Category: Health (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.


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

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!!!

Long-awaited eCookbook

I have some fantastic news! I know that you’re a SUPER BUSY person and I want to help take some of your load off! My long-awaited eCookbook has a weekly meal planning worksheet and 25 quick, easy (mostly) healthy recipes that can be made ahead of time or in the crockpot so that meals for you and your family will be ready when you get home in the evenings.

I’m a certified nutrition coach and group fitness instructor, as well as a busy #girlboss. I get asked all the time “what things can I eat that are better for me?” so I’ve put these particular recipes, which are some of my favorites, into one ebook because they’re, by far, better for you than fast food and quite simply, they’re quick and easy to fix. In order for you to feel your best, you HAVE to take your nutrition into your own hands. These recipes will be a great first step.

The results that have been coming in from the survey that I sent out recently asking what foods you like and don’t like are showing that I’ve done a pretty good job of providing recipes that you’ll enjoy. I can’t wait for you to see them all! I promise to answer any questions you may have or that you leave in the comments below in my next message to you and I’ll also show you one thing you can put to use immediately.

I would LOVE IT if you would leave me a comment or question below or over on Facebook and let me know if you’re excited to see what I’ve got for you OR what recipe you’re hoping may be included. =)

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!

Be thankful

photo credit: Proverbs 31 Ministries

photo credit: Proverbs 31 Ministry

You can visit Proverbs 31 Ministry here

Do you ever find yourself asking “why” when something happens? I know I do. Then I remind myself, it isn’t for me to know why, but to be thankful for the situation no matter how difficult it is. God has a greater plan for each of us. Sometimes we get to see “why” things happen the way they do and sometimes we don’t. I can say from personal experience I wouldn’t be where I am in my faith and in my relationship with Christ if it hadn’t been for some of those “why” situations. His plan brought me closer to Him…He let things happen the way they did in order to get my attention and you know what….I’m VERY thankful for that. I’m still a work in progress for sure and that’s as it should be.

What are you thankful for that maybe you weren’t at first?

Tips for eating the right fats

Did you check out my previous blog about omega 3 and why you need it? I hope so! Here, I give you a few tips for eating the right fats so keep reading! =)

Like carbs, fats are ESSENTIAL for health. The problem is that we eat too many of the wrong types of fat. Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids are key to the healthy function of your brain, metabolism and immune system. Heeellloooooo…. who wouldn’t love less forgetfulness, more energy and no being sick?!

8 tips for eating the right fats and not the bad fats:

1) The more white you see on raw meat, the more saturated fat it contains. Limit these types of fatty cuts
2) Read your food labels! If a food contains ANY trans fats, avoid it!
3) Take the skin off poultry. Remove it before cooking to avoid saturated fat sneaking into your meal
4) Choose fish such as salmon or tuna to get a healthy dose of omega 3s
5) Buy all-natural (yes, that means unsalted!) nuts, seeds and nut butters
6) Replace dairy/whole milk with rice or almond milk
7) Use natural cooking oils to prepare your foods. Olive oil and coconut oil are fantastic choices and they’re great sources of monounsaturated fats
8) Natural unsalted butter! It’s loaded with vitamins and is usually better than lower-calorie margarine options. Your body needs saturated fat, just not much. I use Kerrygold natural, unsalted butter.

Which of these tips do you need to work on getting better at? =)

Cat pee and clothes

Cat pee

Interesting topic for a health and fitness blog, right? Well, I had a little experience with cat pee and clothes yesterday and I just thought I would share what I learned.

Let me fill you in on some quick details. My husband and I are the proud parents of four dogs and an orange tabby cat who sometimes thinks he’s a dog. He was raised with 2 of our 4 dogs so I guess that’s to be expected. Most days, Griffin (that’s the cats name, by the way) is an indoor/outdoor cat (yes, he HAS been neutered for those of you who may be wondering). A couple of days ago Griffin apparently had a mishap with either another male cat in the neighborhood, a squirrel that he had stalked or the prongs on top of one of my neighbor’s fences. I say this because he has a raw, angry spot on one of his hindquarters. I took him to the vet to get it checked yesterday and we left there with an antibiotic shot and his hair trimmed around said spot. The vet told me to let Griffin clean the spot as he needed to and to keep him restricted in the house for at least a day or so. (I learned here that cats don’t “over lick” wounds like dogs do. They clean it and leave it alone. I had no idea!) So back to the house restriction… mind you, Griffin was already peed at me for trying to cram him into his pet taxi for the trip to the vet (6 attempts to get him in there!); then peed at me about the vet visit and the shot he had to get; then we get home and he’s NOT allowed to go outside AND the housekeeper shows up to vacuum, mop and make all those noises that freak him out!

After all this, last night I go into the bedroom to check my husband’s laundry basket to see if there’s anything that needs to be washed before he comes home. Good thing I checked!!! Yes, you KNOW what I found from the subject line of this blog…. Griffin had taken it upon himself to crawl into Brandon’s laundry basket and pee on his linen shirt and t-shirt that were in there. I’m guessing he did this for at least two reasons: 1) he was still peed at me for all of the reasons listed above 2) his litter box is at the front of the house – where our housekeeper was working. Oh boy!

Now, I don’t know how much experience you’ve had with cat pee, especially male cat pee, but let me tell you…. it’s odoriferous! I know that once cat pee is dry, it’s practically impossible to get the smell out of whatever it’s on. My saving grace in this case was that I found it while it was still damp. Off to the washing machine I went. I threw the clothes in; went to the kitchen and all I could think of (because I didn’t Google first, of course) was white vinegar and baking soda. I mixed together 1/2 cup of white vinegar and 3 1/2 tablespoons of baking soda (BE PREPARED FOR THE FIZZ if you do this – I wasn’t!) and then I poured this mixture into the washing machine. I set it for “stain wash” which is a 2 hour and 43 minute cycle on HOT and I went to bed.

This morning I removed the clothes from the washer and there’s NO SMELL of cat pee on them…. thank you, Lord!!! (One of the 2 shirts is Brandon’s favorite gray linen button-up) Now, I pray that I didn’t shrink Brandon’s shirt with the hot water. I’ll find out within the next week whether I did or not.

Hope you enjoyed my little learning lesson for today! =D

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