The Glass is Almost Totally Full! and Challenge Catch Up

I am an optimist.  It has mostly served me well in my life.  I say ‘mostly’ because I can think of a few instances where it hasn’t…like believing that people are always good, nobody will ever hurt me, and nothing bad could possibly happen.  I’ve been wrong a few times about those things.  But overall I’d say I’m right most of the time.  I like to give people the benefit of the doubt.  Actually, I have no choice.  I’m a die-hard optimist.

I was thinking about this today in terms of health and nutrition.  Here’s how an optimist looks at these particular goals: I like to think of what I CAN eat, as opposed to what I CAN’T.  As you know I’m participating in this cleaner eating challenge, and when I look at the pictures I’m taking, I can’t help but think how pretty and delicious everything looks.  It doesn’t seem like a sacrifice at all to me when I GET to eat all of that yummy food.  I go to the store with a different mindset.  I’m looking for what I can have, and not begrudging what I can not have. I come home with bags of fruits and veggies and other healthy foods. I get excited to cook new recipes and try new foods.  Maybe I’m weird.  Ya, probably.  😉

For exercise, I like to think of what I CAN do, and not what I CAN’T.  Maybe not everyone can, or wants to try, to run.  So, what CAN you do?  Can you walk?  I bet you can.  Maybe not everyone has weights in their house.  Can you do push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups (there are a lot of “ups” here that require only your body as weight) squats, lunges, etc? I bet you can.  Maybe you can’t go to the gym, but do you own a DVD player?  I’ve got some awesome workouts I could recommend to you.  And they’re FUN, too!  You see where I’m going here.  Start with what you CAN do.  Focus on what you CAN eat. Your mindset will change, and so will your habits. You’ll be on your way to eternal optimism. Well…maybe. 🙂

Who would think that they could start a new health and fitness business at 40?…Me! But this one was kind of a no-brainer for me.  I love to workout.  I enjoy eating healthy foods. And I LOVE to talk.  That just about sums up my new job.  These are things I most definitely CAN do.  🙂

So here are my weekend Clean Eating Challenge pictures and a couple of recipes:

 Nothing remarkable on Day 5, except I learned how to make my own “almost” fat free coffee cream.  Want the recipe? Click here:   Oh, and the pretty green drink is a spinach, kale, strawberry, pineapple smoothie that was delicious!  Seriously, don’t knock it til you try it.

Day 6 looked like this:

  This was my “cheat” day, well sort of.  I ate really clean during the day and then it was “Ladies Night Out”.  So for dinner I splurged on 2 small pieces of veggie pizza and a salad with a little drizzle of raspberry vinaigrette dressing…oh…and 2 vodka tonics :o. Ladies night out doesn’t happen very often, so I forgave me.

Day 7 looked like this:

 I had a big salad for lunch, with lots of veggies and 1/2 of a very lean turkey burger sliced on top. Raw almonds are an excellent snack to keep in the house. I had mine with half of a honey crisp apple and a tall glass of water and felt very full.  Dinner was so yummy, I’ll have to share the recipe.  I made a spinach, ricotta (low-fat), tomato frittata.  It was delicious!  Recipe here:  (I added tomatoes to mine, but it wasn’t part of the original recipe).

So there you go!  What CAN you do today?

Cleaner Eating Challenge, Day 4

Yesterday was Day 4. Does this look like sacrifice people?  I keep waiting for it to get harder, but I think it’s actually getting easier.  I know my ‘weak’ times, and I avoid missteps by planning ahead and having healthier, cleaner alternatives to the quick, easy, mindless snacks I would have typically been grabbing for during those times of day.

So everyday, all year round, starts with a Christmas mug-o-coffee.  That’s a given.  After my workout, which was TurboFire 45 (the most funnest workout ever!) I had my Shakeology (yawn…haven’t we done this before?).  Hey, I’m a creature of habit, what can I say?  I think we all stick with what works.  This is one of the fast, convenient foods that takes the place of junk alternatives or food that requires a little more prep time.

I love a good salad!  This one was delicious!  It was romaine, tomatoes, reduced fat feta cheese, sweet peppers, onion, avocado, craisins, almonds plus homemade dressing (1 T. olive oil & 1 T. balsamic).  I threw this in a “to go” container and ate it while I was waiting for the kids to finish a class.

