Exercise, Who Has The Time? 5 easy steps to help you stay on track!

I know I’m not the only one in the world who struggles to fit in exercise everyday. It only takes up about an hour’s worth of time, give or take, so why is it so hard to find the time?! It used to be one of my go-to excuses for not working out when I was just starting my weight-loss journey. I put social obligations above that of my health. Looking back now, I find it quite ridiculous that I could find time to go out to eat/for drinks with friends, go shopping, see a movie, etc. but somehow couldn’t find one hour out of the day to work out.

In my humble opinion, exercising should be one of the top-most priorities in your life. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind and spirit. I truly believe that because I have experienced it first hand. When I exercise it helps me deal with daily stressors in my life, makes me feel more confident, helps me to sleep better, and makes me more conscious about what foods I am eating. You only get one body in your lifetime so why not make sure it is a good, fit body? One that will let you go all the places you want to go and do all of the amazing and active things you want to do!

Below are some tips that I have found to help me find time in my schedule, every single day, to workout. I may not go to the gym everyday and workout for an hour, but I always workout in some capacity be it walking my dog or doing stretches at home while watching tv.

5 Steps to Fitness:

  1. Get your workout in before starting your day. I have found this to be SUPER helpful in keeping me on track with my workout regimen. If I get it in before going to work I have no excuse later in the day to miss it (such as being tired, plans coming up out of the blue, etc.). Yes, it is hard to wake up early but I always feel so energized by the time I get to work that I am far more productive and alert! This may even lead to you getting that promotion you’ve been eyeing!
  2. Try to get 10,000 steps a day. I have a fitbit that helps me to track my daily activity which I find very motivating and awesome! I try to get 10,000 steps a day in, even on gym days. I happen to have a semi-active job that has me walking all around the lab which is helpful in getting to the 10,000 mark. If you have to sit at a desk all day, get up and walk at lunch or take mid-day breaks to walk around the office parking lot. Park farther away. Take the stairs. Every little bit counts!! Note: 10,000 steps is equivalent to 5 miles!
  3. Track your calories and macros daily. I have found that when tracking my food intake it makes me more conscious just how much, or how little, I have moved throughout the day. Many food diary and fitness tracker apps you can get for free on your smartphone. This will help you stay on track with your diet as well as your fitness goals!
  4. Grab a buddy to workout with. Working out with a partner is great, especially for those just starting out. It provides motivation and accountability even when the last thing you want to do is be active. Plus, it makes it a lot more fun!!
  5. Head outdoors or to the pool. Working out doesn’t have to be boring all the time. Heading outside to try a new sport or hiking trail not only is good for the soul (and vitamin D levels) it will help you to be more versatile in your workouts thereby making you stronger and more fit overall. If hiking isn’t your thing try tennis, swimming, biking…they are all great workouts! Switch up your routine and you will break through that plateau in no time!

Let me know in the comments what tips you will be trying and if you have any other fitness tips to share!!

Chocolate-Banana Protein Muffins

closeupmuffineAnother quick recipe for you all today!! I have been on a baking binge this week. Besides shattering a brand new glass baking dish in a brownie attempt to celebrate a coworkers graduation (word to the wise: never put a glass dish onto a hot burner on the stove by accident, haha!)…it has been very successful!

These muffins were delish and taste like a nice warm slice of banana bread (one of my favorites if you can’t tell!). What’s great about these is that they contain no oil, flour or butter in the entire recipe! My husband loves them. He actually requested that I make these for him to bring to work for a quick, healthy snack. These muffins are about 60 calories each, 1g fat, 7g protein, 1g sugar, and 2g fiber!! AMAZING for a muffin with this much flavor! I chose to bake larger muffins vs. mini muffins but you obviously can vary the size as much as you want, modifying cooking times accordingly.

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I got the majority of this recipe off of Dashing Dish’s blog while browsing Pinterest. I did change a couple items to suit what I had on hand (chocolate protein powder vs. vanilla being a major one) but feel free to follow the link above to check out the original! Be sure to check out her blog as she has tons of great recipes and workouts on there!

TIP: You will need to bake these in foil muffin tin liners (DO NOT USE PAPER as they will stick very badly due to the oats) or grease your muffin tin well prior to adding the batter.

Chocolate-Banana Protein Muffinsprotein muffines1

Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup egg whites (about 3 large egg’s whites separated)
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar (may substitute with 1/4 cup stevia baking blend or 1/2 cup choice of whatever measures/tastes similar to sugar)
  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat greek yogurt
  • 2 scoops chocolate protein powder
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease muffin in with coconut oil or non-stick cooking spray or use foil muffin tin liners.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or powerful blender and blend/pulse until smooth.
  4. Pour into muffin tin, dividing evenly. Add chocolate chips (as many as you would like. I used 3 per muffin) to top of batter.
  5. Place into oven and bake approximately 12-18 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

 

One Pot Sesame Chicken Stir-Fry

sesame chickenHi there! I was super busy yesterday working overtime and went to the gym after work (because it was snowing in the morning here!) SO I didn’t feel like cooking much for dinner. Luckily I had some chicken in the fridge and some frozen broccoli to save the day!

