Lately

October 24, 2012

I’ve been pretty  boring so far this week:

What I’ve been Reading:  This Crazy Vegan Life.  I’m usually a fiction girl, but for some reason during the fall, I tend to skew towards non-fiction books before my love of mysteries takes over during the winter.  Who says seasons only affect our clothing and food choices, eh? 

I like the book so far.  I dabbled in Vegan cooking since this past Easter and unlike the first time I’ve done something like that – this go-round it seems to have stuck. Despite fighting the label of being a Vegan, its pretty clear that my choices have been definitively Vegan.  So after reading a few different books on Vegan and more recently, Macrobiotics – I picked up this book as one that came as highly recommended based on the other books I read and enjoyed.   It is a bit more of a “weight loss” book than a “all about macrobiotics and Vegan lifestyle” book so far – but I like the reinforcement of information about veggies and whole grains, protein etc.  I never quite bought into the idea that vegetarians and vegans couldn’t get enough protein in their diet and its nice to read information that backs me up on that. 

What i’ve been Eating:   In as much as my meals these past few weeks haven’t been photo worthy (read: drag out the DSLR worthy), I feel bad, because they’ve been incredibly tasty and nourishing  – definitely influenced by the books I’ve been reading (The Kind Diet – for like, the 3rd time now, The Hipchick’s Guide to a Macrobiotic Lifestyle and now This Crazy Vegan Life).   What I find most interesting is after focusing on a whole foods based diet with a ton of whole grains and green veggies, beans etc., everything is starting to taste very very good. And the processed foods that I rarely get, are all starting to taste very very salty or rich.  And I can definitely tell when i’ve eaten something that’s heavier than my normal meal.  It really makes me wonder if I’m relearning flavors, or if I’ve always liked the foods i’m cooking now and never prepared them. 

Dinners have been combos of beans, grains and veggies mostly – some soups and chilis, salads and stirfries dabbled in.  I’m trying to listen to what my body is asking for and cook that.  So last night, that looked like some roasted Buttercup Squash, simmered together with some black beans and a side of roasted asparagus, greenbeans and Swiss chard.   The night before it was a simple dinner of spaghetti and bean balls – ala Veganomicon. 

Lunches are mostly leftovers from the night before or whatever else needs eaten up (I love the satisfying feeling of cleaning another dish out from the fridge). I try to make sure I have some whole grains added into this dish, so for today, I cooked up a combo of Millet and Farro after dinner last night to go along with the leftover beans and squash for this afternoon – yum!  As for snacks, I’m trying to get away from the premade stuff and focusing more on things like nuts, dried fruits,  seeds and fresh green beans.

Breakfasts (why’d I go out of order?) I’ve been crushing pretty hard on mixes of quinoa with bulgur wheat, oats or barley lately.  A splash of almond or hemp milk, a few berries, or sliced bananas or raisins and BOOM.  Breakfast.  So satisfying. 

ONE thing that’s been interesting has been my cutting out the caffeine and more recently excess sugar – especially white sugars, etc.  The first week or so of caffeine cutting went pretty well, but the second week (last week) I was definitely foggy all week, a little snippy and a bit headachy.  This week I seem to have surpassed that.  While I won’t say I see things with a lot more clarity yet, I will say that I no longer automatically reach for the Keurig when I wake up in the morning and whats even more interesting is that wheras last week I would immediately turn on the tea kettle, this week the reflex is a lot less “necessary” and sometimes I sit and think “do I even want tea this morning?”.  I do love the cozy feeling of coffee though, especially on a weekend morning – so I did pick up some decaf coffee for when the mood strikes!

As for sugars – its too early to tell yet, but having purposefully avoided it for the last few days, drizzling my breakfast with a touch of maple syrup this morning was almost too much sweetness to handle.  What is going on!?

How i’ve been sweating:  Workouts oh workouts.  Its been a slow and steady climb back up from the black hole I fell into after my half-marathon and 10 miler this past spring/summer.  My body and mind revolted against the idea of another training plan and after a month or so of not-working out and justifying it, I definitely couldn’t justify the feeling like crap part, both physically and about myself.   So I’ve been working hard at doing workouts I want to do and retraining myself to view workouts as part of a healthy lifestyle, not another checkmark on the calendar or training schedule.  Last week that mean 2 days of bodypump and one night of yoga, plus a lot of walking and an easy breezy 5k.  This week, it means Bodypump so far, and last night’s speed interval workout on an incline!  I went with the intentions of walking (my legs have been a tad tired the past few days) the hills, but after awhile, once I was warmed up, I upped the ante’ and sweated out the rest of the session.  It felt great!

