JULY 2017

52 Healthy Habits: Meal Prep That Actually Fits Your Lifestyle

Welcome to the latest edition of 52 Healthy habits when each week we talk about a new healthy habit that can be developed and cultivated for an overall healthier lifestyle. I am a big believer in habits, because they are the building blocks of a healthy lifestyle. It's not about willpower or self-discipline (if it was, I'd be in big trouble). It's about developing small habits one at time, slowly over time until your healthy lifestyle is effortless.

It's not about how fast you start, it's how long you stay consistent over time. Too much too soon can lead to overwhelm, burnout and failure. Each week we go in depth on one simple new healthy habit. You can follow along and try my habits or do one that works for you and your lifestyle. The first step is awareness. What is one small thing you can do today that will take you one step closer to your goals? 


The reason I like meal prep is because it takes the guess work out of your meals. When you plan ahead with healthy meals that you enjoy, you're less likely to feel frazzled and order pizza or takeout after a long day. Strategy trumps willpower. Having a plan in place in advance will make all those meal decisions just a little bit easier. 

Meal prep can seem overwhelming at first if you've seen the pictures on Instagram or Facebook of 21 tupperware containers perfectly portioned with grilled chicken, broccoli and rice. That can be an effective way to plan your meals for the week, but realize that it doesn't have to be all-or-nothing. If you're thinking there is no way you can plan 21 meals in advance or eat the same boring thing every day all week, then there is a meal prep plan that will work for you too.

The idea is to make meal prep work for your lifestyle and preferences. Don't try to force something that won't work for your lifestyle. You're probably not a professional bodybuilder or physique competitor, so you don't have to meal prep like one. If you hate chicken and broccoli, then meal prepping chicken and broccoli will never work for you. There are plenty of ways to meal prep the healthy foods you and your family will enjoy. Find what works for you. Start small. Build over time. 

This always makes me giggle:


I know what it's like. You hit snooze one too many times, your kids won't put on their shoes, your husband can't find his briefcase (or tool bag), the news is reporting an accident on the highway you take to get to work and the kid's school bus is due in 10 minutes. Sounds about right. What about breakfast? Everyone could get a Pop Tart for the road, or with a little planning ahead, you can prepare a few healthy portable options that work within your crazy life. 


In small portable jars add 1/3 cup of raw (uncooked) raw oats, 1/3 cup milk, 1/3 cup of plain Greek yogurt. Put in the fridge overnight and let the oats soak up the liquids. In the morning, the topping options are endless, try berries, fruit, ground chia seeds, cinnamon and natural granola or nuts for some healthy crunch. 


Mix together whole eggs or a combo of whole eggs and egg whites (keep in mind that the yolks are healthy), chopped veggies (try tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, onions, jalapenos, spinach, the possibilities are endless), shredded cheese, protein (turkey bacon or turkey sausage) salt and pepper. Spray a muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray and pour the egg/veggie mixture into the muffin cups until they are about 3/4 full (they will rise a bit in cooking). Pop it in the oven at 350 for 30-35 minutes until the eggs are firm. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to eat. Wrap in a paper towel and microwave them when ready to eat. It's a perfect grab on the go meal. Pair with a banana for a well-rounded breakfast.


If prepping overnight oats or egg muffins still seems like too much, you can simply hard-boil some eggs in advance. A couple of hard-boiled eggs is the perfect portable breakfast on the go. I like to pair with a piece of fruit for a balanced breakfast.


Work is hectic. Your boss is tough, your co-workers are whiny, your clients are demanding and that deadline is looming. Who has time for lunch? While the vending machine, cafeteria line or fast food drive-through may seem like enticing options so you can scarf down some food and keep working, taking a step away from the computer to have a quick nourishing lunch can actually make you more productive in the afternoon. Packing a healthy lunch in advance will take the guess work out of healthy eating for lunch and get you back to kicking @ss at work a little faster. 


