A Spring Blogcation

Hey friends 🙂

I’m here with the last post I’ll be writing for a few weeks or so… I think I need a little break from the blog world.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while but wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted. I kept up with posts and social media because I worried if I stopped the blog I’d regret it when things settled down and I had more time. After another couple of months I am still questioning how I feel so I think what I need is to take a break and reevaluate.

I started this blog when I was transitioning into a plant-based diet. A blog was something I always wanted to do, even before being vegan, but that’s what gave me the final push to make it happen. I had so much fun posting over the past 11 months but it seems I had more time in the beginning. Work was slower, my social life was much calmer, and I was just getting started so I didn’t feel the pressure to keep up with regular posting and social media.

Now it seems like every weekend I have something going on (not that I’m complaining), work is a lot busier, and my downtime is short. When I have time to relax I do enjoy blogging but I also want to read, bake, watch a movie, visit friends… A lot of these things seem to be falling by the wayside lately.

I know I wouldn’t feel this way if I had the time to put into the blog; the time to make great. For anyone who knows me, you know I don’t do things halfheartedly. It’s all or nothing. I don’t just want a good blog, I want a great blog! So if I can’t give it all I’ve got, I think I’d like to take my lunch hours and my mornings to myself. I’d like to give a little extra to the work day and to the people in my real life.

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So this isn’t goodbye, but more like “see ya later”… In the mean time I’ll still be around on Twitter and Instagram, possibly starting some personal accounts. I wish you all the healthiest & happiest spring (which starts March 20, believe it or not) and we’ll talk soon!

Peace, love, & greens,

Liz xo 🙂

6 Ways to Make Exercise a Habit

Exercise.

Habit.

Two words that most people don’t see going in the same sentence. How can exercise be something you “just do”? If you’re not one of those people who enjoy exercise (there are more out there than you may think!) how can it ever not be a forced activity in your day?

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I remember when my workout felt like a chore. It was painful to drag myself to the gym (or in front of a P90X video) and get started. Once I did start it was fine, but getting started was the worst part of my day. I would so rather be sleeping, watching tv, shopping, eating, ANYTHING but working out.

But we all know that exercise is good for us. It’s not necessary to workout 7 days a week but according to the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, you should get at least 150 minutes per week (source).

Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines (18-64 years) #
To achieve health benefits, adults aged 18-64 years should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.
It is also beneficial to add muscle and bone strengthening activities using major muscle groups, at least 2 days per week.
More daily physical activity provides greater health benefits.

So how can you make this a habit; something you just do without thinking about? Here are my 6 tips for making exercise a non-negotiable part of your day:

1. Have a Clear Vision

There is a difference between a goal to lose weight or be fit vs. losing weight or getting fit to reach your goal. I’m not exercising to lose weight or to look good for a specific event. I’m in it for life. I want to feel sexy and confident every day. I want to have energy and regular sleeping & eating patterns.  I want to live long enough to see my children’s, children have children. And I want to be the best possible version of myself so I can be my best for others.

I think being fit and healthy will allow me to be all of these things.

Having my priorities straight is what keeps me going back to the gym day after day. Shallow goals are too easy to make excuses for. For example, I strength train because I want to have functional strength for everyday activities. If my goal was to be able to squat 100 lbs, it would be a lot easier to put that off for another day, and then another…

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2. Plan Your Week

Every Sunday I take a look at the upcoming week and my work/personal commitments. I schedule my workouts from Monday-Saturday around those plans. For example, on a travel day I may need to work out a little later in the evening or if I have dinner plans with friends, I’ll hit the gym in the morning before work.

I have a to-do list for each day which includes my meals and fitness for that day. It doesn’t always have to be perfect; some nights are busy, canned soup nights (Amy‘s are the best!) and sometimes the best workout I can squeeze in is 30 minutes on the elliptical. Regardless, having a plan keeps me on track.

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3. Prep The Night Before

If I know I’m taking a yoga class the following day, my mat, towel & yoga bag are sitting by the door. If I’m working out in the morning, I’m sure to have an on-the-go breakfast ready like these vegan overnight oats!

