Sunday, February 22, 2015

My Workout Routine

Working out to me is just part of my daily routine. Wake up, lemon water, snack, then head down to my basement to workout. Keeping up with this routine daily helps me feel strong, energized, and toned. Skipping my workout leaves me feeling tense, sluggish, and cranky.

If you've read posts of mine before like "My Prenatal Workout Routine"

click here

 or "How I Got My Body Back After Baby"

click here
and even from Avery's pregnancy, "Body After Birth"...

click here
...then you know the basics of my workout routine and how I do a 3-day rotation, but since I'm not pregnant or recovering from having a baby, I thought you might like to know what type of workout routine I do on a day-to-day basis.

So here's the nuts and bolts of my workout routine:

Where do I workout out:
In my basement. Despite meeting my husband at the gym, I dropped my gym membership years ago and instead began doing all my workouts from home. My set up is pretty basic: I've got a a treadmill, a yoga mat, a DVD player, a TV, and lots and lots of workout DVDs.

Like that fan on the chair? That's a must-have for me, I know it looks
ghetto, but trust me it feels good. What can I say, I'm a pretty high-maitenence

Now this space used to be pretty minimalistic in it's decor and we even used to jokingly call it "my yoga studio." But since having kids, it's turned into our "playroom/yoga studio" but I don't mind. I'm glad to have a space to go where I can workout in the comfort of my own home and that can also entertain my kids.

When do I workout: 
As you saw from the beginning of this post, I workout in the morning before work and before my girls wake up. In order to do this I get up at 4:45. I then have my lemon water, a snack like gluten-free toast with peanut butter, then I pack up food for me and the girls for the day. Then by about 5:30 I head down to start my workout.

I've always been a morning workout kind of person. Something about getting my workout done first thing, leaves me no excuses not to do it. I can guarantee that if I had to wait until I got home from work to workout, my workouts would not happen. I would be too exhausted. But for some people maybe that's when you like to workout best.

Working out in the morning helps me clear my head, think through what I want to do during my day, and helps loosen tight muscles or tension that help me feel strong and relaxed as my day goes on. My favorite part of working out in the morning is that I can do it without my kids. I love them, but working out with a one and three year old is basically impossible. I've done it before, but only in emergency situations! Mila used to crash my workouts before as you saw in this post, but as she's gotten older she has been sleeping more consistently and longer in the morning (due to the fact that she only  takes one nap a day instead of two).

Like Mila's yoga post there? Oh and Avery is a surprise there!

I know something moms struggle with is the idea that we have to put everyone's needs above our own, but by getting my workout in before my girls wake up I feel like I am able to take care of myself first, so I can take care of them better.

How long do I workout for:
I workout for about 45 minutes to an hour each day. These times usually vary by the type of workout I'm doing, but I usually aim to have close to an hour in.

I read a cool quote one time I think by a gym or something that said, "The one hour you spend working out, powers the other 23." I couldn't agree more.

What kind of workouts do I do:
As I mentioned above, if you've read my workout posts before, this info is nothing new. But I'll share it again as a refresher.  I do 3 types of workouts in a rotation.

As you saw...
Day1. Pilates/BarreAmped DVD
Day 2. Cardio: Run/Walk
Day 3. Yoga DVD

I do these 3 workouts in order (not a strict order, I do switch it up depending on how I'm feeling) and then once I've done all three I go back to the start with Day 1 again.

Here's a breakdown of the 3 types of workouts and the workout DVDs I use on those days.

