Travel Hack #1

Friends, I’m in the midst of packing my bags for the IDEA World Blogfest/Fitness Convention in Vegas.

I feel as though lately all I’m doing is packing or unpacking, but I’m not complaining! I love to travel, but it sure can put a dent in the budget. I was thinking about that as I contemplated how difficult it could potentially be to find healthy, affordable food options throughout the busy conference. I put my Boy Scout Mom experience to work in solving my dilema! Check this out…

Here’s my solution for a quick hotel breakfast, a simple and healthy way to start each day. I prepackaged 1/4 cup raisins and 1/8 cup chopped walnuts to mix with a regular oatmeal packet every morning. Wonder how I plan to prepare it? This is my genius hack…heat the water in one of these…now days every room has one, right? With an extra cup here and there, my problem is solved!

I packed five breakfasts for less than the cost of one purchased at the hotel, and at 330 calories per serving, I will be starting my day off fully charged and satisfied! I threw them all into a quart-sized bag with plastic spoons and breakfast is ready!

As convenient as this will be, I also packed some snacks to keep my energy up throughout the day…almonds, cereal, fruit, a couple energy bars. It got me wishing I could pack some other meals to avoid the $16 convention sandwich and completely blowing my healthy eating. That’s where more of my Scout Mom ingenuity came into play! I plan to take a break between sessions for a little down time and lunch in my room. And yup, that little honey of a coffee maker will come in handy again!

Friends, I know there are even healthier ways to get the job done, but these genius little Mountain House dried meals I loved on a recent backpacking adventure will do just fine. All I need to do is add 3/4 cup boiling water and let them sit for a few minutes…the cooking is done for me! I paid close attention to the nutrition labels because some can get pretty high in calories and sodium. I picked up these convenience meals at Wal-mart for under $5 each. If you think about it, I am foregoing the $23 temptation lunch buffet, my portion is controlled and I am left feeling okay with dinner on the town.

If you’ve done similar hotel room cooking, I’d love to hear what you’ve made, please leave a comment below. It would be great to add more convenient, frugal healthy options to my packing list…one more way we can all put our Best Foot Forward!

 

Having My Cake and Eating it Too!

I nervously wrote my first blog post three years ago. I had no idea what people would think of my frequent doses of humor, sarcasm and (hopefully) useful information as I apprehensively hit publish. I wasn’t sure people would take me seriously in my pursuit to live and share my healthy lifestyle. I wasn’t a professional anything, simply a gal on a journey to improve her health and pass on what she learned along the way.

See, my goal in blogging was to inspire others who may have considered adopting a healthier lifestyle, to encourage them in knowing if I could do it, anyone could. I aimed to share thoughts and ideas I experienced so others might feel less alone. I realized many of my posts may have lacked relavance to many, yet I felt led to put them out there anyway,  hoping my honesty touched someone struggling with similar issues. This blogging gig has always been my desire and intention to help others.

But friends, I never expected what FITBFFs would do for me, no idea what an accountability tool blogging would become. Remember, the vast majority of people who lose a significant amount of weight soon gain it back and more. I’m beyond five years from the beginning of my weight loss and I’m determined to never write that apology post to you, Readers. EVER!

Nowhere in my wildest dreams would I predict what else would happen as I shared a few photos of my progress, some helpful products, a new favorite food or recipe, a few strategies to stay motivated, etc. I never imagined the incredible people I would be introduced to, the generous companies I would partner with, the ideas it would place before me, and the places it would take me. This blogging adventure has turned out to be a most amazing blessing, a fountain of opportunity that continues to wash over me with surprise after remarkable surprise.

Not a day goes by without a kind message from one of my readers, or being approached in public, an email from someone reaching out seeking help to begin their own transformation, a company wishing to share their great products or services with you! One word sums up what all this means to me. Gratitude.

One more thing I’m grateful for, Friends…I’ve learned how to have my cake and eat it too on this Blogiversary!

Thanks for reading, fellow FIT BFFs; let’s keep putting our Best Foot Forward!

 

My New Summer Love-Buddha Bowls

Friends, back in April I was introduced to the Buddha bowl in Hood River, OR, at the friendly little family owned and operated Remedy Juice-Cafe. It was a term I was not familiar with, but with the laundry list of amazing ingredients and the fact that I love to meditate…my order was a no-brainer!

Last month before a week’s vacation at the lake, I decided to do a little research to formulate my grocery list. In googling Buddha bowl, I was introduced to the idea of meatless, one-bowl meals. Unlike the bowl I devoured at Remedy, most Buddha bowls are vegan, containing only vegetables, plant proteins and whole grains.

