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Upper Body Bench HIIT *New Workout*

Yes sir! New workout is up! I tried this workout last week and had a grand old time. My biceps are actually still sore (I worked out Friday and today is Sunday..not too shabby, right?).

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So, this is a “bench” HIIT because for the HIIT part of the workout, you’ll be using a bench. I used a regular old bench found at a gym, but you could use a box or I guess anything you can safely jump over and jump on top of.

I wanted to take some pictures to show you guys each move, but honestly just didn’t get around to it so I’ll post pics found around the web (sourced, of course). Let me break it down for you:

This workout is composed of 3 supersets. Perform the first exercise immediately followed by the second, then perform the HIIT portion for 30 seconds (or a minute if you’re feeling extra badass). Complete 3 rounds of each superset, then move onto the next.

 

Incline Bicep Curls

Grab a pair of heavish weights. For example, I used 15lb. For me that’s heavy. Grab whatever is heavy for you! Set your bench at an incline, like 5 for example. Then just perform bicep curls! I did about 8 reps..or basically as many as I could with 15lb. weights.

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(source)

Skull Crushers

Triceps! Flatten out your bench and lay down on it. You will probably need to choose lighter weights for these, by the way.

Hold both weights straight out in front of your chest. From there, bend your elbows so your hands end up by your ears, then press back to straight.

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(source)

Bench Hop-Overs

These are rough! You’ll love ’em :).

Straighten out the bench. Stand next to the bench, then place both hands on it. Next, hop over the bench, then back again.

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(source)

Next Superset:

Front Raises Overhead

You might be familiar with front raises. These are basically those except…keep going!!

Grab some dumbbells and raise them in front of you to shoulder height. Keep on raising them until they’re overhead, then back down again.

This pic is shown with a weight plate, which you can definitely use. Or grab some dumbbells.

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(source)

Chest Press

A classic!

Lay down flat on the bench  and grab some heavy weights (but be careful). Bring them up straight in front of your chest and from there, drop them down at your sides bending elbows to about 90 degrees. Then press back to starting position.

 

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(source)

Toe Taps on Bench

Remember ball taps back in your soccer days? This is the same idea.

Stand next to the bench and jump off one foot, tapping the other foot on the bench, then switch back and forth

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Final Superset:

Bent Over Rows

Grab some dumbbells (or a barbell) and stand up. From there, hinge forward at the waist and pull your arms back keeping your elbows at 90 degrees. Think about pinching your shoulder blades together, that will help.

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(source)

Dumbbell Pullover

Grab a heavy dumbbell. Instead of laying down the bench like you normally would, lay across it resting your head and neck on the bench and using your glutes to keep your hips up.

Raise the dumbbell up in front of your face. From there, lower it behind your head or to where it’s comfortable, then raise back over head.

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(source)

Bench Jumps

This is exactly how it sounds! Stand next to the bench then jump up onto it, landing softly, then hop off.

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(source

 

And there you have it, folks.

Like I said, I tried it this past week and was huffing and puffing throughout and THAT is the idea! HIIT workouts are all about keeping your heart rate up and burning major cals. It’s a nice departure from boring treadmill jogs. :)

Let me know if you try it and what you think!

 

 

 

Green Tea, Matcha, and Buddha Teas *Review*

I am a tea novice. To the core. I’ve always wanted to be a “tea drinker” and maybe someday, I will be. I set the bar high when it comes to life goals.

Anyway, my experience with tea is basically the fruity iced one at Starbucks and a random Sleepytime tea at someone else’s house. I used to drink green tea every now and then…but then somehow fell out of the habit. Full transparency: coffee has my heart. Lately my coffee habit has sort of taken over my day. I’m finding myself drinking two cups in the morning…then suddenly one midmorning…afternoon…etc. I’m not sure it’s technically too much, but I sort of want to get control over it. Given all the great health benefits green tea has, I think it would make a great replacement!

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Green Tea Benefits

Green tea’s biggest claim to fame is its’ catechins content. Catechins are antioxidants that fight and may prevent cell damage. According to WebMD:

“green tea has been shown to improve bloodflow and lower cholesterol. A 2013 review of many studies found green tea helped prevent a range of heart-related issues, from high blood pressure to congestive heart failure.”

