PIIT 28 Begins Today!

Hey guys!

Well, I took a longer break from blogging than I’d originally planned. Taking care of a newborn is hard! But so worth it. So rewarding. And lots of the time, so fun. I mean, look at this girl. She’s absolute perfection. I’m 100% smitten with Scarlett and can’t believe this little angel baby is mine.

She's started smiling! Getting a little grin from Scarlett is the most precious thing in the world.
She’s started smiling! Getting a little grin from Scarlett is the most precious thing in the world.

I’m going to go back and post more in detail about what I’ve been doing as far as postpartum recovery, but here’s the short version. I’ve given myself these 2 months to rest up, heal up, eat a bit of junk and comfort food on tough days, and focus on adjusting to life with a new baby. It’s been a good call. Even with this relaxed approach, I’ve lost 21 lbs of the 32 lbs I put on during pregnancy. Woot!

I started easing into some of the gentler workout DVDs I own once my postpartum bleeding stopped and I felt up to trying exercise. That was also a good call. Beginning gradually has helped me rebuild enough strength and cardio to feel ready to start pushing and challenging myself again. And I’ve decided to do that with the program PIIT 28.

If you aren’t familiar with Blogilates, you should be. I discovered Blogilates on YouTube back in college and have been a big fan of Cassey Ho ever since. She has been creating free pilates workout videos for years now, and they are NO JOKE! Some of my favorite short Blogilates workouts include the Ultimate 2016 Abs Workout, Victoria Secret Angel Arms, 5 Best Ab Exercises, and Perky Butt & Long Lean Legs.

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Throughout training for races and doing other fitness DVD sets in the past, I’ve regularly tacked on Cassey’s short videos to get extra toning work in, especially on my abs. Cassey has such a fun, bright personality. I always feel happier after doing a little workout with her, even though they are CRAZY intense.

I also have tremendous respect for Cassey for being open about her own past with disordered eating and exercise. Even more than the quality of her workouts, I love her powerful message that living a healthy life is about how you FEEL more than how you look. She’s a strong voice for what I feel is truly healthy living, and her attitude about truly  taking care of yourself instead of caring only about being skinny helps keep my head in the right place as I strive to stay recovered from all my past demons. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Cassey has been a powerful force over the years as I’ve gotten better and STAYED better from disordered eating. In fact, her post just today was a great reminder to me as I set out on this journey to not get too fixated on the number on the scale.

So imagine how happy I was this week when I was Googling around trying to pick a workout plan to commit to and found that she’s created her own complete 8-week plan! It’s called PIIT 28.

PIIT 28

 

 

In a nutshell, PIIT 28 is a combo of pilates and HIIT training. This is perfect for me as I’m hoping to blast away some remaining pregnancy weight and tone up my core. I actually feel really good about my current weight and appearance in light of being just 8 weeks postpartum, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I want to see the number on the scale slide back down to my pre-pregnancy norm. As of today I’m 11 pounds away from my pre-Scarlett weight, and I think PIIT 28 will be a fun way to help me get closer to that goal as well as just get stronger all around.

 

Another part of why PIIT 28 looks like it’ll be a great fit for me is that it’s just 28 minutes a day. Honestly, with a baby even that much time can be hard to fit in! But it’s doable. If I shot for hour-long workouts or more, they’d never happen. But a short, tough, efficient 28 minutes 6x a week is totally something I can commit to. Also, it was just $39.00 for the 8-week program. That’s a steal in my mind—even on my married-to-a-grad-student budget, that’s something I could make work. Cassey has also created meal plans to go with the workouts, but I’m not using them for now. I’m sure they’re great, but I’m in a good groove with my eating and know I tend to get in trouble if I get too rigid about my nutrition.

 

I took before pics. Posting pictures of myself in nothing but a sports bra online made me uncomfortable, so I went for a really fitted Nike Pro tee instead. Haha. But I’m hoping that my after pics can show it get a little looser as I lean out and tighten up. So anyway. Here I am at 158.0 pounds and 23.9% body fat on November 20, 2016.

