Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Minor Curveball

I've been working out hard for over a year.  Almost 16 months if we're being technical.  In that time, I've completed 3 rounds of ChaLEAN Extreme, including a hybrid of Turbo Fire and ChaLEAN, 2 Les Mills Pump rounds at 90 days a piece and all sorts of other miscellaneous TOUGH workouts in between.  I've been back at the pool, running, doing yoga at the hothouse and pushing my body to new limits. I've done my best to listen to my body and give it rest when I felt that it needed it. I've taken 2 full recovery weeks in a 16 month period.  When I think about it, that's a lot of go-hard workouts and not a lot of rest. 

I've been having a little twinge in my knee. Genetics are not on my side when it comes to my knees. I've always had a wonky one and this twinge was reminiscent of my old 5,000-yard-a-day pool workouts in highschool but it was nothing too bothersome...until now.  I wanted to ignore it. Ignoring the fact that my body is not as young as it once was seemed easier than actually listening to what it was telling me. I wanted to keep working hard in my workouts. I didn't want something like this to derail me.  Many people that have been overweight and then face an injury can certainly relate to this. When you make a commitment to yourself, and then put in so much hard work to clean up your diet and start getting active, you CAN'T be derailed. The mission MUST go on. My fight against weight gain and obesity is going to be a life-long one and it's scary to face any sort of break in routine. I CANNOT BE DERAILED.  In that same breath, I knew that the doctor appointment needed to happen. At least I would walk away with some answers...and a plan. You know how much I love a plan! 

I had my appointment yesterday and I was nervous. I almost cancelled. I had been resting it, working out more in the pool vs. high impact cardio, lifting more weights and they seemed better. Even still, as I walked up the stairs yesterday, all I could hear was the resounding "crunch, crunch, crunch" of my old-lady knees in the background.  And then I felt relief because it was the day I would have answers. And a plan.  A new plan, but a plan. I was okay with whatever was coming my way.

The appointment was pretty uneventful. They took x-rays.  I was happy not to have to listen to the click of the MRI machine. The crunch of my knees is enough to know that something is going on in there.  The doctor came in (Dr. Golladay, awesome dude by the way!) and we talked about my weight loss, my exercise and my daily routines.  He congratulated me on a job well done and then he started the exam.  It only took a few bends and twists, a little bit of walking and a good study of those x-rays before he knew what was going on.  He asked me if I knew what I had.  I sat there confused, blank stare.  I joked in return that I was there for him to give me some answers not the other way around. Perhaps he could sense I was an educated gal and liked to pre-diagnose myself.  All true, okay, I agree! And then he said it.  Chondromalacia Patella. A fancy name for "the cartilage behind your knee is crab meat." Doctors words, not mine! Basically, it's just  anterior knee pain due to cartilage breakdown or better known as Runner's Knee.  I have 2 wonky knees and genetics that do not favor them.  I overpronate and have long-worn orthotics for this issue. I stopped over the summer and this is likely what has caused me the pain again.

The plan is a simple one, but it involves some adjustments on my part.  I am so thankful that surgery and further MRI' s are not needed at this time. Perhaps down the road we'll go there, but not now and for that I am grateful. This is a fairly common issue in people as they age or those that workout in a high impact capacity for extended periods of time. Rest, ice, ibuprofen and a modified exercise schedule is what was prescribed.  He also surprised me and told me that I need to eat a lot of antioxidants in the form of dark green/blue/red/yellow/orange fruits and vegetables, continue to take my omega/fish oil supplement and keep exercising. All these things are good for the joints (and lucky for me, I'm already doing them!)  High Five to a doctor that turns you to nature's prescription instead of a pharmaceutical one.  I also have to be fitted with new orthotics and I must be diligent about wearing them as much as possible.  I can handle all of that!

