Thursday, April 24, 2014

Meal Planning Made Easy

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of BIC 4-Color pen. All opinions are 100% mine.

I am all about planning my meals ahead of time when I am home. When I have a set meal schedule it makes clean eating so much easier and effective. When I am in the habit of meal planning (yes, I do fall out of the habit from time to time), I sit down before the week begins, plan my meals and workouts and figure out what I need to purchase from the grocery store. By planning ahead, I don't waste money on buying too much of something that I don't end up needing and I know what I will be eating each day (less stress!).
Meal planning can be a little boring, but if you make it fun and something to look forward to, it really isn't that bad! To make it fun and interesting I use color! BIC 4-color pens are the perfect meal planning tool to make meal planning fun and effective.BIC 4 colors pens have 4 Inseparable Colors in 1 Pen, each with a distinct personality-- blue (the boss), green (the foodie), red (the perfectionist), black (the handsome one). So which one am I? Well green of course! Green is such a foodie that he chronicles each of his daily meals on his social media profiles. Doesn't that sound like me? Because if you eat a meal and don't take a picure of it, did it really even happen? Nope. So each color has a personality that you can put to work on your meal planning.
With 4 colors, this pen is the perfect tool to get you on to the meal planning bandwagon. By using different colors for different meals or for different days, you can't go wrong using a 4-color pen! Flashback to taking notes in different colors in middle school, am I right?
Check out these videos for more of the colorful fun:

Have I convinced you to jump on the meal planning bandwagon? It has been a huge factor in my journey to healthy eating and has helped me plan my workouts ahead of time too!

Where can you buy the BIC 4 color pen to aid in your meal planning? Amazon and Staples! And check out their Facebook and Twitter sites while you are at it!

Let me know how you meal plan and what you do to make it fun!

Do you color-code too? I love it and a 4-in-1 pen makes meal planning a perfect tool for success!

Visit Sponsor's Site

It's All About Balance

Today we are talking balance. We all have busy lifestyles and it can be difficult to get everything we want to get done every day. I am sharing what's important for me to keep a balanced life and how I do it. I encourage you to join along in the comments below and share how you keep balanced in your busy life! 
// School
I’m not going to lie- being a full-time college student is a lot of work. It seems like there is always a paper due or an exam on the horizon. I make school my #1 priority during the school year (as hard as it can be) and take my studies very seriously. I do not know where I would be without my “to-do lists.” Every week I look at all of my class syllabuses and figure out what is due during the week, what readings need to be completed, and what exams I need to study for. This way I know everything I have to get done throughout the week and nothing feels better than crossing off items on my to-do list.
// Social Life
College has brought me so many friendships and I am forever thankful for them. With busy schedules it can be difficult to find time to meet up with friends, but it is important to make that time to spend with friends, especially those friends you are not able to see every day. My friend and I have schedules that just don’t meet up during the week, but since we don’t have Friday classes we always grab lunch together on Fridays and are able to catch up with each other’s weeks.
I also make sure to keep up with my friends that go to different colleges than I do. I have some friends that have gone to school out-of-state and some that have stayed home to commute to college. I make sure to stay connected with them by planning Skype dates and texting them when something comes up that reminds me of them. I cherish the times that all of our schedules bring us back to our home town and when we are able to spend time together.
// Extra-Curriculars
As I mentioned before, I am active with many clubs across campus. I absolutely love being involved in the clubs that I am in and have made countless friendships through them. I always make sure to be available when my clubs meet and although I may be at a meeting and miss my favorite tv show, it is worth it and I never regret being involved in the clubs that I am in. I also work my homework around my meeting times. I usually try to get all my homework done by the time I have to head out to a meeting, or I plan out what to get done before and what to get done when I get back. It’s all about balance!

