Fat Tuesday v Skinny Tuesday

Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday. Traditionally it is called Fat Tuesday because it is the last night before Ash Wednesday, in which the season of Lent begins. So everyone indulges in fatty, richer foods on Tuesday.
Traditional Mardi Gras King Cake

Just with other holidays, people sometimes try to use this as an excuse to consume grease, sugar and fat in large quantities. Do not get me wrong, you can still enjoy your Mardi Gras celebration, just skip out on the King Cake.

I know this is the slogan for Subway; however, I try to make sure my daily diet consists of eating fresh. What does that mean? It simply means eating things that come from the ground. Once or twice a year I do something called the Daniel Fast. It is for religious and health purposes. Basically what the fast consists of is eating only things that are grown from the ground (fruit and vegetables) and only drinking water or decaffeinated tea.
I know many adults who still say they do not like fruits and vegetables. Really? If you are in your 20's, 30's, 40's and beyond, all I have to say is, "Get over it."

I have learned to LOVE eating my fruits and veggies. I never had a problem eating them as a child. And now, I have added many new ones to my palate and absolutely love it.
You will too if you don't already. In our childhood minds we think spinach, brussel sprouts (which I am still picky about), and other green items are evil; but they provide so many vitamin-rich nutrients for you, it would be silly not to eat them!!


You do not just have to consume raw fruits and vegetables. Get creative with your fresh meals.

There are so many recipes for salads, main dishes, and desserts in which all ingredients are simply a fruit or vegetable.

1. Smoothies
One of my favorite breakfast items or snacks is a homemade smoothie. The reason I love smoothies is because you control the ingredients (I always use honey as a sweetener rather than sugar), and it is all your favorite fruit flavors. I love my Strawnana smoothie as well as my infamous PBB (Peanut Butter & Butter) Smoothie drizzled with a bit of honey.

Not only that, but smoothies are filling because you are drinking a thick liquid. So you get full more quickly and you are consuming all natural products. It is a win-win.

2. Salads
There are literally millions of ways you can make a salad. There are now salad bars in almost every restaurant and cafeteria in America.... however; the problem is not that people are eating salads but it is what they put on the salad to call it a salad.
I have seen people eating salads that are piled with turkey, ham, chicken, bacon, cheese, eggs, sour cream, olives, and drenched in ranch or blue cheese dressing. You cannot even seen the lettuce once they have finished assembling their meal, haha.

That defeats the whole purpose of a salad. Salads can be filling, but they should be healthy & light. One of my favorite simple salad recipes is the Spinach & Strawberry salad. It is so delicious and so easy to make. It is strawberries, spinach leaves, vegetable oil, wine vinegar, paprika, and sesame and poppy seeds. Mix everything together, and you have a great meal. You can put blueberries or kiwi or whatever fruit and veggie you want. Make it you own :)

3. Soups & Stews
This is where the vegetables make their appearance and shine. Soups and stews are a hearty meal and usually can stand alone without a side dish. Be careful with the soups and getting carried away with the salts and seasonings. Again, the purpose is to try to keep them as "earthly" as possible.

Basically all you need is chicken or vegetable broth and a spread of your favorite chopped veggies. Simple as that. One of my favorite vegetarian soups is a spicy potato and poblano soup and a roasted red pepper soup.

You can always throw in some penne pasta noodles or pinto beans (extra protein) and make it a stew or chili to thicken it up. Experiement and get crazy.... just keep it healthy!!

In Conclusion... while the rest of the world enjoys stuffing themselves on food in celebration of Fat Tuesday, stuff yourself on vegetables and fruits. Trust me, you won't feel guilty the next day :)

In Health,
~ Q. Olivia


Motivation Monday 9: What's Stopping You?

What keeps us from following our resolutions, goals, or dreams. Three things: time, money, and laziness. Now... I may have added that last one myself, but I do believe it is true!!

