Monday Must-Haves!

First of all, happy marathon monday! Hopefully,  you’re planning on live-streaming the marathon this morning. Secondly, I hope you had a wonderful Easter weekend (hopefully spent with family, faith and food!). My husband and I attended a new church this weekend and we really loved it’s mission:

“We seek to build a diverse, intentional, affirming community animated by joyful worship and called forth into social action for service to the greater good.

We seek to hear God’s call not only as individuals but also as a progressive, missional community striving to reflect the Kingdom of God in the here and now.

We embrace the rich history of the Reformed Tradition and the storied past of our once-prominent, center-city church, as we welcome a diverse, urban community of seekers –  young and old, gay and straight, rich and poor, of all races and ethnicities.

We are called into a meaningful, transformative community that values the unique blessings and perspectives of each member and offers a place of welcome and healing to weary souls.

We seek dynamic servant leaders who serve humbly, embrace change, and boldly challenge injustices in the wider community.

Most important, we seek to proclaim the Gospel in both word and deed, following the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.”

Screen Shot 2014-04-21 at 8.54.21 AMWe started off our Easter morning with some heavenly baked oatmeal. I used peaches and blueberries but you can use any fruit that your heart desires. I also swapped the milk for coconut milk. This was a hearty breakfast for us, would make a great addition to any breakfast or brunch spread if you’re cooking for a group!

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After church, we had lunch with my brother and his family, and our mom who came to visit. My nephew LOVED my first attempt at carrot cake (I’m the queen of not trying recipes before I make them for an event, so far so good!). He walked around asking for more cake from everyone after he finished the piece we were “sharing.”

Screen Shot 2014-04-21 at 8.54.39 AMA fine weekend if I do say so myself! The husband is off to Chicago this week and I’m headed to Boston for an overnight on Wednesday. Quick trip to finalize details on a project and then back home on Thursday for our last weekend before wedding season starts!  So, for my Monday Must-Haves:

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#1: FitBit – it doesn’t matter whether you have the FitBit One or FitBit Zip, or any of the other options, any of them will motivate you to MOVE. I have the “zip” and it calculates my steps taken, calories burned, and mileage for the day. You can add a food diary in your app which will help with the caloric data. You’re supposed to take 10,000 steps a day (or around 5 miles), having this little device attached to you will certainly push you to get closer to that number. I hook mine on my pants or skirt each day (or on my bra if I’m wearing a dress), it’s easy to conceal!

#2: Herbal Essences Naked Shampoo: You can grab this at any drugstore or Target. I picked it up over the weekend and couldn’t believe how clean my hair felt after using it. Also, the volumizing aspect is actually there. I usually use Aveda products to make my hair perk up (or Big Sexy Hair What a Tease Back Comb in a Bottle for special events), but for every day use, this shampoo does a great job. Highly recommend it for only $4 a bottle!

#3: Beach Body 21 Day Fix:  If you’re able to be productive while working out at home, and capable of jumping around, I highly recommend this workout system. You get 3 discs of workouts, including: cardio, plyo, yoga, pilates, upper/lower body and other variations. The workouts are only 30 minutes each, and that includes a warm up and post workout stretch. If you also follow the meal plan that comes with this system, you’ll certainly see results. If you can’t follow the diet but need a quick workout in your life, it’s still an effective fitness plan.

#4: J.R. Watkins Hand Soap: When we moved in our new house, I grabbed a couple bottles of the aloe & green tea soap from Target, not knowing what a hit it would be! Everyone who comes out of our guest bath comments on how excellent it smells. Plus, it’s in a cute bottle so you don’t even need to transfer it to a soap-dispenser!

#5: Shark Navigator: my mom got us this vacuum for Christmas and it has literally been a God-send. We use it CONSTANTLY (in lieu of sweeping). Having two dogs who insist on shedding year-round, this is the quickest way to spiffy up the house – and it has settings for hardwoods or carpet. (Thanks, Ma!)

#6: Brita Water Bottle: this guy is my constant companion. Easy for grabbing water essentially anywhere, including airports – and not feeling gross. You see, it filters the water before you drink it. No need to purchase water bottles anymore if you have this one, you can fill it up anytime and be on your merry way!

Happy Monday! Try to make someone else’s day happy while increasing your own happiness!

Healthy & Happy

Ever noticed how you drag after a weekend of eating fried food and indulging in a few more alcoholic beverages than you normally do? I certainly do, and I’m the first to notice when I’ve gained even a single pound. Eating healthy takes more work and lots of self-discipline, but isn’t it worth it to look and feel better? I’m committing to making the change and fueling my body with what it needs to run (literally), and getting rid of the “bad” stuff. This does not mean that I actually think the wings and barbeque I had from Mac’s yesterday (yes, I had both) were bad, but they certainly aren’t the definition of clean eating.

I spent time with family yesterday after dropping my husband off at the airport and didn’t make it to the grocery store. I am planning to go this afternoon and I’m including my shopping list (Clean Eating Groceries) for you – and a meal plan for the rest of the week.

