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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.

photo 1 (12)

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.

photo 2 (15)

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.

photo 3 (14)

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.

photo 4 (9)

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?

Ending the Week on a High Note

I wanted to end the week on a good note, so let me share with you two exciting things.

1.) The bruising on my back has made incredible progress. Check it.

Bruising Progress

Isn’t that a crazy difference in just 5 days (from PO Day 6 to PO Day 11)? It’s practically gone! I’ve been using arnica gel on it a few times a day, as well as been taking Arnica supplements since 1 week before surgery, which is a homeopathic drug that helps with bruising and muscle soreness. Seems like it’s working!

2.) Yesterday, I bought my first ever bikini!

Well, let’s be real. I bought three. When I say first ever, I mean it. I have always been too chubby and more so too self conscious to ever even consider wearing a two piece suit. I remember going through a tankini phase but I would always make sure to buy the ones that overlapped with the bottoms, and even then, it caused that same intense fear of it coming up when I jumped in the pool or moved the wrong way. Not that there’s anything wrong with a one piece, and I’m sure I’ll continue to wear some, but as you know I was feeling a little blue, so I decided to do something to make myself feel better. I headed to Target just to try a few on and see if the incision would be covered slash if I would feel comfortable enough to wear it, and I ended up almost freaking out in the dressing room because not only did they fit and cover the incision, but they actually looked ok!

Bikini 1:

bikini1

Bikini 2

bikini2

Bottom from Bikini 2:

bikini bottom

The scar is TOTALLY covered. (That redness just above the bikini on the left side is irritation from the steri strips that were covering the incision – not the incision itself – so that will go away.

And yes, I still have a lot of stretch marks, and yes, my body is definitely not perfect. But you know what? I am TOTALLY going to rock these bikinis anyway!

Happy Friday!

New Design Coming

Hi guys! I’m in the process of updating my blog design and theme, so it might be a little funky for a bit as I get everything to where I want it. Thanks in advance for bearing with me and see you soon!

Five for Friday

1.) I was in Orlando this week… for one night for work. I got VIP treatment all the way.

photo 1 (6)

It was amazing weather

photo 5 (4)

and I stayed at a beautiful resort

photo 2 (8)

But I am so ready to stop traveling for a bit!

2.) Speaking of not traveling, I am going to Peru on June 21! When I first booked the trip, it felt SO far away, but now it’s just over a month away! Within the last few weeks, Stacy (my travel buddy) and I have booked everything we need to – including our internal flights in Peru, a 6 night/7 day Amazon Jungle Tour (!!!), and all our accommodations outside of the tour (hostels in Lima and Cusco and an apartment in Cusco for 5 days after the jungle tour). It feels so good to have all those details taken care of!

3.) I had my third (and final!) consult with a plastic surgeon last Thursday, and I cannot believe what a hard decision it is to pick a surgeon! I’ve been going so back and forth between the first and third, but think I am getting very close to making a decision. It feels so adult – I almost wish I could call my mom and make her choose for me. That said, hopefully I will finalize everything in the next week or so and set a surgery date. I’ll be posting about my consults and background research into tummy tucks in the next week, so stay tuned!

4.) I haven’t been counting WW Points for a few weeks now. I’ve actually been maintaining my weight and losing a little (still am a daily weigher), which makes me feel like I am getting closer to being able to eat intuitively. I do still want to lose a few more pounds before said surgery, so I know I need to get back to counting sooner rather than later, but for right now I’m enjoying the break.

5.) This is the first weekend in I can’t remember how long where I have no set in stone plans, and I could not be more excited.

Take Three

Thank you SO MUCH for your supportive comments on yesterday’s post announcing my decision to move forward with plastic surgery on my abdomen. It was a little terrifying to write, but also oddly freeing to put it all out there. You guys are the best.

Personal accounts of the process were one of the main things that helped me make this decision, and unfortunately it’s a very under discussed topic, so I am happy to be able to contribute another first hand account of it all for people contemplating the procedure. I plan to document much of the process of going through the entire procedure from start to finish. This will include everything from the consultations, to the preparation, to the procedure itself, to the recovery. And really, please feel free to let me know if you have any specific questions. Nothing is off limits.

And in other news – I am really trying hard to get myself back to my goal weight prior to moving forward with surgery for the best results. Because of that (and many requests from you guys!), I’m hosting another DietBet for May which will start Monday, May 6, and will run through June 2!

DietBet3

For a description of how it works, you can read this post, but basically, everyone pays $25 to play and has the same goal of losing 4% of their starting weight during the 4 weeks that the game runs. Everyone who hits that goal splits the total pot, so in theory you will make back your money if you hit the 4% goal, and likely more than $25 because not everyone will hit it (like yours truly in Round 2). For Round 1, everyone who hit 4% got paid $43.25 and results are still being calculated for Round 2 so I don’t have the exact figures yet.

Hope to see you over at Beth’s Journey DietBet: Take 3!

How to Help: Boston Marathon Tragedy

I was planning to come and update you all on what’s been going on in my life lately, but in light of the horrific tragedy that took place in Boston this afternoon, it seems inappropriate to discuss anything else.

