Thursday, March 14, 2019

Affordable Pullover Sweaters for Spring

The temperature is starting to warm up and the snow is finally melted here, which means (I hope) Spring is just around the corner. It also means that I can put away my winter coat and break out my favorite cozy pullover sweaters. I was actually in the market for a new one, so I rounded up the best women’s pullovers in this blog post. Each one is equally as stylish as it is affordable. Many of which cost less than $30! I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a totally reasonable price for sprucing up your Spring wardrobe! Additionally, a bunch of these women’s sweaters come from Amazon, who has a super easy return policy. This, of course, makes shopping online truly a piece of cake. I hope you find something you love!

PRETTYGARDEN Button Neck Splice Geometric Pattern Fleece Pullover – This pullover was super popular on Instagram Stories. I probably received a good two dozen inquires about it – and for good reason! I love everything about this piece – from the button neck to the geometric pattern on the chest. This pullover is definitely something you’ll see me in a lot this Spring!

BTFBM Sherpa Sweatshirt Soft Fleece Pullover – I love this cozy pullover because it’s so roomy and snuggly. The color block is also great, and it comes in a number of different colors, so you’ll definitely be able to find a combo that you love!

AlvaQ 1/4 Zip Camo Pullover Outwear Sweatshirt – How adorable is this top? I love the style + camo pattern. It actually comes in some other colors and fun patterns, so be sure to check them all out!

onlypuff Sherpa Jacket Women Pullover Sweaters Fleece – I’m obsessed with this fuzzy fleece. I kind of want to buy this one too – maybe I’ll hold onto it for fall? It comes in lots of different colors and only costs $22! 

Patagonia Better Sweater Full-Zip Hooded Jacket – Ok, this jacket is a bit more expensive at $103, but it’s 35% off and Patagonia is a brand that will hold up for years and years. I actually have a pullover that’s 10 years old and still looks really good!

Have a wonderful weekend, friends! 🙂

P.S. Here are some sales to awesome checkout!

 

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Batman Hit a Growth Spurt

Hi, friends!

Quinn slept in until 7:35 this morning, which, for a kid who doesn’t wake up much later than 6:00 most mornings, was quite the world record! He actually seemed taller when he came out of his room this morning, so I made a comment that maybe he hit a growth spurt overnight. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, Quinn said he wanted to measure himself. He immediately walked downstairs and opened the door to the hall closet.

Quinn had indeed grown since the last time we measured him back in January. I actually measured him 3 different times just to make sure. Batman definitely hit a growth spurt!

After I dropped Quinn off at school, I swung by Stop & Shop for “cheesy popcorn,” which was Quinn’s request for our movie night tonight. I always walk down the peanut butter aisle when I’m there – just to see if the Teddie Peanut Butter is on sale. I guess it was my lucky day because it was just $2.99 a jar. Of course, I stocked up and bought 4!

After that, I stopped by the YMCA for a quick 30-minute workout. I did a 10-minute kettlebell met-con followed by 20 minutes of lower body strength training, which included the Leg Press and Hack Squat machine. I don’t typically like putting heavy weight on my back because it compresses my spine and just doesn’t feel good, but these machines were awesome. They didn’t hurt my back, and my legs felt like Jello by the end of my workout!

After that, I swung by the library to return some books and pick up a new one that I had one hold. (Have I mentioned how much I love the library?). I heard an interview with the author, and it definitely piqued my interest. FYI: I have a “book review” of What to Eat When when coming soon to the blog!

On the drive home, I listened to another episode of Armchair Expert with John Gottman as the guest. It was actually recommended to me by a reader, and it’s all about marriage and relationships. It was super interesting – definitely worth a listen!

After running errands all morning, I took a quick shower, took three back-to-back phone calls, and then finally looked at my inbox. Oy. I swear, email controls my life. I really need to put some systems into place. If you have any awesome ideas, please send them my way!

My afternoon finished off with another trip to the vet for Murphy’s ulcer eye. Thankfully, this time, he was awarded a clean bill of health!

