Senita Athletics Product Review

Our Old Ways

When we were first married we spent money like it was going out of style.  Not on high dollar large items, but on dinners out, name brand clothing and other crap we didn’t need.  We look back at each other now and are disappointed in our old selves for not being mature in our spending habits.

When I left my ten-year career as a high school science teacher to begin building my coaching business, we took a huge leap of faith, sold my husband’s favorite Toyota Tacoma and used that money to see if we could survive without my income.

Good news is..we did.

But not without major sacrifices, lifestyle changes and behavioral changes that we learned from our friend Money Peach.  Thanks to all of these things we invested in ourselves in improving our relationship with money and have learned so much along the way.

I Live in Workout Clothes..don’t judge me (please:)

One big learning curve for me was buying athletic clothes.  I train 5-6 times a week, coach multiple CrossFit classes and work from home as a nutrition coach–so let’s be honest I pretty much live in workout clothes.

You can join my FREE 7 Day challenge HERE to start feeling confident in your skin!

I quickly realized expensive brands were no longer in my budget (well…the really never were).  From that point in my life, I am always on the hunt for awesome athletic clothing that looks adorable on, is stylish, sucks everything in really nicely (what mom doesn’t love that part?) and does not break the bank.

When a friend showed me the Senita Athletics website I was totally intrigued.  Senita is a locally owned company based out of Tempe, Arizona started by two moms who wanted more from their lives and left their jobs to become entrepreneurs in December 2015. Do the math–that wasn’t that long ago.  Their story was enough for me to give support; I can relate!  I love their passion to provide quality workout clothes to women at a price that is completely justifiable to the budget and aligns with all the trending styles.

Their Products

Senita has a great range of products including running and fitted shorts, crops and pants, tees, jackets, new joggers and other accessories.  Enter the Denali Legging in “Starry Night” print (retail price $40). When the package arrived I was totally stoked! The fabric was soft, stretchy and held everything in nicely when I slipped them on.

The print was unique and colors popped.  I’ve been wearing the Denali’s for both conditioning and lifting.  In both instances they stay in place, don’t bunch up and major bonus—they are NOT see through!  I am 5’8″ weighing roughly 135 lbs and found a small to fit just right.

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Since then, I decided to splurge and treat myself to a pair of their Fierce Capris in plum (retail price $35) and Fierce Pants in black (retail price $38)  along with my favorite print the Sarah Sports Bra in “Bahamas” (retail price $26).   The capris fit well, stay in place and have come out of the washer nicely after any washes.  The sports bra is an adorable print and great for a low impact training day.  It would not provide enough support for me during HIIT or run.

I also love that they have added options to their clothing to hold a cell phone or slip a key into while training outdoors, going for a run, working at home or just running to the store.  This was a major bonus for me!

You can also join my FREE 7 Day Challenge to start feeling awesome in your workout gear and naked HERE!

My Overall Rating:

Senita has proven to be I would suggest sizing down because I found things to be slightly on the larger end of the size spectrum.  I have sized down in everything I’ve ordered and have been content.  Most items tend to be on the less “fitted” size to provide a more conservative look and feel.  My only complaint (and a good one for them to have) is that they sell out quickly.  If you see something you like, snag it fast because their prices are so competitive items don’t last long on the website.

If you are ready to start making changes in your health to feel confident, join me in my FREE 7-day challenge here!

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

Shope Senita here:

Senita Athletics Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/senita/

Senita Athletics Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/SenitaAthletics/

 

Special thanks to my super talented friend Erika for the great pics and to Senita for providing me the cute leggings in exchange for my honest review!

 

 

 

 

13 Tips To Stay On Track During The Holidays

I love the holidays. Okay, well, most of the holidays.

Some I would be perfectly happy skipping over.  But Thanksgiving and Christmas, those are my jam!  I love the feel of fall and winter. It brings about an emotional shift in me. Being an Arizona native, winter is but a small part of our year, so I embrace it fully.

As a mom, I’ve come to notice that the seasons begin to change at a perfect time. Just when we are sick of living in swimsuits and sunscreen, the weather begins to cool. Then, just as the fall has us on the edge of our seats waiting for freezing temperatures and cozy nights wrapped in blankets with Christmas stories and hot cocoa, winter emerges.

What the holiday season also brings is every single one of your favorite holiday treats and temptations. They are usually in every corner at work, dropped off by your super sweet retired neighbor (you know you have one), and on every grocery store end cap. It takes some serious willpower to turn away and say no to those once a year temptations. I know there are a million “How To Navigate The Holidays” guides out there. Many are awesome.  But many are lacking one thing.

stay on track during the holidays

Reality Of Life

What many holiday guides are missing is the reality of life. The reality that our real focus should be the other 360 ish days of the year where consistency truly matters. Don’t allow five holidays turn into three months of spillover from Thanksgiving to New Year’s to Super Bowl Sunday. I know these holidays are a special time to spend time with family and friends and enjoy those specialties.  But let’s be honest here — real results come with year-round consistency and not the willpower to say no to some of grandma’s “Christmas Crack” brittle (I know you know what I am talking about). Those things make me thankful I am gluten-free and can’t eat them.

I know darn well that most of my clients, and for that matter, most of the world, will indulge during the holidays.  Whether you’re trying to eat more wholesome food, or if you’re just hoping to not gain those few magical pounds of the season, I know you can follow my simple advice to get there.

