Week 1

Holiday Challenge

In two months from tomorrow, everyone and their best friend are going to set a new years resolution to lose weight, get in shape, start using their gym membership more, stop drinking soda and so on and so forth. We on the other hand will not, no you see rather than start in 2 months, we are starting tomorrow.

I have had great response from people who would like to start this Holiday Challenge and I am so happy that tomorrow is the day, we start now! I am especially excited because I will not be seeing Cooper for about a 6 week stretch, so my results will be even more exciting as he will not see my day-in and day-out changes.

This is how we are going to complete this challenge…

  • The challenge runs from November 1st – December 31st
  • You get two “off” days during this challenge, which are Thanksgiving and Christmas day ONLY!
  • Once a week you can (if you would like) have one “splurge” meal or treat (ie. 1 small slice of pumpkin pie, 1 small bowl of pasta, 1 mini kit-kat bar).
  • You will be weighing yourself ever Thursday morning and taking your measurements every other Thursday morning.
  • Measurements include: chest, waist, hips, arms and legs.
  • If you haven’t, take your before picture.
  • I will communicating with you twice a week through email to encourage, motivate and answer any questions along the way.
  • In the emails we will also be focusing on you making and achieving 1 large goal and two small goals.

I think this is going to be a very successful time for all of us participating. And although tomorrow is the official start day, you or anyone you know can join at anytime. Just simply email me and I will get you on the list and caught up to date with any “special” information I have given out. I will also be devoting Monday’s here on the blog to letting all of you know how things have been going for me concerning this challenge (ie. my nutrition and fitness as well as progress reports).

So to start off the day, I will share with all of you my measurements and goals.

Measurements:

  • Arms: 13 in.
  • Chest: 38 in.
  • Waist: 30 in.
  • Hips: 40 in.
  • Legs: 22 in.

Goals:

  1. Large Goal: Get up to running 7 miles.
  2. Small Goal 1: Lose a total of 15 in. off of my body.
  3. Small Goal 2: Eat a salad every day for one of my meals.

I think so often we let our self go this time of year because it’s the holidays, so many of us then gain 10-12 pounds. The result is that at the beginning of the year we don’t actually make any progress on our real goals because we are just trying to get back to where we were before the holidays. However, I think we can do better then that! I think we can start now, still enjoy the holidays and accomplish goals in the next year that we never thought we would be able to reach.

Again, feel free to send this to anyone you know who is interested in taking control of their health today! The more the merrier ūüôā

I am also really excited because I have been planning out a Thanksgiving menu that includes all of the yummy things our tradition is used to but has a very healthy twist to it! I’ll be working on the recipes a bit more, then making and photographing it all in the next 2 weeks. So please make sure to check it out in the weeks to come,

Finally, I could help but show you all this video. How awesome would it be to accomplish our health goals before the New Years so that our resolution could be something like this.

I’m not positive why I find this so funny other than I can’t do a cart wheel and that is in fact how I feel when I see 4 year old doing them with such ease!

The Great Veggie Toss

The last time I was at the farmers market, well I panicked. All I could envision was the cold month of January and the lack of produce that is even slightly appealing at the grocery store. So naturally, in my state of panic, I shopped!

I bought peppers and broccoli, snap peas and zucchini, carrots and sweet potatoes, tomatoes and cucumbers. Then I went home and thought to myself “What in the world am I going to do with all of this?” I had about 2 pounds of everything, and although the cucumbers and tomatoes go very quickly as a greek salad, I was concerned that the rest of the goodies would go south quickly without being used.

So, I rinsed everything off, then I chopped it all up, then I put everything in a rather large bowl, drizzled with olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, minced garlic and finally a dash of salt and pepper. I covered those delectable beauties up and put them in the refrigerator. The next night at dinner, I laid them out on a baking sheet and baked them for about 25 minutes at 350*.

These veggies ended up being amazing! The flavors went so well together and they were all so soft on the inside with just a bit of crunch on the outside. In fact, they were so wonderful that I ended up making it again this week! This time I used a mix of frozen and fresh veggies and it was just as great.

