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Throwback Thursday: Our Path to a Healthier Lifestyle

Good morning!

Today I’m linking-up again with Brittany of My Own Balance. In case you didn’t know, she started a new link-up called Throwback Thursday. The premise is to revive some of those old posts that you feel deserve a second look and to introduce new readers to some of your old content. So, lets get started!

My Own Balance

Based on my post from the other day, you may be under the impression that I’ve always been a health conscious person – always working out and eating healthy, BUT that actually isn’t the case at all. I wasn’t always the healthiest person. There was a time where I was on the heavy side, didn’t eat well and hardly ever exercised, so the reason why I’m bringing back this particular post is to give you a glimpse of how and why I (and Justin) started a path to healthy living and also to give you some tips that both Justin and I do to maintain that healthier lifestyle.

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This is an important topic to me, so this is going to be a semi-long post! Okay, let’s get started…

Way back in the day (seems like a million years ago!), when I was in grade school and into high school, I was a bit on the chunky side (probably about 10-12 pounds heavier than I am now). It wasn’t until high school that I started to care about my weight. So, probably about mid-way through high school, I decided to join the track team and began to lose some of the extra weight. In the beginning of my college years, my mom and I did Jazzersize together and I bought some home workout DVDs. Remember Mari Winsor & Winsor Pilates? Well those were my very first at home workout DVD purchase (oh yeah…and I think I bought a workout DVD VHS [remember those days!?!] from Prevention too). I can’t remember for sure, but I guess I was working out several days a week.

Also, I neversomewhat…okay actually looking back on it, I ate more fast food/junk food than I originally thought…I definitely ate my share of french fries, pizza, zebra cakes, Oreo cookies, snickers bars, soda (specifically root beer), also, Italian family = lots of pasta and bread…you get the picture?

Junk Food Collage

Also, when Justin and I started dating in my senior year of high school, we’d often go out to eat and, at that time, TGI Friday’s was our restaurant of choice (now we know better!).

T.G.I. Friday's

Photo credit: Wikipedia

I remember saying to my cousin one time…”as long as I’m working out, I can eat whatever I want!” What was I thinking!?! I definitely indulged more often than I should. Ironically, I was a vegetarian at the time and thought I was being super healthy about it. Looking back at it now, I was NOT eating the right type of foods and my diet was not well-balanced. I was eating fried, processed and sugary foods…so NOT good!

Justin had also gained some weight during the years we started dating and was probably getting even less exercise than me. A year prior to our marriage, he decided he wanted to lose weight before the wedding. He literally cut out ALL junk food and starting lifting weights and working out regularly. I’ve always admired him for his discipline during that time. Cutting out the foods you love and are used to is NOT easy! He did NOT cheat and stuck to his healthy eating plan. I, on the other hand, was still enjoying my zebra cakes (probably more often than I’d like to admit) and really only exercised on occasion (e.g. biking, running, etc.). Justin lost approximately 50 lbs, and was much happier and more confident in his own skin, and even more important, he felt better and had more energy. It’s been 6 years and he’s been able to maintain his weight during this time. He used (and continues to use) John Stone Fitness as a source of fitness information and motivation.

After Justin and I got married, I wised up and completely revamped my diet and exercise plan. I began to workout on a regular basis and stuck to a schedule. I began to care about what types of foods I put into my body and what types of foods we kept in the house (less temptation this way!).

Train hard... Then enjoy a well deserved rest!...

Photo credit: Tribesports

I am by no means trained in this area and do not consider myself an expert, but I wanted to share some of the things I (and Justin) do to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

I always eat breakfast…a healthy breakfast. I’ve learned that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. What you eat for breakfast sets the tone for the rest of the day, so I start off eating the right foods. I used to eat toaster cakes and sugary cereal…empty calories! Now I start my day with a healthy meal which may include this or this protein smoothie full of fruits, veggies, chia or flax seeds or I may have PB Overnight Oats, Kashi cereal or a healthy egg wrap.

I exercise regularly. Currently, I workout 5 days a week (I give myself Wednesday and Friday off). I either go to Zumba, do an at home workout DVD, bike ride (especially in the summer months) or do another activity. I make sure that my exercise routine not only includes cardio, but also some weight training (remember…muscle helps burn fat). Working out is a big part of my life. I do it for health reasons, but I also do it because I enjoy it. It’s important to find a workout you love and that you look forward to doing.

Zumba for Japan

Photo credit: anujraj

I don’t deprive myself. I’m NOT going to sit here and tell you that I don’t indulge in sweets (after all I do LOVE to bake!) or have pizza sometimes because…I DO! And I’m NOT going to say that it isn’t hard during holidays or when you’re on vacation to be good all the time because…it IS! I’m only human and I DO allow myself the occasional treat, but moderation is key.

