7 Principles of Healthful Eating

The key to maintaining a healthy diet is understanding how to eat right in the first place. The diet industry could not be more confusing with its conflicting views, fad diets and continuous altering of information.

In reality, a healthful diet is actually quite simple. Once you know the basics you can alter it to fit your lifestyle and your taste buds. Here are 7 principles of healthful eating.

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Eat Real Food

In general, you want to be sure you are consuming whole, nutritious foods such as in-season fruits and veggies, whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, etc.), whole grain bread/pasta, lean meats, Greek yogurt, hummus, nuts and seeds, all natural nut butters, organic eggs, beans, and water.This is not a definite list but a general idea of good foods to consume.

For the most part try to avoid processed/boxed foods, sodas and other sugary drinks, fast food, fried food, white bread, refined pasta, canned foods, chips, and candy.

The 80/20 rule

While it is important to get the majority of your calories from clean foods, there has to be some room for treats, otherwise you will be miserable and probably won’t last too long on the diet. A general rule of thumb is to eat clean 80% of the time and treat yourself the other 20% of the time. Allow a small treat every day or every other day, or allow for a big treat a few times per week.

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Eat Less Meat

While meat offers a good source of protein, iron and vitamin B12, it also packs a lot of saturated fat and cholesterol. For this reason, meat should make up a small majority of your diet. For the most part the baseline of a healthful diet should consist of grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables; think Mediterranean diet. Nuts, beans, and whole grains are all great replacements for meat as they contain a lot of protein with better (or no) fats and a lot of fiber.

Reduce Sodium and Sugar Intake

While both sodium and sugar are essential parts of the human diet, it is safe to say that most people get more than enough. How can we avoid eating too much? First of all, staying away from the boxed foods is a start. These foods typically contain a huge amount of added sodium or sugar, especially if the labels read “low-fat” or “non-fat.”

Try to avoid adding extra salt while cooking; remember that a little bit can go a long way. Use flavorful spices and a lot of fresh herbs to count for a lack of salt.

It is also wise to limit fruit intake to 1-2 servings per day, as many fruits contain a lot of sugar. Instead of reaching for an apple, go for a serving of berries as they are known for their low sugar content.

Wholesome Grains

Replace refined grains such as white bread, white rice, white potato, white pasta with whole grains. Whole grains are foods like steel-cut or rolled oats, brown rice, sweet potato, whole wheat bread/tortilla/pasta, quinoa, couscous, whole grain barley, lentils, etc.

Instead of white toast in the mornings try having some oatmeal and berries with your eggs. Instead of croutons add some quinoa to your salad. Try some brown rice on the side for dinner.

Healthy Fats

245470Many people are confused about fats. Fats are an extremely important energy source for the body and the brain. There are two important things to know about fats.

1) You want to know which fats are good for you. The “bad” fats are saturated and trans fats which are found in foods like dairy, beef products, palm and coconut oil, butter, and fried foods. The “good” fats are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats which are found in foods such as nuts and seeds, nut butters, vegetable oils, oily fish like salmon, avocado, olives, etc.

2) You need to know that fats contain more calories per gram than do carbohydrates and protein. So, although fats are extremely beneficial, you need to ensure you are not over-eating them. I will discuss this next.

Watch Portion Sizes

The easiest, and really only, way to gain extra unwanted weight is by eating too much. While unhealthy foods may be the culprit of various diseases, calories are the one and only culprit of weight gain. No matter what you are eating you need to have an understanding of healthy portion sizes. Does that mean you need to measure everything you eat? Certainly not. Here are some general tips.

  • Women should have about 3-4 oz of meat or a portion of meet the size of your palm
  • Carbohydrates (rice, beans, quiono, etc.) should be between ½-1 cup or a portion the size of one cupped-hand.
  • Because they are so low in calories yet high in nutrients, there is no limit of vegetables. In general about 2 cups, or two cupped-hand sizes is recommended. Shoot for a lot of leafy green vegetables.
  • Have 1 medium sized whole fruit or 1 cup (or size of a cupped-hand) of berries
  • Consume about 1 oz, or a serving the size of your thumb, of nuts/oils.
  • The portion size for nut butters is 1 tbsp per serving.
  • Listen to your body: eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full.

