12 Genius Bike Accessories & Bonus Barbell Workout

For #FreedomFebruary, as you ponder how you’ll incorporate exercising daily, I want you to think outside of the box, get out of your comfort zone and for God’s sake…free yourself from the monotonous and mindless workout routines that just aren’t healthy mentally or physically.

You are worthy and capable of an enjoyable “workout”. Think back to your childhood. When you were a wee little one, you didn’t need to “workout” because you were already running around, playing outside, climbing trees, biking down the street to a friend’s house, playing tag or basketball…all activities you enjoyed doing. Why trade in fun activity for mindless exercise? For your next “workout”, why not play outside? Maybe you won’t be climbing trees exactly, but why not climb a mountain trail? Maybe you won’t be biking down the street to a friend’s house, but why not bike to a park to people watch or read a good book?

Speaking of biking, if you don’t have a bike, get one! Bicycling is very meditative and liberating. It’s low-impact and a highly effective form of exercise as it activates many of your body’s large muscle groups (hams, quads, glutes, core) while providing a wicked cardio burn too.

The average cyclist riding at a moderate pace will burn approximately 400-600 calories per hour

http://www.ilovebicycling.com

AND…if you absolutely can’t bicycle outdoors due to inclement weather, there is always the local spin class to attend (in which you can burn an average of 500-800 calories per hour class!).

The 12 Genius Must-Have Biking Accessories:

  1. This Mini Pocket Portable Bike Pump
  2. Night Gear: Running Shoe Lights w/LED Safety Lights
  3. Handlebar Bike Mount Phone Holder
  4. This Kryptonite Bike Lock
  5. Cycling Bike Lane Tail Light Projector
  6. Rydesafe Reflective Decal Stickers
  7. Multi Tool, Bike Repair Kit & Tire Levers
  8. This Bicycle Beverage Holder
  9. Mountable Water-Resistant Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
  10. This Gel Top Bike Seat Cushion Cover
  11. Bicycle Carryall Seat Strap-on Saddlebag
  12. And don’t forget your helmet, bike gloves, water bottle & sunglasses!

#DailyMotivation & Driveway Barbell Workout

I’m going to sign off this post with two favorite daily customs of mine. They just so happen to be the same habitual undertakings of some of the world’s most highly effective people.

#DailyMotivation & #DailyExercise

Everyday, I listen to at least one motivational speech that I find on Youtube or a podcast. And everyday I do some form of planned activity or exercise.

These wise words were inspired by some of the best motivational spiels out there:

You can either live your dreams…or live your fears…your time here is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life, don’t be trapped by dogma which is living with the results of other people’s thinking, don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out the noise of your inner voice, and most important…have the courage to follow your heart & intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become, everything else is secondary…

You gotta stay focused on where you’re going. Some people would rather get even than get ahead. Stay focused on where you’re going when times get tough…remember this one question, “What are you going to do with your time here on earth, what drives you?” 

Greatness is a lot of little things done well, day after day… you will never be successful until you turn your pain into greatness, until you allow your pain to push you from where you are to where you want to be. Stop running from your pain, your pain is going to be a part of your prize, a part of your product, a part of your drive and your dreams.

You see…you have this opportunity of a lifetime, yet it means absolutely nothing if you don’t take advantage of it in this lifetime of opportunity. You’ve got to start saying YES to your life, YES to your dreams, YES to your unfolding future, YES to your potential, as opposed to saying no. Leave no dream and no opportunity left behind.

Align yourself with people that encourage you, people you can grow from, people that empower you… You see, we as humans have something that no other animal has, we have imagination, and what imagination means is that we can see it before it actually happens. Look into the future and imagine yourself as you want to be. You need to go into your future and see what you are going to be. You’ve got to take yourself beyond the pain, beyond the fear, your imagination needs to take you to where you want to be… and that will keep you from giving up. You need to keep seeing what you are going to be, don’t keep seeing what you are now, envision what you are going to be one day and embrace it with faith. Fail forward and get to a place in your life where there is no obstacle you can’t overcome.

Until you attempt to do something beyond that which you’ve already mastered, you will never grow…

— Les Brown

Driveway Barbell Workout

T-Grip Lite Bar

Invigorated by a radiant sun & warm weather and driven by a fierce desire to feel that PUMP that accompanies a barbell workout, the “Driveway Barbell Workout” was born. I wanted to workout outdoors…but I also had a strong craving for strength training. Luckily, I had my nifty portable T-Grip Lite Barbell Set on hand. So, I headed down to my driveway and knocked out the following workout:

March 21 Day Fitness Challenge

Starting March 16th, I’m participating in a fitness challenge group and I wanted to share this opportunity to join our fitness challenge group with my readers!

The fitness challenge will be 21 days. One ~30 minute workout per day. We’re also going to follow a results-driven nutrition plan, because diet is 80% of the equation to achieving your weight loss goals!

You can do any 30 minute workout, or you can follow the 21 Day Fix Extreme workout program that I will be doing with my fitness challenge group (there is also a less “extreme” workout program that you can do with us, called 21 Day Fix). Since I live a Paleo & Bulletproof diet & lifestyle, I have tweaked the 21 Day Fix Nutrition plan for my specific diet preferences. I have put together a 7 Day Meal Planner for Week #1 just to give you an idea of what the Paleo or Bulletproof version would be like. Download the free PDF example >HERE<. And the free excel version (so that you can input your own calories and change the meals and macronutrient percentages) >HERE<.

If you aren’t eating a Paleo or Bulletproof diet, then you can just follow the 21 Day Fix nutrition plan as it is!

Here’s the game plan:

21 Workouts: Do either the 21 Day Fix Extreme or 21 Day Fix workout program {or choose any ~30 minute workout that really pushes your limits and gets you sweatin’}! You can find a plethora of at-home and/or gym workouts on my site.

