What I’m Eating This Week

What I’m Eating This Week

What I’m Eating This Week #1

Week 1

I thought I would try something new. Something to help you out if you are struggling with weight loss, or weight maintenance.

Each week I will be releasing my meal prep guide for the week ahead, including links to the recipes that I plan to use that week (where available).

For decades I have meal planned and prepped every Sunday, and I also coach my clients to do the same. When we are prepared, in the kitchen, we make healthier choices. It’s that simple.

You see, once our week starts the busy-ness and craziness takes over, and if we haven’t set ourselves up with some planning and prepping come 6′ o’clock we will be forced to follow our stomaches instead of our hearts.

And our stomaches, sadly, can get us into trouble (ie. take-out versus garlic chicken kale sauté).

I also love prepping on a Sunday because then I really only have one big mess to clean up, once a week.

In addition, it forces me (and it will force you too) to eat the healthy foods that I bought on Saturday and Sunday at the grocery store – because I have a recipe and a home for them.

What I’m Eating This Week – October 12 – 18, 2015

BREAKFAST

Monday & Tuesday Breakfast

  • Greek yogurt mixed with blueberries (I froze a bunch of boxes from the summer), mixed with Weeds & Seeds Cereal (freaking love this stuff, and locally you can buy it at Meridian Meats.)
  • I prep this the night before by simply mixing in a cup of frozen blueberries in a 3/4 C 0% Greek yogurt with 2Tbsp of Weeds & Seeds Cereal. Cover and put in the fridge. Yes, that was a cup of blueberries. I love blueberries. Don’t judge.

Wednesday – Sunday Breakfast

  • This morning I made a big batch of Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Steel Cut Oats and will bowl and re-heat through the week.
  • I also like to add a dollop of Greek yogurt on top of my pumpkin oatmeal. This makes it creamier and ups my protein.
  • Click here for the recipe.

Slow-Cooker-Pumpkin-Spice-Oatmeal

LUNCH

  • Southwest Kale Power Salad – Cookie + Kate
  • I eat the same thing lunch every week Monday – Thursday (Friday’s are my meeting days with peers, business contacts or my business coach, so I usually eat out) and prep it on Saturday or Sunday so it is ready to go for the week.

DINNER

Monday

  • Since this is the Thanksgiving long weekend for us Canadians, and loving husband and I will be eating pizza and pumpkin pie tonight (yup, that’s how we celebrate. – that and sitting on our butts all night and binge-watching StrikeBack. Addicted to that series.), I have a light, meat-free, low sodium dinner planned for us for Monday.
  • Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes for me, baked potatoe for loving husband (he won’t eat sweet potatoes, sigh), and a kale salad.
  • Recipe for my Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoe is an old Go Fit Gals recipe that my sister from another mister developed, Risse. So, I suggest that you go bug her nicely (click here to find her), and let her know that you would love to see the Twice Baked Sweet Potatoe recipe re-released. Tell her PJ sent ya.

Tuesday

  • Larry has volleyball Tuesday nights so it’s usually an easy grab and go meal.
  • This week he’s making dinner and will be making his favourite (and only) dish, Tuna Salad.
  • All you do is:
    • Mix 6 cans of tuna, 6 chopped hard boiled eggs with some mayo and relish. He LOVES this and eats tuna fish sandwiches, non-stop, for days whenever he makes this. I enjoy mine on Wasa Crisp bread and will have some of the leftover kale salad from the night before. He will have potatoe chips, sigh.

Wednesday

  • I work late on Wednesday nights, so Wednesday’s are all about whatever I have prepped either on the weekend, or made double batches of in the past and froze.
  • This week it’s Asian Peanut Noodles with Chicken, that I found in the freezer. I totally forgot that I had this prepped, so how excited was I to learn that I had one less meal to prepare today? Very. Excited.

Asian Peanut Noodles & Chicken - Skinnytaste
Asian Peanut Noodles & Chicken – Skinnytaste

Thursday

  • Baked salmon, with lemon juice and dill, accompanied with baked sweet potatoes (for me) and baby potatoes (for loving husband) and baked green beans. Wow, that’s a lot of “baked”, isn’t it? Haha.
  • Baked green beans is my newest obsession. They are so easy! Simply toss green beans with some olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper and bake for 20 minutes at 425 degree. Yup, they are that easy.
  • Green beans are also one of the few green vegetables loving (picky) husband will eat.