Laying everything out the night before saves a lot of time and stress in the morning. Plus, you will be less likely to forget your socks or headphones and you’ll show up with the right gear! I’d prefer not to do BodyAttack in a Free-To-Be bra 😉

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4. Choose Workouts You Enjoy

If you hate spin (like me), don’t spin. Just because it’s amazing cardio doesn’t mean its for everyone. I’d rather do 10,000 burpees. If it’s a gorgeous day out and you’re dreading the gym, go for a run outside. When it comes to exercise, there  is something for everyone. Just to name a few:

  • Organized sports – Join a basketball team or a dance club
  • Casual sports – Have a tennis match with your bestie or go snowshoeing
  • Running/walking – Go solo, with a friend, join a running group, or go all out and start marathon training
  • Group fitness classes – Both Les Mills and the YMCA offer something for everyone who thrives in a group atmosphere
  • The gym – TRX, weight lifting, cardio machines
  • Home workout videos – Beach Body videos (i.e. P90X), Jillian Michaels, TIU
  • Online fitness – BlogilatesYou Tube videos

The list goes on…

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5. Commit to Friends

If you tell someone your going to be there, you probably will. When I was in university I always worked out with my friend Britt. I remember a lot of mornings wishing we hadn’t made plans to be at the gym first thing, but I wasn’t about to be the one to back out. Afterwards, I was always SO glad I dragged myself out of bed. Usually once our weekly schedule was set, we rarely missed a workout.

Meeting friends to workout can be a bit of a social thing too. I love having company for a yoga class or a circuit and you wouldn’t believe the cool people you meet through healthy living 😉

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6. Acknowledge & Celebrate Progress!

Of course doing something over and over will get frustrating if you aren’t seeing any results, but remember your weight is not the only indicator of progress. There are a number of factors that can prove you are making headway:

  • Body measurements
  • Body fat percentage
  • Blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol
  • How your clothes feel
  • Energy levels
  • Strength
  • Endurance

Remember to set realistic, sustainable goals (see #1) and celebrate even the smallest successes! If you beat your 5k time, maybe buy yourself a new pair of running shorts. If you’re at a plateau, reassess your routine and make some changes.

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Exercise needs to be fun and enjoyable or it will never be a habit. It can be all of these things if above all, you want it to be. You need to decide for yourself that you want to live a healthy, active lifestyle; that you want to be fit & healthy and are willing to work for it.

You are the only person who can make those things happen. Not your gym buddy, not your trainer, not Jillian Michaels… YOU! So get out your to-do list, plan your week, and pack your gym bag. There’s no time like the present… 🙂

Here’s to healthy habits!

Liz xo

Loaded Zucchini Boats

Hello friends 🙂

Welcome to mid-summer! Hope you are all happily immersed in the warm weather and cool treats the season provides 🙂

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I’ve been enjoying a lot of light, produce-rich meals, for the past couple of months which is a strong contrast to my hearty oatmeal, soups and stews during the winter.  Early in the day I prefer raw fruit bowls, smoothies and salads but for dinner I prefer my veggies cooked.

On Friday nights the bf and I like to have “something good” as he says. We have a little more time to get creative with cooking but we still try to keep it on the healthy side for the most part. This past Friday turned into something inspired by of one of my favourite indulgent appetizers before becoming vegan… I always LOVED spud skins but didn’t often order them because I knew they were probably the worst thing on the menu. I’ve been meaning to recreate a healthier “Loaded Skins” recipe and wow… I will never feel a longing for regular old spud skins again!

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Loaded Zucchini Boats

Ingredients

  • 5 medium zucchini
  • 1/2 pkg. Gardein Meatless Ground (or 1 cup black beans)*
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 10-15 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Daiya cheddar style shreds
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • salsa & Tofutti sour cream for dipping

*The meatless grounds and beans are both optional. The difference is a meal or an appetizer.