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To sum it up 

The majority of your diet should consist of real, whole foods

Limit processed and junk food but do not completely cut it out. Follow the 80/20 rule.

Try to consume less meat and more beans and whole grains.

Be aware of your salt and sugar intake.

Replace refined grains with wholesome grains.

Pay attention to the type and amount of fats you consume.

Be conscious of portion sizes.

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Spice It Up! 8 herbs and spices that are good for your health

All too often we hear the complaint that healthy food is boring. It’s true. Healthy food, on its own, can be quite bland and flavorless. But I have a trick for you that will get your food tasting delicious without added fat and calories (for the most part). Welcome to the world of spices and herbs.

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Surprisingly enough, many spices and herbs are packed with nutritional benefits. Historically, many were celebrated for their medicinal benefits even before they were put to culinary use. Not only are they great for your health but they pack the punch that your food might just need.

 

Here are 8 of the healthiest herbs and spices that will bring your food from dull to delicious.

1. Cinnamon

 

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A fall favorite, cinnamon has a warm and spicy flavor that works well with cloves, nutmeg, all spice, nuts and fruits. Studies have shown that cinnamon may help people with type 2 diabetes to control their blood sugar level. Adding up to 1 tsp of cinnamon to food can lower spikes in blood sugar after that meal.

2. Sage

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Sage tea can be great to sip on if you have a sore throat or upset stomach. Current research also suggests that it may help to improve brain function and memory, particularly the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. In one study, college students were given sage extracts in a capsule for before performing a memory test. These students performed significantly better than those who did not take the capsule and they also experienced improved mood.

3. Rosemary

 

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Rosemary is most often used in marinades and in cooking meets to add flavor. It pairs very well with lamb, potatoes and citrus flavors. It has anti-inflammatory effects that can help to relieve allergies and nasal congestion symptoms. Rosemary oil also has some stress-relieving benefits and is often used in aromatherapy.

4. Turmeric

 

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With its beautiful yellow color, turmeric has a peppery and warm flavor and pairs well with curry and ginger dishes. Curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Its anti-inflammatory trait is so strong that it actually matches some anti-inflammatory drugs. It can help to relieve pain from arthritis and injuries, and may play a potential role in managing heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

5. Cayenne Pepper

 

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Cayenne pepper is a type of chili pepper used to spice up dishes. But be careful…you only need a little bit! This spice is very popular for reducing appetite and inducing fat burning. It is commonly used in tea as a weight loss method. Although it is true that cayenne pepper revs up the metabolism, it is not significant for long-term weight loss. Studies have shown that those who are accustomed to spicy foods often don’t experience this effect, indicating that a tolerance can be built up. There are links to possible anti-cancer benefits in animals but this has not been proven in humans.

6. Ginger

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Ginger pairs well with curry dishes, citrus, soy sauce and spice. 1 gram or more of ginger can help to treat nausea and upset stomach, including nausea caused by chemotherapy. It also has strong anti-inflammatory effects and may help with reducing arthritis pain and some cancers. One study found that ginger extract injections helped to relieve osteoarthritis pain of the knee.

7. Saffron

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One of the most expensive herbs in the world, saffron is actually the dried stigmas of flowers. Its deep auburn color is often used to add color to dishes. It has a sweet flavor and pairs well with rice and shellfish. Saffron can be used to uplift mood and can even help treat mild to moderate depression. It can also help to regulate periods for women who experience irregularity and a saffron herbal supplement can help with menstrual pain and cramps.

8. Mint

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Mint leaves are wonderful, particularly during the warmer weather, as a refreshing burst of flavor that can be added in beverages or summer salads. It can also help brighten up a dense dessert. Aside from providing a wide range of traditional nutrients, it can not only relieve stress with its scent but can also help with easier breathing in people with asthma and allergenic rhinitis. Peppermint is also a stomach soother and can help alleviate the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

 

Tips on how to use spices and herbs

I will leave you with a few quick tips on how to incorporate herbs and spices into your healthy dishes.