It doesn’t end in the heart either! There’s good news for the brain too:

“In one Swiss study, MRIs revealed that people who drank green tea had greater activity in the working-memory area of their brains. Green tea has also been shown to help block the formation of plaques that are linked to Alzheimer’s disease.”

Yes, there’s more:

“Green tea seems to help keep blood sugarstable in people with diabetes. Because catechins lower cholesterol and blood pressure, they can help protect against the damage a high-fat diet can cause, Ochner says.”

It’s pretty remarkable actually. The more I read about green tea, the more I wonder WHY am I not drinking this round the clock!? I will now.

Green Tea versus Matcha 

Now that we all know how badass green tea is, let’s talk about green tea’s even more superior cousin…or sister…or whatever: matcha.

Matcha, much like regular green tea, has a ton of antioxidants. According to Men’s Health:

…”this Japanese tea has three times the amount of epigallocatechin gallate, a potent antioxidant, as regular green tea. Plus, matcha contains theanine, an amino acid linked to improved cognitive performance.”

Typically, matcha tea leaves are ground into a fine powder and that powder is stirred directly into your water. No tea bags here. So you’re really ingesting those antioxidants.

Personally, I haven’t tried the powdered Matcha, only Matcha in a tea bag. I assume maybe it’s slightly less powerful this way, but don’t really know for sure. The bottom line is: powdered, tea bag, green tea, Matcha-all incredibly healthy choices. 

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Buddha Teas Matcha Green Tea 

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The nice folks at Buddha Teas sent me some of their Matcha Green Tea to try and try it I did.

I’ve had some green teas in the past that have tasted a little bitter. Anyone else experience this? This tea was not bitter at all, which I loved. I really didn’t feel the need to add honey or any other sweetener to it.

The Buddha Teas website is pretty cool. If you like tea, or are a beginner like me, it’s a pretty great way to learn about different teas. You can search for whatever you’re looking for (of course), but you can also navigate by benefit (for example, inflammation, memory, antioxidants, etc.).

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They offer a TON of teas from herbal, loose leaf (they DO sell powdered Matcha), specialty teas (for example, Acai Berry and Green Tea), Chakra Teas (for example, the 5th Chakra tea, which focuses on creativity, communication, and self expression), black teas, green teas, and premium blends. Lots of good stuff!!

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I’m excited to try new teas! I think for my next order, I’ll pick something based on benefit like Teas for Women, Brain Function, or Digestive Function. So many fun things :).

Check out Buddha Teas website here and don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and Instagram!

 

Are you a tea drinker? What’s your favorite kind?

Whole Foods, Body Image, and Social Media

Body Image

I assume I’m not alone when I say that sometimes, I can get caught up in “body image.” When I say body image, I’m literally talking about what my body looks like (usually) compared to others. I feel like I should know better than to compare myself to anyone else, but sometimes it’s damn near impossible not to. Those of you on social media, Instagram in particular, probably know what I’m talking about.

If you’re not on Instagram or not familiar, it’s great! By “great” I mean it’s a terrific time waster. It’s only photographs. Sounds basically like Facebook and in a way, it is, but it’s only pictures. It’s actually much more entertaining than it sounds.

Instagram is great for a lot of things but there is absolutely a large group of “fitness experts” who essentially only post pictures of themselves in their underwear with an inspiring quote underneath. It’s kind of ridiculous because it is so blatantly narcissistic. That being said, it’s hard not to compare what you see in the mirror, to people like that.

Focusing on Food

I’ve tried to start thinking about diet and body image differently. Instead of looking in the mirror and being discouraged with what I see, I’m going to try to steer away from that entirely by focusing on food.

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Food, of course, can become an obsession too. I’m not counting calories or restricting myself to tiny portions, I’m simply going to focus on consuming whole foods. In my opinion, if I were only eating whole foods- fruits, vegetables, eggs, some dairy, lean meats, and fish- the body will take care of itself.