Nutrition: EAT CLEAN. Abs are made in the kitchen, so this is a vital part of the 21 day challenge. No alcohol, it slows down your metabolism, adds calories to your daily caloric intake, and spikes your blood sugar levels which isn’t going to help you achieve your weight loss goals! Follow my meal planner or follow the 21 Day Fix nutrition plan that comes with the workout program. I would suggest the 21 Day Fix nutrition plan, especially if you’re just starting out with a wholefoods, clean eating approach to nutrition. It will get you on the right path!

That’s it, keepin’ it simple because I know you’re busy! This fitness challenge is the perfect jump start to what I like to call “Spring Training”. What’s “Spring Training”? Winter is coming to an end, it’s been REALLY cold and dismal and has put a lot of people into “hermit crab – couch potato” mode…so when the sun and warmth come back into the picture this Spring, we’re going to kick into high gear with getting fit this year…THIS is “Spring Training”. Not only will Spring Training get you in bikini body shape, but it will also boost your serotonin and endorphin levels to improve that mood and get you out of the winter blues. Let’s just say, Spring Traning is SUPER ENERGIZING!

So this 21 Day Fitness Challenge is the perfect prelude to what’s to come, Spring Training! It will kick your butt into gear and smack a smile back on that winter blues face of yours! Not to mention tighten and tone up that bod for bikini season woot woot!

Okay, enough chitta chatta, comment below if you want to join the 21 Day Fitness Challenge group!

If you need some Workout Gear, don’t forget to pop on over to Brave Angel Shop for some Athleisure: Women’s Motivational Workout Apparel for Everyday Use!


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Any recommendations made by Natalie Krul, Brave Angel, guest bloggers, or on our website http://www.BraveAngel.com about weight training, nutrition, supplements or lifestyle should be discussed between you and your doctor because working out involves risks. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Never disregard professional medical advice, or delay in seeking it, because of something you have read on this website or from our products or services.  Never rely on information on our website, from our products or services, in place of seeking professional medical advice.

Final Part of the “Real Life” Expert Roundup Series!

This is our final part of the “Experts Reveal: Three Great Breakfasts, Lunches, and Dinners for Weight Loss” series!


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Last week we spotlighted Certified Personal Trainer & Weight Loss Coach, Bianca Meehan. This week Marisa Watson, Certified Personal Trainer, Crossfit coach and certified yoga instructor is sharing her tips and recipes with us. It has been a pleasure working with these fitness fanatics, and we hope that you have learned some good tips and recipes too!

We asked Marisa, “What are your ‘Go-To’ Meals for Breakfast, for Lunch and for Dinner?”

So here are another nine more tasty yet healthful meal ideas. We’re giving you three recipes for each meal of the day; 3 for Breakfast, 3 for Lunch and 3 for Dinner. These meal ideas are Marisa’s “Go-To” meals that help her reach & maintain her health & fitness goals (and also can help you reach & maintain your weight loss goals!).

It’s hard to figure out what to eat…searching the internet = information overload!

So to help you out, we’re giving you some “Real Life” examples of the types of meals that work for our fitness experts. Everyone’s DNA is different, so remember that what works for someone else may not work for you. So you may have to tweak it to your liking and for your DNA…but, when it’s all said and done, if you’re looking to drop the LB’s, incorporating some of these meal ideas will really help you get there! Read on for the Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Fat Burning Meals that our health & fitness fanatics include in their daily diet!

CPT, Crossfit Coach, Yoga Instructor, Marisa Watson:

 Marisa Watson, Before (right) & After (left)
Marisa Watson, Before (right) & After (left)

Marisa is a Certified Personal Trainer at Gold’s Gym, CrossFit coach at Crossfit Pandora’s Box and a certified yoga instructor.  Having lived in Colorado Springs her whole life she has participated in an eclectic assortment of activities ranging from horseback riding (barrel racing and polocrosse) to crosscountry and running trail marathons, to yoga, hiking 14ers, shooting, crossfit, olympic weight lifting, and most recently bodybuilding and NPC bikini competitions under Adam Bonilla of Team Elite Physique. Between August and October of 2014 she has participated in 3 NPC shows, never placing lower than 2nd.  These included two novice overalls and two second place finishes in open tall class.

Fitness has become an integral part of her life.  At one point nearly 6 years ago, she had begun having issues with an eating disorder which nearly killed her leading to two separate inpatient hospitalizations at two different treatment centers.  Since then, the focus has been more-so on fitness and performance and finding ways to balance overall health with a certain look and physique required in bikini.  Meal prep and planning has been essential on the road to recovery.

Follow her road to nationals on Twitter and Instagram: @RiskyRawr

Marisa’s Philosophy:

 Marisa Competing
Marisa Competing

“I keep my meals fairly simple and adhere strictly to my meal plan whenever possible.  I find for me I am able to stay on track with my recovery if I track my food and prep ahead of time.  In the off season and while I am trying to build muscle I do allow myself some wiggle room so long as snacks or going out to eat still fits in my meal plan- otherwise I have known myself to restrict eating that day to compensate for other calories.  It is a fine line between becoming obsessive about my meal plan and being able to still reach my goals and stay in recovery.  For that reason, my meals are very plain and simple.

I also have a lot of dietary restrictions because of issues I’ve had with the eating disorder affecting my GI system.  I’ve been paleo for a number of years and other than adding in some beans and dairy occasionally I stay within the parameters of that diet.  This means eating a variety of lean meats, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oils (avocado, coconut or olive), some starches (sweet potatoes mostly), and a little fruit.  No grains, no legumes,  no processed foods, and if I consume any dairy it is full fat versions.”

