Week 1 – Healthy Eating on a Budget

The great thing about being prepared is you don’t stress out about lunch and you know you are eating healthy.  I’m also saving a lot of money this week and it’s only day 2!  Beyond the groceries I have I would typically get a regular coffee for close to $3.  I generally would spend between $12-15 for lunch, at least 2, sometimes 3 days during the week.  For dinner, we always have a bottle of wine (averaging about $15-18) and for the past two nights we’ve been going wine-less.  In one day, I’ve saved over $30 which is pretty exciting!

Going back to my previous post on my groceries bought for lunch in my week 1 post, I had the following meals on Tuesday.

DAY 2 – Week 1

9:30 AM – Breakfast (at work post spin class)

1 pkt 365 Instant Original Oatmeal (150 cal/2.5g fat/27g carbs/4g dietary fiber/1g soluble fiber/<1g sugar/6g protein)

½ scoop Sun Warrior Blend Chocolate Protein Powder (which I keep stock in vanilla and chocolate at all times)

1 Tsp maca (I use as a supplement because it is rich in vitamin B, C, and E. It also contains calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and amino acids)

1 tsp PB2 ( I typically have in the house and this is just for flavor if I want to keep my fat content lower at a specific meal otherwise I would use the nut butter itself)

Mix in all the above ingredients.  Add approx. ¾ cup water (hot or heat in microwave for 1 min).  Stir & add in ¼ cup of almond milk until consistency is creamy.  Add more milk if needed.  Heat another 20-30 seconds, stir and enjoy!

12:30 PM  – Lunch

½ cup leftover homemade daal & ¼ cup brown rice (From Sunday’s dinner)

1 slice Ezekiel bread

¼ sliced/mashed avocado

1 bottle Kombucha – post meal.  During lunch I drink water

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3:30 PM – SNACK

Wallaby 0% Greek Plain Yogurt

1 Tbsp Almond butter

1 medium mango sliced

8:00 PM – DINNER

2 – Homemade Black Bean Sweet Potato Burger topped with ¼ sliced avocado & salsa (recipe to come tomorrow and will be linked)

*Made baked lemon pepper chicken for my fiancé so I’m including that recipe here since I don’t eat meat)

  1. Cut 2 large organic chicken breasts and divide into 2  (makes 4 pieces)
  2. heat 2 tbsp of coconut oil in microwave for 20 sec or until melted.  Pour mixture over chicken breasts
  3. squeeze 1/2 lemon over chicken breasts and top with black pepper
  4. Bake at 425 for 35-40 minutes or until cooked all the way through

1 Liter of water

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SNACK – post dinner

½ cup wasabi peas (not recommended for a clean diet by craving them!)

 

DAY 3 – Week 1

10AM – Green Juice

12PM – HU Kitchen

This was a last minute lunch with an out of town friend who was in the city for 1 day. I went outside of my grocery list to meet her because sometimes there are things that just come up and you have to make exceptionsJ

  • 1 paleo wild salmon cake
  • 1 paleo curried sweet potatoes
  • Cranberry Kombucha

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3:30PM – Vega One Spiced Chai protein shake with almond milk

7:00PM – Dinner

  • Homemade sweet potato burgers from the previous night topped with sliced avocado, sliced tomato and a side of salsa

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DAY 4 – WEEK 1

8:30AM Breakfast (post workout lifting)

2 hard-boiled egg whites

1 slice whole grain bread

¼ avocado smashed on toast

1 tsp hemp seeds sprinkled on top

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LUNCH 12:00PM

2 slices of whole grain toast

¼ avocado smashed on top of one piece and lemon dill tuna on the other

1 hard-boiled egg white

 

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SNACK 3:30PM (need extra carbs for spin class at 6:30)

Bowl of fruit drizzled in raw almond butter.  (1 small mango, 3 strawberries & ½ banana sliced)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since we are leaving for Miami tomorrow morning the goal was to clean out the fridge and that meant getting creative and mixing a lot of sides to equal a main.  It ended up delicious and very filling!  Best part is we cleaned out the fridge before we left for the weekend to start week 2!

