Brain Dump- Best thing since sliced bread.

What is a brain dump?

A brain dump is exactly what it sounds like, dumping all of your thoughts, dreams, ideas, and tasks out of your brain and onto a sheet of paper. Getting everything you are thinking about out of your head is proven to increase productivity, plus who doesn’t love a good ol’ fashion to do list. Brain dumps keep you moving forward instead of always thinking about what you missed. GTD-Get Things Done- Attitude.

Brain dumping is not the same as brain storming. Brain storming follows more of a process and is a set time to develop ideas whereas a brain dump allows your creative juices to flow without following any guidelines.

Think about all of the room you would have in your noggin if it wasn’t swirling with ideas that you aren’t able to implement. When you get things out of your head and onto a piece of paper, there are far less distractions allowing you to focus on the task at hand. It’s kind of like when you walk into a room to grab something only to completely forget why you are there or what you wanted to grab. Does this every happen to you? The answer…. all the time.

When is the best time to brain dump?

I do my brain dump first thing in the morning. If the room is light enough, try to avoid turning on a light so you don’t fully wake up or use a small bed side lamp if needed. They also make those nifty pens that have a light on them so you don’t have to wake up your significant other, I mean we really don’t want them to interrupt our creative flow!

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I can’t fall asleep or I wake up in the middle of the night unable to go back to sleep because I start thinking about something. I ALWAYS have a pen and paper next to my bed so that I can write down what I am thinking about. Just getting it out of your head and onto paper is instant therapy. It helps to address things instead of letting them stew and fester until they are huge issues.

Essentially any time you are able to day dream is the best time to write it out. That’s right- no phone, no TV… just you and your thoughts. Scary right?!

Where to brain dump?

You’ll think of an awesome idea and never remember it again if you don’t record it, so always carry a pen & paper in your purse or in your car. I get some of my best ideas when I am driving. If you are driving and just can’t wait to spill the beans, try using the voice recorder on your phone or call your own number and leave yourself a voicemail (like that episode of Friends, where Ross calls himself after his near death experience). There are also apps for your phone, like Evernote and Notes. I go old school style with a post it, special note pads, spiral notebook, or a journal.

dream journal
My Brain Dump Book


After the brain dump?

Prioritize your list into must do’s, wants and perhaps. Another option is to sort by business, home and social. My method is to arrange my list by tasks, ideas, appointments, grocery lists, and to-dos.

I’ve never tried this version, but if you are more of a visual person you can try separating your list into columns. Using the right column for needs to be done, the center for dreams from the night before or ideas, and the left for things that you are concerned about and wish to address. I’m also a huge fan of pre-made notebooks/lists that help to organize the day.

My Grocery List Pad & Daily Task Pad that lists meals, water intake & scheduled exercise.


Want more organization ideas or help creating a brain dump? Shoot me an email or check out vphilli_fitness Facebook page. Links below!

vphilli_fitness Facebook Page

Slow Cooker: Pork Chops & Chicken

Healthy twists on timeless classics: 21 Day Fix Approved!

Sweet & Sour Pork Chops


  • Pork Chops- with or without the bone. I used smoked pork chops for this meal
  • 1 onion finely chopped or 1 T onion flakes
  • 1 T Lemon Juice
  • 3 T Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 3 T Soy Sauce- less sodium
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ginger

Directions:  Mix all ingredients together and pour over pork chops in the crock pot. Cook on low for 4-5 hours or until tender. I served the pork chops with carrots and brown rice.

Tomato Basil Chicken


  • 2lbs Chicken breasts
  • 28 oz can of diced tomatos (1/2 of the liquid drained). My favorite canned tomatos are Delmonte- basil, garlic, and oregano.
  • 1 sweet onion diced or 1 T onion flakes
  • 4 T Balsamic Vinegar salad dressing. My go to brand of dressing is Newman’s Own.  I’m a huge fan of their Parmesan Balsamic flavor.
  • 1 T Italian Season
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions: Again, mix all ingredients together and place in crock pot with chicken. Cook on low for 4-5 hours. I paired this dinner with whole wheat egg noodles and used the extra sauce in the crock pot as a top dressing.










Recipe: Comfort Food Edition

When I think of comfort food, the first thing that comes to mind is backyard grilling (yes, I made my husband go outside to grill in the middle of winter). I’ve been craving a homemade burger since the summer, so I went to our local country store today to get fresh ground hamburger meat along with some other goodies. I have tried at least 10 different recipes on my mission to make the best hamburger and I finally concocted a recipe that would blow Bubba’s Burgers out of the water. This asparagus recipe is bomb, too. Get all the details below!

