Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Warm and Satisfying Chicken Soups

The weather outside is frightful....

Brrr! I am not a cold weather person. In fact, I would rather be burning up than cold. I can't wait until the birds are singing again, the warmer weather, and it staying light longer. I mean, hello more running outside and less time on the treadmill!

During the colder months, my family eats a lot of soup. Soups just seems to warm your body and soup, and it is so filling. Not to mention it helps warm up the house and it just smells so good.

Here are some chicken soups you can make that are both warm and satisfying (because I am on a chicken kick). This is more of a round of delicious soups from other bloggers to get you started. My own recipes are to come in future posts.

Looking for soups that you can prep ahead and freeze? Then check out these (chicken and non-chicken)

Stay warm my friends! 
- Michelle

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Survival Guide for the Holidays

Christmas has a way of sneaking up on you. The hustle and bustle adds stress and takes atoll on your health and well-being. When it is all said and done, you are partied out, have sampled dozens of cookies and pies, and are feeling frazzled.

With Christmas around the corner, I have complied my holiday tips together along with 2 fun and quick workouts to create a holiday survival guide to help you survive the holiday hustle and bustle.

Also, you can read more about 10 Ways to "Take 10" for Healthy Holidays here.

While celebrating in the Christmas festivities, take time to warm your belly with homemade peppermint hot chocolate and clean eating whipped topping. Nothing says Christmas like peppermint and hot chocolate! Looking for more holiday recipes, try my Healthier Holidays Sampler that can be downloaded as a PDF to your computer.

Tips 1 & 2

Don't forget to take care of your health.Taking care of our health can help decrease the holiday slump, extra weight gain, and stress that the season brings along with it. Give your self a gift this year by making your health a priority. Instead of baking cookies or candy for co-workers, friends, or family, try making other homemade goodies so you wont be tempted to nibble while baking, or try making healthier edible gifts such as roasted nuts. 

Do what you can do. It all adds up and every little bit counts. No time to go to the gym or fit in a full workout, try a fun circuit workout such as this one. Repeat it 2-3 times throughout the day or break up the circuit while cooking dinner, doing laundry, or wrapping presents. Stretch between your tasks, do some jumping jacks when the cookies are in the oven, or do calf raises while brushing your teeth. Just try to do something.

Or try this workout if watching the Grinch with your family. 

Workout from heandsheeatclean
Tip 3:

Never leave home without a protein packed snack. Traveling, shopping, and running errands during the holidays can increase chances of ordering fast food, skipping meals, or falling prey to the sweet aroma of Cinnabon. Choose foods made with real ingredients to energize and fill you up until meal time. On-the-go high-protein snacks such as portable peanut butter, a handful of nuts, a "healthy" or homemade protein bar, string cheese, or a protein shake can help you feel full and satisfied. Better yet, have a snack before you even leave the house. Hummus with veggies and pita bread, half a sandwich, or some Greek yogurt are great options.

Tip 4:

This may may hurt you in the long run! Not eating can cause you to want to binge at the party. Low blood sugar which also raises your cortisol levels. Raised levels cause you to crave sugary,fatty, and salty foods. Instead of saving up on your calories, nibble on healthy snacks like nuts, raw veggies, and fruit throughout the day to keep you from binging at Christmas parties or giving into less than healthy snacks during the day.

Tip 5:

Rest is important. Make sure you listen to your body! It can get crazy busy and stressful. Try to get a good nights sleep of at least 6-7 hours. Rest or take naps when you need to. Lack of sleep or rest can be harmful on your immune system. Our immune systems are already vulnerable this time of year. Added stress, no sleep, and lots of sugary treats can knock you down, cause you to feel sluggish and cranky, or depressed.

Christmas time can be a wonderful time of year if you don't neglect to take care of your health or get caught up in the hustle and bustle. Here's to surviving the holidays!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

10 Ways to "Take 10" for a Healthy Holiday

Holidays can be stressful. Busy schedules, Thanksgiving get togethers, Christmas parties, gift buying, meal prepping, presents to make or wrap, and holiday baking can leave you feeling worn out and stressed. This can put a toll on our minds and bodies leaving us vulnerable to burn out, sickness, and weight gain. Here are 10 ways to take 10 minutes away from the holiday "festivities" to de-stress.

1. Taking a break as little as 10 minutes can make a big difference in your attitude and clarity. Regular breaks can help fight off colds and other infections.

2. Take a walk to clear your mind. Moving for 10 minutes may help with holiday weight gain and help maintain a healthy attitude. Taking three 10 minute walks a day benefits your heart as well.

