Family, Fitness, RD Advice

The Kick-in-the-pants that you just might need

I have a bit to say this morning about inspiration, dedication and pushing through in order to better your health. WARNING: you may commit to lifestyle changes after this post!

When I was in the US for a month, I spent family time with my in-laws who are living in India for 5 years, also working with Mennonite Central Committee.

Gordon and Carol are the most giving people I have ever met. What I mean by this is that they give 100% of themselves to other people. They are wonderful hosts who enjoy the presence of their guests. They are caring servants that devote themselves to their field of work and being the hands and feet of God. They are tireless and always have time to talk when you need to. They are great people and wonderful in-laws.



However, both of them decided that they needed to take time for themselves and their health. I don’t know if they both started on the same day or who encouraged who, but around this past April, they both started walking on their treadmill. In addition, they started eating smaller portions, and more fruits and vegetables.

When I heard about the habits that they were incorporating into their lives I was so happy for them. Gordon was getting up at least an hour early in the morning and walking while he watched TV. Carol was leaving work on time (instead of later) and walking in the evenings before dinner. They told me that after they built up endurance they would go farther and turn up the speed. Carol was keeping track of her weight and kilometers that she walked every day. And when I saw them at the airport I could see that their hard work had paid off. Again, so happy for these guys! They are still walking and sticking to sustainable eating habits that help them manage their health –  yeah!

I get over-the-top excited whenever I hear stories like these and see people change their lives for the better. My in-laws are an inspiration. They may not know this before reading this post, but these days, whenever my alarm goes off in the morning and I contemplate turning it off in order to sleep more instead of working out, I think of them. I think about their dedication to their health and I remember that I made that promise to myself as well. So I roll out of bed, find my clothes, put on my shoes and get to it. I am absolutely nowhere near perfect, I go in and out of periods of my life when I maybe get in 3 workouts a week, maybe. And I also do not have time to spend an hour working out every day. Some days, like this morning, I have 20 minutes, other days I have an hour and a half. I work with what I have and feel good about whatever I accomplish.

While I realize that setting your mind to it and changing your routine and eating style is daunting and difficult, it is possible. No matter your age, fitness level, time constraints, etc. your current and future health deserve it. Emphasis on future health. Health issues don’t occur overnight, they take years to develop. Obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, etc. These are serious things folks and there is no better time than your right now to make sure you are doing all you can to prevent them. Okay, not meaning to scare anyone – but please, don’t set yourself up for this in the future!


And, if you are wondering, “what will these changes do for me at this point in my life?” well let me give you some helpful reading material:

1. Whatever Your Age, Exercise is Essential

2. Healthy Living/Exercise and Fitness as you Age

If you are also thinking, “well I really don’t have that much time so I should just wait until I can be 100% devoted,” here’s a little more to give you that kick in the pants:

Lastly, if you are saying, “Meghan, I don’t have a gym nearby or I hate working out in front of others or I have no exercise equipment,” check out these great sites for at-home workout inspiration.

There is no great way to say this but….we all have 15-20 minutes a day to spare, no excuses, you can do it!

So, are you ready? Keep me in the loop if you are starting an exercise plan or need some extra motivation or ideas! You got this!

~The Optimist


Becoming an at-home workout pro!

Hey guys,

When I realized that we would be moving overseas, my mind went into full preparation mode. Where should we put our stuff, our car, our kitty, how will it all get done in time? For the first week I was fairly high stress as I typed up an email to send to all of our family with the good news and asked various friends and family to help us out by watching our bed and other furniture while we were gone for two years. But as I have said before in other posts, Zach and I were very blessed throughout this entire process. In less than a month we had most of our details taken care of and my mind moved on to other moving details…

1. What type of food is in Lebanon, is it healthy, are there fruits and vegetables or do they mostly eat bread and cheese?