I was a little hungry when I came home, so Ezekiel toast, almond butter and 1/2 banana to the rescue!  I made a tasty chicken, pea pod, pepper, pineapple (lot of p’s!) for dinner and had mine with a side of quinoa instead of rice.  It was so filling!  I love warm pineapple!  Something about it just makes me happy.  🙂

I was way low on calories so I had a bowl of popcorn for a snack after dinner.  I even popped it in a little oil and put a little real butter on top.  Everything in moderation, right?  My calories still came in slightly on the low side for the day, but I didn’t feel hungry at all.  Eating 5-6 smaller meals during the day is really key to keeping your metabolism going as well as staying on top of your appetite.  You know how they say that if you ‘feel’ thirsty, you’re already getting somewhat dehydrated.  Well, if you ‘feel’ hungry, that’s when you grab for food that’s not always your best choice.  Keep yourself hydrated and fed throughout the day to avoid disaster!  And download a slick app like My Fitness Pal to help you track your calories throughout the day.  If you don’t know how many calories you should be shooting for each day, go to www.freedieting.com and use the handy calorie calculator to figure out your daily calorie goal.  Once you get the hang of it, it’s a piece of cake…well maybe that’s a bad comparison!  It’s a piece of fruit! 😉

Stir fry recipe here:

Clean Eating Challenge, Day 3

Yesterday morning I awoke to such a glorious smell…I lept out of my bed with delight and anticipation of the coming glories of the day. Well…not exactly, but you get the idea. Anyone who knows me also knows that there sure isn’t any ‘leaping out of  bed’ in the morning. Mornings and I have never really gotten along. But, yesterday was a little better. The night before I had plopped all the fixin’s for apple cinnamon steel-cut oatmeal into my crock pot, and that wondrous little machine cooked my breakfast for me while I slept! The kids really enjoyed the oatmeal, too.  As a matter of fact, 5 out of 6 Hunts agree: this recipe is a winner! You can make Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal, too!  Click here if you’d like the recipes.

For lunch I had some Un-refried bean burritos (I told you that recipe makes a ton!) with avocado slices, reduced fat cheese and homemade salsa. I had Shake0logy for an afternoon snack and some fuel before my workout.  I lifted pretty heavy, and today I’m walking a little funny, I’m not gonna lie to you.  That just means I did it right.  🙂

For dinner I grilled up some Costco Extra Lean Turkey Burgers (only 200 calories) and made baked sweet potato french fries.  I used sweet potatoes from the farm. They were SO delicious!  I could have eaten a lot more just because they tasted so darn good, but I didn’t need to.  This was a very satisfying meal!  Sometimes, if I just take my time and enjoy every little bite, I find that I’m content with just 1 serving.  I once heard that it takes your brain about 15 minutes to register that your stomach is full.  Do me a favor and DON’T shove the food in quickly in an attempt to fool your brain.  It’s not a smart strategy.

Later on, I needed a little snack so I toasted up some Ezekiel bread, spread it with natural almond butter and had an organic dark chocolate square on the side.  I really was totally satisfied all day.  It’s amazing what mindful eating does for your daily diet.  It’s funny, because I now know what my ‘weak times’ are.  When the kids start reaching for snacks in the afternoon, that’s when I would typically grab a handful of whatever it is they took out of the pantry:  a few chips, crackers or pretzels.  Not that any of those things would put me over the edge, but it’s processed food that my body doesn’t need, especially if I had planned ahead and ate accordingly.  🙂  Day 3 is done…only 27 more to go.  I’ve got this!

Clean Eating Challenge, Day 2

    So Here is what yesterday looked like.  I did a jumping, kicking, sweating, calorie-torching workout in the morning which I believe made me feel a little hungrier throughout the day.  So in short, Day 2 was a little more challenging than Day 1.

I started the day with Santa Claus and coffee; I seriously need some giant coffee mugs that aren’t so seasonally inappropriate. So, I was getting ready for my workout when I realized that there is no way I would make it through the entire thing without food.  So I quick grabbed a half of a banana that one of the kids left on the counter and sloppily spattered it with some natural almond butter.  I also had a glass of water, but by the end of the workout, I was grossing myself out with my growling and sloshy stomach noises.  I came up and made myself a quick Shakeology to take the edge off.

For lunch I made one of my favorite salads:  Greek salad complete with chick peas, pickled beets, farm tomatoes and onions and a little leftover grilled chicken breast. I make my own dressing with 1 T. of olive oil, 1 T. of red wine vinegar and a few shakes of oregano. I don’t miss store-bought dressing.  Seriously!

For a snack I cut up a honey crisp apple and mixed up some chocolate PB2 for dipping.  That one always hits the spot.

So on to dinner.  I had some Un-refried beans that I had done up in my crock pot.  I love this recipe.  It makes a ton and it’s so easy to slap some beans in a tortilla for quick tacos/bean burritos.  They freeze well, too! The kids like to put them on tortilla chips with some cheese and make nachos.  I made mine with whole wheat tortillas, some slivers of avocado, a little reduced fat cheese and homemade salsa. They were super deelish!

Click here for the UN-refried beans recipe.

