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.

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!


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:

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.

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.

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.


Bullying Won’t Make Anyone Skinny

After I wrote the post about the Thigh Gap, I’ve been getting some interesting feedback.

Some people think it’s awesome and empowering, while others think it’s one of the more offensive things I could have said. While I’m on the path of being called controversial, I’m going to add one more thing. The Thigh Gap post is meant to tell people to love themselves for how they are, but recognize what healthy is and isn’t.

To the people who think I’m “fat-bashing”, that’s the last thing I’m actually doing. Anyone offended by the statements I had made probably aren’t being honest to themselves. Some people want to know why I have the right to say what’s healthy and what isn’t. I probably don’t. I’m not a doctor or a trained professional but I do have a ton of experience with being a girl and with being uncomfortable with what my body looks like.

With that being said, I think it’s important that I share exactly how I got to where I am, and what I’ve gone through to make me feel the way I do.

The first time I was called fat was in the 5th grade. A girl in my class was having a pool party and I was invited. Before the party, a few girls from the class were talking about whatstop-bullying-girls-with-words-written-all-over-bodies-jan-12-p112 they were going to wear and what they were going to bring. Somewhere during the conversation, a girl turned to me and said “I hope you’re not going to wear a bikini. That would be disgusting.”

I never showed up to that pool party.

Little jabs like that have been made at me throughout my entire life, as I suspect are made at many other girls. A guy I was dating in high school told me that I should start running to burn off some belly fat to be “pretty”. Girls I was friends with told me to skip the dessert that they were all eating because I shouldn’t have it.

These comments were made despite the fact that I was never excessively overweight. If 5-10 additional pounds inspired these kinds of insults, I’m not sure that I want to know what is being said to people who are more than that.

It’s a well known fact that kids are cruel, but why are they so mean? Well, a lot of times kids are experimenting with what it feels like to be mean to someone else. Bullying other people is a way to make yourself feel better about your own issues. While we often think of bullying as something that kids do, adults can sometimes be worse than children.

I was never athletic as a kid and only started working out and eating healthy during my senior year of high school. For years, I’d avoid gym classes and have Doritos for lunch. Despite these things being true, the negative comments were never what made me lose weight. Accepting who I was did.

Sometimes I feel that people believe that they can encourage change in people if they just break their self esteem down enough. This never works. If you break down someone’s self esteem, they will be less likely to change and more likely to continue down the unhealthy path they’re currently on.

You can’t expect to make fun of someone about something they are already sensitive about and have them make great progress. In a lot of cases, I don’t think people realize that they’re doing this or if they do, they don’t realize that it’s unhelpful.

Every girl I know has had some experience with this. Whether it’s a mother telling you that your outfit isn’t flattering, a boyfriend telling you that your thighs are too fat, or a girl at a pool party telling you to cover up, it’s all hurtful.

The best thing I can say to the girls experiencing these things is to ignore the negativity. While ignoring the negativity is important, it’s even more important to separate what is and is not negative. A negative comment is one that is said specifically to belittle you or to cause offense. However, someone telling you that your weight is unhealthy is not a negative comment, in fact it’s a positive one.

It’s hard to not get offended when someone says something to you about your weight. Our first instinct when confronted about these issues is to immediately get defensive or angry. Honest concerns about being a healthy weight is a hard topic to talk about and is uncomfortable for both parties. If someone cares for you enough to come to you with legitimate concerns, try not to get defensive and really listen to them. They may end up being your best ally and support system.

Do you have someone you need to bring up concerns with? If so, don’t enter the conversation with insults or put downs. Instead, try to start the conversation talking about how much you care and why this issue is important to you. They will be more likely to listen to you if you present it in an unthreatening manner.

If the Thigh Gap article hit too close to home, think about why that is. Are you dealing with body image issues that you’re not entirely comfortable with? If so, take this post as further assistance. I would never purposely break down someone’s self esteem and I’m very conscious in the process of writing these not to do so.

So next time you’re presented with a situation like this, remember that only positive thoughts can lead to change. Take it from someone who did it.


Are You Kidding Me? The Thigh Gap and Other Harmful Messages

This morning, I saw something really troubling. NPR posted an article about the latest diet obsession for teenage girls. It’s called the thigh gap.

