Why am I so sluggish?!

You know the look on many days of the week, when co-workers come into the office half-asleep, or just can’t seem to get up enough energy to think clearly for a meeting.

We’ve all been there ourselves and it’s NOT fun.

Sometimes our long-term tiredness is a deeper issue, like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Depression or a thyroid condition, but often times, it is simply a matter of our lifestyle choices. Take inventory of this list if you’ve been feeling sluggish to see what you might be able to get back in balance! You’ve gotta choose what’s best for the one body you’ve been given!

Sleep. DUH. The obvious #1. You’re not getting enough sleep! (7-9 hours) OR you’re inconsistent about it. 5 hours during the week and 15 hours a night over the weekend isn’t going to cut it. A crazy sleep schedule makes your body have a “hangover effect”. Try to get to bed within an hour of the same time each night, and not to look at your phone an hour before bed to keep your brain from feeling over stimulated. There is no shame in prioritizing your sleep when possible!

Your Nutrition is off. Lots of sugar spiking your blood-sugar? Simple Carbs not filling you up? Junk food putting you in a food-coma? Late night eating not giving your body enough time to digest during the night? Vitamin D or Iron deficiencies? These can ALL leave you feeling down. Try to eat veggies with at least 2 meals a day and not after 8pm to solve this. Your body will thank you for the nutrients, fiber, and protein to keep you energized. Think green: peas, spinach, brussel sprouts, and broccoli.

Your Liver is overworked from removing junk food toxic chemicals because of your diet. It’s totally singing “You’re toxic, I’m slippin’ under…” Lack of energy, headaches, brain fog, can all be a result of the weighed-down CEO of your body: your liver. Don’t be so hard on it! Looking for an awesome way to DETOX for a fresh start? Check out this safe and effective 3 day refresh to kick start and clean up!

Water Water Water. Dehydration makes your blood volume thinner, so your heart has to work harder making you feel more tired. Think about drinking HALF your body weight in ounces! Have a water bottle with you all day. If nothing else, maybe having to pee will get you to stand up and walk around 🙂

Sitting all day looking at a computer screen can wipe you out. Then all we feeling like doing is coming home and sitting some more. This is totally my downfall! I know it’s awkward or inconvenient but for every 30 minutes you sit, you need to move for 5 minutes to get your heart rate up. My personal favorite is walking to the bathroom and doing some squats in there. Stand at your desk for 10 minutes. Turn the brightness on your screen WAY down to reduce eye strain that makes you tired.

Move More. Also maybe an obvious one! Exercise is proven to significantly improve the sleep of people who have insomnia. It improves circulation and oxygen flow to help you sleep deeper, and relieves stress to help you fall asleep faster. BUT, like anything, too much of a good thing can ruin it. If you’re exercising TOO MUCH, like really long hard cardio sessions every day wearing yourself out, your body may be depleted of minerals and/or calories and be in a constant state of inflammation that makes you feel sluggish. Proper balance is everything!

You’re overdoing it. We can’t all be superheroes. We can’t be ALL things in the same season of life. I hate to break it to you, but there are only 24 hours in a day…If you’re over worked, over socialized, over tasked, and under taken care of, you’ll break. It’s called burning the candle at both ends. The goal is to take time, even if it’s 5 minutes every morning, to FIND REST and PEACE. The world won’t fall apart if you’re not always in control. YES we have responsibilities, but we cannot fully accomplish them if we are functioning at 50% all the time. It’s okay to scale back, or even take a break just for a time. In this busy world, the art of saying “NO” is really helpful in getting a good night’s rest.

Rest

“Fancy” Family Dinner

My husband’s college roommate came into town Sunday afternoon, and by time I got back from babysitting and girl time at 6pm, I realized I probably should make them dinner while they were catching up and lost in the world of business endeavors. Of course I wanted to make something a little fancier than normal because we had a guest, but also something filling and healthy that I would want to eat too. Cooking for two grown men has to be hardy enough!

