Healthy, Not Jacked

Every time I start to diet, I get into the same rut. I’ll restrict myself so much that I get sick of what I’m eating and I end up binging. That binge will result in me diving face first into a tub of ice cream, never to be seen again.

What I’m realizing lately is that there needs to be a balance between “I’m going to be so strict with my diet” and “eat all the carbs!”

The biggest problem that I’ve had so far with my “dieting” is that I force myself to eat things I don’t like. It turns out that I really hate eggs. I hate the smell, I hate the texture, and I hate the taste. There are very few things that I can put in eggs to make them taste good, and after forcing myself to eat them for about a year now, I just can’t eat them at all.

I ate eggs because I felt like they were the only breakfast food that was packed with protein. Now that I’ve pretty much sworn off eggs, I’ve been drinking protein shakes for breakfast with yogurt and peanut butter. I’m usually sort of nauseous in the morning, so drinking my breakfast is probably the best option anyway.

I also was eating a ton of plain grilled chicken and vegetables. I like grilled chicken, but it’s by no means my favorite food. Besides being bland, raw chicken freaks me out and slightly overcooked chicken is rubbery and gross. I’m not a bad cook, but I’m also not overly attentive when grilling.

My new solution has been to find alternative protein sources that don’t disgust me as much. Chicken sausage and chicken meatballs have been a pretty solid option, especially because you can buy them precooked from awesome brands like Applegate naturals.

Chicken also started to get kind of played out because I was ordering it in restaurants. Billy doesn’t eat seafood, so I never make it when we eat at home, but I’ve been ordering more fish and shrimp when I go out now to mix up the protein I eat.

The biggest thing that I’ve been trying to do is to not deprive myself, but to not just say “screw it, I’m eating this”. I used to not eat hummus because I felt that it was too high in carbs, and now I basically eat some every day. I also wasn’t eating fruit because it’s high in sugar, but I’ve been buying more lately to get extra fiber and nutrients.

I still eat dessert sometimes, and probably more often than I should, but that’s okay. I was so focused on losing the most weight I could, as fast as I could, as I wasn’t enjoying the process. Every workout was calculated and every meal was selected meticulously.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I won’t have a six pack in two months, or maybe not even ever if I don’t want to. I would rather eat food that tastes good and be in good shape, than eat boring, bland food and be shredded.

KBF

Death by Date Night

Let’s just start with saying that I feel disgusting right now. While clean eating may not always be “fun”, it tends to not come with stomach aches and mental fog.

That being said, I regret nothing. I ate about 2,500 calories at dinner last night and a week’s worth of carbs, but the whole thing was delicious.

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We went to a restaurant in our town that serves exclusively small plates. They come out in sizes a little bit smaller than you would usually find in an appetizer and they recommend getting about two per person. We got 3 per person, and dessert.

The restaurant used to only have ten tables and it was usually impossible to get a reservation unless you called a week in advance because the food was so good. They closed down about six months ago to expand and finally reopened last night! It was possibly the best unexpected surprise a girl could ask for.

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We started off with crispy Thai calamari, which since trying it there months ago, has become one of my all time favorite foods.

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Then came chicken wings, which I tried to take a picture of, but Billy just moves so fast! These had some kind of weird lime sauce that was possibly made with honey. I’m not sure, but they were awesome.

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Then mac and cheese came out. It had orzo pasta, peas, and bacon. I actually just ate out of this container after Billy took some for himself.

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Then we had sliders. These tasted like Christmas. Instead of ketchup, they had a sort of cinnamon flavored tomato jam on top. The burger was perfect, but they weren’t my favorite.

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THESE were both of our favorites. Pork tacos. Apparently I’ve been in a corn taco mood because I got way too excited to see these on the menu. We both agreed that we would come back specifically for these, and only these, for lunch one day.

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Finally, ribs came out. Again, not sure what these were cooked in, but I was super happy with them. They had little garlic chips all over them, which were delicious. I thought they were plantain chips so the expectation/reality gap definitely threw me off, but in a good way. Billy didn’t like these, but I think that he was just too full or crazy because they were delicious. I had two.

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We also ordered chocolate cake, which I did not take a picture of. It had “strawberry salad” on top. It had basil in it. We didn’t like it. I don’t think that we’ve escalated to a level of fancy eating that enables us to eat vegetables on our cake.

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Immediately after leaving, I knew that I was going to be uncomfortable for the rest of the night. I mean, I consumed whole day’s worth of calories in about an hour and twenty minutes. Impressive? Perhaps. Disgusting? Absolutely. 

Going to dinner last night definitely made me remember why I can’t have full blown cheat days. I just end up feeling too sick afterwards, which may be fine for some people, but I photo-1don’t like being uncomfortable.

