And So It Begins…

Yesterday was the day! I started my seven-day clean eating challenge. It has been fairly easy sticking to all the rules, but temptation has found a way to creep in even over these short two days. It may just be me, but doesn’t it always seem like your cravings for junk food reach an all time high the moment you start a diet. Suddenly those ice cream, pizza, and cheeseburger commercials are everywhere. I have never wanted a brownie sundae as bad as I have these past two days.

But I am strong. So instead of focusing on everything I won’t be able to eat this week, I am going to turn my attention to all of the yummy things I can eat.

It has been surprisingly fun planning out my meals and snacks for the day. I did a big meal prep on Sunday night and made enough food to last me until Friday. I chose Sunday to cook everything because it’s the least busiest day of the week for me. Using that time to prepare everything has really simplified my eating process. I don’t have to spend a lot of time in the kitchen; and packing my lunch and snacks for school has been a breeze.

Here is what I ate for the first two days.

Breakfast

IMG_5054two hard boiled eggs, two strips of turkey bacon, and avocado chunks

I was worried that I wasn’t going to have enough time to make breakfast in the mornings because of how early I have to get up and how often I hit the snooze button. But this meal didn’t require much supervision. When I woke up, I put two eggs in a pot of water on the stove and let them boil. The eggs took about twenty minutes, but I used that time to get ready for practice. It only takes me fifteen minutes to get ready, so I used the remaining five minutes to cook the turkey bacon. You can either cook turkey bacon in the microwave or on the stove. I usually use a microwave because it’s so quick, but I my roommate’s and I are currently without a microwave, so stove it was! After everything was done cooking, I took out my avocado from the refrigerator (that I cut up the night before) and added it to my plate. It took just a little over twenty minutes to have everything done and ready to eat.

Snack 1

IMG_5070smoothie and half a grapefruit

I love love love smoothies. I drink at least 5 smoothies a week. So this was definitely my favorite snack. The smoothie I made had frozen banana, strawberry, pineapple, and mango in it. I used orange juice for the base. Along with the smoothie I had half a grapefruit. Sometimes grapefruit can be really sour, but I was lucky enough to get a sweet one. I have become a super speedy smoothie maker, so this snack only took about five minutes to put together.

Lunch

IMG_5035spinach and mixed greens salad with grilled chicken

This salad was pleasing to the eye and to the stomach. On Sunday night I chopped up onion, tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, and avocado so that I wouldn’t have to spend time doing it during the week. I also used my George Foreman to grill a few chicken breast, and I used those to top my salad with. The dressing that I put on the salad was a balsamic and red wine vinaigrette. Usually salads get a bad rep for being bland and boring, but this salad has so much color and flavor; I can’t wait to make it again.

Snack 2

IMG_5074bread-less sandwich

I started making this type of sandwich after I saw my strength coach, Dylan Hall, eating one. You make it by taking two slices of cheese and filling them will everything you’d normally put in a sandwich. To me, it is just as satisfying as a traditional sandwich. I started with two slices of swiss cheese, then added slices of honey roasted turkey breast, salami, lettuce, tomato, and onion. I also put a sprinkle of Italian seasoning and a dab of mustard.

Dinner

IMG_5073taco salad

Tacos are my favorite food ever, but the fried shells aren’t the most health friendly. So instead of making tacos, I made taco salad. I cooked ground turkey meat on Sunday night and chopped up the lettuce, tomato, onion, and avocado. Out of all the meals, this one is probably the easiest to throw together. All I have to do is warm up the meat, and then put all the toppings in a bowl.

 

So there you have it. That is what I ate for the past two days. Doesn’t sound too bad does it? I don’t think I’ll have a problem completing this challenge, because all the food I’ve made so far has been delicious! I’ll keep you guys updated on how things go the rest of the week.

SK’s Food Of The Day

GRAPES

The Greek Gods realized the benefits of this little round fruit, so you should too! They help fight cancer and kidney stones, high blood pressure, and they can strengthen your eyes. Grapes are easily transportable, so there’s no reason not to include them in your diet.

