One thing I swear by when it comes to weight loss, fat loss, muscle building, and general health, is drinking a delicious, nutrient-packed smoothie every day. I usually drink mine first thing in the morning to kick-start my day, and when I’m stuck at work for a long time, I’ll bring the ingredients and make one there for me as well. Not only will this smoothie detox your system and provide you with much-needed nutrients, but it will also help your hair, skin, and nails look and feel amazing, and it will also help curb cravings throughout the day. And if you need any more reasons to join me in this healthy habit, just know that it tastes great too!
The really important ingredient in this smoothie is the avocado. Avocados are packed with healthy fats, which give you energy that doesn’t leave you “crashing” later on, unlike sugar. They also work wonders for your skin and hair, and they give any smoothie a great thick consistency. For more info on healthy fats, check out this article where I talk about it in more depth.
One more quick note here: If it at all possible, be sure to buy organic fruit and vegetables. Not only do they taste better, but you don’t want to blend up all the pesticides and that crap in your healthy smoothie. It kind of defeats the purpose.. If something is not available organic at your grocery store, just wash it really well with cold water before you slice, eat, or blend it.
- Handful of spinach
- 1/4 of an avocado (work up to putting in a half if you want)
- 1/4 of a cucumber
- 2 baby carrots
- 1 celery stalk
- 1/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt (I like the flavored kind, but plain is technically better for you. This part is optional.)
- 1 banana
- Juice from 1/2 a lemon
- 1/4 cup of orange juice, or a couple orange slices squeezed in (the OJ is also optional. It helps with the taste, but it does add extra sugar to the smoothie)
- a handful of blueberries and strawberries
- about 1/2 cup of water (make sure the liquid combined isn’t too much. Start with less water and add it if it needs more)
- a cup of ice
Blend all ingredients and enjoy!
I want to know what you think! Leave comments and questions below 🙂
Super Easy Protein Bars
After quite a bit of searching for a simple but delicious protein bar recipe, I ran across this one on Pinterest. It was originally pinned from thehappyhealthfreak.com, so thank you, happy health freak. These protein bars are one of my favorite things to eat, they take 10 mins or less to prepare, and they have only 1 tablespoon of sugar (or stevia). I also added coconut flakes, chocolate chips, and walnuts to the mix so they’re a little more exciting, but do as you please.
You can find the original recipe here, but here’s what I do:
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup quick oats
1/2 cup of your favorite protein powder — I use vanilla
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed (I have never put this in there, but it wouldn’t hurt)
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon powder stevia or sweetener of your choice (I use real sugar, whatever)
1 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
1/2 cup natural peanut butter or PB2
1/4 cup egg whites, or 1 whole egg
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup walnuts chopped
1/4 cup chocolate chips if desired 🙂
Mix the first 7 ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix all the wet ingredients together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Add the coconut, walnuts, and chocolate chips (if desired) and mix thoroughly. The batter will be thick. Pour into a greased 8×8 pan, and be sure it is evenly distributed. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 mins or until a knife inserted will come out clean.
Nutritional info for one bar (this is for the original recipe, not necessarily for my version)
123 Calories, 16g Carbs, 2g Fat, 12g Protein, 85mg Sodium, 4g Sugar.
Enjoy! For more great healthy recipes, check these out!
Remember to take advantage of any “shortcuts” like drinking lemon water, now that you’re back on track with your fitness this new year! There are so many health benefits of lemon that it’s hard to list them all, but my favorite one is its helpfulness in fat loss. Lemon naturally cleanses and detoxes the body, which is exactly what we all need after the holiday festivities. It’s also nice because if you’re tired of the taste of plain water, a few lemon slices really perk it up and make it easier to stay hydrated. My personal favorite time to drink lemon water is first thing in the morning or right before bed, with hot water and honey. It’s calming, delicious, and washes away that stubborn fat. Just in time for spring break!