With planning, education, knowledge, and flexibility, I know those that want to maintain their nutritional goals can maintain that mindset all year long. You can stay on track during the holidays, even when Aunt Ruth drops off her infamous holiday pumpkin roll (holy crap that thing is good!).

(Want to learn how to fill your body with real food to look and feel your best? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

13 Tips To Stay On Track During The Holidays

There are many easy ways to navigate your holiday with nutritional success. In fact, this list of do’s and don’ts is really a great lesson for all year round at those special events and social gatherings.

Here are my tips to help you stay on track during the holidays.

Do: Turn that “big meal” into just another meal.

In fact, have that small meal twice if you want. There is no reason to eat yourself to oblivion for one meal. Eat a small serving of the dishes you enjoy. Allow yourself and your body some time to digest and truly appreciate flavor and taste. Then, allow yourself to go back and have a second small serving if you still have the desire later on in the day. You will feel better with smaller portions and are less likely to overeat.

Do: Have food awareness of portion size. 

Be aware of the portion sizes of your food. If you aren’t familiar with the correct portion sizes you should be eating, familiarize yourself so you don’t feel the need to bust out the scale at Grandma’s house.

Do: Serve things separate.

If a recipe calls for cheese or pecans, try serving them next to the dish rather than on top. This will allow you and your guests to have better control of intake. Super bonus is that they can also create a dish they will enjoy more instead of picking off things they don’t love. It’s a win for everybody!

Don’t: Overindulge in creamy casseroles.

Cheese, heavy creams, and butter can make that unhealthy fat intake soar. I get it, creamy casseroles are delicious. But don’t sacrifice your hard work (and health) by going overboard! Fat is a good thing, but too much can be a bad thing!

Do: Plan for hidden sources of fat.

You won’t be in control of every entree or side dish you eat. So plan for those hidden sources of fat and make decisions accordingly.

Don’t: Expect yourself to say no to every treat.

Wine and great conversation will be flowing and pretty soon all inhibitions are gone and so is the entire pumpkin cheesecake. Be honest and realize you will want something sweet to top off that amazing meal. Plan ahead for it!

Do: Plan ahead for the things you really want to enjoy.

Don’t lie to yourself and say you won’t enjoy a treat. Plan ahead and commit to a small serving, nothing more. This will also give you something to look forward to.

Don’t: Fly by the seat of your pants.

If you have a mental plan for the things at the top of your list that you want to enjoy, you will navigate the meal with greater success. You will have a plan on things that you should likely avoid and can serve yourself things that best support your goals. Know your food boundaries and decide ahead of time on the foods you plan to pass over to support your goals.

Do: Eat more protein.

Most people don’t take in enough protein on a day-to-day basis. This variable is even further magnified at a holiday meal when dishes are usually packed with carbohydrates and fat, and protein is scarce.  Make sure protein is present on your plate. Plus, who doesn’t love those Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey and hams?

Don’t: Drink your calories. 

Alcohol not only has hidden calories but it lowers your inhibitions, and with it, your food awareness.  Enjoy a few drinks, nice and slow, along with your meal.

Do: Have a hearty and lean breakfast. 

Before the big event, have a hearty and lean breakfast you aren’t starving beforehand. Being conservative in consumption leading up to a big meal is good but being HANGRY will leave you eating everything! Have a large omelet with egg whites, lots of veggies, lean Canadian Bacon and berries on the side to start your day off in the right direction.

Do: Bring a dish or dishes you know YOU can enjoy.  

If you are a guest at a house whose cooking may be on the heavy side, contribute by bringing along dishes that fit your needs like some bacon brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, or other roasted root veggies. You can even bring something like a fall salad. You’d be surprised at how many people want in on something light that makes them feel good and helps fill their tummies!

Don’t: Miss out on the celebration because you are lost in accuracy.  

Here is the reality, there is a difference in going into a meal with an “I don’t care” attitude versus being “food aware.” Find balance in the holiday and your goals so you end the night with a “Heck ya—I had a great time and enjoyed every bite of my food” rather than major food guilt. At the end of the day, you deserve to treat yourself and have a good time. And you don’t have to sacrifice your goals to do that.

True Results

True results come from the effort you make day-to-day. It isn’t one holiday or one meal that will make or break you, but the consistency you have day-to-day and the food awareness you have in social situations that yields true results. It is enjoying that special day. But it’s also having the knowledge and willpower to make that one day remain just that, one day.

Enjoy your holiday, find balance and then set yourself right back up for success the day after. If you are ready to make changes to your nutrition this holiday season, check out my favorite gifts for a nutrition newbie or nut (like me).

What do you do to stay on track with your nutritional goals during the holidays?

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

Ready to kickstart your nutritional transformation?  Click below to start now!

My Daily Grub Diary #1

I am only one person in a sea of people on a quest to live a healthy lifestyle. If you would have told me ten years ago that I would own my own nutritional coaching business I would have thought you were CRAZY! But somehow all the planets aligned and have led me to this place. It is an awesome place to be to have the opportunity to sincerely change lives. Not just by helping people lose weight or to set a personal record in the gym. But to be able to shift a person’s food mindset into a healthy place is the greatest gratification.

A frequent question I get from clients is “What do you eat each day?”. I am an open book when it comes to what I eat, although I do have hesitations about sharing because I don’t want someone to judge their current place in their own nutritional journey against the one I’ve been leading for years. The piece that I really do think is valuable is the logic, the timing, and the meal combinations that go into a day’s worth of meals. I am simple, nothing overly gourmet. I love to make and eat just plain, simple, real food.