Feeling inspired? Let me know what you think about this post in the comments section below!

Sommer Picked A Challenge!

Last week I wrote about three different diets, gluten-free, vegetarian, and clean eating, and the benefits of turning them into a lifestyle. All three of the diets presented many health benefits, so I decided to try one out. After a week of weighing the pros and cons I have finally decided which diet I am going to try.

And the winner is……..clean eating!!!!

I chose clean eating because it is the easiest to adapt to my current lifestyle. I already try to stay away from ultra-processed foods, so that won’t be much of a challenge. This diet will force me to stay hydrated because I will have to drink two liters of water a day. The hardest part of this diet will be how frequently I have to eat. I’ll have to eat five times a day; three meals and two snacks. Eating this often will be challenging because I am extremely busy during the day. I leave my house at five thirty in the morning and don’t get back until seven thirty at night. Prepping my meals and packing a lunch is going to be crucial if I want to have success with this diet! I really hope that I can turn this one week trial diet into a lifestyle.

Kickboxing Update

Yesterday my teammate Kinsey and I went to a kickboxing class at 9Round, and it was awesome. We both went in a little intimidated and not knowing what to expect. But everything turned out just fine. The instructor was very friendly and was thorough in explaining each move. The workout was split up into nine, three minute rounds. The rounds consisted of core work, jumping, kicking, and a lot of punching. It was the first time I ever had boxing gloves on; so that was pretty awesome. At the end of the workout I was dripping sweat, and it felt great. This is a great workout option for anyone who is short on time, because it only takes thirty minutes. I will definitely be going back.

SK’s Food Of The Day

AVOCADO

Avocados are the perfect addition to any summer meal. They’re a delicious way to get your serving of “healthy” fat. Avocados can be sliced up and put on a sandwich or salad. Or they can be mixed together with tomato, onion, and cilantro to make guacamole, which is my personal favorite.

Feeling inspired? Let me know what you think about this post in the comments section below!

An Interview with Nevada’s Weight Lifting Connoisseur: Dylan Hall

When you walk into the weight room at the University Of Nevada you’ll see a number of things: athletes stepping on the scale for a weekly weigh in, a football player getting his mind right for max squat day, volleyball players lining up to get their daily recovery shakes, etc. Along with an abundance of my fellow Nevada athletes, you will see our amazing strength and conditioning coaches. Everyday they’re there planning workouts, teaching proper technique, and helping us reach our highest potential. All of our coaches love what they do; we witness their passion for it every day. But there is one coach whose drive and enthusiasm is a little more blatant than the others, and that’s Dylan Hall.

IMG_4967Coach Hall was born and raised in Gig Harbor, Washington, and came to Nevada just three years ago. He is only twenty-six years old, but already he has learned what it takes to train a Division 1 sports team. The amount of time and effort that coach Hall puts in for his teams is very inspiring. I am lucky enough to reap the benefits of his labor, because coach Hall is the strength and conditioning coach for me and the rest of the volleyball team. I sat down with coach Hall last Thursday to talk to him about the role that weight lifting plays in an athlete’s career. What he had to say is something that all athletes need to hear. 

Why is it important for athletes to lift weights?

Lifting weights is critical to injury prevention. When you’re stronger you can accelerate and decelerate better. Weak muscles cause for high chance of injury because your body isn’t able to completely control itself. A strong muscle is a resilient one.

Why are olympic lifts beneficial?

IMG_4980Olympic lifts (clean and jerk, snatch) teach you to accelerate your body while applying and absorbing force. These movements require you to extend your hips and apply a great amount of force to the ground, and then absorb all of that force when catching the weight. There are direct correlations between these olympic lifts and sport specific movements. Take for example a volleyball player whose sport is filled with a lot of starting, stopping, jumping, and landing. If that volleyball player is strong in the movements of accelerating her body, applying force, and absorbing it, then she will be able to react quicker, jump higher, and land safer. These lifts allow you to apply a lot more force due to the strength you have built up from doing them. Along with added strength, olympic lifts give you more total body awareness and control. The movements put a lot of muscles and joints to use, so you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck.