It’s not only devastating that so many innocent people were deeply affected during a day that would surely be the highlight of many of their lives otherwise, but it’s also tragic how the spirit of the day and the race was changed so drastically. Races are a time when runners come together, supported on the sidelines by runners and non-runners alike, and the amount of energy, comradery, and excitement that surrounds the race is unlike anything else. It’s so sad that someone intentionally robbed that uplifting spirit from those involved, and instilled fear in so many beyond those in Boston today.

Mr. Rogers

Here is a list of some concrete ways that we can all come together to help in the aftermath of this terrible tragedy:

    • Reach out with tips by calling 800-494-TIPS.
    • Donate blood in the future. The Red Cross has said the shelves are stocked to capacity at the moment, but to schedule a time to donate to make sure there is enough going forward.
    • Offer housing to those displaced from the tragedy if you are local to Boston.
    • The Salvation Army is offering food, beverages and crisis counseling to survivors and first responders. Find out how you can get involved here.

My heart goes out to everyone and their families who were affected today.

Here is a link to an article from the Washington Post that’s worth a read.

And another one from the New Yorker.

The Results Are In

Round 1 of the Beth’s Journey DietBet ended this past Sunday, and the results are in!

dietbet

The numbers are as follows:

    • 405 players
    • $25 buy in, so $10,125 total pot
    • 2,554 total pounds lost
    • 6.2 pounds per person on average
    • 199 players hit the 4% goal
    • $43.25 was paid to each of those who made the goal

I am so excited with these results! It’s insane to think that over 2,500 pounds were lost in just those 4 weeks. I think the money aspect keeps people a little more dedicated than they would be otherwise, and I absolutely LOVED how supportive the conversation in the game was. People would share their meals, photos, struggles and frustrations, and get tons of support from everyone else in the group. I also think it’s very telling that 6.2 pounds was the average loss per person – that is a HUGE number for 4 weeks! So even people who didn’t hit the 4% still made a lot of progress, which is really exciting. It added a new level of community to weight loss, and I loved organizing and participating in the game.

dietbet2

Today marks the start of Round 2 of the Beth’s Journey DietBet. Head over to http://www.dietbet.com/bethsjourney to sign up to participate if you’re interested! It runs through April 30 (4 weeks from today) and everyone who signs up will aim to lose 4% of their starting weight. Starting and ending are verified by DietBet staff, though you can weigh in unofficially as often as you’d like during those 4 weeks. The buy-in is $25, and so far there are 186 participants and the pot is at $4,650!

Hope to see you there!

Healthy Lunch Strategies

I am excited to report that yesterday’s presentation went REALLY well. It was supposed to be about 45 minutes but ended up being a little over an hour because everyone was really engaged, asking lots of questions, and contributing ideas. I ran it very much like a Weight Watchers meeting – asking lots of questions, moving around the room, and facilitating more than giving a presentation. I thought I’d share a little overview of what we discussed and see if you guys have any additional ideas to contribute.

Best Bet: Bringing Your Own

It’s only when you make and pack your own food that you truly know what goes into it. A lot of people struggle with having (or making) the time to pack lunch and meal plan, so we came up with a list of ideas to make that easier and streamline the process.

    • Make time to plan your meals on the weekend before you go grocery shopping, or whenever it works for you to fit in.
    • Cook big batches of food and separate into single serving containers right away so you can just grab and go.
    • If you’re making a casserole or soup, double the recipe. Cooking twice as much of the same thing does not take twice the time with prep.
    • Freeze extras that you can’t eat within time (or you might get bored of) so that you have a quick option down the road for a day when you don’t have something in mind.
    • Pack lunch the night before while you’re putting away or making dinner rather than trying to make time to do it during a hectic morning.
    • Bring a lot of food in on a Monday or early in the week if you have a fridge to use. This way you don’t have to bring things in every day and you have a few options to choose from.
    • Make simple foods that you can use in a lot of ways throughout the week. Some examples are a big batch of whole grains, plain grilled chicken, or a pot of beans. If I grill a pound of chicken, I can use it for salads, sandwiches, chicken salad, burritos, tacos, or quesadillas throughout the week so I’m not eating the same thing every day.

Restaurant Surprises

Any idea how many calories are in the tortilla at Chipotle (JUST the wrap)? 290! And 9 grams of fat. So you save almost 300 calories for opting for a burrito bowl over a burrito.

A standard chicken burrito with white rice, black beans, tomato salsa, corn salsa, cheese, sour cream, and lettuce rings in at 1055 calories and 40 grams of fat! If you just hold back on the cheese, sour cream, and tortilla, plus switch the rice from white to brown, you knock it down to 535 calories and 12 grams of fat – almost half! And that’s even having steak instead of chicken.