Dinner 7:30PM (empty out the fridge night)

Sauteed brussel sprouts & tempeh  + leftover homemade sweet potato & black bean burger topped with a slice of avocado

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Breakfast on Friday pre our 8am flight was 2 hard boiled egg whites, leftover avocado and a slice of sprouted grain bread.

The weekend consisted of eating and drinking whatever we wanted.  We enjoyed wine, mojitos, gelato, chocolate desert, sushi, chips & guacamole, tacos and whatever we wanted.  We also were very active walking, running, biking and dancing the night away in little Havana.  We enjoyed the food, drink, culture and spent time with friends.  Life is about balance and its not worth it if you can’t enjoy yourself once in a while.  Next week goes back to eating clean.

 

 

 

 

Health Food on a budget challenge Week 1

I decided to challenge myself to actually track how much I spend on groceries.  I love seeing how creative I can get with the groceries I just purchased for the week combined with what I already have in my cabinets.  Now I have pretty basic ingredients to start but if you don’t know what I mean by basics you will start to learn if you follow along throughout this challenge.

I always like to purchase groceries for my fiancé and I and plan meals for the week.  We give ourselves a weekly budget but let’s be serious, we never stick to that budget.  Of all places we live in New York City with the best of the best restaurants, happy hours and a very packed social and work calendars.  Some weeks eating at home can be challenging but to hold ourselves to this challenge we removed our wine budget, yes we have a wine budget, and challenged ourselves to really stick to what we purchased this week.  Here’s a log of what was purchased to be prepared at work for lunch, including total cost, and a breakdown of what I ate today.

Lunches

Every Monday I walk to Whole Foods at lunch and get a few groceries for the week.  I’m usually pretty good about sticking to what I purchase but usually 1 or two days I’ll opt to go get sushi, a bowl or something else that sounds more appealing that day.  Here’s an image and long of what I purchased for $62.58.

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Here’s the full list of food purchased:

Ezekiel Bread

Unsweetened Almond Milk

2 mangos

2 avocados

3 small bananas

2 pink grapefruit

.84lb lemon dill tuna salad (no dairy)

1 jar organic almond butter (no sweetener, just almonds)

12 oz raw organic pressed beet juice

2 wallaby 0% plain Greek yogurt

12 oz vegan carrot ginger soup

Engine 2 Tuscan White Bean Burger

Monday, April 4th Log

Wake up 6:15 – Hot water with 1/2 sliced lemon to start every day

Breakfast 10AM (not standard. Case of the Mondays = no workout and late arrival to work) – Juicy Cube fresh juice 12 oz Detox Expert (carrots, spinach, cucumber, ginger, apple, parsley)

Lunch 12:30pm – 1/3 cup lemon dill tuna salad + vegan carrot ginger soup 12oz + small homemade falafel brought in by colleague at work topped with tsp tahini.  I drink water with lunch but have my kombucha after to serve as my probiotic which is key in my diet.

snack 3:30 – 1/2 grapefruit + 1 tbsp almond butter drizzled on 1 sliced banana

*dinner 7:30 – baked sole & zucchini noodles

Tonight my fiancé and I were craving sweets so I had a ton of frozen bananas and made nice cream with what I had in the cabinets(cashew butter, cinnamon, coconut milk, coconut flakes & cacao nibs) Now these kitchen ingredients are not standard but I’m not normal so they are for me and I typically have a variety of foods like this hanging around:)

I also drink a ton of water all throughout the day.  Key to keep hunger at bay and maintaining or losing weight.

That’s about all I can write this evening because I’m just exhausted and need to get up early.   However, tomorrow I’ll share my dinner pics and groceries purchased from Fresh Direct and log my daily meals from that order.

 

 

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Experimenting today with the ripened bananas I have left in my kitchen and decided to experiment with a few different ingredients to see how delectable and nutritious I could make these little muffins.  Given I had a craving for chocolate today, I decided to spice up the typical banana muffins and add in some more flare and protein.

