Why I always start my day with Oatmeal

In my monthly challenge groups, at the end of each day, we all share what we ate for every meal for accountability. It’s fun to see what everyone else is cooking up and most of my challengers have a lot of variety in their meals. Not me. I’m totally a creature of habit and I’m fine eating the same things over and over again. I mean I’ll make different types of salads for lunch, and I’m forced to be more creative with dinners since my family would not be impressed if I fed them chicken and sweet potato every single night of the week. But my breakfast has been the same for as long as I can remember:  a good hearty bowl of oatmeal. It’s my absolute favourite meal of the day. And I was eating it long before the “oat bowl” even became a thing.

My favourite type of oats are steel cut. Now I’ll admit I used to top it with a good little sprinkle of brown sugar and smother it in cows milk since thats how I grew up eating it. But since I’ve eliminated most sugars from my diet, my favourite way to dress it up is by adding some berries, a few almonds, a little almond milk and a pinch of cinnamon! Delish!! There are so many yummy ways to make it!

 

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After doing a little research, here’s a couple health benefits I found to eating oatmeal on a regular basis:

Fills you up – I’ve gone through phases in the past where I would eat bagels or muffins or a slice of toast for breakfast…. especially while I was pregnant! Breakfast foods high in sugar and fat can make you feel full for a brief period, but then you’re hungry again. That’s what I always found when I would eat the above foods. The fiber in oatmeal fills you up and leaves you a lot more satisfied. I find I’m not craving as many snacks later on during the day.

Whole Grain – Oatmeal is a whole grain, and eating whole grains can lower your risk for a number of different diseases, including high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Oatmeal also contains a plant chemical called lingens that has been found to prevent heart disease.

Lower Cholestoral – Oatmeal contains a specific type of fiber called beta-glucan. There have been a lot of studies done that have proven the effects of this fibre on cholestoral levels. One-and-a-half cups of oatmeal contains more than five grams of fiber so eating it on a regular basis can really help lower your cholesterol.

Immune system booster – The high fiber in oatmeal protects against heart disease and boosts your immune system. It helps your immune cells find and repair parts of the body that may be fighting a bacterial infection.

Stabilizes Blood Sugar: When you’re eating a lot of fiber, this helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and will help provide that mid-morning crash, which happens when you eat a lot of sugar and empty carbs early in the day.

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So there you go. I bet you didn’t know how healthy a single serving of oatmeal could really be!

Thanks for reading.

xo Natalie

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Becoming a Morning Person

During the workweek, I was always one of those people who would press snooze 5 times before I would get out of bed. I would actually set my alarm earlier on purpose so I would trick myself into thinking I got more sleep. Anyone else do that? I despised mornings and would do everything I could to stay in bed for as long as possible. The weekends were another story. It’s foreign to me that we used to sleep in until 9..10…sometimes 11 am?!?!
That was before we had kids. Once I had them, sleeping in obviously no longer existed.  I can’t even remember the last time I slept past 7:30 a.m. but even with the boys awake, I would pull them into bed with me and laze around for another hour or so, checking emails on my phone and dreading my long to-do lists for the day, until I finally had to role out of bed to feed them breakfast, get them dressed and then start getting myself ready for the day ahead. Our mornings were always off to a late start.
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Now don’t get me wrong, when you’re a new mom, give yourself permission to laze around. Most of us don’t get much sleep through the night and need to take every minute we possibly can to rest but I know I rocked that laziness a little too much longer than I needed to. My kids are sleeping through the night so I really have no excuses.
Over the past 4 months, becoming a morning person has improved the overall success of my day in so many ways!
During my first round of the 21 day fix, I did my workouts in the evenings. But I watched some of the other challengers get up each morning and get it done and it looked kind of appealing. There where a lot of nights where I was simply too tired to even think about working out. I often wished that I didn’t have it hang over me all day and that I could just get it out of the way but I was too scared to commit to mornings at that time.
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The next round in January, I told my accountability group one day that the next morning I was going to try working out in the morning just to humour myself. I was convinced I would hate it but I wanted to see what it felt like. Keeping my word to someone is important to me…20 people, a whole other story. So I did it. I woke up at 6:30, grumpily headed downstairs and got it done. At 7 I checked in with my group to share I HAD DONE IT! While I was online, I responded to a few e-mails, replied to Facebook messages and grabbed my devotional for the day. At 7:15 I went up to start making breakfast and I couldn’t believe the energy I felt! The twins were just waking up at 7:25 and as I glanced at the clock, I couldn’t believe how much I had accomplished in 1 hour before anyone else in the house was awake!!! It felt SO GOOD!
From that day on I was completely hooked. I just loved how productive I felt, how much energy it gave me, and how it set me up for success the rest of the day.  Starting early gives you that mental boost – while the rest of the world sleeps, you are already thriving.
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In a book called The Compound Effect  which I’m reading with my coaching team this month (I would HIGHLY recommend it to everyone as it just has so many incredible life applications!) the author talks about bookending your days by implementing routines that set us up for success. We often can’t control what goes on through the day…the circumstances we face at work, with our kids, out in the public. BUT we can control how our days start and how they end. Instead of bombarding myself with the tasks of the day before I even get out of bed, (like I used to do), I don’t even look at my phone before I head downstairs for my workout, spend time in the word and THEN start my day. I can’t tell you how life changing this has been for me.
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Thanks so much for reading!! xo