I would go out on a limb to say that over 50% people who started health resolutions in February have most likely given up those resolutions. Treadmills at the gym are once again getting dusty and there is no longer a 15 minutes wait to use the weights.

I just hope YOU are not one of those who have given up your health and fitness goals. Let's discuss these three evils (time, money, and laziness) one at a time.

Although this is one of the biggest killers, I have to say time is not a valid excuse for not following your health plan. Everyone has the same hours in a day; 24. Really healthy people are not blessed with an extra hour everyday to hit the gym. There is not store that you can buy a quick 30 minutes to get your cardio in; we all have the same amount.

This is where time management really comes in hand. I always say, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Plan your week out. Which days are you going to work out? When are you going to do them? How long will your workouts be? What will your meals include? What day will you cook your meals? When will go grocery shopping? If you miss a workout because of an unforeseen emergency, where can you fit it in later in the week?

I know this seems like a ridiculous amount of questions, but all are legitimate and important to consider. Finally, on the topic of time, tackle your hardships head on. If you are not used to working out daily, do not try to start now. First choose 2 days a week to work out; then up the ante to three days; and then four if you're feeling bold :)

Time is one of our most valuable tools; use (and manage) it wisely.

You've heard it... money doesn't grow on trees. Yes, we all know that. At least, I hope we do. While the health market makes millions of dollars a year; you do not have to break open your childhood piggy  bank to eat healthy.
Always set a budget before going to the grocery store. Make a list and stick to it. I am guilty of not doing this on Mondays. Sometimes I make a "mental grocery list" and know I need to get the basics: chicken breast or white fish, fruit and vegetables, ingredients for salad, beans, egg whites, etc. I have found when I attempt to go by my mental list, I end up buying a lot more than I originally planned, and that of course results in me being surprised when the cashier announces the total to me. I usually take a quick second to glance over at what is being loaded into my cart and realization hits me: I came to the store without my coveted list. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Not only can eating healthy be economic, so can your workouts. You do not have to spend hundreds of dollars on a personal trainer or gym membership. Look online for exercises you can do at home, in the park, or at a local high school track. There are literally hundreds of thousands of videos, articles and tips on exercises that do not require dumbbells or weight machines. If you do want a personal trainer, find a committed friend to work out with you. Usually personal trainers will work with two to three people at the same time, and you can split the cost among you.

Although you do not have to spend lots of money on fitness and health, you have to admit; investing in your personal care is well worth it in the long run. It beats spending thousands on surgeries or medications later in life because of health concerns. Right?


This is where these Monday Motivators come in. Motivation is the hardest part about any goal. It is simple to go to the gym and get a 30 minute or one hour workout in. BUT... it is also simple not to go and sit on your couch, eating chips and watching TV.
If this isn't lazy... I don't know what is.
Are you kidding me?!?!

You can always make more money; or find an extra few minutes to do some push-ups, but finding motivation is a challenge. You are the only one who can do it though. If you depend on your co-worker who walks the track with you during lunch breaks or your personal trainer; what happens when they are not around. Who motivates you then? While it is great to have workout buddies and accountability partners, the best person to motivate you is YOU.

Try it. I promise you will like it. In fact, you may even start to love it ;)

I hope this week is an awesome fitness and health week for you. Kick these three excuses and become the healthiest, fittest you ever!!

In Health,
~ Q. Olivia


Skinny Up Your Weekend

For most of us, it seems that our diets, healthy eating and exercise comes to a halting crash on the weekends. Maybe psychologically you are off from work on those two days; most people associate healthy living with being like word; therefore, when you check out out of the office on Friday, so does your diet.

Not so. Do not allow two days to destroy your hard work from the week!! Trust me, five good days of eating does not balance out two poor days of junk. Research shows that we can easily consume 1,000 more calories a day on the weekends that Monday through Friday.

Here are some tips to skinny up your weekend:

1. Be a Picky Eater.
Weekends are big days for eating out. You do not have to slave away in the kitchen on your weekends. Family-friendly restaurants are used to picky eaters, so it is alright to order things made-to-order; exactly how you want them. Order a burger, but hold all the fattening condiments that come along with it.

