{Three best friends sharing health and wellness ideas to create a positive change}

Thursday, February 27, 2014

15 Minute Interval Workout

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One of my favorite workouts is interval training. It keeps your heart rate up and allows you to burn more calories in less amount of time.

This particular workout has 5 different exercises that you will repeat 3 times through. The intervals will be 50 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest for 15 rounds. It does not sound very long or hard but trust me if you are pushing yourself you will be burned out at the end. These 5 exercises are to target your whole body so you will get an all over workout.

(sorry I sound so congested and sniffle in the movie. haha I can not get over this cold.)

Set your timer for 2 intervals of 50 and 10 for 15 rounds and get ready to work (I have downloaded a free app called "Gymboss" that I use as my timer)

1. Jump Squat with Side Kick out. (If the jump squat is to difficult then do a regular squat)

10 seconds of rest

2. Push up with Spider Knee to the side. (If you can't do push ups from your feet drop to your knees)

10 seconds of rest

3. Toe Touch abs (Try and have both legs off the ground the whole time for hardest version)

10 seconds of rest

4. 10 Mountain Climbers with 10 Crab Jumps (Take out the jump during the crab jumps to make easier)

10 seconds of rest

5. Triceps Pushup with Jump out and in (Do pushup from your knees to make easier)

Remember to use good posture and form throughout the entire workout. It is better to do each exercise slower and use correct form then to speed through and have bad form. Always make sure your shoulders are back and down, your abs are contracted and that your knees never go over your toes. Good luck with the workout and have fun! :)


8 Tips to Beat your Sweet Tooth

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You just got home from a busy day and cook dinner. You finish eating your delicious (and healthy) dinner and all of a sudden that urge for a sweet comes on very strongly. Next stop...the cupboard! You find that box of chocolates that your Grandma gave you for Valentines Day and take a bite out of each candy, just to find that special milk chocolate one filled with caramel. This scenario may sound all too familiar to some of us. Conquering your sweet tooth can seem like an impossible task, but I am here to tell you that it is possible!

I'm not gonna lie, I love sweets. Always have and probably always will. This entry is not meant to tell you to never eat a sweet again in your life, but to help you conquer your sweet tooth and not have it conquer you.
                                               How will you spend your 200 calories???

This tip seems simple enough right?! Breaking a habit can actually be quite tough. If you crave sweets every night after dinner or everyday after lunch (or both), you have already trained your brain to want something sweet after you eat a certain meal. Now what? Retrain your brain! If you take the steps to break the habit and teach yourself that you do not need a sweet after every meal, you will have less of a desire to eat that piece of cheesecake after dinner. I notice that when I allow myself to eat a sweet every night after dinner, I look forward to that sweet every single night and I have a hard time not eating it. When I stop, after a few days I don't crave it as much. Getting through the first week or two is the hard part, but if you can prepare yourself mentally and hold strong, the urge will go away! Remember, developing a good habit or breaking a bad habit takes approximately 14 days!

If it's not in your house, you won't be tempted by it. Make it easier on yourself and your family members and just don't buy it.

After your meals, get out and do something active! Play a game with your children, go on a walk, paint your nails. If you engage yourself in a different activity, the urge for a sweet will go away quickly.

When you have a fresh and clean mouth, your desire to eat is lowered. Plus, we all know how food tastes right after you brush your teeth...yuck!

Try a fresh fruit bowl, banana with a tiny bit of peanut butter, or a fruit smoothie. Fruit has natural sugars so it is very sweet, but does not have the calories and fat that other desserts have. Also, fruit is loaded with vitamins and minerals that are great for your body.

The key to health is moderation. If you are constantly telling yourself that you cannot have something, sooner or later you will most likely give in and you may overindulge. When you do choose to have a dessert, just go for smaller serving sizes, have them less often, or share with someone.

Let someone in your family or a close friend know what your goal is. If someone else knows, it is easier to stick to your goal. They can support you and hold you accountable.

Remember to eat balanced, regular meals throughout the day. Make sure your meals include fiber, protein and carbohydrates to keep you satisfied and energized longer. If you get hungry in between meals, have a snack! Prepare healthy snacks like raw veggies and hummus, whole grain crackers and hummus, cottage cheese and fruit, fruit and plain greek yogurt, etc. When our blood sugar drops too low, many of us reach for the foods that will raise it the fastest: donuts, candy bars, juice. If we eat consistently and do not let ourselves get too hungry, our blood sugar is more level and we are less likely to reach for the "quick fix".

Write down what you are feeling when you get the urge to eat sweets. Are you hungry? Angry? Thirsty? Bored? Stressed? Happy? Food journals help us see what time our sweet tooth hits and why, and what can help us overcome our weaknesses.

