Sometimes the Music Makes all the Difference

Tonight’s post is a slight departure from my traditional post.  I’ve been wanting for a while now to start doing a few fitness related posts.  I must admit that I enjoy cooking and recipe development more than I enjoy working out, but as a nutrition professional, I know that living a healthy lifestyle requires both healthy eating and regular physical activity.  I encourage all clients I see to engage in regular physical activity, and what kind of professional would I be if I didn’t practice what I preach?  A lousy one.  So this post is the first of more to come.  The blog will of course still be focused on healthy eating, but I am going to try to include more tips, tricks, and info about working out.

So as mentioned, I am not a “gym junkie.”  I don’t like to spend hours at the gym.  It’s just not my style.  (Unless of course those hours were spent Zumba-ing.  I must confess that I do LOVE Zumba).  Not that gyms aren’t great.  I just don’t have a ton of money right now, so I’m not going to pay for something that I can do for free.  That being said, I do think gyms are a great option for a lot of people, especially if you know you’re someone that lacks the motivation to workout on your own, then the gym might be a great option for you, especially the group fitness classes.  For me right now though, it’s mostly outdoor running/walking with my dog Luna, and the occasional DVD or online workout.  Today’s workout was a run–an unusually good run, and here’s why: music.

Luna, (healthy)Vittles&Bits

Luna after a hot and humid run 🙂

I will tell you now that although I run, I don’t really consider myself a serious runner.  Serious runners (in my mind) run at least 5-6 miles a day.  I am a casual runner, which (to me) means that I run 1.5-3 miles probably at least 4 days a week.  Some days it is really hard to motivate myself to go out in the hot, humid summer air and run hills (my neighborhood is made of nothing but hills), but being the pretty Type A person that I am, I know it’s good for me and that I will feel better after I do it, so I push myself (and my dog) out the door.  Today I took my iPhone along and put on my “Dance Dance” playlist–yes, that is seriously the name of my playlist.  I had such a great time listening to that playlist and running, that when Luna started seriously dragging after twenty minutes, I ran her home and then did another 10 minutes on my own, at that point really enjoying some Lady Gaga.

Now, as someone who started college as a music performance major (I play the oboe–yup, I’m that nerdy), I have a wide range in my taste in music, ranging from the seriously old-school (as in 15th century) Guillaume Dufay, to the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald, to Florence and the Machine–so my iTunes covers a pretty wide range of musical styles, but when it comes to calorie torching tunes, I reach for the fast paced, upbeat songs that just make you want to dance.  Some of my all time favorite work-out tunes include “Ain’t Nothing Wrong With That” by Robert Randolf and the Family Band, “Loca,” “Rabiosa,” and “Waka Waka” (all by Shakira), “Pump It” by the Black Eyed Peas, “Country Girl (Shake it for Me)” by Luke Bryan, and “Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO.  All these songs have a great, really fast beat that will push you to run faster (at least they push me to run faster).

Not only did I feel awesome during this run, but I also felt pretty awesome afterwards.  As a nutrition expert, I can tell you that exercising is a great way to burn calories and lose weight.  It’s a good way to help lower your triglycerides.  It’s a great way to speed up your metabolism.  Not only will you burn calories during the exercise itself, but you will continue to burn more calories throughout the rest of the day than you would have if you hadn’t exercised.  I can tell you lots of beneficial reasons to exercise.  But what I really want you to think about, is how exercising makes you feel.  Sure, sometimes it sucks to run in 95 degree weather, or to go to the gym after a 12 hour work day.  Sometimes exercising is just the last thing you feel like doing.  But how do you feel afterward?   I know that after exercising, I feel great.  Not just because I know that I did something that was good for me physically, but it was also good for me mentally.  Exercising improves my mood and even helps me sleep better at night.  What I really try to sell people on, is how great exercising makes them feel.  Because I have learned that you can throw all the data in the world at people, and sometimes it’s just not enough to get them off the couch.  People have to want to change.  They have to find what works for them.  They have to find a form of exercise that they like (or at least tolerate because of how it makes them feel afterwards).  Because although changing your diet is great, there’s still that second half of the equation.  It’s all about making lifestyle changes, not just dietary changes.

I hope some of you found this somewhat motivating.  I shared my (somewhat embarrassing) favorite workout tunes with you.  What are your favorite workout songs?

What is your favorite way to work out?

What’s one small healthy change you can make this week?

I would love to hear answers to any/all of these questions in the comments section.  Or of course I am always happy to hear comments with your reaction to the post.  So leave some comment love and I will definitely respond to each and every one.