2. B.Y.O.F.
Weekends are notorious for get-together and parties. Do not become entrapped in all the high fattening foods at your social gatherings. Bring Your Own Food. It is okay to pack a few Ziploc bags of healthy munchies like vegetables, fruit or dried nuts. Or simply eat a hearty, healthy meal before going out and about. It is simple to say, "No thanks, I just ate" if offered tempting treats without being rude :)

3. Be Active
Boredom can lead to snacking and grazing through the food cabinets. Plan your weekend (like you plan your week) and stay busy. It does not have to be a jam packed schedule, but have activities in mind so that you do not stay at home simply watching TV all day and cleaning out our pantry with your mouth!!

4. Drink Up
Drink more water. Attending weekend events usually involved alcohol. Drinking water or ginger ale between alcoholic beverages, not only keeps your hydrated, but it helps with becoming under the influence, which normally results in making very bad eating choices!! I remember to well those late night runs to Taco Bell & McDonald's. Alcohol + grease are your worse enemies when combined together.

5. Burn Calories

Now, I am not saying you have to hit the gym super hard on the weekends, it is a few days of rest after all; however, get out and go do something fun. Get some friends together for salsa lessons, find a new hiking trail (good for a date with your sweetie), or go be a kid again and spend a few hours playing laser tag or paint ball. The gym is not the only place to lose calories!!

Have a wonderful and fit weekend :)

In Health,
~ Q. Olivia


Motivation Monday 8: Inspiration

What inspires you? Is it a pair of fabulous skinny jeans? A recent health concern? An upcoming even such as a beach vacation or a wedding day? Whatever inspires you, I recommend that you print it out and post it where you can see it. Seeing your goals before your eyes helps you stay focused and be reminded daily what all the hard work is going towards. Keep your goals visible!!

Motivation is easier when you are around others. Surround yourself with exercise-oriented people. This may mean joining a gym, a running club, or a group of yoga or Pilates students. Finding a walking buddy at work or someone to eat lunch with who also enjoys being healthy.

Another way to stay inspired is to read blogs or become a blogger yourself. When you are writing about your journey it motivates you to continue sharing your story with others out there, whether you know them or not. Besides, you never know who might need to hear your success. Telling people your goals and posting about your success is an awesome motivator. Be inspiring to be inspired!!

Whatever you do to become inspired, do it weekly or daily, as often as it takes.

Just remember, no one can inspire you like you can.
The best changes often start as single, simple actions. Thing BIG and discover how to make your dreams real.

In Health,
~ Q. Olivia


Body Transformation 2012 Challenge

On January 30, I signed up to compete in Bodybuilding.com's 2012 Body Transformation Challenge. Now I have not been posting much about it (particularly since I am only on week two); however, I have been capturing photos of my workouts, meals, and of course profiles to submit into the competition. I am super excited and wish all the other contestants the best of luck!!

Here is a quick photo montage of my recent journey!!

Breakfast Option: egg whites and cooked oats with a dash of cinnamon

Breakfast or Snack Option: fruit smoothie. My favorite is strawberry & banana

Breakfast Option: One wheat waffle w/ 1Tbsp of peanut butter, a fruit of choice, and a glass of vitamin D & calcium fortified orange juice (no acid).

Meal Prep Mondays: Cooking up a few ups of brown rice for the week


Shoulders + Triceps

Homemade Baked (not fried) Eggrolls

Arms + Shoulders

Peeling sweet potatoes for a lunch side dish

Motivation Monday 7: Run Like You Stole Something

One of my biggest motivations is driving around my neighborhood and seeing men and women aged 50+ who are out and about, not walking, but running... for miles. And I think, they can do it, I can do it.
And the same is true for you.

Some people see others who are fit and they begin comparing themselves to others or become angry with themselves. They make excuses for why they can't or won't workout and eat healthy.
But instead of making excuses, use those as a reason.

