I want to start the third post of this series with a big thank you to all of you. I am so excited that you found Back to Fitness helpful, and more and more of you let me know through various channels that you found fitness inspiration by trying the tips/suggestions. We are in this together and your encouragement makes me want to exercise and be active every single day too. 🙂

Fitness Tips from a Mom

As I announced before I feature reader questions every week. Please keep them coming either here, my e-mail or theboxqueen Facebook. I am not a fitness/nutrition expert per se but I have a lot of experience I can share with you being an athlete all through my school years and then an avid exerciser. Also being a three time mom, I have a lot to share with fellow moms as well. I know firsthand how hard it is for us to get back on track while juggling a lot of responsibilities.

If you are completely new here you can start off the series from the beginning with first and second Back to Fitness installments. First part deals with setting realistic goals and letting ourselves start simple at first. The second part of the series is all about Home Fitness and partnering up with friends for support.

This week I have three great reader questions that I base my suggestions on. Thank you ladies!

Fitness Apps

Sophia asked me a couple weeks ago: ” Are you using any fitness apps” ?

Aylin asked me “Do you have any suggestions for someone who needs an exercise buddy but does not start moving cause there is nobody around. ” ?

This section was on my list of things to talk about from the start. The quick answer is yes, fitness apps have actually helped me so much after I got really committed to getting active again after the birth of my youngest. Relating back to Aylin’s question; I think it would not be a too bold of a statement if I said without a couple of these apps, I may not have succeeded in those first two years. At first I was doing home fitness and did not have an exercise buddy that would hold me accountable. Instead I relied on these fitness apps. Here is a short list of my most used ones, I actually have a much longer list of apps on my phone.

My Fitness Pal

This is the app of all app’s for me; and here’s why: My hubby gained about twenty pounds during my last pregnancy. There is even research on this phenomenon; some men are so sympathetic to their wives gaining weight that they gain almost as much. Well at least this is the explanation he gave me at the time and I took it. 🙂 Come on, it’s much better than me admitting I was so overwhelmed that I made us go eat out all the time haha. After our baby was born, my sweetie had no more excuses; he already was a pretty serious runner so the exercise part was covered. He discovered My Fitness Pal to learn more about his calorie intake and got me hooked on it too.

My Fitness Pal is an online calorie and exercise tracking system.  This nutritional database have pretty much all the foods you can think of with corresponding calorie values. You simply put in the foods you eat as a food diary and MFP learns from you what you eat and in time the usage becomes even simpler. You can set goals for yourself and the system will tell you what your ultimate calorie intake should be. You also keep track of your exercise the same way and you eat back all the calories you spent. Pretty cool!

Guys it was such an awakening for us. At this point we were back to our normal eating habits but we did not notice that too much of a good thing is, well still too much 🙂 Don’t get me wrong I LOVE food so much to ever limit myself to certain diets, or not eat dessert. (Chocolate promise our love affair is going strong) 🙂 The nicest thing- for me at least- is that I was able to eat any food I want just in reasonable proportions as long as I stayed in my daily limits. For instance I still ate a lot of chocolate, just not the whole box. 😉 This app also made me realize eating less than what our body needs is actually counteractive to our goals of losing weight. Our bodies go into survival mode when we take in less than what it needs. MFP made it easy to track this for me and my hubby; we tracked our calorie intake making sure we are not below the daily goal. All very valuable info if you ask me.

Also going back to Aylin’s exercise question; MFP really was a huge motivator for me to keep exercising everyday. I just loved putting in the type and duration of each exercise I did; it was almost like a game. I noticed that even on my rest days I talked myself into a short walk or a ten minute quick ab work to record it on MFP; funny but true story. 😉

Hot5 

Since late 2013 I noticed that I use the Hot5 app quite a bit. Hot5 is a collection of 5-minute video workouts. The videos are good quality and modern and there is a big variety of exercises from abs, lower body to yoga and flexibility. I always find something I like when I can’t get to my sports club and need a quick to the point workout. If you are an at home exerciser like I used to be; you can mix and match a lot of the videos to come up with a whole session. This app is also amazing for travels; it’s like taking your gym with you. I do it in 20 minute durations in hotel rooms when I am on the go.