So far today, I’ve had two over-easy eggs and 1/2 of an avocado and a salad with grilled chicken, tomatoes, corn, black beans, onions and cilantro with lemon slices for the dressing. For dinner, I’m having left over ribs (thanks, Shelly & Doug) with sautéed garlic spinach and mushrooms. Since I plan on working out after work, I have a banana that I’ll have for a snack this afternoon. The grocery list is made based on what’s currently in my refrigerator and pantry, you’ll want to check your own before heading out to shop.

Here’s the rest of the week’s meal plan:

Tuesday
Breakfast: Oatmeal (if you need a recipe)
Lunch: Quinoa Salad (save the leftovers)
Snack: Apple
Dinner: Vegetable & Bean Soup (save the leftovers)

Wednesday:
Breakfast: Egg & Spinach Cup
Lunch: Vegetable & Bean Soup
Snack: Banana
Dinner: Skillet Chicken & Quinoa

Thursday:
Breakfast: Protein Shake w/ Coconut Milk
Lunch: Quinoa Salad
Snack: handful of almonds
Dinner: Herby French Lentil Salad

Friday:
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Vegetable & Bean Soup
Snack: Banana
Dinner: Grilled chicken /spinach / broccolini

Most of it is pretty self-explanatory and I’ve included recipes for those items that require more effort. If you’re not a fan of plain oatmeal, try the overnight oats recipe that I included. You’ll need a crock pot, ramekins and some time for most of these items, but it will be worth it at the end of the week when you’re already seeing a difference. Instead of waiting until after next weekend, or until the beginning of a new month (or year), why not start now?

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Dairy & Dessert Free

For October, I have committed myself to going dairy and dessert free. The dairy is for health reasons (self-diagnosing a dairy allergy) and the dessert is for waist reasons. I am running my butt off these days (almost 26 miles last week) and not dropping a pound.

So, I made a deal with myself to cut out all dairy products for a month… and dessert. Chocolate milk (Horizons Organic) and ice cream are basically food groups for me, so those are probably the hardest two to say goodbye to. Dessert is another story in itself, because I LOVE chocolate. Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies, seriously ALL chocolate. So, it will be tough (and I might scream) but I think I can do it for 31 days. almond
I have stocked up on Almond Milk (not a dairy product) and am making great efforts to avoid the delicious cheeses housed in our cheese drawer. Jalapeno Mango? Habenero Honey? Honey Goat Cheese? It’s only a month. Only one little month.

Hopefully my breathing will improve this month and maybe I’ll even drop a few pounds (not trying to pack them on now just because we’re married!).

Last night I made shrimp creole for dinner and we had leftovers today for lunch. My sugar is coming in the form of a banana and a vanilla creme protein shake today. Yes, I actually started yesterday with the plan. They say it takes 21 days to create change – whether it be with eating habits, working out, or a new routine in your life. So hopefully by 10/21, I’ll be able to say that I’m no longer craving a Starbucks Chocolate Cake Pop after lunch or chocolate moose tracks ice cream after dinner (or delicious flourless chocolate tortes wherever we go!).

Here’s a helpful website with sugar-free recipes if anyone is interested in cutting all sugar out of their life (I will refrain from calling you crazy).

What favorite item have you successfully cut out of your life? Do you miss it now or even enjoy if you do have it now? Would love to hear from you!

White Dress Diet

In the wake of the eating-frenzy that happened over Christmas, I am feeling the need to work out super hardcore (and maybe avoid biscuits & gravy, mac & cheese , and any other delicious “Christmas” foods that were had). The “diet” part of the title is slightly misleading because I physically cannot diet. I LOVE FOOD.

My mom got me FlyBarre classes for Christmas, and I already had a 3-class pass for FlyWheel. So I am super excited for trying those – I’ve only heard good things about these classes. And no mom, I won’t be “flying” through the air to do them.

I also considered P90x or Insanity – but home workouts are never as good as going somewhere (in my opinion) – partially because I have 180 lbs of dog that like to kiss my face during sit ups, think I’m playing during push-ups, etc. Crossfit is another option but I’m slightly scared. I HATE being sore. Which is probably why I’m not in as good of shape as I could be… I tend to do things lighter than I technically could for fear of being sore if I actually do it to the max.

I still have a Groupon for 20 hot yoga classes and I’ve already signed up for the Tarheel 10-mile race (April) and a 1/2 Marathon (Alston Bird – March). Running is definitely my “go-to” work out – and I enjoy yoga. But I need to do more this year so I’m not one of those brides who looks back and hates the way her arms look in her wedding pictures.

I came across these workout DVDs but haven’t made any purchases yet:

Bridalicious® Boot Camp by The Knot

But again, the home workout deal… it’s so easy to get side tracked. What’s your favorite workout? Or better yet, if there are any brides out there… tell me how you got in shape for your big day!

PS – a BIG congrats to my grad school friend, Valerie, on her engagement! I am so excited for you and David – you are going to be one BEAUTIFUL bride! xox