Another option right by my office is Chop’t, which is one of my favorite places to go. The honey wheat wrap there has even more calories than the one at Chipotle – 300 calories and 8 grams of fat, which is crazy because a lot of people assume that since it’s whole wheat it’s good for you. If you go with a Cobb Salad Wrap with Ranch Dressing there, you’re looking at 1110 calories and 65 grams of fat. If you opt for the Palm Beach Salad with Spa Sesame Dressing, which has avocado, shrimp, and hearts of palm, you’re only looking at 270 calories, 12.5 grams of fat, and a really delicious and healthy lunch.

One other thing that came up is that a lot of people tend to steer towards the vegetarian options on the menu, which can be really good options. But at Potbelly, the vegetarian sandwich is the second worst sandwich for you (after the PB&J) because it has three kinds of cheese plus mushrooms and sauce, so it also isn’t that filling. A lot of times restaurants will load up on cheese and other heavy additions to make up for the lack of meat in those options, so it’s just important to be careful.

Tips for Eating Out for Lunch

    • Look at the menu for the restaurant before you go and pick out what you want.
    • Choose a restaurant that you know has healthy options.
    • Have a few go-to options around you that you know are safe bets. Make sure there’s a variety so you have different ideas when you’re craving different things.
    • Stay hydrated throughout the day so you are eating because you’re hungry and not thirsty.
    • Don’t let yourself get ravenous, because then you’re more likely to overeat and make a worse choice.
    • Realize that not every time we eat out in a celebration. Sometimes it’s just a regular meal. Pick your indulgences wisely.
    • Bring healthy snacks from home to supplement what you buy out – think fruits and veggies!
    • Ask for heavy items on the side so you can control how much goes on them (think cheese, dressings, sour cream, etc)
    • Better yet, bring some condiments you like from home and keep them in your fridge at work if you have one.

The other big takeaway is that lunch is just one meal. I think sometimes we put a ton of pressure on ourselves and feel really disappointed if we overdo it on a meal or get carried away if we’re dining with others, and one meal is NOT going to break your day or your week. If you make a bad choice, just get back on track as soon as you can, and it’ll be alright.

What’s your biggest tip for making sure you bring lunch to work? If you’re not a lunch packer, what’s your biggest tip for making healthy choices while you’re out?

A Sisterly Visit

I always love it when people come to visit me in DC because not only do I get to spend quality time with my visitors, I also get to play tourist in my own city. This rang especially true this past weekend when my sister Wendy and her family came to visit me. They live in Philly now, which is most of the reason that I am there so frequently, but they actually lived in DC when I moved here in 2002 while Wendy went to law school. Crazy that they left almost 9 years ago, and I’m still here!

Remember this little guy?

harper and lincoln

The little man on the bottom is my nephew Harper, who is doing AWESOME if you’ve been following my blog for a while and know the backstory there.

We started the day on Saturday in fullout tourist mode, with a walk around the World War II Memorial, the Lincoln, and the Washington Monument.

washington monument

It was a little chilly in the morning since Harper is up and at ‘em early, but the entire weekend turned out to be perfect weather so we got really lucky!

After walking around the monuments, we headed to the Air and Space Museum since Harper is super into planes, but it was a little disappointing for him since everything was covered with plexiglass and he couldn’t actually touch much. Good luck explaining to a two year old why you can’t “open” all the barriers that were up! The one part he did really like was this exhibit that simulated what it was like to ride a plane way back when. You pushed a button and the ground vibrated and shook, which thank God is not the way planes fly anymore.

After the busy morning, it was family nap time for them, and I actually went out for a really great run since the weather was so awesome. Despite the fact that I should have run 8 or 10 miles, it was better to do 4.5 hilly ones than not go at all!

photo (1)

After showering and visiting the playground close to my apartment, we headed for dinner to Rasika where I literally had one of the best meals of my life. I wasn’t sure how Harper would do, and while it was touch and go for a minute there, we ended up being able to enjoy our meal immensely while he was distracted with not one, but two iPhones. Highlights of the meal included (besides everything we ate. literally.) Palak Chaat, which is deep fried baby spinach leaves with yogurt and date chutney and Sev Batata Puri.

rasika

That dish actually made the list of 40 dishes Washingtonians shouldn’t live without this year and it was AMAZING. I honestly can barely explain it, but it was similar to a cracker on the bottom with chopped potatoes, mango, a crispy garnish, and such a complex sauce on it that I could barely get over how good it was. I have been thinking about that meal nonstop ever since it ended!

After dinner, Wendy and I went out and got a drink with some of my girlfriends, which was fun.

Beth and Wendy

Sunday was a blur of a day since Harper didn’t realize he should sleep in, but we did manage to make it to the zoo in the morning.

KKs at the zoo

It was so funny that the animal Harper took to the most to was a random black crow in a cage off to the side, rather than the lions, zebras, pandas, and other picturesque animals. The crow was cawing (is that a word?) really loud, and each time he did Harper would caw back and just laugh and laugh and laugh. It was so adorable to watch and it made me want them to stay even more! But Harper’s nap time is around noon, so they got on the road back to Philly around then so he could sleep in the car. Weekends always go by waaaaay too fast!

Do you have any siblings? How often do you get to see them?

I have two older sisters and we all live within a 4 hour drive of each other, so I do get to see them quite a bit, but not enough.

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