Work Week Meal Prep

Sundays are my favorite day to meal prep for the week, and after last weekend–it was needed! I love any form of eggs (egg muffins, scrambled, hard boiled), but this week I decided on egg muffins, one of my favorites.

The reason why I am so drawn to egg muffins and hard boiled eggs is because they are the perfect compliment to my morning shakes. They give you nutrition and the satisfaction of something to eat.

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Egg Muffins: Feel free to use/swap whatever ingredients you like–mushrooms, spinach, etc.
-5 eggs
-1/4-1/2 cup bell peppers (whatever color desired)
-1/4-1/2 cup diced ham
-1/4-1/2 cup turkey sausage crumbles
-1/4 cup shredded cheese
-1/4 tsp desired seasoning (I used pepper)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of the muffin cups with nonstick spray or butter. Mix your eggs in a bowl, add seasoning if desired. Dice and chop whatever ingredients you desire to have in your muffins. Fill the bottom of the muffin cups with your ingredients, evenly distributing between the cups. Fill the cups about 3/4 full with the egg mixture. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top if desired.

Bake the muffins at 350 degrees until they were firm and golden brown. Let them cool and remove from the tins and into a container or plastic bags. They are great warmed up and will last all week.

Lunch: 
For lunch this week, I prepped chicken and rice, enough for the week.

Baked Chicken:
-2 lbs fresh chicken breasts (trim the fat)
-1/2 tsp pepper or your choice of seasoning

Directions: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Trim excess fat from the fresh chicken breasts. Line a pan with aluminum foil (not necessary). Spray the foil or pan with nonstick spray. Lay the chicken on the pan and sprinkle with pepper or your desired seasoning. Bake until chicken is fully cooked throughout. Let cool before placing in fridge.

Brown Rice:
-2 cups jasmine brown rice
-Rice cooker

Directions: Pour your desired amount of rice (I did about 2 cups) into the rice cooker. Fill the cooker with water so the water level is a half finger tip high over the top of the rice. Place cover on rice, cook until soft. If the rice isn’t cooked all the way through, you can add a bit more water and continue to cook. Let the rice cool before placing in the fridge.

As for my shake recipe, this is the recipe I have been making lately for breakfast to go with my egg muffin.
Morning Protein Shake:
-1 scoop protein powder (Chocolate Whey)
-1 tbsp PB2
-3 ice cubes
– 2 cups skim milk

Blend together and enjoy!

13.1

Well, I did it. All the training and hard work definitely paid off. 13.1. It was amazing, when it was over with.

On April 22, I ran the Earth Day Half Marathon in St. Cloud, MN. I stayed in St. Cloud the night before to avoid having a drive in the morning before the race. The evening before, I indulged in some pasta from the Olive Garden. Any excuse to eat carbs is completely okay with me.

The morning of, I ate a peanut butter and jelly, English muffin, some eggs, a yogurt and banana. I also drank plenty of water and was sure to get a lot of sleep. I ended up wearing running leggings that tied on the top so they didn’t move during the run, an Under Armour tank top and a running light zip-up jacket. I had Brooks running shoes on as well. 18033301_10155627064796874_6654001974034216975_n

As a rookie marathon runner, I figured out before the start–that you want to line up at your projected finish marker, since you will be running at a similar pace as those people.

So, once I decided where I wanted to finish (I choose the 2.5 hour marker), with hopes that I could finish around that time. Once the run started, I was feeling good. There were so many people lined up along the route, with encouraging signs and were cheering as people ran by.

For the first 5 miles, I didn’t have any pain and was running at a great pace. I was using the Map My Run app on my phone, so I knew where my pace was at each mile and what my split pace was. I was keeping up with the starter marker, and I was feeling good.

At mile 6, I started getting some cramps in my stomach and my lower back started hurting. Now before the 13.1, my longest run that I trained for was 10 miles long. When you are at 6 miles, 10 doesn’t seem that far off. When you’re going all the way to 13.1, you’re not even half way there at 6.

