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Reevaluate. Reset. GO!

There's only one way to go.... forward.  Someone recently said to me, "I don't know how you do it all."  I told her I don't.

Why don't people believe me when I say this?  I like to think I'm pretty transparent about what a hot mess I can be. Just because I smile while I say it and laugh afterwards doesn't mean I'm joking!

The truth is for every one thing I get together, two others fall behind. At least that's how it's felt lately.

My workouts and self-care are on point? My house is embarrassingly messy and I haven't blogged in a month.

My house is clean and the laundry is done? I'm stressed beyond belief and skipping out on workouts to find the time.

It happens and it's OK. We can't be everything to everyone all the time. And if people on the internet make you feel less than because of this give them a #nottodaysatan (maybe my favorite hashtag ever) and get on with your life.

I had a birthday recently (Monday actually) and every year on my birthday I reevaluate or set goals for myself. What do I want to do? Who do I want to be? How can I be the best version of myself FOR myself and for the people around me?

I was planning on sharing my short list with you, but honestly it's just too scary for me right now. There are some big things on there this year (not necessarily life-changing big, but may be difficult for this one step forward, two steps back gal). They're so scary to me that it's taken me days to even write this post because this means it's time to get started.

So while I won't share my whole list with you, I will share one piece of it because it concerns you.

This year, I want to give my best to my readers, clients, and class participants. Don't get me wrong, you often get my all and even though I have the greatest job in the whole world... at the end of the day it's still a job. Some days (just like any other job) it's hard to remember just how good I've got it. But my goal this year is to always remember how sweet this life is. How glad I am to see each and every one of you sweating, smiling, maybe scowling, and getting healthier. I promise to do more than just show up and give you my all. I promise to give you my best.

All that being said, this lyric pops into my head whenever I start making grand plans and promises, "And it came to me then that every plan is a tiny prayer to Father Time."

So while I plan for those big goals, I'm just sending those tiny prayers to Father Time and getting ready for this year's ride. I hope you'll join me.

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"I Love Me" BINGO!

Just because Valentine's Day has come and gone doesn't mean we have to put the lovin' aside... especially the self-love. So what do you think?  Want to play some "I Love Me!" BINGO?

I Love Me BINGO!

Create/Recite an Empowering Mantra Daily “I am capable.” “I know who I am and I am enough.” “I choose to think thoughts that serve me well." “My body is my vehicle in life; I choose to fill it with goodness”

Whatever it is. Find something that fills you with peace, hope, and happiness and repeat it daily. Embrace it whenever it comes to mind or whenever you need it.

Eat Something That Makes You Feel Great. Sure that salad may not taste as good as that decadent chocolate soufflé that gave you a stomach ache for a day, but it will make you feel great from the inside out. Choose something that will fill your body with goodness.

Eat Something That Tastes Amazing. Go eat that amazing chocolate soufflé that gave you a stomach ache just because it tastes amazing. Or better yet… try these vegan dark chocolate truffles! (See! You don’t need anyone to buy you an overpriced box of chocolates shaped like a heart.)

Smile In The Mirror. And mean it.

Write Yourself a Love Letter. You are beautiful, and powerful, and capable, and you do amazing things every day. Don’t forget to tell yourself how great you are.

Do Something New and/or Challenging. If it doesn’t challenge us it doesn’t change us. Step outside of your comfort zone and try something new. A new recipe, a new workout routine, a new class. Because when you do conquer it, you’re going to feel unstoppable.

Do Something that Makes You Feel Invincible. We all have something that we know we’re good at. Go give yourself a little ego boost and rock it out.

Treat Yo’Self. Even if you just treat yourself to a new pair of cute sweatpants or a box of heart shaped chocolates or the newest Saturday night Hallmark channel movie. Give yourself permission to do something a little indulgent.

So let's finish the month of love with worthy love, the kind that builds us and those around us up... and what better place to start than within!

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A More Traditional #TransformationTuesday

December 8 (left) vs. January 26 (right) It's been 7 weeks since I posted Progress Not Perfection (and it still doesn't look like I've cleaned my mirror ?).

