Living a Healthy Life – Beyond Food & Exercise

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After reflecting on what I share most often on social media (check me out on Instagram!), I realized that I focus a lot on two aspects of healthy living – eating well and moving my body for at least 30 minutes per day – but I neglect some of the other foundations of wellness. So I created another graphic guide for three other vital aspects of healthy living!

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Personally, I saw such a positive change when I started practicing self care, drinking my water, and focusing on getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. When I am rested, hydrated, and feel loved, it’s so much easier to pull myself out of funky moods and battle my depression and anxiety. It might be as simple as having three less things to worry about, but whatever the case – I’ll take it.

Here are some quick tips to help you implement these three aspects of healthy living!

  1. Loving and taking care of yourself is not selfish, so if you think it is – reframe your brain. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so if anything – taking care of yourself helps you take care of everyone else in your life.
  2. Get a BIG water bottle – at least 30oz – and use a straw. For some reason, using a straw helps me drink so much more water – and I love not having to fill up an 8oz class 20 times over the course of a day.
  3. Set an alarm for at least an hour before you go to bed. Here’s an example of an evening routine that can help get you ready for solid sleep! Totally unplug from all electronics. Brush your teeth, wash your face. Drink a glass of water while you’re at it to help you with #2! Read a book and/or put on some soothing music. Spray your pillowcase with lavender (so extra but so worth it), and spend some time reflecting on your day before shutting off the light and going to bed. Put your phone in the other room, so when the alarm goes off you need to get up and get moving to shut it off!

Let me know what your favorite self care activities are in the comments below, or any other ways that you focus on living a healthy life that go beyond eating well and exercising!

Jennie

 

Financially Fit in 2019

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It’s been a hot minute since I’ve written a blog post! I’ve been spending most of my time over on Instagram (check me out here) but I decided to resurrect this blog in 2019 for a few very special series. The first series of posts that I’ll be working on is this one – Financially Fit in 2019! I spent the majority of 2018 doing my own research and getting myself started on my own financial fitness journey – now that I have the basics down, I thought I would share what I have learned with all of you.

Figuring out finances can be a daunting task, but it’s actually rather simple once you break it down into simple steps. Click the following link to download the first reference sheet for this series, the “Financially Fit Beginner’s Checkup.” In this resource, I’m sharing 4 easy things you can do to start acclimating yourself with this process and gain a broader understanding of how ‘healthy’ you are, financially. These may seem like no-brainers to some financially fit folks, but when you are first starting out it is easy to ignore these steps – and that can snowball to create financial disaster.

We know that if you work out too much, for too long, or with improper form, the body gets stressed out and you will get hurt. The same thing goes for financial health – if you go too long without checking up on your finances, or if you aren’t diligent enough in keeping track of where your money is going, you’re more likely to suffer (and I’m not just talking about in the short term – we’ll discuss the beast known as retirement savings later on in this series). Learning how to be an adult is hard enough without adding financial stress on top of that – so let’s try to take that stress out of the equation with this series!

I recommend setting up reminders in your phone for the 1st, 15th, and last day of every month for checkups like this one. The first day of the month can be a good time to “reset” and start this journey, but if you get paid on specific days (for example – I get paid on the 15th and the last day of the month), it might be easier to start when your checking account has been freshly updated with new funds versus stressing yourself out if your balance is low. If you already feel overwhelmed, remember that over time checking up on your accounts will become second nature to you – but first, you have to form the habit.

The start of a new year is a great time to get started on your financial fitness journey. On top of your health and fitness goals, set a New Year’s Resolution to become more in-tune with your financial health and make improvements that will set your future self up for success. Check back in the future for more updates! I plan on going over how to create a budget that makes sense for you (including providing a spreadsheet template to help track your spending); how to plan and save for retirement (starting at a young age is SO important); and how to deal with debt if you find yourself stuck with massive credit card bills or student loans. If you have any other topics that you would like to learn more about, tell me in the comments!