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Plantains are my new obsession, by the way!

This also means no processed foods. That’s tough! It can be done, but it’s a hard one. I especially find it challenging when we are in the car (our drive is 50 minutes). Non-processed snack foods can be slightly complicated since one of my kiddos is pretty young (no choking hazards). I think in this case, food prep is key. I could make to-go snacks like chopped veggies and fruit, paleo pancakes, apple sauce, etc. So, it is possible, just more time consuming.

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Kiddos

This kind of stems off the processed food bit. Even organic processed food is processed food. My kids both have trouble with constipation and I really want to fix that for them. It is quite possibly the most heart-wrenching site to watch my 16 month old cry because she’s trying to poop but can’t (sorry if that’s too much information, but she’s a baby. She’s cute even when she poops).

I feel like I’m doing my kids a disservice by feeding them foods with basically no nutritional value and that’s pretty apparent to me given their bowel issues.

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When it comes to snacks and on-the-go meals, I’ll just need to plan and prep more in advance. When it comes to meals at home though, they are going to eat what the adults eat! I’ve fallen into a bad habit of making different meals for my kids because, mostly my three year old, is picky. I’ve decided though that she is old enough to eat what I eat. If she chooses not to eat it, then she can starve. So, obviously not really, I’m not going to starve my kids. But, she does need to learn that she can eat what her mom or dad made her for dinner. I think it’s important for her to be grateful for the meal that was made for her and not complain about it.

The Holiday’s

Holiday’s are challenging. I’m not going to worry too much about it though. Most days up until Christmas, we are at home so I really don’t have an excuse.

I think a key part to staying sane during the holiday’s is exercise. It can be super tough the closer you get to Christmas especially if you’re out of town visiting family. You need to keep a priority though! Whether that means working out early in the morning, going for a family run or hike (if you live in Arizona or California ha!), or simply setting aside 30 minutes of your day to dedicate to your workout. 30 minutes is not long, your family will understand!

Next Steps

The next step for me is to a.) unfollow some people on social media who only post half naked pics (I’m not being a hater, I just don’t get any value from them except their hot. Yep, you’re hot)., and b.) get educated.

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I think I have a basic understanding of proper nutrition, but there is nothing wrong with seeking out more knowledge. I checked out a couple books at the library and am hoping I can get through each book. (I usually prefer audio books because I’m so tired at night I hardly read). Anyway, I’m excited to check these out! I will keep you posted on thoughts.

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Oh, and c.) food prep!

I’m really just trying to keep it simple: eat whole foods. Use food to nourish and energize the body.

This post was sort of rantish. Sorry about that! If you read it all, thanks! If not, I forgive you. :)

What’s your take on whole foods? What about body image and social media?

 

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Have you heard about this book? Nope, the title of this post is not original content. This is actually the title of a bestselling book by Marie Kondo about, you guessed it, tidying up.

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All you mom’s out there probably know “tidying up” all too well because that’s mostly what we do, right? Tell me I’m not the only one who cleans a room (and am so proud!), only to walk into the next room and see every book off the shelf or poop on the floor (this literally happened on Saturday).

Tidying up is endless. Endless I say! Well, according to the author of this book, it doesn’t have to be so.

The basic idea behind her tidying philosophy is: look at your stuff, if it doesn’t spark joy, toss it. I’m only about halfway through the book, but stopped after the first category to tidy. The first category was clothes (she groups accessories in here too like shoes and bags).

So, Saturday afternoon I roamed the house and literally threw all my clothes on the floor.

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I have to admit, I sort of regretted doing it immediately because then I had to deal with them. I mean, they were all over the damn floor. So, I got started.

I sorted (or tried) my clothes into piles: pants, shorts, tank tops, sweaters, etc. Then I started my pile of giveaway clothes.

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I feel like I need this chick here in my house so she can really hammer on me… “DOES THIS SPARK JOY!?” Most likely, to most clothes, I would say, “no……..but……” But nothing. Just no.

Since it was just me, I’m thinking some clothes may have fallen through the cracks, but I’m proud of my giveaway pile! Or giveaway piles…5 LARGE garbage bags full of clothes, shoes, and bags.

