The Dreaded Plateau!

plateaupicUgh! The word sends shivers down our spines! It ‘s not a fun place to visit. Nobody wants to go there, stay there or spend any amount of time there. Unfortunately, many of us end up there and find it VERY hard to leave! We’ve been talking about the dreaded plateau in my challenge groups because it can be SO frustrating to know you’re doing the work, and you’re eating healthy foods, so WHY GOD WHY are you STUCK?!

I know all too well what this feels like. And worse is that when I was there, I convinced myself there was no way off! I was working out almost every day. I was eating ‘healthy’ foods every day, too! I told myself, “Self, you’re 40 now, and this is it, the end. There will be no more progress, no matter what you do, from here on out. That’s it, you’re done.” “SHUT UP SELF! YOU’RE WRONG!” Anywho…then I had this crazy idea that I should give fitness coaching a try! WHY NOT!? That was my ticket OFF the plateau! I didn’t know it then, but I DID have it in me to get off that damn plateau! And what’s great is that it happened while I was helping other people on their fitness journeys. My success was just a big fat BONUS! So 22 pounds later, I’m off the dreaded plateau and finding that my body had it in her to take it to the next level after all. The key is mixing it up, don’t get comfortable and don’t get complacent! Don’t convince yourself – like I did – that you’re too old, too overweight, too busy, too ANYTHING! Just find a way and get it done.

Here is something I wrote to my challenge groups the other day about getting off the plateau:

“If you’re on a plateau, it sucks, but there are ways to bust through. First, look at your workout and if you haven’t mixed it up in the last 30 days, start there. Kick it up a notch. Look into a new program. Change up your routine. Do something you’ve never done. Think outside the box! Increase intensity. Go outside your comfort zone! You really need to get uncomfortable to supercharge your results. And possibly even more importantly is your nutrition. Again you need to be SO on point in order to break through the dreaded plateau! That means NO cheats! 5-6 small meals/day consisting of clean, whole foods and very little or NO processed foods! Keep sodium in check. Eat lean proteins and LOTS of veggies. Don’t eat until you’re full; eat to be satisfied and know when to step away (you can eat again in 2-3 hours). Try not to snack before bed – last food about 2 hours before hitting the hay. Plateaus can be so tricky and frustrating! So you have to really dig deep and push hard! Your body gets comfy when you stall at a weight. It fights to keep you there. What you’re doing is forcing a new baseline weight. It takes effort and a new commitment. But if you’ve made it to a plateau, it means you’ve done the work to get there so you know what it takes to push yourself again! You can do it! I can help!” Help

A few days later I posted this article, which seemed to click with a lot of them! Check it out!

5 Ways to Break through Dreaded Weight Loss Plateaus

The bottom line is you have to get creative. If you typically do a lot of cardio, start incorporating weights into your fitness routine. If you do the SAME things every time you workout, it’s time to switch it up. Beachbody carefully constructs their workout programs/schedules to account for the muscle confusion and switch-ups your body needs in order to NOT get too comfortable. The rule of thumb is that every 30 days you should be changing something up a little, or a lot! I went from Turbo Fire to Chalean Extreme to Les Mills Pump and now I’m on to Insanity and with EACH new workout, I’m impressed with how my body responds in a different way. Combine that with proper nutrition, hitting your calorie goals each day and BOOM! you’re on your way to the next level, off the plateau and on too bigger hills to climb! 🙂 You’ve got this! Just keep swimming – or climbing I guess! 🙂

Bucket List

Happy Memorial Day and unofficial start to summer. Here in the midwest, I have to say it doesn’t feel much like summer this weekend. But it’s been perfect weather for tackling all of the outdoor projects. I’ve shoveled many yards of soil and mulch this weekend and have the blisters and achin’ back to prove it! At least I wasn’t sweating profusely like in years past. So how’s that for looking on the bright side!? I am however, looking forward to steady, warmer temps ahead so that we can start checking off some of the items on our Summer Bucket List!

What is the “Summer Bucket List?”

