Monday, July 21, 2014

Paleo Chocolate Energy Balls

This post is sponsored by Puritan's Pride.

Post-workout, fueling a long run, or just something quick and easy to throw in my diaper bag for a long day of shopping with my kids: this recipe is perfect. There are only 4 ingredients and these are beyond easy to make. Plus, they are Paleo, vegan, 100% real food... and? Delicious!

Paleo Chocolate Energy Balls
1 1/2 cups All Natural Pitted Dates (about 35-40 dates)

Add all ingredients into your food processor and blend 3 to 5 minutes on low (until smooth).

Scoop out 1/2 Tablespoon portions and form into balls. (For snacks for my kids I usually do 1 Tablespoon size.)

Makes about 32 - 1/2 Tablespoon sized balls.

If you need an even denser source of fuel (if you want to carry less or are training more intensely, etc) you can add 1 or 2 Tablespoons of Raw Organic Honey to this.

What's your favorite real-food run/workout fuel?? Let me know if you try these!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Review: Caveman Cookies

Disclaimer: I was sent the following product by Puritan's Pride. As always opinions are 100% honest and my own. Ingredients and nutrition facts are taken from the packaging I have. As such things can change be sure to read your own labels. 

Ok, so cavemen did not likely have cookies, but folks following the Paleo diet sometimes get a hankering for something sweet and cookie-like. When I saw these I had to try them.

I'm a firm believer that Paleo treats should be just that: treats. That said, treats like these definitely have a place in my family's pantry.

These range from 130 to 150 calories for 2 cookies and 10 to 14 grams of sugar.

From my most favorite (the top 3 are pretty much tied for most-favorite) to least:

Ingredients: maple syrup, organic honey, almond meal, pecan meal, dried cranberries (cranberries, apple juice concentrate, sunflower oil), pumpkin seeds, spices
Ingredients: organic honey, almond meal, walnuts, raisins, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon
Ingredients: honey, almond meal, brazil nut meal, chopped almonds, dried cherries (cherries, sunflower oil), nutmeg, cayenne pepper

Ingredients: almond meal, organic honey, unsulfured coconut, macadamia nuts, ginger
Ingredients: organic honey, almond meal, raw cacao powder, cashews, chia seeds, pure vanilla extract, cinnamon, chili powder
Ingredients: organic honey, hazelnut meal, almond meal, ground carob
My Thoughts
I liked these. Make no mistake, these do not taste anything like a traditional cookie. But if you're Paleo and craving something sweet I think you'll appreciate the taste and the clean ingredients. To me the first three taste like a cross between a chewy oatmeal cookie and a larabar-like concoction. The Tropical taste like a chewy coconut cookie. The Mayan and Alpine I can't quite explain...

I madly loved the New World, Original, and Rainforest. I liked the Tropical and Mayan. The Alpine weren't a favorite.

My only complaint would be they are a bit too sweet. Now, that's me and my sugar-detoxed taste buds. Just be aware that honey or maple syrup is the first ingredient in most.

Overall, I loved them, my husband loved them, my kids loved the first three kinds I listed...

We'll buy them and I would recommend them as a Paleo treat.

Have you ever tried these?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Vanilla Maple Iced Coffee

It's no secret that I'm madly in love with coffee. Hot coffee, iced coffee, plain coffee, flavored coffee, espresso, latte, cappuccino... you name it I want to marinate in it.

People often ask me if coffee is Paleo. My answer: maybe not strict Paleo, but I. Don't. Care. Cavemen did NOT drink coffee some declare. To this I reply: I am convinced that cavepeople of my ancestral line were roasting beans, crushing them, and pouring hot water over them thousands of years ahead of their time. 

OK, but seriously, I am Paleo because of the benefits I have seen eating this way. My food choices are more about how a food affects me than whether or not a caveman consumed it. Also, generally speaking, I think most people drink coffee on Paleo.

Whether or not coffee itself is Paleo, the things we add to it can be absolutely NOT Paleo. I am definitely known to splurge on a (non-Paleo) Starbucks now and then, but most of the time I prefer to keep my coffee concoctions Paleo. 

