A Peek Inside My Food Bag

Oh, hi! I have a lot to update you all on, but sometimes it’s hard to figure out how to come back when you’ve been away for a while without some grand gesture (post?) and I realized I can’t let that stop me, because I have to start somewhere.

Yesterday I got back from a four night trip to Hilton Head Health and I cannot tell you how serendipitous the timing of that trip was for me. I got invited to check out the facility with a group of other bloggers, and here’s a photo of the six of us who went, courtesy of the Hilton Head Health Facebook Page.

Bloggers

Andi, Monique, Sarah, Nicole, Lisa, …and Me

I’m still gathering my thoughts on the trip to share with you, but I will say that I left feeling very refreshed, excited, and recommitted to being healthy, losing weight, and getting myself back on track!

When I got back yesterday, I really wanted to cook for the first time in a while. It helped that I had also promised my friend Stacy, who watched Stella while I was gone, dinner, so I decided to sketch out a meal plan and then go to the grocery store.

Usually when I make a meal plan, I map out what meals I’ll be eating when, but I rarely stick exactly to it. So this time, I decided to just come up with a couple meal ideas for breakfast and then lunch/dinner, without plugging them into specific days/meals. This way I have the ingredients and ideas ready to go, but I’m not tied to having a certain meal at a certain time if I don’t feel like it.

So here’s what I came up with to carry me through most of the week:

Breakfast:

  • Steel cut oatmeal (I made 3 servings)
  • English muffin w/egg, spinach, and cheese
  • Smoothie w/banana, berries, spinach, skim milk, and almonds

Lunch/Dinner:

  • Chicken chili (just made this up as I went and this is what I made for dinner last night for Stacy, but I have two servings leftover)
  • Skinnytaste Creamy Lentil Soup (this is amaaaaazing. I made it last night for the first time and it’s so, so good.)
  • Chicken breast with cranberries and butternut squash (inspired by this recipe, but I’m too lazy to go through the whole process there)

And then, to satisfy your voyeuristic tendencies (trust me, I have ‘em too), I wanted to give you a peek inside my food bag that I’m bringing to work today.

Lunch Bag

Keep in mind that I am in my office only Monday through Wednesday, and I’m lucky to have a fridge there I can leave things in overnight.

Closed Contents

I’m trying to get back into the habit of bringing in a few extra things at the beginning of the week, and then just supplementing as needed the next couple days.

Contents

Clockwise starting with: Honeycrisp apple, steelcut oats with pumpkin and cottage cheese, creamy lentil soup, chicken chili, raspberries, vanilla Chobani yogurt, Cilantro (garnish for both soups), Banana, Babybel cheese, reduced-fat sour cream (garnish for both soups), shredded cheddar (garnish for chili).

Are you more of a map every meal to every day, or just plan a couple meals for the week and make them as you feel like it? Any fun recipes you’ve tried lately and/or are looking forward to making soon?

Whole 30: Day 24 + Meal Ideas

You guys! I can’t even believe I’m writing in on day 24 and I’ve made it this far. I feel good. My skin has cleared up times a million, and I am definitely feeling less lethargic and more energetic than before. That said, I definitely don’t feel any miracles, but I still do have a week left, and I am very glad I’m doing this as a reset. I really needed something that would help me take pause and evaluate everything I was putting into my body, because I was slipping into some bad habits that I needed to kick to the curb (especially diet soda and processed foods in general). When I posted after one week on the Whole30 and admitted to stepping on the scale, a few people suggested that I really not weigh myself because it would make me focus on the wrong things, so I did actually put my scale away and haven’t weighed myself since. Just wanted to share that side note.

The Whole30 has truly helped reinspire me in the kitchen, too. Prior to Whole30, I was eating out A LOT (bad for the waistline and the wallet), not cooking very much, and eating a lot of convenient, packaged foods. Since Whole30, I’ve been diligently grocery shopping every week and doing a ton more cooking in my kitchen. I’ve gotten excited about my weekly grocery trip, gotten back into meal planning, and have ventured to the farmer’s market, Wegman’s and Aldi (first time ever). It’s been pretty awesome! Also, Whole30 helped me to make homemade mayo for the first time ever (using this recipe and because most store bought mayo contains soybean oil) and also purchased a spiralizer (this one) that I am obsessed with and use all the time.

