The FriYay Fit — Aaptiv Fitness App

Despite the fact that working out makes you feel amazing after you’ve finished, it’s a mind game getting motivated to keep that appointment with yourself at the gym.  I get bored easily with the same-ol-workout, so when I found the app, Aaptiv, it’s been a game changer!  And I’m sharing a free guest pass at the end of this post.

“In 2015, Ethan Agarwal was trying to stay fit during his business travels. It wasn’t easy—he found it difficult to stay motivated during runs. He wanted an audio-based guide that would be with him every step of the way. Not finding a product that suited his needs, Ethan started Aaptiv. Today, Aaptiv is the top audio-based fitness app on the Apple App Store, and the fastest-growing mobile fitness product on the market.

At Aaptiv, we believe that everyone deserves personalized fitness instruction, not just the few who can afford their own personal trainer. We’re not about six-packs, thigh gaps, or so-called “beach bodies”—everybody is welcome on our beach. We help people feel the joy of moving their bodies, the satisfaction of completing a workout, the thrill of beating a personal best, and the health benefits of fitness. We embrace all paths: a morning run, a midday yoga session, an after-work gym class, or a bedtime meditation.

Our vision is simple: we want to improve the lives of millions through fitness. Our journey begins with a magical combination of scientifically effective programming, empathetic trainers, and uplifting music. As we grow, our members can count on us to deliver the most convenient, personalized, and fun way to work out—an always-there partner that guides them to their healthiest, happiest lives.”

Basically, it’s trainer-led, music driven audio workouts.  It’s like having a personal trainer standing right there with you, coaching, prompting and encouraging you through your workout.  They have thousands of workouts loaded, and add 25+ new classes each week.  You select your skill level, interests, how much time you want to devote to a workout, type of equipment you want to use – literally, there are endless options.  Right now, I am following a Cardio for Weight Loss segment that runs for four weeks.  There are four workouts per week and after you complete each one you tag it as finished, balloon emojis set out and you get a congratulations email from the trainer that led that session!  This segment includes the elliptical, stairclimber, indoor cycling, weights, rowing and the treadmill.

If you don’t work out at a gym, there are home programs.  Want to take a run or walk outside, there’s something there for you, too.  There’s stretching and Yoga sessions and the list goes on.  The best part for me is I do something different every day and the time passes quickly because I am not looking at the clock!

If you want to give a try – use this free 30-day guest pass code .  If you decide you want to join, they are always running discounts on memberships.  I believe when I joined I signed up for a year membership at 50% off.  But, you’ve got 30-days to find out for yourself.  It’s available on the App Store and Google Play.  Let me know what you think!

The Friyay Fit — Healthy Snack Jars from Clean Food Crush

I haven’t done a Friyay Fit in a while — where I share anything that makes me throw a fit.  Basically, something that motivates me.  I am back in they gym after a three-month hiatus and along with workouts come finding things that are healthy so we don’t sabotage our efforts.  I follow Clean Food Crush on Instagram and saw her post for Mason Jar Snacks 4 Ways.  Brilliant!

I could only find this recipe for Crunch and Hummus Snacktime Jars on her site and Pinterest.

Basically you chop a bunch of veggies, fill the bottom of the mason jar with hummus, then nest the veggies down inside. Put the lid on and store in the fridge.  Grab and go!

Here are some more recipes from her post…

So, there are four snacks to inspire you to prep this weekend!  Happy chopping!  Be sure to visit Rachel’s page.  There are so many beautiful and healthy recipes.  And, follow my Pinterest board “Let’s Be Healthy” for more inspiration!  Happy Friyay!

Rhoda’s Paleo Banana Pancakes

I have been following Rhoda at Southern Hospitality Blog for a while now. I got the chance to meet her at the Haven Conference last summer and it was a thrill to see her in person.  The blog posts I enjoy the most have to do with her sweet mother and daddy and the fabulous southern-style home cooked lunches they have together.  Many of her mother’s recipes are featured on Rhoda’s blog.  She posted a video recently of her cute daddy giving her followers a tour of his extensive garden — and BTW he’s 90!