After reaching mile 8, my stomach and back started to feel better. There were a lot of people I was keeping pace with, and we just kept going. Once you get to 10 miles, your legs just aren’t all the way “there” anymore. My legs just kept going, although my body was very exhausted.

The last few miles were exciting, but it became hard to concentrate on anything else besides “I’m almost done, it’s almost over. Just a little longer.” The last mile was by far the best. My pace had fallen a bit at mile 11, but I was still doing better than I had originally hoped.

That last mile I gave it my all. My app I was using however, was off from the measured distance the run had calculated. So when I thought I was about done, I still had what felt like forever to go. I started to sprint, which was a great idea–but I did it too early. Knowing I was so close (may .3 of a mile out now) away from the finish line, I just couldn’t give up. I ended up making it over that finish line and just wanting to crash.

It was amazing. I felt so great. I did it. I just ran 13.1 miles, and I did it well under my goal of 2.5 hours. My final time across the finish line was 2:11:10.

My body wasn’t hurting significantly besides my lower back. I took pain pills before the run and when I finished, and the pain went away within 5 hours or so. The evening of the run, I was feeling great and was amazed at how well my body handled it. By the end of the night, I realized I may have injured myself a little more than I had hoped.

My foot had endured a lot of pain and seemed to be getting worse the more I was on it. For the rest of the weekend, I continued to ice my foot and try to rest it as much as possible. It has been about 2 1/2 weeks now, and my foot is still hurting. Unfortunately, I think I may have a slight fracture that is going to continue to need time and rest to fully heal.

I was all ready to sign up for the Tough Mudder which takes place in July, but I may be looking at the Tough Mudder 2018 to ensure my foot heals properly. All in all, I a so glad I tried a half marathon and it has inspired me to do more challenges, like the Tough Mudder.

My overall advice from my experience is to listen to your body. Goals are amazing to reach and it’s exciting to finish what you started out for, but be careful. If you’re in pain, your body is telling you it’s too much. Don’t hurt yourself in the process. Your body is a beautiful thing.

 

What to Wear on Race Day

As race day nears, I have been trying to figure out what I’m going to wear. The weather looks like the perfect running conditions–with a high of 65 degrees and sunny. At the start of race time, the temperature should be around 45 degrees–warming up to 55 by the time I will be nearing the end.

So what do you wear? This article from Cosmopolitan has been my favorite so far!

Which is worse: Heading out for a run and totally overheating, or completely freezing your ass off?

The truth is that both situations suck — but both are entirely avoidable as long as you dress for weather that’s 15 to 20 degrees warmer than whatever the thermometer reads, says avid runner and The North Face performance apparel product manager Becky Avila.

When temperatures soar above 80 degrees, go with a lightweight, breathable tank top and shorts made from synthetic fabrics like polyester that help moisture evaporate. Natural materials like cotton absorb moisture and hold on to it, which weighs you down and feels totally gross.

Tank Top, NEW BALANCE, $38; Perforated Great Escape Shorts, UNDER ARMOUR, $23; Zquick Sneakers, REEBOK, $50.

When temperatures hover in the 70s, go with a lightweight tank, and shorts or capris. No, you won’t sweat your ass off in the latter: If you prefer the coverage and support of cropped tights, go for it. Just choose breathable mesh fabrics or styles with vents to let in the breeze and help sweat evaporate.

Marble-Print Tee, GAP, $30; Cropped Leggings with Mesh, SOLOW, $84; Response Boost Techfit Shoes, ADIDAS, $100.

Temperatures in the 60s might just be the perfect running weather. A lightweight T-shirt lets in the breeze, while mesh-paneled capris made from nylon and spandex provide awesome coverage, but still let your legs breathe.

Stella McCartney Barricade Tee, $60, ADIDAS; Plum Stardust Crop Pant, MICHI, $129; HKNB Sneakers, NEW BALANCE, $100.

When temperatures are in the upper 50s, you really don’t need any base layers. Go for shorts or capris (your choice!), and wear a sweat-wicking long-sleeve shirt right over your sports bra. You can push up the sleeves when you get toasty — it’s more convenient than removing a whole layer and then having to hold it or tie it around your waist while you run.