These guys came out quite delicious and was a fairly quick and simple baking process with no more than 15-20 min prep time and 15-20 min baking time.  I decided to add protein because I’m always looking for ways to incorporate more protein into my diet.  These were the perfect delivery method for a grab and go breakfast or snack.

I first mashed the bananas and started mixing and whipping the liquid ingredients.  Second, I added the dry ingredients of coconut flour, oat flour, plant protein powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, hemp seeds and mixed it till the mixture was very thick and smooth. I ended up adding some coconut milk to the mixture to keep the consistency moist for pouring into the muffin tins.

After mixing very well I added about a cup of chocolate chips to the mixture. Depending on your love for chocolate or your craving for the day,  you can add more or less but I prefer to have a multitude of chips in my cookies and muffins!

Makes approx 12 medium-large muffins.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grease and line your muffin tin and set aside

In medium mixing bowl, mash your bananas and add in your honey, vanilla, coconut oil, applesauce, eggs, coconut milk and almond butter.

Mix in your coconut flour, baking soda and oat flour and allow to sit for 2 minutes to thicken up. The mix will look runny at first but as the coconut flour absorbs the liquid the consistency will become more like a cake batter. 

Add in the chocolate chips and mix so the chips are evenly distributed.

Pour your combined mixture into your muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the muffins start to rise and the top wills start to develop a golden brown color.  The muffins should be dense and fully cooked at this point.  You may want to do the fork test to ensure the muffins are cooked all the way through.  

Let cool for 5-10 minutes and enjoy!

Ingredients:

Liquid Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 -3 ripened bananas
  • 3 tbsp honey or agave
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 3 tbs melted coconut oil or butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup almond butter

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 scoop of plant protein (I used plant fusion)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp hemp seeds or chia seeds (optional)
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Here’s the end result!

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I hope you all enjoy!!

 

 

Pumpkin Protein Muffins

After a pumpkin craving struck I decided to take action and bake this weekend.  Just the smell of baked goods in the oven is enough to make you want to snuggle up on the couch with a fluffy faux fur blanket, sip on some ginger tea and indulge in delicious baked goods. When something tastes this good, it kinda feels like cheating but I call it, “clean cheating”.

Rather than add much dialog here I’ve outlined the recipe and ingredients below.  I also took some pics of the ingredients and the process along the way.  Don’t mind my photography skills as this are down and dirty shots intermittent with baking!  Hope you find these helpful!

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Combine all ingredients into a large mixing bowl:

  • 1 cup organic pumpkin puree
  • 3 large eggs (2 egg whites and 1 full egg)
  • 2 tbsp raw agave or maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 2 scoops Plant Fusion Vanilla Plant Protein
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4-1/2 cup almond or coconut milk

Mix all ingredients together – depending on how dense you want the muffins you can add more almond milk/coconut milk as desired.

Once all ingredients are blended spoon mix into muffin tin so its fills approx 3/4 of the way.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick or fork comes out clean when put into a muffin.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle with coconut sugar and almond butter topping(below).

Topping:

  • 2 tbsp agave
  • 2 tbsp well mixed organic raw almond butter

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Meatless Monday Lentils

I try to make an effort to post on a regular basis but I’m a bit lagging due to my busy schedule.  I have very long and full days starting with a 5am wake up for the gym, working all day and finding time to shop for groceries and cook can sometimes be a chore.  I really make an effort to ensure I eat clean on a daily basis and to do that it requires additional time and effort especially when I live in a city with so many great restaurants!  By the time I get home I don’t start prepping dinner until 7:30, which can make a very hungry boyfriend start to scavenge if I don’t work fast!  I say this because I am absolutely certain all of you deal with the same types of challenges everyday, which is why I started this blog.  Clean eating can sometimes be a chore, but it’s so worth it for your health, the health of your family and your wallet!

