Monday, November 25, 2013

Clean Eating - Day 21!!!

Hello everyone! It's the last day! I honestly can't believe it!!

For those of you awaiting results, they are coming tomorrow. So please check back to see how things have changed over the last 21 days!

Things that this challenge has taught me:

1. My willpower is a lot stronger than I give it credit for.
2. Saying no to food that other people bring you IS possible, and if you explain, their feelings will not be hurt.
3. Just because I may crave alcohol or food to de-stress or emotionally unwind does not mean it's the only option. It's also FAR from the best option.
4. Eating healthy food means feeling healthy. Period.
5. Eating healthy food does not mean being bored with the food you eat.
6. I have a great support system from all over the country around me at all times.
7. I am physically strong even if I'm not in my best shape.
8. I am proud of where I am, despite that I am not in my best shape.
9. I enjoy helping make other people physically strong.
10. Food CAN change your body all by itself.

I want to explain that last sentence a little more. Though I enjoy working out (most of the time), it doesn't take gym visits to change your body and your life. It CAN happen with just food alone. (See my 1st week's progress if you have doubts.) I never fully believed that would work for me. But it was my head that was getting in my way. I wasn't willing to say no to food that I liked because I thought, "I deserve that." Sometimes, you do deserve a treat. But be careful - that's a slippery slope. First it's occasionally, and then you realize you're eating that unhealthy thing every day. If you keep your willpower strong, food alone can change your body. Set HARD LIMITS for yourself when it comes to "cheating" (though I don't really like that word). And ESPECIALLY if you can't get to the gym, be as strong as you can with your diet.

Here's the hard limits I'm setting for myself: Starting in December, I'm planning to follow this plan 6 days out of the week. I will have 1 "cheat day" each week where I can stray from the diet if I want to. This will last until I go home for Christmas. While there, I will try to eat as well as I can, but I won't go hungry. Then, starting in January, it's back to the 6-day a week plan. I feel like this is a reasonable expectation of myself. It allows me some freedom, without depriving me completely. It's really great to know that I CAN go 3 weeks without any unhealthy foods, but it's unrealistic to think I'll be able to do that all the time.

Also, as we head into the holiday season, have a plan for yourself. Plan to workout if you know food control will be difficult. Or plan yourself food "cheat days' for things like holiday parties or family dinners. And remember, even on those cheat days, food is nothing but fuel for your body. You're not hanging out with your family to eat - you are eating while having quality time with your family. Don't confuse the importance of those two things!

Alright, here's the food log for the LAST DAY!

6:50am - Wake-up

7:30am - Apple Cinnamon Protein Shake

11:30am - Carrot chips. Grandma's Hummus. Grapes. Water.

2:00-3:30pm - Nap (Because it was cold, rainy, and I could)

4:30pm - Homemade Cucumber Chips. Water.

7:30pm - New York Strip steak, seasoned to taste. Roasted Brussels sprouts. Tortilla chips. Sparkling water.

11:45pm - Bedtime!

That's it!! Thank you all for following me through this challenge! I can't wait to see the results! Love, health, and harmony to you all.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Clean Eating - Day 20

Hi guys! It's the second to last day!

I want to talk a little bit today about how I've been feeling through this whole process. And it's really very simple - I've been feeling AMAZING.  That's the best word to sum it up. I feel younger. I have more energy. I sleep better. I wake up almost every day feeling rested and ready for the day. I'm generally happier and nicer to people. I just feel amazing.

Some of you know that when I get hungry, I often get shaky and experience a headache. This is typical sign of a blood sugar drop that occurs when you haven't eaten in awhile, but I experience it more intensely than most people. I know I've been tested for diabetes, and thankfully I don't have it. But it seems like my body is more sensitive to those spikes - not only do I have physical reactions, but I get very grumpy and feel sick. It's pretty terrible. I often eat when I'm not hungry if I think I won't be able to eat again for awhile as a "just in case" measure to keep my mean self at bay. And I haven't experienced a single one of these problems since starting this challenge. I get hungry, sure, and sometimes it makes me a little grumpy. But none of my physical symptoms occur. It's one of the best things I've noticed about the diet.

I know I talked about this a little bit at the beginning of the challenge, but I wanted everyone to know it has absolutely continued the entire diet. If any of you have tried to do "cleanses" before, you know you usually feel run down, exhausted, deprived and generally awful. Calorie counting diets often leave you quite hungry at the end of the day, and even lacking some energy if you're not eating enough through the day. But not on this diet.

The only thing I have noticed that when I don't get enough sleep the night before, I will go to sleep early the next day. I've been really trying to listen to my body's signals, and when I'm tired, I usually try to go to sleep. (What an amazing concept!) Sometimes though, it's just not possible. It's not that I get tired more easily, because I truly have more energy throughout the day. But when I get tired at night, I am a lot more aware of it. I know it's time to go to bed. And as long as I get 7-8 hours of sleep a night, I feel great  all day long!

Alright - on to the food log:

8:45am - Wake-up

9:30am - Chocolate Coffee Protein Shake

12:30pm - 2 eggs with onions, orange bell peppers and salsa. A small portion of organic blue corn tortilla chips. Water.

2:30-3:45pm - Workout! (see below for details)

4:30pm -  Leftover spaghetti squash with ground turkey and marinara sauce. Water.

6:30pm - Blue corn chips. Salsa. Water.

10:00pm - Carrot sticks. Grandma's Hummus. Plantain Chips. Sparkling water.

12:00am - Bedtime!

Food-wise, today was a weird day. We worked out kind of late in the day because we went to a farmer's market in the morning and got some amazing looking veggies and protein. And since we worked out a little later, we ate at an odd time. Then we went to a concert at 8pm, so we didn't want to eat too much beforehand. When we got out, we hung out at a friends house, and we were a big hungry so we got some snacks from Whole Foods. But just because you're not eating at "standard times" doesn't mean you can't follow your plan!

Workout - Another killer circuit, this one designed by yours truly! Warm-up on the treadmill for 15-20 minutes. I personally walked for 3 minutes, jogged for 2. Get your heart rate up nice and high for as long as is comfortable for you, then bring it down to a more normal level for a bit. Don't stay at that low level too long, though! This is about training your heart to handle high intensity activity, and also training it to recover well. (This is good advice for ANY cardio you ever you do, whether you do weights after it or not!) Now, on to the circuits:

Circuit 1 (repeat 2X with rest in between)
- 15 step ups (each leg), while holding an 8-10 lb. medicine ball or kettlebell overhead
- 15 Bosu ball bicep curls (each arm) 12-15 lb weights.
- 15 Bosu ball squats holding same hand weights
- 15 Bosu ball tricep extensions (each arm), same weight
- 25 Bicycle crunches

**If you don't know what a bosu ball is, it's the blue thing in the gym that's flat on one side and round and squishy on the other side. I place the squishy side down and balance on the flat side, but you can also do it the other way around.

Circuit 2 (repeat 2X with rest in between)
- 30 Russian twists holding 8-10 lb. medicine ball
- 15 wood chops (each side of the body) with medicine ball
- 25 jumping jacks
- 15 deadlifts into overhead press with 12-20 lb. bar (choose based on your fitness level)
- 5 burpees

That's it for today! Stay tuned for the LAST POST of this challenge coming tomorrow! Love health and harmony to you.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Clean Eating - Day 18 & 19

Hello friends! Sorry for the slight slacking on my posts lately. Things have been busy both at my job and at home, so I've gotten a little behind.

 Here in Austin we've recently gotten a BIG cold front come through, and it's been close to freezing temperatures for the last few days. This brings up some interesting thoughts. In the winter, we have the tendency to eat bigger, heavier dishes that leave us feeling warm and satisfied. Salads don't sound quite as delicious as they do in the summer. We want warm food to comfort us, or at least, I do. And guess what - this is ok!!

It all depends on how you do it, though. Warm vegetable soup with brown rice? Heck yes. Cheese enchiladas covered in sour cream sauce? Not so much. Pot roast cooked with olive oil and warm veggies? Always. Cream-filled potato soup and steak? Maybe not.

Find ways to cook warm comfort foods you love in a healthier way. For example, try those enchiladas with chicken, corn tortillas and salsa instead. We're planning to make soup soon (not sure what kind, but still very excited), and homemade soup can be extremely nutrient-dense and delicious. (Store bought soup is good in a pinch, but it's usually packed with preservatives.) Plus, soup definitely satisfies that need for a warm filling food. Maybe we'll put it with some warm veggies instead of something cold like a salad.

Or, if you want to eat salad for lunch, pack your meat in a separate container and heat it up before you place it on your salad. That way you get nutritious, yummy AND warm.

There are ALWAYS healthier options that can be JUST AS GOOD as what you were used to eating. Ryan has said over and over again during this challenge, "I'm so impressed with the food." I think he was really expecting to eat chicken and vegetables for every meal. But I was not about to let that happen. If the recipes I've been posting look delicious to you, it's because THEY ARE. We have not been left wanting. As much as I'm looking forward to having some of my old favorite foods on occasion, I'm really wanting to keep eating this way the majority of the time.

Alright, here's the food log:

Day 18:
7:00am- Wake-up

7:30am - Chocolate Banana Coffee Shake

11:30am - Turkey Wraps (see below for recipe). Orange.

