Low Carb Chicken Enchilada Bake

So I gotta admit, I got this recipe from a blog on Pinterest, (you can find it here: http://www.diary4cook.org/no-tortilla-cheesy-chicken-enchilada-bake/) , BUT since I tweaked it a little bit and it turned out FABULOUSSSSS I knew I just had to share. So here it is! ❤

LOW CARB CHICKEN ENCHILADA BAKE
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Ingredients:

  • 2 bell peppers (any color, or a variety), chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 oz chicken breast, cooked and shredded
  • 1 Cup pasta/tomato sauce of choice
  • Low fat ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 Cup shredded mexican cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Begin by sautéing the onion with seasonings of choice on medium heat. Once sautéed add the pasta sauce and let simmer on low while preparing the rest.

Chop the peppers and tomatoes, making sure you have enough to line the bottom of the pan (I used an 8×8 pan). Mix the ricotta cheese in with the peppers to make the base layer.

Add the shredded chicken on top of the veggies/ricotta cheese layer.

Pour the sauce/onion mix on top of the chicken.

Bake for 11 minutes, remove and add the shredded cheese, bake for 11 more minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

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oh and did I mention, it is boyfriend approved 😉

Serves 2// 360 calories per serving// 13.2 g fat// 18g carb//41.5g protein

To reduce calorie and/or fat, reduce the amount of shredded cheese to top with

 

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8 Things I Have Learned From Owning a Dog

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Get a dog they said, it will be fun they said.

But Otto, getting you 8 months ago has been more than fun, it has been life-changing ❤

Growing up I had always been an animal lover, we always had at least one dog in the house and 2-4 cats at any given time. Animals have been and always will be my sweet spot. I can remember multiple times where people would look at me and go “Oh my gosh you are just like your mom, you are both animal lovers”, or “You are going to be my crazy cat lady friend who has 27 cats in the future.”
So yeah, animals are my life. Which is why when my boyfriend pitched the idea of getting a dog to me, my heart melting. So in November of 2014 we began the process of researching breeders (well he did), picking the litter, getting all the nitty-gritty figured out. In May of 2015 we made the 6 hour trip from Northern Iowa to Hayward Wisconsin to pick out our little fella, Otto. He was the first pup I held and the one that won our hearts. 2 weeks later in early June, he was home to Iowa, and life was changed for good.

You see having a dog is more than warm cuddles and unconditional love, it comes with trial and error, stress followed by happiness, followed by frustration, followed by laughs. It is an endless cycle of emotions at times. But having a dog also comes with lessons, realizations, and blessings. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Otto, and it is because he has taught me so much in these first 8 months with him, has brought me tears of joy and tears of sadness, has weakened my soft spot for animals, and has been the greatest joy. Since day one, Otto, here are the things that I have learned from you.

How to care for another being There are some things that you just can’t do for yourself, and it is humbling and rewarding to know that we are the people that you have to rely on in your life. I am proud to be a parent, but even more proud to be your parent.

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 To stop and smell the roses or whatever is right in front of you on the ground, or whatever life throws at you. Smell it, grab it, go with it, don’t pass it up, and don’t miss any opportunity.

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 When in doubt, laugh it out Sometimes there is nothing else to do but to just laugh. When you do something you’re not supposed to do, but you do it in the cutest way ever, it’s hard to be mad, so instead we just laugh.

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like that one time we recorded you while we were gone to see what you really do while we are gone- like get on the forbidden couch, or when you got into one of your favorite toys- the toilet paper

How to be happy and sad at the same time On my weakest days when I feel sad and down, the ability of you to come up with that toy hanging from your mouth asking for some love and play can put a smile on my face. It is weird to feel so many emotions at once in one point of time: sadness, happiness, thankfulness, playfulness. It is weird but it is great.

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A little curiosity never hurt any one I love the natural curiosity that comes out of puppies, and I hope it never leaves you. You are so curious about the world, like you are experience something new every time you experience it, even if you have done it a million times. If everyone were as curious as a puppy I believe there would be a lot more smiles in this world, a lot less judgement, and a lot more free spirits.

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To appreciate the sun and the stars Waking up to your bathroom call at 5AM on a warm August morning, day after day, or bundling up to take you out at 9PM on a cold winter night has allowed me to appreciate the beauty of this earth. Sure I’d rather stay inside sometimes, especially in the dead of winter, but I have to thank you for dragging me out. Because when we go outside I get to be reminded of the beauty of this earth, and from where we are, we can see the greatest sunrise, or all of the stars. And as you do your thing, I’ll do mine and look up, appreciate the stars, and everything below them, including you.

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The ability to be patient and still oh boy before I got you, I was one of the most impatient people on the planet. My life was fast paced, I had a million things running through my head, I just didn’t slow down and I didn’t understand how other people could. But when having a puppy you learn the art of patience. Patience in training you, in taking you out to go to the bathroom, while going on walks, while greeting new people, while trying to snuggle when you just want to play. Puppies are like babies, except we never get to snow what you are thinking, or what you want to say, so we have to learn to be patient and read you body language and your facial expressions, and through that we connect, and through that I became: patient.

