Healthy Mexican Stuffed Peppers

I know I’ve said it before, but I could seriously eat Mexican food every single day without getting sick of it. Hands down, my “last meal” would inevitably be something Mexican related – maybe like the biggest plate of nachos supreme they could find. Even when I say I’m not in the mood for Mexican, if something catches my eye that’s spicy and enchilada-like, I’m going to order it.

Some might say I have a problem.

I like to think of it as built in inspiration.

You see, when I have days where I get home from the gym and haven’t a clue what I’m going to make for dinner, I almost always turn to something Mexican (ask my poor husband, who probably rolls his eyes every time I pull out a can of black beans now). It’s just so perfect for a weeknight meal – it’s usually super quick, super flavorful, and super easy to throw together.

What’s not to love, right?

Thirty Minute Thursday

Well that’s exactly what happened to me last week. I got home with no idea what I wanted to make, and stuck my head in the fridge. I immediately noticed that I had some red peppers that were on their last legs (<—where did that phrase even come from anyway?) and figured red peppers + mexican influence = deliciousness. Obviously!

Thus the Health Mexican Stuffed Peppers were born! Super quick, super easy, and super delicious. That’s like a triple win!

Healthy Mexican Stuffed Peppers

healthy mexican stuffed peppers

Healthy Mexican Stuffed Peppers
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Prep Time
5 hr
Cook Time
30 hr
Prep Time
5 hr
Cook Time
30 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup uncooked brown rice (or 2 cups cooked)
  2. 1 lb ground turkey
  3. 1 yellow onion, chopped
  4. 1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies (you could also use regular diced tomatoes and just increase the spices)
  5. 4 bell peppers (I only had 2, which is why that's all I used)
  6. 1 tsp cumin (adjust to taste)
  7. 1 tsp chili powder (adjust to taste)
  8. 1 tsp garlic salt (adjust to taste)
  9. 1 tsp chipotle powder (adjust to taste)
  10. 1 tsp red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)
  11. 1/2 cup shredded mexican cheese
  12. 1 tsp olive oil
Instructions
  1. Cook brown rice according to directions.
  2. Heat oven to 325 degrees.
  3. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook turkey until brown (approximately 3-5 minutes). Add in onions and continue to cook until translucent.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add in diced tomatoes, cooked brown rice and spices. Mix and cook until thoroughly warm. Remove from heat.
  5. Cut peppers in half lengthwise, and place into a large pan or baking dish. Fill with mixture. Add any leftover rice mixture around peppers.
  6. Place in oven and cook for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until peppers are soft. Sprinkle cheese over top, and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes until cheese it melted.
  7. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.
  8. Enjoy!
My Freckled Life http://www.myfreckledlife.com/

Healthy Mexican Stuffed PeppersHealthy Mexican Stuffed PeppersHealthy Mexican Stuffed PeppersHealthy Mexican Stuffed Peppers

The best part? This seriously made SO MUCH FOOD! I’ve been eating leftovers for days! In fact, the filling makes a great salad topper, with a bit of salsa for some extra punch! I mean, you’ve got your protein, your carbs, and all your awesome mexican flavors. Who needs Chipotle anyway?

(Ok, that’s a totally false statement. We all need Chipotle in our lives. But this is a good substitute when your wallet starts crying from too many chips and guac splurges!)

So tell me: What kinds of meals do you turn to when you need a quick meal? What would your “last meal” be?

WIAW: Change Up Edition

For the past several weeks I’ve been in a serious a food rut. You know, one of those ruts where you basically end up eating the same thing every day of the week, and every time you look in the fridge you just stare mindlessly hoping that some genius recipe comes to you? That kind of rut?

No, just me? Ok, that’s cool too.

Regardless, I’ve been a bit stuck. Until today, that is.

For whatever reason, today I was just feeling super inspired to change everything up! I felt like I finally broke out of my holding pattern and I’m interested in cooking again. I don’t know what caused it or where it came from, but I’m just going to roll with it. I’m just hopping on that train and seeing where it takes me!


 

Which means that for this week’s WIAW, you get to see a totally different day of eats than usual. Woohoo! (It really is the little things in life, isn’t it?)

PS – If you’re not familiar with WIAW and all of the awesomeness that it stands for, head on over to Jenn’s blog for a great explanation of what WIAW is all about. Plus you’ll get to see what a ton of other bloggers are eating!