// Work
As a full-time college student, I only work part-time so that I can focus on my school work. When I am at work that is my focus and I don’t let anything on my mind distract me while at work. If I am stressed with a class, I do my best to push it out of my head for the few hours that I am at work. On the other hand, when I in class, at a meeting, or working out, I don’t let anything bothering me at work distract me from the present moment.
// Exercise
Exercise is a HUGE priority for me. I am a Tone It Up girl and it has made me love working out. I love the motivation of the Tone It Up community and although I may not always get the best workout in or may not be able to workout at all, I try to love every minute that I am working out and know that exercise is important for a healthy body. Getting in a daily workout is what keeps me focused on everything else I do throughout the day. I never feel complete without a workout! Last semester I was able to get up everyday before class and go for a 3-4 mile run. This semester my schedule doesn't work out as perfectly, so I have to save my workouts for later in the day. I always love getting in a good sweat before the day really begins, but I just have to push myself a little harder in the evening! Whenever it works out in your schedule  is when you should make the time to workout. If morning workouts are not an option, don’t use that as an excuse to not workout at all… use any chance you have! Lunch break, pre-dinner, evening,… whenever! Setting out your workout clothes beforehand makes working out even easier! Set out your outfit and as soon as you get the chance to workout, put on your outfit and get your workout on!
// Food
Oh, food. I love food, but as a Tone It Up girl I do watch what I eat. I also eat a dairy-free diet (most days) so navigating the college cafeteria can be sometimes be difficult. I always eat breakfast (so important), even if that means I have to get up 20 minutes earlier. Breakfast usually consists of Kashi Go Lean cereal and a banana. Sometimes I’ll include a piece of toast or a hard-boiled egg or switch it all up and go for oatmeal. I always aim for getting protein and fruit into my breakfast. Perfect brain food! For lunch, I go for a salad, wrap, sandwich, or soup. Usually I am grabbing a quick lunch between classes, so I try to go for what is quick, but still full of nutrients. Dinner is always different, sometimes a salad, fish, chicken, usually whatever is the “main entrĂ©e” in the cafeteria that day. I do snack throughout the day and love Luna bars and Larabars. I also munch on pretzels, nuts, and fruit throughout the day. After I eat dinner, finish up homework, go to meetings, work, workout, etc. I am always ready for an evening snack. My favorite evening snacks are dark chocolate, popcorn, and sometimes a piece of fruit to cure my sweet tooth! I try to limit my evening snacking so sometimes I just go for a cup of herbal tea instead. I do not count calories, but rather I just try to eat the right foods at the right times, like no carbs after lunch. Check out the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan for more about that!

// Sleep
Sleep is something that we all need different amounts of. Of course there is the amount we always see written in magazines and online articles, but there is that certain amount that each of us need for us to function at our best. Mine is anywhere between 8 to 8+1/2 hours of sleep. I know some people that can function just fine on 7 hours and others that function best on 9 hours of sleep. Everyone is different, but it is important to get however much sleep you require each night. I always figure out what time I have to be up at and calculate what time I need to be in bed by if I want at least 8 hours of sleep. Of course, that doesn't always happen (and my body can feel it the next day!), but most days I aim for 8 to 8+1/2 hours to feel my best and allow my body to recover from working out.                                                                                             
// Family
Family is so important to me. I would be no where without my family. As my brothers and I have grown up and gone our different ways for school and work, I cherish the time that we do spend all together as a family. We may not see each other every day or even every weekend, but every time we do see each other, we pick up right where we left off. I have also noticed how much I have come to appreciate everything my parents have done for me and continue to do for me. Now that I am in college and away from them, I have realized how much they have given up to raise a family and how much they love our family. I hope that one day I can be a parent to my children, as they have been to me and my brothers.
// Me Time
In a busy lifestyle that we all have it is important to take some time out of each day for "me time." Take time to do something that you love and something that will make you happy. For me, I love to spend my "me time" running, reading, practicing yoga or simply taking a walk. It is a time for me to spend on myself and  time that I am able to spend without feeling rushed or anxious. Whether it is just 10 minutes or an hour, it is always important for me to add in "me time" daily to make myself happy.

With finals week approaching, balance is as important as ever. It can be difficult to take my own advice sometimes, but it is important to remember that balance is key, even during a stressful week. I still must make time for myself, for my health, for my family, etc. while balancing the heavy load of the last few days of the semester.

Of course all of these priorities will change as I enter into summer break, but balance is always important in any lifestyle. In the summer I am a full-time worker and part-time student with more time on my hands so I still have to find the right balance of everything.

How do you stay balanced?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

{WIAW} Meat Fest

Okay, this post isn't going to be all about meat, but since I can eat meat again following lent, expect some meals with meat now ;). I'm not the biggest meat eater, but after giving meat up for lent and struggling to find healthy options in the cafeteria without meat and dairy was quite the struggle. I have definitely been enjoying the last few days not having to say "I'll have the salad without chicken" or "I'll have a sandwich without meat and cheese." I definitely got weird looks with the second one.
Anyway, let's move on to yesterday's eats in normal What I Ate Wednesday fashion, shall we?
After a weekend of celebration of Easter (lots of Church, little sleep), I am finally back on my sleeping schedule and I finally woke up refreshed. I was ready for my usual breakfast, but the caf was out of both the Kashi cereal and bananas. Sigh.
I settled on Special K Red Berries cereal with almond milk, a green apple, and coffee with a splash of almond milk. It wasn't my favorite, but it filled me up and kept me satisfied through class.
I packed a snack and had it packed in my backpack ready to snack on between classes, but I ended up using a my tote bag instead of my backpack and forgot to switch the snack over. I realized it as soon as I sat down to eat it and realized my snack was back in my dorm room. Luckily my class is only 50 minutes so I just headed to lunch right after.

