Sunday, March 29, 2015

Blackened Tilapia with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Marinated Tomatoes

This collection of recipes goes way back for our family but they have weaved their way in and upgraded over the years. Back in the day, when I was struggling with my weight, I did a round of HCG. The diet portion of that protocol (which is the reason people get results by the way, 500 cals a day will drop fat like crazy but it does not teach you how to maintain it) calls for a very strict regiment of certain foods and certain vegetables. I really came to love brussels sprouts at that time and these marinated tomatoes and blackened tilapia popped up then too. My kids even love these recipes. But I have changed them over time into something a little more tasty and less "diet-ish" and now they are just good eats!

So it cracked me up the other day when I had left a note for the husband with fish defrosting in water in the sink that I was making tilapia and brussels sprouts for dinner, the kids were SO excited. I mean, excited and exclaimed "YES! Tilapia and brussels sprouts!" Made my heart sing! Haha!

Blackened Tilapia

Serves 4

The stuff:
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp coconut sugar (you can sub brown sugar)
1 tsp oregano, dried
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder (or cayenne or red pepper flake)
4 tilapia fillets (approx 6 oz per fillet)
1 lime, quartered
Olive oil

What you do:
Combine all the spices and rub on each side of the tilapia fillets. Preheat a large non-stick pan over med-high heat with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Cook tilapia 3 minutes on each side until it flakes. Squeeze lime over fish and serve.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Serves 4

The stuff:
18 oz baby brussels spouts (I like the frozen packages over fresh)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

What you do:
Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a large cookie sheet with nonstick spray. Toss brussels sprouts in a large bowl (or plastic bag) with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread out in the pan and roast for 20-30 minutes, tossing once halfway through.

Marinated Tomatoes

Serves 2

The stuff:
1 container grape tomatoes
1 tbsp yellow mustard (I use French's)
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp stevia (or other sweetener)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

What you do:
Mix everything but the tomatoes in a medium bowl. Add in tomatoes. Even better the next day! (These remind me of eating the tomatoes off your hamburger for some reason!)

Nutritional Stats per Serving

Blackened Tilapia

calories 180
Total Fat 3 g
Total Carbohydrate 4 g
Protein 32 g

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

116 cals
7 g fat
12 g carbs
4 g protein

Marinated Tomatoes

17 calories
0 g fat
4 g carbs
1 g protein

X- Liss

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Mindset Hacks for Better Nutrition and Building a Workout Habit

I have been listening to a lot of mindset podcasts lately from the likes of James Clear to Chalene Johnson to Jill Coleman. I love to learn while I lift, why not grow mentally AND physically at the same time, right?

These are just some mindset hacks that I thought were brilliant, have used personally, or have coached clients to use:

1) Embrace the persona of who you strive to be

If you are trying to get into the habit of eating healthier, it serves you to say "I do not eat ice cream" instead of "I can't eat ice cream." By saying, "I do not eat X", you are owning that decision and at the same time reminding yourself of who you are becoming.

By saying I cannot eat X, you are playing the victim card. You are also removing your power. The funny thing is that by saying "I cannot", you are more likely to eat X! Crazy, huh?!

This same process of "do not" vs. "cannot" is key if you are trying to avoid eating out so often.

By the same token, fit people do not skip workouts. They prioritize them and do not do things that would interfere, for example,  they do not stay out too late so they will get up ready to go!

2) Build an environment conducive to your goals

If you are building a goal of early morning lifting, then it would be conducive to your goal to have your gym bag packed the night before so you can get up to head right to the gym. Heck, you might even sleep in your gym clothes. And then place your alarm somewhere that you have to physically get out of bed to shut it off.

If you are building a habit of better nutrition, then you would leave the kitchen scale out on the counter. It would create a better environment to take all your trigger foods to the office or the trash to be rid of them. Put fruits and veggies out on the counter to snack on. The path of least resistance is key. Things that are in eye sight are much more likely to be the choice in a moment of weak ego.