Breakfast

WIAW healthy breakfast

I told you things were going to be different today! No more boring oatmeal! I was feeling a little spunky this morning, so I ended up making a piece of wheat toast with natural peanut butter, and a smoothie that contained frozen cherries, 1/2 a frozen banana, unsweetened almond milk, frozen spinach and vega sport protein powder. This breakfast kept me super full until lunch, which is a rarity. This might have to make a repeat performance!

Lunch

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Not the healthiest of lunches, I will admit. But we picked up some pizza yesterday while Chris and his mom’s boyfriend were changing the oil in Chris’ car. And the leftovers were just sitting in our fridge (and there honestly isn’t too much else in there right now… we’re running a touch low on groceries at the moment). So I decided to grab two slices of veggie pizza for lunch today, and I have to admit – it was pretty delicious.

Snack

WIAW lara uber bar snack

Today my office was open late, so I ended up working a 10.5 hour day, which means that by about 5pm I was starting to get seriously hungry (and grumbly – I hate late days!) We are also out of apples at my house right now (I told you our fridge was looking rather pathetic!), so for a snack I ended up digging into my emergency drawer for a lara uber bar. This coconut macaroon might be my all-time favorite lara bar now. So delicious!

Dinner

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When I got home from the gym, look what I found in my kitchen! Man, I could get used to coming home to a man cooking me dinner all the time, sheesh!

WIAW Blue Apron Dinner

Chris ended up making one of our Blue Apron meals, which I promise I’ll talk more about next week once I’ve had a chance to really try out the service. And now you’ll get two opinions since Chris cooked one of the meals! This one was the pan-seared cod with parmesan-crusted squash and roasted red potatoes. Holy yum. That is all I have to say about that.

I also may or may not have snuck a piece of chocolate while writing this post. It just jumped its way into my mouth. I plead the fifth.

Workout

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Even though it was my late day and I really wasn’t feeling it, all of your comments about my post on shoulder exercises yesterday made me get over it and get my butt to the gym. And in the end, I’m glad I did. Isn’t it amazing how sometimes the hardest part of a whole workout can just be getting to the gym?

I started out with 30 minutes of hard intervals on the elliptical, and then completed a 30 minute arm and shoulder circuit workout – including some of the moves from yesterday’s post! I can definitely tell you that I’m going to be feeling it tomorrow. I’m going to have a mad case of jello arms!

Overall, not too shabby of a day for eats or workouts. I feel like I’m finally starting to get my healthy living mojo back. All this traveling lately really took it out of me, so I’m glad to finally be getting back into a (somewhat) normal routine. Now I just need to hold onto that inspiration again and see where it takes me!

So tell me: What did you eat today? What did your workouts look like? Do you ever find yourself in a food rut?

5 Favorite Exercises for Strong Shoulders

As I mentioned in my post about my August goals last week, one of my main fitness goals right now is to focus more on strength training, especially for my upper body. My arms and shoulders are hands down my least favorite body parts to work out, mostly because they are the weakest and it’s HARD. Pathetic, I know, but sometimes it’s easier to focus on working out those muscles that already feel strong than to feel the pain of working out weaker muscles.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? (Cue Kelly Clarkson music here)

So I’ve really been trying to incorporate more arm and shoulder workouts into my weekly routine, despite the fact that I kind of dread them. Which means that I have been searching pinterest for more workouts and moves to expand my repetoire a little bit.

So today I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite shoulder moves! Of course, I use the term “favorite” pretty loosely, considering that I still am not enjoying any of them (so much soreness!!!), but at least I know that these moves give my poor shoulders a killer burn!

Front Plate Raise

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The front plate raise is one of my favorites because it’s just so simple. Take a medium-sized plate (or dumbbells if that’s what you have), and raise it until your arms are parallel to the floor, and return to the start. Just be careful not to lock out your elbows. Straightforward, but man does it kill after a few reps!

Alternating Shoulder Press with a Twist

 

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(source)

 

Ok, this one can look a little silly, especially since you want to go fairly light on the weights, but I love it because it incorporates some back and oblique muscles too. For me, this is one of those moves that I wont feel right away, but the next morning when I wake up and my obliques are yelling at me, I remember why. Plus I just like that it’s got a little jazzercise flair!

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

shoulder workout, shoulder workouts, should workout plan, deltoid workout, deltoid workout plan, shoulder workout routine, shoulders workout, shoulder exercises

(source)

 

This one is about as basic as it gets when it comes to shoulder moves, but it’s so effective it’s impossible to ignore it. Sometimes I’ll also use a stability ball to sit on instead of a bench, for a little extra core work. Plus, I love thay I can go slightly heavier with these weights, which makes me feel like a badass.

