Monthly Planning With Erica | April Goals

Upcoming Plans for the Month of April

April showers bring May’s flowers. But, will we ever be able to enjoy our Spring or Summer this year? With the majority of States in America encouraging all citizens to quarantine at home it’s hard to imagine what the month of April will bring.

As I sit here and plan out my goals for the month of April, I am trying to be optimistic. Hoping that this pandemic will disappear and fade out as quickly as it swept across the nation. With the majority of businesses closed as a result of local shutdowns, I will be taking this time at home to re-focus on some area in my health and lifestyle that I want to improve.

For the month of April– I will be focusing on:

  • Eating fresh
  • Be more intentional in reading food labels
  • Core strength training

Eat Fresh

I have made a change in how I shop over the past few weeks. My focus is on buying fresh fruits and veggies. Not only is this more cost efficient but eating fresh has a lot of benefits.

10 Reasons to Eat Real Food:

  1. Loaded with important nutrients
  2. Provides vitamins and minerals to support your health
  3. Low in sugar
  4. High in fiber
  5. Improve skin
  6. High in healthy fats
  7. Contrains antioxidants
  8. Supports gut health
  9. Improves dental hygiene
  10. Reduce sugar cravings

On Monday I prepared a zucchini spaghetti, substituting noodles for zucchinis. This is a great low carb dish. And did you know that zucchini has a lot of nutritional value? Zucchini has the following vitamins: vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and folic acid. Zucchini also contacts antioxidants. Compared to your basic refined pasta noodles, which are higher in calories carbs, lower in fiber, and most other micro-nutrients. Zucchini is a great replacement and a good source for incorporating more vegetable servings in your meals.

Read Food Labels

How many of you actually read the ingredient labels before tossing an item in your cart? Food labels provide imporant information. By reading food labels it can help you make better and more controlled decisions regarding your diet and intake of high sugary foods. It is also imporant to understand what the recommended serving size is for that particular food.

Ingredients are also important to pay attention to when reading food labels. Take a look below and compare the ingredient list for a jar of peanut butter and almond butter.

Since when did peanut butter need all of those additives? This Wegman’s brand of peanut butter is simply NOT peanut butter. It contains: Roasted Peanuts, Sugar, Contains Less than 2% of Fully Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils (Rapeseed, Cottonseed, Soybean), Salt, Molasses. My goal is to eliminate additional sugar, hydrogenated oils, and soy out of my diet.

While, Targets Good & Gather Creamy Almond Butter contains just almonds. This is definitely a healthier option if you are looking for a nut butter. Almond butter is a great source for vitamin E, magnesium, copper, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and phosphorous. Also, it is a excellent source of monounsaturated fat, protein, and fiber which supports heart health.

Core Strength Training

For those that have been following my blog you know that I enjoy yoga and pilates. Well, I came across an article on the blog, Lorieb a few days ago titled, Planks Still the Best Exercise. The article highlights the benefits of incorporating planking into your exercise routine.

I read this article after being tagged by my husband on Instagram to participate in a push up challenge. My attempt to do a push up was a epic FAIL. It was at that point when I told myself that I am going to focus more on core strength training.

Forearm planking is definitely a good way to engage and strengthen my core. Planks have been proven to help with and alleviate lower back pain. Back pain is something I suffer from since I sit down at my desk the majority of the day. Aside from assisting with alleviating back pain, planking tones your abdominal muscles. This is something all of us women who have bore children can benefit from. This is a exercise that should be done routinely and often, if not daily.

Plank when you wake up. A few minutes while watching television. Plank before bed. For my morning meditation I am going to wake up and set a timer to plank for at least 5 minutes starting out. When mediating you are already focusing and quieting your mind to align with you body. I truly believe that planking will add great value to my meditation practice. Starting off my day with a good workout, and warming up my muscles for the day ahead.

What are your goals for this month? Please share in the comments and let’s hold each other accountable.