That means this is progress even through the holidays. Christmas, New Years, snow days... And other than committing to a non-negotiable daily yoga practice (some days this is just meditation) I have not done a single thing differently than I was 7 weeks ago.  No crazy diets. Hell, no diet at all! No deprivation. No detoxes. (Though to be honest I probably need a sugar detox... Not for my waistline, but for my insides. I'm feeling sluggish the way I do when my sweet tooth needs to take a back seat for a while.)

But this tells me that this lifestyle works for me!

I don't count the days until I'm allowed to eat whatever I want again. Could I "tighten up" my diet to "tighten up" faster? Sure. But it won't work as well in the long run.  Quick fixes usually mean a quick return to whatever weight/shape you were when you go back to "normal."  If you make this your normal you can't lose.  Nothing works as well as consistency.

This IS a lifestyle. THIS is my normal.  And THIS is the result.

P.S.  This is also why I strongly encourage my clients to take pictures!  I wear leggings for a living and my ring is a size 3 3/4 so I don't really notice the change in my clothes or rings very often.  I assumed there wouldn't be any difference in these pictures (I actually thought I would've looked bigger), but sometimes you really can't tell where you were and where you are without the side by side comparison.  

 

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Part III: Resolutions

Happy healthy holidays

If you missed Part I or Part II, check them out and then jump in here.

As some of you know, I start a 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training in a week and a half.  (You can read about that HERE if you're interested.)  Before we meet for the first time, we are required to read The Bhagavad Gita.  In it, there is a verse that reads:

You have the right to work, but never to the fruit of work.

In short, we have control over our work and actions, but we have no command over our results.

A bodybuilder can be completely dedicated to her diet and exercise, but still not place in a competition.  You can put in long hours in the office and produce excellent work, but still not get the promotion you were working for.

That's why we don't want to put the destination above the journey!  When you fall in love with the process, you'll find results.

Did you decide what it is you want in 2016?  What do you want your future-self to be like next year?  We may not be able to control the outcome, but we can help influence that outcome by answering these five questions:

  1. What is my desired outcome?
  2. What can I DO to make progress?
  3. What will help me be consistent?
  4. What obstacles will I face?
  5. Who will support me?

A-ha!  Kinda sounds like we're setting a goal and making a plan, huh?  So get to it!

And when you stumble -- because you will... we all do -- just picture that fabulous, future-self looking back on her year with the accomplished smile of someone who went after what she wanted with her whole heart and setting even bigger goals for 2017 because she knows she can.

Happy New Year, friends!

xoxo

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Part II: Resolutions

Happy healthy holidays Yesterday I told you that as long as you promised not to make this year’s resolution all or nothing, I would teach you how to set SMART goals and we would talk about the steps to take in order to reach them.

SMART goals are: Specific Measureable Attainable Relevant Time-bound

(Get it… they spell smart!)

The point is to take vague, hard-to-reach ideas (like “I want to be in better shape”) and turn them into realistic objectives (like “I want to be able to squat x-amount and run a mile in under x-minutes).

You may already have a goal in mind.

I want to run a marathon!  

This is going to be the year I get six pack abs! 

But before you set your SMART goal in stone, I want you to ask yourself a simple question:  Why?

WHY do you want to run a marathon? (Is it because you love running or because the runners you see look fit?WHY do you want to lose weight? (Is it because you think leaner = happier? It usually doesn't.)

Determining your "why" can help you nail down what it is you actually want.

{To be clear, both of those goals are perfectly fine, but I want you to set them for the right reasons.  And remember... looking healthy and being healthy aren't always the same thing.}

Ready for a little holiday homework?

Imagine your fabulous, future-self a whole year later getting ready for 2017. How does she feel?  What does the space around her look like?  What are her hobbies?  What kind of relationships does she have?  You get the idea!  Write these things down and determine what it is you want this year. {Hint: these don't have to be fitness related!}

Need some accountability?  Put it out there!  Tell me what you're going after this year in the comments!

Then check back tomorrow for the final part of the Resolution series where we talk about ways to influence outcomes in the most positive way!