One recipe Rhoda has shared is Paleo Banana Pancakes.  Something about it always intrigued me because I thought it would be a much healthier alternative to traditional pancakes.  Since I am trying to limit my carb intake I thought I would give them a try.  And, they were really yummy!

Click on the link above for the full recipe, but they are basically an egg and a mashed ripe banana mixed together and scooped onto a hot skillet (I used non-stick spray, but you could use a little butter) like you would prepare pancakes.  They do stick, so just be patient.  I served them with sliced strawberries and a drizzle of local honey.

The zero carbs and 6 grams of protein in the egg and the 27 carbs in the banana make this a healthy breakfast that will keep you satisfied through the morning.  Bananas are the highest carb fruit, but it also has alot of other benefits like fiber and potassium, and since you are eating it with a protein it helps soften the effect the carbs have on your blood sugar.

Give them a try.  I think you will really like them.  And, buzz over to Rhoda’s blog for some good Southern hospitality!

 

Tending to Your Sole

Be careful of making fun of your older parents or friends who say things like, “I just can’t wear heels anymore, my feet hurt!”  Or, “can you pick up a pack of corn pads at CVS while you’re out?”  The latter always made me a little queasy when Mother would shout this sentiment as I was clicking out the door in my 4-inch heels, or when I would find a corn pad in the carpet…

But, here I am.  52.  I’ve had surgery on both feet, twice for bunions (thanks, Daddy).  And I know I have at least two of the “7 Weird Things that Happen to your Feet when you get older” an article I found from Prevention magazine.

Fat Vanishes.  I don’t need it to vanish from my feet!  Can’t I trade it and move my abdominal, butt and hip fat to the bottoms of my feet?  Mother nature provides humans with built-in insoles, collagen and elastin cushions, stuffed with adipose tissue, on the bottoms of your feet. But in a cruel twist on the middle-age spread, collagen production decreases through the years, thinning these fat pads.  That’s why baby feet look like rudders in a boat and are so munchable.

Without this cushioning, “your feet feel fine in the morning, but toward the end of the day you have a lot of pain because you’re essentially walking on bones,” says Pedro Cosculleula, MD, a foot and ankle specialist at Houston Methodist.  Though some clinics tout injections or fat transplants, there’s no proof they work, he notes. The only surefire solution is to wear cushioned, comfortable shoes, reinforced with insoles or gel pads if needed.  Super sexy.
Toes curl up.  And I don’t mean in that sexy, between-the-sheets kind of way. Years of stuffing your piggies into high heels elevates your risk of hammertoes, permanent bends in your smaller digits. What can start as mild discomfort turns more painful over time, and unsightly corns and calluses can also crop up as your crooked toes rub against your shoes.To prevent—and ease—hammertoes, cover corns and calluses with padding and trade in your pointy-toed pumps for shoes with wider toe boxes. “I often have women stand on top of a blank piece of paper barefoot, and trace the outline of their foot,” Cosculluela says. “Then I put their shoe on top. If I can see toes sticking out, I know that’s not a good shoe for them.”
For the record…I hate the words – corns, calluses and hammertoes.On a positive note: You don’t have to ditch your stilettos completely. If you want to wear them for a night out, wear well-fitting flats made of flexible fabric like suede—even walking or running shoes, if you can—during the day. The more support you can give your feet, the less inflammation you’ll incur throughout the day—and the better you’ll be able to tolerate a dressier shoe at night.
Good news it is trendy right now to wear your yoga pants and tennis shoes to lunch and run errands.  So, you can tell people that it’s “sole”y for your health – for real — not just because you can’t fit into your pants or heels anymore.
Check back Friday for Part 2 of These Old Feet, because I am going to show you a line up of cute shoes that will keep you stylish, yet grounded, when you want to wear something other than sneakers.  But, I will also show you some fun sneaks, too!