The best way to stay motivated to keep up with your goals is to plan a deadline to have them accomplished by. Plan a spring break somewhere warm, a rewarding photoshoot, or something that will keep you excited to be fit! It will help you remember that everything you do will be worth it 🙂
The benefits of juicing are so incredible that I’ll write an article on that later, but here’s a recipe for a detoxifying and slimming juice that will energize you and leave you feeling (and looking) amazing!
2 celery stalks
2 stalks of asparagus
1 green apple
Handful of kale
1/2 a cucumber
Juice or blend ingredients and enjoy!
3 Healthy AND Delicious Side Dishes
One of the most challenging things for many people who are adapting to their new healthy lifestyle is enjoying their food. They are used to rich-tasting, cheesy, salty, or fried foods, and have the incorrect idea that healthy food has to be bland and boring. I can tell you first-hand, if your food is tasteless, it will be very hard to stick to your nutrition plan.
Although it is true that you should stay away from sodium (which is found in many tasty seasonings), and fast-digesting carbohydrates (like white pasta and rice, and potatoes), there are many other ways that allow you to enjoy vegetables, and flavor your food without the guilt trip!
Here are three healthy and delicious vegetable side dishes that will spice up your meals and impress your friends!
1. Mediterranean Roasted Broccoli And Tomatoes
1 cup grape tomatoes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
1. Place cauliflower florets and garlic in a steamer basket over boiling water, cover and steam until very tender, 12 to 15 minutes. (Alternatively, place florets and garlic in a microwave-safe bowl with 1/4 cup water, cover and microwave on High for 3 to 5 minutes.)
The Post-Holiday Diet
The feeling of regret the day after a holiday or cheat day, when you wake up wishing calories didn’t count on holidays, and fighting the mental battle between eating really clean today or giving up and finishing yesterday’s leftovers.
(Whatever you do, don’t do that!)
Well I’ve been there, done that, and after doing some research I put together a plan of action for a post-holiday, low-carb diet that really works.
The reason why it’s a low-carb diet is because your glycogen stores have been filled from all the festivities the day before, and you need some time to deplete them again. If you have more glucose (carbs) today, your glycogen storage units will be overloaded and your food will quickly be stored as fat. Don’t think about making this a low-calorie day specifically, but just a low-carb day.
Do not cut out vegetables. The fiber in veggies help your body flush out toxins and waste quickly, and you definitely need that extra help today. All other carbs from grains, starches, and rice are the ones you need to cut out.
The Post-Holiday Diet:
Breakfast #1: Morning vegetable juice smoothie
Breakfast #2: Egg whites with spinach. Almonds or other nuts.
Lunch: Hearty salad with grilled chicken and other vegetables such as mixed peppers, cucumber, tomato, celery, etc. Oil or vinaigrette dressing.
Mid-afternoon snack: Mixed berries, celery with almond butter.
Dinner: Ground turkey with garlic, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, almonds.
Snack: (If you need it) Mixed berries, raw veggies, or a vegetable juice smoothie.
The best thing to do is follow the post-holiday diet for the next three days. It takes a while for your body to completely recover and detoxify after a lot of cheat food. Notice that there are no carbs in any of the meals that are not from vegetables or fats. I also recommend the only fruit you have for the next few days are berries, since most fruit is high in carb content. Also stay away from peanut butter and substitute with almond butter to give you energy without too many carbs.
Here are a few more tips to get yourself feeling 100% back on track!
- Freeze, give away, or throw away all your unhealthy holiday leftovers. Usually when I’m about to leave a family Christmas party or dinner, I leave all the leftovers with my relatives for them to take home. If you are the host, then try to send home as many plates of leftovers as possible. However you decide to do it, the best way to a quick post-holiday recovery is to prevent yourself from indulging at all for the next week.
- Drink lots of infused water. Check out my recipe for infused water or just water with a few lemon wedges squeezed in works great too. Chances are you’re dehydrated from all the sodium in most holiday foods and from any alcohol you may have had, and infused water has more antioxidants and detoxifying agents than plain water.