My first thought was the organic zucchini squash I picked up over the weekend (thank goodness I just went grocery shopping!!) and was determined to finally use a wedding gift. Thanks also to the person that got us the viral veggie cutter! I went out on a limb trying it for the first time with a guest, but I was VERY surprised at how easy it was.

1. I just twisted the zucchini into a skillet with olive oil on medium heat and added some minced garlic seasoning. I used 4 smaller sized zucchini, which was the perfect amount for 3 people, as the noodles shrink a little when cooked. I flipped it and pushed it around off and on for about 10 minutes. After draining it, I just added some pasta sauce and served it like a pasta side!

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2. The chicken tender pieces were prepared with some drizzled olive oil, small slices of mozzarella cheese on each piece, with fresh basil and sliced tomatoes. I’ve never tried that on chicken, but I love it as an appetizer at fancy restaurants and figured it’d be fun for something different! Baked at 375* for 18 minutes. 

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3. I had some frozen organic broccoli florets steaming for 8 minutes while the chicken was cooking. On a normal basis, we just have plain vegetables as a side. BUT again, attempting to be a little more special, I drained the broccoli, put it in a nice serving bowl and added a couple scoops of pesto basil and mixed it up. It was the perfect flavor to compliment the taste mozzarella from the chicken! For anyone looking for an easy seasoning, you CAN’T GO WRONG with Pesto Basil on everything. YUM.

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Below is my little serving with the pasta sauce on the zucchini, and chicken on top of the broccoli… A LOT OF green, but super healthy!

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Reviews from the guys was that they loved the veggie noodles and I should make them more often! For those trying to sneak more vegetables into meals, turning them into a “pasta” is a delicious, quick way to do it. Zucchini is a very low calorie vegetable, rich in fiber, Vitamin C, antioxidants, and Potassium. Broccoli also has a strong detoxification affect, high in Vitamin D/C, and Folic Acid. Consider this a SUPERFOOD meal 🙂

Bonus: we even have some chicken and broccoli left over for lunch! Y’all know I like to keep chicken in bulk!

ENJOY!

XOXO,

Ro

Chicken Quesadilla

This isn’t a mind blowing recipe. I recognize that it’s pretty basic, but I aim for healthy, quick and easy; the less stress the better. And I know there has to be someone out there who just wants an idea for a healthy weekend lunch, like we had after church today when we came home starving.

Turkey sandwiches for weekend lunches in the first few months of marriage got really old. Lately, we have switched to this delicious tortilla to use for wraps and quesadillas.

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Quesadillas are a great way to sneak in veggies and is the perfect example of why I try to always have some extra baked chicken in the fridge for when the moment of hunger strikes.

1. I used Roasted Red Pepper Hummus as a spread, which provides a little healthy fat and extra protein.

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2. I piled on as much organic spinach, kale, and chard (they came together in a bag) as I could fit! Then I cut up a few grape tomatoes we had in the fridge, and also cut up half of a chicken breast. Feel free to add any other vegetables you have!

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3. We had some shredded sharp cheddar cheese (say that 3 times fast) in the fridge so I lightly sprinkled that on top before heating. I bet feta or goat cheese would have also tasted wonderful!

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4. I LOVE using our George Foreman grill, so I grilled it on there for about 4-5 minutes. You can also throw it in the oven for 10 minutes, or even the microwave for a minute, but it won’t be as crispy obviously. For my husband who needs more calories, I fill an entire tortilla for the bottom and put another one on top so I can fill with more chicken and veggies.

ENJOY!!

XO,

Ro

Eating Healthy is Expensive & Exhausting

At times, YES it can be—but it doesn’t have to be! I’m not an expert by any means, but I hope some of these tips might steer you in the right direction or make you think of ideas that can work for you. Between my 9-6pm job, personal training, Soul Strong, church activities, friend time, marriage and home life, the last thing I want to do is spend all night in the kitchen.