2. Where will I work out?

Food and exercise are ways that I feed my physical, mental, and emotional self. I know me, and I know that in order for me to love who and what I am I need time for both of these things in my life. And after reading the book, “Food and Faith: Justice, Joy, and Daily Bread” for an undergraduate class during my senior year of college, I also realized that the entire food process, shopping, prepping, cooking, eating, and yes, even cleaning up can be a time for me to connect with God and thank him for the daily bread that he provides to me and my family.

So, the next most important thing to me to do was research Lebanese cuisine, grocery stores and gyms in the area. I quickly found that Lebanese cuisine is very fresh, although can sometimes be heavy on bread and cheese (but all cuisines can do this as well). And because Beirut is such a large city, I can find any ingredient that I want (for the most part) plus a plethora of very fresh fruits and vegetables. Good food? Check!


Lebanese Fattoush salad with a scoop of tuna salad on top for protein. Homemade after I had it in a restaurant and loved the dish! The first of my tries at traditional Lebanese dishes!

Gym memberships in Beirut are crazy expensive. Because of this, I decided not to dip into my personal savings for this indulgence, and instead figured that I would find ways to exercise without a gym. I knew that this would be hard for me though, I have belonged to a gym since I graduated high school. I love being surrounded by others with similar goals, I love going to group fitness classes (Spin class I miss you already), I like having all the free weights and cardio machines at my disposal, and I would say that going to the gym is my hobby.

So what have I found instead of a gym?


I know I am behind the times with this great resource, mostly because I have always had a gym membership, but this girl is great! I look for her 45 minute+ workouts because while I like the practice of yoga, I feel that if my yoga workout is 30 minutes or less it isn’t really challenging to me. But maybe I haven’t gotten to the hard stuff yetSmile

  • Track workouts

Courtesy of Zach who was a GREAT track and cross country runner in high school. I have only done one of these with him but will post more track workout ideas at a later date, I promise!

  • Distance running workouts

Steady state runs along the Corniche=awesome! I am sure that Zach and I will sign up for a half marathon or something here in Beirut. Not sure what/when at this time but it is nice to have something to train for!

  • Resistance band workouts


My resistance bands, jump rope, and tank top that I had to shed after a crazy resistance band and HIIT workout.

I’m never really looking to bulk up but I like to keep good tone and definition, especially in my arms. Resistance bands are great to help with this and they weigh so little that I was able to bring three different types over from the states. You can also do tons of things with resistance bands, its great!

  • Multiple blogger-inspired at-home workouts

I definitely have a couple of favorite places to go for these at-home workouts. PB Fingers and The Fitnessista. The bloggers are certified in personal training and they are full time bloggers and moms. Naturally they have a lot of good and free at-home workouts to do. I typically will choose a workout and adjust it to my personal needs. Here are two that I did this week and plan to do next week to see if I can do more rounds with less rests:

10-1 Bodyweight Workout. I spiced this up a bit with intervals of jump rope and a resistance band arm workout half way through.

Cardio-Killer HIIT Workout: My plan was to do this 3x through but I only made it through 2x and had to pause for many breaks! Crazy hard and crazy good!

This was the first week that I wrote out a meal plan AND a workout plan (note that the meal plan for this week is vegetarian!). Its going okay, but I have had to switch up the schedule of things a bit because right now I am sitting at home with body aches and a feverSad smile I don’t think I will get to today’s workout which was supposed to be a track workout because I skipped my Thursday workout:/ Oh well, right? If I was perfect at working out there would be no motivation to be better. I’ll try harder next weekSmile


My scrappy meal and workout plans. Whatever works, right?

It was nice to chat with you all! From the swing of things here it seems as though I will probably post once a week now instead of every day. See you all next week!

~The Optimist

Question of the week: What activities in life are a must-have for you to feel fulfilled, happy, and healthy?


Lower Body Burn Workout

Hey all, I have some good news! I was able to give my resignation at work! And the best thing is that they are super supportive and happy for me, however a little bit sad. I was the first full time dietitian in their clinic and they really enjoyed having me around. This was a great job in my opinion, perfect for my first role as a RD, I couldn’t have found anything better.