That doesn’t mean that I think that indulging sometimes is a bad thing, you have to indulge sometimes or you’ll go crazy. But I think indulgence should be something planned, controlled, and completely enjoyed, like a piece of cake at a birthday party or your favorite meal at a restaurant.

The grand re-opening of my favorite restaurant definitely felt like a justified occasion for indulging, but I really think I overdid it. It’s not like the restaurant is closing again any time soon, so I probably didn’t need to order almost half of the menu or finish every thing on every plate. I also probably didn’t need, or really want, the cake.

The best thing to remember after a big cheat meal is that although it was something that you wouldn’t normally do, you have to move on from it quickly. It’s so easy just to fall into that rut of “well I ate bad last night, so screw it! Brioche french toast for all!”. That rut usually results in way more overeating and weigh gain than you had previously planned for.

That’s how I gained all of the weight.

Today I’m going to jump right back into my clean eating habits and do a SERIOUS conditioning work out in my driveway. The sun finally came out after 4 days of threatening rain clouds, so I fully intend on taking advantage of it.

How do you get back on track?

KBF

 

Carboholics Anonymous Made Easy: Recipes and Tips

If you’re anything like me, saying no to bread, pastas, and desserts is one of the hardest things that you’ll ever have to do. There was actually a point in time where I HOPED to develop Celiac’s disease so I physically could not eat those things. Sick, right? I know.

But it actually turns out that it doesn’t have to hurt to give up (read: consume in moderation) these things. There are a ton of delicious ways to change up your carb heavy meals and keep them delicious, actually delicious, not kale chip “delicious”.

Recently, I discovered that I LOVE barbecue. When this passion developed, I have no idea. While barbecue is usually dripping with sauce and just flat out artery clogging, I’ve found a few ways to make it lighter on your heart and the scale.

Hickory Bourbon Pulled Chicken Tacos with Vinegary Slaw

Lets just say, I love these. The only thing that they were MAYBE missing was some chipotle aioli, but they were thoroughly delicious without it. The best part was that it took me probably 5 minutes of active cooking time and just as little clean up time.

Aside from the fact that they’re so easy, they’re also pretty good for you. The Stubbs BBQ sauce only has 40 calories for 2 tablespoons and 8 total carbs. For a while I had been buying Mission Carb Balance tortillas for tacos, but decided to change it up with corn photo-43tortillas instead. These are lower in calories, have less ingredients over all, and just taste better.

Recipe:
Pulled Chicken
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs (you can use breasts too, I just like how these shred)
1 bottle of Stubbs hickory bourbon BBQ sauce

Vinegary Slaw
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 T olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Warm corn tortillas for serving

Place chicken thighs in the slow cooker and cover with BBQ sauce. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours, or until the chicken shreds easily.
Mix cabbage with vinegar and oil and let sit for at least an hour.

If you want to crisp up the corn tortillas to make them even better, add a little butter or coconut oil to a frying pan, slightly wet the tortilla and heat on medium high for about 30 seconds per side. I highly suggest opening a window while doing this if you don’t want to irritate your smoke alarm.

Zucchini Linguine

I love pasta. I have tried every single alternative to the real stuff that you could possibly imagine. Gluten free, Dreamfields, spaghetti squash. With the exception of the Dreamfields, none of the alternatives are as satisfying as the real thing.

Then I came across zucchini linguine. I first had it in a restaurant that prepared it in a really watery sauce so I didn’t really feel the need to make it again. Soggy noodles are gross no matter what they’re made out of apparently.

Then, a few weeks ago, my grandmother called me to say that she bought a container of zucchini linguine from a local farm stand. The best part? She got me my own!photo-42

I had no real plans for how I was going to make it, until I got really hungry yesterday and decided to have it for lunch. I just sauteed it in olive oil in a frying pan until it was hot, then added some left over grilled chicken, spicy tomato sauce (Classico), and sprinkled some feta on top because I was out of parmesan.

It was exactly what I’ve been looking for. Apparently there’s a contraption for making the linguine, so tracking that down is going to be my next project.

Eating cleaner seemed a lot harder in theory than it is in practice. That being said, I have not had a cheat meal in two weeks now, but we are changing that in about an hour. Our favorite restaurant just reopened after being closed for expansion for about six months and tonight is opening night!

KBF

Shakespeare Diet: Update

Since deciding to lose 20 pounds while writing my senior thesis, I’ve had a few set backs, but a ton of success.

While at times colitis is great for weight loss, steroids are not. I haven’t put on a ton of weight from them, but there are definitely days where I’m super puffy from retaining water. The good news is that I’ve been off of them since Thursday and I can already see a difference in my face!

Though I hated the weight gain side effect, the steroids were just what I needed to start feeling better. Now that I’ve been having less stomachaches, getting to the gym and squeezing in home workouts have been easier than its been in months.

