Sunday, February 26, 2012

Food Prep Sunday!

Who's excited??! I am!

I did all of my shopping on Saturday to set myself up for a beautiful Sunday prep.

On the menu this week:

Pumpkin Spice Protein Pancakes  (startin' off the day right!)

Asian Chicken Slaw w/ Soy Peanut dressing (a lunch treat and easy to prep ahead of time)

Skillet Rotini (because my kids are obsessed.)

Spicy Hot Chicken (boneless chicken breasts, Frank's Red Hot and a packet of Ranch dip.  I thank Corinne for this favorite! We put it on sandwiches, whole wheat tortillas, over potatoes or even rice!)

No-Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Coconut Oil Protein Bars (we all need a healthy snack, right?)

Strawberries, cucumbers, cantaloupe, pineapple, celery, steamed carrots, sweet potato, blueberries and mangoes.  Spicy Hot Chicken, 1 chicken breast for salads, pancakes and granola bars wrapped in foil for for the freezer, Almond Nut Thins in baggies, 8x Asian Slaw and 8x Skillet Rotini    

I usually try to shop based on what's on sale in the produce department. This ensures we are eating well on the cheap! The fruits and veggies I found on sale this week included organic celery hearts, sweet potatoes, pineapple, Cherubs cherry tomatoes, avocados, baby carrots, Rainbow salad (Asian Slaw comes in here!) pears, strawberries, cantaloupe, cucumbers and blueberries. (Peppers are HOT right now! Go get em' even though I didn't include them this week).

Sounds like a lot of food, right? Truth is, we buy most of our food in this department along with meat and eggs from our local farmers.

The only thing I bought that wasn't on sale was the apples (I can't resist those Honeycrisp!) Sale items will vary, but these are the things I know we can fit into our menu for the week.  I also didn't buy everything organic, although that is always my first choice. I have a delivery from Doorganics coming on Tuesday and that usually fills the gaps I'm missing for the week.   Local and/or Organic + Michigan Winter + Budget = Tough.  No lyin'! We just do our best and forget the rest ;) 

Snacks will be Nut Thins, almonds/walnuts, cottage cheese, string cheese, rice cakes + nut butter, homemade granola bars, the occasional Clif Builder or P90X bar, pumpkin seeds, hummus with veggies and my daily Shakeology (aka The Craving Buster!)

When we aren't eating pancakes for breakfast we will sub in eggs and Ezekial english muffins.  I also bought some Boar's Head 42% lower sodium chicken breast for sandwiches.  Lots of easy alternatives!

This picture was taken about halfway through.  Pancakes are ready to be frozen, chicken is roasted and chopped for the Asian Slaw Salad, sweet potato is cooled and chopped, carrots are steamed and Skillet Rotini is ready for the fridge!

Today's prep took about 2.5 hours from start to finish, including my clean up. I did instill the help of my husband to chop the pineapple and the cantaloupe. He's just better at it than I am! ;)

I love the feeling I have when I go to bed on Sunday night ready for a week of working hard and eating well.

Now, off to Disney Live! with my favorite little guy :D

If you have questions or comments about my menus I'd love to hear them!  I'll try and share some recipes throughout the week, but if there is anything you'd like me to post right away I'll be glad to!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Turn Your Cant's Into Can's

My friend (and early morning workout text buddy) Kathy, posted this really great blog post today.  I've been thinking about it all day because I often struggle with those voices of "I can't."  It happens at work, with my kids, with my workouts and with my food struggles.  Those voices are ever present and it's up to us to shut them up!! I'm just going to point you in Kathy's direction because I think her blog post today is worth a read for everyone that struggles. Yes, that means you.  Because Lord knows we all struggle in some aspect of our lives.

My most recent experience with the "I Can't" was my decision to join Team Beachbody as an Independent Coach.  I've met success square in the face. I know that I could be an inspiration and a motivator for my friends, family and even the random stranger.  So, what was holding me back??  The "you'll fail at this" voice.  That's what!