So these requests inspired me to share “My Daily Grub Diary”, or a what I eat daily, to help people better understand that planning, preparing, and being what I call “food aware” is completely doable. Whether you have been on a health journey for years or are just looking for ideas on how to eat more clean, my what I eat daily blog posts are for you.

I also think it is important to know where I am in my nutritional journey. I’m currently eating for strength. I am slowly increasing my intake in a controlled fashion to build muscle, strength, and scale weight. My training consists of 4 strength sessions and 2 conditioning sessions per week (in a perfect #momlife world). I am just a mom trying to achieve my nutritional goals and keep my sanity.

(Ready to stop putting your health on the backburner? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

What I Eat Daily: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

P.S. I chose a Wednesday to show you that in my most crazy day of the week, I nailed my nutrition goals.

4:30 am – Wake up

Yes, I get up between 4:30 and 5 am every single day. The only day I don’t wake up this early is Sunday. I’ll sometimes sleep until 6:30 am then. I work a part-time job from home, run my own small business, and write for my blog. Needless to say, I have a large to-do list. Early mornings are my quiet time to put in a few hours of work or reading before my kiddos wake up and Mommy duty calls. When I wake up, I try my best to down a full glass of water to start my day with a little hydration.

Coffeeandfrother-tiny

Next — coffee time! I really didn’t even start liking coffee until after I had kids. It must have been survival mode inspired. It is a treat in my day and I’d chose my coffee version any day over Starbucks.  I usually prepare my own latte with coffee, milk, butter, and a bit of maple syrup.

7:30 am – Breakfast

My breakfast often doubles as my pre-workout meal. I typically try and eat breakfast with my kiddos and then head to the gym after I drop them off. I cooked up 1 egg and 1 additional egg white, over medium, to go on top of hash browns. There are few things better for breakfast in my opinion than a runny yolk over potatoes! I also had a few strawberries on the side.

While I made breakfast for us, I also threw 3 pounds of chicken breast with some simple chicken broth, salt, pepper, and fresh garlic into the Crockpot to cook on low all day. Wednesday is gymnastics and football practice for my family, so I make sure my meals are simple and easy for our quick turnaround between activities.

8:30 am – Pre Workout Snack

I love being able to squeeze in a pre-workout snack with some good fat and carbs. I try to choose the most wholesome and quick option as possible. One of my favorite options is an apple cinnamon Larabar. I was hungry already and knew I’d starve during training if I didn’t have some good fats on board. Since I am in a strength gaining phase, I will take fat before a workout. If I were more into a weight loss or maintenance mode, I would personally avoid fat around workouts altogether.

Post Workout

This is the time that I usually prefer to take something in a liquid form. It gets back into the bloodstream a bit faster and falls into that “magic” window.  I usually ha ave ½ serving of my whey protein, 14 grams, shake mixed with 6 oz or so of water. I also try and have some type of fast acting carbohydrates. Today I had planned for a banana and then totally left it sitting on my counter. Luckily I dug through my gym bag and found a fruit leather that I keep on hand for my kids! BOOM! It was my lucky day.

Lunch

After I workout, I typically have my next meal an hour or so afterward.  Today, I was craving a turkey burger. That’s the great thing about healthy eating. I can have whatever I want, and not feel guilty about it because I make a few changes to fit my lifestyle and goals. Anyway, I browned my turkey burger in a skillet with a light spray of olive oil and ate it on top of fresh greens. On the side, I made ¼ cup of white rice.

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Afternoon Snack

Today is a crazy transition from school to gymnastics to football.  I planned for my Afternoon Pick Me Up Shake to have on the road.  It is the perfect combination of macros and a little afternoon “sweet” treat to help me get through the rest of the day, without the crankiness.

Dinner

Tonight my Crockpot chicken turned into buffalo chicken stuffed sweet potatoes. It had to be something fast before football practice. I microwaved 2 large sweet potatoes for the family to share. Once soft and cooked throughout, I piled on my shredded chicken and topped with buffalo sauce and a bit of Greek Yogurt. We also had a side of greens.

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Bedtime Snack

When my kiddos go to bed, my hubby and I settle in for a little Netflix and chill, or I’ll use the time to work again. I look forward to a snack at this time of night. Tonight it was a brown rice cake, 1 tablespoon organic peanut butter, and my current obsession — pumpkin butter!

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This gives you an idea of one day, in the scope of many, of how I balance my intake at mealtimes, around workouts, for snacks, and amidst the crazy schedule, we keep! It takes effort in planning but comes with great reward.

(Want to learn how to fill your body with real food to look and feel your best? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

What are some of your favorite healthy snacks?

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

Afternoon Pick Me Up Shake

Afternoon Pick Me Up Shake

Post may contain affiliate links

When my kids are asleep–it is go time for me!  This includes nap time.  The moment they are resting I am full speed ahead to knock out my “to-do” list.  Before I started being mindful of consistency in my diet, I really hit afternoon lows and was in desperate need of nap time over go-time.

One thing I love while I work is an afternoon beverage (no…not that kind).  I love some type of coffee option that doesn’t provide lots of caffeine, satisfies my afternoon craving and tastes fabulous!

So–enjoy this simple recipe to add afternoon pick me up full of balance and taste (and my favorite…Vital proteins Collagen.).

 

Afternoon Pick Me Up Shake

1 cup Almond Milk (Or other milk of choice skim, 2%)

1 Tablespoon PB fit

1 Tablespoon Cocoa powder

 

 

 

 

Place all ingredients in a blender, I use the Magic Bullet, blend and then drink the heck out of it! I love to pour it over ice and drink from an icy cold mason jar.

