Oatmeal: My Favorite Quick and Nutritious Breakfast, Here’s Why.

imageOats, Oats, Oats. So many delicious recipes and possibilities with this little grain! Oatmeal Pancakes, Oatmeal Cookies, Protein Oat Cakes, adding Oats into your Morning Smoothie and of course “plain” old Oatmeal!

Lately I have been on a such an Oatmeal kick! Scroll to the bottom for 2 of my Fav Oatmeal recipes for Breakfast!

After doing some nutritional research this Winter, I decided to change up my eating habits a bit and start incorporating a bigger variety of foods. One of my goals was to switch up my breakfast as well, as my beloved toast with eggs and avocado was getting just a tad boring and taking too much time to prepare in the morning, so much so that sometimes I would skip breakfast before work, or just have a couple of rice cakes. I wanted something easy to prepare, something delicious and something filling and nutritious that would fuel me for the day! That is when I decided to really give Oatmeal a go. Of course I had tried it before, but would eat it very rarely.

So, I began experimenting with different Oatmeal combinations, and quickly discovered that I really DO Love Oatmeal. It is so easy and quick to prepare, you can add so many different delicious things to it and it has some Amazing Health Benefits!!! It’s no wonder it’s one of the health crazes that has stick around! Since switching to Oatmeal for my normal weekday breakfast, I feel I have more energy for the day and I don’t have as many cravings, and those are just the things I can notice! Here are some other benefits as well.

Benefits of adding Oats into your Diet

  • Oats contains important fibers that help you to feel full longer (whereas a breakfast full of sugars and fats can make you feel full for a brief period but you will become hungry again much quicker.) meaning you are likely to eat less later in the day.
  • Fiber helps control blood sugar levels, so you don’t have an energy crash, and helps with digestion.
  • Eating oatmeal can help lower your cholesterol, especially your LDL, or “bad” cholesterol.
  • Oatmeal is low in fat and is a whole grain that is a source of protein, iron, magnesium and B vitamins.
  • Can help protect skin, “The starchiness of oats creates a barrier that allows the skin to hold its moisture, while the rougher fibrous husk of the oat acts as a gentle exfoliant.” -Written by Sara Bonham Click the link to check out her article on Life Hack for even more amazing benefits!

All the Benefits listed above have to do with OATS, and while Oatmeal is of course made from Oats it is Important to be aware of what type of Oats you are actually eating. Generally speaking the larger the Oat, as in rolled oats or steel cut oats, the less processed it will be, the more nutrients it will have and the longer it will take to digest. I tend to buy either Whole or Fine oats, but Never Instant! The majority of the time Instant oats are packed with sugar! You might think those Cinnamon Apple flavor oats are healthy, but check the nutrition label and you will see that many instant oats actually have a lot of added sugar. I always buy completely plain oats and add my own natural sweeteners such as Stevia drops or honey, although generally my fruit toppings give my oats enough sweetness, in my opinion.

Some of my usual (but not all at once) Oatmeal ingredients include: Oats, Eggs, Water, Oat Milk, Strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries (frozen and/or fresh), Ground Flax Seed, Maca Powder, Chocolate Protein Powder, Chia Seeds, Stevia drops, Yogurt (although lately I am avoiding dairy as much as possible).image

Here are my two favorite Oatmeal recipes Can be prepared in the morning, or partially prepped at night. Note: I rarely measure out things but these are the approximations of what I add.

Choco~Peanut Butter~Fruity Oats: 1-1.5 Cup of Oats, 1/2 scoop chocolate protein powder, 1/4 cup frozen Raspberries, 1/2 a Banana, 1 tsp Peanut Butter and Oat Milk.

  • Directions: Mix Dry Ingredients first, then add water so that Oatmeal is completely saturated, add in frozen Berries and put in microwave for about 2-3 minutes on high. Take out and add in Peanut Butter, Fresh Banana and top with Milk of choice.
  • For Overnight Oats, simply follow all steps above except for microwaving. Add all ingredients together and stick in fridge overnight so your breakfast is ready to go in the morning!