A lot of my meals have been simple and straightforward, and looked something like this:

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2 eggs fried in coconut oil, sugar free bacon, 1/2 avocado, 1 sliced bell pepper, 1 sliced kiwi, seltzer water, and coffee with coconut milk

But I have come up with a couple more exciting meal ideas, and while I haven’t done up detailed recipes and taken step by step photos, I wanted to share anyway.

Slowcooker Mexican Shredded Beef

This is probably my favorite creation from all of Whole30. I purchased grass fed beef chuck from Whole Foods (it was on sale!), and then I did a simple prep and cooked it in the slower cooker. I chopped up an onion to throw at the bottom, and then seasoned both sides of the meat with cumin, corriander, chili powder, and a little salt, and put the seasoned beef on top of the onion. I added a little pico de gallo on top of the meat, and turned it on low and left for work. When I got back 9 hours later, my apartment smelled amazing and I had the most flavorful, melt-in-your-mouth shredded beef that I’ve ever had. I had Shredded Beef Lettuce Wraps, and stuffed butter lettuce with the beef, bell pepper, pico de gallo, guac, and mango salsa. If I could eat like that every day, Whole30 would be a breeze.

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Shredded beef, homemade pico de gallo, guac, mango salsa, red peppers, and butter lettuce leaves

Sweet Potato Egg Bake

This is a dish I’ve made a couple different times, and is perfect for bringing to work for breakfast. I shredded a sweet potato in the food processor, then added in scallions, eggs, and sausage from the farmer’s market that I cooked in a pan first. You could throw in any veggies you like to this, but the sweet potato was AWESOME and made it unlike any egg dish I’ve ever had. It almost tasted cheese-like, and added a very stick-to-your-ribs element that helped me stay full for hours. This will be in the regular breakfast rotation for sure.

Shredded Brussels with Bacon

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The picture here does the dish no justice, but this was probably my favorite veggie side dish. I mean it’s probably not a big surprise since there’s bacon, but only a few slices! I cooked 3 slices of (sugar-free) bacon in a pan, and then put the cooked pieces on a paper towel. In the same pan with the bacon fat still in there, I added a bag of shredded brussels sprouts from Trader Joe’s, and cooked those for a few minutes until they softened a bit. I crumbled up the bacon and tossed it back in, and voila! I had this with a few eggs on top, and also as a side with meat a few times. Delish.

Chicken Salad

Boring, I know. But eggs can get kind of tiring if you have them for breakfast every day, and I still have trouble wanting to eat something more lunch/dinner-y first thing in the morning. Chicken salad turned out to be a good middle ground, because it was light enough for breakfast, but substantial enough to keep me full for hours. I poached chicken breast (first time ever!), and then sliced it up and tossed it with some grapes, celery, and bell pepper. I mixed some curry spice into the homemade mayo, and then tossed the chicken salad with the mayo. I served it over a bed of greens to get a little more veggies in there, or else just ate it as is.

Egg Salad

This is not the most exciting thing on the list either, but I feel like it deserves a shout out because it’s a meal i’ve eaten several times a week all along the Whole30. Just like chicken salad, it’s something that I can eat for breakfast if I don’t want regular eggs, and it’s really easy to throw together. My favorite combination to date is 2 hardboiled eggs, 1 red bell pepper, 2 stalks celery, 1 dollop homemade mayo, and 1/2 avocado. So delicious and something I haven’t gotten bored of yet!

Ten Takeaways from Week One

So week one of Whole30 is in the books! And I have to say, I am loving it. While there have definitely been some challenges, overall I am feeling really good, am already waking up easier in the mornings, am feeling less bloated, and my skin is improving a lot. I’m also learning a lot about the food that I eat and am feeling like I’m getting that reset that I was looking for with Whole30.

Even just one week in, it’s really been eye-opening with the things that I classify as healthy and good for my body. I’ve struggled a little bit with realizing that I can in fact survive without a carb-based breakfast, and that I don’t have to skimp throughout the day so that I have more calories/points left for the evening. I know those things come naturally for a lot of people, but i’m not one of them and it’s been an interesting mental shift.