After that, I picked up Quinn from school. We ate dinner, and now we’re snuggling on the couch watching a movie and eating cheesy popcorn.

The end.

Question of the Day

What’s the best piece of marriage advice you’ve ever received?

It’s Friday tomorrow. What are you looking forward to this weekend? 

Any awesome ideas/apps/tools to manage inbox madness?

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Clean Eating Green Lemon Pineapple Smoothie Recipe

I swiped this clean eating green lemon pineapple smoothie recipe.

True story.

I was shopping at Costco and had gone in for Pull-Ups only. But on my way to the register, I got sidetracked by the Vitamix girl.

Clean Eating Green Lemon Pineapple Smoothie

You see, whenever Vitamix (a high powered blender) comes to Costco, it’s physically impossible for me to just walk by without stopping for a delicious sample, and Mini Chef knows that that is one of the few sample tables mom will always stop at. So it didn’t take much pleading from him to get me to come to a screeching halt directly in front of this woman.

Now, as I’ve mentioned before on my lil’ ol’ blog here, I don’t share food very well. In fact, I’ll wrestle somebody twice my size before I’ll share my food with them. Yes, my family lovingly refers to me as “Joey” (5 points if you get the reference). So when a woman cut in front of me at the Vitamix table, I can tell you that I was not a very happy camper. In fact, I spent the entire demo plotting how I would slip my hand in under her arm and swipe the first sample if she didn’t make room for me.

Lucky for her, the demo lady was holding the tray up while she filled it, so I couldn’t just reach in and grab. And by the time she set the tray down, there was plenty for everyone. Crisis averted.

But seeing as how I had been plotting instead of paying attention, I really didn’t have much of an idea what I was about to sample. So when I took my first swig, my eyeballs just about popped out of my head.

THIS. WAS. SO. GOOD.

So I made the Vitamix lady recite her recipe for me, and it turns out that this was her own personal twist on a recipe from the Vitamix cookbook (pg 35).

So as you can see, I’m willing to not only swipe food samples, but apparently I’ve stooped to swiping recipes as well. It’s an all-time low for me. But I can honestly say that in this particular case, I’ll be smiling all the way to my blender.

YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY THESE CLEAN EATING RECIPES:

Enjoy!
Copyright Information For The Gracious Pantry

CLEAN EATING GREEN LEMON PINEAPPLE SMOOTHIE RECIPE:

Clean Eating Green Lemon Pineapple Smoothie

NOTE: This was done in a Vitamix blender. If you have a common household blender, I don’t recommend this recipe. You definitely need something high-powered for this.

  • 3/4 cup grape juice concentrate ((melted))
  • 3/4 inch slice lemon ((peel and seeds included))
  • 1/2 large orange ((peeled))
  • 3 cups raw spinach ((packed when measuring))
  • 1 cup baby kale ((packed when measuring))
  • 1/4 medium whole pineapple ((peeled, core left on))
  • ice ((to finish filling up the blender))
  • water (as needed for blending)
  1. Pour the melted grape concentrate into the blender first.

  2. Then add all other ingredients with the ice on the top and blend until smooth. Add water as needed to blend smoothly.

  3. Storage: This will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge. Simply shake or stir before drinking.

Please note that the nutrition data below is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.


Recipe from the Gracious Pantry archives, originally posted 8/13/12.

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Dear Mark: Protein Efficiency in Seniors, Earned Carbs, Hardgainer with Limited Time

For this week’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three questions from readers. First, is the reduced protein efficiency in older adults due to inactivity, or is it something inherent to the aging process, or both? Second, how does a person know if they’ve actually “earned” any carbs? Does everyone on a keto diet earn carbs by virtue of exercising, or is there more to it? And finally, how can a hardgainer with a packed schedule all week long and limited gym time maintain what little muscle mass he’s managed to gain?

Let’s find out:

Interesting observation on protein needs and training in Sunday with Sisson – general consensus is that older folks need more protein as they age but maybe that’s because they are less active and not simply a result of aging.

That’s probably part of it, but it’s not all of it.