  • Avoid overwhelming a dish with too many seasonings, rather use seasonings to bring out the foods natural flavor
  • Never use two very strong spices/herbs together. Always mix a strong with a mild
  • Use dry herbs early in the cooking process and use fresh herbs at the end
  • Don’t randomly use seasonings; do a little research and find what works well together
  • Don’t overuse salt; use healthy spices and herbs to flavor your dishes

Fit Muslim Girl Recipe: Blueberry Pecan Protein Pancakes

First off, don’t mind the super amazing photograph of my pancakes…I have awesome photography skills if you can’t tell ;). Just kidding, I try to take professional-looking pictures but my lack of artistic skills always stands in the way. But they still look delicious right? I hope so!

 

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Anywho, if you’ve ever taken a look at my recipes on fitmuslimgirl.com you know that I am in love, maybe a little obsessed, with protein pancakes! I love them because you can really do so many different things with them and they taste so good…you would never know they are healthy! I experiment with different kinds of pancakes all of the time, and these may be one of my favorites.

 

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Blueberry Pecan Protein Pancakes 

Yeilds 1 serving (2-3 pancakes)

 

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 cup wheat four
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp non-fat blueberry flavored Oikos Greek yogurt (you can use any kind of yogurt but I find this brand tastes
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 2 tbsp Stevia in the raw
  • 1 tsp halal vanilla extract
  • dash of cinnamon
  • small handful chopped pecans

Instructions

  • In a mixing bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, stevia and cinnamon.
  • Add the yogurt, egg, almond milk, and vanilla into another bowl and mix.
  • Then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until everything is incorporated together.
  • Fold the blueberries into the batter (put a small handful off to the side for topping later).
  • Take two or three even scoops and scoop the batter onto a hot griddle sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Cook on one side until the batter on top starts to bubble, then flip and cook on the other side.

Toppings

Sprinkle the chopped pecans and leftover blueberries over the top of your cooked pancakes.

As for pancake syrup you can really use any kind of syrup you’d like but I prefer to stay away from sugar free. You can also replace syrup with honey or agave. A good idea, is to heat up some maple syrup (or honey/agave) in a small saucepan mixed with the leftover blueberries to create a compote. So delicious and it’s a great method for using less of the sugary syrup because you get all of the juices from the blueberries!

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Lessons from Experience: Tips for Living a Healthy Lifestyle

My knowledge of health and fitness stems far less from any education or certification than it does from my own personal experience. I will never consider myself a master in this field because I believe that there is always more to discover. However, I have learned quite a bit through my journey. The road to where I am today was long and hard. I started off not knowing a single thing about healthy eating or exercising, and just began learning on my own, step by step. I experienced many falls and discouragements. There were times when I didn’t believe in myself at all. I even fell into some very unhealthy habits in a desperate attempt to look good. But each time I fell I got back up. And these falls have taught me some of the most beautiful lessons.

 

I truly believe that the lessons and the strength one gains through a healthy lifestyle permeate into even the most intricate facets of life to allow for growth in all senses of the word. For this reason, I want to share with you some of the important lessons I’ve learned on my path to a healthy lifestyle.

Lesson 1: Listen to Your Body

 

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Beginning a healthy lifestyle is really a decision to respect your inner body. It’s about a desire to feel good, to age well, to set an example. We should always take the greatest care in paying attention to what our bodies are telling us. Whether you get injured, or are feeling discomfort in a certain area, take the time you need to recover. Don’t ever force your body into something that doesn’t feel right. Injuries, pulled muscles, pain and other restrictions are inevitable with regular exercise. Be sure you understand your body and treat it with the respect it deserves.

 

Lesson 2: Practice Consistency

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If you are not consistent with diet and exercise, your results will be inconsistent as well. Fitness is a lifestyle, which means it needs to become a habit in order for us to reap it’s amazing benefits. Coherence to a regular routine of balanced eating and exercising is what will get you feeling your best. Practice a healthy lifestyle everyday to form that habit. Of course you will get off track from time to time, maybe a lot at first, but keep bouncing back and with time you will start to notice the changes to both your inner and outer being.

