FITBIT CHARGE 2 REVIEW | WORTH THE HYPE?

Getting ready to workout with my Fitbit!

Bye, bye classic beautiful watches and hello to sporty, little technological wonders that measure every fiber of your being.

Since Christmas, I am one of those people who have traded in my nice watches for this little powerhouse of a fitness tracker, specifically, the Fitbit Charge 2. But, is it really worth the hype? Keep on reading for my honest opinion!

DESIGN

A fitness tracker falls into the category of wearables and it needs to be exactly that – wearable! At about 3/4 of an inch wide, the Fitbit Charge 2 is chunky, but not nearly as large and chunky as other trackers on the market. The wristband with which the tracker comes is made of a flexible, sporty rubber. You can choose what color you prefer, but any additional bands, say a leather or metal wristband is to be purchased separately.

The first couple of days of wearing my Fitbit it felt chunky and awkward. The heart rate sensor is a little deeper and is meant to push into your skin and that felt uncomfortable. BUT, after 4-5 days, I was totally used to it! I learned to wear it a little tighter when working out and to loosen it a notch afterward. Keeping it clean is also really important. I use the clarifying lotion I use on my face to wipe it clean along with the skin typically underneath my Fitbit.

THE VERDICT: it takes getting used to! But after a couple of days, it won’t feel any different than wearing any other watch. Due to the tightness during a workout, you NEED to clean it, which is super easy to do! I love being able to change my wristbands to fit in with my setting. Now, if I am going out or dressing up super nice, then I trade it in for my nicer watches.

FEATURES

The Fitbit Charge 2 has some GREAT features. There are so many that I simply chose my top 5 to share with you!

  1. Step Tracking! I love seeing how many steps I take each day. It is such a simple way to show whether I was active throughout the day, or not!
  2. Exercise Tracking! I really enjoy working out and feeling great afterward for accomplishing it. The exercise tracking feature allows me to track the specific kind of exercise I am doing and it measures everything from the length of the workout to the intensity through the use of the heart rate tracker. This really helps me optimize my workouts and pushes me harder.
  3. Sleep Tracking! If you choose to wear your Fitbit at night, which I do, it tracks your sleep. This has really been eye opening for me as I put my body through a lot with little sleep.
  4. GPS Tracking! My mom and I go on a lot of walks together. We use the GPS Tracking feature in order to measure the distance and save the route that we walked!
  5. Motivation! What I mean by this is that your Fitbit cheers you on, reminds you to move, and celebrates your accomplishments! When you reach your step goal your Fitbit vibrates and shows fireworks on the screen. When you reach certain lifetime milestones you receive fun badges. They’re such little things, but it keeps me moving throughout the day and that is exactly what I want.

THE VERDICT: these are only my 5 favorite features. You can track your weight, food and water intake, heart-rate, go through breathing exercises, join little challenge groups, post in the community, etc. There is so much that you can do with this little guy and I love it!

THE FITBIT APP

To use your Fitbit properly, you need to create an account. This account allows you to see your personal data graphically on the app or online. These portals are very easy to use, are customizable, and quickly sync with your Fitbit.

The one tip for this is to turn off the All-Day Sync feature. This will drain your phone battery to the max. This means that your Fitbit will only sync when you open up the app.

THE VERDICT: the app is very easy to use, simple and streamlined, and allows you to dig deep into your own personal data. I love that it is a one stop shop to see all of your stats without having to dig for them.

COMMON QUESTIONS

Lastly, I thought I would answer some of the questions I had previous to receiving my Fitbit out of my own experience!

Is it worth its price tag? 

At about $150 the price is steep. But, I find that it has totally been worth the money (my dear boyfriend did get me this as a Christmas gift). The features are great and I can honestly say I am more active.

Is the Fitbit Charge 2 accurate?

I would say it is about 85%-95% accurate. I have observed inaccuracies with step tracking and sleep tracking. With step tracking, it tends to be more movement tracking sometimes. Say your punching a punching bag, each of those movements are recorded as “steps”. The same is with things like hanging laundry. I am actually not moving my feet, but I am bending down to pick up the next clothing item to hang on the line. With sleep tracking, it seems as if you need to get up and immediately move a fair share for it to understand that you are no longer sleeping. My morning routine involves sitting for 30-60 minutes writing my gratitudes, affirmations, and setting my mind up for a good day. This is done whilst sitting so my “wake-up” time isn’t recorded until 30-60 minutes later when I start my workout.

The inaccuracies do not skew the data dramatically though. So I still think it is a worth while investment!

How long does it hold its charge?

I tend to get about 5 solid days out of my Fitbit. It warns you at 10% battery that the battery is low, but those 10% can hold on for a while. Some of the features, like sleep tracking, do not do that great on that low of a battery though. Heed the warning that the battery is low and charge it before you lose out on some of the features. I do not feel that the charge has worsened over time either.

Does it really make you more active or are you more obsessive? 

I was interested in getting a fitness tracker out of pure self-interest in how active I really am. Wearing it daily gave me quite the wake-up call because I realized that I was moving a lot less than I thought. In that sense, my Fitbit has really helped me truly be more active which in turn boosts my happiness.

You can easily get out of hand with tracking your every move though. I simply encourage you to take breaks from wearing it. While I love seeing all of my goals fulfilled at the end of the day, if I have a bad day I won’t allow a silly watch to guilt me into fulfilling them. Since my mom also has one, we often compare our data points. This can really piss me off sometimes, but here too, don’t let it control your life. Use it as the tool it is meant to be and if it’s stressing you out, take a break.