Runkeeper

This app is an oldie but a goodie. It is no secret that I love running. (my running post) Runkeeper has been great for tracking my runs. It uses your phone’s GPS system for the tracking and the best part is viewing your progress over time. There is also an audio option where you literally get instructions on your running pace, time etc; very helpful and cool. My hubby and I love to get competitive with each other and track each other’s progress too. Love this option; a little competition is healthy in fitness. 😉

GymPact ( Not used but suggestion for keeping yourself committed) 

This suggestion comes again for Aylin who asked what she could do to get moving when she makes excuses for herself and doesn’t have a friend she exercises with to keep her going.  I have not used this app myself but some ladies from my exercise class use it and they swear by it.  Essentially you set some exercise and nutrition goals for yourself each week. Now listen to this; you bet your $ (minimum $5) on your commitment and then you check in to your gym with your GPS, you take pics of your meals and verify for others that you are making good on your promises. If you don’t meet your goals they charge your credit card or paypal account. Serious, no? If you keep your goals you receive rewards. I think an app like this would be super effective for someone who needs an extra push. I read on their F&Q’s 92% of the days their users commit to their goals; no wonder. 🙂

Which fitness apps have you tried? Which ones have worked for you?

Nutrition- A meal from my day; Mediterranean Spring Salad

I will share a meal from my day with you from time to time in this series. Today it’s fitting as one of my readers Sibel asked about my nutrition.( I am not a nutrition expert; I love to share  things that have worked for me personally in hopes that it may work for you too.) 🙂

“How is your diet? Can you give us an example of what you usually eat in a given day”? Sibel

My daily menu includes a little bit of everything I like to eat. Just to give you an idea growing up I was mainly raised on a Mediterranean cuisine (my salad is named after this) consisting of a lot of salads, olive oil, lean proteins, seafood, cooked vegetables, pasta, lots of super yummy but healthy meals. This kind of eating still influences me quite a bit but I have vices like savory pastries and chocolate. I think for me balance is everything and as long as my meals are about 80% nutritious and healthy and about 20% pure indulgence that’s the sweet spot for me.

Here is an example of a healthy salad I recently had at lunch:

Healthy Mediterranean SaladList of ingredients:

  • Romain Heart Lettuce
  • Fresh Mint
  • Tomatoes
  • Corn
  • Halloumi Cheese ( This can be substituted by Mozzerella or Feta Cheese )
  • Dressing: Lime and lemon juices mixed with extra virgin olive oil

Putting the salad together is pretty straightforward. Constantly on the go with my kids from school and activities during the day my lunch has to be easy to make. The one special trick for extra taste is frying the cheese in a pan with a tiny bit of olive oil. Having super fresh ingredients is the key. I eat all my salads ( that are made at home) with the above dressing since I was a little girl and I never stopped this habit. It’s light, healthy and makes everything taste lovely in my opinion. I eat heavier salad dressings only at restaurants or at dinner parties. What is your go to healthy and simple meal?

Next week I plan to talk a bit deeper about specific exercise classes I have been taking recently and feature more reader questions. Don’t forget to get back to me with those. I love hearing from you and chatting with you so much ; it totally makes my day. If you haven’t already make sure to join theboxqueen family below via my social media or with your email on the main page. XOXO,

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I have linked up to a wonderful link party at Friday’s Fab Favorites. 

PS: I have no affiliations with any of the fitness apps I mentioned in this post; it all comes from my personal experience.

