“Snack Attack” for Chia Seed Pudding

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Chia seed pudding is a simple and delicious way to get the health benefits of chia seeds. It takes minutes to make and has enough protein and nutrients to be a quick, on-the-go breakfast option. When I prep my chia seed pudding I use small mason jars. You can also reuse baby food jars.

Chia seeds are a “whole grain” food and are non-GMO and naturally free of gluten. They are one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Chia seeds are loaded with fiber, protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, various micronutrients and antioxidants.

You can add variety to your chia seed pudding by adding shaved almonds (pictured above), assorted nuts, blueberries for breakfast or chocolate shavings for a low-sugar dessert.

Chia Seed Pudding Recipe

Prep: 5 minutes, Total Time: 5 minutes, Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (or less) pure maple syrup or agave

Instructions:

  1. For blended/smooth version: Place all ingredients in blender (I use my Nutribullet) and blend for 1-2 minutes until completely smooth.
  2. For whole chia seed version: Blend all ingredients except chia seeds in a blended or Nutribullet until smooth (including any added flavors, fruits or chocolate). Whisk in chia seeds.
  3. Pour mixture into mason jar or glass container and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight to gel. I usually prepare my chia seed pudding at night to have ready for breakfast the next day. It is also great to make in the morning for a delicious pre-made dessert at night.
  4. Add shaved almonds, nuts and/or fresh fruit and enjoy!

 

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Let’s Get To “The CORE”

How many times have you had an instructor, article or workout video tell you to “engage your core”? Most of us know we need to strengthen it, can feel it burning when it’s tired and know we should be engaging it throughout the day and during exercise. But what IS the core. What is it made of? And what specifically does it need to be strengthened?

What is the core made of?

To put it very, very simply: Your core is made up of the adominals (Rectus Abdominis & Transverse Abdominis), the obliques (Internal Oblique & External Oblique), the muscles of the back (Erector Spinae Group), and the muscles of the pelvic floor. core-muscles-II.jpgCore-Muscle-Anatomy.jpg

Movements of The Core

Diving a little deeper you should also know the functions/movements of the core so you can strengthen them properly. (Trunk and Core can be used interchangibly)

  • Trunk Flexion: Bending forward or “curl up” movement
  • Trunk Extension: Standing straight up from bent over position, bending backwards
  • Trunk Rotation: Twisting from left to right
  • Lateral Trunk Flexion: Bending from side to side
  • Compression of the Abdomen: Drawing your belly button in towards the spine
  • Spinal Stability: The ability to hold your spine stable during movement

What Does The Core Need to be Strengthened?

To functionally train and strengthen the core you should choose exercises that challenge all ranges of motion the core can move through. Trunk rotation, or twisting left and right, is often the most underused form of core strengthening though we perform this action countless times during the day. (Side note: Functional training is simply training movements in the gym that you commonly use in your daily activities and/or fixing the improper movements you perform or reinforce in your daily activities (desk posture for example)

Spinal stability, or the ability to hold your spine stable during movement, is a key component of having a healthy and functional core. Think of when you pick up something heavy from the floor or move something from one place to another. This is one of the most important times to “engage your core” to prevent improper lifting or injury to the back. A basic exercise to learn to engage the core and hold the spine stable during movement is a pelvic tilt.

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In the starting position of a pelvic tilt your back should be separated from the floor (there is a gap between your low back and the floor). Rotate your hips by drawing your belly button in towards your spine, tucking your tailbone or “tucking your tail between your legs” and flatten your low back so you are pressing against the floor. You should be pressing hard enough that someone could not slide their hand between your low back and the floor. Perform this movement 10 times, holding your low back against the floor for 10 seconds. Make sure to breathe.

Once you have mastered the pelvic tilt laying down, you are one step closer to being able to “engage your core”! The next task is to master this movement in standing. neutral spine.jpegStanding with a neutral spine is a safe and effective start position for exercise. The anterior tilt photo is the same as the start position of the pelvic tilt on the ground. The posterior tilt photo is the same as the finishing position of the pelvic tilt on the ground. The “happy medium” between the two where you are standing tall with you core slightly engaged/supportive/drawn in is called neutral spine. 

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Neutral spine can also be referred to as “flat back position”. Prior to picking up a heavy object you should find your pelvic-tilt-happy-medium or neutral spine position to ensure your core is supporting your spine. This will greatly decrease your risk of injury during heavy lifting, or any lifting really.