Does the Fitbit Charge 2 qualify as a smart watch? 

No, it does not. BUT it does have the ability to vibrate when you get a call, a text, or set a calendar alert. It does not send out smart alerts like Facebook or WhatsApp notifications.

Do I need a small or a large wristband? 

This is super hard for me to answer as I have tiny wrists! If possible, go to your local Target or Best Buy and try it on! I think the small is good for the average wrist. There are lots of notches on the band that makes it really easy to adjust. But don’t hold me to it! 🙈

THE FINAL VERDICT | Sooooo should I buy one?🤷🏼‍♀️

Is being cognizant of your health activities worth $150 to you? Then yes, go for it! The Fitbit Charge 2 is a great tracker for “average” person. There are several other options on the market with higher price tags and more features that cater to competitive athletes and other sports. Those were not relevant to me though. I am very happy with mine and will be wearing it as long as it allows me too!

Do you have a fitness tracker? If so, how do you like it?

And shout out to the best boyfriend for gifting me my Fitbit Charge 2. You rock 😘

With love,

Lena Marie 💕

*This post contains affiliate links. By purchasing from these links you will not be charged more or less, I simply receive a small commission. For more information, please see my disclaimer

LENA MARIE LOVES | JUNE 2017

Eating watermelon!

June flew by for me. So quickly that blogging took a seat on the back burner 😅 I won’t lie, I was lacking creativity, inspiration, and motivation. But I am SO close to being done with my semester and have tons of ideas floating around in my head for you, so just wait…

Lately, I have been loving…

TO WEAR…

Dresses, skirts, sandals galore! June was a hot one here in southern Germany and the only way to attempt to combat the heat was avoiding clothes that were tight or uncomfortable. My all time favorite outfit of the month definitely has to be this dress from Espirit with these sandals from Paul Green.

I also could not be bothered painting my nails this month, so I rocked the Au Naturale look!

TO EXERCISE…

By participating in Shaun Week and following his hybrid calendar for the month! Kicking off on June 12th, Beachbody released a new workout every day for a week that Shaun T recently created. I hosted a free group and we did the workouts together every day and had so much fun! Shaun T then created a calendar to follow for 3 more weeks mixing and matching workouts from all of his previous programs 💪🏼

TO USE…

My Contigo water bottle! With such hot weather, water was a must 💦 I have the Cortland 24 ounce/720 milliliter bottle and LOVE it. One, it does not leak! Two, it is the perfect size – the portion of water is ideal, but it also fits into cup holders. Three, it is dishwasher safe! Four (and my favorite part), is the lid! It has an automatic seal to prevent spillage, but you can also lock it so that in transport you won’t have any accidents. The lid also has a handy carabiner that enables me to clip it onto any bag.

I have never had a water bottle last me this long (mine is 2 years old in the meantime). They have always ended up leaking or becoming nasty and uncleanable.

TO READ…

Still No Excuses! by Brian Tracy! I also added You are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero into the mix and am on the hunt for a third book to read throughout July! School definitely took over my life a bit and I pushed my reading to the side, BUT I will be reading lots as soon as my last assignment is handed in 🤗

TO BE GRATEFUL FOR…

New opportunities. As summer approaches I am excited to take advantage of all of the opportunities that it has to offer. I have a lot of ideas that I would like to bring to fruition, but I also am starting a new job in a little bit and am looking forward to seeing what kind of things I will experience! I feel like I repeat myself constantly, but I just am grateful to have found a spot in life where I am excited to start every day and chase things that I am passionate about!

THESE 5 MOMENTS…
  1. June 6. It was an average Tuesday and my mom and I decided to go for a walk to hit our step goals for the day. Little did we know that the most beautiful rainbow would accompany us the whole way! 🌈
  2. June 14. After a seemingly successful job interview, the stars aligned and my parents and I were able to meet up in the midst of a busy day for ice cream! It was so random but fun! 🍦
  3. June 15. It was a German holiday and the local orchestra, that my dad plays in, uses it to put on a little event for the day. No German festival is complete without potato salad, french fries, brats, and beer! My dad and I joined forces and did what we can do best, eat! 😋
  4. June 21. My final presentation for the project that seemingly overshadowed everything this semester! It was great to get that out of the way and move onto more pressing things. 📚
  5. June 27. Not only was it Tobi, my dogs, 14th birthday, but I finally got a job offer! After a long and annoying search, I finally got an offer and look forward to starting later this month! 👩🏼‍💻

I hope that June treated you all as well as it did me! I look forward to the memories that I will make in July 😌

With love,

Lena Marie 💕

REVIEW | INSANITY MAX: 30

No gym membership? No equipment? No problem! Insanity Max: 30 is an absolutely killer workout program designed for those with little time, no equipment, but a strong desire to make a change.

I stream my workouts on my phone through Beachbody on Demand. It is essentially the Netflix of the fitness industry. Every single Beachbody program is on Beachbody on Demand, so you can easily switch it up, find an active rest workout, a quick ab workout, or something you can do with your kids! I could not recommend having Beachbody on Demand more!

I recently finished my first ever run through of Insanity Max: 30 and would love to share my opinion and experience with you today!

WHAT IS INSANITY MAX: 30?

Insanity Max: 30 is a 60-day program consisting of 2 different sets of workouts, Round 1 and Round 2. There are 5 workouts a week, an optional active rest day workout, and quick core workout. While each individual workout has a different focus – power, strength, cardio, intervals – one thing remains consistent throughout the program: you will SWEAT. I am not talking a barely there sweat, I am talking a soaked sports bra, sweat dripping off your nose, I need 5 towels kind of sweat.

