the hamster wheel of weight loss

I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel at times. Figuratively speaking. And literally.

This blog was inspired by a conversation with my best friend that spiraled off into a million different thoughts and my brain going 100 mph.

The conversation is one we have on a regular basis. Typically after one or both of us has stepped on the scale, polished off a large pizza, missed several workouts, or worse, any combination of the three in the same day which really sends us into a downward emotional spiral. Like true friends should though, we always drag the other one down with us.

My very best friend since the first day of 7th grade gym. I was so jealous of her and you know what they say? Keep your enemies close. Then I couldn’t get rid of her.¬†

A few interesting useless facts before I get to the point of this blog.

We have both read, studied and researched fitness and nutrition to death over the years.

We have applied said knowledge to our own diets and workouts, so our base of knowledge has been put to the test and we are both well aware of what works for our bodies.

We are both pretty confident women who are savvy in most areas of our life.

We have both successfully balanced children, the gym, careers for many years.

We have been mutually obsessed with the scale for years.

Most people guess us lighter than our scale weight because we both lift heavy weights, so we are very well aware that the scale is a piece of &^% and should have no bearing on our self-esteem.

Why, I wondered, knowing all of this, do we STILL allow ourselves to fall into the trap of “never gonna be good enough”?

All I had to do to find the answer was take a good look around me. When I say around me, I mean in my real life, on facebook, in magazine articles, on television.

What I saw, what I see, is a society obsessed with physical appearance and world that fakes us out and plays mind games with us. I see photoshopped pictures of women older than us who have less than half the wrinkles. I see fitness models who constantly harp on how lazy we are if we can’t stick with our diet and if we were REALLY disciplined we could be ripped like her. I see un-photoshopped pictures of perfect bodied women, completely void of cellulite, stretch marks, or any physical flaws.

But then…

I run into someone and it literally takes me back how normal they look in person without photoshop. I read countless stories from fitness competitors and models about the horrors of starving themselves for a show then binging like the rest of us later. Their off season pictures, much heavier and less defined, because like the rest of us, they can’t sustain what it takes to keep their body looking like that either. I find out the perfect bodied women is young, childless, works part time therefore has the time to spend in the gym.

NONE of that makes ANY of them less, don’t mistake me. It makes them all very human and reachable, but I don’t think we realize that when we are striving to be just like them.

I lost 100 lbs in a very normal, sustainable, boring way. I exchanged unhealthy foods for better options, I worked out 3-4 times a week in the gym, I had one cheat meal every week. There was nothing extreme or crazy about my method, except that it was realistic and sustainable. Somewhere along the way, in the last few years, being normal wasn’t good enough for me anymore. Maybe I started reading too many fitness magazines, or obsessing over too many fitness models on facebook, but I wanted more. Better abs, broader shoulders, a tighter rear. I needed to be under 20% bodyfat and be in the 140’s on the scale. I have spent the last few years setting that standard for myself and being disappointed when it wasn’t met. I’ve met it a few times, but it never lasted and I got so angry with myself.

Things have changed in my life the last few years. Quite frankly, it’s the most hectic, but the best it’s ever been. Both girls are in school now, making straight A’s I might add, so with that comes backpacks filled with homework and notes to sign. They are both in pre-competitive gymnastics, which takes up another two nights every week. I am finishing college, that is another night every week. I started dating, basically, the greatest guy ever. I got really into photography and hiking and spending quality time with my daughters. These things are ALL investments in our future, positive activities that contribute to our well-being, but somewhere still, I feel like a failure when I say “gosh I just didn’t have time for the gym this week”. <——————– insert self loathing music

Then there’s the food. Goodness sakes, the food.

I psyched myself out earlier this year, started following these diets of fitness models. For awhile it was good, because I was eating tons and tons of calories on Jamie Eason’s Livefit. But I was eating so many calories that grocery shopping and prepping got really challenging. Single mom trying to afford and consume almost 200 grams of protein a day. When I stopped that program, I went back to 1500ish calories per day, which led me right into the arms of binging and overeating, my best friend for so many years. I know better than to restrict calories too much and yet I still fall under the “eat less to lose” spell in desperate moments. Desperate moments meaning, I step on the scale and find myself well into the 150’s, a number far enough away from the 140’s that I panic.

Panic.

Not over the death of a loved one, or the threat of disease, or even a sick child.

a.number.on.the.scale. How much food I ate. Missing a workout. Stop it.

I saw this video, of a fitness model crying over her inability to regain control of her eating and workouts.

Then the Minnesota Starvation Experiment, which explains what the human body does in response to being starved. Starved, in this example, being 1600 calories per day. How many of us have eaten far less trying to lose weight and then shred ourselves mentally because our body does what it’s designed to do? Frantically grasp for food! We eat too little which leads to eating too much and that is the hamster wheel I believe many of us are stuck on. Even those uber fit chicks in the pictures who take water pills and go carbless the week before a shoot. Feeling like complete crap but dangit, her body looks amazing.

http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2009/12/the-minnesota-starvation-experiment/

I am just no longer willing to beat myself up for not being able to live up to an outdated routine. Or compare myself to women who don’t have the same obligations.

