February Workout Wednesday

It’s been awhile since I wrote a post about workouts. That’s partly due to my inconsistent and crazy workout schedule lately, and partly due to the fact that I didn’t know so many of you were that interested in workouts! Last week, I did a poll asking what you wanted to see more of on the blog in the next month, and I was shocked at how many of you asked for more posts about fitness. However, I’m thrilled that so many of you share my love to sweat!

I’m posting my exact workout schedule for the week below, and I’m really going to try to post these at least twice a month! That way, you have a better idea of what I’ve been up to in the gym.

As many of you know, my fitness routine is far from rigid. I work my workouts in when I can, but I don’t go off the deep end if there’s no possible way to squeeze a sweat in! I used to wake up on busy work days at 3:50am so that I could work out, shower, get ready, and be at work by 7am, and that just doesn’t happen any more. So that being said, don’t sweat it (see what I did there) if your schedule looks different than mine! This week I’m getting 5 workouts in, next week might be 7, the next week might be 3. That’s okay. This is what works for me, find what works for you.

Workout Schedule: Feb 4 – Feb 11

Sunday: Triceps
  • 15 minute staimaster warm up
  • Overhead tricep extension w/ dumbbell (3 sets of 12)
  • Bench dips (3 sets of 12)
  • Cable pushdown w/ rope attachment (3 sets of 12)
  • Skull crushers w/ barbell (3 sets of 12)
  • Single arm kickback w/ dumbbell (3 sets of 12, each arm)
  • Single arm cable pushdown (3 sets of 12, each arm)
Monday: Back & Biceps
  • 15 minute staimaster warm up
  • Bicep curl w/ barbell (3 sets of 12)
  • Seated cable rows (3 sets of 12)
  • Hammer curls w/ dumbbells (3 sets of 12, each arm)
  • Lat pulldown (3 sets of 12)
  • Single arm bicep curl on cable machine (3 sets of 12, each arm)
  • bicep curl w/ 25 lb plate (3 sets of 15)
Tuesday:
  • BBG Legs
Wednesday: Legs
  • 15 minute staimaster warm up
  • Walking lunges w/ barbell (3 sets of 24)
  • Bodyweight jump squats (3 sets of 12)
  • Plie squat w/ dumbbell (3 sets of 12)
  • Step ups w/ dumbbells (3 sets of 12, each leg)
  • Single leg lunge on bench w/ dumbbells (3 sets of 12, each leg)
  • Straight leg deadlifts w/ barbell (3 sets of 12)
    • extra burnout: bodyweight walking lunges for 4 minutes, no rest
Thursday: Shoulders
  • 15 minute staimaster warm up
  • front raise with barbell (3 sets of 12)
  • upright row w/ barbell (3 sets of 12)
  • lateral raise w/ dumbbells (3 sets of 12)
  • shoulder press w/ dumbells (3 sets of 12)
  • upright row w/ rope attachment (3 sets of 12)
  • shoulder press machine (3 sets of 12)
    • extra burnout: plank shoulder taps until failure
Friday:
Saturday:
  • STL Mardi Gras, all the walking around counts as a workout right?!

Please let me know if you try any of the workouts! I’d love to hear your thoughts, even if you hate me afterwards! I’m also working on a week’s worth of at home workouts because I know not all of you have access to a gym/love to work out at a gym, so it’s in the works! Happy hump day friends!

XO

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PBfit Blossoms

I’m sure you could figure this out within two seconds of looking at my Instagram, but for those of you who don’t know this about me, I am a peanut butter holic. To the extreme. I could eat it all day every day! It doesn’t matter what kind, what brand, chunky, smooth, salted, unsalted, literally any and every form of peanut butter, I love.  To be completely honest, sometimes when I’m brainstorming new blog content, it’s just a brainstorm session of new things I can put peanut butter on.

When Better Body Foods reached out to me to see if I would whip something up using their infamous PBfit for National Peanut Butter Day, I jumped at the opportunity. While I don’t eat a lot of PBfit in its regular form, (mixing it with water as a peanut butter substitute) it is amazing to bake with! For those of you who have never had it, it’s also great in smoothies!

I’m going to keep it short and sweet and leave you with the recipe, because that’s why you’re really here isn’t it!? These cookies are a healthier spin on the peanut butter kiss cookies we all know and love. And if you don’t, who are you?!