Using Pinterest to Get You Motivated to Exercise

I have been going to the gym since the 70’s.  Of course, then it was me tagging along with mother so she could workout and I stayed in the kid’s playroom.   I have vivid memories of her wearing black tights and unitard bodysuit and going with her to the Ramada Inn.  The hotel must have offered memberships to the community to use the gym facilities.  The room I got to “play” in consisted of a glass enclosed closet so I could see all the ladies using the equipment…just like this photo of the “Sears Beauty Spa.”  I used to also watch Mother workout with Super Human Jack LaLanne.

My love affair comes and goes with exercise.  It’s like sex…you know you need to do it, but you’ve got to put on gym clothes, get in the car, drive to the gym and after about the first 10 minutes it’s a chore, but once you break a sweat you kinda like it.  After it’s over you want to go back to the gym again because you feel great!  It’s the motivation that’s missing sometimes.  For me, it’s boredom.  I get bored very easily and I like a challenge in my workouts.  When you are working out alone without a coach or accountability partner, it’s hard to push yourself.

About three years ago I met an amazing trainer named Jess.  She would chat with me while I walked on the treadmill, just being friendly and never asked me if I wanted to work out with her.  I think she was just giving me the chance to come to that conclusion on my own.  It dawned on me one day that I was barely breaking a sweat and wondering why I wasn’t achieving my fitness goals.  I thought, “why not work out with a trainer?  How can it hurt?”  We set up an appointment and what started as a business relationship grew into a true friendship.  The best part was I learned to enjoy exercising.  I reached my goals we set.  I pushed my body and found strength I never knew I had.  And I realized that, for me, working out with a personal trainer is the secret to me being consistent with an exercise and nutrition program.

I no longer workout with Jess as she moved away to start her family (we are still friends and stay in touch).  I floundered for a year and half trying to find my “mojo” again in the gym, gained my weight back and then some, and finally decided I needed to get back into a routine.  My new trainer Matt is learning how I am best motivated, that I am pretty strong and identifying ways he can push me to reach my goals.   For example, I like to compete with myself, being timed when I do a set of exercises to see if I can beat my time for the next rep.  It’s dorky, but it works for me.

I love to use Pinterest to find new workout routines.  When I find something I want to try, I will send it to my trainer and pin it to my Workout Ideas board.  Then, the next time I am in the gym Matt will have us try the workouts.  At one point Jess and I were using Pinterest to help her get motivated again after having her baby.  A few times a week I would pin ideas for her to try on her board, then she would do the same for me.  It was always fun to check my board the next morning to see what I had to choose from — We called it “Pin Three, Pick Two.”

I workout with Matt three days a week for a 30-minute session.  I run on the treadmill for 15 minutes before I meet with him, then after our session, I try to do 15 minutes of cardio to finish up — like the rowing machine, the elliptical or the bike.  Since my goal is to try and workout five days a week, the other two days I am responsible for creating my own exercise routine. If it’s a pretty day, I may go for walk, or try a new fitness class (like the other day I tried my very first Spin Class and I loved it!).

Music is a big motivator for me.  If you are trying to find a way to workout, start with a good selection of music.  You know those songs that come on the radio and you suddenly become a rock star?! Start building a playlist.  I have one for “running.”  I play these songs to help motivate me to run on the treadmill. Each song is typically 4 minutes long.  So if you play three songs you have suddenly run 12-15 minutes and you’re done!

 

 

Yesterday was a day I had to figure out what I wanted to accomplish in my gym workout.   The night before, I go through my Pinterest board and find ideas so I know when I arrive into the gym I already have a workout plan. I take my iPad into the gym, lay it out on the floor and follow each exercise until I am finished.  This was the plan — 30 exercises using a stability ball.

There are so many other ideas. Maybe you just want to focus on a certain trouble area.  Then, you might want to try this workout for working out your butt.

Or how about cardio workouts if the idea of running makes you want to hurl?