I'm an accounting manager. I leave the sales up to the sales team.  But Beachbody isn't about selling. It's about being a product of the product and I am precisely that.  I've had a great amount of success working out at home with the Beachbody programs (36 pounds and counting!)  I've been drinking Shakeology for almost 7 months and I stand behind it with all of my might. Beachbody's mission is to help others reach their goals and live healthy, fulfilling lives. So why wouldn't I be good at this?? I love to see people moving their lifestyle in a healthy direction. This is not about money for me. This is about watching people change their lives FOREVER.  All it took was a little push from some of my closest friends (including Corinne!) and here I am.

It's been only a few weeks and I'm getting ready to lead an amazing group of women in a March accountability group on Facebook. We will be Marchin' Off The Pounds! Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would have received the response that I have.  So many women are excited and ready to change their lives. This is exciting stuff and proof that those "I cant's" are just a sham. Ultimately, we all know we are capable of more than we think we are.  It's not even about a lack of confidence, because you can be confident in yourself, but that realm of the unknown can be scary.  Taking the LEAP of FAITH into the next level is what is so uncomfortable for many of us.  

I have a challenge for you. Take a leap out of your comfort zone.  At home, in your work, when you're in the checkout line at the grocery store.  See what happens! You might just prove to yourself that you can turn the cant's into can's.

By the way, I forsee a lot of MAGIC in March :)

"Do one thing every day that scares you." --- Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"Fat" Tuesday

For the last few weeks I've been teetering in a weight range that was unfamiliar territory for me.  I haven't been this low on the scale in YEARS, so it's been exciting to weigh in each week.  Normally I weigh in on Mondays, but after a TRX class on Sunday night my muscles were sore! I tend to lay off weighing in after an intense workout like that because our muscles hold onto water as they repair themselves. Throughout my journey I've had a love-hate relationship with the scale. I've tried to lean less on that number as a benchmark of success and focus more on my clothes and the way I feel. Well, today...the scale is a benchmark of success!

This morning I weighed in and couldn't believe my eyes.  It's Fat Tuesday and I'm currently the lowest weight I've been at in at least 5 years.  I'm also in a healthy weight range according to the BMI chart. For so many years, I've been used to being considered obese and overweight.  Not anymore!!

When I committed to changing my life forever back in Mid-July/August, I knew it was going to take a lot of work. I knew it would be hard. I knew I'd want to quit.  But I also knew that this was MY LIFE we were talking about.  And I needed to take my health back once and for all.

I'm proof that with a lot of sweat, tears and PUSHING yourself beyond your old limits that you can make a big difference in your life! :HAPPY DANCE!:

Monday, February 20, 2012

Plan of Action

I talked in my last post about weekly food prep.  While food prep is a large part of my overall 'success equation,' it's not the only thing I do to ensure I am set up for a successful week.  I have to write down my exercise/training schedule!

I'm a visual learner and having it written out on paper helps hold me accountable.  I love Post-It notes because they are compact, STICKY and portable (cue Romy and Michelle!)   You can carry them with you or you can stick them up in a conspicuous spot.  

After I plan out my food for the week I sit down and evaluate what my exercise goals are.  I take out my calendar and look at what we have going on for the week.  "Am I better suited to workout in the morning on Tuesday/Thursday because we have things going on at night on those days?? When will Curtis be working out?? How long is the workout and can I fit it in before picking up the kids after work??" These questions help me organize what will happen on what days.  While some people are 6 day-a-week morning exercisers, I'm finding that easing into it really works.  2-3 morning workouts are what we shoot for right now. 

Next, I contemplate when I will fit a yoga class into my week.  We are members at our local yoga hothouse and I try and get over there at least once a week.  I ask myself, "What day will work best? Will Curtis join me?" Easy enough.  I find the day that works. Today was that day for us. We both had the day off and the availability of our daycare sitter.  So, the kids went to her house and we went to yoga!

This week I'm incorporating some running.  This is my first week of training for the Fifth Third River Bank Run 5k. I have never run a race before, so I figured I better get started early! I've decided to start Couch 2 5k again.  When I left off here in April 2010 I was just completing the program so I'm excited to get started again.