While I still used regular peanut butter in addition to the PBfit, the PBfit definitely helped cut down on the fat content of these guys, which is always a plus because trust me when I say, you’re not going to want to stop at one! I hope you love them! Also, just between you and me, there are no raw eggs in this dough, so if you’re in a pinch and don’t have enough time to bake them in the oven, I won’t tell 😉

Peanut Butter Blossoms
Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1.5 cups Kodiak Cakes mix (I used the crunchy peanut butter mix, but any will work!)
  • 1/2 cup PBfit (I used the regular version, but chocolate would be amazing too!)
  • 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
  • 24 Hershey kisses
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degress
  2. Cream together the peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk with a mixer
  3. Slowly add in the Kodiak Cakes mix, and the PBfit until fully combined
  4. Form dough into one inch balls and place on a baking sheet
  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes
  6. Press a Hershey Kiss into each cookie and let cool for 10 minutes
  7. Enjoy!
Macros:

As you can tell, these cookies are fairly light as opposed to the original version. They’re not exactly what I would consider a “healthy” snack, but if you need something sweet at night, or just a sugar fix every now and then, they’re an awesome alternative! And they have 5 grams of protein, so you can’t beat that!

I calculated the macros for both with and without the Hershey Kiss, because it’s definitely not absolutely necessary if you’re not a chocolate person, or just want to save a few grams of carbs/sugar.

Macros without Hershey Kiss:
  • Protein: 5g
  • Carbs: 13g
  • Fat: 5g
Macros with Hershey Kiss:
  • Protein: 5g
  • Carbs: 15g
  • Fat: 6g

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My 2018 Intentions

Hi there! I feel like it’s been awhile – I also feel like I say that every time I blog, but more on my 2018 blog intentions later! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and are off to a great start in this new year!

I realize I’m probably a week-ish late on this post, but after spending a hectic last two weeks of the year traveling, I really wanted to devote ample time after I got back home to come up with some well thought out, meaningful intentions for this new year.

My hope is that reading one of these intentions inspires you to set a new goal for this year, whether it be related to fitness, lifestyle, wellness, anything!

I’m breaking it down by category, which were laid out for me in my Lucky Life Tools Life Planner that I just recieved. I HIGHLY recommend this planner if you’re trying to be more goal oriented/organized this year, it has been a game changer for me! I’m including almost all of my 2018 intentions, (not all, because no one cares about my kindergarten teaching or financial goals!) some of which go outside the realm of health/fitness/wellness, but you voted you wanted more personal life stuff, so here goes!

Wellness (Body, Mind, Spirit, Growth)
  • Spend 10 minutes reading my daily devotional in the morning
  • Go to church twice a month
  • Be better about prayer, morning & night!
  • Less comparison, more focusing on myself and my own happiness. After typing this out, the “more focus on myself” sounds more selfish than anything, so let me explain! I will be the first to admit that I’m a “comparer”, in a lot of ways. In this day and age, Instagram unfortunatley has a lot to do with that (especially when you’re a blogger), but it’s something I’m going to really focus on this year. Less comparing my life/body/blog/relationship to someone else’s and more focusing on the ways to improve all of those areas of my life/be happy with where they’re at at the moment.
Blog/Instagram/Social Media
  • Blog twice a month
  • Dedicate an hour a week to brainstorming and planning content
  • GROW, GROW, GROW
  • Make it a priority to post things people have specifically asked for
  • Do a podcast of some kind
  • Create a KaleKouture Facebook page
Lifestyle
  • Put phone on “do not disturb” at 9pm every weeknight, no excuses!
  • Make sure my lunch is packed and ready to go for the next day, every night.
  • 2 minute nightly clean – a friend of mine shared this tip with me and it has served us SO well since Taylor and I moved into our new house. Set a timer for two minutes before you go to bed each night to pick up/clean. You would be so surprised what you can do in two minutes! And who doesn’t love starting each day with a clean house?!
  • Make one new recipe per week and combine favorites into a recipe book at the end of the year! I promise to share them with you guys!
  • Read 5 books – this is lofty for me, trust me. I feel like a horrible teacher admitting that but reading tends to fall to the bottom of my priority list.
  • Apply for/start saving for a 2019 summer international mission trip.
  • Make a better effort at not wasting food/using what I have before buying new items at the grocery store!
Relationship
  • Sit down to eat dinner with Taylor three times a week
  • Weekly gratitude jar – each week we’ll write down something positive that happened/something fun we did/etc., on New Years Eve, we’ll open it together and read through all the positives 2018 brought us!
  • More travel > less material items. We started this last year, but we’re continuing it this year because we loved it so much. We do not give each other gifts anymore, we take what we would spend on each other and put it into a travel fund. Best decision we ever made!
Fitness/Health
  • Continue one monthly fitness goal per month
  • Stretching – every single day
  • 64 ounces of water minimum each day. Less Mio, more plain water!
  • Try one new workout class per month
  • Run two 5ks
  • Run one 10k
  • Delete MFP by the end of 2018. This would be huge for me. I have relied on MyFitnessPal for over six years now but it has been a goal of mine for a long time to slowly get away from the numbers/macro game. It has been life changing for me, but I have always said it is not something I want to be hung up on forever. I will be working REALLY hard on this one throughout the year! More on this throughout the year.