Healthy Fats, Protein & Fruity Oats: 1-1.5 Cup Oats, 1 tbsp ground Flax Seed, Chia seeds, 1/4 cup frozen raspberries, 1/4 cup frozen Blueberries, 1 Egg, yogurt or milk of choice (I use Oat milk or Goat yogurt).

  • Directions: Mix dry ingredients first, then add water so oatmeal is covered but not completely soaked. Add in egg and mix well. Add in frozen berries (or fresh if you have them) and stir again. Place on microwave on high for about 2 minutes, stir once, then microwave again for 1-2 minutes. Take out and top with a bit of Milk of your choice or Yogurt. Add a few Stevia drops or honey for bit of added sweetness (although I don’t think it needs it). Enjoy!

 More recipes coming soon! Hope you enjoy!

Much Love, Alena ❤

The Importance of Stretching

imageFlexibility. Stretching. Movement. Balance.

Stretching is such a vital part of fitness and is not only important and beneficial for the body, but also for the mind.

People often only focus on the strength training and cardiovascular workouts and overlook the importance of stretching. But just as we need to train our bodies to become stronger, we need to stretch our muscles to keep them healthy. Muscles, like other tissues in the body, need good circulation to be healthy, and this means movement.

Here are some of the main benefits of stretching:

  • Stretching has the ability to reduce stress,
  • Helps increase overall flexibility and lengthen muscles,
  • Increases circulation, which not only helps muscles but can help with mood,
  • Increases blood and nutrient supply to muscles, which can help in reducing muscle soreness,
  • Can lead to better posture,
  • Helps to ease lower back pain,
  • Increase range of motion in joints, therefor improving balance.

Stretching can also be a great form of mental therapy, and I believe to be truly healthy requires a balance between mental and physical well being. Stretching and yoga requires a few minutes of calm movements and slower breathing, and even a short amount of time (10-15) minutes can help to calm the mind and give yourself a mental break. A Yoga or Pilates class can also be a great way to unwind both physically and mentally. Stretching can also be a great time for self-reflection or to reflect on your day or the workout you’ve just finished.

I have always loved stretching and working on flexibility, but have only recently begun practicing yoga and am slowly teaching myself. I find it to be calming and a form of therapy for my body and mental well-being, and a challenge as well. My personal recommendation is to make basic stretching or yoga a regular part of your exercise routine, but of course each person is so different so it’s important to learn what your body needs. My current routine: Try to do some light stretching after each workout, focusing on the area of the body which I worked the most during my workout, and dedicate at least one extra full session to stretching/foam rolling.

imageThere is a constant debate as to whether stretching can actually help to prevent injuries, and the opinion will vary from one trainer or doctor to the next. But in my personal experience, I have found that when I do properly warm-up/light stretch before and then properly stretch after a workout it really helps my body and I have not experienced any injuries in the past few months. I also suffered from chronic lower back pain after injuring my lower back in two separate Snowboarding accidents in the past 10 years and stretching has helped strengthen my lower back muscles which has greatly helped to reduce and relieve a lot of this pain.

Remember our bodies are all so different and will require different amounts of rest and different recovery methods. So, I encourage you to find out what works best for you and what your body needs.

Much love, Alena

 

Healthy Living: Tips for getting Back on Track.

 Getting Back to the Routine after a Breakimage

    We all have our struggles and strengths when it comes to motivation and determination. When certain aspects of our life force us to take a break from our normal routine, it can be very hard for some and much easier for others to jump back in to the routine. We take vacations, celebrate birthdays, holidays, etc. and sometimes these events can make us stray from our normal routine, be that eating certain foods and cooking for yourself, going to the gym, working, taking a special daily walk, having time for yourself at home, etc. Maybe it’s only for a few days, maybe it’s a few weeks. But whatever the time frame is, I believe it’s important to truly enjoy yourself in that moment and just know that sooner than you realize, you will be back home and one way or another, you will be getting back to your usual routine. Sometimes jumping back into your normal routine can be easy, you know what it feels like and you’re motivated to get back to it. But sometimes it’s not always so easy, as there could be so many different factors as to why you took a break from your routine in the first place.