I was intrigued by the origin of the idea as explained in several posts I read, but even more drawn to the idea for its colorful, appetite-satisfying concept. While checking out numerous pics, I jotted down my favorite ingredients for vacation. Once there, I spent some time creating some flavorful combinations…

I don’t think I preferred one over the next; they were all refreshingly cool and delightful!

Each had its own character and all kept me full for hours.

This week after returning from 4th of July festivities with family, it was time to get my eating back in check. I didn’t have much in the house, so I did a little Buddha bowl search to inspire my shopping list. A quick trip to the store this morning and I was back in creation mode. I love that I can throw these together without a recipe…a little winging it and, BOOM, a nourishing powerhouse is served!

Friends, I challenge you to give Buddha bowls a try. They might just become that next thing to motivate your progress and a great way we can all put our Best Foot Forward!

 

 

Time-Saving Smoothie Hack

Hey Friends, I just got out of the kitchen. I had the ingredients out for my lunch smoothie and figured since I had a little extra time, I’d invest it to save for later!

By pre-measuring and pre-packaging some ingredients, I’ve saved myself the time of taking these out and measuring the next 12 times I prepare a smoothie. I’ve been enjoying this hack for the past two years. If you’d like my little smoothie booster recipe, click here.

Streamlining a task creates efficiency, affording me more time to do the things I love! Friends, that’s just one more way we can all put our Best Foot Forward!

Back to Gardening

Friends, I cringe to show you a piece of my backyard. It’s that same piece of yard I’m sure my neighbors wince at everytime they see it too. I’ve neglected my garden for the past five years while I took better care of myself.

Truth be told, I was never all that good at it; some years were better than others. The growing seasons I nurtured it well, it produced a beautiful harvest. Others, not so much. Kind of like my health, huh?

Well this is the year my garden makes a comeback, Friends! I was in heaven a few weeks back, strolling through an abundant farmers’ market in Portland. Take a look, here’s just a bit of what I saw…

 

 

 

While there, it dawned on me. Why don’t I get my gardening groove back? I have zero excuses this year. I’m not quite as busy with my kids this summer, my calendar is wide open, I’m not following an intense running schedule. This is my year, and the time is NOW!

So here it is, what I’m starting with. Boy, do I have a job ahead of me. But no matter, I’ve got this!

I just enjoyed the most cathartic couple hours back there pulling up weeds. I remember now what I used to love about it; I used to spend hours helping with the gardens of several loved ones that are no longer here. Yup, it was just like hanging out with them again.

I had some birds back there keeping me company too. By the time it started getting dark, I’d managed to clear nearly half of it. My arms and back can vouch for that. I can’t wait to get the tiller through the dirt and get planting!

Soon I won’t need the farmers’ market, I’ll only have to go as far as my own backyard. Fellow FIT BFFs, do you garden? If so, what do you plant? Leave me a comment, I’d love to hear what you grow!

Fresh, healthy foods from our own backyards…one more way to put our Best Foot Forward!

Vacation Transformed Part 2

Friends, I’ve been home from Colorado for more than a week and I keep returning to what a memorable success it was. If you missed Part 1, you can read it here. In that post I mentioned some mindful modifications we’d made to our standard vacation for better outcomes.

That week progressed quite nicely into one of my favorite trips of all times. We continued to venture out of our condo every morning with a new version of the same view…

   

And if that awe-inspiring daily welcome wasn’t enough, we drove all of two miles to enter this phenomenal playground…

Eric, Connor and I spent an afternoon exploring Rocky Mountain’s Bear Lake. Although it was still frozen over, it provided the freshest air, great vibes and opportunity to get lost in it all!

That afternoon beat any video game, thrill ride or entertainment…nature is all we needed!

As the afternoon wound down, it was time to meet up with my college friend, Lynda.

And it’s great we did because she knows that park like the back of her hand…she took us places that blew my mind! Thanks for a spectacular tour and evening, Lynda!!!

If I lived close to this, I would come every single day. I don’t think it could ever get old! This waterfall was both enchanting and mesmerizing.

   

I just couldn’t leave without some more yoga. It just seemed like the right thing to do!

That day’s light, love and energy seeped clear into my bones and soul.

Our week in Estes Park continued to be a challenge for me to eat healthy, but if one looked hard enough, good choices could be found. Take for instance this entree from The Egg and I…LOVED it!