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Maybe I should “tidy up” my Halloween decorations, no? I’m getting there I swear.

I’m not quite done tidying the clothes. I do have some in a storage unit (ugh..I know, it’s endless!). Not many, but they’re still there. I’m thinking that I may just give them all away (I’ll double check first). They’ve been in a storage unit for almost a year and I haven’t missed them. Most of them are dresses that are all about 7-10 years old (college clothes) and let’s be honest, I don’t hit the clubs often anymore.

The author, Marie Kondo, had a good point about clothes that I tried to keep in mind. Take a look at a piece of clothing and think about when you wore it/bought it. What was your life like then? Well, in my case for my dressier clothes, they were all bought while I was in college (or immediately after). I was living in cities, going to bars, and partying a lot more than I am now. Those clothes served their purpose. But my life is different now, so I no longer need them.

Obviously I am keeping a few dresses. Dresses that I love, that, like she says, “spark joy.” But I think I did a pretty good job de-cluttering…at least my clothes. Next up: BOOKS.

I honestly didn’t plan on posting about this so I don’t have a “before” closet picture, but here’s my after!

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Yes, our baby sleeps in our closet.

Since I haven’t finished the book, I can’t say yet if I recommend it. I certainly recommend the idea though. I think we all could use a little de-cluttering. Like I said, books are next, then baby clothes, baby toys, MAKEUP (a big one for me) and who knows what else I’ll get my hands on.

 

Do you de-clutter? Have you tried this method?

Workout Finisher

Hey yo! What’s goin on folks?

First and foremost, I’m writing this on my iPad so please forgive any misspellings. Now let’s dive in.

This workout is meant to be a “finisher” meaning you can add it to the end of your regular workout. Of course, you could also just do this as your workout if you were short on time. Instead of 12 minutes, you could shoot for 20 minutes or so. But if you’re using it as a finisher, perform as many rounds as possible in 12 minutes!

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First up: squat thrusters!

Squat Thrusters– Also known as snap jumps, squat thrusts, probably some other things? Anyway, start in plank position (arms straight), then jump legs towards your hands, then back into plank position, and back towards hands, etc. etc. for 15 reps. I hate these.

squatthrusts

 

 

Kettlebell Swings- Grab a heavy bell and use both arms for these swings Here’s a link with more info on the swing (shows it as single arm).

Mountain Climbers– 20 reps on both legs!

Kettlebell Snatches– 10 reps on each arm. Choose a weight that’s sort of middle range. You want to be able to perform the ten reps, but make sure it’s difficult! Here’s a link with more info on the Kettlebell snatch!

 

Definitely take a look at the links (and probably watch videos) if you have any uncertainty on how to use the kettlebells. If you’re not totally comfortable, feel free to sub in different exercises. No Kettlebell injuries!

I love the concept of a workout finisher because it’s sort of like a last hurrah for your workout. The end is near, so go hard! It’s also kind of nice because (ideally) it involves exercises different than the ones you’ve been doing for your “regular” workout.

 

Have you you tried a workout finisher? Let me know if you give it a try!

Block Island Organics *Review*

Random thought of the day: was anyone else under the impression that you no longer get zits after your teen years? Yeah, apparently that is not true. It’s a good time having a big ol’ zit in your 30’s. Lame.

I haven’t paid a huge amount of attention to skincare products because a.) my skin was always “okay” i.e. no huge problems (thankful for that), and b.) price deterred me from higher end products.

I am for sure guilty of tanning beds and laying out without sunscreen <—all of which occurred mostly during the college years. Now that I’m older and wiser (or just older), I do want to take care of my skin. I try to remember sunscreen and haven’t been to a tanning bed in years. I also want to be more conscious of what I put on my skin….not just the cheapest lotion in the store.

Since “natural” and organic skin products have become more of a trend over the recent years, they’ve sprouted up more and more in grocery stores and big box chains. They might be pricier than your cheapest cheapie, but still very much affordable for what you’re getting. I think that’s great!! I also think it’s great to see entrepreneurs pop up with their own brands of organic skincare lines. I imagine starting a skincare line (or any business) is incredibly intimidating. I love hearing the stories behind these small businesses and the passion, dedication, and blood, sweat, and tears that come with it.

