Bacon-Garlic Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts. You either love them or hate them. I actually love them. But even a green vegetable avoider may give Brussels sprouts a second look when you pair them with their unlikely-but-perfectly-paired partner: bacon. Also, garlic, because why not. It’s tasty.

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April Challenge & Setting Fitness Goals

When my friend Becky posed the challenge to our Goals group for doing 10 push-ups and 50 sit-ups every day during April, I quickly exclaimed, “I’m in!” As our other friends started to chime in, it quickly became apparent that we were all coming from different backgrounds, from regular exerciser to infrequent exerciser to not being able to do a single push-up.

We’re all doing the same challenge, but with different goals and for different reasons. And that’s okay.

I strain to move barbells that my husband Jesse picks up with one hand. My friend Josh can bench press me (well, my body weight). But I’m still excited when I added just 5 more pounds to do my 40lb bench press, or when I finally did a full 3×12 bicep curl with my new 10lb dumbbells. I may not be the strongest person, but I’m evolving. So I own it!

Set your own goals, and set them for you.

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Setting fitness goals

by exercise type

When my friend said she couldn’t do 10 push-ups, I said – “Sure you can!”  You may need to start with knee push-ups or wall push-ups, but it seems that every type of movement is based on some simpler movement. Start there.

For me, I cannot do a pull-up. So right now in addition to doing some arm work, I have been getting my muscles used to the movement of pulling vertically. I’m doing chair-assisted pull-ups on two legs, and eventually I’ll graduate to one-leg. Then I’ll try to get some momentum to do a pull-up before I can actually start doing a pull-up without any assistance.  The theory is once you get the basic movements down, you can build from there. If you already can do a pull-up, try more advanced movements like wide-grip pull-ups, uneven pull-ups, plyometric pull-ups, and the super-impressive muscle up.  But first, chair-assisted. Crawl before you 5k.

by frequency/commitment

I already know how to do bodyweight squats. In fact, I really enjoy doing squats. My lower-half is stronger than my upper-half, so it feels good to succeed at something and feel its effects.  Do I squat often? Not at all.  This is an area where I can set a goal.  Perhaps for me, it would make sense to do squats every other day. I could set a number goal, or I won’t; the goal here is to make it part of my routine.  Another similar goal is to walk every day during lunch. Some days are busier than others and perhaps instead of walking for a full hour, you only have time to walk around the building a couple times. It still counts, because you’re keeping to your schedule.

by exertion

This category could mean “Are you sweating?” or “You can push it for two more reps/sets!”  I may be walking around the block after work, but I could set a goal to jog it instead, or alternate intervals of walking and sprinting. Last week I was bench-pressing 30-35 pounds, but recently I added 5 more. It felt so good that I added just one more set of five reps just so I can prove to myself that I can do it! Find a way to put more effort into the activity that makes sense for you and your workout.

by adding something different!

For this challenge, I know that I can do 50 crunches and 10 pushups (albeit in 2 sets), and initially I’ll be working towards making it all in one set. But I’m thinking that I want to add more to the challenge. the 50/10 is a baseline, but that I

Incremental Sit-ups/Push-ups

Can’t do a push-up? Try doing a wall push up. Got that down? Try a knee push-up.   After that, you could do an incline push up or go straight to good old-fashioned push-ups!

You can do a push-up, but you want to do more? There’s a way you can do that incrementally too. You can also do incremental improvements for sit-ups.

The 100 push-ups program and the 200 sit-ups program are both six-week training programs to get you to where you are to your goal. You begin with an initial test to see where to start the program, then it walks you through a chart of activity and rest to slowly train your body.

Challenge to You

Join me and my friends as we attempt 10 push-ups and 50 sit-ups every day in April (in whatever way makes sense for where we are fitness-wise)!

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Small Paleo Brunch for Two

A very good friend of mine, Lynz, came over to visit for brunch today, and I wanted to cook up something nice, simple, tasty (and paleo!) for us both. Being a breakfast-cooking novice, simple was key for me.  What’s more breakfast-y than bacon, eggs, pancakes, and fruit?

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Paleo Mug Cakes

One of my paleo mentor friends, Josh, advised me that if I wanted a treat and need to get some calories in, that a mug cake was the way to do it!  Last night, I needed an extra boost, and a very ripe banana was staring at me from my fruit bowl. So I decided to do my research.

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The diets we choose and those that choose us

Hold the lemon. That’s an odd name, isn’t it? Who can’t have lemons? Well, I can’t actually. They’re a food trigger for my migraines. (And for the record, I love lemons). Add to that, I am currently exploring if the paleo lifestyle fits into my life. So this blog right now could actually be easily called “Hold the Lemons, Dairy, Gluten/Grains/Legumes, Added Sugars, Processed Foods, Etc. Etc. Etc.”

It seems that these days, people are more attuned to what they’re putting into their bodies and how it affects them.

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Balsamic Cucumber-Tomato-Onion Salad

Balsamic Cucumber-Tomato Salad | Hold the Lemon

Yesterday, I drove to work in snow flurries. Having spent a major part of my life in non-snowy climates, snowy weather still holds a certain magic for me. This year has been testing that. I’m ready for Spring! So this week, I’ve made myself a light, warmer-weather type salad for my work lunches.

I was getting tired of my regular spinach/onion/mushroom/fruit salads I’ve been bringing to work. At the end of last week, I found myself pushing around the leafy bits to get to the strawberry bits, practically playing with my food! Perhaps all I needed to do was switch out the ingredients. Instead, this week I made a different salad entirely! Who said that salad lunches needed to have leafy things?

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Easy 5 Ingredient Paleo Snack Mix

Easy Paleo 5-Ingredient Snack Mix | Hold the Lemon

I am currently trying out paleo and loving it! I’ll add my voice to the many that say that it just gives me more energy and makes me feel better to be eating cleaner. For those unfamiliar, basically paleo restricts grains, dairy, legumes, processed foods, and added sugars. It’s a bit more complicated than that, and it involves more than just diet.

Every week or so I have been making myself a paleo trail mix snack. I find that having something quick and easy on me at work or while I’m running errands makes paleo more manageable for me. I was trying to make my snack mix in one big batch and divide it among the week, but this time I decided to get precise to one day’s serving.  Here is this week’s mix:

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