- Hit the gym with a solid 30 minute workout of High Intensity Interval Training. (This is a must!)
- Follow the post-holiday diet above for the next three days.
- Don’t beat yourself up 🙂 The holidays are about cherishing family time and enjoying life for a bit, so you deserve a little break from your diet and workout regime. Just take advantage of your rest to bounce right back at it with more vigor and determination than ever!
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One of the best things you can do for yourself during the holidays is
drink lots of eggnog get your daily dose of holiday Starbucks drinks pig out on the stuffing
- supplement with fish oil!
Now you might be wondering why fish oil, out of all the supplements out there? If you’ve ever walked into a supplement store, it’s easy to be quickly overwhelmed with all the seemingly “magical” supplements out there.
“This one will make my boobs grow and speed up my metabolism?!”
“This will make my hair grow double time!”
“Does this really burn belly fat?”
If you’re anything like how I used to be, you end up buying what can end up being hundreds of dollars’ worth of supplements that you can’t guarantee will do anything for you.
What if I told you that instead of buying all these different supplements, there’s one old-fashioned way of burning fat, beautifying your skin and hair, and improving brain function!
Yup, you guessed it! It’s fish oil.
Just to name a few benefits, fish oil, it
- accelerates fat loss
- makes your skin and hair healthier
- reduces inflammation
- helps your joints
- improves brain function
- aids cardiovascular health
- contributes to your overall health
Basically, the more you research fish oil, the more benefits you will find.
Note: The best fish oil supplements to choose are ones that have a higher ratio of Omega-3’s to Omega-6’s in them. This is because the typical American diet usually consists of more Omega-6’s than 3’s, and without enough of both, the effects of fish oil are lessened.
The main benefit I wanted to stress here, however, is the fact that it improves fat metabolism. Many experienced personal trainers recommend their obese clients to supplement with fish oil, and without changing anything else in their diet, their clients will usually experience almost immediate weight loss! It continues to help people of all different sizes and levels of health, and is beneficial whether you are trying to gain muscle or lose weight, or simply feel healthier and better about yourself. It’s the simplest change you can make to your diet, with one of the greatest results.
If you’re not already supplementing with fish oil, it’s especially important during the holidays because if you’re celebrating this time of year the traditional American way, your body is going to need the extra metabolism boost to kick off your New Year’s Resolutions! Remember to stick to your holiday plan this month, and do as much damage control as you can!
For more tips on keeping the weight off during the holidays without missing out on the fun, look at this!
Detox Water For Fat Loss
A great trick to keeping the fat off during the holidays (or anytime) is to drink detox water throughout your day. Not only does it taste better than regular water, it keeps you hydrated, and it flushes out impurities to melt off the pounds!
I like to make a gallon a day, let it infuse overnight, and aim to drink the whole thing the next day.
All you need is:
- 2 lemons, sliced
- 10-15 mint leaves
- 1/2 cucumber
Add them to your water, let it infuse overnight, and enjoy the benefits! This has got to be the easiest way to make yourself look and feel better.
For another amazingly healthy tip, try this out!
How To Manage Your Weight During The Holidays
Now that the holidays are in full swing and the season of Christmas
cookies and holiday drinks, um, parties is upon us, I thought it would be a good idea to share some tips on how to manage your weight during the holidays, without cutting out the fun of the season. I’m the first person to make a batch of holiday treats and get into the spirit of things so I know it’s not easy sticking to your diet this time of year, but if you follow these tips, you can do some damage control and not have any regrets on how your year ended.
- Set a goal for the holidays. What do you want to gain? You can choose to spend this time recovering from an intense workout regime you have been following for the past several months; you can set a goal to simply maintain your current level of fitness to a reasonable degree; or if you are trying to really put on some muscle (this is mostly for men) you can take advantage of this time to bulk up. If you have a realistic goal in mind and a plan to follow, you will be much more likely to not go overboard during the holidays.