Marisa’s Top Three Go-To Breakfast Recipes:

Breakfast Recipe #1: Competition Prep Basic Breakfast

“My go to breakfast is very specific to my meal plan but sometimes when i’m in the off season i replace on egg with a piece of bacon.”

  • 2 egg whites and 2 whole eggs cooked with spinach
  • Gluten free hot cereal (Bob’s Red Mill has a lot of great options here!)
    • 1/4c Almond milk
    • 1 TBSP Honey
    • 1/2oz chopped almonds or 1 TBSP peanut butter
    • 1 T BSP apple butter (just for a little extra sweetness)

Breakfast Recipe #2: Sweet Potato and Bacon Hash

“When I was eating strictly paleo this was my favorite! IF you are watching your fats opt for turkey bacon instead.”

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 Slices bacon or turkey bacon
  • 1TBSP chopped onion
  • 1/4c chopped bell peppers
  • 4oz sweet potato cut into thin slices
  • 2 eggs and 2 egg whites

Instructions:

  1. Cook the bacon in a skillet and put off to the side to drain keeping the remaining fat in the pan
  2. Add onions, bell peppers, and sweet potatoes and cook until veggies are soft and sweet potatoes start to crisp a bit.
  3. Chop bacon and add back to the mixtures. Add in eggs (either scrambled or I  like them whole for a runny yolk) and cover till eggs are cooked to your liking.

Breakfast Recipe #3: Paleo Pumpkin Microwave Breakfast Cake

“This is a recipe I modified from PaleOMG.com to fit my macros and give me a complete breakfast.”

Ingredients:

 Paleo Pumpkin Microwave Breakfast Cake
Paleo Pumpkin Microwave Breakfast Cake

  • 1/2c Canned Pumpkin (NOT the pumpkin pie mix but plain pumpkin)
  • 1/8c Almond milk
  • 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites
  • 1 banana (chopped into dime-sized pieces)
  • 1-2 TBSP Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour (or almond or coconut flour)
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1tsp pumpkin pie seasoning
  • 1TBSP honey
  • 1/2oz chopped walnuts

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and mix well.
  2. Put in microwave for 2.5-3 minutes, sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy!

Marisa’s Lunch Tip:

“My lunch stays the same for the most part and I just alternate the veggies.  To make prep easier I often times cook my chicken in the crock pot.”

Marisa’s Top Three Go-To Lunch Recipes:

Lunch Recipe #1: Crockpot Chicken

 Crockpot Chicken
Crockpot Chicken

  1. All you do is take all your chicken breasts, put them in the crock pot with fresh rosemary, black pepper, garlic powder and a little salt and cover everything with water.
  2. Cook on low for 4-5 hours and you have chicken for a week! Always try and precook your chicken, sweet potatoes, and pre-chop your vegetables so all you have to do for prep is weigh and measure your portions.

Lunch Recipe #2: Ground Turkey Muffins

“Another way to make easy proteins is ground turkey muffins.”

  1. Mix your ground turkey with fresh herbs (Marisa’s Tip: Italian blend with black pepper and garlic is yum!)
  2. Add an optional egg white to hold everything together.
  3. Grease a muffin pan
  4. Roll the turkey into meat balls
  5. Cook for 20 min at 350 degrees.

Lunch Side, Recipe #3: Sweet Potatoes!

 Sweet Potato Mash
Sweet Potato Mash

“The majority of my carbs consist of sweet potatoes so often I will have to mix it up and often make savory versions of them.  I always boil them and mash them but love using fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, garlic, basil,) to make them savory.  I also found that they are amazing with thai green curry powder! I get a blend from a local spice shop and just mix it in.  For a more sweet, dessert style sweet potato with my evening meal I’ll mash them with almond milk, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon.”

Marisa’s Typical Lunch:

  • 3 oz lean meat (chicken, turkey, white fish, bison)
  • 1cup leafy green vegetables (kale, broccoli, asparagus, brussel sprouts, etc)
  • 1cup mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1tbsp coconut oil (while trying to gain some muscle mass) 

Marisa’s Dinner Tips & Tricks:

“Dinner is the one meal I don’t usually prep ahead of time unless I will be at work or working out later in the evening.  I keep my carbs lighter here opting for baked winter squash or parsnips instead of sweet potatoes (it also adds a little variety!).

My protein is usually bison steak or just a top sirloin especially on days when I’m lifting larger muscle groups or doing more volume like back and legs.  I love using different flavors of balsamic vinegar and we have a few local shops that have great varieties!  My favorite for bison is an espresso balsamic and often for chicken or turkey I will use a pomegranate flavor.  It’s like a guilt-free steak sauce!” 

Marisa’s Top Three Go-To Dinner Recipes:

Dinner Recipe #1: Slow Cooker Dry Rub Pot Roast

“I will also do a pot roast in the slow cooker as well using a dry rub.”

  1. Line the bottom of the slow cooker with veggies (onion, carrots and celery)
  2. Coat the roast in a dry rub
  3. Sear on all sides in a pan before putting it in the slow cooker.
  4. Cook on low for 4 hours (depending on the size of the roast). 
  5. Another way to season it is to cut a few holes in the roast before searing and filling them with a sliver of garlic and a sprig of fresh rosemary then sprinkling the whole thing with black pepper.

Dinner Side, Recipe #2: Sauteed Brussel Sprouts and Parsnips

“The main thing I switch up is my veggies.  This is my go to when I have parsnips at home.”

Ingredients:

 Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Roasted Brussel Sprouts

  • 1c Brussels sprouts, chopped in half
  • 1 and 1/2c parsnips, peeled and chopped into fries
  • 1TBSP onions
  • 1tsp olive oil
  • 1tsp Cajun seasoning

Instructions:

  1. Sautee onions in olive oil until soft
  2. Then add parsnips and brussel sprouts and toss to coat everything
  3. Sprinkle with Cajun seasoning and cook covered till the veggies begin to brown just slightly.

