Challenge Yourself to Be Better Today

When I began my fitness journey years ago, my main goal was to lose weight. Nothing groundbreaking about that one. How many of us are motivated by the idea of hitting a magic number on the scale? I definitely was.

When I took on weight lifting over a year ago, I had no idea how much I would grow to love it and embrace true physical strength. I moved past weight loss to hitting bigger numbers with a barbell. All I thought was, MORE.

But things changed, and more importantly, I changed.

I found myself on a plateau a few months ago. I made excuses to avoid working out and I didn’t get the same buzz from lifting. My diet changed too. There were fewer rainbows on my plate and it was more likely that I’d go for second helpings on french fries than spinach salad.

This needed to stop. I’d been exactly here before and I know what a slippery slope this can be. The upside is that the hard work I’d put in the last four years meant I was more in tune with my body.

Even though it was getting harder for me to stick to my healthier habits, I felt a strong desire to get past this hump and I had the tools and experience to get there.

My solution? Create new fitness goals.

Hitting a new RM at the gym not cutting it for me this week? That’s okay. Do something else. Find something that keeps you motivated and challenges you to tear down those limits. The trick is to keep experimenting until you figure out what works for you right now.

And so I did.

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I’m not going to be a champion swimmer or break national records at a powerlifting meet. I might never get to balance in crow position or properly do a headstand. That’s not what’s important.

What’s become essential for me on this journey is this: my only goal is to be better than I was yesterday. My only competition is with my inner critic that fights hard to keep me saying, “no, I can’t.”

Between yoga, lifting, high intensity interval training, and now swimming, keeping my nutrition in check has become vital.

So, I’ve dusted off the shaker bottles (and gave them a good soak because yuck) and jumped at the chance to try Vega Sport’s Performance Protein.

It’s fair to say that I’ve tried a broad range of products in an effort to find something that I felt good about putting in my body. I’m a research-aholic which means I’ll spend a long time looking at things from every angle before I give it a green light.

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A lot of the whey-based proteins I’ve tried were decent, but it drove me nuts how many of those products had tons of artificial sweeteners and additives.

Vega Sport Performance Protein is completely plant-based and is gluten & soy-free, which is a great alternative for vegans and those suffering from food allergies. It’s sweetened by Stevia, a healthier alternative to aspartame or other artificial sugars.

What really sold me was the added BCAAs (branch chain amino acids) to help boost muscle repair and recovery between workouts. This is usually a separate supplement, but Vega Sport saves time by adding this to their protein mix. Love it!

I’m more of a protein smoothie kind of gal, but I wouldn’t mind trying a mug cake or these strawberry protein waffles. Post-workout though, it’s straight to the blender for me.

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It was after a swim plus HIIT workout that I got to give this a shot, and it was so worth it.

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One word: YUMMO!

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No need to add any sweeteners here as the banana and protein does that for you. I highly recommend kale for the added health benefits, but if you’re not the biggest fan of this hearty green, then go with spinach.

Kale Blueberry #FuelYourBetter Smoothie

  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ cup of frozen blueberries
  • ½ frozen banana
  • 1 cup of fresh kale, stems removed
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 packet of VegaSport Protein

Throw all ingredients into a blender and puree into smoothie perfection. Note: If you’re using fresh fruit, then be sure to add 4-5 ice cubes. That’ll make it nice and frothy.

You’ve made the choice to start leading a healthier life? Awesome! Keep in mind that this is all a work in progress and success won’t happen overnight. You have to put in the effort every single day.

Ask yourself what feels right to you and align your goals with that vision. Do this often.

What feels right to you today, may not work in a few months or a few years, and that’s alright. Just be honest with yourself.

No matter how I choose to move, it feels amazing to know that I’m getting better every day.

How do you stay motivated to stick to your fitness goals? 

Do you take any sports supplements?

How do you #fuelyourbetter?

Disclaimer: Please note that I was not financially compensated for this review by Vega Sport or any affiliate companies or organizations. My opinions are my own and do not represent an official endorsement of Vega Sport.

