Monday, January 25, 2016

The Pain is Gone!

Halfway into my second 24 day challenge, I realized joints had stopped hurting! I can't remember how long ago they last hurt. What is different? What fixed it? Do I just have less depression from all this exercise? Is it from getting enough of some random vitamin? Is it caffeine in the Spark making me just feel good? I fear it has something to do with gluten...

With symptoms 1, 2, 3, 5, and 10 that have all gone away during this time that I happen to have not been eating bread, do you think it means something?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Hawaiian haystack dinner for 300 calories!

Tonight's dinner:

I threw the chicken in the crockpot at lunch time with an onion and some sugar free BBQ sauce. When I got home I shredded the chicken and let it soak up all the juices. It needed some salt and garlic powder to get it to taste right. The flavor reminded me of Hawaiian sweet and sour chicken, so I served it over brown rice with pineapple and cooked carrots on top. With steamed asparagus and broccoli on the side, it made a great dinner! The chicken was a little too yummy though, so I had a hard time not taking seconds 😉.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Eating out for under 600 calories

Tonight we went out to eat at Azteca. Mexican food is infamous for being unhealthy, but surprisingly this is my go-to place when I want to eat out while watching what I eat.

Rule 1-refuse the basket of amazing freshly fried chips that they bring to your table without asking. 

Rule 2-ask for water with lemon to drink. For me, the lemon makes it feel like a step above eating at home so I feel less deprived not ordering a drink. 

Rule 3-ask for a nutrition menu! Your guess at what will be best is never what is actually the lowest calories. 

Rule 4-get the rice and beans substituted out for steamed veggies. I LOVE the steamed veggies they serve at Azteca, it's a great mix and cooked just the right amount! And say no to the tortillas, but keep the guacamole, that's healthy fat 👍

So I got the Steak Mexicano. It's grilled steak, green peppers and onions sautéed in zesty Azteca salsa! The PolloMexicano is great too (same thing with chicken). 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Quick chicken curry for 422 calories

Tonight's dinner:
I like to make curry from scratch with fresh garlic and ginger and cilantro, but that takes almost an hour, so I don't do it often! I was excited when I found some curry simmer sauce at Costco that fit into the 24daychallenge because it had no dairy or added sugar or other bad stuff (I think it's even vegan). It's super spicy for me, so I only used a half serving of it. 

It took me less than 15 minutes to put together. I cooked some mushrooms, then added the simmer sauce and canned tomatoes. I used frozen pre-cooked chicken strips because I didn't have time to thaw and cut up some raw chicken, it's a good shortcut that gives me no excuses for not having time or energy to make a good meal. I let it simmer for about 10 minutes, just until the chicken was heated through. Then I stirred in some fresh spinach and cooked it for about a minute.  I cook a batch of brown rice once a week and portion it out into single servings, so I already had that ready. This dinner was so easy that it was ok that no one else in my family wanted any, they had leftovers. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Glazed Salmon dinner for 377 calories

Tonight's dinner: Pan-Seared Salmon with Honey Glaze on a bed of Spinach

I don't remember where this "recipe" came from, but it's super easy and I love it! First put a little salt and pepper on salmon, and put it in a nonstick pan on medium high heat. Turn after 3-5 minutes  and cover until cooked through. While you wait, mix 1tsp honey with 1/4 cup red wine vinegar. Remove Salmon from pan and place it on your bed of spinach. Now add your honey/vinegar to your pan and return to the heat. I think this is called deglazing? Or something like that. It's this magical process where the vinegar dissolves the dripping and scraps in your pan and that completes your glaze with fish oils, and then most of the vinegar evaporates, and then you drizzle it over your fish! And it is a dressing on your spinach at the same time! You just won't believe the great flavor you get from so few ingredients!