4:30pm - Almonds and Grapes.

8:00pm - Turkey with Black Beans. Mashed Sweet Potatoes with cinnamon, salt and pepper.

10:30pm - Bedtime!

Turkey Wraps - ok, we were SUPER impressed by these things, and they're really simple to make for lunch. Take turkey (no preservatives or sugar! Check your labels!), spread hummus of your choice (again - check your label) on turkey. Place carrot sticks and cucumber sticks in middle. Wrap together. And enjoy! You may also choose to wrap all this in a large piece of lettuce, if you like.

Turkey with Black Beans - Cook 8 oz ground turkey on the stovetop over medium heat with 1 diced shallot. Cook until brown. Add 2 tbsp of tomato paste, 1 clove of garlic, 8 oz. black beans, salt, and pepper to taste. Add coconut flour if necessary to thicken the mix. Enjoy!

Mashed Sweet Potatoes - Technically the turkey was supposed to be stuffed into the sweet potatoes, but the sweet potato skins just about fell off when we took them out of the oven. So we had them all scrambled together instead. Still delicious! Roast at 400 until soft. Add salt and cinnamon if you like.

Day 19:
6:30am - Wake-up

7:30am - Berry Blast Protein Shake

11:30am - Leftover turkey with black beans & mashed sweet potatoes. Water.

4:00pm - Mixed berries. Almonds. Iced tea.

7:00pm - Roasted spaghetti squash. Leftover homemade meatballs and marinara sauce (see below for explanation).

10:30pm - Organic blue corn chips. Salsa.

11:30pm - Bedtime!

Homemade meatballs with marinara sauce - We made the meatballs on day 6 (see post for full recipe - the sauce was store bought), and had a ton of meatballs and sauce leftover. So, we decided to freeze some of it and save it for later. We were in a bit of a time crunch on this day because we were going to a concert that started at 8, so we didn't want to cook anything too elaborate. We cooked the spaghetti squash the night before, and defrosted the sauce & meatballs during the day so all we had to do was heat & eat. Easy!

The meal was very filling, but after standing up for the concert for about 2 hours, I was a little hungry when I got home. Hence the late snack. I will say that I did my best not to overeat before bed. I could usually eat chips & salsa pretty much continuously until I'm ready to explode. So I measured out a reasonable amount of salsa for myself, and stopped when it was gone. This is an excellent point - don't eat things out of the jar or bag - it just allows you to eat more than you think you are. Put your chips/sauce/whatever on a plate so you can see how much you're eating.

That's it for now, friends! Keep working and push to the end! Love health and harmony to you!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Clean Eating - Day 17

Hello friends!

I've waited to share something, because I've been pondering over it for a couple of days. I mentioned from my post this weekend that I kicked Ryan's BUTT (and my own as well) in the gym. The whole time through the workout, I wasn't really sure how Ryan was feeling about it. He wasn't talking much, and though could see he was definitely getting a workout in, it looked like he was hating every minute of it. But, after we had cooled down and stretched and eaten lunch, he said something that really surprised me. We were talking about the workout, and he said, "You know, I think you might have a future as a physical trainer, if that's something that would interest you."

That was really cool to hear. Though I know I'm not the fittest person in the world, I enjoy working out and challenging myself. I particularly like helping someone do something they didn't they could do before. It's one of the things I loved about teaching music. Seeing someone lift more weight than they thought or run farther than they thought - it's inspiring to see and I love to be a part of it. So - that's really something for me to think about. I'm going to continue to make workouts for Ryan and I to do together on the weekend. And if any of you readers out there want to work out with me, please let me know! If you're not close by, you can certainly take the workouts I post and challenge yourself with them. Let me know how they go for you!

Here's the food log for today. Still going strong into the last few days of this challenge!

6:30am - Wake Up

7:30am - Apple Peach and Cinnamon Protein Shake (Take the apple cinnamon shake recipe and add frozen peaches and a little extra almond milk if needed. It's quite good!)

12:00pm - Grilled shrimp with garlic and spinach. Green beans seasoned to taste. Water.

4:00pm - Almonds, grapes, strawberries. Iced tea.

9:30pm - Hummus and carrot slices. Water.

Today was the day I have my rehearsal until about 9, so I don't get home until 9:30. I was a bit hungry by then, but I didn't want to eat anything too heavy for dinner since I knew I was going to bed soon after. We had some hummus we bought to make with turkey wraps tomorrow, and pre-made carrot slices (also for the turkey wraps), so after making lunch for the next day, I munched on that. Ryan and I found this AMAZING hummus at HEB. It's called Grandma's Hummus with Organic Garbanzo Beans. Ryan doesn't even usually like hummus, but he loved this stuff. It's also at our Natural Grocery Store nearby. So check your local grocery store for this delicious treat! If you can't find this brand, just check any hummus label and make sure you have natural ingredients in there. Hummus is a great natural protein source, especially if you eat it with something healthy like vegetables. But some brands still run the risk of added sugar or preservatives that you just don't need. Honestly - this natural hummus was better than any other packaged hummus I've ever had.

So that was today! Pretty simple but delicious meals for the day. I will say that we are getting a little tired of cooking for evvvvvvery single meal. We haven't been as good this week about planning meals that made more than one portion, so that we could take the leftovers for lunch the next day. But we wanted to try out some new recipes, so that was a decision we made. And luckily - all those meals have been QUITE delicious.

Alright, ya'll, 17 days down and 4 more to go! Love health and harmony to you!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Clean Eating - Day 16

Greetings everyone!

So, in the last two days, despite my will power over the weekend, I have noticed my resolve weakening. Perhaps it's because I am nearing the end of this challenge and I'm starting to imagine all the foods I will soon be able to eat again. (Ryan and I have already planned a celebratory sushi dinner for Monday night. Not completely unhealthy, but also outside our current diet restrictions. There will also be wine!) I have NOT cheated. But I've certainly wanted to, and I know that this weekend will probably be the hardest days of the entire challenge. So close to the end but not quite there yet! I'm focusing on the results I've already seen AND how great I feel to keep myself in check.

On the upside, I've certainly noticed a change in the way my clothes fit. Things that we uncomfortable to wear before are being comfortable again. What a great incentive to keep up the good work! I love clothes, I have way too many, and a large percentage of them don't even fit right now. So knowing that this work will soon put me closer to fitting in to those clothes is keeping me a little sane.

7:00am - Wake up

7:15-7:35am - Yoga (see the workout on Youtube here: )

7:45am - Chocolate Banana Coffee Shake

12:00am - Grilled Flank Steak, seasoned to taste. Over salad with spinach, onions, tomatoes and leftover sauteed zucchini and squash from the night before (see day 15 post for recipe). Homemade olive oil and lemon dressing. Iced tea sweetened with stevia.

5:00pm - Naval orange and almonds. Water.

7:30pm - Grilled salmon seasoned to taste. Grilled asparagus with olive oil and lemon seasoning. Water.

10:00pm - Organic blue corn tortilla chips. Salsa. Water.

I also walked to the bus today and took my usual lunchtime walk. The yoga was a nice kickstart to my day, helping to stretch out my sore muscles and get me awake for the day. This routine might have been short, but it certainly was challenging. If you're looking to try yoga, there are about a million youtube videos you can test out. It's a great workout to do at home if you don't have anywhere else to workout! Or check out a local yoga studio in your area - Groupon and Livingsocial usually have a good deal somewhere nearby!

That's all for today, friends. Only a few days left of this challenge, but you can bet I won't stop posting! Love, health and harmony to you!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Clean Eating - Day 15

We are in the LAST WEEK of this challenge!! We're almost at the finish line!! And if there's one thing I learned from competitive sports as a kid - you always have to push the hardest when you're near the finish line.

This week we are trying to focus on eating more vegetables. We're still trying to work out and stick to the diet. But it seemed like last week we ate a lot of very heavy meals that were mostly protein. So this week we're making sure we get plenty of veggies with our lunch & dinner. Breakfast is still shakes, and fruit is still our snack. I'm hoping that focusing on this will allow me to feel fuller after eating less calorie meals. Even though we're not "counting calories," if you don't eat in a balanced way, the weight still won't come off like you want it to. Try adding just one serving of veggies to your lunch and dinner and see how you feel! I promise you will feel fuller and more satisfied at the end of your meal!

6:25am - Rise and Shine!

6:45am - Chocolate Banana Coffee Protein Shake

7:00-7:30am - Workout (see below for details)

8:20am - Cashew Cookie Larabar. Water.

11:30am - Leftover Pork Curry. Water.

12:00-12:20pm - Lunchtime Walk

4:00pm - Strawberries, grapes, and almonds. Sparkling water.

7:30pm - Stuffed bell peppers (see below for recipe). Roasted zucchini and yellow squash (see below for recipe). Water.

Stuffed Bell Peppers - Boil water and preheat oven to 350. Slice top off bell pepper (we used orange ones). Remove seeds. Boil pepper(s) in water for 3 minutes. On stovetop, cook 4 oz. ground turkey with 2 tbsp. tomato paste, 1 clove garlic, 2 tbsp. diced mushrooms and Italian seasoning. When turkey is done, place filling inside bottom of bell pepper. Place top on pepper and put in roasting pan. Cook for 20 minutes in oven. This makes one pepper - expand the recipe if needed.