Block Island Organics, a skincare line developed by a husband-wife and sister team based out of Rhode Island, reached out to me to try their Organic Revitalizing Night Cream. Ironically, I had just run out of night cream (a sample of something I wasn’t going to buy from Sephora ha). Here’s a little more information about the company and their beliefs:

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“Our belief is that good skin care is about good suncare both day and night as the sun is the leading cause of premature skin-aging and skin damage.  Our natural sunscreens protect during the day while our organic cleansers and organic moisturizers refresh skin after a long day of sun exposure.  Skin care doesn’t need to be complicated, overly expensive or chemically manufactured.  We believe that it is our responsibility to educate consumers, provide quality products and simplify the skin care process.”
So, they make organic, natural skincare products…but honestly, what does that mean? On their website, they actually break down each and every ingredient they use and WHY they use it. I love this. They believe in full transparency and want their consumers to truth them and their products. What more can you ask for?
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So, I’ve been using the night cream now for about two weeks and love it. First of all, my skin has been and stayed clear since starting it (when you try something new on your face sometimes those zits come out). Secondly, since it’s apparently winter here, my skin has remained moisturized and NOT dry. Typically, winter temps make my skin sort of patchy and dry (and my hair staticky…winter is the worst for beauty I swear). I am definitely pleased with the night cream! Here’s a little more information about their Organic Revitalizing Night Cream:
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FYI these are god awful pictures, but all taken with no makeup (as if I had to tell you that..ha!).
“It’s an organic and natural formula made with botanical ingredients and rich in antioxidants like vitamin C and E. All of our products are free of parabens, sulfates, petrochemicals, phthalates, dyes and artificial fragrances.  We also don’t do animal testing and use vegan-based formulas.”
Yay! Love it. I actually feel like I’m putting vitamins on my face for the first time. So, let’s talk price.
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My three year old, by the way, is a huge fan of taking funny pictures. The laughs do not stop…it’s pretty adorable.
The organic night cream is $29.99. Not bad for an organic night cream. I am totally okay with paying this much for my cleansers and moisturizers. Let’s be honesty, some are like 60 bucks…100…300 whatever. So, 30 dollars for high quality ingredients sounds pretty good to me.
For now, I only have the night cream but I’d love to try their facial cleanser too ($21.99).
If you guys are interested in trying any of their stuff (and I recommend you do), they gave me a code to give you 20% off your order from today, November 9-November 15.  Use code: amyg
By the way, I just checked out Amazon reviews (because I do that), and they’re all stellar. For each and every product. That’s awesome! Congrats Block Island Organics on such a great company and product!

Halloween and Hash

Breakfast hash! Don’t get too excited. But first, Halloween!

Halloween might just be my favorite holiday. I have dressed up every year for as long as I can remember. That’s not true, the last two years, I didn’t. I guess I thought because I have kids that I’m done with dress up? This year, for whatever reason, the spark came back. So, I ordered a costume on a whim last week. Presenting….Maleficient!

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Trying my best “evil queen” face.

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My little halloween cat and her sister, Queen Elsa.

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Family pic! The girl’s look bored, but at least they’re looking at the camera. It was a win.

We went to a friend’s house and trick or treated from there. I made up a couple snacks to take:

Halloween Muddy Buddies

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Have you ever made muddy buddies? Wowsa they are much worse for you than I thought ha! I’m talkin’ butter, peanut butter, chocolate chips, powdered sugar, and many other yummy things. Anyway, it was halloween so who cares, right? Next up..

Pizza Fingers

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By the way, I’m writing this as I’m watching American Horror Story and oh my gawwwd. Gross. So much blood.

Anyway, halloween was great!! Love it. I can’t wait for Thanksgiving.

 

Next up, breakfast hash!

I saw this posted on another blog so I gave it a shot. It’s something you can really customize and make your own, but so far, I’ve only tried chopped sweet potato, onion, and spinach (with a little garlic powder).

