7 Reasons Runners & Athletes Should Eat More Winter Squash + Recipes

We’re well into cooler weather, have you been fueling your training diet with delicious recipes featuring winter squash? Since the onset of fall, the produce department has been bustling with beautiful displays of winter squash varieties such as butternut, acorn, spaghetti, pumpkin and more! I can’t guarantee these staples of the season will make you run faster or jump higher, but they will help keep your body health and your taste buds happy.  7 Reasons Runners & Athletes Should Eat More Winter Squash -- find out the health benefits of vegetables like pumpkin, acorn, spaghetti and butternut squashes and how they can  help fuel your performance. Find easy recipes too, ranging from soup and stew to baked goods.

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7 Nourishing Soup Recipes for Dinner All Week

December may seem to be the month of BIG FANCY MEALS. Tenderloin, roast turkey, Cornish hens, or lobster tails might headline a celebratory holiday dinner, but there are still plenty of other meals to be made in the month. And, let’s be honest, with a to-do list and social schedule packed fuller than Santa’s sleigh, there isn’t much time left to make a balanced, nourishing meal to fuel up for the festivities. Or, you may even be trying to “eat light” between events that are loaded with delicious, yet indulgent, foods that aren’t typically in your diet.

Seven Nourishing Soups for Dinner All Week -- try one or all 7 of these healthy, nutrient packed soups that are simple to make and will satisfy your soul and body.

SOUP is the answer, soup to the rescue! Soup is the unsung hero of the season and gift to all us family meal makers out there – it’s typically super simple make, extra veggies can be snuck in without backlash, it’s forgiving and easy to swap out ingredients, it can be made ahead and then reheated as-needed, leftovers seem to even taste better as spices have more time to mingle. And, if you need a last-minute gift idea for your neighbor or that single guy in the office, why not whip of a batch of your favorite soup and pair with a loaf of artisan bread for an amazing, edible present.

I hope you enjoy at leat one of my seven super soup favorites!  

Mezzetta Spicy Shrimp Spinach Soup

Almost Instant” Spicy Shrimp & Spinach Soup – So much better than a Styrofoam cup of salty, surprisingly high fat ramen noodles, this fresh and fit soup recipe is meal prepped with fresh veggies, cooked shrimp, brown rice and more and then stored in the fridge (for up to a few days). When ready to eat, simply add boiling hot water, shake and then spoon in up right from the jar.

Thai Carrot Crab Noodle Soup is a powerhouse of nutrition -- feel free to swap out the protein for chicken or shrimp , if needed.Thai Carrot Crab Soup – Oodles of noodle deliciousness and healthy veggie ingredients, including carrot juice and brown rice noodles keep it gluten-free.  Not feeling crabby? Feel free to swap out the crab with shrimp, chicken, tofu or whatever protein you have on hand.

Best Ever Chicken and Rice SoupComforting Chicken & Rice Soup – A feel good, taste good soup on days when you’re feeling run down and need soul and body satisfying nourishment.  A light roux makes the soup seem richer than it is, and shredded chicken, fresh veggies and brown rice create a balanced bowl of goodness.

Vegan Chipotle Sweet Potato SoupVegan Sweet Potato Soup with Cilantro Chimichurri – It’s easy to make a meal out of this meat-free, dairy-free, vegan soup – it’s as hearty as it is healthy. The velvety texture is spicy, smoky and a touch sweet and the vibrant green drizzle adds an unexpected (yet delicious) tang!

So many different ways to top this delicious, nutritious soup!

Smoky Chipotle Butternut Squash & Chickpea Soup – Frozen cubed butternut squash and rinsed canned chickpeas keep this pleasingly peppery soup convenient for a quick fix on weeknights. A bowl of this soup will fit a vegan or vegetarian diet, but I like to add cheese and bacon!

Cranberry Orange Bourbon Beef Stew – When does a soup stop become a soup and start becoming a stew? Perhaps it’s when you add succulent, meaty chunks of beef to a slow cooker like in my delicious stew-soup hybrid that is elevated with a hints of orange and tangy berries.