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Chocolate Pudding

This is a fun little healthy dessert I whipped up last week. 4 ingredients you guys!!

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup of cocoa powder
  • 2 avocados, halved, pitted and peeled

Blend the avocado, cocoa, honey and vanilla in a blender until smooth! Serves 4.

Enjoy!

 

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My Journey with Running – The First six weeks

Whenever I would see someone running past our house or through the park I would always think “good for them, wish I could do that”. I actually thought I couldn’t run you guys. I had tried multiple times in the past and failed. Completely failed. But I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know I had to learn to run.   I thought I was in shape and would just wake up and decide “I’m going to be a runner today” and attempt a half hour run around the neighbourhood. I just figured that since I could barely run for 4 minutes without being out of breath and hating my life that I would NEVER be able to run 5k, let a lone a 10k? or a half marathon? No way.

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Boy was I wrong. First of all, you can do anything you set your mind to. It might take you longer than someone else. You might have to work harder than someone else, but you can do it. Second of all, I was setting myself up for failure by not taking baby steps to where I wanted to go. You need a goal and you need action steps to get there.

Over coffee back at the start of March, my friend Sophie and I were chatting about anything and everything while our kids played noisily around us and for some reason I mentioned that I wish I could run. She told me if I was really serious about wanting to, she would do it with me. She told me about this awesome learn to run app called Couch to 10k that she had successfully used several years back and actually grew to love running. I wasn’t convinced as I legitimately thought I wasn’t “the running type”.  I told her I would be left behind in the dust and hold her back so I didn’t think she’d want me as a running partner. But after some coaxing and encouraging, she had me convinced that I could do this. That it started off really easy and trained you to build your stamina slowly and surely. I had already been working out consistently for the past 4 months so I couldn’t be in that bad of shape.

This is when things got real. Before Sophie left that day, we committed to running 3 days a week together starting the next week. I was terrified before my first run. I was prepared to fail miserably once again. But to my surprise, that first week of runs was so simple and FUN! The running intervals were so short at first that it was so doable for anyone and made you believe that you could  do this. Walk for 3 min….run for 1…walk for 3…run for 2, walk for 1, run for 2 and so it continued.  Each week, the intervals of running time get longer and the walks get shorter. At 6 weeks through the program, we’re currently up to 15 min increments of running and all you runners out there are probably laughing at me but thats ok. I actually can’t believe I am able to do that without literally dying. It’s such an AMAZING feeling after we finish, to run up my driveway and have that feeling of I did it, I’m doing it,  I can do this. 

So I thought I would share some things I learned during my first 6 weeks of running:

Use an app. As I mentioned above, It’s so important to learn to run. Don’t make my mistake and try and train yourself with running 10-15 min intervals right off the bat. It doesn’t sound like a long time but it IS when you’re running and when you have’t run before.  You have to train your body slowly.  There are lots of different running apps out there but I would HIGHLY recommend couch to 10k! It’s so easy to use and I just love the structure of the program!