Jennie

Body Beast – Build & Bulk Phase Review

9 weeks down, 3 to go!

Not going to lie – I was really intimidated by this program. It’s packed full of testosterone and Sagi – “the Beast” – can be overwhelmingly cheesy at times…but you learn to love him after just a couple workouts. The amount of food required to support a heavy lifting routine is also very different than other Beachbody programs like 21 Day Fix, Hammer & Chisel, and Shift Shop. For people like me who love meal plans like Shift Shop that cut the carbs, the Body Beast meal plan is daunting. For example, the containers I needed to eat during the Build/Bulk phases were:

4 red (protein), 5 green (vegetables), 5 purple (fruit), 1 blue (healthy fat), 1 orange (seeds/dressings), 4 tsp (oils/nut butters), and (drumroll please) – 9 yellows (carbs).

At the start of Body Beast, I weighed in at 171lbs. During these last 8 weeks, I’ve been focusing on perfecting my form, increasing my weights, and – yes – consuming enough calories to facilitate muscule growth. In the weightlifting world, this is often referred to as “bulking,” and it does involve some weight gain. In preparation for the program, we heard a lot about “fluff” – a.k.a. seeing the number on the scale go up instead of down, which is a scary thought when you’re used to kicking your own ass in order to see that number go down.

However, gaining weight does not necessarily mean gaining fat. While a pound of muscle and a pound of fat weight the same, muscle takes up less space than fat. During these first 8 weeks of Body Beast, I have gained 7lbs. I’m now hovering right around 178lbs. However, I’ve lost five inches and my pant size has remained the same, so I’m not concerned with the number on the scale right now.

I will say that during the first two weeks on Body Beast I relied heavily on bread and grains to check off my yellow containers (all nine of them). After completing 2 rounds of Shift Shop, I can tell you that my body likes a limited or grain-free diet. So I decided to experiment to see how limiting grains affects my progress/performance. I reduced the amount of breads/pastas I was consuming, and focused on eating from the ‘top of the food lists.’ That means I ate a lot of potatoes, berries, leafy greens (like spinach), broccoli, and eggs. My weight didn’t drop, but I did feel less bloated and I would say I had more energy.

Time for some honesty. If you’re anything like me, having so many yellow containers in your meal plan will cause 2 things to happen:

  1. You will use the number of yellows to justify way too many treat swaps.
  2. You will get so sick of potatoes that by the end of the bulk phase you won’t even want to look at a potato.

So yes, maybe I wouldn’t have gained 7lbs if I had truly cut out all alcohol/chocolate from my diet…but life is about balance, and Body Beast is a long program (12 weeks!). I don’t know if I would have been able to stick with it if I didn’t allow myself some wiggle room for having a glass of wine or a couple pieces of chocolate every once in a while. That being said, I didn’t skip a single workout and have been consistently increasing my weights – I am so much stronger than I was at the start of this program! Here’s just a quick peek at my weight diary, showing the weights that I’ve been using for the different workouts:

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You can see that I’ve actually gone down on my weights this week – that’s because I’ve been focusing a lot more on form over weight. I want to avoid injury!

Now we have moved on to the “Beast” phase of Body Beast. We’ve been referring to this as the “Lean” phase. Supposedly this is where we will all magically lean out, lose weight, and become chiseled superstars. In order to facilitate this, the meal plan has changed – now I’m eating the following containers every day:

3 green, 3 purple, 2 yellow, 1 blue, 1 orange, 6 red, 2 tsp

You can see that we’ve cut carbs and increased protein. I’m only one day into this phase…but I already feel different. Eating so much protein makes me feel so full! I ate dinner at 8:30 and still wasn’t very hungry!

The pictures below show how my body has changed from the summer (when I was doing Shift Shop) to now, after 8 weeks of Body Beast. I’m looking forward to leaning out and seeing more changes over the next four weeks!