You know you like to feel like a badass in the gym too, don’t lie.

Upright Row w/ Shoulder Press

Upright Row With Overhead Shoulder Press

(source)

 

This is another move I love because you can either complete the move as a whole, or break it down into 2 different moves. The upright row is probably my favorite shoulder move because, again, you dont start to feel it until about 1 set in. Then it suddenly gets much more difficult! Also, you could easily sub a kettlebell or dumbbells if you have them.

Lateral Raise

(source)

Ok, lateral raises are probably my LEAST favorite shoulder move. But that’s becaude thst particular part of my deltoid muscle is apparently the weakest. So these just plain BURN.

But again, I know that if I want to make them stop burning so badly, I just have to do them. A lot. So I’ve been trying to incorporate them into every shoulder workout I do, no matter how I mix up the other moves. Even if I still have to use super light weights! It’ll be worth it in the end, right?

So there you have it – my 5 favorite moves for strong shoulders. Or should I say the 5 shoulder moves I love to hate. Both would probably be accurate statements! Now if only I could actually learn to love working out my arms…

So tell me: What are your favorite shoulder moves? What’s your least favorite muscle group to work out?

Please note that I am not a fitness professional, and you should always consult with a doctor before starting a new exercise routine. This information is solely from my own personal experience and research.

Hello, car troubles!

How’d we end up back at Monday again so quickly? I swear, weekends just fly by way too fast. Especially when you’re busy.

And like most of our weekends this summer, this one was pretty packed. I swear, I’m kind of ready for summer to be over just so things can slow down a bit! I am looking forward to spending my weekends doing nothing but relaxing and watching football all day!

But since we’re not quite there yet (just a few more weeks!), here is a look at what my crazy summer weekend really looked like.

Friday

As you all heard in my Five Favorites Friday post, I actually ended up spending the day at home with a nasty case of food poisoning (or something similar – no I’m not pregnant for the 10+ people who asked… sheesh!) Thankfully by the mid-afternoon I was feeling much better and was finally able to put on some real clothes and face the world.

The good thing about staying home on Friday though was that I got to spend the entire day studying for my GREs. So even though I was feeling gross, at least something productive came out of it!

skinnytaste buffalo chicken japaleno poppers

Normally since we host bible study, we don’t contribute snacks. But this week we had SO MANY jalapenos that I knew there was no way I could eat on my own, so I threw together some buffalo chicken jalapeno poppers a la this recipe. They were seriously AMAZING. If you’re a buffalo fan and a jalapeno popper fan, go make these immediately. This plate was empty in about 10 minutes.

The rest of the evening was spent doing some more last minute studying before calling it an early night.

 

Saturday

I was up super early on Saturday morning (after a night of nervous, fitful sleep I might add), to head down to Richmond for my GREs. Not exactly my idea of a fun way to spend a Saturday morning, but it had to be done.

Thankfully after sitting for 5 hours in a freezing cold, windowless room staring at a computer screen and feeling my brain turn to mush, I was free! And I’m about 95% sure I did well enough that I’m not going to have to take it again, which I consider to be a major success!

The good news kept on coming after that, considering I came home to this lovely box on my doorstep!

Blue Apron
Yup, my Blue Apron box came!
Blue Apron

 

The rest of Saturday was spent helping my sister move into her new place in Fredericksburg, as she gets ready to go back to school. Which basically meant carrying lots of boxes, bags and mattresses up a flight of historic stairs. Yikes! Definitely got my workout in for the day with that one!

Sunday

Sunday started off a little differently for us than usual, as we dropped my car off at the shop (it was making some funny noises) and headed to an early church service.

Except unfortunately by the time we got out, we had a call from the service station that we were looking at over $1000 in repairs! Umm, excuse me?? I just had my car inspected last month, and there were no issues!

So we spent most of our afternoon talking with the service people (who think that my inspection might have been negligent, seeing as there is no way my entire break system could have gone out in a month), looking up parts and comparing prices, and trying tp figure out the best solution. In the end, we decided to wait on it until we could price a few things out, and talk to the shop that did my inspection!

Talk about a fun Sunday, I tell ya.

By the time we got home it was after 2pm and I was mentally exhausted, so I took a nice little power nap before getting some stuff done around the house.

By 6:30, I was ready to get my hands dirty in the kitchen, so I got to working on one of the Blue Apron meals – the pan-seared chicken thighs with baby zebra eggplant and fennel salad.

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Not before taking a kitchen selfie, of course!

