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All About the SQUAT

Looking for an effective body resistance exercise that tones your lower body and can boost your overall fitness? Look no further, the squat is the perfect exercise that can dramatically transform your body. Incorporating the squat exercise in your workout routine is very versatile as it can be performed anywhere with different versions and requires no equipment.

Squats can give good results very fast as well as it can help decrease your risk of injury, and keep you moving more easily throughout the day. A few other benefits in adding a squat into your routine is it will help lift and build a better booty, strengthen knees and joints (if performed properly and not injured) (1), will help increase performance by helping you jump higher and run faster, and help build muscle which in end burns more calories.

The major muscles used in this exercised will be the quads, hamstrings, glutes, abs, & calves.

Different Versions of Squats

  • Bodyweight Basic
  • Chair Squat
  • Wall Sit Squat
  • Squat Dumbbell Squat
  • Goblet Squat Barbell Squat
  • Barbell Back Squat
  • Front Squat
  • Split Squat
  • Pile’ Squat
  • Jump Squat
  • Sumo Squat
  • Pistol Squat
  • Overhead Squat

How to do a squat correctly:

  1. Stand with your feet hip/shoulder-width apart, toes facing down, and your arms down by your side.
  2. Start to lower your body back as far as you can by pushing your hips back, bending your knees and placing your body weight into your heels.
  3. As you are lowering into the squat, your arms will start to raise out in front of you for balance.
  4. Keep a neutral spine at all times keeping your head as well as your chest upright and never let your knees go over your toes.
  5. The lower body should be parallel with the floor and your chest should be lifted at all times, not rounded. Go as deep as you can without suffering on your form.
  6. Pause for about 5 seconds, then lift back up in a slow controlled movement to the starting position. Make sure to press through the heels and straighten out the hips when coming back up.

Looking to add some workouts and you don’t know where to start? Maybe you would prefer to have some weekly or monthly workouts delivered through an app that you can complete online anywhere. I can help, I can deliver a workout program weekly with customized workouts tailored to you, with videos on how to perform them, tracking and have the accountably to help you reach your goals, ongoing support and coaching. You still get the benefits of a professional fitness trainer without the hefty per session cost. You can work out anywhere, anytime, and at a schedule that works for you!

For more information, view my online fitness training service below or email me !

#FitnessFriday

*Always contact your physician before performing in type of exercise or nutrition program.

Strawberry Coconut Collagen Smoothie

Collagen supplements and powders have been the rage lately and especially within the last year from putting it in your water to your coffee and much more. Collagen is a major component of connective tissues that make up several body parts, including tendons, ligaments, skin, and muscles (1)

It is an abundant protein in your body that plays an important role in your health and aiding in bringing vitality back into your skin. As we age our collagen production reduces but there are foods we eat that help increase production like bone broth, chicken, egg whites, fish/shellfish, citrus fruits & increase Vitamin C (2). Also eating more of a balanced Whole Foods Diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables can help reduce premature aging but eating too many sugars, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods can accelerate aging. (3 4)

For today’s #WellnessWednesday I have added a quick smoothie recipe that you can throw in your collagen powder or even your protein powder that has collagen included. This recipe is also great without anything but fruit and your milk of choice.

Prep time-5 minutes

  • 1 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 1 Banana (frozen)
  • 1 cup Frozen Strawberries
  • 1/3 oz Collagen Powder
  • 1 tbsp Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract

Place all ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Notes:

Leftovers-Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to one day or freeze into popsicles to enjoy later.

More Flavor-Add honey or maple syrup to taste. Garnish with more shredded coconut.

Make it Vegan-Omit the collagen powder.

More Veggies-Add spinach, kale, frozen cauliflower or zucchini.

No Collagen-Use protein powder instead.

Serving Size-1

Nutritional Facts

Calories 279Fat 6gSaturated 3gPolyunsat 1gMonosat 2g
Carbs 50gFiber 9gSugar 25gProtein 12gCholesterol 0
Sodium 187mgPotas 789mgCalc 498mgVit C 101mgIron 3mg
Per Serving

What are your favorite way to boost your collagen? Have a certain brand you prefer or a certain protein powder that has collagen in the ingredients you would like to share in the comments?

If you wold like a recipe booklet of 7 days worth of healthy smoothies delivered in your inbox, please do not hesitate to email me TODAY!