What is your favorite olympic lift?

The clean. Hands down. It’s such a complex movement that requires a lot of strength, power, and coordination. Strength to pull the weight off the floor, power to get underneath the weight and catch it, and coordination to absorb it. Cleans are a very technical lift and can be hard to master, but once you get them down, they are a beautiful thing to watch.

Why is recovery so important?

IMG_4989Recovery is HUGE. You need to be able to recover within the day, week, month, and season. We want to be able to get the most out of your body everyday that we train, and we can’t do that if you aren’t recovering properly. As a strength and conditioning coach, it is my job to devise training programs that allow for recovery in-between sessions. I can’t make my athletes squat heavy every single day and expect them to perform at a high level. Your recovery depends on two things; sleep and nutrition. Training at a high level breaks your body down, but the right amount of sleep and a healthy diet allows your body to build itself back up.

What is the most important reason to engage in strength training?

The most important reason to engage in strength training is so you can experience longevity and success in your athletic career. If you’re always hurt you won’t have the opportunity to even have an athletic career. We see this more and more often nowadays. We are living in a day and age where athletes have a high playing age; meaning kids start playing sports extremely young. The focus is placed on sport specific skill and ability, and not strength training. When these kids grow up and start playing at a high level, their skills are out of this world, but they aren’t able to do basic body movements. Their general preparedness and strength level is greatly lacking. Because of the missing strength, we see a lot of over-use injuries. Injuries that can be prevented with simple strength training.

 

I thought I knew a lot about weight lifting already, but after my interview with coach Hall I realized there’s so much more to learn. Lifting weights is not just about getting big muscles; it’s about strengthening those muscles so they are able to withstand the pressures of your sport.

SK’s Food Of The Day

BELL PEPPERS

Bell peppers are often mistaken for vegetables, but these colorful guys are actually fruit. They rank very high when it comes to nutritional value; promoting eye health, cell renewal, and powerful immune systems. You can chop them up and add them to a savory dinner, or capture the sweetness by eating them raw!

Feeling inspired? Let me know what you think about this post in the comments section below!

Fun Summer Fitness

I’m just going to go ahead and make the assumption that the majority of Americans have a love hate relationship with working out. It is something we all make plans to do, but then when the time rolls around to get up and do it, memories of crazy muscle soreness and feeling like you’d never walk again creep back into our minds, and suddenly we make up a million and one excuses about why we shouldn’t get off the couch and go work out. Excuses like “I’m too tired,” “I just don’t have enough time,” or “The Bachelorette is on; I can’t miss a rose ceremony.” Trust me I’ve heard and used them all.

I have been blessed with the opportunity to play Division 1 volleyball, which means mandatory workouts, and I wouldn’t dare make an excuse to miss one of those. But working out on my own is a different story. When the weekend rolls around and I am exhausted from another long week of training, the last thing I want to do is go to the gym and do a boring workout. So to shake up my weekend workouts, I try to find new and exciting classes to take. Exercise classes are a fun way to meet people in your community, experience new things, and burn a lot of calories. My teammates and I brainstormed and came up with a lot of fun class ideas to try this summer. We thought of so many classes, way too many to get done with only two months of summer left, so I narrowed it down to four. Zumba, Spin, Kickboxing, and Bikram Yoga.

1. Zumba

Zumba is one big dance party. It’s infused with every type of music and dance style you can imagine. Everything from salsa, to mambo, to hip-hop. Over the years Zumba classes have gained popularity because of their energetic and spontaneous nature. Each class is typically an hour long session that includes exercising to both fast and slow music, as well as resistance training. My teammates and I plan on taking a class at Z Body Fitness. They offer a wide variety of Zumba classes, and only charge an $8 drop in fee. Out of the four classes we came up, Zumba will definitely generate the most laughter.

2. Spin

Indoor cycling or “spinning” is creative way to remain stationary during a workout and still get your butt kicked. With the guidance of the instructor, you and your classmates will pedal along to music, leaving a puddle of sweat behind you. Sessions range from 35 to 75 minutes, helping you burn up to 900 calories. Sign me up! I have been wanting to take a spin class for so long and now I finally am. Soul Space offers 14 different types of classes, so my teammates and I will have a lot to choose from. Spin classes are a great way to workout with friends, and finally not get in trouble for riding a bike without a helmet!