 

Lesson 3: Find Your Why

 

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A healthy lifestyle is not possible without a why. You need a reason, a motivation to push your body and mind to their limits. What is your why? Try to find a deep-seated incentive, rather than a superficial one. Of course, we all want to look good, but there needs to be something more. If it’s all about looks, trust me, it won’t stick. Maybe you want to be in-shape so you can run around with your children. Maybe you are at an unhealthy weight and you want to become healthy enough to live a longer life. Maybe you want to set an example for your children or your family. Maybe you want to feel more energized and full of life. Whatever your reason, make sure it is unique and important to you.

 

Lesson 4: Be Patient

 

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Patience is a virtue. There is a reason why Allah (swt) puts so much emphasis on sabr. Patience is the key to unlocking opportunities and doors; it is the foundation of a deep-rooted faith. In terms of fitness, the most common reason for giving up is that people don’t see results quickly. There is nothing fast about change; it happens slowly, overtime, with a lot of effort, hard work, persistence, and PATIENCE. The body needs time to adapt and grow, and in listening to our bodies as we’ve already discussed, we need to give it the time it needs. Be patient and don’t give up on yourself.

 

Lesson 5: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

 

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Please, don’t stress out about small things. So you ate a chocolate when you weren’t supposed to. SO WHAT? We all make mistakes and no one can be perfect, no matter how much they might seem so from the outside. A healthy lifestyle is no easy task, and by adding unnecessary stress into the mix it becomes dreadful. Enjoy it, have fun, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Missed a workout? No problem, make it up later in the week or, if you don’t have the time, try to improve yourself the next week. Cheated on your diet? That’s OK it happens, food is delicious! Don’t use it as an excuse to beat yourself up and ruin all of your hard work; simply start fresh with your next meal. Take the edge off and enjoy the ride, no matter how bumpy it may get.

 

Lesson 6: Love Yourself First

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Don’t begin a healthy lifestyle because you hate your body, or you hate something about yourself. Begin a healthy lifestyle because you LOVE yourself so much so that you want to become the best version of yourself that you can be. It’s fine to have ideas of what you want to work on, but counteract those negatives with some positives. Make a list of things you want to change and also a list of things you love about yourself, or things you are good at. You will never treat yourself good if you do not like yourself. Find your beauty and watch yourself blossom.

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What Is the Best Time to Exercise?

Many people swear by early morning sweat sessions as the best method for losing weight. But what about those of us who couldn’t fathom a workout that early in the morning? The good news is that finding the perfect time for exercise is more about personal preference than it is about physiological benefits.

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What is important is finding a time of day that works best for you in order to make exercise a habit.

Morning Perks

  • You have the psychological pleasure of knowing your workout is done.
  • It is easier to keep a consistent routine in the morning.
  • There is less room for other responsibilities and time pressures to interfere.
  • A full day of work can take a toll on one’s willpower, no matter how well-intentioned you may be.
  • Early workouts may help with a more sound sleep, while workouts too late in the day may make it harder to fall asleep at night.

Advantages of Later Workouts

  • Body temperature is higher later in the day, which leaves the muscles less stiff and less susceptible to injuries.
  • Muscle strength and endurance may be at its peak in the afternoon.
  • The body produces more testosterone later in the day which is important in strength and muscle building.
  • You may have more energy later in the day after fueling your body with some nutritious meals.

Listen to Your Body

While there may be some advantages to working out at different times of the day, those differences would be minor, with a bigger significance lying in the psychological effects of the workout. If you are not a morning person there would be no advantage to forcing yourself out of bed at 5 am to workout, only to be miserable the entire time. The benefits of working out come in consistency, so pick a time of day that will allow you to enjoy your workout and become consistent.

Be Realistic

Picking the perfect time of day may not be as easy as choosing a number on the clock. Take a look at your daily schedule and pick a realistic time that will not interfere with other responsibilities. If your days are packed from morning until night, a morning routine might be best. If you have a free schedule after work and morning is not your thing, go for an after-work routine. If you have some little bits of free time in the middle of the day, throw in a quick 20 minute workout in the afternoon.