At the end of the day, I’d rather pay the money up front for a healthy body, than pay the money down the road for the meds and doctor visits. My health is a priority, and therefore, an investment. Not gonna lie, it’s definitely where a huge chunk of our monthly budget comes from, but we try not to break the bank, especially when living a super busy lifestyle and craving convenience. This list is work in progress 🙂

Eating Healthy on a Budget

Save going out to eat for very special occasions. Once or twice a month? Maybe people hate that I do this, but even when I schedule lunch dates, I often ask if we can bring out lunches and meet to eat together in the park, or at a Starbucks. I’d rather make that $$$ go further for our family to eat well on a daily basis.

Eat Frozen: not the TV dinners, but veggies, no sugar added organic berries, or pre-made bulk meals from the weekend. Fresh is typically more expensive, especially if it’s not in season. To save time, use a steamer. This thing has made cooking vegetables so easy. Plus, it keeps more nutrients in the vegetables than boiling, AND takes about 8 minutes. Leave them in there, come back, and it’s ready to dish.

Buy heavy on the sales! When the chicken goes on sale, we easily stock up on 6-8 packs and freeze them, knowing we will consume them at some point in the next month. When the wheat pasta goes on sale, our entire cabinet is filled with it so we don’t need to buy it for many months.

Be realistic. We don’t buy organic chicken at this point, but settled for the natural chicken with no antibiotics or preservatives. It’s awesome if you can do everything organic, but the reality is, it can double your grocery bill. Be picky and decide what you will and won’t give on. We go organic on the Dirty Dozen vegetables and all our fish is Wild Caught, but other than that, we just do the best we can. Our nutrition isn’t perfect, but it works for where we are in this phase of life. Do some research on what’s most important to you to splurge on.

Buy some things canned. You don’t want to live off of a canned diet obviously because of the preservatives, but soup on sale or wild salmon is a wonderful thing to stock up with in the Winter. Another way we save money to eat the foods our bodies really need, is doing soup for a meal once every couple of weeks. This is the lazy man’s go-to. So maybe we don’t feel super stuffed afterwards, but we don’t mind denying ourselves occasionally to eat really well for all other meals.

Plan Ahead. Each Sunday I try to create a meal game plan for the week to make sure we don’t waste any food or let anything go bad. I look at the calendar. If I know we won’t have time the next night to make dinner, I make double the night before. On Sunday, I often take an hour to pre-make big quantities of items I can keep in the fridge, and throw together to heat up during the week in less than 5 minutes. We almost always have extra baked chicken and quinoa in containers in the fridge!

Get the rewards card! The Giant where we shop (we go to Trader Joes for a few cheaper fresh items occasionally), offers gas points for grocery items. I can’t even tell you how much money we have saved on gas!! sometimes knocking 30 cents off each gallon. If you spend a little more on healthy foods, you may be able save in other areas. Take advantage of these deals! I haven’t found time to get into coupon-ing in the “city life”, but maybe that’s something that you could try! SO many websites dedicated to the secrets of coupon-ing.

Cut out the juices–they’re super high in sugar without the fiber– and cut out Milk. The only drinks we buy are almond milk or coconut milk to put in shakes, whichever of those happens to be on sale. Other than that, water is our life-blood. Humans have no nutritional requirement for milk and most Americans have a hard time digesting it anyway. Opt for things like white beans, kale, almonds, or tofu to get your calcium.

Eat the same thing. Variety can be costly. We try to branch out with something “new” biweekly if possible or on a Friday date night at home. But we mostly rotate dinner between the same kinds of foods and just use different seasonings each time. Studies show people that are successful with healthy diets stick to what they know (and they know how much it costs!) Making different recipes is cool…ain’t no body got time for that everyday…

Ie. We choose one from each category:

*Meat: Chicken, 99% Lean Ground Turkey, Fish. (occasional red meat) *Vegetables: Broccoli, Tomatoes, Spinach, Green Beans, Cucumbers, Cauliflower, Spaghetti Squash (super cheap!) *Complex Carb: Quinoa, Brown Rice, Wheat pasta, Sweet Potato (these are EASILY heated quickly in the microwave). We often get fats from cooking with olive oil or coconut oil.

