Thanksgiving Survival Guide

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  I love Thanksgiving and Christmas and everything leading up to it, but I don’t like stuffing my face for a month straight and hating how I feel when January rolls around.  I’ve learned some tips and tricks on how to enjoy Thanksgiving, not feel like I’m depriving myself, and not completely abandon my commitment to my health.

  1.  Take some responsibility for what you choose to fuel yourself with.  Unless you make and serve 100% of the meal you’ll be eating, you will undoubtedly be faced with several tempting (but unhealthy) dishes.  If you are committed to feeling awesome and not forgetting your health goals during Thanksgiving, then you have to remember that you get to choose what you will eat and what you won’t eat.  No one is forcing you, even if you feel some peer pressure.  It’s okay to pass on some things!
  2. Don’t look at food as “good” vs “bad”.  Do you know that if you eat 3 slices of pie that you’ll lay awake with indigestion? Will you dread getting dressed and feel badly in your clothes if you overindulge?  Will you lose your energy and be dragging during Black Friday sales if you have 4 servings of sweet potato casserole?  Focus on how different foods make you FEEL rather than putting them into good and bad categories–it’s not about how you look, but how you feel.  Focus on eating foods that make you feel awesome!
  3. Eat your veggies first.  Load up at least half of your plate with veggies, preferably veggies that aren’t drowned in cheese or other sauces.  If you can contribute to your meal, bring a healthy option like a veggie tray or roasted brussels sprouts so you know you’ll have at least one healthy option for yourself.
  4. Be active first thing in the day.  Starting your day with a great workout will not only start you off on the right track, but it will make you feel good and helps you be more likely to keep up the healthy choices.  It’s not about “earning” your dinner, but just taking care of your body!
  5. Focus on what you’re eating all week!  If you know you want to indulge in some amazing Thanksgiving traditions, THAT IS OKAY.  You get to choose!  But don’t allow the entire week to get away from you–keep fueling yourself with healthy foods throughout the week to keep your energy up and your body running smoothly.
  6. Be intentional about focusing on your nutrition in the days after Thanksgiving.  I’m hosting a 5-day group the week after Thanksgiving with workouts, a meal plan, and some samples of my super shake to give you a structured plan for post-holiday blahs.  Click here to sign up!

If you want more help or recipe ideas, check out this amazing blog page with tons of Thanksgiving tips!

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The Simplest Motivation Hack EVER

It happens to all of us–you have something you want to accomplish, you have a plan to make it happen, and then…you snooze a million times.  Or you lay on the couch binge-watching Stranger Things.  Or you scroll through social media and realize an hour has gone by.  And you haven’t gotten anything done!

It’s so easy to fall into that procrastination trap, where anything and everything is more important than the one thing that REALLY is important to us–and we continue to not accomplish our goals.  Now, I don’t really believe in “motivation”–I think sometimes you feel really energized to work towards your goals and sometimes you don’t, but not feeling energized isn’t a reason to not do the necessary work.  But some strategies and techniques are crucial for those times where you’re just not feeling it.

This technique comes from the great Mel Robbins–you can watch an awesome video of her explaining it here–and it’s so simple it almost seems like it wouldn’t work.  But it does!  All you need to do is count backwards from 5–think of it like a countdown to a rocket launch: as the countdown is happening, the rocket is building up energy from its fuel and engine, and then when the countdown ends, it has the energy it needs to take off!  We are the same way; counting down from 5 allows our brain to recognize that a transition is happening, to build up energy to make it happen, and to launch us into whatever activity we need to get done.

That’s it!  You can use this 5-second rule to help you get up with your alarm instead of snoozing, to push play on your workout, to start that conversation that needs to happen but you’re scared to have, or whatever else you are putting off.  And try it with your kids to help them transition from one activity to another without meltdowns!

Whatever it is you need to get done, try this hack to make it happen!  5-4-3-2-1 GO!

Pre-Workout Comparison–C4 versus Energize

Since most of my workouts happen during the early morning, some kind of pick-me-up is definitely needed to get me going and to help me give my workouts my all.  I work really hard during my workouts, so a little extra umph helps me a lot!

I used to just drink some coffee in the mornings, but drinking a mug of coffee with some coconut milk creamer was a little too heavy on my stomach, and I like to sit quietly and enjoy my coffee, not gulp it down for my workout.  I started using Beachbody Performance Energize and really liked it, but decided to try a different brand to get some comparison and see which I liked better.   I know what you’re thinking–“she probably prefers the Beachbody one, *eyeroll*.”  And you’re right!  But for good reason so keep reading 😉

C4

*This picture is from Google Images*

I used C4 in their Watermelon flavor, which I really liked the taste of! Right off the bat, I didn’t love some of the ingredients–sucralose and artificial colors.  I try to stay away from artificial sweeteners and colors as much as I can, so I didn’t love ingesting them first thing after waking up.  It took about 20 minutes for me to start to feel the energy burst, which for me was a super itchy feeling in my ears–I had expected a tingly feeling, but it was super itchy, which was just kind of annoying.  The itch went away once I started my workout, but it was a little alarming at first because I was afraid I was allergic to something in the pre-workout.  (By the way, itching or tingling is a very normal effect of pre-workouts, so don’t worry if you experience that).  I definitely felt an energy burst with this pre-workout, but it wasn’t as much energy as I was hoping for.  Overall, the flavor was the best part of this pre-workout for me; the energy burst was fine, but wasn’t as much as I wanted.