I chose the above picture because thinking about it motivates me when I am running. Running is not necessarily on my top 5 favorite workouts; but I still do it because I know the benefits. And not just running. There are plenty of exercises I would rather not do (push-ups, pull-ups, etc.), but I know the benefits of doing them and what they can do to improve my body and my strength.

My new Reebok runners
One thing that motivates me like no other is getting a brand new pair of shoes. They do not have to be name brand or expensive; just make sure they have support. A new pair of running shoes makes me want to get out and use them (especially if I did invest a nice sum of money).

A second way to motivate me to run is to start slow; I am not racing against anyone except myself. I do not have to run a marathon every time I go for a job. Set a goal in the beginning and push yourself further each time. You will be 5K, 10K, Half, and Marathon ready before you know it... if that is one of your goals.

Third, have an awesome play list on your music player or run somewhere that is relaxing. I love fast, upbeat music. It is simply awesome. But every now and then, I like to run with no music and just hear the sound of nature, particularly if I am running through a park or near a lake.

Additionally, create a mantra for your fitness goals, read it daily, and reward yourself for your hard work.
Fitness is not just about action. It is about a thought process. Running is the same way. It is a mental activity and the more you think about it in a positive way; the faster and longer you will run. Pushing yourself mentally is what a fit lifestyle is all out; Taking it to another level and never settling for mediocrity.

So as the motivational poster above says, "Run like you stole something." Better yet, run like your life (your health) depends on it... because maybe one day it will ;)

In Health,
~ Q. Olivia


Workout Wednesday: Killer Abs

We've all done them... endless cycles of crunches, multiple reps of sit-ups, and the popular electric ab stimulator that jiggle your stomach to create some form of mass that looks like abdominal muscles.

My secret confession is that I ABSolutely love working out those abdominals. It feels simply amazing, and is probably the one muscle group that I work out almost daily.

There are so many really cool ab workout programs out there to help you get a lean and smooth contour of the stomach muscles. One of my favorites that I still use from time to time is the Hip Hop Abs workout video with Shaun T. It is a great workout with awesome music and not a single crunch; it is all about standing abs.

Abs are not just about the abs... they incorporate your core, and therefore, your back. I will share five of my favorite core workouts that will help tame your tummy!!

1. BALL ROLL OUT  - Kneel directly behind a large exercise ball with your palms on top of the ball, arms straight. Slowly roll the ball forward and away from you, stretching your body out as you go. Roll out as far out in front of you as you can while still maintaining balance and without losing control of the ball.

2. PILATES BEGINNER "100" Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet together. Lift your bent legs off the floor so that your knees are aligned over your hips. Stretch your arms out at your sides a few inches above the floor, palms facing down. Pull your bellybutton in towards your spine.
 3. SIDE PLANKSLie on your left side with your left forearm on the floor perpendicular to your body and your right hand resting on your side. 
Stack your legs and hips and pull your bellybutton in towards your spine. Raise your body up by straightening and lengthening the waist so that you are balanced on your left forearm and the bottom of your left foot.

4. YOGA BEGINNER BOATSit up tall on the floor with your legs out straight and palms down, fingertips pointing towards your feet. Maintain your tall and lifted spine as you lean back, balance on your sits-bones, and lift your legs up off the floor as high as you feel comfortable;
use your fingertips to help balance and bend your knees as much as you need to accommodate for your level of strength and flexibility. Lift your arms up so your fingertips are alongside your knees.

5. PILATES DOUBLE LEG STRETCH - Lie on your back with your belly button pulled in towards your spine. Bring your knees in towards your chest and grasp your shins in your hands as you round your back to lift your head, neck and shoulders off the floor. Inhale deeply as you simultaneously extend your legs out straight about a foot off the floor and stretch your arms behind you so that your elbows are alongside your ears.

Enjoy every moment of abs workout. Remember to stay tight during the entire session and you will see results quickly!!

In Health,
~ Q. Olivia