Quinoa-Berry Breakfast Bowls

January 15th, 2015

This was originally published in March of 2013 and goes so well with our focus on health that I thought you’d enjoy it again – it’s one of my favorite ways to start the day!

I’m always looking for filling & satisfying breakfast recipes and these quinoa-berry breakfast bowls fit the bill perfectly. A mixture of quinoa and steel cut oats offer a hearty combination for a breakfast that will fill you up and give you the energy you need to tackle your day.

If you are not familiar with quinoa, you are missing out on a filling and satisfying protein-packed food. Quinoa, pronounced (KEEN-wah) is a very nutritious gluten-free seed that originates from the Andean region of South America. Quinoa is a fantastic source of protein, contains all eight amino acids, is a good source of dietary fiber, contains B Vitamins, and iron. Though it is smaller than rice, barley, farro and bulgur, quinoa looks like a grain, thanks to its neutral coloring and hard exterior. In reality, it is actually a seed that originates from the cousin of the spinach plant. When cooked, these seeds expand rapidly and significantly, become tender but chewy and expel spirals that boast the slightest crunch. My favorite preparation of this delicious food can be found in my tutorial on how to cook quionoa in your rice cooker.

Steel-cut oats are essential grains which are full of nutritional value, rich in B-vitamins, calcium, protein and fiber while low in sodium and unsaturated fat. In fact, just one cup of steel-cut oats contains 8g of fiber. Steel-cut oats are whole grain groats, the inner portion of the oat kernel, which have been cut into two or three pieces rather than flattened.

With quinoa and steel cut oats in one bowl, you have a winning combination for a great way to start your morning.

Top your quinoa-oat bowls with any of your favorite oatmeal toppings. I love the combination of berries and toasted slivered almonds, but if the pantry is lean that day, I rely on walnuts and dried berries.

I prepared my oats with almond milk, giving it a great calcium boost and it adds even more protein to my breakfast bowl. You can prepare this with whatever your favorite milk is or whatever your family typically drinks.

This makes enough for two large bowls or four smaller bowls. Store leftovers shortly after preparing. The leftovers can be reheated in your microwave and thinned with a little milk.

If you make a double batch, you will have enough for all week long. I prepare these on Saturday mornings when I have a little more time and reap the rewards of my labor throughout the week.

You know the phrase, “a watched pot never boils.” Really, not the case with these. Keep an eye on these all the time and make sure you have a generous pot to prepare them in because these bubble up and boil over pretty easily.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Quinoa-Berry Breakfast Bowls
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
A protein packed breakfast bowl made from quinoa and steel cut oats and topped with fresh berries and nuts.
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup steel cut oats
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup quinoa
  • 3 cups water
  • ¾ cup milk of your choice
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • Toppings (whatever you favorite topping combination is)
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan, combine steel-cut oats, salt and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes without stirring.
  2. Rinse quinoa well in a fine-mesh sieve.
  3. Drain and add quinoa to the oats, give it a quick stir, then partially cover and simmer for 10 more minutes.
  4. Add ½ cup milk and add vanilla to your saucepan. Stir gently to combine and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
  5. Spoon into a serving bowl and top with remaining milk, maple syrup and toppings.
Recipe Adapted From Camille Styles.

Looking for other great ways to start your day? Be sure to check out my recipe for, “Save Your Green, Green Smoothie.”

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The First Aid Essentials Every Mom Needs (Free Printables) & a $100 Walmart Gift Card Giveaway

January 14th, 2015

How to Stock a First Aid Kit

This post is sponsored on behalf of BHG at Walmart.

A fresh new year is a great time to  not only declutter our homes of unnecessary items, but it is also a great time to stock up on life’s daily essentials. Emergency preparation has been something that has been on my mind these days and with the focus of our site being on health/wellness for the m challenge, I thought this would be a great time to address my poorly stocked First Aid Kit, a unique way to package it for the home, and I would love to give you the chance to win a gift card of $100 to create one yourself out of products from BHG at Walmart.  What do I know about First Aid essentials and preparedness. It turns out, not much.