Roasted Zucchini and Yellow Squash - Slice veggies as you like. Cook on stovetop in covered pan over medium heat in olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, italian seasoning and fresh squeezed lemon. Veggies are done when they start to become transparent.

Workout - 15 minutes on the treadmill. Walk for 2.5 minutes, run for 1.5 minutes. Repeat. 20 reps tricep pulldowns, 40 lbs. weight. 20 reps bicep curls, 30 lbs. weight. 30 kettlebell halos with 15 lb. weight. 15 upright rows with 15 lb. weight. 30 crunches on stability ball. 30 angle crunches on stability ball. 15 chest press with 2 10 lb. weights. 15 chest flys with 2 10 lb. weights. 15 rows with 20 lb. weight. 5 minutes on stationary bike starting with high resistance and decreasing with each minute. Stretch.

**Notice that I put cardio before my weights again. My time was limited, but I think I used it well. If you have a plan, you can accomplish a lot in just a 30-minute workout! I got cardio and all upper body muscles done!

That's all for today! Love health and harmony to you!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Clean Eating - Day 13 & 14

Greetings again friends and followers!

I'm double posting days this weekend because we were VERY busy with some social things (not to brag or nothing ...) We had lots of opportunities to be tempted this weekend and I am very proud to say that we did NOT give in! We may have eaten a little heavier/a little more than we would during the week, but we did not cheat. Here's what happened:

Saturday we had a relaxing morning until we went to the gym. There I promptly kicked both my and Ryan's butts with an amazing workout I got off this website:  More on this later.

That afternoon, we went to a Bob's Burgers themed birthday cookout. (Bob's Burgers is a hilarious TV show, in case you don't know.) Everyone else was having burgers, so we didn't deprive ourselves. We got some grass fed burger patties, seasoned them ourselves, and brought them along. I made my cucumber and onion salad for a side. Instead of mayo and a bun around my burger, I went with vegetables. It was still quite delicious. We drank sparkling water instead of beer, and left feeling great.

Then we went to see our friend kick butt in her Wind Symphony Recital at Texas State. (Yeah, Sharodon!) Afterward, her parents were very generous in taking us all out to dinner at Logan's Roadhouse. We didn't order alcohol (Ryan had water, I had tea). We did NOT eat the fresh rolls on the table, which was surprisingly easier than I thought. Don't get me wrong, they looked good, but I didn't crave them like I thought I would. Instead we ate the peanuts on the table. I had a grilled shrimp appetizer over salsa and avocado slices. I specified that the shrimp be made with no butter. The appetizer ended up coming with tortilla chips, but I did NOT eat them (WOAH - who am I?) and set them on the other end of the table so I wouldn't be tempted. Ryan had sirloin with vegetables and a sweet potato, all without butter. This was the first time we had been out to a restaurant since we started this challenge so I consider this a BIG WIN.

Sunday our friend Jonathan invited us over for a birthday brunch for our friend Danielle (not me, but an equally cool Danielle). He was making homemade mac and cheese, we were told. So, we had a filling yummy brunch before we went so we wouldn't be hungry when this deliciousness was being made. When we got there, I found out it was homemade pork belly mac and cheese. Are you joking? This stuff smelled ridiculously good. But we sipped our sparkling water and said no. They also had cake, the jerks. We said no to that too.

As if that wasn't enough, a house full of four of our lovely friends had their annual "Faux-giving" dinner. A big potluck with holiday food, drinks and friends. It's one of Ryan's favorite Thanksgiving traditions, and I was excited to see what all the fuss was about. Since we knew there would be a lot of unhealthy options, we made roasted Brussels sprouts (recipe below). We also brought the pork curry we made Friday night, so we would have healthy things to eat. We also allowed ourselves some turkey and smoked pork shoulder even though we figured it may have some butter in it. Still, we said no to MANY a delicious holiday side (ex. sweet potato casserole, twice baked mashed potato casserole) and dessert (apple pie, buttermilk pie, cookies). And we still didn't have an alcoholic beverage. And rather than leaving the party in a food coma like you do after most holiday functions, we left feeling energetic and comfortable.

In every single one of those situations, a former version of me would have crumbled and had a glass of wine or two. Which would have then lead to dessert and at least tasting those delicious sides. But to be honest, it was nice to make these situations about the friendship and quality time without it revolving around drinking and unhealthy food. It felt really empowering to make good decisions even when I was surrounded by the opportunities to make bad ones. I'm not saying I'll ALWAYS do that. But it's really reassuring to know that I CAN.  If I didn't have confidence in my ability to say no to food, I certainly do now. And YOU CAN TOO. Once you say no the first time, it gets easier, I promise. Remember why you're doing what you're doing. Focus on the results you've seen so far. And if you don't feel strong enough to do it alone, ask a friend that's there to hold you accountable.

Here's the food log, though it now seems a little redundant.  But it's here for you special readers!

Day 13
8:30am - Rise and Shine

9:30am - Apple Cinnamon Protein Shake

11am-12pm - Workout (See below for info)

12:45pm - Grilled chorizo with eggs and salsa (just what it sounds like, though we got organic chorizo). Water.

5:00pm - Grilled hamburgers seasoned to taste with tomato, onion & baby spinach on top. Cucumber and onion salad (see day 9 for recipe). Sparkling water.

10:00pm - Grilled shrimp over tomato and avocado salsa (Logan's roadhouse recipe). Peanuts. Iced tea with lemon.

12:30pm - Bedtime

Day 14
7:00am - Rise and Shine

7:45am - Apple Cinnamon Shake

11:00am - Grilled chorizo with eggs, salsa and guacamole. Water.

2:15-3:15pm - Naptime (I was quite sleepy after waking up early)

5:30pm - Tortilla chips (gluten free and no preservatives) with guacamole). Roasted turkey, smoked turkey, and smoked pork shoulder. Pork curry. Roasted Brussels Sprouts (see below for recipe). Green beans with almonds. Sparkling water.

10:00pm - Homemade popcorn with olive oil. Water.

11:30pm - Bedtime

Roasted Brussels Sprouts - Preheat oven to 375. Spray baking pan with spray or line with parchment paper. Chop 1 lb. Brussels sprouts in half. Add 1 lb peeled pearl onions (we couldn't find these at our grocery store, so we used regular white onions), 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper and 1/4 tsp nutmeg. Put veggies on pan. Roast until Brussels sprouts for 10 minutes. Add 1/4 cup sliced almonds on top. Roasted until sprouts are crispy, about another 20 minutes.

And last but not least, our Saturday workout - I mentioned I got the workout from Now, many of her workouts are VERY challenging, but there are always modifications you can do. Keep reading to see what I mean. Here's what we did:

- 15-20 minutes of cardio warm-up on the treadmill. Get your heart rate up! Intervals are the best way to do this if you can't go all out for 15-20 minutes (I know I can't yet). Work hard for a minute, let your heart rate come down for 3 minutes. Repeat.
- Circuit 1 (repeat 3 times with 2 minutes rest in between)
        25 Deadlifts with 12-15 lb. dumbell
        20 Hamstring stability ball curls
        20 Chest presses on stability ball with 15-20 lb. hand weights (1 weight in each hand)
        15 lunges (each leg) holding 15-20 lb. hand weights (1 weight in each hand)
- Circuit 2 (repeat 2 times with 2 minutes rest in between)
        20 jump squats
        20 kettle bell swings with 15-20 lb. kettle bell
        1 minute mountain climbers
        10 pushups
- 5 minute cool down (this keeps your muscles from getting tense and lets your heart rate come down gradually)
- STRETCH (I can't emphasize the importance of this enough.)

YEAH. This workout was INTENSE. Altogether, it took us just a little over an hour including stretching and cool down. (By the way, if you can't figure out what some of these exercises look like, message me or comment and I will explain.) But let me talk about modifications. If you look at her original workout here:  you can see that her version was even more challenging. Heavier weights and in some cases, altered exercises. Knowing that our current fitness level is not amazing, I modified to fit our needs. Instead of doing 50 mountain climbers like she recommended (DEAR GOD), we did them for a minute (rather slowly, but still moving). Instead of doing pushups with a leg lift, which I don't think I can even do, I just did pushups. I adjusted the workout to fit OUR fitness level. This can be done with almost anything. If you have knee problems, and can't do jump squats, maybe you can just do jump ups, or step ups even. Maybe you can just do squats. Maybe you can't do lunges, but you can do squats. Just because you're changing a workout you found, doesn't mean it's not going to be effective. As long as you're working with the same muscle group, you're good. You'll get to those harder exercises or heavier weights eventually.

And another thing - don't let your current level of fitness keep you from getting to your goal. Everyone has to start somewhere. Where you are now shouldn't discourage you. The fact that you are working to improve your current situation should INSPIRE you. Don't get in your own way. A negative mindset can and will harm your workouts. Tell yourself you can do it and you WILL. :)

That's all for today! We're getting close to the end of this and I can't be more thankful for all your support! Love, health and harmony to you all!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Clean Eating - Day 12

Well friends, we are now officially OVER HALFWAY through this challenge!! It's time for some data to mark the progress made thus far. I took measurements on my first day of the challenge, and on day 10. Check the stats!!!