3. Kickboxing

If you’re looking for a workout that makes you “feel the burn” then kickboxing is for you. It targets your arms, shoulders, abs, thighs, and butt all in one workout. One of these workouts can have you burning up to 800 calories an hour. Phew! On top of it being a great way to exercise, it can also be an amazing stress reliever. You’ll be able to release any built up emotions or tension. 9Round Fitness is a kickboxing studio that focuses on getting in, and getting out. Each session is only 30 minutes, but don’t let the short half hour fool you, you will be dead tired. Your first workout is always free, which is perfect for my teammates and I who are poor college students. I can’t wait to try it!

4. Bikram Yoga

When it comes to techniques, Bikram yoga is pretty similar to traditional yoga. But there is one factor that puts Bikram yoga in a completely different category; it is HOT HOT HOT. The room that Bikram yoga is practiced in is kept at 104 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity of 40%. Each session is 90 minutes long and consists of the same 26 poses. I’m already sweating just thinking about it. I have taken Bikram yoga classes before and I’ll be honest, you never get used to that heat. But once it’s over, you leave feeling so relaxed and refreshed. Even though it may seem a little bit like torture, there are a lot of health benefits. The heavy sweating that takes place helps to flush toxins from your skin, and the heat warms up your muscles so you can safely go into postures. Juice Box Yoga offers some great classes, and they give student discounts. Score! I am so excited to take this class with my teammates; maybe it won’t be as bad if I have people doing it with me.

Working out doesn’t have to be a boring, routine thing. It can be exciting and challenging all at the same time. All of these classes are fun and out of the ordinary, so I know I won’t be making excuses and reasons not to go. I’m actually really excited to take every single one of them. I’ll keep you guys posted after each class to let you know how they went!

SK’s Food Of The Day

ASPARAGUS

Asparagus is a great source of fiber, vitamins A, C, E and K, and has powerful disease fighting capabilities. It has even been shown to slow down the aging process. Put asparagus in a soup, on a salad, or eat it alone as a side. This javelin-shaped vegetable will protect your body and surely satisfy your taste buds.

Feeling inspired? Let me know what you think about this post in the comments section below!

Sommer’s Summer Challenge

These days it seems like everyone is looking for something new and hip to try, and healthy eating and exercise challenges are what’s in right now. There’s the 30 day beach body challenge, the 30 day squat challenge, the paleo diet, and even the Beyonce diet. Yes, that’s right. Beyonce now has her own diet (which I am very tempted to try) that supposedly gives you a physique similar to the songstress. But come on, let’s be honest. Can anyone ever achieve the perfection that is Beyonce? Regardless of the effectiveness of these diets and challenges, people are doing them.

I decided to do some research on the matter, and found that not all exercise challenges and diets are for show. There were actually a number of diets that seemed to be beneficial and quite easy to do. Just to clarify, the diets that I researched do not focus on weight loss (although that is always an added benefit), the sole purpose is to create a healthier, longer life for the dieter. These diets are meant to be long term and turn into a lifestyle, not just a weekly fad.

There are numerous benefits that come from living these healthy lifestyles that I researched, and I’m all about that. Gluten-free, vegetarian, and clean eating all bring something unique and valuable to the table when it comes to life. So now I’m very intrigued! I am going to try out one of these three lifestyles. For 7 days I will abide by the rules, and if after the 7 days I think it’s something I could transform into a lifestyle, I will! But first, I have to pick one.

Gluten-Free

I hear gluten-free and the first thing I think of is no more Olive Garden bread sticks. I knew that eating bread was out of the question on a gluten-free diet, but I wasn’t really sure what else the diet ruled out. A gluten-free diet is one that excludes the protein gluten, which is found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. This diet is used mainly to treat celiac disease, but those without celiactic symptoms can also benefit from it. Removing gluten from your diet can reduce inflammation and the pain that comes with it.

