Get Fit Favorites

I will preface this post by telling you that, in case you haven’t noticed, I am not an expert on any or all things fitness.  Please consult your doctor before beginning a fitness regimen.  And all that jazz.

In the midst of my spiritual/self-awareness/mental health reality check at the first of the year, I also had a physical health reality check.  Toward the end of 2014, I tore the meniscus in my left knee.  I had also gained 10 or 15 pounds (give or take) over the course of the year.  I’ve always had lower back and hip problems (from the day I was born, practically), but they were killing me on a daily basis by the time 2015 got to me.  I never had time to exercise anymore.  I was eating out all the time, not being wise in my meal choices generally, drinking more alcohol than I should… lots of small, poor decisions regarding my health.

Basically, I felt terrible.  I could feel myself aging prematurely (this could have been in my head, but I went with it).  I wasn’t taking care of myself.  And it had to stop.  I felt like if I didn’t get a handle on this, too, my mental sanity might not be far behind it.  It’s not like I really had a quarter-life crisis, but I realized that at a couple years shy of thirty, I ain’t no spring chicken anymore.

So I started by cutting out some of the proverbial clutter from my life to free up some space in my schedule and in my brain.  I started walking again and began taking yoga classes at the Thomasville YMCA (if you’re a member of either the Thomasville or Bainbridge YMCA, you can use use either one now! Very exciting stuff.) and fell in love with it.  I’ve really made some pretty serious lifestyle changes as of late, and while I’m no guru, I thought I’d tell you some of my favorite things that have helped me get to this point 3 months in.

1. FitBit

I got a Fitbit Flex at Christmas, and since getting it, along with making other small and large lifestyle changes, I’ve lost around 10 pounds.  For a week, I wore it and didn’t change a thing to get a baseline.  It was disturbing how few steps I got that week.  I didn’t quite realize just how sedentary I’d become.  And with all the research out about how even if you exercise, sitting for hours on end undoes all your hard work, it was quite the eye opener.  Some days I struggle to hit my goal of 10,000 steps a day still, but at least I’m conscious of it and trying.  I park as far away from the door as I can, walk to lunch, take walking breaks, print to the printer downstairs, do lunges in my office, and walk for 30 minutes to an hour during lunch when I can. Since then, with my boss’s approval, I’ve implemented an 8-week step challenge to further motivate our entire office (or at least those who want to participate).  So far, so good!  My Fitbit has definitely helped me get moving again.  If anyone is interested, I have the Flex, but I find it is more accurate during exercise when I tuck it in a pocket.  I have since purchased the Fitbit One, which clips on to a waist band, bra strap, etc. and seems to be much more accurate than wearing it on your arm.  Clearly, I’m a slave to my Fitbit.  I can think of worse vices.

2. Gaiam Custom Fit Adjustable Balance Ball Chair

Luckily, our boss at work is clearly super on-board with having a healthy, happy office.  So a few of us ordered these sweet exercise ball chairs.  They seriously make the day so much better, and you get a core workout while you work.  Might I also suggest downloading Uptown Funk
and bouncing to the beat?  You cannot be in a bad mood at work when this happens.

3. Manduka PROLite Yoga Mat

Due to the aforementioned hip and lower back issues, high impact exercise has never been my schtick (at least since high school, anyway).  I am not a runner, so I walk.  I decided that I needed something for strength training and toning though, so at the very beginning of January I started going to yoga classes at the Thomasville YMCA.  It was an easy introduction to yoga, and I fell in love.  My favorite instructor, Lindsey, opened her own studio – Lotus Yoga, and I started getting private lessons and attending her other classes when I’m able to go.  My body has transformed because of yoga, and my back and hip pain has gone away for the first time in AGES.  I still have a long way to go before I feel comfortable saying I’m a yogi, and I’m not the skinniest, most flexible person out there, but I am getting stronger and healthier by the day and I finally have found a form of exercise I love and can stick with, and I’m grateful for that.

  

After a month of yoga practice on my old, ratty Gaiam mat, my sweet yogi friend (and yoga instructor extraordinaire) Ashley recommended an upgrade to my yoga mat, and I’m so glad I did.  It has made a world of difference in my practice.  It was a little pricey, and it took me a while to break it in, but it’s been so worth it.  It’s thick and soft and cushions knees and wrists so well, but it’s also not squishy, so you can balance so much better on it.  I can’t recommend it enough!  She recommended the Black Mat PRO, but I ended up going with the more portable PROlite.  I’ll never go back!