I’ve made this twice so far: once for dinner and once for breakfast. For breakfast I actually doubled up so I could spread it out throughout the week. I love it! It’s an awesome way to get some veggies and nutrient dense foods in first thing in the morning.

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Seriously. Make it.

Finally, I think I need this shirt:

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AND it snowed.

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The end :).

How was your Halloween? Did you dress up?

 

Maple Pumpkin Spiced Roasted Chickpeas *Recipe*

Maple pumpkin chickpeas? Pumpkin maple? Call them whatever you’d like. The bottom line is: maple and pumpkin spice. Together. So…yum.

I really like roasted chickpeas. If you love a good crunchy snack, you’ll love them too. My daughter calls them “chicken peas,” which I, of course, think is a adorable.

Can I also just point out this gigantic tub of maple syrup we have? My husband got it from a client, which was so nice of them. We literally have a lifetime supply so if you have any recipes that use maple syrup, let me know!

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Anyway, this recipe is super, super easy.

Maple Pumpkin Spiced Roasted Chickpeas

  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and germ removed (or whatever that outer layer is)
  • 2 Tbsp of maple syrup
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice
  • parchment paper

First, heat your oven to 350.

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Next, rinse your chickpeas and remove the outer layer (the germ?).

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Microwave your coconut oil if it’s in solid form. Mix the chickpeas with the oil, maple syrup, and pumpkin spice and spread out over cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

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Bake the chickpeas for about 40 minutes or until crispy.

I’ve made these several times in different houses and honestly, the cooking time varies a little bit so start checking those chickpeas around 30 minutes. They should be crispy.

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You can play with this recipe a little: less maple syrup, different spice mix, honey instead of maple, etc. You won’t be disappointed!

Happy Halloween week by the way! My favorite holiday :).

Legs on Fire Workout

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a workout, huh? I’ve been meaning to update you on my workouts lately but basically, I’ve been doing a combination of Kayla Itsine’s workouts (at home usually), 21 Day Fix Extreme (a workout DVD), kettlebells (at home), and regular old gym workouts. I swear one of these days I’ll go into more detail on the Kayla workout AND 21 Day Fix Extreme. They’re both awesome.

This workout though is one I made up last week when I had a gym day. I’m telling you, your legs will be crying by the end of it (and later in the day..and the next day when you try to sit on the toilet :) ).

So, here’s the rundown:

This workout is basically comprised of supersets (2 exercises done back to back to keep your heart rate up). So, you will perform the first two for as many reps and sets stated, then move onto the next two.

 

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  • Smith Machine Squat– I used the smith machine and not the squat rack for this one because I feel more comfortable adding heavy weight (since I have no spotter). The smith machine is a great place to start if you’re new to barbell squats in general. So, I performed 4 sets of 10 reps (a couple times less reps which is fine because that meant the weight was heavy!).

SUPER SET with:

  • Squat Jumps- So, after my first round of squats, I immediately performed 10 squat jumps, then back to round two of smith machine squats. 4×10

 

  • Split Squat on Bench– Ugh. I hate these so much. So, yeah, do these :). These are basically lunges with your back foot resting on top of a bench so it really works that front leg, not to mention your balance.  3×8 both legs

SUPER SET with:

  • Lunge Jumps– That’s right folks. Right after split squats…lunge jumps!!! You might fall over so head’s up. 3×8 both legs.

 

  • Lunge Walks– Go for a walk…but lunge the whole time. Using weights, by the way. Because you can. I used 12lb. weights because my legs were jello already. I probably could have pushed myself more and used heavier weights so by all means, grab heavier weights! 3×10 both legs.

SUPER SET with:

  • 1 Minute Sprints- I have a little track at my gym so I’d just run around the track immediately after the lunge walks but if you don’t have that, hop on that treadmill!

 

  • Single Leg Bridge on Bosu– Blue side up. So, lay on your back with your knees bent. Scoot your butt as close to the bosu as possible, then rest your right foot on top of the blue part. Push your foot into the bosu while lifting your hips off the ground and squeezing that nice little tooshy of yours. Perform 3 sets of 10 on both legs. 

