Energy-Boosting Smoothie

Energy-Boosting Avocado Spinach Smoothie

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.

Ingredients:

  • 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 🙂

If you liked this recipe, make sure you check out my other juicing recipes, and my new favorite homemade protein bars!

 

Is Your Cardio Really Working?

Is Your Cardio Really Working?

Have you ever noticed the “heart rate” area of a treadmill or elliptical and wondered what that was for exactly, or why it matters? Or do you think it’s just for old people or people with health conditions? Well it’s not, and knowing your target heart rate could be your ticket to doing some serious fat-burning!

There are actually two target heart rates to consider. The first is your fat-burning zone. It’s right above the “warm-up” level, and below the heart-pounding cardio level. Depending on your age and fitness level, you can be at the fat-burning heart rate while walking briskly or lightly jogging. At this pace, your body uses its stored fat for energy.

The second is your cardio zone. At this level your body uses both fat and muscle as energy, so this will definitely slim you down if you think you look too bulky. Just be careful, because doing a lot of “cardio zone” cardio can make you appear flabby and melt away hard-earned muscle.

To calculate your target fat-burning zone heart rate, follow this formula:

220 – {your age} x .6 = fat burning zone

To calculate cardio zone:

220 – {your age} x .85 = cardio zone

Knowing your target heart rate allows you to make sure every cardio session does exactly what you want it to do. Personally, I like to do 5 minutes of fat-burning, then 5 minutes of cardio, and repeat for about half an hour. Play around with different ways to get your heart rate at the proper level, use different cardio machines, and see what works best for you!

 

 

 

 

Fat-Burning Treadmill Workout

cardio2

This is my favorite treadmill workout because it’s HIIT, and it has enough variety for time to pass quickly. I usually this for 30-40 minutes.

  1. Warmup — Walking 3 minutes. Speed: 3.5
  2. Side shuffles right. 45 seconds. Speed 3.0. (Start at 2.5 just to get the hang of it, and increase as much as you are comfortable with. Keep knees bent and arms in front of you when shuffling.)
  3. Side shuffles left. 45 seconds. Speed 3.0.
  4. Sprint. 30 seconds. Speed 8.0.
  5. Walk. 1 minute. Speed 3.2.

Repeat (excluding the warmup) until 30 minutes is up.

The treadmill speeds that are listed here are close to what I do. If it seems too hard or too easy for you, simply adjust as needed! Remember to keep pushing yourself each time. Try sprinting a few seconds longer than you did last time, or increase the speed a little every time 🙂

Arms and Chest Circuit

toned arms and chest

Circuit 1 – Abs Warmup: (Repeat circuit 3x total)

  1. V-up with toe touch (add dumbbells when ready) (15)

v-up

2. Stability ball plank (hold for 30 seconds to a minute)

stability-ball-plank

3.  Russian twists (30 total)

RussianTwist

Rest 45 seconds.

Circuit 2 – Chest: (Repeat circuit 3x total, without pausing between each exercise)

  1. Dumbbell pec fly on incline bench (15)

pec fly

2.   Dumbbell chest press on incline bench (15)

chest press

3.   Pushups (to failure)

Rest 45 seconds.

Circuit 3 – Arms: (Repeat circuit 3x total, without pausing between each exercise)

  1. Walking lunges with dumbbell bicep curls (30 total)

walking lunges

2.    Reverse lunge with hammer curl (30 total)

reverse lunge (Be sure to step backwards, instead of forwards like you did in the previous exercise, and, unlike the picture, keep palms facing each other when you curl up.)

3.     Tricep pulldown (20)

tricep pulldown

4.    Tricep dip (using assisted dip/pullup machine, or from a bench) (20)

tricep dip

[Read How To Do a Tricep Dip here for hints and tricks!]

Rest 45 seconds.

That’s it! Now realistically, if you must rest between each exercise, do so because I don’t want you to pass out or not be able to finish the workout, especially if you haven’t previously worked out your upper body very much. My recommendation is to use lighter weights if you want to simply tone and define your arms. If you’re trying to get some size, use heavier weight. And by “light weight,” I mean whatever is really heavy by reps 15-20. “Heavy weight” should be very difficult by rep 6 or so.

If you need to get some cardio in, I would suggest to do it today (chest and arms day), on shoulders and back day, and of course the cardio and abs day. That way you’re not missing cardio sessions, and you don’t have to do them on a leg or butt day (trust me, you don’t be able to). I like to start my workout with either a 20-minute HIIT session, or a 40-minute low-intensity session, like jogging, cycling, or uphill walking (rotate HIIT and low-intensity back and forth day to day).

Fat Is Bad… Or Is It?

i really

“If you don’t eat fat, you won’t get fat”… Right?

Wrong.

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:

  1. Eliminate all trans fats
  2. Eliminate pro-inflammatory foods (aka all vegetable oils. Olive oil is fine)
  3. Eat wild game when you can (such as wild fish, buffalo, and other meats rich in omega-3s)
  4. Supplement with fish oil
  5. 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.