I wrote more extensively on mason jar salads, so check out my original post for more in-depth ideas. It's easy to prep multiple salads for the week that won't get soggy (I swear!). First cook enough lean meat for the week. I like to grill (or petition hubby to grill) a couple pounds of chicken on Sundays. Start with a large mason jar and pour a serving of healthy dressing in the bottom. Then add veggies, cooked meat (like grilled chicken) and top with spinach or other salad greens. When you're ready to eat, shake it up and pour it into a bowl. Ta-Da. Make five jars on Sunday and eat all week. Because the dressing is on the bottom of the jar, they don't get soggy. Pinky swear.



Some people just don't believe me when I tell them the mason jar salads don't get soggy. Some people don't want to take the time to make five salads all at once. That is just fine. It's not about what works for me, it's about what works for you. You can still meal prep your salads even if you don't make them all at once. The key is having the protein already cooked and ready to go. Grill two to three pounds of chicken at one time, refrigerate or freeze what you won't use right away. Each evening, chop vegetables and prep your salad for the next day. Bonus points for chopping all the vegetables for the week in advance and just throwing together the salad ingredients the night before. 


The easiest way to meal prep for lunch is to make extra portions for dinner and pack your leftovers. It doesn't take much extra time to prepare a couple additional portions, so cook in bulk where possible. When planning your dinner, plan an extra portion or two for tomorrow's lunch. 


It's been a long day. You're exhausted. The kids want pizza. Hubby wants pizza. Heck, you kind of want pizza. If you planned ahead you can have a quick healthy meal for the whole family and save the pizza party for a special occasion. 

The secret to effective dinner meal prep is to start with meal components: Cook the protein, some brown rice, potatoes or chop some veggies ahead of time. Come dinner time, this will make a huge difference in quickly getting dinner on the table. 


I am a fan of crock pot meals because the crock pot does all the work while you're going about your day. It can be a simple as adding protein like chicken or turkey, then veggies, potatoes, and black beans, the possibilities are endless. Combine flavors to suit your preferences. We make a big pot full of healthy whole-food ingredients and eat it for dinner and lunch for a few days. If we have a lot left over and get tired of eating the same thing after a couple of days, we freeze it for a later time. 


Casseroles are a great way to make large portions of a healthy meal to freeze for later. I love this recipe from Slim Sanity for a Chicken and broccoli casserole. I know I kind of poo-poo'd chicken and broccoli in earlier in this post, but if you are going to do chicken and broccoli, this is the way to do it. I love how this recipe adds Greek yogurt and almond milk for a creamy healthy base. Search healthy casseroles on Pinterest for more ideas than you could ever execute. Make ahead of time and freeze for a quick healthy dinner for those hectic work evenings. (Note: evaluate the ingredients of any recipe that claims to be healthy. Look for whole foods ingredients. Just because it says healthy in the title, doesn't necessarily mean that it is healthy.)


If you are just too busy to do any real meal prep, another option for dinner is one of those meal delivery services. You could choose one that delivers the healthy meals ready to heat and eat or one that delivers all the ingredients in proper portions and the recipe for quick dinner with very little advanced prep needed. It may be a little more expensive than meal planning and shopping for groceries yourself, but it is worth the investment if you honestly can't find the time to meal prep.

I hope I gave you some ideas to start prepping healthy meals. Remember it doesn't have to be all-or-nothing. Start with breakfast, once that becomes a habit, move on to lunch. Once you decide you want to make healthier choices and do a little planning ahead, I think you will find that meal prep can become just another healthy habit in your lifestyle. 

Will you give it a try? Let me know how it goes. Have questions? I'd love to help. 

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7 Health & Fitness Myths That Won't Die

As a fitness professional I see the same common fitness myths perpetuated year after year. Long after I think these myths have been officially debunked, they rise up again. They just won't die. Let me take a stab (pun intended) of ending them once and for all.


TRUTH: Carbohydrates themselves do not cause weight gain. When you over consume any food, it can lead to weight gain. Carbs don't make you fat. Dietary fats don't make you fat. When you consume more calories than your body needs it gets stored as fat. Everyone is a little different, but in general most people can be successful by consuming a wide variety of whole foods from nature, enjoying treats in moderation and keeping an eye on calorie intake versus activity output to avoid fat gain. 


