Five . . .err, Make that Fifteen for Friday!

I don’t usually do a “5 for Friday” shoutout, but this week has been full of so many interesting, fun, amazing things that I though I should. Then, I realized I had excessively more than 5 things to share – so, you’re getting “15 for Friday!”  I’m talking about everything from amazing eco-wellness products from Shiftcon, the lotions I put on my face, a really cool app-based, customized meal delivery service, my latest ambassadorships, the 3M Half Marathon, mystery excitement news, and more! You have to read on to find out all the deets!

Jennifer Fisher 3M Half Marathon Austin, Texas 2017

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Why Athletes Should Eat Carrots + Fit, Fast Recipes

Trendy vegetables come and go, but carrots are a perennially popular pick in the produce department! I’m a non-discriminating vegetable lover and would never suggest kicking kale to the curb or saying bye-bye to beets, but these veggies, among other others, have enjoyed more than their fair share of time in the proverbial sun and now seem to be wilting away. But, let’s not forget about the tried-and-true carrot! Why Athletes Should Care about Carrots -- Health benefits that improve performance, recover and overall well being plus some easy, nutritious recipes using carrots.

All ages and all stages love carrots. Babies spoon up pureed carrots, kids munch on crunchy carrot sticks, and even finickiest of foodies can find a gourmet carrot recipe to delight.  Thanks to a host of health benefits and an easy-to-pack profile, this enduring edible also makes the perfect superfood for all types of athletes including runners, triathletes, football players, CrossFitters and other sporty types.  Plus, carrots are filling but are low in calories, with only about 50 calories for a cup of carrot slices or 5-ounces of baby carrots. If still questioning how carrots can help your athletic performance and need some great carrot recipes, read on:

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Don’t “Diet” – Eat to Fuel Fitness & Health Goals

Today’s post is sponsored by Smoothie King, but my content and love for their Meal Replacement Smoothies is all my own! Take the challenge as part of a low-calorie diet and daily exercise program.  Weight loss depends on individual needs. 

Smoothie King #ChangeAMeal Challenge Meal Replacement Smoothies -- over 20 options under 400 calories and at least 10g protein.I can’t believe it’s already 2017, the New Year snuck up on me before I had time to formalize my goals and best intentions for the next 12 months. I’m not so much a fan of “resolutions,” per se. Somehow that implies a certain past wrongness and need for fixing! But goals are a good thing, and I like to set them high – that way, when and if I fail, I most likely have achieved above and beyond par. Find out why I don’t diet and how snacks like Smoothie King helps me fuel up for and recover from workouts and fill my nutritional gaps.

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All the Holiday Health Tips “Yule” Ever Need!

All the Holiday Health Tips "Yule" Ever NeedGuzzle before Goodies: Drink a big glass of water and, if the meal or party is going to start after a scheduled meal time, eat a protein bar or other small protein-rich snack (around 200 cal) to tide you over. Time after time, I’ve read “eat a meal before heading out” as this will fill you up so that will not be tempted to overindulge on drinks and goodies at a holiday party. Um, unless you have willpower of steel, this doesn’t work – at least not for me. I always end up giving in with the “what the heck, it’s only once a year mindset” and, while it’s okay to splurge every now and then, but having consumed a full dinner (even if deemed “healthy”) just means you’ve gotten a head start on over-eating.

The Gift of Protein: Make sure you are not just using your entire calorie budget on all the wonderful baked treats of the season at the expense of eating enough protein. While pancakes, homemade breads, cookies, pies and more deserve a little attention this time of year, you can’t fuel a healthy lifestyle without adequate protein. Aim to get at 25 to 30 grams at EVERY meal, starting with breakfast, and also a couple 10 gram-ish protein snacks if you’ve been active during the day. Research has shown that consuming adequately timed and spaced protein not only helps with muscle management, but can moderate hunger and help you avoid over-snacking later in the day or evening.

cutting-sheet-pan-maple-beef-sausageBy the way, you have to check out my new Sheet Pan Maple Beef Sausage recipe — it’s a less mess, less stress way to make a batch of protein for a holiday crowd. It tastes yummy and sure beats slinging bacon or links all morning.

Moderate your Mixology: Drink in moderation or, even better, don’t drink alcoholic beverages, heavy eggnogs or sugary punches at all. Wine, beer and other adult beverages are very high in carbs and calories, partying all night will take its toll in so many ways . . . I won’t preach. If and when I decide to have a drink, I limit myself to one and then turn to sparkling waters with a splash of juice or infused with fruit. I have also turned ONE drink, into two by halving the liquor or wine portion and topping off with a low-cal liquid.