I needed to keep fueled for our last day because I had something important to check off my bucket list. Since the moment I’d seen this place on an episode of Extreme Weightloss, I knew I had to go!

Red Rocks Amphitheater has played host to countless performers and their sold-out concerts on hot summer nights. But in daylight, this venue welcomes those looking for an unforgiving workout. It was exactly what I was hoping for on our final day in Colorado.

Because my knee was less than functional, I had to run/walk, but that didn’t take away from the amazing accomplishment I felt having traveled across each of 69 rows down, then back up again. I logged five miles of harsh slopes and relentless heat.

I was ecstatic too, because although this was likely not on Eric’s bucket list, he got me there and even joined in!

That workout took all I had within me that day…I left it all there! Which turned out to be a good thing because the next day and a half was spent driving home from this astounding vacation.

The drive home was somber, it was tough leaving such beauty behind. I replayed the amazing experiences we’d had over and over again in my mind and heart. That second day on the road, although tiring was an a-okay way to spend my birthday. Why? Because my beloved Pita Pit was only a couple hours from home!

Friends, I think we finally got this vacation balance thing right! I returned home tired but nothing like trips of the past. I’m recharged and ready to work on that bucket list of mine…a list I never bothered dreaming up until my weight loss transformation proved was possible!

 

Vacation Transformed!

With spring break upon us, I’ve thought a lot about what vacations used to look like for my family and me. They consisted of ALL our favorite junk foods, a jam-packed schedule of busyness designed to entertain and engage our kids from morning to night in locales that catered to non-stop fun. We made a million memories, but most of mine were of indigestion, sensory overload and exhaustion. When I look at the photos, I wish I saw the fun and excitement, but I’m brought right back to the overwhelmedness.

I’m happy to realize throughout my weight loss journey, our vacations have transformed as well. I put serious thought into what I wanted out of this spring break, then set some mindful plans into action. We chose a location conducive to well-being as our top priority and hit the open road.

 

Fuel stops found me jumping at the pump and avoiding the endless empty calories I used to gather from gas stations. I was prepared, having packed a jumprope and plenty of healthy snacks.

Upon reaching our destination, I knew we’d made a great choice. Check out the view literally just two steps outside our rental condo…my soul smiled when I saw the exquisite view and heard the playful stream.

Ahhhhh.

I have come to an awareness that vacation can’t mean taking time off from myself. So with that in mind, we made plans to be active. Our first day in Estes Park found us hiking picturesque Lily Mountiain…

I only regret our older son was unable to join us because this would have been right up his alley.

You should know that hiking is my thing!

However, my husband Eric is not at all fond of heights and our younger son Connor is not a fan of hiking. At all. But they both sucked it up to climb the steep two miles; although there were some pretty tense moments scrambling up the final snow-covered section the breathtaking summit was well worth the fear-factor!

 

The view was stunning and unforgettable!

The descent was tougher than I expected, but this was the kind of memory I had hoped we’d make while we were here! I’m so proud of those two!

That hike was one heck of a workout and my knee was not at all happy…traitor! The next morning it was still cranky, but I had some strength training plans!

Thank goodness for a fitness center at the resort! The rest of the day was set aside for some sightseeing, grocery shopping for the right kinds of nourishment, and relaxing.

Although many of my friends chose warmer climates for spring break, imagine my excitement when I woke up to this…

How beautiful is that?!? This Minnesota gal’s heart was warmed waking up to this gorgeous Colorado morn. And because I have goals in place, there was only one thing to do…haul over to the fitness room for some cardio!

 

And after a great sweat sesh of a warm-up, there was only one thing on my mind for a cool-down. Would you like to build a snowman?!?

Why, yes I would! My teenager had zero desire to help me, because he brought his friend named X-box haha!

So there you have it, our transformed vacation! We still have several more days to embrace all Estes Park has to offer. I’m thrilled to report, since making mindful changes to our typical vacation, I’ve yet to experience indigestion, sensory overload or exhausting. Mission accomplished!

Dietitian Store Tour

I’ve been working my way through task after task of a highly motivating Nutrition Scavenger Hunt this month, created by dietitians at my local gym. One of the suggested activities on the list is to attend a grocery shopping tour with a dietitian at Hy-Vee.

I knew Hy-Vee stores employed dietitians, but have never really known what they do there. I recently emailed Sara from one of our Rochester locations to schedule my shopping tour. She met with me earlier this week with her intern, Deanna, to give me a store tour from a dietitian’s perspective. Here, they introduced me to Bolthouse dressings (I brought home the mango chipotle…YUM).