I plan on doing a post at the end of 2018 that recaps how I did with these intentions, so we’ll see where I am at the end of the year! I’ll also keep you posted on how I’m doing as the year goes on. What are some of your 2018 goals/intentions? Comment and let me know!

Have a fabulous weekend!

XO, A

Gift Guide: For the Foodie

Kitchen Gadgets & Tools

Spiralizer – $26.99

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This is a wish list item for me, but it has AMAZING reviews! I buy pre-spiralized zucchini noodles right now, and I could have bought 10 of these by now based on how much money I’ve wasted doing that. Based on every review I’ve read, this is the best buy for your money. It’s easy to use, and it looks extremely simple!

Cookie Sheet – $7.49
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I got this cookie sheet on sale at Target on a whim and it’s the best $7 I’ve ever spent. I use cookie sheets for roasting large amounts of vegetables each week, among tons of other things, but this thing is the EASIEST cookie sheet to clean, ever. Nothing sticks to it which is perfect for me because half the time I forget to spray it. It’s also beautiful to look at. Even if you don’t think you need it, you do. Go ahead and buy two while you’re at it.

Muffin Tin – $8.49

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This is the pan I make all my mini muffins/pancake bites in! I love this thing so much. It’s super non stick, it’s great quality, and hello, you can’t beat $8.49!

Ninja Blender – $91.99

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I have yet to pull the trigger on the Vitamix so for now, this is what I use! I really do love my blender and part of the reason I haven’t splurged on a Vitamix yet is because I’ve had no problems with my Ninja. It does everything I need it to and more. It’s held up great for two years now, being used at least three times a week. It’s easy to clean, and it’s simple to use. There aren’t a ton of weird functions, just the basics, but that’s what I love about it! What more can you ask for!?

Crock Pot – $29.99

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Not one week goes by where I don’t use my crockpot. I whip this baby out every Sunday for one recipe or another. Crock pot chicken, white chicken chili, etc. It’s a cheap crock pot, but the quality is amazing. I’ve had no problems with mine whatsoever!

Skinnytaste Book – $19.99

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This is my all. time. fave. cookbook! I love Skinnytaste and this cookbook has never failed me. There are SO many great recipes and they’re recipes that anyone can make. I’m not a chef by any means and all of the recipes have been so simple, and SO delicious. I highly recommend this as a gift for recent college grads/newlyweds!

Cookie Dough Scoop – $12.99

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I truly don’t use this scoop for cookie dough all that often, however it’s my short cut for energy bites/balls! Instead of rolling my bites into perfect balls, I just scoop and go. This can obviously be used for cookie dough too, this is just what I use it for most often! I love the Kitchen Aid brand and mine has held up extremely well!

Kitchen Aid – $242.00
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When I first got my mixer as a gift, I didn’t think I’d use it all that often. I was so wrong. I use this thing multiple times a week. Baking is kind of my thing, so that’s what I use it for most often, but with all the different attachments, it has so many more uses than just for baking! This is also a great price, so if it’s something you’re in the market for, jump on it!

Skillet – $10.99

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I use this little skillet daily! It’s perfect for making eggs, cooking small amounts of meat, and most importantly, the @RachaelsGoodEats skillet cookie! It’s uber cheap and worth every penny.

Keurig – $67.98

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I use my Keurig every single day, and I’d say it’s pretty much a no brainer for any coffee drinker! It’s quick, it’s easy, and K-Cups are sold just about everywhere you go! This is the single cup version and unless you’re brewing for an army, this is the way to go! It’s the cheapest option and it gets the job done without taking up too much counter space. Highly recommend, and mine has lasted for years!

Milk Frother – $10

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This tool is a total non-necessity, but for $10, it totally makes my Saturday mornings. It’s super simple to use, all you have to do is fill a mug with 1/4 cup of milk, put this frother in, turn it on and froth for about ten seconds, and then add your coffee. I also love this because it helps dissolve my collagen when I put it in my coffee! And it just makes your coffee look fancy, who doesn’t love that?!

The Goods

PS Snacks – 3 tubs for $32.00

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This product is probably my most asked about product on Instagram. And it’s pretty obvious as to why that is. It’s healthy cookie dough and I could eat dangerous amounts of it. I tell everyone I know about this cookie dough because it truly is so good. If you need something to satisfy your sweet tooth at night, this is the perfect fix! It’s so worth the price! Use “kalekouture” at checkout to get free shipping!

