Another FASHION Friday Favorite

Ladies!  My fingers (and toes) are crossed in the hopes that FALL is just around the corner!  Who doesn’t LOVE fall?  I could go on and on about what, specifically, I love about fall but instead here is a little peek at some of my specific fall faves:

Fall Collage

Scuba hoodies, PSL’s (Yes, I know what’s in them – I have 1 every year…sue me), pumpkin spice candles, Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale, pumpkin-patching with my kiddies, fall clothes, football & (healthy) comfort foods.  Let’s stop here, however, & focus on one of fall’s most essential wardrobe items – – THE SKINNY JEAN.  I clearly remember the day I sat at my desk at work instant messaging with a good friend of mine who was living in Los Angeles….I was swearing up and down that I’d NEVER wear skinny jeans.  I was convinced they were not for my muscular legs and pretty much just thought they’d look hideous.  Fast forward to NOW & I am eating my words as I LOVE LOVE LOVE my favorite pair of skinnies!!!  You’ll be shocked to know that:

1.  They did not cost $200 (I’d NEVER spend that much on jeans….ever.)

2.  They aren’t some trendy brand.

I think that people ASSUME you must spend a ton and shop ONLY at stores like Nordstrom or Saks for good skinnies (or jeans in general).  The winner here?  Good old Gap 1969 Always Skinny jeans.  Yep, the Gap.  These fit like a glove & come with just the right amount of stretch, but not too much that within an hour of wearing them you are constantly tugging and pulling them up (you ladies know what I mean).  They are FABULOUS.   Perfect for booties, flats, riding boots, Uggs & even my beloved Hunters.  I promise they’ll be your favorite too – – rush out and try some & then start stocking up for FALL!  (Bonus:  These are ON SALE for Labor Day – regularly $69, marked down to $41 – – !!!)


Do YOU have a fave pair of skinnies?  If so, please share!  

What are some of your other fall favorites?  

Workout of the Week #4

I tried a new workout format and wow, I like this!  My class members will be seeing this in some our classes soon.  Thanks to the cross fit world, I tried out an EMOM workout: Every Minute on the Minute.  You can read more information about this kind of workout here and here.

In the crossfit world, they are doing these exercises with weight and only 1-5 reps at a time and of course with heavy weight.  I can’t wait to get back to lifting more so I can do this format with some dead lifts, thrusters and pull-ups.  I think my hubby will also enjoy some EMOM workouts now that after all these years he allows me to “suggest” workouts for him.

So here is my quick at-home EMOM using body weight (and maybe a few more reps than the crossfit world).  I thought it would be tough and man I was right- give it a whirl yourself!

WOW #4

 We want to know: what did you think of this workout?

How to Build a Healthy Salad

Let’s talk one of my favorite topics:  SALADS!  I eat a salad daily & LOVE mixing up ingredients to make them healthy, satisfying and delicious!  Many of you probably rolled your eyes when you saw the word SALAD in the title of this post, but trust me – – – salads do NOT have to be boring!  I try to stick to this formula when making a salad (give or take the “healthy extras” option as many times this is when sugar and additional fats can sneak into your salads):


My favorite & always my “go to” combo is as follows:  1.  spinach as the base  2.  green onions as extra greenery  3.  strawberries as a pop of color  4.  sunflower seeds or sliced almonds for crunch 5.  roasted chicken breast for protein  6.  homemade balsamic dressing.  It’s foolproof & always healthy + delicious!   My basic vinaigrette dressing is as follows:  6 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, 4.5 tsp dijon mustard, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil – – clean & easy!   When eating OUT beware of UN-healthy salads and salad toppings that are empty calories, specifically the following:  fried chicken atop salads, excessive amounts of cheese, candied nuts, sweetened dried cranberries/fruit, croutons, sour cream, and heavy salad dressings.  Always ask for grilled chicken, light or no cheese, and the dressing on the side!  Unhealthy salads can be a dangerous trap when eating out – – modify them & remember, the more colorful (with fresh veggies and fruit), the better!

Now…..I give you a small compilation of some of my salad masterpieces over the last couple of months.

PicMonkey Collage

   What is YOUR favorite “go to” salad?  
What toppings can you not do without?

