My quest to find a good tasting protein powder

One of my top health and fitness tips is to fill up with protein after exercising. The calories your body burns during exercise need to be replenished. If you fill up with unhealthy food, your body will hold onto those calories. This is why it’s important to be careful what you put into your body. The less processed food is the best (hence the popularity of ‘whole foods’). Protein is essential to building muscle tissue and is essential for your body to function. You don’t have to be perfect with your diet, but doing small, important things like getting enough protein will definitely benefit your body and overall fitness. I have a few favorite post work out food items like protein bites, eggs, bananas, etc and also like protein powder drinks- but not all powders!

Protein Powder Basics

If you’ve ever walked into a supplement shop, you might be overwhelmed by all the choices, brands, types, etc. The protein powder I use is basic whey protein. I like that a protein powder drink has overall less calories and fat that a protein filled food meal. However, you cannot use protein powder or supplements as your sole method of caloric intake. For a large container, the price varies but is approximately $40-$50 dollars. This initially seems like a lot but I only use 2 scoops a day.

How Much Protein Should One Consume

You should aim for .36 grams per pound (of body weight). If you’re trying to bulk up, have an intense training/workout schedule, have a special diet, medical conditions, etc. this may be different for you. The amount of protein in 1 scoop of protein powder varies. Of the brands I’ve tried, they have 20-22 grams of protein.

How to Use It

You can add protein powder to things such as water, milk, oatmeal, juice, smoothies, etc. The only way I use it is with water to make a protein drink. I don’t drink milk because I don’t like the taste or smell. Many common protein powder flavors are sweet or dessert flavors such as vanilla, chocolate, peanut butter, etc. Unfortunately for me, all the dessert flavors taste gross! I’ve been on the search for flavors that have a decent taste and a powder that is easy to use in a BlenderBottle (ie it dissolves well and doesn’t clump).

So far, I’ve found 2 flavors that (to me) don’t resemble milk – strawberry and orange. I found the strawberry at GNC which has locations nationwide (or online) and the orange from BodyBuilding.com.

I add 2 scoops of protein powder to approximately 12-16 ounces of water. I add the metal whisk ball that comes with the blender bottle, close the top, shake the bottle about 30 seconds, let the foam settle, then drink. I actually really like the combination of both strawberry and orange so I’ll use one scoop of each. Lots of people like all flavors of protein powders and protein bars but it was important for me to find ones that don’t taste gross! These fruity flavors mixed with water taste like watered down juice or flavored water. There are tons of recipes for protein shake smoothies, I just always use water because it’s the fastest and easiest to make.

strawberry protein powder gnc

tire flips nike protein drink

Stop now and do this stretch!

One of the most use body parts that we often forgot to stretch is our hands and forearms! Most everyone uses their hands all day whether it’s kids playing, writing at school, typing on a computer or phone, working, cooking, cleaning, driving, etc.

This stretch below is one of my most favorite stretches that instantly relieves any tension in the wrist and forearm. It only takes a few seconds but is crucial for good wrist health and flexibility. This stretch and other simple stretches such as wrist rotations can help prevent wrist fatigue, pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome or overuse.

Extend arm with fingers towards the ground. Use the opposite hand to gently pull fingers back towards your body. (Stop if you feel any pain!)wrist forearm stretchwrist forearm stretch

Extend arm with fingers pointed towards the sky. Use opposite hand to gently pull fingers back towards your body.

wrist forearm stretch

These stretches are so great for any repetitious action especially working on a computer or phone. Even after playing the piano, cleaning, washing dishes, knitting, or driving for a long time my hands, wrists and forearms can be tight or exhausted and I find it so beneficial to stretch them.

Other awesome stretches for the hands, wrists and forearm include wrist rolls, squeezing a tennis ball or stress ball and the prayer pose stretch.

