Tag Archives: happy

Workout Wednesday: Total Body #4

This past Saturday was the last class of the first ever session of my boot camp. Luckily I found some great friends to be my guinea pigs and they were perfect. So enthusiastic and responsive. It was really fun to teach them every week and I learned a ton. Unfortunately (but really very fortunately) I got a second job and won’t have much time to nurture this fun gathering I call my bootcamp. The jury is still out until I can see how this new routine settles in. I’m really crossing my fingers that I will be able to muster the energy to do more.

But until I figure that out, I’ll keep doing (and posting) workouts. So here’s this gem from the last week of class. Get sweaty and enjoy!20 minute total body 4

Also, if anyone has any questions about form, pain, awkwardness, etc, feel free to comment and ask! I usually answer within 12 hours. Hope you’re all having happy days 🙂

Tasty Tuesday: Sweet Potato Home Fries

Happy Tuesday! In an effort to cut back on our grocery bill, I’m only buying produce for the entire month of April. It seems that it’s really the organic, natural packaged crap that’s expensive, so we’re doing a lot of fruit and veg this month. In that vain, I had no idea what to pair with the salmon I cooked the other night, so I made it up … sweet potato home fries! These babies keep great in the fridge. They’re delicious warm and really yummy cold too.

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Sweet Potato Home Fries (serves: 4, cook time: 30 minutes)

Ingredients:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup high heat oil
  • sea salt and ground pepper

Instructions:

  1. Chop the potatoes, mushrooms, and onion into bite-sized chunks. Mince the garlic on top of the potatoes.
  2. Heat the skillet to medium first, THEN add half the oil. Coat the bottom of your skillet.
  3. Add sweet potatoes, garlic, and onions and spread in an even layer in the skillet. Cook on medium-high heat, uncovered until potatoes are browned and onions are caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add the rest of the oil, slowly, as needed. Take care not to mess with them too much, flip potatoes once or twice in the entire 10-ish minutes.
  4. When your mix is pretty well cooked, add the mushrooms. These are already soft so they don’t take much cooking. Cook for a few more minutes to heat up the mushrooms.
  5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy!

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Ashley Life Update: I had a wonderful weekend at a friend’s wedding in Louisiana. Got to hang out with my immediate family (see my sister’s and I above) and a lot of friends I haven’t seen in a long time. And the 13 hour drive there and back wasn’t too bad. We set up a bed in the back of the car and then whoever was driving listened to books on tape. Man those things pass the time!

We also stopped at an epic Country Buffet in Arkansas (the best in the state). I swear I had no idea that America had areas like that. Just VERY southern. That’s why I love road trips, you see cultures you never would have explored otherwise.

AND, another plus, we finally got some communication from Mike’s job. We should be finding out our next stop in the next couple weeks and the options are looking good!

I hope you all had great weekends too! Love and hugs – Ash

 

Thriving Thursday: Free Makeover?

Caution: Men you may be very bored by this post. Ladies on the other hand, huddle around, it’s story time. Ok, so I was perusing TJ Maxx looking for summer dresses when a woman walked up to me, “I just have to tell you, you have beautiful skin.” Hah! Maybe from over there but get a little closer and you’ll see how wrong you are. “No! You have gorgeous skin!”

This woman was about my age, stunning with a brunette bob and huge almond eyes. And dressed stylishly to boot. And here she was telling me that I had gorgeous skin. I knew there was something wrong with this picture. But I went with it anyway. I was curious where she was going with this. Turns out, she works for Mary Kay. If you provide the location and friends, they will come over and do your makeup for free! Obviously they hope that you buy something but there’s no obligation. So she took my number and promised to call.

I got back to the office later that afternoon and my coworker, Elle, sidles over to me and says, “You’ll never guess what happened to me today. A woman walked up to me in TJ Maxx and said I had beautiful skin…” You can guess where it goes from here. Same woman, same store, different days. And we are coworkers!

So obviously it’s some way for her to make money but at the bottom of the situation there were FREE MAKEOVERS! So we thought it over, we communicated with Emily, our Mary Kay consultant, and we decided that we wanted to get them done before a night out.