 

theveggietoss

This is a picture of the second time I made it. It went wonderful with lemon-garlic tilapia and man-oh-man are these veggies filling. I think part of their beauty is not only how all of the flavors complement one another but also how balanced the carbohydrates are in this side dish. You get plenty of carbohydrates from the sweet potatoes and carrots but then the fiber and water in the rest helps to reduce the feeling of bloat that you get with some heavy carbohydrate dishes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Large Bell Pepper
  • 1 Large Head of Broccoli
  • 1 Large Sweet Potato
  • 1 Large Carrot
  • 1 Large Zucchini
  • 1 Pound of Snap Peas
  • 5 tbsp of Red Wine Vinegar
  • 3 tbsp of Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp of Lemon Juice
  • 1 whole Garlic Clove minced
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Rinse and then chop all veggies.
  2. Place veggies in a large bowl and season with vinegar, olive oil, lemon, garlic, salt and pepper.
  3. Tass veggies around within the bowl multiple times to make sure of complete coverage.
  4. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  5. Set over at 350*, place vegetables on baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes.

 

What is your favorite way to get all of your servings of vegetables in during the winter?

If you have tried something like this in the past, how do you like it?

Caprese Chicken

When I was younger (7 or so) I ate so much cheese that I was constipated for about 5 days. How much cheese you ask? One pound… yes, I ate one pound of cheese by myself at the age of 7 over the time span of about 48 hours. In my parents defense, they had no idea what was happening. I snuck the cheese into my room and it just so happened that my mom who was busy juggling her 4 children and all of their wild friends, didn’t realize that her cheese was missing because apparently she wasn’t using the cheese for dinner either of those night.

To this day, I am a cheese fan! As in, if I had the opportunity to eat a pound of cheese again, without it affecting my health, I most definitely would! But as I have shared with you before… dairy doesn’t like me! I however do love me some dairy, so I have switched to organic and raw when possible cheeses and yogurt and I seem to do alright!

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I was food-lusting on pinterest and I saw a picture titled “Caprese Chicken”. Unfortunately like so many of the pins on pinterest, this one did not ever lead me to a Caprese chicken recipe. So I took that as a challenge. I felt, or at least dreamt up the feeling, as if God melted my heart with the idea of making up a Caprese chicken recipe… so here it is!

capresechicken

this really isn’t a good picture and I apologize for that… I will attempt to make this soon and get a new one up in an update post

So this recipe is pretty simple but unbelievably delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Chicken Breast
  • 4 oz. Mozzarella Cheese – preferably organic and raw
  • 1 Large Tomato
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Oil

Directions:

  1. If Chicken Breast’s are whole, slice in half (through their thickness) so that you have 4 servings
  2. In a skillet place, heat coconut oil on medium high for about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Place chicken breast in the pan and cook on each side for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Slice the tomato, and place a slice on each chicken breast.
  5. Cover the skillet with a lid, reduce heat to medium-low and let cook for 4-5 minutes or until the tomatoes are cooked through.
  6. Take the lid off the skillet and cook on high for 2 minutes.
  7. Slice cheese in 1oz. servings and place 1oz. on each chicken breast.
  8. Cover the skillet with a lid and cook on medium-high for 3-4 minutes or until the cheese is melted and even crispy.
  9. Take the Caprese Chicken out of the skillet and enjoy

I am again apologetic for the poor picture but this really is a delicious chicken dish. I served mine up with roasted sweet potatoes and a cucumber feta salad.

Have a happy Tuesday and feel free to continue to pass around yesterday’s post to those around you!

Also, it was mozzarella cheese if anyone was wondering!

A Holiday Challenge

On Saturday, I got my oil changed. It was the best 40 minutes of my day! In fact, I read in my quite car for 40 minutes, without cell phone calls and no one in my backseat asking if she they could have a sip of my water.

The thing is, my life isn’t that hard. Yes, I do come from a large family and I have the opportunity to be around at least one of them 99% of my life in which I am awake. But honestly, it’s not that bad because non of them swear at me, physically hurt me or any of the other terrible nonsense that goes on with some families.

