Category: Fitness (Page 1 of 2)

Healthy Hashbrowns

If you happen to follow the iEncourage Fitness page over on Facebook then you probably know how obsessed I am with healthy hashbrowns lately. Why am I obsessed? Well, not only are they healthy, but they are so super easy to make and I’m all about an easy go-to recipe! The one I use is adapted from Maria Emmerich’s Quick & Easy Ketogenic Cooking. If you haven’t checked this cookbook out, you should! I’ve posted my version below (and really I just made one minor change to the original by leaving out a seasoning that is just too much in any measurement for my taste).

Healthy Hashbrowns:

2 cups of shredded cabbage
2 eggs
1/4 cup of chopped green onions
Shredded cheese
Grass-fed butter

*Makes 2 servings

Mix cabbage, eggs and onions together in a bowl; heat butter in a skillet over medium heat; measure out 1 cup of mixture and place in skillet, pat down so that it’s somewhat flat; measure out remaining mixture and repeat placing in skillet; cook for 3-4 minutes and then flip and cook for another 3 minutes; sprinkle with shredded cheese and enjoy while they’re warm!

Healthy Hashbrowns

Healthy Hashbrowns

Goal Setting

Goal setting

Let’s talk about goal setting! Do you REALLY know what it means…. what it entails?

I’ll be honest – up until 2, may 2 1/2 years ago, I thought I knew what “goal setting” meant and it was kinda like my idea of “budgeting”. What I mean by that is this: to me it just meant making a list of things I wanted to get done, but it was more like daily, weekly and monthly tasks. You know….. a “to-do” list of sorts. In the time since then, I’ve read some pretty awesome personal development books (I used to be a fiction only reader. What the heck is personal development about anyway, right?!), taken some online courses (AH-MAZING courses, btw) and attended some live events that will knock your socks off. Ooooooh the things I’ve learned! Goal setting is DEFINITELY way more than a “to-do” list, however, a daily “to-do” list plays a big part in goal setting. Your daily “to-do” list should include small, baby steps – actionable items that you can do that don’t take much time, but can make all the difference in the world to what you’re trying to achieve. I’ve found that setting goals broken down in the following form work best for me to make sure that I’m taking the needed steps to get to my big goals and that I don’t get overwhelmed trying to make it all happen at once.

    Shari’s Goal Setting Steps:

1) I start with setting quarterly goals (90 days). What do I want to make sure that I accomplish in 90 days?
2) I then break that down into monthly items that need to get done (you should have 3 – 1 for each month) that will help me reach my 90 day goal
3) I then take each of those 3 months and break them down into weekly items. For example, the month of October has 5 Saturdays in it so I’ll break down my October goal into 5 weekly goals.

So let’s say my 90 day goal is to get more followers over on the iEncourage Fitness Facebook page. My 3 monthly goals to help me get there might be something like this: 1) set up new blog page on website 2) Write weekly blog entry 3) Offer free opt-ins.

Then I would break each of those 3 months down into weekly goals. Those might look something like this when I break down my month 2 goal of writing weekly blog entries: week 1) find my most popular post on FB on make a blog post regarding that same subject week 2) find new content on Google and/or Youtube that I can put my “spin” on and make a blog post about that subject week 3) find pins on Pinterest that can give me new blog post ideas week 4) find images to use on all my new posts!

So see…. it’s really not as overwhelming or as hard as we think it is. Goal setting is about DREAMING BIG and taking small steps to move you forward toward that big dream. It’s a lot easier to do than I thought it was and I’ll bet you’ll feel the same way once you try it yourself.


Kettlebells are an extremely versatile and effective fitness tool, and incorporating kettlebell training into your workout will help you build power, strength, balance, flexibility and endurance. And I can’t forget to tell you that using one can also be a GREAT cardio workout with no impact.

