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How to Maintain a Healthy Relationship with Sweets and Treats

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Avoiding sweets is important in order to maintain a healthy diet, but is avoiding them entirely realistic in your everyday life? For some, maybe—but for lots of people, it doesn’t make sense to plan on completely avoiding treats as a lifestyle. With Valentine’s Day—the unofficial holiday dedicated to chocolate—around the corner, sweets and treats will be hard to avoid. If you’re struggling to maintain a healthy relationship with sweets, you’re not alone. Read on for tips on how to moderate, avoid temptation and stay motivated while making healthy happen.

Find Ways to Indulge without Getting Off Track

Unless you’ve got Olympian-level willpower (congrats to you if you do!!), chances are you will find yourself indulging from time to time—despite your best efforts to consistently make healthy happen. That’s okay! Figuring out how to indulge intelligently without ruining your healthy habits is the key to finding dietary balance. When you maintain a healthy relationship with sweets, remember that not all indulgences will be avoided. If there are certain occasions you’re anticipating, and you know you’ll be tempted—plan for it! Whether that means reserving calorie intake for the special occasion or adding in an extra workout during the week, proactively planning for deviations from your typical diet can help you stay on track.

Don’t get discouraged if you succumb to the sweet stuff. It’s going to happen! Just remember that each new day is a chance to build better habits and make healthy happen. Try and pinpoint your moments of sweets-related weakness to understand if there are common themes to help you avoid those pitfalls in the future. If walking past the breakroom at work leads to mindless snacking, take the extra steps and find a new route! Or maybe late-night snacking is your kryptonite. Try brushing your teeth after dinner and send a message to your internal snack monster that the kitchen is closed for the night.

Satisfy Cravings with Better-for-You Alternatives

We get it, sometimes you just want the real deal—but when you’re willing to go for the next-best-thing, there are plenty of swaps that will satisfy your cravings. You may be pleasantly surprised that the imposter desserts make for a deliciously sweet alternative.

–7 low-calorie desserts we love

–Healthy Chocolate Covered Strawberries

–Two-Ingredient Peanut Butter “Ice Cream”

–Almond Date Truffles

–Raw Sandwich Cookies

Keep Your Goals in Mind

Are you trying to lose weight? Or maybe you want more energy in your day-to-day life. Whatever your goal is, use it to power through moments of temptation. In order to maintain a healthy relationship with sweets, stay centered with your goal in mind. Making healthy happen isn’t about hitting a number on a scale or fitting into a beloved pair of jeans, it’s about making healthy choices that enable you to get the most out of life.

Do you have a friend who is also striving to make healthy happen? Keep each other accountable and work together to stay on track! There’s power in numbers when it comes to making positive choices to encourage a healthy lifestyle.

Focus on the Big Picture

Instead of getting bogged down in the details of your daily life, remember that creating a healthy lifestyle isn’t about one particular habit, it’s about making healthy happen in all areas of your life. The wonderful thing about positive choices is the halo effect they have on your life in total. When you make one healthy decision, the next becomes easier to make, as well. Look at the forest, not the trees when making healthy happen!

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4 Gym Phrases You’ve Heard and Don’t Understand, Explained

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Joining any new type of community often comes with a learning curve. If you’ve scratched your head when hearing any of these wacky gym phrases for the first time, you’re not alone. And the good news is that each term listed has a very useful place in your coaching routine. Read on and get equipped!

Tabata

“Sounds like we’re bringing back elementary music class”

What it is: A Tabata style workout is a combination of timed workout and timed rest. Your coach may have you hold a squat for 30 seconds and rest for 15 seconds. You’d complete this maybe six times before moving to the next exercise of work and rest.

Why it’s effective: Tabata workouts are great if you’d like to fit in a hard workout in a short amount of time. They get the job done! While an effective form of conditioning, they also present a new challenge where you don’t have to count repetitions but rely on endurance to keep moving through each time block.

Kettlebell

“Are we drinking tea with my training?”

What it is: The kettlebell is a cast iron or steel ball with a handle attached to the top. With it, you can perform exercises that combine cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility training.

Why it’s effective: Incorporating kettlebell training into your lifting routine will help you move better, increase your  strength, and improve cardiovascular endurance. Every movement recruits multiple muscle groups so you get a lot done in each one. Plus, the exercises are fun to try and master.

HIIT Training

 “HIIT me with what? This sounds dangerous?”

What it is: HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training.  A HIIT workout isn’t set to one regular routine, but usually includes consistent movement with high intensity bursts and less intense recovery exercises in between.

Why it’s effective: HIIT workouts are challenging and they are versatile. You can apply this type of activity to any area with limited equipment. So it eliminates boredom and is very satisfying to finish!

