Category Archives: health and fitness

Paleo Granola Bars

 

Homemade Paleo Granola Bars

Homemade Paleo Granola Bars

I love clean eating, but I also love granola bars. It’s so hard to buy them at the store, because most of them are loaded with all kinds of sugar and other random things…which kind of defeats the purpose, don’t you think? If you’re in a pinch, as I usually am when I travel, KIND makes great granola and granola bars with all ingredients you can pronounce and they come in just about every flavor you could imagine. But if you’re able to, making homemade granola bars is so much better. You know what is in them and you can add whatever you want! All these ingredients aren’t cheap, but I’ve found that I usually have enough to make at least 2 batches, so really, I can get about 30-35 granola bars out of them…in which case, it becomes really cheap. this recipe is pretty basic, so feel free to play around with it and add whatever sounds good.

Paleo Granola Bars

 

  • 3 cups assorted nuts (I used pecans, almonds, and pumpkin seeds)20140708-092626.jpg
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 cups shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • ½ cup raw honey
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  1. Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment or wax paper
  2. Mix assorted nuts in a large bowl
  3. Take 1 cup of the nut/seed mixture and place on a cutting board. Chop the nuts/seeds into smaller pieces with a sharp knife.

    coarsely chop 1 cup of mixed nuts

    coarsely chop 1 cup of mixed nuts

  4. Place the remaining 2 cups of the nut/seed mixture into a food processor and pulse until they are chopped into much smaller pieces than the first cup.

    finely chop the remaining 2 cups of mixed nuts in a food processor

    finely chop the remaining 2 cups of mixed nuts in a food processor

  5. This assortment of sizes and textures will work well for the bars.
  6. Add all the nuts back into the bowl and stir to combine.
  7.  Add the dried cranberries and stir until well mixed.
  8. Add the shredded coconut and mix well.
  9. In a small saucepan, add the coconut oil, almond butter, honey, vanilla, sea salt, and cinnamon and heat over medium-low heat until the mixture starts to bubble. Remove from heat. Make sure to stir constantly to prevent burning/sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.

    heat until melted, stirring constantly

    heat until melted, stirring constantly

  10. Pour the liquid mixture over the nut mixture and stir to combine, making sure the nut mixture is evenly coated.
  11. Pour the entire mix into the baking dish and use a second sheet of parchment or wax paper on top to firmly press and pack the ingredients together.
  12. Let the mixture set and settle on the counter at room temperature for 2 hours
  13. Cover and place in the freezer to set for 1 more hour
  14. Cut into whatever size bars you like and enjoy! I cut mine into a typical “granola bar” shape and size. This recipe makes 16 typical granola bars.
  15. I wrapped mine individually and put them all in a Ziploc bag and stored them in the refrigerator for freshness. 
  16. ENJOY!

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HIIT IT.

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Y’all…I have been getting frustrated with my workouts lately. I work out regularly, but I feel like nothing ever comes of it, so I’ve been wanting to take my workouts to the next level. I don’t want to pay for an expensive membership to a gym or a boot camp, and with traveling all the time I don’t always know what I’m going to have at my disposal. It’s true that just being active is really great for you, but to see changes in your body, you are going to have to do something at least semi-challenging. If it was easy, everyone would look like Giselle, right?

HIIT, or high intensity interval training, is nothing new, but it has been gaining popularity recently. Especially as we tend to seem to have less time for exercising. If you don’t know what HIIT is, it is mixing intervals of high intensity activity (if 1 is sitting on your couch while you read this and 10 is the hardest you’ve ever worked in your life, think like 8 or 9) with low intensity recovery periods (say a 3 or 4). Look up HIIT on the internet and you’ll find a wide variety of options. You can pretty much do it with any cardiovascular activity, and the beauty of it is that it can be specifically tailored to your fitness level. I personally get really bored doing the same workouts all the time, so HIIT is appealing to me just because I can mix it up so that I’m never doing the same thing twice.

So, what is so great about HIIT?