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So a few Saturday’s ago, I cooked up some appetizers and several ladies, including Elle, sat around my dining room table with bare faces. It’s amazing how naked you feel without makeup on, especially around relative strangers. Of course I forgot to take photos when all the food and makeup was on the table but the above photo is us with Emily looking all beautimous.

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All the significant others sat and watched March Madness while Emily guided us through our makeovers. She gave each of us some great tips and gorgeous makeup supplies. Being the hostess, I got a sweet deal of $75 worth of makeup for $35.

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After we had finished the makeovers and the men had told us how gorgeous we looked, we went line dancing! It was a fantastic night and so cheap! I love the makeup and face wash I bought and Emily got another party out of it. I highly recommend a Mary Kay Makeover to anyone looking for a fun Ladies Night. If you live in Peoria, let me know and I’ll get you Emily’s contact info.

I hope you’re all having fantastic days. Love and hugs – Ash

ps. I’ll be on vacation in Louisiana this weekend for a good friend’s wedding so no post tomorrow or Monday. Enjoy your weekends!

Thriving Thursday: Grocery Shopping Guide

In talking to people all over my community, I’ve discovered that very few of them know how to grocery shop. We have SO many options. When you’re trying to get healthy, what’s the right brand of healthy to buy? This is a simple beginner’s guide to healthy grocery shopping.

So here is a set of rules to help you navigate more quickly through the maze of choices.

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1. Always start with the whole foods. Start in the produce section and let yourself salivate over the deep orange bell peppers or in-season strawberries. If your store has them, move on to the bulk seeds and nuts. Then peruse the other sections, skipping processed foods whenever possible.  Focus your efforts where you can find the most nutrients: in whole foods!

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2. Check the INGREDIENTS not the nutrition panel. Only buy processed food that you can’t find in a whole food form. We have been trained to look at the nutrition panel on all packaged foods. How many calories, how much fat, and sodium, etc. But new research and my personal observation shows that it’s the ingredients that matter, not the nutritional breakdown. The fewer ingredients the better and make sure you can recognize the name of everything in the processed food you’re eating.

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3. Avoid sugar like the plague. When you start looking at ingredients in processed food, you’ll notice that sugar is added to EVERYTHING. Check out this post for why sugar is bad. Aside from the obvious “sugar,” Anything ending in “-ose” is sugar including sucrose, fructose, and glucose. Any “gum” is considered sugar including lecithin gum and xanthan gum. And any kind of “syrup” is sugar including brown rice sugar. And finally, ASPARTAME IS EVIL. It’s a neurotoxin. Check the post mentioned above for more info.

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4. NEVER buy “low-fat” or “reduced fat” or “1%” fat or any product from which they’ve removed the fat. This includes milk. Buy whole milk! when manufacturers remove the fat, the concentration of sugar in the substance is even higher. They even add sugar sometimes (!) because the product tastes so bad without its natural fat. Seriously. So it has higher sugar content but a lot of those fats are actually very good for you. They are necessary for your bodies proper function. So just keep the fat in!

There are only a few guiding principles to the beginner’s healthy shopping but man they are whoppers. Budget double the time it normally takes you to shop, at least until you can find the brands you like. Once you’re adjusted you’ll zoom through the grocery store once again!

I hope you’re all having fantabulous days. Love and a big smile 🙂 – Ash

Workout Wednesday: Perceived Threshold

People ask me every Tuesday night whether I’m going to take it easy on them or kill them with this workout. My reply is always that I’ll make you feel like you’re dying but you’ll feel amazing afterward. And it’s true!

With these types of workouts, you should be going at such an effort that your muscles stop working, your lungs are burning, and you feel an achy pain in muscles you didn’t even know you had. As long as you are not feeling sharp pain anywhere, and are focusing on correct form, you are doing it right. (If you start to experience sharp pain of any kind, especially in joints, stop that exercise immediately and consult a doc about it.)