                 11/4/13                   11/14/13
Weight       225.0 lbs.                215.4 lbs.
R. Arm       15.5 in.                   15.0 in.              
Chest          45.5 in.                   44.0 in.              
Waist          43.0 in.                   43.0 in.              
Hips           46.75 in.                  44.5 in.             
Butt           49.25 in.                   49 in.                
R. Thigh     26.5 in.                    26 in.                 
R. Calf        18.7 in.                   18.5 in.              

In 10 days, I've lost 9.6 pounds and 5.2 inches! That seems insane to me. If I had known that this kind of diet would do that, I would have done this a long time ago. My only disappointment is that I haven't lost any inches in my waist. I hope this is "user error" - I'm not a professional at measuring or anything. But nonetheless, I have lost almost everywhere else. I can't focus on the negative when so much positive is going on! All I can do is keep working and trust that my hard work will pay off eventually.

I didn't get to the gym today, but I did walk to and from the bus to get to work. And I took my usual lunchtime walk. You do what you can each day!

Here's my food log:

6:45am-  Wake Up

7:4am - Chocolate Banana Coffee Shake (see day 8 for recipe).

12:00pm - Chicken Fajita Salad (see day 2 for recipe). Olive oil & lemon dressing. Water.

7:00pm - Pork Curry (see day 4 for recipe - substitute pork for chicken). Sparkling Water.

10pm - Gluten-free blue corn chips. Salsa. Water.

11:45pm - Bedtime

Short post today, but more to come soon! Thanks for reading - love, health and harmony to you!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Clean Eating - Day 11

Greetings friends! I must first say thank you for everyone who read my post yesterday about WHY we eat. I had over 100 views and I'm so flattered!

Today I want to talk about pre and post-workout nutrition, at the request of my dear friend Brittany! (Thanks for the request!) The more you workout, the more important these factors are to allow your body to recharge and refuel.

Eating before a workout makes sense to most people - you need energy to work your hardest, right? However, many people don't think about WHAT they eat and WHY. Eating the wrong thing before a workout can make you sluggish, or even get in the way of the fat you want to burn.

PRE-CARDIO WORKOUT - If your workout is focusing on cardio, stay away from carbs. By fueling up on carbs in your bloodstream, your body burns those instead of the fat stores already in your body. Yikes! Some studies say that cardio on an empty stomach is the best way to burn fat, but I personally have never been able to workout on an empty stomach. If you're like me, find some protein to eat before your workout. I personally enjoy a protein shake. It's not too heavy in your stomach, and your body digests it faster because it's liquid. No matter what your workout contains, you don't want something to heavy in your stomach. Otherwise you might make a big gross mess at the gym. :)

PRE-WEIGHT TRAINING WORKOUT - Here's where some carbs come in. Eat some fast-digesting carbs like fruit to keep you from crashing in the middle of your workout.  Don't go crazy, but carbs will help you push yourself through your workout and build the most muscle possible. You still want protein as well, though! So again, if I'm going to be doing weight training, I'll do a protein shake with fruit mixed in to give me carbs as well. Or fruit with nuts is another great protein/carb combo. Remember, you don't want to eat too much.

**Here I must put a disclaimer. Ladies. Feminine Friends. Eves. Goddesses. PLEASE DO WEIGHT TRAINING. You will not bulk up like a body builder. I promise. It's almost impossible for women to do that, and those who do have to try extremely hard. Weight training is great for your joints, supports your bone structure to keep good posture throughout life, AND lean muscle raises your metabolism to make it easier to stay slim. Plus you look more toned and generally fit. It's not that hard - lift a few weights 2 days a week. Please. I PROMISE you won't regret it.

On to post-workout! A lot of people skip food after a workout, thinking they can "save" their calories for later in the day. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking can completely counteract the effects of your workout! Here's the breakdown: During a workout, your muscles get torn apart. Literally. After a workout, they start to rebuild themselves. But without proper supplies, they can't rebulid themselves correctly. Your body is depleted of its resources, and it needs new supplies to help the muscles. Without those supplies, your muscles won't rebuild, and you won't get the full benefits of your workout! And I don't know about you, but I don't spend time in the gym for fun - I want all the good things that a workout brings!

POST-WORKOUT: No matter what kind of workout you're doing, your muscles need protein to rebuild, and your body needs carbs to refuel. (Healthy carbs & protein, ya'll, not pancakes & bacon.) But you don't need to eat a lot! Think of it more as a refueling snack than a full meal. I enjoy Larabars, personally, because I go straight from the gym to work, and I don't have time to heat anything up. But find what works for you. When I used to come home after a workout, I might have an egg and a piece of toast. Also important - eat NO MORE THAN 60 minutes after your workout. It's best to eat within 30 minutes, but 60 minutes is the absolute max. Right after a workout, your body is most actively rebuilding your body during that time, and it will be most susceptible to nutrition then. You could eat later, but again, you won't be maximizing your workout.

The moral of the story is - give your body the nutrients it needs, especially around a workout. If you eat small, nutrient-dense meals pre & post workout, you really won't be taking in many more calories than a big breakfast would give you. (For those of you counting calories - between my shake & Larabar this morning, I took in about 600 calories. But I burned 450 in the gym.) And by eating around your workout, it keeps you from being ravenously hungry later in the day, when you're more likely to eat unhealthy things. For some more great information on pre & post workout nutrition, check out these sites:

Now, on to the food log.

6:20am - Wake up

6:45am - Berry Blast Shake (see day 5 and 6 for recipe)

7:15-7:45am - Workout

8:30am - Blueberry Muffin Larabar. Black coffee.

11:30-12:00pm - Mid-day Walk

12:00pm - Turkey sausage sauteed with spinach, bell peppers and onions. Water.

3:30pm - Orange. Almonds. Sparkling water.

7:30pm - Grill salmon seasoned to taste. Peach and corn salsa (see day 9 for recipe). Roasted asparagus. Water.

9:30pm - Bedtime!

I was SUPER tired yesterday for whatever reason. Maybe it was the workout, or maybe it was the fact that I had late nights the two nights prior. Regardless, I listened to my body and went to bed very early. I woke up the next day feeling amazingly refreshed. Sometimes, people, you just need sleep! Don't deny your body of it - it can have serious effects on your weight loss.

That's all for today! Love, health and harmony to you!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Clean Eating - Day 10

Welcome again friends!

Lots to discuss today before I get into my food log. Because of my late night last night, I did not get up a go to the gym this morning. (See what I mean by late snacking throwing a wrench in your whole sleep cycle and routine?) I was disappointed in myself that I stayed up so late - I knew at the time that I would regret it in the morning, but I just didn't feel tired at all.

I did go for my lunchtime walk today, as usual, even though I didn't really feel like it. It was cold outside, I was still a little tired, excuses, excuses. But I went. I left my purse at the office (so I didn't have to carry it around - it's big), took my phone just in case I got lost, and walked. And surprisingly, today was the FIRST day since starting this challenge that I had a true, sincere, unwarranted desire to just go eat unhealthy food. Yesterday at the movie theater, I wanted to eat popcorn out of habit. Watching football this weekend, I wanted a beer out of habit. Today I just - felt like being unhealthy. Felt like getting some un-nutritious food and saying "Who cares? Who will know?" I was very glad I had left my purse at the office, or I probably would have made an impulsive decision to go straight to the nearest place with french fries. I know you all are thinking, "Surely this is not the first time this has happened. Maybe she just didn't tell us before." But I'm completely serious. I thought this would happen days 2-5, not when I'm almost halfway through with this challenge. And I'm trying to figure out where it came from. Is it boredom? Do I feel like I should be rewarded for sticking to it this long? Am I just not having a good day and it's an emotional reaction? Maybe it's all of those things. Or maybe it's something WAY deeper than that.

When I was still doing Weight Watchers, I reached a point where I plateaued for awhile. I went to a meeting and asked my leader about it. She asked if I was following my plan. I said, "most of the time, I guess" and then she said something that blew my mind. "When you aren't on plan - why are you eating? Is it an emotional issue? Or an accountability issue?"
Such a simple question to start - WHY are you eating? I don't know about you, but I had never been asked a question like that in my whole life. I had never learned to think about food as something that needed a reason - it was just food! You wanted it, you took it. The idea that food was now this thing that that you should even need to think about was staggering. Even if she had just left it at that question, I would have had a lot to think about.

But THEN she followed with, "Is it an emotional issue? Or an accountability issue?" In more simple terms - are you eating because you feel (insert emotional here), or are you eating because you think it won't matter/no one will find out? What the leader didn't know is that I eat for BOTH of those reasons. I eat when I'm happy, sad, angry, bored, and depressed. A lot of people do this, but it is so important to REALIZE that you do it. Here's the bigger one for me: I also have a tendency the most unhealthy food when no one else is around to see me do it. In fact, I ENJOY eating unhealthy foods most when I am alone. Where this habit came from, I cannot tell you. I remember being a child (we're talking like 7 years old) and sneaking into the kitchen when my parents were asleep, taking candy from the secret stash, and eating it when no one is around. (Mostly I remember this because in my childhood brilliance, I would hide the candy wrappers in the couch cushions, thinking my parents were less likely to check there than the trash can. This is not true, for any of you who were planning to do it.) As a CHILD, I found it enjoyable to eat in secret.