  • Highly effective calorie burner: According to research, it is very effective at changing your body because it burns more calories than a typical 30 minute workout. Why? Well, when you are pounding away at the pavement, or pedaling along on that bike, or working away on that elliptical machine at a steady pace, eventually your body adjusts to that activity, so your heart and lungs don’t have to work as hard to keep going. The beauty of our bodies is that they are really good at being as efficient as possible. Not that running 10 miles isn’t a big calorie burner, because it is, but basically, your body adjusts to it (which you want it to…trust me…if you haven’t run 10 miles, you definitely don’t want to spend the whole time out of breath and feeling like you might pass out), and it becomes the new norm. (This probably also explains why I gain weight every time I train for a half marathon.) When you do HIIT, you are constantly changing the level of exertion your body is challenged with, and it never knows what to expect, so it has to constantly work to ramp up its efforts to sustain you while you are sprinting up that hill and then to cool down once you get to the top and start walking…and just about the time it has gotten back to normal, guess what…yep, you take of sprinting again.
  • Continues to burn even more calories: Some research has even shown that your body continues to burn calories at a higher rate for up to 24 hours after performing a HIIT workout, and that women who performed HIIT regularly (3 x a week) for 12 weeks showed an increase in body fat and total weight lost than women who did a typical cardiovascular workout (like a 5-7 out of 10) for 12 weeks.
  • Maximal results for minimal time: Evidence shows that even a HIIT workout as short as 15 minutes is enough to ramp up the calorie burning effect. I typically aim for 30-45 minutes, but it is nice to know that on a day when I’m really crunched for time, if I can squeeze in 15 minutes, I can at least do a little good.

Get Started: I can’t say that I always get 3 HIIT workouts in a week, although that’s always the goal, but I do shoot for at least 2. I typically do my HIIT exercise as some form of running, but you can do whatever floats your boat. Just find a way to change the intensity!

  • Treadmill: If I’m stuck on a treadmill (which I hate), I’ll alternate a minute of brisk walking with a minute of running at a fairly high speed (pick a speed that at the end of a minute, you are having to work to keep from falling off the treadmill, but not so fast that you actually will fall off).
  • Outside: If I’m outside (which I love), the possibilities are endless. If I’m in a hilly area, I’ll sprint as hard as I can to the top of a hill and walk until I get to the next one. If I’m in a fairly flat area, I’ll alternate sprinting and walking every block, or tree to tree, mailbox to mailbox…you get the idea. Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m going to do until I get out and start going!
  • Warm Up: I always warm up before starting HIIT. Usually I’ll jog a mile or two and then do my HIIT workout.
  • Cool Down: Don’t forget to cool down after that last high intensity interval! At the end of a HIIT exercise, you should be struggling to go further or faster. My last sprint looks nothing like my first…In fact, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t look like much of a sprint at all. The crazy thing is, I’ve been more fatigued after jogging a mile and then doing HIIT for 2 miles than I have after running 10!
  • Enjoy the Results: And after 2 weeks, I have a few skirts that are noticeably not as tight in the hip area as they were 2 weeks ago. I can’t tell you about actual weight because I haven’t been home in a couple weeks to weigh myself, although, I don’t rely solely on the scale because I know people who have drastically changed their body shape without changing much on the scale. The more important thing is I can tell a difference in my endurance level and strength when I do other exercises or long runs…which is really what matters most.

Start at whatever level works for you. If jogging is hard, alternate jogging and walking, add in hills or up your speed to make it harder. If you’re on a machine at the gym, increase the resistance. Just know that at the end of your high intensity interval, you should be really struggling to breathe and or keep going at that current pace. If you are still reading your magazine while you are doing it, it probably isn’t hard enough. Always make sure you warm up and cool down before and after any workout and always listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, never keep going. If you are new to exercise, you should always consult your physician or a licensed professional first.

I found this great article that highlights the benefits of HIIT…and has a sample 8 week program I just might try out!
http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ultimate-8-week-hiit-for-fat-burning-program.html

What are some of your favorite challenging exercise routines? I’m always looking for new stuff…I’m sure I’ll get bored soon enough!

Namaste…or whatever.