Big V’s Burgers:


  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp teriyaki sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp stone- ground mustard or Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp of onion flakes (much easier than dicing or chopping a regular onion)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 lb lean ground beef

Directions: Oil and heat grill to medium. Add top 7 ingredients together, mix well. Add beef. Mix all ingredients together with fork or hands (hands are more fun). Cook for about 5-7 minutes per side or until no longer pink. Place burger on a toasted wheat bun. Enjoy!

Parmesan Crusted Asparagus:


  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup parmesan
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions: Mix all ingredients in a gallon size zip lock bag. Toss asparagus in bag to coat with mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 min or wrap in tinfoil and cook on grill with burgers. Enjoy!


Moroccan Chicken with Quinoa & Carrots

Chicken is always my go to when it comes to whipping up a quick dinner. It can be made a variety of different ways and goes with just about anything on the side. Quinoa is an incredibly healthy choice for fiber, plus its ridiculously inexpensive & sounds fancy. Yes, but is it 21 Day Fix Approved?? You betcha.


  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup quinoa (I prefer rosemary quinoa)
  • 2 cups cilantro leaves
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp EVOO
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (if you want an extra kick!)


  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Rub olive oil on chicken and place in broiler pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Flip chicken and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.
  3. Quinoa Mixture-bring water, quinoa and carrots to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until water is absorbed by quinoa mixture which takes about 15 minutes.
  4. Place cilantro, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, cumin and red pepper in food processor. Pulse until smooth.
  5. Transfer quinoa to plate, place chicken over quinoa and top with cilantro sauce. Enjoy!



Recipe adapted from Create, Bake, Celebrate

Midweek Meal Prep Like A Boss

I’m a huge fan of any and all BuzzFeed articles. I think those writers are geniuses. Since I was so inspired by their creativity, I decided to create my own list of “hacks” for meal planning. Meal planning can be very daunting when you first start the journey, so I’ve compiled an easy guide to get your started on your healthy way. Here are my top 5.

1. Start Simple: Every Sunday afternoon I boil at least a dozen eggs to get me through the week. Hard boiled eggs are packed with protein and easy to grab on the go (two eggs count as 1 red container on the 21 day fix meal plan). I also cook a bag of carrots (I’m not a huge fan of raw veggies). I eat the carrots throughout the week as a snack with hummus, added to dinner, or plain with a bit of sea salt. Boom, two things made in under 15 minutes.

2. Freeze blend smoothies in muffin tins: What?! Buy fruits, veggies, yogurt, etc. in bulk. Take a few minutes at the beginning of the week to make smoothies. Freeze the blended ingredients in muffin tins so they are ready to just drop in the blender on busy mornings. Two or three  “muffins” make an 8 oz. smoothie.

muffin tin             Photo: Muffin Tin Mania

3. Chop, Dice, Slice, Peel, Spiral the veggies ahead of time: This step is the most painful for me and not because I usually end up cutting myself during the process. Onions are my worst enemy, which means I usually dread peeling/dicing them before cooking.  Meal prep doesn’t mean you have to cook entire meals, simply preparing vegetables ahead of time can save you minutes in the kitchen. Most chopped veggies (carrots, zucchini, squash, onion) can stay fresh in the fridge for a whole week.


4. Keep protein rich snacks on hand: I always portion out my snacks for the week on Sunday. Having high protein snacks (good choice) available may cut down your desire to munch on a pop tart in your time of need (bad choice). Protein is essential for muscle growth & recovery making it the perfect snack for after a hard workout. Check out my blog on quick & easy snacks that pack a protein punch.

5. Meat Meal Prep: We’ve covered our smoothies, veggies and snacks now it’s time to move on to the main course. Save time and add variety to your meals by cooking chicken (or a meat with a similar cook time) three different ways . Line the baking sheet with aluminum foil, then roll up a separate foil sheet to create dividers between the chicken. Each section can now be seasoned a different way without mixing. My favorite seasonings are Jerk, Rosemary and Thyme, and Honey BBQ.

fitmeatPhoto: Fitmen Cook

There ya have it! Follow these 5 steps and you are well on your way to a healthier version of YOU. Questions? Need help? Email me at


Shakeology Recipes- Dessert Edition

No Bake Chocolate Shakeology Cookies: Cookies and healthy usually never go in the same sentence… until now.

Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Form 1 inch “cookie” balls and place on a cookie tray. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until firm. This recipe should make about 24 cookies.

Pumpkin Protein Bites: PUMPKIN everything! Not just to be enjoyed during the fall. I made these pumpkin protein bites yesterday and they are y u m m y.

  • 3/4 cup almond butter
  • 3 scoops Vanilla Shakeology
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin purée
  •  1/4 cup honey or maple syrup (or both…)
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice

Mix together, enjoy!


Chunky Monkey Pudding: A nutritious take on Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.