Here are 10 great things from this week that I would like to keep up, even after the Whole30:

  1. fruit infused water – it makes me feel fancy, and is less boring than plain water. I’ve done orange, kiwi, cucumber, lime, and some combinations of those so far, and it’s made me drink way more water and actually enjoy it. not sure why i didn’t start this sooner!
  2. reading the ingredient list – I have always been waaay more focused on the nutritional label than what is actually IN the food, so it’s been pretty different for me to flip a package over and go straight for the ingredient list rather than browsing how many calories and fat are in the item, and I kinda love it.
  3. less snacking – the goal is three meals a day, and no snacks unless you need them, which is way different than my normal practice. While i’m not sure I’ll ever be completely snack-free, I do like the emphasis on more satisfying meals and less grazing.
  4. meals at the table – I’m normally really, really bad about this and will eat my breakfast and lunch in front of my computer at work. Whole30 calls for you to sit at the table for each of your meals, and while I haven’t been perfect in this department, I have at least considered sitting at the table for every single meal, and have done so about 80% of the time, which is a huge jump from 0% pre-Whole30.
  5. no fake sugars – this was another bad habit I had slipped back into – diet soda. My office has a fully stocked fridge of soda, which includes diet coke, coke zero, and fresca – and I had gotten into the habit of having 1 or more a day when in the office (3 days/week). I’ve replaced this with fruit-y water (see #1) when I feel the need for something with flavor, and I don’t want to go back.
  6. prioritizing meat on my grocery bill – this was something I didn’t expect to have as much of an impact. I am normally such a bargain shopper, so I was always looking for the cheapest option of healthy proteins, and would very rarely hand over the money for meat at the farmer’s market. Whole30 very clearly instructs that your meat, seafood, and eggs should be your first priority with your grocery bill – ie. grass-fed / free range meat over organic produce. Reframing my thinking in my grocery budget and going straight to pick out the protein first has revamped the way I’m appreciating the meat, and I can definitely tell a difference in the taste, too. It’s really easy to turn a blind eye to where your food is coming from (and something I am particularly skilled at, especially when I’ve classified it as healthy), and I like that I’ve taken steps to change this for myself.
  7. focusing on veggies at each meal – i love eating so many veggies again. it just makes me feel good and healthy, and I get excited to discover different ways to prepare them in delicious (Whole30 compliant) ways. i missed being excited about veggies!
  8. not weighing myself as much – confession – i didn’t make it 30 days without stepping on the scale. But! I was more curious than anything to see if the scale was going to show the same thing i was feeling because I am eating in a different way than I’m used to. i really did go into it neutral – i wasn’t going to be upset if it was up. (Told you I’m good with excuses.) I really love that Whole30 is about how you FEEL for the main source of feedback, and not what the scale says. It’s very refreshing.
  9. sunday meal prepping – An old habit I’m glad has resurfaced. This weekend I hard-boiled a bunch of eggs, poached chicken, prepared several different veggies for grab-and-go options, and got ingredients for easy meals during the week (shout out to my slow cooker that is currently tackling an <organic> pork shoulder).
  10. cooking nice meals for myself – anytime people are coming over for dinner or I’m going to a potluck, my mind swirls with delicious ideas of what to make and I get excited about putting something together. but when i’m cooking for myself, it feels… unnatural? self-absorbed? to put that much effort into making a meal. But this past week, I’ve cooked a lot more than I had been, and while I did share some of the meals with others, a lot of them were for me and only me. I feel like I put the same amount on emphasis on prepping all the meals, and I would sit down at the table (hello #4) and be pretty happy to be eating something nice. again, not sure why this one took so long to figure out.

You’ll notice “not have a glass of wine with my girlfriends” did not make the list of habits I want to keep up after these 30 days. ;) More to come!

Needing a Reset

Lately, I’ve been feeling in need of a reset.

I’ve been so swamped with work and life that I haven’t really been focusing on myself or my health (or this blog… elephant in the room) in quite some time. This is not to say I’ve gone completely off in the deep end or anything, but I’ve just been feeling more tired and less focused than I want to be lately. I’ve put on a few pounds, and also my skin has been awful with breakouts lately. (And I’m 30! wtf) Besides the short-lived “I’m going to try not eating carbs!” and “I’m completely recommitted to Weight Watchers!”, nothing has really stuck. I’ve been eating crappy food more than not, not exercising as much as I should be, and just not taking the best care of myself. I’ve been toying with lots of ideas on different approaches I might take since the usual suspects have not been sticking around long enough to help snap me out of this rut. And yesterday, I finally took the plunge and started something new.