There’s even great stretching ideas, routines for legs, arms, thighs, back, and lower back strengthening.   I also have a board for Working out with Seniors.  So, basically there is something for everyone.  I have over 570 pins to choose from on my Pinterest board if you are not sure where to start. But, you must start somewhere.  You know there are infinite benefits to committing to an exercise routine.  If working out with a trainer is overwhelming or not in your budget, workout with a buddy, check out DVDs from the library, walk, pick up weights or heavy cans and lift them during commercials.  Here is a great article from the Mayo Clinic on the health benefits of walking.

Here’s the other thing.  It is not fun to think “Ugh.  I need to work out for an hour!”  So, if you are a beginner, get out a calendar and write down the dates you will commit to working out.  Maybe it’s just three days, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday for 15 minutes.  That’s a start.  As you progress, increase the time. Then, increase the days to four a week.  Treat working out like an appointment.  You are more likely to commit to it if it’s on your calendar. I heard it once said, “There has never been a time I haven’t felt amazing after I finished a workout, and if I know that’s always the end result, then it makes me want to stick to my goals.”

We only get one chance at life.  Are you making it the best life possible?

It’s Easy Being Green: How to Make Crunchy Kale Chips

Kale is King of the vegetable world!  But, the thing is you either love it or hate it.  If you pressed the “dislike” button on this topic, let’s talk about why this is quite possibly the best vegetable for you to be incorporating into your diet and I’ll share a super easy way to make Kale Chips that might just convert you to be a life member of Kale Camp.

Looking at the nifty graphic I pinned to my Pinterest Let’s Be Healthy Board you will see kale has more iron than beef, more calcium than milk, and 10 times more Vitamin C.  So, if you don’t eat beef, or consume much calcium and hate spinach then kale is your new best friend.

The seven benefits of kale are:

  • It’s a natural anti-inflammatory with both Omega 3 and 6.
  • It helps to remove toxins from the body.
  • It’s rich in Vitamin C and Beta-Carotene which counteract the damage from free radicals.
  • Contains heart health deluxe!  It is shown to lower cholesterol and increase the ratio of healthy cholesterol by 27%.
  • It’s a natural source of Folate which promotes healthy infant brain development.
  • Contains powerhouse chemicals to prevent cancer cell growth.
  • Has Lutein and Zeaxanthin shown to reduce macular generation and cataracts.
Crunchy Kale Chips

I attended a heart healthy cooking class this week and the chef showed us how to make kale chips.  I picked up a bag of kale from Trader Joe’s and got to work.

Two tips:  Most people say they don’t like kale because it’s tough and chewy.  Two things you want to do with your kale — remove the center, thick stem.  Second, if you are making a salad you can tenderize your kale by tossing it with your hands and really moving it around with a wooden spoon.  This helps to break down the toughness of the greens.

Preheat your oven to 350.  Remove the stem from your kale and break the leaves into small pieces.  The bagged variety I purchased from Trader Joe’s was already torn into pieces, but I had to do the extra step of removing the stem.

Place kale on a cookie sheet.  Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle with course salt and pepper.  Toss so all the kale pieces are covered with oil and seasoning.  Bake for 15-18 minutes.  I tossed it mid-way to help bake the chips evenly.

They were crisp and salty and down right yummy!  Mr. Bee and I munched on them while we were waiting for dinner to be ready.  I only used half the bag of kale and it easily made a cereal bowl full of chips.  I think if you made a few batches of this early in the week and stored them in an airtight container you could have a healthy snack for work or between meals.  Since they are crunchy it might fulfill that need to have chips with a sandwich which would save you easily 200 calories, 10 grams of fat and 15 carbs from eat potato chips.  One cup of kale is only 34 calories and six carbs!

Since March has a green theme with St. Patrick’s Day, here are some links to tasty green food recipes:

I know it’s not easy being green, but if Kermit the Frog can rock it — so can you!

I have more than 100 inspiring tips on health and wellness on my Pinterest board here. Be sure to follow the buzz.