In a small bowl place peanut butter and coconut oil in microwave for 30 seconds, stir. In a medium to large bowl mash the banana until smooth. Add in honey, stir. Pour melted peanut butter and coconut oil into the banana mixture, stir. Mix in the Chocolate Shakeology and mix well. Place in freezer for 1-1 1/2 hours.

chocolate pudding

Berry Sorbet– Not just a summer time treat.

1 scoop Strawberry or Greenberry Shakeology

1 cup frozen berries

1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

Mix all ingredients together in blender, blend until smooth. Place in freezer for 2 hours, make sure to stir with fork every 30 minutes to break up ice. All set! Makes approximately 2-3 servings.

berry sorbet



10 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget

How does that old saying go… Champagne taste on a beer budget? Sounds about right. Food is the way we fuel our mind and body. Ask yourself this- would you rather be sustaining your body on BBQ Chips or a kale salad? BBQ chips sound way more appealing, but the nutritional value is slim to none. I know that as you go through the check out line at the grocery store making smart choices seem like a bad idea as the bill starts to rack up quickly. Below I’ve listed some of my favorite tips to eating the best you possibly can without draining your bank account.

  1. Shakelogy- Dense Super Food Nutrition. I’ve written a blog post about this  miracle shake in the past, however, its worth a second mention. I know that the price tag can seem overwhelming at first, but when you really look at the ingredients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc.) it truly is a bargain. At just around $4 a day, Shakeology costs less than a number 4 at McDonald’s.
  2. Buy fresh produce in season & freeze it.  I love to stock up on my favorites throughout the spring/summer when the prices are low. Farmers markets are my best friend. I buy several dozen ears of corn, freeze, then eat throughout the winter. Cheap and it tastes great. Strawberries for $4.99 a lb? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
  3. Meal Prep- Plan out your meals and snacks for the week before going to the grocery store. This avoids grabbing random things as you walk down the aisle, plus you can look for sales/deals ahead of time. Heck, you can even plan your meals around what’s on sale.
  4. Branch out on trying less expensive cuts of meat- The crock pot can do wonders for tougher cuts and a bit of seasoning goes a long way. Another tip, buy value packs of chicken or beef and freeze whatever you aren’t going to eat that week.
  5. Beans, Beans, the magical fruit. Stock up on black beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans. They are so inexpensive & they bulk up any meal. A big pot of Turkey Chili can last for days. Other tasty whole grains are brown rice and quinoa. Buy whole foods!
  6. Re purpose leftovers- Use the chicken from last nights dinner to make a to die for grilled chicken salad for lunch the next day. We have all eaten 4 day old slices of pizza in college, so why not use the same tactic with our healthy meals? Check out this blog for more awesome ideas.
  7. Cook at home! Avoid splurging by going out to eat during the week and save it as a special weekend treat or date night. My husband and I love to cook together. Making dinner carves out time for us to catch up and just enjoy each others company.
  8. Buy Generic Brands- I promise that 98.9% of the time the generic brand tastes just as good as the “real thing” and the price is half as much. The only thing I wouldn’t go generic on is toilet paper. Sad, but true.
  9. Drink more H20- Thirsty Thursday has a whole new meaning. The benefits of water are endless. Oh and water is FREE (in most cases). Soda and juice are crazy expensive & loaded with terrible ingredients. To add some variety to your water try adding blueberries, lemon, lime, or mint.
  10. GROW YOUR OWN FRUITS AND VEGGIES- My favorite tip by far. If you are in an area where you can have a garden, DO IT. I added mushroom soil to my garden last year and it delivered Great Dane sized sweet potatoes. Seeds are cheap and you get to literally watch the whole “farm to table” aspect come to life. Nothing is more gratifying than watching your garden grow. They even made nursery rhymes about it…

Stay tuned for my go-to grocery list. In the meantime, Happy Shopping!




21 Day Fix Results!

I finally worked up enough courage to share some of my before and after pictures of my first round of the 21 Day Fix. Pictures that aren’t flattering, taken in the worst lighting, or not filtered through Instagram are a scary thing these days.

I’ll be honest, the first few days of 21 Day Fix are pretty difficult.  My first workout was Lower Body. I’m not kidding when I say I couldn’t get up off the couch without using my Great Dane as a crutch. I had a headache from cutting out sugar and changing my eating habits. I was constantly hungry. My mood swings weren’t great (sorry friends & family!).  I kept repeating the saying “it will get worse before it gets better” and read just about every motivational quote I could find online.  Guess what… those ridiculous posts were 100% true. I started on a Monday and by Friday I felt like super woman. My body started to adjust to eating better, which led to stronger workouts and energy. It feels so incredibly good to know that I am taking care of my body, eating healthy, and I can actually feel myself getting stronger every day. I just finished bench pressing my car. ; )

The top row of pictures were taken two weeks before I started the 21 day fix. I just received my bridesmaid dress in the mail, so naturally I had to model it and take pictures to send to my mom. No alterations were needed. The bottom row of pictures were taken at the SEAMSTRESS just two weeks after I started the 21 day fix. That’s right… I needed to have the dress taken in at least 3 inches. Isn’t that crazy?! If you ever doubt your progress, simply post side by side pictures to compare. It’s a huge slap in the face (plus a pat on the back for having a slammin’ body now!).