The hard part will be my exercise. I'm a Turbo Fire fanatic, I have learned to love running and high impact exercise is something I actually enjoy for the first time in my life. I also love lifting heavy weights. Squats and lunges have begun to sculpt my legs and booty and I don't want to lose that. The good news is that I don't have to quit any of these things completely but I do need to manage them and be more mindful of how my body responds when I exercise.  I've shifted gears a bit and will be focusing more on getting into the pool for my cardio and modify my weight lifting as needed (no deep squats/lunges/leg extensions etc at least for 3 months).  My 5-6 day workout weeks, might shift to 3-4 days instead and THAT'S OKAY.

This would have been a derailment a few years ago. My old self would have freaked out, thrown in the towel, given up and let all of my progress go.  I'm not that person anymore. I made a commitment to this lifestyle 16 months ago, and I'm not throwing in any towels, unless it's a pool towel into the gym hamper. ;)  It's time for me to dig deep and focus on what I can do and not on the things I cannot do.  Easier said than done I'm sure, but I'm ready to continue tackling this knee issue as I get older and maintain my level of activity.  Sometimes life throws us curve balls.  This one is a minor curve ball and I'm taking it in stride and glad that I have some answers.  Time to move forward!

Has anyone here experienced Runner's Knee or anterior knee pain? What was your prognosis?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

How Many Calories...?

It's the eternal burning question. If you've read this blog for any amount of time, you know about my struggles with food.  Or lack thereof.  Or rather, trying to find the correct mix for ME.  I've lost weight in the past by severely depleting my calories.  The old addage that dropping calories to unhealthy lows means you can lose weight is something that I have learned is NOT sustainable.  The problem with taking calories to super lows is that when you start incorporating more calories into your diet, you pile on the fat...FAST.  Not only that, but you are setting your body up for all sorts of problems. Metabolic damage, thyroid dysfunction, fertility problems and other irreversible organ damage. You are also headed straight for periods of binging when you deprive your body of the nutrients it needs to sustain itself.

The point is, if you are trying to lose weight, you HAVE.TO.EAT.THE.FOOD.  :D  Yes, weight loss is a bit of a science, but it's mostly about calories in vs. calories out. Quality matters but I see so many people focused on the quality that they in-turn lack in quantity.  Fuel your body with loads of nutritious food and the weight will drop! 

So, back to the burning question! How many calories do I need to eat to lose weight? I have a simple formula that I use and it's worked wonders for me.  The best part is that this is a sustainable and long-term way to lose weight and keep it off.  The girls in my private Facebook groups can't believe me when I tell them that they need to eat as much as this formula tells them to, but once they do, they almost immediately start losing.  It's a beautiful thing!

Here's the rule: Take your current body weight and multiply x 11 
Then, multiply x 12 and 13.  

For example, a 170 lb woman would need to eat roughly 1870 calories per day to lose a healthy 1-2 lbs a week.  This is if she's moderately active and not under 5'1".  If you are over 250 lbs this formula changes a bit and you can typically get away with body weight x 12-13. On sedentary days or 'no workout day' I eat x 11.  On workout days, I eat x 12. On days that I work out really hard, I eat an extra snack and shoot for body weight x 13-14. Point is, you have to eat to lose.  Period.  

Can you believe it's that simple?? I didn't want to believe it either, but it works. It's a golden formula, I tell you!

A word about tracking calories:  I track my calories on My Fitness Pal.  You can find my profile here. (friend me if you're over there!)  While I love the platform on My Fitness Pal, one thing I have noticed is that it sets calories to unattainable and severely low levels for most people that first sign up.  If you are on MFP and it's telling you to eat 1200 calories a day, PLEASE adjust your goals to be in line with the formula I provided.  I talk to SO many women that work so hard to lose weight and the SIMPLE fix for them is that they just need to eat more food! You may lose initially, but you're much more likely to plateau or stall out if you are not eating enough calories.  The body does not like starvation mode. It's all about finding that perfect balance and I truly believe it lies within this simple calorie formula.

To change your goals in MFP: Go to My Home ->Goals -> and click the green button that says "Change Goals"   Adjust calories to body weight x 11.  Easy Peasy!