Consider the Social Setting

To some people, the social setting is a very important aspect of their workout. Some prefer solitude and alone time which you can get early in the morning, in the middle of the day during the work-week, or much later at night. Others prefer a gym atmosphere with plenty of people to keep them motivated. The gym tends to be packed mid-morning, or around rush-hour time between 5-6 pm. You may even do better with an exercise partner. If that is the case, try to come up with a time that works for the both of you, even if that means a quick walk during your lunch break with a co-worker.

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The Bottom Line

The most important things to consider when coming up with a workout time is your preference, your schedule, and how you can be consistent. Exercise is not a “one-size-fits-all” kind of thing, so don’t be fooled by the people who say that one time of day is best. If you find mornings the best for you, just be sure to warm-up a little bit longer than normal to avoid injury. If afternoon/night time is better, keep the timing consistent and eat after your work out, not before.

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A Proper Cool Down

This is going to be my last post for my #workoutwednesday series. I thought it was a good idea to close it out with a cool down routine, which is often the most overlooked aspect of exercise, although it is equally as important as the warm-up.

 

The Importance of a Cool Down

A cool down takes place after a workout with the goal of slowly getting the heart-rate, breathing, and body temperature back to its pre-exercise state. A proper cool down usually lasts for about 5-10 minutes, and should start off with some low-intensity exercises followed by stretches.

The benefits of cooling down include

  • Bringing the body’s physiological state back to normal
  • Reduces the risk for muscle cramps and spasms
  • Helps to offset some muscle soreness
  • Aids in muscle recovery
  • Removes waste build-up (like lactic acid) that occurs during physical activity
  • Prevents dizziness and fainting after exercise

 

How to Cool Down

Step 1: Light Activity

The first part of a quality cool down should start off with about 3-5 minutes of light activity. This can differ depending on the individuals workout.

Here are some examples:

  • After a run you might take a light jog for 2-3 minutes, followed by a 2-3 minute walk.
  • After a spin or bike workout you might pedal on a flat road (light resistance) for 3-4 minutes, followed by 1-2 minutes pedaling with no resistance whatsoever.
  • After a strength training workout it’s a good idea to do 3-5 minutes of dynamic stretching, like we saw in our warm-up routine, or even some yoga poses.
  • After a swimming workout one can swim a few leisurely laps around the pool.
  • Instructor-led fitness classes typically have a warm-up and cool down built into the routine.

Step 2: Stretching

The second and last part of a quality cool down will consist of stretching for another 3-5 minutes. You want to make sure you are focusing on the muscles that were being activated during the workout. In order to incorporate relaxation into my cool-down routine, I like to hold each stretch for 5 deep breaths.

Here are some examples of stretches:

Front Shoulders Stretch 

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Triceps Stretch 

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Standing Side Stretch

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Chest Opener Stretch 

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The Forward Hang 

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Upper Back Stretch 

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Quad Stretch 

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Calf Stretch 

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Forward Fold

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Glute Stretch 

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Hip-Flexor Stretch  

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Lower Back Stretch 

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Cobra Stretch 

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I truly hope that you all enjoyed this series! The aim of #workoutwednesday was to share some information related to proper exercise, promote a healthy lifestyle, give ideas of some different types of workouts, and most importantly, to inspire you to exercise and take control of your health!

Please keep checking back on this blog for more health and fitness posts, and possibly a new series =).

Enjoy your cool down and don’t forget to incorporate it after every workout. If you are short on time, modify; something is always better than nothing.

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A Dynamic Warm-Up

For this weeks #workoutwednesday I decided to talk about warming up. Your warm is just as important, maybe more so, than the actual workout itself. Therefore, it’s imperative to understand the importance of warming up for the body and which types of warm-up exercises are best.

The warm-up is meant to gently prepare the muscles for physical activity by increasing heart-rate and blood flow. It is also a means of mentally preparing for the upcoming workout. A warm-up is the best way to loosen up the muscles and prevent injury.