In studies where they compare resistance training seniors who eat extra protein with resistance training seniors who don’t, only the seniors eating extra protein gain muscle mass.

Now, it may be that a lifetime of inactivity degrades your ability to utilize protein, and if these older adults had always lifted weights they would have retained their protein efficiency. But maybe not. As it stands, all else being equal, an older adult needs more protein to get the same effect, even if he or she is lifting weights.

Enjoyable read. As someone who lives a ketogenic lifestyle, and who is athletically active, I am not sure exactly how to go about consuming the carbs I’ve “earned.” I rarely run into problems with athletic energy, at least not below anaerobic threshold. Not sure that eating more carbs will improve my performance. And, if they would improve my performance, how does one go about calculating earned carb replacement without losing the fat burning benefits of ketosis?

It sounds like you’re in a good place.

When I say “eat the carbs you earn,” I’m talking to the people who do run into problems with athletic energy, poor performance, insomnia, and other symptoms of exercise-induced stress. Typically, the people who “earn their carbs” are doing stuff like CrossFit, high volume moderate-to-high intensity endurance work, martial arts training, and team sports.

I doubt extra carbs will improve your performance if most of your training takes place in the aerobic zone. But if you wanted to experiment, you could try a small sweet potato immediately after a workout where you passed the anaerobic threshold.

That’s the best way to determine if you’ve earned carbs. Eat 20-30 grams after a workout and see if you enjoy performance gains without gaining body fat. There’s no consumer-friendly way to directly calculate carb debt; self-experimentation is it.

I recently took a job that has me out of bed at 4am and not home until 6pm Monday Through Friday. Is there an efficient way I can maintain muscle mass only lifting weights Saturday and Sunday? I’m a hardgainer at 5’10” and only 140lbs. I’m afraid giving up my 5 day split will ruin what muscle I’ve been able to gain.

Any hardgainer has to eat, and eat, and eat. Increase your food intake. Just eat. Stick to healthy Primal fare, but pack in the food. Meat, milk, veggies, potatoes, rice, eggs, avocados, fruit. Throw some liver in, too (old bodybuilder staple). It doesn’t sound like fat gain is an issue for you, so I’d take advantage of that and just consume calories.

As for training, get some exercise snacks in during the week.

As soon as you wake up, do a quick superset of pushups. Do as many pushups as you can. Wait 30 seconds. Do as many pushups as you can. Wait 30 seconds. Do as many pushups as you can. There you go. That shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes in the morning. Can you squeeze that in?

Repeat this every morning with a different exercise. Pullups, bodyweight rows, kettlebell swings, handstand pushups, dips, bodyweight squats, goblet squats, reverse lunges, reverse weighted lunges. Just choose one thing to do every morning, cram as many reps as you can using the same format (max reps, 30 s rest, max reps, 30 s rest, max reps). Buy any equipment you can if you choose to use weights.

When you get home at night, do the same thing with a different exercise. Morning pushups, evening KB swings, etc. That way, you get about 10 minutes per weekday of intense strength training without impacting your sleep or schedule in any real meaningful way.

Make sure your sleep hygiene is rock solid. Dim those lights at night, turn on f.lux or night mode, wear the blue blocking goggles, get to bed (ideally) by 8:30, 9 to give you 7 to 7.5 hours of sleep. Sleep is essential for gaining lean mass (and staying healthy in general).

On the weekend, hit the weights hard on both days, hitting the entire body. Go high volume/reps. If size is your goal, dropping the weight a bit and focusing on range of motion and a high rep count (10-15 per set) is very effective.

Food, sleep, reps. Good luck!

Thanks for stopping in today, everybody. Additional thoughts for these folks—or questions of your own? Share them below.

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References:

Tieland M, Dirks ML, Van der zwaluw N, et al. Protein supplementation increases muscle mass gain during prolonged resistance-type exercise training in frail elderly people: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2012;13(8):713-9.

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When Instagram Broke Yesterday [Digital Health]

Timing is everything, right?

