2015 New Year’s Resolutions

A couple months from now you may find yourself abandoning your resolutions, reaching for McDonalds or Wendy’s, assuming all hope in the weightloss game is gone so why not just give in? Well, hopefully the next 19 images helps to keep you on track with your goals:

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Mango Strawberry Salsa

Even though the Polar Vortex has made it’s way down here to sunny South Florida, that’s no reason to not enjoy some flavors of summer with your dinner! I recently made my Broiled Tilapia and decided that instead of the bread crumb topping I usually put on it, I would do a Strawberry Mango salsa instead. Ingredients are simple and the instructions are even easier!!

Ingredients

3/4 Cup Strawberries, finely diced
3/4 Cup Mangos, finely diced
1/4 Cup Red Onion, finely chopped
6 Basil Leaves, finely chopped
1 TBSP Fresh Lemon Juice
1/4 tsp. Sea Salt
1/4 tsp. Black Pepper

Combine all the ingredients together and place in the fridge for a few hours to chill. Use this as a topping for your favorite fish, chicken or even steak, it’s great on everything!!

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Chicken Salad without Mayo

Chicken salad is always a great go to for quick sandwiches for both kids and adults. Many recipes though call for the use of mayo in chicken salad. Well the other day I combined my cool avocado cream sauce (link to recipe down below) with the rest of the ingredients for chicken salad and it was amazing!! Here is how I made it:

Ingredients:

  • Chicken breasts or tenderloins, boneless and skinless
  • 1/2 cup chopped cashews or pecans
  • 1/2 dried cranberries or chopped grapes (or both)
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • Cool Avocado Cream Sauce

Instructions:

  1. Boil chicken in a pot of water until cooked. Once cooked through, strain and shred with fork or hand mixer, or chop into cubes
  2. Mix chicken in a bowl with 1/2 cup of the Cool Avocado Cream sauce, and rest of ingredients.
  3. Chill in refrigerator and enjoy on it’s own or in sandwiches!

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This makes a great quick sandwich especially on some whole wheat bread or a whole wheat pita. I don’t have the nutritional value of a serving of this chicken salad but if enough request it I will figure it out and add it to the post. Thanks so much! As always follow along on Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram

Cool Avocado Cream Sauce

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The other day I was looking for ways to incorporate avocado into my recipes. I don’t normally like avocado, I think it’s more of a texture than a taste issue for me. My husband however, loves it. So I decided to browse Pinterest for ways to include avocado and came across some Avocado Cream Sauce. It was perfect. The consistency came out a little thicker than I thought it would but I think it’s because I used some genetically enhanced avocado because it was HUGE!

Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado chopped into cubes
  • 1/2 cup of no fat greek yogurt
  • juice of one lime
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp. of cilantro, chopped

Instructions:

  1. chop up avocado and put into food processor or blender.
  2. add yogurt and lime juice and blend until smooth.
  3. add cilantro and salt to taste

Here is a photo of mine, but please excuse the pathetic look to it, the bowl was full and in two days it looked like this:

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We used the last bit of this to make a chicken salad last night that has cranberries, pecans and cashews. Stay tuned and happy Monday!

Healthy Peanut Butter Cookies

Happy new year everyone! I apologize for the lack of posts and vow to make more this year. I took the last two weeks to relax with my husband as he had lots of time off which was wonderful! Because we spent the holidays lounging around, we found ourselves with a craving for sweet treats. I don’t usually buy treats when grocery shopping as we are trying to monitor calories and macros (this will be a post coming soon so stay tuned). I searched the internet and found a recipe for peanut butter cookies that did not include flour! Below are the ingredients and instructions for these cookies that only lasted 2 days:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup natural peanut butter. I used Crazy Richards chunky which was good but I think just natural Skippy or Jiff would be better.
  • 1 cup sugar. Some of you may not like sugar since it’s not as healthy and Stevia for baking is a great alternative. I used Dominos brown sugar here.
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda (so your cookies aren’t flat)
  • 2 teaspoons of flax meal (optional but a great source of omega-3 and highly recommended).

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F.
  2. mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. spoon 1 tbsp of mixture onto cookie sheet.
  4. Push a fork into the dough to get the classic peanut butter cookie look.
  5. cook in oven between 10-15 min until golden brown.
  6. take out of oven and transfer to cooling rack *warning: since there is no flour I found the cookies broke apart a bit when transferring them so either be gentle or wait until they cool before transferring.