Lemony Carrot Ginger Gazpacho – Stop thinking of gazpacho as only a warm-weather soup. This twist on the Spanish classic is perfect cool lunch for post-workout when you don’t want a steamy bowl of soup in your face. Or, if you feel chilled to the bowl, just go ahead and heat up Gazpacho, there’s now law that you can’t. I’ve done it and it’s great!

What is your favorite soup to make? Should soup be a “side” or “entree”? Do you ever take soup in a thermos to work? Tell me all the souper soup things in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

One-in-a-Melon Holiday Gift Guide for Watermelon Lovers

Even though summer season has long gone, the watermelon lover on your holiday list is sure to love any of these gifts inspired by the planet’s favorite jumbo-sized fruit – and, I’m not talking jackfruit.

Holiday Gift Guide for the Watermelon Lover

I’ve got 20 things on my list, there’s a little something for everyone here, from a designer coin bag to a ‘lil ukulele for plucking. While Santa would sure like to deliver real watermelons to all the good boys and girls, it’s bound to break his back — so do him a favor and “live on the wedge” with one of these fun novelty gifts.

Gift Guide for the Watermelon Lover

 

Watermelon KedsWatermelon Keds – These fun classic canvas tennies show how watermelon satisfies the “sole”! $20

 


Watermelon UkeleleWatermelon Ukulele – Pluck out your favorite, fruity tunes on this fun musical instrument.  $22

Watermelon Seed BookThe Watermelon Seed – This picture book by Greg Pizzoli is a must-read for watermelon lovers of all ages. Find out how the crocodile overcomes his fear of swallowing seeds! $12

watermelon growing kitSprout ‘n Go Greenhouse Baby Watermelon Kit – Perfect for the future farmer or budding botanist, this kit has everything needed (except patience and sunshine) to grow a Sugar Baby mini watermelon in less than three months! $9

crochet watermelon braCrochet Watermelon Bra – Bet your knitting granny never made a top quite like this bikini halter top that would be so amazing to show off at a summer music festival!  $6

Watermelon Gumballs by Double Bubble – fill up the gumball machine with these adorable pieces of round gum – the 3lb bag should last all year ‘round. $17

Salted Watermelon Energy GUSalted Watermelon GUs – Optimize performance in an endurance event with these salty watermelon energy gels — yassss, I just ordered some! $29 / for 24

Watermelon KnifeWatermelon Knife by Kuhn Rikon – Not is the blade painted up pretty, it makes an easy task of a tedious job. $20

 

 

Kate Spade Watermelon Coin PurseWatermelon Coin Purse by Kate Spade – Save your nickels and dime to get this awesome leather coin purse by one of America’s favorite bag designers. $48


Watermelon Knee SocksWatermelon Socks by Socksmith – I get a zillion compliments every time I step out in these fun knee-highs. $11

 

 

Watermelon Fitness Headband“Watermelon Crawl” by Sweaty Headbands – This hair accessory holds hair back off face and stays in place for running, CrossFit, yoga or pretty much any fitness activity.

Watermelon PJs – by Carters This four-piece, toddler-sized pajama set is a sweet choice for the little watermelon lovers in your life. $22

 

 

Pandora Crystal Silver Watermelon CharmWatermelon Charm by Pandora – enjoy a little slice of summer all year long with this sterling silver charm with sparkly crystals. $63

Watermelon Tervis Water BottleWatermelon Insulated Bottle by Tervis – Cold drinks stay cold, hot drinks stay hot in this sportym 24-ounce reusable water bottle. $20

 

 

 

watermelon-bike-hoodieWatermelon Bike Hoodie from Design by Humans – Artists from around the world submit artwork that you can then have made into everything from tanks to hoodies and more. There are so many watermelon designs (I’ve purchased quite a few) and this is bike one is next!

Watermelon UmbrellaWatermelon Umbrella – Stand out from the crowd with this whimsical watermelon umbrella, sure to brighten up any gloomy day. $15

 

 

WAtermelon OrnamentWatermelon Christmas Ornament – Deck the halls with this beautiful glass-blown holiday ornament. $7

Watermelon Scented PensWatermelon Scented SNIFTY Pens – the familiar fruity scent takes your mind off whatever boring task is at hand!

