Meal Planning: Jan 18-22, 2016

As promised, I am sharing my meal plan for the week of January 18-22, 2016. I used to follow Kayla Itsines HELP guide strictly, but now I try to just eat 5 balanced meals + snacks per day and make food with healthy, nutritious ingredients.

I have found that I am personally more capable of sticking to an eating plan when I am not straying too far from my “normal.” With time, I will continue to add in more exotic foods and probably eat a little bit more clean, but for now I am just trying to get back into the swing of things with a plan that I know I can maintain.

I have included graphics of my meal plan for this week below, and I am highlighting a few of the recipes that I am cooking for dinner here:

We are attending a dinner with friends on Thursday night and have an engagement party to attend on Saturday night which is why I have not included meals for those days.

For lunch, I will be having Chicken Quinoa Salad. This is simple to prepare ahead of time and really delicious:

  1. Cook quinoa according to package instructions (you’ll want to make enough to have 1.5-2 cups of cooked quinoa). Place in food-safe container.
  2. Cut chicken breast into small cubes and cook over the stovetop until cooked through. Place in container with quinoa and store in fridge.
  3. To prepare – warm 1/4-1/2 cup of chicken & quinoa in microwave or on stove top. In a bowl, place 2 cups spring mix lettuce and top with quinoa/chicken mixture. Sprinkle the salad with sliced almonds and feta cheese. Place a dollop of plain hummus on top as the dressing.

I do my grocery shopping on Sundays and that is when my new week starts over, so I probably need to edit my planning sheets to run Sunday-Saturday!

Full Meal Plan Below:

Weekly Planner_011816

Here is a grocery list that includes everything you will need for the above meal plan. Feel free to print off and add your other household items and hit the grocery store!

Weekly Planner_011816-2

BBG Meetup | Raleigh, North Carolina

“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.”

We hosted our first Raleigh, NC BBG Meetup this past weekend on Saturday, October 24, 2015 at Durant Nature Park in Raleigh. We had an amazing group of girls come out to workout and spend time together. The morning started off a bit chilly, and the dew on the grass caused me to almost bust my tail during my first set of burpees, but it gradually warmed up and turned out to be a BEAUTIFUL day. Jessica, @jgr_bbg on Instagram, was the brains behind the operation and came up with our killer workout — hello, #DeathbyJessica! Brian DeContreras of Decon Films ( was nice enough to come and film the entire workout for us, creating an amazing video that we can watch and reminisce on all the fun we had!

We concluded our meetup with a picnic style social on the grass! All of the girls brought healthy snacks to share with the group, including: no bake clean cookies, turkey meatballs, larabars, clif bars, protein muffins, and crock-pot overnight oats – YUM!

Check out our video below | If you’re in the Raleigh-Durham area, please mark your calendar for December 5, 2015 to join us for our next meetup!


Understanding Heart Rate Zones

Monitoring your heart rate during physical activity is important to ensure that you’re within a specific target training zone. According to the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) you should exercise within 55 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate for at least 20 to 30 minutes five times per week to get the best results from aerobic exercise.

Heart rate zones are percentages of your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR). There are various methods for determining your Maximum Heart Rate, but the most common method is to simply subtract your age from 220. For example, if you are 25 years old your MHR would be 195. Determine the zone you with to workout in and multiply against your MHR. For example, if the aforementioned 25-year-old wants to complete LISS training, her HR should be between 97-136 beats per minute.

The following heart rate zones are the most common zones you will hear referenced:

  • Low Intensity: Low intensity exercises include warm-up and Low Intensity Steady State (LISS). This is the most effective heart rate zone for burning FAT.
  • Moderate Intensity: Moderate intensity exercises are best for developing cardio endurance and burning CALORIES.
  • High Intensity: High intensity exercises push your anaerobic limits and can include High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
  • Maximum Intensity: Maximum intensity exercises can only be completed for very short periods of time and often only seasoned athletes can reach this zone.

