Happy weekend! Today, we are launching our new wellness series: Weekend Wellness.
While there’s plenty of resources out there on healthy living, I want to share my personal journey towards better health. I want to live a more healthy lifestyle, but I don’t always know how. I’m not a fitness or nutrition expert, and frankly, sometimes I don’t even know where to start. Maybe you guys fall into the same boat. If you do, you’re in good company with this series! The goal with this series is to call on wellness experts and seek their advice on healthy living to all of us here at TTD. You can expect upcoming posts like 3 Steps to Toned Arms or My Favorite Healthy Snacks — this series will cover it all. And if you live and breathe health and wellness, please send us your recommendations either by commenting below or commenting on Instagram. I’ll be sharing notable reader tips on my Instagram Stories and highlight them throughout this series.
To kick off the Weekend Wellness, I’ve asked my personal friend and wellness expert, Jill LaMonica, to help us out. She has always been an inspiration to me in many ways, but especially in fitness and healthy living. Jill is the owner and operator of the two most popular Pure Barre studios in the Dallas area. She is an awesome wife, loving mother to two beautiful children and is very much a leader in our church and community. I don’t know how she does it all!
Below, Jill tells us how she got started in this industry, how to stick with healthy habits and her favorite smoothie for high energy and to keep her full throughout the day. I know many of us love smoothies, so I can’t wait for you guys to try this one!
Cheers to health and wellness in 2018! xx AR
TTD: When did you start your fitness journey?
JL: I am and always have been a kinesthetic person — I played sports growing up (lacrosse, volleyball, basketball, soccer, swim team, and even dabbled in cross country) and loved to be moving. I am from Ohio, and in the Midwest, sports are super popular. This was the catalyst to where I am today.
My love of fitness and sports led to my love of general health and wellness and ultimately into the degree I pursued at Miami University (Ohio). I graduated Summa Cum Laude with Honors with a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology. I was (and still am) one of those huge nerds that loved my degree and loved to learn. Well lo and behold, that degree led to me to pursue Nursing Programs (more education, shocker), and in the meantime, I got married, moved to Kentucky, found Pure Barre, and began teaching in 2010 while I finished applying for schools. Well, God had other plans and uprooted my husband and me to Dallas, Texas (and my plans to become a nurse), where after a brief Pure Barre hiatus while I worked for Stryker, I opened my first Pure Barre studio (Plano, Texas) in 2013. Since then, my passion for leading, inspiring, and transforming women physically, emotionally, and mentally has been able to be done on the daily through my Pure Barre studios. I just love what I do and love the people that I meet. If you are in Texas, come stop by and say hi, and I will kick your seat!
TTD: What’s your favorite tip for a healthy lifestyle?
JL: Prepare and plan. Your workouts, your food, AND your times of rest (many forget that). But no one loves to hear that because it takes 1. work 2. time and 3. patience. So here are my more fun ones:
- Eat dinner early (before 6 pm if you can) and don’t eat after. Brush your teeth after you eat – that will help stop any other cravings (and honestly, who wants to have to brush their teeth again?). This allows your body to fully digest BEFORE you go to bed, then all your time sleeping will be used for healing your body and burning fat rather than breaking down your dinner.
- Eat what I refer to as a “stuffed” smoothie once a day for either breakfast or lunch (“stuffed” meaning full of good stuff that fuels you and provides a lot of nutrition and balances your blood sugar). Good smoothie resource? Celebrity nutritionist, Kelly LeVeque’s book, Body Love. She and this book are ah-mazing. Stop what you are doing and go Amazon Prime it right now.
TTD: With so many boutique gyms popping up, what makes Pure Barre unique?
JL: Many workouts promise to make you sweat, but not to sculpt your body. Pure Barre, which is high intensity, low impact barre classes, does. Through Pure Barre, I have watched women achieve the results they really want — a toned body defined by long, lean muscle.
What do I personally love about Pure Barre? It is smart, efficient, and actually works. As I mentioned before, it produces sculpted and defined bodies, specifically all the parts a woman cares to tone up: arms, abs, thighs and your “seat” (aka backside), which is usually what perks up women’s ears first. But there is so much more achieved through the technique: stronger and leaner muscle mass, increased flexibility and mobility (everyone is aging so this IS important), improved balance and posture, and an increased metabolism.