For a snack later on, I had some green tomatoes on the counter that I dipped in egg whites, then in a cornmeal/seasoned breadcrumb/garlic powder mixture and cooked them up in a tsp. of olive oil until they were tender on the inside and crispy/golden on the outside.  I set them on some Ezekiel toast triangles, and they were quite tasty! My darling husband begged to differ.  His palate is not as refined as mine, I guess. 😉

Before I went to bed last night I put steel-cut oats into my crock pot with some cut up apples and cinnamon.  Oh boy…I can’t wait to tell you about that!

Keeping it Clean!

So, I decided to participate in a 30 Day “Cleaner Eating” Challenge group and see how I do.  This picture represents all of my meals, snacks and caloric beverages for the day.  It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but then again, it was only day one after all.  I won’t have a problem with breakfast or lunch.  I almost always grab a smoothie or Shakeology in the morning, and have a salad for lunch, plus a healthy snack or 2 in between.  It’s dinner that will be a little more challenging.  I have 4 kids with varying tastes to cook for and I’m not sure they’re entirely on board with this whole clean-eating concept.  I think there will be times that I’ll be making myself something different for dinner, but I’m going to try hard to find some kid friendly recipes, too.

So “What is clean eating?” you ask.  Maybe you didn’t ask, but I’ll answer anyway.  Clean eating is based on removing all processed foods from your diet and focusing more on veggies, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins. So for me that means: no white flour, rice or sugar, no processed/refined foods, no fast food, no preservatives, limited alcohol, limited dairy. Make sense? I’d say I was about 80% of the way there before the challenge. Now I’m all in. 🙂

Yesterday I had to go go go…so I needed quick and easy meals and snacks.  I had my Shakeology for breakfast.  Then I made a quick microwave egg, slapped it on some Ezekiel bread (look it up…it’s good stuff) with spinach and tomato.  I grabbed a small apple and a string cheese for  the road.  For dinner I grilled up some chicken breasts and had quinoa and steamed broccoli and cauliflower for sides. Surprise surprise…even the kids loved it!  My problem was that after dinner I was still about 350 calories away from what I should be getting for the day.  So I toasted up another slice of Ezekiel bread, spread it with some natural almond butter and threw in a square of organic dark chocolate (REALLY dark).  I was pretty close to may calorie goal, and full.  I called it a day.

And there you have it.  Day 1 is in the books, and it was a snap.  Check with me in 30 days and see if I’m still ‘snapping’.

Best Friends Forever…For REAL!

If you know me well, you’re either one of the ladies in these pictures, or you know that these are some of my favorite people in the whole world.  This post is dedicated to them.

I have known a few of them since I was about 4 years old, in preschool.  Others I met along the way, but we’ve all been friends for at least 30 years.  That’s crazy right!?  I am so lucky to have these wonderful girls in my life, I literally thank my lucky stars for them every day.  When I am with them, I am all me.   There’s no need to pretend to be anything else, because they would know better anyway.  I can count on them to be there in the best of times and the absolute worst of times. And Lord knows we’ve had our shares of both!  

I look so forward to the times we spend together.  We’ve had a lot of adventures.  Our most recent adventure was a 40th birthday celebration trip to Jamaica. Despite the unfortunate snorkeling incident it was the most fun I’ve had in…well…honestly, I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed that hard for that long!  Talk about an ab workout: four solid days of giggling!  Sure, the all-inclusive trips to the bar might have played a role, but I think we’d all like to think that we were the funniest 8 ladies that ever stepped foot on the island.

We go camping with our whole families every summer, and it’s such a blast the kids start counting the days til we go again the very day that we get home.  Our husbands might have a different analysis of the annual camping trip, but they are good sports about it, because they know how important it is to us.  

When I decided to take up this new fitness business, guess who were the first to congratulate me, offer support and ask for my advice?  As a result, 6 of us are embarking on a 30 day fitness challenge together, along with some other amazing  friends and family members. I know that with support from each other…success is not only possible, but inevitable.   And when it happens (not if it happens) there will be great joy and celebration!  In other words…party!  Which means…I’ll get to hang with my bff’s very soon!

These ladies are blessings in my life.  I feel so lucky, at my young age :), to be in such a great place in my life right now.  This fitness business has really made me sit back and take stock of who I am, who I want to be, where I am and how I made it here.  I made it here with a little help from my friends…no doubt about it.  And not a day goes by that I don’t think of them and appreciate them for the impact they’ve had on my life.  I love them as dearly as you could love a friend.  And now I’m feeling a little weepy, and oh…here come the tears…

Do you have a best friend, how bout 8? Call one or two today, and tell them how much they mean to you.  Grab the tissues first.  🙂

Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

Here I am posting another soup recipe.  We love this one, too!