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Mini Broccoli Cheddar Frittatas

When we started meal prepping, it just seemed like common sense that breakfast would photo-33have to be made right before we wanted to eat it.

Just the thought of making an omelette and storing it in a plastic container for a few days was repulsive and there didn’t seem like too many other options.

We both were looking for something low-carb (overnight oats were out) with a good amount of protein. Since it’s not realistic to set aside time every morning for delicious omelette making and there’s only so many protein shakes you can drink first thing in the morning, I figured there had to be another solution.

Quiche had been something that we had experimented with before, buying pre-made, organic quiche from health food stores and using them throughout the week. These sometimes got expensive and I still wanted to cut out the pie crust.

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Winter Motivation (Or Lack Thereof)

There is nothing worse than trying to stay in shape in the winter. When it’s cold and snowy, all I want to do is snuggle up with Sheldon and read a book or take a nap. 

While neither of those things get me in shape, I have come to terms with the fact that I will also never be one of those people who is outside running despite what it’s doing outside. For example, the woman who was jogging down a main road during one of the worst snow storms we’ve had this year.

It took me 3 hours to drive a distance that usually would take a half hour, but she was out there with a ski band and thermal leggings. To me, that’s not motivation, that’s just insanity. I mean, aren’t you cold?

Finding time and motivation to exercise has never been a problem for me until recently. Lately, I’ll spend all day thinking about how excited I am to work out, only to decide later that it’s just too cold to move. To top it off, when I’m cold, all I want to do is eat heavy, carb or fat saturated foods that leave me feeling lethargic when I’m done.

Even as I write this, I get annoyed at this mentality. How can I be so motivated some days and other days just allow myself to be overcome by the winter blahs? 

Because I know that I’m pretty unmotivated in these months, I’ve decided to take a step to force myself to get back into it. Starting tomorrow, I will start working out with a trainer at Billy’s gym and start further cleaning up my diet.

Hopefully this gives me some motivation to get back on track!

How do you stay motivated in the cold months?

KBF

Recipe: Chicken Chili

When it’s snowing, there is literally nothing better than soup, chili, or stew.

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Because this winter has been excessively snowy, I have entered into a long term relationship with my CrockPot. (I’m actually convinced that it really is the best thing since sliced bread.) The thing is actually magic. You put whatever ingredients you want in it, put the cover on, come back 8 hours later, and BOOM! Dinner.

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Anyway, I’ve noticed that CrockPots and winter dinners involve a lot of red meat. Now don’t get me wrong, I love red meat just as much as the next recovering vegetarian does, but too much isn’t good either.

Unwilling to break up with my CrockPot, one day I decided to simply replace the ground beef in my chili with chicken thighs. The result was delicious as the chicken falls right off the bone and stays juicy the throughout the entire cooking process. The best part? It requires minimal ingredients, planning, or preparation.

Here’s the recipe:

2 14.5 oz cans of Del Monte Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles

1 can of black beans (I used Trader Joe’s organic)

1 can of red kidney beans (Trader Joe’s organic)photo-23

1 lb of chicken thighs (or two sweet potatoes and some extra beans if you want to go veg!)

Chili Powder to taste

Cinnamon to taste (don’t overdo it, this one will sneak up on you)

Cayenne to taste

Mix all of the ingredients together in a CrockPot and cook on Low for 8 hours.

And there you go! Simple, delicious, and perfect for a cold night!

Enjoy!

KBF

 

Weight Loss Update

Hey everyone, just as promised, here is my progress towards losing a couple pounds that I hadn’t planned on gaining!

Despite a case of food poisoning and a weekend of weddings, I have managed to add activity to my days that wasn’t previously there.

I joined a gym that is requires exactly one minute and 51 seconds of travel time so I can have no excuses to get there for a spin class or an impromptu workout.

In addition to the gym workouts, I’ve realized that Sheldon needs exercise too. So, I got him a brand new snazzy harness and we’ve been taking onphoto-21 the neighborhood as a family.

The biggest thing I’ve done so far is to accept that I can’t be perfect all the time. If I want a scoop of ice cream, I’m going to have one. I’ve realized that cheat days might work for some people, but for me, they tend to turn into cheat weeks.

I’ve also realized that I can’t categorize foods as good and bad in my head or the guilt associated with “bad” foods results in continuous consumption of nutrient lacking foods. Instead, I’ve learned to know what size portions should be and if I’m really craving something than I’ll try to find a healthier substitute or just eat a small amount of it and put the rest away.

As someone who is a huge fan of sweets and carbs, these have been lifesavers for cravings when I just can’t willpower through them:

Jello Sugar Free Pudding

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Swiss Miss No Sugar Added Hot Cocoa

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Dreamfields Pasta

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Eggo Nutrigrain Waffles
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While none of these things should be eaten in excess, they definitely provide the taste you’re looking for without the impact on your diet.