XO ~Cassie

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Live Like No One Else

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“If it was easy, everyone would do it.”  Ever heard that expression before? I love that expression because it’s true in so many facets of life…whether it be your job, your workouts, your healthy lifestyle…it applies.  The truth of the matter is that nothing of great value just happens by accident…it’s the result of planning, dedication, and the refusal to let failure derail your progress.  A habit is defined as “a settled or regular tendency, especially one that is hard to give up.”  Wouldn’t it be amazing if, with some good old fashioned hard work, a boatload of determination, and some great support(that’s us!), you could make your habits things that made you healthy, happy, and productive? Here are a few things to remember as you start(or continue) your journey in that direction…

Do this for YOU.  At the end of the day, you have to know why you’re making these decisions…these sacrifices…these changes.  So that others will perceive you a certain way? So that you’ll be better than someone else? No way.  Because ultimately that motivation will fade.  Set your intentions and goals with reasons in mind that have personal meaning to you.  Feeling good in your own skin, being healthy for your family, setting a good example for others…now THOSE reasons keep you on track.

Shake the Haters off.  There will always be critics.  Always.  People who haven’t made choices that lead to them being their best selves.  People who have tried and failed and given up.  People who always need something to bitch about and some reason to complain.  They’ll do their best to sabotage your efforts simply to make themselves feel better.  IGNORE THEM.  And if you can’t, cut them out.  Minimize their influence in your life.  Sometimes making lifestyle changes means eliminating the negative influences in your life, as well.

Own your weaknesses.   We all know where we fall short.  You can sabotage your own efforts  by swearing to yourself that you’ll beat it this time…or you can ELIMINATE the temptation.  Trying to go gluten-free? Dairy-free? Eliminate processed foods?  PURGE your pantry.  Donate those boxes of crackers to a food bank.  Make your shopping list.  Challenge yourself to eat only foods with one ingredient.  Know where YOUR pitfalls lie and map your away around and away from them!

Tell the world.  Ok, maybe not the world.  But your friends that you trust, your family, your support system…tell them about the changes you’re making! Let them know what you expect of yourself.  Write down your goals and keep them somewhere that you can see them everyday.  And SHARE your success!!  Nothing fuels the fire more than encouragement and accountability!

The title of today’s post is from one of my favorite quotes from Dave Ramsey and refers to how we have to live somewhat counterculturally sometimes in order to succeed…he says, “Live like no one else, so that one day, you can live like no one else!”  What he means is, sometimes we’ve got to buck the norm and make decisions that aren’t necessarily easy or widely accepted in order to set up a great future for ourselves!  Make the decision to take charge of your life, your health, your well-being.  You won’t regret it.  And in fact, you’ll probably meet some pretty cool people on the road there.

Namaste.  Or whatever. 😉

Audrey

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What Would Beyonce Do?

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Happy Monday, y’all! I hope that you have all thoroughly enjoyed your weekend. I’m home from Texas after my epic Petey Birthday Weekend with my other half…more to come on that later this week…and wanted to share some Monday Motivation with y’all. Last week I blogged about healthy eating, but there’s something else that is just as important…physical activity

Benefits of Activity:Sure, being healthy involves eating healthy foods, but the other side of that is treating your body well, and keeping it working well. Think about it this way: if you don’t treat your car well, it doesn’t matter how great or expensive the gas is that you put into it; it’s not going to hold up well. Our bodies are the same way. Regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do to take care of your body. I know so many of us think of exercise negatively. It’s a chore, just one more thing to add to our list of things we have to do today. But let’s take a minute and remember why exercise is a positive thing, and something that we should want to do. Like I said last week, when I understand something, and how it affects my body, it helps me to be better about taking care of myself. When you exercise, several things happen. Some of the immediate benefits of exercise are the release of endorphins (yeah, remember those things from last week’s blog that have the same euphoric properties as opiates…it’s those, except these are beneficial to you and don’t involve chemicals that are detrimental to your mind and body), a decrease in blood sugar, and a decrease in appetite. If you exercise regularly, some of the benefits you’ll see are an improvement in your cardiovascular, respiratory, and musculoskeletal systems (this means your heart and your lungs will work better, your muscles and bones will be stronger, and your body will work more efficiently). I could geek out over all the physiological things that exercise will do for you, and maybe in a future post, Audrey or I will go into detail explaining all of the ways exercise is amazing, but for now, we just want to talk about some of our favorite ways to get moving.