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I hope you all enjoy them and as always come follow us on twitter and Instagram

Blueberry Baked Oatmeal

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I’m always looking for new and exciting recipes to try and I happened to stumble across this gem. I made it right away today and as you can see, I already dipped into it, for the sole reason of reporting how good it is of course! This recipe calls for basic ingredients, most of them should be in your pantry already. I put all my ingredients into MyFitnessPal recipes and it came out to 147 calories for 1/2 cup serving with 19g of carbs and only 6 grams of fat. The ingredients you will need are:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats (not the quick cooking kind)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup. Now I use Walden Farms calorie free, gluten free, carb free, sugar free syrup

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  • 1 cup of milk (I used Pure Silk Coconut milk, made it taste awesome)
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-3 bananas (depending on the size of your baking dish)
  • 1 cup blueberries frozen or thawed

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Lightly grease your 2 qt baking dish, I just used a stick of butter and rubbed the bottom. In a bowl, mix the oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir to mix it all up. In a separate bowl, mix syrup, milk, egg, butter and vanilla
  3. Cut up the bananas and place the slices across the bottom of your baking dish. In my glass 2 qt dish I used 1 1/2 bananas to do this. Cover the bottom with the bananas. Put half the blueberries on top of the bananas. Sprinkle the dry mix on top of the blueberries making sure to get an even layer out of it. Pour the liquid mix on top of the dry mix, don’t stir it up, just leave it on top.
  4. Sprinkle the rest of the blueberries on top of the liquid mix and bake in the oven for 35-40 min or until the top is browned and the oats have set.

Enjoy!

Follow along on twitter or instagram and on pinterest

Muscle Group of the Week: Leg Workouts

First I want to apologize for going so long between posts. I know not too many people read this but it seems my frozen turkey debacle was a big hit on thanksgiving. My find of putting the turkey in a cooler while it thaws was a gem and it worked perfectly. I wish I had saved my pictures of our Thanksgiving meal but I did hang on to the homemade apple pie we had!
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Needless to say the pie did not last long. Eventually I hope to add it to the recipes section on here. I feel those are lacking in quantity and quality.

Now, on to leg workouts. Today I will post a handful of pictures that explain pretty well how to perform these exercises. As always, you should aim to do 3-4 sets with 8-12 reps. Going heavy on leg day is a good idea because they are such a large muscle group. They can be hard to build muscle in so by going heavy you are really creating work for your body.

Sumo Deadlifts
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Sumo Deadlifts are great because they work the quads, hamstring, glutes and your back. Deadlifts in general are a compound exercise that should be in everyone’s arsenal.

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As you can see in the picture, deadlifts work more than just the legs. If you have never done deadlifts before, be sure to start light and watch some videos on proper form. This is one exercise where if performed incorrectly, you can really do some damage.

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This image shows many other exercises that all should be incorporated into your workout. The front and back squat should be required. They really target the quads and will give nice development to them. Leg press is another great way to fatigue the quads. Again, if you’ve never done these, go light for the first few times. If you can complete 12 reps for 3-4 sets then it’s time to up the weight. Leg extensions and leg curls are a good superset to really fatigue the muscles as well. Try to do 15 reps if you do these towards the end of your workout. You can also pyramid any of these sets. Start light and go 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1, 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15. It’s guaranteed you’ll have trouble walking the next day!

One group people neglect is the calf muscle. If your gym has sitting or standing calf machine please add these in to your workout.
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Another thing people don’t do is vary the angle of the calf muscle. Just keeping your feet pointed forward only targets the main muscle, the gastrocnemius. Pointing your toes inward and outward will develop the Soleus and Plantaris.
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Please whatever you do, just don’t let this happen to you. Friends don’t let friends not lift legs:
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Fitness Facts: STRESS

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🔹Stress does not just affect emotions and moods- it is something that can have a very physical effect on the body.
🔹High levels of stress are linked to all kinds of health issues, including high blood pressure, impaired immunity, insomnia, migraines, decreased muscle, increased fat storage, type-2 diabetes, high cholesterol, stroke, & even heart attack.
🔹The primary chemical the body releases during stress is called cortisol. Cortisol can have some positive benefits to the body, but constant high levels can be problematic.
🔹The body releases cortisol when it’s stressed as a safety precaution because it helps with the fight or flight response. It signals the release of glucose and fatty acids to the blood stream to provide energy for muscles.
🔹But too much cortisol can cause the body to increase storage of visceral fat- specifically the kind that stores around the belly. It also increases carbohydrate cravings- which can lead to over eating.
🔹Excess cortisol can cause muscles to tense & the heart rate to increase- so it’s very common for people to get muscle tension or pain, as well as headaches or migraines.
🔹Stress can also cause muscles to break down, as well as negatively impact muscle recovery time & exercise performance.
🔹Stress can also negatively affect reproductive systems. Women can get longer menstrual cycles & worse PMS symptoms, & men can get decreased testosterone or erectile dysfunction.
🔹There are many ways to minimize the effect of stress on your body. The best way to start would be determining the sources of stress in your life & considering better ways of coping with the sources, or consider removing some completely if possible.
🔹Exercise is one of the best activities to help prevent the negative effects of stress. The increased calorie burn & circulation burns off some excess cortisol, and can also allow for deeper sleep, which also decreases cortisol levels. Some other activites that can help are yoga, meditation, massage, sex, or recreational activities.
STAY TUNED FOR MORE #FITNESSFACTS

Information was pulled off Instagram, follow along at fitnessbyclaire for fitness motivation and tips!