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On one of our many LONG car-rides, we decided to put together a list of things that we’d all like to try to do this summer. The kids came up with some really good ideas. Some of them are so simple, like: skipping stones and climbing trees… 🙂 But they’re important just the same. Other items that came up made me laugh. I came to the realization that we have never, ever, all 6 of us together at the same time, been to a movie theatre! Well…perhaps it’s because we would have to take out a second mortgage on the house in order to afford such an outing! Lucky for us, in the small town where we live now, there’s a cute little old-timey movie theater that is MUCH more affordable than it was for all of us to go when we lived near Chicago. So, I think we’ll be able to check that off the list after all!

We’ve already been able to cross off a few. We’ve had TWO bonfires already and we just picked asparagus the other day! SCORE!

They want to watch stars, chart the moon’s phases, stay up late and watch for shooting stars, go fishing, eat corn on the cob, fly kites, watch a sunset, etc….

One that made me smile was when they decided they wanted to save up some money over the summer and donate it to a good cause. <Pitter Pat> goes my heart!

It’s funny, but most of the 40 items they chose would cost very little to NO money at all! And that makes me happy and also realize that the little things really mean the most when you’re a kid!

So here’s to summer! Go make a Summer Bucket List with your family! You might be surprised with some of the ideas they come up with for must-do summer activities! 🙂

Challenge = Change

ChallengeChangeAs I’m getting ready to open my eighth monthly health/fitness challenge, I’m struck by some of the results that I’ve seen come out of them! I’ve heard from a few previous challenge participants over the last couple of days and their results are more than encouraging! These kind of results prove that true change happens when you challenge yourself to replace old habits with newer, healthier habits. It’s the lifestyle change that sets these amazing transformations into motion! The purpose of these challenges is not to get you in the best shape of your life in only 30 days. Rather, it’s to learn how to take care of yourself, and find motivation that you never knew you had, so that you can continue on your journey beyond the challenge.

They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. I’ve seen it happen time and again. Once you get used to the idea of eating cleaner, healthier foods, and making your daily workouts non-negotiable, you start to tackle every day with a new determination and purpose.

These challenge groups work because they combine all of the crucial elements. You get to pick a workout that suits you. Not everyone is expected to do the same workouts, what fun would that be? You have to find something that you enjoy, so that you can stick with it! The good news is that there are MANY to pick from. I personally have done Turbo Jam (seems like a million years ago!), P90X (all 90 days!), Turbo Fire, Chalean Extreme, Les Mills Pump and now Insanity! Some people think that DVD programs would never work, or that they might get boring. That might have been true 10 years ago, but they have changed! You don’t just get one or two DVD’s, you get an entire folder full of DVD’s, each with different workouts, meant to be done on different days. Furthermore, there is a always program calendar to follow (usually 60-90 days) developed by fitness professionals that understand the importance of muscle confusion and well-timed rest days, etc. AND, there are usually some REALLY good tunes to work out to, which always helps me stay motivated!

The second part is nutrition. This was the game-changer for me. I always thought I ate pretty ‘healthy’, but I was definitely eating a lot of processed foods with labels like “low-fat”, and “sugar-free”, thinking that these things were healthy! Now, I’m not saying I don’t eat anything with those labels anymore, but I have switched a lot of it out for clean, healthy, unprocessed, whole foods. When I did, I started to see results like I had never seen before. I was so skeptical about Shakeology before I started, but honestly… now I can’t imagine a day without it! It is so satisfying, and full of nutrition! It curbs my cravings (especially the sweet-tooth cravings!), keeps me regular (if you know what I mean) and gives me enough energy to get through my very busy days! I drink it as one of my 5-6 small meals each day. Eating more often throughout the day, instead of 3 BIG meals, keeps me satisfied all day without the need to STUFF myself because I’m starving! You’ve heard the saying: “Abs are made in the kitchen”, and it’s true! You can work out everyday at high intensity, do crunches and planks galore, but if you’re not eating the right kinds of foods, you’ll never see what’s going on under that belly fat. I always share my meal plan, as well as some of the recipes that I’ve discovered along the way. It is NOT a diet, it’s a lifestyle change!  diet_over

The third and most important element is ACCOUNTABILITY! You can exercise and eat healthy all on your own, right? Well, when you have a group of people, who all have similar goals and expectations, and you report to them every day about your workouts, nutrition, victories and struggles…it just takes it to a whole new level! There’s just something about knowing that you’re going to tell people either “I crushed my workout today”, or “I skipped my workout today”, that motivates you to get it done! You’ll get to look forward to weekly progress checks and celebrate with the group when you’re making progress! Having that kind of support makes the process so positive and fun!

