Staying on Track While on Vacation

Staying on track while on vacationHealthy habits are typically not a first thought while planning a vacation, let alone while you’re actually on vacation. Many people view their vacation as a break from life… a chance to relax, have fun and not worry about anything. This is something we all deserve, but why undo all of your workouts and healthy eating? You worked hard to fit into the bathing suit for vacation…why sabotage it and have to start over when you return? With a little bit of pre-planning and research, you can have lots of fun and accomplish staying on track while on vacation!

We are super excited to be heading to Orlando in November for a family vacation. We will be splitting our time between Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando, (I plan on doing a series about eating clean while in both parks, so stay tuned!) and my health and fitness has definitely been on my mind for this trip. Here are some tips and tricks that can keep you on track while on vacation…

Healthy Eating While on Vacation…

  • Always call ahead to see if your hotel has a refrigerator.  Even if it does not, for a small fee, you can often request one to be brought to your room.
  • Bring along healthy breakfast items and snacks. By doing this, you can make sure you start your day off with a healthy meal, instead of gorging yourself on pancakes at the hotel buffet.
  • Enjoy alcohol and other high calorie beverages in moderation.  It’s vacation! You want to relax! …I get it! Just don’t drink your daily calories away. It’s very easy to do so and alcohol calories add up fast. So if you plan on drinking, be sure order a large glass of water along with your drink.  By alternating one alcoholic beverage for one glass of water, you’ll save calories and most likely skip the hangover by staying hydrated.
  • Plan your cheat meal ahead of time.  If you are visiting a favorite destination and you have a favorite restaurant, pre-plan it into your daily food. If this is your first time at the destination, do some research and pick a restaurant you really want to try while there. Make that your cheat meal for the vacation and just enjoy yourself.
  • Don’t go too long between meals or starve yourself all day so you can eat/drink more that night. Doing this causes your blood sugar to dip too low. As a result you can become tired, cranky and short-tempered (also known as hangry). Combat this be carrying healthy snacks with you, like nuts, protein bars or fruit.
  • Make sure you drink plenty of water during the day and especially before you go out to eat. Drinking lots of water will keep you hydrated and feeling fuller, so you won’t cave on all the temptations that can be around while on vacation.

Dining Out 101…

  • Look at the menu online and choose something healthy BEFORE you arrive.  Doing this helps to cut down on the temptation that can occur as you read through the menu, while smelling all of the amazing food around you. You don’t want to make an impulse order that you will end up regretting, so go into the restaurant with a plan in place!
  • Don’t be afraid to request what you want, even if it’s not on the menu.  Chances are if the ingredients are on the menu, the chef can accommodate your request. It doesn’t hurt to ask, but have a back up plan just in case they say no, or call ahead to see if they can help you before you arrive.
  • Cut calories with simple changes!  Skip the bun with your burger and ask for a lettuce wrap instead, have chicken or fish grilled instead of fried, request sauces, dressings and gravy to be served on the side, have steamed veggies or a sweet potato instead of fries.
  • If you decide to splurge because it’s vacation, be smart and go easy on the portion size.  Eat half of your meal right then and there and save half for lunch the next day (this is where the fridge comes in handy!).  Another great option is to split it with a friend or family member. You’ll save calories and some money!
  • Beware of the appetizer trap!  Between the complimentary bread basket (which you may want to consider skipping) to the over-sized portions we are typically served in restaurants, do you really NEED an appetizer? If the answer is “Omg, yes! I love _____”, then consider getting just one order for the entire table. This way you can satisfy your taste for that item, without stuffing yourself before your entree arrives.
  • Many menus will have icons next to meals indicating that they are a healthy or lower calorie.  Look for these first, but remember gluten-free (GF) or vegetarian (V) doesn’t always mean that something is healthy!

Snacking on the Go…

Pack as many portable snacks with you as you can.  If you are currently following a fitness program, consult the nutrition guide to see which ones work best for you, or refer back to your past meal plans to see which snacks you typical consume, and which will work well in your bag during traveling.  Typically nuts, whole grain crackers, protein bars, individual sized oatmeal packets, fruit, cut veggies, mozzarella sticks and Shakeology packets are great things to bring with you. Don’t forget to pack water too!  Freezing it prior to heading out (another reason why getting a fridge in your room comes in handy) will help keep other things cool.