Perfect Bars – 8 for $24

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My favorite bars of all time, ever. These things are worth their weight in gold and are another product I tell everyone about. I could eat six a day and that is not an exaggeration. The ingredient list is as clean as it gets, and the flavor is truly out of this world. I have not had one flavor I didn’t love. If there’s a foodie in your life, get them a box of these and you will 100% be their favorite person for the year. Totally worth the price and then some!

Collagen – $34

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Collagen is what I use in my coffee EVERY single day. It contains 7 grams of protein and it’s tasteless so it’s the perfect way to start your day with a little extra protein! It’s also worked WONDERS on my hair, skin, and nails! Think of it as Biotin on steroids. You can use “kalekouture” for 20% off your purchase making this only $34!

Eating Evolved Coconut Butter Cups – $2.99 for 2 cups

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Another insanely good product to kick your late night sweet tooth, or really just for any time of day for that matter, coconut butter cups. The ingredient list is squeaky clean so it’s a treat you can feel 100% good about! Put some PS Snacks cookie dough on top and you’ve got yourself a match made in heaven!

RX Bar – 12 pack for $22 (CHEAP!)

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If you’ve watched my story ever in your life you know my obsession with RX Bars. I have one of these every single day and there is not one flavor I don’t love, so you can’t go wrong with any of them! If you like the chocolate sea salt, Amazon has them for a great price, but you can get these just about anywhere now!

Stevia Drops – $15

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I feel like these drops are a product not many people know about, but I put these in so many different things! They’re a great way to sweeten greek yogurt, you can use them for baking, and I also put a couple drops in my coffee every morning! Don’t let the price scare you. One little bottle will take me a year to go through. You only need 2-3 drops for anything you use them in! They’re so versatile and you’ll use them more than you think! Perfect little stocking stuffer!

Gift Guide: For the Fitness Lover

I’m so excited about this post because a) I’ve worked extremely hard on it, and b) all of these products are items that are items I own and use ALL the time/are items on my own wish list! If there’s a fitness fanatic in your life, or even if you’re just shopping for yourself, I promise you/they will love anything this list! I’ve included a couple of items that are on the more expensive side, but I also tried to give you tons of affordable options! I will also say that anything more expensive on this list something that is totally worth the investment!

Please message me or comment if you have questions on anything, I’d be glad to help! The guide is broken down into different sections, so if you’re not in the market for anything in one of the specific sections, keep scrolling to the next heading! If you’d like to shop any of these items directly, just click the underlined links and they’ll take you to where you can purchase!

Gym Accessories

Resistance Bands $8.99
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I’ve been using these resistance bands since June and I love them! They’re so cheap, and the quality is great! I’ve had no issues with them. They come in a little drawstring bag that makes them super convenient to throw in your gym bag, and it makes them ideal for traveling! I brought them to Mexico with me and they were the perfect way to get in a quick workout when I couldn’t get to the gym!

Sliders $9.99
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These are an at home workout must for me. You can use these sliders in so many ways! These are also super travel friendly and are such a great addition to a workout when you don’t have access to your normal gym equipment.

True Wireless Earbuds – $42.99

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My brother asked for these earbuds for Christmas and when I read more about them I decided to buy some for myself too! I’ve never used anything other than the IPhone earbuds but I’m really excited to use these! They come in a box that charges the earbuds, which is so convenient! All the reviews say they hold a charge really well, the sound is great, and many people talked about how well they stay put in your ear even during high intensity workouts. These are a great option if you’re not ready to spend $200 on Beats!

Beats by Dr. Dre $199.95

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I included these because I know so many people who have these and absolutely love them. I have not pulled the trigger on them yet but they’re definitely a wish list item for me. This is an item that I think is definitely worth the investment if this is something you’re in the market for!

Jump Rope – $9.95

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This is the jump rope I use when I do at home workouts. It’s really durable and I love the grips on the handles. Jump rope is a great way to get cardio in in between sets or even just for a quick at home workout when you’re in a pinch!

Clothing/Accessories

Adidas Swift Run White – $85.99

Taylor, if you’re reading, these are on my wish list! 😏 I have wanted these shoes for forever. I do not need another pair of tennis shoes but these are SO cute and I feel like they go with everything! I’ve tried them on and they’re extremely comfortable too! If you prefer Adidas over Nike, this is your shoe!

Nike FlyKnit – ON SALE! $109.99

These are the tennis shoes I wear daily, and I think I get asked about them every day! They’re the most comfortable tennis shoe I own and there is not one workout outfit they don’t look perfect with! They’re a little spendy (but on sale which never happens!) but good shoes are 100% worth the investment. I’ve had these for over a year now and I know I’ll get at least another two years out of them! Highly, highly, highly recommend.