This iced-coffee recipe is my new obsession. It's not only delicious, but Paleo-friendly, and only about 50 calories!

1/2 Cup Vanilla Chameleon Cold-Brew
1 Cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze
1 teaspoon Organic Grade B Maple Syrup (optional)

Pour all ingredients over ice and stir.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Do Something Different

I think this was FitBloggin '11?
I love this time of year. Fitbloggin season. While I was unable to attend this year I still loved following everyone's instagram and facebook feeds, but most of all: I love the aftermath.

So many people on fire again. On fire for their blogging, fitness, and general healthy living. On fire for each other and this awesome community. I love watching people connecting and reconnecting with blogging friends. There's so much support, encouragement, and just I-get-you understanding. It's a great atmosphere to be a part of.

I've been perusing post-fitbloggin posts. Fitbloggin recaps as well as many posts on accountability, tough love, new starts, re-committing to their goals...

I love this time of year. It always inspires me to reignite my passion for blogging, fitness, and healthy living as well. 

I've been struggling since finishing the 21 Day Fix. It sort of messed with my mind a little. Brought back a bit of the old obsessive feeling. I took some time off, dealt with some life stuff, back-slid a little, and well? Enough is enough.

Time to do something different.

What I've been doing since finishing Ultimate Booty Workouts is not working for me. I took a hard look at what I have been doing and started searching for something different. I found Kelly Coffey-Meyer's workouts and was impressed. They are just the something different I was looking for!

I reached out to Kelly (something I don't often do these days, that's how smitten I was with the You Tube previews) and she sent me these DVDs.
I'm putting together a 6 week calendar of the 30 Minute to Fitness DVDs, plus some runs, and will start today (no more waiting for Monday to start!). I'll share my workout calendar and 'before' stats next week for anyone interested. My focus will be weights and of course consistency. That is what I've lacked the past few weeks.

As far as my eating goes, it's been OK, but not where it needs to be for me to see the results I want. I contemplated doing a Whole 30 or a 21 Day Sugar Detox, but decided I wanted to try something different here as well. What I need most is, again, consistency. As well as accountability. I'll be keeping it clean Paleo, but my main focus will be on sharing my food choices on instagram more. I think it will be an easy way to keep myself on track and accountable. (Call me out if I start slacking! #justtrollin #tribelove)

I'm excited for something different. Changing things up is always a good thing!

PS Fitbloggin is in DENVER in 2015!! Who's coming to hang out with me??

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Paleo Banana Bread Recipe + A Paleo Baking Essentials Giveaway!

This post is sponsored by Puritan’s Pride.

There is just nothing like the smell of banana bread baking. It smells like home to me! I have such fond childhood memories of my mom’s fresh baked banana bread. She made the. Best. Banana bread. Ever.

When we went Paleo I was pretty apprehensive about tackling a banana bread recipe. I just didn't think I could do it justice. But I missed it, and so I set to work at converting my mom's recipe to being Paleo-friendly.

If I do say so myself: it turned out pretty tasty...

Paleo Banana Bread
2 ½ cups Natural Almond Meal (You want unblanched. Yes, it makes a difference.)
2 Eggs
3 medium, very ripe Bananas
1 Tablespoon Raw Organic Honey
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
Pinch Sea Salt

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9 inch bread pan heavily with coconut oil.

Beat the eggs. Next, add in everything but the almond meal and mix with a hand mixer for about a minute, or until smooth and well combined. Stir in the almond meal.

Transfer batter to your greased bread pan and bake for about 55-60 minutes (until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean).

**If you are a banana nut bread fan (it’s OK, we can still be friends) you can add in a ½ cup chopped walnuts when you stir in the almond meal.

Let me know if you try it!

I know first-hand that Paleo baking can be a challenge when you first start out, but I have found that having the right products in my pantry is key.