During my first round of the fix, I lost 5 inches total and 9 lbs. I gained an appreciation for my body, a positive mindset and self confidence. Not. Too. Shabby.

High five to all you party people out there that aren’t afraid to post your #nofilter pictures. You, my friend, rock. 

Don’t be afraid to send me an email for more information on the 21 day fix. I want to help you!



Crock Pot Turkey Meatloaf

“Ma!!! The Meatloaf!!” Bonus points to anyone that can guess that movie quote.

When I was growing up, I absolutely hated meatloaf and was grossed out by its very name. However, when I first began the 21 Day Fix a few months ago I had to get creative with recipes and to figure out healthy alternatives for our usual dinners (tacos, pasta, anything fried etc.) I actually love ground turkey, so I decided to give meatloaf another try since I’m on this whole kick of branching out my taste buds. Lo and behold, I LOVED IT. This recipe is super simple, easy, and delicious. Plus- it’s 21 day fix approved. Winner. Winner. Meatloaf dinner.


  • 1 lb Lean Ground Turkey
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions or 2 tsp minced onion seasoning (my go to)
  • 1/2 cup egg beaters or 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup Sweet BBQ Sauce
  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • Dash of salt and pepper to taste


  1. Mix together ketchup and BBQ sauce. Combine ground turkey, onion, eggs, 1/4 cup of ketchup/BBQ sauce, bread crumbs, mustard, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix well!
  2. Light spray the bottom of crock pot with non-sticking spray. Transfer meat to crock pot and shape into a square loaf.  Spread the rest of the ketchup/BBQ mixture on top of the loaf. I usually add a little extra BBQ sauce for good measure.
  3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours.





Recipe lightly adapted from Spark Recipes. 


2016: Keepin’ the Resolution New-All the way through.

A new year. A new slate. A new you. We’ve heard it all before, but why do all the positive vibes die down by January 3rd? Fun fact- over 90% of people who make New Year’s Resolutions will never reach their goal. I bet you won’t see that as a meme on Facebook.
All of those motivation quotes featuring people running into the sunset or urging you to be more creative, organized or to save money should all come with a warning. Reaching goals are hard and humans are lazy. Why force yourself to make changes in your life when its so much easier to “Netflix & Chill?”  I’ll be the first one to admit that I start racking my brain for every excuse under the sun to stop as soon as a workout becomes too challenging. However, I need to get in my daily fitness-related hashtags on Instagram so I keep going. We rarely see pictures posted of people forcing their hands out of the chip bag or peeling themselves off the couch in their ratty pajamas. Instead, we see buff bods in the latest trending fitness apparel all over social media.  Don’t get me wrong these pics can be motivational, but they can also be intimidating and set up false expectations. My point is this if we rely on just inspiring quotes and #fitspo to reach our goals we most likely won’t make it to the finish line and will end up being disappointing in ourselves. Wait… There’s still hope!! Don’t give up just yet!!

Here are some tried & true ways to eliminate setting unrealistic expectations and for starting 2016 out on the right foot.

  1. What is your why? Think about the reason you chose to make that particular resolution. Health concerns? Children? Spouse? Bank account? Knowing what motivates  Y O U is going to be the driving force behind your goal.
  2. Choose 1 or 2 goals at most. Make these goals SPECIFIC and set up a time line for what you want to achieve and when. Set up notifications on your phone, re-write your goal every week, stick post its in your car or on the fridge. Remind yourself of your goals daily.
  3. Practice Patience- Big changes or even small changes take time. Don’t expect results or habits to change over night. If you know ahead of time that your goals will take days, weeks or months to reach, then you are ready to commit for the results.
  4. Brace yourself for a set back- Like the Aaliyah song (Try Again)- “If at first you don’t succeed, Dust yourself off and try again, You can dust it off and try again.” Enough said.
  5. Celebrate small victories- Sometimes its best not to look at the big picture. Celebrate every single small step that it takes to get to where you want to be or the goals you set for yourself. It’s all part of the journey, embrace it.
  6. Phone a friend. Make yourself stay accountable by partnering with a friend, co-worker, spouse, dog (I’m not judging), or neighbor who shares generally the same goal as you. Research shows that we are more likely to stick with a plan if we are held responsible by another person or group. Plus, walking with someone is a great time to catch up on gossip.

So long 2015, hello 2016 you beautiful thing.

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