We have Shakeology for breakfast every morning. Protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, adaptogens, probiotics, pre-biotics, over 70 all natural superfoods in a meal-replacement shake… if we spend the money to get all of those things separately we would easily spend an extra $400 a month. We no longer buy bagels, bars, yogurts and cereal for breakfast, we just stick to our $3.30 (coach rate) dense nutritional breakfast to start our day off right, even if we end up not having the perfect lunch/dinner.  The convenience, extra energy, and digestion improvement is really worth it for us!!

Go Vegetarian one day a week. Consuming 2 boiled eggs and quinoa for your protein is a lot cheaper than a 8oz piece of quality meat. It might take getting used to for those meat-lovers out there (myself included!), but I promise it’s just as nourishing! I usually boil one dozen eggs for lunch snacks and quick salads additions, and keep another dozen fresh on hand for cooking purposes. Beans are another cheap option!

Check the Unit Price. See which is cheaper: buying a bigger box, or buying multiple smaller ones. We tend to buy bigger quantities for things like almonds, brown rice, and chia seeds, that take forever to go bad. Some people love buying fresh groceries every week, but it saves us a lot of time to try to make our food go further.

Research/Trial and Error.  There are several grocery chains near us. Over time, we’ve started to look at our reciepts and compare prices. We have to weigh getting gas points or saving on non-name brand items at Giant with saving money on fresh cheaper vegetables or specialty organic items at Trader Joes. I try not to go to BOTH each shopping trip because time is money, but as we run out of things I see which store caters to what we need most and has the best sale at the time.

I hope this helps!! I would love feedback from YOU as to how you save money and eat healthy.

XO,

Ro

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Banana Protein Muffins

WARNING…these muffins are addicting 🙂

I used to go on late night WaWa runs in college where I’d eat 2 huge muffins before I even walked back to my dorm. Needless to say, I love muffins. I’ve loved having these as little low-calorie healthier substitute option that are a lot more moist and thick than a regular muffin. Sorry for those of you that like really fluffy!

If you want to be 100% sure they are gluten free, you can leave out the baking soda, they just won’t rise as much. (or buy gluten free baking soda, but I didn’t have any on hand, and it’s only a small amount)

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Ingredients 

7 Tablespoons of Coconut Flour

5 Eggs

2 Mashed Bananas

1 scoop or pouch of Vanilla Protein/Shakeology

1 mini cup of Applesauce (4oz)

2 Teaspoons of Baking Soda

1 Teaspoon of Honey

2 Teaspoons of Vanilla extract

Directions

1. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees and spray muffin tins with non-stick spray. They are sticky!

2. Mix all ingredients into large bowl. Let sit for around 10 minutes. It took my bananas a little while to soften and mix evenly.

3. Pour mixture into muffin tins. It should fill one tray: 12 muffins.

4. Bake for 20 minutes and then let cool for 5 minutes or so. Store in a container on the counter for grab and go during the week!

ENJOY!

XO,

Ro

Peanut Butter Protein Balls: The yummiest little snack

For all you peanut butter fans out there… this one is for you! A couple of these are perfect for a post-workout snack, or a very filling little sweet after a meal. My husband says it’s like eating a peanut butter cup without the excessive sugar.

As all my recipes are, this  one has to be the easiest to make yet!

Total prep time-just 5 minutes!

You need: 

  • 6 Dates or 4 Medjool Dates. If you don’t have a heavy duty blender, you may want to push out the pits inside of the dates before you put them in to the mix.