So keep going, hard. Work through the pain. The thing that separates you and a higher level of fitness is the ability to push past your perceived threshold. You can always go faster, jump higher, and lunge lower. No excuses!

And now … the workout!

Beginner through intermediate (12 minutes)

– 20 seconds on/ 20 seconds off

– each exercise 3 times in a row

Advanced (16 minutes)

– 30 seconds on/ 10 seconds off

– each exercise 4 times in a row

Exercises:

High Knees

1. high knees (hold your hands at a certain height and bring your knees to touch them)

TriDip

2. tri dips (legs bent in or held straight out)

calfjump

3. calf jumps (too easy? jump higher, jump faster, hold weights in your hands)

crunches

4. crunches (focus on lifting your shoulders, DO NOT pull on your neck; beginner-feet on ground, intermediate-feet at right angle, advanced-feet in air)

plank(better)

5. plank tick tock (beginner-knees or elbows on ground, intermediate-full plank, advanced-lift one leg and, keeping it straight, swing it out to the side, then bring it back to center and do the same with the other leg, in a pendulum-like motion)

Lunge

6. speed lunges (keep feet planted and bounce upper body up and down, switch legs at half-way point)

+ Fit Minute. Choose one of the following exercises. Do it for a full minute at 100% effort. Count how many you do and record it. We’ll be doing these after every workout from now on:

  • Level 1 – side to side steps or jumping jacks
  • Level 2 – push ups
  • Level 3 – burpees

I hope you get all charged up after these workouts like I do. Love and a big smile 🙂 – Ash

Tasty Tuesday: Banana Nut Bread

This bread is delicious. Really, really good. It’s moist and naturally sweet; and the texture is like butter in your mouth. Yummy. It can take up to 45 minutes to prepare and an hour to cook so do it on a Sunday and make a big batch. It freezes really well so leftovers are a good thing!

I found the recipe on another blog (Skinny Ms) and then tweaked it a bit. I took out the stevia and oat bran and added gluten-free oats and walnuts.

Because it’s high in protein, sugar-free, and very low in grains, you can eat it any time of day. We had it last night for dessert and this morning for breakfast. Toast it for a few minutes for an even more satisfying experience.

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Banana Nut Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 granny smith apples
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 8 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup almond meal/ almond flour
  • 1 cup whole, gluten-free oats
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180°F. Lightly coat loaf pan with 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil.
  2. Peel, core, and dice apples into small pieces. Sauté with 1/2 tsp. cinnamon on medium heat until brown (about 5 minutes).
  3. In a large bowl mix together the almond meal, oats, baking powder, remaining cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
  4. In another bowl mix olive oil, eggs, almond milk, and vanilla.
  5. Slowly add the liquid mixture to the dry mixture (in about 4 batches).
  6. In the now empty liquid mixture bowl, mash all 3 bananas.
  7. Fold bananas and apples into the large bowl mixture.
  8. Spoon into the loaf pan. Cook for about 50 minutes or until a wooden skewer or toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Let cool in pan and then enjoy!

I highly recommend this one. It really is delicious. Let me know how it goes! A big hug and a smile. – Ash

 

Mindful Monday: Online Dating

I’m in a relationship. A fantastic one that brings me happiness every single day. But I was one of the lucky ones who found a partner in college. What if you’re not that lucky?

Mike and I talk a lot about how different it must be to be in a relationship in 2013 than it was in 1980. There are more opportunities to meet people from far away, communication is made so much easier through technology, and there are less barriers for women to be successful.

But when it all comes down to it, a relationship only works in the long run if you live in the same city, share common interests, and are a shooting for common goals. No matter what year it is, that’s a tough set of requirements.

That problem poses the technological solution: online dating. The stigma around it is slowly disintegrating. It’s now common place for singles of all life situations, from young professionals to older retirees, to join the many programs out there. Anyway! A blog I regularly read (Once a Month for Ladies) just posted the story of one such program. It’s a short but interesting read and reflects the harrows and successes of completely blind dates.

Grouper: The date. Not the fish.

– Once a Month for Ladies

I hope you’re all having awesome days. Love and a sweet smile. – Ash