Friday

Grilled Steak Fajitas - Two Peas and their Pod
Grilled Steak Fajitas – Two Peas and their Pod

Saturday

  • Date night! Out for dinner.

Sunday

  • Sunday’s I leave loosey-goosey. You see if it’s not raining (and I can convince loving husband), we go hiking. This means that I need to get a slow cooker meal going because we won’t get home till late.
  • However, if we don’t go hiking then I check the food blogs on the ol’ web and pick a recipe and double batch it so I have a meal in the freezer for the future.
  • Yes, I double batch new recipes. I know this is risky, since I don’t even know if the recipe is good, but I love trying new recipes and I have really had only one dud in all the years that I have been doing this.

 

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How To Bounce Back From Failure

How To Bounce Back From Failure

Stopped Working Out? How To Bounce Back.

Having been a trainer for over two decades now (wow, I’m getting old. When the hell did that happen?!), I know there are a lot of people who have a hard time getting fit and losing weight.

In my 20-plus years of being “in the trenches,” I have found that most people can find the energy and enthusiasm to start a fitness plan, or a new eating plan. We make a commitment to ourselves and we start.

No problem.

Where the challenge lies is in staying committed to those goals on an ongoing basis.

I’m Starting… Next Year

Think about how many times you have triumphantly told yourself that “today is going to be the day!”, only to have that same enthusiasm wane as the days pass.

Or, how many of you have promised yourself, “I will start on Monday,” only to have Friday come and everything we promised ourselves, and were kicking ass doing on Monday and Tuesday, is slowly starting to fall to the “not so important anymore” category in our daily lives.

All these broken promises to ourselves can leave us feeling resentful, frustrated and angry with ourselves.

We wonder, why we can’t do this? What’s wrong with me? Will I ever succeed? Ha, trust me, there nothing is wrong with you.

You are human and we ALL fall and slip with our health goals. I even fall prey to this. There are some weekends where pizza, cookies and rum dominate my Saturday and Sunday nights and then Monday comes for me too.

How To Bounce Back 

Now, first off I want you to know that making poor choices with your health, when you promised yourself that you wouldn’t, is not failure. Failure is9, not even recognizing that you need to change your lifestyle.

Ignorance is the biggest indicator to failure.

Whereas admitting that you need to change some (or a lot) of things in your life to feel better, and then falling on your face every so often, is completely, utterly human.

So, what can you do next time you fall off the wagon? You have three choices. You can:

A) Crawl back into bed and throw the covers over your head,

B) Yell and scream and blame everyone else for your slip up

C) Dust yourself off and bounce back

While A can be tempting, and B we may do at times, it’s C that’s the clear winner – dusting ourselves off and bouncing back is the only way to bounce back from disaster and failure.

5 Steps to Bouncing Back

To successfully pick ourselves up takes:

  • Strength from within
  • Support from those around you
  • Responsibility on your part
  • An ability to embrace challenge and change
  • A never-stop-bouncing back attitude

First, strength within happens through self-love. You have to convince yourself that you are worth it, that even if you are starting over again you are still way farther ahead than you would be if you didn’t.

You need to remind yourself that you are making better choices in your life – for your life.

To help accomplish this new love affair with yourself you may need to reframe your thinking. Instead of thinking of exercise as a form of punishment, think of it as a choice you are making because you love your body. Sounds corny eh? But, it works.

Case in point, would you rather do a workout if someone said to you “This is going to hurt like a motha and leave you crippled for days”.

Or, “You are going to feel amazing after this”. Person A would get a punch in the throat, I am positive.

Yet, this is how we talk to ourselves all the time. We either guilt ourselves into doing something, or we take the most negative aspect of it and focus on that.

Your grey matter can play a huge roll on whether or not you put those runners on.

Bounce-back

Second, lean on those around you. Don’t feel like a burden; get help from your family, your social circle and even social media. The more people that know you need help staying on track, the more people can help. And, who knows, maybe one day they may need your help too.

