How I Was (semi) Productive During My Snow Day

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It’s a snow day! I mean, I suppose I could be out in this muck, but why bother when I have everything I need (including my puppies) right here with me? This morning I did a quick kettlebell circuit, nothing fancy, just some swings, goblet squats, highpulls, and windmills, I ended it out with a 60 second plank.  I think it took me about 20 minutes to complete.  This afternoon i’m going to be preparing some salads and some premade protein oatmeal packets (recipe to come) to get me through the rest of the week and the weekend, so that way when i’m hungry I don’t need to think about or take the time to prepare myself something.  I’ve really been feeling tight lately, so I can’t wait for this snow to clear so I can go check out a yoga class.  I haven’t been to yoga since I moved back from England, so it’s been way too long! Snow days can be productive, I suppose 🙂 What are you all doing today to get your mind and body stronger and healthier? I hope everyone has a fantastic day! Stick with those goals, and remember, relax, take it all one day at a time!!

-Shannon

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Overnight Breakfast Quinoa

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I’ll admit it, I have a problem eating a fully nutritious breakfast, and I’m going to use the oldest (and lamest) excuse in the book- I just don’t have the time!! This recipe is made the night before and sits in your fridge overnight until it reaches it’s full yumminess capacity by the time you wake up in the morning.  Quinoa is a complete protein so top in the morning with fresh fruit, nuts, or seeds and you have yourself a complete meal in no time at all.  I hope you all enjoy!!

Ingredients:

1/3 cup (60g) dry quinoa cooked with 1 cup almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 mashed banana
1-2 tbsps chia seeds or flaxseed
1/2 cup almond milk (or regular low fat milk)

Method:

Cook your quinoa by bringing the milk to the boil in a small pot, then adding the quinoa.

Turn the heat right down to a simmer and put the lid on the pot, allowing the quinoa to cook for 15-20 minutes or until all the liquid soaks up.

Allow the quinoa to cool completely, then combine it with the vanilla extract, banana, chia seeds/flaxseed and the extra almond milk and leave in the fridge overnight to thicken up.

Serve as you would usual overnight oats, topped with lots of fresh fruit, nuts or seeds of your choice.

Recipe thanks to SuperFoodSiobhan.blogspot.com

Healthy, Creamy, Horseradish Hummus

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I love hummus, and I also love horseradish.  At parties they always seem to have a creamy, cheesy horseradish dip served with crackers.  Since that is a no no for my diet I decided to seek out a fantastic recipe for something a bit healthier.  Served with vegetable crudites you can satisfy your hummus and horseradish craving at the same time and not feel so bad about it afterwards! Enjoy!

Horseradish Hummus

Ingredients:

-1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in water or for at least 3 hours
-1/3 cup Tahini plus 1 tablespoon
-2 large garlic cloves minced
-juice of 1 large lemon
-4 tablespoons water
-1/3 cup olive oil
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 bunch fresh dill
-2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
-vegetable crudites for serving

Method:

-Place soaked chickpeas in a small pot with fresh water. Bring chickpeas to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for at least one hour. You may need to add more water as you simmer the chickpeas ~ check every so often to make sure there is an inch or so of water covering them.

-Once the chickpeas are fork tender, drain them from the water.

-Add the chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, water, olive oil, salt, fresh dill and horseradish to a large food processor. Pulse until the consistency becomes smooth. If needed, add more water or olive oil to achieve desired consistency.

-Serve with crudite

Recipe thanks to Food52

Taking Charge of Your Life

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This morning I woke up and I, for some reason, thought back to the time when I hadn’t exercised in years, drank very heavily, and ate awful, body destroying foods.  I started to wonder why it took me so long to realize that my health and body were worth investing in so much more than a new handbag or a night out at the bar.  Some may call what I did extreme, but I took my 401k savings out (early! eeek) and invested ALL of it in getting myself in shape, getting my personal training certification, buying equipment, and basically turning my life around.  With the current obesity epidemic this country is facing, it makes me wonder why MORE people aren’t having this epiphany and doing something to change their current situation, whether it be weight loss, increased mobility, improving strength, or even just getting out and walking to improve your cardiovascular health.  I understand that people live busy lives, between jobs, family, and trying to fit in some ‘me’ time, it seems like it leaves little room for anything else.  However, let me say this, think of how great those days when you wake up and actually have energy feel…why not feel like that all the time?  Why not say, “I can take 2% of my day and dedicate that to 30 minutes of exercise”?  You don’t need a gym, you don’t even need equipment.  The internet is FULL of great videos that can get you started just working out in your living room.  Also, please don’t let yourself be defined by the number on the scale.  Every person is different, every body shape is different, don’t let a number come between you and your self confidence.   As far as nutrition goes, I feel like the majority of people choose to eat greasy, fast food meals, not because they are cheaper, but because they are FASTER. Take the time for your health to cook yourself fabulous nutritious meals.  Your body will thank you for it! The whole reason I got into this profession is so that I can help people.  I want people to see that they are WORTH making these life changes, to committing themselves to leading the healthiest, happiest, longest life possible.  You have it in you, you can accomplish anything that you set your mind to, the hardest part is always taking that first step.