It can be cheap:Exercising doesn’t have to cost a ton of money. It doesn’t have to cost any money, actually. Do you have some stretchy pants/shorts, a t-shirt, and some decent tennis shoes? You can head out the door and go for a walk or a jog. You can do simple exercises like lunges, push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and planks in your living room. When I travel, I frequently find myself without any viable gym options. My solution? I head over to You Tube or Pinterest and find myself some quick “do at home” exercise options and get going. If I’m in a safe area, I’ll head out for a walk or a jog, and if all else fails, I have run the stairs in the hotel before. Audrey has a little boy she has to accommodate with her workouts…they go to the park and run and play, climb up hills, and hike on uneven terrain. Sometimes they go to the “kids jump” hour at the local trampoline park, and she spends an hour jumping on a trampoline for the cost of one kids’ admission (if you haven’t done trampoline jumping since you were a teenager, trust me, it will be harder than you remember it being). I know for a fact she also squeezes in at-home workouts while he is napping as well. Add a couple free weights or resistance bands, which can be found for reasonable prices, and you can do even more with your routine at home.

Take a class:The point is, you don’t need an expensive gym membership to work out. I actually got rid of mine last year because I prefer doing things on my own and being outside. There are lots of exercise classes that have grown in popularity, and if you enjoy those and can afford them, then by all means, go for it. I know Audrey and I both have our favorites, but we won’t go through all of them here. My advice is (and I know Audrey’s is too) make sure that the class has a reputable, certified instructor, don’t do anything that doesn’t feel right, and don’t keep going if something hurts. Ask questions of the instructor, you are paying good money for their instruction, so if you have questions, or something doesn’t make sense, ask for help. And please, for the love of God, stay for the cool down and stretching portion. It is a part of the class for a reason, and it is not only rude and disrespectful to the instructor to leave, but it could be dangerous or detrimental not to stretch and cool down. If you absolutely have to leave before the cool down is over, let the instructor know ahead of time and ask what you should do to make sure you cool down properly. (End soapbox rant.)

Get Motivated:How much should you exercise? I’d say if you are new to exercise, shoot for 30 minutes 3 times a week, and then aim to work up to at least 5 days a week. I like to try to do something active at a minimum 5 days a week for about an hour. Some weeks are better than others, but I try to make that my “baseline”. Some weeks I am insanely busy, but I like to remind myself that I have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce…and so do you. I like to exercise, but I find things to do that I enjoy. Did I always enjoy exercise? Nope. Stick with it for 3 weeks…21 days…that’s how long it takes to create a new habit. Make exercise a habit like brushing your teeth or washing your hands, and it won’t seem like such a chore. I try never to go more than 3 days in a row without some type of physical activity. It takes 21 days to form a habit but only 4 to destroy one. Don’t let yourself get to that 4th day. If you need motivation, there are things like FitBit, Fuel Band, etc…I am someone who likes concrete numbers and objective data, so my FitBit motivates me to get moving. If you’re a goal oriented person (also me), set a goal, sign up for a 5K, or a group hike…anything that you will have to train to accomplish. If you are a social butterfly, find a walking or running group, head out to the park with friends, sign up for a local sports league. The bottom line is just get moving. It doesn’t have to be hard and it doesn’t have to be painful, but I guarantee you it will make you feel like a better person. And the flipside of my car analogy from the beginning: if you take care of your car, you aren’t going to want to put crap cheap gas into it. In the same way, exercise will motivate you to keep fueling your body with healthy, whole foods. Give it a try. Tell us what some of your favorite inexpensive or fun exercises are. How do you stay motivated? And, most importantly, what makes you feel awesome?

Now I’m going to go exercise to relieve my depression from having to leave Texas. Namaste…or whatever.
XO Cassie

