Monday, February 22, 2016

How to Start Living a Healthier Lifestyle Easily - Featuring The Leaf by Bellabeat

One of the ultimate goals in life for many people is to be healthy in all aspects of their lives. I know that is for certain one of my ultimate goals. It is definitely challenging and tough at times, but it's totally doable, especially when you have a plan, support system and various things to help you along the way. I have tried many diets, plans, and other ways to get healthy and have failed. After many years of trial and error, I have finally found a few ways to live a healthier lifestyle without compromising my happiness and overall well-being. 

A little backstory about me and my health journey: For most of my life, I have been overweight. It's something that I have learned to accept but at the same time knowing that in the long run, it can cause problems and now that I am getting older, I want to be as healthy as I can personally be, no matter how many baby steps I have to take. I didn't get this way overnight, and it's not going to change overnight either. One thing that helps me feel not so overwhelmed is reminding myself that eating healthy and exercising shouldn't be a punishment. I try to look at is as if I am rewarding my body for everything it does for me. This is a lifestyle change, and not a fad diet. I can still eat the foods I love (my weaknesses are cheese, Hot Cheetos and sweets) but in moderation and/or altering the way the are prepped and cooked.

Some or all products shown in this post may have been provided by the said brand(s) and/or website(s) for potential review and/or use. For more information, please read my DISCLAIMER.

Let me just state right now that I am in no way a doctor, nutritionist, fitness trainer, etc., so what works for me, may not work for you. I know that these foods aren't perfect, nor are they totally considered "clean" or "whole". This is just what works for me and I strongly believe that moderation and balance is key. You are definitely free to tweak any of these foods to your liking!

Breakfast
Over the years I have learned that if I eat a healthy, balanced and filling breakfast, I'm a lot less likely to eat unhealthy foods throughout the day. One of my favorite breakfast is a copycat version of Starbucks' Spinach and Feta Breakfast Wrap. It is SO delicious and keeps me full and energized for hours. I follow this recipe but substitute the lavash/tortilla with a Light Flat Out Wrap.

Photo Credit
Lunch
For lunch, I also love using those same wraps (wraps are my thing) and I stuff it with grilled chicken breast strips (I buy large three packs from Costco for convenience) spicy hummus as a substitute for mayonnaise (Sabra's Supremely Spicy is my all time favorite), fresh spinach and/or romaine lettuce, fresh tomato slices and bell pepper slices. If I decide to have cheese in the wrap, I sometimes use Laughing Cow Cheese Wedges or thinly sliced provolone cheese. Super satisfying and yummy!

Dinner
One of my favorite dinners lately has been a lightened up version of  Japanese Curry. If you haven't yet noticed, I LOVE spicy food. This meal calls for a little more work and prep than the breakfast and lunch, but its SO worth it because believe me when I say that this dish is scrumptious!

Firstly, I make the brown rice so it can cook whilst I make everything else. I follow this recipe by Martha Stewart.

Now for the curry:

Ingredients:
2 whole boneless and skinless chicken breasts
3 whole carrots chopped
1-2 russet potato(s) chopped (washed)
1 yellow onion chopped
1/2 of a 8.4-oz package of Golden Curry Extra Hot Sauce Mix (I purchase mine at a Japanese market but can also be found on Amazon. You may also find it at a chain grocery store if they have a Japanese food section)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (you can substitute with an oil spray if you'd like)
4 cups of water
salt and pepper to taste
Serves 2-4

In a medium-large pot, sautée onions on medium-high until they are translucent with extra virgin olive oil (or spray) then add potatoes and carrots and cook for another 5 so they flavors can combine, then add 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. As your doing this, lightly pan fry the chicken breasts (or bake them if you'd like) with extra virgin olive oil (or spray) and season with salt and pepper until they are fully cooked and set aside.
Once the potatoes and carrots are soft, turn down the heat to medium and add the Golden Curry cubes (half package) and stir until fully dissolved and sauces thickens. Once that is done, serve with the brown rice on one side, and the vegetable curry mixture on the other side and place the chicken (cut into slices) on top of the curry and add some sauce over the chicken and viola! ENJOY!
Sorry this isn't the best photo! Also, this is white rice pictured because it was all that I had on hand that day.
Snacks
My biggest vice is snacking and it's probably the hardest aspect of healthy eating for me to control. Luckily there are so many options out there to help curb my cravings. Some of my favorite snacks are kale chips, baby carrots dipped in hummus, fruit, and if my cravings for something salty and crispy are really intense, I'll treat myself to a serving of baked Hot Cheetos or Harvest Snaps Snapea Crisps.