 

Total Macros in the Shake:

Protein:12-22 grams (depending on the number of scoops used)

Carbohydrates: 20 grams

Fat: 3 grams

Enjoy your afternoon pick me up filled with balance, taste and some good macro value!

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

Why Confidence Trumps Composition

Our emphasis on fitness and nutrition results focuses primarily on aesthetics.  The flawless six-pack, sculpted legs, and well-defined delts remain the biggest indicators of perceived health success. Love it or hate, that is just how it is. We as humans are a social species that care about what others think of us. And many times, we care too much. Humans rely on aesthetics for so much of what we love about our lives. We use visual attraction to judge our potential mate, how we choose a meal and the type of products, we buy. It’s human nature. In fact, it is nature in general.

Is it in our DNA?

I taught biology and anatomy to hormone-ridden teenagers for 10 years and so many of my lessons still remain fresh in my mind. A great interest always erupted in class when we began to discuss the behavior of animals. We talked about the crazy, and not so crazy things, animals go through to impress their potential mates. The male peacock and his beautiful display of feathers to attract a mate, the funky mating dance of many species of birds to gain the attention of female birds, and the size of a bull elk’s antlers that impress a female are just a few.

My point here is appearance matters because it is a part of our DNA, literally. It’s my own opinion that every human being has some degree of concern about their appearance whether they admit it or not.

The Start of a Downward Spiral

I would be lying through my teeth if I didn’t agree that looking fit wasn’t a priority to me too. I am in my mid-thirties and I’ve come to realize it is a time of lots of reflection and continual learning about myself.

My husband and I were lucky enough to get pregnant quickly when we began trying in our twenties. Literally the first month. We were excited beyond measure but held our secret from our families until after our first ultrasound. The sight of the first heartbeat was an experience that you can never really put into words. It made me feel that I was put on earth to be a mom.

Things were amazing, I felt great, was gaining weight well, and had mentally started planning for the future. We went in for another ultrasound at thirteen weeks only to be hit by a truck with the most devastating news of our lives up to that point. There was no longer a heartbeat. For me, there was no longer purpose. My body had begun to change, my heart began to feel a love I hadn’t ever imagined and I had already embraced pregnancy fully. Now, it felt like it was for nothing.

I Stopped Taking Care of Myself

I let myself go, barely moving off the couch and I just couldn’t get past the thought that I may never be a mom. Again we tried and lost. And finally, our third time was given the gift of our daughter. I don’t share this for pity because I know many women suffer more loss than I did. I share this because I know that so many women have shared this same experience or similar ones. That so many women have given up their bodies in the name of becoming a mother. Some forever and some for only a short time.

The sacrifices both physically and emotionally have been worth every moment of grief I had experienced once I held them in my arms. And just like this experience, there are many more just like it, where people find themselves lost, hurting and in a place they never expected.  They let themselves go and with it, all their confidence goes too.

The Reality

All the mushy stuff aside, after being pregnant several times, having 2 children, nursing 2 children, and gaining too much weight during those pregnancies, self-confidence was not my friend. I looked in the mirror and felt embarrassed. Embarrassed about how I had let myself go. I had allowed food to control my emotions. I’d become embarrassed that I lacked the confidence to stand in front of the man I loved naked and vulnerable. I bought baggier clothes, I hid from myself in the mirror and most of all, I hid from confident intimacy with my husband. I no longer felt visually attractive and I was not confident.

Getting Your Mind Right

It took me time, a few years of time to gain back my confidence.  I found CrossFit, found food balance, and changed my mindset. Confidence is defined as “a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.”  It is a word I have seen personally break someone down so much that they could barely find air to breathe. It is a word that I want to model to my own kids so strongly because for their entire lives they will face people who try and tear theirs down. It is a feeling that only you know if you possess.

A Turning Point

When I changed my style of eating and my perception of food my body began to change in ways I had never imagined. I’d worked my tail off at the gym for years and nothing, not even 1 little ab poked through. Now at 34, my body composition reveals that I work hard in the kitchen and at the gym.

I don’t want to look fit for anyone else. I want to look fit for myself. The change in my confidence as a woman has been empowering.  The feeling of putting on a bikini and owning it, the feeling of standing in front of my hubby butt-naked and feeling HAWT (sorry mom and dad) and the feeling of crushing a workout at the gym have all helped to build my confidence.

And you know what?

It makes me so badly want that for other women and men too.

I Want You to Feel Confident

I want people to be completely confident in their own skin. To not feel judged by what others think they should look like, but be guided by the confidence they have of their own self-awareness.  Some may read this and completely disagree. My answer — I am just being honest. Getting to a place in life where you begin to not care about what others think is liberating. I am talking about that place where your confidence in who you are surpasses the need to think twice about what others do. That place is starting to feel really good.

(Ready to feel more confidence in your own body? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

Why Confidence Trumps Composition

As I left my son’s football practice last week a stranger stopped me. She said, “beautiful arms mama— you look strong.”  She honestly left me speechless, I didn’t know what to say.

My reaction was completely anti-climatic, a quiet “Thank you.”

When inside it was so much more. It was gratitude in her confidence to tell me what she had, gratitude for reassuring my confidence in who I am, and gratitude for sharing that special moment in front of my children.

