Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Recipe of the Week: Ultimate Reset Quinoa Lentil Pilaf

I started the Ultimate Reset last Monday and am rocking and rolling the detox phase also known as Phase 2. 

I'm working on a post about my thoughts on it and how I've been feeling but I am going to start posting a Recipe of the Week each week to share the recipes I've come across in my travels on my way to getting healthier every day. 

This one was absolutely delicious.  I will absolutely make it again even when I'm not doing the reset.  It was filling and delicious.  I paired it with some roasted asparagus with a drizzle of lemon.  Pretty quick to make and prep only took about 10 minutes once the quinoa and Lentils were cooked.

Ultimate Reset Quinoa Lentil Pilaf

Makes 3 Servings
  • 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 medium stalk celery, diced
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 tsp ground smoked paprika
  • 1 dash group cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 3 cup cooked quinoa (2 cups water, 1 cup of Quinoa
  • 1/2 cup cooked lentils (1.75:1 lentils to water ratio)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley

Cooking Instructions:

Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.

Add carrot, celery, onion, bell pepper, paprika, cumin, and turmeric; cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes or until tender.

Add quinoa, lentils, lemon peel, lemon juice, and parsley to cooked vegetables; heat over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until heated through.

Fluff with fork and serve.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Body Image is a State of Mind

I called this post "Body Image is a State of Mind."  I find that a lot of people need a reminder of this.  Body Image is a State of Mind.  Body Image is NOT reality.  Body Image is NOT how other people see you, it's how you see yourself.  In today's day and age, I can almost guarantee that the way you see yourself is not how other people see you.  Your version is anywhere from a little bit worse to much worse.  Why do we insist on beating ourselves up for the way we think we look?  Why can't we go out of our way to tell people what we like about ourselves as often as we are to tell them what we don't like, or hate even?  Why is it so hard to just smile, and say a simple "thank you," without explaining why we don't agree?

Sorry for my small vent but as a mom of 2 small daughters, the idea of negative body image scares me.  Will my girls have positive body image or negative body image?  I tell them all the time that they're beautiful and I know they believe me now but how long will that last?  I always wonder what I can do to try to make sure that they're confidence and positive body image last.  My 5 year old (almost 6) often doesn't even think to get dressed.  She just walks out of the shower and takes her sweet time getting dressed right in the living room.  She's not in the least bit ashamed (nor, should she be).  She's not thinking about how quickly she needs to cover up and hide like so many of us do.  I always wonder how long that will last and why so many grown women can't feel that way.

I've recently lost weight and through doing that realized that a positive body image is so important.  I didn't realize how negative my body image was but then I took some time and turned it around.  You can make a negative body image into a positive one.  I'm going to share a few things I've discovered in doing this for myself.

1.  If you think you dislike or hate your body so much, then change it.  This is what I did.  I kept coming up with reasons why I wouldn't be able to make a change at first but then I found a program that really worked for me.  You have to keep looking.  Chances are the first thing you try won't be your best fit but if you keep looking, you're guaranteed to find a healthy way to make it happen.  The key word here is healthy.  You want it to be sustainable... crash diets, fad diets, and unhealthy ways of dropping weight fast don't work long term.  They might work for a month or two but I promise, you won't keep the weight off.  I've tried tons of these and none of them really stuck.  The only time I found something that I absolutely know  is going to work long term was when I went for a true lifestyle change.  I know you hear about that all the time and I know it seem SO overwhelming but just start with today, and then tomorrow, and then the day after.  It's like a form of recovery, you need to just take it one day at a time.

2.  Stop obsessing over what you don't like about yourself.  I have news for you and you might not like it much, but nonetheless it's truth...  what you look like has A LOT to do with genetics and a little to do with food.  You can obsess about the things you cannot change because of genetics, or you can accept the things you can and change them. 

I have 2 kids, I have stretch marks, I have great arms, I have big thighs, I have a big butt, I have an awesome smile and I have a contagious laugh.  Do you read this list and think I listed anything negative?  I don't.  I've stated a list of facts.  I've worked hard on cleaning up my diet and exercising almost every day.  As a result all of me has gotten noticeably smaller but I still have big thighs compared to the rest of my body.  It's okay!!  Curves are okay so please stop worrying if you have them. 

