Friday, December 5, 2014

Les Mills Combat: Day 1

I started Les Mills Combat today, and it was SO FUN - seriously. Combat is a 60 day program based on 6 different styles of martial arts (Boxing, Muay Thai, Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Capoeira and Jiu Jitsu) so it's really physical and active, but more fun than just repeating basic workout moves over and over again. I mean, who wouldn't like kicking and punching and pretending to beat down bad guys? (ok so they kept saying "your opponent" during the workout like you're in a ring or something but come on, kicking bad guy butt is so much more satisfying.) There are two instructors - one woman and one man - and 4 other participants including someone modifying the moves to make them low impact.

Day 1 was Combat 30: Kick Start - a high paced cardio workout with a lot of upper body punches and a crazy stretch of hundreds of kicks (literally hundreds) that was only 30 minutes. I'm wondering if I'll be sore tomorrow; I think I can feel it in my shoulders already.  I'm excited to see what tomorrow's workout is like, and that's always a good thing because it makes it that much easier to press play!

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Get Healthy for the Holidays

I'm co-hosting a 30-day fitness challenge and it starts in just a few weeks! Why wait for January to work on your New Year's resolution? Join us, dial it in for 30 days and then reward yourself with a Thanksgiving feast! Not to mention, you could win some holiday shopping money!

Leave a comment or send me a message if you'd like more information.

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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Jumpstart Your Health Journey: A Weekly Series of Health and Fitness Tips

This week I'm starting a health and fitness tip series so that I can share the kinds of things that have helped me during my journey to fitness, hopefully in an easily digested (see what I did there?) format. The idea is to have one tip a week, that you can implement one week at a time, adding on each week so at the end of the series you're well on your way to your own optimum health.

There are so many little things you can do to start building healthy habits around food and exercise - and it doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Try things out, stick with them for at least a week so you can see if it's made any impact on your health at all, and above all, keep moving forward!

As we go on, I'd love to hear your own tips for how you work to improve your health - what's the number one thing that gets you moving or keeps you motivated?

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Saturday, October 4, 2014

Curried Butternut Squash Bisque {Recipe}

I love Fall - the crisp air, chilly mornings, the leaves turning colors. Football weekends and our family's annual apple cider press. The kids are back to school - we can start to have a routine again which is great and cuts down a bit on the chaos. Autumn is also my favorite food season - all of the warming spices, roasted  meats and vegetables and comforting soups and stews.

One of my most favorite fall soups to serve is a simple curried butternut squash bisque (or cream soup). This version tastes so rich with the curry powder and the caramelized onions but it's actually quite light - prepared without any cream or stock at all. Best of all it doesn't take much time to prepare; you could have it on the table in an hour and if you've roasted the squash ahead of time it only takes about 20 minutes!

Curried Butternut Squash Bisque (Serves 8-10)

1 butternut squash
1 red onion (large, about 2 cups chopped)
1 TBS olive oil or coconut oil
2 TBS curry powder
1 tsp kosher salt
3 cups water

1. First roast the squash by preheating the oven to 400°F and slicing the squash in half lengthwise. Empty out the seeds from the cavity and place the squash halves face down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or tinfoil (to make cleanup easier). Roast for around 40 minutes until the squash is soft when poked with a fork. When the squash is cool enough to handle scrape out the flesh and set it aside.

2. Roughly chop the onion (no need to worry about the size of the chop since you'll be pureeing the soup later).

3. In a heavy soup pot heat the oil over medium high heat, then add the onion and salt and saute until the onion has softened and begun to caramelize. Once the onion is softened and browned, add the curry powder and cook for a minute or so, stirring so it won’t burn.

4. Next add the squash and the water, stirring well. Allow the soup to boil gently for a few minutes – since everything is already cooked you don’t need to cook it long. The vegetables should be covered in water, so you might need to add more water, depending on how big the squash was to start.

5. Now puree the soup. I love using an immersion blender for this, because you can do it right in the pan while the soup is still quite hot. If you’re using a regular blender you might want to let the soup cool down some so you don’t blow the top off the blender. Return the soup to the pot, heat it up again and you’re done!