Stay Active…

  • Pack your workout DVD’s and play them in your laptop, either in the room or in the hotel gym.
  • Do your best to fit in some physical activity if you are at a relaxation resort destination. Maybe a nice walk along the beach after dinner or some laps in the pool. If you are heading to a theme park like we are soon, you’ll be doing a lot of walking so things won’t be as bad, as long as you can avoid all the popcorn, ice-cream and treats!
  • Stay active in fun ways – look up running/hiking trails with amazing views, look into bike or kayak rentals and even walking tours. Be creative! vacation doesn’t have mean laying poolside with a drink all day.
  • If you are a part of a fitness accountability group (like the ones I run for programs on Facebook), be sure you still check-in daily while you’re away. It will subconsciously help you to make better decisions and your group will help you with meal choices on the go and just keep you motivated! 

Don’t forget to take into consideration time spent in the airport or in the car to get to and from your destination! When flying, you can’t take liquid through security, but you can take snacks. Make sure you are prepared with healthy snacks that you can enjoy while waiting at the gate. By doing this, you will only subject your wallet to the inflated price of either a cup of coffee or a bottle of water, instead of a $20 salad too! If you are driving, be sure to stock the car with snacks, water bottles and cooler filled with sandwiches, veggies, hummus and cheese sticks. By doing this, you’ll save yourself the temptation of rest stop fast food….cause who wants to spend $10 on a greasy cheeseburger that will just make you feel gross?

If you have any healthy travel tips, please share them in the comments below!

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Just Be Yourself

Just Be YourselfSince I’ve started this blog, I’ve ebbed and flowed with what I was doing, where I was going and how I was posting. I allowed the opinions of others, as well as what other bloggers were doing, to influence what I was posting and to be honest, I wasn’t being true to myself. As a result of this, blogging became a chore to me and I would stop doing it for weeks on end. I’ve recently decided to stop the insanity and follow the one good piece of advice I’ve received ” Just Be Yourself “.

Just Be Yourself.

It’s a powerful phrase. Who am I? What do I stand for? What do I like? What don’t I like? It’s food for thought to say the least, and it’s something that has been on my mind for awhile now.

After some reflecting, I can say that I am a mom and wife who always has the best interest of my family in mind. I have struggled with my weight since junior high school and I finally found success through at-home fitness. I am a personal trainer who is not comfortable in a gym setting…at all. I am very shy and often doubt myself. I spend too much time worrying about what other people think of my choices. I struggle with body image and often still see an overweight person in the mirror. I put other peoples needs before my own and often feel burnt out and angry because of that. I am an independent person and have a hard time asking for help…I used to view it as a personal failure. I KNOW that I am meant to do great things and have a purpose in life. For a long time, I lost my personal identity to being a mom/wife and family responsibilities. I only recently began to “find myself” and discover what makes me happy. Coffee makes me happy. I love crisp fall weather and sitting by a fire. Laughter is therapy for my soul. I have a strong desire to get back into running and complete a half marathon. I am a wanna-be traveler and have a list of places I plan on visiting. I LOVE cooking. Buying fresh ingredients and experimenting in the kitchen is my happy place. I am a work in progress.

Self reflection is not an easy thing to do, but it is necessary if you want to be happy.

After making this list, I took some time to review my blog this past weekend. Some of the posts I enjoyed the most were the ones about my personal journey. I started this blog as a journal for myself, so I could look back and see how far I’ve come. As a matter of fact, I never intended for this blog to be public. I’m not an expert, so I don’t think I should be blogging advice, HOWEVER I do know what has worked for me and what hasn’t and by sharing all of that, someone reading this may relate and I may help them. Now THAT is what I set out to do when I decided to make this blog public.

Paying it Forward is something I know I am meant to do.

