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Tuesday, January 27, 2015


It's been a while since we've caught up via Instagram, hasn't it? I will fully admit to being addicted to Instagram and checking it multiple times per day, but it gives me motivation to workout and inspiration to eat healthy, so it can't be that bad of an addiction right?

Since many pictures I take and post to Instagram don't always find their way onto a blog post, here are some recent Instagram pictures from my profile!

Thank you Starbucks �� Free download of @tarastiles Make Your Own Rules Diet �� Can't wait to start reading! #MakeYourOwnRulesDiet #TaraStiles #Starbucks #iBooks #FitFam #TIUTeam #ToneItUp #TIUGirl #FitFluential #SweatPink #InspiringFitness #ImFitPossible #MoveNourishBelieve #ActiveLiving
Newest read thanks to Starbucks!
Done with class for today so it is officially the weekend! Treated myself to #Starbucks [dark roast with soy milk] to celebrate ��☕️✨ Happy Friday! #TIUTeam #TIULoveYourBody
Done with class at 10am on Fridays, so I swing by Starbucks on my way back and enjoy a dark roast with soy milk to celebrate the end of the week
��Love this quote for #tiuphotoaday�� Especially with the #TIUloveyourbody series in full swing, I am working on being more comfortable in my skin and pushing my negative thoughts away and focusing on what I �� about my body. * No BootyCall this morning �� I was hoping to participate in Sunday Runday but I have been dealing with a bad backache since last evening. I am hoping taking a day off of working out will help. Fingers crossed! ��
This quote <3
A delish green smoothie before heading to my aunt's house for a New Years celebration �� It feels so good to be back on track with my eats and workouts, and what better time than the start of the #TIULoveYourBody series?! ��
Green smoothies are always my favorite!
This dinner was a little more involved than my usual quickie dinners but absolutely worth it! Ground turkey with taco seasoning on a bed of lettuce topped with corn, salsa, & dairy free cheese with a sweet potato on the side. And I have leftovers too for the weekend ��#TIUTeam #TIULoveYourBody
I need to recreate this dinner ASAP- ground turkey with taco seasoning on a bed of lettuce topped with corn, salsa, and dairy- free cheese with a sweet potato on the side

A Monday with no class calls for waffle making ��#TIUTeam #tiuloveyourbody #ToneItUp #TIUMichigan #TIUStudent #College #Cooking #FitFam #FitFluential #MyFFMeal #SweatPink
Waffle making essentials

@jharps_tiu tagged me to #StopDropandSelfie just as I was heading to sleep last night so woke up this morning to snap my selfie! ☀️Currently eating breakfast and sipping on coffee before heading off to my only class of the day ☕️Then it's homework time before work in the afternoon! �� What are you up to this morning ladies? @kelli__tiu @tiu_erica125 @tiu_kelliann #TIUTeam #TIULoveYourBody #ToneItUp #TIUMichigan #TIUStudent #TIUSelfie #TIUGirl
This scarf has been my obsession this winter- so warm! I end up wearing it during class and while studying to keep myself comfy

Afternoon sweat fest at my apartment complex gym ���� #TIUTeam #TIUGirl #TIULoveYourBody
Just another afternoon sweat fest, complements of Tone It Up

See my past Insta-Life posts:
June 2014
October 2014

What's new with you via Instagram?
How often do you check in on Instagram?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Getting Fit with the ActivMotion Bar

Through my partnership with Sweat Pink, I was recently able to have the chance to try out a new-to-me piece of fitness equipment. At first sight, I thought it was an ordinary fitness bar that I could use in my strength training, but upon further research I found a piece of equipment that has become a staple in my workout routine.

The ActivMotion Bar.
This bar is different from your ordinary fitness bar because inside of the bar are rolling steel weights that allow for a workout that will challenge your entire body. As you move the bar from side to side, you will hear the weights move around inside. Once you start working out with the bar, you will continually try to keep those weights centered and be challenged during your entire workout. So not only will the ActivMotion Bar strengthen your core, but it will also help you to improve your balance and stability.

So why the rolling steel weights? The weights inside allow for a unique progressive training system called Disruptive Training which is utilizes the body's experience of unstable disruptive training stimulus.  During Disruptive Training, which is what you are doing by using the ActivMotion Bar, your body is challenged with a completely new training stimulus as your body moves through three phases- disrupt, discover, and define- all that leave you with increased core strength, improved mind-muscle activation, and muscles that will perform. By doing challenging movements with the ActivMotion Bar and Disruptive Training, you are able to improve every aspect of your fitness.
Upon receiving a rather large box that held the ActivMotion Bar inside, along with a set of DVDs to use, I was excited to put it to use. When I started my first workout with the bar, I noticed how much the rolling steel weights moved from side to side and just how difficult it was to keep the bar stable. Over time, I noticed myself improving and being able to keep the steel weights in the middle of the bar. By increasing my core strength, balance, and stability, I was able to progress through the moves and truly test myself.