- When you know you will be going out that evening, have a good, high volume workout beforehand with a large muscle group like legs or glutes, or do a long session of HIIT (High Intense Interval Training). This will make sure you are burning a lot of calories after your workout is over, allowing you to consume more without it having too much of a negative effect.
- The next morning do your HIIT. No exceptions! It doesn’t matter if you’re hungover, or tired, or anything, just do it!
- Don’t “save” your calories when you know you will be having big meal that night, meaning, don’t starve yourself that day so you can eat more at dinner without feeling bad. Eat normally (healthy choices) and be smart about it. Also, don’t turn the whole day into a cheat day because that will make the recovery so much harder.
- At the dinner or party, take the least-worst option. If you have the choice between liquor and wine, choose wine. Red or white? Red. Have one slice of pie, not three. You get it 🙂
- A great idea is to go on a 3-day low-carb diet after your festive meal. Vegetables are always good to eat so don’t cut those out, but eliminate all grains, rice, potatoes, etc. for the next 3 days.
Don’t beat yourself up about eating a little extra this month. Just make sure it’s not out of control, and be mentally prepared to attack the fat in January!
And don’t forget to have fun! Merry Christmas and happy holidays everyone!
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
Eating healthy doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the holiday spirit! Try this delicious pumpkin spice smoothie. It’s an excellent substitute for a Starbucks Pumpkin Frappuccino (minus the caffeine), or you can add a scoop of protein powder for a great post-workout shake.
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie:
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
3/4 cup vanilla almond milk (or vanilla soy milk)
a few shakes of pumpkin pie spice
4-5 ice cubes
Check out more great recipes like the Pumpkin Pie Smoothie here!
Fish Tacos with Chipotle-Lime Sauce
These fish tacos are an amazing dinner idea, and packed with protein and the right carbohydrates. I would substitute whole wheat tortillas for the white flour ones, and honestly you won’t taste a difference.
Directions for Fish Tacos with Chipotle-Lime Sauce:
Ingredients: (serves 1)
One 6-oz tilapia fillet
Squeeze lime juice
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 to 2 teaspoons Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce
2 tablespoons thawed frozen corn
2 tablespoons canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
1/4 cup diced tomatoes
- Drizzle one 6-ounce tilapia fillet with a squeeze lime juice and season with a pinch each cayenne and salt. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.
- To make the sauce: Mix together 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, juice of 1 lime, 1 teaspoon lime zest, 1 to 2 teaspoons Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce, and a dash of salt.
- Toast two 6-inch corn tortillas in a toaster oven and top each with 3 ounces tilapia; 2 tablespoons thawed frozen corn; 2 tablespoons canned black beans, rinsed and drained; 1/2 cup shredded cabbage; 1/4 cup diced tomatoes; and 2 tablespoons chipotle-lime sauce.
This recipe for Fish Tacos with Chipotle-Lime Sauce serves one, so simply multiply ingredients as needed.
For other amazing and healthy recipes, check this out!
Fat Is Bad…. Or Is It?
“If you don’t eat fat, you won’t get fat”… Right?
Forget that fat-free diet you’ve been on and take a look!
You deserve to know the truth. Fat is your friend.
Fats are essential for a well-rounded diet, and your overall health! They help out your skin, make your hair grow and stay shiny, reduce inflammation, provide energy, and boost testosterone levels (to help build muscle in the right places).
Now you may have heard about “good fats” and “bad fats,” and there’s some truth to this. The “good” fats are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, found in foods like all-natural peanut butter, and the “bad” fats are saturated fat and trans fat.
Trans fat is definitely horrible for you, it’s completely artificial, and your body was never intended to process that kind of fat, so make sure you’re reading your labels and throwing out anything with trans fat in it. Generally, trans fat is in all kinds of “junk” food and fast food. Saturated fat, though, naturally occurs with every food that contains mono and polyunsaturated fat. It’s really nothing to worry about as long as you make sure there is poly and monounsaturated fat in the foods you choose for your fat intake.
