Jan 31, 2014

Why I'm Happy I Had My Kids Before the Invention of the iPad


Warning.  This post is very gushy. 
And not at all fitness related. 
But that's ok.  
This is a place my sisters and I can chat about everything going on in our lives. 

Some quick info for you today…..I'm an overly sentimental person.
Overly sensitive, overly emotional and overly sentimental.  
These are words to describe me.
Not always the best combination, but it's me. 

So today I wanted to share a few of my mommy tips that I've learned over the years to be very important.  Hopefully I can, in some way, encourage and inspire you to stop and smell the roses when life gets too hectic and busy.  

More background info: my whole life I only dreamt of one thing…… to be a mom. 
Never did I dream about a career…… or house…… or car.  
Only about one day having children.  

Recently I have been reflecting on old photos as I have been uploading them onto my computer, along with home videos, so that I can create fun photo books for each of my girls.  Something I have never done.  

This has me feeling very nostalgic and overly emotional and it got me thinking about a few things that I would tell new moms, like my sister Maggie, who is due this March with her son.  

Here we go……

#1.  Buy a nice camera! 

I don't care if you have to sell a body part or organ to raise the money to do so…. it's worth it.  Save up and get a REAL camera to capture your children when they are little.  I didn't get a REAL camera until my girls were all older and I so wish I would have had the chance to take more photos of the girls when they were smaller.  




See what a REAL camera can capture? It's worth every penny.  Do it. 







Although these are really out of focus,  the action shots are so worth having a nice, quick shooting camera!



Real cameras rule! 
The end


#2. Write everything down! 

I mean it.  I know you THINK you will remember when your  kids says "These undies really keeps my hair out of my face mom!" But you won't.  Believe me.  
Write it down. 




When my girls were little I bought these journals and started from the beginning.  I wrote about my pregnancy and our life at the time they were in my belly.  Then I summarized each month of their life when they were babies….. when they rolled over, when they walked and what their first words were.  As they grow older, I journal in more depth about the things we did and talked about.  






Whenever my girls do or say things I want to remember, I run over to our family planner and calendar that sits in our kitchen.  I write it down in whatever month it took place so that I can transfer it to their journals.  It ranges from things like "Gracie sat in my bedroom in her ducky boots and tutu reading for 45 minutes" to Sophie came up to me and kissed me on both cheeks and said, two kisses for you because you are the best Mommy that God ever made."

This is the good stuff.  
The stuff you want to remember when you are 85 sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch. 
I guarantee you won't be reminiscing about your cool new shoes you just got.  
You will be remembering the good stuff….. the stuff that matters. 



#3 Make stuff for your kids. 

I don't care if you've never made a thing in your life. 
Google it and LEARN. 
Take the time to create something for your children.  
Something for them to remember and keep forever. 







Something they know you created just for them.
Blankets, headbands, skirts, dresses, pillow cases……
Do it. 



I taught myself to sew after Gracie was born.  
It's one of the things I'm most proud of.  





To look back and see all the fun things I created just for them makes me smile and the girls are so proud of the stuff that their Mommy made for them. 



#4.  Remain Old-Fashioned in an iPad World 

This is a hard one for me to articulate to parents.  
I can see and feel this with people in my life….. but it's hard to put into words.
By I will try. 

I'm so happy that I had my girls before the iPad.  Sounds silly, huh? 
But it's true.  
I'm thankful I didn't have the option to put a movie on for them or let them play games while at restaurants or events. 

Don't get me wrong, I think iPads are pretty awesome.  And we have one and love it.
However, I'm still glad that I didn't have this option when my girls were young.  
I was forced to be old-school in many ways with my parenting. 

I really had to teach them how to behave in certain situations.  
I am not sure if many parents are forced to do this as much as they should these days.   

I guess, what I'm trying to say with this one, is that you don't have to succumb to all of society's rules. 
Just because all of the other parents are sticking iPads in front of their kids at restaurants or family gatherings, YOU don't have to.  You can talk to your children.  You can make your own rules.  

In my heart and soul,  I know why my girls are the way they are in this world. 
They way they treat people with respect, act kindly in school, help me when asked without talking back, offer to do nice things for others………

It's because I made being a mommy my job in life.  

I did not and will not let society tell me how to raise my family.  
I did choose and will continue to choose the best way to raise happy and healthy kids. 

And, my main advice regarding this whole random topic, is to be present.  
Spend time with each other.  
Don't allow the busy, hectic, society we live in CONTROL what you do in your home. 

Just because all your children's friends have phones or iPads or iPod touches or iPad minis….and sit there texting away their life…..you do what YOU feel is best for your children.  And my advice is that YOU are what your children need.  Not things.  

Take the time to create memories with each other. 
Laugh. 
Talk. 
Love. 


Yesterday I created my very first iMovie.
It was disturbingly tricky.  
But I made one. 
It's not good…. at all.  
But I'd like to share it with you all.  