Due to me being an athlete, reduced inflammation is a huge plus. I am constantly putting my body through strenuous workouts and practices, and I frequently suffer from minor injuries. The severity of inflammation that happens in those injuries is what can take them from being minor to major, and I’ll take any opportunity I have to reduce that.

PROS:

  • For the most part, I have already cut bread out of my diet, so that won’t be a hard adjustment
  • I can eat a lot of fruits and veggies
  • I found this gluten free blueberry banana muffin recipe that looks yummy

CONS:

  • It may be hard to determine what foods contain gluten
  • A lot of sauces and condiments have gluten in them, so goodbye to those

Vegetarian

I have a lot of friends who have tried to become vegetarians, but they all say the same thing; they miss the meat. I do love a good steak, but I don’t think I would care that much if I couldn’t eat it anymore. I do however think I would miss dairy products. So the type of vegetarian lifestyle I am considering is called lacto-ovo. This means that I would cut out all meat, fish, and poultry, but not dairy products or eggs.

Not eating meat can be beneficial in many ways. You are more likely to avoid diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease, which increases your chances of living a longer life. Also, your cholesterol levels will be much lower. The vegetarian diet has been shown to reduce levels of “bad” cholesterol; the one that clogs coronary arteries. You will also maintain a lower body weight while being a vegetarian. This is somewhat beneficial to me since the lower my body weight, the quicker and more explosive I’ll be on the court.

PROS:

  • I can eat a lot of fruits and veggies
  • It will make me lighter on my feet
  • There are a wide variety of foods that fit this diet

CONS:

  • No meat!
  • I may not be able to get the daily dose of protein I need

Clean Eating

Out of all three, clean eating is the only diet I had some prior knowledge about. To me, eating clean is just eating healthy. Once I did more research I found that clean eating isn’t really a diet, it’s more of a lifestyle. Clean eating is all about eating fresh, organic, non-processed foods. It also requires you to eat five times a day and drink two liters of water a day.

Partaking in the clean eating diet/lifestyle would be very beneficial to my athletic career. I would always be fully hydrated and would have the fuel I need to tackle my workouts. Also, I would be well rested because the parameters of clean eating promotes sounder sleep, which will surely improve my workouts.

PROS:

  • It won’t require many changes; I already eat pretty clean
  • I will finally drink the amount of water I need to

CONS:

  • No more processed foods
  • I may not have time to eat so frequently

So now that you know more about the three diets/lifestyles I’m considering, it would be great if you could help me choose one! I’d love it if you would comment below and tell me your suggestions or opinions. With your help I will make my decision and start this 7 day challenge on Monday, June 29th. I can’t wait to get started!

SK’s Food Of The Day

Unknown

 

CANTALOUPE

Cantaloupe is jam-packed with Vitamin C and Vitamin A. Eating a slice of this can help lower blood pressure and keep your skin moisturized. You can cut up this juicy fruit and put it on a salad, or eat it by itself; either way it’s delicious.

Feeling inspired? Let me know what you think about this post in the comments section below!

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Crockpot Cookin’: Lemon Pepper Chicken Thighs

Every Sunday I try to cook a big meal that will last me through a decent portion of the week. I’ve recently just started using my crockpot for Sunday meal prep, and I absolutely love it! Crockpot meals are perfect for when I’m low on time or when I just don’t feel like standing around in a kitchen all day. Today I was super busy with homework, church, and team stuff, and I just didn’t have the time to prepare dinner. So instead, I let my crockpot make dinner for me. I found this recipe online (lemon pepper chicken thighs) and thought I’d give it a try; it was amazing! All I had to do was mix a few ingredients with the chicken, add it to the crockpot, put the lid on, and walk away. In just 4 hours I had a perfectly cooked meal that required less than 15 minutes of prep. Below are some pictures of the process!

                   BEFORE                                                                                      AFTER

IMG_4878                           IMG_4879

Here are pictures of the chicken before and after it was done cooking. I added a few lemon slices for fun. It was so easy putting this together. I mixed all of the ingredients right in the bottom of the pot, and once that was finished I added the chicken. After coating the chicken with the mixture, I set the crockpot to cook on high for 4 hours, and then I walked away. Easy!