To make it easy on you, I have completed calculations for target heart rates for 18-30 year old individuals:

Activity %MHR 15 YRS 20 YRS 25 YRS 30 YRS 35 YRS
Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) 100% 205 200 195 190 185
Low Intensity 50-70% 102-143 100-140 97-136 95-133 92-129
Moderate Intensity 70-80% 143-164 140-160 136-156 133-152 129-148
High Intensity 80-90% 164-184 160-180 156-176 152-171 148-166
Maximum Intensity 90-100% 184-205 180-200 176-195 171-190 166-185

If you’re interested in learning more about heart rate zones, Kayla Itsines has a very informative post on her blog that you should check out.

You can use this calculator to determine your specific heart rate zones based on your age and desired intensity.

Fitness Finds Friday

I decided it would be fun to share some of my favorite fitness finds every Friday. This week, I am going to share my top three favorite go-to, cannot live without, use almost every single day fitness “finds.”

Asics GT-2000 3 Running Shoes

Asics GT-2000 3These are my go-to shoes. After having bad knee pain when I first started working out, it was brought to my attention that I may need a more supportive shoe. The Asics GT-2000 was recommended to me and I’ve never looked back! This shoe has the perfect amount of support and cushion I need to make it through my BBG workouts, LISS and HIIT. I wear them for group fitness classes and for the {occasional} run [read: I don’t run]. Purchasing shoes in a very personal thing, in the sense that no two feet are the same. The shoe that works best for you will depend on if you have a normal gait or tend to under- or over-pronate. This specific shoe is designed for mild to moderate overpronators. If you’re in the market for new shoes I recommend checking out a store like Fleet Feet where trained consultants can measure you to make sure that you’re picking a shoe that works best for you!

Polar A300 Fitness Watch

Polar a300I started out my fitness journey using the Polar FT4 fitness watch and the FitBit Charge HR in conjunction with each other. I wore the FT4 to track HR and calories more accurately during workouts, and the FitBit Charge to track my steps all day. I upgraded to the Polar A300 about 4 months in and I am SO glad I made the switch! I wear this watch 24/7 and it gives me all of the data I need – daily activity including steps, distance and active time (which is displayed via a really cool activity bar!); calories and heart rate during workouts (when you wear the heart rate strap), and it has a built in alarm that beeps, vibrates and flashes to wake me up in the mornings! I highly recommend this watch to anyone that is looking for a fitness tracker. The band is interchangeable and you can pick from quite a few colors. I personally purchased the watch in white and got the light gray band and they are the perfect neutral picks!

Lululemon Pace Rival Crops

Lululemon Pace Rival CropI discovered these crops not too long ago and have already purchased 4 pairs. They are SO comfortable I pretty much can’t workout in anything else now! They are fitted without having too much compression, and the mesh venting makes them nice and cool. The fabric feels like a second skin and dries quickly. I have washed them all multiple times and they still look just as great as they did the day that I bought them. The cut is a high enough rise that they don’t slip down to reveal any under-things during burpees and squats. There are three pockets in the waistband (one with a zipper) and two side pockets that are perfect for slipping a card key or credit card.


What are some of your favorite fitness finds? Leave your favorites in the comments below!

A Day in the Life: Meal Prepping

Phew! It has been a LONG time since I last posted! Things have been absolutely crazy with work and I was studying for the AFAA Group Fitness Certification which took pretty much all of my free time (I’ll be posting about this soon!).He-who-fails-to-plan-is

Now that I have some time to actually BREATHE I wanted to focus on something that is an integral piece of being successful on a weight loss journey — Meal Prepping.

Meal prepping is something that almost everyone has heard of, but not enough people do (myself included). My preparing the majority of your meals and snacks at the beginning of the week you are setting yourself up to be successful.

We make sub-par food selections not because we’re intentionally trying to sabotage our success, but because those food choices are often the most convenient. By making healthy foods the most convenient, we’re setting ourselves up for success.

Sample Meal Prepping

I took the time last night to prep my meals for the rest of the week (Thursday-Sunday). I normally do my grocery shopping + meal prepping on Sundays but this past weekend I was out of town, which threw me off of my schedule. Fortunately my amazing husband cooked for us Monday & Tuesday but I knew that wasn’t going to last all week!

IMG_5648This week I prepped some of breakfast, lunch, and my snacks. I prefer cooking dinner each night instead of prepping it – cooking dinner is a time for me to decompress and I like having at least one fresh meal per day!

