Monday, January 20, 2014

Let the half marathon training commence!

Last week I finished P90X (review to come later), so I'm back to running! My school schedule this semester works perfectly with my running schedule, so I'm happy to say that I'm starting to train for my half marathon. I'm determined to actually run one this year, since last year an injured knee kept that from happening. My knee is back to feeling normal, and I'm going to make sure I keep up on strengthening and stretching my leg, so I have my fingers double triple crossed that I'll make it to the race in May.

This morning I headed out early for a relatively easy 3 miles, and it felt great! It was about 30 degrees outside, so it was a little chilly, but not too bad. I actually prefer to run in the cold versus the heat, so it was perfect.

As much as I've enjoyed doing P90X, especially since I get to work out without going outside, there's just something about running that clears my head and refreshes me like no other workout. I'm so excited to get back into it and smash one of my goals in the process!

I don't really have any "Motivation Monday" post today, but here's my little plug for running: DO IT! If you are physically able to run and you haven't tried before, just put on a pair of closed-toed shoes of some sort and go for a little run. I totally get that running isn't for anyone, and some people absolutely hate it, but if you haven't ever tried it before I reeeeeally suggest you do! You will reap both the mental and physical benefits.

Have a lovely day!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Motivation Monday: Be Good to Yourself

Happy Monday, everyone!

It feels like an eternity since I've done one of these posts, but I happen to quite enjoy them, so I'm going to do one again! Before I jump into the motivation stuff, I just wanted to say that I started another blog in addition to this one! Click HERE to go check it out! I hope to continue posting on this blog, since my other one is mostly where I write lots and lots about various things in life, unrelated to health and fitness. Sooo yeah, go take a look! :)

Okay, back to some motivation!

The best thoughts happen in the shower, right? No? At any rate, I was trying to think up different messages this morning in the shower for a "Motivation Monday" post, and this happened to come to me.

Be good to yourself.

The health and fitness world is incredibly focused on being better and faster and stronger, which results in a lot of comparison. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing entirely wrong with the health and fitness world - I think that all the encouragement and information that gets thrown at people can be very good and motivating and useful. I just think that it's important to make sure that comparison doesn't take over your life.

It's okay if you don't do every single thing on every single "20 tips to be (fill in the blank - faster, skinnier, whatever)" lists. Trust me, it's okay. It's human to struggle and not be top-notch at everything.

Don't beat yourself up for being human. Instead, celebrate the successes you do have, instead of your shortcomings. Celebrate the little improvements in your life. Focus on the good. Celebrate the fact that you got yourself to workout 4 days last week, instead of 2, or none at all. Celebrate the fact that you ate 4 servings of vegetables yesterday. Set small goals to change one little thing at a time and then feel darn awesome when you meet those goals.

Along with being good to yourself by focusing on the positive, be good to yourself by taking time for yourself. Take a nap once in a while. Treat yourself to some dessert. Make time to do something that you love but don't always have time for. You don't have to be work, work, work, go, go, go, healthy, healthy, healthy 100% of the time. There should be moderation in all things, and you will be better off if you take a break once in a while. I promise!

I hope you have a wonderful day!

What is your favorite thing to do to take time for yourself?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Motivation Post Roundup + Looking Forward to 2014

Happy New Year!

I started off my day with a nice run with my family along the river (if you're familiar with the Boise, Idaho area, we ran along the Eagle section of the greenbelt, by Merrill Park). That section of the Boise river is so pretty, especially in the wintertime when everything is frosted over. Since I was running with other people, I went music-less, which I don't often do. I rarely go running without some kind of music playing in my ear. If I run without music in the neighborhoods, I tend to get bored, but boredom isn't really a problem when I'm running somewhere scenic and different than the usual. Going without music today turned out to be incredibly refreshing. For part of the run I actually ended up running separately from the rest of my family, and it felt amazing to just run through the chilly winter air, by myself amid the bare trees, and let my thoughts flow freely. I loved the time I ran with my family as well, but I really enjoyed the experience of running by myself too. It was a great way to start off the new year!

The beginning of the new year often gets a bad rap, and resolutions (particularly health and fitness ones) tend to be scoffed at. My personal take on it is that resolutions aren't bad, but unattainable ones are. If you set small, measurable goals for yourself, instead of setting out to completely change every aspect of your lifestyle at the same time, you're much more likely to be successful.