I hope it allows you to reflect today on your life and be reminded of the LEGACY you are creating every single day of your life.  

Making choices daily is the name of the game.
And the sad thing is, there are no do-overs. 

Put your best foot forward. 
Live and learn. 
And take your job as a parent seriously. 
Because your choices are creating the little souls that look to you every day for love and inspiration. 

You got this.
And remember…. Nice Camera, Write it Down, Make Stuff and Be Present!


*PS Our good friend Holly is giving away a $100 Target gift card to the followers of her sponsors.  Since we are sponsoring this month this means you can go and enter!   Head on over there today and enter to win :)  CLICK HERE to check it out and enter.  We love us some Holly! And we love when OUR fans and friends win stuff….. go! 

XOXO 
Marta

Jan 28, 2014

Bison Bacon Paleo Chili



Our mom makes some of THE BEST chili I’ve ever had.  It has the perfect amount of sweet and spice that makes me drool just thinking about it.  When she makes a big pot, I always steal some for the next few days to take to lunch.
Since she’s a chili master, I’ve always been skeptical of making my own or trying a Paleo version (since strict Paleo does not include beans).  How could I ever live up to Onda's chili status?!
Well, we did BOTH the other night and it was AMAZE BALLS (yeah I said amaze balls).  Austin and I had been craving chili for weeks and finally gave in.
It was too delicious not to share.  Not to mention, it won’t spike your blood sugar and has great nutrition from all the veggies.

Here is the list of ingredients:
6 oz of uncured bacon
1 lb of grass fed bison
½  onion diced
2 large carrots
1 bell pepper
1jalapeno finely diced
2 T chili powder
½ T cumin
½ T paprika
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
sea salt and pepper to taste
15 oz can of tomato sauce (no sugar added)
15 oz can of diced tomatoes
½ cup GF chicken broth

Directions:
1.     Heat pot to medium high and add chopped bacon.  Stir occasionally until crispy.  Remove with slotted spoon onto paper towels.
2.     Add chopped onion, carrots, bell pepper, and jalapeno to bacon fat.  Cook for 7 minutes.
3.     Add bison to veggies and break apart.  Cook for 10 minutes.
4.     Add spices and garlic and mix well.
5.     Add broth, tomatoes, and sauce and stir.
6.     Bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
7.     Stir in bacon OR save some for toppings.
*We added avocado to top it off!


YUM!  Please try this!  Let me know what you think :)




Jan 27, 2014

Do you want to raise healthy kids??

What comes to mind when you think about your kid's fitness?

Are you prepared to teach them the basics of their skills?

Of course you are, with our help!

I have made this video today to talk about something that I'm extremely passionate about.  I want to help you raise healthy kids.  As  P.E. teacher I see it every day.  I see the children that have never picked up a ball.  I see the kids that can't even move your own body weight.  I see the kids that can't complete ONE lap around a track.  This needs to be fixed.

So to help parents out there I put together my top five things to do with little kids to help prepare them for middle school.

I hope you enjoy today's video!!




Jan 24, 2014

How we have been "tricked" into being overweight, and why it's not our fault...



Hey everyone.  Today I want to talk about a topic that hits super close to home.  Probably one of the main reasons that we, as Americans, are overweight is because we have truly been tricked.  Tricked in so many ways.  From the advertising we see every day, to what doctors and science have told us for years, it's hard to follow what is the truth.  I want to take a minute to explain why it's so hard.

#1. Advertising.  Advertising has made it almost impossible for us to truly recognize what is healthy and what is just a scam.  Doing the research is hard, but once you cut through the bright colors and faux healthy marketing techniques you can get a better understanding of what you should be putting in your body.
Look at all those bright and magical colors.  That doesn't mean that the product is doing us any favors on the inside. Not to mention the trickery our poor children have to go through.  They have no idea what healthy foods are these days. 


Let's look at this box of Trix cereal.  The first thing you see at the top is it's wonderful claim that it's made with "whole grain."
Do you, as the consumer, even know what that means??
Most people don't.  All it truly means is that the entire part of the grain was used when it was made.  That's it.  Now, eating the WHOLE grain rather than part of the grain is healthier.  That doesn't make it HEALTHY.

On the Dr. Oz Show, author of Wheat Belly, Dr. William Davis, compares eating whole grains to cigarettes.  That's right, cigarettes.  Just because doctors tell you something is healthier for you, that doesn't make it HEALTHY.   He compares it to smoking filtered cigarettes to non-filtered cigarettes.  The "healthier" or "better for you" version is still not healthy.  A diet that is totally high in starch, breads, and other "whole grains" is still a diet high in grains...which makes us fat. This leads me to my second point!!!