You can do it! Every positive step you take is a victory. Reward yourself for these victories. Set goals along the way and when you reach them, celebrate YOU!!!


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Easy and Healthy Weeknight Dinner Idea

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I am always looking for quick and easy dinner ideas for my family. These paninis are one of my "go to" recipes during the week. They are so yummy and are actually one of my husbands favorite things for dinner, and my 1 year old eats them too!

You can totally modify these to your taste, but here is my favorite:

2 pieces 100% whole wheat bread
Avocado (I smash it up a little first and use it as a spread, otherwise the avocado tends to slide out)
Sliced tomato
Sliced turkey breast or your choice of meat (or if you prefer, you can leave the meat off)
Cucumber slices
Provolone cheese

Spread hummus on one side of a piece of bread and avocado spread on the other. Place all other ingredients on bread and cook on a George Foreman grill until hot and toasted.
*Side note: I do not use any butter or spray on the outside of the bread, it doesn't need it.

I also made these oven roasted vegetables to go on the side. Aren't they pretty? FYI, the recipe is huge so I cut it way down since it is just the 3 of us.

I hope you enjoy these!

How often do you cook dinner for your family during the week?
Do you have a weekly planning menu?


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Recipe for Energy Balls

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These energy balls are very tasty and my husband refers to them as "cookie balls", but don't you worry they are stuffed full of healthy goodness. They are great for your post workout meal or for your kids to pack with them to eat on the run. Being in a pre-made ball form makes these great for easy on the go snacks.

The recipe is super fast and easy so you can whip these up in no time:)


3- cups old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups- dry powdered milk
1/4 cup- wheat germ
1/4 flax seed or chia seed 
1/2 cups coconut flakes
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
1 cup- honey 
1 1/4 cups- natural creamy peanut butter 
Yeilds- about 40 balls 


Mix all the ingredients together with an electric mixer or by hand (literally with your hands)

Once everything is mixed well use an ice cream scooper to form into balls and place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper.

Once the balls are all formed place the baking sheet into the freezer for about 15 minutes or until the balls are firm.

Remove and enjoy! Store them inside a large zip lock bag inside the refrigerator. Let me know how you liked them :) 

Monday, February 24, 2014

At Home Workout: 100 Rep Challenge

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Yesterday, we talked about finding time to workout when you have children. Working out at home is one way that you can fit exercise into your busy schedule. This at home workout is fun and challenging, but best of all, all you need is your body! Your children will probably be pretty entertained just by watching you do this! You can make it as challenging or easy as you want. The less you rest in between reps, the harder it is. Have fun and let us know how it goes!

100 Rep Challenge:

10 Push-ups
10 Squat Jumps (or Regular Squats if you want lower impact)
10 Superman Lifts
10 Suicide Planks
10 Burpees
10 Chair Tricep Dips
10 Russian Twists
10 Plie' Hops
10 Ab Levers
10 Alternating Lunge Jumps

*Repeat as many times as you can and have time for! I recommend trying to get through it at least three times. 1 set= 100 reps! Remember, the less you rest between reps and sets, the harder it is! 

Here are explanations and pictures for the exercises. Let me know if you have questions!!

Squat Jumps:
Perform a squat. Make sure your knees don't go over your toes, your chest is up (don't bend your back),  and make sure your toes are facing forward. From the squat position, jump up. Land softly and go straight into your squat.

Superman Lifts:
Lie on your stomach with your arms up by your ears. Engage your core and lift your arms and legs at the same time. You should feel your lower back working!

Suicide Planks:
Start in a push-up position. Make sure your back is flat and your core is engaged throughout this whole exercise. From the push-up position, slowly drop down to your elbows, moving one arm at a time. Try not to wiggle your hips. Push back up to push-up position and repeat, alternating the leading arm. 

Start in a standing position. Squat down and place your hands on the floor. Shoot your feet back, landing in push-up position. Bring your knees in again into the squat position (with your hands on the ground). Stand up and repeat. You can also add a jump at the end, from the squat position. Land softly from the jump.

Chair Tricep Dips:
Sit on a chair with your arms straight and close to your body. Slowly lift up and slide forward so that your body weight is on your arms and your bum barely misses the chair. Bend your arms, keeping your elbows in. Keep your core engaged and your back straight.

Russian Twists:
Lean back on a 45 degree angle and lift your feet up if possible. Engage your core and slowly bring your arms to the right side, then to the left. Control your movements! 