3) Plan for challenges

Your willpower is finite. You have the most in the morning and throughout the day, it depletes. Every single choice you make depletes your ego tank. You can use this to your advantage by removing choices that are optional. For example, Steve Jobs wore the same black turtleneck, jeans, and sneakers every single day to not waste his ego. As a female, I find wearing the same clothes a hard pill to swallow. I tend to pick out my clothing the night before at bedtime which just rearranges the ego drain to a more convenient time for me.

It helps to make a plan for challenges or situations that come up. This allows you to problem solve how best to handle them before they ever pop up. I like to plan out my eating in two stages. First, I plan a monthly overarching idea of meals and shop for them. secondly, the night before, I like to plug and play meals to meet my calorie and protein goal. This allows me to stick to my nutritional plan before things get busy or stressful.

So what if I get hungry for something not on my plan? Or what if I get hungry for a snack and do not have one planned in? Well since I have planned ahead, I have a few choices. I can rearrange for that item. I can find something else to do instead of eat- I like to do my nails instead or go shopping for gym wear. I can drink hot tea. All of these things are plans I have made in advance of the challenge that work for me.

I like to plan my workouts on a 12 week scale. I choose the Venus program I want to do next, how many days per week I will lift, and if I have any other fitness goals I need to plug in. Then I block out what my next 12 weeks will look like.

If a trip comes up, I can plan a workout with body weight only, find a gym, or do whatever cardio on the road. All this is possible because I have a plan to fall back on!

4) Surround yourself with like minded people

People in your life are not always going to get or even support your goals. Expect it. But there are plenty of others out there who do.

Connect with others who have similar interests at work or the gym. Venus ladies have the support of a huge online forum, often resulting in text and email buddies. Real life friendships are kindled further when we have meet ups like our upcoming April meet up in Miami.

There are also tons of blogs, Instagrammers, FB pages, podcasts, and other online forums to keep you submersed with like minded people. You can learn and troubleshoot your own issues from the experiences of others.

5) Set a maximum that is achievable and build on it

When you are building a new habit, it is easier to set a maximum than a minimum. For example, if you have a problem getting to the gym, allow yourself two weeks of 10 minutes working out for 3 days a week, max. After a couple of weeks, add an additional 10 minutes. Work your way up to the full routine.

The same thing goes for a calorie goal. Too often, people will cut the calories cold turkey when you would be better off tapering down 100 calories every few days until you get to your goal.

6) Track your streaks

There is a saying, "What gets measured gets done." I am a full believer in that.

Some like to track their streaks with stickers on a calendar- maybe one for nutrition and one for a workout. Some prefer tracking on a tracker like My Fitness Pal. Others like to use a spreadsheet. It is really whatever you will do consistently.

Once you get a streak going, it really creates a forward momentum that helps you ride your positive wave to the next!

What are your favorite hacks?

X- Liss

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Low Calorie Simple Shrimp Scampi

This recipe is one of those wonder recipes where you are just scratching your head? I mean it tastes SINFUL. But it is not. Comparable to the calories and protein in a 6 oz portion of chicken breast. Yep. My husband loves the shrimp scampi at Red Lobster and he is a BIG fan. So are the kidlets!

Read on.

Low Calorie Simple Shrimp Scampi

Serves 6

  • 2.00 lbs, Shrimp (I buy raw, frozen shrimp, but you can use fresh)
  • 4.00 tbsp margarine or butter (I used Blue Bonnet Margarine sticks, half a stick)
  • 1.00 tbsp, Lemon Pepper seasoning
  • 1.00 lemon yields, Lemon juice - Raw
  • 0.50 tsp, Red Pepper Flake (cut amount in half if you do not like a touch of spice)
  • 4.00 tbsp, Cheese - Parmesan, grated
In a large sautee pan or wok, preheat over medium heat. Add shrimp, butter, lemon pepper, lemon juice, and red pepper flake. I leave the lemon rind in the mixture too for flavor. Sautee until shrimp is pink and cooked through. Add the parmesan cheese and serve!