I am going to eat fruits, vegetables, pasta and red meat. I’m going to do my best not to overindulge because it isn’t good for me, and I am going to be mindful of what goes in my mouth. I am going to keep up with my workouts because it makes me feel physically and mentally sound.

I’m going to indulge in my love of food, by cooking it, planning it, organizing it and rolling around in it because the challenge of food makes me happy. I like finding healthier ways to make the bad stuff and staying within a grocery budget and sometimes, just making the bad stuff as horrible as possible.

I’m going to keep lifting weights, not in an attempt to look like a fitness model, which is unattainable for me, but because it’s a passion of mine and it will help me age better. (I learned that in class last week.)

I absolutely loathe cardio most days, so I’m just going to do it enough to keep my heart and lungs healthy and that’s it. Living in the gym isn’t doable for me anymore, it isn’t my first priority. I have a goal to get there 3-4 times a week, 30-45 minutes, and that’s that.

Oh, and I’m going to step on that blasted scale every day and record the number, because I want to show you how unpredictable the scale really is. I’ll share those numbers soon, as soon as I finish mourning my current weight.

I kid.

ūüôā

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it’s called balance

I was in the zone on the spin bike today when it hit me. I mean ON the spin bike, head in the game, sweat dripping onto the floor and burning my eyes, mascara running like the crow. (Yes, I wear mascara even on a clean face because I love eyelashes.)

What hit me was that I’m still, after 34 years, trying to get my balance. It’s like I’m on the teeter totter of life every day, running from one end to the other furiously¬†trying to hold it down. But you can’t hold¬†both ends of a teeter totter down, or at least, you couldn’t last time I was on a real one. It’s just impossible.

Over the last five years, I have¬†maintained a 100¬†pound weight loss, but that doesn’t mean I have a handle on it, that I licked obesity or that I’ve learned how to balance my weight loss with life.

I got lucky.

Sure, I’ve worked for it. I’ve been in the gym and eating clean¬†more often than I haven’t. But when I lose my footing, stop working out, start binging and eating bad food, I overdo it without realizing that it’s all the old issues bubbling up again. I truly believe we become overweight because we are eating our way through something. Eating to soothe emotions, or stress, or maybe just to get our bellies so full we think about that instead of the chaos in our life.

A couple of months ago, right in the midst of the Jamie Eason program, when I was on track to seriously be in the best shape of my life, I bit the dust. I fell face first into “I’m one donut away from being 100 pounds overweight again” land. I told you in other blogs that there were reasons for my “failure”, a word I don’t like to use but it’s fitting here. And today, on the spin bike, two weeks into being back into my workout and clean eating routine, I replayed those reasons in my head.

I was juggling a career, two children, six day a week workouts, food prep, and never cheating. A plan that was never going to be sustainable long term. I had the luxury of working out at lunch, so the workouts weren’t interfering with my life. Then I changed jobs. My hours changed, the workload changed, my responsibilities increased and I was back to figuring out when to make it to the gym. Summer started, the girls and I love socializing, spending time with friends, going to the pool, the water park, the lake with our friends, all activities with temptation everywhere.

I should have been able to balance all of it, but in my black and white world, it was all or nothing. In my mind, if I couldn’t do it 100%, I lost faith in myself, despite the fact that I was still exceling in other areas of my life.

My good friend JC, not to be confused with Jesus Christ, has been preaching to me for years about my inability to live in shades of grey as he calls it. He says I am a control freak, and while I’m not necessarily a controlling ogre with other people, I definitely try to control the outcome of every situation, especially the ones that I have to show results for.

I come by it naturally, honestly. I was raised in a pretty immaculate, structured home. I was a very competitive athlete from a young age. I was a prissy girly girl sometimes, but when I stepped onto the softball field I had tunnel vision. I don’t even remember it being about winning against the other team as much as living up to how good I wanted to be.

So I have to hault the Jamie Eason program, I finish school and start again, all the while eating and lounging to my heart’s content. And people, I love food. I love it so much that if I could have one superhuman power it would be eating anything I want without consequences.

But the truth is, loafing and binging does NOT make me happy. It does nothing positive for me because it’s coming from the weakest part of me. Everything I have preached since I started this blog, maybe I do it in part because I need to hear it, too.

Anyway, back to balance.

I’ve been doing something these last couple of weeks that I have never done before. I don’t have a strict plan. I have a plan, but it’s loosely arranged and there is room for trial and error. I know I need to exercise anywhere from 3-5 days a week and I’m satisfied with either end of that range. If the gym isn’t possible because the girls are growing up and out of going with me, I take them to the park and run. Or I go to the gym a night they are doing something with friends. I do my workout at home, or I swim laps in the pool. Weightlifting is still my first gym love and something I definitely try to fit in a few times a week, but I absolutely refuse to beat myself up anymore because I didn’t specifically work my triceps this week.

I make sure I have my lunches planned for the week, because my lunch hours are spent doing homework, but the snacks have become much simpler than ever before. Almonds and a protein shake. String cheese and an apple. Yogurt and a banana. They don’t make for pictures as pretty as the creations I was whipping up a few months ago, but things change and you either change with it or sink.

