Weekly meal plan #7 (Feb. 26 – Mar. 5)

I’ve been trying not to do a lot of repeats because that’s boring for you guys, but these meal plans are also supposed to be realistic – what we actually eat every week. And hey, we have favorites. When my husband says, “I love this recipe!” and I agree, I have to make it again the next week. Hence chicken tikka masala and turmeric cauliflower again. Crockpot pork green chile is another favorite, but I haven’t made it in a while.

Monday

I’m attending a meeting where dinner will be served.

Tuesday

I’m going to book club and eating there.

Wednesday

Veggie curry (I’ll add chickpeas for extra carbs).

vegetable-curry.jpg
Credit: Layers of Happiness

Thursday

Crockpot pork green chile over rice

pork-green-chile3-300x225
Credit: PaleOMG

Friday

Barramundi with Swiss chard and sweet potatoes

18-683x1024.jpg
Credit: The Better Fish

Saturday

Spicy garlic wings with gluten-free mac and cheese

Spicy-Garlic-Chicken-Wings-with-Blue-Cheese-Dip-l-SimplyScratch.com_-620x414.jpg
Credit: Simply Scratch

Sunday

Chicken tikka masala over rice and turmeric roasted cauliflower

ctm005-800x533
Credit: Mattawa Mum
turmeric-cauliflower_i
Credit: Marshfield Clinic Shine365

What are your household favorites that you make every week?

Stay fit,

Marisa

20 muscle-building snacks for gains!

If you’re someone who has no problem planning healthy meals but falls apart when it comes to snacking, this post is for you.

If you’re like me and drinking a protein shake or eating a protein bar makes you want to gag, this list is EXTRA for you.

Here are 20 muscle-building snacks. I included foods packed with protein, healthy carbs and good fats. No shakes or bars around here.

  1. Greek yogurt or Icelandic skyr
  2. Apple slices and Greek yogurt dip
  3. Cottage cheese and fruit
  4. Cucumber slices, cottage cheese with chives and pepper
  5. Peanut butter and apples, bananas or celery
  6. String cheese
  7. Jerky
  8. Apple, muenster and turkey roll-ups
  9. Hot spiced cashews
  10. Almonds
  11. Veggies and hummus or guacamole
  12. Bean chips and hummus or guacamole
  13. Hard boiled eggs
  14. Overnight oats with berries and walnuts
  15. Avocado toast
  16. Protein waffle with peanut butter
  17. Turkey and hummus lettuce wraps
  18. Lemon pepper tuna pack and crackers
  19. Olives
  20. Crispy roasted chickpeas

What are your favorite healthy snacks?

Stay fit,

Marisa

I think I have anterior pelvic tilt.

My hips have felt terrible for a long time. Lately, it has been worse. My hips feel very tight when I’m running. It’s shortening my stride and making me slow.

I thought I had been doing a pretty good warm-up before running – hip swings, lunges, runner’s stretch – so it has been pretty frustrating to feel like I’m not making any progress and for every run to feel like torture.

After doing some research on the good ol’ internet, I have concluded that I most likely have anterior pelvic tilt, and I need to fix it.

What’s anterior pelvic tilt?

Anterior pelvic tilt is a problem with your posture, muscles and ligaments that causes the top of your pelvis to be tilted forward. This happens to people who sit a lot because your hip flexors and rectus femoris (one of your quadricep muscles) shorten. According to Bret Contreras (The Glute Guy), some degree of anterior pelvic tilt is normal for athletes, and it may not cause any problems.

But sometimes anterior pelvic tilt does cause problems.

  • Lower back pain
  • Tight hips
  • Sway back that causes your butt and belly to stick out
  • Weak glutes/difficulty activating glutes during exercises

Why do I think I have anterior pelvic tilt?

The causes and symptoms I mentioned above apply to me. I sit all day for my job. Now that I work from home, I barely get up from my desk between 8 AM and 4 PM because I don’t have to walk around to talk to coworkers. If I do have to get up, I don’t go very far.

Tight hips are my main problem, but I have experienced low back pain in the past when I wasn’t doing anything to take care of my hips. I find it difficult to activate my glutes. I’m quad dominant. And if we’re being honest, I think improving my posture could help my abs look a little flatter.