In my 4 1/2 year get-healthy journey, I thought I knew a great deal about the multitude of products available to those who care to make more mindful choices. I’d like to think I know my way around a grocery store too. But this store is a giagantic recent addition to Rochester, and having been intimidated by its size, I shied away from it. Until now!

I mean, check out this bulk area for instance…it houses 997 items. I stood there wondering where a person would even start. But with Sara by my side, she zeroed in on one of her favorites…

Organic red lentil beans, something I never knew existed, but was glad she pointed out, because some of those went home with me!

Spending hours in a store on your own, attempting to make healthy discoveries can seem overwhelming. I know, I’ve been there so many times. But strolling through the isles with these knowledgeable ladies was a treat. They pointed out so many products that offer lower calories, lower sodium content and a cleaner list of ingredients! Take for instance this awesome tomato sauce, it contains tomatoes…and that’s it! Better yet, only 10 mg of sodium!!!

Yup, that went home with me too!

As Sara and Deanna steered me down the chip isle, I joked (actually quite seriously) there couldn’t be anything healthy in that isle! But Sara led me straight to these…

Although the calorie range is equivalent to other chips, these contain only a few ingredients, the first of which is whole navy beans! Must be why they have 5 grams of protein and fiber in each serving. I went home with the white bean chips with hint of lime flavor. I ate some last night…delish!

Snacks can sometimes get me in trouble, but these flackers were developed by a doctor to promote health in a multitude of ways…how cool is that?!?

The tour lasted an hour, but Sara and Deanna’s recommendation list went far beyond! I’ve become aware of so many new super food items, many with convenience in mind…like this ready-made quinoa.

And these amazing cauliflower crumbles that save time and mess!

I’d show you the spiralized veggies that intrigued me, but I can’t; when I went back to choose some, they were sold out!

I’m happy to know there are some great products out there to replace others that didn’t fit well in my diet, like these seasonings to help me avoid salt.

And how about these instead of tortillas? At 60 calories and a plethora of flavors, I’d reach for these every time!

It was eye-opening what I learned in an hour. Sara, many thanks for your expertise and willingness to spend an hour with me, so glad Deanna accompanied us too. I’ve gained much valuable insight!

I’m freshly inspired knowing there’s even an ice cream out there that aligns with my goals!

Shout out to the Rochester Athletic Club dietitians for such an innovative way to observe National Nutrition Month; I’m off to complete another task on the scavenger hunt!

The Garbacado Sandwich

Hey, Fellow FIT BFFs, I’m working on a cool Nutrition Scavenger Hunt that’s taking place at my gym this month. One of the tasks included is to prepare one new recipe a week from the in-house dieticians’ cookbook. I opted to modify the recipe to include the Seedtastic bread I found at Aldi last week. If you missed my excitement over that bread, you can read about it here.

It’s no secret…I LOVE avocados; this is a great meatless recipe that incorporates that love! Here’s my modified version…

The Garbacado Sandwich

Ingredients:

1 slice Aldi Seedtastic bread, toasted

1/4 avocado

1/4 cup garbanzo beans

1/4 cup chopped cucumber

salt to taste (I used Himalayan salt)

 

Directions:

Mash together garbanzo beans, avocado and salt, mix in chopped cucumber. Cut toasted bread in half. Place garbacao mixture on bread, enjoy open-faced or classic sandwich-style.

Contains 232 calories, 36 grams carbs, 8 grams fat, 9 grams protein, 11 grams fiber

Found Another Favorite!

Friends, are you hungry for something spectacularly healthy? I sure was recently when I dined at Applebee’s. I found a spectacular entree that is both a flavor and nutritional thumbs up!

But that’s nothing new, I’ve been happily dining off Applebee’s Lighter Fare menu section for years; the calorie information is right there on the menu. I know I can easily stay within my calorie range and that’s why I’ll return again and again. Plus, I’m kind of partial to a very friendly, young conscienctious server named Logan.

I’ve learned that by trying new things often, I find new favorites that help me stay motivated to keep on track. When Logan served up this plate of awesome, I knew I’d found a new love!

Friends, this generously portioned (Lent-friendly) Shrimp Wonton Stir-Fry contains a mere 580 calories, yet supplies a whopping 24 grams of protein. And, as delicious and satisfying as it was, I have a new favorite; I can’t wait to order it again! Applebee’s, you just keep doing it…you make eating out so simple for my FIT BFFs and me!