Ditch The Excuses

Ok guys, it’s time for some REAL talk. About you, your goals, and what’s getting between the two. I keep hearing these conversations lately and TBH I’m over it. It’s time to stop blaming other people and things for those extra pounds on the scale and skipped workouts. Truth is, keeping a fit and healthy routine takes some effort. On top of that, EVERYONE has obstacles and life gets hectic. Demanding jobs, small children, pregnancy, family issues, divorce, caring for someone sick…I’ve seen it all. But let’s face it people, what’s getting in the way of you living your healthiest life are the excuses you give yourself. You are responsible for what you do (and don’t do) each day. Quit blaming your long hours at the office for your lack of workouts. Quit blaming your partner and your menstrual cycle for your lack of motivation. Your injury and your children are NOT reasons to eat unhealthy food. The bottom line is that there are so many ways to work around the “stuff” in our lives. Below are a few examples of what people have said to me recently along with my tips for making better choices:

“One bad day leads to a whole bad month”

Everyone has those not-so-motivated days, we are HUMAN! But the goal is to avoid letting it become a habit. Forgive yourself, move on, and get a kick-ass workout in the next day. Just because you indulged yesterday, today is a new day to do things differently and get back on track. Even if an entire week passes with zero exercise and lots of bad food, you can take small steps to start over. Whether it’s packing daily lunches, a 30 minute workout, or eliminating alcohol during the week, you have to start again somewhere. You can make it happen.

“I have no time to cook.”

There are so many ways to prepare nutritious foods that can last you a few days. My best advice is using a Crock Pot. I make simple chicken breast which covers my lunches for three days. That way I can just throw together a quick salad when I’m home for lunch or I can pack it to go in the morning. Another HUGE tip I give my clients is to cook a LOT for dinner that way you have left over food. Also, cooking doesn’t have to be fancy or take tons of time. Simple dishes like eggs, vegetables baked with olive oil, grilled chicken, baked sweet potato, and oatmeal can be quick and easy. If you still feel like cooking is impossible for your lifestyle, there’s so many meal delivery services these days that can fit your needs. Resorting to daily take-out (or even worse, FAST FOOD!) can be extremely high in calories and can also take a toll on your wallet.

“My husband eats bad food around me late at night.”

This one gets me every time. Look, I’m not exactly saying to dump your significant other, but just because they don’t want to be healthy or look good naked doesn’t mean you shouldn’t! But if you struggle with self control, my biggest tip for this is to find some healthier options for the house. If your spouse has a sweet tooth, there’s so many non-dairy dessert bars with much better ingredients and lower sugar. My favorite chocolate bar is by Hu (can also be purchased at Whole Foods) and has no dairy or refined sugar. SO good. Eventually, you’ll be surprised how much your food choices can influence your partner and maybe they’ll be open to trying new things in the kitchen 😉.

“I’m so stressed out from work.”

Another V common one I hear, especially from my fellow twenty-somethings. Listen up! Nothing should come before your health. Period. I’m ALL about the hustle and have been working hard for many years. But working out is a major stress reliever so making time for it only makes perfect sense. FYI: stress is directly linked to a long list of health issues including heart disease and accelerated aging. So instead of skipping your workout and turning to wine and food after work to deal with stress, get moving! Turn on your favorite playlist and head to the gym or sign up for your favorite workout class that you’ll enjoy. Not only will it make you feel better, but your performance at work will most definitely improve.

“Workout classes and a personal trainers are expensive.”

True story, a good personal trainer IS expensive. Some classes can be pricey. But so are shoes and handbags (and obesity). I have trained many people who have minimized their spending in other areas (like shopping and eating out) so they can make their workouts a priority. At the end of the day, fitness is an investment you make for your health. And if you have Instagram, Facebook, or just access to the internet, there are so many free workouts you can find with a variety of levels that you can even do in your own home.

You owe yourself an hour out of your day to move and sweat. Make the time to grocery shop or meal prep because it’s good for you. Give yourself the love and attention you deserve. You’ll feel so damn good when you do.

Kale Quinoa Salad

The other day I had a 5 mile run planned and the thought of this salad was what got me to the finish line. Kale Quinoa Salad is one of my all time favorites. It’s hearty, tangy, and SO satisfying. I don’t typically eat quinoa for dinner since it’s higher in carbs, but since I had a late afternoon run this nutrient-packed salad was just what I needed for recovery.

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Ingredients:

  • Organic chopped kale

  • 3-4 oz salmon

  • 1/4 cup cooked quinoa

  • 1/2 avocado

  • 1/4 sumo orange (regular orange would work)

  • 1/2 cup steamed butternut squash cubes

  • 1 tbs honey

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 1/2 tbsp slices almonds

  • Pepper to taste

  • Parsley to garnish (optional)

Dressing:

  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar (more or less to taste)

  • Dollop of dijon mustard

Salmon:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.

  2. Place salmon on a large piece of foil on a baking pan.

  3. Pour 1 tbs olive oil, 1 tbs honey, and pepper over salmon.

  4. Fold sides of foil and wrap salmon so it’s fully covered.

  5. Bake for 20 minutes, then broil for 5.

Salad:

  1. Place kale in a large bowl (removing stems) with chopped orange slices, avocado, quinoa, steamed butternut squash, and sliced almonds.