Exercise Anywhere: Regardless whether stuck in a car travelling or in your mother-in-law’s lair, find a way to move about and sneak in a little exercise – even if just in 5 minute increments.  We always pull over every hour on the road (for potty stops) and to bust out some roadside jumping jacks and burpees – I’m not kidding.  When visiting relatives and out of your normal fitness routine, suggest that the group head out for a walk to see holiday lights or start up a friendly game of flag football. There are also lots of home workouts that need little or no equipment when snowed it. Also, check out my 40 Fitness Hacks for the Holidays or my Wrapping Paper Tube Workout  – a graphic below, but also a video (seriously)!

Wrapping Paper Roll Workout - TheFitFork.com

Let Go of the Guilt: Despite the tips, the biggest tip is to enjoy the season and the quality time with family and friends. Many of us striving to live in the healthiest way we know how, often forever deny some of our past pleasures. If you want a slice of chocolate cake, have it! If you want a steaming mug of strawberry honey white hot chocolate, have it! If you’ve missed a few days or even a week of  your normal workouts, fuggetabout it! We all deserve a break and time to recharge – a short time of splurging and relaxing over the holiday season isn’t going to set you significantly back (if at all).

What are your holiday plans?! What are you doing to stay active? What is your favorite splurge (mine is banana bread with absolutely no healthy modifications 😉 Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer  

Happy Glow Yoga Flow & Cinnamon Apple Scent for Holiday Calm #GladeHolidayJoy

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GladeHolidayJoy #CollectiveBias 

Happy Glow Yoga Flow to help lessen stress and promote calm this holiday season.On the morning after Halloween, my neighbor started putting out her winter holiday decorations. Later that afternoon, I noticed my grocery and big box store were doing the same. I also bumped into a friend who was already getting a head start on Black Friday shopping. Being a little competitive in nature, these harbingers of the holiday season triggered a wave of stress that I knew a brisk jog around the block couldn’t completely cure.

With so many other life obligations piled high on my plate right now, I knew I wasn’t ready to deck the halls, fatten the goose, and jump on the sleigh to start celebrating just yet. In fact, because of this chaos in my life, I needed to find a new routine to slow down and relieve stress before all the winter festivities start ramping up.

Yoga has always made me feel calmer during times of heavy turmoil or just minor everyday stress. That’s because yoga forces me to connect my body and mind in a way that I never do normally day-to-day, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute (that is, unless I’m yoga-ing)! I also notice how certain scents can trigger an emotional and, often, physical response in me. For example, the smell of lemon makes me feel really alert and focused while lavender can put me to sleep.

I recently found out that cinnamon, a scent I already love, has a prolific list of perks. According to the Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils (1995) the scent of cinnamon has numerous benefits including the ability to ease depression and stress . .. and relieve constipation and indigestion (come on, you know this can be a problem when stressed out)! Plus, I personally have so many wonderful childhood memories centered on cinnamon – like those hard candies my dad used to sneak to me in church and cinnamon apple pie, my all-time favorite dessert. There is no way to NOT be comforted in a hug of cinnamon.Glade Happy Glow - candle and plug in

glad-in-heb-jenThat’s why I was so excited to see the Glade® Limited Edition Holiday Scents  on my last visit to HEB, my local market. There are a lot of different home fragrance options from Glade®, but I picked up the Glade® PlugIns® Scented Oil Warmer and Glade® 3.4 oz. Small Jar Candle in the Happy Glow Apple Cinnamon Scent. The Glade® Limited Edition Holiday Scents aren’t found on the regular home fragrances aisle, instead they will be on end caps (like at my HEB store) or in special wood rack displays.

The candle is absolutely fantastic! Not only has the apple cinnamon scent been calming me down, it’s lasted a long time and blends beautifully into my home décor thanks to the stylish glass container. However, I NEVER keep candles burning when I leave the house or go to sleep. The Glade® PlugIns®  Scented Oil Warmer allows me to enjoy my home fragrances 24/7 safely with no open flame, the dispenser just plugs into the wall outlet to warm the oil.

glade-plug-in

Putting Glade® PlugIns®  Scented Oil Warmer in my Yoga Space to enjoy the Happy Glow™ scent without worry.

So, in addition to smelling the Happy Glow™ scent to feel more joy and less “oh boy” this holiday season, I also have been doing a 10 minute yoga flow with poses that are calming. You need to try these easy yoga poses, surely you have 10 minutes for a surprising burst of joy!

Happy Glow Yoga Flow to lessen stress and promote calm this holiday season!

Here is my Happy Glow Yoga Flow breakdown (practice each pose for about 2 minutes):

Lotus (or just criss-cross legs): Relax in this seated position while you settle your busy mind and let negative thoughts start to melt away.