How to Stock a First Aid Kit: ER Doctor Jamie Shoemaker

I am not an expert on emergencies and emergency situations, but lucky for me, I actually happen to know an ER doctor in town who has seen his fair share of emergencies at his hospital. Dr. Jamie Shoemaker is an ER Doctor for Elkhart General Hospital and GRACIOUSLY offered his expert opinion on what every mom should have in her First Aid Kit to be prepared for emergency situations.

It should come as no surprise that I barely had the bandages and cream category covered.

Ahem.

On his list of First Aid essentials, he suggested different size bandages, Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, Hydrocortisone creme, Triple antibiotic ointment, hydrogen peroxide, nasal bulbsuction, syringes for oral med admin, tweezers, tape, gauze of varying sizes, Ace wraps, aloe, nail clippers, antiseptic wipes, instant cold compresses, scissors, pairs of non latex gloves, thermometer, splint, safety pins, calamine lotion, flashlight, blanket, tooth preservation
kit, contact lenses saline and case and a first aid manual.

Don’t worry- we have a printable for all of this for you to take when you head to the store.

He also noted that aspirin should be avoided in children due to Reye’s syndrome so he did not include it on this list for moms.

Thank you, Dr. Shoemaker, for helping us get prepared for emergencies in this new year.

How to Stock a First Aid Kit

How to Stock a First Aid Kit

How to Stock a First Aid Kit

How to Stock a First Aid Kit

I headed to Walmart with his list and wanted to stock up on every item, but also knew that I had to find a pretty way to package it. Thankfully, the BHG product line at Walmart offer a variety of cute totes, baskets, and other organizer essentials. Since I have nowhere to tuck my First Aid kit, it will rest on top of our little bathroom storage unit, on display for our guests. I wanted something attractive for storage so I settled on this handy Better Homes & Gardens Chesapeake Magazine Basket for under $13 that housed all of these fabulous First Aid essentials with ease and kept them tucked away without anyone knowing what is in there. How perfect is that?

Emergency preparedness is such an essential part of running a household and I know that this is something I should work on in our home. Whether it is being prepared with a bandage and some cream for the neverending injuries in our home or making sure our home is stocked with candles and flashlights for our neverending power outages or even more seriously, the need for disaster preparedness with canned foods and water…

Let’s face it, this stuff tends to fall on the shoulders of many mothers.

I know it falls on mine.

I can admit that I have done a pretty lousy job at stuff like that, but this year I want to do better and I want to encourage you to do better too. This month, the m challenge isn’t just about focusing on our own needs, but also on the needs of those we love. I hope this little push can help you this year to address key needs in your own household.

How to Stock a First Aid Kit

(just a screenshot- click below for the printable please!)

I have prepared for you a FREE printable list of First Aid Essentials that you can take to the store of all the recommendations Dr. Shoemaker offers for us.  There is no need to stress about being prepared this year- we have you covered!

Enter below to win one $100 Walmart Gift Card from BHG at Walmart to stock your First Aid Kit for the new year. One lucky winner will receive this gift card to stock up on all the essentials. This giveaway ends on January 21st! Good luck, everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Live-Better-Network-Badge

In accordance with the FTC Guidelines, I am disclosing that I received compensation from BHG at Walmart for my time and participation in the BHG Live Better Network. Although we have material connection to BHG, any publicly stated opinions of BHG and their products remain my own.

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Amy’s Notebook 01.14.15

January 14th, 2015

Book purse via A Beautiful Mess

Source: A Beautiful Mess

 

Hello, adorable book purse.

I still can’t stop laughing about this.

14 classic college books you’ll want to read again as a real adult.

Flipping the cabinet doors. Pretty much genius.

Messy waves for 2015.

New Year’s cooking goals & 20 recipes to get started- I need this.

Detox Drinks via Camille Styles

Source: Camille Styles

 

10 best detox drinks.

I love the idea of a monthly discipline challenge (and all Laura learned from it).

10 blogging apps that you need right now.

The thing about being more awesome

Good travel hack to know!

amys_notebook

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy then to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

 

Planning for Your Marriage to Succeed in 2015

January 13th, 2015

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

Making 2015 Plans for Your Marriage

I’m a big fan of lists. Making lists, setting goals, creating intricate plans for success – all of these things send me to my happy place. But even the biggest list-loving nerd can admit that some lists are more fun than others.

