Sweet Potato Fries, Chicken Wings, and Football

You know fall is getting closer when church goes back to non-summer service times, the produce section at Publix is 75% apples, football is on TV all day, and you start making “fall” recipes like winter will be here tomorrow. You also know that this was a good day.

After going to church (an hour later!) and restocking the pantry and fridge, my brother and I bunkered down on the couch to watch the Colts. For lunch I made these baked sweet potato fries, and got creative using spices this time like Mexican chili powder, paprika, rosemary, and then the called for salt and pepper. The cornstarch is the secret crunchy weapon. I cooked them 15 minutes, flipped them over, and gave them another 12 minutes… before eating them all. Yummy!

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And who can forget a delicious fall (or year-round…) iced chai! EXTRA YUM! I use Oregon Trail Sugar Free Chai Concentrate with original flavor light soy milk from Silk.

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By the time the Packers came on at 4 I had wings on my mind! I picked up a bag from Target and found this recipe. I promise I didn’t eat the whole bag. My brother and his girlfriend approved them, thank goodness.

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You also know it’s fall in Florida because I’m headed out to the pool, where the pool water hasn’t been a refreshing temperature since June and the ice in my cup melts in 5 minutes. Ah, the never-ending summer weather. Good, but a leaf change and white Christmas would be nice…

Before I go, here’s some Bonus Abs! 30 seconds of each exercise, without stopping.
Top half crunch
Plank
Lower half crunch
Plank
Full body crunch
Plank
Heel touches (aka penguins)
Plank

Be done there, or be ambitious, rest a few minutes, and repeat!

Good Things πŸ™‚

FS&JJ

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Remember Those Muffins?

Yeah, those pre-workout muffins? These ones. Well, I just made a batch with apples and raisins in them and let me tell you they smell DELICIOUS. I can’t wait to have one before my run tomorrow morning. I just cut up an apple and threw in a handful of raisins. I’m still using ultra grain flour, too. Yay healthy muffins!
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In other news, did I mention I switched to the dark side last week? I finally got a smart phone (dun dun dun). And today my new case came in the mail! How cute!
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It’s been a while, so lets get a few sets of bonus abs in!
25 straight leg raises
25 bicycles
25 crunches
25 kayakers (aka Russian twists)
1 minute plank
Repeat 3 times and feel the burn!

Tomorrow is the last day before Ramadan, a Muslim holiday where you fast during daylight hours and eat after dark. My friend is Muslim, and to celebrate her last day of “freedom”, she, another friend, and myself are going out to lunch. I love that even though we all come from diverse backgrounds and religions, we can still be good friends and have fun together.

Good Things πŸ™‚

FS&JJ

Weekend Challenge June 29th & 30th

A happiest of happy Fridays to you! Did you have a nice week? What was the best thing that happened? What did you do for someone else? What was the best food you ate this week?

Your weekend challenge this week is to get in 300 reps of abs both Saturday and Sunday. I know that sounds like a lot, but you could do that in 20 minutes, or split it up for 150 reps before breakfast and bed. Change up your exercises to keep it interesting. (Each second of a plank counts for 1 rep- i.e. 1 minutes=60 reps.

I’m thinking about doing a month-long “subject”- maybe a “Challenge Month”. I’ve thought of a few different ones, like an Ab Exercise a Day, A Healthy Recipe a Day, Inspiration a Day, etc. Thoughts? What would you like to see? Usually contributors (you) are more creative than inventors (me), so get thinking!

This week was avocado week. I bought a bag at Sam’s (You know how they come. Packs of a million, aka five). On Wednesday night I made a turkey burger with an egg (sunny side up!), tomato, and avocado. Last night I had stuffed avocado with tuna and tomato. Tonight I had turkey meatballs with chopped up tomato and avocado (okay I was running out of time and ingredients) and brown rice. Tomorrow I’m either making flatbread or pizza with regular pizza toppings and… you guessed it… avocado! I hope I’m not all avocado’ed out by the time they’re gone, but they sure are good for you and summery.

Mom, Dad, my boyfriend, my brother’s girlfriend, and some family friends will all be here for the 4th of July. Can’t wait! Happy 4th of July to all of you, and may the fireworks be all you dreamed they would be (and the food, can’t forget the food!.

Good Things πŸ™‚

FS&JJ

Weekend Challenge June 22nd and 23rd

Hi! I made it! Did you? It’s time for another weekend challenge. Time flies when… life happens?

This Saturday and Sunday let’s try some cardio and abs. Three times each day, try this little routine:

50 jumping jacks
25 crunches
25 bicycles
10 burpees
15 push-ups
50 mountain climbers
1 minutes plank

It will only take you a few minutes, and will get your heart nice and pumped up in exchange for your time. Hooray for heart pumping!

Tomorrow is the last Lil’s practice of the season! Afterwards I’m driving to see my boyfriend’s new place and meet his roommates/friends. It’s always nice to put faces to names you keep hearing over and over… and over. Hopefully it’s not as rainy as the weatherman is predicting. Good thing the weekend challenge can be an inside activity πŸ˜‰

Good Things πŸ™‚

FS&JJ

Weekend Challenge June 15th & 16th

Either you guys need to start sending me remindersΒ  or I need to stop having guests come visit for a while. This is too late to be posting a weekend challenge!