I put together a quick video to show you three moves that you can complete with the ActivMotion Bar. One is focused on core, one on balance, and one on strength, but don't be fooled- these work the entire body! You can also check out the ActivMotion Bar Movement Library for even more moves to do with the bar.
Tank: Lorna Jane | Capris: Reebok | Shoes: Asics

You may wonder who exactly this bar is suitable for? In my opinion, anyone looking to improve their fitness levels. Whatever level you are at whether a fitness enthusiast for professional athlete, I believe that this bar can challenge you to improve your fitness and achieve your goals.

I have happily added my ActivMotion Bar to my apartment "gym" and use it regularly along with the DVDs to supplement my workouts. I was surprised to see how much my heart rate got up with the use of the bar during one 30 minute workout!

I was also happy to see that ActivMotion Bar is a Michigan-based company, which I love to support!

What is your favorite way to workout at home?

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by ActivMotion Bar. All thoughts and opinions are my own, as always.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Weekly Workout Recap

Good morning! I hope your Sunday is off to a wonderful start! How is the weather over by you? I hear some places are getting a ton of snow today! I woke up to no snow falling so I guess that means I'll be getting in my run outside today, which is absolutely perfect in my book! This weekend has been pretty relaxing and not too much going on. Friday I worked on homework and relaxed after class in the morning, then yesterday I worked out in the morning then worked through the late morning and early afternoon then came back to do homework. Later my roommate and I had planned to have a movie night and my roommate suggested getting fro-yo before the movie. And of course I said yes!
 It was exactly what I had been craving and was so good! The fro-yo place by our apartment has dairy-free fro-yo, which is really good, but when it comes to toppings I have to get those cheesecake bites. So good! We ended up watching Barefoot, which was really good. I hadn't heard of it previously, but we were intrigued by the plot on Netflix and just had to watch it. We both enjoyed it with our fro-yo in hand!

Today I am heading off to church in a bit then I have a few hours to get the rest of my homework done and fit in a run. I am only planning on running a 5k since I have been running a lot the past few days. After that I'll be at work for a few hours then come back to my apartment and get all ready for the week ahead. A full week of classes and work, and a busy one at that!

Here's how my workouts looked this past week:
Weekly Workout Recap
Sunday (1/18) Off
Monday (1/19) PM- Cupid's Cardio (3.3 miles), Love Your Total Body
Tuesday (1/20) PM- Set the Bar (Beach Babe 2 DVD), Love Your Arms & Abs
Wednesday (1/21) PM- 3 miles on the elliptical, Love Your Booty, Malibooty
Thursday (1/22) PM- 7.5 mild run, Love Your Abs
Saturday (1/24) AM- 5.0 mile run, FitnessBlender Abs + Upper Strength Training workout

I think I am finally getting into the swing of things with my new schedule. Between classes, work, and meetings, I have still been fitting in workouts each day. Sometimes I have to workout after classes and right before I go to work, other times I'm not able to workout until I am done with class and meetings for the day. It's a different routine than my usual morning workouts last semester, but I am finally getting used to it!

What is one highlight from your weekend?

Friday, January 23, 2015

{Friday Favorites} 1/23

Hey friends! Sorry I missed you all yesterday. I didn't get a chance to write up a post on Wednesday since I spent any time I wasn't in class or at work reading for my American Political Theory class. I definitely have my work cut out for me in that class! I had a ton of reading to get done within 2 days and it took me every single spare minute to get that reading done, so I did not have any time to write the post I had wanted to. That being said, I am so ready for the weekend to begin! With just one class this morning, it is so near and I can't wait. I have to work on Saturday and Sunday, but I still plan on relaxing and getting ahead for next week. I feel like the semester is in full swing now that there are no more long weekends so it's time for me to get my head back in the game.

