Cardio with a Cherry on Top

“Cherry on Top” is code for that lovely exercise set that can kick your metabolism into full gear much further than regular cardio might. Good ol’ plyometrics! Awesome, quick, and just pushes your body to the brim to finish your workout power-strong. Let’s get to it!

Six exercises for thirty seconds each (no resting in the middle you dirty cheaters). This can be done once, twice, or three times with a minute rest in between each set.

Plyo Set
Jumping Jacks
Mountain Climbers
Squat Jacks
Lunge Jumps
Squat Jumps
Burpees (with or without push-ups)

Each of these for thirty seconds with no break in between makes a total of three minutes. Go ALL OUT on this! They are the cherry on top of your cardio, the icing on your weight training, the grand finale! Try to do three sets. If your cardio workout was really rough (good for you!) stick to one, two, or whatever you have energy for. I believe in you, and you should too.

Have you tried myfitnesspal? It’s an app and a website where you can log everything you eat, all of your exercise, etc. It’s very helpful if you’re ever curious how much you think you’re eating and how much you’re eating in reality, especially if you have a special goal in mind. It’s a bit of a hassle at first, but once your foods get stored in the app’s memory it gets quicker to log meals and is very interesting. Try it out!

Good Things 🙂

FS&JJ

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Weekend Challenge: February 23rd and 24th

HELLO! IT’S THE WEEKEND!

And with the weekend comes something new I’d like you to try. I’m going to start posting a Weekend Challenge every Friday night for you to try Saturday and Sunday. Some weekends it may be an exercise, some it may be a stretch, some it may be something relaxing that will just make you feel good about yourself, but it will always be short and easy.

So here is your first weekend challenge:

Before each meal you eat this weekend (Yes that means breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks too if you’re feeling ambitious) try this modified plank that really gets your core working.

Step 1- Extended arm plank position.

Step 1- Extended arm plank position.

Step 2- Bring one knee straight up to elbow
Step 2- Bring one knee straight up to elbow

Step 3- Twist knee across body to opposite knee

Step 3- Twist knee across body to opposite knee

Step 4- Bring knee back to Step 2, knee straight up to elbow
Step 4- Bring knee back to Step 2, knee straight up to elbow

Step 5- Return to Extended arm plank position.

Step 5- Return to Extended arm plank position.

Now do the same thing with the other leg. Alternate between each side for 1 minute. This move isn’t necessarily for speed. Your form and movement are what are really going to give you the most out of this exercise. If you want, you can keep track of how many you do and try to beat your breakfast score, but remember the key is form!

So, this takes a grand total of 6 minutes out of your weekend, 3 minutes out of each day. It’s not much. Can you handle it??

(This is the part where you shout at your computer “I’M NO WUSS OF COURSE I CAN HANDLE IT!”)

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!
Good Things 🙂

FS&JJ

Let’s talk about snacks.

Snacking is something I do a LOT of. It’s mostly healthy, which is good, but I also have a wicked sweet tooth that gets the best of me some nights. In the end, it’s usually okay to happen once in a while because I am lucky to be very active. However, sometimes you just run into those consecutive days where you’re really busy with work or on a project, and that’s where healthy eating, specifically healthy snacking, can be very beneficial. I’d like to share some of my favorite snacks with you, and I hope that you’ll like them too!

Mix-Your-Own Trail Mix
3/4 cup Fiber One chocolate cereal
3/4 cup Cheerios
1/4 cup Archer Farms (Target!) Sunny Cranberry trail mix (or another nut and fruit blend. I chose this one because it was inexpensive at Target and still healthy)

Sunny Cranberry Trail Mix, Cheerios, and Fiber One Chocolate Cereal

Sunny Cranberry Trail Mix, Cheerios, and Fiber One Chocolate Cereal

Simply mix ingredients in a bag and take it to work or the doctor’s office or on errands or wherever you may need a snack. Only 290 calories.

Blueberry Parfait
1/4-1/2 cup frozen blueberries (or fruit of choosing)
1/2-1 cup Light-and-Fit vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup Bare Naked Fit granola- vanilla almond crunch
(these measurements are up to you to experiment with and see if you like more fruit, more yogurt, etc.)

Light and Fit vanilla yogurt, frozen blueberries, and Bear Naked Fit granola

Light and Fit vanilla yogurt, frozen blueberries, and Bear Naked Fit granola

Microwave blueberries (or other frozen fruit of your choosing) for 14 seconds in the microwave. Mix them around and heat another 14 seconds. Add yogurt and granola, stir, and enjoy!

Another good yogurt option, especially if you’re on the go, is Light and Fit Greek yogurt. Less calories and sugar than many other greek yogurts out there. Greek yogurt taste funny to you, or look too chunky? Give it a really good stir. I know it sounds weird but it really helps to smooth it out!