SUPER SET with:

  • Bosu Burpees- These are terrible too so get excited. Hold the bosu ball so the black part is facing you. When you perform your burpee, the blue part will land on the ground so you’re basically in a pushup position on the bosu. If you want to, do a pushup! if not, continue your burpee and when you come up, lift the bosu overhead so you get a little shoulder action in there too. 3×10 

 

That’s it!! Sounds like a good time, right? Right. My bum has been sore for 3 days.

 

What’s your favorite muscle group to work out? Mine is by far my arms, but I guess I can’t neglect the legs. Boo.

The Vitamin Shoppe’s Protein Pantry

I’m starting off this lovely Wednesday morning with two crazy kiddos at my side. One is completely naked (she has some pretty bad diaper rash) and the other is in an Elsa dress. The naked baby is crawling all over me and I wish so bad I could share a picture because she has the cutest little bum you’ve ever seen….but I’d better keep it off the internet :). Trust me when I say, it’s adorable. Instead, I’ll show you fully clothed pictures from our past couple of days with Grandma in town:

my little babe

my little babe

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So, that picture was initially intended for my best friend so she could see what I was trying on at Target (because she doesn’t have a life, right?). But, I love Willow’s face so I’m sharing it here too. By the way, didn’t get the vest but DID get the hat!

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I love this picture of my three year old, Brooke. She actually didn’t think she was in the picture (she hates taking pictures). I got her good though! I may have to print that one.

We had a great visit with Grandma in town! It was short, but a lot of fun. The weather here has been amazing. Usually, this time of year we’ve had snow at least once but we haven’t had any yet. Thank the Lord. I’d be cool just skipping winter altogether.

 

 

Let’s talk about protein!!

As much as I love me some carbo’s, I really try to consume protein rich foods throughout the day. In my opinion (and my experience), I have absolutely no problem getting enough carbs in my diet. In fact, some days I notice most of the foods I eat are basically carbs with little fat or protein. So, consuming carbs is not a problem. I guess that’s because carbohydrates are often convenience foods like bars, cereal, breads, yogurt, etc. Foods high in protein can sometimes take a little more work (or thought).

How Much Protein Should You Eat a Day?

Well, this is a tough question to answer. There is obviously some controversy within the health/fitness industry because you have lots of different people following different diets (bodybuilders, Paleo foodies, etc).

The bottom line, right now at least, is the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) suggests .8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. To figure this out for yourself, you can multiply your weight, in pounds, by .36. For example, I weight about 110 pounds. So, 110 x .36 would be about 40 grams of protein a day.

I, personally, eat much more than that. Since I’m pretty active and am constantly trying to gain muscle, I eat around 100 grams of protein a day (almost a gram per pound of body weight). That’s typically the recommended amount IF you’re lifting weights and trying to gain some muscle.

That doesn’t necessarily mean drink protein shakes at every single meal though NOR does it mean to consume chicken breast 10 times a day (I would die).

The best thing for your body is to consume protein rich foods throughout the day. Whole foods are absolutely the best way to get protein since they are typically dense in other nutrients as well. Some examples of protein rich foods are:

  • Lean Meats- Chicken, Lean Beef, Turkey, Wild Game
  • Fish-Salmon, Tuna, Cod, Etc. 
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Beans
  • Eggs
  • Nuts 

That being said, we all live busy lives, so thank gosh for things like protein bars and powders. While you shouldn’t live off them, they are a great way to supplement your diet when you’re pinched for time…or just want a yummy treat..or pancakes :). Speaking of pancakes…

The Vitamin Shoppe’s “Protein Pantry”

The Vitamin Shoppe was nice enough to send me products from their new category, “Protein Pantry.”

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In stores (The Vitamin Shoppe has around 700) and online at VitaminShoppe.com, you can now shop for an assortment of 40 protein-packed foods like pancake mixes, nut butters, powdered peanut butter, microwavable muffins, and more!

I love that there are TONS of new brands infusing comfort-type foods with protein (and other healthy additions like flax and chia). I think it’s a brilliant idea.