For now, let's celebrate Friday with a round of {Friday Favorites}!
As usual I am linking up today's post with HeatherKatie, and Clare
Egg Cooker
My parents bought an egg cooker over the summer and while I was home I made great use of it. Between hard boiled eggs, poached eggs, omelettes, soft boiled eggs, I really was able to get good use of it and when I moved to my apartment I was a tad jealous to leave it back at home. I found a good deal on one over winter break and happily bought it for my apartment (I bought this: Chefman Electric Egg Cooker ). It has made meal prepping hard boiled eggs for the week SO much easier and I can enjoy eggs of any variety in just a few minutes. All you have to do is add the number of eggs you want, the amount of water needed, plug it in, and as soon as it starts beeping- the eggs are done!
I feel like this perfectly describes me. I am not one to procrastinate, except when working out is an option. Especially now that I have to fit in my workouts between studying for classes, I can easily close up my book and go out for a run, even when I have a ton of reading ahead. At least it's a good stress reliever and I always come back better focused right? I guess it's not that bad of an issue to have!
Cooper Street Cookies
I have those days where I just need a sweet treat, okay, every day, but I usually only give into those cravings a few times a week. I was introduced to these Cooper Street Cookies a few months ago by a family friend and my mom found them at the fruit market and picked me up a box before I headed back to school. I have these cookies stored in my freezer for those days when I want a small treat. I enjoyed them with my coffee last Saturday morning and it was the perfect start to my day. They are dairy free, nut free, low sugar, low sodium, low calories, all natural, and no trans fat. And I did my research and found out they are made in Michigan! I love supporting local companies, especially companies that create cookies like these! 
Food Network
If you come over to my apartment, there is a 90% chance that the Food Network is on. I love having it on even if I am doing something else and just have it on in the background. There are so many good shows on there now and I can always turn it on and have something on that I like. I am really falling in love with The Kitchen, which is similar to The Chew, and after watching it last weekend I learned so much. The episode was all about using up items you have in your pantry and I got so many great cooking and meal ideas. I also love Cutthroat Kitchen, Next Food Network Star, Worst Cooks in America, Chopped, Restaurant Impossible, and just about everything else!
I have no idea how I just found out about this song, but I am obsessed! I heard it advertised on Spotify and immediately added it to my playlist and have been listening to it nonstop. I even put it on at the end of my workouts to cool down just so I can listen to it more. I definitely need to check out more of Vance Joy's music!

Are you a Food Network junkie like me?

Favorite song at the moment?

Enjoy your day and have a wonderful weekend! It's supposed to be in the thirties all weekend so that means outdoor runs for me! Haha, it's sad how excited I get about the slightest increase in temperatures in the winter.

See you Sunday with a Weekly Workout Recap!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

{WIAW} More Avocado Please!

Good morning! I am so happy that today is Wednesday already! Even though I had Monday off, I feel like this week has already been super long. I guess yesterday just took a whole lot out of me. Getting back into the swing of things after a long weekend and finally getting back to the grind after winter break. I finally feel like I am back at school, now that "syllabus week" is over. Today I only have one class then I have the rest of the morning and afternoon to get school work done before heading into work later in the afternoon. I have a busy day ahead, so let's get into today's post!

Today I am sharing yesterday's eats for the What I Ate Wednesday party. I have been focusing on following the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan over the past few weeks and I have been feeling great. Yesterday was a typical day of foods that I have been eating over the past few weeks and that are Tone It Up Approved. Yup, even the dark chocolate in the evening! I love how great I feel when I follow the Nutrition Plan regularly and keeping up with the Love Your Body series workouts too!
I started my day off early with breakfast before heading off to my first class of the day. I made oatmeal with all my favorites mixed in- strawberries. blueberries. almond milk, hemp hearts, and dark chocolate peanut butter. I really wish the oatmeal photographed as well as it tastes. because it was so good! With a side of coffee and half of a banana, I was ready to go for the day.
After my first class I snacked on almonds while waiting for my second class to start.
 When I got back to my apartment after my first two classes I worked on a reading for my next class then whipped up a delicious salad for lunch. Lettuce, spinach, a hard boiled egg, chopped almonds, dried cranberries, dairy-free mozzarella cheese, avocado, and raspberry vinaigrette. It filled me right up and ready to go for my last class for the day.
 I finished with classes for the day and got to work on my to-do list for the afternoon. I took a study break and snacked on carrots and celery with roasted red pepper hummus. That may seem like a whole lot of hummus, but let's be real... I ate it all up! Roasted red pepper hummus is my favorite!
I had a meeting with my church group later in the evening so I cooked up dinner before heading out. I made my favorite dinner which is a Black Bean & Quinoa Power Bowl. Quinoa, lettuce. black beans, dairy- free mozzarella cheese, salsa, avocado, and lemon juice. I always love this dinner and since it makes a few servings, I always have leftovers to eat for dinner for the next few days. Oh. and becuase it includes avocado, and avocado is my latest obsession. Can't stop eating it!