Ready, Set, Strengthen!

Now that you have practiced and are familiar with what it REALLY means to “engage the core” you are ready to start strengthening. Try these 6 core strengthening exercises in your next workout or at home! You will notice there are 6 different movements performed in these exercises. You are now functionally training your core by strengthening it in the ranges of motion it is able to move through.

Toe Touches: 2-3 sets of 20 reps

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Reverse Lunge with Weight Transfer/Rotation: 2-3 sets of 20 reps each side

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Trunk Extension/Superman: 2-3 sets of 20 reps

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Side Plank Oblique Crunch: 2-3 sets of 15 reps on each side

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Dead Bug: 2-3 sets of 20 reps keeping back flat on floor (pelvic tilt)

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Deadlift/Spinal Stability: 2-3 sets of 20 reps (IMPORTANT: Begin with body weight. Keep core engaged during movement with a neutral spine/flat back position. Body weight should be in your heels, squeeze you butt and hips forward to stand, keeping neutral spine position.)

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Guilt Free Cookie Dough

And you can eat it raw!

Worry no more about getting sick from raw cookie dough or over indulging your sweet tooth. This cookie dough recipe is raw, vegan and gluten-free (no eggs, no flour, grain-free, refined-sugar-free, GUILT FREE!)

You can satisfy that late night sweet tooth with a couple spoonfuls of this cookie dough that will not break your calorie bank.

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Raw Cookie Dough Recipe

Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (or 1 1/2 cups cooked) white beans or chickpeas
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup almond butter (or allergy friendly sub)
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup, honey or agave
  • 1/4 cup quick oats of flaxmeal
  • scant 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda (this gives a cookie dough flavor)
  • 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Instructions:

Drain beans, rinse extremely well and pat dry. Process all ingredients (except chocolate chips) in a food processor until completely smooth (I use my Nutribullet and it works extremely well). Stir in chocolate chips. This cookie dough tastes best served chilled. Cover leftovers and store in the fridge.

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30 Minute Lean Legs

If your goal is to build strong, lean legs I have some good news for you. You do not need expensive equipment and can even do it from your living room! For days when you’re short on time but you need to hit that movement goal, try this 30 minute home or outdoor workout to feel a good burn and tone those legs.

Reminder: Do not hesitate to modify the workout to suit your fitness level. You can start by completing fewer sets or reps and work your way up. 

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The Workout

Begin by warming up for 5 minutes with a jog, high knees, butt kickers, walking lunges (forward and/or reverse).

Circuit One: Complete 5 rounds for a total of 10 minutes

  • Split Squat Right Leg: 30 seconds
  • Split Squat Left Leg: 30 seconds
  • Walking Lunges: 30 seconds
  • Jumping Lunges: 30 seconds

Circuit Two: Complete 5 rounds for a total of 10 minutes

  • Wide Stance Squat: 30 seconds
  • Regular Stance Squat: 30 seconds
  • Pulsing Squat: 30 seconds
  • Jump Squat: 30 seconds
End workout with a 5 minute cool down with static stretching; standing quad stretch, standing hamstring stretch and standing calf stretch.

Health Benefits of Herbs

Herbs have been playing a major role in improving the overall health of the body for decades. Herbs strengthen the immune system, lower blood sugar and cholesterol, have anti-inflammatory properties and prevent Alzheimer’s diseases and various types of cancer.

Herbs eliminate the nutritional deficiencies in your body and thus restore the correct function of the body. It is also said that herbs nourish every part of the body with their vitamin and mineral content. In short, our body needs certain essential dietary nutrients to meet the everyday demands of life because herbs provide us with most of the necessary components for a healthy life.

Here are some health benefits of 5 herbs I use very often (and also grow at home!).