Grocery lists aren’t nearly as fun as my list of books I’ve read. And that spreadsheet of bills to pay each month can’t hold a candle to my plan for an upcoming birthday party or the Pinterest board of craft projects and science experiments my seven-year-old picked out for her spring break.

That’s why I think New Year’s lists, goals and plans are so beloved. After the chaos of the holidays and the stress of DOING ALL THE THINGS ON MY LIST during the last quarter of the year, it’s refreshing to literally start a new page. Looking at the blank expanse of the first page in a new planner, calendar or journal can offer our hearts and minds peace that we crave after hectic holidays and the race to the final days of the year.

And so we sharpen our pencils, format our spreadsheets, crack open those notebooks, or line up our colored pens – and we dream. We dream and we plan and we hope for the very best in every area of our lives. And in that moment, the one right before the ink hits the paper (or screen, depending on your method, of course!), it’s all possible, isn’t it?

I see a beauty in this time of year, but also a balm. Often we can find ourselves limping toward the finish line of another year – grumpy, discouraged, disappointed and longing for that fresh start. What a relief to turn the page and begin again!

Nowhere is this more true than in my family, with the people I love most. Unless you count the state of my dining room floor, which is the sticky victim of a toddler who delights in throwing food. I’d love to begin again there, too! But if I focus on the things I can change (because no amount of firm redirection is phasing said food-throwing baby girl…), I find my marriage at the top of my list for 2015.

The past two months in my house have involved celebrations and joyful moments, for sure. But they’ve also included tension, misunderstandings and short tempers.

Like many of you, we have a busy schedule that leaves little time for long walks on the beach or meaningful talks over gourmet meals. But as 2014 came to a close, we made a point to spend some extra time together. I’m not saying we stopped choosing one more episode of our favorite show over gazing into each others’ eyes completely. But even a few minutes can make a difference. And this year, we’ve really enjoyed dreaming together and making a few plans for 2015.

We’ve done our best to set challenging but attainable goals for the year, and we’ve talked a bit about what worked last year and what didn’t. (And let’s be honest – picking Friday Night Lights as our show to watch after the kids go to bed on Saturday nights WAS a winner!)

If your marriage is on your 2015 list of things to improve, focus on, or otherwise nurture, here are a few ideas.

Goal Planning for Marriage

Plan those date nights: I don’t know how many times I’ve spent an evening clicking and pinning all those clever ideas for date night jars. Or date nights in a jar. Or a jar of date nights in a jar. Clearly, there are tons of ideas out there! (And for some reason, they all involve jars…) But for my husband and me, we don’t need an elaborate system or an adorable tool. We simply need to make a plan.

For us, that means deciding how often we can make a date night happen and then clarifying our expectations for what those evenings look like. It also means making a list (yay!) of new places to try and ideas for Plan B (when the kids are sick or the babysitter cancels or we just don’t have the money for a night out).

Set some goals: I’m not sure where your marriage needs to grow or change. Sometimes I’m not even sure where my own relationship needs the most help! And, actually, I’m not positive that my husband and I would answer that question the same if asked right now. For me, setting a goal or two for my marriage is a double win, because simply aligning our hearts on the most important things has huge value to us. Meeting that goal throughout the year is just icing on the cake. (Unless you’re one of those couples who sets goals like, “run a marathon together.” Then it’s hummus for your carrots or something…)

Take a test: Second only to my love of lists is my love of personality tests. My husband does not share this affinity, so I’m not sure this one will ever make it to our yearly planning session – but a girl can hope, right? Until recently, my favorite personality test has been the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (any other ENJFs out there??), but several of my friends have talked a lot about the Enneagram system this past year – and I’m intrigued. Perhaps I should sneak, “take personality or love language test,” onto my list of date night ideas…

Choose one word or a life verse: I know lots of people who have life verses from the Bible that they focus on as an overarching theme for their lives, as well as lots of people who choose one word to focus on each year. I also have friends who have family mission statements or vision statements for their businesses. Personally, I’ve chosen one word for the past few years and I have life verses for my children. But I’ve never chosen or created any of these for my marriage.

What difference could a word, a quote, a verse or a statement make in our relationships? I think it could be huge – giving us a touchstone, a reminder for what matters most and for what we value about each other, so perhaps this year will be the one we finish feeling closer and stronger than ever.