Blue Apron

 

I’ll share more on my thoughts about Blue Apron later this week once I’ve gotten to try a few different meals, but I will say that it is off to a very good start.
Since it was a little bit of a nicer meal than we normally make, we decided to get a little fancy with some wine and candles and have our own little date night.

Blue Apron

We finished off the evening watching Man of Steel, although I had to call it quits with like 30min left because I was falling asleep! Wine totally gets me every time!

So not exactly the weekend I was expecting, but at least my GREs are done! Now if only I can get this car nonsense figured out…

So tell me: What did you do this weekend? Have you ever had crazy car troubles?

Five Favorites Friday: All the Tomatoes!

Happy Friday everyone!

Sadly my Friday is not exactly turning out as I originally planned. I’m currently home with what might be some kind of food poisoning, so you know, that’s lovely. No idea what I ate that was so terrible, but apparently it’s seeking its revenge. I’ll leave it at that.

Even better because I have to take my GREs tomorrow morning! Yikes! So please, PLEASE cross your fingers for me that this goes away before then. Because there is nothing that could make the GREs even MORE miserable than feeling like you’re going to puke through the whole thing.

FFFold

Anyway, on that lovely note, I’m going to talk about some positive things! In my usual Friday tradition, here are 5 totally random things that I have been loving this week!

I’m also linking up with Clare for Five on Friday and Katie for Friday Favorites!

Favorite Garden Surprise: All the Tomatoes!

garden tomatoes

When Chris said we were only going to plant 2 tomato plants this year (1 Roma and 1 cherry), I was a little worried that I would still need to buy tomatoes from the store some weeks in order to get my tomato fill.

HA. Clearly I was naïve.

Our tomato plants have literally taken over our entire garden and are trying to take over the rest of our backyard as well! It’s a tomato hostile takeover! And I just can’t beat them back fast enough!

This is seriously 1 week worth of tomatoes. ONE WEEK. I don’t know if you can see, but that’s literally like 30+ roma tomatoes and over a pound of cherry tomatoes. A WEEK. I just can’t keep up! I’m running out of things to make with tomatoes.

And you know what the most ironic part is? My husband, the master gardener, doesn’t even eat tomatoes. So these are all for me!

Favorite Recent Read: One Plus One by JoJo Moyes

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m part of a book club with a bunch of my girl friends. Once a month we meet to discuss our book club book (and chat and eat and chat some more), and then we pick a new book from our giant bag of book titles that we all contributed to. Well for the past few months we’ve been reading some heavy or sad books (i.e. Fault in our Stars, The Book Thief, etc), so this month we wanted something light and ended up with One Plus One by Jojo Moyes (<– affiliate link, FYI).

Now, first of all, this totally is going to be made into a movie someday. I’m calling it now. It has a really cute and quirky storyline about a single mom who is seriously down on her luck, and her crazy roadtrip adventure with a man she barely knows who is just trying to do something nice. There is a giant slobbery dog, some facebook manipulation, and even a love story – does that not scream “beach read”?

Overall I really liked this book for an easy chick-lit kind of read. It was definitely a nice change of pace. You just have to get past the British idioms, which was a bit of a struggle for my typo-focused brain! Haha.

Favorite Target Find: All things fall

fall beers

I know, I know – we still have more than a month left of summer, technically speaking. But if you ask me, fall starts when football season starts, which is in approximately 15 days. Which is actually A-OK with me, because not only is fall my favorite season of the year hands down, but I’m also a little bit over summer. I KNOW. Don’t hate me. It’s just been a busy one, and I could use some relaxing Saturdays spent watching football for 12 hours.

ANYWAY, earlier this week I was walking through Target when this lovely display caught my eye. Yes. Yes. Yes. To everything. Beer, pumpkin, fall, leaves??? Excuse me while I revel in my happy place.

Favorite Way to Brighten Up a Dreary Day: Bright Colors

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Despite the fact that fall is right around the corner, Mother Nature seems to be thinking that it’s springtime instead, and we’ve gotten a ridiculous amount of rain in the last week. Like torrential downpour, my-windshield-wipers-don’t-go-fast-enough rain.

After Day 2 of the dark and dreary weather, I was trying to do anything I could to combat the “I want to curl up with a good book and/or take a nap” feeling in order to make it through the work day. Including wearing this super bright yellow blazer and cheery necklace in the hopes that it would brighten my spirits. Verdict is still out on whether it worked…

Favorite Meal: Turning everything into Mexican food!