Once I got back from my meeting with my church group I did a quick workout before getting back to work on my readings for the rest of the week. I probably should have gotten a little more work done this past weekend...
On the Tone It Up Weekly Schedule was a PM challenge that challenged us to sip on tea before bed. I did just that, along with a piece of Trader Joe's dark chocolate on the side. I used to be in a good habit of drinking herbal tea before bed, but seemed to have strayed away for it. I am going to work on drinking more herbal tea in the evening now since it helps me de-stress before bed and I love all of the fun flavors. Last nights was Tazo Wild Sweet Orange flavored herbal tea.

Are you avocado obsessed like me?
Favorite hummus flavor?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Inside My Apartment "Gym"

I am a firm believer that you do not have to have a gym membership in order to get fit and workout. I, myself, have never had one and I have been able to get into shape within the four corners of my apartment. Over the years, I have collected various pieces of equipment that I use on a regular basis to workout. I thought it would make a fun post to share what I have in my own apartment "gym" and hopefully give you some ideas if you are looking to create your own little workout space.
Before I begin, I should preface by saying that I almost always buy things on sale or that are a good deal. If something is not on sale, I usually look around elsewhere for a better deal or wait until I have a coupon. That said, the total cost of much of the equipment is less than what you would spend on a gym membership for a year (or even less than that). There are things that I have that you may not necessarily need if you are a beginner or just starting out. Some stuff I have received through the blog to review, but much of the equipment featured I have purchased on my own. This is years of collecting equipment (I've had the same yoga mat since high school) and depending on what workouts you do, you may not need something I use. Over time, you can continue to grow what you use and expand your gym. I hope to have a full room devoted to working out at home one day, but that is way far in the future at this point ;).
Yoga Mat
Not only is a yoga mat perfect for yoga, but it is also great to use for toning workouts like Blogilates and Tone It Up workouts. I find that when I am too lazy to pull out my yoga mat (yes, it happens) I end up slipping on the carpet during many moves.

Foam Roller
I can not say enough how much I love my foam roller. It may be a love-hate relationship we have going on, but it has helped me so much to continue running injury-free. I am prone to shin splints, so every time I feel pain in my shins on a run, I immediately come back and foam roll for a while.

I use this when I am too lazy to actually foam roll. When I am watching TV, I will pull this massager out to massage my legs instead of actually going on the ground to foam roll.

Yoga Block
I haven't used much of my yoga block, but when I need extra support during certain yoga moves, this block is extremely helpful.
5 pound Weights
Most workouts I do require some amount of weights so I switch off between these and my 8 pound weights depending on the move. I first started out with 3 pound weights and have been moving my way up since.

8 pound Weights
For the most part I use the 8 pound weights for my workouts and can always feel the burn with them. I make sure to always have at least one pair of weights with me when I am either at my apartment or visiting home so I can always fit in some sort of strength training.

Water Bottle
It is so important to keep hydrated before, after, and during workouts. I always make sure to keep my water bottle filled and ready to go for my workouts.

10 pound Kettlebell
If you are a regular reader of the blog, you probably know that I just bought my first set of kettlebells last month and am in love with them. I have been using them a lot and love the total body workout they deliver. Being the bargain hunter I am, I found a three set of kettlebells at Aldi for only $20. That was the price I was seeing them for at other stores for just one, not all three! (The 5 pound kettlebell that was in the set I left at home for my mom to start using).

15 pound Kettlebell
I primarily use the 15 pound kettlebell for my workouts and am uncomfortably-comfortable with the weight, meaning it is the right weight for me to use since I can maintain proper form while still challenging my body to use it
Running Shoes
I don't just workout in my apartment, I run almost daily outdoors and thus need a quality pair of running shoes to do the job. Right now I am running in the Mizuno Wave Rider 17 running shoes and they are perfect for my current mileage. Even though I don't use these in my "gym" they are still an important piece of equipment in my workouts. I also use my FlipBelt when running, which helps keep everything in place and allows me to carry stuff when I don't have pockets on me.

Cross-Training Shoes
For many workouts I do, like HIIT, I wear cross-training shoes, even though I am inside. I use these Asics GEL-Fit Sanas to guide my workouts and occasionally use my Nike Training shoes I have as well. These shoes help with stability and balance and are suitable for all of the workouts I do besides running.