Not sure what a kettlebell is? It looks a lot like a cast iron cannonball with a handle. Like the one in the photo below:



A 30 minute kettlebell workout can deliver the cardio, weighted resistance training and core strengthening (you know that’s more than just your abs, right? (; ) that everyone needs and in a lot less time than what you would typically spend on weight machines or the treadmill. Since most people aren’t sure what to do with or how to use these weights, they generally go unused in gyms.

First-time kettlebell users should consult with a kettlebell-certified trainer or instructor before beginning to workout with these so that they will avoid injury from using dangerous form. If your core is too weak to complete the exercises properly, there’s no benefit gained and your risk of injury is greater.

If you want a GREAT all-over workout with no impact, you should come try out Kettlebell FIT with me at iEncourage Fitness. I’m a kettlebell certified instructor! =)


I began taking a BCAA supplement just under 6 months ago and I did it at the time to help with muscle recovery and endurance since I teach so many classes each week. Recently though, I decided to give intermittent fasting a try and BCAAs are suggested for fasted cardio workouts. Enter a lot of reading to find out just what some of the MOST IMPORTANT BENEFITS are and I thought I would share my findings with you.

You’re probably thinking, “Just what the heck are BCAAs?”, right? Well, BCAA is short for branched-chain amino acids. The three amino acids in this category are leucine, isoleucine and valine. BCAAs are unique partially because of their composition, but also because these amino acids are highly prominent in muscle tissue and are the building blocks of proteins. BCAAs are metabolized differently than other amino acids and can be oxidized in the muscles during exercise for energy. They’re important to muscle function in more ways than one though. Most people ingest BCAAs as a recovery aid and to reduce muscle soreness, like I started out doing. However, taking them before you exercise can slow down the rate at which your muscles fatigue and provide workout intensity.

BCAAs in supplement form (you know, the powder in a container) are free-form, require no digestion and are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. Additionally, since BCAAs bypass the liver and gut and go directly into your blood stream, they can be used as an immediate energy source during your workouts.

I found multiple articles from various sources and they all agree on at least the following 3 benefits, in addition to those I talk about above:

1) BCAAs lower cortisol (stress hormone)
2) BCAAs balance brain chemistry
3) BCAAs help control hunger & cravings

Cortisol is a stress hormone and can increase when you get into an argument, go on a diet, don’t get enough sleep and even when you workout for long periods of time. The main functions of cortisol are to increase blood sugar, suppress the immune system and aid in protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism. When cortisol is released with low levels of HGH and/or high levels of insulin, it causes muscle burning and fat storing and no one wants that! BCAAs have been shown to lower cortisol, balance blood sugar and have the ability to suppress stress induced cravings and blunt hunger.

Taking a BCAA supplement post-workout or between meals can help control your appetite so you experience less cravings so that you don’t binge between meals and will help keep your blood sugar steady. Eating foods that cause rapid increases and then drops in your blood sugar levels can trigger cravings (hello! Let’s stay away from these foods!). Your blood sugar levels can also swing up and down dramatically when you are adjusting to a low carb or Paleo diet and cutting out sugar. These swings can often lead to cravings for sugary foods like cookies and sweets. Taking a BCAA supplement on an empty stomach between meals when you are adapting to these types of diets can keep your blood sugar steady and cravings under control.

So, I believe I’ll stick with taking BCAAs for a while! =)

Check out the photo to see which is my favorite. It tastes like a green apple jolly rancher! =D

BSN Amino X Green Apple

BSN Amino X Green Apple



Hey! Have you heard about the new app called Periscope? You should check it out! It’s live streaming video where you get to interact with the person that you’re watching. They can answer your questions or chat with you while they’re talking. It’s really cool!