 

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Part I: Resolutions

Happy healthy holidays With only days left in 2015, I'm sure many of you have started thinking about New Year's resolutions and all the things you hope to accomplish in 2016.

Can I tell you a secret? I kinda wish you wouldn't...

Look, setting goals is important.  Goals give you long-term vision and short-term motivation and those are great things!  The problem with goal setting is that it often puts the destination above the journey and – especially in the health and fitness world – there is no destination. Consistency is the key!

You can eat steamed chicken and broccoli and hit the gym everyday until you have a six-pack, but as soon as you give that up (because let’s face it, that’s not sustainable) then it’s back to square one.

In order to be truly successful in the long run, you have to adopt this as a lifestyle.

But you know the old saying, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."  So make a plan!

That doesn’t mean your plan needs to be "follow a strict diet and schedule."  In fact, when we make plans and forget to build in flexibility, we fail because we weren’t really prepared.  So plan for what you will do when you travel.  Plan for the days when you get stuck working late.  Plan for an injury that would keep you from doing certain exercises.  Plan for any issues you think may get in your way.  Plan on giving yourself some wiggle room when friends or family come to town or you go on vacation.  Know your plan and know how to put it into action when you need it.  That is structure with flexibility.  That is how you make this a lifestyle.

So as long as you promise not to make this year’s resolution all or nothing, tomorrow I’ll teach you how to set SMART goals and the steps to take to reach them.

 

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Travel Tips From My Dad

I’ve been making road trips since I was only months old. As a baby my parents would pack me up and drive the hour or so to New York to make sure I saw family who didn’t live in the same town. Sometimes we stayed the whole weekend. Sometimes it was just for Sunday dinner. Every Palm Sunday. Every Christmas Eve. For years I’d be willing to bet I was in the car more often than I was home.

Then I got older, went to college (in New York only minutes from the family I was always traveling to see), met a boy… and spent every other weekend traveling to West Virginia. Doh!

Seriously... always in the car.

After we moved to Richmond together those road trips turned into 4-6 hour drives (one lucky time it was 10, but that’s a story for another day) each way just to visit family. Seven years of that and I’m pretty sure you can call me a pro now.

So today I am going to share my absolute favorite road trip tips with you! But before I do, I’d like you to know that these all came from years of traveling with my dad whose birthday is today.

Happy Birthday, Dad! I learned everything I know from you.

“Did you grab enough water?”

Unless you packed the entire case – or at least half – of water bottles, the answer is no. OK that’s an exaggeration, but my dad always grabs one for the way there and one for the way home… for each person in the car. For a one hour trip.

I used to think this was overkill until I realized that aiming to drink both bottles of water before getting home helped me to feel so much better! Dehydration can cause fatigue, headaches, and digestive problems to name a few. Not exactly how you want to feel while stuck in a car. And bonus: properly hydrating before meals can help you feel fuller longer so you might not overeat all the amazing food that’s waiting for you. How often do you forget to hydrate while you’re traveling or even just busy? Just pack the whole damn case and drink the water.

“What snacks did you pack?”

I know everyone thinks the word “hangry” was invented because of him or her, but it wasn’t. It was created after my father and me. Have you ever been hungry, stuck in the middle of the Verrazano Bridge on the way to dinner, in sideways rain, in standstill traffic, at least an hour from food? We have. It wasn’t pretty.

Now we bring snacks. Protein bars. Apples. Bananas. Nuts. Pack light and nutritious snacks that won’t keep you from enjoying all the amazing food that’s waiting for you, but will keep you from yelling like lunatics at each other because you’re hungry.

“I want to listen to The Little Mermaid!”

Remember this bad boy?

Way before cars had TVs built into the backs of headrests, I was a little girl who loved The Little Mermaid. I LOVED The Little Mermaid. Like, watch it on a loop all day long, loved The Little Mermaid. So before we took a trip from New Jersey to North Carolina, my father wired the VHS to the stereo to make a cassette tape (do people even know what these things are anymore?) so that I could LISTEN to my movie while we drove. It worked so well he did that for all my Disney movies.

