7 Day Exercise Challenge

7 day fitness challenge
I don’t know what it is about habits that make some so easy to keep (nighttime pre-bed routine) and others so difficult (going to the gym in the morning), but I’m surely trying to crack the code. This includes reading as many articles as I can about habit creation, willpower, etc. I know, real fascinating stuff. Anyway, a few days ago a friend sent me the link to this 7 Day Integrity Challenge and it got me thinking. 

Seven days. One week. How hard could it be to do something for one week? Well I guess I’m about to find out. I’ve challenged myself to exercise/be active for at least 30 minutes each day for seven days. I’m not just counting gym sessions, but time spent outdoors going on walks, riding my bicycle, etc. 

For the last several months I’ve struggled to find a workout routine I love and want to stick to, so I’m hoping this little baby step will be one in the right direction. I’ve also been pushing myself to be more active in nontraditional ways as well. Riding my bike to brunch, walking more at work and taking the stairs whenever possible. While logging time at a gym is certainly important for our health, doing more physical activity all around is important to combat sedentary habits. As an office worker, commuter and student, I spend way more time in a chair than I’d like. 

I’m not expecting monumental changes to occur over the course of a week, but rather I’m hoping it will help me start to think in a different way such as how can I be more active outside of the gym. The brevity of the challenge makes it more realistic and approachable than other challenges, yet still provides enough action to make it a catalyst for other positive changes. Who knows? Maybe next week I’ll challenge myself to something different.

Speak up: What you challenge yourself to do for seven days? What’s your favorite way to be active outside of the gym?

What I Ate Wednesday

You guys! Look at this forecast! Mother Nature has finally figured out it’s spring! (Also, sorry for all the exclamation points.)  I’m pretty excited and currently trying to figure out how I can spend every minute outside.

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 In other news, it’s Tax Day What I Ate Wednesday! Let’s get talking about this week’s eats. I’ve been seriously itching for fresh produce and farmers markets and I’m happy to say they are finally around the corner. Our local market opens this weekend and I already have plans to go. I don’t know what the produce selection will be like (a downside to Midwestern winters), but at least I know the doughnut vendor will be there. #Priorities 

Here’s hoping next week’s eats are full of farmers market goodies. Until then, here’s what I ate yesterday. 

Breakfast

Banana (just one. Don’t let the bunch fool you) and a smoothie to-go. Smoothie was packed with kale, green apple, frozen strawberries, Greek yogurt and almond milk. Does not make for a pretty color. 

Lunch

A cucumber, avocado, black bean salad brought to you by leftovers. I threw these ingredients together last week for a quick snack and liked it so much I decided to make a large batch for lunch. Paired with some cantaloupe and raspberries. 

Dinner

Why oh why are quesadillas so good? These chicken and bell pepper quesadillas rocked my socks off. Made some rice to go on the side. 

Speak up: Is the farmers market by you open? What foods are you looking forward to this spring?

40 Day Vegetarian Challenge Wrap-Up

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I did it! I officially gave up eating meat for 40 whole days (click here to find out why)! While I didn’t chronicle this journey as much as I would have liked on the blog, I did want to offer up some final thoughts on my experience. Overall everything went well and I think I learned quite a bit, so let’s recap FAQ style. 

Did you miss eating meat?

Honestly, not really. There were a few occasions where eating a meal would have been easier if I ate meat, but I can’t say I was too disappointed at any point. Dining out was a bit difficult because a lot of traditional restaurants don’t offer many vegetarian options — even soups and salads had meat.

As far as cooking at home, I didn’t miss meat at all. While I previously ate meat 4-5 times a week at dinner, I found it pretty easy to substitute vegetarian protein options. I’m not a big meat eater for lunch/breakfast, so those meals weren’t a problem for me at all.

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Do you feel any different after the challenge?

I didn’t notice any huge changes, but at times I did feel lighter overall. I’d attribute that to the fresh, veggie-packed dishes I ate. However, there were plenty of times I didn’t feel that way. Not all vegetarian options are healthy, and I think that’s something important for people to note if they are considering eating in that way. 

I never felt unhealthy or sick, but a few times I did feel low on energy and just overall tired. Nothing to be concerned about, but I did wonder if maybe my iron levels were a bit low. I did eat plenty of plant foods with iron in them and take a multivitamin, but our bodies typically absorb iron from animal sources better. If I were to continue eating vegetarian, I might take the time to track my iron levels just to make sure I was getting an adequate amount. 