Dessert
I'm the type of person that will never say no to dessert. It's one of the greatest joys in my life! I have found a few healthy ways to satisfy my sweet tooth without going overboard with calories and sugar. One that is really simple and satisfying is one that I like to call "banana sushi". It's really simple. All I do I grab a FlatOut wrap, add some PB2 Powdered Chocolate Peanut Butter (which has 85% less calories and fat than traditional peanut butter) and a whole banana. Sometimes I like to add unsweetend coconut flakes for some crunch. Wrap it up nice and tight and simply slice it like sushi! YUM.

So as you can see, I do NOT like deprive myself. When I do, I tend to fall off the wagon and go back to my old eating habits. I still eat what I love, but try to be more conscious of what I consume. A good rule of thumb for me is low sugar, high protein and I also drink lots and lots of water. I have a reusable 32oz water bottle that I'm constantly filling up throughout the day. When I want something other than water, I love iced black tea sweetened with stevia and sometimes I will treat myself with a diet coke. I don't drink alcohol too often (only socially and for special occasions) but when I do I'll have a light beer or wine.
I really love MyFitnessPal which is an app that help you track your calorie intake, exercise and more. It has helped me tremendously to lose weight and visualize what I'm consuming. I highly recommend downloading it (it's free!) and giving it a try. It's awesome!

I used to go to the gym regularly, but I stopped because I didn't really enjoy the environment, so I figured out a way to workout at home that's both enjoyable and effective. I like to mix it up so I don't get bored and I try my best to do a mixture of these 4-5 times a week for at least 30 minutes. Here are some of my favorite ways to get moving and sweating:

I absolutely love music and I love to dance. I've been to Zumba classes before and enjoyed it, but money adds up quickly. One day I was browsing YouTube and came across a few YouTube channels that have fun and easy to follow Zumba-style workouts! I LOVE doing these and it feels like a party instead of a workout. This is definitely one of my favorite ways to be active and best of all, it's FREE.

Disclaimer: Be sure to consult your doctor before beginning these or any other exercise program. Not all exercises are suitable for everyone. By engaging in these workouts, you agree that you do so at your own risk, and assume all associated risk of injury. 

Here are the channels that I enjoy:

Shine Dance Fitness (they offer online classes as well!)

Another channel that I really enjoy when I don't feel like dancing is Jessica Smith TV. She uploads fun workouts that are for people that like to workout at home/have a small workout space. She offers many types of workouts like strength training, beginner workouts, cardio and so much more!

On days I want to get out of the house, I bring my dog with me and I go on a power walk/jog. I live by the beach so some days I walk/jog along the boardwalk. Other times I stay on my block and circle it about 4-5 times which is equivalent to about a mile and half. One trick I do to burn extra calories is to walk the lengths of the side walk and run the corners. This helps me get my heart-rate up and helps build endurance. Once I start to get more used to doing that and it isn't a challenge anymore, I do the opposite and run the lengths of the sidewalk and walk the corners.

Something that is new to me but has been around for a while and that has been beneficial to a lot of people are fitness trackers. I have always been intrigued by them and wondered if they would truly help me with my lifestyle. There are so many trackers on the market and it can be a little overwhelming to choose one. One day I was on Facebook and a friend of mine tagged me in a photo of a new fitness tracker. It is called The Leaf by Bellabeat. Right away, I was drawn in because this isn't your standard fitness tracker. It is gorgeous. It looks more like a piece of jewelry than a traditional fitness tracker which are usually bulky and not typically aesthetically pleasing. Since I was in the market for one and have my blog as a platform to introduce you guys to awesome products, I decided to contact them and see if they would want to send me one to review. They were more than happy to provide one, and I have had a few weeks to try it out and let you guys know what I think about it.