TRUTH: Those "bulky" ladies that you see on the fitness stage and in magazines worked very hard to look exactly that way. It didn't happen by accident. They trained specifically for that look over a long period of time. They may have taken steroids. It takes dedicated effort to put on muscle. If you start lifting weights your results will not look like theirs unless you train specifically for that goal and you do it for years. Pick up the dumbbells or the barbell. You'll develop lean muscle which will help shape your body. Muscle tissue requires more energy at rest, so the more muscle you have the more calories you burn even when you are not exercising. Muscle takes us less space than fat in the body, so when you lose fat and gain muscle, you will look smaller, not bulkier. Ladies with lean muscle look slimmer, fitter and can beat their friends in arm wrestling competitions. Just kidding about that last one. 


TRUTH: My favorite myth I love to hate. Too much of anything is usually bad, that is why it is called "too much." Too much running without adequate strength in the hips can lead to knee pain. If you listen to your body, do some runner-specific strength training, get adequate rest/recovery, be patient with mileage and intensity and listen to your favorite coach (that's me in case you were wondering) then running is not bad for your knees. Bad training is bad for your knees. You can't blame bad training on running as a whole. 


TRUTH: I know we would all love to believe that we can do 1000 crunches a day to achieve a flat stomach or buy the thighmaster for lean legs, but it is simply not true. You can not spot reduce fat. You can, however, work to reduce your overall body fat percentage through your nutrition and exercise program. Be sure to include weight training (see myth #2) to develop lean muscle for best whole body results. 


TRUTH: People tend to think if they are not killing themselves in the gym, then they won't get results, when sometimes the opposite is true. Yes, we should plan high intensity workouts into our training cycle, but they should be followed by lower intensity workouts to allow our bodies to properly recover. Overtraining can increase our chance of injury, cause burnout, fatigue and irritability.

Spend time on flexibility and mobility work. Take a walk or go on a hike. Be active outside of the gym. High intensity workouts properly programmed are great, just keep in mind there is much more to a well-rounded fitness routine. You should finish your workouts most of the time feeling energized, not beaten down. It's the all-or-nothing thinking that gets us in trouble.


TRUTH: You can get in great shape and never take a single supplement. One of the key principles of fitness success is to start with the basics. Before thinking about supplements, get your basic nutrition, exercise and healthy lifestyle habits in check. If you are sleeping five hours a night, working out inconsistently and binge eating or drinking on the weekends, there are more important things to tackle first. Supplements may (or may not, honestly) give you an edge after you are already doing everything else right. They won't help you if you are not already consistent with your healthy habits. Save your money. (A protein powder supplement can be helpful for when whole food protein is not available or convenient, but not a necessity.)


TRUTH: If you choose to buy organic fruits and vegetables then there is no question that is a healthy choice. However, just because a packaged food boasts the word 'organic' doesn't necessarily mean that it is a healthy option. Case in point: organic Doritos. Organic processed foods are still junk foods. The ingredients are often improved to remove artificial colors and flavors, but they still may be extremely high in sugar, salt and unhealthy fats. And they cost more. I am pretty skeptical of any packaged foods labeled as organic. Portion control and moderation is key when consuming organic chips, cookies and pizza, just like when you consume the non-organic versions. Don't assume because it is labeled as organic that it is a health food. If it comes in a package, it is probably not.

Did I miss any? 

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Fit To Run: Download Free Printable PDF Strength for Runners Workouts

Welcome to the latest edition of workout Wednesday! For the last several weeks, I have been unveiling my strength for runners program one section at a time. Have you missed anything so far? I put together the month one and month two workouts in a printable PDF format, so you can download all the strength and running workouts at once. 

