my grandma as she recovers from her surgery. I really wanted to try a new recipe but was missing one or two ingredients for every one I was interesting in making. However, I did have all the ingredients needed to make my famous toffee cookies so that is what I made. Today, for the first time in 15-ish years, I am going to share my recipe. You’re welcome.

First you’re going to want to grab a stick (1/2 c.) of butter and two large eggs and set them out for 30-60 minutes to bring to room temperature. You’ll also want to measure out 2 1/4 c. flour (I like to use bread flour for cookies but all purpose will work just fine too), 3/4 c. packed brown sugar, 3/4 c. granulated sugar (which got left out in this picture), 1 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. vanilla, and 1 package (about 8-10 oz.) of toffee pieces. I use Heath English Toffee Bits (be sure not to pick up the kind with chocolate).

IMG_3309_1Now go ahead and mix you baking soda and salt in with your flour.

IMG_3318_1In a mixing bowl beat your butter and vanilla with your brown and white sugars (the white sugar made it in this time) until well blended.

IMG_3322_1Now beat in the eggs, one at a time. It will look nice and creamy like this:

IMG_3326_1Now throw in your toffee pieces. Adding your mix-in’s to any cookie batter before adding your dry ingredients helps the morsels get evenly distributed and makes it less likely you will over mix, resulting in a dense cookie.

IMG_3328_1Mix those in until well incorporated.

IMG_3329_1Now, SLOWLY add in your dry ingredients until well blended. (You should not see any white flecks in the batter.)

IMG_3330_1Go ahead and scrap the sides with a spatula and lightly fold into the batter. Again, you don’t want to see any white but be careful not to over mix.

IMG_3331_1Cover the bowl with something: plastic wrap, tin foil, a kitchen towel, and place in the refrigerator. Turn your oven on to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. While I’m waiting for my oven to heat I like to clean up my mess and get everything ready for baking. Since I’ve made these en masse for so many years I have this down to a science! I like to use a melon baller to keep my cookies uniform in shape and size, but you can use your hands or two tablespoons or whatever you like. I keep two cookie sheets (parchment paper optional) in constant rotation but it’s not necessary. A wire rack is kind of necessary though. I love my three-tiered one. I could use another set for Christmas time though.

IMG_3333_1Once the oven has come to 350 degrees you can go ahead and start loading up your first cookie sheet, leaving about 1 1/2 to 2 inches between each ball of dough. Don’t try to get ahead and load up both cookie sheets at once. You want the dough to stay cool and firm. Pop the first batch into the oven for 9-11minutes. For my current oven I bake these for 10 minutes but even oven differs. You’ll want to keep your eye on them the first time or two to figure out what time works best.

IMG_3337_1When they come out of the oven they will be a beautiful golden color like this:

IMG_3341_1Let those sit on the hot cookie sheet while you prepare your next batch. Once your next round is in the oven go ahead and transfer your baked cookies onto a wire rack to cool.

IMG_3343_1Once cool they are ready to eat or be gifted. They are not the prettiest cookies but I guarantee your tongue wont care! Enjoy!

Toffee Cookies Recipe

February is the New January

Did you join the rest of the world in making New Year resolutions? Me too: Eat less sugar. Eat more vegetables. Get back into a daily workout routine. Loose 5 pounds by the end of January and another 5 by the end of February. How well have you been sticking to yours? For the past few weeks I have managed to workout at least three times a week and lost a few pounds but other than that my attainable goals have been not so attainable. My year got off to a rough start though. The very first weekend my nieces stayed with us and those girls get everything they want, even if it includes pancakes for breakfast and a pizza buffet for dinner. Then my husband got sick and therefore I got sick and we spent the first two weeks of the year being sick and miserable and glued to the couch so all the healthy meals I had planned did not get made. Once we were finally well my grandma went to the hospital and had to have surgery, so I ate a lot of cafeteria food that week which did not include salads because, come on, who eats salads when they’re stressed? (She is well and recovering from her surgery now.) I then spent another weekend sick and now here we are, on the last day of January with only two of my goals even partially met.

So…

I have officially decided to make February the new January! Exciting, right? It’s perfect timing too because my husband went out of town this morning for work and will be gone for about two weeks. It is A LOT easier to eat healthy when he is not around because that man is the pickiest eater I have ever known. He only likes a handful of vegetables, will not eat low fat or whole grain anything, refuses to even try a sweet potato or brown rice or quinoa, (there is a lot more to his pickiness but the rest doesn’t really affect the health factor of our meals) and he HAS to eat out at least twice a week. So I’m pretty optimistic that, without him around to make things more difficult than they already are, I will make some headway with my health goals. I plan to keep you updated on my progress (or lack thereof) and share any tips I find helpful along the way. Wish me luck!

P.S. I’d love to hear about your own resolutions and how it’s been going for you thus far!