Tuesday, April 14, 2015

5 Easy Meal Planning Tips

It's no secret that meal planning has a multitude of benefits. It's great in helping you stay on track, saves you time during the week, relieves the "what's for dinner" stress every night and saves you money just to name a few. But it can be a lot of work and if you're not planner (I am a big planner), it can be a bit of a challenge to think about what you want to for dinner tonight, let alone everyday for the next week. Ask my husband. He never knows. 


As hard as it can be though, it's a pretty important step when it comes eating and living a healthier life. So today, I want share a few tips, I find helpful when I sit down to meal plan for the week. 


Look at the next week's schedule 

Before you sit down and try to plan your meals for next week, take a few minutes to look at your calendar and jot down any events you have that may limit your time to cook a meal in the kitchen. Any days you have something going on, make sure plan easy, quick meals that either be prepped ahead of time or be thrown together in a few minutes. Crockpot meals are great for busy days. Just taking an extra few minutes before sitting down to plan can save you time in the planning stage, o on the day of an event when you realize you accidentally planned a time-consuming meal. Better yet, bring that calendar to the table, couch, desk, or wherever you're sitting down to meal plan. You'll be able to keep a constant eye on your plans for the week.

Take inventory of your cabinets and fridge


After you grab your calendar (or before if it's easier for you) take a peek at what you have left in your cabinets, refrigerator and freezer. See what you have and what needs to be used up. If you can't remember and don't want to keep getting up to check, jot the items down on a sheet of paper so you know to look for recipes containing those ingredients. Not only will eliminate some unnecessary food waste, but you will also save even more money buy not accidentally buying something you already have.

Plan dinner first

Dinner is often the hardest meal to plan. Dinner is more often than not the only meal where everyone sits down together at one time for a meal, so you have to plan around everyone's tastes and schedules, so start here.  Breakfast and lunch isn't usually like that. These meals can be vary in what's eaten by each person in the house. Starting with dinner though, not only allows you to get the hardest meal out of the way first, it can also pave the way for lunches. If your house is like ours, there's almost always leftovers from dinner. If you plan a meal that you know is going to have leftovers, you automatically have lunch for the next day, making planning for lunch that much easier. 
If you're worried about what everyone else will eat for lunch, plan out something for them. In our house, I don't intentionally plan out breakfasts or lunches for the kids or my husband. I always make sure there are healthy options for each of those meals to choose from and allow them to pick. For example, I have cereal, eggs, homemade instant oatmeal packs and fruit on hand, so the choice is up to them what they have. I also make muffins, baked oatmeal or pancakes (healthier versions) on Sundays as well that they can choose from. These items will freeze well and I can just pop them in the toaster oven for a quick weekday breakfast. But allowing my kids to choose brings me to my next point.

Ask your husband and kids what they want

I know it sounds obvious, but trust me when I say it's not always thought about. When I first started meal planning, I never really asked my family what they thought they might like for dinner the next week. It wasn't intentional but I didn't really think they cared to have an input or about what we were having. It wasn't until one particular week that I was having a hard time with coming up with some meals. I wanted something different, but didn't know if anyone else would eat it. I went to TJ asking if he would be willing to try a particular meal and it wasn't appealing to him at all, but he did suggest another meal I hadn't made in a long time and just kind of forgot about. Then Dylan asked if we could have some black bean and corn quesadillas, a dinner he loves. And just like that I had 2 of our dinners planned and 2 lunches, since both meals were ones I knew would have leftovers. Since then I've made it a point to ask what they would like for dinner the next week. Admittedly, I don't always ask, but it's great knowing when you're stuck for an idea, your family can probably think of something you haven't thought about in a while. 

Be flexible

Seriously, it's fine if you come home after a hard day at work and you don't want cook that lasagna you had planned . It's also ok if you planned chicken on Tuesday and pumpkin pasta (a favorite in our house) on Friday, doesn't mean you can't switch the days since you forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer last night. It happens. It's happened to me on many occasions. A meal plan doesn't mean you can't be flexible with it.

With healthy staples hand, you can always make some nutritious and healthy. If you have fresh veggies in the house, a simple salad is always an easy and quick option for nights you don't feel like cooking. 