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What did you eat? 

Lots and lots of plants!! Beans, lentils and nuts made a constant rotation in my meals and I even learned how to bake tofu at home. I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered it, but it was fun to experiment with some new-to-me foods. Of course I made sure to fill my plate with lots of veggies, fruit and whole grains too. It’s also worth noting I kept seafood in my diet during this challenge, so if we’re being technical, I ate as a pescatarian. 

If you want to see more of what I ate, check out these WIAW posts: one | two 

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Are you back to eating meat again?

Yes, but not as much as I used too. I’ve been trying to plan at least 2-3 meatless dinners a week as well as continuing to eat seafood a few times a week. Last week I made a batch of tofu and tossed it into meals throughout the week. 

Right now, I see meat as more of a special occasion type of food. There are still plenty of meat dishes I enjoy, but I don’t feel the need to eat them on a regular basis. I also read The Flexitarian Diet which talks about a lot of these ideas and it’s a great resource for anyone who’s thinking about cutting back on their meat intake. 

Well that’s about it for now — congrats to you if you made it all the way down to the end of the post. If you have any other questions for me, feel free to leave them in the comments. 

What I Ate Wednesday

What I Ate Wednesday Button

It’s been a few weeks since my last What I Ate Wednesday post, so it’s about time to take a look at some eats. This week’s WIAW is looking a bit different than other recent posts for two reasons. 1) My 40-day vegetarian challenge is over — look for a recap soon and 2) my dinner plate is sans veggies! You’ll have to scroll on down to find out why. 

Let’s get to it!

Breakfast

In order to make the most of my day, I’m starting to incorporate morning workouts into my routine. I actually love starting my day with a good workout, so I’m pretty excited about this. Free afternoons are worth waking up a bit earlier. Anyway, I sipped this smoothie in the car from the gym to work and then gobbled up a homemade granola bar when I got there. 

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Snacks

Starting my day with exercise makes me hungry! Anyone else? To counteract this, I make sure to pack extra snacks just in case. I munched on carrots and hummus around 11 am, some Skinny Pop around 3:30 pm and a handful of dark chocolate-covered almonds when I got home from work (not pictured).

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Lunch

Avocado Black Bean Stuffed Pita, string cheese and some grapes. Don’t mind the classy paper plate. 

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Dinner

Here it is. Delicious Easter leftovers without a lick of veggies (might be some onion hiding in that mac n cheese?). Either way, my point is this — don’t forget to stop and really enjoy food every once in awhile. I really do enjoy all the nourishing, whole foods I eat on a regular basis, but sometimes nothing beats a big pile of cheesy pasta and bacon.

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Speak up: What did you eat this week?

Avocado Black Bean Stuffed Pitas

Let’s talk about lunch. More specifically, let’s talk about how difficult it can be to plan for lunch. As I sit down to make my meal plan each week, I often struggle with what to bring to work for lunch. Sure I could bring another salad — it’s easy, fresh and packed with veggies, but sometimes I just want to mix things up. And that’s exactly why I dreamt up these pitas. 

Avocado Black Bean Stuffed Pitas

Packed with some of my favorite flavors (hello avocado!), these pitas are the perfect midday pick-me-up. The black beans and avocado provide a one-two punch of protein and healthy fat to keep you full and satisfied throughout the afternoon. The mixed greens and pico de gallo add an element of freshness and also up your vegetable count for the day. Oh and the best part? All this goodness fits inside a handheld pita pocket.

Avocado Black Bean Stuffed Pitas

This “unrecipe” is so easy and completely adjustable to your own taste preferences. Don’t like one of the ingredients I chose? Don’t include it or sub it out for something else. Pitas are great for many different flavor profiles and really just about anything will taste wonderful in one. I prefer to pack my pitas unassembled and quickly add all the ingredients right before I eat them. This will keep the pita from getting soggy.

Now — who’s ready for lunch?

Avocado Black Bean Stuffed Pitas
 

Avocado Black Bean Stuffed Pitas
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Ingredients
  1. 1 Whole Wheat Pita (small)
  2. 1/4 cup black beans
  3. 1/4 avocado
  4. 1/4 cup fresh pico de gallo
  5. 1/2 cup mixed greens
Instructions
  1. Slice pita in half to create a pocket.
  2. Stuff all ingredients inside and enjoy!
Notes
  1. I've included basic instructions for making one small pita. Depending on how hungry you are, you could adjust amounts to make two small pitas or one larger pita.
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