So without further ado, I’d like to share some of the results that have been reported.

  • Since I started, I’ve lost 22 pounds and about 16 inches. (Chalean Extreme, TurboFire, Les Mills Pump & Insanity + Shakeology)
  • Jen has lost 24 pounds and 21 inches! (Chalean Extreme & cardio + Shakeology)
  • Michele has lost 21 pounds and 23 inches! (Chalean Extreme, Turbo Fire, Hip Hop Abs + Shakeology)
  • Gretchen is down 27.5 pounds since she started a few months ago! (Turbo Fire & Yoga)
  • Barb is 62 years old and so far has lost 17 pounds and 19 1/2 inches! (Walking, body-weight exercises & Tai Cheng + Shakeology)
  • My mom, age 63, is down 7 pounds and 6 inches, and looks & feels better than ever! (Slim in 6, Turbo Fire, Chalean Extreme and running)
  • Lisa went from a size 14 to a size 8 and is down a total of 24 inches! (Chalean Extreme + Shakeology)
  • Jessica has lost 12 pounds and over 11 inches and is close to being as fit as she was when she was a college athlete! (Les Mills Pump & cardio + Shakeology)

And these are just a handful of the results I’ve seen! There are lots of reports of losing 10 – 15 pounds in the 30 days of the challenge, but it’s the results that go beyond that, that are SO incredibly inspiring. It makes me feel so good to know that the challenge causes a change in the way we think, eat, exercise and live! It works, if you do! Interested? Ready to start your own transformation? Check out the “30 Day Challenge” link at the top of this page.

FITNESS + NUTRITION + SUPPORT = SUCCESS!

Let’s Catch up, and Plan Some Meals!

First, here’s what happens when you’re not the greatest muti-tasker in the world. I get big ideas, and try to spin as many plates as I can at the same time. So, earlier, while I was preparing and putting our dinner into the crock pot to enjoy later, I had some leftover ground turkey that I didn’t want to freeze. I thought, “Hey, I’ll just patty these suckers up and throw them on the grill to enjoy later on this week”. I like to add them to salads, wraps, etc…so I’m thinking ahead, right? Well, thinking ahead is no good, unless you continue thinking until your project is complete. I slapped them on the grill, as planned, and got busy spinning at least four other plates and totally forgot about them until about 45 minutes later. And the only reason I remember them at that point, was because someone randomly used the word “turkey”. TURKEY!!! $#*T! And this was the finished product of that experiment.

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Luckily dinner was a success! That meatloaf recipe is SO good and SO easy! It turns out GREAT every time! And the only thing that I do differently is to add 1 C. ground oats (the old-fashioned, rolled kind), because I don’t know nothing bout no whole wheat panko – I haven’t located such a thing as of yet! My mom always uses oats in her loaves of meat, so I knew it would work out just fine!

I made it through my first week of Insanity…relatively unscathed! It’s become evident that I will be doing extra loads of laundry for the duration! I get sweatier during this workout than any I’ve done thus far. Even sweatier than when I run! I don’t mind it though. It’s a challenge for sure, but I love the feeling of doing something that has been a little out of my comfort zone and finding that I CAN do it! Yes it’s hard, but if it wasn’t, there’d be no point in doing it! I’m flirting with the idea of doing a hybrid with Chalean Extreme and only because I LOVE lifting so much. I really love the results that I get when I do it and I don’t want to lose ground on all of the hard work I’ve put in with Chalean Extreme AND Les Mills Pump. I want the benefits of both cardio AND weights! Also, I’m a little ADD…and it helps to mix it up a little during the week.

And now on to the meal plan…I sat outside on this glorious, sunny, summer-like spring day with some of my Beachbody cookbooks. I grabbed the Food Guides from Les Mills Pump and Chalean Extreme; there’s some good eats in there! Just trying a few different recipes this week…mixing it up…keeping it fresh…you know. Also, I had to include a couple of meals that STILL have not been cooked from like 2 weeks ago. This is the time of year when wrenches are thrown left and right! You gotta stay on your toes! I WILL cook those pizzas on the grill if it KILLS me!!! I’m going to be grilling up some flank steak this week, too. I’m a little nervous, because I don’t believe I’ve had beef more than once since about October! I hope it doesn’t wreak havoc on my already ‘iffy’ digestive system! Fingers crossed!