I’ve decided to start what I (half jokingly) call “Operation Ka-donk-a-donk”.  I want a nicer butt! 🙂 Girl’s gotta fill out a swim suit somehow, right?!  Which means focusing more on workouts that will ramp up the intensity on my glutes, like incorporating some inclines to my cardio (ahem).  It also means, after squabbling a bit about it for the past 2-3 months, adding in another day of lifting. I love bodypump, but its not necessarily made for building muscle.  So if I want changes, I’ll have to make changes to my routine.  So tonight, I’m sneaking in a lifting session at home with some heavier weights, lower reps before yoga work on some increased muscle tone.

 Happy Book reading for a Blog on Wednesday! 😉

xo

Relevations and Energy Bites

September 12, 2012

Half way there! Itsssssssss Wednesday!

Its been a good, but somewhat tiring first half to the week.  I clicked “submit” on a deadline that a bit of a ball-buster for the first 3 weeks in my new job.  But unlike my last job environment, I haven’t felt much stress as of late.  Which is a bit shocking and new to me, so much so that I tend to find myself trying to make myself believe something negative will happen, etc.  Needless to say, its been quite the learning curve – but I’m slowly starting to realize that I’m in a far more “normal” work environment and that the day –to- day operations here really are just that, day-to-day normal operations.  There are no outrageous expectations, no purposefully diminishing comments or insults.

It all really hit me this morning driving into work.  Certain things can trigger a thought process and for me it was the culmination of a good conversation yesterday afternoon, the purposeful steps to do things for myself and the amazing combo of hot coffee and a chilly morning.

After a fun weekend at home, I had been struggling with a few things that had bothered me a bit.  Namely, an “all in good fun” tease session about my dietary choices.  Its nothing new, I certainly don’t claim to be the only vegetarian/vegan that has had to defend what they do or do not chose to eat.  And honestly, I don’t believe the joking was anything beyond that – although, as my friend so aptly put, there’s usually a small element of truth behind the joking.  A second point that bothered me, was the question of working out “too much” and my weight.  While I won’t get into the teasing, I will share a few of the thoughts that it has brought about, as I said – hitting me all this morning.

My husband, who has had his fair share of explaining to do regarding my decisions (seriously?) says it best, “I just tell them you like how you feel when you eat that way better than before”.   How simple?  Instead of getting into ethical debates or actual health restrictions, he simply lets them know that its how I feel when I eat this way, and something like that is just not up for debate.  He has a remarkable ability to state things in simplicity and I’m also a little impressed that he has so accurately gauged my reasons for eating like I do.   I’ll admit though, to being intrigued at the automatic dismissal of a vegan dish or diet, simply because its Vegan and unfamiliar.

So this morning, with the idea of “because I feel better when I do” in mind, I gave myself permission for a few things.  I gave myself permission to enjoy and pursue a vegan diet because I like how I feel best when I eat this way.   I also gave myself permission to care about and pursue a healthy lifestyle, without having to be training for something.  Let me be the first to say, I am not overweight.  But I find the idea that because I’m not, I shouldn’t have to actively try for a healthy lifestyle, to be disconcerting.  Sure, I’m not aiming for a “goal weight” and I’m not actively training for a race, but I know that there’s a certain pinnacle of health during which I feel my best.  I was there, I’m not anymore.  Why should I have to justify trying to regain that?  So yes, I am conscious of my diet and my exercise levels, but not because I’m counting calories to lose so many pounds, or adding mileage to train for a race, but because healthy is important to me.

Whew, that was a bit heavy, but I think of it sort’ve as a form of self-love.  J  So what are some other things I’m doing to promote this “permission to” idea?  Well:

I’m making time to read for pleasure at HOME. Instead of rushing home, rushing around and doing doing doing, I’m giving myself permission to take a moment and some time to read.

