Friday, November 23, 2012

Avoid the Holiday Bulk-Up!

Ahhh, it is finally the best time of the year! Wow, how time flies. While I 'm sure everyone can't wait for the the cozy sweaters, Christmas baking, candles, lights, and happy music, it is crucial to not completely abandon the workout and dieting routine you have finally perfected!

Here are a few little tips to avoid the holiday "bulk-up":

Remember to keep your portions small! You don't need to avoid all of the delicious appetizers and cookies that make Christmas so wonderful, but do remember to enjoy them in moderation! If you know you are going to a holiday event on Saturday, save that day for your cheat meal. Using a small plate can be helpful (rather than hovering over the food and inhaling the entire thing before you even realize it).

If you can't make it to the gym, make time for an in-home workout! In fact, last year my amazing sister Paige bought me a kettlebell and workout book for a gift, which has been put to great use this year! Buy yourself a little Christmas gift: kettlebells, workout videos, yoga mat, or even a cute new workout outfit- anything that will motivate to stay fit during the colder months. For some reason a new workout tank gets me SO excited to exercise (must be a girl thing?) so treat yourself! And why not give a "healthy" gift to your loved ones? Maintaining your workout regimen will greatly benefit you, especially if you're indulging :)
why WOULDN'T you want to workout when you have these?
If you are cooking, opt for some healthier options! Instead of high-calorie dips and appetizers, bring a colorful vegetable plate, a colorful dip with pretzels, cute sliced-fruit desserts, or why not my delicious sweet potato recipe? Avoid cream-cheese dips (even though they are incredibly delicious)
fruit kabob- healthier alternative
New Year's Resolutions. Why not start them now? A gym membership or setting a new goal can be the perfect fuel to kick off the new year healthier than you ever have before, but why wait until January 1st? A healthy lifestyle is a DAILY routine, not an on/off habit. If you want to see results, you must dedicate yourself every single day.

Drink lots of water! Holiday drinks and celebrations can quickly add excessive calories to your intake, so be aware, and try to replace as much soda/juice/alcohol with water! 
how perfect is this?
Most importantly, enjoy your loved ones, and keep your body happy by staying healthy!
MERRY CHRISTMAS! (soooo happy I can finally start saying that!)


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Importance of Emotional Health- In Loving Memory of Kaitlin Marie Augusta Beske

When you think about health and fitness what is the first thing that comes to mind? Naturally, I picture exercising, people at the gym, and dieting. However, "fitness" is comprised of not only physical health, but emotional, mental, spiritual, and social health. These are important aspects that are often forgotten about. While I know this is a very different post for me, its been weighing on my heart that I should share HOW important emotional health and concussion awareness is.

This is dedicated to my best friend of 20 years, my gorgeous and radiant angel now in Heaven, and our "quadruplet". 
Kaitlin Marie Augusta Beske
Incredible photo by Ashley Lemke
The story all began when Kaitlin and I were 2 years old. Somehow my parents picked the perfect neighborhood, Jupiter Way, for us to build a house and grow up in. To our luck, we were blessed with the Beske family living down the street- little did we know the incredible impact Cindy, Chuck, Kaitlin, and Andrew would have on our lives! Kaitlin quickly became our favorite neighbor, our best friend, and shortly after, our "quadruplet". (If anyone reading didn't already know, I am a triplet with my sisters Paige and Lauren. Kaitlin became one of us!).
Quadruplet Stuffed Animal Slumber Party :)
Our days consisted of running back and forth between our neighboring houses, playing with baby dolls, Barbies, and stuffed animals for hours on end, and sharing WAY too many giggles. Kaitlin grew to be the very first friend and best friend I've ever had. Our bond was unbreakable.
Luckily for us, our friendship was not limited to our younger years as many friendships turn out. Despite my family's brief move to Texas in second grade, Kaitlin and I wrote back and forth to each other and maintained our adorable 8-year-old friendships through letters. One year later when my family was fortunate enough to move back to Minnesota and into our SAME house on Jupiter Way, Kaitlin and I were ecstatic! I'm pretty sure my sisters and I went to the Beske's house before starting to move back into ours. :)
Limited Too matching plaid pants... yup.
We were inseparable. Our friendship flourished through junior high school as we both made the "Starliners" which was the Lakeville Junior High Dance Team, started our own daycamp for young girls called "Dance, Fun, and More", and watched Bruce Almighty way too many times. I won't dare post all of those embarrassing pictures!
Beske front and center :)
love you Kait.

As time quickly passed, we spent endless hours together on the Varsity Cougar Dance Team in high school, on weekends at competitions, and on weeknights when we needed a "lazy movie night with cookie dough." Like I said, Kaitlin was like our sister.
so many incredible memories!
best-friend Henna tattoos :)
Before we knew it, we were graduating high school. Kaitlin would be attending Bethel University in Minnesota, and while I initially attended Winona State University in Minnesota, I had plans to transfer to the new and exciting city of Boston. (But not before the Bergs and Beskes took our amazing senior spring break trip to Cancun!)
Cancun 2009: Quadruplets :)
My sisters and I were so lucky to have Kaitlin as a part of our family..... and for us to be accepted into the Beske family as if we were one of their own!