8 Great Tips for a Healthy School Lunch

Back to school we go (or have already gone)!!!  What an exciting time it can be for both kids and parents, but the busy schedules can also put a damper on our healthy eating.  After spending 7 years in the schools, I have developed a huge passion for advocating for healthy school lunches for our children.  The lunches the schools are feeding are not healthy, and what I am seeing most of the parents pack for their children are not much better.

We eat to fuel our body…. right?  Well, we should.  Cheetos, fruit snacks, fruit juice, lunchables, cups of fruit in fruit syrup, and veggie chips are not fuel for our bodies.  The lunch we are feeding our children is what is going to get them through the rest of the day: help them concentrate, perform their best, maybe run around at recess, stay awake and sometimes even get them through their after-school activities.

Here are some tips to help you better fuel your munchkin:

1.  Balance & Plan: When packing a school lunch, make it balanced and be sure to include a a fruit, a vegetable and a protein (protein doesn’t have to be meat).  Also, take time Sunday night (or when you do your grocery shopping) to decide what you will pack your munchkin each day, this will allow you to balance the intake of his/her food.  After all, we need to let our munchkins live a little and learn what it means to eat balanced too.

Whats For Lunch

(Check out a free version of this menu planner here)

2. Pack Fresh: Fresh fruits & vegetables are always best!  If your munchkin prefers for their fruits to be cut up, rub a little lemon juice on items that might brown.  Fresh veggies with hummus or balsamic dressing for dipping is a great option.

3. Water or White Milk:  Water or milk is always best.  In our house, the rule is: milk for breakfast, lunch & dinner and water all other times of day (I have a two year old).  The older the children are, the less milk they need each day.  When deciding whether to pack water or milk for lunch, also remember Tip #1 and look at what other dairy products you may have packed.

4.  Allow a small treat:  We are all about teaching our munchkins to eat balanced, so allow them a very small treat.  Treats do not have to be candy or complete junk.  How about making a healthy version of a mini muffin?  Pumpkin, bananas, oatmeal, flax, cinnamon, etc.- all flavorful, healthy options for treats.  You could even freeze half of a banana and dip part of it in dark chocolate.  Or how about just 2 strawberries dipped in dark chocolate or blueberries dipped in yogurt and frozen?  When using dark chocolate remember the rule: 70% of cocoa or greater.

Frozen Bananas via

(photo via YumSugar)

5. Think outside of the sandwich- Often times we think of just sandwiches for school lunches because they can’t be heated up, right?  NO!  Most kiddos don’t mind eating cold food.  Be creative with shredded chicken or turkey- put them in a pinwheel or a wrap.  What about using cucumbers as the top and the bottom and filling the inside with cheese or hummus?  How about a lunch meat roll-up (just make sure you are buying organic, hormone free lunch meat)?  Every kid loves pizza, how about sending some of our grilled pizzas cold?

6. Be creative: Use cookie cutters, fun toothpicks and lots of color when packing your munchkins lunch.  Make it so they have something to look forward to when they open their lunchbox.  How about sticking some fruit or veggies in their water to make it more flavorful?  Or putting food on a kabob?

Fruit Kabob via

(Photo via

7. Experiment at home: School lunch time is not the place to try and give your munchkin a whole new meal.  We want our children to use this lunch as fuel to get through their day and to perform well at school.  Pack items you know they will eat.  Mixing in a new fruit with a fruit salad or combining a new veggie with already liked veggies are fine, but this isn’t the time to try  a bunch of new items at once.

8. Involve your munchkins: Talk to your child about what they’d like to have for lunch and the importance of eating healthy. Ask them what they see in other lunches.  If they talk about unhealthy items, brainstorm ways you could make a healthy version together.  This is a great time to educate your munchkin on healthy eating.

Need some ideas for lunches?  Here are a couple of my favorites:

100 Days of Real Food: The ideas are endless! Head over to her “search box” and you will find multiple school lunch roundups.  

One Fit Widow: The best place to find ideas is her Instagram account.  She often posts pictures of what she packed for lunch for her kids AND she has super-convenient lunch boxes for them.  

How do you ensure your munchkin has a healthy lunch at school?  I’d love to know- leave me a comment!

