Not all Bars are Created Equal

If you know anything about me, I’m a BAR kind of person. Not the bar for drinks, but the “grab and go” rectangularly shaped conglomeration of food! These snacks are awesome so you don’t find yourself hungry and grabbing for junk, but make sure you take a look at the nutrition label, or you could find yourself mistaken when you think you’re helping your health and you’re actually feeding it chemicals.

As a society, we LOVE convenience and we need portion control… bars can be a great way to have both! There are so many out there, but I’m going to just tell you my opinion about a few that I’ve tried. Rule of thumb is to at least LOOK at the label and see if you feel comfortable and confident consuming it, and always consider REAL food the best option for meals. 🙂

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THE GOOD: 

LARA BARS

These are likely the cleanest general type bar out on the market and still tasty, made with 100% whole food and they typically contain only 4 or 5 ingredients. You just have to be sure to balance sugar intake for the rest of the day as they use dates as the primary ingredient. They’re high sugar, but it’s good sugar from food at least instead of added or artificial sugar. These are great for lifestyle purposes to keep you full between meals and are gluten free, dairy free, soy free, non GMO, Vegan and Kosher. Calories are around 200.

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QUEST BARS

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Quest Bars! I can’t get enough of the taste. These are the cleanest PROTEIN type bar with 20g of protein, 17g of Fiber, and 1g of sugar.  They are sweetened with Stevia and freeze-dried fruit, and come in SO many flavors. MY favorite being Chocolate Chip cookie dough (which you can put in the microwave for a few seconds and pretend you’re eating warm actual cookie dough…) If you’re not meeting your daily fiber intake, like most Americans, or need post-workout protein, this is your jam. You can also make tons of other delicious “desserts” with the bars 🙂

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Mini CLIFF BARS

These are organic and natural, but less of a every day snack and more for high performance workouts, energy and recovery. The sugar and carbs in it are often used for endurance runners and are SUPER FILLING, like mini-meal status. They’re non-GMO and made with organic rolled oats. I say mini, because the regular ones have upwards of 250 calories, whereas the minis stick around 100 and are a better snack option.

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KIND BARS

This is another type of “nut” bar, usually under 200 calories and often include seeds like chia/flax and added vitamins. These are also non-GMO and have very few ingredients (depending on the flavor). They are sweetened with honey and dried fruit, but just be a little more careful of the ones with chocolate added 🙂

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THE BAD:

SPECIAL K

This is known to be the quintessential “dieting bar” and brand. I even used to eat them in early college when I was fooled by their marketing techniques! For a very low calorie bar, they sure have over 50 different ingredients. High Fructose Corn Syrup, Dextrose, Artificial flavor, soy lecithin, soy protein isolate, trans fat, processed rice… not even worth the empty calories.

POWER BAR

Guess what the number one ingredient in this energy bar is? Sugar. That’s right, there’s more sugar in this bar than anything else. And there’s less than one gram of fiber. You might as well have a candy bar! NO NO NO. Remember how highly addictive sugar is HERE in my post “Sugar is Killing Us”. Don’t be fooled just because something says “PROTEIN” on the wrapper.

Nutrigrain Bars 

High Fructose Corn Syrup… need I say more? I’m not sure why these were like the breakfast of champions when I was growing up, but they’re nothing but enriched processed flour and fake fruit filling. Not a great way to start the day. They also have red #1 and blue #1 colorings which are known to cause several illnesses.

Think Thin 

It’s hard to “think thin” when you’re eating a bar with more saturated fat than the American Heart Association recommends. This energy bar also has SO MUCH sodium (like 300g) and is heavy on the SOY (look for WHEY as a higher quality option). These DO have 20g of protein and are 230 calories.

Six in Sixty: Quick Ways To Improve Your Life

Want to improve your health but don’t have tons of time? Here are six 60-second ideas for improving your health—and your life!

1. Sit or stand up straight! Good posture is the key to confidence and a welcoming appearance. Not only do you speak more clearly and breathe better, you’re also taking pressure off your lower back and allowing your muscles to develop correctly. Taking a second to adjust your posture every once in a while can be helpful in reducing back pain in the future!

2. Do a plank and work the abdominals. This is a great “take with you anywhere” exercise; just drop down on those elbows and toes, keeping the back flat and the butt down. The plank is one of the most efficient and effective when it comes to a solid core workout for ab endurance and stabilization. Hold this position 20-60 seconds for 3-5 repetitions.

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3. Drink a glass of water. As you’ve probably heard, the average person should drink about eight glasses a day to help prevent dehydration. Yes, drinking water helps regulate your metabolism and your body temperature, but additionally it can give you younger looking skin, keep you from getting sick, remove toxins in the body, and boost your mood. Water is the ultimate medicine!

4. Compliment someone. It is the easiest way to spread a little bit of happiness and your thoughtfulness can go a long way. It’s a win-win for the other person and for the way you can also feel good, empowered, and kind. When we live our lives so inwardly focused, we can get down about our own problems and miss so much of the world around us. Making someone else happy might just make you happy, too.