I’m coming at you today with a lower body burn workout. Last week I did 5 days at the gym, which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but trust me, it had been a while since I did 5. I feel sore still today but proud of myself. One of the reasons that I am a little sore is because of this leg workout that I made and performed on Sunday. I paired this is 30 minutes of steady cardio on the elliptical and my favorite ab workout right after it. I think I will repeat this in the future, it was so simple, required minimal equipment, and is easy to remember. I hope you enjoy!

Lower Body Burn 2

  • Weighted squat with a dumbbell:

Image result for how to do weighted squat with dumbbell

  • Bulgarian Split lunge:

Image result for how to do a bulgarian split lunge

  • Curtsy lunge:

Image result for how to do a curtsy lunge


  • Bent leg donkey kicks:Image result for how to do kneeling bent leg lifts
  • Straight leg donkey kicks:

Image result for how to do kneeling bent leg lifts

  • Fire hydrants:

Image result for how to do a fire hydrant

Fitness, Uncategorized

Lesson learned: Be kind to yourself

First, some favorites for you all:

A skype date with Zach:

Zach skype

Dinner and a Greek Yogurt Bar with Friends:

yasso bar

My morning smoothie and Morning Glory muffin (not pictured because it goes into my mouth right after I microwave it!):

breakfast smoothie

Smoothie ingredients: 1/2 ripe avocado, 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, 3/4 cup milk, 1 banana, large handful of kale

I am polishing off this post this morning after trying out a morning workout. No wait, I am actually writing this post at 6:25 am in my bed because I did not go to the gym this morning. Am I disappointed with myself? Hmm, maybe a tad. But I kind of had a revelation last night when I set my alarm for 5 am. “Why am I doing this?” Yep, that was pretty much it!

See, I have been comparing myself to other food and fitness bloggers. I have read that some wake up at crazy early hours of the day and go to the gym.  I was going to do the same because I was starting to feel like my efforts were not good enough and that I needed to get really fit, really devoted, really fast. But I want you to all know something, I am currently a fit, happy, and healthy person…and I don’t get up at 4 am every morning and spend 2 hours at the gym. I typically have a range of how many days I workout each week (3-5) and it changes depending on the other important activities in my life. Do I realize the importance of physical activity along with a healthy diet, yes, of course. And ideally I would love to be able to have enough me time to go to the gym 6 days each week. BUT…I also know that we go through different stages in our life when other priorities like your family, your friends, your job, your sleep (yes!!!) all take precedence before dragging your butt to the gym. I also know that many of the people that I read about going to the gym almost every day of the week are in love with their workouts and wouldn’t have it any other way. I know that I could do better, and I am trying, but that doesn’t mean that what I am currently doing is not good enough or noteworthy. Lesson learned: Be kind to yourself, realize that life is full and take a break when you need it. I don’t know who will get the better benefit from reading that, you or meSmile

I did spin class on Monday night and sweated through all of my clothing (per usual). Spin is still my favorite workout, I’m a sucker for someone yelling at me and blasting loud pop music while I ride. If the instructor is good, they choose songs that make me keep pace (I pedal to the beat!) and work really hard. I also love feeling a bit sore the next day.

For this afternoon’s workout, I will be doing free weights and focusing on my arms, back, and abs. Tomorrow I will do legs and cardio. I feel like spin (if you make sure you are pushing yourself during every class) works my legs a bit. I don’t want to make myself too sore that I end up taking unnecessary days off at the gym. While I may add in a few extra movements, here is the plan for this evening:

Awesome Arms.jpg

Arm Exercise How Many
Side fly 12-15 times, 3 sets
Front fly 12-15 times, 3 sets
Hammer curl 12-15 times, 3 sets
Tricep extension 12-15times, 3 sets
Dip 20, 15, 10
Seated dumbbell row 12 times, 3 sets
Assisted pull-up 12 times, 3 sets


Directions: Perform each exercise 1x through and then start over and perform each 2x, then 3x, continue until you do 10x through for each exercise
1 crunch
1 toe touch
1 leg lift
1 Russian twist