And here we have the main reason for me writing this blog over the past 10 days. As most of you readers know I imagine, I'm a pretty proud person. Once everyone knows that I'm doing something, I'm going to keep doing it until I'm finished, no matter what happens. I don't like to back down from a commitment, and that's what I hoped this blog would be for me. Just ONE more way to hold myself accountable. Luckily, it has worked so far. And when I was walking around today, trying to figure out what made me want to cheat, I thought, "I should write about this." I'm sure I'm not the only one who deals with cravings that are seemingly unwarranted and definitely misunderstood. I hope that hearing me ramble about my experiences helps at least one of you.

Now, here's the food log for today:

7:45am - Wake-up

8:30am - Chocolate Banana Coffee Protein Shake (see day 8 for recipe) **Important - We got a new protein powder that is DELICIOUS. It is vanilla flavored, and it is much tastier than the one I posted about before. Plus it's reasonably priced. Sun Warrior Warrior Blend Raw Vegan Protein Powder, Vanilla Flavored. (They also have chocolate if you're interested!) Find it here:

11:30-12:00 - Mid-Day Walk

12:00pm - Chicken Fajita Salad (see day 1 for recipe)   Homemade Olive Oil & Lemon Dressing (also on day 1 post). Sparkling water.

6:00pm - Small serving of homemade chili (see day 7 for recipe). Blueberries. Sparkling water with lemon and lime slices.

9:30pm - Grilled Flank Steak, pico de gallo, refried black beans (no sugar added! Check the label before you buy!). Water.

11:45pm - Bedtime!

This was another late night because of my weekly Wednesday rehearsal. I ate less (and lighter) than I did last night so I wouldn't go to bed too late. I also snacked pre-rehearsal (6pm) so I wouldn't be too hungry when I got home. A small snack was enough to get me through rehearsal without being hungry. Plan ahead people! Make sure not to overeat, though!

That's all for today. But tomorrow is another day! Love, harmony & health to you!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Clean Eating - Day 9

Welcome back!

Today I want to talk about BALANCE! This is a VERY important feature in this kind of diet. Ryan and I have a made it point to bring variety to our recipes. We have chicken, fish, pork and red meat on the agenda. Obviously you don't want to get bored with what you're eating. But, it's ALSO important to make sure you're balancing your day. For example, we try not to have 2 meals of red meat in one day. You'll notice today we balanced red meat at lunch with fish for dinner. Yesterday we did the same with shrimp for lunch and red meat for dinner. The main reason is this - the more heavy meals you eat, the less likely you are to lose weight. Red meat is totally fine on this diet, but it's not something you should be eating every day for all meals. There are healthier, leaner meats that can make you feel just as full. And they will help you more on your weight loss journey. So basically the key is - variety & balance!

6:25am - wake-up

6:45am - Chocolate Mint Shake (see below for recipe)

7:15-7:45 - Workout (see below for details)

8:30am - Cashew Cookie Larabar. Water.

12:00pm - Leftover homemade chili (see day 8 for recipe) and cucumber salad (see below for recipe). Iced tea sweetened with stevia.

6:30pm - Grilled Salmon Fillets seasoned to your liking. Corn and peach salsa (see below for recipe). Grilled spinach. Water.

11:00pm - 2 gluten-free corn tortillas, fresh made salsa from HEB, 1 sliced avocado. Water.

1:00am - Bedtime

Chocolate Mint Shake- 1 serving of protein powder, 1 scoop of cocoa powder, 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1/2 cup coconut milk, chopped mint, cacao nibs (optional). We did not care for this shake. We kept adding stuff to try to make it better . . . but not to a lot of luck.

Workout - I had limited time in the gym so I made sure my heart rate was up the WHOLE TIME and I got some weight training in. I used the following workout model: 10 minutes on elliptical machine set on "interval" with resistance changing every 2 minutes to get heart rate up. 10 minutes of weights, 12-15 reps of each exercise, with little to no rest between: bicep curl, tricep pull down, lat pulldown, chest press, shoulder press with step-ups (step up on block/step/bench, then press weight above head with one arm. 12 reps, then switch leg & arm), row, chest fly, and 30 crunches on a stability ball. 10 minutes on stair master with the following pattern: 1 minute slow climb, 1 minute slow climb with glute kick backs (kick your leg straight back and squeeze your butt before stepping up), 1 minute slow climb, 1 minute high knees (raise knees up towards chest before stepping up), 1 minute slow climb, 1 minute sideways climb with left side forward (just what it sounds like - climb the stairs sideways. You should feel it in your hips & inner thighs), 1 minute slow climb, 1 minute sideways climb with right side forward. 5 minute cool down. Stretch. Burned about 400 calories in 30 minutes. Protip - By putting a little cardio before your weights, you ensure your heart rate will stay up so you're building muscle AND burning fat. Great for those with a time crunch!

Cucumber Salad -  1 cucumber, 1/4 onion, 2 tsp. white vinegar, 1 tsp. water, black pepper & salt to taste. Toss veggies in dressing and enjoy! I made mine the night before and it tasted great! I found this recipe online but it makes quite a few servings. I cut it down and modified it a little to make just one serving for me.

Corn and Peach Salsa - Pre-made pico de gallo (or you can make your own, it just takes longer), sliced peaches, sliced corn, lime juice. Mix. Serve cold.

So a few things to address before I sign off for the day. 1 - You'll notice I didn't snack between lunch and dinner. I just wasn't that hungry! Granted, I had a very filling lunch. But I also made sure to snack after my workout so I wasn't ravenously hungry when lunch came around. (I'll talk more about the importance of post-workout snacks another day.)

However, I DID snack around 11pm. I knew, even while fixing the snack, that this probably wasn't a good idea, but we had eaten dinner really early and then went to a movie. It was really hard not to snack during the movie, not because I was hungry, but because it was habit. Instead, we sipped on a sparkling water with lime slices. Luckily, the movie was a quote-along, and it was Pulp Fiction, so we didn't lack for things to do! So when we got home from the movie, I was kinda hungry and decided to have a snack. For some reason, I felt like I DESERVED it for turning down munchies at the movie theater. I have no idea where this mindset comes from, but I need to further investigate it. Because then, of course, I ate, my body got energy, and I was up until 1am. UGH. This is so important to remember - eating late makes you stay up later which messes with your whole sleep cycle. Just look at how long I was awake yesterday! That's not normal! So, IF you get the urge to snack at night, make sure it's a small snack. I bought some kernels to make homemade popcorn, and I think I may do that next time. Popcorn, especially when you season it yourself, is a great snack that makes you FEEL like you're eating a lot, without really taking in a lot of calories.

Today had some ups and downs, but I am still proud of myself (and Ryan!) for skipping out on the movie theater snacks. And I'm proud that I got a little workout in today!

Check back tomorrow! Love, harmony and health to you!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Clean Eating - Day 8

Hey friends!

Here we are in week 2. This week's focus (besides continuing the diet) - workouts! Unfortunately today, because of the fact that my boyfriend and I share a car and our schedules for the day, I could not make it to the gym. However, did I let that keep me from moving and burning extra calories? You best believe it did NOT!

This morning I had my first experience with the Austin area metro bus system. I took the bus to work like a true city dweller! Because I took the bus, I had to walk from my place to the bus stop, and then from the bus drop off stop to my work place. Overall, that added an extra 30 minutes or so of walking to my day. I still took my 30 minute walk at lunch, so between the two of them, I still burned more calories than I would in a "regular" day. And I can tell you now that I was hungrier than usual between lunch and dinner. I still ate a very filling lunch and had my usual shake for breakfast. But because I burned some extra calories, my body processed that food faster. I wasn't famished, but it was a good little indicator that I did a little extra work today. So let me restate AGAIN for all you who don't have a gym membership but want to make a change - every little bit helps. I promise!

Tomorrow I plan to put in a good sweat session at the gym!

Here's the food log for today:

7:30am - Chocolate Banana Protein Shake (see below for recipe)
20 minutes walking from home to bus
10 minutes walking from bus to work

12:00pm - Leftover Shrimp Cakes and Roasted Vegetables (see Day 7 post for recipes)
30 minute walking break at work

3:00pm - Blueberries, Almonds

7:00pm - Homemade Chili (see below for recipe)

9:00pm - Homemade Cucumber Chips (see Day 2 post for recipe)

Chocolate Banana Protein Shake - 1 serving protein powder, 2/3 cup coconut milk, 1/3 cup cold pressed black coffee (this is a coffee concentrate, if you use regular coffee use 1 cup), 1/2 a sliced banana, 1 tsp of cocoa powder. Add stevia if needed. We REALLY like this shake. It has a great sweetness and covers up the flavor of the protein powder really well.

Homemade Chili - 2 lbs. ground beef (93% lean), Carroll Shelby's Chili Kit, 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, 8 oz. can tomato sauce. Put in crock pot on high and cook for 3 hours or until desired taste. **Important to note that we left out the masa flour from the chili kit. This chili kit has all its spices separated into bags so you can choose to leave the flour out or not. Very handy! This made about 4.5 servings, and we topped it with freshly sliced onions. Super delicious! If you want to get creative, add some other freshly cut veggies like tomatoes or bell peppers. The best way to keep from getting bored is to get creative with your recipes!