About a decade ago, static stretching, which requires holding a stretch for about 8 or more seconds without movement, was considered to be the best way to warm-up before sports or any type of physical activity. However, we now know that dynamic stretching, which is a combination of stretching and movement, is in fact the most effect method to engaging the muscles before physical activity.

Through a mixture of stretching and light cardiovascular activity, dynamic stretching will activate the muscles, improve range of motion, and enhance muscular performance.

Here is a quick dynamic warm-up that can be done before any type of workout. You will perform each exercise once for 30 seconds each.

 

Knee Highs 

Glute Kicks 

Alternating Knee Hugs 

Alternating Ankle Grabs 

Alternating Leg Kicks

Walking Squats

Lateral Lunge Stretch

DESCRIPTIONS & VIDEOS

Knee Highs

Start by standing straight with feet hips width apart and arms hanging down by sides. Jump from one foot to the other while at the same time lifting the opposite knee as high as possible. You should be jumping onto the balls of your feet and arms should be swinging in motion with the movement. You may move forward while you perform this exercise or remain in place.

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Glute Kicks

Start by standing with the knees close together and arms by the sides. Flex your right knee behind you so that the heel of the foot touches (or comes close to) the glutes. Then lower the leg back down and do the same thing with the opposite leg. You may do this at a faster (almost jogging in place) pace, or you can do one leg at a time and do more of a stretch pace. You may also move forward while performing this exercises or remain in place.

Alternating Knee Hugs 

This exercise is similar to the high knees only it is performed slower and more like a stretch. Start by standing tall with feet under hips and arms by sides. Lift one leg to bring the knee as high up as possible while grasping it with your hands and hugging in towards the body. Lower and repeat on the opposite side. This can be performed while moving forward or while standing in place.

Alternating Ankle Grabs

This exercise is similar to the glute kicks only it is performed slower and more like a stretch. Start by standing with knees close together and hands by the sides. Flex your right knee behind you while grabbing the ankle with the right hand and squeezing it closer towards the body to close the knee joint. You should feel this stretch in the thighs. Lower the leg and perform on the opposite side.

Alternating Leg Kicks

Start by standing with the feet shoulder width apart and arms by your sides. Engage the core and kick your right leg forward with flexed feet as high as you can (hip’s height is advisable) while reaching the opposite arm forward to meet the toes. Lower the leg and bring the arm back to the starting position then perform on the opposite leg. This can be done moving forward of by standing in place.

Walking Squats

Start with feet together and hands by the side or on hips. ‘Walk’ the right foot out to the side until the feet are about hips distance apart and perform a squat. Then, using the same leg you stepped out with, push back to the starting position. Repeat with alternating legs.

Lateral Lunge Stretch

Start by standing tall with feet hips-width apart and hands on hips. Step out with your right foot and shift your weight over the right leg while holding the leg at a 90 degree angle. Push with that same leg to bring yourself back to the starting position. Repeat with alternating legs.

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Healthy Stir Fry

It can be quite hard to decide what to eat/cook when your trying to be healthy, especially when you need something quick and easy but also enough to fill you up for a while. I find that stir-fries are a great way to make a fast and healthy meal with whatever is already in the house!

The other day I realized that I had some baby spinach and broccoli that I knew would go bad if I didn’t use them up soon so I decided that throw everything together and make a stir fry. This is probably the easiest meal you can make because you can literally throw in anything you want. I don’t have an exact measurements for this stir fry as I just kind of threw everything in there, but here is how I made it.

Your Base

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I always keep brown rice in my house, and to me, rice holds up really well to the traditional flavors of a stir-fry. Brown rice is a healthier alternative to white rice as it contains dietary fiber that aids in digestion and provides a slower release of sugar giving you a more lasting energy and feeling of satiation. For a non-traditional route you can also use couscous or quinoa. If you love noodles, try to use some variation of whole wheat pasta instead.