As we get closer to the holiday season, I don’t see my attempts to get “me time” decreasing at all. In fact, if you are anything like me, the days will seem to get a bit longer and the to-do lists a bit larger. Then I had an idea…

Holiday Challenge

Everyone starts taking care of themselves after the New Year… but we shouldn’t. This is probably because that isn’t how it should ever work, but our society is messed up. In fact, I saw a Christmas commercial the other day and it wasn’t the kind about holiday cheer or anything other feel good something. It was about toys… the word usage went something like “We’re the best toy store in the world for the best kids in the world”. It was sad in my opinion.

Anyways, back to us taking care of ourselves, and I was thinking it could go something like this…

  • 2 emails a week (from me)
  • 1 large goal and 2 small
  • Weight tracked once a week tops
  • Inches tracked every other week
  • Before Picture – for yourself only
  • Exercise 5 times a week
  • 3 days of cardio & 2 days of strength

So what do you think? Who’s in?

Here are my goals… my large goal is to work back up to running 7 miles. My small goals are; eating a salad for lunch every day until the end of the year and to lose 3 inches from my waist.

During this challenge I will be committing my Friday post’s to telling you my plan for the next week as far as food and exercise are concerned and a progress picture on Mondays.

I hope some of you are also interested in joining in on this challenge. I especially love the idea of reaching my goals while everyone is starting theirs!

Feel free to email me with any questions you have concerning this challenge and please pass the info on to others if you know of anyone would enjoy this.

The End

sugarseries

 

Can you believe its over?

We covered a lot in this series and I am unbelievably proud of all of you who participated!

I hope each one of you  understand that we live in an imperfect world with imperfect food. It is much easier to write about cutting our sugar than it is to actually do it. If you have made and attempts to improve your health in the last 3 weeks you should feel unbelievably proud of yourself and please continue to make strives towards healthier living.

My down falls as far as nutrition is concerned are sugar and crunch! If it’s crunchy ( any chip) or sweet (taffy) and let’s not talk about both (hello butter finger)… well I will probably eat it, all in fact if it is around!

I’m not perfect, and neither are you… so let’s stop pretending we are and just try harder tomorrow! No matter what that means for you and no matter how different it may be from me… let’s all just try harder tomorrow!

 

The Plan

sugar finale

Well friends… we made it! Can you believe how much we covered? If you missed any of it, go ahead and click on the link “Sugar Series” on the left side of this blog. In the meantime, I want to take the time today to break down for you how to cut sugar out of your diet either for a short period of time or forever.

  • First off, avoid at all cost your lectin foods. If you aren’t sure what I mean by this, check out this post.
  • Secondly, limit your fruit to only in the morning and possibly a morning snack. This is the same for grains of any kind.
  • Third, eat a lot of veggies especially at dinner.
  • Fourth, watch your portions!

Here is an example of my diet in terms of these rules.

  • Breakfast: 6oz. Greek non-fat, plain organic yogurt¬†with 1/2 Cup raspberries¬†and 2 slices of uncurred turkey bacon
  • Lunch: Salad of spinach, romaine, cucumber, bell pepper, tomato and carrot, with a hardboiled egg, turkey breast lunch meat and balsamic vinegar
  • Snack: 1/4 Cup pistachios
  • Dinner: 4 oz. of fish and 3 Cups of roasted veggies

For me… this isn’t an easy plan. First off, I have had to give up chicken, so that I can stabilize my blood sugars better (lectin foods). Also, it has taken me an entire week (7 breakfasts’) to get used to plain Greek yogurt. Lastly, I crave sweet after dinner. If I am being honest with you, sometimes I will eat a green apple or peach around 8 o’clock. But I try not to… I know I am getting enough calories and that I am getting proper fuel for my body. It’ sin times of these, I have to tell myself “Mind over Matter”.