I’m allowing for other forms of cardio beyond running.  When I started running last fall, I was training for races and I think I began to feel like I had to run and if I didn’t go for a run, no other workout would suffice.  If I don’t feel like running, I shouldn’t force myself to, simply because its one of the best forms of cardio.  I still like to run, but now that I’m not training for any races, I’m ready for some amazing views and spending time with my husband while going for hikes, walks or bike rides.    Last night I knew I wanted to get in some form of cardio and was planning for a run, but by the time I got home, I was drained and the thought of getting my legs to move faster than a snail’s pace wasn’t enjoyable.  So instead of throwing in the towel completely, we opted to take advantage of the perfect weather and go for a walk instead.  It was a nice way to relax and still keep moving.

And I’m spending some more time in the kitchen.  Once I stopped thinking that I should be embarrassed about or avoid identifying as a non-strict Vegan, I’ve really started to enjoy exploring new ingredients and flavor combinations.  Like these energy bites from Daily Garnish.

I’ve never worked with dates before this weekend and before, if I didn’t have all the ingredients (like I did this go’round) I would’ve just said “oh that looks good, I wish I could make something like that” and been on my way.  Well.  Not this time.  This time I modified, rolled and ate my little energy bite heart out.

I didn’t have any pumpkin seeds like she called for, but I did have walnuts.  So I threw those in instead.  And for a little oomph,  I added some Chia seeds.  This is dangerous living guys, replacing AND adding to a recipe? Who.a.  The verdict?  These taste like fall or a creamscicle, depending on what you eat them with.   I think I went a little heavy on the vanilla and my dates weren’t of the overly flavorful variety.  Next time, I may add less vanilla and opt for a better product, but overall – I absolutely loved these.  I think they’re a great alternative to a normal bar and endlessly adaptable.  Different nuts/seeds, if you prefer the taste of lemons or limes you could zest that too.  I even could see some shredded carrots or canned pumpkin tasting good too.

So.  My apologies for a wordy and heavy post – but it was a heck of a realization for me.  So why not share?  🙂

Happy half-way point friends!

 

 

xo

Midweek motivation

May 30, 2012

I love me some inspiration when it comes to working out and eating right.  Whether its spending an afternoon trolling the pinterest boards for motivational fitness quotes, my daily reads for lifestyle motivation, cookbooks, you name it.  If its going to get me motivated to be a better version of me, I’m all for it!!

Confession:  I am a sucker for those weight loss inspiration stories you see on all of the magazine and fitness websites.  I love to read about how every day people get their lives back and the stories that go along with it.  Although I’m fairly healthy and in shape, I get a lot of my motivation through stories like these and use them to help push me through slumps in my exercise routine.

Take for instance this article by Self magazine.  Everyday women who decided to change how they were living and finding ways to beat the odds.  If you click through it, this article had some great quotes or tips, like writing a note to your “evening self”, reminding yourself how great you felt after a morning workout as motivation to keep healthy for the rest of the day and for round 2 of those early AM workouts.

I also really liked the statement by one of the interviewees that “the diets were working, but I wasn’t”.  Just a simple, but effective reminder that a healthy lifestyle means you keep making the right decisions, even after you reach your goals, so that way you don’t find yourself starting back at ground zero.

As for my own workouts and healthy habits, I was hoping to use this past weekend as a way to reset my mood towards exercising.  Lately the running has been a serious struggle, with the combination of running outside in the heat and hills.   I’m trying to get most of my workout runs in outside, to get used to the humidity and temperatures, not to mention enjoy some of the summer weather we’re starting to get.  After a week of no dedicated cardio, I was ready to try my hand at it again last night.

Workout:

Last night I went for my first run of the week, but with the 90+ temps, I didn’t have a set distance in mind.  Ideally I would’ve gotten in my longer training run, but if the heat proved to be too much, I could always pack it in at 3 miles.  I ended up with a 5.5 mile run, having had it cut short by the storms that were rolling through.  The run started off great and I had a good and consistent 9:30 pace going, which is good for my outdoor pace, especially with the rolling hills.  But somewhere around mile 3.5-4 my legs started to give out and my stomach started to fight back.  I slipped in two walking breaks to recalibrate and sip some water, which I eventually just gave up with and dumped over my head.    Although I was frustrated with the “just about made it” distance and the walking breaks,  I’m trying to walk away from the run looking at the positive of it and some areas that I can focus on for improvement.