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Golden Beet and Radish Arugula Salad with Pan-Seared Asparagus + BONUS EARTH DAY SMOOTHIE RECIPE!

Beet & Radish Salad with Asparagus

10 minutes. That’s what it took to put this beautiful salad together. 10. Minutes.

Beet & Radish Salad with Asparagus

Pan-seared asparagus. Doesn’t that sound so yummy? I can feel my stomach rumbling already.

And then you’ve got these beautiful golden beets. I’ve only ever had beets that were boiled or roasted. It was a little scary to go for them completely raw here, but I realized how silly that was.

For this week’s special Earth Day edition of my Meatless Monday series, I wanted to feature a quick, simple, nutritious, and most importantly, TASTY, salad that wouldn’t leave any sort of waste.

Beets and radishes pack a nutritious punch:

  • Beets are high in folate, manganese, potassium and fiber that help promote cardiovascular health, lowers your risk of cancer, and proper functioning of the brain.
  • Radishes are a relative of arugula and both are members of the cruciferous family which boasts cancer-fighting benefits, digestive health, and heart health.

When bought fresh, radishes and beets come with the greens attached. People typically hack off those leafy green tops and trash them. Note to the world:

DON’T THROW THE GREENS AWAY!

Not only are those greens edible, they’re filled with more nutritional benefits than the roots themselves. Radish greens contain much more protein, vitamin C and calcium than the small red bulbs.

Consider using them interchangeably with greens you’re more familiar with, like spinach or kale.

Beet & Radish Salad with AsparagusSomething important to keep in mind though is that you MUST soak these greens at least two or three times before using them. They’re covered in dirt in almost every nook and cranny. We don’t want to eat that.

Beet & Radish Salad with AsparagusIn an effort to go green by eating my greens, I’m sharing TWO recipes here using both the roots and leaves in different ways. I saved the beet greens for a saute later this week. Maybe I’ll make some tacos out of them? Now…there’s an idea.

Golden Beet & Radish Salad with Pan-Seared Asparagus

INGREDIENTS

Servings: 2

  • 4 cups of fresh arugula, rinsed
  • 1 large (or 2 small) fresh golden beets, greens trimmed (make sure to soak and remove dirt), peeled and sliced thinly
  • 2 radishes, greens trimmed (make sure to soak and remove dirt), sliced thinly
  • 1 small bunch of asparagus spears, cut into thirds
  • ½ cup of garbanzo beans, (if using canned beans, make sure to rinse and drain first)
  • 2 tbsps goat cheese
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp of balsamic glaze or vinegar (try to go for the glaze if available)

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Prep all veggies, by soaking beets and radishes (greens too!), and slicing thinly with either a mandoline or very sharp knife.

2. In a small bowl, mix asparagus with the oil, salt and pepper. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high flame. Once hot, add the asparagus and spread evenly across the pan. Allow it to cook on one side for 3-4 minutes or until they start to brown. Flip over and cook on the other side. You want to make sure they sear but don’t burn.

Beet & Radish Salad with Asparagus

3. Prepare salad in a large serving bowl. Add arugula, sliced beets and radishes, beans, crumbled goat cheese, and seared asparagus. Toss together and presto- you’re done!

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BONUS RECIPE!

MANGO PINEAPPLE RADISH GREENS SMOOTHIE

  • 1 cup of unsweetened coconut milk
  • ½ frozen banana
  • ½ cup of frozen mango
  • ½ cup of frozen pineapple
  • 2 tbsps hemp protein powder (you can sub in your favorite protein or flax seeds, chia seeds, etc)
  • 1 tsp agave nectar
  • 2 cups radish greens, soaked 3 times (so much dirt trapped in there!) and drained

Blend well together and you’ve got yourself a powerful nutrient-packed smoothie. And pat yourself on the back for not wasting any part of that produce by throwing it away.

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Looking for more radish or beet greens recipes? Check out these yummy ideas:

What do you do with your greens?

How are you going green for Earth Day?

Take part in the Meatless Monday Thunderclap by pledging here!