Here is how to correctly incorporate fat into your diet:
- Eliminate all trans fats
- Eliminate pro-inflammatory foods (aka all vegetable oils. Olive oil is fine)
- Eat wild game when you can (such as wild fish, buffalo, and other meats rich in omega-3s)
- Supplement with fish oil
- Take one meal at a time 🙂
Fish oil is one of those magical supplements that has so many benefits that you’re really shooting yourself in the foot if you don’t take it! I’ll write an article on that later because there’s so much to say about it, so make sure you check it out when it comes up.
Eat Yourself Thin..?
Something to help you stay on track with a healthy diet is thinking of it as a lifestyle. It’s not a 10-day cleanse, or a 30-day challenge where you go right back into your old habits after it’s over. If you think of it as a new lifestyle you are adopting, you are much more likely to persevere, and the results will astound you.
Not only will your physical results show, but having the self-discipline to maintain a healthy lifestyle will increase your confidence, make you feel better about yourself, and help you reach new goals.
Once you’ve mastered yourself, you can master anything!
As they say, it’s 80% diet.
If you are new to the fitness world, and just starting a lifestyle change, read this part very carefully! If you’re a seasoned fitness junkie, this part will probably be review, but it doesn’t hurt to read it as well.
The first point I want to make is that your body is a temple. You only get a body once in your life and you are 100% in control of how it is treated. Give it want it really wants, not what your head thinks it wants 🙂 The best way to start your path to the new you is to change your diet.
If you are lifting (which I assume you are, if you are reading this) you need to be eating 4-6 meals a day, or every few hours. Throw out the traditional three meal a day plan that we were all raised on. This may sound like a lot of calories, but lifting weights burns calories long after your workout is over. If you are eating what I recommend, your body will thank you.
Now we all know that processed food is bad for us. But that never stopped me before I started taking fitness seriously, and I know that me going on a rant about how our bodies were never designed to handle processed foods probably won’t stop you either 😉 But one thing I learned that really stuck with me was the fact that ONCE YOUR BODY CREATES A NEW FAT CELL IT WILL NEVER GO AWAY. Now that doesn’t mean that you can’t get rid of the fat INSIDE that cell, but the cell will still be there your whole life, waiting to be filled.
The first thing to know, is that (almost) every meal needs to contain a lean protein (i.e. ground turkey, chicken, lean ground beef) , slow-digesting carbs (like brown rice, vegetables, or yams), and some healthy fats (avocados, nuts, olive oil). There are plenty more options in these categories, but these are the staple foods that I eat.
This is a typical one-day meal plan for me:
First Breakfast: 3-4 eggs, handful of almonds
Second Breakfast (preworkout meal): 1/2 c oatmeal
Postworkout Meal: Ground turkey, broccoli, 2 egg whites, brown rice
Dinner: Hearty chicken, spinach, and avocado salad
Supper: Ground turkey/beef seasoned by garlic cloves and a tablespoon salsa
As you may notice, there is a protein in every meal, but not necessarily a carbohydrate and a fat, and the reason behind this will be discussed a little later. Basically, if you follow this basic plan, you will start feeling better, looking better, and performing much better during your workouts.
So why not give it a try? Make the commitment, and let’s start the transformation to your new body together!
Baked Garlic And Brown Sugar Chicken
Want to eat healthy AND delicious food? This chicken is quick, easy, and to die for.
Baked Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken Ingredients:
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3 teaspoons olive oil
- Preheat oven to 500°F and lightly grease a casserole dish.
- In small sauté pan, sauté garlic with the oil until tender.
- Remove from heat and stir in brown sugar.
- Place chicken breasts in a prepared baking dish and cover with the garlic and brown sugar mixture.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Bake uncovered for 15-30 minutes.
Original Recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/easy-garlic-chicken-5478