Design

The BellaBeat Leaf is a small-medium wearable fitness tracker.  It's beautiful, and features a pretty leaf motif (hypoallergenic stainless steel) and is available in silver ($119.99 USD) and recyclable American ashwood in a neutral beige color or rose gold and African blackwood ($149.99 USD). It is really quite a beautiful piece of work and it's a refreshing change from the usual wearable fitness trackers.

What I love most about this device is that you can wear it in many different ways. It comes with a chain to wear it as a necklace or the option of a leather strap to wear as a bracelet. Also, the leaf itself is a clip so you can wear it as sort of a brooch. You can clip it to your top, bra, waistband, etc. The Leaf does not come with a charger since it runs on a coin-cell battery that should last around 6 months or so. The Leaf also comes with a small special screwdriver to take the back off the Leaf to change the battery once the time comes. The Leaf also does not have a display, but it works along with a free official app. All you need to do is sync the device with the app and it'll track your activity and sleep. One thing that is a little annoying is that you need to sync the device by gently tapping it twice every time you open the app. Nothing too bad, but I wish it would sync automatically.
Functionality

The Leaf is marketed towards women since it tracks menstruation which is a feature that I have not seen in other devices and I believe is quite useful if tracking your cycle is important to you. It was definitely designed and branded with women in mind. If you don't menstruate and you like the design of the Leaf, that feature is ignorable. You can also set it up to remind you take pills and it tracks your sleep and detects if you had a restful night or not. The Leaf's other features are ones that are typically found in a fitness tracker. It tracks your daily activity such as steps, breathing and calories burned (calculated based on your steps/activity, age and weight). You can also set it up to gently vibrate to remind you if you've been inactive too long. One thing that is does not track is your heartrate.

Here is a screenshot of some of my activity from a day I went on a brisk walk:



I'm not sure if this is 100% accurate, but I think it definitely helps me visualize my activity and it is extremely helpful for me. It helps me see if I need to move more on a daily basis and it's cool to collect all my data day to day.

Another unique feature about The Leaf is that it tracks your breathing and stress levels which is useful for people that like to mediate and are prone to anxiety like myself. The app has a section that is dedicated to the breathing exercises. It doesn't necessarily track your stress levels but rather encourages you to perform the breathing exercise which will help you feel less stressed overall. To some it may seem a bit gimmicky, but if you're someone that likes structure and need a reminder, it's a neat feature.

If you are interested in The Leaf by Bellabeat, then definitely check out their website and join the waiting list to get your hands on this gorgeous fitness tracker:



Bellabeat on Social Media

Twitter:

Facebook:

Instagram:

Overall, I really enjoy this device and as a fashion conscious person, I really enjoy that it's stylish yet functional. I don't have any other fitness tracker experience, so I can't really compare it to other devices. I do wish it was water resistant, and that it synced automatically and in the background, and that the necklace was longer and a little thicker (I feel like the The Leaf is a little heavy for the size of the chain and because of that it's a little uncomfortable on my neck) but other than that, I was pretty impressed with this device.
I really hope you guys enjoyed this post and found it helpful. Please let me know if you'd like more health and fitness type of posts in the future! I have many more recipes and tips I'd like to share with you all. My whole philosophy and motto for this lifestyle is to do what feels right for you. If an exercise is too difficult, take it easy. It'll get easier the more you do it. Don't deprive yourself of what you love. If you love cheesecake for example, have it! Allow yourself a cheat day and workout an extra day, or a little longer on one of your regular days. And if you don't, it's OKAY! Life happens and it isn't healthy to beat yourself up over it. Like I mentioned earlier, do what feels good and what makes you happy and make it fun!

What are your favorite healthy recipes and what are some tips that have helped you achieve a healthier lifestyle? Leave a comment below and let me know. I love learning new tips and tricks and trying new recipes!

Take care!






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