For lunch I had a Michigan Cherry Pecan salad with chicken and a side of grapes. It was so nice to have a salad with chicken on it and it was a delicious salad too!
A few hours later I was ready for a snack so I snacked on a Peanut Butter Cookie Larabar-- my favorite flavor! It was nice to snack on what tastes like a treat but is actually a clean bar!
I wasn't eating dinner until a little later than usual so I just had to have a slice of a dairy-free banana bread my mom made me over the weekend. She gave me the leftovers to take back to school and it's taking all my willpower not to eat the rest of it in one sitting.
Dinner was with my college church group as we celebrated Easter and the end of the semester. We enjoyed lamb, salad, pasta, and cheese & crackers. It was so good and it was nice to see everyone before we all head out separate ways for the summer. I may or may not have had a cookie too ;)

Unfortunately, I got a stomach ache after eating the dinner (thanks dairy), but it was too good to regret eating. I hopped on the stationary bike when I got back to my dorm and I felt much better after getting a good sweat in. It's amazing what a good workout can do for you!

Alright, time for me to finish breakfast and get to class to get this day rolling! Next week is finals week so it is time to get studying and prepare for the craziness of next week. All I can think about is being done with the semester a week from tomorrow! It's crazy how fast time flies!!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Family, Food, & Sunshine

Good morning! Today I am sharing a recap of yesterday's Easter celebration with my family! I had a wonderful time and I could not have asked for better weather. 70 degrees and sunny! The day started quite late since we were at church until around 3 in the morning. After waking up refreshed, I relaxed with my family and after opening Easter baskets I headed out for a 3 mile run followed by the Tone It Up Easter Bunny workout two times through. Once I was done it was time to get ready for all of my family to come over to celebrate the holiday.
It was a beautiful day and I was so thankful to celebrate Christ's Resurrection with my family. Good food was of course on the menu, and I was stuffed all day. Good thing the Bikini Series is next week!

Never short on food with my family!
After over 40 days without meat I was so excited to finally eat some. I'm not the biggest meat eater, but going so long without it definitely made me excited for Easter dinner!
Easter Egg Hunt for the kiddos
 I miss the days when I was able to participate in all of the fun!

My brother wasn't able to make it home for Easter this year so we Skyped him on our TV instead! Everyone loved being able to say hi and see him. It was like he was right in the room with us ;)

And of course, Easter is not complete without a full dessert spread!
My mom even made dairy-free chocolate cupcakes! So delicious!

It was a wonderful holiday filled with all of my favorite things. I am back at school today and it's back to the grind since next week is finals week! I just need to push through the next week and a half and I will be free for summer break (minus one summer class) and finally able to relax at home and enjoy the sunshine.

How was your Easter?
How is the weather in you neck of the woods?
Crazy to think it was just snowing here on Tuesday!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Weekly Workout Recap

Happy Easter! Christ is Risen! I pray you all have a wonderful holiday today and are able to celebrate with your loved ones. Last night, my family and I celebrated the resurrection service at church and it was a late night for this girl! I woke up late this morning and have been enjoying family time so far today.
Lunch at the Soup Spoon Cafe
"Peacemaker" sandwich
Dairy-free fro-yo
Yum, yum, yum (with some cheesecake and brownie bites and fruit too!)
Dinner at home (I miss these so much when I am at school!)
Salmon stuffed with crab, portabella mushroom cap stuffed with crab, asparagus, and a side salad

Friday morning I had work and later in the morning my parents and my brother picked me up from my dorm and we had lunch, visited my apartment for next year, and had some frozen yogurt. They had dairy-free fro-yo and I was in heaven! It was a beautiful day so it was nice to walk around Grand River for a little while before heading home for the weekend. Once we got home we got ready for church, ate dinner, then headed to church. I was hoping to get in a workout before church, but it didn't happen.
Saturday morning I relaxed with my parents for a little while then headed out for a run. I had only planned on doing a couple miles, but wanted to run through downtown Clarkston since it was a nice morning and I was finally running pain-free. Almost 7 miles later, and I was back home. It was a wonderful run and I was ready to get the rest of my day going. I got ready quickly and headed to get my haircut (it's finally short again!) and went shopping with my brother. I have absolutely no willpower shopping around fitness clothes. I bought a few new pieces and I found my favorite pair of Nike cross trainer shoes. I am obsessed and cannot wait to wear them! I have been in need of cross trainer shoes and I fell in love with these Nikes and just had to buy them. Like I said, no willpower.