#2.  Low Fat vs. Healthy Fats.  In the early 80's obesity blew up in the US tremendously.  Why?? People started instilling a fear of FATS into our brains.  People were told that fat and cholesterol were making them fat, and killing them.  Everything was supposed to be LOW fat.  And what did we replace them with???? "Healthy" whole grains.  Yep, this is when the explosion hit.  Processed foods took over real cooked meals, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Just take a look at this food pyramid on the left that we are all SO familiar with.  This is the food pyramid that was taught to me throughout school and that I learned to trust and follow.

Look at the bottom and see what it suggests that we eat the most of.  Carbs, carbs, and more carbs.  Are you kidding me??

It's no wonder my generation can't walk up a flight of stairs because they are so overweight.  It's no wonder my generation's diet consists of processed foods, breads and more.  We have been taught that it is the healthy way.

Now...I would like you to glance at the NEWER and improved food pyramid.

I found this food pyramid when reading an amazing article HERE.  It is mind blowing and eye opening to see how many things we are doing wrong.

The main part of our diet should consist of meats and proteins.  I am not an expert on being a vegetarian, so you may have to do some research for yourself on that!!! Vegetables and fats are next, and then fruits, dairy and the "fun" stuff in moderation.  This is the pyramid I live by these days, and have never felt better.

Eating this way has been proven to improve overall health.  Now, I get the argument all of the time that "grains have been around forever."  This leads me to my next point.

#3.  It's not the same.  It just isn't.  Grains, wheat especially, and other foods like soybeans, and even corn are not the same product that our ancestors consumed.  These have been genetically modified to thrive in current society.  This is amazing for those selling it and for a society that, now, never has to worry about hunger.  Americans will never go hungry.  But, we will become obese and die young.



Our ancestors, even our grandparents didn't eat like we do.  Their parents cooked REAL meals from scratch, in LARD.  They couldn't just throw together ingredients from a shelf that NEVER go bad.  We, unfortunately, eat those items more often than real food.  That is why the above food pyramid works.  It's the foods that our body most easily uses and gets rid of.  What we are eating should not thrive in our pantry for YEARS.  Call it Paleo, or primal.  Call it gluten free, or whatever.  If you stick to shopping on the OUTSIDE of the grocery store, seldom entering the inside where there is packaged goods, you will find success.



#4.  I have preached it enough, but I will say it again...do something besides cardio.  Again, our ancestors weren't as overweight because they worked, and moved their bodies around.  They had to hunt and fight for food.  They did not sit on their butts.  Too many people stalk cardio, the treadmill, or just go on a walk.  All of those are not bad.  None of them are bad.  Just mix in other things.  Grab a set of hand weights or a kettle bell and make a workout up for yourself.  Creating muscle helps your body burn fat when you are just sitting around.

I hope this helps you have a better understanding as to why we are having such a hard time losing weight.  It comes down to food and movement.  However, the emphasis is WAY more on food these days.  Doctors and "science" has told us to keep things low fat and carb heavy.  That has not worked out well for anyone.  Do some research.  Find what works best for you.  Please let me know if you have questions.

With the new 21 Day Fix workout program coming out we will be talking a lot about nutrition and helping you make great changes.  We have some SERIOUS specials coming up for the new programs in February.  Stay tuned for some surprises and exciting news!!!  If you are ready for a challenge group contact one of the FourFitSisters today!!!


Jan 23, 2014

How I Met Your Brother {in law}

I threw out a poll the other day requesting ideas on what to blog about.  One that surprised me was interest in where we met our hubbies. :)  I thought this was a perfect idea for Throwback Thursday, and decided to share the story of how I ended up Mrs. Smith. 


For those of you who have followed for a while, you know that we sisters have been known to throw the softball around a little bit.  We all played in college and the three oldest (Marta, Adie (me) and Haley) all played together while attending SIUC.  Go Dawgs!!!  It is only fitting that each and every one of us met our hubbies while in college playing the sport that we LOVE and I know that I am secretly obsessed with getting the chance to return to Carbondale where Haley still lives.  When we do visit, all the memories of where and when we met, and how much fun we had come flooding back.  We can't drive to Haley's house without passing the house we lived in "back in the day" and where Meade and I started our relationship. 


You always hear about the people that meet their future husbands or wives in college.  It happens to a lot of people.  It happened with Marta while I was there, but when I left for college I already had someone in mind that I thought for sure I'd end up with forever.  Not only did that relationship end, I had one other serious boyfriend in college that ended right as I started my senior year.  Gasp!!!  I am not going to lie, there was a serious amount of panic that crept its way into my gut as I envisioned heading home from school with my degree and NOT with marital plans.  Silly, but true. 

Truth is, my senior year was one of my best years.  I truly enjoyed being single and spending time with my roomies.  I only went on TWO dates that year when I think back to it {insert tumbleweed drifting across the desert}. I went from the girl who always had a boyfriend, to enjoying life on my own.  It was this year that I started doing observations of classrooms for teaching practice and literally writing lesson plans for a living.  I focused on softball and friendships and wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.