  2. Pour in dressing and mix up the salad.

  3. Remove salmon from the oven, leaving the honey mixture in the foil. Garnish with parsley and place salmon on top of salad.

Enjoy!!

*I do not measure out kale or most greens. I like to eat as much green as I can!

**Foods like quinoa and butternut squash usually make way more than one serving, so I like to eat the rest over the next two days with other meals.

Knee Friendly Fitness

It’s been a little over five weeks since I tore my ACL and I can definitely say that it's been a humbling experience. My injury has not kept me from training clients and teaching my weekly barre classes. However, the real challenging part of this whole experience is having to drastically change my own workouts and knowing when to rest. Since running, barre workouts and group fitness classes are out of the question, I've had to find other ways to safely raise my heart rate. I’ve managed to work around my injury and still perform some killer upper body and core moves. Lately, I’ve been lifting heavier weights and using battle ropes for (seated) cardio. It’s so important to continue to move even when you’re faced with difficulties. Not only to stay healthy and in shape, but also for the mental health benefits of fitness! Each week I gain motivation and feel more prepared to tackle my surgery. Check out one of my workouts below.

Battle Ropes (3 sets total):

  • Alternating Waves – 45 seconds
  • Double Waves – 45 seconds
  • Russian Twist Slams – 45 seconds

Dumbbells (3 sets total):

  • Chest Press – 15
  • Seated Shoulder Press – 15
  • Overhead Triceps Extension – 15
  • Chest Fly (legs raised) – 15

Floor (3 sets total):

  • Triceps Dips - 15
  • Pushups - Close Triceps Position (pad for the knees) – 15
  • Weighted Sit-Ups - 15
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Follow my Instagram stories for daily clips of my diet, clients’ workouts and my pre-surgery workouts! 

Remembering CAF

September is a time of the year that forces me to pause and reflect more than usual. Today would be my brothers' 29th birthday. The ninth birthday I’ve spent without him. Truth is, no matter how much time passes I still miss him today just as much as I did in 2007. He was kindhearted, bright, compassionate and absolutely gorgeous. To know him was to love him. He had this special way about him that would light up a room and had an energy that was simply contagious. He made a positive impact on anyone lucky enough to have known him. Although our time together was cut way too short, we shared a special bond and I miss it every single day. Losing a loved one at a young age is hard, but I believe it has truly molded me into the person I am today. It’s something that you never imagine could or would happen to you. It’s hard think that in an instant your life could change forever. But because I had to learn this earlier on in life, I just feel things differently. It’s easier for me to clearly see what’s truly important and I’ve learned to never take things, my health or people for granted. After the accident, I became much more passionate about certain things in my life that mattered most. I’ll never forget stepping back into the dance studio just a few days after he died and the amount of joy that movement brought me even after my life had just fallen apart. It’s the moments like that that keep me going. Life is simply too short to not do what you love. The way I love fitness and wellness is how he loved sports, music and surfing. The relationships I have built in my personal and professional life have all been influenced by him in some way, even years after his death. Improving myself physically and mentally, letting go of grudges, going back to finish my education and crushing other personal goals have all been decisions in my life that were inspired by him. I can still hear his words of encouragement and I keep all of our memories close to my heart. His amazing spirit will live on forever.  

 

In loving memory of my sweet brother, Cesar A. Figueroa. 

Welcome, February!

Hard to believe we’re beginning the second month of 2016! January brought new goals, new beginnings and new challenges. Classes were full, private clients were re-focused and new clients were ready for a change. Overall, it was a great month and I felt tons of positive energy! For some, it was more of a "trial month". Maybe you fell off the wagon or maybe your diet wasn’t exactly as great as you hoped it would be. Good news: It’s the first of the month and it’s Monday! New week, new month, new goals… another chance to be great. Here are a few tips to help you stay on (or get back on) track:

1. Write it out

For me, making a list helps me to stay focused. Whether it’s a list of goals, groceries, to-do’s or a food log, it helps to keep me from getting overwhelmed during a busy week. Seeing things on paper helps to prioritize and it also keeps me accountable.

2. Get plenty of Z's

 I know it sounds like a no-brainer, but sleep is so important for your body and mind and often gets over-looked. If you know you’ve got a lot going on, be conscious of how many hours you're giving yourself to sleep at night. When it comes to working out, sleep is crucial for the body and repairing muscles. After a good night’s rest, you’re more prepared to take on the day (and your workout) with mental clarity. 

3. Cook extra!

Whether you’re into actual food prepping or not, cooking extra helps to keep your diet on track. Being prepared and having food that’s easily accessible is the key to eating healthy. One of my favorite kitchen staples is the Crock Pot. I like to put four to six chicken breasts in the Crock Pot so I have plenty of food for several meals. This morning before I left the house for my first appointment, I set my Crock Pot on low for five hours. Can’t go home for lunch? Set it up right before you go to bed and cook while you sleep. What I love most about cooking chicken this way is that it has the best left-over taste. Check out my go-to recipe below!

Crock Pot Mojo Chicken

 

What you need:

  • 4-6 chicken breasts  
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup mojo marinade
  • Peppers (optional)

What to do:

Combine chicken, broth, mojo, onions, garlic and peppers (I had left over bell peppers from the weekend so I threw them in, too!) and cook on low for five to six hours.