Sweating It Out, Together

by Melissa Cates

I have a new vice. It totally quiets my busy mind.  I am guilty of leaving my kids behind and indulging several times a week; it hurts so good.

Ok, ok, before you get concerned here it is: group fitness classes. 

Hold on to your leg warmers, Jane Fonda: this is not your momma’s group fitness. I’m talking muscle-shaking, iron-pumping, can-barely-walk-the-next-day group fitness. I know I’ve written here before about my gym addiction, but here’s the ugly truth: I was TOTALLY half-a**ing it for a while. The main objective for me was to have a break in my day from my kiddos and maybe take a quiet shower. Yoga classes exempt, I was not pushing myself or even breaking a sweat when let loose on my own to those endless rows of cardio machines and confusing weight contraptions. But, oh, I have seen the light. It is twice as gratifying to get a much needed break AND get whipped into shape by a trainer on a mini stage with enviable deltoids and a mic pack. 

Photo credit: Lifetime Fitness

Photo credit: Lifetime Fitness

My go-to fixes right now are a total body barbell lifting class and a barre class (which develops long, lean muscles and a love/hate relationship with the word “pulse”). I still squeeze in yoga classes for the stretching, strengthening, and moments of mental clarity I can’t get anywhere else. The biggest perk for me of attending these classes is the ability to be completely in the moment in my body. I don’t have to come in with a plan or wonder what to do next. Someone who really knows their stuff will shout it out to me over the bass-thumping music accompanied by some inspiring motivational phrases. All I have to do is push myself, do one more, stay with it to the end. 

My advice to you is to get pumping and add strength training to your wellness plan. Lifting weights, whether on your own with some dumbbells at home or in a class, has so many benefits. In addition to shaping your body, strength training exercise builds muscle fibers that improve balance, increase total body metabolism, and even fight osteoporosis as we age. Added to these benefits, it is encouraging and rewarding to work out in a social environment. The sweaty sense of accomplishment is shared at the end of the hour, and it gives me an opportunity to chat and meet new people. Blame it on the endorphins or the tighter buns, but I’m not cutting back on this addiction any time soon.

Smoothie Making 101

Green Smoothie 
Highway 30a

If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably noticed I really like green smoothies. 99% of my days start out with a green smoothie. Not to sound like a total cliche, but I believe they changed my life. It started about three and a half years ago. After feeling really sluggish at work for a few months, I decided something had to change and embarked on a personal nutrition challenge: seven days of green smoothies.  Before the challenge, most mornings started with a "healthy" cereal. I thought cereal was a pretty good choice - boy was I wrong! Once I dropped the box of Kashi, I realized it was the reason I was having digestive problems, feeling overly full, bloated, and constant sugar cravings. Ew. Who wants to feel like that all the time? ....not me.  

That seven day challenge turned into a nearly 4 year love affair with greens. Smoothies are super refreshing and provide a blast of nutrients first thing in the morning. The changes I felt were so profound, it became a lifestyle. Some of the changes I noticed after the first month were, increased energy, mental clarity, healthier food cravings and weight management. The best part? You can really pack a ton of nutrients into 1 drink! AND - they are super low maintenance. You just need a blender and 3-5 minutes. Of course, you can find tons of recipes online, so I'm not going to give you one today. Instead, I'll share my Smoothie 101 tips, so you can figure out your own delicious concoctions! 

Smoothie Building Blocks
1. Choose a creamy base: banana, mango, peach
2. Choose a complimentary flavored fruit: apple, pear, berries, citrus
3. Add 1-2 handfuls of greens *if you are worried about it tasting green, start with a small handful and work your way up!
4. Choose an unsweet liquid: water, coconut water, almond milk, coconut milk
5. Blend your HEART out!

Pro Tips:

  • Less is more. The best smoothies are the simple ones. You don't need 10 different fruits and veggies to have a nutrient dense and flavorful smoothies. My favorite recipes usually include 3-5 ingredients. 
  • Consider your nutrients. Greens + Protein + Healthy Fats
    • Greens: spinach & chard have a mild flavor = beginner friendly! Start there. 
    • Protein: hemp seeds, chia seeds, whole food nut butters, full fat greek yogurt
    • Healthy Fats: avocado or coconut oil are great to start with. 
  • Don't make a sugar BOMB
    •  30%-40% greens + 60%-70% low glycemic fruits is a good starting place.
    • Added sweeteners should be natural (raw honey, maple syrup) and used sparingly. 

You can follow me @emiliemaynorliving for weekly inspirations or sign up for the next Blend Your Heart Out Smoothie Challenge!  Feel free to comment with any smoothie questions or share your favorite recipe!

Breakfast Matters

Breakfast Matters. Period.

From the moment you wake up in the morning, you encounter a dozen opportunities to be mindful and nourish yourself. And it starts with breakfast. It is so easy to feel rushed and live in the mentality that you are too busy to eat a good breakfast. It doesn't matter if you are a busy CEO, a stay-at-home mom, or stressed college student, we are all guilty of skipping this vital meal for one reason or another. Making breakfast a priority sets off a ripple effect of positive choices throughout the rest of your day. 

Quality Matters. I'm not talking about scarfing down a bowl of sugar loaded cereal. Having a nice balance of healthy fats, protein and fiber to fuel your body will do wonders. The blast of nutrients fuels your body to stay energized, satiated throughout the day and promote better brain function = increased productivity! Who doesn't want all that?? 

Here's the best part: It doesn't have to be complicated! There are so many options for quick, make ahead meals that won't cut into your morning routine: green smoothies, chia pudding, overnight oats, egg muffins.

Make breakfast. Because you are worth it. 

 

Overnight Oats with almond butter, dried cranberries, and raw pumpkin seeds. 

Overnight Oats - By KERF
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/3 – 1/2 cup milk [depending on how thick you like it]
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1/2 banana
1/2 tbsp chia seeds
Pinch salt
Pinch cinnamon

Directions
Stir everything together in a bowl. Place in fridge overnight. In the morning top with something crunchy and something with healthy fats – like nut butter or nuts.