Friday Favorite(s): Fitness Blogs

Last week Jamie shared her favorite foodie blogs; today I am here to share my favorite fitness blogs.  I have been a longtime blog reader and there are two favorites that I have been reading daily for a couple of years: Peanut Butter Fingers, Healthy Tipping Point, and Carrots’N’Cake.

Julie at PBfingers is a full-time blogger, personal trainer and group fitness instructor.  Although she now holds these titles, she worked full-time and blogged on the side.  Her passion for health and fitness led her to get her certifications down the road.  Julie posts workout ideas, quick-easy meals, and about her daily life.  I love that she is very light-hearted and also shares her life.  work-out_thumb

(Picture via Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers)

When I started reading blogs, I focused mostly on bloggers who run and Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point is a runner.  In addition to running and working out, she shares a lot of recipes as well. She and I became first-time mommies just three months a part so I have enjoyed “following” her on her journey.


(Picture via Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point)

Tina at Carrots’N’ Cake is also a runner and new Mom.  Tina’s fitness passion led her to get her personal training certification as well as her Level 1 Crossfit certification.  Although I am not a “cross fitter”, I do enjoy the occasional crossfit workout and Tina posts crossfit workouts she does at home.



(Photo via Tina at Carrots’N’Cake)

The main thing I love and draws me back to these three bloggers is that they are human: they have days where they enjoy treats and skip workouts. They strive to eat well, workout and raise healthy families, but they also live.

Here are some of my other favorites that I check-in with often on my Bloglovin’ feed:

Blonde Ponytail

Run, Eat, Repeat

Running with Diapers

Head on over and check out this awesome blogs!
What are some of your favorite fitness blogs?

Staying Fit While Pregnant

At 37 weeks pregnant tomorrow, I get a lot of crazy looks walking into the gym or running down the street, but I am okay with that.  I also have people who have brought me to tears when they tell me how much I inspire them, or that they didn’t quit their last set because they looked at me and realized they had no excuses, and even one lady took a picture of me to send to her daughter.

During my first pregnancy I worked out for a long time as well, but it wasn’t as often, the intensity lacked and I really just gave up.  I didn’t give up because I had orders from the doctor: I gave up because I got frustrated with what I physically couldn’t do.  I was too focused on the limitations pregnancy was giving me instead of focusing on what my strong, amazing body could do.

Here my list of things that have helped me stay fit this time around:
1. Talk with your doctor and be honest.  First and foremost, ALWAYS make sure your exercise is okay with your doctor and be completely honest with what you are doing and plan on doing.  My doctor is aware that I still jump on boxes and in the air and lift weights.
2. Stop comparing yourself.   Comparing yourself gets you no where.  Don’t do it: not to your non pregnant friends, not to the last pregnancy and not to other pregnant women.
3. Praise your body for what it can do.  There are so many things we feel like we cannot do because we are pregnant- stop worrying about those.  Instead focus on all the great things your body is doing at this point- growing another human being isn’t easy.
4. Surround yourself with positive people.  Being around people who put your changing body down or criticize your efforts to stay fit while pregnant does not do you any good.  Instead, surround yourself with people who lift you up and support your activity lifestyle and hold you accountable.  I am so blessed to have a core group of “fit friends” who meet me for workouts, and encourage me to keep going.
5. Involve your husband.  My husband knows my goals and on days I’m not feeling it he’ll say let’s go for a bike ride, or just a walk- 9 times out of 10 that will get my blood going and I’ll do more.
6. Just move.  A walk is better than nothing, 10 push-ups are better than none, and increasing your heart rate no matter how is the best thing you can do.
7. Don’t give up- modify.  Can’t do a full 45 Minute high intensity workout?  What about 10 minutes in the morning,
10 minutes in the evening.  Don’t allow your pregnancy be an excuse to quit, instead modify your workouts and the exercises you are doing.
8. Set goals.  Set monthly and weekly goals.  For me, I have a fitness journal that I keep track of my goals for the month and the week.  This is where I also “schedule” my workouts.  Some of my recent goals have included drinking 1 gallon of water a day, getting in Piyo two times a week, and walking for at least 20 minutes a day.
9. Get comfortable. Buy some workout clothes that fit you and make you feel comfortable.  Working out in your too tight pre-pregnancy shorts and shirt that barely covers your belly doesn’t make staying fit while pregnant fun.
10.  Remember your why.  Simple as that.

