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

Quit Lying About Your Body

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot about body image and how every woman should love her body just as it is. I’m all for female empowerment and self-love, but the whole “just as it is” part doesn’t sit right with me.

Where is the desire for better in that sentence?

By saying “I love myself just as I am” we cut off an entire part of ourselves that seeks better. If we applied the “just as I am” to other parts of our lives, chances are we would be really disappointed.

Think about it. “I love my career, just as it is”. “I love my house, just as it is”. Chances are we can think of some improvement for both of those things but when it comes to our bodies we’re suddenly the female Mitt Romneys regressing women’s rights back to a pre-suffrage era, and who wants that?

To say that we’re satisfied with our bodies the way the are is basically saying “I am too lazy to fix what I don’t like” but saying it in a way that makes other women not only agree with us, but respect us. It makes gives the impression of “wow, she’s so brave. I wish I could do the same”. Well, why should you have to? Why shouldn’t you want more than you already have? If you wanted to make a certain salary a year or get to a certain level in your company, chances are you would work your ass off to get to it, instead of just saying “I love my life, just the way it is”.

But when it comes to our bodies, most of us are more than satisfied to lust after the bodies of Victoria’s Secret models while claiming “I love my body, just the way it is” and never doing anything about it, all in the name of feminism. Women spend hours every week putting on make-up and picking out clothes, but the second weight comes into the picture, you’re an asshole for suggesting improvement. I think this is the most ridiculous thing ever.

Spending time to improve ourselves, for ourselves, can be the most empowering thing a person can do. The last time I checked, just saying that I was comfortable with my body didn’t make it true, and being truly unhappy about it wasn’t a very empowering feeling.

But looking at the improvements I make in the gym every week is crazy empowering. I feel pride looking in the mirror at abs and muscle cuts and thinking “hey, look what I did!”. That’s what empowerment is. It’s deciding you want something and stopping at nothing to get it. It’s saying “I am going to be the best me I can be” and actually doing something about it.

It’s not slowly putting on weight while saying you’re happy with yourself as you are then getting upset when swimsuit season comes. 

Your body doesn’t have to be your identity, but it can definitely be a part of it. Your weight doesn’t have to define you and it shouldn’t define you. But by refusing to admit that your appearance matters to you, you eliminate the desire to be better and who really wants to stay the same?

KBF

Frequent Meals to Avoid Getting “Hangry”

Yesterday I did a really tough workout. It didn’t feel like it at the time, but today I definitely notice some soreness.

I also learned a really valuable lesson: I can’t eat three meals a day and expect it to be photo-53satisfying. I could eat the perfect amount of calories, but if I ate them in three meals, chances are I’ll feel like I’m starving to death around 8 o’clock.

I’ve always just kind of ate smaller, more frequent meals but yesterday I ate three bigger ones. I had an egg sandwich from the deli in the morning, a burrito bowl with barbacoa and minimal rice from Chipotle, and Italian sausage and pasta salad for dinner.

Not exactly low carb, but not crazy either. 

What really killed my day was the Chipotle. It wasn’t overly high in calories or carbs, but I ate it all in one sitting. During my workout I was already starting to think about how hungry I was and by the time we were leaving Chipotle I was “hangry”.

When we got home, I realized that I had eaten the entirety of my meal without saying a word, or even looking at Billy, who had eaten only half of his to save some for dinner. He’s way better at planning ahead than I am.

So two hours later, when we were both hungry again, Billy got to eat the rest of his deliciousness and I had nothing. 

I was so hungry by the time I went to my parent’s house to feed Sheldon that I “casually snacked” (read: ate all of) the sausage and pasta salad that I originally wasn’t going to have any of.

pugs love protein

pugs love protein

By the time Game of Thrones came on, I had made up a Hungry Song. 

While some people can definitely eat three meals a day and feel fine, I think my blood sugar drops too much for me to do this. When people say that you should eat as a source of energy, they probably mean “a source of constant energy”.

That doesn’t mean that you have to be constantly walking around eating food, but for me small snacks in between slightly larger meals just feels better. It usually means the difference between overeating and feeling hungry or eating just enough and feeling awesome.

Smaller doesn’t have to mean deprivation. It actually should mean quite the opposite. It’s easy to feel like you’re not trying as hard when you don’t have to think “just finished breakfast! Only 5 more hours until lunch!”. It can also add a ton of variety to your day that wouldn’t otherwise have been there. I loved everything I ate yesterday, but I never truly felt satisfied.

When I had an awesome omelette for breakfast, then get to have a chocolate protein shake two hours later, it’s like I get all of the benefits without all of the willpower. It’s photo-54awesome.