A conversation with another good friend, and another, and even one more after that got me thinking a lot. The more people I talk to, whether they are obsessively over-exercising or trying desperately to start, the more I learn about myself through their struggles. One friend, in particular, stopped running obsessively for hours upon hours every week and started eating like a normal person. I almost cried when she told me this had been going on for quite some time, and her reason?

“I just wanted to enjoy life more and I was too busy either exercising or beating myself up to do that. So I just stopped. I get there when I get there and if I don’t, it’s because I’m doing something that makes me happy. It gave me back the joy I used to feel working out, instead of feeling like something I had to do or I would die.”

My mom told me recently how much I remind her of my biological father. Another story for another time, but I got to know him late in my life, and didn’t have many years with him. I haven’t done any scientific research into hereditary genes, but I am almost positive that our blood definitely got mixed together and inserted in my veins.

“He was ALWAYS searching for something, Billie. It was like he would go from one extreme to the other, never finding what he was looking for on either end. I think he spent his entire life living extremes, when he might have been truly happy in the middle.”

In the shades of grey.

What I do know, is that I’m happiest when I’m just living life. Spending time with my little girls, without worrying about when I’ll make it to the gym, stressing out about not having enough time for everything, or what’s going to happen five years from now. I’m happiest when I’m eating healthy and exercising, because that is when I feel best physically and mentally. I’m happiest when I’m living up to my own expectations of myself, but I am also learning that it’s just impossible for me to be 100% at everything, all the time, so I have to allow myself latitude.

And I’m happiest when I remind myself of those things daily, because internal peace is like anything else, if you stop working on it, it gets away from you.

Today, I was craving that spin bike workout. Heart pounding, sweat dripping, music thumping, feel like I could go hard for hours workout. But a few days ago, I just wanted to walk at a moderate pace and zone out. It feels freeing to grab hold of the idea that I don’t have to choose either, I can do what feels right in the moment by listening to my body.

If you learn anything from reading my blog, I hope it’s that I am a human, just like you, trying every day to maneuver through this crazy world. While I know I will never go back to being 100 pounds overweight, mentally sometimes I’m already there and have to yank myself back to reality.

So if you need me, I’ll be over here. Living in the shades of grey ūüôā

http://www.facebook.com/healthyisthenewhappy

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back to basics

I was 19 years old when my friend Chris introduced me to the Body for Life book written by Bill Phillips. The short story is that Bill Phillips owned a company called EAS and challenged people to try his program for 12 weeks and the winner would be rewarded with his cherry red ferrari.

The finalists and their journey was chronicled in a video and I bawled like a baby while also falling head over heels in love with Bill‘s body.

Prior to the baby bawling video, I was no stranger to physical activity. I was a competitive athlete growing up and did cardio in the gym on occasion. But I never lifted weights. Ew, I didn’t want to be all big and veiny and tough and strong. Where would any of those qualities get a woman?

Back to the video. Bill couldn’t pick one winner since they all worked so hard, so he sold the ferrari and bought each of them a corvette. Tears. Again.

I tucked the book away for future reference and dug it out again after the birth of my second daughter, several years later.

I believe in this book so much that I have contemplated re-writing a modern day version and giving it away free. It’s that good. The concepts laid out in this book are the true foundation for a solid exercise and nutrition program and are implemented in almost every program out there that works.

Notice I said, “that works”. <—————— write that part down.

The website takes the guesswork out.

The nutrition plan.

http://bodyforlife.com/library/articles/nutrition/nourish-your-body

The grocery shopping list.

http://bodyforlife.com/library/food-list

The sample meal plans.

 http://bodyforlife.com/library/meal-plans/content-sample-weekly-meal-plan

And recipes.

http://bodyforlife.com/library/recipes#pg-1

It’s that simple. In the words of one of my favorite peeps, “it’s not easy, but it IS simple.”

The workouts are easy to plan, take less than 45 minutes and with cardio and weight training on opposite days, it really cuts down the amount of time spent in the gym.

http://bodyforlife.com/library/exercise/weight-training

His approach to cardio is my favorite and it’s the way I did cardio the entire time I was losing weight. My favorite quote from Bill, who happens to have an incredible physique STILL, is, “who wants to spend an hour doing cardio? To keep increasing the length of cardio? What’s the goal, to eventually just spend all day in the gym?”

20 minutes of cardio? I am sold. Ten thousand times over. I cannot focus longer than that. Maybe it’s ADD, or maybe my mental hamsters are too active, but I absolutely won’t do an hour of cardio. Notice I said won’t, not can’t. I won’t.

I hope this helps some of you who are struggling. I did learn through Jamie Eason’s program that I LOVE having a program. I like writing it down and following it. I do need more wiggle room however, because I am ¬† not a childless woman with lots of idle time to devote to this lifestyle. I tried doing that, and my life suffered in other areas. Which is fine for some people, to each their own, but it’s not fine with me.

Five days a week, less than 45 minutes, and sometimes only 25 minutes, works for me and I hope it can work for you!

http://www.facebook.com/healthyisthenewhappy

 

Pardon the dust…

I’m not great at sugar-coating. I know HOW to do it and I’m quite well at it, it’s just uncomfortable for me. So for the purposes of this blog, I’m not going to.