Whole30.

I first stumbled across the program several months ago, but immediately dismissed it because it seemed so extreme and wasn’t something I was even willing to consider. But Whole30 kept coming up again and again in my searches, and I started reading a little more about it each time. The tagline of the program is, “let us change your life” and while I’m still feeling really skeptical, I’m willing to give it a try. You can click on over to the site to read all about the specifics of the program (its free), but it’s basically a strict 30 day program where you eat very clean and detox your body from all potential allergens. That means no gluten (bagels), dairy (cheese), legumes (chickpeas), sugar (all), and the clincher – no booze (wine). (In case you were wondering, I put my favorite option from each category in parentheses.) By eliminating all of these items from your diet, you give your body a chance to reset and start to feel better, more alert, and just generally healthier. Also, you lose weight because of the kinds of food you’re eating. At the end of the 30 days, you reintroduce the groups back into your diet one by one to see how you react to them and figure out what foods affect you negatively. Please don’t tell me my results are cheese and wine. And bread.

So what can I eat? Nothing. Ha, just kidding!

But really, what I can eat is meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, healthy fats, and some fruit. That is it. Each meal has to be built around a protein source and then have a few types of veggies and a fat source (like avocado, coconut, olives, or nuts). Fruit is optional and can be part of your meals if you wish.

For me, the equally compelling part of the program besides the lose weight, clear up your skin, and feel less tired part, is that it claims to break psychological holds food has over you, too. I’m not allowed to weigh myself for the duration of the program, and I am supposed to eat three meals a day (no snacking unless really hungry). While this leaves me partly terrified, it’s also partly exciting because it takes the guess work out of it all. I am not allowed to cheat or have slip ups for the 30 days, and I kind of love the strictness of that because I think it’s a good test and I really feel like I can give 30 days if it makes so much of a difference.

Anyway, while it does seem drastic in a way, I’ve never been one for moderation, so this is no exception. With that said, it really isn’t THAT drastic – it’s just a focus on eating real food for 30 days straight and paying very close attention to everything I’m putting in my body. It’s already been pretty eye opening to be reading the labels on foods (I’m not talking nutrition labels) and see how many random things are added to everything that has a label. Also, I don’t know if I should be afraid of putting this out there on the record, but the thing I’m most worried about giving up is the booze! Maybe that should say something.

I’m planning to document my Whole30 experience and will definitely share menu plans, results, struggles, reflections, etc along the way, but if you have any specific questions feel free to ask.

Day two!

Avoiding Boredom With Minimal Effort

Anytime I am being good about cooking healthy meals at home, I find myself eating the same things for meal after meal. I tend to make a few things at the beginning of the week and then eat leftovers for several meals to come. And while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can get old kind of fast if it’s more than a few meals in a row. But, it can be tough to cook for one with enough variety to keep me from getting bored, while still using up all the ingredients and keeping the effort minimal. This week, I figured out a way to take three super simple staple ingredients and make them into several different meals that were easy to prep side by side.

I started with 1 pound of lean ground beef, 1 can black beans, and 1 bag of frozen brown rice.

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I cooked the beef in a pan with half of an onion that I found in my fridge. After it was browned, I set aside about half of it, and then mixed some of the brown rice and black beans into the beef left in the pan.

I stuffed that beef/rice/bean mixture into two green peppers, and added one can of tomato sauce underneath and on top. I cooked those stuffed peppers for 45 minutes at 350 and that was it.

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Then I took the rest of the black beans and brown rice and mixed them in the same pan I cooked the beef in until they were heated through. That left me with a good amount of rice and beans, plus the rest of the beef.

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I made a salad with some of each of those to eat right away, and then added some sour cream, pickled jalapenos, and shredded cheese. I ended up packing up ingredients for a repeat salad for a future lunch.

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Tonight I’m going to make fried rice with what is left of the rice and beans, plus an egg and whatever veggies I can find in my fridge to throw in there.

So this meant I was able to stretch those three staple ingredients into two stuffed peppers, two salads, and fried rice, so basically 5 meals for one person. And while each meal has a lot of the same ingredients and are fairly similar, adding in a few extra things for each dish makes it feel different enough.

How do you keep from getting bored with your eats?

