What Am I Supposed To Be Doing At The Gym?!

cardio

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Like I have stated in previous blog posts, when I go to the gym on my own I literally have no clue what to do. I get intimidated by all of the machines, buff people and then all of the racing thoughts come back to my mind ending with several main questions; do I strength train with free weights, use the machines, and do cardio? I have heard millions of different things from how the machines are bad and you don’t need them, to switch up your workout and use them three times a week, and do cardio everyday! What?! So confusing.

Here are some facts about strength training with and without machines, as well as the true benefits of cardio. Strength training using free weights is optimum when you have limited space, or do not have access to a gym. Personally, I never use machines only basic workout equipment like kettle bells, bosu balls, bands, etc. Strength training without using machines should come first because you should master your own body weight before you move on to the machines. You also get better depth and such on all exercises without machines.

Using machines are building muscle in certain places. A few pros and cons of using machines are they are supportive, easy to use, save time and less intimidating, while they can be too supportive, they are limited, they don’t allow you to work on your weaknesses, plus they don’t allow your body to work naturally.

Cardio exercises are one of the easiest exercises because you can do it anywhere! A basic rule of thumb that I stick to according to the American Heart Association, is to do cardio exercises 3-4 times a week for 30 minutes. Cardio burns calories and fat, strengthens your heart, reduces stress and your blood pressure. Cardio is just so good for you!!

Comment below and tell me what your favorite way to exercise is!

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Chicken In the Crockpot

ImageSo as I have mentioned before, the crock pot is my new best friend! I love it mainly because of the texture of the chicken, as well as mean planning. You also can throw anything in there and it tastes awesome! This week, I put a bigger chicken breast from Costco, mushrooms, asparagus, zucchini, squash and marinara sauce. To be honest, I had no idea what I was doing and just put as much marinara sauce in as I thought along with two tablespoons of water. Then, I cooked it on high at 9 in the morning and it was more than ready to go by 7 at night!

As I mentioned in my previous blogs, meal planning is a very important aspect of a healthier lifestyle because if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Nothing is better than coming home when you are tired to a home cooked, healthy meal! Here are some awesome crock pot recipes I use that are really easy. I also got my crock pot from Macy’s on sale!

Comment below and tell me your favorite crock pot recipes!

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Banana Peanut Butter “Sandwiches”

ImageSo I am a huge believer in snacks! Not having snacks automatically sets you up for failure towards living a healthier lifestyle. I am always on the search for new ones, and stumbled upon this one, which is so simple I can’t believe I had not thought of it before!

These little banana peanut butter “sandwiches” hit the spot by filling you up as well as satisfying that sweet craving! Although they are awesome just by cutting up the bananas and putting peanut butter on them; you absolutely HAVE to freeze them! They taste like candy- and a million times better- if you do :) Check out the health benefits of bananas and natural peanut butter while you’re at it! 

Ingredients: 

1 whole banana

Natural, raw peanut butter 

Directions: 

Cut up the banana into small slivers (the size you would use them for a real sandwich)

Spread as much peanut butter as you would like on one side of the banana slice and put the other slice on top. 

Put in the freezer for about an hour for best results

Enjoy!!

Comment below and let me know if you liked this snack as much as I did! 

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Chicken Eggplant Parmesan

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Eating healthy forces you to get creative so you don’t get tired of eating the same things over and over. Eggplant is a vegetable that I love cooking and can be made in a variety of ways. You can eat it by itself, with chicken, as well as other vegetables. Eggplant is loaded with vitamins and minerals and is considered a “brain food” because the skin contains nasunin. 

Eggplant chicken parmesan is one of my all time favorite dishes to make and it is pretty quick compared to other dishes! This dish also balances out your proteins and carbs. I like to pair asparagus or zucchini with it as well. Before, I would just make eggplant without the chicken, but I found this recipe at foodnetwork.com.

