Fit Hungry Mama

One mama's journey of finding balance with food, fitness, family, and fun

How to Get Healthy On a Budget

Getting fit while on a tight budget isn’t as hard as it sounds. Here are some money-saving tips that will turn you into a calorie burning machine!

NUTRITION:

You can eat healthy without blowing your budget. All it takes is a little planning, creativity, and common sense.

1. Eat at home! Not only does it save on overall spending, you get to control your portion sizes and the ingredients involved in the meals! Knowing what goes into your meals will make you a more conscious eater.

2. Plan home-cooked meals around sales ads. Most sales ads come out on Sundays, so make time to browse the grocery flyers each week. Focus on the fresh meats, fresh produce, grains, and dairy sections and search for recipes involving those items! If you have a deep freezer or second refrigerator, stock up on meats that you can freeze for later, frozen produce, and dairy items.  For even more grocery savings, combine coupons with sales items.  This is especially good for dry goods like cereals, pastas, dairy, and frozen goods. Just be sure to only clip coupons for nutritious items!

3. Shop the perimeter of the store to get the most health for your money! Lots of good deals can be found here. Most produce is high in fiber, which will keep you fuller longer than the empty  highly processed carbs found in most of the aisles of the store.  The dairy section has lots of healthy low cost choices to choose from – eggs, egg whites, deli cheese (stay away from the cellophane wrapped junk). Greek yogurt, which has twice the protein than regular yogurt,  has become very popular and one of the several brands available is usually on sale each week. The meat section has plenty of sale items to choose from each week. Focus on skinless chicken, turkey breast, ground poultry, lean cuts of pork, and fish.

4. If possible, buy generic. Generic goods are often processed at the same plants as name-brand goods. In other words, most of the time you’re just paying for the product’s fancy label. If you prefer organic or natural products, see if your store has a special brand name for organic/natural products.

5. Drink more water!  An easy way to save money is to add more water to your daily diet. Don’t bother with pre-packaged bottled water. Instead, buy a water filter for the home (like a Brita pitcher or one you can attach to your kitchen sink faucet). It may be expensive at first, but in the long run this investment will save you a lot of money. Another money saving idea is to cut back or cut out sodas. Soda has no nutrient value, which means it is a waste of your money.

EXERCISE:

Don’t think you can get fit without a gym membership or expensive workout dvds? Think again! Some of the best exercise you can get is FREE!!

1. Go outside and get active! Play with your kids, go on walks, runs, hikes, and bike rides. Call up some friends and play some sports together.

2. Take advantage of your neighborhood amenities. If you live in a HOA neighborhood or  an apartment/condo complex, you most likely have access to a free gym, pool, and other resident-only amenities. Make the most of your HOA fees and monthly rent payments!

3. One of the best pieces of exercise equipment is the human body. Do a web search for “equipment free” exercises and you’ll be surprised with how many moves you can do just with your body. All you need is a little floor space!

4. Use typical household items as workout equipment! Stairs are great for leg  exercises, pushups and planks, and cardio work. Tables and chairs make great support for tricep dips, weight lifting, push ups/planks, and leg work. Walls are great for beginner push ups and wall squats. Gallon jugs, canned goods, and water bottles make great weights for strength training. The possibilities are almost endless!

5. Try before you buy (workout dvds). Go to your local library for free fitness dvd rentals. If you have a Netflix (or similar) membership, see if they offer workout videos. Look online for exercise demos.  Or start a dvd borrowing system with your friends!

EXTRAS:

If your finances allow it, here are some inexpensive items worth investing in:

a) food scale – to properly measure out serving sizes/ingredients listed in ounces. This is really helpful when measuring out calorie dense foods like cheese, nuts, chocolate chips, and potato chips as well as dry pasta and meats.

b) water bottle/jug – to encourage you to drink more water

c) adjustable free weights set, several sizes of dumbbells, resistance bands – for at home weight training routines

d) jump rope – great for cardio in small spaces

e) exercise/yoga mat  – for stretching or exercises done on the floor

f) measuring tape – to measure key areas for inches lost

g) body fat analyzer – to track fat loss and muscle growth (I recommend Omron)

h) pedometer – to track your steps

i) heart rate monitor – to make sure you reaching your ideal heart rate during cardio

j) notebooks – one to track inches lost, body fat percent changes, and weight; one for exercise routines, especially if your  goals are to improve cardio endurance and/or muscle strength; one used as a food and emotion diary so you can keep track of what foods make you perform and feel your best and the emotions associated with your journey.