Meal Prepping 101

Meal Prepping and Planning

Trying to eat healthy seems overwhelming already then add daily stresses of work, trying to squeeze in a workout, having a family, and trying to have a life makes it feel impossible. Let’s face it, many of us having busy schedules, busy lifestyles, weeknight cooking constraints, or plain hunger getting the best of us wanting something now.

In comes meal planning and prepping. Scheduling or putting aside a block of time on the weekend to plan and prep for the week will save your sanity, save you money, save you from making bad choices, help with weight loss or muscle gain, and nourish your body with a healthy balanced meal. Meal prepping also helps you to eat more of a Whole Foods nutritious diet and less processed. You are also able to control what is in your food without the hidden or additional fats, sugars, and processed ingredients in a lot of out to eat meals.

How do you start meal planning and prepping for the week?

Step 1

Plan and schedule. Decide what you would like to have for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks. This can come through looking at Pinterest, searching online, or from your favorite cookbook. Make sure the meals are balanced and healthy. Then schedule some time that works for you on a weekend to prep and cook for the week, making sure you have plenty of leftovers to carry throughout the week. You might even have a little extra to throw in the freezer as a bonus.

Step 2

Cooking & Prep Time! In the beginning, try to not make it complicated. Keep it simple.

You can do batch cooking, make-ahead full meals, or prepare individual containers of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for grab and go for each day. You can also incorporate both, which I do to help switch things up and make life easier. I usually have breakfast prepared in individual containers, snacks, and some lunches when I am out and about but I also have Batch cooking done for dinners, optional lunch/snack days on switching things up. You will find out quickly by experimenting which options work best for you and your lifestyle.

Breakfast Meal Prep Ideas

Smoothies-Smoothies-Having cut up fruit, pints of berries, and frozen fruit makes it easy to throw in a blender to make the next day. Usually, a good base of a smoothie is nondairy or regular milk or yogurt, frozen fruit…banana is always my must-have ingredient for potassium and then I will throw another fruit of choice. Fruit is great for fiber, antioxidants, and much more nutritional factors. Then throw in a handful of Veggies like spinach or kale or cucumbers or carrots or beets. Believe it or not, the fruit overtakes the veggie taste if you are trying to incorporate more veggies but not a fan.

Here is an example recipe for one of my go too smoothies.

Pear-Delicious Green Smoothie

1 1/2 cups Unsweetened Almond Milk
1 Banana (Frozen)
1 Pear
1 cup Baby Spinach
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tbsp Hemp Seeds or Flax Seeds (great for Omega-3s)
1 Scoop of Vanilla Protein Powder (I use Vega One)
Blend all in a blender. If too thick you can add more liquid.

Serving Size -1

Overnight Oats or Cooked Oats-Overnight oats are an easy lazy way to prepare your Breakfast for the week. Throw in 1/2 cup of dry rolled oats & 1 cup of nondairy or regular milk. Then you can stir in yogurt if desired (use less milk), optional protein powder, fresh or frozen fruit, hemp/chia/flax seeds, and even nut butter. If you need a little sweetness you a drizzle maple syrup or chop dates in.

Chia Seed Pudding-Chia pudding is a great quick and easy breakfast to prepare the night before. This Breakfast is chock full of protein, Omega-3s, Fiber, and Antioxidants. If you are looking for a lower carb Breakfast, this a good choice as well. The best starter on making this healthy Breakfast is to add 1/2 cup of nondairy milk, 2 tbs of Chia seeds, 1tsp Vanilla, & a handful fruit of choice. You can also drizzle maple syrup or honey, even diced dates in for added sweetness.

Lunch & Dinner Meal Prep Ideas

Lunch and Dinner are generally easy as you can do batch cooking to have items to throw together and reheat or you can pre-make soup, stews, or meals ahead of time, or both. You can throw different combinations and options in individual containers for your meals on the go this was as well.

Batch Cooking-Cooking sides in batches make life easier and is a lifesaver. You can easily throw sides together with a meal or protein of choice, make a bowl, throw together in a salad, or wrap. The possibilities are limitless and will be so helpful when you get home tired and starved.

