Girl, Get Yo Life Back: Health is Wealth
I'm a pony! I'm a pony! I'm a pony! Yes, I'm old enough to remember the zany antics of fitness guru Richard Simmons, with his frizzy, red afro; skin tight, shiny lycra leggings; loose fitting tank top; scrunchy socks and tennis shoes dancing and jumping around, yelling out commands to old school music with his troupe of fitness groupies dancing along in the background. I grew up in the days of Jazzercise, Tae Bo and water aerobics, before there was ever a Planet Fitness membership available. Exercise wasn't a chore, it was something that the masses embraced and had fun with! I think for 2021, in order to help get our lives back, we need to rediscover that mentality and get our booties moving once again! It's time to dust off the old tennis shoes, pull out the sweats... wait we've BEEN in sweats for months now so they shouldn't be hard to find... freshen up our messy buns/ponytails and kick start our healthy living journey together! 

Fun Fact: In college, I had to take PE as a requirement for my degree. Now I have ALWAYS hated anything that had to do with being hot and sweaty that didn't involve a sexy man or a beach! So the idea of having to take a PE class for me was worse than my hair turning green after a bad dye job! (Don't act like I'm the only one who rocked green hair accidentally!) Anyway, I thought I'd take a 'bunny class' and enrolled in Aerobics 101. Little did I know I would be required to create my own 20 minute aerobics workout routine as my semester final exam! You wanna talk about dying and not wanting to be revived?! I had no idea what the heck I was going to do. So I was sitting in my apartment, lamenting over this routine, when the perfect song came on: Pony by Ginuwine! I thought to myself, what if I did a routine to that song and incorporated some dance moves... two days, a lot of sweat and mistakes later my final exam routine was completed. I was so nervous, but I got up there and taught that routine and my teacher loved it! I got an A and I guess I really did get to be a 'pony' for a day. I'm STILL not the girl who loves to exercise, but I know that it's good for you and you can always find ways to make it fun!

Exercise isn't just for losing weight. Heck honestly, 90% of weight loss starts in the kitchen! You can exercise until you're literally blue in the face, if you go home and stuff that same face with all the chips, cakes, cookies and sodas that are lingering around in your pantry you have just defeated the whole purpose! Now I'm not about to start preaching to you about not eating this or that; I'm the type of person where if you tell me I CAN'T have something, that's exactly when I will want it! So I don't believe in deprivation at all; but, I do believe in moderation. That's why meal planning is such an integral tool to utilize in your daily routine. Meal prepping can be a life saver in so many ways. I mean how many nights have you sat and said "what in the world am I going to cook for dinner tonight," or how many nights have you ordered in because you really didn't feel like getting up to cook anything, not even ramen noodles? Or heck, how many nights did you just cook something quick and easy: hot dogs and chips, ramen noodles, the whole bag of Oreos????? I am guilty of doing all of the above! But what I learned with my busy schedule as a momprenuer and businesswoman is that I don't have to take the hard road every time. I can eliminate some of the chaos by meal prepping. 

So I know you're thinking, meal prepping seems like a lot of work and a lot of Tupperware involved; but it doesn't have to. I pick one day out of the week, Sunday for me, to sit down and plan out what I want to eat for the week. This also allows me to create a grocery list that I will stick to and not end up with a bunch of duplicates in my cabinet or junk food that I just don't need. Once I've completed my list and gone shopping, I come back home and start cooking/preparing everything for the week. Let me give you an example:

Breakfast: Instant Oatmeal; Cereal; Pancakes; Sausage, Egg and Cheese English Muffins; Egg and Bacon Muffins

Lunch: Salad, Tuna, Grilled Chicken, Baked Potatoes, Fruit Bowl

Dinner: Salmon, Chicken, Meatloaf, Broccoli, Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans, Carrots, Mashed Cauliflower, Salad 

When trying to eat healthier make sure you are choosing fresh, non-processed options as much as possible. Frozen fruits and veggies are good options when fresh isn't available. Whole wheat versions instead of enriched, bleached white flour are also better choices for grains and cereals. So what do I do with the menu from above? I'll just give you a brief idea of how I would use the items listed above to create my meals for the week. I start with Breakfast and work my way down to Dinner, and see what I can group together on the stove or in the oven and go from there. Homemade pancakes take just a few minutes to whip up, make a whole ton of pancakes and freeze really well. I whip up the batch, let them cool, then portion them off into stacks of 3 and wrap them in wax paper before putting them into a sandwich bag for the freezer. While I'm cooking my pancakes on the stove top, I have my chicken, regular and sweet potatoes, in separate pans, baking away in the oven. Once my pancakes are done, I start on my meatloaf and sausage. Yes you can make your own sausage patties! I use ground turkey for both. I purchase about three pounds of ground turkey and separate off about one pound for my sausages. Then I season the pound for sausages with some salt, white pepper, sage, and a little cayenne pepper and form into small patties. Cook these over medium heat until done and set aside to cool. Take the other two pounds and make your meatloaf. if there's room in the oven, go ahead and stick it in or you can wrap it up and put it in the fridge to cook on the day that you want it. Salmon is one of those dishes that doesn't take long to cook and actually tastes better the day of, so I don't pre-cook that. But you can prep salmon and veggie packets with some aluminum foil and store them in the fridge/freezer for your meals later on in the week. I put some salmon and some fresh green beans, with my choice of seasonings, together in the foil. When I'm ready to eat it, I pop it in the oven and reheat the baked potato that I already cooked. You could also pair the salmon with a nice salad. Either way it's a quick and easy meal.  

The point here is to save yourself some time and energy that could be used elsewhere (like a few moments of self-care, reading, journaling or exercising). Now that we've worked on eliminating meal time stress and are making better food choices, let's get back to talking about moving that booty!

Exercising doesn't have to take all day and you really don't need a bunch of fancy equipment to get the job done. Trust me, you have tons of stuff around the house that you can use! A gallon of water or milk makes a great hand weight. So does a bag of sugar, flour or potatoes. Your dining room chair works wonderfully for doing squats and chair dips (also known as tricep dips). If you have at least two steps or a medium sized box you've got what you need to do heel toe raises, step-ups, lunges or mountain climbers. You've got a floor, so you have the equipment you need to do jumping jacks, push ups, bridges, or burpees... yes, I know burpees are the devil, but they work! And there's always going for a brisk walk down the road. Not only will the walk be good exercise, you'll be getting some sunshine and fresh air which will both help elevate your mood and bring you new energy. And of course, you can always utilize trusty old YouTube for fitness videos to follow along with and get your workout on! I absolutely love the energy and fun in the workouts from The Fitness Marshall. He has low and high impact versions of his routines and just has so much fun moving. You might even learn a new dance move or two in the process. Make yourself a priority and commit to at least 20-30 minutes a day to work in some exercise. Not only will you see the health benefits of exercising, you'll start to feel better, you'll gain some energy, you'll get rid of some of your daily stress and you may even lose a few pounds or gain some muscles! Exercising will help you become the best version of you that you can be, and when you do that you're more productive not just at work but at home too. The old saying 'health is wealth' is very true! It costs more to do to the doctor and take a bunch of pills to cure an ailment that it does to work on being healthy. Being sick costs way too much, and it's not all monetary either.

So let's do this Girl! 2021 is about having a better life, so let's get to movin' and Girl, Get Yo Life Back!