This is also the year that I "met" my future hubby.  I say met, but really we never spoke to each other.  EVER.  He worked in the weight room as a graduate assistant, and occasionally I saw him in there whenever I would go and lift - usually about three times a week.  I didn't know what his name was, or anything about him.  I just knew he was very good looking and quiet.  I didn't think he knew who I was either.  I can only remember two things about him from that entire year.  1.  I remember talking to him once in the weight room after I had died my hair dark.  I was talking to him and Haley about it in the weight room.  2.  I remember a volleyball player SCREAMING from the bathrooms at Pinch Penny Pub how hot he was and I figured they were together in some way.  Those are my only two memories of him. 

Subconsciously, something else had to have been going on, though.  I found myself "accidentally" having to walk through the weight room for random reasons.  There was a direct route to turn in our uniforms to be washed in the equipment room right outside the weight room, and I would purposely go visit my coach upstairs and sneak through to turn them in - which was strictly forbidden.  Of course it would always be on days when I was dressed up from observing in the classroom all day, not in my hot sweaty workout gear.  It is so funny when I think about it now because I genuinely can't put my finger on when I decided that this beautiful man in the weight room was even an option for me, but somehow it all worked out.

Fast forward to the ending of my senior year of softball.  We finished up our season and were getting ready to head home for the summer.  I still had more classes and observations scheduled for the Fall, followed by my student teaching in the Spring.  Haley was ditching me and staying in Carbondale for the summer to work at the Pub with her future hubby, and I was headed back to STL to nanny and enjoy my first softball-free summer since I could remember.  I left not knowing if I'd ever see my Mystery Man again.

Said Mystery Man's name was Meade and he happened upon the Pub one night and bumped in to my twin sis Haley.  So thankful that she was working at the bar that summer (everything happens for a reason, right).  His first question to her was, "Is your sister in Carbondale for the summer too?".  What????  I didn't even know he knew who I was...this man is asking about me?  Haley of course called me immediately afterwards to give me the run down.  In our own twin lingo, and flapping hands, and screaming conversation, she told me every word, and I made her retell it and asked 150 questions about a two sentence conversation.  End of story was this: he said, "I was really hoping she'd be here this summer.  I wanted to ask her out.".  More flapping.

With some nudging from my softball friends (since he was super shy) and passing of phone numbers to him, he finally called me one night.  I was sitting at a softball field watching my little sister, Maggie, play summer ball.  I was with my BFF Kristy.  A weird number popped up on my 2003 flip phone and I thought it was my old boyfriend and I almost didn't answer it.  So glad I did.  It was him and I couldn't believe it.  I had a little heads-up from my friends saying he was "supposed" to call me sometime, but I was still in shock that it was for real.   I can't tell you one thing we talked about.  I just know I was talking really fast and as we ended the conversation, we had set up our first date: dinner followed by a trip to watch the Cardinals play.  We were a match made in Heaven.  He was a pitcher, I was a catcher, we were going on a date to watch some ball.  I am so thankful Kristy was there so I could replay the call and jump and squeal and be super annoying, but so excited. 

He drove two hours to come get me and we had the best first date.  Ever.  It rained on us a bit, and I don't even remember if the Cards won or lost.  I remember staring at him a lot though and wondering if I was actually dreaming the whole thing up.  When he dropped me off at my parent's house, I could not wait to sprint inside and tell Maggie all about it.  I woke her up and said, "I love him".  And I was dead serious. 

We spent weeks talking on the phone before we went to the game, getting to know each other and we'd spend the following weeks before I had to go back to school talking even more.  Most people dread heading back to school in the Fall, but I couldn't get there fast enough.  My fifth year of school ended up being the best one yet.  He and I got to spend a whole year together in one of my favorite places, having way too much fun, and creating great memories that we get to revisit with each trip back to Carbondale.  I love driving by the house I lived in that fifth year.  I always give him a little squeeze of the hand when we drive by.  That is where it all began.



The rest, of course, is history.  We dated that year, moved to St. Louis in May after we both graduated - him with his Masters and me with my Bachelors, and we were engaged in November soon after.  I think so many times how thankful I am to have met him, how different everything would be without him in my life.  I still catch myself staring at him wondering if it is really happening....and we lived happily ever after.




Jan 21, 2014

Maggie's Top 5 Go-To Gluten-Free and Paleo Meals


My hubby and I do our best to plan out our dinners for the entire week.  It helps us stay on track and is a huge time saver when he gets home...no questions on "what's for dinner?"
We find ourselves going back to some meals very OFTEN!  I wanted to share our top 5 go-to meals!  They are easy and, most importantly, delicious!
 
I've picked 2 breakfast options and 3 dinner options.  Lunch is always set for us because we usually prepare extra dinner for the next day's lunch.  Here we go:

Breakfast:

  1. 2 eggs, 2 strips of nitrate/nitrite free bacon, and 1/2 an avocado.