Life is SO much easier for you now. Grab a book on tape (Audible is awesome) or make a rockin’ playlist so you don’t have to talk to anyone else in the car. (I’m kidding! But really… if you’re driving and you want everyone else to fall asleep put an AM radio broadcast of a baseball game on. ZzZzZzZz)

 

“What’s Up?”

Sometimes traffic sucks. Sometimes the trips are longer than you want them to be. Sometimes you’re tired. Sometimes you’re mad. Sometimes in the middle of it all you wish you had just stayed home. But there’s never a better time to just catch up and chat with the people you love (or are stuck in the car with). So ask them how it’s going. Sing. Laugh. Be. And hope that when you get where you’re going there’s good food and good company.

Happy birthday, Daddy!

© Amanda Reed Photography

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Sweet Potato Pancakes

Can you tell how much I love sweet potatoes?  I feel like every recipe I've posted lately has had sweet potato in them.  But can you blame me when you can do SO much with them and they're in season?  (Pro Tip: Buying fresh foods in season can often times save you BIG especially if you buy them at a local farmers market.  Eating well doesn't have to be expensive!) If you're not a big sweet potato fan don't bail on me just yet!  These taste more like cinnamon apple than sweet potato so give them a try!

This recipe was adapted from a PaleoBetty recipe with help from a fit friend.  This version isn't paleo, but if you'd like the original you can find it HERE.

Sweet Potato Pancake Ingredients

✔15oz sweet potatoes ✔1/2c coconut flour ✔2 tsp. cinnamon (separated) ✔1 tsp. baking powder ✔1 tsp. salt ✔2 TBSP ground flaxseed ✔1 TBSP agave nectar ✔4 large eggs ✔2 egg whites ✔1 tsp. vanilla extract ✔2 Granny Smith (or whatever you have in the house) apples ✔1/2c or less Unsweetened Almond and/or Coconut Milk (I used the Silk mix of both) ✔Coconut Oil or butter

1. Peel sweet potatoes and chop into 1″ cubes. Place in a pot of boiling water with a half Tbs. of sea salt and bowl until soft (~15 minutes). Drain.

2. While sweet potatoes are cooking, peel apple and dice into small pieces. Sauté over medium heat with butter and cinnamon until softened. Set aside.

Cinnamon Apples

3. Combine coconut flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Whisk well to combine, and set aside.

(Here’s where I stray from her recipe.)

4. Puree cooked sweet potatoes and apples in food processor until smooth. Add eggs, vanilla, and agave nectar to mix and pulse.

5. Add dry ingredients to apple and sweet potato mixture and combine (PaleoBetty says this mixture should be runny, but mine was super thick so I added Unsweetened Coconut/Almond milk to thin it out. Yours may only need a splash or none at all).

Pancake Batter

6. Heat a griddle and melt your coconut oil or butter

7. Fry up individual pancakes, flipping when the edges are dry/cooked and you see air bubbles releasing through the tops. Just like “regular” pancakes.

Sweet Potato Pancakes

8. Test them! Feel free to add more cinnamon if you love it or even a dash of nutmeg if you’re feeling crazy ?

I like to eat them cold the next day while I’m running out the door, but my husband likes them with butter and syrup fresh off the griddle.

If you make them, let me know what you think!

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Progress Not Perfection

This is a hard picture to share – not because I’m unhappy with the way my body looks now, but because I’m afraid of how you are going to react to the difference.Deep Breath The picture on the left was taken May 2014 – a few months before I found out I was pregnant, teaching a full class load, and with plenty of time for my own workouts. The picture on the right was taken last week – 7 months post partum – after I stepped on the scale, realized I was about 5 pounds lighter than I was last May, and was curious what the side-by-side comparison would look like.

For the record… neither picture is filtered. (And please excuse my filthy mirror.)

I know I haven’t been eating or exercising for fat loss. Yes, I’ve lost weight, but I’ve also lost muscle and I haven’t lost a lot of fat. Instead I’ve been eating well enough to sustain me and feed my baby and choosing workouts that would help keep stress at bay. Basically… lots of carbs and yoga.