Avocado Deviled Eggs

So remember when I used to post a lot of recipes on this blog? It’s been something I’ve been struggling to get back into, so when I saw that the California Avocado Commission was hosting a recipe contest for the attendees of FitBloggin’, I knew it was the perfect chance to get back into it! Not only do I love avocados and coming up with simple and delicious recipes, but I also love me a contest with a chance to win some pretty sweet prizes.

For the California Avocado Cutting-Edge Culinary Recipe Contest, we had to come up with a recipe featuring California avocados, and I’ve been toying with different ideas for weeks. Here’s what we’re being judged on:

  • Creative use of California Avocados
  • Simple ingredient list with less than 7 components
  • Variety of fruits and vegetables
  • Recipe Photo Quality

As you probably know, I absolutely love everything avocado, but I generally use it in super simple ways that would barely constitute a recipe. So for this, I wanted to come up with a recipe that uses the California avocado as a staple ingredient in a way that I wouldn’t normally think to use it. I also wanted to use it in a way that would make the recipe healthier, but wanted to keep it pretty simple since those are the kinds of recipes I like (slash am capable of making).

Enter deviled eggs.

While traditional deviled eggs use mayo to smooth out the egg yolks, I thought the creaminess of an avocado might be a great replacement to still get that same satisfying consistency, and it worked out perfectly. Seriously, besides a slight green tint to the yolks, no one would ever know you slipped an avocado if you went with the traditional accompaniments of Dijon mustard, lemon, and cayenne. Trust me, I tried it.

But for this, I wanted to go a little further and use some other flavors to play off the avocado, so I went with a Mexican twist.

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In addition to the egg yolks and avocado, I used lime, cilantro, cumin, and jalapeno for the filling and it was AWESOME. The filling was so creamy and flavorful, and the thin jalapeno slice added a nice crunch as a garnish. You could also top these with a tortilla chip, or leave the garnish off all together, but I loved the idea of using some of the ingredients already in the mix on the top. I had a few taste testers, one who apparently is very critical when it comes to his deviled eggs, and he said these were “actually awesome”. I’m told that was a deep compliment. I’ll take it.

Without further ado, here’s the final recipe!

Avocado Deviled Eggs

Ingredients:

  1. 12 large hardboiled eggs, peeled (I use this method)
  2. 1 large ripe California Avocado
  3. 1 lime, cut in half
  4. 1 tbsp cumin
  5. 1 cup cilantro leaves, plus extra for garnish
  6. 1 jalapeno (I used a red one)
  7. salt to taste

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Directions:

1. Cut the hardboiled eggs in half lengthwise and separate the yolks from the whites.

2. Combine the egg yolks, California Avocado flesh, juice of the lime, cumin, cilantro leaves, and as much as the jalapeno as you like. If you don’t want it too spicy, you can discard the seeds and only use half the pepper. I cut off a few rings for garnish and threw the rest in there and it was perfect for me.

DSC_00233. Combine all ingredients until smooth. Use a food processor for the best results, but if you don’t have one or don’t feel like cleaning it afterwards, you can also mash it together with a fork, use an immersion blender, or use a regular blender.

4. Spoon the mixture into a plastic bag, cut off a small diagonal edge, and squeeze the mixture into the egg whites. You can also just spoon it in if you don’t want to go through the trouble.

5. Garnish with sliced jalapeno and/or cilantro, if desired.

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6. Enjoy! These will go fast.

How To Start Again?

At first, maintenance seemed so easy. It was really hard for me to change my mentality from wanting the scale to go down each time I got on it, to hoping it stayed the same. And I think because that switch was so hard mentally, I was much more careful with what I was eating while I got my head around the concept, which is why maintenance was so “easy” at first.

When I think back to that time in my life where I hit my goal weight and then became a Lifetime member, I’m honestly not really sure I ever accepted that I was AT my goal weight. I thought I could stand to lose a few more pounds and while I didn’t want the scale to go up, I didn’t necessarily want it to stop going down either. I was still in weight loss mentality. I was so uncomfortable in my own skin despite being at a healthy weight, and I knew I couldn’t ever be happy with my body unless I did something drastic. So then I did.