When I started my weight loss journey, I didn’t have a coach, an accountability group or anyone to guide me. I was on my own and it was a scary thing. I didn’t have a lot of outside support, but thankfully I had the support of my family. I had lots of success when I started and I also had lots of failure. Heck, I still have both to this day! There were days I wanted to give up and just go back to sitting on the couch, shoveling ice-cream into my face. I am thankful everyday that I didn’t do that. I am thankful everyday that I discovered social media and the hashtag for P90X on twitter – it helped me to stay motivated during my first round and kept me moving forward. I am thankful I discovered what coaching was and found an on-line group of like minded people who were doing the same thing as me. I am thankful I shared my blog with someone and they told me I should be sharing this with others. This blog has helped me to find my voice, even if it has also left me feeling lost at times.

Focus on What Matters.

As I move forward with this blog, I will be focusing on what matters. To me, that’s being true to myself, sharing my experiences and helping those who can relate to my story. I will no longer blog about things because I “have to” or because” I should”. I will only blog about things that I truly want to share because I feel passionate about it or because I know someone could benefit from my sharing. What other people think can no longer be a concern of mine – Their happiness is NOT more important than mine! I am making a promise to myself to reclaim this space as my own. To open up, be real and not only share my triumphs, but to share my struggles. There is no such thing as perfect and by trying to portray perfection, we only fool ourselves and rob ourselves of all the amazing things we have achieved, because we become so hung up on all the things we have failed at. 

When you Feel like Quitting, Remember WHY you Started.

This little piece of advice can be applied to EVERYTHING in life. When you know WHY you are doing something, you become unstoppable! 

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Quick and Easy Egg Muffins

Quick and Easy Egg MuffinsMornings can be hectic and drive-thru lines can be long! (Let’s not forget they also work against what our health and fitness goals are, for the most part.)

If you are reading this, you are trying to be healthier and stating your day off on the right foot is so important to how the rest of your day plays out. One of the best things I ever started making, were these Quick and Easy Egg Muffins. These egg muffins not only quick and easy, but they are so versatile and can easily be customized to make everyone’s taste buds happy. Thanks to the versatility of them, you won’t get tired of eating them, because you can change the flavor profiles each time you make them.

Quick and Easy Egg Muffins
Serves 3
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. Mixed vegetables (I use onions, bell peppers and spinach) – 3 green containers on 21 Day Fix
  2. 6 Eggs – 3 red containers on 21 Day Fix
Instructions
  1. Prep a cupcake pan (12 spots) with cooking spray.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Dice your choice of vegetables to fill 3 green containers (3 cups) - If using frozen veggies, measure, then cook them quickly to remove the excess liquid frozen veggies contain. You don't want watery egg muffins.
  4. Beat eggs in a bowl, season with black pepper and then mix in your vegetables.
  5. Pour the egg and vegetable mixture into your prepared baking pan.
  6. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, or until eggs are cooked through.
  7. Store in the fridge and heat up in the microwave for about 30 - 60 seconds (depending on your microwave) when ready to eat.
Notes
  1. On the 21 Day Fix program, each serving of 4 egg muffins equals 1 Red container and 1 Green container.
Get Fit With Nikki http://www.getfitwithnikki.com/
 We like to balance them out, especially while doing the 21 Day Fix, by adding a fruit (purple container) or turning them into a wrap with some salsa or avocado (yellow and blue containers). Balancing your breakfast out also helps to keep you fuller longer, while giving your body the fuel it needs to get you through the beginning of your day.

I typically make these egg muffins on a Sunday, divide them into servings (4 muffins per container) and pop them into the fridge, so we always have breakfast (or lunch) on hand in a pinch.

The other great thing about these, are that they are inexpensive, which is PERFECT for those who want to eat clean, but are on a budget or for those who have a lot of mouths to feed every morning. Even if you get organic, free range, brown eggs at $4 a carton, each serving of eggs is only around .66 cents! The other money saver is since they are packed with veggies, I never have produce going to waste. I just chop up whatever is on hand, add some seasoning and turn it into a quick and easy egg muffin! You can’t wait in line at your local drive-thru and get a nutritious breakfast that cheap! 

Do you already use egg muffins in your meal plan? What are you favorite flavor combinations?