Motion Long-Sleeve Top, GAP, $45; Legend 2.0 Tight Mezzo, NIKE, $65; Gel-Nimbus Sneakers, ASICS, $160.

In the low 50s, capris, a sweat-wicking undershirt, and a long-sleeved shirt will keep you warm and dry. Make sure your bottoms are made of technical materials that wick away moisture so you don’t get the chills when you sweat. And if you run in the evening or before dawn? Look for reflective detailing to help vehicles see you. (It’s a good idea in any weather.)

Fit-Sana Rib Tank, $30, ASICS; Women’s HeatGear Alpha Capri, UNDER ARMOUR, $35; In a Flash Long Sleeves Shirt, LULULEMON, $98; Zoom Terra Kiger Sneakers, NIKE, $125.

Mesh-Back Tank, VICTORIA’S SECRET, $37; Apex Light Jacket, THE NORTH FACE, $130; Speed Tight II Leggings, LULULEMON, $108; Pure Boost Sneakers, ADIDAS, $120.

Accelorate Tank Top, NEW BALANCE, $24; Pria Excel Zip-Through, LORNA JANE, $90; Thermoball Vest, THE NORTH FACE, $149; gFast Marble-Print Leggings, GAP, $54, Fleece-Lined Convertible Mitts, VICTORIA’S SECRET, $25; Z Dual Ride Sneakers, REEBOK, $70.

In the winter you want to wear just enough layers to stay warm, but not too many, which will leave you sweat-soaked and freezing. In the upper 30s, that means a sweat-wicking tank top, a windproof, fleece-lined zip up, leggings, a synthetic-fabric headband that covers your ears, and gloves. (Opt for tech-friendly ones so you can skip around your playlist without peeling off layers.)

Racer-Back Tank, GAP, $25; Windfleece Jacket, ADIDAS, $70; Compression Tights, REEBOK, $50; Fleece-Lined Headband, VICTORIA’S SECRET, $17; ColdGear Infrared Gloves, UNDER ARMOUR, $40; Zigkick Wild Sneakers, REEBOK, $50.

When temperatures hit the low 30s, you’ve got to start layering up. A hybrid jacket with a vest-like body and stretchy sleeves helps promote flexibility and keep the bulk to a minimum. Underneath, all you’ll need is a tank top and long-sleeved shirt. Wear brushed leggings, which feel fleecy inside. They’re designed to keep heat in and wind out, and will be your very best friend this winter — you actually lose a lot of heat from your legs and butt, Avila says. Add a headband and gloves and you’re good to go.

Chi Tank Top, ATHLETICA, $44; Infrared Crew, UNDER ARMOUR, $50; Animagi Hybrid Jacket, THE NORTH FACE, $150; Speed Tights, LULULEMON, $108; Printed Thermal Run Gloves, NIKE (Available at Dick’s Sporting Goods), $22; Winter Warrior Head Wrap, LUCY, $15.

LAUREN AHN

In the high 20s, you’ll want to run in a tank top, light long-sleeved shirt, an insulated jacket, brushed leggings, gloves, and a hat. Make sure your headgear is made of synthetic materials to keep your hair dry when you sweat. And no pom-poms, which will bounce around when you run.

Seamless Tank, Under Armour (Available at Dick’s Sporting Goods), $26; Long-Sleeved Top, H&M, $25; Windfleece Jacket, ADIDAS, $70; Thermal Run Tights, SWEATY BETTY, $155; Run With Me Gloves, LULULEMON , $32; PureProject Running Beanie, BROOKS; $30; Free Flyknit Sneakers, NIKE (Available at Lady Foot Locker), $120.

Bring on the layers in the low 20s — you won’t regret ’em. Start with a tank top, heavy long-sleeved shirt, and light jacket up top, wear brushed leggings, gloves, wind-resistant mittens, and a hat to seal the heat in. And while standard sweat-wicking socks and your favorite sneakers generally work for cold temperatures, special insulated sneakers can keep your toesies extra warm. (A note about the socks: Don’t be tempted to switch up your regular ones for fleece or other warm-looking socks. They’ll trap heat, all right, but that’s not a good thing. When your feet get hot, they sweat and swell, which can cause blisters, Olzinski says. Choose moisture-wicking socks year-round, and always avoid puddles to keep your feet dry and warm.)