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  • 1 scoop (25g) Natural Protein Powder (whatever you have is probably fine! This is what I had in the cabinet leftover from last year. I used Vanilla, but next time I’m going to try with Chocolate Shakeology to get the Chocolate Peanut Butter taste).

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  • 4 tablespoons Crunchy or Natural Peanut Butter. As a warning, this ends up being nearly half of your jar! I had just enough left.

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  • 2 teaspoons Chia Seeds. My NutriBullet ground them up pretty well at the same time with everything else, but you may want to grind them first a little bit if you don’t want the texture coming out in the protein balls.

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Put all the ingredients into a blender, food processor, or I just used our Nutribullet. After a couple of quick pulses, the mixture was already soft and not sticky. Take the dough and roll into tablespoon size balls.

I put them in the freezer for about 3-5 minutes and took them out to enjoy a couple immediately! I’m planning to have a few in the fridge during the week for a grab and go filler.

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ENJOY!!

XO,

Ro

Turkey Meatballs

This is another one of those recipes that came about out of necessity and having limited time. I came home from personal training at 8:30pm after all day at work. My husband was still working and I realized we had nothing to pack for lunches. (Packing lunch everyday is how this young couple saves $$$). I had thawed a pound of ground turkey overnight, so that was our only choice for our protein the next day! I decided to go with some kind of quick meatball type option and found things in the fridge to add to it!

In a large bowl, mix the following together–> 

-1lb of 99% Lean Ground Turkey Meat (All Natural or Organic if possible!)

-1 egg beaten

-1/4 Cup of coconut flour (or 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs if you’re not going with a lighter gluten free option)

-1 Teaspoon parsley

-1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning

-1/2 teaspoon of pepper

-2 teaspoons minced garlic (if you have garlic cloves on hand, feel free to chop and add even more than this. I just only had the seasoning)

-1/4 cup chopped onion (I always keep a bag of frozen chopped onion in the freezer because it lasts so much longer and is great to add to a lot of different meals)

-several handfuls of organic spinach; tear apart and add in the mixture.

-1/2 cup chopped tomatoes (I just chopped up organic cherry tomatoes into small pieces, but feel free to use canned or whatever veggies you have!)

After making sure all of the meat had been exposed to the seasonings, I turned the stove top heat on medium, and added olive oil to pan. I rolled the meat by hand into maybe 1 inch by 1 inch balls and placed them all around the pan. Once the bottom was browning, I turned them over. JUST to be sure they were cooked all the way through, I flattened them a bit so that’s why in the picture they’re not quite as round. I had to do 3 rounds of about 7-8 meatballs, and each round took around 6 minutes. I also added a little bit of olive oil each round since the meat soaked it up as they were cooking.

We had it for lunch with roasted green beans and brown rice, but feel free to serve with wheat pasta and pasta sauce, or with your veggie fried brown rice!

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ENJOY!

XO,

Ro

Sugar is Killing Us

Dramatic, I know… but true!

A bowl of candy has been sitting on my office desk for 8 months and I honestly can’t believe this former sugar addict hasn’t had ONE piece (except when I have the occasional dark chocolate in there!)…HOW is this possible?!

 

Knowledge is power. Knowledge builds confidence in decision making. Confidence in our decisions lead to habits. You see, the knowledge I have that allows me to resist that jar everyday is the knowledge that makes my brain register that candy and added sugar as POISON. And poison does NOT appeal to me.

Maybe thinking of these few facts about sugar below will help you resist the sweet tooth every once in a while!

1. Leptin, the hormone that tells your body that it is full, is impaired when you eat sweets. Your brain tells you that you still feel hungry longer and tells you to eat way more than you should. This would also explain your cravings all day!

2. Sugar is quickly absorbed and spikes your blood sugar, which spikes your insulin levels and eventually can lead to diabetes. Insulin triggers fat storage and inflammation. Inflammation is the foundation of many chronic diseases. And because you can’t feel that you’re full (see #1), you keep storing more and more fat.