3. Take a snack break to ward off over indulging in the holiday pies or cookies later on when your hungry. Sit down for 10 minutes and enjoy a healthy snack such as fruit and cheese, a handful of nuts, vegetables dipped in hummus, or half a sandwich.

4. Take a music break to lift your mood. Put on come feel good tunes that you can dance along to. This not only gets your metabolism going, but is a good stress reliever. If you don't feel like dancing, make your self a cup of hot tea, and just relax as you listen to your favorite tunes.

5. Naps may seem counter productive, but they are not. A power nap helps your immune and nervous system when you are feeling frazzled or lose focus. Taking a break away can help you refocus on the task at hand, or give you energy to get through the rest of the busy day.

6. Make your health a priority. By being more mindful of what you eat, and making time for exercise 3-4 times a week; it helps your body respond better to stress and helps you maintain your weight during the holidays. You feel better mentally and decrease the risk of seasonal depression.

7. If you are too busy to hydrate, you leave your body at risk for dehydration. Too much alcohol can further dehydrate your body, increasing the risks of headaches and muscle fatigue.

8. Gift buying, baking, decorating the house, traveling, and busy schedules can make us tired and snappy at each other. We spend all our energy on "giving" we forget to give our time and affection to those closest to us. We  don't have the time or energy to enjoy each other's company. The best gift you can give this year, is giving yourself to others. Take time to make memories with your friends and family.

9. As I mentioned earlier, eating healthy is important during this time of year as we eat lots of not so healthy meals and treats. Keep a healthy balance, so that you feel healthy, have more energy, and to reduce the risk of chronic infections. Keeping a balanced lifestyle during the holidays keeps us from falling off the wagon, feeling guilt and throwing in the towel, or gaining weight.  When January 1st comes,. healthier "resolutions" will be easier to maintain.

10. Take time to reflect what the true meaning of the season is. Above all, surround your self with family. As our bank accounts start to dwindle, remember, the best gifts are memories that last long after the cookies are gone, the tree is put away, or the gifts stop working.

It is my prayer and hope that you fully enjoy this time of year. Remember to give yourself the gift of nurturing your well-being. There is only 1 you. Take care of your self so that you can take care of others.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas! - Michelle

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Homemade Peppermint Hot Chocolate with Clean Eating Whipped Cream

When the weather starts to get cold, I love making homemade hot chocolate with cool whip for my kids after school. During the holidays, nothing says Christmas like peppermint hot chocolate. Warm up today with this clean eating peppermint hot chocolate and whipped cream.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate with Clean Eating Whipped Cream

½ cup stevia or agave nectar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
1/3 cup hot water
4 cups milk
¼ teaspoon peppermint extract

Mix sugar or agave, cocoa, and salt in medium saucepan; stir in water. Cook and stir over medium heat until boiling. Stir for 2 more minutes. Stir in milk and heat, but do not boil. Remove from heat and add peppermint extract. Top with whipped topping (see next recipe). Yields 4-6 servings.

Clean Eating Whipped Topping

¾ cup light agave nectar
3 large eggs whites
½ teaspoon cream of tarter

Add water to a medium saucepan until ¼ full, bring to a boil. Beat together agave, eggs whites, and cream of tartar in a large glass or metal mixing bowl (make sure it will fit on the top of the sauce pan) on medium-high until blended. Place the bowl on top of the pot of boiling water (bowl will get very hot). While wearing oven mitts, beat for 7 minutes occasionally scraping the side of the sides for any mixture, or until stiff peaks form. Remove and continue beating for 5-7 minutes while rotating the bowl, until mixture is thick and very fluffy with very stiff peaks. Use topping within a day or freeze extra topping for several weeks. Yields 6-8 cups. 


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Gifts for the Runner

Are you having a hard time looking for gifts to give your loved one or friend? What do you get for the person who seems to have everything? What about the runner in your life? To help you with your dilemma, I have compiled a short list of things to help you check them off your list.

Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link. 

Gifts that motivate:

Wearable fitness jewelry is all the trend right now. The jewelry not only survives the rigors they may put it through, but it serves as a good reminder when they may want to give up or throw in the towel. It can help them push through and remind them of what they are capable of.

Momentum jewelry offers motivate wraps, suede cuffs, and shoe charms that can help encourage or motivate your friend during a hard race or workout.

Endorphin Warrior  is another great place to shop for suede cuffs, bracelets, and stackable rings with positive and powerful messages. They believe in giving back. When you purchase a LIVE UNLIMITED braceley from Endorphin Warrior, $6 from each sale goes directly to the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) to help support research, and clinical care/services for patients.