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Click here to print and link to recipes.

Have an over the top FAN-FREAKIN-TASTIC week! 🙂

Over-Achieving…Just Made My Breakfast!

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I just whipped up two more jars of these overnight oats and remembered that I didn’t share this recipe on the blog yet. And since my mom gets mad at me if I have new recipes that I don’t share here…it needed to be posted ASAP!  My husband LOVES these and so do I! It’s so easy, and in the morning he can just grab a jar and head into work. He eats them as is, right out of the jar. I, on the other had, prefer to put mine in a fancy bowl, microwave for a couple of minutes, add some extra ingredients: more berries, slivered almonds, protein powder, almond butter, various garnishes and the like. Either way, you can’t beat a 5 minute prep the night before and an easy grab-n-go breakfast in the morning!

Go make some! And sleep tight!

OOPS! I FORGOT TO BUY A CARD!

0810121926aMy mom loves a good, mushy Mother’s Day card, and although her gift is in the mail (No REALLY, it is!!), I didn’t get a card out this year. So I’ll take this opportunity to ‘mush’ it up right here, in hopes that she’ll check my blog and feel all warm and fuzzy!

For starters…I’d like to thank my mom for a few things.

Dear Mom,

First, Thanks for giving birth to me! That was a big day in my life! (Sorry about the salad tongs.)

Thanks for taking good care of me: wiping tears, cleaning boo boos and such. (That pink stuff that burned like toxic FIRE POISON…I could have done without.)

Thanks for sticking up for me when neighbor Brian bit me repeatedly and also teaching me “Sticks and Stones” to shout at mean kids from behind our screen door!

Thanks for screaming at Mrs. Dennis on my behalf, where all of my classmates could see what a bad-a$$ you were!

Thanks for taking the time to teach me stuff and take me places.

You are responsible for: 

  • my belief that anything is possible – even making an ice rink in the middle of our yard on the coldest day of winter! (Sorry about the pleurisy!)
  • my uncanny ability to be late for almost everything!
  • my lack of buttocks.
  • my LOVE of Swiss Chard!
  • my pursuit of health and fitness!
  • my bunions! 😉
  • returning all of my friends’ clothes and retrieving mine from them.

And without you I wouldn’t have:

  • learned how to cook.
  • long legs.
  • 4 kids that turned out just like me! (Just as you’d hoped!)
  • learned the importance of recycling paper grocery bags by using them for my lunch sack.
  • all the memories! Like: fresh-baked bread with the first-picked tomato of the season, swinging on the saucer swing in the back yard, sledding, camping, fishing, bringing home dad’s puppy, egg-nog, scaring bats away, playing games, staying up late and laughing! Lots and lots of laughing! 🙂

So…Happy Mother’s Day Mom! You are responsible for all the good (and a little of the bad) in me! 😀

Love, Angie

Tie Myself to the Furniture

tied_chairDesperate time, desperate measures.

I just did a little 2 day stint in the hospital that has really let the air out of my tires. The long and short of it is that they think I may have gotten a virus, on top of a possible bacterial infection, mixed together with a pre-existing case of gastritis. Put it all together and you get me, laying in a heap on the bathroom floor, moaning, groaning, cold-sweating and scaring the people who live in my house. It wasn’t pretty. Hubby called 911, and much to my own shock, I didn’t protest. I needed to go.

So, after several iv pokes, all-day and all-night alarms sounding, 1 ugly pair of socks, multiple doses of hazy-fog pain medications, lots of vitals checked-many times and a gazillion tests, I’m home. And although I’m feeling MUCH better than I was when I went in, I’m still not quite 100% yet. I might not even be  90%, but I’ll get there.