By taking the Meatless Monday pledge this Earth Day, you’ll:

  • REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide . . . far more than transportation. And annual worldwide demand for meat continues to grow. Reining in meat consumption once a week can help slow this trend.
  • MINIMIZE WATER USAGE. The water needs of livestock are tremendous, far above those of vegetables or grains. An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef. Soy tofu produced in California requires 220 gallons of water per pound.
  • HELP REDUCE FOSSIL FUEL DEPENDENCE. On average, about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S. Compare this to the 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein. Moderating meat consumption is a great way to cut fossil fuel demand.

(Shared from Meatless Monday Earth Day initiative)

As always, keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! 🙂

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Meatless Monday: Quick & Easy Aloo Gobi

 Quick & Easy Aloo GobiNew York City is damn expensive. This isn’t breaking news to anyone really, but I thought I should point that out, given that I write a blog with “NYC” in the title and happen to live in the most expensive city in the US.

And that’s verified by the way. In a recent report, Manhattan came in as #1 in with a cost of living index of 225.4 against a national index average of 100.

Ouch.

Given the price tags that often make me blink twice or cause a sudden wave of nausea to wash over me, I find ways to get creative with saving a buck here and there. This is where my kitchen and I become best friends.

I’ve experimented plenty with various gluten-free and paleo recipes in the past year, and those were all fantastic. But sometimes that gets a bit pricey too. One of the things I love about Meatless Mondays is that it gives my wallet a break by encouraging me to shop for produce in season and avoiding expensive meat, especially since I tend to go for leaner, pricier cuts.

Quick & Easy Aloo Gobi

The upside to living in New York (yes, there’s a plus here too, even though this place makes me want to pull my hair out sometimes), is that given the close proximity to so many different cultures, I can often try cooking different cuisines because I have the ingredients handy.

So I thought I’d give my favorite Indian vegetarian dish a try; Aloo Gobi. It’s healthy, with nutritious additions like cauliflower and tomatoes; it’s hearty and filling; and it’s really, really delicious. 🙂

I’m actually amazed at how easy this was to pull together, and also how fast. It was done in under 30 minutes! Plus the best part is that you can make a big batch, and have some leftover for a few days, which is great because the flavors really start to meld and intensify over time too.

Oh and in true budget cooking fashion, I was very pleased to see that this all came in at under $10. Do yourself a favor and invest in some spices. Some of them may cost a bit depending on what’s available in your area, but they’ll add so much depth to your dishes. It’s worth the cost in the longterm.

Quick & Easy Aloo Gobi

INGREDIENTS

serving 4; serving size, approx. 1 cup

  • ½  large cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 2 medium yukon potatoes, peeled and diced
  •  1 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes, no salt added
  • ½ large white onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp of ginger, peeled and minced
  • ½ bunch of cilantro, stalks chopped separately from leaves
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp chili powder (or chopped fresh green chilis if you prefer)
  •  1 tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ cup of water

DIRECTIONS

1. Melt coconut oil in a large non stick pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and cumin seeds to the pan and cook until the onions soften and become translucent. Then add the turmeric, coriander, salt and chopped cilantro stems and mix well.

2. Add the tomatoes, garlic and ginger and cook with the onion mixture for a few minutes.

Quick & Easy Aloo Gobi3. Add the potatoes, cauliflower, and water. You want to be sure the veggies are coated in the curry sauce so mix everything together well. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover with a lid. Allow it to cook for approx. 20 minutes or until the cauliflower and potatoes are fork tender.

4. Remove lid and add garam masala and chopped cilantro leaves. Stir and taste for seasonings; adjust as necessary. Then you’re done!  Serve while warm.

Quick & Easy Aloo Gobi Quick & Easy Aloo Gobi

I served this alone with no trimmings, but this would be great with some fresh whole wheat naan or chapati bread, brown rice, or if you really love cauliflower, then go for cauliflower rice as well.

(Note: Recipe adapted from Chuck Darwin at Food.com)

What’s your favorite ethnic cuisine?

Do you have a vegetarian recipe to share?

As always, keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! 🙂

 

 

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