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  • Love your energy! the meal looks so healthy and delIcious 🙂

    • Thx so much; so happy you enjoyed the salad; it’s so easy to make too. 🙂 XOXO, Elif

  • aylin

    Thank you so much for all those app ideas. I will definitely try some of them. I already downloaded the Hot5. And hear this, one of your fitness posts inspired me to get moving. I’ve found some Zumba videos on YouTube and exercised couple of times so far:) Hopefully with Hot5 I can fit more short workouts into my daily life, perhaps I can even do them in my office.

    • Aylin it’s wonderful that you started exercising; Zumba is so fun isn’t it? Also I think with Hot5 you will find many more motivating mini sessions and you won’t get bored as there are so many to try; you can definitely fit them into a short break in the office. 🙂 Please keep sharing your fitness updates with me. I love chatting with you and feel so happy that you found some inspiration here! XOXO, Elif

  • So inspiring!! Thank you for sharing these great ideas! <3

    Diana
    http://www.ManhattanImageandStyle.com
    New Blog Post: [Health Tips] Stay Fit While You Sit

    • Thx Diana; so happy you stopped by! XOXO, Elif

  • sibel gultekin

    It looks so yumiiiiii

    • Sibel, it really was so so yummy and easy to make too; perfect combo for me haha 🙂 XOXO, Elif

  • Tban

    Thank you for the recipe Elif. I will definitely check the apps out. I agree with you on having a balanced diet. I also have high calorie favs that i can not give up even if i am on a diet. Cheese and bread:)

    • Cheese and bread; why didn’t I list those two? There is this Ciabatta bread at our local store New Seasons that I can’t get enough of haha; check out the apps and let me know how you like them! I am always searching for new apps to motivate myself. XOXO, Elif

  • Ooh, your salad looks so delicious! And there’s nothing like blogging about a goal to keep you accountable, huh? I have honestly not used any fitness apps. I keep it old school and track my workouts and progress with pencil and paper. I’ve been doing it this way since before smartphones existed and I’m too stubborn to let technology overtake this one area of my life! -Gina
    On the Daily Express

    • Gina blogging about fitness has definitely been keeping me on my toes to stay with my fitness goals 🙂 I love how you mention keeping goals with pencil and paper. I like technology and all kinds of apps however I have been writing nonstop since I was a grade school girl and nothing beats a beautiful pen and a brand new cute notebook for me still! In my enormous bags there is always a journal. 🙂 Thanks so much for saying hi!
      XOXO, Elif

  • Thanks for all the ideas Elif and good for you keeping up with all your fitness! I tried GymPact for a while but cancelled since I don’t always take my phone to the gym with me and it relies on check ins. So it didn’t really work for me, just have to motivate myself instead!

    • You are very welcome Tori 🙂 I haven’t used Gym Pact at all but always wondered how it would work hearing it from others. I think as long as you can motivate yourself that’s all you need 🙂 Thx for stopping by! XOXO, Elif

  • Oooooooh! I teach dance and gymnastics for work, so I do work out a bit, but not to the intensity that I’d like. I need to check out some of these apps to kick myself back into gear! Bikini season is right around the corner!
    : signe : the daily savant :
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    Enter the JuicyCanvas giveaway : HERE :
    … and be sure to check out my new blog, : the daily wonder :
    for art, photography, poetry, prose, recipes, crafts, dances and all things inspiring! I’m always accepting submissions!

    • How fun that you teach dance and gymnastics! I adore dancing; best exercise too. What kinds do you teach? Now that you reminded me bikini season I need to up the intensity of my workouts 🙂 XOXO, Elif

  • The salad looks amazing. I need to start eating healthy and working out again after coming back from Japan. Great post. Always love it =)

    Hazel
    http://www.theskimplelife.com

    • Hazel thx for the encouragement. The salad is oh so yummy 😉 travel always changes my fitness schedule too but it is OK as traveling rocks! 🙂 <3 XOXO, Elif

  • Sophia

    Thank you Elif! I have used Myfitnesspal in the past but haven’t heard of Hot5 before. I’ll definitely try it.

    • You are very welcome Sophia; thx for the great question! Let me know what you think if you try the app. XOXO, Elif