Puppy Pose: Relieve back tension that is associated with stress and cast away worries that are weighing you down with this playful, stretching position.

Bridge: Elevate hips and engage glutes as you breath slowly in this pose that opens the chest and heart and promotes circulation.

Forward Fold: Relax and bend forward at the hips, reaching down downward the ground as far as possible while moving nose into knees. Slowly rise, rolling up the back, and repeat several times.

Crow or Corpse: Practice crow pose or variations for a couple minutes unless you find it too hard or stressful. I like a challenge at the end of of my yoga sessions, even if I am trying to relax. But, if still stressed, lay on back looking upward with arms and legs slightly splayed in corpse pose – try not to fall asleep!

Are you ready to Feel Joy, Feel Glade™? Work my YOGA FLOW into your day and check out Glade®  and how their Limited Edition Holiday Scents can help you take control of the mental and physical chaos during this stressful time of year! For more information and more surprising burst of joy, connect with Glade® on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

What is your favorite holiday scent? What is your favorite yoga pose? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

How Exercise Boosts Brain Power + Week of Smart Workouts

Exercise is a smart choice for maintaining physical health and it also plays a role in promoting overall happiness and well-being. But, can exercise make a person more intelligent? Probably so say sports scientists from Finland who recently published some surprising findings on how the type and intensity of exercise may have a bearing on brain power?

Find out the best form of exercise for a brain boost. Yes, some workouts can make you not on stronger, but smarter!

The study compared pitted moderate-paced running, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and weight lifting against each other to observe how these various forms physical exercise can increase hippocampal neurogenesis (e.g. the creation of new brain cells) in an already mature brain. The test subjects – rats! The running rodents were left to run on their cage wheels (a moderate jog, some up to several miles a day) with free will while the HIIT group was given a daily 15 minute regimen of repeated strenuous effort sprinting with jog recovery. And, the weight-lifting rodents climbed walls with little weights attached to their tails as a sedentary control group lounged around and watched. I laugh just thinking about this! mouse-lifting-weight

Whether mouse or man, it appears that the winning exercise for long-term brain health may simply be moderate running or “jogging” and, by my semi-educated extrapolation, other similar “aerobic and sustained” activities like biking, swimming and brisk walking.  It seems wheel-jogging rodents had the most vigorous rates of new brain cell growth, significantly higher than the sedentary, lay-around rats. The hightailing HIIT group had some brain cell growth, but not as much as the aerobic joggers, with researchers hypothesizing that physical stress impedes neurogenesis. Interestingly, the resistance-trained rats were no different brain-wise at the end of the study – which keeps the status-quo on “muscle head” jokes!

Exercise is not only great for your health, but can make you smarter! Find out what type and intensity of workout will give you the best brain boost!

Seriously though, all forms of exercise are beneficial for the body. Just like variety in diet is important for optimal health, so is mixing up the way you move. While jogging or easy running may boost brain cells, lifting weights strengthens muscles, bones and tendons, helping to improve every day work capacity.  And, both resistance training and HIIT up the body’s metabolism, one of the keys to keeping a lean silhouette.

I think trail running and obstacle course races like Spartan are a great way to add “extra” to simply running – a well-rounded athlete is a smart athlete, too!

Below are some of my favorite running, HIIT and other workouts — pick your favorites and get strong, get smart!

 

 

Here are a week of workouts to get stronger and smarter:

  1. 20 Minute Kickboxing Workout to Kick Monday in the Face
  2. You Got Mad “Ups” Body Weight Workout
  3. Boom! Med Ball Workout
  4. Trail Run Tabata
  5. Fun Faster 800m-Lover Workout
  6. Sayonara Sprint Partner Run Workout 
  7. Soccer Strong Workout – – also great for OCR Training

What is your favorite “type” of exercise to do? Do you mix it up, or single sport? Ever feel smarter after jogging (haha)?  Please share in the comments — XOXO, Jennifer

Kick the Fall Allergy Crud, Stay in the Game with #MinuteClinic

Living in warm climate has its advantages and disadvantages when it comes to running and exercising outdoors. I really love the fact that it’s nearly November and it’s in the 80s, sunny and breezy– but with that beautiful weather comes an extended fall allergy season. Fall is the worst season for allergies sufferers; there are more allergy triggers than any other time of the year. Typically, weed pollens (like the 17 varieties of ragweed) and mold spores peak in the autumn months as do other irritants like dust mites (yuck). This pesky problem is nothing to sneeze – or, actually it is!  Austin Sunset in October / Middle School Football