4. Icebreaker Merino Wool Workout Tops

Relish and Dash, a local store in Thomasville closed it’s doors, and Dash (the fitness portion of the shop) moved down the street recently.  Before they did, they cleaned house, and everything in the shop was 50% off, including these AMAZING merino wool tank tops.  I bought one on a whim, wore it to yoga class that afternoon, and promptly went back and bought two more.  Expensive, yes.  The best tank top I’ve ever worn? Also yes.  Now I’m itching for a wrap.  But it wouldn’t be itchy, because they are oh-so-soft and breathable.  Three cheers for natural fibers!

5. La Croix Sparkling Water

I have completely cut out soft drinks from my diet.  I basically had already done this, so it wasn’t too difficult for me.  However, what I was having trouble with was drinking enough water.  I started staying stocked in La Croix, and it’s kept me from getting bored with guzzling boring old plain water.  It feels like you’re treating yourself to a fizzy drink, without any guilt whatsoever.  I’ve increased my water intake drastically, and Wheat even likes them!  It’s an acquired taste, that sparkling water, but now that I’m hooked, I’ll never go back.

I’ve got other favorites, for sure, and maybe I’ll organize and compile those someday soon, too. I have a new favorite sports bra, we’re trying to eat healthier, etc. etc.  But these are my top five favorite things that are helping me along in my journey to get fit, strong, and healthy.  If you have any favorites I need to try, please let me know in the comments!

Until Next Time

Welcome Baby Elah!

On Saturday morning at 7:15 AM (coincidentally, a most epic of all Pi Days… 3.14.15), my sister brought the most beautiful baby girl into the world.  Elah Josephine weighed 7 pounds, 5 ounces, was 19 inches long, and is the most precious, sweetest baby you’ve ever seen.

 Elah Ventry | Oysters & Pearls

Her mama did great and made having beautiful babies look like a piece of cake.  Or pie, rather…  ;)  Both Mama and Baby are wonderful and they are heading home today!  And they, like the rest of us, are absolutely smitten.  Celebrating Pi Day will never be the same!

Until Next Time

Healthy Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

I have a single photo to entice you to make this delicious, healthy, crock pot (aka EASY) chicken tortilla soup recipe.  Just one measly iPhone photo.

Healthy Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup - Oysters & Pearls

 

Not much to it, but it’s DELICIOUS.  And did I mention easy?  I’ve been back working in Thomasville a lot lately, and super busy with other stuff, but Wheat and I committed to eating healthy, homemade food at home and sticking to our budget going forward, so I’ve been trying to utilize my crock pot a lot more.  I sort of always forget about the crock pot, but I think mostly because I can’t stand using 3 cans of this, 1 packet of pre-made-full-of-sodium that, and dumping it all in and calling it homemade.  Not good, people.  Not good.  This recipe is about as healthy as a crock pot meal gets, and it was SO good, too.  I nabbed this recipe from The Skinny Fork (and barely tweaked it), which might be one of my new favorite food blogs.  Definitely check it out for some yum eats.

Healthy, Easy, Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup from The Skinny Fork
serves 6

ingredients

1 Lb. Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (About 2-3 Breasts), Cubed
10 Oz. Can Diced Tomatoes With Green Chilies (RoTel)
14.5 Oz. Can Diced, Fire Roasted Tomatoes (No Salt Added), Un-drained
1 Bag Frozen Corn, Thawed
14.5 Oz. Black Beans (No Salt Added), Drained & Rinsed
1 Medium White Onion, Diced
2 Jalapeños, Seeds & Membranes Removed and Diced
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
3 Cups Reduced Sodium Chicken Broth (I use Sodium Free Instant Chicken + Water)
1 Tsp. Ground Cumin
1 Tsp. Mexican Chili Powder
1 Tsp. Salt
1/4 Tsp. Black Pepper

Tortilla Strips:
White Corn Tortillas, Cut Into Strips
Salt & Pepper To Taste

Final Touch:
Lime, Cut Into 6 Wedges

Optional Suggested Toppings: Shredded Cheese, Diced Onion, Avocado, Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt, Cilantro, Etc.

instructions

Toss all the ingredients for the soup into your crock pot and give everything a good stir. Secure the lid and set to cook on low for 6-8 hours.

That’s it!  Really.  And it re-heats really well, too.  I couldn’t get enough of it!

If anyone’s interested in our current method of budgeting and eating at home, I thought about writing a post on that, too.  Not only are we doing it to save money (along with other things), but we are also trying to get back into the groove of eating whole, unprocessed, healthy foods again.  The busy, busy Christmas (and beyond) season got us eating out and indulgently far, far too often.  I have really, really gotten into yoga as of late, along with my fitbit, and I am planning a post on fitness goals and favorites, too.  Anyone interested in any of the above?