  • Oats or Steel Cut Oats (Pre-cook and place in individual containers to have different toppings on each to switch it up)
  • Rice or Quinoa (Great to have on hand to throw in as a side, in a wrap/burrito, salad, or in soup/stews)
  • Vegetables-Roast, steam, or sauté vegetables (Great to have these prepared ahead of time to throw in as a side or pretty much anything)
  • Beans (Having these on hand is a great additional source of Protein and Fiber to have as a side and incorporated in meals)
  • Roasted diced or Baked Sweet Potatoes (Sweet potatoes are very filling, nutritious, high in Fiber, Antioxidants, and are a great choice for any time of the day.) 
  • Fruits-Cut up Raw or Cooked (having fruits cut or prepared are great for snacks, desserts, or to throw in meals)

If you are a meat eater-Batch cooking roasted, baked, grilled, or crockpot-instant pot meats are great to have on hand for lunch/dinners and to throw in anything. If you are not in the mood of cooking, you can always buy a rotisserie chicken to make life easier.

If you want to cut time on cooking or standing over the stove having an instant pot or crockpot will help you be able to multitask and make life easier when meal prepping. Also on lazy days, it is good to have frozen fruits, frozen veggies, frozen or bagged cook rice, or canned items to throw in meals instead of batch cooking.

My usual go to’s for lunch would be a huge salad with beans, veggies roasted or raw, diced roasted sweet potatoes at times or quinoa, and side of high-quality balsamic vinegar to drizzle over. I even throw in everything seasoning by Trader Joe’s or Savory Spice Shop or maybe sprinkle some Hemp Hearts Chipotle or Rosemary garlic hemp seeds. I am also a fan of soups or stews so those are usually my go-to for lunch or dinners as well but I will throw in extra veggies, beans, and quinoa if I am wanting it heartier along with a side salad. Dinner usually would be a bowl of a lot of Batch cooking, an entree I prepared during meal prepping or a large bowl of soup/stew.

Snack ideas

  • Fresh cut of veggies from meal prepping with hummus
  • Fresh raspberries with a little high-quality dark chocolate inside
  • Fresh fruit and nuts
  • Larabar (love they are only 3-5 ingredients)
  • Homemade energy bites or bars
  • Cooked edamame
  • Portion sized Skinny Pop or popcorn
  • Mary Gone Crazy Crackers, Nut Thins, or Pretzel Thins (even homemade crackers) with nondairy cheese or if you eat dairy-laughing cow cheese
  • Apples or banana slices with peanut butter or nut butter of choice

Step 3

Containers & Storage

Having a good supply of containers helps with meal prepping and organizing your refrigerator and organizing your life. You can choose a different variety of sizes of containers, stackable ones, bento boxes, or divided boxes. Glassware is the best as you can easily see the food, they are sturdier, last longer, and you don’t have to worry about chemicals leaching into food. If you don’t want to buy any containers and have plastic ones, that is fine just make sure not to microwave or heat up in the containers.

Step 4

Enjoy

Enjoy the work you put in from the weekend. I understand Meal prepping and planning seems overwhelming, but take it one day at a time. You can always start with meal prepping Breakfast first or snacks, then work on more the next time. I promise you, it will become easier and help you reach your goals along with bringing more healthy eating and less stressed living. Hopefully, this blog has helped to give all you need to slowly get started with meal planning and prepping so you can make life a little easier.

If you have some of your favorite meal prepping or planning tips, please do not hesitate to comment to share.

Also, if you would like to have these helpful tips emailed to you in a pdf booklet or if you would like to sign up for a weekly or monthly meal plan program-please do not hesitate to email me TODAY!

Best Coffee Shops in the Triangle!

There’s nothing better than a cup of coffee to start the day and lucky in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area there are dozens of great local coffee shops throughout the Triangle area.

Here is a list of some of my favorites places and some highly recommended places to try for your next coffee fix.

Sola Coffee

Raleigh, NC

A must visit if you are in the North Raleigh location. Sola Coffee “I Believe In 

Raleigh” coffee shop has a cool atmosphere and also plenty of outdoor sitting. It is my go-to getaway place. They serve a large variety for breakfast, lunch, and light dinner menu including some vegetarian and gluten-free options. They have a variety of Counter Culture coffees for your morning cup of cup or latte, they also have fresh juices to choose from, Kombucha on tap, variety of Toast, bagels, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, mini omelets, homemade baked goodies, smoothies, açaí bowl, salads, soups, small plates, and flatbreads, and of course their famously delicious hot mini donuts. On Saturday morning they have a pop-up market which is always nice to see and fresh flowers.