 

 

reload-watermelonReload Watermelon helps your muscles refuel, recover and rebuild after a hard run or intense workout with just whatcha need including branch chain amino acids. $22

 

 

 

FYI, this post contains affiliate links.

Do you eat watermelon in the winter? Do you have traditional fruit of the season (like my mom always put an orange in my stocking). What is the most fun or funniest gift you are giving this year? Lemme know — xoxo, Jennifer

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Cranberry Orange Bourbon Beef Stew w/ Sage Romano Grits + #StubbsInsider Giveaway

This post and giveaway was sponsored by Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q , however all opinions, comments and enthusiasm are my own.

Cranberry Orange Bourbon Beef Stew on Sage Romano Grits

This holiday season, I’ve made a vow to make all my meals with love, happiness and smiles. Not just the big celebration dinners, but also the crazy night meals when we’ve been out all day running errands, visiting with family or volunteering with our favorite charity (Brown Santa).  Some times on these chaotic nights, I get grumbly about making supper, but shortcuts with Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q products  keep me grinning even after sitting in shopping mall traffic or spending hours trying to figure out which bulb in a string of lights has burned out.

Cranberry Orange Bourbon Beef Stew on Sage Romano Grits in slow cooker

For this slow cooker recipe, I’ve used Stubb’s Smokehouse Bourbon Cookin’ Sauce. This convienient product (which is gluten free) works in both the skillet and slow cooker. It contains a flavorful sauce pouch made with bourbon, garlic and rosemary along with a spice packet that can be used to prep the meat. Browning Stew Meat

One little hint extra step I have for this quick and easy recipe is to brown the stew meat before putting in the crock pot. While this may seem unnecessary (and you can skip if absolutely pressed for time), it does create an amazing caramelization on the beef which helps to create a more complex flavor experience. Cranberry Orange Bourbon Beef Stew on Sage Romano Grits -  an easy slow cooker meat that will satisfy your guests this holiday season.

Don’t just think of Stubb’s ONLY as a way to fix traditional Texas BBQ. They have so many delicious Bar-B-Q sauces, marinades, rubs and Cookin’ Sauces that offer bold flavors to spur on your creativity in the kitchen this holiday season.

Of course, I love to create my own new holiday recipes as well as revisit family food traditions, but why recreate the wheel on every single side dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas and other winter family gatherings when Stubb’s has complied a delicious collection of recipes for the season?! stubbs-roasted-brussels-sprouts

Yes-sir-ee, the Stubb’s Roasted Brussels Sprouts will be a delicious compliment to my Slow Cooker Cranberry-Orange Beef Stew with Rosemary Garlic Grits. You need to try these, so amazing!   

stubbs-cranberry-orange-beef-packageTo help you get cooking with down-home but daring style, I’m hosting a giveaway for one reader to win a Stubb’s Prize Pack that includes a spatula, T-shirt, Stubb’s hat and coupons for free Stubb’s products (yeehaw)!  Just enter via the Rafflecopter app below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Cranberry Orange Bourbon Beef Stew on Sage Romano Grits
Cranberry Orange Bourbon Beef Stew w/ Sage Romano Grits
Print Recipe
Warm up with this tasty beef stew that is slightly spicy, sweet and tangy -- it makes a hearty meal topped on grits but you can also pair with pasta, potatoes, and whole grains.
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
4 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
4 hours
Cranberry Orange Bourbon Beef Stew on Sage Romano Grits
Cranberry Orange Bourbon Beef Stew w/ Sage Romano Grits
Print Recipe
Warm up with this tasty beef stew that is slightly spicy, sweet and tangy -- it makes a hearty meal topped on grits but you can also pair with pasta, potatoes, and whole grains.
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
4 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
4 hours
Instructions
for stew
  1. Sprinkle stew meat with spice packet from Stubb’s Slow Cooker Sauce (or simply season with salt and pepper for alternative preparation).
  2. Heat large, heavy-duty skillet to medium-high heat and brown stew meat in single layer. Don’t overcrowd, work in batches if necessary, draining cooking liquid between.
  3. Add browned stew meat to 6-quart slow cooker along with chopped onion, cranberry sauce, orange segments, orange zest, bourbon and Stubb’s Slow Cooker Sauce. Stir to combine.
  4. Top slow cooker with lid and simmer on high heat for 4 to 6 hours, or until beef tender. If desired, add 1 cup fresh cranberries to last 1 hour of simmering.
  5. *** If you can’t find Stubb’s Cookin’ Smokehouse Bourbon Flavor, the use this substitute. To season stew meat before browning, sprinkle with mixture of 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground pepper and ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes. For liquid, add 1 cup beef broth, 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin and add an additional 1 ounce of bourbon whiskey.
for grits
  1. Add water to saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Slowly stir in grits, sage and salt and then reduce to medium-low for simmer.
  2. Simmer for about 7 minutes stirring frequently. When thickened, stir in cheese until incorporated. Remove from heat.
  3. To serve, place a mound of grits on a plate and use a slotted spoon to remove beef, onions and fruit from slow cooker. Top with optional garnishes of grated orange zest and chopped parsley.
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Comforting Chicken & Rice Soup Recipe – Really Helps You Feel Better!