That's all for today. If you have ANYTHING you specifically WANT me to blog about, please let me know! Leave a comment below, hit me up on facebook or shoot me a text. Til tomorrow - love, health & harmony to you!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Clean Eating - Day 7

Welcome back!

We are just about in week 2 of this little challenge. I'm 1/3 of the way through! That seems insane to me. I had some very real doubts in my head when I first started this thing. I thought I might make it 2 days. But shockingly, it has not been that hard.

About a year and a half ago, I tried the paleo diet to begin to prepare for my sister's wedding. For those of you that don't know, the paleo diet is based on our paleolithic ancestors. They ate foods that naturally exist without chemical additives. Basically, meat, vegetables, fruit, and nuts. So, it is basically what I am doing right now. However, the paleo diet is designed for long term sustainability. It allows things like honey, soy sauce, and wine in moderation. When I tried this diet, I would go about 4-5 days sticking to it, and then the weekend would hit and I would fall off the wagon. Mostly because of alcohol. Let me explain - it's not as though I would drink a ridiculous amount. BUT I would drink enough to make me think, "These potato chips are ok, right?!" And then it just went downhill from there. I really enjoyed the paleo diet. But the "in moderation" allowances just lead me down the wrong path. Which is why I decided to set strict guidelines for myself this time. Those of you that know me know how much I LOVE my wine. Don't think for a minute I am going to give it up forever!! But I definitely need to limit my intake, especially while I'm trying to lose weight. Once I get to a goal weight, maintaining it will be easier than losing (not easy, mind you, but easiER). Strict guidelines are what I need right now.

So anyway, when I was doing this paleo thing, I came across a bunch of delicious recipes. We've been using a lot of them already (turkey sausage & spinach scramble, sweet potato hash, chick fajita salad, chicken curry, crock pot pork loin). That has made it SO much easier to stay on plan. We're not eating baked chicken and broccoli every day. Who could do that every day? We are eating delicious things and we don't feel like we're depriving ourselves. That is always the secret to a diet that works. That's why so many people enjoy Weight Watchers! It allows you to make smart decisions and treat yourself in different ways. (Weight Watchers is something I have been successful on in the past. If you don't think this paleo diet will work for you, I highly suggest Weight Watchers.)

Now, on to the food log for the day:

7:00am - Wake Up

7:45am - Apple Cinnamon Protein Shake. Water.

11:30am - Larabar. Iced tea sweetened with stevia.

12-1pm - "Hiking" outside (I use the term hiking loosely. It was definitely hilly with rocky terrain. But there wasn't a mountain involved. As an east Tennessean, I feel like I must mention this.) Because of the hills, I got some interval training in this workout. Make sure you do something to get your heart rate spiking every few minutes when you're working out. A stagnant heartrate is not the most time efficient way to get your heart healthy or to burn calories. I'm ALL about time efficiency in the gym - who has 2 hours a day to spend??

1:30pm - Leftover meatballs and marinara sauce over spaghetti squash (see Day 5-6 post for recipe). Water.

6:30pm - Shrimp cakes & roasted vegetables. (See below for recipe). Water with lime wedges.

11:00pm - Bedtime

Shrimp cakes - This recipe is DELICIOUS. I highly recommend it. The more seafood you can eat on this diet, the better, because it's lower in fat and still amazing. It's kind of long to type out, so please check it out here: (This is a great online paleo cookbook resource, by the way!)

Roasted Vegetables - Chop mushrooms. Mince 1 clove of garlic. Saute in pan with olive oil over medium heat until mushrooms start to soften. Add 1 diced red or yellow bell pepper and 1 sliced zucchini. Saute until soft. Remove from heat, toss in chopped basil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve hot. (Feel free to use whatever vegetables you want! These are just suggestions.)

Starting today, I will be adding gym visits or walks/runs to my daily routine as much as possible. I'm shooting for at least 4 days per week. I'll be posting Keep checking back and stay tuned to what I'm doing!

That's all for today! Love health & harmony to you!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Clean Eating - Days 5 & 6

Hello everyone!! First - sorry for the extra long post today. Because of the weekend, I'm doubling up!

I have extremely exciting news!

I decided to get on the scale Friday morning and see how things have been going. I've been resisting the urge all week long, but since it was Friday, I thought it would be a nice treat for myself UNrelated to food. (More about this in a minute.)

On Sunday evening (November 3rd), before I started this challenge, I weighed 225.0 lbs.
On Friday morning (November 8th), after 4 complete days, I weighed 217.6 lbs.

For those of you who might be too much in shock to do the math (I know I was), that's 7.4 lbs in 5 days. WHAAAA??? I am completely flabbergasted and EXTREMELY motivated to continue this challenge now!! I was feeling so great before, I was honestly a little nervous to step on the scale. Those of you that have dieted before know what I mean - you're feeling great, following your diet exactly, you're excited to get on the scale . . .and you've lost like .6 lbs. But not today! I'm sure that the next two weeks may not be as drastic (though I do plan to add workouts next week), but it doesn't matter. Seeing those kind of results completely validates for me that this was absolutely the right thing for me to do.

In fact, it proves 2 things to me. #1 - I was even more unhealthy than I allowed myself to believe. #2 - We, as Americans, have been lied to (and are lying to ourselves) about what healthy food really is. I say this because - so many people believe "healthy food" = low calorie/low fat food. NOOOOOO. I have had plenty of high calorie/high fat things in the past week. Red meat, avocados, coconut milk, olive oil everywhere, raw nuts. Just because they are high in calories or fat doesn't mean you can't eat them! And additionally - healthy food is not the prepackaged protein shakes, diet meals, or meal replacement energy bars that you see in the health aisle at your grocery store. (Check the ingredients on these if you doubt me. I think you'll be surprised.) Healthy food is what exists in nature NATURALLY. That is what your body is designed to consume. Anything that has ingredients you can't pronounce or you've never heard of - is UNHEALTHY for your body no matter what this week's celebrity says. I'm not saying don't eat them ever - I'm saying be aware.

On to ways to treat yourself. (Cue Parks 'n Rec quotes.) I used to treat myself with food and rinks at the end of a good week, but this would often undo all of my hard work. When you're on a diet as strict as this, you have to find ways to reward yourself that are not tied to unhealthy foods. Even better, not tied to food at all! This week, since Ryan and I have done such a great job sticking to our diet and we are REALLY seeing results (Ryan has lost 9.5 lbs so far. GO RYAN!!), we decided to go to the movies. We went to Whole Foods, got healthy snacks so we wouldn't be tempted by popcorn, and brought in a sparkling water so we didn't get soda. (Yes, we snuck in food. Don't tattle on us!) Ryan got plantain chips with no added sugar. They were good! I went a little less healthy, but still following the diet. I was SUPER impressed with this product: Bearitos Veggie Puffs.
These are organic corn puffs, flavored with oil, salt, parsley and spinach. Are they the most nutrient-dense thing in the world? No. Are they better than movie theater popcorn or cheeto puffs? Most definitely. If you need a snack like this, check out your local Whole Foods/Central Market/Earth Fare or organic grocery store for healthy options that make you feel like you're cheating without actually doing so.

Here's my food log for Friday and Saturday:

Friday 11/8/13
7:30am - Wake Up!

8:15am - Apple Cinnamon Protein Shake (see day 2 for recipe). Coffee with cinnamon sprinkles.

12:00pm - Crock Pot Chicken Curry leftovers (see day 4 for recipe). 1 medium orange. Water.

3:00pm - Blueberry Muffin Larabar. (see day 1 for more on larabars). Sparkling water with lemon & lime slices.

7:00pm - oven roasted sweet potato hash with red onions and peppers, 2 eggs.

9:30pm - Veggie Puffs. Sparkling water.

12:00pm - Bedtime!

Saturday 11/9/13
9:45am - Wake Up!

10:30am - Berry Blast Shake (see below for recipe).

1:30pm - Baked chicken breast, leftover chicken curry sauce, leftover sweet potato hash. Water.

7:00pm - Homemade meatballs in marinara sauce over spaghetti squash (see below for recipe). Sparkling water with lime & lemon.

9:30pm - strawberries and pineapple slices. Sparkling water with lime & lemon.

11:30pm - Bedtime

Berry Blast Shake Recipe - 1 serving of protein powder, 1 cup mixed frozen berries, 1/3 cup of canned coconut milk, 1/2 cup water.

Meatballs in marinara sauce - Ryan found this recipe for meatballs at and they were quite good. Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place 1 lb. ground veal, 1 lb. ground pork, 3/4 lb. ground beef, 1/2 cup almond flour (or coconut flour), 4 cloves minced garlic, 1 1/2 tsp. of dried basil, 1 1/2 tsp. dried parsley, 1 tsp. dried organo, 2 tsp. sea salt, 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper, 1 tsp. red pepper flakes & 3 large eggs beaten into a bowl. Combine lightly with fork. Form mixture into golf-ball sized portions with hands. Place on baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes. Add to heated sauce and let marinate for an additional 45-60 minutes. We found an organic marinara sauce with no added sugar, but here's the link to cindy's instructions, which also includes a homemade sauce recipe if you prefer: Also, we prefer our marinara sauce over spaghetti squash, but there are gluten-free noodle options now. To cook a spaghetti squash, slice in half, deseed, brush with olive oil. Place face down on a baking pan and cook in the oven at 350 for 40 minutes. Scrape squash out with a fork when done (it should come out easily.)