Win my favorite Paleo baking essentials from Puritan's Pride!
  One lucky entrant will win:
Organic Ground Ginger
Ground Nutmeg
Coconut Oil
Ground Cloves
Organic Saigon Cinnamon
Organic Cocoa Powder
Natural Almond Meal
Organic Raw Honey
Almond Flour
Vanilla Extract

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 19, 2014

My Thoughts on Beachbody's 21 Day Fix

I must confess: I've never met a Beachbody program I wasn't head over heels in love with. Until now...

The 21 Day Fix was a big thumbs down for me.

I'm not going to share my before and after pics for this program, because you can tell no difference. I lost 2.5 pounds. To be fair it's only 3 weeks. One should not expect miracles for that amount of time (even though it does seem to be marketed that way). I'm perfectly happy with 2.5 pounds. If I chose to stick with this program I could see myself losing a pound a week on it.

But I just don't love it enough to stick with it! I'm honestly glad to be done.

What I loved:

  • The trainer. I really enjoyed Autumn Calabrese as a trainer. 
  • The modifier. Seriously, can we have the modifier of these workouts do a beginner set? Loved her. I would say one upside of these workouts is that they are completely beginner accessible because of the modifications shown.
  • Several of the individual workouts. I loved a couple of the individual workouts (especially the extra DVD Plyo Fix) and can see myself doing them regularly in the future.
  • The focus on building healthy habits. The program is designed to be 3 weeks of building the habits of working out and proper portions. LOVE that.
  • Random, but the way Autumn explained a sumo squat finally clicked for me. I've been doing them slightly wrong!

What I didn't love:

  • The built in commercials. There's a commercial for Shakeology, or their multivitamin at the beginning and end of every workout! You can skip past them (thank goodness), but still annoying. They also display Shakeology and talk about it in most of the workouts. Call me crazy, but if I pay for a workout that's just too much advertising!
  • The way the workouts were scheduled. I hurt my shoulder by day 3. I'm in no way blaming this program for my injury, these things happen. I'm an experienced exerciser, but day 1 you do cardio holding handweights and day 2 is upper body?! I tweaked my shoulder and had to modify the entire rest of the program and it still hurts. Just not a fan of the way the workouts are set out for this program.
  • The lighter weight, higher rep workouts. For most of these workouts you will do reps for 1 minute. I'm just not a fan of these type of workouts in general. It was probably good for me though, to shake things up. However, I prefer to go heavier with weights and lower on reps.
  • The calorie burn for the workouts. Of course everyone is different, but I like to see at least 300-400 calories burnt per workout for workouts of this length. For me these came in at 200-250 most days. In fact, the 400 calorie burn per workout they have you use in your calorie calculations is super high for me. Only in 1 of the workouts did I even top 300 calories burned (and that was the Plyo Fix extra DVD).
  • The food plan. I think it's great in theory, but in practice I hated it. It wasn't enough fat or protein for me and I was hungry and cranky. In fact, even though my calculations set me at just under 1700 calories I found upon tracking days that I often wound up at 1250-1400 calories. It's very easy to come in too low in calories depending on what you fill your containers with. I did not expect to need to count calories/track food on top of this. I wound up adding 1 or 2 proteins and a fat per day. It also turned out to be pretty inconvenient. I just didn't like it.
  • The cost. I really thought it was a decent deal if you bought the challenge pack, but after doing this program I've changed my mind. I definitely would not buy this again.
  • Not 100% related to the program, but the 'faked' before and after pics that are everywhere for this program. They're driving me nuts! I've seen 2 types: 1. The before pic where the person is hunching over and poking their tummy out and then the after pic the person is standing up super straight, shoulders back, and sucking their tummy in. 2. Where the person has clearly done several round to get their results.

I just didn't enjoy the program as a whole. Completely personal preference. It seems like a good solid program and I think it would benefit some people, but I personally just didn't like it.

So, hype or help? I'm going to have to say there's some help in there, but it's layered under a whole lot of hype! Bottom line: there are better programs out there. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Body After Baby Update! 10 Months Postpartum

I wanted to do a quick update for those following along with my Body After Baby series. I'm updating per program now, but wanted to talk more generally about the whole losing the baby weight process for me.