Comforting Chicken and Rice SoupThis is a bad news, good news post. Unfortunately, it’s that time of year when the sneezes, sniffles and the stuffy-head crud comes on. But the upside is that a comforting bowl full of chicken soup (your grandmother’s remedy) actually has some merit to making you feel better — plus, it tastes great too!

Best Ever Chicken and Rice Soup

fort davis boysI whipped up a huge batch of my  Best-Ever Chicken and Rice Soup when the kids came back from our recent trip to the mountains feeling under the weather. I had them licking their colds . . . and the bottom of their bowls in record time.

Dozens upon dozens of scientific studies have investigated the basis for this centuries-old remedy — from how the hot temperature unblocks stuffy airways to how the zinc found in certain ingredients might just shorten the length of a cold. Science aside, it’s pretty much agreed on that slurping up soup helps keep you hydrated, chases away chills associated with fever and reduce certain annoying symptoms of being sick. Plus, the addition of turmeric, a golden spice related to ginger, helps to provide the antioxident power you need to start feeling better.

Immunity Boosting Turmeric Chicken Soup takes away the chills and provides nutrients you need to start feeling betterIf you’re not feeling up to par, please see a doctor to make sure it’s nothing serious. But, I’d also highly recommend a batch of my Best Ever Chicken and Rice Soup.

<——- PIN THIS

This easy soup recipe is also ideal for light dinner and lunch leftovers to keep your wellness in check every day of the year.  Plan ahead and double the recipe – freeze in single serve portions for busy or sick day convenience.

Best Ever Chicken and Rice Soup with Instantly Fresh Herbs

instantly fresh herbsI’ve used Instantly Fresh Italian Herb Blend as a recipe shortcut to lighten and brighten the broth – it’s a medley of basil, oregano, garlic, red onions, red pepper, marjoram, rosemary and sage conveniently bottled together. I love these freeze-dried Instantly Fresh Herbs by Litehouse Foods — they have a huge assortment (I also love the Mint). Find them in the produce section or herb aisle of your grocery store. Head over to my Instagram profile (@thefitfork) now through this Monday (1/4) at midnight for a flash giveaway for three free product coupons. Look for my Chicken Soup photo and follow the post instructions to enter.

Do you have a home remedy for times when you’re feeling under the weather? What is your favorite soup? Please share in the comments below, XOXO — Jennifer  