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°C
  2. Half each zucchini, scrape out the flesh and set aside.
  3. Heat coconut oil in a large pan on medium heat. Saute onions and garlic until starting to brown (~5 min.)
  4. Add mushrooms, meatless crumbles, and zucchini flesh to the pan. Add spices and cook until mushrooms begin to soften and flavours combine (~10 min).
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange zucchini halves in a row.
  6. Generously fill the skins with the mixture from the pan then top with tomatoes and cover in cheese shreds.
  7. Bake for ~20 min or until zucchini skins feel soft and cheese is melted.

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This will serve 2-4, depending who you’re dining with. I ate my share for dinner and a late night snack. I think we know how long my dinner date’s lasted 😉

Enjoy!

Liz xo

Favorite Salads

I love salads!

So much so that I probably eat salad for lunch at least 6/7 days a week. You may think this sounds a little crazy… that you could never eat that much salad… that you’d be so bored and sick of freakin salad… right?!

Not if you’re eating my kinda salads 🙂

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I don’t usually opt for dinner unless I’ve eaten a heavy lunch or I’m at a restaurant, but here are a few reasons why I choose salad for lunch:

  1. Several servings of fruit and veggies
  2. A lighter choice to allow a productive afternoon at a physically demanding job.
  3. Low in calories & carbs
  4. High in nutrients, vitamins & minerals
  5. Instant energy from easily digested, fresh produce
  6. Simple & quick to make the night before work or to take on the road
  7. A dose of essential healthy fats to make nutrients more bioavailable
  8. Often the healthiest option at restaurants but be wary of the dressing and “extras” (see bottom)

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So how does one eat salad EVERY day?! When it’s not just salad, but a party on your plate! I could never share all of my favorite combinations in just one post but here are some of my staple combos that will leave you full, satisfied, and ready to take on the rest of your day 🙂

1. Strawberry Spinach Salad

  • 1-2 cups greens of choice
  • 1/3 cup chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
  • 1/4 cucumber, sliced and halved
  • 1 tbsp nuts of choice

Service with raspberry or balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

2. Avocado, Cran-Almond Salad

  • 1-2 cups spinach
  • 1/4 avocado, sliced
  • 12 whole almonds
  • 2 tbsp dried cranberries
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds

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Serve with balsamic vinaigrette dressing

3. Santa Fe Salad (Boston Pizza Inspired)

  • 1-2 cups spinach or lettuce
  • 1/3 cup black beans
  • 1/3 cup corn kernels
  • 1/3 cup tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 cup corn tortilla chips, broken over top

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Serve with salsa & (Tofutti) sour cream if desired

4. Quinoa Salad

  • 3/4 cup quinoa, cooked
  • 1 tbsp hummus
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • pinch basil, oregano, sea salt
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cucumber, sliced & quartered
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1-2 cups spinach, optional

Option 1: Combine quinoa, hummus, lemon juice & spices then stir in chopped veggies. Serve atop a bed of greens if you wish. Drizzle with balsamic. Nom!

Option 2: Line plate with greens, top with chopped veggies, top with quinoa-hummus mixture, drizzle with balsamic. This is amazing even without the quinoa!

5. Sweet Potato & Sultana Salad

  • 1-2 cups greens
  • 1/2 sweet potato OR 1/2 cup butternut squash, baked
  • 1/3 cup chickpeas
  • 2 tbsp sultana raisins
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

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Serve with homemade “honey” mustard dressing. I love Dreena Burton’s recipe but a store bought dressing or balsamic works too!

6. Dinner for Lunch Salad

  • 1-2 cups greens
  • 1 serving of any dinner left-overs (baked tofu, veggie burger, fajita filling, sweet potato, etc.)
  • 1/4 cup chopped veggies (cucumber, tomato, mushrooms, etc.)
  • 1/4 cup fruit (orange, apple, berries)
  • 1 tbsp dried fruit (optional)
  • 1 tbsp seeds or nuts
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Spinach, sesame-orange baked tofu, cucumber, orange, pumpkin seeds, “honey” mustard dressing

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Spinach, lentil burger, mushroom, cucumber, peach-mango salsa

Serve with dressing or left-over side of choice. My mango salsa recipe can be found here!