How did your food journal go? How long did you keep it up? Did you see anything different from what you thought you were doing? Change any habits?

You have two challenges this weekend. Your first is to complete 200 reps of abs both today (Saturday) and tomorrow. Spice it up and do some different exercises. Leg raises, full crunch, planks, side exercises, bicycles, kayakers, etc… Check out my previous posts for ab ideas, or go to the ever-reliable Google machine for even more options.

Your second challenge is to make a new, healthy recipe this weekend. Lunch, dinner, snack, whatever it is. Check out my Pinterest page here for some ideas, or try the one you ripped out of that magazine a couple months ago and have yet to try.

Headed to the pool to enjoy the sunshine today! Get outside and do some form of the same. I’m hoping to get a real post up here this week now that everything is finally settling down.

Good Things πŸ™‚

FS&JJ

 

Weekend Challenge May 11th and 12th

Here’s to the weekend! Time to kick back and relax, whether relaxing means hanging out on the couch or doing something active with every moment of your free time, it’s the not-being-at-work part that really counts. So, how are you spending your weekend?

Hopefully you incorporate this weekend challenge into your Saturday and Sunday morning. When you roll out of bed, whether it be before you wash your face and brush your teeth or while breakfast is cooking, try to get your metabolism awake with this mini total body workout.

50 Jumping Jacks
20 Push Ups
20 Lunges (each side)
30 second Wall Sit
50 Crunches
1 minute plank

This week I made this crock pot macaroni and cheese recipe. However, instead of using two cups of macaroni I substituted half of that with about a cup or cup and a half of cauliflower. I used frozen cauliflower, heated it up a bit so I could tear it into “macaroni-sized” pieces, and dumped it in the crock pot. It was good! Something needs to be added to the recipe to give it a bit more flavor. I used a little ketchup this time, but I’m hoping to find something else to make it taste cheesier. Any suggestions?

Tomorrow is the first Lil’ Kickers (soccer) practice. The soccer portion of Lil’s is my FAVORITE! A friend I’ve known from 4th grade is visiting this week. We’ll hit up the beach and hopefully head to Disney on Sunday. One of my life mottos: When in doubt, DISNEY!

Everyone have an awesome weekend. Spend some time outside. You’ll feel better, I promise.

Good Things πŸ™‚

FS&JJ

Hips Don’t Lie

My new roommate/not-new-friend/future-sister-in-law (unofficial) inspired this post tonight. She’s been having a lot of hip problems lately that are getting in the way of her running and exercise activities, as well as life in general. So for her and all of you other readers out there who sometimes struggle with sore hips, lower back, and glutes, this ones for you! For all of you who don’t, read this anyways, because these are good exercises whether you’re a marathoner or a couch potato. Low-impact, low-intensity, but supportive strength-building exercises.

Hip Bridge

A hip bridge is a simple exercise that really helps to strengthen not only your glutes and hamstrings, but also your hip flexors and lower back. Use the picture below from Women’s Health Magazine online and follow these directions: Lie flat on your back with both knees bent and feet on the floor. Pinch your butt cheeks together, push your heels into the ground, and raise your hips towards the ceiling until your body forms a straight line. Lower back to the ground and repeat. 3 sets of 20. Want to make it harder? Follow my picture and extend one leg out, so your knees still touch. Raise hips using just one leg, heel still digging into the floor, until your body is straight. For a little extra core work, try putting your feet up on a yoga ball.

Hip Raise, Step 1

Hip Bridge, Step 1

Hip Bridge, Step 2

Hip Bridge, Step 2

Single-leg hip bridge

Single-leg hip bridge, Step 1. Dig in those heels!

Single-leg hip bridge, Step 2. Dig in those heels!

Single-leg hip bridge, Step 2. Dig in those heels!

Hip Bridge Roll-outs

This exercise requires a yoga ball. Lie flat on your back on the floor. Put your legs up on the yoga ball, about mid-calf. Roll the ball in towards your butt, keeping your butt cheeks pinched, until your knees are at about a 90 degree angle. Roll the ball back out. That’s one rep. 3 sets of 20.

Hip bridge roll-out, Step 1

Hip bridge roll-out, Step 1

Hip bridge roll-out, Step 2

Hip bridge roll-out, Step 2

Leg raises

This exercise requires a pilates or theraband tied in a loop around something sturdy, like a table or bed leg (preferably in front of the tv!). Stand far enough away from table so that the band is stretched a bit around one leg. Move forward or backward to make it harder or easier. Raise leg out in front of you. Do 20 reps. Repeat this on all sides (left, right, and back) and then switch to the other leg and do the same thing. Do this a total of 3 sets of 20 reps on each side, each leg.

Leg Raises, Step 1. Stand with one foot through theraband, feet even, band stretched.

Leg Raises, Step 1. Stand with one foot through theraband, feet even, band stretched.

