Thursday, October 17, 2013

Quick and Healthy Dinner

Trader Joe's is one of my favorite places. It's also one if Connors (they give out free samples). I love it because they have lot of prepared food that is actually healthy. Most frozen foods are high calorie, high fat, and loaded with sodium. 

My favorite frozen staples are the Thai shrimp and veggie dumplings. They're pretty low calorie (under 300 for about 6) and make a good lunch with added veggies. The quinoa with roasted veggies is really flavorful and filling. One bag is good for about two lunches for me (and Connor). Organic waffles are a breakfast staple for C. The frozen fish is amazing, too! We especially love the miso glazed cod.

The refrigerated section has great options as well. I LOVE the eggplant parm stacks. About 300 calories for a portion (two per package). I add roasted broccoli and its a really filling lunch or dinner. 

The grilled marinated chicken breasts are perfect for building salads. Last night I took the lemon pepper chicken, added a ton of fresh veggies, and dressed it with tj's peanut salad dressing. Matt was raving that this was "seriously a restaurant quality salad". Now, that's huge. It takes a lot to get that man excited about salad for dinner.

Trader Joe's lemon pepper chicken breasts
Shredded carrots
Butter lettuce
Pea shoots
Thinly sliced celery
Peanut dressing 

Try this!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How To: Design Your Own Workout

If you feel intimidated walking into the free weight section of the gym, you're not alone. When I talk to friends and people that come to my classes, a lot of them tell me they will only ever come to a class or do cardio machines, because they feel like they just don't know what to do with the weights to maximize their time. It IS hard to put together a good strength workout if you haven't done it before.

Follow my "formula", and you'll see how easy it really can be. This "formula" is how I design most of my classes, and it's a great way to vary the moves in the workout. If you come to my classes, you know that I never repeat the same exact workout twice, because it's boring! Swapping circuits, mixing and matching, and taking favorites from different workouts is a great way to switch things up.

People always ask what I think the best type of workout is; yoga, weights, running, cardio machines, etc. Hands down, if I have only 30 minutes to do something and I want to get the most "bang for my buck" it's going to be a strength based circuit workout. What does that mean? Strength based circuit training uses free weights (but some of these workouts won't), short but intense cardio bursts, and body weight exercises.

For the workout design, think 4 movements per circuit. I like to start each circuit with a cardio burst. Think of moves that get your heart racing very fast, and also incorporate a strength movement, like a squat jump. After that, pick 2 total body exercises, and then add on something that engages the abs at the end.

For example:

Perform each exercise for 1 min, repeats circuit 2-3 times

1. Cardio- squat jumps
2. Total body- reverse lunges with a front arm raise using dumbbells
3. Total body- squat/press (squat down and press arms up at the top of the squat with dumbbells)
4. Abs- plank with shoulder taps

You can pick any moves you'd like, but once you've designed a workout, it will start to seem easy!

Below is a page from my book that I bring to each class. I switched up this class by doing the same circuit 3 times, the first was for 1 minute, second was for 45 seconds, and third was for 30 seconds. It helped to make it feel a little easier, since the hard time was going to be the most challenging.

Write out your workout, bring it with you, and feel confident in the weights section of your gym. You know what to do!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Pasta Fagioli Soup

Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the cooler temps and pretty foliage, and I love being able to make a one pot meal that is super easy and tastes amazing.

My girlfriend Alia gave me this recipe. It's meant to be done in the slow cooker, but mine is pretty small, and I realized early on (after throwing a bunch of ingredients in) that it wouldn't fit. I threw everything into my big soup pot and brought it to a boil, reduced it to low, and let it cook for hours on the stove.

This was so good, and will be great for leftovers throughout the week. Now that I'm out teaching 2 (soon to be 3) nights a week, I like to have something easy for Matt to heat up for dinner.

I've also done a little fall decorating around the house. Trader Joe's has mini pumpkins and squash for on 69 cents. I bought a bunch and put them around pillar candles on my dining room table.