–          If I don’t focus on speed, I tend to not fiddle around with my stride as much.  It was semi-enjoyable to just get out there and run, rather than beat a PR time.

–          I got OUT there, and I was motivated to do get out there.   I’m slowly starting to get my training edge back.  My sights are starting to focus on that bucket list marathon.

–          Areas I can focus on?  Revamping the route.   I’m starting to dread different parts of my local haunts when I run, so switching it up may help to spark my interests.  Also, regaining the strength in my core and leg muscles.  Body pump is great for this, but it also has me motivated to get back into some heavier lifting during the week to compliment.

The Eats:

I topped off my healthy night with a nice and lite healthy dinner after my run.  We haven’t been eating as many fresh veggies and fruit that I’d like to for dinner lately, but the good news is that summer is a great time to get that started.  Hellooooo Farmers Market!   For last night’s dinner we had a simple spinach salad with apples, craisins, pumpkin & chia seeds, some Daiya cheese for me (Swiss for the mister) and Lemon poppy seed dressing – with some leftover corn on the cob from the weekend, reheated in the grill pan.  Add some fresh grapes and you have yourself a tasty and fresh dinner, that won’t offset the workout!

That’s my kinda meal.

With an evening like that under my belt, I woke up fresh and ON TIME this morning, for the first time in a long time – ready for the day! Can’t wait to keep it going with healthy snacks (like a tasty green smoothie this afternoon -(Chocolate Almond milk is the BEST) and some yoga in the evening 🙂

Here’s to healthy restarts!

xo

This vs That

May 24, 2012

Ugh.  Well.  This morning has been a morning.

1. running late

2. My strawberry cupcakes are more like…strawberry bread…

3. coffee machine ISN’T working

4. running late

5.  Grab an umbrella, find out later there’s already one in my bag (d’oh).

6.  Dear lady on 83, if your idea of merging is to first stop on the on ramp, then creep out onto the highway, then stop on the highway, all the while managing to almost merge into the ONE CAR that was in the lane for the entire process, go retake your drivers exam. Or stop texting. On second thought – do both.

Lets just say I will not be suffering fools gladly today.  But I’m trying super hard to not let it all get to me.  I’m currently trying to figure out a way to salvage the SECOND round of cupcakes (First round was edible, but not what I wanted or really presentable).  Strawberry Bread Bites has a nice ring to it, or maybe some sort of parfait? Any ideas?

But enough about crummy starts to a Thursday morning, I have my coffee now, so lets talk about breakfasts!

With the warmer temperatures creeping in, i’ve been shifting away from cooked oatmeal in the morning (although you couldn’t pay me to give up my overnight oats!) and into some more summer friendly breakfasts.  I don’t have a lot of time in the morning, so it ends to be something I can shovel into my mouth with a spoon while getting ready for work.  The less hassle and prep the better!

Lately i’ve been embracing two separate breakfasts and thought I’d share and take a peek at the nutritional value of each according to dailyplate.com, to see if I’m getting a decent meal in the morning!  Lets see:

Breakfast #1:  The best darn lookin’ bowl of cereal, ever.

   

Although I used to crave a more elaborate breakfast, I’ve found cereal to be simple and pretty filling if I do it right.  Nix the sugar cereals and add some more fiber with the berries and it turns into a pretty decent breakfast…This week i’ve been using Kashi Autumn Harvest Shredded Wheat, Almond Milk and berries.

Breakfast #2:  Millet/Quinoa bowl with Almond Milk and Berries

I have a rice cooker.  And I love it.  And its way underused.  Back when I was in grad school, one of my favorite ways to make sure I got some semblance of a nutritional meal during the day was to start with a bowl of quinoa and berries.  Millet has been floating around the blogosphere lately as a new and fun grain to try.  So this past week, when I (gasp) ran out of cereal, I decided to turn to my grad school standby, but wanted to make it a little more substantial.  Instead of going the traditional rolled oats route, I took a page from  Jenny’s book and decided to try some Millet.   Mixing and making the two together in my rice cooker resulted in some pretty creamy grains, which were easily broken up by a bit of Almond milk 🙂

In addition to the berries, I also added a drizzle of Maple syrup.  In the end, I’m not really sure it needed it (maybe my tastebuds have changed), but maple syrup is too delicious to pass up 🙂

   

Lets compare, shall we?