Download free printable PDF Fit to Run: strength training for runners

Download free printable PDF Fit to Run: strength training for runners

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52 Healthy Habits: 10 Easy Healthy Nutrition Swaps

Have you been following along with my 52 Healthy habits series? Each Monday we talk about the habits we can develop to in order to live a healthier life. Habits are the building blocks of a healthy lifestyle. You don't have to change all your bad habits or attempt to develop a ton of new healthy habits all at once. In fact, trying to do too much at once can cause overwhelm and ultimately, failure. We, as humans, don't respond well to a lot of changes at once. A better strategy is to tackle one new healthy habit and take the time to cultivate it. Once you have a handle on it, add in another. The slow build approach is a much more sane and sustainable approach over the long term. After all, this is a healthy lifestyle, not a healthy 21 days, healthy 12 weeks or even a healthy year. We want to make changes that stick for life. Are you in? Let's get to it. 

Sometimes the easiest way to change those behaviors that don't bring us closer to our goals, is to make healthy swaps instead. Good or bad, we have already have developed the habit, now we can work on how to make that habit healthier. 

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click on a link in this post and make a purchase I make a small percentage of the sale with no additional cost to you. No one is getting rich here, it just helps with the costs associated with running (pun intended) this blog.


I may be biased here because I am on a break from coffee and feeling great, but I have found swapping my regular morning coffee for hot tea was an easy transition (I mean, after the debilitating headaches went away, of course.) Drinking a hot beverage in my favorite mug was a habit, I replaced that hot beverage for a healthier alternative and now drinking hot tea is my new habit. I go on a break from coffee once a quarter in order to reset my caffeine tolerance, so I am not so dependant on it for those early morning wake up calls. (I was going to say early morning workouts, but let's be real, I haven't been up for an early morning workout in months.)


I love my coffee (which is why I do a reset once a quarter, so I can fully enjoy it again after my break). Drinking coffee is not a bad habit in itself. Caffeine has its health benefits. Usually it's what you add in your coffee that can be the problem. When you add processed flavored creamers and sugars, or order the 500 calorie barista-made drink, you're just consuming empty calories. There's nothing wrong with treating yourself once in awhile, It only becomes an obstacle to achieving your goals when it's a habit.

Swapping cinnamon for sugar is a great way to add flavor and spice to your black coffee without adding sugar. 


I was a Diet Coke fanatic for most of my adult life. I wasn't able to quit my several-a-day habit until I found a suitable replacement. Enter seltzer water. I swapped my daily Diet Coke for the fizzy goodness of seltzer water. It's important to note that seltzer water isn't sweet like soda because it doesn't have sugar or artificial sweeteners. It took some time for my taste buds to adjust, but now it is an easy choice for life. 



I've said this before, but it bears repeating now. Most of the yogurt cups you find in the grocery store are not health foods. They often have as much sugar as ice cream (It's no wonder they taste so good!) and riddled with processed ingredients, but are regularly marketed as a healthy choice. Of course, there are exceptions. I like the Siggi's brand for a healthier alternative, it is lower in sugar and higher in protein. Most of the big name yogurts on the grocery store shelf are junk foods masquerading as health foods. 

Swap your yogurt cups for a tub of plain Greek yogurt. Plain Greek yogurt is high in protein. Add fresh or frozen berries, fruit or natural granola. I bought a 8 pack of reusable small plastic cups with lids in order to pack my healthy yogurts for lunch. 


Yeah, I thought it sounded a little weird too, but you'll hardly know the difference. Use plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream in recipes, salad dressings, dips and of course, on tacos. It has more protein and fewer calories than sour cream. Our favorite way to use Greek yogurt in a recipe is in our turkey mushroom caps.


No one ever mistook Fruity Pebbles as a health food, but even the healthiest-marketed boxed cereals usually have too much sugar, too many processed ingredients or are too low in nutrients. If you enjoy it, it's fine as an occasional treat, but there are better choices for your daily breakfast habit. A great swap for boxed cereal is old fashioned oatmeal flavored with cinnamon, berries and/or fruit. Add a scoop of protein powder and chopped nuts for a balanced breakfast of healthy carbohydrates, proteins and fats. 


We all love our dessert and it should be enjoyed once in awhile, but a better after-dinner habit is a daily walk. I know a walk doesn't sound as enticing as a piece of pie, but hear me out. A quick daily walk after a meal helps with digestion, gets you moving and burning calories with minimal impact on your body. You get some fresh air, quality time away from electronics and your dog will thank you too. If you think you don't have time, start with five minutes. Walk to the end of the block and back. Then over time you can work on building up duration and distance.