Day 1: Pilates/BarreAmped DVD

These workouts, specifically by Suzanne Bowen, have toned my body in ways I've never had before. A lot of the movements are small, repetitive, and so difficult in a good way that the muscle actually starts to "shake". When I first started these workouts I thought the shake was bad, that I wasn't strong enough, but it turns out the shake is good! As Suzanne says during the workout, "Shake to change!" (The shaking is what is changing the body, and oh it is so true.). These DVDs have brought tone and strength to my legs, upper body and abs that I didn't even have before I was pregnant with Mila.  As you can see from my picture, you'll need a chair for these workouts, which is what you will hold onto for balance.
Some of my other favorite BarreAmped DVDs are:

Here's a preview of the BarreAmped DVD:

Pilates DVD-
These are a little more low-key than BarreAmped, but still effective and great if you love pilates. I like this group of DVDs from 10 Minute Solutions. There are 5, 10-minute sections each targets a different area like abs, lower body, upper body, everything all together, and then some stretching. Some segments are on the ground (aka mat work...which I do love to do at 5 AM), other segments are standing and use light free weights). Here's some of my favorite pilates DVDs. 

Here's a preview of the Pilates DVD:

Cardio day:  For the cardio day I run/walk for 60 minutes. I like to run for 2-4 minutes, and then walk for 2-4 minutes and I repeat this for an hour. It keeps things interesting and keeps the calorie burn up. I wish I could just run 4-5 miles at a time without stopping, but for me, breaking it up with short walking breaks (at a fast pace), makes it more enjoyable, yet somewhat still effective.

While I run on the treadmill I usually get caught up on my favorite TV shows like (The Bachelor, Downton Abbey, and The Walking Dead) by either watching them from my TV that's across the room, or on the Amazon Prime Video App on my iPad.  Since I get up so early in the morning that means I usually go to bed around 9:00-9:30 PM and I don't often have time to watch TV at night (plus it seems to keep me awake right after I've watched an episode). So instead I use it as motivation for me to get my cardio workout in..."Want to watch last night's episode? Hop on the treadmill, then you can watch it." 

Sometimes I read books as well, either real books or with my Kindle. Other times I just set my planner/idea book up too and just think about ideas for future blog posts. Granted it's a little tricky to run and write, but I just love the time to clear my head and think. Sometimes I come up with the best ideas during this time.

I love to run in my Vibram FiveFinger shoes, these totally changed the way I run and minimized a lot of hip and knee pain I used to feel when running. Want to learn more about these crazy "toe shoes" as their sometimes called? Read more here, "How to Get Started in Five Finger Shoes."

Yoga Day: Now although my yoga DVDs can be pretty challenging at times, this is usually my "take it easy day." It allows my body a chance to get a good stretch and continue to tone up in a more low-key kind of way.  After I've had a hard BarreAmped workout, or a long cardio day, I find my yoga day helps me recover, repair, and stretch out all those muscles I just worked.

Some of my favorite yoga DVDs are:
These workout DVDs have really helped to tone and strengthen my arms and legs, not to mention increase my flexibility and improve my balance/focus.

Here's a preview:

  • Namaste Yoga DVD Series (I do 2-25 minute episodes for one workout) These are my favorite workout DVDs that really got me into doing yoga on a more frequent basis. The scenery is amazing, the instructor's voice is relaxing, and when I do these on a regular basis I don't get so tight and tense, which helps me go to the chiropractor less. You can read more about it here in one of my first posts, "Namaste Yoga."

Here's a preview (soak in the beautiful scenery):

So there you have it, that's my workout routine. It's taken me a couple of years and a couple of pregnancies to really figure out the type of workout that works best for my body and that feels the best to me and for me, this is it. Everyone's body is different though, so don't be discouraged if the workouts I do don't feel right to you.  Keep trying to find the ones that feel good to you and that you enjoy coming back to each day/week because that's the only way you'll see results is if you stick with it.

Share below, what's your workout routine? Is it structured and routine like mine? Or do you switch it up and vary it to how you feel that day? Share your favorite workout DVDs below too.
Happy exercising!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

My Family's Favorite Green Juice

With a blog title like "Ashley's Green Life", you can bet we drink some green juice from time to time. But I always wondered if I could get my girls to love it just as much as I do. Would they be squeamish of the green color? Pinch their nose just to get it down? Or spit it back out because it's not sweet like candy? The truth...they love it, possibly more than me! Granted, they're one and three years old, so some days they love it and other days they don't care much. But overall, they have joined me in being green juice fanatics and I couldn't be more proud. 