Finally, there is a test you can do to check for possible anterior pelvic tilt. It’s called the Thomas Test, and you can read about it here. I took a video of myself performing this test and saw that one knee extends when I pull the opposite knee to my chest, confirming anterior pelvic tilt.

What am I doing to fix this?

To start, let me tell you what I was doing before this revelation. I was doing a lot of stretching. Sitting in pigeon pose, runners lunge, cobra pose and lots of others. Stretching helped a little bit, but I still had significant hip tightness because it was a temporary solution. The problem is my pelvis is trained to be tilted, my quads to be contracted and my hip flexors to be shortened. They return to those positions by default shortly after stretching.

The solution is to do strengthening exercises that bring the pelvis back into the right position. That means strengthening the glutes. I don’t think I have to completely abandon stretching, however. It can be hard to activate your glutes when your hip flexors and quads are extremely tight. For example, it can he hard to keep your pelvis from dropping during a glute bridge if you don’t have the range of motion to keep it forward. I think the key is a combination of stretching to allow your pelvis to move to a more neutral position and strengthening those opposite muscles to help keep it there. To achieve this, I have cobbled together this combination of strengthening exercises and stretches. I’ll also be cueing myself throughout the day to keep my core tight.

Glute bridge

glute-bridge-shutterstock_124035757-1024x683

Glute bridge with leg extension

images.jpg

Barbell hip thrusts

Walking spiderman with overhead reach

Dead bugs

Banded clamshells

90 90 floss (It’s the second video on the linked page)

Couch stretch with glute squeeze

Hip flossing

Stay fit,

Marisa

Weekly meal plan #6 (Feb. 20-26)

Wanna hear a crazy story?

Friday I was meal planning. I knew I wanted fish sometime this week and decided on lemon caper tilapia. I needed a carb: Quinoa. Veggie: Asparagus. Haven’t had that in a while. Saturday afternoon I was putting together this blog post and was feeling bad that I was just going to put ‘Lemon Caper Tilapia’ on the menu with no recipe because the point of the weekly meal plans is to make meal planning easier for you guys, and recipes help. I Googled ‘lemon caper tilapia’ hoping to find a recipe close to what I was planning to make.  Not only did I find exactly what I had been planning on cooking, the pictures on the blog showed the fish served over quinoa and asparagus. What’s more, the blog was one that I had just linked for the glazed carrots recipe.

Crazy, huh? No? Okay. Here’s the meal plan.

Monday

I’m going to a meeting with food and the hubby is having leftovers or whatever he manages to scrounge up.

Tuesday

Thai shrimp tacos

14224801802_91e2b349e3_c
Credit: Heather Christo

Wednesday

Turkey kielbasa, sauerkraut and potatoes

eZ4vxFP4TPtp2ebQpMJl_DSC_0117.jpg
Credit: Food.com

Thursday

Bacon-wrapped chicken stuffed with dates and blue cheese, whole roasted glazed carrots

The chicken recipe is an experiment! I’ll post a recipe next week if it’s good.

Whole-Roasted-Glazed-Carrots-620x413.jpg
Credit: Simply Scratch

Friday

Lemon caper tilapia over quinoa, asparagus

STAR-Pan-Seared-Tilapia-with-Lemon-Caper-Sauce-00.jpg
Credit: Simply Scratch

Saturday

Dinner out (I hope. Otherwise we’ll wing it.)

Sunday

Chicken thighs with bacon, Brussels sprouts and apple au jus

enhanced-21519-1425671438-9.jpg
Credit: BuzzFeed

What’s on your menu this week? Do you have any recipe suggestions for me? Want me to try one of your recipes?

Stay fit,

Marisa

 

Chicken broccoli cheese potatoes

Last week I made one of my favorite simple meals, chicken broccoli cheese potatoes, and promised to share the recipe. There’s something about this meal that reminds me of being a kid, or a college student, and it’s comforting.

Ingredients (for 2)

  • 2 medium-large baking potatoes
  • 1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
  • 1 small head of broccoli
  • 2 oz. smoked gouda chopped into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 T plain Greek yogurt
  • 2-3T milk of choice (I used unsweetened, unflavored almond milk)

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Pierce 5-6 holes in each potato and bake until done, about an hour and 10 minutes.