I also love that it takes the guesswork out of working out and leaves no part of the body untouched. Pure Barre Teachers are well educated on the technique through the corporate certification process and ongoing education and training. That way you can trust them to lead you through a class so you just have to focus on doing what they say, connecting your mind to your body to move (what I like to call “conscious contractions”), and challenging yourself. They also provide a whole lot of motivation (and some pretty sick beats, too). You leave class in under an hour and everything from your head to toes is not only worked out, but toned up AND stretched out. I have so little free time between my family, owning two studios, my church, and trying to have somewhat of a social life and friends, so for me, time and efficiency matters. AND I leave energized, not drained.
You will crave it, especially when you start seeing yourself transform.
TTD: When you’re in a pinch, what’s your go-to snack? Or what snack do you always have on hand?
JL: Usually, something that includes fat and protein (it gives you energy and fills you up). If I need a quick snack and don’t have time to make anything, I will eat a spoonful of nut butter (with no added sugar or oils, those little packs of nut butter by Wild Friends (or Artisana are the best) or a hard boiled egg. Sliced organic deli turkey is also great rolled up on the go. And because I believe in moderation and enjoying life, I always have high-quality chocolate chips on hand (Guittard is my favorite brand). Yes, I love chocolate. And yes, I eat them straight from the bag. Drives my husband nuts.
TTD: What is your number one tip for someone wanting to start their fitness journey?
Find something that 1. challenges you 2. changes you (physically, emotionally and mentally) 3. that you enjoy. And give it time and intention to see those three things come to fruition or not. If it doesn’t meet those three things, your fitness journey won’t last long.
Also, especially for women, focus on muscle building/defining exercises/workouts. It will shape your body more than endless hours spent doing only cardio. If you aren’t sure how or what to do, find a person/fitness boutique that is specialized in these areas and will help educate you and/or provide instruction so you don’t even have to do the preparing and planning — they do it for you. You just have to show up, stay focused, and work hard.
Cherry Cacao Smoothie Recipe
1-2 C Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk (depending on preferred thickness)
1/4-1/2 C frozen cherries
Big handful of spinach
1/4 of a small avocado
1 T cacao powder
1 T acacia fiber (or another fiber substitute)
2 scoops of Livfit Superfood Organic Superfood Blend
Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Unflavored
Sweet Leaf Stevia Clear Sweet Drops (as needed)
Jill’ Smoothie Tips
- I never measure – mainly just eyeball it. So more like an “ish” smoothie.
- Out of avocado? Or not yet ripe (or too ripe)? Keep Avocado Oil on hand and use instead. (Though you will lose the fiber and other nutritional benefits of eating an actual avocado)
- Greens go bad too fast? Spread on a sheet pan to freeze and bag them up after — that way you don’t waste a big bag/box of greens if it goes bad.
- Buy proteins or superfood blends that are unflavored or have a “neutral” flavor — that way you can take your smoothie any flavor direction
TTD: What are the benefits of this smoothie? Why do you use these ingredients?
JL: As I mentioned before, I am a HUGE fan of celebrity nutritionist, Kelly LeVeque and her book Body Love. She breaks down the science of nutrition and how what you eat affects the body in a way that the average person with no health background can understand.
She is also big on smoothies and is a great resource to understand what to put in your smoothies and why (I always want the why). Like her, I am a big smoothie fan, and it has to be the right kind of smoothies — not ones filled with sugar — but ones that provide good nutrition, keep you full, and provide sustained energy (i.e. no blood sugar spikes and crashes).
This smoothie has been my favorite recently, because it is decadent but totally good for you, “stuffed” with ingredients that make a big impact like below:
- Avocado is a healthy fat that is good for your heart health, hormones and helps you stay full, as well is a nutrient dense food
- Acacia fiber helps you stay full and promotes good digestion (like less bloat and clearer skin!)
- Spinach provides a host of nutrients, fiber and protein
- Cacao powder provides your body with antioxidants and has a decadent flavor
- Cherries also are an antioxidant, are high in Vitamin C, and add a touch of sweetness (but don’t overdo it!)
- Livfit Superfood Organic Superfood Blend packs in antioxidants, fiber probiotics, and protein
- Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides provide muscle-building protein and is also great for your skin, hair, joints and nails
Banana Republic Parker-Fit Silk Boyfriend Tunic ‘Black’ | AG Jeans (Similar options here and here.) | Smoothie Bottle | Mackenzie Childs Courtly Check Everyday Bowl ‘Small’ | Mackenzie Childs Courtly Check Pinch Bowl | Nutribullet Blender | Similar round cutting boards here, here, here and here | Similar wood cutting boards here and here | Similar black bowl