Sniffing and snuffing in the stands puts a damper on watching my kid’s football games, and I know my boys don’t like to be out there on the gridiron feeling all gunked up.    Thank goodness we have a MinuteClinic at the corner of our neighborhood to help make a quick diagnosis between cold, flu and allergies and to provide the treatments needed to stay in the game.

text to mom about allergies and minuteclinic

Seasonal fall allergies can even take a toll on my indoor workouts – for example, we open the garage doors on both sides of my CrossFit gym to get the air circulating. When the air starts circulating, the allergens get their groove on. But, it’s too hot to close the doors with no gym air-conditioning, so we all suffer and #UseAllTheTissues until swinging by MinuteClinic for relief. minute-clinic-allergy-gym

Practical tips can help reduce allergies, as well. For example, at home (unlike my gym!) don’t leave windows open during the day and avoid the use of a window fan – both will fast track unwanted pollens and mold spores into your home.  Be mindful to clean and change air filters every three months to lessen the amount of dirt, debris, and allergens that invade your space. Also, shake out pillows, blankets and other bedding between frequent washes and don’t go to sleep after being outdoors without washing your hair (allergens get trapped in there too).

minute clinic waiting room 2

If you or your kids need over-the-counter or prescription medications in your allergy-fighting “toolkit,” MinuteClinic is a convenient solution to get you feeling like a champ again. This walk-in clinic located inside select CVS Pharmacies and Target Stores across the U.S. and the District of Columbia has nurse practitioners and physician assistants who can give you a good look over and recommend the right over-the-counter medications and even write prescriptions when medically appropriate.  Minute Clinic is open 7 days a week with both weekday and evening hours – and, most health care insurance is accepted. Find a MinuteClinic near you!  Also visit Twitter feed or Facebook page.

Also, pick up a J&J coupon book when you visit your nearest MinuteClinic and save up to $40 on brands you can trust!

Do you or your kids have seasonal allergies? Do you have any tips? Do you have a box of tissues in your car right now? Haha! Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer 

8 Ways Watermelon Sweetens Workouts and Runs #WatermelonForHealth

This post is sponsored by National Watermelon Promotion Board, and the content, opinions and enthusiasm expressed here are all my own.

watermelon hula hooping

I love all the fruits, but have BIG love for watermelon – that’s no secret!  I’ve tried to name the one single reason why I love this mega melon, but I can’t. There are just so many reasons I love watermelon — it brings back great childhood memories and has played a role in creating new ones with my kids, it’s insanely yummy enjoyed straight off the rind or used as a healthy ingredient in both sweet and savory recipes! But, other motives for my watermelon munching madness are the bumper crop of benefits for health, wellness and fitness.

For example, when it comes to fitness, the watermelon may be the only piece of workout equipment that can be eaten afterward.  While working out with a watermelon may sound crazy, it makes perfect sense – melons are available in a range of weights (from 2 pound personal-sized melon to seeded varieties tipping the scales at 30 pounds and beyond.  Watermelon isn’t expensive in a price-per-pound sense; I mean have you seen the price of a kettlebell?! And, this “two-fer” fitness fruit is really more of an amazing deal knowing you’ll slice open a melon to enjoy afterward (or even just drink the juice on the go).  Since I like to #KeepFitFun and put the “FUN” in FUNctional fitness – check out my video above that I hope inspires you to get after a watermelon workout and then refuel with the fruit for recovery!

8 Amazing Reasons Watermelon Sweetens a Run or Workout

Yes, watermelon is delicious and natural, so much better than a sugary goo when needed as a carb source for quickly sourced. The melons come by their name honestly, comprised of 92% water and loaded with potassium and other electrolytes that will help keep fluid levels in check and hopefully keep muscle cramps away. It’s also high in other vitamins and antioxidents that are beneficial for wellness and the L-citrulline in watermelon has been studied for its ability to quicken muscle recovery. Get more details on these benefits of Watermelon for Health at Watermelon.org.

watermelon-for-health

See how eating watermelon is a win-win? Discover more fitness-focused watermelon facts that can help you up your game!  Make watermelon your workout buddy today and win fabulous watermelon prizes. All you need to do is enter this easy-peasy contest from Watermelon.org. Here are the juicy details:

  1. Tag a workout buddy (or someone you’d like to inspire to be your workout buddy!) in the comments section of our National Watermelon Promotion Board’s (NWPB) weekly video post on Instagram and Facebook. (note, this week, it will be my video that you see above)
  1. Win weekly watermelon prizes. NWPB will choose one lucky workout pair each week from October 3rd through October 28th.

Have you ever had watermelon specifically for workout fuel / recovery? Better yet, have you ever worked out with a watermelon?! Give me your best exercise idea, I might use it my next video – XOXO, Jennifer