Now this is the most basic version – here are some ways to adapt it to make it even better:
  • The recipe is vegan, but it tastes great if you use chicken stock instead of water.
  • When you roast the squash, try chopping the top off of a head of garlic so the cloves are exposed and sticking it under one of the squash hollows to roast – when the squash is done you’ll have a head of mild, nutty creamy roast garlic that you can squeeze right into the soup when you add the squash.
  • Roast the squash a day or two before if you're baking something else in the oven, then just scoop out the flesh and store it in the fridge until you're ready to make the soup.
  • Use a bit less water and add a half cup or so of coconut milk to the soup – you’ll have Curried Coconut Squash Bisque.
  • Add a small can of diced green chiles before pureeing, or saute a mild chile along with the onions for a spicy kick.
  • This soup freezes beautifully, so you might as well make a full pot and freeze the leftovers in smaller portion sizes to reheat later.
Do you have a favorite fall soup? I'd love to hear from you if you do - and leave me a link to your recipe in the comments so I can try it myself!

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This recipe was originally posted on my food & craft blog

Friday, October 3, 2014

October FREE 7 Day Clean Eating Challenge

I still have a few spots available in this month's clean eating challenge - who wants to challenge themselves to clean up their kitchen and their diet for 1 week? Just 1 week - you got this! Let’s learn some new recipes, get some mini HIIT workouts in and create some healthy habits that could lead to a lifetime of change! As part of the challenge you'll have access to meal plan with a week of healthy recipes (there are even modified plans for vegan and paleo diets), lots of helpful information about what it means to 'eat clean', and the support and encouragement of a group.

Fall is the hardest time for me to stay on track, so if this sounds like you too, comment below and come join me! Let’s keep each other accountable. 

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Transformation Tuesday

It's Transformation Tuesday! Look how I changed in just four months - looking at the pictures now I can't even quite believe it but I did it, and the real changes aren't even visible from the outside. I just got back from a beach vacation and the level of fitness I have right now kind of surprised me - I went for several hour long beach runs and a long bike ride with no real effort or fatigue and that felt GREAT!

I've never put photos like this out in public before, but I'm doing it now because I really believe that Beachbody and Shakeology can change lives and I'm proof of that - in just four months I've lost 13 pounds and almost 11 inches from my body. It took consistent work and some willpower, but with the help and motivation of my fitness community and the effective workouts and eating plans from Beachbody it wasn't as hard as I imagined it might be. I know that this can work for anyone who puts in the time (and hey, 30 minutes is just 2% of your day, and isn't 2% worth spending on your health?).

You can do this! I'd love to help you have this kind of result too - if you'd like to know more, connect with me on Facebook and I'll add you to my (absolutely free) fitness community group where you can see what Beachbody and Shakeology can do for you.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Swiss Chard and Artichoke Tart {Recipe}

Savory tarts are some of my favorite things to eat - I love the combination of the rich crust, the flavorful vegetables, the filling egg and salty cheese. They're also versatile, so you can serve them for breakfast, lunch or dinner. In Peru there is a popular swiss chard tart made with whole eggs baked in the middle - this is a variation on that with the egg mixed into the chard instead, and the addition of artichoke hearts.

Because I'm really trying hard to cook healthy food for my family, we end up eating a lot of simple grilled or baked meats or fish - my old standby dishes are often too loaded with fats and sugars to fit into our menu anymore. This tart tastes like a treat, but it's packed with leafy greens and protein so it's good for us too.

Swiss Chard and Artichoke Tart
serves 8

1 package prepared pie dough (2 sheets), or your own favorite dough recipe divided into two and rolled out into circles
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped (about 1/2 medium onion)
20 oz Swiss Chard, chopped
10 oz Artichoke hearts, quartered (I like using the frozen kind so they have no added oil, but thaw them before using)
6 eggs
1/2 cup Gouda cheese, grated
1 TBS olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

1.  Heat the olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat, add the onion and saute until the onion has begun to brown lightly.

2. Add the chard and stir occasionally for about 20 minutes, until it has softened and reduced in volume. (you might need to add it in two batches, depending on how big your pan is - if you do, let the first batch cook down some and then add the second).

3. Add the artichoke hearts and the salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes more, then remove the pot from the heat and let the mixture cool.

4. In a mixing bowl, lightly beat the 6 eggs and then add the grated cheese and stir to combine.

5. Line a 9" pie plate with one of the dough circles and lightly prick the bottom of the crust with a fork.

6. Once the chard mixture is cool, add it to the egg mixture and fold the two together until they are mixed well, then put the filling into the pie crust.