Running with a partner. – ok this was/is HUGE for me. In running my challenge groups over the past 5 months, I have really come to realize the IMPORTANCE of accountability. Some days you just don’t want to do it and you need someone telling you can! Sophie has been my biggest motivator since the start and I’m so thankful to have her with my during this journey! I probably would have give up the first time I had that bad run. And definitely not kept up with 3 runs each week for the past 6 weeks. Even when I was sick for a few days and we missed 1 out of the 3, she insisted we do 4 the next week. We push each other and I truly believe, having a running partner has played such a huge role in my journey thus far.

Be Consistent – when I missed that one run because I was sick that week, I could totally feel it during my next run. Follow the program and actually run 3 times a week! Consistency is key to building your stamina and progressing.

Time of Day – I think that time of day can really play a part in the success of your run. I find I feel the most energized during a run in the evenings so we run around 8 or 9. I love that it’s cooler out by that time too. We’ve tried running at 8 in the morning and also around 5.  I just wasn’t feeling it for either of those times. Although I do my workouts at 7 each morning, I realized that it’s just not my time of day to get out for a run and I also hadn’t eaten breakfast because I didn’t want to get a cramp so I had NO energy.

Some days you love it, other days you HATE it.  Don’t give up! I remember having a really exhausting run where I hated every minute of it, felt like I was so out of breath, felt like I was going to collapse and came home and told my husband that I’m not going to run anymore because I was actually right, I can’t do it. But then the next time I went out (thanks to my running partner, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have) I loved every minute of it. I felt so invigorated and by the time our run was done, I felt like I could run another 15 min. Just like any workout or sport, some runs are going to be easier and leave you feeling energized and some runs are just going to plain suck. DON’T GIVE UP. Keep getting out there.

The importance of stretching – I learned the importance of stretching the hard way. I knew I should stretch but I just got lazy and would forget most of the time. About my 3rd week in, I had intense soreness in my right calf before and during a run. I didn’t know if I could get through it but I couldn’t let my running partner down so I pushed through and basically limped back to my house convinced my venture in running was over because my calf was destroyed. My kinesiologist husband whipped me back into shape though! He had me stretch it out doing various exercises for the next three days and reinforced the importance of stretching after each run. By the next run, I was good to go and you better believe I don’t miss a stretch routine anymore!

Change up the Terrain and Route – I’ve found that it’s important to keep challenging yourself and changing things up to keep it fun and exciting. Otherwise it can start to get boring and monotonous. Change up your route so you have a change of scenery! It’s also important to change up the terrane. One day, half of our run was up hill. It was brutal but it challenged us and really worked those muscles! It’s important to keep things fresh and challenge yourself.

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I still have so far to go but I’d call my first 6 weeks a success and I hope that if you’re considering running, this might motivate you to give it a try. If I can do it you can too. Trust me. In 6 weeks, I’ll be running 10k stretches. This is WILD to me. I’ll give you an update about how it’s going around then!

Thanks for reading you guys! xoxo

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The Mason Jar Salad

The mason jar salad has been plastered all over pinterest for quite some time now and I finally decided I had to try it to see what the hype was all about. My poor husband is normally left to fend for himself as far as a lunch goes in the mornings. Not a very good wife I am! I would love to be able to make him lunch more often but I need easy, quick ideas! He loves a good salad but we’re always struggling to find tupperware lids to match the containers not only for the salad but also for dressing as he’s running out the door. Things need to get more organized around here.
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Yesterday afternoon I was pinteresting some lunch ideas and of course I came across the mason jar salad again. So I decided to try it as so many others seem to find it so quick and easy! And it WAS!
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I thought it was worth a share for anyone who works outside of the home looking for an easy and quick way to throw salads together! The options for what kind of salad to make is endless really.
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I sent it with my husband for lunch today. He said it was delicious and he loved not having to hunt down a dressing container right before he left!  I haven’t experimented with the shelf life but after some research, it sounds like 3-4 days is about good.
You want to layer all your ingredients starting with the dressing at the bottom, a more hearty vegetable like cucumbers, peppers or mushrooms next, more fixin’s in the middle and the lettuce on top so it won’t get soggy and gross. When you empty it out, lettuce will be on the bottom with all the good stuff on top just the way a perfect salad should be!
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So here’s the ingredients I used from bottom to top:
-greek dressing
-mushrooms
– cucumbers
-cherry tomatoes
-grilled chicken
– olives
– lettuce
– fetta cheese

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Enjoy!!!

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