Black 38mm Apple Watch – $249.99

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My Apple Watch is like my lifeline. I feel lost without it. I got mine last year for Christmas and I can’t believe I went 24 years without one. It’s such a great tool for workouts. It tracks your heart rate, calories, steps, everything! This is the water “resistant” option, not water “proof”, but I take mine off when I shower, so unless you’re a swimmer, this is a great option. It’s way cheaper than the water proof one too!

Apple Watch Replacement Band – $10.90

I love having a couple of different options to switch out my Apple Watch band with. These are SO cheap compared to what Apple sells them for, so Amazon is definitely the way to go! These would make the perfect stocking stuffer!

Short Socks – $12.99 for 9 pairs

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These are the greatest socks of all time and they’re SO cheap. I’ve bought more expensive brands and these are still my favorites. You can’t see them with any tennis shoes and they’re really thin which I love! I sometimes find that these types of socks tend to wear out pretty quickly but mine have been washed hundreds of times and they’re still like new!

Nike Sports Bra – $22.50

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I own this sports bra in every color it’s ever been made in. I love this bra because it’s thin, but it holds the goods in place if you know what I mean. It’s comfortable, breathable, and I’ve had some of mine for over two years. For the price, the quality is amazing too! This bra would work for all cup sizes! I’m a D cup and wear a medium for reference.

Zella Live In High Waisted Leggings – $54.00

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I bought these leggings during the Nordstrom anniversary sale and I have been kicking myself ever since for not buying two more pairs. I wear them ALL the time. They material isn’t sweat wicking or anything so I don’t work out in them, but as far as athleisure goes, these are everything. They’re SO soft, so comfortable, and I can definitely tell the quality is good enough to last a couple of years. These would be the best gift!

Old Navy Crops – $29

If you’re not ready to spend $70+ on Lulu crops, these are hands down my favorite crops. They keep everything in place, they’re super flattering, and they’re extremely good quality for the price. I think I have them in every color!

Hair, Skin, & Nail Must Haves

Free People Hair Coils – $5.99

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I mentioned these hair ties in my post gym hair care post back in October! They are my absolute favorites for wearing to the gym because they don’t leave a crease in your hair! They’re my secret weapon as far as being able to salvage clean hair after the gym!

Batiste Dry Shampoo – $8.99
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This is my all time favorite dry shampoo. I use it every day after I leave the gym! It gives it body and a little grit which is 100% necessary on day two and three hair! It’s cheap and it lasts forever.

Tula Cleanser – $28.00

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I just started using Tula products but I have fallen in love. I use this cleanser on my face morning and night, but I included it in this guide because I also use it right when I get home from the gym! It’s extremely gentle and leaves my face squeaky clean and free of sweat and dirt!

Supplements

Cellucor C4 – $28.99

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This is my favorite pre workout of all time! It’s pretty strong so I sometimes only have to take a half scoop which makes it cheaper than it already is. It is a total necessity for my early morning workouts!

Dr. Axe Collagen – $34

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Collagen is what I use in my coffee EVERY single day. It contains 7 grams of protein and it’s tasteless so it’s the perfect way to start your day with a little extra protein! It’s also worked WONDERS on my hair, skin, and nails! Think of it as Biotin on steroids. You can use “kalekouture” for 20% off your purchase making this only $34!

BioHealth Nutrition Protein Powder – $40

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I’ve been using BioHealth Nutrition protein powders for almost two months now and I love them more than any other powdered protein I’ve had before. This protein is pasturefed blend so it’s really natural and it’s not hard on my stomach like many other proteins usually are. There are tons of great flavors but chocolate milk is my favorite right now! Use “BIOKALE” at checkout for a discount on any of the products on their site!

Miscellaneous

City Shape Membership – $50

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City Shape is like Class Pass for all the local KC gyms! Being a member of City Shape has exposed me to so many new gyms and classes I would never have known about, or had the opportunity to try without my membership. For $50, you get four classes. You can schedule them wherever and whenever you want! Your membership also gives you a discount at some of my favorite places around KC, including Enjoy Pure Food, Unbakery, Simple Sciences Juices, etc. This would make an awesome gift to start the new year with!

Healthy Human Cruiser Tumbler – $22.99

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This is the Healthy Human bottle you’ve probably seen on my Instagram story a thousand times. It keeps my coffee hot for hours! I recommend this to every one I know! The purple one is on my wish list this year! Use “kalekouture” at checkout for a discount on your purchase!