Eating out. As you already know, we like to eat out. When we eat out, I typically stay away from fried foods and we rarely order dessert (every one in a while we do treat ourselves though). To name a few examples, I tend to order salads, grilled chicken breasts with veggie sides or grilled salmon.

I eat snacks in between meals, which helps curve my hunger cravings and helps me not to overeat at lunch and dinner. Especially when I’m at work during the week, I bring my snacks from home so I stay away from the office candy bowl (although I do sometimes succumb to temptation…ugh!). My snacks of choice include an apple and a few almonds, some type of granola bar, veggies and homemade hummus, etc.

no candy
I’ve eliminated processed foods as much as possible. I cook and Justin grills, so we always tend to make fresh foods for our meals. Now…granted, I still like my granola bars and cereal (and won’t give them up!), but I try to buy ones that are organic and don’t contain a lot of sugar, fat, calories, etc.

Portion control! This is key. I try to eat ONLY what’s on my plate and not go back for seconds (admittedly, sometimes hard to do!).

I eat clean as much as possible. I incorporate lots of fruits and veggies in my diet, and eat lean meats (e.g. chicken breasts) and fish (e.g. salmon).

A wedding cornucopia

Photo credit: Wikipedia

I drink water (and green tea) the majority of the time. I don’t drink soda, juice or other sugar drinks. I try to flavor my water with some lemon or mint.

Water Glass

So there you have it…these are the standards I try to live be on my journey to a healthier lifestyle. It certainly isn’t easy all the time, but I do what I can and try not to get down on myself if I slip off the bandwagon sometimes. I hope some of these tips are helpful to you and am curious to know…what do you do to maintain a healthy lifestyle?

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#CreatingBetter

Exercise has been engrained in my brain and my lifestyle for most of my adult life. I’ve worked out for years and years, and have dabbled in all sorts of exercise programs. It’s one of those things I do not because it’s a social norm, but because it’s something I love and enjoy. I crave that sweat! So when I found out I was going to be a mom to twins, I knew that wouldn’t stop me from keeping active and adhering to those daily workouts. I wouldn’t let the fact that I was to become a mom be my excuse not to exercise. In fact, becoming a mom was going to give me an even stronger reason to keep that exercise routine alive and well.

Sweaty Selfie#sweatyselfie

I have 7 month old twins – I work full-time – I have a husband – I have a household to maintain – I cook my owns meals AND despite my busy life, I ALWAYS find 30-45 minutes to workout at least 5 days a week (my current favorite 30 minute workout is Insanity Max30 – you can check out my full review HERE). Sometimes I workout at 5:30 a.m. and sometimes I workout after we put the babies to bed, but whatever the time, I make sure to fit my workout into my day. Exercise is part of my routine just as is brushing my teeth everyday – I don’t miss it!

Since becoming a mom, working out has taken on a whole new meaning – I want to be healthy for me, but I also want to be healthy for my babies. Having twins is physically demanding – I go up a down the stairs a million times a day, I lift them off the floor, out of the bathtub, out of their cribs, I take them in and out of the car, I carry two car seats at one time with the babies in them in and out of daycare everyday. If I wasn’t healthy or active, those things may not be possible. And despite the fact that they are still so young, I plan to teach them that health and fitness is not a one time deal, it’s a way of life. And finally, those 30-45 minutes a day allow me to get that ME time – it helps me to distress, to clear my head and when my workout is over and I walk up those stairs, I’m ready to tackle the day.

FitMom#fitmom

I feel strong and I feel fit, but I didn’t get that way, but doing nothing. I work hard and I push hard during that time and I make sure to eat as healthy as possible.

That being said, no matter what walk of life you are, there is no reason not to exercise. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete, a busy mom, just had a baby or never worked out in your life, I’m asking you to join me in my 30-day online boot camp starting June 15th. You’ll have the support, you’ll have the accountability and my teammates and I will help guide you through your chosen workout program and nutrition plan. If I can do it, so can you! Make the commitment, believe in yourself, push yourself and you will see results. #noexcuses

FitCamp Image#creatingbetter

If you’re interested in joining my online boot camp, comment below or shoot me an email.

Why do you workout?
How do you fit exercise into your busy life?
What time of day do you prefer to do your workout?

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Shakeology Giveaway Winners

And without further ado, the THREE winners of the Shakeology giveaway are:

Paige C.

Anie U.

Brittany L.

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

Shakeology Samples1Emails will be sent to the winners today, so look out for those ladies. Thanks to all who entered!