Jubala Coffee

Raleigh, NC locations

There are a few locations within Raleigh, but my favorite location of Jubala 

Coffee is their Lafayette Village location for the scenery and vibe. They have robust Counter Culture coffee served drip, pour-over, French press, espresso, lattes, cappuccino, or flat white. They also serve freshly baked biscuits, breakfast sandwiches, waffles, and sandwiches or salads for lunch. 

People’s Coffee

South Durham, NC

A unique find in South Durham next to Southpoint Mall is People’s Coffee. You can enjoy a delicious cup of joe or lattes with house-made syrups, a few other steamed drinks including hot chocolate with Chocolate by Videri of Raleigh NC, teas, pre-made juices, smoothies, CBD waters, energy balls, breakfast goodies, toasts, & fresh salads. I like sitting on the outside bar table on lovely weather days. 

Fount Coffee

Morrisville, NC

If you love Smoothie Bowls, then you need to try Fount Coffee. This lovely coffee shop in 

Morrisville is in the Marketplace at Perimeter Park. Fount Coffee prides themselves that their menu is 100% Gluten Free on all dishes. You can find plenty of vegan options. They also serve Counter Culture coffee, lattes, espressos, teas, Kombucha on tap, salads, toasts, baked goods made fresh daily, locally brewed beers and selected wine with small plates. On amazing sunny weather days enjoy sitting outside or inside with the outside feel with their retractable wall that is open.

Namu

Durham, NC

If you haven’t been, it needs to be on your must-try list. Namu is a true hidden gem in Durham. It can be a little hard to find tucked behind some stores along a service road off Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard. For those who seek it out, it will be a true reward with a coffee lovers paradise. It’s part coffee shop part Korean restaurant that has unique and amazing spaces for a meeting, out with friends, or for the perfect coffee date. The spacious and beautiful location has an amazing assortment of indoor and outdoor seating with a total zen feel where you can quietly sip your latte while escaping for daily life stresses. In addition to a full coffee and espresso menu, Namu has an extensive food menu, beer, wine, and some of the best Korean street food around.

Cocoa Cinnamon 

Durham, NC locations

Durham regulars can’t seem to get enough of Cocoa Cinnamon‘s hand-poured robust coffees and their cozy atmosphere. Cocoa Cinnamon serves a variety of different drinks from house made espresso drinks, lattes, chocolate drinks, hot teas, pastries/treats, and there famous fresh churros. There are 3 locations in Durham. 

BEAN TRADERS 

South Durham, NC

A fantastic go to local spot in South Durham. This place has it all, besides a great cup of Joe you can find delicious variety of fresh pies, waffles, baked goods/pastries, quiches, soups, bagels, Vegan/Gluten-Free bakeries, and more. Bean Traders is a great little spot that is a must try for everyone and is hidden spot right off of Fayetteville Road on Hwy. 54 near Southpoint Mall at Homestead Market shopping center — come see what makes this place a unique spot for coffee in Durham.

Coco Bean

Chapel Hill, NC 

Coco Bean is tucked off Hwy 54 near Meadowmont and Fresh Market in East 54 Condo Building. Vegan and gluten free peeps rejoice as you can find plenty of vegan eats and drinks at the coffee shop not to mention even a Vegan Market. Did you know they even have Vegan subscription boxes you can purchase for delivery?

You can also get a variety of lattes, espressos (even CDB & Mushroom coffee), big variety of hot chocolates (I am dying to try the Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate) teas, cold drinks, baked goods/pastries, wine/beer, and much more.

JOE VAN GOGH

Durham, Chapel Hill, & Raleigh 

You can find comfort in a cup and a light food menu options in some of the locations including different toast options, biscuits, fresh fruit parfaits and granolas, baked goods/pastries, and a seasonal salad special or sandwich. Joe Van Gogh has a few great locations in downtown central Durham, South Durham in Woodcroft shopping center, in Chapel Hill at Timberlyne Shopping center, and in Raleigh in Cedar West. 



There are so many other fantastic and unique coffee shops around the Triangle area, what are your favorite go to gems?