By pursuing goals to change body composition I’ve learned it isn’t really about composition at all. It is about gaining control of what you want, who you are, and the confidence in your ability to do so. That confidence pours into all areas of your life when you have it and creates an unstoppable cycle of awesomeness — in fitness, in nutrition, in parenting, in love, and in friendships.

In my opinion confidence trumps composition any day. What do you think?

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

 

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Macro Friendly Camping Tips

Camping, Tracking and Planning…Oh My!

I grew up camping.  I have vivid memories of waking up early in a chilly tent, my dad waiting for me to wake with his coffee in hand.  We spent our days discovering the woods, my parents sharing stories of their childhood.  Our evenings were spent around the campfire, roasting marshmallows and snuggling each other tight as we fell asleep under the stars.  I want those same experiences for my kids too.  We attempted our first camping trip about a year and half ago.  I woke up in the middle of our first night with….food poisoning from a very atypical fast food stop.  Literally the worst night of my life spent puking and um…pooping my brains out…in a tent…in a forest.  Needless to say, it took me awhile to rally back from the experience for round two.

 

Camping Revenge

I recently took revenge on that camping trip. This time around, I was determined to make sure my food was under my own control while still getting the traditional camping experience.  Like any travel, keeping your macros in check can easily be done with proper planning and 100% commitment.  Nothing is worse than working overtime to prepare your nutrition for a trip and then giving up 100% mentally.  When I travel, I do my absolute best to track because I feel better, rest better, and have zero post vacation regret.

 

Tips to Camping Tracking Success

 

1. Map out your weekend.

Just like a normal week at home, map at your weekend.  Decide what you will be eating for all meals and what snacks you plan to have available.  Pack those foods ahead of time and use Ziploc bags and containers to pre-pack meals and snacks

 

2. Pick meals that fully utilize the campfire.

Seriously–all food tastes better on a campfire. Period.  And you don’t have to let it soak in grease or other unwanted fat sources. Making meals on the fire gives it a taste spin you won’t get at home so use it fully.

 

3. Pack only what you want to eat.

Seems simple right?  If you pack an unhealthy option that doesn’t meet your goals, the whispering pines will whisper in your ear…EAT IT.  So don’t pack any last minute snacks that just won’t fit your macro budget.

 

4. Plan for 1 camping treat.

Yes–allow yourself the opportunity to enjoy.  It keeps the rest of your day on point and honestly, you enjoy that treat so much more.  The goal is balance not restriction.

 

5. Don’t overindulge in alcohol.

The more you drink, the less likely you are to stay on track with your plan you so diligently worked hard to prepare.  Plan for a few drinks, drink them slowly and with plenty of water in between.

 

6. Pack Your Snacks

Snacking and camping go hand-in-hand.  When you are relaxing in the great outdoors, reading a book or playing cards, snacks are usually nearby. So make them yummy and goal oriented.

Here is a list of some possible snacks that will keep you right on track:

Jerky

Dried Fruit

Fresh Fruit

Pop Chips

Deli Lunch Meat Rolls

Homemade Trail Mix (with your favorite options)

Simple Snack Idea Recipes:

Fresh cut veggies and homemade Greek yogurt dips: This is SO easy to do! Cut up lots of fresh veggies before you leave for the big trip.  Bring several small containers of plain Greek yogurt and pre-made seasonings.  You can mix in the seasoning of choice and enjoy some fresh veggies along with them to satisfy the snack sensation while filling up on micro nutrient rich volume food.

Popcorn (over the campfire is the best): Put kernels in a loose foil packet with a small bit of olive or avocado oil (try coconut for a sweeter taste). Hold foil packet over campfire with tongs or skewer and allow to cook until popping stops.  Once done you can salt, drizzle melted chocolate over or whatever sounds good to your camping mood.

Homemade corn tortilla chips: This is another one that is easy to prep ahead of time.  Cut corn tortillas into as many wedges as you like.  Place over camp fire on top of a griddle, on layers of foil or on a foil tray and allow them to cook until crisp to your liking.  You can lightly salt the wedges or add cinnamon and some coconut sugar for a sweet treat.

 

Three Easy Campfire Meal Ideas

Here are my favorite camping meal ideas that are simple, fun and macro friendly:

Kebabs: Pre-cut your favorite lean meat such chicken breast or flank stead, into 1-2 inch chunks and marinate in Ziploc bags.  Bring along metal or wooden skewers to roast meat over open camp fire.  You can also pre-cut potatoes, peppers and onions to add onto the skewers as well for a great balanced meal option.

 

Fajitas: Pre-cut beef or chicken into portions that work for you and lightly spray with olive or avocado oil and store in a Ziploc bag.  Do the same with bell peppers and onions.  When you are ready to cook, place on the griddle or into a disposable tin pan to cook over the fire.  Serve with tortillas warmed over the campfire and your favorite fixings.

 

Foil Packet Meals: The sky is the limit here!  You can make foil packets in so many variations.  Use a large piece of aluminum foil and lightly spray with oil.  Place a lean chicken sausage, with onions, peppers and cubed potatoes in side.  Again, lightly coat the contents and sprinkle with your favorite seasonings.  Fold to close packet and place on open campfire until contents are cooked throughout.  You can place any kind of meat and potato option in foil packets and the kids will have a blast!

 

Enjoy the great outdoors and a campfire along with some healthy food options that will keep you right on track!

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

Veggies and Dips You Can’t Live Without

If you know me, you know I love any excuse to turn simple fruits and vegetables into some delicious concoctions. And one of my favorite ways to dress up veggies is to have veggies and dips!