The third component of my plan is Les Mills Pump.  I've been doing the Beachbody programs in single rotation and hybrids since August 1st (Starting with ChaLEAN Extreme, then moving onto Turbo Fire/ChaLEAN and now Pump) Working out in the comfort of my home works for me.  I can get the exercise in while my kids are napping or while they are running around my feet! Sometimes my 3 year old even joins in on the sweat party! 

When I heard that Body Pump from the gym would be available as an in-home program, I jumped at it! I'm in week 7 right now and seeing some really great results.  I am proof that Beachbody's programs WORK! It's one of the reasons I've decided to become an Independent Team Beachbody Coach.  I know firsthand how this company is changing lives and ending the trend of obesity!

Now there you have it! My plan for the week all written out on one small, but powerful little piece of paper.  It's currently on the front of the refrigerator as a constant reminder of the goals I am trying to obtain.

Is there anything you do on weekly basis to set yourself up for a successful week? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Food Prep Sunday!

I've had a lot of people ask me about my food prep process.  In this house prepping our food is a weekly event, usually done on Sunday (shopping on Fri/Sat).  I am a busy Mom of 2, working 40 hours a week and most nights I just simply don't have the time to come home and cook a meal from scratch. Our lunches are the same way.  If we don't prep, we don't eat well.  It's as simple as that!

I've had great success with planning and prepping our meals over the weekends.  I've also been fortunate enough to have a super-smart coach and trainer that helps keep me in line.  She's been planning our menus for the last 1.5 months, and with my own tweaks, I'm droppin' fat like it's HOT! :)

I'm always open to new recipe ideas which is why I love sharing with others so much. Maybe you don't know what you're doing?  I'm here to tell you that with a little forethought and some planned time that this process takes the guesswork out of what your meals will look like for the week!

On this weeks menu we have Mexican Lasagna, Meat and Potatoes, Power Chicken, Apple Flax Muffins and Aunt Tilda's Brown Bread.

HERE WE GO! (Moms, this is the point where you tell your husband that he's in charge of the kids for a couple of hours. ;)

Instead of going recipe by recipe I like to start with my fruits and veggies, then move on to my meats and then to the baked goods.  This helps keep a sanitary kitchen as well as an organized brain :)

My first task is to grab the veggies and fruits that need to be chopped for the week. Some are for recipes we are making and others are for eating throughout the week. This week I microwaved 2 sweet potatoes, let them cool and then cut them up for our 9 month old to eat.  I chopped celery, cucumbers, strawberries, pineapple, red peppers, red onion, broccoli and carrots. I rinsed a pile of blueberries and stashed them in their glass home.
Tip: Keep your trashcan close by for those unwanted parts while you're choppin' away!

Veggies chopped and ready for Power Chicken
Next, I move on to the meats.  I had a turkey breast that I wanted to cook in the slow cooker to be used for sandwiches throughout the week. This is a great alternative to deli meats which in many cases are loaded with sodium, nitrates and nitrites.  So, in went the turkey breast along with some Kirkland Organic No-Salt Seasoning mix and a little bit of chicken broth.

Then it was Meat and Potatoes time! I have 2 slow cookers so I had both of them going today. Use your slow cooker! It's a beautiful kitchen tool!

I combined about 1.5 pounds of stew meat, several chopped carrots, red onion wedges and red potatoes along with some steak seasoning and beef stock.  8 hours on low, and BOOM! 5 servings of delicious meat, carrots and potatoes!  This is a healthy option for either lunch or dinner.

BONUS!  I needed red onion for Power Chicken as well.  So, half of the onion was in wedges with the meat and potatoes, and the other half was chopped for Power Chicken (see above) Same thing happened with the red pepper. I chopped a little bit for Power Chicken and cut the rest into strips for Hummus dipping. 

Measuring out my potatoes.  2 small red potatoes is about 175-190 grams. For 5 servings, I added 10 potatoes.

I knew I had 4 lbs of chicken to chop between 2 of my planned recipes (Mexican Lasagna and Power Chicken).  I like to use the kitchen scissors for a lot of this chicken "chopping." It just works best for me, but use a sharp knife if that works best for you.

After pan-searing the chicken I needed for the Mexican Lasagana I assembled that recipe and placed it in the oven.  I cleaned the skillet and moved onto the Power Chicken.  My chicken and veggies were already chopped so it was easy to get going.