The workouts have short 30-second breaks in between and operate on the principle of “maxing out”. Shaun T, the phenomenal creator of this program, encourages you to have a sheet of paper where you record your “max out” time. This means, the time into the workout where you cannot keep up with the pace anymore. This time is used to help you measure your progress as you work through the program.

This program not only demands physical fitness but it also pushes you mentally. You learn to push farther than you thought you could and feel incredibly accomplished when you reach the end.

DID I LIKE IT?

loved Insanity Max: 30. I had heard others rave about it, I loved the aspect of 30-minute workouts and no equipment, so I figured I would give it a shot. Initially, my body was shocked. I had never sweat this much in my life. I maxed out super early those first few weeks, but by week 4 of Round 1, I could do it! Then Round 2 got me back down off of my high horse very quickly, but by the end, those workouts had also become much more doable.

Also, Shaun T is an incredible trainer. Even though he was behind a screen, it felt like he was right there pushing me to go further. His energy made the workouts go by so quickly, that I would be surprised that I was already done!

WHAT KIND OF PROGRESS DID I MAKE?

To be honest, up until this program I never tracked my progress. I would always take a “before” photo, but would never follow through with an “after”. Scales are also not my thing, so I was not weighing myself. I just based my progress off of how I felt – which can change in a flash! But since I am sharing my journey publicly these days, I knew I needed to do a classic “transformation photo” and holy smokes, what a great surprise!

Progress Picture
*Low quality photo, high quality results – yay for iPhone photos!

I noticed all of the little things. My pants fit looser, I did not have to suck in anymore, I could tighten my belt a hole. But the photos put a whole new perspective to it for me. I also stepped on the scale for the first time in a while and have gone down about 10 pounds since starting with Beachbody programs. So while my change is in no way crazy dramatic, I am really happy with it!

HOW DO I GET MY HANDS ON THAT PROGRAM?!

That’s easy – get a hold of me! Comment below, email me, find me on Facebook or Instagram, head over to my “Get Healthy with Me” page! I am here to help get you set up!

BUT WAIT, THERE IS MORE! Next week is SHAUN WEEK! Shaun T, the creator of this very program is launching 7 brand new workouts on Monday! My dear coach and mentor, Nadia, and I are running a FREE group next week and we can all feel the burn that Shaun T will most definitely put us through. So get ahold of me! I will add you to the group and we can have a big Shaun T Week party 🙂

AND the Netflix of the fitness industry, Beachbody on Demand, is also on sale through August! It is such a steal right now, so be sure to get your hands on it by the end of August. I too can help you with that 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this different kind of post! As a coach, I am here to add value to your life. This program got me really far and I am sure it could get you far too! I cannot wait to continue my journey!

What are your favorite ways to stay fit and healthy?

With love,

Lena Marie

P.S. A post about my nutrition will be up soon!

LENA MARIE LOVES | MAY 2017

Standing in the sunset on Sylt

May has officially come to an end. It was a busy month, but good busy. My semester is over half way mark and the end of semester stress is aggregating, but it’s nothing that my May memories cannot improve! 🙂

Lately, I have been loving…

TO WEAR…

My brand new Adidas Gazelle shoes in the color ice purple! I have a confession: I have fallen victim to a trend. Typically, I try to hold off on trends because I like going my own way, but after a while, they do rub off on me. It seems like Adidas sneakers are everywhere these days. So, I caved and started looking at them myself. I chose these because I personally love that they are suede! The shiny, vinyl-like look of the Superstars is not my thing. I also love this color. I gravitate towards girly colors and the shade ice purple was a very neutral, understated girly tone that I loved. Plus, they are very versatile. I can dress them up with jeans, white denim or black denim or I can channel the athleisure look with leggings.

At the beginning of the month, I also added a new Essie polish to my collection that became my tone for May called “not just a pretty face“. It is a really pretty pink nude tone that says summertime without being in your face.

TO EXERCISE…

By doing Insanity Max 30 and getting OUTSIDE! I finished up Insanity Max 30 midway through the month and chose to measure my progress by taking progress photos! I just posted them on Instagram and Facebook a few days ago! What surprised me the most was the difference between the two photos. I knew I had lost some weight, but the visible difference was eye opening! I just was not aware of the extra weight I had been carrying around when I started.

This month I also spent a lot of time outdoors. While on vacation we spent a lot of time hiking and biking. Plus, with the weather being so lovely, I try to walk places whenever possible!

TO USE…

The Clinique Sonic System, a facial cleansing brush! My skincare routine has stayed pretty much the same, but instead of using my hands to wash my face I now use this brush and I am in LOVE! I did not think my skin could get any softer than when I use an exfoliating face wash, but I was so wrong! This brush really deep cleans my skin, gets all of the dirt and makeup off, and leaves my skin so incredibly smooth.

I use the Acne Solutions Brush Head because I have acne prone skin! I love that there are firm bristles at the top made for your t-zone and the softer bristles at the bottom, made for your cheeks. Washing my face is now something I actually look forward to!

TO READ…

No Excuses! by Brian Tracy! I have another confession to make: I broke my new year’s resolution of reading a book a month… I just started this book a few days ago and have not even made it a quarter of the way through, but I am already in love. It is about the power of self-discipline and even in the first few chapters, has been really eye opening for me. While I would not call myself lazy, I definitely don’t push myself as hard as I possibly can. Yet I want to be successful…

One of my favorite quotes in the book so far is “successful people are willing to pay the price, whatever it is and for as long as it takes, until they achieve the results they desire.” I know I am willing to pay the price, so now I just need to do it!