I

Best Ever Chicken and Rice Soup with Instantly Fresh Herbs
Best Ever Chicken & Rice Soup
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8 large bowls 15 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
8 large bowls 15 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Best Ever Chicken and Rice Soup with Instantly Fresh Herbs
Best Ever Chicken & Rice Soup
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8 large bowls 15 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
8 large bowls 15 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Instructions
  1. Prepare rice according to package instructions. Set aside. In large stock pot, boil chicken breasts in water for 15 to 20 minutes or until no longer pink inside and internal temperature reaches a minimum of 165 F degrees.
  2. Remove chicken breasts from pot, but do not discard water. Skim off any residue not desired in soup. When chicken is cool enough to handle, pull apart with fingers or fork into large shreds. Add back to pot with water. Add bouillon cubes. Turn heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, add olive oil to large skilled and bring to medium high heat. Add chopped onion, bell pepper, celery, and carrots. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes or until vegetables are softening. Add garlic and continue to cook for 1 more minute.
  4. Add vegetables to stock pot with chicken. Return skillet to stove top. Add Instantly Fresh Herb Blend to pot with chicken and vegetables, keep simmering and stirring occasionally.
  5. To make thickening roux, melt butter in skillet over medium heat. When butter is beginning to bubble, whisk in flour and stir constantly and quickly for several minutes, or until it has turned a light golden brown. Remove skillet from heat and allow roux to cool a bit.
  6. Once roux is no longer hot (can be warm), scrape into stock pot and stir well to combine. Stir in prepared rice. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Continue to simmer soup for 15 more minutes, or until everything heated through.
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Winter Workouts – 40 Fitness Hacks for the Holidays

40 Fitness Hacks for the HolidaysRaise your hand if you love the holiday season as much as me!  Now, raise the other hand and jump up and then down to the ground in a burpee – yay, now we’re exercising! Between parties, shopping, baking and volunteering, I sometimes find my self fa-la-la-ing too much and forgetting about my normally-scheduled sweat sessions. Well, I never really “forget” to run or workout, rather I just just can’t figure out how to fit a fitness session into the whirlwind of winter celebrations. Even sneaking in a quick run can be unpredictable when the weather won’t cooperate, traveling is on the agenda, or you’re hosting overnight holiday company.

But, I’ve found that just doing ANYTHING is SOMETHING – fit in a holiday fitness hack wherever you can!  As a firm believer that “all the little things” add up, I’ve made a list (and checked it twice) of exercises you can sneak in when life gets busy. Don’t worry about getting side-glances doing some of the crazy-sounding moves in public — soon you’ll be get getting ALL the attention with your super fit New Year’s body. By the way, I originally came up with these 40 Holiday Fitness Hacks for Core Power High Protein Shakes — an excellent way to power up with 20 – 26g of protein and keep your belly from shaking like jelly!

At home:

  • Wrapping Paper Roll High Knee: Lay out a series wrapping paper rolls on the ground about 2 feet apart. Quickly move laterally, pulling knees up to waist while moving between rolls with each step.
  • Rake Yard: Work up a sweat rounding up all those fallen fall leaves – offer to do the neighbor’s yard, too!
  • Shovel Snow: No leaves left, but have snow? Clear a path for company with this heart-pumping chore!
  • Front Box Carry: Take that heavy box of holiday decorations and hold it at your chest. Walk down the longest hall in your house and back.
  • Ladder Side Plank Dips: After putting up holiday lights, use lower rungs of ladder for a challenging side plank. Rest feet on a rung that is even with your hips and dip down and back up to a side plank.
  • Kitchen Squat Jumps: Take a break from slicing and dicing with a few sets of squat jumps. Put your knife down, lower into a squat and jump upward explosively; repeat.
  • Bar Stool Pistols: Stand side-by-side to bar stool and lower down into a pistol using bar stool for balance; repeat on opposite leg.
  • Yoga Tree Pose: Stop and admire your holiday tree with a classic yoga pose that will challenge and improve your balance. Stand with feet together; bend one leg up at the knee, resting foot anywhere between knee and crotch. Extend arms upward or to sides for balance. Hold until failure and repeat on opposite side.
  • Ab Rolling Pin Roll Outs: While on knees, use rolling pin to extend forward while keeping core engaged; roll back up and repeat. This is proof abs ARE made in the kitchen!
  • Commercial Break Cardio: When watching holiday classics with the kids, get everyone moving with jumping jacks, burpees, mountain climbers or other heart-pumping exercises until the show comes back on. No fast-forwarding with the DVR!