Keep in mind that I do a lot of random tasks while the chicken or veggies are searing. I'm making the most of my time spent here.  I bagged portion sizes of walnuts, pumpkin seeds and Blue Almond Nut Thins for snacks while I was "waiting." Use a kitchen scale. Portion sizing is very important.

Then it was onto the baking.  I probably could have just done the Apple Flax Muffins and left the Brown Bread off the list. However my kids love Brown Bread, it's a tried-and-true family recipe so I went for it.

Pretty isn't it??? :)

There you have it.

Strawberries, blueberries, sweet potatoes, red pepper strips, cucumbers, celery.
Pineapple, turkey breast for sandwiches, Power Chicken; bagged Nut Thins, walnuts and pumpkin seeds.
Aunt Tilda's Brown Bread, Apple Flax Muffins, 5x Meat and Potatoes, 6x Mexican Lasagna.  (we already ate 4 servings between the 4 of us today!)

I also have a few items that I didn't prep this week:
We have apples, carrot sticks, sweet peas, spinach/half&half salad mix, pears, bananas, grapefruit, oranges and avocados that I don't prep.  I just grab these and cut, slice or eat when needed.  We also eat a lot of eggs/whites in the morning.  Curtis is great about cooking these up before work!

I'm also a huge fan of buying the frozen steam-in-the-microwave vegetables, as well as Uncle Ben's Whole Grain Brown Ready Rice (90 seconds in the micro!!) Making life simple is the name of my game!

So, how long did it take? I'd say combined time was about 2.5 hours, but if you add in my pre-prep organization time we could be pushing 3 hours. That's from start to clean dishes: 3 HOURS.

3 hours to ensure that your family is eating well all week long.  Priceless!

Other random tips:

If you log your nutrition into a site like My Fitness Pal or Lose It! spend some time on Sunday night and enter the info for the recipes you've found. They'll be in the database forever.

Be flexible! I've prepped a lot of meals here but I will swip-swap what I'll be eating each day.  Just because I prepped a few different things doesn't mean I'll be eating the same exact thing each day. Mix it up!

Buy what's on sale! Many of the coupon deals you see are for highly processed foods. Skip the coupons and instead grab the grocery flyers you see in the newspaper.  Check out what's on sale that week in the produce department.  Build your meals around what is on sale. We have been doing red peppers the last few weeks because they've been on sale.  The winter is tough in Michigan.  I love to eat organic, locally grown if I can, but when that's not possible, just focus on eating WELL.  Use the sales to keep the cost down. 

If you have questions about my meal prep or are interested in recipes, please comment here and I'll be sure to answer!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Where I Left Off...

Or rather, where do I even start?!  I was in the thick of my weight loss and running when I hopped that plane for Denver almost 2 years ago.  I had completed the Couch to 5k program, was down 35+ pounds from November 2009-April 2010.  6 Months.  I was 194.3 pounds then.  I was feeling great about myself and ready to see the mountains and my best friends.

Go here for a quick recap:  ONEDERLAND

During the summer of 2010 I continued to run and drop the weight. We were getting into the groove of eating clean and had joined a community-supported agriculture farm to help us get excited about our new healthy lifestyle.  By the end of August, I was hovering around 185 pounds, in a plateau and frustrated.

Then, it happened. A big surprise.  A positive+ pregnancy test that we were just barely expecting.  It was September 2011.  Charlie was about to turn 2 years old.

Trillium Haven Farm-October 2010 ©Amy Carroll Photography
Charlie's 2 year pictures-barely pregnant with Cecilia (although, I look about 4 months! HA!)

I went into my pregnancy with one goal in mind.  I didn't want to endure gestational diabetes again.  I wanted to stay healthy, to maintain a healthy weight gain and come out of this experience with a healthy baby and a healthy me.

I can still remember the day I found out that I had passed my 3-hour glucose test. YES! I PASSED!  It was a glorious day of celebration and the payoff was tangible now.  All of my hard work prior to getting pregnant really PAID OFF! While weight is not a sole factor in the manifestation of gestational diabetes, it does play a large part.  There is no doubt that my weight loss efforts prior to getting pregnant had a significant role in decreasing my chances of having it again. 