7. Asian Pear Salad

  • 1-2 cups greens
  • 1/2 Asian pear, sliced
  • 1/3 cup chickpeas, optional
  • 1/2 cup sprouts
  • 1 tbsp slivered almonds

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Serve with any of the aforementioned dressings 😉

Tips:

  1. At a restaurant, read all ingredients on the menu and don’t be afraid to ask for healthy substitutions: Sub light dressing like balsamic or Italian for anything creamy. Ask to omit toppings like croutons or cheese. Request extra good stuff like root veggies or salsa to make up for the things you removed.
  2. No fresh fruit on hand? Sub for 1-2 tbsp dried fruit or a few pickled beets to add sweetness.
  3. No dressing? Try olive oil & lemon juice, salsa, hummus, or mashed avocado with spices.
  4. No greens? Use extra chopped veggies and fruit.
  5. No nuts or seeds? Try an oil-based dressing. Always include a healthy fat to help your body absorb the nutrients from your produce.

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You can pretty much do anything you want with a salad and make it different every day. That’s the joy of it. Haul out whatever veggies, fruit, protein, beans, nuts and left-overs you have around and see what combinations work for you.

If you have any questions or requests leave them in the comments box and I’ll be happy to help you amp up your salads 🙂

Liz xo

Fit Friday: HIIT Me Up

Happy Fit Fri-Thursday 🙂

I’m posting early since I’m heading to Cape Breton tonight and won’t have the best cell service over the weekend. Another surprise: I’ve got a little something different for you this week! Since I’ve done about a month’s worth of exercise moves I figured I’d put together a total body workout. Its a combination of strength training & cardio for some high intensity interval training (HIIT).

I completed this entire workout using 12.5 lb dumbbells so the reps are based on what felt challenging for me. It looked pretty innocent on paper but it was a doozy 😉

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If you only have light or heavy weights on hand, adjust your reps accordingly but be sure to challenge yourself. If it’s not challenging you, it’s not changing you!

New to HIIT? A brief lesson: HIIT is a type of cardiovascular exercise that consists of alternating periods of high impact, anaerobic exercise with lower-impact recovery periods. This type of training helps improve athletic ability, boosts metabolism and provides a higher fat burn than any other type of exercise.

Fit Friday: HIIT Me Up

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You will need:

  • 8-12 lb dumbells
  • medicine ball (optional for #11)
  • exercise ball or bench (for #7)

The workout consists of strength training sets followed by a short cardio burst. Perform the cardio intervals as fast as you can and repeat the entire workout 2 times total (3 if you dare!)

  1. 12 squat to overhead press
  2. 12 lunges, left then right leg (24 total)
  3. 20 switch lunges
  4. 20 bent over rows
  5. 12 renegade row push-ups
  6. 12 burpee push-ups (push-up is optional)
  7. 20 chest press
  8. 12 elevated push-up knee tuck
  9. 12 squat jumps
  10. 15 side plank knee to elbow, left then right side (30 total)
  11. 12 leg lifts with weight overhead
  12. 40 mountain climbers

I recommend following with 20-30 minutes cardio of choice!

I’ve included a You Tube link to each move because I realize not everyone has a database of workout moves in their head. Maybe for my next workout I’ll make my own short video to highlight a few seconds of each move. What do you guys think?

Let me know if you give this a go 🙂

Liz xo

But How Much Do I Need?

*** First thing’s first: I am in no way educated or certified to give nutritional advice. The information below has been collected from the various sources that taught me about nutrition (books, podcasts, blogs, documentaries). I would like to share what I’ve learned through my own wellness journey to inspire others to reach their health and fitness goals. Second, if you struggle with and eating disorder and talk of calorie intake makes you uncomfortable, you may want to skip this post.***

Protein, Fat, Carbohydrates: The three primary macronutrients which provide bulk energy… but how much do I need?