What a process it's been!

3 weeks postpartum
It was very strange being back at the beginning of a weight loss journey again. It was much more taxing mentally and physically than I'd anticipated. "Pffft, I've got this. I've been here before. No big deal!" I thought. Ya, not so much. I found myself battling old demons like negative self-talk and emotional eating. What the?! Oh yes, and sleep deprivation messed with me way more this time around!

With fitness, I must confess: I went in circles the first 7 months post-baby. I'd try the same tough/intense workouts I loved pre-baby (tabata, HIIT, plyo, sprints...) only to realize my fitness level wasn't there yet. Then, I'd get frustrated and quit. Around and around like that I went. 

My eating was always Paleo, but I did terribly with my portion control. Yes, you can eat too much good Paleo food and thwart your fat loss efforts!

Around and around I went. Up a few pounds, down a few pounds. Completely lacking in consistency. 

Finally, I woke up and realized that I needed to do 2 things: 1. take baby steps back with my fitness and 2. focus on consistency

Searching for more beginner level DVDs I fell in love with Leslie Sansone DVDs. I made myself build my fitness level back slowly. I also made myself suck it up and dig out my lighter weights. It was tough! But it was exactly the right thing to do.

7 months postpartum
It took a while to build myself back to the heavy lifting and intense cardio that I love. But it was worth it! All those stops and starts were definitely never going to get me to my goal. 

Once I had a bit of my fitness built back I wanted to feel strong again! I started Ultimate Booty Workouts and focused on being consistent with my workouts and eating. Consistency paid off...

10 months postpartum

So, here I am. Almost 11 months postpartum and I'd hoped to be 'done' by a year postpartum. Ah well, I'll get there...

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hype or Help? BeachBody's 21 Day Fix #21dayfix

If you're like me you've seen all the 21 Day Fix hoopla and thought: hmm, is it really that good? Well, I've decided to put it to the test and find out!

I started Beachbody's 21 Day Fix on Monday and will be doing the entire plan for the next 3 weeks. Workouts, meal plan, the full meal deal.

Oh, and I'm not a Beachbody Coach. I like to say that up front. No bias here. I am not trying to sell you anything and don't care if you buy it. Just sharing my experiences and results with the program; then I'll review it at the end.

Getting started with the 21 Day Fix
Everything that comes with the 21 Day Fix
The Workouts
For the 21 Day Fix you are working out for 30 minutes, 7 days a week. You're doing yoga on Sundays, so not having a complete rest day isn't a huge deal-breaker for me. Plus, it's only 3 weeks! The workouts are a variety of cardio and strength training. There's also a great modifier shown, so it can really be beginner friendly.

The Meal Plan
The meal plan is based on portion control using the colorful containers that come with the program. As I said in my unboxing video, the containers are smaller than I thought they'd be. However, in getting started with the plan I now have a better understanding. I think I was somehow imagining fitting your meals in these dinky containers! No. They are more like measuring cups to measure out your protein, greens, fruit, etc. I find them to be normal-sized portions.

You start out by doing some calculations based on your current weight. This will give you a result that plugs you into one of their set calorie ranges (though it's not necessary to track calories on this plan; that's what the containers are for). From there it gives you how many of each color container you get each day. I get: 4 green, 3 purple, 4 red, 3 yellow, 1 blue, 1 orange, and 4 teaspoons (you have to provide your own) each day.

In general the container colors mean:
  • The green container is for veggies
  • The purple containers is for fruit 
  • The red container is for your proteins
  • The yellow container measures your carbs (being Paleo my option here is mostly sweet potatoes since I don't eat grains) 
  • The blue is for things like avocadoes, nuts, and cheese 
  • The orange is for seeds, olives, coconut, etc
  • The teaspoon (again, you provide your own, it doesn't come with one) is for oils, nut butters, etc

I was excited to find the meal plan easily adaptable for my Paleo preferences! It does seem like it may be a bit less fat and protein than I'm used to, but I've only done 2 days. For my final review I will track a few days in My Fitness Pal to see where I come out.