Written By:

Shannon Benedetto ACSM-cpt

How to get back to your routine after taking a sabbatical

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I’m not going to lie, I have been majorly slacking on my fitness lately. My nutrition is on point which is helping me not gain too much weight back while I’m taking a break from the gym, but my question is, how do you get back into a routine once you’ve taking one, two, three weeks or even a month off? I’m going to give you some tips to get you back up and moving towards your goals with more gusto than ever before!

Personal Trainer Tip #1
Don’t expect to go back to where you were immediately
I think this is a huge mistake, and I also think it gets people down and makes it less likely for them to continue. If you have been out of the gym for a month or so, don’t expect to go back to doing what you could before your break right away. Slowly work yourself up to where you were. Remember, something is better than nothing. Stay with positive thoughts and realistic goals and you will get back (or surpass!) where you were before your break.

Personal Trainer Tip #2
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others!
You can’t walk into a gym and compare your chapter 5 to their chapter 25- this will only lead to you feeling like you aren’t working hard enough, get you discouraged, and ultimately lead to you not wanting to go back. When you go to the gym, put your earphones in and get into your own zone. This is about you, not about anyone else in the gym. Don’t be discouraged because you aren’t where you want to be YET, you will get there!

Personal Trainer Tip #3
Set Goals
Realistic goals! There is no better feeling than completing a goal you set out to achieve. It may be holding a plank for one minute, or getting up that extra 30 pounds on your dead lift. Whatever it is, set small goals that will eventually lead to your bigger, long term goal.

All of these little tips will help you get back to where you want to be. There is no shame in starting over, only for not ever starting back up. Keep a positive mental framework around your short and long term goals and you will be guaranteed success! If you have any questions or comments about this article, please feel free to contact me! Fitandfabforlife1@gmail.com
Thanks for reading and good luck on whatever journey you are taking!!

Written By: Shannon Benedetto ACSM-cpt

Spaghetti Squash Boats with Ground Turkey, Spinach, Chickpeas, and Mozzerella

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I made this dish up last night with some things I had in the fridge and it came out super yummy so I thought I would share it with all of you! Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS
1 spaghetti squash
1/2 onion
2 cloves of garlic (more or less to taste)
1 bag baby spinach
1 can chickpeas
1 small package of low fat Mozzerella cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

METHOD
-preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
-cut squash in half lengthwise, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, place in preheated oven for 45 min- 1 hour, until squash pulls away easily from outer shell.
-while squash is baking, sauté garlic and onion in a large skillet until soft.
-add turkey to onion and garlic, cook until no longer pink.
-add spinach and chickpeas, cook until spinach is wilted. Salt and pepper to taste.
-remove cooked squash from oven, scrape out ‘spaghetti’ strands from shell and add to turkey mixture. Stir well.
-add spaghetti squash and turkey mixture back to squash shells, top with Mozzerella and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
-remove from oven and enjoy!!

“Oh crap, I think I’m sick…”: When to Push Through and When to Stay in Bed

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It’s happened.  I think I finally have to admit to myself that i’m sick.  I’ve been feeling a bit rough the past couple weeks, but it never seemed to really, fully develop into a major cold.  Now, I think my luck has run out.  I fit a workout in this morning, but I took it much easier than normal.  So the question is, when you’re sick, when should you put on your big boy pants and get to the gym and when should you call in sick?

If You’re Running a Fever

If you find that you are running a fever you should definitely be at home, in bed.  The danger in exercising when you have a fever is raising your internal body temperature more than it already is, which can make you even sicker.  If your temperature is 101 degrees Fahrenheit, skip the gym and keep up on your fluid intake.

The Neck Check

Another good rule when deciding whether or not it is advisable to hit the gym is where your symptoms are located.  If your symptoms are above the neck, sore throat, tearing eyes, nasal congestion, or sneezing, you are probably okay to workout.  Any symptoms below the neck, including bronchial tightness, coughing, body aches, fever, and fatigue then you should probably give your body time to rest and recover from whatever it is trying to fight off.

Prevention is the Best Medicine

The best way to avoid all of these maladies is to not get sick in the first place.  Exercise can actually boost your body’s defenses against illness and infection. Thirty minutes of regular exercise three to four times a week has been shown to raise immunity by raising levels of T cells, which are one of the body’s first defenses against infection.  Also, being vigilant in washing your hands correctly and often can help stop the spread of germs.  Carry some antibacterial gel in your pocket and actually use it!

If You Do Decide to Hit the Gym….

One of my major pet peeves is when someone doesn’t wipe down their equipment after they use it.  But, alas, the people who fail to wipe down their machines aren’t likely to change their behavior anytime soon, so i’ve gotten into the habit of ALWAYS wiping down my equipment before I use it.  This is an especially good rule when you’re already sick, with a lowered immunity the last thing you need is to pick up another random cold bug floating on the elliptical machine.  If you’re sick and you’re blowing your nose, please, I beg you, use the hand sanitizer when you finish, every time! Basically, if you’re fighting something off and decide to use the gym, please just be courteous to your other gym goers by trying to minimize the spreading of germs.

Looks like i’m going to be out of the game for a couple days, but if you’re feeling sick, please be sure to contact your doctor to get a proper diagnosis before proceeding with any type of exercise.  Wishing you all the best, health and happiness, happy 2014 everyone!

Written By:

Shannon Benedetto ACSM-cpt