Body Scan

“What on my body do you need to scan? Why do I feel uncomfortable?”

What it is: Your club coaching program may include use of a Body Scanning device or BIA machine. It’s an easy process and is completely pain free. Step on (fully clothed just bare feet!) and you recieve a detailed analysis of your body composition including weight, muscle, and fat mass.

Why it’s effective: Body scanning takes out the guess work on if your routine is delivering the results you want.

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Nutrition

The Only Protein Bar Taste Test You Need to Read

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If there’s one thing we know to be true, it’s that all protein bars are not created equal. When they’re good—they’re oh-so-tasty, but when they’re bad—they’re terrible. In addition to being hit or miss, protein bars are sought after in a pinch which is why it’s important to know which bars you should add to your cart before your blood sugar hits an all-time low.

Whether you reach for a protein bar before your workout or like to keep them in your work bag for days when you’ve forgotten lunch, you’ll need to be prepared at the store. From delightful to mealy and everything in between, our editors took the first bite so you don’t have to. Our protein bar taste test is here to take the guesswork out of your protein bar selection in hopes you’ll avoid spit-takes and money down the drain.

The lineup:

Pure Protein Bar – Chocolate Deluxe

Oatmega – Chocolate Coconut

Tone It Up Plant-Based Protein Bites – Snickerdoodle

Clif Builder’s Protein – Crunchy Peanut Butter

The Complete Cookie – Snickerdoodle

Quest – Cookies & Cream

Munk Pack Protein Cookie – Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

Pure Protein Bar

Taste: 4/5

Texture: 5/5

Calories: 180

Protein: 21g

Sugar: 3g

If you are a lover of fudge, you’re going to want to keep a box of these protein bars stashed away. Fudgy and decadent, this bar was surprisingly delightful without feeling too thick or overindulgent. Unlike some protein bars, there wasn’t a heavy protein powder aftertaste—which is no small feat for a protein bar. We scored these bars at a 4/5 for taste only because the chocolate flavor, while tasty, didn’t have as much depth as gusto as you’d hope for given the rich and chewy texture.

Oatmega

Taste: 4/5

Texture: 4/5

Calories: 200

Protein: 14g

Sugar: 5g

Traditional protein bar, this is not. But that’s not a bad thing! Imagine if a granola bar and a protein bar made a delicious protein bar baby—you’re looking at an Oatmega protein bar. Oatmega prides themselves on their whey protein sourced from grass-fed cows in New Zealand and you can taste why. The protein flavor is faint, and when it does hit—it’s not overwhelming with chemical notes in the way many classical protein powders are. While we’d love to give it five stars all around, the granola-esque texture is slightly gritty and neither the coconut nor the chocolate flavors stand out like you’d expect. Oatmega makes up for that with their partnership with No Kid Hungry in working to end childhood hunger.

Tone It Up Plant-Based Protein Bites

Taste: 3/5

Texture: 3/5

Calories: 150

Protein: 9g

Sugar: 6g

In a word, underwhelming. These protein bites aren’t necessarily bad, but they’re certainly not certifiably good either. Their texture is a forgettable blend of dry and crumbly and the promise of snickerdoodle flavor falls short. It’s not all bad though! While their flavor isn’t strong, neither is the protein powder aftertaste. But if you’re looking for a protein-packed snack, don’t grab for these with only nine grams of protein per serving.

Clif Builder’s Protein

Taste: 5/5

Texture: 5/5

Calories: 270

Protein: 20g

Sugar: 22g

Peanut butter enthusiasts, we’ve found the protein bar for you. This delicious protein snack wavers on the cusp of candy bar territory with its hearty peanut butter center layered in a creamy coating that was neither too thin or too thick. The flavor was outstanding, leaving no artificial aftertaste or an overly processed protein bite. We’d recommend saving this bar for when you need some serious refueling because at 270 calories, this isn’t for the casual snacker. It also swings high on sugar with 22 grams, the highest by far in our lot. All that aside, if taste and sustenance are your highest priorities, look no further than the Clif Builder’s Protein.

The Complete Cookie

Taste: 4/5

Texture: 5/5

Calories: 180

Protein: 8g

Sugar: 15g

Can a cookie make for a good protein bar alternative? Turns out the answer is yes! If you’re expecting a traditional cookie, let us stop you right there. These aren’t your mama’s chocolate chip cookies—but they’re a close relative. They have a surprisingly enjoyable bite and texture with the snickerdoodle cookie reminiscent of a cozy fall-flavored treat. The cookie is rounded out with a warm dusting of cinnamon sugar that gives the cookies a “homemade” nod. The flavor is done well, albeit faint—which is why we’ve given the Complete Cookie four stars for taste. With only eight grams of protein, don’t expect this protein cookie to fill you up completely—but you can count on curbing your hunger in a snap!