Veggies-Shmeggies

I am not sure what happens at 5:00 pm but all kids must communicate to make that hour of the day the whiniest. I’d like to think that I have awesome kids, but the moments leading up to dinner seem to be their toughest.

Not only are they ravenous, like I haven’t fed them for hours, but they just seem to be hangry. And that’s not fun for anyone. I always try to include them in dinner preparation thinking it will pass the time more. Some days it works, while other days I swear it makes their hunger unbearable. I know many of you can relate.

I recently read a Mom Blog “From Stork to Fork” that gave an amazing suggestion. In an effort to increase vegetable consumption for her children, this mom started putting out a veggie platter right before dinner. She filled it with fresh, raw veggies and didn’t mention a word to her kids.

The moment they saw food out and available, they welcomed it with open arms. She provided a simple dip on the side and they ate those veggies in a hot second. What parents don’t want their kids to eat more veggies even if it does spoil dinner? It was a WIN all around.

What’s more interesting is a recent study completed by Texas A&M University identified the one factor that determined whether or not kids ate their veggies.  That one factor was what those veggies were paired with. The article’s conclusion was that “Kids, in short, are much more likely to eat their vegetable portion when it’s paired with a food that isn’t so delicious, so it gets all the attention.” So, offer those veggies alone or with a more nutrient dense but less kid-desired option and BOOM! They become veggie connoisseurs.

Leading By Example

This study supports the prime reason we as parents are lifestyle role models to our children. Kids let taste lead them. They aren’t mature enough to choose something less tasty because it’s more nutrient dense. We as parents must guide them and be sure to encourage better eating habits.

I work hard with my kids to model and discuss the importance of vegetable consumption at every meal. I’ve tried to teach them that there are foods we eat every day, foods we eat sometimes, and foods we eat on special occasions.

It isn’t always perfect and some meals are better than others.  My heart is always happy when I hear them tell people no thank you to things because they know they’ve already had their “sweet treat” for the day.

My Early Parenting Days

I was a total earthy pregnant mom and newborn mom. I was particular about everything that went into my body and on my body. I came up with a Zen birthing plan (which never remotely happened), I breastfed both my kids for 18 months and I made every single ounce of their baby food myself. I am darn proud of that!  My kids are awesome eaters and I think my investment in their food early on has paid dividends.

I went off the deep end at first. I once told a friend that our kids would never eat at McDonald’s. My friends who had kids older than mine told me I was unrealistic but I told them “No way.”  I’ve loosened up over the years. My kids have had a Happy Meal. But at the heart of it all, they know and understand that is a rare experience and should and never will be the norm.

Deprivation is Not Sustainable

I’ve come to believe that if I deprive my kids of anything mainstream food or otherwise that it only cultivates their desire for it more.  I know some of you are shaking your head at me right now. But listen— it is like when your mom tells you not to hang out with the “bad boy” so naturally you are drawn to him. In my almost 7 years of parenting, I’ve learned that being the example for my children’s healthy lifestyle is less about what they shouldn’t have and more about what they should have.

Are Adults Any Different?

This research got me thinking if adults were any different. And, personally, I don’t think we are. I am pretty sure my hubby wouldn’t eat his veggies if I wasn’t regularly preparing them for him at home. If what that veggie is paired with makes a difference, then adults need good options too.

(Want to focus on your health and make it a priority? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

Options that are rich in nutritional value and even richer in taste. It should be easy and convenient. I used to commonly buy a big tub-o-sour-cream and dump in a “seasoning packet” to serve alongside veggies. But now I have some great options to replace those packets and that tub.

Veggies & Dip DIY

Seasoning packets are filled with all types of fillers, artificial flavors, and preservatives.  If you look closely to identify the real food ingredient list, you will notice that you have those things sitting in your pantry.  So why not take them and make your own seasoning, without all the junk?  I mix together the options below and have them on hand for dips, for marinades, rubs, and any other mealtime options.

Ranch Dip

¼ Cup Parsley Flakes

⅛  Cup Dried, Minced Onions

4 Teaspoons Salt

1 Tablespoon Dill Leaf

1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder

Onion Dip

1/3 Cup dried, minced onion

2 Teaspoons Parsley Flakes

1 Teaspoon Onion Powder

1 Teaspoon Turmeric

1 Teaspoon Celery Salt

1 Teaspoon Sea Salt

½ Teaspoon Black Pepper

Fiesta Seasoning

1/3 Cup Chili Powder

¼ Cup Onion Powder

⅛ Cup Ground Cumin

1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder

1 Tablespoon Paprika

1 Tablespoon Sea Salt

I mixed all of my spices into small glass jars to keep them fresh. Once these seasonings are prepared, you can mix 2-3 tablespoons with 4-5 oz of greek yogurt for amazing veggies and dips combos, or you can even serve these dips with healthy and nutritious chips!  They are perfect for a mealtime side or for some tailgating munchies.

(Tired of feeling like healthy eating is impossible? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

Eat those veggies friends. Find ways to incorporate them into your life to improve your health and be an example to the little people surround you.

What are your favorite veggies and dips combos?

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

La Croix Review: Is it really healthy for you?

If you don’t know anything else about me, know that I love bubbles. Add a little bubbly to a drink and BAM! #gamechanger. I love finding alternatives to satisfy that bubbly craving that doesn’t carry sugar or alcohol content. And this one, oh, it is the best! I often have clients who are trying to ditch sugary sodas or juices and La Croix is my go-to recommendation. Hydration is key to nutritional success and La Croix offers another way to keep up with water intake sans boredom.