So. I’ll be posting my review of the program once I finish as well as little updates on how I’m doing all the way along. Also, if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see daily #piitstagram posts that are part of PIIT 28. Along with the daily workouts, Cassey has included an Instagram challenge with a fun prompt for each day, so I’ll be doing that along with the workouts.

Wish me luck! I’m really excited about this!

 

Easy Freezer Meals: Your New BFF

Today I’m going to introduce you to your new best strategy for eating healthier, saving money, and spending less time in the kitchen: an arsenal of easy freezer meals. Make-ahead, freezer-friendly versions of my favorite recipes are my go-to way to feed my family.

I started freezer mealing about three years ago. A few weeks before having my second baby,  Aurora, I read online somewhere that it’d be a good idea to make a few freezer meals. That way, I’d have easy, healthy options I could pop right into the oven or crockpot, even during the craziness of having a newborn to care for. Remembering my days of eating fistfuls of dry Captain Crunch and calling it a meal after my first daughter arrived, I decided this was a good idea.

So I hit Pinterest for some recipes and made about a month’s worth of easy freezer meals. We ate them in those first few weeks after Rorie came, and it dramatically changed my postpartum recovery/first weeks with a newborn stage. Being able to sit down and eat at least one filling, healthy, balanced meal each day was a huge game-changer for me, physically and emotionally. I decided I liked freezer meals so much that I was going to keep doing them every single month. Now my Rorie is almost 3, and I’m still doing a batch of freezer meals each month for my family’s dinners. 🙂

easy freezer meals help you big time with a newborn
Freezer meals helped me have enough time to take good care of myself physically AND snuggle this little munchkin plenty in her first days and weeks home from the hospital.

Here are 3 reasons why freezer meals work so well for me and my family. Freezer meals are awesome and will seriously change your life!

1. Freezer Meals Save You a Ton of Time.

 It’s true that making a monthly batch of freezer meals takes some planning and time. But think about how much time you spend DAILY trying to not only figure out what to make for dinner but then actually making it. While freezer meals require a time investment up front, I guarantee that the TOTAL amount of time you’ll spend in the kitchen if you freezer meal will be dramatically less than if you stick to making dinner each night.

It takes me about 8 hours total in the kitchen (including washing, chopping, cooking, assembling, then cleaning my kitchen afterwards) to make a month’s worth of easy freezer meals. Think of how long you spend daily to make and then clean up after yourself each night at dinnertime. Unless making dinner = bringing home Little Caesar’s by your definition, I am sure you spend a lot more than 8 hours each month in the kitchen! Whether you’re working full time, going to school, are a parent with a whole house to feed, or some combination of all of the above, freezer meals can save you time so you can focus on other things.

2. Freezer Meals Save You a Ton of Money.

I was amazed at how much money we began saving once we switched from regular dinners to freezer meals. We feed our family of four on about $400 a month, which is pretty darn conservative for 2016. This article from USA Today a few years ago states that the average family of 4 can live on $146 to $289 per week spent on food. It’s satisfying to know that my family eats really, really well on so much lower than the national average spent on monthly groceries.

How do freezer meals save you so much money, though? I think it’s because without a dinner to worry about every night, I go to the grocery store a lot less often than I used to. I make one big shopping trip at the start of each month to buy all the freezer meal ingredients, and after that I can usually keep myself to one weekly grocery run to restock on fresh things like milk, eggs, and produce. Fewer grocery store trips = less spending.

Aurora McConkie
Less money spent on food each month means more money to spend on other things. After months of saving, this April we took our kids to Disneyland. Here’s my Aurora meeting Princess Aurora. Best picture EVER, right? And this magical trip was possible largely because of how relatively little we spend on groceries.

Another factor in why freezer meals help your wallet is that we waste so much less food. I portion out my freezer meals to be about as much as my family will eat in one sitting. We rarely have leftovers, and every last bite gets eaten. That feels good both in terms of my budget and from an ethical standpoint. Knowing how many people in the world go hungry, it’s nice that my family rarely throws away food.