Dinner Side, Recipe #3: Sauteed Spinach with Craisins

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 c spinach
  • 1 tbsp craisins
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1tbsp onions
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • Black pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Sautee olive oil, garlic and onions in a pan until they’re soft.
  2. Add spinach and craisins and cook until spinach is slightly wilted.
  3. Add pepper to taste. 

Bonus Dinner Recipe Tip:

“I always like to keep baked winter squash prepped in my fridge!  All you do is cut the squash in half (spaghetti, kombucha, butternut, or acorn), scoop out the seeds with a spoon and place face down on a cooking sheet.  Bake for 45min-1hour at 350 degrees, scoop out the insides and enjoy!  The only difference is with butternut squash you will want to add a little bit of water to the bottom of the pan because the skin is so thin (you can also peel the skin of butternut squash and chop it up before baking for 25-30min).”

I hope you enjoy Marisa’s great recipes and tips as much as we have! It’s been a pleasure having our fitness fanatics guest post on BraveAngel.com! Next week starts our “Real Life” series, but this time around (instead of recipes) we are bringing you workout routines!! 

Marisa has one last farewell note for you too!

“There you have it! I keep things very simple and regimented because I have found that is what works best for me.  I live alone so I don’t often have an excuse to cook anything much more elaborate than this but sometimes it’s fun to mix it up!  Find your happy medium between obsessive weighing and measuring in meal prep and being able to go out to eat on occasion and truly enjoy yourself.  Trust the process and find what works for you!”

Check out our Motivational Workout Wear over at www.BraveAngelShop.com and receive 10% off your order by using coupon code: 10OFFBRAVEANGEL

Part III: “The Experts Reveal: Three Great Breakfasts, Lunches & Dinners for Weight Loss”

We’ve rounded up some of the best fitness and nutrition experts we know.

Last week we spotlighted Fitness & Lifestyle Coach, Cynthia Spenla. This week, Bianca Meehan, a Certified Personal Trainer & Weight Loss Coach is sharing her tips and recipes with us. For our final week, we will have Marisa Watson, a Certified Personal Trainer on! 

We asked them, “What are your ‘Go-To’ Meals for Breakfast, for Lunch and for Dinner?”

So here it is, Part III of the “Real Life” series and nine more tasty yet healthful meal ideas. We’re giving you three recipes for each meal of the day; 3 for Breakfast, 3 for Lunch and 3 for Dinner. These meal ideas are Bianca’s “Go-To” meals that help her reach & maintain her health & fitness goals (and also can help you reach & maintain your weight loss goals!). 

I know it’s hard to figure out what to eat and when to eat it. When you search the internet for a good diet plan, you fall prey to information overload. Also, you most likely have no idea what will work and what won’t work. After searching the web for a weight loss diet and workout program, you probably just give up!

So to help you out, we’re giving you some “Real Life” examples of the types of meals that work for our fitness experts. Everyone’s DNA is different, so remember that what works for someone else may not work for you. So you may have to tweak it to your liking and for your DNA…but, when it’s all said and done, if you’re looking to drop the LB’s, incorporating some of these meal ideas will really help you get there! Read on for the Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Fat Burning Meals that our health & fitness fanatics include in their daily diet! 

 Bianca Meehan, CPT
Bianca Meehan, CPT

Certified Personal Trainer, Bianca Meehan: 

Bianca has worked in the nutrition and fitness world for 11 years.  Her career started when she joined the Air Force and chose a job in dietetics.  She has a degree in Nutrition and is a Certified Personal Trainer and Weight Loss Coach.  Recently after leaving the Air Force, she started her own online coaching business.  She specializes in body transformation and wellness.  Also, she works in corporate wellness as an independent contractor. In her free time she is usually spending time with her kiddo, training for bikini competitions or studying. She also loves playing trivia with her friends and spends countless hours in her kitchen cooking, baking and making up recipes!

Bianca’s Top Three Go-To Breakfast Recipes:

Bianca’s Tip:

“My go-to breakfast is REALLY easy!  I make an egg white scramble with spinach, mushrooms and broccoli.  I eat this with a bowl of oatmeal or gluten free bread (usually millet and chia).”

Breakfast Recipe #1: Egg White Scramble

  • Handful of spinach
  • ½-1c sliced portabella mushrooms
  • Handful of chopped broccoli
  • 5 egg whites

Instructions:

  1. Lightly spray a pan with grape seed oil and all all of the veggies.  Sautee for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add egg whites stir.
  3. Cook until eggs are done.  I like mine browned.  Serve with salsa.

Bianca’s Tip:

“When I know I won’t have time to actually cook breakfast in the morning I like to make Overnight Protein Oats.”

Breakfast Recipe #2: Protein Overnight Oats

  • ½ cup old fashioned oats (not instant)
  • ½ -3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk or water
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons vanilla protein powder
  • ½ Tablespoon chia seeds
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup berries, 2tbsp sliced almonds, or 1tbsp almond butter (for topping)

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small container, seal with a lid and place in the fridge overnight.
  2. Bring out of the fridge in the morning and stir. You’ll notice that the protein powder, oats and chia seeds soak up a lot of the liquid so you may want to add a little more almond milk or water before serving.
  3. Top with toppings of your choice and enjoy. I love berries and sliced almonds or almond butter.

 Bianca Meehan, CPT
Bianca Meehan, CPT

Bianca’s Tip:

“When I want a fun breakfast or am craving a donut (c’mon, I’m human) my go-to “sweet” breakfast food is a pronut.”

