Friday, July 15, 2016

July Meal Plan

I tried to limit the amount of cooking for the prep on this one! It's hot out there. And cooking isn't tops on my list of things to do when the weather warms up.
All the vegetarian proteins can be swapped out for the original versions.
Links to recipes down at the bottom.

Saturday is a little bit of a "cheat day!" So naughty--eating salted caramel tahini cups.

Shakeology: I always add a purple container (1/2 banana) and a green (1 cup greens) and sometimes a yellow (almond milk or coconut water) when I need it. Prep that stuff to make it easier by putting the "extras" in a ziplock in the freezer. 

Snack 1 is pretty obvious. 

Lunches: Tofu Broccoli Slaw Salad

Zoodles--Use a spiralizer or use a vegetable peeler. Divide zucchini noodles evenly between two food containers. Top each with one fully cooked chicken or veggie sausage, ¾ cup marinara sauce, and 10 olives. When it’s time to eat, heat for two to three minutes in a microwave. Serve with one yellow container filled with whole grain crackers.

Snack 2: 

Cake Batter Chia Pudding --I add berries on top! I'm obsessed with this recipe.

Salted Caramel Tahini Cups --a total treat! 


Mock Tuna Salad --please note that I could not find a suitable "clean" sweet pickle relish at my local grocery store so I will be making my own out of this recipe: Quick Pickle Relish . The store relishes all had high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors. 

You can just make a healthy tuna salad if you don't want to do this! For example, mix up one can light tuna, ½ cup white beans, ¾ cup shredded lettuce, 1/4 yellow bell peppers, One green onion, two tsp. olive oil, and two tsp. balsamic vinegar and serve in a whole wheat pita pocket (1 red, 2 yellow, 1 green, 2 tsp.)

Southwestern Tempeh Bowl with beans and corn

This entire meal plan was inspired by this team Beachbody no-cook meal plan!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Summer Party Time

Party Time! Excellent!

Summer and parties just go together in my mind.
Here are some of my favorite ideas to make summer parties that much better!

A party-ready tub.
I hate hunting all over the house looking for serving platters and dishes. It's even worse when you want to cart the stuff outside for your summer shindig. Why not get a plastic tub and stock up on melamine party ware when it's on sale (which it is right now for a lot of places--you know how the stores like to rush us into the next season). Then, you have everything you need on hand. You can also pick up silverware for an outdoor party super cheap at thrift stores and garage sales--then you can keep it in the tub. Just pull the tub out when you are ready to party and store it away in the basement or wherever when you are done (wash the stuff first--duh!). It will make that next impromptu neighborhood gathering that much more fun!

Catchup Catsup Ketchup: any way you spell it--this is so clever. Got guests who prefer their organic bison burgers at different temps? Mark who wants what with ketchup (the proper way to spell it, IMO). (this website has super creative party ideas!)

Genius veggie cookery right here! I hate trying to get veggies on and off the grill without burning off my eyebrows in the process. Here's a trick!

How much alcohol should I buy??
For a three hour party, figure about three bottles of wine for every four people and four cocktails per guest.
More than that? Tell them they don't gotta go home, but they can't stay here. Just kidding! Let your drunk guests stay over or call an Uber for them. And if you are having a casual get-together, I don't think there's anything wrong with asking guests to bring something to drink to share. If it's a more formal event with actual invitations and things like that, don't be cheap. Just buy more drinks! 

Bugs Bugs Bugs! Are not invited to my party. 
Think about getting collapsible bug tents to cover food. It's about $10 for 3. And don't forget your food safety--don't let perishable food sit out for too long unless it's on ice. Serving courses can help eliminate this worry. So start with veggies and dip, then pull out the cheese plate later, and so on. 

No bug towelettes for your guests!
Avon Skin So Soft

A fan to gently keep mosquitos and flies away from your guests. Bonus for a chic vintage looking one! 

It's always fun to have classic summer toys out at a party. Think bubble wands (the bigger the better!), hula hoops, sparklers, small squirt toys, etc. Hey did you know they make a new version of everyone'e favorite toy of death--Jarts?!?! But now they're safe.