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Gluten-Free Peanut-Butter Banana Muffins

Peanut Butter Banana MuffinsThere are some days you just crave a muffin, and that’s okay! Just make sure that muffin isn’t the size of your head and loaded with sugar and empty carbs. You know exactly which muffins I’m talking about. They are the ones that look amazing when you walk past the bakery section in the grocery store. The ones that I’m pretty sure have eyes, because I can feel them staring at me, trying to make eye contact and whispering “buy me”, as I walk past as fast as possible, trying to ignore them.

Let’s not even discuss the variety packs of 24 that warehouse stores like Sam’s & Costco sell…. sigh.

Just because we are eating cleaner, avoiding extra sugar and processed flour doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy a muffin with our coffee from time to time. In my most recent 7-Day Clean Eating Jump Start group, one of the members shared a recipe for Peanut Butter Banana muffins so I gave them a shot with a few changes.

Gluten-Free Peanut-Butter Banana Muffins
Yields 6
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Ingredients
  1. 2 Tbsp. Peanut-Butter (I used Sun-Butter which is a great nut-free option)
  2. 1 Medium Banana, Mashed
  3. 1/4 Cup Gluten-Free Oats
  4. 1/3 Cup Organic Applesauce
  5. 1/2 Cup Egg Whites
  6. 1 Scoop Vanilla Protein Powder
  7. 1 tsp. Baking Powder (make sure it is gluten-free. I use Clabber Girl.)
  8. Dried Banana Chips (topping)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, hand-mix all ingredients together except the banana chips.
  3. Place 6 muffin liners in a 12 count cupcake tray and spray a light coat of a non-stick cooking spray. (Do not skip this non-stick spray. The muffins will stick to the paper liners if you don't do this.)
  4. Fill each cup about 2/3 of the way full, until you are out of batter.
  5. Top each uncooked muffin with a few dried banana chips.
  6. Place tray in the center rack of the oven and allow to cook for approx 12 min or until they are golden brown.
Notes
  1. I used the applesauce to replace 1 egg since I didn't have any more. You could also use 1/3 cup of pumpkin puree instead of applesauce. If you want to take all of the egg out completely, mix 1 Tbsp of ground flax seed with 3 Tbsp hot water until it thickens slightly. You'll use the flax mix in addition to the applesauce or pumpkin puree.
Get Fit With Nikki http://www.getfitwithnikki.com/
 These muffins really hit the spot and you could have fun with them by changing the flavor profile with different nut-butters, using different egg substitutes (I’m not a pumpkin fan, but using the pumpkin puree with some cinnamon would probably make some you very happy) as noted or by adding some mini chocolate chips to them (if you have nut or dairy allergies, I highly recommend the ones by Enjoy Life). 

Remember, clean eating doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the things you love. It just means you enjoy them in a smarter way!

If you’re doing 21 Day Fix, you could enjoy these as one of your yellow container swaps!

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Simple Morning Smoothie for Back to School

Today my kids officially started school again. It seems like just yesterday they were excitedly waiting for the bus to half day Kindergarten, yet this morning they were off to 8th and 5th grades. Time sure does fly! Mornings around here can be pretty crazy. There is the battle to wake up the kids, the arguing over who gets the bathroom next (we have two bathrooms mind you, but NO ONE wants to go downstairs….sigh), lunches, clothes, homework, snacks, clock watching for the bus and of course, breakfast! Thankfully both of my kids like smoothies and what they like is easy enough for me to make while waiting for my morning dose of life….caffeine….coffee to brew. The “Simple Morning Smoothie” for them is one of three things, Banana, Chocolate Peanut Butter or Strawberry Banana, which is featured below. I also typically add a half a scoop of protein or Shakeology to their smoothie, depending on how they’ve been eating. (Shakeology is always included in the chocolate peanut butter one). Simple Morning Smoothie

In all honesty I used to hate dragging out the blender to make these up, especially because they NEVER agree on which flavor they want, however since Mike got me the Ninja with the single serve blender cups, I don’t mind at all. It’s actually nice to hear them ask for a smoothie for breakfast or an after school snack, instead of a Pop-Tart, some sugary cereal, chips or cookies. PLUS I get to hide things inside of these that are good for them, like protein and ground flax seed …which they would never agree to purposely ingesting.