Although 1,000 miles seperated us once I moved to Boston, Kaitlin remained my best friend. My future bridesmaid and lifelong sister. I am so blessed to have made incredible memories with her when I was home at the end of August this year. Kaitlin, Paige, Cindy, and I went to the Twin's game (my first time at the new stadium) and had way too much fun.
I will forever cherish these pictures.
already looking like a real-life angel :)
Unfortunately over the next few months, Kaitlin encountered a few concussions causing head trauma. Due to complications and a few months of struggling, this head trauma resulted in Kaitlin taking her life. I will never forget the phone call I received from my sister late at night on October 21st. How could the happiest, most bubbly, vivacious, faithful, and incredible friend have felt so helpless?

While we cannot spend the rest of our lives questioning how such an incident could have occurred, we can cherish the incredible memories Kaitlin shared with us. We can also realize how important emotional health is in our own lives! And this was the point of my post. It is my hope that whoever is reading this knows that life is so precious. You are SO cherished here on Earth, and if you are ever feeling down, please at least know that I am here to listen! I am 100% confident that Kaitlin felt loved, but she was not the same after her concussions. This brings up another point: take care of yourself while exercising, and if you encounter an injury, make sure you and your family are aware of the symptoms, just as the Beskes were. While we can't bring Kaitlin back, we can educate others to be aware of the dangers concussions can bring, and live in her memory!
Quads Fo Life <3
While Kaitlin may not be physically present on Earth anymore, I can feel her around me every day. Her positive spirit, contagious laugh, and pearly smile could brighten any room. It is my hope that everyone reading this takes time to evaluate their health and well-being after reading this. Life is too short.
Rest in Peace my beautiful angel. Prepared to live each day to the fullest for you every day forward! You will never be forgotten Kaitlin.

Thanks for letting me share,

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mix It Up: Beating Salad Boredom :)

When training for an event or trying to become more healthy in general, I'm sure we all know how salads seem to take over as a staple meal. Packed with nutrients, vitamins, and fiber (and hopefully minimal fats), salads work wonders in achieving goals..... unless you get sick of them. I've been on a salad-kick lately, and I started forcing myself to be creative because I could not eat the same thing over and over. Here we go:
Lettuce! Use whatever lettuce floats your boat. After all, its the goodies you put on top of the salad that makes or breaks it! Romaine, Spinach, Spring mix, you name it. Spinach is my favorite since it is SO nutritious, and honestly you can hardly taste it when it is mixed in with everything else.
Vegetables! LOAD EM UP. I find that salads are the easiest way to get all my veggies in for the day (duh) so get creative! I like red/yellow/orange peppers, tomatoes, avocado, corn, shredded carrots, cucumbers, onion, ANY vegetable you can tolerate!
Need a little sweet or salty? This is my favorite part (wow, I sound like such a salad nerd...)! I love adding a small amount of sunflower seeds or raw almonds to my salad. Dried fruit can be delicious too, but try it in small amounts since it tends to be SO high in sugar. I enjoy a small sprinkle of dried cranberries, better known as Craisins. Sometimes I add 1/4 teaspoon of brown sugar to my Balsamic Vinegar to give it a little more "sweet".
Protein should be incorporated into every meal of the day. As mentioned before, I've heard trainers say you should be eating 1g for every pound of body weight.... if you're 150lbs, shoot for 150g of protein per day. It is difficult, but it helps you to build and maintain muscle while keeping you full. Especially if you are eating salad, incorporating protein is crucial (otherwise you will be hungry in 10 minutes since spinach and lettuce aren't all that caloric). Grill a chicken breast, shrimp, or salmon. Shred up some deli meat or toss some black beans, chick peas, or edamame on! Delish.
 Dressing: the most obvious, best choice for dressing is Balsamic Vinegar. No, not vinegarETTE. Although it isn't all that flavorful, I've come to really like it, just make sure to use it in VERY small amounts. A little goes a long way and you don't want your salad to be too acidic! I always do less than 1 tablespoon and that is plenty. Mix it up with olive oil if you want, and if you really can't handle balsamic vinegar, shoot for a dressing that is low in fat. I also really like Newman's Own "Lite" collection.. Lite Roasted Garlic Balsamic Vinegarette or the Lite Low Fat Sesame Ginger.
What to avoid: any dressing high in fat... I'd highly recommend avoiding ranch/ thousand island/ bleu cheese. These dressings can make a salad worse than a cheat meal.  
Long story short: mix it up and don't get bored. Remember how easy it is to PACK A LUNCH, and they even sell tupperware that comes with a little salad compartment that hooks into the top lid... no more excuses about "hating soggy salad." Now go enjoy another salad (and don't forget about your cheat meal once a week!)