Breakfast Recipe #3: Blueberry Pronuts

  • 1/3 cup oats ground into flour
  • 3 egg whites, whipped
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup blueberries (optional)
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp almond flour
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • ½ tso vanilla extract
  • ½ scoop protein (I use dymatize XT blueberry muffin)
  • Sprinkle of stevia

Instructions:

  1. Mix everything except the berries until well blended.
  2. Fold in berries and pour into a sprayed donut pan.  Should make 4. Bake for 10-12 minutes in a 350* oven.  Enjoy!

Bianca’s Lunch Tip:

“Lunch is almost always prepped ahead of time for me.  I’m always on the go and prepping ahead of time is SO helpful and keeps me on track. One of my absolute favorite “salads” to make is cauliflower tabouleh. I mix it up and throw in some chicken for my lunch.  If I have carbs at the meal, I’ll add quinoa.” 

Bianca’s Top Three Go-To Lunch Recipes:

Lunch Recipe #1: Cauliflower Tabouleh

  • 1 head of cauliflower, “riced” (run it through a food processor)
  • 1/2c raw almonds (chopped)
  • 1 large bunch of fresh mint
  • 1 large bunch of fresh parsley
  • 2 green onions
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • the juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1tbsp sumac
  • 1tbsp za’atar
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Chop mint, parsley, green onion and tomatoes very finely.  Add to riced cauliflower and toss to combine.
  2. In a separate bowl, add garlic, lemon juice, sumac, za’atar, salt and pepper and whisk.  Pour over salad and toss gently to combine.

“As a busy mom, I need prep to be FAST.  Like, REALLY fast.  So, this is how I prep my chicken for my lunches”….

Lunch Recipe #2: Easy Prepped Chicken:

  • One family pack of chicken breasts with the remaining fat/skin trimmed off.
  • One packet of McCormick Seasoning (any)

Instructions:

  1. Put chicken in a crockpot.
  2. Sprinkle seasoning on top.
  3. Pour in ¼- ½ cup water
  4. Cook on low for 4-6 hours
  5. Remove chicken, drain juices and shred.

Bianca’s Faves:

“Another easy “salad” that I like to pack is Black Bean and Quinoa Salad.  I love the protein and fiber that is packed in beans and quinoa.  I usually have this on top of spinach and add chicken and sometimes salsa.”

Lunch Recipe #3: Black Bean and Quinoa Salad

  • 4c cooked quinoa
  • 2c black beans
  • 2 ripe avocados, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4c balsamic vinegar OR 2tbsp lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and serve. EASY!

Bianca’s Top Three Go-To Dinner Recipes:

“Dinner is one of my favorite meals.  I love sitting with my family, talking about our days… but most of all I LOVE COOKING!  These are a few of my favorite recipes.  All are family friendly and super fast to prepare.”

Dinner Recipe #1: Turkey Lettuce Wraps

  • 1lb ground turkey, browned.
  • 2tbsp dry Asian seasoning
  • 1/4c raisins (optional)
  • 1/4c minced onion
  • 1-2 chopped fresh chilies

Instructions:

  1. Cook all ingredients with turkey.
  2. Wash 1 large head of lettuce and pull leaves apart.
  3. Serve turkey mixture in lettuce with peanut sauce (recipe below).

Peanut Sauce:

  1. Combine: ½ c peanut butter, 1 tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp apple cider or white vinegar, 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  2. Adjust ingredients to achieve a pourable consistency, adding salt and red pepper flakes if desired.

Dinner Recipe #2: BBQ Rosemary Sweet Potatoes

  • 2 Medium sweet potatoes, washed and sliced (peel if desired)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh, chopped rosemary
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp paprika Ground pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Slice clean potatoes about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick at most. They cook better if they are cut thin.
  2. Place all ingredients in a large baggie and shake to coat potato slices in the oil and spices.
  3. Cook potatoes on the grill using a pan or aluminum foil. These take time to cook so if your meat cooks quickly, start these first. Once potatoes start to fall apart when stirred, they are done.
  4. Serve with your favorite grilled meat and veggies or salad.

Dinner Recipe #3: Whole Roasted Chicken with Veggies

  • 1 whole roasting chicken (about 6 lbs)
  • ¼ c olive oil (divided)
  • 1 c chopped carrots
  • 1 onion cut into large chunks
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled & crushed
  • ½ c chopped fresh parsley
  • Freshly ground salt & pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Brush chicken with some of the olive oil, then coat with salt and pepper.
  3. Place chicken, breast up, into a roasting pan.
  4. Combine: Carrots, onions, garlic and parsley in a bowl. Add remaining olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Stir to coat all surfaces. Transfer vegetables to roasting pan with the chicken. Wrap in foil and cook for 1 hour. Remove foil, stir veggies, baste chicken then cover and bake for another 20 minutes. Remove foil, baste chick and continue to roast uncovered until chicken is completely cooked (about 90 minutes). 

“This recipe is great for family events, cold winter days and if you want/need leftovers.”

If you would like to learn more about Bianca, you can follow her on Facebook and on Instagram. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for http://www.impactbodytransformation.com, coming this spring!

Any recommendations made by Natalie Krul, Brave Angel, guest bloggers, or on our website http://www.BraveAngel.com about weight training, nutrition, supplements or lifestyle should be discussed between you and your doctor because working out involves risks. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Never disregard professional medical advice, or delay in seeking it, because of something you have read on this website or from our products or services.  Never rely on information on our website, from our products or services, in place of seeking professional medical advice.