 

In a hotel:

  • Ice Bucket Goblet Squats: Fill ice bucket up to give more weight and hold at chest while dropping down into squats; repeat.
  • Towel Hop: Lay out a series of hand towels 5 or 6 feet apart in a line and use them as your target for standing long jumps.
  • Bed Decline Push-ups: Put feet up on bed and lower down into push-ups; repeat.’
  • Wall Sit: Find an uncluttered wall and slide back down wall until thighs parallel with ground and knees bent at 90 degree angle. Hold as long as you can.
  • Burpees: Knock out as many traditional burpees as you can before hotel room guests below start complaining.
  • Water Bottle Tricep Extension: Grab that one-liter water bottle by the mini bar and get after one-arm tricep extensions. Hold bottle overhead and bending backward at the elbow. A liter only weighs about 2.25 lbs. so ramp up your reps.
  • Bed Bridge: In a room with two beds, see how long you can hold a plank with feet on one bed, arms on the other.
  • Hallway Handstands: Practice handstands in the small hallway inside the hotel room. Kick up to a handstand and balance against the door, or place a folded towel on the ground for headstand modification.
  • Luggage Sumo High Pull: Grab a duffel or small carry-on at the handle with both hands and pull to chin moving elbows upward; lower and repeat.
  • Polar Bear Swim: Head to the hotel pool and knock out a few laps! If not heated, you’ll be motivated to swim fast!

At the mall:

  • Mall Walk: Not just for seniors, you can rack up extra daily steps by taking a couple bonus laps around the stores.
  • Stair Climb: Always choose the stairs over the escalator or elevator – it’s less crowded too!
  • Fitting Room Stretch: Loosen up before sliding into those new skinny jeans with toe touches, windmills and arms-behind-back stretching.
  • Food Court Booty Squeezes: No one will be the wiser if you are flexing and relaxing your glutes repeatedly with this isometric exercise.
  • Park in the Boonies: Leave your car in the furthest away spot from the mall entrance.
  • Shopping Sherpa: Volunteer to carry the entire family’s load of purchases. Distribute weight in bags evenly between both arms for a farmer’s carry type workout.
  • Bench Hops: Find and empty, backless bench and grab sides firmly with both hands. Starting with feet together on one side, jump legs and torso to clear bench and land on the opposing side, with hands staying in place; repeat to other side.
  • Santa Line Lunges: While waiting in the long line to see St. Nick, take every step forward with a lunge. Repeat as the line permits.
  • Ice Skate: Most malls put up rinks during the holiday season, take advantage of the fun and burn around 362 calories per hour.
  • Grand Total Jumping Jacks: When back in the parking lot, tally up your receipts and bust out the same number of jumping jacks. For example, $250 spent means 250 jumping jacks – you’ll warm up as a bonus!

At the market:

  • Top Shelf Calf Raises: Extend up onto your tip-toes for 10 to 20 reps as if reaching to grab a can from the top shelf.  
  • Lower Shelf Squats: Rather than bending over to get an item squat and hold for 15 seconds; repeat.
  • Cart Rows: Hold handle bar of shopping cart with both arms extended and legs shoulder. Pull cart toward you and then push away, without letting go of handle. Fill cart with big bags of dog food for an extra challenge!
  • Milk Jug Side Bends: With legs shoulder-width apart, hold milk jug by handle, hanging arm downward at side. Bend torso at side; return upright and repeat on opposing side.
  • Freezer Aisle Agility: Park cart at one end and run high knees to last freezer door. Stop, do a tuck jump, get anything you need from the freezer and side skip back to cart.
  • Shopper Wood Choppers: Grab heavier items for your holiday recipes (like 5lb. bag of sugar) and set on ground near feet. Pick up with both hands and rotate upward with arms overhead; repeat 10 to 20 times before putting in your cart.
  • Line-Wait Leg Circles: While waiting in line to check out, lift one leg about 8-inches off ground. Keep leg straight, point toe and rotate around in small, imaginary circles.
  • Chest Opener Stretch: Also good while waiting in line, stand with back straight and shoulders pulled back. Reach behind and clasp both hands together while bringing hands up towards head as far as possible. Hold for 15 seconds.
  • Bag It Bicep Curls: Bag your groceries and then hold by handles and knock out a few bicep curls on each side.
  • Homeward-Bound Quad Pulses: While driving home in car, pulse your quads alternating left and right for the duration of each stop light.