Ingredients: 

1 small eggplant (about 1 pound), trimmed and cut into 8 slices
Nonstick cooking spray
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
3 cups crispy rice cereal, such as Rice Chex, finely crushed
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
4 boneless skinless chicken cutlets (12 to 14 ounces total)
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/3 cup no-salt-added crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Chopped parsley, for garnish

Directions: 

  • Preheat the broiler. Mist both sides of the eggplant slices with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle both sides with the Italian seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and broil until browned and tender, turning once, about 6 minutes. Set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 425 degrees F.
  • Meanwhile, combine the flour and cayenne in a shallow dish. Combine the egg whites and 1 teaspoon water in a second dish. Combine the cereal and parmesan cheese in a third dish. Working with 1 piece of chicken at a time, dredge with the flour and tap off the excess. Coat with the egg whites and then place in the cereal mix and press until well coated on both sides. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
  • Mist a large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 of the oil and then 2 pieces of the coated chicken. Cook, turning once, until the chicken is just cooked through, about 5 mintues. Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray and repeat with the remaining oil and chicken.
  • Place 2 eggplant slices on each chicken cutlet and top evenly with the sauce and cheese. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste.
  • Enjoy! 

Comment below and tell me how you like to cook eggplant! 

 

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Good Carbs Vs. Bad Carbs

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When I first began my dieting journey with South Beach diet, I began to learn the difference between what a ‘good carb’ and a ‘bad carb’. Basically, the difference between good carbs and bad carbs are the way your body breaks them down. Bad carbs, or starchy carbs, mostly consist of white bread, potatoes, pasta, fries, bagels, etc. which are processed and refined. Good carbs consist of whole wheat bread, whole grains,vegetables and fruits.

Carbohydrates are a very important part of our diet because that is where our bodies get most of its energy from. When we choose healthy carbs, our bodies take longer to digest them making us feel full longer while avoiding blood sugar spikes. When we ear carbs such as fries and white refined pasta, our blood sugar spikes up causing our bodies to release insulin (which eventually stores fat) then we get that crash feeling and are hungry much sooner. Basically this is digested the same as candy.

Good carbs also contain more amounts of fiber which have numerous health benefits. It reduces the risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes and ulcers. Fiber is also keeps your colon healthy :)

Comment below and let me know what carbs you like to eat to stay away from those bad carbs!

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Healthy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

cookies (2)Cookies are one dessert that is my weakness when I am craving something sweet or a cheat meal. Last thanksgiving, I was worried about giving into all sorts of bad desserts so I thought I would contribute to them by bringing my own. (I still gave in). I got this recipe from beyonddiet.com which has a lot of healthy recipes that are gluten free. They also coincide with many ingredients I can eat on the South Beach diet.

Usually ‘healthy’ desserts that I make end up tasting like cardboard and I get discouraged, but these cookies are the best thing! I actually prefer them over sugar cookies or anything sweeter. To make them is really easy and fast and they make the perfect small dessert

Ingredients:  Serving Size is two cookies

¾ Cup Raw Peanut Butter

1 Cup Coconut Sugar

4 Tbs Olive Oil

2 Eggs

½ Tbs Vanilla

½ Tbs Cinnamon

2 ¼ Cup of Natural Whole Wheat Oats

1 Tsp Baking Soda

½ Cup of Cranberries

½ Slivered Almonds

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Combine all of the dry ingredients in one bowl including the coconut sugar, cinnamon, oats, baking soda, cranberries and almonds.
  • Combine the wet ingredients in another bowl including the peanut butter, olive oil, eggs and vanilla.
  • Combine the two mixtures and fold the ingredients together.
  • Use 2 tbs to portion out the size of the cookie. This recipe makes about 20 cookies.
  • Enjoy!

Comment below and tell me how you liked them!

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Drink More Water!

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We all know water is an important part of our diet, but does it make that much of a difference? YES! It has a huge impact on your diet along with tons of benefits. Aside from meal planning, getting in enough water in a day is a major struggle for me. Before I was paying attention to how much water I was consuming, I was only have a glass a day if that! A person needs at least eight to ten cups of water a day, but no more than a gallon. If you are not drinking near that amount like I was, start off slow and gradually drink more and more each day.

Often times, people mistake being hungry when they are really just thirsty. I know Coke tastes a million times better than water, but check out the article, Water Vs. Coke, to see how much better the water option is! To make it easier get enough water in a day, I carry around the Crystal Geyser gallon of water with me. They are actually cheaper than bottled water and that way I have my amount I need in one spot all day. Drinking enough water each day can make your skin better, energy level higher, cleanse your system, help you focus, control your calorie intake and much more!

Next time you feel hungry try drinking a glass of water and see if that does not curb your hunger. Most Americans are chronically dehydrated so their thirst mechanism is weak and is mistaken for hunger. If you cannot stand the taste of water add a lemon, cucumber, orange or any other fruit you like to spruce up your drink!

Comment below and tell me how you get your servings of water in each day!

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