Halloween ABS: 13 in 2013!

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Most of you have heard this before. Diet is 70% of your weight loss or muscle growth journey. While this is true, today we are going to give you 13 fantastic abdominal exercises that you can do right at home or in the gym. I get questions from people all the time about how I get my abs to show, and while they aren’t quite at the 6 pack formation I want just yet, they are coming along quite nicely:

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I try to maintain my diet as much as possible but usually on the weekends I let it slack a bit as I don’t go to the gym either those two days. That being said, here are 13 exercises that might make you feel a little bit better after eating all that Halloween candy!

1. Body Weight Bridge

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Lie down on the floor. Keep knees bent and feet on the floor. Wrap arms around your upper body. Lift your hip upward. Hold for one second. Return to starting position

2. Body Weight Crunch

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Lie down on the floor. Feet are flat on the floor and knees are bent. Position hands behind your head but do not pull on your neck. Raise your upper body upward while keeping your lower back on the floor. Hold for one second. Return to starting position.

3. Body Weight Bicycle

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Lie down on the floor. Lift legs so that your thighs are perpendicular with the ground. Put hands behind your head but do not pull on your neck. Move left elbow and right leg toward the body until they touch. Move left elbow and right leg back to starting position. At the same time, move right elbow and left leg toward the body until they touch. This is one repetition.

4. Body Weight Crunch Reverse

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Lie down on the floor. Lift legs so that your thighs are perpendicular with the ground. Position hands at your sides to stabilize position. Lift lower body towards the ceiling. Stop when only upper back is touching on the floor. Hold for one second. Return to starting position.

5. Heel Touch

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Lie down on the floor. Feet are flat on the floor and knees are bent. Position arms to your side. Lift shoulders off the floor. Touch your left heel with your left hand. Hold for one second. Return to starting position. Touch your right heel with your right hand. Hold for one second. Return to starting position. This is one repetition.

6. Plank

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Lie prone on the floor. Raise yourself up so that only your toes and forearms are on the floor. Keep your back straight. Hold for as long as possible.

7. Side Plank

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Lie on your side. Make sure one leg is on top of the other. Position your forearm on the floor perpendicular with your body. Use your forearm to lift your upper body off the ground. The other arm is placed on the side of your body. Hold for as long as possible.

8. Body Weight Pull In Seated

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Sit at the end of the bench and hold onto the bench with both hands. Lie back and raise your legs until you reach a position of balance. Keep legs straight. Bend Legs toward your upper body while you simultaneously move your upper body towards your thighs. Hold this position for one second before return to starting postion.

9. Scissor Kick

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Lie down on the floor. Place hands next to your sides. Extend legs fully and slightly elevated. While keeping legs straight, raise one leg up. As you lower leg, raise the other leg up. This is one repetition.

10. Sit-Up

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Lie back on the floor. Put hands behind your head but do not pull on your neck. Knees are bent and feet are on the floor. Raise your upper body upward. Hold for one second. Return to starting position.

11. Body Weight Toe Touch

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Lie down on the floor. Lift legs until legs are pependicular with the floor. Fully extend your arms above you. Reach for your toes with your hands. Hold for one second. Return to starting position.

12. Bodyweight Twist

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Lie down on the floor. Lift legs until thighs are perpendicular with the ground. Keep legs straight. Fully extend your arms to your sides. While twisting the upper body, lower your legs to one side. Hold for one second. Return to starting position. While twisting the upper body, lower your legs to the other side. Hold for one second. Return to starting position.

13. Russian Twist

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Sit down with your feet flat on the mat. Your knees should be bent. Lean back slightly. Position your hands together and keep your hands in this position for the rest of the movement (you can also hold a light dumbbell or medicine ball for more advanced exercise). Your arms should be perpendicular with your upper body. Twist your torso in one direction. Hold for one second. Twist your torso in the other direction. Hold for one second. This is one repetition.

So there you have 13 abdominal exercises to add to your arsenal. Complete each one 25-30 times. If you can not do them without stopping, take a break as many times as needed but complete 25-30 reps, 3 sets for each exercise. You don’t need to do all 13. Pick 3 for lower abs, 3 for your obliques and 3 for upper abs and this will round out your workout. Next week we will post a sample diet to follow while you try to bring out those abs! Happy Halloween everyone and be safe!