Mexican stuffed peppers

I love all things Mexican (see yesterday’s post for proof). I could eat it all day, everyday without every getting tired of it. It’s just so spicy and delicious! So when I looked into the fridge earlier this week and saw two big red peppers staring back at me, I had to figure out something to do with them. Which means I obviously had to make something Mexican.

So I threw in a little of this and that, covered it in cheese (real life, people) and shoved it in the oven, and then sat back and crossed my fingers. Thankfully it came out delicious, and got 2 thumbs up from Chris too.

Even better? Recipe coming at you next week, so stay tuned!

So tell me: What are you loving this week? What books are you reading?

Easy Taco Pizza

SURPRISE! A recipe!

It’s been a hot minute since I posted a recipe up on the blog! I swear to you that I HAVE been cooking! It’s just that between travels, and being busy, most of the meals I’ve made have been super simple or straight off of Pinterest. So while delicious, they’ve definitely been lacking a little in the creativity department.

But since I’ve been back, I’ve finally found my cooking mojo again, and I’ve got not one, but TWO recipes coming at you soon! What? Who am I?

But wait, there’s more! Not only are they new recipes, but they are also super quick and easy weeknight meals that can be made under 30 minutes! WINNING!

Thirty Minute Thursday

Quick, easy, and made in under thirty minutes? That’s how we roll around here. I ain’t got time to spend hours in the kitchen!

Today’s recipe was inspired by a coworker who brought in a taco pizza-of-sorts to work a little while ago, and it smelled so good I decided to make my own! It’s got all the regular taco fillings, just on top of a whole wheat pizza crust for easy carriage from plate to mouth. Laziness at it’s prime, people.

Side note – feel free to get all fancy and make your own pizza dough. That’s a little beyond my weeknight time limit, so I went with the handy Trader Joe’s version instead. But by all means, be fancy!

Taco Pizza

 

Easy Taco Pizza

 

Easy Taco Pizza
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Prep Time
15 hr
Cook Time
15 hr
Prep Time
15 hr
Cook Time
15 hr
Ingredients
  1. Pizza Crust (I used Trader Joe's Whole Wheat)
  2. 2 cans black beans
  3. 1/2 tsp cumin
  4. 1/2 tsp chili powder (to taste)
  5. 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (to taste)
  6. 1/2 tsp salt
  7. 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  8. 3/4 cup salsa
  9. shredded lettuce
  10. shredded cheese
  11. tomatoes, chopped
  12. jalapenos, chopped (optional)
Instructions
  1. Spread pizza dough onto baking sheet or pizza stone
  2. Use fork or blender to mix up black beans until mostly smooth. Add in spices until you get desired level of spice.
  3. Top pizza dough with bean mixture, and cook according to your pizza dough directions (Mine was 350 for 15 minutes). Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes
  4. In separate bowl, mix together salsa and greek yogurt. Spread on top of bean mixture.
  5. Top pizza with your favorite taco toppings, such as shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, lettuce, and jalapenos.
  6. Serve and enjoy!
My Freckled Life http://www.myfreckledlife.com/
 

See? It’s easy as cooking up the pizza and beans, and slapping on all your favorite taco toppings!

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Since life has been so crazy lately, I really have been all about the quick meals that make a ton of leftovers. This one was easy, flavorful, and produced enough food for dinner and several days worth of lunch! Plus it was Mexican food, and you all know I could eat that every single day of the week.

Now I’m off to go conquer this Thursday! I will be happy when the weekend finally hits and I can take some time to relax!

So tell me: what are your favorite taco toppings? Any good, quick weeknight meals you’ve been loving lately?

WIAW: Willpower(less) Edition

PSA: The death of Robin Williams is such a tragedy, and has definitely hit me harder than most celebrity deaths. He was such a staple in my childhood! But depression can be a horrible disease, and as someone who has seen friends and family suffer with some severe depression, I know how debilitating it can be. But please, if you or anyone you know is contemplating suicide, please PLEASE reach out to a suicide hotline like the National suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. There are people who can help you find a reason to keep living.

Wednesday already? Hallelujah! Coming back to work after being off for a week (even though I was on work travel) is always really rough, so I’m happy that this week seems to be going by quickly!
 
Honestly, there isn’t much that is exciting in my world right now (unless you count studying for the GREs as exciting. I most certainly don’t), so we’re just going to jump right into today’s post! Which I’m sure you can all guess by now…

 

Of course, it’s What I Ate Wednesday time! Everyone’s favorite day of the week!