If you’d like to check out what I chit-chat about, you can follow me at @encouragefitnss. I cook, whip up quick recipes, talk about challenges and plenty of random things and answer questions at the same time. =D

Iron sharpens iron

Iron sharpens iron

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. ~Proverbs 27:17

Wondering why I’m posting this verse of scripture? Well, it’s because it got me thinking about how far I’ve come in my life and attitude over the past two years and what kind of people have had a hand in me getting here. There are 3 things that I suggest doing in order to move in a more positive direction in your life and I’ve listed each of them below:

1) Surround yourself with positive people. They should be:
– like-minded
– goal oriented
– “pushers” (not just your personal cheerleaders)
– people you can brainstorm with; who get you and your dreams

Also, find mentors – both business and personal.

2) Invest in yourself!
– read personal development books; attend seminars & conferences
– exercise
– stop filling your head with trash tv & video games
– pray!

3) Be a “figure outer”
– you never fail at things; you learn what doesn’t work and you try again
– things CAN and DO get discouraging at times – keep going! Don’t give up!
– Google is your friend

I encourage you to take little baby steps in these areas and you’ll begin to see a difference that you just can’t imagine. =)

We are Temples of the Holy Spirit

Your body is a temple

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.” ~1 Corinthians 6:19-20

So tell me….. doooooo you treat your body as a temple, a Holy place or do you treat it as junk shed? I hope that you’re answer is closer to the Holy temple than the junk shed!

In case it wasn’t though, here are a few things you can do to stop treating your body like a junk shed and more like the temple that it is:

*Regular exercise – do you exercise for at least 30 minutes per day, minimum of 3 days per week?
If not, here’s a tip that may help…. break that 30 minutes up into 10 or 15 minutes at a time instead of the entire 30 minutes all at once.

*Good nutrition – eat fruits, vegetables and lean meats
TIP – You want to cut down and/or stay away from these things:
1) items in boxes or packages when possible (these are not REAL food!)
2) fried foods (eat grilled or baked instead)
3) sodas & sweet tea (these are loaded with sugar and/or artificial ingredients)

Water is the ABSOLUTE BEST OPTION when you’re thirsty!

*Eat food made in nature! Eating processed food (boxes and packages – things that come from factories and aren’t grown in gardens) can lead to high sugar, high blood pressure and other diseases. None of us wants to constantly have to go to the doctor for these illnesses so eat foods that will keep that from happening.

Hope these tips help you get off to a good start on your new journey to healthy!!!

Do squats make your legs and butt bigger?

Muscle groups that are activated with one form of squats

Muscle groups that are activated with one form of squats

“Do squats make your legs and butt bigger?”
“Why do my legs and/or butt seem like they’re getting bigger instead of smaller?”
“I don’t like the way my pants are fitting my legs lately.”
“The scale seems to be going up instead of down since I started (fill in the blank).”

These are just some of the questions and comments that I’ve heard from several of my class participants over the past 6 months or so. Of course, these have come since we started a kettlebell class at the studio and when we’ve previously done squat challenges. I thought I would take this opportunity to explain a little more in depth exactly what’s going on with your physique so you’ll have a better understanding of WHY you should keep going and not stop what you’re doing. =)

Most women tend to get worried when they first start lifting or using weights (or swinging kettlebells) because they start to build muscle before they lose the fat that’s surrounding the muscle. This is not exclusive to the thighs, but it tends to be more noticeable in that area. When a woman begins to notice herself getting bigger, typically the first thing she wants to do is quit whatever workout she thinks is making her that way. Here’s the real deal though – women do NOT get big and bulky without taking some form of hormone to MAKE them bulk up. Women who lift or use weights or swing kettlebells get smaller!

As the body goes through a state of transition, women will typically gain a few pounds, BUT what happens next is exactly what they’re after! That same muscle that’s causing those issues of “seeming bigger” or the scale moving up some is the very same muscle that will start burning double the fat that it previously burned and will help you shed that layer! When you start lifting weights, you’ve GOT to give your body time to transition from fat storing to fat burning and understand that you may have water weight at times. Those muscles will have the fat melting away and it’ll happen even faster if your diet is even half as good as it could be.