This morning I woke up (just a little bit ago!) and enjoyed breakfast and Easter basket opening time. Yes, the Easter bunny still spoils me! ;) I am heading out for today's workout followed with getting the house ready for our family coming over in just a few hours. I'll have an Easter recap for you tomorrow to share the day with you all!
Weekly Workout Recap
Monday (4/14) PM- 2.6 mile run
Tuesday (4/15) Off
Wednesday (4/16) PM- 4.7 mile run
Thursday (4/17) PM- 3.2 mile run, TIU Itty Bitty Bikini abs workout x3
Friday (4/18) Off
Saturday (4/19) PM- 6.9 mile run
Sunday (4/20) AM- 3.2 mile run, TIU Easter Bunny workout x2
Total mileage: 20.4 miles

Pretty good workout week even with two rest days! I loved my long run on Saturday and can't wait for summer break when I can get in more long runs on weekend mornings!

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 18, 2014

{Friday Favorites} 4/18

Hey there! Happy Friday! To say that I am excited that today is finally Friday would be an understatement. I am done with work and my parents and brother are on their way to come pick me up. I am so excited to be heading home for Easter this weekend. I have been at church almost every night this week and it has been building up for the celebration to come on Sunday. So excited!

Before we get to ahead of ourselves (it's only Friday!), let's move on to this week's {Friday Favorites}!
As Lent and Holy Week are coming to an end, I have been reflecting a lot more on my faith and have really been appreciating every church service I have been able to attend this week. With a busy schedule, I love being able to attend church and focus on my faith.
I adore Lauren Conrad and am in love with her spring collection. Okay, I'm in love with all of her design collections, but I really need to find time to head over to Kohl's soon. I love that dress!! And it's on sale ;)
I have this Tone It Up Easter Bunny workout on my workout schedule for this weekend and I can't wait to do it along with a run. Maybe it'll be warm enough to complete outside with shorts?! Fingers crossed!
I have always loved Jennifer Lawrence since watching the Hunger Games, but her attitude towards Hollywood and dieting is so honest and I love her for that. I love that she is standing up and being a positive role model against unhealthy dieting.
So in love with this song right now

Alright, I must leave you... I still have to finish packing! Have a wonderful holiday weekend and enjoy the beautiful weather. I will check back in with you on Sunday!

What are your weekend plans?
Favorite Easter treat? -- Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Eggs all the way for me!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

{Book Review} Born to Run

Just about two weeks ago I finished reading Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall. I had never previously read any sort of running book of this nature, but I had heard multiple people rave about how awesome this book was. Well, now I am one of those people too! I find it so hard to find time throughout the semester to read a book for my own pleasure, but with this book, I made time! It was that good.
I became interested in reading the book after hearing a lot of other bloggers praise the book highly and also after watching McDougall's TED talk. I'm obsessed with TED talks and his talk was great and opened me up into the research behind running. If you want to learn more about the book and research behind the Tarahumara I highly recommend watching the TED talk, along with reading the book of course!

The basic premise of Born to Run is Christopher McDougall's quest to learn the secrets of the Tarahumara Indians, a tribe of the world's greatest distance runners. McDougall learns from the Tarahumara that everything we think we know about running is running. The Tarahumara run hundreds of miles a week and never get injured, yet we run much less and most of us get injured time and time again. While researching and writing the book, McDougall trained for his first ultramarathon which was between the Tarahumara and some of the country's best ultrarunners and we learn how he trained for such a race and how other ultrarunners trained as well.

McDougall argues that all humans are born to run and proves so throughout the book. He explains the background history of each ultrarunner featured in the book and each of the runners come from a background where you wouldn't realize they would become ultramarathon runners. Throughout the book I found multiple quotes that spoke so true to me. One was a quote on our destiny to be runners.
This book really brought out my love for running and the desire I have to continue to run and improve my running. I am not going out and becoming an ultramarathon runner, but this book is relevant to any runner. There is so much science behind the sport and McDougall researched a lot into the science of running. I highly recommend this book for any runner out there, whether you can only run 1 mile right now or can run a marathon. There is so much to be learned from this book and I wouldn't be surprised if I pick up this book again (a rarity for me).

And to leave you with one quote that made me burst out laughing...
Sometimes the best runs are the ones that solve all of your problems. What else are you going to do while running miles on end without going crazy?

Thoughts on Born to Run?
What to read next?
I need recommendations, summer break is coming up!