TO BE GRATEFUL FOR…

Being able to travel with my family! Family life has changed a lot throughout the last few years. From age 5 to 18 my parents gave up everything to take care of others. The vacations we took were to visit family in Germany or maybe a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Yet they instilled into me the value of seeing and experiencing the world. Upon moving to Germany my parents were forced to reinvent themselves. My dad jumped into a new career and my mom went to school to be able to practice her new career. Throughout it all, they supported my educational endeavors, failures, long stints in the US, and were always there for me. Now, we have found ourselves in this big adventure called life and have the opportunity to catch up on family trips. I am extremely thankful for this time with my family before I take the giant leap into leading a life and a future family of my own.

THESE 5 MOMENTS…

As you may have noticed, the “Lena Maries Week” posts are no more. They got old to write, felt like an obstacle I had to overcome every Sunday and I do not think many people cared about what I did every week! Instead, I will highlight my 5 favorite moments of the month in my monthly round-up posts! I hope you like this!

  1. May 6. Meeting up with our old neighbor in Hamburg, Germany before kicking off our week long vacation on Sylt! Check out this blog post to read all about the lovely week we had!
  2. May 11. Out of our whole vacation, I think this day was my favorite. We spent the day biking the island and finished off the day biking along the water. This scene remains vivid in my memory because it just hammered home that I belong wherever water is.
  3. May 21. After several weeks of not seeing each other, I met up with my friend Carla to shoot some photos for our blogs and Instagram pages. I had so much fun taking photos, catching up, and working out together. I feel so lucky to have met such lovely people here!
  4. May 26. My parents and I spent the day running errands in Stuttgart together. My mom picked out a new pair of glasses, I found some new clothes, and we enjoyed gelato on the Schloßplatz together. It made running errands fun and again, this is not something we have always been able to do together!
  5. May 27. We took a day trip to the Zugspitze, which is the highest point in Germany! We had great weather, an impeccable view, and I could cross another thing off of my bucket list!

What did you love throughout the month of May? I hope the month of June is off to a great start for you all!

With love,

Lena Marie

3 WAYS TO MEASURE PROGRESS WITHOUT THE SCALE

Planking

It would be a lie if I said I worked out to feel awesome and did not care about physical progress. Because I do, just like most of you too! But the one stigma I despise is that it is all about losing a certain amount of pounds. There is so much more to our personal heath and fitness journeys than a few numbers on a scale.

Last week I finished up my first ever round of Insanity Max 30! I absolutely loved the 30-minute workouts, the energy Shaun T exudes throughout the program, and the change up of the workouts midway through. As is natural upon finishing up a workout program, I wanted to see what kind of progress I made. So here are 3 ways that I  measured my progress WITHOUT that gosh darn scale!

PROGRESS PICTURES

Log onto Instagram and we see these everywhere! And there is a good reason as to why and that’s because we can actually SEE the change in our bodies. A lot of us work out to improve our physical appearance and photos are the best way to document this.

On day one throw on some tight fitting clothes or a bikini, find good lighting and take your “before” photos. On the last day replicate your day one photos – same outfit, same lighting, same poses! This will make it simple for you to put the photos side by side and compare. I posted my first ever progress photos today, check them out here!

BUT, physical improvements are not the only way to measure progress! And, in my opinion, they should not be the sole reason you workout.

REPEAT YOUR DAY ONE WORKOUT

I remember starting Insanity Max 30 with confidence – it is just a 30-minute workout, it cannot be that bad, right? WRONG. On day one, after a mere 8 minutes, I needed my first break. The sweat was dripping, my body was crying, and I was ready to quit. But I powered through the next 22 minutes, taking breaks as needed.

On my last day, I redid that workout. And guess what? I made it through it! This proved two crucial things.

  1. My body was stronger, I had more endurance, and I was fitter.
  2. I got over the negative nancy in my head and knew I could push through it!

So do the same workout on your first and last day or run a mile on your first and last day and observe the progress you make! If you are staying consistent there is no way around progress!

OBSERVE HOW YOU FEEL

Do you have more energy? Do you find yourself reaching for an apple over a cookie? Have your cravings subsided? Is your skin clearer? Are you sleeping better?

One of the things that working out regularly helped me with was my skin. I have acne prone skin, but my acne actually became a meter for how well I am taking care of myself. If I sweat toxins out of my body, fuel myself with proper nutrients, drink enough, and care for my skin properly chances are my skin is pretty dang happy.

I also find myself attracted to healthy food more often and also more in control of my cravings. For example, we stopped at a rest stop on the way home from a day trip over the weekend and my parents got ice cream, but I just did not want any. I even stood in front of the cooler for 5 minutes trying to pick one, only to walk away. And this is not because I was thinking “OMG how many calories that must have, that will ruin my whole day, that is so unhealthy!” I just had gotten over that constant desire for sweets!

And overall I just feel better. I am happier, more confident, much less bloated, and full of longer lasting energy. See, living a healthy lifestyle comes with a lot of positive side effects! And these too are great ways to measure your progress without that dang scale.

As a health and fitness coach, I often hear “help me lose weight”. No wonder eating disorders are prevalent in our society with that kind of pressure! But it is about so much more than that. We always hear about losing weight, but never maintaining weight or gaining weight!  There comes a time when the number on the scale just should not go down further and at the latest, this should be the point where progress is measured in different ways.