Gifts that will help them recover:

1. Who doesn't like Epsom salts? It helps sooth tired and achy bodies after some serious training. Menthol and Eucalyptus scents are also great when you are sick or recovering from a flu or cold (Tis the season!) Lavender scented salts help relax and calm you after a hard or stressful day. And now you can find bubble bath/Epsom salt combinations from Dr. Teals! Epsom salts are sold are inexpensive gift items and can be picked up at Wal-Mart.

2. Foam rollers and tennis balls are also great for sore muscles and feet. Tennis balls can be purchased at your local Wal-Mart or Sports Store. Foam rollers come in all shapes, sizes, and prices to match your budget. They are in most sports stores or you may be lucky and find one at Wal-Mart (Can you tell I am a fan of the one stop shopping in Wal-Mart!)

Gifts that help memorialize an important date or race:

Gone for a Run offers personalized products from everything to coffee mugs to Christmas ornaments like the ornament above. It is virtually a one stop shop for runners with some really cute things. Prices vary.

Gift Baskets/Bags:

Gift baskets can match almost any budget and are so versatile. You can put as much or as little as you want together. They can be themed or you can just fill them with an assortment of items. Gift baskets filled with lotions, foot rub, aloe socks, fingernail polish, nail files, PlowOn Gum (natural energy gum), Protein cookies from Lenny&Larrys, hot chocolate packets, or candy is a great way to help a runner pamper their feet from all the abuse they put them through, and warm up after a cold Winter run!

No matter what you give your friend or family member, I know that they will be grateful with. Remember, it doesn't have to be complicated. Maybe it means taking them out for coffee.

Most important of all, don't forget to make memories and be present this holiday season.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

How I Have Grown as a Runner

"You must expect great things from your self before you can do them" - Michael Jordan

I may not be the fastest runner. I may not even be the strongest or the leanest. In fact, I may not even be the most graceful; but I have realized that I can push myself to do difficult things.

Over the years, I have grown not only as a runner but as a person. My physical and mental capabilities or perceived limits have been challenged. I have grown to love trail running even if it is physically more demanding. And I have tested my self.

“Even when you have gone as far as you can, and everything hurts, and you are staring at the specter of self-doubt, you can find a bit more strength deep inside you, if you look closely enough.”

— Hal Higdon

Two weekends ago I ran trail half marathon with my husband. I am going to be honest with you, my conditioning wasn't the greatest, and I let my negative thoughts take over. Its sad, because, I know what I can do, the scenery was beautiful, and I was running with my husband for his first trail race. I could feel sorry for myself, blame it on my long 12 hour shifts at work, blame it on the lack of time for training, the curve balls life has thrown me, you name it. It is what it is. And I am going to focus on my victories and how despite my negative thoughts during this last race, how I have grown as a runner.

Training for and running the 50k last year with Amber has taught me that I am stronger mentally and physically than I thought. We had some good training runs and we had some really awful runs. We have ran for hours through town, seeing the same thing over and over. I have ran two mile loops for hours at a time,(talk about monotony and wanting to get into your vehicle and leave after passing it for the zillionth time), and we tested ourselves through the hills on the trail and different terrain, through the cold and hot, and managed to train around our crazy and sometime chaotic schedules.

Although challenging, the race was a fun and re-memorable experience!
Running the race it self, on a very challenging and technical course, running for so long, and feeling pretty good while doing it (until my knees started acing up towards mile 26); made me realize that I could push myself outside of my comfort zone (you can check out my blog recap here). Through this process, I have learned many life lessons.

“The voice inside your head that says you can’t do this is a liar.”

— Unknown

Running serves as a metaphor of life. It takes hard work,discipline, determination, and grit to accomplish great things. As the saying goes, nothing worth having in life comes easy.

- Michelle

Monday, October 16, 2017

Fun and Festive Inspired Workouts

Fall is a beautiful time of year. The colors are vibrant and we get a break from those pesky mosquitoes. But as the leaves change, the cooler temps may have you wanting to stay more indoors.

The change of season has inspired me to do a round up of Fall Inspired Workouts again this year.

Halloween is coming up, but the munching on candy will continue long after. Here is a easy but effective Candy Blaster Cardio workout to help burn off those extra calories. 

Grap those pumpkins and use them to add resistance to your workouts. Here is a great 
JACKED-o-lantern total body strength workout from The Fitnessista. Click on the links to find out more.

Fit Cookie has another pumpkin inspired workout

Pushed for time, you can always break up your sets and do the exercises throughout the day. Here is a quick HIIT set that I liked to use with my clients.

Have the cooler temperatures inspired you to get out doors more? What is your favorite thing about Fall? Have you ever incorporated a pumpkin into your workout or not? 

Hope these ideas help get you motivated to workout today. 

- Michelle