Use this coupon code to get 10% off Brave Angel Shop:

10OFFBRAVEANGEL

Part II: “The Experts Reveal: Three Great Breakfasts, Lunches & Dinners for Weight Loss”


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We rounded up some of the best fitness and nutrition experts we know. Last week we spotlighted Pro Bikini Model, Lisa Marie Vazquez. This week, Cynthia Spenla, a fabulous Fitness & Lifestyle Coach is sharing her tips and recipes with us. Next week, we will have our friend Bianca Meehan, a Certified Personal Trainer & Nutritionist.

We asked them, “What are your ‘Go-To’ Meals for Breakfast, for Lunch and for Dinner?”

So here it is, Part II of the “Real Life” series, and we’re bringing you 9 more tasty yet healthful meal ideas. Each fitness expert is sharing three recipes for each meal of the day; 3 for Breakfast, 3 for Lunch and 3 for Dinner. These meal ideas are their “Go-To” meals that can help you with your weight loss efforts (and also help you maintain your weight once you’ve reached your goal!).

I know it’s hard to figure out what to eat and when to eat it. When you search the internet for a good diet plan, you fall prey to information overload. Also, you most likely have no idea what will work and what won’t work. After searching the web for a weight loss diet and workout program, you probably just give up!

To help you out, we’re giving you some “Real Life” examples of the types of meals that work for our fitness experts. Everyone’s DNA is different, so remember that what works for someone else may not work for you. So you may have to tweak it to your liking and for your DNA…but, when it’s all said and done, if you’re looking to drop the LB’s, incorporating some of these meal ideas will really help you get there! Read on for the Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Fat Burning Meals that our health & fitness fanatics include in their daily diet! 

Fitness & Lifestyle Coach, Cynthia Spenla: 

 Cynthia Spenla, Fitness & Lifestyle Coach
Cynthia Spenla, Fitness & Lifestyle Coach

Cynthia Spenla has a passion for empowering women to be confident, beautiful, and fully alive through yoga and strength training. Spenla has education and experience in psychology, eating disorders, personal training, and teaching yoga. Cynthia provides an approach to fitness that extends beyond the physical and into the mental and emotional aspects of training for women. In addition to guiding women on a path of beauty through physical strength, Cynthia’s priority is to help women develop a healthy mindset, a healthy relationship with food, and a healthy self-love! Her take on nutrition is similar to the paleo diet, so all of you paleo enthusiasts out there will love her recipes!

Cynthia’s #1 Vital Tip:

“I choose what I eat based on what makes me feel good in my body. I avoid foods that tend to cause inflammation, digestive, and cognitive problems such as gluten, dairy, corn, & soy.
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 Cynthia Spenla
Cynthia Spenla

Cynthia’s Reality Check:

“Since these foods (gluten, dairy, corn & soy) make up the majority of the American diet, I have to get creative in the kitchen. I make staple meals using alternative ingredients. They are always yummy and delicious. I like to play around with my Vitamix and explore Pinterest for different ways to make my favorite meals.”

 

Cynthia’s Top Three Go-To Breakfast Recipes:

Breakfast Recipe #1: Green Smoothie

  • protein powder of choice: (Pure Paleo Protein Vanilla)
  •  1 cup kale or spinach
  • ½  cucumber,
  • 1-2 tbs coconut oil
  • ½ apple or ½ cup pineapple
  • ¼ avocado
  • coconut water or unsweetened almond milk

Breakfast Recipe #2: Buckwheat and Sausage

  • ¼ cup dry cream of buckwheat (1 cup cooked)
  • 1 Serving Nitrate Free chicken or turkey sausage
  • Season with salt and pepper and Kerrygold butter

 Quinoa Oatmeal
Quinoa Oatmeal

Breakfast Recipe #3: Quinoa Oatmeal

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa,
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • fresh berries
  • raw nuts  (almonds, pecans, walnuts)
  • ½ serving meat of choice

 

Cynthia’s Top Three Go-To Lunch Recipes: 

Lunch Recipe #1: Quinoa Salad

  • Quinoa
  • 4 oz. Chicken/ salmon/ Ahi tuna
  • Chopped Kale
  • Blueberries
  • Walnuts or pepitas, 
  • Oil based dressing (mix Dijon mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper)

Lunch Recipe #2: Bunless Burger

  • 4 oz Ground Turkey, Beef, or Buffalo
  • Homemade sweet potato fries (See Pinterest for Recipe)
  • Serving of Steamed Green Vegetables (broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts)

 Chicken Collard Wrap
Chicken Collard Wrap

Lunch Recipe #3: Collard Wrap

  • Collard leaf
  • Chicken
  • Cucumber slices
  • ½ Avocado
  • Hummus

 

Cynthia’s Top Three Go-To Dinner Recipes: 

Dinner Recipe #1: Beet Avocado Citrus Salad

  • Steamed golden beets
  • Arugula
  • Grapefruit
  • Avocado
  • Mix and Serve with protein of choice

Dinner Recipe #2: Alternative Pasta

  • Spaghetti squash or Zucchini Noodles
  • Ground Turkey, Buffalo, Beef
  • organic tomato sauce
  • veggies of choice

Dinner Recipe #3: Cauliflower Mash

  • Steam a head of cauliflower
  • Mix in food processor with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper
  • Serve with any protein of choice
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Visit our shop over at www.BraveAngelShop.com for the latest and greatest line of women’s active wear and motivational workout clothing: tanks, tees & hoodies!


Any recommendations made by Natalie Krul, Brave Angel, guest bloggers, or on our website http://www.BraveAngel.com about weight training, nutrition, supplements or lifestyle should be discussed between you and your doctor because working out involves risks. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Never disregard professional medical advice, or delay in seeking it, because of something you have read on this website or from our products or services.  Never rely on information on our website, from our products or services, in place of seeking professional medical advice.