Light and Fit Greek Yogurt

Light and Fit Greek Yogurt

Caprese Salad
1 serving low- or non-fat cottage cheese
1 roma tomato, sliced into pieces
1-2 teaspoons basil (or fresh basil leaves if you’re feeling
fancy)

Roma tomato, Low-fat cottage cheese, and Basil

Roma tomato, Low-fat cottage cheese, and Basil

Cut up tomato and mix in a bowl with cottage cheese. Sprinkle basil leaves on top and nomnomnom.

And finally…
Rotisserie Chicken
Now I don’t mean make a whole rotisserie chicken, I mean buy one already made from Walmart and de-bone it. Shred it and stick your leftovers in the fridge. You can easily pull some out when you get hungry and heat it up in a bowl with some bbq sauce (or other flavor of your liking). Chicken is high in protein and low in fat (which reminds me, TAKE THE SKIN OFF WHEN YOU DE-BONE THE CHICKEN!)

Whole chicken

Whole chicken

Shredded chicken

Shredded chicken

I also just made these yummy and light snacks for my extra-sweet tooth at night. A snack from the show Biggest Loser. And who can say no to peanut butter (JIF natural, or course)? YUM.

What are your favorite healthy snacks? Try these out and find some more new ones. Remember, just because they’re healthy doesn’t mean they’re not filling and delicious!

BONUS AB TIME!
It’s all about planks tonight. Whether you do them on your elbows or in push-up position with your arms straight, try to hold each one at least 1 minute. Repeat three times, resting about 30 seconds in between. My challenge for you is to hold for more than a minute. Try to max out and hold for as long as you can each time! Doing it again tomorrow? Try to beat your times from today. What’s another ten… or thirty… seconds, huh? No big deal, that’s what.

Good Things 🙂

FS&JJ

How to make a love potion for your Valentine

Just kidding, but here’s a yummy recipe you can make for dinner tomorrow night that may make them love you more. It’s called chicken and broccoli orzo.

Here’s what you’ll need:3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons butter
1.5 cups orzo
1 teaspoon basil
3 or 4 chicken breasts, cooked and cut up into bite-sized pieces
About 1 cup cooked broccoli
0.5 cups parmesan cheese

And here’s how you make it:
1. Melt butter in a 10-inch or larger pan. Pour in orzo and sautee about two minutes, stirring so orzo is coated in the butter.
2. Pour in chicken broth and basil (Mom says to rub the basil in your hand first to make it more flavorful). Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
3. When most of the liquid is absorbed, mix in broccoli and chicken. Pour parmesan cheese in and mix again.
3. All ready! Enjoy!

It’s delicious, and good for a rainy night like it is here tonight.

I made cookies with hershey kisses for all of my work Valentines tomorrow. I’m trying not to eat any, but I might give in by the end of the night.

Sugar cookies with Peppermint Hershey Kisses.

Sugar cookies with Peppermint Hershey Kisses.

Do you have a Valentine this year? I will be yours if you don’t. Or you can celebrate post-Valentine day instead by going to Target or Walmart and taking advantage of the serious clearance sales on candy. Now THAT’S a good Valentine’s day present.

I thought this was a healthy blog and here I am talking about cookies and candy. Well, I guess you have to indulge every once in a while. That’s good for you, too. 🙂

Now get down and do some abs while you watch TV. Please!

Good Things,

FS&JJ

 

Where did the general keep his armies??

Up his sleevies, of course!

But where do you keep your armies? OUT where you can show off that tone and muscle. DUH. Can’t hide them when they look that good!

…then again maybe you want to feel even more proud of them. Or those muscles don’t feel very good exposed after that snow storm this week. So try this relatively simple but very effective arm workout to get those muscles working:

First, start off with three sets of push-ups and diamond push-ups. Push-ups are some of the best exercises you can do for your arms, and if you’re anything like me you REALLY don’t like doing arms, especially push-ups. But honestly, I figure the more I hate doing an exercise, the better it probably is for me. So get on your toes, or start on your knees(!), and crank out as many as 3 sets of 15-20 of both regular and diamond push-ups. Honestly, that’s quite a large number, but it’s definitely something to work towards. you may be starting with 5 of each, but push yourself (pun intended) and I think you’ll start to feel like superman (or woman) in no time.

When you finish your push-ups, rest for a minute and then kick it in to gear with a lighter pair of dumbbells (maybe 5-8 lbs, unless you’re feeling really ambitious). Do this (please), and don’t you dare rest until you’ve finished all 5 exercises:

10 front raises
10 bent-over rows
10 side (“T”) raises
10 bent-over flies
10 v-raises

REST and REPEAT 3 TIMES TOTAL. No, I’m not kidding. Yes, it is very possible. And yes, it will make you feel GOOD.

Now do the math. By the end of this you will have done anywhere between 30 and 120 push-ups (I’m up to 90!) and 150 total reps in dumbbell exercises.