Schedule in a leftover or "Fend for yourself" day

These are great to have at the end of the week when a week of work has worn you out and cooking is the last thing you want to do. They are also great for busy nights where it seems like everyone has something going on. This became huge for us. Not only did it immediately take my dinner planning down to 6 dinners, it also gave us the chance to use up any leftovers we have in the fridge before the grocery shopping trip. Since my kids aren't old enough to make their own dinners yet (that will be changing in the fall with Dylan. He will be learning to cook more), I can heat them up any leftovers from the week, make them a sandwich or anything else they find interesting. This is also when they can choose, with a little but of guidance of course. 

Meal planning doesn't have to be hard or too terribly time-consuming (unless of course you're new recipe hunting on Pinterest), but it does take a little bit of patience and a little work. Give it some time and I bet after you consistently meal plan for a month, you'll have it down, and may even know what it's in your cabinets and fridge without having to check.

Do you meal plan each week? What's your favorite meal planning tip? Share it with me below and maybe I'll share your tip on a future meal planning post, or on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. 

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Changes Are Coming

Have you ever noticed when one aspect of your life changes, it has an affect on others? Or at least makes you look at other aspects of your life differently. The last 6 months or so have done that for me. We've know for a while that our lives were about to change in a big in 2015. And those changes have slowly started happening.
One change that was never mentioned was our temporary move to an apartment here in Savannah. The owner of the house we were renting really wants to sell his house. He has been gracious enough to extend our lease to allow TJ to finish school. That was also when we originally thought we would be moving. When we realized TJ couldn't start school until August, due to GI Bill caps, we knew we'd be living here longer than planned, so in effort to save a little money and allow the owner to finally put his house on the market, we found a small apartment with a short term lease.
But that's just one change that has started happening for us. Another change for us is a more ongoing, can-be-done-anywhere type of change. And that's our continous move to become a healthier family. Admittedly, it's more me than anyone else, but I figure what I can do to help my family is a step in the right direction.

I've shared my definition of healthy before and that still holds true. I think it encompasses more than just fitness and nutrition. It's about health and wellness as well. And the more I research, the more I realize I want to take this blog in that direction. I want to share the ways in which we are becoming a healthier family through healthy eating, fitness, using natural products, taking steps to reduce our carbon footprint and more.
I'm not claiming to be an expert but I'm learning and researching and I want to share with you what I find out. So over the next few weeks (or possibly months) this blog is going to go through some changes. It will be less focused on fitness and more on overall health, which of course does include some of the some same topics as before, but I want to expand to more topics about how all of us can achieve the best version of us possible. 

Does that mean perfection? Absolutely not! There will be treats and "cheats" if you will along the way. Indulgences are ok in moderation and I will definitely be doing just that You should too, but it's more about being a better person overall. 

What else does that mean for the blog? Well, I'm working on a new name (which is a lot harder than I thought it would be) and a new design and that may take a while. I have a vision in my head and I want to work hard to achieve that vision. I want have the information you want on the blog in an easy-to-find way that keeps you coming back. I want to find a way to allow you to connect with each other to help and answer questions. It's going to take a while and will be a work in a progress, but I am excited about the changes that will be taking place. 

 Being healthy is about the mind, body and soul and that's what the future of this blog will be about.

What are you interested in seeing on the blog? What types of health and wellness topics interest you most?
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Monday, April 6, 2015

Finding The Time

One of the most common excuses a person gives for not working out is not having enough time. Be honest with yourself for a second, have you ever used that excuse? I know I have. More times than I can count. In fact, I've used it non-stop for the last several months. 

I'm not proud of this, but it is the unfortunate truth. Over the last several months, things in the Jackson house have been so busy and they're only going to get busier. I know this. And I allowed that busyness to become my excuse for not working out. I allowed that busyness to become my excuse for quick, easy, no-so-healthy meals for my family and I.

But I want it to end….now! I have been doing a lot of researching on ways to have a healthier life for myself and my family. A common theme among article after article is making it a priority. And that's my plan. We will become a healthier, more active family. I will have a healthier, more active blog (that's a topic for a whole other post, which will be coming in the very near future) to share with you and to give my kids a look back on. 

But that starts small. And I'm starting small with me. This week is Spring Break. My kids are visiting their grandparents so it's just TJ and I in the house. I am taking the opportunity to make working out and eating healthy a top priority again. 