I’m going to get straight to the point and do what I’ve done since I started this blog and that is to share the truth with you. The honest to goodness ugly truth that’s hard to say out loud.

I completely totally fell off the wagon, into the black hole, in every way that is humanly possible.

I’ve still been eating clean 80% of the time and for a few weeks I kept up with workouts. But I have not stepped foot inside my gym in two weeks and you know who sabotaged me?

Me.

I did.

I am the ONLY person to blame for letting my negative thoughts and circumstances in life wash over me like an ocean tide and not getting back up immediately.

Have I ever told you guys that I want to be good at everything? Not just good, but I want to put 100% into every single thing I do and when I feel like I’m not doing that, I tend to be hard on myself. I literally woke up one day and realized that for months, I had been keeping up with this blog, six day a week workouts, 12 hours in school, a job, a house, a dog, and raising two little girls. With the end of their school year approaching, it seemed¬†every day something came home in their backpacks. They need money for this, I need to take off work for this, they have to wear red on this day and a hat the next day.¬†I don’t have every other week or weekend to re-group as a single mom, so I felt like life was eating me alive.

I completely, totally crashed. My wires got all crossed and short-circuited and suddenly I was mentally and physically exhausted every moment of every day. I wasn’t interested in any of the things I normally loved, I was doing the bare minimum just to get through the day, it was taking an act of GOD it seemed just to drag myself out of bed in the morning. One might say, oh yeah, so you got depressed, but the truth is, trying to do and be everything just caught up to me.

My dear friend has told me more than once that I have to learn to live in shades of grey. Life is not always black and white and it’s OKAY to let things go sometimes. The laundry doesn’t always have to be done, the house doesn’t have to be spotless and it’s okay to miss a workout when I really just need a break.

Sometimes, I think we really just need a good cry, a week long pity party, and a nice cheeseburger binge to bring things back into perspective.

Here is the good news. I changed jobs after three years of being in a position that I didn’t feel challenged and that has helped tremendously. I leaned on every person who constantly offers to be there for me. I put my pride aside and just told my close friends, “I’m having a really tough time dealing with life right now and I feel completely overwhelmed.” I accepted that being a single mom is the TOUGHEST job I have or will ever have and would test the strength of even the strongest woman.

All this to say, I am at my best when fitness and health is at the forefront of my life, so it’s non-negotiable to let it go too long. Hiatus is one thing, but removing it from my lifestyle can’t happen. What the past month has shown me however is that I cannot possibly be superwoman in the gym, at home, at work, and not have a mental breakdown so there has to be a better balance in my life.

What that perfect balance is still remains to be seen and will probably require some tweaking, but I will find it. I do know that I want this blog to be about my life and all that encompasses, not just eating and exercise.

Most importantly, I have to keep going. KEEP GOING! ūüôā

I am going out of town for the holiday, for some much needed fun and relaxation with the Adorables and some of our best friends. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

nutrition 101

If I asked 100 people of all genders, ages, sizes and fitness levels to tell me in one sentence what eating healthy means I would probably get 50 different answers. Because if you had asked the 17 year old me, a month before my senior trip to Cancun when I wanted to lose 10 pounds, my answer would have been, “well, like, I eat only two roast beef sandwiches at Arby’s instead of three, and um, like, I only fill my plate up twice when we eat chinese food, and then like, I’ll have 2% milk instead of whole milk and I’ll only drink one gallon every week instead of three.”

I’m serious¬†poodles, that is EXACTLY how¬†that silly lil blonde¬†would have answered that question. And I really did drink three gallons of whole milk every week.

It wasn’t until my second daughter was born, when I decided to lose weight, that I really started learning about nutrition. I started with the book Body for Life, as I have referenced several times and that is where I first read the concept of frequent, small meals, portion control, and learned how protein, carbs, fat and sugar break down.

“So a quarter pounder with cheese and fries, my favorite meal, the bun is the carb, the meat is the protein, and the two slices of cheese are the fat? Okay, got it.”

I kid, I kid. I always felt like Bill Phillips was talking to me when I read his book. He explained it in such a matter of fact, easy to understand language that it made sense enough for me to try it.

A protein and a carb the size of your fist makes a meal. Add veggies a few times a day. Do that every few hours and try to eat 6-7 meals every day.

It’s really that simple.

Where it gets complicated and hard to advise a broad audience is that everyone is different. Everyone weighs different, has different goals, different likes and dislikes, different schedules, and different preferences.

When I was training women in the gym, the first thing I always did was run their numbers on a nutrition calculator, which you can find here.

http://www.freedieting.com/tools/calorie_calculator.htm

Then I had them start tracking calories, because as I have said before, if you have a significant amount of weight to lose, you cannot know how to get where you are going if you don’t know where you are. Is it time consuming? At first, yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely. In the end, tracking calories in the beginning will only save you time later once you get the hang of things. My new preferred calcultor is myfitnesspal, as they have many updated foods already in the system which makes it easy to plug them in.

www.myfitnesspal.com

Jamie Eason’s approved foods list is, in my opinion, the guide to clean eating. I have copied and pasted it below, but if you want to print it, you can do that from her website, www.jamieeason.com, or from the LiveFit Trainer at:

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/jamie-eason-livefit-trainer-approved-foods-list.html

I try to post food pictures as often as possible, and get lots of request for sample meals, but in reality, what works for me isn’t necessarily going to work for you. I have been eating this way for quite some time, it’s the way I’ll eat forever actually, and my meals depend greatly on what my goals are at that time. Right now I am building muscle, so my protein is really high, fat is pretty low, and I don’t eat carbs after a certain time. When I am finished with the trainer, it will change again.