Why do we drink green juice? 
I see green juice as a part of my vitamin and supplement routine. It's my greens in the freshest, truest form you can find. Unlike smoothies that take some work on your body to breakdown and digest, nutrients from juices are quickly and easily absorbed into the body since the hard part of digesting has already been done by the juicer. 

The best visual I can think of is when I look at all the ingredients I'm preparing to juice (you can see this below) and I think how long it would take me to eat and digest all of them, then I compare it to how quickly I can juice them and instantly absorb them into my body and I'm convinced.

Now I've gotten a lot of slack on my previous green juice video on YouTube in how people think juicing is a waste because I'm throwing out all the fiber and it would be much better to have a smoothie instead. I get it, I can see the logic of that. But I have one smoothie a day in the morning for my breakfast where I get my fiber, and then later in the day I have my green juice. I think there can be  room for both in a healthy diet. Here's a great infographic from one of my health idols, Kris Carr: "Juicing Vs. Blending".  

Other motivating factors that keep me drinking my green juice and encouraging it to be a part of my girl's diets as well:
  • helps make our bodies more alkaline
  • increases hydration
  • clearer skin
  • increased immune support with the vitamins and nutrients absorbed
  • gives digestive system a break 
I'll post more about my juicing routine in the future, but for the time being, make sure to follow these great juicing tips from the another health idol of mine,Vani Hari aka Food Babe: "Are You Making These Common Juicing Mistakes?"

Onto the recipe....
It took some perfecting to find a recipe that was sweet enough to appeal to them, but not go crazy overboard with the fruit. Our go-to in the past was the recipe you can see in this post, "My Daily Green Juice" which used all the ingredients below, but I added in pineapple to sweeten it.

"My Daily Green Juice"
But since I'm trying to reduce sugar and even excessive fruit in my life, I've narrowed the ingredients down to the ones you'll see below and the result is a balanced green juice that pleases all the green juice drinkers in my house...without raising my blood sugar too much.

The ingredients needed.

Ashley's Green Life "Family Green Juice"

  • 1/2 large cucumber
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 1 apple
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 knob of ginger
  • 1-2 cups of kale or spinach

Watch as Avery, my juicing assistant, helps me make our green juice:

No time for the video? Check out the pictures below to see how we make it...

First we wash all the produce (I use a solution of 1/2 cup vinegar + 1/2 cup water) and you can see I use a strainer when cleaning my greens.  Then I chop them so they are ready to be juiced.

Then it's juicing time. Lately both girls have gotten involved in the juicing process. I usually hold Mila as we pick up produce to drop down the chute...with some assistance from Avery of course. 

Here's my true green juice assistant, Avery. This girl would do all the juicing for me if I let her. One perk about slow/masticating juicers is that I feel much more comfortable having my kids around them, than I did the louder and faster centrifugal juicer I used to have.  I think that getting her involved with the cleaning and juicing process makes her more likely to drink the juice, as opposed to just handing it to her and expecting that she'll like it. As you can see in the video, she eats a bunch of my apples and celery while making the juice, so if anything it's a great way for her to have a healthy snack. 

Here comes the green goodness!

There's the finished green juice. I love to serve mine in this big glass
with a stainless steel straw.

Tips for getting kids to like the green juice:
  • Add another apple or a section of pineapple to sweeten this recipe
  • Take out the ginger, sometimes it's a bit spicy with this, so it can be left out to be more neutral in flavor
  • Add some ice cubes...for some reason my girls always drink more when I put ice cubes in it. Who knew, right?

As you can see it's a hit with Avery and she usually gets first dibs. 

*Then I finally get to drink some.*

Then Mila usually finishes it off.

By this point she's usually saying, "More, more"
or she's found the semi-melted ice cubes
at the bottom of the glass and wants me to
dig them out for her.
Now if only I could get teach them to clean the juicer for
me, then I'd really have it made!