As parents we need to get creative to ensure our children are getting enough vitamins and minerals. I know I slack in this area from time to time because I get tired of battling every little thing. I end up feeling like a shitty parent because of it, so it’s nice to have some simple & nutritious tricks up my sleeve that leave everyone happy and smiling.

Do your kids like smoothies? I would love to know what flavors they enjoy so I could try them with mine!

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Body Beast Banana Pancakes

Hi my name is Nikki and I am addicted to pancakes!

I have been eating pancakes almost every morning since I started Body Beast back in July and I am not tired of them yet.

There is just something comforting about them to me. They are like a nice warm hug for my soul and who wouldn’t like a nice warm hug to start their morning off, right?

Coffee + Pancakes = Perfection (to me)

Below, is one of my go-to recipes for pancakes, Body Beast Banana Pancakes, which is from the Body Beast “Book of Beast” nutrition guide. I don’t use this exact recipe everyday, but I do make these often. I also make a few variations to them since I have gluten sensitivities. I make sure I buy gluten-free oats and if I don’t have gluten-free flour on hand, I just blend up a cup of oats, until they’re a fine flour-like consistency and I always make sure my baking powder is gluten-free too.

Body Beast Beast Banana PancakesThis recipe also works AWESOME for meal prepping! I make multiple batches and keep them in the fridge, but you could store them in the freezer too (They just don’t last that long in our house).

Another go-to pancake recipe for me, are the Healthy Pancakes I started making while I was doing the 21 Day Fix. These are super quick and easy to make, plus they make a double batch so you’ll have breakfast for two days, while only cleaning up mixing bowls and pans once! Since I’m doing Body Beast now, I  add a scoop of protein powder to them as well.

Pancakes are really just a blank slate to me, which is probably why I haven’t become bored with them. They can be topped with syrup, fresh fruit, preserves, nut butters, and so much more! You can make a huge batch of them but still enjoy a different flavor profile everyday, which I think is what draws me to them so much. Currently, my favorite way to enjoy them is with some real maple syrup (make sure your syrup is real, people…no maple “flavored” high fructose corn syrup, okay?!) and a sprinkle of unsweetened, shredded coconut. Another favorite of mine is topping them with some peanut butter, sliced banana and a drizzle of raw, local honey.

How do you like to top your pancakes?

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Body Beast Fajitas

Messing around in the kitchen is one of my favorite things to do. It helps to calm me when I’m stressed and it’s actually just become part of my fitness routine. I spend a lot of time on Pinterest looking for new recipes to try. I own a lot of cookbooks and I love that all of the workout programs I own come with nutrition guides and recipe ideas.

So far, the nutrition guide that came with Body Beast, “The Book of Beast” is my favorite. I have tried just about every recipe in it and I have loved them all. As a matter of fact I have shared quite a few of the recipes already. They contain things that are important to me when picking a recipe; they are quick, easy and of course, they all work well for meal prep. This recipe for Body Beast Fajitas is perfect to have on hand for a quick lunch and it packs a lot of flavor!
Body Beast Fajitas

You could also easily substitute steak, shrimp or pork if you want to change things up and keep things interesting! Having basic recipes in your arsenal, that you can make simple changes to is so important when eating clean. Spices are such an important part of keeping things interesting and with a recipe like this, you can easily play around with amounts to suite your tastes. You could add jalapenos, cayenne or use a variety of pepper colors. Little changes like that can completely change the flavor of a dish and keep you from getting bored with your meals.

If you’re like me and LOVE eating at Chipotle, you should definitely try skipping the tortilla and making this with some cilantro-lime rice or as a salad. It would make a super quick dinner option (if for some reason you forgot to meal prep…but we don’t forget to meal prep, right?!) and as an added bonus, you get to skip the drive, looking for a parking spot AND that long ass line! Oh…and when you make it home, guacamole DOESN’T cost extra! SCORE!

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