On our buffet table in the dining room, I added a glass container with fake artichokes and wine corks. I finally hung my favorite (target) missoni prints. They were such a steal, and I don't know why I didn't think to hang them there. It's the perfect spot! 

I found these cute little glass figurines for my mantel.
Enjoy the soup!
Pasta Fagioli
1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 C carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped (I used 4)
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes with juice
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz) cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
4 C beef broth (I always use low sodium)
1 jar prepared pasta sauce
2 t oregano
1 T hot sauce
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/2 C dry pasta, add at the end of cooking time until done
Use a 6 quart or larger slow cooker, cut the recipe in half, or cook on the stovetop.
Brown the meat in a pan, drain well. While meat is cooking, chop up the veggies, add to the crock pot or large soup pot. Drain and rinse the beans and add to the pot. Add diced tomatoes with juice. Add in pasta sauce, beef broth, and seasonings. Once drained, add beef. Cook on low for 6-8 or high for about 4 hrs. Every crock pot is different, so keep an eye on your soup and taste to see when you think it's done.
This recipe is from my friend Alia, who originally found it on

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Work Updates!

I've had a lot of changes happening work wise, and I'm really excited to share them. If you're a reader, you know that I was previously teaching at Sweat (where I started teaching group fitness) and training women in a small group setting at ZAKTi. The way my schedule was working, I would be in the city on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and then head way out to King of Prussia in the evenings. Matt had to rush home from work in order to watch Connor so I could get to Sweat. Although I enjoyed both work experiences, it was pretty clear by this summer that it wasn't working.

Balancing Connor, home life, and part time work is not easy. I now understand the struggle working moms, part time working moms, and stay at home moms all have. Each role presents it's own challenges. For me, part time work as a fitness instructor has been difficult, because it simply doesn't make sense to pay a babysitter while I'm working. That would essentially defeat the purpose (money wise). So, I had to start pursuing work options where I could bring Connor.

Just like the saying "when it rains, it pours", work opportunities have been popping up all over!

I'm now proud to say that I am working (or will be starting very soon) at three different fitness companies: Philadelphia Sports Clubs, The Haverford YMCA, and Fit 4 Mom/Stroller Strides Media.

I'm teaching total body strength/cardio at 2 (soon to be 3) Philly Sports Club locations- Society Hill, Radnor, and Ardmore (soon). So far, I've been loving it, and the club members have been so welcoming. The Society Hill front desk informed me that I was taking over for an instructor that had been there for 15 years, and had a very loyal following. Not to make me nervous, or anything! At the end of my class, the participants were happy, and one even told me it was the best class she had ever taken. I was so flattered.

Philly Sports Clubs also offers babysitting during my class times (early evenings), so I can bring Connor if Matt isn't going to be home that night. I brought him last week, and he fell asleep on the babysitter-so out of character for him, but so cute! He's now a favorite member there :)

The Haverford YMCA is brand new, and opening today, October 1st. I haven't started yet (as the doors literally opened this morning at 5 am) but am so excited to teach on Fridays and Saturdays. The facility is absolutely beautiful, and is walking distance from our house. I can't wait to have Connor play around with all of the other kids in the Kid Zone while I teach.

My final venture is Fit 4 Mom/Stroller Strides Media. Stroller Strides offers moms fitness classes at outdoor locations (and alternate indoor locations in the winter) where mom can bring the baby. Again, it's so key for moms to have something to do where they don't have to worry about or arrange child care! Not only are these classes a good workout, and fun to interact with other moms, but the kids/babies have fun too. There are different songs, activities, and rhymes done while the moms are working out. The owner of the Media branch, Erin, also organizes things like story time and birthday parties for the kids after certain classes.
I'm so happy to be so busy, and looking forward to meeting a lot of new people! Email me if you'd like to try out a class!
I'll leave you with some recent pictures from a trip to the zoo :)