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Avocado Chicken Salad

Yes, it’s another avocado recipe.  I seriously just cannot get enough avocado these days.  (If you’re on that same wavelength with me, be sure to check out my recent posts on Healthy Avocado Chocolate Chip Cookies and Quinoa Burgers with Creamy Avocado Sauce.)

I saw a post on pinterest featuring Paula Deen’s avocado chicken salad, but let’s face it–it was not very healthy (surprise, surprise…).  So I decided to try to do something similar yet with real nutritional value.  Here’s what I came up with:

Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad

Delicious, nutritious, fresh.

This was really ridiculously easy to make.  The only slightly time consuming part is boiling and dicing up the chicken.  If you’re not familiar with that, you can read/watch more about it here: How to Boil Chicken Breasts.

Here’s how you make the recipe:

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked, diced chicken
1 large avocado, diced
1/4 cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup low fat cottage cheese
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp of minced, fresh Basil
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

1.   Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2.  Enjoy as a spread on crackers, pita pockets, between two slices of whole grain bread, on top of a bed of lettuce–or heck just eat it plain!

Now, let’s take a minute and breakdown that ingredients list – 

Chicken: great source of lean protein (for the lowest fat option, use white meat such as breast meat)
Avocado: great source of monounsaturated (aka heart healthy) fat.  Avocados are good for your skin, for your eyes, even for your bowels (there’s between 11-17 grams of fiber in just one avocado!)
Plain, Non-Fat Greek Yogurt:  Greek yogurt is a great source of protein, and can even have beneficial bacteria that helps your digestive system (look for the LAC seal on the yogurt container, which stands for live and active cultures.)
Low Fat Cottage Cheese:  Cottage cheese is basically just a protein bomb – especially the low or non fat kind – it’s basically just protein.

So there you have it.  The main players in this recipe are packed with protein, healthy fat, and even some fiber.  That’s why, when combined with a complex carb such as whole wheat bread, this avocado chicken salad makes for a very healthy, complete meal.

Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad

I would love to hear your thoughts about this recipe, so leave me a comment!

Also, tell me the truth– Are you guys sick of avocado yet?  Cause I’m not.  But if you’re tired of avocado recipes I can mix it up.  Just leave me a comment letting me know if you want move avocado or less avocado.

Also, have a fantastic weekend!!!

 

Baked Beans

Baked beans are something I rarely eat, and that’s a bit unfortunate because they are delicious.  I rarely ever eat them because I’ve never made them before, so I only ever ate them when someone else brought them to a potluck or something.  Then I saw this recipe on Oh She Glows for vegan baked beans, and I knew it was going to be amazing. Don’t you just love it when you’re right?  I do.

Delectable.

Delectable.

As mentioned, this recipe is adapted from an Oh She Glows post.

Ingredients:

1 (15oz) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15oz) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15oz) can great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium onion
1/4 cup molasses
3 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp mustard
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 (15oz) can petite diced tomatoes
1 tsp salt

*really, you can use three cans of whatever beans you want – this was just what I had on hand.

Instructions:

1. Dice the onion, and add it and all the beans to a large pan/pot on the stove.  Add the molasses, syrup, mustard, vinegar, salt, and tomatoes into the pan. Stir well over medium heat till all ingredients are incorporated.
2. Let simmer on the stove over low heat for at least an hour. Uncovered if you want it to be thicker and less liquidy, or covered if you prefer your baked beans more liquid-like.  After they have reached a consistency you like, eat them!

Ahhh, perfection.

Ahhh, perfection.

I did a rough calorie count on these beans and figured them to be about 215 calories, 44 carbs, 1 gram fat, and 11 grams of protein per (heaping) cup.  Can’t beat that!

And in case you weren’t totally sold on the baked beans, consider this, they come endorsed by some of the cutest canine faces around:

Big Toby says, "These beans are the best!"

Big Toby says, “These beans are the best!”

Little Nelson flips for baked beans :-)

Little Nelson flips for baked beans 🙂

 

As an afterthought, one of the greatest things about these baked beans, is that they don’t have bacon in them.  I get really irritated at our country’s need to put bacon on EVERYTHING.  I mean seriously, a bacon donut? A bacon cake? Bacon flavored ice cream?  This just doesn’t even sound remotely appetizing.  Maybe I’m just prejudiced because I don’t eat pig products, but it does really annoy me.  I’m not saying bacon isn’t delicious, I’m just saying that we really don’t need to look for ways to eat more of it. I’m pretty sure most of us have enough fat in our diets – we don’t need to go looking for excuses to add more.  Am I alone in this? Or is anyone else also super annoyed about the bacon obsession?