When I have a sniffly cold, or a sore throat, headache kinda thing going on…I almost always workout anyway. It doesn’t make me feel any better or any worse… usually. But since it’s part of my daily routine, it’s just what I do to stay on track. This however, is an entirely different story. I read somewhere that the rule of thumb is above the neck, and you’re probably fine to workout. Below the neck, maybe not. If you have a chest cold…maybe running 5 miles in the cold isn’t a great idea. Just saying. But, a bad tummy AND a trip to the hospital means I’m going to need to ease back into things. I think I’ll go for a walk tomorrow…but there’s a little voice in my head trying to talk me into getting back to Insanity! After all…I had only JUST done the Fit Test the day of the night I ended up in the hospital. I’d like to see what’s next. That voice is trying to get me in trouble. Because the voice of reason – that makes an occasional appearance in my head – begs to differ. If that little trouble-maker voice keeps it up, I’m going to have one of the kids tie me to a chair. I think they’ll enjoy that.

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For now, I’ll look for opportunities to rest. I’ll try to sit once or twice during the day. I’ll even try to get myself into bed at a respectable hour. But look out, cause when I’m feeling better…I’ll be ready to hit the ground running, jumping, skipping, hopping and burpee-ing all over my basement! Fer real!  🙂

And Now the Meal Plan

This is a crowd-pleasing meal plan this week! My kids will enjoy dinner every night! I’m going to keep telling myself that until I believe it! LOL! No really…actually…these are a lot of our favorite recipes. Tonight, in celebration of Cinco de Mayo, we’ll have shredded chicken tacos, and the kids really like them! I’ll have to blog about my Spanish quinoa soon. I make this instead of Spanish rice, and nobody even complained about it! I’m going to have a little more time on my hands this week than I did last week, thank goodness! I’ll be able to spend a little more time in the kitchen. Hopefully not TOO much time though. 🙂

I’m starting Insanity this week, which I’ve built up in my head to be this super, crazy, impossible thing that is hard, intense and demoralizing. I am hoping that the more I convince myself of this, the more relieved I will be to learn that it is not the case. I will do the fit test tomorrow, so we’ll see how it goes. I’ll keep you posted!

Have a wonderful week!

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Click here to print and link to recipes.

I Got Your BARS Right Here!

This past week was a week that we were on the go a LOT! I needed a variety of quick and easy snacks and meals and drinks, that were pack-able and family friendly. It was a week that screamed GRANOLA BARS! I tried a couple different recipes, changed them up to our tastes, and they were both a hit! The first one is a baked ‘power bar’ recipe. They were fruity, nutty and tasty. We stored them in the fridge and they were an easy-peasy grab and go snack. Based on my calculations, these come in around 140 calories per bar.

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The second batch is my favorite, and the kids’ favorite as well. It is a no-bake crispy granola bar. I made mine chocolate-y, but as with the above recipe, there is a lot of room for variation. You could make them with just about anything you like. Here is how I made mine.

This will make a LARGE batch or 48 bars. I have 4 kids and I need to make it worth my while. If I want them to last more than a day, I have to make a TON! So, if you want less…well…I think you understand. 🙂

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Ingredients:

5 C. of Crispy Rice cereal (I used Mom’s Best-no artificial flavors or preservatives…also gluten free!)

3 C. oats (quick cooking OR old-fashioned work fine)   granolabar2

1 C. raisins (or Craisins, whatever you like)

1 C. honey

3/4 C. Almond butter (any nut butter)

1/4 C. coconut oil (as you can see I used mine all up!)

2 t. vanilla extract

Directions:

1.In a large bowl, stir together the rice cereal, oats and raisins. Set aside. Spray a large jelly roll pan, or 2- 9×13″ pans with cooking spray.

2. Combine honey and coconut oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Heat until JUST bubbling, then remove from heat and stir in the almond butter and vanilla until smooth. Pour over cereal and oat mixture and toss until evenly coated.

3. Pour mixture into pan and press firmly using the back of a spoon, spatula OR even better – use your hands! (I rub mine with a little coconut oil first). It will seem like a hopeless mess at this point, but if you keep pressing until it comes together…everything will be ok. Trust me! Allow to cool and then cut into squares.

4. Definitely keep these in the fridge OR even the freezer until you’re ready to eat. The coconut oil really helps to keep these together nicely.

5. Enjoy! Made this way, each bar is about 95 calories! 🙂