5. Read the label. Ideally you want to look for food items with low sugar, high fiber, and high protein, and preferably nothing processed. Looking at the calories seems easy, until you realize that’s the calories per serving size and there are four servings in that container you just ate. The nutrition facts can be confusing on those labels, but understanding exactly what you’re feeding yourself can make all the difference in your health!

6. Floss. Your dentist tells you this at every six-month cleaning. It’s something so simple that most of us don’t care to do it or don’t even think about it. When we don’t floss, we’re leaving a heck of a lot of tooth unclean, susceptible for gum disease to set in and spread bacteria to the rest of our bodies. Fun fact: people who floss live six years longer than those who don’t.

Remember, healthy living comes in the consistency of our good choices. Take 60 seconds today to do something to better the life you live and make every step count.

#SneakPeekSaturday: Health Apps I LOVE/USE

Fitbit

Yall, I know people might be sick of hearing about Fitbits, or other similar bands…but I LOVE THEM. I have tried from the beginning not to become obsessive about my steps, but it has really helped me be mindful on a daily basis of my sitting! I enjoy some healthy competition with myself and with friends/family, and as a fitness junkie, I love checking my heart rate while I’m working out to know how intense I’m working. On days I’m being lazy, I’m motivated to be a little more active, and on days I’m really tired, I have “proof” on the app of how hard I’ve worked. THE BEST PART IS THE SILENT ALARM! aka Waking up in peace.

MyFitnessPal

I have been using this app off and on for YEARS to keep track of my day’s calories. I’m not strict by any means with “counting calories”, but sometimes I like to be aware. I haven’t once looked up a food they didn’t have, even from restaurants! I can sync this app with my fitbit to adjust my calories for the day… if I’ve walked a lot or worked out hard, it will adjust my number to tell me to eat MORE so I don’t risk falling below what my body needs. In addition to keeping track of what I ate that day, I can be “friends” with my personal training clients and see their diary of what they’ve been doing for exercise/nutrition without me. It’s a good way to cheer people on and interact!

AchieveMint

Now I don’t have to do much for this app, but I keep it around because I’m slowly earning $$$$ for good habits. You can set different goals for yourself, and as you accomplish them each day, it rewards you points. Once you reach 50,000 points you get $50! It’s a good way to reward yourself after working hard to be consistent. Studies show we are often motivated by a reward we find valuable… like money (if doing it for your health wasn’t enough 😉 )

 

 

Beachbody on Demand

THIS.IS.AWESOME. The ultimate “no excuses” program. You can stream the FULL 60 or 90 day workouts on your phone, tablet, laptop from Insanity, P90X, P90X3, Turbo Fire, 10 Minute Trainer, Brazilian Buttlift, ChaLean Extreme etc.! I’ve done PI-YO and T-25, so those purchased programs also show up on to stream. So if I don’t want to take the DVDs with me on the road, I can always have a workout with me via technology. There are also a few trials of the other newer workouts, so you can try the 21 Day Fix, Pi-Yo or T-25 for FREE!!

You can get a 30 day FREE TRIAL to Beachbody on Demand! CLICK HERE

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“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

#SneakPeekSaturday: Creating a System

This is a little vision into my morning routine during the week from 6:15am-8:30am aka my recipe for cooking up success on a day to day basis. Daily success is defined as making sure I sweat, making sure my family is healthily fed, spending time with the Lord, and learning something new to develop my side fitness business.

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This saves me time and helps my morning become more efficient, even if the rest of my day doesn’t go as planned.  It’s called BRAINLESS organization! This way it all gets done, but I don’t have to think about anything except what I’m doing IN THAT MOMENT.

Last year this 1. didn’t exist and 2. might have consisted of “Get dressed and run out the door”. I had to figure out how to structure my day differently to FEEL happier and healthier, especially when I sit at work 8 hours a day! I hated that I was rushing around all the time! (disclaimer: I still have those days occasionally haha!)

Ask yourself: “How can I use my time to give myself MORE time to LIVE more? 

Getting these things done in the morning, not only sets the tone for the rest of my day, but also opens my evening time to be involved in church, to personal train, and to be present for my husband. A system allows me to give the best of myself to others and frees up my mind to be thinking and praying for where God is leading me.

One of the biggest barriers to healthy living is TIME. Life is unpredictable, but having a rhythm and organizing your time helps produce a more predictable result. I’m not aiming for perfection, but just the best I can offer to God, and then leave the rest up to Him.

So this is my morning “system”. It’s just whatever works for each person! Some people aren’t morning people, & choose to make the most of their day at night… or if they have fulfilling jobs, they don’t feel lacking! What other parts of your life do you have a system for?

Ephesians 5:15-17

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,  making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

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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Total Body Dumbbell Workout

Only have a pair of dumbbells and limited time? This workout will get your heart rate up, tone your entire body, and uses compound exercises to increase power and endurance. These moves are foundational to building so many other workouts! I personally like to rotate 3x’s through 2 of the exercises and then move on to the next pair.

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Demo Video below shows the side lunge shoulder raise, forward lunge into row, and 1 leg deadlift with rear delt raise.