This is my go-to plan, what I always have in my back pocket as what to fall back onto. We are taking a week of this after a 3-day holiday feast, 2 days after a night out for my sisters birthday and quite frankly if I want to feel my best, this should be just slightly modified (for variety) on a day to day basis. If I can follow this 85% of the time, then one date night every 2 months in which I want to eat a sweet potato for dinner will be nothing but a little spice in my night. Because, well… I will have put in the day-to-day work to make sure my hormones, immunity, brain and all over organelle are in a place that a little sugar (whether simple or complex) will not through my system off.

I have your last assignment of this series for you today! Make up a meal plan based on the rules above and feel free to use mine as a template. Make sure you take into consideration this post about lectin foods if need be!

That’s it… we covered it all. Or at least all that I had intended to share with you. If you enjoyed this series and would like to see more that are similar, please email me or a leave a comment below expressing to me what you what to know about.

Thank you for sticking around for this series as well as all the I put and encouragement you gave me. It was all greatly appreciated.

Natures Dessert

fruit

source

Fruit – It’s natures dessert. It is the one form of sugar that is what I call “free”. In fact, for those trying to lose weight, I often suggest that you can eat 3 pieces (or 3 -1 cup servings) of fruit a day. And if you are a veggie monster, once you tackle 9 servings of vegetables a day you can eat even more fruit!

Why is it so valuable you ask? Because fruit is packed with water and fiber. Fiber is this fabulous micro-nutrient that our body cannot process so it passes it through our body. But guess what else it does, it grabs on to a few grams of “other stuff” on it’s way out. So when you eat a piece of fruit, not only is much of it water, but it also doesn’t all get sent to your bloodstream as sugar. Instead, it is filled with vitamins and minerals that are in the fruit naturally rather then fortified and it delivers all of those beautiful micro-nutrients to your organelles for proper use. And then what is left over and can’t be used get’s shipped out!

It’s really a beautiful process. And the best part is that a good piece of fruit will in fact take care of your sweet tooth. And if you isn’t, drizzle a little chocolate on a few strawberries, or better yet make fruit kabobs. Take a few types of fruit, chop them up and place them on a stick, then drizzle or dip in ¬†something such as chocolate, peanut butter, nutella, cool whip or caramel.

Dessert is delicious, and in my opinion it is needed. Thankfully, fruit offers us the perfect option since it’s natural sugars can be combined (in moderation) with some not so simple sugars to give us a much better option then double fudge ice cream that will leave us bloated and gassy in a few hours.

What are some of your favorite desserts that use fruit?

The Ins and Outs of Insulin

insulin graphic

source

We have talked quite a bit about insulin, however we haven’t discussed how it really makes magic within our body.

Ready for the shortest yet most important post of this series? Because here we go…

Insulin is made in the pancreas, and it’s job is to regulate fat and carbohydrate metabolism. Insulin makes the cells in the liver, muscles and fat absorb glucose from the blood for energy. Within the liver and muscle, glucose is stored as glycogen. In fat cells, it is stored as triglycerides. Insulin stops the use of fat for energy and inhibits the release of glucagon – a glucose hormone. This means that when there is to much sugar in the blood, but not enough insulin (because you consumed to much sugar), the insulin that is available gets released and takes care of what it can. The rest of the sugar however remains in the blood stream and does harm to your body. Since the two hormones insulin and glucagon have an inverse relationship, not only is there not enough insulin at this point but the release of glucagon has also been stopped at this point which can result in low sugar immediately after high sugar.

The beauty of insulin is that unless you have a metabolic syndrome which you were born with or that is genetic, insulin is completely controlled by you. The purpose of this post is that you take this information and then re-read this post as well as this post to make better sense of the big picture that is sugar and how problematic it is within our bodies.

The Sister Diets

sisterdiets

What do all of these diets have in common? Well, they are sister diets. Or at least that is what I call them. Yes, they are all different but they all have one core thing in common. They suggest that you cut down on your carbohydrate intake to enhance weight loss.