The scale is not the only or best answer. Find what works for you, what makes you truly happy. Because a number does not at all define you.

In what ways do you like to measure progress?

With love,

Lena Marie

P.S. If you want a little extra motivation to get fit and healthy, then click here and shoot me a message! I would love to help YOU make progress in your own way <3

LENA MARIE LOVES | APRIL 2017

I remember sitting and writing my March post like it was yesterday, how is April already over?! All in all, April was a great month! Spring is in full force, with lots of April showers, Easter bunnies, and fresh blooms. I also had some staples that I reached for throughout the month of April, keep reading to see what I have been loving!

Lately, I have been loving…

TO WEAR…

Jeans! Throughout the winter months, I was struggling a bit with the fit of the jeans I had in my closet, but after making my workout routine a top priority, they fit properly again! My current favorite pairs stem from American Eagle Outfitters and Diesel. I prefer a  bit of a darker wash and a good amount of stretch in my jeans. When I purchased my newest pairs from American Eagle, I went outside of my comfort zone and got some with a higher waist as well. These quickly became a favorite pair as I feel like they cinch in the area I am not super confident in. Jeans are my go-to pant whenever I leave the house!

I also had a nail polish color that I wore a lot in April and that was “chubby cheeks” by Essie. It is a beautiful deeper coral tone and the perfect transition from darker pinks that I was still wearing in March!

TO EXERCISE…

By doing Insanity Max 30! This month too, this program has kept my going! All in all, it is a 60-day program, and I will be finishing up within the next 2 weeks. My body is not one to show crazy physical differences, but I do feel better. I have been really good at not finding excuses for my workouts throughout April and am planning on carrying that mindset on into this month!

From personal experience, I definitely could not recommend Insanity Max 30 or other Beachbody programs more. I truly have had a breakthrough in my personal health and fitness level these past few months and look forward to continuing the trend and hopefully seeing some abs poke through this summer 🙂 If you ever need some health and fitness motivation, you know where to find me! I am always more than happy to help.

TO USE…

My Little America Backpack by Herschel! This backpack is perfect for long days on campus. It is very nicely padded, has a great laptop sleeve, and is BIG! I find myself spending my free time between classes in the library. This means I take more things with me every day. Sadly these things don’t always fit into my Longchamp Le Pliage tote. This backpack has been a lifesaver. It holds all of my everyday essentials and is also ideal for travel! This bag also serves as a wonderful carry-on bag and just does not disappoint.

Mine is grey, with white polka dots, and the black rubber buckles. I cannot find this design anywhere, so I linked the plain grey one for you 🙂 The price is steep, but as long as you stick to a classic color or print, it will last forever. Not only is the bag stylish, but it’s practical and constructed with those of us with lots of things to carry in mind.

TO READ…

James Patterson’s “2nd Chance” from the Women’s Murder Club series. After reading “1st to Die” in March, I could not help but keep reading the series in April. And to be honest, around April 20th, I noticed that I had barely made a dent in my book for the month. Not wanting to break my new year’s resolution of reading a book a month, I read like a madwoman and this book made is so easy to be sucked in!

TO BE GRATEFUL FOR…

Patience. While April was most definitely a great month, there are still things that I am trying to achieve or improve. These things are taking a lot of patience. I had some moments of weakness where I let my frustration overtake me, but for the most part, I went with the flow. I am extremely grateful for all of the opportunities I have right now and I just hope that I can make a few of them a reality and achieve some of my goals through them.

What were your favorite things throughout April?

With love,

Lena Marie

5 HEALTHY BREAKFAST IDEAS

Avocado Toast, a great breakfast option!

Growing up, I always ate breakfast, but the most unhealthy breakfast possible – 2 pieces of toast (white bread at that) slathered with a nice thick coating of Nutella. I am a self-diagnosed chocoholic and personally, I find breakfast to be better sweet, rather than savory. By the time I started college and specifically, my health journey, I became conscious of how I was doing no good for my body with such a sugar filled breakfast. Since then I have been on a journey to find healthy, but tasty breakfast options that would make me excited to get out of bed!

As I got older breakfast also became less and less of a priority. I often would trade it in for a few more minutes of sleep. The thing was, breakfast was not keeping me full until lunch, I ended up just as hungry as if I had skipped breakfast! So I just skipped it all together. Upon realizing how terrible that was for my body I developed a few criteria that I value in my breakfasts:

  • It needs to taste GOOD!
  • It needs to be EASY to make!
  • It needs to keep me FULL!
  • It needs to make me EXCITED to get out of bed!

Today, I would like to share exactly these breakfast staples that fulfill these criteria, for me, with you!

SUPERFOODS SHAKE – SHAKEOLOGY

Within the last few months, I was introduced to a product called, Shakeology. It is an extremely nutrient dense protein powder, that is available in numerous flavors, that can be enjoyed in many different ways. Mix it with water or your plant-based milk of choice for a quick on-the-go breakfast that takes 2 minutes to prepare. If I am on-the-go I will mix a scoop of Café Latte Shakeology with 16 ounces of unsweetened almond milk.

Do you have 10 minutes in the morning? Then you can whip up this delicious recipe with your Shakeology. You will need:

  • 6 ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 scoop Café Latte Shakeology

This recipe truly tastes like a chocolate coffee milkshake, so much so it’s hard to believe that you are actually fueling your body with incredible ingredients!

You also might ask, does this really keep me full? And the answer is yes, it really does. No matter what I always eat a mid-morning snack and I don’t get any hungrier after having “just” a shake than when I have a full blown breakfast!

CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI OATS

Zucchini, for breakfast? You read it right! I don’t know about you, but I struggle to eat enough vegetables daily! And roasted veggies and salads get boring, so why not hide vegetables in something yummy? Zucchini oats are the perfect solution. You essentially make oatmeal, just the same as you would normally, but substitute half of the oats with shredded zucchini. Not only do you get in an extra serving of vegetables this way, but it also adds volume to your oats and keeps your fuller longer! And, you don’t even taste the zucchini!

I chose to go the chocolatey route with this breakfast recipe, but you can go whatever flavor direction you want too! The basics that you will need are:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup (packed) shredded zucchini
  • unsweetened plant milk or water to your desired consistency

After that, you can customize it all you want – cinnamon, cocoa powder, dried cherries, maple syrup, nuts, seeds, you name it!

Inspiration from Smart Nutrition.

CHOCOLATE BANANA OAT COOKIES

Contrary to popular belief, cookies are not just for dessert! These cookies legitimately have 3 ingredients – bananas, oats, and chocolate chips. And instead of chocolate chips, you could easily substitute nuts or dried fruit and you could also add in chia seeds for more protein!

You can throw them together on a Sunday during meal prep or throughout the week since they only need 5 minutes to prep and 15 minutes to bake! These are perfect if you know you will need a grab and go breakfast solution. Maybe hardboil some eggs and take one or two with you as well and boom, you have a simple, but healthy breakfast!

OVERNIGHT OATS

“I didn’t have time” used to be my go-to excuse for why I did not eat breakfast, but honestly, that’s the lamest excuse ever! Overnight oats are a fantastic option for those of you who, like me, leave yourself exactly enough time to workout and get ready, and not to eat. The flavor options are endless! Here too you need a few basic ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2-2/3 cup unsweetened plant based milk
  • chia seeds  (optional, but I always add them in!)

To take it up a notch you can channel your favorite flavors – cookie dough, cake batter, Reeses, fruit cobbler, you get the picture! Just add in the extra ingredients and you have something delicious, filling and healthy (depending on your toppings, don’t overdo it!)!

The recipe I used in the image above is from POPSUGAR, Coconut Chocolate Almond Overnight Oats. Seriously, an Almond Joy for breakfast is possible!

AVOCADO TOAST

Avocado toast has become oh so trendy these days, for a good reason. Even for a sweet breakfast lover, this is a yummy savory option! It is a great option for a well-balanced filling breakfast! It also is super simple and relatively quick to make!

For 2 pieces of avocado toast you will need:

  • 2 pieces of bread
  • 1/2 of an avocado
  • 2 eggs poached or sunny side up
  • lemon juice
  • choice of seasonings

I use a bread from a local bakery made specifically for active people (it has chia seeds, quark among many other great ingredients). I mash up one avocado and mix in some lemon juice to keep it fresh and give it some zestiness. Half of the mashed avocado is the perfect amount for 2 pieces of toast! Store the remaining avocado with the avocado pit in an airtight container for the next day! Then I will cook up some poached eggs and put them on top and season it with some salt and pepper.

Carbs, healthy fat and protein are all included in this delicious breakfast recipe!

It is safe to say that my breakfast habits have done 180° in the last few years. I now make sure to at least have options that are grab-and-go ready for the mornings where I am running behind. But, taking the time on Sunday to prep a few bowls of overnight oats or waking up early to whip up a batch of zoats is something I enjoy greatly and helps me kick off the day on the right foot!

I now stay fuller longer, I am alert, and I just feel good! Breakfast truly can make or break your day – make sure you to fuel your body properly!

What are your favorite healthy breakfast recipes?

With love,

Lena Marie

LENA MARIE LOVES | MARCH 2017

Sitting in the subway

March flew right on by. This past month was definitely one for the books. So many new experiences, challenges, and beginnings. Even with all of the newness in my life, a few things remained consistent throughout. Keep reading to see what I have been loving lately!

Lately, I have been loving…

TO WEAR…

These Esprit sneakers! My mom got these for my earlier this month and I have been wearing them ever since. They took a little breaking in, but ultimately I fell in love! They’re quick and easy to put on (great as I am running out the door) and match everything. I love how clean and sporty they are. The only con is definitely the color.

I also got back into the habit of regularly doing my nails. I have a rather ridiculous collection of Essie polishes and my go to colors for the month were “angora cardi” and “spaghetti strap“. Although our nails are such a small part of our body, I find that having them polished and pretty makes you look 10 times more put together!

TO EXERCISE…

By doing Insanity Max 30! This workout program by Beachbody is PHENOMENAL! I am one of those “team no cardio” people, but this program has changed my mentality and is changing my body! It is a 30 minute a day workout, but Shaun T packs SO MUCH into those 30 minutes that it feels like time flew right on by. It is cardio heavy with crazy strength elements that make me sweat like I never have before. And the craziest thing? It is all done with your own bodyweight! This program is ideal for anyone who does not want a gym or cannot afford it. Weightlifting is awesome, I love it, but this has been a great change of pace and I cannot wait to see how my body continues to change!

With summer coming up this is an incredible time to set some health goals and if you want help reaching them… come to me! I would be more than happy to help you find a fitness and nutrition program suitable for you, PLUS I have an amazing deal running throughout the month of April! Message, comment, email – you name it and I am ready to help YOU!