Protein

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It’s a good idea to throw in some protein for added flavor, appeal, and to help you get fuller faster. I decided to go for a vegetarian stir fry and used chickpeas as my protein source because 1) I already had some in the house and 2) meatless meals contain less fat and cutting down meat consumption proves to be extremely beneficial in preventative health. So to go vegetarian you can use any kind of beans you like, or you can take the meat route and use some diced up chicken, beef, or any meat you prefer.

Vegetables

Organically grown head of celery behind which were two bell pepp

The suggestions are pretty much endless for this category. I used broccoli, carrots and baby spinach because I already had these in the house and my aim was to use whatever I had without making a trip to the grocery store. A tradition stir fry typically contains a lot of greens like broccoli, bok choy, watercress, celery and mushrooms. However, you can use any vegetables you prefer and as little or as many as you’d like.

Sauce and Spices

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I always keep low-sodium soy sauce in my fridge because it is a great flavor enhancer to many dishes so this was the sauce for my stir fry. I find that ginger, cinnamon and curry work really well with soy sauce, and I also used some crushed red pepper flakes for a kick, and garlic powder because I didn’t have any fresh garlic to use. As with the vegetables, the spices you can use are limitless. Don’t be afraid to add your personality and culture to the dish; this is what makes cooking so great!

Putting It All Together

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Because stir fries can contain many ingredients it may seem a little overwhelming to cook.But, if you have even the slightest experience with cooking you’ll be able to figure it out quite easily.

Prep Your Ingredients – Decide exactly which ingredients you want to use and get them prepped. Chop your veggies, cook your rice and beans ahead of time, and get everything together that you will need.

Cook in Steps – If you are using meat, get those going first and cook your veggies separately. If your not using meat, then start with the vegetables as they are going to take the longest to cook. I started by sauteing my broccoli and carrots in a little bit of olive oil because I know they take a while. Because they are quite hard I cooked them covered in order to retain their moisture. Once they were about halfway cooked I added in the spices along with salt and pepper to release those flavors and continued cooking them covered. When they were just about done but not quite, I got my cooked rice in there to heat up, then added the beans (which were already cooked) to get those nice and warm. Once everything was just about done I added my baby spinach because I know it cooks very quickly. I added some more salt and pepper, a dash of olive oil and some soy sauce.

Taste – Give your stir fry a small taste to make sure the flavors are there and your meal is done! So easy and it only takes three simple steps.

Next time you want to make a simple, nutritious dish that will leave you feeling full and satisfied, try your hand at a stir fry. If you keep the right ingredients in your house then you won’t even need to make a trip to the store!

 

 

 

The Ladder Workout

This week for #workoutwednesday we will do a ladder workout. A ladder workout is a type of workout that focuses on gradually increasing or decreasing the difficulty of the exercises. It is a great way to build up endurance and strength. Due to a few requests this workout can be done at home and requires zero equipment.

Because all of these exercises have been featured in my previous workouts there will be no description at the bottom. If you do not know how to perform any exercise, YouTube is a great tool.

To complete this workout, perform each exercise down the list back-to-back. There is a short rest incorporated into the workout but remember to go at your own pace and take a break any time you need to.

5 Push-ups

10 Burpees

15 Crunches

 20 Jumping Jacks

25 Squats

30 second rest

25 Squats

20 Jumping Jacks

15 Crunches

10 Burpees

5 Push-ups

1.f5a12f7fbcd52af8_Basic-Push-Up.xxxlarge2.knees-pushup-munster-bootcamp

3.Burpees

4.tumblr_inline_mx41bxukVQ1rdu2za

5.450x300_Jumping-Jacks

6.Air-Squats

PICTURE CREDITS

1. http://media3.onsugar.com/files/2014/10/31/677/n/1922729/f5a12f7fbcd52af8_Basic-Push-Up.xxxlarge.jpg

2. http://www.munsterbootcamp.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/knees-pushup-munster-bootcamp.jpg

3. http://www.smartfoodandfitness.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Burpees.png

4. http://31.media.tumblr.com/c07f5137b8a54faa06ba920de03cd77f/tumblr_inline_mx41bxukVQ1rdu2za.png