Since then, I’ve gone through many phases in my relationship with food. I’ve been in great places. I’ve been in bad places. And since I’ve gone back and forth for my entire life, I guess it’s no surprise this cycle has continued, even though it surprised me. Before the surgery, I thought the complete opposite would be true. I thought that life after surgery would be the final chapter in my weight story. I was SURE that there was no way in hell I’d ever let myself gain back any weight after going through something like that to help my physical appearance. But it turned out to be just the opposite. I think in a way, after I had the surgery, I was so much happier in my body than I was at any of my previous weights that it almost gave me a free pass to eat and live how I wanted, regardless of the impact it would have on my health and weight.

And the healthy habits always slip away oh-so-slowly. An extra glass of wine here. An extra piece of pizza there. A missed workout one morning… and it’s a very slippery slope, especially for someone like me who has the tendency to be very all-or-nothing about so many things in my life.

I’m glad to say that I’ve snapped out of it before I got back to my before weight. I have truly recommitted to doing Weight Watchers and actually went in yesterday, weighed in, and purchased a monthly pass. (More on that in a different post.) While I know there will be ups and downs this time around and always, I feel in a really good place mentally and ready to do this.

A question that comes up again and again, sometimes just in my own thoughts, sometimes when talking with family and friends, and sometimes in emails and comments I get from readers, is how to start again? How to get out from under that blanket of guilt and shame that accompanies regaining weight and stand tall to face reality? How to stop sliding down that slippery slope before you get back to the bottom? And you know, I’m still not sure of the answers, but I do have a few ideas.

1.) Start with accepting the truth and forgiving yourself.

Anyone who has struggled with their weight knows how easy it is to come up with excuses and deny, deny, deny. That picture was just taken from a bad angle. These jeans must have shrunk in the wash. Stretchy pants are just so comfortable, of course I wear them all the time! I think getting to the place where I could admit that I was truly off track was the hardest part of it all. It felt like I was admitting I failed. But I didn’t. I just need to re-start. The time is now. Wishing and hoping that things were a different way doesn’t change a thing. Untagging yourself in pictures on Facebook doesn’t mean it wasn’t you. Not pulling out your summer clothes because you’re not sure if they will fit doesn’t solve any problems. Pretending that you’re not blogging just because you’re too busy doesn’t mean you’re using that extra time towards your health goals.

And the second major part of this step is to forgive yourself. It’s so easy to say mean things to yourself when you look in the mirror, to feel hate, shame and anger for letting it happen. To feel guilty and embarrassed to see people now that you’ve put back on some weight, especially those who complemented your transformation initially. But you know what? What’s done is done, and harping on it is not going to help. Accepting that we’re all human, we make mistakes, and we’re finally getting to a place where we are ready to commit to changing our lives once again is an essential piece of the puzzle.

2.) Set small goals based on where you are NOW.

After accepting that I actually gained some weight back and it doesn’t make me a terrible person, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty – the actual eating healthier and moving more portion of the program. While Weight Watchers is what I’ve found works for me, that’s certainly not the case for everyone. Some people are bogged down by tracking or do OK with restricting certain things from their diet (ie. Atkins, paleo, gluten-free, etc). Whatever works for you is what to do. But the important part is to set goals based on the RIGHT NOW. It doesn’t matter if I’ve run almost 30 races, including 5 half marathons, in my past life. If I haven’t been exercising regularly in almost a year minus a few brief stints, I have to start much smaller than running a half, or maybe even running in general. If I’ve been eating crap for every meal every day for a while, starting with adding good things (fruits and veggies, water, exercise, etc.) to make less room for the bad is key. Set myself up to succeed by making goals that are attainable right now is essential.

3.) Accept that it’s a lifelong journey.

This is the part I always get caught up on, which leads me back to #1 and #2 here. I have to admit that I can never stop trying. I can convince myself the opposite is true as much as I want, but that’s not the truth. I can never be one of those people that just eats intuitively and slowly devours a single piece of pizza, smelling and tasting each bit of it, and then feels satisfied. No matter how much I wish that was the case, or how much I convince myself I am getting there, I’m always going to be the kind of person that has to do a self check and realize I really don’t want to eat the entire pizza, so maybe it’s better that I don’t start. Or, maybe I do want a piece or two of pizza, but I need to move the box out of the room or throw it away to stop myself from going too far. I’m always going to be learning what works and doesn’t work for me, especially as I move into my 30s (in a few weeks – eeeeek!) and go through changes that impact my lifestyle and health.