So there you have it, my family's favorite green juice recipe. What's your family's favorite green juice? What tips have you tried to make juicing/green juice more appealing to kids? Share below!
Cheers to green juice and green kids!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

I Got a New (Masticating) Juicer!

Masticating versus centrifugal...what's the big deal right? They're both juicers, why should it matter? Well, today I'm here to tell you that the type of juicer you pick does matter and my new preference when it comes to choosing a juicer.

As you can see by the title of this post I recently got a new juicer. I had been putting off upgrading to a masticating juicer from my centrifugal juicer because I really didn't see how it could be that different and why it was worth spending $100-200 more.

But two weeks before my birthday, a accidentally dropped a part of my centrifugal juicer on the floor. it broke and as a result my juicer would not work anymore.  That was the sign I needed to finally splurge on a masticating juicer.

The broken piece of my old centrifugal juicer. 

Now before I tell you about the juicer I purchased let me explain what these two words I'm been saying mean (if you're new to juicing):

Centrifugal Juicer: (centrifugal means to move away from the center) fruits and veggies are ground into a pulp by a fast spinning blade and then the pulp is (pushed away from the center) and pressed against a fine mesh strainer and out comes the juice.

Here's my old centrifugal juicer. As you can see the produce goes down
the chute, hits the blade, gets ground into a pulp (as you can see it's all
splattered inside the front of the juicer) and then it's pressed through a
fine mesh strainer and comes out the front. 

Masticating Juicer/Slow Juicer: (masticating means to grind/chew) This juicer slowly grinds fruits and vegetables by squeezing out their juices.

My masticating juicer in action. That's the juice coming out in the front, and
the pulp getting pushed out the back. 

Here is the inside of the masticating juicer mid-juice. There in the middle
is the "juicing screw" which grinds/chews the produce as it goes down.

The inner-workings of the masticating juicer. 

Now those descriptions are all fine to read about but it wasn't until I actually saw the masticating juicer in action that I saw the difference.

The masticating juicer I purchased is a Breville Fountain Crush Slow Masticating Juicer.  I got mine for $246 off and beware the price can fluctuate daily if not more often because at the time I linked the juicer to this post it cost $270. This is a good one to sit and wait on to get to the price you want it to be...then jump on it and buy it!

As you can tell, it's a bit smaller than the
my pervious centrifugal juicer which makes
it easier for storing on the counter top.

Here's a close-up of the masticating juicer.

The on-off switch and reverse button
as well.

Before this juicer, I had a Breville Juice Fountain Plus Centrifugal Juicer ($150). And before that I had a Jack LaLane Power Juicer ($135). So for the past 8-9 years that I've been juicing, I've always been a centrifugal juicer kind of girl. But along came that new masticating juicer of mine and I'm forever changed.
See my centrifugal juicer in action here: "My Daily Green Juice"

When I first used the masticating juicer I obvious difference was how quiet it was (watch the video to really hear the difference between the two).  It was also noticeably slower, but from the info I've read about masticating juicers, this slowness was actually it's main benefit because instead of rushing and juicing the veggies at high speeds that sometimes heat up, the slow juicer juices them slowly and as a result more nutritionist are left intact.

I see it similar to the story of "The Tortise and Hare" in how the cenrifigual juicer is the Hare, it's fast, and gets the job done. Where as the masticating juicer is the Tortise in how it's slower, but in the end, more effective.

For those of you who are new to juicing, the two probably don't seem all that different since they make a similar quantity of juice and they both "seem" effective. For me the main difference comes in the quality of the juice and the types of juice the juicers make (one is more high in water content, where as the other is higher in nutrient content).