The thigh gap exists when your ankles are touching, but your thighs are not. tumblr_md4pm5h8Wm1r4sbk3o1_500Hence, the gap. 

The most troubling fact about the thigh gap is that it’s not the only unhealthy thing out there. When I was in high school, the thing was “pro-ana” or “pro-anorexia” websites. These taught girls how to drop as much weight as possible, how to beat hunger pangs, and to inspire them to keep going with their unhealthy goals.

As a pretty recent Instagrammer, I’ve learned about “thinspo”. Thinspo, or thinsporation, is a spin off of the pro-anorexia websites. These accounts use pictures of extremely thin girls accompanied by quotes about how happy you’ll be once you’ve completed your transformation into a skeleton.

The difference between the pro-anorexia blogs and the Instagram accounts is that Instagram is much more accessible. While you would have to actively seek out a blog about being anorexic, thinspo pops up in a ton of categories on Instagram. So while you might not be looking for Thinspo, it might just show up.

Thinspo in any form is a problem for any girl. You see girls in magazines and on Instagram who look drastically different from yourself and you wonder what you did wrong. These websites glamorize being thin and it’s hard not to want something that just looks so wonderful.

What Thinspo doesn’t show is the pain that these girls go through to achieve these goals. Actively avoiding food or binging and purging is an entirely different kind of pain than diet and exercise. These pictures do an extremely good job at masking this exact pain and avoid showing it for what it really is, an illness.

The desire to be extremely thin, or to have a thigh gap can transform into an obsession. You measure out what you eat and sometimes you out exercise whatever it is you did eat. When girls see these things, they can develop this obsession by trying to be what they think they should be and the result isn’t always good.

Thinspo isn’t where the troubling pictures end however. It seems that lately, girls have been posting images bashing all sorts of body types. There are pictures of overweight girls Rottenecards_772954_hq266t992ystanding next to fit girls with captions like “do it to love yourself”. Who’s to say she doesn’t? There are quotes out there like “Real men like women with curves. Only dogs go for bones.”

What I want to know is when the need to bully other people’s body types got so vicious. Why are we assuming that overweight girls are miserable? And why do we feel the need to compare other girls to bones? It’s a great thing to be proud of your body, but if you feel the need to bash someone else’s then maybe you aren’t as secure as you think.

There are all of these assumptions about what path to take is best for your body. In my opinion, loving your body is what’s best for it. I know that sounds all hippie-dippie camp counselor-y but it’s true. How do you ever expect to be healthy if you can’t accept your body for what it is? We’re all shaped differently and no one should compare themselves to other people.

The important thing to remember when thinking about this is to have a realistic view of exactly what healthy is. No one is going to say an 85 pound girl is healthy, but someone who is overweight or obese often isn’t healthy either. Often, women try to hide behind the title of being “curvy” or “thick” but they fail to recognize that they’re not at the optimal body fat percentage for their frame.

There are tons of wonderful role models out there for women to be healthy and fit and it’s important to recognize who they are. Personally, I love Sophia Vergara and Christina Hendricks. One of my favorite things I saw recently was Sophia Vergara’s commercial foro-CHRISTINA-HENDRICKS-MARRIAGE-570 her clothing line where she says “you can’t draw a woman with straight lines”. I think this is a beautiful statement and it’s one that should not be overlooked, or taken advantage of. Don’t let things like being curvy translate to being overweight and unhealthy.

Thinspo and body bashing aren’t going away any time soon, so we need to start talking about it. There will always be pictures of girls with thigh gaps and toothpick like limbs. There will always be quotes that belittle people who don’t look the same as you do. Body image issues are a big problem in girls and the worst part is that they’re created by other girls.

Instead of bullying other people’s bodies and trying to inspire dangerous habits, we should be joining together to help each other be the healthiest versions of ourselves as we possibly can. We spend all of this time thinking about what other people look like that we don’t ever take the time to think about what WE should look like.

When I saw the thigh gap issue, I immediately thought that it’s important to share the information about healthy body types with other women. It’s so beneficial to explain to our sisters, friends, and daughters that the acceptable body type is the healthy one. Once I started thinking further I realized that there is so much more to talk about. The thigh gap is upsetting and harmful, but so is being dishonest with yourself about what your body looks like.

Now think about whether or not you want to be part of the problem or part of the solution.

Choose wisely.