How to Overcome Boredom with Vegetables: Five Easy Recipes

lesueur-peasWhen I was growing up Mother’s repertoire of vegetables consisted of either fresh or canned.  I don’t think she bought much frozen stuff until later on.  Usually the meat always had it’s typical partner something like chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and corn (I still love to mix these two together!).  Meatloaf with canned potatoes and either green beans or peas, but never LeSueur Peas.  I learned when she came to live with me, she would NOT eat tiny green peas.  Do you remember what potatoes out of the can tasted like? Not a fan. But, back in the day when Mother was cooking for six hungry people, two of which were boy teens, canned was easy and cheap.

martha-stewart-vegetablesFast forward, I like to include at least two vegetables at every meal. But, sometimes it gets SO BORING.  We are trying to eliminate corn, peas, carrots and potatoes from our diet due to their high glycemic levels. This means I have to be super creative. I have 143 recipes pinned to my Pinterest board so that’s a good start for inspiration.  Martha Stewart has an all vegetable cookbook that I think might be interesting to try.

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About two weeks of the month, we’ve been using the meal service from Marley Spoon for inspiration on new recipes.  They deliver an insulated cold box with fresh ingredients and recipe cards enough for 2-4 people (depending on the service you select).  It’s been fun to try new recipes and saves me from having to think of what to cook.  I can pick the weeks I want delivery, skip delivery and cancel anytime. They offer about 6-8 menu choices so I get to pick each week what I would like delivered and the day of the week for it to arrive.  I have three free meal coupons, so if you are interested share your email in the comment section below with your email address and I will send one to you (Note:  I am not compensated, it’s just a benefit they offer their long-time customers).

Here are five recipes to get you started next week for vegetables…

Brussels sprouts and scallions.  You can roast these in the oven, but another option is a cast iron skillet (don’t have one — you can also use a regular frying pan).  Wash and dry your Brussel sprouts (as many as you want for each serving), cut the ends off and slice in half.  Slice a scallion in very thin slices.  Heat your skillet over medium high heat with olive or avocado oil. Once the oil is good and hot, toss in the veggies and give a good seasoning with salt and pepper.  Saute until the onions and sprouts are crispy brown about 10 minutes.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Kale Salad with almonds, dates and pecorino from Marley Spoon.  This was yummy and different.  A lot of people think kale is tough and it can be.  The secret is to cut away the stem and toss it with a wooden spoon several times. The more you handle it, the softer it becomes.

roasted-sweet-potato-and-kale-salad

Also from Marley Spooon Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta with red onions and fontina.  We served this with grilled salmon.

roasted-butternut-squash-pastaA recipe from my Pinterest vegetable board is roasted cauliflower and it’s also on my blog here.  It’s lemony and the parmesan cheese makes it have a crispy finish. Seriously, if cauliflower isn’t your bestie after this, you are not human.

oven-roasted-cauliflower

And this recipe you can find here on my blog for Lick the Pan Garlic Butter Mushrooms.  If a steak is in you future, you must have these mushrooms be their date.  Omg.

mushrooms

So, there you go.  I’ve given you a lot of material — butternut squash, kale, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

Move over LeSueur lovers.  Now, go forth and wow your family!

The Health Benefits of Epsom Salt

epsom-salt-copyGrowing up, I always remember a box of epsom salt in our bathroom cabinet.  When my parents came to live with us, along came their trusty epsom salt.  I just thought this was an “old people” remedy and didn’t give it much thought.  After Mother died and I was going through her belongings, I put her boxes of epsom salt in the garage never giving them another thought.  I thought since Mr. Bee is 10 years older than me, he could find the salts helpful.