Make a vacation wish list: A couple years ago, my friend Amanda wrote about the list she and her husband had made – 100 places they wanted to take their kids. The places ranged from the Eiffel Tower to her grandmother’s house to a nursing home to summer camp, and I have not been able to shake this idea since! So this year, when Mark and I talked about our vacation plans for the summer, I mentioned to him that we only have 12 more summers with Annalyn (before she goes to college). That means, we likely only have 12 more big vacations with her – so we’d better plan carefully!

Next thing you know, Mark is looking at his watch while I click on link after link after link promising to tell me the Top Best Most Awesome Family Vacation Ideas Ever in the History of Family Vacations. Of course, that’s what happens when you start this list right before bed. We tabled the discussion for now, but later this week, we have a date to start it up again. I can’t wait!

Set a budget: Money is not always a fun topic, but making realistic plans for paying off debt, saving up for big purchases, or making work/life changes can be exciting. I won’t tell you that our budget conversation was stress-free, but it was good to put everything – our bills, our bank statements, our hopes, our fears – on the table and use it to form a 2015 game plan.

It may not be possible to do all of these things, but doing even one means you’re making your marriage a priority – and might just keep it at the top of your Important Things list all year. I’d even say that this time of year has the potential to be more romantic – and certainly more meaningful – than any Valentine’s Day date coming up next month. So, let’s not wait! Let’s plan for success in our most important relationship right now.

How are you planning for your marriage to succeed in 2015?

{Photo sources: Juanedc and Sergio Vassio Photography}

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Apron Full of Giveaways 01.13.15

January 13th, 2015

Yellow Half Aprons via Etsy

Source: She Sews Vintage,  $60.00/set

 

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week, here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we are not giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Good luck to each of you!

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m challenge: What’s In Your Gym Bag?

January 12th, 2015

Gym Bag Essentials Our m challenge “maximize” post for Health & Fitness is discovering the essentials for your gym bag – what are the most useful items to take with you, not only to the gym but also when you travel so you can maintain your workout goals. I asked Tammy Weisweaver from B Present Studio to tell us what essentials she carries in her bag and I love how she pared it down to 3 essentials!

First off, I know getting in a workout for many women these days means fitting in 15 mins here, 10 mins there between feedings/naps/etc.  The gym essentials I list can be used at the gym, at home, outside, virtually anywhere!!  The last time I took a mini getaway, I definitely missed some of my gym bag essentials and I made a mental note to never travel again without at least 2 of the 3 things I’m about to mention!

Gym Bag Essentials

1. Long stretchy resistance band (I use one about 8 ft long without handles that can be manually tied and untied into all different sizes, making it very versatile). I LOVE using the band for:
  • strength work in arms (bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, shoulder press), legs, and back by putting the band under your feet.
  • Tie a bow in the band to create a small circle and you now have a new toy to put around your ankles to get those stubborn inner and outer thighs.
  • I also use the smaller circle version of the band to work the seat muscles.  Lifts, tones, and tightens the booty!
  • The band travels great, too, and adds no weight to your luggage!
2. Small rubber playground ball (~5-6″ in diameter).
  • I love to use this ball the most for Abs!  Whether positioned under the back (low, mid, and upper) while laying down, or placing the ball between the thighs and squeezing it tightly while doing oblique twists, the ball helps me get deeper into the muscles and get them to fatigue quicker = less time needed in the gym!  (with more results!)
  • The ball can also be used behind a bent knee (down on hands and knees) to get deeply into the seat muscles and back of thigh.
  • The ball is lightweight and can be deflated/inflated, making it again an easy one for travel (if you are going somewhere you can pump it back up).  The only downfall to this one is when you’re using it, don’t be surprised if your kids and/or pets want to join in!  ;-)
 3. MUSIC!!!  Whatever device you prefer (ipod, phone, etc) GOOD TUNES can help take you from feeling sluggish to AMPED UP!!  Music helps me turbo-charge my workouts and make every minute count!  I choose songs that will B UPLIFTING and put me in a GOOD MOOD!
There you have it!  My top 3!

Your turn! What makes your list of gym bag essentials?