Third, take responsibility for your actions. This is a tough one. It can be a hard pill to swallow, but recognize that you are completely and utterly in control of your actions.

No one is stopping you from exercise (example, you are the one creating the “I am too busy…too tired… too unmotivated…too sore…too old…” excuses that stop you from getting those runners on), and no one is stuffing bad choices down your throat in the form of burgers and beer.

Take responsibility, learn from your mistakes, bounce back up and move on.

Finally, it’s important to embrace the challenges and the inevitable adjustment that has to happen to change the direction of your health.

Don’t put up stop signs (such as “I’m too busy… too tired… too unmotivated…too sore… too old…”). If you want to make a change, start – and then get the hell out of your way and let the changes happen.

Work on those little grasshopper, and then you will find that you can bounce back, come back and live through anything.

 

TIRED OF TRYING TO FIGURE WHAT WORKOUTS YOU
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PJ ox

The Beginner’s Guide to Strength Training

The Beginner’s Guide to Strength Training

The Beginner’s Guide to Strength Training

There are many different goals that people tell me they want their fitness programs to achieve. However, the one goal that is most often cited is increased muscle tone and strength.

And, as a strength training coach and trainer I love to hear that, especially from my over-40 crowd.

After the age of 40 our strength begins to decline (they call this atrophy), and continues on that downward spiral to hell 8 to 10 percent, per decade, thereafter (Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging).

Now, this decline in strength not only affects our ability to move and our strength in general, it also has serious consequences on our metabolism.

Our metabolisms are what dictates how many calories we burn throughout the day. A higher metabolism, the more calories we will burn. The more calories burned, the better our chances are for a slimmer, trimmer body.

How do you keep your metabolism running as quick and agile as a bunny?

You can start by holding onto those muscles that are slowly disintegrating with each passing year.

The more muscle you have, the more calories your body needs to support that muscle (a pound of muscle at rest burns about 6 calories, while a pound of fat burns about 2).

You see, it requires more calories for the body to keep a pound of muscle warm (because the body loves staying in a homeostasis state of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit), than it does a pound of fat.

Intense strength training can also increase your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) and your EPOC (Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption). Both of which can lead to some serious calorie burning.

In fact, fat loss studies have proven that high intensity strength training can burn fat faster than traditional aerobic exercise. So, say good bye to running and hello to the bench press if you are looking to lose weight.

Beginner's-Guide-Strength-Training

What else can strength training do for me?

Strength training is the only means of fighting that age-related business of muscles wasting away (atrophying).

In addition, strength training: increases bone strength, decreases resting blood pressure and lowers individuals’ risk for type 2 diabetes.

And, as mentioned above it is also a champion when it comes to burning fat.

As a beginner how often should I lift weights?

Every day and twice on Sundays.

Just joking. If you are just starting to lift weights you are in a fantastic place. Beginner’s ALWAYS see gains, and quickly. It’s because the moves and exercises are a new stimulus to you and your body is going to respond in a positive and happy way!

I recommend, to all new exercisers, a twice a week strength training routine, working all the major muscle groups of the body, with at least a day’s rest in-between lift days.

From there, as you get stronger and more accustomed to strength training, progress to 3-4 times a week.

This change in frequency will usually have to happen by month three, as you start to plateau. However, a simple tweak to your intensity and how often you lift will get you over that hump so that you can continue to see change and growth.

Is it safe to strength train at any age?

You betcha! Strength training will help improve balance, (therefore decreasing the risk of falling), sustain a longer independence in life and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

In a recent study, researchers found that walking by itself was not enough of an overload to stimulate bone-building cells. Weight training and impact-type exercises were found to be more advantageous.

Try this Beginner’s Strength Workout 

Strength-training-older-adults

How many reps should I do?

There are two primary types of muscle fibres: slow twitch and fast twitch.

Slow twitch muscle fibres move more slowly and have more mitochondria (structures located within the muscle cell that contain enzymes needed to metabolize food into energy sources). This means that they have a higher aerobic capacity and are less resistant to fatigue.