Seriously, have you tried this? Take two to three frozen bananas and let thaw slightly before adding to a food processor or blender. Blend slowly until they have an ice cream-like consistency. Add protein powder, cocoa powder or peanut butter powder for flavoring. Share with a friend. A delicious healthy swap for ice cream. 


Swap that iceberg for a nutrient-dense alternative, like fresh spinach. Spinach has vitamins, minerals, fiber and even boasts a bit of protein. It is much more nutritious than iceberg and less expensive than those pre-bagged lettuce mixes. We buy a few bunches of spinach and use in our salads all week. 


I saved the best for last. I love spaghetti squash as an alternative to traditional pasta. We add low-sugar pasta sauce, parmesan cheese and ground turkey and we can hardly tell the difference from our regular spaghetti dish. If you have a spiralizer, you make spaghetti-like noodles out of almost any vegetable. 

What are your favorite healthy swaps? Did I miss any? Did I give you any ideas? Pick one to try and let me know how it goes. 

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5 Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List

I love to read. I often say that I don't have the time to read, but I seem to have plenty of time to scroll Facebook and Instagram. I've been working on spending more of my free time reading and less of it on social media. I am a non-fiction aficionado. OK, maybe not an aficionado, but let's just say I haven't read a fiction book in a long time. I tend to prefer to read real stories about real people.

My summer reading list is full of non-fiction books that I loved and would recommend to my friends. If you are an athlete, an entrepreneur or just looking to be inspired to live a better life, these books are for you. These aren't necessarily the newest books, just the ones that recently made the biggest impact on me. 

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click on a link in this post and make a purchase, I make a small percentage of the sale with no additional cost to you. No one is getting rich here, it just helps with the costs associated with running (pun intended) this blog.


Shoe Dog, Phil Knight
A memoir by the creator of Nike

This book made me laugh, cry and cringe over and over again. It's the story of Phil Knight and how he created the Nike brand by first selling running shoes out of the trunk of his car at track meets long before the popular culture cared about running. This is both a cautionary tale and an inspirational message about becoming an entrepreneur. It's a rough road but, in Phil Knight's case, the payoff changed the world.

Wildly succeeding your life's work

I highlighted this whole book. There are more words highlighted than not. It's inspiring, funny and practical. Tama recounts her own struggles, self-doubt and roadblocks as she tells her success story. She brilliantly advises us how to overcome our own obstacles as we fulfil our dream of wildly succeeding in our life's work. 

Mastering the psychology of mind over muscle

Read this book and then next time you're on the struggle bus at mile eleven during a half marathon (what? just me?) you can recall the stories of high level athletes who overcame so much worse. It's not just us mere mortals who suffer during endurance training and events, but the best of the best learn how to cultivate mental strength to reach their goals. Through the stories of failures and obstacles in this book we learn how to train our mind for success.

Unlocking your athletic potential for health, speed and injury prevention

If you read this blog, you probably have some interest in running, so I'd be remiss not include this fantastic book on anatomy for runners. Don't worry, it's a lot more interesting than your college anatomy class. It gets a little science-y at times (insert your own Jesse Pinkman joke here) but if you understand the basic science behind running, it gives you the foundation for injury-prevention. In fact, everything you need to know about staying safe as a runner is outlined in this book including a self-assessment and corrective exercises for muscle imbalances. A must read for any runner.

A counterintuitive approach to living a good life

This is a rated PG blog. I'm not one of those bloggers who swears for effect, but I read this book this year and I wanted to include it in my reading list. (Sorry, Ma!). Even when I shared it on Instagram, I edited it for family-friendly viewing. I enjoyed Mark's point of view, which was essentially to really care about the things that matter and let everything else go, but I had another major takeaway. I realized as I was reading the chapters in this book, I had already read many of these stories on his blog. Wait? One can weave together blog posts they already wrote in order to write a book? Mind blown. Excuse me while I go write my own book. 

Have you read any of these books? Do you have any non-fiction suggestions for me? 

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