This week I prepared the following:

Breakfast (8AM): I sauteed zucchini and onions — normally I would saute peppers and onions, but when I cut into my pepper last night it was full of brown goo – ew! I had fresh zucchini on hand and figured that would do. I also diced up a tomato and put that in a container by itself.

With this prepped, all I have to do is scramble 2 eggs and pop a slice of rye in the toaster. I top my eggs with the pepper/onion mixture (heated up in the microwave) and diced tomatoes. Sometimes I’ll slice up avocado to go on top too. I am a savory breakfast eater so this combination really hits the spot and only takes about 5 minutes to whip up!

Snack 1 (10:30AM): I normally eat a banana around 10:30 – If I’m feeling really hungry I will put some peanut butter on it 🙂 This snack requires no real preparation!

Snack 2 (12:30PM): I workout at 1:30 every day, so I need some extra fuel pre-workout but I do not like to eat a full meal before hitting the gym. My pre-workout snacks vary every week, but this week I prepared a few small salads. Each salad has about 1 cup of mixed greens, 1 TBSP sliced almonds, 1 TBSP craisins, 1 TBSP feta cheese and 2 slices of DELI sliced turkey. I always get my deli meats from the meat counter because these varieties normally have a lot less sodium!

Lunch: This weeks lunches were EASY! I found frozen “steamer” bags at the grocery store that actually had nothing added to them. I always check the ingredients on the bag, because they often contain a ton of additives, but these steamers contained solely “brown rice, spinach” and “quinoa, kale”– I should have taken a picture of the bags to include in this post. I will remember to do that next time! I microwaved each bag and separated between the 4 containers (2 brown rice & spinach and 2 quinoa & kale). I then grilled a package of chicken tenderloins on the George Forman (which took all of 8 minutes!) and added the grilled chicken to the containers. I topped them all off with some extra zucchini and onions from my breakfast prep. Voila!

Snack 2: Larabars – It doesn’t get much more easy than that!

If you have any questions about meal prepping or would like to share come of your favorite meal prepping tips, feel free to leave them in the comments below!

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Ultimate Weekly Meal Planning Guide and Sample Grocery List

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 1.56.48 PMI recently posted a photo of the weekly meal planning chart and grocery list I use to facilitate my meal planning on my Instagram page and the response was overwhelming! I think I take for granted the fact that I create documents and graphics on the computer on a daily basis {for my day job} and that maybe not all women know how to pull something together.

After receiving multiple requests for copies, I decided it would be wise to create a small packet with all of the information neat and organized that you all can download directly from this blog. Sample copies of the documents are located below, and you can download them here: Weekly Meal Planner | Sample Grocery List | Blank Grocery List | Weekly Planning Packet




BBG Week 18 {Round 1} Reflection

1. What was your favorite workout/exercise this week and why?

I supposed I will say that BBG Week 18 LEGS was my favorite exercise this week as it’s the only one I was able to do! Ha! You may have noticed that I titled this post “BBG Week 18 Round One Reflection” – I hurt my back on Tuesday night (I believe I slept on it wrong or something?) and I haven’t really been able to work out since. This week I was able to do: Zumba (Monday), BBG Week 18 Legs (Tuesday), 45 Minutes LISS (Thursday) and 15 Minutes HIIT (Saturday). Definitely not a good week workout wise, so I will be repeating Week 18 this coming week so I can successfully complete every workout!

2. What or who has helped motivate you this week?

Fueling my body was my biggest motivation this week. I had let my eating slide over the last 4-6 weeks and I was finally able to get back on track with meal planning and preparation this past week. Even though I wasn’t able to workout, I made sure to eat clean and balanced and not skip any meals. Actually eating 3 meals plus snacks every day really helped me feel better physically and mentally.

3. What was your biggest challenge this week?

My biggest challenge this week was letting myself rest. I honestly pushed it by doing LISS on Thursday and probably stalled the healing of my back a little bit by being impatient. I think that I overtrained last week (doing BBG plus shadowing fitness classes at my gym) and I missed my rest day last Sunday, which I think played a big part in my back going out. I am so glad that I decided to take full rest days on Friday and Sunday. I am feeling much better now and ready to re-tackle Week 18 next week!