H fit while pregnant

What advice do you have for pregnant woman trying to stay fit?
What has helped YOU stay fit while pregnant?

Workout of the Week #3

At 36 weeks and 4 days pregnant, and an avid runner, I can’t explain to you how excited I was to lace up my running shoes and pound the pavement for this week’s WOW.   Of course I put my little munchkin in the BOB jogging stroller and she tagged along with me.

photo 4

At about 32 weeks I cut back on my running and have slowed it down to man walk/ run interval sessions.  Tonight was not the “go out and run 3 miles”, but I definitely picked up the running sessions in the WOW and it felt great.  I started my workout with a 1o minute fast-paced walk and then went right into the WOW.

Pound the Pavement Circuit

I completed all 5 rounds and man was I sweaty when I was finished.  It felt great!  I finished up the workout with a 15 minute run/ walk back to my house.  The WOW itself took me a little over 16 minutes.  I had to incorporate small walk sessions after each exercise.  For those of you that are looking for a more intense workout, completing this ten times would be a great workout as well.

photo 1

Do not be turned off by the “sprinting” in this workout.  If you are new to exercise, do what you can and JUST MOVE.  Walking or jogging works too… just increase that heart rate.

How will you fit this WOW into your fitness schedule?
Post your results below.


About the Bloggers: Q & A #3

(Did you miss our Q&A #1 & Q&A #2)

Describe your weekly workout routine.

H:  Right now, my workout routine is a little different than normal since I am 36 weeks pregnant.  Currently, I am just trying to make sure I MOVE each and every day.  I am down to about 4 hard workouts a week: mostly lifting and HIIT.  I do a lot of walk/ runs on the other days.

When I am not pregnant, I am usually also training for some sort of race.  I workout about 5-6 times a week.  My workouts vary between running, heavy lifting sessions, and HIIT classes.  Each week is different for me.  I have a hard time mixing in my heavy lift sessions and it is my goal to make them more of a priority after I have the baby.  I teach Group Exercise classes at our local YMCA anywhere from two to three times a week.



J:  I try to stick to 6 days / week …off on Sunday’s (my “day of rest”).  I’m at our local YMCA Monday through Friday doing various group fitness classes incorporating both cardio and strength (Turbokick, PiYo, Athletic Conditioning & Strength + Endurance).  I’ve also recently fallen in love with Les Mills Body Pump, so I take that class at another location on Saturday mornings.  I teach a group fitness TRX class at a local martial arts studio 1 night / week.


What is your all-time favorite workout?

H:  I really do not have one favorite workout.  I LOVE running and training for races- working towards a new PR and the competition within myself makes me love it.  I also love a group exercise class that combines HIIT with free weight intervals- it is my favorite type of class to teach too.


J:  That is a REALLY tough question because I really enjoy SO MANY types of workouts.  Group fitness is where it’s at for me, so anytime I’m with my friends sweating – I’m happy!  A few faves are:  Turbokick, PiYo and Les Mills Body Pump.

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What motivates you to keep up this lifestyle?

H: Exercise is my anti-depressant… REALLY!  Coming from a family history of mental illness, it truly helps me  physically AND emotionally.  I feel much better about myself and the things around me when I take an hour a day to move and fuel my with clean, whole food.  My family and friends really help me keep up this lifestyle- it really helps to live a healthy lifestyle when you surround yourself with like-minded people.  I am so blessed that I have a husband who also makes exercise a priority and likes to stay active even while on vacation.  Claire (and this baby on the way) is the number one reason I strive to live the healthiest life I can.  I not only want to set a good example for them, but I want to be able to chase them on the playground, run alongside them at their first 5k, and go for bike rides with them on vacation.


J:  I’m SUCH a happier wife, mommy, sister, daughter & friend when I’m working out regularly and fueling my body efficiently.  My husband knows IMMEDIATELY if I missed a workout or haven’t had a chance to workout because I’m GROUCHY!  Also, being healthy for my family is the true “reason” I keep up with this lifestyle.  I want to set a good example for my kids & hang around for as long as possible!

photo 2

Tell us about your healthy eating philosophy.