There are lots of things you can't change, but what you can do is get healthy.  If you start eating healthier and do it for the sake of being healthier, the weight will follow.  I've worked hard for my body.  It didn't come easy.  That makes me proud.  Sure, I'll show before and after pictures of my journey and sure, I'll look less confident in the before pictures and probably be smiling more in the after pictures but that's because I know how hard I worked and others do too.
3.  Start obsessing over what you do like about yourself.  There has to be something and if there really isn't anything, then pick something you're okay with for now and tell yourself you love it.  Fake it till you make it.  I love my arms.  Seriously, I catch myself looking in the mirror and flexing or holding them in different ways to see which angle is the most flattering.  What the heck is wrong with liking your body?  Why does it seem like people think you're conceited or self involved if you love your body?  When you love your body, you will treat it with the respect it deserves.  That doesn't mean you don't want to change, you can want to change because there's always room for improvement.  Wanting to get an education is a good thing.  People graduate elementary school and go onto middle school and onto high school and then onto college.  Try considering your body as you would a degree.  It's all about the end result that shows that you worked hard and achieved a goal.
4.  Stop comparing yourself to models in magazines.  When you look in a catalogue, those clothes probably won't fit you the way it fits those girls even if you're a size zero.  Those girls have probably been airbrushed, stretched, modified, and a million other things.  It seems we may not be able to change society or how magazines view beauty but those pictures are not how those girls look in real life.  I can't take credit for the image to the right.  I didn't take it and I'm not sure who did but it was linked to a YouTube video on photo editing software.  You've all seen the before and after air brush pics so why are we still stuck thinking "that won't look as good as it does on me as it does on her."  You're right, it probably won't.  That's okay!  Love the skin you're in.  Just think of how those airbrushed models in the magazines and actresses in movies must feel, being as skinny as they are and someone still thinking they need to be improved.  Don't fall into the trap! 
5.  Find flattering clothes and hold your head high.  This one can feel tricky.  When I was at my heaviest, I didn't feel very pretty.  It was very discouraging to try on clothes because I hated the size I was in.  It shouldn't have mattered as much as it did, but it did anyway.  Then I learned that the size really didn't matter but clothes that really fit, made me look a lot better.  Trying to fit into a size 12 when I was actually a size 14 or 16 didn't do me any good, it made me look heavier and feel worse.  If you need to make yourself feel better, then cut the tag out and don't tell anyone your size (yup, did that) but buy clothes that fit and that flatter your shape and you'll feel better about yourself.
I'm going to share something with you that I do.  Maybe you'll think I'm crazy but I don't care, it works for me and has for a long time.  I have a mirror in my room.  I didn't mount it on the wall.  Instead, I have it leaning on the wall.  If you've been to a fun house or a physics class, you know that mirror angles distort images.  What does this angle do?  It makes me a little taller and a little skinnier.  I don't walk out of the house thinking I'm 5'9" (I'm 5'4") but this is the last full image of myself I see before I decide what I'm wearing for the day.  As far as I'm concerned, it's what I look like.  My husband has asked if he should hang it on the wall for me and I always laugh and tell him not to because he'd put at least 25 pounds on me. 
Who cares what tricks you have to make you feel a little better about yourself or how you look.  They don't hurt anyone.  This mirror trick seems so silly, even to me but it gives me a more positive body image and a little boost of confidence as I'm walking out the door.  Let me know if you try it too!
Please feel free to share any tips or tricks you might use to improve your body image below.  Also, don't forget, I always have new accountability groups starting.  I'd love to help you find your soulmate program like I did.  Click here to fill out my online application and be considered by my next group. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Creating a Vision of Success and a Gratitude Journal

Do you have any goals in your life that scare you?  Do you have anything that you want in your life so badly but it seems like such an impossibility, that you won't really even spend time thinking about it?

It's great to have goals.  It's an amazing feeling to know that at some point in your life, you decided you wanted something, and you got it.  Not by luck, not by some good fortune, but by digging in your heals and not giving up until you got there.  Setting goals should absolutely be part of your life.  The bigger the goal, the harder it is to achieve, the sweeter the victory you will feel when it's yours.  I'm not saying if you ever reach it.  I'm saying when it's yours.  In this article, I'm going to help you get it.