7. Top the pie with the second crust, crimp the edges of the bottom and top crusts together and cut 4 slits in the top to let the filling vent.

8. Brush the top of the crust with milk or an egg wash to help it brown, then cook in a 425 degree oven for 30 minutes. Let the tart cool slightly before serving it - this tart is delicious hot, room temperature or even cold from the refrigerator.

Note: If you're watching your calorie intake, you can leave the top crust off and it will be just as delicious!

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

I've spent a lot of time over the years hoping for how I wanted my life to be different, but I never really managed to put in the work to have that happen. 

Something changed this time around - maybe it was hearing the little motivational throw-aways from Autumn in the 21 Day Fix videos (It only works if you do!) or all of the posts and support of the other members in that first challenge, but I get it now. Just Do It - Duh! Nike had it figured out along time ago but I guess I'm just slow.

I finally get that sitting on the couch watching The Biggest Loser and hoping to get in better shape is not helping at all, but every minute of exercise I do, or every good decision I make in my nutrition DOES help. This is actually an amazing breakthrough that I can apply to every aspect of my life. I can't hope the kids behave better; I have to do the work with them to make that happen. I can't hope my coaching business grows; I have to do the work to make that happen.

Have you had this breakthrough yet, or are you still hoping instead of working?

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Bulgur Wheat Salad With Cucumbers and Tomatoes {Recipe}

I love salads - especially in the summer - and sometimes I just need one that's a little more filling than a traditional green or vegetable salad. This bulgur wheat salad with cucumbers and tomatoes gives that extra protein to boost your energy throughout your day. It's great as a main dish at lunchtime, but also works well as a side for whatever you're grilling, and since it only boils for 10 minutes it keeps the kitchen cool when it's just too hot to deal.

Bulgur Wheat Salad With Cucumbers and Tomatoes
serves 8

1 bag Trader Joe's 10 minute bulgur (8.8 oz)
1 cube of chicken broth, or 6 cups broth
2 persian cucumbers, sliced (or 1/2 of an english cuke)
15 cherry tomatoes, halved
 1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 bell pepper, orange or yellow, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
2 TBS olive oil
juice from one lime
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1. Cook the bulgur wheat in water with a bullion cube or in broth (follow package directions for cooking time). Once the wheat is cooked, drain it and set it aside to cool slightly while you prepare the dressing.

2. In the bottom of a large serving bowl, mix the olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper.

3. Add all of the chopped vegetables and cilantro to the bowl, and then add the bulgur wheat on top and mix well. Make sure you bring the dressing up from the bottom of the bowl by folding the vegetables into the bulgur.

4. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary - then serve chilled or at room temperature. It's especially nice to serve on a bed of fresh spinach leaves for a little extra texture. This salad holds up well on a picnic table and will keep in the refrigerator for a few days.

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Join Other Moms to Get Fit - What Will You do With Your Today?

A coach friend of mine is starting a challenge group exclusively for postpartum moms and I have an opportunity to add a few challengers to the group. I'm so excited about this group because we'll all be working on our goals together and supporting each other through the unique challenges moms face in trying to get fit. 

Now what is a challenge group you might ask? It's a coach-led, exclusive group committed to getting healthy where participants agree to do a Beachbody fitness program, drink Shakeology daily and check in with other participants on a private Facebook page. You choose the Beachbody program you'd like to work with, join our group and let the camaraderie and support of other moms help you reach your goals.  

I joined a challenge group when I first started with Beachbody and it was really one of the keys to the success I had. I did the 21 Day Fix program and just being able to chat with other challengers about what they were eating, how the workouts were going (commiserating about sore legs after Lower Body Fix) and sharing progress made such a difference in my commitment to stick with it for those three weeks – and once I had finished the 21 days I had a solid routine of fitness and healthy habits that allowed me to move forward easily from there. I have no doubt that without the challenge group I would have stopped pushing play on the DVDs long before the program was over. The only thing I regret is not getting started sooner - you CAN get healthy and you might as well start now!

If this is something you might be interested in email me at meghanguillen – at – gmail –dot – com or friend me on Facebook so we can chat.