H: I believe sticking to a lifestyle that is sustainable for your family, shopping the perimeter, and sticking to whole non-processed foods…. 80% of the time.  There are so many “diets” out there to follow or try, but I believe you have to adopt a healthy lifestyle.  You have to choose something that is sustainable and works for you. I try my best to prepare mostly clean meals, many which fall under the Paleo guidelines.  I would never I am on the “Paleo” diet, but I do use a lot of Paleo meals because they are clean, non processed foods.  For myself, I try my best to limit dairy because I don’t like how it makes me feel.  With all that being said, remember it is all about balance and I do enjoy my fair share of wine, sweets, and popcorn… but I shoot for only 20% of the time.


J:  I try to stick to a clean diet as much as possible – I avoid dairy, as I have a diagnosed sensitivity to lactose, gluten (as much as possible as it just really affects my stomach), and too much sugar.  I’m a salad LOVER and could eat one for lunch and dinner daily!  They can be so versatile!  I also kick off each and every day with Shakeology – – it’s truly my “Mommy Fuel” & I rely on it for my “daily dose of dense nutrition.”  I like to say I’m 90/10 during the week & 80/20 on the weekends – I CERTAINLY believe in living a little!  All that said, I’m a foodie blog LOVER and find tons of inspiration for NEW and healthy recipes via so many great blogs!


Tell us about YOU!
What is your favorite workout?
What motivates you?
How do you eat?

Quick & Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

PicMonkey Collage-tortilla soup

One day last week I was in a bind… only option, upon looking in my fridge, for dinner was a breakfast at dinner & while my hubby and kids LOVE that option, I just wasn’t in the mood for my house to smell like bacon all night (shhhh….don’t tell them I nixed this!)  I realized that I had some reduced sodium chicken stock…..a can of tomatoes with green chilis and LOTS of taco-ish fixings – – a perfect start to my quick Chicken Tortilla Soup!!  I only need a few inexpensive (and quick) items at the store & I knew I could whip up a pot of this yummy soup in no time!  This is SUCH a great way for me to get veggies into my kiddos since I usually add whatever veggies I can – – red/green peppers, tomatoes, carrots, sometimes even celery!  Here’s my recipe from last night:

1 rotisserie chicken (skin removed & shredded)

1/2 onion, diced

4 carrots peeled & sliced

1/2 each red & green peppers, diced

1 can tomatoes with green chilis

1 can corn, drained (you can obviously use fresh corn – – we just didn’t have any!)

1 carton reduced sodium (organic if possible) chicken broth

cumin, garlic, chili powder, pepper

1 lime

Blue corn chips, jalapeno peppers, cojita cheese, sour cream – – for toppings

(I also made brown rice on the side for my kiddos’ bowls – – they like their soup thick & it helps create less of a mess the less broth they are spooning into their mouths!)

1.  Saute the veggies with 1-2 cloves of garlic & a splash of olive oil until they start to soften.

2.  Add cumin, chili powder, pepper to taste & squeeze 1/2 of lime over veggies.

3.  Add the can of tomatoes, corn &, chicken & chicken broth and bring to a boil.

4.  Let soup simmer for 30-45 minutes.

5.  Top with your fave fixin’s & enjoy!

What is a quick go-to recipe in your house?

Friday Favorite(s): Foodie Blogs

I know that cooking may not be for EVERYONE, but often I get asked things like “How did you come up with that recipe?” and “How did you decide to make that?”, soooooo I’ll share a secret – – I get my inspiration from some favorite and my “go to” foodie blogs!  I can’t take credit for EVERY recipe I make, although I will give the disclaimer that while I DO follow these blogs, I also pretty much NEVER follow the recipes, but rather come up with my own twist on what they’ve used ingredient-wise.  For instance, I try to avoid gluten & dairy as much as possible when I cook, so that means we do ALOT of bun-less burgers and the cheese is always optional in my recreated recipes.  That all said…..are you ready for my list of foodie inspiration?  For starters….here are my 4 favorites:  Skinnytaste, Iowa Girl Eats, Lauren’s Latest and How Sweet It Is

PicMonkey Collage

Some others I check in with are:

A Pinch of Yum

Annie’s Eats

Smitten Kitchen

Since I’m always looking for new favorites  – – I’m curious, what foodie blogs do YOU love?