On the other hand, fast twitch muscle fibres are characterized by their fast speed of contraction but lower level of aerobic capacity. Since we carry both sets of fibres, I always recommend periodizing a strength program of:

  • 4-8 weeks of high reps (1-3 sets of 13-20 repetitions) at a light load. This should address the slow twitch muscle fibres.
  • Then, for the next 4-8 week period, switch your program to a heavier load of 8-12 reps for 1-4 sets. This type of programming should avoid exercise plateaus and address both types of muscle fibres.

Are machines better than dumbbells?

Machines. Suck. Period. All right, I’ll be a little generous; they are kind of good for beginners and those coming back to the gym after an injury.

This is because they support the individual and help dictate the plane of motion to lift in. However, that’s precisely why I hate them too.

We should be learning to support our own bodies and move through our own range of motion, and not that of a machine. I prefer dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, tubing, TRX, cable machines, pulley systems, stability balls, the BOSU, the Rip Trainer, medicine balls and wobble boards.

Try this TRX & Dumbbell Workout.

Suggested workouts for beginners:

 

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10 Best Oatmeal Recipes

10 Best Oatmeal Recipes

10 Best Oatmeal Recipes

I love oatmeal. I have been known to eat for breakfast (not unusual, I know), for lunch and again for dinner (now getting weird).

While some people order eggs benny while brunching with friends at a restaurant, I will ask for a big ol’ bowl of oatmeal, brown sugar on the side please.

Why am I Team Oatmeal?

Well, first off let’s start with the fibre content. One bowl has about 4 grams per serving, and we should be aiming for 25-30 grams a day.

It is a slow-releasing complex carbohydrate, leaving you fuller for longer – and with the fuel to take you through your morning and last you until lunch.

Oatmeal contains important vitamins and minerals such as iron, thiamine, folic acid, vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, and zinc.

A bowl of oatmeal for breakfast will also help re-stabilize your blood-sugar levels, giving you the energy needed to tackle your busy mornings and help you manage your weight.

Not all oatmeals are created equal, though. The pre-packaged, instant oatmeal packets are filled with sugar and unnecessary chemicals and additives that we just don’t need first thing in the morning.

Don’t be fooled, even the weight-controlled instant oatmeal isn’t that healthy for you.

If time and convenience are the reasons you reach for those handy little packets in the early hours, then allow me to show you how you can make a healthier, cleaner version in just under five minutes – using ingredients that you most likely already have in the cupboard!

best-oatmeal-recipes-Fitness-with-PJ

Steel-Cut Oatmeal Base

I, personally, prefer steel-cut oats because they have a higher protein and fibre count than rolled and quick cooking oats. This recipe I make on a Sunday and it provides me with 4 servings of oatmeal which I then refrigerate and re-heat during the busy work week.

Recipe #1 – the base

1 cup steel-cut oats (I love “Bob’s Red Mill Steel-Cut Oats”)
3-1/2 cups water
dash of unrefined sea salt

Bring water and sea salt to a boil, add oats and gently boil on low heat with the lid on for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take off the burner and add the following:

3 tbsp ground flax seed (or you can use bee pollen, salba seed, chia seed, hemp protein)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2-1 tbsp tbsp cinnamon (adjust according to your taste)

Mix the above in with the oatmeal and let it sit until thick and then place in a container and put in the fridge.

This will keep for up to 5-6 days. In the mornings simply spoon a serving into a microwaveable dish (remember, your container is now holding four servings, so simply cut the oatmeal in fours so that you get the appropriate serving amount) and microwave for 1:00.

Add milk, or almond milk until your oatmeal is at the consistency that you like and then put it back in the microwave for another minute. From there you can add any of the following to make your oatmeal even healthier AND tastier:

  • Recipe #2 Apple Walnut Oatmeal
    • 1 tbsp chopped walnuts
    • 1/2 diced apple (it’s even better if you microwave the chopped apple in some cinnamon and stevia for 1-2 minutes to soften it)
    • sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on top
  • Recipe #3 Banana Bread Oatmeal
    • 1 tbsp chopped walnuts
    • 2 chopped dates, or 1 tbsp raisins
    • half of a banana, sliced on top
  • Recipe #4 Blueberry Strawberry Oatmeal Dream
    • 1/2 c fresh or frozen blueberries & 1/2 c sliced strawberries
    • Slivered almonds on top (if you have time, toasted almonds is really good in this)
  • Recipe #5 Cherry Vanilla Oatmeal
    • 2 tbsp dried cherries
    • 1 tbsp sugar-free cherry jam
  • Recipe #6 Cranberry Oatmeal
    • 2 tbsp dried or fresh cranberries
    • 1 tbsp walnut pieces
    • a drizzle of honey on the top
    • 1 tbsp sliced almonds
  • Recipe #7 Super Duper Oatmeal
    • 1/2 c blueberries (fresh or frozen)
    • 1 single serving, sugar-free apple sauce container
    • A sprinkle of cinnamon on top
  • Recipe #8 Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
    • a dash of nutmeg
    • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, or if you have it in the cupboard, 3 tbsp canned pumpkin pie filling
    • 1 tbsp sliced almond (if you have time, toast the almonds – yummy!)
  • Recipe #9 Yogurt Oatmeal (boost the protein and calcium of your oatmeal with these additions)
    • add a 1/4 – 1/2 cup of plain Greek yogurt
  • Recipe #10 Peachy Keen Oatmeal 
    • add some sliced peaches (drained) and sprinkle the top with a bit of nutmeg

 

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Healthy Lunches for You and Your Loved Ones

Healthy Lunches for You and Your Loved Ones

Healthy Lunch Ideas

Whether you have kids that have just headed back to school or you are tired of eating out at the office, brown bagging it is not only cost-effective, it is also a way to control your calories (if you’re trying to lose weight), eat healthier and take charge of what your kids eat during the day.

Healthy Lunches for the whole family

4 Tips to Healthier Lunches for the Whole Family

1) Include more whole foods and less processed foods. Choose lunch items that are high in fibre and nutrients, and low in sodium and sugar.

Take, for example, deli meats. Most deli meats are pumped full of sodium and nitrates. While sodium nitrite does help prevent the growth of Clostridium botulinum, which can cause botulism in humans, it is also used alone or in conjunction as a colour fixative in cured meat and poultry products (bologna, hot dogs, bacon).

During the cooking process, nitrites combine with amines naturally present in meat to form carcinogenic compounds.

It is also suspected that nitrites can combine with amines in the human stomach to form N-nitroso compounds. These compounds are known carcinogens and have been associated with cancer of the oral cavity, urinary bladder, esophagus, stomach and brain.

Research in Sweden found that Swedes who ate on average three ounces of processed meat each day had a 15 percent greater chance of developing stomach cancer than those who consumed two ounces or less.

Opt instead for nitrate-free deli meats (ask your deli counter person to point out which brands are nitrate-free AND low in sodium), or better yet, roast a whole chicken or roast beef on Sunday and use that meat throughout the week for sandwiches, wraps and to toss into salads.

2) Be creative.  Your kids will appreciate it if you think outside the brown-bag for their lunches, and if you’re packing for yourself, so will you.

I mean, do you really want another boring old sandwich to look forward to at lunch?

Instead, why don’t you try a fruit and cheese plate, or a pita pocket stuffed with falafel balls and some hummus? Or, how about using last night’s pasta and pack a cold pasta salad with chopped chicken.

Then there’s always bean and cheese tortillas, sushi, homemade soup (or try a low-sodium brand such as “Amy’s”, “Imagine” or “Wolfgang Puck”), or my favourite quick lunch meal of almond butter, topped with no-sugar added jam on Squirrelly bread with some raisins sprinkled on top.

3) Plan ahead. Use Sunday to plan your meals for the week and shop and buy all the groceries that you need so that you have everything on hand when you need them.

I plan all our lunches and dinners on the weekend and prepare as much as I can to give me a head start for the week. For instance, plan to make a stir-fry on Monday night and then use the leftovers in a wrap the next day.

Or, make a large salad that will carry you for the week and just add different toppings and dressings throughout the week to give you a variety of different tastes.

4) Don’t actually use a brown bag.  I know I keep referencing a brown bag, but they rip easily and won’t keep your hot foods warm and your cold foods cool.

Invest in a lunch box with insulation and with different compartments so that foods and beverages can be kept separately.

Also, purchase some small plastic containers (avoiding containers with the numbers 3 or 7 on the bottom – these have been proven to leach chemicals into our foods – yuck!), or glass containers to store each item and a freezer pack to keep the cold foods cold. This will keep your foods both fresh AND safe for lunchtime consumption.