Goals can be scary.  Goals should be scary.  Have you ever set a goal for yourself, reached that goal, and knew you could've aimed higher or that you could've done better?  Somehow reaching the goal that was really in your reach doesn't feel as gratifying when you get there as the goal that you really need to work for.  I'm constantly setting goals and then re-evaluating them to make them a little more realistic in a particular time frame.  Do you have any goals for greatness?  Something that will push you for days, week, months, or even years?  Maybe it's a health or fitness goal.  Maybe it's a goal for success.  I'm going to share a secret with you that I've been doing recently that REALLY works.  I've heard about it from so many super successful people and always thought it was some quacked out version of reality that only the rich and famous could sign up for but I've been seeing more and more that it is actually reality.  The secret I'm about to tell you about is called Visualization.

Do you ever day dream about winning the lottery?  I do that all the time.  I know who I would give money to, what I would do with it, where I would live, what I would do, where I would work, the list goes on and on.  I know a lot of people day dream about this.  They have an aggravating day at work and they run out and buy a Mega Millions ticket and begin to dream.  The thing about this dream, is you can't work towards winning the lottery.  You can keep buying tickets, and you can see yourself winning the lottery but you can also be unfortunate and get hit by lightning on the way to buying your next ticket (I think I read once that the chance of getting struck by lightning was higher then winning Mega Millions).  I'm not saying that you should stop buying tickets.  By all means, you know I have my tickets too.  What I am saying is spend time day dreaming about something that you can work towards. 

Lots of people say that they'd like to be successful.  I assure you that my success looks very different than your success.  Have you ever taken a moment to write down what it is that you want in your life?  It might be hard at first but once you lose yourself in this action, it feels amazing to see what you want down on paper.  It makes it feel somehow more real and now that it's been committed to paper and you can go back to it over time to see if you've gotten what you wanted or if you're still working towards it. 

I'd like you to do a Visualization activity now.  Grab a piece of paper and a pen.  Start by writing down these 5 things on a piece of paper; Life, Family, Health, Career, Future.  Now look at these words for a minute, and just start writing.  Allow yourself to dream for a moment.  Visualize the way you feel, the way your relationships are, the things you say to each other, the things you do, make it so vivid that you can literally smell the coffee.  Write it all down.  Don't worry about punctuation, or spelling, or grammar.  Just write.  When you're done, read what you wrote.  Does it surprise you?  Did you even know you had such a clear vision of what you wanted?  Now for the dose of reality...  are you on the path towards what you want in life?  I want you to really take the time and write down what you need to do to get there.  This is the tricky part.  This is the part that will take some creative thinking and thinking outside of the box sometimes but there are steps you know you can take to get there.  There's something you can start doing today and every day from now on that will help you reach your goals.  These things that you start doing today will lead you to the life that you want.  So write them down and start doing them every single day.

Your life is not just a free-for-all.  You are in control of your life.  You have free will and the ability to make you life better, or worse for that matter.  It may  not feel like you have free will all the time.  If you're in a dead end job that regularly sucks the life out of you, you're not going home and lining up job interviews to make it better because you're probably exhausted but you do have the ability to make it better.  Sometimes, all you need is an attitude adjustment and a realization that your situation could be worse.  Sometimes, we get so stuck in a series of complaints about our current situation that we don't take a moment and realize the opportunity that we have been presented with in what we already have.  Don't just complain or feel stuck.  You may be able to do something differently in your life, your career, or in your family and it could completely change the course that you're on.  I have found throughout my life that when I get down and out and think I'm stuck, I give myself a moment to dream about what I'd like to happen next, and that thing almost always happens.  This happens very often in my professional life.  Here's an example. 

When I wanted so badly to stay home with my daughter, my husband and I made the choice that we would sacrifice my income and I would stay home.  It was such a blessing, but money was tight.  We sacrificed a lot of the luxuries that we were used to.  I loved staying home with my daughter and knew that there was no way I wanted to start commuting back into the city, or anywhere for that matter.  I started visualizing working from home and how perfect it would be to be able to hang out with my daughter and still have an income.  I did this without even knowing that visualization was a thing.  Do you know what happened?  I got a great job bookkeeping from home.  When that job didn't seem like enough, another opportunity presented itself where I could continue working at home for twice the pay.  When I wasn't feeling fulfilled by that job anymore, another opportunity presented itself.   The list goes on and on, a constant series of doors opening before the last one closed.