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Your fitmiss in progress –
Jennie

 

 

Tasty Thursday – Veggie-Packed Stir Fry

The other night I was hungry and had one of those “I have nothing in the house to eat” moments. Now, don’t get me wrong – I had a lot of food in the house – and a lot of leftovers – so I decided to get creative to make a satisfying, fulfilling, protein-packed meal. This recipe is adapted from my fridge clean-out that night – I’ve doubeld the recipe to allow for 2 servings, so you can make this for yourself and a vegan friend!

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Vegan-Friendly! Veggie-Packed Stir Fry
½ block tofu, pressed/drained/pat dry
2 tsp avocado oil, or coconut oil – a spray works
salt & pepper, to taste
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp turmeric
1-2 cups broccoli, steamed and drained
1-2 cups butternut squash noodles
2 servings spaghetti/lo mein/rice noodles (cooked)
5-6 splashes coconut aminos – probably equal to 2-3 tsp
2 tsp lemon or lime juice
4 tsp sriracha
1/2 cup coconut milk

Cut tofu in half. Reserve about half (yes, half of the half) for the  “scramble” that we’ll make later – set aside.  Slice remaining tofu into thin strips – I’d say no thicker than ¼ inch. You want the strips to be thin without being transparent. Sprinkle tofu with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tsp oil or spray in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add the tofu to the pan, making sure the strips do not overlap. This is the most time-consuming part of the recipe. It typically takes ~5 minutes for the tofu to get to my desired level of brown/crispiness. Flip the tofu, and cook on the other side for another ~5 minutes. This will really depend on your pan/heat source, so I suggest grabbing a glass of wine and watching the tofu so it doesn’t burn. You’ll know the tofu is done when it is golden brown and holds its shape (meaning – is not floppy). It doesn’t necessarily get pretzel-crisp, but it will have a hearty bite.

Remove fried tofu from heat and set aside. I’ll usually wipe out the pan at this point and add another spray of oil/tsp of oil and return the pan to the heat, lowering it from medium-high to medium. Crumble the remaining tofu into the pan. If your tofu has a lot of leftover moisture in it, it may stick together at first – but the water will ultimately cook out and you’ll be able to break it up in the pan, so don’t worry if that happens. Add salt and pepper, 1 tsp onion powder, and at 1 tsp turmeric. Cook until slightly browned. The turmeric adds a nice flavor and also helps the tofu look like scrambled eggs!

When scramble is done, add the steamed broccoli, butternut squash noodles, and spaghetti to the pan. Just for clarity: the butternut squash noodles are raw – I found mine in the produce section in Publix. The spaghetti/noodles are already cooked (I always cook up multiple servings of pasta at the beginning of the week – I’m impatient and hate waiting for water to boil).  Pour in the coconut milk, and stir the mixture around. Add coconut aminos (watch this – if you add too much, the dish will be too salty – you can always add more later), lemon or lime juice, and sriracha. Stir until everything is heated through and the flavor has coated all the noodles. Don’t be afraid to experiment with flavors/spices! Swap out sriracha for sweet chili; add garlic; sprinkle in some chili flakes if you like heat. Whatever you do, the last step of the recipe is the same – divide noodle/vegetable mixture into two dishes and top each with a portion of crispy tofu.

Enjoy!

Your fitmiss in progress –
Jennie

 

Meatless Monday – Vanilla Cashew Milk

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I’ll talk about some variations at the end.
Bonus – this is another vegan-friendly recipe!

A note about soaking cashews: it’s not technically necessary…but I’ve done some reading and it looks like soaking nuts aids digestion. I toss the cashews in a tupperware, top with water, and throw in the fridge the night before I’m going to make milk. Super easy.