With steamed veggies and some leftover rice, I had an awesome dinner!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Salmon dinner for 337 calories

Tonight's dinner:

First: MUSHROOMS! My new favorite addition to a healthy dinner is mushrooms. You don't need to cook them in fat, they sweat as they cook in a frying pan so they don't stick. They add bulk to your meal without adding many calories, and with a little protein and fiber it's a great healthy food!

Now, this is how my family likes fish. Bake at 450 for 17 minutes with lemon pepper on top. I put foil in my baking dish and put the fish in and fold the foil closed making a pouch so the fish doesn't dry out. Easy!

I just can't handle a huge serving of one kind of vegetable, but when I make 2 or 3 (or even 4) kinds I enjoy it a lot more! So tonight I had green beans and yellow squash with my mushrooms. Next time I think I'll have less rice, because I was so full I didn't really need that much (but it was yummy!)

Saturday, January 9, 2016

My Salad

This is what I eat for lunch every day. 

Every time I am with a friend at lunch time I make enough for them, and they say it's amazing!

Here is the breakdown when I started having it:
Eating this for lunch does not leave you feeling deprived!

Now that I'm used to eating healthy and eating less, my salad looks more like this:
I decided I prefer eating nuts on their own as a snack, and I stopped needing so much rice and chicken to feel satisfied. Today I plan to eat Salmon for dinner, which has a lot of fat, so I decided to have a little less dressing. When I plan chicken for dinner I have the full serving of dressing on my salad. 

How do you like to make your salad?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Calorie counting

Last summer I tried using the MyFitnessPal app for calorie counting, and I gained 10 pounds.  Writing down everything I was eating while I was eating it made me stressed out and fixated on food and I ate more and more.  Then I did the Advocare 24 day challenge last fall, where the focus was more on what to eat and what not to eat rather than calories.  During that I kept portion control in mind, but didn't control it carefully.  I think that was a good way to learn it with less stress.  Now that I'm doing the challenge for the second time, I feel like I can handle calorie counting to get better results.

I have learned that the trick is NOT to put your foods in as you're eating them! I feel way less stressed about it by putting everything I plan to eat at the beginning of the day, and then just follow the plan.  When I'm not making the decision when I'm faced with the food, its so much easier to be good! This way I can check that I will have a good balance of fats proteins and carbohydrates for the day, and know if I will be needing more of something.

So the calorie totals for meals in future posts are all screen shots from MyFitnessPal.  If you get the app and start using it, add me as your friend!

Monday, January 4, 2016


For losing weight I needed some extra incentive. Being healthy, feeling better, looking better, and having more energy are all obvious and natural rewards for getting into shape and losing weight. But there are days when I want to eat a doughnut and can easily decide I don't care about those things. An additional reward is needed to get through those days. I've heard of, and tried many times to give myself some kind of incentive like this including a clothing shopping spree, new highlights for my hair, and a vacation. All of these incentives were "when I lose 30 lbs" or when I get to a certain weight. Sometimes I gave myself a deadline, sometimes not. The problem every time has been that I get discouraged because it's so far away, or the deadline is too close and I can't get there in time, and I give up. Even worse, it has made me hold off on doing things I really want to do because I'm saving it for me at my goal weight. This time is different. This time I will get a reward every 2 months no matter how successful I am. I feel like a genius because I have figured out how to give myself rewards that scale, thus eliminating discouragement. 

Every 2 months I will take the number of pounds I have lost and add a zero to it. This is the number of dollars I can spend on a spa day!  So even 4 pounds would be $40 which would get me a
manicure and pedicure or a mini-facial, both great rewards. If I lose more like 20 pounds, that is $200 which would get me a super awesome and relaxing day with a fancy facial and a massage. It's such a great plan because working harder gets me more, but roadblocks and struggles don't put an end to it. 

I've thought a little about how this reward system could work for other people, maybe on a tighter budget. You could reward yourself with time spent on a home facial or manicure and pedicure, 10 or 20 minutes for every pound you lose. Just imagine rewarding yourself by spending 2 whole hours taking care of yourself! Hopefully your significant other will be in on your plan and be supportive by taking care of everything you would normally be doing during that time. Maybe they will even want to contribute by giving you a massage for part of your reward time!  