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Secret

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Y’all want to know my secret? My secret is that there is no secret. If you want to stop feeling like garbage, you have stop putting garbage in your body. It won’t be easy. Giving up processed food and wheat products isn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done. But it’s not the hardest either. I will be up front and tell you that the first 2 weeks are the worst. I had headaches, I wanted to eat an entire loaf of bread in one sitting, and I wanted to punch anyone who even mentioned something about a cookie. I swear there was one day that all I wanted was cereal and doughnuts. Withdrawal was especially fun the week I was traveling and everywhere we went out to eat, all of my coworkers were like, “This bread is amazing…did you try it? Oh…sorry”. What I said was, “No, that’s totally fine. I’m glad you liked it.” What I was thinking was, “I hate you.” So, yeah, those first couple weeks are going to be miserable, and you are going to have to make a conscious decision every minute of the day not to eat garbage. Trust me…if I can do it during 7 days at my parents’ house after my grandmother died (at one point I counted almost 20 desserts in their dining room), you can too. I’ve always found that the key to overcoming any obstacle is understanding it, and the more I learn about gluten, the more I understand what it does to me and the more I don’t want it in my body.
First, what is gluten? Well, in Latin, it means “glue” (first warning sign). Gluten is found in wheat products and processed foods and it gives them their shape and structure. I feel it’s also worth noting that gluten can be found in cosmetics, hair products, and some dermatologic preparations (getting more concerned). But here’s the real kicker. When gluten is digested, it produces exorphins (like endorphins but from a source outside the body). If you’ve ever gotten a runner’s high, then you are familiar with the effects of endorphins. Well, exorphins do the same thing. You know what else does the same thing? Opiates. Yep, eating products containing gluten produces the same effect as taking heroin or morphine (major alarms going off now), which really explains a lot, especially for those of us who are emotional eaters. This is why when you’re sad or upset or have had a terrible day, you don’t crave carrot sticks and hummus, you crave cookies and cake and comfort food. Some studies have actually shown that gluten can be just as addicting as heroin (yikes). You know how they say a drug addict is constantly trying to reproduce that first high? I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve eaten a piece of cake or something and gotten done and thought, “that wasn’t even that good after the first couple bites”. I’ve always known that I had a small addiction to these types of food, but this really puts it into perspective.
I’m not saying that everyone needs to cut gluten and processed foods out of their diet. I know plenty of people (who are apparently not predisposed to unhealthy addictions) who can eat processed foods every once in a while with no problems. I am not one of those people. So, I made the decision to cut out gluten and most processed foods. Here’s what I noticed: I have like 100 times more energy, and I feel alert, not like a zombie going through the motions, which may be related to the fact that I am sleeping amazingly. I can focus on what I’m doing. I would never have called myself ADD, but I am kind of known by my coworkers as always doing 5 things at once…having one conversation and still listening to another while on a conference call and working on a document. Sometimes I love the rush of doing all of that at once, but that can really take a toll on the brain. But now, if I’m working on something, I can focus directly on what I’m doing without my mind wandering to a million different places…although I’ll admit I’m watching March Madness and checking twitter at the same time I’m writing this…something about a tiger and its stripes, I guess. My favorite things I’ve noticed, though, are how flat my stomach is (I literally look like I have a food baby when I eat processed crap) and the fact that my joints don’t ache nearly as much. I was trying to think of how to describe it, and the best I can do is just to say, I feel great and happy and motivated. Is that because gluten was making me depressed? Or is it because those changes I’ve noticed are rewarding? Maybe a little of both, but it doesn’t really matter as long as I feel great.
How do I stick to it? I give myself ONE day to eat whatever I want…typically Sunday (Sunday Funday is my favorite day of the week). The funny thing is, that I might eat something flour and gluten filled and processed at one meal that day, but I usually don’t finish it, and once I’ve eaten it, I don’t really crave anymore that day. As a matter of fact, I tend to start craving “real” food like fruits and veggies after indulging. Probably knowing that Sunday comes every week keeps me from feeling the need to eat like it’s my last meal on earth. So, what’s my message, my secret? Knowledge is power. Put whatever you want in your body, but know what it is and how it affects you and your body. Learn your body and how it reacts to different things and make decisions that make you feel your best. Know that just because something says “gluten free” does not mean it is “healthy”. Read ingredients. Know what is in the food that you are eating and know that just because gluten isn’t on that list, does not mean that it’s not a processed food. When in doubt, eat real food. Use the 80/20 rule and make at least 80% of your intake real food. No one’s perfect, but make an effort to be pretty damn close. I am in no way a dietary or gluten expert, and I am only speaking from my own personal experiences. Being physical therapists, Audrey and I have a natural predisposition for wanting to help others be their best selves, so let us know your thoughts or questions. We hope to do a post on some of our favorite foods and products that help us eat clean soon. We also love helpful tips…we are always still learning just like you, and we don’t ever want to stop learning.
Namaste…or whatever.
XO, Cassie

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