Run Swiftly Tech Tank, LULULEMON, $48; Long-Sleeve Crew Neck, THE NORTH FACE, $50; Vidali Hybrid Jacket, THE NORTH FACE (Available at Urban Outfitters), $120; Hyperwarm Leggings, NIKE, $70; Runners ETip Gloves, THE NORTH FACE, $25; Runners Overmitt, THE NORTH FACE, $35; Coffee Run Beanie, UNDER ARMOUR, $25; and Climaheat Rocketboost Sneakers, ADIDAS, $110.

In colder temperatures: If you’re smart, you’ll take your workout indoors. While you can technically still run outside when it’s clear, the air can be extremely dry in the winter, so you have to cover your nose and mouth. And because it’s so freaking cold, you should also wear leg warmers or calf tights, slip on an even heavier jacket, and wear trail-running shoes with extra grip to avoid slips. In other words, it’s a real schlep to sweat in tundra-like conditions. Spare yourself and stay warm with a cardio workout you can do indoors.

Pin the entire guide to reference later!

LAUREN AHN

Banana Oat Energy Bites

You’ll Need
– 2 ripe bananas
– 2 cups rolled oats
– ¼ cup almond butter (or peanut butter, or your favorite nut butter)
– ¼ cup honey
– 2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips
– ½ teaspoon cinnamon

How To

  1. Mash up the bananas in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Stir in the rolled oats, almond butter, honey, miniature chocolate chips and cinnamon.
  3. Scoop about 2 tablespoons of the mixture and roll into a 1-inch ball. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
  4. Refrigerate for 2 hours, allowing the oats enough time to soften.
  5. Store the energy bites in the refrigerator.

Full article.

 

Yoga: Time to give it a go

I love to workout, but sometimes-it’s time to change things up a bit. I took a yoga class a few years ago and right away felt uncomfortable, not being at the level as the rest of the class. It was my first time, and I felt I didn’t know what I was doing- so I never went back.

Three years later, I have decided to give yoga a go again. Why? Because it’s great for you. Check it out:

 

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For a more detailed information on the benefits of yoga, click here.

I am going to kick off my yoga adventure with 30 days of yoga with Adriene. She has all these videos on YouTube, which are easy to follow at the comfort of your own home.

Give it a try, see what you think! Day 1 video.

How I BEAT Irreversible Back Pain

Written by Natalie Jill, full link here.

I was fighting against “irreversible” back pain…

When the thought of a workout went from motivating and exciting to making me think of “pain”, I knew I had a problem. It began taking me longer and longer to motivate myself to workout because I knew a hard workout meant horrible back pain. The pain was intense and in my normal black and white fashion, I was determined to “fix it”! I was determined to beat my irreversible back pain.

Everything hurt my back; sitting, standing, sleeping, and working out made the pain unbearable at times. My normal no excuse mentality was ringing louder than ever. Something is broken and I need to fix it…quickly!

Doctors, medical bills , surgery options and prescriptions…

beat irreversible back pain with natalie jillI sought out orthopedic surgeons and had an MRI, which confirmed a reason for my back pain. I had severe arthritis in my lower back and two bulging discs. I guess all those years of constantly wearing high heels and skipping my workout warmups were starting to catch up to me 🙂

I began a series of doctors’ appointments and all of them prescribed arthritis meds, pain meds, coritsone shots, etc.  No one believed I could fix the cause of the pain, so instead, they all wanted to “mask” it.

I saw 4 physical therapists, 3 orthopedic surgeons and 2 chiropractors. All resulting in false hopes, a lot of money spent on medical bills, and hearing the same information: the arthritis is permanent. Basically they said I had irreversible back pain.

The choices I was given were: STOP working out, take anti inflammatory medication, cut the nerve, and use medication when needed to manage pain.