After a long week of work recently, I read that epsom salt — which is Magnesium Sulfate — was a great remedy for tired, achy feet.  Knowing I had a stock of it, I made myself a foot bath with a nice tub of hot water, essential oil and the salts.  I soaked my feet while I read the back of the salts box.  I have to say, my feet felt so much better afterward and I couldn’t believe all the health benefits and uses for the salts.  I found a great article on 21 Uses for Epsom Salts from Wellness Mama (always consult with your health care provider first when trying something new).

uses-for-epsom-salt

  • Simple First Aid — takes the sting out of insect bites and draws out splinters
  • Soak away tiredness and soreness
  • Soaking aid for minor sprains and bruises
  • Soothe away stress (add essential oils like lavendar to your bath water)
  • Deep clean skin and pores
  • Provides soothing relief from arthritic pain
  • Warm and comfort muscle aches
  • Use it to water your house plants and vegetables
  • You can make a homemade sea salt spray for your hair
  • Use it to get rid of slugs (I remember doing this as a kid)
  • As a laxative for the short-term relief of constipation
  • Headache relief (my doctor has me trying it for migraine relief and it has helped so far)
  • Sunburn relief
  • Great for kid’s bath time to help them get a good night sleep

Here’s why Magnesium is so good for our body…

magnesium-benefits-and-uses

Read here for a more detailed explanation as to why Magnesium is important in the healthy function of our bodies.  Something as simple as a $3 box of this natural mineral has so many health benefits.  I guess Mother did know best.

Tomato, Avocado and Cucumber Summer Fresh Salad

cucumber tomato avocado saladI found this recipe for Tomato, Avocado and Cucumber salad on Pinterest about a month ago and I cannot stop making it.  First of all it’s easy to prepare, it keeps for several days in the refrigerator, and the ingredients are plentiful right now at farmer’s markets.  I had a friend who returned from a long trip and I filled a mason jar full of this salad along with a brisket Mr. Bee smoked and the Cream Cheese Lemonade pie from here, and welcomed her home with dinner!

Recipe courtesy of Natasha’s Kitchen:

1 lb Roma tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 English cucumber, sliced and cut in halves
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
2 avocados, diced
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or sunflower oil
Juice of 1 medium lemon (about 2 Tbsp)
1/4 cup (1/2 bunch) cilantro, chopped*
1 tsp sea salt or 3/4 tsp table salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
*Note: if you aren’t keen on cilantro, fresh dill is a good substitute

Mix everything in the bowl and chill for a few hours before serving.  I substituted limes for the lemons and used avocado oil instead of olive oil.

You can pretty much eat this with anything.  We’ve eaten it with brisket, chicken kebabs, hamburgers.  It is so fresh and perfect for summer!

In a Jif – Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

lean smoothie powderI enjoy smoothies as a boost in the morning or a low-calorie snack in the afternoon when I’m craving something sweet.  My friend and trainer, Jess, got me started on Xyngular Lean Protein Powder.  It mixes really well with water to serve up only 44 calories per shake with 10 grams of protein.  I add in either 4-5 strawberries or a 1/2 of a banana, and about 1/4 cup of ice.

I cram all the ingredients into my Magic Bullet mixer which conveniently comes with mugs and lids so it’s portable.  Costco and Kohl’s always run great sales on the magic bullet.magic bullet

Here’s something new I have been adding…peanut powder.  I know it’s been around a while and there are great brands out there, but when I saw that Jif was launching their version, I thought I would give it a try.

peanutbutter powder

 

It’s only 70 calories per serving and 1 gram of sugar!  Much less than creamy peanut butter. I added the plain variety (it also comes in chocolate peanut powder which would be awesome with strawberries, I think!) to my smoothie and it was very tasty. I added 2 TBL (a serving is 3 TBL) and it was pretty intense.  Very nutty, not sweet.  But, I think next time I would probably try only adding 1 TBL.  You can also just mix it with water to make spreadable peanut butter.  The bag says it can be added to recipes, too.

It’s $5.89 a bag so it is more expensive than jarred peanut butter, but less expensive than other competitors.  The manager at Albertson’s was very kind to help me find it in the store.  He said right now they are not stocking it in the peanut butter aisle, but near the frozen fruit to inspire people to make smoothies.  Not to be bossy, or anything, but I suggested he might want to re-visit this merchandising choice because the freezer section was the last place I would look for peanut butter.  He agreed.

Give it a try and let me know how you mix it into your smoothie.