La Croix is La $&%!

I literally saw that on a shirt.

I resisted my strong urge to buy it (I have small children) because I love La Croix so much.  This product isn’t anything brand spanking new, but I am often surprised at how many people have been living a La Croix free life.

La Croix is a sparkling water beverage with a hint of flavor. It has zero calories, zero sugar, and zero sodium because its ingredients are literally carbonated water and a few natural flavorings extracted from essential oils of fruit. There are no hidden chemicals that make it “sugar-free”. It’s just good old-fashioned water. And that is just the way I like it — simple. You can view a sample nutrition label here.

But, is La Croix healthy for you?

Like all good things that gain popularity, scrutiny often follows. Are all those bubbles too good to be true? Seltzer water has fallen under criticism because of it’s potential to agitate the stomach and cause erosion to teeth.

A study conducted in 2002 actually showed that bubbly mineral waters can actually help to settle the belly when under distress.

Those pearly whites though might be impacted more by seltzer waters because of their potential erosive effects to teeth enamel. A more recent study confirmed the potential for these types of beverages to cause damage to enamel when teeth were soaked in the water due to the acidity created by the ingredient, carbonic acid.

In the study, they took extracted human teeth and soaked them in sparkling mineral waters for thirty minutes. They then assessed the damage to the tooth enamel after the teeth were removed. The outcomes showed similar damage to erosion as compared to another drink similar in acidity, orange juice.

(Want to focus on your health and make it a priority? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

What does this really mean?

The possible health implications really boil down to the volume of La Croix being consumed. If you are drinking a case a day, it’s fair to say that reducing your consumption will have positive effects on your teeth. However, most of us are enjoying a mineral beverage as a break from the monotony of regular water.

Even more importantly, La Croix is replacing the consumption of beverages with a much greater health consequence such as sugary sodas, energy drinks, and coffee. It could be as simple as using a straw when bringing La Croix or rinsing with pure water after consuming the drink to help reduce the exposure to the tooth enamel.

There is no substitute for water

No water how you slice it, there’s still no real substitute for good, old-fashioned, pure H2O. Water is crucial in many of our body’s metabolic processes. It is critical in maintaining energy supply, maintaining cellular hydration, and is keenly important in weight loss efforts. As a baseline, a great goal is to consume a half ounce of water per day for each pound of body weight.

For a 200 pound person, a daily water goal is at least 100 ounces. I always encourage my clients to add an additional 8 ounces for every caffeinated drink they consume or for every hour of time they may sweat during training.

When I begin my work with clients, I usually find that they aren’t drinking nearly as much water as they think they are. A few tips to keep track of exactly how much water you are taking in is to use a gallon jug (128 ounces) as the source of your water for the day.  You can drink directly out of the jug or pour it into a glass or insulated mug throughout the day.

Another simple idea is grabbing your favorite insulated glass (just like mine) and grab a dry erase marker.  Determine how much the glass holds and then how many times you will need to refill that mug to achieve your daily water intake goal. First thing in the morning fill that cup up and use the dry erase marker to create a hash mark for each refill needed during the day. When you successfully empty one full glass, use your finger to erase one hash mark as you make your way to your water goal. Seeing that goal and crossing off the hash marks is motivating and provides immediate feedback on your success.

Sweet Summer Time

La Croix is the perfect drink of summer (well honestly, all darn year). I love a refreshing drink in the mid-afternoon that makes me feel like I am at the beach and worry-free. Even my kids love it and they would easily choose it over a juice box alternative. My favorite is a bit of fresh lime juice, my favorite Cherry Lime flavored La Croix, all poured over ice.

It is an awesome product for a perfect “Mocktail” by the pool or while at work. These awesome recipes make a sparkling water beverage way more exciting then you could ever expect. If you are looking to reduce your alcohol intake, La Croix can be a simple replacement. It still has a subtle flavor and a bubbly, effervescent feel.

It also makes a great mixer for the real thing too, keeping keep sugar and calories low.  You can mix it with your favorite tequila or vodka with a squeeze of fresh fruit and #boomshakalaka.  As part of increasing food awareness, teaching clients how to better understand the consequence of those liquid calories in alcohol is powerful.  It is so easy to unknowingly sabotage yourself with a high carbohydrate sugary beverage or beer.  Not to mention that the fat burning process is somewhat halted when we consume alcohol as the body works to metabolize the toxin (alcohol) out of the body.  By replacing a dense beer or sweet drink with an alternative like La Croix, you not only bring down caloric value but are also using water as a mixer that is likely to help reduce the impact of alcohol overall.

Flavor Options

La Croix offers 13 Flavor options including Passionfruit, Mango, Apricot, Pamplemousse (Grapefruit), Cran-Raspberry, Berry, Orange, Pure, Lime, Lemon, Coconut, Peach Pear, and Tangerine. They’ve also released their Lacroix Curate and NiCola lines with new awesome flavors (available at limited locations).

Their recent entry into Costco has increased their exposure and was a genius move for those obsessed like me. They offer 2 different case options, which each include 3 different flavors. The case price at Costco will beat any price at your local grocer.

Like all amazing things in life: chocolate, Netflix, sushi, and pancakes, moderation is key. Overall health boils down to consistency, nutrient dense foods, and finding balance in the things that actually make our body healthy and those things that satisfy our cravings and bring instant gratification. For most, La Croix is a bubbly beverage that when drunk in moderation is likely a healthy alternative.