Spiced Up Roasted Veggies

I roast veggies every single week in some form or fashion. However I usually don’t take the time to try to fancy them up by any means. I chop them, spray a little olive oil on them, hit them with a little S&P, and call it good. While this method is quick, and it works for me, this week I decided to actually put a little more effort into the roasting process. It added a whopping two minutes on to my prep time, but the difference this two minutes made was undeniable.

There are two things I did differently with these veggies. First, instead of forgetting about the veggies after they went into the oven, I set a timer for 20 minutes (this is halfway through, total roast time is 40 minutes) to take them out to flip everything so all the veggies could be evenly roasted. You don’t necessarily have to do this, but it definitely makes the veggies crispier. I typically find that my sweet potatoes are always really soft even if I roast them for longer than 40 minutes, so this definitely makes all the difference. Thanks for the tip @wellnessforthewin (follow her if you don’t already!).

The only other thing I did differently was that I seasoned my olive oil (with more than just salt and pepper!) and coated the veggies with the olive oil mixture instead of sprinkling the seasoning on the veggies when they’re on the cookie sheet. I felt like this more thoroughly seasoned them and it gave all the veggies an even coating!

This roasting method can be used for any and all veggies! In addition to brussels and sweet potatoes, I do cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, etc. This is how I meal prep large amounts of veggies for the whole week and typically two pans of veggies lasts me five days! It’s quick, easy, and there’s minimal clean up!

Ingredients
  • 3 large medium sized potatoes, chopped
  • 1 lb brussel sprouts, halved
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup avocado oil (I use Chosen Foods!)
  • 2 Tbsp honey/maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup reduced sugar dried cranberries
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Put all your veggies into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, honey, spices, and garlic. Whisk until combined.
  4. Cover your veggies with the olive oil mixture and coat evenly.
  5. Dump onto a baking sheet and spread evenly.
  6. Roast for 40 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  7. While the veggies are cooling, sprinkle them with the dried cranberries.
  8. Enjoy!

Why I’m Not Sharing Ways to “Stay On Track” This Thanksgiving

I was not planning on writing a blog post on this, but after seeing SO many people this week posting their “tips and tricks” on ways to stay healthy on Thanksgiving, I felt compelled to share my own two cents, and it may not be what you think it is. Let me preface first by saying, I’m not dogging on anyone who has written one of these posts. Everyone is 100% entitled to their own way of thinking and that’s what I truly love about blogging – reading about someone else’s perspective!

You knew there had to be a “however”, right?! However. Thanksgiving is one dang day a year. One day. One out of 365 days of the year.

I’ve seen so many people say “limit your desserts”, “load up on veggies”, “drink tons of water so you’re not super hungry when it’s time to eat”, “get an early morning workout in”, “limit your alcohol intake”, “walk off your food after dinner”, etc. I promise I’ve seen it all. All of those things are great, and if doing that makes you feel better, you do you! But I also think it’s okay to spend your holiday NOT conscientiously thinking about these things.

Am I going to limit my desserts? Let me tell you the last time I ate a full fat, full sugar dessert. Besides a donut on Halloween, it’s been months. So no, probably not limiting myself there. Am I going to load up on veggies? If sweet potato casserole counts, yes! Am I going to get an early morning workout in? Does lifting my wine glass from the table to my mouth count? Am I going to walk off my food after dinner? Well realistically that would take days to do, and we go to a movie as a family after dinner, so no. Limit my alcohol intake? No to that too.

I would say for about 350/365 days a year, I count macros, eat nutrient dense foods, make sure to eat enough protein, limit processed foods, limit my sugar intake, work out, limit my alcohol intake, etc. The 15, give or take a few, days a year I let myself completely indulge (like turkey day), account for 4% of the year. Do you think that 4% of the year has any affect on my overall health, or the way I look? No. The only thing it affects is my sanity. I am able to have a healthy relationship with food because of that 4%. I’m able to do all of those things I listed above, the other 96% of the time, because of that 4%.

I am so proud of the way I live my life and the changes I’ve made over the past 5-6 years, but I am also so proud of the fact that I can celebrate Thanksgiving with my family, and not feel the need to modify every recipe I’m bringing, or feel the need to say no to trying an additional dessert because I’ve already had one, or worry about what hours Planet Fitness is open on Thanksgiving day. And you know what? Even if I did worry about those things, I wouldn’t be a pound lighter once it’s all said and done. Because one day, makes ZERO difference in the scheme of life.

There was absolutely a point in my life where I did worry about all of these things, as recent as last year. I had a moment the other day when my mom texted me and said “Can you dig the unhealthy stuff off the sweet potato casserole or do you want just a plain sweet potato for Thanksgiving?” While a part of me knows that she was being so thoughtful, the other part of me kind of hated that she had to ask me that. If you were wondering, I responded without hesitation “I can eat the unhealthy stuff!”. And I will, with zero guilt.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, fitness and health are parts of my life, they are not my whole life. On Friday, I will go right back to eating like I do 90% of the time, and working out 6 days a week. But if you can’t indulge a couple of days a year, then when can you? Balance is a part of health. Indulging every once in awhile is a part of health. Not working out every once in a while is a part of health.

