Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dessert... my favorite meal. Ever. Anyone with me?
Then I watched The Biggest Loser and someone said, "treats are OK every once in a while. But they are just that: treats." And then a had an "ah ha!" moment. Thanks for that, BL. We need to "treat treats as treats." Michael Pollan agrees... He said so in Food Rules.
Adam and I would eat dessert almost every night. In fact, we'll still look at each other and say, "what's for dessert?" Instead of having ice cream or cookies, we'll have fruit or yogurt. Or some nights, like last night, I don't even want dessert! Who am I? I've always heard that if you stop eating something regularly, you stop craving it. I guess it's true. Either way, we've made dessert a rare treat for us. Now on the weekend we allow ourselves something sweet. Last week it was an ice cream we found at Whole Foods. I didn't take a picture or write anything down (a very bad blogger, I am!). Next time we get it (which could very well be this weekend), I'll snap a picture!
I'm hoping to attempt one of Lisa's dessert recommendations soon. Anyone else have any guilt-free dessert recipes?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I'm cutting out processed foods. "Why?"

I've had a few people ask me why I'm hopping on the clean-eating bandwagon. And my answer is always the same: "why not?" I don't blame these people for asking. I never really understood it myself. But after I started reading You Are What You Eat I realized how poorly I was truly eating. I never, ever thought that before. I chose skim milk, fat-free products and low-calorie options whenever possible. What I didn't realize was how much of these so-called healthy products I was eating. Then I really started to think about how long my lifestyle has consisted of those products and how often my weight goes up and down. I will never bash the ways I lost weight in the past because they worked for me, even though I put the weight back on. And they work for millions of people (and some of those people can keep the weight off!). But my weight always crept back up. If I stopped writing my foods down or counting the calories, I was doomed. That's when it really hit me. A normal, healthy lifestyle (for me) cannot be one where I have to record every single thing I'm eating. But rather, look at the ingredients on packaged foods (must be 5 or less, or I won't buy it), buy more fruits and veggies and start eating more fish. When you're eating real food, you don't have to measure your servings. It takes less food to make you full. And what's truly amazing? It keeps you full so much longer!
I drink a lot of water. About 64oz+ daily. I don't drink juices and rarely drink alcohol (but red wine is coming back into some of our dinner meals!). I exercise at least 5 days a week, but lately it has been 6-7. I didn't understand why my weight wasn't going any where. Then I started cutting out processed foods and the pounds are slowly melting away.
Yes, I mainly started this to see my weight change, but the more I learn, the more I refuse to put processed foods into my body. (Yikes! Some of those ingredients are scary when you research them!) We ate our grilled chicken plain the other night because we didn't have one thing in the house that we could put on it. Our refrigerator is stocked full of processed ketchup, BBQ sauce, mayo and ranch. I'm hoping to find some items in the grocery store that aren't packed full of ingredients I can't pronounce, but I haven't gotten that far yet. I'd also like to learn how to make some of my own. Any recipes out there?
Bottom line is, I feel so, so good not eating processed food. This is our second week cutting out the foods and it really is only getting easier for us. I'd say we are at about 90% of eating nothing but clean food. I just discovered that lunch meat, LUNCH MEAT, isn't good for you. Well, at least what we were buying wasn't good. Like I said in an earlier post, baby steps for us. If we went in 100%, we'd get discouraged and definitely give up. We're not beating ourselves up right now if we eat something processed that we thought was good for us. Like our yogurts and oatmeal... Again, I thought they were "healthy"... I was wrong. Boo! Thank goodness for other blogs and Barnes and Noble!
I'm going to leave you with this quote that I read somewhere...
Picture from here.
Are you really living every day?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Artificial sweeteners...

I used to be guilty of thinking that if something was sweetened with an artificial sweetener (i.e. Splenda) that it was better for me. Truth is, sugar is sugar. And sugar isn't good for you. This is still a highly controversial topic, but I know that using artificial sweeteners never helped me lose weight. And with that being said, I now avoid them.
I'll leave you with this quote from Food Rules by Michael Pollan.
 For those of you who can't quite see it, it says, "To repeat: Sugar is sugar. And organic sugar is sugar too. As for noncaloric sweeteners such as aspartame or Splenda, research (in both humans and animals) suggest that switching to artificial sweeteners does not lead to weight loss, for reasons not yet well understood. But it may be that deceiving the brain with the reward of sweetness stimulates a craving for even more sweetness."

Monday, January 28, 2013

What I'm reading...

I follow a blog called "100 Days of Real Food"... It's written by a woman named Lisa and, well, she's awesome, y'all. Go check her out, seriously. She doesn't know me or know I'm writing this post, so this is honest to goodness love for another human being and what she does. She and her family took a pledge a couple of  years ago to eat real food for 100 days and they have stuck with it ever since. She's my go-to girl when I have questions or need ideas on foods. Her site is super user-friendly and she goes in-depth on why certain foods are bad or good. She also has children, so she shares their lunches and gives ideas on ways to get kids to eat clean, too. Go say hello!