When you keep your mind and heart open to opportunities, they will present themselves to you but if you see those opportunities with a big flashing no in your head, they will go away as quickly as they came.  I never say no to an opportunity.  Even if I feel content where I am, I never know what I'd be missing if I said I wasn't interested before hearing the details so I always at least take the meeting and hear what they have to say.  I can make an informed decision once I have all of the information.  I'm also proactive in seeking out opportunities.  I always say "If you don't ask, the answer is no." So if there's something in front of me that I think would be a great opportunity for me, I ask for it.  Let them tell me no instead of me doing it for them.

I want you to keep that paper that has your vision for your life in a safe spot.  Don't hide it away because I guarantee, if you find it again in month, or sign months, or a year, you'll read it again and see how you measure up.  Put it in a place that you will come across now and again.  If you ever pick it up, make adjustments towards where you want to be.  Another thing to keep in mind is opportunities will present themselves but you need to be willing to roll up your sleeves and work.  Don't just think that the most successful people just had things handed to them.  They may have, but you probably won't.  If you have a dream, you need to make it a reality.  It won't just happen on it's own.

When setting enormous goals for yourself, it can be extremely discouraging if you don't meet them when you wanted to.  You can be tempted to feel like a failure when in reality, you're just in need of a course correction.  I recently started keeping a gratitude journal to remind myself of all the things I've already accomplished and am grateful for.  Again, when I first heard about a gratitude journal, I thought it was some quacky version of reality but you know what, energy in the universe is very real.  We're all made of energy and I'm sure you've heard of karma or prayer or the Big Snooze if you've read "You are a Bad Ass" By Jen Sincero (great book by the way).  If you spend your time upset that you didn't reach a goal or complaining about your situation I promise, it won't get better.  Instead, I take some time every single day thinking of 3 things I'm grateful for.  I often post them on Facebook or Instagram with #3ThingsImGratefulFor.  Feel free to start this and use that hashtag so I can find yours.  Some days are obviously easier than others to come up with these things (today I was grateful for pizza delivery) but what I find happening is every day, I spend a lot of the day thinking of what I should write down that night.  So I may only write 3 things but I'm thinking of at least 5 if not 10 every day.  It makes you grateful for the things you already have in your life instead of focusing on those things that you don't.

I'd love to hear your goals for your life and see the 3 things you're grateful for today.  Feel free to comment below or find me on Facebook.  I'm a coach and I love checking in to see if you've reached your goal or are still working towards it.  Sometimes it's nice to know that someone is in your corner and ready to check in, I'd love to be that person for you. 

If nothing else, remember to face the day with a smile because life is all about your attitude.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

5 Tips for Getting Your Workout In When You Really Don't Want to

Hibernation season is almost here.  The clocks are changing and here comes the onset of the holiday season. So many of us feel the same way.  I know that I'm already looking forward to getting into my pajamas and snuggling under a blanket with my daughters and husband at some ridiculous hour like 5PM just because it's dark out and I'm cold.  The holidays come and I want to eat, drink, and be merry.  It's a great way to get off track and an even better reason not to get started.

I recently lost 25 pounds and I want to keep it off!  I don't want to have to start again next March because I ate too much and want to take the weight off for Summer.  I already did that this year.  I've racked my brain and came up with the tricks I've used to convince myself I like exercise.  I've used these to take the weight off and keep it off so far.  Here is my best advice to get the weight off in Fall and Winter and keep it off so you don't have to work so hard next Spring.

1.  There's no day like today.  Many of my friends in the fitness industry are bracing themselves for slow season. It doesn't have to be that way!  Instead of listing reasons why you shouldn't start, think of the reasons why you should.  You can save your fitness goals and make them New Year's resolutions or you can just start now.

How well did your last New Year's Resolution work out for you?  You know what happens if you save a fitness goal for January?  You gain 5 lbs or more between now and then waiting to get started.  Then you get to the gym the first week of January and it's too damn crowded to even get a parking spot (never mind getting a chance on the hamster wheel of a treadmill) so you are really tempted to give up the first week and start the 2nd week instead.  I'm exaggerating (a little) but I've done this before.  I used to be a personal trainer in the gym and it is not a joke when I say that in February, the gym is back to normal.  All these people, starting their year of right, gave up in a month.

Why wait?  There are still almost 3 months left of 2015.  I don't know what your goals are, but you can be closer or even at your goals in 3 months.  I lost 25 lbs in 3 months.  That's not to say that you'll do it too, but you might!  Give yourself a chance and bet on yourself!