3. Freezer Meals Can Help You Eat More Healthily.

I find I’m most likely to overeat at night, when I’m tired and sometimes stressed from all I had to do during the day. It’s easy to mindlessly dig in for seconds at dinnertime even when I’m not truly hungry. But portioning out freezer meals into amounts that will feed my family but not leave us with tons of leftovers means there’s not always the option of piling up a second heaping plate, even if that might have been my impulse otherwise.

This has also helped me in recovering from bingeing. On some late nights, having a half-pan of delicious pasta in my fridge to dive into would be tough to negotiate healthily. Not having big amounts of leftovers in my fridge at any given time helps me steer clear of binges on weak days where my head isn’t where it should be. This isn’t a benefit I would have foreseen to freezer mealing, but it’s a huge plus in my mind.

But Freezer Cooking Sounds HARD!

Here’s the thing: if I can figure out freezer meals, so can you. I’m just an ordinary person with no particular culinary inclination or talent who did something repeatedly enough that I got really good at it. Try it out and you’ll find the same happens for you after a month or two. You don’t need to be some domestic goddess or organization freak to do freezer mealing well. I, for one, am definitely neither.

I’ll admit, though, that when I began making freezer meals, I was VERY grateful for Pinterest and other people’s blogs. There are SO many freezer meal recipes out there! If you aren’t yet a freezer meal pro, the Internet is full of people who are and whose sites are full of recipes and ideas to help you along.

 

Anne Taintor
Ha! Yeah, I’m not this lady. I make freezer meals BECAUSE I am not this lady, in fact.

 

And if you’re intimidated by the thought of making a mass batch of meals that could last you 4–6 weeks, start smaller. Freezer mealing isn’t an all-or-nothing thing. Maybe you can make one freezer-friendly recipe a month to have on hand for especially hectic nights rather than making a mass-batch of five or six recipes like I do. Or maybe you do 3 recipes a month so that half of your meals are freezer ones while you make dinner the other half of the time. As time goes on, you can find your own rhythm of how freezer mealing works best for your situation.

Introducing Freezer Meal Fridays

There’s a lot of great stuff out there when it comes to easy freezer meals. But over the past few years of my freezer cooking experience, I’ve weeded out some of the meh recipes and found a few dozen that are outstanding, both in taste and nutritional quality. Some are recipes I’ve found online through Pinterest or other bloggers, some are recipes I’ve found online and then tweaked to make even healthier or yummier, and some are variations on recipes my mom made for my family when I was growing up. And I want to share these recipes with you! So this week I’m beginning my Freezer Meal Fridays series here on the blog and on Pinterest.

freezer meals
Freeze-Ahead Cafe Rio-Style Pork Burritos

 

freeze ahead pumpkin pancakes
Freeze-Ahead Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes

 

korean beef easy freezer meal
Freeze-Ahead Korean Beef, Broccoli & Quinoa

Every Friday for the next several months I’ll post a freezer meal recipe I use and love, along with pictures, detailed instructions, and nutritional data for you guys. I get asked for my freezer meal recipes a LOT by family and friends, so I’m excited to put them out there both for them as well as for anyone else who’s interested in giving healthy, delicious, time-saving and money-saving freezer meals a go.

Now, here’s a disclaimer. I blog about healthy eating, yes, but the meals I make aren’t paleo, “clean,” Whole 30, or any other real label like that. I’m just shooting for balanced and healthy. I try to incorporate whole grains, lean-ish protein, and fruits and veggies in each meal I feed my family. Overall, the meals I make are a balance of pretty healthy, pretty cheap, pretty yummy stuff. And most of all, these are EASY freezer meals, because I’m not a professionally trained gourmet chef. Sure, they may take a little time to put together, but none of the steps are complicated, and none of the ingredients I use are difficult to find. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

See you Friday! 🙂

How have freezer meals changed YOUR life? Let me know in the comments!