If you are trying to lose weight, are your daily calorie goals in line with this formula? If not, how far off are you? 

Now a disclaimer:  I am not a nutritionist or a doctor or anything like that. I'm just sharing what has worked for me. This formula got me to a maintenance weight I am happy with and since then I have slowly upped my caloric intake to get to my maintenance calories. In doing so, I have not gained weight because I protected my metabolism along the journey. This really works! :D

***Having trouble losing weight?? Need some accountability on your weight loss journey?? I run private Facebook groups where we delve deeply into topics just like this one.  I'd love to help you reach your goals! Contact me today :) ***

Black Bean and Rice Soup

Along with Power Chicken I also prepped this delicious soup this week.  My 4 year old gobbled it up and the 1.5 year old loved the beans! Next time I make this, I'm going to double up the spices and add a wee bit of salt after it's done slow cooking.  Either way, this is another soup that is just perfect for the cool weather.  Super easy, super delicious and simple to portion out.  I got 8 servings out of this recipe.  


Black Bean and Rice Soup

1 medium onion, chopped

3 carrots, thinly sliced (or handful of baby carrots)

2 stalks of celery, thinly sliced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce

2 16 oz. cans black beans, drained & rinsed

1 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes

2 14.5 cans reduced sodium chicken broth

1 1/2 cups cooked rice

Combine all ingredients except the rice in Crock-Pot. Cover; cook on Low 8-10 hours, High 3-4 hours) Add cooked rice before serving.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Power Chicken

Today's food prep was flawless! The timing was right on and everything went very smoothly. I was in and out in 2 hours today, although I did prep the brown bread yesterday while I was home with the kids.  They love helping out in the kitchen and I'm happy to allow them to oblige!

One of the meals I prepped today was Power Chicken. I've talked about Power Chicken before as it's a staple meal in our house.  The kids LOVE it! Power Chicken is a complete meal in that it has a healthy dose of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, veggies and plenty of YUM! It's very filling and versatile. Sometimes we have this for lunch, other times it's for dinner! I also just use what I have. Sometimes it's green peppers, other times it's yellow or red.  I didn't have zucchini today so I used celery instead. Just use what you have available to you.  

Many thanks to my coach, mentor and friend, Corinne (& PNP) for this one! I've been making this for years and it never gets old. Also, a big shout-out to Doorganics and Earthkeeper Farm for the broccoli and carrots! These went a LONG way today. Later this week I'll also be sharing a Black Bean & Rice Soup, as well as an Easy Broccoli Pasta dish for the kids!

Power Chicken 

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts  
  • 2.5 cups Brown Rice
  • 2 cups black beans
  • 1⁄2 cup red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1⁄2 cup red or yellow peppers 
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 cup broccoli, chopped
  • 1 cup zucchini, chopped


Heat olive oil, diced red onion, and minced garlic over med-high heat. Add chicken breast and pan-sear. I like to dice my chicken into chunks.
Cook brown rice with water or chicken-broth for added amino acids.
Heat black beans.
Add chopped veggies to chicken. Let veggies soften and absorb flavors from the chicken. Add black beans and cover with brown rice. Mix together over high heat and package for leftovers all week.

Prepped, portioned and ready to eat!
Number of Servings: 6 


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Chunky Turkey and Vegetable Soup

I am continuing this Fall trend and prepping a new soup each week.  Soups are just so easy to whip up. They portion out well, they freeze well and they provide complete nutrition all in one meal. I just finished my lunch and my belly is full! What a perfect meal for this cold Election Tuesday.  This recipe took me less than a half hour to prepare and I was able to yield 6 servings instead of 4.  Give it a try and tell me what you think!

Chunky Turkey and Vegetable Soup (from Skinny Ms.)