Saturday was a bit of a challenging day. It's football day, and I desperately wanted some beers while watching Tennessee get slaughtered (boo). Then we had some friends come in from out of town, and we made dinner for them while hanging out at the house. Our friends were drinking, and I was sorely tempted to join. BUT Ryan and I both stayed strong and managed to stay on program. YAY! I hope that the next two weekends will get a little easier, but we shall see what they bring. Regardless, if we can do it once, we can do it again.

More to come soon! Love, health & harmony to you all!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Clean Eating - Day 4

Greetings readers!

I have to start with saying I am amazed at all the people who have reached out to me because of this blog. It's very flattering that so many of you (over 80 views yesterday!) are paying attention to what I'm doing right now. Thank you a million times!

I've mentioned in one of my previous posts that I have started a workout regimen yet. HOWEVER - I want to say that I have been trying to move more. I think that sometimes, those of us who have a lot of weight to lose, start to think of working out as this HUGE PROJECT that requires hours of commitment and sweat and constant soreness. When really, that's not necessarily the case. Weight loss is all about burning more calories, so anything you can do to get yourself up and moving more is a great step forward. Don't get me wrong - if you have the motivation to go to the gym for 2 hours a day, do it!! (As long as you're not over-exerting yourself or hurting yourself in any way.) But if you, like most people, dread the gym, do what works for you. This week, I have been taking short walks on my lunch break at work. I always bring my lunch to work, to avoid temptation from ordering at restaurants (also I'm broke because I just started this job, so there's that). And I have an hour to eat, which is far more than I need. So, in the first half of my lunch break, I explore the neighborhood around my office for about 20 minutes. Just walk at a normal pace and enjoy the scenery and the weather. Granted, this isn't possible for everyone. I'm lucky to work in a nice, safe, beautiful neighborhood with old houses that is close to the U of Texas campus. I'm also lucky to live in a state where November is a beautiful month to be outside. Plus, I sit at a desk the rest of the day so it's exceptionally great for my state of mine to move around for awhile. So maybe that's not the answer for you. But can you find something outside of the box to get you moving? Maybe you climb the stairs at your house a couple of times in the morning. Maybe you play Wii Fit/Xbox Kinect with your kids and make that a habit to do each day. Maybe you play with your dog or cat for an extra few minutes. Find something that works for you! And don't be overwhelmed by the workout monster!

Here's the food log:

7:15am - Wake up

8:00am - Apple Cinnamon Protein Shake (see Day 2 post for recipe). Coffee sweetened with stevia.

12:00pm - Turkey sausage sauteed with pico de gallo, onions and spinach. Topped with 1/2 an avocado. Water.

4:30pm - Mixed berries, about 20 almonds. Water.

7:00pm - Crock pot Curry Chicken (see below for recipe). Sparkling water with lemon slices.

11:15 - Bedtime!

Crock pot Curry Chicken - If you haven't noticed, I'm a BIG fan of crock pot recipes. I think they are the saving grace for all working people. Just toss stuff in in the morning, set it on low, and let it cook all day! Here's the trick to this recipe - put 1 lb. of chicken (I suggest frozen chicken. This keeps the chicken from drying out but also requires less work! If you use raw chicken, cook it for less time, 4-5 hours max), 1-2 tbsp olive oil, 2-3 tbsp of curry powder and 1/2 can of coconut milk. Set on low and cook for 6-8 hours. Don't worry, it won't be burned over overdone. It also won't be undercooked. I say this because the BF has little trust in crock pots. Everytime he cooks in one he's like "Should I brown the meat first? What about the vegetables?" In our generation of quick fixes and immediate options, I realize crock pots seem strange. But trust in the crock pot. TRUST IN THE CROCK POT!! When you get home from work, add whatever fresh veggies you like, and as much of them as you like. We put green beans, broccoli and onion. Add salt, pepper, red pepper and hot sauce to taste. Cook all this together for about an hour, and voila! You have homemade curry. (You can also put frozen veggies in, if you don't have fresh ones, but they may have to cook a little longer.) I say to add the vegetables later because you want them to absorb the flavor of the curry, but not become mushy. You could put this over a little bit of brown rice if you want, but I like it as is.

Day 4 was a really great day. I had a ton of energy today and hardly ever felt hungry. It's shocking how quickly my body is adjusting to this diet. I noticed that after I ate my fruit I got a sugar rush. My body is already not used to having sugar - even natural sugars from fruit will make me hyper!! That seems insane to me. Before, I could drink a coffee loaded with sugar and hardly notice the affects. No longer! I also expected to be hungry later on in the evening since I ate earlier, but I really didn't at all. Late night snacking was always a huge pitfall of mine so it's amazing that those cravings are starting to disappear.

That's all for today! Looking forward to writing something for you all tomorrow and for the next 17 days!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Clean Eating - Day 3

Those of you who have been following my blog over the past few days as I documented my "clean eating foods" may be wondering - what made me decide to do this diet?

Quite honestly, it came from me being unemployed, sitting around, and watching too much HuluPlus. HuluPlus, unlike Netflix, has commercials during their shows. I kept seeing this commercial for a website called, which was offering a 30 day free trial, so I decided to check it out. This website basically lets you design a workout plan that you can do at home, and gives you a different workout each day so you don't get bored. When you first sign up, you get to choose what kind of workout plan you want, though you can always go back and change it. They have dance, yoga, weights - pretty much everything you could want. Most everything requires minimal to no equipment, so even beginners with no workout equipment in their home can find something to get them moving. Pretty cool, right? I certainly thought so. I signed up for the 30-day free trial pretty quickly. Even after the 30 days, it's only $10 per month which is DEFINITELY less than you would pay at a gym, especially if you are smart and split these workouts with your significant other/roommate/friend. Now, my laziness took over, and I haven't actually used any of their workouts. BUT I would imagine, with so much variety, there's gotta be something that works. Right? I'll get back to you when I know more . . . or post comments if you've tried it and let me know what you think!

That leads us to the diet plan. On, there is a nutrition plan that coincides with their workouts. You can add it to your membership for an extra $5 per month. That's where I saw the idea of a 21-day challenge. They call gluten, dairy, soy, added sugar, artificial sugar and alcohol the "Evil 6." At least for the 21-day period. They even say that after that period, you can start adding those things into your diet occasionally. Key word being occasionally. That is where I've been getting my protein shake recipes as well. (They also suggest that you buy their protein powder, which is quite pricey. I'm guessing this is where they make the bulk of their $$. But if you check my Day 2 post you can find a much cheaper version of protein powder that offers the same benefits. Only tradeoff - their powder is flavored chocolate or vanilla, and the other one I found is not. Your choice!)

Why do they choose these 6 things to eliminate? Basically, American diets are extremely heavy with all 6 of these things, and it's caused our bodies to overreact to them. The "evil 6" might once have been healthy things (ex. wheat & milk) but have since been so over-processed or genetically modified because of the high demand level, they now carry very few nutrients. A large amount of these 6 things in any diet often leads to problems such as inflammation, digestive trouble, and extra stress hormones (which nobody wants!). You know that "celiac disease" or "gluten-intolerance" that everyone has been talking about lately? It's developed recently (or at least, started to be recognized by the medical community recently) because so many people are having negative reactions to genetically altered wheat products. Lactose intolerance has been known for a long time. Our bodies are smarter than you think - they figured out "this is bad for us" and tried to fight digesting these foods, making a person sick. Now, things like added sugars & alcohol, we've always known that these weren't "healthy," and limiting your intake of them has always made good sense. It's just not something I've ever had the desire or willpower to do before!

I will willingly admit that I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or even super well researched on this subject, but I CAN say that this makes a lot of sense to me. If you have thoughts or rebuttals to any of these things I've said above, please make a comment below so we can discuss it! Or better yet, try eliminating these foods from your diet for like, 2 days, and tell me you don't feel better. You will have more energy. You won't get tired at 2pm like I used to do EVERY DAY. (It happened so often, I called it my 'sleepytime.') You won't carb crash, because the carbs you're taking in are healthy and you're eating far fewer of them. Your digestive system will be far more regular. You will sleep more soundly and feel well rested in the morning. If you don't - you might be doing it wrong. After just 3 full days of this, I already feel slimmer, more energetic, healthier and generally the way a 27 year old girl should feel. The The crazy thing is? I was SO USED to feeling crappy, bloated and tired that I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW IT WAS THE WRONG WAY TO FEEL. I thought I was just getting older, or overweight. I still am overweight, but I can tell you I do not feel the same as I did 3 days ago. I didn't know how extensively food can affect your entire well being, because I had been eating this food my whole life. And that's convincing enough for me.

I'm going to hop off the soap box now, but I really mean it when I say - comment if you have thoughts. I wanna hear 'em.