Directions
:

Put all the ingredients above into a high-speed blender.
Using less nuts will create a thinner milk; using more will give you a thicker consistency. [Think of it like the difference between skim, 2%, and whole cow’s milk]
I prefer using 1/2 to 3/4 cup cashews for more of a 2% – whole milk creaminess.
You could also experiment with the amount of water you use – I prefer using 20-24oz. Blend!
I use the “extract” setting on my Ninja – it’s 1 minute of continuous blending.
Pour into a bottle or glass jar (I rinsed out a store-bought milk bottle and reused it).
Store in the fridge, and drink up!

Please note that I do not need to strain my milk – but if you are using a lower-watt blender, you may need to pour through a nut milk bag/cheesecloth to get out the “grit”/leftover pieces of nuts. This is yet another reason why I love my Ninja – no need for that!

Variations

  • Using 1/2 to 1 tsp vanilla bean paste will intensify the vanilla flavor, so if you have this in your pantry I suggest using it!
  • This time of year, I love adding cinnamon to my nut milk – especially if I’m going to be using it in coffee. Try adding a couple shakes (or 1/4 tsp) of ground or roasted cinnamon to this recipe.
  • Another great idea for coffee – adding 1/2 tsp of caramel extract instead of vanilla (or you can do a blend of vanilla and caramel).
  • Add 1-2 tbsp unsweeted cocoa or cacao powder for a chocolate kiss.
  • If you don’t have dates, you can substitute the following: 1/2 to 1 tbsp honey (but be aware that many vegans do not consume honey, so if you’re making this to impress a vegan friend, leave this out!), 1/2 to 1 tsp (~6 drops) Stevia extract, 1/2 to 1 tbsp agave nectar. **It really depends on how sweet you want your milk – add a little bit at first. You can always taste-test and add more later.
  • You can also leave the dates/sweetener out completely, if you are looking for an unsweetened milk! You may be sweet enough as-is (or maybe you need this milk for a savory recipe).

Please be aware that this milk doesn’t have any preservatives in it, so it won’t keep as long in the fridge as shelf-stable milks. I would only recomment keeping it for 4-5 days – though you’ll probably drink it all up before then.

Non-dairy milk is a staple in my fridge. I use it in shakes, oatmeal, coffee, tea, matcha lattes, cereal…the list truly goes on and on. Drinking cow’s milk not only breaks me out, but I like the flavor of nut milks more. Recently, I’ve been trying to cut down on added preservatives as much as possible, avoiding emulsifiers/gums/and carageenan. “All natural” nut milks easily cost $5-8 per quart! That’s $2 per cup!

I get a pound of cashews at my local store for around $8.
This pound of cashews will make at least 4 bottles of cashew milk.
That works out to $2 per bottle.
So if there are 4 servings (cups) per bottle, that’s only $0.50 per serving!
(I have dates/vanilla/Stevia in my pantry at all times, so I don’t include those in the cost)

I hope you enjoy this recipe. If you make it, tag me in a picture on Instagram (my username is @fitmissjennie) or leave a comment below!

Portion Fix
8oz (1 cup) nut milk = 1 tsp in portion fix terms.
Here’s where things get a little tricky. I’m all about balance, so there are certain things that I don’t stress about – using dates in this recipe is one of them. However, if you are concerned with following the 21 Day Fix program as written, I’d suggest swapping out the dates for Stevia (the dates should technically be counted as 1 purple/”treat swap” each) or making unsweetened milk.

Your Fitmiss in Progress,
Jennie

Fitmiss Playlist vol. 1

weekly playlistOne of the things I love best about working out at home is that I can blast my music as loud as I want, and nobody can complain about it! (Well, my husband could…but he usually plays it louder than I do!) I have a pretty eclectic taste in music, and I thought it could be fun to share some of my playlists with you. My intention is for this to evolve into a weekly feature. Until then, enjoy vol. 1 – and let me know what some of your favorite songs are! I’m always looking for new tunes to play while crushing my workouts.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/tqu2yr8lyun1pk2cbeejnnfhq/playlist/6pgKG4qgJd1CQg9MxDsCQf