ActivMotion Bar
Full review to come!
I received this ActivMotion bar a few weeks ago and have been incorporating this method of disruptive training into my workouts regularly lately. I will share more about the bar in an upcoming post, but it is a bar filled with rolling steel weights that challenge my whole body to engage in the workout and focus on both balance and strengthening my core.
DVDs (Beach Babe 2, My Yoga Works, ActivMotion Bar)
I do follow a lot of YouTube videos for my workouts, but I also have a growing collection of DVDs that I use. These are all longer than many of the routines I do on YouTube and provide more of a full workout. I always like having these on hand for days like lately, when the sidewalks are too icy to run on, or days I would rather pop in a DVD than come up with a full workout.

Heart Rate Monitor/ Watch
I  just purchased this heart rate watch from Polar (I have the FT4) a few weeks ago after having it on my radar for months. I was interested to see how many calories I was burning doing various workouts and to gauge where my heart rate is during workouts and whether it is within the zone it should be in or not. I have found myself in love with the features of this watch and I enjoy looking down at it during workouts and seeing if I am pushing myself as hard as I should be, or if I need to cut back a bit and bring my heart rate down. Not only are the features of this watch awesome, but it is so simple to use! It took me less than 5 minutes to set up and every time I go to workout I simply put the monitor across my chest, put the watch on and press one button and I am ready to go!

Weekly Calendar White Board
I used to write all of my workouts for the week down on sticky notes to record on here, but I was getting sick of having tons of sticky notes floating around my desk. I bought a weekly calendar white board from Target (less than $10) and it allows me to plan out my workouts for the whole week and I can change what workouts I did/ did not do easily by erasing and editing. I have found that it keeps me on track and I can see what to expect for the week ahead.

Tone It Up Printables
I have printed out a few Tone It Up workouts that they do not have a YouTube video attached with so I can still complete the workout without having to look it up online. I keep them all in a small bag (I think it's actually a makeup bag) to have on hand for when I plan on doing the workouts.

I also added workouts associated with the equipment for you to try out! Some are my own, while others are my favorites from others that I do regularly. Let me know your favorites too!

Do you have a corner of your room devoted to workouts?
What equipment do you use for at-home workouts?

Last day to enter my Mamma Chia Clean Energy Giveaway!

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Whole Wheat Banana Muffins

I always seem to over-buy bananas. They are so inexpensive and so versatile so I know that if they start to get overripe before I can eat them all, I can easily throw a few in the freezer to have on hand for smoothies or banana nice-cream or, as my mom always taught me, to bake with! Whenever there were a few bananas starting to go bad, she immediately baked banana bread or banana muffins. I decided to do the same and experiment with baking on my own in my apartment. I used what I had on hand (olive oil since I didn't have any vegetable oil) and it turned out great! These muffins turned out to be a great addition to breakfast or a mid-morning snack with a little bit of nut butter on top.

This recipe is simple to follow and you can easily add in some nuts if you want to go for the banana nut route. I would have definitely done that too had I had any nuts on hand. Apparently I was in need of grocery shopping when I went to bake these! The great thing about muffins is there are so many ways to make them. I was able to make these whole wheat and dairy free!

Let me know if you give the recipe a try!
Whole Wheat Banana Muffins
Makes 12 servings (1 muffin per serving) // Dairy-free // Freezer- friendly

1 1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/3 cup Stevia
3 Overripe Bananas
1/4 cup Olive Oil (Vegetable oil would work well too)
1/4 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp. Salt
Cinnamon, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Add wet ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir
3. Add dry ingredients into the bowl and stir until everything is evenly mixed
4. Coat muffin tins of a 12 muffin baking pan with non-stick spray or place cupcake liners into tins and spray with non-stick spray
5. Evenly distribute batter into tins
6. Sprinkle cinnamon on top of each muffin
7. Bake in pre-heated oven for 16-18 minutes
8. When complete, take out of oven and let cool
Enjoy! Add a dollop of almond butter and microwave for a delicious snack along with a cup of coffee. I'm craving another batch of these as I type!

These muffins hold up great in the freezer too! I froze a few in a ziploc bag since I wasn't going to be able to eat all of them before they went bad. When I was ready for the frozen ones, I pulled them out of the freezer, placed them in the fridge and microwaved them when ready. The flavor holds up well!
Linking up today's post with Tina and Deborah's Meatless Monday, Jo-Lynne and Alison's Real Food Recipe Roundup, Lean Lena's Tasty TuesdayTasty Tuesday, & Vicky's Tasty Tuesdays!