I understand that it can be difficult to get back to the normal routine, you feel heavier, lazier, have less motivation and energy than normal and keep telling yourself that you’ll get back to it tomorrow. I have experienced this all at different times in my life, but I can honestly say that in the past year and especially the past few months I have learned to deal with these feelings differently, and find the motivation to get back to my routine. Is it always easy for me? Absolutely not. I still have times when I struggle with this. But I have learned so much from trial and error and now have a “routine/list of tips” that I use for planning ahead and getting back on track after a break, holiday or a couple of indulgence days.

     These are little things I have learned to do for myself that help me get back into my routine after a holiday or vacation or when I am lacking motivation. These things may not work for everyone, but this is what works for me, and I truly hope these can help you in some way if you are struggling.image

My Tips for getting back on Track

  • PLAN AHEAD: Have a start/end date for how long you will be away or be unable to stick to your normal routine. Try to make it clear to yourself that this is not to become a long term break from your normal routine, only a vacation or quick pause.
  • Pick a RESTART DATESet a day for restarting your routine, be that cooking your usual healthy food or heading to the gym for a scheduled workout routine. Make sure it is a day you know you would realistically be able to jump back in to your routine. (This step actually is best to do BEFORE you go on Holiday/Vacation/Take a break from your normal routine, but if need be pick a start date anytime.)
  • STICK TO IT! : Stick to your restart date! One of the things I have learned is that it is so important to plan ahead and then keep promises to yourself! It might be hard when that day comes, your energy level might be low and going to the gym sounds terrible, and ordering take out sounds easier than cooking, but once you get past those feelings and actually do it! Workout, Cook, etc. You will feel proud of yourself for overcoming this feeling and you will realize How Strong You Truly Are! And each time will get easier, because you know you have done it before and how great it feels!
  • LOVE What You Do: Try and view the things you are going back to as something you love, because that’s what they should be. Living a Living a Healthy Lifestyle should be something you enjoy because it makes you feel good on the Inside and the Outside.  Eating Healthy Food and Working Out is all very good, but if it feels like a chore to you, something you Have to do, it will be Much more difficult to go back to.
  • Focus on WHY You Love Your Routine: Focus on what you truly Love about your routine and your lifestyle and how it has made you feel both mentally and physically. Focus on the Energy you get after a good workout. And the satisfaction and pride of cooking a healthy meal.  Focus on these things that have made you Love what you do and it will help you get back to your routine.
  • Remember and Appreciate How Much You Have ALREADY CHANGED: Remind yourself of how far you have already come, by making the decision to live a healthier lifestyle and find a balanced routine for yourself, whether it was a few weeks, months or years ago. And When your morale/motivation is extra low and you are feeling stuck and unable to get back to your healthy routine, look at old pictures, read old journal entries or scroll through your posts on Instagram and Facebook. Remind yourself of all the little things that have changed both mentally and physically. Are you Stronger than you were before? Leaner? Do you have more Energy? Do you have a more Positive outlook on Life? 

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    Connect with like-minded people.

  • CONNECT with Like-Minded People: Reach out to people who are in similar situations, working towards becoming better and healthier versions of themselves and make connections. Check-in and stay accountable to them and they to you. Motivate each other to get back on track, inspire each other to keep going and support each other along the way.
  • Believe in YOUrself: Remind Yourself that you are capable of great things. You have goals and dreams and so much more to accomplish. You are strong and determined and you can do this.

I wish each and every one of you all the best!  Love, Alena