Earlier this week, Mal sent me an episode of the Mind Pump podcast to listen to. It was all about “digital health,” which is obviously a subject that has come up in our house quite a bit over the years, like a lot. The episode’s guest Tommy Sobel talked about “Brick: The Phone-Free Movement.” It really struck a chord with both Mal and me, so we started “bricking” our phones at night. Basically, we put them on airplane mode and then in our bedroom, so we could be 100% present and not distracted by our phones. We’ve only done this for a few nights now, but it’s really quite liberating.

As a blogger/influencer, I feel like I always need to be on, sharing content and updating social media, specifically on Instagram Stories. My mind is constantly thinking of new content, and I’m always stopping to share a photo or video from my everyday life. I honestly love sharing, and my job is a ton of fun, but sometimes I need a break, just like anyone else.

When Instagram broke yesterday afternoon, it really put the nail in the coffin and confirmed that I want to limit my time on social media. I was actually kind of happy the app wasn’t working! Obviously, this isn’t to say you’ll never see me on Instagram Stories again – you will, for sure! But I want to put more of my energy into the blog.

A number of readers and followers shared that they’re limiting their time on social media as well, so they actually prefer reading the blog and not hanging out on Instagram and Facebook. This makes so much sense to me, so I think you’ll “see” me a lot more on the blog in the future! 🙂 With that, here are some highlights from yesterday!

I drank some celery juice on the way to drop Quinn off at school. I’m still juicing on the regular, but I’m down to 3 times a week instead of 4-5 times. Knock on wood, I’m still seeing the positive effects!

Quinn wore his “Cereal Toast Crunch” sunglasses to school! 🙂

I heard that the Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard was a really great podcast, so I started listening with the Brene Brown episode. My gosh, it was so funny and so thought-provoking! I absolutely loved it.

Lunch: Trader Joe’s Soy Glazed Salmon with “Cruciferous Crunch Collection” (also from Trader Joe’s), air fryer Brussels sprouts, and avocado. It was simple yet delicious!!

Our family is heading to Punta Cana this summer, so we stopped by South Shore Medical Center for a “travel visit” to make sure we are up-to-date with all of our vaccinations. We needed to get the Typhoid vaccine, so now our arms are SO SORE, which is totally normal, but jeez… it’s like we had a super hard day at the gym! Haha!

Question of the Day

How do you feel about your own digital health?

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Review Of My NordicTrack 990

You guys have already heard me report that I’m very happy with our new treadmill purchase. I bought the NordicTrack C 990 through Amazon with my own money. (This post/review isn’t sponsored at all). I wanted to share a more formal review of it because:

  1. Lots of you have asked me about both the model and the ordering/delivery/assembly experience.
  2. When I was doing my own research I couldn’t find that many informal, real-person reviews of treadmills.

So forgive me for being a bit redundant with points I have already blogged about. I want to put it all in one big easy-to-read post!

Why Did I Buy A New Treadmill?

As I have already written about, I bought a used treadmill on Craigslist last fall that was a basic model and 10 years old. I loved power walking and eventually running on it after my baby was born. But soon, the wear and tear on such an old machine led to a few problems related to the belt and incline that would cost a few hundred dollars to repair. The treadmill was so old and I was hooked on home workouts, so I decided to invest in a new one instead of trying to sink money into an outdated machine.

Under $1,000

Although I am sure the $4,000 treadmills are amazing, I really just needed something that worked and had a few cool features like quick touch buttons for speed and incline. I will probably never be running more than 4-5 miles indoors, and I am not a serious runner training for marathons. I’m just a thirties mom trying to break a good sweat! Initially I wanted something at the $500-600 price point, and I almost bought this model. However, this review article convinced me that I should get a model that is one step up from the bottom and shared reasons why the 990 was better than the 6.5.

iFit + Touch Screen

Some of those features shared in the article included a better motor and a built-in tablet holder for an iPad, which I knew would be convenient for watching Birch and watching shows through apps.