2.  Workout at home.  Some people love the gym.  I get that.  I wish I was able to leave the stresses of home for about an hour and just do me.  I have 2 small children and a husband who works full time.  The gym is not a real option for me.  My 5 year old is way too young to leave alone at home and too old to bring to the gym day care.  She doesn't want to go.

During the day, I don't want to bring my 2 year old to the gym.  I find that the gym day care is a bit of a sick room during this season.  Young kids aren't able to tell their mommy that they're not feeling well until they have a fever (which in my experience with my own children, is usually about 5 minutes after the gym while I'm strapping them into the car seat).  So mommies bring their young kids to the gym to play without even knowing they're sick yet.  I don't want a sick baby just because I want to exercise.  My health is important to me but so is hers.  Plus, if she's sick, we're both not sleeping and then it's even harder to get my workout in.  I won't even get into what a great excuse cold and snow is to not get to the gym!

There are a million different workouts you can do at home.  You can find some of my favorites on my shop page above which all come with the added support of me as your coach (Apply for my next accountability group by clicking here if you'd like to be considered - the deadline to apply is October 12th).  Just start with something and make it into a habit.  Some of my favorite quick workouts to do from home are right on Pinterest.  Click Here for some of the ones that I've pinned and do when I need to squeeze it in.

3.  Change your program and find what makes you happy.  Recently, I was doing Max 30.  It's a very hard program and you get amazing results but I found my needs changed.

I was getting very stressed out with school starting and our schedule changing and my 2 year old got into a bad habit of waking up in the middle of the night so it became harder find the motivation to wake up early to work out so hard.  Instead of allowing myself to say I didn't want to do it and give up or keep taking too many days off, I changed my program.  Now I'm doing Piyo which is Pilates and yoga.  I absolutely love waking up in the morning and getting it in.  I even do it barefoot because it literally makes me feel more grounded.  On days that I really don't want to get up and do it, I do it at night after the kids have gone to sleep.  It's an amazing way to start or end the day.

The point is you need to listen to your body and your mind and be in tune with it.  If you're really forcing yourself to do something that you really don't want to do, it won't get easier, it will only get harder.  Don't listen to the voice that says it's too hard and you should give up, but don't feel like a failure if you stop doing something to find whatever it is that you need.  I'm not saying to change programs if you're a little sore.  Sore means it's working!  I'm saying that you need to do what will make you happy.  Maybe it's a run, maybe it's Pilates, or maybe it's taking long walks while the weather is still nice (jog would be better, try hard to break a sweat).  Whatever it is, if you turn exercise into something you look forward to, it will feel good to get it in, instead of annoying and something more to squeeze into your already way-to-short day after those darn clocks make it even shorter.

4.  You're stressed out and working out will lower your stress level.  You might not have gotten to that point yet if you're stressing about getting it in but I promise if you stick with it, it will become the thing you do to unwind.  You'll still have your wine, but there's something about the effect of exercise on your body chemistry that makes you really feel like you will have a great day (or will have a great sleep if it's a night time workout).  An additional benefit is that working out doesn't come with a hangover, although it will come with some soreness if you're doing it right.

5.  Think of the results, not the action.  If you start working out now and focusing on nutrition 80% of the time, you will be getting compliments by that holiday party that is the reason you think you're not ready to start right now.  I know the holidays are tough (I'm 100% Italian, trust me we live to eat), but when it comes down to it, is one day of bad food choices, or two, or even three over the course of the next 3 months really a good reason to wait?

I'll even go as far as to say that you should really go ahead and eat whatever you want at those parties.  Eat, drink, and be merry!  But also cherish the fact that you already worked hard to get where you have gotten by the time those parties come and you won't want to make a bad day into a bad week or a bad month.

Every day you work out and focus on your nutrition, it will get easier. The compliments you get will be an added bonus and additional motivation to keep it going.  So don't think of how much you hate exercise and how deprived of food you feel (which you really shouldn't feel if you're doing it right).  Instead, think about how amazing it will be to have someone buy you skinny jeans or a smaller pants size because yours are falling off.

The holidays are a great excuse to treat yourself to some new clothes!  Wouldn't it be amazing to really enjoy your fitting room experience and have everything fit the way it's supposed to.  I love dressing rooms now because I'm not just looking for whatever I can find that will fit me.  There's a whole store of whatever will fit me.  Now I get to choose exactly what I want because it looks good and it makes me feel good!  So go ahead and ask for those gift cards and treat yourself to a shopping session for the new you.  But you have to start today!!