 Lisa shared that the original book that helped them start their journey was In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. She also listed her other book recommendations for those of us on this journey. From that list, I picked up Food Rules, also by Michael Pollan. Both amazing books that I highly, highly recommend myself. Easy reads that are truly eye-opening. Go pick them up!

Another book that I recommend is You Are What You Eat by Dr. Gillian McKeith. This was actually the first book I bought when starting my journey earlier this month. I'm always carrying at least one of these books with me. They're also either sitting on my coffee table, night stand or kitchen counter. I love learning new things, especially about something so important like the food we're putting into our bodies!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

What's in your cabinet?

About a year ago my good friend, Dana, introduced me to an App called Fooducate* and I was instantly hooked. But at the time, I was hooked because it told me how many points a certain product was. It also gave me a list that showed why the product was good/bad, as well as a letter grade for it. Sort of like being back in school...
But since I've started this clean eating thing, I've been so conscious of what we are putting in our bodies, that this App has become a very good friend. You could call me slightly obsessed. Adam's probably tired of hearing me complain about all of these ingredients that I can't even pronounce.This App has helped me so much, though. And it has truly made me realize how bad, and good, certain foods are.  If you have a smartphone, I beg you to download this App. If nothing, but to see what it's all about and get a little inside info on what you're putting in your body. And trust me, I'm nobody to judge, because for the past 26 years I've been putting these "things" in my body, too. But I beg you... I'm pleading with you... Look at the ingredients in the products you're eating. If you can't pronounce anything in the list, chances are you shouldn't be eating it.
Regular peanut butter, in our cabinet right now, gets a "C." In fact, it says, "One of the worst products in its category." SCARY!

Our BBQ sauce gets a C-. Consider me SHOCKED when I saw that. And guess what the number one ingredient is? High Fructose Corn Syrup. That's a whole other story. And there's a nice red exclamation point telling me that it's highly processed. Yikes, yikes, yikes.
Listen, I'm not only eating lettuce and carrots. In fact, our life hasn't really changed much at all. I buy more real foods or cook with real ingredients. It takes a little longer in the grocery store(s) (I shop at more than one to get the real deal foods), but I know that we're going to go to a wedding or birthday party and eat highly processed cake. And we're going to go out to dinner and eat foods cooked with lots of salt and oils, but if I can change what I'M cooking, buying, eating, then I think I'm making one hell of a smart decision. And let me tell you, my body has honestly never felt better!
*Fooducate didn't pay me, offer me free products or even contact me to write this post. I'm just a lover of this App and wanted to share the goodness with you!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Eating clean...

...or trying our best to cut out processed foods...

Picture from here.
Over the years I've come to learn a lot about myself. I know that when I go into things with huge, unrealistic goals, I normally don't succeed. I also know that when I try to cut things out 100% or start a totally new routine, I fail.
Over the past few years I would say: "I'm going to start running, take classes at the gym and cut out all junk food and alcohol."
Let's get real. A couple of weeks into this new routine, I slowly start to slip back into my old ways and give up. I don't see any progress on the scale or in my clothes and I get frustrated. Happen to anyone else?
So a few months ago when I decided to join Pure Barre, that was all I focused on. Then when the holidays came around, I just didn't want to gain any weight (of course I'd be happy if I still lost weight, but my goal was to not gain any). I gained 3lbs. I wasn't disappointed with myself, though, because if I hadn't have set out to not gain, I would've just given up entirely. Instead, I just ate healthier for the most part. And since I didn't take any Pure Barre classes while I was in Florida, I new I had to really be careful.
Then January came and I was back into my PB routine (thank goodness! I went crazy for those two weeks!) and I decided to really focus on clean eating. Again, I'm not going in full force because I know I'll give up. I know myself and my body enough to do this slowly. I want this to last forever, so I know this needs to be a gradual process. I read the ingredients on everything I buy now. I typically don't buy the item if it has more than 6 ingredients or has anything in it that I've never heard of. Like I said, this is gradual. I know that they say you shouldn't buy something if it has more than 3-5 ingredients, but I'm taking baby steps. In fact, I'm still crawling.
Our breakfast is typically a Trader Joe's yogurt, hard-boiled egg, egg whites or Trader Joe's oatmeal. Let's talk about this oatmeal for a second, shall we? It is so, so delicious! I think there are four or five ingredients total and they're all natural. I was skeptical when I bought it because I need my oatmeal to be sweet. Let me tell you something, it is perfect! Not too sweet, not too plain. It fills me up and is so quick to make. If you have a Trader Joe's near you, I highly suggest you go buy it!