021617-potato3

While potatoes are baking, chop and steam broccoli florets. To do this, bring about an inch of water to a hard boil in a pot that fits your steamer basket. Place basket of florets in the pot, cover, and reduce to medium heat. Steam for about 8 minutes, until broccoli is bright green and easily pierced with a fork. You can also use steam bags of broccoli from the freezer section.

021617-potato1

Combine shredded chicken, gouda cubes, shredded cheddar, Greek yogurt and milk in a bowl. Cover with a paper towel and microwave for about 2 minutes, until chicken is heated through and cheese is melted. Stir to combine. I divided mine into two bowls, but one is fine.

021617-potato4

Slice cooked potatoes down the center and top with chicken/melted cheese mixture and broccoli. Add more shredded cheddar if desired.

021617-potato2

Weightlifting and better body image: A self-love story

In honor of Valentine’s Day, here’s a little self-love story about a selfie.

I took this selfie last week because that’s what people in my generation do. We take selfies. Come at me.

I wasn’t looking to share it. I was only hoping to capture myself at a moment in time and see how my body had changed since I jumped full speed ahead back on the power lifting bandwagon this year. I wasn’t too pleased with what I saw. Thick waist. Thick arms. Do you even have hamstrings? Do you even lift?

The selfie was soon forgotten as I went to the gym with a lot of anxiety about the heavy squats written in my program that day. Long story short, I progressed through my sets of heavy squats with ease and hit a new PR of 160 lbs. for one set of three with my trainer as a spotter/witness.

I looked at that selfie again while I was stretching after my workout. No longer did I see a thick waist and arms. I saw a badass strong woman with a bumpin’ booty and killer quads who just squatted 160 lbs.

This is why I lift. For me, and for a lot of women who lift, the pride of reaching an appearance goal or a body measurement goal could never compare to the sense of accomplishment we feel when we grow stronger.

This is what gets women hooked on weightlifting. My body image was in a dark place when I started, and I don’t think that’s unusual for women who start lifting. When you’re new, you hit PRs on PRs on PRs. It feels amazing. You want more. Your focus starts to shift solely from how your body looks to what it can do. By then you’re hooked and you keep lifting, even when the PRs start to slow. And soon enough, you’ll probably start to notice your appearance has transformed as well.

Stay fit,

Marisa

Weekly meal plan #5 (Feb. 13-19)

Between the chowder and spaghetti squash I made last week and the lentil soup I made the weekend before, my fridge has been overflowing with leftovers. I even froze some of the soup for future lunches so it wouldn’t go to waste. This week, I don’t want to make anything that will produce leftovers, so that’s how I designed my meal plan. The only thing that should give me leftovers is the pizza. I may have some chicken tikka masala left, but that won’t last long around here since it was on my husband’s request list.

Bonus: This week’s meal plan also has a mini-recipe for quick, easy steak tacos with garlic cream sauce!

Monday

Spinach cream cheese stuffed chicken wrapped in bacon, sautéed zucchini, salad

Spinach-and-Cream-Cheese-Stuffed-Chicken-Breasts3.jpg
Credit: To Simply Inspire

Tuesday

Valentine’s Day! Dinner out!

Wednesday

Steak tacos with kale and garlic cream sauce

For the steak: Mix 2 tsp chili powder and 1 tsp each salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and cumin. Coat thin flank steak with spice mixture and cook in a buttered cast iron skillet until medium. Slice and serve on a corn tortillas with massaged kale and garlic cream sauce.

For the cream sauce: Add 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, 4 cloves garlic, juice of 2 limes, salt, 1/2 cup sour cream and 1 T olive oil to a blender or food processor. Blend smooth.

Top tacos with avocado.

Thursday

Homemade pizza (just a standard pizza with pepperoni, onions and peppers on gluten-free crust)

Friday

Creamy honey mustard chicken with crispy bacon and broccoli

creamy-honey-mustard-chicken-recipe-3
Credit: Cafe Delites

Saturday

Air fryer chicken wings with gluten-free boxed mac and cheese

I spray the wings with a little olive oil and coat with salt, pepper, chili powder and garlic powder. I cook them at 360 degrees F for 25 minutes.

Sunday

Chicken tikka masala over rice with turmeric roasted cauliflower

ctm005-800x533.jpg
Credit: Mattawa Mum
turmeric-cauliflower_i
Credit: Marshfield Clinic Shine365

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are you chowin’ on this week?

Stay fit,

Marisa