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Lately, I’ve been seeing more and more discussion about macro requirements. I’ve also done my fair share of research because achieving/maintaining my goal body weight and a fully nourished body are extremely important to me. I’ve wanted to write this post for a while because I believe many of us are ill-informed, especially when it comes to protein. We’ve been told to cut back on fruit, to drastically increase our protein intake, and I don’t know if anyone is thinking about healthy fat.

I think part of the concern comes from the fact that we’ve been mislead to believe we need much more protein than we actually do. We’ve been cultured by the meat, dairy and egg industries to believe that animal-based proteins are the only way to meet protein requirements, achieve lean muscle mass, and maintain a balanced diet. In reality, our nation is suffering diseases of excess.  But on to the facts..

Calories

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The first step to determining your macro requirements is to calculate your recommended calorie intake. If you aren’t eating enough calories to begin with, then no, you won’t get your required amount of protein. For example, the average woman needs 1500-2200 calories per day with the average being around 1800. To find your recommended intake, calculate your BMR then multiply by an activity factor using the formula below:

1. BMR

Women:
655 + (4.3 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)

Men:
66 + (6.3 x weight in pounds) + (12.9 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)

2. Activity Level Factor

If you are sedentary : BMR x 20 percent
If you are lightly active: BMR x 30 percent
If you are moderately active (You exercise most days a week.): BMR x 40 percent
If you are very active (You exercise intensely on a daily basis or for prolonged periods.): BMR x 50 percent
If you are extra active (You do hard labor or are in athletic training.): BMR x 60 percent

3. Recommended Intake

BMR + (BMR x Activity Factor) = Recommended calorie intake to maintain current weight

Of course, to lose weight, the general rule is to subtract 500. Since 500 calories per day = 3500 per week and one pound is equal to about 3500 calories, this will provide a weight loss rate of one pound per week. If you are within 10-20 lbs of your goal, this may be harder for you. I lost my last ten at a rate of 1 pound per month because calorie restriction left me with little energy to exercise or do anything for that matter. Remember: slow weight loss is realistic and maintainable!

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Now let’s talk about quality vs. quantity. Fat is the most calorie dense, followed by protein and carbohydrates.

  • Fat: 1 gram = 9 calories
  • Protein: 1 gram = 4 calories
  • Carbohydrates: 1 gram = 4 calories

This is why foods like avocado and nuts have a high calorie content, but its also why trail mix gives you lasting energy. Though fat should make up a smaller contribution to your total calorie intake, it is essential for your body to function, unlike carbohydrates. Here’s the breakdown…

Protein

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The minimum protein requirement to replace what your body uses is 5-6% of your calorie intake. The government recommends 9-10% to ensure most people get at least the minimum. However, Americans consume anywhere from 11-21% with an average of 15-16% (source).

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Here are some plant-based protein sources that will help you easily reach your recommended intake:

  • 1 cup brown rice/quinoa = 10 g
  • 1 cup black beans = 17 g
  • 1 cup lentils/chickpeas = 12 g
  • 1 cup oats – 6 g
  • 1 cup tofu = 40 g
  • 1 cup green peas = 20 g
  • 1 cup spinach/broccoli = 5 g
  • 1 medium carrot = 1 g
  • 1 cup almonds = 30 g
  • 2 tbsp almond butter = 6 g
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds, hulled = 11 g
  • 3 tbsp hemp seeds = 10 g
  • Larabar = 2-7 g

Fat

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The average 1,800-calorie diet should contain 20-35% of your daily calories. However, it is important to know the difference between good and bad fat.

Bad fat, also know as saturated and trans fat can increase your cholesterol levels and raise your risk of heart disease. Saturated fat should comprise no more than 10 per cent of your total calories and trans fat should be banned from your diet! 

Good fat is known as unsaturated fat (mono- or poly-) which is essential to your diet. Try to get it from oils, nuts, and seeds. Polyunsaturated fats are the omega-3 and omega-6 types but keep in mind that too much omega-6 can lead to inflammation. Healthy fats will help reduce your risk for heart disease and actually aid in weight loss by helping your body function properly.