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To love unconditionally They say that dogs are a humans best friend, and the animal with the most loving nature. And I can honestly say that you will never know this to be true until you have a dog of your own. The ability to keep loving even after you have been scolded for eating a coaster is admirable. Just think if everyone in the world could love like dogs do, how much better a place it would be to live.

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Much love to you Otto boy ❤

 

The Importance of Endurance Training

Endurance training: What is it, and why do we do it?

Currently, the gym that I manage: Kosama in Cedar Falls, Iowa (if you haven’t heard of it and live in Northern Iowa, check it out here: http://www.kosama.com/cedarfalls, it’s basically the bomb 😉 ) is doing an Endurance focused 8 week challenge, and sometimes the question is why are we focusing so much on our endurance right now?

 

Well here’s why: 

There are different types of endurance training: muscular strength endurance, local muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, or a combination:

  • Local muscle endurance is the ability of a single muscle to perform sustained work
  • Cardiovascular endurance is the heart’s ability to deliver blood to working muscles and their ability to use it over a prolonged period of time
  • Muscular strength endurance is the muscles ability to perform a maximum contraction time after time

Most of the time when people think of endurance training they think of running for miles on end and calling that a workout. This does not have to be true. Sure, you can train endurance with a focus on cardiovascular benefits only, but your muscles can, and should be trained with an endurance focus too.

Why Muscular Endurance is Important
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, increasing muscular endurance will limit injuries and lower the risk of overuse of active muscles.

Livestrong.com also notes that improving your muscular endurance can help you in sustaining longer and better through daily activities and also helps improve bone and joint function

how to train muscular endurance: while lifting, perform sets with reps of 12 or more

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Maybe you’re someone who just likes to sweat during your workouts and therefore don’t like the idea of lifting at all! Well let me tell you, cardiovascular or muscular endurance training, you can still work up a hell of a sweat! (See exhibit A above)

Muscular or cardiovascular endurance, it doesn’t matter, what does matter is that you make sure to incorporate one, or both of these forms into your regular training regimen. If you still have questions as to why, take a look below:

10 Reasons for Overall Endurance Training

  1. Healthier body
  2. Clearer thinking
  3. Better self-image
  4. Increased confidence
  5. Better peace of mind
  6. Better sleep
  7. More energy
  8. “Fountain of Youth”
  9. Amazing friendships
  10. Better quality of life

Sources: 

Bradley, Daniel. “Why Is Muscle Endurance Important?”LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 10 Sept. 2015. Web. 08 Feb. 2016.

Hansen, Sarah. “Top 10 Benefits of Endurance Training.” Lifehack RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Feb. 2016.

Snow Day at Home Workout

Living up here in Northern Iowa, we sometimes get the wrath of all of the major blizzards. And sometimes, we are told we are going to get 8+ inches of snow in Blizzard-like conditions, only to cancel school, work, the gym, and look outside and see a mere 2 inches on the ground.

hmmmph :/

Snowed in, rained in, home with a sick child, whatever your reason is for being home and let’s face it, lazy for a day, here is a great at home workout that you can make as long or as hard as you wish!

Perform the exercises with the prescribed reps as many times as you can in a 10, 20, 30, or even 45 minute sequence.

Push ups X 20

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Keep those eyes slightly ahead of you, not down at your feet, squeeze those abs, inhale on the way down, exhale on the way up, pushing with your chest

Squats X 40

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Keep that chest tall as you sit, keep the weight in the heels of your feet, sit your butt back, and lift pushing through the heels

Jumping Jacks X 60

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Remember: bigger ranges of motion=higher heart rate- get it pumping!!

Tricep Dips X 20

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Use any elevated surface, make sure to keep your back and butt close the surface as seen here to prevent shoulder strain

Split Squats X 40 total 

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Use any elevated surface, put the back foot on and hop the front foot forward so you are at regular “lunge” stance. Drop the back knee down to the ground, not the front knee over the toe

High Knees X 60 Total

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You have ABS, use them! Get those knees up using those lower abs, don’t cheat yourself!

Birddogs X 20 each

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Opposite hand, opposite leg reach out in opposite directions while squeezing the core to hold your balance. Hold each rep at “extended” for 3 seconds before retracting. Expert level: try it off your knees in a plank position

Power lunge X 40 total

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A strength/cardio move in one. Begin by lunging back, then “power” the back knee up to the ceiling while jumping at the top

Tuck Jumps X as many as you can get in a row without pause

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Use your leg power! Hop off the ground by springing off both feet and landing with soft knees!

Ab finisher: Try to complete 4-6 rounds without pause 

Sit ups X 30 seconds

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Plank hold X 30 seconds

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Ab move of choice X 30 seconds

And don’t forget to have fun with it! If you have a favorite move, add it on! Tie on those shoes, throw your hair up, crank up some music, and GET TO WORK!! Success comes to those who work when others aren’t!