I've been off-and-on about making resolutions in the past, but this year I have come up with a couple health-related goals for myself. I made some other, non-health-related resolutions too, which you can check out here, but these are my health-related ones:

1. Run a half marathon. I am determined to finally do it! It's been something I've wanted to do for over a year, but injury and daylight savings has continually thwarted my efforts. I'm going to do my best to actually check this one off in 2014!

2. Eat at least 3 servings of vegetables per day. This one is going to be difficult, I'm not going to lie. I challenged myself to this for a three-month time period last year, and it was hard. I did find, though, that when I was working on that challenge, I ate a lot better overall, since fitting in those three servings left less room for the less-healthy food. Lately I've been eating a lot of processed food (things like protein bars and other granola bars) and I want to do better at eating more naturally. Protein bars are awesome, but I'd just like to eat things with smaller ingredient lists that haven't been processed quite as much. For me, setting a goal to eat at least three servings of veggies with help me avoid the unhealthy food and not eat as much of the healthier processed food. I'm going to do my best with this resolution, but I'm not going to freak out if I only eat one or two servings in a day occasionally.

I wish you all a very healthy and happy 2014! If your resolutions are health-related, here's a roundup of posts related to healthy lifestyle tips and motivation. Even if your goals aren't directly health-related, a lot of it still applies. If you are looking for some easy, healthy recipes to start off your year, check out the "Recipes" tab right below the blog header for a compiled list of my recipes. Enjoy!

Motivation Monday: Healthiness is a Journey
Choose to Live Actively
A Notebook and a Pen
Motivation Monday: You Sacrifice for What You Love
Motivation Monday: Just Because You're Not Sick, It Doesn't Mean You're Healthy
Eating Healthy On a Budget: 9 Tips
Motivation Monday: Getting Away From the Physical
Motivation Monday: Pinterest Motivation
Motivation Monday: Write a Mission Statement
Motivation Monday: General Tidbits About Embracing Life

What are your New Years resolutions?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Broccoli Chicken Stir Fry

It seems like I have lots of stir fry dinners on Saturday nights! I was feeling like some more vegetables, so Saturday night became a stir fry night again! I guess I'm calling this a stir fry recipe, but what exactly constitutes a stir fry?

Regardless of what the correct name for this recipe is, it's super easy and tastes great! I think I say that every recipe of mine is super easy, but really, I don't ever make anything complicated. I don't think eating healthy has to necessarily involve huge ingredient lists or tricky instructions...just focus on eating fruits and vegetables and reasonable amounts of lean protein and you'll be fine. 

Anyway, enjoy this simple stir fry (or whatever it is)!

1/2 boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1" pieces
1 broccoli head, chopped up into small florets
1/3 C chopped red onion
1/3 C canned pineapple chunks
1 T Asian Toasted Sesame dressing
salt and pepper to taste
chopped peanuts (optional)

1. Steam broccoli until it's almost all the way cooked.

2. Cook chicken with red onion in a medium-sized skillet.

3. Add broccoli to chicken and onion when chicken is mostly cooked.

4. Add pineapple.

5. Add dressing and mix everything together.

6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

7. If you want, top with chopped peanuts.

And after eating up this nice and healthy dinner, my sister and I proceeded to eat a large amount of Lindor chocolates. Ah well, balance is key!

I hope you have a wonderful day!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sunday Meal Prep

Yesterday I was feeling ambitious and decided to pre-make some meals for this week. Okay, not every single meal, but I got a head-start on my lunches, which tends to be the meal I throw together last-minute every day. 

I chopped up a head of green leaf lettuce and cooked a couple chicken breasts and added it to some onion, mushrooms, carrots, feta cheese, almond slivers, and part of a Good Seasons dry Italian dressing packet. The dry dressing mix is great because it adds some flavor without me having to worry about packing a separate container for dressing to add to my salad during lunchtime. I also chopped up a couple of Roma tomatoes, but I won't add those in until the mornings when I actually pack my lunch, so there's not as much moisture hanging out in my salad making my lettuce soggy. 

Along with the salad, I cut up an apple and a banana to go along with my breakfast this morning. 