4. What positive change have you noticed about yourself this week (physical/psychological)?

The biggest change I noticed this week was psychological. Normally I would have freaked out about missing workouts and then given up and eaten like crap because I am too all-or-nothing that I would have spent my days eating M&Ms and cheese puffs | but instead I was at peace with it, kept my eating on track, and understood that taking breaks is all a part of the process. I actually felt leaner this week that I have in the past weeks and I’m so glad that I took a big step forward in cleaning up my diet.

5. What are you most proud of this week?

{See Above}

Packing Your Own Snacks

I mentioned this as a tip in my “Tips and Tricks” blog post and page, but I wanted to elaborate on one tip that I feel is incredibly important:

Don’t fall victim to a snack attack.

This is something that was hard for me to grasp in the beginning. I would think — “Oh, I’ll just stop and grab something healthy from the grocery store if I get hungry.” — WRONG. Something healthy from the grocery store ALWAYS turned into something not so healthy from Bojangles or Chick-fil-a. I will be the first to admit, I just flat out did not have the willpower.

Even if you think you have enough willpower, it’s worth being prepared. You also don’t want to let yourself get so hungry that you over-eat at your next meal.

I decided it could be helpful to pull together a list of some of the snacks that I often pack when I’m going to be out of the house for the day. I often keep these snacks in a bin in my pantry as well so I can easily grab something during the day. Some examples of purse-friendly snacks that I frequently carry with me include:

  • Apple, Banana, Orange — basically any fruit
  • Larabar
  • Quest Bar
  • Carrots + 2oz Plastic Ramekin of Hummus (Added a link to what I’m referring to – these should become your best friend. Perfect for portioning out hummus, peanut butter and salad dressings)
  • Almonds or other nuts (I also portion these out into the 2oz ramekins I mentioned above)
  • Small box of raisins
  • Rice Cakes — I’ll portion these out into Ziploc baggies. They don’t provide any real nutritional value, but are good to have on hand if you just want to munch on something.
  • Trail Mix

What are some easy grab and go snacks that you like to keep on hand?

BBG 2.0 Week 17 Reflection

1. What was your favorite workout/exercise this week and why?

My favorite workout this week was surprisingly ABS! Ab day is normally my least favorite, but for some reason this week I felt super energized, I was able to really feel my abs engage and work, and I pushed hard through the entire workout.

2. What or who has helped motivate you this week?

I was most motivated this week by results I received from a Body Composition Analysis and metabolic testing I had done at my fitness center. The results really helped me to set realistic weight loss expectations and understand how many calories I need to consume to lose weight based on my personal metabolic rate.

I found out that my body fat percentage is down to 20.9% (YAY!) This is considered “excellent” and my weight/mass is “ideal” for my height. Double YAY! I currently weigh 184 lbs (starting weight 203), and originally had a goal weight of 150. I haven’t been losing weight as rapidly over the last month and I was starting to get discouraged as I personally felt like I still needed to lose ~30 pounds. What I found out is that my lean body mass (0% body fat) is 145.9 — which helped me realize that my goal weight is 100% unrealistic. My lowest ideal weight given my muscle mass and height is 167.7 lbs — which led me to set a new, more realistic weight loss goal. New goal: 170 lbs.

The metabolic testing results showed that my resting metabolic rate is 1814 calories, so with an estimated 543 calories for daily activity and 188 calories of exercise, my total energy output per day is 2545 calories. At this rate, I need to eat anywhere from 1450-1814 to lose weight. Given that I burn more than the 188 calorie estimate their formula uses, I probably need to realistically eat 1600-1900. This was eye opening for me because I have HEARD and SEEN so many people say that you need to eat more to lose, but I never saw the cold hard numbers as they related specifically to me. From this point forward I will be able to eat what I need to eat without worrying that I’m eating “too much.”