-Erica ❤

How to Reduce Your Weight Effectively

Are you looking to lose weight? Has your progress flatlined? If your goal is to reduce your weight effectively here are a few recommendations that I suggest you incorporate in your routine:

  1. Workout Variety- Do not allow your body to get use to the same old routine. Mixing up your intensity, duration, and workout type will shock your body into weight loss. If you are not already, combine both cardio and strength training in your routine.
  2. Strength Training- Incorporating strength training with free weights into your routine will encourage weight loss. Remember: the more muscle you have in total body mass will allow you to burn more calories in your workout.
  3. Sleep- Be sure that you are getting an adequate amount of sleep daily. People that are sleep deprived often have a harder time at losing weight and often weigh more, compared to those who eat the same diet but receive adequate sleep. When your body lacks sleep it “over” produces the following hormones: leptin and ghrelin which signals hunger pains.
  4. Nutrition- Exercise and diet together work to improve your health on the inside and out. Physical activity works to reduce your risks of disease (heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, etc.). Balanced nutrition assists with improving your health (heart health, brain health, energy levels, and weight control).
  5. Recovery- Although, you may be addicted the results you are seeing from working out, do not forget the importance of “rest days.” Your body and muscles need time to repair and this occurs when you are sleeping. While asleep you produce the most growth hormone; further assisting with burning fat and building muscles. Overtime building more muscle results in increased strength which further encourages weight loss.

FLWE ❤

Build Good Fitness Habits: What is the Optimal Amount of Exercise per week?

As you start out on your fitness journey you may be unsure of exactly where to start when it comes to exercising. You may wonder how often you should be exercising, to what extent, and what type of workout you should be doing.

The answers to these type of questions differ from person to person. Which means you need to assess your personal fitness goals and ability in order to build good fitness habits custom for you.

Cardio vs Strength Training

If you are seeking to improve your cardiovascular health it is recommended that you select exercises that include cardio. Examples include: cycling, swimming, walking, and jogging. These cardio exercises will assist in building your endurance.

If you are seeking to build muscle it is recommended that you focus on strength training. Strength training can be done with the use of your own body weight and/or the use of free weights.

How often should you work out each week?

The answer to this question depends on your activity level. If you are not moderately active, working out at a minimum of one day a week may be sufficient enough to notice some results. However, if you are active it may require working out multiple days per week in order to challenge your body enough to maintain and/or make progress.

If you are a beginner I recommend that you start out slow; workout one day a week for a minimum of 30 min and build your momentum. Each week increasing your time and then you can work up to adding an additional day of training (2-3 days per week).

For more experienced individuals looking to workout and balance both cardio and strength training; working out five days per week is sufficient in maintaining active. However, it is encouraged to incorporate at least two rest days.

Always consider your schedule and have reasonable expectations for yourself. If 4 days per week is more ideal, then be realistic. Reconsider your goals. If your goal is to add muscle, then replace a cardio day for strength training. If your goal is to increase endurance, replace a strength training day with cardio. You have the ability and control over your workout schedule; make adjustments as needed. Keeping realistic expectations, will keep you on target for success. Ultimately, unrealistic goals will lead to failure.

Cardio (2-3 Times per Week)

Benefits: Cardio encourages good circulation and blood flow. Cardio also assists with your recovery, while improving your endurance.

Exercise Options: outdoor jogging, elliptical, treadmill, stair stepper, cycling, row machine, etc.

Goal: Reach and maintain your targeted heart rate (fat burning zone)

Strength Training (2-3 Times per Week)

Benefits: Strengthens joints and bones (more muscle = higher metabolic rate)

Exercise Options: squats, lunges, bicep curls, overhead presses, etc. (strength train with body weight or assisted/free weights)

Goal: Body shaping, gain muscle, weight loss, improve flexibility

Rest Day- Recovery (2 Times per Week)

The importance of having rest days is allowing your body to recover and rebuild. By doing so you are allowing yourself to reset and refresh, which contributes greatly to your success in building good fitness habits.

I am encouraging you to start building good fitness habits today. It all starts with getting active. Share below in the comments some fitness habits that you have incorporated into your routine. What does your daily/weekly workouts consist of? What keeps you motivated to keep moving? I would love to hear from you.

FLWE ❤