Picture from here.
 The yogurt still has too many ingredients for it to be considered "real food," but it is delicious and I feel that's healthier to eat than some other processed item. Especially because I eat it for dessert most nights in place of those frozen Popsicles or ice cream sandwiches... or cookies or candy or... Well, you get the idea. Yes, the yogurt is that good!
Lunch is typically a sandwich or soup, fruit, string cheese and carrots. Fairly healthy, but the bread and soup still have too many ingredients.
Dinner has always been our healthiest and easiest meal. We do fish, pork, all natural hot dogs, meat balls or hamburgers. Our side is usually whole grain pasta, brown rice, quinoa or baked french fries. And we always have a vegetable. My favorite is brussels sprouts and Adam's is green beans. We also do broccoli, cauliflower and squash.
So what is the point of this post? To tell you not to give up when you're trying to change your health for the better. It's a slow process, but your journey ahead will be long and healthy. Definitely a life that I want to live for myself, my husband and our future children.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

My new obsession!

My love for Pure Barre is indescribable. I took my first class almost three months ago and I have been hooked ever since.
Picture from here
My girl, Ashley Spivey, is the one who got me started. She posted about it on her Instagram account and I was intrigued immediately. I mean, have you seen that girl's body?
I went onto Yelp and did some research on what other people were saying. Most comments were good, but there were a few comments that scared the poop out of me made me a little uneasy. But I put my big girl panties on and signed up for my first class. Just like Yelp said, there were "Buckhead Betties" and a room full of girls who didn't talk to me, but in the end I was there for myself and nobody else.
Picture from here
The class starts with a quick warm up and jumps right into working your arms and abs. Then it switches to thighs, seat and back to abs. After completing each area of the body, you stretch. This is what creates the long, lean muscles... Aka: a ballerina body. I'm not there yet..
I left the class a little disappointed because I didn't feel sore. In fact, I came home and told Adam, "I don't know if I'm going to join because I don't feel as sore as I thought I would." Then I cursed myself. 
I woke up the next morning so sore that I couldn't even sit on the toilet. TMI? Sorry. But my goodness, I hurt in places that have never hurt before. And I loved it! There was something that drew me in. I've joined gyms, kickboxing classes, Zumba and never made a routine out of it. But this, I am totally, 100% in love with. I recommend it to everyone I know and now I'm sharing the wealth with you! Go to their website and find a class near you!
The first month I lost 11.5lbs and 7.5 inches. The second month was during the holidays and I stayed the same. At the end of this month (and every month), I'll be checking in with updates. I do know that I need to add some more cardio in. This class is great because it lifts, tones and burns, but I want to lose more weight while continuing this awesomeness!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A (delicious) healthy snack!

A friend of mine shared a clean and easy way to eat a pomegranate, so I decided to try it out.
1. Fill a mixing bowl halfway with water.
2. Cut the pomegranate in half.
3. Submerge one half, face down, in the water.
4. Break the pomegranate apart underneath the water. The seeds will sink and the pith will float.
5. After breaking both halves (or as many pomegranates as you have total), scoop out the pith, strain the seeds and voila! You have yourself a yummy, healthy snack!
We have this bowl in our refrigerator so that we can have a quick snack ready at our fingertips!
When I posted this on Instagram, another friend commented and said that if you freeze the pomegranate and then cut it, it's just as easy and mess-free. I'll be trying that next time!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year!

How was everyone's holiday? I went missing for the past couple of weeks because, unfortunately, I caught the stomach bug that I mentioned in the last post. Boo. I was sick for two days, worked for one, then headed to Florida for Christmas. Adam is off from school until January 14th and I get two weeks off from work, so we had an eventful break! After Florida, Adam headed to the Northeast to snowboard with his brother, while my best friend, Mandy, came to Atlanta to celebrate the New Year! Now the Christmas decorations are put away, the cookies are in the trash and we're back into the swing of things!
I go back to work tomorrow (double boo!), but I started my routine today. I went to the grocery store and my 12:00pm Pure Barre class. We made a healthy dinner and are slowly getting out of our funk. Anyone else in a post-holiday depression? Please do share, so I don't feel so bad!
Time for New Year's resolutions...
Picture from here.
Last year I decided not to do a "weight loss" resolution and do more of a "better myself" resolution. As for taking care of myself, I could have done better. And as far as becoming a better person, I could have done better. So moral of the story? I need a better resolution. But since I started to tackle my weight and eating habits a few months ago, I decided to continue on with my healthy wifestyle and not call that a resolution. Adam and I came up with one together: Do not eat seconds. If we fill our only plate with the proper portion the first time around, our stomach should be satisfied. It's always mind over matter. We end up eating too much every meal and then are mad at ourselves after.
Mandy and I decided to come up with 30 things we want to do before we turn 30. So far, we only have two things on the list: Go to Italy and buy a pair of Manolo Blahnik heels. So far, so good, no? :) Thank goodness we have four years to fulfill this list. We need some cheaper ideas! I'll be updating the resolutions and 30 things list as new items come up. I like the idea of changing and bettering myself throughout the year, and not just on January 1st.
What are your resolutions?