I decided to start with lentils because they are loaded with protein on a vegetarian dinner night and quite filling.  I wanted to use what seasonings and veggies I already had with an exception of a few extra items where I typically like to find inspiration at my local Chelsea market.   As I peruse the produce aisle I notice a bright pop of color coming from the beautiful peppers.  I was drawn to these very fall and festive looking vegetables and decided to pick up bright red and orange peppers and make stuffed peppers.  After grabbing a few more flavor boosters like garlic, onion and paprika its time to head back to my cooking haven to start dinner before the scavenger comes out.

Start by boiling the lentils, for those take by far the longest to prepare!  30-40 minutes is pretty typical to boil and simmer so the prep time can be painful when you are in a crunch.  To save yourself some time, try putting the lentils in the crockpot with the seasonings. You can use the below ingredients and cook them on low all day to get a nice pot of fully prepared lentils upon arrival.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup green lentils

3 cups water

2 Cloves fresh garlic

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp basil or small handful of fresh chopped basil

1 tsp paprika

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1-2 tsp cracked pepper

1-2 tsp salt

2-3 large peppers in bright colors

1/3 cup goat cheese

Start by preparing your pan with the garlic and olive oil.  Try to crack open your garlic clove and chop into into fine pieces.  Let the olive oil and garlic start to coat the pan to prepare to add the lentils.  Bring the lentils to a good boil and begin adding the remaining ingredients one by one as the lentils are boiling.   After all ingredients have been added and lentils are boiling, bring the lentils to medium and let simmer for 35-40 minutes, while stirring and watching for the water to dissolve into the lentils.  Keep adding water 1/4 cup at a time until lentils are soft.  For a little added creamy texture, try adding almond milk.  It really brings out the flavor and adds a nice creamy consistency(right).

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While lentils are finishing up, prepare the peppers by cutting in half and removing the core and seeds.  Clean them out so there is a nice opening to lay out the lentils evenly.  Place the half’s in at least a 1-2″ deep pan and drizzle some of the above seasoning and/or olive oil. For some added flavor, crumble goat cheese to the bottom of the peppers.  Once the lentils are soft, add them to the peppers and top with goat cheese.

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Place in oven on 350 and heat for approx 10-15 minutes or until peppers are browned at the edges and starting to soften.  Below is a picture of my final product:)

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Work snacking healthy and simple

Looking for some nutritious snacks at work without all the prep time?  There are just some days we all don’t even have time to use the restroom, so why would we have time to go out to lunch let alone prepare lunch the night before?  The alternative then becomes the processed, sodium packed foods you find in your frozen food aisle at the grocery store, salad bar at work or the nearest food emporium.  This can not only become expensive but it tends to typically contain hidden calories and fat even though you think you are eating healthy!

The other option is taking time to meal prep on Sunday or the night prior.  Now I’m a huge proponent and love to prep, but with life, work, families and etc. it sometimes becomes an impossible feat.  Most of us are not in the business of body building and have many other priorities so it becomes this monster of a task to have healthy prepared meals in advance.  Now in the absence of having prepared meals, you start to snack and if you were any where like I do, the snacks are NOT healthy!

I’m here to help make this easy and take out the guess work and added stress.  I’ve had numerous creative trials with my office snacks & lunches and as long as you have a few simple ingredients it takes 2 minutes to create something delicious and nutritious.

Things to pack for this easy snack.

  1. Plain Greek Yogurt.  I prefer Fage or Siggi’s plain because they are low in sugar (<5g) and high in protein (15-17g) per 150g container (or individual size).
  2. Granola.  Whether it’s prepared or homemade the secret is to look for natural granola without the sugar.  My gauge is typically to search for granola with 10g of sugar or less, which is hard to find!
  3. Fresh Fruit.  Always have some on hand to add to any smoothie or bowl.  Berries and bananas are a staple for me because they are easy to add.  While traveling a banana and apple work great.
  4. Protein Powder.  No matter where I am, its always on me.  Either opt for a small container or the single serve pouches are great for carrying in your purse, suitcase, cupboard, laptop bag for work and etc.  Never leave home without it.  I prefer plant based options like Plant Fusion, SunWarrior, VegaOne, Garden of Life and many more.
  5. Superfoods.  I buy bulk hemp seeds, dried goji berries, chia seeds, maca powder, spirulina and more to have on hand at all times.  These can be easily added to any smoothie or bowl and are easy to take in small plastic containers or ziploc bags.  There are many health food stores that also sell individual pouches of these items as well.