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It’s the 3 Little Things: Marriage Boost, Family Games, and Vinyl Perfection

January 9th, 2015

3_little_things

It is so good to be back with you this week! I am so excited about our m challenge focus on the site and I loved reading your enthusiasm about this too. I hope you enjoyed the first week of posts as we explore our health and fitness topic.  As promised, I also wanted to continue our regular features that you love so this will be the first 3 Little Things for 2015 since I know you love it so much.

As a confession, I did have to tweak my fashion capsule so I rebooted it after a month of fumbling along and then getting some key pieces as holiday gifts, so I am restarting my Project 333 officially on December 22nd pushing me out to March, which will be great for timing anyway with my Spring wardrobe.  I will update the photos in my fashion capsule so you can follow along, but have a need to be honest about all of that since this was my first winter wardrobe and I am still learning right along with you.

Here is what is making me happy this week!

our-q-and-a

Our Q & A a Day: 3 Year Journal for Two People

After being married for almost 15 years,  you would think that I would know all there is to know about my husband. Turns out, not the case.  I happened upon this Our Q&A a Day 3 Year Journal and thought it might be a fun way to tackle two important things to me- communicating with my spouse and keeping a journal.  Each day there is a writing prompt like, “What feels vitally important right now,” or “Do you have enough independence,” for example. On one page, there is room for three years that gives each person the opportunity to write a line or two to answer the question. Each year, you answer the same question so you begin to see how your answers have changed each year.

We have this on our bed and I move it to his side after I fill it out. I look forward so much to reading his responses and it has been a good way to begin talking about things that we didn’t even know were important to each other.

This is going to be my new go-to present for weddings because I can’t imagine what my answers would have been in those first three years of marriage versus where I am in my (almost) 15th year. I HIGHLY recommend this for relationship building.

tapple

Tapple

Each year the grandparents send a little spending money for us to purchase Christmas gifts. This year we used the money to get a couple of games for the kids to play over their holiday break.  Tapple was a game that our whole family loved and every family member could play.  The object of the game is very simple and there aren’t a lot of rules.  There are a set of cards that tell you a topic like, “Pizza Toppings” or “Animals at the Zoo.” You start the timer and then you try to think of a word that starts with each available letter on the game board that fits under that category. If you can’t get it under the allotted time, you are out, and play continues with the remaining players.

The kids absolutely loved this and really loved making up their own categories (an option available on the cards) to create their own game like, “Words to Describe Our Cat Lulu,” or “What Mom Is Like Before Her Coffee” (hardy-har-har!)  We all LOVED this game and it is going to be one of those things we can do together on family nights. If you are looking for a new game for the collection, I recommend this one for a really fun time!

ella-and-louis-vinyl

Ella & Louis On Vinyl

I only asked for one record this year for Christmas and it was this reissued Ella & Louis on vinyl.  My in-laws gave me this album for Christmas and I am pretty sure it is going to be a permanent fixture on our turntable.  The two of these voices together is absolutely magical and the song selections are sheer perfection.  I wish everyone could experience this and at a mere $22, it can be had for a steal! It’s a must for vinyl collectors simply for that adorable cover alone.

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though. Check out past editions of  It’s the 3 Little Things

Now it’s your turn! What’s making you happy this week?

 

Slow Cooker Creamy Coconut Oatmeal

January 8th, 2015

slow-cooker-creamy-coconut-oatmeal-5

It’s become an embarrassing pattern of mine to make a resolution every year to be better about eating breakfast. Each time, I start on the path towards healthy eating. However, as life becomes fuller and mornings more hectic, I find that eating a good breakfast often gets pushed to the side.

This year, I discovered how invaluable my slow cooker was in creating a beautiful, hot breakfast for my entire family that I could serve in the morning and enjoy for mornings to come. I could also serve it as a midday pick-me-up or as a healthy late- night snack. The discovery might seem a bit old-fashioned, but a batch of oatmeal is a great way to start the day. This isn’t just any old oatmeal though—this oatmeal is made from delicious steel cut oats.

Today I am sharing a trick to get the creamiest oats ever that will transform your mornings and your life. Did I mention that you don’t even have to clean the slow cooker after you make them? YOU MUST READ THIS!