If you’re not familiar with WIAW, it’s basically where bloggers share what they’ve been eating. It’s a great way to get some inspiration and see what other people have been munching on. If you want to see more about what WIAW is all about, or what some fabulous other bloggers are eating, I highly recommend you head on over to Jenn’s blog!

Breakfast

Oatmeal - healthy breakfast

Same old, same old. This combo just never seems to gets old to my taste buds! Oats with frozen berries, cinnamon, a touch of jam, and a scoop of peanut butter. Simple and delicious.

Lunch

Lunch - salad

I’m still on a salad kick, but I’ll be honest and say that I was less enthusiastic about my salad yesterday than usual. Maybe it’s time for a change in lunches again? Or maybe I just need to switch up my salad ingredients (anyone have any must-have salad toppers or dressings I can try?) This one included romaine lettuce, garden cherry tomatoes, cucumber, shredded carrots, Mediterranean feta, and poppyseed dressing. 

Snack

Snack - Apples and peanut butter

Snack was an oldie but a goodie for me – a pink lady apple and peanut butter. Pink Ladies are hands-down my favorite non-fall apples (nothing can beat a good honeycrisp in the fall!). Perfectly crunchy, and just the right amount of sweet.

Dinner

Dinner at Book Club

So, remember when I said yesterday that I was going to work on making healthier choices and eliminating excess sweets? Well… yea. I really sucked at that yesterday. Made me realize that my willpower isn’t as good as it was a few months ago, and I need to refocus a little bit.

I ended up eating dinner at Book Club, which included Chick-fil-a nuggets (SO good, I couldn’t keep my hands off the tray!) and cupcakes. Not really the greenest of dinners. What I SHOULD have done was save myself some room for a healthy smoothie or something when I get home. But instead I dove headfirst into the nuggets. Whoops! Definitely going to have to work on that for next time.

Hey, at least it was delicious?

Dinner at Book Club

Workout

Unfortunately due to the massive downpour that my area experienced yesterday, my workouts didn’t turn out quite as well as I’d hoped, but I tried to make the best of it. My normal lunchtime run was nixed thanks to the rain, and then my train was delayed due to flooding on the tracks, so I got home about 30 minutes after I normally do.

Since I only had about 35 minutes to get a workout in, I did a mix of 5 minute sprints on the treadmill and some core work.

Not too shabby of a day overall, but it definitely made me realize how low my willpower is right now after getting back into the habit of eating sweets. So I’m definitely going to have to work on that through the rest of August!

So tell me: What did you eat today? What did your workouts look like? Do you consider yourself to have a strong willpower?

End-of-summer Goals

Ok guys, so truth time.

I have been feeling really unmotivated lately when it comes to my workouts and healthy food choices.

I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been so busy lately that it hasn’t been as much of a priority, or if my focus has just been elsewhere, or if I’ve honestly just gotten a little lazy. Maybe a combination of them all. Maybe I’ve just let real life push me around a little bit until I’ve forgotten WHY I eat healthy and workout on a regular basis. Because as delicious as that extra helping at dinner is, or as nice as it feels to spend the evening marathoning Veronica Mars on the couch, at the end of the day they really aren’t going to make me feel good about myself.

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The reality is, I haven’t been making the best food choices lately (um, ice cream every night, anyone?) and have been getting a little lax on my workouts as of late. And that’s got to change.

So what am I going to do about it?

Ummm, good question.

I find, being the type A person that I am, that I work best under challenges or with goals. So even though it’s the middle of the month, in the middle of the summer, I’m giving myself a few goals to make it to Labor Day. This is a technique that I learned in college that really seems to work for me – short goals that seem less intimidating (because they only last for 2-3 weeks), but can make a huge impact when they become a habit.

End-of-summer Goals

1. Get back to drinking 64+oz of water a day.

I was really good about this at the beginning of the summer, and all my travel as of late has totally screwed that up. So I need to find my way back again.

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2. Cut out the excess sweets.

When I was on the 24DC, I got into the habit of turning to fruits or whole foods to fulfill my sweet tooth. Now somehow I’m back to ice cream and chocolate.

3. Get back into a consistent gym habit

Again, my travels have really thrown a wrench into my workout plans lately, and my gym going has been super sporadic. I need to find a way to get back into a consistent schedule and/or fit in workouts when I do get busy.

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4. Find a way to challenge myself

As I said, I work best on a challenge. But instead of doing something like the 24DC, I think I want to challenge myself to focus on my arms for the rest of the month. They are my least favorite body part to workout, so I have a bad habit of skipping out on arm days sometimes. But this month, that’s going to be my focus.