There are so many different ways of eating that with these things as a guide, it’s really important for YOU to figure out what works for you. I use artificial sweeteners. I don’t eat a lot of fruit. I sacrifice a longer ingredient list for less sugar. That is a decision I make for myself based on my goals and my personal preferences, but it’s definitely not for everyone and I respect everyone’s food choices.

Hopefully this list will help you navigate the grocery store and remember that practice makes perfect. Nothing happens overnight and we are all human. Take baby steps instead of trying to overhaul your entire eating program overnight and you WILL get there!

Proteins

  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
  • Tuna (water packed), or White Meat Chicken (water packed)
  • Fish (tilapia, cod, halibut, and on occasion salmon and sea bass)
  • Shrimp
  • Extra Lean Ground Beef or Ground Round (92-96%)
  • Buffalo steak (lean)
  • Protein Powder (lactose free)
  • Egg Whites or Eggs
  • Rib eye Steaks or Roast
  • Top Round Steaks or Roast (aka Stew Meat, London Broil, Stir Fry)
  • Top Sirloin (aka Sirloin Top Butt)
  • Beef Tenderloin (aka Filet, Filet Mignon)
  • Top Loin (NY Strip Steak)
  • Flank Steak (Sir Fry, Fajita)
  • Eye of Round (Cube Meat, Stew Meat, Bottom Round , 96% Lean Ground Round)
  • Extra Lean Ground turkey, Turkey Breast Slices or cutlets (fresh meat, not deli cuts)

Complex Carbs

  • Oatmeal (Old Fashioned or Quick Oats)
  • Sweet Potatoes (Yams)
  • Beans (pinto, black, kidney)
  • Oat Bran Cereal (watch sugar, less than 6 grams)
  • Brown Rice
  • Ezekiel Bread (frozen healthy section of Kroger‚Äôs or Whole Foods)
  • Farina (Cream of Wheat from box)
  • Multigrain Hot Cereal
  • Pasta (Whole Wheat, Ezekiel brand ‚Äď watch serving, very dense)
  • Rice (jasmine, basmati, Arborio, wild, brown)
  • Potatoes (red, baking, new)
  • Kashi Low Sugar Cereals (less than 6 grams of sugar)
  • Whole Wheat Pita (Low Carb Variety ‚Äď Joseph‚Äôs Pita Bread, or Food for Life brand)
  • Carbdown Flatbread (Wal-Mart)
  • Corn Tortillas (Food for Life Brand is best, microwave to make crispy)
  • Whole Wheat Tortillas (Food for Life brand)
  • Rice Cakes (lightly salted only)

Fibrous Carbs & Vegetables (Fresh first, frozen second, canned last choice)

  • Green Leafy Lettuce (Green Leaf, Red, Leaf, Romaine)/Bagged Salad
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • String Beans
  • Black Beans
  • Spinach
  • Bell Peppers
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Mushrooms
  • Pickles
  • Cabbage
  • Sprouts
  • Cucumber
  • Green or Red Pepper
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini
  • Squash
  • Spaghetti Squash (my fav)
  • Pumpkin

Fruit

  • Berries (blueberries and raspberries)
  • Lemons or Limes
  • Melons (not watermelon)
  • Grapefruit
  • Apples
  • Dates
  • Grapes
  • Oranges
  • Eat bananas, strawberries, peaches or plums sparingly (lots of natural sugar)
  • No dried fruits, including raisins (loaded with sugar)

Healthy Fats

  • Natural Style or Organic¬† Peanut Butter, even better, Peanut Wonder (Whole Foods Market)
  • Olive Oil¬† or Safflower Oil
  • Nuts (peanuts, almonds)
  • Flaxseed Oil
  • Avocado

Dairy & Eggs

  • Low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese
  • Eggs
  • Low or Non-Fat Milk (eat dairy only occasionally)
  • Non-fat yogurt (look for low sugar only)
  • Fat-free String Cheese
  • Fat-free Cream Cheese

Beverages

  • Bottled Water
  • Iced Tea (decaf)
  • Coffee (decaf)
  • Diet Soda
  • Crystal Light or Wal-Mart Brand Sugar-Free Drink Mixes

Condiments & Misc.