But the ultimate selling point for me on the 990 was the 7″ screen that is iFit enabled. iFit is a subscription-based program that has a library of coached video workouts filmed all over the world. It’s like the video version of Aaptiv, which I had been using and loving. (I plan on comparing Aaptiv and iFit in another post – I like them both for different reasons!) The coach on your screen guides you through the workout AND CHANGES YOUR SPEED AND INCLINE FOR YOU. Allow me to emphasize how much I love the auto change feature. When I read that iFit could do it, I eliminated any treadmill that wasn’t compatible from my research list. Some of the models (like the 6.5) are “iFit compatible” but you have to have your own screen on a phone or tablet connected through BlueTooth. I thought it made so much sense to have the screen built in, which is why the 990 was my top choice. I knew if you bought the treadmill through NordicTrack you got a free year of iFit (valued at about $180) but I didn’t know if mine would come with it and planned to do a free trial. Imagine my delight when I opened my user manual to find the iFit gift card inside, thus, I’m fairly sure that all new machines come with it.

Ordering Through Amazon

Three cheers for Amazon! When I ordered, and currently as I type this post, both delivery and ASSEMBLY were included. I did pay $19 to have the treadmill delivered to my basement (“any room” fee) and I did tip all of the delivery/assembly guys $60 so technically it wasn’t free free, but compared to the $250 that NordicTrack.com wanted to charge me and compared to the fear of assembling something this big myself, I was very happy. (Even when it’s not on special, the delivery is always free and the assembly is $111 – very reasonable.)

All of the Amazon communication around delivery/assembly was very clear. I scheduled the delivery about 5 days after my purchase and the assembly the following afternoon. We had a snowstorm in Charlottesville, and my UPS package got delayed, but I’ll be darned if those two nice guys didn’t show up on time with my treadmill and carry it up an icy hill to my basement door.

The next day a very nice man came from a local tech company called Techies4Me (contracted through Amazon) that does everything from surround sound to fitness assembly. Brian had my treadmill up and running in about 1.5 hours! Let me tell you: one look inside that box and I was so glad a pro was doing it. I’m sure we could have figured it out, but he worked so quickly that it was the best money never spent (because it was free!)

And How Does It Run?

She runs beautifully! I have gotten on treadmills at hotels before that were so wobbly I felt like it might collapse under me, so my greatest fear was that it wouldn’t “feel solid” but it’s great! I did have to put a little piece of wood under the back wheel to level it because my basement floor is not-so-level, but that made it feel like I was running on a nice, firm surface. I have been sprinting at speeds of 8.0/8.2 just fine!

I love the polished look, and the slots for water/phones/chapstick/headphones are great. Roomy enough for my big Hydroflask bottle too.

The quick touch buttons are awesome, and I love that you can type in “3 then 5” for a speed of 3.5. (On my old one you had to type 3 and then push the ^ arrow 5 times to get to 3.5).

The touch screen is nice. It is a bit on the small side, but I didn’t really think I needed a giant one that would have easily added another few hundred dollars to the price, so I’m happy enough with it. I will say that the interface isn’t the most user friendly, but I have figured it all out now.

The treadmill does fold up and roll around, but I find that to be more of a hassle than it’s worth since we have a nice little mudroom for it.

I am absolutely obsessed with iFit, although I do have some complaints about it. I’m going to save all of those deets for a whole separate post!

Any Cons?

Yes – just a few.

Bluetooth: I thought I would be able to play music (or Aaptiv) through the built-in speakers via Bluetooth, but as far as I know the only way to connect a phone is an audio jack. It seems like the Bluetooth is only able to connect iFit through an app. And I haven’t been able to connect the iFit app for some reason.

Multitasking: Because the touch screen controls both iFit and the manual workouts, you can’t start the belt moving until you select a workout. For example, you can’t walk at a speed of 3 while you browse the built-in workouts or the iFit workouts and then push “go” and immediately switch to the next one. You have to stop whatever you’re doing, rate the workout, and exit to the main screen before you can move onto something else. Basically, the touch screen is both a pro and a con. Sometimes you just need an old fashioned dashboard, yaknowwhati’msayin?

While I can’t speak to long-term use or reliability yet, I am very, very happy with my purchase!

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