More updates to come!

KBF

Trick or Treat: How Not to Fool Yourself This Halloween

On Halloween, it’s hard not to get tempted by the bowl of candy that’s waiting for the trick-or-treaters. “Just one piece” can easily translate into a mound of empty wrappers and a stomachache.

So many people see this holiday as an excuse to binge on sweets that you might not necessarily eat the rest of the year.

For anyone trying to stay healthy today, Candy-Day can be a bit of a struggle. Especially if you’ve been doing so good for so long.

So how do you avoid packing on the pounds?

Don’t hand out candy you like.

Let’s be honest here. Everyone has a favorite. If you know that you can’t resist eating mass quantities of Reese’s or Snickers, DON’T BUY THEM. Making the active decision to give out your favorite candy is just setting yourself up for disaster.halloween-candy

Let the neighbor kids get the good stuff at a neighbor’s house and instead hand out something that you wouldn’t want to eat.

Choose a candy ahead of time.

No one wants to deprive themselves, and you shouldn’t have to. If you’re at a party where you weren’t in charge of the candy choice, choose one or two ahead of time and only eat those. You can still have the candy you like, and by planning it out, you’ll be less likely to binge.

Don’t keep the leftovers.

Candy, cupcakes, any kind of pumpkin treat should all be removed from the house as soon as the event is over. When the party ends and the trick-or-treaters go home for the night, find ways to get rid of your leftovers. Send extra treats home with friends or bring bags of candy to the office for your coworkers to snack on.

Last night I made pumpkin cupcakes, ate two, then sent the rest to work with Billy this morning for his trainers to eat. If you leave sweets in your house, you will most likely end up eating them unless you possess some kind of inhuman self control.

Be honest with yourself.

There’s no way to lose weight if you lie to yourself about the amount of food you eat. You can hide the wrappers all you want, but you won’t be able to hide the results if you push it too far. Just be honest with you and plan your meals and you can definitely avoid disaster.

It is absolutely possible to have some treats and still stay in shape this Halloween as long as you’re honest with yourself and you take care to plan your day. Be conscious of your goals and everything will fall into place.

Happy Halloween!

KBF 

Thai Coconut Butternut Squash Soup (and Other Variations)

I first tried butternut squash soup on my first date with Billy. 

I was skeptical at first, but soon I learned to love it. It became a staple food in our relationship and we’ve probably tried it in about 10 different restaurants.

One day, I made the decision to try to make the soup. I looked up a few recipes, but I’ve never been all that great at following them. I failed a few times, ending up with soup that was similar to baby food, and I’ve had a few, really great successes.

I’ve found along the way that butternut squash works really well with curry. The flavors compliment each other so nicely that I’ve never actually attempted to make it without the spice.

While I usually make it with just roasted butternut squash, vegetable broth, and spices, I’m trying something new tonight. I got the inspiration for this from a Japanese restaurant that we went to last cheat meal that prepared their soup with coconut milk.

I made a few alterations.

I always roast the squash before cooking it in the broth. It’s not necessary, but roasted squash has a better flavor than microwaved or boiled in my opinion. I usually toss the cut up pieces in olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano, but tonight I used oil, cumin, and curry powder to add some of the taste I wanted. I also added a few carrots for flavor.

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To roast the squash, place cut up squash in a casserole dish, tossed in oil and spices, and bake at 425 degrees for about a half hour. I buy already cut up squash. It’s available in most supermarkets for a similar price to the full squash.

After the squash is roasted, place it in a large pot and cover with vegetable or chicken broth. While shopping in Stop and Shop, I found a chicken broth (College Inn Thai Coconut Curry Chicken Broth) that has coconut, curry, and cumin flavors added. This is what I am using tonight.

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Cover and boil until the vegetables are soft. You can either transfer the soup to a blender, or use an immersion blender to get the smooth consistency. I got an immersion blender last Valentine’s Day and it was honestly one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten. You can buy a good one for about $35 and they’re totally worth it.

After blending, you’ll have the consistency that you want. If the soup is too thick, you can add more broth, condensed milk, heavy cream, or coconut milk to thin it down depending on the taste you are going for.

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In different restaurants, I’ve seen all sorts of different things put on butternut squash soup. Sour cream, feta, edamame, goat cheese (my favorite), and croutons. There are all sorts of options when it comes to topping the soup and they’re all pretty delicious.

Depending on the size of the batch you make, you might have a ton of leftovers. I usually give mine away, but it also freezes incredibly well.

There are so many ways to make this soup your own that I’ve found that some experimenting is often necessary to find your favorite.

The coconut Thai curry butternut squash soup came out awesome. It definitely ranks as a success, and maybe even the best of the successes.

Good luck experimenting and finding your favorite!

Here's the finished product!

Here’s the finished product!

KBF