I also blended up the dry mix for my morning protein shake. I mixed up 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder, a teaspoon or so of cinnamon, and a teaspoon or so of dry butterscotch pudding mix. This morning I added some milk to it and shook it up before drinking it.

For me, preparing ahead for the upcoming week is somewhat hit-and-miss. I'd really like to be one of those people who makes almost everything for the week on a prep day, so eventually I'll get to that point. Until then, I'm happy that I at least did something! 

I hope you have a fantastic week this week!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Go-To Breakfast

All summer long I loved drinking a smoothie for breakfast. It was relatively easy to throw ingredients in a blender and my smoothies usually tasted great. I had time to chop up fruits and time to clean the blender. Since school started, I don't think I've made more than one or two smoothies for breakfast, mainly because I don't have as much time anymore to spend prepping or cleaning with the smoothie process. Excuses, excuses, I know! Along with practicality issues, I'm also just not in the mood for a smoothie since it's gotten colder here. Instead of an ice-cold drink for breakfast, I want something warm and comforting for those chilly mornings when I'm making breakfast at 6:30. So lately I've been gravitating toward oatmeal! 

Oatmeal is super-fast to make. Just put some oats in a bowl with some liquid and microwave for 90 seconds or so and you have a bowl of warm, creamy goodness. 

I used to think that oatmeal was bland and gross, but then I started playing around with different add-ins that take the flavor up about ten notches. Lately I've become obsessed with almond butter (just like every other healthy living blogger out there), so that's been the flavor base of my oatmeal. Here's the recipe for this morning's breakfast:

-2/3 C rolled oats
-1 C almond milk
-2 spoonfuls almond butter (probably about 3-4 tsp)
-1 Tbsp brown sugar
-1 tsp mapleine
-1 Stevia packet 

Combine all ingredients, microwave, stir up a little, and enjoy!

Do you have a favorite add-in for your oatmeal? 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Simple Sweet Potato Wrap

Yesterday started out great when I actually got to sleep in! It seems like this entire fall I've had things going on almost every Saturday morning, so I haven't gotten the chance to sleep in very much. For me, sleeping in is at its best when I don't have anything to set an alarm for, and I'm able to wake up whenever my body pleases. So yesterday was quite nice!

After waking up, I went for a little 4-mile run on the Eagle section of the Boise greenbelt. If you're ever in the area, I highly recommend going for a run or even a walk on it, especially during the fall. This part of the greenbelt isn't really paved, so it feels somewhat like trail running. Right now the changing leaves on the trees are beautiful.

I've been doing P90X for the past few weeks, which I intend to keep doing, but I'd like to start incorporating some more runs into my workout schedule. I realized this week that I really miss running! Since daylight savings happened, it's not really an option for me to run most evenings, since it's already dark by the time I'm done teaching piano. Luckily, I do have a couple days in the week that I can fit a run in, so I'm going to start doing that more. I'm really enjoying the strength aspect of P90X, but I miss running as my form of cardio.

By the time I got back from my run, it was lunchtime, so I threw together some vegetables put them in a wheat tortilla. It turned out pretty well! Here's the recipe:

1 medium sweet potato
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/4 C red onion
1 large carrot,chopped
3 T corn
1-2 T garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
grated parmesan cheese

1. Peel sweet potato and chop into medium-sized pieces
2. Put chopped sweet potato into a tupperware with a little bit of water and steam in the microwave for about 2 minutes, or until somewhat soft (they don't need to be totally cooked at this point)
3. After sweet potato is done, steam chopped carrot as well (same as the sweet potatoes, they don't need to be totally cooked - this just speeds up the cooking process)
4. Spray a medium-sized skillet with non-stick spray and put on the stove on medium to high heat
5. Add vegetables, garlic powder, salt and pepper and saute for 5-10 minutes or until sweet potatoes and carrots are as soft as you would like them

6. Serve in a whole-wheat tortilla and top with parmesan cheese. Wrap your tortilla up however you choose!

Makes enough to fill 2 tortillas

I think that overall it doesn't matter a ton how you combine vegetables. Sure, some combinations taste better than others, but you're pretty safe in cooking and serving a bunch of vegetables together. My go-to quick lunch or dinner usually involves some combination of veggies thrown together in a pan with some seasonings, and it usually turns out decently!

What is your favorite combination of vegetable to eat?