Plie' Hops:
Go into a wide squat with your feet facing diagonally. Squat down while keeping your bum tucked under and your core engaged. Don't let your knees go over your feet. Jump up and land softly. Repeat.


Ab Levers:
Lie on your back and lift both of your legs so that your feet are pointing straight up. Engage your core and slowly bring your legs down as far as they can go without touching the ground. Bring them back up and repeat. 


Alternating Lunge Jumps: 
Perform a lunge with the left leg in front. Make sure that your feet are facing forward and your front knee does not go over your foot. At the bottom of the lunge, explode up and switch legs so that you land with your right knee in the front. Land softly and repeat. Try to go straight into the next lunge:) 

Have a great day!!


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Finding Time to Workout with Children

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Being a parent is the best thing in the world, but is also very time consuming! Between taking care of your child's needs, playing with them, taking care of the house, making breakfast lunch and dinner, cleaning up breakfast, lunch and dinner, and if you work add that on top.... Wow! Lots of responsibility! Finding time to exercise can sometimes be a struggle. If you take the time to add exercise into your daily routine, it will be worth it! I promise!

I call exercise the "miracle drug" because it helps with every single aspect of wellness. I find that I have way more energy throughout the day when I exercise, and I feel happier and healthier. Balancing time and priorities can help you fit your workouts in and be a happier, healthier parent.

Tips for exercising when you have children:

1. Invest in a jogging stroller:
I run with a BOB stroller and I am absolutely in love with it! It is so easy to get up and go on a jog with my little girl and get a great exercise in for the day. She loves riding along. I definitely think that jogging strollers are worth the money. If you do not jog, No worries! Go for a walk! You and your child will love being out together in the fresh air.

2. Use your time efficiently: 
If you only have 20 minutes, that's fine! Make good use of your time by doing a harder workout. Get your heart pumping with at home exercises like jumping rope, jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, squats, burpees, etc. Remember anything is better than nothing!

3. Exercise first thing in the morning if possible: 
I find that it is much easier to get my workout in if I do it in the morning. By the end of the day I am so tired and have a hard time getting my body into "go" mode. If I exercise right away, I don't feel like I have to worry about how I am going to get it in all day. I also feel like I have more energy throughout the day.

4. Invest in exercise videos/apps/exercise websites:

There are TONS of exercise videos out there. Exercise videos are so nice to have on hand. When you have a spare half hour, just pop in a video and get a great workout in! Some great exercise videos I have found are Jillian michaels "Ripped in 30" or "30 Day Shred", Insanity, and P90X. There are many different types of videos like yoga, pilates, kickboxing, taebo, etc. Find a couple that you like and go for it!

Feel like you dont want to spend money on videos?! No worries! There are many websites and phone apps that have many different workouts. A few apps: Fitness Buddy, Daily Workouts and Popsugar Active. Websites: Body Rock TV and Workout Box. If all else fails, Youtube a workout video! 

5. Make it a priority:
Schedule exercise in. If you make it an important part of your day, you will find time to get it in. If you need to start by actually penciling in a time to workout, or setting a workout alarm on your phone, do it! Make it a priority and get into the habit of making it routine. I promise you will feel better!

6.  Use nap time: Nap time is awesome for exercise. If you do use nap time, I suggest to exercise before you do anything else. There are a billion distractions and it's easy to get caught up in something else. Exercise first and then do your other stuff:)

7. Remember every minute counts! 

If your day gets crazy and you have to do ten minute intervals of exercise, that's okay! Shoot for thirty minutes, and if that means ten minutes in the morning, ten at lunch, and ten in the evening that is just fine... It all adds up.

8. Have activities ready for your children:

If you are going to exercise while your children are around, have some simple activities for them to do. You can set up a little activity station with coloring books, their favorite toys, and snacks.

9.  Use the park:

Parks are awesome exercise tools and while you exercise, your children will be entertained! You can run around with your children, take laps around the playground, do the monkey bars, do pull-ups, jump on or step up on to the benches, push-ups, sit-ups, squats, lunges... The possibilities are endless!

10. Set up an exercise play date: 

Get another mom or group of moms together to exercise! Go to the park, track, or even someone's house and let the kids play while the mommas exercise:)

11.  Join a gym with a daycare: 

Daycare gyms are very convenient. If you do choose to put your child in a daycare, make sure it is safe and clean.

12.  Involve your children:

Go on a walk, Turn on some music and dance with your children, or  show your children how to do the exercises so that they can do it with you.

Remember to take care of yourself...YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!

Tune in tomorrow for a fun and challenging at home workout that involves no equipment. All you need is your body! 


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Best Ab Exercises

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I know a lot of people skip working out their abs, but it is actually one of my favorite muscle groups to work on. I love trying to get my stomach to look strong and fit!