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Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Best Feeling is Finishing Something You Almost Quit

The worst feeling is quitting.

The best feeling is finishing something you almost quit.

Don't quit.

I wrestled with that thought 15 minutes into my workout today, when I just wasn't feeling it. I had low energy, it was hot out and I had a lot of other things to do, so as I went through the moves I tried to talk myself into quitting. Suddenly I thought “You feel terrible right now exercising, but you'll feel worse five minutes from now if you stop. If you keep going and make it to the end you'll feel awesome”.

The worst feeling is quitting.

The best feeling is finishing something you almost quit.

Don't quit.

There are so many times when you're working toward a goal, whether it's a fitness or health goal, or some other personal or professional challenge that you will want to quit. It might be because you're tired or feeling badly, or you're discouraged by not seeing the results you want, or it might be that voice of negativity that we all have at one time or another, telling us we're not good enough to do it, or not worth it. If you can feel what you're feeling and then move past it and keep on, you will succeed. So today I kept going, gave myself permission to ease up a little on the intensity and finished. I did feel awesome, not so much because I made my body a bit stronger, but because I made my spirit stronger.

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Mandarin Orange Granita {Recipe}

Mandarin oranges are starting to come back into season now, and if you hurry you can make this delicious and super simple frozen treat to enjoy as summer winds down.

There really is no recipe - I'll just walk you through the process.

1. Peel and juice a bunch of mandarin oranges. I used about half of a five pound bag, so like 2.5lbs. It doesn't need to be exact! Collect the juice into a bowl, or if you're like me and don't like to wash any unnecessary dishes, into a baking dish. My little helper (little helpers are always good BTW) juiced the oranges straight into the baking dish we used to freeze the granita. A shallow wide dish will help the juice to freeze more quickly.

2. Stick the dish into the freezer, and let it begin to freeze. Check on it after about 30 minutes - if it is still mostly liquid put it back in for more time, but if it is starting to freeze up then grab a fork and stir it up. Use the fork to scrape and break up any frozen bits and then back into the freezer it goes.

3. After another half an hour check and scrape and stir again - the more often you scrape and stir the finer textured the granita will be (but it's delicious no matter what texture it has).

4. Once the juice is completely frozen, you should have a dish of fine, loose mandarin orange ice crystals - and that's your granita. Spoon it into cups, ramekins or small bowls and serve it immediately - it will begin to melt quickly out of the freezer. If you'd like to make it ahead and serve it later, I'd recommend wrapping it well once it's completely frozen to keep any freezer odors out of it.

This works with any juice, really - if you're using a more tart fruit like lime or lemon I'd add some sugar or other sweetener to cut the acidity, but otherwise just juice and freeze. Yum, can you imagine how good a lemon basil granita would be, or a pear lavender? The possibilities are endless.

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Why I Became a Beachbody Coach

Before trying the Beachbody programs I struggled with the motivation to work out regularly, and I never felt like working out gave me the results I was looking for. Even as I trained for and ran a marathon I never had the muscle tone or definition that I wanted, and time after time I would give up on exercise because of that disappointment. I gained more weight after each of my children was born, and even as I was successfully losing weight on my own I never felt like it changed my body enough to see real results. Because of that I tended to gain back at least some of what I'd lost each time.

All of that changed when a friend from my son's preschool told me about the program she was using to get her amazing results. I joined a clean eating challenge group she was running, and then started 21 Day Fix – and suddenly I was beginning to see a transformation in my body that I hadn't had in the past 15 years. My husband started to work out with me, and his changes were phenomenal as well. However, the moment I truly became a believer in Beachbody and their programs was when I ran a 5K after not running for years – and ran my peak marathon training pace without even trying! My fitness level had increased so dramatically after only a few months of 30 minutes/day workouts that I was able to breeze through those 3 miles easily. Now my goals are to get stronger, more flexible and more toned. I'm using Piyo now and absolutely loving the yoga / pilates combination and how I feel at the end of a workout.

I became a Beachbody coach because I absolutely believe these programs can be effective – I've seen it work for myself, my husband and friends – and I want to help other people feel the way that I do now. The fitness communities that we have access to through the Beachbody site and through Facebook are so inspiring and motivating that I know if people really get involved and give the programs a chance to work, their bodies and lives will be transformed as well.

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