I like to serve mine alongside some stir fried vegetables (and some steamed brown rice for the hubby and kids!)

Nutritional Stats per serving

calories 157

Total Fat 6g

Total Carbohydrate 1g

Protein 24g

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Stability Ball Pikes and Band Assisted Pull-ups

Band Assisted Pull-ups

Pull-ups are one of those fitness goals that people just like to say they can do. So if you are struggling to get to where you can do several bodyweight pull-ups, band assisted pull-ups are a great start. 

My advice is to frequently (i.e. before each set off adding the bands) attempt body weight pull-ups. You will get stronger over time and before you know it, you will be able to bust out several sets!

Pull ups can be subbed for bent or one arm rows from time to time in the Venus Index workout, or added onto your normal workout day.

Tips for your best pull-up:
*They are mostly mental
*Practice frequently
*Hanging leg raises (ab work) will help your grip
*Activate your back (scapular raises are good practice)
*Hold for time at the top (5-10 seconds)
*Negatives are helpful (resist lowering without bands)
*Make sure you come all the way up and extend your arms at the bottom all the way
*No leg swinging

Stability Ball Pikes

I like to sub these in for stability ball roll ups and stability ball roll outs from time to time. I feel as though pikes engage my whole core a bit better.

You can level these up by moving the ball all the way to your tip toes!

Tips for your best pike:
*Keep your legs straight throughout the movement
*Recruit your abs to pull the ball toward your face
*Hands should be shoulder width apart
*Back stays straight, push your hips up to the ceiling

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Double Banded Hip Thrust and Microwave No Bake Oatmeal Protein Cookie

I have really been focusing on building my glutes these past 6 months. Focusing on specialization workouts 3 days a week, and have really seen results!

This variation of hip thrusts are my favorite for high reps (13-21 range and multiple sets instead of using DBs or a BB) and max glute pump!
Put a band around your knees and one around where your hip hinges.
Be sure to extend all the way at the top- I think I could have extended more here even (more of a posterior pelvic tilt). And keep your back straight throughout.

I like to do a pump at the top at the very end for max burn.

Here is the video:

My favorite set scheme for these are 4 sets of 21; so 21 reps with 21 pulses, rest for 60 seconds. Repeat 3 more times.

Since I am cutting right now for an upcoming shoot and now also a vacation to South Beach in Miami, I have been trying some new protein rich treats. This is one I tried recently.

Microwave No Bake Oatmeal Protein Cookie

serves 1

The Stuff:
1/4 cup oats (old fashioned or quick cooking)
1 scoop whey (I used Optimum Nutrition Extreme Milk Chocolate)
1 tsp peanut butter
1 tsp sugar free Jello pudding mix (I like cheesecake flavor)
Water (I used 2 tbsp)

What you do:
Mix everything in a bowl. 

If you want a doughy, cake like cookie- microwave for 60 seconds on high in a smaller bowl for a thicker cookie. 

If you want a crispy, thin cookie- microwave for 2 minutes on high in a thin layer on a plate. (This is my preference!)

Sometimes, I like to frost my cookie with a little PB or PB2/water/FF plain greek yogurt :) enjoy!

More doughy cookie, done in bowl

Crispier cookie, done on a plate

Nutrition Facts
Servings 1.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 196
                                                                                                                            % Daily Value *
Total Fat 5 g 8 %
Saturated Fat 3 g 15 %
Monounsaturated Fat 1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 10 mg 3 %
Sodium 213 mg 9 %
Potassium 34 mg 1 %
Total Carbohydrate 11 g 4 %
Dietary Fiber 2 g 6 %
Sugars 2 g
Protein 26 g 51 %
Vitamin A 2 %
Vitamin C 0 %
Calcium 1 %
Iron 4 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.