And for me, I think step 1.5 was to realize that even though I have a blog, I don’t have all the answers, and that’s ok! I’m still very much figuring this journey out and the whole reason I created this blog in the first place was to have a place to document it. So turning away from my blog because I was struggling with my weight was the exact opposite thing I should have been doing. I convinced myself that not blogging regularly was not directly correlated with struggling to be healthy. And that, my friends, was a lie.

But you know what? I’m back. And maybe that denial phase was yet another part of this journey. And that’s ok. After all, I am only human.

Introducing Stella

So in completely unrelated, but VERY exciting news (in my world at least!), I want to introduce you to someone. Without further ado, meet my new pup, Stella!

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Stella is a 3 year old Westie mix that I adopted on May 4, so we just passed the 3 week mark! I’d been thinking about getting a dog for some time, especially since I live alone, but the tipping point was when I watched one of my best friend’s dogs, Oscar, for over a week a few months ago. At the end of the 8 days, I expected to be ready to hand him over, but I was so sad to see him go and knew I needed to get one of my own.

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Stella and Oscar on the way back from camping!

So I started the process of seriously looking for a dog, and I ended up finding Stella on PetFinder.com (which still sounds weird to say). Even though her name was Shayla, I was totally taken with her ears. I knew I wanted to get a slightly older dog (2-5 years old, ideally),  so I sent an email in on a Monday when I first saw her, and she ended up being home with me less than a week later!

I got her through Homeward Trails Animal Rescue and they were very thorough! The process involved a phone screen from her foster mom, a phone interview from Stella’s adoption coordinator, a home visit through a volunteer to make sure my space was sufficient, and of course, an in person meeting to make sure we were a good fit and that I really wanted her. Even though they have a pretty detailed process, the whole thing moved very quickly, which is important because that’s how it has to work so they can rescue more dogs!

Stella’s “story” is that her owners were moving to a non pet-friendly building, so she was turned into a high-kill shelter in North Carolina when they moved. That’s pretty much all I know besides the fact that she is around 3 years old. When I got her, she was already up to date with shots and spayed, but I still took her to a vet to have her checked out and everything seemed to look good! She was also already house trained and hasn’t had an accident to date (besides the one time that was my fault because I majorly stalled on taking her outside and she just couldn’t hold it!).

Stella is exactly the kind of dog I was looking for. She is very easy to engage and is playful when you pay attention to her, but she is veeeeery chill most of the time and makes an excellent work-from-home companion.

wfh

You can find her like this almost all the time:

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Unless someone is outside my door or coming inside – then she gets up and barks. It’s kind of funny because she’s so little and cute, but she thinks she is ferocious so she barks and howls, but she couldn’t do much damage if she tried. We are taking an obedience class since this is my first dog and I don’t really know what I’m doing, and it’s really fun and is teaching me a lot!

I know it sounds so corny to say, but I feel REALLY lucky to have gotten her! The foster mom said she got a ton of applications, so delicately I asked why I was picked out of all of them. The foster mom told me that she picked me because she thought I sounded like someone who would spoil her, and that’s what she wanted for Stella. She is really sweet and smart, but is also very opinionated and spunky. I like to think we’re a pretty good match!

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Our first photo together

Here We Go [Again]

Soooo that whole thing didn’t last long. I stayed off the carbs for about two weeks, but then I decided to have a cheat day, which turned into a cheat two days… into a week… into, ever since that cheat “day”. I went away to New York to visit my sister this past week, and then car camping over the weekend, and while it was SO fun, I left there feeling pretty gross. Bloated, overfed, over boozed, under exercised, and just… blah. So, on the drive home, I strategized and you’ll never believe what I ended up deciding.

Back to Weight Watchers.

I know it works. I know I can do it. I know it’s sustainable. And I know I can’t do something that restricts entire food groups for long, so here I am. I’m considering actually returning to meetings as a member for extra motivation, and will keep you guys posted with what I decide. But for now, I wanted to share my menu plan for the week. Since I got back yesterday evening, I headed right to the grocery store to stock up on fruit, veggies, lean protein, skim milk, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, etc… aka everything I haven’t been eating for the last little while. I didn’t feel like cooking when I got back, so things are pretty simple for the week. The main things I’m cooking are salsa chicken and baked potatoes, and neither of those are too labor intensive. Without further ado, I’m feeling ready to do this!