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*This picture is from Google Images*

 

With Energize, the only flavor option is Lemon, which is just fine, but not my first choice.  Right off the bat with this pre-workout, it has an edge because it does NOT contain artificial sweeteners–it uses stevia leaf extract and beet sugar, which are both plant-based sweeteners and not made in a lab.  It also doesn’t contain artificial colors, so it makes me feel better about what I consume right after waking up.  With Energize, it takes about 10-15 minutes to start to feel the energy burst, which is a tingly feeling in my fingers and sometimes around my jaw line. It was also a little alarming at first (I had the same fear that I was allergic to something), but again, that is very normal for pre-workouts.  The tingle is a much less intense feeling than the itching I have with C4, so I prefer Energize in this category, too.  Finally, the burst of energy I feel is much stronger with Energize than it is with C4–I literally have a bounce in my step when I drink Energize, and that was missing when I drank the C4.  Energize wins out in every one of my categories except for flavor, which honestly is the least important one for me.

Energize also comes with 40 servings instead of C4’s 30 servings, so I like that I can add in a few runs here and there in addition to my regular at-home workouts, still use my pre-workout, and not run out before the month is over.

Do you use a pre-workout?  Which one is your favorite?  I’d love to hear some different perspectives and experiences!

If you want to try out Energize for yourself, you can get 10 packets to see how awesome it is here.

#mySADexperiment

If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably noticed me posting about my current health experiment–#mySADexperiement is 11 days in and is going strong!  I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what exactly it is I’m doing, so I wanted to answer some of those questions here.

First of all, SAD is Seasonal Affective Disorder.  I’ve been pretty open about my struggles with depression and anxiety, and SAD is something I deal with every single winter.  When the days are shorter and the sun isn’t out as long during the day, we can’t get as much vitamin D, which is so necessary for our bodies and our sanity.  Because of this, a lot of us struggle with our moods, energy, and motivation during the winter months.  The “winter blues” can be mild to severe for different people, and for me it can get pretty intense.  Last year was the toughest winter yet for me, and I’ve been going into this winter with some anxiety.  I want to do whatever I can to alleviate and manage my SAD symptoms and enjoy this season–after all, it’s my favorite time of year!

I’ve done quite a bit of research on nutrition and depression/anxiety, and time and again studies are seeing a connection between what you put in your body and your emotional/mental health.  Now, I’m not saying that changing my diet will prevent or cure anything, but if there is a connection, it can only help, right?

The biggest culprit seems to be sugar.  Studies are showing that sugar is basically the devil–all kinds of negative consequences to our bodies, little to no nutritional benefits.  Too bad this time of year is filled with sugar, sugar EVERYWHERE.  I made chili last night with some Italian pork sausage and found corn syrup (aka sugar) in the ingredients.  WHY???

Which brings me to my experiment: during the 30 days of November, I’m being intentional about fueling my body with what it NEEDS and what will be beneficial for me, not with what I want (you know, all the bread and leftover Halloween candy).  Limiting sugar, staying away from breads and refined grains, and limiting dairy while loading up on fresh veggies, lean protein, and healthy fats.  I’m also committed to working out every single day, since exercise releases endorphins and helps with your mood.  My doctor has told me more than once that the first thing I need to do for my depression is work out, and I’m usually very consistent with my fitness.  During the winter months, however, it gets so easy for me to skip workouts and make excuses–who doesn’t want to stay in bed under the warm covers a little longer when it gets cold outside?

So far, this experiment is going really well!  I’ve gotten a workout in each day, and while I haven’t been perfect with my nutrition, I have been very intentional about what I’m eating and have been great at getting my veggies in–and I’m feeling really great!  I don’t expect to have zero SAD symptoms this winter, but I am determined to avoid the darkness I felt last year.  So far, the difference is night and day between how I’m feeling right now and how I felt in November of last year.

This time of year is notorious for being difficult for people to focus on their health, but I’m determined to be different this year.  I have committed to owning my health this season instead of letting the season own me, and I’m excited about making it happen.  I’ve got the all the tools I need between my streaming workouts and super shake, and putting them to use may not be easy, but it’s definitely simple.

If you want to join me in #mySADexperiment, click here!