5. Find my inspiration again

I used to LOVE finding new workouts or recipes on Pinterest, or reading through magazines for inspiration. It got me pumped up and excited for my workouts and meal planning.  But lately I’ve been feeling blah about both. So I need to find a way to pump some inspiration back into my healthy living routine. Find a new blog or two? Find a new cookbook? I need to find something!

 

I’m hoping that with these new goals to make it through the last few weeks of August, I’ll be able to jumpstart my healthy living routine again. Because that is the good thing about healthy living – whenever you fall off the bandwagon, it just takes a little bit of effort to get right back on!

So tell me: What are your goals? How do you find workout and cooking inspiration?

Quality Time in the Low Country

Well hello, Monday, my old friend.

I have to admit that I’m definitely struggling a little more than usual on this Monday. A week’s worth of traveling, living out of a suitcase, and sleeping in multiple different locations will do that to you. I’m going to need a couple days to recover. and catch up on laundry…

Anyway, in case you haven’t guessed already, my traveling this week didn’t end with my trip to Chicago. In fact, it was only halfway done.

I flew back in to Virginia from Chicago around 4pm on Thursday afternoon. I then proceeded to leave Virginia again at about 7am the next morning to drive down to Charleston, SC for a friend’s wedding. I’m pretty sure at this point I’ve forgotten what my house looks like… I’ve barely seen it lately!

The Low Country

Once we got down to Charleston, Chris and I headed downtown to do some exploring and shopping! This was my first Charleston experience, and I was pleasantly surprised. It’s a really cute city! It reminds me a lot of Savannah in the cobblestone streets and historical feel of it. Definitely not your typical “city” of skyscrapers. Instead it’s full of brightly colored buildings with giant porches!

Thanks to the suggestion of some Charleston locals on Twitter (what would we do without social media?) Chris and I ended up at a restaurant that seems to be known only to the locals: The Wreck. It’s hidden WAY back in a little neighborhood, to the point that as we were driving I honestly said to Chris “are you sure we’re in the right place?”

But I’m so happy that we found it, because it really was a local gem. In true low country boil fashion, everything was served on paper plates, with no substitutions. Just throw everything on your plate and enjoy!

The Wreck - Charleston, SC

I ended up with the shrimp and scallop platter, which was paired with dirty rice (‘red rice’ down here), hominy, coleslaw, and a hush puppy. As hard as I tried, I just couldn’t finish it all!

The Wreck - Charleston, SC

Chris and I were nice and stuffed by the time we headed back to the hotel, and managed to get to bed early (which is probably what I needed considering how exhausted I’ve been from all this traveling!)

But we were still up bright and early to get ready for our friend’s Low Country garden wedding! And really, it doesn’t get more low country than this!

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Although considering it was like 100 degrees and sticky as anything, I’m thinking that an outdoor wedding, while beautiful, was probably not the most comfortable choice! I did make Chris take a picture with me before my hair turned into a giant frizzball.

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Despite the heat, the wedding was absolutely beautiful. It was definitely great to be able to spend the day celebrating with our friends!

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How sweet is this? He rowed her from the ceremony to the reception!

Too bad we definitely saw some gators in the water. No joke. I would be way too terrified to actually get in that swamp…

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This is about as close as I’ll get to a gator, thank you very much.

The rest of the afternoon was spent dancing, playing cornhole, enjoying some shrimp and grits, and hanging out with friends. That is probably my favorite part of having so many weddings to attend lately – you get to catch up with all of the people who you knew from college who have moved to different parts of the country! It was so fun to hear about all the exciting things that people are up to!

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Some delicious (and giant) cupcakes were also enjoyed. Please notice the frizzball hair at this point… it was HOT!

By the time we got home from the wedding, I was honestly just exhausted. We originally had some plans to go back into the city of Charleston and do some more exploring, but I was just kind of in the mood to put on my PJs and relax. So that’s exactly what we did. I think all that traveling finally caught up with me!

On Sunday we slept in a little bit before hitting the road and heading back to Virginia. Which meant that it was frozen pizza and beer for dinner, because that’s about all we had in our fridge after I was gone for a week!  You gotta do what you gotta do, right?

Overall, it was a pretty awesome weekend, but I’m definitely happy to be home and to get back into my normal routine. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was feeling a bit squishy after a week of eating on the road and no actual workouts (other than walking around sightseeing). I’m looking forward to getting back to the gym and my normal meals this week!

So tell me: What did you do this weekend? Have you ever been to the “low country”?