What is your favorite La Croix flavor?  Share how you love your La Croix below!

Work Hard Be Kind,

Amanda

5 Main Benefits of Collagen To Your Health

This post may contain affiliate links.

Clients, friends, and family often ask me how they can increase protein in their diet.  I love to try and get my protein from a variety of sources. Each type of protein offers a varying list of amino acid profiles, each rich in their own unique benefit to the body. One of my favorite sources of protein is through collagen or collagen hydrolysate.

So what is collagen?

Collagen is a crucial and abundant protein in our body responsible for making up connective tissue, skin, hair, and nails.  In fact, collagen makes up about a third of the body’s protein content. It’s actually one of the building blocks of the human body. Not only can it help improve your health, both below and above the surface, but it’s also been known to increase your “glow”. It’s a pretty versatile protein. When boiled down, it turns into a gelatinous substance. That substance can then be dehydrated and used to create a powder or liquid form. So in essence, there are many benefits of collagen to your health.

If you are on a journey for better health, take a listen to this episode of the Feel Amazing Naked Podcast that shares the single most underused tool that I believe will help you lose weight and create lasting change.

Collagen as a supplement

As we age, collagen production in our bodies slows down (say what?!?!). Joints and muscles become weak, skin sags and well, you get the rest… we get old! A collagen supplement can offer an increase in the body’s own diminishing supply. I decided to try collagen as a daily supplement for my husband who has a history of abuse from years of football injuries. He wanted a “bonus” for his joints and I was up for the research and discovery too.

5 benefits of collagen

There are so many benefits of collagen. But here are the top 5 reasons why collagen may be a great supplement to your day.

Anti-Inflammatory

Collagen is high in the amino acid glycine, which has anti-inflammatory effects in the body. A recent study found (1), among many other benefits, that glycine acts against inflammatory cells of the body and stops their reproduction.

Due to this, it can also promote a healthy gut. And a healthy gut is a happy gut. If you suffer from chronic inflammation, or if you have digestive health issues, collagen may be able to help.

Helps Build Muscles

For athletes, collagen helps promote natural creatine production for post workout muscle growth as well as arginine for increased muscle mass. So if you’re bodybuilding, or just looking to build some baby muscles, add collagen to your routine!

Increases Your Skin’s Elasticity

Elasticity is when you can stretch your skin and it returns back to its normal state afterward. As we age, it’s common for the skin to lose elasticity, also known as elastosis. Unfortunately, Elastosis could be worse in people who spend a lot of time in the sun. So if you’ve spent time sunbathing, playing outside sports, or working a job that requires you to be outside often, you may have noticed Elastosis more than normal.

Collagen has been proven to actually increase skin’s elasticity. In another collagen study (2), subjects given an oral collagen supplement showed a measurable difference in skin elasticity in only 4 weeks of ingestion.

Increased Bone Density

Collagen supplementation has also been linked (3) to increase bone density and the proliferation of more bone creating cells.

Reduced Joint Pain

One of the biggest benefits of collagen that I’ve noticed, especially for my husband who has suffered from joint injury/pain, is the supplement’s potential to reduce joint pain. (4) It worked for my husband, and it has been beneficial as a part of his routine. So it may work for you!

Which collagen is the best?

I’ve tried many collagen supplements.  Many have done awesome and a few have fallen short. When it comes to collagen, quality matters and Vital Proteins fits my requirements: high quality, no fillers, and a reasonable price point.

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides is my supplement pick.  It is high quality and is cold soluble so it doesn’t get too gooey when cold. I love to put a scoop (10 grams) in my morning coffee or in my afternoon pick-me-up shake for a protein boost.  It is odorless and tasteless but carries some amazing properties you should be benefiting from too.

 

There are collagen creamers too!

Vital must have heard our love of collagen as a protein boost in coffee because they answered by creating new creamers.  Each creamer is slightly flavored and still packs the benefits (including protein) of their regular collagen.  The bonus is a bit of flavor added from natural ingredients and MCTs, a brain healthy fat source. And while the benefits of collagen would outweigh any negative flavor or texture (at least for me), it’s nice to know that there are some delicious options!

 

 

Collagen Beauty Greens

Another product that I love from Vital is their Collagen Beauty Greens. At a much higher price point, the Beauty Greens are a blend of of marine collagen peptides, non-GMO organic greens, hyaluronic acid (5) and probiotics.  The flavor is very earthy in taste but delivers some serious benefits of collagen and micro nutrient benefits.

Allergic or sensitive to whey or beef? 

Vital Proteins also offers a marine blend derived from wild-caught Snapper.

 

I recommend Vital Proteins because I believe their quality surpasses the rest.  It is the motto of my business, quality over quantity.  I only recommend products that I believe in and use myself. In an effort to be completely transparent with my readers, if you do purchase a Vital Proteins Product from a link above I receive a very small affiliate commission. This commission continues to allow me to write even more awesome content for my blog. Thank you in advance for your support! Now, go get those benefits of collagen! 

Have you tried collagen and love it? What amazing effects did it have on you?

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

Resources:

(1) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12589194

(2) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23949208

(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19895915

(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18416885

(5) http://www.jmnn.org/article.asp?issn=2278-1870;year=2015;volume=4;issue=1;spage=47;epage=53;aulast=Borumand

 

Morning Oatmeal Recipes

Oats are a great kick start to your day!  I have a few go-to morning recipes that you can prep the night before and enjoy in the busy morning.