Leg Raise, Step 2. Slowly raise leg out in front. Repeat 20 times.

Leg Raise, Step 2. Slowly raise leg out in front. Repeat 20 times.

Leg Raise, Step 3. Turn to side and pull band across body, working the inside of your leg. Repeat 20 times.

Leg Raise, Step 3. Turn to side and pull band across body, working the inside of your leg. Repeat 20 times.

Leg Raise, Step 4. Turn again and kick backwards this time. Repeat 20 times, slowly!

Leg Raise, Step 4. Turn again and kick backwards this time. Repeat 20 times, slowly!

Leg Raise, Step 5. Turn one more time and raise leg to outside, working the outside of your hip. Repeat 20 times. Switch legs and repeat all four sides.

Leg Raise, Step 5. Turn one more time and raise leg to outside, working the outside of your hip. Repeat 20 times. Switch legs and repeat all four sides.

Penguin Waddle

You will need some sort of stretchy band for this, like a pilates or theraband. Loop the band around your legs, so it sits on your ankle bones or just above. Spread your legs out just wide enough so it’s tight enough to not fall down your legs. Take a step to the left (or right), stretching the band with your legs. Let the other leg follow, returning to your first stance, where the band isn’t loose enough to fall down your ankles. Waddle (like a penguin!) about 10 yds across the floor, then come back facing the same direction. Give it a rest and go again. Try to do this 3 times. This exercise works the outside of your hips (really good).

Penguin Waddle, Step 1. Band it tight so it won't fall down, but not stretched too far.

Penguin Waddle, Step 1. Band it tight so it won’t fall down, but not stretched too far.

Penguin Waddle, Step 2. Step out to the side, pulling the band tighter. Bring other leg in, and continue to "waddle" across the floor". Don't forget to come back so you get both sides evenly!

Penguin Waddle, Step 2. Step out to the side, pulling the band tighter. Bring other leg in, and continue to “waddle” across the floor”. Don’t forget to come back so you get both sides evenly!

Scissors

This is an ab exercise that also works your hip flexors. You may remember it from previous posts. Lie flat on your back, with legs straight and about 6-12 inches off the ground. Spread legs out horizontally and back in, exactly like a pair of scissors. Pair this with flutters, the exercise below, for a full-hip workout. Try 3 sets of 25 reps.

Flutters

Flutters are the opposite of scissors. That is, you kick vertically, like you’re swimming in a pool. Again, try these with the scissors exercise above, and do 3 sets of 25 reps. If either of these give your lower back trouble, put your hands flat under your butt for support.

Fire Hydrants

This exercise gets its name from the motion. Just think of a dog… doing his business on a fire hydrant. You know, stereotypes. Get on all fours. Keeping core tight, raise leg out to the side and bring it back down. That’s one rep. Try to do 3 sets of 20.

Fire hydrants, Step 1

Fire hydrants, Step 1

Fire hydrants, Step 2

Fire hydrants, Step 2

Leg Kick-backs

This exercise is also done on all fours. Kick your leg back straight behind you, pinching your butt tight. Bring your leg back down. That’s one set. Do 3 sets of 20.

Leg Kick-backs, Step 1

Leg Kick-backs, Step 1

Leg Kick-backs, Step 2

Leg Kick-backs, Step 2

Lunge Stretch

This is just how it sounds. Lunge forward so knee rests on the ground. Lean forward to feel the stretch in your hip. To make it more intense, raise both arms in the air straight above your head. Hold for 3-5 slow breaths. This is a great hip stretch.

Front Leg Lift

The effort you put into this will vary based on the strength/pain of your hips. Lie flat on your back with your legs straight. Keeping your legs straight, lift them into the air slowly. To make it harder, raise your legs high into the air (until you come to a 90 degree angle). If that hurts your hips, don’t go as high! Whether it be a 45 degree angle or just 6 inches you can get off the ground, as long as you’re doing it slowly you’re doing great and building strength. This exercise really helps your hip flexors, and also does good things for your lower abs. If this strains your back, simply place your hands flat under your butt to help support it. Try 3 sets of 15-20.

Front Leg Lift, Step 1

Front Leg Lift, Step 1

Front leg lift, Step 2

Front leg lift, Step 2

Side Leg Lift

Lie flat on your side with one foot/leg on top of the other. Raise leg up in the air, as close to 90 degrees as you can get (the full 90 takes a bit of flexibility!). Lower back down for one rep. Try 3 sets of 20.

Side leg lift, Step 1

Side leg lift, Step 1

Side leg lift, Step 2

Side leg lift, Step 2

Any or all of these exercises can be added to your leg workout or even your daily life. Hip and glute strength are a very important thing to keep strong for your body’s balance, and hopefully these exercises will help. Some may be quick and easy enough that you can do a few sets before you go to bed at night, or while you’re waiting for your toast to pop in the morning. I hope you work as hard at these exercises as I did with this post (It took me three days, so appreciate it!! Just kidding…. kinda).

Are you looking forward to a new weekend challenge tomorrow night??

Good Things πŸ™‚

FS&JJ