I had to think long and hard about what thing I always want to do, but I have a hard time treating myself to. Maybe your thing has nothing to do with a spa day or relaxing. Maybe it's buying supplies for your favorite hobby, or going on a fancier or longer date than usual. My advice is just not to make it something you need or want to do regardless of your weight, you don't want to wait to live your life. And my big advice is to have a reward that scales up or down according to your success, life isn't a win or lose game!

2016 FTW

This is what I call my plans for this year (FTW means "for the win"). You may call them "resolutions", or "goals", but it's my plan for losing weight and I'm sticking to it. 

My plan has 3 components:
1. Healthy eating 
2. Cardio
3. Strength training 

For eating healthy, I still can't wrap my head around the "lifestyle" concept. If you tell me I can never eat chocolate again, then I will eat all of the chocolate immediately. But, I am so competitive at heart, that the idea of a "challenge" works for me, I will win all of the challenges. The Advocare 24 day challenge was very doable for me, so I'm thinking that I will do a challenge every month this year, and then take a week break between each to eat the foods I've been missing. This will work well for a few reasons. First, this follows the 80/20 rule I mentioned here, just on a monthly basis instead of a weekly one. Second, when I want and crave a food, writing it down on my "break week" list and knowing I can have it then really helps me move past it. Third, I have found that Spark works really well for me at first, but my body builds up a tolerance so I need to take a break from it to reset its effect.  (Note that you cannot do the herbal cleanse tablets part of the 24 day challenge every month! I don't do that part anyway because it isn't allowed with breastfeeding)

For Cardio, I tried to fit it in last fall, but I didn't make it a priority. This year I plan to do Zumba on every Monday, Friday, and Saturday because those are when they have classes I can get to. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I plan to go to the gym and walk/jog on the treadmills, just 25 minutes for now, followed by some time stretching. It turns out that the kids LOVE playing at the kids club at the gym, so all the time I'm spending there is good for them too!

For strength training, I will continue going to Bootcamp 3 days a week.  On the other days I do it with my friend, we aim for 2 days a week.

That's my plan! What do you think? I have a great reward system figured out, but it's a little long so it got its own post. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

After the challenge

When the 24 day challenge was over, I was actually afraid of going back to my old way of eating. I wanted to keep eating the way I had learned to, and I think that's the point. I scoured the Advocare website for advice, and they recommended the 80/20 rule. Then I had to Google what that meant. The idea is that you eat healthy 80% of the time, and give yourself a break or indulgence 20% of the time. This way you don't feel deprived and desperate for sweets all the time, but most of the time you are eating right. So if you eat 3 meals a day, that's 21 meals per week, so 4 of those meals can be whatever you want and the rest are healthy.

With that in mind, my first 4 meals of the week were indulgences, and the next day I decided that a new week was starting...haha, that's not really what happened, but it was kind of like that. I'm just not organized enough to keep track of it that way. Plus, I'm like a shark smelling blood when I eat sweets! I can refrain just fine if I haven't indulged in a while, but one taste wakes the beast inside and I must eat all of the sugar on the planet. For me, that's what food addiction is all about. There is this feeling of zero self control that eats away at me. If it's an option, I will eat it all!

So, I did my best to stick to the challenge rules, and it went ok for 2 or 3 weeks. Halloween happened, and let's just say there was a shark attack. I tried to recover and keep eating healthy, but I started feeling so burned out, and by December I had given up completely. 

I realized that Spark had been giving me energy and will power, but my body was used to it so it no longer had the full effect. I tried to only drink it on days I felt like I needed an extra kick of energy. It was working so poorly by Christmas time, that I didn't even bother. By December 31 I had gained back half of what I lost on the challenge, putting me back to 265lbs. I spent that night brainstorming a new plan.