3. What was your biggest challenge this week?

It was Week 17, so anyone at this point in the BBG series can probably guess what my biggest challenge this week was. Any guesses? Anyone? Well, I’ll give you a hint. It starts with “1000” and ends with “Challenge.” — Saturday afternoon I completed my second round of Kayla Itsines 1000 Rep Challenge. It was just as hard as the first time through, but I was able to significantly decrease my time. I was able to scrape 7:43 off of my original time, for a new time of 41:47. I had to go into the workout with a plan, because the first time I did it I felt like I was treading water and in an anxious state the entire time. This time, I broke the exercises into 4 “circuits” and set a timer for four 10-minute rounds to help pace myself. I ended up taking a little longer than my 40-minute goal, but that just gives me something more to work for the next time!

4. What positive change have you noticed about yourself this week (physical/psychological)?

My body image has changed completely this week. After learning that I am actually a lot more lean than I thought, I have been able to look at myself more positively. I have struggled my entire life with weighing more than my peers and getting the body composition analysis I had done was able to confirm for me that I actually DO have a lot of muscle mass.

5. What are you most proud of this week?

I am most proud of how well I pushed through all of my workouts this week. I normally have at least one workout where I really slack and just “get through it.” This week I was excited and energized and knocked out all of my workouts to the best of my ability. It’s not often that this happens, but it felt AMAZING.

Daily Eats: A Peek Into My Typical Diet

Main-ImageI have had a few requests on Instagram to share what a typical day of eating looks like for me. I was going to keep a food log yesterday and post with pictures, but I realized that looking at ONE day is not as beneficial as looking at a sequence of days or a combination of foods I frequently include in my diet.

In this post I will review was one “typical” day may look like, along with multiple substitutions. As a follow up to this post, I will be logging my food for the next week and creating a “Weekly Eats” post next weekend!

A Typical Day

On a typical day, I will eat 3 meals with 2-3 snacks.

Breakfast: 2 Scrambled Eggs | 2 TBSP Feta Cheese | 1 Slice Pumpernickel (Dark Rye) Bread | 1/4 Haas Avocado
Snack: Pecan Pie Larabar
Lunch: Spring Mix Lettuce, 2 Cups | 3oz Chicken Breast, Cubed | 3/4 Cup Quinoa Salad: Quinoa, Onion, Peppers, Spinach
Snack: Banana | 2 TBSP Peanut Butter
Dinner: 4-5oz Grilled Chicken Breast | 1/2 Cup Brown Rice | 1 Cup Steamed Broccoli
Snack: 1/2 Cup Arctic Zero Ice Cream with Strawberries

1600 Calories | 150g Carbs | 65g Fat | 100g Protein | 50g Sugar | 26g Fiber

Breakfast Substitutions

  • Breakfast2 Scrambled Eggs + Feta on 2 Slices of Dark Rye Bread
  • 2 Whole Grain Waffles Topped with Sliced Bananas, Strawberries & Blueberries.
  • 2 Egg Scramble with Sauteed Onion, Pepper, and Tomato with 1-2 TBSP Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Snack Substitutions

  • Snack2 Lightly Salted Rice Cakes with 1 TBSP Peanut Butter and 1/2 Banana Sliced
  • Sliced Apple with Peanut Butter
  • 12-15 Almonds
  • Sargento Light String Cheese Stick + Grapes
  • Carrots with 2oz Hummus
  • 1-2 Cups Popcorn (Air Popped, Lightly Salted)

Lunch Substitutions

  • Lunch1 5oz Salmon Patty over 2 Cups of Spring Mix Lettuce ; Dressed with Squeezed Lemon, Salt, Pepper
  • 2 Cups Spring Mix Lettuce, 4 oz Grilled Chicken Breast, 2 TBSP Feta Cheese, 1 TBSP Hummus (as dressing)
  • 2 Slices Dark Rye Toast, 1 TBSP Peanut Butter, 1/2 TBSP No-Sugar-Added Jam, Sliced Apples (Yes, this is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich)

Dinner Substitutions

  • Dinner4-5oz Grilled Pork Chop | Sweet Potato Mash w/ Cinnamon | Green Beans
  • Lettuce Wrap “Tacos” — Stuffed with pulled chicken, peppers, onions, diced tomatoes and shredded cheese.
  • Whole Grain Pasta | Shrimp | Red Peppers | Spinach | Fresh Squeezed Lemon | Parmesan Cheese