I weighed and measured (and took pics) at the end of Ultimate Booty last Sunday and started the Fix Monday.

My 21 Day Fix Beginning Stats:
Weight: 184
Bust: 42
Right Upper Arm: 12.5 
Waist: 34
Hips: 42
Right Calf: 13.75

So... 21 Day Fix: Hype or Help? Let's find out!

UPDATE: Final Thoughts/Review

Feel free to share links to my posts or to pin them, but do not re-post them (or my images) on your blog, Tumblr, or any other website (or publication). Please understand that blogging is my livelihood. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Ultimate Booty Workouts Results + Before and After Pics

I have to say that I really enjoyed this workout program. I never got bored with it and it always kept me challenged. And the results? Well, they speak for themselves...

My before and after Ultimate Booty Workouts stats:

Before-194.5 After 184

Before-44 After 42
Before-36.5 After 34
Before-44 After 42
Right Calf 
Before-14.5 After 13.75
Clothing size 
Before-13/14 After 11/12

I felt a little weird in a tank and shorts for these. I've never done progress pictures this way, but I'm so glad that I did!

My before and after Ultimate Booty Workout pics:

Another reminder to me on how the scale doesn't tell the whole story.
There's only 10 pounds difference here. Is it just me, or does it look like more?

Needless to say I'm pretty excited for these results! To be honest I'd hoped for more than 10.5 pounds in 12 weeks (I was aiming at a pound a week), but the pictures say it all. I am seeing a major difference in my clothing too. I started out with my 13/14's shorts being a tad loose. I then went through my 12's and am now in 11/12's (we all know how clothing sizes vary, but these were still too small when I was in the regular 12's). I'd say I lost almost 2 sizes. Considering I've been going up a few pounds, down a few pounds since having Baby O. I am beyond happy to see these results.

My goal with Ultimate Booty was to feel stronger and lose a little fat. I'd say mission accomplished.

Oh yes, and maybe you can't tell in the pics, but my butt looks better too. ;)


Friday, April 25, 2014

Learning to Listen to My Body. Even When I Don't Like What it's Saying...

Years ago I was very unhealthy and I was also quite oblivious. I was completely disconnected from my body. It was screaming at me, but I wasn't listening. 

Throughout my weight loss journey the biggest thing I learned is to listen to my body. 

I was shocked what my body taught me simply from paying attention. Certain foods do not agree with me at all. Staying hydrated energizes me; likewise being dehydrated makes me feel like a slug. Intense workouts make me feel like a superhero; they give me energy, not take it like I'd assumed. 

I had no idea! I wasn't paying attention. The list of what I've learned about myself is long and still growing, but the skill of listening to my body is priceless.

Paying attention is the best thing I've ever done for myself. Hands down.

Speaking of paying attention...

A few years ago I ran a marathon. I followed some generic training plan, which was way too much running for me, and hurt my hip. I then ran said marathon on said hurt hip. I wasn't listening to my body and it was a disaster. 

However, I learned a lot about myself, my body, and what it takes to be race-ready. I learned I need less mileage and I learned the difference between simple soreness from running and injuries that I needed to stop and take care of. 

Since then I've learned that if I lovingly take care of my body it will still get to where I want it to be, doing what I want it to do. Maybe on a different time-frame, but it will get there. More importantly, it will get there injury free.

Reality check!

My hip has been acting up since January, and oddly I found myself not wanting to listen. Wanting to ignore it and press on. Needless to say I had to give myself a talking to.

I'm listening. 

I'm being proactive and backing off on mileage, adding in helpful supplements, and adding in strengthening and stretching exercises that I know help.

Sadly, I won't be running the T9K in Boulder like I'd planned. However tough it is for me to sign up for a race and not run it, I have learned my lesson and I know it's far more important that I take care of myself.