Directions:

  • Mix a scoop of the protein powder(or 1 serving size) with the greek yogurt (1 serving size).  Once you have formed a good mixture that is evening mixed you are ready to add the toppings.
  • Chop up 1/2 banana and lay the slices on the mixture
  • Add your fresh or dried fuit
  • Add 1-2 tbsp of granola

Sprinkle with your superfoods and you are ready to enjoy a tasty protein packed snack!

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Strawberry protein powder + greek yogurt 2 tbsp Goji berries 1/2 Banana 1/2 tbsp chia/hemp seeds 1 tbsp granola

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Let me know your thoughts on what you like to see posted!  I’m no journalism major by any counts but I love sharing healthy recipes, workouts, and just inspiring in any other way I can to help YOU lead a healthy life.

The SUPER in Hemp

We hear all this buzz about hemp but what does all of it mean? We are inundated with information about SUPER FOODS! How do we differentiate and choose just ONE or even a couple SUPER foods to add into our diet? Which is most important for me and why? Its all very confusing to navigate and understand all of the information we are given.

I really enjoy learning about foods and the impact they have on the body. I’ve also tried to alleviate natural symptoms that I’ve had just through normal everyday mental stress, physical stress on the body and natural hormonal side effects. I have really taken the time to go through the benefits of some specific super foods that I choose to incorporate into my diet. Through my own testing and trial and error, I’ve found a few that I use and would like to share to hopefully help others. Today, I will focus on Hemp Seeds.

Hemp seeds are high in nutritional value and contain 20 different varieties of amino acids and all nine of the essential amino acids.  What’s the deal with all of these amino acids? What do they actually do? Why do we need them? Some essential amino acids can’t be naturally produced by the body and we don’t always produce all essential amino acids.  Therefore, we need to supplement through food or other supplementation. Eating hemp seeds gives the body all the essential amino acids required to maintain health, and provides the necessary amounts of amino acids the body needs. Eating hemp seeds could also aid, if not heal, people suffering from immune deficiency diseases. How great is that?

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Hemp seeds also contain high amounts of protein. This helps to strengthen the immune system, thereby, reducing the instances of diseases, besides helping in excreting toxins from the body. The question then becomes why choose hemp over other foods with amino acids? There is no other food that contains the high level quantities of essential fatty acids found in hemp seeds. Even flaxseed and other nut or seed oil, that contain very high amounts of vitamin E and other minerals does not compare. It has a balanced ratio of omega 3 to 6 fatt around a three to one ratio.

You can consume hemp seeds in a variety of ways and its probably the easiest to sprinkle on your food, blend into your protein shakes or smoothies and bake with them.  I LOVE having the shelled hemp seeds on hand in a small container and I sprinkle a small tablespoon on my oatmeal or toast in the morning.  I also sprinkle into my homemade granola or topping for my smoothies.  It adds some texture and you don’t really even taste them.

 

Hemp seeds has no known side effects when consuming them. However, you should always remember that excess of anything is bad, so make sure that you consume just enough to keep your body healthy.  Cheers to your health and taking great care of your body!

 

 

Raw Vegan Chocolate Mousse Parfaits

I work in a beauty office where everyone is constantly on diets.  Whether it’s trying to cut out sugar, count calories, remove carbs or whatever the latest fad I try to keep my colleagues excited about eating HEALTHY food.  By doing so, I have them focus less on what they shouldn’t eat and more of what they SHOULD eat.  Healthy, raw food does taste good you just have to learn how to make it work for you.