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Happy New Year!

I’m finally back to blogging. This holiday season was rough in many ways and I’m relieved it’s all over.

Sorry I haven’t said much lately. As a stay-at-home mom of two young boys, I try to limit my computer time when they are around. My oldest son has been home from pre-K since mid-December, so we’ve been busy spending lots of quality time together.

As for me, I have done pretty good with exercise. Proper food intake has been an issue though. The winter months are always hard on me so I relied on comforting foods to help me through. Less sunshine, cold temperatures, financial stress of buying presents, and dealing with emotions associated with holidays (I lost my mom at 14 years of age and miss her A LOT this time of year).

Anyway, I’ve been back on track with proper food portions for a few days now and am feeling better. All I have to do now is get through my son’s 5th birthday without over-indulging on his birthday menu. I let him pick out all his meals for his special day.  He has requested Dunkin Donuts for breakfast (I will be getting one of their breakfast sandwich and  a plain coffee), a sandwich for lunch (I will probably make a salad with protein), and fried chicken for dinner (I’ll have a breast with skin removed). The hardest part will be the birthday cake. I ordered one from Publix (grocery store), who makes really good buttercream icing for their cakes!

I don’t have any specific goals set this year, but I do know that I want to improve my cardio endurance, improve my overall strength, tighten my core, continue decreasing my body fat percent, increase my water intake, and blog on a very regular basis.

To reach my fitness goals, I will continue my 3x/week strength training at the gym and resume my at-home workouts on Monday when my eldest son returns to school. Thankfully, there wont be as many holiday breaks this semester so I’ll be getting in a lot of exercise at home during the week for the rest of the school year.  These at-home workouts will take place during my youngest son’s naps.

As for food, I will be limiting grains and alcohol as well as increase my intake of raw/steamed/sautéed veggies and fresh fruits,  lean proteins, and MUFAs.  I will enter my foods into my Bodymedia armband program to make sure I’m getting enough protein for muscle growth, healthy carbs for energy, and healthy fats for a healthy heart.

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How to Survive the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The holiday season is officially here.  By now, the office and school parties have started. In fact, later this morning, I will be attending my son’s pre-K Thanksgiving feast. I have no idea what will be served, but I am prepared for whatever comes my way!

With that said, here are a few of my favorite tips on how to handle all those big social outings and family gatherings you have to attend each holiday season:

  • Increase your physical activity.  If you plan on indulging, move more to increase your overall calorie burn.  Adding an extra day or two of exercise to your current routine or doing an extra 10-20 minutes of cardio per day will increase your metabolic rate.
  • Eat BEFORE you go.  Make sure to eat a healthy and balanced breakfast.  This will rev up your metabolism and help you stay on track with the rest of your food choices for the day.  If you’re very easily tempted by calorie laden foods (I don’t know anyone who isn’t!), eat a healthy snack/meal such as a vegetable salad topped with a  homemade vinaigrette like olive oil + red wine vinegar + seasonings; a bowl of broth-based vegetable soup;  a cup of fresh fruit; a cup of plain Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup fresh fruit mixed in; an ounce of raw almonds. The point is not to show up at the event starving! Intense hunger often leads to poor food choices and overeating.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Drink a lot of water on the day and/or the night before the big event.  Many people overeat because they are confusing their thirsty cues for hungry cues. If you stay well hydrated, you will feel less hungry.  Plus, the hydration will prepare your body for all those sodium laden foods as well as minimize dehydration from alcohol consumption.
  • If you like wine, stick to Champagne (78 calories for a 4oz serving); Chardonnay, Zinfandel or Riesling (90 calories per 4oz serving); Merlot or Rose(95 calories per 4oz serving). Or turn the richer wines into a wine spritzer.  If you like hard liquor be aware that 1 oz is roughly 60-75 calories, depending on which one you choose. Avoid mixing them with full calorie sodas, eggnog,  juices, and frozen drinks.
  •  Bring a healthy dish! If you’re required to bring a food item to a gathering, bring something healthy so that you have at least one nutritious food to enjoy guilt-free.
  • Serve yourself. Let YOU be in control of what you get to eat. Do not let someone portion it out for you.
  • Avoid dips and sauces! Most foods taste just fine without those high fat accessories.
  • Fill up on fruits and vegetables! Get a plate and fill half of it with raw produce and steamed veggies. Then fill a quarter of the plate with a serving of lean protein.  The remaining quarter of the plate can be filled with a tablespoon or two of your absolute favorite, but not so healthy, sides. The goal is to satisfy your taste buds with a few bites of naughty good stuff.
  • Save the rolls and stuffing for last. These items are very light in volume and rich in calories, which means it will take a high quantity of them in order for you to feel full. If you save them for the end of your meal, you’re least likely to overeat on them.
  • Only eat the foods you truly enjoy. If you discover that you don’t like something, stop eating it to avoid needless calorie intake.  Do not feel like you need to eat it to spare someone’s feelings. Your health is your priority, not their feelings.
  • Savor each sip and bite! Party and holiday foods are sinfully delicious, so slow down and enjoy all the flavors and textures thoroughly.
  • Do not go back for seconds. Yes, this is a hard one! But if you set a rule to stick to one plate, think about how proud of yourself you will be!
  • Just say NO! If someone tries to offer you more food, it is ok to say no. Let them know that everything was delicious and you aren’t able to eat another bite!
  • If multiple desserts are present, put a couple of bites worth of all your favorites (or one small serving of one dessert) on a small plate. Once that dessert plate is empty, you’re done.  If your sweet tooth is still aching, try eating a peppermint  or chewing some low-calorie gum. Drinking water will also help too as it will cleanse the mouth of the sweetness and make you feel full.
  • Do not hover!  Avoid socializing near the buffet table, kitchen, or bartender or you will do lots of needless snacking and drinking. Encourage folks to chat in areas away from those temptations. Also try talking while standing up, since that burns more calories than sitting down.
  • If music is playing, dance! Dancing is a great way to sneak in some exercise. If you can’t find any adults to dance with you, gather up the kids at the party and invent new dance moves together.
  • If you’re hosting a party, plan some fun activities not centered around food.  Things like party games, dance contests, and karaoke or outdoor activities like flag football or snowball fights will all burn calories as well as create happy memories that loved ones will remember forever.
  • Focus on the true meaning of these gatherings.  Sadly, we spend way too much emphasis on food preparation and consumption instead of enjoying the company of their friends and loved ones.  Spend time catching up with them, hugging them,  and taking a lot of photos together.  The feast should be a compliment to the gathering, not the main event!
  • On the day after, get back on track with your normal healthy habits of daily exercise, proper calorie consumption, and adequate water intake.

Following these tips will help you maintain your current weight during the holidays.   And hey, if you’re extra diligent, you might even see some weight come off!!

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Playing Catch up!

Wow, I have neglected this blog. Bad, FHM, bad!!!

Life has been pretty crazy since my last post. Long story short, we’ve been dealing with family illnesses and injuries, welcoming babies to the world (not me!), and working through some personal issues. We’ve made progress on every thing, so all we have to do now is make it through this frigid cold feast-filled holiday season!

I can not believe 2012 is almost over. 2013 will be here in 7 weeks. SEVEN WEEKS!! Its been a while since I’ve made a new years resolution and stuck to it, but I am going to be bold and make one for the upcoming year. It’s a simple resolution…and it is to write a post on here at a bare minimum of once per week! This means I will be making this blog a priority because it is something I need for my mental health. I also promise to be more open. This means I might not always be cheerful or optimistic. This is ok because I am a real person with real feelings. Hiding behind a smile won’t help me feel better, but writing my feelings down will definitely speed up the healing process!

Anyway, as well as sharing more of myself on here, I will continue to post healthy recipes. I will also start posting more about my exercise routines, both at home and at the gym. This will help me document my progression as well as hopefully inspire readers to join in on the fun!

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Exercise Challenge

Hello!

Things have been crazy busy since my last post. I’ve been fairly active on my FB page and Pinterest, but I need to get better at logging in on here regularly!