Now if you were to ask someone on the Paleo diet if they were doing low carb, my guess is that they would say no. Quite frankly, it’s understandable. Some of the diets listed below are very low carb while others are moderate. Some of the above diets are high in fat, some are unlimited and some specify which fats can be consumed.

So why then is cutting carbohydrates such a hot ticket in weight loss?

The process in which all of these diets are foundational on is Ketosis or the process in which the body depleats it’s supply of glycogen in the liver. This then forces something called beta-oxidation to happen within the body, In other words the body uses it’s fat stores to supply the cells and in return the body with energy.

In simple terms, when their isn’t glycogen (sugar) available for use by the body for energy, it will convert stored fat into energy.

Now back to those sister diets… some claim that this process of Ketosis must be reached before weight loss can be achieved, some suggest that a mild form of this process along with large muscle exercise will allow for maximum long term weight loss. Another uses this process as well as many other bio-chemical processes within our bodies as the reason to without saying so boldly, cut out carbs, while another ultimately claims that slow and steady wins the race as long as quality carbohydrates and fats are consumed.

I could easily go on for an hour or so breaking down all of the details of these diets and let you know what millions of books say about which is the best and why another isn’t. But that isn’t what I am attempting to do today. Instead I am suggesting today that low carbohydrates diets do in fact yield the greatest weight loss long term.

As always, please do some of your own research on all of these diets (links provided below) and then bring your gained knowledge into the doctor. That last part of the previous sentence is vital… if you are having heart, kidney, insulin or a long list of other medical issues, then it is even more vital for you to run all dietary changes by your doctor. This is due to the fact that medication can and does interact with food.

Here are some links for reading!

The Atkins Diet

The Paleo Diet

The G.A.P.S. Diet

The South Beach Diet

Ironically, all of these diets are easily manipulates around gluten sensitivities.

Happy Wednesday friends, read something today… it’s good for you!

Your Gut Health

What exactly happens when you eat sugar. We’ve talked about it slightly from the perspective of your brain and hormones, but how about your intestines?

gut-flora

What happens after you put, oh let’s say a piece of bread in your mouth? Well you see, first some enzymes are released within your mouth to start breaking down the carbohydrates. From here, the mushy bread goes down you esophogus and into your stomach. Many more enzymes as well as acids are released into your stomach to churn and break down the food. Some enzymes break down only proteins so that they can be later absorbed into the bloodstream while others work on fats, and some on carbohydrates. After have work done on itself in the stomach, the bread (although it’s nothing like bread at this point) goes into the small intestine.

The small intestine is made up of 3 parts, all which have specific roles. In this organelle, the food substance is mechanically propelled throughout your small intestine. This is due not only to the muscle that lies within the wall of you intestine but also fine hairs that line the walls. Between the muscle contracting and releasing and the tiny hair like structure, food substance moves throughout your system without any problem.

All is good in the world until those fine hair’s get matted down and muscle spasms happen. It is at this point that the food gets stuck! This generally causes bloating, fatigue, constipation and even nausea (cite). ¬†So why in the world would this happen? What would cause all of this intestinal pain?

Well, you see, when you consume large amounts of carbohydrates (sugar) and do not use them by doing large quantities of physical exercise everyday – think weight lifting or long distance running – those sugars cannot be absorbed into the bloodstream as quickly as you are supply your body with them. This is because your body doesn’t need sugar in the amount you are giving it sugar.

So the sugar sits, and well it sort of kind of rots, in a slow and fermentation way. It causes a back up of digestion (constipation) and the lack of oxygen being delivered to your large intestine causes some gas. The gas is toxins within your body which will often cause your body to send a bit of a red flag off, which will trigger nausea ( a defense mechanism). Bloating may also occur because of the lack of oxygen to your intestines combined with the backup of food. This can all result in fatigue as your bloodstream absorption also becomes halted, which prevents nutrients to get to it’s eagerly awaiting organelles.

Interesting isn’t it? And quite frankly, it’s one more reason to kick the sugar habit!

Want to read up so more on this subject?

Here are a few links…

Gut Flora and Sugar

Sugar, Gut Flora and Behaivor