  • Fat-free Mayonnaise (on occasion)
  • Ketchup (Heinz One Carb brand only)
  • Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce
  • Reduced Sodium Teriyaki Sauce
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Balsamic or Raspberry Vinaigrette (Farm Grove)
  • Salsa or Fresh Pico De Gallo
  • Splenda
  • Steak Sauce
  • Sugar-free or low-carb Ketchup
  • Sugar Free Maple Syrup
  • Sugar Free Jelly (Polaner or Smuckers)
  • Chili Paste
  • Tomato Paste (low sugar)
  • Mustard (yellow or Dijon)
  • Extracts (vanilla, almond, etc)
  • Low Sodium fat-free beef or fat-free chicken broth
  • Plain or reduced sodium tomatoes sauce, puree, paste (look for low sugar)
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Fat-free cooking spray
  • Sugar-free applesauce for baking

Herbs & Spices

  • Chili powder
  • Mrs. Dash (all varieties)
  • McCormick‚Äôs (all varieties)
  • Butter Buds
  • Cinnamon
  • Allspice
  • Basil
  • Bay leaf
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Dill
  • Ginger
  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Paprika
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Curry Powder
  • Red Pepper
  • Marjoram
  • Tarragon
  • Dry Mustard
  • Cumin
  • Saffron
  • Nutmeg
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • Black Pepper

Other Items to Purchase

  • Fat-free Cool Whip
  • Tofutti fudge pops (my fav)
  • Sugar-free Jell-O
  • Sugar-free Popsicles (Philly Swirl are awesome)
  • DaVinci Gourmet Sugar-free Syrups (www.davincigourmet.com ‚Äď my best kept secret!)¬† Add to oatmeal for breakfast or to make a variety of different muffins, cookies or pancakes.
  • Tacori Sugar-free Syrups (World Market)

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food prep day – sun, april 1

The week before, I didn’t food prep. I thought I had enough food in the fridge to get by, so I decided to try and wing it without a clear cut plan.

Newsflash: The plan of not having a plan? Almost never works.

My day starts early, around 6:30 a.m. and I literally have one hour to get three girls ready for the day, a dog fed and situated, gym clothes packed and my cooler packed with meals for the day. Without simple things to grab from the fridge, not only does it take more time, I end up at work not knowing what I’m going to eat all day.

(And I just wrote a research paper on time management, so I am an expert on it now. Ha.)

This week, I KNEW I had to prep. Because it’s necessary for me and my goals. I never, ever, ever regret being prepared, no matter the situation.

I am slightly obsessed with these pre-marinated porkloins at the moment. They are relatively inexpensive (this one was $5) and so simple to throw in the crockpot. This one was peppered garlic and I CAUTION you to be sure and read the label. The marinade often makes them full of sugar and sodium, so be sure it’s a lean tenderloin AND that it’s reasonable as far as sugar. Toss it in the crockpot on low, let it cook all day…

I got out my food processor, which is my FAVORITE kitchen gadget. I used to spend half an hour, crying my eyes out slicing and dicing onions, which made me not do it even though I love to cook with them. I put an onion in here, twirl it up, 1 minute and I have onions readily available to put in everything!

If there is one thing my lifelong friends know about me it’s that I LOVE my spaghetti. I never get tired of it. When I was a kid, it was the green Tangy Italian box with the seasoning packet, does anyone else remember this one? SO delicious! I had some whole wheat pasta left over from last week, so I sprayed a baking dish, spread the noodles along the bottom, then layered ground turkey, 2 cups of spaghetti sauce mixed with oregano, basil, Italian seasoning and chopped artichokes, a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and baked it at 375 for 30 minutes.

Artichokes are quickly becoming my favorite addition to any meal. They are slightly expensive, but it doesn’t take much to flavor a dish up and I just LOVE them!

Swedish meatballs. My Grandma, bless her soul, made these for Sunday lunches and when I started cooking I wanted the recipe. Turns out the “recipe” was a McCormick’s package and yes, she showed me with a sly smile.

I know that some people refuse to use anything packaged, and I completely respect that. But there are some things I just ain’t givin up and Grandma’s swedish meatballs is one of them. So I modify. ONLY use enough to season them, ground turkey in place of beef, almond milk in the sauce instead of regular and only enough to give it flavor. Baked at 375 for 20ish minutes until brown. I like the muffin tins because they seem to cook quicker!

Side note:¬† Try to think of sauces and seasonings as simply a kick, not the dish. A food does not have to be swimming in the sauce for you to taste it. It’s okay to have a little bit of sauce, but make the meat the dish, NOT the sauce.

Now that the weather is getting nice, you will see lots of this. When I realized I wasn’t getting a husband anytime soon, I taught myself to cook on my grill and dang, it makes me feel powerful! And it’s so easy! I put these in tupperware and eat them through the week on corn tortillas, flour tortillas, with mustard, with saurkraut, shred them up for tacos…get creative and think of the hundred things you can do with these!

Tenderloin is done by now, shred with two forks and again, this can go on and in anything! I eat it plain, on tortillas, sometimes on bread with a little barbecue sauce.

MUFFINS! These are my staple. I have eaten these EVERY day for at least six months and I never get tired of them, in fact, I look forward to 10 a.m. every day to eat these muffins! You can find the recipe here, here, here and here. These were peach, but they are SO simple to modify!

And just so we’re clear that I don’t have endless time to spend in my kitchen, this is what we did in between food prep. The hunt of all egg hunts. My reason for doing everything I do? The two most precious girls on earth, my Adorables.

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the self actualization theory

I am a self-admitted overanalyzer. It applies to every area of my life and while it definitely keeps things interesting, it can be a royal pain in the neck to be inside my head sometimes.