Here's my breakdown of the two juicers:

No time for the video? Here's a picture breakdown:

Centrifigual Juicer:
  • Cheaper cost $120-150
  • fast juicing time
  • you don't have to chop fruits and veggies very small since it has a large chute, cuts down on prep time

  • some say the heat generated from the fast blade can destroy some of the nutrients
  • has a hard time juicing greens (not much juice is produced from them)
  • really loud
  • takes some muscle to cram those veggies and fruit into the chute

  • more clean up (scrubbing of the mesh strainer)
  • produces more foam

Centrifugal green juice. Quite a bit of foam.
And although you can't see it here, after 5-10
minutes, the juice starts to separate and the dense
juice goes to the top and the water portion
of the juice goes to the bottom.
Masticated green juice, although it still looks
like there's some foam on top, a main difference
is that the juice does not separate out like the
centrifugal juice...instead it stays combined,
the entire time you drink it!
  • pulp was still wet (seemed as though not all the juice was extracted)...see below to see what the pulp of the masticating juicer looks like

Masticating Juicer/Slow Juicer:

  • more capable of juicing greens
My green juice has taken on a much greener color since switching
to the masticating juicer. 
  • nutrients are more in tact because no heat was generated (obviously I have no way of checking this, but one can tell that the slower juicing process is more gentle and slow on the produce)
  • much quieter!
  • no muscle required, drop in and watch it work
My juicing helper. It's so easy even a 3 year old can do it (with supervision
of course!).
  • clean up seems easier (less scrubbing than I used to have to do of the fine mesh strainer of the centrifigual juicer...still not a walk in the park though-see note below)
  • produces less foam (more actual juice as you saw in the picture above)
  • pulp is drier (proving more juice was extracted)
Here's what the pulp looks like after a round of juicing. 
  • More expensive $250-400
  • slower juicing time
As you can see it's more of a slow drip than an instant flood of juice.
  • you have to chop fruits and vegetables smaller since the chute is smaller
Smaller chute...

...means smaller produce. It takes more time to chop, but it's worth it. 

Now for a few other details of the masticating juicer...

It does have this annoying little section that is somewhat difficult to
clean where the pulp gets stuck. 

But it comes with this toothbrush-like scrubber tool that makes it easier to
 clean it out.

One thing they actually recommend is to run some water through the juicer
(after you've removed the juice) to help with the cleaning. 

Here's the water coming out as it does some cleaning for me. 

After cleaning it, I usually set it up on my counter in the corner to dry on a
dish towel. I used to cram it all into my drying rack but that's what caused me
to break one of my juicer parts of my previous juicer (since I had too much
balanced in it and when I went to get something else, the juicing part fell
to the floor and broke). 

So as you can tell I listed way more "pros" for the masticating juicer and I can definitely say that it is my new favorite type of juicer.  I feel like there should be a saying, "Once you go masticating, you don't go back." It's true. Once you experience the quietness and slowness of masticating juicers, it's hard to want to go back to the loud and rapid centrifugal juicers. To be honest I think the centrifugal juicers actually stressed me out when I used them, at least for the several minutes I had them "turned on" to make my juice. I would feel my whole body tense up and I worked hard to shove the produce down the shute and push it to make sure the juice came out, not to mention the loud noise it generated.

But it's a whole other scene with the masticating juicer. Maybe it's because I used centrifugal juicers for years, but the masticating juicer actually relaxes me. It's slow and gentle like a little bubbling creek of green juice. Ahhh...I always take a deep breath and relax while making juice now. Such calmer and more peaceful juicing experience.

Juicing is much more relaxing and fun with the masticating juicer.
It makes juicing more fun for my girls as well, since they aren't running away
from the crazy loud sound! You can see more about my juicing helpers
in next week's post.
So there you have it, the lowdown on my new masticating juicer.  What do you think? Something worth upgrading too? Or are you staying strong to your centrifugal? Or do you have a masticating juicer and want to share what you like about it? Post below!

Also if you're interested in comparing juicers, here's a great guide that helped me when I was shopping for a new juicer from my favorite health idol, Kris Carr: "Best Juicer to Buy: A Crazy Sexy Smackdown & Juicer Buying Guide."

Happy juicing!

*Disclaimer: I purchased this juicer with my own money and this is my honest opinion of it.*
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