TO USE…

My Longchamp Le Pliage tote! I purchased this in 2013-2014 while it was super trendy as a tote to carry my things to and from work in. When I studied business at my prior university I used it regularly as my school bag and that is how I have been using it as of this month, again! This tote is really nothing crazy special. It is just a large bag that fits everything you need for a day at class – notebook, laptop, wallet, lunch, snacks, etc. The price is totally crazy, but I have to say it has earned back every penny. There are barely any signs of wear, it fits everything I need, and I chose a color that works with my entire wardrobe.

TO READ…

James Patterson’s 1st to Die from the Women’s Murder Club series. This is my first ever James Patterson read and I am hooked! After several self-help, style reads I needed something fictional to take me out of this world temporarily. This book, in particular, is about a series of murders of newly married couples. The story itself is insanely twisted, but it captures you immediately. I also love that the protagonist is a woman who forms her own little club of fellow women investigators.

TO BE GRATEFUL FOR…

A new season, spring! Winter in Michigan was beautiful, but transitioning back to cold, gray, wintery Germany was tough. Snow makes everything so beautiful and bright and winter without snow is really quite depressing. This March was actually the warmest March in German history and I am not complaining. I even got my first little sunburn thinking that the sun wouldn’t be strong enough yet but I was wrong. I love that it is light out longer, that the flowers are blooming and that I am full of new inspiration and motivation. Spring could not have sprung at a more ideal time for me and I am looking forward to the warmer temperatures and strong sunshine.

What were your favorite things throughout March?

With love,

Lena Marie

SPRING CLEAN YOUR LIFE

With spring right around the corner, so is the itch to get your life in order and clean. But spring cleaning is an intimidating term for me. I start feeling anxious the moment I hear the term because immediately I think of one thousand things I need to ‘clean’. So, in order to make the task a bit more approachable, I decided to break it down into separate categories, that I hope will help you too!

2017 has already been a wild year. Chances are we lost sight of our goals along the way, so this is the perfect time to reflect and reorient yourself, with the help of these spring cleaning ideas!

SPRING CLEAN YOUR MIND

If you are anything like me, your mind gets filled with ideas, to-do’s, and a bunch of other stuff quickly. In order for me to be able to actually get something, anything, done, I need to clean my mind-space. To do that I recommend:

  • Spill it all onto paper or a digital note.
  • Clean up your digital space. Emails, notifications, photos, you name it!
  • Give your brain a time out and meditate.

I promise you this will almost instantly relieve the pressure on your mind because you no longer have to remember to remember! You have all of your thoughts organized somewhere and you no longer have the annoying digital distractions. And sometimes our headspace needs a little time to just chill, so give it a few minutes every once and a while.

SPRING CLEAN YOUR BODY

Around this time of year, winter is sort of in the past and summer vibes are increasingly stronger. You may have strayed from your new years resolution to get healthier or you just may have put your physical self on the back burner for the first few months of the year. That’s ok! But take some time to “clean your body” and make yourself feel good. To do that I recommend:

  • Sort through your closet.
  • Clean out your pantry and refrigerator.
  • Schedule your workouts.

Are you no longer feeling that sweater? Donate it. Those food items expired? Pitch them. Do you keep finding excuses, not to workout? Change that. This is the perfect time to do a quick health check. Is the way you think about your body healthy? Is the way you’re treating your body healthy? If not, what do you need to change? Your body is the one thing you will for sure have in some way, shape, or form until the end of your life. It deserves to be treated well, so take the time to spring clean your body and make sure it has what it needs.

SPRING CLEAN YOUR SOUL

The days are finally getting longer, the sun is peeking back through the clouds, and you no longer have to look like a marshmallow everytime you want to go outside. Those deep, dark days of winter can really get to a lot of us, I know they affect me! But with spring coming, so does the opportunity to spring clean our souls from those icky winter feels. To do that I recommend:

  • Clean up your social media.
  • Pick up a book that makes you happy.
  • Write down all of the things you are thankful for.

I spend a lot of time on social media and particularly in the spring months, I am looking for motivation and inspiration to reach my goals. The moment I see a post that makes me feel the slightest bit bad about myself, it is time for that account to leave my feed. To get out of my negative rut I also like to immerse myself in a good, happy read and lose myself in it. Winter negativity also makes me feel all “poor me” all of the time. Honestly, though, my life rocks, I just let the season get to me. Take time to reflect on all of the things you have in your life that you are thankful for. We live in a crazy, beautiful world.

Yes, dusting, vacuuming, and mopping are still on the spring cleaning to-do list, but those are standard. More importantly, make sure that YOU are ready to tackle the second best season of the year (I am biased, I am a summer baby). That said, take a day within the next few weeks to just declutter your life, find your center, and keep reaching for those goals.

Do you have any great spring cleaning rituals?

With love,

Lena Marie

MY CURRENT SKINCARE ROUTINE

When my alarm wakes me brutally early to get my day going, the one thing I look forward to is my skincare routine. And this routine is something I am not willing to sacrifice no matter how early it is, how tired I am or how little time I have.

I started using legitimate skincare quite early, I believe I was 13, and my mom is the one who taught me about it and made sure I integrated it into my morning and night routines. It all started with the classic 3-step skincare routine from Clinique and to be honest, I have not really strayed far from the brand since!

As a teen, I had your typical “thanks to puberty” acne and made it worse because I was a popper and a picker (sorry, TMI haha). Light makeup is what got me through it. By the time I was 18 or 19 my acne changed. Instead of being texture issues, I had invisible, terribly painful bumps under my skin. Sometimes so sensitive that I could feel pain when I smiled. At age 20 I had my first facial after a stressful exam week, that visibly had stressed out my skin. This is when I learned that I did not have combination, but very dry skin. So dry, that it caused those painful, yet invisible pimples out of stress! I changed my skincare, made sure to sweat more and since then I have been perfecting my routine!