Join me over on the Kenmore Blog as I share my tips & tricks for a delicious gluten-free and dairy-free slow cooker creamy coconut oatmeal bowl for your busy week!

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Get Fit on a Small Budget: My Fitness Confession

January 8th, 2015

Get Fit on a Small Budget

I have to admit that I am doing a few things that I don’t feel entirely comfortable with today. I am sharing with you a very vulnerable place in my heart, I am exposing a time in my life that I wasn’t the most proud of, I am sharing one picture (of many) of a person that I don’t really recognize, and I am telling you that I am trying to be different…knowing that saying it out loud is the hardest part.

Get Fit on a Small Budget

In my college years, after numerous indecisions about what I wanted to do with my life, I settled on a career path in Food & Nutrition. While learning about the formula for calories, flunking my cooking class twice, and taking courses on exercise and physiology, I became a blimped out version of my former self. I ate out almost every single day, stopped exercising, partied hard, and lived a sedentary life. My hair suddenly became greasy, my face was shiny all of the time, I had chronic stomach problems, exercise-induced asthma, chronic back pain, high cholesterol, and I need to nap because I was constantly tired. Freshman 15 would have been mild compared to the Freshman 35 that I put on. It was such a gradual process that I don’t think I even realized what was happening.

So gradual, in fact, that I found it strange when I overheard a guy friend say that I had a pretty face and would be cute if I could just lose some weight.

I was that girl now.

I bring this up because I know that sometimes it can be hard to relate to someone if you don’t see the struggle, the work, and the decisions that are made daily to accomplish their current body, and the daily commitment that is made after you have reached your personal goals for fitness or weight loss.

Get Fit on a Small Budget

In my thirties, I am in better shape than I ever was in my teen or college years. My skin is great, I no longer take any medications, I have no chronic health conditions, I am at a healthy weight for my body, and I am proud to show my kids that physical fitness is an essential part of my day.  When a ten minute workout would have winded me before, I can now run on my treadmill miles at a time.

Each day that I put in my exercise time, I remind myself that I am running and exercising against a family history of diabetes, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, low bone density, stomach problems.

I am running towards quality time with the people I love.

How is fitness and frugality related? Well, frankly, it is simple… the more fit you are, the less you pay in medication and doctor visits. Fitness doesn’t require a big investment at all, but it is an investment that will pay off for years and years down the road.

Get Fit on a Small Budget

Connect your workouts with your passions

Working out used to be a real struggle for me. Each day working out was a hurdle for me. It was something that I felt compelled to fight against my weight and health problems, but it never was enjoyable or something I looked forward to. All of this changed with a Groupon that I snagged for a local dance fitness studio. Some of my best childhood memories were dancing on a stage and discovering that there were dance classes for adults has reignited my passion for working out.  My biggest struggle now isn’t if I have to go the gym, but when should I LEAVE from the gym.

Abbi said it best in her article that she shared with us this week when she said, “Remember your childhood passion and transition it into your adult life.”

This simple switch really has been the key to my own fitness success this year. Groupons can be a great way to explore a new class or workout routine without making a large investment.  I have tried so many classes and gyms through their offerings and have had great success in adding variety in my workout routines without spending a lot of money.

Get Fit on a Small Budget

Eat healthier during the day

No matter how hard I was exercising, I was still eating whatever I wanted and not seeing the results that I was looking for.  As a mom it can be difficult to not give in and just eat whatever the kids are eating. My days were filled with macaroni, chicken nuggets, crackers, chips, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Unfortunately, that was not filling me up and I would feel hungry throughout the day.

One thing I have found is that starting with a smart menu plan for the week really helps to keep me on track.  Due to some of my own health struggles,  this past year,  I switched to eating gluten-free and it has transformed my life and eating habits. It also requires a lot of thought and planning to execute a health menu plan for us all and keep our family on budget.  Each week I make a batch of slow cooked steel cut oatmeal for the morning,  I try to make a double batch of taco meat so that I can make taco bowls (brown rice, meat, tomatoes, & lettuce, with a little greek yogurt to top) for my lunches, I  keep salad and smoothie fixings in the fridge for quick meals, and always have lots of fruit on hand for snacking.