 

Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 can of tomatoes (diced/stewed)
  • 1 can enchilada sauce (med/mild)
  • 1/2 C. diced onions
  • 1 chopped jalapeno (or any hot pepper…to your taste) OR  1- 4 oz. can diced chili peppers (if you want it milder)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 4 C. chicken broth
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1 T. chili powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 C. black beans
  • 10 oz. package frozen corn
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 1 T. olive oil

*optional extras for garnish:  lime juice, cilantro, diced avocado, shredded cheese, sour cream

Directions

  1. Place chicken, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, hot pepper/green chiles, and garlic into a slow cooker. Pour in chicken broth, and season with cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Cover, and cook on Low setting for 6 to 8 hours or on High setting for 3 to 4 hours. *Sometimes I put the chicken in frozen, in that case I add a little time.  During the last 30-60 minutes (when you get home from work) shred chicken, then add corn and beans (rinsed and drained).
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  3. Lightly brush both sides of tortillas with oil. Cut tortillas into strips, then spread on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake in preheated oven until crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes. To serve, sprinkle tortilla strips over soup.
  5. Serve with garnishes of choice.  Enjoy!

21 Day Fix containers: (1/5 cup serving)

1/2 RED 1/2 GREEN 1/2 YELLOW *Don’t forget to count the toppings!

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Realistic Goals

So a very good friend of mine is getting set to begin a 30 day fitness challenge that we set up.  She’s nervous.  She’s afraid she’s going to sabotage herself, as she says she’s done before when she realizes she just doesn’t think it’s possible to EVER reach her goals.  Well here’s why:  her goal is to be “thin”.

What’s wrong with that goal you ask?  Well…listen…there’s a better goal to have, and if you trust me, you’ll see it’s better than “thin” or “skinny”.  Those are simply unrealistic, unhealthy goals to have when you’re starting your journey.  Aim for fitness, and aim for health.  That’s it!  Make it a daily effort, for the rest of your life; not a 30 day challenge…and then back to where you were before.  See every day as a new opportunity to make better choices, and before you know it, it’ll be your habit.  It’s not going to happen overnight for sure!  But once your mind is on board, your body will start to notice.

We all have very busy lives.  We all have the same number of hours in a day.  We all have the same choices at the grocery store.  Make health and fitness a priority in your life, and you’ll start to make choices that will make you stronger and more resolute each day.  You might need to wake up a little earlier (I’m still working on this one myself).  You might need to plan your meals ahead.  Your health is important, right?  It’s worth the effort right?  Keep in mind that you’re not going to change in leaps and bounds…it’s going to take baby steps.  All the little things you do will add up and they’ll change you.

Aim for strength, both mental and physical.  They sort of go hand in hand.  Once you see yourself becoming stronger, you begin to feel stronger.  Once you feel stronger, you realize…it’s not about being thin, or skinny.  It’s about being your best you.  You’ll be proud, satisfied and confident.  ‘Strong’ looks different on everybody, but it looks perfect!

Dear Johnny and Andy,

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but those names you called me back in high school…kinda left a mark.

High school can be hard enough as it is.  It’s the time when we’re trying to figure out where we fit in, who we are, how we see ourselves.  Body image is such a big part of that, probably a little more so for girls than boys.  No matter what your insecurities are, when a name is given to them, by your peers…it just confirms them, and hits you where it hurts.

I was skinny, gawky, and awkward in high school.  I had short hair (sometimes), and hadn’t quite yet “developed” (if you know what I mean).  As a result, I was given a few nicknames that weren’t so very flattering.  I was called:  “floor-boards”, “chicken legs” and my least favorite…”boy-girl”.  REALLY?!  I had a thick skin and a good sense of humor…but still!  Nobody wants to be the butt of someone’s mean-spirited jokes.  I imagine there are worse names to be called, but those were mine.  And I didn’t like them one bit.

Nowadays we hear so much about bullying- both cyber and actual.  There are always going to be jerks and name-callers.  I’m sure they’re dealing with their own insecurities, and this is the way they deflect attention from themselves, perhaps. Either way…moving beyond the names is a challenge.  I have always been very self conscious.   I hate mirrors.  I don’t really like to have my picture taken, etc.  But I feel like it’s getting better.  I’m really pushing myself out of my comfort zone these days, and I’m breaking down some of those poor self-images.  It’s amazing how much better you begin to feel about yourself, when you’re focusing on helping others.

It also helps that my sweet husband said this in regards to my high school nicknames the other day:  “Man, I really gambled on you back then.  I’d say I had 20 to 1 odds that you’d turn out so good-looking (with nicknames like that).  I guess when you gamble big, you win big.”  He was being funny of course.  I think he liked me just the way I was…even back then, chicken legs and all.  🙂

So there!  Take that Andy and Johnny!