I was loving this a lot last night because it only used ONE POT. That’s it. Clean-up was a breeze! I got finished cooking dinner and doing the dishes in more than enough time to watch one of my favorite shows – that’s a pretty great night to me!

This is a great way to use up leftover chicken breasts you might have lying around along with any extra veggies you have on hand. Stir-fry is a great weeknight recipe because it is so fast and easy to throw together. It is very nutritious with the wide variety of vegetables you can use in it as well as lean protein. Don’t be afraid to try it – you will love it!

For this recipe I marinated the chicken in soy sauce, honey, pepper, salt, cumin, a little bit of hot sauce, and garlic powder to give it a lot of the asian style flavor I was craving. I let it sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes prior to cooking for maximum flavor. It was delicious!!

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TIP: If only cooking for two simply reduce the amount of chicken to 2 chicken breasts. That is what we ended up cooking but I increased the amounts to serve a family vs. two people so you would have leftovers 🙂 !

Sesame Chicken Stir-Fry

Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless skin-less chicken breasts, cut into 1-2 in. cubes
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp. organic honey
  • 2 Tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 Tbsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 Tbsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 1 (16oz.) package frozen broccoli
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch rounds

Directions:

  1. Combine first 7 ingredients (only 1 Tbsp. soy sauce and 1/2 Tbsp. honey) into plastic bag or bowl, seal and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.
  2. In large saucepan over medium heat, add chicken, 1 Tbsp. soy sauce and 1/2 Tbsp. honey. Stir very little (to allow the liquid to caramelize onto chicken to create a crisper outer layer) until cooked through. Remove from pan, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and set aside.
  3. Add broccoli, onion, garlic, and carrots to same pan, cover, and cook just until tender. Add chicken back into pan to bring to temperature then remove from heat and serve over brown rice or quinoa with additional soy sauce and/or hot sauce. Enjoy!

Chicken Parmesan

parm5Who doesn’t love a good chicken parmesan?! I mean, juicy chicken smothered in gooey cheese and hot, savory marinara sauce…how could you NOT like that? I bet your mouth is watering right now. Know how I know? Because mine is too.

Look at the cheese hanging off the chicken, mmmm!
Look at the cheese hanging off the chicken, mmmm!

This recipe came upon me one night due to a lack of groceries. I had some chicken breasts, mozzarella and canned tomatoes so I decided to try to make chicken parm-only healthier! I had previously never made it before because I always associated chicken parm with high calorie and fat content, which in my mind meant that I couldn’t, or shouldn’t, eat it. I was wrong in that mindset though and that was a learning lesson for me. I now know that any recipe can be made healthy with a few tweaks!

We served ours over spaghetti squash as to reduce the amount of carbs and calories in the meal.

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Chicken Parmesan

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:parm1

  • 1 can diced tomatoes, no-salt added
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 cup water (more if you want the sauce less dense)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 medium onion, minced
  • 1/4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/4 Tbsp. oregano
  • 1 1/4 Tbsp. basil
  • 4 balls of fresh mozzarella, sliced in half
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup dry panko breadcrumbs

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
  2. In small bowl add breadcrumbs, 1/4 Tbsp. basil, 1/4 Tbsp. oregano, pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  3. In separate small bowl place egg whites, dredging chicken, one piece at a time, through egg whites and then through breadcrumb mixture, coating evenly.
  4. Place chicken in 8×13 baking dish and bake approximately 20-30 minutes, taking out of oven just shy of it being completely cooked through.
  5. In medium saucepan over medium heat, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Add water until desired consistency and thickness of sauce is reached or about 1 cup. Simmer on low heat approximately 10-20 minutes. 
  6. Once chicken has almost cooked throughly, take out of oven, top first with heaping ladel-full of sauce and then with mozzarella. Place back in oven about 5-10 min. or until cheese is melted and chicken is cooked through.
  7. Serve over whole-wheat pasta or spaghetti squash and enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

bb3Have any bruised or almost expired bananas lying around? This is the perfect recipe to use them up! It only requires two ripened bananas (a few other ingredients) and a little bit of your time.

Regular banana bread can add up to a hefty amount of calories and fat and leave you feeling guilty. Well lucky for you, there is no guilt about this bread! It has all that ooey, gooeyness and rich banana taste that you desire when eating a slice of chocolate chip banana bread but is low in fat and calories.

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My suggestion is to make two loaves so that you can keep one, and if you can part with the other bring it to work for coworkers to enjoy. I brought some into my work and everybody loved it!

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Eating it warm out of the oven is required…absolutely required!

 bb2
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup organic coconut flour
  • 3/4 Tbsp. baking soda
  • 2 ripened bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. raw organic honey
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Tbsp. unrefined organic coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
  • 1/3-1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix first three dry ingredients together in large bowl, set aside.
  3. In separate bowl mix the remaining wet ingredients together and whisk until well combined. Slowly add in dry ingredients to the wet ingredients a little at a time, stirring constantly, until well combined.
    1. Note: Mixture will soak up most of the liquid and start to stick together.
  4. Pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake for about 20-30 minutes until top is browned and batter is firm to the touch. Let cool before covering and enjoy!!