3. Studies show it’s more addictive than COCAINE. The brain lights up like you’re on heroin when you get your fix and you turn into a sugar junkie! Talk about out of control!

4. Sugar may give you an energy rush at first, but it triggers serotonin, the sleep hormone, and you end up having an energy crash. (which usually prompts people to eat more or have more sugar to try to get the energy back) SPIKE–>CRASH–> SPIKE–> CRASH

5. The sugar turns your liver on the bad cholesterol train which leads to fatty liver. No joke. Even for those at a healthy weight, who “look healthy”, may have a sugary diet that’s shutting down their organs on the inside!

Did I scare you yet?? I hope so 😉

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Is what you’re eating healing or hurting you? Reclaim and re-train your taste buds! Your body will seriously thank you! Try to make small replacements by incorporating fruit or dark chocolate into your diet when you find yourself reaching for the candy jar or donut box on your co-worker’s desk.

Healthy on the Run: Chicken Fried (Brown) Rice!

So I don’t know about you guys, but cooking for the longest time seemed so scary to me and I didn’t have much experience other than burning microwave popcorn every time. I figured it would take so much time to plan out all these perfect meals with different recipes each night with ingredients I had never heard of. Well, after a lot of love and encouragement, I decided to face my “fear” and really work at feeling comfortable in the kitchen. A few mistakes here and there, and now I LOVE trying out (EASY) healthy meals!

This one below is in my top 5 GO-TO meals, that also happens to be a hit with my husband!

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Chicken Fried Brown Rice

We usually stock up on frozen veggies so we don’t have to run to the grocery store as soon as the fresh ones are out. Between having a bag of “Mixed Vegetable Medley” on hand, and pre-making a lot of brown rice over the weekend to use for lunches during the week, we’re set! If we’re out of chicken, I often substitute for 99% lean ground turkey, which tastes delicious as well.

This is usually enough for 4-5 servings.

Ingredients: 

1 Bag Frozen Veggies (peas, carrots, corn, broccoli)

1.5 Cups of Brown Rice— pre cooked

3-4 eggs (we LOVE the taste of the eggs, so as many as your pan can fit! Feel free to make some of these just egg whites.)

Olive Oil Spray for the large pan

Soy Sauce (some people use liquid aminos as a healthier substitute option)

1LB Chicken cut up into bite sizes pieces

Minced Garlic

Directions

  1. Cook brown rice and set aside.
  2. In a large pan, add Olive oil (or coconut oil) on medium heat.
  3. Add chicken pieces and garlic. Pour on 2 tbsp soy sauce.
  4. Turn heat to medium high for about 6-8 minutes or until chicken starts to brown around the edges.
  5. Then add frozen veggies. Stir for 3-4 minutes, or until veggies become tender.
  6. Add brown rice, 2 more tbsp soy sauce, and blend.
  7. Beat eggs in a small bowl
  8. Make a bare spot in the pan, spray olive oil spray and add beaten eggs. Scramble for 1 minute and then start to blend eggs into rice, stirring for about 2 minutes until eggs are completely cooked.

As long as everything is cooked, you can’t go wrong with this meal! I love that you get all your protein, complex carbs, and veggies in one dish with a little bit of the treat taste of soy sauce.

ENJOY!!

Stick to the List!

There are SO many diets and fads out there, it’s sometimes hard to know where to start when it comes to eating healthy. Check out this list for a good baseline of the kinds of foods you should be focused on!

Food List

Aim to eat 3 meals and a snack or 2 in between. Each day, you probably want about….

*4 servings of the primary veggies (think 1 cup each for serving size)

*4 servings of protein (think  4oz fish,  2 large eggs, 1 cup greek yogurt)

*only 2 of the secondary veggies/grains (think 1/2 of a sweet potato)

*only 2 servings of fruit (think 1 small apple or half a banana each)

*3 of the fats (think around 2 tablespoons each)