Yep, it's that simple.  I would say we eat this almost every day of the week.  Maybe mixing it up with some sweet potatoes or sausage instead of bacon, but we never get tired of our pasture raised runny eggs with avocado.  I love how full it makes me and how long it lasts me throughout the day!


     2.  Raspberry-lemon Paleo pancakes.  With a side of bacon!


These are a more recent find for us.  I came across it on paleOMG.com and just HAD to make them.  I talk a little about Paleo HERE, but for those of you who aren't sure, Paleo is a diet based on our primal needs that is free of grains, dairy, and legumes.  Austin and I follow this lifestyle and love the way our bodies feel.  We occasionally might have some brown rice or some grass fed cheese, but we keep it limited.  
 
Here is the post of these DELICIOUS pancakes.  You have to try them.  They are filled with protein and help with those morning sweet cravings that we have on occasion.


Dinner:

     3.  Stir-fry.

We make this almost every week.  It's so easy:  mixed veggies (frozen or fresh), choice of protein (beef, chicken, shrimp...), served over brown rice.  Or you could do a "cauliflower rice" to keep it paleo.  Prepare your rice.  Fry the veggies and protein up in a Wok with a little coconut oil.  Done.
 
Soy sauce is NOT gluten free, so we use Bragg's Liquid Aminos.  It comes in a spray bottle.   It's the perfect amount of saltiness on our taste buds!
 
Sometimes we will add some gluten free teriyaki sauce to the veggie and meat mix as well.


     4.  Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce.


This is another that we make almost every week.  It's too easy NOT to make it every week.
 
1 large spaghetti squash, tomato/pasta sauce (no sugar added), and grass fed beef.

Cook the halved squash face down in the oven around 400* until the outside shell becomes flexible.  Brown your meat and add the sauce.  Easy as that.


    5.  Butternut Squash Enchilada Hash.
Looks a little weird...but it is GOOD!


I found this recipe on Pinterest that had black beans, tortilla strips, and cheese in it and it inspired us to modify it a bit to become more "paleo."  

Here it is:
1 large butternut squash, 1 onion, minced garlic, 2 chicken breasts, chopped jalapeno, and GF enchilada sauce.
 
Bake chicken breast.  Chop squash, onion, garlic, and jalapeno and saute in olive oil or coconut oil until the squash becomes tender (the more you cook it, the creamier it gets).

Add chicken breast and enchilada sauce and let flavors mix and simmer for about 10 minutes.  EAT!

I hope you enjoy these easy meals as much as my husband and I do.  These are all staples in our diet.  If you try one, let me know what you think!  I'd love to hear about it!
 






Jan 20, 2014

5 Ways to Get Back on Track with Your Health and Fitness



We've all been there.

Pacing back and forth next to the birthday party dessert table.
You promised yourself to be "good" at this party.
But you give in and scarf a huge piece of chocolate cake.

This normally would have been perfectly fine until you became so overwhelmed with guilt that it propelled you to devour two more cookies, a handful of candy and another piece of cake.

You figured that since you were "bad" and ruined your day of healthy eating with the first piece of cake, you might as well throw in the towel and just overindulge to the max.

Does this sound familiar?
It sure does to me.  I've been there too many times to count.

But guess what, you don't have to throw in the towel every time you decide you want to have a piece of cake.  This doesn't have to send you into a binge of shoveling everything in your face that you can get your hands on!

Today I want to give you my personal top five ways to GET BACK on track with your health and fitness after you've thrown in the towel.  How to come back from that negative head space of "I might as well just give up."

I have learned a lot about human nature over that past year (in April) as I've worked with clients as a fitness consultant.  Mainly that we are all creatures of habit.  We create patterns and routines that we tend to stick to.  It gives us comfort, the knowing what to expect next.

What I work with my clients on is changing these said patterns and routines.
Create new ones.... ones you CAN and WILL stick with if you give it time.

Today I'm going to give you my personal top five tips to get BACK on track with your health and fitness when you've gotten off track and thrown in the towel.



1.  Invest in your Health:
What I have learned this past year is that when people financially invest in their health (new fitness program, gym membership, healthy foods etc) then they are more likely to stick to it.  They are investing in their health and in turn want to be successful and make the necessary changes in their lives.  The investment helps motivate them to put in the work.







2.  Try Something New: 
Mix things up! Start a new fitness program that is FUN for you will get you back in the swing of things.  Continuing with the same old treadmill routine may not be a great way to catapult you back on your health and fitness journey.  After I had my youngest daughter, Gracie, I was struggling with a broken tailbone and was the biggest I have ever been.  I found my soul-mate workout, Turbo Fire, which totally got me back on track with my fitness.  I got FIT fast because the program was so fun! I couldn't wait to workout everyday! Finding something new is key to getting back on track!






3.  Hold Yourself Accountable:
This is super important to getting back on track and sticking to your new plan.  Tell people about your goals to get healthier.  Post about your progress and workouts on social media to hold yourself accountable.  I find it's so encouraging when people are cheering you on and seeing how dedicated you are.  It keeps you moving forward and, in a way, helps you stay on track by sticking to your workouts when you are putting it out there for all to see.  Don't try to do it secretly because then it's so much easier for you to skip workouts and eat less healthy.