I have already planned healthy meals for him and I, and yesterday was spent meal prepping so nutrition-wise, we are ready for the week. And I'm getting back into my workout routine with a brand, new round of 21 Day Fix (and yes the meal planning is following the 21 Day Fix meal plan). Since it has been a while since I've worked out and I am still limited on time, I thought 21 Day Fix would be the perfect fit to jump back in. 

And boy did it kick my butt this morning. Not to self: Working out after a long hiatus proves just how much fitness you lose and reaffirms that you don't want to consume your life with excuses anymore. I definitely had a hard time this morning but made it through and know as long as I make exercise a priority, I can get blow oast the fitness level I was at before. 

Have you take fitness breaks before? What is your most commonly used excuse for skipping workouts?

How about a question for a future post: What does being healthy mean to you? Is it just fitness and nutrition or is it more?
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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Workout Funk

If you follow me at all, you know there hasn't been much to follow in a while. Life has seriously gotten the better of me and I have been pretty non-existent from the blog world. 

Without boring you to death, I'm going to make this as short as possible. My last post was oh, in August. Not cool, Sabrina, not cool. I had no idea, just how busy the Jackson house was going to get at that point. TJ started his final two quarters at SCAD (and as of this morning is just 3 short days away from being a college graduate!) and I started my first full year with the school system. 

On top of those, which can be hectic enough, we had to start thinking about life after SCAD and where were going, when and how we were getting to that point. We made plans, we started researching, and then it all changed. During our research and planning, came events, school projects and lots of time away from home for TJ, followed by holidays and a second job for me and more hours for TJ at his job. November and December seriously feel like a blur at times. 

We actually started thinking that January would feel like a tiny break. We began to finalize where we would be moving, my second job ended (it was just for the Christmas season), and TJ was in the swing of his new work hours. I look back to just 10 weeks ago and can't believe TJ is just 3 days away from being done with SCAD. Life did not slow down, and while our new home state hasn't changed, the time frame has, so we found ourselves yet again, in another minor dilemma about where we would be heading after TJ graduates (our lease is up at the end of the month). 

I can semi-breathe easy now, knowing we have found a place that has agreed to allow us to sign a short-term lease at a reasonable price, we have a moving company booked for the end of the summer and TJ is set to start a short certificate program in the fall. Now, my focus is getting a house packed in a way that will allow us to unpack as few boxes as possible for a short 5 month stay in a new apartment. This stubborn chick refuses to pack an entire house twice in 6 months. lol.

Sadly, with all we had going on, taking care of me slipped away. Workouts faded as well as healthy eating. It wasn't intentional, but I was so exhausted by the end of the day, I wanted to relax and do nothing. And now my motivation is gone. I'm in a workout funk.

I'm hoping that's about to change though. I signed up for The Biggest Loser at work. We'll be competing against each other for a chance to earn some cash. Who doesn't want to earn some cash? In all honesty though, I know based off my size, I won't be the one to earn the money. But I figure the mere fact that I have to weigh in with the school nurse every Friday, might be enough motivation to do more and eat healthier. It runs until the beginning of May and I'm hoping it's the kickstart I need to my butt back in gear. And I really want to get back to blogging. I enjoy it and sharing my journey to healthier me. 

Thank you so much for sticking around and if I've sparked your interest about where we're moving and what's going on with us in the near future, check out this post on our family blog. I'm sure I'll share bits and pieces here and there, but the full details will always be found there.

Have you ever been a workout funk? What did you do to get your motivation back?

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Week 1 Half Marathon Training Recap….and MORE!!!

We're back to another Monday, but instead of relaxing by the pool taking a trip to the beach, I am back to work today. I can't believe the summer is over already. It's crazy how fast it went. But I'm excited to be back and I'm working on my room and getting things ready for Open House. 
I also can't believe I'm on Week 2 of half training. I'm only going to talk about my training briefly since I did share my runs in yesterday's post, but it went really well. I had some really good runs and am pumped for this week's training. My pace was slow but it needed to be. I will get that up.
I also wanted to share something exciting with you. I have just become a #SweatPink Ambassador. 


The Sweat Pink program by Fit Approach is a movement founded by Jamie and Alyse. It's a community of women who are passionate about health and fitness, who are here to inspire and empower women to reach for their goals through healthy habits. It's a community of women who are bold and want to lift others up and help people. It's where tough and pretty meet. 