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Sage (top left)

  • memory retention
  • increased concentration and focus
  • decrease inflammation, particularly in joints, respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, and cardiovascular system
  • antioxidants
  • vitamin K (not found in many foods), helps to develop bone density
  • topical for the skin can be effective against eczema, psoriasis and acne

Parsley (top right)

  • anti-diabetic properties, decreases blood sugar
  • controls rhematoid arthritis
  • anti-cancer
  • anti-inflammatory
  • effective against osteoporosis, helps maintain bone health
  • diuretic effects, controls kidney stones, UTIs, gallblader stones
  • strengthens immune system

Basil (middle)

  • anti-inflammatory
  • antioxidant
  • pain and fever reducer
  • protects the liver
  • protects the blood vessels
  • strengthens immune system
  • helps to decrease stress

Cilantro (bottom left)

  • natural food preservative
  • antioxidant
  • may help prevent cardiovascular damage
  • promotes calm feelings, mood boost
  • promotes normal blood sugar levels
  • improves sleep quality
  • normal fluid balance and urine flow
  • supports bone health
  • contains Vitamin A which supports eye health

Rosemary (bottom right)

  • antioxidant
  • anti-inflammatory
  • improves digestion
  • enhances memory and concentration
  • protective against brain damage and might improve recovery
  • prevents brain aging
  • protection against macular degeneration

Bands, Bands, Bands

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No gym? No weights? No time? No problem!

You can find exercises bands of all shapes and sizes online (amazon, groupon, etc.) and the truth is, I have never met a band I didn’t like. Resistance bands, booty bands, therabands, whatever you want to call them; go online and get some!

Resistance bands can and should be bought in a variety pack. You can build strength and use greater resistance as you progress in your workouts, you can use minimal resistance for stability or core work and you can use different resistances for different movements/body parts.

Once your new bands arrive at your door, try these two exercises to improve your posture and core strength:

1. Squat + Band Row

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Stand tall with feet hip width apart. Descend into a squat (as if to sit back in a chair) keeping your body weight in your heels, knees behind the toes. Keep your shoulders down, away from your ears as you enter the bottom of your squat, hands extended in front of you. Your core should be engaged to avoid pressure in the low back.

To stand, push through your heels, driving the hips forward, squeezing your glutes (butt muscles). Note: Your knees should stay aligned over your ankles, never allow your knees to buckle in toward each other as you stand up from a squat or seated position. Core should remain engaged.

After reaching the standing position, bend the elbow and row with the resistance band. Keep your shoulders down, away from your ears and squeeze your scapulas (shoulder blades) together.

Repeat 20 reps for 2-3 sets.

2. Core Anti-Rotation

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Stand tall with feet hip width apart. Start by facing where the band is anchored. You should face the band by rotating your ribcage (or upper body), keeping your hips facing the front or square.

Before you rotate, make sure you are standing tall, squeeze your glutes (butt muscles) to keep hips stable, draw your belly button in towards your spine, keep your shoulders down away from your ears, arms extended straight in front of your body. Take a deep breath.

To rotate, keep your belly button drawn in, exhale and pull the band until your ribacge (upper body) is in line with your hips.

Repeat 20 times on each side for 2-3 sets.

 

If You’re Not Prepped, You’re Not Prepared!

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How often do you hear about and see pictures of “meal prep”? Have you tried it? What’s the big deal about meal prep anyway?

Not only can prepping your meals help you save time and money, it can help you achieve fitness and weight loss goals you have not been able to achieve before. Having your meals pre-planned will help you stay on track, eat smaller portions, eat more often and you might even learn a new recipe or two!

Staying on track is key with fitness and nutrition programs. You can expect to have a slip-up or a “cheat day” every now and then, but you should quickly get back to the nutrition program you have set in place. I like to tell my clients, “Everything in moderation.” We are not often successful on an all or nothing type diet (For example; extremely low-no carb). Instead you should focus on eating whole foods (whole grains, protein, healthy fats, no added sugar, limit alcohol) and exercise regularly. By adopting these habits you can boost your metabolism, help your body run cleaner and more efficiently and loose those pesky pounds. Consistency in your diet and workout routine will inspire your body to run like a well oiled machine, burning calories as you consume them. I recommend starting your day with 12-16 oz. of water followed by breakfast, eating small meals every 2-3 hours and standing for a few minutes at the very least each hour of the day. Do this day after day and you have achieved CONSISTENCY. You’re on your way!

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Basic Prep Layout:

  • Breakfast (oats & berries or egg whites & ground chicken)
  • Snack (protein bar)
  • Lunch (ground turkey & sweet potato)
  • Snack (apple, berries, carrots & hummus)
  • Dinner (salmon salad or chicken & vegetables)
  • Snack (if necessary)
(All menus and meal plans should be specific to each individual. This is a baseline plan. For more information on meal planning or for a custom meal plan please email Kate@fitbodiesbykate.com)