So I hope you found these ideas helpful--Maybe they are too obvious? 

But you know what bums me out? Pinterest pressure. A party is a party. It's fun because you are there, with friends, enjoying life. 

Like a lot of things I talk about, there seems to be this pressure that everything we do must be photo-op worthy. That you and your party must be PERFECT.  You don't need any fringe pom-poms or little boat place cards made out of lemons. If those kinds of things light you up--go for it! That's great. But if you just want to have a simple, fun party--DO IT! Invite those people over and don't worry whether your house is clean enough, if your outfit is cute enough, or if your wine glasses all match. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Mid-Summer's Night...Survival Guide?

It's that time. Where you know you should be savoring every little bit of the laid back attitude that comes with summer. Where you want to relax, let go, and enjoy. BUT, a little part of you wishes for crisp weather (it's hot and sweaty), the kids to go back to school (love them, but for the love of God please stop picking on each other!), and for hair that doesn't frizz up at the slightest bit of humidity (or is that just me?).

Get through the last of it--or get a jump start for next summer--with some of my favorite things! I have absolutely nothing to do with any of these companies and these are not affiliate links. It's just stuff I like.

Sunscreen for the kiddos:

Honest Sunscreen Stick

It is great for a squirmy kid. Swipe on--it's the perfect size for those little faces--and rub in.

Sunscreen for you:

Coola Sport Classic Sunscreen SPF 50 in Mango

It's pricey--but mama, you're worth it!

Travel friendly water bottle:

Collapsible so it fits in your purse. Carry it with you and fill up at a drinking fountain. Ta-da! Pssst--like at the airport. So you don't have to pay $5 for a bottle of water! You're welcome. This thing will pay for itself in no time! Plus they are reusable and fun looking. My child hates drinking water, but put it in a fun container. Boom. Water drank.

Speaking of Drank...
I know I'm pretty healthy, but I still like to have fun.
Enter the best looking wine service I've seen.
Club W + The Skimm 

I'm sure there's a way I could be getting free wine out of this recommendation. But I'm not. For real!
I just like the way this one operates. Take a little quiz, get some ideas, fill your cart! Better than you can at the grocery store. If you don't know, The Skimm is a daily email that cheekily presents you with the most important news of the day. It's entertaining, it seems thus far unbiased, and it's short. Perfect in my book. That's why I trust the wine service. Only downside is you have to be home or someone age 21 has to get your wine delivery (in most places, I think-definitely here in OH).

OK--That's it. I'm tapped out. What are your "must haves" for summer? Share in the comments please. Oh--and if any of you know of a bikini that magically gives you boobs--please don't hold back. Help a girl out!! 


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Cyclebar Review

I got to try a class at the new Cycle Bar studio in my town.
Full disclosures:

1. The class was free for me. The owners send their child to the same daycare as mine, and they offered all the parents a free ride to try it out. I don't know them personally and they don't know I'm writing a review or even that I have a passion for health and fitness. I so appreciate their generosity (and smart marketing move)!

2. I am completely biased in favor of my home workouts. Trying new things with an open mind is a priority for me though--and I definitely went into it with a mind for enjoying the experience. I figure I should mention that upfront because I'll talk more about it in the "cons" section of my review.

Sweaty post workout selfie! And short T-Rex arms means my face is at a really weird angle!