What have I been up to? Well, I am finally over a severe head cold that I have battled for two weeks. What a relief because I was so sick and tired of being sick and tired and coughing my brains out! Plus, it was interfering with my exercise program and totally screwed up my desire to eat healthy. I’ve put on a few pounds in a short amount of time, so its time to start counting calories again. I’ve decided to drop my daily intake down by 300 calories to see if that helps jump start the fat loss. As luck would have it, I received an email about a weight loss challenge. It was a sign! So, I started it today!

I am doing the Everyday Health 8 Week Slim Down Challenge. The routines start off as daily 30 minute workouts – cardio, yoga/Pilates, and their workout videos. As you progress, more time and intensity is added to the workouts. Since I also work with a trainer 2-3 times per week, I will be switching up this schedule to fit into my gym routine. This will probably a little trickier as the challenge progresses, but I will make it work somehow.

I did Week 1’s video today and loved it. It’s a full body workout involving minimal equipment, which is always nice. Tonight at the gym, I will be working chest, triceps, shoulders, and core and will finish up with some intervals on the elliptical. Can’t wait!!

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Motivation Strikes Again!

It’s funny how one simple thing can change your whole perspective on something.

Yesterday started off like every other day – waking up way too early, drink coffee to help pry the eyes open from sleep, feed the boys breakfast, send the oldest one off to school, and come back home and do the typical stay-at-home-mom routine.

Then, I get a text from my little sister.

She informed me that she took some progress photos and wanted know if I could see a difference in her body composition. Holy cow, what a transformation! I was blown away. I had seen her in early August and now she looks like a completely different person! She had struggled with her weight for the last 3 years after being diagnosed with stage 4 endometriosis. The doctors put her on all sorts of meds known to slow weight loss/cause weight gain which only complicates her medical condition! But, she showed those doctors and medicine who was boss!! I am so proud of her. What an inspiration!

 After looking at the pictures, I did lots of thinking and realized that I was ready to push myself a little harder.  I mean, if my sister can do it with the battle going on inside her body, I surely can!! So, I dusted off  the P90X+ program that I was going to start in October and studied the workout schedule. All of the sudden, I felt giddy about the idea of working out with Tony Horton on a daily basis again. Then I promised myself  to start the program on Monday (easier to track the program on the Beachbody workout calendar). Of course, I had already plan to switching the workouts around to make sure that I would be able to do my weekly weight training sessions at the gym.

 Then, it was time to go the gym for this week’s session. My trainer asked me “Remember a few weeks ago you had asked me about adding a second training session?” I said “Yes, why?” He then responded by telling me that he thinks that it might be possible now. We did a great upper body workout then he introduced me to the personal trainer sales manager. After lots of talking, I signed a new one year contract for personal training  that allows me two sessions per week at a great rate! I’m so happy!! I paid for the first month (8 sessions) and last month (8 sessions)  so I already have 17 sessions to use (one leftover from my once per week contract) with 8 more being added on the 17th of October. With the yummy holiday season approaching, I may use this surplus to do training sessions 3x/week every so often. This will involve splitting the Upper Body workout into a Push workout and a Pull workout. We will work legs once per week, since my trainer always trains them really hard!

That night, my trainer called and thanked me for believing in him and his method. He then told me that my request to add a second session was what motivated him to stay as an employee with the gym.  It was nice hearing that I, a mere client, inspired my trainer to make a very important decision in his career.

So, with this new exciting change in events, I will be holding off on starting the P90X+ program until I feel like I can handle the extra workload.  I will  continue to use the Jillian Michaels dvds, various Beachbody workouts, and the things I’ve pinned on Pinterest to further improve my cardio endurance and core. I will let my trainer handle all the resistance work!

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A Much Needed Update

I have been so bad at updating this blog.

Since my last post, I’ve been trying to figure out how to deal with a variety of emotions. It took me a while to get them all sorted out, but I think I’m finally getting close to being my old happy self again.

I’ve changed pace with my exercise and am enjoying it. I’ve started doing some Jillian Michael’s workouts, mixed with some of my favorite classes from P90X and Insanity. I’ve also enjoyed early morning walks with the dog and plan on adding a couple of runs each week. Gym is going good, but I’m still not going as much as I’d like. I’m going to work on adding at least one other day (hopefully two!) because I really miss being in the gym environment.

Eating is going ok. I’m focusing on portion control as well as attempting to make healthier food choices during stressful times. Even though I haven’t been blogging, I’ve been busy pinning healthy and exciting recipes on Pinterest. I can’t wait try a lot of these dishes, especially all the fall meals and desserts!