4.  Get a Fitness/Workout Buddy:
I think this is another key aspect to the people that are successful in getting back on track! Have a workout partner who you can meet up with or check in with.  Knowing someone is by your side gives you comfort in knowing you are not alone.  Plus you are a lot less likely to skip that morning workout if you know your workout buddy is waiting for you at the gym.  This "team" concept is what creates so much success in our 30 day challenge groups that my sisters and I run each month.  You have several "fitness" buddies that are on the same journey as you, keeping you encouraged and motivated!






5. Set Realistic Goals:
This is very important, in my opinion, as it keeps you thinking positive and prevents discouragement if you don't see or feel changes right away.  Instead of setting goals to be a certain weight, try developing a plan where you don't even worry about the scale for the first month.

Your weight should not be the deciding factor if you are on track or not.  I am a perfect example of this as I usually weigh, at my fittest and healthiest, more than all my beginning challenge group clients, who are in not way fitter or healthier than me.

If I worried about my weight I would constantly feel defeated and discouraged!
It's about so much more than your weight.  When I walk in a room no one knows what I weigh.... they only know if I look happy, healthy and fit! No one knows what size pants I wear.  They only see that I carry myself with strength and confidence.

Release yourself from setting goals to be a certain number.
Set goals to be the healthiest version of YOU.

For me this entails writing out my workout schedule and sticking to it.
Setting aside an hour a day to work on my health and fitness is what I personally recommend to my clients.  If you stick to this you will be on track to change your health and life.
Crossing off my workouts is a great motivator for me and pushes me daily to keep putting in the effort.

I also feel setting realistic goals for healthy eating is key.  Get a plan and write out your weekly meals every Sunday.  Planning ahead is key.  I know what I'm eating every day this week because I planned out my grocery list and meals accordingly.  Shoot for one week at a time with planning so you'll be likely to stick with this system.  Trying to do too much at once can be overwhelming!






There you have it!
My top five ways to get back on track with your health and fitness.
I hope this helps YOU get back on track after you throw in the towel.


And if you feel you need a little EXTRA push, encouragement and guidance, feel free to contact one of us regarding our upcoming 30 day challenge group sessions.  We work with our clients one on one regarding nutrition, fitness and so much more.

My next session will begin on Feb 10th.  Contact me HERE for details and to get on the waiting list.  Or email me.  Contact info is next to "Marta" in the side bar.

Adie's next session begins Feb 10th as well contact her  HERE for details!

Haley's next session will start on Feb 25th so contact her HERE to jump in.

And Maggie's "Heal Your Gut" session will begin on February 3rd.  Contact here HERE but hurry as space is limited for this so act fast as she fills up quickly each session.



Yours in Health,
Marta 

Jan 17, 2014

21 Day Fix

Did you hear?  There is a brand new program available to help you make health and fitness a priority in your life.  We are excited to introduce a new item into the already amazing mix of Beachbody workouts.  The 21 Day Fix available February 3rd.  Check it out:


           

What a genius idea to help people truly understand portion sizes, and support healthy eating.  If I have learned anything in our time of coaching challenges, NUTRITION is the number one key ingredient for healthy weightloss and success.  AND it is the part that our challengers struggle with the most, have the most questions about, and benefit from the amazing support and knowledge of fellow challengers during our 30 day settings.  You can cardio or lift until you are blue in the face, and you won't see the results if you neglect your diet. 

Contact one of us if this sounds like a program you would be interested in trying out.  It would come with free entry into one of our challenges where we would support and encourage you as you embarked on your 21 day journey towards a healthier you.







 

Jan 14, 2014

My Five Day Gluten Free Meal Plan (with recipes!)



Hi fit friends!

Today I'm so excited to share my weekly meal plan for this week, with recipes, after receiving a lot of positive feedback on my Instagram account this past weekend.

Are you on Instagram?
If not, you should be. It's an app on your phone that allows you to connect with other like-minded folk and encourage, motivate and learn from others via PHOTOS.
And since photos are my favorite, I love me some Instagram.

If you are on IG, come follow me and my sisters if you'd really like to stay in the loop with all our shenanigans.  We'd love to connect with you!

Anywho, I'm rambling....... before I dive into my menu plan extravaganza, could I please get a quick holla for our new web design?
I must say, I'm loving it.
The fact that you can easily find all four of us with our contact information like email, Twitter, Instagram and Beachbody tabs? Perfection.

Big thanks to Chris Stanfield from Hubby Jack Blog for helping these four non-techy sisters out with all the this blog stuff. You rock.


Ok, let's do this.
On Sunday I posted my upcoming meal plan on my Facebook page and Instagram.
It looked like this.