This subject is something I’m so passionate about, and it weighed heavily on my heart this week. I never want to make anyone feel like the way they’re living their life is wrong, so if you read this post and feel differently, that’s perfectly fine! And if you’re one of the people I referred to earlier, I still love you! I just felt compelled to share because for years, I felt like if I didn’t do things the “healthy” way on Thanksgiving, other holidays, etc., I wasn’t a “healthy person”, I was losing progress, I was going to gain a bunch of weight, etc. And that’s why I restricted myself in so many ways. But in fact, I now feel the opposite.

I hope if you take nothing else away from this post, it’s to give yourself some grace tomorrow. Eat the pie, drink the wine, lay on the couch, BE HUMAN. Be thankful for the people you share your day with, for all the amazing food you’ll eat, the people who prepared it, and for the time you get to spend with them.

I hope you all have the best day tomorrow! Happy Thanksgiving.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies

Happy turkey week yall! I hope you’re planning on spending the rest of the week relaxing, spending time with your loved ones, and eating alllll the food and drinking alllll the wine. That is my exact plan!

I’m sharing this recipe because I’m a) I’m a sucker for pumpkin anything, and b) I’m going to be eating every dessert in sight on Thanksgiving so it makes me feel better to know that at least one of my desserts will be halfway healthy. Plus, I love recipes that I can keep around all year long and this will definitely be a healthy treat staple for me.

That being said, you cannot tell these cookies are even halfway healthy. They’re dense, chewy, and so chocolatey. If I’m being honest I probably tripled the chocolate chips because I didn’t measure but hey, it’s Thanksgiving so that’s acceptable, right!?

This recipe is adapted from Amy’s Healthy Baking! I added a little less maple syrup/honey, and I actually didn’t flatten the cookies like her website says to! I think keeping them in their dropped shape helps them stay a little chewier and hold their moisture a little better, but it’s totally up to you!

Ingredients
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp mini chocolate chips
Directions
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, pumpkin, and vanilla. Stir in the honey/syrup. Add the flour mixture, stirring until incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips. Chill the cookie dough for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Use a cookie dough scoop to drop the cookie dough into 20 rounded scoops onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake at 325°F for 15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes.
Macros
  • 10g carb
  • 2g fat
  • 1g protein

Reflecting On October’s Fitness Goal

At the beginning of October, I posted a picture on Instagram stating that my October fitness goal would be to run two miles, for 25 days of October. I never imagined how many people would be encouraging me on this month long October journey of mine! Each day I posted about my two miles, and every single day I got words of encouragement, pictures of people running their own two miles, or even people asking if I had done my two miles on the five days I took off. Talk about being held accountable!

A couple of people asked me to post about my thoughts on my goal and how it affected me. I was gathering these thoughts along the way myself, so this was the perfect excuse to blog about them to share my pros and cons with you!