 

IMG_4893After the 4 hours was up, I put the chicken on a baking sheet and placed them in the broiler for about 10 minutes. This was just to brown them a little. In order to complete this meal I made brown rice and steamed asparagus. All in all this meal took about 4.5 hours, but I was only in the kitchen for 45 minutes! I will definitely make this again.

 

SK’s Food Of The Day

Orange-Carrots-Health-Benefits-Carrots

CARROTS

Everybody knows that eating carrots can help improve vision, but did you know that carrots can also help prevent cancer? Along with its cancer-fighting qualities, they have also been shown to slow down the aging process and promote healthier skin. Why do apples get all the glory? Sounds to me like a carrot a day keeps the doctor away!

Feeling inspired? Let me know what you think about this post in the comments section below!

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Guilt-Free Father’s Day Favorites

Father’s Day is tomorrow and I know we’re all trying to figure out that perfect gift to get dad. He already has a lifetime supply of ties, cufflinks, and “world’s greatest dad” mugs. So what is there to get a man that has everything? Well when it comes to my dad, a sure way to his heart is food. But it’s not just the food, it’s all the fun that comes with it. I have so many memories of my family sitting around the table eating, laughing, and having amazing conversations. The food was always delicious and the company was always comforting.

When trying to figure out what type of meal to make for my dad, it only took me a few seconds. Breakfast; of course. Sunday morning breakfast is somewhat of a tradition in the King household. We come home from church, change back into our pajamas, chow down on a great meal, and then fall asleep watching TV. My dad isn’t really a picky eater when it comes to breakfast foods, but he does have a few favorite items. So as a Father’s Day gift, I decided to make all his favorite things, but the healthy way!

Father’s Day Feast 2015IMG_4758

Banana protein pancakes

Cheesy scrambled eggs

Sweet and savory potatoes

Turkey sausage patties

Banana protein pancakes: There’s nothing like warm fluffy pancakes in the morning. But all that sugar, butter, and flour does nothing but slow you down for the rest of the day. Protein pancakes are a great alternative to the classic box pancakes because you can indulge without feeling like you’re cheating. The protein powder in them acts as sweetener, so syrup isn’t even needed. This recipe is a great way to utilize any fruit or spices you have sitting around. I chose to make banana pancakes since I always have bananas on my counter, but can never eat them all before they go bad; however, you can use any kind of fruit you want. I also added a dash of cinnamon to the mixture to spice things up!

Cheesy scrambled eggs: My dad makes the best scrambled eggs, so the pressure was on with this dish. Scrambled eggs are a tasty classic; but putting cheese on them takes it to another level. To make this dish a little healthier, I cut out the salt and cut back on the cheese. I still wanted the eggs to have a good flavor, so in place of the salt I added a couple sprinkles of garlic powder. When it came to the cheese instead of putting in multiple handfuls (trust me I wanted to) I just used one tablespoon for every two eggs. This way, you get the taste of cheesy goodness without all the consequences.

Sweet and savory potatoes: This dish didn’t really need a lot of adjustments. The proper serving of potatoes can actually be very nutritious. But I decided to put a little twist on classic breakfast potatoes by adding sweet potatoes to the mix. This recipe packs so much flavor with just a few simple ingredients. Along with minced garlic, I added black pepper and just a pinch of sea salt for even more flavor.

Turkey sausage patties: There is one thing that will forever make me think of my dad, and that’s sausage patties. Growing up I could always count on Jimmy Dean to make an appearance at breakfast. And while those pork sausage patties might have been tasty, they weren’t the healthiest things in the world. When compared to pork, turkey sausage has almost half the calories, half the fat, and almost double the protein. The turkey sausage that I used may be healthier, but it still has a great flavor that reminds me of my childhood.

Because of my busy schedule I won’t get to be home tomorrow for Father’s Day, so I’m dedicating this meal to you, dad. I had so much fun making this, and thought of you the whole time. I’ll be home soon so we can make it together!