Double batching items or making a pot of something that can be enjoyed all week are the keys to my success. Where I used to deprive myself of foods to lose and maintain my weight, I now eat what I want, but in moderation.

Although I would love to do all my shopping at an inexpensive market in town, I have found that I can feed our family a lot more healthy food exploring a discount market like ALDI.  One of my favorite offerings from that store is their produce picks of the week that have been deeply discounted for the week. Now it isn’t an issue to splurge on lots of fresh fruits and veggies since the price fits right in my budget and I work to incorporate this weekly produce item in our cooking for the week to keep our grocery budget on track.

Be frugal, but make wise fitness investments

Workout gear can be pricey, but doesn’t need to be. This is the time of year when workout gear is deeply discounted and the best time to stock up thanks to those semi-annual sales. The shops know that many of us are making resolutions to get back in shape and they drop the prices on fitness equipment in anticipation of this.

I get a lot of my workout gear from the Danskin brand for Walmart because most of my key pieces are $15 or less. I also have found that if I want to get brand name workout gear I check sites like Twice or Thredup for the expensive gear I want, but at half the price. Many people I know have had great success purchasing coveted brands like Lululemon on eBay as well.  If you want quality pieces, you can find them through these secondhand retailers.

One investment that you shouldn’t skimp on though is a good pair of workout shoes.  While new tennis shoes were a big investment for me, they are an investment that has really paid off and allowed me to workout longer and not feel achy after my workouts. Different activities require different types of shoes and being properly fitted is key to preventing injuries.

Don’t be afraid to make an investment if it will improve your fitness experience and help your endurance levels with working out. My tennis shoes are just one example of something that had held me back from feeling my best, and something that has made a huge difference in my motivation to keep moving.

Switch up your routines

If you are hitting a plateau in your fitness routine, then it might be time to switch things up a bit. For many years I had been working out at home. I found a lot of variation in my routine compliments of the library and the DVD’s that they offered.  Now I have joined a gym, which I consider one of the wisest investments that I have made. Since I am frugal, I try to be there 4-5 days a week (at least) so that I can really get every dollar out of my monthly membership, bringing the class prices down to around $3 each.

Think about what you are spending your money on and see if it could be allocated to something healthier. Do you have a movie club membership or premium cable plan? What if you put that money towards a gym membership instead?  With my cable plan and my movie membership, I felt forced to sit in front of the boob tube. After canceling the movie membership, I have felt less dedicated to television time and more dedicated to the things that matter most to me.

Workout buddies can be a wonderful way to keep on track with your fitness too. Having a commitment to others or making social engagements with them after your workouts can be a great way to stay on track with your goals while building lasting friendships.

Turn off distractors

The hardest part of working out for me are all of the distractors that can pull me away from my goals. I make deals with myself where I am not allowed to login to Twitter, Facebook, or my email until my workout is complete. What distracts you from reaching your goals? Some distractors (our children, for example) are more difficult to reduce, but many are silly things that could be pushed aside until your workout is done. I decided to take this all a step further this year and stopped updating my personal Facebook page after discovering just how draining these distractions were to my energy levels and time.

Get Fit on a Small Budget

(my beautiful inspiration)

Get inspired

What inspires you? Is it a picture of your former self on your fridge, is it having an awesome workout buddy that you can check-in with, is it reading the victory stories of weight-loss from other bloggers? Is it your beautiful children?

Whatever it is, get inspired and try starting a new workout routine today.

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Amy’s Notebook 01.07.15

January 7th, 2015

alisa-burke-in-the-kitchen via Design Mom

Source: Design Mom

 

Living with Kids: A Look Back at 2014 is eye candy for my home for miles!

Best Books of 2014 = more library requests.

And I can’t wait to listen to the year’s best audiobooks!

A reminder to take back pizza night.

Twelve months of organizing through a bag a day challenge.

Six strategies for maximizing the value of a warehouse club.

The paint colors we loved in 2014.

Personal Doormat via A Beautiful Mess

Source: A Beautiful Mess

 

I love a good personalized craft project.

To replace my Serial addiction.

Finding closet contentment.

LOVE this peek into another fashion capsule from Sarah!

I am joining in to read this one.

7 tips to help keep your resolution to declutter.

I love this for many reasons.

amys_notebook

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy then to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!