NJFit TWEETit: I was told my back pain was irreversible. It wasn’t, and I fixed it the NATURAL way. #feelinggood @NatalieJillFit

The back pain just wouldn’t stop…

The options presented were not sitting right with me, but when pain takes over, you don’t always think rationally. The pain never stopped. It was constant and it was bad. I gave in to a cortisone shot that was done under anesthesia and inserted during an x-ray. This was supposed to take away the pain. It did for about a day, and then came back stronger then ever. The pain management doctor had an answer though: more pain medication and a more aggressive surgery.  No thank you!

I remember thinking to myself, I’m 40, maybe this is just the way it is?

I never accepted that things had to be this way, but wow, when pain takes over you start to reconsider your options. I was determined to figure out what was going on and find a natural way to stop the pain. So, my mission began and now I will share with you what I learned.

You can’t get “rid of” arthritis” but you can stop what is causing the pain.

beat irreversible back pain with natalie jillIt is not actually the arthritis or disc causing the pain, it’s other imbalances around it causing you to FEEL pain where the issue is.  You have to fix other areas of your body to get around the muscle imbalances, which is what typically causes the pain. For me, for instance, my current workouts, the way I was sitting, standing, etc… were aggravating muscle imbalances and creating terrible pain in my back.

My workouts were no longer working for me.

I was in a comfort zone of doing the same workouts I had always done. I was in denial that they were now wrong for me. I had to accept this fact and take on the challenge to re-learn the exercises and corrective circuits.

I am diligent about doing these now and there are some exercises, like weighted leg presses, that I can never do again or my back pain will instantly flair up.

I had abs but my CORE was not functional

beat irreversible back pain with natalie jill

I had abs so I THOUGHT I had a strong core… right? WRONG!

When I tried to do simple stability moves I had absolutely no core strength. It’s amazing how quickly this can change with practice.

I moved primarily to exercises utilizing my own body weight and REALLY worked to develop my core. No sit-ups (those only work the abdominal muscles), but TRUE core strength. I’m not suggesting you start at that point, but something to work towards.

You have to walk before you can run to TRULY rebuild your core.  It might seem like you are going backwards at first, but if you stick with it, you WILL see amazing results!

Eat a clean anti-inflamatory diet

As a celiac and licensed sports nutritionist, I always ate healthy, and of course gluten-free (a must for a celiac). So I decided to take things up a notch and get diligent about adding key anti-inflammatory foods to my diet including the removal of grains and dairy.

I started doing corrective circuits

Doing the right corrective circuits will help to activate muscles you haven’t been using and help you calm down and release the muscles that are tight and over active. I worked very closely with two NASM certified Corrective Exercise Specialist to re-train myself.

As an example, my glutes were under active, which is common in women. My quads and lower back were picking up the slack for my glutes which were under-active and not firing.  Now, I do a full corrective circuit to activate my glutes prior to my workouts so that my glutes pull their weight and take additional strain off my quads and lower back.

I realized I could still have “INTENSITY” while working out, but I had to CHANGE those “intense” moves

My old workouts put too much stress on my lower back. I don’t do things like weighted leg presses anymore, which used to be a staple in my workout. Instead, I do exercises that keep my core engaged, using all of my muscle fibers (a huge fan of ring and strap training now) and I don’t do stable moves anymore. No more machines for me, as I find they are too isolating and can lead to the creation of muscle imbalances.

How I feel today after I beat my irreversible back pain…beat irreversible back pain with natalie jill

Today, my back is no longer in constant pain. It is not 100% gone, but my days of pain are are now extremely limited to a few hours of pain a few days a month. It is no longer the constant nagging pain I used to deal with EVERY single day.

My workouts are back to being intense and I am once again changing and improving my body without the added fear and result of pain. With everything I have learned, I have developed myDVD’s  as well as the more intense STRONGER which mimics the corrective circuits, workouts, and nutrition I currently do! These will BOTH teach you the exercises I did to stop my symptoms.

“Be Happy…Be Healthy…Be Fit!”

– Natalie Jill