Today I made raw vegan chocolate mousse parfaits for everyone and made one batch with a natural sweetener(honey or agave) and one without.  Working within the constraints of no sugar, yes not even a natural sweetener like honey or agave, I was able to make it work.  As it turns out the non sugar crew, along with the sweetener crew, LOVED the mousse.  So much in fact they commented it was not only satisfying but tasted great and was extremely filling.  Below is a pic of some of the parfaits I made for my office crew along with the recipe.

Happy mousse making!

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Unsweetened Chocolate Mousse Parfaits

Makes about 5-6 parfaits:

2-2.5 frozen bananas

1 refrigerated avocado

1/4-1/3 cup raw unsweetened organic cacao powder (add more if you want to make darker)

1/4 cup raw almond butter

1/2 cup almond milk (add more if texture is too thick to mix)

Mix in a food processor or NutriBullet until smooth

Topping:

Top with 1/2 banana sliced into 5-6 pieces

Sprinkle Raw organic cacao nibs

Sprinkle Raw unsweetened coconut flakes

Drizzle with raw organic almond butter

Eating for your life

People ask me daily what I eat and how to avoid temptation and stay on track. Food should be viewed as fuel for your body. Something that enables you to have energy, focus, and get through the day. There are enough struggles we deal with on a daily basis and food should not be added to the list of complications. Food can be a joy. It can be enjoyable making it, eating it and sharing with others.

Food also can be our enemy. It can be something that drains us of energy, gives us stomach aches and makes us bloat, makes our skin break out, causes weight gain and give us anxiety after eating bad food. Why not make our food work for us not against us? Why not eat things to invest in our future selves? Why not eat things that make us feel good and make us look and feel beautiful?

If we were to only look at food as something that could not only make us feel better in our daily lives, but prevent diseases, slow down the aging process and produce an unlimited amount of benefits we would all choose to eat healthy without hesitation. There is no simple solution. No diet. It’s a reset of your mindset. It’s a lifestyle. Being healthy is something we choose to do every single day. Let’s take a step back and look at the big picture. Relax. Reset and Repeat.

Getting started is the hardest part….

People are always asking me how I stay on track with my eating and how I get motivation to workout so consistently.  The answer is you need the discipline, simply stated that’s the trick.  You need a goal, whatever it may be.  You want to start with a small goal and gradually add to it or set more goals once you have achieved your initial goals.  Start with working out an extra day a week or an extra 30 minutes or just simply starting.  Sign up for a new physical activity that you’ve never tried in addition to your regular workout routine.  You need to mix it up in order to stay on track.  no one wants to get bored with a fitness regimen, that’s the quickest way to give up on your goals.

I’ve counseled many friends and family and how to get started, that’s the hardest part.  Making that decision to actually start moving forward is the biggest step.  Once you decide to get started you can start making goals and checking them off.  The more goals you achieve, the more motivated you will be to stay the course.   Here are a few tips to get you started:

1.) Choose a time of day to workout and stick to it.  Some of us are AM fitness freaks and some of us are PM fitness owls.  Whatever your preference, set a time of day that works in your schedule so you can ensure you stick to it.

2.) Try something new.  Start by trying the pilates or yoga class at the gym you’ve always wanted to try.  Not only will this mix up your routine, but it will hold you accountable to show up to class:)

3.) Be active in some way at least 3-4 days a week.  Even if its for 30 minutes, try to get in some type of activity.  If you can’t go the gym, take a walk or try an online workout class.  Get your body moving and you’ll start to build up that motivation little by little to continue.

4.) Try cooking at home.  Rather than going out to eat for every meal, try eating at home and preparing your own meals.  This is the only way to ensure you know what ingredients are being put into your meals.

5.) Be conscious of what you eat.  Starting a food journal is probably the easiest way to get started.  Whether is downloading a food tracking app like MyFitnessPal or even if its just tracking what you eat in your phone or in a notebook.  This will start to hold you accountable and give you a better idea of what you are consuming daily, which can be extremely eye opening to some.

Start with these easy steps and you’ll be well on your way to transitioning into a healthier lifestyle.  Stay tuned for more tips!  Enjoy!