Muscle weighs more than fat…. you’ve heard that, right? Well, I’m about to quickly explain how it doesn’t. Are you ready? No matter how you measure, a pound is a pound is a pound is a pound. Got it? Okay, now that we have that out of the way… the difference is that 1 pound of fat is much larger in size than 1 pound of muscle (see the picture below). Muscle is dense and solid whereas fat is more “bloated” or “fluffy” and takes up more room.

5 lbs of fat vs 5 lbs of muscle

5 lbs of fat vs 5 lbs of muscle

A gain in muscle mass is a direct result of your fitness. Many of you have come in for class the day after a hard workout and you’re sore. That soreness is your muscles telling you that they’re in building mode. Muscle soreness is actually caused by hundreds of tiny micro-tears in a muscle that then get rebuilt over the next few days. Though the goal of a workout isn’t to become as sore as possible (or sore at all), this soreness means that your muscles are going to be retaining a higher level of fluid than normal to help repair itself. A big way for our body to aid in the recovery of those muscle groups is by pumping extra fluid into those spots in order to keep them hydrated and functioning properly. Helloooooo, water weight! So when you see the scale move up a little instead of down, especially after a hard workout, remember increased water weight plays a part in the number that you’re seeing.

Give your body time to adjust. You might gain a little weight at first, but in just a few short weeks, you’ll start seeing that more toned, stronger, defined looking body that you’ve been working for. Be patient and hang tight! You’ve got this!

Mother’s Day Giveaway

It’s a Mother’s Day Giveaway!!!

Mother’s Day is right around the corner! Check out the basket full of pampering goodies valued at over $400 that I’m giving away this Friday, May 8th! Want to know what you have to do to enter to win? Keep reading!!!

Here’s what’s included:

30 minute massage from Body Kneads Therapeutic Massage & a back massager (valued at over $30)
$25 gift certificate from Salt & Pepper Accessory Boutique
Bath goodies and chocolate from Fiesta Nutrition Center (valued at $25)
A plush pink & black leopard print rob, a large coffee mug, KIND bars, an iEncourage Fitness coozie. the basket, a deluxe Scentsy burner with one bar of scents and 2 free classes from iEncourage Fitness (valued at $105)
One full-body airbrush tan from Southern Sun Spray Tans (valued at $40)
Two sandwiches or wraps from Daily Harvest (valued at $10)
Two lunches with drinks and sides from Daily Press and two hot drinks for later (valued at $20)
Redkin hair products from Alysa Neil at A Wild Hair (valued at $70)
Gift certificate for a mani/pedi at Pampered & Polished (valued at $50)
Gift certificate from Missy Emory Photography for a snapshot special for up to 3 children (valued at $60)


You MUST DO BOTH – LIKE AND COMMENT over here: iEncourage Fitness facebook entry for basket giveaway
You’ll get one entry by doing BOTH of these.


1) COMMENT BELOW! You will receive one additional entry for this.

2) Visit me at iEncourage Fitness and fill out an entry form to put in the jar.

Soooooo you have 3 opportunities to have your name entered to win this baby on Friday! Drawing to be held at lunchtime!

iEncourage Fitness Mother's Day basket giveaway

iEncourage Fitness Mother’s Day basket giveaway

Nutrition Apps that can help you stay on track

I LOVE a great app that can help me stay on track whether it’s for nutrition purposes, workouts or my SUPER IMPORTANT daily to-do list.  Here are a couple of really good nutrition apps that can help you stay on track or get on track:

Fooducate: It’s like having your own personal registered dietician accompanying you in the grocery store.  Scan the item you’re considering purchasing and Fooducate will give it a grade and suggestions for better alternatives!  It’s great for people with food allergies, as well.  This app was built by a registered dietician.

HealthyOut: Put your nutrition restrictions or health goals into this app and it will help you find restaurants in your area that meet your dietary requirements.

Be sure to check ’em out!

Fooducate App

Fooducate App

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