How Over Training is Holding You Back

We’ve got six more days left of the 20 day challenge, and if you missed out on the first fourteen days…you can still start NOW! Click below to download the workout program, and #gohardorgohome 😉

20 Day Workout Challenge

I want to briefly talk about Overtraining with you. For some of you, just getting in your 3-4 workouts per week is an accomplishment in and of itself, and every time you accomplish that goal…pat yourself on the back!

However, it’s easy to become a gym addict…working out 6-7 days per week and each workout session is 60-90 minutes or even more. THIS is Overtraining. This is the technical definition of “Overtraining”:

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a physical, behavioral, and emotional condition that occurs when the volume and intensity of an individual’s exercise exceeds their recovery capacity. They cease making progress, and can even begin to lose strength and fitness. Overtraining is a common problem in weight training, but it can also be experienced by runners and other athletes.

It won’t get you lean, strong and healthy…and this is why:

  • Microtrauma to the muscles are created faster than the body can heal them.
  • Amino acids are used up faster than they are supplied in the diet. This is sometimes called “protein deficiency”.
  • The body becomes calorie-deficient and the rate of break down of muscle tissue increases.
  • Levels of cortisol (the “stress” hormone) are elevated for long periods of time.
  • The body spends more time in a catabolic state than an anabolic state (perhaps as a result of elevated cortisol levels).
  • Excessive strain to the nervous system during training
  • Persistent muscle soreness
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Elevated resting heart rate
  • Reduced heart rate variability
  • Increased susceptibility to infections
  • Increased incidence of injuries
  • Constipation or Diarrhea
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Mental breakdown

So please make sure to have rest and recovery days. Working out any longer than 60 minutes increases your cortisol levels above proper levels and can create an environment suitable for the overtraining syndrome described above. If you really like working out, you can workout 5-6 days per week but make sure your workout sessions are kept to a minimum of 20-40 minutes maximum. You can throw in a couple longer sessions but you need to make up for it by decreasing the length of some of your other workout sessions that week.

Now….Happy Monday and #HIIT it!

Fight the Flu & Cold with these 4 Natural Home Remedies

It’s time to check-in and give you a couple tips and tricks to help you succeed at the January Fitness New Year New You Challenge.

This past week, you followed the January Fitness Challenge Workout Program and you hit the gym (or home gym) to work on toning and building a foundation by doing compound exercise movements, such as the Deadlift and Barbell Squats. You are probably a little sore, so please make sure to utilize the active rest day and give yourself a physical and mental break so that you can #gohardorgohome for week #2.

If you don’t let those muscles rest, you will just keep yourself from making any progress (such as strength and endurance gains). So get that rest! What’s a good active rest activity? Shopping at the mall! Reward yourself with a new workout outfit!

What’s one of the top 10 reasons a person stops working out? They get sick! And once they take a week off, because they got the flu, they have a really hard time getting back into the habit of working out regularly. So what is a good solution to this problem? Do everything you can to ensure you don’t get sick.

Easier said than done, right? The key here is your immune system. You need to keep that immune system functioning at its highest capacity during flu season. How? Consistently consuming a healthful diet (little-to-no alcohol, no smoking, avoid processed food, low sugar intake, LOTS of dark green leafy vegetables, lean proteins, LOTS OF WATER). Eating as “clean” as possible is the key.

But let me share a few immune system boosting tips, including a little natural home remedy secret concoction that I take daily during cold and flu season (or even when I’m traveling in “high risk” areas like airports/planes/buses).

#1 – Taking a Probiotic and taking Magnesium for optimum digestive health [yes your digestive system health directly affects your immune system]

#2 – Taking Vitamin D3 and Zinc

#3 – Taking Bee Pollen before going on a trip where I will be in “high risk” areas, like airports/airplanes/buses/trains or if you’re starting to feel a cold coming on taking bee pollen can help keep the cold at bay.

#3 – My Secret Concoction – drinking 8 ounces of filtered water with 3-4 drops of 100% Pure Oregano Oil stirred in – this not only helps improve your digestive health but it seriously helps fight off the cold and flu (even if you’ve already contracted a cold, it can help your body fight it off faster) [please make sure to dilute oregano oil, take it according to directions on bottle]. I take it every night, right before going to bed.

That’s it, quite simple, but it REALLY works to boost my immune system so that I can stick with my workout regimen and keep hitting it hard at the gym!

Rock on and stay strong this week during week #2 of the January Fitness New Year New You Challenge!

I am not a doctor.  Any recommendations I make about weight training, nutrition, supplements or lifestyle should be discussed between you and your doctor because working out involves risks. The information provided on BraveAngel.com is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Never disregard professional medical advice, or delay in seeking it, because of something you have read on this website or from our products or services.  Never rely on information on our website, from our products or services, in place of seeking professional medical advice.

Lose More Belly Fat by Supplementing w/BCAAs!!

Happy New Year! We are back!

December was dedicated to our fitness apparel line of clothing because the holiday season get’s pretty busy over at Brave Angel Shop! So we did not have a challenge for December, but we start our January New Year New You Challenge on the 12th! I know, SO cliche, but who doesn’t have something new to strive for when the New Year hits?!

Before the January challenge starts, I want to hit you with some tips and tricks to help you achieve your 2015 fitness goals easier and more efficiently and healthfully too!

I like to keep it short and sweet here on Brave Angel, so I’m not going to get too scientific or detailed when explaining why and how BCAAs will help you lose belly fat (and any excess fat all over your body too!). If you don’t have excess body fat to shed or if your fitness goals are to gain lean muscle mass or you are training for a 5k, 10k, half or full marathon…BCAAs will also come into play when it comes to maximizing your training potential.

What are BCAAs?

Simply put, BCAA stands for branched chain amino acid and is made up of three aminos: leucine, isoleucine and valine. BCAAs are essential amino acids, meaning our body can’t make them so we have to ingest them via food or supplementation.