Experiencing the Windy City (Five Favorites Friday)

Well, I’m officially back in hot, sweltering Virginia! Even though it was a bit of a whirlwind trip, I had a great time getting to experience the Windy City, and managed to cram a lot into just a few days!

I wish I could say that I’m going to spend this weekend recovering, but sadly I’m just getting a few hours rest before I have to get ready for a friend’s wedding! Sheesh! I was really hoping that August was going to end up being the calm before the Football season storm, but it definitely is turning out to be a super packed month instead!

One of these days I swear I’m going to sleep in. Or at least, that’s what I keep promising myself every time my alarm goes off before 7am on a weekend…

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But since the weekend is almost officially here, let’s just right in to some of my favorites this week which are (of course) Chicago-themed!

I’m also linking up with Clare for Five on Friday and Katie for Friday Favorites! Go check them out!

Favorite Views in Chicago: The skyline!

Chicago Skyline

Seriously, how beautiful is that view?

One of the things that I made sure to do during my short stint in the city was take an architectural cruise down the river. For about 90 minutes, I learned all about the history of the city of Chicago, and got to take in some of the amazing views. Chicago is one of the few cities that has a unique mix of building styles, making it totally unique everywhere you turn.

Chicago Skyline

I love how you can look one direction and see a totally modern, steel building, and turn the other way and see a classic opera house. It was so fun to be able to take it all in! Definitely makes me wish I lived in a big city and could see views like this every day!

Favorite Thing About Chicago in the Summer: Perfect Weather

Chicago Skyline

Can we just talk for a second about the weather in Chicago? I mean, seriously? It was like 70 degrees every day. I had to wear a cardigan most of the time. In August.

It was glorious.

Literally the first thing I did when I walked out of the airport in Virginia? Took off my sweater. I literally put my stuff down on the sidewalk to take it off. Take me back to the beautiful weather!!

Favorite Thing to Check Out in a New City: Famous Landmarks

Millennium Park Chicago - The Bean

I mean, you really can’t go to Chicago without making a stop by the Bean. I ended up their twice – once in the moonlight and once during the beautiful sunshine. I don’t know what it is about the Bean that is just so cool.

Millennium Park Chicago - The Bean

Maybe it’s the fact that selfies are totally allowed.

Also, I have to say that besides the Bean, Chicago has some other weird art pieces. Like this giant head.

Millennium Park Chicago

Or these weird face fountains that spit water.

Millennium Park Chicago

I also managed to get TAKEN OUT by a little girl right after I took this picture. Complete with a tumble down a few stairs and some less than graceful flailing. I also managed to drop my cardigan directly into the gross water. I’m the queen of graceful, obviously.

Favorite Way to Explore a New City: Drinking Tour!

City Winery - Chicago

This makes me sound like such a lush, but the reality is that it can be really fun to drink your way through a new city (keeping it classy and within limits, of course!) I love trying out new local breweries, wineries, and distilleries, because they all hold something unique to the city.

During this trip I got the chance to check out City Winery, an urban winery and music venue that pairs the classic winery feel with an awesome, city feel. Plus they are bring in some awesome musicians and shows that you can enjoy with your wine!

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I also got to attend the Pints and the Past event with Goose Island Beer Company, which showed us how to pair a couple of their local beers with Indian Food. I would never have thought to put those two together, but Goose Island’s flavors and touch of spice to their beers matched so well with the unique Indian flavors! I loved it, and ended up having some great conversations about beer, cuisine, and life in Chicago!

Favorite Tour Guide: Blends!

The reason I got to try out some of these fun drinking venues was because I had an awesome tour guide – the lovely Becky from Olives ‘n Wine!

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First of all, can we take 2 seconds to talk about Becky’s arms? Girl, you need to teach me your ways!

Becky was sweet enough to meet up with me after I reached out to her asking what I should do in Chicago. She was super sweet, and over wine and beer we chatted about city life, our grown up future plans, and the blog world. That is one thing that I’ve really grown to love about the blogging community – there are so many great people out there that you get to meet, and because we share some common interests it’s like an immediate friendship!

If you haven’t checked out her blog already, I highly recommend it. She’s super real, and the perfect amount of snarky. I love it!

Well there you have some of my Chicago-themed favorites from my whirlwind trip to the Windy City! I am definitely going to have to find a way to get back there again sometime and do some more exploring – 4 evenings in the city just wasn’t enough!

So tell me: What is your favorite thing to do when you visit a new city? Are you a sightseer, a shopper, or a nightlife person?