6 ways to get more from your workout

I’m excited to share some tips that can help all of us achieve our fitness and wellness goals. They are all great reminders of how to get the most out of a workout. My favorite part and something I always can improve on is making sure to fully stretch after exercising. We are members at 24 Hour Fitness and use their Kids Club as childcare while we’re there. I sometimes find myself rushed after a workout or fitness class to get back to the kids, other commitments, errands, etc. Thanks, Maurine Anderson for guest posting!

Want to get more out of your daily workout? Finding the motivation to get that daily workout in is hard enough as it is, so it’s good to know that there are a variety of techniques out there that you can use to make the most of your workouts. Here are 6 simple ways to get more out of every workout.

Eat a pre-workout snack.

Even if you like to work out first thing in the morning, your body is going to need some fuel first before hitting it hard. Enter: the pre-workout snack. The ideal pre-workout snack contains simple carbohydrates, which are absorbed quickly and offer quick energy, along with complex carbohydrates, which will sustain you throughout the duration of your workout. (Many say that a good pre-workout snack also includes protein, and while some protein helps, protein is ultimately much more important as part of your post-workout meal.) You should plan on eating your pre-workout snack 30 minutes to an hour before working out, as this article states. Some ideas for pre-workout snacks:

  • Whole wheat toast topped with fruit
  • Oatmeal topped with dried fruit
  • Greek yogurt topped with fruit
  • Fruit smoothie that includes oats
  • Cold brown rice topped with fruit
  • Banana slices and peanut butter

Warm up first.

Many people confuse warming up with stretching. Warming up involves doing a lighter version of the exercise you are about to engage in, at the beginning of your workout. If you’re about to go on a run, for example, warming up should involve fast walking or slow jogging to get your heart rate up. If you’re about to engage in a synergistic workout, jumping jacks make for a great warm up. You should warm up for about 5 to 10 minutes at the beginning of your workout, gradually increasing intensity throughout the course of the warm up. Doing so will increase blood flow, loosen the joints, and prepare the muscles for high intensity work.

Cool down and stretch afterward.

Cooling down and stretching are essential for preventing injury and aiding in muscle recovery. They can also help improve flexibility and range of motion. A good cool down is a lot like a warm up, only it involves gradually decreasing intensity and incorporating some stretching. Start your cool down by gradually decreasing the intensity of the exercise you are engaging in, and finish by stretching the muscles you worked. A cool down should be about 5 to 10 minutes long.

Don’t forget your recovery meal.

If you work out regularly, your post-workout recovery meal is perhaps the most important meal of the day. Your recovery meal should be rich in both protein and carbohydrates, and you should plan to eat it within two hours after a workout. (It’s also best to consume some carbs within 15 minutes after your workout to replenish your muscle glycogen supply.) Your recovery meal may also include some fat and fiber as well, as you’ll have more time after you work out to digest those things. Aim for a recovery meal that’s between 200 and 400 calories. Here are some examples:

  • Grilled chicken and mixed vegetables
  • Whole wheat toast and a vegetable omelette
  • Chocolate milk and some raw almonds
  • Whey or soy protein shake
  • Energy bar and fresh fruit

Get a massage.

Here’s a tip that you won’t need me to tell you twice. Getting a quick massage after a particularly strenuous workout can actually improve and speed up your post-workout recovery. Studies have shown that getting a post-workout massage reduces muscle inflammation and increases the number of mitochondria in muscle cells (which generate the energy your muscles need for recovery).

Go for a soak.

Here’s another tip you’ll like hearing—soaking in a warm bath or hot tub after your workout can also help you get the most out of your workout. The heat of the water helps increase your circulation and relax your muscles. The key with this, however, is to time it right. It’s best to wait for your heart rate to go back down before immersing yourself in hot water. You can read more tips on incorporating hydrotherapy into your workout regimen here.

Maurine Anderson originally hails from Washington, DC, but is now enjoying life out west in Salt Lake City. She is a professional writer and blogger who in her free time loves to create new cake recipes, travel, and practice her hand at photography. She tends to geek out over linguistics, cats, and all things Scandinavia. Check out more of her writing at MaurineDashney.com and find her on Instagram @maurinedashney.