SK’s Food Of The Day

Cherries_May31

CHERRIES

Cherries may look small, but they are packed with all kinds of nutritional value. Not only are they sweet treats, but they can reduce belly fat, inflammation, and muscle pain. These guys aren’t around all year long, but you’re in luck, cherry season is right now! So go to your local farmer’s market or grocery store and pick some up today.

Feeling inspired? Let me know what you think about this post in the comments section below!

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5 Ways to Improve Your Workouts

o-WORKING-OUT-facebookBeing a Division 1 athlete comes with a lot of high expectations. Among other things, you are expected to constantly improve your strength and conditioning level. Those athletes who are stronger and in better shape typically see their sport specific skills improve. That is why it is so important for their workouts to be effective and challenging. The effectiveness of your workout can be affected by so many things, like the time of day, your mood, what you ate, and much more. It can be a huge struggle finding the right foods to eat before a workout, or staying awake and alert during an early morning session; trust me I understand. That is why I want to provide you all with some personal insight on the matter. Here are 5 things you can do before and after your workouts in order to make them more effective.

1. Get more sleep

Sleeping more always sounds like such an obvious answer to performing better, but it is one of the hardest things to do. For people with busy schedules, athletes specifically, there sometimes are just not enough hours in the day. Setting aside enough time for sleep can be an afterthought that we tend to sweep under the rug. Sleep depravation slows down your reaction time, increasing your risk for injury. Catching more z’s will make you more alert during your workout and enable you to focus better. This task may be difficult for some, but if you commit to getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night, you’ll see small but critical improvements in your workout.

2. Quench that thirst

Most athletes think it is enough to only drink water during a workout or practice, and they are so wrong. True hydration comes from drinking 17 to 20 ounces of water 2 to 3 hours before each workout, 8 ounces of water 20 to 30 minutes before your warm-up, 7 to 10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes during your workout, and 8 ounces of water no more than 30 minutes after you exercise. Staying hydrated loosens up your joints, gives you more energy, and decreases the chance of muscle fatigue or cramps. Every athlete can significantly make their workouts better with this simple liquid, so drink up!

3. Become friends with a foam roller

Foam rollers have become the saving grace for athletes all over the world. Using one of these at the begining and end of your workout can help with any soreness in your muscles and joints. Foam rolling can reduce any pain on your body, increase your blood flow, and improve your circulation. Along with foam rolling, you should be stretching before and after each workout. Stretch whatever feels tight, even stretching your feet can release a lot of tension in your body.

4. Take a pre-workout supplement

If you aren’t already, you should really consider taking a pre-workout supplement to improve the quality of your workouts. The main ingredient in these supplements is caffeine. Yup, the stuff that’s in coffee. Caffeine has been shown to be responsible for delaying fatigue during endurance activities, which is awesome for athletes. I like taking a pre-workout supplement because it increases my strength capacity and endurance during workouts. You should try it!

5. Refuel with protein

During a long and grueling workout, your muscles and fibers are being broken down, and after a workout, those muscles and fibers look to be repaired. Protein is a great way to replenish your body of everything it lost. There are a lot of options when it comes to protein, but the quickest and easiest one is to use protein powder. You can mix it with water, milk, or make a shake with it. If you consume some form of protein after every workout, your body will be able to recover and get you ready for the next workout.

All of these tips have helped me with improving my workouts, hopefully you can utilize them too!

SK’s Food Of The Day

ask-me-about-my-banana

BANANAS

If you think bananas are just for monkeys, think again. This yummy fruit helps prevent all kinds of things; like depression, fatigue, cramps, and swelling. Eat it by itself or slice it up and throw it in a smoothie. Whatever you do, just don’t slip on its peel!

Feeling inspired? Let me know what you think about this post in the comments section below!