Dinner

Breakfast Lunch Snacks
Tuesday Greek yogurt w/banana + shredded wheat Turkey sandwich w/sliced apple, cheese + mixed lettuce, carrots w/salsa, air popped popcorn cottage cheese w/berries Salsa chicken over salad w/corn, black beans, + peppers
Wednesday Overnight oats with greek yogurt, skim milk, cinnamon, chopped apple Leftover salsa chicken salad English muffin toasted with tomato and cottage cheese Loaded baked potato w/broccoli, cheese + black beans
Thursday Veggie omelet with cheese + veggies, english muffin Leftover loaded baked potato w/side salad greek yogurt w/berries + raw oats Poached eggs over brown rice + spinach
Friday Green smoothie w/skim milk, banana, spinach, berries, greek yogurt, frozen berries Leftovers turned into fried brown rice w/egg + veggies cottage cheese w/apple Out!

Outside of sticking to my meal plan and detoxing, some of the goals I want to focus on this week are:

  1. Exercising 3x before Monday.
  2. Drinking 6 cups of water during the work day.
  3. Eating all my meals at home or prepared from my kitchen (to save $$ too!) for the rest of the work week.
  4. Getting enough rest and shooting to be in bed by 11 most nights.

Here we go!

Trying Something Different (Again)

Oh hey, old friends! Soooo I posted this yesterday on my Facebook page, but for the last several weeks/months, I’ve definitely been in a rut when it comes to eating (and exercise too, but that’s another post for another day). I mentioned in my last post that healthy eating has just not been a central focus of my life lately because I’ve had so much going on, but I’ve definitely started to notice my clothes feeling a little tighter and not loving pictures I’ve seen of myself recently, so I knew it was time to get my butt in gear before things get too out of hand.

I sat there Sunday night googling, “kickstart your diet” and “healthy jump starts for weight loss”, as if I was going to come across something that I didn’t already know about. I think the trouble is with me that lately I’ve really had so much going on that I can’t do something that requires too much effort or attention for the moment. So, after perusing the results of my searches for some time and trying to make a corresponding grocery list, a light bulb went off and I realized the simplest, easiest, most result-oriented thing I can do right now is go for the low/no-carb thing, aka Atkins, to get myself back on track.

Now, I’ve done Atkins before and while it did help me lose weight, it did NOT help me keep the weight off. I lost about 40 pounds my senior year of college, and then I gained it all back (and then some! you know how it goes…) once I reverted back to my old eating habits. I didn’t really have a plan in place (ie, I’ll give this a go for such-and-such amount of time, OR, I’ll go back into such-and-such way of eating once I’m done with this), and I think that was my downfall the first time around. I was successful in losing weight, but as soon as I was done with Atkins I went back to my old eating habits and hadn’t really made any permanent changes.

This time, while I don’t know exactly how long I’ll do it for, I do know that once I’m tired of it, I’ll go back to Weight Watchers and rest on all the things I’ve learned about healthy eating and moderation from it. I think I’ve come a LONG way in the past 9 years (since the last time I tried Atkins), and I know a lot more about myself, my body, nutrition, and weight loss than I did back then. And, I also know it’s not reasonable for me to stick to a no/low carb thing forever, so this is just temporary.

There are definitely some things that really suck about Atkins, and they are:

  1. No fruit
  2. No bagels (wahh!)
  3. No sweets
  4. No pizza
  5. No bread? duh

But there are also some things that I love about it:

  1. It’s black and white. Things are either allowed or they aren’t, nothing in between.
  2. Portion control is less important, since it’s more WHAT you’re eating and not how much.
  3. I can eat an avocado with a spoon and feel good about it.
  4. Nuts are also not that scary anymore, and same goes for nut butter.
  5. I can eat the skin on meat if I choose without any guilt.
  6. CHEESE. That’s all.

So to be honest it feels a bit weird to be officially doing something that is not Weight Watchers after all this time, but it also feels oddly refreshing. I think when you know a diet (or a lifestyle! Winking smile) inside and out, it can be hard to approach it with a fresh perspective because it’s not… well, fresh.

Have you ever had luck with kickstarting weight loss with a program you don’t plan to stick with forever? What have you found to be most effective?

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