More motivation and fitness tips from guest bloggers here

Favorite family activity: flashlight walks

One of our favorite things to do as a family is nightly walks. It’s great exercise and we’ve found a way that makes it enjoyable for the kids too.  When we first got married we would go on an evening walk usually on Sundays since it’s a more relaxing day and a nice way to start the week, talk and enjoy nature. When we lived in Virginia and I was pregnant with Brent we walked a ton since it was supposed to help induce healthy labor. Plus we also had Bruce and it was good exercise for him, and us. When Tessa was a newborn we continued to do our daily walks even though it was winter in Utah. It was fun to bundle up and get out of the house (we would push Tessa in her stroller that had a zipped winter cover).

When we lived in Texas, we still wanted to do our walk and since it was so hot, we usually wouldn’t go until the sun went down and we had the kids bring their mini flashlights which they absolutely love! It makes it fun for them especially if we’re going for a long walk and they’re in the stroller. We’ve still been doing our favorite family activity with the flashlights and it’s still great to stretch your legs at the end of the day, relax, breathe fresh air and talk together. If you’re looking for a way to walk more, get more exercise and feel refreshed, adopt our evening walk tradition! 🙂

favorite family activity evening flashlight walks

favorite family activity evening flashlight walks

[mini flashlights from the dollar store, we love our BOB Sport Utility Duallie double jogging Stroller from my parents and I always wear my nerdy runner’s vest similar to this one with a blinking bike light in the safety vest pocket]

Health tip (2)

This next installment of monthly health tips seems small and simple but can have great benefits: go to bed 10-15 minutes earlier. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get between 7-9 hours of sleep and a few polls have shown that about 1/3 of American adults sleep less than the recommended amount. A good way to start getting more sleep is to start with an increment of 10-15 minutes of additional sleep. If you try and go to bed 2 hours earlier than you’re accustomed to, your body will probably not be tired enough to fall (and stay) asleep. gradually you can increase the number of hours you sleep every night.

health tip sleep more

A lack of sleep can have many negative effects for example, fatigue, lack of concentration, lack of motivation, decreased immunity, irritability and premature aging.

My Fitbit (Alta) has a sleep tracking system and I’ve found it really interesting to see my sleep patterns. Since having kids, I really enjoy routine for myself and the kids. I probably sleep more than the average adult as I (obviously!) enjoy sleeping ha, ha! One thing I’ve found is that it’s hard to ‘make up’ sleep. For example, if you are sleep deprived during the week, sleeping in extra on the weekend doesn’t necessarily have the same benefits as regular, consistent sleep. I’ve heard there are lots of good phone apps (like Sleep Cycle) that track sleep and help you find the best time for you to fall asleep and when your best wake up time is.

Here’s to feel more well rested and energized every morning!

Foam Roller: A free massage and my favorite way to relieve sore muscles

One of the most effective ways I love to relieve sore muscles is foam rolling! If I’m super sore I’ll apply peppermint oil and use a foam roller before I go to bed. The pressure from the roller relaxes the muscle fibers and muscle tightness. I love to use mine primarily on my hamstrings but also quadriceps, glutes, back, IT band and calves.  You gently roll the part of your body on the roller (slowly and not staying in one spot for more than 20 seconds). It’s basically a free massage for your muscles that you can do anytime!

I got mine years ago from Amazon and they also sell longer ones. Most gyms and studios will have foam rollers and they are so effective for sore, tired muscles and for warming up and cooling down. I use mine basically every week and especially during periods when I’m running, cycling and playing soccer.