I am so excited to be part of an amazing group of women that wants to help women become the healthiest person they can be. It's exactly what I strive to do and I can't wait to see where this takes me.

Have you seen the sweatpink hashtag floating around Instagram? What do you think is something empowering women can do to help each other?

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Schweaty Sunday #8

We're back at another Sunday, and not just any Sunday. Today is my last day off before I go back to work tomorrow. While I'm excited to get back to work, I'm also wishing I had a few extra weeks off. I sure am enjoying the time home. I've been spending quality time with TJ and the kids and getting in some great workouts. Speaking of, here's this week's workouts.


Sunday

PiYo:Core. It was definitely a little tougher than I thought but a pretty good way to spend a Sunday.

Monday

I officially began half marathon training with a 3 mile run. I finished the day's workout with some PiYo: Upper Define.



Tuesday

It was new workout day!! PiYo: Buns…wow, what can I say! That workout kick some serious booty, but there was something about it I really liked and am looking forward to doing again.

Wednesday

It another 3 miler today that wasn't bad at all. I maintained my pace, which isn't back to where I was before taking my little running hiatus but it was still a good run, and fir the first time, I had negative splits. Wahoo!!! I came home to do another round of PiYo: Core for the week to round out my day.

Thursday

It took it easy today. Knowing the weekend was going to be full of tougher and longer workouts, after some PiYo: Lower Define, I called my workout for the day done.



Friday


Today was a rest day from PiYo, but I had another 3 miles on the schedule for my half training. I actually didn't want to go. For whatever reason, I just wasn't feeling it, but I went anyway, and I'm glad I did. It went really well and I felt fantastic. It left me with a good feeling for Saturday's long run.

Saturday

Phew! My first long run of half training; a good 5 miler. My target pace was 11:19-11:40. I didn't hit but I pushed myself and I was faster than any of the other runs I had this week, so I was quite happy with it. Once I got home, I still had PiYo to do. Sweat was up today, and boy did I sweat. LOL!! My legs were on fire after the workout. Between a 5 mile run and Sweat, I had some shaky legs when I was done. LOL!


How was your week of workouts? Did you try anything new? How about start training for a fall race?
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Health and Fitness Group

Good morning! I can't believe we're at Thursday already. I also can't believe that I go back to work in just a few short days. This summer has flown by and while I love my job, I wouldn't mind a few more weeks soaking up some family time. But alas, all good things must come to an end. 
But what's not coming to an end yet? Half marathon training and PiYo. While I just started half marathon training, I'm almost to the heart of PiYo. And if you follow me on any of the social media sites, then you know what kind of workouts I'm doing. Some of you may have even commented or liked on them. You have no idea what that means to me when you do. To know you follow me and enjoy when I post my workouts just gives me motivation to do more. I also love checking out workouts that other people have done. It's great seeing so many people getting out and living healthy lives
It's this motivation and inspiration, along with the health and fitness groups I am part of on Facebook to start my own group. And I want to invite you to participate. 


What exactly is it?

I'm so glad you asked. It's a Secret Facebook group for anyone who is looking for support, motivation, encouragement in health and fitness. I feel that becoming a healthy person isn't just about diet and exercise but it also incorporates our mental health, our relationships and our enviroment. In this group, I want people to not support, encourage and motivate each other, but I want us to all learn and become more knowledgable in living a healthy lifestyle. I want us to be able to teach other and help each other become the best possible person we can be. 
This group is a judgement-free place where you can share your goals, your why, your accomplishments and ask advice on situations and problems you're looking to solve. This group will be what you make of it.

What can I look forward to seeing in the group?

I want this group to have information you want to know about. I plan to hold a challenge each month in an effort to help us all achieve healthy lifestyles. The challenges will range in variety from nutrition challenges to fitness challenges to mental challenges. I will share tips, motivational posts and articles, healthy recipes, workouts and more. I will ask you what you want to see and learn. I want you engaged and involved in every step. That does not meant you will have to participate in every challenge though. Those are just fun ways to get us to all step outside of our comfort zones. But who knows, maybe some of the challenges will have proxes, so it might be worth participating in.

How much does the group cost?

FREE!!! It costs you absolutely nothing. 

Are you interested? I'd love to have you join me. Just leave me a comment below, click here to join the group, email me here or at workitmsjackson@gmail.com for more details. 


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