Do you struggle with listening to your body? How about when it says what you don't want to hear?!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Review: Jillian Michaels One Week Shred

When I first saw Jillian Michaels latest DVD release on Amazon I immediately hated it. Just being honest. It looked gimmicky. It touted (what I feel are) unrealistic expectations. It splashily declared things like: "Lose up to 7 Pounds in 7 Days" and "Need to crash your weight loss for a special upcoming event..." Marketing. Blah, blah, blah.

I wasn't a fan. 

But I had people asking me about it and whether I'd review it. I know I always review Jillian's stuff and people expect to find those reviews here on FitViews, so I ordered it. Fully intending to continue to hate it.


I don't hate it! As a workout that is. As a 7 day "crash", meh, not so sure, but as a workout I think it's pretty good. OK, let's get into the review...

From the back of the DVD:
Need to crash your weight loss for a special upcoming event--high school reunion, wedding, party, beach vacation in a bikini, etc.? Jillian Michaels new DVD One Week Shred has you covered. It's a comprehensive one-week diet and exercise plan to help you lose those last few stubborn pounds you've been dying to shed so you look insane and feel amazing.

For this workout you will need:
Weights (they use 3 lb weights)

For the One Week Shred you will workout twice a day: Strength training in the morning and cardio in the evening. The diet plan is approximately 1000-1100 calories per day.

Strength Portion
The strength workout on One Week Shred is approximately 35 minutes (it includes a warm-up and stretch at the end). Actual run-time is 39 minutes, but Jillian jabbers a bit at the beginning and the end. The workout is broken into 4 circuits; you'll do each circuit twice. As part of the One Week Shred you would do it daily, in the AM.

While they show light 3 lb weights (if you're supposed to do this every day I see why!), the lightest weights I own are 8 lbs so I used those. I found the first circuit fairly easy, but by circuit number 2 I was seriously wishing I had 3's or 5's. Especially on some of the balancing on one leg moves. If I were to do this every day I would definitely go for light weights.

Lots of variety of moves here. Balancing, core, compound moves... 

It's a good strength workout, but definitely not the toughest Jillian strength workout I've ever done. For it's purpose of being done daily I can understand why that is. I like to take a rest day in between weights workouts. I'm no expert, but I personally wouldn't do this every day past the week she recommends.

My calorie burn:

Cardio portion
The cardio portion of this DVD is broken into 3 circuits; you will do each circuit twice. It lasts 34 minutes (including the stretch) and there is no warm-up. As part of the One Week Shred plan you would do it in the PM, every day.

I really enjoyed this portion of the DVD. It is intense! Back-to-back-to-back tough moves. I only had to modify one move: the one-armed burpee (I mean, seriously?!). It was a tough, calorie torcher and I love that in a workout.

In the future I'll likely add a bit of a warm-up of my own to this.

My calorie burn:

Meal Plan
Honestly, the meal plan is why I decided NOT to blog through this. I know it's only 7 days, but I have no urge to cut my calories that low. It's also not very Paleo friendly. 

It is however pretty balanced and I know a lot of people could stick to it for a week. Especially if it's for some special event. My one concern would be people trying to take this beyond 7 days. Just don't do it kids!

Final Thoughts
I liked this DVD. Especially the cardio portion; loved that. I really see myself adding it into my rotation. 

One Week Shred is a good, solid workout. I wouldn't recommend it to absolute beginners (Even though modified moves are shown, there's lots of crazy moves. Especially in the strength portion.) or anyone with injuries or physical limitations, but anyone intermediate to advanced will definitely get a good workout here.

It's not a must-have in my opinion though. I definitely prefer some of her other DVDs to this one. However, if you're like me and love Jillian workouts you'll want to add this one to your collection. For the cardio portion alone I'm glad I bought it.

NOW, as far as the "One Week Shred" crashing an event thing... meh. I'm just not big on that in general, but I'm sure you'd get results with this. Look forward to being very sore!

Anyone done the seven days? 
Thoughts on the gimmicky slant a lot of DVD's are taking these days?