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Upper Body Exercises For You!

Pull-ups

The Proper Pull-up (Regular Grip)
Grab the pull-up bar with your hands placed about shoulder width apart and your palms facing away from you. Pull yourself upward until your chin is over the bar and complete the exercise by slowly moving to the hanging position.

Pull-ups (Negatives)

If you cannot do any pull-ups, you should try “negatives”. Negatives are half pull-ups. All you have to do is get your chin over the bar by standing on something or having spotter push you over the bar. Then, you slowly lower yourself all the way down – let your arms hang grasping the bar fully stretched. Keep your feet up and fight gravity for a count of 5 seconds. This will get your arms used to supporting your weight.

Assisted Pull-ups

This is the first step to being able to perform pullups. Using the bar that is 3-4 feet off the ground, sit under it and grab with the regular grip. Straighten your back, hips, and slightly bend your knees while your feet remain on the floor and pull yourself to the bar so that your chest touches the bar. Repeat as required. This is a great way to start out if you cannot do any pull-ups at all. You can also do this on a pair of parallel bars that are used for dips. These are also great to do after you can no longer perform anymore dead-hang pullups. This is a good replacement for the Lat Pulldown machine as well

One Arm Dumb Bell Row

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Follow these steps to perform this exercise:

Stand to the right of your weight bench, holding a dumbbell in your right hand with your palm facing in. Place your left knee and your left hand on top of the bench for support. Let your right arm hang down and a bit forward. Pull your abdominals in and bend forward from the hips so that your back is naturally arched and roughly parallel to the floor, and your right knee is slightly bent.
Tilt your chin toward your chest so that your neck is in line with the rest of your spine. Pull your right arm up until your elbow is pointing to the ceiling, your upper arm is parallel to the floor, and your hand comes to the outside of the ribcage. Lower the weight slowly back down.

Keep these tips in mind as you perform this exercise:
Concentrate on pulling from your back muscles (right behind and below your shoulder). Don’t just move your arm up and down. Although your arm is moving, this is a back exercise.
Think of your arm as a hook that connects to the weight and is pulled by the back. Keep your abs pulled in tight throughout the motion. Don’t let your back sag toward the floor or hunch up. Pull your shoulders back and down to set the shoulder blades.

Diamond Push Ups

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Find a place with an open space. Get a mat to start this off or just do it normally anywhere. It’s best to start somewhere with a soft floor in case you can’t handle the pressure. Move both of your hands under your chest (breast area) and make a pyramid-like with your hands. Your pointing fingers should touch and your thumb should touch on the bottom which forms a pyramid, also known as a diamond to most. Slowly adjust and push your body down while you are at the diamond position. Make sure it is straight to avoid injury and back strains

Dips

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What are Dips?

Raise yourself on 2 supports with elbows locked. Lower your body until your shoulders are lower than your elbows. Push yourself up by straightening your arms.

Variations for Dips:
Parallel Bar Dips. Parallel bars that are 55cm/22″ apart. My Squat Rack has 2 removable parallel bars I use for Dips.

Bench Dips. Feet elevated, hands on a bench. Avoid. The torso position is unhealthy for your shoulders, especially when you do them weighted.

Benefits of Dips.

Push-ups have your feet planted. Dips move your whole body through space. Dips are harder and thus superior to Push-ups because you have to balance your body. Other benefits of Dips: Build Strength. Dips build lockout strength: straightening your elbows. This helps the Bench Press & the Overhead Press. Build Muscle. Dips will develop your triceps & chest muscles.

Rehab.

Try Dips if you can’t do the Bench Press because of a shoulder injury. Dips work similar muscles, do them if your shoulders can take it.

But always apply the following rules on Dips:

Squeeze The Bar. Put your thumbs around the bar & squeeze it hard. The more force you apply to the bar, the stronger you are. Look Forward. Don’t look straight forward, don’t look the floor. Look to a point slightly in front of you.

Breathing.

Take a big breathe while hanging with locked elbows & hold it. Lower yourself & come back up. Breathe at the top, not during reps.

Chest Up.

Don’t let your shoulders roll forward. Keep your chest up & shoulders back. It’s easier on your shoulders. Bend Your Legs. And cross your feet. Letting your legs hang means less strength in my experience. Squeeze your glutes on the way up.

Break Parallel.

Your shoulders must go lower than your elbows. Deeper stretches your chest more, but your shoulders might not agree with it. Lock Elbows. Drive out of the bottom until your elbows are locked. Squeeze your triceps. No partial Dips

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