I want to share a few of my favorite ab exercises. The great thing about these is that most of them can be done at home. I would recommend working out your abs at least 3 times a week (try to space the days out). On your "ab days", pick 3 different exercises and do 10-20 reps of each exercise (depending on how hard each specific one is for you) then repeat for 3 sets. Sometimes, when I get bored of that routine and don't want to do 3 sets, I pick 5 different exercises and do 20 reps of each just to mix it up a little. Try not to stop between each exercise, keep moving and keep those abs working! The bottom line is, no matter how many you can do or what your fitness level is, just make sure you are challenging yourself. 

Russian Twist:
You can do this exercise on the floor or on an inverted bench. When on the floor, try to hold your feet off the ground if possible. If you do not have access to a medicine ball (weighted ball), you can always hold a dumbbell. If that is too hard, you do not need to hold any weights.  

Lean back at a 45 degree angle, your back should never touch the ground during this exercise. Twist through your abdomen and swing your arms side to side (without stopping in the middle, it is a continuous motion). Go slow and stay in control.

Planks are probably one of the most amazing exercises out there. They work so many awesome muscle groups at the same time. Not only will your abs be working, but also your back, your shoulders, your quads, and that booty :).

It is very important to hold yourself in the correct position when doing a plank. Make sure you are not dropping your hips or sticking them up in the air. You want your entire core to be held tight and to be "engaged." Watch yourself in a mirror or have someone take your picture when you are trying planks to learn the correct positioning, then you will learn what the right positioning feels like.

I like to do planks on my forearms but you can also be in push up position. This is true for a front hold plank and a side plank.

When first starting out, try to hold your plank for 20 seconds to 1 minute (depending on your fitness level), then as you get stronger, increase the time. If you are not to the point where you cannot hold it any longer when your time is up, you need to lengthen your time.

This is a great exercise that works both your upper and lower abdominal muscles. You want both your feet to stay off the ground the entire time. Your shoulders should also stay off the ground.

Alternate sides while "pedaling" your legs in the air like you are on a bicycle. It is important to go slow and stay in control during the workout.

Leg Lifts:
Leg lifts can be done while laying flat on the ground or on a "captains chair." To make it more challenging, lift your shoulders off the mat when on the ground. This targets your lower abs (that muffin top that we all love so much).

Slowly raise your legs to a 90 degree angle then slowly lower. You do not want your legs to ever rest on the ground! You can also use this to target your obliques by lowering your legs side to side while on the ground, and lifting them side to side when performing on a captains chair.

Jelly Bellies:
I truly have no idea what the real name of this exercise is, but I have known it as "jelly bellies" since I was in gymnastics as a kid haha! I love them though and I really do think they work.

Start out in a hollow hold (legs and shoulders off the mat) then pull yourself up to where your legs and chest meet, and go back into a hollow hold. Your legs and shoulders should never touch the mat. Keep it slow and in control.

V into Hollow Man:
This is a really tough exercise. Try it, there is no way you won't feel it working!

Start out in a hollow hold. While keeping your legs straight, pull your legs and your chest up, then back down into a hollow hold. Do not ever touch the ground with your legs or your shoulders.

Sit ups:
Yep, just like in gym class. Sit ups not only work your abs, they are also a hip flexor exercise. Strengthening your hip flexors is important in injury prevention, specifically in preventing IT band injuries.

Try not to let your feet lift off the ground while you sit up. If you need to, have someone hold your feet then do it on your own once you are strong enough. You can also do this on an inverted bench and with or without added weight. When on a bench, do not ever rest your back down on the bench.

Crunches with lifted legs:
Crunches are not the most effective ab exercise, but there are a lot of variations that are beneficial! This is one that I like.

Keep your legs at a 90 degree angle as you do a crunch. Remember to keep your chin up and NEVER pull on your neck with your arms. 

Dumbbell Side Bend:
This is another exercise that I do often. It works good on those awesome love handles. Use a heavy enough weight that you can feel it working, but do not make it so heavy that it strains your back. Make sure you are staying straight as you bend to the side so you are protecting your back. Again, go slow and stay in control.

While holding a dumbbell in one hand, slowly bend to the side and then back up to a standing position.

I said this on many of the exercises, but always go slow and stay in control. It will work your abs better and will also help you keep correct positioning to avoid injuries.

One last thing that is worth noting-remember, working out is only half of the equation. If you want results, you have to be eating right. I am not talking about a "diet" or a quick fix. It is a lifestyle change. We are here to help you with that! We will continue to post about making healthy changes and please ask us any questions you may have.