And let me be clear… there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. You can’t always be in hardcore, fat-loss mode.

But when I put these pictures side-by-side three things happened:

  1. I felt disappointed. I knew I don’t look like that first picture right now, but I’ve been happy with my body. It’s still strong (do you know how much a 7 month old plus the car seat weighs?), it’s still healthy, and I don’t frown when I look in the mirror (except maybe at the dark circles under my eyes). But when I put my pasty, 7-month post partum, December body next to my tan, childfree, May body… well damn.
  2. I worried. I’m a fitness professional in the #fitmom #transformationtuesday #imbetterthanyou (OK that last one isn’t real) age. I was devastated (no that isn’t an exaggeration) when I wasn’t back to my pre-pregnancy weight by 6 weeks. From the pictures “fit” people post online I was fully expecting to “have my body back” before my 5-week postpartum check up. Seven months later I’m still not there. Who’s going to take me seriously as a fitness professional if I don’t have perfectly toned arms and six-pack abs?
  3. I felt stupid. I showed the picture to my husband and (god bless him) he asked what the difference was besides the tan. We’re always our worst critics aren’t we? I’m constantly preaching to my clients, “Progress not perfection.” Perfection doesn’t exist in real life – at least not the “perfection” in pictures. Take away the filters, take away the contorted poses, change the light and there are the flaws. Flaws are what make us human. Flaws are what make us perfect to those who love us. I am so proud of my body – flaws and all – and I refuse to let a side-by-side comparison of pictures taken a year and a half apart, that doesn’t show the 9 months of my growing belly, and the seven months of my shrinking sides, to ruin that love.

This body did THIS! What's not to be proud of?

Here I am a week later, still unsure if I want to post this picture because it’s scary and I don’t know what you’re going to think. I don’t have a six-pack (I clearly didn’t pre-baby either). I don’t eat gluten free. I really like chocolate. Is anyone going to take my seriously ever again if I post this?

But I’ve spent all last week repeating these two mantras:

I am SO proud of my body.

Progress not perfection.

 

And they’ve stuck. I AM so proud of my body. I’m not perfect, but it gets better every day.

So I challenge you to adopt one of these mantras this week. Or find one that resonates with you and say it loud, say it proud.

Say it quietly in the mirror.

Say it in your head.

Say it anytime you doubt yourself.

Say it even if you don’t believe it in that moment.

Because I am so proud of you. And your progress is perfection.

 

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Magic Taco Seasoning

OK so it's not really magic, but it feels like it for how quickly it allows me to whip up a flavorful dinner with plenty of leftovers for lunch. This is how the recipe started, but to be honest now I just eyeball it.

✔1 TBSP Chili Powder ✔1/2 TBSP Paprika ✔1/4 tsp Onion Powder ✔1/4 tsp Garlic Powder ✔1/4 tsp Oregano ✔1/2 tsp Cumin ✔1 tsp Salt ✔1 tsp Black Pepper ✔Ground Cayenne Pepper to taste

This mixture is good for one pound of your meat of choice {we use ground turkey most often} or meat substitute.  The best part is that you can do practically ANYTHING with this and there are almost always leftovers in our house especially when I add black beans for more volume.

ground turkey

Here's a sneak peak at one of my favorite meals made with this seasoning.

Stuffed Sweet Potato 

  1. Bake medium sweet potato at 400 degrees until soft (approx. 1 hour)
  2. Brown ground turkey, drain, add seasoning and water, let sit and thicken on low
  3. Stuff your sweet potato with turkey and desired toppings (my favorites are lettuce, salsa, plan greek yogurt, shredded cheese, and avocado)

 

Stuffed Sweet Potato

 

That's it!  Three steps to a delicious, healthy dinner

If the rest of your family isn't interested in a stuffed sweet potato, then grab a whole grain wrap and make them soft tacos!  The hard work is already done.

Have you ever had something like this?  Tell me about your favorite toppings and don't forget to check out my Facebook page this week to see how I use the leftovers.

 

 

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