The good stuff:
  • It was a 50 minute class and it just flew by. It's in a dark room with dramatic lights and video monitors and the instructor put together an awesome playlist. 
  • You get to pick your bike online before class--so none of that, "crap! I'm late, I'm gonna get stuck front and center" anxiety. 
  • The bikes are top-quality and have a computer attached so that you know your RPMs, cadence, resistance, and power generated. You are also part of the computer system monitoring the whole class so you get ranked and the instructor can see how everyone is doing. I really liked knowing my resistance level--no more guessing about how much a "half-turn" will slow you down or if you are even in the ballpark of resistance that the instructor wants. 
  • The pre and post class amenities are super luxurious. The facility is bright, clean, and modern. They offered free water bottles, snacks, a water filling station, lockers, showers complete with everything you might have forgotten. They also provide you with towels and shoes! Cycling shoes make a BIG difference in spinning. 
  • They email you your "stats" after the workout and you can see your progression over the long term if you continue to take classes there. 
  • It's a great cardiovascular workout. 
The "buts" 
  • Although this was a really fun experience, to me classes at boutique style fitness centers like Cyclebar are good for socializing (it's fun to meet up with friends for a health activity instead of always hitting up happy hour!) and good for an occasional change of pace. I do not think they are a good, comprehensive solution to someone's fitness needs. (And to be fair, maybe they aren't trying to be.) 
  • There seemed to be an odd emphasis on food--bananas, coffee, granola bars, they were offering a coupon for a Chipotle burrito in conjunction with an upcoming class. That's all fine, I just hope that the people going to the class realize that you don't burn as many calories as you think when you take a 50 minute class. My emailed stats estimated about 370 calories burned, which seems pretty realistic. Considering that the average Chipotle order has upwards of 1,000 calories, this hardly seems like a trade-off. I think this plays into a lot of what is wrong with the health and fitness options out there and why people still struggle with their weight and the chronic health problems associated with our lifestyles today. We think: "I just worked out really hard. I deserve a burrito. I'm hungry. I will get a burrito." And the intake far exceeds the output. (Our bodies are actually wired to do this! No wonder it's so hard.) Or, without even thinking, you grab that free banana just because it's there, not because it's the best post-workout fuel or because you are actually hungry. (I know, I'm probably the only person on the planet to bitch about free food--I just feel like this stuff  hurts peoples' results and, although well meaning, is ultimately detrimental.) 
  • It's freaking expensive. Not more expensive than things like yoga classes or trainers or barre classes or Crossfit--but I have a hard time justifying the cost when I've found something else that is so much more effective AND cost effective. (See my caveat above.) Let's compare the $$. You can buy Cyclebar rides for anywhere from $15 to $20 per ride depending on the package you purchase. And let's say you want to go 4xs a week. So at the least expensive price point (buying 100 rides at a whopping $1,500) you end up paying approximately $240 per month. But to get that, you have to plunk down that $1,500 up front. And you are only getting a workout 4xs a week in my scenario. What do you do the other 3 days of the week (or 2 if you take a rest day)? Obviously you can squeeze more out of the cost/month calculation if you go less, but why would you want to workout less? And why would that be a good option to help you achieve your goals? Working out with me can cost anywhere from $12 per month for access to thousands of videos along with personalized coaching and accountability to about $100 per month for an option which INCLUDES the nutrition piece of the puzzle (that means you are getting one of your daily meals included). Considering that you'd probably spend about $5 per day on that meal anyway, you are coming out ahead and saving money.
  • Cyclebar is a bit different than other spinning classes I've done in that they also use a weighted bar and include some resistance training for your arms. But, at least in the class that I took, it was so minimal and the weight so light, it barely registered. Now, this could be class specific, but I believe the weighted bars only went up to 8lbs. 
  • Longer cardio sessions like Cyclebar are not as effective at getting results a mix which includes bodyweight training, traditional strength training, high-intensity intervals, and active recovery. 
  • It's a class that I have to drive to--so factor in about 40 more minutes getting there and back--and they do not have any childcare. The scheduling is on their terms--and while they offer a lot of options, I still can't do it at 5AM if I want or 10PM like I can when I work out at home. 
Is my bias showing? Have you read all those words?--I know, I talk a lot.

Lest you think that I'm a hater, I would love to do more Cyclebar classes. It is a good, fun, hard class and this location was impeccable.  But please note that I do not think it's a comprehensive fitness solution that will get you results if you have specific health and fitness goals.  If you have goals like that, and are looking for a path that will lead you to actual results and lifestyle improvement, email me at Sign up for my newsletter. Ask me questions. 

What I have to offer is not mutually exclusive. I will be back to Cyclebar. I loved it! I will also be trying Crossfit soon, and I love love love to run. But the baseline for me is a home workout that I can do consistently, without fail, and a nutrition plan that keeps me energized and eating clean. Consistency is key.