Carbohydrates

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Once you’ve met your protein and fat requirements, the remainder of your calories should come from carbohydrates. Carbs are not essential for the body to function, however, they are your main source of bulk energy! They should comprise 45-65% of the average 1,800-calorie diet. Of this, 25-35 g should be from fiber, not from simple carbs like sugar.

I mentioned in a previous post that many people consume carbs in excess but I wasn’t suggesting restricting fruit, veggies, and legumes (beans/lentils). Also, there is nothing wrong with eating whole grains in moderation but I don’t recommend 2 slices of bread at every meal 😉

The bottom line…

Focus your diet on real, whole foods: fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, etc. If you are consuming a wide variety of plant-based foods you WILL meet your nutrient requirements. I used to stress about increasing my protein intake and cutting back on carbs, thinking this was the only way to reach my goals. Now that I have seen my own body change through a diet focused on whole foods I only wish I had found this “secret” earlier. I am the leanest and strongest I have ever been. These are plant-based biceps people. Pretty good for a girl, huh? 😉

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Also, regardless of what I do for my body, you need to do what is right for you! Don’t deprive yourself of something because you’re worried about maxing out your carbs for the day. Balance and is key and no one is perfect.

In case you were wondering about my own macro consumption I did the math on a random day this week to see what I consumed. On an unbiased Tuesday, my intake looked like this:

  • Calories = ~1800
  • Protein = 15% (that’s 55 grams!)
  • Fat = 20%
  • Carbs = 65 %

Believe it or not, I did not have any protein powder or supplements on Tuesday. My protein intake was more than enough, and my carbohydrates were mostly from fiber.  My meals for the day are listed below:

  • Breakfast: Green smoothie
  • Morning snack: Larabar and 1 medium orange
  • Lunch: Large veggie salad (cucumber, red pepper, tomato, spinach, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, balsamic dressing)
  • Afternoon snack: Carrots/broccoli with hummus/salsa mixed for dip
  • Pre-workout: 1/3-1/2 cup trail mix
  • Dinner: Mexican Lettuce Wraps
  • Bedtime snack: Coconut yogurt with almond butter & blueberries

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So there you have it. If you have any questions or requests please leave a comment or email me at lizziefitblog@gmail.com 🙂 I love hearing from you guys and if I don’t know the answer I can certainly help you find it! I hope this posts helps even just one person move toward a healthier lifestyle ❤

Liz xo

 

Fit Friday: Burpee Push-Ups

TGIF and I’m on VACATION 🙂

It’s short but I know it’ll be sweet! The bf and I are heading the Cape Breton until Monday to visit my family and spend the weekend at their camp on Lake Ainslie. I haven’t been to the camp in 2 years and haven’t been home since Christmas sooo ask me again why I love July?! The cooler is loaded down with lots of vegan essentials as to not stress out my momma (Earth Balance for corn, Yves veggie dogs for roasting, coconut yogurt, Food For Life cookies, and maybe a Mill Street Organic or 6 😉

Lake Ainslie – Summer 2011

Today’s Fit Friday move is one I’ll be taking on the road this weekend so it’s the perfect time to share it with you. Don’t worry there will be lots of modification options at the end. If you want to start putting a routine together here are some more Fit Friday moves to get you started:

The Drinking Bird

Spiderman Push-Ups

Side Plant Twist

Fit Friday: Burpee Push- Ups

AKA: A death sentence 

Weight: Just yourself

Reps: 3 sets of 12-15 incorporated into a circuit or as part of any workout.

Method:

1. Start in standing position then squat to touch the floor.

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2. Jump your feet back into a high plank, engaging your entire core to keep your back flat, bum down.

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3. Perform a triceps push-up

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4. Jump your feet back in then JUMP as high as you can!

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Return to position 1 immediately and repeat steps 1 though 4 in as much of a “fluid motion” as possible.

Modifications: 

  1. Leave out the push-up. A standard burpee does not have a push-up but this is a high-intensity option to push your limits.
  2. Don’t jump to finish the move. Just stand and reach your hands to the ceiling.
  3. Harder?! Add a tuck jump instead of a straight jump to finish! It’ll blow your mind.

Now go get em 😉

Liz xo