5-Day Sample Menu of Lunches for the Whole Family

*All meals are less than 500 calories

Monday 3oz thinly sliced low-sodium nitrate-free turkey breast on 3 Wasa High-Fibre breads, a lg carrot stick & a ½ red bell pepper sliced & dipped in a ¼ c of hummus. ¾ c of 0% Vanilla Greek yogurt for dessert.
Tuesday Tuna salad sandwich: 3oz of tuna mixed with ½ c 0% fat Greek yogurt, (1) chopped hard boiled egg, 1 tbsp green relish, spread on a whole-wheat tortilla shell (such as “Weight Watcher’s” Whole Grain Wrap) and whatever veggies you want to add. 1 c blueberries for dessert. (if you prefer lower calories & 0 carbs wrap the tuna in butter lettuce instead of a wrap.
Wednesday 2c lentil soup (such as “Imagine” or “Amy’s” brand) & carrot & celery sticks & an apple dipped in 1tbsp of almond butter for dessert
Thursday Baked sweet potatoe with 0% Greek yogurt & a sprinkle of cinnamon & a side spinach salad. Chocolate Coconut “Lara” bar for dessert
Friday Pizza roll-ups: take 1-8” whole wheat tortilla shell, spread with 2 tbsp low sodium pizza sauce, 12 spinach leaves & 3 tbsp partly skin mozza cheese (note: you can also add veggies too). Roll & cut tortilla into 6 pieces. Caesar salad tossed in a home made dressing (I use 0% Greek yogurt for my Caesar dressing) & instead of croutons (which are filled with fat & preservatives) try roasted chickpeas, hemp hearts, or salad crunchies (a mixed nut blend you can buy at most grocery stores).

 

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How Bad Is Movie Popcorn?

How Bad Is Movie Popcorn?

How Bad is Movie Popcorn

Headed to go see one of the latest summer blockbusters? If so, stay away from the concession stand.

Not only are the “snacks” sold at the movie theatre unhealthy, some of them are the equal in calories of what a family of four should be eating for one meal and in fat for a whole day! And all at an 85% mark-up (mooneyland.time.com). Ouch.

how-bad-is-movie-popcorn

Here’s what you are getting yourself into if you order a movie’s most popular snack, popcorn:

Small Popcorn (9 cups)
480 calories
2 g of artery-clogging saturated fat
230 mg of sodium
134 minutes of walking to burn it off

Order the above with extra butter:

670 calories
15 g of saturated fat (3 grams over your recommended daily intake)
186 minutes of walking to burn it off

Regular Popcorn (14 cups)
780 calories
3 g of artery-clogging saturated fat
370 mg of sodium
217 minutes of walking to burn it off

Order the above with extra butter:

1,030 calories
20 g of saturated fat (almost a 100% over your recommended daily intake)
287 minutes of walking to burn it off

Large Popcorn (20 cups)
1,120 calories
5 g of artery-clogging saturated fat
530 mg of sodium (one-quarter of your recommended daily intake of sodium)
312 minutes of walking to burn it off

Order the above with extra butter:
1,440  calories (recommended daily caloric intake for a healthy female)
27 g of saturated fat (2.5 days of your recommended daily intake – in one sitting)
401 minutes of walking to burn it off

My suggestions:

  • Smuggle in your own snacks such as: Lara Bars, homemade trail mix, popcorn you made at home, fruit, water bottles. Preferably foods that you made, so not subbing in crap with more crap – you know what I mean?
  • Don’t buy the snacks. Just don’t buy the shit to begin with.
  • Drink herbal tea. Most of the time it’s boredom (and habit) that makes us snack when we watch a movie. So, replace that with a herbal tea. Sip away and walk out of the theatre less bloated than ever 🙂
  • Eat a balanced meal beforehand. Simple enough. Eliminate the need to snack by having a healthy meal before the movie. Go out for dinner, or have a nice meal at home beforehand.
  • If you crave something sweet, bring a dark chocolate bar with you. I get it, you like to munch while you watch.

 

TIRED OF TRYING TO FIGURE WHAT WORKOUTS YOU
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PJ ox

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