I, like many others, love foods like pancakes, muffins, and peanut butter but unfortunately, those foods tend to be lacking in the nutrition department. These new brands pack a great protein punch and are an option you can actually feel good about.

Protein Pancake/Waffle Mix

A lot of us love to consume carb-heavy breakfasts, so some of these protein pancake/waffle mixes are a great swap. One morning, I tried all three protein pancake mixes:

Mancakes:

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Maple Bacon Mancakes. So, Mancakes wins for best name.

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23 grams of protein!! They have several flavors so I’m looking forward to trying them all. The maple bacon smelled amazing. The flavor was all there. If you love the smokiness of bacon, you’ll be a big fan!

Mancakes also offers fiber maple syrup for your protein pancakes! I haven’t tried it yet, but will let you know my thoughts when I do!

#2 was About Time’s Cinnamon Mix:

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21 grams of protein!

These had a great texture and a nice cinnamon taste. I think they’d be delicious with cut up bananas (banana pancakes anyone?) or with added peanut butter in the batter.

Finally, P28’s White Chocolate Mix:

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Great choices for a high protein breakfast.

They had an awesome light, fluffy texture-exactly how I want my pancakes. I may try to make these into muffins too later this week so stay tuned!

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Pancake party at my house and you’re all invited!

So, I’m always skeptical about protein pancakes because of the texture. These mixes are great though because they figured out the right formula that actually produces pancakes that taste like pancakes. No rubbery, weird textures here.

I’m a creature of habit, so I like my eggs in the morning. What I prefer to do with the protein pancakes is make a bunch of them, then stick them in the fridge for a snack throughout the week. Of course, they’re great for breakfast too, but I like grabbing one mid-afternoon when I’m craving something doughy and sweet.

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Nut Butters and Spreads

Yesssssss. Thank you Buff Bake, P28, and D’s Naturals for making delicious, healthier nut spreads.

Yes, peanut butter and almond butter DO have healthy fats and protein, but the protein content really isn’t that high. These brands pack even more protein AND offer delicious flavors.

Buff Bake:

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I’ve reviewed Buff Bake before (here) and really like their products. They basically make almond butter with some added whey protein, flax seeds, AND chia. The other night, I had some sliced banana, white chocolate Buff Bake, whipped cream, and mini chocolate chips for dessert. They do an awesome job with everything: flavor, texture, packaging-all great.

Next up, P28 White Chocolate Peanut Spread:

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White Chocolate PB AND White Chocolate Pancakes. Love it.

So, what’s peanut spread? Well, just roasted peanuts, whey protein, white chocolate, and canola oil. Pretty simple and pretty delicious. By the way, I’ve also tried P28’s Protein Bread and it’s amazing. It surprised me. It makes the best toast!

Finally, D’s Naturals Chocolate Fudge Cake Batter:

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Yes sir! This tastes exactly like brownie mix. So, if you like brownie mix, and what person doesn’t, you’ll love it. It’s almonds, organic rice protein, canola oil, pea protein, and a few sweeteners like xylitol and stevia. Noms.

Finally in my box of goodies: Flap Jacked Mighty Muffins!

I’m sure you’ve seen mug cakes around, right? If you haven’t, mug cakes are single serving desserts made in a coffee mug and microwaved. They’re a godsend.

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FlapJacked basically took that model and made the Mighty Muffin.

We were sent Double Chocolate and Cinnamon Apple. I tried the Double Chocolate last night and added a few chocolate chips and a little Buff Bake Snicker-Doodle.

It was incredibly chocolatey (as you can see). Which I love. I think I’ll try the cinnamon apple for breakfast tomorrow?

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These Mighty Muffins contain about 220 calories and 20 grams of protein. Pretty epic dessert OR breakfast. They also contain probiotics. Great all around!

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Phew, that was a long post. If you read it all, thanks! If you didn’t, just say you did :).

If you’re a snack monster like me or just want to add more protein to your diet, check out Vitamin Shoppe’s Protein Pantry and be sure to follow Vitamin Shoppe on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

 

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Vitamin Shoppe. All opinions are mine.