Nothing fancy.
We are not fancy.  I don't have time for fancy.
I'm jealous of all of you that do.
We, at Haus of Girls, definitely stick to the basics.

We are also a wheat/gluten free home after my daughter Sophie and I tested positive for Celiac disease.
However, my other two daughters are also gluten free as I have seen the positive changes in both of them after removing it from their diets last May.  Gracie's feet have grown two sizes and Mia's belly aches, that we thought were caused by her daily medicines for her immune deficiency, have disappeared.  This is all the proof I need to know they do not need wheat/gluten in their bodies.

And as for my story, I have not disclosed very much on this blog as of yet but really want to so that I can help all of those suffering from the same symptoms I was for over a year.
I had no idea that my symptoms had anything to do with what I was eating.

In 2012 I realized that something was off about me.
I was not the spunky, high energy, motivated woman I once was.
I was struggling with mood swings, depression, anxiety and just in this weird funk.
All of my symptoms, according to my pal Google, told me I had hypothyroidism.

So off to the doctor I went to get my thyroid checked.
Luckily it was perfectly fine. But I knew something was wrong with me.

Coincidentally at the same time I was still trying to figure out what was going on with me, my sister Maggie was diagnosed with Celiac disease after becoming very sick.
And so we say, the rest is history.

We researched.
We educated ourselves.
We are now knowledgeable about more than we could have ever dreamed possible in terms of nutrition and the ways foods affect us.

I will never eat wheat/gluten again and I never want to.
Not because I don't miss sinking my teeth into a huge chocolate chip cookie from time to time, but for the mere fact that gluten and wheat were impacting me so much so that my brain was being affected.
My happiness was affected.
My quality of life was diminishing and I never want to go back.
I don't want to damage my body so I choose to eat wisely.

I encourage all of my monthly challengers to figure out what foods are affecting them negatively and positively and learn to live a life of health.  I ask you to do the same.  Learn what certain foods are doing to your body.  Be open-minded when it comes to food and nutrition and realize that when you eat certain foods and you get a stomach ache afterwards, it's probably happening for a reason.

Migraines, bloating, fatigue, depression, joint pain and more are often symptoms of foods like gluten and go misdiagnosed for years.  If you have any questions regarding this, please don't ever hesitate to contact me.  My passion is helping others get healthy and rid their lives of "the funk" that certain foods can cause.

Ok, now that you have a little history on us, you can understand why we eat the foods we eat.
We stick to as much non-processed food as possible like you may have read HERE.
And we try to keep it real.
Real foods.
Free of gluten and wheat.


My meal plan for this week looked like this:

Sunday: baked almond encrusted chicken with homemade sweet potato and regular potato fries
Monday: turkey meatballs with roasted zucchini
Tuesday: lettuce wraps (chicken, onions, almonds, peppers and zucchini)
Wednesday: grilled steak, mashed potatoes and salad
Thursday: sweet potato chicken burgers and salad
Friday: Quinoa Mexican dish


Extra goodies and treats I made on Sunday for the upcoming week:

PB chocolate chip oat muffins
cookie dough bites
Oat bars


My grocery list looked like this:

red and green peppers, spinach salad mix, Kerrygold butter, Nitrate free thick cut bacon, hormone and antibiotic free fresh chicken breasts, gluten free rice, onion, lettuce, black olives, honey crisp apples, PB, gluten free rolled oats, fresh blueberries, baby carrots, zucchini (several), 2 sweet potatoes, coconut milk, gluten free chicken broth, raw broccoli, raw almonds, lean ground turkey meat, oat flour, gluten free quinoa, black beans, fresh salsa, mini chocolate chips, fresh parsley and cilantro and some Kombucha.

This was around $125 for our family of five for the whole week.
Granted, I have a few things at home already that I didn't need to buy like spices, Stevia extract, real maple syrup, etc.

Here are my random recipes for my menu for the week.
I'm not a big fan of measuring things and being exact.
That is too fancy for me.
I believe in winging it and coming up with things so I'll do my best at giving an appropriate amount of information for each meal.  Email me if you have questions!



Sunday: baked almond encrusted chicken with homemade sweet potato and regular potato fries

Using a food processor I just grind up some raw almonds and make an almond meal for the crust.
Sprinkle in some garlic for extra yumminess.
Dip 4-5 raw chicken breasts into a few scrambled eggs and then coat with the almond meal.
Throw in a glass baking dish and bake at 350 f around 35-40 minutes.

Slice up some regular and sweet potatoes somewhat thin.  Think chips.




I use this handy dandy slicer and kinda want to marry it right now.
Obsessed.  Best gift ever from my Mom this Christmas.

Lay the sliced potatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive or coconut oil and sea salt.
Broil (I love me some broiling) until they start to brown.
Not for 20 minutes while you chat with your kids about their day at school until you smell smoke.
Hypothetically speaking.....