OH and when in doubt if you’re working hard enough, grab a household “item” for extra weight 😉

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Sincerely,

Carly

Why You Should Invest in Your Health

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When you think about your daily routines and activities, have you ever thought about how much of them positively affect your life and how many negatively affect your life? Do you sit in the car or in a chair for hours, compromising your spine, your low back health? Are you sedentary in general? Do you spend hours in front of a computer, on your phone, watching TV? Do you exercise and meet recommended guidelines? Do you cook your own food or go out to eat?

What is worth your money and what is not?

What is worth spending money on: Health and Fitness

We hear it, read it, see it all the time: “Your health is the single most important thing you could invest in”, yet we also hear, read, and see “health food is so expensive”, “gym memberships are so expensive”, “I want to get healthy but I can’t afford it”, and it goes on and on.

What is not worth spending money on: Excess cable and internet packages, cell phone plans, leisurely, sedentary habits, etc.

What I think is funny is that we don’t hear, or say “cable is so expensive”, “I want to watch TV, but I can’t afford it”

Better yet: most people don’t bother to add up how much they might spend a month on eating out, watching TV, getting their nails done, getting their hair done, etc.

Did you know:

Percentage of Americans with Cable TV:

83%

Percentage of Americans with gym memberships: 15%
Price of Cable/Internet per month:

$40-$150

 

Price of Gym Memberships per month:

$10-$150

Percentage of unused Cable packages/channels:

90%

Percentage of unused Gym Memberships:

67%

How cable/internet use affects life expectancy:

-4.8 years of life

How exercise affects lift expectancy:

+4.5-7 years of life

83% of American households pay for cable TV! That is approximately the population of the top 26 highest populated states COMBINED! But yet only 15% of the population belong to a gym, that is fewer than the population of California and Texas combined.

Living a sedentary lifestyle that consists of hours of sitting, in chairs, in front of the TV, in bed, combined with little to no exercise can do more than take 4.8 years off of your life.

Risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle Benefits of Regular Physical Activity
Increased risk of cardiovascular health

 

Lowers risk of health conditions and diseases
Accelerated rate of bone loss, leading to osteoporosis Helps control your weight
Increased risk of cognitive and mental decline Improves sleep and boosts energy
Increased risk of high blood pressure and risk of stroke Improves your mood
  • And if that hasn’t convinced you enough that exercise > sedentary habits and hobbies, take a look at this:
    The total direct and indirect costs of sedentary lifestyles to chronic health conditions exceed $150 billion per year and combined health care cost for all causes exceeds $1.3 trillion per year
  • Cardiovascular disease costs reach $298.2 billion dollars per year
  • Type 2 Diabetes costs reach $98 billion per year
  • Sedentary lifestyles and physical inactivty account for approximately 15% of U.S. health care cost per year
  • If both cardiovascular disease and Type 2 Diabetes (both have been studied to be linked to sedentary behavior) saw a reduction of 30% across the U.S. population, it would save annual health care costs of up to $119 billion per year

source: Reader’s Digest: President’s Challenge

So lets do some simple math, have you ever calculated how much you spend a month on leisurely items?

  • Cable & Internet package: $90 (that is what I currently pay so lets go with it)
    One monthly trip to the movies: $10 (per person)
  • Food & Drink at the movies: $10 (per person)
    Netflix subscription: $10
  • Misc movie rentals: $5-$10
  • Plus additional expenses such as cell phone data plans, getting your nails done, etc.
  • Total: $140+ (and this is a modest number)

if you had to start visiting the doctor routinely because you are not feeling well, discover you have a chronic condition such as diabetes, and have to start treating it, your expenses would look like this:

  • Doctor’s visit (1 time): $130 (on average, before coverage)
  • Diabetes screening (A1C test, Metabolic & Lipid panels, & venipuncture charge): $320 (on average, before coverage)
  • Prescription drugs: $80 on average (source: http://journal.diabetes.org)
  • Total: $530 average
    Add that to the discomfort in daily living= just not worth it

Now combine what you could be paying for your sedentary lifestyle plus your doctor’s bills due to chronic diseases caused by a sedentary lifestyle: $670+ 

However, to reduce your risks of chronic diseases, and sedentary behavior, let’s consider this:

  • A standard gym membership: $50-$150 on average
  • Total: $50-$150 

And don’t even get me started on the costs of eating out vs. cooking at home.

Health and Fitness might seem like an expensive business, but when 10 years from now when you are looking back on your past 10 sedentary years, the medical costs associated with it, your discomfort in your clothes and daily routine, and how you feel within your own body, you are going to wish you took the plunge and cut back on some technological, electronic, and leisurely items, and spent a few extra dollars a month making your health better. Worth it.

 

 

Sources:

“Deus Caritas Est.” Distanzierte Nähe (n.d.): 145-47. Reader’s Digest. President’s Challenge. Web. 1 Feb. 2016.

Leichter, Steven B., Sarah Faulkner, and Joan Camp. “On the Cost of Being a Diabetic Patient: Variables for Physician Prescribing Behavior.” On the Cost of Being a Diabetic Patient: Variables for Physician Prescribing Behavior. N.p., n.d. Web. 2000.