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Rise and Shine. Breakfast Time: Oatmeal

OatmealEveryone has those early mornings where eating breakfast just doesn’t seem like an option. When you’re pressed for time, getting something of nutritional value in your system is the least of your worries. So I present to you the perfect solution; oatmeal. Oatmeal is hands down my favorite breakfast to make whenever I’m low on time, and that is very often. It is super cheap, takes less than 5 minutes to make, and keeps me full until lunchtime. I eat oatmeal every morning before my 5 a.m. workouts because it is the perfect thing to fuel my body and give it the proper kick-start. There are many people who claim that oatmeal is not actually a healthy breakfast option, but I disagree with them. Not only is oatmeal packed with nutritious benefits, it’s also delicious.

Oatmeal is a whole grain, and whole grains are awesome for you. They can lower your risk for diseases like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. There is a ton of fiber packed into oatmeal; both  soluble and insoluble. The soluble fiber in oatmeal has been shown to lower “bad cholesterol” by up to 15%; which means more properly functioning brains and less stressful lives. The fiber in oatmeal also has the effect of making you feel full for a long time. Unlike fatty and sugary breakfast foods, oatmeal’s fiber sticks your ribs, satisfying you well until your next meal.

Now that you know the health benefits of oatmeal, let’s talk about how to make it tasty. One thing I love about making oatmeal is the wide variety of toppings I can put on it. If you want savory oatmeal, try topping it with bacon, cheddar cheese, or scrambled eggs. If you prefer a sweeter taste, try topping your oatmeal with blueberries, bananas, or sliced almonds.

Here is the oatmeal recipe that I use every morning.

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I buy the 42 oz. container of Quaker Oats Quick 1-Minute Oats. It’s only $3.99 at Target. Occasionally, if I have some in my refrigerator, I top my oatmeal with a handful of blueberries for added flavor. You can use whatever milk you prefer. I like to use whole milk for the extra serving of healthy fats.

If you want more oatmeal inspiration, click here.

SK’s Food Of The Day

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ALMONDS

Almonds are the perfect snack. Packed with Vitamin E and energy boosting Vitamin B2, these heart happy super foods will have you going nuts.

Feeling inspired? Let me know what you think about this post in the comments section below!

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Healthy = Happy

I’d like to know who started the rumor that healthy food is gross, because whoever came up with that idea is completely wrong! Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring if you don’t want it to be. There are all kinds of ways to spice up your healthy food and make it more exciting. Eating tasty food will no doubt please your body, and the new found flavor will indeed transfer over to your life. Not only does eating healthy boost your immune system, give you more energy throughout the day, and insure a longer life, it also makes you happier. Here are 5 benefits of healthy, happy eating.

1. You sleep better

The better you eat, the better you sleep. Eating a consistently healthy diet has been proven to deepen your snooze. The right carbohydrates and fats will put your body right into sleep mode.

2. You look better

Antioxidant filled foods, like berries and fatty fish, keep your skin looking fresh and young. You’ll be getting compliments left and right. Move over botox, healthy food is taking over.

3. You are more focused

When you eat healthy you’re feeding more than just your stomach, you’re feeding your brain too. Nutritious food supercharges your brain, making you ready to focus and tackle any situation. So be conscious of what you put in your body; your brain will thank you.

4. You have more energy

Think of your body as a car, and the food you put in it as the gas. Your car doesn’t run as well with low quality gas, and your body doesn’t function to its highest potential with low quality food! Eating healthy food gives you the proper fuel and energy to take on the day and all its challenges.

5. You are less stressed

Life is stressful, but with the right foods it doesn’t have to be. Eating healthy can help us take the edge off and experience that zen-like state of mind we all so desire. Fruits and vegetables like berries, oranges, asparagus, and avocado will have you living a stress-free life, so stock up!

When it comes to healthy food, the days of celery sticks and rice cakes are over! Say goodbye to Popeye and his bland, boring spinach and say hello to new and exciting nutritious meals. With a healthy, nutritious diet, you’ll find happiness from things you never thought you could. Eating healthy can be really fun, I’ll show you.

SK’s Food Of The Day
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KIWI

Kiwi’s are a sweet and simple way to get your serving of antioxidants. Throw it in a smoothie or on top of greek yogurt. One bite of this fruit will have you feeling like you’re on a tropical vacation.

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