Pros
  • Accountability.
    • I was held accountable by my friends and followers throughout every day of this month. I loved knowing that my goal was public, aka: people would notice if I ran or not! I also loved the fact that someone else seeing my 2.0 mile Insta stories, encouraged them to run their own 2.0 for the day. This encouraged me to get my butt to the gym to get my miles in, even when I wasn’t feeling it.
  • No excuses.
    • It’s a well known fact that I don’t love cardio. I never have and I never will, and that’s okay. If you love cardio, you’re either lying or there might be something wrong with you. Just kidding. Kind of. That being said, before this month, I had no problem skipping cardio here and there, just because I always have a hard time deciding what I should/want to do as far as cardio goes. Knowing I had to do my two miles gave me no choice but to hop on the treadmill the minute I got to the gym. It completely took the guess work out of cardio, which sometimes is half the battle.
  • Goal Driven.
    • I’ve worked out consistently for over 5 years, so going to the gym pure habit for me. I don’t have to muster up a lot of motivation most days because I know that it’s just part of my day; there’s no “if”, it’s just “when”. However after a while, I find myself going through the motions without necessarily having a passion for what I’m doing. This month was different. I was so motivated by having a specific goal that I actually felt like I was accomplishing something every time I stepped in the gym. I wasn’t just going through the motions; I had something to work for and it was and it was the best feeling!
  • It pushed me.
    • Like I mentioned before, I am not a runner, by any stretch. I trained for a half marathon a couple of years ago but was forced to quit because of a hairline fracture in my tibia. Since then, I have not run anywhere close to 9 miles. While 2 miles a day isn’t close to 9, it’s closer than 0! At the beginning of October, I couldn’t finish a mile without stopping. On the last day of October, I ran two miles with no breaks – progress!
  • Bigger Goals.
    • My two miles a day made me want to set bigger running goals for myself in the future. Maybe 3 miles a day for a month, maybe a half marathon, who knows?! It definitely lit somewhat of a fire under me as far as running is concerned and I haven’t had that sort of running motivation in forever.
Cons
  • No physical change.
    • When working towards a goal, especially a fitness centered goal, it’s easy to want to see a physical change. That’s typically why most people work out, right? I totally get that, and while I’d love to say I saw a huge physical difference in my appearance after this month, I didn’t. Two miles a day equated to about 20-25 minutes of cardio before my strength training workouts each day, which is exactly what I had been doing before I started this month’s goal. So because it wasn’t an increase in cardio, there was no change to my physical appearance. Which is a great lesson learned for me. Do I see a physical difference in my body? No. But I do know that my heart is in better physical shape just based on the progress I made in my times and in my ability to run without stopping. Heart health is a whole lot more important to me than anything I could’ve seen on the outside!
  • I missed other cardio machines!
    • Having to run every day as my cardio made me miss some of my old cardio routines! It will be a little while before I step back on the treadmill as my cardio for the day. Not because I didn’t enjoy this month on the treadmill, but I actually started missing the Stairmaster! Something I never thought I’d say! But on a real note, doing something for a month straight does start to get mundane after a while. I have a newfound love for the Stairmaster and that’s exciting to me! A negative turned positive.
  • Two A Days
    • Because I became an ambassador for CityShape this month, that meant I was attending more fitness classes than usual. So because I was away from Planet Fitness at least once a week, I had to go and do my two miles before my classes, which meant I was technically working out twice in one day. I never considered my two miles my entire workout, it was more of a warm up, but it definitely wasn’t the most convenient goal during a month when I was away from my home gym quite a few times!
November Goal

While this month’s goal might not seem nearly as challenging as October’s, I’m trying not to set myself up for failure! There is something to be said for setting your sights high with a lofty goal, however I’m also trying to be realistic. I know for a fact I will be traveling this month, celebrating the holidays with my family, taking 5 more CityShape classes, and I know my workout routine won’t be nearly as rigid as it is in other months. Which is 100% okay with me. However, I wanted a goal that would push me, but it would be something I could do, regardless of where I am! That being said, I decided to do a month long plank challenge.

As cheesy as I used to think these were, it’s actually something I’ve wanted to do for a while now! I will post the plank challenge below, so feel free to join me! It’s something that obviously doesn’t have to be done at a gym, so anyone can do it! The other part of my reasoning behind this goal, was because my core area is the last thing I ever focus on. I tend to rely on strength training and hitting my macros to do most of my core work for me, so I’m hoping to see a little bit of change with the extra attention!

30 Day Plank Challenge

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@neilarey.com

I hope you had a great Halloween, indulged in some candy, and are now ready to hit your November goals! Comment and let me know what your goals are!

XO, A

Pancake Bites

My love for Kodiak Cakes is so real. Their pancake/waffle mixes are such a great option for breakfast, no matter how you use them! The protein packed mixes are by far my favorite, but I have tried nearly all of them and they’re all to die for!

These little bites are a delicious way to start your day with a good amount of protein, and they’re made with 4 ingredients … how can you beat that?! If anyone could win an award for worst pancake maker, it’s me, so the fact that you can bake these instead of cooking them on a griddle like normal pancakes, is also a total win for me.

These are a great option for meal prep because they’re so quick and easy! I made 24 of them in less than 15 minutes and that takes care of breakfast for me for the entire week – I eat 4/5 at a time. All it takes is 20 seconds in the microwave when you’re ready to eat them and they’re good to go! Pair these babies up with a hardboiled egg, some fruit, or just by themselves with a side of honey or syrup and you’ve got a delicious, easy, protein packed breakfast!

Side note: you can use whatever Kodiak mix you can find! I’ve done every single flavor and they have all turned out AMAZING!

Ingredients:
Directions:
  1. Combine pancake mix and almond milk/water until thoroughly combined.
  2. Fill mini muffin tins until 2/3 of the way full – they should perfectly fill 24 mini muffin wells or 12 regular sized muffin wells!
  3. Top with chocolate chips.
  4. Stick them in the oven for about 12 minutes.
  5. Let them cool, and enjoy!
Macros (for 1 of 24 pancake bites)
  • 5g carbs
  • 1g fat
  • 3g protein