Although yesterday wasn’t perfect, today’s a new day, so I’m going to start off with a high protein breakfast. Egg whites and goat cheese here I come!

What are some of your go-to snacks for in between meals?

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: Extreme Progress is Coming

So the semester ended on a bit of a stressful note, with papers piling up and finals presenting themselves as actual realities, not just scary tasks that may some day happen, somewhat akin to zombie apocalypse and nuclear meltdown.

I continued to do short, 15 minute workouts almost every day in my driveway until about two weeks ago, when I realized that as soon as it gets hot, I’m not going to want to do that anymore. I could say that I want to do outdoor workouts every single day, but the second that it hits 85 degrees with a ton of humidity, I’m going right back inside (or to the beach).

With this in mind, I also admitted to myself that I will never go back to that gym where the women yelled at me. I know that it sounds ridiculous, but I had no interest in continuing in that kind of environment. Also, as somewhat of a gym snob, I couldn’t really imagine going to a place without a TRX and a set of kettlebells for very long, no matter how nice the other members might have been.

I finally made the decision to go back to the gym I used to work at. I stopped going there when I left because I felt awkward seeing former coworkers and I rationalized it by saying that it was too expensive ($50 a month). While the other gym had only been $20 a month, I finally decided that although it was cheap, it wasn’t worth it to settle on a place that I wasn’t completely happy with.

So back to my former gym I went. You have to invest in your health, right?

Going back has turned out to be one of the best decisions that I’ve made in a long time. I’ve gone at least 3 times a week since I’ve joined, usually spending over an hour each time. This is made easier by the fact that I’m done with classes for now, but going back also enabled me to remember why I loved working out so much to begin with.

Here are some highlights:

Spin
Two years ago, I used to go to spin 6 days a week, sometimes more than once in one day. While that wasn’t overly healthy as I was a vegetarian who already wasn’t eating enough, I went because it was fun. I loved the group mentality that made me push harder, but also that I didn’t actually have to interact with anyone and get distracted.

I loved spin so much that for a long time I was going to get certified and start teaching my own classes. When I stopped working at the gym, I stopped going to spin for almost a iStock_000014641916XSmallyear. Last Tuesday I went to a 5:30 (p.m.) Spin with one of my favorite instructors.

There is NOTHING that says “you’re out of shape” quite as loud as your first Spin class in over a year. Sitting in front of me were a group of women my mom’s age, all in matching LuLuLemon tank tops, pedaling way faster and using way more resistance than I was.

At the end of the class, they all cheerfully and gracefully exited the room while I debated crawling to my car. Definitely a wake up call.

Kettlebells
The best part of my new (old) gym is the fact that they have not one, but two sets of kettlebells. When I was in the best shape, I used to be able to swing a 50 lb kettlebell for 8-10 reps and a 35 lb for almost 100. photo-41

Recently, I’ve been using a 15 lb and a 25 lb as my higher rep weights, and 35 lbs for 10. Yesterday, I picked up a 35 lb at the gym and decided to see how many I could comfortably do. I was able to do almost 40 before I had to put it down. If that’s not improvement, I don’t know what is!

Not Weighing Myself
For the past few weeks, I’ve been weighing myself pretty obsessively and getting really upset when the weight stayed the same. I had been blaming the prednisone (which I am back on) and just assuming that it would all come off at once when I stopped.

I finally decided to stop weighing myself a few days ago after Billy pointed out that if I lost 6 pounds of fat and gained 4 pounds of muscle, it would show that I only lost 2 pounds but I would look way different.

So for now, I’m pretty happy with the fact that my clothes fit better and I’m starting to look like my old self again.

Diet
I was in the best shape of my life last summer, but I was only working out with no changes made to my diet. Two weeks ago, I sat down with Billy and we calculated our daily calorie intake as well as our macronutrient percentages.

My current goals are 1650 calories a day with 25% carbs (103 grams), 35% protein (144 grams) and 40% fat (73 grams). My first few days with the lower carb intake were definitely difficult, but as I started to cut out really sugary foods and processed breads, I stopped craving them as much.

I feel like I definitely have more energy without them and my stomach feels a lot better, which may be the prednisone, but I’d like to think it’s my diet. photo-42

The best part is that I still get to have a few Mike and Ikes every night when I take my medicine because I don’t like the taste it leaves in my mouth. All I really want are about 5, which is a quarter of a serving. I can meet my fat loss goals and still eat candy every day? Yes, please.

The lower carb intake has also led me to become a bit more creative with the foods I cook, so I’ll be putting up a ton of recipes really soon.

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