I was debating whether I should write that down or not, but I wanted you to feel good about yourself (because you should) when you finished. Just turn up your music and do it to the beat.

My boyfriend is in the middle of trying out the keto-diet (low carb, high protein), which is fine because he drinks enough milk for a family of 4 in two days and it’s a little nauseating. He came to visit this weekend, which meant it was up to me to feed him things he could eat. We stumbled across these Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers and they were really awesome. I don’t know what it is with me and stuffed pepper posts. You’d think I ate them all the time but I promise I eat other foods, too.

Also, looking for an easy, healthy dessert tonight after dinner? Try these Baked Apples in a Bag. They are so simple and yummy.

Now go eat a healthy snack, tell the person you live with you love them (pets are people, too) and relax on the rest of your Sunday night.

Good Things 🙂

FS&JJ

 

Legs, Legs, Legs, and English Muffins

Has your weather been as nice as ours has the last couple days? Clear blue skies and temperatures hovering around 70 degrees, with a lovely 50-something at night. Perfect weather for a run. Or a light jog, or a walk, or a hike, or a bike ride, or a just get the heck outside and enjoy the sunshine.

Or maybe the Frigid North is up to its normal habits of think clouds and snow. Time for some sledding or cross country skiing!

Either way, here’s a leg workout that’s an awesome way to finish whatever cardio session you just sweat through. It’s pretty basic, but really works your butt, hamstrings, and quads for a 15-minute-or-less total strengthening and toning exercise set.

You can do this one without dumbbells to start if you’d like to experiment. If you want to make it tougher, grab whatever you’re most comfortable working with (5-lb., 10-lb., etc). Don’t be afraid that your arms can’t handle that much weight for arm exercises, as you won’t actually be lifting, but rather holding.

Here are your exercises:

Same-leg lunge: Start standing straight up, feet together. Hold one dumbbell in each hand at your sides. Step forward and lunge with your right foot, putting most of your body weight into your right heel. Push through the right heel back to your starting position. This motion is kind of like taking a step forward and then stepping back again, as opposed to a walking lunge where you move across the floor. Repeat on SAME LEG.

Curtsey: Like these pictures from a previous post, but just holding the weights at your sides instead of doing a v-raise…
Step 1– Stand straight, feet together
Step 2– Holding weights at side, tap one foot back and behind standing leg
Step 3– Return to standing position
Repeat on SAME LEG

Step-to-Squat: Start standing straight up, feet together. Put one weight down, so you’re only holding one with both hands at chest level or between your legs. Step right foot out to the side and squat down (like a regular squat). Come up and bring right foot back to standing position. Repeat on SAME LEG.

Squat Pulse: Spread legs and feet further than shoulder-width apart. Keep that one weight at chest level, or hold it between your legs. Squat down so legs are parallel (or close!) to the ground. Come up to a 45 degree angle, about halfway up. Come back down to parallel. Repeat! To keep some of the pressure off of your knees and get the most out of your squat, pretend like you’re going to sit down in a chair. Stick your butt out and squeeze those cheeks!

So all together, one set will look like this:
1. Same-leg lunge– RIGHT
2. Same-leg lunge– LEFT
3. Curtsey– RIGHT
4. Curtsey– LEFT
5. Step-to-Squat– RIGHT
6. Step-to-Squat– LEFT
7. Squat pulse

Try 3 sets of 10 (each exercise) to start. Get through ALL exercises 1-7 before you stop to rest for 60-90 seconds. If you need more time, take it! Try to push yourself to keep your recovery time only as long as your legs need it. You’ll feel it in your legs, but it also gets your heart rate up a bit. When your legs stop getting sore after this workout, try spicing it up by doing the exercises in a different order, using heavier weights, or attempting more reps or sets.

I’m up to 15-lb dumbbells now, doing 15 reps of each exercise on each leg. My next step will be a rotation between 4 sets of 15 reps and 3 sets of 20 reps, because I’m not sure my hands want to hold 20-pounders. At least not until I get lifting gloves.

I made homemade english muffins last Sunday. Before I started talking about them I wanted to make sure they were edible. I’m happy to report they are not only edible, but also delicious!

English muffins. Yes, they look burnt, but they were definitely cooked perfectly.

English muffins. Yes, some look burnt, but they were definitely cooked perfectly.

I got the recipe from another blog called BudgetBytes. Here is the link! Making them was very cheap compared to buying them from the store. It “takes” 3.5 hours, but most of that is just allowing the dough to rise.

Superbowl plans tonight, anyone? I’m making my own pizza and watching the game with my boyfriend and some friends. Neither team is on my naughty list, but I think I’m pulling for the 49ers so it makes the Packers look better and Dad wins his bet.

Hey, at least I didn’t choose a team based on whose uniforms were prettier.

Good Things (and a good week!) 🙂

FS&JJ