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Shakeology Giveaway {closed}

Hey there friends and Happy Friday!! I have an awesome giveaway for you too – get excited!!!

You may remember a few weeks back, I briefly mentioned my love of Shakeology. Well, it’s not only a delicious protein shake, but it’s a shake packed with an impressive amount of superfoods that provide you with better overall health, gives you energy, curbs cravings, helps you lose weight, helps with digestion, promotes a healthy immune system and much, much more. It’s my daily dose of dense nutrition in a glass!

*Check out this short video to get an idea of the vast amount of powerful ingredients Shakeology has to offer.

Shakeology Samples1I drink it for breakfast every single day and having been doing so since the beginning of the year. Since drinking Shakeology on a regular basis, I’ve noticed an amazing difference in my skin, my energy levels and overall health and well-being. It’s by far my healthiest meal of the day and provides all the necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients, so I don’t have to take a multi-vitamin anymore.

Unlike other protein shakes, it mixes really well with water or my personal favorite, unsweetened almond milk. There’s no gritty texture, it tastes amazing and you can easily change up the flavor combinations by adding different kinds of fruit, nut butters, etc. It’s great as a meal replacement or even a post-workout snack.

Now onto the GIVEAWAY DETAILS – THREE of you will have a chance to win both a packet of chocolate and vanilla Shakeology! Simply click HERE to enter! The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only, and will end Sunday, May 31st at midnight est. Winners will be announced on Monday, June 1st. Good luck!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated in anyway to do this review or giveaway. The sample packets have been purchased with my own money. All opinions are my own and based on my general satisfaction with the product. 

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Throwback Thursday: The Four Agreements

Hi there friends!

Today I’m linking-up with Brittany of My Own Balance. She started a new link-up called Throwback Thursday. The premise is to revive some of those old posts that you feel deserve a second look and to introduce new readers to some of your old content. I love this concept, so I’m excited to join in, and if you never checked out Brittany’s blog, you should definitely head on over. She shares great workouts, inspirational posts, blogs about her recent move to Brazil.

My Own Balance

This is a post I wrote back in 2013. Re-reading this post reminded me how important it is to live by and practice these Four Agreements everyday. They will help you be a better person and lead a more fulfilled life. Enjoy!

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A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I was reading The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. My co-worker told me about it and since I thought it sounded interesting, I borrowed it. It’s a quick read and very powerful, so I liked to share some of what I got out of it with you.

BookFirst and foremost, I must start with The Four Agreements as quoted from the book:

1. BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

3. DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS

Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement you can completely transform your life.

4. ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST

Your best is going to change from moment to moment, it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

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The premise of the book is that we have not necessarily chosen to believe our core values and beliefs – we were programmed to believe them. This programming happens at a young age. Our parents, our family, our teachers, etc. instill certain thoughts/beliefs in our minds, and being at a young and impressionable time in our lives, we don’t know any better but to believe everything we’re told. As we get older, sometimes it’s hard to shake those beliefs (some of which may be positive and some of which may be negative) because of the way in which they’ve been ingrained in our minds. The question remains…how do we create our own reality with our own set of beliefs? The answer…by adopting these agreements. These agreements will help release you from the burden of false expectations and being hard on yourself. It will help change the way you see the world and deal with people that you encounter on a daily basis, and most importantly, they will help teach you to love yourself. Essentially, they can provide you with a sense of freedom and inner peace.

This is a picture that my dad had taken a while back. The serenity of the landscape reminded me of the inner peace we should all strive for and deserve.

LandscapeI already try to practice some of these agreements without knowing it, but I plan to make a conscious effort to abide by them even more so after reading this book – it only makes sense. They’ll have a lasting impact on my overall well-being, and help rid my life of negativity, bringing back that sense of balance in dealing with others, as well as myself. Come to think of it, practicing these agreements will sometimes eliminate some of the pressure I put on myself, and will help to refocus what is important in my life.

My thoughts on each of the agreements:

1. BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” “Think before you speak.” Remember when your parents preached these things to you growing up? I certainly do, but it’s SO true! Saying mean or hurtful things about yourself or others will come back to haunt you in the end. This is one agreement that I’ve always tried to abide by.

2. DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY

This is definitely one that I have struggled with in the past. There was a time in my life that I would think if people were acting strangely around me, then it had to be me even though I knew that I didn’t do anything wrong. I’d feel as if I did something wrong. As I’ve gotten older, I realize that people have their own issues to contend with and their odd behaviors are NOT about me – it’s about them.

3. DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS

I’d be the first to admit that making assumptions is one that I have the most difficulty with. It’s easier to make those assumptions about a person than not, but when my mind starts to wander, I remind myself that I wouldn’t want someone to judge me, so why would I want to judge them? We don’t know people’s stories, so it’s best to ask questions and take people at face value rather than assume the worst.

4. ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST

As mentioned in a previous post, I tend to have a Type A personality. I like things to be a certain way and have a tendency to put pressure on myself to achieve what I want to achieve. My mom always reminds…just do your best! As long as I know that I’m giving my best effort in any situation, that’s all that matters.

I really love the concepts of each and every one of these agreements, but I think what amazes me the most is that they’re so simple, yet difficult to maintain; although each agreement builds on the other some are definitely more difficult to uphold than others. They require a sense of open mindedness and practice, and since I’m willing to put forth the effort, all I can do is MY BEST to fulfill these agreements.

Thoughts?
Do you practice any of these agreements in your daily life?
What agreement do you feel would be the hardest to maintain? 

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Recipe Favs

Hi there! Hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day! Ours was laid back – going on a family walk and just enjoying some quality time with the babes. It was actually a perfect way to spend the day.

I’ve tried lots and lots of new recipes over the years – some of them I liked, some of them were okay, some of them were downright awful and some of them I’ve loved. As a way to organize all the recipes I’ve tried, I created a Pinterest board called TRIED and TRUE – the only recipes that get pinned to this board are the recipes that I’ve absolutely loved. So I thought it would be fun to share some of my tried and true recipe favs.

First we’ll start with the savory dishes, then move on to sweet (my fav!). Okay, here we go!

DETOX KALE SALAD WITH LEMON APPLE VINAIGRETTE 

SPICY PARMESAN SHRIMP PASTA

TURKEY MEATBALLS IN SPICY TOMATO BASIL SAUCE WITH BURRATA

ZUCCHINI-SUMMER SQUASH QUICHE

GLUTEN-FREE ALMOND JOY COOKIES

SNEAKY SPINACH CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS

RAW BROWNIE COOKIE DOUGH PIE

EASY HOMEMADE FUNFETTI CAKE

To check out more of my recipe favs, head on over to my TRIED and TRUE Pinterest board!

What are some of your recipe favs (links welcome)?
How do you like to organize your recipes?
What did you do for Memorial Day? 

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Totally Random Bits of Info #20

Today I’m doing some Thinking Out Loud – thanks for hosting Amanda!

1. Something epic has happened…the babes slept the ENTIRE night for the past 3 nights in a row!!!! Seriously, this is the most amazing thing ever! Justin and I haven’t slept this much in almost 7 months. It’s nothing short of a miracle!

2. I have been so bad with my water consumption lately. I don’t know what my problem is, but before I know it, it’s the end of the day and I’ve only filled my water bottle once, maybe twice. It’s not good. I NEED to make a better effort to ramp up my water intake!

3. I signed into Pinterest yesterday and this quote was at the top of my feed. I loved it, so I had to share. So, so true!

4. I REALLY enjoyed Monique’s post about her balanced approach to clean eating. It’s a practical and realistic approach, and is very similar to my own philosophy.

5. The other day I placed a Birchbox order and with my order, I received these three complimentary Artisan teas. I haven’t tried any of them yet, but they sound amazing, and I’m most excited to try the chocolate mint truffle!

Artisan Tea6. This time of year, I love chicken salad, but typically it isn’t the healthiest of options, especially when it’s smothered in mayo; however, there are healthier versions out there and here is one of them —> 4-Ingredient Avocado Chicken Salad. I thought this looked amazing and I can’t wait to try it!

7. Big shout out to my brother, Russ!!! He started Insanity Max:30 (check out my full review HERE) this week!!! He’s sore as heck, but totally rocking it so far! So proud of you!!!!

8. Now this is a fantastic idea —> FroYo Bites! A perfect summertime treat!

9. This week we moved the babes to a new daycare and so far they’re doing really well. I’m super impressed with all the stuff they do with them during the day. When I got Monday’s daily report, they focused on a slew of important skills – cognitive development, creative art, motor skills, language arts, sensory stimulation and much more. They even “painted” with pipe cleaners and they’re only 7 months old. I LOVE it!

10. I got a new lunch bag!!! I know…so silly to be excited about a lunch bag, but I’ve needed one for so long and besides, it’s the little things that make me happy. Anyway, it’s great to finally have something is super stylish and functional. In case you’re wondering, I ordered this one.

Are you good about drinking enough water during the day?
What’s your favorite summertime treat?
Would you get excited over a new lunch bag or am I nuts? ;-)

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