Here's food for day 3:

7:15am - Wake up

8:00am - Apple Cinnamon Protein Shake (see below for recipe). Black coffee.

11:30am - Pot Roast Pork Loin (see Day 2 for recipe), grilled yellow squash with olive oil & seasonings, brown rice (Yes, brown rice is ok to eat sparingly. That means not every day, or even every other day.) Iced tea, unsweetened.

4:30pm - Mixed berries, about 20 almonds. Water.

9:30pm - Egg scramble with turkey sausage, pico de gallo, salsa, bell peppers and avocado. Sparkling water with lime.

11:45 - Bedtime!

For anyone wondering why I ate dinner so late, I had a rehearsal that went until 9, so I wasn't able to eat until about 9:30. I planned on eating a snack before I left my day job at 6, but I wasn't hungry at the time, so I decided not to. This was probably a mistake, but I used to overeat all the time trying to fend off hunger, and I didn't want to make that mistake again. I did survive until 9:30 but I was a bit grumpy. In the future I won't be making this mistake!

Apple Cinnamon Protein Shake Recipe (I like this one better than the chocolate one I had the previous day!) - 2 scoops (or 1 serving) of protein powder, 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce, 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 cup water.

I think that's it for today! THANK YOU for reading and supporting me in this journey!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Clean Eating - Day 2


Before I go into my food list for Day 2, I want to talk a little bit about why I haven't mentioned a work out plan for this diet. First of all, it's completely fine if you do work out. This diet is not about limiting your calorie intake, so you can work out as thoroughly as you like. Just make sure you are taking in some nutrients both before and after your workout to refuel your body. Ryan and I both very much want to get to the gym. But, we decided to just focus on our food intake this week. It's such a drastic change for us, we really wanted to give the diet a week to settle in before we added the complication of pre and post workout food. That was just our decision - you do what's best for you!

I'm also including my wake-up/bedtimes because the diet suggests you eat within 60 minutes of waking up, and finish eating 3 hours before you go to bed. And make sure you're getting 8 hours in between.  I'm cutting it close in all of those aspects, which is something I need to work on!

Now, here's the list of my Day 2 foods for your inspection:
November 5, 2013

7:00am - Rise and Shine!

8:00am - chocolate protein shake (see below for recipe)

12:00pm - chicken fajita salad (see post on Clean Eating - Day One for recipe) with olive oil & lemon dressing.  Iced tea, unsweetened.

3:30pm - about 20 almonds, grapes, blueberries. Water.

7:00pm - slow cooker pork loin (see below for recipe). Sparkling water with lemon slices.

9:30pm - cucumber chips (see below for recipe)

11:30pm - Bedtime

Chocolate Protein Shake Recipe: 2 scoops protein powder of your choice, 1/3 cup coconut milk, 8 oz. coffee, 2 scoops of cocoa powder, 1 stevia. **Important - I had to work pretty hard to find a gluten, dairy and soy free protein powder. I did finally find one By Naturade called "Soy-Free Veg Protein Booster" blend, made from peas & beans mostly. You can find it on if your grocery store doesn't supply it.

Slow Cooker Pork Loin Recipe: This is a great, easy, filling recipe that makes a TON of food. You can eat leftovers for days or freeze a few portions. It's super simple - put about 3 lbs. of pork loin, 4 cups of chopped cauliflower, 2 cups of chopped zucchini, and 12 oz. of tomato sauce in a crock pot. Add some rosemary, thyme, or Italian seasoning (or all 3 if you're feeling particularly spicy). Put on low and cook for 6-7 hours. When it's done, season to your liking. You can put this with brown rice, sliced vegetables, or just eat it by itself with some hot sauce. It's very filling, so just find your favorite spice combination and enjoy!

Cucumber Chips: This is a brand new recipe I tried today and I was VERY impressed. Skin a cucumber, and slice into thin rounds. Be careful how thick/thin your slices are - thicker slices will take longer to cook but will hold up better if you want to use them for dips. Thinner slices will take less time to cook, but you'll have to eat them solo. Also, you run the risk of burning them, so be careful. Coat the cucumber chips in olive oil and salt to your liking. Place on a baking sheet and cook at 200 for at least an hour. Here's where the thickness of your slices come into play - my thicker slices took 2.5 hours, thinner slices about an hour. If you have a food dehydrator, you can also use that.
I have to say that the BF was a little dubious about this recipe, not being a fan of cucumbers in the first place. But he LOVED them. He literally said I could cook them everyday if I wanted. They really are a great substitute if you're like me and crave salty, crunchy things at night.

Day 2 was a generally good day, although I did experience a pretty sharp headache at around 4pm. I don't think it was a caffeine headache, as I had coffee and tea yesterday. I think it may have been my body going through a slight detox from lack of sugar, but that's just my best guess. It didn't last too long, but it certainly wasn't pleasant. Also, people brought community donuts AND fried chicken into my office today and it took all my willpower to resist. But I did! Protip: When you smell something delicious that you're not allowed to eat, find something healthy to munch on. I dug in to my fruit and almonds a little earlier than usual to keep intense hunger at bay, which kept me from eating badly.

That was Day 2! Check back tomorrow for more updates and thank you for reading! I was completed amazed to see that over 50 people read my last post in less than 24 hours. WOW! I'm so flattered and I hope that all of you get something out of this blog! I know I certainly do. Love & harmony to you!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Clean Eating - Day 1

Hello friends, followers and fellow bloggers!

I am sad to notice that it has been over a year and a half since my last post. The last time I posted here, I was about to run a half marathon. I'm proud to say I did complete that half marathon, and it was an amazing experience. I didn't do it in an impressive amount of time (it was just shy of 3 hours), but I did finish that race and I'm still very proud of that accomplishment. It's something I will never forget.

On the flip side, I have been in a slump for the last year. I haven't been working out regularly, and I certainly haven't been eating to compensate for that. There are a lot of reasons for this, but they seem like only excuses at this point. I'm disappointed in myself for letting all the hard work that I did to become healthier slip away.

So, I am taking new steps to improve my health and quality of life. Starting yesterday, my sweet boyfriend and I are embarking on a 21-day clean eating challenge. This means: no gluten, no dairy, no soy, no sugar, no artificial sweeteners, and no alcohol. For 3 weeks. We know that it is going to take a lot longer than 3 weeks to get where we want to be, but we want this to be our kick start project.

Here's some background on why we decided to go this route. I often struggle with making good food choices - in my opinion, it is the hardest thing about losing weight. I find it much easier to go to the gym than to say no to chips or a few beers. In fact, I'm that person that says "I worked out today, so I can eat all this cheese (substitute your favorite guilty pleasure food here)!" So, by making a concrete decision to avoid those foods for awhile, I think it will force me to make good food decisions, and hopefully teach my body (and brain) to crave healthy things instead of unhealthy ones. After these 21 days, it is my personal hope that we can follow this clean eating diet 80% of the time. You cannot go through life denying yourself of everything all the time - it just doesn't work in the long term. But by following the rules most of the time, and indulging yourself on occasion, you can keep a healthy (and sane) lifestyle. There were also MANY things I read about the benefits of clean eating, but I will save those for another blog. BECAUSE ....

Over the next 21 days I will be posting EVERYTHING I EAT RIGHT HERE. I'm doing this for two important reasons. 1 - to hold myself accountable. 2 - to hopefully give someone who might be considering a clean eating diet some food ideas (recipes will be included). At the end of the 21 days, I will also post an update on how my body changed with weight and measurements. Cool? Ok - here we go!

Monday, November 4
7:00am - rise and shine!

8:00am - 2 scrambled eggs with salsa (made fresh by HEB, NOT from a bottle!), salt and pepper. Coffee sweetened with stevia. (If you don't know about stevia, it's a totally natural sweetener that is not sugar, so it is ok to use on this diet! It's awesome!)

11:30am - chicken fajita salad. Grilled chicken with grilled onions & bell peppers, seasoned with cumin, oregano, salt and peper. Serve over lettuce with 1/2 an avocado. Homemade dressing - olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, dry mustard. Full recipe here: Water.

3:00pm - Cappuccino larabar. Carbonated water with 2 slices of lime. (Larabars are an amazing invention - they're in the nutrition aisle of your grocery store, most likely, with all the granola bars & protein bars. But they're made of JUST fruit and nuts, sometimes raw chocolate depending on the flavor you choose. Certainly preferable to most protein bars that have a bunch of processed stuff in them. The cappuccino one has the following ingredients: dates, almonds, cashews, fair trade coffee & vanilla extract, for about 200 calories. They are a great easy snack that requires no prep from you. May I also suggest the blueberry muffin, banana bread, and peanut butter cookie flavors.)

6:00pm - grapes, strawberries, about 20 almonds. Water.

9:00pm - 6 ounces of baked salmon, seasoned to your liking. Spaghetti squash. Asparagus with lemon juice and olive oil. Water.

11:30pm - bed!

As a side note - my boyfriend (Ryan) has to work late a few days this week, which is why we had such a late dinner. Ideally, I would like to eat much earlier than this. I also want to state for the record that overall throughout the day I had energy and did not feel excessively hungry. I did get a little tired about 8:00pm, but I think that's due to the fact that we ate later than we normally would.

And that's it! Leave your comments & questions below if you feel so inclined!