Recently, I have found a routine that seems to really work for me and brought me back to trusty old Clinique. My skin is by no means perfect, I still get the occasional breakout and have some discoloration from past acne scars, but it’s nothing that I cannot manage with the use of a little makeup and the proper products.

THE PRODUCTS

Rinse-Off Foaming Cleanser

This cleanser is a light-weight, super sudsy, gentle option to get surface grime off and also take off makeup. As it is so gentle I do not solely depend on this to get my face perfectly clean, but in combination with my other Clinique products, it gets the job done perfectly!

Pep-Start™ 2-in-1 Exfoliating Cleanser

This cleanser is one of the newest additions to my skincare routine. It is definitely much more aggressive than the Rinse-Off Foaming cleanser as it has little exfoliating granules in it. Initially, I was worried that this would be too harsh on my skin for daily use, but I actually really love it. My skin is very soft and radiant after using it and ready for my remaining skincare.

Acne Solutions™ Clarifying Lotion

This toner is perfect for my acne prone skin. It helps reduce the blemishes that I may currently have and prevents others from coming on. This too is a rather aggressive product that does strip the skin of some of its oils, so I do use a very little amount and it gets the job done. Just be sure to take the time to moisturize after!

Clinique Pep-Start™ HydroRush Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20

One of Clinique’s newest products is this moisturizer! It is the perfect daytime, on the go, moisturizer as it contains SPF. Although I have been using skincare for years, I rarely cared about SPF, unfortunately. As I try to pay more attention now, this is a great product for me as it lays the base for my makeup, while protecting my skin at the same time.

Pep-Start™ HydroBlur Moisturizer

This is my favorite product to use at the moment! The consistency of this moisturizer is a 10/10 and feels so good on the skin. It sounds strange, but I truly feel like it blurring my skin and making it appear almost flawless! I use this as my nighttime moisturizer and it keeps my skin nourished until the next morning.

Pep-Start™ Eye Cream

In the last weeks, I decided it was time to add an eye cream to my routine. As a glasses wearer, my eye area does tend to get a little dry and this eye cream refreshes and hydrates almost instantly. I, fortunately, do not have issues with bags under my eyes (yet) but, it does give off a cool sensation that I am sure would only be beneficial!

Acne Solutions™ Clinical Clearing Gel

This product is truly a godsend for my occasional breakouts. I apply this after I applied my moisturizer, both day and night or anytime in between on any spots causing an issue. Whether I feel a pimple coming on, am trying to tame one that surfaced, or am trying to heal one, this stuff works magic.

EOS Visibly Soft Lip Balm & EOS Smooth Sphere Lip Balm

I have a slight addiction to lip products… From the moment I saw EOS balls, as I call them, I knew I needed them in my life. The formula is thick and nourishing, so much so that I often wake up with some still left on my lips. I use one of them every night before bed and my lips are rarely chapped!

Burt’s Bees Ultra Conditioning Lip Balm Stick with Kokum Butter

Onwards with my lip product obsession… Burt’s Bees is another favorite. Whether or not I am wearing a lipstick throughout the day, I always prep my lips with a little bit of this lip balm. Alone, it adds a subtle sheen to my lips, but it also helps lipstick go on smooth and keeps my lips hydrated!

MY MORNING ROUTINE – PRE-WORKOUT

I work out in the mornings, but I love using my skincare before a workout too. It really helps me wake up. So these are the products I use at this time of day:

  1. Pep-Start 2-in-1 Exfoliating Cleanser
  2. Acne SolutionsTM Clarifying Lotion
  3. Whatever moisturizer I have yet to use up. This is when I test out a lot of the little samples that I get when purchasing products. If I don’t like it, it’s ok because I will sweat it off and wash my face again after my workout
MY MORNING ROUTINE – POST-WORKOUT

After my workout, I shower and wash my face again. Most days this is also when I apply my makeup unless I am having a no makeup day. This routine leaves my face feeling fresh and ready for makeup and does not give me issues with any of my makeup products.

  1. Rinse Off Foaming Cleanser
  2. Acne Solutions Clarifying Lotion
  3. Pep-Start  HydroRush Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20
  4. Pep-Start Eye Cream
  5. Burt’s Bees Ultra Conditioning Lip Balm Stick with Kokum Butter
MY NIGHT ROUTINE

At the end of the day, I like to double cleanse my face. For one, I have been out and about throughout the day and really want to get that grime off of me, but I also want to get all of the makeup off. I NEVER skip washing my face at night because waking up with a breakout is just zero fun and totally preventable if you take a few minutes to care for your skin.

  1. Rinse Off Foaming Cleanser (if I wore makeup, this is what I use to take it off first)
  2. Pep-Start 2-in-1 Exfoliating Cleanser
  3. Acne Solutions Clarifying Lotion
  4. Pep-Start Eye Cream
  5. EOS Visibly Soft Lip Balm & EOS Smooth Sphere Lip Balm

Skin is the biggest organ on our bodies, but often times the last one we think of caring for. Thankfully, my parents instilled in me the value behind great skincare. My dad suffers from some major skin issues that I luckily have not inherited. For this reason, I choose to care for my skin, even more, in a preventative manner. Yes, this is not inexpensive, but again, it’s the largest organ of my body. I watch what I eat and drink, so why not give skin the same care?

What are some of your favorite skincare products?

With love,

Lena Marie

*Disclaimer, this post is not sponsored.