5. http://www.dietsinreview.com/images/cache/450x300_Jumping-Jacks.jpg

6. http://www.rockwallrectech.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Air-Squats.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Jumping Over the Workout Hurdle

We all know those fitness freaks; the people who can’t live without the gym, who revolve their schedule around their workout, who show up late to plans because they couldn’t pull themselves away from the treadmill. What makes them this way? Why can’t I be like one of those people? It seems to be that some people are just born with the will to work out while others have to force themselves to get moving. Although genetics seems to be somewhat at play, the good news is that you can become one of those people. You just need to spend some time with your thoughts. Here are six tips to get you jumping over that workout hurdle.

 

Picture Your Ideal Self

What are your goals? Do you want to fit into an old pair of jeans? Do a pushup? Run for 1 mile without stopping? Be able to bend down and touch your toes? Whatever your goal may be, picture yourself having already accomplished it. How do you feel? This is a useful mental exercise to keep you motivated and determined. The more you imagine yourself in the situation you want to be in, the more you believe in it and the more real it starts to become. 

 

Zero In On the Perks 

Due to our human nature we tend to focus more on the negative than the positive. When it comes to exercise we are quick to think of all of the reasons why we shouldn’t workout. Next time, force your mind to shift to the positive. “I will be one step closer to my goal.” “It’s good for my health.” “Pushing myself will make me stronger both physically and mentally.” “I want to grow.” If you have to, write a list of all of the positive aspect of exercise and read it just before getting ready for your workout.

 

Believe in Yourself

Often times we consider laziness to be the culprit of skipped workouts. Although that may be part of the problem, the biggest hindrance to working out is a feeling of discouragement. Many people don’t actually believe they will ever change, or don’t believe they have what it takes. Everyone has the ability to change if they want to. If you trust in the process and practice consistency then you WILL see changes. Keep telling yourself that it will happen and don’t let doubt cloud your mind, for that is the biggest setback.

 

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Form the Habit

Get in the groove! Once exercise becomes a habit, a normal part of your routine, it’s likely to become much easier to stick with. It’s just like work. No matter how much you love your job, it’s not always easy to get out of the bed every morning five days week and go to work when there are plenty of other things you’d rather be doing. But, we do it because we have to. Sometimes our five daily prayers become heavy on us, and we feel unmotivated. But we push through because we know that the reward at the end is greater. Keep that same mentality with your workout. Do it because you have to; do it because of the reward and the growth it will bring. Push through until it becomes a habit.

 

Accept Where You Are

phonto“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” This quote by Zig Ziglar is my absolute favorite quote because it is so comforting and true. Everyone has to start somewhere. It is truly OK to be completely and utterly out of shape. Maybe you can’t even do 1 pushup. Maybe you are out of breath after only 3 minutes running on the treadmill. Maybe you want to start yoga but you can’t even reach your toes in a forward fold. That is OK. Find beauty and solace in the place that you’re in. It gives you that much more opportunity for growth and improvement. It gives you that much more of a challenge to overcome. It gives you that much more of an inspiring story to share with others. Where ever you are now is OK. Giving up because you are not where you want to be is a sure way to stay in the same place. You will change. You will advance. You just have to accept yourself as you are and continue to work towards your goals.

 

Take Small Steps

Sometimes we want to reach a certain goal so badly that we take all of the wrong steps to get there. When I first started yoga I was dying to be able to do a handstand, to be able to bend my body in half like a pretzel, and to be able to hold myself in impressive arm balance poses. But I overstepped all of the most important means of getting there. How can I do a handstand without learning a headstand first? How can I bend like a pretzel without perfecting the most basic yoga stretch, the forward fold? How can I hold myself in arm balances without building up the necessary strength? I got so caught up in all of the advanced poses that I was going nowhere fast. As tempting as it is to push beyond our limits, we must master the basics or else we will easily give up. Build your foundation. Start small. Progress is not supposed to be fast. No matter what goal you are working towards, it will take time to get there. Islam did not come in one day, but rather it came over a 24 year period. Take your journey one step at a time and be patient.