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Finding Balance

I’ve been in a funk for the past few days. It all started with a neck and back injury/strain that I got last Thursday. Thankfully, it has pretty much disappeared, but the two days off of Insanity were probably the two most stressful days I’ve had in a long time.
I had a revelation this morning that I really need to stop being so hard on myself when it comes to these pre-determined workout schedules.  They are realistic schedules, with most workout sessions being only an hour long.  Even the most busiest of people can squeeze in an hour of exercise per day.  However, there are times when life gets in the way. Life getting in the way for me seems to usually be migraines, my damn neck injury, and kid-related stuff.  Most of the time, I’m able to make up the workouts I’ve missed.  But, I’ve noticed that once I’ve gotten behind, my stress levels go way up.  Then, I get depressed and feel like a total failure because I can’t stick to a schedule. Then, the programs start feeling like a chore which leaves me feeling burned out.  This happened early on with BBL and I ended up despising the 60 day program by the time I finished.  Long story short, exercise shouldn’t feel like a chore or stress me out to the point of crying and depression.  That is  just plain crazy!!
Don’t get me wrong, I  love my dvd workouts, especially the P90X series and Insanity!  They have done great things for me.  However, I am going to take a break from following their schedules word-for-word. For now, I’m going to write up my own schedule on a week-by-week basis and do what I want to do for exercise. I need those stress levels to go down so I can regain the balance I so desperately need.
I don’t have all the details figured out yet,  but I do know that I want to go to the gym more often and do more outdoor activities since the weather is finally getting cooler.  I want to go running, continue my early AM walks, and go hiking on the weekends. I plan on doing Insanity a few times during the week, but will take a break from it on the weekends. Im going to let it be supplemental exercise to all the other exercise I want to do this fall. So yea, I’m not  going to complete Insanity in 60 days like most people aim to do. And I’m ok with this!
Thankfully, I’m pretty happy with how I feel and look so this new approach to exercise wont be detrimental to my health. In fact, I think it will improve it since I will no longer feel stressed out if I don’t get a specific exercise workout done.
Ok, I feel better writing this all down. Moving on now! :-)
“Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance. ” – Brian Tracy
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I’m Still Alive!

Wow, I have been so busy since my last post!

Let’s see, what have I been up to?

My sister came to visit for a week and we had lots of fun. We enjoyed lots of healthy meals and a couple of treats and got in a ton of exercise as well as some down time.  It has been a week since I’ve seen her now and I’m still pretty bummed that she had to go home. She is my best buddy!!

Meanwhile, my 4.5 year old started school last Monday, so I had been with the basket of emotions involved with that transition.  I’ve been excited and sad about him growing up and becoming so independent!

Also, I finished up Brazil Butt Lift in early August and started Insanity on August 13th. I am recovering from some sort of neck and muscle strain, so I’ve been bummed about missing my at-home workouts. Thankfully, the pain seems to have finally alleviated so I hope to resume Insanity tomorrow.

Lastly, I have a few more yummy and healthy recipes to tell you about!

Anyway, I’m just checking in to let you know that I haven’t forgotten about this blog. I hope to start posting more regularly now that things are returning to normal!

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Chai Tea Protein Smoothie

Last week, my husband and I had to attend a parent orientation at our son’s pre-k school. We got there a little early, so we stopped at a nearby coffee shop to kill some time. I ordered a Chai tea smoothie. Oh my, it was sooo good! Anyway, I have daydreamed about this beverage since that day so I decided to buy some pre-made organic Chai Tea concentrate for homemade Chai tea lattes.  The lattes turned out well but I was curious to see if I could come up with my own Chai tea smoothie. I did and I loved it!

Chai Tea Protein Smoothie 

1/2 cup cold Chai Tea Concentrate, such as Oregon Chai’s Chai Tea Latte Concentrate

1/2 cup milk or milk substitute (I used unsweetened almond milk)

a serving of vanilla whey protein powder (I used EAS 100% Whey Protein )

ice for desired consistency

cinnamon (optional)

Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth. Pour in tall glass and sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired. Enjoy!

If using the ingredients above, this drink is  255 calories, 26.5 g protein, and 29.5 g carbs

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