foam rolling sore muscle relief

calf ^

foam rolling sore muscle relief

hamstring ^

foam rolling sore muscle relief

glutes/lower back

5 Favorite Winter Essentials for Dry Skin

Even though Southern California isn’t the driest of winter airs, we’ve lived in some low humidity cities where winter is really harsh on your skin (especially when we lived in Utah!) I feel like my skin is naturally dry but I’ve found a few things that definitely help my skin and overall health in dry weather. Here are my top 5 winter essentials:

winter essentials for dry skin

  1.  Humidifier– We actually have 2 of this same humidifier! I use one in my room in the winter (or if I’m sick) and we’ll use the second one in the kids’ bedrooms if they get sick. I feel like I can breathe better at night and feel more rested in the morning. I like this one because it’s small, the cord is a good length (it’s about 5 feet long), it’s easy to fill and clean and you can adjust the level of humidity.
  2. Gold Bond Rough & Bumpy lotion – this lotion is awesome. It’s made for skin that is extra dry and I use it daily on my upper arms which for some reason are more dry than the rest of my skin. I saw good results in the first week of using it! My skin is much less bumpy and dry.
  3.  Saline salt nasal spray – this helps with dry nasal membranes. It’s not by prescription, non habit-forming and great to use for nasal congestion. It’s not medicated and easy to spray in your nose. It also doesn’t taste weird like how some medicated nasal sprays can drip into your throat. I buy this at any grocery or drug store and it’s only a few dollars.
  4.  Vicks Vaporub –  I’ve written about this product before and how great it is for a sore throat! There are actually lots of uses for Vicks Rub but my primary use is if I feel a sore throat coming, I’ll rub it on (the outside) of my throat before going to bed. It doesn’t cure an illness but alleviates the symptoms.
  5.  Hydro Flask– I’ve also talked a lot about this bottle because it’s honestly one of my favorite things to have cold water all day! I especially love this bottle because it doesn’t collect condensation so I can bring it in a bag and not worry about other items getting wet. I have the wide mouth spout version which I prefer, they make a variety of sizes and mouth openings. Hydration is super important all the time but especially in the winter and can help with dry skin, illness, etc.

*related: 7 Ways to Fight a Cold , more on my Hydro Flask love

*semi related: follow along via Bloglovin’

Fitbit Review

Around Black Friday last fall, Dave and I both got the Fitbit Alta. There’s tons of fitness trackers out there today and we got them I guess mainly because of their popularity and they seem to function well. I love that it’s lightweight. I wasn’t sure how well I would like wearing it all the time but I wear it basically all the time except in the shower or doing dishes. It has a sleep tracker that shows you how well you slept, how many times you woke during the night, periods of restlessness, etc. We also like this model because it sends texts alerts.

I feel like overall it does help you to move and walk more. I haven’t been running much since my achilles injury last summer but I’ll usually hit my step goal during our nightly walk.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Long lasting battery – the battery lasts 3-4 days before it needs to be charged
  • Alerts – text alerts and it can be programmed to send hourly alerts to remind you to get up and walk.
  • Easy to use – with the smartphone app, it’s very easy to set up, check your progress, and sync your Fitbit to your device.
  • Fair price
  • Durable – it’s only been a few months but we haven’t had any technically issues with our Fitbits. Their website says you can actually wear it in the shower and when it’s raining.
  • Interchangeable bands – you can buy other color bands or if yours gets gross from sweat, etc

Cons:

  • The Alta model doesn’t rack heart rate. They have a model that does and if I were to do it again I would get the Fitbit Charge which does track heart rate. It’s more expensive than the Alta which is originally why we didn’t get it.
  • Doesn’t track activity like cycling. I do a spin class twice a week and it’s technically logged and 0 steps and 0 ‘active minutes’. You can go in on the app and manually log in active minutes (ie. exercises like cycling, yoga, etc).

Bottom Line:

I would recommend the Fitbit! Even though I exercise 6 days a week it’s always nice to move around more and have goals. Like I said, they do have like 5 different types from the most basic step counter to a fully functional heart rate monitor. I would suggest finding the model that fits your needs and then looking for a good price. We got ours at a Black Friday price but I know they periodically have sales on Amazon. We’ve used Camel Camel Camel in the past which is an Amazon price tracker for whatever product you’re looking for and it’ll send you emails when a low price hits.

fitbit alta

fitbit alta

fitbit alta