The main proteins that you can find BCAAs in are chicken, beef, salmon, eggs, and whey protein. Sometimes it’s hard to consume sufficient amounts of these proteins, so that is where supplementation comes in handy. The BCAAs I take (from Bulk Supplements) dissolve in an 6-8 ounce glass of water and are flavorless. Very simple to quickly get my dose in before and after my workouts!

What Can BCAAS Do For Me?

I’m sure you can find something that applies to you in this list below!

Benefits of BCAAs (taken from this article):

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    BCAA metabolites were found to be a significant indicator of lean mass in a population of young and middle-aged adults.

  • People who consume a threshold dose of essential amino acids that contain BCAAs with every meal have less visceral belly fat and more muscle mass.

  • BCAAs trigger protein synthesis and inhibit the breakdown of muscle cells.

  • In healthy people, BCAAs improve glucose uptake and insulin sensitivity. In diabetics, BCAA dietary intake with other therapeutic interventions may improve metabolic markers.

  • BCAAs play an important role in muscle and energy production during exercise, which is the reason that they are often used during workouts.

  • BCAAs convey many health benefits and a higher dietary intake has been identified as a predictor of longevity.

  • They have been found to reduce muscle soreness from intense muscle-damaging exercise.

  • They improve training motivation, especially when fatigued.

More Fat Burned for Energy Production VS. Using Muscle Mass for Energy

=

Effectively & Efficiently Shedding Excess Body Fat!

To sum it up:

  1. The consumption of BCAAs is linked to less belly fat/more muscle mass.
  2. BCAAs help build lean muscle, can improve metabolism, & reduce muscle soreness.
  3. Consuming BCAAs helps to ensure enough protein will be present in your body during your workouts so that it’s more likely that your body’s fat stores are used for energy production instead of your hard-earned muscle mass!

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What Kind, When, & How Much?

I preach organic, wholefoods clean eating so therefore, I demand the cleanest supplements with little-to-no fillers or additives! There are many BCAA supplements on the market to choose from, which can be a bit daunting, so I want to share with you which brand of BCAA I take! I take “Bulk Supplements” BCAAs, I buy the 500g bag which lasts me 2-3 months. I take one serving before and after my workouts for best possible results. There are no other ingredients in it, it’s just straight up BCAAs and you dissolve it in a 6-8 ounce glass of water and chug it. There is no taste, it’s as simple as that!

If you want more information regarding the benefits of and scientific explanation behind BCAAs, you can check out this article “Ten Benefits of BCAAs”

Kettlebell Body Sculpting Moves

20 Day Kettlebell Challenge

Quick Tip: A fellow Brave Angel asked me the other day, “I workout, but I’m not quite sure how to sculpt my body, what can I do?” Here are five really important tips to help you sculpt your bod!

1. Diet is 80% of the equation. If you want to have a lean and sculpted body, you’ve got to watch what you eat! And I’m not talking about avoiding ice cream and sweets, I mean the macro-nutrient ratio of each meal (carbs-protein-fat). Carbs should be about 35-45% of each meal, protein should be about 30% of each meal, and fat should be anywhere between 10-20% of each meal. Carbs should be from unprocessed, unrefined, wheat free grains such as quinoa or brown rice, and you should keep these starchy carbs to a minimum. A majority of your diet/carbs should come from dark, leafy green veggies like Kale and Broccoli for example.

2. Protein and Weight Lifting is key when you are trying to sculpt and tone up! Don’t worry ladies, you won’t get bulky from lifting weights and eating protein. Females don’t have the hormones necessary to bulk up unless they are purposefully adding performance enhancing supplements to do so. Try to get in 1 gram of protein per goal body weight daily! So if I want to aim to be 130 pounds of sculpted and toned body weight, then I need to eat 130 grams of protein per day.

3. Eat moderate amounts of healthy fats. Your body needs fat to function, and will hold onto fat if you don’t eat enough healthy fat. Aim for about 15-20% of your daily caloric intake to be from healthy fats.

4. Cardio…How much and when? Only do between 25-45 minutes of cardio about 3x/week max. Too much cardio and you won’t be able to keep that lean, sculpted muscle you just earned by lifting weights! Also, too much cardio will make you want to eat like a beast and make it REALLY difficult to stick to your diet guidelines I just mentioned above. Fit your cardio in around your weight lifting days. Do cardio AFTER you lift weights or in a separate session of its own so you have enough stamina to get through your weight lifting sessions.

5. Weight Lifting. As for weight lifting, try to lift heavy weights 5 days/week. Alternate days. Meaning, focus on upper body muscle groups Day’s 1, 3 & 5 and lower body muscle groups on Day’s 2 & 4. This way you can really target those muscle groups and also give your muscles one day of rest.

Now, here are Day 16 & Day 17 of the 20 Day Kettlebell Challenge!

Day 16, Wednesday, Upper Body Sculpt:

 Kettlebell Upper Body Sculpt
Kettlebell Upper Body Sculpt

Day 17, Thursday, Lower Body Sculpt

 Kettlebell Lower Body Sculpt
Kettlebell Lower Body Sculpt

Let that Kettlebell Swing!

20 Day Kettlebell Challenge

Below are the workouts for Day 11 and Day 12 of the 20 Day Kettlebell Challenge. You will be doing a full body workout both days. One workout will be geared towards giving you a cardio blast and one workout will be strength and endurance training. Here they are, enjoy!

Friday, Day 11, Kettlebell Cardio Burn:

 Kettlebell Cardio Burn
Kettlebell Cardio Burn

Saturday, Day 12, Kettlebell Full Body Burn:

 Kettlebell Full Body Burn
Kettlebell Full Body Burn