36 Weeks-1 week and 5 days before delivery

While I felt great the day I got pregnant, I knew that I was still obese by all clinical definitions.  Even gaining a healthy amount of weight meant I would put myself back up over 200 pounds. And yes, I gained all 35 pounds back. That hard work before getting pregnant meant I had a healthy pregnancy. No gestational diabetes. And it was ALL worth it. <3

May 7, 2011

God's most precious gift...Cecilia Anne May 7, 2011
The Summer of 2011 was filled with sleepless nights, random meals, frustration, happiness, complication, joy, adjustment, love <3 So much LOVE.  We were in the typical period that you go through after a new baby is born. Survival mode, we call it.  

But by August, both Curtis and I, unhappy with our bodies knew we needed to get back to our goals.

I entered a challenge group on Facebook, started drinking Shakeology (an amazing nutritional shake that has changed my life!), and started working out at home to a Beachbody program called ChaLEAN Extreme. 

90 days later....

19 pounds, 11 inches, 9% body fat, 2 pant sizes

So, where am I today?? Pretty close to where I left off! The big difference is that I didn't get here with a whole bunch of cardio-queen running like before. I got here by lifting heavy weights (yes girls, HEAVY),  kicking my own butt,  Shakeology + Clean Eating and a mix of fun cardio, combined with a huge pile of support from my accountability partners. I could never do this alone!

Now, guess what? I'm not done yet!  I still have a ways to go, but I'm getting there. Slow and steady has always won this race for me and I'm excited to document it here. 


If you got through this entire post, you'll appreciate my short post-script. The last post I wrote before the summer of 2010 'got in the way' was written on May 12, 2010.  

On May 12, 2012, I will run my first 5K race.  The Fifth Third River Bank Run to be more precise.  I'm excited and nervous, but it's time to cue up Couch to 5k again.  This is what the journey is all about. You might yo-yo for many years like I did, but eventually you reach a place of transformation. A place where nothing can touch you and your goals. This is where I am, and I'm happier than ever to be sharing it with the world. <3
Back Where I Left Off...A New Start With a New Foundation

Monday, February 13, 2012

I'm back!

I'm back! With a new blog design, a fresh attitude and many changes in the last ~2 years! When I stopped writing in May of 2010, I had just arrived on a jet plane in Denver and was awaiting a glorious weekend with my girlfriends. I never anticipated that life would get so busy in those days following that I would completely stop writing, but it happened. Time to move onward!

Charlie was 1.5 years old at that point. Walking everywhere, getting into everything and keeping us on our toes.  Now he's almost 3.5 years old, active as ever and a complete joy to our family.  He's growing up to be such a smart and rambunctious little boy.

In May 2011, we welcomed Cecilia to our family.  She's a bright light around here; always laughing, smiling and very much our little lover.  She's such an easy-going baby, which was a pleasant surprise after Charlie showed us he's a true spitfire.  I don't doubt that Cece will show her own spitfire side really soon.  Maybe not until she's 13, but she's got it in her for sure! She's my daughter after all! ;)

We are a very blessed little 4-pack. We truly couldn't be any happier! 

My last weight-loss related post here, had me logging in at 198.3 lbs! I'm so glad to have this log of my weight loss efforts, because it's amazing to see the progress I've made since 2010, even with the addition of another little one to our family. We'll get to that in another post very soon!

For now, this is a welcome party of sorts.  For me and for you, my faithful readers! I'm excited to start sharing here again.  I hope you are as well!

What do you think about the blog redesign??

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Stay Tuned!

It's been way too long since I've written here! (almost 2 years? Really?!)  I've often thought about returning to this place, but I've been busy taking care of 2 beautiful children and writing has subsequently fallen to the bottom of my never-ending list.  Well, not anymore!

This place is getting a beautiful redesign as we speak, and I can't wait for you to all see it and tell me what you think! I have a lot to fill you in on and I'll be doing that soon.

The wonderful gal I'm working with at Smitten Blog Designs is running the test blog right now.  Eek! I'm so excited to get back to the basics and start writing again. 

Stay tuned for the launch!