Monday: turkey meatballs with roasted zucchini

Get 1-2 pounds of lean ground turkey meat and mash up with some onion powder, Italian seasoning (if you don't have this use some oregano and basil) and garlic powder.  I also add in a huge handful of fresh chopped up parsley.  Yum!




Roll into meatballs and saute for about 7-10 minutes.
Flip halfway through.  My tip for this to keep them intact is to use an ice cream scooper.
It hit me a few months ago after watching four crumble while I attempted to flip with a spatula.

For the roasted zucchini I simply slice or cube several huge zucchini.  We are obsessed at Haus of Girls with this magical vegetable. So good.

Lay on baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil and Italian seasoning.
Bake at 400 f for about 15-20 minutes.



Tuesday: lettuce wraps (chicken, onions, almonds, peppers and zucchini)

This one is so easy.
Chop up some chicken breasts.... maybe 2-3.
Saute in olive oil until almost cooked through.

Throw in 1/2 chopped onion, a handful or so of slivered almonds, 2 chopped peppers and 1 chopped zucchini.  Stir fry this with some Bragg's liquid aminos.

Once the stir fry is done you'll just wash up your lettuce keeping the big pieces in tact.
Have everyone create their own wraps.
My girls love doing this! And my belly loves eating these.


Wednesday: grilled steak, mashed potatoes and salad

This is pretty explanatory.
Grill (or have our hubby or spouse grill) some yummy steaks to perfection.
While he's doing that put on a little cooking music and pop a few potatoes into the microwave until cooked.  I just hit "baked potato" on my microwave.

When those are done mash up with a little Kerrygold butter and sea salt.  I sometimes add little plain almond milk to make a little more creamy.

Make a lettuce salad using leftover lettuce from lettuce wrap night, tomatoes and green pepper.



Thursday: sweet potato chicken burgers and salad

I love making these chicken burgers. It's so easy and so tasty.

*Side note- This recipe reminds me of one of the most interesting facts I've learned over the past few months about eating healthy and mindfully.  This being that it really doesn't take more time to cook healthy real foods (not that I mind if it did because it's so worth it) that to cook and prepare processed packaged foods.  It just takes a little more planning.  But isn't your family worth 5-10 minutes of planning? Yes it is.  Moving on.....


Throw in some chopped up raw chicken breast into a food processor (another kitchen gadget I could marry) I usually do 2-3 chopped up chicken breasts.
Sprinkle in some paprika, onion powder, garlic powder and 1-2 (depending on size) chopped and already baked skinless sweet potatoes.

Combine all of this in the food processor until well mixed.
Shape into burgers your choice of size.
Grill on stove top until cooked through.
I usually do 5-7 minutes per side.

For our spinach salad I'll throw on some black olives, avocado and onions.
My girls aren't fans of black olives but I always put them in their salad.
Keep putting foods your kids say they don't like no matter what.
Because take it from me, they eventually try it and LIKE it.
I promise.  Keep trying.


Friday: Quinoa Mexican dish


This is a random mix of goodies.
No measuring.  Just combining a few of my faves.

I cook some quinoa and combine with well-drained and rinsed black beans.
I throw in some chopped tomato, fresh chopped cilantro, the juice of 1 lime and 1 lemon, 1 chopped red pepper and come cubed chicken.  For this I usually just broil a few pieces (so fast and easy) and mix with all the other goodies in a huge bowl.

I like to serve this with THESE chips and avocado for me.
So, so, so good.


And for the grand finale..... a few of my weekly staples.
These are good for breakfast or as after school snacks for my girlies.... and hubby to has been known to inhale several in mere seconds......



PB chocolate chip oat muffins-

My girls LOVE these and they are so simple.

Just combine 2 eggs, 1 cup of almond milk, 1/2 cup natural peanut butter, 20-30 drops of stevia extract, 2 cups oat flour, 2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips.

Pour into muffin tin and bake 15-17 minutes at 350 degrees.






cookie dough bites-

I literally make these every Sunday.
Perfect pop-in-mouth snack for the girls and I..... and like I mentioned earlier, my hubby Steve.

Throw 2/3 cup raw almonds into a food processor with 1/3 cup gluten free rolled oats, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 3 Tablespoons of maple syrup and 1/4 cup carob or chocolate chips.




Process all together and then drop T size balls onto cookie sheet.
Stick in freezer and grab as you go.

-Side note I ALWAYS double this recipe. Always.



Oat bars-

Combine in a big bowl:
1 cup gluten free oats, 1 cup natural peanut butter, 1 T cocoa powder, 2 T coconut oil,  3 T almond milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1/3 cup of honey.

Stir this up well and smash into a glass baking pan to create one big layer.
Chill, cut and serve.
Yum!



And that's it folks.
A quick and easy five-day menu that's wheat/gluten free and super yummy and nutritious.
Please comment below if you feel these dinners are something you could whip up at home or if you have any questions at all.

I'm always here and happy to help!
Have a healthy day!

XOXO
-Marta