Head to head, the cereal seems to have less calories, fat, carbs and sodium,  the Quinoa/Millet breakfast bowl comes out on top for protein and less sugar.

I’ve never directly compared my breakfasts and I think its pretty interesting (and impressive!) that my two go-to breakfasts as of late seem to rate pretty well and so evenly for nutritional value – although disclaimer: I have had no nutritional training.   Based on the values, I’d probably opt for the Millet bowl on days when I have a little more time in the morning, but want to keep fuller for a longer period.

Have you ever compared your breakfasts for nutrition?  What’s your favorite?


xo

Today I have a story for you from one of my best friends (and Bridesmaids!) Heather.  I’ve known her for literally all of my life and am so happy to be a part of this next and healthy phase of her life 🙂   I’ve asked Heather to share her recent experiences with Weight Watchers and how she’s been relearning about food.  Take a read!

I finally decided that I was not healthy where I was in life. I went from being a physically fit 130 lb. 22 year old to a 206.6 lb 27 year old. I started noticing the weight gain when I moved to North Carolina to be with my husband who is in the military. I did not know how to control it. I was sad that I moved away from my family and friends. I found comfort in all the delicious baked goods, and my nightly macaroni and cheese. I did not realize the impact my eating habits had on me until I was at the doctor one day for a fertility appointment. When the doctor told me in a stern voice, you need to lose weight”. Funny thing is he was not the first doctor to tell me that. I have heard that I needed to lose weight about 10 other times in the past 4 years. What took me to listen was trying to have a child and that one doctor who told me in a stern manner.

So my husband and I decided to lose weight together. We needed a program that would cater to both of us in our own ways. We can all say we will watch what we eat and exercise but, that really never happens. So I did some research on Weight Watchers. So we both signed up in February 2012.  I began with 31 daily points and 49 points plus (to be used whenever I wanted). I loved that I can still eat my macaroni and cheese, and my baked goods.  Since February 2012 we have changed a lot of our habits. We now go to a local supermarket every Saturday to pick up our fresh fruit and vegetables for the week. We will also peruse the seafood section for deals. We have been eating grilled shrimp and snow crab legs at least 2 times a month. Chicken is one of the main meats we eat. A salad has become a great lunch. We also measure out our food. Try it one time. Measure out 2 cups of pasta which for me was 11 points. It is actually a lot for me. I never eat 2 cups. But, measuring the food put things in perspective for me.

Fruit and vegetables are your friends on this program. If you are having a craving or feeling hungry have some carrots, celery. If you want a something to dip into it usually 2 tbsp. is a serving size for ranch dressing or other dressings and is 2-4 points depending on the dressing. Sometimes when you are out at a friend’s house or a restaurant you will have to estimate how many points something is.  When I am out to eat and I do not know what the points are for something I will go the safe route and order a house salad with dressing on the side. Then I will order a seasoned chicken dish or a seafood dish. My husband and I always make sure to ask the waiter or waitress for no butter on all the foods. One local steakhouse brushes butter on their steak. That butter on that steak can pack on about 2-4 points that I would rather use on a delicious chocolate pudding cup. When I know where I will be eating out I will go to the restaurant’s website and plan my meal out.

 At night time while watching TV I used to make a box of macaroni and cheese and eat it all. Now I eat plain popcorn or sprinkle it with some butter buds and sea salt. That is usually about 3 points. The macaroni and cheese is about 14-18 points. If I am craving chocolate I have one or two pieces of dove dark chocolates. The weight watchers products are also really tasty. I love the brownies. The Weight Watchers brownies usually take care of my cake craving.

Since being on Weight Watchers I have lost 15 lbs. It comes off about 1-3 lbs a week. So it is not a shock to your body and you keep it off longer. I feel fuller a lot fast, my portion sizes are smaller, I walk a lot faster, and my breathing is better. It was just a better decision to make health wise. 

 

Anyone else have experience with WW?  I’m so proud of Heather for making these changes in her life.  Healthy isn’t always easy – but its totally worth it. 

xo