Quest

Taste: 1/5

Texture: 2/5

Calories: 200

Protein: 21g

Sugar: 1g

The moment you unwrap a Quest bar, you’re immediately hit with an unnatural smell that can only serve as a flavor foreshadow of what’s to come. Upon taking a bite, the bar does itself no favors with its chalky texture and a chemical, protein powder taste. While most protein bars attempt to keep sugar counts low, the Quest bar does so unapologetically with a very artificially sweetened flavor. Other flavors may taste more authentic, but the Cookies & Cream variety left little to be desired. We recommend skipping this bar, altogether.

Munk Pack Protein Cookie

Taste: 3.5/5

Texture: 5/5

Calories: 360

Protein: 18g

Sugar: 16g

This is a cookie. If Munk Pack wants to tell us it’s a protein cookie, that’s fine, but we are here to tell you this is a cookie. Soft-baked and loaded with chocolate chips and chopped peanuts, we were shocked at how well this protein snack resembled a typical cookie. But despite the homemade texture, it wasn’t entirely a home run. The protein powder notes are pronounced and while it’s full of yummy additions, it still lacks flavor. It’s also a heavy snack at 360 calories, but with 18 grams of protein—it can be a great option for a quick pick-me-up when you don’t have time to sit down for a meal.

Overall, the Clif Protein Builder’s bar far-exceeded our expectations and hit all the right notes with the Pure Protein bar coming in close at number two. What’s your favorite protein bar? Do you agree with our taste test? Sound off in the comments, below!

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Nutrition

7 Ways Frozen Food Can Save You Money and Save Time

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March is National Frozen Food Month and we’re here to change your mind about it! Frozen food doesn’t have to be unhealthy or less flavorful than fresh foods. Just the opposite, actually!  So we’re celebrating with seven awesome ideas on how to save money, save time and make your life easier—but just as healthy—by using your freezer to the fullest.

Prep Freezer Meals for Easy Weeknight Dinners

There is no better feeling than having a meal ready and waiting for you after a long day, but most of us don’t have personal chefs to help make that happen. No worries, the answer to your mealtime mayhem is frozen make-ahead dinners.

Here are a few of our favorite recipes that will help make your weeknight dinners a breeze:

Chicken Tacos

Oven-Baked Chicken Strips

Bacon Turkey Burgers

Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups

Twice-Baked Buffalo Chicken Sweet Potatoes

Buy in Bulk, Freeze the Rest

If you live close enough to a warehouse store like Sam’s Club or Costco, you can save a lot of money by purchasing bulk foods and freezing what you can’t use right away. From butter to bread to ground beef, there are plenty of foods that can be frozen, saving you time at the store and money in your bank account! Here’s a great list of foods you can freeze that might even surprise you!

Buy Meat from Your Local Butcher for the Whole Year

This option is for beef-lovers, only! If you own a deep freezer—you may want to consider buying a whole or partial cow. By purchasing meat from a local butcher, you won’t just save money—you’ll also get more quality beef from a local source you can trust.

Freeze Your Scraps for Stock

After peeling and preparing your vegetables, don’t throw away those tasty scraps! Freeze them, instead! Using a freezer bag, store all your leftover veg and save them until you’re ready to make stock. Sound difficult? It’s not! Making your own stock is pretty simple, check out The Kitchn’s article on how to make vegetable stock here.

Make Your Own Smoothie Blends

Smoothies are a great way to kickstart your morning or fuel up after a great workout. Picking up a smoothie from your favorite spot can get pricey, so why not put your freezer to good use and store smoothie packs instead? By doing a little smoothie prep ahead of time, you’ll have perfectly portioned freezer bags loaded with your favorite mix to throw into your blender in a snap. Add your favorite berries, avocados, leafy greens, bananas—whatever floats your smoothie boat, and add to individual quart-sized freezer bags. When you’re ready to make a smoothie, just add to your blender along with your go-to milk, protein powders or nut butters, too!

Use Your Ice Cube Trays in Unique Ways

Buying fresh herbs can be expensive and letting them go to waste is never fun. The best way to avoid throwing away herbs unnecessarily is by freezing them in olive oil using an ice cube tray! You’ll always have fresh herbs on hand, ready for whatever recipe you decide to make.

Store Make-Ahead Meatballs or Burger Patties

Sure, you can buy store-bought versions of meatballs and burgers—but you can also make your own, ensuring the best taste and saving you money at the same time. By making a big batch ahead of time, you’ll be able to whip up a weeknight dinner in a flash and avoid going through the drive-thru.

What’s your favorite way to make the most of your freezer?

Tell us in the comments, below!

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