Grain-Free Broccoli Crust

I’ve been seeing this particular recipe floating around for about a year, and even though I really wanted to try it, I kept procrastinating.  I knew it would be a more involved recipe, and I also knew that my husband and child probably wouldn’t even try it, so it just seemed like it might not be worth it.  But inspiration finally struck and I am SO GLAD it did!  This broccoli crust is amazing and I am so excited to use it for a pizza alternative for myself.

The original recipe calls for making one larger pizza crust, but since I’m eating it by myself I opted to make two smaller crusts and just put one in the freezer after the initial bake (once it had completely cooled).  I also used half of a 15-oz bag of riced broccoli instead of chopping 3 cups of whole broccoli.

The crust is so much more flavorful than I had anticipated, and it held up really well when I put the toppings on it (I used ricotta, tomato sauce, onions and peppers, and cheese).  It was so good and even my husband commented on how good it looked and smelled!  Maybe next time he’ll actually try a bite 😉

This will definitely be a freezer staple for me–it was simple (even if it was a little involved to make) and it tastes great.  I love being able to have pizza without feeling bloated or having tighter pants the next day!

Broccoli Crust (from Fixate)

3 cups raw broccoli florets (or 1/2 15 oz bag riced broccoli)

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (part-skim)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 tsp sea salt or Himalayan salt

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves or 1 tbsp dried basil

 

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.

If using broccoli florets, pulse in food processor until breadcrumb consistency–if using riced broccoli, this step is not necessary.  Steam broccoli for 5-7 minutes in a steamer basket over boiling water (or until tender).  Set aside to let cool completely.  Using a cheesecloth or heavy-duty paper towel, squeeze cooled broccoli to get rid of excess water.

Combine cooled and squeezed broccoli, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, salt, garlic, and basil leaves. Mix well (I got the best results using my hands).

Transfer broccoli mixture to baking sheet (either as one crust or two smaller crusts)–use fingers to spread the mixture into a circle by pressing down and out and leave a “lip” on the crust so your toppings don’t slide off.

Bake crust in pre-heated oven for 18-20 min, until crust is set and lightly browned.

If freezing, let cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap and put in freezer zip-close bag. To reheat, bake frozen in a 400 F oven for 10-15 minutes until thawed and proceed to the next step.

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Not the most amazing food photo ever, but it’s the best I can do!

Add toppings for pizza and bake for 6-8 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.  Let cool 2 minutes before cutting and enjoy!

 

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

I love fall!  I love the cooler weather, the warmer clothes, and the fall foods.  I don’t love how tight my pants feel when I eat the traditional fall foods, though, so I’m always on the lookout for healthier fall treats.  These pumpkin muffins are perfect for this–they fit into my food plan so there is no need to feel guilty, they don’t make my pants tighter, and they taste awesome!  Win win!

I’ve been making these muffins for the past couple of years, and they really are awesome any time of year since you can get pumpkin year round (in my area anyway), but there is nothing like making pumpkin treats when the weather cools down and the leaves start changing color.  The recipe calls to top each muffin with pumpkin seeds, which is delicious, but when I don’t have pumpkin seeds I use the same amount of chopped walnuts.  Either way is great!

For those on the same Fix eating plan, each muffin is 1 purple and 1 blue container.  That’s right, these don’t even count as a carb!!!  #winning

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins (from the Fixate cookbook)

2 oz cream cheese

1 tbsp pure maple syrup

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1.5 cups almond flour

3/4 tsp baking soda

1 dash sea salt or Himalayan salt

2 tbsp raw pumpkin seeds OR chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Prepare nine muffins cups by lining a muffin tin with paper liners and coating with spray.  Set aside.

Combine cream cheese and maple syrup in a small bowl; mix well and set aside.

Combine egg and pumpkin in a medium bowl; mix well and set aside.

Combine almond flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.  Mix well.

Add almond meal mixture to egg mixture and mix until just blended.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin, filling each cup a little less than 1/2 full.

Spoon 1 heaping tsp of cream cheese mixture into the center of each muffin.  Fill muffin cups evenly, about 3/4 full, with remaining batter.

Sprinkle muffins evenly with pumpkin seeds/walnuts.

Bake 16 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Transfer muffins to a rack and cool.

Enjoy!

Elysium Health Wellness Infographic

Remember the wellness tips I posted about a few weeks ago?  Well, I’ve got a fun little secret to share!

Elysium Health recently featured my advice in an infographic on overall health and wellness, which I was stoked to see.  I’m all about helping people find ways to feel better and increase their overall wellness!  Several different bloggers contributed some wellness tips that were compiled into the infographic below.

Elysium Wellness Infographic

I was drawn to Elysium because of their strong focus on information and research. While they do offer a product, I haven’t personally tried it, and therefore I am unable to recommend it. I was not compensated for this partnership and have no knowledge of their products–ya’ll know I love what I use in my own daily routine!

It’s always great to be asked to contribute to something, and I’m excited that my little blog is being read my more than just my family, ha!  So thanks to all of you that are quiet observers enjoying my posts.  Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss out on future posts!