I studied Sociology last semester and I got obsessed with reading about Carl Roger’s Self Actualization Theory.

Carl Rogers (1959) believed that humans have one basic motive, that is the tendency to self-actualize – i.e. to fulfill one’s potential and achieve the highest level of ‘human-beingness’ we can.¬† Like a flower that will grow to its full potential if the conditions are right, but which is constrained by its environment, so people will flourish and reach their potential if their environment is good enough.

However, unlike a flower, the potential of the individual human is unique, and we are meant to develop in different ways according to our personality.  Rogers believed that people are inherently good and creative.  They become destructive only when a poor self-concept or external constraints override the valuing process.  Carl Rogers believed that for a person to achieve self-actualization they must be in a state of congruence.

This means that self-actualization occurs when a person‚Äôs ‚Äúideal self‚ÄĚ (i.e. who they would like to be) is congruent with their actual behavior (self-image).¬† Rogers describes an individual who is actualizing as a fully functioning person. The main determinant of whether we will become self-actualized is childhood experience.

No theory could be more significant to losing weight. When I don’t stick to my eating or exercise plans, I feel like I failed myself. When I am doing the right things, I am even more motivated to keep going. Why? Because I am the worst person I can let down. I am stuck with me. All day, every day, forever and ever. I am a constant reminder of my success and failures.

Self acceptance is a process and one¬†I don’t pretend to have figured out. I do think in my thirties I am pretty clear on who I want to be and sometimes my behavior doesn’t match that image, so like the theory says, I temporarily lose my mojo.

But I don’t give up on myself. I won’t give up on myself. I am a fighter and every time I find myself without my mojo, I think back on all the things I have overcome. I do not believe anything is impossible for me if I want it.

What I am learning and constantly attempting to apply is that life is never going to be perfect. There are good days, bad days, cirumstances out of my control, and I cannot predict or determine other people’s attitude or actions. Unfortunately, all of those things affect me, no matter¬†the imaginery shell I attempt to build around myself.

I am trying to get okay with working on one thing at a time. Conquering one demon at a time, and allowing myself a little rope to hang myself occasionally. I am that person who doesn’t believe there is a brunette eating alligator in the pond until I jump in and learn my lesson the hard way.

When I don’t prep food for the week, I know without a doubt at week’s end why it’s good for me to do it. When I skip workouts for weeks and then go back, it’s crystal clear why I shouldn’t lay off for a period of time. When I eat one handful of chips with no intention of eating more, I learn that for me, one handful turns into the entire bag.

If there is one thing I hope my daughters learn from having me as their mom, I hope they learn being a flawless, perfect person is impossible. I hope they learn that how you recover from errors in judgment is far more important than the mistake itself. I hope they learn that a genuine apology and self forgiveness is powerful and freeing.

Sometimes mistakes serve as a reminder of the person we want to be. A reminder that it’s time to hit the reset button and start from scratch. When I look back on my life thus far, there are SO many things I regret, but upon closer examination, I’m not sure I would change them. Some of my worst moments as a person were the most fun and where I learned the most about myself.

Strive to be better every day, and forgive yourself when you aren’t. <—- I repeat this daily.

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RECIPE – peach protein muffins

I know I said I had the recipe figured out, but I just can’t seem to stop messing with this recipe. I eat these every day, every week and never, ever get tired of them. They are my superfood for sure!

Peach Protein Muffins

1/2 cup oat flour     (you can find this at local grocer or grind your own from quick oats in a food processor)

1/2 cup what bran

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup egg whites

1/2 cup almond milk

1/4 cup greek yogurt     (be sure to check sugar on the label, some are loaded with it!)

4 scoops vanilla protein powder

2 – 3.5 oz containers peach baby food

1 spoonful sugar-free peach preserves

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Combine all ingredients and whisk it!
  • Fill muffin tins 3/4 full and bake for 15 minutes or until tops are brown
  • MUST store in fridge or freezer because without preservatives, they go bad quickly

Nutrition per muffin:

97 calories; 2 grams fat; 7 grams carbs; 2 gram sugar; 12 grams protein

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my best advice for the LiveFit Trainer

I am by no means the expert, especially only being in Week 2 of Phase 2. But I do feel I started this program with a slight advantage because I wasn’t new to weightlifting or clean eating, so there was very little behavior¬†modification required¬†on my part and the ones I did need to make weren’t that uncomfortable.

Having listened to many people discuss and go through the trainer, including some of my good friends, I have learned a lot about the do’s and don’ts. Combined with my own experience from this program and years in the gym, here is the best advice I can give to anyone starting or struggling.

Before I say anything else though, ANYONE who makes it through these workouts is tough. I have pushed myself pretty hard in the gym before, but these workouts are the real deal and would be challenging to most people, so pat yourself on the back because what you are doing isn’t much different than competitive bodybuilders!

I just can’t give up cardio, so is it okay to go ahead and do cardio in Phase 1 even though she says not to?

No, no, and no again. If you can’t give up cardio, this isn’t the program for you, to be blunt. And that’s okay, it doesn’t make you any less, just means it isn’t a good fit. The whole purpose of no cardio the first four weeks is to preserve every ounce of muscle you gain in the gym and cardio will completely defeat the purpose. If your diet is clean, you aren’t consuming lots of alcohol, and you are working hard in the gym you WILL see changes without the cardio. I dropped six lbs in four weeks which even I thought was impossible without cardio. Phases 2 and 3 will not benefit you like they should if you do cardio in Phase 1.