  • 1/2 cup brown rice (uncooked)
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 bell pepper (any color), diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of: dried basil, thyme, and black pepper
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (16 oz.) package chicken broth (lower sodium if possible)
  • 1/2 bunch fresh kale, chopped (leaves only, remove stems)
Cook brown rice per package instructions. Set aside.
In a stock pot, cook the turkey with the olive oil and garlic over medium high heat, stirring frequently until browned through. Add in the carrots, celery, bell pepper, and seasonings and sauté together about 5 minutes.
Add in the rest of the ingredients, including the cooked brown rice. Simmer mixture about 10 to 15 minutes, or until veggies have reached desired tenderness, kale has wilted, and soup is warmed through.

Serves 4 (or 6 in my case); Total time: 25 minutes

Monday, November 5, 2012

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

I've been eyeing this recipe for quite some time and finally decided to add it to my Sunday prep.  I didn't want to post about it until I had a chance to eat it myself, and I have to say, it's a winner. In fact, every single recipe of Gina's from Skinnytaste that I've made in the last few months has been fantastic.  I'm adding so many amazing things to my prep rotation and it feels good! With that said, I'll continue to document them here so that I have them available for my own reference as well as referencing to those of you that read here!

I also prepped another soup recipe that I'll be sharing tomorrow.  Looks good, doesn't it?? I love the ease of looking into my refrigerator and deciding which container I will grab for my lunch (or dinner) that day.  Prepping on Sunday takes away the CONSTANT guesswork that I suffered during my earlier weight loss journey years.  Prep is a giant key to a healthy lifestyle and I'm happy to be in that groove and helping you get there as well! 

Okay, so those lasagna rolls...Oh my! Not only were they simple and easy to prepare, they are delicious. They portion out so perfectly that I HAD to try them! I knew the kids would love them as well.  Served alongside a large mixed greens salad with a simple lemon juice, garlic, EVOO dressing and this was just a blissful dinner! My kids gobbled up their roll and the hubs couldn't stop talking about it! So, a winner? YES! Gina also has a few other lasagna roll ideas and she just posted a Mushroom Kale version that you should check out as well! YUM! 

Spinach Lasagna Rolls (from Skinnytaste)
Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 9 Serving Size: 1 roll Old Points: 4 pts Points+: 6 ww pts
Calories: 224.9 • Fat: 5.1 g Fiber: 3.4 g Protein: 13.0 g Carbs: 31.5

  • 9 lasagna noodles, cooked
  • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and completely drained
  • 15 oz fat free ricotta cheese (I like Polly-o)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • 32 oz tomato sauce
  • 9 tbsp (about 3 oz) part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Ladle about 1 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish.
Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out lasagna noodles. Make sure noodles are dry. Take 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture and spread evenly over noodle. Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.
Ladle sauce over the noodles in the baking dish and top each one with 1 tbsp mozzarella cheese. Put foil over baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, or until cheese melts. Makes 9 rolls.
To serve, ladle a little sauce on the plate and top with lasagna roll.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Overnight Slow Cooker Cherry Almond Steel-Cut Oats

The girls in my food tracking accountability group have been prepping this gem.  At the last minute tonight I decided to give it at try. I had (almost everything in the house so why not?!) I did make a few revisions which I've noted in the recipe below.  The house is already smelling delicious.  Time for bed! I can't wait for breakfast :)
Slow Cooker Cherry Almond Steel-Cut Oats
 (revised by me, from the Yummy Life)

  • 3/4 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1 apple, peeled and grated (approx. 1 cup grated); or 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked steel-cut oats
  • 2 tablespoons sucanat
  • 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil, optional 
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Optional garnishes: toasted sliced almonds, maple syrup, additional almond milk or coconut oil
Coat inside of 3-1/2 quart (or larger) slow cooker with cooking spray. Add all ingredients (except optional toppings) to slow cooker. Stir, cover, and cook on low for 7 hours. Spoon oatmeal into bowls; add optional toppings, if desired. Store leftovers in refrigerator. Freezes well.

To reheat single servings: Put 1-cup cooked oatmeal in microwave proof bowl. Add 1/3 cup almond milk. Microwave on high for 1 minute; stir. Continue cooking for another minute, or until hot.

Recipe can be doubled in 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Increase cooking time 1 hour.