Jingle Bell 5k AUstin 2015

I woke up early this weekend to run in the Jingle Bell Dash 5k with a friend. Done by 9 am and still out and about, I was able to tackle last minute holiday shopping!

How are you sneaking in fitness this holiday season? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer 

5 Tips to Carry Fitness Motivation Through Winter + Compression Sock #Giveaway

5 Tips to Carry Workout Motivations Through WinterIt’s only the beginning of November, but between dwindling daylight hours and cooler temperatures many are already wondering how to stick with a fitness routine when it’s time to move indoors from outdoors. Both professional and recreational athletes alike complain that seasonal weather swings, along with hectic holiday schedules, can contribute to fitness fallout. Don’t let your workouts get sidelined this fall and winter– these suggestions will keep you motivated and on task until the return of sunny skies and warm weather.  Oh, and don’t forget to enter my giveaway at the bottom of this post to win a pair of VIM & VIGR Compression socks – cute new gear is ALWAYS one of the ways I stay motivated to workout.

Rowing indoors during winter makes good running alternative.

Embrace Cardio Equipment: Take your heart-pumping workout to the treadmill, stationary bike or row machine. While logging loads of miles without physically moving forward poses a mental challenge, the monotony of machines can be overcome by incorporating intervals, hills or other challenging elements that keep you pushing buttons and pushing the pace. For example, runners can sprint a ladder of eight 400 meters intervals with each getting successively faster.

Consider Gym Alternatives: While it may be too dark or dangerous to participate in your favorite outdoor activity, look around and you can probably find an indoor comparable at the health club.  Obstacle course racers can hone skills at rock climbing gyms or CrossFit boxes while hikers can jam it out on the Jacob’s ladder machine or stationary stair climber while listening to nature-inspired music. Get creative!

Widen Workout Net: Keep your interest up by trying out new classes; the fall and winter are the perfect time to challenge yourself with new skills. Plus, working out in a group setting offers the motivation and structure many need to succeed. Mix it up and try a fitness class you’ve never done before like yoga, TRX suspension training, trampolining or even indoor surfing! A Class Pass or similar service is a great way to exercise within a large network of fitness studios without having to have a membership to each.

Build a Bootcamp: Recruit your family, friends and neighbors to join the workout fun by organizing a boot camp. You provide space in a basement, garage or den with the couch scooted to the side and attendees provide the on-the-spot comradery and encouragement needed to get the job of burpees, pushups and squat jumps done. To keep things fun and fresh, take turns writing up the workouts or start a friendly “challenge” style competition.

Reward Your Hard Work: A pat on the back for busting your butt in the gym is nice and all, but sometimes a more tangible incentive is in order! List out short and long term goals for your fall and winter fitness and then pick a few rewards – maybe something smaller for the short term rewards, like a new pair of compression socks or new music downloads and something bigger like a snazzy new GPS watch or fancy sunglasses for the season-end goals.

If you’re into compression socks like I am, then you’ll love to reward yourself with a pair or two from VIM & VIGR. If you’ve seen me running and hand-standing my way through Instagram, you’ve most likely taken note that I am partial to knee-high compression socks – and the brighter and more patterned, the better! Compression socks keep my legs feeling fresh when running fast or long, they keep me warmer when the weather cools down (cold is under 75 degrees to me), and they facilitate muscle recovery by keeping blood circulating. Compression knee-high socks also keep my shins from getting scuffed up doing dead-lifts, box jumps or rope climbs.  They are also excellent for traveling or days when I have to stand all day working at a conference or cooking demo.

Vim & Vigr Compression Sock Giveaway

VIM & VIGR has to be the most fun, most hip and most happy brand of compression socks around – for both gals and guys. This is the only brand I will wear now, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a lucky-duck ambassador. The fit is great, the “squeeze” is just right, and the styles are modern and fun and begging to be shown off!  There’s not a day that goes by when someone doesn’t tell me that “they love my socks”!  You need to enter the giveaway below – three of my readers will each win a pair of their choice!

Visit VimVigr.com and let me know which pair of compression socks you like best! Share in the comments below. And don’t forget to enter via the Rafflecopter app below for more ways to enter! XOXO, Jennifer

a Rafflecopter giveaway