I’m not following her nutrition plan, but I am doing the workouts. Is this okay?

Again, my suggestion would be to follow a different program, or write your own. Her program is designed as a system of eating, exercise and supplements and if you aren’t going to follow it, you won’t get the results. Not only is it important to keep your diet clean, you have to EAT and EAT ALOT to pack the muscle on. I have been consuming an average of 2,000 calories a day with 170 grams of protein and it’s tough to do some days.

But THAT is how you build and retain muscle. Good clean calories and lots of protein! Let go of everything you knew from before, because 1200-1300 calories per day isn’t going to cut it unless you are a tiny person. She has a calculator in Phase 2, and I highly recommend punching your numbers to get an idea of where you should be. A good rule of thumb to follow is 40/40/20. 40% of calories from carbs, 40% from protein, 20% from fat and less than 2500¬†g of sodium and 25 g of added sugar per day.

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/jamie-eason-livefit-trainer-phase-2-day-43.html

I don’t even break a sweat lifting weights so I’m worried I’m not going to lose any weight.

You SHOULD be sweating. Maybe not to the degree you would with cardio, but you have to push yourself hard and if you are doing that, there will be sweat. Or a “slight glistening” as I like to call it ūüėČ

I like to print my workout sheets for the week so I can plan days, times, etc. but also to track the weight I lift and beat myself. Muscles grow when they are stressed, so put the pressure on! You should be able to increase your weight every week, even if it’s just for one set or a few reps. I would also say to make sure your form is good, because without good form, you won’t hit the muscle right. Lift heavy enough to struggle mentally, but not hard enough that you can’t complete the motion.

I can’t stress enough, WORK HARD in the gym. Great results come from hard work.

I still want to be able to live my life and I’m going to drink beer with my friends on the weekends

That’s great, but I wouldn’t expect the same results as someone who is strict with the program. I gave up alcohol, had one minor slip and learned a very valuable lesson. When you are training with weights six times a week, keeping your diet clean, going out for a night of drinking will attempt to sabotage your goals. Your body needs every ounce of rest and energy to recover as that is when muscle growth happens. Alcohol taxes the immune system, makes you crave bad food and affects your mood which will hinder your performance in the gym the following week. It will also make defining your abs difficult, and isn’t that what everyone wants at the end?

I messed up on my eating one day, so I took a couple of weeks off, should I just start over now or go ahead and finish it?

Start over. I can’t stress enough that it’s a program. It’s designed to all work together, so when you commit to a specific program, it’s really important to follow it. Again, if you want to only use certain elements, that’s great too, but you can’t expect the same results. If you slip one day, bad meal, miss a workout, certainly just jump back on and keep after it, but two or three weeks has put your progress behind.

I’m in Phase 2 and not losing weight. It seems like I’m stuck. What am I doing wrong?

Possibly nothing. If you are lifting heavy and eating like you should, it’s entirely possible that your body is making changes you can’t see yet and will not reflect on the scale. Now I don’t think it’s possible for one month to pack on 5 lbs of muscle, but I DO think it’s possible for your scale weight to stall. Toss the scale and only weigh at the end of each phase to save yourself the mental roller coaster ride. TRUST the process. If you know deep down you are following the program, it will all come together in the end, as Phase 3 is designed to strip the fat. I would re-check your calorie numbers, make sure your added sugar is in check, drinking lots of water, pushing yourself with workouts and with all that okay, trust the process.

I started out 50 lbs overweight, will LiveFit get me where I want to be?

It took longer to put on 50 lbs than 90 days, so it’s going to take longer to get it off. BUT I do think LiveFit is a TERRIFIC place for anyone to start, no matter your weight. These workouts could be a lifetime fitness routine for anyone, combined with a healthy diet and some cardio, it’s definitely something you could modify and sustain forever. The worst thing you can do is compare your results with someone else. I started this program with about 10-15 lbs to lose, so it would be really unfair for someone with 30 lbs to lose to compare their progress to mine. Get in a competition against yourself and win!

To sum it up, follow the program. The way it’s outlined. Be patient and trust the process.

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RECIPE – carrot cake protein muffins

These were modified from Jamie Eason’s carrot cake protein bars. I tried something a little different this time by cutting the oat flour with wheat bran and they seemed to come out much softer! I LOVED these!

Carrot Cake Protein Muffins

1/2 cup oat flour

1/2 cup wheat bran

4 scoops vanilla whey protein powder

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

¬Ĺ cup egg whites

¬Ĺ cup low sugar greek yogurt

1 TBSP Xylitol

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 3.5 oz containers carrot baby food

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Mix all ingredients
  • Pour evenly into 12 muffin tins (might have a tad left over)
  • Bake 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and tops are slightly brown
  • MUST freeze or store in refrigerator as these WILL go bad quickly without preservatives

Nutrition per muffin:

90 calories; 2 grams fat; 7 grams carbs; 2 gram sugar; 12 grams protein

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